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

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finn Boylan ~ A Book Review

 Every now and then it's a good thing to jump out of your comfort zone and try something new.  So, to that end, I asked for and received a copy of Mad Honey from Netgalley.com.  The only thing that they request is after reading the book that I leave a review!  It is my pleasure to do just that! 

Mad Honey, the title of this book, got me right from the start, because my Son-In-Law is a beekeeper and honey extractor extraordinaire!  Every time we are together he tries to "teach" me something else about bees that the average person would not know.  He is a wealth of information in that regard and takes his beekeeping very seriously.

But let me tell you, this book has so much more going for it than learning about bees and honey!  It is a story about family, family dynamics, coming of age and our acceptance of who is in our lives.  It's a love story on so many different levels too!



Mad Honey

The story surrounds the lives of Olivia McAfee and her son Asher!  She is the wife of a renown Cardiac Surgeon and when Asher is born, life as Olivia knew it would be a joy and blessing for sure.  Like most things in life, nothing is "for sure" and Olivia's husband starts to show a distinct dark side to his personality.  When Asher is in the midst of a violent outburst, Olivia knows that she can no longer stay in this marriage.  

Lily Campanella is also starting new life in the tiny town of Adams in New Hampshire.  The last year of high school and it's a new beginning for Lily, who knows what it's like to have to start all over again.  She and her mom are paving a new road for both of them and hopefully this time the road will be smooth and without complications.

We all know that life is always full of complications and while we are rooting for these two moms and their children to have a great life, trouble seems to find them.

Asher and Lily are boyfriend/girlfriend, inseparable!  It's young love with all the hormones and angst that tends to rage during those years.  We can all remember going through some of those tough times, but in the case of Lily and Asher things are just a little more complicated.

I don't want to give too much of the book away in this review, but suffice it to say you will learn a lot after reading this book. It's not all about the honey bees either!  

This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys a good love story with a dark twist in it.  It will make you re-evaluate how you might handle different situations too.

Unconditional love is great when life is easy, but when things become difficult, sometimes that unconditional love has some conditions attached.  You will have to read in order to find out why.


                                         Image by Sheryl Maiorano from Pixabay 


This book from start to finish is 432 pages long and it could have been longer and still held me captive.  

After the story there is a lovely addition that I'm sure everyone will enjoy and that is about 10 pages of recipes where the key ingredient is, you guessed it, HONEY!

After learning all you did about bees and honey, you will be doubly delighted at the recipes included with this book.

Things like Beekeeper's Granola, Queen Bee Cocktail or a Bee's Knees cocktail!  How about Pork with a Honey-Lime Marinade?

The two that really have me wanting to bake are the Honey Loaf and Hope Cakes.  Both of these recipes are found in the book too!  

So with Mad Honey, you get a great story and a wonderful adventure into the world of bees, but you also get some sobering thoughts about relationships and surviving the ups and downs of real life too!  

This book gets 5 Stars (*****) from me and I would recommend it to everyone!  I'm sure you will learn more than you bargained for once you crack open the cover.  You will have a hard time putting it down again.

Oh an added bonus is that if you have an Audible subscription you can get this book for free!  What can be better than that?







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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding ~ A Book Review

The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding is a book that will give you shivers up your spine and really make you stop and think!  While it is considered a "novel", it has threads of real life tied up in there too!

Anyone looking after ailing parents or relatives will be able to put themselves into this story!  

Joy Fielding manages to make you stop in your tracks and really think about the possibilities that happen when you put your trust into someone to look after your loved ones.  


                                                 Image by Tania Van den Berghen from Pixabay

Those of us who were born in the 1940's, 50's and beyond and are still blessed enough to have our parents here with us, are looking at the needs of the elderly through eyes that are living the reality of having aging parents and loved ones.  It is not easy! 

