Showing posts with label fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fiction. Show all posts

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Perfect Mother (2018) Book Review

"Some people are so good at making perfect look easy…"

The Perfect Mother is a psychological domestic thriller as well as a reflection on motherhood. It is set in Brooklyn, New York, where a group of new mothers whose babies are all born in the same month become friends through a mom’s group and go on to support each other through the ups and downs of new motherhood.

These women and one 'token' man are very different individuals and come from a variety of backgrounds. However, they are united through the common experience of motherhood.

When the mothers finally allow themselves to go out for an evening and leave their babies at home, their worst nightmare comes true. A baby is kidnapped.

A few members of the group become obsessed with helping recover the baby and their informal investigation unearths secrets from the past that will test marriages and friendships.

Author Aimee Molloy told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that she came up with the idea of the book when her own children were less than five years old. She was still very aware of “the pressures women face and the choices they have to make, particularly when they’re raising a child in a city with no family around to help.”

Here is the short book trailer, which does not really tell much about the book but definitely gives you a feel for the mood in this story:

The Perfect Mother is Molloy’s first novel. However, she also wrote the very successful New York Times Bestselling biography However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph and she is the co-author of several non-fiction books.

Is The Perfect Mother RECOMMENDED by me? It is. It is a very enjoyable, easy-to-read book with a suspenseful ending that will keep you guessing. Amazon says that it was one of the most anticipated books of the summer of 2018 though I do not know how they measure that statistic. It did go on to become a New York Times bestseller and will soon be a movie. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle said it is "gripping and suspenseful and impossible to put down, a true who done it." Pick it up and you will take a suspenseful trip into motherhood.

Of special note is the fact that the grandmothers in my book club who have young grandchildren enjoyed the daily emails woven throughout that detailed what babies might or might not be doing at each stage.

Order your copy of The Perfect Mother on Amazon by clicking right here. If you have read it, do tell what the rest of us what you thought of the book and, if you enjoyed it, do stay tuned for the upcoming movie version of this novel that is being compared to the previous book and movie releases, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of The Perfect Mother from Amazon.
Follow my Pinterest board full of gift ideas for moms and my board full of great books to read.











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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review
Despite the recommendation of every member of my book club and many of my other friends, I have only just finally found my way into the world created by Louise Penny. Penny is a Canadian author who, since the year 2005, has written a series of murder mystery novels that are set in Canada in the romantic Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec.

I was happy to at last have the first book, Still Life, in my hands. I read the first few pages and wondered what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say that I did not like the book until page 59, when I met the main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. It is he who makes this series great when he solves crimes with careful observation and integrity.  When I met him, I was hooked.

I love Penny's realistic portrayals of people both good and bad, of the careful and sometimes instinctive detective work and of the idyllic, almost cottage-like setting.

Three Pines is a village so small as not to be found on the map and I have yet to look and see if it is a real village or not. It has cozy homes with fireplaces, friendly community gatherings and lots of home cooking. This book, Still Life, and presumably subsequent ones in the series, will make you want to visit and stay at the village's lone bed and breakfast.

I am a city girl but Penny’s books have me wanting to move to a quaint little village somewhere 'away from it all.' However, as we all know, it is impossible to truly be away from it all and despite the lovely location, the people who live here enjoy real life issues. They struggle through whatever life throws at them and even, sometimes, experience a murder or two. When that happens,  Chief Inspector Gamache and his team of of provincial police officers are called in from Montreal to solve the crime.

In Still Life, Chief Inspector Gamache arrives to investigate the suspicious death in the woods of a local school teacher and secret artist. Is it an accidental hunting death or is it something more sinister? You will have to read the book to find out.

Is Still Life recommended by me? Yes, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as is the second book, A Fatal Grace.

In 2006, Kirkus Reviews wrote that Inspector Gamache was, “Cerebral, wise and compassionate" and that "he was destined for stardom.” They were absolutely correct on both counts and, as they also said, this first novel was a “stellar debut.” Since then, Louise Penny’s books and Gamache’s adventures, have kept fans reading and anxiously awaiting the next book. Yes, I will be reading more of the books in this series in the order as presented here on this book list:

Still Life
A Fatal Grace
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
he Brutal Telling
Bury Your Dead
The Hangman
Trick of the Light
The Beautiful Mystery
How the Light Gets In
The Long Way Home
The Nature of the Beast
A Great Reckoning
Glass Houses
Kingdom of the Blind

If you enjoy a clever mystery solved in an interesting environment, you should check out the first book, Still Life. You can find it here on Amazon or see all of Louise Penny’s books by clicking right here.

