Books that Came My Way in April 2020

This is my monthly roundup of books that were added to my shelves in the last month. I also share an update with you on other things going on in my life.

I’m still in shock over the effects of the coronovirus on our daily lives. We have gotten into some sort of a routine here at home with the boys doing online college and Reagan doing some online activities for school. I’m getting used to doing a LOT of cooking and actually quite a bit of reading. Our area in Iowa is still under restrictions and we aren’t able to go out except for essentials until at least May 15. Even though we live in a rural country, we live in the middle of counties with quite a few cases and outbreaks so we are forced to abide by their rules as well. I’m still praying my parents will continue to stay healthy. I haven’t seen them since March 11 and I miss them and am really sad that I won’t get to see Mom for Mother’s Day!

Patrick’s been going to our church and performing music while we stay home and watch the service online. Easter morning I was still able to gather up some items for their Easter baskets. You are never too old for an Easter basket from your parents!

Patrick turned 20 this month. We celebrated with our favorite Italian restaurant carryout and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. We wouldn’t have even been able to see him for his birthday otherwise, so the quarantine allowed up to celebrate together. #FindtheGood

Photo by AJT Photography

Our dear friend took our “front porch photo” as well as others in our town. We will remember this time at home together forever.

My walking was better in April, but we had some cold days and even snow. Since our treadmill broke, I’m limited to outside only walking. But I did walk 16 days this month which is much better than the last two months!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.

If you have missed any of my recent book reviews, you can see all of them by clicking, HERE.  Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.

If you choose to make a purchase through any of the links I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.

Most publishers are only sending eBooks right now. I got a few physical copies before the virus hit, but I have mostly eBooks to share with you this month.

ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW

By: Kristan Higgins

Published: June 9, 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Fiction

Format: eBook

Kristan Higgins has been on my author radar for a long time, but I’ve never had a chance to read any of her books. I tend to be drawn to family secret stories and this one sounds like a good one.

The Frosts are a typical American family. Barb and John, married almost fifty years, are testy and bored with each other…who could blame them after all this time? At least they have their daughters– Barb’s favorite, the perfect, brilliant Juliet; and John’s darling, the free-spirited Sadie. The girls themselves couldn’t be more different, but at least they got along, more or less. It was fine. It was enough.

Until the day John had a stroke, and their house of cards came tumbling down.

Now Sadie has to put her career as a teacher and struggling artist in New York on hold to come back and care for her beloved dad–and face the love of her life, whose heart she broke, and who broke hers. Now Juliet has to wonder if people will notice that despite her perfect career as a successful architect, her perfect marriage to a charming Brit, and her two perfect daughters, she’s spending an increasing amount of time in the closet having panic attacks.

And now Barb and John will finally have to face what’s being going on in their marriage all along.

UNIVERSE OF TWO

By: Stephen P. Kiernan

Published: August 4, 2020

Publisher: William Morrow

Historical Fiction

Format: eBook

Another historical fiction based on real people and events, which I love. It reminds me a bit of ONE MAN or BENEATH A SCARLET SKY which I loved.

Graduating from Harvard at the height of World War II, brilliant mathematician Charlie Fish is assigned to the Manhattan Project. Working with some of the age’s greatest scientific minds, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, and Leo Szilard, Charlie is assigned the task of designing and building the detonator of the atomic bomb.

As he performs that work Charlie suffers a crisis of conscience, which his wife, Brenda—unaware of the true nature of Charlie’s top-secret task—mistakes as self-doubt. She urges him to set aside his qualms and continue. Once the bombs strike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the feelings of culpability devastate him and Brenda.

At the war’s end, Charlie receives a scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in physics at Stanford—an opportunity he and Brenda hope will allow them a fresh start. But the past proves inescapable. All any of his new colleagues can talk about is the bomb, and what greater atomic weapons might be on the horizon. Haunted by guilt, Charlie and Brenda leave Stanford and decide to dedicate the rest of their lives to making amends for the evil he helped to birth into the world.

Based on the life of the actual mathematician Charles B. Fisk, Universe of Two combines riveting historical drama with a poignant love story. Stephen Kiernan has conjured a remarkable account of two people struggling to heal their consciences and find peace in a world forever changed.

BEACH READ

By: Emily Henry

Published: May 19, 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Fiction

Format: eBook

Um…I think this sounds like a perfect summer “beach read”.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

BLAME THE DEAD

By: Ed Ruggero

Published: March 3, 2020

Publisher: Forge Books

Historical Fiction

Format: eBook

A different take on a WWII story than I typically read. I also love that it is set in Sicily as my childhood best friend was born there.

