Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Ta-Da Tuesday! Amazing Artists in their Medium


Happy Poetry Month!


WHOSOEVER HAS LET A MINOTAUR ENTER THEM, OR A SONNET—
Written by Emily Carr
APRIL 26, 2016; 80 Pages
Genre: canadian, poetry, prose


(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS in exchange for an honest review.)
​​
Rating: ★★★★
It is hard to really summarize this poem so I will let the book's synopsis do the work...
Is there such a thing as sin? How does one fall out of a marriage, and back in love with the world? These fairy tales are for the heartbreakers as much as the heartbroken, for those smitten with wanderlust, for those who still believe it’s possible to make the world we are living in the world we wish to live in.

Amazingly, this is my first piece of writing my Emily Carr.  Living in British Columbia, Canada you learn about Ms. Carr in school but mostly as an artist.  I have loved her visual works so have been wanting to try her writing. Happily, I was not disappointed! Carr has a great grasp of poetry in my opinion.  Her words are chosen carefully as I had ongoing imagery in my head as I read it aloud.  Yes, I read eighty pages out loud.  I started by just reading in my head but soon found myself using my dramatic voice, lol.  A really fun read and cannot wait for my next book.

EMILY CARR: (December 13, 1871 – March 2, 1945) was a Canadian artist and writer heavily inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the first painters in Canada to adopt a Modernist and Post-Impressionist painting style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until late in her life. As she matured, the subject matter of her painting shifted from aboriginal themes to landscapes—forest scenes in particular. As a writer, Carr was one of the earliest chroniclers of life in British Columbia. The Canadian Encyclopedia describes her as a "Canadian icon". (From Wikipedia)

Now Available to BUY at Herringbone Books


 Happy 75th Anniversary!


Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey
Written by Harlan Lebo
APRIL 26, 2016; 384 Pages
Genre: classic Hollywood, film history, history, biography

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

Rating: ★★★

Next month (May) will be the 75th anniversary of one of the greatest movies, Citizen Kane.  Actor/Director/Writer, Orson Welles is best known for his portrayal of Kane (who is based on publisher Hearst) as well his direction of the play. Surrounding Welles and this production of this film is rumours, scandals and legends.  Harlan Lebo in this book has written the story behind the film...how Welles stardom rose, where he started from and how this film came to be written and produced, and how it has touched audiences and future directors.  Lebo explores all the things that have been stated about this movie, and tried to demonstrate the proof (or lack thereof) behind each myth.  I enjoyed this book as it does give you a complete rundown of Welles and Citizen Kane.  I enjoyed the film but it is not one I am running to watch again.  I did still like the book.  I recommend to classic movie fans!

BUY ON AMAZON

k (My Novelesque Life)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

When Two Great Female Writers Collide



ELIGIBLE: A MODERN RETELLING OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Written by Curtis Sittenfeld
APRIL 19, 2016; 492 Pages
Genre: classic retelling, contemporary, romance, humor

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

Rating: ★

I love the humour and writing of Jane Austen.  I love the humour and writing of Curtis Sittenfeld.  What did not work for me was Sittenfeld writing an Austen retelling.  I like Pride and Prejudice but it is in no way my favourite novel of Jane Austen.  I have not read too many of the "sequels" or retelling novels.  One of my favourite contemporary romantic comedy is Bridget Jones's Diary.  It is very different than P&P but it has Austen's humour and it is far removed enough that even if you don't like Austen (and there are such people, bless them) you might still like Bridget.  While I do not love all the P&P characters they are endearing in a quirky way.  The characters and plot in Eligible are like an episode of what I imagine the Kardashians are about.  I really don't like Mary and Mr. Bennet and I adored them in the original.  I read this extremely long winded book out of respect for Sittenfeld - I have read all but one of her novels and loved them (highly recommend American Wife).  Sittenfeld has her own mixture of writing and I love and anticipate it, so maybe I am taking this book too hard.   Maybe she's doing something super clever and I don't get it...right?

Hmmm...anyway, this is a standalone novel, but it is the fourth book in the Jane Austen Project.  A contemporary writer is taking on one of Jane Austen's novels.  Val McDermid did one for Northanger Abbey and now I am scared.  A friend, who loves McDermid, tried it and couldn't get into it so now I don't know what to do.  I honestly don't know whether to recommend this book to anyone nor do I feel comfortable dissuading people.  A great author who I will always read wrote a modern retelling of a book I think is so-so by an author I adore  - I did not like it and skimmed some paragraphs but did finish it.  I am ending my review here.

