Showing posts with label book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kristin Hannah’s Home Front Book Review

HOME FRONT is an excellent fictional story by Kristin Hannah. I previously reviewed and loved Hannah’s The Nightingale, which sent me looking for more titles by this author.

It is a relationship story and a war story. It features a husband and wife who seem to be perfectly situated with a wonderful marriage, great careers and lovely children. However, as happens, they have drifted apart and are headed for disaster and when she is sent overseas to Iraq and the rift is almost too much for this family to bear.

This novel presents an interesting role reversal with the mother a helicopter pilot and the man trying to maintain order at home. What happens is dark and dreadful and presents a mountain for this family to surpass.

Here is the official video book trailer. In this trailer, I think the book is represented in a very light and fluffy manner especially given that divorce and military service are not easy things to deal with.



I believe that this second video, in which Hannah Kristin discusses the book, does a better job of representing the issues faced by the family in Home Front and by families in the same situation.



Hannah calls the book “the best, most emotional book she has ever written” and goes on to say that it is about “love, honor, duty, commitment, sacrifice.” I agree that it was an emotional book. It is RECOMMENDED by me and yes, you will cry. For what it is worth, I preferred the book The Nightingale.

Have you read either book? What did you think?

If you are interested, you can see all of Kristin Hannah’s books including Home Front on Amazon here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Home Front from Amazon.
See all of Hannah's books on Amazon.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Art of Racing in the Rain Book Review

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein was the latest book for my book club. As usual in the weeks leading up to my book club's meeting, my husband could be heard uttering his usual reminder, "Have you finished the book?" This time, however, he was particularly interested in the book because the main character is a dog named Enzo Ferrari. Yes, Ferrari as in the car.

The story is told from Enzo's perspective. The idea of reading a book from the point of view of a dog might seem weird but it worked. It doesn't actually seem like a dog talking although the narration definitely looks at the world from the Enzo's point of view.

Enzo believes in reincarnation and really wants to be reincarnated as a human being so that he can voice his views (and so that he can have thumbs.) He understands everything that people say and wants to add his thoughts to the conversation.

Did I say that the story is about a race car driver, too? Enzo's master is a driver and Enzo is therefore often immersed in the world of race car driving. Don't let that put you off though. If you are not into race car driving, you will still enjoy this book. Race car driving is simply the world that the characters in this book live in though if you are like me, you might also learn a bit about race car driving. There is never anything wrong with learning about another world.

Enzo is not like other dogs. He is a philosopher and is almost human in a number of ways. He is self-educated with the help of his television and his master, Danny Swift. In the story, Enzo reflects back on his life, the life of the Swift family, on what he has learned about being human and, as the book says, "how life, like racing, is about so much more than simply going fast."

I expected my book club book to analyze this book. However, they did not. Instead, they pretty much unanimously agreed that it was a pleasant book and a nice read. Some questioned a few life-changing decisions on the part of the main characters and some including myself particularly enjoyed the comical moments in the book.

So is it recommended? Yes. The Art of Racing in the Rain was a New York Times best seller for many weeks. It is a good story. It is lighthearted though sometimes sad and there are definitely some things between the covers to think about. I think the book is perfect for dog lovers and enjoyable for the rest of us, too.

The way, the image that I think most reflects what Enzo looks like is at the top of the page. That image just seems to capture Enzo's spirit. You don't have to agree with me on that point but you can see all of the artwork available on the covers of The Art of Racing in the Rain on Amazon by clicking right here. Of course, you can also order yourself a copy of the book at that location, too.

This book is set to become a movie though originally Universal Studios picked up the rights and then did not follow through. However, The Hollywood Reporter says that Walt Disney Studios has picked up the rights so now all we have to do is wait and see what Disney puts together for us. Disney has made a lot of successful dog movies; let's hope they do this one properly.

Have you read The Art of Racing in the Rain? Would you recommend it? What else have you read lately?

See you at the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures by Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain on Amazon here.







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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls Book Review

I don't ordinarily open a book review with a negative thought but that is how I felt when I began reading Lauren Graham's 2016 autobiography, Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between.) I was disappointed. The book was not what I expected.

I should have known by ALL THOSE WORDS on the cover.

What did I expect? Well, an ordinary autobiographical book about Lauren Graham's life to date.

What did I get? A book that almost seemed to move as quickly as the dialogue on the Gilmore Girls.

According to Graham, The Gilmore Girls series featured some of the longest scripts in television history. While another television show script might have 50 pages, the Gilmore Girls were known to pack 80 pages of dialogue into their one hour less commercial breaks time slot. Yes, that means they talked almost non-stop. Verbal diarrhea comes to mind. Graham has actually been asked if she can talk normally.