The nurses of the US Army’s Field Hospitals, mobile units that operate just behind the battle lines, contend with heat, dirt, short-handed staffs, the threat of German counterattack and an ever-present flood of horribly wounded GIs. At the 11th Field Hospital near Palermo, Sicily in the bloody summer of 1943, nurses also live with the threat of violent assault by one of their own–at least until someone shoots Dr. Myers Stephenson in the head.

Enter Eddie Harkins, a tough former Philadelphia beat cop turned Military Police lieutenant, who is first on the scene. Although he has never been a detective, Harkins soon finds himself the lone investigator, either because the Military Police are understaffed or because someone in power thinks this rank amateur will never get close to the real killer. When the hospital commander tries to derail Harkins’ investigation by transferring or harassing key witnesses, it becomes clear to Harkins that the unit is rotten to its core, that the nurses are not safe, and that patients who have survived Nazi bullets are still at risk after they arrive at this place that is supposed to save them.

Harkins fights–and worries that he is losing–multiple battles. He is driven to give hope to nurses who just want to do their life-saving work, to right at least a few of the wrongs around him, and to do penance for sins in his own past. The one bright note for Harkins is a rekindled relationship with Kathleen Donnelly, a nurse from Harkins’ old neighborhood; but even that is complicated when Donnelly becomes a victim. 

THE FACT OF THE MATTER

By: Madeleine L’Engle

Published: April 21, 2020

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Historical Fiction/Novella

Format: eBook

I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read anything by Madeleine L’Engle. This FREE short story is a good place to start! Get your own copy, HERE. It’s an excerpt from her new book THE MOMENT OF TENDERNESS.

It was a frigid winter day when Old Mrs. Campbell stormed into the Franklins’ general store, decrying the devilish nature of her daughter-in-law-a sentiment that deeply disturbed Mrs. Franklin, considering the woman in question, Alicia, was oft described as “saintly” by everyone around her.

When she leaves the store in a huff, Mrs. Franklin thinks she’s done with Mrs. Campbell’s ravings for the day-until the woman calls her late in the night, urgently demanding to see her.

Blending elements of fantasy and horror, what transpires between the two women over the course of the evening will test the boundaries of reason, faith, and family-and prove that, in times of great danger, even strangers can come together to help one another in need.

THE PARIS HOURS

By: Alex George

Published: May 5, 2020

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Historical Fiction

Format: Hardcover

This was a Book of the Month choice. I loved the cover and since I don’t usually read in the time frame between the wars, I was interested in this choice. Plus, I had to take a second look because my cousin is married to an Alex George, just not this one. 🙂

Paris between the wars teems with artists, writers, and musicians, a glittering crucible of genius. But amidst the dazzling creativity of the city’s most famous citizens, four regular people are each searching for something they’ve lost.

Camille was the maid of Marcel Proust, and she has a secret: when she was asked to burn her employer’s notebooks, she saved one for herself. Now she is desperate to find it before her betrayal is revealed. Souren, an Armenian refugee, performs puppet shows for children that are nothing like the fairy tales they expect. Lovesick artist Guillaume is down on his luck and running from a debt he cannot repay—but when Gertrude Stein walks into his studio, he wonders if this is the day everything could change. And Jean-Paul is a journalist who tells other people’s stories because his own is too painful to tell. When the quartet’s paths finally cross in an unforgettable climax, each discovers if they will find what they are looking for.

Told over the course of a single day in 1927, The Paris Hours takes four ordinary people whose stories, told together, are as extraordinary as the glorious city they inhabit. 

BEGINNERS GUIDE TO CANNING

90 Easy Recipes to Can, Savor, and Gift

By: Diane Devereaux

Published: May 5, 2020

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Non-Fiction/Cookbook

Format: Paperback

I grew up watching my mom can vegetables and fruit every summer and fall. But, I didn’t carry any of that to my adulthood and really know very little about canning, but I’d like to learn.

The can-do guide to water bath and pressure canning for beginners

For many people, canning conjures memories of cozy kitchens filled with fresh flavors. Whether you’re picking up this time-honored tradition again or just starting out, The Beginner’s Guide to Canning teaches you everything you need to know about water bath and pressure canning, with plenty of recipes for jams, pickles, vegetables, soups, and more.

This beginner’s guide starts your canning journey with an easy primer laying out all the essential information about pressure and water bath canning. In the first chapter, you’ll find several easy, sure-fire hits, like Low-Sugar Berry Jam and Dilly Beans, including step-by-step illustrations. From there, try your new skills with any of the 90 comforting classics and new twists that are sure to tickle your taste buds.

