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30 August 2016

Forrest Leo's The Gentleman (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

It's Tuesday again which means it's time for another round of teasing! "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is 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" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

Since I finished the amazing Come Hell or Highball, I decided to take a break from my typical genres of choice and try something new. I had completely lost track of it on my ever-overflowing NetGalley shelf. Luckily it hasn't been archived yet so I could still grab it. After all, the description compares it to Monty Python and P.G. Wodehouse. It's either awesomely hilarious ... or the description writer has no idea what they're talking about. So far the description writer is spot-on and I'm loving it. Granted, I'm not quite half-way through yet but Leo would have to totally botch the second half.

If nothing else, I already want to own the actual hardcover version of the book just because of the artwork by Mahendra Singh that I've seen bouncing around Twitter. SO amazing. 

And now, the teasers:
(FYI: Lancaster is Lionel's brother-in-law and Lizzie is Lionel's sister. And, yes, I know that Teaser Tuesday says a line or two and I did oh-so-much more but I couldn't help it. You could claim the Dev'l made me do it!)

A funny, fantastically entertaining debut novel, in the spirit of Wodehouse and Monty Python, about a famous poet who inadvertently sells his wife to the devil--then recruits a band of adventurers to rescue her.
When Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, learns from his butler that they're broke, he marries the beautiful Vivien Lancaster for her money, only to find that his muse has abandoned him. 
Distraught and contemplating suicide, Savage accidentally conjures the Devil -- the polite "Gentleman" of the title -- who appears at one of the society parties Savage abhors. The two hit it off: the Devil talks about his home, where he employs Dante as a gardener; Savage lends him a volume of Tennyson. But when the party's over and Vivien has disappeared, the poet concludes in horror that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the dark lord. 
Newly in love with Vivian,  Savage plans a rescue mission to Hell that includes Simmons, the butler; Tompkins, the bookseller; Ashley Lancaster, swashbuckling Buddhist; Will Kensington, inventor of a flying machine; and Savage's spirited kid sister, Lizzie, freshly booted from boarding school for a "dalliance." Throughout, his cousin's quibbling footnotes to the text push the story into comedy nirvana.
Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, The Gentleman is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Hergé's beautifully detailed Tintin adventures.

29 August 2016

Rambling About.. Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance (@maiachance)

Title: Come Hell or Highball
Author: Maia Chance
Publication: 15 September 2015 -- Minotaur Books (St. Martin's Press)
Amazon Description:
31-year-old society matron Lola Woodby has survived her loveless marriage with an unholy mixture of highballs, detective novels, and chocolate layer cake, until, her husband dies suddenly, leaving her his fortune...or so Lola thought. As it turns out, all she inherits from Alfie is a big pile of debt. Pretty soon, Lola and her stalwart Swedish cook, Berta, are reduced to hiding out in the secret love nest Alfie kept in New York City. But when rent comes due, Lola and Berta have no choice but to accept an offer made by one of Alfie's girls-on-the-side: in exchange for a handsome sum of money, the girl wants Lola to retrieve a mysterious reel of film for her. It sounds like an easy enough way to earn the rent money. But Lola and Berta realize they're in way over their heads when, before they can retrieve it, the man currently in possession of the film reel is murdered, and the reel disappears. On a quest to retrieve the reel and solve the murder before the killer comes after them next, Lola and Berta find themselves navigating one wacky situation after another in high style and low company.
Charming, witty, often laugh-out-loud funny, Maia Chance's Come Hell or Highball introduces a sparkling new voice in crime fiction.
First Line: In all fairness, my husband was the one who should've been murdered.

Faves on 4s:
p14: The good news, it turned out, was that Alfie hadn't actually written a will, so everthing went to me. The bad news was, there wasn't a nickel to inherit.
p74: We passed the servants' staircase. We made it halfway down a hallway that led to the kitchen. Suddenly, a bang! rang out behind the kitchen door.
p124: You probably can't be a gangster kingpin without succumbing to a certain amount of deranged paranoia.
p164: "Back off," Berta said. She pressed the pistol's barrel into Jimmy's lapel and pushed him away. "I am not that sort of lady."
p234: I kicked myself for asking. But then, Berta could write a laundry list of all my foibles, yet I knew next to nothing about her. She was a walled fortress.


This past Friday I used the glorious Come Hell or Highball for my Book Beginnings & Friday 56 post. At the time I had just started it and was already confident in comparing Lola to Phryne Fisher. It didn't take long before I was saying to myself "Phryne who?" (Well, not really ... but I think you understand what I'm trying to get at.)

The story opens at the funeral of Lola's husband on May 30, 1923. It's the Roaring Twenties -- the age of Prohibition, silent movies, gangsters, flappers, chorus girls, and high society. Lola and her husband were part of the high society crowd and after his death she began to realize just how much a part of the gangsters and chorus girls crowd he was. One of the chorus girls in question offers to pay Lola to retrieve a film roll for her from one the high society types and, since her husband had left her with nothing but a pile of debt and a secret apartment love-nest, she and her cook Berta take the case. It sounded easy enough if it hadn't been for the dead bodies piling up, Lola being suspected of murder, and the private detective who appears to be on their heels at every turn. (And that's only in the first half!)

