Monday, July 26, 2021

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton


What is your favorite book or movie set in Cuba?

 The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba is the story of three revolutionary women in the late 19th century struggle for Cuban independence. 

 Evangelina Cisneros is eighteen years old and suffering in a notorious prison.  Her father was arrested for being a rebel against Spain and Evangelina was exiled to an island.  While there, the beautiful Evangelina caught the notice of the man in charge of the island.  When she rebuffs his advances, she finds herself thrown into prison.  Her story catches the fancy of William Randolph Hearst who dubs her “the most beautiful girl in Cuba” in his papers and helps to rally a frenzied United States to go to war with Spain over Cuba.  Grace Harrington works for Hearst and struggles to make it as a female reporter in a man’s world.  Marina Perez is estranged from her wealthy family over her choice of husband, but as her husband fights, she works to help the cause in Havana.  Will these three women succeed in their missions?

 I enjoyed this book.  It was told in three different viewpoints for the three different women.  I didn’t know much at all about the Cuban fight for independence and I found it fascinating.  I was even more fascinated to learn that Evangelina Cisneros was a real person, and her story follows what is told in this novel.  I enjoyed all three-story lines, but my only complaint was that I didn’t feel that I really got to know the women as well as I would have liked.  The plot was good, but I think their characters could have been developed a little further. 

 Favorite Quotes:

“There are those who are afraid that the change we seek will leave them pushed to the fringes of a society they have mercilessly dominated for so long.”

 “Our lives are not defined by one thing; we are more than the events that happen to us,”

 Overall, The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba was a captivating look into the Cuban fight for independence and yellow journalism of the late 19th century.

 Book Source:  Review Copy from Net Galley and Berkley.  Thank-you!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey


 

Title:  A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow

Author: Laura Taylor Namey

Read by:  Frankie Corzo

Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio

Length: Approximately 8 hours and 33 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Shuster Audio.  Thank-you! 

What is your favorite novel or movie with travel involved?

Lila Reyes has her life planned out for herself as high school ends.  She is going to take over her beloved grandmother’s Miami bakery, move in with her best friend, and have a happily ever after relationship with her boyfriend.  Unfortunately, her entire world implodes.  To help her out, her family decides to send her to England to stay with a family friend to reset.  Lila doesn’t want to be in England, but she soon makes a new friend in Orion Maxwell.  Orion’s family owns a local tea shop and Orion becomes Lila’s tour guide to England.  Will Lila be able to determine a new direction to her life?

I love books where there is a lot of cooking involved.  Lila is a master chef of Cuban food, which she learned from her beloved abuela.  She is able to use her skills to update recipes, save the day in England and impress new friends.  

This is a young adult novel, and the romance is clean.  There is some swearing and drinking in the novel.  I liked that the novel delves into how Lila has problems dealing with her grief and how she is able to work through it and mature while she is in England.  I also loved the romance in the novel and thought it was very sweet.  I most of all loved how Lila loved her family so much and was so proud of her Cuban – Miami heritage.

The only downfall of this book to me is that it took me a bit to get into the story.  I wasn’t quite sure what was going on in the beginning with Lila’s being sent to England.  Once I put the pieces together and the story progressed, I enjoyed it much more.

I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Frankie Corzo. Corzo was a great voice actor and was Lila to me, but also had different voices for the other characters.  I enjoyed listening to it.

Favorite Quotes:

“She forgets that what she does in one small moment can affect tomorrow.”

“Thing is, when you put something back together it’s never exactly the same as it was before.”

“I’ve grown to find peace and acceptance in not fighting what I can’t control.”

Overall, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is a fun young adult novel about finding yourself and perhaps love while on a trip to England.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Anne of Manhattan by Brina Starler

 

Are you a fan of Anne of Green Gables?  I LOVE Anne of Green Gables.  I read all of L.M. Montgomery’s books as a tween/teen and have enjoyed rereading them as an adult.  I was so excited to hear that there was a modern take on Anne’s story.

