Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Whimsy Wednesday


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Woman Who Kept Everything...#BookReview

About the book:
The Lady in the Van meets The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in this uplifting, funny and moving debut novel about a 79-year-old hoarder who is convinced the world is against her.

79-year-old Gloria Frensham is a hoarder. She lives amongst piles of magazines, cardboard boxes and endless knick-knacks that are stacked into every room of her home, and teeter in piles along the landing and up the stairs.

She hasn’t left the house in years, but when a sudden smell of burning signifies real danger, she is forced to make a sudden departure and leave behind her beloved possessions.

Determined she’s not ready for a care home, Gloria sets out to discover what life still has to offer her. It’s time to navigate the outside world on her own, one step at a time, with just one very small suitcase in tow...

Heart-warming and poignant in equal measure, this is a story about the loneliness of life, the struggles of growing old, the power of kindness, and the bravery it takes to leave our comfort zones..

Gloria is a hoarder. She doesn't realize it and climbing over stacks of stuff and garbage isn't a problem for her. The bathtub is full? No worries, she doesn't need a shower anyway. She just doesn't understand why her son won't visit.

When an electrical fault causes social services to move her out of her house, she is forced to stay at a facility for care and counseling. It is here that she begins to realize how her hoarding has affected her life. When she is released from the facility, she goes to live with her son and his family, believing that her home was just being cleaned and she would return there.

Once she realizes her son intends to sell the house, keep the money and commit his mother to a facility somewhere else, Gloria decides she has had enough and sets out on an adventure. She begins traveling, meeting people and making friends. And along the way, she learns that she is a woman with a lot to offer.

I appreciated that while the story was more light-hearted than serious, it did not treat the subject of hoarding lightly.

I loved Gloria's spunk and tenaciousness. Watching her blossom into a remarkable woman was a delight. Seeing her joy at helping an old friend, a hoarder herself, and realizing how unhappy and unfulfilled she was for so many years was gratifying.

While this is a story of one woman discovering who she is, it is also a story about relationships. It is a story about kindness and compassion; about adventure and friendship and finding joy in life. It is a story that shows us it is never too late for anyone to learn to love their life.

Thank you to Netgalley and Avon Books UK for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Jane Gilley on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Read 10/18

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, October 29, 2018

Dear George, Dear Mary...#BookReview

About the book:
A novel about heiress Mary Philipse's relationship with George Washington, based on historical accounts, letters, and personal journals by nine-time New York Emmy award-winning journalist Mary Calvi.

"Love is said to be an involuntary passion, and it is, therefore, contended that it cannot be resisted." --George Washington

Did unrequited love spark a flame that ignited a cause that became the American Revolution? Never before has this story about George Washington been told. Crafted from hundreds of letters, witness accounts, and journal entries, Dear George, Dear Mary explores George's relationship with his first love, New York heiress Mary Philipse, the richest belle in Colonial America.

From elegant eighteenth-century society to bloody battlefields, the novel creates breathtaking scenes and riveting characters. Dramatic portraits of the two main characters unveil a Washington on the precipice of greatness, using the very words he spoke and wrote, and his ravishing love, whose outward beauty and refinement disguise a complex inner struggle.

Dear George, Dear Mary reveals why George Washington had such bitter resentment toward the Brits, established nearly two decades before the American Revolution, and it unveils details of a deception long hidden from the world that led Mary Philipse to be named a traitor, condemned to death and left with nothing. While that may sound like the end, ultimately both Mary and George achieve what they always wanted.

I have long been fascinated by George Washington. So, naturally I was intrigued by the idea of Dear George, Dear Mary

Honestly, this was not a story I enjoyed and barely finished. I know that George Washington had relationships with women and feelings for at least one before and after his marriage to Martha. His relationship with Sally Fairfax is well known. However, I was unaware of the existence of Mary Philipse before reading this novel.

While I appreciate that the author did extensive research using historical accounts, letters and journals to create this fictionalized story, I have a difficult time believing that George's perceptions and hatred of the British all stemmed from a failed relationship. That just does not ring true for me.

I found the novel long on detail and short on story. There was too much he did something and she felt something. And, I struggled to find any sort of connection or empathy to these characters.