It turned out that I also had a book in my hands that was not overly serious with paragraphs that were frequently disrupted by a witty comment from the author, which I could have done with out. Lauren Graham is a brilliant comedic actor but, at least at first, I would have preferred a more serious approach. I agree with Entertainment Weekly when they said that as an author Graham is "much better in the honest, earnest passages where she’s not trying to entertain us. We like her already!

As Katherine on Women's Post said, it takes a while to get used to Graham's style, which is "conversational and as scattered as a Gilmore Girl." If you are a fan, you will know what that means. If not, well...carry on. Graham befriends you as she jumps from a thought to some song lyrics to a discussion on the telephone. "It’s through this writing style the readers are truly able to get to know Graham." Perhaps that is true.

Of course, it is helpful and the book makes more sense once you know that the book is meant to be a series of essays.

So...did I like the book?


I did.

Is it recommended?


Yes, it is particularly if you are a fan of the Gilmore Girls and/or Lauren Graham and you approach the book in a less than serious manner. The book deals with Graham's childhood and adulthood through to the remake of the Gilmore Girls and it is interesting.  It is just not particularly serious. The back cover says that this book contains details about Graham's, "awkward growing up years, confusing dating years, fulfilling working years; and what it was like to be asked to play one of my characters again." I think that gives you a sense that this book treats Graham's life in a light manner.

I do like Lauren Graham and I will be checking out her novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, which is about a young actress trying to make it in New York, a subject about which she definitely has firsthand knowledge. I would also like to revisit the Gilmore Girls series and watch the new movies though with seven seasons and four movies that is a whole lot of viewing! Meanwhile, you can find Talking As Fast as I can and Lauren Graham's other works on Amazon by clicking right here.

If you have read Talking as Fast as Fast as I Can, be sure to let us know what you thought.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Talking As Fast As I Can here on Amazon. It's available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats.

Read about Graham's co-star Alexis Bledel in my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie review.

If you are a big Gilmore Girls fan, you might like to follow the Gilmore Girls News.







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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review

A friend told me that Kristin Hannah’s novel The Nightingale was an excellent book and it was. Though I know this book is a work of fiction, it does deal with real situations that happened during the time period that France was occupied by Germany in World War II.

I know things that happen in this book happened to real people in France. I have always read books set in this time period. However, what happened in that war is still hard to believe. Truly unbelievable. Despite knowing that people were treated in this manner, I still managed to come away in disbelief saying to my husband things like, "How could anyone treat people the way they did?" and "How did the French people manage to survive in those conditions?" We are not talking about one or two crazy people here, right? We are talking about an 'army' of people mistreating people.

Anyway, in my opinion, Kristin Hannah has crafted a wrenching story with a family and with characters that you will come to love. Yes, you are likely going to shed some tears. Yes, you will be upset by the violence and the cruelty and the sexual situations in this book though I must say that it is far from the worst book that I have read in those matters though perhaps more disturbing because it feels so real.

The Nightingale deals with the contributions made to World War II by women. Unfortunately, those important contributions like the women depicted in this book who joined the French Resistance or who managed despite incredible odds to feed their families, have not been as widely acknowledged or recognised as those of men.

In particular, this book deals with two quite different sisters: One who wants to keep her family safe; the other who is not willing to accept the things that are happening to them. It is a story of courage and survival parts of which were inspired by real women like 19-year old Belgian, Andrée De Jongh, who took considerable risks helping people escape from France.

Here is the book trailer. I do not know if it is official or not but it does give a good idea of the things that happen in this story:



This book is well done and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me and by many others. If you love a book that shares a great story about women’s lives and that is historically based you will enjoy The Nightingale. It is riveting. You will not even notice that it the hardcover book is 440 pages or that the paperback is 600, particularly if you read it as an ebook.

By way of further recommendation, you might take the fact that, according to The New York Times in 2016, this book had sold more than two million copies. This book has drawn both men and women as well as young and old readers. As one who has always been captivated by World War II novels it comes as no surprise to me when the Times stated that people are drawn to them. However, I was interested to learn that this book has drawn a younger generation of readers who perhaps relate to this novel because of how young people were drawn to the French Resistance.

If you are interested in reading The Nightingale, you can find it in all formats including eBook, audiobook and traditional paper book, on Amazon by clicking right here.  I’ve just noticed on the cover that this movie is to become a major motion picture. There is not much information available as I write this other than a rumoured movie release date of 2017, which means that once you have read the book you have a movie to look forward to.

