Sunday, 31 January 2016

Sunday Tea


Every day is great for tea and books...but Sundays are meant for lingering over books and tea.  On the days I don't work they are great for lingering over books and getting out the tea pot.  Today being sick and not super focused I caught up on some TV.  Sundays are great for writing whatever I like so there is no set weekly feature other than there will be something posted.  I will start this nest week when I can get my mind back.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Saturday: Day of Rest


On Saturdays when I am not with my boyfriend I am usually catching up on reading (or on some TV series I watch alone).  I may still do a post on a Saturday but in case I don't you know where I am:


k (My Novelesque Life)

Fabulous Feature Friday


Introducing another new weekly feature - Feature Friday. On Fridays I will be featuring authors, books, lists, book news, any interviews with authors and also an occasion guest reviews.   I was hoping to start this feature today but I had a late night (so worth it as I heard some fabulous news).  Next week's post will feature a dear beloved author that has been a favourite for years! Stay tuned.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Friday, 29 January 2016

TBT: Memory Lane


Cover I remember!
For today's Throwback Thursday I will be taking a trip down My Novelesque Life memory lane.  Tonight at work we had a troop of Brownies visit the children's section of the library.  They were so excited to read the books they would pick out.  Their excitement was really infectious.  I remember when I was in Brownies, many moons ago, I too went with my troop to visit a library.  Honestly, I could have cared less about the tour as I already knew every crook and cranny in that library.  I was ready to pick out my books and start to read them (I was told I could only check out two books and would have to come back with my parents - harrumph!).  I sometimes get flashes of when I was a kid going through all the books and finding one that I had not read yet.  I would take my time looking and my parents never rushed me as they probably knew that would not get me moving any faster, lol.

Loved these covers.
Last week when I was manning the desk in the Children's section a young girl - just in her teens - came over and asked for help.  She has read everything that she can think of and was wondering if I had any suggestions. I recognized her from when I check out her books as she always takes out a whole bagful of books.  I took a moment and smiled as my heart warmed to this girl.  I spent the next 30 minutes going through the section and discussing books with her (and we did find her plenty of books to read and a few new ones on hold).
Only one of my favourites!

I was like that as a kid - taking out a bagful of books. I read most of them too.  I also did a lot of rereading.  From my elementary school days I remember taking out Freaky Friday, every Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary books they owned multiple times.  Picking up any of those books now brings back good memories. (and sometimes bad ones but usually reading a book would take me away from the horrible stuff) I remember when I discovered John Bellairs and had to get every book I could...(sorry lost in thought for a moment).  I think that is one of the reasons I still enjoy reading children's books - especially if that author is still writing.  Last year I saw a new book by Mary Downing Hahn - who was one of my favourite authors as she wrote suspense, horror, historical, and contemporary fiction- Took and I HAD to try it....she still has it...that magic that transforms it's reader no matter the age to another time and place.

As part of this feature I may reread some of my favourite books and authors as a kid and write a review of why I first picked it up and how it holds up years (decades) later!

k (My Novelesque Life)

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

101th Post: New Weekly Feature and Review!

WOOING WEDNESDAY


For my 101th post I am introducing a new weekly feature...Wooing Wednesday, for everything romance - contemporary, historical, suspense, classics, young adult, etc.

For my first Wooing Wednesday post I will be reviewing a novel that I have read at least twice (so far) and was written by one of my favourite authors.  This is not the first romance I ever read but it is one of my favourites as it has humour and a dashing hero that banters without too much brooding.

One of the million different covers.
EMMA
Written by Jane Austen 
1815, 474 Pages (Penguin Classics 2003 version)
Genre: classic, romance, humour

Rating: ★★★★★

Emma's father, Mr. Wodehouse, wishes people would stop getting married and disrupting his life.  Hasn't he been a good man and good father? First his eldest daughter gets married and moves away.  Now Emma's companion and governess, Miss. Taylor has married a widower l(Mr. Weston) leaving Emma too much time to think.  Emma fancies herself a matchmaker, after all she was the one to set up Miss. Taylor and Mr. Weston, and wonders who else she can match up.  Mr. Wodehouse tells her to keep things as they are as he cannot stand anymore disruptions. Mr. Knightly, her friend and brother-in-law, wisely advises her to not meddle in other people's lives, and just worry about herself.   Emma is not looking for a man of her own so sets about coupling off other people - whether they want it or not.

