The Wonder Weeks

The Wonder Weeks: A Stress-Free Guide to Your Baby’s Behavior by Xaviera Plas-Plooij

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t express how wonderful this book is. I was told of this book before my daughter’s arrival into this wonderful world and began reading it right after her birth.

First of all – this book is a god sent. It’s broken down into leaps, aka baby phases. I usually read one leap ahead just to prep myself for what is about to come next. Each leap explains a child’s milestone and their development progress. It also describes their behavior. It makes it so much easier to understand what the baby is going thru. As a first-time mom – this book is such a wonderful guide. Every time it lets me know that I am not the only one in this situation, all babies go thru this stage, I am actually a good mom. It gives me a better connection with my daughter. Each chapter, also known as a leap, includes exercises and games that are appropriate to play with the babies at the assigned age that helps with their development, and are fun activities for mommy/daughter time.

I have read a few books, and a million mommy blogs and searched for what to expect, or baby advice. This book is basically all the books and blogs combined into a few pages. That’s another beauty of this book. The chapter for each leap/phase is 15-20 pages long. Us, new parents, do not have time to read and this book is like a flashcard for new parents: short, straight to the point with examples.

View all my reviews

The House Party

The House Party by Mary Grand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The House Party” is a spider web of secrets, lies, and betrayals.

“I believe in loyalty as well, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept lies.”

A house party was shaded by Kathleen’s foul mood, at the end of the party, she confides in her best friend Beth of a mistake she’s made, and a secret she’s found out. The next day Kathleen’s body is found at the end of the cliff. An incident, a suicide, or a murder? When everyone in their friends’ circle is convinced that Kathleen’s death was an accident, Beth is certain that her friend was murdered. After all, she was afraid of someone at the party. But they all are friends, friends don’t kill their friends, do they? As days pass and Beth uncovers more and more of her friends’ secrets, she now questions herself, does she actually know her friends?

Such a great novel, full of many twists and turns. Love the plot, and a great set of characters. I must admit, it took me a while to narrow down the most vicious “friend”. I was right at the end, but the author did throw me off the trail a few times. I admire the mystery that keeps me guessing.

View all my reviews

The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel

The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel by Kati Marton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“A woman in power has more urgent business to attend to than her ego.”

Prior to reading the biography, I knew of the remarkable work Angela Merkel has done during her time in office. And of course, during this biography, I was blown away by the change she has applied to the EU. But mostly, I was fascinated by Mrs. Merkel’s charisma. It was interesting to learn of the Chancellor’s childhood and upbringing behind the wall. Her life before the fall of the Wall. It explains Mrs. Merkel’s fight for the refugees’ rights. And her war with the world’s biggest dictator – Putin. The book covered her partnership with Xi Jinping, Obama, and Emmanuel Macron. I was impressed with the way the Chancellor has handled the situation with China and the deal that was signed at the end of 2020. And don’t get me started with the global pandemic and the way Mrs. Merkel’s strategy resulted in the lowest GDP drop in the world.

Being the Chancellor of Germany is not an easy task. Even over 75 years after the horrors of WWII, people skeptically look at Germany and its power over the UN. Mrs. Merkel has been taking steps to make amends with the Jewish society and gain their trust and respect. Her outlook on human rights and equality is impeccable. Her strategies are outstanding, well thought thru and prepared. This is a world leader who is not afraid to face the challenges of the political world. During her years in the office, Germany’s economy has improved, and the world is “speaking German” now. When the Chancellor has inherited the office, she had big goals to achieve, and she has reached it all and more. She was able to put Germany back on the map with all its glory.

Angel Merkel is an inspiring role model. This was my first biography about Mrs. Merkel, and I absolutely enjoyed it. This is an easy read, it was not written in chronological order, instead, each chapter highlighted a specific subject of the Chancellor’s leadership period.

View all my reviews

Next Year in Havana

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is decide to leave when it is no longer wise to stay.

In 1958 Eliza’s family fleed Cuba. Taking with them the memories of the grand country they once knew. Unfortunately, Castro’s tight reign prevented the family’s return to their beloved land. “Next Year in Havana” they toasted every new year’s night, in hopes for the dictator to catch his death and Cuban borders to open their doors to the exiled family. Unfortunately, Eliza passed away before she could return to Havana. Marisol was the chosen granddaughter who bared a very hard task, to return her grandmother’s ashes to the place she once loved. The trip to Cuba helped Marisol to elucidate her family’s history, meet the extended family, and of course, reach her very own happily ever after.

