Showing posts with label Treasures By Brenda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Treasures By Brenda. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Hallmark Gifts for Mom

FUN AND AFFORDABLE HALLMARK GIFT IDEAS FOR MOM

Discover five fun, fabulous and affordable gift ideas for mom on Mother's Day or any day of the year!

No doubt your Mom raised as Hallmark says, "Good, kind kids who are a great gift to the world." Who better then to offer up a special gift idea for your Mom than Hallmark, whether it be for Mother's Day or on any day of the year? 

On this page you will find gathered together six wonderful Hallmark gift ideas including the Blooming Expressions flowers; the Mom and Me Recordable Conversations To Keep book; a shadow box picture frame; the There is No One Like Mom CD; the movie Soldier Love Story; and, a fun Mom-themed coffee mug series.

I am sure that you will find something here that is within your budget and perfect for your Mom.

BLOOMING EXPRESSIONS FLOWERS



Hallmark's Blooming Expressions flowers will bloom every year for mom!


There are an assortment of Hallmark Blooming Expressions flowers available, including pink and red rose versions. Each vase features a variety of expressions like, "I Love You" and "You Are the Heart of Our Family." I like the idea that this item is an everlasting gift that mom can use to decorate her table, dresser or desk. They will bloom for mom forever!  Find your Blooming Expressions flower on Amazon by clicking right here.


Hallmark Mom and Me Conversations to Keep Recordable Storybook records Mom and her little one talking.

MOM AND ME CONVERSATIONS TO KEEP RECORDABLE STORY BOOK


Some of the most beloved gifts given to Moms are those that are personal in one way or another. A Hallmark Mom and Me recordable book fits that bill very nicely. With a Mom and Me recordable storybook, a young Mom records the voices of herself and her children having an informal and fun chat.

The book provides fun, open-ended questions like, "If you and your mom had a super power, what would it be?" and "What do you want to be when you grow up?" With this special memory book, mom records their thoughts NOW so that she will have them as a treasured keepsake when they are grown up. I sure wish that I had done something similar when my boys were young.

A Hallmark's Mom and Me Recordable Storybook is the perfect gift idea for any mother with young children. You can find the Hallmark Mom and Me Recordable storybooks on eBay by clicking right here


SHADOW BOX PICTURE FRAMES


This Hallmark Shadow Box is filled with treasures from Treasures By Brenda on eBay but your mom can of course personalize it with her own momentos!

With Hallmark's personalized shadow boxes, you can frame pictures of your family along with small mementoes and quotes. Whether you choose to do the decorating or you leave it up to mom, there are a variety of frames available. See the Hallmark Shadow Box frames on eBay by clicking right here.

MUSIC CD FOR MOMS

Hallmark's lovely music CD for mom features music by assorted artists.

Hallmark's There Is No One Like Mom CD features music by various artists including Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Diana Ross and Sting and is an appropriate and affordable gift for moms everywhere. Find it on eBay by clicking here.

SOLDIER LOVE STORY


Faith and Family's Soldier Love Story launched the 2009 Countdown to Mother's Day on the Hallmark Channel, thus feeding the confusion as to whether or not it is a Hallmark movie.

In Soldier Love Story, a ten-year old boy named Jared's life fell apart when his parents divorced. His Dad seems to put his job ahead of him and his mother makes him move in with his Grandma in California so that his mom can take a job there. When the boy's classroom writes letters to U.S. troops who are posted in Afghanistan, a sergeant named Vince who himself had no father takes a shine to the boy and corresponds with him in a fatherly manner. When Vince returns from Afghanistan, he is warmly welcomed and becomes a boyfriend to the boy's mother, with the understanding that there can be no commitment because he will likely be sent back to Afghanistan.

Soldier Love Story was originally called Meet My Mom. It is a lovely story and would make a wonderful Mother's Day gift for any Mom who loves Hallmark movies and in particular for any Mom with a connection to the Armed Forces. It is a hugely popular Hallmark movie with viewers praising it because it combines a bit of romance and family with a lot of respect for soldiers.

Please note that this is not actually a Hallmark movie. Rather, it is a made-for-tv movie that first aired as the lead movie for the Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Mother's Day in 2009. That's good enough for me. It is still a great movie choice for mom. Find  Soldier Love Story on Amazon by clicking right here.

KEN SHELDON MUGS FOR MOM

This is one of a series of Hallmark mugs featuring Ken Sheldon and a mom theme.

Of course, there's nothing quite like a mug for Mom, especially if she loves her cup of tea or coffee. If she does, she will appreciate using a mug every single day that you chose with her in mind. I enjoy the sentiments on these Ken Sheldon mugs, of which there is a series that includes various pieces, not just coffee mugs, and pieces for dad, too. Find all of Hallmark's Ken Sheldon items on eBay by clicking right here.

What will you be giving your mom for Mother’s Day this year?

See you 
next time!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

More Gift Ideas for Moms:



Vintage Taylor and Ng Coffee Mugs

A Clowder of Black Cat Coffee Mugs

Note from Author: This page previously published in part elsewhere.




