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.
Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: October 2018

Total Books Read in October: 5
Total Books Read in 2018: 29

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 4/5

 

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler 
Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
My Rating: 2.5/5

 

Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness Mystery, #1) by Rhys Bowen
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Series
My Rating: 3.5/5

 

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol 
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 5/5

Toward the Sunrise (Until the Dawn 0.5) by Elizabeth Camden
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance
My Rating: 2.5/5
Quick Thoughts: Toward the Sunrise was a quick novella introducing some of the characters in Elizabeth Camden’s Until the Dawn series. I enjoyed the historical setting as well as the brief parts set in New York City. The romance was just alright, but I found the main character to be entitled and overly bold. I have yet to decide if I will continue on with this series.

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 5
Total Number of Fiction: 5
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 0
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 2
Total Library Books Read: 3

 

Formats Read

Physical Books: 1
eBooks: 4
Audio Books: 0

 

Currently Reading

 

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Book Review: Luke and Lottie; It’s Halloween! By Ruth Wielockx

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

Luke and Lottie. It’s Halloween!
By: Ruth Wielockx

Published: August 2018
Published By: Clavis Publishing
Format Read: PDF, NetGalley
Genre: Children, Picture Books

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

It’s Halloween! The twins Luke and Lottie are so excited.They are going trick-or-treating!
A cheerful and simple story about Halloween.For brave ghosts and witches ages 3 and up.

I downloaded a copy of Luke ad Lottie. It’s Halloween by Ruth Wielockx, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts

Luke and Lottie is a fun story about twin siblings enjoying the Halloween festivities. Colourful illustrations show the children as they dress up in their costumes, do some holiday baking and of course, go trick or treating. Young children will love the pictures and the story will add to their excitement for the spooky-est day of the year. Parents will enjoy Luke and Lottie. It’s Halloween because it will bring back fond memories of traditions that have been carried on through the years.

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 · Recommendations

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
By: Becky Albertalli

Published: January, 2018
Published by: Balzer + Bray 
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance

Rating: 3.5/5
♥♥♥.5

 

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My Thoughts

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is an award winning YA novel about a closeted homosexual teenage boy and his first love. This was my first time reading a male/male romance and I found it to be quite cute and innocent. I think that there will be a lot of people who could relate to Simon’s character.

Unfortunately I felt quite underwhelmed by this novel. I had heard so much hype about how wonderful it was, that it was one of my most highly anticipated books to read. However, in my opinion it was just an okay story. I didn’t absolutely love it like I thought I would, which was disappointing. Hopefully I will enjoy the movie adaptation more.

Still I think it is a decent book, with a good message and I would recommend it to fans of Young Adult LGBT fiction.

Note: I read the movie tie-in edition of this novel, which featured bonus content including; excerpts, an interview and photos from the movie.

Book Reviews · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: September 2018

Total Books Read in September: 4
Total Books Read in 2018: 24

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1) by Jacqueline Winspear
Narrated by: Rita Barrington
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Series
My Rating: 4/5

 

The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens 
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 2/5
Quick Thoughts: Peter Behrens The Law of Dreams follows an orphaned boy during the Irish potato famine, as he forges a new life for himself. Many historical fiction novels I’ve read doesn’t delve far into why immigrants leave them homelands. However this book did and for that I found it interesting. Unfortunately I struggled with some of the disturbing content and found it quite long. I didn’t feel as if I got to know our main character as well as the people he came across on his journey.

 

Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
My Rating: 3.5/5

 

Deadly Voyage: R.M.S. Titanic, Jamie Laidlaw, April 14, 1912 by High Brewster
Genre: Middle-grade, Historical Fiction
My Rating: 4/5

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: 3
Total Library Books Read: 1

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks: 1
Audio Books: 1

 

Currently Reading

 

October TBR

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

The Perfect Mother
By Aimee Molloy

Published: May 2018
Published by: HarperLuxe
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

My Thoughts

The Perfect Mother was an enjoyable mystery that I flew through. As newer mother, I found that I could relate to a lot of the emotions the women felt postpartum and how overwhelming life with a newborn can become. I too even joined a local mommy group, like they did in this novel. Thankfully I’ve met some wonderful people, however, unfortunately the plot of this story isn’t quite so far fetched as it may initially sound.

Several times while reading The Perfect Mother, I thought I had the mystery solved, but then a twist would send me off in another direction. Even though I wasn’t able to perfectly predict the outcome, I didn’t find the ending to be quite as suspenseful or thrilling as I anticipated.

I would recommend Aimee Molloy’s The Perfect Mother to fans of contemporary mysteries.

Book Reviews · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: August 2018

Total Books Read in August: 3
Total Books Read in 2018: 20

Tide and Tempest (Edge of Freedom, #3)
By: Elizabeth Ludwig
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
My Rating: 3/5
Quick thoughts: Tide and Tempest was an interesting end to the Edge of Freedom series. I enjoyed the time period, New York city setting and being reunited with characters from the previous two novels. However this wasn’t my favourite book in the trilogy as I didn’t find the main characters to be as interesting as others. I also felt that the end was rushed. I would still recommend Elizabeth Ludwig’s novels to fans of Christian historical fiction.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
By: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
My Rating: 3/5

 

An Amish Kitchen
By: Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Kelly Long
Narrated by: Heather Henderson
Genre: Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction
My Rating: 4/5

 

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: 2
Total Library Books Read: 1

Formats Read

Physical Books: 1
eBooks: 1
Audio Books: 1

Currently Reading

 

September TBR

 

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.