Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy

I happened to pick up this book up out of a stack in a local Peddlar’s Mall for one dollar. The cover looked interesting, and it had the American Library Association’s Best Adult Genre Fiction seal of approval on the front. I flipped it over to the description on the back, and was surprised to note that the setting takes place in little ol’ Vermont, my home state. Moments like that- browsing for nothing in particular, casually exploring my relatively new surroundings, and still managing to find something that brings me back to my roots- never cease to amaze me. At the risk of sounding traitorous to my new state, Vermont will always be home, no matter what my address is. Therefore, this book was going to go be mine- and I almost felt like it was meant to be.

In Every Last Cuckoo, we are introduced to main character Sarah, a seventy-five year old woman who was living with her eighty year old husband, Charles. He was a doctor, a man who wanted to help people and his community, and earn an honest living. She was a modern housewife, who enjoyed intellectual conversations with her strong, whip-smart friends and husband. It was a steady and happy marriage, though there were plenty of obstacles to overcome: the loss of a child and depression that followed; the growing pains of raising three children; the struggles with intimacy as they aged. After decades of time spent together, Sarah is reminiscent of their relatively simple and routine lives, especially as their family and friends come together over the winter holidays. But then tragedy happens- Charles is hurt in a hiking accident, and Sarah becomes a widow. She finds herself wondering how she can possibly live her normal life without Charles in it, especially when all their memories flood to the forefront of her mind.

Slowly, Sarah starts to find peace with her sudden loss, and is determined to live the rest of her life in a way that would have made Charles and her young, ambitious self proud. She takes nature walks with Charles’ Nikon, trying to see through his eyes, and works in her garden as she contemplates her past and present. She is asked by her daughter to take in a boarder who would live in their little ‘vacation’ cabin in the back of their property, to which she agrees. Then, she takes in her teenage granddaughter, Lottie, who is having troubles with her overbearing mother. After some time, Lottie asks if a few of her friends can also move in to help settle their problems at home, and Sarah agrees. Then, a family in need also moves in. Soon, she realizes that this was what she was meant to do with the rest of her life- take care of others. With her house full, Sarah realizes that she is feeling stronger and more fulfilled- and more like the person she’s always wanted to be. In turn, her boarders become a blended family that care for her, help her make amends in wounded relationships, and heal her broken heart.

I personally don’t think I’m doing this novel justice in my summary, although I tried to, because it’s so much more complex than I can describe. Maloy has woven the story lines together so beautifully, and allowed all these tiny but pure details to bubble to the surface at the most exact and perfect time. Sarah is such a dynamic character, and she actually reminds me a lot of my spunky Grandma Rain! I also loved the setting, it’s spot on the Vermont I know and love. Overall, it’s honest, touching, and clever. I highly recommend Every Last Cuckoo. I actually think I’m going to try and find another copy to give to my grandma, and the copy I have is going right back on my bookshelf.



A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

My very first book blog review was of Sarah’s Key by de Rosnay, and it was such a heartbreaking story but beautifully written. I eventually watched the movie, which broke my heart again, and then decided to investigate what else de Rosnay had written- and found A Secret Kept. I didn’t know what to expect, but I anticipated another heart-wrenching novel. I was not disappointed.

In modern day Paris, France, Antoine has decided he needs to get away from his problems and decides the best way to do so is to celebrate the good times of the past with his sister, MΓ©lanie, for her birthday. Both of them have recently been through bad break-ups, so traveling to their family’s old vacation haunt in Noirmoutier seemed like the perfect escape. While away for the long weekend, Antonie reflects on his life- the devastating divorce from his ex-wife Astrid caused by her affair with a man named Serge; his teenage children that has become strangers to him; and his tattered relationship with his father and the extended Rey family after his mother’s untimely passing in 1974. Antonie isn’t sure what can be done to mend the broken relationships in his life- but he’s thankful that MΓ©lanie has remained a constant companion through it all.