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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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Fun & Fab Book Accessories and Gift Ideas

A page full of fun and fabulous book accessories and gift ideas for friends, family and yourself!

If you love books, you will love the fun and fabulous book-themed gift ideas and accessories that I have catalogued for you here on this Review This blog page. If not exactly what you are looking for, they are sure to be a great jumping off point for a gift idea for yourself or for a friend or family member who just cannot take their nose out of a book. All of these book-themed gifts are from Etsy, many of them are available in a variety of materials and patterns and some of them can be personalized with your or your loved one's name or initials. 

HOLDER

Wooden book holder frees your other hand to handle a mug or glass or whatever needs handling!

If you love to read while enjoying your favorite beverage, you will love this little wooden tool. It is designed to help you hold the pages of your book open with one hand thus freeing up the other to hold a mug of your favorite hot and steamy beverage. 

Reader Dickenson said, “I decided to finally read all the big books on my shelf, and my thumbs have been suffering. This thing is amazing! I will probably be buying ten of these as Christmas gifts later this year.” I think that is a brilliant review and I know exactly what it is like to try to keep the pages of a big, trade paperback book open! 

This device is simple and practical and small and affordable. It is something you probably have never heard of  before but once you have seen it you will surely appreciate it. You will find this little wooden book holder from Engaged Book on Etsy by clicking right here.

COFFEE MUG & SWEATSHIRT


It’s a good day to read a book coffee mug!

Did someone mention a steamy hot beverage? Now that one of your hands has been freed up by the book holder, you need a mug for the other hand!  Book lovers will want to consider this coffee mug that will make you smile. It reads “It’s a Good Day to Read a Book.” If you are a big reader, you know that rule applies to every day and you will therefore want to use this mug every day, too! 

Fun bookt-themed t-shirt reads "It's a Good Day to Read a Book."

Sets make wonderful gift ideas. Why not make it a matched set? The "It's a Good Day to Read a Book" slogan is also available on a t-shirt or a sweatshirt. 

Reader Inbelding says, "I collect literary shirts and this one is my new favorite!" You will find the coffee mug, the tee and more book-themed items from The Harper House on Etsy by clicking here

It is definitely worth noting that The Harper House has many other book themed tees and sweatshirts with fun slogans like "Bookish", "Bookmarks are for Quitters", "One More Chapter", "Books and Coffee and more Books", "One More Chapter" and "It's Not Hoarding if its Books.

METAL BOOKMARK


Metal Bookmark Personalized with Your Name!

This bookmark is so pretty! I love the uniqueness of this personalized calligraphic bookmark with the little heart and a bead. Instead of a name or a word like mom or dad, Charlene also fashions bookmarks with other items on the top like a jigsaw puzzle piece, a bird or a wine glass. 

Reader Janet says, "I think so highly of Charlene! Her artistry and creativity has helped me make so many people extremely happy!"  

You can find these unique bookmarks on Etsy from kraze4paper by clicking right here.

SPOON BOOKMARK


Upcycled vintage hand-stamped bookmarks share a love of books and reading!

How about a hand-stamped bookmark? The text on these vintage spoons makes me smile and can be customized to whatever you want to say. I really like “Drink Tea. Read Books. Be Happy” because that fits me to a tea, pun intended. However, I will admit that “Fell asleep here” would be really appropriate, too. 

Reader Ziehr says, "This is the third spoon book marker that I have ordered. It fits snuggly on my book and it does not move around. It's a great personalized gift for any reader.

Find these fun vintage spoon bookmarks on Etsy from Stamped Frosting by clicking right here.

BIRD BOOKENDS


Attractive metal bird bookends will make you smile!

Bookends, anyone? If you enjoy displaying your books, a pair of bookends can be found to suit any interest. I love these bird-themed bookends and think they’d do a great job organizing the stacks of cookbook in a kitchen exactly as they appear in this photograph. 

Reader Fulkerson says, "These bookends look so cute poking out the sides of my open shelving.

Find them from Max Foundry on Etsy by clicking here.

TRAVEL BOOKENDS


A pair of travel themed bookends for the armchair traveller's books!

Those, like me, who are armchair travelers will love these vintage globe-themed bookends though because they are vintage, they are one-of-a-kind find. Once they are sold, they will be gone and you will have to look further afield to find a set that appeals to you. You will find these globe bookmarks on Etsy from Marchpuces by clicking here

You can also check out all of the vintage globe bookends on Etsy by clicking here.

UPCYCLED BOOKENDS


These upcycled bookends are sure to please any dog lover!

How about some dog-themed bookends? These ones are perfect for a dog lover. They are upcycled bricks painted by the artist in a variety of themes including this dog one.

Reader Bilhartz says that they are “Even nicer in person than I expected!! You’d think painted bricks are just painted bricks, but no! These are really well done. You can tell there is artistic talent, attention to detail, an eye for attractive color combos, and that very high quality, thick and vivid paint was used!” What a great review! What more can I say? 

