Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Book Review: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown


Goodreads Overview:

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle—while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move—the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.

Jacque's Review:

One of my bookish challenges every year is to read at least 3 of the books that have been on my TBR list the longest. This was one of the books that has been on my Goodreads list since September 7, 2010, so it finally made it to the top of the list. 

I honestly had no idea what this book was about until I started reading it. The theories and connections between Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Christianity, the Catholic church, and Da Vinci's works was absolutely brilliant. With Langdon, a Harvard professor, leading the discussion along with his colleague Sir Leigh Teabing, a British Royal Historian, the story flows like a history lesson. You can't help but question if there is any truth to the story. If so, why do the biblical stories paint a drastically different picture?

In addition to unraveling the mystery behind the Holy Grail, Langdon and Sophie Neveu must solve four murders to clear their own names. The closer they get to uncovering the truth, the more dangerous the mission becomes. They quickly realize they can't trust anyone.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and followed it up by watching the movie. Tom Hanks played Robert Langdon and did an amazing job of brining this book to life. The movie followed the book pretty closely and was highly entertaining. I don't always enjoy the movie after reading the book, but in this case, they did the book justice. Even if you aren't a reader, the movie is an action packed adventure with beautiful scenery. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Book Review: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely


Goodreads Overview:

A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?

There were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Jacque's Review:

This was one of the books assigned for my son's sophomore year summer reading. It is a thought provoking novel that is extremely relevant in today's society.  It highlights how two boys living in the same community and attending the same school are treated completely differently because of the color of their skin. Rashad is told from an early age to act and dress a certain way to avoid the injustices often inflicted on black males in our society. 

Quinn is a white student and a star basketball player. He isn't friends with Rashad, but he knows who he is because Rashad is good friends with English, another star player on the team. Quinn is treated like a celebrity in town because his father is a war hero that was killed in the line of duty. Everyone calls him the All American Boy, but what does that really mean?

After witnessing the brutal attack on Rashad by Paul, a white police officer, Quinn begins to question his own beliefs and ideas about racism. To compound the issue, he is friends with the Paul's younger brother and has always thought of Paul as a big brother or father figure. He wants to believe Paul, but he can't rationalize what he saw with the explanation he is receiving.  He knows he has to do something. Silence will only perpetuate the racism and inequality in this country. 

This is an exceptional book that everyone should read. The characters are very honest and realistic and I think everyone can benefit from the message that is shared. I watched an interview with the authors that was conducted by the Ohio Library Council and thoroughly enjoyed their dialog and backstory. They couldn't be any more different, but they connected while on a book tour together and have become great friends. They did an amazing job of sharing a harsh reality that has plagued our nation for far too long. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Book Review: In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collide, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.


Are you ready for some Christmas Cheer? If so you need to pick up the new book In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren. This book will have you dreaming of snowy days and log cabins in the woods with the people you love.

The story uses two fairly common tropes to build its plot. The “ make a wish “, where you make a wish and end up in the past so you can hopefully fix or change things, and the “ Groundhog Day “ where you are in a constant loop of a certain time period. Lauren does an excellent job of combining the two.

Being from the South, having the typically shown snowy cold Christmas is as fiction as most of the books I read, so the setting in the book was wonderful to me, and the author described everything in detail, which gave me the feeling of being transplanted straight to Utah ( which was great because we are still having 90-degree weather where I am at ). I even told my husband we need to pack our bags this Holiday season and head for somewhere snowy !! The cozy log cabin, the snow, the tall trees, the big porch, it all just felt warm and fuzzy like you expect Christmas to feel.

The family dynamics were great in the book, and while yes, it was a romance, I felt it leaned a bit toward a family saga also. There were so many times you felt like the fly on the wall watching the family’s yearly traditions, their love for each other, their doubts, and their fights. The family felt real to me, they were not a perfect family, they had their flaws, yet even with flaws, they showed great respect and love for each other. Possibly my favorite relationship in the book was the main character Mae’s relationship with Benny. It was a close almost parental type relationship, where she often turned to him for advice, not wanting to tell her parent's certain things. It was a relationship a lot of us could have really used as we grew up.

I am not giving much detail on this review, as it would be so easy to give away the entire book, but I will say, I could easily see this as a Hallmark Christmas movie, it is funny, it is cute and cozy and it is magical. Be prepared though, the typical meet-cute is not in this story, it isn’t needed to be part of the story, but it doesn’t feel lacking at all. All I can really say is JUST READ IT…YOU WILL LOVE IT…

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Book review: LyricPop Picture Books

Flo's Review

I read two of the newest LyricPop picture books with my son -- We Got the Beat and These Boots Are Made for Walkin'. Reading these books together was fun for both of us because my son enjoyed the colorful, fun pictures and I enjoyed reading aloud to the tune of the songs...okay, maybe I was singing :). It was a fun experience for both of us to share together as the books bridge the old (the songs) with the new (the stories). 