I love Lola. In an age where the flapper figure of having very little figure is all the rage, she keeps her curves. Forget dieting -- give that girl some steak, potatoes and chocolate. And Prohibition? Pshaw. Highballs are as important to her as coffee is to me. Luckily, she has her cook and partner-in-crime Berta. When Lola lost everything, Berta refused to leave her. In fact, she pretty much blackmailed Lola into letting her stick around and we're all better off for it!

And Ralph? Yeah, that's one private detective I definitely wouldn't mind following me around "like the little lamb after Mary."

This has all of the hijinx and hilarity that I would expect from an old movie that I would lose myself in on Turner Classic Movies. Hmmmm ... maybe from the early to mid-1950s and helmed by someone like Billy Wilder. Since I can't come up with anyone I would cast now, we'll just hop in thee ol' time machine back to 1955 or so.

Angela Lansbury is Lola ...

Robert Mitchum is Ralph ...

And NOBODY could be Berta except for Jane Darwell ...

Of course, time machines don't really exist so my dream cast will only be in my dreams -- and running through my head with each following book in the series!

26 August 2016

Guest Post: Samantha Tonge on Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun

I'm beyond thrilled to have one of my favorite authors and kindred spirit, Samantha Tonge, guest posting today! Not only does she write amazing books that yank at my heartstrings, but we've had lots of wonderful conversations on Twitter and we have quite a lot in common -- including our penchant for casting tales as though they were going to be turned into movies. In fact, that's what today's post is about -- casting the ever-amazing Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun! You can read my original teaser post of the book HERE.

For now, though, on with the casting call!


*rubs hands* Now this I am going to enjoy. I often mentally cast the main characters of my books and imagine myself standing next to the heroes, on the red carpet. It was Joseph Morgan from The Originals for Lord Edward out of Doubting Abbey, and Robert Pattinson for Luke out of Mistletoe Mansion. Um, okay, hands up, I might obsess just a little about the men in my novels!

Having said that, in Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun, I felt really close to the protagonist, singer and waitress Kate Golightly. Her life needs to move forwards. She has suffered romantic pain but puts on a brave face to most people. So I think the ideal actress to play her would be someone feisty like Anna Kendrick, a great actress who can subtly express vulnerability.
image from People

For Lucas, the chef and Poldark look-alike, well what can I say... It would have to be Aidan Turner of course. But if he wasn’t available well, I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones and I think Kit Harrington who plays Jon Snow would very much fit the part. He has tousled black, shoulder-length bed hair and is suitable brooding and moody. Plus muscular – I mean, he would have to be able to wield a scythe of course!
image from Celebuzz

As for holiday park manager, Tremain... Gosh. I need to think carefully about this as this character means everything to me. The pain in his eyes that hints at a difficult backstory. His strength. The occasional glimpse of a humorous man capable of great passion. Hmm. I think it would have to be Zac Efron. This might seem an odd choice as this actor’s recent movies are very light-hearted comedies. But he has the right solid, sexy look and treat yourself to watching The Lucky One. It is a wonderfully romantic movie where the versatile Efron shoes real emotion and depth.
image from WeeklyViral

Finally there is colourful Izzy, Kate’s best friend and cocktail bar owner. She wears all the colours of the rainbow, is ambitious and loyal and fun – everything a good friend should be. There is no doubt in my mind as to who should play her: Cameron Diaz, as Izzy is flirty and never short of male attention, but at the same time keen to push her career forwards and is a real gal’s gal.
image from Women's Health


Yep, that's definitely one I would watch! 

In my mind the cast went this way when I was reading (all images from their Twitters):

Kate - Kara Tointon

Lucas - Richard Madden

Tremaine - Matt Ryan

Izzy - Amy Manson

I find it rather hilarious that we both had Game of Thrones hunks on the mind when thinking of Lucas. What about you? If you've already read the Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun, who would YOU cast? And, if you haven't read it yet ... GO GET IT.

25 August 2016

Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I've only just started this so haven't gotten far enough for a big ramble, but after the first few chapters I already love it and I'll be shocked if it gets less than 4 stars from me on Goodreads! Lola and Berta are a phenomenal pair and I'm so thankful that I learned about this series thanks to the second one showing up on NetGalley. I'm even more thankful that my darling son was willing to walk down to the library with me so I could check this one out! Lola reminds me a bit of Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher -- but American and snarkier. (I know -- snarkier than Phryne?)

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice (today page 256 of the hardcover) 
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

Amazon Description
31-year-old society matron Lola Woodby has survived her loveless marriage with an unholy mixture of highballs, detective novels, and chocolate layer cake, until, her husband dies suddenly, leaving her his fortune...or so Lola thought. As it turns out, all she inherits from Alfie is a big pile of debt. Pretty soon, Lola and her stalwart Swedish cook, Berta, are reduced to hiding out in the secret love nest Alfie kept in New York City. But when rent comes due, Lola and Berta have no choice but to accept an offer made by one of Alfie's girls-on-the-side: in exchange for a handsome sum of money, the girl wants Lola to retrieve a mysterious reel of film for her. It sounds like an easy enough way to earn the rent money. But Lola and Berta realize they're in way over their heads when, before they can retrieve it, the man currently in possession of the film reel is murdered, and the reel disappears. On a quest to retrieve the reel and solve the murder before the killer comes after them next, Lola and Berta find themselves navigating one wacky situation after another in high style and low company.
Charming, witty, often laugh-out-loud funny, Maia Chance's Come Hell or Highball introduces a sparkling new voice in crime fiction.

