Monday, December 26, 2022

Favorite reads of 2022, Part I....

 I always find it hard each year to narrow my list of favorite books down to just ten, or twelve. Especially when I read between 150-200 books every every genre: romances, mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, classics, and more. My compromise this year? Multiple lists. And even then, I'm leaving out a lot of really good books. But I can't list them all. so, here are some of the books I read and loved in 2022:

3 Best Nonfiction Books:

Best Historical Fiction Book:

The Slow March of Light by Heather B. Moore

And 12 of my Favorite Romances:

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren

Stay tuned for more favorites in my next post....
and Happy Reading! 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Have a Merry Christmas!


May the true peace and joy of Christmas 
fill your hearts and homes this holiday season! 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Prisoner's Wife by Maggie Brookes

 "War had ripped across Europe for five years--a great tornado, scattering families, tearing millions of people from their loved ones forever. But sometimes, just sometimes, it threw them together. Like with me and Bill. A Czech farm girl and a London boy who would never have met, hurled into each other's path. And we reached out, caught hold and gripped each other tight."

 It is 1944. Bill is a British POW assigned to work on her family's farm when Izzy first meets him. He teaches her English; she arranges for a priest to marry them. Then they run, hoping to reach the Czech partisans. Nazi soldiers find them first. With Izzy dressed as a boy and supposedly mute from shellshock, she and Bill manage to convince the Germans they are both British soldiers. Together they endure the hardships of a POW camp, managing to keep Izzy's true identity from everyone but a few close friends. Their story is one of love and survival...and it's inspired by true events.
"Bill's stomach churns with dread and misery; Lamsdorf is the last place in the world he wants to be with Izzy. ... He doesn't let himself think about what they'll do when they discover her, as he's certain they will. It's only a matter of time. Being discovered in Lamsdorf could be even more dangerous for Izzy than having been left at home for the Russians, and he's filled with anguish....he knows without any doubt that he would die to save her."

I liked this one! It's compelling and full of heart. Izzy's and Bill's situation brings out both the best and worst in the men around them. Once I started, I couldn't put this one down. It's very readable. And I appreciated all of Brookes' research, and the way she grounded their impetuous romance in historical detail. And I liked that their story is based on something that actually happened. It made it an even more powerful novel. I gave it 4 stars.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Ten Years!

I published my first blog post, Top Ten Reads from 2012, ten years ago today. At the time, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to create enough posts to keep my blog going for the next month let alone for the next ten years. Somehow I did, and what a fun ten years it's been! 

What I've been thinking about this week is why I wanted to start blogging in the first place. More specifically, why I wanted to start a book blog. One reason is that I was reading so many books every year they were starting to blur and blend together; and I thought writing about and reviewing the books I was reading would help me remember them better. And it has. 

The other, more important reason I wanted to be part of the book-blogging world is because I was looking to connect with other people who love books and reading as much as me--people who wouldn't think it's odd or weird that I read 150+ books every year, or that I go to the library every three weeks like clockwork and come home with a bag full of books each time, or that reading a good book tops my list of "things I love to do".

In short, I was looking for connection.
For community. 
And I found so much more. 
I found friends. 

So here's a big THANK YOU! to all of you, my bookish blogging friends from around the world who comment on my blog every week just to chat about books. You're the best! I am truly lucky to have had you in my life these past ten years. 

Happy Blogging...and Reading!

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Holiday Haikus...


Her Christmas Rescue by Grace J. Croy

A storm. A car crash. 
A single Dad. Snow. Christmas.
And Falling in love.

Contemporary romance .... 218 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Utterly delightful.)

How To Ruin the Holidays by Becky Monson

She's there for business, 
but their mistletoe kiss makes her
want her own Hallmark ending.

Contemporary romance .... 229 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(So funny!)

All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne

Sage is there to design
Mason's home, not fall in love.
But then her plans change.

Contemporary romance .... 313 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.

The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham

Bookish Grace weds in
her sister's place -- finds romance,
mystery, and love.

Historical romance .... 317 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Completely captivating!)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Murder at the Serpentine Bridge by Andrea Penrose

The plot:  It's June 1814. Napoleon has just been exiled and London is preparing for a grand Peace Celebration. The Earl of Wrexford is out for an evening walk in Hyde Park with his two young wards, Raven and Hawk, and his dog when they stumble upon a body. The murdered man turns out to be Jeremiah Willis, an engineering genius. He was working on a new kind of weapon that could revolutionize war, but his plans and prototype have gone missing. The government enlists Wrexford's help in finding them. His wife Charlotte, who is also the satirical and talented artist A.J. Quill, is more interested in bringing Willis's murderer to justice. Especially when Raven and Hawk befriend Jeremiah's young nephew, Peregrine. Their investigation uncovers conspiracies, intrigue, lies, and more murder. 

