MASSIVE Thrifty Book Haul! | February Book Haul

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I bought 18 books this month, y’all. 18.

There’s a chain of thrift stores in my area that has an amazing book selection, and when my mom suggested we go to a few I couldn’t say no. Then I went to Second & Charles to trade my latest unhauled books in and bought more books that I got rid of browsed around while I waited for them to tell me how much store credit I had. February was the perfect book buying storm.

Here’s what I got:

I’d already read a few of the books I picked up this month, and quite a few of them – like The Mark of Athena, Midnight Jewel, Glass – I bought to start series building since they were soooooo cheap!

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Did you buy any books this month?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Love That You Probably Don’t Know About

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about books we love that don’t have many ratings on Goodreads. Turns out, I read a lot of obscure books. Like, a lot a lot. Here are my favs and a few reasons why I love them! 


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A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

Ratings: 844

If you were here around Christmas time, then you know I ADORE this book. The cover is gorgeous (and it’s full of things that matter in the story, isn’t that such a novelty?), and the book is short and sweet. It’s the perfect pre-Christmas read.

Read my full review!

 

 

 


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The Vintner’s Daughter by Kristen Harnisch

Ratings: 645

When I picked up The Vintner’s Daughter I didn’t have super high hopes. I’m not a wine drinker, I’m not super into French or California culture…. none of that mattered. This book sucked me in and refused to let me go until I finished. By the end of it you would have thought I owned my own vineyard, I was so into the wine making process. The characters were great, and the sequel – The California Wife – was an awesome read too.

 


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A Woman of War by Mandy Robotham

Ratings: 498

If I was writing this list just a few months from now, A Woman of War wouldn’t be on it. There’s absolutely no way that this book would have less than 2,000 likes by then. Although it’s technically alternate history, it’s so hard to remember this book is fiction when you’re reading it. The characters are so real and the ‘alternate history’ bit… let’s just say there’s a really, really good chance it could have happened.

Read my full review!


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Staircase to the Moon by Elizabeth Haran

Ratings: 137

I honestly don’t understand how this book only has 137 ratings! I read this way back in the beginning of 2016 and while I can’t remember the exact plot of this book, I remember falling in love with the setting and the characters. When I went hunting for the cover on Goodreads I saw that Elizabeth Haran has 3 more books out (WWII and WWI related! Hello, is she writing just for me?). I can’t wait to read them!

 


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Far More Terrible for Women 

Ratings: 161

I get why this book doesn’t have very many ratings. It’s a collection of oral histories, so how do you put a star rating on someone’s recollection of life? BUT, even though it’s barely been rated, it’s a fantastic book. This collection takes you through some of the most compelling oral histories of former female slaves, but there are other books that focus on individual states. 

 


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Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North

Ratings: 187 

I will sing (get it?) the praises of this book until I die. It was SO. GOOD. and it’s basically a sin that I’m admitting I read it because – wait for it – this is a Pride and Prejudice retelling and I STILL haven’t read Pride and Prejudice. I know. Honestly, I don’t even care because this book was just that good. 

 

 


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Jenny of the Tetons by Kristiana Gregory

Ratings: 267

I read this in 2013 (!) and I remember closing the book and having that mush-brain feeling you get after you’ve finished a book that rocked your world. Kristiana Gregory is a well known name in children’s historical fiction – she wrote quite a few Dear America books. I’m looking forward to rereading this book soon and seeing if I still feel the same about it.

 

 


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A Heart’s Disguise by Colleen Coble

Ratings: 526

A Heart’s Disguise is one of six novella’s in their own little series, all six of which were rated less than 2,000 times. I think this is the book that surprised me the most because Colleen Coble is such a huge name and these stories were so darn fun! I picked them all up on Book Outlet super cheap and would read an entire book in one sitting. They deserve more love!

 

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favorites | TTT Throwback

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This week’s topic is actually ‘Upcoming Releases I’m on the Fence About’ but I don’t have any! I thought it’d be fun to fill in any topics I don’t want to do by working my way down the original Top Ten Tuesday topics. The very first Top Ten Tuesday topic was childhood favorites, so that’s where we’re starting!


 

 

The Little House on the Prairie Series and Dear America series were my absolute favs, although A Series of Unfortunate Events was a close runner up! I’d like to do a few posts this year revisiting and reviewing my childhood favorites.

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What was your childhood favorite?