24 August 2016

Rambling About.. A Lesson in Love and Murder by Rachel McMillan

Rachel McMillan has done it yet again! And by "it," of course, I mean "totally occupied my every waking non-working moment" (and quite a lot of my working moments, too, to be completely honest!).

A Lesson in Love and Murder is the second full novel in her Herringford & Watts Mysteries series and once again we're in Toronto with Merinda, Jem, Ray and Jasper. Jem and Ray are having difficulty adjusting to married life. She lost her job at the department store because she's married and he's been spending far too much at his newspaper office covering the recent activities of anarchists. Merinda is still Merinda and still chasing the next case and Jasper is still secretly in love with her.

Oh, Jasper. You wrench my heart practically every time I see your name on the page. She so doesn't deserve you.

To make matters worse for my beloved Jasper, who's already stressed because his boss at the police station is blowing off any real investigation into the fact that someone keeps blowing up trolley cars and people, Merinda and Jem are hired by Benfield Citrone. Benny's a Mountie and is afraid that his cousin might be involved in the anarchist movement -- particularly the blowing stuff up part of it. Merinda is immediately fascinated ... by the case and by Benny.

But ... but ... JASPER!!!


I know, I know. He's fictional and even if he wasn't the book takes place is 1912 and he's only  27. I'm currently 40 in 2016. There's a bit of an age difference.

In spite of my ongoing obsession with Jasper I was still able to get all wrapped up with Benny's case, thanks in large part to the inclusion of Emma Goldman. Her story in general has always fascinated me. While horrible things were done by her followers in the name of anarchism (you know, like blowing up trolley cars and people), she did so much that was good for so many. Anyway, she's the reason that Benny thinks that his cousin is in Toronto and Merinda hatches a plan to become involved with Goldman in order to find him -- even if it means she and Jem have to blow things up themselves.

Needless to say, Merinda's potential involvement with Goldman gets Jasper all protective and flustered and furious (and me all swooney -- which probably isn't even a word). Jem, of course, is the voice of calm reason as per usual and pulls them all together at least momentarily. Well, all except for her husband who has taken off for Chicago to help his sister.

I'm going to stop my ramble here (or in a minute or so) because I really don't want to give too much away. I have a feeling that I could just let it all ooze out of me and turn into a huge spoiley spoiler. I will say, though, that I love this book. I was quite enamored with The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder and you should really read that one first, but this was even better. I felt like the characters came into their own a bit more and the further we get into things the more complex they become -- without losing the bits that made me fall in love with them in the first place.

And finally, because I can't resist ...

**************Faves on 4s**************

p14 - Jasper wondered if Merinda knew that her smile made his heart complete. That she was the only person in the world: Merinda Herringford and her test tubes and her detection and the voice of her hero, Sherlock Holmes, pealing through her head.

p74 - "If Sherlock Holmes met Jack London," Merinda said to Jem, "that would be Benny Citrone."

p124 - Merinda shrugged if off and pasted on a scowl, but Benny noticed it didn't match her eyes. "You can't have Herringford without Watts," she said.

p194 - It can save lives when we take time to look at one person and not just see them as the bottom rung.

23 August 2016

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is 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" from Books and
a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.
26-year-old Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown―and her past―behind for good.
Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina―also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life.
As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love―and her chance at happiness―all over again.

Wow. Susan Bishop Crispell absolutely knocked my socks off with The Secret Ingredient of Wishes. No, she didn't knock my socks off. She ripped them off my feet, slapped me around with them a bit, then lovingly replaced them with even cozier and fuzzier socks and tucked me in under the blankets with a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. That's far more accurate.

As soon as I read the description on Netgalley I knew that I would need to read it. I immediately got the same warm and fuzzy feeling that I get from rewatching Pushing Daisies.
Credit: Bustle
This is mostly Rachel's story. Poor Rachel who can grant wishes just by reading them off of magical slips of paper that appear once the wish has been made -- including her own. When she was young she made a wish that ended up destroying her family and she vowed to never grant another one. It isn't that easy, though, since she couldn't always avoid reading the little slips. When her goddaughter makes a birthday wish that is accidentally granted (in an oh-so-comical way), Rachel packs her car and runs as far as she can go -- and ends up nowhere. 

Actually, she ends up IN Nowhere, North Carolina -- "home of the world's largest lost and found." 
She's taken in by Catch, an elderly spitfire who can bind secrets into pies and have them forgotten when eaten. And everyone knows and accepts it. It's just one of the quirks of Nowhere. 

Life in Nowhere is ... different. It's funny and sad and sweet. It's, for lack of a better word, magical. More than once I had to wipe a tear from my eye from laughing so hard only to turn the page and wipe another one away in empathy. It's a roller coaster ride of emotions. Just as Rachel finds something resembling happiness she hits a sharp turn. Over. And. Over. And through it all she has the support of Catch, her best friend back in Knoxville, her new friend/boss, and the hunky backyard neighbor.

