Book Review

Last-Minute Gift Guide for Book Lovers

Happy Christmas Eve!! I hope everyone has wonderful holiday plans with family and friends, but if you’re still looking for a last minute gift for a book lover in your life, here’s a guide for an awesome book in several popular genres:

For the Mystery Lover: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

This re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes is a fantastic read that’s sure to appeal to fans of Holmes and all types of traditional mysteries.

For for History Lover: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

This book shows the devastating aftermath of World War II by following the lives of three widows who have been forever changed by the war.

For the Romance Lover: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

When ordinary Louisa Clarke becomes the caretaker of a paraplegic man, she discovers how stagnant her life has become and finally learns the power of true love.

For the Fantasy Lover: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

In this book, a truly magical circus becomes the stage for a competition to see which magician has learned to be the very best, but even the players don’t know what’s really at stake.

For the Science Fiction Lover: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Video games and reality collide in this coming-of-age book about a virtual reality scavenger hunt with real-world implications for its players.

For the Horror Lover: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Is nature or nurture to blame in this tale about the aftermath of a school shooting and the mother who has to come to grips with what her son has done.

For the Contemporary Fiction Lover: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

When their inheritance is threatened, the Plumb siblings must come to terms with their financial and personal mistakes and decide how to change their own fate.

For the Nonfiction Lover: In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides

This book chronicles human strength and resiliency while exploring the aftermath of the sinking of the USS Jeannette.

I hope this list can help you pick a gift for a loved one or even inspire you to pick something up for yourself. Have a very Merry Christmas!



Book Review

Cozy Corner: Hannah Swensen Mysteries 

The closer it gets to Christmas, the cozier my reading habits get! It’s just the happy time of year where I want to read lighthearted, fun things, so I’ve been reading a lot of the Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke!


These books are absolute mind candy! They revolve around Hannah Swensen, the owner of the Cookie Jar bakery in idyllic Lake Eden, Minnesota. The 22nd book in this series will be coming out next year, so it’s quite well established as a series and has even resulted in a series of films on the Hallmark Channel based on these books (starring the delightful Alison Sweeney).

This series contains all of the typical traits of cozy mysteries: a relatable and down-to earth sleuth, a feline companion, a mildly dysfunctional but loving family, small-town charm, and a love triangle! Hannah expertly navigates her bakery business and amateur sleuthing as she tries to find justice for anyone murdered in quaint Lake Eden. The cast of side characters like the helpful Norman the dentist, the dashing cop Mike, Hannah’s fun best friend/sister, and her overbearing mother all make for a great series. I’d say that the mysteries in this series really take a backseat to the atmosphere and charm of the setting and characters. If you’re looking for an escape from reality and want something ultra-cozy, I would definitely recommend this series!

Book Review

Book Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake 

I think that deep down most people wish that magic was real. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that I love magical realism as a genre. In magical realism, our world is infused with just a little bit of magic, which usually illuminates something about human nature. Recently, I read the magical realism novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.


In this book, Rose Edelstein has a magical gift that is also kind of a curse: whenever she eats something, she can taste the emotions of the person who made the food. I think that the goodreads description sums up this book beautifully: “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them.” As Rose learns more about her gift and those around her, she has to reckon with the fact that people often try to hide what they’re feeling for a reason.

This is definitely a character-driven book that focuses mostly on Rose and her family dynamic. As they navigate their lives, emotions, and disappointments, Rose uses her gift to truly empathize with others and learn more about being human.

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was unique in concept and had some truly beautiful prose. If you’re looking for something psychological and very character-driven, I think you should give this one a try!

Book Review

Series Review: In Death by JD Robb 

Recently, I’ve become really enamored by the romantic suspense genre. There’s just something so great about the escapism that romantic suspense can provide, and it’s quickly becoming one of my great guilty pleasures. One series that I’m really loving at the moment is the In Death Series by J.D. Robb (a pen name of Nora Roberts).


This series begins with the book Naked in Death and the 46th book in the series is slated to come out next year. So, if you like a long series, this one might be for you! This series takes place in the near future (the middle of the 21st century) and follows lieutenant Eve Dallas, a New York City cop. While the series does take place in the future, it’s not overly futuristic and I wouldn’t ever classify these as remotely science fiction. Rather, these books are crime-focused in a gritty, noir atmosphere where a tough as nails protagonist kicks butt by day and finds love by night with an enigmatic Irish billionaire and businessman.