Right now I am the one responsible for both my mother and my uncle who are 91 and 92 respectively. I am lucky though because both of them are in fairly good health and still manage to live on their own.  I do a lot of running back and forth for them, but that is a minor job (so to speak). I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be should they be so ill as to not be able to live on their own.  I guess that is one reason that this book really hit a homerun with me!

Back to the "Book",  The Housekeeper is a rare find for Jodi!  She is busy with her real estate business which just happens to be booming.  Her father, Vic, whose personality is very controlling and his wife Audrey are her parents.  Audrey is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and her health is quickly  deteriorating.     

Jodi's father decides to stop working (he was the founder of the real estate office) to look after his wife.  While this seems to be a great way to cope with their changing circumstances, it really isn't working out very well.  Audrey needs more help than her husband can provide.  They are well off financially, so it seems that outside help would be a good answer to the growing needs of Jodi's parents.  Her father (in whose eyes Jodi never seems to shine) is NOT happy with this change in his life.  He doesn't want another person in the house, yet, he agrees to give a housekeeper a chance.

Jodi sees the need to look for outside help, even though her father is still adamant that he can cope.  She herself,  is not able to do what needs to be done on a daily basis, so she starts her search for "The Housekeeper".  Her hope is that with someone to do the cooking and cleaning for her parents, her father and mother will be  free to spend their time together and still live a comfortable life in their own home.  Hopefully her dad will come to realize this is a good choice to make.

That's when Elyse shows up for the job!  She herself is a "younger senior", quite lively and willing to do the work that Vic cannot!  

This is where things start to go wrong and yet, Elyse is the answer to Jodi's prayers, or so it seems.  Her children love the "housekeeper" and her dad seems to have a little more bounce in his steps since she arrived. 

What could possibly go wrong?

I'm going to leave the story here only because I know you will want to know what happens next.  

The Housekeeper is a story that had me thinking for days after I finished closing the book.  I know you will find it interesting and I would even call it riveting.  I could not put this book down.

Maybe it's because this is where my life is at right now, or maybe it's because I never thought of the possibilities that could happen, but this book really opened my eyes.

While it's a novel and none of the story is true or real, this story could be a reality and that is the scary part.  This is a thriller, murder/mystery and is due for publication on the 16th of August this year.  It is a timely topic that I'm sure will have many people talking!

Put "The Housekeeper" by Joy Fielding on your Must Read List, I know you won't be disappointed.




Happy Reading!


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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Library of Lost and Found Reviewed

 If you're feeling like curling up with a hot drink and a feel-good book then have I got a recommendation for you.

Image created by Lou16 on Canva

It's getting a little cooler in the evening for me here in Australia so I love pulling a throw over me, having a nice cup of tea (Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla is my current favourite for this activity) and reading a good book either in paperback version or on my Kindle.

I read this charming novel by Phaedra Patrick on my Kindle (for free with my Kindle Unlimited membership).   I had never heard of the author before, but looking at the reviews this seems to be her best novel to date.   I had just finished reading a couple of psychological thrillers so wanted something easy to read and with a feel-good vibe - this one sounded like it would suit.

When we are introduced to Martha she is a single, middle-aged woman who people seem to walk all over, somewhere along the way she seems to have lost her voice and confidence.   She loves books which makes her job as a volunteer librarian or in her words, 'a guardian of books' perfect for her (although she can't seem to get employed as a full-time librarian - that's another story, prepare to be frustrated on her behalf!).

I will admit there were times when I wanted to shake Martha and get her to stand up for herself, but mostly I felt very sad for her.   The book went back between the present time and earlier times in her life, I couldn't help but think how different Martha's life might have turned out if her beloved grandmother Zelda had lived.

It appears as though the loss of Zelda in Martha's life saw her become more introverted and subservient, just as her father wanted.   I must admit that after finishing the book I did stop and reflect on my own life because the loss of people in our lives really does have a huge impact on the things we do - but back to the review!

When Martha was younger she would write her own stories and share them with her grandmother who loved to hear them and encouraged Martha with her imagination, enter the mysterious part of the book.