While MΓ©lanie and Antonie vacation, the memories of their childhood bubble to the surface in little bursts. Antonie was eight years old, his sister five, when they were there last in 1972. They remember the trips to watch le Passage de Gois be swallowed by the Atlantic with the tide changes, the elegant dinners with their grandparents, and even a few familiar faces. But what floods to the forefront of their minds is the memories associated with their mother, Clarisse.

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She passed away two years after their last trip to Noirmoutier, due to an aneurysm. Ever since that fateful day, the Rey family buried the memory of Clarisse, and she became a taboo topic to discuss. To be in Noirmoutier was like giving them permission to talk about her, to remember her. But then on the drive back to Paris, MΓ©lanie remembers something so startling that when she turns to tell Antonie, who was in the passanger seat, she loses control of the car. As Antonie awaits the update from the doctor, he can’t help but wonder what the recollection was, despite his agony of the unknown condition of his beloved sister. As Tatiana de Rosnay slowly reveals the truth about Clarisse, Antonie finally comes to realize that he barely knew who his mother really was.

Overall, I found A Secret Kept both heartbreaking and yet brutally truthful. Reading from the perspective of a grown man was a little more disturbing that I expected, but in the sense that the honesty that came from Antoine was both graphic and emotional. I don’t think I really cared for Antoine, but I did pity him as he contemplated his poor relationships with his family and ex-wife. I did, however, love the plot. I love looking into the past through someone else’s eyes, and the fact that there was a shroud of mystery surrounding Clarisse and her affair was very intriguing. I wanted to know what happened just as much as Antoine. I also love the imagery that de Rosnay creates- I felt like I was in France, in Paris, in Noirmoutier. The pieces of french that she incorporates into the novel are lush little nuggets, and the way she describes the streets and buildings make me feel like I’m right there with the main character.

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I don’t know if I would recommend this book to many, due to it’s heavy nature and adult content, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t relish it. It’s another example of de Rosnay’s beautiful writing, and the complex nature of relationships, family, and life.


Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

The proverbial skeleton is about to be out of the closet! Latham kept me hanging on the edge of my seat and turning pages, determined to figure out who the body was before it was fully revealed…but I truly couldn’t figure it out until the very end.

Rowan Chase is woken up to the sound of construction. When she gets up to investigate, she finds something more mysterious than the renovation. The workers have found a body long dead in her decades-family-owned servants house. Unused but for storage for almost a century, the workers were converting the building into a man-cave for Rowan’s father. Quickly the workers leave, and Rowan calls up her best friend James to help her investigate. When they start looking at the remains, they noticed a wallet, a gun with “Maybelle” inscribed on it, and the messy remaining mix of lime and blood.

in 1921, William Tillman is a young man in the midst of racially tumultuous Tulsa. He’s the son of a Osage woman and a blue collar man, trying to impress his crush Addie and his best friend, Clete. While at a speakeasy dubbed the Two-Knock, Addie and a black man named Clarence walk in, and Clete immediately urges Will to run him off for talking to a white woman. Will is drunk and belligerent, but even then he knows that he doesn’t think this is right- however, he causes a ruckus, picks a one-sided fight, and Clarence is forced to leave. Clete runs to the crooked police, which trickles to the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan (or wanna-bes), and Clarence is killed. Will knows this is just as much his fault as Clete’s and the others.

As Rowan tracks down the past on her house, the town, and the skeleton in her back yard, Will recounts the time leading up to the Tulsa race riot of 1921. In alternating chapters, the reader is piecing together the clues that will reveal who the skeleton is, while Latham describes a dark and scary time in American history, and reminds us that history often repeats itself if we let it.

My in-real-life book club picked this for our monthly read. We wanted a female author or a strong female lead, and out of a strong pile of books fitting the bill, we chose Dreamland Burning and got both. I’m curious to see what the members of the group thought about the book, but I was definitely absorbed in it by 50 pages in. I will say that both main characters bothered me at first- their privilege was showing and made them a little unlikable in the beginning for me- but once I got into the unraveling of the story, I realized that both Rowan and Will were able to change for the better and I was so proud of them by the end.

