June 2023 Book Reviews

June 2023 Book Reviews

I didn’t read as much in June as I did in May, but I still managed five books, almost six. After finishing the array of choices last month, I wasn’t sure what I’d read next, and then a book I’d had on hold with the library came in. Problem solved.

Daughter Of The Moon Goddess — I spotted this book on the new release shelf in my library months ago, snapped a picture, and filed it away for later. You do that too, right? If I spot a book in the shop or the library that sounds really intriguing, I’ll snap a picture and then hunt them down when I’m looking for something to read. I ended up listening to this one through my library’s Libby App, and after a 15+ week wait, it finally arrived.

Xingyin has grown up in solitude on the moon, only knowing her mother and her mother’s maid. She’s unaware that her mother lives in exile on the moon for stealing the elixir of life in order to save her unborn child’s life. When Xingyin’s magic flares and the Celestial Kingdom is aware there’s another life-force on the moon, Xingyin must flee.

She is sent, with her mother’s maid, to the Seven Seas. En route, their cloud is attacked by soldiers from the Celestial Kingdom. Instead of her destination, Xingyin ends up in the forest of the Celestial Kingdom. Unaware of her identity, she’s permitted to train alongside the Crown Prince and learn how to control her own magic, become skilled with a sword, and in archery. Eventually, she embarks on a perilous journey in order to save her mother, and free her from the prison the moon has become.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a mix of fantasy, romance, and adventure all rolled into one delightful tale. It’s one of those books that once I came to the end, I found it hard to engage with another story, mind still so full of the adventure I’d just finished. 

The President Is Missing — I remember when this book came out, back when we lived on the Island. It was constantly on the two-week checkout shelf. The Researcher even owns a copy, two I think. A paperback and a copy on CD, both picked up at library book sales.

The Googler shared a James Paterson meme to the family chat, and it brought this book to mind. Which led me to Libby, and since it was immediately available, I borrowed it and settled in. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I’ve not read Patterson’s works, but based on the title, I figured it would be political. A topic I generally avoid.

It sat in the middle of the road regarding politics. More about what a person in an elected office might face from the public with unhappy people all around. The political games played by other elected officials wishing to advance their career, and the few people in their corner they can rely on.

The story is supposed to be a thriller, but I have to be honest and say it didn’t have that edge of your seat vibe that one might expect from a thriller. Still, it kept me reading, which is the most important thing, right?

The President is facing a cyber terror threat that he chooses to only let a very limited number of people know about. His hope is that he can stop it before it happens, because if it does unfold it would take America to a modern-day version of the middle ages. No internet means no bank, no water, no food, and a grounded military.

There’s also a traitor in the white house, which the President is trying to flush out. There are a few red herrings thrown around to lead you astray, but I confess there was this point where I knew who it had to be. Not as the reader, but as the writer. I knew exactly who the traitor had to be in order to make the reader gasp. 

I really enjoyed the book, right until the very end. The Epilogue was very political, and felt out of place compared to the rest of the novel. It was certainly a “let’s please as many people as we can with this presidential speech” moment. Disappointing, considering how well the rest of the book had been.

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For MurdersThis is another book I took a picture of, only I spotted this one at my local BAM on my way to a writing meeting. It was on the table of books labeled, “If You Missed It In Hard Cover”. The design on the cover caught my attention, and when I flipped it over and read the back of the book, I thought it sounded fun.

I opted to go on the wait list through my library with it, and I’m glad I did. I enjoy novels that lean themselves down this story line: Lonely elderly person who just want to be needed. This one was a little different because Vera was trying to solve a murder that happened in her “world famous” tea shop.

Her son hardly visits, and by Asian cultural standards, he’s not a “good son” as far as Vera is concerned. When a young man dies in the tea shop her son believes she should sell, Vera takes matters into her own hands. She uses a black sharpie and outlines the body while waiting for the police to arrive. She also brews tea that will help them concentrate in order to solve the murder.

Except, the police refuse the tea, become irritated that she messed with the crime scene, and don’t feel there’s enough evidence to label the event a murder. That’s because Vera removed something from the body. Soon, the quiet tea shop has several unexpected guests. All claiming to have heard about the death and wanting to witness the scene for themselves.

Vera knows better, and soon has a motley crew of friends she’s helping, all the while believing one of them guilty of murder. She sees what they cannot: their potential, their fears, their loves. She guides them, gently, through both with food and, a “do as Vera says” attitude.

When the small group finds out what Vera is up to, she’s left in disgrace and returns to her cold, empty tea shop. It’s not until her newfound friends wonder how she’s doing that they realize the deep effect their words had on Vera. 

I appreciated how interwoven the culture was in this story, but based on the samples thought it would be funnier than it was. Maybe, not being Asian, a lot of the inner funny were cultural references I didn’t get. The gotcha moment was also well done. I admit, I did not see it coming despite all the clues being left in front of the reader and repeatedly mentioned. It wasn’t my favorite story in this genre, but I would read it again.

Uninvited This is one of those self-help books that’s been on my to-do list for ages. In fact, I own multiple copies of this book! I decided June was the month I would finally buckle down to read it. I’ve enjoyed many of Lysa’s works over the years, and this one wasn’t any different.

In this book, she covers feeling rejected, uninvited, abandoned, and unloved. The lesson being it’s okay to say, “I feel..” But then pick yourself up and remember core truths about that statement. 

It’s not a heavy or long book, but it took me most of the month to read through it annotating, highlighting, and flagging pages as I went. I highly recommend this book if you’re in a place of feeling rejected. It’s written from a christian perspective, so the core truths will revolve around God’s unwavering love for mankind.

Rainy Day Kisses Being in a reading rut, I went hunting for a Macomber title. I didn’t have a particular one in mind. I was just after a fun, cozy read. Debbie Macomber is often my fall back author. I’ve honestly yet to read one of her stories that I haven’t enjoyed. This one was predictable, and not quite what I expected, but I enjoyed it. It’s not one of my top favorites of hers, but it would be pretty hard to beat Cottage By The Sea.

This was a quick read, and somewhat predictable. It started out in the same fashion The Christmas Spirit novel did, with someone else telling the story. Michelle is the newest employee for her uncle, and fellow workmates want to know if she’s really responsible for her aunt and uncle meeting and marrying. Michelle assures them it’s true and offers to tell the story. 

The rest of the book is all about how Michelle, as an infant, brought unexpected love to her aunt’s doorstep. 

Dear Readers,

I know this post is an entire week late. Things have been a little chaotic over here in the mountains. We’ve had repeated internet outages that have cut into writing time. Weathered some wild storms, and I’m still impressed that I’m the only one in the house that woke up for one this past week.

As I write this, I’m in another reading rut. Largely because I’m waiting on several books to come in from the library. Fingers crossed it won’t be too much longer, although I’m 1545 in line for one title. It strikes me my library could use a few more copies to pass around. And I know you’re wondering why I don’t just go purchase the book. I have a strong suspicion I’ll enjoy the writing, but probably not the story. So, until I’m sure, I’d rather borrow it.

Have no fear though, something always turns up to read!

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