Book Reviews · Uncategorized

The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

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The Tea House on Mulberry Street
By: Sharon Owens
Narrated by: Caroline Winterson

Published: February 2005
Published by: Listen & Live Audio
Format Read: Audio book, Library book, Libby App
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

Muldoon’s Tea Rooms, beloved for the cozy atmosphere and luscious desserts, has started looking a bit outdated — and the same could be said about the proprietors, Penny and Daniel Stanley. After seventeen years, their marriage has started to fade and wear a little thin, even as their old shop bustles with the energy of the customers who seek refuge from their particular dilemmas: Housewife Sadie Smith comes to escape her diet and her husband’s stick-thin mistress. Struggling artist Brenda Brown sits and pens love letters to the actor Nicolas Cage. And Clare Fitzgerald returns after twenty years abroad to search for a long-lost someone. Behind the cherry cheesecakes, vanilla ice creams, and chocolate cappuccinos are the stirrings of a revolution that will define lives, heal troubled hearts, and rock the very foundation of the humble teahouse. And through it all, Penny and Daniel manage to discover what truly matters in life and love.

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Set in 1999, Belfast; The Tea House on Mullberry Street follows the owners and customers of a small cafe. I was instantly reminded of a Maeve Binchy novel, what with a group of unrelated people with one common connection. This connection was the theme of the story and followed how each character dealt with their individual situations. 


It took some time for me to get into the story, but once the plot began to move along, I enjoyed it well enough. 


Caroline Winterson was a great narrator who did justice to the different dialects.


I would recommend it to those who enjoy women’s fiction, like Maeve Binchy. 

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Book Reviews · Character Spotlight · Recommendations

Character Spotlight: Hamish DeLuca

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Murder at the Flamingo
A Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery, #1)
By Rachel McMillan

Published: July 2018
Published by: Thomas Nelson on Brilliance Audio
Format Read: Audio Book, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Series

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

If Hamish DeLuca spent less time with his nose in a history book or studying for the bar exam, he might finally have the courage to ask a girl to dance at the Palais Royale. But despite his romantic nature, Hamish has always been shy and lacking the confidence of his friend and cousin, Luca Valari, who has invited Hamish to join him in Boston for the summer. Luca has just purchased a new dance club, The Flamingo, and could use Hamish’s math and accounting skills to keep the books alongside Luca’s “right hand man” Reggie Van Buren.

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, daughter of a wealthy pastor and heir to a New Haven fortune, is determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she sees in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures. After a humiliating tea party, Reggie bids goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expect her to marry and escapes to Boston. Finding an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari and a room at Miss Clara’s Boarding house in the North End, Reggie soon adapts to a world beyond servants and ironed linens. Her romantic prospects alight, too, when she sets eyes on Luca’s cousin Hamish.

When a corpse is discovered at The Flamingo, Hamish and Reggie trade ledgers and book-keeping for sleuthing skills. But the truth comes at a high price for Hamish who discovers a dark side to his beloved cousin and is forced to choose between loyalty and his conscience.

-Goodreads

Character Spotlight

It is quite rare that I come across a character in a book who shines far above the rest. This is especially true in one with two main characters, like Murder at the Flamingo. However in this first installment of Rachel Mcmillan’s series, Hamish Deluca did just that. 

I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to a male character who isn’t portrayed as the typical alpha male. Instead Hamish had a vulnerability that was endearing. His anxiety problems was something I could empathize with and the way the author described his symptoms was very realistic. 
Despite his ailments that kept him sheltered, Hamish was quite an intelligent man. I really enjoyed the sections from his perspective and exploring 1930s Boston through his eyes. The way he turned to the Hunchback of Notre Dame as if it were a compass or the Bible, made me want to read that book. Hamish also showed immense growth throughout the story. Above all it was his fierce loyalty that captivated him to me the most. 

Although Murder at the Flamingo on a whole, garnered a 3 star rating from me, Hamish DeLuca himself would earn 5 stars. I look forward to reading more about this character in the second installment of the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries. 

