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Cascade: A Novel by Maryanne O'Hara
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Dramatic
Mesmerizing

Cascade....a depression town that lost its playhouse. A playhouse that was a wedding gift to Asa by his father-in-law, William Hart, when he married his daughter Dez. Dez, who married not for love, but because she had no place to live and no money so she settled for Asa.

Dez didn't realize that marrying Asa was a mistake until she wanted to be with another man and wanted to pursue her art career. Dez and Jacob had more in common than she and her husband did...Jacob was an artist and Asa was a pharmacist who didn't have the same passions or want the same things out of life that Dez did.

Asa and Dez were the main characters and had the main role in what was hanging over the heads of every citizen of Cascade. The citizens didn't know whether their town was going to be turned into a reservoir for Boston or if the town would be brought back to life by the re-opening of the playhouse that would bring people back to the town and that would fulfill William Hart's dreams. The playhouse was what held the town together and was one of the major themes in CASCADE.

The book was a perfectly modeled description of this era, and the characters were authentic for the time period. The depression-era wives were portrayed as wives that cooked, ironed, and were there when their husbands arrived home at night after work. The town with its pharmacy and snack bar was perfectly represented as you picture the counter, the food, and the customers as you know they were at that time....very enjoyable.

Each character had special qualities that kept your interest. Dez was a very likable character, but one that needed to be more realistic and to realize she was in the best place she could be socially and marriage wise, but she thankfully didn't see that and had other dreams. Asa was a bit unlikeable because of his aloofness to his wife and other characters. Jacob was representated as loveable, but one that caused heartache to Dez her entire life.

Ms.O'Hara's descriptions of the simplest things such as window blinds, building facades, landscapes, and even wooden floors were skillfully carried out. Her descriptions of facial features and feelings were vividly pictured. The reader definitely will become a part of each character, the town's problem, and specifically the fragility of Asa and Dez's relationship....it seemed as though the story was purposely "painted" dramatically and theatrically for the reader along with a well-thought out, "flowing "plot.

You as a reader also undeniably cannot ignore the gorgeous cover that brings together the two most poignant features of the book....the river and Dez who mesmerize and represent the basis of the book. The author explained the cover's meaning to me as this: "The Penguin Art Department created the cover... the idea being that the cascading waterfall is a metaphor for all the turmoil going on in her head, as well as being a beautiful 'piece of art.' "

CASCADE is a beautiful book that will definitely make you think and will remain with you long after you turn the last page. It is a book about life's choices and decisions. Don't let the slow start keep you from continuing. The entire book is as spectacular as its cover. 5/5

This book was given to me by the author without compensation in return for an honest review.

The Orchardist: A Novel by Amanda Coplin
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Insightful, Gloomy
The Orchardist

To lose your mother and then your sister in an already lonely, abandoned land made Talmadge the person he was. He had his orchards and his kindness to keep him going.

Talmadge lived alone in his family home that really had no family except Talmadge until one day two girls, Jane and Della, arrived on his land and began stealing his fruit. Talmadge let them steal the fruit, and he also fed them. They stayed away from him for the most part and only made an appearance when he put food out for them. Both girls were pregnant, and Talmadge had the midwife stop by to try to get the girls to warm up to her since they would be needing her.

These girls became his family or the best semblance of what a family could be. The book follows Talmadge through the stages of the girls\\\' lives and how their being present in his life helped him be happy as well as allow him to experience the heartache of their growing up and his being a concerned parent. His concern for Della became an obsession.

As you continue reading, you will become extremely involved in the plot and the lives of each character. You will become attached to Talmadge, Della, Caroline, and Angelene and hope things turn out for all of them. Talmadge was an odd person and one you would like to tell to wake up even though he was such a good person. Caroline was the character who held everyone together. Della was not a likable character. And wonderful Angelene was adorable, kind, and a character you will fall in love with.

The book had marvelous descriptions of feelings, landscapes, and characters. It was beautifully written for a first novel. It was as outstanding in writing style, interest, and development of the story and characters as a seasoned author.

I can\\\'t give enough praise for this book. It was touching, tender, brilliantly written, mesmerizing, and one you will remember long after you turn the last page.

THE ORCHARDIST is not an uplifting book but the prose and the storyline are so exceptional that regardless of the book\\\'s mood it instantly grips you. 5/5

This book was given to be free of charge by the publisher without compensation for a blog tour with TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
The Kitchen House

I absolutely loved this book...couldn't put it down.

You will fall in love with the characters and share their joy, sadness, triumphs, and defeats...you will want to be right there with the ladies in the kitchen house preparing meals and being loved by them.

The book is during the time of plantation owners and slavery. On his boat trip back from Ireland, James Pyke brought Lavinia with him...she is a seven-year-old white child whose parents died on the boat during the return trip.

Lavinia is sent to work in the Kitchen House, and the black families learn to love her and she learns to love them as the only family she knows...her memory is gone when she arrives and remembers nothing about her parents and her childhood.

Lavinia works alongside the ladies in the Kitchen House and then learns to take care of the Mistress of house's new born baby...the Mistress begins to teach Lavinia how to read and write. Lavinia is the main character along with Belle, Mama Mae and Papa George and of course the harsh plantation owners

The book takes you through the loyalties the black families have for each other and their Master and his family. It also makes your heart ache at the truths of what really occurred on the plantations concerning the relationship between the slaves and the plantation owners.

A lot of tragedies throughout the story, a terrific account of occurrences, excellent depictions of the surroundings and people.

Through the author's wonderful descriptions, you feel you are right there......the novel is fabulously written.

If you loved THE HELP, you will love this book as well or you may like it even more.

ENJOY!!!! It is wonderful.

I received this book from the publisher free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
The Secret Keeper

To be sixteen, to witness a murder, and to keep it a secret your entire life? When would Laurel find out the "real" reason for the murder. After fifty years, she needed to ask, but could she really find the answer? She had to. Time was running out.

Set in England and moving from the 1930's to 2011, you will follow Laurel as she continues to keep this secret and attempts to find out why her mother stabbed a visitor on her brother's birthday. Did the baby see or remember anything? Could that be possible? What if he did remember? Laurel, her father, and her mother were the only ones that were supposed to know, but were they?

The storyline is intriguing and the descriptions are amazing as you go back and forth in time to see what Laurel's mother's life was like as a child and also as a young adult and what life was like for Laurel, her sisters, and her brother as they grew up on a quaint farm in a loving family. Dorothy, Laurel's mother, lead a very significant life and had interesting people in her life that shaped her and her decisions.

The book seamlessly moves between time periods giving creative details of each era in the characters' lives and has you wanting to know more. An amazing storyline that keeps you guessing about the real reason for the murder and one that makes you want to be a part of the story in order to be part of the life the characters lead in each decade of their lives.

Finding out about her mother's motives and life before she was married was a goal Laurel was determined to solve before her mother died, and her mother is the only one who could give the answers to many questions, but could their dying mother tell all? Once clues about Dorothy's past begin to surface, you will be as anxious as Laurel was to find out other secrets her mother kept to herself all her life and secrets that caused her mother to commit murder.

This book was marvelous and captivating as all of Kate Morton's books, and the ending is absolutely SUPERB.

I thoroughly enjoyed the walk through Laurel's life and the flashbacks to her mother's life. Don't miss this book or any book Kate Morton has written...you will be taken away with her exceptional writing and fantastic storytelling skills as she weaves lives and situations together into incredible books. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Interesting
The Language of Flowers

Victoria knew she could identify flowers and what effect they would have on a person. She could choose flowers and know what emotion they would evoke and what the person receiving the flowers needed.

Victoria had a talent, but she was a foster child moving from one home to the next and had to deal with this ordeal first......then she turned 18 and was turned out of the foster care system and on her own. Where would she go and what would she do now? After sleeping in the woods for some time, hunger and cold made her walk boldly into a flower shop and ask to help the florist. This was the beginning of a great relationship between Victoria and her talent with flowers....it had instinctively been developed in her and was a natural gift.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh....the book was absolutely wonderful and beautifully written. I totally and completely LOVED it.
You could definitely connect with Victoria even though she was a mean, angry foster child until she met her loving foster mother, Elizabeth. It was amazing how Victoria changed into someone who was in tune with feelings and something as delicate as flowers because of Elizabeth. Elizabeth also had a secret, and the mystery thrown in kept you wondering what had happened in the past.
The book became better with each turn of the page. It was exceptional in terms of writing and storyline. I enjoyed how smoothly the book went from Victoria's childhood to the present.
To me this book stood for unconditional love, for hardship, for talent, for disappointment, and for working for what you really want.
I can definitely see why it is being considered the publishing event of 2011......it is indescribably incredible.

The Aviator's Wife: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Aviator's Wife

Anne Morrow the quiet, unassuming daughter. Anne Morrow the shy sister of Elisabeth Morrow who hid in Elisabeth's shadow. Anne Morrow the woman no one thought would marry before her beautiful sister, Elisabeth married. Anne Morrow.....who did marry and who married a famous man....Charles Lindbergh, behind whom she continued to be a shadow.

Anne's life was beautifully detailed by Ms. Benjamin in terms of Anne's feelings and personality especially during the kidnapping. The era was nicely portrayed as well. It covered how women from wealthy families went to prestigious schools and never used their education, but were expected to be the perfect wife and mother. Ms. Benjamin will definitely get you involved in the story through her outstanding, exceptional, in-depth writing style.

I enjoyed reading about the era and about Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh. I would not have wanted to live Anne's life, though...she had no life of her own per say. She had to follow Charles on his adventures, be his wife, be in the public eye, and heartbreakingly leave her children. Despite all of this, she willingly allowed him to control her and willingly backed him no matter what. Anne did come out of the shadows as she aged and was actually a very strong woman.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but don't think a man would enjoy it simply because of the domestic factors and the details of Anne Morrow's family and all of their lives. It is more geared toward women and the feelings and beliefs we as women share and that we like to know about other women's lives....especially famous ones. Anne, Charles, and the Morrow family led very interesting lives. I, as I am sure you will do, found myself looking up information on the life of the Morrows and Lindberghs just as the author said we would. :) ENJOY!!! 5/5

I won this book in a giveaway on LibraryThing with no compensation and simply a request for an honest review.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Optimistic
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Who would think that taking a 500-mile walk would bring all one's emotions to a head and invite self-reflection as well as regret?

Harold Fry never knew that a letter from an old friend would elicit so many emotions, and he never would have thought he would do what he was doing or how he was doing the 500-mile walk to his friend Queenie who was dying of cancer.

As you are reading about Harold's walking and his promise, you are probably asking yourself this question as I did: Why in the world is he continuing on this journey when it is becoming impossible to walk and to fulfill his promise. I would have accepted any ride that was offered. :) Harold did meet a number of interesting people, though, and his wife who was left at home was making friendships and regretting that she and Harold had never had a deep relationship.

The adjective, MARVELOUS, on the ARC's book cover undeniably describes this book. Additional adjectives such as SPECTACULAR and SPLENDID would also be revealing terms. The author made this mundane topic of a 500-mile walk to see a friend not mundane at all. Ms. Joyce had beautiful descriptions of landscapes, feelings, conversations, and thoughts about friendship and family. She drew you right into the book from page one.

You will find that this read is very profound and thought-provoking. Nothing but praise for this remarkable book....the characters and the storyline are exceptional.

The book is also a tribute to the decency of the human race for their concern and their support of a cause a fellow human being believed in. This book is also an inspiring emotional ride...have tissues handy and be prepared to be thinking about your own life....the regrets as well as the pleasures. 5/5

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Burgess Boys: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout
 
Interesting, Slow, Insightful
The Burgess Boys

The BURGESS BOYS is a journey into the lives of Jim, Bob, and Susan Burgess. They were brothers and sister whose relationship with each other fell apart after their mother died.

