The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.


This is an incredibly beautiful book, desperately sad, but beautiful. It's remarkable how choices can send a ripple affect, not only through our own lives, but the lives of those around us. With it's ever changing point of view, this novel leaves the reader feeling sympathy for each character in turn, only to find themselves questioning those same feelings when presented with another side of the story. This multifaceted story is woven together wonderfully. It is a powerful book about forgiveness, justice, and loss. I loved every minute of it.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

The first ten lies they tell you in high school.

"Speak up for yourself--we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her.

As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. 

In Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.


I thought this book was nicely written and I liked Melinda, the main character. The thing I liked most about her was her sarcastic humor. I found myself chuckling at the things she said or thought throughout the novel, which is not something I expected considering the novel's heavy content. Ultimately, I think this story is about healing and reclaiming your voice. 

It was a fast read and the story sustained my attention throughout. It does deal with some sensitive issues but is not graphic in any way, and is appropriately written for the young adult age group. I think the book's message - the importance of speaking up/the consequences of silence - came across nicely through Melinda's story and is an important message for young adults. Overall, a worthwhile read.  

2015 Reading Challenge: A book based entirely on its cover


13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff

13 Hours presents, for the first time ever, the true account of the events of September 11, 2012, when terrorists attacked the US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya.

A team of six American security operators fought to repel the attackers and protect the Americans stationed there. Those men went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale. 

This is their personal account, never before told, of what happened during the thirteen hours of that now-infamous attack.


"It [13 Hours] is not about what officials in the Unites States government knew, said, or did after the attack, or about the ongoing controversy over talking points, electoral politics, and alleged conspiracies and cover-ups. It is not about what happened in hearing rooms of the Capitol, anterooms of the White House, meeting rooms of the State Department, or green rooms of TV talk shows. It is about what happened on the ground, in the streets, and on the rooftops of Benghazi, when bullets flew, building burned, and mortars rained. When lives were saved, lost, and forever changed."
I think that thing that I most appreciate about this book is what it's not. It is not just another political diatribe about the events surrounding the 2012 Benghazi attack. While it is certainly not entirely free of bias and does have an agenda, it is clear from the beginning what that agenda is and the narrative doesn't deviate from it. In other words, this book doesn't say it's one thing when it's really something else.

My purpose in reading the book was to get a better understanding of the events that occurred over the thirteen hours when terrorists attack US safe holds in Benghazi. Now I realize that as a civilian, there are parts of this story that I will never know. I am a firm believer in government transparency, but I am also aware that there is a delicate balance between transparency and national security. In the days, weeks, months, and years since the 2012 Benghazi attacks much has been said on both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C., but what appealed to me about this book was that it was written in conjunction with the brave men who were on the ground and lived these events.

Overall, I found the book to be well written. It's narrative style made the text accessible and easy to follow. The downside to this is that it is easy to forget that this isn't some work of fiction. Yes, the narrative was as exciting, intense, and dramatic as an action movie, but I had to stop a few times and remind myself that this was not just another series of plot events and characters, but real-life events that actually happened and people who exist. This seems to be an ongoing challenge between civilians and the military. We are so bombarded with images of war in movies, video games, TV shows, and in news media that we forget that there are real people behind those images. Technology has further widened the gap between soldier and civilian, making it possible for the average American to go through their entire day without once pausing to think about the men and women who serve in the military and make our way of life possible.

For me, the brave men of the Annex security team, their fellow operatives, and our government officials serving in Benghazi are the heart of this story. It takes a special type of person to not only see danger and not run from it, but willingly chose to put yourself in harm's way to save the lives of others. My respect and awe for these men and women are deepened each time I read or hear about events like Benghazi, or meet a veteran in person. It saddens me to know that their life of service and sacrifice does not get the respect it deserves. It's so hard to understand how people can continue to use religion to justify violent actions and a lust for power. While this narrative did make some things clearer, it in no way even attempts to answer some of the bigger questions posed by the conflicts in the Middle East.