If you like historical fiction, you might also enjoy these reviews on Review This:

Secret Healer by Ellin Carsta, which is set in 14th Century Germany.

The movie The Bridge of Spies, which is set in the cold war.

The One Man by Andrew Gross, which is set in Poland in 1944.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale from Amazon.






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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes Book Review

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes Book ReviewIt’s been literally decades since I read a Stephen King novel. I believe that the last one that I read was Misery in 1987, before my grown up children were born. That book was simply too horrible for me. Later, for whatever reason, I watched or tried to watch the movie version of that story and that cinched the deal for me. I have not read a Stephen King book since then and not seen many of his movies either.

That is, until the 2014 book Mr. Mercedes was chosen this year as one of the reads for our book club. Now I am wondering what I have missed in all of the books since 1987 as I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Mercedes. It was not too horror-ible at all though horrible things do happen in the book. However, it is a fast paced crime or detective story rather than a horror story. It is riveting; another book that I could not put down. A race-against-time thriller.

It is very well written with well-developed characters that include a retired police detective and a psychopath.

The police detective is not enjoying his retirement and is pulled back into one of his last, unsolved cases, that of the Mercedes killer.

The psychopath is, as The Globe and Mail says, “one of King’s great creations, twisted and deranged, but cringingly human.” On the outside, he is ordinary and could be one of your neighbours. However, on the inside he has many issues.

What results when the detective and the psychopath collide is a riveting story with two men ‘fighting’ to the end.

Mr. Mercedes is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me and by the Globe and Mail, too, LOL.

It is exciting that I just discovered that Mr. Mercedes is a trilogy so I (we) have two more books to read in the series, including Finders Keepers and End of Watch. I only hope that they live up to Mr. Mercedes.

There is also an AT&T Original mini series that has just started as I write this in August, 2017. I watched the trailer just now on Youtube and cannot decide if I will be watching the program or not. I have prematurely made up my mind that it cannot live up to the excellent book but I will be waiting to see what people think of the mini-series. As always, I recommend reading the book first.

You can learn more about Mr. Mercedes or order your copy of the book from Amazon by clicking here.

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Mercedes is King’s 62nd novel, though only 44 feature his name. He says that this book is based on a real incident in which a woman drove her car into a McDonald’s restaurant.

Will you be reading Mr. Mercedes?

See you at
the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy your copy of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes from Amazon.







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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hallmark's A Century of Caring Book Review



Hallmark's History: Celebrate A Hundred Years With Hallmark


Hallmark: A Century of Caring by Patrick Regan is truly a magnificent book about a company which was shaped by and which helped shape America. It covers everything from the very beginnings of the company with a young man and some picture postcards in a box to the third generation, which runs this company today. This ample-sized coffee table-style book features plenty of interesting information, is packed with amazing photographs and features a bonus DVD with a full length Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, The Magic of Ordinary Days.


Any fan or collector of Hallmark would thoroughly enjoy this beautiful book as would those with a simple curiosity of how Hallmark came to be the company that it is today. On this page, you will find more information about the book and a quick video peek into Hallmark's 100 year history.




The Hallmark family were really the Halls and a hundred years ago, they lived in poverty and tried to eek out a living in a small town in Nebraska. Move forward a hundred years and you find the family has created a once truly unique company. The book, Hallmark: A Century of Caring, tells the story of this American institution and how it came to life because of dedication to hard work, good values and caring for employees and customers.

It features a lovely introduction from poet Maya Angelou and takes you on a trip from Norfolk, Nebraska to Kansas City, Missouri, the town in which Hallmark finally settled. Learn about the company in good times and in bad, with the bad times including both war and depression through which the company continued to grow.

A hundred years after its inception, the company looks forward to a different future. This book celebrates what is an "iconic American company."


Founder


This short video is an interesting one minute of Hallmark history with the company's founder, J.C. Hall.






Contents


Hallmark: A Century of Caring marked Hallmark's 100 years and shares the history of the company including the Hall family and its employees and how they created a brand with world-wide renown. It is broken down into ten sections or chapters, each of which tells how Hallmark was a reflection on what was happening in America at certain time periods, how those events helped Hallmark become what it has become and the effect that Hallmark had on the country. It is a large hardcover book and it is beautiful. The chapters include:

Starting From Scratch (1891-1909)
That Kansas City Spirit (1910-1915)
Building Business and Breaking Ground (1915-1932)
Hanging Tough in Hard Times (1933-1951)
The Power of Association
Coming of Age (1951-1966)
The Hallmark Hall of Fame
The Modernist (1966-1980)
Traditions, Transitions, Expansion and Explorations (1981-2002)
A Second Century, A Third Generation (2002 and Beyond)


Review


Dr. Maya Angelou said, "I have read few biographies that have moved me as much as the Hall family saga."

It comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by buyers and also by me.  There's nothing to object to in this book, in terms of sex and violence anyway, and it is a peek into an iconic American company.

It is my understanding that this book was initially given as a gift to the employees of Hallmark on the company's 100th birthday but that some of these books were also made available through Hallmark Gold Crown stores and Andrews McMeel Publishing. Fortunately for Hallmark fans and collectors, it is now available here from Amazon, too.


The Magic Of Ordinary Days


The Magic of Ordinary Days caught me off guard. That is, I found it in the back of this book and put it in the DVD player when I was expecting to putter around and get a few other jobs done. Unfortunately, that was not the case as I was quickly absorbed into this beautiful story of a man who takes in a woman from a faraway town in order to have a wife and provide a stable home for both the woman and her unborn child.

When I looked at the Amazon customer reviews, I discovered that I was not the only one who enjoyed this movie. If you enjoy Hallmark movies, you will, no doubt, enjoy this one and, if you buy the book Hallmark: A Century of Caring, you receive a free copy of this excellent movie, too.


You can order your copy of Hallmark's A Century of Caring by clicking right here.

How has Hallmark touched your life?


See you at the bookstore!
Brenda




More Hallmark Reading


Christmas in Conway (2013) 
Remember Sunday (2013)
Hallmark's Beyond The Blackboard Movie Review

Author's Note: Originally published elsewhere in 2010.



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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy Books Reviewed

Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy Books Reviewed
I am thoroughly enjoying Ken Follett’s the Century Trilogy and totally unable to put it down.

The three books are based on what happened in world history between the years of 1911 and 2008. Those story lines include the Russian Revolution, the suffrage movement, the rise of Nazi Germany, World War II, the atomic age, the Cold War, civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements, Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution, rock and roll and of course both good and bad from all of those time periods.

To tell this story, Follett skillfully weaved together generations of five families from America, Russia, Germany, England and Wales.

I picked up the first book, FALL OF GIANTS, as a good long read for our recent Panama Canal cruise and I have been steadily working my way through the series for a couple of months. I am often pulled away kicking and screaming from books in order to turn my attention to an “assigned” book club book. Leaving the second book, WINTER OF THE WORLD, for a grumpy old geezer in A MAN CALLED OVE was downright difficult although worthwhile in the end.

Currently, I have had to put the third book, EDGE OF ETERNITY, down to read LEAN IN, a book about women, work, and the will to lead, which is not compulsive reading for me and definitely not middle-of-the-night when-you-cannot-sleep reading.

Ken Follett FALL OF GIANTS Century Trilogy 1

Ken Follett Winter of the World Century Trilogy 2

Ken Follett Edge of Eternity Century Trilogy 3

Anyway, in case you cannot tell from my enthusiasm, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Ken Follett’s Century trilogy. I caution that as a world history book it definitely has violence and it also has sexual content. However, I believe that most of the violence and some of the sexual content was required to tell this realistic story.

The three-book series contains 2,991 pages and each book is encyclopedic in length so for ease of reading I highly recommend purchasing it as an eBook or if not an eBook, then as a paperback book. We own the hardcover version and each I just weighed them and discovered that each one weighs an average of just over 3 pounds. They are heavy. Ordinarily, I prefer to read physical books because I spend much of my working life using a computer but in this case because of the sheer weight of these books I really, truly preferred to read them on my cellphone.

You can find the Century Trilogy in hardcover, paperback and electronic versions on Amazon by clicking right here. I looked for and with some difficulty eventually found a boxed set both in paperback and hardcover editions. You can find the gift sets here. I believe that this series would make an absolutely brilliant gift idea for anyone male or female who likes a good historical novel. Of course, gifting the first volume alone would be a good idea, too.

Is there a movie? No, there is not and Follett himself says in this Washington Post interview, that if they were to make a mini-series that it would be the longest mini-series ever made, that it would be very expensive to make at least partly because he would not allow it to be done cheaply and that a mini-series was therefore, not likely to happen.

Have you read Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy? Are there any other Follett books that you have read, thoroughly loved and would recommend to us?

See you at the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy Ken Follett's Century Trilogy books on Amazon.