I plan to do some more reading up on the events in this book, but I did do a few searches, and what I have found about the riot is nauseating. There are images of the KKK, images of the town on fire, articles with info disputing how many people of color were killed that night, and even worse things. I highly suggest this read, as it is such a good mystery and a great way to open discussion on race, class, and historical context, but I also would say to keep in mind that this book, though fictional, is still based on a true, horrible event. It’s certainly one that’ll open anyone’s eyes.

February Wrap-Up, Tags, & Giveaway Winner!

I don’t know about you all, but February flew by for me!!

I always forget just how short the month is, until I’m scrambling at the end of it! So, wrapping up the month, here are the books and their reviews from February:

  1. Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller
  2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  3. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  4. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
  5. The Princess Mutiny by L.J. Surrage
  6. The Tales of Beetle the Bard by JK Rowling
  7. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

It’s not as many as I had planned this month, but sometimes you have to go with the flow and I’m still impressed with myself, haha. I also knocked out a couple of book tags with this post, and added a shiny new One Lovely Blog Award to my Top Shelf! I’m still dumbfounded that my little blog was nominated, but it warms my little heart! I also nominated a handful of really lovely bloggers myself, so please give their blogs a peek too!

Also, I hosted my second giveaway for a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wild, a pocket notebook, and a bookmark- and the winner is… Nirmala from Red Lips and Bibliomaniacs!

Now, let’s get on to the last book tags of February!


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🎩This Is Me- a book with an uplifting message:I Am Malala! Despite all the horrors in Malala’s life, this young woman still remained optimistic for change.

🎩A Million Dreams- a character who doesn’t give up: Peeta from the Hunger Games & Catching Fire. Peeta from Mockingjay gave up a little, but he was brainwashed so I forgive him. But prior to that, the boy didn’t give up on Katniss, and I thought that was adorable.

🎩Tightrope- a character you want to go on an adventure with: I really don’t know who I’d choose! And I’m not great at making decisions so I plead the fifth.

🎩The Greatest Show- a book that took you to another place: Every single book I read takes me somewhere. I’m actually planning to make a map of all the places I’ve “been” because of the books I’ve read! I’ll share it if I ever get it together!

🎩The Other Side- an unlikely friendship: Marie-Laure and Werner from All the Light We Cannot See. ____________________



πŸ‘‹Where do you live? πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ USA!

πŸ‘‹ Do you plan bookstagram? Yes, absolutely. Planning keeps me on track!

πŸ‘‹ Dream job? Does winning the lottery and never working again count? No? Okay. Actually, I really love my day job. It’s a really good mix of things I enjoy.

πŸ‘‹ Authors you’d like to meet? I’d probably cry if I got to meet Rowling. But I’d also really love to meet Jodi Picoult.

πŸ‘‹ Happy song/ place/ food? Hall & Oates, You Make My Dreams / My family’s camp / Ice cream!


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πŸ”₯ Iron Man- book that made me laugh: Woulda Coulda Shoulda by Dave Feldman.

πŸ”₯Thor- character with strength you admire: Oh wow. Well, pretty much every autobiography or memoir I’ve read has a strong main character, so I couldn’t possibly choose.

πŸ”₯Captain America- book set in another era: I love the WW2 era, so I could list a ton. One of my favorites? The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

πŸ”₯Hulk- book that made you angry: I haven’t had a book that made me as grumpy as The Circle, but y’all know that, haha.

πŸ”₯Hawkeye- underrated book: I just mentioned Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult on my bookstagram! I thought it was amazing, but I hadn’t heard much hype.

πŸ”₯Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch- sibling love: Oh easy- Katniss & Prim!

πŸ”₯Antman- a book you want to read but can’t: I want to read The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons so bad, but I won’t buy it until after I finish the #unreadshelfproject2018.