Ultimately though, I think that many readers of history and historical fiction will enjoy this story. And early reviews have many readers praising it. It just wasn't a good fit for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Mary Calvi on her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Read 10/18

* *
2/5 Stars

Thursday, October 25, 2018

#CoverCrush: The Wife

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


A ring. The beach. Stormy skies. I have no idea what this book is about. But, I love any cover that teases a beach/ocean theme. 

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Glovemaker...#BookReview

About the book:
In the inhospitable lands of the Utah Territory, during the winter of 1888, thirty-seven-year-old Deborah Tyler waits for her husband, Samuel, to return home from his travels as a wheelwright. It is now the depths of winter, Samuel is weeks overdue, and Deborah is getting worried.

Deborah lives in Junction, a tiny town of seven Mormon families scattered along the floor of a canyon, and she earns her living by tending orchards and making work gloves. Isolated by the red-rock cliffs that surround the town, she and her neighbors live apart from the outside world, even regarded with suspicion by the Mormon faithful who question the depth of their belief.

When a desperate stranger who is pursued by a Federal Marshal shows up on her doorstep seeking refuge, it sets in motion a chain of events that will turn her life upside down. The man, a devout Mormon, is on the run from the US government, which has ruled the practice of polygamy to be a felony. Although Deborah is not devout and doesn’t subscribe to polygamy, she is distrustful of non-Mormons with their long tradition of persecuting believers of her wider faith.

But all is not what it seems, and when the Marshal is critically injured, Deborah and her husband’s best friend, Nels Anderson, are faced with life and death decisions that question their faith, humanity, and both of their futures.

Those who lived in the canyons of southern Utah knew them to be inhospitable to even the hardiest of settlers and travelers. Deborah waits for word from her husband Samuel, who has been traveling as a wheelwright. He is late arriving, and as she is alone as winter sets in, Deborah worries. But, she is an amazingly strong and resilient woman, despite the adversity and struggles she has endured.

Deborah and her husband, while not practicing polygamy themselves, are part of a network that helps men who are being pursued by lawmen because they are polygamists. Men show up at their farm and knowing the proper codes are given food, a night's rest and a guide to the next outpost as they outrun the law.

The story alternates viewpoints between Deborah and her husband's best friend and step-brother Nels and reads almost as a narrated journal from each person. But, even with both perspectives, this is very much Deborah's story. As she narrates her experiences, the pace is slow, but flowing and her descriptions are vivid and her explanations of the practices of Mormonism at the time are accurate and I found myself sympathetic to her conflicting thoughts and doubting faith.

So many authors who tackle the subject of Mormons and polygamy, often do so from an angle that is derogatory and critical of the people who practiced it. I appreciated that the author did not do that. Instead, she wrote about it from the sensitive viewpoint of an LDS woman who does not necessarily support the practice of polygamy, but understands that people of her faith do and who, because of her compassion can't turn away men who are fleeing the law.

The subject of polygamy is one that isn't simply black and white, especially for those who practiced it. Deborah's story shows us the complexities involved in the decisions made to take additional wives and in the reactions of the first or previous wives.

This was my first Ann Weisgarber novel, but it won't be my last. This is a story that resonated and stayed with me. My only pet peeve, and my copy is an ARC, so hopefully this has been corrected, but in the preface, there is a scripture quoted from the Book of Mormon and it is incorrect. The reference cites Ester and it should be Ether.

Thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Ann Weisgarber on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Read 10/18

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, October 22, 2018

Sold on a Monday...#BookReview

About the book:
2 CHILDREN FOR SALE

The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs, and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.

At the paper, Lillian Palmer is haunted by her role in all that happened. She is far too familiar with the heartbreak of children deemed unwanted. As the bonds of motherhood are tested, she and Ellis must decide how much they are willing to risk to mend a fractured family.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home.

The Depression is a time in history that is as fascinating as it is appalling. It's hard for me to understand it and how people were forced to live. Mobsters and prohibition make it mysterious and beckon the reader forward. Yet for most who lived during the Depression, it was a time simply of surviving in any possible way. And too many mouths to feed sometimes meant that children were given away for adoption, or in the case of this story, sold.

I loved these characters. Ellis and Lily. Sylvia, Ruby and Calvin. The writing is detailed and vivid. The rush of the newsroom; Ellis' surprise and fear when he discovers his photo is going to be published; Lily's desperate need to keep her secrets; the house where the children are playing when Ellis arrives, and so much more.

