The Summer House [Book Review]

June 2, 2020

The Summer House by Lauren K Denton

The Summer House by Lauren K Denton (cover) Image: a blue wooden swing on a wide white porch

Genre/Categories: Light Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction, Uplit, Divorce

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, @thomasnelson #netgalley for the complimentary e copy of #thesummerhouse. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

From the author of Hurricane Season and Glory Road…

Lily is devastated to find a goodbye note and signed divorce papers on the kitchen table when she awakens. Before her brief marriage, she was a hairstylist, and she contemplates the possibility of leveraging this skill to make a fresh start. By chance, she notices a flyer advertising the need for a hairstylist in a nearby retirement community. Desperate for a job, she makes the call and shows up for the interview and also negotiates for the apartment above the salon.

My Thoughts:

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#throwbackthursday Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge

April 9, 2020

Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge….a favorite escapist, survival read. Enjoy!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge (kindle propped against a softly muted floral pillow shows cover)

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Survival, Escapist, Action, Love Story

My Summary:

“And so it came to pass that two utterly disparate lives happened to overlap … bound together on an uninhabited island some 2,359 miles from Hawaii, 4,622 miles from Chile, and 533 miles from the nearest living soul.
Crap, as Barry liked to say.
Putain de merde, as Sophie was known to exclaim.”
― Dane HuckelbridgeCastle of Water

Sophie, an architect and honeymooner, and Barry, disillusioned with his career in finance and seeking inspiration for his love of art, end up on one very small island when their plane is hit by lightning and crashes in the middle of the South Pacific. Strangers and sole survivors and as different as night and day, Sophie and Barry wash up on a small uninhabited island and survival becomes their primary objective. Sophie and Barry draw from each other’s strengths and skills and through harrowing experiences, keep the hope of rescue alive.

Click here to find out why I loved Castle of Water….

QOTD: Have you read Castle of Water or is it on your TBR?

Lighter Reads During Stressful Times

April 3, 2020

Lighter Reads During Stressful Times

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Lately, have you found it difficult to focus on reading?

Do you have more difficulty than usual focusing on heavier reading material?

Reading can help pass the time when you’re confined to home and you’ve finished Netflix!

As COVID-19 escalated, so did the anxiety. March found me setting aside heavier reads and searching out easy, engaging, and light reads. I have heard the same sentiments from other reading friends across social media. This motivated me to consider creating a book list focusing on lighter reads! I pulled the following titles from my Goodreads “Read” shelf. I enjoy my lighter reads with a side of substance and low on steam, so these might not be as light or steamy as you’re looking for. Certainly, there are hundreds of titles that I haven’t read that can be added to this list. I can guarantee, though, that these titles do not come with serious trigger or content warnings. Check out the list, and let me know your favorite light reading recommendations in the comments.

I hope you are finding some comfort and distraction through reading during these worrisome times. Be safe everyone!

Titles are links to my blog or Amazon affiliate links.

Biographies/Memoirs

Birth and Other Surprises by Kimberly David Basso

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham (for fans of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood)

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (a classic)

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

Complicated Families

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Eden by Jeanine Blasberg

Hard Cider by Barbara Nemon

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Action/Adventure/Survival

The River by Peter Heller

Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge

Heartwarming Women’s Fiction

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This Won’t End Well: A Review

March 6, 2020

This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán

This Won't End Well (cover) .... a young woman peeking through some bushes

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thank Jaymi @ Orange County Readers for the free copy! All opinions are my own.

Summary:

No new people….

In the long tradition of other beloved, quirky characters, Annie Mercer feels best when she limits her interactions with new people. As a scientist, she analyzes her life experiences through the lens of science. Suddenly her organized life is turned upside down: she loses her job, curiosity about a new neighbor consumes her, her fiance takes a leave of absence, and a personable and charismatic private investigator surprises her. Ultimately Annie is faced with some big, life-changing decisions.

My Thoughts:

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The Girl in White Gloves: A Review

February 25, 2020

The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher

The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher (cover)

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks #netgalley #berkleypub for a free e ARC of #thegirlinwhitegloves by Kerri Maher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

In this highly fictionalized biographical historical fiction of the life of an American actress turned princess, we get a glimpse into Grace Kelly‘s childhood dreams, her rise to fame, and her eventual royal life as Princess of Monaco.

 

Hollywood Actress and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly (head shot)

Image Source: Wikipedia

Grace Kelly smiling and waving (wearing white gloves)

Image Source: Beyond Grace Kelly

My Thoughts:

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The Printed Letter Bookshop: A Review

February 6, 2020

 The Printed Letter Bookshop: by Katherine Reay

The Printed Letter Bookshop (cover) by Katherine Reay

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Books About Books, Women’s Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

friendship…forgiveness…second chances…new beginnings

Madeleine’s happiest childhood memory is spending time at her Aunt Maddie’s house and her beloved bookshop. Suddenly, the families become estranged and Madeleine hasn’t seen her aunt in twenty years. After her aunt dies, Madeleine discovers she has inherited everything: the bookshop, the house, the car, and all the debt. At the same time, Madeleine’s career plans are in jeopardy and she begins to seriously investigate what saving the bookshop, moving, and a new plan for her life might involve.

