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

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Antoine Laurain's Vintage 1954 Book Reviewed

Antoine Laurain's Vintage 1954

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

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









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


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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Push by Ashley Audrain - A Book Review

 




During these days when we are called to remain indoors unless necessary, I find that I spend a lot of time reading.

I love to read historical novels and spy thrillers, murder mysteries and some autobiographies if the person is someone I admire.  In 2020, I made myself a promise that I would expand my reading genres.

So far I think I have accomplished that task and will continue to expand into other genres just for my own interests.

The Push by Ashley Audrain was a book that I really wasn't sure I would like. It was made available to me through #Netgalley, as a  pre-published book.  The only requirement to being able to access this book, was that I provide a review when I was finished reading it.  

Personally, I'm a very sensitive person, and I don't like things that upset my sense of balance.  Psychological Thrillers are among the types of books that tend to really upset my life, but I was willing to give this one a try. Suffice it to say that it turned me upside down and inside out, yet I could not put the book down.

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My husband would chuckle when I would be getting ready to sleep for the night and be repeating the mantra "It's only a Story!" , over and over again.

This book is a must read for those who like this genre of deeply disturbing mentally challenging type of books. It is haunting but at the same time very understandable and possible.  This book has been read and acclaimed by many authors and found it's way to the New York Times Best New Books List.  It already has over 1500 reviews and is highly recommended  by many different authors.

Author Claudia Dey puts her thoughts on this book as follows:  

“A meteoric debut. Ashley Audrain’s The Push is a force of nature, an unforgettable arrival that will linger in your heart—shimmer, darken and then haunt you. Every sentence is just so achingly alive. Audrain descends with near pointillistic precision into the gore of motherhood and love. Perhaps if Stephen King had experienced motherhood—the singular exaltation and morbid terror of that state—he might have been able to dream up this book. Wise, monstrous, and tender, The Push operates at a different frequency. It seemed to pulse in my hands. I could not put it down. I could not look away.”
—Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker and Stunt

That is the draw of this book, even if you don't like mentally jarring books, you cannot put this one down.  

This book has just been published and it is #6 on Amazon Best Sellers this week.  It is a book that book clubs and mothers will be talking about for a long time.

All of the thoughts on motherhood, marriage, child raising and everything we think we know is in question.  Haunting is a great adjective for this book.  


I haven't really told you any of the story and I don't think I will.  It is one of those books that you just have to get a copy of and read it for yourself.  Trust me, you won't be able to put it down. 

Should you decide to get this book, I'd love to know how you reacted and what you thought. 

**I am a member of NetGalley and as such have access to many books that have not yet been published.  These books are given to members electronically, and the only requirement from members is an honest review!  


Professional Reader


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


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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Review of Folly-A Folly Beach Mystery Book

My Photo of the Morris Island Lighthouse

I just read a book that has all the elements that I find fascinating.  First let me tell you I am a photographer whose favorite subject is lighthouses.  I also enjoy mysteries. This book has all of those things along with a cast of quirky characters that make the book a real page turner.

Summary of Book

 I started reading this book and I was hooked on the very first pages when a photographer sets off to take a photo of the sun rising over a lighthouse.  It just so happens that this lighthouse is the Morris Island Lighthouse, a lighthouse that I too have photographed.  As he is walking down the path to the shore  I can vividly remember myself walking down that same path.  Needless to say my interest was captured right from the beginning.

In this delightful first book of the Folly Beach Mystery Series Chris is taking a month long vacation in Folly Beach South Carolina, a beach town near Charleston.  While Chris is on his first outing to photograph the lighthouse he hears shots fired and discovers a dead body.  The rest of the book is filled with Chris meeting the residents of the small town and discovering some delightful characters along the way.  

When Chris's first rental house is burned he begins to suspect that someone thinks he saw something at the murder site.  Chris does not know what it could be but he becomes determined in discovering who the killer is and why they are targeting him.

Along the way Chris meets a reporter who shows him the sights in Charleston and a love interest develops.  He also meets a quirky character, Charles who calls him "Mr. Photo Man".  

The book has lots of interesting people and wonderful descriptions of both Folly Beach and Charleston.  If you haven't been there they will make you want to go and if like me you've been to both places they make you long to go back.

The Book on Amazon

Here is a link to the book on Amazon.  I highly recommend it for a relaxing and fun read.  As soon as I finished I went and bought book 2 in the series and I can't wait to get started.



My Photos on Zazzle

Here on Zazzle are several of the photographs I took when visiting South Carolina.






