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.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review: The Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes

Kindle Edition
Published May 27th 2014 by Penguin Books (first published 2005)

original title: The Ship of Brides
edition language: English
From Goodreads:

1946. World War II has ended and all over the world, young women are beginning to fulfill the promises made to the men they wed in wartime.

In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other war brides on an extraordinary voyage to England—aboard HMS Victoria, which still carries not just arms and aircraft but a thousand naval officers. Rules are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier’s captain down to the lowliest young deckhand. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined despite the Navy’s ironclad sanctions. And for Frances Mackenzie, the complicated young woman whose past comes back to haunt her far from home, the journey will change her life in ways she never could have predicted—forever. 

Never having read anything by JoJo Moyes, before, I wasn't too sure what to expect but since the book was set post WWII, I definitely was curious. I'm now a new fan of Moyes!

Many Australian women married British servicemen during WWII. Moyes obviously did a lot of research on the subject and pens a fictionalized account of some of these women.  It's now 1946, the war is over and the "brides" are headed to their new country. The story is concentrated around four very diverse women who have to bunk together during the trip.  During the seven week voyage, tempers will flare, dreams will come true for some and shattered for others. Pasts will come to haunt some while others will move smoothly into their new lives without a qualm.

I loved it! The characters held my attention every minute; I just could not seem to put it down. During the six years I've written this blog, very few books have earned a 5* rating but this one did, hands down. Did I mention that I loved it?? I loved it!

JoJo Moyes is also the author of numerous novels. She can be found at Goodreads, and on her web page..

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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: The Other Girl by Pam Jenoff

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: September 1st 2014 by Harlequin MIRA

From Goodreads:

One woman's determination to protect a child from the dangers of war will force her to face those lurking closer to home…

Life in rural Poland during WWII brings a new set of challenges to Maria, estranged from her own family and left alone with her in-laws after her husband is sent to the front. For a young, newly pregnant wife, the days are especially cold, the nights unexpectedly lonely. The discovery of a girl hiding in the barn changes everything—Hannah is fleeing the German police who are taking Jews like her to special camps. Ignoring the risk to her own life and that of her unborn child, Maria is compelled to help. But in these dark days, no one can be trusted, and soon Maria finds her courage tested in ways she never expected and herself facing truths about her own family that the quiet village has kept buried for years…

The Other Girl is comprised of just 24 pages but this novella is still a good introduction to the
 likeable characters and the feel of the story set against the backdrop of WWII. I greatly admired Maria and felt so sad for Hannah as they are both just trying to live their lives as normally as possible. Of course, during wartime, this is not always doable.

Even in such limited pages, Jenoff did a wonderful job with the main character of Maria. I could really feel her indecision, fear and determination. This novella is a companion story to Jenoff's  The Winter Guest. 3***

Pam Jenoff is the author of numerous historical novels. She can be found on her Goodreads page.

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: September 2nd 2014 by Berkley Trade

ISBN:0425266257 (ISBN13: 9780425266250)

From Goodreads:

Set against the rich backdrop of World War II Italy, Garden of Letters captures the hope, suspense, and romance of an uncertain era, in an epic intertwining story of first love, great tragedy, and spectacular bravery.Portofino, Italy, 1943. A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd, Elodie is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man she’s never met before claims to know her. In desperate need of shelter, Elodie follows him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.

Only months before, Elodie Bertolotti was a cello prodigy in Verona, unconcerned with world events. But when Mussolini’s Fascist regime strikes her family, Elodie is drawn into the burgeoning resistance movement by Luca, a young and impassioned bookseller. As the occupation looms, she discovers that her unique musical talents, and her courage, have the power to save lives.

In Portofino, young doctor Angelo Rosselli gives the frightened and exhausted girl sanctuary. He is a man with painful secrets of his own, haunted by guilt and remorse. But Elodie’s arrival has the power to awaken a sense of hope and joy that Angelo thought was lost to him forever.

Any book with WWII as the backdrop usually merits a look from me, but Richman is particularly deft with this scenario. All the horrors of wartime and the difficulty of living are so well done, it is as if I were right there along with the characters.

In this story, Elodie, our heroine, is a young and very talented violinist just coming of age in the most difficult of circumstances. Seeing her homeland invaded and her way of life abruptly changed, Elodie does what she must in order to live with her conscience and try to help the resistance. Falling in love was not part of her plan but it just happened and Elodie finds herself having to make some very difficult choices and then dealing with those choices,

" Elodie wonders, if beneath the schoolgirl uniform, her mother can see the change in her. That her daughter has discovered that it isn't only music that can articulate the beauty and mystery of the world. That now she knows that the heart has it's own rhythm and breath has it's own pulse, and there is nothing in this world that makes you feel more alive than a simple touch of a beloved's hand."

