Book Reviews · Recommendations

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy

Nights of Rain and Stars
By: Maeve Binchy

Published: 2005
Published By: Orion Books
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction

Rating: 5/5

 

Synopsis

In a Greek taverna, high over the small village of Aghia Anna, four people meet for the first time: Fiona, an Irish nurse, Thomas, a Californian academic; Elsa, a German television presenter; and David a shy English boy. Along with Andreas, the old man who runs the taverna, they become close to each other after witnessing a tragedy when a pleasure steamer catches fire in the harbour. NIGHTS OF RAIN AND STARS is the story of one summer when Fiona, Thomas, Elsa and David all have to face the particular life crisis which first made them leave their homes and end up in Greece. With the help of Vonni, a middle-aged Irish woman who lives in the village and is now a near-native, they each find a solution – although not necessarily the one they anticipated…

 

My Thoughts

In this novel a group of very different people find themselves at a Greek taverna as a tragedy unfolds in the bay below them. This catastrophe makes them contemplate their own lives and the decisions that led them to the village.

After hearing my Mom rave about Maeve Binchy’s Nights of Rain and Stars, I bumped it up on my reading list. I’m glad that I did because it allowed us to discuss it when it was fresh in her mind. I ended up enjoying this story much more than I anticipated.

The cast of characters was ripe with flaws and faults. In fact as individuals, they weren’t very likable at all, but together they formed friendships that brought out the best qualities in each other. Not only was the setting beautiful, but the solidarity the villagers showed during the time of tragedy was very touching.

Nights of Rain and Stars would make for a good beach read and I would recommend it to fans of Maeve Binchy.

 

Notable Quotes

“…Someone who had not shown the courage to change because he had not known what opportunities for change there were.”

“Now I will open a bottle of wine to celebrate that we were here tonight, with all our hopes and dreams still left to us as we sit in another night of stars.”

“Cry a lot, but laugh as well. It’s how we survive.”

“If hearts can be heavy in heaven her poor heart will be like a lump of lead.”

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

More than 50%: Woman’s Life in a Newfoundland Outport 1900-1950 by Hilda Chaulk Murray

More than 50%: Woman ‘s Life in a Newfoundland Outport 1900-1950
By Hilda Chaulk Murray

Published: 2010 (Originally 1980)
Published By: Flanker Press
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 3/5
♥♥♥

Synopsis

Hilda Chaulk Murray’s More Than 50% is an important piece of Atlantic folklore that encapsulates a woman’s role in the Newfoundland and Labrador outport community. In the days before Confederation, women and men worked hard to prosecute the province’s robust cod fishery, and although women’s work kept them on shore, their contribution to this once-thriving industry was no less important than men’s. In fact, it was universally accepted that the matriarch was the driving force in meeting the family’s and indeed the entire community’s needs. Murray’s hometown of Elliston, Trinity Bay, in the early twentieth century is the setting for this book, in which she gives a guided tour of the female’s unique and ever-changing roles, from girlhood to womanhood, in the outport way of life.

My Thoughts

More Than 50% was derived from the authors academic thesis for Memorial University (Memorial University of Newfoundland). I came across this book in a small gift shop, when I last visited the island. The topic of women’s life in out-port communities interested me, as that is where my own family were born and raised. Although they are from different communities and weren’t in the fishery, much of the content pertained to what my grandmothers lives would have entailed. And of course those who came before them, as well.

Yes, this book could use some more editing, however it was the content itself that kept my attention. I felt that Hilda Chaulk Murray painted a clear picture of life during the time periods she covered. It must have been fascinating to travel around her home community interviewing its older residents.  She talked of old Newfoundland traditions that were passed through the generations as well as the impact the decline in the fishery had on its people. I found it especially interesting to learn about life in pre-confederation Newfoundland, including how many felt more connected to the United States than they did the country they would eventually join.

