Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: The Lost and the Blind by Declan Burke

Hardcover, 240 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2015 by Severn House Publishers      
ISBN :0727884646 (ISBN13: 9780727884640)
From Goodreads: 
This gripping Irish thriller is an intriguing new departure for comic noir writer Declan Burke."
A dying man, if he is any kind of man, will live beyond the law. The elderly German, Karl Uxkull, was senile or desperate for attention. Why else would he concoct a tale of Nazi atrocity on the remote island of Delphi, off the coast of Donegal? And why now, 60 years after the event, just when Irish-American billionaire Shay Govern has tendered for a prospecting licence for gold in Lough Swilly?
Journalist Tom Noone doesn t want to know. With his young daughter Emily to provide for, and a ghost-writing commission on Shay Govern s autobiography to deliver, the timing is all wrong. Besides, can it be mere coincidence that Karl Uxkull s tale bears a strong resemblance to the first thriller published by legendary spy novelist Sebastian Devereaux, the reclusive English author who has spent the past 50 years holed up on Delphi?
But when a body is discovered drowned, Tom and Emily find themselves running for their lives, in pursuit of the truth that is their only hope of survival.

 My thoughts: For a book that is billed as a thriller, this one just did not do it for me. That's almost strange because I love books set in Ireland and I love conspiracy theories. Nazi characters involvement in a story fascinate me for some bizarre reason. So, all told, this should have been right up my alley. Wrong!

I found the pace excruciatingly slow, the characters not well developed and the thriller bits were somewhat MIA. My attention kept wandering. This type of book should have had me spellbound and riveted to the pages. Sadly, that did not happen.

I hate to write a negative review but honesty is my primary goal This is just MY experience with the book, you however might love it. Sorry, but this one garners the "meh" 2** rating from me.

Declan Burke is a Goodreads author and can be found on his page here

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Severn House Publishers/Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: Meadowlands: A World War I Family Saga by Elizabeth Jeffrey


Hardcover, 224 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2015 by Severn House Publishers

ISBN: 0727884697 (ISBN13: 9780727884695)
From Goodreads:
The comfortable, upper-class lives of the aristocratic Barsham family are set to change forever with the onset of World War I."
August, 1914. The silver wedding celebrations of Sir George Barsham, MP, and his wife, Lady Adelaide, are overshadowed by the declaration of war with Germany. Over the following months, as the male estate workers head for the Front and the maids disappear to work in the newly-opened munitions factory, the Barsham family s comfortable, aristocratic lifestyle is set to change forever.
Determined to do his bit for King and country, James Barsham enlists as an officer and heads for Flanders, leaving Lady Adelaide s maid Polly devastated. To Lady Adelaide s dismay, her younger daughter Millie learns to drive an ambulance: a most unladylike skill. Meanwhile Millie s sister Gina finds fulfilment in helping the local wives and children, left destitute while their husbands are away fighting.
During the course of the war, with devastating loses, the strength of character of the four Barsham siblings will be tested as never before. They will encounter hardship, danger, heartache and unexpected love.

My Thoughts:. With the popularity of Downton Abby, a historical drama on PBS,it seems there have been quite a few books set during the same WWI timeframe all with all the same "upstairs downstairs" themes and characters seemingly from the same mold. I swear I've read about a butler ironing the newspaper over and over. I still remember Mr. Hudson from Upstairs, Downstairs, ( PBS drama from the 1970's) ironing the newspaper.  So . . . . . .

I started out thinking this was going to be one big clichéd story but then found myself engrossed in the book right away. I anxious to see what happened with all the  characters especially Polly, James and Gina. I think the author did a credible job with the historical bits and feel of the time, especially the effects of wartime hardship on poor families. It is hard to imagine what those  injured soldiers and their families went through but Ms. Jeffrey really brought these tragic circumstances to life.

