Last Christmas in Paris [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 2, 2020

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
#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 Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb….an endearing love story with a WW1 backdrop. I must note before starting that these Throw Back Thursday posts are like visiting old, dear friends and today’s story is on my lifetime favorites list…so, it’s a special joy to introduce you to this lovely story!

War changes everything…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb cover (image: a packet of old letters tied with a red ribbon in the foreground and a partical view of the Eifel Tower in the background)

Genre/Categories: historical fiction (WW 1), epistolary, war, romantic

My Summary:

At the beginning of WW 1 as Evie watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas, leave for the front, she (and nearly everyone) naively believes the war will be over by Christmas. To keep their spirits up, the three make plans for celebrating Christmas in Paris. The Great War, as we know from history, turned out much differently. While Thomas and Will struggle with the horrific realities of war, Evie does her part by writing to each of them. Through letters, Evie and Thomas grow fond of each other and find it easy to share their deepest hopes and fears through letters. Evie is a high-spirited, determined, and independent young woman who wants to more fully participate in the war effort. Through her interests in writing, she writes columns for a newspaper on the topic of war from a woman’s point of view. These columns become more controversial as she finds it difficult to write anything but the truth. Eventually, she travels to France to be closer to the front as she wants to contribute to the war effort in a more significant way. Will Evie and Thomas and their love survive the war? Will they ever make it to Paris to celebrate Christmas?”

Continue here for my full review of Last Christmas in Paris

QOTD: Have you read Last Christmas in Paris or is it on your TBR?

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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Where the Lost Wander [Review]

April 28, 2020

 Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon (cover) Image: Two covered wagons crossing a prairie

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Historical Western Romance/Love Story, Oregon Trail (U.S.History)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, #netgalley #lakeunionpublishing for providing a free e ARC of #wherethelostwander by Amy Harmon in response to my request. All opinions are my own.

In 1853, newly widowed Naomi May sets out for the West with her family.  On the Oregon Trail which is filled with hardship, danger, and loss, she meets John Lowry. As the journey progresses and becomes more harrowing, they grow closer but their relationship is tested in intense and emotional ways.

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?

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 Winemaker’s Wife: A Review

February 26, 2020

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Told from multiple perspectives and in a past and present timeline, The Winemaker’s Wife is a story of secrets, survival, guilt, and love.

Through the perspectives of Inès and Céline, we experience the intrigue of their daily lives before and during the German invasion of France during WW11; we learn details of the champagne production at the (fictional) Maison Chauveau in northern France near the city of Reims; and we also hear a little about the French resistance (hiding munitions and Jews). An alternate present-day timeline shares the story of Liv who is mysteriously whisked away from her home in New York to France by her eccentric grandmother. There are secrets from the past to be revealed.

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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Bookish Themed Hanukkah: Seventh Candle: All Colors of the Rainbow #eightcandlebooktag

December 27, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: Seventh Candle–All Colors of the Rainbow

#eightcandlebooktag

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us! (find my first candle here, find my second candle here, third candle here, fourth here, fifth here, sixth candle here)

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

8th-candle

 

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

Seventh Candle: All the Colors of the Rainbow

A book that just thinking about it makes you feel hopeful and happy, like seeing a rainbow after the rain.

Davida’s prompt today is difficult because I just realized that I read a great deal of sad and difficult books! (the hazards of historical fiction!) One reason I like to mix up my histic read with an occasional Middle-Grade read is that MG always has hopeful endings! The Vanderbeekers is probably the happiest Middle-Grade book I’ve read!

In adult fiction, though, it’s difficult for me to identify an overall happy book because my preferences lean toward histfic, complicated family drama, and memoirs. As I perused my Goodreads shelves, one book kept begging for my attention: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Simply seeing the title makes me feel like I’m greating an old friend and elicits a smile!

Guernsey

For today’s post, I’m choosing to highlight the delightful The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Amazon Summary:

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Author Annie Barrows in her own words.

