The Beautiful Strangers [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

April 15, 2021

The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio
#throwbackthursday

The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio (cover) Image: a beautiful girl in a green one piece swimming suit lies on the sand under a colorful umbrella

Genre/Categories/Settings: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, San Diego, Romance

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a review of The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

The legendary Hotel Del Coronado off the coast of San Diego, California is the picturesque and glamorous setting for this story of a ghost, movie stars, mystery, chasing a dream, and romance.

Hotel Del Coronado

Picture of the Hotel Del Coronado from their website

In 1958, Kate Morton, a teenager living in San Francisco, seizes her chance to escape from the demands of working in her family’s struggling restaurant to impulsively travel alone to Coronado in response to her ailing grandfather’s plea to find “the beautiful stranger” and to also search for a job at the hotel which will enable her to dream of a new life. A few surprises await her: the true identity of the beautiful stranger, a family mystery, celebrity encounters, and romance.

Continue here for my full review of The Beautiful Strangers ….



QOTD:

Have you read The Beautiful Strangers or is it on your TBR?

The Windsor Knot [Book Review]

April 2, 2021

The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett

The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett (cover) yellow text on a blue background...a small sihlouette of the Queen's head above the text

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Royal Family, British

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Her Majesty the Queen Investigates…”

The Windsor Knot is the first book in a cozy crime series in which Queen Elizabeth secretly solves crimes. In this story, a young Russian pianist appears to have committed suicide during a “dine and sleep” event at Windsor Castle. MI5 suspects foul play. Frustrated with their investigation, Queen Elizabeth with the help of her competent British Nigerian assistant private secretary begins to make discrete inquiries. The Queen is an excellent observer, an insightful problem solver, and a good judge of character. Soon, she has gathered critical information to tip off one of the investigators. No one suspects that it’s actually the Queen herself who has found the critical evidence and solved the mystery.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (Image Source: Wikipedia)

My Thoughts:

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Lost, Found, and Forever [Book Review]

 March 19, 2021

Lost, Found, and Forever by Victoria Schade

Lost, Found, & Forever by Victoria Schade (cover) Image: a cute white dog with gray markings peeks around a corner

Genre/Categories: Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thank you, #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads @BeritTalksBooks @ThePHDivaBooks for a commplimentary e arc of #LostFoundAndForever upon my request. All opinions are my own. Pub Date: 3.30.2021.

Finders, Keepers?

In addition to romance, we have a custody battle over a beloved rescue dog, Spencer. Justine is Spencer’s current owner, and she loves to train him and he’s also her loyal companion at her dog supply store in upstate New York. Spencer loves performing tricks and has landed a role as a dog actor. On day, Justine comes across a social media post that pleads for the return of a dog that sounds suspiciously like her beloved Spencer. Justine contacts the guy, Griffin, and agrees to meet up with him at a park in Brooklyn. Griffin has the paperwork to prove he’s the original owner but Justine refuses to let Spencer go without a fight. What would you do?

My Thoughts:

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Meet Me at the Museum [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 18, 2021

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
#throwbackthursday

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (cover) Image: text in a wood frame...2 raspberries peek into a corner; frame sits on a plain seafoam green background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Epistolary, Friendship, England, Denmark, Archeology

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I look forward to sharing my review of a reflective story, Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson, in which strangers become friends.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

What is the chance that a letter to a stranger will lead to a deep friendship?

“Told in epistolary format, the story in Meet Me at the Museum unfolds from alternating viewpoints as we meet the two main characters through their letters. Tina is a hard-working, loyal, and duty bound English farmer’s wife, mother, and grandmother, and she is also grieving the recent loss of her best friend, Bella. In thinking of the past, she remembers the promise that she and Bella made to each other to visit the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark to see the mummified Tolland Man from the Iron Age. Life intervened and now Tina is in her 60s and her friend is gone. She is inspired to write to Professor Glob, author of The Bog People, who mentions school children in the dedication of his book (our fictional Tina is one of the school children). Tina isn’t aware that Glob has died, so quiet, kind, and introspective Anders, curator of the Denmark museum, writes back to Tina. Tina and Anders begin a thoughtful and heartfelt correspondence. Anders is grieving the recent loss of his wife and through letters, Anders and Tina share intimate details of their lives with each other and express thoughts that they have difficulty sharing with anyone else. As they discuss archeology, the Tolland Man, their philosophies of life, grief, and their families, they develop an endearing and unique friendship that could possibly lead to more.”

