Map of the Heart

Book 6 in 2019.

“Map of the Heart” by, Susan Wiggs.

I cannot remember why I got this book from the library. I have not ever read anything by Susan Wiggs. I am super excited though because I really liked her! I love finding new authors to try. Even though, once again my reoccurring theme, it was a story built around a tragedy, I wanted all the feels and got them.

It takes place in present day with a widowed mother and her teenage daughter. Their aging father/grandfather wants to go back to his ancestral home in southern France. To my pleasant surprise, there is also a little side story from WWII involving the father’s mother.

All the feels involves:

Death. War. Peace. Life.

Young love. Lost love. New love.

Family. Friends. Perseverance.

Such a well rounded, well written story. I could not get enough. Overall afterthought, good stuff.

All the Flowers in Paris

Book 5 in 2020.

“All the Flowers in Paris” by, Sarah Jio.

I am apparently on a roll for tragic, tear jerker stories. This takes place in present day and 1943 German occupied Paris. Two women’s lives from different times are trying to make their way through the life that has been given to them. Hardships, heartaches, a mother’s love , and the city of Paris, have their stories intertwined in unexpected ways.

I think if I had not just finished the saddest book ever yesterday, “The Stationery Shop of Tehran”, I may of been a little bit more up for this story. Ugh. As a mom, there was so much gut wrenching stuff in here. However, I did like Sarah Jio’s style. Her story flowed and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen. I read this all in one day. I will for sure check out some more of her books. It was a great, tragic, well written story. Overall afterthought, so sad though.

The Stationery Shop of Tehran

Book 4 in 2020.

“The Stationery Shop of Tehran” by,

Marjan Kamali.

Can I just say that sad stories are not my favorite. I feel there is so much sadness out there, I am not always sure I want to spend my limited free time sobbing. (I can get a little emotional ok) I know these are fictional characters, experiencing fictional tragedies, but they do happen to real people! Sniff.

This. Story. So. So. Good.

But. So. So. Sad.

I actually really, really enjoyed this book. I almost did not read it because I thought it was going to be too political. (I hate politics more than sad stories… ha. Apparently I am high maintenance) It tells a story of two young people who fell in love in Tehran, Iran in the 1950’s. The political unrest and social hierarchies of the time had them fighting a losing battle on all fronts. They believed that their love could change it all.

Listen, if you are up for it, read this tragic love story and have a good cry. Overall afterthought, loved it.

The Winter Guest

Book 3 in 2020.

“The Winter Guest” by, Pam Jenoff.

If you know anything about the books I read, you had to know a WWII historical fiction book was coming up soon. I have an entire stack of new books just waiting to be read , several of them are about WWII. My husband asked me if I was opening a used book store. No dear, they are just amazing library books. It is my personal mission to keep libraries in business. I just want to hold a paper book in my hand and turn its pages. No school like the old school.

This story takes place in a rural village in Poland. Eighteen year old twin sisters are struggling to survive with their three younger siblings during the beginning of WWII. Their mother is sick at a convalescent home and their father died in an accident. The Germans have occupied the neighboring city and it is only a matter of time before they come to their quiet village. One of the sisters finds an injured American airman in the woods. Helping him changes the entire course of her small family.

This was not my favorite. It was ok, just felt like it moved very slow until the end. Then it was rapid succession. There was enough to keep me reading, that darn closure thing I struggle with. Overall afterthought, eh.

A Call to Mercy

Book 2 in 2020.

“A Call to Mercy”, by Mother Teresa.

Wow. Why I have never actually read anything on Mother Teresa? Of course I knew who she was but that was about it. This tells you a little bit of her story. Then recounts things that she had said in speeches, letters to people, or just written about. After you read her words, there are several “testimonies” or other people’s accounts of their personal experiences with her.

What an amazing selfless journey of love. I felt kicked in the gut several times. What am I even doing? What can I even do? Give love. Spread mercy. Be kind. Love people like Jesus did. See everyone as He does. Wouldn’t the world be a better place? Maybe if we all start in our little “worlds” it would spread. Overall afterthought, powerful, challenging.

The Memory Police

Book 1 in 2020.

“The Memory Police” by, Yoko Ogawa.

Happy New Year! Ha. Ok so it’s already the 15th. I have been reading, just not posting. I started the year off with something new and different. This book is from a Japanese author and translated into English. I don’t read too many international books. Every once in a while I get a little crazy.