THE BURGESS BOYS centered on family, feelings, secrets, lies, and on Zachary's being disrespectful of Somali immigrants which caused problems for the Burgess family who already had many problems of their own. You will feel the tension among the three siblings as they try to solve this dilemma, and you will also see how it brings them closer.

Jim and Bob had become courtroom attorneys with Jim being the more successful one. Bob left the courtroom and went to the appeals court, and Susan is the one who stayed in their hometown and is now burdened with what her son did. She definitely needed her attorney brothers for this situation. She preferred Jim but Bob had to help her with Zachary's problem.

When Bob arrived at his twin sister's house, he didn't like what he found in terms of how Susan lived. He was sure this didn't help with how quiet and withdrawn Zachary seemed. Jim finally did intervene with the courts, and thought he had helped, but he wasn't too happy about helping his sister get her son out of this mess. As usual, Bob was in the middle of it all or completely left out.

The interaction of the main characters was very well done. Bob and Jim definitely were portrayed as rivaling siblings with Jim being the cruel one as he threw barbs and cruel comments at Bob. This wasn't anything different from their childhood, though. Their sister remained the sister in the background.

I enjoyed the great descriptions and well-developed characters Ms. Strout employed, but I wasn't a great fan of the storyline. I really was looking forward to this read and am a bit disappointed. THE BURGESS BOYS seemed to be a bit slow even though it was interesting to learn about the legal system and the life of the Somali people.

The ending focused on the Burgess children as adults thinking about their lives and alluded to the fact that your childhood shapes you as an adult in terms of how you feel about yourself and your life choices. I do have to say THE BURGESS BOYS did touch on some good subjects.

I can't say it was my favorite read, but it wasn't my least favorite. The major problem for me was the type of book it was. I like more of a saga. To me it seemed more like stating facts or a narrative.

The book did get better in the last 100 pages, but to me it still was not that interesting and was a little disorganized. 3/5

This book was given to me from a win on LibraryThing and the publisher without compensation in return for an honest review.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Adventurous
The Forgotten Garden

I would give this book a 10 if I could. Loved it...absolutely amazing....the writing is a masterpiece.

All the mysteries and secrets of the Mountrachet family are revealed....the ending is superb.

The story goes back and forth in time telling the story of how little Nell was put on a boat to Australia without an adult and how the portmaster and his wife in Australia took her in as their own. Nell's life makes a complete turn around for her when her father tells her on her 21st birthday that she isn't really his child.

The book tells of the generations before and after Nell. It is masterfully written...you don't want to put it down until you find out who Nell really is and until you find all the secrets about how she arrived on the boat and in Australia and the significance of the forgotten garden....the garden plays a huge part in the unraveling of the secrets and mysteries in the book.

I usually don't re-read books, but I would re-read this just to be sure I "got" all the facts straight...it was just fantastic....the story was very clever and the characters unforgettable....I didn't want the book to end.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Fun, Insightful
The Weird Sisters

Three sisters, three different outlooks on life, three different opinions about working, three different attitudes concerning just about everything, but they all had the same reason for coming home.....their mother needed help because of her breast cancer.


Rose was the practical, organized sister, Bean was the attorney turned thief, and Cordy was still the spoiled child she always was. They all had some secret or concern as they returned to their childhood home.

Their childhood home was one of love, of books, and Shakespearean quotes....the entire family quoted Shakespeare as they spoke and thought nothing of doing so. None of the girls was ever without a book in her hands.

Just as in childhood, the adult lives of each sister went opposite ways in terms of interest and responsibility, but their love and concern for each other was evident. The emotions of the characters and the descriptions of situations especially during childhood flashbacks was perfectly depicted allowing the reader to experience the hominess of small town connections and the nostalgia of coming back to your roots.

You will enjoy each sister for her strengths and shortcomings, and you will admire their parents for their love of each other and for the love of reading they instilled in their daughters.

I really enjoyed this book...if you have sisters, you will cherish it, and you will most likely be comparing these characters to see which sister you are!! If you don't have sisters, the bond between all the characters will "warm your heart" and have you thinking about your own family and sibling relationships. 5/5

P. S. The Three Witches or Weird Sisters are characters in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth (c. 1603–1607)...information taken from Wikipedia.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Orphan Train

Two women from different eras but with similar life stories. How will that friendship progress?

You will be mesmerized by this book that is based on a true part of American history. ORPHAN TRAIN has magnificent detail and a wonderful storyline. I was pulled in within five pages. The two alternating time periods telling about the lives of Vivian and Molly is beautifully told. They are two appealing and well-developed characters that you want to know more about and won't be disappointed in what you find.

This book addresses the life of orphans who arrived in the Midwest in the late 1920's on the orphan train that originated in New York and how they are treated as second class citizens by most of the adopted families. It is told with enthusiasm and genuine compassion along with the detailing of feelings.

You will feel the despair and helplessness of "Dorothy" as she moves from one household to another with the second one being worse than the first. The beautiful prose carries you along. It makes you think about what is important in life and what you should keep with you and what you should leave behind and let go.

This book will pull at your heart strings and keep you up because you won't want to stop reading. It brings two generations together each with good and bad memories to share. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a part of history I wasn’t aware of and with the added bonus of Ms. Kline's incredible writing style.

Don’t miss this splendid book. You will fall in love with both main characters and wish you could be there with them as you learn about a not-often discussed part of American history. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Informative
One Thousand White Women

Loved the book...it is in journal form and tells of how the government asked the American Indians to trade one thousand white women for horses...their main reason was to "civilize" the Indians and make them aware of and become familiar with the white people's way of life.

Very interesting book...topic not as bad as it sounds.

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Informative, Beautiful
The Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Oai deki te ureshii desu ....How are you today, beautiful?

That quote from the book says it all....what an incredible, heartfelt, interesting story...this book is set during during World War II and is about the childhood love of a Japanese girl and a Chinese boy during World War II and takes place specifically during the encampment of the Japanese people who lived in Seattle, Washington...it will keep your interest and teach you some history...I learned about The Panama Hotel in Seattle, Washington.

It also is about the conflict between Henry and his Chinese father and the beauty of friendships...it also has some music facts in it for all you jazz fans.

I don't want to give too much away, but it is a nostalgic book and one you will want to tell others about....it is similar to Snow Falling on Cedars.

You will absolutely enjoy it and love it. I loved the story and the lessons learned.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Mudbound

Laura was 30 years old, a teacher, and unmarried....not good according to Mississippi's social crowd. A woman her age should be married and have children. She was embarrassed about it, and her mother didn't help with her comments.

One day, though, Henry came to dinner and "saved" Laura from all the embarrassment. He asked her to marry him. She willing did and was happy. The happiness waned when Henry bought a farm to fulfill his lifelong dream of planting cotton along with a farmhouse with no running water, no plumbing, or electricity. Laura's life had hardships she was not used to, but she endured.

The book was compelling...the chapters were divided into the description of and the tales of the main characters' lives, past and present. Mudbound was a portrayal of what life was like in Mississippi in the 1940's during and after WWII...the racial prejudices, the country re-building after the men came back from the war, the social issues, and the everyday life of Southern families, both black and white.

The author's style is outstanding....you won't want to put the book down. The plot's tension and ultimate horror along with the characters will keep coming back to you even after you turn the last page. 5/5

Cutting for Stone: A Novel by Abraham Verghese
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
Cutting For Stone

The story of Shiva and Marion Stone will stay with you long after you turn the last page. It is an unforgettable tale of Siamese twins and their accomplishments, trials, heartbreaks, triumphs, and undeniable bond. Their Ethiopian family's ties and closeness make up the main theme as we also get a glimpse into medical terminology and procedures. It is an immersion into a way of life wrought by strife, war, dedicated doctors, and suffering citizens.

Cutting for Stone is a remarkable book with unforgettable characters. Once you have read the book, you will realize how amazing our health care system is in the United States . You will also realize that there are committed, talented doctors all around the world that do the best they can with what they have in terms of equipment and supplies.

Don't give up because of the lengthy, detailed explanations and slow-moving beginning. As you become attached to the characters, the story unfolds and becomes one you will be glad you didn't put aside. The book is incredible. 4/5 only because of the LENGTHY beginning.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Interesting
An Invisible Thread

Maurice had never met anyone like Laura and Laura had never met anyone like Maurice. They were from two different worlds. Laura doesn\\\'t know why she stopped and turned back after Maurice asked her for some money, but she is glad she did.

Through Maurice, Laura learned about the life he and thousands of others were living on a daily basis....not a pleasant life at all. Laura was helping Maurice to live a better life at least one day a week, and it seemed to be paying off since she could see a change in him even though he had to go back to his horrible living conditions after he left her.

As well as learning about the living conditions of others, the author also gave the reader a chance to find out that her childhood/family life was not very easy.....her father was an abusive alcoholic, and her mother sat by not being able to defend herself or her children. Obviously the author\\\'s childhood and the childhood of her brothers and sisters had an impact on their entire life and on her decision to turn back and fulfill Maurice’s plea for help.
The descriptions in the book are very detailed and heartbreaking but also heartwarming. You will become a part of the lives of every character and you will feel their pain and happiness.
An Invisible Thread is the perfect title for this book. The book brought to the surface that we all have a connection to other human beings even though that connection may not be outwardly visible.
I truly enjoyed the book because of the honesty of feelings and of human kindness and human connection. This is a must read. Laura Schroff is a brave woman to reveal all this about her life, but it definitely will make you realize that no matter how small the gesture may be, we can make a difference for someone else. 5/5

The Death of Bees: A Novel by Lisa O'Donnell
 
Gloomy, Dark
The Death of Bees

If you ever wondered what a dysfunctional family was, read THE DEATH OF BEES, and you will no longer be wondering.

Marnie and Nelly lived with their parents who were not married and who never paid attention to them. They were too busy being on drugs and selling drugs. The girls had to take care of themselves and were always left alone. Then one day they were truly alone...their parents went missing and never returned. The girls knew what happened to them, but they couldn\\\'t tell anyone. Their neighbor Lennie saw their parents had been gone for a long time and instinctively knew they wouldn\\\'t return so he stepped in to help. Lennie had issues of his own.

The book was somewhat disconnected and shared all the awful things that normally occur in a dysfunctional family. The author portrays scenes very vividly and leaves nothing to the imagination. She lets every detail of the family\\\'s life out in the open for all to see and does it cleverly by having each chapter\\\'s contents be the voice of one of the characters. I believe she was making the reader aware of how often this type of life happens more than we know and what many children live with on a daily basis. She was also showing that the cycle continues from generation to generation.

Despite the author\\\'s attempt of trying to enlighten what we as a civil society do not want to face, this book definitely would not be good for young adults. There is a lot of vulgarity, sexual situations, drug situations, tension between parent and child, and even murder. On a positive note, it does touch on strong friendships. If this book were being rated as a movie, I would give it an R rating.

It did get a little more interesting as the book continued, and there were some funny parts. You can\\\'t help laughing at the absurdity and utter unbelievability of some of the circumstances, but the book\\\'s disconnection with following the plot, the vulgarity, and the unpleasant, but informative topic makes me give the book a 3/5.

This book was given to me free of charge without compensation in exchange for an honest review.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
The Thirteenth Tale

I recommend this to everyone who asks.

Great read...gothic, murder, mystery, twists and turns.

