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2017-07-24 12:58 pm

A Place to Belong - Nancy Moser & Vonette Bright

Title: A Place to Belong (Sister Circle #4
Author: Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 338 pages
Date read: July 2017

Evelyn Peerbaugh is worried. Once again she has taken in new boarders, but this time she's opened the doors of Peerbaugh Place to women who can't pay a cent for her services. But the bonds of sisterhood are as strong as ever. As Evelyn reaches out to these sisters in need, she discovers that God has a whole new plan for the Sister Circle - and for her. Evelyn could not have predicted the shock in store for her and Piper.


Like with all the others, the book comes across as naive and too good to be true at times, so I cannot recommend the series without a disclaimer.... but I wish I could, because I absolutely loved the entire series. Right book at the right time I guess, but it was exactly the type of book / series I was in the mood to read - a thought-provoking comfort read. And as such, it fit the bill perfectly.

I found it funny how Piper went from only being a minor character in the first book, to almost being the main character in these last few. But all the sisters seem like people I'd love to meet in real life.

I sat up until past midnight to finish this, and am sad to have reached the end of the series.
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2017-07-21 10:35 am

An Undivided Heart - Vonette Bright, Nancy Moser

Title: An Undivided Heart (Sister Circle #3)
Author: Vonette Bright, Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 336 pages
Date read: July 2017

Things are ever changing at Peerbaugh Place, and once again Evelyn Peerbaugh opens her home to new boarders. This time she gets more than she bargains for. With one new tenant whose vanity exceeds all bounds, and another who is a doormat to her dominating fiancé, it seems these women will never find common ground, even as they struggle to share one house. But loyal members of the Sister Circle - Mae, Piper, Audra, and Tessa - are all close by to keep love and faith growing amidst the heartaches and joys. Evelyn even finds the courage to open her heart to new love... and this time, she's not the only one!


While I do still really enjoy this series, the books are becoming rather formulaic: new tenants move in, some are Christians, others aren't, those that aren't quickly discover that they should be. Conversion comes so easily to the sisters and their loved ones that it seems unrealistic. Still - since I know this to be the case, it doesn't bother me too much, and there is so much else to like. I've really grown to love all the sisters, and appreciate that the ones from the earlier books still show up from time to time.

I find it difficult to review these books, because they're really very naive... but they seem to be just what I need these days, so I'm inclined to love them all the same.
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2017-07-17 10:39 am

'Round the Corner - Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser

Title: 'Round the Corner (Sister Circle #2)
Author: Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 322 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Evelyn is not so sure she likes the new dynamics of Peerbaugh Place, her impromptu boarding house. Even though it had been hard adapting to strangers living in her home, she and the other women from The Sister Circle) had found a calm cove of sisterhood. Now Evelyn is forced to start over with a new set of boarders - with more challenging personalities and problems. Evelyn fears that the bonds of sisterhood may not come as easily this time.


As much as I loved the first book in the series, I knew I had to pick up the sequel straight away. I was slightly disappointed to see that most of the Sisters had moved away from Peerbaugh Place (and again - the timing was way off. This would have been more realistic if it had been set 2 years after the first book instead of less than one), but fortunately most of them turned up on a very regular basis, so I didn't get to miss them too much.

Not quite as good as the first book - some aspects were too unrealistic for me to be able to entirely refrain from rolling my eyes - but even so I ended up enjoying it almost as much. I grew really fond of Heddy, and Summer is just a delight! (I've meet girls her age who are exactly as precocious as she is, so never felt she acted too old for her years). And again, the book seemed to have exactly the right message for me, spurring me on in my own walk with God.
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2017-07-17 10:29 am

The Sister Circle - Vonette Bright, Nancy Moser

Title: The Sister Circle (Sister Circle, #1)
Author: Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 351
Date read: July, 2017

Suddenly widowed with no means of support, Evelyn Peerbaugh hangs a "for rent" sign in front of her large Victorian home and her life changes in ways she never dreamed of. In a matter of days she opens a busy boardinghouse and must cope with the lives and emotions of the most incompatible group of women ever gathered under one roof. How will a meek woman like Evelyn manage?

