Book Reviews · Recommendations

Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #1) by Rhys Bowen

Her Royal Spyness
(Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #1)
By: Rhys Bowen

Published: July, 2007
Published by: Berkley Publishing Group
Format Read: eBook, Library Book, Libby App
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 3.5/5
♥♥♥.5 

Synopsis

Georgie, aka Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, cousin of King George V of England, is penniless and trying to survive on her own as an ordinary person in London in 1932.

So far she has managed to light a fire and boil an egg… She’s gate-crashed a wedding… She’s making money by secretly cleaning houses… And she’s been asked to spy for Her Majesty the Queen.

Everything seems to be going swimmingly until she finds a body in her bathtub… and someone is definitely trying to kill her.

My Thoughts

Her Royal Spyness is book one in Rhys Bowen’s mystery series, that follows Georgiana the fictional great granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

Set in the midst of the Great Depression, it tells of how the most elite of British aristocracy saw their fortunes dwindle with the crash of the stock market. The golden age is over and many including Georgiana and her family are forced to fend for themselves in ways they never had to before.

This was also a period of great change in values and moral decorum. It was becoming more common for young unmarried women to be unchaperoned. Our main character takes advantage of this newfound freedom and moves to London, where mystery ensues.

Her Royal Spyness was a quick and entertaining read, with a humorous tone. I enjoyed the time period and the inclusion of the royal family. However the mystery was quite predictable. Still, I look forward to reading the second book in the series.
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Book Reviews

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

A Spool of Blue Thread
By Anne Tyler

Published: February 2015
Published By: Bond Street Books
Format Read: eBook, Kobo, 
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5
♥♥.5 

 

Synopsis

A freshly observed, joyful and wrenching, funny and true new novel from Anne Tyler

“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon.” This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. from Red’s father and mother, newly-arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.

Brimming with all the insight, humour, and generosity of spirit that are the hallmarks of Anne Tyler’s work, A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.

My Thoughts

Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread was one of my most anticipated books of 2015, so I began the novel with very high expectations. Unfortunately I wasn’t as intrigued by the plot as I was upon initially reading the synopsis.

I wasn’t able to connect to any of the characters and found their family dynamic more frustrating than not. The arrangement of how the story was told jumped from one time period to another randomly which was quite odd.

There was one quote from A Spool of Blue Thread that perfectly summed up my thoughts…
‘Maybe it was just further proof that the Whitshanks were not remarkable in any way whatsoever.’
Although I wouldn’t recommend this book, I would suggest readers try other titles by this author.
Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Book Review: Little People, Big Dreams: Lucy Maud Montgomery

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

Little People, Big Dreams:Lucy Maud Montgomery
By: Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara
Illustrated by: Anuska Allepu

Published: October, 2018
Published by: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Format Read: ARC, Net Galley
Genre: Children’s Picture Books, Non-fiction

Rating: 3/5
♥♥♥

Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara’s Little People, Big Dreams series are a collection of picture books for children that aim towards inspiring the younger generations by profiling prominent historical figures. Previous installments have featured; Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo and Agatha Christie.

The latest release shines the spotlight on beloved Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery and her how she persevered to become a writer. Illustrated by Anuska Allepu, this book inspires children to follow their dreams.

Book Reviews

A High-End Finish (A Fixer-Upper Mystery #1) by Kate Carlisle

A High-End Finish
(A Fixer-Upper Mystery, #1)
By: Kate Carlisle

Published: November 2014
Published by: NAL
Format Read: Kobo, eBook
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Rating: 2.5/5
♥♥.5

Synopsis

In the seaside town of Lighthouse Cove in northern California, everyone knows the best man for the job is actually a woman—contractor Shannon Hammer. But while Shannon can do wonders with a power drill and a little elbow grease, she’s about to discover that some problems aren’t so easily fixed….

Shannon’s home-renovation and repair business is booming, but her love life needs work. On a blind date with real estate agent Jerry Saxton, she has to whip out a pair of pliers to keep Jerry from getting too hands on. Shannon is happy to put her rotten date behind her, but when Jerry’s found dead in a run-down Victorian home that she’s been hired to restore, the town’s attractive new police chief suspects that her threats may have laid the foundation for murder.

Determined to clear her name, Shannon conducts her own investigation—with the help of her four best friends, her eccentric father, a nosy neighbor or two, and a handsome crime writer who’s just moved to town. But as they get closer to prying out the murderer’s identity, Shannon is viciously attacked. Now she’ll have to nail down the truth—or end up in permanent foreclosure.…

My Thoughts

I decided to pick up Kate Carlisle’s A High-End Finish because of my interest in cozy mysteries and home renovations. Shannon’s business restoring and building Victorian style homes was quite interesting to me as I’ve been a long time fan of anything on HGTV. The descriptions of Lighthouse Cove made it sound like a beautiful place.

Although the story kept my attention, I felt there were some aspects of the plot that lacked detail. While there were others that unnecessarily took up too much detail. I have yet to decide if I will continue on with the Fixer-Upper Mystery series.

 

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1) by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)
By: Colleen Hoover

Published: December, 2012
Format Read: eBook, Kindle
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 5/5

♥♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

My Thoughts

Colleen Hoover is another author who I became curious about after hearing a lot of hype on Book Tube. I definitely wasn’t prepared for how much of an emotional impact Hopeless would have.

The dramatic prologue to Sky’s story had me hooked immediately.  However I was unsure if I wanted to continue once I figured out where the plot was heading. The subject matter featured in this book is extremely hard to read. Some may even find it very problematic and triggering. Thankfully I decided to continue on, as this ended up being a 5 star read for me.

