Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (audio)

Title: The Invention of Wings   
Author: Sue Monk Kidd      
Narrator: Jenna Lamia, Adepero Oduye, Sue Monk Kidd   
Published: January 2014, Penguin Audio  
Length: 13.5 hours  
Source: Library 

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.


As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.


This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

My thoughts: I had the opportunity to hear Sue Monk Kidd speak the night this book came out. At that point, I had not read her other book, The Secret Life of Bees, so I was unfamiliar with her work. But, as I sat in the auditorium of the Greenwich Library listening to her speak about herself, her reasons for writing this new book, and all the research she put into it, I knew this book was going to be an amazing read and I was definitely not mistaken. 

I decided to listen to the audio of this book, after having such a good experience with the audio of The Secret Life of Bees which I picked up shortly after that night with Sue Monk Kidd - and what a great decision. Part of that decision came from the fact that SMK read a few sections of the book that night and while she does not narrate the book herself (she just narrates the author's note at the end) I felt that having the book read to me would really enhance the overall enjoyment of it.

I loved this story, plain and simple. It's a powerful, thought-provoking read about the atrocities of slavery in the South. Focusing on two courageous sisters, who in my opinion should be in the history books, we follow them as they fight to not only abolish slavery but also to gain equality for women's rights. 

Blending fact with fiction, SMK gives us this remarkable, at times tough, story of a girl who was given a slave at the age of eleven. Sarah wanted to free that slave but was unable to and basically spent her life trying to find a way to get Handful that freedom, even going so far as to teach Handful to read. 

I found myself very inspired by Sarah. She was certainly a spirited girl who knew what she wanted and wasn't afraid to fight for it. She wanted her freedoms and wasn't going to stand for the social norms of her times. I think that is what caused a lot of the friction between her and her mother - a character I could not stand!

At the end of the book, in the author's note, you find out where SMK got the inspiration for this book. She also goes on to explain where she stayed true to history and where she used fiction to round out the story. This part of the book is just as interesting as the story itself, in my opinion. I love when authors share their inspiration and decisions for why they do what they do.

This is the type of book that stays with you long after you finish reading it. While I did listen to the audio version, I do have a signed copy of the print edition, which I'm glad, because it's definitely a book that I want on my bookshelf.

Audio Thoughts: The narration of this book was beautifully done. It was easy to tell who was narrating each section and both narrators brought the characters to life. Having the author narrate the author's note at the end was a special treat as well.


*** Devourer of Books hosts Sound Bytes  - a monthly link-up to share the audio books that everyone is listening to. Stop by and you just might find your next audio book!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review: I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark (audio)

Title: I've Got You Under My Skin   
Author: Mary Higgins Clark   
Narrator: Jan Maxwell  
Published: April 2014, Simon & Schuster Audio 
Length: 7 hours 44 minutes  
Source: Publisher 

When Laurie Moran’s husband was brutally murdered, only three-year-old Timmy saw the face of his father’s killer. Five years later his piercing blue eyes still haunt Timmy’s dreams. Laurie is haunted by more—the killer’s threat to her son as he fled the scene: “Tell your mother she’s next, then it’s your turn . . .”

Now Laurie is dealing with murder again, this time as the producer of a true-crime, cold-case television show. The series will launch with the twenty-year-old unsolved murder of Betsy Powell. Betsy, a socialite, was found suffocated in her bed after a gala celebrating the graduation of her daughter and three friends. The sensational murder was news nationwide. Reopening the case in its lavish setting and with the cooperation of the surviving guests that night, Laurie is sure to have a hit on her hands. But when the estranged friends begin filming, it becomes clear each is hiding secrets . . . small and large.

And a pair of blue eyes is watching events unfold, too . . .

My thoughts: It's been a while since I've read a Mary Higgins Clark book and it's the first time I've decided to listen to one and I have to say I was pleased on both accounts! Reading, or in this case, listening, to this book has reinforced my love of this author and I can't wait to go back and pick up some of the books I've missed!

