Friday, January 20, 2023

Feature: The Thing in the Snow by Sean Adams


What do you like and what do you dislike about snow?  I think snow is beautiful, but I dislike driving in it.

Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @williammorrowbooks for the review copy of The Thing in the Snow by Sean Adams and for allowing me to be on this tour.

I'm currently reading this thriller and I am liking is strange and unique premise.  I'll be posting my review in the near future.  

This book is new and was just published on January 3rd.

SYNOPSIS: 

From the critically acclaimed author of The Heap, a thought-provoking and wryly funny novel—equal parts satire and psychological thriller—that holds a funhouse mirror to the isolated workplace and an age of endless distraction. 

At the far reaches of the world, the Northern Institute sits in a vast expanse of ice and snow. Once a thriving research facility, its operations were abruptly shut down after an unspecified incident, and its research teams promptly evacuated. Now it’s home to a team of three caretakers—Gibbs, Cline, and their supervisor, Hart—and a single remaining researcher named Gilroy, who is feverishly studying the sensation of coldness.

Their objective is simple: occupy the space, complete their weekly tasks, and keep the building in working order in case research ever resumes. (Also: never touch the thermostat. Also: never, ever go outside.) The work isn’t thrilling—test every door for excessive creaking, sit on every chair to ensure its structural integrity—but for Hart, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to hone his leadership skills and become the beacon of efficiency he always knew he could be.

There’s just one obstacle standing in his way: a mysterious object that has appeared out in the snow. Gibbs and Cline are mesmerized. They can’t discern its exact shape and color, nor if it’s moving or fixed in place. But it is there. Isn’t it?

Whatever it might be, Hart thinks the thing in the snow is an unwelcome distraction, and probably a huge waste of time. Though, come to think of it, time itself has been a bit wonky lately. Weekends pass in a blur, and he can hardly tell day from night. Gravity seems less-than-reliable. The lights have been flickering weirdly, and he feels an odd thrumming sensation in his beard. Gibbs might be plotting to unseat him as supervisor, and Gilroy—well, what is he really doing anyway?

Perplexed and isolated—but most certainly not alone—Hart wrestles for control of his own psyche as the thing in the snow beguiles his team, upends their work, and challenges their every notion of what is normal.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Flying Solo by Linda Holmes


 Do you collect anything unique?  My Great-Grandparents had some wooden ducks that they collected, and I have some of them displayed in the porch of my home.  This book made me think of them!

Flying Solo was the January Pick for the Page-turners Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library.  We had a good discussion of this book at our meeting.

Laurie Sassalyn was the only girl growing up with five brothers.  Her Great-Aunt Dot’s house was always a welcome retreat to visit.  Now years later, Laurie has recently cancelled her wedding and is about to turn forty.  Her Great-Aunt has passed away and she has returned home to go settle Aunt Dot’s estate.  Amongst Aunt Dot’s possessions, she finds a mysterious wooden duck.  Why did her Great Aunt Dot have it hidden in a trunk?  As Laurie reconnects with her first love, she works to solve the mystery of the duck.

I enjoyed this novel’s theme of a strong successful woman being okay with living on her own be it Great-Aunt Dot or Laurie.  They aren’t defined by marriage or kids, but find happiness with their friends, family, travels and jobs.  I was mostly roped in by the mystery of the duck and loved seeing how that story played out.  The romance was good, but my book club agreed that the ending was too ambiguous on that end.

I was intrigued to find out the author of this novel, Linda Holmes is one of the hosts of the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour.  I had just started to listen to and enjoy this podcast about a month ago.  Do you have any favorite podcasts?

Favorite Quote:

“You don’t have to be single to be independent.  And you don’t have to be married to be loved.”

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Cake and Courtship by Mark Brownlow

 


What is your favorite kind of cake?  I love cake.  My favorite cake is carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or German chocolate cake with the coconut frosting. With that being said, I don’t think there is a cake that I don’t like to eat!

Cake and Courtship is the first book in the Mr. Bennet’s Memoirs series.  Cake and Courtship is the January pick for the JASNA Northwoods Book Club.  We’ll be discussing this book this weekend.