Vida Winters tells a great tale that will keep you interested non-stop. You don't want it to end. Loved the characters.

You will be confused and think you have it figured out and then ah ha....you were wrong.

I loved this book...I would put it in the same category as the classic: REBECCA

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Fun
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

You will love this book from the very first paragraph. It is about every woman's concerns from Day One of their worrying years. You will laugh and say to yourself...."oh my, how true." Or...."wow...that happened to me."

Each chapter had a topic that was very poignant and one that will make you reflect as you read through the incidents and facts. The chapter titled Generations and the chapter titled To Be Continued definitely brought tears to my eyes. Another chapter titled Older will make you laugh out loud.

Your emotions will be taken on a fun, wild ride with every chapter. Be prepared for tears and laughter as well as sound advice along with points to ponder...especially in the last chapter.

The book was factual but personal because it brought many private topics to light. Any woman over 50 should enjoy this book. Younger women may laugh, but may not get the full impact. It is a great, light read for the most part. Some comments especially about our children and the role they play in our lives really hit home and how we as women need each other to make it all happen for us.

The author also comments that it certainly is a blessing that we were born when we were and not when our mothers had been born and that each generation most probably will look back on some of the strides made and think that event wasn't a big deal because that had been happening for a while. Take the time to read and enjoy the book and your life....that is what Anna Quindlen taught me.

Live by Night: A Novel by Dennis Lehane
 
Live By Night

Prohibition, speakeasies, bank robberies, gangsters, mobsters, jail time, murders....LIVE BY NIGHT has it all. You will follow Joe Coughlin through his life as a privileged child, a gangster, and a mob boss.

Joe Coughlin is the son of Thomas Coughlin....the only problem is that Thomas is the Chief Deputy Superintendent of the Boston Police Department and his son is a criminal. Joe feels he and his buddies are invincible, but he finds out they are not. Joe has committed many robberies in his short life, but the last one did him in....he did jail time for this one. He could have prevented jail time and a beating, but he had to see his "girl" before he left town. He should have just left town....she did him in and caused him trouble until the end.

This book is about the Roaring 20's and life on both sides of the law. It is fast paced and lets you into that time period along with the characters. You will see that you won't know if you are friend or enemy even if you are in with the gang you are a part of. It is true to life and gives insight into how crime works behind the scenes. It is not a pretty read...you will be part of many mob killings and brutal scenes.

The beginning is interesting but the ending is somewhat slow and a bit tedious. It is not one of his better books...sometimes there is too much information, and the scenes seem to drag on. I really lost my interest about half way through the book, but kept reading because I know Mr. Lehane is an outstanding author and kept that in mind as I aimlessly kept turning the pages.

To his credit he has creative titles for each chapter with content that lives up to the chapter's heading. He has expressive, descriptive writing as always that brings that particular event, feelings, or person alive, but it lacks connectivity. At times, I was completely lost. I do have to wonder what he was thinking when he wrote this book....I am disappointed.

Going to rate it a 3/5.

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher with no compensation in return for an honest review.

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
 
Book Club Recommended
Looking For Me

We all have dreams...some are fulfilled, some are not. Teddi Overman knew she had a talent for refinishing antique furniture even though her mother told her there was no future in it. Her mother wanted her to be a secretary.

Teddi didn't want to be a secretary. Teddi pursued her dream but had reservations about leaving her family when she did. She was so far away from them, and since she had left secretly in the middle of the night and on a bad note, there was some regret on her part. Her decision was a good one in the long run, though.

LOOKING FOR ME is another spectacular read by Beth Hoffman. The book faces family issues, friendships, dreams, unearthed talents, tragedies, regret, and heartbreak, but also has wonderful lessons. You will need a kleenex as you follow Teddie Overman from her childhood to adulthood. You will share in her triumphs and also her let downs.

You will follow the Overman family as the book goes back and forth in time. Mama was an odd character who was always pessimistic. Teddi was loveable, hopeful, ambitious, optimistic, and a joy. Josh was a sad character. Daddy was a wonderful character. Grammy was the perfect grandmother. Stella and Olivia were perfect friends for Teddi.

The book is about memories....so important, yet so painful. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the setting, the storyline, and the lessons learned. The book was uplifting and sweet but will also bring tears to your eyes....good tears.

LOOKING FOR ME is about the relationship between family members and how tragedies can tear them apart and also about talents that we shouldn't waste. If you are an antique buff, you will be thrilled.

LOOKING FOR ME perfectly describes how we all are looking for something in our lives that usually takes root in our childhood. The quote from page 206 made an impression on me and seems to sum up what Ms. Hoffman was trying to convey:

"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave."

This quote stayed with me long after I turned the last page of the book.

The book is written in Ms. Hoffman's customary beautiful, effortless storytelling style. It conveys the fragility and beauty of family and the determination to never give up.

This is a must read so you can soak up the depth of, the warmth of, and the beauty of Ms. Hoffman's writing, and share in the benefit of her words of wisdom about being happy.

I absolutely loved this book. 5/5

This book was given to me by the author free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.

 
Book Club Recommended
Unconvincing, Interesting
The Book Of Tomorrow

Instead of rags to riches, Tamara Goodwin and her mother went from riches to rags. After Mr. Goodwin committed suicide they were penniless and went from a huge house to a small cottage that Tamara and her mother had to share with relatives.

Enduring her uncle's crude ways, tolerating her aunt's constant cooking and hovering, having no friends around, having nothing to do in this small town, and dealing with her mother's silence was not how Tamara wanted her days to be. Her aunt and uncle were quite bizarre and seemed to be hiding something. What it was Tamara had no idea. Everything was hush hush and Rosaleen seemed to hide behind her huge tables of food and Arthur said nothing about anything. Tamara wasn't a pleasant young lady to begin with, and this situation didn't improve her mood.

As mean as she was, Tamara was quite funny....always joking about things. She also kept looking back at her life and wondering if it really had been better when she was rich. There was a lot of introspection, and the characters' lives were paralleled with inanimate objects and thoughts. Tamara actually met interesting people in the town and discovered a history of the castle.

The main focus of the book was based on a diary Tamara found in a mobile library that stopped in "Hicksville" once a week. The diary was quite interesting as well as shocking because of the content. The content contained something hard to believe. She would read the diary every day and the next day it would be filled with pages of even more interest.

The book was skillfully written....the author has a great style. You can actually see the grimaces on the character's faces simply because of the wonderful description; you can also feel Tamara's frustration, and Rosaleen's fear of something.

The book was imaginative, creative, and a book that was difficult to put down.....a marvelous read. It also was magical and a little out of the ordinary. Being out of the ordinary made it unique, enjoyable, and appealing. I liked the characters for the most part, but they were an odd bunch, especially Rosaleen with her odd ideas and her secret ways of dealing with situations and people.

I would consider THE BOOK OF TOMORROW a light read but with undercurrents of secrets, revenge, and jealousy along with a web of deceit and all of it being nicely tied up in the surprise ending. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Gloomy, Dramatic
FANTASTIC - You won't be disappointed

William lost his mother but not to death. He knew in his heart that she was still alive and he would find her some day, but he had to escape from the orphanage to do that. He knew that there was a reason she abandoned him because his mother wouldn't have left him without a good reason.


William knew nothing of his mother's past but it didn't matter. He had to find her. He and his friend Charlotte planned how to escape from the orphanage to find her. William was a kind, sweet boy just like his mother. You will feel so sorry for Liu Song and William as well since he had to live without his mother for five years when she was actually alive and close by. Most of the characters were sad and unhappy, but the book is exceptional.


SONGS OF WILLOW FROST tells the tale of Liu Song and her life of sadness, loneliness, and betrayal. Her life was not pleasant. Liu Song had to endure hardship and a cruel stepfather who made her call him Uncle because he was disappointed and embarrassed that she wasn't a boy. She also had to live with the stigma that her mother who was onstage was deemed no better than a prostitute.


You will feel Liu Song's pain, hopelessness, and humiliation ooze through the pages as Mr. Ford beautifully weaves between past and present. Beautiful like the good heart of Liu Song.

You will be immersed in old-world traditions as you follow Liu Song through her day being treated as a slave instead of a daughter. You will feel her pain as the inevitable happened to her because of her step-father's visits at night and her sadness as she had to give up happiness. You will HATE Uncle Leo because he is the one who caused all of Liu Song's problems.

SONGS OF WILLOW FROST was skillfully written in Mr. Ford's descriptive, flowing style and also very heart wrenching. I felt myself wanting to push Liu Song to tell the truth about what really happened to her and to move on so she could have some happiness in her life instead of despair. Mr. Ford allows you to feel as though you are right there feeling the emotions and living the lives the characters are leading.

SONGS OF WILLOW FROST was about making decisions, living with regrets, and longing for what some folks have and what you were deprived of.

SONGS OF WILLOW FROST is haunting, heartbreaking, and hard to believe yet mesmerizing. Mr. Ford’s marvelous talent won’t disappoint in his second book. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon
 
Book Club Recommended
Ingenious

Can your childhood affect your entire life?

THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY connects the lives of three unrelated women. Three women with different backgrounds and different lives. Three women with pasts, secrets, and regrets. Three women wanting and needing something that they never had before and are desperately trying to find. Three women looking for answers and an answer to why and to what happened.

Micah, AnnaLee, and Livvie were somehow connected, but what was that connection? Had they met at one point in their lives and were not aware of their meeting?

Who is this woman in a silver dress and pearl-button shoes? Could she be the connection between the three women? The three women who all need basically the same things out of life. Three women who question their relationships and the relationships they really didn’t have with family and others they cared about.

The chapters detail the lives of each character with no lull in the story. Libby's story definitely is a mystery with the other women woven in. Micah's story has a health issue. AnnaLee's story has social issues.

You will love Livvie and Grace. Andrew won’t be your favorite. You won’t like Micah. AnnaLee will pull at your heartstrings because of her unhappiness. Micah was quite cruel, AnnaLee was not happy, and Livvie was always feeling guilty and afraid but was the sweetest character who grew from her hurt.

Each story is skillfully wrapped into one well-executed story that definitely is unique and will keep you turning the pages. The author is amazing in the way she smoothly takes you from one life to the other leaving a tidbit of information at the end of each chapter that kept you hanging until that character appeared again with the continuation of her story.

THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY is ingenious. The writing is flawless, descriptive, and will pull you right in. The ending will blow you away. If I can use one word to describe the book it would be: WOW!!

I hope you get to read THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY and share the love and the lessons found in each chapter. I absolutely loved the book. 5/5

This book was given to me at the BEA free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Flight Behavior: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting
Enlightening

Butterflies that changed someone's mind about an affair? Butterflies that have the entire country flocking to Knoxville, Tennessee?

Yes...butterflies may be what Dellarobia needed to change her boring farm life into something more exciting and something more inclined to her intelligence.

Migrating monarch butterflies and global warming were the main focus of FLIGHT BEHAVIOR. The word "flight" seemed to have two meanings in this book. To me it meant how Dellarobia was trying to flee the doldrums of her life as well as referring to the miracle of the flight of the monarch butterflies who instinctively knew where to go. Her life was never a pleasant one in terms of family and financial situations.

The book had deep meanings but to me I was seeing the surface of the book which focused on Dellarobia's life. The reader will follow Dellarobia through her daily life, her financial struggles, and the unpleasant living conditions she had. She had to live on her in-laws' farm and deal with her critical mother-in-law.

You will feel sorry for Dellarobia and will keep hoping something good will come out of the uproar the butterflies caused on the farm. Dellarobia is an endearing character you will want to talk to, try to help, and wish you could actually meet. Her mother-in-law was someone you wouldn’t want to meet. Her husband was indifferent about everything, and her children were sweet.