Kristina McMorris has an innate ability to capture the intimacy of any given setting and situation and the story moves quickly, weaving your emotions in and out of the character's own.

I could not read this book fast enough. To call it compelling is a vast understatement. Compulsory or irresistible is a better description.

Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Kristina McMorris on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Read 8/2018

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Friday, October 19, 2018

Childhood Favorites...Little Women

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

I devoured Little Women the first time I read it and so many times since then. I don't remember how old I was that first time, probably in elementary school, but I loved it immediately. It was a book about sisters and I have three younger sisters. And while being the oldest, I related so well to Jo. I was the bookish one.



I loved Little Men and Jo's Boys when I discovered them. Plumfield was such a cool place and I so enjoyed seeing Jo and her professor together.

I adored Laurie as much as the next girl, but I never wanted him to get together with Jo. She and Frederich are true soulmates. You see this so much clearer in the sequels. I mean, how can you not sigh at this: "Jo, I haf nothing but much love to gif you. I came to see if you could care for it, and I waited to be sure that I was something more than a friend. Am I? Can you make a little place in your heart for old Fritz?" he added, all in one breath.

My favorite film is the 1994 one with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale. It was such a fantastic book to film adaptation.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

#CoverCrush: A Gentleman in Moscow

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


A vintage black and white photo. A man stands at a window, looking over a street. Who is he? Where is he? What is his story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter...#BookReview

About the book:
“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”

1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.

1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.

Grace loved caring for the lighthouse where she had grown up and she was fortunate to have a father who allowed her to work alongside him. George frustrated me. I don't like men without a backbone, who won't stand up to the expectations of life. I'll leave it at that. Matilda was a spitfire who didn't want to be sent away to live with a stranger and I adored how her relationship with Harriet blossomed. Harriet was awesome. Loved her.

I enjoyed the dual narratives between Grace in 1888 and Matilda and Harriet in 1938. The stories blended well seamlessly and I was not quite prepared for the ending.

Hazel has again captured the experiences of these people in a way that makes the reader sympathize with: the shame that comes from being pregnant out of wedlock; the frustrations of being a woman who is not recognized for her role in a profession that is deemed more suitable for a man; the desperation to survive a shipwreck during a storm at sea and the struggle of the people who rescue the survivors.

It's no secret that I absolutely relish stories about the strength of women, and these three women were resilient, brave, and strong. This isn't an inherently happy story, although the ending is satisfying, but the admiration you feel for these characters trumps any heartache.

Thanks to Edelweiss for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Hazel on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Read 8/18

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Confectioner's Tale...#BookReview

About the book:
What secrets are hiding in the heart of Paris?

At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner's daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.

But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.

Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words 'Forgive me'. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

Take a moment to savour an evocative, bittersweet love story that echoes through the decades – perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Victoria Hislop.

I will admit that I picked up this book because of its cover. True story. How do you resist a cover like this one? A book, a beautiful, mysterious woman, macarons and the Eiffel Tower. I couldn't resist it. And, I wasn't disappointed.

Set in Paris, in the early 20th century, the story is engaging. The perspectives alternate between Guillaume in Paris and Petra Stevenson in 1980s England. When she discovers that the man writing a book about her beloved grandfather has stumbled upon a potential scandal, graduate student Petra finds herself searching to find answers before he does. In the process, she discovers a picture and sets out to find out who the people in it are.

The story weaves fairly seamlessly between the perspectives. While Gui's life as an apprentice at the patisserie is difficult, it is fascinating. How that world worked. Those who created amazing pastries and decadent desserts were such a culture clash with those who bought them and ate in the restaurant. Gui's forbidden friendship and love with the owner's daughter Jeanne is at the crux of the story.

Petra grew on me. Her dedication to finding out her grandfather's secrets and adventures in doing so compelled me to read further. I loved the descriptive writing and rich narrative. It made me miss Paris and I wanted to bake after reading it.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Laura Madeleine on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Read 7/18

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, October 11, 2018

#CoverCrush: Cinder

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


A woman's leg in a high-heeled shoe. Drawn to indicate that perhaps she isn't human. The title and the shoe imply a Cinderella-esque story. Who is this woman and what is her story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

#CoverCrush: The Vow

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.



A man and a woman, sitting closely together, arms entwined. Are they posing for a photograph? Are they waiting for an event to start? She is holding his arm, he is not holding her hand. Who are they? Why are they together? What is their story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation.