Thursday, February 28, 2019

Books from the Backlog - The Lilac Bus

Today I'm linking up with Carole from Carole's Random Life of Books for Books from the Backlog.  I really enjoy the chance to feature a book that's been hiding in the piles of books for far too long!  This week's book is one I dug out of the bottom of a box when looking for books set in Ireland - The Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy.

Blurb: Each Friday, Tom Fitzgerald drives the same people home from Dublin to spend the weekend in Rathdoon. Nancy, Dee, Kev and Celia - each has their own secret story, unknown to their fellow passengers. And of course Tom himself has his own reasons for returning home so regularly...
Once again, Maeve Binchy has conjured up a cast of very human characters with real joys and real sadnesses, portrayed with her trademark wit, compassion and warmth.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf: I read a much more recent book by Binchy (A Week in Winter - I think it might have been her last book) that I loved and have been meaning to read more.  This sounds wonderful as well.

Have you read this one?  Or any Maeve Binchy?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Nora Roberts' InnBoonsboro Trilogy - Contemporary Romance Review

The InnBoonsboro trilogy is a fun contemporary romance trilogy that involves three brothers who are renovating an old historic house into a dream inn.  There's a ghost story and all kinds of quirky characters to help round out the books. 

Goodreads: The Next Always -
 I read this series soon after I came out and remember I enjoyed it and that there was a ghost but that was about it.  I decided it was time for a reread and I was not disappointed!  Beckett and Clare are a great couple.  They knew each other in high school but while Beckett had a crush on her they don't really have a history.  I'm always a little iffy when a romance revolves around feelings from the teenage years and while there are mentions of Beckett's feelings it didn't really feel like that which I really appreciated.  Beckett is a fairly typical Nora Roberts hero.  He's tall and gorgeous and very capable.  He's also incredibly kind and protective and great with kids.  Clare is a little more unusual.  She's had some trauma with losing her husband but she doesn't have any real baggage.  The conflict between them felt fairly realistic as they're trying to get used to being a couple.  There's a bit of suspense with a fairly typical Roberts villain.  I didn't feel like it was necessary but it did lead to a nice moment with the ghost so I'm good with it!  This was a fun reread that pulled me in from the start and made me want to continue with the trilogy.

Goodreads: The Last Boyfriend -

Impulsive yet driven Avery is about as different from cool collected Clare from the previous book as she could possibly be but I couldn't help but love her.  She's impulsive but not stupid with it.  She's emotional but still fairly controlled and has some trauma that she really doesn't want to talk about.  Owen is the king of all lists and organization.  He loves schedules and plans and leaves Post-Its everywhere.  They have a history together but while Avery always had a crush on Owen there was never really any romance due to their age difference (it's like 5 years so not a big deal for adults but is for kids and teenagers).  There isn't suspense like there was in the first book but there is a bit of conflict and there's a big helping of ghost which I really enjoyed.  This definitely didn't suffer from 2nd book troubles and had both a satisfying relationship and moved other storylines along nicely.

Goodreads: The Perfect Hope - I don't always love the third book in Nora Roberts trilogies but this is an exception.  Really as a whole this trilogy is incredibly consistent and each book is a fun read and each relationship is believable.  Hope and Ryder have a bit of a rockier start than the previous two books.  They don't have a history together and while they're attracted to each other from the start they don't particularly like each other.  It was fun to watch the relationship develop between them even though at times they were unaware of just what was happening.  I really liked how they learned to communicate with each other and made their peace with what was happening between them.  The conclusion to the ghost plot was a bit trite but enjoyable.

As Nora Roberts books go this was a very enjoyable trilogy with likable characters and a gorgeous setting.  If you like a bit of ghostly presence in your romances with a dash of history and a heaping scoop of family than this a trilogy you really should read.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Places Mentioned in Books That I'd Like to Visit

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl is Places Mentioned in Books That I'd Like to Visit.  I do a lot of vicarious traveling through my reading and there are several places that have been firmly placed on my To Visit list thanks to books. 

1.  Cornwall (inspired by The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher) - I know Lawrence Stern's gallery doesn't really exist but I want to see the cliffs and the pathways and the steep stairs so lovingly described by Pilcher.

2.  Prince Edward Island (inspired by Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery) - Anne's love of the Island shines so brightly throughout the whole series that it's impossible not to want to visit it. 