Peerbaugh Place becomes a refuge to seven women of vastly different ages, personalities, and backgrounds. Through struggles and triumphs, the women forge a special bond of sisterhood.


This was a semi-random pick from Amazon. It came up during my search for Neta Jackson, and both the title, the cover and the back blurb appealed to me.

And fortunately the book itself was delightful. While certainly not as well-written as the Yada Yada books, it had many of the same qualities that spoke to me there. I found it charming, thought-provoking and delightful... at the same time fully seeing its flaws as it was at times both far too rosy and almost naive.

But at the end of the day, I didn't care. I grew to love the characters, and though I sometimes found their grown unrealistic (at least the speed at which it happened), it didn't bother me, because I appreciated the teachings the authors were trying to share - meaning I highlighted quotes all over the place.
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2017-07-13 12:44 pm
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Shaman's Curse - Audrey Faye

Title: Shaman's Curse
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 178
Date read: July, 2017

Raven grew up tribal, and she's never forgotten it. She was sent by the grandmothers to serve those who have no tribe. To walk with the darkness. To use her Shaman Talent to balance those who walk in the light.

Which has never felt more important - because this time, the darkness comes for her friends. And for a certain golden-eyed teenager and the mother who isn't supposed to love her.

Raven has been waiting for this assignment. Expecting it. But even she wasn't expecting this.


For some reason it took me ages to get past the first five chapters, but once I did, I gobbled the rest up in two days flat! So I think it had more to do with having to be in the right mood, than with the book itself.

Because once Raven reached Elleni I was hooked. I loved reading more about how the tribes work and the instant feeling of welcome offered to Raven. I could appreciate the spiritual side of things, even when not subscribing to the "religion" thus described. The emotions were still something I could relate to.

Not the best Fixer novel, but certainly not the worst either. I really like Raven and her fiercely protective personality.
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2017-07-10 10:10 am

A Destiny of Dragons - T.J. Klune

Title: A Destiny of Dragons (Tales from Verania #2, Destiny Fuck Yeah! #1)
Author: T.J. Klune
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 400 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Once upon a time, the wizard's apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam's been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.

Life is good.

Until it's not.

Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam's grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.

And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.

Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam's true cornerstone.


Of course not as good as the first book in the series. But then, how could it be? The first was original and innovative - this was "merely" continuing a good trend.

Also not as self-contained as the first book, which came as a bit more of a surprise. While the first book could easily stand alone, this is very clearly the first in a separate trilogy. While that didn't bother me as much as it could have, it does mean I'm less likely to recommend this book high and wide, until I know that the sequels live up to it.

All that said, I still really, really, really liked this book! It had all the humour I'd expected, all the odd one-liners, all the genuine affection between all the members of "Team Sam". Even Ruv ended up growing on me, although I'm still withholding judgment on Vadoma. Oh, and I loved Zero! Where else would you find an emo teenage dragon who's a romantic at heart?! :-D
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2017-07-05 09:49 am
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Mad Girl - Bryony Gordon

Title: Mad Girl
Author: Bryony Gordon
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 336 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Bryony Gordon has OCD.

It's the snake in her brain that has told her ever since she was a teenager that her world is about to come crashing down: that her family might die if she doesn't repeat a phrase 5 times, or that she might have murdered someone and forgotten about it. It's caused alopecia, bulimia, and drug dependency. And Bryony is sick of it. Keeping silent about her illness has given it a cachet it simply does not deserve, so here she shares her story with trademark wit and dazzling honesty.


I came across this book in a London bookshop and thought it sounded interesting. I knew absolutely nothing about Bryony Gordon before starting the book, and still don't really have any clue if she's a person you're "supposed" to know.

Even so, I thought the book was fascinating. Most people know somebody with at least a mild case of OCD, but it's still rare to see as severe cases as Bryony's. It was interesting to see how it affected all aspects of her life, and heartbreaking to hear how little help she got from the health care system, simply because it's a mental illness rather than a physical one (imagine people having to wait 3 weeks to get a broken bone set!). Unfortunately I've heard this complaint before, about the British NHS, but I wouldn't automatically assume it's any better in other countries.
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2017-07-03 11:13 am

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer - Jennifer Lynch

Title: The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer
Author: Jennifer Lynch
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 187
Date read: July, 2017

THE SECRET DIARY OF LAURA PALMER chronicles Laura's life from age 12 to her death at 17, and is filled with secrets, character references, and even clues to the identity of her eventual killer. Laura's diary makes compelling reading as she turns from a naive freshman having her first kiss to a "bad girl" experimenting with drugs, sex and the occult.