The novel has lured me into the history of Cuba, and its revolution. I enjoyed learning the story of Batista and Castro’s regimes, and their dictatorships over the people of Cuba. Besides the two dictators, the novel shed the light on 26 July Movement and the Guerrilla war. An author did an amazing job telling the history of the country. Her storytelling is entertaining and easy to read.

View all my reviews

The Yellow House

The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would not wish on my worst enemy the life Eileen O’Neill has experienced in long, hard 15 years. From losing her young sister to discovering a dreadful secret that tore her family apart, her mom admitted into a mental ward, estranged older brother, to the tragic death of her father, losing her family home to marrying a man who stole all her life savings and abandoned her. Working day in day, fighting in the revolution, trying to raise a child. No wonder Eileen began to think her adored yellow house brought a curse on the O’Neill family.

After reading of Eileen’s misfortunes and what she went thru, I was not surprised by the fire that ran in her, the dream she was chasing, that one day she will rebuild the yellow house and bring her whole family back together to a happy home. But her stubbornness got her in trouble more times than I could count. Nevertheless, the girl, like a cat had nine lives, and could always find the way out of the worst situation. Although, I was surprised by the devotion to her husband after all he put her thru. And surprisingly, in the end, they parted with peace between them.

The plot of the novel is deeply staggering. Every chapter brought yet another sensational twist, and it kept on coming. There were no dull moments that I could take a breath and relax, by the end of the novel I was on my toes. Bewildering, spectacular, and just simply exceptional story of a worrier that live and fought and survived.

View all my reviews

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another true story of the survivors of history’s most notorious times.

Lale’s arrival at Auschwitz marketed the beginning of a new life. Just like the rest of the prisoners, overnight Lale was robbed of his family, dignity, and freedom. Becoming the Tätowierer was not his first choice, but it gave Lale a major opportunity to help his fellow inmates by obtaining extra food and medicine from outside the camp to smuggling people out of it.

The major part of the story revolves around Lale and Gita’s love story. During his very first day as a Tätowierer, Lale meets Gita, and their lifelong journey begins. And after surviving the concentration camp, Lale and Gita met many obstacles in life, but despite the trouble – they kept going till their last breath, by each other’s side, hand in hand.

This was an exceptionally good book, mostly because it is told by the Tätowierer himself. The character has shed new light on the life in the concentration camp, a life of a prisoner who somehow was above his fellow inmates. As a big reader of WWII fiction, I always welcome learning more about it and would recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in life in the concentration camps. This is a light and quick read that offers a unique WWII perspective.

View all my reviews


Circe by Madeline Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t expect to enjoy the novel as much as I did. During my teenage years, I was fascinated by Greek mythology, read many books and short stories, but time has passed and my taste in reading has changed.

Circe is the oldest daughter of Helios, god of the sun. She didn’t possess any powers, but after many years has discovered the power of witchcraft. With the newly gained wisdom, Circe began to cast spells that have scared and angered Zeus, and he eventually decided to send Circe into exile to the deserted island. Circe made the best of her situation and created a new life on Aiaia. Many powerful men and gods came thru her island, some looking for help, others out of curiosity, and Circe welcomed them all.

The novel has included mini-stories of other titans and olympian gods, however, it focused on Circe’s life. Her upbringing, first love, banishment from the Olympia, new life on the Aiaia where she perfected and straightened her spells. She birthed and raised her son Telegonus on the island as well but later lost him to Athena. Nevertheless, she gained the last longing love that made her give up her immortal life.

I’ve enjoyed the story the most because it covered the lives of many mythogical characters that I liked, such as Prometheus, Glaucos, Daedalus and Icarus, Medea, Odysseus, Minotaur, and Athena.

View all my reviews

The House Mate

The House Mate by Nina Manning

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Life should be spent with the person you know loves you as much as you love them.”

Regi receives an opportunity of a lifetime, to restart her life with a new home, new friends, new future. Despite the gruesome memories of her past that continue to shadow her, she tries to move on and it brings her to a new hobby – Instagram. And that’s when Regi comes across Mrs. Clean account on Instagram, and her obsession begins.

First, this novel proved, like many others before this, social media is a happy and perfect buddle, what you see on your screen may not mirror the reality. And you never know who is behind the screen name. While Regi is trying to escape her past, she jumps headfirst into the situation that puts her in a danger. Second, it covers psychological topics as OCD, PTSD, and fixation.

I must admit, narrators’ stories that overlapped were a bit confusing, I wish it was explained better. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the story with all the twists. There was a compelling and gradual build-up of the suspense that led to a great finale. This is a great psychological thriller, perfect evening read.