Review: When Will This Cruel War Be Over? by Barry Denenberg

When Will This Cruel War Be Over
Title:
 When Will This Cruel War Be Over?
Author:
 Barry Denenberg
Publication Date: November 1, 2003
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating:4 Stars


The peaceful, traditional Southern life that Emma Simpson and her family know is shattered when the Civil War reaches their soil. Soon, Emma’s father and brother are called to battle, but her family is confident the South will quickly win the War between the States.

As the months drag on, though, the harsh realities of war set in. Death and hardship are all around Emma, and food, medicine, firewood, and ink for her to write in her diary become increasingly scarce as troops from the North march deeper into the South. Finally, even her home is commandeered by the Yankees.

Still, with a brave spirit and the knowledge of what is most important, Emma never loses hope that the war will end.


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The Dear America books never fail to impress me! They were my favorite as a child and still are now, as I slowly read (and in most cases, reread) them as an adult.

The story opens the day before Christmas as Emma Simpson’s brother is deposited at her home in a coffin, his death the product of a wound and disease. That singular event sets the tone for the rest of the book as Emma struggles with profound loss after loss, the supposed sanctity of the south, and gradually realizing that life will never be the same. She feels the first stirrings of love, but wrestles with the concept of something pure and happy when so many lives – including her own – are in turmoil. Most of all, she rocks back and forth between melancholy and hope.

The Civil War is such an intricate topic, with so many different facets that Dear America could have featured 20 diaries from 20 girls with different vantage points to the war, but somehow this book surmised most of them. Emma is from the south, but in under two hundred pages we meet Southerners that are abusive and determined to keep slavery alive and others that are fighting for their homeland out of a sense of honor and responsibility. There are Yankees that loot and burn and terrorize, and others that help feed the people who have nothing left. Slaves that steal and rebel, and slaves that maintain the work they were doing before the war. Basically, I think this book was incredibly well balanced given the breadth of the topic. A lot of Dear America books act more like a snapshot and, let’s be real, deal with much less controversial topics. This one nailed it!

4 Stars

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Review: A Woman of War by Mandy Robotham

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Title: A Woman of War
Author:
 Mandy Robotham
Publication Date: December 7, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating:4.5 Stars


Germany, 1944. Taken from the camps to serve the Führer himself, Anke Hoff is assigned as midwife to one of Hitler’s inner circle. If she refuses, her family will die.

Torn between her duty as a caregiver and her hatred for the Nazi regime, Anke is swept into a life unlike anything she’s ever known – and she discovers that many of those at the Berghof are just as trapped as she is. And soon, she’s falling for a man who will make her world more complicated still…

Before long, the couple is faced with an impossible choice – and the consequences could be deadly. Can their forbidden love survive the horrors of war? And, more importantly, will they?


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*MINOR SPOILER AHEAD!*

A Woman of War is part historical fiction, part alternate history centered around a fascinating concept: what if Eva Braun had conceived a child with Hitler? Enter our main female character, Anke, a renowned midwife who was arrested for caring more about the children she was bringing into the world than the Nazi regime. She’s tasked with the impossible – bringing the child of the man who’s caused her and her beloved country so much heartache. 

As I read this book several things stuck out to me. First of all, I ADORE historical fiction and alternate history (although the alternate history I read is usually less nuanced, less delicate), especially when it’s set around WWII. There’s been a huge influx of WWII fiction lately – most of which centers around a strong female character – and while I’m not complaining, it is a bit easy for the stories to blend together in my head. A Woman of War made a mark because it tackled Anke’s life after the concentration camp rather than focusing on the horrors she faced while inside. The reader gets to see her pick up the pieces, strengthen herself, and move on. 

Second of all, the alternate history aspect of this was fantastic. The few alternate histories I’ve managed to read are far less subtle than this one. They involve magical elements or complete changes to regimes, countries, etc. A Woman of War focused on one simple thing. One tiny detail that, for all we know, could have happened! Mandy Robotham found a small ‘what if’ and wove a tale so believable that I found myself sinking into the story and forgetting that Eva Braun, as far as the world knows, never had a baby.

The last major thing that stuck out was the completely unashamed, accurate descriptions of childbirth. Mandy Robotham is a practicing midwife and paragraphs dedicated to bringing life into the world didn’t shy away or sugarcoat the act – think call the midwife, but a bit more graphic. That aspect of the book alone made it fascinating to read and, more importantly, contributed to the feeling that Hitler’s baby had actually come into the world. 

Anke was an intensely likable character and without giving anything away, I found her love interest a perfect match. The chemistry was a little rocky to me at first, but after they’d met a few times I was totally won over by the two of them. The supporting cast was all very well written in my opinion and I was thrilled to see that the SS officers weren’t over the top. It’s easy to turn a Nazi into a caricature, but that didn’t happen here.