Martha finds a parcel addressed to her outside of the library where she works.   Inside the parcel is a book missing its cover and title page and looking very battered.  On top of the book were a business card and a handwritten note from the owner of a used bookstore indicating that the book had come into his possession and was obviously unsellable, but could be of interest to her because of the message inside.

When Martha turned the pages to find what the bookshop owner meant she came across an inscription "To my darling, Martha Storm...." it was signed by her grandmother, however, the date was three years after she had died.   To make it even more mysterious when Martha looked at the stories in the book she recognised many of them as ones that she had written as a child.

Join Martha on her journey, solve the mystery and see how with a little help from Suki, Owen and Siegfried Martha learns to be less of a doormat and becomes more confident in herself.   I thoroughly recommend this novel for some stress relief reading on a winter's evening.   If you do read it please come back and let me know your thoughts.





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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow - A Book Review

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, by Teri M. Brown, is a wonderful novel that will keep the reader interested and involved with the characters.  All the characters in this novel have strong opinions and follow their dreams and yearnings, often causing some danger, grief and sadness in their lives.  But great joy when all is revealed.



Does this pique your interest?  It should.  Teri M. Brown has written a book that truly is a page turner.  As with many novels some of the places and happenings sound like they could have happened in real life.  The author makes it clear that this is a work of fiction.

This story surrounds some very strong willed, strong bodied, and strong minded women.  Ivanna and the love of her life, Lyaksandro!  Their daughter, Yevtsye and her daughter Ionna are all part of the focus of this novel.

The country of their birth, the Ukraine has been under Soviet occupation for many years.  Always the government is promising that things will get better.  Lyaksandro Hadeon Rosomakha is a university employee and husband of Ivanna.  He, by wanting better for his family, has started a downward turn in the family's fortunes.  By becoming an informant (after witnessing the stranglehold the government had on free thinkers) he unwittingly puts his family in danger.  Early in the story he is whisked out of the country under cover of night, after having done the work of passing information to interested parties.  It was one of two choices he had.  Leave or die,  lest the  government of the day would get him and "dispose" of this troublemaker in one way or another.  

His wife of the last dozen years, whom he loved with all that he was, is informed that her husband has been killed when he tried to undermine the current government of the day.  

His daughter and wife were left behind even though he tried to get them out while he was being hurriedly removed from the country.  Had he known that they would not be coming with him, I'm not sure what would have happened.

Life is hard and takes many twists and turns.  Suffice it to say that not a day goes by that Ivanna doesn't miss her husband and his daughter, Yevtsye, misses her father too.  There is no time to waste energy on what could have been, too much energy was needed just to survive!



Yevtsye becomes a university worker and meets and marries a like minded man named Danya.  Together they worked hard and were able to give their daughter (Ionna) enough that she was thriving.  But both Danya and Yevtsye were very unhappy with the political climate in their country and wished for a better life.

Life is never straight forward and there are many twists and turns in this  novel.  I don't want to give away too much more of  the story, it really is a book that you should pick up yourself and read.  You will be taken on a rollercoaster ride that is quite amazing.  Emotionally you will be able to connect with the characters, which for me made the story that much more captivating.

What is the most interesting thing about this book is the fact that it has it's basis in a true story.  So while fictional, it has elements that are true.  You will be amazed and taken on a journey through three families lives!

Teri M. Brown has done an amazing job writing this book as her debut novel and I'm sure looking forward to more of her writing.  It is truly an wonderful, harrowing, uplifting, and fulfilling story.



**I was given a copy of this book by the author in return for a review on ReviewThisReviews.com.








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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Reviewing The Joy of Bird Feeding

 

Eastern Bluebird


My husband and I enjoy watching the birds in our backyard.  We can sit at our kitchen table and watch the view through our sliding glass doors.  We were very excited when we received a Christmas gift from a friend to give us lots of great ideas for attracting and feeding our feathered friends. This gift was a book entitled The Joy of Bird Feeding. In this post I will give you a preview of the tips found in each chapter of this book.  I will also share some of the photographs that I have taken of birds in our backyard.