My Thoughts:

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The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters: A Review

June 19, 2019

Can three very different sisters living three vastly different lives come together to honor their mother’s last dying wish of traveling to India and scattering her ashes?

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Unlikely Adventures of Shergill Sisters Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, India

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

To honor their mother’s dying wish, three Punjabi sisters travel to India on a pilgrimage to visit sacred places that are special to Mom and to scatter her ashes. Told from the three perspectives of three very different sisters, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters explores sibling relationships, modern vs traditional roles of women, secrets, and the importance of family.

My Thoughts:

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The Enchanted April and The Late Bloomers’ Club: Reviews and Comparisons

*this post contains affiliate links

January 25, 2019

I read back-to-back light women’s fiction books (chick lit) in recent days, unusual and interesting for me since chick lit isn’t my preferred genre. The Enchanted April was originally published in the 1920s, and The Late Bloomers’ Club is contemporary. As I read them, I couldn’t resist a comparison.

Girls decide to take a girls’ trip to Italy…..does this sound modern?…..it happened in 1920!

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

enchanted april original cover

Collector’s edition (in box)

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Classics, Romance, Italy

Summary:

Set in the 1920s, two women (strangers at this point) sitting near each other in a woman’s club strike up a conversation about an advertisement they see to rent a medieval castle in Italy. Both women are lonely and are in marriages that are less than satisfactory. One of the women, Mrs. Wilkins, inspires the other and soon they are making plans to rent the castle. Each has a nest egg that she can use, and they decide to embark on this adventure without sharing their exact plans with their husbands. While making plans, they come to the conclusion that since it’s a huge castle with eight beds, that it would be a good idea to find two more women so that four of them are sharing the cost to rent the Italian castle for one month. The four lonely strangers, all miserable in their own ways, converge on the castle and each one of their lives is changed because of the almost magical experience. (more…)

Review: The Dreamers

December 14, 2018

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

the Dreamers 2

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian, YA

The Dreamers Summary:

Virus. A remote college town in the hills of drought stricken California sets the scene for this story and a strange illness/virus that causes its victims to fall asleep and experience vivid dreams. No one can wake the first college age victims and soon the virus spreads throughout the town, randomly affecting young and old alike. The town is quarantined and the National Guard is called in to enforce the quarantine and monitor supplies. The Dreamers is a story about the people affected and their reactions and actions.

My Thoughts:

Thanks #netgalley and #randomhouse for my free copy of #thedreamers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Dreams. Have you ever had a dream that was so real that you had difficulty orienting yourself to a wakeful state? Have you ever pondered the meaning of your dreams? Have you attempted to make sense of your dreams? Do you think dreams can predict the future? Or have you wondered about the passage of time while you sleep? Have you even been asleep briefly but had a dream that seemed to last a long time? Have you experienced dreams about people who are no longer alive?

Unique. The Dreamers came to me at exactly the right time. Usually science fiction is a genre I’m tempted to pass over. Yet, I’m thrilled I took a chance on reading The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker. Even though I don’t read a lot of science fiction, I became intrigued by several reviews of The Dreamers from respected reviewers on Instagram, Goodreads, and in blog posts and I was very much in the mood for something different. Once I noticed this title, I knew I had to see for myself! I hope you, too, will give this unique story a chance.

Not Too Weird. Because I don’t typically read science fiction, I truly appreciate the mild nature of this character driven story. There’s nothing too weird, grotesque, or frightening. The strange illness that causes victims to suddenly fall into a deep sleep from which they cannot be awakened strikes young and old alike and at random. Some victims sleep longer than others and as the epidemic spreads from the college students and throughout the town, it’s a challenge to keep all the patients alive under quarantine conditions. As victims wake up, they report having vivid and realistic dreams and a few struggle with the meaning of the dreams and have difficulty adjusting to life outside of the dream state. The virus disappears as mysteriously as it appears. the prose is lovely, and the story told from multiple points of view is a quick read, engaging, bittersweet, and thought provoking.

Sleep. The Dreamers causes you to think about your own crazy dreams and about how you and your city would react in any crisis. Considering the dire circumstances, it’s a fairly gentle read as the college students and the town’s residents succumb to the most routine and ordinary part of a typical day….falling asleep. The eerie part is that they might fall asleep while mowing the lawn, making dinner, or walking the dog. For a few nights after finishing the story, I certainly thought about closing my eyes as I lay on the sofa or as I fell asleep for the night. If you have difficulty sleeping or experience troubling dreams, this might need a trigger warning. The story is like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Recommended. The Dreamers is a heartwarming story of community, individual survival, and neighbor helping neighbor. I highly recommend this story for readers who are looking for something a little different, for those who enjoy a mild science fiction selection with a touch of psychology and philosophy, and for fans of beautiful writing and a compelling story line. It would make a great vacation read, buddy read, or book club selection. I was left with a few unanswered questions though as the cause of the virus and the recovery are never fully explained.

