Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bookishly Delighted is back!

My defunct book club that I stopped working on over a year ago, has been resurrected! I missed all the things that go along with book club. I missed the conversation, and the interaction. Truth be told, I missed my reader friends.

Since I'm in a great place at this end of year, and I've already successfully revamped my bookstagram and started it up again (you can find that here), I'm ready for my book club.

Our first read of the year will be Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett!
In preparation for the new show, of course.

Want to join?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Review: Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Start Without Me
Author: Joshua Max Feldman
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: Paperback; 304
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Source: TLC Book Tours / Publisher
Genre: Contemporary

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are prepared for an emotional journey that is gorgeously written.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
The author of the critically acclaimed The Book of Jonah explores questions of love and choice, disappointment and hope in the lives of two strangers who meet by chance in this mesmerizing tale that unfolds over one Thanksgiving Day.

Adam is a former musician and recovering alcoholic who is home for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. Surrounded by his parents and siblings, nieces and nephews—all who have seen him at his worst—he can’t shake the feeling that no matter how hard he tries, he’ll always be the one who can’t get it right.

Marissa is a flight attendant whose marriage is strained by simmering tensions over race, class, and ambition. Heading to her in-laws for their picture-perfect holiday family dinner, her anxiety is intensified by the knowledge she is pregnant from an impulsive one-night-stand.

In an airport restaurant on Thanksgiving morning, Adam and Marissa meet. Over the course of this day fraught with emotion and expectation, these two strangers will form an unlikely bond as they reckon with their family ties, their pasts, and the choices that will determine their way forward.

Joshua Max Feldman focuses his knowing eye on one of the last bastions of classical American idealism, the Thanksgiving family gathering, as he explores our struggles to know—and to be—our best selves. Hilarious and heartrending, Start Without Me is a thoughtful and entertaining page-turner that will leave its indelible mark on your heart.
Pardon me while I compose myself, because this was a really emotional book to read. In fact, because of recent life events, I had to set this aside for a while because it was a little bit too much. Trust me when I say, that's a compliment of the highest order to Joshua Max Feldman. Start Without Me is breathtakingly beautiful. It's a love letter to all the people out there who are holding it together the best they can, while struggling to find their happiness in a world that seems to overlook them. It's all about finding another person, even fleetingly who accepts you and pushes you in equal measures. In other words, Feldman's book is about life. Both the good and the bad.

What first struck me about this story was honestly how upset I kept getting at Adam. It's funny how when a character is flawed, perhaps in a way that hits home, you want to scream at them to be more perfect. We expect our characters to make all the right decisions when, in fact, they should be just as human as we are. Adam was definitely rough around the edges. I loved that you could see the earnest, desperate person underneath all of that rough facade though and, eventually, it endeared me to him. When he met Marissa, and I found myself loving her as well, the story really took off for me. These two had such different lives, such different problems, and yet they managed to band together long enough to prop each other up during a difficult time.

The dialog in this book was spot on. The snippets of life lessons, spouted again and again because they are what you're supposed to say to people who are struggling struck me hard. However it was the deep conversations that were had in this book, the ones that were messy and emotional, that really did me in. I've always been one of those people who feels the need to fix problems for other people, even while I'm piling up my own problems behind a closed door. Watching Marissa and Adam, two lost people who found one another, continuously do this same thing just pummled me. How do you hide from what you're storing behind that door, when the person you're trying to help keeps opening it up? Argh. I'm still thinking about some of the scenes in this book.

Long story short, if you want to read something that is perfect and happy this isn't the book for you. However if you want to read something beautiful, gritty, and full of hope, then Start Without Me should absolutely be on your reading list. It's the kind of read I think a lot of people need around the holidays, and I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to read it. It wasn't an easy read, but it was a necessary one.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Rain, Rain, PLEASE STAY!

People love to joke about how Southern California loses their mind when it rains.

Well... I'm here to tell you, that's definitely more accurate than I care to admit.

We are on day two of rain over here in Los Angeles, and it's been raining fairly heavily for the last 28 hours straight. I remember when I first moved here permanently, probably about 9 or 10 years ago now, it used to rain all the time during the winter. But, climate change and all that, the weather kept changing and it rained less and less often during our "winter". Now? It's back! I'm so happy! I honestly wouldn't be upset if it rains for the next two weeks straight. Providing of course, everyone stops freaking out and remembers how to drive correctly in the rain. Hahaha.

