Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Monthly Wrap-up: February 2017

Hello everyone and welcome to my monthly wrap-up for February 2017. This past month was another blur of doctors appointments as I count down the weeks until my due date. Thankfully everything is going well and baby is growing on schedule.

Today is my 30th birthday, which to be honest I haven't even given much thought to. I always thought that the big 3-0 would hit me harder, but since I've been so busy concentrating on my upcoming due date, its kind of taken a back seat. I celebrated with my family on Sunday, just the 6 of us with a yummy dinner at my parents house. A small gathering is just what I wanted, complete with one of my favourite meals and dessert. It was a nice night.

I have just about 7 weeks to go until my due date!

Now, lets get to the books..

I completed 3 books in the month of February, which is one more than January. Goodreads is telling me that I am 2 books behind schedule to reach my goal of 45 books in the year. I'm ok with that though. Plus I am on track to completing my goal for my first quarter TBR, which is 4 books from my back-list.

🌟🌟🌟🌟 A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware 
Rating: 4/5
Set in the aftermath of the great San Francisco earthquake in 1906, A Race to Splendor follows a young female architect as she competes to re-build the hotel her family once owned.
Favourite Part: Reading about strong independent women who fought to forge careers in a male dominated profession.
Recommendations: I would recommend A Race to Splendor to those interested in historical fiction featuring trail blazing women.

🌟🌟🌟 The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4) by Rick Riordan
Review to come.
Rating: 3/5
Percy and his friends go on a quest into the labyrinth in a bid to stop the rise of Kronos.
Favourite Part:  Grover and Tyson.
Recommendations: I would recommend this book to those who have read the previous books in the series. However I think it is best read in book format and not listened to in audio like I have been doing. After 4 books, I'm still not a big fan of the narrator.

🌟🌟🌟🌟 Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford 
Review to come.
Rating: 4/5
Henry Lee, an American of Chinese descent remembers his childhood during the war years and his forbidden friendship with a Japanese-American girl named Keiko.
Favourite Part: The beautiful relationship that Henry and Keiko form.
Recommendations: I would recommend Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet to those interested in American history during WWII after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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: 2
Total Library Books Read: 1.5
(Note: I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet in two different formats; my own eBook copy and in physical format from my library

Formats Read:

Physical Books: 1.5
eBooks: 0.5
Audio Books:

Genres Read:

Historical Fiction: 2
Fantasy: 1
Middle Grade:

Total Books Read in 2017: 5 

The Empress Holds the Key (Jack Rogan Mysteries, #2) by Gabriel Farago follows a journalist as he uncovers a lead connecting a Nazi war criminal with Swiss bank accounts, a Vatican cover-up and a middle-eastern terrorist organization. I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review. So far it is quite fast paced and exciting.

A Vote for Murder (Murder She Wrote, #22) by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain (Narrated by: Cynthia Darlow): follows the beloved mystery novelist as she is invited to the capitol for a literacy event, when a murder is committed. I'm enjoying this story in audio format, however I wish that Angela Lansbury was the narrator.

  • No Safe Harbor (Edge of Freedom, #1) by Elizabeth Ludwig 
  • Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum, #18) by Janet Evanovich 
Did you do a monthly wrap-up? If so I'd love to check out your post, so leave me a message below and I will be sure to check it out. Hope you all have a wonderful March! 

Hosted by: Book Date 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cat Thursday: February 23, 2017

Cat Thursday is a weekly meme that is hosted by True Book Addict

Last week I saw an article on Buzz Feed called "12 Slightly Weird Things All Cat Owners Have Definitely Done" and well many of the examples listed, I can relate to. Ok, all of the examples I can relate too, but most specifically the one below:


Many nights I have curled myself up in an awkward position so I don't wake my Nova up. But I have to say with my growing baby bump its getting harder to do, haha. He just looks so cute and peaceful when he sleeps.. 

How many of you can relate? 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunday Wrap-up (On a Monday): February 20, 2017

Would like to wish everyone a very happy Family Day! And what a beautiful long weekend it was. The weather was almost spring like and the snow took a major hit. It was perfect for all the winter carnivals that were being held. I know we haven't seen the last of winter yet though as it is only late February.

I managed to be somewhat productive this weekend with my household chores, but I mostly just rested as friday's doctors appointments really wore me out.

About 8 more weeks left to go! Ahhh!

My Reading Progress:
Today I finally finished listening to the 4th Percy Jackson on audio via the Overdrive app.

Thankfully I was able to enjoy it a bit more, during the last half of the book. I gave it 3 stars and my review is scheduled for March 8.

Currently Reading

I'm slowly making progress with The Empress Holds the Key and I hope to complete Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet before the end of the month.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!