FLIGHT BEHAVIOR is an excellent read even though it took a few pages to get you hooked. The characters are what carried the book instead of the storyline. Characters who had a connection to each other but in reality were disconnected and made the book unique. Ms. Kingsolver's masterful writing and detailed descriptions will take you away and pull you right in.

Science buffs will thoroughly enjoy the butterfly research as well as Ovid, the head scientist. Overall the book was enjoyable, enlightening, and one that will make you think about your family, your life, your contribution to the world as a person, and how to improve yourself as well as the small part of the world that you inhabit. 4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review. I picked up this book at the BEA in June of 2013.

 
Book Club Recommended
A Page Turner

Can family history be repeated? Can murder be repeated and with the same weapon, the same manner of death, and to the same family member but years apart? Can it really be called a family curse?

The Krause family had a history of being difficult to get along with and with being abusive to their wives. When Kate married Joe, she wasn't aware of the history of the Krause men nor of the murder of her husband's great-great grandfather that caused a rift between the Krauses and the entire town.

Had her new husband kept all of this from her on purpose. She knew he had lied to her from the beginning when they arrived at their new home and his mother was there and there to stay. The Krause men expected their wives to obey them and not work outside the home. Kate didn't care if that was the Krause family tradition, she wasn't going to be a stay-at-home, old-fashioned wife.

Social issues were the main focus of THE WIDOWS OF BRAXTON COUNTY as well as the mystery about the murder of Kate's husband's great-great grandfather and then Kate’s husband. The murder affected the whole town both in 1890 and in 2012. Neighbors were still mad at each other after all these years because of the wrong doing about the murder. One neighbor blaming the other because the case was never solved.

The author skillfully adds intrigue and suspense to the novel by taking the social issues to the level of murder and secrets. Going back and forth between the two time periods was the perfect way to tell this story and to keep the anticipation from wavering.

Kate will gain your sympathy immediately, and you will want to praise her for her actions. Trudy, her mother-in-law, will be on your last nerve, and you will dislike her from the minute you meet her. The entire Krause family was not well-liked by the town and won't be liked by you, the reader.

The family history of murder and anger issues along with the history of how women were treated during the 1800’s was a large focus of the storyline, but the secrets and murders made for an incredibly outstanding page turner. I really didn't want to put the book down. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Is This Tomorrow: A Novel by Caroline Leavitt
 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Interesting
Twists and Turns

At one time happy families, at one time a happy circle of friends, but then a missing child, a heartache for life, and a secret.

This secret, had it been revealed, most likely would have made the lives of Rose, Lewis, Ava, and Dot totally different.

After Jimmy disappeared nothing was the same for any of the main characters. The disappearance was the focus of their lives and consumed every minute of their day as they tried to move on or moved away.

The book at first appeared as if it were going to be a love story, but what a surprise. It turned into a mystery with such remarkable storytelling and such an incredible plot that it was difficult to figure out. You thought you knew who was responsible, and then another incident arose as another character told where they were on that fateful day creating a twist to throw you off. As you hear these stories, you will want to turn back the clock, and you will want to shake the characters into telling their true feelings to each other for comfort and hope.

The tragedy and the mystery made the book refreshingly different just like the characters. IS THIS TOMORROW was very well written with wonderful descriptions of the scenes and of the characters. All of the characters were a bit gloomy but most were quite loveable and endearing. Rose was my favorite. She was sweet, unassuming, innocent, yet very thoughtful. Lewis was brilliant but had issues that kept him from achieving his full potential. Ava finally found something that would make use of her talents and that made her happy, but she still remained alone. Dot was forever sad about losing her son.

If you want a book that you can't wait to get back to, IS THIS TOMORROW is the ticket. It was a bit slow at first, but with all the twists and turns and the terrific plot, you will find yourself devouring the pages looking for answers just as the characters did.

I hope you enjoy this book and its interesting plot as much as I did. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Edge of the Earth by Christina Schwarz
 
Book Club Recommended
Engaging

From a privileged childhood home to a home in a lighthouse. Quite a change from what Trudy was used to, but she loved her husband even though her parents didn't approve of her choice of her spouse. Trudy didn't see her husband as being the person he really was until later in their marriage, but she was in love and no one could tell her otherwise.

The lighthouse was isolated, and the life was lonely for her. The only company she had were the Crawley's four children whom she taught and Mr. And Mrs. Crowley, the husband and wife who were the other lighthouse keepers. Mrs Crawley was very strict and unpleasant and had an intriguing secret.

The book is slow at the beginning, but once you get to Page 80 you won't want to stop reading. The descriptions are very vivid and put you in the cove and among the waves with the characters and the strange hermit who lived and took things from the beach and the lighthouse inhabitants.

You will share Trudy's loneliness but also envy her for being in this interesting, inspiring place. You will learn about sea creatures as well as the life of folks during that time period and how they had to wait for months in their remote home for letters and food.

It wasn't a riveting, action-packed book, but the appealing characters, the detailed descriptions of the lives of the characters and their surroundings, the different, very engaging storyline,and the work done by Trudy will definitely keep you interested.

Perhaps as I did you will re-read the beginning pages to truly understand what those pages actually meant and how they were connected to the rest of the story. Re-reading helped to give more meaning to the book's premise.

Despite the slow start, I thoroughly enjoyed THE EDGE OF THE EARTH. The cover itself will draw you in. 4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without any compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Informative, Optimistic
Cozy

Leave the light on for me.

PORCH LIGHTS was a book about caring, family, healing, and a book that will steal your heart in more ways than one.
Jackie, recently widowed with a ten-year-old son, decides to go back home for the rest of the summer to help Charlie heal from the loss of his father. Many surprises await Jackie as well as many decisions. One of the surprises is her mother. They never did have an easy relationship, but her mother seems to have changed.

The characters were a nice mix of fun, intensity, loneliness, being loveable, and unique. The setting was very well described as well as the emotions of each character. You will cry, laugh, and even be envious of the family connection.

You will want to be part of the Britt family and live with them on Sullivan's Island. You will definitely want to share the delicious meals made by Annie, but you won't want to be Jackie who has a major life decision to make.

I have never read a book by Ms. Frank. She has an easy style and drew me in. This book was a pleasant read. 4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic
Fantastic

The narration of the book was superb, the entire book was amazing, and the ending was incredible.

The characters came alive, and I could see every scene vividly. Ms. Rindell brought to the literary world a great style and an extraordinary book. Her descriptions are so lyrical and detailed you can easily and pleasantly visualize even the slightest action. The main "stage" of the book takes place in a police station, but that was not a detriment to the story. The smooth, easy flow of the novel was flawless, entertaining, and a bit mysterious.

The book focused on the lives of the two main characters, Rose and Odalie, with Odalie being "the other typist." The author was exploring relationships and human interaction....something we all have in our lives and need to deal with. Rose was the honest, unassuming one and Odalie seemed to want a friend but was manipulative, cunning, almost villian-like, and had another life separate from her typist's life at the police station. A life that Rose was not aware of but found out as their friendship progressed.

It was quite easy to get involved in the characters' lives which made the book difficult to put down. You will absolutely love how the book flowed but you will also be afraid for Rose as she enters this new relationship with Odalie. I liked Rose at the beginning but became disappointed as the book continued because of how she changed and how she was so captivated and easily swayed by Odalie. I didn't like Odalie from the minute she walked through the door at the police station on her first day of her new job. I could immediately tell what kind of person she was. Are you curious why I am saying this? :) You will have to find out when you read this impressive book.

Think of a friendship you had in your life. Was it a friendship that lasted, was it simply a friendship that you thought was a good one but one that didn't last, was it one you really shouldn't have been in, or was it one that turned out to be a friendship for life?

This book has everything a wonderful book should have: a beautiful writing style, characters you will become attached to, outstanding descriptions, an easily pulled into storyline, and a bit of secrecy and intrigue. Absolutely loved it. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Unwritten: A Novel by Charles Martin
 
Book Club Recommended
Profound

A priest, a recluse, and an actress with the priest being the person who is connected to and the link to both of them. Father Steady helped Sunday with a problem at one time in his life, and now Father Steady needed Sunday to help Katie with her problem.

Can he and does he help her especially since Katie is not a likable person and is keeping a secret from the world? Sunday unwillingly agrees to help because Father Steady asked him, but Sunday isn't very keen on the idea of helping a stranger. A stranger who eventually becomes a friend.

The first few pages of the book were very evasive, and the intrigue pulled me in immediately. Actually, the entire book was filled with evasiveness, secrets, and characters with secrets and inner struggles. The author's writing style is insightful, brilliant, and a style that draws you in.

Mr. Martin's descriptions of characters and landscapes were incredible and beautiful. You will experience amazing detail about the Everglades and bask in the lush descriptions that make you feel as though you are sitting with the characters. You will also get a detailed, guided tour of Paris and the town of Langeais, France. You will be drawn to Katie, the movie star, who was used to nothing but luxury, Father Steady, who can be called her saving grace, and Sunday who gets pulled into it all and doesn't know how or why he did.

The book has an uncommon, but exceptional theme. To me the book was addressing the fragility of humans and their choices no matter what their stations in life are and finding oneself using memories as the basis. Memories that in this case were painful. It also addresses the issue of making the best of what life sends your way.

The beginning pages were a bit confusing, but indistinct enough to keep you wondering what actually was happening and going to happen. UNWRITTEN is definitely worth what I think was an "on purpose" ambiguity of the first chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the storyline, and the reflection. This book was profound and powerful.

UNWRITTEN is a book that will have you analyzing, reflecting, and examining life. Have some tissues handy for the ending.

My final comment is this: The one word you will use and the one I used as I turned the last page is: WOW!! 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Inspiring
Moving, Expressive, Powerful

Frankie and Jake were brothers with Frankie being the braver of the two but not necessarily the ethical one. ORDINARY GRACE takes place when times were simpler but when problems still occurred in families and towns.

This specific summer in Frankie and Jake's life had adventures as well as misfortunes. Frankie was a character you will love. Frankie always seemed to be in the right place but never managed to figure out what was going on. He was growing up, being a boy, getting into and out of trouble, learning about life, and also learning how to deal with adult situations. His brother Jake was timid, adored his brother, and joined him on most of his adventures.

The book had a wonderful story line and great characters. The characters can be described as unique, loveable, different, and ones you would want to have for friends. Frankie was the narrator, Jake kept the story going, and Gus seemed to be the person Frankie and Jake looked up to. Frankie and Jake's parents were the typical couple of this era. All characters complemented each other.


The writing was extraordinary, the storyline was sweet, just like the era that pulled you in, and the storyline unquestionably kept your interest. You won't want to put the book down mainly because of the nostalgic theme. Keeping the storyline going are murders, deaths, a disappearance, a summer that would never be forgotten, and a mystery to solve.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The writing was moving, expressive, and powerful. The storyline moved effortlessly, and I loved the glimpse back into the 1960's.

ORDINARY GRACE is a book that will be on your mind long after you turn the last page. Don't miss this extraordinary book filled with the exploring of one's conscience and also with learning how to forgive. It is noteworthy and remarkable. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Orchardist: A Novel by Amanda Coplin
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Insightful, Gloomy
Gripping

To lose your mother and then your sister in an already lonely, abandoned land made Talmadge the person he was. He had his orchards and his kindness to keep him going.