Okay, so a few bits were a tad predictable, and yes, Lady Adelaide was more than just a bit annoying, I still enjoyed the book immensely. If you're a fan of romance, family drama, historical/WWI stories or British fiction, this could be the book for you. 4****

Elizabeth Jeffrey was born and grew up in Wivenhoe, the village of her parents and grandparents. Far from being born with a quill in her hand, Elizabeth didn't start serious writing until after her children were born, beginning with short stories - on the premise that not so much paper was wasted if they were rejected! She won first prize in a short story competition run by the Daily Express, which led to an invitation to write for Mills & Boon. This was a useful stepping stone and after publishing five titles for them she moved on to writing historical novels. Her third novel, Cassie Jordan, was short-listed for Angel Prize for East Anglian writers and later The Buttercup Fields (under the title. The Chair Mender,) was short-listed for the very first Catherine Cookson prize. She has written over 15 novels. http://www.severnhouse.com/author/Elizabeth+Jeffrey/9433   Author info from Severn House Publishers website.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Severn House Publishers/Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Murder Tightly Knit by Vannetta Chapman

Murder Tightly Knit (Amish Village Mystery #2) 

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published December 6th 2014 by HarperCollins Publishing

From Goodreads:

"In a town where Amish and Englisch mingle every day, a grisly murder leads to mutual suspicion. Can Amber and Hannah find the killer before fear unravels the community . . . or he strikes again?

Even before she heard of Owen Esch’s death, Hannah Troyer knew something was amiss at The Cat’s Meow yarn shop. The store has been closing at odd times, the ever-dependable Mary isn’t always at her post . . . and an Englisch man h as been seen loitering around back.

Now, as leaves of brown, gold, and orange blanket Middlebury, Indiana, Owen lies dead on the Pumpkinvine Trail. The only clues to the murderer’s identity point in two very different directions—one of them leading right to The Cat’s Meow.

The police call in a federal investigator, but Hannah and Village manager Amber Bowman are in no mood to wait for them to figure out what they already know—that no one from the Amish Village could have killed Owen Esch.

Amber and Hannah will need to work quickly to solve the murder mystery and bring harmony back to the Amish community."

My thoughts: Even though my first love in reading is a good mystery, in the last few years I have become very enamored of Amish fiction. Mix the two together and you have a winner! One of the best writers of this genre is Vannetta Chapman. She does both equally well.

One mark of a good mystery writer is the inclusion of several viable suspects and Chapman is quite adept at this. Of her six mysteries I have read, all of them have enough red herrings and suspects to keep the reader guessing. Isn't this the fun of reading a whodunit?

Murder Tightly Knit is the second book in the series. Readers do not need to have read the first, although I would recommend it as it was a very enjoyable read. Either book can stand alone. A very enjoyable read earning the 4**** rating from me.

Vannetta Chapman is the author of numerous works of Christian fiction featuring members of the Amish community. For more information, visit her at www.VannettaChapman.com or blog with her at http://vannettachapman.wordpress.com/. She can also be found at http://www.facebook.com/VannettaChapmanBooks...

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by HarperCollins/NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell


Paperback, 432 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by Sourcebooks Landmark

original title: The Unexpected Consequences of Love
ISBN: 1492602086 (ISBN13: 9781492602088)
From Goodreads:

Sophie has no interest in finding love. But what happens when love finds her?

Sophie Wells is a successful photographer with a focus on putting the past firmly behind her. When Josh Strachan returns to the seaside town of Cornwall from the States to run his family's hotel, he can't understand why the fun, sexy girl has zero interest in letting him-or any man for that matter-into her life. He also can't understand how he's been duped into employing Sophie's impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited. Both girls remain mum about the reasons behind Sophie's indifference to love. But that doesn't mean Josh is going to quit trying...
My thoughts : I have never read a Jill Mansell book that I didn't care for. I think I've read just about every book she has written and I've loved them all, a few more than others, but still they are all enjoyable reads. One of Mansell's strong points is her ability to write with her heart and still inject some (okay, lots) of humor into the situations. Every story has more than just a few "laugh out loud" moments. Some of the situations her characters get into just make me chuckle as they are so easy to imagine. Mansell is extremely adroit at bringing farce to life.

In her latest, The Unexpected Consequences of Love, several of the characters find out that love endures even when you think it's not possible. The main character, Sophie, tries to shut off her emotions after a bad situation with her ex-husband but she finds this is not as easy to do as she first thought. I really liked Dot, the older character, who learns that age is not immune to love nor is it as easy to forego especially when a fluke incident puts someone's life is in danger.

