Book Review of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

368 pages

Published: 2/9/21 by Atria Books

Genre: Historical fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

*Click on photos to view original source.

”Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife. 

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.”


Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

“Numbers floated round my head like stars.”


If you enjoy books about books, then you’ll absolutely adore this one. It’s all about the American Library in Paris, which is still up and running to this day. I enjoyed the female power and determination that takes place in the story. We love strong female roles. The writing is no doubt beautiful and well done. I believe that the author spends quite a bit of time in Paris, so I’d say it’s pretty accurate, if I had to guess. It’s overall a great novel, but it just didn’t keep my attention. Historical fiction typically captures my attention, but I never wanted to pick this one back up. It was honestly a two-star read up until the last 50-ish pages.

I didn’t really care for any of the characters even though I could recognize how tough they were. There’s a strong community and family dynamic that I think a lot of people would enjoy. It’s more of family by choice type of situation. I can appreciate all of that.

I think the main thing that caused me to give it three stars was that it felt too long. Whenever I thought the story was about to come to a close, there was quite a bit left in the story. I’m sure no one else felt that way, but when you’re already not enjoying a book, that’s something that makes it feel even longer.

I know this author has written one other novel, so I’m interested in seeing if it’s something I’m interested in. I’d definitely give her a second chance. I really thought I’d fall in love with this one. It’s such a wonderful read, but I couldn’t get myself to give it more than a three-star rating. I would still recommend this since it’s a beloved book to many readers out there.


Janet Skeslien Charles divides her time between Paris and Montana. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family. 

The backdrop of her debut novel MOONLIGHT IN ODESSA is the booming business of email-order brides, an industry where love and marriage meet sex and commerce. 

Her second novel THE PARIS LIBRARY is based on the true story of the courageous librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II. Janet learned about the story when she worked at the Library.

Website: https://www.jskesliencharles.com


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Book Review of Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

336 pages

Publication date: 6/29/21 by Dutton Books

ISBN: 9780593183168

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

*Click on photos to view original source.

“It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.”


Since this isn’t a finished copy, I’m not able to post a first line.


Thank you to Dutton Books and NetGalley for the early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

I guess I’ll start with what I actually did like about this book.

I enjoyed the uneasiness this made me feel in the beginning. I thought Josh was such an odd character. He definitely served those serial killer vibes. He seemed almost robotic and cold. I actually loved his character when I first started the book.

I can also say that it’s very fast-paced. I probably could have read all of it in one day if I didn’t work all the time.

Okay, that’s about all for the pros.

I don’t want this to be super negative because I respect Sager as an author. He definitely has some great books, but this one just didn’t work for me.

This gave me I’m Thinking of Ending Things vibes when Charlie first got into Josh’s car. Obviously they’re not in a relationship, but it was the uneasy driving scene that made me think of it. This book just didn’t deliver the craziness that is Reid’s book.

I really, really didn’t enjoy the ending of this one. There was so much going on that I just didn’t care. I didn’t predict it, but at one point it all clicked in some weird way.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, so that’s about all I have to say. Even if I did spoil it, there’s not much to the book. It’s mainly one long car ride with some flashbacks and movie-filled daydreams. I just didn’t find the story thrilling in any way. I wouldn’t recommend this to Riley Sager fans or anyone in between.


Riley Sager is the award-winning pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”


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Book Review of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

464 pages

Published 2/6/18 by St. Martin’s Press

ISBN: 9781250165619

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*Click on photos to view source.

“Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.”


“That spring, rain fell in great sweeping gusts that rattled the rooftops.”


Content warning: PTSD, Abuse (physical, verbal, emotional), murder, death, grieving (loss of loved one / parent), cancer, description of broken bones / wounds, toxic family relationships.

As a first time reader of Kristin Hannah, I can safely say that this won’t be the last book I read from her. She seems like a good fiction author and storyteller. This was hard-hitting, but it wasn’t anything I haven’t read before in other books. Just be cautious going into it, and make sure to read the content warnings if you’re unsure.