Definitely not a book to read if you haven't either seen Twin Peaks quite recently, or remember it clearly. Otherwise the book will a) make little to no sense and b) spoil parts of Twin Peaks for you.

I'm not a huge fan of Twin Peaks, but it intrigues me - and as I'd somehow gotten my hands on this book AGES ago (years before I even saw TP for the first time... don't ask me why), I figured I might as well get around to reading it.

I'm glad I did. It gave me a very different insight into Laura Palmer, and while it didn't actually answer any of the questions I had, it provided me with a more nuanced picture of some of the characters.

Laura really didn't sound her age for most of the diary though. It became less obvious as she got older, but her "voice" didn't change between her being 12 at the start and 17 at the end.
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2017-07-03 10:58 am

A Soft Breath of Wind - Roseanne M. White

Title: A Soft Breath of Wind (A Stray Drop of Blook #2)
Author: Roseanne M. White
Genre: Christian fiction, Historical fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 360 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Zipporah is thirteen when the Spirit descends upon her, opening her eyes to a world beyond the physical goings-on of the villa outside Rome she has always called home. Within hours, she learns what serving the Lord can cost. Forever scarred after a vicious attack, she knows her call is to use this discernment to protect the Way. She knows she must serve the rest of her life at Tutelos, where the growing Roman church has congregated. She knows her lot is set.

Yet is it so wrong to wish that her master, the kind and handsome young Benjamin Visibullis, will eventually see her as something more than a sister in Christ?

Samuel Asinius, adoptive son of a wealthy Roman, has always called Benjamin brother. When their travels take them to Jerusalem for Passover, the last thing he expects is to cross paths with the woman who sold him into slavery as a child the mother he long ago purged from his heart. His sister, Dara, quickly catches Benjamin s eye, but Samuel suspects there is something dark at work.

When Dara, a fortune-teller seeking the will of a shadowy master determined to undermine the Way, comes into the path of Zipporah, a whirlwind descends upon them all.


So... Nina told me that this sequel was even better than the first book in the series. And as usual, she was absolutely right! I could not put it down and finished it in just one day.

While it is a stand-alone sequel, aspects of it definitely make more sense if you've read the first book, but the main character is no longer Abigail, but rather the next generation. Abigail still plays a major part though.

But where the focus of the first book was on finding Jesus, the focus here was definitely more on following him and thus didn't just make for excellent reading, but also had elements that were applicable to my own life (sort of like "The Yada-Yada Prayer Group" which I absolutely adore!). There were certain points where I worried Roseanna White would take the plot in a direction I didn't agree with, but fortunately that never actually happened, and I ended up finding one of the best books I've read all year :-)
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2017-07-03 10:57 am

A Stray Drop of Blood - Roseanne M. White

Title: A Stray Drop of Blood
Author: Roseanne M. White
Genre: Christian fiction, Historical fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 482 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Beautiful is a dangerous thing to be when one is unprotected.

For seven years, Abigail has been a slave in the Visibullis house. With a Hebrew mistress and a Roman master, she has always been more family than servant... until their son returns to Jerusalem after his years in Rome. Within a few months Jason has taken her to his bed and turned her world upsidedown. Maybe, given time, she can come to love him as he says he loves her. But how does she open her heart to the man who ruined her?

Israel's unrest finds a home in her bosom, but their rebellion tears apart her world. Death descends with Barabbas's sword, and Abigail is determined to be there when the criminal is punished. But when she ventures to the trial, Barabbas is not the one the crowd calls to crucify. Instead, it is the teacher her master and Jason had begun to follow, the man from Nazareth that some call the Son of God...


Recommended to me by Nina who talked me into reading this even though I wasn't looking for historical fiction. I'm so grateful she did!

