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Introduction

Hello all!

I am C.M. Mills, an avid book lover looking for the next good book. I usually read fantasy and historical fiction. I’ve started branching out into thrillers. I’m not the biggest fan of purely romantic books. Sure, put it in a book, but it shouldn’t take the place of a good plot. I am willing to give any book a try. I enjoy reading nonfiction, too. Most of the nonfiction books I’ve read are memoirs, but I’d be willing to give other types of nonfiction a try. I’ve slogged through terrible books and will put up with a lot before I give up on a book.

Some things that I love in a book: a map (if needed), a pronunciation guide (if needed), a reason to care about the characters, and suspense to keep me going. Give me a connection to the protagonist. Authors get brownie points if the villain has a relatable motive, or has a unique stance.

Some turn offs include: introducing too many characters at once (looking at you Game of Thrones), characters with difficult names to pronounce (a pronunciation guide can offset this), not enough character relatability, boring plot, not enough action, etc.

I do enjoy a sappy romance, but it drives me nuts when the characters won’t admit their feelings (yes I know it can be a plot point, but don’t let it be the main plot point), or have again off again relations (it can get annoying). Also too many steamy scenes cause me to skip or skim over book.

Some of my favorite books include The Book Thief (for its writing style and humor despite being a WW2 setting book), Redeeming Love (a slightly predicable romance/historical fiction set in during the California gold rush), The Last Sin Eater (a historical fiction focused on an unusual British Isle tradition) , Immanuel’s Veins (a unique take on vampirish/angelic lore set to a historical fiction book), The Lord of the Rings (a dense read but so unique), Harry Potter (magic, cause why not), and The Chronicles of Narnia (for the world within). These are the first that came to my mind. I have so many more that I’ve enjoyed.

Some of my favorite authors include Francine Rivers (for her takes on historical fiction interwoven with classic tales, also has some sappy romantic books), Ted Dekker (for his unique thrillers and ability to keep the reader interested), Paula Brackston (for her historical fiction and use of worldly magic), Arturo Perez-Reverte (for his descriptive historical fiction use of vocabulary), and Elizabeth Camden (for a sappy love story and use of historical fiction). These are the authors I usually gravitate towards.

Feel free to send me recommendations and requests. I’d love to hear about other genres, books, and authors. I’ll try my best to read those books as soon as I can. My room is a partial library of unread books. Also feel free to ask me questions. I’ll respond as soon as I can.

Comfort and Joy – Kristin Hannah

Title: Comfort and Joy

Author: Kristin Hannah

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Fantasy

Plot: This is Joy Candellario’s first Christmas alone. She’s recently divorced and having trouble with her sister. Desperate for change, Joy buys a last minute plane ticket to go anywhere but home. But the plane crashes and Joys finds a way to walk to the nearest town. There she meets Daniel and Bobby, a father and son who’ve recently lost their wife/mother. Joy tries to help them heal while trying to find healing for herself. When Joy leaves Daniel and Bobby, she finds her sister to try to make peace. But her heart still longs to return to Daniel and Bobby. Can Joy find peace? Can she find a way to move on?

Rating: 4.5 – a sweet story about family

Opinion: This was such a sweet story. I had reservations about this book since I’d read another book by this author and it was kinda sad. I went into this book expecting the same thing. There was a moment in the book where I thought ‘oh crap! No,you can’t do this to me!’ But the moment worked itself out beautifully. I read that part during my lunch break and was mad that I couldn’t finish the book then and there. The author did a good job with writing that plot twist. There were a few things that didn’t add up at first but it all makes sense after a certain point in the book. I was glad this book had a happy ending, too. This book definitely needed that sweet ending. This book was a book club recommended book from a book club that I recently joined. I highly recommend this book for anyone who needs a sweet holiday book.

The Wilderwomen – Ruth Emmie Lang

Title: The Wilderwomen

Author: Ruth Emmie Lang

Genre: Fantasy, Realistic Fiction

Plot: Zadie and Finn’s mom went missing five years ago. Zadie was eighteen and started her own life. Finn was twelve and sent to foster care with a good family. Both girls had unique abilities. Zadie has premonitions and Finn has echos (she can see parts of other people’s memories.). At Finn’s graduation party, she has an echo of her mom. She tells Zadie and begs her to search for her instead of going on their planned beach trip. Zadie reluctantly agrees. As they travel, Finn becomes more absorbed in their mom’s memories. Each time she gets an echo, she loses more time and wanders into some sketchy situations. Is the risk worth finding their mom? Can their mom be doing? Does she want to be found? Is she even alive?

