Coming of Age

Happy Saturday readers! I hope your weekend is going well so far. I had Friday afternoon off yesterday and spent time with my daughter. I’m now at work and thought I would catch up on my blog since it is not busy. I spent time this week going through my Goodreads to-read list. I deleted books that I know I’m never going to get around to reading and also tried to list one book per author so my list isn’t so overwhelming. You can follow me at https://www.goodreads.com/bschick

I have two books today that I am going to review and they are what I would label as coming of age. These type of books usually get mixed reviews. Some readers really enjoy them while others do not. I can understand both sides. My first book is Without Merit by Colleen Hoover and the second isFirefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Most of you have probably heard of Firefly Lane. I have read this book twice-once as a young single woman and just recently as a married mom of a daughter.

I can tell you that I spent most of my childhood reading, which I am sure is not surprising to any of you that know me well outside of the blog. My mom would drop me off for a few hours at the local library in 4th/5th grade and I would spend hours reading. Connie, the children’s librarian, would always talk to me and recommend books that I might like to read. I don’t regret spending a lot of time reading. I think it helped me in school and helped me learn about the world around me. I remember reading the Nancy Drew series (still one of my favorites), the Ramona series, Babysitters Club, Trixie Belden mystery series, Judy Blume novels, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I was so obsessed with reading that I would take my literature textbook home and read all the stories in it. My 4th grade teacher read Harriet the Spy outloud to us in class and I asked for her copy to take home so I could read it. It’s another one of my all time favorite novels.

The library in Waxahachie, TX where I spent most of my childhood reading. The building is gorgeous.

If you are a fan of Colleen Hoover, then you may have heard of Without Merit. The ladies that I am in a FB group with recommended Hoover as an author to read. I love her writing and can’t wait to read more novels written by her.

Title: Without Merit
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 2017
Format: Hardcover
Length: 385 pages


Merit is overwhelmed by all the emotions that come with being a teenage girl. She lives with her dad, stepmom, and two teenage siblings. The family lives in a church converted to a home with the basement being used as a separate living quarter for her biological mom that nevers leaves due to a severe anxiety disorder. She doesn’t understand the real reason behind her parent’s separation, why her brother always acts so weird and Merit has a strained relationship with her teen sister, Honor, the one child in the family that seems to always have her act together. Merit meets a guy she likes, but is unsure of starting a relationship with him. She has a breakdown due to all the emotions running through her which leads to all family secrets being revealed.

Without Merit is a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. I thought Colleen Hoover did a great job of capturing what it feels like to be a teenager and not being able to process adult situations at times. Her emotions cause her reality to be skewed. The characters have quirky names which I thought added to the book. The book is a little edgy, which I like. If you are a fan of YA fiction, you will love Without Merit.

Favorite quote from the book: “Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

five out of five bookworms

About the author

From the author’s website:

Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nineteen novels and novellas. Hoover’s novels fall into the New Adult and Young Adult contemporary romance categories, as well as psychological thriller. 

Colleen Hoover is published by Montlake Romance and Atria Books. Colleen also has several indie titles, including her most recent novel, Verity.

In 2015, Colleen’s novel CONFESS won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance. That was followed up in 2016 with her latest title, It Ends With Us, also winning the Choice Award for Best Romance. In 2017, her title WITHOUT MERIT won best romance.

Her novel CONFESS has been filmed as a series by Awestruck and is available on Go90.com. Katie Leclerc and Ryan Cooper star in the series.

Learn more at www.colleenhoover.com

Title: Firefly Lane
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 2008
Format: Hardcover
Length: 479 pages

I recently read Firefly Lane for the second time. The novel first captured my attention as a young adult because of the close friendship between Kate and Tully. They spent time sneaking out of their houses and riding bikes together. I had close friends that I grew up with and some of my favorite memories are of us riding bikes together. There was a creek behind the neighborhood I grew up in and I would ride my bike over it to visit a best friend. We remain close today even though our lives have taken us different places.

Kate and Tully are close friends and go through several stages of life together. Tully betrays Kate and the friendship becomes strained, but Kate is able to forgive even though she still feels a little insecure around Tully. Tully remains single and focuses on her successful career as a reporter. Kate begins her life after college working for the same news station as Tully and finds love at work. She marries and becomes a stay at home mom.

I view the novel differently as a woman in my thirties than I did as a young woman in my twenties. I appreciate the relationship between Kate and Tully so much more. Friends go through different seasons of life and the ability to remain close to each other takes work. They both show an amazing amount of forgiveness to each other and support each no matter the consequence. Both women are so strong in their own ways. Each time I have read the book, I thought Tully needed more development as a character. She came so far in the novel by escaping her difficult past and becoming successful. I thought she needed her own successful relationship with a man in the novel as well. I started the sequel, Fly Away, but haven’t finished. I’m glad that Hannah decided to further develop Tully’s character.

Favorite quote from the book: “To make real friends you have to put yourself out there. Sometimes people will let you down, but you can’t let that stop you. If you get hurt, just pick yourself up, dust off your feelings, and try again.”

five out of five bookworms

Firefly Lane is being developed as a Netflix series and will be released in 2020.