One of favourite lines from Emma.
This is one of my favourite Jane Austen books (so far) - mostly because of Mr. Knightly! Mr. Knightly is not the brooding hero that Mr. Darcy, Heathcliffe and Rochester are.  His banter with Emma is adorable because he knows her flaws and loves her because of them.  He knows she has a big heart and so when he does make sarcastic comments they come off more loving.  And, when Emma does mess up he straight up tells her.  Emma is lovable but is so nosy, sort of like a well-meaning but ditsy relative (Gwyneth Paltrow does a great job portraying this ditsy-ness in the Hollywood version). Mr. Wodehouse is freaking hilarious.  His comments had me laughing out loud.  He is kind of the male version of Mrs. Bennett but adverse to his daughters marrying.  There are some great secondary
A great romantic line!
characters like Harriet Smith, Mr. Elton and Miss. Bates that evoke different emotion as you read this novel.  It is a great romantic comedy from the 19th century.  A perfect read for the cold weather holed up in your warm house! (And, after you can watch a modern retelling Clueless)

Next Wooing Wednesday we will be looking at historical romance series Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt.  

k (My Novelesque Life)   




 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Toddlers, Tots and Teens: More than Just a Good Read



INSULTS AREN'T FUNNY: What to do About Verbal Bullying
Written by Amanda F. Doering 
Illustrated by Simone Shin 
2015; 24 Pages
Genre: picture book, children's, bullying

Ratings: ★★1/2

I am not a parent but I feel that the issue of bullying should be on everyone's radar.  To stop bullying from escalating or moving from verbal to physical we as adult have to make ourselves present and approachable.  In this book we see poor Casey - who loves playing soccer - verbally insulted by fellow teammate Dana.  Dana picks on Casey over everything that goes wrong.  Casey soon not only starts to dislike the game but also feel fear.  A friend that sees this bullying instructs Casey to trust an adult and he goes to his coach.  This action that causes Dana to stop bullying him and Casey returns to the love of soccer.

I enjoyed the way that Doering tells the story but also educates us on what is happening and how to go about stopping someone else's behaviour.  This is a good book for adults and kids to sit down together to read.  



MAX AND MARLA
Written and Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
2015; 32 Pages
Genre: picture book, children's

Ratings: ★★★1/2

Max and his owl, Marla are determined to be Olympians and they prep their sled and go out to practice.  When they fail they brush themselves off and go back to the drawing board and get ready to go out again.

Drop Everything And Read!
Yes, I am owl obsessed but OMG what adorable pictures of Marla and Max! I really enjoyed this cute story with a big message.  We are so focuses on making children feel special and unique that we seem to be building them up for failure.  Yet, if we prep them for failure and how to keep going when things don't work out we send a greater message and prepare them for more (in my opinion).  I love how Max does not give up when things go wrong.  BUT love how this does not get him down at all.  He's disappointed but is quick to move on.  I recommend this book to everyone.  It is a feel good story that will cause anyone to have a better day!


I DON'T WANT TO BE A FROG
Written by Dev Petty
Illustrated by Mike Boldt
2015; 32 Pages
Genre: picture book, children's

Ratings: ★★★★1/2

Frog wants to be anybody, or anything, but a frog. "You think I like always being wet and cold?" asks Frog to his father.  His father asks what other animal would he be and has a ready answer for why he can't be that animal.  He points out Frog is a frog and can only be a frog.

A cute story about someone wanting to be someone else and having that discussion with his father.  It is a great way of showing how you need to accept who you are and they way you are.  I liked that it is not a "you are special" kind of book but has humour about acceptance of yourself rather than having others tell you are great. Great illustrations as well!

k (My Novelesque Life)

Mystery Monday: Whispers on Audiobook


Audio edition I listened to.
WHISPERS
Written by Lisa Jackson
Narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan
1996 (reissued Oct 2015), 416 Pages (16 Hours and 15 Minutes)
Genre: romance, mystery, suspense

★★

Miranda, Claire and Tessa have been summoned to their family home in Lake Arrowhead, Oregon where their father announces he is running for governor, and needs their cooperation.  Their father also hires an investigator to rifle through their family secrets to see what will hurt his campaign.  Kane Moran, now a reporter, has returned home to also expose family the candidate's secrets and what find out what really happened sixteen years ago.

Sixteen years ago - eldest daughter, Miranda is love with Hunter and is pregnant with his baby; Claire
is in love with Harley and they are engaged to be married; and Tessa has given her virginity to Weston who wants to sleep with all three of the sisters, especially Miranda.  Kendall is also in love with Harley, and is in cahoots with Weston to get Harley back.  Paige, Weston and Harley's sister, wants Harley to marry Kendall so she can have Kendall in her life.  Their parents are all having affairs with one another and not for love.  Then one night everything blows up when Harley is found dead and the three sisters were in a car accident - all on the same night.

