Posted in Month in Review, Reading List

Month in Review: March 2019 Wrap Up

Bookish friends, we’ve crossed another month off our calendar!  A couple of days into April, I feel like spring may actually be here to stay!

At the end of February, I posted my first Month in Review, as a month end wrap up of all the books I’d read.  Time to build on that tradition with my March wrap up!  March was not a prolific reading month for me, but I did squeeze in a few good titles.  Let’s see what was on my list!

 


 

 

wintersister

 

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Starting with my last completed read of the month, The Winter Sister is a great domestic suspense novel.  We follow Sylvie, who lost her sister Persephone years ago when they were teens.  When Sylvie comes back home to care for her ailing mother, she deals with old feelings and people from her past… and then starts asking questions, leading to answers she never saw coming.

Four and a half stars to this debut, which I reviewed in full here:  Book Notes: Review of “The Winter Sister” by Megan Collins

 

 

2754093

 

The Sherlock Files: The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett

I read this book as part of #MiddleGradeMarch, which was a fun challenge on Instagram.  Intended for upper elementary or middle school age kids, The 100-Year-Old-Secret was a fun read with adventure, mystery, and a couple of kid sleuths who happen to be descendants of one of the greatest detectives of all time!  This is the first book in a series.

No rating for this title, as I just read this for fun, but recommended for kids who like their action with a hint of who-dun-it!

 

 

Untitled design-10

 

The Food Blogger Mysteries by Debra Sennefelder (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Uninvited Corpse and The Hidden Corpse are the first two books in a new-to-me series by a new-to-me author!  In this series we follow Hope, a food blogger who’s just gone through some major life changes, including moving back to her hometown of Jefferson.  Unfortunately, her welcome home includes murders that Hope is determined to solve!

This is the first series I’ve seen focused on a blogger, so it was fun to read about that part of Hope’s life.  I give each of these titles four stars… a solid start to the series with interesting characters and plenty of misdirection!

 

 

41hpeDgtiNL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

 

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

This was probably my favorite read of the month.  The Perfect Girlfriend was twisty, entertaining, and outrageous!  Juliette, the main character, was… well, really special in a very dark way.  If you haven’t read it, you need to!

Four and a half stars to this debut… here’s my full review:  Book Notes: Review of “The Perfect Girlfriend” by Karen Hamilton

 


 

So that’s what my March looked like… as I said, not a lot of books read, but I enjoyed the titles above.  I’ve got a long list of possibilities for my April reads, and I can’t wait to share them with you throughout the month.  In the meantime… happy reading!

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for a complimentary digital review copy of some of the books mentioned here.  All opinions are my own.

 

Posted in Reading List, WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday (3/20/2019)

Hello, readers!  And, I’m so excited to be able to say this… HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING!

I’ve been on a little hiatus the last week or so, keeping a busy family schedule and trying to catch up on my reading a bit.  So let’s jump back in with a look at what books have kept me occupied.  That’s right… time for WWW Wednesday!

 

www-wednesday

 

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words!  This is always a good mid-week status check of my reading list.  (You can see my last WWW Wednesday post here.)

It’s a fun way to keep up with what everyone is reading.  To join me, read my answers, then answer the same questions about your reading in the comments below, and if you like, in the comments on Sam’s WWW Wednesday post!  Simply use these three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you plan to read next?

And now… onward to WWW Wednesday!


wintersister

 

What are you currently reading?

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins:  I discovered this debut novel through my friends on #Bookstagram, and ordered it in my first Book of the Month shipment.  Collins spins a tale of suspense, secrets and family bonds.  I’m just starting this book and anxious to come back and tell you more once I’ve finished it!  Here’s a summary:

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we know the people we love most?

I’ve been reading quite a bit in the suspense/domestic thriller genre this year, and wondering why I didn’t read more of these sooner!  This title is available now.

 

Find The Winter Sister at:

Barnes & Noble      Amazon

 


 

IMG_1219

 

What did you recently finish reading?

The Hidden Corpse by Debra Sennefelder:  This is a cozy mystery series from a new-to-me author.  The Food Blogger Mystery Series follows Hope, a food blogger who has recently returned to her hometown.  I received this second book through Net Galley, and naturally, I had to go back and also read the first book, The Uninvited Corpse… but I think it would work fine to read it as a standalone.

