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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Last Camellia...Review


About the book:
A romantic and suspenseful tale about two women whose destiny is bound across the years

On the eve of World War II, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?

Sarah Jio's novels all follow the same premise: alternating narratives between the past and the present with a mystery that the modern day protagonist must solve with links and clues to the past.  It's a formula that works well as her stories cross the generations.  The floral thievery aspect of this novel was fascinating to me.  I'd never heard of people stealing flowers or that particular flowers could be so valuable.

Flora and Addison were characters with great potential and I really liked Addison's husband Rex.  I can't say that I liked any of the Livingston's at all and the story was a bit predictable as to what happens to the missing girls.  Bit on the macabre side of things, but compelling nonetheless.  I kind of liked the little twist at the end and thought it appropriate.

I have enjoyed the previous two Sarah Jio books I've read and I was looking forward to her new one.  This one didn't capture me as much as the other two, although it is still an enjoyable novel.

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

Monday, June 24th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, June 26th:  Utah Mom’s Life
Friday, June 28th:  Book Addict Katie
Monday, July 1st:  A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, July 2nd:  Ageless Pages Review
Wednesday, July 3rd:  A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, July 8th:  Write, Meg!
Thursday, July 11th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, July 15th:  Amused by Books
Wednesday, July 17th:  Guiltless Reading
Thursday, July 18th:  Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Monday, July 22nd:  Book Dilettante
Tuesday, July 23rd:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
Thursday, July 25th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, July 26th:  BookChickDi
TBD:  Books a la Mode - guest post
TBD:  2 Kids and Tired

Read 7/13

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Godiva...Review

About the book:
Everyone knows the legend of Lady Godiva-the woman who (in)famously rode naked on horseback through Coventry to relieve her people from unfair taxation. But why would a lady of the court take it all off and risk everything, including husband, home, and well-being?

In this richly imagined retelling of an oft-told ancient tale, Nicole Galland gives us Lady Godiva in all her, um, glory, as she and her best friend (the Abbess Egdiva) and husband (Leofric, Earl of Mercia) embark on an adventure filled with courtly intrigue, deceit, back-stabbing, and romance.

Nicole Galland has fictionalized the story of Lady Godiva and gives us a fairly rich story in which we see the court at its deceitful best.  I found the historical aspects fascinating, but the story itself took a long time for me to get into.  Godiva's repartee with those around her, but especially King Edward when she thinks she's bested him is terrific.  I liked her as a character, I thought she cared about her people.  I enjoyed the relationship she had with her husband, even as she used her wiles to charm those of the court around her.

Like many people, I was unfamiliar with the original story of Lady Godiva other than legends and snarky pop culture references.  I did some research before reading and I'm glad I familiarized myself with her because I appreciated learning the reason behind her decision to ride through town naked.  The traditional story is a bit different from what Nicole portrays here, but I could believe this one.

This is one of those books that isn't easy to review.  Did I enjoy it?  For the most part.  Is it compelling? Somewhat.  Is it one I would reread?  No.  Is it one I would recommend?  Perhaps.

My copy was an ARC and did not include the historical epilogue which will be included in the final printing. The author was kind enough to send me a copy of that epilogue and I am so glad she did.  It clarifies many things about the original characters of Godiva and Leofric and Sweyn and Egdiva.  I am glad it will be a part of the final printing.

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

Tuesday, July 2nd: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, July 3rd: From L.A. to LA
Thursday, July 4th: West Metro Mommy
Tuesday, July 9th: Dreaming in Books
Wednesday, July 10th: A Dream Withing a Dream
Thursday, July 11th: A Bookish Affair
Saturday, July 13th: guiltless reading
Monday, July 15th: Col Reads
Tuesday, July 16th: Lectus
Wednesday, July 17th: nomadreader
Thursday, July 18th: guiltless reading
Tuesday, July 23rd: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Thursday, July 25th: Twisting the Lens

Read 7/13

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stargazey Point...Review

About the book:
Devastated by tragedy during her last project, documentarian Abbie Sinclair thinks she has nothing left to give by the time she arrives in Stargazey Point. Once a popular South Carolina family destination, the town's beaches have eroded, local businesses are closing, and skyrocketing taxes are driving residents away. Stargazey Point, like Abbie, is fighting to survive.

