Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Crooked House by Agatha Christie


Crooked House was the November pick for #ReadChristie2021 Challenge.  It was another new book for me, and I was intrigued in the author’s foreword to discover it was one of Agatha Christie’s personal favorites.  I would agree with this assessment.  It was a perfect murder mystery.

 The narrator of the novel, Charles Hayword, meets Sophia Leonides in Egypt towards the end of World War II and they fall in love.  They reconnect in England and her grandfather and patriarch of the Leonides family is murdered shortly thereafter.  Charles’s father works for Scotland Yard and Charles is used as an “in” to the family. He listens to all of the conversations family as he gets to know them as Sophia’s young man.  Who murdered Aristide Leonides?  His young wife who may have been having an affair?  His son who was going bankrupt?  Is it Sophia herself to gain her inheritance? There are plenty of people with motive, but what is the answer?

 As has become typical with my reading of Agatha Christie novels, I did not guess the answer to this one and was caught off guard.  It did make sense though.  This novel flowed really well narratively, and I enjoyed it.  I really liked the narrator being Sophia’s love interest, it added an additional depth to the novel.  I will admit that I was reminded a lot of one of my favorite movies from two years ago, Knives Out.  It seemed to have borrowed quite a few items from this book. 

 Favorite Quote:

 “I don’t think, in my experience, that any murderer has really felt remorse. . . And that, perhaps, is the mark of Cain.  Murderers are set apart, they are ‘different’ – murder is wrong – but not for them – for them it is necessary – the victim has ‘asked for it,’ it was ‘the only way.’”

 Overall, Crooked House is an excellent mystery.

 Book Source:  Purchased from Amazon.com

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Cartographer’s Secret by Tea Cooper (TLC Book Tour)

 What is your favorite historical mystery novel?

 Clear off your calendar as once you pick up The Cartographer’s Secret, you won’t want to put it down.   This duel narrative novel is set in Australia.  On a ranch in the Hunter Valley in 1880, Evie Ludgrove is going through a lot of changes at home with her mother’s death and her sister’s marriage.  She shares her father’s obsession with discovering the fate of the famed Australian explorer, Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt.  She leaves one day to research a clue and is never seen again.  What happened to Evie?

 In 1911, Letitia Rawlings feels confined by the life that her mom wants for her in Sydney.  After her brother’s tragic death, she takes his specially outfitted Model T Ford on an adventure to Yellow Rock in the Hunter’s Valley to let her great aunt Olivia to know of his passing.  Once there, Letitia discovers family secrets and feels herself pulled into the mystery of Evie.  Will she discover what happened to Evie and will she determine how to move forward in life herself?

 I couldn’t put this book down.  I loved the mystery of Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt.  I had had never heard of this particular piece of Australian history and was intrigued to learn in the author’s note at the end that it was a true story!  I was equally if not more intrigued by the disappearance of Evie.  What happened to her when she left for a seemingly short trip to investigate some clues?  I couldn’t stop reading as I really wanted to know!  The story had a riveting plot.

 The book also had great characters.  In particular, I loved the characters of Lettie and Great-Aunt Olivia. They were both head strong women who made their own way in a man’s world.  I in particular loved Lettie driving her Model T around and impressing everyone as she repaired it herself.

 I was also fascinated by Evie’s beautiful map that she made herself. 

After a summer internship of surveying back in the day, I was intrigued by the brief talks about surveying and mapmaking. While the map is not in the book, the afterword has a link for a place to look at maps that inspired the author.

 Overall, The Cartographer’s Secret is a riveting historical mystery novel that you won’t be able to put down!!

 Book Source:  Review copy from Harper Muse as part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!  I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman


Title:  The Book of Magic

Author: Alice Hoffman

Narrated by:  Jennifer Ehle

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 12 hours and 52 minutes

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

 Are you a fan of the Practical Magic series?  I’ve enjoyed the series and love Alice Hoffman’s novels.  The Book of Magic takes place chronologically after Practical Magic but is the fourth book in the series.  This story brings together many of the characters we’ve been reading about in the series.  Aunt Jet, Aunt Franny, Uncle Vincent, Sally and Gillian, and Sally’s children, Kylie and Antonia are all in this novel.  The novel starts out reacquainting the reader with the various characters and the history of the family. 

