Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane - A Review

If you have been reading our reviews, you know that January is Tea Month!  It is also part of the Chinese New Year celebrations that will be happening all around the world on the 25th of  January.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Book Review

It's also time to share a new book that I truly enjoyed.  The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane caught my eye on two counts.  One, I love birds, so was interested in the address and the second was the ambiguity of the title.  Who goes around being known as the "Tea Girl" and why?


The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Book Review


Lisa See, the author has extensive knowledge of what is happening in the areas where China has taken over the lands that once belonged to some really isolated tribes.  Such are the Akha, that  lived in the high mountainous regions of Laos, Myannmar, Thailand and Yunnan province in China. 

                                                           Map courtesy of Google Maps

As with many indigenous tribes, they are unaware of the political struggles or the ramifications of being overtaken by another government.   They farm and cultivate their land for their own use. Daily life is difficult enough without worrying about politics.  Rice, tea and poppies are their main crops.  Opium, derived from their crops is sold to the outside world for medicines.  They themselves have used opium for medicines for centuries.  Tea is the other common denominator.  They grow tea and cultivate the leaves of trees that are hundreds of years old.  This tea is sought after by tea aficionados from around the world.

They are a land of people who have stayed together and lived according to the laws and customs of their "tribe".  They have their own language, yet they are encouraged to learn Mandarin and leave their language behind. Education is minimal unless they show a talent for learning.  Then maybe they have a chance at a better life.  The question is, "Who's ideas of a better life will they follow?" 

Each child can confirm their lineage for 7 generations.  This is one of the most important things they know for sure.  Girls and boys can recite their lineage and will do so when they find a mate.  The elders of the community will give their permission to marry, based on that lineage!  There will be no marriages allowed that are too close in family ties.

Image from Wikipedia 


This story and it's people grabbed my attention and held it right to the very end.  I was fascinated by their customs and horrified by some of their practices too.  What really caught my interest though was how the people, because of their beliefs did things that we would consider so unacceptable.  The Akha, like many of the Asian peoples, have a profound wish that their first child be male. Because of China's one child law,  many girls are given up for adoption.   

Over the years, these girls have been adopted into American, Canadian and European households.  The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane finds herself caught up in a cultural tug of war.  Her adopted parents are caught up in it as well.  She does not look like them, She will never look like them!  Yet, her parents love her as if she were born to them like any other child.  

Her adoptive parents go through all the trials and tribulations involved when you have a child that is "different".  As many parents are aware, whenever something is NOT just so,  many questions are asked and need answers.  Yes, their child is adopted.  No, they don't know anything about why she was given up for adoption.  No, they are her parents and they love her unconditionally.  Yes, she asks questions all the time.  No we don't have the answers to all her questions.

What makes this story interesting is that bond between the birth mother and the daughter that she no longer knows.  I don't want to give anything away from this story, I want you to go and pick up the book and read it for yourself.  


My Conclusion & Final Thoughts


I learned so much about the Akha people and I also learned a lot about myself.  It was easy to put myself into the characters of this book.  What would I do?  How would I react?  How would I feel about being given away?  Where do my loyalties lie?  These are all questions you will find yourself asking as you are reading this book.

There are no right or wrong answers.  For the Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, there are lots of different answers and many roads that could be taken.  See how she deals with the way,  and the road,  her life has taken.  I promise, you will learn something about yourself in the pages of this book.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, January 17, 2020

The Gregory Sisters: When Love Calls - Book 1 Reviewed

The Gregory Sisters: When Love Calls - Book 1 Reviewed
I recently read a delightful series of romantic fiction books set in the early 1910s.  The books provide a clear picture of what life in America was like for women a hundred years ago.  Specifically, women who were not married and clearly needed a way to earn a living.  They serve as a reminder of how thankful I am that I was not an adult female during the Progressive Era.  What a difference 60 years can make!

The Gregory sister's lives are turned upside down when their parents die.  Not only are they grieving the death of their parents, but they cannot afford to payoff the mortgage and family debts.  They are faced with losing their home while having to make major life changes and decisions that will effect the rest of their lives.  Neither sister has a husband, fiance, or even a prospective husband.  And, neither sister has a job.  Actually, they are all still in school, albeit, the two oldest are in vocational schools.

The first book, When Love Calls, provides the background information for the series.  The 3 sisters are in all of the books, but each book has a primary sister character.


When Love Calls Book Synopsis


 When Love Calls (The Gregory Sisters Book #1)
A Novel
When Love Calls focuses on the oldest sister, Hannah, who is in law school.  When her parents die and the family home is repossessed, Hannah makes the difficult decision to leave school and go to work.  After all, someone has to earn money for rent, food, clothes, etc., for all 3 girls. 