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Shoe Box: A Christmas Story by Francine Rivers

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The Shoe Box: A Christmas Story
By: Francine Rivers 

Published: September 2011
Published By: Christian Audio Fiction 
Format Read: Audio Book, Libby App, Library Book
Genre: Christian Fiction 

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis 

This Christmas novella tells the unforgettable story of little Timmy, a foster child with a very special and mysterious shoe box. Designed for gift-giving, this heartwarming book features new illustrations, updated content–including Francine Rivers’ favorite holiday recipes and Christmas traditions–and the complete Christmas story from the New Living Translation.

Goodreads 

My Thoughts

Author Francine Rivers found inspiration in her own prayer box, to write a story of a little boy and his special shoe box. 

This beautiful short story deeply touched me, as a mother with a young son of my own. Timmy’s unfortunate circumstances only served to strengthen his faith. In turn he shined a light on the true meaning of the Christmas season. 

This audiobook also included a version of the Christmas Story that I hadn’t heard before. 

The Shoe Box made for the perfect holiday listen and I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy inspirational Christmas stories. 

Book Reviews

Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel (Stephanie Plum, #8.5) by Janet Evanovich

Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel
(Stephanie Plum, #8.5)
By: Janet Evanovich
Narrated by: Lorelai King

Published: March 2003
Published By: MacMillan Audio
Format Read: Audio, Library Book, Libby App
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Series

Rating: 1/5

Synopsis


It’s five days before Christmas and things are not looking merry for Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum. She hasn’t got a tree. She hasn’t bought any presents. The malls are jam-packed with staggering shoppers. There’s not a twinkle light anywhere to be seen in her apartment.
And there’s a strange man in her kitchen.
Sure, this has happened to Stephanie Plum before. Strangers, weirdos, felons, creeps, and lunatics are always finding their way to her front door. But this guy is different. This guy is mysterious, sexy-and he has his own agenda. His name is Diesel and he is a man on a mission. And Diesel is unlike anyone Stephanie has ever met before in her life. The question is, what does he want with her? Can he help her find a little old toy maker who has skipped out on his bail right before Christmas? Can he survive the Plum family holiday dinner? Can he get Stephanie a tree that doesn’t look like it was grown next to a nuclear power plant? These questions and more are keeping Stephanie awake at night. Not to mention the fact that she needs to find a bunch of nasty elves, her sister Valerie has a Christmas “surprise” for the Plums, her niece Mary Alice doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, and Grandma Mazur has a new stud muffin. So bring out the plastic reindeer, strap on your jingle bells, and get ready to celebrate the holidays-Jersey style. “Visions of Sugar Plums”-the world of Plum has never been merrier!

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Visions of Sugar Plums is the second of the “in between” novels from the Stephanie Plum, series that I have read. And the second one that included a supernatural character by the name of Diesel, who stars in another one of Janet Evanovich series. Unfortunately I do not enjoy these crossovers due to their paranormal element. Even though Stephanie’s shenanigans are often wild, I just don’t think that it fits in with her world. In the future I will skip these crossover novels and stick with the regular series.

This is the first time I have listened to the Stephanie Plum in audio format. For the most part, I enjoyed Lorelai King’s narration with the exception of the voice she used for Lula. I was also curious as to why she didn’t give Stephanie a New Jersey accent, as that is where she was born and raised.

Unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend Visions of Sugar Plums and would suggest that readers stick with the regular series.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1) by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs
(Maisie Dobbs, #1)
By: Jacqueline Winspear
Narrated by: Rita Barrington

Published: March 2005
Published by: Sound Library
Format Read: Audio book, Libby, Library book
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

 

Synopsis

Hailed by NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ as part ‘Testament of Youth’, part Dorothy Sayers, and part ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’, this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths.

Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence — and the patronage of her benevolent employers — she works her way into college at Cambridge.

When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

My Thoughts

The first book in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series has been one of my most anticipated reads and it definitely lived up to my expectations.

