REVIEW: Where the Lost Wander

“… his thoughts, when he shares them, are like little shoots of green grass on a dry prairie. The flowers on the prickly pears that grow among the rocks.”

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I adore stories of the American Prairie and pioneer times. There is such beauty in the untamed land, passion in indigenous stories and strength in the desire of the pioneers for a better life. Where the Lost Wander provides all of that and more. The May family is complex and entertaining. While they are trying for a better life, they find themselves stuck between tradition and desire.


I, myself, got lost in the descriptions of the land and life within the wagon train. The idea of giving it all up and starting over to remake your life has always been romantic to me. The story is slow and descriptive as it builds toward conflict with the environment, amongst the settlers and with the native people. We see the brutality of life, of conflict between two peoples who don’t understand one another but we also see resilience and strength of spirit, healing and forgiveness, the bonds of love and kinship.
John plays an important role as a man caught between two peoples, he shows the white men that an indigenous person is a human like any other, to be judged by their character and not the color of their skin. Naomi does as well, she first opens her heart to John regardless of his background and throughout shows compassion and understanding to the natives even though they have done her great injustices. There is a lot to be said for seeing both sides and seeing how misunderstandings can lead to violence but that is not what truly is in each side’s hearts.


I loved the author’s note at the end and the fact that she was reimagining her own family history, that made the book even more meaningful to me.


Thanks to Netgalley for an opportunity to read an ARC of this novel. All opinions above are my own.


Do you know any interesting stories from previous centuries of your own family history?

~ Dana

Review: Concrete Rose

“Tough situations don’t last. Tough people do.”

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Concrete Rose is exactly what you want from a prequel and that is hard to achieve with a book as stunning as The Hate U Give. In Concrete Rose we get the story of Starr’s father, who was a strong figure in her life and the story of The Hate U Give. We see how Maverick works to break the cycle of gang life that he was born into. 

His father is in prison and when the story begins he is slinging drugs and starting out at the base of the King Lord gang. He has a long term girlfriend he adores but he had a slip up and finds out that he’s gotten another girl pregnant. When the mother thrusts the baby upon him, he is forced to leave behind the irresponsibility of boyhood and determine what type of man he wants to be. 

At times you will be very frustrated with Maverick and his decisions but rest assured he begins to mature and become wise beyond his years as his circumstances change. In the end you will understand just how he became the strong ethical father who guided Starr through her own journey in The Hate U Give. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to Epic Reads for providing me an ARC of this novel. All opinions above are my own.

What are you planning to read this weekend?

~ Dana

REVIEW: Black Sun

“A man with a destiny is a man who fears nothing.”

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Black Sun is everything you want from epic high fantasy. The writing reminded me of GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire series where you get alternating chapters of seemingly unrelated characters and in this case multiple timelines. This was expertly done. Like with the Game of Thrones series, I was frustrated when each chapter ended because I wanted more. That helped me to fly through the chapters to see where each character went and how these stories would all come together.

Serapio, Xiala and Naranpa are all equally complex and compelling characters. I loved unveiling their back stories as well as the arcs their characters took as their circumstances changed. The story tackled real moral conundrums, the corruption of power, the inequity of race and socioeconomic status and the power of love and loyalty. The magic and mythology was beautiful and engrossing.

The worst part about this book is that it wasn’t 500 pages longer! After that ending I am dying for the next book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


This is my favorite read of the year so far, what’s yours?

~ Dana

REVIEW: Every Last Fear

Wow, poor Matt, this kid has been through some stuff! First, his older brother is convicted of murder and then featured on a highly rated documentary that seems to point to shoddy police work and a coerced confession. Then the rest of his family is murdered on a trip to Mexico. We find out the only one in his family that wasn’t obsessed of trying to overturn his brothers conviction and that just may be the reason he is still alive. His entire involvement in all the investigations is peripheral but we see the turmoil it creates in his life.

I would call this one more of a mystery than a thriller. But I really liked it that it didn’t go with the trope of throwing 50 red herrings at you on the guise of being “twisty.” Instead it had a metered approach to revealing little clues along the way. The action of the characters took were entirely plausible and there were not any overly reckless people or amazing superhero geniuses that are so common today in these stories.


I did figure out who did it and some semblance of what lead to the falling of the dominoes but I think that’s because there were good clues along the way. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫


Thanks to Netgalley for access to this novel. All opinions above on my own.