My Thoughts:

I haven’t written a full review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so I’ll list some bullet points to share the reasons why I love this book:

  • Epistolary format: I love books written in this format because it helps me appreciate the beautiful and gentle art of old fashioned letter writing! Other books I love in epistolary format include The Last Christmas in Paris, 84 Charing Cross Road, Meet Me at the Museum, and The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.
  • Book Club and Books About Books: A heartwarming aspect of the story is the inadvertent formation of a book club and the resulting book talk! When caught out after curfew by the Germans, Elizabeth claims to have been at a book club meeting. So a book club was hastily organized to authenticate her cover story! The members are not typical book club members, and it’s quite charming how it all comes together.
  • Potato Peel Pie: Of course, an important consideration of a book club meeting is the snacks! Thus Potato Peel Pie was invented from their meager resources.
  • Characters: In this story, you will find unique, quirky, and lovable characters! Part of the charm is the close and loyal community they create.
  • Found Family: This story includes one of my favorite themes which is found family.
  • Multiple Perspectives: I love stories with multiple perspectives and this includes several! You might need to take notes at first to keep everyone straight. I did love hearing first hand from the cast of unique characters..
  • Dual Timelines: I enjoy a dual timeline if they are well written and they intersect smoothly.
  • Gentle and Charming: If you don’t read histfic, this might be an excellent book to nudge you into that genre!
  • Themes of Love: This does include a traditional love story thread (friends to lovers), but it’s also a story of a child loved by the community, and a story of how community members form a close bond.
  • Hopeful: One reason this story has stayed with me through the years is the good feelings that it provoked during and after reading. I love that in dire circumstances, people can still come together to form something lovely, meaningful, and life-sustaining. The members of the book club respect each other’s differences and support each other in every way.

Favorite Quote:

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”

Recommended!

With enthusiasm, I highly recommend Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for fans of epistolary novels, for readers who are looking for a light histic read, and for all those who appreciate charming and heartwarming stories. It’s on my lifetime favorites list, and it would make a terrific selection for a book club discussion. Plus, you can watch the excellent Netflix film adaptation together! Watch the trailer here.

My Rating: 5 stars

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Guernsey

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Information

Meet the Authors, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Mary Ann Shaffer (seated in foreground) passed away before she finished this novel, and her niece, Annie Barrows stepped in to finish the work and take it to publication.

mary-ann-shaffer-and-annie-barrows.jpg

Mary Ann Shaffer (seated in foreground) who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.

Annie Barrows is the co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, published by the Dial Press in 2008. An international best-seller, translated into 38 languages, the novel was adapted into a feature film in 2018. Her best-selling second novel, The Truth According to Us, was published in 2015. Annie lives in Berkeley, California, with her family.

Author Annie Barrows in her own words.



QOTD!

Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society or is it on your TBR?



ICYMI

I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)

Winter 2019 TBR

My Nonfiction November Posts:
2019 Nonfiction Reads
Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings
Favorite Nonfiction Books
2020 Nonfiction TBR
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“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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***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.

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.

The Fountains of Silence: A Review

November 3, 2019

 The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Post Spanish Civil War Spain, YA, Family, Love Story

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Family…love…silence…secrets…

In 1957, Madrid, Spain is under the control of the fascist dictator General Francisco Franco. While citizens endure harsh conditions of the dictatorship after the Spanish Civil War, tourists experience another version of life in Spain as they enjoy parties and wine at the Hilton Hotel. Eighteen-year-old Daniel is a hotel guest, a photographer, and the son of a Texas oil tycoon; his mother was born in Spain and Daniel is eager to visit her homeland. Ana works at the hotel as a maid. Daniel and Ana meet and fall in love. While Ana is simultaneously intrigued by American life and concerned for her family, Daniel sets his mind to capture the real Spain in photos and finds himself investigating the plight of stolen children. The circumstances surrounding their love story are difficult for them to navigate.

My Thoughts:

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Meet Me in Monaco: A Review

September 6, 2019

Meet Me in Monaco
by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Meet Me in Monaco Review

Genre/Categories: Romantic Historical Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Grace Kelly, Hollywood actress, and Prince Rainier of Monaco meet in the 1950s at the Cannes Film Festival, and their story is the backdrop of this imagined love story of a perfumer, Sophie Duval, and a British press photographer, James Henderson. As Sophie develops an exclusive perfume for Grace Kelly and James is an assigned photographer, the wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer is the setting for the bittersweet and sometimes star-crossed romance of Sophie and James.

The subtitle needs some explanation in that this is a story INSPIRED by the Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier wedding; the wedding is simply a backdrop and not the primary story.

Early Amazon Rating (September): 4.7 Stars

My Thoughts:

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