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.
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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.
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 

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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 

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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

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

Uncommon Type: Some Stories
By: Tom Hanks

Published: October, 2017
Published By: Alfred A. Knopf
Format Read: Hardcover, Library Book
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5
♥♥.5

Synopsis

A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game–and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have!

Featuring additional performances by Peter Gerety, Peter Scolari, Cecily Strong, Holland Taylor, and Wilmer Valderrama on “Stay With Us.”

My Thoughts

Uncommon Type is a collection of fictional stories that all have one thing in common; they mention typewriters in one way or another. Now the machines aren’t the main focus of the stories (with the exception of one), but they are weaved into the stories briefly to tie them together.

I admit that I picked up this book on a whim, out of curiosity, being a life long fan of Tom Hanks. Although I would also like to add that I didn’t begin it with the highest expectations, after reading the description. With a 2.5 star rating, it is safe to say that I definitely did not love this book.

I struggled to finish the first story, as it just didn’t interest me and I didn’t care for the characters. Thankfully the second would keep my attention more. However I found that a pattern formed, going from some interest to little as I continued reading.  There wasn’t a single short story that I would have given a rating over 3 stars.

My rating was based solely on my own personal interest in the content and not the ability of the author. Because in reality Tom Hanks isn’t a bad writer. Each story was authentic to Hank’s voice, his own interests and personality.

Unfortunately I think that I would have enjoyed an autobiography written by Tom Hanks, than this collection of short stories. However I would recommend it to others.

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

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.

 

 

Book Reviews · Read-a-thons · Recommendations

The Hangman (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #6.5) by Louise Penny


The Hangman (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #6.5)

By: Louise Penny

Published: 2010
Published by: Grass Roots Press

Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Mystery, Short Story, Series 

Rating: 3.5/5
♥♥♥.5

Synopsis

While out on a morning jog in the woods a man stumbles across the body of a man hung from a tree. What looked like a suicide is determined to be much more and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to the small secluded town to investigate.

My Thoughts

The Hangman is part of a collection of short stories that is geared towards encouraging people to read. At under 100 pages, I picked this up for a read-a-thon and flew through it.

The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series has been on my TBR for quite a while now, so I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this at my local library.

This was a fairly simple story, in the ‘locked room’ style. However instead of a ‘locked room’ it was set in a secluded town called Three Pines. The author included a detailed backstory for the suspects that fit well into its short length. Although I did enjoy it, I wish that there were more clues throughout instead of having the reader find out many facts when the truth is revealed. I am hopeful that the full length installments for the Armand Gamache series will allow for more of a build up.

I recommend The Hangman to mystery fans who are looking for a quick read.

Book Reviews

The Islands of Doctor Thomas by Francoise Enguehard

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The Islands of Doctor Thomas
By Francoise Enguehard

 

 

Published: 2009
Published By: Breakwater Books

Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Canadian Literature

Rating: 3/5
♥♥♥

Synopsis

A successful architect returns to his childhood island home; St. Pierre et Miquelon. There he and a young family friend become fascinated with the discovery of a collection of photographs by a Dr. Louis Thomas dating back to 1913.

My Thoughts

I came across The Islands of Doctor Thomas at my local library and was intrigued by the setting. While St. Pierre et Miquelon are French islands, they are located very close to Newfoundland on the Atlantic Ocean. Even though it is on my bucket list to visit, I know very little about them.

So naturally this book interested me from a geographical point of view. It also compared the culture of these islands and how they differ and compare to that of France and North America (specifically Newfoundland).

The authors writing style (which was translated from French) is reflective and rich in metaphors. The story is very connected to the nature of the islands and the mood of those who live there.

Although the overall tone was quite melancholy it was still beautifully written. Unfortunately some of these traits went over my head and I don’t think that I was able to truly appreciate the meaning behind Enguehard’s words.

I would recommend The Islands of Doctor Thomas to those who enjoy literary fiction.

 

Currently Reading · Personal Post · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: August 2017

September 1st already! Wow this summer just flew by.

Here are some of my high’s and low’s in August…

  • I decided to move on from my first blog Melissa Lee’s Many Reads and create a fresh new start here on WordPress with ML’s Red House Reviews.
  • I’m pretty sure my laptop bit the dust. So I’m writing this post on my Dad’s computer, so I apologize for the lack of creativity in this wrap-up. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that I didn’t lose all my files and photos.
  • I had my best reading month so far this year.
  • Joined a local Mommy group and have met some wonderful ladies.
  • Charles turned 4 months old. He is such a happy baby and loves to babble and laugh.
  • Spent most of the month of August nursing a bad back, which is never fun. It is even less fun when you have a little one to care for.

Now lets talk books..

Books Completed

2 of these books were re-reads and the other 2 were for Bout of Books, which I failed miserably.

♥♥♥ 3/5
The Luxe ( Luxe, #1) by Anna Godbersen
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA Lit
RE-READ

♥♥♥3/5
The Islands of Doctor Thomas by Franchoise Enguehard
Genre: Canadian Literature

♥♥♥♥ 4/5
The Hangman (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #6.5) by Louise Penny
Genre: Mystery, Short Story

♥♥♥♥♥4/5
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3) by JK Rowling 
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
RE-READ

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 4
Total Number of Fiction: 4
Total Number of Non-fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 0
Total Books Read From My Shelves: 2
Total Library Books Read: 2

Formats Read
Physical Books: 4
eBooks: 0
Audio Books: 0

Total Books Read in 2017: 19

Currently Reading

10468550

 

 

I hope you all had a wonderful summer and wishing you all the best in September.