The roles of women in the both the fishery and household made for an important topic to be covered. I would recommend it to those who are interested in Newfoundland culture and history.

 

Notable Quotes

“The inshore cod fishery was the main work but the only thing certain about it was the uncertainly.”

Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: June 2018

Total Books Read in June: 3
Total Books Read in 2018: 14

 

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5/5

Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic, #1) by Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Contemporary, Humor
Rating: 3/5
NOTE: This was a re-read. 

 

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 3
Total Number of Fiction: 3
Total Number of Non-fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 0
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 3
Total Library Books Read: 0

 

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks: 1
Audio Books: 0

 

Currently Reading

July TBR

 

Memes · Recommendations · Tags

2018 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

June marked the 6th month of the year. So lets freak out and see where we are with our reading..

This tag was originally created by Chami at IsThatChami.

Best book(s) I’ve read so far in 2018

Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy 
Hopeless (Hopeless, #1) by Colleen Hoover

 The best sequel I’ve read so far in 2018.


Rumors (Luxe, #2) by Anna Godbersen

New releases I haven’t read yet, but want to.


A Daring Venture (Empire State, #2) by Elizabeth Camden
Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

Most anticipated release for the second half of 2018.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

My biggest disappointment.

The Road Home by Beverly Lewis

Biggest surprise.

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Favourite new to me authors.

Colleen Hoover
Morgan Matson

Newest fictional crush.

None.

Newest favourite character.

Andreas (Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy)

Book that made me cry.

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

 Book that made me happy.

Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres 

Most beautiful book I’ve bought/received.

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy was given to me by my mom.

Favourite book to movie adaptation I’ve seen this year.

None.

Favourite review I’ve written so far.

The Meeting Place (Song of Acadia, #1) by Janette Oke & T. Davis Bunn

Books I need to read before the year ends.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 

 

Did you participate in this tag? If so please leave me your links in the comments below. 

Product Review · Recommendations

Game Review: Escape The Room: Stargazers Manor

What do you do when you can’t convince anyone to do an escape room with you? You buy a board game version and make your family play with you. Haha!

While perusing Amazon one day I came across Escape The Room: Stargazers Manor by ThinkFun.

Game: Escape the Room: Stargazers Manor
Made by: ThinkFun
Type: Escape Room, Problem Solving
For Ages: 10+
Required Players: 3+

 

My Rating: 4/5

My Thoughts

Stargazers Manor was a fun escape room adventure to be had in the comfort of your own home. Upon opening the box, I was surprised to see so few game pieces, but that is where the envelopes come into play. ThinkFun has created a detailed story where players must uncover what happened to a widower-astronomer, set in 1869. As a companion to the board game, ThinkFun has created a website that offers hints and a how-to guide to reassemble the game. It also offers tips on how to host your own Escape Room Party, with invitations, costumes and music ideas. It took my family and I around 2 hours to complete and escape the manor. We thought it was just the right balance of difficulty and enjoyment. I recommend this game and hope to try more escape room adventures in the future.

 

 

Note: Images Source 

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Save the Date
By: Morgan Matson

Published: June, 2018
Published By: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format Read: ARC, Net Galley, eBook
Genre: YA Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5/5
♥♥♥♥♥

 

I was sent a copy of Save the Date by Morgan Matson, by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

My Thoughts

Morgan Matson is one of those authors who I’ve heard a lot of reviewers rave about. So naturally I became curious and eager to find out for myself if her novels lived up to all the hype. In the case of her latest release, Save the Date, it definitely lived up to my expectations.

Save the Date is much longer than most books in this genre. However I think that I would much rather 1 longer novel than unnecessarily stretching it out into a series. I would describe this novel as a humorous family drama, with a little bit of romance thrown in.

Morgan Matson included some mixed media formatting, with the inclusion of text messages and in the form of a comic strip, illustrated by Charlie’s mother; Grant Central Station. The syndicated comic was based on the hijinks of the Grant family as they grew up. Often times this caused problems within and outside of their home.

