The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Source: Goodreads

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Kelly Barhnhill

Hardcover, 388 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Algonquin Young Readers
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule -- but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her -- even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

The acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic.

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

I truly LOVED everything about this book - from cover to final page! I'm struggling to pull together the words to do justice to this brilliant work so I'll simply leave you with this:

If you enjoy stories with a wealth of characters, suspense, intrigue, and layers of meaning that will leave you feeling hopeful, satisfied, and in awe, this may be the book for you!

 

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Happy Reading!

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The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

 

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
Source: Goodreads

The Music Shop

Rachel Joyce

Hardcover, 306 pages
Published January 2nd 2018 (first published July 13th 2017)
 
It is 1988. On a dead-end street in a run-down suburb there is a music shop that stands small and brightly lit, jam-packed with records of every kind. Like a beacon, the shop attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift; Frank, the shop's owner, has a way of connecting his customers with just the piece of music they need. Then, one day, into his shop comes a beautiful young woman, Ilse Brauchmann, who asks Frank to teach her about music. Terrified of real closeness, Frank feels compelled to turn and run, yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems, and Frank has old wounds that threaten to reopen, as well as a past it seems he will never leave behind. Can a man who is so in tune with other people's needs be so incapable of connecting with the one person who might save him? The journey that these two quirky, wonderful characters make in order to overcome their emotional baggage speaks to the healing power of music--and love--in this poignant, ultimately joyful work of fiction.

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

“Would you wait for the person you loved?”
“Yes,” he said. “Would you?”
“Yes,” she said. “I would.”
“And all the time they spoke, the rain fell, just like the Chopin prelude, hitting the window in beads that ran the length of the glass then disappeared.”

What a fun, heart-warming story filled with endearing characters and nostalgia of vinyl records and music. Rachel Joyce writes beautifully; the story smoothly flows along at just the right pace as you develop relationships with the imperfect, lovable characters that fit together like puzzle pieces in each other’s lives.

They characters are an unlikely bunch, but they care about each other and at times had me laughing out loud with their banter. Beginning in the 1988, their story carries us through the next 20+ years and many of the changes that occur in their lives, community, and trends in the music industry that leave vinyl behind. The story unfolds to show us how our past not only shapes who we, but also our perceptions, which at times can lead us to incorrect conclusions, fear, and lack of faith in ourselves, yet how love and faith in each other ultimately lifts us up in our most difficult times.

What I loved most about this story is the clever setting of the music shop and the owner, Frank, who staunchly sells only vinyl records. He helps people with his unique talent. Frank can sense the music inside people and knows the exact genre, artist, and piece of music they need. He knows music. He doesn’t just hear the music, he  it. As he helps his customers and internally reflects on his childhood memories with his mother, we learn about the music as he did - what to listen for, the background and experiences of the composer and musicians, and most of all how to feel the story in the music and allow it to become part of you.

If you like romantic comedies or dramadies, you’ll enjoy this book. And I’m willing to bet you’ll gain a greater appreciation of music to boot!

 

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Happy Reading!

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Alexis Carew #5, Privateer by J.A. Sutherland

Alexis Carew #5, Privateer by J.A. Sutherland

 

Privateer, Alexis Carew #5 by J.A. Sutherland
Source: Goodreads

Privateer

Alexis Carew  #5

J.A. Sutherland

Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published November 1st 2017
 
Even with no war on, there are always battles to fight.

A cease-fire in the war with Hanover leaves Lieutenant Alexis Carew on half-pay, in-atmosphere, and with her ship laid up in ordinary until called upon once more for the “needs of the Service.” She was, at least, lucky enough to be in her home star system when Nightingale paid off, unlike much of her former crew.

She’s left to help manage her family lands, though still with no certainty she’ll be allowed to inherit them. It would be a tranquil, peaceful life, if not for the influx of asteroid miners seeking their fortunes, the uncertainties of her inheritance, and the nagging certainty that her current life is not what she really wants.

She’d give anything to command a ship again.

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

With a new ship, a new ragtag crew, a new “uniform”, and the same old “vile creature”, we join Alexis in her next colorful adventure!

Back in-atmosphere and on half-pay from the Royal Navy, Alexis is bored. She realizes her true calling may not be that of managing her family lands after all. She yearns for the action of space and command. In this, the fourth book in the series, Alexis ventures into an all new role - Privateer.

I enjoyed Alexis’ new-found freedom from strict Naval rules. A natural leader, she builds a loyal crew from a bunch of misfits and takes on her new role with flair. With banter, scuffles with rival crews, duels, and shanties, Alexis and her lads take us on a lively, swashbuckling adventure that once again, captured my attention from start to finish - a cliff-hanging finish! The author apologizes to those who hate that sort of thing but explains it just had to be done because her story was too big for one volume. That suits me fine! I love knowing more is coming in this series!