Talmadge lived alone in his family home that really had no family except Talmadge until one day two girls, Jane and Della, arrived on his land and began stealing his fruit. Talmadge let them steal the fruit, and he also fed them. They stayed away from him for the most part and only made an appearance when he put food out for them. Both girls were pregnant, and Talmadge had the midwife stop by to try to get the girls to warm up to her since they would be needing her.

These girls became his family or the best semblance of what a family could be. The book follows Talmadge through the stages of the girls' lives and how their being present in his life helped him be happy as well as allow him to experience the heartache of their growing up and his being a concerned parent. His concern for Della became an obsession.

As you continue reading, you will become completely involved in the plot and the lives of each character. You will become attached to Talmadge, Della, Caroline, and Angelene and hope things turn out for all of them. Talmadge was an odd person and one you would like to tell to wake up even though he was such a good person. Caroline was the character who held everyone together. Della was not a likable character. And wonderful Angelene was adorable, kind, and a character you will fall in love with.

The book had marvelous descriptions of feelings, landscapes, and characters. It was beautifully written for a first novel. It was as outstanding in writing style, interest, and development of the story and characters as a seasoned author.
I can't give enough praise for this book. It was touching, tender, brilliantly written, mesmerizing, and one you will remember long after you turn the last page.

THE ORCHARDIST is not an uplifting book but the prose and the storyline are so exceptional that regardless of the book's mood it instantly grips you. 5/5

This book was given to be free of charge by the publisher without compensation for a blog tour with TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Sweet Salt Air: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Slow, Interesting
Appealing, Unique Characters

Secrets both big and small but nonetheless difficult to keep.

Nicole and Charlotte who had been friends since grade school and who hadn’t seen each other for ten years had secrets they couldn’t tell each other. Nicole’s secret did come out, but it was good that it did. Charlotte’s secret was definitely better left unrevealed but eventually does come out.

Sweet Salt Air is set in Quinnipeague, an island filled with quaint citizens and great cooks with wonderful recipes for Nicole’s cookbook and Charlotte’s accompanying narratives. The island’s characters were diverse and filled with generations of families who lived and worked using their talents in many areas, but specifically cooking and baking. They also knew everyone’s personal business, and if they didn’t, they would make it their business to find out. Everyone on the island was family.

The description of the island was heavenly and sounded like a perfect place for a vacation even though some Quinnies were not pleased with outsiders. What brought the entire book together was the characters. The storyline fell into place around them more than the storyline falling around the characters. Leo, the son of the town’s herbal genius, was quite odd, but very likable. Charlotte and Nicole shared a friendship that was good for both of them. Julian, Nicole’s husband, was an ok character, but you will find out why he was the way he was when you delve into this appealing book.

I enjoyed the book because of the beach setting, the wonderful, homey town, Ms. Delinsky’s writing, and of course the recipe hints. Warning: Don't read this book while you are hungry. I have never read a Barbara Delinsky book before and truly enjoyed SWEET SALT AIR.

This book is a dream for all readers. It has books, bloggers, authors and is set in a beautiful location with appealing, unique characters. It is about life's choices and decisions, families, triumphs, and tragedies, along with a love story thrown in. It is a quick, delightful and VERY engaging book. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher without compensation in return for an honest review.

Lola's Secret by Monica McInerney
 
Book Club Recommended
Sweet, Nostalgic Read

What really was Lola's secret?

Was her secret something that she needed to keep from her family because they didn't need to know or was her secret something that she does that secretly helps others?

Lola was an 84-year-old mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother and a woman who had a mind of her own and was a person whom everyone loved and looked up to. But....Lola did have unique ideas and one in particular that her family definitely shouldn't know about especially since it was Christmas. She wanted something different for this Christmas even though it included complete strangers.

LOLA'S SECRET was funny, hit close to home in family matters, and made you think about your life. Lola will make you think about the beauty of life and of living your life to its fullest with no regrets.

You will absolutely love Lola, absolutely hate Geraldine, and enjoy all the other characters. Lola held them all together. You will wish you had someone like Lola in your life....she was wonderful.

LOLA'S SECRET is a sweet, nostalgic read that has a feel good theme taking place in a small town where everyone knows each other and everyone helps each other with Lola and the Valley View Motel and its owners being the center of it all.


I really enjoyed this book because of the homey, family-oriented theme and the reminder of enjoying life. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation in exchange for an honest review.

The Orchid House: A Novel by Lucinda Riley
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Interesting, Dramatic
Alluring

What better way to heal from a tragedy than to go back to a time and a place when life was good. Julia had lost her husband and her son in a tragic accident in France and decided to return to England to begin healing and to begin re-acquainting herself with her family.

Julia was having a difficult time with her grief, but luck came her way one day when she was given a diary that belonged to her grandfather.

The diary had been found under the floorboards in one of the cottages on the Crawford estate, Wharton Park. Along with the diary, Julia also had Elise, her grandmother, to help her remember the good times and to explain firsthand about the past and what actually happened at Wharton Park when Elise worked as a lady's maid for Olivia Crawford. The memories and a few of the characters, one in particular, helped Julia begin to bring herself back.

Wharton Park was where Julia helped her grandfather in the estate's hothouses where he grew orchids....orchids that had come from Thailand where her grandfather had been held captive during WWII. Being with her grandfather was the best part of her childhood. The diary brought back memories, and Julia's grandmother brought forth the truth about the family's history along with all its unspoken secrets.

Remembering the past and finding hidden secrets are a part of THE ORCHID HOUSE that is very appealing. You will follow the lives of the Crawford family where Julia's grandmother and grandfather were part of the staff of Wharton Park. The secrets revealed in the diary and those secrets revealed firsthand by Elise will keep you turning the pages. Knowing that there is a secret between the aristocratic Crawfords of Wharton Park and the household staff which included Julia's grandparents made the book intriguing and one that will keep your attention.

Don't miss this alluring story with its captivating characters who have secrets that span 70 years and a family that makes a full circle with Wharton Park being the beginning and the end.

I truly enjoyed the book because of its historical fiction and the style of going back and forth in time. The secrets that are revealed, the lies that kept the secrets unspoken, the twists and turns, and the surprise ending make this book one I couldn't read quickly enough. ENJOY!!!! 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The House Girl: A Novel by Tara Conklin
 
Book Club Recommended
Great historical fiction

From 1852 to 2004....from one artist to another....from a farm in Virginia to the hustle and bustle of New York City.

THE HOUSE GIRL flawlessly switches between these two time periods telling of the life of Josephine, a slave girl, Lina, a New York City attorney, and Lina's father, Oscar, an artist. The book leads you through the life of Josephine as she struggles with her decision to "run, it leads you through the life of Lina who is researching families who may benefit from wrong doing during the period of slavery in the United States, and it leads you through the life of Oscar trying to make amends through his artwork.

The most significant question, though, along with finding descendants is that of who really did create the paintings found in Lu Anne Bell's home? Was it really Lu Anne or was it Josephine? Corresponding with this painting mystery and the mystery of Josephine's descendants is that of Lina's mother...what really did happen to her when Lina was only four?

You will get caught up in both stories because of the great detail Ms. Conklin uses and because of the research. I love "digging" for historical information. As you switch between the two stories, you will ask yourself to choose which life you were more interested in....Lina's or Josephine's....it may be difficult to choose since both were appealing and drew you in, but for me Josephine's story wins hands down for interest.

It took a few chapters, but you will become so involved, it becomes difficult to stop reading....you want to know what will become of the characters and the answer to the mysteries.

Each character comes alive with the vivid detail Ms. Conklin uses, and she puts their feelings out in the open...you can feel the tension, the pain, the frustration, the longing, and the fleeting happiness they experience. I really enjoyed this book because of the history and the research and of course the detailed descriptions of the characters.

The historical aspect and the fact-finding kept me up late. It is very interesting how the farm's kitchen records, crop records, and births and deaths of every person including the slaves was kept. I thoroughly enjoy these types of findings. I also wonder how these records were not destroyed and who would have thought to preserve them. Such foresight....something to be grateful for.

Don't miss this book especially if you are a historical fiction buff. This book pulls you in and will cause you to pause and reflect on the human race and have you wondering about the reasons why we do what we do, have you wondering what the reasons are that lead us to make the choices we make, and have you wondering about the reason we turned out to be the person we are. 5/5

This book was given to me without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Romantic, Inspiring
Comfy and Relaxing

Food, family, relationships, recipes....a wonderful combination, and a marvelously wonderful book.

THE LOST ART OF MIXING makes you feel cozy inside and out. After being with Lillian, you are relaxed and happy...she is just someone who makes you want to be where she is and where you want to stay.

In fact, most of the characters mixed well with each other just like a perfect recipe. Each character blended together to make an unforgettable book about family memories, misunderstandings that turned sour or proved to be a good thing, the heartache of aging parents, and also everyday situations we mostly likely are dealing with or will deal with one day.

The book also had so many wonderful hints at recipes that it made me want to put the book down and get out my pots and pans and start immediately on a variation of Lillian's recipes. The characters in the story did the same thing. They made you want to stop what you were doing, they made you want to join in the conversation, and they made you want to become long-time friends with everyone involved. I enjoyed every character no matter whether they were causing trouble or dealing with trouble.

If you need a comfy, relaxing read don't miss THE LOST ART OF MIXING. Ms. Bauermeister has such a soothing way with her words that you will feel as though you just had the most wonderful massage ever when you are done reading the book. Your body and your brain will not be on overload after reading this book but will be in a splendid slow motion mode.

ENJOY!!! 5/5

I won this book from LibraryThing and received it from Putnam Books without compensation in exchange for an honest review.

Seven Locks by Christine Wade
 
Book Club Recommended
Will Make You Ponder

The disappearance/leaving of a husband was the ultimate betrayal and shame at this time in history. Watching your husband turn around as he always did and walk away from you and expecting him to return at the end of the day but not returning is what the "wife" has to endure in SEVEN LOCKS.

SEVEN LOCKS is a heart wrenching story of a wife and her two children trying to survive the hardships of living on a farm in the Catskill Mountains in the 1700's with the Revolutionary War on the horizon and with no help and no support of the townspeople. The townspeople wanted nothing to do with the wife, whom I never heard a name mentioned, because they believe she killed her husband. Having no name is in itself a sad story.

The descriptions are detailed and intriguing...you will feel the terror and the pain of the characters and the emotional struggle of the children and their mother. You will be able to see through the author's vivid descriptions their mud-drenched yard, their mud-drenched clothes, their crowded barn with animals in it, the fields and valleys, and the frightened, lost children as they live out their meager days and years.

The characters are very well developed along with the story. You will hate some of the characters, be curious about them, and wonder about their lives and motives. You will mostly feel their despair in their difficult lives but the willingness to move on.

The book shares the amazing courage of a woman left to do her work as well as a man's work. It sends a message about struggle and survival at the basest level and a struggle fought alone. It isn't a light book, but your interest will not wane because of the subject matter and because of the author's storytelling skills and elegant, effective prose.

You will want to find the mystery of the title of the book and interpret a sentence from page 60: "But the future is a book with seven locks."

SEVEN LOCKS is a book you will have to dissect and read slowly because it will make you ponder. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher with no compensation in exchange for an honest review.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Awesome just like all of Kate Morton\\\'s Books

To be sixteen, to witness a murder, and to keep it a secret your entire life? When would Laurel find out the \\\"real\\\" reason for the murder. After fifty years, she needed to ask, but could she really find the answer? She had to. Time was running out.

Set in England and moving from the 1930\\\'s to 2011, you will follow Laurel as she continues to keep this secret and attempts to find out why her mother stabbed a visitor on her brother\\\'s birthday. Did the baby see or remember anything? Could that be possible? What if he did remember? Laurel, her father, and her mother were the only ones that were supposed to know, but were they?

