Getting Personal #271: Twentieth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Mommy and the Books

Welcome back!

Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR post:

  1. Elliott, T.E., Service and Slumber: A Historical Tale Inspired by Sleeping Beauty (The Beast’s Legacy Book 2) — Review coming soon!
  2. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch — Review coming soon!
  3. Skloot, Rebecca, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  4. Yee, Lisa, Lea Dives In

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. Mlynowski, Sarah, I See London, I See France
  2. Owens, Delia, Where The Crawdads Sing

Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Bethell, CM, Forged in Fire Book Two – Ayden (The Guardians Series 2)
  2. Cervantes, Angela, Lead With Your Heart (World By Us series)
  3. Cullen, Dave, Parkland: Birth of a Movement
  4. Davis, Michael, Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street
  5. Land, Stephanie, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
  6. Macy, Beth, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
  7. Patrick, Denise Lewis, See Me, Hear Me, Know Me (World By Us series)
  8. Rosen, L.C., Jack of Hearts (and other parts)
  9. Wyeth, Sharon Dennis, The River and Me (World By Us series)

So, my current TBR is nine (9) books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #97: “The Breach: Devon” (The Guardians Series Book One)

I met the author, C.M. Bethell, in a Facebook group for writers. She made a post that she was looking for readers, and I commented with interest. She messaged me, I gave her my address, and her first two books arrived on my doorstep very quickly a few months ago.

Thank you, C.M., for sending the books my way.


It took me a lot longer than anticipated to get into this book. I’m not a massive fantasy fan, never have been. However, once I got into Bethell’s first book, I started to appreciate it better. She’s a good world builder. I love the concept of the Guardians and how they are sworn to protect. And putting them on a modern Earth was cool to see.

—-

The incorporation of Gaelic is interesting, and great for world building. But it’s not my favorite thing. It really threw me in the beginning, and it was hard to follow throughout the book. It was almost distracting.

—-

I liked the portal concept and traveling between two worlds plot point immediately.

I also really liked, and was surprised by, the super slow burn romance between two of the characters. I wasn’t expecting that. It was surprising and refreshing. This was the biggest plot point that held my interest and moved the book along for me.

—-

The one thing that really slowed me down was I felt like I was reading several different books in this one book/arc. It was hard to keep up with the menagerie of characters, although from the title and blurb, it’s made clear that Devon is the main character. Or is he really?

Also, this first book is well over 400 pages. In one way, that’s impressive that this author wrote an almost 450-page book for the first one in a series. However, it also has a lot of drawbacks. I felt like this book was a freaking marathon and the finish line kept moving farther away. I kept putting it down and coming back to it days later, not wanting to or excited to power through it.

It’s almost too much detail, too much story, and it was exhausting sometimes to reach the end of one chapter. There are some chapters that are great and invigorating, and others are really boring and a slog to get through.

—-

I wanted to give this book more stars in terms of a rating, but I just can’t do it. I found myself enjoying the book less and less over time. There are chapters and moments that shine through, but as a whole it’s really long and a bit confusing. I think this one book could have easily been split into two full books as part of the series.

Despite my issues with the first book, I’m going to read and review the second book in the series. I hope to have that review posted here on the blog soon.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth

Book Review #96: “Lea Dives In”

American Girl books are great pick-me-ups! Whenever I’m in a reading slump or struggling to pick the next book, an American Girl book usually sets me right. I found Lea Dives In at my local library.

Lea was the Girl of the Year for 2016. I remember falling in love with the doll and her collection. And the books sounded magical – Traveling and seeing a new country? Yes, please!

Lea’s brother, Zac, is studying abroad in Brazil. Lea and her parents are going to spend a week there! Lea is excited, but also nervous and a bit sad. She’s grieving the recent loss of a dear family member, and she knows she’s changed since Zac left for college a few years earlier. It’s great how this book addresses multiple real-world challenges in less than 100 pages.

I loved Lea as a character, she reminded me of me around her age. I love the richness of the culture, too, and how the author paid attention to detail with mixing English and Portuguese, one of the languages spoken in Brazil. I’ve always appreciated that about American Girl in general – Both the historical and modern stories try really hard to educate readers on different cultures and time periods. There’s even a glossary in the back of the book with pronunciations!

