Review: The Secrets She Carried, Barbara Davis

TheSecrets She CarriedBlurb from Goodreads:   Though Peak Plantation has been in her family for generations, Leslie Nichols can’t wait to rid herself of the farm left to her by her estranged grandmother Maggie—and with it the disturbing memories of her mother’s death, her father’s disgrace, and her unhappy childhood. But Leslie isn’t the only one with a claim to Peak.

Jay Davenport, Peak’s reclusive caretaker, has his own reasons for holding onto the land bequeathed to him by Leslie’s grandmother. Before she died, Maggie hinted at a terrible secret surrounding Adele Laveau, a lady’s maid who came to Peak during the 1930s and died under mysterious circumstances. Jay is haunted by Maggie’s story, yet the truth eludes him—until Leslie uncovers a cryptically marked grave on the property.

As they delve into the mystery of Adele’s death, Leslie and Jay discover shocking secrets that extend deep into the roots of Leslie’s family tree—secrets that have the power to alter her life forever.

5-star

I Loved This Book!

I don’t know if I just read it at the perfect time, or if it was the perfect book or both. I read a sample and downloaded it right away. I didn’t even wait to see if it was at the library.  It is one of those books that you fall asleep reading and grab the minute you wake up.  Plus, I couldn’t walk by it without stopping to pick it up and read “just a few more” pages.  It was such a good story, and I just didn’t want to be away from the characters.  No wonder it only took me two days to finish.

The story is told by two women who lived at the same house over half a century apart.  Adele, who was a lady’s maid in the 1930s, and Leslie, who has inherited the house in the present day.

As usual with these types of novels, I absolutely loved Adele’s “historical” plot line.  It was Adele’s secrets that we needed to figure out, so reading about her story was so interesting.  Plus she was written very well.  I liked her and felt sorry for her from the first few pages.

Leslie, on the other hand, was a very modern woman.  She had her own secrets and kept herself closed off.  She had every intention to sell off the house and keep her bad memories in the past where they belonged.  As her story evolved, she opened up and I really started to like her.

The men in this novel were great too.  Henry completed Adele’s story.  They really made the best of their situation, and it was touching.  Jay was just wonderful, the kind of man any woman would love to meet and fall in love with.  I liked the level of romance.  Not too mushy or detailed, but just enough to get the point across.  Perfect.

I think the best part of this book was the way the little details came together.  Even to the end, Jay and Leslie were still finding pieces of the puzzle that was Henry and Adele’s life.

I know this was a brief review.  This is such a good story, that I don’t want to give away too much.

Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Review | Tags: , , ,

Bout of Books 9.0

boutofbooksI am officially declaring my intentions to participate in the Bout of Books 9.0!  I have wanted to do this before, and I always seem to miss it.  But not this time!  It comes at the perfect time too, right at the beginning of the year when I am refreshed and all bloggy!  My goal is to read 2 books in that time.  I know that isn’t much, but I usually read about one book a week and finishing two will be great.  I am not sure which books I will read.  I have a few to review, so it will probably be which ever ones are next.  Depends on what I get done before hand.  I am really looking forward to this read-a-thon.

Here is some more information about the Bout of Books:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Categories: Review

Where Are You Reading 2014

where are you reading 2014It’s time to start thinking about reading challenges again.  I’m not sure how many (if any) I will sign up for, but I already know that I will be participating in Where Are You Reading 2014.

Last year at this time, I saw Sheila’s map from the 2012 challenge and I was hooked.  I have tweaked it a little to fit me better (with her permission) and I had a blast keeping up my map all year long.

My goal for 2013 was 50 books.  I surpassed that (!) and as of right now I am on my 57th book.  So for 2014 I am going to aim for 60 books.  I think I can do it.

Although I didn’t try to hit all the states, I did end up visiting 13 (including Washing DC).  Not too bad.  I can’t wait to see what states I end up in for my 2014 reading.