Another Reissue.
Then we come back to the present (1996) where things s-l-o-w-l-y unfolds just how you think it would.  And, somehow the characters come together in a forced way to tie up loose ends.

This was one of those novels where I did not like a single character.  They were all selfish in their own way and not characters I would root for.  I did come to feel for Miranda and Tessa as their characters did grow and redeemed themselves (in my opinion).  They had the capacity to be strong heroines to carry the novel on their own.  I did not like Claire - or like how she turned out or find that she did anything to change my opinion on her.  And, of course, she is the heroine.  The one everyone wants to love or hate.  She has this big secret and every time the person she is keeping it from comes around, she ALWAYS has to mention that she has this secret from them, that they will hate her, and that she can't believe they haven't already
Recent Reissue.
figured it out. She also has a love interest (the hero who I also don't care for) where the "romance" seems to pop out of nowhere, as the chemistry between them is not really there.  We hear they are in love but don't really see it.  I enjoyed the narrator as she kept a good pace for a long drawn out story.  I felt like there was too much going on and we were in the past too much.  I didn't think we needed whole back story as it gave away the killer right away.  I felt for this reason their wasn't much suspense.  This book just didn't keep my interest.  I did finish it just because I was willing to stay with the story for the author's sake, and then got to a point where I had to finish or admit great defeat.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Quickie Poetry Review: The Road Not Taken


THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: FINDING AMERICA IN THE POEM EVERYONE LOVES AND ALMOST EVERYONE GETS WRONG
Written by David Orr
2015; 192 Pages
Genre: poetry, poets, biography

Rating: ★★★1/2

Last night I picked up David Orr's The Road Not Taken - a slim volume of Orr's look at Frost's most popular and beloved poem.  Orr divides the book looking at the Poet, the Poem, the Choice and the chooser.  He argues that while audiences love this poem they seem to have the meaning behind it incorrect.  Orr writes well and his arguments concise.  I read it in one sitting not because I am one of those people who have loved the poem (poet) and has been reading it incorrectly.  I recommend this to lovers of poetry and Frost.




k (My Novelesque Life)

Monday, 18 January 2016

Review: Dash of History, Culinary, Romance and Adventure



CINNAMON AND GUNPOWDER
Written by Eli Brown
2013, 318 Pages
Genre: fiction, adventure, cooking

★★★★1/2

When ruthless pirates take over his Master's house and murder him Chef Owen Wedgwood is kidnapped by their Captain, Mad Hannah Mabbot.  She loves luxury items and so spares Owen's life if he can make her extravagant meals once a week - never repeating a recipe. Wanting to stay alive he uses the crude materials around him to make his own masterpieces.

In between those Sunday meals, Owen looks for a way to flee the ship.  He starts to get to know all the major players on Mabbot's crew and that there are rules for being on a pirate ship.  Mabbot becomes obsessive in catching up to the infamous Brass Fox which seems to be her Achilles's heel .  As Owen attempts to make marvelous meals and form an escape plan he starts to also get close to Joshua, a deaf cabin-boy and he must rely on the scary Mr. Apples if he wants to live through this ordeal.

This novel (and author) was no where on my reading radar.  In  one of my Goodreads group (historical fiction group) our theme for our group read was Culinary History - to which this novel was nominated and won.  The cover had me intrigued from the beginning - a stunning red-headed pirate holding  chef hostage - what's not to like.  I started the novel and bam - I have just traveled to 1819 on a pirate ship with scrumptious meals.  I enjoyed not just the writing (humour and drama) but also the descriptions of the meals that Owen makes, the ship and how it runs, and the characters (you can imagine them right in front of you). The plot reminds me of an old adventure story like The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas) - a swashbuckling romp.  I highly recommend this novel to historical fiction readers, for sure!

k (My Novelesque Life)

Friday, 15 January 2016

The Mystery of Mary Rogers: Graphic Novel Review


THE MYSTERY OF MARY ROGERS
(Treasury of Victorian Murder)
Written and Illustrated by Rick Geary
2001, 81 Pages
Genre: graphic novel, true crime, mystery, suspense

Rating: ★★★★

I am not an expert in graphic novels but I do enjoy a great mystery...and even better it is  a true mystery.  At work I was checking in materials from patrons when the cover of this book caught my eye.  Without paying attention to the words I noticed that it had an old school Victorian feel to it which is a time period I enjoy (a great era for mystery and mayhem).   When the words came into focus it sounded like an old time radio episode.  Coincidentally, a friend and I had just been discussing graphic novels.  Her passion for them kind of made me envious...and I thought this would be a good way to test it all out.  I have tried the genre of graphic novels but nothing has really captured my interest.  This being a mystery and true crime I thought at least I would discover a new mystery.