The storyline is intriguing and the descriptions are amazing as you go back and forth in time to see what Laurel\\\'s mother\\\'s life was like as a child and also as a young adult and what life was like for Laurel, her sisters, and her brother as they grew up on a quaint farm in a loving family. Dorothy, Laurel\\\'s mother, lead a very significant life and had interesting people in her life that shaped her and her decisions.

The book seamlessly moves between time periods giving creative details of each era in the characters\\\' lives and has you wanting to know more. An amazing storyline that keeps you guessing about the real reason for the murder and one that makes you want to be a part of the story in order to be part of the life the characters lead in each decade of their lives.

Finding out about her mother\\\'s motives and life before she was married was a goal Laurel was determined to solve before her mother died, and her mother is the only one who could give the answers to many questions, but could their dying mother tell all? Once clues about Dorothy\\\'s past begin to surface, you will be as anxious as Laurel was to find out other secrets her mother kept to herself all her life and secrets that caused her mother to commit murder.

This book was marvelous and captivating as all of Kate Morton\\\'s books, and the ending is absolutely SUPERB.

I thoroughly enjoyed the walk through Laurel\\\'s life and the flashbacks to her mother\\\'s life. Don\\\'t miss this book or any book Kate Morton has written...you will be taken away with her exceptional writing and fantastic storytelling skills as she weaves lives and situations together into incredible books. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley
 
Book Club Recommended
Terrific

Dunworley Bay, West Cork, Ireland, London, parlor maids, orphans, a character with a sixth sense, castles, crashing waves, a family legacy, letters, and secrets....what else could you ask for?

All this and more is wrapped up in THE GIRL ON THE CLIFF. This book takes you away to the magic of life in 1914 in castles, normal households, and into the life of a family that leaves a legacy and many secrets for current-day folks to discover and secrets that reveal the family's history and who Anna really was.

The book begins with and continues at the beginning of different sections with thoughts and comments directed to "Dear Reader" from Aurora, the youngest member of the family, giving reflective insights into what will be coming up and her opinions on situations....very nice touch. You will find yourself in New York, Ireland, and London reliving the life of Aurora and Grania who are the basis of the current-day story and the story that is made up of their ancestry of Mary who was a parlor maid and Anna an orphan in a house where Mary is the only mother she really knew because her mother gave her away. As the book and secrets unfold you are taken back and forth learning the life of the characters in London, 1914, and beyond.

The characters are very well developed, and you will put yourself into their lives and into each emotion they are experiencing as each character makes decisions or manipulates someone. You will feel their passion and relate to each character as the author describes in detail their connection to each other and their part in the family heritage.

You will fall in love with Mary and Anna as they tell their story and feel the pain of Kathleen who doesn't want her daughter Grania to know the family's history but must tell her. You will enjoy the descriptions of the everyday life in Ireland, the landscapes, the views, and the houses.

You will want to know what secret the family has that has affected all its descendants. Will the suitcase owned by Anna's mother tell all? Who will find it? Does anyone remember it is in the attic of Mary and Anna's home where Mary was a parlor maid? Or will Kathleen, Grania's mother and descendant of the Ryan family, know enough for everyone? Aurora is the tie to it all and the final key to the family's secrets.

The theme of the book is my favorite and was difficult to put down. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Twelfth Child by Ms. Bette Lee Crosby
 
Book Club Recommended
Splendid

Abigail Lannigan was the twin daughter of Will and Livonia Lannigan. Will ignored his daughter to the point of abuse, but he adored and lavished attention on her brother. Even though Abigail loved her twin brother Will and they got along marvelously, her father ruined her life emotionally and Will's in a certain way.

The book's content and storyline is intriguing and one that follows Abigail through her childhood which was made up of hard work and no appreciation and also follows her through decisions she made on her own with her biggest decision being getting away from her father.

The book moves back and forth from her childhood to when she is an older woman. Good and bad decisions made her regret a few of her choices, but she made it through just as her mother always told her she would. You will fall in love with Abigail and feel her pain and her fears, and you will wish you could be there with her when she is alone.

These lines from Page 122 of the e-book sum up Abigail's character perfectly and give a thoughtful piece of advice to all of us:

"All my life, I'd pinched and saved, always worrying about the future, then before I knew it, I was an old woman with not much future left to worry about and pitifully little to show for all the scrimping. If I had it to do over again, I'd live my life the way Destiny does. She's one person who won't end up with a bunch of regrets about things she didn't do."

That quote is just a sampling of the wonderful lessons and wonderful story inside THE TWELFTH CHILD. The entire book was filled with everyday happenings and also gave the reader a look at how the human race can be cruel as well as kind. All of these "lessons" were told in a lovely, fast-moving fashion that made you laugh, made you cry, and made you do some introspection.

I can't praise this book and the author enough...Ms. Crosby is amazing. Her writing is smooth, detailed, interesting, and it pulls you right into the story with believable characters and a wonderful flowing storyline. I couldn't put this book down and was sad when it ended.

And.......the ending has a splendid lesson in itself. I truly enjoyed this incredible book. 5/5

This e-book was given to me free of charge in return for an honest review.

City of Women: A Novel by David R. Gillham
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Informative
Interesting and splendid lessons learned

Abigail Lannigan was the twin daughter of Will and Livonia Lannigan. Will ignored his daughter to the point of abuse, but he adored and lavished attention on her brother. Even though Abigail loved her twin brother Will and they got along marvelously, her father ruined her life emotionally and Will's in a certain way.

The book's content and storyline is intriguing and one that follows Abigail through her childhood which was made up of hard work and no appreciation and also follows her through decisions she made on her own with her biggest decision being getting away from her father.

The book moves back and forth from her childhood to when she is an older woman. Good and bad decisions made her regret a few of her choices, but she made it through just as her mother always told her she would. You will fall in love with Abigail and feel her pain and her fears, and you will wish you could be there with her when she is alone.

These lines from Page 122 of the e-book sum up Abigail's character perfectly and give a thoughtful piece of advice to all of us:

"All my life, I'd pinched and saved, always worrying about the future, then before I knew it, I was an old woman with not much future left to worry about and pitifully little to show for all the scrimping. If I had it to do over again, I'd live my life the way Destiny does. She's one person who won't end up with a bunch of regrets about things she didn't do."

That quote is just a sampling of the wonderful lessons and wonderful story inside THE TWELFTH CHILD. The entire book was filled with everyday happenings and also gave the reader a look at how the human race can be cruel as well as kind. All of these "lessons" were told in a lovely, fast-moving fashion that made you laugh, made you cry, and made you do some introspection.

I can't praise this book and the author enough...Ms. Crosby is amazing. Her writing is smooth, detailed, interesting, and it pulls you right into the story with believable characters and a wonderful flowing storyline. I couldn't put this book down and was sad when it ended.

And.......the ending has a splendid lesson in itself. I truly enjoyed this incredible book. 5/5

This e-book was given to me free of charge in return for an honest review.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Insightful, Interesting
Fun

A nostalgic look back to when women stayed home and men went to work.

Jackie Hart and her family moved from Boston to a town in Florida that was definitely old fashioned. You will meet Jackie and you will also meet an unmarried librarian, an unmarried lady who secretly writes sex novels for a publisher in New York, a divorced woman who works in the Post Office, a woman just out of jail for killing her husband, a maid, and an eccentric male. This group met once a week for a book club which they call The Collier County Women's Literary Society.

The characters are all quite diverse but warm and caring. Out of the blue, one of the book club members decides to do a late night radio show, and the entire town is in an uproar trying to figure out who it is especially since her name is none other than Miss Dreamsville.

This book was so fun, and took you back to a different lifestyle that our mothers probably were a part of.....well, at least my mother. :). It was a simpler life but also one that was strict.

It isn't a book I normally read, but I did enjoy it.....a nice light read and change of pace. It will make you laugh, but it will also make you wonder if it really would be a time period where you want to live.

The characters were all different and showed that “different” is what makes the world go round. How could it all work out if we were all the same? The characters worked together perfectly in the book. It did get a little dramatic at times, but overall a fun read and one that makes note that all of us are different yet all of us are the same. 4/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Roots of the Olive Tree: A Novel by Courtney Miller Santo
 
Book Club Recommended
Unconvincing, Interesting
Great Read

Olives, Olive Oil, longevity.....sounds like it could be true to me. The Keller women had worked in the olive orchards for generations, and Anna, who was 112, claimed the longevity was because of the family's "love" of the olives....this book is filled with generations of women and family life. What a magnificent book with a powerful, thoughtful ending.

A lot of life's lessons were taught under and in the olive trees. Anna told her great, great grandchild, Erin, that "roots" are important whether they belonged to a tree or to a family. The olive garden was everything to Anna, and she wanted her family to know how important it actually had been.

You will meet five generations of Keller women with the sixth on the way. Each woman was remarkable. Anna was the oldest at 112, Elizabeth was 90, Callie was in her sixties, Deb was in prison for murder, and Erin in her late 20's shows up pregnant at the family home of Hill House.

You will become attached to these women, specifically Anna who began it all and held it all together. The other women take care of Anna, not that she needs any care, and they take care of each other. They are proud of their longevity and, of course, their olive orchards. The book was very well written and made me think about the power if you can call it that of olive oil....could that tiny fruit be the answer to living a long, healthy life or is it simply one's genes?

Besides enjoying the female characters, you will enjoy Dr. Hashmi who was doing research on the Keller family to see what the secret of their longevity was. Each woman had a wonderful story with Anna of course being the reason they all were there and the reason they were the person they had become. Anna was my favorite....she had a great story from her childhood that was retold from generation to generation.

You will follow each character and her place in the circle of life. You will not be bored with their stories. The author takes you deep into each woman's life with wonderful descriptions and flashbacks along with tears and hugs. You will find out if their longevity really is from olive oil or from something that has been kept secret for over 100 years. What a beautiful story....a splendid family saga that is uniquely told.

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Beautiful
Unique


Instead of rags to riches, Tamara Goodwin and her mother went from riches to rags. After Mr. Goodwin committed suicide they were penniless and went from a huge house to a small cottage that Tamara and her mother had to share with relatives.

Enduring her uncle's crude ways, tolerating her aunt's constant cooking and hovering, having no friends around, having nothing to do in this small town, and dealing with her mother's silence was not how Tamara wanted her days to be. Her aunt and uncle were quite bizarre and seemed to be hiding something. What it was Tamara had no idea. Everything was hush hush and Rosaleen seemed to hide behind her huge tables of food and Arthur said nothing about anything. Tamara wasn't a pleasant young lady to begin with, and this situation didn't improve her mood.

As mean as she was, Tamara was quite funny....always joking about things. She also kept looking back at her life and wondering if it really had been better when she was rich. There was a lot of introspection, and the characters' lives were paralleled with inanimate objects and thoughts. Tamara actually met interesting people in the town and discovered a history of the castle.

The main focus of the book was based on a diary Tamara found in a mobile library that stopped in "Hicksville" once a week. The diary was quite interesting as well as shocking because of the content. The content contained something hard to believe. She would read the diary every day and the next day it would be filled with pages of even more interest.

The book was skillfully written....the author has a great style. You can actually see the grimaces on the character's faces simply because of the wonderful description; you can also feel Tamara's frustration, and Rosaleen's fear of something.

The book was imaginative, creative, and a book that was difficult to put down.....a marvelous read. It also was magical and a little out of the ordinary. Being out of the ordinary made it unique, enjoyable, and appealing. I liked the characters for the most part, but they were an odd bunch, especially Rosaleen with her odd ideas and her secret ways of dealing with situations and people.

