Sunday, February 26, 2023

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Friday, February 17, 2023

Julie's Review: The House of Eve

Author: Sadeqa Johnson
Series: None
Publication Date:  February 7, 2023
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: 
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab

Summary: 1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright. Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his par­ents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done. With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.

Review: Let me begin by saying that Ms. Johnson's 2021 release The Yellow Wife was one of my favorites and I encourage you to go read it if you haven't. The House of Eve focuses on a different time period but yet still highlights the struggles of black women. Eleanor and Ruby are similar in their backgrounds but very different. Eleanor's parents wanted to afford her a higher education so they sacrificed to send her to Howard. Ruby's home life is anything but ideal and she's often shuffled between homes. It is her Aunt that is the one that truly encourages her to try to make the best of herself by taking advantage of the program she's enrolled in. 

Eleanor gets an introduction to black high society while she is at Howard and especially when she begins to date William Pride. Before then she wasn't aware of racism in her own people but now she's too dark to even join the sorority on campus. She is not welcomed by William's inner circle and of course his mother thinks that she's beneath him. It's not easy constantly be in situations where you are ignored because you aren't one of them and it does cause some strife in their relationship at times. 

Ruby does her best to keep her head in the books but it's hard when a young man, Shimmy, keeps pursuing her. Despite her aunt's warning about getting involved with him, she finds herself in trouble. She ends up at a home for pregnant, unwed girls in D.C. What Ruby finds in herself is the strength to get through her current circumstances, finish her circumstances and pursue her dreams. 

I enjoyed the novel but for me it didn't have the same emotional punch as The Yellow Wife but Ms. Johnson does a great job of telling both stories. What I really enjoyed was her afterword because she gives a lot of history/context on black high society, which is super interesting. I can see why Reese Witherspoon chose this as her February 2023 choice, it lends itself to some great conversations. 


Sunday, February 12, 2023

Sunday Skim

Week of 2/5/2023:


Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:

Anyone else like the commercials more than the actual game today? I mean it should be a good one with the top 2 teams in the league playing but I'll probably be reading. 


Friday, February 10, 2023

Julie's Review: The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone

Author: Audry Burges
Series: None
Publication Date:  January 24, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 348
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Magical Realism
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: An absolute delight and a total surprise
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: From her attic in the Arizona mountains, thirty-four-year-old Myra Malone blogs about a dollhouse mansion that captivates thousands of readers worldwide. Myra’s stories have created legions of fans who breathlessly await every blog post, trade photographs of Mansion-modeled rooms, and swap theories about the enigmatic and reclusive author. Myra herself is tethered to the Mansion by mysteries she can’t understand—rooms that appear and disappear overnight, music that plays in its corridors. Across the country, Alex Rakes, the scion of a custom furniture business, encounters two Mansion fans trying to recreate a room. The pair show him the Minuscule Mansion, and Alex is shocked to recognize a reflection of his own life mirrored back to him in minute scale. The room is his own bedroom, and the Mansion is his family’s home, handed down from the grandmother who disappeared mysteriously when Alex was a child. Searching for answers, Alex begins corresponding with Myra. Together, the two unwind the lonely paths of their twin worlds—big and small—and trace the stories that entwine them, setting the stage for a meeting rooted in loss, but defined by love. 

Review: So, when you see one of your favorite authors recommend this book and then a fellow book blogger says not to miss it, you make it your next read. Honestly, The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone seemed like it could be good or could be too whimsical but as you can tell from my rating, it was fantastic! While the summary gives you a glimpse of the story, it is much deeper than that. 

Myra is pretty much a recluse except for her best friend, Gwen, who busted into her life and never left. Her inability to leave the house and the attic with the mansion has a domino affect on her parents, who divorce. Plus her mom develops her own mental health issues that will have a major affect on Myra. Gwen is the one that pushes her to create a blog and share the mansion with the outside world. Of course, neither of them know how this will really change the trajectory of their lives. 

This is where Alex enters the story as someone shows him Myra's blog and the mansion, he can't help but freak out a bit since it looks exactly like the house he's lived in on and off. What he doesn't realize is the memories it holds for himself and his family. This is where we get different points of view, including Willa, Alex's grandmother who is the rightful owner of the true mansion. your

This is a beautifully written story about the choices we make, choices that are made for us and how to fight the past to make your own future. There is a lot of magic in the story but ultimately is about love and the different types. Myra is a wonderful character that grows and changes during the course of the story in order to enable herself to see a different life for herself. I did love how Gwen also pushed her to be more than she was settling for, even if it meant possibly losing her friends in the process. 

I can't wait for Ms. Burges' next novel but I will keep coming back to this one in my head for a long time!


Sunday, February 5, 2023

Sunday Skim

Week of 1/29/2023:


Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:

I am always hesitant when a book comes with a lot of buzz but let me tell you Lessons in Chemistry definitely lives up to the hype. I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook and highly recommend it. 

The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone blew me away. I truly didn't know what to expect and it was delightful but it does deal with some heavy subject. 


Friday, February 3, 2023

Monthly Rewind: January 2023

* Denotes Audiobooks

* The Violin Conspiracy - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The House in the Pines - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Sweet Spot - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
* Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
In the Event of Death - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Liar, Dreamer, Thief - ⭐⭐⭐
Do I Know You - ⭐⭐⭐


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Julie's Review: Code Name Sapphire

Author: Pam Jenoff
Series: None
Publication Date: February 7, 2023
Publisher: Park Row
Pages: 328
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Brave women change the world
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: 1942. Hannah Martel has narrowly escaped Nazi Germany after her fiancĂ© was killed in a pogrom. When her ship bound for America is turned away at port, she has nowhere to go but to her cousin Lily, who lives with her family in Brussels. Fearful for her life, Hannah is desperate to get out of occupied Europe. But with no safe way to leave, she must return to the dangerous underground work she thought she had left behind. Seeking help, Hannah joins the Sapphire Line, a secret resistance network led by a mysterious woman named Micheline and her enigmatic brother Mateo. But when a grave mistake causes Lily’s family to be arrested and slated for deportation to Auschwitz, Hannah finds herself torn between her loyalties. How much is Hannah willing to sacrifice to save the people she loves? Inspired by incredible true stories of courage and sacrifice, Code Name Sapphire is a powerful novel about love, family and the unshakable resilience of women in even the hardest of times.

Review:  Pam Jenoff has done it again with Code Name Sapphire.  This is a book that is a slow burn, it builds steadily to the moment where everything changes. Hannah and Lily are cousins who grew up joining each other for summers with their families. Over the years though they hadn't spoken much, and each gone their own way.  As Hannah needs a place to stay during the war, she goes to Lily in Brussels. This decision will change the course of their lives in the very near future. 

I loved that we got both Lily, Hannah and Micheline's POVs throughout the book: otherwise, I'm not sure it would have been the same story. All 3 of these women are brave but it takes Lily the longest to find her voice and her action. There were definitely times when Lily got on my nerves but in the end she redeemed herself. Micheline makes her life be about the rescue downed airmen but she ends up giving up her life to save a family that isn't hers. 

Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres and I love author notes about the real situation/person that inspired their story. This one has a fantastic background, and the ending of the book is something I will think about for a long time.