Anne grew up in Avonlea Long Island with loving foster parents, Marilla and Matthew.  She currently lives in Manhattan with her best friend Diana. She works at a bookstore and is working her way through her last year of grad school.  She is shocked when her old nemesis Gilbert Blythe shows up from California and is attending the same grad school as her.  What happened their last night together after high school?  Why do they have a rivalry?  Will Anne and Gil be able to find their happily ever after?

I felt that Brina Starler had a great love for Anne of Green Gables and the characters that are involved in the original series.  She gave them all an update to modern times but stayed true to their characters.  She also added in minor characters from the original series in the perfect places. 

The story was told in the present with flash backs to tell the story of Anne’s growing up at Green Gables and relationship with Gilbert.  If you’ve ever wondered about the more passionate side of their relationship, you will wonder no more after this book.  It has some rather steamy sex scenes.  I’m more of a closed-door romance type of person myself.

Favorite Quote:

“If there was one thing Anne Shirley would stand firm against all arguments, it was that a person could never have too many books.” – Great first line!

Overall, Anne of Manhattan was a fun update of one of my favorite books.

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you!


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow by Mimi Matthews (Blog Tour)

 

Join the virtual book tour of JOHN EYRE: A TALE OF DARKNESS AND SHADOW, Mimi Matthews’ highly acclaimed Bronte-inspired Gothic romance, July 12-25, 2021. Thirty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical fiction, Gothic romance, and paranormal fiction will join in the celebration of its release with an interview, spotlights, exclusive excerpt, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in Yorkshire, England.





 My Review

What if Jane Eyre was a man instead of a woman?  How would the story of Jane Eyre play out?  That is the question that John Eyre answers in a very clever way.  John Eyre combines two classics, but I don’t want to ruin the story, so I won’t say which is the second classic. 

 John Eyre is a schoolmaster who must leave his position after the wife of his patron, Lady Helen Burns, falls in love with him.  He accepts a position at Thornfield as the tutor to two mysterious boys from Europe.  As he works to break them out of their shell, he wonders about his employer, the mysterious and missing Mrs. Rochester.  When Mrs. Rochester returns, he finds her even more of an enigma.  What is Mrs. Rochester hiding from her past?  Why are there mysterious almost supernatural happenings going on at Thornfield?

 I really enjoyed this novel.  I really liked the unique premise with the gender flip and the combining of two classics stories.  They worked well together.  The story is told from John’s perspective in the third person and a past narrative where a young Bertha Mason narrates letters to her best friend Blanche Ingram.   Bertha narrates her voyage through Europe and her meeting and marriage to Mr. Rochester. I loved the way this book was written like this.

 I enjoyed the Victorian Gothic novel and the supernatural elements.  I don’t want to ruin it for others, but I think this would be a perfect book to read leading up to Halloween.  Matthews knows Jane Eyre was able to change elements of it while keeping the elements that make Jane Eyre its own unique story. 

 Overall, John Eyre by Mimi Matthews is a gender swapping supernatural retelling of Jane Eyre that is thoroughly enjoyable.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Perfectly Proper Press.  Thank-you!

QUICK FACTS

·       Title: John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow

·       Author: Mimi Matthews

·       Genre: historical fiction, Gothic romance, paranormal fiction

·       Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press (July 20, 2021)

·       Length: (364) pages

·       Hardcover ISBN: 978-1736080207

·       Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1736080221

·       eBook ASIN: B08NPLVHVN

·       Tour Dates:  July 12 – 25, 2021

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he's ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John's new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious.

Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Marriage wasn't on her itinerary, but on meeting the enigmatic Edward Rochester, she's powerless to resist his preternatural charm. In letters and journal entries, she records the story of their rapidly disintegrating life together, and of her gradual realization that Mr. Rochester isn't quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all.