BUY ON AMAZON

I will in a later post review Sittenfeld's earlier works and post about her as an author in there.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Toddlers, Tots and Teens: Suspense Thriller for Teens


Great cover!
AFTER THE WOODS
Written by Kim Savage
2016, 305 Pages
Genre: young adult, suspense, mystery


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

Rating: ★★
When Liv is grabbed by an abductor her best friend, Julia refuses to leave her behind.  She charges at the kidnapper and twists her ankle and is now in the hands of the strange man.  Now that the abductor has Julia, Liv is free and runs away.  She is rescued after 48 hours and cannot remember her ordeal clearly.  One year later, the one bent on self destruction is Liv.  Liv has changed and does not want to discuss that day while Julia is trying to put the pieces together.  As Julia gets closer to the truth she realizes she may still be in danger.

I wanted to love this book...the premise had so much promise that the first chapter was everything I hoped for.  Then slowly the book unravels and it feels like a first draft.  The editing department dropped the ball on this one, I am afraid.  The story seems really forced to fit the beginning.  How it all comes out...is barely hinted at and then we are expected to buy the ending and how it all ties up.  I have to say right at the 80% mark I had NO clue what was happening and why.  WHY? It goes where you think it will go but not at all how you think or explained in anyway.  It feels disorganized and very forced. Even the romance doesn't make sense towards the midway of the book.  Suddenly they are in earth shattering love...now I am thinking my eBook has lost some pages.  YET, I would still try another of Savage's suspense book.  She has the creativity for storylines just not the follow through BUT I have to believe the publisher and writer will take feedback in account for the next book.  Oh, and good news is that there will NOT be a sequel :)

KIM SAVAGE - I was born and raised in Massachusetts, on the South Shore, which sounds beachy, even luxe. Think Winnebagos and chicken coops. My three brothers, 16, 10, and 8 years older, were teens by the time I became a person. Happiest around adults, who often forgot I was there, I spent days eavesdropping on gossipy moms in lawn chairs and nights listening under the table during tipsy Scrabble parties. My dad read to me nightly. Eventually and early, I read to myself, everywhere. On top of an enormous freezer chest stuffed with meat. On drives until I grew nauseous. In bed until my eyes gave out. I read anything I could get my hands on. V.C. Andrews and Dickens. Black Beauty and the Bible. The Economist. Madeline L’Engle and Margaret Atwood. National Geographic.
I got a bachelor’s degree in English from Stonehill College and a Master’s in Journalism from Northeastern University. For a while, I worked as a business journalist. Instead of waiting for the Federal Reserve to release the Beige Book, I pitched story ideas along the lines of “Stigmatized Properties: When Murder Kills Property Values”. You see where things were headed.
Today, I live with my family northwest of Boston in a town a lot like Shiverton, near the real Fells reservation of AFTER THE WOODS. Born with dysgeographica—I’m directionally challenged—the fear of getting lost in that lovely, dark forest lives close to my skin.

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k (My Novelesque Life)

Mystery Monday on Tuesday! Two Historical Mysteries Reviewed


NOT CONTINUING SERIES

THE BACHELOR GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER
(Herringford and Watt Mysteries:#1)
Written by Rachel McMillan
April 2016, 289 Pages
Genre: historical mystery, female detective

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

Rating: 

When I saw this vintage-like cover I stopped...and when I read the synopsis of two single women in 1910, in Canada (Toronto) I hovered over the Read Now button on NetGalley.  Reading on - these two women were abandoning the husband hunt for solving mysteries.  Click and done. Merinda and Jem are flatmates and best friends and also women version of Holmes and Watson.  As I started to read I found myself losing the dazzle.  I did finish the book but skimmed some pages just to get to the end.  And several days later I could not really tell you much about the book.  I think it was a matter of high expectations on my part.  I think the constant reminder that Jem and Merinda should be looking for husbands but were not was too much.  Also, the mystery seemed more like a side note to the plot.  Instead of a historical mystery it seemed like a historical romance - that it focused more on not looking for men or husbands but focused on a romance anyway.  I also lost my curiosity in finding the murderer. I am wondering if the novel was edited and maybe that is where some issues l I think, for me personally the novel did not work so I am not going to continue the series unless a book friend reads on and loves it.  There is also a novella, A Singular and Whimsical Problem, which is slated for a prequel but reviews on it state otherwise.  

