Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

91vrkey6umlBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Genre: Historical Fiction
3.5 stars

Twelve-year-old Rill and her four siblings live an enchanted life aboard the shanty boat their family calls home. Moving from place to place, living off whatever the river provides, to Rill, life on the river is all she has ever known. When their parents are forced to rush to the hospital one night, the five children are snatched from their home and find themselves forced into a life more horrible than they could have ever imagined at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society Orphanage. Continue reading “Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate”

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical fiction
4.5 stars.

I have read countless WWII novels, but few have haunted me for so many months after I finished it than The Nightingale. This is a tale of the strength of women in wartime, highlighting the ways bravery can take on many different faces. Continue reading “The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah”

Top 5 Wednesday: Hate to Love Ships

top five wednesday

Okay, who doesn’t love a good hate to love romance? I mean, the tension, the will they/won’t they can drive me through a book like nothing else. A truly good “hate to love” romance is not actually “hate to love.” It’s more of a passionate frustration, often driven by misunderstanding, between parties who are mutually stimulated/attracted (often intellectually) by the other. There’s just something so fun about this trope, and so satisfying, that it has been played upon again and again throughout the history of literature. “Hate to love” romances done well can truly explore a character’s growth and change, and I think that is why we can’t help but love this trope. Without further ado, here are my top 5 Hate to Love ships in books. Continue reading “Top 5 Wednesday: Hate to Love Ships”

Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes


Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
Genre: Historical fiction
3 stars.

This was such a frustrating mess of positives and negatives that it was difficult to decide between 2.5 and three stars. I eventually went with three stars because, despite all its issues, Ship of Brides was still an enjoyable read. Continue reading “Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes”

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch


Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch
Genre: Realistic fiction, YA
4 stars.

Dairy Queen was heart-felt and real, with a protagonist who was both hilarious, humanly flawed, and relatable.

DJ Schwenk is on the cusp of her junior year of high school, but with her dad’s hip injury, her mom’s work schedule, and her older brothers away at college on football scholarships, management of the family dairy farm has fallen solely to her. She finds herself working dawn till dusk to keep the farm afloat. It isn’t until the spoiled, rich brat Brian Nelson, quarter back of her rival town’s football team, is sent to help her work that she begins to question her lot in life and what it is that she truly wants. Continue reading “Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch”

Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson


Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson
Genre: Realistic fiction
4 stars.

“In those seconds, I suppose I learned that chaos doesn’t need to breed more chaos. Sometimes all it takes is the right person by your side to make everything all right in the end.”

Ten Birthdays was heart warming and unexpectedly poignant.

Poppy lost her mom on her 15th birthday. But what Poppy doesn’t know is that her mother has written her one letter for each of her next ten birthdays so that she could remain a part of her life. Each chapter follows another year in Poppy’s life, another birthday as she reflects on the previous year, and struggles with problems of growing up. Each year we wait with baited breath for the long awaited letter from her mother, filled with love, laughter, and advice on how to live life well. Continue reading “Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson”

Hunted by Megan Spooner


Hunted by Megan Spooner
Genre: Fantasy, fairy tale retelling, YA
4 stars.

I have not read as genuinely delightful of a fairy tale retelling in years. Hunted follows in the hallowed tradition of Robin McKinley and Juliet Marillier, and I was immediately swept into the nostalgia of Spooner’s enchanted world.

Yeva, the youngest daughter of a wealthy merchant, longs for the solitude and magic of the forest, where she is free from the confines of society and can hunt as she pleases. When her father falls into financial ruin and then madness, disappearing into the forest in search of a mysterious “cunning beast,” Yeva has no choice but to follow him. When she finds a beast of nightmares looming over her father’s body in the snow, she swears vengeance on the creature who killed her father and that has now taken her captive to complete some mysterious test. Continue reading “Hunted by Megan Spooner”

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

This post does NOT contain spoilers.

5/5 stars on Rachel’s Rating Scale
PG for mild violence
Young adult, fantasy, hints of magic, royalty, medieval-type warfare

Ahh, Crown Duel. What is there to say other than that I fell head over heels in love with this book when I was twelve. It’s got everything a girl could want out of a fluff book: Adventure, romance, intrigue, and hints of magic.

Originally published as two books, Crown Duel and Court Duel were later republished as one since publishers decided that readers would be more interested in one longer book rather than two shorter books.

When I first read it, it was two books set in the fantasy world of Remalna which was originally populated by humans when humans from our world stumbled through a portal from earth to the world where Remalna is located. But that is not actually a thing that you find out in this book or even need to know ever. I don’t even remember where I read that.

Meliara Astiar is your plucky, backwoods heroine who knows little about being a lady and much about running barefoot through the grounds of her family’s country castle. When her father dies, Mel and her brother Branaric are suddenly thrust into leading a doomed revolt against the greedy King of Remalna who is threatening to destroy Remalna’s sacred colorwood trees. When Mel is kidnapped by the enemy and dragged toward the capital city, she finds herself face to face with the Marquis of Shevraeth, the man she detests most in the world. In a rocky sequence of events where things are not always as they seem, Mel must stand up to the king and try to save her people, as well as herself, from destruction.

In book one, Mel overcomes physical obstacles and learns to survive while on the run. The second book takes the backwoods countess and forces her into the proper drawing rooms and vicious social world of Remalna’s court. Here, friends could be enemies and enemies could be friends, and Mel has to learn to navigate it all.

That is what I love about these books (book?). One moment you have a thrilling action filled tale of a girl on the run in the midst of an impossible war. Then, its all social intrigue where every look, every gesture, every word holds a deeper meaning. It has an air of an Austen-eque kind of social interaction, which is probably actually why I like it so much, mixed with high adventure. Plus, the heroine can take care of herself.

Through it all, the characters are engaging and relate-able, and every girl who has ever been to middle school or high school can understand the agony of social rejection or just doing something stupid in front of people, which is basically Mel all the time.

Plus, what kind of a fluff book would it be without the suave love interest that you can fall in love with right along with your character? The nice thing about Crown Duel is that the romance is so subtle, so unusual, that, like Mr. Darcy says to Lizzie, I “was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

I give it a 5/5 on my rating scale, which means I’ve read it close to eight zillion times. I’d say its a must read for girls ages 12-25.