Hannah feels extremely blessed when she is hired as a "Hello Girl", a switchboard operator for the telephone company. Unfortunately, the very thing that would make Hannah an excellent attorney, is the part of her personality that makes her a problem by company standards.  Hannah has a mind of her own.  She doesn't make a very good conformist follower.  Still, she tries hard because she really needs the job.

There are so many changes all at once in Hannah's life, it makes it hard for her to know who she can trust.  When the very attorney who represented the bank in their home foreclosure seems to keep turning up, Hannah isn't sure if he is trustworthy, yet she needs his help.  As it turns out, they have a lot in common.


My Opinion of "When Love Calls"


I suspect this book was named "When Love Calls" because Hannah is a switchboard operator.  However, it could easily reference how she changed the entire direction of her life because of her love for her sisters.  She answered the "call" to care for her sisters instead of finishing law school. 

Because of her life changes, she meets someone and falls in love.  Of course, he does call her on the phone occasionally.  Regardless, what is clear is that love dictates Hannah's actions. 

There are many changes in the Gregory sister's lives over the course of the series.  The one thing that is consistent is the bond between sisters.  Regardless of trials, failures, fortune, or life choices, these girls remain committed to supporting each other.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a wholesome and uplifting story of love and family.








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Monday, January 13, 2020

Michelle Obama’s BECOMING Book Review

Michelle Obama’s BECOMING Book Review

I am a Canadian who does not pay a lot of attention to American politics though I do remember the former First Lady, Michelle Obama, from the very first days that her husband became the President of the United States and I remember seeing her image time and time again during the years that followed.

Since the release of her book Becoming in November of 2018, I have been hearing about it. More recently, I saw that it was the Ottawa Public Library’s most requested book in 2019. Either of those reasons would have been a good reason to pick up the book but the actual reason that I read it was because it is my book club’s next book.

THE STORYLINE


I reached for the book with little in the way of expectations though I obviously wondered what all the hype was about. It seems a bit early (in Michelle's life) to label the book an autobiographical memoir but it is her story to date and it is told from her perspective so I guess it is a memoir of sorts.

Becoming is a story of gender equality, race, marriage and politics.

The first section, Becoming Me, shares the story of her childhood and education in Chicago and how she became who she is. That is, a highly educated woman, a lawyer cum public servant cum hospital administrator and a devoted wife and protective mother.

The second section, Becoming Us, covers her romance and her marriage to Barack Obama.

The final section, Becoming More, tells of the Obama family and their lives as public figures when Barack becomes the President of the United States. It tells how Michelle tried to retain some sense of her own identity and to achieve some sense of normalcy for her family. It shares the sacrifices she made when she put her own dreams aside to support her husband’s goals. Despite not being able to follow her own career path, she supported the work of her husband and turned her considerable talents to making meaningful contributions indirectly associated with his work.

BOOK VIDEOS


The first video shown here presents a short peek at the book and Michelle Obama’s story:



The second video, in which Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey surprise a group of school girls with a visit, does a better job  in my opinion of sharing some of Michelle's experiences becoming the First Lady and it gives you a feel for the story you will find between the covers of the book:



WHO WROTE BECOMING?


Even before I picked it up, I wondered if Michelle wrote the book or if she had employed a ghost writer. Could someone be so successful in so many areas of her life and also become a bestselling author?

I could not find anything definitive to answer that question. Business Insider says that Michelle used, “a team of people”, which makes sense to me and The News Record says that Michelle asked for help from a friend and that she and that friend met about the book on and off again for a period of nine years.

REVIEWS


Becoming is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. I enjoyed it and think that no matter who did the writing it is a well written and very interesting book.

Politico Magazine called it a bit thin in areas and I agree with that statement. Politico says that Michelle was a “woman who sparkled all her life, ascending to registers of success she anticipated in middle school, only to sideline her ambitions for her husband's” and that while the book touches on all of that, we never learn in the end “What she wants to be when she grows up.”

Oprah Winfrey added the book to her book club list. She called it a tour de force and I agree with that statement. Oprah said you will laugh and you will cry. I think you will.

Both Business Insider and The Atlantic say that Becoming “is on track to become the best-selling memoir of all time.” That, in my mind, is a high recommendation for a book.

If you need any more convincing, I note that 94 percent of reviewers on Amazon and 91 percent of readers on Goodreads gave the book 4 or 5 out of five stars. Those are amazing numbers.

IN SUMMARY


I think Michelle Obama handled her life choices well at least as she reveals them in her book. Without having any way of knowing much about her life beyond what the media shares, I think that this book gives us as much a glimpse into her world as we will ever receive.