Author Rachel McMillan
Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater.
Twitter

Buy Now on AMAZON


CONTINUING SERIES

DESIGN FOR DYING
(Lillian Frost & Edith Head Mysteries:#1)
Written by Renee Patrick
APRIL 19, 2016, 320 Pages
Genre: historical mystery,  classic Hollywood, female detective

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

Rating: ★1/2

I was not sure about this book.  I love the Golden Age of Hollywood and interested in Edith Head's design BUT as a detective? Yet, I was curious to see how Head would be involved and interested in the story and Lillian Frost as a character.  Lillian Frost like many in her generation (1937) headed to Hollywood after winning some pageant contest in their hometown.  Instead of dream of being an Actress, Lillian wants to work at Paramount behind the scenes.  At the moment she is living on her own and working at department store.  When her old friend, an inspiring actress, Ruby Carroll is found dead Lillian finds herself a suspect.  When she discovers that the dress Ruby was wearing was stolen from Paramount she goes to Edith Head to confirm.  Soon the two women find themselves looking into the murder.  

I really enjoyed this novel...it is light, funny and entertaining.  The references to actors, actresses, directors, movies, etc were interesting.  I found myself looking up people and incidents on Wikipedia while reading.  I also liked the relationship between Edith and Lillian and Lillian's budding romance with the homicide detective.  I recommend this novel to anyone who likes classic Hollywood, mysteries, historical mysteries and cozies.

Rosemarie and Vince Keenan are the writers behind Renee Patrick
  
Renee Patrick
is the pseudonym for married authors Rosemarie and Vince Keenan. Rosemarie is a research administrator and a poet. Vince is a screenwriter and a journalist. Both native New Yorkers, they currently live in Seattle, Washington.

Fun FAQ with the authors!

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Buy Now on KOBO 



k (My Novelesque Life)

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Quick Review: Most Wanted

MOST WANTED
Written by Lisa Scottoline
2016, 352 Pages
Genre: suspense, thriller, fiction


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

Rating: ★★
Christine and Marcus want a child to complete their family, but Marcus is unable to reproduce.  With the help sperm donor from a reputable company they are having their first baby.  Christine, a teacher, is leaving her job and on the last day her colleagues throw her a surprise party.  While they are packing up the gifts she sees a news report about the capture of a serial killer.  The serial killer looks like their donor and Christine won't let up till her husband and best friend, Lauren agree.  When Marcus finds that the donor's sperm has been removed from the site and that the company refuses to confirm the donor's identity.  Soon the pregnancy of Christine's dream is turning into a nightmare. Marcus is not sure he wants the baby if the biological father is a killer.  He turns to a lawyer to sue the company for the real identity behind their baby.  Christine decides to go the source.

This summary is about 30-40% of the novel and I was enjoying this portion.  It was interesting and this is usually what I like in Scottoline's writing. When Christine drags Lauren down to the jail to confront the man behind bars the story no longer makes sense.  It is like a weird dream.  The characters were starting to get unrealistic as they got into bizarre implausible situations.  I skimmed the last quarter and managed to finish out of respect for Ms. Scottoline (who I adore) and to see if Christine and the story got their sanity back (SPOILER: Nope). While I don't recommend this book, I would recommend this author and her previous books.  I will also read any new books in the future.

Most Wanted was released April 12.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Quick Review: Our Love Grows

OUR LOVE GROWS
Written and Illustrated by Anna Pignataro
2016; 24 Pages
Genre: picture book, children's

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

Rating: ★★★★1/2

What an adorable picture book.  A young Pip asks his mother "When will I be big?" she shows him that he is growing through the landscape around him.  I love the pictures of the nameless owl, of course!  This is a great book for any child on growing up and also for parents on the love of their child. This book reminds me of Guess How Much I Love You? and Love You Forever.  