HOW NOT TO DIE

Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

By: Michael Greger, MD FACLM and Gene Stone

Published: December 8, 2015

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Non-Fiction

Format: eBook

This one has been on my personal to-read list. It is part of a limited-time Kindle Deal including MANY other popular and new release titles through MAY 3! Check them out HERE.

From the physician behind the wildly popular website NutritionFacts.org, How Not to Die reveals the groundbreaking scientific evidence behind the only diet that can prevent and reverse many of the causes of disease-related death.

The vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented through simple changes in diet and lifestyle. In How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger, the internationally-renowned nutrition expert, physician, and founder of NutritionFacts.org, examines the fifteen top causes of premature death in America — heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and more — and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches, freeing us to live healthier lives.

The simple truth is that most doctors are good at treating acute illnesses but bad at preventing chronic disease. The fifteen leading causes of death claim the lives of 1.6 million Americans annually. This doesn’t have to be the case. By following Dr. Greger’s advice, all of it backed up by strong scientific evidence, you will learn which foods to eat and which lifestyle changes to make to live longer.

COOL MATH

50 Fantastic Facts for Kids of All Ages

By: Tracie Young and Katie Hewett

Published: March 3, 2020

Publisher: Pavilion Children’s

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover

A great way to keep your teens learning during this time at home. Math has been hard for our daughter to do at home, so I’m hoping this will be a fun book for her to work through.

Inside this mega-jam-packed book are fifty fact-tastic ways to advance your math skills so you’ll never be outnumbered by numbers again!

From core curriculum techniques such as multiplying multiples to calculating calculus and probability and division, right through to working out tricky statistics, formulas, and equations in or outside of the classroom, Cool Math will help you work your way out of everyday situations in a way that you’ll never forget.

This lively, engaging book is illustrated throughout to help bring math to life, and topics include how to tip, how to work out the distance of a storm, Fibonacci sequences, cracking codes, and many more! From simple multiplication to complex calculus, math has never been easier. With the Cool Math approach, it’s fun to learn and easy to remember, but difficult to forget!

BUILD A CASTLE

64 Slot-Together Cards for Creative Fun

By: Paul Farrell

Published: April 7, 2020

Publisher: Pavilion Children’s

Card Set/Activity Book

What a great activity for this time at home. This is an excellent educational activity for preschool and kindergarten aged kids.

Turrets, ramparts, windows, walls, and more–create your own medieval masterpiece with the first in a new series of graphic-designed building cards.

This pack contains sixty-four cards (4 x 2¾ inches) of a variety of graphic designs. Clever paper engineering allows you to slot the cards together, building up and out in whichever way you like! Also included is a short ten-page booklet, with descriptions of the card designs and suggestions of stacking methods. The instructions tell you how to build a castle, or you can let your imagination run riot and design your own!

Renowned illustrator Paul Farrell has designed these cards in a cool, graphic style–turning the image of a castle into a work of art.

IT IS (NOT) PERFECT

By: Anna Kang

Illustrated by: Christopher Weyant

Published: May 12, 2020

Publisher: Two Lions

Fiction

Format: eBook

This is the 5th in the You are (Not) Small series. I reviewed the 4th one, WE ARE (NOT) FRIENDS as well as Kang’s book, ERASER, which were excellent.

Two fuzzy creatures are happily putting the finishing touches on their sandcastle when each of them thinks of something that would make it even better. As they work furiously to incorporate each new change, their tiny sandcastle becomes an over-the-top palace…but is it really perfect?

This latest book in the beloved series featuring the pals from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small reminds us that perfection is in the eye—and heart—of the beholder.

BEAR AND FRED

A World War II Story

By: Iris Argaman

Illustrated by: Avi Ofer

Translated by: Annette Appel

Published: May 1, 2010

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: eBook

We are at the 75th Anniversary of Dachau or the ending of the war in Europe. This is an excellent opportunity to teach your children about this important time in our history.

Based on true events and beautifully illustrated, this is the story of a friendship that will last forever—told by Fred’s best friend, his beloved teddy bear.

During World War II, Fred must leave his home and live in hiding, apart from the rest of his family, but he always keeps Bear by his side. Bear knows it’s his job to take care of Fred and make sure he doesn’t feel alone.

After the war, Fred and his family are reunited and leave Holland for the United States. And still Bear is with him. When Fred grows up, he and Bear part for the first time when Bear is sent to Yad Vashem—the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, where this book was first published—to show the power of hope, friendship, and love.

Which one of these books will you be adding to your list?

To see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves, click HERE.

So many books, so little time!

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