 Sally has never told her daughters that they are witches or about the Owens family curse on love.  Kylie falls in love with her childhood sweetheart.  Just after declaring their love, he is involved in a horrific accident.  Kylie decides it is up to her to remove this curse and bring him back to life out of his coma.  She embarks on a journey that takes her back to England where her ancestor Maria Owens was from originally.  As her family embarks on a journey to save her, will they be able to break the family curse once and for all?

 I enjoyed the conclusion in the series, but I am also a little sad that it has ended.  The story seemed to meander at times, but I was happy to see all of the characters and pieces of the story from previous novels comes back together again.  I love the characters and I love Hoffman’s style of writing. 

 Jennifer Ehle narrated the audiobook and did a wonderful job.  Jennifer Ehle was Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.  I have loved her work as an actress, and I didn’t realize she narrated audiobooks now.  She did a wonderful job giving a voice to each character. 

 Overall, The Book of Magic was the perfect conclusion to the Practical Magic series.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy (Book Tour)


Augusta “Gussie” Travers is a woman who loves adventure. She does not like the staid life that her wealthy family wants for her, and she instead travels around the United States writing a Miss Adventuress article for Lady’s Weekly.  Her family sends her Uncle James, a former Pinkerton agent, after her to bring her home for family events.  When her identity as the author of the article is revealed, her family is horrified, Gussie decides it’s time to embark on a new adventure that her editor sets up for her to explore India. While she is there, she will be able to reconnect with her childhood friends. Will Gussie determine what path she wants to take in life?

 I LOVED Gussie.  I loved her adventuress spirit and how this was really her story of what she wanted out of life.   I enjoyed that she wanted to break expectations of society and explore the world.  I loved the description of the locals, her photography, and articles.   I loved seeing India through her eyes and watching her mature with the story.

 Gabriel is Gussie’s old friend and love interest.  I thought it was an interesting narrative choice to have Gabriel suffer from anxiety. It was a friends to lovers trope with a very slow burn romance.  The book was primarily Gussie’s journey with the romance as a secondary story. Uncle James was wonderful as well.  He had one of my favorite quotes in the book, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are the daughter of my heart, knit from my own dreams and hope.  There is nothing wrong with you.  Nothing that makes you broken.”

 My other favorite quote is about India: “America, with its youthful zeal and brazen thirst, whispered a sonnet to Gussie’s heart.  But India sang, her voice a thunderous roar to the percussion o drums.  It reached inside of her and wrestled with accusations that had chased her across the ocean.”  I really enjoyed Duffy’s writing style.  It was lyrical and descriptive.  It was an interesting voyage to India that included a terrible plague as well as the horrors of the caste system.

 Overall, Every Word Unsaid is an enjoyable novel with an unforgettable heroine.

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


·       Title: Every Word Unsaid: A Novel

·       Author: Kimberly Duffy

·       Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery & Suspense, Inspirational Fiction

·       Publisher: Bethany House (November 2, 2021)

·       Length: (368) pages

·       Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook 

·       Tour Dates: November 1-14, 2021



Augusta Travers has spent the last three years avoiding the stifling expectations of New York society and her family's constant disappointment. As the nation's most fearless--and reviled--columnist, Gussie travels the country with her Kodak camera and spins stories for women unable to leave hearth and home. But when her adventurous nature lands her in the middle of a scandal, an opportunity to leave America offers the perfect escape.

Arriving in India, she expects only a nice visit with childhood friends, siblings Catherine and Gabriel, and escapades that will further her career. Instead, she finds herself facing a plague epidemic, confusion over Gabriel's sudden appeal, and the realization that what she wants from life is changing. But slowing down means facing all the hurts of her past that she's long been trying to outrun. And that may be an undertaking too great even for her.


“Duffy shines in elegant, flowing prose and delicate precision that underscores the nineteenth-century setting."— Booklist, starred review

"An author to watch."— Library Journal

"Duffy's writing is beautiful, deep, and contemplative."— Jocelyn Green, Christy Award-winning author of Shadows of the White City







Kimberly Duffy 

is Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio, via six months in India. When she's not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes her readers back in time and across oceans. She loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of twenty years. He doesn't mind.




Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Love and Lavender by Josi S. Kilpack (Austenprose PR Book Tour)


What book has surprised you recently?  I love the Regency Romance genre and this book Love and Lavender surprised me by going in a completely different direction than most Regency Romance novels.

 Hazel Stillman was born with a club foot and was sent off to school at an early age to never return home.  What could a girl with a club foot with gentle birth, but no dowry expect?  She discovers she is brilliant at mathematics and becomes a mathematics teacher at a girl’s school. Here her life would have remained if her Uncle had not bestowed on her a grand dowry if she will marry a man of gentle birth.  She begins a correspondence with Duncan Penhale.  Her Uncle has also bestowed the inheritance of a building on Duncan if he too finds someone of gentle birth to marry.  Duncan is different than everyone else, today he would probably be diagnosed as autistic.  He sees the world as very black and white.  He has a great mind and loves to discuss a great many things including mathematical problems.  Duncan and Hazel enjoy their correspondence until they decide that perhaps the best thing for their future would be a marriage of convenience where they both would be able to come into their inheritance. Can they stay together for one year?  Will this marriage work out and will both be able to live their dreams?

 I can’t express how much I loved this book.  I read most of it in one night and couldn’t put it down.  This book brought me to tears and it called to me.  If you’ve every known or loved someone with Autism, Duncan’s story is very compelling.  Autism has always existed, but people didn’t know what it was or how to deal with it during this time period.  Duncan was lucky to have a father and a stepmother who loved him and taught him how to deal with his emotions and sensory issues.  They also provided the schooling that he needed for his sharp mind.  Hazel was his perfect foil with her own sharp mind.  As a female engineer, it was wonderful to read a book where the female character not only likes math but excels at it.  Her only limits are that there are no careers for women in math in the Regency period.  Even finding a teaching position is hard.  That’s why the inheritance would be a godsend where Hazel could buy her own school and stability.

 Marriage of convenience is one of my favorite tropes in romance novels.  Will Hazel and Duncan be able to make their marriage work?  I loved both the plot and fantastic characters in this novel.

 I also enjoyed that although Hazel didn’t attend church or have faith of her own, Duncan had a great faith.  When Hazel attended church with Duncan for Christmas, she realized that Duncan’s church community accepted him for who he was and were a family to him. 

 Overall, Love and Lavender was a touching Regency Romance novel with a unique plot and great characters.  I highly recommend it.

 Book Source:  Review Copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing for being a part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour.  I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


·       Title: Love and Lavender: A Mayfield Family Romance (Book 4)

·       Series: Proper Romance

·       Author: Josi S. Kilpack

·       Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction

·       Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (November 2, 2021)

·       Length: (320) pages

·       Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook 

·       Tour Dates: November 1-28, 2021



Hazel Stillman is a woman of rare independence and limited opportunities. Born with a clubbed foot, she was sent away as a child and, knowing her disability means a marriage is unlikely, she devoted herself to scholarship and education.

Now working as a teacher in an elite private girls' school, she is content with the way her story has unfolded. When her uncle Elliott Mayfield presents her with the prospect of a substantial inheritance if she marries, Hazel is offended. What kind of decent man would marry for her money? Besides, she loves her freedom as a professional, respected woman. When she hears rumors of the school possibly being sold, however, she knows she must consider all her options.

Duncan Penhale has a brilliant mind and thrives on order and process. He does not expect to marry because he likes his solitary life, shared only with his beloved cat. When Elliott Mayfield, his guardian's brother, presents him with an inheritance if he marries a woman of social standing, Duncan finds it intrusive. However, with the inheritance, he could purchase the building in which he works and run his own firm. It would take an impressive and intellectual woman to understand and love him, quirks and all.

Hazel and Duncan believe they have found a solution to both of their problems: marry one another, receive their inheritances, and then part ways to enjoy their individual paths. But when Uncle Mayfield stipulates that they must live together as husband and wife for one year before receiving their inheritances, Hazel and Duncan reluctantly agree. Over time, their marriage of convenience becomes much more appealing than they had anticipated. At the end of the full year, will they go their separate ways or could an unlikely marriage have found unsuspecting love?




