Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Engagement Party By: Kimberly Freeman

The Engagement Party
By: Kimberly Freeman

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Published: August 2014
Published by: Hachette Australia
Format Read: Kindle, eBook
Genre: Historical fiction, short story

Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis

Flora Honeychurch-Black awakens on the day of her engagement party excited yet somehow unsettled. Throughout the day, despite the well-meaning attention of her friend Liberty and the distraction of the household’s many preparations for the night’s celebration, Flora’s unease grows. Her much-loved, erratic brother Sam unwittingly adds to the tension, behaving oddly and drawing mirth from her suave fiance Tony and derision from some of his sophisticated coterie of friends.
As the storm clouds gather outside and the engagement party begins, Flora realises that something is amiss. Where is Sam? What secret is he hiding? The answers may be more than Flora – and her new relationships and loyalties – can bear.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

1920’s Australia: Readers are introduced to Flora, a young woman on the day of her engagement party. However she is uneasy and fights with the thought that she might be making the wrong decision to marry her fiancé Tony. As the party is in progress, Flora realizes that her beloved brother Sam is missing from the festivities.

I thought this short story was a good introduction to Kimberly Freeman’s writing. I’m unsure how necessary this was but I did enjoy it and the characters we were briefly introduced to. However it left me wanting more.

This eBook also included a sample of another book by Kimberly Freeman, called Evergreen Falls. This is a dual time period historical fiction that follows Flora and Tony. So that would make The Engagement Party a prequal to this novel. I’m curious to know why that isn’t mentioned in this book title? To be honest. I found this to be annoying.

Would I recommend Kimberly Freeman’s The Engagement Party? Yes, but only to those who plan to continue on to read Evergreen Falls.

Additional Notes

Evergreen Falls
By: Kimberly Freeman

20806819

Synopsis

A long-forgotten secret, a scandalous attraction and a place where two women’s lives are changed forever – Evergreen Falls is the captivating new novel from Kimberley Freeman.

1926: Violet Armstrong is one of the few remaining members of staff working at the grand Evergreen Spa Hotel as it closes down over winter. Only a handful of guests are left, including the heir to a rich grazing family, his sister and her suave suitor. When a snowstorm moves in, the hotel is cut off and they are all trapped. No one could have predicted what would unfold. When the storm clears they must all keep the devastating secrets hidden.

2014: After years of putting her sick brother’s needs before her own, Lauren Beck leaves her home and takes a job at a Blue Mountains cafe, the first stage of the Evergreen Spa Hotel’s renovations. There she meets Tomas, the Danish architect who is overseeing the project, and an attraction begins to grow. In a wing of the old hotel, Lauren finds a series of passionate love letters dated back to 1926, alluding to an affair – and a shocking secret.

If she can unravel this long-ago mystery, will it make Lauren brave enough to take a risk and change everything in her own life?

Inspired by elements of her grandmother’s life, a rich and satisfying tale of intrigue, heartbreak and love from the author of the bestselling Lighthouse Bay and Wildflower Hill.

Source: Goodreads
Books Hauls

Additional May 2020 Book Haul

Here are more books that I added to my collection during the month of May.

Sent for Review

A Scandal in Bohemia (The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection 11) by Arthur Conan Doyle, Adapted by Stephanie Baudet

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We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

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Additional Audible Downloads

Summer Island by Kristin Hannah

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The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

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Book Reviews

Bundle of Trouble (Maternal Instincts Mystery, 1) by Diana Orgain

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Bundle of Trouble
(Maternal Instincts Mystery, 1)
By: Diana Orgain

Published: July 2015
Published by: Kindle Edition
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Series
Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis


From Publishers Weekly

In Orgain’s charming debut thriller, office manager Kate Connolly becomes a supersleuth and a new mom in the same week. From the moment she and newborn Laurie lock eyes, Kate can’t imagine returning to work after her six-week maternity leave, but in expensive San Francisco, she and her ad exec husband, Jim, need every bit of both incomes. Then a dead body is fished out of the bay and linked to Jim’s estranged brother, George. Both the police and PI Albert Galigani, hired by the dead man’s mother, believe that Jim and Kate know more than they’re revealing. Kate is determined to find the elusive George and get some answers, but she soon gets in over her head. Galigani serves as a charming mentor as Kate navigates the twists of motherhood and an uncomplicated but engaging plot. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Bundle of Trouble is the first book in the cozy mystery series Maternal Instincts by Diana Orgain. It follows new mom Kate, as she uses her maternity leave to investigate a murder that is connected to her brother in-law George. I was initially attracted to this novel as I am both a mystery fan and a first-time Mom. I was eager to see how the author would pair the two.

Overall the plot was enjoyable and quick to read. However there were some inconsistencies and less than smooth transitions from one part to another, which prevented me from giving this book a higher rating. I have yet to decide if I will continue with the series.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

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What You Wish For
By: Katherine Center

To Be Published: July 2020
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Format Read: ARC, NetGalley, eBook, Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of Katherine Center’s What You Wish For, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

From Katherine Center, the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel full of heart and hope.
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.
When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Samantha Casey has finally found a home for herself with a job as a librarian at a Galveston Texas independent school. Then her life is turned upside down after the death of her mentor and the arrival of a man from her past. Fans of Katherine Center may already by familiar with the male lead; Duncan Carpenter, as he was a minor character in the book Happiness for Beginners.

I began What You Wish For expecting this to be more of a literary fiction. So I was surprised to be introduced to such a quirky main character. I wasn’t sure if I liked Samantha or which genre this book would fall into. But I knew that I liked the current writing style and was eager to see how the plot played out.

I appreciated how just when a situation was about to get too cheesy, it was shut down. and sent in a different direction. But for all Samantha Casey’s quirkiness, What You Wish For, actually touches on some very serious topics. In fact, I would advise caution to those who are sensitive to tragedies and medical issues. One topic of social commentary this book touched on is the importance of good teachers and a positive educational experience. This is especially important during this time of homeschooling during a global pandemic.

Although I found sections to drag on, there were so many points that really spoke to me. In fact there were several passages I marked and read over and over again. I had a profound reading experience, which is why despite some grievances I gave this book 5 stars.

What You Wish For is a story of coping with tragedy and finding joy in life, which really resonated with me. I would highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading more from Katherine Center.

Favourite Quotes

“It’s one of the secrets to life that no one ever tell you. Joy cures everything.”

“It’s a choice,” I went on, feeling like I needed to make him see. “A choice to value the good things that matter. A choice to rise above everything that could pull you down. A choice to look misery right in the eyes.. and then give it the finger.”

“The world keeps hanging on to this idea that love is for the gullible. But nothing could be more wrong. Love is only for the brave.”

“We made a choice to do joy on purpose. Not in spite of life’s sorrows. But because of them.”

“..choose joy on purpose.”

Books Hauls

May 2020 Audiobook Haul

Audible had some pretty interesting audiobooks to chose from in their deals for the month of May. Here are the books I decided to add to my library.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Quick Thoughts on May 2020 Reads

My Lost Family
By: Danny Ben-Moshe

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Published: October 2019
Published by: Audible Audio, Audible Original
Format Read: Audiobook
Genre: Nonfiction

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

Growing up in a poor Yiddish speaking home in 1950s London, Lillian – then just a teenager – marries charming older man Raymond. One day he takes their children to the local park. But he never returns.
When they reappear 40 years later – the search for the truth begins.
Unfolding like a mystery, we follow Danny Ben-Moshe and his eccentric Jewish family as they unearth secrets, attempt to reconcile, and hear shocking news that sheds a new light on events.
This series builds upon the story from Danny’s award-winning documentary film My Mother’s Lost Children.
A Somethin Else production for Audible.

Source: Audible

My Thoughts

Thanks to Audible Originals, I have been introduced to so many fascinating stories, that I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. My Lost Family was tragic and sad, but had me hooked from the start. It questions how people of different means, times and maturity handle unthinkable situations. I would highly recommend this audiobook.