My thoughts:  This is an entertaining mystery series. I've read all six books and enjoyed every one. And while I always find the history and their murder investigations interesting, it's the characters that I really love. Charlotte accused Wrexford of murder in the first book; I loved how these two went from reluctant allies, to hesitant friends, to valued partners. They're newlyweds in this book. I also love Raven and hawk. They're the two orphan street rats who are now part of Wrexford's and Charlotte's family, and part of every investigation. Their street smarts, loyalty and youthful exuberance make them truly appealing characters. And they definitely added to the fun in this new mystery. 

Happy Reading!

Other books in this series that I've reviewed:

Monday, December 12, 2022

The Dragon's Promise by Elizabeth Lim

 "A promise is a promise. Not a kiss in the wind, to be thrown about without care. It is a piece of yourself that is given away and will not return until your pledge is fulfilled."
Plot summary:  Princess Shiori promised her stepmother that she would return a cursed dragon pearl to its owner. That promise takes her first to Ai'long, the underwater court of the sea dragons. But they want the pearl for themselves. As do the demons threatening Kiata, Shiori's homeland. So Shiori, her six brothers, and her betrothed, Takkan, must journey even farther from home to return the pearl and to find a way to defeat the demons. It's a journey that will take all of Shiori's forbidden magic, and might even cost her her life. 

My thoughts:  I read the first book in this young adult fantasy duology, Six Crimson Cranes, back in March with Melody (@ Melody's Reading Corner). And we've both been looking forward to reading this sequel ever since. Shiori's such a fun character: stubborn and determined, fiesty and fearless. And she never gives up on her quest. 

In The Dragon's Promise, Shiori has to conquer many different enemies, including the scary demon king Bandur, and survive many dangers, including attempts by people in her own homeland to kill her. Which means that this novel has a LOT of action in it. At times it felt like the author was trying to combine too many different threads in one book. All those different threats and dangers got a little convoluted, especially at the end. Poor Shiori never had time to even catch her breath. But I was rooting for her and Takkan all the way. I really love the two of them together; they're my favorite part of this novel. There's a fairy tale quality to this book that I also liked. All the magic, and the curious legends from the sea dragons and their promises, to the magical red thread that connects Shiori to Takkan, to Shiori being a bloodsake whose magic can loose the trapped demons, to the Lady of the Moon herself, added to the fun. Despite its flaws, this turned out to be a magical and entertaining adventure. And I'm very glad that I got to read it with Melody. Be sure to check out her review.

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions to me...and my answers:

Q. Among all the characters, who do you wish the author should explore more and why?
A. I'd love to get to know more about Shiori's brothers, especially her youngest brother who ends this story with one of his arms still a crane's wing; and I hope Lim writes a abook about Elang because I'd love to see him be able to resolve his half-dragon/half-human dilemma and get a happy ending. 

Q. What do you think is the strength and weakness of this story?
A. For me, the strength is in Shiori's relationships...with her friend, Seryu; with her six brothers; and with Takkan, the man she loves. Those are my favorite moments in this book. The weakness in this story is that the author tried to do too much...between the conflict with the dragons, and then the demons, and everything else going on around Shiori it's just too much for one book. 

Saturday, December 10, 2022

December's Bookish Art...

Heinrich Rustige - The Romance Novel

"A book is a gift you can open again and again."
--Garrison Keillor

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Back to the Classics Wrap Up Post...


I actually managed to read all twelve books in this year's Back to the Classics Challenge. It's hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate, and is always a lot of fun. Though I don't usually manage to finish all the categories. Here are the twelve books I read, with links to my original posts, in the order that I liked them...from best to worst:

💗Classic set in a place you'd like to visit: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

Classic that's been on your TBR the longest:  The Virginian by Owen Wister

A 20th Century Classic:  The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

A Classic by a BIPOC Author: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

Mystery/Detective/Crime Classic:  Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

A Classic by a Woman Author:  A Double Life by Karolina Pavlova

There you have it...the twelve classics I read this year. The only one I truly disliked was the short story collection by Stephen Crane. And while I didn't love some of the others, at least I found them to be interesting reads. But most of these books I ended up really liking. So a big THANK YOU to Karen for picking these fun categories and hosting this challenge again this year. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's theme is a Freebie. So, I'm going with Books with December in the Title. Are you surprised? 😉

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Every Day in December by Kitty Wilson

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

Always in December by Emily Stone

Dating Mr. December by Phillippa Ashley

Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert

A Long December by Richard Chizmar

The Thing About December by Donal Ryan

December's Secrets by A.E. Howe

Black December by Scott Hunter

Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Quick Book Recs...


When In Rome by Sarah Adams

Adams has written yet another captivating romance. She's fast becoming one of my favorite romance authors. In this book, I loved her nod to the classic movie Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. And the humor, sweet chemistry, and banter between Amelia and grumpy Noah totally made me smile. I loved this one!

