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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017 #TopTenTuesday

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today's list is:

Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

I'm going to work backwards from my most recent 
5-star reads to the beginning of the year. Three authors made my list twice!

The Troop by Nick Cutter

The Shining by Stephen King

Beauty and the Beast adapted by Elizabeth Rudnick

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Possess by Gretchen McNeil

The Chosen by J.R. Ward
(Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #15)

The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel
(The Book of Ivy, Book #2)

Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
(Night Huntress, Book #2)

Alice Cooper, Golf Monster by Alice Cooper

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
(The Book of Ivy, Book #1)

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
(Mercy Thompson, Book #3)

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
(Night Huntress, Book #1)

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
(Oz, Book #1)

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
(Kingmaker Chronicles, Book #1)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Unbroken: An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

So, what are your favourite books of 2017? Please let me know in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog post if you are also participating in the meme!

Monday, December 11, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

I'm reading: 

From my dusty bookshelf, and it's a good choice for the 2017 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge!

SERIES: Home Repair is Homicide, Book #5
AUTHOR: Sarah Graves
PUBLICATION DATE: November 27, 2001
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 288 pages
GENRE: Mystery/Cozy Mystery
ISBN: 9780553802283
When Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree plans a visit to Faye Anne Carmody's house, she doesn't expect to find it covered in blood. She also doesn't expect to find Faye Anne dazed, yet alive. But she is. All looks fine, until Jake takes a trip to the butcher's shop, and finds a bunch of meat packages wrapped in brown paper in the display case. Realizing that this is unusual, Jake investigates, only to find Faye Anne's husband's, Merle, body wrapped in those little packages. Then another person is found murdered, and Jake immediately decides that it's up to her to solve the crime, instead of spending time with her family and working on rehabilitating her home. Who can get anything done during the holidays, when there's a killer on the loose?

Not only am I a first generation Canadian, but immigration is my profession. 

PUBLISHER: Caitlin Press
PUBLICATION DATE: February 7, 2017
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 216 pages
GENRE: Nonfiction
ISBN: 9781987915341
Edited by Miriam Matejova, Wherever I Find Myself is a diverse collection of stories about the joys and struggles of immigrant women living in Canada. Often bringing with them the shadow of war and the guilt of leaving, the women in this new anthology expose their emotional pain but also their gratitude for being able to call Canada home. Their stories paint touching and charming portraits of cultural and linguistic misunderstandings, bureaucratic hurdles, attempts to navigate unfamiliar landscapes, and a desire to be accepted despite differences in accent, skin colour, or taste in food. Together they form a mosaic of emotions and world-views that underline the immigrant condition for women.

A yellow dress with ruffles, a kind Grade 1 teacher with a surname that’s difficult to spell, cockroaches in the bathroom, the contempt of strangers, and Whitney Houston on the radio–a Filipino woman recalls her experience as a six-year-old immigrant in a ghetto in Mississauga in the 80s. Browsing through a Polish fashion magazine at a European deli, a woman sees herself in an alternative universe of what her life might have been had she never immigrated to Canada. A same-sex couple moves from Minnesota to Ontario to find refuge for their love, but first they must drive a seventeen-foot truck through a blizzard and make it through the frustrating net of Canadian bureaucracy. In search of her origins, a Jewish woman travels to her birthplace in Passau, Germany. There, among rows of European picturesque houses and foreign tombstones of a Jewish cemetery, she finds no memories, only the shadow of Hitler and the ghosts of her parents.

Through these stories of courage, aloneness, and hope, new and established writers reach out to both immigrants and those whose families long ago ceased to identify with the immigrant label. Through their struggles and, at times, endearingly critical looks at Canada, they remind us that many of our perceived divisions are nothing but artificial creations of mind and that all of us are past, current, or potential immigrants.

I am taking this nine-week course with a group of people, which features DVD Study sessions and a Participant Guide with study questions (homework!) for discussion each week. I'm looking forward to this! I've heard the book is great.

TITLE: Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
PUBLISHER: Zondervan
PUBLICATION DATE: November 2, 1992
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 314 pages
GENRE: Nonfiction, Psychology, Self-Help
ISBN: 9780310585909
Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances -- Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions -- Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others -- Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God's will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator -- Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries, they ask: - Can I set limits and still be a loving person? - What are legitimate boundaries? - What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries? - How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? - Aren't boundaries selfish? - Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves.

Another one from my dusty bookshelf, which I am reading aloud to my younger daughter.

TITLE: Into the Wild
SERIES: Warriors, Book #1
AUTHOR: Erin Hunter
PUBLISHER: Harper Trophy
PUBLICATION DATE: January 6, 2004 (first published 2003)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 288 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy
ISBN: 9780061284205
For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their warrior ancestors. But the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger, and the sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying-- and some deaths are more mysterious than others. In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary house cat named Rusty . . . who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

I'm listening to:

From my review pile.