The New Yorker says that she has become one of the most popular Americans in history and I did not miss their reference to the fact that she has now had a “second coming, as an unprecedented, potentially billion-dollar American brand.” The Former President and First Lady reportedly were paid a whopping 65 million dollar advance for their memoirs. You can bet that we will be seeing Michelle Obama again and I look forward to following her continued life story.

Meanwhile, find your copy of Becoming competitively priced on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy your copy of Michelle Obama’s Becoming on Amazon.






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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2020 A New Year of Reading Materials to Discover!

Woman on the Edge, Book Review, psychological thriller, review this reviews
My New Years Resolution!
At the start of 2020, I made a decision to not only read more, but to vary the types of books that I sink my teeth into.  So here is a new author and a new book for my Review This Review Today.

As a member of Goodreads, I saw that my list of preferred books seems to be either mysteries or spy thrillers.  Added into that mix there are also some historical romances.  What I realized looking at my list, is that there are so many more categories of books that I have not delved  into.  

So, along with a new year and a new decade, comes the promise to rectify that situation.  And so I offer you a new author and a new genre of books for me.  


My New Genre is a Psychological Thriller!

Now you might ask why I haven't tried this category before now, and the answer is rather simple.  Psychological thrillers, while they keep you on the edge of your seat, they make me uncomfortable.  I find that I can't get these stories out of my head.  They (these types of thrillers) keep me from sleeping well.  I don't watch these types of movies either.  After Silence of the Lambs, I did not sleep well for weeks.  I don't know what that says about my character, but I know that sleep deprivation does not look good on me!


A New Year and a New Decade means there are changes afoot!

 
I love starting the new year off with a bang.  So beside the fireworks that lit up the sky, I found a new author and a whole different genre of reading to go along with it.

Samantha Bailey is the author of Woman on the Edge.  It's fresh off the presses and will be available in paperback,  after the 3rd of March this year.  If you are an Audible member it has the best price tag ever. $ 0.00 for Prime members or if you start a trial membership. 

thriller, new author, canadian,

There are so many twists and turns in this novel, that you just won't figure out who's behind all the mystery.  It is a page turner that will have you losing sleep, because you just can't put it down.  As her debut novel,  I think Samantha Bailey has a real winner on her hands.  It's a novel that all women can relate to.  Motherhood, sleep deprivation, secrets from your youth and so much more are all part and parcel of Woman on the Edge!

Just a couple of the reviews that are being posted about this book:


“One woman’s struggles with motherhood and another’s desperate desire to be a mother collide in this explosive debut. Woman on the Edge is a white-knuckle read that welcomes a bright new talent to the world of psychological suspense.”
— MARY KUBICANew York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl

"Gripping from the first page to the last, Woman on the Edge had me nail-biting and breathless all the way through. But even after you've turned the final page, this riveting and deeply felt thriller from debut author Samantha M. Bailey won't relinquish its hold on you." 
— LAURA SIMS, author of Looker

I could post more but I don't want this to be a spoiler for anyone.  One of the things I loved about the author is that she is Toronto based!  Everyone loves hometown celebrities and I'm no exception.  It thrilled me to read her book and be able to geographically know where she was.  It's a small thing that resonates with me.  If you aren't from Toronto, it will not detract from the story in any way,  I just was amused that I knew these places.  


So What Else is in Store for 2020?  

 
I don't know just yet, but rest assured I will be looking into some of the genres that I have been ignoring.  The world is just so much better with so many books to choose from.  








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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Transform Your Prayer Life with This Classic : A Book Review


Transform Your Prayer Life with This Classic : A Book Review of Prayer: Conversing with God
My Photo with some help from PicMonkey

My review of Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker


Does your small prayer or Bible study group find praying together awkward or uncomfortable? Do you spend more time sharing prayer requests than actually praying together? Do you find yourself thinking about what your own prayer will be as your turn to pray approaches? Or do you just not attend prayer meetings because praying aloud makes you uncomfortable?

Perhaps you don't see any reason for praying with a group. After all, didn't Jesus say to go into your closet to pray to our Father in secret? Yes, He did. But He also said that if two or three gathered together in His Name agree on what they ask in prayer, they will receive it, and He will be right there with them.

Rosalind Rinker's book addresses these seeming contradictions in detail. She shares God's promises and an exciting method of conversational prayer that can make your group anxious to pray together.

Who is Rosalind Rinker?


Ms. Rinker was a missionary in China from 1926 until 1940. When she came home, she studied at Asbury College and graduated in 1945. She then served as a staff member for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a collegiate Christian group.

She also wrote. Christianity Today named Prayer: Conversing with God as the book that most influenced evangelicals from 1956-2006. (Facts via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosalind_Rinker)

How I discovered Prayer: Conversing with God

Table of Contents, Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker
Table of Contents, Prayer: Conversing with God. My Photo.


