On YouTube: Blind Date with a Book – review of The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

Hi Everyone,

I’m on YouTube today, talking about The Breakdown by B. A. Paris. This was the Blind Date with a Book I chose from the library and it was A WINNER! I hope you’ll pop over and hear what it’s about.

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A small eBook haul

This fall, my family signed up (temporarily) for Amazon Prime, for the main reason of watching NFL on Thursday nights. The Thursday night games are over, so we’re back to regular TV, but while we were Prime members, I got to download these free eBooks! I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to read them, but it’s a nice feeling to have book options waiting on my Kindle. All descriptions are from Amazon.

A Castle in Brooklyn by Shirley Russak Wachtel

Spanning decades, an unforgettable novel about reckoning with the past, the true nature of friendship, and the dream of finding home.

1944, Poland. Jacob Stein and Zalman Mendelson meet as boys under terrifying circumstances. They survive by miraculously escaping, but their shared past haunts and shapes their lives forever.

Years later, Zalman plows a future on a Minnesota farm. In Brooklyn, Jacob has a new life with his wife, Esther. When Zalman travels to New York City to reconnect, Jacob’s hopes for the future are becoming a reality. With Zalman’s help, they build a house for Jacob’s family and for Zalman, who decides to stay. Modest and light filled, inviting and warm with acceptance—for all of them, it’s a castle to call home.

Then an unforeseeable tragedy—and the grief, betrayals, and revelations in its wake—threatens to destroy what was once an unbreakable bond, and Esther finds herself at a crossroads. A Castle in Brooklyn is a moving and heartfelt immigration story about finding love and building a home and family while being haunted by a traumatic past.

Hidden in Snow by Viveca Sten

The splendor of the Swedish mountains becomes the backdrop for a bone-chilling crime.

On the day Stockholm police officer Hanna Ahlander’s personal and professional lives crash, she takes refuge at her sister’s lodge in the Swedish ski resort paradise of Åre. But it’s a brief comfort. The entire village is shaken by the sudden vanishing of a local teenage girl. Hanna can’t help but investigate, and while searching for the missing person, she lands a job with the local police department. There she joins forces with Detective Inspector Daniel Lindskog, who has been tasked with finding the girl. Their only lead: a scarf in the snow.

As subzero temperatures drop even further, a treacherous blizzard sweeps toward Åre. Hanna and Daniel’s investigation is getting more desperate by the hour. Lost or abducted, either way time is running out for the missing girl. Each new clue closes in on something far more sinister than either Hanna or Daniel imagined. In this devious novel by the bestselling author of the Sandhamn Murders series, discover what it will take to solve a case when the truth can be so easily hidden in the coming storm.

The Hike by Susi Holliday

Four hikers enter the mountains. Only two return. But is it tragedy? Or treachery?

When sisters Cat and Ginny travel with their husbands to the idyllic Swiss Alps for a hiking holiday, it’s not just a chance to take in the stunning scenery. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with each other after years of drifting apart—and patch up marriages that are straining at the seams.

As they head into the mountains, morale is high, but as the terrain turns treacherous, cracks in the relationships start to show. With worrying signs that someone might be following them, the sun begins to set and exhaustion kicks in. Suddenly, lost high on a terrifying ridge, tensions spill over—with disastrous consequences.

When only two of the four hikers make it down from the mountain, the police press them for their story—but soon become suspicious when their accounts just don’t add up.

What really happened up on that ridge? Who are the survivors? And what secrets are they trying to hide?

The Hive by Gregg Olsen

Glamorous messiah or charlatan? A mask of beauty hides deadly secrets in #1 New York Times and Amazon Charts bestselling author Gregg Olsen’s mesmerizing novel of suspense.

In the Pacific Northwest, detective Lindsay Jackman is investigating the murder of a young journalist found at the bottom of a ravine. Lindsay soon learns that the victim was writing an exposé. Her subject: a charismatic wellness guru who’s pulled millions into her euphoric orbit…

To hear Marnie Spellman tell it, when she was a child, a swarm of bees lifted her off the ground and toward the sunlight, illuming her spiritual connection with nature—an uncanny event on which Marnie built a cosmetics empire and became a legend, a healer, and the queen of holistic health and eternal beauty. In her inner circle is an intimate band of devotees called the Hive. They share Marnie’s secrets of success—including one cloaked in darkness for twenty years.