But Abbie is drawn slowly into the lives of the people around her: the Crispin siblings, three octogenarians sharing a looming plantation house; Cab Reynolds, who left his work as an industrial architect to refurbish his uncle's antique carousel, a childhood sanctuary; Ervina, an old Gullah wisewoman with the power to guide Abbie to a new life, if only she'd let her; and a motley crew of children whom Abbie can't ignore.

Abbie came seeking a safe haven, but what she finds is so much more. For Stargazey Point is a magical place . . . a place for dreamers . . . a place that can lead you home.

Needing to a place to recover from a heart-breaking tragedy, Abbie Sinclair finds herself at Crispin House in Stargazey Point, South Carolina.  Stargazey Point was once a tourist destination and was devastated by one too many hurricanes and a slumping economy.  Still retaining much of its charm, its residents fight to stay.

Abbie finds herself drawn to the people she meets and the charming seaside town.  The Crispin's welcome her into their plantation home and she discovers a struggling community center with children looking for a purpose.  Cab Reynolds, who is refurbishing the old Stargazey Point carousel warms his way into Abbie's heart as well.

Stargazey Point is simply a charming southern novel.  Not fluffy chick lit, but not heavy-handed either. It's a lovely story about friendship and community and coming together for the greater good.  These were terrific characters and this is a story I simply adored.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Shelley Noble here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  Shelley Noble also has an e-single called Stargazey Nights that tells Cab's story before he came to Stargazey Point.  You can purchase that here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Tuesday, July 9th: BookNAround
Wednesday, July 10th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, July 11th: BoundByWords
Monday, July 15th: The House of the Seven Tails
Thursday, July 18th: Broken Teepee
Friday, July 19th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, July 23rd: A Patchwork of Books
Thursday, July 25th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, July 29th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, July 31st: Becca’s Byline
TBD: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

 Read 7/13
* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mailbox Monday 7/15

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, and this month is hosted by Tasha of Book-Obsessed.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

This is what showed up at my house over the past couple of weeks.  I haven't been home, life is crazy.  But, as I have a ginormous TBR list, it's probably good that this list is relatively small.


Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel (for review, from TLC Book Tours)
Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble (for review, from Litfuse Publicity)


Blackmoore by  Julianne Donaldson (for review, from Deseret Book)
The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey (for review, from TLC Book Tours)
-----------------------------------

What new books did you receive?  For more Mailbox Monday posts, check out Book-Obsessed.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Together Tea...Review

About the book:
In Together Tea, Marjan Kamali’s delightful and heartwarming debut novel, Darya has discovered the perfect gift for her daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday: an ideal husband. Mina, however, is fed up with her mother’s years of endless matchmaking and the spreadsheets grading available Iranian-American bachelors. Having spent her childhood in Tehran and the rest of her life in New York City, Mina has experienced cultural clashes firsthand, but she’s learning that the greatest clashes sometimes happen at home.

After a last ill-fated attempt at matchmaking, mother and daughter embark on a return journey to Iran. Immersed once again in Persian culture, the two women gradually begin to understand each other. But when Mina falls for a young man who never appeared on her mother’s matchmaking radar, will Mina and Darya’s new-found appreciation for each other survive?

Together Tea is a moving and joyous debut novel about family, love, and finding the place you truly belong.

Tired of her mother's matchmaking attempts and wanting to know who she is and where she came from, Mina returns to Iran after immigrating 15 years ago.

I found the historical aspect of this novel fascinating.  My knowledge of Iran-American relations is spotty and comes mostly from the media, which we all know isn't to be trusted completely.  I remember the hostage crisis in 1979-1981. Here, I loved the perspective of a young woman who grew up in Iran and immigrated to America in the early days of the Iran/Iraq war.  When she spoke about the hyphen between the words Iranian-American, her writing was beautifully lyrical.

The story jumps between past and present as Mina remembers the Iran she left and the America she lives in presently.  As she and her mother visit present-day Iran, 15 years after leaving, the contrast between the countries was riveting. The poignant relationship between mother and daughter is the heart of the story and as mother and daughter return to Iran, Mina discovers the woman her mother once was and Darya learns she needs to let her daughter make her own choices.