While I was a student at UCLA, a friend from my dorm invited me to a small group Bible study at Hollywood Presbyterian Church. She drove, so we were able to get better acquainted as we talked coming and going. We often stopped at IHOP on the way home for pancakes.

The group was going to study two books. The first was The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ by James Stuart. The other was Prayer: Conversing with God. During the first part of the meeting we'd study the book about Jesus, and during the second part we'd pray, using what we were learning from the Rinker book.

I didn't know anyone in the study group but my friend Betty. Yet as we began to practice conversational prayer, we all drew much closer together. Why? Because we were talking to Jesus together as we met with Him. As we each got closer to Him, we also got closer to each other.

P. 48, Table of Contents, Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker
My Photo

What's the difference between conversational prayer and other methods of group prayer?


Usually small group prayer times take one of these forms. The members of the group share their prayer requests first, and then the members go around a circle, each praying by turn.  One problem with this method is that the members spend so long sharing their prayer requests that's there's little time left to actually pray. Another is that people are often thinking more about what they will say when it's their turn than actually hearing the prayers of the others who come before them in the circle. Some shy people may be intimidated by praying aloud with others. Sometimes people just pray as the Spirit moves them, but often each one who prays tries to cover all the requests. This can lead to a very long meeting.

Rinker addresses each of these problems as she explains how to pray conversationally instead. It's simple and natural. Instead of sharing the requests with each other before praying, those in the group speak to each other and God at the same time, introducing topics one at a time. Then people pray about each topic until the Spirit leads someone to introduce a new topic of prayer. Rinker gives examples of how this works in practice. I've noticed that using this method, no one feels pressured and most are excited about praying.

I have shown you the Table of Contents and an excerpt from the book in the images above. Rinker covers a lot of ground. Most Christians who read this book cannot wait to get a couple of friends together to try conversational prayer. Once they've done that they don't want to return to their old prayer habits.

This book is now out of print. Some of the best books are. You can still buy this used at Biblio and help support independent book dealers. Or you can buy it at Amazon if you prefer. Both sources offer only used books, and often the same dealers list the same exact copies in both places. I prefer buying my used books at Biblio. Both links are affiliate links. Wherever you get the book, I believe reading it will transform your prayer life in both group and private prayer. I highly recommend it.

Let 2020 be the year that you revolutionize your prayer life.

Happy New Year!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Reviewing The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook

Today I'm reviewing The Forgotten Village, a novel by Lorna Cook, if you're thinking that you haven't heard from this author before then I'm not surprised as this is her first novel, but she has a new novel that will be released in March 2020.

Book Review of The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook
The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook

I picked up this book as it is set in Dorset, England where I grew up and I was intrigued by the snippet on the back as it is set in the village of Tyneham where I was never able to visit, but my mother finally got to see it last year. 

This novel has two stories interweaved throughout: that of Lady Veronica in 1943 and that of Melissa set in 2018.   Tyneham is actually the 'forgotten village' mentioned in the title - although it is apparently titled The Forgotten Wife in Canada and the US which isn't as compelling a title in my opinion.

Tyneham - Real World History


Post Office Row, Tyneham, Dorset - the forgotten village requisitioned by the MoD during the second World War
Photo © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)
In 1943 the villagers of Tyneham were given a month to pack up and leave their village.   The 225 residents at the time were led to believe that they would be able to return after the war had ended.   Being a village on the coast the Ministry of Defence wanted to use the village in it's war efforts and the villagers left as patriots.

When the war ended, however, the requisitioned village was not returned to the original owners and is in fact still owned by the Ministry of Defence.   It has now been made accessible on some weekends when the Ministry of Defence isn't using it for training purposes.

Surprisingly there are several villages in the UK that suffered similar fates (I had always believed Tyneham was the only one).

Fictional Tyneham


In the book Melissa is on holiday in Dorset when she sees that the forgotten village of Tyneham is having it's grand re-opening (this never actually happened).   She visits and comes across a photograph of Lady Veronica and Sir Albert Standish (this family and the people are all fictional) which intrigues her.   She also meets a television historian (yes there is a romantic angle to the book) and they both try and find out what happened to the Standish couple as they appear to have disappeared.

The Two Stories in the Novel The Forgotten Village


This book weaves through Lady Veronica's life in 1943 as they prepare to leave the village as well as Melissa's life as she tries to find out what happened to Lady Veronica (and falls in love at the same time).

If you enjoy a little romance, glimpses of Dorset and historical novels then you will enjoy this book.   I found that although I put it down to go to bed I was lying awake wondering what had happened so much I ended up getting up again and finishing the book before going back to bed at some ungodly hour!

The only bit that I didn't really enjoy was when Melissa refers to her parent's relationship which I feel was an unnecessary aspect to the book, although I can see why the author thought it needed to be there.   Personally I got aggravated by her contemplating her parent's relationship especially as they weren't actual characters in the book.