I really love Eve as a protagonist. She is tough and has such raw passion for her job which is fueled by the memories of her abusive childhood. However, she finds love and healing from the wounds of her past. Now, I’m not ready for book 46 (I’m just on book 13) but I’m still loving this series and it doesn’t seem to be losing steam yet. Unlike other series where there is a dramatic love triangle that never seems to end, Eve and her relationships really grow and progress over the course of the series. Because of this, I definitely recommend reading these books in order.

This is a great series for anyone looking for a an exciting but somewhat dark mystery series filled with romantic suspense. I highly recommend it!

Book Review

Book Review: The Orchid House 

A coworker recommended the author Lucinda Riley to me, and I’m so glad she did! I’ve read several of her books and I’m so excited to be able to share one of them with you. So, today I’ll be reviewing Lucinda Riley’s The Orchid House.


Just look at that gorgeous cover! I know I shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but I’ll admit that sometimes a pretty cover does make me more likely to give a book a try. The Orchid House is a sprawling book that contains a lot of history and romance. Like most of Riley’s books, this one is split in its narrative between the past and present as a present-day character learns more about her family secrets that date back to the 1930s.

Orchids, a beautiful plant that dies so easily under the wrong conditions, play a significant role in the story both literally and metaphorically. The family owns a greenhouse and the master of the estate is so fond of orchids that he travels to exotic locations to try to find the best orchids that he can take back to England. However, there are other reasons for his frequent travels, and when these secrets are revealed, his whole family dynamic is threatened and changed forever.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because I don’t want to give away any of the secrets, but I will say that this book is an emotional whirlwind that ends in a very satisfying way. I definitely recommend this to people who enjoy historical romance with lush descriptions!

Book Review

Cozy Corner: Death Overdue 

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me a free cozy of this book in exchange for an honest review. As many of you know, I work for a public library, so I am always partial to books that take place in a library because I love the familiar setting, so I was really pleased to receive a copy of Allison Brook’s novel Death Overdue.


This cozy mystery is the first in the Haunted Library series which follows Carrie Singleton, a small-town librarian who meets a helpful ghost in the stacks of her public library. I ended up reading this book in one sitting because it was just so fun that I couldn’t put it down. Carrie was a great protagonist and was remarkably well fleshed out for being a cozy protagonist. She was interesting and flawed and relatable, and I loved how she interacted with her aunt and uncle. Carrie also has to deal with a workplace bully – something that I’m sure many of us have had to endure, and this adds to the relatability of the novel and provides many interesting, dynamic social interactions for the protagonist.

The plot of this cozy was really well-written. When Carrie invites a presenter to the library for a program on a local cold case, he claims to have new evidence about this long-unsolved murder but is murdered before he can reveal it. Now, the past and present intertwine as the investigation continues. Using her own resourcefulness, research skills, and the help of her newfound companions ghost, Carrie tries to track down the killer before he or she can strike again. There were some great twists and turns here and the plot was really fun to try to figure out.

I definitely recommend this one!

Book Review

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude 

Recently, in my MFA program, I took a magical realism literature course where I was required to read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I had never read anything by Marquez, although he has been on my to-read list for quite some time. I found that reading this book was an absolutely magical experience and I’m so glad that I finally had a chance to explore this great author’s work.


Magical Realism is an interesting genre. It’s very prevalent in South American literature, although it pops up in a lot of cultures. The trademark of magical realism is in its own name: it is realistic (often literary) fiction that focuses on the real world, however it contains elements of magic. It often has a feeling of folklore and fable which makes it seem almost timeless. Other notable works of magical realism are The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, and Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.

One Hundred Years of Solitude takes place in the fictional land of Macondo, a place colonized by weary travelers who decide to stay and create their own haven. However, as time goes by, this seemingly perfect paradise becomes corrupted by the encroaching world around it. Macondo acts as a sort of “Garden of Eden” and there are many Biblical allusions in this book, another staple of South American literature. The large cast of characters intersect in their parable-like stories that show different forms of frailty in human nature. Peppered with visits by a God-like character who seems to know everything before it happens, this is a truly magical tale of humanity, magic, and the circle of life and culture. I definitely recommend it!