Chapter 1: The Five Steps to Bird Feeding Mastery

The first chapter gives a thorough plan on setting up your backyard to attract the biggest variety of birds.  It helps you to set up a plan to decide what foods to serve and when to serve them.
Downy feasting on Suet Pellets


Chapter 2: Thoughtful Bird Feeding Stations Elements in Detail

Details of the elements needed for feeding birds are described in this chapter.  One of the items suggested is year-round water.  In the photo below you see a group of bluebirds enjoying fresh water from the heated dog bowl I have placed on our deck on a cold winter's day.


Chapter 3: The Birds

This chapter gives us some interesting information on the birds that are found in our backyards.  The introduction talks about year-round birds, seasonal residents and migrant birds. It is also talks about how the birds find feeders.  The chapter then goes into photos of various birds and identifying information.  It is quite comprehensive.  Here is a Carolina Wren that is a frequent visitor to my backyard.
Carolina Wren

Chapter 4: The Foods

Great detail is given on the various foods that are available for birds. There is also a section on foods from your kitchen that are good for birds and a section on fun food shapes.  Here is a bird on a Penguin feeder that we received for Christmas.
House Finch on Fun Feeder


Chapter 5: The Feeders

Are you undecided about what types of feeders to purchase?  This chapter goes into detail on each type of feeder and tells you the pros and cons of each.  I like to have a variety of feeders in my backyard. Here is a photo of some Cardinals and a finch on one of my feeders.
Cardinals and Finch


Chapter 6: Poles and Hangers

Here we find some great ideas for poles and hangers including a nifty pole system.  I will need to look into that.

Chapter 7: Critter Solutions

Unwanted critters can play havoc with your feeding stations.  This chapter gives you ideas on how to mitigate the critter issues.  We have lots of squirrels in our yard and I have some squirrel proof feeders and others that the squirrels love to visit.  We enjoy seeing their antics too.  Here is a squirrel at one of our feeders.

Chapter 8: Situations and Solutions

Have you wondered why the birds aren't coming to your feeders or what you can do about the messy deck?  The answers to these and other issues can be found in this chapter.

Chapter 9: Buying and Storing Bird Food

Here you will find lots of tips for buying the best foods and storing solutions for your bird food.

Chapter 10: Common-sense Bird Feeding Hygiene

Here I find a lot of tips for making your bird feeding stations safe for the birds.  Some I have done, but there are certainly a lot of areas where I can improve.  

Chapter 11- Fun Bird Feeding Activities

This chapter is full of some great bird feeding activities including things like hand feeding birds and watching birds when you are not at home.  The activity that most interests me is photographing birds.  I love to set up my backyard to make some good backgrounds for taking bird photos and this book had lots of tips. 
 Here is a favorite photo I caught of some bluebirds turning their backs to the camera.  I thought it made a good ending for this 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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Reviewing Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Sometimes I need a break from whodunnits and psychological thrillers so when I came across a novel that had the same title as my favourite Simple Minds song and a ringing endorsement from Marian Keyes I just knew I had to read it.

Don't you forget about me by mhairi mcfarlane review

Mhairi McFarlane certainly didn't disappoint, this was the exact book I needed to read.   It was a romance, but it was so much more.  The characters were awesome (even the ones you loathed!), the only one that really irritated me at times was the main character, Georgina, but even when she was annoying me she was so relatable.

The story starts with a budding romance in the sixth form between our heroine Georgina and the mysterious Lucas and I have to say that having spent my sixth form years in the UK Mhairi McFarlane did an amazing job at invoking memories I'd actually forgotten I had.   