What I loved about this book is that as the book progressed, and the two mysteries were coming to a close, the short chapters added to the overall tension of the book, ramping up the suspense and having me sitting on the edge of my seat! Mind you, I was in the car driving down to Georgia for my brother's wedding as I was listening to this, a 12.5 hour drive, so this was the perfect audio for a good chunk of that time! I have to say I was quite surprised with who the one murderer was - I definitely did not see that coming at all!

The stories itself were quite interesting with characters that were both really likeable as well as a few that got on my nerves. The four grads now women all had their own reasons for killing Betsey Powell and as their stories as told, it's easy to want to think they each did it. But, as the true story-teller she is, MHC gives us enough red herrings that it's hard to guess the identity of the actual murderer until the very end. The other story is flushed out almost from the beginning - we know who the murderer is, we just don't know why he's targeting Laurie's family and what his next steps will be. This alone adds even more tension and suspense.

As I said in the beginning of this review, it's been a while since I've picked up a MHC book, but it won't be long before I pick up another one. If you're a fan of hers, what would you suggest I start read next?


Audio Thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Jan Maxwell narrate a book and I enjoyed listening to her tell this story. I don't know if she does all of MHC's books, but I surely wouldn't mind if she did. She was able to give each of the characters their own unique voices, infusing just the right amount of tension into her voice when needed.


*** Devourer of Books hosts Sound Bytes  - a monthly link-up to share the audio books that everyone is listening to. Stop by and you just might find your next audio book!

 

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Sunday Post #21 (4.27.14)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.
   
I've decided to try a new weekly meme - a place where I can do both a weekly wrap up and share what books I get all in one post, so I'm going to give The Sunday Post a try, and also link up with Sheila's It's Monday Post over at Book Journey.  

This past weekend, my brother got married - he was the last of us to tie the knot!. I drove down to Georgia from New York on Thursday and then headed back home on Sunday, so while it was a short trip, it was great seeing all my family. Having six siblings that live all over the east coast and one in London, it's hard to get us all together often, but when we do, it's great fun! 



Here's a picture of me and my siblings - while I am the oldest, I also happen to be the shortest - even with my heels! (I'm in the pink dress.) There is 9.5 years between me and the youngest, who is my sister standing right next to me. The groom is the second youngest.


Have a great week everyone!!!

*****************************************************************************************
Last week on the Blog:  

* Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon
* Review: The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen  
* Short & Sweet Review: A Custom-Fit Crime by Melissa Bourbon  
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in Apr 25, 2014  
* Blog Tour & Review: A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon

Books Read:
* A Custom-Fit Crime by Melissa Bourbon (mine)
* A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon (review book)  
* The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler (audio book)  
* I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark (review audio book)  
* The Lost Husband by Katherine Center (audio book)      

Currently Reading:  
* The Cottage on Juniper Ridge by Sheila Roberts (review e-book) 
* Island Girls by Nancy Thayer (library audio book)

Books Up Next:  
* Up At Butternut Lake by Mary McNear (review book)  
* Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes (review e-book)

Recent Giveaway Winners:    
* The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank...Elisabeth

Current Giveaways:  
* When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon...1 copy. Ends 4.28.14

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler
* Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd  
* Review: Ive Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark
* Review: One Perfect Night by Bella Andre


Book Haul:    
For Review:  
* Eyes on You by Kate White (courtesy of publisher)  
* The Promise by Robyn Carr (Netgalley)
* Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan (Netgalley)
 Purchased:  

* The Lost Husband by Katherine Center (audio book via Audible credit)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blog Tour & Review: A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon

Title: A Killing Notion   
Author: Melissa Bourbon     
Series: A Magical Dressmaking Mystery, #5     
Published: April 2014, Signet  
Format: ARC e-book, 320 pages   
Source: Netgalley via Pump Up Your Book


Harlow Jane Cassidy is swamped with homecoming couture requests. If only she didn’t have to help solve a murder, she might get the gowns off the dress forms....  