Hopeless was one of the most intense books I have ever read. Although I was able to predict early on the outcome, I still couldn’t put it down.

I would highly recommend Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless to fans of new adult fiction. However I advise caution to those who are sensitive to triggering subject matter.

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.

Book Reviews

The Road Home by Beverly Lewis

The Road Home
By: Beverly Lewis

Published: April, 2018
Published By: Bethany House Publishers
Format Read: ARC, Kindle, eBook
Genre: Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5
♥♥.5

I was sent a copy of The Road Home by Beverly Lewis, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Lena Rose Schwartz hadn’t planned to leave her Old Order community in Centerville, Michigan. But then, she could not have foreseen the accident that made her and her siblings orphans. After her parents’ funeral, her younger brothers and sisters are farmed out to various nearby relatives. But when the deacon in charge of the arrangements tells her there aren’t places enough for everyone, she agrees to go live with her father’s second cousin and his family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Beside the fact that Lena has never been more than a few miles from home, she’s never met the family she will now be living with. But worse than that is the thought of being separated from her siblings. How will they manage without her to care for them–especially eight-year-old Chris? And what about Hannes Lehman, the beau she was sure would soon be asking her to marry him? It was true that he was not the man her father would have preferred for her. Maybe that was what the deacon was hinting at when he said “a fresh start might do you good.”

It won’t be forever, she consoles herself. I’ll come back as soon as I can to take care of my family–and to make a home with Hannes. But doing so may prove far more complicated then she ever imagined.

My Thoughts

Beverly Lewis is an award winning author of Amish fiction and I have been eager to read from her extensive collection. I was thankful to have been given the opportunity to read and review her latest release and began with very high expectations.

I enjoyed learning about the Amish culture in the two different communities; Lena Rose’s hometown of Centerville, Michigan and her adoptive home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The comparisons of the different traditions in these two Old Order communities were surprising to me. Including how the women wore their hair and the style of buggies used. The setting and culture depicted in this story, was by far my favourite part.

Although The Road Home was an endearing story, it didn’t draw me in or captivate me like the other books I’ve read from this genre. The style of Beverly Lewis’s writing was much more stern than I anticipated, so I expected the story to take a more serious or tragic route than it did. Instead I found it to be slightly boring and drawn out.

Unfortunately The Road Home wasn’t for me, however I am interested in giving this author another try. I hope that I will enjoy the next novel more.

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.

Books Hauls · Memes

Book Haul: March 2018

Today I would like to share the books I added to my collection during the month of March.

Sent in exchange for an honest review


The Cat Who Ate Christmas by Lil Chase & Thomas Docherty

(Via NetGalley)


The Road Home by Beverly Lewis
(From Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley)

Library Book Sale 

29402861_2012884192288032_1466099881197174784_n.jpg

Vision in White (Bride Quartet, #1) by Nora Roberts
Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts
Where My Heart Belongs by Tracie Peterson
Keeping Time by Stacey McGlynn 

29717122_1310676669034733_8545424870953975808_n.jpg

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
The Queen’s Accomplice (Maggie Hope Mystery #6) by Susan Elia MacNeal 
Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicholson, #1) by Louise Rennison 
The Heart of a Good by P.G. Woodhouse

Have you read any of these books? Leave me a message in the comments. 

 

 

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Summer at Sunset (Summer, #2) by Beth Labonte

Summer at Sunset
(Summer, #2)
By: Beth Labonte

Published: December, 2018
Published By: Kindle Edition
Format Read: Kindle, eBook
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5
♥♥♥.5

Synopsis

For Summer Hartwell, holding her and Graham’s wedding a thousand miles from home seemed like a good idea. Even if it is at a retirement community. How else could she avoid planning the wedding with her neurotic, anxiety-ridden mother? But with one week left to go and Summer’s parents arriving on the scene, things begin to quickly unravel. Between the swingers parties, the Viagra jokes, and the copious amount of alcohol, Summer’s not so sure her parents will make it out of there alive. Then there’s the matter of Graham being Grade A top choice meat to every woman over sixty-five, a few of whom Summer suspects of trying to sabotage the wedding!

Can Summer and Graham hold things together long enough to make it down the aisle?
(Synopsis from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

Summer at Sunset is a fun contemporary fiction that picks up 2 years after the first book in the series, Summer at Sea. Our main character is now engaged to be married and wins an all expenses paid wedding at her in-laws retirement community.

It was nice to be reunited with the quirky cast of characters, including Summer’s neurotic parents. Ironically she learns that she may not be all the different from them. You know what they say “like mother, like daughter.” We are also introduced to several of the residents from the retirement community, who are young at heart, enjoying their golden years in the Florida sun. Only their daily routines mirror more of a college fraternity than that of a rest and relaxation.

While I found it to be an enjoyable read, I didn’t rate it as high as Summer at Sea. I didn’t like the characters quite as much as I did upon their initial introduction to me. Although I found it perfectly understandable that she would be stressed out, I found Summer to be a bit annoying at times and I wasn’t a fan of her fiance. An inflated ego isn’t a trait that I find attractive at all. The conclusion of this story was more over the top, than I expected.

However I enjoy the way Beth Labonte weaves pop culture into her stories and the personalities of her characters. There were several laugh out loud moments and I especially enjoyed the visits to Disney World.

I look forward to the next installment in this series and I would recommend it to fans of contemporary chick-lit.