Friday, August 18, 2017

Charlie's Corner: April-July 2017 Reads

Charlie's Corner is a new segment to my blog, named after my son. It will feature baby and children's book hauls and short reviews. 

Because this is my first post for Charlie's Corner, I will combine some of the books I've read to him since April.

Reading Progress: April-July 2017

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5/5
My Thoughts: 1..ah ah ah, 2 ah ah ah, 3 ah ah ah, 4 ah ah ah, 5 ah ah ah stars for Elmo's Book of Friends. The bight colours and the lovable Sesame Street characters has Charlie mesmerized. 

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5/5
My Thoughts: Charlie just loves this finger puppet book. The bright colours of the little fish and its surroundings are very eye catching. This book is a current favourite. 

Teddy's Camp: On a Bearish Adventure into the Woods by Peter Nicholas Liptak and Pascal 
My Rating: 🌟 1/5
My Thoughts: Unfortunately this one was a miss for us, as it was supposed to be a rhyming book, but just wasn't consistent. I also wasn't a big fan of the illustrations.

Franklin's School Play by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 3/5
My Thoughts: Its holiday time and Franklin and his class are putting on a Nutcracker play. This is a cute story that I will share with my son for years to come.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The Day the Falls Stood Still
By: Cathy Marie Buchanan

Published: August 2009
Published by: Hyperion
Format Read: eBook, Kobo
Genre: Historical fiction

Rating: 4/5

Bess Heath was raised on stories about the people who tested their fate with Niagara Falls and the river leading to it, but none was more thrilling than the River Man, who saved many lives, simply because he had a deep understanding and respect for the world wonder. As a member of an upper-class family, Bess never would have thought she would fall in love with the lowly River Man’s grandson. Beginning in 1915, The Day the Falls Stood Still chronicles her and Tom Cole’s love story, during a time of great change for the town and the country with the growth of the hydro power plants along the river and the environmental impacts they had.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls several times over the years, but I knew very little about its history, especially during the early days of hydro-electricity in Canada. I appreciated how the author fused the prominent issues of that time into the story. It explored the environmental and moral sacrifices these advances brought.

Buchanan crafted a fictional story that was inspired by the real life River Man William “Red” Hill and his heroic rescues. I enjoy when a historical fiction gives the reader a good image of how daily life was during a specific time period and I felt The Day the Falls Stood Still did just that.

It took me some time to really get into the story. It wasn’t until the end that I really understood what drew Bess and Tom together. However once I was hooked, I became very immersed in the plot. I also liked the old photographs that began each section.

I would recommend Cathy Marie Buchanan’s The Day the Falls Stood Still to historical fiction fans.  

Monday, August 14, 2017

The end of a chapter

Today I would like to share with my readers an announcement that is bitter sweet for me. After a lot of deliberation, I have decided to move on from my blog here at Melissa Lee's Many Reads. Please allow me to explain..

Melissa Lee's Many Reads has been quite a learning experience for me, as I have never created a blog before. It has given me the opportunity to join a wonderful community and to connect with people from all over the world, who share the same interests that I do. I even managed to gain a small group of followers and I am so grateful for each and every one of you. 

After such a positive experience, you are probably wondering why I have decided to move on from this blog, well there are several reasons..

As I prepared for the birth of my son and the months after his grand arrival, I had to take a step back from blogging and reviewing. It gave me time to reflect on this blog and I began to realize that although I still enjoy it, I just wasn't satisfied with my presentation of it anymore. I have quite lofty goals for the content I wanted to publish, but lacked the knowledge to do so. To be honest, I have tried to do too much with it and I haven't followed through with the plans I would announce. At the same time I began to realize that I had outgrown Melissa Lee's Many Reads, its appearance and even its name. 

Somehow it didn't feel right to me to just overhaul this blog and take a different approach with it. Then I began to have problems with this blogging platform. I tried several times to fix these problems, but just became more and more frustrated. In the end I came to the conclusion that I wanted somewhere I could start fresh and create a blog that I could keep up with. A space that could grow with me. 

And so I have created my new blog ML's Red House Reviews

Please visit the link above to learn more about my new blog and subscribe if you would like to continue following my posts. 

I don't plan on deleting Melissa Lee's Many Reads and I still have several upcoming pre-scheduled posts yet to come, however I wanted to take this time to share with my readers my plans moving forward. 

Thank you all for taking the time to read my posts and reviews. I hope to see you all over at ML's Red House Reviews. 


Friday, August 11, 2017

DNF: A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mystery, #1) by Charles Finch

A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mystery, #1)
By: Charles Finch
Narrated by: James Langton

Published: September, 2011
Published by: Tantor Media Inc. 
Format Read: Audio Book
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery


Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, likes nothing more than to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist the chance to unravel a mystery.

