Everyday Tidbits...

"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile." - William Cullen Bryant

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Red Book of Primrose House...Review and Giveaway

About the book:
In Marty Wingate’s charming new Potting Shed Mystery, Texas transplant Pru Parke’s restoration of a historic landscape in England is uprooted by an ax murderer.

Pru Parke has her dream job: head gardener at an eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex. The landscape for Primrose House was laid out in 1806 by renowned designer Humphry Repton in one of his meticulously illustrated Red Books, and the new owners want Pru to restore the estate to its former glory—quickly, as they’re planning to showcase it in less than a year at a summer party.

But life gets in the way of the best laid plans: When not being happily distracted by the romantic attentions of the handsome Inspector Christopher Pearse, Pru is digging into the mystery of her own British roots. Still, she manages to make considerable progress on the vast grounds—until vandals wreak havoc on each of her projects. Then, to her horror, one of her workers is found murdered among the yews. The police have a suspect, but Pru is certain they’re wrong. Once again, Pru finds herself entangled in a thicket of evil intentions—and her, without a hatchet.

Having just read 
The Garden Plot, I was thrilled to jump right back into Pru's life. She has been offered her dream job as the head gardener for an old English estate, whose garden was designed by a renowned landscape designer. Pru is ecstastic at the prospect of restoring the gardens to their former greatness and seeing Detective Inspector Pearse on the weekends.

But Pru can't simply have a normal life. As she works on the gardens, vandals destroy her efforts, her assistants bicker and she walks into the garden one day to find one of them murdered. Pru once again finds herself thrust into a murder investigation, this time with a crotchety detective who resents her involvement. However, Pru is curious and clever and discovers answers and clues on her own, even as her life is once again in danger.

I loved this one more than the first one. Pru and Christopher are terrific together. I love the subplots of Christopher's son and Pru's discovery of family. Pru's new friends are terrific and the story enthralling. I didn't want to put it down and while I had my suspicions of the culprit, I was still left guessing until the end.

Sequel to The Garden Plot, the story can stand on its own, but the character development is richer for having read the first book.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Marty Wingate here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Because I loved the book and I know many of you will too, please enter the giveaway for a gift card and copy of The Garden Plot!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The Garden Plot...Review

About the book:
In an entirely appealing mystery debut, Marty Wingate introduces readers to a curious Texas ex-pat whose English gardening expertise on occasion leads her to unearth murderous goings-on.

Pru Parke always dreamed of living in England. And after the Dallas native follows an impulse and moves to London, she can't imagine ever leaving--though she has yet to find a plum position as a head gardener. Now, as the sublet on her flat nears its end, the threat of forced departure looms. Determined to stay in her beloved adopted country, Pru takes small, private gardening jobs throughout the city.

On one such gig in Chelsea, she makes an extraordinary find. Digging in the soil of a potting shed, Pru uncovers an ancient Roman mosaic. But enthusiasm over her discovery is soon dampened when, two days later, she finds in the same spot a man's bludgeoned corpse. As the London police swarm her worksite, ever inquisitive Pru can't quite manage to distance herself from the investigation--much to the dismay of stern Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse. It seems that, much as he tries, even handsome DCI Pearse can't keep Pru safe from a brutal killer who thinks she's already dug up too much.

All Pru Parke has ever wanted is to live in her mother's home country of England and be the gardener for an English manor. After her mother's death, she impulsively moves to London. While searching for a permanent head gardener position, Pru takes on some smaller jobs and uncovers an ancient Roman mosaic. Soon afterwards, she discovers a dead body in the same location and finds herself involved in the investigation. While often, unintentionally, impeding it, she also manages to uncover clues, but it all turns scary when the killer comes after Pru.

I like cozy mysteries, but they're not always my first genre of choice. When this one came across my radar, I grabbed it based on the British setting. I was not disappointed. Pru was terrific and while I thought she was very naive at times, she was plucky and resilient. I liked Christopher and I hope to see more of his relationship with Pru in future books.

I love mature heroines. And Pru is a 50-something gardener with a penchant for sleuthing that often gets her into trouble! This is the first in the Potting Shed Mystery series and it was a lot of fun. I look forward to more.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Marty Wingate here. You can purchase your own copy here\.

Read 11/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conversations at our House

Mom: "Is your homework finished?"
The Boy: "Not really. We have to read an essay by this 200 year old dead guy and do a dialectical journal."
Mom: "Who are you reading?"
The Boy: "Somebody named Thoreau."
Mom: (excitedly) "Henry David Thoreau. He wrote Walden."
The Boy: "Yeah, Walden, that guy. I don't get any of it."
Mom: "Show me what essay and I will read it and then we can talk about it together. Will that help?
The Boy: (relieved) "Yes!"
Mom: "And then I will show you Dead Poets Society. Robin Williams. Awesome."

Yep, Thoreau is a 200 year old dead guy. Did you know?

What was really cool about this conversation was that later that evening, we sat down together. We talked about the essay, he found his quotes and necessary points for his dialectical journal. He began to get a grasp of the essay and points. We went through the questions at the end of the essay and talked about them, even though he said we didn't need to.

The next day, the conversation went like this:

The Boy: "You totally saved me in English today."
Mom: "Why?"
The Boy: "We had a sub and the assignment was to do the questions at the end of the essay. I looked at the kid next to me and said, 'It's cool. I've got this. My mom went over these with me last night!'"
Mom: "So it was a good thing that we did that then?"
The Boy: "Yes, and I totally understand the part about the train now too!"

Yep, sometimes homework help does have its rewards...

This post has been edited.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten...Review

About the book:
The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime

Three siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In White Christmas by Cara Putman, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theatre in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the front line in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and God’s plan for a future?

I love Christmas. I love Christmas stories. And there is just something touching and poignant about war time Christmases.

Where Treetops Glisten is fantastic. These are novellas, so of course the stories are wrapped up fairly quickly, but they're also full of depth and heartwarming. I would have loved a full-length novel for each couple!

Honestly, I can't pick a favorite although if I was forced to it would probably be Pete and Grace's story in I'll be Home for Christmas and that is mostly because Linnie was such a delightful child! But, I loved their story of forgiveness.

I loved the Turner family and I spent a happy afternoon curled up in my easy chair following their stories from book to book. This really is the perfect winter read.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Friday, November 14, 2014

Loving Lucianna...Preview and Giveaway

About the book:
Sir Balduin de Soler gave up long ago on love. He never had the means to support a wife until an unexpected advancement in his fifties allows him to reassess his future just as the lovely Lucianna enters his life.

Lucianna Fabio harbors a secret, painful memory from her past that has kept her unwed, as well. Now in her forties, she thought herself too old to marry until she meets Sir Balduin. Now suddenly their lonely autumn lives feel very much like spring again . . . until Lucianna’s brother appears without warning and threatens to revive the secret that will destroy Lucianna’s second chance at love.

About the author:
Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).

Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.

Thanks to Laura at Italy Book Tours for the opportunity to preview this book. You can learn more about Joyce DiPastena here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

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