In The Garden of Letters, Alyson Richman pens her usual beautiful, lyrical writing; words to be savored right along with the plot. All of Richman's characters come to life vividly on the page, so much so, that my heart was fully engaged along with my mind.

Alyson Richman is also the author of  The Lost Wife, one of my all time favorite reads.  4****

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: August 26th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
ISBN:0778316440 (ISBN13: 9780778316442)
edition language:English
series: Thunder Point #6

From Goodreads:

"In a small town, reputation is everything. In her latest novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr explores the burden placed on a young man returning home to face his mistakes—the first step in claiming the life he was meant to live ...

At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.

Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he's become a better, humbler version of his former self.

Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?"

If you've never read any of Robyn Carr's books before, you are missing out. Carr is one of my favorite go-to authors of romance and family stories. Any time I pick up one of her books, I am assured of a very delightful read with wonderful easy to relate to characters and most likely a HEA ending. Not to say there aren't some bumps along the way, because there are but that is a huge part of the storyline. I love the way Carr resolves the issues in the plot.

If you are a fan of Carr's Virgin River series, you are sure to love the Thunderpoint series. I've read every one so far and really liked them all, but this one, The Homecoming, seemed extra special. I had a hard time putting it down. Sooooo good! 4.5****

Robyn Carr can be found on her website, and on Goodreads.
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Harlequin Mira/Netgalley  in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA

ISBN: 0778316181 (ISBN13: 9780778316183)                
edition language: English

From Goodreads:

"After a fake food poisoning incident in L.A., Bailey Sterling's dreams of becoming a caterer to the stars collapse faster than a soufflé. Now Bailey's face is in all the gossip rags and her business is in ruins. But the Sterling women close ranks and bring her back to Icicle Falls, where she'll stay with her sister Cecily. 

All goes well between the sisters until Bailey comes up with a new business idea—a tea shop on a charming street called Lavender Lane. She's going into partnership with Todd Black, who—it turns out—is the man Cecily's started dating. It looks to Cecily as if there's more than tea brewing in that cute little shop. And she's not pleased. 

Wait! Isn't Cecily seeing Luke Goodman? He's a widower with an adorable little girl, and yes, Cecily does care about him. But Todd's the one who sends her zing-o-meter off the charts. So now what? Should you have to choose between your sister and the man you love (or think you love)?"

I've yet to read a Sheila Roberts book that I didn't like. All her stories are filled with fully fleshed-out characters  who become your friends by the end of the story. The little town of Icicle Falls will be a town you want to move to. Yes, it is that magical! I wish my town had a tea shop like this one. Just reading the description of all the luscious treats made me hungry.

The women and the men in Icicle Falls are usually strong characters, faithful friends and family oriented. This is one of the reasons I like them so much.

Are the stories sometime light-hearted easy reading and the romances a tad predictable? Sure they are. But, that does not detract from the fact that they are fun and highly enjoyable!

For fans of romance, small town living, family, especially sisters, and a little humor, try any Sheila Roberts book, you'll be happy you did. 4****

Sheila Roberts can be found on Goodreads, her website and on FB page.

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


Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: The Major's Daughter: A Novel by J.P. Francis

Paperback400 pages
Expected publication: July 29th 2014 by Plume
0452298695 (ISBN13: 9780452298699)

From Goodreads:

"April, 1944. The quiet rural village of Stark, New Hampshire is irrevocably changed by the arrival of 150 German prisoners of war. And one family, unexpectedly divided, must choose between love and country.

Camp Stark is under the command of Major John Brennan, whose beautiful daughter, Collie, will serve as translator. Educated at Smith and devoted to her widowed father, Collie is immediately drawn to Private August Wahrlich, a peaceful poet jaded by war. As international conflict looms on the home front, their passion blinds them to the inevitable dangers ahead.

Inspired by the little-known existence of a real World War II POW camp, The Major’s Daughter is a fresh take on the timeless theme of forbidden love."

My Thoughts: Even though I lived in New England for over 50 years, I had never heard of any POW camps in the area. I thought this was an extremely interesting fact for the basis of a novel.

The story held my attention at all times even though I'm not too sure how credible it would be for a prisoner-of-war to be allowed the chance to meet the Major's daughter. Although, that was a minor concern because the story line was well done. All the characters were well fleshed out and I thought the dialogue was very realistic. Actually, the story of Collie's friend who also fell in love with someone her family deemed not "socially acceptable" was on a par with Collie's own story. Besides being a love story, it also was a social commentary of the times.

Overall, I enjoyed the book a lot. 4****

Recommended for fans of romance, historical and WWII fiction.

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