Still Life has been made into a television movie. I have yet to see it but the general consensus of avid Inspector Gamache fans is that the movie was disappointing, which is not really surprising considering the popularity of the books! If you are going to watch the movie, make sure to read the book first!

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Still Life in book, Kindle or audiobook formats on Amazon.

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List




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

Monday, July 30, 2018

Reviewing Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

Reviewing Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
I enjoy books written by Nora Roberts, specifically the romantic suspense books that she writes. Northern Lights is at the top of my list of my favorite books. Recently, I've been so tired that it has been difficult to concentrate on new material and find myself stuck reading the same paragraphs night after night. I decided to read something familiar and that wouldn't require so much concentration but couldn't find my print copy of Northern Lights. I looked to the internet for a digital copy. Because Nora Roberts is a prolific writer, with well over 200 titles published, I found that this book may be lost among them so I decided to highlight one of my favorite stories by this author.


Northern Lights in Lunacy, Alaska


Ignatious Burke (Nate) is a Baltimore cop who accepts a job in Lunacy, Alaska. The baggage he brings, that doesn't fit in his carry-on bags, includes the trauma of watching his partner die on the street in Baltimore. Nate can't shake those feelings of guilt. So he accepts a job in a tiny, remote Alaskan town. So remote that he arrives by small plane.


"Strapped into the quivering soup can laughingly called a plane, bouncing his way on the pummeling air through the stingy window of light that was winter, through the gaps and breaks in snow-sheathed mountains toward a town called Lunacy, Ignatious Burke had an epiphany.
He wasn't nearly as prepared to die as he had believed." - excerpt from Northern Lights 

As you would expect, in Lunacy, there is a cast of eccentric characters. To be expected as the 500+ residents of Lunacy refer to themselves as Lunatics. Nate's job duties include, but are not limited to, Moose versus vehicle incidents, taking care of drunks, and watching over his quiet little town. Quiet until the remains of a body - clearly murdered - is found preserved in an ice cave.

The murder victim is Meg's father. 

Meg was born and raised in Lunacy, is a bush pilot, and is quite able to fend for herself. She lives with her dogs, outside of town. Meg is described by some reviewers as unlikable and cold. I describe her as efficient. She is not needy or clingy. Meg begins in a casual physical relationship with Nate but over time it begins to become a more meaningful connection. 

Like small town life, the story line is in no rush. Other reviewers refer to the story line as a "gradual climb" and a "slow burn". I agree and I would add that it is comfortable. When Meg's father's body is found the story begins to become more tense and we begin to find reason take a closer and more suspicious look at the many eccentric residents of Lunacy.  

Who has killed Mr. Galloway - keeping the secret for all these years and walking the snowy streets with the unsuspecting Lunatics of Lunacy, Alaska? And now that the body has been found, who will the killer go after next in order to cover his/her/their tracks?


Additional things to consider about Northern Lights  


Because I am recommending a book that won't be everyone's cup of tea, I feel I should add a few side notes and warnings.  

  • There is a bit of "gore" (there's been a couple of murders after all - one in Alaska and one on Baltimore). 
  • There is profanity. 
  • There are a couple of sex scenes (4 sex scenes for a total of 10 pages is what another reviewer counted). 
  • This novel was written years ago, about a setting years before that (published in 2004, with a journal entry in the book dated February 12, 1988). It is not PC by some standards today.
  • There is also a review that reports a dislike for how the Alaskan residents are portrayed. 
This story will not be everyone's style. It is mine. I like gritty and a bit of gore. Swearing typically doesn't bother me. I tend to like my fiction slightly caricaturized - after all, why read a story if the character is as mundane and boring as I am? And finally, I am very familiar with people who talk, think, and behave just like the people of Lunacy. So this level of alleged political incorrectness was not shocking to me. But I have read a couple of reviews (out of hundreds) in which readers seemed to be significantly triggered so I felt I should give this bit of information in the interest of full disclosure.

If you are curious, but not sure about the story, Amazon provides a sizable "look inside" sample. If the story sounds intriguing but you aren't quite sure, take a peek at the Northern Lights free sample. 

I enjoyed this story, characters, and setting very much. I have read this book multiple times and have it downloaded to begin again. In my opinion, reading about snowy Alaska during the tired, heat-wave days of summer is a great escape. 




