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  • Writer's pictureMyranda

Reading Recap for December 2022

With the holidays coming and still trying to get started at my new job, I only participated in my Virtual Book Club (VBC) this month. I also had the lofty goal of trying to finish all the books that I had laying around that I had started throughout the year but hadn't finished so...there is that!

WHAT WAS PLANNED FOR BOOK CLUB (THIS MONTH)

VBC: "The Bridge" by Karen Kingsbury, eBook (Nook), 208 pages VBC: "In a Holidaze" by Christina Lauren, paperback, 304

VBC: THE BRIDGE, DISCUSSION 12.17.22

The story is told from the perspectives of Donna, Charlie, Molly, and Ryan. Donna and Charlie run The Bridge, a bookstore in the heart of Franklin, Tennessee. They see all their customers as family which makes the store feel more like a second home to most customers. Molly, a big city girl, comes to Franklin to go to college. She wants to follow her heart and play music, not run her father's company by the time she turns 25. Ryan, a small town boy, thinks his destiny is to return to his hometown, marry his high school sweetheart, and be a music teacher when his dream is to write and play his music for the world to hear! Years later, an accident pulls the community together, and not just the community of Franklin! While I normally cannot stand a story being told from so many perspectives, this one could not be told from one or even two perspectives. Each person plays a pivotal role in the story. I enjoyed seeing the friendship grow between Molly and Ryan and could feel the tug of the heart strings with Donna and Charlie. I don't know how to say much without giving anything away but after the accident, it was hard to see how Molly and Ryan came back together...it felt like a familiar stranger encounter. Like they know each other but they don't. It is a true story of faith and how miracles can happen. One of the things I didn't understand was why the author cut out the character Edna. The book starts with a prequel of sorts and goes into how Donna and Charlie came to open The Bridge and Edna finds herself in a dark place and goes into the shop one day and ends up building a relationship with Donna that helps her move on with her life. Flash forward to the time when Molly and Ryan are in college and there is no more mention of Edna. This is also a 2-part Hallmark movie available on Peacock. They made some major changes in the movie that don't seem to be necessary or make sense but I liked it. My rating is only for the book though. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars because Edna, who seemed like she would be important, is all of a sudden cut out of the picture and I don't like how controlling Molly's father is even from the other side of the country. 4.5/5 Stars

VBC: IN A HOLIDAZE, DISCUSSION 12.17.22

Maelyn Jones and her family spend every Christmas holiday with her parents' college friends in Park City, Utah. Aaron and Kyle have adorable twins Zachary and Kennedy. Benny is the pseudo uncle from Australia, always the bachelor and Mae's confidant. Lisa and Ricky have Theo, who everyone thinks will be Mae's soul mate, and Andrew, the one Mae has been in love with for half of her life. Everything about this trip is predictable. Activities are always the same, meals are the same, this time, however, Mae enjoyed some of the spiked eggnog and ended up making out with Theo in a closet. It was more like he licked her face and she was completely embarrassed. At the end of the trip, heading the the airport, Mae wonders what the future will hold and if she will be happy. She makes a wish to be shown what it would be like to be happy and just as she looks up to see a truck about to smash into their car, Mae wakes up on the plane, on the way TO Park City. Now she has to figure out why she has been sent back in time and what she is supposed to do differently.

This is like Groundhog's Day which is referenced and Mae doesn't know the movie and I say that her parent's failed her on that one. She ends up having multiple start overs with the previous one always ending with something terrible about to happen to her. We don't actually find out how or why she is sent back time and time again but I have a theory. The first few times she goes back to the beginning, she tries to keep the events as similar as possible to the first time around. I think this is why she get's sent back. She wasn't happy that trip and she wanted to be shown what it would be like to be happy...so why keep things the same. I do want to share a quote from the book that seems to be when things kind of click for her. She is in church for Christmas Mass and thinks, "I've spent years not trusting my ability to make decisions and quietly letting life just happen to me. It can't be a coincidence that the moment I stopped being passive and followed my instincts, everything seemed to fall into place." She stopped LETTING life happen TO her and took control!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Even though I think the ending was a little rushed, it didn't FEEL rushed. 5/5 Stars

EXTRAS READ/LISTENED TO

If You Tell by Gregg Olsen, eBook/Kindle Unlimited, 410 pages

This is the true horror story of what the Knotek sisters experienced and witnessed their mother, Michelle "Shelly" Knotek do to her so called friends as well as the torture that she put her girls and her nephew through.

I'm still shocked that this happened so close to where I grew up. I'm not familiar with that side of the sound and all of this came to light once I had graduated high school and moved away. The things that these women went through is horrific. The things they were forced to do and see at such young ages is devastating. As a mother I can't even imagine putting my daughter through ANYTHING this woman did. The fact that a deal was made and, spoiler alert, she is out of prison as of November 2022 (nothing a google search about this woman wouldn't yield) is just crazy!

I rate this 4.5 out of 5 stars. This book is very detailed and it took me over 2 months to read it because I could only handle it in small doses. While the things that happened are extremely terrible, this was well written and informative. 4.5/5 Stars

Trick or Treat and Murder by Kate Bell and Kathleen Suzette, eBook/Kindle Unlimited, 142 pages This is book 2 in A Cozy Baked Mystery series. This time around, Allie McSwain finds a body right before the Halloween Bazaar, the town's biggest fundraiser of the year. Using her baking skills to continue to get in good with Detective Blanchard, she manages to stay involved in the case despite there being a killer in town!