You can check out these and a pair of cat-themed bookends from Brickends on Etsy by clicking right here.

PADDED BOOK SLEEVE


Pretty Watercolor Wildflowers padded book sleeve will help keep your book safe when you are on the go!

I will admit that when we travel, I put my book into a plastic bag to give it some protection in the car or in my carry-on bag. I never thought that there might be a more attractive way to carry my book around while at the same time offering it some protection. Enter this beautiful padded book sleeve. 

Reader Saelua says, "Beautiful fabric and well made! I got the largest size so I’d be ready to carry any book I need. Right now I’m able to fit one medium sized book and one small in it at the same time. Looking forward to using this for a long long time." 

Annette offers a few fun patterns that currently include this pretty Watercolor Wildflowers. You are sure to find one that best suits you or your recipient's interests. 

You will find them on Etsy from Fred 'N Polly by clicking here.

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Well, there you have it. A page full of fun and fabulous book accessories and interesting gift ideas. You will find all of them gathered together on my Etsy Favorites page. Just click here and then follow the Book Accessories tab.  Is there something here for you or the book lover in your life?

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda


 
For those who love their books, here's a page full of book accessories and gift ideas.




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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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Canada Reads Book List 2021

Canada Reads Book List 2021

Every year Canada's Broadcasting Corporation or CBC as it is more commonly known, releases a short list of five Canadian books. It's a battle of the books competition in which the five books are brought forward by five Canadian celebrities and in March they come together over five days to debate the merits of the books eliminating one each day. On the final day, a winner is proclaimed the book that we should all read. 

I thought I would give you a brief review of the Canada Reads program and the books that were nominated this year. It was interesting to learn a bit about each of the books and consider adding them to my reading list. Obviously since I have not read them, I cannot personally vouch for them though I can give you a brief description, share the official Canada Reads book trailers, and, at the end, tell you the name of this year's winner.  I might help to know that these books have often been nominated for other literary awards.

Here we go, the nominated books for 2021 under the theme 'One Book to Transport Us'.


BUTTER HONEY PIG BREAD BY FRANCESCA EKWUYASI 

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread transports the reader from Lagos to London to Halifax. It is the story of three generations of women from Nigeria, a mother and her estranged twin daughters. The mother "believes that she is an Ogbanje, or an Abiku, a non-human spirit that plagues a family with misfortune by being born and then dying in childhood to cause a human mother misery. She has made the unnatural choice of staying alive to love her human family but lives in fear of the consequences of her decision." This book is about food and family and forgiveness, about choices and consequences, and about friendship and faith. 

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 4.4 out of 5 by Goodreads readers. 

Writing on The Suburban author Meredith says that this book "ended up being her personal favourite to win the 2021 competition. It was a book that she simply didn’t want to put down and a story that she didn’t want to end."

Here's the official Canada Reads book trailer:




TWO TREES MAKE A FOREST: IN SEARCH OF MY FAMILY'S PAST AMONG TAIWAN'S MOUNTAINS AND COASTS 

Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts

Two Trees Make a Forest transports the reader to Taiwan and is a book about memory, love, and landscape, about finding a home, about the distance between people and places and how they meet. 

The author uncovers letters written by her immigrant grandfather that take her from Canada to her ancestral home in Taiwan where she searches for her grandfather's story while learning about the land that he grew up on. She hikes and bikes and swims. She learns about the mountains and the flatlands, the flora and the fauna. She discovers the similarities between natural stories and human stories that created her family and this island. The book is about the world of nature but it also looks at the colonial exploration of Taiwan. It "encompasses history, travel, nature, and memoir."

Rated 4.1 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 3.6 out of 5 by Goodreads readers.

The reviewer on Bomb says, that this book is "A remarkable exercise in careful attention, be it to the nuances of language, the turns of colonial history, or a grandfather’s difficult-to-read handwriting, Two Trees Makes A Forest is a moving treatise on how to look closely and see truthfully, even as the fog rolls in."

Here's the official Canada Reads book trailer:




THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN BY C.L. POLK

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain transports the reader to Regency England. It is a fantasy novel set in a world that looks like Regency England where women must give up their ability to perform magic when they get married. Obviously, this means that you have something else to think about when you are a mighty sorceress and aspire to be the best female magician. In this book the main character wants to be come a full Magus and continue pursuing magic like men do but her family needs her to be a debutante during Bargaining Season and marry to save them financially. She finds the key to becoming a Magus but it is twisted up with the brother of a handsome, compassionate, wealthy man. The question becomes, will she become a Magus and ruin her family or will she marry the man she loves and give up her magic and identity? 

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 4.2 out of 5 by Goodreads readers.

Colleen Mondor on Locus says, "The witty exchanges are indeed sparkling and the verbal cuts are of the sharpest varieties. Polk is so clearly in her element that readers will be carried away by the sheer radiance of her smartly crafted prose and, like me, sorely miss Beatrice when they make that final and satisfying turn of the page."