Prudence Smith, one of Jane’s former servants, is dead of an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The grand house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prue had dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by the motive for the girl’s death.

When another body turns up during the London season’s most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence Smith? Or was it something else entirely? And can Lenox find the answer before the killer strikes again—this time, disturbingly close to home?

I borrowed A Beautiful Blue Death from my library via the OverDrive app. It caught my attention due to its Victorian London location and the Sherlock Holmes feel. Unfortunately I found that the mystery didn't keep my attention. I listened to about 30% of the story, however it began to focus on politics, a topic that I don't generally enjoy reading about. While James Langton's narration suited the story and its characters, I wasn't able to establish a connection with it. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

This or That Book Tag

I came across the This or That Tag on Rebel Mommy Book Blog, however it originated on Tea and Paperbacks.

πŸ’šReading on the couch or in bed?πŸ’š
In bed. But my absolute favourite place to read is in the bath.

πŸ’šMale main character or female main character?πŸ’š
I enjoy reading from both perspectives, but I generally relate more to a female main character.

πŸ’šSweet snacks or salty snacks while reading?πŸ’š
Salty potato chips.

πŸ’šTrilogies or quartets?πŸ’š

πŸ’šFirst person POV or third person POV?πŸ’š
First person.

πŸ’šBooks that make you laugh or books that make you cry?πŸ’š
Depends on my mood. I enjoy both when read at the right time.

πŸ’šReading at night or in the morning?πŸ’š
I’m not so much of a morning person. I prefer to read in bed at night.

πŸ’šLibraries or Bookstores?πŸ’š
Lately my budget is more fitting for the library.

πŸ’šBlack book covers or white book covers?πŸ’š
Black and white!

πŸ’šCharacter-driven or plot-driven stories?πŸ’š

If you decide to participate in this book tag as well, be sure to leave your link in the comments so I can check out your answers. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Monthly Wrap-up: July 2017

July life in a few words:

  • Charlie turned 3 months old.
  • Rain.
  • Exhaustion. 
  • Good books.
  • New car!
  • More rain.
  • There isn't enough hours in the day. 

I read some good books in July, as you can see by their ratings below. Dangerous

🌟🌟🌟🌟 4/5

🌟🌟🌟🌟 4/5
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan 

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5/5
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas 

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 3
Total Number of Fiction: 3
Total Number of Non-fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 0
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 1
Total Library Books Read: 2 (Dangerous Girls was from Rivited)

Formats Read:

Physical Books: 0
eBooks: 2
Audio Book: 1

Genres Read:

Young Adult, Mystery,Suspense, Contemporary, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction

Total Books Read in 2017: 15

Monday, July 31, 2017

My Historical Fiction Evolution Part 5

Today I will wrap up my series by talking about technology. But first let’s recap the previous posts:

Part 1: My introduction to historical fiction in elementary school with Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr.

Part 2: Historical fiction close to home with Booky: A Trilogy by Bernice Thurman Hunter and Guest of War Trilogy by Kit Pearson.

Part 3: Learning about the holocaust.

Part 4: Eras of Interest

How today's technology has enhanced my historical fiction evolution

It’s no secret that technology has come a long way in the past 20 years. Hell it’s come a long way in the past year alone. And with that new technology it has brought an enhanced experience for readers.
The internet alone has opened the door to me for more learning opportunities than I could have ever imagined.

All those time periods I have been mentioning, now I can find out more on a topic I have read about, with just a click of the mouse. Websites like Goodreads and Pinterest have made my TBR list never ending and many of those books are of the historical fiction and non-fiction genres.


Goodreads allows its users to create bookshelves to organize their books. I have created several bookshelves for my historical fiction and non-fiction books. Click on the links below to see my shelves:

One thing I enjoy when reading a historical book is looking up pictures of that time period, the events that occurred and even sometimes the people. My cell phone comes in handy in case I’m not near my computer at the time. I have started to save these pictures in a Pinterest board I created called From the Books I Have Read.


There are many books I have read over the past couple of years that I haven’t been able to get a physical copy of, but have been able to obtain in eBook format. This has been a wonderful and cost effective way to get my dose of history.
I read my eBooks using:

  • My Kobo
  • Kindle for PC
  • Adobe Digital Editions

Blogging and Booktube

And of course the blogging community and booktube has been a wonderful source for great recommendations.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

The Girl Who Chased the Moon
By: Sarah Addison Allen

Published: March 2010
Published By: Books on Tape
Format Read: Audio Book
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Magical Realism 

Rating: 4/5

Emily Benedict is sent to live with her Grandfather, after her Mother’s untimely death. Not only is he a real life giant, but the small South Carolina town of Mullaby is home to many magical secrets. One of which was the catalyst for Emily’s Mother leaving town. She befriends neighbor Julia Winterson, owner of a local BBQ restaurant and baker of the most delicious cakes.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen is a contemporary novel with dusting of magic. Normally fantasy or magical realism isn’t my cup of tea, but I decided to give this one a shot anyway. And in the end I was happy that I did.