View all my reviews

In the Midst of Winter

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the largest snowstorms in New York has linked the lives of Richard, Lucia, and Evelyn. The evening has started with a minor car accident and twelve hours later the trio was on the road that bonded their lives forever. During the trip, new friends began to share the stories of their past lives, secrets, and fears. Richard has lost his two children and a wife. Lucia lived many years in exile, only to come back to Chile and continue to fight, this time for her marriage and health. And finally, Evelyn, a young girl who escaped death twice, came to American in hopes of a better future.

Despite the dreadful stories of the characters, I enjoyed Isabel Allende’s writing, she didn’t sugarcoat the brutality of either Chile and Guatemala, instead, she highlighted all the horrors and violence of everyday life. The novel also sheds the light on the military dictatorship of Chile that took place in the 70s-80s, human trafficking, illegal immigration.

View all my reviews

The Daughter In Law

The Daughter In Law by Nina Manning

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is no secret that mothers don’t always welcome their son’s wives into their lives with open arms and pure affection. Hence I didn’t expect much fondness from Annie towards her new daughter-in-law. But this story made my skin crawl.

Annie and Ben always lived in a big secluded beach house. Inseparable mother and son. That’s how she has always envisioned it, her precious boy, living with her till the end of time. But out of nowhere, Daisy has invaded their blissful life. The enemy who torn their quiet life, and ripped sweet and wonderful Ben out of Annie’s life. But Annie will move the mountains to protect and return her sweet boy exactly where he belongs – with her.

At first, I thought it would be a novel about a jealous mother who has a hard time letting go of her only son. The further the book went – the more I began to fear Annie. Annie’s character is spine-chilling. Her obsession with Ben from the beginning felt unhealthy. And her behavior just screamed – leave your home, move to another country, change your identity, and just stay far far away from this lunatic. The lady gave me goosebumps, and she is just a character in the book. On the other hand – Daily, oh how many times I have wished that I could jump into the pages of the novel and give this girl a good shake. I get that she was going thru a couple of shocking events, plus mommy’s brain, but how stupid can you get to literally walk into the obvious mouse trap. Anyway, without the characters, we would not have a great page-turning thriller. A great novel to curl up with on these cold autumn nights.

View all my reviews

The Marriage

The Marriage by K.L. Slater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ten years earlier, her son was killed. Today she married his murdered. This is not a revenge story.

Tom and Jesse have been inseparable since they met in early childhood. The mothers became close friends by default. But one fatal night brought the end of the friendship and Jesse’s life. Both mothers were devastated, one lost her son to the grave, another one – to jail. However, what has made the difference was how they both handled their heartbreak. Can a mother start her life over after the death of her son? And more than that – marry his murderer. It must be revenge – there is no other possible explanation. And Tom’s mother is determined to expose Bridget’s plan. But everything is much more complicated.

I loved the plot with all the unpredictable twists. Hands down the best thriller I’ve read in the past year. I’ve been complaining about not being able to find a book that can shock me – and the universe has sent me a pleasant surprise. I must admit, I did not trust Bridget at all, all the way till the very end. I was convinced she was in it for the vengeance. But oh boy – how wrong I was. This is a fast-read novel. Definitely pour yourself a glass of wine to go with the book.

View all my reviews

Goodnight Sweetheart

Goodnight Sweetheart by Pam Weaver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unlike many other books that I’ve read about WWII, this novel shed a lot of light on early women’s rights, racism, interracial marriage versus the horrors of the war.

After the sudden death of her mother, Frankie is sent to live with her aunt and her family. But do not fret, besides the horror of losing her mother, Frankie was given a warm and loving home. When WWII hit the great Brittan and her cousins enrolled in the military, Frankie maneuvered to get herself in a midst of war and help her country and the English army. During this time, Frankie came across an American doctor and suddenly fell in love. The feeling was mutual and Frankie became a war bride. But her life, once again, threw a curveball, and another heartbreak came upon a young wife. But despite the brutality of her life, Frankie didn’t give up on her spirit.

I enjoyed Frankie’s story, I loved her strong will. No matter the number of devastating circumstances that came upon her and her family, she remained hopeful, encouraging, loyal, and most important didn’t let her devastation seek revenge. An orphan, then war widow and single mother, Frankie turned into a land and business owner. 1940 was the time when women began to enter the world as independent individuals, and the novel has highlighted this fact very well. This book is a great read for someone like myself who is a lover of historical fiction and WWII but wants a little change in the plot of the novel.

View all my reviews