  1. Washington
  2. California
  3. Minnesota
  4. Nebraska
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Tennessee
  7. Vermont
  8. Maine
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Virginia
  11. North Carolina
  12. Hawaii
  13. Washington DC

This reading challenge really forced me to pay attention to where novels were taking place.  Sometimes authors make up towns, so I would the map and other landmarks to pick the best spot.  Other times, the author only mentioned the locale once, and I had to make a note of it so I could mark it when I was done. Many novels moved around a lot, and I had to judge where I spent most of my time when it came to pinning my map.  I ended up learning something new about where ever I happened to be and that was a nice bonus to the story.

Here is a copy of the 2013 map.

Categories: Giveaway, Loose Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

Review: The Last Camellia, Sarah Jio

  • The Last Camellia, Sarah Jio
  • 320 pages
  • historical fiction, dual storyline
  • US release:  May 2013

last camillaSummary from Goodreads:   On the eve of World War II, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?

4-star

I felt so-so about this book, and I think my review is going to end up so-so also.  I love Sarah Jio.  I have read all of her novels and I think she is an amazing author.  I like her formula of secrets being reveled, and past and present coming together.  She does it better than most.

The plot of this novel was great.  Both Flora and Addison had something to hide, and a lot to lose.  The pace was good.  In fact, I flew through it and was shocked when I realized it was almost finished.  As usual with Ms. Jio, there were great details throughout the story that had significance later on.  And, she wrapped the whole thing up beautifully.

However, this was not one of my favorite of her’s.  To me, The Bungalow was by far her best book, and I tend to compare them all to that one.  But I didn’t enjoy this one as much.  As I was reading it, I felt detached, almost like I was reading a story instead of experiencing it, which usually doesn’t happen with her work.  Maybe the characters weren’t developed as well, and I just didn’t fall for them.  Of course I liked Flora and Desmond and Addison and her husband Rex.  But that was about it.

There was also more sinister things going on.  A flower thief with thug friends, a stalker who just happens to be an ex-con, and a string of murders.  It was very suspenseful and full of tension.  I don’t enjoy that in general and it distracted for the story for me.

In the end though I am giving this four diet cokes.  Even if it isn’t my favorite Jio novel, it was still pretty darn good.  Thank you to edelweiss for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book (which I should have done sooner).

Categories: Historical Fiction, Review | Tags: , , , , ,

Review: The Lost Sisterhood, Anne Fortier

The Lost SisterhoodBlurb from Goodreads:   The Lost Sisterhood tells the story of Diana, a young and aspiring–but somewhat aimless–professor at Oxford. Her fascination with the history of the Amazons, the legendary warrior women of ancient Greece, is deeply connected with her own family’s history; her grandmother in particular. When Diana is invited to consult on an archeological excavation, she quickly realizes that here, finally, may be the proof that the Amazons were real.

The Amazons’ “true” story–and Diana’s history–is threaded along with this modern day hunt. This historical back-story focuses on a group of women, and more specifically on two sisters, whose fight to survive takes us through ancient Athens and to Troy, where the novel reinvents our perspective on the famous Trojan War.

5-star

It is so easy for me to rate an honest to goodness five goblet book. I just know.  However, it is harder for me to write a review.  Sometimes I just want to write “perfect” and hit publish, but I know that wouldn’t make for the best review.  But that is how I feel about this book.  So I will just write about all the perfect parts of this book.

Let’s start off easy.  The cover is gorgeous and it did it’s job well.  I just had to know what the book was about.  It looks very mysterious, yet familiar at the same time.  Love it.

It is long without feeling long.  You know when you are reading a good book and you regret the end because it came too quickly?  This book doesn’t do that.  I was with these characters the perfect amount of time.  The book is 600+ pages, and even though it took me just over a week to read it, it never dragged or lost my interest.

Mythology is something new to my fiction reading. The way the author blended the myths into the “real” story was genius.