Set after the first World War, it explores the lasting effects trauma had on the survivors, including the soldiers who fought and (in the case of Maisie Dobbs) the medics who saved their lives. Many of these heroes returned home with devastating injuries, both physically and mentally. This is the first time I have read about how their experiences at war have changed their opinions about society and their countries. I didn’t expect for this mystery novel to touch on a topic I would find so thought provoking.

I did find it odd when the main story was put on hold, as the author went into a very detailed section about Maisie Dobbs youth. Although her backstory was interesting and pertained to the main plot, it was oddly arranged.
Rita Barrington’s narrative of the novel was spot on and I enjoyed her interpretation of the different accents.

In closing Maisie Dobbs is a solid thought provoking, historical mystery that I would highly recommend. I look forward to reading book two soon.
Book Reviews · Recommendations

An Amish Kitchen by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston & Kelly Long

An Amish Kitchen
By: Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston & Kelly Long
Narrated by: Heather Henderson

 

Published: December. 2012
Published by: Oasis Audio
Format Read: Audio Book, Library Book, Libby App.
Genre: Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

 

Synopsis

The Amish kitchen is the heart of the home – and the ideal setting for stories of love and hope.  Fall in Paradise, Pennsylvania, always brings a brisk change in the weather. This season also ushers in unexpected visitors, new love, and renewed hope for three women. Fern has a green thumb for growing healing herbs, but longs for love to bloom in her life. Then the next-door neighbor’s oldest son, Abram, comes running into Fern’s kitchen seeking help for his little sister. The crisis soon leads to a promise of romance — until mistrust threatens to end their growing attraction. Nearby, Hannah runs her parents’ bed and breakfast, Paradise Inn — but her life feels nothing like Paradise. She longs for a man of integrity to enter her life, but never expected him to knock on the front door looking for a room. Will she be able trust Stephen with her future once she discovers his mysterious past? When a storm blows a tree onto Eve’s farmhouse, she has little choice but to temporarily move her family into her parents’ home. Outside of cooking together in the kitchen, Eve and her mother can’t agree on anything. But this may be just the recipe for hope in healing old wounds. Three Amish stories — each celebrating love, family, and faith — all taking place in a tight-knit community where the kitchen truly is the heart of the home.

My Thoughts

An Amish Kitchen is a collection of three stories that highlights the fact that the heart of a family home is found in the kitchen. This is a important point in many different cultures including the Amish and one I can definitely relate to.

The first story A Taste of Faith was interesting in that it followed a young woman who takes care of the minor medical needs of her community using herbs and natural remedies. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite warm up to the male lead.

The characters in the second story (A Spoonful of Love) were wonderful with detailed backgrounds. Romance was depicted more passionately than I expected for an Amish novel. This was a pleasant surprise and added some spice to the book.

The final story (A Recipe for Hope) focused on the importance of sharing family recipes and passing down the memories attached to each one.

I thought the narrator Heather Henderson did a great job throughout. She was enjoyable and engaging to listen to. This is the first Amish fiction I have listened to on audio, so it was nice to hear the correct pronunciations of certain words that I had previously read in other novels from this genre.

An Amish Kitchen was a wonderful collection of stories that I would highly recommend to fans of Amish romance novels and family tales.
Book Reviews · Recommendations

Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

Seriously… I’m Kidding
By: Ellen DeGeneres

Published: October, 2011
Published By: Grand Central Publishing
Format Read: Audio Book, Library Loaner, OverDrive
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir, Humor, Autobiography

Rating: 3/5
♥♥♥

Synopsis

Ellen Degeneres’ winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient and honored daytime shows on the air, and her life makes for great (and very funny) reading.

“I’ve experienced a whole lot the last few years and I have a lot to share. So I hope that you’ll take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy the words I’ve put together for you in this book. I think you’ll find I’ve left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I’m saying is, let us begin, shall we?”