Harlow is doing everything she can to expand her dressmaking business, Buttons & Bows—without letting clients know about her secret charm. When she has a chance to create homecoming dresses with a local charity and handmade mums for several high school girls—including Gracie, whose father, Will, has mended Harlow’s heart—she is ready to use her magical talents for a great cause.

But when Gracie’s date for the dance is accused of murder, Harlow knows things won’t be back on course until she helps Gracie clear the football player’s name. If Harlow can’t patch up this mess before the big game, her business and her love life might be permanently benched.

My thoughts: I really like this series. I find myself flying through the pages, engulfed in the story and most times I am unable to figure out who-dun-it! This time, there was quite the twist thrown in - a twist that I had guessed might be going on - that added a nice layer to a really good mystery. But unfortunately, I didn't figure out who the actually killer was...oh well.

I just love the idea of dressmaking and how Melissa Bourbon is able to tie in the different themes to all her books. In this latest installment, the book is centered around homecoming and so Harlow Jane is helping the local high school girls with their dresses and their mums - a tradition of the town. I actually found this to be quite fascinating, how each girl would decorate their mum with bits and pieces of themselves. How I would love to have actually seen a real picture of one!

I love that Harlow Jane's leading man, Will, has really come to believe in her gifts - not only her "magical" gifts, but also her newly acquired gifts of solving these murders that she happens upon. While he was reluctant at first to have her involved in helping with these cases, now that this case involves her daughter's boyfriend, he not only wants her to help, he uses "we" when talking about whatever needs to be done! How sweet is that!

I have loved watching their romance blossom in this series and this is why I really like to read series in order - to see the character development happen chronologically. The cases and murders don't rely on each other from book to book, but the character development surely does!  I really can't wait for the next installment of this series - this is quickly becoming one of my favorite cozy mystery series!!!



Books in this series:
  1. Pleating for Mercy
  2. A Fitting End 
  3. Deadly Patterns
  4. A Custom Fit Crime 
  5. A Killing Notion


A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon is on tour with Pump up Your Book Book Tours. Be sure to check out the other tour stops to read more reviews, guest posts and interviews. 

 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in April 25, 2014

 

This week didn't go quite as planned. I woke up Monday morning feeling as if I was coming down with a cold and with my brother's wedding this weekend, I decided I take it easy this week - just do some easy walks with the dogs and get lots of rest.

 

Here's how my week went:  

Apr 19:  rest 
Apr 20:  rest
Apr 21:  30 minutes
Apr 22:  30 minutes 

Apr 23:  30 minutes
Apr 24:  rest - in car all day

Apr 25:  * will get in my 30 min
 

How did your week go?

Short & Sweet Review: A Custom-Fit Crime by Melissa Bourbon

Title: A Custom-Fit Crime   
Author: Melissa Bourbon    
Series: A Magical Dressmaking Mystery, #4     
Published:  July 2013, Signet  
Format: Paperback, 300 pages    
Source: Personal copy   

After a year of hard work in her Texas hometown, Harlow Jane Cassidy’s dreams are finally within reach—if she can just get it all done in time…

Harlow’s designs will be featured in a big magazine spread, but she only has a few days to finalize her collection. Plus she’s busy helping to plan her mother’s upcoming wedding, playing host to her old friend Orphie, and avoiding a competitive Dallas designer set on stealing Harlow’s ideas. Harlow’s making it all work—until someone breaks into Buttons & Bows and the rival designer is found dead.

But when a near miss makes it clear that Orphie could be the next victim, Harlow will have to untangle the threads of evidence if she wants to save her friend, her mother’s wedding, and her business from becoming fashion road kill…

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: While I liked the added dimension of the two designers and the models to this installment, what really stole the show for me was the storyline of the upcoming wedding of Harlow Jane's mother and the sheriff. From the description of the dress to the fact that Harlow Jane would soon to step-siblings to her least favorite deputy, I was in stitches! As far as the murder goes, I was able to guess the killer, but the red herrings did have me questioning myself a few times. A good installment, but not quite my favorite.