We quickly fast forward to the present day and Georgina is 30 and working in the worst restaurant in town and even the way this restaurant and staff are described allowed my mind to actually see the restaurant.  When she was totally unfairly dismissed from the restaurant she decides to pay an unexpected visit to her boyfriend.   This turned out to be a mistake as said narcissistic boyfriend was in bed with his PA.

Then she receives an offer to do a one-off gig to tend bar at a wake - the bar in question has been newly refurbished and is looking at opening up again.   Georgina absolutely loves working the wake and gets on really well with one of the owners, Devlin.   At the end of the night, he offers her a permanent job which makes her feel like her life is on the up again.

Of course, it would be a boring book if that was all ..... enter Devlin's brother and the other owner of the bar, Lucas.   Whereas Georgina recognises Lucas instantly, he doesn't appear to have any memory of her whatsoever and is not happy that Devlin hired her without consultation. 

I won't tell you anymore of the storyline, I will let you discover it for yourself.  Yes, it's a romance, but it is so much more.   The characters are really well-rounded (I do hope Kitty gets her own novel one day) and it is also a book that deals with gaslighting and not ignoring red flags in relationships.   It's about great friends and complicated families and about overcoming adversity.  Oh, and the one-liners will have you in stitches!

I thoroughly enjoyed Don't You Forget About Me and couldn't put it down until I had finished.

As with most of the books, I read this was downloaded as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership something I highly recommend no matter what genre of book you like to read.   In fact, it's also a great way of exploring new genres too, I've recently read some supernatural and some science fiction books through my membership.




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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed

If you're after a cozy, feel-good romance with a touch of mystery and intrigue then let me transport you to a little place called Starlight Cove.   Want to know more?

The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed
Image created using Canva

I read a lovely cozy book called A Bittersweet Surprise as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership and when I finished it I realized that the author (Cynthia Ellingsen) had created a few books based in Starlight Cove so I decided to read another one!

The Lighthouse Keeper was written before A Bittersweet Surprise so there were a couple of things that I already knew would happen, but that didn't deflect from the feel-good feeling this novel gave me.   This certainly isn't the novel for you if you want to have to think hard about things or get caught up in some psychological thriller.   This book is like a comforting blanket on a cold winter's evening when you just want to be left alone.

The main heroine of the book is the daughter of treasure hunters and when her life gets thrown a couple of curveballs she decides to bid on a lighthouse.   As you can probably tell from the title of the novel her bid wins and she moves to Starlight Cove to restore the town's lighthouse.

Her parents have settled down in Starlight Cove and are running an antique shop there, she also meets some of the town's residents along with some not-so-nice non-resident treasure hunters.   Did I mention that there was a long-lost treasure to be found too?

While she endeavours to try her hand at a little matchmaking between her first friend in Starlight Cove and one of the hunky Henderson brothers she also finds herself falling a little in love herself.  As with any romance, there's a little bump in the road which has her overthinking things (a trait I can totally relate to myself!).

With The Lighthouse Keeper, Cynthia Ellingsen has once again shown how well she can create her characters as I can totally relate to a few in this book, just as I did in the other book.    Now I need to grab the only other book I can see in the Starlight Cove series to see if it's as good.   An extra bonus is that all three of these are free to read with a Kindle Unlimited account!




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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Book Review of The Beekeeper's Promise

 

The Beekeeper's Promise is a work of historical fiction that takes place in the World War II era.  It portrays two women of courage.  The first is Eliane, who lives in a small town in France during the the war and the second is Abi who visits that small town in 2017. The chapters in the book alternate between Eliane's story and Abi's story.

First Storyline

Eliane lives in rural France and we hear her story starting in the late 1930's near the beginning of World War II.  She lives on the Count Comte's Bellevue estate and she is employed as a kitchen assistant in the main chateau.  One of the duties she loves is taking care of the many beehives.  She does an excellent job and the Count arranges for some additional beehives to be moved from a nearby farm for Eliane to also mange.  When the beehives are moved Matthieu oversees the move and Eliane and Matthieu soon develop a close relationship.
The story then evolves as the chateau is taken over by the Nazi's and the Count moves out to a side cottage.   Eliane continues on with her duties with the bees and in the kitchen.  Without giving away more of the story I will say that Eliane and many of the others become involved in the war effort.  The French resistance is very much a part of this novel and the courage of those involved is evident.  I found it to be a very interesting and educating book.