I would definitely recommend reading this and I can't wait to see what the new book is about.

The author says this about her book -

"The Forgotten Village doesn’t attempt to delve too deeply into the intricacies of the requisition of Tyneham. I’m not sure I wanted to give readers a history lesson. Instead I hope I’ve written a well-paced story of love both lost and found, great sacrifice and how all is not forgotten even though it often appears to be. "

Meanwhile before heading to your local library or bookstore be sure to check out all of our book reviews (we do love to read on Review This Reviews!).


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, December 27, 2019

The Patriot Bride Book Reviewed

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 4 in the Series


The Patriot Bride Book Reviewed
It is unusual to find a series where every book in the series deserves an individual review!  However, that is the case with the Daughters of the Mayflower historical series.

As I have read each book, I have thought it was my favorite.  At this point, I must declare that this is clearly a series of favorites for me.

Because these books are historically accurate, simply written with fictional characters included, I have felt I was walking the path alongside these women.  There are real places, real historical individuals, real historical events that are the foundation of each story.  It is easy to believe these "Daughters of the Mayflower" could have been real people.

In The Patriot Bride, both George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are important characters in the book.  Not one word cast these real men in a negative light.  Nor does the author take liberties with their integrity, as some fictional books are prone to do.  I appreciate her for being true to the character, wisdom and extreme sacrifice of these esteemed men of our real American history.  

This book made me sit back and really consider the price of America's freedom.  It isn't the first time in my life that I recognized the dedication and sacrifices of our patriots, but the book served as an excellent reminder that we owe them, at the very least, a debt of gratitude. 

I've seen the dates and years written in ink before, but until I read this book, I had not considered how long 8 years is, in reality.  I had not realized that George Washington had not been back even for a visit, to his beloved Mount Vernon for that entire 8 years.  Personally, I don't like being away from home for 8 hrs, or 8 days.  I can't imagine the enormous dedication required to endure 8 years.


The Patriot Bride

1774 Philadelphia - American Revolutionary War

 The Patriot Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower
Book 4
Check Price
Faith Jackson is a mere child whose parents were killed in a home fire.  Her neighbor, a young George Washington, becomes Faith's guardian.  Being an only child, Faith has always looked up to George, like an older brother.  Now, she depends on him for everything.  

Because George is a single, young man with a job, he places Faith with friends, a wealthy childless married couple in Boston, but he maintains frequent correspondence with Faith.  When her adoptive parents die, once again George is the only constant in her life.

George introduces her to a soldier, whom she marries.  Sadly, her new husband dies in battle within a week.  Now, Faith is an extremely wealthy young widow.  

As a prominent member of Boston society with plenty of free time, Faith, along with a group of friends, provides aid and volunteers frequently to community service.  These activities, along with her long standing relationship to George Washington, make Faith the perfect messenger for the patriots.  She is assigned a permanent contact, whom she meets regularly to exchange information.

It is necessary to trust messengers completely.  It doesn't take long for Faith to form a strong attachment to Matthew Weber.  When he doesn't show for "meetings", Faith worries something has happened to him.  Likewise, if Faith does not make a meeting, Matthew worries about her.  After all, no one understands better than Faith, how anything can happen in wartime and both sides would seek to eliminate spies or intercept inportant messages. 


A Few of My Personal Thoughts About The Patriot Bride


If I had previously read a review that told me about the personal tragedies in Faith's life, I might have thought it would be a very sad book to read.  That was not the case.  We were told of the deaths and difficulties, but we were not forced to read chapters of details or suffer with Faith as they happened.

The Patriot Bride Book Reviewed
Also, her fondness of George Washington, followed by their continued alliance, actually made perfect sense.  At no time did the author try to make their relationship inappropriate or unfitting of the father of our country.

I thoroughly enjoyed the intrigue, including the stressful uncertainties,  in this book.  Although, I must admit, my favorite part included Benjamin Franklin wearing a dress, which made me laugh out loud in the middle of the night.

Just as the previous books in this series, The Patriot Bride would not easily release me for sleep.  I literally had to find peaceful moments in the middle of chapters to decide to set it down so I could get needed rest.  But, be assured, I awoke with a desire to continue reading instead of attending to my daily work.

I give this book my highest recommendation!



The Daughters of the Mayflower Book Series


While this is a series, the books do not focus on one character.  They are based on a family lineage, descendants of one original Mayflower couple.  Furthermore, the books are written by different authors, which gives each story a unique quality.

Each stand-alone book is most excellent and deserving of individual praise for being outstanding literature. 
 