Catch absolutely made this book for me with her spunk and her advice and her nicknames and the way she rides the emotional roller coaster of life -- embracing the highs and lows and encouraging those around her to do likewise.
Credit: Buzzfeed
And she makes the most amazing sounding pies! 

I'm not sure if this is going to be our only visit to Nowhere, but I hope that it isn't. It stands on its own beautifully but could also be the catalyst for an amazing series. 

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes is being published on September 6, 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books (an offshoot of St Martin's Press). I received my copy from the publishers for free via NetGalley ... although I'm seriously considering purchasing a hardcover copy anyway. I enjoyed it that much.

21 August 2016

Rambling About.. Charlotte Fallowfield's Until We Collide

I admit that when I started to read Charlotte Fallowfield's Until We Collide that I was a bit "meh" over it. When it opens Paige Taylor is seventeen years old and completely smitten with Alec Wright who is four years older, absolutely gorgeous, and dating somebody else. She won't even consider dating anybody else because they aren't him even though he's unavailable.


I get the whole young infatuation thing but it's totally not what I signed up for when I got the book.

But. BUT.... then we fast forward a year and Alec is available and interested in Paige. He takes her to her final school ball and just as she thinks that she's finally getting what she wanted in life she's offered an amazing job opportunity that will take her away from England and Alec.

And thus begins a cycle of collisions and near misses that made me laugh, made me mad, and quite possibly made me shed a tear or two.

I took turns wanting to smack Paige and Alec over the decade-plus span of the book (30 years, actually, from the beginning to the epilogue). The two just never seemed to be able to get it together and it started to drive me crazy. Sure, I thought that she was more than a bit ridiculous at the beginning, as so many seventeen year olds are, but through the years she grew on me and so did he. It helped that through it all we also had the support of Paige's oldest friend, Poppie, and Alec's old friend (who then becomes Paige's friend and mentor), Jean-Luc. They helped to lighten the mood when needed -- and to bring some clarity and stability to the otherwise craziness that was Paige and Alec's relationship. And, of course, there's also Daisy ... but you'll have to read it yourself. Nothing I say could do justice.

Between the laughs and the tears Until We Collide ended up being totally unexpected and absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend it to rom-com lovers and give an easy 5 stars for this delightfully heartbreaking comedy of errors.

19 August 2016

Nice Day for a White Wedding by A. L. Michael (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice (today I'm using page 56 on my epub)
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader
Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.
These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancé. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts of herself behind?

Last week when I was teasing and rambling about the first book in the series, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday, I mentioned that at the time I wasn't so sure about Chelsea but was holding out hope for her. Well, by the end of that book I had warmed up to her a bit and right now I'm absolutely loving Chelsea ... and I totally get why it was kind of necessary that I spent so much time being unsure of her.

Poor Chelsea. She spent so much time and effort trying to put her past behind her and become new and improved and polished. She fell in love with Kit and readily accepted when he proposed, but he still didn't know about the "real" Chelsea's past and when they went off to visit his family (including his dragon of a mum), it all felt like it was falling down around her ears. Add to it the recent release of her ex-con father and worrying about her younger siblings and, well, just poor Chelsea.

Everything that I loved about the first book is here -- the humor, the heartache, the amazing flashbacks. We're only a few days away from it being published and then there will be at least one more to follow. And then I'll likely cry because I've grown to love these girls so dang much.

16 August 2016

Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is 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" from Books and
a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.
Return to the Little French Guesthouse is the follow-up to Helen Pollard's delightful The Little French Guesthouse which I had the joy of reading in early April (I rambled/teased here and here).  If you haven't read that one yet, you really should. This doesn't get released until August 26th so you have plenty of time to get and read the first. This book picks up shortly after the first one finished and is quite possibly even more delightful. 

Life is still uneasy for Emmy and Rupert, as you can probably guess from the teasers. Luckily, life is also good. A lot of changes are happening in their lives and at the guesthouse and, as is often the case with changes, the adjustments aren't always easy. I couldn't help but wonder how much of the story came from Pollard's first-hand experiences and how much of it is pure spot-on imagination especially when it comes to the trials and tribulations of running the guesthouse! Yeah, yeah ... there's a darling romance thrown in but for me what absolutely got me all riled up and emotional were the business aspects -- probably because I've been-there/done-that to some degree with much of it. Hospitality isn't always a happy-go-lucky industry to be working in. There were times when I found myself clenching my jaw and tensing my shoulders in empathy! 

I've absolutely fallen in love with the vast majority of the characters in and around the guesthouse. Once again I felt myself longing for a Rupert of my own in times of crisis -- personal or business-related. While we're at it, I'll also take some friends like Sophie and Ellie. I'd also be more than happy with a Gloria, as well .... as long as it's the canine version. What I really want, though, is at least one more book with all of them. 