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


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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Heart of a Runaway Girl - A Book Review

Heart of a Runaway Girl is a novel that keeps you turning pages!

Trevor Wiltzen is the author of this book and he has made it available to me pre-publishing for an honest review! 


Heart of a Runaway Girl is his debut novel featuring Mabel, a single mom, with a penchant for "reading" people.  She's a hard working mom, whose own life is difficult given her circumstances, but that doesn't stop her from helping someone in need.

Blue River is the community where she lives with her two sons and her niece.  She has a full plate with her family and the motel/restaurant that she runs.

The two biggest employers in the town are the mines and the sawmill.  Both see their share of casual laborers who come and go as the wind may blow.

In the midst of all this, Mabel still has time to get to know and observe the comings and goings in her small town.

What she doesn't like is that this town also has a dark side.  There is one school with about 30 kids and each one of those kids wants to leave town as soon as they can.  There just isn't anything here for them.  




The town is ripe for a drug dealer to get his contraband into the hands of people looking for some fun.  With only one law enforcement officer in town, drug dealers are able to go about their "business" unchecked.  The dark side seems to have the right to do whatever it wants, with a blind eye turned in their direction.

Enter a young man and his girlfriend.  Things are not quite right with these two.  During a meeting of the two in the restaurant, Mabel notices both of them and wonders what is going on.  The young lady is sad, angry and upset, while the young man is at a loss at what to do.

Trouble begins when it's the last time she is seen alive.    

Winston (the young man) the last person she has been seen with, is picked up and charged with her murder.

But Mabel, having watched the two of them together is convinced that there is NO WAY that Winston did what they allege he did.  Deep in her heart, she knows that this young man is being railroaded by a bunch of bigots and bullies.

Oh Winston is no saint, that's true, but he's not capable of committing the heinous crime he has been charged with.  Mabel just can't sit by and watch this young man's life go to waste.  No one else seems to care what happens to him!



www.reviewthisreviews.com


I don't want to give away too much of the story, but suffice it to say that this book was an enjoyable book to read. 

Since I was given the book, it has now been published and you can get it for yourself on Amazon.ca or  on Amazon.com.  This book is available either in Kindle or paperback form on either site.

If you enjoy the book you can go to Trevor Wiltzen's Website and sign up for his newsletter so that you will be the first to know when his new books are coming out!  




  



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


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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review of What It's Like to Be a Bird

Robin in my Backyard

 Are you ever curious about the habits of birds?  Did you realize that a bird's senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell many times surpass the same senses in humans?  Did you know that if you "ate like a bird" you might eat more than twenty-five pizzas each day?  These are just a few of the many things you'll learn about birds in the book What It's Like to Be a Bird.  


I received a copy of this book as a Christmas gift and have found it fascinating.  It is a rather large, coffee table type book that is full of information on the birds of North America.

The book is divided into three sections.  In this review, I will give you some insight into each of the sections.  The photographs I am including in this review are birds that I photographed in my backyard.


First Section: Introduction

Female Downy Woodpecker

  • The introduction section of the book is 32 pages full of information on birds in general.  This section talks about the feathers on birds, the senses of birds and how they relate to human senses.  There are sections on 
  • Food
  • Survival
  • Social Behavior
  • Movement
  • Physiology
  • Migration
an much more.  This area is full of interesting information.  Some examples include:
  • There are 11 thousand species of birds today and 800 are regularly found in North America.
  • Birds visual ability varies greatly between species.  Owls have great night vision  and Eagles see five times more details than humans and 16 times the colors.
  • Some birds spend their entire winter in the air, even sleeping while they fly.

Second Section: Main Body of Book

In this section of the book the author tells us about over 200 different species of birds.  The author has two pages for most species and they include beautiful colored illustrations of the birds and are full of interesting facts about each type of bird.

One good example is the section on Finches.  The first page shows a beautiful illustration of a male and female House Finch building a nest.  The information says that these finches are aptly named because they have adapted to living around houses and often make their nests on items around the houses such as hanging plants and window ledges.  On the page with Goldfinches we are told that they travel in flocks almost all year and it is believed that some birds stay together in small groups for months or even years.

Third Section: Listing of Birds in this Book

In this last section of the book you find a list of all the birds that have been covered in the book.  It includes the page number for more information along with a paragraph summarizing that particular bird.

Here is some of the information included on the Northern Cardinal.  It tells that the bird is named for its bright red color which is like the cardinals in the Roman Catholic church.  The paragraph goes on to say that the Northern Cardinal is one of the most widely recognized birds in North America.  It adds a couple of interesting facts such as that it is common for male cardinals to feed the adult females.  In this way they are signaling their ability to find food.