Determined to uncover the possibly deadly mysteries of the group, Lindsay focuses her investigation on Marnie and the former members of the Hive, who are just as determined to keep Lindsay from their secrets as they are to maintain their status.

Night Angels by Weina Dai Randel

From the author of The Last Rose of Shanghai comes a profoundly moving novel about a diplomatic couple who risked their lives to help Viennese Jews escape the Nazis, based on the true story of Dr. Ho Fengshan, Righteous Among the Nations.

1938. Dr. Ho Fengshan, consul general of China, is posted in Vienna with his American wife, Grace. Shy and ill at ease with the societal obligations of diplomats’ wives, Grace is an outsider in a city beginning to feel the sweep of the Nazi dragnet. When Grace forms a friendship with her Jewish tutor, Lola Schnitzler, Dr. Ho requests that Grace keep her distance. His instructions are to maintain amicable relations with the Third Reich, and he and Grace are already under their vigilant eye.

But when Lola’s family is subjugated to a brutal pogrom, Dr. Ho decides to issue them visas to Shanghai. As violence against the Jews escalates after Kristallnacht and threats mount, Dr. Ho must issue thousands more to help Jews escape Vienna before World War II explodes.

Based on a remarkable true story, Night Angels explores the risks brave souls took and the love and friendship they built and lost while fighting against incalculable evil.

Have you read any of these? Do any of them sound interesting to you? Leave a comment!

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Books We Love – NPR’s interactive list of recommended books

Today I came across NPR’s Books We Love, a helpful and fun-to-use interactive list of recommended books. They’ve been doing this every year going back to 2013, so there is a lot to look at. Want more information? Here’s an explanation of how they select books.

There’s never a shortage of books to read these days and this list helps you sort things out according to your reading tastes. I’m often frustrated by book recommendations because they aren’t always in line with what I want to read. I haven’t gone through the whole list for 2022 (there are more than 3200 books!), but I was pleased to see that I’ve already read and enjoyed several of these. That’s a good sign to me.

Books I thought were great:

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

French Braid by Anne Tyler

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Love Marriage by Monica Ali


Books I want to read:

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel       

Scenes from My Life by Michael K. Williams

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb


I don’t like to make a long list of books to read for the new year because I find that overwhelming, so I like that I can go back to this and look when I’m ready for something new.

Do you know what your next read will be? Do you like referring to lists like these? Have you read any of the books I picked? Leave a comment!

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I was sure I was onto a book cover trend, but I could only find 2 examples!

I’ve read two books in the last month that have used the same technique on their front book covers. I don’t know what to call it so I’m naming it a split title.

What am I talking about? The titles of these two books split one of the words into two words on the cover, but on the spine and in all other references, it’s one word. I think the publishers want to have the font as big as possible on the cover, but adding a hyphen would look weird, so they just skip it. I was sure I was on to a trend, but I’ve two days looking for examples and can’t find even one more!

Here’s what I mean:

See how The Breakdown by B. A. Paris is split into BREAK and DOWN? But the actual title is The Breakdown. It’s the same with Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, split into FIRE and KEEPER’S.

By the way, both books were very good so stay tuned for reviews!

Can you find any other examples? I’m going to keep looking and hope to add to my collection.

Thanks for visiting—come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s Top Reads of 2022

I read A LOT of excellent books in 2022! Looking forward to more great reads in 2023! What’s on your reading list?

Run by Ann Patchett – 4 stars

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow 4.5 stars

If I Were You by P.G. Wodehouse – 4 stars

The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson – 4 stars

Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks – 4 stars

The Second Mrs. Astor: A Novel of the Titanic by Shana Abé – 4 stars

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – 4 stars

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart – 4.5 stars

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson – 4 stars

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler – 4.5 stars

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – 5 stars

Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast – 5 stars

Kusama: The Graphic Novel by Elisa Macellari – 5 stars

One by One by Ruth Ware – 4.5 stars

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow – 4 stars

French Braid by Anne Tyler – 4 stars

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige – 4 stars

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy – 4 stars

The Family by Naomi Krupitsky – 4 stars

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian – 4 stars

Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea by Steve Callahan – 5 stars

Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards – 4.5 stars

Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolf – 4 stars

Love Marriage by Monica Ali – 4.5 stars

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith – 5 stars

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy – 4 stars

Fatal Rounds by Carrie Rubin – 4.5 stars

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke – 4 stars

Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney – 4 stars

Thanks for visiting—come back soon!