Seriously though, I love this kind of weather. I could sit around in it all day. It's the perfect book reading weather. It's the perfect excuse to have 3 cups of tea in a row. It's basically an excuse to have a slower pace of life for a little while, rather than the crazy running around that we're all used to.

Stay, rain! I'd love to see more of you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Book Review: The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Little Shop of Found Things
Author: Paula Brackston
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: Hardcover; 307
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy more of a cozy historical fiction feeling.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander

New York Times bestselling author of The Witch's Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.

It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she's confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.

While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.

With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, The Little Shop of Found Things is poised to be a strong start to this new series.

I'm still dabbling in Historical Fiction because, I'll freely admit, it's a genre that intimidates me. It might be irrational, but when I don't know much about the time period the book is set in I get anxious. I'm worried that I'll be lost. So when I started The Little Shop of Found Things, and found myself in the tiny town of Marlborough, I was utterly enchanted. Xanthe and her mother immediately felt like home. The people she met in town felt like family. Brackston made me feel like this was a story I belonged in, and it was wonderful.

Granted, this was all before Xanthe actually sent off on her historical adventure.  However, even when she did find the chatelaine and discover she could travel back in time, I never had a moment where I felt out of place. This story makes it easy to follow along, no matter how much you know about the 1600's. Xanthe's character is sweet, but determined. She's someone who you would follow forever. It helped that Brackston puts all manner of intriguing people in Xanthe's path as she navigates the 1605 version of her new home. The fact that there was also no heavy romance present, but simply the sweet outline of one, made me smile. I won't spoil, but Samuel Appleby is definitely one of my favorite people in this book.

In terms of pacing, this story does an excellent job of gently leading the reader by the hand. There's no hurry, but neither did I ever feel like things were dragging. Xanthe spends just enough time in each location to make it feel realistic. I loved how she consistently had to remind herself of what a person of her standing would say, and do, in that time period. It felt like Brackston had a lot of fun fitting Xanthe's fiery personality into an older world where women were better seen and not heard. It made this a lot of fun to read.

Rambling aside, I'll simply say that this book was a treat. I wasn't expecting to love it, and yet the story was so easy to get lost in that I soon found I couldn't stop reading. Accessible historical fiction like this, stories that reach out and pull you in, is exactly what I've been looking for. I'm so pleased that I discovered The Little Shop of Found Things.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, December 3, 2018

December 2018 Reading List

The last month of the year is upon us! How crazy is that? It feels like only yesterday that I was making resolutions for this blog in the spirit of 2018 headed our way, and valiantly planning a new reading list. I have to say, although 2018 didn't turn out quite the way I planned it to for this blog, this year was much better than the last. So, baby steps and all that. Sometimes life doesn't let us do what we'd planned.

That being said, I'm 11 books away from my yearly goal of 120, and not 100% sure if I'm going to hit it this year. Part of me, the part that has massive anxiety over that kind of stuff, is freaking out. The other part, the part that has learned how to be kind to herself, is reminding me that it's fine if I don't hit my goal. I've read some amazing books this year, and had a lot more fun with it too. So, we'll see what happens. Here's what I'm at least planning on tackling for December.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

I picked this as one of my Book of the Month reads a few months ago, but I was in horror mode and set it aside. Since then, I've heard rave reviews for it from a ton of friends. Which, of course, means my interest is piqued! It's hard not to fall in love with the premise of this book anyway. Who doesn't want to read a story about giant samurai robots? Exactly.

Horns by Joe Hill

I confess, I've never read this book. I did see the movie adaptation, and I've been meaning to tackle the book for a while, but it just never happened. When my reader friend sent me a signed copy of this book, I knew it was time to put it firmly on the TBR. In fact, as soon as I finish the MG book I'm listening to right now, this will be my next read. I'm pretty excited, if I'm being honest. I love Joe Hill, and this book is calling my name.

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Another gifted book, and another book that I had to set aside when I was going through my horror phase. I'm eager for a SciFi novel though, and this one not only comes with fantastic Goodreads reviews, but the love of one of my favorite reader friends. So it's a must on this year's reading list, so that we can gush over it. The fact that I now own it in a hardcopy actually makes things easier, because I can go find a quiet place and just get lost in the story.

That's it for me this month! I'm going to valiantly try for the 11 books, but I'm not setting anything in stone. I'd rather put these three on my radar, and then just read whatever strikes my fancy in between.

Are you nearing your Goodreads goal? Did you find any new favorite books this year?


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