“What a lovely romance. The historical details, the depth of the authentic characters, and the realistic dialogue all contribute to an immersive story. [A] beautiful and inspirational story about loving people just as they are.”— Katie Jackson, Regency Proofreading

“Phenomenal. This book was phenomenal. The very best in the series.”— Lyssa Armstrong, For Where Your Treasure Is

“This love story was unique and such an uncommon take on a marriage of convenience! [S]weet and well worth the wait!”— Ashley Johnson, Bringing Up Books

“Beautifully written, sensitive, poignant addition to the Mayfield Family series.”— Susan K., The Flipped Page






Josi S. Kilpack has written more than thirty novels, a cookbook, and several novellas. She is a four-time Whitney award winner, including Best Novel 2015 for "Lord Fenton's Folly, and has been a Utah Best of State winner for Fiction. Josi loves to bake, sleep, eat, read, travel, and watch TV--none of which she gets to do as much as she would like. She writes contemporary fiction under the pen name Jessica Pack.

Josi has four children and lives in Northern Utah.



Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Lost Cities, Ancient Tombs by National Geographic (TLC Book Tour)


Do you love histories mysteries or know of someone that does?  Lost Cities, Ancient Tombs is the perfect book for any history lover.  This new book from National Geographic is a large hardcover book that chronicles “100 discoveries that changed the world.”

 The book covers the time period from 3.6 million years ago from bones of our ancestors like Lucy to almost present day with the finding of the Titanic.  Each section tells the story of a great archaeological discovery along with fantastic pictures.  From the legend of Troy, to the search for King David, to the disappearance of the H.L. Hunley, this book tells the story of some of histories greatest mysteries and how they were discovered by explorers or archaeologists.   I enjoyed that this book covered great finds from all over the world throughout our entire history.  It’s up to date with more current finds.  I knew some of the discovers, but not most.  It is a very intriguing book to read.  I’ve always loved these types of discoveries.  Reading about them makes me feel like Indiana Jones from the comfort of my own home.

 I liked that the book had a great introduction and afterward.  In the afterward, there was also a list of prospects that may hold more surprises from the Great Wall of China to the unknown tomb of Alexander the Great.  A section is also included on current technologies that are used to discover the past such as aerial imager and ground penetrating radar.  A good index is also included.  I love indexes and I am always happy when they are included in a history book.

 Overall, Lost Cities, Ancient Tombs is a fascinating look into one hundred great discoveries that help us to learn about our history.  It’s a great book for history and archaeology lovers or those who would like to learn more.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Hachette Book Group as part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!  I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Pride and Papercuts by Staci Hart

 Pride and Papercuts was one of the November Selections of the JASNA Northwoods Book Club.

 Pride and Papercuts is a modern-day reimagining of Pride and Prejudice.  Laney Bennet is the only sister in the Bennet family.  She doesn’t want to be a part of the family flower business and is instead marketing at a bookstore chain, wasted words.  When a new PR firm takes over, she instantly dislikes the man in charge, Liam Darcy.  Will the two be able to work together to create a new campaign for Wasted Words?

 I see this is part of a series, but I read it fine as a standalone.  We agreed as a book club that this was a fine retelling of Pride and Prejudice.  It changed enough of the original story to keep it fresh.  I got kind of confused by some of the side characters that weren’t in the story that much and keeping track of them. Maybe if I would have read the series, maybe the side characters would have meant more to me. I did like the story of Darcy’s sister Georgie and Laney’s story Jett.  I wanted a spin off book for them!

 Overall, Pride and Papercuts is an enjoyable modern day Pride and Prejudice.

 Book Source:  Purchased on Amazon.com


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Tahira in Bloom by Farah Heron (TLC Book Tour)


What is your favorite young adult novel?