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is 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" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

12 August 2016

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday by A. L. Michael (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader
Ruby, Evie, Mollie and Chelsea were the bad girls at school. But Ruby was the baddest. Evie fought her anger, Mollie fought her mother and Chelsea…well, Chelsea just fought. But Ruby set her sights on a bigger stage. And together, they dreamed of a future where Ruby could sing, Evie could make art, Mollie could bake, Chelsea could dance – and all of them could finally feel at home.
A decade later, the girls are reunited for the funeral of Ruby, who took the world – and the charts – by storm, before fading too soon. And Evie doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry when she learns that Ruby has left them a house on Camden Square – the perfect place for them to fulfill their dreams. But does she dare take the plunge, and risk it all for one last shot at the stars?

Right now I'm only at the 40% mark of the book and even so I'm already loving it and already looking forward to getting my grubby little mitts on the next book in the House on Camden Square series.  Oh ... wait ... I just DID get my grubby little mitts on it thanks to NetGalley! (Like, seriously ... I got the notification on my phone as I was typing this on the computer. Bonus!) Maybe you'll be getting graced with blips from that next Friday!

Anyway, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday. It may already be one of my favorite books of the year even though I'm not yet half way through. I adore the flashbacks and memories of Ruby and how Evie describes her:
'She was Lula Mae in Breakfast at Tiffany's and Dorothy on the yellow brick road. Although she hated the idea that anyone would choose to go back to monochrome.' (26%)
Heck, just having the mention of Lula Mae made big bonus points for me! Everyone's always all about Holly Golightly without really talking about Lula Mae at all (and yes, there is a decided difference) .... but I'm getting off track (again).

My absolute favorite thing about the book, though, is Mollie's ten-year-old daughter and Evie's goddaughter, Esme. She's a book nerd. She speaks her mind. She's wise beyond her years. She's what I always imagined my daughter would be like if I had one. Heck, she even uses my favorite "not my circus, not my monkeys" bit and in the most clever of ways.
'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I'm just tired of people treating me like a kid.'
'You are a kid,' Killian snorted.
 Esme frowned at him, looking up in irritation, 'Not your monkeys!' (36%)
I adore her. I've even already told A.L. Michael that I want Esme to have a sequel all of her own when she's grown up. 

Luckily, so far I adore everything else about the book as well. Well, I'm not so sure about Chelsea yet, but she has 60% to come around and the next book does appear to be focused more on her so I'm holding out hope ....

I'll let you know in a week!

11 August 2016

Rambling About.. Katie Fforde's A Summer at Sea

Title: A Summer at Sea
Author: Katie Fforde
Publication: 12 August 2016 - Bookouture (this edition)
First Lines: Emily and Susanna, midwife and mother-to-be, were quiet and settled in the candlelit room. Everything was going to plan; so far it was a textbook birth.
Favorites on 4s:
4% - 'I shouldn't have come,' she muttered. 'I shouldn't be about to take a summer job -- something I might have done when I was a student. I'm thirty-five, with professional qualifications. It's ridiculous!'
34% - 'Us Celts, we're like icebergs, there's a lot more under the surface than there is showing.'
64% - 'What? Are you telling me, while you were huffing and puffing, you were observing body language and jumping to conclusions?'
84% - It was always going to be sad, but in a beautiful, poetic way. Now it was sad because she'd quarrelled with a man she loved and was never going to be able to explain and put things right between them.

'It was always going to be sad, but in a beautiful, poetic way.'
That line sums up Katie Fforde's A Summer at Sea so well! I know that the cover says that it's "a gorgeous feel good summer read,"  but I've come to realize that "feel good" often translates into "grab your tissues before you start reading."
Emily has taken a leave of absence from her position as a midwife in order to head to Scotland to help her friend Rebecca by being the cook on their puffer boat. Normally Rebecca would be cooking for the guests and crew herself, but she's seven months pregnant and finding it difficult. Emily readily agrees when asked because she needs a break from the headaches being given to her from her local health care colleagues who don't believe in things like home birth.
Emily had always been in the mindset that she was perfectly happy being single and that she didn't want children -- just her career delivering them. Of course, all of those feelings got capsized the more time she spent on the puffer with the delightful guests, Rebecca and her family, and especially Rebecca's brother-in-law and his daughter. She began second thinking and second guessing and then rethinking and reguessing everything all over again.
The pacing felt a bit slower than a lot of the books I've been reading lately, but it was still a fairly fast and enjoyable read. I adore Emily's friends and especially her new ones -- Kate, Maisie and Lizzie. The romance angle felt predictable to me but they all do. I'm really looking forward to the next time when I don't see the big pair-off within the first couple of chapters.

09 August 2016

Laura Barnard's Dopey Women (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I was thrilled when Laura Barnard asked if I would be interesting in reviewing her book, Dopey Women. It had been on my TBR for a while so, of course, I jumped at the chance! I was also thrilled to have a slow night at work so I could pretty much just sit back and do nothing but read (between bouts of actual work, of course).

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two)
of a book being read now or in the future and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.
Sadie and the rest of her team -- Steph, Mags and Lexi -- have been let go from their jobs out of the blue. Sadie completely loses it and, in the process, any hope of a job reference (although watching her lose it is hilariously priceless as long as you don't mind the word f**k a lot). A couple of months later she's still going to the job center in search of employment and runs into the others. None of them are having easy lives. Over coffee they find out that on top of none of them having jobs, Steph's boyfriend left her and their newborn, Mags' husband suddenly died and she's been diagnosed with breast cancer, and Lexi's in an abusive relationship and doesn't think she can afford to leave. Mags is planning to start marijuana in order to counteract the effects of her chemo... which gives them an idea...