I really enjoyed Mansell's book and would highly recommend her to anyone who likes chick-lit, humorous British fiction or contemporary romance. There's something for everyone in her books! 4****

Jill Mansell, author of numerous books, can be found on her page.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Sourcebooks/Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Read in 2015

Here is where I plan to keep a record of books read and to be read. Once I finish the book it will be rated. If there is no rating, it means I just want to read that book in that month.
Ratings criteria or what I call the "put down, pick up factor":
  • 1* put it down and leave it down, couldn't stand it, best used as a paperweight, doorstop or kindling.
  • 2* meh, could take it or leave it but mostly leave it. I could put it down and not care if I picked it up again or not
  • 3* okay enjoyable read, although I liked it, I could put it down easily and not rush back to continue
  • 4* I really liked this one, I could put it down but reluctantly and was anxious to get back to it
  • 5* Loved it! Couldn't put it down and if I absolutely had to ( if something was on fire or flooding) I couldn't wait to get back to it.

  1. Wrapped in Death and Chocolate by C.S. Patra (kindle) 1*
  2. The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell (NG)  4****
  3. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin (ccls/digital) 4****
  4. Amish Summer by Kristina Ludwig (kindle) 1.5*
  5. Careless in Red by Elizabeth George (pb) 3***
  6. The Red Rooster  by Michael Wallace  (kindle) 4****
  7. Blackbird, Fly by Lise McLendon (kinde) 3.5***
  8. Eggs in a Casket by Laura Childs? (kindle) 3***
  9. A Whole New Light by Sandra Brown (pb) 2**
  10. The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro  (nook) $1.93 4****
  11. The Siren of Paris by David Leroy  (kindle ) 3***
  12. Dead Before Morning by Geraldine Evans (pb) 4****
  13. Out Cold by William Tapply 3.5***
  14. My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer  (nook) 3***
  15. Midnight Promises by Sherryl Woods (pb) 4****
  16. Murder Tightly Knit by Vannetta Chapman (NG) 3*
  17. To the Grave by Steve Robinson (kindle) 4****
  18. A Mind to Murder by P.D. James 3***
  19. The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig (ccls bk club sel March)
  20. A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin (pb) 4****
  21. Lisette's List by Susan Vreeland (ccls/digital) 3***
  22. Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand (ccls/digital) 4****
  23. First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (ccls) 4****

  1. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (ccls/digital) 4***
  2. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (pb) 3.5***
  3. War Brides by Helen Bryan 4**** $.99
  4. Riptide by Paul Levine  (kindle ) 3.5*
  5. The Mazovia Legacy by Michael Rose (kindle) 4****
  6. How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (pb) 2**
  7. Meadowlands by Elizabeth Jeffreys  (NG) 4****
  8. Valentined by Patricia Rockwell  (kindle ) 3***
  9. Legally Dead by Edna Buchanan (hc) 4****
  10. Trial by Fire by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg (hc) 4****
  11. The Lost and the Blind by Declan Burke (NG) 2.5**
  12. Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews (ccls/audio) 3***
  13. A Change of Heart by Beth Wiseman (ccls/digital) 3.5***
  14. Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend by Robert James Waller (hc) 3***
  15. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (ILL) 3***
  16. Tall, Dark and Deadly by Heather Graham (pb) 3.5***
  17. Shadows on the Nile by Kate Furnivall (ILL)
  18. Under the Hill by Sheila Connolly (kindle)
  19. My Favorite Corpse by Kathy Carmichael (kindle)
  20. Chef Maurice and the Rather Fishy Tale by J.A. Lang (kindle)
  21. Waking Kate by Sarah Addison Allen (kindle)

  1. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce (LT) 4****
  2. Roasted in Christmas River by Meg Muldoon (kindle)3***
  3. The Big Bad City by Ed McBain (hc) 4****
  4. Blood Magick by Norah Roberts (ccls/digital) 2**
  5. Amish Love of a Lifetime by Sadie Palmer (kindle) 2**
  6. The Hidden Man by David Ellis (arc) 4****
  7. A Neighbor in Need by Melanie Schmidt (kindle) 3***
  8. Snapdragon Murder by Carol Lee (kindle) 2.5**
  9. Warsaw by Richard Foreman (kindle) 3.5***
  10. A Murder Moist Foul by Carol Durand  (kindle ) 3*
  11. A Bicycle Built for Murder by Karen Kingsbury (kindle) 3.5***
  12. The Day After Tomorrow by Alan Folsom 3***
  13. Tanglewood Plantation by Jocelyn Miller (kindle) 3.5*** $.99
  14. Murder by the Fool by Heather Stone (kindle) 3***
  15. Too Near the Edge by Lynn Osterkamp (nook) 1*
  16. Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith (nook) 3***
  17. The Heart of Justice by William Coughlin (hc) 3***
  18. A Perfect Love by Melanie Schmidt (kindle) 1*
  19. Foreclosed by Tracy Tyne Hilton (kindle) 2**
  20. Mercy  by Jean Brashear (pb) 3***
  21. Death is in the Air by Kate Kingsbury (ILL/pb) 3.5***
  22. Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart (kindle) 3*** $.99
  23. The Woman Next Door by Barbara Delinsky (pb)  3.5***
  24. Partners in Crime by Gallagher Gray (kindle) 3.5***
  25. Fatal Burn by Lisa Jackson (pb)