About the author

From the author’s website:

Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, Winter GardenNight Road, and Firefly Lane.

Her novel, The Nightingale, has been published in 43 languages and is currently in movie production at TriStar Pictures, which also optioned her novel, The Great Alone. Her novel, Home Front has been optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to direct.

Kristin is a former-lawyer-turned writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Her novel, Firefly Lane, became a runaway bestseller in 2009, a touchstone novel that brought women together, and The Nightingale, in 2015 was voted a best book of the year by Amazon, Buzzfeed, iTunes, Library JournalPasteThe Wall Street Journal and The Week.  Additionally, the novel won the coveted Goodreads and People’s Choice Awards. The audiobook of The Nightingale won the Audiobook of the Year Award in the fiction category.

Learn more at www.kristinhannah.com

What I’m watching now…

Virgin River is based on the romance novel series by Robyn Carr. A nurse practitioner moves to a rural town in California to start life anew. Available to stream on Netflix.

A documentary about Navarro College cheerleaders in Corsicana, TX and their fearless coach, Monica Aldama, whose Navarro cheer squads have won Grand Nationals 5 times and 14 National Cheer Association Junior College National Championships. Available to stream on Netflix.

Safe is a British mini-series created by author Harlan Coben. A surgeon’s daughter goes missing one night in an affluent neighborhood after a teen party. What he learns about his community is shocking. Available to stream on Netflix.

Across the Pond

Hi readers! I hope your holidays were fabulous. I spent mine with family, friends, good food, received many nice gifts and of course, made time for reading. This year my goal as a reader is to actually start and FINISH a series. If you’ve been on my blog before, you know how bad I am at this. We will see how this goes. I’ve chosen the Outlander series and have completed reading the first book. New Year’s goals are usually something I break, but this year I am determined to follow several of mine through. I will let you know at the end of the year how I did.

I have to brag on my Doxie for a minute. I spend so much time playing and walking with her. She’s only six months so she doesn’t sit still enough to be a reading buddy yet. I’ve wanted a tiny dog my whole life to take care of so the fact I have one now is just bliss. How can you say no to this innocent face???? You just can’t.

I subscribed to PBS Masterpiece, Lifetime Movie Club and BritBox on Amazon Prime over the break. Here is what I have found so far that I recommend…

Sense and Sensibility by the BBC is just SO GOOD. It was my favorite series that I watched over the holidays. The acting was superb. The series stars Hattie Morahan, Charity Wakefield, and Dan Stevens.

VERA is about a witty British detective created by author Ann Cleeves. A few seasons are available through BritBox. If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, you will love VERA.

Cranford is a Masterpiece drama about two spinster sisters and their young female houseguest living in a small England town. The series stars Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins.

The Durells in Corfu is a comedy series about a young widow who moves her family from England to the Greek island of Corfu. The series is based on memoirs written by Gerald Durrell.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. This classic is a must.

I read three books over the holidays and am going to write about two today that are popular.

Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell
Date: 1992
Format: Paperback
Length: 850 pages

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is a perfect read for those that love history, fantasy and romance. It is a perfect escape read. I love the characters of Claire Randall and James Fraser. It is obvious to me as a reader that Gabaldon spent hours studying Scottish history. There is so much detail in her novel. The romance scenes were beautiful without being too cheesy and overdone. I loved the bravery of Claire’s character. Picture of Outlander’s James Fraser below because it’s Monday. You’re welcome.



About the Author

From the author’s website:
Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting ‘Scrooge McDuck’ comics.”

Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology.

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Thomas Egerton
Publication Date: 1811
Format: Hardcover

Jane Austen’s classic, Sense and Sensibility, is about two sisters who experience the perils of love-heartbreak, betrayal, and abandonment. As much heartbreak and anguish is to be found, the story ends on a happy note which is the trademark all Austen fans love.

About the Author

Jane Austen is the beloved English novelist that wrote Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. Her work is best known for satire and social commentary of 19th century England.

Beach Reads

Summer is almost here! Today they are doing a beach day party at my daughter’s school. So jealous! Who doesn’t love a day at the beach? I’ve read a few beach reads that are going to be published this month and wanted to share them with you. I also have a few of my favorites listed as well.

Title: I Spy the Boy Next Door
Author: Samantha Armstrong
Publisher: Samantha Armstrong
Publication Date: May 25th, 2019
Format: Paperback
Length: 346 pages


Mallory has a huge crush on the boy next door. The only problem is that she’s homeschooled and doesn’t have a chance to really know him, until she begs her parents to let her attend public school. Troy Parker, the boy next door, is everything she hoped he would be. Troy acts distant from Mallory at times, yet at other times he is completely protective. This throws Mallory into a complete emotional spin as she is trying to figure out exactly what is going on with Troy and all of his mysterious ways. Does he love her or is he just playing with her emotions?