Second Storyline

Abi, who lives near London, is recovering from an accident and severe depression.  Her friend talks her into attending a Yoga retreat in a small French town.  During the retreat Abi wanders off into the French countryside and gets herself lost.  A storm comes up and Abi is rescued by Sara who is driving by in the area.  Sara brings her to her home to wait out the storm.  It turns out that her home is the former estate of Count Comte.  Sara and her husband Thomas have turned the estate into a wedding venue.  It is the height of the wedding season and a key employee has taken ill.  Abi stays to help and during her stay Sara tells her the story of Eliane.  Through this story, which is told gradually over the weeks that Abi is working at the wedding venue, Abi realizes that she too can be strong and face the future.






My Recommendation

This was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.  In fact I think I will recommend it for my book club to read.  I loved all of the characters and the author, Fiona Valpy, did an excellent job of making me feel that I was part of the story.  It was one of those books that carried the characters with me long after I had finished reading.



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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Beneath Devils Bridge by Loreth Anne White-A Book Review

 

A Book Review
Beneath Devils Bridge is a compelling mystery that had my attention from page one.  In this story the author weaves a tale about a ambitious podcaster, Trinity  Scott, who is interviewing a condemned murderer. She wants to tell the story of a 24 year old murder of a 14  year old girl in a small town in British Columbia.  The  story flips between the present day story of the podcaster and her quest for the truth and the crime that took place 24 years in the past.  The murderer Clayton Jay Pelley confessed to the crime and is now serving a life sentence, but is that all there is to the story.  When Trinity starts to dig into the past the members of the small town community are not anxious to help her uncover what really happened.



Characters

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is the way the author developed the characters as the story progressed.  Here is a short synopsis of some of the main characters.

 Trinity Scott

 Trinity is an interesting character.  She is a podcaster who is very ambitious.  She researches cold cases and features them  on her podcasts.  At first glance you feel that her interest in this case is purely to have a great podcast.  But is that completely true or does she have some ulterior motive?

Leena Rai

Leena Rae is the murder victim in this mystery.  She is a fourteen year old girl who wants very much to belong, but she is very plain, shy and awkward.  She is often bullied and made fun of by others in her class.  On a cold November night she is brutally murdered on her way home from a "secret" bonfire in the small town of Twin Falls.  The circumstances of her murder are covered up by the people in the village till podcaster Trinity Scott brings up the case 24 years later.

Rachel Walczak

Rachel is the lead detective on the case and also the mother of one of Leena's classmates.  When she and the other detective start interviewing the students after the murder they both feel something is being hidden from them, but when a teacher confesses the case is quickly closed.

My Thoughts on the Book

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I like the way it was written giving both Trinity's and Rachel's perspective.  The book really pulls you in and has several twist and turns that I did  not anticipate.  It also has a lesson to be learned on what happens when bullying becomes the norm and a small town sticks together to hide the truth.



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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Reviewing Her Last Breath by Hilary Davidson

Today I'm going to review a book that is set for release on 1st July 2021 which I was able to read prior to release as part of the First Reads for Amazon Prime Readers

Her Last Breath by Hilary Davidson Reviewed


One of the things that made me choose this book to read was in the blurb about it, "On the day of her sister Caroline’s funeral, Deirdre Crawley receives a message her sister wrote before she died: If you’re reading this, I’m already dead." That hook was irresistible for me so I downloaded the book and settled down for what I hoped would be a great read, I have to say I have very mixed feelings about this book. 

