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17 December 2018

An Improper Encounter by Erica Taylor

I love a book that makes me laugh. I really love a book that makes me cry. If a book can do those and give me other feels of the more, well, touchy-feely kind? It's definitely a five-star book! Erica Taylor's third Macalisters book, An Improper Encounter, excelled at giving me "all the feels" so intensely that I would give it more stars if I could.

This is the story of Sarah and William. Sarah is the eldest of the Macalister clan and grew up being the mother figure to her siblings -- including Susanna from A Suitable Affair and Andrew from The Perfect Duchess.
Yes, this is where I urge you to get the first two books and read them. Start with Andrew's, even though it's technically book 2. Right now they're both free for Kindle so there really isn't any reason not to. (Even if they're not free at the time you read this, if you love a good Regency, do it anyway.)
Anyway, this is Sarah's story. Sarah, the widowed dragon-in-training for the ton, who has spent most of her life dealing with tragedy and heartbreak and taking care of everybody else first. She has had a feeling for quite some time that she wants more out of life, and it takes a bet from her best friend and sister-in-law Lydia and the improper encounter from whence we get our title for her to actually do anything about it. Or, at least, attempt to. The encounter is with William -- a mysterious man with tragedy and heartbreak of his own to overcome. I really don't see it as being a "spoiler" when I give away that they end up falling in love. Of course they do. The Amazon description even gives that much away:
Lady Sarah Hartford is beautiful, wealthy, widowed, and bored. After agreeing to a scandalous dare to seduce a stranger into her bedchamber, she meets the devilishly handsome doctor, William Gordon. Though both keep their true identities hidden, an intense romance blooms between them, and Sarah finally feels like she could be happy again.
Instead, William disappears from her life only to arrive three months later on her doorstep—married, a duke, and with a pregnant duchess in tow. The pair must try to untangle truth from lies while keeping their history a secret from everyone around them.
What Amazon fails to tell you, though, is that this very well may be a book you need to read in private because ... well ... feels.

Susanna and Ian. Andrew and Clara. Sarah and William. Erica Taylor knows how to write couples that will leave you laughing, crying, and more than a bit hot and bothered ... and sometimes all three simultaneously.

Three Macalisters down and six to go. I can't wait to see who gets matched up next! Actually, I can ... but only because I'll need some time to recover from Sarah and William's emotional and physical whirlwind.

19 October 2018

Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I've been hearing about the Aunt Dimity series since it first started ... over 25 years ago. Had I started reading them then, I doubt that I would have gotten as much out of them. I was expecting a quirky ghost story. That isn't quite what happened. I was also expecting a traditional cozy mystery. That isn't quite what happened either. What happened is that I fell in love with the very non-traditional telling of a girl, her ghost, and the mysteries of love, loss and finding joy in spite of everything else. 

I'm now 22 books behind ... but I have a feeling that number will shrink quite quickly (especially as I already have the next three in my possession)!

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

09 October 2018

Someone to Love by Mary Balogh (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

Oh, this book!

I grabbed it off the shelf as it was the only thing I physically had in my possession that was a regency that hadn't been read and reread ... and I'm participating in the OWNtober readathon for the month of October devoted to books already owned. I debated going out to buy a Julia Quinn before the end of September, but ultimately decided that it would be cheating in a way. I'm glad I went with Balogh instead for now I have another wonderful author to turn to for the blissful escapism my life so frequently seems to need now.

This was a surprising read. I had figured out quite early on who was going to end up with who, but how it came about and how it played out was beyond what I had imagined. Their story made me laugh and catch my breath and panic and filled my thoughts and heart with all sorts of "if-only"s.

My only regret is that it ended too soon, but I'm hopeful that the next installments in the series will revisit the characters I have come to cherish, even if only briefly.

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

28 September 2018

The "I Do" Deli by Josie Castel (Book Beginning & Friday 56)

It took me a little while to get into Josie Castel's debut, The 'I Do' Deli, and by "a little while," I mean a handful of paragraphs at the most. It's an absolutely delightful love story ... or four, depending on your math. Maybe five. We'll have to see what happens with the sequel and I am definitely looking forward to that!

I keep trying to decide which of the pairing was my favorite. They were each so perfect! I'll probably end up claiming Carmine and Rosemary as the best, though ... and you'll just have to read it yourself to find out why.