I would consider THE BOOK OF TOMORROW a light read but with undercurrents of secrets, revenge, and jealousy along with a web of deceit and all of it being nicely tied up in the surprise ending. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The House of Serenades by Lina Simoni
 
Book Club Recommended
The House of Serenades

Wealthy Italian families, lost love, definite class separation, and family secrets are what you will find in the THE HOUSE OF SERENADES. Many of the characters had secrets, but Giuseppe Berelli had the biggest secret of them all. Giuseppe kept a secret his entire life, and he was now becoming afraid the truth would come out and ruin his life. Giuseppe told stories to cover up his secret and to try to keep his family from losing their class distinction and power.


The storyline focuses on class distinction and prestige and the worry about losing it all by going to any length no matter what the cost. The eloquent, descriptive writing style and the saga of the Berelli family of Genoa, Italy, will keep your curiosity peaked. And what a saga it was. There was hatred within families, jealousy among neighbors, shady dealings, corrupt doctors, nosy house help, pompous families, death threats to the Berelli family, and things that must be kept secret not only by Giuseppe but also others in the town. These were secrets that ate at the characters every day of their lives. Secrets that they never should have told anyone because you never know how things will work out.
The book has different underlying themes, outstanding characters beautifully developed by the author, well-kept secrets, and explanations of the customs and mindset of this era in history. The mindset of different classes not mingling and the sneering of the upper class toward the lower class seemed to cause more trouble and pain than was necessary. This era also made evident how women were treated so poorly. Caterina and Matilda's heartbreaking stories describe very vividly the treatment of women and how they had no rights.

If the title and cover are puzzling you, you will need to read this intriguing, very appealing book to find out the significance. The storyline is unique and very captivating. My being Italian enhanced the enjoyment with the inclusion of the authentic Italian names and phrases. Each character had a story of his/her own and each of their lives, their evilness, their innocence, and their secrets were entangled to create an unforgettable tale of love, treachery, tragedy, and unforgivable acts. I hope my review does justice to this amazing book......the content, the setting, and beautiful flow of the story are worth the read. 5/5

A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
A Walk Across The Sun

In A WALK ACROSS THE SUN you meet Ahalya and her sister Sita who were saved, if you can call it saved, from the terrors of the tsunami that occurred in India. Their entire family perished in the tsunami, and these two innocent girls were kidnapped, bought, and forced into a brothel in India.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Thomas Clarke, an attorney in Washington D.C., takes on a position in India to try to find and arrest the sex traffic offenders.

You will follow the horrors of a life these two girls and the other underage and legal-aged girls lead in these houses. You will feel their humiliation and helplessness. The horrors of forced child prostitution are unthinkable, but it happens more than we want to believe…even in the United States.

You will also see the wealthy side of Bombay, India, and feel the rush of everyday life and the unbelievable multitude of people. Ever-present poverty is never far away from the wealthy sections along with the red-light districts in the poorest towns with children hidden inside with no way out.

This book is not a police report...it is the story of Ahalya and Sita and the plight of these girls and other unfortunate girls around the globe. Ahalya and Sita are the main characters the story is based upon. The suspense and the fear you have for Sita, Ahalya, and the other "prisoners" of these traffickers is real. There is also a love story weaved into the book which takes the reader from the United States to India.

The book is very well written, as tastefully written as it can be, and will hold your interest in spite of the unpleasant subject matter. It is eye opening to find out about corrupt police forces and the trafficking that is incredibly rampant. It is also unbelievable that this trafficking can occur to such a great extent without its being discovered.
The last few chapters of the book take a different direction in terms of plot. The tense subject matter melts away and takes the reader on a more redeeming ride. The book leaves you with a powerful message and with a sense of sorrow for society.

My rating is an unequivocal 5/5. Great research and wonderful storyline.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Confusing, Unconvincing
Moonlight on Linoleum

Welcome to the 50's.....Grandma and Grandpa taking care of children, Mom gone, only Dad. Doesn't sound like the 50's to me....sounds more like the way families are today.


Moonlight on Linoleum is a nostalgic trip back to a life that should have been filled with stable families, but it had two sweet girls who were left with their father and grandparents in Iowa while Mama fulfilled dreams of her own.


And…..Mama wasn't done fulfilling her dreams...more sisters arrived and more new schools. Mama liked to go out and leave Terry in charge. One year the girls were in their third school, but at least with this move they had a house to live in instead of a cramped apartment. That didn't last too long, though. They moved again, and Mama kept on with her antics and with Terry in charge of the girls.



Wow...what an outstanding memoir. This memoir definitely held my interest and made me feel for the children and how they had to endure their childhood as always the new kid at school and not really a kid at home since they always had to do chores that were an adult's. It is hard to believe how resilient we are as children.

This sentence stuck with me: "How was it possible that moonlight on linoleum, washed with my tears, could be so achingly beautiful?" Page 218 I shed and shared Terry’s tears as I read this incredible book.



I have to call you marvelous, Terry. Being able to live like you did as a child and to turn out like you did is truly amazing. You are such a goodhearted person and such a good daughter and above all a WONDERFUL, loving sister.

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff, Alex Tresniowski
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Life Changing, Informative
An Invisible Thread

Maurice had never met anyone like Laura and Laura had never met anyone like Maurice. They were from two different worlds. Laura doesn't know why she stopped and turned back after Maurice asked her for some money, but she is glad she did.

Through Maurice, Laura learned about the life he and thousands of others were living on a daily basis....not a pleasant life at all. Laura was helping Maurice to live a better life at least one day a week, and it seemed to be paying off since she could see a change in him even though he had to go back to his horrible living conditions after he left her.

As well as learning about the living conditions of others, the author also gave the reader a chance to find out that her childhood/family life was not very easy.....her father was an abusive alcoholic, and her mother sat by not being able to defend herself or her children. Obviously the author's childhood and the childhood of her brothers and sisters had an impact on their entire life and on her decision to turn back and fulfill Maurice’s plea for help.
The descriptions in the book are very detailed and heartbreaking but also heartwarming. You will become a part of the lives of every character and you will feel their pain and happiness.
An Invisible Thread is the perfect title for this book. The book brought to the surface that we all have a connection to other human beings even though that connection may not be outwardly visible.
I truly enjoyed the book because of the honesty of feelings and of human kindness and human connection. This is a must read. Laura Schroff is a brave woman to reveal all this about her life, but it definitely will make you realize that no matter how small the gesture may be, we can make a difference for someone else. 5/5

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Dramatic, Interesting
A Reliable Wife

A lie from the first moment they met....Ralph knew she wasn't the girl he had placed an ad for.

But Catherine never thought twice about how she lied to this man she was going to marry and how her destitute life before Ralph made her such a phony…but the lying didn't even faze her.

Her life before Ralph Truitt was always in her blood and on her mind...the men, the late nights, the lights, the music. But she had to not let it interfere with her life as she knew it now. She pretended that her previous life never existed even though she longed for her old life style. She had to "play" the part of a reliable, demure wife who had no history.

Neither had been honest with each other. Both Ralph and Catherine had plans after the marriage took place, but her plans were not the same plans Ralph had for her. Too bad they were not on the same page.

Deceit, unfaithfulness, poison, a life that was a lie, regret, unbelievable forgiveness, and a hint of mystery.....that is what A RELIABLE WIFE was made of. And.......an incredible writing style that will keep you reading way into the night, and one you will not want to put down.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Informative, Interesting
Cocktail Hour Under The Tree of Forgetfulness

We all should have our own Tree of Forgetfulness.....what a wonderful thought.

"People often ask why my parents haven't left Africa. Simply put they have been possessed by the land. Land is Mum's love affair and it is Dad's religion." Page 117

From the beautiful landscape of the Isle of Skye in Scotland to the lush lands of East Africa....you will be taken on a journey with Nicola Fuller through her childhood and her adult life.

This book is beautifully written with wonderful descriptions of feelings, daily living, and African landscapes. You will also be given a history lesson of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.

The novel is also quite entertaining. You will love the stories, connect with the characters, feel their pain and mainly their love of the land in Africa even though Tim always said and was reminded by Nicola...."But I thought you said Africa was for the Africans." Page 210

I thoroughly enjoyed this book......vicariously living the life of the Fullers was fun but frightening. I can't begin to give all the details in this short review.....you will definitely need to read it. You will love it. 5/5

Little Black Dress by Susan McBride
 
Book Club Recommended
Little Black Dress

“I watched her as she moved, saw the way the dress sparkled…….I thought it was evil at first, what the dress had done to us.” Page 286


A little black dress with plans?

Interesting......but don't we all have a little black dress somewhere? I bet we do, but not sure anyone has a little black dress with plans....well no one except Anna Evans and her sister Toni.

And what fascinating plans they were....they were plans that affected the Evans women from one generation to the next. Its plans were both good and bad, and the dress never gave up.

I really enjoyed this book....fantastic storyline and also great chapter set up...each character had her own chapter and went from past to present with stories of the ties, the secrets, and the fate each of the Evans women shared with the little black dress. The twists and turns just made the book so good……you even get a hint of mystery.

It was a fun, clever read. The ending, and especially the very last line is SUPERB. 5/5

 
Book Club Recommended
The Blind Contessa's New Machine

A privileged childhood, a wonderful friend, a doting father, her own cottage by the lake...what more could a girl ask for......Carolina's life was like a fairy tale come true. All was perfect until she knew something was wrong with her eyesight...no one believed her, but she knew she was going blind. No one except Turri her childhood friend that is...he believed everything she said.

He told her that she would be totally blind by New Year's Day....she didn't want to accept it would happen, but Turri was correct as usual. New Year's Day was when it happened.

Carolina's days were never ending. The nights were better because she was able to see again in her dreams, but all remained dark the minute she woke up. She began to roam the house at night feeling for familiar things. What was frightening about her nightly roaming was she would hear footsteps that would stop when she stopped and doors that kept creaking in various rooms. Then one day Carolina HAD to see Turri, and she made her way to the lake and the cottage where she and Turri had always met. Right after the trip to the lake, whenever she tried to leave the house, she but wasn't able to get out...the door was locked.

One night while she roamed, she chased someone into the basement and found a surprise. The following day Turri visited her with another surprise....a writing machine....she could now type out notes to friends without spilling ink everywhere, and most importantly she could write to Turri..

The book turned from a story about a girl held prisoner by her blindness and her husband to a mystery about the characters and the person who roamed the house at night.

I enjoyed the book…it was a heartwarming read even though the blindness factor was distressing.

I would recommend reading it while wrapped up in a blanket on a cold, winter’s night next to the warm fireplace. 5/5

Solomon's Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson
 
Book Club Recommended
Solomon's Oak

"The chapel had been Dan's final project. One summer morning over his oatmeal he'd said, "I've got a bug to build myself a chapel. Nothing fancy, just a place to worship out of the rain." Page 9

Thanksgiving day, the oldest white oak tree on the Solomon property, a chapel built by Dan Solomon, a wedding, and now a foster child dealing with grief just like Glory Solomon.

Glory had to do something since Dan died...her savings was gone, and her part-time job didn't really pay the bills.

One day she was asked/begged if a wedding and a reception could be held in the chapel that Dan had built. Glory hesitated and then decided the $3,000 she would get would definitely help pay the bills that were mounting. The wedding party wanted a Thanksgiving dinner and also a reception with a pirate theme and a sword fight.