About the Author
Anna Pignataro is the creator of the bestselling books Mama, How Long Will You Love Me? and Mama, Will You Hold My Hand? Her works have been translated into eleven different languages, and she has won numerous awards including the Crichton Award for Illustration. She lives in Australia with her family.
 Author Website

Buy on Amazon 
Buy on Kidsbooks 


  a Rafflecopter giveaway


k (My Novelesque Life) 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Another Trip Down Memory Lane


THE STORY OF CHARLOTTE'S WEB: E.B. WHITE'S ECCENTRIC LIFE IN NATURE AND THE BIRTH OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC
Written by Michael Sims
2011, 307 Pages
Genre: biography, author, writing, history, books

Rating:

This is a biography of how E.B. White came to write Charlotte's Web and become a great writer of children's fiction.  Sims starts this book with a brief biography of White - he was the youngest of the White children and due to being a late in life child he spent some time on his own.  He loved nature, animals and being outdoor even though he had allergies to all three.  He began writing at a young age and even being published in children's magazine he read.  After college he finds himself at the New Yorker and starts to write essays.  Many of his essays, poetry and prose were about nature and animals.  One day he can't stop thinking about a mouse and his adventures...his name is Stuart...and he's not a mouse but a child that was very small and looked like a mouse. His first novel, Stuart Little, does well but White waits awhile to work on his final manuscript for Charlotte's Web.

Being around animals as a child he had stories of animals in his head - one was a pig and another a spider.  He soon thought about a pig being up for slaughtering and how could he rescue him.  And so he researches, writes and send his manuscript to his editor.

To be completely honest, I put a hold on this book at the library simply because it had Charlotte's Web in the title.  I had no expectations and sat down on Monday morning and found myself in for a treat.  The biography portion of the novel is mostly focused on his youth and his time at the New Yorker.  If you are looking for a biography on E.B. White I would recommend trying another book.  There are some points in his life that are glossed over in this book, but it makes sense for this look at how he became a children's author.  I didn't know anything about E.B. White so this has whetted my curiosity to learn more.  This book also increases your TO BE READ pile as I didn't know White also wrote essays.  AND, his wife was a great editor and also wrote essays.  Her life is very interesting so now I want to read more about her and what she has written. BUT the best part of this book is the story of how White comes to write Charlotte's Web.  Sims does a great job in bringing that all to life.

I highly recommend this book to fans of Charlotte's Web, E.B. White, writers and a small history of the New Yorker.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!


When I think back to my reading life as a child I remember Beverly Cleary being a very important author for me.  I devoured the Henry Higgins series and it introduced me to Ramona who is one of my favourite literary characters.  And, who didn't love Ralph S. Mouse and Socks?  I reread Dear Mr. Henshaw so many times my parents bought me my own copy.  In my preteens I read her First Love series and even though they were written 40 years earlier I still identified with the emotions.

Cleary has been writing since the 1950s up until the 1990s and for me no matter what the era is in the novels I identify with the characters and the core problems they go through.  Cleary, in my opinion, knows children and what they like and what they fear.  She is able to provide her readers with books that not only make them feel good but also make them feel they are understood.  I am looking forward to rereading Cleary's books as an adult and introducing them to a new generation.

Beverly Cleary Book List

k (My Novelesque Life)

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Tracy Chevalier's New Releases



MARCH RELEASE:

AT THE EDGE OF THE ORCHARD
Written by Tracy Chevalier
2016; 289 Pages
Genre: historical fiction, literary


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

Rating:★★★★
In the mid-1800s James and Sadie Goodenough settle in the swamps of Ohio as that is where their wagon got stuck. As James, his wife and five children start to cultivate the land James looks into buying samplings of apple seeds and this starts his obsession with his various apples trees.  As James tends to his orchard, Sadie is inside the home drinking apple jack to deal with life on the frontier.  She is stewing over her unfulfilled life, and mentally torturing her children in spite and for sport.  James and Sadie are at each throats and nothing seems to make them happy.

Fifteen years later we follow the youngest child, Robert as he tries to get away from his past and family.  He tried to mine for gold in California but finds himself selling seeds for a naturalist.  He seems to have found himself back in the family business.  Can Robert run away from his past and will his future hold something different and happiness for him?