Here's the official Canada Reads trailer for The Midnight Bargain:




HENCH BY NATALIE ZINA WALSCHOTS 

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Hench transports the reader to the world of superheroes and villains. As a young woman working as a temporary office employee, she finds a great job as a hench. Howver, things go wrong, the hero leaves her injured and she gets laid off. Using her internet prowess, she finds out that what happened to her is not unique and when she shares her story, she no longer feels powerless. She discovers that the differences between good and evil may boil down to marketing, which she knows how to manipulate. When she is once again employed, albeit this time to one of the worst villains out there, she discovers she could save the world. 

This book is a novel of love and betrayal and revenge and redemption. It is a look at the cost of justice via "a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics." 

The readers on Amazon gave this book a 4.5 out of 5 and the readers at Goodreads gave it a 4.15 out of 5.

In the promotional information about the book, Seanan McGuire says "Hench is fast, furious, compelling and angry as hell." On NPR, Jessica P. Wick says, "Although the author tackles serious issues like how women are treated in the workplace, or how friendships might splinter under the weight of fear, Hench is steeped in the glorious campiness of Golden and Silver Age superheroes. There are lava guns! Mind control devices! Costumes! Lairs! Supercars! Awe! Names like Doc Proton, the Accelerator, the Tidal Four, Electric Eel, the Cassowary, the Auditor. It's fun. It's emotional. It feels like a friend. But it's not comforting. I think it might be terribly honest, and I honestly can't wait to see what Natalie Zina Walschots does next with the genre."

Here's the official book trailer for Hench:




JOHNNY APPLESEED BY JOSHUA WHITEHEAD 


Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Johnny Appleseed takes us to the world of an Indian glitter princess. Our main character is trying to forge a life off of the reserve in the big city and becomes a cybersex worker in order to survive. He has to go back to the 'rez' and his former world for the funeral of his stepfather. What follows are seven days. Seven days full of stories that include "love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition and heartbreaking recollection of his beloved grandmother." As he readies to return home, he figures out how to put together his life in this look at "First Nations life which is full of grit, glitter, and dreams."

Amazon reviewers give Johnny Appleseed a 4.3 out of 5 and reviewers on Goodreads, a 4.1 out of 5.

The Globe and Mail says, "Despite its often serious subject matter, Jonny Appleseed is a very funny book, in the same way that Indigenous people themselves are often very funny despite our traumas. In that way, reading this book felt to me like home. Every line felt like being back on Six Nations, laughing with my family, even though I was in my apartment in Brantford. With its fluid structure and timelines, Jonny Appleseed creates a dream-like reading experience – and with a narrator as wise, funny and loveable as Jonny, it’s the sort of dream you don’t want to wake up from."

Here's the official book trailer for Johnny Appleseed:




AND THE WINNER IS...


After five sessions of debate that you can watch on CBC by clicking right here, the panel voted Johnny Appleseed as the winner. In my mind, though I have yet to read any of these books and they may not all appeal to everyone, these books are all winners in their own ways.  

Here is the highlights reel from the five debates. It gives a further insight into each of the books, into the passion behind the individual presenting the book and into the varied and interesting stories written within.



That's it. The 2021 Canada Reads book list. There are a bunch of books here that I would never have picked randomly but some of the storylines and some of the reviews from other individuals have left me thinking that I might read them. How about you? Are there any books on this list that you find intriguing? Any that you have read?

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:



CBC's Canada Reads Book List 2021






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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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Antoine Laurain's Vintage 1954 Book Reviewed

Antoine Laurain's Vintage 1954

I usually know exactly how I am going to start a book review before I even put the book down. However, that was not the case with the book Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain because I was concerned that speaking of any of the individual moments in the book would ruin the fun surprises.

Inspired by the tagline on the front of the book I decided I would simply ask, “What would you do if you could travel to the Paris of your dreams. In 1954?” That is exactly what happens in this book though it is definitely a case of time travel for entertainment purposes and not a scientific look at time travel.

Four residents of a Parisian apartment building meet and, after sharing a very special bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, they discover that it has, as the back cover of the book says, special properties. They wake up the next morning in 1954 with some of them temporarily unaware of the difference and others instantly aware that things are not as they should be.

The characters are an interesting mix that includes a man whose family originally owned almost all of the apartments in the building, an antique restorer, a mixologist and an American tourist who is renting an Airbnb. It is through each of their perspectives that we see Paris of the 1950s.

NB Magazine put it perfectly when they say that, "the comedy is gentle and slightly absurd and that there are many clever vignettes and sketches that enrich the novel." I totally agree. Vintage 1954 is a lightweight but charming, entertaining and sometimes funny book that is RECOMMENDED by me. 

The book was exactly what I and perhaps even you need right about now. It is historical fiction of a different sort. It is quirky or whimsical. It is a romantic book but one in which the romance stems from the setting and the storytelling rather than the fact that two of the characters in the book discover that they love each other. Some might call it a good summer read.

In my mind, there is nothing dark or nasty about it at all though there is a sex scene and the drinking of alcohol. The book is a chance for a trip to Paris from the comfort of your armchair and an opportunity to see and think about some of the contrasts between the Paris of 2017 and the Paris of 1954 and of course, simply the contrasts between those years wherever you may be. The world is a very different place today than it was then.