This is a book I would highly recommend for anyone interested in finding out more about birds.
Here is a calendar I made of my backyard bird photos.  It is offered on Zazzle.
  



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


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Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Magnificent Dappled Sea Book Review


 
In this delightful historical novel by David Biro, a young boy from a small town in Italy is discovered to have leukemia and can only be helped by a bone marrow transplant.  The search for a donor brings up secrets from the past and stretches across the ocean to a rabbi in the USA.  I found this to be another one of those novels that I couldn't put down and wanted to keep reading.  It is also one where the characters come alive to the reader and linger long after you have put down the book.

Characters from the Book


  • Luca- A fascinating young boy who comes down with a dreaded disease.  Luca has a wonderful imagination and a "friend" he talks to that only he can see.  His parents were killed when he was very young and he lives with his grandparents in a small Italian village.  
  • Giovanni- Luca's grandfather who loves his grandson dearly, but is haunted by a decision he made years ago during the war when he found his son Paolo (Luca's father) and brought him home to raise him as his own.
  • Nina- A young nurse who is very dedicated and helps to lead the search to find a donor for Luca.  This search turns into a life changing event for her.
  • Rabbi Joseph Neiman- A rabbi in Brooklyn, New York who is struggling with his faith.  When he works to help a young girl in his community find a bone marrow donor, he has his own marrow tested and finds he is a match for a young  boy in Italy.  What secrets will be revealed to show how a young Catholic boy can have Jewish genes?  
  • Sarah- The wife of the rabbi who has very bad feelings toward anyone from Italy, where her grandparents were captured and sent to a concentration camp during the war.
  • Samuel- The son of the rabbi.  Samuel makes friends with the young boy from Italy.

The Book on Amazon



Lessons from the Book


The book is a work of historical fiction, which contains lessons for us all.  The book challenges our identities and shows how as humans, we are really more alike than we are different.  This is a wonderful novel which I highly recommend.



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


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Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Last Correspondent Book Review

The Last Correspondent is a work of historical fiction written by Soraya M Lane.  It takes place during World War II just prior, during and after the invasion of Normandy.  The scenes are set in London and France during the war.  

This story is about three woman who fight to use their careers to tell their story in a man's world.  They show a tremendous amount of courage, grit and determination in order to get the story told.  This then is the story of a war correspondent, a photographer and a model.

I found this book to be a real page turner.  In fact after I was about half way through the book, I couldn't put it down till I read the whole book.  It is one of those books where the author does such a good job of making the characters believable that I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

The Three Women

  • Danni-  Danni is a seasoned photographer, who has photographed the war on several different fronts.  As the days close in on the Normandy invasion she finds herself in London.   Only the  men are allowed to get passes to cover the war during the invasion, but Danni is determined to find a way to get to the action.  She has teamed up with a correspondent, Andy, who has been with her during her last several assignments.  They have become good friends and cover each others backs.  Danni enlists Andy to help her sneak aboard a medical ship that is sailing toward Normandy.
  • Ella-  Ella is a reporter who has written stories  under a man's pen name in order to get her works published.  When she is found out, her publisher fires her.  She finds a job with a magazine reporting on the war from a women's point of view.  She interviews women working on the war effort and the magazine is so pleased with her work that they send her to London to report on the war.  Like Danni, Ella also finds she is limited in her access because she is a woman.  Ella goes by herself to try to find a way to the action and find herself on the same medical ship as Dani and Andy.  After a rough night hiding on board they decide to team up as they make their way to shore.
  • Chloe-  Chloe is Andy's sister who was a Vogue model prior to the war.  When she was in Paris on a modeling job she met Gabriel, an editor, whom she fell in love.  At the beginning of the story Chloe is at her home in England, longing to find a way to be with Gabriel in Paris.  She says she is a showgirl in order to make her way into Nazi occupied Paris.


The Men in Their Lives

  • Cameron- Cameron is a Lieutenant that Danni first meets and has a conflict with when she is covering the war in Sicily.  She meets up with him again in a bar in London and then in Normandy.  They have a real love/hate relationship.
  • Andy- Andy is a war correspondent and best friend to Danni.  They have been together on several war zones and he always has her back when she is pushing the envelope.
  • Gabriel-  Gabriel is Chloe's lover and she sneaks in to Paris to be with him, only to find out the it is very pre-occupied working for the resistance.  
  • Michael - Michael is also a war correspondent and Ella first meets him at the bar at the Savoy in London.  This is a meeting place for many of the correspondents and photographers.  She next meets up with him in Normandy.