Rating: 3.5 – an interesting story

Opinion: This was an interesting book. I thought it would deal with more fantasy elements, but it stays in reality most of the time. The author kind of gives some of her characters ‘super powers’ but makes them seem like everyday quirks. It deals with some family issues and the author does a good job writing about them. The author does a good job staying neutral about the subjects. I like how the author describes the choices the characters make. This makes the characters very relatable. The pacing of the book was very steady. It kept my interest the whole way through. It’s an easier read which is good if you need a break. I recommend this book for anyone who loves realistic fiction.

The Spanish Daughter – Lorena Hughes

Title: The Spanish Daughter

Author: Lorena Hughes

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: María Purificación is the oldest of four children, and the only truly legitimate child in the early 1900’s.He left her in Spain when she was a child to run a cacao plantation in Ecuador. Her father recently died and María Purificación has been asked to attend his will reading in Ecuador. She and her husband Cristobal travel together. But on the way to Ecuador, Cristobal is murdered. María Purificación decides to dress as her husband to find her husband’s murderer. As she navigates the plantation and the nearby city, she learns more about her father’s other family. Who killed Cristobal? Was it a family member? Or someone else?

Rating: 4.0 – a good historical fiction and murder mystery

Opinion: This was a great book. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I loved learning more about chocolate, how to make it, and the culture surrounding it. The mystery in the book was paced out nicely in the book. There are good clues to who did it in the book. The characters in the book were very relatable, too. There were parts of every character I could relate to. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves historical fiction books.

Adam – Ted Dekker

Title: Adam

Author: Ted Dekker

Genre: Thriller

Plot: Daniel Clark is a behavioral psychologist for the FBI. He’s helping the FBI catch a serial killer called Eve. They’re so close to catching Eve when Daniel is shot in the head. Miraculously, Daniel survives. Right before he’s shot, he sees Eve. But he can’t remember what Eve looks like. Daniel’s bound and determined to remember what Eve looks like before he finds and kills his next victim. Can Daniel remember? Can they catch Eve before it’s too late?

Rating: 4.3 – a good psychological thriller

Opinion: This was a good thriller. I was thrown for a minute when the book started with a short story within the book. Then I realized there were little stories that connected to the main story. There were many times I thought the side characters would be more important. Some were, some weren’t. I liked how the story portrayed exorcisms. It’s not a dramatic like it is in the movies or some other books I’ve read. The priests are more rational and want to prove other things first before jumping to conclusions. This book had a steady pace and I like how the characters thought through things in a more rational way. This book had an ending that made sense. Some of the author’s other books had relationships I that didn’t make sense by the end of them. This book’s relationships were better devolved. I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers.

Foul Lady Fortune – Chloe Gong

Title: Foul Lady Death

Author: Chloe Gong

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Plot: Rosalind is a spy in Shanghai in 1931. Some experiments were done to her so she can’t die.She also uses her knowledge of poisons as an aide if she’s asked to be an assassin or gets captured. Rosalind’s latest mission is to go under cover to track down a murderer. Her mission partner is Orion Hong, son a general and fellow spy. Neither like the other’s spy style, but they try to get along to keep their cover safe. They’re posing as a couple to track down the murderer. But as they uncover more to the mystery, the more they dive into the past. Will they like what they uncover? Can they stop the murderer in time? Or will there be even more deadly consequences?

Rating: 4 – a good historical fiction spy book.