From a cliff-top fortress on the Black Sea coast to an isolated estate in rural England, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Bertha Mason Rochester shines, dominating her scenes with vitality and strength. The style, too, is spot-on, reprising the spirit of 19th-century Gothic prose without descending into mimicry.”— Publishers Weekly

“An entertaining spin on a classic with thrilling twists and turns…Matthews skillfully transforms a well-known story into a truly original tale.”— Kirkus

“[Matthews] retells Charlotte Bronte's classic story in a way that will keep fans of the original novel totally gripped from cover to cover... Fresh and dynamic... Fast-paced and spellbinding...a book you will have a hard time putting down.”— Readers Favorite

“One of the most moving, suspenseful, innovative and remarkable retellings of a classic in the history of, well, ever... Every page is sheer rapture as [Matthews] moulds popular source material into a spell-binding creation so wholly her own.”— Rachel McMillan, bestselling author of The London Restoration

“[A] captivating and ingenious retelling of Jane Eyre with a supernatural twist. Smart, suspenseful, and deliciously spooky, JOHN EYRE is a must-read; I loved everything about it!”— Ashley Weaver, author of the Amory Ames Mysteries and the Electra McDonnell series

 

AUTHOR BIO

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Regency and Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

 

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | BOOKBUB |

GOODREADS


 

TOUR SCHEDULE

                   

July 12          The Caffeinated Bibliophile (review)   

July 12          Syrie James (review)       

July 12          Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (review) 

July 13          Bronte Blog (interview)

July 13          Laura's Reviews (review)

July 13          All-of-a-Kind Mom (spotlight)

July 14          Gwendalyn's Books (review)     

July 14          Austenesque Reviews (review) 

July 15          Bookworm Lisa (review) 

July 15          Nurse Bookie (review)     

July 16          Savvy Verse and Wit (excerpt)

July 16          The Lit Bitch (review)      

July 17          My Bookish Bliss (review)         

July 17          From the TBR Pile (review)       

July 18          Rosanne E. Lortz (review)         

July 18          Books, Teacups, & Reviews (review)  

July 19          The Secret Victorianist (review)

July 19          Christian Chick's Thoughts (review)   

July 19          The Gothic Library (review)       

July 20          Getting Your Read On (review) 

July 20          The Silver Petticoat Review (review)   

July 20          Lu Reviews Books (review)       

July 21          Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books (spotlight)

July 21          The Green Mockingbird (review)         

July 22          Unabridged Chick (review)        

July 22          A Darn Good Read (review)

July 23          Kathleen Flynn (review)  

July 23          So Little Time… (review) 

July 23          The Calico Critic (review)

July 24          The Bronte Babe (review)

July 24          Probably at the Library (review)

July 24          Impressions in Ink (review)

July 25          From Pemberley to Milton (review)     

July 25          Vesper's Place (review)   

July 25          Cup of Tea with that Book Please (review)    

                   

 

PURCHASE LINKS

 

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP

| GOODREADS


Monday, July 12, 2021

Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill

 

Where would you at the end of the world and who would you go with?

 I like the tagline to this book, “It was a day like any other.  Except it was our last.”  Day Zero starts as the story of a nanny robot, Pounce, feeling angst as he has discovered his box in the attic.  He talks with his owner Sylvia who confirms that at some point, his boy, Ezra, will outgrow him and he’ll be put in a box.  As Pounce grapples with this news and thoughts of his future, a robot revolution occurs.   Will Pounce choose to join the robot rebellion, or will he save Ezra?

 I LOVED this book.  It was another five-star book for me.  Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop reading it. I even read parts of it out loud to my family while we were on vacation, and they enjoyed it.  The action was nonstop and exciting.  I also loved the moral dilemma.  Most of all, I love the character of Pounce and his love for his boy.  I also enjoyed that the book referenced Asimov and his rules for robots frequently as part of this world.  This book had it all, a great plot, great characters, and great world building.  It felt so real to me to be living your life where things are steadily getting worse until the day the world ends.  I hope that there is a sequel to this book.

 Favorite Quotes:

“The first day of the end of the world started entirely without incident.”

 “Though I may have been constructed, so too were you.  Me in a factory; you in a womb.  None of us asked for this, but we were given it.  Self-awareness is a gift.  And it is a gift no thinking thing has any right to deny another.”