In The Hidden Corpse, Hope’s elderly neighbor is lost in a suspicious fire, but when the body of a missing local woman is also found in the ruins of the home, Hope is determined to find out what really happened.

I was intrigued at the idea of a series that featured a blogger as the main character, and it’s interesting to see many blogging tasks and challenges woven into Hope’s daily life. The story has a lot going on and many questions to be answered, like: What’s with this secret day spa in the next town? How is the ambitious new reporter in town getting her info and scooping Hope’s friend Drew? Does the murder tie back to town politics? And last but not least…. *is* Hope’s dinner invitation a date??  (Hint: Maybe!)

This second book in the series releases March 26th… while you’re waiting, give the first book a try!

 

Find The Hidden Corpse at:

Barnes & Noble      Amazon

 


 

thefarm

What do you plan to read next?

The Farm by Joanne Ramos:  Calling it now… this will be one of the most talked-about books of the spring.  Another find through #Bookstagram, this wildly intriguing title is set around a baby farm.  Yep, you read that right.  Here’s a preview:

Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, personal fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you’re paid big money to stay here—more than you’ve ever dreamed of. The catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, your movements are monitored, and you are cut off from your former life while you dedicate yourself to the task of producing the perfect baby. For someone else.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is in desperate search of a better future when she commits to being a “Host” at Golden Oaks—or the Farm, as residents call it. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her family, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on the delivery of her child.

Gripping, provocative, heartbreaking, The Farm pushes to the extremes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

Both unbelievable and not as far-fetched as we’d like to think, this novel seems slightly dystopian and incredibly thought provoking.  It releases May 7th and you can pre-order your copy now!

 

Find The Farm at:

Barnes & Noble      Amazon

 


 

That sums up my reading this week.  How about you… any intriguing reads on your list right now?  Let me know in the comments.  Enjoy your (hopefully spring-like) week… and happy reading!

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley, along with Kensington (The Hidden Corpse) and Random House (The Farm), for providing complimentary digital review copies of some titles.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Month in Review, Reading List

Month in Review: February 2019 Wrap Up

 

Hello, readers… and happy March!  I’m going to try something new, and start doing a monthly wrap-up post of everything I’ve read.  Here are the books I read this February!

 


 

IMG_1066

 

Murder & Metaphors by Amanda Flower (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

This is the third installment of the delightful Magical Bookshop series from Amanda Flower. Violet and her grandmother get more than they bargained for when an event at the Morton winery & vineyard results in the death of the honored guest, a renowned wine expert and author.

I did a full review for this title and a Q&A with the author… check it out!!

 


 

43477141

 

Hashtag Authentic: Finding creativity and building a community on Instagram and beyond by Sara Tasker  (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

Hashtag Authentic is a book all about Instagram. Sounds simple, right? But it’s really more than that.

Sara Tasker is an Instagram coach and influencer, and this book draws on some of the lessons she’s learned, and provides tips and strategies to authentically engage and grow your own following.

Social media is a huge part of our modern lives. And striking a balance of beauty, creativity, and authenticity on an account can be difficult. I wasn’t sure what to expect on this title, but the book was charming and practical. It covers topics such as photography tips, how much/little to share, finding your online tone and voice, and much more.

The digital ARC was difficult to read because of the formatting…not sure whether that’s been corrected in the final version.  Personally, I’m considering buying a physical copy of the book for the beautiful photos, and to slowly savor the advice offered.

 


 

fullsizeoutput_28ec

 

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald  (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

If you haven’t been hearing about this book, have you even used the internet in the past month or two?!?  This has gotten tons of hype and it’s well deserved… a great debut novel that earned 4 1/2 stars from me.  Read my full review here!


 

Untitled design-9

 

Academic Curveball (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​) and Broken Heart Attack (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​) by James J. Cudney

These are the first two titles in the Braxton Campus Mysteries.  A few weeks ago, I revealed the cover for the third title coming out in late March.  See the preview and find out more about this series here!

 


 

Animal farm

 

Animal Farm by George Orwell (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

“All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book. I’m a big fan of Orwell and liked 1984, but this one was an incredibly short and fast read, and somehow more accessible. A timeless allegorical classic. While this is a commentary on Stalinist Russia and a cautionary tale about power, propaganda, and freedom…. its nearly chilling how one can still see these themes mirrored in modern times. If you haven’t read this, add it to your list.

