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Reading Recap for February & March 2023

January was so ambitious and then I got swept away in my race training and work that reading kind of took a back seat. That is why I am combining February and March. The only book club books that I managed to finish on time were the ones for my own book club, VBC. I'll give a quick overview for February and March and then dive into the Kindle Challenge results.

WHAT WAS PLANNED FOR FEBRUARY BOOK CLUBS

VBC: The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke, book, 356 pages

CBC: All The Dangerous Things, eBook, 332 pages

HFBC: The Lobotomist's Wife by Samantha Greene Woodruff, eBook, 305 pages



VBC: The Lost Love Song, 2.25 at 3pm on FB Rooms

*From back of book* Concert pianist Diana is finally ready to marry her longtime fiancé, Arie. she's even composing a beautiful love song for him, which she finishes on tour. Before she can play it for him, though, tragedy strikes—and Diana is lost to Arie forever. But her song might not be.

In Australia, the world has gone quiet for Arie as he struggles to cope with his loss. In Scotland, a woman named Evie is taking stock of her life after the end of another lackluster almost-relationship. Years of wandering the globe and failing to publish her poetry have taken their toll, and Evie might finally be ready to find what her travels have never been able to give her: a real home. Through a quirk of fate, Diana's song is passed from musician to musician. Winding its way around the world, it just might bring these two lost souls together. With heart-wrenching emotion, The Lost Love Song explores what it means to be lost, what it means to be found, and the power of music to bring people together.

This book has a lot of story lines...like a lot! Yes the back tells you about Diana, Arie, and Evie but those are not the only people we meet throughout the journey of this love song. One of my friends in book club was being driven crazy with the amount of people that kept getting introduced. I have not read He's Just Not That Into You but I have seen the movie and that movie and one's like it (like Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve) are a bunch of story lines with a bunch of characters and their stories eventually end up coming together in the end.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. If you've read or heard any of my reviews of books told from multiple perspectives then you know that it can drive me crazy. Books like Winter Garden (see my January reading recap) are told from multiple perspectives and there wouldn't be a clear division of who was telling the story at what time. Oddly enough, this book is written in the same fashion but I think because early on it was giving He's Just Not That Into You vibes, I really enjoyed it. Sure there were things that I thought were pointless to be added. Sure I wish some things had been expanded upon. Absolutely I wished that Diana's notebook had made it's way back to Arie for a full circle moment (it's not so relevant to the story) but regardless I loved this book. It's definitely something I can see myself reading again! 5/5 Stars

CBC: All The Dangerous Things, 2.22 (did not attend)

I have all plans to finish this book and will recap it in April. I managed to get almost 50% done between February and March but not enough to participate in the discussion.

HFBC: The Lobotomist's Wife, No Discussion

This is still on my list to read or listen to, depending on when I get to it. I was not ever in a place to start this book so it will stay on my TBR.


EXTRAS: READ/LISTENED TO

Candy Cane Killer by Kate Bell/Kathleen Suzette, eBook, 127 pages (Book #4 in A Cozy Baked Mystery)

*From Goodreads* It's Christmas time and while that jolly elf dressed all in red is preparing to deliver presents around the world, Allie McSwain and crew are in Goose Bay, Alabama visiting Allie's mother and working to solve a murder. Allie's daughter Jennifer discovers a murdered neighbor on the lawn and it's up to Allie and Alec to figure out who the murderer is before there's another victim.

What can I say...I love these little novellas! We did get 1 mention of the orange jumpsuit (IYKYK). So far, of the 4 books I've ready, I was only able to correctly identify almost immediately who the killer was once...and this wasn't the one time! If I were Allie I would be trying to figure out what I did or who I pissed off because she has been part of a murder investigation every month in these books. September found a body, October found a body, November witnessed the murder, and December her daughter finds the body. Like that's a string of bad luck if I've ever seen it!