Recommendation

If you are a lover of historical fiction this is a wonderful  read.  It is full of history, women's fight to be treated as equals, and just a bit of romance.  A great read all around.  I highly recommend it.




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


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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Where the Crawdads Sing Book Review


For those who love to travel, the current global atmosphere fraught as it is with many concerns, may be keeping you at home and make a strong case for sitting back and enjoying some armchair travel. If you are interested in a trip to North Carolina’s remote marshlands, you might want to pick up the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Before I read this book, North Carolina was not on my list of places that I would like to see. Now it is. I thoroughly enjoyed the book though it started off a bit oddly, at least for me. I had just finished reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which was an excellent book crafted with simple, straightforward language. When I picked Where the Crawdads Sing up, the language seemed overly flowery with text like, “water flows into the sky”, “clammy forests” and “the marsh’s moist breath.” It was not long, however, before I was whisked away to fictional Barkley Cove in North Carolina and wrapped up in the lives of the main characters.

THE STORY


The story? Well, simply put it is that of a girl’s marsh life from the ages of 6 to 25 both with her family and then abandoned by her family, of how she grows up barefoot and wild and, despite sparse interactions with other people, of how she manages to educate herself in her remote environment. It is rich with details about marsh life in North Carolina. It is a coming-of-age tale and it is also one of romance and murder, alternating between the years of 1952 and 1969. The author herself says that the book is about loneliness.

IS IT A TRUE STORY?


Is Where the Crawdads Sing a true story? Not really though Elle magazine says that the story has "striking echoes" to the author’s life in Africa with conservationist former husband, Mark Owens, both of who were linked to the unsolved 1995 murder of an African poacher though the couple has denied anything to do with the murder and no charges have ever been filed.

IS IT RECOMMENDED?


Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly the book, which is Owen's first work of fiction, quickly became a hugely successful book.

The Guardian says that “Surprise bestsellers are often works that relate to the times. Though set in the 1950s and 1960s, this book is, in its treatment of racial and social division and the fragile complexities of nature, obviously relevant to contemporary politics and ecology. But these themes reach a huge audience though the writer’s old-fashioned talents for compelling character, plotting and landscape description.”

Actor Reese Witherspoon, who picked Where the Crawdads Sing  as a book for her book club, helped it build momentum and is quoted in Town and Country magazine as having said, "I can’t even express how much I love this book…There is so much to her story…and it takes place in the breathtaking backdrop of the South. I didn’t want this story to end!"

A whopping eighty-six percent of Amazon readers gave it a 5 star review. It is a New York Times number one bestseller, it has been on that best seller list for 78 weeks and it has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Those are, in my opinion, a whole lot of reasons to check out for yourself the book Where the Crawdads Sing. The majority of readers have loved this book and it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You can find your copy on Amazon by clicking right here and if you enjoy it, be sure to watch for Witherspoon's movie version of the story.

See you
At the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:


Buy your copy of Where the Crawdads Sing here on Amazon.
Read Dawn Rae's review of Where the Crawdads Sing.









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


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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2020 A New Year of Reading Materials to Discover!

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

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

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


My New Genre is a Psychological Thriller!

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


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

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

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

thriller, new author, canadian,

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

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


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

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

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


So What Else is in Store for 2020?  

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








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


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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Daughter's Tale Book Review


The Daughter's Tale Book Review
Armando Lucas Correa’s The Daughter's Tale starts out in modern times in New York City but most of the story is set in the years of World War II in Berlin, Germany and in the south of France. The novel is based on a real Jewish child who survived the war because of the efforts of her father and her mother and because of the help of others.

STORYLINE


It is a heartbreaking story told mostly without overly graphic descriptions though it cannot help but mention the atrocities of the war. It includes the horrific 1944 Nazi massacre of all the inhabitants of Oradour-Sur-Glane, a small village in southern France. It references the sailing of the MS St. Louis full of German-Jewish refugees that was refused docking in Cuba and elsewhere. However, those are pieces of the story, which is really about a series of impossible choices that a family had to make in an attempt to save their children. It is a story of love, of survival and of hope.