Letter writing: “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways.”

Continue here for my full review of Meet Me at the Museum ….



QOTD:

Have you read Meet Me at the Museum or is it on your TBR?

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 4, 2021

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith
#throwbackthursday

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Angency (Image: boxed sets of books)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Botswana, Gentle Mysteries, Amateur Sleuths, “UpLit”

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m eager to share two reviews of a series on my lifetime favorites list, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith….gentle, character-driven stories, Botswana culture.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of the Series:

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective (21 installment) series is a gentle, character-driven, charming, easy reading series filled with likable characters reflecting on life, drinking tea, embracing tradition, and investigating human nature in sunny Botswana, Africa. Mma Ramotswe, founder and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is a “traditionally built woman,” gentle, honest, inclusive, compassionate, full of common sense, thoughtful, gracious, and wise. In fact, she always chooses kindness and forgiveness as her response and never revenge. Idealistically, she believes that people are good and kind and want to enjoy themselves and take care of each other. She is a proponent of the old Botswana morality and the traditional ways (especially the old way of greeting others). The focus of her work at the Ladies’ Detective Agency is on righting small injustices. Important common themes appear throughout all the stories in the series, and they include compassion, kindness, graciousness, reflection, good manners, forgiveness, and inclusiveness. Readers also hear the author’s voice as he provides gentle commentary on universal issues. Alexander McCall Smith, born in Zimbabwe, does really well in what he sets out to do in these stories.

cup of tea

“Tea, thought Mma Ramotswe–no matter what was happening, no matter how difficult things became, there was always the tea break–that still moment, that unchangeable ritual, that survived everything, made normal the abnormal, renewed one’s ability to cope with whatever the world laid before one. Tea.”

There are 21 installments in the series! Are you looking for a gentle, cozy read?

I’d love to introduce you to gracious, wise, and wonderful Mma Ramotswe! How to Raise an Elephant is the most recent (#21) installment (not reviewed). Here are reviews of two of my recent favorites (If you haven’t read any of the series and want to try one, I’d suggest beginning with House of Unexpected Sisters):

Continue here for my full review of The House of Unexpected Sisters (my fav or the series)….

Continue here for my full review of The Colors of All the Cattle ….



QOTD:

Have you read No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series or is it on your TBR?

10 Books That Made Me Smile #TopTenTuesday

February 23, 2021

10 Books That Made Me Smile #TopTenTuesday

10 Books That Made Me Smile (image: a woman seated with her hand at her chin looking up and laughing)

Image Source: Canva

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

What is the last book that made you smile?

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Make Me Laugh Out Loud. (Except that I haven’t read any that actually made me laugh out loud, so I’m tweaking this for books that made me smile!)

It’s posts like these that cause me to realize that the majority of my reading is really intense! I do love Quirky Characters, so mostly quirky characters provide the levity in my reading life.

These are the first ten books that I came across in my Goodreads list that brought a smile to my face. While none are hilarious or laugh out loud funny, each one has some funny or heartwarming moments that make my reading heart light and happy. Obviously, my list is heavily quirky character-driven! (Looking at you Backman!)

See my similar post (with a few different titles) published on July 14, 2020.

 *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


How to Raise An Elephant, by Alexander McCall Smith

Kind, gracious, and wise Mma Precious Ramotswe and a cast of quirky supporting characters and the culture of Botswana bring many smiles to my face. This recent release of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency had one laugh out loud moment as the guys attempt to transport a baby elephant in Mma Ramotswe’s van. If you are looking for easy-reading, gentle, comfort reads with likable characters and uplifting themes, this series might be a good option.

How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith (cover) Image: a baby elephant and parent elephant walking with trunks linked


The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Smart, snappy, and humorous writing with a likable and quirky character will bring a smile to your face. (skip Ch 5 if you are would rather not read crude humor)

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill


Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman

If you have children in your life, Backman’s essays on parenthood will bring a smile to your face. My review of Things My Son Needs to Know here.