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

25 September 2018

The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I'm reading another prequel to the Bridgertons series, Julia Quinn's The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband. Right now I'm about half-way through and love it. It's the story of Cecilia Harcourt and Edward Rokesby (brother of George from Because of Miss Bridgerton). She has traveled to the Colonies in search of her brother after hearing that he had been injured in battle. When she arrived, however, the wounded soldier that she found was his good friend Edward and the only way that she could care for him and, hopefully, continue the search for her brother, was to convince people that she was his wife. It wasn't all that difficult .... until he woke up. Luckily, in a way, he woke up missing at least three months of memories so when he was told that they had been married it wasn't hard for him to believe that it was just part of his lost time. It was, however, extremely difficult for Cecilia who found the lies piling up around her and tearing her up inside because she genuinely cared for Edward (they had gotten to know each other through her correspondence with her brother).
So far this has all of the charm and wit and catch-your-breath romance of the other Quinn books I have read recently and I can't wait to see what happens next! 

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

21 September 2018

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I've only just started reading Julia Quinn's Because of Miss Bridgerton, a prequel to the Bridgerton series that I'm anxious to begin (especially since Shonda Rhimes is adapting them for Netflix!). I actually should have probably done Alan Bradley's Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd  today since that was just finished ... but I'm still trying to recover emotionally so I'm going for what I'm assuming will be a lighthearted romp. Maybe by Tuesday's post I'll be able to wrap my brain around the other.
I may never fully recover.

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

14 September 2018

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I've been meaning to pick up Amy Stewart's Girl Waits With Gun since I first saw it mentioned on Goodreads before its release. Since I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to, well, just about everything, I devoured every bit of factual information that I could find on Constance once I learned that it was based on a true story. I added it to my TBR .... three years ago. I distract easily sometimes. It wasn't so easy, though, to distract me from this book once I finally started to read it ... yesterday. 

I had found a pristine copy of the paperback in a Little Free Library box near my house and also ended up borrowing the ebook from my public library so I would be able to continue reading in bed with the lights off, while walking to and from the store, or at work. I became completely entranced by this telling of the story of Constance Kopp and her sisters. Even though I knew ahead of time how things would more or less turn out in real life, the additions and details added by Stewart kept the pages turning -- and my internal casting director picking out who should play which part if ever made into a movie or series (Gwendoline Christie would positively rock as Constance.)

I absolutely highly recommend this book and have already made sure that my library has the next installments in the system so I can continue the saga soon. (And by "soon" I mean hopefully before three more years pass .... but I make no guarantees.)

Friday 56 (today is page 56 from the paperback) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.


Author: Amy Stewart
Publication: Mariner Books, September 1, 2015

First Line
Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five.

Favorites on 4s
p14 - "My head aches terribly," she said, "from listening to Fleurette go in about how she was nearly killed yesterday. She talks too much for a girl who is almost dead."

p84 - I had the shaky, nauseated feeling that comes from being thrown so suddenly from sleep. I gathered my blankets around me as protection against whatever had hit my bed. My fingers skipped around, past the broken glass, and there it was. A brick. There was a piece of string around it, and paper tucked underneath.

p134 - As I was distracted by those thoughts, I didn't notice that an automobile had driven past and circled the block, rolling slowly by and coming to a stop just ahead of me. My whole body went cold at once when I saw it. I couldn't take a breath.

p174 - There was a sugary smell that hung around Fleurette, like the crumb tarts we used to bake when she was a little girl. I closed my eyes and the memory of it came over me. I used to tell her that she was good enough to eat, and she would shriek and run to Mother in mock horror.

p234 - "Sheriff Heath," I said, suddenly worried. "You don't look well." Why hadn'ti noticed it before?
He gave a shuddering, chesty laugh that sent him into a coughing fit.
" Strange men are firing guns at your house and you're asking after my health?"

p284 - The stories in the papers were like the old Austrian fairy  tales my mother used to whisper to us at night, populated by ogres and trolls and the weak-limbed mortals who could not fight them off.

p354 - At last sleep caught up with me again and I didn't move until the chickens started cackling at daybreak. The truth was with me, as if I had known it all along.

p384 - "I mean wasn't it the most interesting year of our lives? We learned to fire a gun and, and rode in an automobile, and you got to run around with the sheriff, and we never would have met Lucy Blake, and what about --"

13 September 2018

Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood

When Lauren Westwood asked if I would like to read her latest outing, I eagerly said yes. After all, I quite loved the first book of hers that I had read. 