What’s your biggest fear?

~ Dana

REVIEW: Cathedral of Bones

“I am the darkness between worlds, and between elementary particles, and inside your own mind. I am the emptiness before birth and after death, the ancient indifference of the stars, and of what lies beyond the stars -“

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Simon Frost is a teen who has lived a life steeped in sadness and mediocrity. He has failed his magical apprenticeship and is toiling away in the mailroom when he receives an unusual letter. A small village is requesting The Foundation’s help to protect them from a monster and his superiors tell him to ignore it. In his heart, he just can’t ignore this plea for help. He knows he’s not got enough power to fight the monster himself but he hopes that he can at least validate the claim and get these people help. What he finds in the small town challenges him in every way possible and our little anti-hero rises to the occasion learning about the truth of the world; the magic he so desperately wants as well as unraveling the truth of his own history and just who he is and who he is meant to be.

Despite his inability to do any magic of note, Simon has this deep, compassionate heart. That shines through in every page. He slowly gains courage and faces some really hard truths in his pursuit of this monster. There are beautiful lessons of courage, loyalty and acceptance in this story.

Simon has a Harry Potter-like quality; a meek, young boy who has to decide whether he wants to stand up and do the right thing even if it means putting himself at risk. The world building is as complex and yet readable as Harry Potter so even though it is aimed at middle grade it is perfect for fantasy fans of every age.

Thanks to Harper Collins for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.

Do you like a story with a scrappy little nobody who finds inner strength and changes the world?

~ Dana

REVIEW: Infinite Country

“It seemed to Mauro that in choosing to emigrate, we are the ones trafficking ourselves.”

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When I saw that Patricia Engle had a new book coming out, I knew I had to scoop it up right away. I really loved her last book The Veins of the Ocean because it was raw and intense.

Infinite Country is similar, it tells the story of a family between Colombia and the United States. The stories which is perspectives back-and-forth between two generations, telling the impact of life choices on a pair of parents and their three children.
A young couple with their daughter travels to the US on a 6 month authorization to escape the violence and poverty of their lives in Colombia. They live in poverty in the US sending money home and their intention to return begins to change. The worst situation in America still seems better than the alternative. They go on to have two more children before the husband is caught and deported. Since their youngest is an American citizen, the choice is made for her to go back to Colombia. We see the impact of these choices and being a family stuck apart in two different worlds.

The narrative illustrates the way immigrants are taken advantage of financially, physically and ethically. I was amazed at the countless ways Elena and her children suffered at the hands of white Americans. This includes horrible questions and comments that are made when those who claim to be helping make when they have no idea the truth.

It’s a story that’s equally complicated, devastating, hopeful and altogether plausible. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What’s the best immigration story you’ve ever read? Help me add to my TBR!

~ Dana

REVIEW: The Dating Plan

Ok, everyone knows that rom-coms are not my thing but occasionally I like them as palate cleansers. And I’ve planned a few leading up to Valentine’s Day. Sometimes they really surprise me. And boy, did I enjoy this one!

Daisy was such a great main character. My biggest dislike in romcoms is when the girl is a mess and the guy’s life is completely together and he comes along and “saves” her from herself. This story was not that. Daisy was smart and capable and she knew it. In every aspect of her life she was waiting for the right opportunities and she knew when to grab them and hold on with them. She was balancing a career she loved with a vibrant family life and found a way to make real time to support a friend and eventually a relationship. We need more women in these stories that are bounding with confidence and learning when it’s ok to have it all and just shine. Liam constantly referenced how he loved her brain and how clever she was. I loved as she began to embrace that more. I loved that she was a Marvel nerd AND a sports fan, yes we do exist! Her tight knit family dripping with Indian tradition and culture was so fun to immerse in.

Liam was your typical aloof, damaged bad boy who turned out to be quite complex with real emotional depth. He was the epitome of unwavering loyalty. Neither of these characters were caricatures and I found that endlessly refreshing. I also really appreciated that there was real communication between them not just telling one another what the other wanted to hear. Even though there were some past hurts between them, they worked through them in a healthy way. This book highlights a relationship that is one that people can read and enjoy and root for.