Previously Reviewed Book from the Daughters of the Mayflower Series

 
The Mayflower Bride Book ReviewThe Mayflower Bride Book 1 Reviewed

True American History woven into the fabric of fiction! An excellent historical romantic fiction about the Mayflower voyagers: Separatists & Strangers..



The Pirate Bride Book ReviewThe Pirate Bride Book Review

At the innocent age of 12, Maribel Cordoba's life changes forever. Her formative years & education are guided by nuns, but she never truly forgets the pirate who stole her heart.



The Captured Bride Book ReviewThe Captured Bride Book Review

An unlikely team is assigned a mission that is fraught with danger. It becomes necessary to trust a previously perceived enemy. I highly recommend this historical Christian fiction.









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Monday, December 23, 2019

Feast Of The Seven Fishes Book Review

Is your family archive of recipes full of recipes tucked away in notebooks, on napkins, folded pieces of paper and the old school recipe cards? And haven't you always wanted to turn those treasured recipes into a book along with the family memories?


Book cover of Feast Of The Seven Fishes with old family photos and fish on the cover.


In Feast Of The Seven Fishes a families' authentic Italian recipes are shared in combination with the stories of each recipe and the neighborhood which shaped this family and its' traditions.


Memoir + Cookbook

Feast Of The Seven Fishes: A Brooklyn Italian's Recipes Celebrating Food & Family by Daniel Paterna is a combination memoir and cookbook. This is the story of the community of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn and the impact the community had upon the author and his family through the generations. Food, family and community are interwoven with delightful neighborhood anecdotes with the impact of remembering history for those who grew up in Bensonhurst and to preserve it for future generations.

The story of Bensonhurst will resonate if your Grandma, food, family dinners and family owned neighborhood shops were apart of your community. It is rare for a cookbook to read as a memoir and vice versa which is what makes this combination so unique and enjoyable.


The Recipes

Do you have a treasure trove of family recipes written or typed on the old school index recipe cards? I suspect you do and the photos of this families' recipes handwritten on index cards certainly evoke fond memories of my Grandma and Mom's favorite recipes! And of course there are the personalized "notes" on the cards ...

The authentic Italian recipes are detailed throughout the journey of the neighborhood as the author recalls the family food shops which were an integral and historical part of the family recipes. 

Take a journey through each major holiday and the traditional Italian recipes which accompany each holiday.  The chapter with a compilation of Feast Of The Seven Fishes recipes is amazing and slightly intimidating (due to the number of dishes) for one who has never cooked such a feast! However, the recipes are inspiring to all cooks to either compare your family recipe or for those seeking authentic Italian recipes.

I am excited to cook these recipes and up my cooking game with authentic Italian recipes! Memoir fans and cookbook fans are sure to enjoy this book. This is a perfect gift for those who want real Italian recipes - old school - and aren't those recipes usually the best!

I received this book from the Publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Book Review- The School of Essential Ingredients

Are you looking for a good book to read that is just a bit different?  The School of Essential Ingredients has a delightful main character, an interesting take on cooking and a look into the lives of a wide variety of cooking students.
Apples are one of my Favorite Basic Ingredients

When our book club picked this book to read for the monthly meeting, I was not sure if I would like it.  I enjoy a good mystery or historical fiction and this book did not fit into either of these molds.  However, it only took me one chapter to get hooked on this book.  The author has such an interesting way of writing that I instantly got involved in the book.

Lillian, the main character owns a restuarant and conducts a cooking school in the back rooms.  She has a very unique way of cooking that instantly got me interested.  She didn't use recipes but rather concentrated on the basic ingredients for each dish and explored with her students how to make the most of the ingredients.  Lillian surely was a true artist when it came to her cooking.  She had a way of making everything magical and made me want to get in my kitchen and experiment.

The book is set up with a chapter for each student of the cooking class.  As the dish for that evening is explored we also learn a little bit about each of the students and why they came to the class to start with.  Each student had their own story and they were a very diverse group.  Lillian not only had a way with the food but also with each of her students.  She seemed to bring out the best in people and helped them to explore the situations in their lives.

                                                             
I don't want to spoil the story line for you.  But I will tell you if you enjoy cooking and reading you must try this book.  I highly recommend it.


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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Gift Ideas

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Gift Ideas


I LIKE BIG BOOKS AND I CANNOT LIE


You other readers can't deny
When a good book walks in with
A good plot base
And a big spine in your face
You get sprung!
Wanna get out your notepads
'Cause you noticed that book
Was dense.
Deep in the book I'm reading,
I'm hooked and I can't stop
Speeding, through Baby
I wanna get that literature,
And Instagram that picture,
My teachers try to train me
But that book you've got
Makes me so brainy!
(Baby got books!)