I have read about four books by Tracy Chevalier novels - all historical fiction - and have loved her characters, plots, eras and the way she describes everything.  I have not read Chevalier in a few years but have missed the experience so I grabbed a hold of this opportunity to read and review At the Edge of the Orchard and in a way it was what I expected and a surprise.  As always, once I start reading a Chevalier book I am hooked till it ends.  This time I was surprised that this subject matter was very interesting to me and I kind of want  to know more about farming and growing in the mid-1800s.  I just enjoyed everything about this book, except in my copy of the book the switch between characters' voices is sometimes not clear...minor matter for me.  

APRIL RELEASE:
READER, I MARRIED HIM
Edited by Tracy Chevalier
Contributing Writers:
2016, 304 Pages
Genre: classic retelling, short stories, historical fiction


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

Rating:★★★★
"Reader, I married him" is the most famous lines from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.  The story behind this line is briefly discussed in the introduction of this short story anthology, but it is recommended that you read Jane Eyre first. Various writers were given the line "Reader, I Married Him" and asked to write a short story in ode to Jane and the novel. Although, Susan Hill has not read Jane Eyre but her story is fabulous, in my opinion.  At the back of the book there is a small biography of each writer and most have a sentence on what Jane Eyre means to them.  

I did read the entire anthology though I did skim a few that did not hold my interest.  The ones I loved were written by Joanna Briscoe, Helen Dunmore, Emma Donoghue, Susan Hill, Francine Prose, Sally Vickers, Audrey Niffenegger and Tracy Chevalier.  The standouts being Niffenegger, Prose, Hill and Dunmore.  All the stories in the anthology were well-written and done with passion, but depending on writing style and interest different readers will be attracted to different stories.  I recommend this book to all fans of Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte...but also to those who like these authors or want to try a new author. 

k (My Novelesque Life)

Thursday, 7 April 2016

April 2016: Released this week: For Children and Adults


FOR CHILDREN:

BEING ME
Written by Rosemary McCarney
Illustrated by Yvonne Cathcart
April 5, 2016; 24 Pages
Genre: picture book, children's

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

Rating: ★★★1/2

Rosie is sitting in a tree pondering what she what she will be when she grows.  She knows she is too young to be a pilot and other ideas that come to her.  Then her father asks her to come to the food bank with her and she discovers that she can do something at the age she is...volunteer.  While helping she sees a schoolmate who seems embarrassed to be seen at the food bank.  Now, Rosie has to do something to make him feel better.

I like the illustrations especially of Rosie herself.  The story is great for young kids as it allows children to feel like they can help and do things at a young age.  Also, it explains to them that those that need help should not be looked down on.  A great story that also aids in teaching children.

FOR ADULTS:

MILLER'S VALLEY
Written by Anna Quindlen
April 5, 2016; 272 Pages
Genre: historical fiction, literary

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

Rating: ★★★

Miller's Valley takes place in the 1960s when Mimi (Mary Margaret) Miller is young girl living on a farm run by her father.  Her mother is a nurse but is still there to take care of her and her two older brothers.  Her older brother, Eddie is away at college and soon her middle brother, Tommy, signs up for the marines.  Also, living on the property is her mother's sister who has not left the house in many years.  As Mimi grows up in a town that is changing and refusing to change she goes through her own discoveries.  Through secrets, heartbreak and years we see Mimi trying to grasp her own identity.

Drop Everything And Read!
Anna Quindlen's novels, Black and Blue and One True Thing are among my favourite books.  The way Quindlen writes about emotion and realistic characters that everyone can relate to in some way is simply inspiring.  I find that when I pick up her novels I have to make sure I have time to read most of it in one sitting.  This novel does not disappoint.  Whenever Quindlen writes about a family I am easily sucked into that family and the quirks that make them who they are.  Mimi is a great person to tell the story as she is quite literal at times so we see things in the similar fashion and have to do a bit of imagining.  The ending is also wrapped in the best way that I can imagine...I highly recommend this book.


Tomorrow more reviews on New Releases...

k (My Novelesque Life) 

 

Wooing Wednesday: Dapper Drew and his Lady Love


Today for Wooing Wednesday I will be reviewing a historical mystery I quite enjoy for the simplicity of the time and love. (Reviews for book 1-3 were written previously).


