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The Romanov Sisters | Helen Rappaport | Audiobook

Why Did I Listen To The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport?

Growing up I loved the animated movie Anastasia (and later the Broadway adaptation). Learning more about the Romanov family dynasty is something that I’m always looking to do. I actually had been approved for an advance copy of The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra on Netgalley when it was first published but for some reason never actually read it. So when I found that the audio version was available on Libby, I was quick to grab it up and delve right in.

What’s The Story Here?

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra delicately describes the lives of the four Grand Duchesses (Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia) of the Romanov dynasty from birth until their unfortunate deaths. Using personal letters, journal entries, and second hand accounts of the family, Helen Rappaport presents the four girls as individuals with their own personalities, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of the world around them. Their lives are carefully intertwined with that of their parents and brother which influences the way in which they behave and are a perceived by Russian society in the early twentieth century.

How Did I Like The Romanov Sisters?

My heart really went out for the four Grand Duchesses of Russia by the end of The Romanov Sisters. Each girl really was unique but this uniqueness was often overshadowed by an attempt to group them together. It was also overshadowed by the political climate around them and the sicknesses of both their mother and their brother. I enjoyed reading about their youth, their school girl crushes, and their involvement in nursing during the wars. Each of the girls was a devoted member of their family – and sadly all of them were caught in the crossfire of the political revolution of the time.

How’s The Narration?

The audiobook narrator is Xe Sands. It is 12 hours and 26 minutes unabridged and most of the chapters are long in length. It is well narrated and takes you on the journey of Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia and their family and friends with ease. I enjoyed listening to The Romanov Sisters and learning even more about the ultimately tragic Romanov dynasty.

Rating: 4 Stars

Audiobook review layout borrowed from April @ Good Books and Good Wine.

That’s What HE Said Thursday

That’s What He Said Thursday is hosted by Chapter Break. I thought it would be fun to participate using one of my most recent reads Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn.

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

“If I did, I would say that last week I watched every video you’ve got on your website so I could hear the sound of your voice again. I would say that a woman stood next to me on the subway and I think she used the same shampoo as you, and I could hardly breathe for how much I missed you. I would say that I walked around all day with a Meg-shaped shadow beside me, and I only came in here because of the signs outside, and so I wouldn’t call you up at nine o’clock on a Friday night and beg you to talk to me again—about Frisbee, the weather, the name for that piece of a letter you told me about—” –Reid Sutherland

I picked this quote from Love Lettering because it is the moment that I became hooked on what I was reading. Before this moment I had a semi-warm feeling in regards to Reid and Meg because it was such a SLOW burn but then this happened….and Reid stole my heart (along with Meg’s). He is a flawed character who makes a handful of mistakes but he balances the equally flawed Meg out and together they just make sense.

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem | Manda Collins | Book Review

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins appealed to me as a reader of historical romances. Especially romances set in the Victorian period. This time there was also a mystery wrapped within the pages of the romance which was equally compelling for me.

The main character of A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem is Lady Katherine Bascomb who owns and writes for the local paper. She is a widow who is strong-headed woman with a good heart. Her deceased husband did not treat her well and since his death she has resolved to answer to no man. So when she finds her path crossing with Detective Andrew Eversham, she has to decide if she is going to trust him with her life…and maybe even her heart.

Kate and Andrew have an easy chemistry but their interactions felt very insta-love to me. I wanted to have more build up before they were in each others arms and making declarations to each other. Understandably, the pressure of being present for a murder mystery may have elevated their tensions a little bit but, I still wasn’t fully convinced of their connection as much as I believe I should have been.

I enjoyed the murder mystery part of A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem. Part of Kate’s strong-headed nature results in her not waiting for Andrew to ask questions but instead going to for the answers herself. I enjoyed this but there were a couple of times when it annoyed me because I could tell that she was putting herself in danger that would require her to be rescued by someone else. I could respect Kate’s determination to find out the information though and her fight to stop women from being so sheltered from the realities of society. Her commentary was actually pretty funny at times.

Overall, I found A Woman’s Guide To Mischief and Murder to be a easy read. I did wind up setting it down for a bit and coming back to it though because I felt like I getting kind of stuck. Like I said, I wanted there to be more of a connection between Kate and Andrew that would have made the romance more believable. Although, they were steamy together, there was a connecting element missing from them that would have made their relationship more believable and stronger for me.