 


 

51LYUA97XZL

 

Criminally Cocoa by Amanda Flower (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

Criminally Cocoa is a short novella in the Amish Candy Shop series. Bailey and Charlotte hit NYC for filming of Bailey’s new show, but when things start going wrong on set, Charlotte sets out to investigate.

This is an extremely quick read and has a bit of an Easter theme. It’s told from Charlotte’s point of view, which adds a new perspective. Fun story that makes a nice addition to the series.

(I previously reviewed another book in this series… find it here!)

 


 

bigmagic

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️)

This was a light read about creativity and its role in everyone’s life. There wasn’t anything earth shattering, more of a pep talk and inspiration. Fun, somewhat irreverent book that reminds us to embrace the artist in each of us.

 


 

And there we have it… my list of reads from February!  I did manage to get in a classic this month, as well as not just one but TWO non-fiction reads!  The month was still half cozy mysteries… I doubt I’ll cut too far back on those.  But I have been enjoying branching out a bit in my reading, and March will continue and expand that trend.

Let me know what great books have caught your attention lately… happy reading!

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for a complimentary digital review copy of some of the books mentioned here.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

Posted in Reading Life, Reading List

3 Ways To Spice Up Your Reading Life

Raise your hand if you love reading… but you feel like you read the same type of book all the time.  Or you always pick a book off the standard bestseller list.  Or maybe you read whatever a certain friend or family member chooses and tells you about.  But sometimes you probably wonder… what else is out there?

Since I’ve started The Biblio Blonde, I’ve gotten a fresh look at the huge array of books available to us.  Literally thousands of new titles are released every year.  The bad news is that in our human life spans, we can’t possibly read every book that’s ever been written.  The good news is, we can read a LOT of them and our choices are endless.

So are you looking to spice up your reading life?  Read some things you wouldn’t normally pick up?  Here are three ways to look beyond your usual choices, and intentionally seek out something new!

 

pile of books in shallow focus photography
Not exactly a picture of all the unread books in my house, but probably closer than I’d like to admit!

Find books in new places

It’s easy to look to the same source over and over again for our reading options.  But there are so many places to look for inspiration!  Here are a few ideas, and I’ll plan to expand on some of these in the coming weeks to feature some of my favorites:

 

  • If you normally use the library or order books online, visit a small independent bookstore in your area.  They usually have more titles by local/regional authors, and feature books that are delightful but not quite as well known.  These establishments also typically have a small but dedicated and knowledgeable staff that would be all too happy to point you toward your next favorite!

 

  • You can get great recommendations right from your favorite comfy chair at home by exploring book blogs! Bloggers read a LOT, and we feature every type of book out there.  Some bloggers only review cozy mysteries or YA titles… some read a wide variety and talk about everything book related.  Find a few new blogs to follow and try some titles that these book lovers rave about.  (Might I suggest starting with the blog you’re currently reading? 😊​)

 

  • Maybe you’re more visual, and love pouring over pretty pictures of fabulous books.  (I mean, who doesn’t?)  If that’s the case, #Bookstagram is your cup of tea.  Bookstagrammers host a subsection of Instagram dedicated to books, books, and more books… you’ll find colorful book stacks, shots of books and readers out in beautiful scenery, and great recommendations all the way around!  (And did I mention the props?  Bookstagrammers can take any theme or decorative item and make a book picture.)  You can start by following my Instagram account, and I’ll help point you toward more great book lovers!

 

 

Take up a challenge!

One of my favorite ways to branch out a bit with books is to take on a reading challenge.  You can find boatloads of these, and the beauty of each is that in checking off items on the list, you seek out titles you might not have otherwise considered!

Although I’ve participated in many challenges over the years, one that I’ve discovered more recently and highly recommend is the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.  Modern Mrs. Darcy is Anne Bogel’s website… I’ve made no secret of being a huge fan of hers (see my review of her latest book) and the challenge is no different.  It’s not overwhelming, and it hits that sweet spot of making you intentionally choose some titles but leaving you a lot of space to personalize it.  Later in the year, I’ll post about some of the books I’ve been using to check off this list.  Here’s a graphic of this year’s challenge:

 

modern-mrs-darcy-reading-challenge-03-683x1024

 

 

Join the club!