Meet the Allbrights: Ernt, Cora, and Lenora “Leni”

Ernt, the father of this story, is a Vietnam veteran with PTSD. He watched a lot of bad things happen, and in return they’re impacting his present day life. He has moved his family five times in four years because he just wants the next best thing. The problem, he’s a toxic man who is feared by his wife and daughter. They’re afraid to speak up.

He receives a letter from the father of the man he watched die, and it states that his son wanted him to have his land in Alaska. Ernt doesn’t hesitate and drags his family to “The Great Alone.”

“Alaska isn’t about who you were when you headed this way. It’s about who you become.”

Even before they moved to Alaska, you can tell that Ernt isn’t a nice man. He’s very finicky and becomes upset easily. His actions in this book are very inexcusable regardless of his condition. I absolutely hated him. I almost put the book down because of how he treats people. I’m not sure of another way to tell you I hate him lol.

ANYWAY.

Leni and Matthew Walker’s relationship is honestly goals. They both have traumatic things going on in their lives, but they never judge one another. They help each other through it. They’re precious gems that should be protected at all times! They are also very smart kids. They can see the reality of any situation they’re in.

Cora. Cora, Cora, Cora. I know she is married to an abusive man, and hindsight is 20/20, but I just wanted to shake her! I wanted to tell her that she needs to get her and her daughter out of there. All she did was smoke and agree with Ernt. The occasional motherly scold came from her mouth, but nothing that would change Ernt’s mind. I know I shouldn’t hate her for anything, but her daughter should have been the first person she protected in their situation. I guess it’s one of those “easier said than done” situations.

The only problem I had with this was the transitions between events. Most of the time there was no warning, things just happened. I’m not going to spoil what made me drop the star rating, but I’m sure you probably have some inkling of what I’m talking about. Maybe I’m the only one with the problem. Either way, it wasn’t a five-star read for me. It was good but not that good.

I will definitely continue on reading Hannah’s other novels. I think if you read the content warnings about this one and are still interested, then go ahead and give it a go. It’s not perfect, but it’s fast-paced, action-packed, and the characters are well done. If you do pick it up or have already read it, let me know your thoughts.

Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. Her novel, The Great Alone, was also voted as Goodreads best historical novel of the year in 2018.”


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Book Review: Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children #5) by Seanan McGuire

Thank you to Tor.com & NetGalley for the digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children #5) by Seanan McGuire

Published: 1/7/20 by Tor.com

206 pages

ISBN: 9780765399311

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5.

B&N | Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors.

But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.

Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken.

Again.

Review:

We were lambs for the slaughter, all of us, and if we survived this long, it’s not because we’re special. Come on. Let’s be heroes one more time.”

Sumi

Characters |

This installment of the series pretty much dealt with a lot of old characters—mainly Jack—who I’m unfortunately not a fan of. I didn’t enjoy reading about Jack and Jill in the second book either. I don’t know what it is about them that just makes my blood boil. The Gothic vibe and I don’t mix well.

On a brighter note, I loved Kade and Sumi. Sumi is just a big bundle of illogical confection and a sense of adventure. She will give anyone a pep talk, as mumbo-jumbo as it may get. I also think I love her so much because book three is my favorite in the series.

Kade just wants to do a good job and be a hero.There’s a scene involving him that actually made me sad. I just want to give Kade a hug at all times. He is supposed to be next in line for the school, since Eleanor is losing her interest after Lundy’s death. I can’t imagine the pressure that puts on him. He also deals with the minute problems that happen at the school. He’s definitely a trooper!

Alexis is a new character in this installment. She comes back to the school with Jack. There may or may not be a little female/female relationship going on there. *Wink, wink* I didn’t really have any issues with Alexis. She was a very average character. I enjoyed how great Alexis and Jack were together. I think they make a great pair.

P.S.: I also loved Pony and Bones—a normal horse and a skeleton of a horse. I’m sure you can guess who is who.