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

Friday, June 21st: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, June 25th: Excellent Library
Wednesday, June 26th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, June 27th: Book Club Classics!
Monday, July 1st: Lit and Life
Tuesday, July 2nd: BookNAround
Wednesday, July 3rd: A Patchwork of Books
Monday, July 8th: 5 Minutes For Books
Wednesday, July 10th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, July 15th: Books in the City
Wednesday, July 17th: From L.A. to LA
Friday, July 19th: Reads for Pleasure

Read 7/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Guardian...Review

About the book:
When schoolteacher Jodi Winfield goes for a morning run, the last thing she expects is to find a disheveled little girl all alone on the side of the Pennsylvania road, clad only in her undergarments, her chubby cheeks streaked with tears. Jodi takes the preschooler home with her, intending to find out where she belongs. But Jodi is mystified when no one seems to know of a missing child, and the girl herself is no help, since she can't speak a word of English. It's as if the child appeared out of nowhere.

As the days pass, Jodi becomes increasingly attached to the mysterious girl, yet she is no closer to learning her identity. Then an unexpected opportunity brings Jodi to Hickory Hollow--and into the cloistered world of the Lancaster Old Order Amish. Might the answers lie there?

Mourning her sister's death, Jodi has convinced herself that she doesn't want children. Loving her anyway, her fiance agrees to never have children even as he has strong desires for them.  While Jodi is house sitting for her cousin in Lancaster county, she discovers a lost toddler, all alone on the road.  Jodi takes her home and bonds in a way she could never have anticipated.  As she turns to the Amish community to find out to which family the child belongs, she finds her life changed yet again as she discovers faith and friendship.

I love Amish stories that blend the Amish with the Englisch.  Jodi was a terrific character and I just loved her.  Maryanna was amazing and their friendship was something special.  I enjoyed this story, I enjoyed these characters and I loved revisiting Hickory Hollow.

Third in the Home to Hickory Hollow series, this story stands alone just fine.

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

Read 7/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, July 5, 2013

Small Town Girl...Review

About the book:
In the autumn of 1941, rumors of war whisper through Rosey Corner. The town practically vibrates in anticipation, as if it is holding its breath. But for Kate Merritt, it seems life is letting out a prolonged sigh. As Kate watches her sister marry the man Kate has loved since she was fifteen, her heart is silently breaking. And even the attentions of Jay Tanner, the handsome best man, can’t draw her interest.

Then suddenly, Pearl Harbor changes everything. Kate’s friends are rushing to get married before the boys go off to war. The newspapers talk of women making airplanes and bombs. Everyone in town begins rolling bandages, planting victory gardens, collecting scrap metal. Kate finds herself drawn to Jay in surprising ways, and when he enlists she can hardly breathe worrying about him getting killed. Could she truly be in love with him? And if she is, will she ever see him again?

In her gentle and textured style, Ann Gabhart tells a timeless story of love, sacrifice, and longing that will grip the heart and stir the spirit. Fans of Angel Sister will be thrilled to see Kate Merritt all grown up. New readers will find that Ann Gabhart weaves in Small Town Girl a beautiful story that will touch their hearts and win their loyalty.

I loved Kate Merritt when I first got to know her character in Angel Sister.  She has grown up into a remarkable, spunky young woman.  With war looming on the horizon, Kate's older sister gets married and against her own wishes, she finds herself drawn to Jay Tanner, the best man. Jay has his own secrets, but after the wedding, stays in Rosey Corner to work because he is drawn to Kate and captivated by little Lorena who has adopted him into their family.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, life changes and Jay enlists in the Army.  After he and Kate part on difficult circumstances, she wonders if they have a future.

This was a fantastic sequel to Angel Sister.  I loved revisiting Rosey Corner and the Merritt family.  I loved seeing that Kate's dad had overcome the alcoholism and turned his life around.  What a great man.  Lorena was her charming self and now an integral member of the Merritt family.  I'm rarely disappointed in Ann Gabhart's books and this one was fantastic.  I'd love to see more of the Merritt family.

Thanks to Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Ann H. Gabhart here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, July 4, 2013

City of Hope...Review

About the book:
An uplifting, inspiring and heartwarming story of a woman truly ahead of her time, City of Hope is the heart-rending but inspiring follow-up to Ellis Island.