  1. Romeo's Tells by William Neubauer (Spring Challenge) K12
  2. The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall  on hold
  3. Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett 1098 pgs (ccls/digital) on hold
  4. For Whom Death Tolls by Kate Kingsbury (req ILL 3/24/15)
  5. In Their Blood by Sharon Potts (Spring Challenge) K12
  6. A Shiver at Twilight by Erica Quinn (kindle)
  7. No Sin in the House of Death by Tim M. Raymond (kindle)
  8. In this Hospitable Land by Lynmar Brock  Jr. (kindle)  $.87n
  9. A Plot to Die For by C.A. Larmer  (kindle) $.99
  10. Bubba and the Missing Woman by C.L Bevill (kindle) $.99
  11. Diners, Dives and Deadends by Terri L. Austin (kindle) $.99
  12. Just the Way You Are by Barbara Freethy $1.99
  13. Druids Daughter by Jean Hart Stewart (kindle)
  14. One Wish by Robyn Carr (ccls) On hold
  15. Seaside Secrets by Candy Bell (kindle) 144 pgs
  16. Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney Cate Kincaid files bk 1 (kindle)
  17. Charity Begins with Murder by Annie McDowell (kindle)
  18. Corpse Way by Susan Parry  (kindle)
  19. Grave Hand by Susan Parry (bk3 in Yorkshire Dales, have Corpse Way 300 pgs)
  1. Night of the Storm by Lindsay Townsend (Spring Challenge) K12
  2. Ruthlessness, Revenge and Raspberry Cheesecake by Alison Janda
  3. Grey Areas by Brad Carl (suspense) (kindle)96 pgs
  4. Watches of the Night by Sally Wright (kindle)
  5. First There is a River by Kathy Steffen (kindle)
  6. Waiter, There's a Clue in my Soup by Camille Laguire?
  7. Sins of a Nation by Dan McGraw (Spring Challenge ) N12
  1. Glass House by Patrick Reinken (Spring Challenge) N11
  1. Scoop by Kit Frazier (Summer Challenge) N11
  2. Model Agent by Sean Sweeney (Summer Challenge) N12N11
  3. An Uncollected Death by Meg Wolfe (rare book hunt mystery 304 pg Summer challenge)k14
  4. The Murder Pit by Jeff Shelby summer challenge k15
  1. Exit Stage Left by Adam Croft (summer challenge) N11
  2. Revolutionary Tax by Neil Sillars (Summer challenge) N11

  1. Unburied Dead by Douglas Lindsay (Autumn challenge )

  1. There Must be Murder by Margaret C. Sullivan (autumn challenge N11)

  1. Patricia Davids Brides of Amish Country/An Amish Christmas/The Christmas Quilt/A Hope Springs Christmas by Patricia Davids 570 pgs
  2. An Unlawful Order by Carver Green  (autumn challenge k12)
  3. Murder at Zero Hour by Paul Westwood  (autumn challenge k11)
  1. An Appalachian Christmas by Irene Brand (kindle) $.99 (pt of Love Finds you under the Mistletoe)
  2. A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry, Gary Chapman (kindle)(Christmas story)
  3. Not a Suspicious Death by Amanda Glen  (kindle12) (autumn challenge )
  4. December Dread by Jess Louery (kindle)