I have never heard of the author before so I had no expectations. I actually read the book in one sitting and two of the things I loved about the book were the plot and the way that the pandemic was handled. I mention the pandemic because the book was based in NY and it's the first book I've read where it's even mentioned - it has been done so in a way that is easy to miss, but to me added another dimension and makes me surprised at the biggest failing this book has. 

As I said the plot was great and I would recommend reading it just because I did enjoy the plot, but the characters were another story. They seemed very one-dimensional. Even with a character that wasn't very fleshed out, there were a few things that Diedre said that just didn't seem in line with other things. 

I, personally, think one of the best characters in the book was Theo, the person who Diedre's sister claimed had killed her. If this book was a first draft I would have given it really high marks, but as a completed book it's disappointing. 

I don't usually like to write book reviews that I have mixed feelings about, but this author shows amazing talent. I see so many glimpses in this book that tell me she can write and I truly believe that she could have made these characters more real to me. 

If you like suspenseful thrillers do I still think you'd enjoy the plot lines of this book, but if you are more into sinking your teeth into the characters then you may want to pass. I will definitely be happy to read this author again though as I did see a lot of promise in the pages. 

I should clarify it's not that I disliked the characters, I reviewed a book called Girls Night Out where I really didn't like the characters, but they definitely seemed real to me. In this particular book it's that I couldn't envisage these characters as being real. When I read a book I can almost see things happening in my mind like I'm watching a movie - this time the characters wouldn't appear clearly for me.




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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Cotillion Brigade: A Novel of the Civil War - A Book Review

 Historical Novels seems to be my latest niche for reading!

I love reading stories of bygone times and how life was lived in those days.  It takes me a while to get my mindset on the times, but once I 'm there, it's like I'm living it right along with all the characters in the book.  To me, this is part of what makes reading so enjoyable.  

The Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney, is the latest Historical Novel that I have slipped into.  
 
Cotillion Brigade



Set in the South, this book will take you on a "tour of duty" that several  Southern women joined.  Now everyone has pictures in their minds of the South during the time of the Civil War.  Large plantations, huge homes, gaily dressed ladies who spend their afternoons doing needlepoint or watercolors, or some such hobby, while their homes are being looked after by the slave help.  No one in the South thought that this "silly" war would last more than a few months.  They were wrong, so wrong!

Grand parties and lots of social engagements are the norm for the plantation owners and their families.  But something is afoot!  There is talk about abolishing the Slave Trade and all of the Southerners are in Disbelief that anything like this could happen.  Even with the Underground Railways and slaves being moved to the north, no one thought that a Civil War would last any length of time.  

Well today we know what happened and that the South lost the Civil War and slavery was indeed abolished.

During the War though, there was much  discussion about what would be happening to their so well ordered lives.  No one thought that the war would last for 4 years at the onset.  But it did and the men of the South were gone from their homes and families, leaving their wives and girlfriends alone.

Who was going to protect them?  Certainly not the slaves as they were very eager to be free.   So what was to become of these plantations during the invasions of the army from the North?  

Well as genteel women did not do any kinds of manual work, it was up to a small handful of "progressive" thinking women to organize themselves.  They needed to be able to defend what was theirs.  After all, they were alone and everything that was theirs could become part of the invading army's arsenals.  But who was going to teach them how to defend themselves, especially under these circumstances.

Glen Craney takes us on a journey with the Women of the South and their determination to protect their homes and themselves!  

The "Nancy Harts" were a group of women from LaGrange Georgia, who when their husbands and brothers had all left for the war, organized themselves to protect what was theirs.  While many of them had never needed the skills to shoot a gun, when left to fend for themselves, they needed all the help they could get.  Nancy Morgan Hart (whom this band of women were named after) was originally from Pennsylvania (not historically proven).  She was a strong woman who had the skills that her contemporaries were lacking!  She was adept at using what was at her disposal to feed and help the women to survive!  She was a great marksperson and taught her friends to shoot.  While they were not officially part of the army, they trained and trained as if they were! These women were always to be at the ready, for invasion from the North.  
Review this Reviews.com
                                                                                    Photo taken from Wikipedia!  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Hart


Not only did they protect their homes and town, but they also learned how to take care of their wounded soldiers as well.  