I know the meme is not new. It started with the reworking of a song called Baby Got Back, which was about an obsession with a part of a woman’s anatomy. The new version, Baby Got Books, embraces the love of books and has spawned the creation of endless videos and creative versions of the lyrics.

Yes, I love to read as is evidenced by the reviews I have written here on Review This and yes, I like big books. Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, anyone? That one will keep you reading for awhile.

Drawn in at first by the cover and the thickness of the spine, if a book is engrossing and if it offers up a good plot with intriguing characters and an interesting setting, I am definitely going to be found curled up with a throw blanket, a cup of tea and the book in question. Live a different life via a book? Heck, yes! Learn by seeing the world through someone else’s eyes? For sure and the bigger the book, the better.

Anyway, if you or someone you know loves books and suffers from Big-Book-Picker-Outer Syndrome, you will be interested in this page of fabulous and fun gift ideas all of which are available from Etsy and all of which contain the quote, I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie. There is something here for everyone!

T-SHIRTS


Let’s start with a t-shirt. I believe that they are practical and useful gifts and that they are a great way to declare to the world that you love to read and of course, they are available for both men and women in a variety of sizes and colors.

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Men's T-Shirt

I Like Big Books Women's T-Shirt


HOME DECOR


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Cushion

I found a number of options for your home décor including this cushion and two art posters. The cushion is available in a wide range of sizes and in three fairly neutral colors. Be aware that you are buying the cover and will have to provide the actual cushion for inside. Find the cushion cover here in Modernality's Home Decor shop on Etsy.

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Print

Upcycled I Like Big Books Quotation Print

The first poster is a digital download for you to print at home. It features all of the words to the rewritten song. You can buy it and print it almost instantly at home, if you have the capability to do so, or at your print shop.  Find it in Doodling for Days' Etsy shop here. The second picture is an upcycled print that features the title of the song printed on an old dictionary page. You can find it in Whisker Print's Etsy shop here. Both are very appropriate artwork, I think, for book lovers!

COFFEE MUGS


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Coffee Mug

If you know me, you know I have a fascination with coffee mugs and mugs as gift ideas. So many fun images that are customizable to the interest of the recipient. In this case, I love the perfectly nerdy design on both of these mugs, the first more appropriate for the female nerd and the second an acceptable choice for a male or the female book nerd. The ceramic mug shown above is both microwave and dishwasher safe but the tin one shown below requires hand washing and is not microwave safe but it is also not breakable. You can find the first mug in Foxy Mug's Etsy shop here and the second mug in Rabbit Print's shop here.

I Like Big Books Coffee Mug


ENAMEL PIN AND UPCYCLED BOOKMARK

I Like Big Books Enamel Pin


I think that both the enameled pin shown above and the upcycled bookmark shown below are totally adorable. They would be great add-ons to any book lover’s gift, make a wonderful stocking stuffer or even make a simple, inexpensive gift idea for someone who you know loves books. Find the pin here in Literary Emporium's shop and the bookmark here in Stamp and Soul's shop.

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Bookmark


TOTE BAG


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Tote Bag

Finally, gather the components of your gift set together and ‘wrap’ them up in this simple, attractive and inexpensive canvas tote bag. It is more practical and environmentally friendly than wrapping paper and will make many, many trips to the library and the bookstore! Find it in the Sewing Laboratory.

How about it? Do you love big books or do you prefer your books short and sweet?

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Follow this link to Etsy’s Gift Guide and yes, if you purchase a product through a link on this page, I may receive a small affiliate commission.
How to Build a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Gift Set.
How to Build a Frosty the Snowman Gift Set.










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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Reviewing Progress On A Series

Author's Progress Report

A few weeks ago, I reviewed my plans for next year as far as my writing journey goes. I thought it might be fun to give a bit of a progress report on how that is going. I mentioned that I would be introducing a few new series as I move forward. One that will be introduced first is the series that will involve a Babbs Bennett Mystery.

progress on series
Series progress
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Introducing Babbs Bennett

So, my plan is to publish one book a month next year and I'm already working on achieving my goal. The first book to be published in January will be Valentine Vengeance. You will be introduced to Barbara Bennett who is affectionately called Babbs by her family and friends. She is a retired librarian who has returned to her hometown to help her cousin Harlan Holiday as he recuperates from an accident. 

Harlan owns a book store in the small town of Appleton, Indiana. Babbs plans to see to his recovery while running the book store for him in his absence. The two were born only 9 days apart 67 years ago which makes their relationship more like brother and sister than cousins. On her first visit to check on her cousin, he tells her that he didn't fall but was pushed into a ravine. He also mentions a girl who died some 50 years ago. Babbs suspects that the pain medication he is on is causing him to have some rather wild dreams that he thinks are real. 