Mr. Bennet is the unhappily married father of five daughters in Regency England.  He served in the army in the conflict in America and the son of his best friend that he served with, John Barton, has returned to England after a long stay in Vienna.  Unfortunately, John’s father is not responsible with his money and John is trying to tidy up affairs.  When he is in Bath, he comes across a woman that he falls immediately in love with.  Without family or friends in England, how can he pursue her?  He turns to the one person he does know and trust, Mr. Bennet.  Mr. Bennet feels like he is the last man to give advice on love, but he wants to help out the young man.  He turns to his friends at the Meryton Natural History Society to help him advice.

I loved this novel.  It was a fun Pride and Prejudice variation with a unique point of view.  I’ve never read anything from Mr. Bennet’s point of view, and it left me excited to read the second book in the series.  I’ve always thought Mr. Bennet has a funny wit throughout the original novel.  Author Mark Brownlow perfectly captures Mr. Bennet’s voice and keeps the ironic humor in tack.  I also loved finding out about Mr. Bennet’s own lost love and his youth.  I also liked that Mr. Bennet wasn’t too hard on Mrs. Bennet.  The story of Pride and Prejudice seemed to be happening in the background of Mr. Bennet’s story and I thought it was fun.  I laughed out loud more than once reading this novel.

Favorite Quotes:

“Books are the one luxury I deem a necessity. If my purchases lead us into poverty, then at least we will be well-read paupers.”

“I passed the evening with a glass of port and the rare self-satisfaction of a husband in possession of precious gossip before his wife.”

“Toke’s sermons were the Russian winters of ecclesiastical discourse—rather unpleasant, far too long, and likely to darken the spirits of all who survived them.”

“He was a man of indefatigable charm and wit, and thus worthy of immediate suspicion.”

“Within minutes of his arrival, Mr. Collins described himself as a tool of God. I could well believe it. The good Lord had clearly sent him to test our fortitude.”

Book Source: Purchased this copy from Amazon.com.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Towards Zero by Agatha Christie (Bibliolifestyle Book Tour)

 


Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @officialagathachristie for a review copy of Towards Zero by Agatha Christie.   I have participated in the Read Christie Challenge the past two years and enjoyed it.  I am excited to start 2023 with this novel to start the 2023 Read Christie Challenge.

About the Read Christie Challenge:

Read Christie 2023 is the official reading challenge from Agatha Christie Ltd (ACL), which explores 12 stories and themes throughout the year.   The 2023 theme is Methods and Motives in Agatha Christie's stories.  Each month, alongside the official choice, there are alternative titles for readers to choose from that fit the categories.  January's theme is Jealousy.  The official ACL pick is Sad Cypress.  The official alternatives are: The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side or Towards Zero.   To join in, download the Read Christie 2023 challenge postcard from agathachristie.com.  The postcard will be included in your welcome email.  To join in on Instagram, tag your post with #ReadChristie2023.

Review:

I received a copy of the alternative pick for January, Towards Zero.  I had never read this book before, and I greatly enjoyed it.

Towards Zero is working from the premise that “A murder is the culmination of a lot of different circumstances, all converging at a given moment at a given point.  People are brought into it from different parts of the globe and for unforeseen reasons.”  The story starts with various seemingly unconnected people and gives their background as the pieces all come together.  Many of the characters eventually converge at a house party at a seaside home of an old widow.  When a shocking murder happens, Superintendent Battle interrupts his vacation to solve the crime.  How do all of these pieces fit together?  Who would murder this poor old woman and why?

I loved the concept and liked seeing how all of the characters and their experiences came together to solve this mystery.  Once again, I thought I had this figured out, but Christie got me with a red herring. I also enjoyed Superintendent Battle thinking about how his old friend Hercule Poirot would solve such a crime.  This is the first Christie novel I’ve read with Superintendent Battle, but I see he is featured in four more novels before this one and this is his last adventure.  I loved the atmosphere; it seemed like a powder keg with all of the various personalities together and something bad was bound to happen.

Favorite Quote:

“A little malice, adds a certain savour to life.”

Overall, Towards Zero is an excellent Agatha Christie mystery.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis

 


What is your favorite song?  What song brings back good memories when you hear it?