Books are always better when shared with other readers.  So if there’s a book club in your area, why not try it out?  You’ll meet other book lovers, and even if a title chosen isn’t one you might not have considered on your own, you may find a new favorite author or topic!

There are, of course, all kinds of small book clubs out there based around a neighborhood or group of friends.  If you have access to one of these, try it out!  If not, another option is to check out your local library… most hold monthly reading discussions of all types of books.

One new club is through one of my favorite stores!  The Barnes and Noble Book Club began last year, and has since started meeting every month to discuss a new title.  The book selections have so far tended to be newer fiction.  What better way to spend an evening than hitting up B&N for a book discussion, some shopping, and a treat at the cafe?

If you’re not much on joining real-life groups (leaving the house can be so overrated!), how about a virtual one?  Many online book clubs are available too, including group reads by Modern Mrs. Darcy, The Pingel Sisters (who also offer monthly reading challenges), and more!

 

There’s never been a better time to be a reader… make the most of it and explore the bounty of titles out there!  Happy reading, friends!

 

 

Want to save this post to read later?  Pin this image:

Spice Up Your Reading Life!  Find 3 ways to branch out with your book choices at www.thebiblioblonde.com!  Pin me to read later!

 

Posted in Reading List, WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday (2/20/2019)

Hello, and Happy Wednesday bookish friends!

Nothing different to report here… it’s been snowing.  It’s still snowing.  It may snow forever.  So… I will just keep reading!!  Let’s see what books I have in hand… time for WWW Wednesday!

 

www-wednesday

 

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words!  This is always a good mid-week status check of my reading list.  (You can see my last WWW Wednesday post here.)

It’s a fun way to keep up with what everyone is reading.  To join me, read my answers, then answer the same questions about your reading in the comments below, and if you like, in the comments on Sam’s WWW Wednesday post!  Simply use these three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you plan to read next?

And now… onward to WWW Wednesday!

 


 

bigmagic

 

What are you currently reading?

My goal is to read one non-fiction book a month in 2019… there’s so much out there I’d like to explore, and I think this broadens perspectives.  To that end, my selection this month is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  This book is all about exploring creativity: why it’s important, how to overcome fear and embrace your creative side, and the attitudes and habits that help you reach your aspirations.  I’ve just started it, but I’m looking forward to gaining some inspiration for my writing, photography, and more!

 

Find Big Magic at:

Barnes & Noble    ~    Amazon

 


 

Animal farm

What did you recently finish reading?

A couple of days ago, I sat down to read Animal Farm by the great George Orwell… and I finished it all in one sitting.  It’s a short book, to be fair, but it’s just that good.  I’m going to share my review from Goodreads:

“All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book. I’m a big fan of Orwell and liked 1984, but this one was an incredibly short and fast read, and somehow more accessible. A timeless allegorical classic. While this is a commentary on Stalinist Russia and a cautionary tale about power, propaganda, and freedom…. its nearly chilling how one can still see these themes mirrored in modern times. If you haven’t read this, add it to your list.

Seriously, if you somehow missed this one in high school… go pick it up!

 

Find Animal Farm at:

Barnes & Noble    ~    Amazon

 


 

51LYUA97XZL

 

What do you plan to read next?

I have Criminally Cocoa, the next book in Amanda Flower’s Amish Candy Shop Mysteries, waiting for me on Net Galley!  This novella is an Easter-themed addition to this series centered around a chocolate making family of Amish heritage.  This time, Bailey and her cousin Charlotte are hitting New York City to film Bailey’s new TV show… but have to discover who seems to be sabotaging things!

This is a really fun series that I’ve featured before (see my review of Premeditated Peppermint).  I also just reviewed the latest in the Magical Bookshop series, also by Amanda Flower; check out my review and author chat here!

 

Find Criminally Cocoa (e-book only) at:

Barnes & Noble    ~    Amazon

 


 

That’s my list this week!!  I have a lot of great reading ahead of me… in addition to a full Net Galley shelf, I recently won a couple of paperback ARCs.

I hope today finds you curled up with a great book!  As always… happy reading!!

 


 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a complimentary digital review copy of Criminally Cocoa.  All opinions are my own.