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Monday, August 15, 2016

Two Mid-Atlantic Women Writers

Photo by Dawn Rae
There are two women authors that I read on a regular basis. These two women live and write the Mid-Atlantic life. While I have been an avid reader since the time I learned to read, I had not read either of these authors until I moved to the east coast a decade or so ago. I want to share what I know about these two talented women so you will be able to decide if they are your cup of tea too. This is my review of Tawni O'Dell and Nora Roberts.

I read a wide variety of styles and genres. I read every day and the main reason I love to read is for the escape. I want a story that takes me away to the theater in my mind. A scene that the author creates so vividly that I can imagine it with ease. As though I am also in that kitchen, walking near that river, or running from that bad guy. I need characters real enough to feel familiar - as though they are neighbors or family.  As though I am privy to their secrets because I am a part of their lives. I want to suddenly laugh, cry, or yell. Both of these authors take me away to those other worlds and to that place of escape.


Author Tawni O'Dell - Pennsylvania


If I remember correctly, I discovered Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell during one of my wanderings through a local stick and mortar book store some years ago. I read the book and related to it so much that I had to read everything she has published since.

Ms. O'Dell describes herself  -


"My roots: I'm half Pennsylvania redneck and half southern white trash. Growing up, I never really fit in. I always thought I was a freak because I liked books and living animals." 

Her books are set in Pennsylvania, in coal mining communities. While I've never lived in coal mining areas, I do know people similar to the characters she writes about. I love her characters and the way she handles very tough and raw topics. I would describe her writing stark, dark, and humorous. You giggle when you least expect it, right in the middle of some really tough situation.

When describing her writing, others use words such as: raw, tense, captivating, touching, titilating, and unique. I agree. After reading her books, and I have read all of them except the most recent, I feel as though I know what life in coal mining community might be like.


Back Roads - An Unforgettable Debut Novel



Back Roads is Tawni O'Dell's debut novel. The setting is Pennsylvania mining country. Ms. O'Dell tells us the story of nineteen year old Harley Altmyer. He is an angry, unlucky, and did I mention angry young man who is left to raise his younger siblings. This in not a story for the faint of heart. Harley had reason to be angry, and it is unlikely you will forget this story about a dysfunctional family. I will never forget the thoughts Harley had during one of his sessions with his therapist. As someone who works with children, over the years I had already imagined that some of my clients have had very similar thoughts during our meetings.  Thank you Ms. O'Dell for taking me for an unforgettable ride down a dark, bumpy, and frightening dirt road to the Altmyer home.


Back Roads
Note:  If you like to read a book before the movie comes out, you'll want to read this soon. According to Tawni O'Dells website, this Oprah Book Club's pick is "soon to be a film".

Author Nora Roberts - Maryland


Nora Roberts.  I thought she was strictly a romance writer. Old school romance isn't my thing.  Based on my assumptions about romances, I had never picked up one of her books. After moving to Maryland, someone either told me that she writes more than romance or they just handed me one of her books. I can't recall exactly how I came to read these romantic thriller stories, but I was hooked from that moment on.

What can I possibly say about Ms. Roberts that hasn't already been said?  My guess is that, if you are an avid reader, you've at least heard of her and probably have read her. She is a book writing machine who began her writing career when she was snowed in at home with her young children. I love the story of how she began. 

In an interview with BookBrowse she says: 

"The blizzard of '79 hit in February, and I was stuck in the house with two small children. Any mother out there knows what it is to weep bitter tears when the radio announces that there will be no morning kindergarten" .... "I'd never thought about writing as a career. I thought everyone made up stories in their heads. But after days of being trapped by the blizzard, I was tired of playing Candy Land and was desperate for some sort of release."

It was then she took pen to paper and immediately fell in love with the process of writing. 

I love both her characters and her story lines.  With many other authors, I like either their character development or the plot movement, but often I don't enjoy both equally.  I do with Ms. Robert's writing. Both the characters and the story stick with me - often for years later. 


The Witness - A Story of Good Versus Evil and a Woman's Will to Live


With 200+ books, there is likely something for everyone to choose from. I prefer the stories that mix romance with suspense. I want my hugs and kisses to be mixed in with evil people lurking in bushes and bouts of self-defense. I want my romance to be about strong women who are busy doing their own thing, standing on their own two feet, before becoming weak in the knees with love and lust.

The Witness is one such story, and much more. A young lady, who reminds me VERY much of some of the spectrum kids I've worked with over the years, witnesses one violent crime after another. She is able to escape alive but spends the remainder of her life running and hiding.  Because she is brilliant and has certain skills, she is able to stay a step ahead of those who want her dead - despite having no family (who says only step-mothers are evil?) or friends to help her.  Years later, she begins to experience the possibilities of love and home. Just as she begins to have a desire to put down roots, evil finds her again.