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars simply because it's cute! Sure there are times when I'm thinking there is no way that would ever happen in real life but that's what helps make it such a cute little story! I did feel that the ending came a little too quickly. It was kind of like...here's the murderer, we don't know why they did it, time to go home, the end...and all in just a couple short pages. Is that going to stop me from reading the next book in the series...nope! 5/5 Stars


Oracle by Andrew Pyper, audiobook, 9h 20m

*From Audible* Oracle is a psychological thriller audiobook following Nate Russo, an FBI psychic who helps solve abductions and homicides by touching those close to the missing persons. His unique gift comes with a terrible price: He sees the horrific moments before the victims disappeared. This high-stakes mystery, written by best-selling author Andrew Pyper and performed by Joshua Jackson, combines crime investigations with supernatural elements and killer instincts.

I just have to say that this is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to in a really long time! I enjoyed having a narrator that I knew by face and could imagine as Nate. One of the things that I learned from this book and watching something else on Netflix (I think...I can't remember what I was watching) but do you know how one becomes an oracle? An oracle is not someone born with the ability to see things like a psychic. It is only when this person has been chosen (by a good or bad entity) to become a seer that they are then deemed an oracle.

My rating is for the audiobook. I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. I know that y'all might be thinking that there is no way I'm enjoying all of these books lately. Trust me...I've gotten lucky lately. One of my biggest issues with audiobooks is that the narrator usually performs different voices for different characters and this can be super cringy of a man trying to do a woman's voice and vice versa. That was not the case in this book! It was like he was sitting there just reading to you and I loved it! Early on it even seems like they (the producers and editors) left some stumbles in. I'm definitely listening to the sequel. Also if you're on the fence after listening to this book, the last 43 minutes is a preview of the sequel. For me, that's too long of a preview. If I'm dedicating that much time, then I might as well just start listening! 5/5 Stars


Oracle 2: The Dreamland Murders by Andrew Pyper, Audible Podcast, 5h 01m *From Audible* Oracle 2: The Dreamland Murders is a gripping psychological thriller series follow-up to Andrew Pyper's audiobook Oracle. Performed by an ensemble cast with Joshua Jackson, Devon Bostick, and Humberly Gonzalez, Pyper's high-stakes thrill ride continues the journey of FBI agent Nate Russo as he tracks an elusive serial killer and discovers an ancient curse. This time, Russo's unique psychic gifts and killer instincts will lead him to the secrets of an idyllic New England village, and to Dreamland - the abandoned amusement park built on something evil that refuses to stay buried.

There were times when I wished that this wasn't a podcast and was narrated by just Joshua Jackson but it was still fun to listen to. Getting to put other voices to characters is always fun in my book (pun not intended...but a happy accident).

My rating is for the podcast. I give this a 4 out of 5 stars. Even though I liked the multiple voice actors making it feel more like radio show, I enjoyed the way Joshua Jackson read the first book more than listening to the podcast. The story line is great and I really hope there is a third book coming our way because the bone man still made an appearance. That has to mean something right? 4/5 Stars

WHAT WAS PLANNED FOR MARCH BOOK CLUBS

VBC: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, eBook, 434 pages

CBC: I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai, Book, 438 pages

HFBC: The Midwife of Auschwitz by Anna Stuart, audiobook, 11h 42m


VBC: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, 3.25 at 3pm on FB Rooms

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, eBook, 434 pages

*From Goodreads* France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

I have to admit...I knew NOTHING of this book outside of the fact that I had seen it blowing up all over my IG by Bookstagramers a couple years ago. I never read a description of the book, ever, and it was updating our book club TBR that I saw someone add "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid that it kind of sparked that "oh yeah" because everyone seemed to be reading these books about the same time. I added Seven Husbands and then added Addie and low-and-behold Google random number generator picked whatever number was Addie! The story is beautiful. I could feel the frustration of no one remembering Addie. It broke my heart when not even her parents remembered who she was. It's a story of true strength. She figured out how to survive by any and all means. She was surrounded at times by so many people only to be forgotten in a single moment. She was truly alone. Until she found Henry...the one who remembered her. I had a few moments that I thought the book would end one of three ways and it kind of ended with a mash up.

I give this book a 4.75 out of 5 stars. I really don't know what could have bumped it up to a 5 star because it really was great but there was always something just in the back of my head that made it feel just shy. I can't put my finger on it. Addie is a wonderful character and watching her morph and grow was fascinating. Luc, despite his efforts, brought out the best in her. Henry was the person Addie needed at that time. Truly a great read. It's available for free with Kindle Unlimited (at the time of this post). 4.75/5 Stars

CBC: I Have Some Questions For You, didn't sign up

I have all plans to finish this book and will recap it in April. I just mismanaged my reading time and didn't finish this book. I had others that felt more pressing to get done because I wanted to finish up the Kindle Challenge. I'm enjoying the book and can't wait to finish it!