   Library wish list

    1. A Good Plain Cook by ? Britain WWII
    2. Clara by Kurt Palka (NA)
    3. Enduring Passions by David Wiltshire (1939-45 WWII England (ILL)
    4. From Dust to Ashes by Tricia Goyer (WWII Liberation series #1)  (ILL)
    5. Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield N/A
    6. Hothouse Flower by Lucinda Riley N/A
    7. I Gave my Heart to know This by Ellen Baker   (ILL)
    8. Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson   (ccls)
    9. Last Train to Paris by Micele Zackheim (WWII)
    10. Long Man by Amy Green (dar reco)  ILL
    11. Magnolia Wednesday by Wendy Wax (reco by Dar)  (ILL)
    12. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (staci reco)
    13. Mimosas, Mischief and Murder by Sara Rosett   (ILL)
    14. Mint Juleps, Mayhem and Murder by Sara Rosett   (ILL)
    15. Never Preach Past Noon by Edie Claire (at ccls)
    16. Night Song by Tricia Goyer (liberation series #2) ccls
    17. Pagan Spring by G.M. Malliet (ILL)
    18. Passing On by Penelope Lively (MM at Diane's bbts) ccls
    19. Pictures of the Past by Deby Eisenberg (WWII art)N/A
    20. Postcards from Berlin by Margaret LeRoy (ccls)
    21. Rachel's Secret by Shelly Sanders  (ILL)
    22. Random Harvest by James Hilton WWI&II story rec see DVD also CCLS has both
    23. Ratlines by Stuart Neville ( WWII end)
    24. Red Ruby Heart in a Deep Blue Sea by Morgan Callan Rogers  (ILL)
    25. Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino (11/30/12 reco by Caite)
    26. Say it With Poison by Ann Granger (cd) Cotswolds 
    27. String of Pearls by Madge Swindell (ILL) WWII Britain
    28. Stuck on You by Lucy Lawrence (Jenn Mckinlay pen name, set in New Eng.)
    29. Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky (ccls)
    30. The Affair by Felicia Clifford
    31. The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
    32. The Bird House by Kelly Simmons
    33. The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds (Luanne at a bookworm's world reco)
    34. The Collaborators by Margaret LeRoy
    35. The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Trees by Susan Wittig Albert
    36. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott (Titanic legal trials re Lady Gordon what happened in lifeboat)
    37. The English German Girl by ? reco by Anna H
    38. The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb (ILL)
    39. The Girl at the Lion D'or by Sebastian Faulks (1930 France)
    40. The Gin and Chowder Club by Nan Rossiter *
    41. The Granville Affaire by Una-Mary Parker WWII is declared eng  (ILL)
    42. The Granville Legacy by Una-Mary Parker (ILL) post wwii
    43. The Harbour by Francesca Brill N/A
    44. The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus by Sonya Sones
    45. The Irish Lady by Jeanette Baker reco by Staci   (ILL)
    46. The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
    47. The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow (ILL) Brit 1940
    48. The Love of my Youth by Mary Gordon (bibliophile by the sea review 3/11)
    49. The Moon Sisters by Sarah Addison Allen
    50. The Night Sky by Maria Sutton (reco at house of 7 tails blog) WWII N/A
    51. The Perfume Collector  by (ILL) 4/14
    52. The Printmaker's Daughter by Katherine Govier (old Japan)
    53. The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrence (WWII French resistance)
    54. The Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts (O'Dwyer cousins #2 in trilogy)
    55. The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
    56. The Summer Before the Storm by Gabrielle Wills (Canada rich/elegant 1914 #1 Muskoka series) N/A
    57. The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrianne Sharp (Russia, tsars, Romanov, ballet reco at Raging Bibliomania(zibilee) ccls
    58. The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones (ccls)
    59. The Unseen by Katherine Webb
    60. The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill (ccls) Simon Serailler series Bk 1
    61. The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
    62. The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey (author of The Linen Queen) ccls
    63. Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann  ILL
    64. Those in Peril by Margaret Mayhew (wartime England)  (ILL)
    65. Thursday's List by V.S. Kemonis? (myst readers corner reco by Carmen Amato)
    66. Well Bred and Dead by Catherine O'Connell
    67. When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenwaldt (reco by Staci 2/14/11 ccls

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (Bill Slider series)
  1. Death to Go (ccls)
  2. Grave Music (ccls)
  3. Killing Time (ccls)
  4. Shallow Grave (ccls)
  5. Gone Tomorrow (ccls)
  6. Dear Departed (ccls)
  7. Game Over (ccls)
  8. Fell Purpose (ccls)
  9. Body Line (ccls)
  10. Kill My Darling (ILL)
  11. Blood Never Dies (ILL)
  12. Hard Going (ILL)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Review: The Amber Keeper by Freda Lightfoot