I’m excited to read book 2 – Lea Leads The Way. There’s also a third book, Lea and Camila.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #251: “50 Masterpieces You Have to Read Before You Die, Volume 1” (Book 1 – “Little Women”)

Image Credit: Amazon

Welcome back!


The first book on the list was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Originally, I was excited. The first and last time I read Little Women was for one of my first presentations / projects in Mr. Degnan’s ninth grade English class, circa fall 2003.

However, now, I don’t quite understand how I remember enjoying Little Women back then. This was a tough read, even with the illustrated version! Nothing against Alcott, but the writing style threw me off almost immediately. I got through the first 60 pages, and found myself setting it aside. I picked it up again, and slowly made my way to the end. But it was painful.

I do enjoy the relationships among the March women, especially during the time period of the Civil War. They all miss their father. But, they also enjoy their lives as best they can. It was fun to watch these girls become “little women” over time. As an only child, this book made think of what it would be like to be in a bigger family.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Kimberly and I are ready to move on to Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.


Have you read Little Women?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #243: Eighteenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Good Housekeeping

Welcome back!

Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR Recap:

  1. Alcott, Louisa May, Little Women: The Original, Classic Novel (Illustrated, Unabridged) — Writing prompt post coming soon!
  2. Atkinson, Deanna, Be Still and Know: A Month of Meditation — Review coming soon!
  3. Elliott, T.E., Loved By The Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
  4. Harr, Jonathan, A Civil Action *Re-Read* — Review coming soon!
  5. Hertz, Kellen, Courtney Changes The Game
  6. Hertz, Kellen, Courtney: Friendship Superhero
  7. Kotb, Hoda, This Just Speaks to Me: Words to Live By Every Day — Review coming soon!

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. Rose, Rebecca, Love, Politics, and Survival: A Whitefield Family Narrative Book One

Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Hakesley, Faith, Glimmers of Grace: Moments of Peace and Healing Following Sexual Abuse
  2. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  3. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give

Adding to the TBR

  1. Johnson, Maureen, Truly Devious: A Mystery
  2. Rosen, L.C., Camp

So, my current TBR is five (5) books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 

Writing Prompt #250: “50 Masterpieces You Have to Read Before You Die, Volume 1” (Introduction Post)

Image Credit: Amazon

I’ve partnered with a friend, Kimberly, from a great Facebook group called The Book Drunkard, to read through Volumes 1 and 2!

The goal is to explore as many books as possible – I’m excited!


Here’s the list of the first 50 books:

Alcott, Louisa May: Little Women

Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice

Austen, Jane: Emma

Balzac, Honoré de: Father Goriot

Barbusse, Henri: The Inferno

Brontë, Anne: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre

Brontë, Emily: Wuthering Heights

Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Tarzan of the Apes

Butler, Samuel: The Way of All Flesh

Carroll, Lewis: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Cather, Willa: My Ántonia

Cervantes, Miguel de: Don Quixote

Chopin, Kate: The Awakening

Cleland, John: Fanny Hill

Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone

Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness

Conrad, Joseph: Nostromo

Cooper, James Fenimore: The Last of the Mohicans

Crane, Stephen: The Red Badge of Courage

Cummings, E. E.: The Enormous Room

Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe

Defoe, Daniel: Moll Flanders

Dickens, Charles: Bleak House

Dickens, Charles: Great Expectations

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor: Crime and Punishment

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor: The Idiot

Doyle, Arthur Conan: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Dreiser, Theodore: Sister Carrie

Dumas, Alexandre: The Three Musketeers

Dumas, Alexandre: The Count of Monte Cristo

Eliot, George: Middlemarch

Fielding, Henry: Tom Jones

Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary

Flaubert, Gustave: Sentimental Education

Ford, Ford Madox: The Good Soldier

Forster, E. M.: A Room With a View

Forster, E. M.: Howards End

Gaskell, Elizabeth: North and South

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von: The Sorrows of Young Werther

Gogol, Nikolai: Dead Souls

Gorky, Maxim: The Mother

Haggard, H. Rider: King Solomon’s Mines

Hardy, Thomas: Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter

Homer: The Odyssey

Hugo, Victor: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hugo, Victor: Les Misérables

Huxley, Aldous: Crome Yellow

James, Henry: The Portrait of a Lady

Keep an eye out for new Writing Prompt posts as I read through these books!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #92: “Loved By The Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast”

I received my copy of this book for free from the author. I’m excited to read more from her!

