In The Midst of Winter, Isabel Allende

in the midst of winte3rspolier alertTitle: In The Midst of Winter

Author: Isabel Allende

Pages: 304

Genre: historical fiction, contemporary fiction

Is this part of a series?  No

Publish date: October 31st, 2017

Summary:

        A severe snow storm in Brooklyn makes for unlikely friendships and love when three people- two women, both immigrants, and a dour professor are thrown together by chance.  They tell their stories as time and situation keep them together.  A story filled with pain, but also compassion; guilt and forgiveness.  Two people, in the winter of their lives, will find a love that could complete them.

My Thoughts:

I have loved Allende ever since I first read Eva Luna when I was fifteen.  This is still what I consider to be the gold star for magical realism.  With her way with descriptions and her beautiful characters, she can get me out of myself better than any other author.   I now own the book in paper (my eighth copy) and eBook…. and I eagerly await an audible edition (in English please).  When I saw that Netgally and Atria books was offering her newest novel…. well, I had to have it.  Many thanks guys, please know that  I will be buying the audible edition for myself and at least one hard back for Christmas presents.

Now, this book was spectacular to me because of the time she spent introducing each character- fanning them out and breathing life and pain into them.  Their stories broke my heart- Allende has a gift for making things real and terrifying with just a few words.  I feel that this is important, especially now when so many (POTUS) try to use immigrants- both legal and illegal- as scapegoats for issues that they don’t want to take a deeper look at.  Seeing the stories of where these women came from humanized the issues faced by so many- though hopefully not to this extent.  This is not a quick read for me- I had to take my time, breathe it in and take breaks; but it was worth it.  I loved this book so much!  Five stars!!! Five Stars   

On the adult scale, there’s a lot.  Violence, language, alcoholism, light sexual content, rape….. this is one that while I would let my niece read, there would be a discussion later- there are, after all, some very heavy hitting content.  I give it a seven.  Parental GuidanceI end this with a plea to Allende and publishers- make eBooks of the older books, please!  Your fans would buy them!!!

The book is out on Halloween- go get it!!!!!

Link to book:

Amazon

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13 Minutes, Sarah Pinborough

13 minutesspolier alertTitle:  13 Minutes

Author: Sarah Pinborough

Pages: 406

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller

Is this part of a series?  No.

Published: (Kindle Edition) October 3rd, 2017

 

  Summary from Goodreads:  

 

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

My thoughts:

The premise alone had me jumping for the chance when I saw this book on Netgalley.  It sounded amazing!  Sadly, for me it had issues.  Mostly I think I just hated most of the characters and clichés.  You had the three Barbies- Jenny, Hailey, and their leader Natasha. When Tasha is discovered in a freezing river one morning, she is dead for 13 minutes.  Upon being revived she can’t remember how she got there or why.

Pulling on the heartstrings and insecurities of Becca, the once BFF that was thrown over for not fitting the image she wanted to project at school, she convinces her to play the other Barbies.  Convinced that Hailey and Jenny meant to hurt Tasha, Becca will do anything to help her old friend prove it- when her boyfriend becomes entangled in the investigation, she is only more determined.  The mystery, and Tasha, consumes her to the point that she pushes away her true friend Hannah.

It was hard to get past all the stereotypes- the “mean” popular girls, the insecure loner that longs for her old life, and the mousy doormat that wants to please everyone.  Now, Tasha and Becca, sharing the narrative of the book, are a bit better fleshed out, but it wasn’t great in my opinion.  None of the characters were likeable and I simply couldn’t feel for Tasha.  The plot and writing style were great, I loved how the author divided the narrative so that you not only got insight into the girls but news clips and pieces from Detective Bennet.  I felt like the plot was great, though there were parts that were, as I said, just a bit cliché.  Between that and the characters this is a three star book for me… barely.  Three Stars

On the adult content scale, there is sexual content, drug use, language and some violence.  I would consider this for older teens 16 and up.  Parental Guidance

The book is out- have you read it?

Link to book

Amazon

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Hunting Prince Dracula, Kerri Maniscalco

hunting prince draculaTitle: Hunting Prince Dracula

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Pages: 418

Genre: YA, Mystery,

Is this part of a series?  Yes.  This is book two of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series.  Read book one first.

Published: September 19th, 2017

 

Just months after the case that broke her heart, Audrey Rose is traveling through Romania on the way to a forensic academy that just happens to be in Dracula’s old castle.  With Thomas by her side and the sleepiest chaperone ever, Audrey is ready for a change.  Nightmares have plagued her, and she’s been seeing things that weren’t there.  Her deepest fear is that she can no longer do the forensic work she loves- what is she without that?

When a man is killed outside her train car, Audrey must try to set everything aside.  Staked through the heart, this is made to look like a vampire killing.  Rumors and lore hold sway here, and it is believed that Dracula is back draining his victims of blood and creating more like him.  Then there’s the order of the dragon, on a mission to protect, that would kill that way.