MY COMMENTS


I definitely had quibbles with the book. I questioned why the mother could not leave on the ship with her children. I wondered if a young child would have been so very knowledgeable about the war and the resistance. I found it a bit odd that the children spoke and thought like adults. In the latter part of the book, I was disappointed when the same child suddenly had the ability to foresee events almost in a psychic manner. Finally, I found it hard to believe that an 80-year-old woman, who spent her whole life feeling guilty about things she had no control over as a child, did not seek out the story of her family and childhood. Despite these issues, I enjoyed the book and here is what a few others thought.

REVIEWS


Readers on Goodreads gave it a 3.9 out of 5 stars and 72 percent of Amazon readers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. That’s not bad.

Booklist says that author Correa presents, “a gripping and richly detailed account of lives torn apart by war.” I agree with that.

The New York Times, on their Summer Historical Fiction Reading list for 2009, said that The Daughter’s Tale is “better written and more tightly edited than most books in this genre, and the story line is breathtakingly threaded together from start to finish with the sound of a beating heart.” Is that overly generous? In my view, it may be.

I believe that people who enjoy historical fiction will enjoy this book even if it is not my favorite nor the best of the many World War II themed novels available. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can buy your own copy of The Daughter’s Tale on Amazon by clicking right here.

If you do read it, be sure to come back and share your thoughts with us. If you enjoy it, you might also like Armando Lucas Correa’s previous novel, The German Girl.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Daughter’s Tale from Amazon.
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Movie Review: One Women's Efforts to Save Polish Jewish Children.
Thin Red Line Movie Review: The Story of the WWII battle for Guadalcanal
My Real Name is Hannah Book Review: World War II Fiction for Teen and Young Adults.





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


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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Case Histories Book Reviewed

Cold Case Mystery

Today, I want to review an older mystery book for you Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. It was first published in 2004 but is still considered in the top 20 of best mysteries in 2019. One of the reasons I decided to read it was because Stephen King was quoted that he thought it was the best mystery of the decade. Okay, I don't care who you are...for Mr. King to give it that kind of accolade, it has to be pretty danged good. Am I right?

case histories
Looking for clues in cold cases
image courtesy of pixabay.com
The recommendation by King was actually secondary as to why I decided to begin reading this book. I'm beginning a new Cozy Mystery Series that will introduce Babbs Bennett, a senior amateur sleuth who in the first book will be trying to solve a cold case from her past. The Mystery Book Club that Babbs just joined needs to meet in this first story. So, I began a search to find a book that the club could discuss that would also be about a cold case. (Hint, the book gives them the idea to look into the unsolved case of their youth). That is probably more information than you wanted but it is why I even looked at the book in the first place. Anyway, what started as a resource for my own book has turned out to be a real enjoyable reading experience! Mr. King isn't wrong in his estimation.


Case Histories Isn't A Cozy Mystery


Jackson Brodie is the Private Detective who is looking into three cold cases that span about thirty years. The cases he has been hired to look into seem totally unrelated until Brodie begins to discover connections in the crimes. Jackson Brodie works with determined resolve on the cases that he honestly would have rather not taken. His findings lead him to reassess his own painful history as an ex-cop, ex-husband, and a father on weekends only.  

First of all, kudos to Kate Atkinson for her writing style! Oh my goodness, she describes the dysfunction in families so accurately. The families are different but similar if that makes sense. I found myself relating to the children but also to the mothers in the families. I think we all have felt at least a little of their pain. 

Case Histories doesn't fall in the Cozy sub-genre of mystery books. I say that because it is slightly more graphic in the crimes but not so graphic that you will find it disturbing. At least, I didn't. It is more accurately placed in Private Investigators or Detective stories. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I will probably have to read the other Jackson Brodie mysteries in the near future. Oh, another sign that the novel is worth reading is that it along with the other books in the series was made into a television series by the BBC. A pretty big vote of confidence, I'd say. 

This is a great book for anyone who loves to read detective type mysteries. I think both men and women will enjoy the plot and the way Atkinson tells it. For me it started out as something I could refer to in my own book and ended up grabbing my attention in an unexpected way.



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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Death of Amelia Marsh Book Review

Death of an Elderly Neighbor

appointment book
Amelia Marsh's appointment book was taken
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Last week I read The Death of Amelia Marsh by MaryJo Dawson. My review follows in the paragraphs below. I first connected with the author in a group that I belong to for authors and readers on GoodReads. I'm finding some very interesting books to read by belonging to that group. It is a source you might try if you are looking for books that you might not otherwise discover.