AUTHOR: Gin Phillips
NARRATOR: Cassandra Campbell
PUBLISHER: Penguin Audio
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 8 hrs and 3 mins
GENRE: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she'll go to protect him.

The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours - the entire scope of the novel - she keeps on running.

Suddenly, mother and son are as trapped as the animals. Joan's intimate knowledge of this place that filled early motherhood with happy diversions - the hidden pathways and under-renovation exhibits, the best spots on the carousel and overstocked snack machines - is all that keeps them a step ahead of danger.

A masterful thrill ride and an exploration of motherhood itself - from its tender moments of grace to its savage power - Fierce Kingdom asks where the boundary is between our animal instinct to survive and our human duty to protect one another. For whom should a mother risk her life?

I just finished:

AUTHOR: Liane Moriarty
NARRATOR: Caroline Lee
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 15 hrs and 56 mins
GENRE: Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Coming July 29, 2014, the new novel from Liane Moriarty, number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Husband's Secret.

"What a wonderful writer - smart, wise, funny." (Anne Lamott)

Pirriwee Public's annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. One parent is dead. The school principal is horrified. As police investigate what appears to have been a tragic accident, signs begin to indicate that this devastating death might have been cold-blooded murder.

In this thought-provoking novel, number-one New York Times best-selling author Liane Moriarty deftly explores the reality of parenting and playground politics, ex-husbands and ex-wives, and fractured families. And in her pitch-perfect way, she shows us the truth about what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these books and, if so, what did you think? Please let me know in the comments and, if you are also participating in this meme, leave me a link to your blog post so that I can stop by!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Stacking The Shelves and Sunday Post

This meme is hosted by Tynga over at Team Tynga's Reviews, which she describes as follows:

"Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!"

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

The countdown is ON! Ten more work days and then I'm on Christmas Break with my kids for some much-needed down time. It won't exactly be a holiday, because I'll have to be checking my work emails on a daily basis and cannot unplug completely, but I'm going to do my best. It's been a pretty stressful time, and I just really need to take care of me for once! Right now, we're all sick with bad colds and wet coughs and I can't afford to miss any work but it's really tough on the immune system when you're working around the clock and not sleeping well to begin with.

I had to switch out my winter tires with the all seasons on my Grand Am that was written off, and I had to do it before Friday or surrender my nearly new winter tires with the vehicle. I was able to get it done, but I'm still not sure whether they will fit my new Kia Forte. My brother thinks the tire itself is probably okay but I may need to buy a different size of rim. That's the least of my worries right now! At least I have my winter tires back. I'll figure out what to do with them when I have a chance to look up the specs.

Our winter has been amazing so far. The temperatures have been pretty mild, and we're not really getting any big dumps of snow yet.

I bought one of Audible's Daily Deals this week:

Jacob T. Marley
by R. William Bennett

Recap: Last Week On The Blog

Sunday: Stacking the Shelves and Sunday Post

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Settings I'd Love To Visit

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Friday Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks

Saturday: Chapter Break November Bookish Bingo Wrap-up Post

What books have you added to your shelves this week? If you are also participating in either of these memes, please leave me the link to your blog post in the comments so that I can come and drool over all your goodies!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Chapter Break November Bookish Bingo: Wrap-up Post @juliecookies @lynnmpoppe

This is my Wrap-up Post for the monthly challenge hosted by Julie & Lynn at Chapter Break.

20/25 SQUARES COMPLETED (with the FREE space)

  1. The Shining by Stephen King (The Shining, Book #1) - Completes 6 squares: Madness, Struggle, Family, In a series, Shelf love, Audio book
  2. Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber - Completes 6 squares: Bad boy actually good, Recent release, Forgiveness, Clean shaven, Dinner/feast, Free book
  3. Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright - Completes 3 squares: Shopping, Purple on the cover, Library book
  4. An Angel for Christmas by Heather Graham - Completes 1 square: Detective
  5. Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks - Completes 1 square: Historical
  6. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - Completes 1 square: Mystery
  7. BOOK SHELFIE: See below - straightened up my younger daughter's bookshelves!

That was fun! Thanks for hosting, Julie & Lynn!

Friday, December 8, 2017

#Book #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks #MarthaBrooks @GroundwoodBooks #CanadianAuthor

AUTHOR: Martha Brooks
PUBLISHER: Groundwood Books
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 208 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780888998286
On the prairies of Canada during World War II, a girl and her two young siblings begin a war of their own. Stricken with tuberculosis, they are admitted to a nearby sanatorium. Teenager Marie Claire is headstrong, angry, and full of stubborn pride. In a new strange land of TB exiles she must "chase the cure," seek privacy where there is none, and witness the slow wasting decline of others. But in this moving novel about fighting a way back to normal life, it is the thing that sets back Marie Claire the most--the demise of her little brother--that also connects her with the person who will be instrumental in helping her recover.

I chose this book because it was written by a local author and the setting is in the area where I live.