I Spy the Boy Next door is the typical high school drama of the good girl trying to get the bad boy. I think many teenage girls had this experience and the author creates a scenario in which the good girl does get the out of reach bad boy. He is protective, mysterious, romantic and a little rebellious, but still meets parent approval. The author writes with enough romance and suspense to keep your attention. The book is overall a very fun summer read that allows the reader to escape the real world for awhile.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

Samantha Armstrong was born and raised in New Zealand. I Spy The Boy Next Door is her third novel published. You can find out more at her website,
https://www.samantharmstrong.com/

Pre-order her novel here from Amazon.

Title: Queen Bee
Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Length: 432 pages

Queen Bee is the first Dorothea Benton Frank novel I have read. I feel like the author and I could be good friends. You can easily imagine yourself on Sullivan’s Island engaging with the characters. Her writing comes across as so real. Queen Bee is a really quirky, fun novel for summer. I look forward to reading many more novels by the author.

Centered around two sisters and the mom, or “Queen Bee” as they call her, the three ladies are enjoying life on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina. Leslie moves away after she is married to a childhood sweetheart. What she doesn’t know is that he has a secret love for impersonating a woman and performing on stage. The other sister, Holly, is a homebody and beekeeper trying to overcome a painful past. The mom goes into a deep depression after Leslie leaves the island and won’t get out of bed. All three must overcome their fears so they can lead the life they want.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

Dorothea Benton Frank is the New York Times Bestselling Author of twenty novels, which are set in the South Carolina Lowcountry. She loves reading, gardening, cooking and spending time with her family.
Visit her website:
http://dotfrank.com/
Pre-order here from Amazon.

I mentioned earlier on the blog that I love romance novels written in the 80’s. Victoria Holt is an example. I’m adding her to my list of fun beach reads.

Title: The Road to Paradise Island
Author: Victoria Holt
Publisher: Fawcett
Publication Date: October 12th, 1986
Format: Hardcover
Length: 480 pages

From the publisher:
Annalice Mallory, the sheltered daughter of a family of map makers, discovers the cryptic diary of her long-dead ancestor that includes a map of a mysterious far-of island. Philip, Annalice’s brother, sets sail for the island, lured by the promise of incomparable riches to be found. But when he doesn’t return, Annalice sets out to find him — and the secrets of the diary — in a desperate journey that leads her through the worlds’ most exciting outposts . . . and finally to the tropical islands of the South Seas, where she encounters heart-stopping peril, but also the promise of love.

Victoria Holt, real name Eleanor Alice Burford, was born in 1906 in Kensington, London and passed away in 1993. Her books written under her pen name, Victoria Holt, sold more than 56 million copies. See more of her works at
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/25092.Victoria_Holt

Purchase the book here from Amazon.

Title: Paradise Island
Author: Judith McNaught
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Length: 709 pages

Paradise is my absolute favorite romance novel. This is one of those novels that just stays with you. The writing and characters are TOO GOOD. Matthew Farrell and Meredith Bancroft are two of my favorite characters in any fiction book I’ve read. Book hangover guaranteed.

From the publisher:
Corporate raider Matthew Farrell had come a long way from the poor, scruffy kid of Indiana’s steel mills. A long way from the country club where, feeling like an outsider, he had dared to fall in love with a beautiful blonde named Meredith Bancroft, and known a once-in-a-lifetime passion and betrayal that still haunted his memory… Now world leaders courted him, the media watched his every move, and he was ready to move in on the Bancroft empire.

A cool, poised executive in her family’s legendary department store chain, Meredith had once defied her father for the sexually magnetic, intense Matt Farrell — and their brief, ill-fated marriage was the disastrous outcome. Now, as the Bancroft firm is threatened by a hostile takeover, Meredith is forced to confront Matt. As tensions build between them, bittersweet memories rise to the surface, leaving them suspicious, restless, and uncertain. Will they be able to believe in each other — and grasp the tender miracle that is before them? 
Order the novel here from Amazon.

Judith McNaught is the New York Times bestselling author of 19 novels. She currently lives in Dallas, TX. Follow her FB page here.

Title: The Shell Seekers
Author: Rosamunde Pilcher
Publisher: Dell
Publication Date: January 2, 1989
Format: Hardcover
Length: 592 pages

One of my favorite writers is Rosamunde Pilcher. Her books are such classics. I find myself becoming easily lost in her stories. The Shell Seekers is a perfect read for summer and it may easily become one of your favorite reads.

From the publisher:

Artist’s daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a Bohemian childhood in London and Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she truly loved. She has brought up three children – and learned to accept them as they are. Yet she is far too energetic and independent to settle sweetly into pensioned-off old-age. And when she discovers that her most treasured possession, her father’s painting, The Shell Seekers, is now worth a small fortune, it is Penelope who must make the decisions that will determine whether her family can continue to survive as a family, or be split apart. 

Purchase novel here.

Rosamunde Pilcher was born on September 22, 1924 and passed on February 06, 2019. She began writing at the age of 7. On December 7th, 1946, she married her late husband, Graham Pilcher with whom she had four children.
Read more about her and her novels here.