At the academy more bodies come up- all drained of blood with a “vampire bite” as the only clue.  Vampires don’t exist, right?  So who is trying to prey on the locals’ belief in these tales to cover their tracks?  Or is Vlad Dracula really back from the dead?

Through all this Audrey and Thomas are trying to figure out their own relationship and boundaries.  When Thomas goes too far trying to protect the girl he loves, Audrey is furious.  Can they have a future together?  Does she even want one with any man?

I was so excited about this book.  While I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper, there were small issues with it.  I felt like our Audrey was a bit cliché sometimes, even while the author tried to make her very different from the other girls of that time.  I was eager to see if Audrey grew more into herself here, and she did.  We also saw more of Thomas- bumbling at times without his bravado, touchable and able to be hurt.  This story brought more of his past and family life into view and I appreciated that.

The mystery was interesting, a unique take on the old stories like we saw in book one.  I loved watching them go through everything, and the fact that it wasn’t always easy for them.  The characters are great and I really like the story lines.  This is a four star book for me.  Four Stars

On the adult content scale, there is violence and some racy thoughts and conversations…. nothing over the top.  I would give it to a young teen.  This is maybe a three.

The book is out now, have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

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Mini reviews- Magical Cat Mysteries by Sofie Kelly, books 1-3

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Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (book 1): Kathleen has just come to town, still heart broken from a failed relationship and toting two new cats that found her at Wisteria House, to ready the library for it’s centennial.  There are renovations to do, and new friends to meet… not to mention that it seems Own and Hercules may not be run of the mill.  Hercules can walk through doors and Owen can disappear.    When Kathleen finds a body at the theatre while trying to find her handyman, she is brought into close proximity with cute-but-annoying Detective Marcus Gordon.  As the two fight back and forth, she also has to deal with a contractor that is never there and mysterious accidents all over the library.  It’s almost like someone doesn’t want her finishing the renovations….

I got the 8th book in this series as an ARC earlier and hadn’t realized it was part of a series.  I fell madly in love with the characters- especially the dynamic cats.  There’s something sweet and funny about these townspeople- each one unique and well developed.  I had to have the beginning of the series!  The first book was supposed to be a palate cleanser after a deep historical fiction that wrenched my emotions.  I ended up obsessed and quickly bought book two.  While this is what I call a cozy mystery, there’s still a lot of action.  It’s a quick fun read that just makes you feel good.  Five stars!Five Stars

Sleight of Paw (book 2): When Agatha Sheppard is found dead the town is in an uproar. She touched so many lives that no one can understand who would want to hurt her.  There are a lot of secrets in this small town though, and it seems to Kathleen that some of them may hold the answers she needs.  When her friend Ruby becomes a suspect, all bets are off.  Kathleen and her furry sleuths are on the hunt for the real killer!

This book was fantastic!  I especially loved it because it gave me a deeper insight into several of my favorite characters.  I loved the interaction between the girls and between Marcus and Kathleen.  There was a lot of great, funny moments; but there was a lot of serious moments too. Really the book was just a great, quick read.  Five Stars

Copycat Killing (book 3):  On a trip to Wisteria House to check on the feral cat colony Kathleen literally uncovers human remains.  Who are they?  Roma thinks she knows…. but how did it happen?  What were they doing there?  Kathleen and her boys want answers!  As if that weren’t enough excitement for a small town, she and Maggie check on the artist’s building to check for flooding and find a body.  Jagger Merril, the least liked artist in the colony, is in the locked basement dead in water.  What was he doing there?  How did he get in?  Why would someone want to kill him- unlikeable or not?  As they search for answers they find more and more questions.   Jagger Merril was not all that he seemed…. and may have been at the co-op for less than savory reasons.

I really liked this book.  I got to learn more about Roma, whom I adore as a character.  We got more back story into the lives of Mayville and, since Kathleen was looking into police areas, more time with Marcus.  This relationship is  moving glacially slow, but it is very believable for me, and very sweet.  The more time I spend with those cats the more I love them.  What started as a “palate chaser” series is quickly becoming a favorite.  I love the mystery aspect, but I really love the characters.  Five stars!  Five Stars

On the adult content, there are some slightly racy jokes, and some violence, but everything is very mild.  I would give it a three.  General.svg

The books are out, have you read them?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Where have I been?!?!

busy busy6Guys!  I am so sorry about the radio silence here!  I have tried to keep up with the posts of those I love and active in the community, but it feels like forever since I posted an update myself.