Paperback, 384 pages

Published December 1st 2014 by Lake Union Publishing

ISBN: 1477826157 (ISBN13: 9781477826157)                

From Goodreads:
Set against the backdrop of revolutionary Russia, The Amber Keeper is a sweeping tale of jealousy and revenge, reconciliation and forgiveness.
English Lake District, 1960s: A young Abbie Myers returns home after learning of her mother’s death. Estranged from her turbulent family for many years, Abbie is heartbroken to hear that they blame her for the tragedy.
Determined to uncover her mother’s past, Abbie approaches her beloved grandmother, Millie, in search of answers. As the old woman recounts her own past, Abbie is transported back to the grandeur of the Russian Empire in 1911 with tales of her grandmother’s life as a governess and the revolution that exploded around her.
As Abbie struggles to reconcile with her family, and to support herself and her child, she realizes that those long-ago events created aftershocks that threaten to upset the fragile peace she longs to create.

My thoughts: For some reason, Tsarist Russia has always fascinated me so I really liked this time frame and dual perspectives as told by Abbie in the 1960's and Millie in 1911. Ms. Lightfoot's excellent characterizations, sense of place and historical feel made this a wonderful read.

Although, I did like Millie' s story of her time in Russia  a tad better than Abbie's, they were both very good. There were some characters you could love and hate which made for a good balance in the storyline. The family ties and old hurts were well done. I could actually empathize with the characters. Along with Millie's past story and Amber's present day story, there was a plot line fraught with mystery and danger. It all came together with a fine cohesiveness. My attention never wavered and I even learned something about amber along the way. 4****

Ms. Lightfoot is the author of numerous historical fiction books and is a Goodreads author. She can be found on her page at Goodreads.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Lake Union Publishing/Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Review: Farewell to Cedar Key by Terri DuLong

From Goodreads: "

Josie Sullivan adores her Cedar Key home. It's been the ideal place to raise her daughter, Orli, who's just turning sixteen. Now that Josie has realized her dream of becoming a registered nurse, she's been offered the perfect job too--helping Dr. Simon Mancini run his new practice.

Until the clinic opens, Josie is filling in at Yarning Together, where she launches a series of knitting classes for men. Yet for all the vibrant changes, there are some tangled threads. Josie's romance-author mother, Shelby, receives a worrying diagnosis. And though Josie has always guarded her independence, her connection to Orli's father, Grant, seems to be rekindling. Most of all, as Shelby's college classmates rally around their dear friend, Josie begins to see that "home" is more than a place;it's the relationships woven into each life, strand by strand"

My thoughts: I have yet to read a Terri DuLong book that I didn't like. All her characters  in the Cedar Key series are wonderful. Right away they  become like dear friends. It is so easy to get caught up in their day to day lives and living through all their heartaches and joys right along with them.  I love the realistic dialogue also.

Even though these Stories are fiction, there is always a theme or an issue that needs to be dealt with. In Farewell to Cedar Key, the theme/issue is one of the main characters, Shelby, has been diagnosed with uterine cancer. At first she tried to ignore her "twinges" but after some dedicated nagging by her daughter she finally sought some help.

  Having gone through the same experience myself, I can testify that Ms. DuLong handled this perfectly; the initial fear, coming to grips with the diagnosis and the aftermath of treatment. All her characters support each other at every turn.

Although this is the last book in the series, I am confident Ms. DuLong's next book/series will be just as wonderful as Cedar Key has been. Any books in the series can be read as a stand-alone but I would suggest reading from the beginning as they are all wonderfully entertaining and heart felt.

Terri DuLong is a Goodreads author and can be found on her page, on her Facebook page or on her website.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by the author, Terri DuLong  in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Seventh Link: An English Village Cosy Featuring the Colonel by Margaret Mayhew

From Goodreads:
"The village of Frog End may be peaceful, but that doesn't mean that the Colonel s life there is quiet not with his friendly but nosy neighbour Naomi, desperate to know what he s keeping in his new shed; the curious Miss Butler, who tracks his every move with her German U-boat captain s binoculars; and the attentions of the local vicar, who s keen to involve him in church affairs. That s not forgetting the demands of the aloof, imperious cat Thursday, who seems to have adopted the Colonel.So the Colonel is pleased when his old friend Geoffrey Cheetham invites him up to the village of Buckby for the weekend, to coincide with a RAF reunion event. After depositing an outraged Thursday at the Cat Heaven cattery, he drives up, and meets his fellow guests at the Cheethams B&B: including a Lancaster bomber crew, reunited for the first time. But everything is not as it seems, and the Colonel finds himself taking on the reluctant role of sleuth once more when tragedy strikes . . ."   