The author painted a beautifully magical picture of the small southern town of Mullaby. The characters were charming with detailed backstories. Rebecca Lowman was a good fit as narrator for this book and kept me engaged throughout.

While I really enjoyed the contemporary romance story-line, I found that the explanations behind the mystery and magic to be a bit underwhelming. I had hoped it would be more exciting or shocking.

Still I think that The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen was a good book and worthy of a 4 star rating. I would recommend this book to fans of lightly magical contemporaries. I will consider reading more from this author in the future. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

ML's Worth a Watch: Book Trailers (January-June 2017)

Today I would like to share with you some of the trailers for books I have read between January and June 2017.

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

If You're Gone by Brittany Goodwin 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

My Historical Fiction Evolution Part 4

Welcome back to the next installment in my series about how my love for historical fiction has evolved.

Here is a recap of my previous posts. Click on the links to check them out.

Part 1: My introduction to historical fiction in elementary school with Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr.
Part 2: Historical fiction close to home with Booky: A Trilogy by Bernice Thurman Hunter and Guest of War Trilogy by Kit Pearson.
Part 3: Learning about the holocaust.

Notable Time Periods

Today I will spotlight some of the other different time periods I have discovered through books.

As I got older I began to read adult books (both fiction and non-fiction) and this opened the door to discover more events, eras, cultures and places throughout history. I began to branch out from books set during World War II to include a wider variety that fascinated me just as much.
Some of these books include:

The Russian Revolution including The Romanov’s

Edwardian Aristocrats and the people who worked for them

Old New York City

The Immigrant Experience

Pre-20th Century America

The Tudors

Among others..

I just love being transported to a different time and discovering all there is to know about. I know that my future reading will only take me farther and I can’t wait to learn more about the past.

In the 5th and final installment of My Historical Fiction Evolution will focus on today’s technology and how it has enhanced my reading experience.

What are some different time periods you enjoy reading about? Leave me a message in the comments. Recommendations are always welcome. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"If You're Gone" Inspired Playlist

Every once in a while I hear a song that reminds me of a certain book that I have read. Recently I had the chance to read and review If You're Gone by Brittany Goodwin (click on the link to read my review).
Book synopsis from Goodreads:
Lillian White was planning for the perfect summer- spending every waking minute at the lake with her heartthrob boyfriend, Brad Lee. But her world is shattered when Brad mysteriously disappears the night of his graduation ceremony- the same night he tells her he loves her for the first time. After law enforcement dismisses the case, classifying Brad as voluntarily missing, Lillian becomes desperate to prove that he couldn’t have just walked away. Not from his family. Not from his friends. Not from her.

Heartbroken but determined to find answers, Lillian begins to uncover secrets from Brad’s past that force her to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship. Will the truth lead her to him? Or are Brad’s lies just the beginning of the mystery?
 Upon visiting the authors website I discovered that she had compiled a playlist herself for the short story.

Goodwin's playlist included songs from Daughtry, David Cook and Nickelback (among others). However my personal favourite is A Thousand Years by Christina Perri:

Here are some other songs that reminded me of If You're Gone:

Fix You by Coldplay

A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans

When You're Gone by Avril Lavigne 

Be sure to check out author Brittany Goodwin's post for her If You're Gone Playlist

Monday, July 17, 2017

My Historical Fiction Evolution Part 3

Welcome to part 3 in My Historical Fiction Evolution series where I discuss my love for the genre and how it has changed over the past 20 years.

Click the links below to check out the first two posts in this series.

To recap:
Part 1: My introduction to historical fiction in elementary school with Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr.

Part 2: Historical fiction close to home with Booky: A Trilogy by Bernice Thurman Hunter and Guest of War Trilogy by Kit Pearson.

After learning about the terrible lasting effects of the atom bomb in Japan and the hardships of those during Great Depression and World War II Toronto, my historical fiction evolution was about to delve even deeper.  

It was my grade 7 teacher who introduced me to the horrors of the Holocaust, when my class watched the film Life is Beautiful. Click below to watch the movies trailer.

This film follows a Jewish man and his son as they are sent to a concentration camp during World War II. The atrocities the Jewish people faced absolutely horrified me, but it also made me want to learn more.

So naturally I turned to my newfound love of history and historical fiction. This would also mark the first time I would read non-fiction.