“The Memory Police” takes place on an unnamed island during an unnamed time. The people on the island keep waking up to things disappearing. Hats, boats, birds, etc, either disappear or leave. When things leave, the people on the island are responsible to search their homes, find the items that need to “disappear ” and must take them to the river and dispose of them. Then they forget those things every existed. However, there are some people who cannot forget. Their memories of the things lost remain. If you are discovered remembering, the memory police comes and takes you away.

Bizarre. I have yet to read such a book. There was definitely a political feel to this. An undertone of “don’t let the man control you”. I know if I was super into symbolism I could really dissect this. But I won’t. It was sad and kind of doom and gloom. Overall afterthought, I’m glad I don’t live on that island.

Never Have I Ever

Book 69 in 2019.

“Never Have I Ever” by, Joshilyn Jackson.

Well here we are ending a year. Ending a decade. Can you even believe it? This was quite a decade. My thirties flashing rapidly before my eyes. Life. Death. Joy. Sorrow. Laughter. Love. All the feels. I try to never take for granted the ones I love and cherish. Life is precious, I am so thankful for all who are a part of my journey. Looking forward to the next decade. Peace out 2019.

I wish all of you a very blessed 2020!

Now, I for some reason in my head thought this was my 70th book of the year. Epic fail. Ha. I only made it to 69. Which is ok. That elusive 100 number is always my goal. I predict it will take me a few more years to get there, when these busy boys move on to college and careers. I will be here reading.

I have yet to read a Joshilyn Jackson book I did not like. Her stories are beyond intriguing and captivating. This book followed her amazing track record of unique and different ideas and story telling. It was however, quite a bit darker and had some very disturbing things in it. I am walking away feeling a little yucky. These feelings did not take away how crazy intense and good the entire book was. It was one I could not put down. Overall afterthought, intense.

The Lost Art of Mixing

Book 68 in 2019.

“The Lost Art if Mixing” by Erica Bauermeister.

I loved Erica Bauermeister’s “The Scent Keeper”. It was such a unique story, and flowed so well. So I thought I would try another of her books. I did not know when I picked it up it is actually a sequel to her book “The School of Essential Ingredients”. Which goes against my personal rule of reading books in order.

This is about several characters who are all connected somehow through Lillian’s restaurant. They are each struggling with life, love and complicated relationships. I think maybe if I read the first book I could of understood the characters a little better. I felt like the story jumped all over the place. I didn’t really connect with any of them. I found almost all of their struggles overwhelmingly sad. Overall afterthought, not my favorite.

The Christmas Train

Book 67 in 2019.

“The Christmas Train” by, David Baldacci.

I was looking for a Christmas book. Last year I read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. So who better to bring me a Christmas story than my boy David Baldacci. I love his series “King and Maxwell” and “Will Robie”. Great stories, awesome characters, fairly clean, quality stuff.

It is about a journalist who has decided to take the train from Washington DC to Los Angeles. There is a lot of characters he meets along the way, a little mystery, a little adventure and a little love. Apparently it was made into a Hallmark Christmas movie.

I am not a huge fan of Hallmark movies. I can only watch maybe one to two a year. This was complete “Hallmark”. But, I thought it was great. I have reached my fluff limit for the year. Ha. There was also a lot of train history and fun facts. If you’re in to that kind of thing. It wasn’t the best ever, but it wasn’t the worst. Overall afterthought, happy endings make me smile.

The Victory Garden

Book 66 in 2019.

“The Victory Garden” by, Rhys Bowen.

Rhys Bowen has written two series that I absolutely loved. “The Molly Murphy Series”, and “The Royal Spyness Series”. I have also read two of her stand alone books and thought they were great. She writes almost all historical fiction. I was so excited to read this new book.

It takes place in England during WWI , where recently turned twenty one year old, Emily Bryce is trying to find her way to help out with the war. She ends up working as a land girl against her parents wishes. She also meets an Australian pilot and falls in love. Her parents make her choose him or them. She of course chooses him. When the war ends she has to continue to make her way in this new world apart from her family.

Ok. So there is obviously a lot more to the story. I felt like it jumped all over the place. It moved fast and took a lot of twists and turns at a weird pace. It was not my favorite, and I forced myself to finish. Needless to say, it is the first book of Rhys Bowen’s that I did not enjoy. If she comes out with something new again, I will still pick it up because I have faith in her! Overall afterthought, pretty disappointed.