I enjoyed meeting the characters, seeing Paris through each of their individual lenses, seeing the city of lights in a different time and having the opportunity to meet some of the celebrities who frequented 1950s Paris. I am not naming the celebrities so that you can enjoy them when you meet them in the book.  I was surprised at the very end of the book when the author managed to squeeze in a little life lesson for each of them.

How about it? Would you like to travel back to 1954 or to read this book? Find your copy of or learn more about Vintage 1954 on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Vintage 1954 on Amazon.
The Time Traveler’s Wife movie review.
An American in Paris movie review.
Discover French Kiss, the ultimate romantic movie soundtrack
Pam Jenoff's Lost Girls of Paris book 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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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Pam Jenoff's Lost Girls of Paris Book Review

Lost Girls of Paris Book Review


With the novel The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff, I once again reviewed life in Europe during and just after World War II. The book is fictional but based on the true story of Vera Atkins and her female special operations agents.

THE STORY


I struggled at first to settle into the pages of this book but when I did, I was rewarded with the story of a woman named Eleanor Trigg and a group of women she recruited and trained to become secret agents. Those women would eventually be sent from England to occupied France as part of the resistance movement’s effort to disrupt the advance of the German army. The women were employed as couriers and radio operators and were eventually lost. 

The book travels from Europe to New York City when a suitcase containing photographs of the missing women is found in Grand Central Station. The story of these female special agents would have been totally abandoned and they themselves left unaccounted for if it were not for the efforts of one woman after the war.

REVIEWS


Reviewers on Amazon peg the book quite correctly as romantic in nature. Some question some of the historical facts and many of the decisions made by characters in the book. Some felt that the book had too many coincidences and that it did not always ring true. However, despite these criticisms, the book received 86 percent four- and five-star ratings, which does not seem too bad to me so I looked further.

U.S.A. Today called this Jenoff work of fiction “a gauzier, more florid and awkwardly romantic account” of the true story of Vera Atkins and her team of  spies saying that the book has “all of the tension of a Hallmark card.” I agree. It definitely is romantic and nice version of the story and is not the best historical fiction book from that time period that I have read.


The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff


Kirkus calls the book, “a sadly slapdash World War II adventure”, which references, I believe, some of the factual problems readers have with this book. The problems are in errors with the details. Did diners (restaurants) have television sets in the 1940s? Would those TVs have been broadcasting the news while diners ate their meals? How could you have planned a honeymoon aboard the Queen Elizabeth II, which was not built until the 1960s? Was renting a car possible in those days? Were the terms single mother and Ms. in use? Was duct tape available to the public or just the military? How many states were there in the United States in 1946? I have not fact checked any of these questions and some of them I did not jump out at me when I was reading the book. A few of them could have and hopefully have been easily corrected in subsequent printings.

Finally, the readers at Goodreads give The Lost Girls of Paris a score of 3.88. Once again, that score is not too bad in my opinion. On that platform, reviewer Matthew said, “I liked the story, but in the realm of WWII fiction it is not in the upper echelons. Maybe you will enjoy it more than I did and can look past the issues…” Personally, I am inclined to agree with that score on Goodreads and with Matthew’s comments. 

I would RECOMMEND but NOT highly recommend the historical work of fiction that is The Lost Girls of Paris.

If you enjoy historical fiction set in World War II, Europe, or if you are looking for a book with interesting female protagonists, you should enjoy this book. That is, if you are willing to accept it as written and not be tripped up by historical inaccuracies like those referenced above.

If you want to learn more, you can find The Lost Girls of Paris on Amazon by clicking right here. If you do read the book, be sure to come back and let us know what you think.

I will end with a question. How important is historical accuracy to you in your historical fiction books? Do mistakes like those mentioned above ruin a book for you or are you happy to discount them as part of an author’s work at crafting a compelling story?

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

More World War II Fiction:




Pam Jenoff's The Lost Girls of Paris


The Lost Girls of Paris






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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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Jeffrey Siger's The Mykonos Mob (Island of Secrets) Reviewed

Jeffrey Siger’s The Mykonos Mob

My accidental introduction to Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis via Jeffrey Siger’s tenth book, The Mykonos Mob, came about because of the pandemic. Limiting trips to public places means that my husband has become the designated library picker upper. Most of our library books are requested in advance online and then picked up when they are available but on this particular day I felt like reading something different and my husband left home with instructions to find me something different to read. Maybe something that was recent. Maybe a mystery or a thriller. 

He came home with a number of options including this one, The Mykonos Mob, which follows Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis who leaves Athens for the Greek island of Mykonos. To those not very familiar with Greece, like myself, Mykonos is a Greek island with a thriving tourist industry and a reputation. That is, a reputation for a busy beach scene and lots of nightlife. It is considered an international playground and may not necessarily be the kind of vacation I would be looking for but is interesting as a destination nevertheless.