If you like to “travel” when you read, then THIS is the book for you.  I highlighted each time we changed locations and I ended up in more than different places, including Tunisia, Algeria, Crete, and Istanbul.  Each one was written so well, I felt like I was there.

It has the perfect formula for me:  two stories, from two different time periods, woven together in the end. The lives of these two women were so very different, one being a scholar and one a warrior.  But their similarities came to light as the story unfolded.  I liked Myrina best, but I looked forward to Diana’s storyline.  There were so many twists and turns, I never knew what was going to happen next

The story line was written logically, so it didn’t matter whether you were reading the present or the past… it flowed and made sense. Each time period was equally exciting and full of adventure.  For me there wasn’t anything predictable, and the twists and turns kept me glued to my iPad.

The romance aspects of the story were perfectly done.  Not too mushy or overly detailed and the relationships really added to the story.  There was also a nice touch of fantasy.  Again, no too much, but enough to make me think.

This book reminded me of The Sisterhood, by Helen Bryan.  It is more than just the title.  Both books revolved around women solving a mystery from the past.  Both moved around geographically, and spanned generations.

Thank you to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel.

Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Review | Tags: , , , , ,

Giveaway – Heartfelt Letters from Santa

Heartfelt BannerCourtesy of JKSCommunications, I am giving away one copy of Heartfelt Letters From Santa by Veronica Steck.

The magic of Christmas for children is embodied in Santa Claus. This book shows you how to capture that magic by writing a personal letter from Santa for the child or children who are special to you. Letters from Santa can describe situations your child has been in, recount good deeds he or she has done, make suggestions for improving behavior, and generally inspire your child in positive directions you see for them.

The finely crafted companion volume is where you will write this special letter each Christmas Eve, after your child has brought their book of Santa’s letters to its honored place near the Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, the whole family can gather around as your child discovers what Santa has written just for them.

As the years pass the book with these letters will grow more and more precious. It will be a chronicle of years past, and a guide for years to come.

It will:

  • Transport both the child and the family back to the special moments in life,
  • Recap major events in the child’s progression to adulthood, and,
  • Remind children of how their biggest fans have stood with them and supported them, with loving, patience, and humor.

This guide for parents and adults will provide you with excellent ideas, keyveronica steck phrases, and topic areas to consider. It will clearly assist you in writing meaningful and heartfelt letters your child – and the whole family – will love.

Veronica Steck has a beautiful website with even more information about this wonderful tradition.  Be sure to check it out.  This giveaway is open to readers in the USA only.  Please leave a comment below to enter.  On December 15th my little elves will pick a winner, and JKSCommunications will send the book right out.  Good Luck and Happy Holidays!
Categories: Children, Giveaway | Tags:

Top Ten Tuesday: Books releasing in 2014

toptentuesdayI have been waiting for this Top Ten topic for  awhile now.  Of course this ended up being the busiest week of the month for me (and it isn’t even Christmas yet).  So this is a bit late, but I still wanted to post this exciting (at least to me) list.  Some of these have been out in the UK already, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on them yet.

toptennewyeara

toptennewyearb

  1. Ravenscliffe:  A Novel, Jane Sanderson  January
  2. Hall of Secrets, Cate Campbell  January
  3. The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, Valerie Martin  January
  4. The Harem Midwife, Roberta Rich  February
  5. The Sea House, Elisabeth Gifford  April
  6. Ember Island, Kimberley Freeman  April
  7. The Forgotten Seamstress, Liz Trenow  May
  8. Goodnight June, Sarah Jio  May
  9. One Hundred Names, Cecelia Ahern  May
  10. Chateau of Secrets, Melanie Dobson  May

OMG, these covers are just beautiful.  Some of them have other covers (for other editions) that do absolutely nothing for them.  I think that I am looking forward to The Forgotten Seamstress and The Sea House the most.

What’s on you Top Ten 2014 list?  Head over to The Broke and the Bookish and let us know.