3.  Salem, Massachusetts (inspired by the Witch City Mysteries series by Carol J. Perry) - Salem, MA is one of those places that I always think of in historical context so this mystery which takes place in modern day Salem around people just living their everyday lives (with a pretty decent helping of murder) makes me want to add it to my To Visit list.

4.  Charleston, SC (inspired by the Liz Talbot Mystery series by Susan M. Boyer and The Teashop Mysteries by Laura Childs) in both of these mystery series the city of Charleston is a character unto itself.  I have visited it before but it's been far too long and I want to go back!

5.  New Orleans, LA (inspired by Phantom Evil by Heather Graham) - I have family near New Orleans and have been multiple times but it's been awhile and this book made me remember just why I loved the city so much with all it's legends and characters.

6.  Ireland (basically any Nora Roberts book set in Ireland) Ireland would be on my To Visit list anyone but Roberts has really sold me on it.  I'm assuming it's full of gorgeous people with stunning voices and an easy smile.  Granted my family is Irish and none of can sing and we are not what one would call relaxed as a whole but I'm assuming that's because of the couple of generations spend in the States. 

7.  Devon, England (inspired by Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie) - There's beaches and islands and caves and coves.  And murder but I'm going to assume that's not a regular thing.

8.  Fort Meyers, FL (inspired by Caught Read-Handed by Terry Farley Moran) - So I really just want the cafe/bookstore to exist because I want to eat at one of the author themed table and order off the book themed menu.  I've been to the area often enough and it's fine and the beaches are great but I really want to cafe.

9.  Boonsboro, Maryland (inspired by the InnBoonsboro series by Nora Roberts) - I just reread the trilogy by Nora Roberts and discovered that InnBoonsboro really does exist.  Staying in one of the rooms is now high up on my list.

10.  84 Charing Cross Road in London (inspired by 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff) - I know the bookstore isn't there anymore but apparently there is a restaurant and a plaque so I still feel like it'd be worth a visit.

Where do you want to visit because of a book?

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Sisters Hemingway - Fiction Review

Goodreads: The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Edelweiss

Description:  The Hemingway Sisters of Cold River, Missouri are local legends. Raised by a mother obsessed with Ernest Hemingway, they were named after the author’s four wives—Hadley, Pfeiffer, Martha, and Mary. The sisters couldn’t be more different—or more alike. Now they’re back in town, reunited to repair their fractured relationships.
Hadley is the poised, polished wife of a senator.

Pfeiffer is a successful New York book editor.

Martha has skyrocketed to Nashville stardom.

They each have a secret—a marriage on the rocks, a job lost, a stint in rehab…and they haven’t been together in years.

Together, they must stay in their childhood home, faced with a puzzle that may affect all their futures. As they learn the truth of what happened to their mother—and their youngest sister, Mary—they rekindle the bonds they had as children, bonds that have long seemed broken. With the help of neighbors, friends, love interests old and new—and one endearing and determined Basset Hound—the Sisters Hemingway learn that the happiness that has appeared so elusive may be right here at home, waiting to be claimed.

Genre:  Fiction
 Why I Picked This Book:  I love books about sisterly relationships and anything about someone coming home.

My Impression:  I don't know what it is about sisters inheriting a falling down house and being forced to deal with it that gets me every time but it most definitely does and this was no exception.    All three sisters had endured more than their share of misery and misfortune both in their current life and in their past.  Not only do the sisters have to make peace with the past but they also have to deal with their present and figure out just what secrets the old farmhouse is hiding. 

This reminded me a little bit of  Karen White's Dreams of Falling with dysfunction on top of dysfunction.  It was a bit lighter and somewhat more predictable than that book but it had a similar feel.  I also found this one to be a much faster read.  I did get frustrated with how secretive the sisters were regarding the present life.  Life would have been so much easier if they had just talked to each other!  Or at least admitted some big picture stuff.  However, this is one of my pet peeves and I spend quite a lot of time yelling at lots of books for this so I can't really hold it against this one. 

Small hiccups aside I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was one of those that I felt pulled into the moment I picked it up and I could always justify just one more chapter.  The sisters weren't always likable but they were frequently funny and always sympathetic.  I enjoyed spending this time with them and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I really enjoyed this author's writing style as well as the characters she created.  I'll be looking for more books from this author.