These women managed to keep their town from being ravaged by a war that was going on all around them and even to capture some of the Yankees!  

Glen Craney has done a great job in taking us into the heart of what it must have been like for these "genteel" ladies, who had been left to care for themselves.  It is an interesting and very well written story that we don't think too much about today.  

The Nancy Harts, did themselves proud during four years of deprivation and managed to spare their homes and families until the end of the war!  

This book is well worth reading and I'm sure you will learn something about the history of this time period as well.  

Thanks Glen Craney for a book that was easy to sink my teeth into!



  


 
 
 If you would like a copy of the book it is available right here!

This book was made available to me by Glen Craney, and an honest review was promised!




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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

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.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Too Early to Plant, So Take a Trip Through a Garden Instead! A Book Review

March has arrived!  It's too early to plant, so take a nice trip through the outback of Australia with this memorable book!  

 

Many of us are getting very itchy fingers!  We all want to start digging in the dirt!  That's not a bad thing, but here in my neck of the woods, it is far to early to even think about starting all those seeds!  So what's a bonafide gardener to do?  My suggestion, is read a book!  

By accident, I came across this book, "The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart" by Holly Ringland.  I was itching to get my hands dirty, I knew it was too early, yet I needed something to take that itch away.  Talking about flowers seemed to be a good idea.  I must confess that I got this book from the library (thank you Libby app.).  To say that it piqued my interest is putting it mildly.  Alice Hart's life is a story that has been lived by many people in some form or other.  Using her love of flowers, helps her to grow, learn, heal and above all live her life!  The flowers just help her with their stories and meanings.  They help her to express what she sometimes doesn't understand or can't put words to.  

I have always wanted to travel to Australia, but I'm pretty sure that I will only be doing that virtually, especially in these times.  So, I was getting rid of two itches at once (gardening and travelling) while delving into the pages of this book.

Trying to get rid of the itch to garden too early can be difficult, but this book took me away to places I have only dreamed of.  That helped me a lot.  Alice Hart (the main character in the book) grabs you right away.  You want to hold her hand as she traverses a new normal amid family secrets and stories that make life "Okay" again.

So many things are not spoken, and through the language of flowers, Alice finds a way to embrace what is going on in her life. 

Do Flowers have a language?  Oh yes indeed they do!  The first book I read about the Language of Flowers was a book reviewed right here by our own writer, Renaissance Woman!  I was so taken with this book that when I found The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, I knew I had to read this book too!

While enjoying the story, I also learnt of trees and flowers that require a "burn" in order to spread their seeds, birds of the Australian landscapes and flowers that we will never be able to grow here in the north.  In addition, the need to keep our hands off of flowers that will die when we pick them.  

I'm sure that you will enjoy this book as much as I did and it just might help you get through that itch, that for us is starting far too early.

Waiting till April will make our efforts of digging in the ground much more fruitful and successful too.

You can learn a lot by reading and hearing the stories set in far away places. When they are  a novel that is fictional, but interspersed with truths of gardening and the habits of flora and fauna of distant places, you know you will be changed.

Here's hoping that spring will come along in due time and our itches to get our hands in the ground will be fruitful and result in beautiful gardens for the year to come.
 
https://amzn.to/3e2dmcW













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.”


FOLLOW US ON:
Review This Reviews Quick View Home Page

The Review This Contributors



Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasWednesday ElfWednesday ElfOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010RenaissanceWomanLou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelRaintree AnnieRaintree AnnieTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaSam MonacoSam MonacoTracey BoyerTracey BoyerBarbRadBarbRadBev OwensBev OwensBuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecoratingforEventsHeather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G



Review This is Dedicated to the
Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner


We may be apart, but
You Are Not Forgotten





“As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from purchases.” Disclosure Statement

X