Story |

The story in this one fell flat for me. I just couldn’t tell you why, but I think it’s setting up for the next book or a book further down the line. The ending wasn’t disappointing by any means. I was actually pleased with how this one ended.
It just lacked action. They all go to the Moors—Jack’s world—to get her body back. It obviously goes against Eleanor’s rule: “No solicitation. No visitors. No quests.”

To sum it up in three words: water, vampires, and Jill—of course.
Jack is also trying to revive Dr. Bleak—a father figure to her. He helped her in so many ways that her real father never could. It’s sort of a sub-plot that is going to be the main plot in another book.


This one really shoves heroism in your face, and the fight between good and evil. The Moors really shows that fine line between the two sisters. Not that any of that is bad.

Writing |

I love McGuire’s writing. Even though I didn’t enjoy the book very much, I still felt many emotions throughout it. That tends to surprise me every time. I never have a lot to say about an author’s writing unless I absolutely hated the book or absolutely loved it. If you love McGuire, then you will love the writing style in this one!

Overall |

If you’re interested in knowing whether I’m continuing on with the series or not, then you will be happy to know that I am. I’m just hoping that something changes. I haven’t been the biggest fans of the last two installments. I want to love this series, so I’m going to give it another shot, fingers crossed.

“Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children was an island of misfit toys, a place to put the unfinished stories and broken wanderers who could butcher a deer and string a bow but no longer remembered what to do with indoor plumbing. It was also, more importantly, a holding pen for heroes. Whatever they might have become when they’d been cast out of their chosen homes, they’d been heroes once, each in their own ways. And they did not forget.”


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Book Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Thank you to G.P. Putnam’s Sons / NetGalley for the digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

320 pages

ISBN: 9780525541905

Published: December 31, 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5.

B&N | Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Review:

Characters |

Emira Tucker, twenty-five years old, the babysitter of Briar, Alix Chamberlain’s two-year old little girl, and can type 125 wpm. She’s from Sewell Bridge, Maryland where a certain percentage of the population is hearing impaired. Emira, fortunately, can hear perfectly fine. Her father owns a bee store, and her mother binds books in a screened room attached to their house. She has a brother, Alfie, who is a professional barista, and her sister’s name is Justyne—sewing master.

Alix (Alex) Chamberlain is married to Peter Chamberlain, and they have two little girls together—Briar and Catherine. They’ve been married since they were 28-years old. Alix wrote reviews of products she got for free. She gave a cover-letter-writing workshop to students at Columbia Grammar and Prep. A student had posted her cover letter on Instagram with a caption giving credit to Alix. Alix’s free merchandise franchise turned into a philosophy about women speaking up for themselves—LetHer Speak. She constantly pitched novel ideas to literary agents. She eventually was able to sell her book to an editor at HarperCollins!

She also has a group of friends, Rachel, Jodi, and Tamra. They all talk about kids, weight, and anything else they can gossip about. They are they masterminds behind how she should act toward Emira after the event.

Kelley Copeland: Filmed the incident in the grocery store. He was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and he has an older sister and two younger brothers. He avoids screens after 10 p.m., since his job included coding and creating interfaces for different places—yoga retreats, gyms, spin classes, etc. He dated Alix in high school and started dating Emira after they met again on a train. He had a preference when it came to women, but his preferences go overboard.

My two favorite characters from this book are Emira and Briar. Emira has a good head on her shoulders. She makes the right decision at the end of the book. I respect her.

Briar is intelligent for her age. She loves Emira—as she should! She’s so stinkin’ cute, y’all! The ending quote about Briar absolutely breaks my heart. I will say that.

Story |

The story is well done. It’s definitely one of its kind as far as content. I’ve read books about race/racism but nothing quite like this one.

It’s very fast-paced, funny, and heartbreaking. It made me question what all really happens in the world. If I think about it too much, it makes me incredibly sad. A twenty-five year old woman walking around with a baby gets stopped because she’s black. Her employer goes way too far to make her feel “comfortable” after what happened. The innocent bystander who videotaped the incident ends up dating her because she’s black. It’s all very bazaar. It’s all just a whirlwind of events.