Books in this series:
  1. Pleating for Mercy
  2. A Fitting End 
  3. Deadly Patterns
  4. A Custom Fit Crime 
  5. A Killing Notion

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen (audio)

Title: The Wishing Thread   
Author: Lisa Van Allen    
Narrator: Amy Rubinate   
Published:  April 2014, Tantor Media 
Length: 11 hours, 3 minutes  
Source: Personal copy via audible 

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book - it was a light tale that just seemed to pull me in right from the beginning. Maybe because it was a tale about sisters or maybe because the setting is so close to where I live, but I felt that I could relate to this book. I also found that the magic that was woven throughout the storyline was so cleverly used that it never once felt contrived - much like Sarah Addison Allen's books are and you know I'm a huge fan of her books! 

I loved that while a big part of this book focused on Aubrey, we did get to "know" all Van Ripper sisters and find out what really pulled them apart. Coming together after the death of their aunt, they learn a lot about each other and just how far they are willing to go in the name of love. 

While I am not a knitter, instead I crochet, I could appreciate the tidbits about knitting and the magic that comes from having that handmade item. Of course, items that comes from The Stitchery go one step further by actually knitting people's wishes into the items, but when we hand-make a blanket or scarf for someone in whatever medium we use, don't we make it with our own version of that - our best hopes and wishes for the recipient? Couldn't that at some level be considered the same thing?

I found this magical tale to be a great story. It was so easy to get totally wrapped up in the story and not want to put it down. I can't wait to see what Lisa Van Allen writes next!


Audio Thoughts: This is the first book I've listened to that Amy Rubinate has narrated and I really enjoyed listening to her. She was able to create unique characters and give this book just the right touch of whimsy I think it needed. I am looking forward to listening to more of her work.


*** Devourer of Books hosts Sound Bytes  - a monthly link-up to share the audio books that everyone is listening to. Stop by and you just might find your next audio book!

 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon (CLOSED)

Title: When the Cypress Whispers   
Author: Yvette Manessis Corporon     
Published: April 2014, Harper  
Format: ARC Paperback, 356 pages   
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours  


On a beautiful Greek island, myths, magic, and a colorful cast of characters come together in a lushly atmospheric story about past and present, family and fate, love and dreams that poignantly captures the deep bond between an American woman and her Greek grandmother

The daughter of Greek immigrants, Daphne aspires to the American Dream, yet feels as if she's been sleepwalking through life. Caught between her family's old-world traditions and the demands of a modern career, she cannot seem to find her place.

Only her beloved grandmother on Erikousa, a magical island off the coast of Greece, knows her heart. Daphne's fondest memories are of times spent in the kitchen with Yia-yia, cooking and learning about the ancient myths. It was the thought of Yia-yia that consoled Daphne in the wake of her husband's unexpected death.

After years of struggling to raise her child and pay the bills, Daphne now has a successful restaurant, a growing reputation as a chef, and a wealthy fianc?-everything she's ever wanted. But across the ocean, Yia-yia can see through the storybook perfection of Daphne's new life- and now she is calling her back to Erikousa. She has secrets about the past to share with her granddaughter- stories from the war, of loyalty and bravery in the face of death. She also has one last lesson to teach her: that security is not love, and that her life can be filled with meaning again.

My thoughts:  This is a beautiful story about a young woman and the bond she shares with her grandmother. Having a strong bond with my own grandmother, I was pulled into the story and had a hard time putting the book down once I started it.

Daphne has not had an easy life. She has faced many tragedies in her young life and so she becomes almost solely focused on making a good life for her and her daughter, forgetting about the world around her. She doesn't take the time to enjoy life, to enjoy spending time with her daughter doing fun things, sharing things with her. It's not until they head to Erikousa and Daphne's Yia-yia's for her upcoming wedding, that she starts to realize just how much she has let pass her by. 