The Mystery of Mary Rogers is only 80 pages and is in black and white which lends more mystique to the story set in New York.  Mary Rogers, a beautiful young lady, worked in a cigar shop and her charm drove men into the shop and wanting to be her suitor.  She never stayed long with one man and had her mother telling her to marry for money.  One day she went to her aunt's house and never returned home.  The next day her body is found in New Jersey - she was identified, autopsied, and already had a coroner's inquest and her body buried.  Adding to the mystery was the fact that her aunt was not expecting her visit and had not seen her that day, she was engaged but was looking to break it off, and she had sent a letter to her ex-suitor asking him to meet her but he ignored it. Both men claimed they did not see her after she departed from her house but both men went straight to the area where her body was found. No one was convicted for her murder but the press (and rumour mill) went crazy with the story.   Edgar Allan Poe heard about the case and wrote his own theory in a short story.  This case still has interest in the present day since it went unsolved.

Geary did a great job in telling the case of Mary Rogers. He started with the background and facts about Mary Rogers and then about the murder and consequent theories that arose from it all.  His illustrations are detailed of the time period. I enjoyed this graphic novel so much I want to try more in this series as well as some others.  Stay tuned in my adventures in graphic novels! Also, this mystery has me intrigued so I will be ready Poe's short story and another nonfiction book.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Toddlers, Tots and Teens II: Imaginary Friends




IMAGINARY FRED
Written by Eoin Colfer and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
2015; 48 Pages 
Genre: picture book, children's, fantasy

Rating: ★★★1/2

Fred is sent to earth to be friends with children that are lonely.  Once they start to make real friends Fred starts to fade until he disappears.  Then one day he meets Sam who is everything Fred wants in a friend but he is terrified that he will start fade.  Sam tells Fred he will always be his friend.  One day Sam meets Sammie and Fred's fear returns.  Can Fred remain Sam's friend forever even if he has a real friend now?

Being an only child I knew loneliness and found the cure with my own imaginary friends.  This is an incredibly wonderful story told from both sides of friendship.  I really enjoyed the pictures and found that they just went well with the book.  I recommend this one to adults as well as children.  Like a good Pixar movie this is a book the whole family can enjoy.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Toddlers, Tots and Teens: The Bus Ride



THE BUS RIDE
Written and Illustrated by Marianna Dubuc
2015; 40 Pages
Genre: children's, picture book


Rating: ★★★

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

I really enjoy this cute little story about a young girl taking the bus on her own for the first time.  The story line was okay but it is the pictures that make this book.  Along with the adorable pictures we see little nuggets like the newspaper changing headlines, the turtle going in and out of his shell and other little changes.  A great book for your little one(s)!

k (My Novelesque Life)  


EDIT: I know there are some issues with a child going alone on the bus and sharing food with strangers, etc...I think that is a fictionally story and should be read as such. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Mystery Monday: Drew Farthering


RULES OF MURDER
(Drew Farthering Mystery: #1)
Written by Julianna Deering
2013; 366 Pages
Genre: mystery, historical

Rating: ★★★★

(I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review).


Drew Farthering and his childhood friend, Nick return home to Farthering Place to find Drew's mother and stepfather hosting a weekend party. Before the weekend finishes there is a murder at the country estate and the police are unsure where to turn. Drew and Nick love a good mystery and decide to try their hand at following the clues. In between leads Drew is also trying to woo Madeline Parker, niece of his stepfather, and fellow mystery addict. The clues seem to lead them closer to home and the killer may be someone they know well.

I have a new favourite for cozy historical mystery - The Drew Farthing series by Julianna Deering. This series is set in a British village in 1932 and reminds me of Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth. (Deering is the pen name for DeAnna Julie Dodson who writes Christian fiction. The Drew Farthing series is also considered Christian Literature but is only lightly mentioned). I like the light banter between the characters, the romance between Madeline and Drew and the mystery author references.


DEATH BY THE BOOK
(Drew Farthering Mystery: #2)
Written by Julianna Deering
2014; 317 Pages
Genre: mystery, historical

Rating: ★★★★

(I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review).

Drew is hoping that Madeline will say yes to his marriage proposal and will stay on at Farthering Place. As he tries to woo her, Madeline's Aunt Ruth arrives to bring her back to the United States. She is not impressed with Drew or Britain and tries to keep the two apart when she can. Drew turns on the charm but then his family lawyer is murdered and he finds himself in the middle of another murder case. As more bodies turn up Drew along with Nick and Madeline try to catch the killer.