Would I Recommend this Book? Definitely!  If you enjoy fiction with complicated relationships and lots of family secrets this is a must read.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Saturday, February 23, 2019

This Week in Reading - February 24

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Mrs. Jeffries Delivers the Goods by Emily Brightwell - I loved the previous Mrs. Jeffries mystery and am super excited to continue with the series.  (Publisher)

The Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery - I've been wanting to read this one for awhile so I couldn't resist picking it up.  (Used Bookstore)

A Whisker of Trouble by Sofie Ryan - I like this series and haven't read this one.  (Used Bookstore)

Silent Killer by Beverly Barton - No idea why this one ended up in my bag but the cover was spooky and I'm on a romantic suspense kick at the moment.  (Used Bookstore)

The Blue Last by Martha Grimes - I used to love the Richard Jury series and this is either one I haven't read or don't remember.  (Used Bookstore)

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters - Audible is having a sale on first books in a series and this is one I've been wanting to reread.  (Audible)

Heart of Evil by Heather Graham - Not the first in a series but I had a credit and I enjoyed listening to the first book and I've loved the later ones.  (Audible)

Second Sight by Amanda Quick - Another first book in the series and another series I've been wanting to read for awhile.  (Audible)


Reading:   Flowers in the Rain by Rosamunde Pilcher and Old Bones by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Listening:  I tried The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware again and ended up DNFing it for now.  It's good but I'm just not feeling it right now.  I switched to Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts which is a little silly but a lot of fun.

Watching:  I watched Chronicle Mysteries on Hallmark and really enjoyed it!  

Off the Blog:

It's been a crazy week here with constant raining.  I have no idea how many inches we've gotten because the rain gauge has overflowed but given that all the rivers and creeks are seriously overflowing I'm guessing it's a lot.  Several nearby school districts have cancelled school because so many roads are flooded.  It's crazy but it does look like it's going to stop raining soon.  There are rumors that the sun may come out but I'll believe it when I see it.

I went bookstore shopping and had a wonderful time.  As you can see above I found a few treasures.  The Tornado had a birthday party at a skating rink this week which is officially my least favorite kind of birthday party.  I didn't like skating as a kid and it turns out I don't like having to sit through the parties as an adult!  I'm always a bit in awe of those people who can just effortlessly skate around with no problems!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Sisters Hemingway - Fiction Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Places Mentioned in Books That I'd Like to Visit
Wednesday: TBD
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

My Favorite Books by Rosamunde Pilcher

I was so saddened to see of Rosamunde Pilcher's death earlier this month.  Rosamunde Pilcher's book The Shell Seekers was easily my favorite book throughout my teens and twenties.  I read the copy I found on my mother's bookshelf until it fell apart, bought a new copy and read it until it fell apart, and then replaced it one more time.  I still have that copy though it's looking worse for wear.  She was the first "grown up" author that I read and I loved her books.  Every time I read one of them I discover something new, connect to something different, and find a different special moment.  Here are a few of my favorites.

The Shell Seekers - Like I said before I read this book time after time.  I loved Antonia and Olivia and Doris but most of all always Penelope.  This was the book that put Cornwall on my must visit list and really brought alive the homefront during World War II.  I've also read the sequel(ish), September which I also very much enjoyed though doesn't have quite the same magic.

Coming Home - This was the first audio book I ever listened to and what a saga it was!  I stayed up far too late listening to all of Judith's trials and tribulations.  I've been wanting to reread this one though the page count does keep scaring me off.

The Blue Bedroom and Flowers in the Rain - These are both short story collections and lean a little to the sweet side but they're so lovely and sweet and heartfelt.

The End of Summer - This is fairly short book about a young woman living in the US who has romanticized her childhood years spent at the family estate in Scotland as well as her daring and handsome cousin.  I do have some issues with the whole cousin romantic thing but so far I've been able to get past that.

And as an extra The World of Rosamunde Pilcher.  This has photographs of all the settings of the books along with quotes from different books.  It's an absolute delight if you've enjoyed any of Pilcher's books

These are some wonderful reads and are especially poignant now that Pilcher is no longer with us.  However, I'm so glad that I will always have a shelf full of her books for me to revisit the worlds and the characters she created any time I want.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Fives - Five Things I'm Loving in Fiction Right Now

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  Michelle over at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life   used to do a Five on Fridays that I always enjoyed and I've seen a few other variations on the theme.  As well I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd give start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  This week is on the bookish side and I'm taking a look at Five Things I'm Loving in Fiction - aka what will get a book moved up to the top of the TBR at right now.