Along with We Got the Beat and These Boots Are Made for Walkin', two additional LyricPop books publish on October 6th -- Respect and Move the Crowd. I'm also looking forward to the 2021 lineup, which includes:

  • (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay, song lyrics by Otis Redding & Steve Cropper: March 2, 2021
  • Humble and Kind, song lyrics by Lori McKenna: March 2, 2021
  • Where Is My Mind?, song lyrics by Black Francis: June 1, 2021
  • Dream Weaver, song lyrics by Gary Wright: June 1, 2021
  • 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy), song lyrics by Paul Simon: June 1, 2021
  • I Will Survive, song lyrics by Dino Fekaris and Frederick J. Perren: June 1, 2021

Thank you to Akashic Books for sending me advance readers' copies in exchange for my honest review.

Book Summaries


Song lyrics by Charlotte Caffey
Illustrations by Kaitlyn Shea O'Conner
An exuberant celebration of dance and play in picture book form, based on Charlotte Caffey’s joyful classic made famous by the Go-Go’s.
We Got the Beat is a children’s picture book based on the hit song by the 1980s new wave group the Go-Go’s. Consisting of five members, the all-female band rocked the nation with their charisma and musical genius. Their hit song “We Got the Beat” spent three weeks at #2 on the Billboard 100 and became their signature song. Says the New York Times: the Go-Go’s “taught a new generation the power of the girl gang.”
With lyrics by Go-Go’s member Charlotte Caffey and illustrations by Kaitlyn Shea O’Connor, this picture book tells the story of what it is like to live life dancing to the beat, while enjoying friends, nature, and the fun that surrounds you. We Got the Beat will make both parents and children get their groove on and show off their best dance moves.

Song lyrics by Lee Hazlewood
Illustrations by Rachel Moss
Lee Hazlewood’s tough-talkin’ hit song (popularized by Nancy Sinatra) is adapted into a playful children’s book about the inner life of a jealous cat.
These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ is an adorable story of friendship and family set against the backdrop of Lee Hazlewood’s iconic song. While there have been numerous recordings over the past several decades, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” was originally recorded by Nancy Sinatra and released in early 1966 to instant success. A #1 Billboard hit in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia that was nominated for three GRAMMYs, Hazlewood’s song continues to be embraced to this day.
With lyrics by Lee Hazlewood and illustrations by Rachel Moss, this captivating picture book tells the story of a boy and his extremely attached and very jealous cat who must adapt to the introduction of a new family member—a puppy. The funny story line and delightful images are sure to have the entire family curled up and laughing together, pets included!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Book Review: In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk


When Ros steps off a plane after four years away she’s in need of a job, a flat, and a phone that actually works. And, possibly, her old life back. Because everyone at home has moved on, her parents have reignited their sex life, she’s sleeping in a converted shed and she’s got a bad case of nostalgia for the way things were.

Then her new phone begins to ping with messages from people she thought were deleted for good. Including one number she knows off by heart: her ex’s.

Sometimes we’d all like the chance to see what we’ve been missing…


I usually love Rom/Com's and the easiness of reading them, but In Case You Missed It by Lyndsey Kelk fell a bit flat for me. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it, but neither did I love it.

I think the main problem for me in the book was the min character Ros Reynolds. once again, I didn't hate her, I just thought she was wasting her time wanting to spend all her present time in the past by getting together with her ex-boyfriend Patrick who had dumped her when she left for a job in the US 3 years before. To be honest, I would spit on Patrick ( you know if I did that kind of gross thing, and I dont...yuck )He was a narcissistic knob who was selfish, and for some reason, most of the book spent was Ros trying to rekindle that relationship. There is even a hot broody bartender who clearly wants to hook up with her that she barely gives the time of day to!

There are certainly redeeming parts, John the bartender clearly cares about Ros and you will find yourself rooting for him as you read, there are many funny parts, and many of her friends were more likable than she was to me. Probably my favorite characters were her parents. They were a bit wacky and had rekindled their relationship after becoming empty-nesters, and even have their vows re-done.

While In Case You Missed It really wasn't the best Rom/Com I have read, I mean I didn't feel the romance even started until I was 90 percent done with the book, it was a fun way to spend a lazy afternoon. It is a quick read. I have also heard many people say that Lyndsey Kelk is a fantastic writer, so I am not yet giving up on her. In fact, In Case You Missed It had some great reviews, so many people enjoyed it, so if you are wanting a bit of an escape from your daily drudgery, I would pick it up and at least give it a try. It may be the perfect book for you