Pub Date: 1/15/2019

My Rating: 4 Stars

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The Dreamers

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Karen Thompson Walker

Karen Thompson WalkerKaren Thompson Walker is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Age of Miracles, which has been translated into twenty-seven languages and named one of the best books of the year by Amazon, People, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Financial Times, among others. Born and raised in San Diego, Walker is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program. She lives with her husband, the novelist Casey Walker, and their two daughters in Portland. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Oregon. Her second novel, The Dreamers, will be published in January 2019.



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post my review of Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. Isn’t the cover striking?! This is a Middle Grade historical fiction selection and a diverse read.



My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.



Links

Check Out My Gift Ideas For the Readers on Your Holiday Shopping List!

“Everyone Gets a Book!”

gift stack of books

In movie news….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing”!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Reading Challenges: Thinking Ahead to 2019

Have you ever considered a reading challenge? Here are the reading challenges I’m considering for the 2019 reading year. The first three are wonderful challenges for any reader. The last one is geared toward reviewers who are members of NetGalley or Edelweiss.

Modern Mrs Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge (very broad, doable categories that might provide some stretch in your reading life)

Goodreads Reading Challenge (determine how many books you’d like to read and track them through the Goodreads app)….the link is to my 2018 challenge….the 2019 challenge will be available at the first of the year.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (especially great for bloggers and reviewers who want monthly link up opportunities)

NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge (link up opportunities for members of NetGalley and Edelweiss)



 Let’s Discuss

Do you like books that are outside your typical genres? Do you enjoy science fiction?

Are you finding time to read in December?!

It’s time to start thinking about your best read of the year!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: Dear Mrs. Bird

December 8, 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce

Dear Mrs Bird 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11

Summary:

Emmy Lake has two goals: to be useful in the war and to become a war correspondent.

Quite a Character. Emmy Lake is an adventurous and highly spirited young woman who accidentally becomes an assistant to Mrs. Bird, a well-known advice columnist for a women’s magazine. Emmy is also helping the war effort by volunteering three evenings a week as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. Her greatest dream is to become a war correspondent, and she hopes that her day job at the magazine will lead to an opportunity with the newspaper. As she devotes all her effort to writing and answering phones and helping to plan her best friend’s wedding, the bombs continue to fall and cause damage in their neighborhood. Emmy faces ethical dilemmas at work and after one especially devastating bomb drop, her friendship with her dear best friend, Bunty, also seems beyond repair. Will Emmy’s strengths and her impulsiveness be the cause of her greatest failures?

Early Amazon rating (December): 4.2 Stars

My Thoughts:

Light Hearted. Dear Mrs. Bird is a quick read and has quite a lighthearted tone for WW11 historical fiction. It has an old-fashioned vibe and uses the language of the time period effectively to enhance sense of place. Even though the tone is light, the realities of war are not avoided. Emmy is a delightful and capable young woman filled with spunk and an enthusiastic spirit. She approaches every problem and dilemma with a great deal of optimism and impulsiveness. In fact, she comes across as too cavalier sometimes and it kept me from forming a strong connection with the character. Emmy, though, has the best intentions, is willing to take risks to do the right thing, is a hard worker, idealistic, and a loyal, encouraging, and supportive friend.

Editing Choices. This falls under personal preference….one aspect of the book that is bothersome to me is the frequent use of capitalization to emphasize Certain Words or Phrases and inconsistent punctuation of dialogue. Once I notice strong stylistic elements like this, I can’t overlook it and it begins to affect my reading experience. It’s not necessarily negative, just distracting.

Plot. Dear Mrs. Bird is a page turner, and I was engaged by wondering what Emmy would do next, if they would be safe, how her actions at work would play out, and if the friendship could be saved. Although not necessarily a HEA (happily ever after) which for me saves it from the chick lit category, problems are neatly resolved and it’s inferred that the future might be bright.

Recommended for historical fiction fans that are looking for a ‘lighter’ read featuring a spunky, persistent, and independent woman. This would be an interesting book club selection and could be an appropriate gift for a woman on your holiday shopping list: a mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, or best friend. I think it’s an overall enjoyable and solid read.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Dear Mrs Bird

Buy Here

Meet the Author, A J Pearce

A J Pearce

 

AJ Pearce grew up in Hampshire and studied at the University of Sussex. A chance discovery of a 1939 woman’s magazine became the inspiration for her ever-growing collection and her first novel Dear Mrs Bird. She now lives in the south of England.

 



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post my review of The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (releasing in January). Very different from my usual reads!



My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.



Links

Check Out My Gift Ideas For the Readers on Your Holiday Shopping List!

“Everyone Gets a Book!”

gift stack of books

In movie news….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing”!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Do you like books that are written with a lighter tone for a change of pace?

Are you finding time to read in December?!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.