Anyway, I should get back to the purpose of this post. MaryJo Dawson has written a series of Cozy Mysteries with The Death of Amelia Marsh being the first one. The series is called the Sally Nimitz Mysteries. Sally, if you haven't guessed already, is the main character and I found her to be a very likable amateur female sleuth. She is a widow with grown children living in a condominium located in a small town in Indiana. Being a Hoosier, myself, you might see why I was first drawn to read about Sally. 

Short Synopsis of The Death of Amelia Marsh  

As the story begins, we find Sally preparing to go to visit one of her neighbors, Amelia Marsh. The elderly woman had invited Sally over that afternoon and seemed anxious about something. Sally admires the charming woman with the white hair and English accent. When she arrives at the appointed time, Mrs. Marsh doesn't answer the door. Sally thinks at first that perhaps the woman had forgotten or maybe she was napping. She waits for a short period of time and goes back. There is still no answer and Sally becomes concerned. Sally goes to the manager of the condominiums and asks if he could let her in; she's worried about Amelia. From the title of the book, I assume you have figured out they find Mrs. Marsh on her kitchen floor, dead from a blow to the head.

Sally starts putting the pieces to the puzzle together of who killed Amelia with the help of her friend George and Amelia's friend Anne Carey. It isn't easy for the three because Amelia Marsh was a bit of a mystery, herself. She avoided talking of her past, didn't mention relatives and had very few items in her home that might help them with clues of where to look. What was Amelia Marsh hiding? Who would take the life of a sweet little old woman? Robbery didn't seem to be a motive because nothing seemed to be missing until Anne realizes that the appointment book that Amelia always kept handy was no where to be found. Whoever the killer was, must have been penciled in that book.

Did I like this Cozy Mystery?


Oh you bet I did! The story is very well written, moving along at a nice pace with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep you turning the page. The style of MaryJo Dawson's writing reminded my of the mysteries I read when I was younger. I enjoyed that! 

The characters are absolutely delightful and believable. Sally is someone I would love to spend more time with. Anne Carey, another elderly neighbor in the Condos is witty and interesting. I would love to sit and sip some tea with her. I could spend hours on George's porch talking with him and Sally. The characters are well thought out that is for certain.

I also loved that there was the mystery of who "done it" but also the mystery of Amelia Marsh and her past life. Sally and her friends have to figure out why their friend was so closed mouthed about her past. Why did she not have any memorabilia in her home of her life that was filled with travels? There weren't many photos of her past to be found which they felt was odd because people keep those things for the memories. As they work together to find clues, it seems every time they think they have found an answer they only come up with more questions. 

I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Sally's sleuthing. I think you will enjoy it, also. Give it a try, I don't think you will be disappointed in the least.



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


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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Raspberry Danish Murder Reviewed

A Culinary Cozy Mystery

Raspberry Danish Anyone?
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I recently read Raspberry Danish Murder and wanted to review it for you today. This book happens to be number 22 in the Hannah Swenson Mystery series. Written by Joanne Fluke and published by Kensington Books this is a mystery that could almost pass as a cookbook.

I am a little confused by the title. Certainly, raspberry danish is mentioned early in the book and there is a recipe for the danish but beyond that it wasn't mentioned again and I don't see the relevance to the mystery or the murder. Just an observation on my part. Although, I guess after 21 other books in the series it might have gotten tough to come up with new titles.



A Short Synopsis of Raspberry Danish Murder

Hannah Swenson lives in the small Minnesota town of Lake Eden. She co-owns a cookie and coffee shop called The Cookie Jar. The story opens in November when people are getting ready for Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. We find out early in the book that Hannah is a newlywed but the problem is her new husband Ross has disappeared. Ross works or worked for a local television station and just left one day without his belongings or even his car. Hannah and her family keep hoping that he will return with a logical explanation any day now. In the meantime, Hannah has a cookie business to run and a whole lot of cookies to bake for the upcoming holiday season.

Hannah has some help in searching for her missing husband from the local law enforcement and her husband's assistant P.K. There is something about P.K. He is covering for his missing boss and trying to find clues as to where he can be but he has also taken over Ross's office and ends up driving his car when his has to go into the shop for repairs. No one seems to be able to discover where Ross has gone and then P.K. ends up dead after eating some candy that was sent to the office for Ross. Was the candy meant for the missing Ross or did someone plan to kill P.K?


My Review of this Cozy Mystery


I enjoyed the book, the mystery part. I mentioned earlier that it could almost pass as a cookbook. At first I enjoyed having recipes for cookies, pastries and savory dishes after the chapters they were mentioned in. After a while, I almost found it annoying. Don't get me wrong, the recipes sounded pretty good and the formatting of the pages was clever but goodness gracious they started to get in the way of finding out what was happening in the actual story. Personally, I feel that the recipes could have been included but perhaps a little note that states the recipe can be found at the back of the book instead of after every chapter. They would be easy to reference in a paperback but in an ebook they would be difficult to go back to after reading the book.