The end of August was a lot of fun for me, but also very stressful.  My husband had known forever that we were going to take a mini vacation and see the solar eclipse in all it’s glory.  He just didn’t know where.  Because he could not guarantee clear skies and good weather ahead of time he decided we would not be booking a hotel room, but actually decide where we were going (ie he would decide where we were going) the night before we left.   I begged and pleaded but to no avail.  Due to the amount of people that also wanted to see the eclipse I figured this meant I would be sleeping in a car for at least one night if not two.  Luckily he chose the St. Louis area where I had O’hana.  My beautiful and gracious cousin Kim loaned us the use of her house at the last minute while she was in Tennessee.   It was amazing!  Also, because of her kindness my husband was able to strike something off his bucket list- a helicopter tour of St.  Louis.  Pics will follow, but he has the best ones.  If you are ever in St.  Louis, MO. see as many museums as possible.  Most are free save parking, and they are exceptional.   We saw The Science Centerzoothe museum of fine arts, and the botanical garden (there is a charge here, but worth it).  I actually want to do a post that is just all the pics we took on our “skycation”, but have to get the ones Warren took and find out if I am allowed to post pictures of art from the museum- not sure of copyright law there.

Once home I was happy but exhausted and had fallen out of my routine for gym/walks.  We walked more in St.  Louis than probably ever, but I hadn’t had to wake up early and make plans around it.  This month has seen a large drop in basically all my health goals due to the “normal” illness and catching a bug later.  I am ashamed to say that I will not be making my gym goals, and will start fresh next month.  Happily I am not gaining weight, but I am not really loosing either and need to get back on track with exercise.

My birthday was the 19th and I am now 35.  Warren got me a little mp3 player for audio books ( currently listening to Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich), and an amazon card for added book funds.  Ulta, bless them, sent me a coupon for a nine color eyeshadow palate (free!).  Mom and Dad got me a bowling ball and shoes (I suck at bowling, but enjoy the weekly hang out and permission to eat pizza with the O’hana), as well as a wooden pendant made by a local artist The Wooden Doerr.  It was a lot of fun!

Now I am reading Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco and enjoying it immensely!  I am excited to get back to my normal routine and keep up with my healthy living goals.  I missed you guys!

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The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane, Ellen Berry

the little bakery on rosemary laneTitle: The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane

Author: Ellen Berry

Pages: 368 pages

Genre: cozy romance

Is this part of a series?  Yes, book two of the Rosemary Lane series.

Published: September 7th, 2017

 

Roxanne Cartwright has it all- the high-power job at a fashion magazine, a boyfriend she adores and a flat in London…. Until it all starts to unravel.  Heartbroken, she returns to her hometown and her sister.  Burly Bridge is not as she remembers.  Della’s gorgeous cookbook shop (see The Little Bookshop on Rosemary Lane) has breathed new life into the town.  Now there are tourists, boutiques, a greengrocer and an adorable bakery-with the handsome Michael at it’s head.  The longer she is here, the more she loves it, and begins to question her life in London.  Can the fast-paced fashionista find peace in the country?

My thanks to Netgalley and Avon publishers for allowing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I loved the first book of the series, and being able to get a better look at Roxanne was great.   I loved her, craziness and insecurity and all.  These are rich, charming characters that make you long for Burly Bridge.  While not always fast paced, it never seemed to drag, and the descriptions of the places were charming.  Like any book, it isn’t without it’s faults.  I often got annoyed at her interactions with Sean.  I understand that for this was necessary for the story, but I hated their relationship.  Even still, this is a four star book for me.

On the adult content scale, it has a bit of language and sexual content though neither are at all explicit.  I would not worry about age here.  This is maybe a three.General.svgFour Stars

The book is out, have you read it yet?

Link to book

Amazon

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The Future She Left Behind, Marin Thomas

the future she left behind.

Title: The Future She Left Behind

Author:  Marin Thomas

Pages:352

Genre: women’s lit, contemporary

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish Date: September 5th, 2017

Delivered divorce papers by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler wants to pack up and head home to Little Springs, Texas.  She wants to reconnect with her mom, rediscover her art, and heal in the pleasant town.

There’s just one problem… Shirly Pratt, Katelyn’s mother-in-law, is not ready to give up the only one that has cared for her in three years.  Hijacking the road trip, she goes along to Texas all the while acting her domineering, manipulative self.  As Katelyn finds herself again she has to face some hard truths and decide where her life is headed.  The reappearance of her ex-boyfriend Jackson Mendoza doesn’t make things any easier as old feelings come back and she finds the new, more mature Jackson even more attractive.  This is one woman’s quest for peace, happiness, and a future forward.

My thanks to First to Read for an eARC of this book.  There was a lot I liked about this book.  For the most part it was a sweet, fast read with an interesting premise and fantastic characters.  On the other hand, I sometimes felt like  I was being beaten over the head with things that got repeated perhaps too often.  The mothers are polar opposites, I got that the first twelve times…. After a while it detracted from my enjoyment.   I liked that Jackson was imperfect, fighting with his view of himself, being a recovering alcoholic, and trying to forge a relationship with the mother that left him and his father.  He was an honestly good man that wanted the best for everyone else and I could not help but love him for that.  All in all, I found the book enjoyable and would recommend it.   Four stars!  Four Stars

On the Adult Content Scale, there’s some language and sexual content.  I would give it a five.  Parental Guidance

The book comes out 9-5-17.  Go check it out!

Link to book:

amazon