Wishing I Could Read You For The First Time #BEspring19

Bookending Spring2019 with frame

The daily topic today is, Wishing I could read you or the first time, hosted by Clo @ Book Dragons.  If you would like more information on the Bookending Spring event, it is hosted by Sam at FictionallySam and Clo at Book Dragons. Stop by and check it out. 

Wishing I Could Read You For The First Time

I can honestly say I have never reread a book before. It hasn’t been something I have thought about much as there seems to always be a great new book that I want to read. But, if I were to reread a book, I think that I would reread Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and Gone with the Wind. These three books have been by far my favorite reads and I wouldn’t mind sitting down to read them again, to enjoy them as if it were the first time I was reading them. That would be time well spent.

i love you GIF by Disney Pixar

What book or books would you want to reread as if it were the first time?

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Blogmas #5: Goodreads Choice Awards

Yesterday Goodreads released the results of the 10th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards.  It’s “the only major book awards decided by readers.”(Goodreads)  There were a total of 5,027,741 votes cast!

I was so excited to see Stephen King’s book, The Outsider, as one of the winners! I bought the book as soon as it came out and it has been on my list to read since. It is such a large book that it seems a bit overwhelming when I have a bunch of other books that I need to read before their publication dates.  I want to be able to sit down and enjoy reading it and not feel rushed.  So, for now, it will stay on my TBR list, but I can’t wait to read it!

Below you will find some of the winners.  If you would like to see the complete list of winners and all the nominees, stop on over to Goodreads (click here)

The Outsider by Stephen KingCategory: Best Mystery & Thriller

The Winner: The Outsider by Stephen King

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

(Summary & Image from Amazon)

The Great Alone by Kristin HannahCategory: Best Historical Fiction

The Winner: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Cora will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, has little choice but to go along, daring to hope this new land promises her family a better future.

In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the newcomers’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own.

(Summary & Image from Amazon)

The Kiss Quotient by Helen HoangCategory: Romance

The Winner: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

(Summary & Image from Amazon)

Elevation by Stephen KingCategory: Best Horror

The Winner: Elevation by Stephen King

The latest from legendary master storyteller Stephen King, a riveting, extraordinarily eerie, and moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together—a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences. 

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

(Summary & Image from Amazon)

I'll Be Gone In the Dark by Michelle McNamaraCategory: Best Nonfiction

The Winner: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

The haunting true story of the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California during the 70s and 80s, and of the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case—which was solved in April 2018.

Introduction by Gillian Flynn • Afterword by Patton Oswalt

“A brilliant genre-buster…. Propulsive, can’t-stop-now reading.”   —Stephen King

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle’s dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.

(Summary & Image from Amazon)

Educated, A Memoir by Tara WestoverCategory: Best Memoir & Autobiography

The Winner: Educated by Tara Westover

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

“Beautiful and propulsive . . . Despite the singularity of [Tara Westover’s] childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up?”—Vogue

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

(Summary & Image from Amazon)

Congratulations to all the winners!  

Did your favorites win? 

Book Review: Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach

Book Cover image for Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach

Author: Michelle Peach

Print Length: 327 pages

ISBN: 9780692112762

Genre: Historical Fiction, Espionage,  Travel

Buy it here: Amazon
*Source: I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.



In the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth, a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University, travels to Damascus to immerse herself in the Syrian language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easily slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren’t always as they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and a murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police.

Praise for Michelle Peach’s Gazelle in the Shadows:

“Compellingly realistic and packed with both psychological and physical action, Gazelle in the Shadows adds an extra layer of cultural understanding to its espionage thriller theme.” -D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“Michelle Peach brings Syrian culture and cityscapes to life with her descriptions and characters… the author is able to accurately capture a specific moment in Middle Eastern history that still has ramifications on modern-day Syrians. For those looking for a glimpse into new cultures with a taste of a spy thriller, Gazelle in the Shadows will both warm your heart and send shivers down your spine.” -Red City Review

“Gazelle in the Shadows is both a coming of age story and a reflection of life in the looking glass world of Hafez al-Asad’s Syria. While told through an intensely personal lens, Michelle’s story provides a sideways look at a Syria that is now gone but also hints at some of the underlying factors that contributed to the country’s ongoing agonies. The book is an unusual combination of bittersweet student memories, geopolitical machinations, and “factionalised” adventures; well worth a read.”– Dr Andrew Rathmell, Author of Secret War in the Middle East: The Covert Struggle For Syria 1949 -1961

My Thoughts

In reflection, as I sat down to read this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew it had received good reviews, but I still wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.  Gazelle in the Shadows did not disappoint!

After I read this book I was ready to sit down and write the review and after prepping my review I realized I couldn’t write the review. Not at that moment. I realized I needed time to let this book sink in, and to gather my thoughts on this book. It is now a week later that I feel I am ready to write my review.

This book was fascinating.  

The characters of this book were well developed and drew me in from the beginning. Right off the bat,  I knew I didn’t like Hussein.  He seemed too nice and too accommodating to Elizabeth. After a while, I couldn’t help to think that he was grooming her for something, but I wasn’t sure what. As for Elizabeth, it seemed that she was extremely nieve.  She had no idea what she was in for in her travels. There were red flags along the way that she seemed to almost choose to ignore.  That naivety leads to intense situations that could have turned out poorly for her.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

As I read this book, I couldn’t help but feel unsettled. As a mom of a college student, the want and need for an adventure of a growing child, a need to figure out who they are and find their way in this world, I always hope they remember that on their journey, not everyone is who they appear to be. Elizabeth, struck this cord with me as I felt like I wanted to protect her, urging her to be careful and think critically of the niceties that just so happened to be falling in her lap. I had heard someone once say, and for the life of me can’t remember who, but in the past, we used to be able to trust people and take niceties at face value. However, nowadays, it appears that we have to be skeptical of anyone’s behavior until proven otherwise. Only until a person proves they are trustworthy, can you trust them.

It’s a paradigm shift. 

This book immerses the reader and gives them the experience of learning the cultural ideals of this region. The control that men, the government, and even the opposition to the government have.  It portrays a culture of fear and mistrust.  It is not something that many have thought to be apart of as Elizabeth experienced.

I highly recommend this book!



About the Author

Michelle-Peach-Author-Headshot-300x300Michelle Peach graduated from Durham University in 1995 with a B.A. in Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. During 1992, she spent her second year of college studying abroad at the Arabic Teaching Institute for Foreigners in Damascus. Since then, Michelle’s love for Syria has never been far from her thoughts. When the unrest began in 2011, her determination to start writing Gazelle in the Shadows intensified. “I was distraught and appalled by the suffering of the people and by the destruction of its historical sites in Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, Homs, Damascus and elsewhere. I know that many will not have the opportunity to see the sights of Syria due to the ongoing conflict, but I hope that through my story readers can enjoy the cities, landscapes and culture of Syria.”

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I want to thank Michelle Peach, and Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services for the opportunity to read and review Gazelle in the Shadows. It was a delight!