This is Elliott’s debut novel, but you wouldn’t know it. She immerses you in early 18th century France instantly. The hardest part for me was not picturing the movies!

I loved Lea and Audric. I also appreciated Elliott weaving in their families, and their elaborate histories. It was so charming and special, like I was dropped into an actual history book and enveloped in a warm embrace the entire time. I had a really hard time putting it down. It took me a long time to finish it, but every single chapter kept me wanting to read the next one.

Even better, Loved by the Beast is the first in a trilogy called The Beast’s Legacy. I’m looking forward to reading Book 2, Service and Slumber: A Historical Tale Inspired by Sleeping Beauty very soon. The third book, A Gentle Pursuit, is slated to be published soon.


Have you read any historical retellings?

Do you enjoy fairy tales?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #236: Seventeenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Mommy and the Books

Welcome back!


Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR recap:

  1. King, Stephen, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft *Re-Read*

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. Weilert, Benjamin M., Buried Colony (ARC)
  2. Westover, Tara, Educated
  3. Whitehead, Colson, The Underground Railroad *Re-Read*
  4. Whitehead, Colson, The Nickel Boys

Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Harr, Jonathan, A Civil Action *Re-Read*
  2. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  3. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give

Adding to the TBR

  1. Atkinson, Deanna, Be Still and Know: A Month of Meditation
  2. Hakesley, Faith, Glimmers of Grace: Moments of Peace and Healing Following Sexual Abuse
  3. Kotb, Hoda, This Just Speaks to Me: Words to Live By Every Day
  4. Rose, Rebecca, Love, Politics, and Survival: A Whitefield Family Narrative Book One

So, my current TBR is seven (7) books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #226: Sixteenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Good Housekeeping

Welcome back!


Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR recap:

  1. Elliott, T.E., Loved by the Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. DiAngelo, Robin, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
  2. Wilkinson, Lauren, American Spy
  3. Zailckas, Koren, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood *Re-Read*

Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  2. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give
  3. Weilert, Benjamin M., Buried Colony (ARC)
  4. Westover, Tara, Educated
  5. Whitehead, Colson, The Underground Railroad *Re-Read*
  6. Whitehead, Colson, The Nickel Boys

Adding to the TBR

  1. Harr, Jonathan, A Civil Action *Re-Read*
  2. King, Stephen, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft *Re-Read*

So, my current TBR is 8 books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #91: “Just Mercy”

I was fortunate enough to find my copy through a friend’s store on eBay. I’d heard about the book for a good while, and knew I wanted to see the movie. But, I’m the type of person that likes to read the book before seeing the movie.

Bryan Stevenson is an incredible man. This book is not only a memoir, but a history lesson.

Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School, moved to Atlanta, and then heard about a man on death row named Walter McMillan. He moved to Alabama to run the Southern Center for Human Rights operation in Montgomery. He is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). As of August 2016, EJI has saved 125 men from death.

It took me a lot longer than usual to finish this book. I wanted to take my time with it. Ever since the murder of George Floyd in May, I’ve wanted to learn as much as I can about people of color. This book is no exception – Stevenson writes about the appalling history of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, disproportionate arrests and heavy sentences, and the struggle of getting relief and overturned convictions for significant sentences, along with wrongfully imprisoned people.

Stevenson’s stories of these people on death row in multiple states, mostly men, but also a few women, were heartbreaking. Some were sentenced to death for crimes that were committed when they were children. Others were prosecuted to the maximum, when the laws that should have shielded them were blatantly ignored. There are more than a few people with physical and intellectual disabilities on death row in the United States.

This is a book that I think everyone should read. Even though it was published in 2014, it is definitely still relevant today.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation soon.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