RULES OF MURDER
(Drew Farthering Mysteries: #1)
Written by Julianna Deering 
(aka: DeAnna Julie Dodson)
2013; 336 Pages
Genre: mystery, historical, fiction, romance

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

Rating: ★★★★

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 Farthering series. This is the first book in the series and it is set in a British village in 1932.   Much of the writing, characters and plot 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 quite mild). I like the light banter between the characters, the romance between Madeline and Drew and real-life mystery author references.  Both Drew and Madeline love mystery novels so we see them fight over the newest edition.  It is a predictable story but I enjoyed the characters and go on the ride with the characters.


DEATH BY THE BOOK
(Drew Farthering Mysteries: #2)
Written by Julianna Deering 
(aka: DeAnna Julie Dodson)
2014, 316 Pages
Genre: mystery, historical, fiction, romance

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

Rating:★★★★

Drew Farthering, amateur detective, is hoping that Madeline will say yes to his marriage proposal. He is hoping she will stay on at Farthering Place where they can read and solve mysteries. 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, his childhood friend, 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. I enjoy their banter and fighting over who will read the latest mystery first.  If this novel had been written in the 1930s I could see it being turned into a movie with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. This novel is also considered to be Christian fiction but it seems to be quite mild in reference.

MURDER AT THE MIKADO
(Drew Farthering Mysteries: #3)
Written by Julianna Deering 
(aka: DeAnna Julie Dodson)
2014, 336 Pages
Genre: mystery, historical, fiction, romance

Rating: ★★★★

Drew Farthering has finally convinced Madeline to stay at Farthering place and be his wife.  As they plan for their upcoming nuptials, Drew's ex-girlfriend and actress, Fleur Landis shows up at his door.  Fleur is now married but still lingering around show business.  When the lead actor in her new production is killed, Fleur is considered the main suspect.  Drew would rather be with his new fiancee but finds that he cannot abandon Fleur like this....even if she did break his heart once.  Madeline and Drew's longtime friend, Nick, join him in trying to clear Fleur and get back to planning a wedding.

While I did not care for Fleur and would be happy if she was carted off to jail, alas the real killer must be sussed out and pay for her/his crime. I enjoyed the third book in the series as much as the first two.  Inspector Birdsong is starting...very slowly...to get use to Drew sticking his nose in his business - and as a reader it is entertaining to see them banter as well.  You also start wondering if Madeline will postpone their wedding.  This novel is also considered to be Christian fiction but it seems to be quite mild in reference.


DRESSED FOR DEATH
(Drew Farthering Mysteries: #4)
Written by Julianna Deering 
(aka: DeAnna Julie Dodson)
2016, 336 Pages
Genre: mystery, historical, fiction, romance

Rating: ★★★★

Madeline is finally Drew Farthering's wife and for their first adventure as a married couple they attend a fancy Regency era costume party.  Along with them is Nick and Madeline's friend from America, Carrie and her younger brother, Will.  Talbot Cummin's parents are hosting the party at their home and will also be attended by his fiancee, Alice.  Drew and Tal attended school together and their fathers were also good friends.  Just as everyone is getting into the Regency Era, Alice dies of cocaine overdose and Tal's father is arrested for transporting cocaine.  Tal begs Drew to look into Alice's death because he does not believe that his father killed her.  Drew and his gang look into the murder but when someone close to them is murdered he is not sure if he can solve this one.

Fan Art
Regency era? Jane Austen quotes? Dressing and dancing in the time period? Sign me up! Well, if I was of that class.  When the police show up, one copper snickers and notes that it must be nice to not have to work and prance around.  I have to applaud Deering in marrying her characters in a reasonable time rather than dragging it out.  I like Drew and Madeline as a couple as they are realistic for the time and present day.  The mystery had me scratching my head for a bit - which I love!  In this book we see more of Nick and Carrie's courtship as well.  We meet Carrie's seventeen year old brother, Will who is eager to be a detective and keep his sister in America.  Will is another character I liked immediately.  I was not a huge fan of the Cummins as they all seem a bit off, as does their cook who cannot have anyone in her kitchen.  This novel had a bit more religious overtones in it, but nothing that really bothered me.  Deering uses reference to God as a way of coping with what is going on but not in a preachy way.  This was a more emotional book for me.  I had to stop reading for a bit just to gather myself again.  I think this just shows how well Deering writes her characters and story.  I hope there is more Drew and his gang!

k (My Novelesque Life) 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Top 1% Reviewer? Moi?