Still Life by Louise Penny

Well, I finally got around to reading this first Armand Gamache mystery, and I loved it. The residents of Three Pines are uniquely fun and Gamache is such a likable detective. I look forward to reading more books in this appealing series. 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan


5 Things I loved about this heartwarming Christmas novel:

✷ It's set in Scotland! 

✷ Lucy Clarke gets snowed in with Ross Miller and his entire family over Christmas. 
(I love that snowed-in trope!)

✷ Nanna Jean's unapologetic outspokenness & advice when it comes to matters of the heart--"because she's 86 and not getting any younger!"

✷ The banter and loyalty between Ross and his two sisters, Alice and Clemmie.

✷ The romance, friendship, and love between Alice and Nico, Clemmie and Fergus, and Ross and Lucy. 

In tone and content, this one reminded me a lot of my favorite Rosamunde Pilcher books. It's all about family, finding love, and having the courage to speak up and tell your truth. This novel is charming and fun, and all the happy endings made me smile. 

Happy Reading!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Swan Dive: the Making of a Rogue Ballerina


Georgina Pazcoguin joined the New York city Ballet when she was just seventeen. In 2013, after dancing ten years in the Corps de Ballet, she was promoted, and became NYCB's first Asian American female soloist. Her candid memoir is a revealing look into the competitive (even cutthroat), demanding, sexist, and sometimes toxic culture that exists at the NYCB. What else comes through is her fierce love of ballet. In her twenty years as a professional ballerina, she's had some exhilarating highs and some devastating lows. She's persevered through it all. And she shares her struggles and her joy with refreshing frankness, honesty, and humor. 

I've always loved reading about anything that has to do with ballet, and this book is a very engaging memoir! It's interesting and eye-opening, and it gave me an even greater appreciation for the years and years of dedication and effort, and all the hard work that these dancers put forth in hopes of becoming a professional ballerina. This book is a 5-star read!

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Last the best of all the classics...

I've read some really good classics this year, but I think The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy is my favorite. It's such a fun adventure! Set in 1792 during the Reign of Terror, the story takes place in England and in France, both places I'd love to visit someday. (Which is why I chose this book for my "Classic set in a place you'd like to visit" for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge.)

Lady Marguerite Blakeney and her husband, Sir Percy, are at the heart of this novel. She's beautiful, clever, and French. He's handsome, wealthy, and English. But though they had a passionate courtship, "Now they had drifted quite apart, and Sir Percy seemed to have laid aside his love her, as he would an ill-fitting glove. She tried to rouse him by sharpening her ready wit against his dull intellect; endeavored to excite his jealousy, if she could not rouse his love...but all in vain. He remained the same, always passive, drawling, sleepy, always courteous, invariably a gentleman..."

Added to the events of their life together in England, are the daring intrigues of the Scarlet Pimpernel, the mysterious and dashing Englishman who has rescued countless French aristocrats from the guillotine. His brave exploits are the talk of London. But who is he? Lady Blakeney is about to find out. 

I loved this book! It's captivating, amusing, clever, and diverting. And it reads fast. Why couldn't I have read this classic in high school? I'm so glad I read it now. It's the best.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!


I've been trying to be more aware of my blessings this month, and to be more grateful for all that I have. So this year I thought I'd do an A-to-Z gratitude post (though I cheated a bit with the letter X). Here are just a few of the many reasons I have to be grateful for this year:

Alien tape! (because it really works.)
B  Books, bubble baths, booster shots, and blogging buddies
C  Chocolate and crossword puzzles
D  Days off from work!
E  Elephants and electricity. 
Family, friends, and freedom
Game nights every month and garbage trucks
Hawaii (one of my most favorite vacation spots)
the Internet
Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice
Kind comments on all my blog posts from all of you...THANK YOU! 
Music...all kinds. 
Nieces and Nephews
Owls (and other birds)
Peanuts and popcorn (my two favorite snacks)
Quilts and quiet time
Road trips!
Sleeping in.  😴
T  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy...YUM!
U  Utah's scenic beauty from Arches to Zions National Parks
Wunderbrow long-lasting brow gel
all the eXperiences in life, good and bad, that have helped shape me
Zebra pens and zip-up hoodies (my favorite weekend wear)

Wishing you and your family a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by

This week's theme: Thankful Freebie. But since I already have a gratitude post planned for Thanksgiving Day, I decided to change it up and go with Books With November in the Title instead:

November by Jorge Galan

Mr. November by Lori Foster

Hunting November by Adriana Mather

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Come November by Katrin van Dam

Butterflies in November by Audur Ava Olafsdottir

The November Girl by Lydia Kang

November of the Heart by LaVyrle Spencer

A Cold November Road by Darla Cain

November's Past by A.E. Howe

Happy Reading!