"Teaser Tuesday" from Books and a Beat asks for a random
line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.
Now, I was a huge fan of the show Weeds when it was on Showtime and Tom and I have both rewatched the entire series several times on Netflix since it stopped airing. This, my dear readers, isn't Weeds. It's even more hilarious and has so much more heart. I've tried to think of a perfect comparison and failed. A cross between Weeds and the girls from Ally McBeal? Weeds and a younger version of The Golden Girls? There really is no good comparison -- Dopey Women is truly in a class of its own.

The world's best gay best friend (just don't tell him I called him that), irate drug lords and a smoking hot diary-writing police detective round out the tale of the four women (and baby) fabulously. Just when you think things can't get better, they do. And then they don't. And then you laugh so hard that you need adult pull-ups. Then your heart breaks in a bunch of little pieces. And, after you spend some quality time swooning, THEN people start looking at you as though you've been smoking something funny (or, you know, eating too many brownies). 

You shouldn't read this in a public setting if you can't control your emotions while reading ... but if your sense of humor is anything at all like mine (and you love a good f-bomb), you definitely should read this book.

08 August 2016

Rambling About.. Rachel McMillan's Of Dubious and Questionable Memory

In January I fell in love with Rachel McMillan's Merinda Herringford and Jemima Watts. Even though I read it so early in the year I knew then that The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder would likely be one of my favorite books of 2016. It still is. I still find myself saying "cracker jacks" far more often than I ever thought imaginable and have been waiting oh-so-impatiently for a new book to appear. At the end of May the novella Of Dubious and Questionable Memory was released but I was holding out to get it until a full-length novel was available to join it. I was so very above the moon happy when I saw that A Lesson in Love and Murder would be released on August 30th -- and that it was available on NetGalley! (Do yourself a huge favor and read these in order!)
Of course, now that I actually have each in my possession I'm spreading out the Merinda and Jem love and not reading them back-to-back after all. Figures, eh? I'll post A Lesson in Love and Murder a bit closer to its publication date. Don't worry -- it's only three weeks to wait!

A short read but worth every too-fast second. I can't ramble about it too much because I just know I'll botch it and give something away, but here are some random thoughts that would have made its way into a full-length ramble had it been a full-length book (which I'm glad it wasn't -- something I never thought I would say as I tend to stay away from shorts):

* St Jerome's Reformatory for Vagrant and Incorrigible Females -- Sadly, it doesn't seem to have existed. The Toronto Morality Squad did, and there are several St Jerome this-and-thats, but I've found no record of St Jerome's Reformatory.... yet.

* Poor Jem trying to be all domesticated and housewifey. And poor Ray trying to deal with Jem. And poor everyone trying to deal with Merinda! (Jasper especially. She even called him a "human golden retriever" ... at his own birthday party!)

* Only these four could come up with such a ridiculous wager. Lunches or motorbikes. Really?

* "Boston stole my soul from the moment we disembarked at South Station." Yep. I definitely know the feeling! Reading about it in the glory of what was October 1911? Absolutely delightful. Could almost feel the crispness of the air in my chest.

* Jemima fangirls over Louisa May Alcott. I knew I loved her.

* Merinda, Merinda, Merinda. It's a good thing I love Jem and Ray and Jasper so very much. You I kind of want to shut into a closet for prolonged periods of time. You do have your moments of not being totally self-absorbed, though, for which I am very thankful.

* The case itself? Perfect for a story of this length. Any longer may have left it dragging along. Fun and spunky and a little heartbreaking and totally what I would expect from McMillan.

* Lemon jam. I need some. Now.

* "One little step to try and understand someone, and the whole world can change for you." -- A keeper of a quote!

Rambling About.. From The Sideline by Amy Avanzino

Title: From the Sideline
Author: Amy Avanzino
Publication: 19 July 2016 - Henery Press
From the Amazon description:
After losing her marriage, life savings, and waistline, Autumn Kovac is terrified of being hit by more heartache. So when her only child decides to try out for the football team, the overprotective, sports-illiterate mom has a near phobic reaction. But Zachary hasn’t smiled since his father left, and she’s desperate to make him happy (and doing nothing and hoping for the best hasn’t been working). She reluctantly enters a new world of youth competitive sports, full of overzealous coaches with Vince Lombardi dreams and fanatical parents trying to achieve vicarious glory. 
Unexpectedly, Autumn begins transforming within this strangely addictive new culture, finding her voice, facing her past, tackling her fears…and uncovering the secret that’s been keeping her from her son. After meeting her ideal catch, she finds herself back in the dating game and discovers some fierce competition of her own. Will Autumn make it off the sideline? Can the underdog finally win? 
First Lines: I'm not the  kind of person who likes to exert myself in any way -- unless I'm being chased by an angry mob threatening to tear my limbs off. But even then, instead of running, I'd probably just lay down and hope for the best.