The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis was a wonderful and unique story about one woman’s journey from grief to hope.  This was very different from most books I’ve read, and I loved the characters and the journey.

Natalie Fincher lost her husband due to an accident.  It’s been two and a half years since he died, but she can’t move on.  Her friends and family all think she needs to move on, but she still feels lost.  She has lost her spark for life.  She doesn’t really love the cottage she lives in anymore but can’t leave because it was her and her husband’s project.  She was a musician but doesn’t work in music anymore.  She has started to play music on a piano at the train station and mysteriously has been finding music left in the piano bench that had significance to her and her husband.  Who is leaving the music and why?  As she starts to get out there and try to heal, she meets two interesting men.  Is she ready to move on with love?

The Key to My Heart was an honest look at grief and going through the grief process.  It was a good look at can you find “the one” after you have lost “the one?”  How do you move on?  When will people stop looking at you like you are broken?    It was a good book about friends that stick with you and friends that aren’t sure how to act when something like this happens.  I like how Natalie was able to find support and make new connections.  I connected with Natalie even though I haven’t been through this experience.  It was a very heartfelt book with great characters.  I will definitely be reading more by this author.

Thank you @BookClubFavorites #BookClubFavorites for the free book.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Simon & Schuster and Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Five and Dime Christmas: Four Historical Novellas by Cynthia Hickey, Susanne Dietze, Patty Smith Hall, and Christina Lorenzen

 


Do you have a favorite job or place your worked?  One of my favorite jobs was working for the local dime store in my hometown as a teenager.  It was a great place to work with a great boss, the late Mr. Soncrant.   Mr. Soncrant and the dime store were immortalized in the children’s book Something About Hensley’s by Patricia Polacco.  It’s neat to have a past job immortalized.

I was very excited to read a collection of four Christmas novellas set in in a five and dime store called Five and Dime Christmas.  All four stories were set in 1881 in a Woolworth’s store in Scranton Pennsylvania.  Each story is about a different young woman that works at the store and her finding a true love.  Different characters also find the true meaning of Christmas as well. I’m not going to break down a summary of each story, but I will say I loved each and every one of these four stories.  I loved the historic setting, the characters, and the plot.  There is just something about historic Christmas stories that I enjoy.  They were clean, Christian romances.  I would highly recommend this collection.

This is my last Christmas book for this year . . . although depending on the weather, I may yet read another one this winter.

Review Copy from Netgalley.   Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Christmas at the Amish Market by Shelley Shepard Gray

 


Title:  Christmas at the Amish Market

Author:  Shelley Shepard Gray

Narrated by:  Suzie Althens

Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Length: Approximately 7 hours and 53 minutes

Source: Review Copy from NetGalley.  Thank-you!

 Do you have a favorite shop you like to go to at Christmas time or for other times you like to give gifts?  We have a few, but Seroogy’s Chocolate shop in Green Bay is a favorite.

Christmas at the Amish market is my last Christmas audiobook of the season.  Wesley is running his family’s Amish market during the busy Christmas season as his father is having health problems.  This does not leave him with enough time to get to visit with his girlfriend, Liesl.  Liesl enlists her Aunt Jenny to help Wesley out at the Market.  Much to Wesley’s surprise, Aunt Jenny is his age.  As they start to work together, sparks start to fly.   But how can they think about romance with Liesl in the picture?  Liesl has also been helping out a widower with his young daughter and has been feeling sparks of her own. Will everyone find their happily ever after at Christmas?

 The forbidden romance trope sometimes can annoy me when I feel that people are getting hurt or lying is involved.  Christmas at the Amish Farm though played this trope perfectly.  I could tell right away that Wesley and Liesl were friends that everyone thought should be together, but they really shouldn’t be.  Everything in the story played out well as the characters made their realizations about how they felt about each other and how they would move forward.  I just have to say that Christmas Eve is a really bad day to break off a relationship with someone!

 Suzie Althens was a good narrator, and this was a delightful Amish romance Christmas story.  Now that we are into January, I am moving on from Christmas audiobooks for now!