Nights in Rodanthe
By: Nicholas Sparks

15926

Published: August 2004
Published by: Warner Books
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks comes a tender story of hope and joy; of sacrifice and forgiveness — a moving reminder that love is possible at any age, at any time, and often comes when we least expect it. At forty-five, Adrienne Willis must rethink her entire life when her husband abandons her for a younger woman. Reeling with heartache and in search of a respite, she flees to the small coastal town of Rodanthe, North Carolina to tend to a friend’s inn for the weekend. But when a major storm starts moving in, it appears that Adrienne’s perfect getaway will be ruined — until a guest named Paul Flanner arrives. At fifty-four, Paul has just sold his medical practice and come to Rodanthe to escape his own shattered past. Now, with the storm closing in, two wounded people will turn to each other for comfort — and in one weekend set in motion feelings that will resonate throughout the rest of their lives.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Insta-love done right! Nights in Rodanthe was a short yet quiet romance between a mature man and woman. This beautiful story ranks among my favourite Nicholas Sparks books and I would highly recommend reading it.


Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Read-a-thons · Recommendations

Charlie's Corner: Book Reviews: A to Z Mysteries

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.

A to Z Mysteries
Books C, D & E
By: Ron Roy
Illustrated by: John Steven Gurney

Published: March 1998
Published by: Turtleback Books
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Middle-grade fiction, series, mystery, children’s books, chapter books

The Canary Caper (Book 3)

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C is for Canary…Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose get an urgent call from Mrs.
Davis. Her canary is missing! The little bird has vanished without a trace, and
he’s not the only one. Two other pets are missing. The kids suspect a
pet-napper, and now that Ruth Rose’s cat, Tiger, has turned up missing too,
it’s become personal!

The Deadly Dungeon (Book 4)

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Dink’s favorite mystery writer, Wallis Wallace, has invited Dink, Josh, and
Ruth Rose for a sleepover – in a haunted castle! But as soon as the young
detectives arrive, they start hearing screams behind the walls. Will they
discover who – or what – is haunting Moose Manor?

The Empty Envelope (Book 5)

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E is for Envelope…Dink keeps getting envelopes in the mail addressed to “D. Duncan.” But the letters inside all start with “Dear Doris” and don’t make any sense! Josh and Ruth Rose think someone’s playing a trick on Dink. But Dink is sure there’s more to it than that, especially after Doris herself shows up and demands her letters!

My Thoughts

One day while helping my mom sort through some boxes, I came across a pile of books that belonged to my brother and I, when we were kids. Among these old treasures included three books from the A to Z mystery series. They made a good addition to my Middle Grade March TBR.

The A to Z Mysteries are a great way to introduce kids to short chapter books, as well as the mystery genre. Each installment begins with a map and includes pictures too. Readers follow three friends as they solve simple cases they uncover, in their community and on their journeys.

I would recommend the A to Z Mystery series by Ron Roy to children in grades 2-4.


Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: May 2020

Total Books Read in May: 6
Total Books Read in 2020: 2
9

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Titanic: The Long Night
By Diane Hoh

Narrated by: Julia Whelan
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5

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What You Wish For
By Katherine Center

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Rating: 5/5
Note: I was sent a copy of What You Wish For by Katherine Center, from the publisher via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

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My Lost Family
By: Danny Ben-Moshe & Dasha Lisitsina

Genre: Non-fiction, Audiobook, Documentary
Rating: 5/5

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Nights in Rodanthe
By: Nicholas Sparks

Genre: Romance, Contemporary fiction
Rating: 4/5

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An Awakened Heart (Orphan Train, 0.5)
By: Jody Hedlund

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5

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The Land Beneath Us (Sunrise at Normandy, 3)
By Sarah Sundin

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Rating: 5/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin, from the publisher, via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 6
Total Number of Fiction: 5
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 1
Total Books Sent for Review: 2
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 4
Total Library Books Read: 1

Formats Read

Physical Books: 1
eBooks:
2
Audio Books:
3

Currently Reading

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June TBR

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