 “I can’t change what is happening to the world, but I can change how it affects one human being.  And to me, that’s all that matters.”

 Overall, Day Zero is an excellent young adult sci fi novel with great plot, characters, and world building.  I highly recommend it!

 Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you!


Thursday, July 8, 2021

A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams


What is the last five-star review book that you read?

 Mine was A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams.  I just read this book on my vacation last week and I LOVED it.

 Maya Jackson dreams of having her unique wedding gowns showcased by Laura Whitcomb, Inc., the premier wedding gown designer that she works for.  She has a chance to move up in the company with a new unique design, but first she has to return to Charleston, South Carolina to help her father after a fall fractured his hip.  Laura Whitcomb will not pay her while she’s back in South Carolina, so Maya takes a job at a local bridal boutique.

 Derek Sullivan is back from the military and the owner of Always a Bride.  It was his mother’s dream and legacy, and he is struggling to keep it from bankruptcy.  He and his daughter are still struggling over the loss of his wife in the Emanual AME mass shooting.  He can’t connect with his daughter.  When Maya Jackson enters his store with her unique dress designs, looking to sell her gowns, and later to work at the store, Derek feels like his prayers have been answered. 

 Will Maya be able to realize her dreams to become a famous bridal gown designer?  Will Derek be able to save the dress shop and connect with his daughter?  Will they be able to find love?

 I LOVED this novel and read it quickly.  I loved Maya Jackson as the heroine.  She is an independent woman who struggles with finding love for herself as she suffers from sickle cell anemia and will only live for ten to fifteen years.  She decides to put everything into her dress designs to become the success in New York City that her mother always dreamed of.  I loved Maya’s journey through the novel.  She has to realize what is best for her.  What does she really want?  I love that both her father and Derek support her and her ability to make these decisions for herself.  They don’t want to change her.  I loved that. 

 I also loved to read about Maya’s designs.  I would love to see them for real.  I love that her inspirations were from her Afro-Filipina heritage.  Her heritage was discussed throughout the novel, and I was intrigued by it.  Her special Filipina stitching learning from her mother sounded fascinating. 

 I also enjoyed that this was a clean read.  There is definitely romance and love, but it does not get into any bedroom scenes.  Church is also identified as being very important to many of the characters. I really like it.

 Overall, A Lowcountry Bride is a perfect read with a great heroine and sweet romance.  The novel had wonderful characters and plot. I greatly enjoyed it.

 Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you!

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Where do you consider your own personal Paradise that you love or want to visit?

 Troubles in Paradise is the conclusion of the Paradise Trilogy.  I read the first book as part of the Page-turners’ Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library.

 The Steele family has moved to St. Johns, and they are still looking for the answers in the helicopter accident that killed Russell Steele and his lover Rosie. The survivors all find their lives intwined. Russell’s widow Irene works on a fishing boat with Rosie’s stepfather Huck.  Russell’s sons Baker and Cash have moved to the Island and are having complicated love stories with friends of Rosie’s.  Maia, the daughter of Rosie and Russell, tries to figure out how to move on without her parents.  As a hurricane nears the island, will they all survive?

 I have enjoyed this entire trilogy.  I loved the mystery and that it is resolved in this final novel.  The plot moved quickly, and it was very readable.  I especially enjoyed getting to know all of the characters over the three novels.  I was sad as the novel concluded as I realized I wanted to stay with the characters and their story, even though the conclusion of the novel was a good one.

 Favorite Quote:

“This Is the kind of conversation he likes the least – murky ambiguous.  They’re middle-aged.  Why can’t they just say what they mean?”

 “Her mother was right, Maia thinks.  Love is messy and complicated.  And, most of all, unfair.”

 “It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be true.”

 “You can lose the people you love the most; you can lose homes, cars, antiques, hand-knitted silk rugs that cost five figures; you can discover that the very life you’re living is a terrific lie.  And despite this, despite all this, the sun will continue to rise.”

 Overall, Troubles in Paradise was a great conclusion to the trilogy.

 Book Source:  Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!