Favorites on 4s:
14% - Zachary drops the ball, crumbles to the ground, and eats turf. His body is sprawled across the field like a crime scene.
34% - I can't help but feel like a loser. I lost my marriage, my life savings, and identity as a wife to a bigtime lawyer in the divorce, and I'm losing my son a little bit more every day. The only thing I haven't lost is weight.
54% - "Youth competitive sports is the newest partisan divide. It can be way more corrupt and dirty than anything ever seen in D.C. By hook or by crook, some of these parents will ensure their children get the high-profile position they desire."
74% - "It helped me to develop courage, cultivate loyalty, and firm up my character. But perhaps what I love most of all is that the game taught me the underdog can always win."
94% - Zachary refuses to be taken down. He stumbles but will not fall.

When Amy Avanzino asked if I would like a copy of her latest book, From the Sideline, I readily said 'Yes!' I loved the first book in the Wake-Up series so I was greatly looking forward to the next one. I was expecting it to be along the same vein as Wake-up Call, but instead it takes place in the same community with the main character here being a friend of Sarah's from W-uC.

 Autumn's son Zachary (aka Zeke) is ten years old, just like my dear Well-Read Pirate Prince, John. At this point, though, John is more mascot than player and his only athletic feats include power-walking to PokeStops for Pokemon Go or seeing how many books he can carry home from the library without breaking an arm or dumping them on the ground. He's not a team sport kind of kid. He has friends who are, and once upon a time I played youth league soccer and my brother played Little League baseball, so I'm still familiar with team parents and coaches and the world that Autumn and Zachary are entering.

Avanzino nails it with heart and laughter ... and some aggravation. I can be a bit overprotective, but Autumn takes hers to an entirely other level. Of course, after being in an abusive relationship I suppose that might be expected. Still, there were times when I just wanted to whap her in the head with a giant foam finger and tell her to lighten up.

As was the case with the first book in the series the characters -- main and supporting -- are entirely believable and well thought out. It would have been an easy book to make "quaint," but it wasn't. It wasn't always an easy read because sometimes I related too well to hypersensitive overprotective Autumn that I wanted to whap myself in the head with a giant foam finger!

It's a wonderful story about growth -- both for Zachary and Autumn. Life lessons can be found on the playing field... and from the sideline.                              

07 August 2016

Rambling About.. Lynsey James' The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club

I'm so glad that I already have Lynsey James' The Broken Hearts Book Club on my Kindle app. It's the first book in the Luna Bay series and I've so enjoyed the second one thanks to NetGalley and CarinaUK! I used The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club for the most recent Book Beginnings & Friday 56 post and at the time had only read a couple of pages. I really got into it yesterday and had a hard time falling asleep last night because it would mean putting it down.

Emily has traveled to Luna Bay from her home in Glasgow with a two-part month-long mission. Part one is to meet her biological father for the first time after spending her entire life not knowing he wasn't the man she had called Dad. Part two is to convince the owner of Sunflower Cottage to sell her bed & breakfast to the hotel development company Emily works for and become the latest member of its chain (and gain Emily a much sought-after promotion in the process).

Emily is very much a business woman. She favors green smoothies over breakfast and pantsuits (complete with shoulder pads) over casual wear. She "unwinds" by diving into the work on her laptop. Until, of course, Luna Bay starts to take effect on her.

At first Emily couldn't wait to get out of there. People were wary over her wanting to take control of their beloved Sunflower Cottage -- especially Noah, the handsome but gruff mechanic who helped the owner, Rose, as much as he could and felt it to be as much of a home as he ever had. When Rose has an accident that puts her out of commission for a bit, Noah volunteers to step up to run the B&B in her absence -- and Emily volunteers to help. It doesn't take long, of course, for the two to get past their initial bickering and dislike of each other and a romance starts to blossom. (No big surprise there, huh?)

Actually, the quick turnaround in feelings between Noah and Emily was the only part of the book that seemed a little off to me. It just felt rushed -- as though a step or five had been overlooked. Nevertheless, the swiftness of it is was swept aside by the sweetness and strength of the rest of the tale. I fell in love with Luna Bay and its delightful cast of characters and look forward to revisiting time and again,

Life in Luna Bay is sweet & sizzling. Once you spend some time there, you won't want to leave!

05 August 2016

Lynsey James' The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club (Book beginnings & Friday 56)

Emily Reed is having a bad day. Her mother has just dropped a devastating bombshell—the dad she’s known and loved for twenty-five years isn’t her biological father!
Desperately in need of answers, Emily heads to Luna Bay covering her personal quest up as a work trip to Sunflower Cottage B&B.
Setting up the ‘Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club’ should be a great way to meet the locals and maybe even find out who her father is. The only problem is brooding and insanely gorgeous, Noah, who is determined to make Emily’s stay perfectly uncomfortable.
Discovering the truth after all these years was never going to be simple, but Emily will stop at nothing to uncover her past… even if her heart is getting in the way! (Amazon Description)
Thanks to the wonderful folks at NetGalley and CarinaUK I've just started reading Lynsey James' The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club.  I haven't gotten far enough in to warrant a ramble yet, but it's never too early for a tease or two!
Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