Categories: Weekly | Tags: , ,

Quickie Review: The Last Telegram, Liz Trenow

The Last TelegramI have tried to write this review like four times already.  I know that it is an “older” book with many reviews out there, but I loved it so much that I couldn’t NOT review it.  So, folks… here’s my quickie:

  • The Last Telegram, Liz Trenow
  • 413 pages
  • Originally released September 2012
  • Historical Fiction

Summary from Goodreads:  Decades ago, as Nazi planes dominated the British sky, eighteen-year-old Lily Verner made a terrible mistake. She’s tried for decades to forget, but now an unexpected event pulls her back to the 1940s British countryside. She finds herself remembering the brilliant, lustrous colors of the silk she helped to weave at her family’s mill, the relentless pressure of the worsening war, and the kind of heartbreaking loss that stops time.  5-star There is so much that I liked about this book.  Not one thing stood out above the others, but I think that is what made it so perfect for me.  Everything put together made it a five goblet read.

To start, it checked all the boxes for me.  WWII, England, dual story lines, little bit of romance, strong friendships, and a huge secret.  The story starts out in the present, just after Lily buries her husband.  However, the reader doesn’t find out exactly who she married until the end of the book.  Right after that, we move back to the WWII era, and the story really takes off.

I loved the characters.  Harold, Lily’s dad is the perfect father.  He is loving, successful, calm and caring.  He was respected by his employees, and he had a wonderful relationship with his family.  It was because of him, and Lily’s brother John, that Stefen and his two friends came to live and work at the mill. The relationships in this novel were written really well.  Lily was close with her family, and Gwen, an employee at the mill.  She also stayed close with her childhood best friend, Vera.  Of course, the best relationship was between Stefen and Lily.  It was so tender and sweet, but real at the same time.

As with most historical fiction, this book taught me a little about the era.  I had forgetten that even German Jews living in England were considered a threat, and shipped off to Austrailia.  It was shocking to think that those boys who were able to escape Germany in enough time, ended up being imprisoned after all.

This novel also taught me a great deal about the history silk.  Each chapter started with an excerpt from Harold’s unpublished book about silk.  Plus, the daily The Forgotten Seamstressactivities of this family centered around the production of silk, and eventually parachute silk for the war. Silk is woven so differently now, but it took real talent and commitment to create the beautiful cloth at that time.

Some reviews say that the ending was predictable, but I either didn’t think so or didn’t care.  I loved this book from the beginning to the end. I didn’t want to put it down and the 413 pages flew by. Yes, it was bittersweet, but I was sad to see it to end.   I am so looking forward to starting Ms. Trenow’s next book, The Forgotten Seamstress.

Murfreesboro Book Blogger Store

Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Review

Kat McGee and the School of Christmas Spirit

School of Christmas SpritBlurb from Goodreads:  If Kat McGee had one Christmas wish, she’d wish to be special. Instead, she’s the boring middle in a family packed with sparkly siblings, including three sisters who have all starred as Mary in Totsville, Maine’s annual big-deal Christmas Pageant. All Kat’s done is wet her pants on a rollercoaster and earn herself the horrible nickname, “Kat McPee.” When she doesn’t get the part of Mary, Kat’s convinced that Christmas will be just another Kat McPee failure.  But then Kat’s beloved Gram lets it slip that she went to school with Mrs. Claus. THE Mrs. Claus. Before Kat knows it, a magical snowglobe whisks her away to the North Pole, where she makes friends, checks naughty and nice lists, and takes classes in cookie baking, reindeer training, and toy designing. It’s a Christmas miracle…  But something is wrong. The North Pole is being threatened, and only Kat can help. Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit is about a modern girl in a magical adventure. Kat is about to learn who you can be if you believe in Christmas… and yourself.