Rating: 3 Stars

It’s Kind Of A Cheesy Love Story | Lauren Morrill | Book Review

It’s Kinda Of A Cheesy Love Story is like a big warm hug from Lauren Morrill and I loved every minute of it. The pages are filled with a relatable quirky main character, growing friendships and family relationships and potential romance. It was the perfect slice of a young adult book for me.

It’s Kind Of A Cheesy Love Story follows Beck Brix as she tries to navigate her life as a teenager. She would prefer to just fade into the background but has found this to be hard as she is known as the “Pizza Princess” or the “Bathroom Baby” due to being born in the public bathroom of a local pizza shop Hot ‘N’ Crusty. When she turns 16, she reluctantly agrees to become an employee of the pizza shop. This is not her first choice of employment but little by little she finds herself actually enjoying it and making friends with the people who work there. It is a completely different dynamic from what she has tried to build for herself and it forces her to question everything about herself.

I found Beck to be such a relatable teenager. She has found herself to be a part of two different worlds and is afraid what might happen if she brings them together. When I was in high school, I was part of two different groups as well – my band friends and my non-band friends – and I can remember being self conscious of what would happen if I mixed them together. This eventually did happen on occasions such as my graduation party and thankfully everyone got along well for the most part. I think I was like Beck in the aspect that I was trying to figure out who I was and wasn’t giving my friends the benefit of the doubt to be exactly who they were with me with others as well. Being a teenager can be really complicated and emotional and Beck’s journey of reconciling with herself and the people around her was a good representation of these ups and downs.

It’s Kind of A Cheesy Love Story is filled with so many good moments. There were moments that made me giggle, moments of snark that made me snort, moments of quiet that made me pause and think, and moments of sweetness that made me swoon. Lauren Morrill does a wonderful job of putting it all together. I loved the story she told and the group of characters which she created and by the end I really wanted to join all of them for a delicious slice of pizza and discuss life (and television shows) with them.

Rating: 5 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Fly Girls | Keith O’Brien | Book Review

I stumbled upon Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien randomly at my local library as they had it on display. I read the synopsis and was immediately captivated and wanted to learn more about these five daring women who defied all the odds in aviation history. It was not a topic that I was familiar with minus my limited knowledge of Amelia Earnhart and of Beverly Bass who was flying a plane on 9/11 and was one of the pilots diverted to Gander, Newfoundland. Captain Bass is a feature character in my favorite musical Come From Away which is how I know a little bit more about her.

Fly Girls focuses on five of the first female aviators in American history. Their names were Florence Klingensmith, Ruth Elder, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nichols, and Louise Thaden. And they were each heroic women in their own right defying what was perceived as “normal” during their lifetime. Each of these women wanted to be a pilot and fought hard to defy multiple odds to accomplish their goals.

I really enjoyed the author Keith O’Brien’s discussion on these women. The text was not dry and instead made for an easy and enjoyable read. I loved learning about each of the women. I also found it interesting the comparisons which the author made in regards to the “logical reasons” that women should not be pilots (i.e.; more crashes, heightened emotions, physical limitations), when there were male pilots who were experiencing the same exact thing and yet were still allowed to fly. It honestly made me laugh out loud because some of the restrictions were so far fetched and it was amazing to read about these women trying to defy all of them and often succeeding.

I learned quite a bit from reading Fly Girls that I did not know before in regards to the history of aviation and the influence of female pilots. The rate of pay a women received as an aviator was also influenced during this period of time and some of the women banded together to try and change this. These women were very influential and heroic individuals and I wish I had known about them before reading this book. I would recommend that you check it out so that you can get the same opportunity that I did.

**Today starts Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week (WOAW) which is a global aviation awareness week for girls of all ages observed to mark the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot license (March 8, 1910)**

Rating: 4 Stars

We Are Not Free | Traci Chee | Book Review

When I was in graduated school (the first time), I took a class that was about Asian American history in the United States. One of the topics that we spent alot of time discussing was the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II. Prior to this, I had not had very much exposure to this topic, and took great interest in. So when We Are Not Free by Traci Chee popped up on my Libby app, I immediately took the opportunity to check it out.