Seriously… I’m Kidding is a lively, hilarious, and often sweetly poignant look at the life of the much-loved entertainer as she opens up about her personal life, her talk show, and joining the judges table of American Idol.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Seriously… I’m Kidding has been on my to-read list for a while now. When it finally came available to borrow from my library I jumped at the chance to listen to the audio version.

Narrated by Ellen herself, this audio book was just like listening to the opening monologue on her talk show. I enjoyed her observations on the world around her and admire her for keeping her jokes clean. Unlike most comedians, Ellen’s humor is suitable for all ages.

Although an enjoyable listen, I did find some of the rambling to be a bit much and settled on a 3 star rating. I would recommend Seriously… I’m Kidding to fans of Ellen DeGeneres.

 

Books Hauls · Memes

Book Haul: December 2017 – February 2018

Do you ever think you published a post, but then look back and discover that you didn’t? Well that is what I thought happened with my book hauls from previous months. I must have only shared some of Charlie’s books we’ve acquired but not my own.

Anyway, here most of the books I’ve added to my collection over the past few months..

Borrowed From the Library..

40 Love by Madeleine Wickham
Seriously.. I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres


Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

 

Library Book Sale

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Vow by Kim Carpenter
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Ya Ya’s in Bloom (Ya Ya’s #3) by Rebecca Wells

Kindle

Snowfall and Secrets (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers, #1) by Kimberly Loth

 

Linking up with Stacking the Shelves

Currently Reading · Memes · Recommendations

Currently Reading: February 11, 2018

Posting a quick update to record my reading progress.

We are currently snowed in here. Over the past couple of days we just got dumped on and its really quite beautiful. Driving in it isn’t very fun though. Does anyone else enjoy shoveling snow? I do! Too bad my heart doesn’t agree, so I have to really limit myself. It makes me miss the days of my childhood where I’d spend the day outside sledding, building snow forts and snowmen. Ah those were the days.

Does anyone remember Crazy Carpet sleds? They are also known as Flying Carpets..

I had so much fun with these as a kid, but man were they ever hard on the knees.

Now lets talk books..

My Reading Progress


I finally finished my re-read of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This is as far as I’ve ever read in the series, however I plan to remedy that in the months to come. I’m looking forward to continuing the series, but I’m kind of worried I won’t be into the remaining books like I was the first 4. Did anyone else have this problem with the HP series? I enjoyed The Goblet of Fire, but the third book still remains my favourite. It surprised me how much of the plot I had forgotten. So in a way it was kind of like reading it for the first time.

Currently Reading


I’ve made great progress with these two books. I hope to finish off Ellen’s book tonight and Beth Labonte’s later in the week.

What are you all reading? Leave me a message in the comments.

Happy reading.

Links


Hosted by: Book Date

Book Reviews

40 Love by Madeleine Wickham

40 Love
By: Madeleine Wickham 

Published: August 2011
Published By: Macmillan Audio
Format Read: Audio Book, OverDrive App,
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5
♥♥.5

Synopsis

Caroline and Patrick Chance have come a long way since their days on Seymour Road. To celebrate their wealth they invite some old friends to their country house for a tennis tournament. This contemporary novel follows the Chance’s and their friends who all vary in terms of success. Is it just their intention to show off their wealth or does Patrick have an ulterior motive behind this weekend of fun?

My Thoughts

Over the years I have read several Sophie Kinsella books, but this is the first one I have read under her real name Madeleine Wickham. I was curious to see how her older books compare to her more current releases and the tennis theme caught my interest as well.

What can I say about 40-Love? Keeping up with the Jones’s was definitely a theme here. From their expensive clothing, art and private schools, each character was more materialistic than the next. And their backstabbing snobbery became more infuriating as I read along.

Katherine Kellgren’s narration was spot on, when bringing a voice to the Chance’s and their guests. She did a great job expressing their selfish personalities and high brow accents. Wickham’s familiar contemporary style and the anticipation of confrontation kept me listening to this book.

Unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend 40-Love, but I would recommend Madeleine Wickham/Sophie Kinsella as an author to read.