This morning I open my email and see that I am in the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads.  Wow, that is...really exciting to hear. I have written over 2,500 reviews since 2011 and that seems like a lot, lol.  Anyway, I just wanted to share this news with you all, because without you I would not be reviewing amazing books.


Check out GR's blog

k (My Novelesque Life)

Totally Tardy Toddlers, Tots and Teens: Lair of Dreams


So I read Lair of Dreams in December 2015 but totally forgot to review this book!  Without any further adieu...

LAIR OF DREAMS
(The Diviners: #2)
Written by Libba Bray
2015; 613 Pages
Genre: young adult, historical fiction suspense, mystery, paranormal

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

Rating: ★★★★

***May contain some SPOILERS if you have not read The Diviners (Book 1)***

Lair of Dreams picks up from the first book left off...the fight against a supernatural serial killer has outed Evie's as a Diviner.  Everywhere she goes the reporters follow her every move.  Evie uses this to gain popularity on the radio as a Seer and becomes the darling of New York City.  On the downside she is estranged from her uncle who is displeased with Evie going public.  While Evie is enjoying her new social life there is a sleeping sickness that is invading people's dreams.

Henry Du Bois, pianist and songwriter, is looking for his lost lover and is walking in his dreams more frequently.  In one of his dreams he meets another dream walker, Ling Chan.  He asks her for help finding his lover as he is not strong enough on his own.  The sleeping sickness is lingering at the outer edge as the two slip deeper into the dream world.


There are also other characters from book one in this book but these are the two major storylines I can remember from the epic book.  This is a book that is meant for young adults but I would recommend this for at least fourteen or fifteen and up.  The book is easy to read and get into but there are some themes I think might be for an older audience. But then again young teens are reading Gossip Girl so maybe I am being a bit overprotective, lol.

Libba Bray is a great writer that hooks you from the first page. The novel starts off like Great Gatsby with a twist of Daphne Du Maurier and so I was in heaven.  Bray brings the Jazz Age to life and you can tell she has done her research.  There is suspense that keeps you engrossed but it is the supernatural elements in the book that has you intrigued.  The characters in this book are a bit like X-Men, in that they have special powers but more in the supernatural area.  I recommend this book, and series, to those that like epic reads and an open-mind.  Just beware this novel will keep you up reading and thinking about things that go bump in the night.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Monday, 4 April 2016

Mystery Monday: Maggie Hope




MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDENT
(Maggie Hope: #5)
Written by Susan Elia MacNeal
2015, 337 Pages
Genre: war, mystery, suspense, espionage 

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

Rating: ★★★1/2

Right after Pearl Harbor is bombed, Prime Minister Churchill heads to America to visit President Roosevelt.  With him is special agent, Maggie Hope, who is posing as his typist. As the two leaders are negotiating America's entry into the War, the First Lady's aid is mysteriously murdered.  As Maggie looks briefly into the case she finds that Eleanor Roosevelt is being implicated into the crime.  Now Maggie must up her spy skills - code breaking - and find out who is targeting the Roosevelts.

First, I must say I am always impressed with the cover design of MacNeal's novels.  They are just what I would picture from that era.  I have been enjoying the series and Maggie's time in the espionage game.  I was so excited to see that Maggie was going back to America and hang out with the Roosevelts.  I  found that the novel at times lagged a bit and it could be the case.  I just wasn't that immersed into the plot as I usually am.  Yet, I did still enjoy the novel and am looking forward to the book!

k (My Novelesque Life)

Friday, 1 April 2016

Quick Review: A Year Without a Duke



I would recommend that this five-part novella series be read in order as the there can be spoilers in the next book.  Duke Beckworth has died without an heir and now the next in line must be found.  Each novella gets us closer to finding on the Duke.


JILTED IN JANUARY
(A Year Without a Duke: #1)
Written by Kate Pearce
2016; 81 Pages
Genre: historical romance


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

Rating: ★★★1/2
The Duke of Beckworth has died leaving behind no heirs to take over his inheritance.  As they search for the next duke in line for the Dukedom Colin Ford, an assistant land agent, is helping to watch over the country estate.  Rose Leyton, a distant relative of the Duke, is stuck waiting at the country estate while her brother and her fiance are off fighting the war.  When her fiance finally returns she finds out that he has already married someone else.  And, her own brother, and her fiancee's best friend, is more worried about his friend than her. In fact, he is ready for her to marry a wealthy old man so she cannot sue for promise of marriage.  To save her from a brutal marriage, Colin asks for her hand in marriage.  Rose finds herself very interested in this proposal - more than just an escape!