The story takes place in the early 1940s in Southern Manitoba. A 25-year-old man named Gérard, who had been living a nomadic lifestyle for the previous six years, arrives on his older brother’s doorstep. Henri takes in his younger brother, and he lives with Henri’s wife, Sylvie, and their three children: Marie-Claire (14 years), Luc (10 years), and Josée (6 years). Several months later, Gérard is diagnosed with tuberculosis. Despite having an infectious disease, he continues to live with Henri’s family because there is a waiting list at the Pembina Hills Tuberculosis Sanitorium. Eventually, a bed becomes available and Gérard goes there for treatment. The following year, all three children become ill and are sent away to the sanitorium.

This story was heartbreaking! I felt so sad for those poor children and what they had to endure. I was surprised to learn of how they treated TB way back then (such as sleeping outside in the cold air), but the writer is accurate based on my own research on the subject. I found it all rather interesting! As a mom, my heart broke for poor Sylvie. I can’t imagine being separated from my children like that.

I really enjoyed this book, and I intend to read more from this local Canadian author.


4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR if you enjoy historical fiction.

This book qualifies as:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

#Book #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for An Angel for Christmas by Heather Graham @heathergraham @HarlequinBooks #HarlequinMira

AUTHOR: Heather Graham
PUBLICATION DATE: October 23, 2012 (first published 2011)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 224 pages
GENRE: Contemporary Romance, Holiday/Christmas
ISBN: 9780778313946
Christmas has never brought out the best in the MacDougal family. Still, year after year they gather together in the Blue Ridge Mountains to try to make the season merry and bright. But this year is an especially strained one, with Shayne's impending divorce, Morwenna's slavish devotion to work and Bobby's reluctance to face what life has to offer. They've never felt less like a family.

Then, in the midst of a sibling shouting match, a mysterious stranger appears. He could be a criminal, a madman—or something far more unexpected. Despite their fears and the growing danger in the dark woods around them, the MacDougals take a leap of faith. But when another stranger arrives on the mountainside, they don't know which of them to believe. One of these men can't be trusted. And one is about to bring Christmas into their hearts.


The story opens with a member of the Virginia Law Enforcement Unit, Gabe Lange, chasing down a criminal named Luke. Gabe gets blindsided by Luke with an attack from behind and, when he wakes, his uniform is missing. It is Christmas Eve, and they are in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

The MacDougal family is meeting up at their cabin in the mountains to celebrate the holidays together. Morwenna works in advertising and marketing, but her passion is drawing. She thought that she’d be able to put her artistic skills to use at work, but her time is spent in the boardroom instead of the drawing table. Her older brother, Shayne, is a doctor who is going through a rough time with his family. His wife, Cindy, was tired of raising the children alone and feeling lonely in their marriage, so they are heading for a divorce. Bobby is the baby of the family, who has a love of music but is afraid to follow his dream and disappoint his parents. The siblings aren’t exactly close, and they squabble quite a bit.

The MacDougals find a man half buried in the snow, who claims to be Gabe Lange. Or is it? The family doesn’t know whether they should trust him or not, because all they have to go on is his word. With the stormy weather, he needs shelter and they take him in. Eventually, Luke appears and claims that he is searching for Gabe to apprehend him. The family doesn’t know who to believe!

This is a little different than your typical “feel-good” Christmas story. I love that it’s centred around one family, and how each character seems to undergo a bit of a metamorphosis as a result of their visitors. They are transformed for the better and the family as a unit is brought together by what takes place and they are reminded of what is important in life.

While it’s not as good as Graham’s A Magical Christmas which I read last year, I still enjoyed it and will continue to read more from this author.


3 stars!! It was good, and I enjoyed it.

This book qualifies as:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @CrownPublishing

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tessa @ Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. Find out more here.

Here is this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

TITLE: The Chalk Man
AUTHOR: C.J. Tudor
PUBLISHER: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 288 pages
GENRE: Mystery, Thriller
ISBN: 9781524760984
The must-read thriller of 2018, this riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending. In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same. In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he's put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead. That's when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago. Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

I love psychological thrillers, and I do like books that alternate between two time periods like this one.

What are you waiting on? Please leave a comment in the section below. If you participate in this meme, please leave a link so I can visit your blog!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bookish Settings I'd Love to Visit #TopTenTuesday

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today's list is:

Bookish Settings I'd Love To Visit

1. I so love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. I want to live in Caldwell, New York with the Brothers at their mansion!! Who wouldn't want to live with all those alpha males?

2. HOGWARTS! Seriously, wouldn't that be the best place to go to school?

3. SCOTLAND: And absolutely in 1743 to meet those Scottish warriors in kilts!!

4. JAPAN: I've always been intrigued by the geisha way and traditions and would love to visit Japan, especially when the Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom!

5. NARNIA! It would be so cool to be with animals that talk and to see magical creatures!

6. THE ISLAND OF GUERNSEY: I so loved this book and fell in love with the Island of Guernsey and the time period!

So, what bookish settings would you love to visit? Please let me know in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog post if you are also participating in the meme!
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