This series is filled with quick reads that sometime lead me to think What on earth is going on...this wouldn't happen in real life. Allie is a character that you're either going to love or you won't. I don't think there is an in between here. I enjoyed the questioning and the way Allie thinks that she is being sneaky and inserting herself into the investigation. I'm going to keep reading the series!

I rate this 4.5 out of 5 stars only because no detective would be swayed by sweets to allow a civilian to ride along and be present in the questioning of people during an investigation...and there were multiple mentions in this book (like in the first one) about how she wouldn't look good in an orange jumpsuit. 4.5/5 Stars

Turkey Trot Terror (alt. title: Thankfully Dead) by Kate Bell and Kathleen Suzette, eBook/Kindle Unlimited, 129 pages

Book 3 in A Cozy Baked Mystery, Allie and Alec are getting close. So close that they plan to spend Thanksgiving together and what better way to start the day than with a Turkey Trot! Being the competitive Southern woman that Allie is, she insists that they take off after her son, Thad, and all the college boys! There is one person between them and the boys when Allie hears a whistling sounds and see Todd Spellman fall to the ground. Once they reach Todd, Allie and Alec realize they are still being shot at. They turn towards the crowd and get everyone to turn around and head back to the start.

This is the first time that Allie is present for the murder and we don't have to hear about how bad she would look in an orange jumpsuit. I think it was mentioned a handful of times in the first and second book. Really though, how much bad luck can one one have in a small town? She stumbled upon two dead bodies and now is being shot at. It took awhile to build suspicions as to who actually had done it and I didn't expect who the killer/killers could be. It was a pleasant surprise. I rate this 5 out of 5 stars. I still think it's crazy that she inserts herself into the investigations like she could do the job better. It makes me wonder why she doesn't get her license to be a private investigator. 5/5 Stars

Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner, Audible audio, 12h 7m


Frankie Elkin is an alcoholic. She's been clean and sober for many years but she says that addicts always find something to be addicted to. For her, it's helping to find the people missing that no one seems to care about. This time, her 15th case, has brought her to Boston to look for a Haitian teen girl named Angelique Badeau who had been missing for almost a year with no leads. She was seen in school one day and then just vanished without a trace...or so the cops think until Frankie starts digging. Will this turn out to be deeper than just a missing girl?

I think this book was recommended by multiple people in the Creepy Book Club and it was available for free on Audible to listen to (if you have a premium subscription) so I grabbed it. I didn't read what it was about so I had no idea what to expect. While I did find the narrator's voice to be a little irritating at times (I have this thing about when female narrators do male voices and vice versa...don't even get me started on the narrator for the Harry Potter books once he has to start voicing Luna Lovegood...I cringe just thinking about it), but overall the story line was good. There were times that my train of thought would take me down a road that Frankie ended up down that made me wonder how cops could have missed it but it's always different from the outside looking in right? I enjoyed getting to know the people in the story, mainly Angelique's family, and how much Frankie got them involved.

I rate the audio book a 4.5 out of 5 stars but the book overall a 5 out of 5. Why the difference? As I said, I listened to this book and the narration plays a huge part of the experience in my opinion and when she made Angelique's teenage brother talk with a nasally almost Steve Urkel kind of voice, I just can't get passed that. That is why for the first time I'm giving two ratings because if I had read the book that wouldn't have been there to bother me! 4.5/5 Stars


Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, Audible Audio, 11h 49m Book 2 in The Shadow & Bone Trilogy. Alina and Mal try to stay hidden from The Darkling only to find that their method of payment, golden hair pins, left a trail for him to follow. While in route back to Ravka, The Darkling is double crossed and Alina has found with her, somewhat, freedom that she is meant to lead the 2nd Army. It is her responsibility to protect her people and her country after all she did to help The Darkling before. Did her ambitions prove to be more than she could handle?

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this. It's been a little while since I had finished the first book and wasn't sure if what I was remembering was from the book or the Netflix series (btw, season 2 of Shadow & Bone is coming in March apparently). The story did hold my attention and I like the narrator's voice.

I rate this audio book a 4.75 out of 5 stars. The narrator was great, the story held my attention and was captivating to me. I enjoyed the new characters but I hated some of the interactions between Alina and Mal. They love each other and know they do but continue to play it off like it's not a big deal. 4.75/5 Stars


I had 3 books that I tried hard to finish before the end of the year. I ended up moving "Midnight Sun" to my pause shelf because it is going to take some time to finish that one. I was reading both "The Retreat" (a Kindle book) and "Midnight Flight" (a physical book) with the goal of finishing them in December so I could start with fresh reads in January but that didn't happen. I got about 70% done with "The Retreat" and I'm about 60% done with "Midnight Flight". Both of those will be finished in January along with the books I have planned.

WHAT IS PLANNED FOR JANUARY 2023

VBC: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah, eBook/Kindle Unlimited, 401 pages

CBC: The Personal Assistant by Kimberly Belle, eBook/Kindle, 352 pages

HFBC: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, audiobook/Audible, 21h 3m

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