And then I found out that it was a Christmas story. 

I had been having a rough few days and I so wasn't in the mood for a fluffy chicklit full of all of the trappings that such books typically include. I'm sure you know the type. The ones with so little conflict and so much lighthearted cheer that, if in the right mood, they can make you want to break out the tinsel and mistletoe even when it's still hot enough outside to be wearing shorts and tank tops. 

I wasn't in the mood. 

Luckily, Moonlight on the Thames isn't a sappy and sickeningly sweet holiday romance. Instead, it's a touching, sometimes heartwrenching, story of redemption, forgiveness and love ... with a bit of Christmas thrown in. I may not be ready to break out the holly and the ivy, but an eggnog might not be out of the question.


Title: Moonlight on the Thames
Author: Lauren Westwood
Publication: Aria, September 4 2018

First Lines
She wasn't meant to be here. That was the worst thing.

Faves on 4s
4% - The breath seized up in her chest; the hand holding the glass started to tremble. Breathe… this was silly. Christmas… She’d never told Jules, or anyone else, the real reason why she hated this time of year. Ice on the pavement… footsteps behind her… that smile… Jules was her little sister – she had a duty to protect her. There were some things that she didn’t need to know—

14% - His frown still hadn’t wavered, but she could feel his eyes moving away from her face. Appraising all of her. She already felt stripped and raw from the music, and she was sure he could see right through her to the core of ugliness at her centre.

44% - His head hadn’t stopped aching since waking up earlier in the afternoon. All he wanted to do was play piano for a while, then go home and have a cup of tea and a shower. He’d make a start on the damn application – he’d promised Tanya that much. And then, sleep. Praying that this time, he didn’t dream.

74% - Nicola tried again to find her voice. She was desperate for him to leave and desperate for him to stay. How could something that had happened so many years ago still affect her like this? It was ludicrous and it was wrong. It had festered so deeply inside of her that it had turned all of her ugly and rotten. And now, she had tried to lift up this man and had let him drop like a stone. He deserved better than this, even if she didn’t. He had done nothing wrong. All she could offer him now was an explanation.

84% - She felt like something inside of her was torn and waiting to be stitched back together. It was painful, but on the other hand, the anticipation – knowing that he would return later – was delicious. It was a very strange and unsettling feeling, and one that she was almost certain she’d never had before this week.

11 September 2018

The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.


I have a strange aversion to putting holds on library books. If a book has already been checked out when I go to look for it (since I also seem to have an aversion to checking the catalog ahead of time), then it obviously isn't the right time for me to be reading said book. I had to wait almost an entire year for the circulation gods to smile on me and the stars to align and for Ellery Adams' The Secret, Book & Scone Society to be in the stacks at just the right moment. 

It was well worth the wait.

Miracle Springs, North Carolina is a place where people go for healing -- physical and emotional. It's what drew Nora Pennington there after personal tragedy, and where she opened Miracle Books and began to offer her own "bibliotherapy" to select customers in order to help them heal as needed through the pages of a good book (often, several of them). 

I absolutely love the idea of bibliotherapy. I've often been saved from myself thanks to a book and will often find myself recommending books to others who seem to be "in a mood."  

When a potential customer of Nora's is killed before she could give her recommendations, she teams up with some other local women -- all of whom have their own painful secrets -- to form The Secret, Book & Scone Society to find out the truth of what is happening in their town. Along the way scandals are uncovered, secrets are divulged, romance lingers, and a sisterly bond is formed. 

The mystery angle of the book was a good one and it kept me guessing as Ellery often does, but the real highlight of the book was watching these women and their friendship grow. My heart ached for each of them and I would love to be able to grab a mug and a scone and join their sessions. I would especially love to know what books Nora would pick out for me ... as if my TBR wasn't already toppling.


Author: Ellery Adams
Publication: Kensington Books, October 31 2017

First Lines
The man on the park bench stared at the empty space above the knuckle of Nora Pennington’s pinkie finger.
Strangers were always hypnotized by this gap. They would gaze at the puckered skin stretched over the nub of finger bone for several awkward seconds before averting their eyes in disgust, pity, or both.