The Witness



Related Links:


Tawni O'dell - Read more about Ms. Odell, her books, news, and upcoming releases and events on her website.

Nora Roberts - Read more about Ms. Roberts, her books, upcoming releases, and events on her website. 

Inn Boonsboro - Boonsboro is a small town that I had driven through on one of my long, winding "Sunday Drives" when I first moved to Maryland. The surrounding area is gorgeous countryside - dotted with interesting small towns. I was surprised to learn that Nora Roberts and her husband own the Inn Boonsboro. Her husband owns the bookstore next to the Inn - Turn The Page bookstore. Someday, I will stop and stay in Boonsboro, rather than just drive though. Perhaps, I will re-read The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy while I'm there. 


A Few More Favorite Books:




Fragile Beasts

Northern Lights

The Search





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Friday, June 24, 2016

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey Book Review

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey is a light and easy read designed for those of us who were addicted to the highly popular PBS mini-series Downton Abbey. I will readily admit that I am one of those addicts and that I enjoyed this lightweight book. I bonded with the characters and at moments laughed out loud.

While We Were Watching tells the story of a group of women discovering not just Downton Abbey but friendship, too. Written by Wendy Wax, it shares their modern day struggles and how they support each other through the ups and the downs that life has thrown at them.

Set in The Alexander, a historic Atlanta apartment building that sounds absolutely lovely, this story features three main female characters:

Samantha Davis, a wealthy woman who married for money for herself and her younger siblings.

Claire Walker, a struggling author now also struggling to be happy on her own as an empty nester in a new environment.

Brooke MacKenzie, a woman married to an unfaithful husband and a decidedly un-nice husband.

Author Wendy Wax pictured George Clooney
playing butler Edward. What do you think?
Picture available on Amazon.
All three are brought together inadvertently by the male concierge, Edward when he decides to host a Downton Abbey night once a week in the building's movie room. Of course, he does so brilliantly and you will wish you could watch the series with this cast of characters. You will want to join them for a glass of wine and you will want some of the Downton-style British-themed treats, too.

The story unfolds with both drama and humour. You will find yourself cheering the ladies on. The story will quickly draw you in and, unfortunately, be over far too soon.

If you are looking for something fun to read that harks back to Downton Abbey, you might want to pick up While We Were Watching Downton Abbey. It would of course make an excellent gift choice for someone who is enthralled with the series. You can order your copy of While We Were Watching Downton Abbey from Amazon by clicking right here.

Are you a Downton Abbey fan?

Happy Reading!
Brenda

MORE BOOKS BY WENDY WAX


Wendy Wax set aside other projects in order to write about Downton Abbey since she and the rest of the world were so keen on that series. Her other books include the Ten Beach Road four-book series shown here. You can check out all of Wax's books for yourself on Amazon by clicking right here.

MORE DOWNTON ABBEY


Downton Abbey Tea Cups 
A page from the 31 Days of Coffee Mugs; a great set of teacups.

Downton Abbey Christmas Video Parodies 
Did you see the Downton Abbey Christmas parody videos? They feature all of the original cast members and a few surprises.

MORE PERIOD BOOKS


Writing Jane Austen Book Review 
Imagine if you were given a chapter of a seventh Jane Austen novel. A novel, that is, which she never finished. Then imagine being asked to finish the book for her and you will have a basic understanding of what this book is all about.

Mildred Pierce: The Book, The Movie & The Mini-Series 
After first thoroughly enjoying the book Mildred Pierce, I went on to watch and enjoy the 1945 Joan Crawford movie and the 2011 HBO mini-series that stars Kate Winslet. 

Austenland Book Review 
As a huge fan of Jane Austen movies and books, my antennae perked up when I heard of the new movie, Austenland. I would love to have a vacation there.

The Pink Dress by Anne Alexander
A 1950s story of teenage life. Written for high school aged girls, who fondly remember the book and want to share it with their female children and grand children.





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Monday, February 8, 2016

Austenland Book Review

Visit Jane Austen's world via Austenland the book by Shannon Hale


As a huge fan of Jane Austen movies and books, my antennae perked up when I heard of the movie, Austenland. When I discovered that the movie is based on a book written in 2007 by Shannon Hale, I decided to check out the book before taking in the movie. This became doubly important when I saw a crushing review for the movie, which I had really been looking forward to.

The book was a pleasure to read. All right, it was a light and fluffy read but sometimes that is exactly what you want. Reading, along with movies and okay, I'll admit it, food, are two of my escapes and I bet they are for you, too.