Monday, January 9, 2023

The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz (Austenprose PR Book Tour)

 


What is your favorite time period to read about?  I love reading about all periods of time.  I love a good World War II story, but I do love historical fiction that focuses on other periods of time.    I have always loved reading English and Scottish history and in particular about the Jacobite Rebellion.  I love Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Battle of Culloden.  The Rose and the Thistle takes place during the Jacobite Rising of 1715, which I haven’t read as much about as the events of the 1730s.

Lady Blythe Hedley is a wealthy heiress and daughter of the Duke of Northumberland.  She is an educated woman and comes from a Catholic family.  Her father supports the Stuarts cause, and the novel starts with Blythe in France with the Stuart family.  Before she returns, her father asks Lord Wedderburn to care for his daughter.  Lord Wedderburn is on his death bed but was once the godfather of Blythe when he was still Catholic.  He lives just across the border in Scotland.  He agrees.  When their priest is killed and estate is overrun, Blythe and her maid make a hurried escape north to Wedderburn Castle.  They arrive just as Lord Wedderburn has passed away and Everard Hume has become the new laird.  Will Blythe and Everard be able to navigate these dangerous time? 

The Rose and the Thistle is my favorite kind of historical fiction.  It is well researched, and it makes you feel like you are in Scotland during 1715.  The characters are interesting, and I couldn’t stop reading about them.  I loved the independent Lady Blythe and also loved Everard.  He had a sometimes crusty exterior but is a good person beneath it all. Together they had a slow burn romance that was wonderful to read.   There was plenty of excitement to wrap up this book that I don’t want spoil for others.  I do feel like I would love to continue to read about Blythe and Everard and I hope there is a second novel.   I do know that I need to read more books by Laura Frantz.

I especially loved the Author’s Note at the end.  This novel is based on the author’s ancestors, the Hume family.  She visited the castle and the area and made me realize why the descriptions were so wonderful in the novel. I thought the personal history was fascinating.

It is always amazing to me reading through history how much tension there was on whether you where Catholic or Protestant in England and Scotland for hundreds of years.   Your religion could get you killed. 

This is a clean read and Christian.  I loved it and thought it was not only a great historical fiction novel, but a great romance.

Review Copy from Revell a division of Baker Publishing   Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

QUICK FACTS

·       Title: The Rose and the Thistle: A Novel

·       Author: Laura Frantz

·       Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction

·       Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Co (January 3, 2023)

·       Length: (416) pages

·       Format: Hardcover, Trade paperback, & eBook 

·       ISBN: 978-0800742669

·       Tour Dates: January 2 – 16, 2023

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

In 1715, Lady Blythe Hedley's father is declared an enemy of the British crown because of his Jacobite sympathies, forcing her to flee her home in northern England. Secreted to the tower of Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Lady Blythe awaits who will ultimately be crowned king. But in a house with seven sons and numerous servants, her presence soon becomes known.

No sooner has Everard Hume lost his father, Lord Wedderburn, than Lady Hedley arrives with the clothes on her back and her mistress in tow. He has his own problems--a volatile brother with dangerous political leanings, an estate to manage, and a very young brother in need of comfort and direction in the wake of losing his father. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.

Drawn into a whirlwind of intrigue, shifting alliances, and ambitions, Lady Blythe must be careful whom she trusts. Her fortune, her future, and her very life are at stake. Those who appear to be adversaries may turn out to be allies--and those who pretend friendship may be enemies.

 
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR LAURA FRANTZ

https://austenprose.com/2022/12/07/an-exclusive-interview-with-laura-frantz-author-of-the-rose-and-the-thistle/

 

ADVANCE PRAISE

  • “A masterful achievement of historical complexity and scintillating romance sure to thrill readers with its saga of love under siege.”— Booklist, starred review
  • “A deeply atmospheric story of faith, love, and sacrifice that is as captivating as it is enthralling.”— Sarah E. Ladd, bestselling author of The Cornwall Novels
  • “Marked by majestic Scottish scenery and a memorable trip to Edinburg, The Rose and the Thistle is a delightful historical romance set during a tumultuous time.”— Forward Reviews

 

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

 

AUTHOR BIO

Christy Award-winning author, Laura Frantz, is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Proud of her heritage, she is also a Daughter of the American Revolution. When not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State.