Fave on 4s
p4 - “Stories don’t change much across continents and centuries. Hearts are broken. Pride is wounded. Souls wander too far from home and become lost. The wrong roads are taken. The incorrect choice is made. Stories echo with loneliness. Grief. Longing. Redemption. Forgiveness. Hope. And love.”

p44 - Hoping to keep a firm hold on the positive energy that had been building among the four of them, Nora said, “The key to our success lies in careful listening. And secrecy. From now on, we can only trust each another.”

p64 - After hanging out with you gals on Sunday, though, I realized that I wanted more of this.” She gestured around the circle. “We’re no Fellowship of the Ring, but I haven’t had girlfriends since high school. Not close ones, anyway. These days, my closest friends are all fictional.”

p94 - Nora avoided making eye contact with Jed, but she was hyper-aware of his arm around her waist and of the way his fingers pressed into her lower back. She felt possessed and protected. And completely unnerved.

p144 - “She won’t let anyone see the real her,” Nora pointed out. “None of us have been willing to do that. We’ve become adept at hiding behind our armor. Until we found each other. I don’t know about you, but this is the first time in years I’ve opened up to anyone.”

p204 - “That sounded a bit like therapy.” His tone wasn’t judgmental. Merely inquisitive.
Nora was reluctant to explain her role of self-trained bibliotherapist, but since Jed had already told her that he was open to nontraditional forms of medicine, she said, “Sometimes, I recommend certain titles to help people find healing.”
Jed mulled this over. “But you gave that customer a stack of novels. How does fiction heal?”
“Not all injuries are physical,” Nora said, and moved off to ring up a customer waiting at the front counter.

p224 - “The three of us are crashing this party. And by the end of the night, we’ll have what we need to take care of the vermin infesting our town.”
June hooted in enthusiastic agreement. “Pass me the rat killer, sister. I am ready to do some exterminating.”

07 September 2018

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I honestly can't remember the last time that I flew through a book quite as quickly as I did Julia Quinn's The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever. I decided that it was going to be my next read on September 3rd, actually started reading it the evening of September 4th, and finished it the morning of September 5th. I may have stayed up until about 3am ... and I may have snuck in the last few chapters while at work ... and it was definitely worth every second. I laughed. I cried. I swooned. Oooooh boy did I swoon! I have no idea how this was my first Julia Quinn read, but it most certainly won't be my last. 

Friday 56 (today is 56% from the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

19 August 2018

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

To say that I've been in a slump may be one of the great understatements of the year. Life has been ... slumpish. On the upside, I've been working out more ... but on the downside, I've been reading far less. I have a huge list of books that I "should" be reading from NetGalley and other review requests (sorry!), but I decided that I needed to revisit an old friend and spend some quality time with her.

The slump is, at least temporarily, over.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust  is the seventh novel in Alan Bradley's series featuring chemist/sleuth/pre-teen extraordinaire Flavia de Luce. Unlike the other installments, this tale takes place in Canada at the boarding school Flavia's mother had attended in her youth. I missed Buckshaw and Bishop's Lacey back in England almost as much as Flavia did, and found myself sniffling more than a few times as she recalled her home, friends, family, and even her beloved bicycle, Gladys.

Of course, along with the anguish of missing home, Flavia also has to deal with a murder mystery almost literally falling at her feet ... as well as a great deal of other mysteries which may or may not be related. After all, this isn't a typical boarding school. It's also the training facility for a secret society known as the Nide. There wasn't as much detail about that aspect as I was hoping for, but the poor girl was a bit busy trying to adjust and solve the mystery of the body that fell out of her chimney. She managed in typical Flavia fashion with her wits and more than a bit of spunk. I do so love her spunk.

I debated, briefly, giving this less than five stars. When it came right down to it, though, I had no good reason. The mystery and characters kept me guessing. Flavia kept me entertained. Once again, Alan Bradley reminds me why I love reading so much, and how much joy can be had in staying up late for just "one more chapter." If I ever find myself in a slump again, he will be the first one I turn to.

Author: Alan Bradley
Publication: Delacorte Press (Random House), 6 January 2015

First Lines: If you're anything like me, you adore rot. It is pleasant to reflect upon the fact that decay and decomposition are what make the world go round.

Faves on 5s:
5%: One of the things I dread about becoming an adult is that sooner or later you begin letting sentimentality get in the way of simple logic. False feelings are allowed to clog the works like raw honey poured into the tiny wheels of a fine timepiece.