I loved Yia-yia and her stories. I admit that I am not all that familiar with the Greek myths, but did enjoy reading about the stories that Yia-yia would tell. It kind of makes me want to read up on some of the the Greek mythology! I loved the way Yvette Manessis Corporan was able to take the myths and draw them into the her storytelling - it never once felt forced but rather seemed perfectly blended.

There is much love and heartbreak in this novel. Secrets are revealed, history is shared and food is made - delicious, mouth-watering meals that seem to be the staple of any family. And the descriptions of the setting made it feel as if I were right there in Greece alongside Daphne myself - a place I hope to get to one of the days!!!

I look forward to seeing what else Yvette Manessis Corporon writes, as this one was definitely an enjoyable read.


About the author: Yvette Manessis Corporon is an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer, and author. She is currently a senior producer with the syndicated entertainment news show Extra. In addition to her Emmy Award, Yvette has received a Silurian Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the New York City Comptroller and City Council’s Award for Greek Heritage and Culture. She is married to award-winning photojournalist David Corporon. They have two children and live in New York.
 
Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   



 
To see who else is participating in Yvette Manessis Corporon's When the Cypress Whispers tour, click here.




GIVEAWAY DETAILS - CLOSED (US/Can only)   
Thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours I have one copy of When the Cypress Whispers to give away to my readers.  


To enter…
  • Leave a comment below & be sure to include your email address.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
  • You MUST include email address or entry will be invalid.
  • I will contact winner at the conclusion of the giveaway & they will have 2 days to respond or I will pick a new winner.
This giveaway is open to US/Can residents only and ends April 28th.
  

Good luck!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Sunday Post #20 (4.20.14)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.   

I've decided to try a new weekly meme - a place where I can do both a weekly wrap up and share what books I get all in one post, so I'm going to give The Sunday Post a try, and also link up with Sheila's It's Monday Post over at Book Journey.  


For those that celebrate, Happy Easter!!! My hubby and I are having a quiet weekend. He's busy getting his new boat, a mini transat, ready to put in the water - the long winter has delayed everything. That's actually fine with me, as I could really use the quiet weekend. Between being away last week at my dad's and then heading out of town again next weekend for my brother's wedding, I'm using this quiet weekend to catch up on everything from cleaning my house to blog stuff!!!

Have a great week everyone!!!

*****************************************************************************************
Last week on the Blog:  

* Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
* Review: Queen Elizabeth I: A Very Brief History by Mark Black
* Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in Apr 11, 2014
* Short & Sweet Review: Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon

Books Read:
* Just One Kiss by Susan Mallery (library book)
* Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon (library book)
* Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green (library audio book)
* The Wishing Thread by Melissa Bourbon (audio book)
* When The Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon (review book)
   
Currently Reading:
* A Custom-Fit Crime by Melissa Bourbon (mine) 
* The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler (audio book)

Books Up Next:
* A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon (review e-book)
* I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark (audio review book)
* Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber (library book)

Recent Giveaway Winners:  
* The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson (plus Andrea Schroder candle)...Melanie Backus
* Dash of Peril by Lori Foster...Lindab

Current Giveaways:  
* The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank...1 copy. Ends 4.21.14

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon (with giveaway!!!)
* Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
* Review: The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen
* Review: A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon

 

Book Haul:  
For Review:  
* When We Met by Susan Mallery (Netgalley)
* The Marriage Pact by Linda Lael Miller (Netgalley)
* The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell (courtesy of publisher)
* I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark (courtesy of publisher)
* Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes (Netgalley)
 Purchased:  
* The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler (audio book via Audible credit)
* A Custom-Fit Crime by Melissa Bourbon
* The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
* A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford (a signed copy!!!)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Short & Sweet Review: Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon

Title: Deadly Patterns   
Author: Melissa Bourbon     
Series: A Magical Dressmaking Mystery, #3
Published: October 2012, Signet   
Format: Paperback, 297 pages    
Source: Library  

Bliss, Texas, is gearing up for its annual Winter Wonderland festival, but when a mysterious Scrooge ends the merriment with murder, it'll take more than a ghost from Christmas past to set things right.

