Everyday Tidbits...

I think winter suddenly disappeared. We've been in the high 60s this week.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rules for Public Libraries

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Not Without My Father...Preview

About the book:
Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero?

Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become the first living person to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days.

After striking out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his gas. The sleep apnea machine and self-scratching. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim.

As Watkins trudged America’s forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late. In Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Watkins invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in a humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn I wish I had into I’m glad I did.

About the author:
Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina. A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University. She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater, because her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films. In addition to her writing talent, Andra is an accomplished public speaker. Her acclaimed debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press in 2014.

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for the opportunity to preview this book. You can learn more about Andra Watkins here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Memory of Violets...Review

About the book:
“For little sister. . . . I will never stop looking for you.”

1876. Among the filth and depravity of Covent Garden’s flower markets, orphaned Irish sisters Flora and Rosie Flynn sell posies of violets and watercress to survive. It is a pitiful existence, made bearable only by each other’s presence. When they become separated, the decision of a desperate woman sets their lives on very different paths.

1912. Twenty-one-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London to become assistant housemother at one of Mr. Shaw’s Training Homes for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the homes have cared for London’s orphaned and crippled flower girls, getting them off the streets. For Tilly, the appointment is a fresh start, a chance to leave her troubled past behind.

Soon after she arrives at the home, Tilly finds a notebook belonging to Flora Flynn. Hidden between the pages she finds dried flowers and a heartbreaking tale of loss and separation as Flora’s entries reveal how she never stopped looking for her lost sister. Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie—but the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart.

Oh. My. Goodness. I've found my favorite book of the year and it's only February.

Florrie and Rosie Flynn do their best to survive the harsh slums of London by selling flowers in the streets. Many a night they sleep on those same streets to avoid their abusive father. Their life is wretched, deplorable and without hope, until one day they meet Mr. Albert Shaw, who has taken it upon himself to help the orphaned and crippled flower girls. Florrie looks after her little sister religiously until the day Rosie is snatched off the street. Mr. Shaw takes Florrie in and she lives and works in the flower home until her death, never ending the search for her sister.

Years later, Tilly comes to work at the flower home and finds Florrie's journal which details her life without Rosie. But where Florrie couldn't bear to live without Rosie, Tilly has left her home and doesn't want to look back. Her father is dead and her relationship with her mother and sister is difficult. After discovering Florrie's notebook, Tilly is drawn to her and vows to find out what happened to Rosie. But, as she faces Florrie's past, Tilly must also face her own.

I loved the alternating perspectives of Tilly and Florrie. The story flows well and the hardship and burden these children lived with is vividly captured here. The mystical element was soft and perfect for the story.

The novel is based on fact in that a man did, indeed, found homes for orphaned girls, many of whom were pitiful flower sellers. He gave them not only a home, but a purpose and trained them in a skill. I was unaware that such homes even existed, but then, my knowledge of flower girls in London pretty much begins and ends with Eliza Doolittle. The historical aspect here is rich and I enjoyed the notes at the end of the book.

Hazel did a fantastic job of capturing the time, the poverty and despair. This isn't an inherently happy story, but it's not miserable either. It's truly lovely. What Hazel does capture most of all, is the happiness that these girls felt as they began to believe they had value, Tilly included. A beautiful story of love and forgiveness. Now, I want to plant violets this spring.

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

Read 2/15

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Into the Whirlwind...Review

About the book:
As owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, Mollie Knox's future looks bright until the night the legendary Great Chicago Fire destroys her beloved city. With her world crumbling around her, Mollie will do whatever it takes to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek, an influential attorney for one of Chicago's finest department stores, is a force to be reckoned with among the city's most powerful citizens. Bold and shrewd, he's accustomed to getting exactly what he wants--until he meets Mollie Knox, the beguiling businesswoman just beyond his reach.

In the tumult as the people of Chicago race to rebuild a bigger and better city, Mollie comes face-to-face with the full force of Zack's character and influence. Zack believes this may finally be his chance to win her, but can Mollie ever accept this man and his whirlwind effect on her life, especially with her treasured company on the line?

I loved Mollie and her determination. She loves the watch company she inherited from her father and she is smart and successful. She cares about her employees, many of whom are disabled and served with her father in the Civil War.

Zack is a prickly attorney who has long harbored a secret attraction to Mollie. Working on a business deal, they find themselves in the middle of the Great Chicago Fire and Mollie loses her building. In the aftermath of the fire and as Chicago rushes to rebuild itself, Mollie and Zack find themselves both attracted to and at odds with each other. When the men who served in the war with her father show up to help her rebuild, Zack becomes jealous of Mollie's relationship with her father's colonel.

I enjoyed Zack and Mollie even as I was frustrated with their relationship and the assumptions and misunderstandings. Seriously, it's called communication. The secondary characters were terrific and I appreciated Declan and his all to real struggle with PTSD. Sophie was a little snot and it was nice to see her grow and redeem herself.

I adore the historical aspects of Elizabeth's books. They are rich and filled with glorious detail. Having never been to Chicago, its history is new to me and I enjoyed learning more about it. The elements of watch and clock making was fascinating.

Sometimes books arrive and then get stashed in my TBR pile where they can unfortunately languish. This is one that just sat patiently waiting to be picked up. I'm sorry it took so long to get to, but it was definitely worth it.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Elizabeth Camden here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/15

* * * *
4/5 Stars