1.  Family History/Genealogy - Oh so you're looking into someone's family history and discover a mystery?  Better yet, you're a professional genealogist and looking into someone's family tree has suddenly caused break ins in your office and all kinds of mayhem?  Yes please!  To the top of the pile you go.

2.  Antiques - I don't care if you're buying antiques, selling antiques, or restoring antiques any book that has a character involved in some element of the antique business has me on board.

3.  Suspense with a dash of romance - I have been flying through the romantic suspense so far this year.  I like it to be heavier on the suspense than the romance but other than that I'm not picky.

4.  Missing Persons Mysteries - I love a missing persons case but only if the person missing is an adult.  I'm reading one right now and absolutely loving it.

5.  Books Set in the 1920s - It doesn't matter if it's romance, mystery, or fiction but if it's set in the 1920s I'm going to be reading it!

What are some themes you're loving at the moment?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Past Due For Murder - Cozy Mystery Reivew

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Spring has sprung in quaint Taylorsford, Virginia, and the mayor has revived the town’s long-defunct May Day celebration to boost tourism. As part of the festivities, library director Amy Webber is helping to organize a research project and presentation by a local folklore expert. All seems well at first―but spring takes on a sudden chill when a university student inexplicably vanishes during a bonfire.

The local police cast a wide net to find the missing woman, but in a shocking turn of events, Amy’s swoon-worthy neighbor Richard Muir becomes a person of interest in the case. Not only is Richard the woman’s dance instructor, he also doesn’t have an alibi for the night the student vanished―or at least not one he’ll divulge, even to Amy.

When the missing student is finally discovered lost in the mountains, with no memory of recent events―and a dead body lying nearby―an already disturbing mystery takes on a sinister new hue. Blessed with her innate curiosity and a librarian’s gift for research, Amy may be the only one who can learn the truth.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the first two books in this series so I had to read this one!

My Impression:  This book had two of my favorite things - a librarian main character and a missing persons case.   I especially enjoyed the folklore angle to this one with all the old stories and legends.  I've always liked the history element of this series and this really made that extra special.  I enjoyed catching up with Amy and Sunny and the rest of the regulars of Taylorsford.  I also thought it was kind of nice to see Richard in a role other than the very perfect boyfriend though I'm sure Amy didn't find it so!

The mystery as usual kept me entertained.  Though it takes a bit for the first murder victim to make an appearance it was clear from the very first chapter that something was most decidedly amiss. It was fun to puzzle everything else from the "huh something doesn't seem right" all the way up to the "something has gone catastrophically wrong".  I was hooked from the beginning to the end and thoroughly enjoyed figuring out the whos and the whys along with Amy.

If you're looking for a fun cozy with a little bit of history and characters you want to be freinds with this is a great choice.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  Gilbert is quickly becoming one of my favorite cozy mystery authors.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  This entire series has been really great.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Classic Movies I'm Watching - Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

Setting: New York City and the Connecticut countryside

Jim Blandings - Cary Grant
Muriel Blandings - Myrna Loy
Bill Cole - Melvyn Douglas

Premise:  Jim Blandings has a successful career in advertising, a happy family and a way too small apartment in the City.  When a chance conversation at breakfast tempts him into a drive in the Connecticut countryside his life starts spinning out of control.

My Thoughts:  This was a lot of fun.  It's more straight comedy than the over the top almost farce comedies that Grant specializes in.  Anyone who have ever been involved in home buying, building or repair will relate to some of the mayhem and hijinks that occur.  As well the 1940s costs are very entertaining.  Loy and Grant are gorgeous together and Melvyn Douglas's omnipresent narration in the character of family friend and lawyer is hilarious.

Recommend It?  Absolutely!  This is a fun comedy that isn't over the top ridiculous.  It confirms my belief that Cary Grant can do no wrong.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday Ten Books I Love That Deserve More Love

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is all about favorite books that deserve more attention aka - Ten Books I LOVE with Fewer Than 2000 Goodreads Ratings.  

1.  Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets by Rosemary Simpson (160 Ratings) - I don't know why this historical mystery series hasn't gotten more attention.  It has strong and interesting characters, a setting with lots of possibilities and intriguing mysteries.  

2.  A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes (247 Ratings) - I love this cozy mystery series set in a town full of curio shops.  The heroine owns a shop that specializes in music boxes and I find myself in need of a music box collection. 