The Seventh Link, part of the Village Mystery Series, is a fun little British mystery. I loved the village setting and the wonderful characters of  the Colonel, his neighbor Naomi and the ever so comical Miss Butler. Mayhew did a great job with these characters bringing out all their quirks and personalities.

While attending a reunion for his old RAF Bomber Command group, the Colonel and his old pals experience a tragedy. One of their own has passed away in somewhat unusual circumstances. The mystery of how Don Wilson died is a tad ambiguous. Did he drown by accident due to his drunkenness or was he helped along the way?

Even though I found the book to be a little short with no resolution, I still enjoyed it. The historical references to the Bomber Command was interesting, albeit sometimes overshadowing the "mystery".

Margaret Mayhew, a Goodreads author can be found on her page here. Mayhew is a prolific author who can also be found on her web page at Severn House.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Severn House Publishers/Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review: The Red Book of Primrose House: A Potting Shed Mystery by Marty Wingate

From Goodreads:

In Marty Wingate’s charming new Potting Shed Mystery, Texas transplant Pru Parke’s restoration of a historic landscape in England is uprooted by an ax murderer.

Pru Parke has her dream job: head gardener at an eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex. The landscape for Primrose House was laid out in 1806 by renowned designer Humphry Repton in one of his meticulously illustrated Red Books, and the new owners want Pru to restore the estate to its former glory—quickly, as they’re planning to showcase it in less than a year at a summer party.

But life gets in the way of the best laid plans: When not being happily distracted by the romantic attentions of the handsome Inspector Christopher Pearse, Pru is digging into the mystery of her own British roots. Still, she manages to make considerable progress on the vast grounds—until vandals wreak havoc on each of her projects. Then, to her horror, one of her workers is found murdered among the yews. The police have a suspect, but Pru is certain they’re wrong. Once again, Pru finds herself entangled in a thicket of evil intentions—and her, without a hatchet.

The Red Book of Primrose House was a little slow starting but I loved the Sussex garden setting.
The plot had a little more romance and a tad less mystery than I would have liked but some quirky and fun characters still made this one a pleasurable read. There were just enough motives to keep this reader guessing right up until the end.

I had never heard about the  Victorian garden designer Humphrey Repton but I found this part of the book interesting.

Marty Wingate, a master gardener as well as an author, can be found on her Goodreads  author page and on her web page.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Random House/Netgally in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Review: Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus

ebook, 368 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books

ISBN: 1466852925 (ISBN13: 9781466852921)

Sleep in Peace Tonight is a fictionalized account of events during WWII, particularly during the Blitz in London in 1941.

Harry Hopkins, unofficial representative for FDR, travels to Britain to meet with Churchill. Things are not going well for Britain and Churchill tries to get Hopkins to convince FDR of the need for the USA to enter the war. Without assistance from the USA, Churchill is convinced Britain will be on the losing end. He feels that Hitler must be stopped by any and all means. Edward R. Murrow, war correspondent based in London during the Blitz, is also a prominent character.

This story is more than just an historical narrative. Readers get to see the other more human and occasionally scandalous sides of Churchill, FDR and Harry Hopkins.

"It was said that everyone fell in love in London during the bombing; it was only natural. It wasn't love , of course; it was just frightened people clinging to each other in blacked-out hotel rooms, on creaking beds, while the shrapnel rattled on the roof and the windows blew in. They called it love because it sounded better, because love somehow justified their betrayal, and they were both traitors, weren't they? Perhaps a few lonely, frightened souls had truly fallen for each other in those long nights."

McManus evokes a wonderful sense of place, a genuine feel of the times and the mood of the populace during the Blitz on London during WWII.

I really enjoyed the story, both the historical parts and the "love story" within. 4****

James MacManus is the managing director of the Times Literary Supplement.  He can be found on his website and also on his Goodreads page.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne/Netgalley  in exchange for my honest opinion.