I’ll be first in line to read anything else Mandy Robotham writes! 

4.5 Stars

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review

Review: Daughters of the War by Lizzie Page

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Title: Daughters of the War
Author:
 Lizzie Page
Publication Date: November 12, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 Stars


An emotional tale of wartime love and sacrifice, inspired by an incredible true story…

As a teenager in Chicago, May always dreamed of travelling the world. So when she meets handsome George Turner, she jumps at the chance to return to London as his wife. Ten years later, May is wondering if she’s made a terrible mistake.

It’s 1914 and war has been declared in Europe. All around, brave young men are being called up to serve. George, banned from conscription himself, has taken to the bottle, and May suspects he’s seeing other women too. She longs for a way to escape.

The chance comes when May meets veteran nurse Elsie, who persuades May to join the war effort. May knows nothing of nursing – it will be difficult, dangerous work, but her heart is telling her it’s the right thing to do.

But then George does the unthinkable and May’s future is put at risk. Will she have to make the impossible choice between duty to her family and her promise to the soldiers on the front line? And can she live with the consequences if her husband goes through with what he’s threatening to do?


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Daughters of the War is the second of three books by Lizzie Page focusing on female nurses during WWI, all of which can be read separately (although I suspect there were a few Easter eggs included tying in the first book which I missed). The actual subject of this book is what drew me in and made me request a copy. Female war stories are my favorite to read about, and it’s fairly rare to find a WWI story with the market so saturated by WWII at the moment.

Unfortunately, this book and I weren’t as well suited for each other as I had hoped. May, the main character, was a bit too gloomy and morose for me. I’m very appreciative of the fact that the author chose to depict mental illness, especially in a time period where it was still very taboo, but it drug the story down a bit for me. The plot of the story (nursing wounded soldiers, an unhappy marriage, etc.) was grim already, and while it’s understandable that a character faced with a life of grim realities would be depressed, I felt that there was too much doom and gloom. Because I had such a hard time connecting with May, I had a very difficult time engaging in the story and I found myself skimming for the action-y bits.

If you’re a fan of WWI or female war stories, I would encourage you to give this a try in spite of my qualms. It’s been very well received by others. If only May and I had gotten along better!

2.5 Stars

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review

Review: Susanna’s Christmas Wish by Jerry S. Eicher

Susanna's Christmas Wish
Title:
Susanna’s Christmas Wish
Author:
Jerry S. Eicher
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
Genre: Amish Romance, Christmas
Rating: 3.5 Stars


From the pen of bestselling Amish fiction author Jerry Eicher, (more than 350,000 books sold), comes a truly delightful and inspiring Christmas novella. Fans will be delighted by this peek at an Amish Christmas, complete with the romantic wish of Susanna Byler to spend the holidays with the man of her dreams. But who is the man of her dreams? Is it the competent but plain Amish man she married for convenience…or is it her first love-an Englisha man with whom she has recently had an unexpected encounter-and who wants her back in his life? A perfect holiday delight for lovers of Amish fiction…and those who love a heartwarming and tender Christmas tale.


Review_Susanna’s Christmas Wish was a quick, cute, Christmas-y read!

The story centers mainly around Susanna’s internal conflicts as she tries to adjust to a new marriage – including her new husband’s strict views on Christmas – and her first love popping into town at the most inconvenient time possible. As she works through her dismay at missing her family’s Christmas gathering she’s also trying to come to terms with being jilted by the man she thought she loved and, as if that isn’t enough, she’s trying to grow her love for her new husband and prove to him that she’s committed. She’s got a lot on her plate.

I really enjoyed the story line and all of the Amish culture sprinkled throughout the book, but it took me a while to warm up to the characters. Susanna came across as a bit weepy and emotional, while Herman initially seemed a bit cold and distant. The polar opposite personalities were a bit jarring and made some of their first interactions a bit odd, but endearing nonetheless. By the end of the story I’d come to enjoy them both though, so maybe that’s a testament to their character growth! Their love was sweet and so pure, and I think Eicher did a great job of capturing the period of adjustment that every newlywed couple goes through, Amish or not.

I don’t read very much Amish fiction, although I know it’s a popular alternative (and sometimes subgenre) to historical fiction. When I picked this novella up I wasn’t familiar with Jerry S. Eicher, but I’ve since come to learn he’s one of the biggest authors in the genre. I got subtle Janette Oke vibes as I was reading and I absolutely love everything I’ve read from her so far. I definitely want to check out some of his other series – and I really hope there are more stories about Susanna and Herman in store!

3.5 Stars