3.  A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert  (1,273 Ratings) - I love this cozy mystery series involving a librarian living in a little town in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a gorgeous old Victorian.  

4.  Booked 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton (374 Ratings) - Another cozy mystery series and another series that should have more attention.  This one is super quirky involving a PI firm and a retirement community in Arizona.  It's lots of fun with characters I want to hang out with and unique mysteries.

5.  The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart (983 Ratings) - This was one of my favorite books in 2017 and I really think this first book in a trilogy about three sisters who discover that they are sisters and that their father left them a rather odd inheritance.  I've got the 3rd book coming up on my TBR soon and I'm so excited!

6.  Death Overdue by Allison Brook (1,085 Ratings) - This is a cozy mystery series involving a haunted library.  A haunted library!

7.  City of Lies by Victoria Thompson (1,236 Ratings) - This got a little wrongly billed as a mystery.  It is a mystery but it's not a typical murder mystery and the real focus is on the women's suffrage movement in the first quarter of the 1920s.  I really enjoyed it and the second book was a great read too.

8.  The Case of William Smith by Patricia Wentworth (711 Ratings) - I love Patricia Wentworth and this is one of my favorites.  I think her mysteries are incredibly overlooked and they're always enjoyable.

9.  House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels (1,820 Ratings) - I have no idea how many times I've reread this Gothic-y Romantic Suspense more times than I can count and it's always lots of fun with ghosts and old secrets and old houses stuffed to the brim.

10. Love From Boy: Roald Dahl's Letters to His Mother by Donald Sturrock (425 Ratings) This is another one that really should get more love.  Not only are the letters incredibly sweet and humorous but Sturrock does a great job providing context to the letters.

What books do you love that deserve more attention?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Ramblings from the Stacks - Reading from the Backlos

Todays ramblings are inspired by two things.  The first is this fun feature that Carole over at Carole's Random Life in Books hosts called Books from the Backlog as well as a question from Book Blogger Hop which is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer about taking a blogging break.

Lately, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I've been focusing on all the new shiny books and ignoring the ones that have been sitting there on my shelf for years.  A few weeks ago I started one of those projects that starts out small and quickly spirals out of control involving the boxes and boxes of books.  First I was just looking for a specific few and then I decided that this was the perfect time to sort through them and get rid of all the ones I was sure I'd no longer be interested in reading.  I'm guessing you can see what went terribly wrong?  Once I started sorted and reading the blurbs and looking at all the pretty covers I discovered all of these books were ones I still really wanted to read!  I think out of the literally hundreds of books I got rid of maybe 3 or 4.

I've never been a minimalist and never really had a problem with having a massive TBR however, I'm starting to feel like it has gotten a bit out of control.  Am I even reading the books I really want to read anymore or am I just getting distracted by the shiny new ones?  I want all of them.  I want all the review books and all the books that appeal to me at the library and all the ones hiding in boxes in the spare room and I want to start revisiting bookstores.  How do I find the balance of all of these and get back to feeling like I'm reasonably in control again?

How do you balance reading the new books and reading books from the backlog?

Saturday, February 16, 2019

This Week in Reading - February 17

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Broken Bone China by Laura Childs -I've really enjoyed this cozy mystery series set in Charleston, SC in a tea shop and couldn't resist this newest book.  Plus I love the tea party look of the cover!  (Publisher)


Reading:  Echoes of Evil by Heather Graham and I'm beginning to see why it's getting mixed reviews and Past Due for Murder by Victoria Gilbert

Listening:  I'm finishing up The Secret Sister by Jayne Ann Krentz and am going to give The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware another chance

Watching:  I overdosed a bit on true crime so I've watching Finding Your Roots on PBS and might start some Hallmark Mysteries soon.  

Off the Blog:

I've had a bit of insomnia the past week which is annoying as I've been exhausted and could really use the sleep.  Why is it that when you're trying to sleep your brain starts replaying the most unhelpful stuff?  I've been getting the scariest moments of The Haunting of Hill House on repeat at 1AM.   We watched the show almost two months ago but for some reason I'm reliving the whole Bent Neck Woman scene on repeat.  I guess it's better than all the embarrassing moments from high school but not by much.  Does anyone else do this?  Just me?