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman (cover)


This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán

Some snappy writing, a quirky character, and an enemies to lovers trope will bring a smile to your face. My review of This Won’t End Well here.

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

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Ladies of the House [Book Review]

February 10, 2021

Ladies of the House by Lauren Edmondson

Ladies of the House by Lauren Edmondson (cover) Image: a close up view of a 2 or 3 story house, a white blossomed tree in the foreground

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction, Family Drama, Sisters, Mothers/Daughters

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thank you, #NetGalley #Harlequin for the complimentary e ARC of #LadiesOfTheHouse upon my request. All opinions are my own.

A modern Sense and Sensibility……

In a loose, contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, thirty-four-year-old Daisy finds herself embarrassed by a family scandal. Her Senator father died suddenly in the company of his young mistress and he has also left the family in financial ruin. Daisy, her mother, Cricket, and her sister, Wallis, work frantically to save the family reputation and put their upscale house up for sale while at the same time negotiate the land mines of their personality differences and conflicts and the unrelenting media attention.

My Thoughts:

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Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies [Book Review]

January 29, 2021

Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman

Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman (cover) Image: text on a white background with a few lemons....wide yellow margin around white text box

Genre/Categories: Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Chick-Lit, Friendship, Cooking/Recipes/Food, Up-Lit, Quirky Characters

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Forty-year-old Kate has just ended a relationship and, in an effort to fill her time, she volunteers at the Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies. Kate conducts cooking classes for the ladies and meets ninety-seven-year-old Cecily who is caustic, critical, and contrary. Cecily gives Kate a 1950s cookbook to read which will end up changing Kate’s life in unexpected ways.

My Thoughts:

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The Story of Arthur Truluv [Book Review]

October 9, 2020

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg (coveer) Image: an older man and young woman stand near a bus stop, the man holds a yellow umbrella over her head

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Uplit

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

At first glance, Arthur shares certain things in common with Ove (A Man Called Ove): each is an older, mature character, each is a widower grieving the loss of a beloved wife, and each finds “family” in unexpected ways.

On one of Arthur’s routine trips to the cemetery to have lunch and conversation with his wife, he meets Maddy, a troubled teenage girl who hides in the cemetery to avoid school. She discovers that Arthur is a friendly, understanding, trustworthy, and positive person and gives dear Arthur the nickname “Truluv.” Arthur and Maddy develop a friendship and when Arthur’s nosy neighbor, Lucille, becomes involved, they discover the joys of “found family.”

My Thoughts:

Uplit: If you’re looking for an uplifting, heartfelt story of friendship, found family, second chances, unconditional love, and kindness, you’ll find it in The Story of Arthur Truluv. Amidst lockdown conditions (COVID-19), dire weather reports (hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico), inner city violence, or political battles (2020 Election), this might be your next soulful, escapist, feel-good read!

Arthur: Older but less curmudgeonly than Ove, Arthur will win your heart from page one with his gentlemanly and friendly ways and compassionate heart. What a difference kindness can make in this world! How many of us would show compassion for a teenager and take them into our home? We would all be fortunate to know an Arthur.

Themes: Thoughtful and poignant themes include grief, loneliness, friendship, second chances, unconditional love, hospitality, acceptance, found family, and good people.

Recommended: The Story of Arthur Truluv is highly recommended for readers looking for light, quick-reading uplit; for fans of A Man Called Ove and The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett, and for book clubs.

Content Considerations: grieving the loss of a spouse

My Rating:  4 Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

The Story of Authur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg (cover) Image: a man holds a yellow umbrella over a young woman

The Story of Authur Truluv Information Here

Meet the Author, Elizabeth Berg

Author Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth Berg won the NEBA Award for fiction for her body of work, and was a finalist for the ABBY for Talk Before Steep. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook, and the New York Times Magazine. She has also taught a writing workshop at Radcliffe College. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.



QOTD:

Is The Story of Arthur Truluv on your TBR or have you read it?

Do you enjoy an occasional “uplit” read



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



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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 photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

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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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