4-star

If you follow my blog at all, you will know that I don’t review kids books.  Don’t get me wrong, I love kids books.  I have about a zillion in my house, from picture books and easy readers, right up to young adult.  I read to my youngest daughter, and I help her along with her reading for school.  But, they are just not a focus of my blog.  However, there is a first time for everything.  When I was contacted about this book, I was intrigued.  The cover was adorable.  The reading level was perfect for my youngest.  I was getting into the holiday spirit.  I found myself responding with a huge YES and I am glad I did.

Kat McGee could not seem to find her place in her family, her school, or her community.  But in the North Pole she is able to be herself, and the students and elves really like her.  Santa and Mrs Clause believe in her, and as a result, she begins to flourish.  She loves her lessons and is committed to spreading the Christmas spirit.  I loved watching her gain confidence as her time in the North Pole went along.

The backbone of the School of Christmas Spirit is the 4 tenets.

  1. Worthiness: “We must value ourselves before we can value anything else.”
  2. Wisdom: “You can’t label people based on a few seconds of their life.”
  3. Wonder: “… is curiosity in its purest form.”
  4. Whimsy: “… is what happens when you allow yourself to be the person you are naturally.”

As Kat learns and applies the four tenants, she realizes that she possessed wisdom far greater than she originally thought.  She was able to use her knowledge and new self confidence to save Christmas.

This book is adorable.  Each chapter starts with a cute, colorful drawing of an elf. The chapters are the perfect length, especially for reading before bedtime. But, the message is where this book really shines.  It may sound deep, but it is also very funny.  It kept my attention, and my 6 year olds too. The details Ms. Munsterer threw in were wonderful.  Elf names, such as Chip, Scoogie, and Nickle are cute.  Parents will love the concierge elf who brings breakfast to the dorm in the morning.  Who wouldn’t love breakfast that includes yummy and nutritious (at least for the north Pole) candy fruit:

“It has a hundred percent of your daily Vitamin C. Plus Vitamin V for self-confidence, Vitamin X for willpower, Vitamin Y for your creativity… and Vitamin Z for a little luck.”KatMcGee

And, if you are lucky enough to read this book, you will be able to make candy fruit for your kids.  Ms. Munsterer has included a copy of the recipe after the last chapter.  The recipe sounds wonderful and was custom made for this book by Tom Colicchio and Umber Ahmad’s Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery.

Kick of your holiday season with Kat McGee and the School of Christmas Spirit, and be sure add the wonderful candy fruit to your holiday traditions.

Categories: Fiction, Review | Tags: ,

Book Beginnings: The Last Telegram, Liz Trenow

BB_ButtonBook Beginnings, is hosted by Rose City Reader.  Join in and share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are currently reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

  • The Last Telegram, Liz Trenow
  • 413 pages
  • women’s historical fiction
  • published September 2012

The Last Telegram“Perhaps because death leaves so little to say, funeral guests seem to take refuge in platitudes. “He had a good innings…Splendid send-off…Very moving service…Such beautiful flowers…You are so wonderfully brave, Lily.”
It’s not bravery: my squared shoulders, head held high, that careful expression of modesty and gratitude. Not bravery, just determination to survive today and, as soon as possible, get on with what remains of my life. The body in the expensive coffin, lined with Verners’ silk and decorated with lilies and now deep in the ground, is not the man I’ve loved and shared my life with for the past fifty-five years.”

I downloaded this book awhile ago, but never got around to reading it.  I saw that Ms. Trenow has her second novel coming out next year and I figured that I had better read her first one soon.  I started it yesterday, and did not want to put it down (which is hard considering that I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner).  It is a great story, and I hope to finish it this weekend.  Wish me luck.Blurb from Amazon: Decades ago, as Nazi planes dominated the sky, Lily Verner made a terrible choice. She’s tried to forget, but now an unexpected event pulls her back to the 1940s British countryside. She finds herself remembering the brilliant colors of the silk she helped to weave at her family’s mill, the relentless pressure of the worsening war, and the kind of heartbreaking loss that stops time.

So what do you think of the sentences?  Would you keep reading?

Categories: Uncategorized, Weekly | Tags: , ,

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