 

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Happy Reading!

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How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

 

How To Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster - Cover
Source: Goodreads

How To Read Literature Like a Professor

Thomas C. Foster

Paperback, 314 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published February 18th 2003)
 
What does it mean when a fictional hero takes a journey? Shares a meal? Gets drenched in a sudden rain shower? Often, there is much more going on in a novel or poem than is readily visible on the surface -- a symbol, maybe, that remains elusive, or an unexpected twist on a character -- and there's that sneaking suspicion that the deeper meaning of a literary text keeps escaping you.

In this practical and amusing guide to literature, Thomas C. Foster shows how easy and gratifying it is to unlock those hidden truths, and to discover a world where a road leads to a quest; a shared meal may signify a communion; and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just rain. Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices, and form, How to Read Literature Like a Professor is the perfect companion for making your reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun.

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

"An understanding of the story in terms of what literally happens...is a great starting point. From there, if you consider the pattern of images and allusions, you'll begin to see more going on...that will enrich and deepen your experience of the story."

To be honest, I thought this book would be bit elitist and snobbish but I was WRONG. This book is not only highly entertaining and readable, but it's bulging with valuable, doable steps to enrich your reading experiences. 

I'm sad to say that I never learned any of this in high school. Surprising, right? Oh, I was a great student - one with a 4.0 GPA that learned very little. I memorized everything for the exams and performed a brain dump the moment the exam was over. It was not until I attended college (on an academic scholarship no less) that the level of disservice I had inflicted upon myself became apparent. Suffice it to say, I am grateful for my changed attitude toward learning and for this book. 

Here, the author deftly guides you through the important components of writing: memory, symbol, and pattern. He gives you loads of interesting and fun literary examples to help you recognize these components, ponder them, and to draw conclusions of what they mean or represent to you. One of the most enlightening steps for me was Reader Perspective; How important it is to understand the author's background, the setting, environment, the general knowledge base for the time period, and to set aside my own views in order to more fully experience the story and relate to the characters. 

I especially appreciated his closing suggestions: to read things you like, read good writing, and have fun doing it! If I employ even one of the steps or suggestions in this book, I'll be a better reader for it. You might be, too. Give it a try.

 

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Happy Reading!

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The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell

The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell

 

The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell, book cover
Source: Goodreads

The Turquoise Table

Kristin Schell

 
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Thomas Nelson
 
A simple way to connect your neighborhood, your community and build friendships.

Are you consumed with a busy life but unsure how to slow down? Do you desire connection within your community and think, “Absolutely, but I don’t have time for that” or “I can’t create that”? What if there was another way through it all, a way to find those moments of peace and to create a time for honest, comfortable connection? What if meeting neighbors and connecting with friends was as simple as showing up and being available?

Desperate for a way to slow down and connect, Kristin Schell put an ordinary picnic table in her front yard, painted it turquoise, and began inviting friends and neighbors to join her. Life changed in her community and it can change in yours, too. Alongside personal and heartwarming stories, Kristin gives you:

  • Stress-free ideas for kick-starting your own Turquoise Table
  • Simple recipes to take outside and share with others
  • Stories from people using Turquoise Tables in their neighborhoods
  • Encouragement to overcome barriers that keep you from connecting
  • New ways to view hospitality

Today, Turquoise Tables are inviting individuals to connect with each other in nearly all fifty states and seven countries. Ordinary people like you wanting to make a difference right where they live.

Community and friendship are waiting just outside your front door.

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

"Life at the turquoise table is a multitude of tiny moments, mini-miracles really, strung together like radiant beams of light over the places we call home."

Beautiful inside and out, filled with simple brilliance -- wisdom, poignant real-life stories, recipes, thoughtful questions, activities and tips that remind us the importance of making deep connections with others. This is often difficult for me as I tend toward the introvert end of the social spectrum. Yet, Kristin's experiences, ideas, and suggestions are not only simple and doable, they are motivating and inspiring!

I devoured this book and was touched by the abundant wisdom in her relatable statements such as "We strive for independence - we fight for it. But we are not meant to live as lone rangers." and the clarification that hospitality should not be confused with entertainment. Instead, hospitality "is always about the people, not the presentation." What a great reminder of the joy that can be found in simplicity.

Open this book to any page and read. You'll come away feeling uplifted, empowered, and inspired. 

Turquoise tables multiplying like rabbits. ... "Whodda thunk?"!

 

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Happy Reading!

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