In this book, Kaldis works to solve the murder of a corrupt former police officer who now runs a protection racket on Mykonos. We meet the main players who include Kaldis, his Special Crimes unit, his wife and an interesting American woman who has transplanted herself to Mykonos and who plays piano in a bar at night and solves local crimes during the day.

As an armchair traveler, I don’t think any of my ‘trips’ have included Greece. This book offered a look at the seedy underbelly of the island but also at some Greek culture. It is not a travel guide nor a travel book per se and some parts of the life reflected in this book might have you thinking you do not want to visit Mykonos but it was interesting to learn about some of the issues of life in Greece and in particular on Mykonos. The author, Jeffrey Siger, left a career as a Wall Street lawyer in New York to live on the Aegean Greek island that is Mykonos and to write books like this one. It is intentional that they share a fast moving story and some real life Greece.

RECOMMENDED?


I enjoyed The Mykonos Mob and yes, I do recommend it. I enjoyed the look into life in Greece, a place that I would like to visit one day, and I liked the main characters. I will be reading the rest of this series. I think this book would suit any man or woman who enjoys a good murder mystery as well as someone with an interest in life in modern-day Greece.

Jeffrey Siger’s Island of Secrets

BOOK LIST


Here’s the order you should read the books. Note that this book, The Mykonos Mob, is number ten in the series. Starting with number ten is not my usual style and I doubt it is yours. Another important note is that the book name was changed to Island of Secrets when it was released in paperback.

Murder in Mykonos
Assassins of Athens
Prey on Patmos
Target
Mykonos After Midnight
Sons of Sparta
Devil of Delphi
Santorini Caesars
An Aegean April
The Mykonos Mob (Island of Secrets in paperback)
A Deadly Twist

Find your Jeffrey Siger book on Amazon in hardcover, paperback or Kindle by clicking right here.

Do you like a good murder mystery?  Have you read any good fiction books set Greece that you would recommend, mystery or otherwise?

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Mykonos Mob (or any of Jeffrey Siger’s books) here on Amazon.
Jeffrey Archer’s False Impressions Reviewed.
The Coffee House Mysteries reviewed.
Death Takes A Spin: An Upcycling Mystery reviewed.










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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Jeffrey Archer's False Impression Book Review

Jeffrey Archer's False Impression Book ReviewI started reading both the new book about Megan and Harry and the new book about the former U.S. president before I settled in with another Jeffrey Archer book, False Impression. I found the royal book a bit pretentious, the presidential book interesting but not quite what I wanted to read at the moment and the Archer book, a conspiracy thriller, riveting. Therefore, I am able to offer you a book review today of False Impression. Which book would you have chosen?

Anyway, it turns out that the difficult year of 2020 has had a very real impact on my reading choices. I seem to want well-crafted page turners, which give me a break from the simple, everyday routine of a life that is home bound. I work online, run essential errands, take plenty of walks and, like so many that are privileged to be able to stay home to stay safe, I do not do much else or see family or friends. A book to escape with has proven essential and Jeffrey Archer has fit the bill. 

I spent a large part of the spring and summer with his mammoth seven book series the Clifton Chronicles so this is the eighth Archer book I have read this year. When recently I could not settle in with any of my own book choices, my husband magically produced Jeffrey Archer's False Impression. I expect my husband was remembering how much I enjoyed the previous Archer books and that he picked this one because it includes a good look into the art world, which I do enjoy learning about.

THE STORY


The story? Well, start with a woman murdered in England the night before 9/11. Add in a brilliant art expert currently working for a crooked banker who is obsessed with owning various masterpieces at any price with his current choice being Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Finally, add the banker's unlikely secretary, an honors graduate, and a handsome FBI agent.

The trip follows these characters around numerous bends that takes us on a trip that includes the cities of  New York, London, Bucharest and Tokyo until the Van Gogh painting finally has a new owner.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


I could not put False Impression down. I read it for hours in the middle of night. I read it when I woke up in the morning. I gave my husband a good laugh when hours later I was still reading. Not surprising really given how much I enjoyed the previous Archer books but definitely surprising given that I am usually up bright and early every morning preparing eBay parcels and working online

Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. It does a good job of sharing a bit about the twin towers, art history, English aristocracy and it includes a nasty villain, a female assassin and the FBI. The story keeps you wanting to know what happens next and it does so until the end of the book. I particularly enjoyed the armchair travel, the art and art history and the occasional humor, which mainly arose between the two main characters.

You should know that the book does include the tragic events of 9/11 and that the main character works in the North Tower. 
  

MORE REVIEWS


Well, this is when normally I say "but don't take my word for it" and give you a few stellar quotes from other online reviews but it turns out that this book received mixed reviews from the professionals so I cannot do that. However, Artis-Ann of The Yorkshire Times did like the book saying "she realizes and admits that you can enjoy the most erudite (knowledge filled) compositions alongside a jolly good yarn which doesn’t require very much concentration. After all, each to his own and the world would be a poorer place if we all liked the same thing." She also said that "she enjoys the temporary escapism that books offer and their variety and that this is another example." I think she summed it up nicely. 