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

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dan Brown ORIGIN Book Review

I was intrigued when I read in Dan Brown’s newest book Origin that the book includes only “Art, architecture, locations, science and religious organisations that are real.” I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the heart of Italy with Dan Brown in Inferno and then with my husband in real life and one day I hope to visit Brown’s Bilbao, Barcelona, Madrid and Seville in person after having enjoyed my visit with him in this novel.

I’m not quite sure why I picked up Origin but it was at least in part because of the memories and discussions that my entire family had after we all read the first two books in the series, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I know that not all of the books in the series were quite as well received by my family and I have to admit to wondering how many times poor Robert Langdon could be called out to save the day.

Well, as it turns out, at least one more time. In this, the latest book, we are armchair travellers to Spain where Langdon is solving a murder mystery and focuses on the origin of man. It involves the art work, symbols, architecture, locations and religions of Spain. This time, the debate includes some interesting familiar and unfamiliar high-level technology and even a super computer. You will find yourself wondering is that really true and find yourself thankful for Brown’s statement that everything in the book is real.

Origin is the first Dan Brown book to feature modern art since Robert Langdon is not much of a fan of that genre and it focuses on the work of Joan Miró. I recommend googling her to have a feeling for her artwork. It really is different from the masters that Langdon normally prefers.  The book also features literary references to William Blake and Friedrich Nietzsche, authors whom I was not particularly knowledgeable of.

The effort required to put this book together with real details and facts is mind boggling. Apparently, Brown employs a team of fact checkers to make sure he is accurately presenting all of that history and science.

Is Origin recommended?


Yes, Origin is recommended by me. Is it highly recommended? I am undecided. I found the novel a bit heavier on religion than I care for and I can honestly say I have never thought about where I came from or where I am going to in such depth. Of course, thinking about our creation and destiny is not necessarily a bad thing.

I was, however, totally fascinated by the high-tech science in this book that includes quantum computing, artificial intelligence in the form of a thinking computer and a self-driving Tesla Model X. The conspiracy website is a nice link between our current online world and the book.

Barcelona Super Computing Center exterior

Barcelona Super Computing Center Interior
Barcelona Super Computing Center
Finally, I liked the glimpse into Spain. Yes, there is really a super computer built inside the walls of a church in Barcelona in this book and the pictures shown here are from the website of the real Barcelona Super Computer Center.

I expect that if you enjoyed Angels & Demons and the Da Vinci Code, you will likely enjoy Origin.

Origin was published on October 3, 2017 and was number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in that same month and it remains on that list in the number eight position as I write this post in February, 2018. It is also currently number 2 on Amazon’s bestseller list of the top 20 most sold and read books of the week. Is there a movie? Not yet but maybe.

The New York Times finds fault and praise for the book but concludes: ”…for all their high-minded philosophizing, these books’ geeky humor remains a big part of their appeal. Not for nothing does Kirsch’s Tesla have a license plate frame reading: “THE GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH.” Brown continues to do everything in his playful power to ensure that will happen.”

Here's an exciting peek at Dan Brown, his books, and Origin. Warning: It will make you want to go to Spain with me.


Origin is fun. Don’t take it too seriously. You can find it here on Amazon. If you decide to read it, be sure to come back and let us know what you think. If you have already done so, have you figured out where we come from and where we are going and, more on point, would you recommend this book to your friends and family?

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

ORDER OF DAN BROWN’S ROBERT LANGDON BOOKS:

Angels & Demons (2000)
The Da Vinci Code (2003)
The Lost Symbol (2009)
Inferno (2013)
Origin (2017)

QUICK LINKS:

Buy Origin on Amazon.
Check out Dan Brown's author page on Amazon.
Read my review of Inferno.






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

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Guilty Book Review

In The Guilty, David Baldacci takes you on a non-stop, action packed adventure in Cantrell, Mississippi.

When a top ranked government assassin is unable to perform his job, he heads home to deal with unresolved issues from his past and winds up embroiled in his father's murder investigation.

Making matters more difficult is the fact that he has been estranged from his father for 20 years. Talking to his father is no easier now than it was when he was a lad and his father's life being on the line does not seem to make a difference. His father wants no help from his son and is resigned to his own personal situation.

Robie, however, refuses to let his father take the murder charge without fighting back. His efforts, combined with those of an equally skilled coworker, to save his dad eventually help him start a proper relationship with his father. Better late than never, as they say. It turns out that his book is about murder and about family.

