The Social Graces [Book Review]

April 20, 2021

Would you enjoy reading about an outrageous and real-life feud?

The Social Graces by Renée Rosen

The Social Graces by Renee Rosen (cover) Image: 4 young women in 1880s dress walk arm in arm away from the camera toward an arch in the background

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Rivalries, Women’s Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thank you, #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyBuddyReads #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen for a complimentary eARC of #TheSocialGraces upon my request. All opinions are my own.

extravagance…society…women’s power…rivalry…feuds…women behaving badly

Set in the late 1800s, The Social Graces shares the story of the historic and notorious feud/rivalry between Mrs. Caroline Astor and Mrs. Alva Vanderbilt as witnessed by New York Society during The Gilded Age. In this time, when women often found their power in society, simple wealth wasn’t enough. Your status in society depended upon old money or new money. Caroline is from old money and is the reigning Queen of society while Alva is from Mobile, Alabama and married into the wealthy Vanderbilt family. Alva soon discovers that mere wealth isn’t enough to get accepted into the top 400 of New York Society, so she sets out in cunning and devious ways to get accepted and perhaps even dethrone Caroline.

Caroline Astor

Caroline Astor

Alva Vanderbilt (in costume)

Alva Vanderbilt (in costume)

My Thoughts:

(more…)

10 Books Set Near Water #TopTenTuesday

April 6, 2021

10 Books Set Near Water #TopTenTuesday

Books Set Near Water (white text over a background of a father walking with his young daughter in the surf)

Image Source: Canva

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

What is the last book you read set near water?

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Gladly Throw Into the Ocean. I had decided to skip this week’s topic, but then when I was reading other blogs today, I was inspired by What Cathy Read Next to SPIN it!

My reason for spinning the topic is 1) I don’t enjoy revisiting/promoting books that I haven’t enjoyed 2) I wouldn’t throw a book in the ocean or any water no matter how much I disliked it 3) What I dislike you might love and 4) I fear hurting an author’s feelings by calling her/him out on a dislike list.

So, ALL of these books set near water I enthusiastically recommend!

 *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Castle of Water by Duane Hucklebridge

Castaways meets Romance.

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge (cover)


Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

Living off the grid.

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige (cover) Image: a quiet lagoon


Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Reflections on sea shells and life.

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (cover) black text over a blue and pink background (a seashell above the title)


The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

Historical Fiction.

(more…)

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:

(more…)

The Downstairs Girl [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 25, 2021

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
#throwbackthursday

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee (author) Image: a teenage Asian girl wearing a fancy hat in an 1890 style

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Asian-American, Prejudice, Racism, Coming of Age

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, though, I look forward to re-sharing a recent review of an important story with thoughtful themes, The Downstairs Girl. Even though I reviewed this only a month ago, I am eager to bring this review to your attention again as the U.S is faced with hate and violent attacks toward Asians. The Downstairs Girl exposes the racism that was also prevalent in the 1890s South and is a timely read for our troubled times.

#StandUpForAAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders)

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 Downstairs Girl is set in 1890s Atlanta where a Chinese-American girl having no voice challenges racial and gender issues. Let go from her job at a milliner’s shop because she was a “saucebox,” seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan now works as a lady’s maid for the cruel and spoiled daughter of a wealthy man. Jo and Old Gin (affectionately thought of as “grandfather”) have always lived secretly in the basement below a newspaper man’s family. Jo loves WORDS and writing and so one day, Jo has the idea to write a column for the newspaper in order to help the family living above her build their readership and compete with the other newspaper in town. At night, she writes the column and drops her submissions in their mailbox. Her column, Dear Miss Sweetie, becomes popular for its modern and controversial opinions and the talk of the town. Meanwhile in her day life, Jo struggles to survive her ordeals as a lady’s maid and also plans a dangerous investigation to find her biological father who had abandoned her as a baby.”

Jo endures poverty, racism, and prejudice…and finds her voice…

Continue here for my full review of The Downstairs Girl ….



QOTD:

Have you read The Downstairs Girl or is it on your TBR?

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?

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys [Book Review]

March 17, 2021

 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.

My Summary:

Family…love…silence…secrets…

Thank you, #NetGalley @PenguinUKBooks @The_WriteReads for my complimentary e arc of #FountainsOfSilence upon my request. All opinions are my own. I’ve previously published a review for the U.S. release, and this review is for the U.K. paperback edition which has a different cover.

Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (cover) Image: a large old black key lies over a large red X...small black images of a male and female and a building rest on the horizontal key

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:

(more…)

Learning to See [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 11, 2021

Learning to See by Elise Hooper
#throwbackthursday

Learning to See by Elise Hooper (cover) Image: a black and white image of Dorothea Langue standing on top of a vehicle shading her eyes to see and holding a large camera with the other hand

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Fictionalized Biography, Photography, Internment Camps

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 story about a real life photographer, Dorothea Lange. Learning to See….compelling, biographical historical fiction.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Learning to See is a fictionalized biography inspired by real life photographer, Dorothea Lange. We first meet twenty-two year old Dorothea Nutzhorn in 1918 as she arrives in San Francisco with her best friend. Through wit and a determination to create her own life far from her home in the Northeast, Dorothea changes her name to Dorothea Lange, takes a risk in opening a portrait studio, and marries an older established artist, Maynard Dixon. Dorothea’s portrait studio enjoys success and it provides a steady and dependable income for their growing family of two children. When the economy collapses in the 1930s, economic troubles place tremendous strain on an already fragile marriage and Dorothea desperately seeks out ways to support her two young sons and a drunken, disillusioned, and out-of-work husband. As Dorothea’s portrait business declines in the economy, she begins to take pictures of the poor and desperate people on the streets of San Francisco. In addition, she travels throughout California and the Southwest documenting labor conditions on farms, gradually realizing that these pictures are more meaningful than what she produces in her portrait studio because her pictures from the streets and fields tell a true story of the economic hardships that people are facing. Later, the United States enters WW11 and Dorothea accepts a government job photographing the internment camps into which the Japanese have been placed. Not everyone appreciates seeing the truth of these pictures and she is censored, threatened, and discouraged. This doesn’t deter Dorothea from her travels, her photographs, or her purpose. There’s a dual timeline running through the story which allows the reader to know Dorothea at the end of her life.”

“It takes a lot of practice to see things are they are, not as you want them to be.”

Continue here for my full review of Learning to See ….



QOTD:

Have you read Learning to See or is it on your TBR?

Love Is a Revolution [Book Review]

veFebruary 16, 2021

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson

Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson (cover) Image: a plus size Black girl is centered....4 smaller images of the same girl and her boyfriend sound her

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction, African-American, Coming of Age

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Nala Robertson meets a cute boy, Tye Brown, at open mic night. They experience an instant attraction but Nala is worried because they have very different interests….Tye is an activist, a vegetarian, and a community organizer while Nala would rather stay home and watch movies and enjoy a juicy, fully-loaded hamburger. Nala finds herself lying to Tye to foster a foundation of common interests and to encourage him to keep asking her out. As much as this is a cute romance on the surface, the story is more substantially about loving others as well as yourself, discovering the things that are truly important to you, and embracing your authentic self.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

The Paris Library [Book Review]

February 8, 2021

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles (cover) Imaged: a woman sits with her back to the camera on a wall overlooking Paris and the Eiffel Tower in the background

Genre/Categories: WW11, Historical Fiction, Paris, Books About Books

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Resistance in a silent and unlikely place…the importance of books…

Thank you, #NetGalley @AtriaBooks for a complimentary e ARC of #TheParisLibrary upon my request in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Paris Library is a dual timeline story of family, friendship, resistance, romance, betrayal, heroism, bravery, and books. In 1939, idealistic, courageous, and ambitious Odile Souchet works at the American Library in Paris when the Nazis arrive. Odile and the other librarians negotiate to keep the library open so they can protect the books and also make secret deliveries to their Jewish patrons. In 1983, Lily, a lonely teenager living in Montana, befriends a mysterious and reclusive, elderly, French neighbor woman and discovers they have a great deal in common.

black and white picture of the American Library in Paris

American Library in Paris Image Source: Wikipedia

My Thoughts:

(more…)

The Survivors [Book Review]

February 3, 2021

The Survivors by Jane Harper

The Survivors by Jane Harper (cover) Image: a blue toned view of a beach and low cliffs

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Atmospheric Mystery, Family Secrets, Siblings

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, #NetGalley @Macmillan.audio for a complimentary listening arc of #TheSurvivors upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Secrets…

Kieran Elliott returns home with his wife and baby to the small (fictional) coastal community of Evelyn Bay in Tasmania where he grew up and where his parents still live. While he comes home to visit his parents and to help them, he isn’t expecting a body to be discovered on the beach that threatens to expose secrets he’s kept securely hidden for years about the night his brother, Finn, died.

Wineglass Bay on the Tasmanian Coast

My Thoughts:

(more…)