I would consider this one to be more on the steamy side than my personal preference so be prepared for that going in. There are a few eye roll cheesy romance moments but I wasn’t drowning in them. There also are frank discussions about domestic violence, alcoholism and divorce which are well done.
Thanks to Netgalley for giving me access to an ARC of this novel. All opinions above are my own. This one releases in March so get your orders in! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Note: there are no discussions of Hinduism in this novel, but these two statues are my favorite items I brought back from my trip to India. I just adore them and everything I’ve experienced of Indian culture.

Would you ever (or have you ever) consider getting back with an ex? Or do you believe an ex is an ex for a reason?

~ Dana

REVIEW: Ex on the Beach

Judging a book by its cover is one of my unfortunate prejudices, and if you judge this book by its cover you’d expect this to be light and fun romcom. But within its pages, you would find something much deeper than that. This is the story of a Hollywood couple who have been long divorced, when they are cast in a movie together they need to confront the truth of their split and their feelings for one another. 

The thing I really love about this pair of authors is they write entirely relatable characters. Within a few pages you can put yourself right into the shoes of both main characters, even though they are quirky celebrities. We see the glamour of their lives but we also see beneath the facade where they have to deal with some serious mental health issues. I appreciated the delicacy with which this was handled.

As a child of divorce, I really valued the way that the two main characters took their children into account with all of their decisions. It’s nice to see a romcom with two characters who have their lives together as individuals and were looking for a healthy way to combine their lives.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book. All opinions above are my own.

Are you reading any books including romantic themes as we get closer to Valentine’s Day? What’s on your list?

~ Dana

Pub Day Review: One Jar of Magic

“Magic can only fix the surface of things. Magic can change what you see, but it can’t change anything deep down.”

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Imagine your father is one of the most famous magic gatherers in the world and he has high hopes for your first magic gathering. All of your life he has spent preparing you for the glory of this day and your chance to carry on his legacy. He’s even given you a nickname, ‘Little Luck.’ But when that day comes, after the magic has disappeared, you have only gathered only one jar.


This is Rose Alice’s fate. Suddenly her life is thrown into turmoil when her father’s lifelong dreams for her are not realized. She begins to see how her father has always treated her mother and brother, like an average person not capable of greatness, she sees this because this is now how he treats her.


This story covers some very serious topics around self-esteem and touches on domestic violence. Not the overwhelming domestic violence you think about when you see families on the news but the more subtle type that can be just as dangerous and much easier to hide. The dedication is beautiful: “To everyone who thought they had to be someone better, stronger, faster, more. To everyone who helped them understand they were enough just as they were.”


I wish this book was on the shelves when I was Rose’s age. It would have helped me understand that my dad’s anger and violent outbursts were not my fault. That his expectations for my behavior did not define my worth. This is a great middle grade read with a powerful message. Don’t assume by its fun cover that it is just about whimsical magic, there is so much more to the narrative. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Thank you to Katherine Tegen books for an advanced copy and allowing me to read and provide my honest opinion.


What would your jar of magic look like? What would it do?

~ Dana

REVIEW: The Paris Library

“… a library without members is a cemetery of books… Books are like people; without contact, they cease to exist.”

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The Paris Library is really about the American Library in Paris and its unique cast of characters. Odile is passionate about reading and working despite her parent’s wishes as the war reaches France. The story follows her and her colleagues as they try to continue normal operations and making sure that books still get to their beloved library members. As the Nazi’s overwhelm France they risk their own lives and safety to get books to folks who can no longer physically come to the library. We see all of the horrors of war, internment camps, rationing, racial injustice and violence. I really enjoyed following Odile through these years and adapting to new circumstances and growing into an adult. There were some surprising and harsh twists that I did not expect.

But dual timelines strikes again for me… sometimes I love it and sometimes I don’t get the need for it. In this story, I did not see any need for the Montana storyline.  Maybe I missed something, but I just didn’t feel like Odile teaching Lily the lesson she learned added much to the story. I really considered giving this three stars because I found myself distracted in those chapters. Buck ended up having a quick blurb of who he was and how she ended up in Montana, I really wanted more of Odile’s story and less of Lily’s. But the ending of the French story bumped it back up to a four for me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to Netgalley for access to an ARC of this novel. All opinions above are my own.

Have you ever been to Paris? What’s your favorite spot there? If you haven’t been is it on your bucket list?

~ Dana