I was amazed at the action that took place in the first half of the book, which meant that there was lots more still to come. It was fast paced and hard to put down.

Yes, The Guilty is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. Read more about it or order your copy from Amazon by clicking right here.

As it turns out, The Guilty is number four in a series called Will Robie and David Baldacci has written many other books, which I look forward to checking out. It is always great to find a new author that you enjoy and if all of Baldacci's books are as good as this one, I will have some more sleep deprived nights ahead.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Order The Guilty from Amazon here.
See David Baldacci's author biography on Amazon.




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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Piano Maker Book Review

Austrian Kurt Palka’s THE PIANO MAKER is a fictional adventure story with a strong female lead and, true to the title, it is actually about the world of the piano. It is the story of one woman’s life journey from France in the time of the First World War to Canada in the 1930s. Given exceptional training as a child and a young woman as both a pianist and as a piano maker for the family firm, she loses everything during the war and eventually winds up in a small town on the French Canadian shore.

When she arrives, she appears in good clothing and with a nice car but everything that she owns, besides her skills related to the piano, is packed in that car. Her pianist skills, however, are enough for the local church to take her in as a pianist and choir conductor without even checking her references and she is thrilled to have found a new and simple life. Unfortunately, the years in between her time in France and this town contain a secret that she is unable to be rid of.

The story flips back and forth between the time of her new life and the times that have passed. It shares the piano training she received as a young woman and her struggles with that business during war time; the love of a solider and the subsequent loss of that man; another man who rescues her when she needs help supporting both herself and her daughter. The journey includes time spent searching for treasures of different sorts in Indochina and Canada. It includes some uncomfortable situations as the woman recalls at trial her struggle for survival in the frozen Canadian north.

The Piano Maker is RECOMMENDED by me. As a Canadian, I loved that it is partially set in Canada. Anyone with an interest in pianos might enjoy the references to piano playing and piano making that are included in this book. As well, those from the Maritimes and those who enjoy war-time fiction might want to pick up this book.

Amazon says that readers who enjoy The Piano Maker will also like The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway and Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I have not read the first two but remember loving Sarah’s Key.

For those looking for piano-themed fiction, it turns out that there are an endless variety of books available. You might enjoy The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason (a Nobel prize winner), The Piano (which is also a movie) by Jane Campion or The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (which is set in Paris) by Thad Carhart’s. Apparently, books with the word piano in the title are a bit trendy though apparently not all include very much about the world of the piano. You can see Amazon’s collection of Piano fiction here.

You can read more about Kurt Palka’s The Piano Maker or buy it from Amazon here.

Have you read The Piano Maker or maybe any of the related books? What did you think?

See you at
the book store!

Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Piano Maker on Amazon.







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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kristin Hannah’s Home Front Book Review

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

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

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

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



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



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

Have you read either book? What did you think?

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

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

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


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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Reviewing One Man's Opus: A Survival and Preparedness Story

One Man's Opus
One Man's Opus: A Survival and Preparedness Story is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I connected with the characters, wanted to know what was happening next, and read it in a matter of three days - which is remarkable for me. Typically, I am able to read only a chapter or two each evening before nodding off. So finishing the story of Opus and friends in a matter of days is a strong statement about how this book kept me turning pages. From the opening line, I wanted to know more.
I never thought to myself, "I want to grow up to be a prepper!" It just sort of happened. -- Rick Carpenter

Opus


Opus is a fierce, furry, and professionally trained guard dog. He is loyal and highly intelligent. Is it real or imagined that he makes one sound in agreement, another in disagreement, and a third with calling baloney? I think it was not imagined. 

After reading some online reviews, I thought I was going to find a paranormal creature posing as a dog and that would have made me annoyed. But that was not the case. Opus is just a smart, well-trained dog and who has observant human parents. Dog owners who, like many of us, are able to understand the meanings of the sounds and gestures our dogs make.


Tina


Tina runs and owns the local rental storage units. She's an independent and hard-working young lady with a past. And a dog. A big, ferocious dog who would do anything to protect her. In many romances, in which the main character is male, the female needs rescued. Or is delicate. But not Tina. She is open to love but not desperate for it. She and Opus have been doing just fine. Then Rick comes along.


Rick


Rick is a romance writer and blogger. He is a benign young introvert who is happy to be living with a roommate in a small apartment. Rick is comfortable in his bedroom, spending his time writing paranormal romance novels. He started writing this genre on a dare and it was becoming a lucrative career.