I really liked Rose and Colin and found their romance to be sweet.  I also like the main story arc of trying to find the next duke.  Letters between the esquire and housekeeper are so endearing.  This is my first book by Kate Pearce and I will try another one of her novels.  
FORBIDDEN IN FEBRUARY
(A Year Without a Duke: #2)
Written by Suzanna Medeiros
2016; 71 Pages
Genre: historical romance


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

Rating: ★★★
Robert Milton is...was the duke's valet but is no longer sure about his future.  If there is a new duke he may already have a valet.  Soon after his mother dies and he returns home to take care of her affairs.  He finds that his mother's companion is still residing in the home.  He starts to feel for Isabel but she is promised to an old man. If she stays any longer with Robert her reputation will soon be gone.
I have read another novella by Medeiros and really enjoyed it but this one was just okay.  This one seemed more like a standalone except for the prologue.  I didn't warm to Robert and Isabel.


SEDUCED IN SEPTEMBER
(A Year Without a Duke: #3)
Written by Genevieve Turner
2016; 95 Pages
Genre: historical romance


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

Rating: ★★★
Adele Vere is hired on as a Governess for the duke's ward.  She has a past that would bring her to the lowest of society.  As she tries to keep to herself and her secrets, Adele starts to fall for the charming stable master, Edward Coyne.

I have not read anything other by Genevieve Turner and thought this story was okay.  I really liked Adele but I was not a fan of Edward and found their romance all right.


AN AFFAIR IN AUTUMN(A Year Without a Duke: #4)
Written by Jennifer Haymore
2016; 100 Pages
Genre: historical romance


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

Rating: ★★★
*Let me preface this review by stating that An Affair in Autumn is also book 3.5 in Haymore's House of Trent series.
Markus Hawkins is sent on a very important mission to locate the next duke and inform him of his duty.  Markus and the new duke, Nathaniel were childhood friends along with Caroline Addison.  Markus has loved Caroline since they first met - first she was in love with Nathaniel and then he had to watch her marry another man. Caroline is a now a widow and can make her own decisions.  Caroline decides to board a ship to the Americas with Markus to tell Nathaniel about his new destiny.  The two are stuck on a ship together and Markus is not sure if he can stay away Caroline.

I loved this novella.  It has Markus Hawkins, brother to the Duke of Trent, who is very "duke-ish" himself! Caroline is a strong woman who gives Markus a run for his money.  The love story between the two is sweet and passionate.  It reminds me that I need to get back to Haymore's books.  I have read a few of her novels and novellas and enjoy her writing and characters.


 A DUKE BY DECEMBER
(A Year Without a Duke: #5)

Written by Sabrina Darby
2016; 86 Pages
Genre: historical romance


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

Rating: ★★★

Nathaniel Hughes left Britain for the Americas to gain a fortune.  There he saves a young woman and her half-brother (who was once a slave) and is now duty bound to keep them safe.  When his old friends Markus and Caroline come to America to find him he finds out that he is the new Duke of Beckworth.  Not really sure it is something he entirely wants he must do it and it also means he can take Elizabeth and her brother out of harms way.  As his secretary, Lizzie is close to Nathaniel but does not think he will see her in the same way.  Now as a duke who needs a wife and h
eir she feels like she is losing him further. 

The conclusion of the series was nicely done.  I really like the ending - which I think is a great treat for the readers.  I like Lizzie and Markus and their story was very interesting and different but still keeping with the series.  I am looking forward to more by Sabrina Darby.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Quick Reviews: Reading with Bears

BEARS MAKE THE BEST READING BUDDIES
Written by Carmen Oliver
Illustrated by Jean Claude
2016; 33 Pages
Genre: picture book, children's


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

When Mrs. Fitz-Pea assigns her class for reading buddies, Adelaide tells her she already has one.  Her reading buddy is a bear and she explains why bears make the best reading buddies.  I loved the illustrations by Jean Claude and enjoyed this cute stories.  When books are about books - what is not to like?

k (My Novelesque Life)