15%: "Curse this life!" I thought. And then I remembered the dead body upstairs and I cheered up at once.

55%: There is an electric silence that comes with shock: a silence which is intolerable yet which, in spite of that, you are powerless to break.

75%: There's something in human nature, I'm beginning to learn, that makes and adult, when speaking to a younger person, magnify the little things and shrink the big ones. It's like looking -- or talking -- though a kind of word-telescope that, no matter which end they choose, distorts the truth. Your mistakes are always magnified and your victories shrunken.

95%: Sleep was impossible. I tossed and turned, sweated and swore. By daylight I was a bad-tempered haystack, but I didn't care.

17 April 2018

The Perfect Duchess by Erica Taylor (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

To say that I loved Erica Taylor's first Macalister book, A Suitable Affair, would be an understatement of major proportions. I haven't quite finished her second book (which is actually a prequel so feel free to read it first), but I couldn't wait to oooh and aaah and squeal with delight over Andrew and Clara (and to say yet again how much I NEED more Luke!)! 

Andrew is known as the "Stone Duke" for his typically cold demeanor, and Clara is followed by horrid gossip about her pretty much wherever she goes. The two have known each other since childhood, though, and were almost in-laws as Andrew was once engaged to Clara's twin sister. When they meet again at a ball hosted by the Macalisters, their chemistry and attraction was undeniable ... to the reader, anyway. 

When I last put down my book (okay -- my phone ... thank you ever-so-much to NetGalley for making this book the reason I rejoined!), Andrew had just beaten the tar out of Clara's brother (he had it coming). I've got a lot more to go and can't wait to see what happens next!

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

13 April 2018

The Summer of Secrets by Tilly Tennant

I always enjoy having a new Tilly Tennant book to read and I have a feeling that The Summer of Secrets may be my favorite one yet. The friendship between Harper and Pip is beautifully written and Cesca is a character I would love to see more of in future books. It has a great blend of humor and romance with a bit of a mystery thrown in to make it one that I would easily recommend.

Friday 56 (today is 56% from the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

06 March 2018

Wartime Brides and Wedding Cakes by Amy Miller (Tuesday Intro & Teaser Tuesday)

Wartime Brides and Wedding Cakes is actually the second in a series, which I didn't realize until I was already fully enamored with the story. I would normally stop immediately and not return until I had read the first book, but this stands alone beautifully on its own so I just kept going.

It's set during World War II in the town of Bournemouth in southern England. Audrey and her husband run the Barton Bakery until he goes off to join the war and she's left to run it with their friends and family at her side.  

There's so much to love about this story. Weddings, heartache, scandal, and the precious little Mary who came to live with Audrey and Charlie when she was evacuated from her own home. It has a lot of the same feel as Sandy Taylor's books and, if you've been around here for a while, you must know that I think that's a very good thing indeed!

I may not have read the first book in the series (yet), but I'm definitely going to make sure I read them all now!

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

02 March 2018

The Best Medicine by Charlotte Fallowfield (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Oh how I love Charlotte Fallowfield's Dilbury Village series! This time we get the story of Charlie in The Best Medicine. It starts when she's the new girl in the village who happens to write erotica while also having lousy luck with men AND medical emergencies. My son and I often joke about the fact that I could trip on air, but poor Charlie is a walking disaster in the medical department.

The romantic aspect of the story I pretty much saw coming right off the bat, but sometimes that's okay and that was definitely the case here. It was great fun watching Charlie reach the conclusion I had come to within the first couple of chapters, and even better was the inclusion of the village residents I've come to know and love through the other installments, like Abbie, Georgie and especially Daphne. I'd love to be able to sit down with her for a cup of tea .... or whiskey, more likely than not.

If you're at all a fan of lighthearted romantic comedies, I definitely recommend a trip to Dilbury Village!

Friday 56 (today is 56% from the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

05 January 2018

Fool by Christopher Moore (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I honestly didn't think that it was possible for me to love Christopher Moore any more than I already did .... but then he had to go and take on Shakespeare -- specifically, here, King Lear. It may just be my favorite Moore to date but there are still several more on the horizon so we'll see if it stays at the top.