πŸ”₯Loki- evil character that you like: Belatrix Lestrange! She is one crazy mothertrucker, but I also think she’s also kind of awesome, haha. Of course, Helena Bonham Carter is amazing, so that could be part of it.


Okay, that’s enough fun for this month, haha. I’m ready to spring into March!

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Another from my Dessen collection! This one is a recent addition to the collection (thank you Julia!) which I read in about 3 days. It was just over 400 pages, but it’s a quick paced novel and if life hadn’t gotten in the way, I would have been done with it much sooner.

The story starts off introducing seventeen year old Ruby, and her mother, a restless woman perplexed by her misfortune. Ruby’s father wasn’t in the picture, and her sister, who was ten years older than Ruby, had left the duo for college and never looked back. Reflecting on her childhood memories was painful for Ruby, but despite her anger at her sister, Cora, Ruby always remembered her as her protector…at least, until she left. And from then on, her mother always reminded her that it was just the two of them against the world. Ruby reflected her mother’s attitude, never getting too attached to her school friends or her home, and on nights when her mother didn’t return home, she aimed to prove her mother that she didn’t need her either.

But then, after her mother had been gone for a few weeks without a word of where she went, and despite Ruby’s best efforts to carry on like it wasn’t a big deal that her mother was MIA, the landlords of their current residence, the little yellow house, called in social services. Ruby was taken away by the officials, leaving everything behind but the house key dangling on a dainty chain around her neck. She was put under the custody of her sister, whom Ruby hadn’t seen in a decade, and found that her sister had done well for herself; rich husband, big house, fancy neighborhood, nice cars. But Ruby wasn’t used to the luxury, and couldn’t bear the thought of being her sister’s charity case. Instead of unpacking, she plans to sneak off into the night… only to be thwarted by their little dog sounding alarm.

Forced by her circumstances to adjust to this new way of life, Ruby finds that even those that seem more fortunate than her have their own problems, and that sometimes, it’s okay to accept- and give- a helping hand. It may sound a little cliche and fluffy, but Dessen writes these characters so beautifully, you won’t even think about the cheese-factor, especially in Lock and Key, with all it’s heavy-hitting topics. I was completely absorbed in Ruby’s life as she handled all the changes in her senior year of high school and delved into the truth from her past. I loved watching the relationship develop between her and Cora, as well as the other supporting characters that come into the story line.

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As I’ve said before, Dessen books are a perfect go-to Young Adult read, so I urge you to check one out.

Book Tag Bonanza!

I’ve been busier than I expected to be this month, so I’ve got more books than I intended left over and unread in my February TBR pile, and a bunch of book tags to catch up on. So I’m giving myself more reading time and catching up on tags today- two birds, one stone! Feel free to give any of these a go if you want- just tag me so I can check out your answers!

** Also, don’t forget to enter my latest giveaway, which ends February 27th! **




πŸ‘‘Initial Attraction- a cover buy: I don’t buy for the covers, like, ever. I’m a penny-pincher first, bookie second. The only book I have on my must-buy list because of the cover is the Hufflepuff house edition of the Sorcerer’s Stone.

πŸ‘‘First Impression- a book you bought because of the summary:Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller.

First Date- first book in a series that made you want to read the rest: Divergent by Veronica Roth.

πŸ‘‘Late Night Phone Call- a book that kept you up all night: Oh gosh, my current reads always do, haha. For instance I was up until 1AM last night with Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen.

πŸ‘‘Thinking of the Future- a book you want to reread soon: The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. I read them back in high school, and I remember liking them but I don’t remember much about the plot.

πŸ‘‘Getting Physical- a book you loved by the way it felt:Tatiana & Alexander by Paullina Simons.Β 
πŸ‘‘Meet the Parents- a book you’d recommend to anyone: HARRY POTTERRRR!


I plan to read these after I finish the stack for the #unreadshelfproject2018, & whenΒ  they are available!

