Here are the books I gathered during the month of January.
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
Muldoon’s Tea Rooms, beloved for the cozy atmosphere and luscious desserts, has started looking a bit outdated — and the same could be said about the proprietors, Penny and Daniel Stanley.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
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.
The Lightkeeper’s Daughters
By Jean E. Pendziwol
Published: July 2017
Published by: Harper
Format Read: eBook, Library Book, Libby App
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary
Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth’s eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father’s journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.
With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own—to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.
As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan’s connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.
Historical fiction, set in a place I’ve visited, with a nautical element: three of my favourite things to read about. Jean E. Pendziwol’s The Lighthouse Keepers Daughters is worthy of a 5 star rating.
It follows an unlikely pair of characters as they revisit the past with the help of the Lighthouse Keepers old log books. This story was the perfect book to read during the fall, as the atmospheric tale set a haunting tone.
The premise initially reminded me of the book Perdita by Hilary Scharper with its dual timeline, lighthouse setting and artistic elements. However I did enjoy this book far more. Other books it has been related to include The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, which I have also read and would agree with.
I would highly recommend The Lighthouse Keepers Daughters by Jean E Pendziwol to fans of Canadian historical fiction.
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
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Dear Mrs. Bird
By: A.J. Pearce
Published: July, 2018
Published by: Scribner
Format Read: Trade Paperback, Library Book
Genre: Historical Fiction
A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.
London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.
Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.
Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.
“My mother always said that a lot of men think that having bosoms means you’re a nitwit. She said the cleverest thing is to let them assume you’re an idiot, so you can crack on and prove them all wrong.”
“Mother always said it wasn’t just about keeping going, but about standing up for what you believed in as well.”
(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
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.
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
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.
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 Road Home by Beverly Lewis
(From Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley)
Library Book Sale
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.