Friday 56 (today is 56% from the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

26 December 2017

Searching for Mr Tilney by Jane Odiwe (Tuesday Intro & Teaser Tuesday)

If you're a Jane Austen fan and have yet to read anything by Jane Odiwe, you are seriously missing out. Her love for Jane shines through the pages of her books and Searching for Mr Tilney is no exception. Of course, it doesn't hurt at all that I am absolutely in love with Henry Tilney so the title alone made this book a winner for me even before I started reading it. As it is, I'm still only about 15% in, but it's already a book I would recommend.

As always, "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

Amazon Description

22 December 2017

Lady Osbaldestone's Christmas Goose by Stephanie Laurens

I've been meaning to read Stephanie Laurens for quite a while and finally decided that her recent holiday tale, Lady Osbaldestone's Christmas Goose, would be the perfect place to start. I'm not exactly in the mood for the holidays, but I'm almost always in the mood for a good Regency.

Lady Obaldestone, who apparently was a minor character in Laurens' Cynster series )which I'll now have to get my hands on), has her three young grandchildren staying with her for Christmas. They're eight (almost nine), seven, and five years old and more than a handful. Granted, Lady O appears to be quite a handful in her own right with her meddling and matchmaking. The three youngsters take after their grandmother quite a bit and the four of them together are a force to be reckoned with -- especially if you're a missing flock of geese intended for the village Christmas dinners ... or young and single.

I'm still not in a very holly jolly mood as far as the current holiday season goes, but Lady O and her grandchildren have certainly helped to brighten things significantly and now I have a whole new series to add to my already-toppling TBR!

Friday 56 (today is 56% from the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

19 December 2017

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

Have I mentioned lately how horribly much I adore Robin Stevens and her Murder Most Unladylike Mystery series?!? I meant to read this one last year but got overwhelmed with NetGalley stuff, so this year I've decided to take a break from ARCs and dove right in. Ooooh how I've missed Daisy and Hazel (whom I still declare to be my Spirit Animal more often than not)! 

In this installment the girls are at Cambridge visiting Daisy's brother for Christmas break. Their friends and fellow detectives Alexander and George are also there so when a mysterious death occurs (as so often is the case when Daisy and Hazel are involved), the four of them set out to figure out what happened. Of course, they don't always work together so the competition and frustration of boys versus girls is a fun little addition to the normal Wells and Wong dynamic I've come to love.

Of course I recommend this highly and of course I'm going to say to read them in order. For those in the States, I know that we're a bit behind in publication dates (and the U.S. title is still unknown to me at this time), but copies are available on Amazon through the Marketplace and at BookDepository. Well worth the extra time they might take to ship!

As always, "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

15 December 2017

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove by Holly Martin (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I've been wanting Eden's story to be told since she was first introduced in the first Hope Island book, Spring at Blueberry Bay. (Yes, this is where I tell you to read them in order. Major spoilers if you don't!) When it was finally released in September I jumped on it, but couldn't bring myself to read it until closer to Christmas and it was so worth the wait. Holly is giving Eden exactly the story I was hoping for.  Once again Holly Martin has proven why she's my go-to for Christmas romance and I'm not even finished with the book yet. It already has five glowing stars for me and would get more if available!

Friday 56 (today is 56% from the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

Amazon Description

12 December 2017

Two by Tilly Tennant - An Unforgettable Christmas Series (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

This week I've decided to tease the latest books from Tilly Tennant which, together, make up the series "An Unforgettable Christmas." Of course, they should be read in order. You've probably already figured out that I'll always say that.

The first in the series is A Very Vintage Christmas. It's the story of Dodie Bright, who loves all things vintage. She has her best friend Isla, stick-in-the-mud boyfriend Ryan, hilarious Gran, and her own vintage clothing shop. She tries to see the best in everyone and will often go out of her way to help others, such as her homeless friend Nick. She finds an old love letter dating back to World War II in the pocket of a coat that comes into the shop and decides that she needs to return it to the family of the woman who received it -- or the man who sent it. She doesn't have much to go on, but it leads her to the doorstop of Ed Willoughby who decides to help her search. There are lots of ups and downs but it's a delightful story without being overly schmaltzy. 

Dodie's best friend, Isla McCoy, gets her story told in A Cozy Candlelit Christmas. She finds out that she has received a mystery inheritance from the grandmother she never knew -- largely because her father exited her life when she was five. In order to receive it, though, she needs to go to the French Alps and spend time with her father. Her mother tries to stop her, but she goes anyway because she feels like it may mend the part of her that has always felt a bit broken. Besides, she has no boyfriend holding her back -- she's firmly anti-relationship. Of course this means that once she reaches St Martin-de-Belleville  the men are plentiful and tempting and romance blossoms. It's not the romantic aspects of this book that I enjoyed the most, though -- it was Isla's blossoming relationship with her father that touched me the most. The other bits were nice, but felt more like they were there because they had to be.