Amazon readers liked False Impression with 88 percent of them giving the book a 4 or 5 star rating and Goodreads readers gave it a score of 3.81.

If you're looking for an easy to read in the form of an entertaining book with art, art history and travel, you should add False Impression to your list. You can see all of the versions available on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy False Impression on Amazon. 

Jeffrey Archer False Impression - Vincent Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear








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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

How to Make A Christmas Cookie Gift Set...Without Baking

How to Make A Christmas Cookie Gift Set...Without Baking

When you think of Cookies at Christmas, what comes to mind? Probably a few good recipes and some great memories. What about a great Christmas cookie cookbook? A beautiful children's picture book? A Christmas apron or a cookie jar or a plate or even a coffee mug? That's what you'll find on this page. No recipe, just my tribute to the yummy Christmas cookie and a host of ideas for you to use to create a cookie themed gift set with no baking required though obviously fresh cookies would be a fabulous addition to any cookie gift set.

A COOKIE COOKBOOK


Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum

ROSE'S CHRISTMAS COOKIES


Let's start with this beautiful cookie cookbook by Rose Levy Beranbaum who is famous for her many beautiful baking books. Almost too beautiful to use, this one would make a very impressive Christmas gift for anyone who loves to bake. Find your copy of Rose's Christmas Cookies on Amazon by clicking here.

OUR CHRISTMAS COOKIES


One year I did the unthinkable. I didn't make our traditional Christmas cookies. My sister-in-law visited and she baked and that meant we had plenty of sweet treats in the freezer. I simply did not need to bake and so I didn't. I thought nothing of it and no one said anything, until a few months later when one of my sons referred to the Christmas when they didn't have any of their favorite Christmas cookies. I felt so bad and I will not be repeating that faux pas ever again though this Christmas, Christmas 2020, the year when we cannot have people drop by to say hello, I will definitely be cutting back since there are only two of us to eat cookies.

With the exception of that well-remembered year when I did not make any cookies, we normally have three kinds of cookies on hand at Christmas: the best-ever ginger crinkles, the best ever M&M cookies with Christmas colored M&Ms and the best-ever brownie bites. They're all easy, they're all yummy and they all freeze beautifully. Best of all, they offer a nice variety and when I put a plate of cookies out and I am fairly comfortable that I can please not only my family but anyone who drops in during the holidays.

The Best-Ever Brownies Recipes
Love chocolate? How about brownies? If you are looking for the best brownie recipe, you will find it here. Actually, you will find three of the best brownie recipes here. The first is for miniature Brownie Bites. They are perfectly simple,...

The Best-Ever Ginger Crinkles Molasses Cookie Recipe
We love these ginger crinkle cookies. There's nothing like their slightly crispy exterior and chewy interior with a cold glass of milk!

The Best-Ever M&M Cookies Recipe
This best-ever M&M cookie recipe makes irresistible cookies. Don't bake them unless you are prepared to eat them until they are all gone. 

A CHILDREN'S COOKIE BOOK




Paul Galdone's The Gingerbread Boy

Here are three great cookie-themed picture books for children. The first is not actually a Christmas story as The Gingerbread Boy makes his break for freedom in a season that definitely is not winter at least in my part of the world. Paul Galdone's version shown here is one of the classic versions and was my family's favorite. Featuring a barnyard full of critters and one foxy fox, the gingerbread man is unfortunately and as always undone in the end. You can find my complete book review of The Gingerbread Boy here or read more about the book on Amazon by clicking right here.

Christmas Cookies: Bite Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The second book, Christmas Cookies: Bite Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, introduces your young child to new vocabulary words like 'tradition' and 'celebrate' in the context of good manners in certain social situations. It is a beautiful combination of wisdom and artistry. You can read my review of Christmas Cookies: Bite Size Holiday Lessons here or you can read more about it on Amazon by clicking here.

If You Take A Mouse To The Movies by Laura Numeroff

The third and final book, If You Take A Mouse To The Movies, is a special Christmas edition featuring that cookie-loving mouse that was created by Laura Numeroff in If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. The Christmas version has all sorts of extras including a CD and recipes. You can read my review If You Take A Mouse To The Movies here or you can buy it on eBay by clicking here. At the time of writing this post, I was unable to find it on Amazon.

A COOKIE APRON


Christmas Cookie Baking Team apron

An apron is such a practical and affordable gift idea. If you or someone you know spends a lot of time in the kitchen at Christmastime, you (or they) should definitely own a Christmas apron and there are so many great ones available. I love this Christmas Cookie Baking Team apron from Etsy and the fact that it can be personalized for all of the members of your baking team.  You can find it on Etsy by clicking right here.

A CHRISTMAS COOKIE JAR


A Christmas Cookie Cookie Jar

Nothing could be more fun than a cookie jar especially when it is full of cookies. I found this beautiful but simple glass cookie jar on Amazon. I love the idea that it will hold your Christmas treats and, when they are gone, go in your dishwasher for easy clean-up. You can find it on Amazon by clicking here. Gift it empty or even full of your favorite Christmas cookies.