Now you are probably expecting me to mention The Diary of aYoung Girl by Anne Frank, however I admit that this wasn’t one of my favourite books. Instead I will focus on the following middle grade and young adult books set during this time period:

Surviving Hitler

Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps by AndreaWarren gives the true account of a holocaust survivor as he recounts his harrowing tale. This book is chalk full of pictures, many of which were extremely hard to look at. These pictures made the time period come alive for me.

My Canary Yellow Star 

My Canary Yellow Star by Eva Wiseman was a book I was given in high school by my mom who met the author. Like Surviving Hitler, it follows a young Jewish person (in this case a girl named Marta) as their rights are stripped away by the Nazi regime and sent to a concentration camp.

I have reread both of these books several times over the years (and will continue to do so), but their horrors and message of hope will never dull. It is with books like these that the people whose lives were tragically cut short are remembered. They are also a great learning tool for the youth of today.

Stay tuned for part 4 in my series where my evolution in historical fiction continues.

Are there any books set during the holocaust that you would recommend? Leave me a message in the comments. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

If You're Gone by Brittany Goodwin

If You're Gone

By: Brittany Goodwin

Published: June 2016
Published By: Edge of 22 Publishing
Format Read: eBook
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Christian Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 3.5/5

I was sent a copy of If You’re Gone by Brittany Goodwin by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Lillian White never would have imagined that she would fall in love with the school bad boy, but a chance encounter with neighbour Brad Lee would change everything. After 6 months of bliss, Brad finally tells Lillian that he loves her on the night of his high school graduation. The next morning she awakes to a frantic message from Brad’s mother saying that he has gone missing without a trace.

Brittany Goodwin’s If You’re Gone is a short story that shines the light on missing youth. Instead of focusing on the details of the investigation into Brad’s disappearance, it follows the hardships Lillian, their friends and families faced. This character driven plot sets this story apart from other mysteries that I have read in the past, which tend to be plot driven.

Although naive characters like Lillian aren’t my favourite, I found that I was able to relate to her love for Brad and their relationship was similar to my own. While her family and friends dealt with her grief in different ways, I was able to understand why she was feeling the way she did and how it affected her. The author did a good job of fitting all the details into such a short story. It was quite an emotional read for me and I flew through the pages.

For those who are interested in learning how Lillian fared in the years after If You’re Gone, they are encouraged to visit Brittany Goodwin’s website where she has posted a hidden chapter.

I would recommend this short story to fans of young adult contemporary fiction. 

Visit Brittany Goodwin's website at the link: 

Monday, July 10, 2017

My Historical Fiction Evolution Part 2

For the first post in My Historical Fiction Evolution series I discussed how Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr sparked my love for the genre when I was a child. Today I will talk about how that love evolved during the years of my youth.


Shortly after being introduced to historical fiction with Sadako, I was introduced to another young fictional girl by the name of Booky. Like Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Booky: A Trilogy by Bernice ThurmanHunter was also read aloud by my teacher to the class. The main character in this series was also close in age to myself at the time. But what made her even more relatable was the fact that this trilogy was set in a place not far from home: Toronto! Even though the time period was set during the Great Depression, it mentioned many different locations in and around the city that are still there today (or were about 20 years ago). Some of those locations include: Eaton’s and the CNE, not to mention the different neighbourhoods Booky and her family lived in.

Guests of War

Around this time my love for reading in general had picked up and I was beginning to try different books outside of The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High, which I had been reading for several years prior. I came across another historical fiction book by another Canadian author.

Guests of War Trilogy by Kit Pearson was also set in Toronto and followed a young girl around my age. However this one was set during World War II and followed two British children as they are sent to Canada for safety.

There is something about reading of familiar places during a different time period that I find so interesting. Not only is it a great learning experience, but it is also interesting to compare the old ways of life to the present day.

Even after all these years I still consider Bernice Thurman Hunter’s Booky: A Trilogy and Kit Pearson’s Guests of War Trilogy to be my lasting favourites.

Stay tuned for part 3 of My Historical Fiction Evolution series where I will talk about books set during the Holocaust. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunday Wrap-up: July 9, 2017

Hello everyone,

I'm racing to get this posted before midnight, as I have another one already lined up to be published. I try to spread out my posts throughout the week. But because I've made some good reading progress lately and I'm reading two different books, I thought I'd do this Sunday wrap-up.

My Reading Progress:
I have completed 2 books since my last update.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
I listened to this contemporary fiction in audio format via the Overdrive app. I enjoyed it and hope to read more from this author. 

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I really liked this historical fiction set in Niagara Falls. Not only was it a great history lesson on my own province, but it is set in a location I've been several times. 
Currently Reading

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. 
Happy reading! 

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