This was essentially a comedy of errors that surrounded the nuptials of Charlie’s sister Linney. Anything that could go wrong did and just when the reader begins to think that it is smooth sailing ahead, something else happens.

I found it refreshing to read about a family that felt so real. Charlie’s admiration for her older siblings was very endearing, even if she saw them through rose tinted glasses, so to speak.

Save the Date would make for a fun and entertaining spring/summer read. I would recommend it to those who enjoy light contemporaries in the young adult genre. I look forward to reading more from Morgan Matson in the future.

Memes · Recommendations

Top 10 Tuesday: Books that Awaken the Travel Bug in Me


Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy R.eader Girl

Today we are sharing books that make us want to travel.

Destination: Greece

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy


The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Anne Brashares

Grecian Holiday by Kate Cann

Destination: Scotland


The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

Destination: Nantucket 

Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer 

Destination: Prince Edward Island


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery


Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery


The Red Door Inn (Prince Edward Island Dreams, #1) by Liz Johnson

Destination: Bali 


Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson 

 

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Rumors (Luxe, #2) by Anna Godbersen

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Rumors (Luxe, #2)
By Anna Godbersen

Published: June, 2008
Published By: HarperCollins Publishers
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA Lit

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

After bidding good-bye to New York’s brightest star, Elizabeth Holland, rumors continue to fly about her untimely demise.

All eyes are on those closest to the dearly departed: her mischievous sister, Diana, now the family’s only hope for redemption; New York’s most notorious cad, Henry Schoon-maker, the flame Elizabeth never extinguished; the seductive Penelope Hayes, poised to claim all that her best friend left behind—including Henry; even Elizabeth’s scheming former maid, Lina Broud, who discovers that while money matters and breeding counts, gossip is the new currency.

As old friends become rivals, Manhattan’s most dazzling socialites find their futures threatened by whispers from the past. In this delicious sequel to The Luxe, nothing is more dangerous than a scandal . . . or more precious than a secret.

My Thoughts

Rumors is the second installment in Anna Godbersen’s young adult historical fiction series, Luxe. In the first novel we are introduced to New York’s most prominent socialites. Picking up a couple of months after the conclusion of book one, I was glad to learn that we follow the character Diana Holland. As the younger sister to the previous main character, I found her to be much more interesting than the elder Elizabeth.

The Luxe series is often compared to the television show Gossip Girl. However instead of modern day, the first two books take place in late 1899. And instead of an online blog, newspaper columns like the “Gamesome Gallant” report all the latest scandals.

Like in the first novel, I found that some of the character descriptions and fashion to be more modernized than they would have been at the time. I also found that some of the plot lines weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been.

Despite these two grievances, I really enjoyed Rumors. High society and New York are two of my favourite topics to read about. Although I think the most enjoyable aspect of this book was the tone that was portrayed. It was a tone of pure snark that fit perfectly, not only with the gossip columns but the vain characteristics of the socialites.

I would definitely recommend this series to fans of the young adult genre and I’m looking forward to continuing on with the third installment.

Notable Quotes

“It was as though the city had always been wrong for him, and here, far away, where the land was open, he had arrived at his full strength.” pg. 39

“Society does not forget.” pg. 52

“Once a reputation has been too often confirmed, society cannot forget it.” pg. 76

Currently Reading · Memes · Personal Post · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: May 2018

Look at me, getting my wrap-up posted on time, haha. After a late start to Spring, we are definitely getting much warmer temperatures. Normally I’d use this as an excuse to hibernate, but lately I’ve been a bit more active.

Charlie is now 13 months old and is become more and more mobile each day. He sure keeps us on our toes.

Once again I read 2 books this past month and made good progress on another one. I am happy to say that I read my first 5 star book of 2018. I can’t believe it took me so long. Hopefully there will be more to come..