Writing |

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing style. It took me up until the 25% mark to get used to it. It was a bit info-dumpy when describing characters and their backgrounds. It’s very simple for the topic of the book, but the writing is very digestible. There’s nothing wrong with that! It just didn’t work for me. That is actually the main reason I dropped my rating down a star, unfortunately.

Overall |

Would I reread this? No, but I will recommend it to all of you. It handles important topics really well. The writing was sub-par to me. It didn’t grip me like I anticipated. It’s still a good book, and I’m happy I was able to read it.


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Netgalley Book Review: The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

The Invited

By: Jennifer McMahon

Publishing Date: 4/30/19 by Doubleday Books

ISBN: 9780385541381 (Hardcover)

368 pages (Kindle Edition)

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5)

Amazon | B & N | Goodreads

I was able to receive this on Netgalley for an honest review. Thank you Doubleday Books!

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Helen and Nate, totally uproot their lives, moving to forty acres of Vermont land. Helen, being the history teacher that she is, wants to build their dream home with pieces that hold a piece of the past. In doing so, she conjures up a part of the land that she never expected, three generations of Breckenridge women. 

Skip back to Hattie Breckenridge, the lady that was lynched a century before on that same piece of land. There is still something that she wants Helen to find while she’s living there.

Enter, Olive. Olive, a high school student, lives with her father, and hopes for her mother to come back. She also knows, and searches for the very thing Hattie desires. This is where all three lives collide in a chilling search for the truth. 

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That synopsis had me jumping in excitement. It’s not something I ever read about. I loved the story, and that was what kept me intrigued. The writing, however, was not my favorite. I felt that it was repetitive, and almost too simplistic at points. I was expecting more of an atmospheric read rather than the heavy focus on the characters.

Since it is more character driven, let’s talk about that. This novel is told in multiple perspectives, and that is my favorite way authors write mysteries. It helps build anticipation, and I think it helps answer more questions. You get both sides of one story. I will admit that the characters in this weren’t horrible, but I still felt like they needed more development. They were distinctive enough to understand who was who, but I did find myself getting a little mixed up at times. Nate was probably my least favorite of all the characters. He was annoying, and I honestly wanted him to die the whole time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that kind of story.

I’m interested to know what McMahon’s previous novels are like. I own the Winter People, and would love to read it still. If any of you have read her previous pieces of work, please let me know what you thought!

I didn’t hate this, but it wasn’t my new favorite book. I’m going to go ahead and recommend it to anyone just looking for an easy read. I think it’s worth it.


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All the Books on My Amazon Fire!

I do love having physical books, but eBooks need a little love sometimes. I figured I would let you in on all the books I have stored on my Amazon Fire. I don’t think I bought any of these full price. I always tend to take advantage of those Goodreads Deals. Most of them are $5 or less. I look through it everyday to see what kind of steal I can get an eBook for. (If a title is bold that means I have read it. Sad, right?)

Circe by Madeline Miller: Mythology/Fantasy

All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson: Thriller/Mystery

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham: Nonfiction/Autobiography

Pines, Wayward, and The Last Town (The Wayward Pines Series) by Blake Crouch: Science Fiction/Thriller/Mystery

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit (The Wayfarers Series) by Becky Chambers: Science Fiction

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch: YA/Fantasy

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: YA/Science Fiction

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: YA/Contemporary

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman: Contemporary Fiction

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison: Contemporary Fiction

All the Little Children by Jo Furniss: Thriller/Mystery

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand: YA Contemporary

The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White: Mystery/Thriller

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson: Mystery/Thriller

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: YA/ Contemporary

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco: YA/Mystery

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges: Contemporary Fiction

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway: YA/Contemporary

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Mystery/Thriller

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin: Contemporary Fiction

If you have read any of these you should let me know down in the comments what you thought! 

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