As always, "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

10 December 2017

Blog Tour : The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor

Sandy Taylor's When We Danced at the End of the Pier absolutely blew my mind and I still talk about it and recommend it often. I've still been holding off on reading the other books in that particular series because I've felt that there was no way that they could measure up. How could an author possibly pen multiple books that would both tear at my heart and make me laugh until I cried? Of course, then The Runaway Children was announced, and a spot on the blog tour opened up for my birthday, and I knew it was somehow fated. Somehow I knew that Sandy Taylor was once again going to keep me up at night, and her characters would become treasured loved ones.

I wasn't wrong at all.

The Runaway Children focuses on Nell Patterson and her little sister, Olive. They're evacuated from their home in the East end of London with their brother Tony -- leaving behind their mother, newborn brother, and everyone and everything they know and love. Like so many other children they were sent to the countryside in Wales. Watching the two girls adjust to their changing circumstances was as much of a roller coaster for me as it was for the characters. I grew attached to Taylor's villages and inhabitants -- most of them, anyway. Most of all, though, I grew attached to Nell and Olive and their amazing relationship. The age difference is significantly different here than it was between the sisters in When We Danced, but here it worked in making the relationship even more special. 

I don't want to say too much because I fear that if I truly start gushing about how perfect this book was, I won't be able to stop until I've given it all away. This is one that needs to be read rather than told.


Visit the other tour stops:

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2xAwtXf 
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2iDTz5i

A heart-wrenching, unforgettable story of two evacuee sisters during the Second World War… Perfect for fans of Orphan Train, Nadine Dorries and Diney Costeloe.

London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead?

As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened by a boy on a farm, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…

They must run from danger and try to find their way home.

Together the two girls hold each other’s hands as they begin their perilous journey across bombed-out Britain. But when Nell falls ill, can she still protect her little sister from the war raging around them? And will they ever be reunited from the family they’ve been torn from?

An unputdownable novel of unconditional love, friendship and the fight for survival during a time of unimaginable change. The Runaway Children is guaranteed to find a place in your heart.

About the author: 

Sandy Taylor grew up on a council estate near Brighton. There were no books in the house, so Sandy’s love of the written word was nurtured in the little local library. Leaving school at fifteen, Sandy worked in a series of factories before landing a job at Butlins in Minehead. This career change led her to becoming a singer, a stand up comic and eventually a playwright and novelist.

06 December 2017

Blog Tour : It Had To Be You by Keris Stainton

If I actually gave awards for "best ____ of the year," Keris Stainton's It Had To Be You would likely win for Best RomCom of 2017. There was so much that I loved about this book and it is definitely one that I can see myself re-reading any time I need a little pick-me-up.

Bea is a twenty-five year old hopeless romantic who has had a recurring dream for years about "The One" and exactly how she would meet him. She even moved to a specific part of London in order to see the dream become a reality. Her life basically lives like a romcom -- complete with an internal voiceover much like that in movie trailers. (I totally get it. The same voice has invaded my own head on more than a few occasions.) She has the odd mix of friends and housemates, the quirky bookstore job, and the lack of a clue about what she really needs and wants.

It ends up being pretty predictable fairly early on as to what should (and, ultimately, does) happen for not only Bea but for the supporting characters as well, but that takes nothing away from the joy and delight I had in reading it. After all, aren't all romcoms a bit predictable? Isn't that why we read and watch them? And yes, I've already worked on "casting" this one in my head -- Olivia Cooke as Bea? Sydney White as Freya? Matthew Lewis would definitely be a perfect Henry! Oh what a fabulous movie it would be to add to my collection!

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour to celebrate the release of this fabulous 5-star read ... and, of course, buy the book!

Available now!

Twenty-five-year-old Bea is a hopeless romantic with a hopeless love life – until now. New beau Dan ticks all the boxes: he’s good-looking, kind and thoughtful. The complete opposite of Bea’s ex, who once threw her out in the middle of the night when she was ill so she didn’t disrupt his sleep.