Rambling About.. Jenny Colgan's The Good, The Bad and the Dumped

Now, you obviously, would never look up your exes on Facebook. And even if you did, you most certainly wouldn't run off trying to track them down, risking your job, family and happiness in the process. Posy Sutherland, on the other hand…Posy is delighted when Matt proposes – on top of a mountain, in romantic mode. But a few days later disaster strikes: he backs out of the engagement. Crushed and humiliated, Posy starts thinking. Why has her love life always ended in total disaster? Determined to discover how she got to this point, Posy resolves to track down her exes. Can she learn from her past mistakes? And what if she has let Mr Right slip through her fingers on the way? [Amazon Description]

The Good, The Bad and the Dumped is a 2010 release from Jenny Colgan. Unfortunately, it appears that it was never published here in the U.S. Fortunately, we have the wonderful Internet that allows us to easily buy books from elsewhere.

So, Posy has been proposed to by Matt and said yes. While she says that she's happy about the idea of it all, her sister Fleur and best friend Leah help her realize that maybe she isn't really so much completely over her ex from three years ago. To further complicate matters she runs into a friend of an ex from nine years ago. And then her first serious boyfriend from way back in university pops up on Facebook which leads to memories of meeting the ex from nine years ago.

Posy takes all of these memories flooding in as a sign and she seems to think it's a good idea to actually see her ex-es ... without telling Matt about it.
'This,' said Leah, 'is the worst idea you have ever had.'
'Can't you be more supportive?'
'I can!' said Fleur. The she took on a concentrated look. 'Oh no, hang on, I've just thought about it and it turns out I can't. Sorry. This is a stupid idea. Maybe it isn't a sign after all.' (p 68)
She's a bit of a hot mess. (I'm sure her psychotherapist mother would agree with me on this.)

Posy is such a fantastic trainwreck and her friends and family add to it tomake sure that you can't look away for fear of missing something hilarious. Even moreso when she kind of gets one more ex to add to the list -- Matt. I seriously couldn't blame him one bit. I likely would have kind of dumped her, too. At the same time, though, don't we all have the right to be trainwrecks once in a while? (And if I ever have the need to do so, I hope that I can do it half as fabulously as Posy!)

The aftermath is sometimes hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking and incredibly believable. Watching Posy attempt to get her train back on track was definitely worthwhile and Colgan has moved up another notch on my "must read" list of authors.

02 August 2016

Murder in the Secret Garden by Ellery Adams (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

Normally I would copy & paste the Amazon description for the book I'm featuring, but when Ellery Adams shared the video trailer for her latest Book Retreat Mystery, Murder in the Secret Garden, I couldn't resist!

Frances Hodges Burnett's The Secret Garden was always a favorite of my mom's and of mine. The book, the movies, the musical ... all of them are near and dear. I was downright giddy when I found out that the third Storyton Hall tale was going to have a Secret Garden slant and even moreso when Ellery sent me an autographed paperback copy to devour. Unfortunately, I'm not used to carrying actual books around anymore and forgot to throw it into my purse a couple of nights so ended up reading something else ... but that just means that it lines up perfectly with Tuesday Intros and Teaser Tuesday! 

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is 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" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

The first book in the series I enjoyed because of how it gave the backstory to Storyton Hall and Jane (and her sons') legacy. It truly is a remarkable place that I would love to visit if only it actually existed. The second book I was a little "eh" about because I had figured the mystery part out fairly early on and wasn't feeling the romance angle in Jane's life. I've got about 100 pages left to read for this one and it has me downright flummoxed! There are few things in this life that I enjoy more than a flummoxing by a well-written mystery.

01 August 2016

Rambling About.. The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

Set in 1850 England, The Secrets of Wishtide is the first of Kate Saunders' Laetitia Rodd mystery series due out on September 13th. Laetitia (Letty) is 52 years old, childless, and a widow -- her archdeacon husband, Matt, having died just over two years ago. She lives quite modestly, but happily, with her friend and landlady Mary Bentley. Her younger brother, Fred Tyson, is a criminal barrister and often relies on Letty's assistance in cases. After all, people are often far more willing to open up to a kindly old minister's widow than they are to a lawyer.

Her latest case has her travelling to Wishtide, the home of Sir James and Lady Calderstone. Their son, Charles, has fallen in love with the girl who had been hired to teach their daughters Italian but they have received ominous correspondence suggesting that the girl isn't suitable. Letty is to act as the new governess for the daughters while snooping about to find out the truth about the girl that Charles wants to marry.

It sounds like an easy enough case for a woman who says that her work "could be described as the Management and Prevention of Scandal," and it does start out to be easily tied up. Unfortunately, it gets complicated when more family secrets are discovered and several murders at and around Wishtide occur. When Charles is arrested for one of them Letty is called upon to help clear his name -- much to the dismay of Scotland Yard's Inspector Blackbeard.

I thought that I knew a couple of different times how things were going to play out but Saunders kept me guessing. I'm thrilled that I was able to read this thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley and even more thrilled that more Laetitia Rodd books are in the works! Part Father Brown, part Miss Marple -- Letty Rodd is a pure delight and will be a welcome addition to any historical mystery collection!