Holiday check-in

Well, I’ve read two books since my last post, but I’ve been so busy off the blog I haven’t had a chance to write reviews or read other blogs. I’ll be back soon, though!

Hope everyone is having a nice holiday season and I’ll “see” you soon!

On YouTube: Book Club Mom’s Blind Date with a Book!

Hi Everyone,

Hope you’re having a great weekend! I’m over on YouTube today unwrapping my Blind Date with a Book. Watch as I reveal what’s under the wrapper!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Are you a Rogue Reader?

READER BEWARE! I’m all over the place with this post – I was going to delete it because the more I think about things Im not exactly rogue. But I’m going to leave it because I really want to know what your TBR style is:

I often get myself into a bit of a reading conundrum because I go a little rogue when I select books to read. Some can be clunkers. But I never research books or read reviews ahead of time (except for my library job). I’ll never change the way I do things because, first of all, I’m stubborn and second, I think it’s fun to randomly pick books based on my gut reaction to the cover, title or very brief description. (Slight exception: I do have trusted friends and bloggers whose recommendations are ones I follow, but I never research the book beyond that). I guess I like to be surprised! That said, I’m occasionally disappointed, but you know what? You can be just as disappointed after reading a book receives hype.

My Kindle is still loaded with books I quickly picked to read during a recent trip. I’ve read three of them and I’m working my way through the titles. That’s as close to a TBR that I’ll ever use. Normally, I don’t like the feeling of having too many books waiting for me to read. Too stressful and not fun!

Here’s a contradiction: I love to hear and talk about what other people are reading and have read. I guess what I don’t want to do is build a long TBR that’s based on hype. I also guess I’m getting to know myself by writing this post 🤷‍♀️

Everyone is different and I know some readers love to have a bookshelf loaded with unread books. Or a long list of books to read. So today, I’m asking: What’s your TBR strategy? Leave a comment!

Currently loaded Kindle!

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In case you missed them! BCM post recap October 2022

Hey Everyone,

In case you missed them, here’s a quick look at Book Club Mom’s posts in October.

I read five books this month – all good reads!

Girl in the Rearview Mirror by Kelsey Rae Dimberg – 3.5 stars. I enjoyed this book which explores the always-interesting theme of truth versus public persona in politics. A series of twists leads to an ending I did not expect and ties in nicely with how image is everything.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy – 4 stars. Don’t be put off by the title. This is a fast, engrossing read, written in humble humor. It’s not the typical celebrity memoir in the sense that McCurdy focuses on her own battles and does little name dropping.

Fatal Rounds by Carrie Rubin – 4.5 stars. Wow, I really enjoyed this tightly-written story, Rubin’s latest medical/psychological thriller, the first in the Liza Larkin series. I loved getting to know Liza, a first-year resident who struggles with schizoid personality disorder. Why is a well-known trauma surgeon in the background of so many family photos?

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke – 4 stars. I love when I discover an excellent older book. First published in 2012, this is a suspenseful murder mystery set on a former sugar cane plantation in Louisiana. Made even better with well-developed characters and themes.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah – 3.5 stars. A very readable historical fiction set in the Texas Panhandle in the 1920s and 30s, during the Great Depression, years of drought and continuous dust storms, and later in California during the great migration west. Not as good as The Grapes of Wrath, but still worth reading.

Miscellaneous posts

Book cover eye candy – similar, very similar, confusing, pretty and more book covers

Who’s That Indie Author? Priscilla Bettis

My Kindle is loaded!

A repost of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – 5 stars

The Great Depression and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

A repost of “The Oblong Box” by Edgar Allan Poe

Updated About Page: Read this, not that!

I hope you all had a great month. I’m still working on my “loaded” Kindle. New review on its way!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

My Kindle is loaded!

Hi Everyone! I’m going to have a lot of time to read during the next five days so I loaded up my Kindle with potential books. It’s such a fun feeling to know I can pick any one of these, depending on my mood! I even threw a spooky read – I hope I can handle it 👻

I haven’t been on the blog much this month because my off-blog schedule has been crazy! Things will settle down next week and I look forward to getting back into my routine and visiting all of you!

Thanks so much for visiting – come back soon!