I was in my late twenties, single, extremely introverted, and happy to be alone or camping somewhere by myself. That camping somewhere idea is what got me started  -- Rick Carpenter

What was interesting is that this story had every ingredient that typically makes me stop reading; politics, civil unrest, and what have become current breaking news stories. However, this setting never turned into a political campaign or a lecturing editorial. Boyd Craven III wrote in such an easy, everyday, neighborly way - as though Rick were telling the story to me - that I just kept the turning pages and reading.

One Man's Opus: A Survival and Preparedness Story is just that. A story. It is not how to write, how to blog, or how to prep. It is a peek at a day-in-the-life of Rick Carpenter as he is looking for a good writing getaway spot and unexpectedly finds love and danger.

This story echos some important messages. First, as someone who lives in an urban setting but is preparing to move to an off-grid setting, I know - as Rick learned - the grass is not always greener (or more peaceful) on the other side. Also, as his grandmother taught him, "one for you, one for me, and one for later" no matter where you live or how you prep.

As a side note, I finished reading this while snugged up in a sleeping bag in front of a wood stove while camping at The Shack. 



If you are looking for a quick and easy read, this may be the story for you. Currently listed on Amazon with 4.5 stars out of 5 (over 200 ratings) and with a price tag you cannot beat! As an Amazon Prime member, I read my Kindle copy for free!


Many More Book Reviews on Review This!


It's okay if One Man's Opus: A Survival and Preparedness Story doesn't sound like your cup of tea. The Review This! contributors are a group of readers who enjoy a wide variety of genres. Chances are you'll find a book that suits you on our pages.





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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Art of Racing in the Rain Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you at the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures by Brenda

Quick Link:

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







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

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

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






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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy Books Reviewed

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Follett FALL OF GIANTS Century Trilogy 1

Ken Follett Winter of the World Century Trilogy 2

Ken Follett Edge of Eternity Century Trilogy 3

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

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

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

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

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

See you at the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy Ken Follett's Century Trilogy books on Amazon.












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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Man Called Ove Book Review

Fredrik Backman's novel, A Man Called Ove, is a story about the grumpiest man ever. I really, really had to struggle to put Ken Follett's enthralling Fall of Giants down in order to read Ove for my next book club meeting. This problem seems to keep happening to me; that is, having to put one book down for a book club book. That's okay though. Part of the reason for joining a book club is to read books you might not have chosen on your own.

My husband, as always, was good at pushing me to the book I needed to be reading. Whenever Chris saw me with the wrong book in hand, he’d raise an eyebrow and I would reluctantly put Fall of Giants down in trade for Ove. My heart, however, was not in it. At least, not at first...

In the end, I cared. I cared about Ove and how he had come to be such a grumpy old curmudgeon. The cover suggests that reading this book will cause you to feel sympathy for the curmudgeons in your life, which might well be true but I am so very glad to say that I do not know anyone even a little bit as grumpy as Ove. He is, as Amazon says, "the bitter neighbor from hell."

Ove complains about everything. He is a strict believer that rules are meant to be followed, signs obeyed, things put in their place. If you do not feel the same way, be prepared to hear about it. He rejects most of modern technology believing computers, mobile gadgets and even modern vehicles to be bad news. He has strict routines and principles to be adhered to.

Despite Ove, or perhaps I should say because of Ove, A Man Called Ove is an entertaining book. It tells his life story and the story of the people who become his friends despite his off-putting personality. It does a good job of illustrating how one life affects the next and then the next.

Believe it or not, I would RECOMMEND this grumpy old man’s story. You will laugh and you will cry though I do remember laughing more than crying.

There were a number of surprises in this book. The one that bothered me is the age of this grumpy old man. I was jaw smacked when I finally found out how old he was and I see from other reviews online that I am not the only one who takes exception to the age that author Backman set for a grumpy old man.

If you pick up and read A Man Called Ove, be sure to come back and let us know what YOU think about Ove’s story (and about his age.) You can find it quickly and affordably priced on Amazon by clicking right here.

If you are looking for more books by Fredrik Backman, you might like to check out this review of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by another contributor here on Review This.

Stay tuned for more book reviews!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

More Book Reviews:

Steve Berry's Amber Room.
John Sandford's Extreme Prey.
The One Man by Andrew Gross.