1

Total Books Read in May: 2
Total Books Read in 2018: 11

Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Genre: YA Lit, Contemporary
Rating: 5/5
Note: I was sent an ARC of Save the Date by Morgan Matson, from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. 

More than 50% by Hilda Chaulk Murray
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 3/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 2
Total Number of Fiction: 1
Total Number of Non-fiction: 1
Total Books Sent for Review: 1
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 1
Total Library Books Read: 0

Formats Read

Physical Books: 1
eBooks: 1
Audio Books: 0

2

Hosted by: Book Date 

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Meeting Place (Song of Acadia, #1) by Janette Oke & T. Davis Bunn

The Meeting Place (Song of Acadia, #1)
By: Janette Oke & T. Davis Bunn

Published: April, 1999
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Format Read: Kobo, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

A Chance Encounter Forever Changed Their Lives–and Destinies.
Crafted by two masters of inspirational fiction–Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn–and combining the engaging historical settings, rich characterization, and heartwarming messages quintessential to both authors, The Meeting Place is another timeless story for you to cherish.

Set along the rugged coastline of 18th century Canada in what was then called Acadia (now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick), The Meeting Place re-creates a world that was home to native Indians, French settlers, and English garrisons. Such diverse populations did not live in accord, however. Instead, they were isolated within their own groups by a brewing political tension under the difficult English rule.

Amid such chaotic times two women, both about to become brides and both trying to live lives of quiet peace, meet in a lush field of wildflowers. Louisa, a Frenchwoman, and Catherine, who is English, continue to meet secretly through the seasons, sharing both friendship and growing faith.

The outside world does not mirror their own tranquil happiness, and the dreaded crackdown by the English throne threatens far more than their growing bond. In the face of a heart-wrenching dilemma, Louisa and Catherine strive to maintain their faith and cling to their dreams of family and home.
Winner of the Christy Award, presented by the Christian Bookseller Association to honor the best in Christian fiction.

My Thoughts

Janette Oke is an author with a list of books so long, its hard to know where to start. My first introduction to her books was with Where Trust Lies (Return to the Canadian West, #2) and since then I have been very eager to read more.

I began The Meeting Place with high expectations and definitely wasn’t disappointed. Beginning in 1753, it follows the budding, forbidden friendship between two young women; a French Acadian and an English Colonialist. They learn that despite their different cultures and their warring homelands, they had much in common. The way they built their bond around their Bible study was really quite beautiful.  There were so many passages that I marked to re-read and savor. Strength was a common theme in the Meeting Place, especially when hardships ensued. Catherine and Louisa drew strength from their husbands, their cultures, faith and especially their friendship.

While the cast of characters was interesting, it was the setting that really captured me. My pre-confederation education didn’t exactly shine a light on the British’s expulsion of the Acadian’s, so this era in our history is a fairly new interest of mine. The descriptions of the highland glen, the maritime local and the different seasons the story spanned draws the reader in and plays with their senses. After having the opportunity to visit  Fort Louisburg in Nova Scotia, I was able to vividly picture the landscape and what life was like during that time period. I was pleasantly surprised when that very place was mentioned in this book, as it gave me a better understanding of the different locations mentioned.

The Meeting Place is a wonderful story filled with heartbreak and hope. I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy Christian historical fiction and I very much look forward to reading the second book in the Song of Acadia series.

Notable Quotes

“A man was either French or English, and though villages were but a stone’s throw from one another, most inhabitants would go an entire lifetime without speaking to the other side.”

“The questions which had no answers were best left unspoken, and confessions were best whispered down a dark well at midnight.”

“It’s our meeting place. Our sanctuary. When we come here we come as equals. Women. Wives. Friends. We share the same dreams. The same hopes. We must not let others keep us enemies.”

Additional Notes

To read more about my trip to the Fortress of Louisbourg please visit my old blog: Melissa Lee’s Many Reads.