So when her friends point out that she and Dan don’t have fireworks, Bea ignores them. Dan is the whole package. And yet Bea can’t stop comparing him to her best friend Henry… Because Dan doesn’t get Bea’s jokes. Or like books. Or make her laugh until she can’t breathe. Or become speechless when Bea puts on her favourite black dress for a night out…

As time goes on, Bea can’t shift the feeling that something just isn’t right. On paper Dan is the perfect man. But in reality… Will Bea be brave enough to ask for more from life – and get the fireworks she deserves?

A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for fans of Giovanna Fletcher, Cate Woods, and Mhairi McFarlane.

About the author: 

Keris lives in Lancashire with her husband and two sons. She’s written a bunch of books for young adults and children, and is obsessed with Twitter, tea, and 1D.

01 December 2017

The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Every so often a book comes along that shocks me with how very much I love it. Faith Hogan's The Girl I Used to Know is one of those books. I was expecting to like it ... otherwise I wouldn't have requested it from NetGalley and Aria in the first place ... but it absolutely stole my heart. More accurately, Tess and Amanda stole my heart.

Tess lives in Amanda's basement -- much to the dismay of Amanda and her husband, Richard. She's a cantankerous woman in her mid-sixties and does whatever she can to keep her flat and keep her landlords as on edge as possible. She wasn't always miserable, but something happened years prior that more or less stole her spirit.

Amanda is busy being a society wife and mother, maintaining the perfect house, and slowly becoming unrecognizable to even herself. She once had spunk and artistic dreams and now she has weekly coffee/gossip sessions with the other wives where she finds herself eating a bit too much and losing herself a bit more.

The two definitely don't like each other. They don't even really know each other in spite of having lived at the same address for many years. Of course all of this begins to change as each decides to re-know themselves, they end up knowing each other. What a wonderful combination they make, too! Add in the other characters who tag along on their journey's of rediscovery (sometimes knowingly, sometimes not), and we've ended up with a book that kept me up in the middle of the night more than once because "just one more chapter" kept turning into several.

Highly recommended to anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and had to wonder what in the world happened ... and to anyone who just loves a good story with amazingly rich and complex characters.

Friday 56 (today is 56% from the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

Amazon Description

24 November 2017

The Forgotten Children by Anita Davison (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Flora, Bunny and my beloved Sally are all back for their grittiest and more heart-wrenching case yet. Anita Davison's Flora Maguire series just keeps getting better and better! The Forgotten Children is the fourth in the series so, of course, I have to recommend that you start at the beginning so you know all of the ins and outs of our main characters. This could be read as a standalone, but you really want to follow them through. They're definitely worth it!

This latest installment sees Flora adjusting to life as a new mum. She and her husband are invited to visit a local children's hospital in hopes of getting them to donate money, but before long they end up investigating some rather disturbing happenings instead. "Rather disturbing" leads to "extremely disturbing," which only makes Flora fight harder to figure it all out.

As always, Anita Davison's attention to historical detail and character development is amongst the best. It's almost as though you can smell all of the smells and feel all of the feels. If you're a fan of historical mysteries and have yet to pick her books up, get thee to the bookstore!

Friday 56 (today is 56% from the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

21 November 2017

Lucy's Book Club for the Lost and Found by Emma Davies (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I have a huge weakness for books about the bookish so when I saw Emma Davies' Lucy's Book Club for the Lost and Found on Netgalley my finger couldn't hit the request button fast enough! The cover claims it to be "a heartwarming feel-good romance novel" and they absolutely nailed it for a description. 

The story centers around Lucy and the book club she forms at the library where she works. It's a mixture of people who attend -- elderly widower Oscar, shy computer nerd Callum, single mom Hattie and Lia, whose entire life is centered around caring for her mother with dementia. Each of them, in their own way, is "lost" and Lucy wants to use the book club as a way to help them find what's missing. Of course, she doesn't take into consideration that she needs the same for herself, too. 

Watching the individual stories unfold and how they end up intertwining as a group was an absolute delight at times and absolutely heartbreaking at others. It didn't take long at all for me to care about all of the book club members and that made for a quick and highly recommendable read.  

It's being released this coming Friday, just in time for the post-holiday unwind for those of us here in the States and it's available for pre-order at the oh-so-amazing price of 99 cents so you won't even have to think about it while debating where to do your Black Friday shopping! It will already be waiting on your Kindle!

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

Amazon Description