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 · Recommendations

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird
By: A.J. Pearce

Published: July, 2018
Published by: Scribner
Format Read: Trade Paperback, Library Book
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

 

Synopsis

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 Thoughts

AJ Pearce’s debut novel Dear Mrs. Bird is a world war II historical fiction set during the London blitz. Although it does focus on the terrors of living in a city at war, it is written with typical British humor that is rare for this genre. I immediately took to Pearce’s style of writing and was reminded of more contemporary authors.

Dear Mrs. Bird was an entertaining read with a main character bursting with optimism. Along with such themes as friendship, morals and dreams it also brought gems of wisdom courtesy of Emmy’s mother. Some of my favorite quotes include:

“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.”
I would highly recommend Dear Mrs. Bird and hope to read more from this author in the future.
Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Book Review: Deadly Voyage

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

Deadly Voyage: RMS Titanic, Jamie Laidlaw, April 14, 1912 (I am Canada)
By: Hugh Brewster

Published: September, 2011
Published by: Scholastic Canada
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Canadian Fiction

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Jamie Laidlaw is returning to Canada from England aboard the Titanic. In his four days on board, he busies himself with new friends, finding ways to explore the ship’s forbidden areas, and generally landing himself in trouble.
When disaster strikes and the horrifying scramble for survival ensues, Jamie is on the front lines — struggling to help free the lifeboats and get people on board them. When a huge wave washes over the ship’s sloping deck, it’s time for Jamie to take action — and take his fate into his own hands. With hundreds of others, he dives into the sea, hoping he will find a way to survive.
Since its launch in Fall 2010, the I Am Canada series has been praised for its accurate and energetic exploration of fascinating moments in Canadian history, through the eyes of young men who lived through them. In Deadly Voyage, awardwinning
author and noted Titanic historian Hugh Brewster draws from his vast knowledge of that fateful journey to create an enthralling tale of historical fiction — the ultimate adventure, whose terrifying end we know all too well.

My Thoughts

For young readers who are interested in learning more about historical events and time periods, there are several different series that offer fictional retellings from the perspective of children their age. In Hugh Brewster’s Deadly Voyage, which is apart of the I am Canada series, he tackles the sinking of the Titanic.

Readers follow a young Canadian boy named Jamie Laidlaw as he embarks upon the maiden voyage of the ship. It felt as if we were being taken on a private tour along with the man whose photos of the Titanic would become famous; Father Frank Browne. Some of these photos are included in the back of the book, among other bonus material. Jamie would also encounter other characters based on real people including; the Astor’s and the Molson’s.

The foreshadowing and superstitions many passengers had was interesting and eerie. As someone who has had a longtime fascination with the sinking of the Titanic, I appreciated the coverage of the events that occurred after the tragedy, including being rescued by the Carpathia and resulting inquiries.

I would highly recommend Deadly Voyage to middle grade readers and Titanic enthusiasts. I hope to have the opportunity to read more from the I Am Canada 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.
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.

Recommendations · Tags

Halloween Candy Book Tag

Halloween (1)

To celebrate one of the most candy filled days of the year I thought I’d share this fun tag that is making its rounds in the blog-o-sphere. The Halloween Candy Book tag was originally created by Angela’s Library.

Swedish Fish: A book with a nautical theme.

The Light-Keeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol 

 

Gushers: A book that made me cry.

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

 

Milky Way: A book set in outer space.

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel 

 

Hershey Kiss: A book with a sweet romance.

The Woman Who Wouldn’t by Gene Wilder 

 

Skittles: A book with diverse characters.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 

 

Pixie Stix: A book that re-imagines a familiar fairy tale.

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton 

 

KitKat: A lighthearted book to read when you need a break.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

 

Snickers: A book that made me laugh out loud.

Summer at Sea by Beth Labonte 

 

3 Musketeers: A book featuring a great friendship.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Ann Brashares 

 

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.

Recommendations · Tags

The Fall Book Tag

 

1
The Fall Book Tag was created by Bionic Book Worm

Crisp Fall Air
A book that felt fresh and new.


The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Howling Winds
An ending that blew you away

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Leaf Fight
A book with non-stop action


Breaking the Story by Ashley Farley

Pumpkin Spice
Your most anticipated read


The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

Comfy Sweaters
A book that gave you the warm fuzzies


The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Bright Colours
A cover with either red, orange or yellow.

Four to Score (Stephanie Plum, #4) by Janet Evanovich