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.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review & Giveaway: The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax

Paperback, 416 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 by Berkley Trade

ISBN:0425263320 (ISBN13: 9780425263327)                
edition language: English

From Goodreads:
In this new novel from the author of Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, three unlikely friends who were thrown together by disaster get a do-over on life, love, and happiness . . .

Maddie, Avery, and Nikki first got to know one another—perhaps all too well—while desperately restoring a beachfront mansion to its former grandeur. Now they’re putting that experience to professional use. But their latest project has presented some challenges they couldn’t have dreamed up in their wildest fantasies—although the house does belong to a man who actually was Maddie’s wildest fantasy once . . .

Rock-and-roll legend “William the Wild” Hightower may be past his prime, estranged from his family, and creatively blocked, but he’s still worshiped by fans—which is why he guards his privacy on his own island in the Florida Keys. He’s not thrilled about letting this crew turn his piece of paradise into a bed-and-breakfast for a reality show . . . though he is intrigued by Maddie. Hard as that is for her to believe as a newly single woman who can barely manage a dog paddle in the dating pool.

But whether it’s an unexpected flirtation with a bona fide rock star, a strained mother-daughter relationship, or a sudden tragedy, these women are in it together. The only thing that might drive them apart is being trapped on a houseboat with one bathroom . .

My thoughts: I've read the two previous books, Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, with these characters and loved them. Reading The House on Mermaid Point was like visiting with old friends after too long an absence. So much fun to catch up with the ladies and see what new antics they are up to with their latest adventure! Wax is so adept at creating a sense of place. I could feel the heat from the Florida sun and sense the calm of the surroundings. With some changes made in character status, already I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Highly recommended for fans of contemporary fiction and women's stories. 4****

Wendy Wax can be found on her website, Goodreads and on Facebook.

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

Now for the fabulous news; through the generosity of Berkley, one giveaway copy of the book is available  to US residents. Just leave a comment saying  WHY you would like to be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to leave an e mail address in your comment.

Deadline to enter is July 25th at 6:00 PM

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: The Wild Dark Flowers: a Novel of Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke

Paperback, 368 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 by Berkley Trade

ISBN: 0425262596 (ISBN13: 9780425262597)

From Goodreads:
"When May came that year in Rutherford, it was more beautiful than anyone could ever remember. More beautiful, and more terrible…

From inside their sprawling estate of Rutherford Park, the Cavendish family had a privileged perspective of the world. On the first morning in May, 1915, with a splendid view that reached across the gardens to the Vale of York, nothing seemed lovelier or less threatening. And yet…

At the risk of undoing the Cavendish name with scandal, William and Octavia Cavendish have been living a lie, maintaining a marriage out of duty rather than passion. But when their son Harry joins the Royal Flying Corps in France, the Cavendish family are forced to face the unavoidable truths about themselves, the society in which they thrive, and the secrets they can no longer bear.

In the wake of a terrible war, the emotional shifts between a husband and a wife, a wife and her lover, and a mother and her children, will shake the very foundation of the Cavendish family, and change the uniquely vulnerable lives of all who reside at Rutherford Park."

My Thoughts:   

The Wild Dark Flowers: A Novel of Rutherford Park has been compared to Downton Abbey. This is an excellent comparison as Rutherford is set during the same interesting historical timeframe and is an in-depth look at life on a large English estate during WW1. With  rich  lush descriptions, a mesmerizing sense of place, The Wild Dark Flowers had me hooked from page 1.  Not just an intriguing character study but an eye opening social commentary on the changing times.

 War is a great leveler: it affected everyone  whether upstairs or downstairs, everyone has their story.
Cooke did a fabulous job of bringing her numerous characters to life and giving them a unique voice.

I loved the surprise ending and can't wait for the next book in the series Very enjoyable read. 4****

Even though this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

Elizabeth Cooke is a Goodreads author and can be found on her page. She can also be found on her webpage and on Facebook.

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: The Beekepers Ball by Susan Wiggs

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: June 24th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA (first published January 1st 2014)

ISBN: 0778314480 (ISBN13: 9780778314486)                
edition language: English
From Goodreads:

Isabel Johansen, a celebrated chef who grew up in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel, is transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school—a unique place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts. Bella Vista's rambling mission-style hacienda, with its working apple orchards, bountiful gardens and beehives, is the idyllic venue for Isabel's project…and the perfect place for her to forget the past.

But Isabel's carefully ordered plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O'Neill arrives to dig up old history. He's always been better at exposing the lives of others than showing his own closely-guarded heart, but the pleasures of small-town life and the searing sensuality of Isabel's kitchen coax him into revealing a few truths of his own.

The dreamy sweetness of summer is the perfect time of year for a grand family wedding and the enchanting Beekeeper's Ball, bringing emotions to a head in a story where the past and present collide to create an unexpected new future.

My thoughts: In The Apple Orchard, first book in the Bella Vista Chronicles series, we are introduced to Isabel, her half-sister Tess and her grandfather Magnus, owner of Bella Vista. What a complicated history this family shares. I really enjoyed getting to know them.

Wiggs continues their story in The Beekeeper's Ball while filling in a lot of Magnus's back story, how he came to the United States from Denmark right after WWII and started the orchard in the little town of Archangel. I Love the dual storyline format: present day California and Denmark in the early 1940's. The present day story is a lot about Isabel,  her acceptance of possible romance in her life and her desire to make Bella Vista a destination cooking school.

With lush descriptions and sense of place, rich characterizations and a plot that just won't quit,I  loved it, loved it, loved it!

Oh, yeah, about the twist at the end? That promises to be most intriguing making me very impatient for the next in the series. 5*****

 Susan Wiggs can be found on her Goodreads page and on her Facebook page and her web page.

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review: The Promise by Robyn Carr

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: June 24th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA

ISBN: 0778316203 (ISBN13: 9780778316206)                
edition language: English

From Goodreads:

Scott Grant has a bustling family practice in the small Oregon community of Thunder Point. The town and its people have embraced the widowed doctor and father of two, his children are thriving, and Scott knows it's time to move on from his loss. But as the town's only doctor, the dating scene is awkward. That is, until a stunning physician's assistant applies for a job at his clinic.

Peyton Lacoumette considers herself entirely out of the dating scene. She's already been burned by a man with kids, and she's come to Thunder Point determined not to repeat past mistakes. When Scott offers her a job, at a much lower salary than she's used to, Peyton is surprisingly eager to accept…at least for now. She's willing to stay for a three-month trial period while she explores other options.

Scott and Peyton know the arrangement is temporary—it isn't enough time to build a real relationship, never mind anything with lasting commitment. But love can blossom faster than you think when the timing is right, and this short visit just might hold the promise of forever.

My Thoughts:

Every book is this series is wonderful, the magic just keeps on happening. Robyn Carr can write a romance and stories of family like no one else. All her books are so enjoyable, I haven't found one yet that I didn't like. I just couldn't put this one down. It was so interesting to read of the Basque culture and I just loved all the characters. Okay, there was one or two I could have given a dummy slap to but the rest of the recurring characters was a nice catch-up with old friends.

Highly recommended for fans of romance, family stories and contemporary fiction. 5****

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