Within the covers, Jane Hayes escapes the ordinary world in which she has been unsuccessful in finding a man and travels to an English resort where she trades her modern conveniences and clothing for period items and enters the world of Jane Austen. She is hoping to rid herself of her obsessions with the world of Pride and Prejudice and, in particular, the handsome Mr. Darcy as played by Colin Firth whose image has kept her from finding her own Mr. Right.

From the back cover of the book:

"Enter our doors as a house guest come to stay three weeks, enjoying the country manners and hospitality - a tea visit, a dance or two, a turn in the park, an unexpected meeting with a certain gentleman, all culminating with a ball and perhaps something more..."

If you have enjoyed previous contemporary books and movies from Jane Austen, you will enjoy the charming and funny story found within the covers.  I read the hardcover edition as shown here and, given the choices, I think this is the version I would pick if I were buying one as a gift for a "Janeite." However, the book is also available in trade paperback, as a movie tie-in and for your Kindle or other eReader. You can find your copy in whatever format you prefer on Amazon by clicking right here. The book features 197 pages of what can only be called pure escapism.

If you are curious about the movie version, be sure to visit my Austenland movie review.

Will you read Austenland?

Happy Reading!
Brenda

More Jane Austen and Period Drama Reading:

Which Is The Best Emma Movie?
Are you taken in by every Jane Austen movie? Have you seen all of the versions of Emma? Which one is the best? Do you know or would you like to find out?

Writing Jane Austen Book Review
Imagine if you were given a chapter of a seventh Jane Austen novel. A novel, that is, which she never finished. Then imagine being asked to finish the book for her and you will have a basic understanding of what this book is all about. Georgina...

Downton Abbey on Pinterest
I discovered Downton Abbey seasons 1, 2 and 3 after the fact. That meant I watched each one almost without pause...

Grantchester: A New Period Drama Mini-Series
A minister and murder. An unlikely mix, perhaps but I'm really enjoying Grantchester.

Author's Note: Originally published on another website in 2014.





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Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Cookies Bite-Size Holiday Lessons Children's Book Review

Simple Christmas Lessons For Young Children

Beautifully put together, Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons was written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jane Dyer. It is the perfect addition to your holiday library and will allow you to introduce your young children to vocabulary words like 'tradition' and 'celebrate' and provide a basic guide to good manners in certain social situations. Savor the wisdom along with the illustrations that will have you and your children dreaming of sugarplums!

This book includes twenty-two simple lessons that are appropriate for all ages...

TRADITION means each year at the same time we make the same cookies and wear our special matching aprons. GRACIOUS means putting out a plate for our special guest.

CELEBRATE means time to get out the sprinkles!

While appropriate for all, this book is really aimed at children in preschool up to Grade 2.

Each page or two-page spread is illustrated with children demonstrating the word and/or lesson and each page features added characters for an extra touch of whimsy. I love the mice that the book opens with, the bunnies at the kitchen table, the lion in the dining room and the elves lending a helping hand. I have no doubt that you and your children will also love this book, too.

Amazon reviewer Cherry Ames says:

"If you have ever grappled with explaining an abstract concept to children, like tradition, disappointed or the all-important sharing, then Amy Rosenthal and Jane Dyer's cookie books are for you. Through the simple analogies of baking and eating cookies, which is something children can easily relate to, Rosenthal explains those sometimes difficult-to-understand ideas/values like gratitude, appreciative, gracious, and many more."

"Jane Dyer's soft, expressive child/animal illustrations complement and illustrate the concepts. The 'Christmas Cookies' book includes holiday-related words like joy, believe, celebrate and peace. Both of these titles are excellent choices for a child 3-6 years of age."

Who Is Amy Krouse Rosenthal?

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is perhaps most well known for her memoir called Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life which was very well received everywhere because of its unusual format and its wit with regard to the ordinary stuff of daily life. It was one of Amazon's top 10 memoirs in 2005. She has also published 11 children's books with plans for many more.

What Christmas lessons will you share with your children this year? Or what were the important lessons you taught your children when they were young? Do you think this book would be helpful?

See you
in the book aisle!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of Christmas Cookies from Amazon.
See all of Amy Krouse Rosenthal's books here.

More Christmas Reading:

Rose Levy's Christmas Cookies Cookbook.
The Farm Chicks Book Reviews (in the Kitchen and Christmas).
A Very Brady Christmas Movie Review.






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Saturday, September 5, 2015

CATCH ME …. CAUGHT. Two Book Reviews

Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures...