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

Monday, April 17, 2017

Crow Lake Book Review

Crow Lake is Mary Lawson's debut novel. It immediately went to the top of Canada's best sellers lists just days after it's release. Crow Lake is described as a "deceptively simple masterpiece" and I agree with that description. The survival story of the Morrison children, Luke, Matt, Kate, and little baby Bo, is a story that will stick with me for awhile.


Crow Lake by Mary Lawson


In a remote farming community, in Ontario, families remain for generations making a living on the land. The farms pass down from generation to generation. The dating pool is slim, and the future dreams typically consist of marrying someone within the community and raising their own children.  

However, the Morrison family is celebrating - in their subdued Presbyterian farmer way - their eldest son's acceptance into teacher's college. Mr. and Mrs. Morrison drive into town in order to buy a suitcase for their eldest son's pending trip to university. Except, Luke never goes to university.

Mr. and Mrs. Morrison are killed in a tragic traffic accident, leaving distant relatives and local community members to care for Luke, Matt, Kate, and baby Bo. This story brings new meaning to the familiar phrase, "it takes a village".  Just how exactly will these four children either remain together to fend for themselves or be separated and raised by family members who have plenty of their own struggles? There are hard decisions to be made.

This is not a fast-paced dramatic thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Instead, it is a deep, and rich tapestry of sibling rivalry, family dynamics, the working out of how things should be. Survival is not always easy, but it is easier when surrounded by people who love you. From little Bo banging on the pots and pans, to the violent and volatile Pye family nearby, to Kate's summertime weeding of the neighbor's garden, we watch and wonder how things are going to turn out.


Kate Morrison


The story is told through Kate's perception - as reported in her childhood letters and her memories. As well as played out in her adult relationship with her boyfriend, Daniel. Kate idolizes her brother Matt. During the portions that Kate, the child, is relaying the story of the children's survival, it is clear how much she idolizes him and yet there are things she does not understand. Adult things. Adult things that make our idols do things we don't understand. 

As an adult, there are still things that she doesn't yet fully understand. Kate does not understand the decisions that were made and why. Kate has gone to college and has become a zoologist. She lives far from that remote farm home. She is sure about the things she examines under the microscope but she is not fully sure why she does not easily invite her boyfriend home. But Daniel has made her aware that she is a barrier to their full relationship. Kate is also not sure why it is so hard to go home. 

This story of siblings, tragedy, family, community, and redemption is a slow-building tale that comes to a satisfactory and meaningful end. Or perhaps, it is just the beginning.

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson







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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The One Man Book Review

Set in Poland in 1944, Andrew Gross’ The One Man tells the story of a man and his family rounded up and sent to a Nazi concentration camp after a failed escape attempt. Alfred Mendl carries with him his important research but that work is promptly burned on his arrival at the camp.

You have likely guessed that Mendl is not just another prisoner. It turns out that his knowledge in the realm of physics is information that only two people in the world know. The other man with this knowledge currently works for the Nazis and the Americans are desperate to gain Mendl’s knowledge so that they can win this war.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Nathan Blum works steadily away at decoding messages from occupied Poland. Previously, he had escaped the Krakow ghetto. Because his entire family was executed after his departure from home, Blum wants to reap revenge for his family and eventually agrees to go back to Poland to break INTO the concentration camp with the end goal of helping Mendl escape and bring back his physics research. Of course, breaking into a concentration camp is unheard of but getting out is really the difficult part.

This book is part historical fiction and part thriller and it is definitely a page turner. It is emotional and it will take you on a horrifying journey. I don’t think it is a spoiler if I say that I finished reading this book with tears running down my face, which is pretty unusual for me. Yes, The One Man comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me for anyone who enjoys World War II fiction and a gripping story.

Author Steve Berry says, “Haunting and thrilling…A masterful blend of family and duty laced with heroism and characters that are intriguing and richly drawn...You must read it!"  You can read more about The One Man on Amazon here.

Do you enjoy historical fiction? Will you be checking out The One Man?

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

More Book Reviews:

Steve Berry's Amber Room
John Sandford's Extreme Prey
Tarashea Nesbit's The Wives of Los Alamos 




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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hank Mossberg Private Ogre Series Reviewed

Detective Series With A Twist

ogre illustration
Ogre Illustration from Pixabay.com
Do you enjoy a good detective story? How about reading fantasy stories involving the fae? If you happen to be like me and enjoy both then I think you will enjoy the series Hank Mossberg Private Ogre by Jamie Sedgwick. You might already be familiar with Mr. Sedgwick from my previous review of another of his works.  