A COOKIE PLATE


Waechtersbach Santa's cookies plate

This Waechtersbach Santa's cookies plate is perfect for leaving cookies out for Santa or simply serving cookies throughout the month of December. It would make a fine tradition for any family.  We love using the same plate every year. To find this plate and a few other Christmas-cookie themed ones, look to eBay  by clicking right here.

A COOKIE MUG


Disney's Mickey Mouse Cookie Coffee Mug

Yes, there's such a thing as a cookie mug and I don't mean a mug with the image of a cookie on it but rather a mug that has a pocket for holding your cookie. This is a fun one featuring Disney's Mickey Mouse and promising to deliver holiday cheer. Find it on Amazon by clicking here.

A COOKIE BAKING SET

A children's cookie baking set
Finally, I will close with this fun Stephen Joseph Christmas child-sized baking set, which you can find on Amazon by clicking here. Whether you offer it on its own or team it up with some of the other great gift ideas on this page, the choice is yours. Maybe you could create a set for the family with this set for the children.

So how about it? Is there something sweet in this batch for you? Are you a smart cookie who likes to assemble gift sets cookie themed or otherwise?  

Life is
what you bake of it!
Brenda, Treasures By Brenda

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses Book Review

Knots & Crosses: Tartan Noir Crime Novel by Ian Rankin 

In 2019, I was introduced to Ian Rankin via Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program, Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today. I really enjoyed Rankin's Black and Blue, which was the book we read but only recently returned to start at the beginning of the series and read Knots and Crosses.

When Rankin wrote Knots and Crosses in 1987 he thought he had written a standalone crime detective novel and had even planned on killing Detective Rebus at the end of the book. Success for Rankin and Rebus was not fast in coming. After publishing Knots and Crosses to little fan fare, Rankin put Rebus aside and moved on to write his next book with no idea that he would eventually return to Rebus' world and that he would still be writing books for the series in 2020

Knots and Crosses Book Review
Anyway, I read Knots and Crosses. I really enjoyed it. I recommend it. Need I say more? Well, yes, I suppose I should because you may not have read anything by Ian Rankin and you may not have seen my earlier review of the eighth book in the series, Black and Blue.

I wrote about the number of covers that the eighth book has had and you won't be surprised to hear that this book also has had many covers. I had to work a bit to find a picture of the original cover, which I believe the image at the bottom of this page to be since Rankin describes the original cover as having knots and crosses on it and this is the only one that fits that description. 

Knots and Crosses is a classic detective story with a strong plotline. It was written in 1987 and based firmly in the Scotland of the time. It is considered British Realism Noir or Tartan Noir as it was written by Scottish writers and is set in Scotland. The Scottish story has style elements from other American and European crime writers of the same time period. 

Detective Rebus is a former Special Air Service (SAS) officer now doing police work and coping with a difficult past in a very destructive manner. Typical to noir, he is a working class main character who doesn't have ordinary heroic qualities like idealism, courage and morality. He's a drinker and a smoker and does not have many friends nor successful relationships. He is not above stretching the law in an effort to solve the case he is working on, which is also common in gritty, noir detective novels. 

Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin
Because Knots and Crosses is the first book in the series, we are given the back story of Detective Rebus while he attempts to solve the nasty case of a serial murderer who is killing young girls and advertising that fact to the police.

REVIEWS


"Most of Knots and Crosses is claustrophobically situated inside his mind – and it’s a lonely, uncomfortable place. His asperity, his broken marriage, his drinking, his cold flat, his falling asleep in chairs because he can’t quite drag his tired hide into bed … Perhaps you could argue that these too are the stuff of cop cliché. But they feel real here. He feels like a character with weight. Rankin...nails the essentials."  I agree with The Guardian, Rebus seems perfectly developed in this story.

Another review on The Guardian says, "It is not always easy to read because of the context, but it grips you so hard that it feels compulsory to read on..."  Yes, this book has some uncomfortable moments but it will have you wanting to know who did it and you will read on.

Ian Rankin's First Book, Knots & Crosses
Finally, in the year that this book was written, Kirkus said, "Solidly drawn characters, keen psychological insights and an intriguing, well-knit plot—along with a rather florid but individual writing style—make Rankin a newcomer to watch." More than twenty successful novels later, I say they were right with that prediction. 

Knots and Crosses comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me.

WHO WILL LIKE KNOTS & CROSSES? 


If you enjoy a well-written detective novel, I believe that you will enjoy this one. It is a crime fiction classic now and it is immensely readable. It does have violence, sex, drugs and murder but nevertheless I enjoyed the story, getting to know Detective Rebus a bit better in the process. For armchair travelers, it is also a look at the nice and the not-so-nice underbelly of Scotland's Edinburgh.

On Amazon, you will find Knots and Crosses by clicking here and all of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels by clicking right here.

See you at 
the book store! 
Brenda 
Treasures By Brenda 

Quick Links



Knots & Crosses Book Review

Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses Book Review







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