It's a 3 day weekend for us and I'm so looking forward to sleeping later tomorrow.  It's been a fairly rainy weekend and J has to go to work so I'm thinking the Tornado and I are going to have a seriously low key day.  I've been working on cleaning out the room that was once Emma's and then turned into a storage room but eventually is going to be my reading room and office.  There's so much work to be done but I've got the office part somewhat usable and I've been really enjoying it and just the possibilities.  It's going to be really fun when I get to the filling bookcases and decorating part.  I'm already having a good time thinking about it and it's months off.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Reading from the Backlog
Tuesday:  Books I LOVED with Fewer Than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads
Wednesday: Classic Movie Time 
Thursday: TBD
Friday:  The Friday Five 
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

The Seven Sisters - Fiction Review

Rating: Good
Source: Library

Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.

Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela—passionate and longing to see the world—convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.

In this sweeping, epic tale of love and loss—the first in a unique, spellbinding series of seven novels—Lucinda Riley showcases her storytelling talent like never before.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:
  This book was on my TBR the minute I heard about it.  I love the concept of everything this book and this series.  

My Impression: 
I know essentially nothing about Brazil other than the giant statue of Christ resides there and they have carnival.  I can pick the country out on a map.  And that about sums it up.  To be honest it never really occurred to me to learn more until I reading this book.  The premise of this book is a bit of a stretch where a single wealthy man adopts 6 infant girls for what seems to be a motive known only to him.  After his death he gives each girl what she needs to discover where she came from.

This is a dual timeline with a large chunk of the book taking place in Brazil and Paris in the late 1920s and the other part set in modern day Brazil.  I loved the 1920s timeline.  The culture was fascinating as what the character Bel who was torn between what made her happy and doing what she was supposed to do.  The emotions were so strong here that at times it was difficult to read and I had such empathy for Bel.  The history of the iconic statue was fascinating and the amount of work to create it was so enormous that I have a whole new appreciation for it.

The modern day story compelled me a little less.  While I love the premise of a woman trying to figure out where she really came from at times the story felt flat - especially compared with the other story.  I think the main reason is because of Maia herself.  She's so controlled and guarded it was somewhat difficult to become invested in her as much as I wanted to do so.  Her reasons for being so do make some sense but I would really loved her character to be explored and fleshed out a bit more.

I love the concept of this book a bit more than I loved the actual execution.  While it was enjoyable I felt like I wanted a bit more - especially when it came to the present day timeline.  However, I'm really looking forward to continuing with the series.  I'm hoping I'll connect more with the next sister.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  I would but I think I'm going the audio route for the next book.  

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy historical fiction and don't mind a dual timeline than I think you would enjoy this book.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Linkups - Echoes of Evil

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Have you ever thought about taking a break from blogging?  If you have, how long was your break and what did you learn from it?

My Answer:
I actually haven't taken a break in the 5 years I've been blogging and haven't really felt the desire to do so.  I do have the desire to take a step back from review books - or at least cut down on the quantity of review books - and am working on that.

This week's book is the final in a trilogy that I've been meaning to get to since it was published this fall.  This trilogy is actually part of Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters series that is kind of a paranormal romantic suspense.  I've read the first two and really enjoyed them so I just have Echoes of Evil to go (and a whole bunch more of the series but we're not going to talk about that right now).  I've heard some mixed reviews on this one but since I typically find a not so great Heather Graham book enjoyable if not memorable I'm feeling okay about it.

The Beginning:
The rhythmic sound of his own breathing through his regulator was, to Brodie McFadden, the sweetest music; there simply was nothing like diving.

My Thoughts:
It sounds horribly claustrophobic to me but more power to him.

The 56:
Of course, the second she saw Kody, tears formed in her eyes and she hugged Kody fiercely.

My Thoughts:
Not the most dramatic of lines but it sounds like something rather terrible has happened.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Governess Gone Rogue - Historical Romance Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Edelweiss

  Dear Lady Truelove...

My twin brother and I need a new mother, though Papa insists he'll never marry again. Must be nice, brainy, and fond of cats...

Lady Truelove may be London's most famous advice columnist, but James St. Clair, the Earl of Kenyon, knows his wild young sons need a tutor, not a new mother. They need a man tough enough to make his hellions tow the line, and James is determined to find one.

Miss Amanda Leighton, former schoolteacher and governess, knows she has all the qualifications to be a tutor. And while female tutors are unheard of, Amanda isn't about to lose the chance at her dream job because of pesky details like that. If Lord Kenyon insists on hiring a man, then she has only one option.