Opinion: This was a good book. It took me a little bit to get into the book, but I ended up really liking it. There are so many characters introduced at first and they all have their code names so it took me a little bit to put all of the names and code names together. There’s also lots of backstory to get through, too. But it’s all important to why the characters act throughout the rest of the story. Once the story gets going, it becomes really good. The author does a good job keeping the mystery going and adding clues if you know where to look. The one thing I didn’t love was the point of view changes. I don’t mind when the points of view change in the middle of a chapter but I didn’t love how the story moved forward from their point of view. Overall I really enjoyed this book. It really makes your pay attention and think. I recommend this book for anyone who loves spy novels.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? – Carol McCloud

Title: Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Author: Carol McCloud

Illustrator: David Messing

Genre: Children’s Book, Picture Book

Plot: Everyone has a metaphorical bucket. Others can either help fill it or empty it. You can empty someone’s bucket by being mean to others or saying something mean. You can fill someone’s bucket by being kind, helping, and saying kind things. You get to pick if you can fill someone’s bucket or empty it. Whatever choices you make can fill or empty someone’s bucket.

Rating: 4.0 – a good way to teach compassion

Opinion: This was a great book. I enjoyed reading this book I at the daycare I used to work at. It’s great visual way of showing compassion. It can be used during the school year along with little activities. You can have a little classroom bucket for the teachers. I highly recommend this book for classrooms and homes.

The Attic Child – Lola Jaye

A warning: this book talks a lot about child abuse and neglect.

Title: The Attic Child

Author: Lola Jaye

Genre Historical Fiction

Plot: Dikimbe is the youngest child of a family of five kids. He lives outside of a village in Africa, in what is today called Zaire. A rich Englishman named Sir Richard Babbington back home to England him when Dikimbe is around 9. Sir Richard changes Dikimbe’s name to Celestine. Under Sir Richard, Celestine wants for nothing. As he grows up, Celestine learns the truth of how he was brought to England. He sees others from Africa who don’t have it as nice as him. He begins to resent Sir Richard. When Sir Richard dies and his cousins take over, Celestine’s life gets flipped upside down again. When he’s not working all day, his bedroom is now staying locked in the attic. Can Celestine survive his new way of life?

Almost one hundred years later, another person was locked in the attic during their dark childhood. Lowra is an orphan who prefers to keep herself anonymous and live in the shadows. Her past keeps her distant from everyone. When the owners of the house she grew up in die, she grabs the two things that meant something to her and leaves. That house has too many dark memories for her. But something in Lowra makes her want to find the original owners of her keepsakes. This leads her on a journey of self discovery and what really happened to the previous captive of the attic.

Rating: 4.0 a great historical fiction that shows the darker side of colonialism

Opinion: This was a great book. It’s not often you read a book about African colonialism from the mind of a child. They don’t always know about the conflicts around them. They don’t always know the behind the scenes things that happen. They know what happens in the moment. They don’t always know why. It broke my heart to hear Dikimbe/Celestine’s story. As an American, I tend to think more of the slave trade than colonialism when it comes to Africa before the 1900’s. It pissed me off to learn a different side of colonialism. It’s not as nice as we’ve made it out to be. The author does a great job writing through the hard times the characters went through. She knows what she’s writing about and has clearly done her research. There are very good distinctions between the switches between the characters points of view. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like this book, but I ended up really enjoying it. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves historical fiction.

The Mark of the Lion Trilogy – Francine Rivers

Titles: 1 – A Voice on the Wind, 2 – An Echo in the Darkness, 3 – As Sure as the Dawn

Author: Francine Rivers

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Book 1 – Jerusalem is attacked and destroyed under order of Titus. Hadassah’s family has all died of starvation or by the Roman sword. She’s taken captive and sold into slavery in Rome. Her masters the Valerians, and is takesked with serving Julia, a vain and selfish young woman. Marcus, her brother is helping with their father’s trade business. Hadassah does well and tells her masters stories about her faith without telling anyone she’s Christian, and not Jewish. Her faith would get her killed if anyone knew, a Roman law. Hadassah wants to tell her masters about her faith, but will they hear an and believe? Can the Balerian family see past their delish desires and love each other? Or will someone else get in the way?

Book 2: The Valerian family thinks that Hadassah is dead. For now, she’d like to keep it that way. The lioness left deep scars, physically and mentally. A physician in training, Alexander, took pity on her and saved her from death. Hadassah became his assistant when she was healed. In God’s name, she helped heal others. She earned the name, Rapha (Aramaic for healer). This caught the attention of Julia, who’s dying from all sorts of things after a party lifestyle. But there’s nothing she or Alexander can do. Hadassah begs to let Alexander to let her stay and help Julia. He’s hesitant because he knows about their relationship. Eventually he agrees. When Marcus returns from his journey of self discovery and faith, he finds out about Julia and has her stay at their family’s houses. Hadassah is reunited with the whole Valerian family in disguise as Rapha. Hadassah tries hard to bring them to faith. Can everyone be saved? Or will death take them first?