Hosted by: Book Date

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware

A Race to Splendor
By: Ciji Ware

Published: April 2011
Published By: Sourcebooks Incorporated 
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5

Amelia Hunter Bradshaw returns to San Francisco in the wake of her beloved grandfather’s death, to learn that her drunkard father has lost their family hotel (her inheritance) in a poker game. As an educated and modern woman, Amelia isn’t prepared to let her precious Bay View Hotel go without a fight, even if that means taking the new owner J.D. Thayer and his conniving partner Ezra Kemp to court. Unfortunately during that time period, an unwed woman’s finances were under the control of her father and she would lose her case. Left nearly penniless, she turns to her former schoolmate Julia Morgan for a job within her architectural firm. However as fate would have it Amelia and nemesis J.D. Thayer would be thrown together again after the devastating San Francisco earthquake and fire in April of 1906. When Julia Morgan’s firm takes on the reconstruction of both the Fairmont Hotel and the Bay View, Amelia is put in charge of her former home. It is a race to splendor as the two women compete to be the first hotel on Nob Hill to open their doors on the first anniversary of the quake. Can Amelia and J.D. set aside their differences and work together amidst the ramped corruption in the “City by the Bay”?

The Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco 1906 after the earthquake and fire

I purchased this book a few years ago, but unfortunately it kept getting pushed back in my pile for other more pressing reads. I am glad that I finally took the chance to pick it up, as I really enjoyed reading Ciji Ware’s A Race to Splendor.

Julia Morgan.

I always appreciate a book that encourages me to do research on the subject at hand. In this case there were several things that caught my attention. First of which was the San Francisco earthquake and the fires that came in its wake. I’m sure the historic photos taken of the “City by the Bay” after the disaster didn’t even begin to shine a light on the devastation that occurred. Although Amelia’s story was a work of fiction there were several characters who were based on real people. Two of those such people included Julia Morgan and Donaldina Cameron. Julia Morgan was the first licensed woman architect in California and did indeed re-build the famous Fairmount Hotel. Meanwhile Donaldina Cameron was a human rights activist who rescued thousands of woman from indentured servitude in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

"She began to regard the very earth beneath her feet as unreliable and the sky a hot blanket that might soon smother them all" Pg. 95
The story moved along at a good pace and the competition between the two hotels, combined with the corruption and danger brought a lot of excitement. Ware’s descriptions of the devastation were reminiscent of a city that had been bombed. The opulence of the hotels and the wealth of the main characters added to the splendor (pun intended).

Donaldina Cameron

Another aspect of the story that I appreciated was how the author didn’t let the romance take away from the fact that Amelia was a strong, independent modern woman who was determined to forge her own path and career in a world still very much in the control of men.

I would recommend A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware to fans of historical fiction, especially those who enjoy reading about trailblazing and independent women. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Wrap-up: February 12, 2017

Hello everyone,

Writing to you from a winter wonderland. The roads might not be in the greatest condition, but is it ever beautiful outside watching the snow fall. A lot of people are sick of this weather and can't wait for Spring, but it is my favourite season of all.

This weekend I bought the furniture for our nursery. I'm looking forward to getting that all set up. I have approximately 10 weeks left until my little boy is due.

My Reading Progress:
My reading progress is coming along slowly, but then again I'm not putting any pressure on myself. I find it is much more enjoyable that way. Don't you agree?

I finished reading A Race to Splendor about 2 weeks ago. I really enjoyed this book. Much more than I expected to actually. I just love when that happens. I gave it a 4/5 rating and my review will be posted soon.

Currently Reading

The Empress Holds the Key is quite a long book and I am reading it on Kindle or PC. However it is quite fast paced, so hopefully it won't take me too long to complete.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet has been on my TBR forever. I'm happy to be finally reading it.

I finally was able to get The Battle of the Labryinth back in audio format from my local library. Even though I'm not as into this book I still plan to plow through and finish.

And thats all for today. Hope you have had a wonderful weekend.

Hosted by: Book Date

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cat Thursday: February 9 2017

Cat Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by True Book Addict

Because what goes better with books than a cuddly kitten? Not like I need an excuse to share pictures of my little guy, but its nice to be able to connect with other cat lovers. 

Here is the latest picture of my Nova.. 

A photo posted by Melissa Lee (@melissaleesmanyreads) on

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Favourite Book Covers of 2016

I know, I know, its February and I am posting another 2016 wrap-up. I honestly don't know why I didn't think to do this post a month ago, but it didn't cross my mind. So, better late than never right?