The mystery, itself, was well written and intriguing. I loved the characters and the different events that transpired, the solution to the murder and the explanation about Ross. Although, the Ross situation needs a whole lot more words. My guess is it will be addressed in the next book. This book stands alone quite well but I think I might enjoy reading the earlier books for the backstories on many of the characters. 

All in all it is a very good mystery and I think you will enjoy it. You might not have a problem with all of those recipes. Frankly, I like to put a recipe or two in my own books but they are always at the back and hopefully non-intrusive. I also enjoy seeing recipes in books but I prefer them at the back and as a little bonus but I don't need tons of them. If I want a cookie cookbook, I'll buy one. When I buy a Cozy Mystery...well, I want a mystery. I got one and it was a good one, I just didn't appreciate all those extra pages of cooking tips. 



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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

PTO Murder Club Mystery Series Reviewed

Not Your Normal PTO

pto murder club
A Murder Club with humor?
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I stumbled upon another Cozy Mystery series this week. Let me review the PTO Murder Club Mystery series for you today. Having been very active in the Parent Teacher Organizations when my girls were in school, I can assure you none of the meetings I attended were anything like the Bee Creek Elementary School ones. I once served as the President and I was never as funny as Mustang Ridges nor did I have officers quite like hers.

Katie Graykowski has written a three book series that will entertain you as you look for the clues to solve the mysteries and make you laugh hysterically while you do. In Rest In Pieces, the first book in the series, we meet Mustang Ridges the President of the PTO and her two best friends and officers in the organization, Monica and Haley. The three women live in a sleepy little town known as Lakeside. It is a town of "the haves" and the "have nots". Mustang and Monica belong to the "have not" portion of the population while Haley is one of the "haves". The town is mostly very rich Senior Citizens with trophy wives and more money than they know what to do with. Mustang and Monica are single moms with more attitude than money who want to find out what happened to their friend the kindergarten teacher, Molly Miars. They don't believe for one second she died from a heroin overdose.

Feisty Sleuths

I found the banter between the three women hysterically funny and the situations they got themselves into were comical most of the times, too. As the women look into the death of their friend they begin to see a darker side to their community than they ever knew existed. There are so many quirky characters in each book, you won't believe it. Ms. Graykowski has nailed quirky and she comes up with some one-liners that will have you in stitches. I liked that Haley was sort of the 'nice one' of the three but every once in a while was able to get her 'snark' on to impress the other two. I think I enjoyed the camaraderie of the women even more than the figuring out the mystery part of the books. 

So, if you love a mystery and appreciate eccentric characters who might be more than a little off-center; I think you will enjoy this short little series. The setting is unique and the plot a little bizarre but I found the books a nice escape from the standard Cozy Mystery. You might enjoy them, too.

camphor-tree-pto-club
What is this tree? They found one in Molly's yard.
image courtesy of Pixabay.com

The women find a tree that looks much like the one above in Molly's backyard. You will have to read the books to find out what it is and why she was growing it. It will surprise you, at least it did me.




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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Seven Sisters Book Review

Historical Fiction of the Roman Empire

roman legion
Could this Roman legion be marching to the Seven Sisters?
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I would like to share a review of the book Seven Sisters by David Bowman with you today. Most of the time when I pick a book to share with you, it is one that is typically written with the female reader in mind. Oh, a few would be appealing to both genders but generally my reading tastes lean toward my own gender. Today's review will be about a book that I think will appeal to most men.

Mr. Bowman has written a fine piece of historical fiction that takes place in the Roman Empire during the Ninth Century. The story falls into what is often termed as alternative history where actual history takes on a speculative nature allowing for people, places, and events to be in the plot that either didn't exist or didn't happen.



Short Synopsis of Seven Sisters

Crastus is the Commander of the Fifth Legion for the Emperor of Rome. He is a veteran of the Roman military and has earned a great deal of respect from the men he leads and fellow commanders of other legions in the vast military of the empire. He is affectionately referred to as "The Silver Fox" and is known for his superb strategies in battle and for his element of surprise when fighting the enemy. As the story begins, Crastus has been commanded by the Emperor to oversee a campaign involving his own legion along with the Seventh and the Seventeenth. Their mission? To take back the fortified city called Seven Sisters from The Pretender who has kept the empire in a civil war for the last 5 years. This city is the best fortified area in the entire empire, even better than Rome. It has seven fortresses and an ingenuous water defense system. It will be up to Crastus to direct all three legions as they besiege the fortified city and defeat what is left of the rebel army. The task before him will not be easy and if he fails, the Emperor will surely have his head. Will he be able to use the new weapons and his cunning to win the city back? At what cost?