In the end, what remained with me the most were the stories of the security team operatives. I am in awe of them and their fellow service men and women and feel nothing but profound pride and gratitude for their service. I pray every night that God would bless and keep them and their families wherever they are.

2016 Reading Challenge: A New York Times bestseller


Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5) by Marissa Meyer

Stars Above is a collection of nine stories, four of which were previously published and can be read for free on the Wattpad app, that are connected to the stories in Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles series or take place in the same world.

Previously published stories include:

"Glitches": In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….

"The Queen’s Army": In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.

"Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky": Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.

"The Little Android": A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.

New stories include:

"The Keeper": A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.

"After Sunshine Passes By": In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.

"The Princess and the Guard": In this prequel to Winter, we see a young Winter and Jacin playing a game called the Princess and the Guard…

"The Mechanic": In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.

"Something Old, Something New": In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century…


I enjoyed all the stories in this collection, but my favorites were "The Mechanic" and "Something Old, Something New." I always love when authors retell scenes from books from different perspectives and getting to read about Kai's first impression of Cinder was fun. "Something Old, Something New" provided me with much needed closure I needed after finishing Winter. Plus, what girl doesn't love a good wedding? It made me smile and gave me that wonderful uplifting feeling that all happy endings leave you with.

Even though several of the stories have been previously published, more than half the book is full of new stories, which makes this a worthwhile read if you are a fan of The Lunar Chronicles. I'm a little sad to have reached the end of this series, but have discovered a new favorite author in Meyer. I'm looking forward to future releases from her. 


Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?


In this final installment of The Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer delivers one of the best finales to a YA series that I have read recently. She somehow manages to balance four robust story lines and weave them together in a way that creates a seamless narrative, all while uniquely infusing elements of some of the most beloved fairy tales. It had everything needed for a great read - action, excitement, a few surprises, and a dash of romance. I was satisfied with the endings for all the title characters, with the exception of Cinder. I felt like her and Kai's story was left a little unfinished. I read that there is a short story in Stars Above that serves as an epilogue to Winter, and I'm hoping that it will give me sense of completeness I currently lack. Overall, a very satisfying read.


Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.


Usually when I read books like, Fairest, I come away with a more sympathetic opinion towards the villain, but I don't know if I can say this is the case with Levana. There were moments when I felt sympathy and could almost understand why she did what she did, but then she would ruin the newly formed sentiment by doing something completely selfish and hypocritical that I found myself back at square one, thinking that she is just an awful queen to needs to be deposed. Her perceptions and understanding of the world were so off that it didn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to understand why she acted the way she did and made the decisions she made. Did Levana's story make me feel sorry for her? Yes, I had fleeting moments of sympathy, but in the end, this novel did little to change my opinion of her. I'm still #TeamCinder!


Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Even in the future, there are damsels in distress...

In the third installment of the Lunar chronicles, Cress, having risked everything to warn Cinder of Queen Levana's evil plan, has a slight problem. She's been imprisoned on a satellite since childhood and has only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress a great hacker. Unfortunately, she's just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress involving Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes as a high price. Meanwhile, Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.


Marissa Meyer continues to deliver stellar novel after novel. I continue to be impressed by how she weaves together so many story lines and characters, and yet manages to keep them all balanced and well developed. Cress is an interesting twist on the story of Rapunzel. I love that she’s a sheltered computer nerd. I loved that Carswell had a more starring role in this novel and think that he and Cress are adorable together. The story is a page turner and Marissa did a nice job of wrapping up some loose ends, while simultaneously setting the stage for what I anticipate to be an epic finale.

2016 Reading Challenge: A science-fiction novel


Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.