As the days begin to pass by in the story, readers will be introduced to a cast of characters that I hope they will love as much as I do. Readers will meet Sydney Miller a special needs girl of 16 who comes to Holiday Books each day after school. She believes she is working for Mr. H but there is actually a different reason she comes to the shop each day. 

Babbs has kept in touch with her three best friends over the years and soon asks them to help her solve a 50 year old cold case from their own past. Marjorie, Lizzie (Elizabeth), and Cilla (Priscilla) agree to help her try to figure out what happened to the beautiful girl all those years ago while trying to see if there is a connection to the accident Harlan has experienced. You will have to read the book when it is released to find out what happens and if the Fearless Four can solve the mystery.

Moving ahead...

I have finished writing Valentine Vengeance and even have a cover design for it. I will try to release it as close to January 1st as is possible. Currently I'm working on book 2 of the Babbs Bennett series which I plan to release in February. 

As an author, I enjoy all of the characters that I write about. I must admit that I have really had some fun with Babbs and her friends, we are all the same age. The character of Cilla makes me laugh! I'm hoping my readers will love everyone in the books, too. 

I know many of our regular readers have read at least some of my books already but if you haven't you can find them on my Author's Page on Amazon. I hope if you have read any of my books, you will take the time to leave a review on Amazon. It only takes a second of your time and means so much to me. Reviews help other readers decide whether they want to read the book or not, that is why they are so important. 






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Friday, November 29, 2019

The Captured Bride Book Reviewed

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 3 in the Series


The Captured Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower Series - Book 3 Reviewed
Every book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series is fabulous!

I started reading through this series several weeks ago. I wasn't sure how cohesive the series would be since the books were individually written by different authors.  The first book, The Mayflower Bride, was written by Kimberley Woodhouse, a new author to me.  The second book, The Pirate Bride, was written by Kathleen Y'Barbo.  I have read several books by Y'Barbo, therefore I knew it would be a great book.  The subject of today's review, The Captured Bride, was written by Michelle Griep, another new author to me.

Thus far, I have loved every book in this series and I have been thrilled to find new authors (to me) that I can trust to offer excellence in writing without explicit, gory, or less desirable content.  Simply, pure literary entertainment that is well worth reading.



Background on the Daughters of the Mayflower Series


As you may already know, or have guessed, these books are filled with American history references and characters.  The historical accuracy is part of what makes them so fascinating.

Starting at the beginning of American history with the Mayflower, the authors have created a family lineage that carries down through each book.  In the Mayflower Bride, Mary Elizabeth Chapman marries William Lytton, thus the beginning of the subsequent stories.

Each book places a Lytton descendant in a pivotal, or important, place in the history of America.  The characters and plots are all compelling. Even though the series was written by different authors, the books have a cohesive thread.  I can detect a bit of author individual style in the books, but it is not so obvious that it is detracting from the stories. 


Daughters of the Mayflower Series - Books



The Captured Bride Book Synopsis
1760 - French & Indian War


One could hardly write a series about American history and omit the American Indian heritage.  

 The Captured Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower -
Book 3
Check Price
Mercy Lytton is the daughter of a Mohawk Indian and a captive white mother.  Because of her mixed race, Mercy has loyalties to both the English and her Native American tribe, which are aligned against the French.  Her keen eyesight and ability to move throughout the woods without detection make her the perfect scout for the English.  For years, Mercy has worked closely with Captain Matthew Prinn.  She scouts and he has her back, always protecting her.  

Mercy and Matthew are assigned to transport gold from one fort to another.  Since it must be moved by wagon, they are to pose as a father, daughter and husband.  However, who is the husband?  Much to Mercy's disdain, her designated "husband" is a prisoner of French heritage.  They are instructed to never give Elias Dubois a gun.  He is simply being transported along with the gold.  

On their journey, it becomes necessary to form a fragile alliance with one another in order to survive, but Matthew & Mercy are hesitant to fully trust Elias.  They hold to their orders and refuse to give him a gun.  However, Elias proves to be a formidable foe without a rifle.  Unbeknownst to them, Elias has his own agenda that, for now, is served well by being aligned with the traveling scouts. 

At least, that is his plan until the unthinkable happens!



My Personal Opinion of "The Captured Bride"


I always love a book that surprises me and holds me captive.  Thus was the case with "The Captured Bride". 

While the name of the book gives some expectation of what must take place, the how, who and why, was still rather unforeseen.  This book takes the reader on a journey of their own, full of adventure, intrigue and completely unexpected events.  

Yes, I was fighting sleep because I simply had to keep reading.  It was a sad moment, yet satisfying, when I realized I had read the last word. 

As I said earlier, this author was previously unknown to me.  However, after reading "The Captured Bride", I will be seeking out more of her books.  As for "The Captured Bride", I highly recommend this book!



The Daughters of the Mayflower Series





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