My recommendation:


As I mentioned above this is a book that will appeal to many male readers. I'm not saying woman can't enjoy it; I actually did find it fascinating. There is no romance involved in the plot. It is strictly preparing for battles, strategy planning  and the battles themselves. Political schemes and corruption in the government are also revealed. The battle scenes aren't too horribly graphic but it doesn't take much to see in your mind's eye what is going on during the attacks. I thought the use of their "new weapons" was a fun piece to the story. A kind of using the latest technology of war only it is taking place in the Ninth Century. 

I can see where this wouldn't necessarily be a book that female readers would enjoy but I do think that it would be a very nice gift for your spouse or son to have to read. They are going to enjoy the regimen of the soldiers, the preparing for attacks and the way the men interact with each other. Actually, I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was refreshing to read something that I normally wouldn't choose to read. 

So, why did I pick this book in the first place you might ask? Well, you know me; I am always looking for authors who haven't received much recognition from the reading public. David Bowman actually came to my attention in an unexpected way. I was looking for a designer to do book covers for me and found his website, Brightling Spur. David worked with me to come up with new covers for my Roni Rainer Mysteries and he has also helped me with the covers for my newest (soon to be released) series Cabin 9 Mysteries. When I discovered that he was not only a clever designer of book covers but also an author, I wanted to read his work. I wasn't disappointed in his covers or his writing.

In fact, Seven Sisters is the first book in a trilogy. He has also written Two Brothers which continues the story of Crastus and Rome and the final book is Imperator that concludes the story. I have read the first two completely and am about to finish the third book. If you are looking for a good gift to a male reader on your list, these books will not disappoint.




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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Selective Spells Book Review

Witches, Spells, Dogs & A Mystery

french-bulldog
Is this Beezley the man turned into a dog?
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I'll be reviewing another Cozy Mystery for you today: Selective Spells by Willow Mason. It is Book 1 in the series Beezley and the Witch. It is also the debut novel of this fellow Indie Author.

The story is told in the first person by the main character. She is a witch living in a small town who has been excommunicated from her coven. Up until she got into trouble with the white witches in the area she was a librarian of sorts guarding boxes of spells that shouldn't be tampered with. Now, she has lost her job and her powers are diminished to a certain degree but not completely gone.

Losing her job and the support of the coven is bad enough but then the leader informs her that she is being evicted from her home, too. A witch has to eat and work in order to pay rent no matter where she lives. Searching for employment, she finds a notice for a job that requires the employee be a witch. She decides to look into the opportunity because she is still a witch she just isn't a part of the coven.

This is when she meets Beezley for the first time. He is in the form of a French Bulldog and will be her boss if he gives her the job. Humans wouldn't be able to understand Beezley's canine ramblings; it would just sound like barking, yipping and yapping. But since our narrator is a witch she understands everything he says. It turns out that he was once a Detective on the police force but has been turned into a dog. He is working on the same case that he had when he was in his human form but has trouble with little things like communicating with non-witches, texting on his phone, and using the computer. 

The two don't exactly hit it off in the first interview and our Witch is not interested in the job until she finds out about her eviction. She goes back to take the job and ask to live with the dog detective. They begin to work on the mystery of deaths that are marked as accidents but Beezley's instincts think there is something more to the whole sorted mess. We travel through the pages of spells, deception, betrayal and surprises as the readers.


Recommendation of Selective Spells

I highly recommend this cozy mystery to anyone who loves the genre. It was unique in the concept of the plot. The characters were both humorous and believable. Well, as believable as one can be if they are a witch and a man turned into a dog. That is the wonderful thing about fiction! The characters can be anything and anywhere. 

I enjoyed the story being told in the first person instead of the more standard third person. Being an author, myself, I know that is a little more difficult to write. Our little witch is allowed to have her snarky thoughts and we see her vulnerability better from her perspective. 

This book was extremely fun to read and to work through the clues of the mystery. Well, done Ms. Mason! I look forward to your future books. I think many of you will enjoy Selective Spells, also. The plot flows nicely, the premise is original and the reading is light and cozy just like it is supposed to be.



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