We Are Not Free tells the story of fourteen second generation Japanese American citizens (Nisei) who are forced into interment camps with their families during WWII. Each chapter is broken down into a different point of view; each feeling more real than the last. These characters all grew up in Japantown, San Francisco so they were all interconnected with each other – and their lives were to be forever changed when they were forcibly asked to relocate shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

To say, I loved this book would be an understatement. These characters felt so real to me. I enjoyed all the different perspectives and the different experiences that they went through. The racism and anti-Japanese sentiments was very much present in what was happening to these characters and their families. Some of them tried to find a speck of good even being within the camp while others became angrier and upset with what was happening to them. Honestly, it was heartbreaking at times because none of them asked for this.

Traci Chee does a really fantastic job of capturing the various elements of the camps – the horror of being there, the fear of not knowing what is going to happen next, the determination to survive, and the attempts to live life as if nothing had changed. Her descriptions are powerful and bring out the emotions which are being experienced. From the start of the We Are Not Free my heart is with these characters and many of them are still with me even now that I am done with their stories.

We Are Not Free follows a chronological timeline which makes it easy to follow. The fact that this timeline is based on events that actually took place in our American history is absolutely devastating and heartbreaking. And the fact that the mistreatment and racial fear is still occurring in present makes it even more so. Like myself prior to the class that I took during graduate school, there are many who do not know the truth of what occurred to Japanese American citizens during this time in history. Books like We Are Not Free give an opportunity to education as well as reflection. What a truly powerful read!

Rating: 5 Stars

Stay Gold | Tobly McSmith | Audiobook Review

Why Did I Listen To Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith?

I was looking for a new audiobook to listen to and Stay Gold caught my attention. I am always looking to be diverse with my reading choices and had thought that this would a sweet LGBTQ contemporary romance. Honestly, I really was expecting a sweet, fluffy romance between the new guy in school, Pony, who is trans and a popular cheerleader at his school called Georgia. And that is what this book is but also really isn’t.

What’s The Story Here?

Pony is a transgender boy and recently transferred to a new school so his goal is the lay low and not be found out. Georgia is the popular cheerleader at the school but, is someone who has dreams of being more than “just a cheerleader”. On the first day of school, Pony and Georgia meet during class. There is an attraction right from the start with the two of them but, each of them is afraid to act on it knowing that if they do, it will change everything for both of them.

What Did I Think Of Stay Gold?

I have conflicted feelings about Stay Gold. Like I said, I think I was expecting more of a contemporary romance which is what happened but, there were alot of underlying layers. This book tackles so many issues which are experienced by transgender individuals including transphobia, homophobia, body dysmorphia, personal trauma and suicidal thoughts.It was quite a bit to take in as a reader. I can see how important and educational it would be for a reader who may not have experience with transgender experiences. For myself though, there were times when I felt disconnected from the story, and the characters did not fully resonate with me. I felt for Pony and what he was experiencing and it broke my heart knowing that what he felt is truly felt by so many individuals out there. Georgia and I did not see eye to eye for much of the story and the “growth” which she experienced felt sudden to me.; and that she had more excuses for her behavior(s) then actual growth. Oh, and there are some secondary characters who I felt were way over the top and did not connect me to the story at hand in the way that I believe they were supposed to.

How’s The Narration?

Stay Gold is 9 hours long and is narrated by Theo Germaine and Phoebe Strole. I enjoyed having two narrators because it made it easier to keep Pony and Georgia separated in my mind. Each of the narrators had a good inflection in their tone when needed to express the emotions needed. And with the subjects that were discussed there was alot of emotion to unfold. I think that might be why in the end I was conflicted by this story. While I think it is a good introduction to queer identity issues, I did feel that the story was unbalanced, and not exactly what I expected as a reader. I think that it may be troublesome for some readers and should be treated as such and not as a happily ever after teenage love story.

Rating: 3 Stars

Audiobook review layout borrowed from April @ Good Books and Good Wine.

Only Mostly Devastated | Sophia Gonzales | Audiobook Review

Why Did I Listen To Only Mostly Devastated by Sophia Gonzales?

Honestly as soon as I found out that Only Mostly Devastated was a retelling of the musical Grease, I was in. I have seen the movie version of Grease so many times that I can probably quote it word for word. So, I was excited to see how this retelling by Sophia Gonzales played out. Also that cover? LOVE IT!

What’s The Story Here?

Only Mostly Devastated follows the relationship of Ollie and Will. The meet during the summer at a camp and fall in love. And then they go their separate ways unsure if they will ever see each other again. Except suddenly they’re going to the same school but everything is different than it was this summer. Why? Because Will hasn’t told any one that he is a gay in his hometown; and he’s not willing to risk his popular status to do it. So basically if you’re following the Grease plot – Ollie is Sandy and Will is Danny – and yes, there is a version of Pink Ladies and Greasers too.