Beautifully written, this book blew me away, and I couldn't put it down. It would have been a solid 5-star book if it hadn't been for the certain death at the half-point mark. I understand Roseanne White's reasons for killing off this particular character and even kinda agree with them (it would have been a very different book indeed if she hadn't), it just detracted somewhat from my enjoyment of the book at that point.

Fortunately the rest of the book made up for it, and despite my annoyance at that event, it still ended up being an altogether amazing book that I may have to add to my physical library at some point. I loved Abigail, I loved Ester and Cleopas and I especially loved Samuel.
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2017-06-20 03:31 pm

Something New - Lucy Knisley

Title: Something New
Author: Lucy Knisley
Genre: Graphic memoir
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 292 pages
Date read: June, 2017

A funny and whip-smart new book about the institution of marriage in America told through the lens of her recent engagement and wedding…. The graphic novel tackles the all-too-common wedding issues that go along with being a modern woman: feminism, expectations, getting knocked over the head with gender stereotypes, family drama, and overall wedding chaos and confusion.


My sister is all kinds of awesome and got me this as a "just because" present :-D

It totally lived up to my expectations, and I found myself choking up on more than one occasion. I'm really glad my wedding was a lot simpler though! I don't blame Lucy for getting stressed out by all the things she had to get sorted.

A very feel-good memoir that will have a lot of good advice for a bride-to-be and which can't help but make those already married think back fondly on their own wedding :-)
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2017-06-19 03:31 pm

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck - Sarah Knight

Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do
Author: Sarah Knight
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 179 pages
Date read: June, 2017

The surprising art of caring less and getting more

Are you stressed out, overbooked, and underwhelmed by life? Fed up with pleasing everyone else before you please yourself?

It's time to stop giving a f*ck.

This brilliant, hilarious, and practical parody of Marie Kondo's bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up explains how to rid yourself of unwanted obligations, shame, and guilt--and give your f*cks instead to people and things that make you happy.

The easy-to-use, two-step NotSorry Method for mental decluttering will help you unleash the power of not giving a f*ck about:
Family drama Having a "bikini body" Iceland Co-workers' opinions, pets, and children And other bullsh*t! And it will free you to spend your time, energy, and money on the things that really matter. So what are you waiting for? Stop giving a f*ck and start living your best life today!


I decided to pick this up after watching a TED-talk with Sarah Knight and really liking the way she presented herself and her ideas.

Unfortunately the book itself couldn't quite live up to my expectations. While Sarah's theories were very interesting, I found it hard to relate to the things/concepts Sarah herself decided to no longer give a f*ck about, and therefore couldn't quite figure out how to apply it to my own life.... or perhaps I'm just fortunate enough that I don't give many unwarranted f*cks when it comes to things, friends and family :-D

Either way, I'm glad I read it, as it did provide some useful tactics (e.g. the NotSorry method), but it probably won't have as large an impact on my life as I'd hoped after watching the TED-talk (which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwRzjFQa_Og).
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2017-06-19 03:30 pm

Crown of Midnight - Sarah J. Maas

Title: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 431
Date read: June, 2017

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. But Calaena is far from loyal to the crown. Keeping up the charade - while pretending to do the king's bidding - will test her skills in an entirely new way. And it certainly isn't the only point of confusion for the young girl. Because though she's made her choice between Dorian and Chaol, the ways of the heart are never simple.


A lot darker than the first one, that's for sure. But in its own way, I think it was better written (fewer instances of "two months went by where this happened"). I had a very hard time putting it down, and turned straight to the third novel in the series.

I thought the relationships seemed more believable in this one - or more fleshed out at least. I'd seen the so-called 'twists' coming a mile off though.
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2017-05-30 01:14 pm
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Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 432
Date read: May, 2017

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament - fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin's heart be melted?


After hearing my niece rave about this book, I knew I had to read it myself :-) And she didn't steer me wrong - it only took me a few chapters to get totally hooked. I loved reading about the training and the tests (although I do wish we'd gotten to see more of the tests "on page" rather than just being told about them afterwards), and though I do understand some readers' complaints that it is rather superficial, that wasn't something I noticed myself until afterwards, so obviously it didn't bother me.