1️⃣ Still Me by Jojo Moyes

2️⃣ The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

3️⃣ Red Clocks by Leni Zuma

4️⃣ The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

5️⃣ Untitled – Jodi Picoult (expected release October 2018)



πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™€οΈHave you ever dog-eared a book? So extremely guilty. You can call me a monster too, because I agree.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™€οΈLied about reading a book? I don’t think so, although whenever someone asks if I’ve read something, and it sounds familiar, I may say I’ve read it when I haven’t, but I usually correct myself.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™€οΈBorrowed a book without returning it? NEVER. I try very hard to read & return quickly.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™€οΈSpoiled a book for someone? I try not to! But it may have happened a time or two anyways.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™€οΈDNF a book? Oh definitely. Life is too short to read something you don’t enjoy!

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™€οΈCried over a book? So. Many. Times.
πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™€οΈLied about liking a book? I try to be honest, so I don’t think so. And what I don’t like, I try to be diplomatic when explaining why.

πŸ™…πŸ»β€β™€οΈFavorite fictional character of all time? How could I possibly choose? I mean, I can’t decide one character in one book, let alone thousands!



πŸ’«What race would you be? Witch!

πŸ’«What job would you like? Some sort of magical creature caretaker!

πŸ’«What is your name? I wouldn’t change the name I was born with!
πŸ’«Animal sidekick? A cat of course, and a unicorn, and also I think a niffler would be fun, haha.

πŸ’«Weapon? I have a wand, what do I need a weapon for?
πŸ’«What would your power be? Magic, of course.

πŸ’«What role would you play? I have no idea, that’s a hard question!
πŸ’«What fictional character aids you on your journey? I think I’m alone on this journey, because I have no idea, haha.


πŸ’₯Sailor Moon- a book that’s always there for you: There are a few! Eat Pray Love & Wild totally inspire me. When I need to get lost in a book, the Harry Potter series is there.

πŸ’₯Sailor Mercury- a book that makes you feel smart:Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach

πŸ’₯Sailor Mars- a book that made you angry:The Circle by Dave Eggars. I know, I complain about this book like, every book tag chance I get, but that book just frustrated me.

πŸ’₯Sailor Venus- favorite romance in a book: Of late, my favorite is still Tatiana and Alexander from The Bronze Horseman series. But I also will forever love the dramatic romance between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler.

πŸ’₯Sailor Jupiter- favorite fighter in a book: Katniss from The Hunger Games is pretty badass, you have to admit!


The Tales of Beetle The Bard by J.K. Rowling

I bought this book a while ago to add to my Harry Potter collection, but hadn’t worked into my reading schedule until now. Most of you Potterheads have heard of the book or own it yourself, but for those of you who are newly introduced to the wizarding world, this book is a collection of short children’s stories that was introduced to readers and audiences in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The collection is comprised of the following stories:

  • The Wizard and the Hopping Pot: a story about a wizard who selfishly denies helping others until his father’s old pot changes his ways.
  • The Fountain of Fair Fortune: a story about three young witches who journeyed with a knight to reach a magic fountain.
  • The Warlock’s Hairy Heart: a cautionary tale of a warlock who uses dark magic to keep his heart cold and locked away forever.
  • Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump: a tale of a man who tries to con the king into thinking he has magical talent, only both are bested by a cackling laundry mistress.
  • The Tale of the Three Brothers: the most famous tale of Beedle’s, thanks to the final Harry Potter book. It is the story of how three brothers bested death with three magical items- the elder wand, the resurrection stone, and the invisibility cloak.

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Each story also has some insight from Albus Dumbledore, helping to explain the moral of each, and annotations from Rowling with definitions of certain magical words and historical context. They’re entertaining and fun, reminiscent of Grimm’s fairy tales, except not for muggles. I highly recommend the read, since it’s a rather short book, and it’s definitely a necessity in a Harry Potter book collection.