Designing a holiday fashion show set in the town's most prominent historic mansion seems like a job tailor made for dressmaker Harlow Jane Cassidy. But with the mansion's restoration still in progress and threatening weather on the horizon, she's feeling on pins and needles more than reveling in holiday cheer.

Having volunteered to play Santa in this year's festival, Dan Lee Chrisson was ready to move on after his divorce--until Bliss became his final resting place. Discovering his body puts Harlow at the scene of the crime. She'll need plenty of help from friends and even her late great-grandmother's spirited sleuthing if she's to have a ghost of a chance of catching a killer who's just jumped to the top of the naughty list....

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: I really enjoy this cozy mystery series. The magic is light, the characters are quirky and fun, and the mystery is engaging with just enough red herrings to keep you guessing right up until the end. Harlow Jane's romance with Will is heating up and she has to decide whether or not to bring him into the fold - can he be trusted with her "gift" and the secrets of her family? And speaking of secrets, yet more secrets are revealed in this installment, including some new additions to Harlow Jane's family tree. 


Books in this series:
  1. Pleating for Mercy
  2. A Fitting End 
  3. Deadly Patterns
  4. A Custom Fit Crime

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in April 18, 2014

 

I'm back home after a week up at my dad's and the weather was all over the place...it was warm, rainy and we even had a little snow! We've had frost warnings the last two mornings...I thought it was Spring but I think Mother Nature is a bit confused! 


Anyway, the dogs and I have been enjoying taking lots of walks each day - it's really helping to get those steps in! I have a fitbit and wear it all day long. I do my "fitness" walk in the morning, which is what I track below, but I have another goal - to get 10,000 steps in 5 days a week and on my off days, to try to get at least 5,000 steps. (And this week it looks like I'm target to hit that goal!) Do you have a fitbit? If so, and you're looking for friends, let me know! I love the motivation of that leader board!!!
 

Here's how my week went:  

Apr 12:  rest 
Apr 13:  rest
Apr 14:  45 minutes
Apr 15:  45 minutes 

Apr 16:  45 minutes
Apr 17:  45 minutes 

Apr 18:  45 minutes
 

How did your week go?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry    
Author: Gabrielle Zevin         
Published: April 2014, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill  
Format: ARC Paperback, 230 pages   
Source: Publisher/She Reads  


In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin's enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books-and booksellers-that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

My thoughts: Every once in a while, you read a book that you just love so much, it's hard to put into words. That's this book. I am so glad that the powers-that-be over at She Reads picked this for our April Book Club Selection - I had never heard of Gabrielle Zevin before, but she is definitely on my radar now.

This book is about a bookseller and his love of books. I loved A.J. - he's a quirky, unique character that just wormed his way into my heart. From the first pages of the book, I was hooked and couldn't put this book down. There was something so endearing about A.J., he's the type of character that stays with you long after you finish the book. I also loved the other characters, too, especially Amelia, Maya and Lambiase. Such an interesting cast of characters make up this book!

There are relationships forged in A.J.'s bookshop that change lives. It's a sweet, charming story that will at times have you laughing and at times have you shedding a few tears. It's about love, second chances and of course, a love of reading.

I've always had a pipe dream of opening my own bookstore and if I ever do, I hope that I have one like Island Books - one that encourages people to read, where people who previously shied away from books start running to the bookstore when new books are released, where the shop becomes a cool place to hang out, where authors love to come visit. This book gives me the hope that maybe one day my dream can become a reality!

This book is definitely a keeper - I certainly foresee myself rereading it many times. It's also a book that will be at the top of my book recommendation list when friends or family ask what to read next!




The April Book Club Selection from She Reads is The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Head over to the She Reads website to read other reviews and related posts as well as a chance to win a copy of the book.


    


 

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