I thought it nicely self-contained, but still liked it enough, that I'll probably continue with the sequels as well.
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2017-05-22 11:18 am
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Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy - Manjusha Pawagi

Title: Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy
Author: Manjusha Pawagi
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 288
Date read: May, 2017

Manjusha Pawagi, a successful family court judge, has written a not-so-typical memoir about her experience with cancer. Wryly funny and stubbornly hopeful, this is her quirky take on what it's like to face your own mortality when, to be honest, you thought you'd live forever. She describes how even the darkest moments of life can be made worse with roommates; details how much determination it takes to ignore the statistics; and answers the age-old question: what does it take to get a banana popsicle around here?


An excellent book! I'd recommend this to anybody, no matter whether or not they've had their lives touched by cancer.

It's a very poignant and real book. Manjusha allows the reader an insight into an experience they will hopefully never have to go through themselves, and while Manjusha is undoubtedly one of the lucky ones (she survived!) it still served as a chilling reminder of how cancer effects not just the patient, but everybody around.

I find it wrong to say that I "liked" the book, but I had a very hard time putting it down, and it is one of those powerful books that stay with you for a long time after finishing it.
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2017-05-11 11:22 am

Waking Gods - Sylvain Neuvel

Title: Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Genre: Sci-fi, epistolary
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 336 pages
Date read: May, 2017

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she's dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers - and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth... and maybe even the stars.


Thank you Netgalley for this ARC! This book picks up 9 years after the first one left off which disappointed me a bit at first (I wanted to know what happened RIGHT after), but worked quite nicely once I got further into it.

Though obviously not as 'unique' as the first book, "Waking Gods" was every bit as good and every bit as difficult to put down. Even the (relatively) open ending didn't bother me too much, as it fit in with the rest of the plot. Still, I'll be keeping an eager eye out for the third book in the series.

I'm really fond of the writing style. It's a bit of a stretch to call it "epistolary" as a lot of it is transcripts of interviews/conversations, but there's no "narration" - everything is told through dialogue or journal entries. It adds a certain twist to the atmosphere which I really like.

Rather dark at times (Sylvain Neuvel is not afraid to "kill his darlings" - so don't expect anybody to be safe "just because") but still written with a good dose of humour. I really enjoyed it and can't wait to read more.
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2017-05-05 09:20 am

Sleeping Giants - Sylvain Neuvel

Title: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Genre: Sci-fi, epistolary
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 322 pages
Date read: May, 2017

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.


One of those amazing reads where even though I own it as an e-book, I immediately went out and purchased it as a physical book - I want it in my library! But no wonder - it hits all of my insta-loves. An epistolary sci-fi novel with a semi-unreliable narrator (mostly because you KNOW he's not telling you everything) and a totally fascinating concept.

I spent most of the book in a constant state of "What on earth is going on? And what on earth is going to happen next?" Those questions were only half-way answered, which for once didn't frustrate me, as it fit perfectly with the atmosphere of the book. I couldn't put it down and can't wait to read the sequel.
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2017-05-05 09:19 am
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The One-in-a-Million Boy - Monica Wood

Title: The One-in-a-Million Boy
Author: Monica Wood
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 336
Date read: May, 2017

For years, guitarist Quinn Porter has been on the road, chasing gig after gig, largely absent to his twice-ex-wife Belle and their odd, Guinness records-obsessed son. When the boy dies suddenly, Quinn seeks forgiveness for his paternal shortcomings by completing the requirements for his son's unfinished Boy Scout badge.

For seven Saturdays, Quinn does yard work for Ona Vitkus, the wily 104-year-old Lithuanian immigrant the boy had visited weekly. Quinn soon discovers that the boy had talked Ona into gunning for the world record for Oldest Licensed Driver... and that's the least of her secrets. Despite himself, Quinn picks up where the boy left off, forging a friendship with Ona that allows him to know the son he never understood, a boy who was always listening, always learning.


Very much a character-driven book and while engaging enough, I honestly couldn't tell you what I thought of it. The plot putters along slowly and is of no real consequence, but you do end up caring for the characters (Quinn and Ona especially) regardless, and while very slow-moving, I never considered giving up on it.

But still - it's not a book I'm likely to reread, and actually probably not even a book I'm likely to recommend. It most definitely had its moments, but at the end of it, I was left wondering what the fuss was all about.