A great follow up to the debut novel, Rules of Murder. Drew and Madeline are a cute couple - a less alcohol-induced Nick and Nora. If this novel had been written in the 1930s I could see it being turned into a movie with Cary Grant or William Powell.


Book Three and Four will be reviewed when book 4 is released.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Good Excuse...I Swear!



Sorry, there was no posts yesterday.  I came home from work, ate and then left for book club which was wonderful but it was a late night.  I came home and read a few chapters of Cinnamon and Gunpowder (written by Eli Brown) and fell asleep.  I have a late shift at work till 9pm but do have a day off tomorrow so I promise a post late tonight.

I hope you are having a great week so far!

k (My Novelesque Life)

Sunday, 10 January 2016

This One Fizzles Out...


PLAYING WITH FIRE
Written by Tess Gerritsen 
2015, 250 Pages
Genre: mystery, suspense, historical, standalone

Rating: ★★★

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

I have been a fan of author, Tess Gerritsen since I read her novel, The Surgeon (The first book in the Rizzoli and Isles series).  Diabolical villains added with heart pounding suspense mixed in with great heroines has made her a must-read author for me.  I even enjoyed a previous standalone novel that encompassed the elements above so was happy to see another of her books coming out.  
Julia Ansdell, a violinist, picks up The Incendio Waltz that will be a challenge for her to play.  Every time she plays the piece her daughter commits some act of violence towards her.  She thinks her daughter might be ill or may have evil tendencies.  Her aunt and husband think she is the one who may be ill.  Interweaved with this story is one from the past, 1930s, of a composer and his family.  The two stories come together to reveal a great secret.
The novel has me hooked for the first few chapters but then just fell apart. I loved the idea of the story but wish it just went another way.  I think if it would have been more horror and paranormal I would have been intrigued to the end.  I mostly kept reading out of respect for Ms. Gerritsen as the "mystery" unraveled before it should have.  I would not recommend this for first time readers of Gerritsen.  I would suggest reading The Surgeon or standalone, Bone Garden.  

k (My Novelesque Life)

Friday, 8 January 2016

Review: Scandalous Summer Night



SCANDALOUS SUMMER NIGHTS
(Honeycote: #3)
Written by Anne Barton
2014; 384 Pages
Genre: historical romance, romance, historical 

Rating: ★★★★

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

I have enjoyed Anne Barton's previous historical romances because of her mix of romance and humour.  Scandalous Summer Nights is no different.  Lady Olivia Sherbourne is the elder of Owen's younger sisters and also the one he cannot get to follow the rules of society.  Olivia has been in love with her older brother's friend James Averill for 10 years and she had made it her mission to get him to finally notice her as a woman.  James has always found her attractive but his loyalty to his friend has kept him from looking at Olivia in any other way.  To ensure nothing does happen he leaves the city to only have Olivia follow him.  Now James is doing everything to make sure he gets Olivia back home wit her good repetition, and Olivia is doing everything to get herself in a compromising situation with James...let the summer games begin.

I have liked Olivia since we were first introduced to her in book one and am glad she and James finally get their story.  Olivia is a strong and funny heroine that has you on her side cheering her on.  James is her match in that he wants her but has to remain gentlemanly so makes it fun to watch him squirm.  We also get to see how Annabel and Owen's relationship is progressing and more eager to see sweet Rose's story.

k (My Novelesque Life)  

Honeycote #1: 2013




























  

When She was Wicked Review 



Honeycote #1.5: 2013





To All the Rakes I've Loved Before Review




Honeycote #2: 2013






Honeycote #4: 2015


Review: Minutes to Kill



MINUTES TO KILL
(Scarlet Falls #2)

Written by Melinda Leigh
2015; 336 Pages
Genre: romantic suspense, suspense, mystery

★★★1/2

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

After losing her brother and sister-in-law to murder Hannah Barrett, a corporate lawyer, finds herself in another harrowing situation.  On a business meeting in Las Vegas she tries to save a woman from being kidnap but fails at the last minute.  Hannah has little information to give the police but cannot get the young woman out of her mind.  She goes home to be with her family but only leads the kidnapper to her and her family.  She turns to Detective Brody McNamara for help but finds that she needs him more than just professionally.

This is my second novel, along with two novellas, written by Melinda Leigh and I have already added her to my list of authors to read.  She started this novel off with a bang but it does at times stall a bit as does the romance between Hannah and Brody.  Yet, it kept me interested and left me ready to read the next book in the series (which I hope comes out soon this year!).

k (My Novelesque Life)  

Scarlet Falls #1: 2014










  
  

Hour of Need Review



Scarlet Falls #2: June 2016