Book 3: Atretes was a German and member of the Chatti tribe. During the events of the first book, he was taken captive by the Romans and trained to fight as a gladiator. He earned his freedom after 10 years of fighting. He learned he had a son with Julia and wants to get him back now. A widow named Rizpah has been caring for his son since Hadassah brought him to her. Atretes tries to care for his son, Caleb, with the help of a wet nurse, but he only wants Rizpah. Reluctantly, Atretes brings Rizpah back. They form an uneasy truce. Atretes is also desperate to get back to Germania. An old ‘friend’ wants to see him in the arena as a gladiator again. The two of them must escape before this happens. Rizpah knows of other Christians who are traveling towards Germania and let both of them join. But traveling with them is a former Roman officer turned Christian. Atretes hates the very idea of him leading them to his homeland, but it’s the only option. Everyone on the journey tries to tell Atretes about Jesus but he wants none of it. It takes a miracle for him to see the truth. After the miracle he wants to share the truth with his people. But will they accept the truth? Or will they die in the process?

Rating: 4.0 – a great historical fiction series

Opinion: This was a great trilogy. I read this in high school and wanted to read it again. There were a few things I remembered but I forgot a lot. I forgot how much the ending of the first one pissed me off. I loved the history, sappy romance, and Christianity. I’ve always felt like this author did her research for books and this book is no different. I love how the author writes the characters. Everyone has a distinct personality. It’s easy to relate or hate a character. One of the things that bugged me was that the ending of the third book felt a little rushed. The third one also didn’t feel as connected to the other two. I loved this trilogy. It’s every bit as good as I remembered it. This is a great trilogy for anyone who loves historical fiction, sappy romance, and faith based stories.

Dazzle the Dinosaur – Marcus Pfister

Title: Dazzle the Dinosaur

Author and Illustrator: Marcus Pfister

Genre: Children’s Book, Picture Book

Plot: Dazzle and and Maia are little dinosaurs who are the best of friends. But Dazzle has always stood out from the other dinosaurs. He has a sail on his back that shines and glitters. One day Maia and Dazzle are playing and get separated from everyone else. While they’re playing, a Dragonsaurus finds the two little dinosaurs. Dazzle and Maia hid in a cave. Then they have an idea. Dazzle can use his shiny scales to scare away the Dragonsaurus. Will it work? Can Dazzle and Maia find their way home?

Rating: 4.2 – a cute story about being brave and smart

Opinion: I loved this book growing up, as I was one of those kids who loved all things dinosaurs. I loved Dazzle’s shiny scales. This was a cute book and it still is now. It’s book that lets kids know it’s okay to be different. It shows them ways to be brave, too. The book shows how to use your differences to be brave. It’s got beautiful drawings and a good message. It’s not one of this author’s more famous books, but still a great book to have.It’s a great book to have in the classroom or at home. Great for a dinosaur lover or dinosaur classroom unit.

The Invisible String – Patrice Karst

Title: The Invisible String

Author: Patrice Karst

Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (new version), Geoff Stevenson (old version)

Genre: Children’s Book, Picture Book

Plot: Jeremy and Liza go wake up their mom because they miss someone who’s far away. Their mom explains that everyone’s connected by an invisible string made of love. It can stretch as far as the person is away. The string doesn’t go away if the person has past away. The string will never go away if they love someone.

Rating: 4.3 – a sweet story about how everyone’s connected

Opinion: This was one of the last books I got to read at the daycare. One of the kids was talking to their dad about it when they got dropped off. The family brought it to the daycare the next day. It was super sweet and I loved it. The kids seemed to connect with it, too. It’s a simple way to remind kids that no matter where someone is, that you’ll always be with them in their, and your, heart. I loved that the author added the fact that the string won’t disappear if someone passes away. This is a great story for kids who’ve moved away from family and friends or lost family. I’d recommend this book for a classroom or at home. Also while looking online, I found lots of activities to go with the book.