There's No Such Thing as Too Many Books! Postcard
There's No Such Thing as Too Many Books! Postcard by friendlyspirit

Recently I came home with four books to read; two by a couple of my favorite writers. Since I was looking forward to reading all of these books, it didn't matter which one I read first. Therefore I simply picked up one and began to read. 

When I finished the first one, I picked up the next book.  About half-way through the story, my eyes happened to catch the title CAUGHT and it suddenly struck me that the book I had just finished was titled CATCH ME.  How interesting ~ Catch Me – Caught!   Quite a coincidence as those titles definitely fit in with the category of my favorite genre – Mystery/Suspense/Thriller!  If you are a mystery book fan, you might also be interested in reading these two books, so let me tell you about them.

CATCH ME by Lisa Gardner

 

CATCH ME was written by Lisa Gardner in 2012 and was a finalist in the 2013 'Thriller Award for Best Novel'.  For fans of Lisa Gardner, you'll be delighted to know that the story features one of Gardner's well-known continuing characters, D.D. Warren, homicide detective with the Boston P.D.

As the story opens, Det. Sgt. Warren has just returned from maternity leave when she and her team are called to a murder scene.  Ordinarily, D.D. would be in peak form, being a workaholic who loves her job, but two hours of sleep after a night up with baby Jack has left her cranky!.

As D.D. is leaving the crime scene, a woman named Charlene Grant (Charlie) shocks her with an incredible story.  In the past two consecutive years, Charlie has lost her two best friends, each murdered at 8 p.m. on January 21 with no known motive.  It is now just 4 days until the next January 21 and Charlie believes she is next in line to be murdered.

D.D. Warren is busy with her latest homicide, which is discovered to be connected to a vigilante gunman who is killing pedophiles in Boston, while trying to cope with exhaustion due to her new baby and complicated home life.  Now it appears she also needs to look into the murders of Charlie's friends to find answers before the January 21 anniversary.

 Is Charlie in danger, or is she hiding behind a terrifying secret?  This Number 6 in the D.D. Warren series will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Lisa Gardner, Author


Lisa Gardner (nee Lisa Baumgartner) is a crime thriller novelist with 17 books to her credit. Four of her novels have been made into movies.  She has written two series with continuing characters and several non-series stand-alone books.  One series includes the cast of Pierce Quincy, an ex-FBI profiler, his partner 'Rainie' Conner, a cop, and his daughter, FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy.  Gardner's other series takes place in Boston and features either D.D. Warren, a police detective or Bobby Dodge, a state police sniper. 

Lisa came up with a fun way to involve her readers.  She created a “Kill a Friend, Maim a Buddy” Sweepstakes where you can nominate the person of your choice (even yourself) to die in Lisa’s latest novel.  Check out how the sweepstakes works and some really amusing facts about this author on the Lisa Gardner website.

CAUGHT by Harlan Coben

 

Harlan Coben is another of my favorite mystery authors.  In CAUGHT, written in 2010, Coben tells a complex story about seventeen-year-old Haley, pride of a loving New Jersey family, who suddenly goes missing, and a reporter, Wendy Tynes, who uses her nationally televised news program “Caught in the Act” to expose sexual predators.  Dan Mercer, a social worker who works with troubled teens, becomes the latest person to be exposed by Wendy.  But is he really guilty?

Is there a connection between the missing girl and a predator?  Is Dan guilty as accused, or can the reporter not trust her own instincts?  In Caught, Harlan Coben takes us through an exciting, tension-filled story about guilt, grief and our capacity to forgive. The ending will surprise you.

 

 

Harlan Coben, Author


Harlan Coben, an award-winning mystery fiction author, bases most of his non-series stories in his home state of New Jersey.  Of Harlan Coben's 27 novels to date, he now has 60 million books in print worldwide, and his last eight novels have all debuted as #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.  CAUGHT is one of these.

Ten books feature Myron Bolitar, a former basketball star who turns sports agent after injuries curtail his pro career.  His office is in New York City and he seems to end up investigating a number of complicated problems (including murder) involving the athletes he represents.  The Bolitar series are suspenseful thrillers, yet are often surprisingly funny.

Since 2011, Coben has written 3 Young Adult novels featuring Mickey Bolitar, Myron's nephew, a high school student who comes to live with his uncle after his father is killed and ends up with his own set of adventures.

Harlan Coben lives in New Jersey with his wife and 4 children.  Visit the Harlan Coben website to read about all his books.  I'm currently reading his latest just published in March 2015 ~ The Stranger.

Writers are Readers!


Before one becomes a writer, they are first a reader.  My family and I have a deep Love of Reading.

Check out the many other delightful Book Reviews from the readers and writers on Review This!

Happy Reading!





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