How Did I Like Only Mostly Devastated?

Only Mostly Devastated packs a punch. It is a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. It made me laugh in some spots and broke my heart in others. As I got to know all of the characters, I fell hard for them, and wanted to know what would happen to each other them. And I could see the inspiration for the Grease like characters which they were portraying. There is also a strong family component in this story as well which I loved. Sophia Gonzales really did find the perfect balance of both happy and emotional moments for this story.

How’s The Narration?

The audiobook of Only Mostly Devastated is narrated by Mark Sanderlin. It is 7 hours and 48 minutes long. I found the narration to be enjoyable and it kept me engaged with the story. I felt that the narrator gave a real voice to all of the characters. And his voice held the perfect pitch of emotion during the more emotional parts as well.

Rating: 4 Stars

Audiobook review layout borrowed from April @ Good Books and Good Wine.

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.
Today’s topic is Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had.

And here we go…

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This was a really fun topic. It was fun to imagine myself in these character’s shoes doing their respective jobs. And of course, I had to revisit one of my childhood favorites with The Babysitters Club! That series always made me wanted to be a good paid babysitter.

What are some of the jobs that you wished you had?
Make sure you leave me a link to you list so I can check it out!

February 2021 Recap | March 2021 TBR

Is anyone else having a hard time believing that February has already come and gone? And not only that but we’re back in MARCH again? I’m still recovering from March 2020 if you know what I mean! Overall, February was a pretty good month for me as a reader and television viewer. And I’m continue to move forward in my personal life as well which is always a good thing.

Let’s review…

Personal Review:
~> I’ve been going to twice weekly physical therapy to strengthen my back. I have an old back injury that occurred the summer before my freshman year in high school. At the time I had to have surgery for it but all has been well since then. Having a bit more time on my hands these days, I decided to be proactive and get things checked out that have been bothering me and the doctor recommended some physical therapy to try and strengthen things. I’m doing well with PT but it is also taking alot out of me as well. They also have me using a traction machine to try and stretch my back – it’s kind of weird but, I get to read while doing it so I can’t really complain!
~>I had to take my cat Belle to the vet for a UTI. Thankfully, she’s doing better now and is much more social and active around the house.
~>I’ve gotten into a routine of cleaning my apartment which has been working really well. Having a system is keeping me motivated and helping me coordinate my days and not let the apartment get to be such a mess.
~>This blog continues to be a fun and relaxing creative outlet for me to focus my energy on. I hope that you are enjoying it as well!

Reading Review:
I read 19 books in February including 8 1/2 out of the 10 on my February TBR
(Where The Crawdads Sing and Enjoy The View are still in progress)
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem The Worst Best Man You Are A Badass The Tourist Attraction Mistletoe & Mr. Right That Baby Cinderella is Dead Written in the Stars The Black Flamingo The Color of Law We Are Not Free Only Mostly Devastated With The Fire On High Concrete Rose Stay Gold Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop On The Come Up Open Book A History of the World in 12 Maps

Television Review:
I am currently halfway through Season 7 of my Will and Grace re-watch. I have also been watching nightly Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and new episodes of Name That Tune, Supermarket Sweep, and the Weakest Link. I also started to watch Nailed It on Netflix (currently on season 2) and have been watching old episodes of The Price is Right (Barker era) and American Gladiators with Shane.

March TBR: The Two Lives Of Lydia Bird I’ll Give You The Sun Loathe At First Sight The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett Fear of Missing Out Siri, Who Am I? Gold Dust Woman The Four Winds It’s Kind Of A Cheesy Love Story Titanic: Iceberg Ahead Love Lettering Furia Love in Lockdown Every Body Looking Clap When You Land

Yes, I might be being a little ambitious for my March TBR but, why not? I’m feeling good about it. I’ve also rediscovered audio-books recently so I’ll probably be adding a few of those to my list as well. We’ll just have to see what happens.

I look forward to seeing what March holds for all of us. Bring it on!

Chasing the Four Winds

Reading, Writing, Nerding, and Honoring the Oxford Comma Since 1987.

A. A. MacConnell

When you write drabbles, you relieve the pressure of the epic novel expanding in your head.

The Calico Books

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