 

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS


Sunday, January 8, 2023

O Little Town by Amanda Wen, Janyre Tromp, and Deborah Raney

 


Do you like to read about big cities or small towns?  I enjoy both.

O Little Town is a collection of three novellas set in the fictional town of Mapleview, Michigan during the Christmas season.  “Hopes and Fears” by Amanda Wen is set in 1912 and is the story of a young school teacher, Emma, and her plans to bring a new Christmas pageant to her school.  Her plans may be derailed when a new principal, Frederick, arrives who doesn’t think a new pageant is required and is also Emma’s crush from her childhood.  I loved their relationship which went from enemies to lovers. This story was delightful.

“While Mortals Sleep” by Janyre Tromp is set in 1944.  Lennie has returned to her small hometown in Michigan after her sister’s death.  She is the guardian of her six year old niece and she is using her investigative skills to figure out what exactly happened in her sister’s mysterious death. Sparks also fly with Gideon, a friend from her past that also cares for her niece.  I liked the intrigue of this story and how it was set during World War II.  I thought it was fascinating to learn about balloon bombs that were sent by the Japanese military against the United States that did make it all of the way to Michigan.  I had never heard of this before.  The mystery, history, and suspense were great, but the best part of this story was the relationship between Gideon, Lennie, and six-year old Enid.

“The Wondrous Gift” by Deborah Raney is set in present day. Music teacher Rachel is shocked to learn that the school she teaches at will be closing in ten days.  High school football coach Caleb and Rachel bond over losing their jobs.  How will they move forward and make a living?  This story reminded me of a present day O. Henry story.  It was a good story.

I loved this collection.  All three stories were unique and interesting with great characters.  I loved that they were clean, Christian romance stories and perfect for the Christmas and winter season.

Review Copy from Kregel Publications.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the O Little Town Book Tour (I posted about the book when it first came out.) Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Queen of Thieves by Beezy Marsh (Bibliolifestyle Book Tour)


Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @williammorrowbooks for the review copy of Queen of Thieves by Breezy Marsh.

Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry?  I love my pearls that my husband got me for a gift as well as my wedding ring.  I also have a favorite costume gold necklace that was my Great Grandma Kile’s that I love to wear.

Queen of Thieves is a thrilling new historical suspense novel that exposes the underbelly of London in the 1940s.  Nell lives in the slums of London and works a thankless job at a fur factory.  Her boyfriend Jimmy has disappeared after she told him she was expecting.  She joins up with the infamous Alice Diamond and her gang of Forty Thieves.  Alice runs her gang with rules and methods that have been being used since Queen Victoria’s time.  The hoisters steal from fancy shops with the thought that everyone deserves a bit of luxury, not just the rich.  When Alice Diamond realizes that there is a mole reporting on her gang’s happenings, she uses Nell as a spy to report on the rival Billy Sullivan’s gang.  Will Nell be able to navigate between the two gangs?  Has she been underestimated by both sides?

I thought Queen of Thieves was a riveting new novel and I read through it quickly.  I love historical fiction and I really liked this different setting and topic.  I didn’t know anything about these gangs of thieves in London.  In the PS section at the end of the book, author Beezy Marsh has a great discussion on the background of the Forty Thieves gang as well as her interviews with former gang members and their descendants.  I thought it was fascinating. 

I loved Nell’s character and her growth through the novel to become a stronger person that can take care of herself.  I liked the duel narrative between Nell and Alice to learn the background of both characters and how they got to their places in the world.  I enjoyed the thrilling ending and how it was set up with a hint that there could be a second novel.  I hope that we do get a second novel and more adventures of Nell and Alice.

I didn’t agree with the thieves though that theft is a victimless crime and that it’s just part of the standard losses of the stores.  While it was thrilling to read about the theft, I was annoyed as I know that the thefts drive up the prices for regular consumers.

I liked the post WWII setting and it’s look into continued rationing and hardship for the people of London.  It’s easy to think the war ended and everything went back to normal, but it wasn’t so quick.

Review Copy from William Morrow Books.  Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the Bibliolifestyle Book Tour. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.