Jamie isn't sure what to make of his new employee, until he realizes the shocking truth—beneath the ill-fitting suits, his boys' tutor is a woman. An unconventional, outspoken, thoroughly intriguing woman. Despite Amanda's deception, he can't dismiss her when his boys are learning so much. Yet Jamie, too, is learning surprising lessons—about desire, seduction, and passionate second chances.

Genre: Romance - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:
Laura Lee Guhrke has written some of my favorite historical romances but it's been awhile since I've read anything by her so I had to pick this one up!

My Impression:
  One of my least favorite things in a romance is a relationship that is based on a lie/hidden identity so I was a bit nervous going into this one.  However, I decided to trust Guhrke and take a chance on this one and am so glad I did!  Amanda is very different from the usual romance heroine.  She's on her own and while highly educated is not from an aristocratic or particularly wealthy background.  She's ruined after a choice which she deeply regrets and is not only not welcomed by society but is finding it increasingly difficult to get a job.  The fact that she starts dressing up as a man isn't for nefarious purposes or to trick anyone about her abilities but simply out of necessity.  I really enjoyed that it isn't all that simple for Amanda to become a man.  She has a lifetime of habits that she has to overcome and there are a number of practical issues as well which I don't think I've ever seen addressed in this kind of book.

Jamie isn't the typical hero either.  For one thing his marriage was incredibly happy and he dearly misses his wife.  He was more than a little rebellious as a child and has made a complete change as an adult.  He's active in politics and while he does have a title he actually has to go to work or put in effort.  As well, while he loves his children he's not always great at showing them and seems at a loss at how to be involved in their lives which I think is probably more realistic than the typical doting and involved dad we frequently see portrayed.

If you're looking for a steamy romance look elsewhere.  The romance doesn't even start until more than halfway through the book.  However, there's lots going on.  Amanda is getting to know the boys and is getting used to the big changes in her life.  Jamie is still trying to regain his footing after the death of his wife.  They're both trying to do their best for the boys and are learning to work together.

This was an entertaining read with characters that are both likable and sympathetic.  I absolutely flew through it and finished the last page with a happy contented sigh.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  While I'm behind on her books Laura Lee Guhrke is definitely an auto buy for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you like historical romances that are a bit different from the usual than this is a must read.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Romances I Want to Read in 2019

In honor of Valentine's Day I'm focusing on romances.  In the last few years while I still read romance it's definitely taken a bit of a backseat to mysteries and thrillers.  Here are a few that have been gathering dust on my TBR that I'm still looking forward to reading.  

1.  Starlight Bridge by Debbie Mason - Debbie Mason is an author I've been wanting to read - all of her covers are so pretty!  This one involves an old house and secrets which are some of my favorite things.

2.  Sail Away with Me by Susan Fox - I don't know much about this one but the cover grabbed me and it sounds like a fun read.

3.  The Pleasure of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries - Sabrina Jeffries is one of my absolute favorite historical romance authors and for some reason this one is sitting around unread.

4.  Deadly Fate by Heather Graham - I love Graham's Krewe of Hunters series and while this trilogy isn't the strongest it does feature ghosts which is my favorite thing.

5.  Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis - Shalvis is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors and the Lucky Harbors series is one of my absolute favorites but I never read this start to the trilogy she wrote afterwards.

6.  The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick - I love historical romances and this one is set in the 1930s which really appeals to me.  Plus I do love romantic suspense and Jayne Ann Kretnz/Amanda Quick is one of my favorites.

7.  Wilde in Love (The Wildes Lindow Castle #1) by Eloisa James - James is an author I always mean to read more of but somehow never have.  I don't know much about this series but it seems like a good place to stop.

8.  Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas - Devil in Winter is one of my absolute favorite romances and this is about the child of that couple.  It went immediately on my TBR as soon as I first heard it was being published but somehow I still haven't gotten around to it.

9.  The Trouble with Dukes by Grace Burrowes - I know very little about this author or this series but I need to find some new historical romance authors and this book looks like a good place to start.

10. About a Dog by Jenn McKinlay - McKinlay writes some of my favorite cozy mysteries and I read one of the more recent books in this romance series and absolutely loved it.  This looks like a lot of fun.

Do you have any romances sitting on your TBR?