As the title suggests, today I am going to share with you some of my favourite book covers from 2016. Note that not all of these books weren't released in that specific year, but I just happened to read them in 2016.

The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore wasn't one of my favourite reads of the year, but I think that the cover is beautiful especially with the subtle inclusion of said castle near the bottom. 

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt has several covers, including one for the movie. However this one is my favourite. It depicts the secluded Tuck family home complete with two of the characters in a row boat. 

How delicious does the dessert look on the cover for Jessica L. Randall's The Obituary Society? I also love the vintage feeling it gives with the polka dot dress and the soft colour scheme. 

An Amish Family Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray shows a bright winter day, with a horse drawn buggy and red barn. I'd love to jump aboard and go for a ride.

The Gift of Friendship: Stories that Celebrate the Beauty of Shared Moments by Dawn Camp shows an ideal getaway perfect for two friends to reconnect. Lake side in a Muskoka chair with a cold drink, sounds wonderfully relaxing doesn't it? 

Which of these covers do you like the best? I'd love to hear from you, so leave me a message in the comments. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

ML's Worth a Watch: The Shack Movie Trailer

One of the most profound books I have ever read is The Shack by Wm. Paul Young.

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!
(Description from Goodreads)

At the time it was a book I never would have chosen for myself, but it was picked by my book club, so I reluctantly gave it a try. It was an absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking reading experience and worthy of a 5 star rating. 

I recently learned that it has been turned into a movie staring Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Radha Mitchell and Tim McGraw. Today I would like to share with you the movie trailer:

Personally I can't wait to see it and hope that it does the book justice. 

I'd love to know what you think.. 
Have you read The Shack? Does this look like a movie you would like to see? Leave me a comment below. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Monthly Wrap-up: January 2017

Hello everyone and welcome to my January wrap-up. I hope you all had a wonderful month. For me it was quite busy with unpacking (we moved into a new place) and doctors appointments.

I am now in the third trimester of my pregnancy and feeling great. Time sure is flying by. We have started gathering baby items and I can't wait to start putting together my little boys nursery. 11 more weeks to go!

We had some very mild weather here in Ontario this past month. There were a couple of days with heavy fog, but now it is starting to get quite cold.

Last weekend we watched the movie X-Men: Apocalypse and it was pretty good. Normally I'm not into superhero movies, but for some reason I really enjoy this franchise. Here is the trailer:

Is it just me or does James McAvoy (Professor X) look like an 80's Paul McCartney? Quicksilver is definitely my favourite character in this movie though.

I completed 2 books in January, which isn't quite up to my monthly standard, but it I did get much more reading done this month than I have in a while.

Click the links below to read my reviews:

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley 
Rating: 5/5
I loved this young adult contemporary novel about a teen who hasn't left his house in 3 years and the people who befriend him.
Favourite Part: The main character Solomon was wonderful. I was able to relate to so much in this book and re-read many parts several times.
Recommendations: I would recommend Highly Illogical Behavior to fans of young adult contemporary who are looking for a humerus novel that will make them reflect.

🌟🌟🌟.5 Skeletons in the Attic (A Marketville Mystery, #1) by Judy Penz Sheluk 
Rating: 3.5/5
This was an enjoyable mystery written by a local author. It follows a woman who inherits her childhood home and begins investigating the mysteries behind her mothers sudden disappearance.
Favourite Part: The author based the setting of this novel on a town that it nearby me. I enjoyed the familiar locations and also the Canadian references throughout.
Recommendations: I would recommend Skeletons in the Attic to those who enjoy mysteries that have a bit more meat to their bones than the typical cozy.

The Stats:

Total Number of Books Read: 2
Total Number of Fiction: 2
Total Number of Non-fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review Read: 1
Total Books Read From My Shelves: 0
Total Library Books Read: 1

Formats Read:

Physical Books: 1
eBooks: 1

Genres Read:

Young Adult: 1
Mystery: 1

Total Books Read in 2017: 2

A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware is a historical fiction set after the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. I had hoped to have this one finished to include in January's wrap-up, but I'm not quite there yet. It shouldn't take me too much longer though as I am really enjoying this story.

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4) by Rick Riordan is another one I was hoping to have finished by now. I am listening to it in audio format on my Overdrive app from my library and it expired before I got to the end. So now I'm on the waiting list to borrow it again. Hopefully it won't be too long of a wait.

  • The Empress Holds the Key by Gabriel Farago (sent for review) 
  • No Safe Harbor (Edge of Freedom, #1) by Elizabeth Ludwig
Did you do a monthly wrap-up? If so I'd love to check out your post, so leave me a message below and I will be sure to check it out. Hope you all have a wonderful (possibly romance filled) February. 

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