I really loved this novel. I enjoyed Cinder, but having the two parallel stories added another element that made it easy to fly through the pages. I loved how Marissa took the story of Little Red Riding Hood and put a unique twist on it. Scarlet is a fantastic character. I love her sass and independence. Wolf is intense, dangerous, and wild, which of course made for an exciting time as he and Scarlet got closer. It made me swoon a little to see how Wolf was tamed and softened by Scarlet, but never lost his edge. Carswell Thorne was great comic relief and his interactions with Cinder were fun to read. Marissa weaved the two story lines together beautifully and I love the motley crew of characters that is coming together. Scarlet is even better than Cinder and I’m excited to see what happens next. On to book three!

2016 Reading Challenge: A book based on a fairy tale


Bossypants by Tina Fey

In her acceptance speech for Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Tina Fey announced that she was proud to make her home in "the 'not-real America'". It is perhaps that healthy sense of incongruity that makes the head writer, executive producer, and star of NBC's Emmy Award-winning 30 Rock such a cogent observer of the contemporary scene.

Bossypants, her entertaining new memoir, shows that strangeness has been her constant companion. Fey's stories about her childhood in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania are only appetizers for LOL forays into her college disasters, honeymoon catastrophes, and Saturday Night Live shenanigans. Most funny read of the month; the best possible weekend update.


I find Tina Fey to be very funny and I thought Bossypants was an enjoyable read/listen. Not every author makes a good narrator for their book, but I thought Tina’s narration was well done. It made it feel like we were out for a drink at a bar and she was telling me the story. It was interesting to hear about some of the challenges Tina faced as a woman in a male dominated profession, and I was even able to relate to some of her experiences. Tina covers a wide range of topics in this memoir, from dealing with heartbreak, to learning how to be a producer, to motherhood. I thought the memoir was funny, insightful, and engaging.

2016 Reading Challenge: A book written by a comedian


Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.


I have always loved fairy tales. Growing up in a Disney home, most of the movies and books I loved as a kid were fairy tales. As I grew up, I moved on to the original, and much less magical, versions of my favorite tales and fairy tale reimaginings. Even as an adult, I still enjoy fairy tale related mediums, such as the popular TV show, Once Upon a Time.

Cinderella has always been my favorite princess story and I have read/watched about every version I have come a cross. So naturally, when this Sci-Fi version came to my attention, I snatched it up at the Book Fair. Unfortunately, it’s been sitting on my self, not because I wasn’t excited to jump right in, but because like any other true book nerd, my to-read list is ever expanding and I just don’t have enough hours in the day (especially since I still have to work for a living...boo!).

While the essentials of the Cinderella story are there - mean stepmother, stepsisters, a prince, a ball - Cinder definitely puts a twist on the whole thing. Cinder is a mechanic and cyborg (she loses her foot instead of a shoe at the ball), whose companion is not friendly mice, but a friendly android named, Iko. There are also plenty of Sci-Fi elements injected into the story, which add another fun element. I liked Cinder as a character. She’s independent and little feisty, but still kind hearted. I also liked that the prince, Prince Kai, has his own story line and isn’t regulated to the sidelines like in other versions of Cinderella

This is probably the most action packed version of Cinderella that I have ever read and there are some fun twists in the plot that I am excited to see how they play out in the sequels. Overall, this was a very enjoyable read. 

2015 Reading Challenge: A popular author's first book


Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.


The word I would use to describe this book is TOO (I know, it’s not an adjective...stay with me…).

This book:
  • Was TOO verbose, almost to the point of distraction.
  • Tried TOO hard to be something it’s not. The narrative attempted to imitate a classic novel, with its flowery descriptions and unique cadence, but it fell short.
  • Tried TOO hard to be shocking. 
  • Had TOO many metaphors and similes. Almost every sentence had a metaphor or simile attached to it. It was serious overkill.
  • Had characters who were TOO much. The characters were ridiculous, selfish, egotistical, and not very endearing.
I thought the second part of of the book, Furies, which focused on Mathilde’s side of the story, was much better than the first part, which focused on Lotto. I thought that Mathilde’s character was much more developed and more dynamic than Lotto’s character, but I still didn’t find her to be a very likable character. Lotto was charming, but his character development felt shallow and superficial. Not one of my favorites.