Imagine the present day world only with a difference. In this world we humans are also living with creatures once only found in fairy tales. In this series of books there is an entire civilization of elves, dwarfs, hobgoblins, fairies and a variety of other non-human creatures that we don't even notice. Kind of cool, right? 

The books take place in modern day San Francisco with the main character being Hank Mossberg. In the world of the fae, Hank is unique. You see he is the last of his kind. As far as he can tell he is the last living ogre. For centuries an ogre has always been selected as the Steward. A steward in the world of fae is basically the law enforcement. Since Hank is the only ogre the job has fallen upon him. One might say he was born into his position.

One of the reasons that the Steward needs to be an ogre is that the magic of the other creatures does not work on ogres. They can see through any spells, they are not stopped by enchanted weapons nor does a security shield of magic block them from entering an area. If you remember your fairy tales, ogres are huge and powerful. That is another reason that they are good for keeping the others in line.

Hank, who in my opinion, is a lovable ogre, has opted to work in both the fae community and the human community as a private detective. Humans can see Hank. Because we humans typically only see what we want to see, we see him as a large man with a slight skin condition. Remember ogres usually have a green tint to their skin.

This series involves cases where Hank needs to solve a case or two in each book. He might be working simultaneously with a fae case and a human case. I find the stories easy to read with just the right amount of mystery and a welcome touch of humor. There is a little bit of violence scattered within the stories but not so much that it is off-putting. Overall the books are an enjoyable reading experience.

I like the mingling of fantasy and reality and the creativity of the author in the fae community. As in any culture there are good people and bad people. There are rules to follow or disobey. Jamie Sedgwick has created an engaging world of plots and mysteries for us to solve as we turn the pages of the books in this series. I have certainly enjoyed following Hank, the last living ogre, as he solves the crimes presented to him. I think you might, too.



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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Now You See Her - Book Review


Available on Amazon

Domestic Fiction by Joy Fielding

Marcy Taggart's life is in shambles. She's 50 years old and her husband has left her for another woman.  Two years ago her twenty-one year old daughter, Devon, disappeared. They say Devon drowned in a canoeing accident in Canada's Georgian Bay, but her body was never found. Devastated, Marcy continues to see Devon's face in crowds and has even stopped strangers on the street, certain she has finally found her.

Marcy & her husband had originally planned to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with a trip to Ireland.  Now newly divorced, but with the planned trip already paid for, Marcy decides to take the trip anyway, hoping to heal her heartache.  Except, while visiting Cork, Marcy is certain she spots Devon walking down the street. When her daughter disappears into a crowd, she begins a desperate search to find her -- and to uncover the disturbing truth that might, in the end, be her only salvation.



Devon is dead, Marcy.”
“You’re wrong. She’s here.”

Marcy's Search for her Daughter


During her search, Marcy manages to meet two interesting men ~ one her age who is a widower on a trip to learn to cope with his grief; the other a handsome young Irishman working in a local pub.  She also has run-ins with the local police (called Garda in Ireland from the term Garda Síochána na hÉireann (Guardians of the Peace of Ireland), and seems to get herself involved in a number of strange happenings, including the possible kidnapping of a baby.  

Throughout the story we learn the background information about her ex-husband, her daughter, her bipolar mother, and her sister who has been married 5 times and thinks Marcy is crazy for going on a second honeymoon alone.  This information is presented as 'memories' and sometimes as thoughts in Marcy's head, often like dialogues of the time the events took place. 


Because of the way the book is written, you often feel as if you are Marcy, experiencing what is happening to her.  This makes Now You See Her quite a unique and interesting read.  It held my attention throughout the story.



Video Trailer for Joy Fielding's 'Now You See Her'

 



Author Joy Fielding


Joy Fielding (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Joy Fielding is a Canadian novelist and actress from Toronto, Ontario.  Born Joy Tepperman, she had a brief acting career (see her bio on Wikipedia), then gave it up to write full-time.  As a  writer, she changed her last name to Fielding (after Henry Fielding, an English novelist from the 1700s who was famous for writing Tom Jones).

Her website is JoyFielding.com which contains information about her novels and also has an interesting segment where she writes a fun-to-read monthly letter to her fans about her recent 'happenings'.  

Joy has published 27 novels since 1972, with Now Your See Her coming out in 2011.  Two of her novels have been made into movies.