The wedding was a huge success and brought a few surprises as well.....a former policeman who happened to be photographing the oak tree and a new foster child that unknown to Glory had some connection to her family dog. The connection was too close to home, and Juniper wasn't going to be too bad to have around or so she thought, so Glory told Caroline she would keep the new foster child.

Joseph the policeman was also pretty interesting...his grandmother had lived a few miles down the road from Glory when Joseph was a child, and he remembered the oak trees of California and especially the one on the Solomon property.

Solomon's Oak told the life stories of the three main characters who definitely fit and worked well together even though the connection was through their misfortunes. The book was a cozy read for me...family life, real-life situations, talents we all have hiding inside and waiting to emerge, and just plain heartfelt warmth in the book.

You will fall in love with Glory, Juniper will drive you crazy, and Joseph's patience will amaze you.

Enjoy the book....I definitely did. Solomon’s Oak was very touching….it will make you smile, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will restore your faith in mankind’s goodness.
5/5

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Room

What hold could Old Nick have over Ma that would make that room her world? Why didn't she just leave? Or maybe she wasn't able to leave?

Jack's fifth birthday definitely wouldn't be what a normal five-year-old would be delighted with, but Jack was happy to spend the day with his Ma in their ordinary, same-as-always routine. They spent every day in the "room" with the food and clothing that Old Nick provided for them.

Ma doesn't allow Old Nick to see Jack but she never tells Jack why. Ma and Jack's days are creatively spent inventing things, measuring everything in the room that has been Ma's space for the past seven years, reading books and changing the characters to suit them, and watching the clock so they know when it is time to eat or sleep. They never leave their "room," and Jack really doesn't know any better or know anything about the outside world except what his Ma tells him when they read books.

As much as Ma tries to protect and shelter Jack, he begins to question what is beyond the walls they live in. Ma tries to divert Jack's attention to other things, but sometimes it is unavoidable......especially the night when Jack overheard a conversation between Ma and Old Nick about him and the life Old Nick provides for her.

One comment made by Old Nick that stuck in my mind was: "I don't think you appreciate how good you've got it here," "Do you?" Page 69 To me that would be highly questionable....how good could life be simply living in a room and never going outside?

I grew to hate Old Nick and how he treated both of them. When you find out the "whole" story, you won't want to stop reading.

This book is about fear, abuse, control, a mother's love, and wanting the best for your child. At first you may want to put the book down, but don't do it....you will share Ma's feelings of fear for Old Nick and her dependence on him and also the heartbreak of Jack's acceptance of the only life he has known. You will fall in love with sweet, innocent, literal Jack, and you will think about both characters and their experience long after you turn the last page.

To me this was actually a "creative" thriller...excellent storyline. I really liked the book. 5/5

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Beautiful, Brilliant
Burial Rites

Marvelous, incredible, beautifully told.

A murderess who must be housed at a farm because there is a financial problem with the prisons? How would you feel about being forced to live with someone who committed murder? Would you feel safe? Would you protest?

Agnes Magnusdóttir was brought to Margret and Jon's home until her execution date. Agnes is required to work as a farmhand in a town that embellishes her murderous deeds more and more each time the tale is told. BURIAL RITES is based on an actual historical event in Iceland.

In alternating voices and flashbacks the author masterfully lets the reader in on the secrets and the story of the murders and of Agnes' life before her conviction and in her current position in the chosen household.

The author also has you questioning if Agnes has been wrongfully accused. Her flashbacks describe the actual murder, her relationship with the deceased, and her earlier life. A life lived in this same town holding her captive.

The writing and prose is exceptional. The book flows beautifully as it describes the harsh life in Iceland and the bitter weather. There is no lull in the narration.

The book's descriptions are amazing. Every minute detail is described beautifully. Even the dreary, tedious life of each character is described so well you see it clearly and are right there sharing their misery. The living conditions were described as on the poverty level but the families had servants....that was a bit confusing.

Everyone was poised to not like Agnes, but as the story unfolded the family became fond of her simply because she was a good person and a good worker. The only person who didn't like her was Lauga, the daughter of Margret and Jon. Margret became comfortable with Agnes and enjoyed having her around. Each of the characters connected well and are marvelously authentic and believable.

BURIAL RITES is a book that you do not want to miss. The book's situation and setting, the writing, and the characters are all phenomenal and come alive through the author's exquisite skill. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation at the BEA by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Fantastic, Inspiring
The Wedding Gift

Poignant, heartbreaking, and unfortunately true.

THE WEDDING GIFT is beautiful in the sense of how the story is told in the author\'s marvelous prose and flowing style, but ugly in the harshness, cruelty, and reality of the events.

The characters will pull at your heart strings as you follow Emmeline, Belle, Sarah, and Theodora Allen through their day. The plantation owner\'s wife, Theodora Allen, is held under his thumb and must obey all his commands and put up with his physical and verbal abuse.

All these women are very strong characters in their own right, but have no rights in this era. This era seems to \"own\" the women whether they are free or enslaved. Another character who is one of the main characters, Clarissa Allen, Sarah\'s half sister and Clarissa\'s maid, is a spoiled brat but a good person underneath it all.

You will hate Mr. Cornelius Allen as well as most of the male characters for their cruelty and their shallow, arrogant thinking.

THE WEDDING GIFT is beautifully written and brings to light the way of life on a plantation and how it is run both inside and outside of the main house.

The book is told through Sarah and Theodora\'s voices. THE WEDDING GIFT talks about women and how they bond as well as how they endure the suffering at the hands of males whether it be verbal abuse, physical abuse, or infidelity. Infidelity on a plantation by the owner seemed to be something quite common.

I didn\'t want to put the book down. It was relayed so well and so smoothly that you felt as though you were there with all the characters crying with them and also helping them deal with what they had to endure whether they were the plantation\'s slaves or the owner\'s own family.

Don\'t miss out on this book....you just have to read it. You as a woman will want to share these experiences whether pleasant or unpleasant. You will also learn a great deal about history which more often than not is an unpleasant story as well as learning about the horrors of slavery and its impact on society.

A positive lesson though is to never give up, follow your dreams, and work hard. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Paris Architect: A Novel by Charles Belfoure
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
The Paris Architecgt

Can you trust the people you used to trust? Can your life be normal? That question was asked every single day of Lucien's life and every single day of any French citizen living in Paris during the Nazi occupation.

Life definitely was not the same as before. You had to watch everything you said and did. Lucien had to make a decision about doing something he knew was very dangerous. Lucien was an architect and was asked to design hiding places for Jewish friends of Auguste Manet, a well-known businessman in Paris.

Lucien feared for his life but couldn't pass up this offer. Lucien agreed only because he had no money, and because he would be paid a large sum.

You will feel Lucien's fear as he is doing something he loves, but also considering whether it is worth the cost of his life if he gets caught. You will grow to love Lucien as his truly caring side comes out in the uncaring society of this era.

You will become immersed in Paris's new way of life that had to be endured, and you will share the fear of the citizens as they waited for the dreaded knock on the door looking for Jewish residents or for a French citizen who was hiding a Jewish citizen.

The horrors of occupation will be with you as you read as well as become involved with the authentic characters and marvelous writing style. The characters were perfectly portrayed from the deviousness and cruelty of the Gestapo to the cowering citizens. The author has an easy style and draws you right into the story.

THE PARIS ARCHITECT is another WWII tale but with a different twist and one where the tension builds and your fear for Lucien increases as you rapidly turn the pages.

This is an excellent historical fiction book with some graphic scenes that depict the atrocities of WWII, but will hold your interest until the last word because of the characters and their stories. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Necessary Lies: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Dramatic
Necessary Lies

"Ivy and Mary was here."

Those words are the beginning, the ending, and the basis of NECESSARY LIES. Those five words go full circle in this incredible, haunting book.

You will be transported to another world as you read NECESSARY LIES. A world of poverty and illiteracy as well as pity for the way the families had to live.

Jane, a physician's wife, was the new social worker dealing with the Hart and Jordan families. The families worked on a farm owned by Mr. Gardiner who had connections with both families - connections that were not on the up and up. The Hart girls, Ivy and Mary Ella, were the biggest problems for the family and definitely the social worker. Together each family told a lot of secrets and "necessary lies" to the social worker.

The book's characters were genuine and will tug at your emotions. One thing after another happens to the family, and the social worker gets drawn into the family's plight even though the social services agency told her some of things she was doing for the family were not acceptable.

The book flowed very nicely and was divided into chapters told in the voice of the main characters. You will become attached to the characters as I did and will be staying up late to "turn the pages" of this well-researched and beautifully written, poignant book based on a true program implemented in North Carolina.

NECESSARY LIES is the perfect title because lies were necessary for the characters to survive. It is heart wrenching yet informative as you follow the characters through their inadequate, restricted days. I thoroughly enjoyed this insightful, sensitive first book I have read by Diane Chamerblain. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Beautiful, Brilliant
Burial Rites

Marvelous, incredible, beautifully told.

A murderess who must be housed at a farm because there is a financial problem with the prisons? How would you feel about being forced to live with someone who committed murder? Would you feel safe? Would you protest?

Agnes Magnusdóttir was brought to Margret and Jon's home until her execution date. Agnes is required to work as a farmhand in a town that embellishes her murderous deeds more and more each time the tale is told. BURIAL RITES is based on an actual historical event in Iceland.

In alternating voices and flashbacks the author masterfully lets the reader in on the secrets and the story of the murders and of Agnes' life before her conviction and in her current position in the chosen household.

The author also has you questioning if Agnes has been wrongfully accused. Her flashbacks describe the actual murder, her relationship with the deceased, and her earlier life. A life lived in this same town holding her captive.

The writing and prose is exceptional. The book flows beautifully as it describes the harsh life in Iceland and the bitter weather. There is no lull in the narration.

The book's descriptions are amazing. Every minute detail is described beautifully. Even the dreary, tedious life of each character is described so well you see it clearly and are right there sharing their misery. The living conditions were described as on the poverty level but the families had servants....that was a bit confusing.

Everyone was poised to not like Agnes, but as the story unfolded the family became fond of her simply because she was a good person and a good worker. The only person who didn't like her was Lauga, the daughter of Margret and Jon. Margret became comfortable with Agnes and enjoyed having her around. Each of the characters connected well and are marvelously authentic and believable.

BURIAL RITES is a book that you do not want to miss. The book's situation and setting, the writing, and the characters are all phenomenal and come alive through the author's exquisite skill. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation at the BEA by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 
Book Club Recommended
The German Heiress

Living two lives - one during the war and one after.

During the war she was Clara Falkenberg who was in charge of her family's iron works and was cruel to the workers.

After the war, she assumed another name, Margarete Mueller, lived in a boarding house, and worked as a secretary.

Could she hide her identity forever? She thought so, but the British had been following her for years and had extensive records of her war crimes.

They found her on a train back to her hometown to find a friend, was pulled off, interrogated, and the search was over. Or was it over?

Clara denied everything, but she knew they had enough evidence to charge her with war crimes. When being transported to another area, she escaped.

She hid for a few days, and then found the house she was looking for. It was the house of her friend Elisa. It definitely was NOT the house it used to be. It was rubble.

Clara did find something through it all. She found a family living in the basement and a family that had known Elisa.

The search for Elisa began, but where to begin was the question. Just as Clara was digging through the rubble, another person came along who was looking for Elisa too. It was Jakob who needed Elise to tell her some news.

Could they work together to find Elisa?

And....could Clara remain hidden from the British officer looking for her?

THE GERMAN HEIRESS has family secrets and is very well written and researched. The descriptions are detailed and vivid.

The story line is captivating with authentic characters.

Historical fiction fans will be extremely pleased with THE GERMAN HEIRESS. 4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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