Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is one of my favorite authors.  When life is stressful, I know that her stories will cheer me up and take me to a quaint village somewhere in the UK where a woman faces a crisis and finds a path forward through hard work doing what she has always loved. In this case, doing what she loves involves books, which I always love reading about.  As February is the saddest month of the year, I picked this light read for the February selection of the FLICKS Book and Movie Club (aka Rogue).  We meet tomorrow night at my house – we’ll see what everyone thought of the book.

Nina Redmond loves books.  She has the perfect job as a librarian and loves to match books with the perfect readers.  Her community decides to cut libraries and librarians, and instead have everything electronic and geared toward young people, she finds herself out of a job and adrift.  What should she do with life?  Unable to afford a store, she gets the grand idea of starting a bookstore in something she can afford, a van, and driving it around to match the perfect books with the perfect people. She moves to a small village and drives around to people that are yearning for books, but live without a library or a bookstore.  She also learns that she may be open to love as well.

I enjoyed this book.  I loved how Nina was able to take the dive and move someplace new with a career that she loves. She doesn’t make tons of money, but she finds happiness helping other people while meeting new ones.  I also loved the setting of the small village in Scotland.  It was quaint and cute.  

I will admit though that while this was an enjoyable book, I still love the Little Beach Street Bakery and The CafĂ© by the Sea the best of her novels so far.  It may be that they are series, so I know the characters better.  I saw that this book will have a sequel this year.  I can’t wait!
I found a great book club discussion list of questions complete with recipes at this link:

I only wish I would have found it before I picked up ingredients for desserts for hosting my book club.

I loved the message for readers for readers where Colgan describes all her favorite places to read and I enjoyed the humor.  Ironically as this is my book club pick, she says, “If you’re reading this for book group, I can only apologize and assume it’s 2:15 A.M. the night before the evening.”

Favorite Quotes:
“Dogs are tremendously good at showing you you don’t have to check your phone every two seconds to have a happy life.”

“The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things.”

“You know, women who find men who read really frightfully attractive.”

“Books were the best way Nina knew – apart from sometimes, music – to breach the barrier, to connect the internal universe to the external, the words acting merely as a conduit between two worlds.”

Overall, The Bookshop on the Corner is a love story about reading and fulfilling your dreams.  It’s a fun read.

Book Source:  A Gift from my Best Friend Jenn. Thank-you!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel

Title: The Room on Rue Amelie
Author: Kristin Harmel
Read by:  Madeleine Maby with Jacques Roy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: Approximately 10 hours and 7 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster.  Thank-you!

American Ruby Henderson meets the romantic Frenchmen Marcel Benoit and is swept off her feet.  They marry and move to Paris…in 1939.  What Ruby had envisioned as a romantic life soon becomes a life of unhappiness as the Nazis take over France.  What is Marcel hiding from her?

Ruby’s neighbor Charlotte is a young Jewish girl.  Charlotte and Ruby become friends and Charlotte helps Ruby out during a time of need. As life becomes more difficult for Charlotte, her friendship with Ruby helps her out during these trying times.  How will Charlotte survive as a Jewish girl in Nazi occupied France?

Thomas Clarke is doing his duty in the British Royal Air Force when he discovers that his only family member, his mother, has been killed during the Blitz.  Shortly thereafter he himself is shot down over France.  Remembering a tip from a friend, he finds his way along the trail of the French resistance and into the lives of Ruby and Charlotte.  Will Thomas be able to make it safely home?

The story is narrated through the view points of Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas.  I liked that a male narrator, Jacques Roy, was used for Thomas while Madeleine Maby had a different voice for both Ruby and Charlotte as narrators.    I like audiobooks with different voices for different character narrators and I thought this worked well.  The plot was intriguing and kept me very interested on my long commute.

The story in this novel really brings you in as a reader and made me really want to know what would happen at the end.  I was invested in this story and cried some bitter tears as it ended.  I thought the three main characters were all very interesting, and I once again was disturbed thinking about how people were able to make it through such tough times during World War II.

My only negative on this audiobook is that it was a bit jarring when Thomas started his narration and I was confused on why he was there, but he soon was a part of the story and it all worked together.

Overall, The Room on Rue Amelie was an intriguing look at a fascinating point in history.  It’s a great World War II story that I think fans of The Nightingale would enjoy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Courage Between Love and Death by Joseph Pillitteri Review and GIVEAWAY (TLC Book Tour)

Our nation has a particular fascination with the assassination of two presidents; Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.  But what about the other two presidents that were assassinated?  Garfield was a new president, but McKinley was a beloved and successful president in his second term when he was assassinated.  What led to his assassination and how did it happen?

Elspeth (El) Shaughnesshey has risen from her poor Irish American background to becoming a nurse for the prestigious Pan American Exposition that is being held in Buffalo in 1901.  She uses the money for her job to try to keep her family and their bar afloat after her father’s untimely death.  El has made a great friend in fellow nurse Harriet.  She dreams of catching the heart of young Dr. Kingdom as his wealth could pull her family out of poverty, but she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to an intern, Dr. Gunner.  El makes some extra money playing piano for some of the Expositions acts and meets various characters that are part of the event.  Healthcare items at the hospital seem routine in the care of people at the exposition until President McKinley is shot and El is on the front lines of his surgery and after care.  Who shot McKinley and why?  Will his treatment work (I know we know the answer, but I kept wondering what would happen!)?  Will El find love?  What happened to El’s friend Harriet? 

Courage Between Love and Death is told from the first-person point of view of El.  The story is very action packed and fast paced, I really wanted to know what was going to happen to all the characters.  I love learning new things in historical fiction and I thought this book had a lot of interesting information about the assassination of President McKinley including the medical procedures that were used at the time.  It also had a side sad story about abortion during that time frame. 

I really liked the character of Elspeth.  I admired her pluck.  I enjoyed that the story often had her go back to visit her Irish family to see the conditions they were living in and how she tried to help them out.  I also enjoyed her love story.

While I did enjoy the love story, the only weak spot of the novel to me was the love story.  El got infuriatingly stupid during the novel where she kept saying she was going to marry the total jerk Dr. Kingdom just for his money and would not go for Dr. Gunner as he wasn’t wealthy.  Wouldn’t marrying a doctor even if he wasn’t rich be a step up for her and her family?  I was annoyed.

Favorite Quotes:
“I can’t help but think as I watch him, he may be the chief of a conquered nation, but he’s showing more respect for our country than its citizens.” (about Geronimo)

“’Soon, these buildings will disappear.  This creation of art and beauty and industry will perish.  Only its influence will remain,’ McKinley roars his final words. ‘Who can predict how the future will change because of this exposition?’”
Overall, Courage Between Love and Death was a fascinating look into the McKinley assassination and the medical practices of the time.  It was a great story with interesting characters.  I highly recommend it for historical fiction fans.

Book Source:  Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!

For more stops on the TLC Book Tour check out this link.


One lucky winner has a chance to win a copy of Courage Between Love and Death by Joseph Pillitteri.  If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book. What is your favorite historical fiction book?  What do you know about President McKinley?

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to addresses in the United States.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday February 22nd!

Please make sure to check the week of February 25th to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!