Fielding's Latest Book



Available on Amazon
Her latest book published in February of 2018 is "The Bad Daughter".


A gripping thriller of  family intrigue and dark secrets.







Have You Read Any Joy Fielding Books?


I enjoyed reading Now You See Her so much that I will now be looking for Joy Fielding's other books. Have you ever read any of her stories?  If so, I'd love to hear what you thought of them. 


(c) Wednesday Elf 12/19/2016.  Updated 11/29/2018





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

Friday, September 30, 2016

Reviewing the Book, Hide in Time by Anna Faversham

Review and recommendation of the book, Hide in Time by Anna Faversham.  A riveting book that includes time travel, romance, and a very unique twist for doppelgangers exchanging places in time.
I have just finished reading the book "Hide in Time" by Anna Faversham and I can easily recommend it to anyone.  To be completely honest, I was actually surprised by how much I really liked this book.  I am not a fan of time travel books, mostly because I don't believe time travel is possible.  But, like any really good fiction is apt to do, this book caused me to "suspend reality" and embrace the plot.

Because I don't often read time travel books, the beginning was a little confusing to me, but after the first few pages, I got it!  Once the author smoothly lead me by the hand through a wall that separates the 1800's to the twenty-first century, I was hooked.  I needed to see what would happen to Laura who found herself lost in a world that was 200 years beyond her life.  

Because we can study history, I think it would be easier to go back in time, but imagine what it would be like to be cast into the world 200 years into the future.


The Book, Hide in Time by Anna Faversham 

Synopsis Written by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

 Hide in TimeAfter discovering her fiancé had been unfaithful, Laura boarded a ship to America.  She wanted to get as far away from him as possible.  She wanted a new start.  She meant to be traveling to a new world, but she had no way of knowing she would actually be traveling to a different place in time.  She knew she wouldn't know anyone in America, but she didn't expect to be clueless about fashion, jargon, idioms, and a more informal way of living.  

The shipwreck she survived changed her life forever.  When she washed up on shore, the land was the familiar, but everything else had changed.  It was to her great fortune, that Matt Redfern, the first person to actually speak to her, was always willing to help the helpless.  Since she had no memory of who she was or where she was from, he helped her get medical attention.  When she still could not "find her past", he helped her establish a new life and guided her in starting her own business.  

Five years after Laura was tossed into the future, she had found her footing there.  She was thriving, actually living.  Although she had regrets, she was content.  During the past 5 years, Laura investigated the area of her arrival and discovered the secret of time travel.  She also discovered that she was invisible when she returned to the past and it was clear her future belonged in the future.  Then she met Xandra.  

She saw so much of herself in Xandra.  They had so many things in common, even looks.  She felt she had actually found someone who would be a real friend.  Someone who could understand her unique ways and would like her because of them.  Laura hoped Xandra could be the sister she had never had, or at least believed she had never had.   However, when Xandra found herself on a murderer's hit list, she needed a safe haven and Laura had the answer.  She sent Xandra back in time.

As this point the book is divided in chapters where the reader is following two stories.  Laura in the future and Xandra in the past.  A truly fascinating exchange of lives.  It was a very interesting twist to doppelgangers trading places and I really, really liked it a lot.  So much so, I plan to read it again!  I feel like I may have missed some hidden nuggets in the story.


My Recommendation of the Book, "Hide in Time"


When I think about it carefully, I know there were several reasons why I really liked this book and why I would highly recommend it to anyone.

First, it shows us that we can completely change the course of our own lives when needed and find happiness in a new place.  It might take some time to readjust, but we can survive and adapt to new surroundings and people.

Second, it highlights how people are basically the same today as they were hundreds of years ago.   Evil still abounds and good people still exist to maintain the balance that is our world.

And, last but by no means least, I like the concept about time travel in "Hide in Time".  You can't go back!  Once you have crossed into a different place in time, you can't return and just pick up where you left off.  Yes, Laura returns, but she cannot be seen.  She can whisper to the living and they hear her, but they believe she is what most of us would think of as a "ghost".  

As I said at the beginning of this article, I don't believe in time travel, but if there were such a thing, it would have to be in a way that everyone traveling in time couldn't constantly be changing the future by visiting the past, literally. 


More Books By Anna Faversham

Now that I have discovered the author, Anna Faversham, I will be reading more of her books!
 


Read More Book Reviews On ReviewThisBooks.com



Book Review of "Hide in Time" Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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