It is the 1930s and when her beloved husband, John, suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York. She hopes that the city's vibrancy will distract her from her grief. But the Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable-gone is the energy and atmosphere of fun that Ellie fell in love with ten years before.

Plunging headfirst into a new life, Ellie pours all her passion and energy into running a home and refuge for the homeless. In return they give her the kind of love, support and friendship she needs to try and overcome her grief. Until, one day, someone she thought she'd never see again steps through her door. It seems that even the Atlantic isn't big enough to prevent the tragedies of the past from catching up with her.

Having loved Ellis Island, I was not happy to see that this book opened with the death of Ellie's beloved husband John. Grieving and unable to face life without John, Ellie abruptly leaves Ireland and her successful, relatively wealthy life and returns to New York.  Instead of finding the beloved, vibrant New York that she remembered, she discovers a city suffering from the Depression.

Ellie's giving nature surfaces though and she soon finds that helping others is the best antidote for grief.  Her business sense returns and she opens a home for the homeless and the down and out.  Building a new life and family around her, Ellie is able to ignore her grief over losing John.  She finds success and satisfaction and friendship.

When she finally comes to terms with her grief, she is able to return to Ireland and finds that the new life she has in America isn't as completely satisfying as she had imagined.

Not an inherently happy story, City of Hope is still heartwarming.  I didn't love Ellie quite as much here as I did in Ellis Island, and I found her selfish even with her generosity in helping others. I did appreciate that her character had changed as she had suffered loss. And while I didn't love the ending, I do realize this is second in a trilogy and I hope for a more satisfying conclusion in the third book.

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

Tuesday, June 25th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, June 26th: Books in the City
Wednesday, June 26th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, July 1st: A Book Geek
Monday, July 1st: Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, July 3rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, July 4th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, July 8th: Dwell in Possibility
Tuesday, July 16th: Peppermint PhD
Monday, July 22nd: Becca’s Byline
Tuesday, July 23rd: The House of the Seven Tails
Tuesday, July 24th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, July 25th: The Maiden’s Court

Read 7/13

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Bridesmaid...Review

About the book:
Joanna Kurtz has made several trips to the altar, but never as a bride. The young Amishwoman is a closet writer whose stories aren't her only secret.

Eben Troyer hopes to make Joanna his bride--if he can ever leave his parents' farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet Eben's hopes to build a life with Joanna hinge on his brother's return from the English world.

Beverly Lewis is my favorite Amish author and it's rare that I don't enjoy one of her books.  I really liked The Fiddler and I love Hickory Hollow as a story setting.  The Bridesmaid didn't quite live up to my expectations, and I think it's because of Joanna's sister Cora Jane.  She was such a selfish little troublemaker who never did receive any accountability over her actions.  I never connected with the characters and the storyline just fell flat. As a sequel to The Fiddler, this book stands alone just fine.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the series though because it is rare that I don't enjoy Beverly Lewis and I anticipate that future books will be better.

Thanks to my library for having a copy I could review.

Read 6/13

* *
2/5 Stars

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Slow Moon Rising...Review

About the book:
Cedar Key has long been a place of rest, healing, and release in the Claybourne family. But it might also be the birthplace of a lie that is poisoning the family from within. Join the strong Claybourne women-Anise, Kimberly, Jayme-Leigh, Heather, and Ami-as they each confront the truth. Their unique paths will lead them through heartbreak, misunderstandings, and pain. But their journeys will also bring reconciliation with each other and renewed love in their own lives.

In her lyrical, evocative fashion, Eva Marie Everson weaves a tapestry of complicated relationships that, when complete, reveals the most beautiful work of art there is-family.

I enjoyed the first two books in the Cedar Key series and while this one took me awhile to get into, ultimately I liked it.  I wasn't sure at first.

Anise's perspective is the only one in first person.  The chapters alternate between characters.  The story took awhile to mesh and it finally did come together.  As the oldest of four sisters, I appreciated the sisters' relationships.  I could relate to the ups and downs and conflicts.

I loved Anise.  I loved her relationship with Ross.  Slow Moon Rising is a family saga about women, sisters, relationships, and secrets.

Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.  Thanks to Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Eva Marie Everson here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/13

* * *
3/5 Stars