HFBC: The Midwife of Auschwitz, 3.21 (did not attend)

I spend my work time having movies and shows playing on my iPad instead of listening to my books. I did not get this finished in time to attend Holly's live with the author BUT I have finished it (review to come) and I can go back and watch Holly's video with the author now!

The Haunting of Winslow Manor by Ambrose Ibsen, audiobook, 5h 59m (Book #3 in The Beckoning Dead Series)

*From Audible* Fresh from their expedition into Rainier Asylum, librarians Sadie and August attempt to dig further into the past, uncovering hideous truths related to the noxious cult. Their research into the diabolical sect dredges up more questions than answers, however — especially where Sadie's own history is concerned. She finds herself wondering just how much of what she's been told about her origins is true, and is assailed by doubts about her upbringing. While grappling with her own angst, Sadie encounters a ghost from her past and soon finds herself steered to the doorstep of a lonesome manor house. This crumbling place, hidden amidst the pines, may prove to be the black heart at the very center of the diabolical conspiracy. The two librarians set out into the remote hillside to explore the shadowed property, but the house-and its nightmarish tenants-are not what they seem. Whatever answers they stand to gain from their trip may come at too high a cost.

My rating is for the audiobook. I give this a 5 out of 5. Originally when I finished I probably would have given it a 4 out of 5 only for the way it ended but I have found out that a 4th book in the series came out so I'm excited to read that one (there isn't an audiobook for it yet) and see how it continues the story. I have very much enjoyed this series and this author's writing style is great! I can't wait to see what happens next! 5/5 Stars

Asylum by Ambrose Ibsen, audiobook, 6h 42m (Book #1 in Afterlife Investigations Series)

*From Goodreads* College professor Stephen Barlow needs cash. Badly. When a student asks him to head a new campus organization that centers around paranormal research, he puts his skepticism aside and signs on in the hopes of scoring a fat bonus. Enter Chaythe Asylum—a long-shuttered and controversial institution where patients were allegedly subjection to unethical experiments. Closed in 1989 after a series of grisly murders, Stephen deems the old building as good a place as any to explore the possibility of the supernatural and arranges to take a tour with his students. But it turns out that the asylum is not as abandoned as it seems. There is something sinister in the building. It has watched and waited for nearly three decades, and when Stephen and his students enter, they find themselves at the center of a nightmare 28 years in the making.

I have definitely found one of my new favorite authors. This is the second series I've started from Ambrose Ibsen and I have no complaints! Since listening to it, I do find the description to be incorrect. It was not a series of murders, it was a mass murder on a single night. He's also the head of a paranormal research club so it wasn't a tour it was an investigation. Semantics right?

My rating is for the audiobook. I give this a 4.75 out of 5 stars. The narrator was great. The story line was fantastic. At one point I was getting the plot of this book confused with I Have Some Questions For You only because they both take place on school campuses. That's what I get for attempting to read and/or listen to too many books at the same time! I can't wait to dive into the next book soon! 4.75/5 Stars


Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover, eBook, 327 pages

*From Goodreads* After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna Rowan returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. Everyone in her daughter's life is determined to shut Kenna out, no matter how hard she works to prove herself. The only person who hasn't closed the door on her completely is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna's daughter. But if anyone were to discover how Ledger is slowly becoming an important part of Kenna's life, both would risk losing the trust of everyone important to them. The two form a connection despite the pressure surrounding them, but as their romance grows, so does the risk. Kenna must find a way to absolve the mistakes of her past in order to build a future out of hope and healing.

This is my second Colleen Hoover book and I can definitely see how people just devour these books. I am by no means a fast reader so I cannot physically get through these books in a day but I could definitely put a hurt on one if all I had to do in the a day was read!

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. There was entirely too much crying on my end. The story definitely pulled at my heart strings. My daughter is the same age as Kenna's and I can't even imagine what my life would have been like without getting to watch her grow up from the moment she was born to now. You're definitely going to need some tissues unless you have a heart of stone. The only thing that I struggled with is that it was told by both Kenna and Ledger. Ledger was always in the present with some reflections but Kenna would go from present to past and sometimes I lost track of where I was in time.

4.5/5 Stars

The Wife Before by Shanora Williams, eBook, 311 pages

*From Goodreads* Samira Wilder has never had it easy, and when her latest lousy job goes south, things only promise to get harder. Until she unexpectedly meets a man who will change her life forever. Renowned pro golfer Roland Graham is wealthy, handsome, and caring, and Samira is dazzled. Best of all, he seems to understand her better than anyone ever has. And though their relationship moves a bit fast, when Roland proposes, Samira accepts. She even agrees to relocate to his secluded Colorado mansion. After all, there's nothing keeping her in Miami, and the mansion clearly makes him happy. Soon, they are married amid a media firestorm, and Samira can't wait to make a fresh start—as the second Mrs. Graham. Samira settles into the mansion, blissfully happy—until she discovers long-hidden journals belonging to Roland's late wife, Melanie, who died in a tragic accident. With each dusty page, Samira comes to realize that perhaps it was no accident at all—that perhaps her perfect husband is not as perfect as she thought. Even as her trust in Roland begins to dwindle and a shadow falls over her marriage and she begins to fear for her own life, Samira is determined to uncover the truth of Melanie's troubled last days. But even good wives should know that the truth is not always what it seems...

I give this book 4.75 out of 5 stars! I have never heard of this author or this book until it was on a list of books to pick from for the Black History Month badge for the Kindle Challenge. Everything about this story was amazing! The only reason it doesn't get full stars is that the ending kind of felt rushed. I've had to re-write this section a few times because I can't make it sound vague (to avoid spoilers) to have it make sense. Do yourself a favor and read this. If you've read Verity by Colleen Hoover (the only other book of her's that I've read) the you'll definitely like this! 4.75/5 Stars

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, eBook, 65 pages

*From Goodreads* A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a childhood friend, a new mother who wanted to know how to raise her baby girl to be a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response: fifteen invaluable suggestions—direct, wryly funny, and perceptive—for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. Filled with compassionate guidance and advice, it gets right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century, and starts a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. This is another book that I had never heard of or author I have never heard of. The only reasons I picked this book is that it was to get the Women's History Month badge and it was the shortest book. I knew I wouldn't have time to read or listen to any other book on the list for this badge however I do agree with a lot of these. Some I felt were a bit too much in my opinion but it's definitely something I'll revisit to teach to my daughter as she get's older. 4/5 Stars

KINDLE CHALLENGE UPDATE

Number of Badges Earned: 9

What Badges Were Earned:

Silver Reader (for reading for 40 days), Gold Reader (for reading 75 days), Perfect Week Leveled Up x13 (for reading every day Sunday - Saturday), Perfect Month Leveled Up x3, Best of 2022 (reading Reminders of Him), Black History Month (reading The Wife Before), Happily Ever After (for reading on Valentine's Day), Women's History Month (reading Dear Ijeawele), and Spring Reader (for reading 3 days between March 20 - March 31).

What Mystery Badges were Revealed:

1.4: Best of 2022; hint: a look back to 2022; challenge: read an Amazon Editor's Pick Best of 2022 by 3.31.23 (Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover) EARNED ON 3.30.23 2.1: Black History Month; hint: Amplify Black Voices; challenge: read an Amazon Editor's Pick for Black History Month during Black History Month (The Wife Before by Shanora Williams) EARNED ON 3.28.23

2.12 Happily Ever After; hint: A day of love; challenge: unlock this achievement when you read on Valentine's Day. Love is in the air! EARNED ON 2.14.23 3.3 Women's History Month; hint: Celebrate Women's History Month; challenge: read an Amazon Editor's Pick for Women's History Month (Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) EARNED ON 3.31.23 3.20 Spring Reader; hint: Say hello to spring; challenge: Read 3 days between March 20 - March 31 EARNED ON 3.23.23

WHAT IS PLANNED FOR APRIL

VBC: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, audiobook, 12h 15m

CBC: *catch up on All The Dangerous Things (eBook) and I Have Some Questions For You (Book)*

HFBC: *catch up on The Midwife of Auschwitz (audiobook)*

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