Tahira Janmohammad is seventeen and very goal oriented to become a fashion designer.  She works on using her social media to give her a presence, but she knows she needs a good internship.  When her planned internship falls apart, she instead decides to work in her aunt’s boutique in the small town of Bakewell, in Ontario.  Moving from Toronto to Bakewell, the flower capital of the world, is a culture shock.  Tahira is allergic to flowers, but she’s also very annoyed by Rowan Johnston.  Rowan is an attractive recent high school graduate that is obsessed with gardening and is very irritated about Tahira and her seeming social media obsession.  When a major contest can help both Tahira and Rowan’s future careers they decide to work together with their group of friends to try to win.  Will they learn to see eye to eye?  Will they win this contest?

 I enjoyed this young adult novel.  I’ll admit, my favorite part of the novel was that Tahira and Rowan’s enemies to lovers narrative was very Austenesque.  They seemed a lot like a modern-day Lizzie and Darcy.  I LOVED it.  I really loved Tahira’s pluck.  She definitely has setbacks, but she has real goals, and she works towards them.  She was a great character.  I liked how Tahira, and Rowan talk about racism at times through the book and how it has impacted them.  I will admit that I felt personally affronted when Rowan’s sister Juniper is made fun of by his ex-girlfriend for her Bookstagram and YouTube channel talking about books.  Juniper sounds like she would have been my high school friend.    I love the chapter titles.  They were both witty and fun.  The cover is very beautiful as well.

 Overall, Tahira in Bloom is an enjoyable young adult novel with very strong Austenesque vibes.  I loved it!

 Book Source: Review Copy from Amazon Publishing and Skyscape for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!  I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.  

From the Publisher:

Life is full of surprises in a winning novel about a girl dreaming big during one unexpected small-town summer.

When seventeen-year-old aspiring designer Tahira Janmohammad’s coveted fashion internship falls through, her parents have a Plan B. Tahira will work in her aunt’s boutique in the small town of Bakewell, the flower capital of Ontario. It’s only for the summer, and she’ll get the experience she needs for her college application. Plus her best friend is coming along. It won’t be that bad.

But she just can’t deal with Rowan Johnston, the rude, totally obsessive garden-nerd next door with frayed cutoffs and terrible shoes. Not to mention his sharp jawline, smoldering eyes, and soft lips. So irritating. Rowan is also just the plant-boy Tahira needs to help win the Bakewell flower-arranging contest–an event that carries clout in New York City, of all places. And with designers, of all people. Connections that she needs!

No one is more surprised than Tahira to learn that floral design is almost as great as fashion design. And Rowan? Turns out he’s more than ironic shirts and soil under the fingernails. Tahira’s about to find out what she’s really made of–and made for. Because here in the middle of nowhere, Tahira is just beginning to bloom.

About Farah Heron

After a childhood filled with Bollywood, Monty Python, and Jane Austen, Farah Heron constantly wove uplifting happily ever afters in her head while pursuing careers in human resources and psychology. She started writing her stories down a few years ago and is thrilled to see her daydreams become books. The author of Accidentally Engaged and The Chai Factor, Farah writes romantic comedies for adults and teens full of huge South Asian families, delectable food, and most importantly, brown people falling stupidly in love. Farah lives in Toronto with her husband and two teens, a rabbit named Strawberry, and two cats who rule the house. She has way too many hobbies, but her thumb is more brown than green. For more information visit www.farahheron.com.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Complete Birds of North America by National Geographic (TLC Book Tour)

 Do you have any bird lovers in your family or are you a bird lover yourself?  National Geographic has a new third edition of the Complete Birds of North America.  It has more than 1,000 species of birds detailed in it.

 I used to love watching for birds out of my Great Grandparents window.  They had a dog-eared field guide they would check to determine what any unknown bird was.  This book is a large hardcover book with beautiful glossy pages.  It is not a field guide, but more an encyclopedia of everything you would like to know about birds. There is a great introduction of bird watching that shows a map of north America and the range for birds.  It explains taxonomic organization, plumage variation, feather topography, and abundance terms and codes.  Beautiful artwork of the birds is included and is mostly from the 2017 edition of the book. 

 The book is split up into families. The start of each family section gives information in general about the family.  Then there are separate entries about each species. The entries have a map showing where the bird is found, a nice drawing of the bird, how to identify the bird, flight, similar species, voice call, status & distribution, migration, rare status, dispersal, and population.   

 I thought it was interesting that the last species included was the Pied Wheatear a stray from Eurasia that came to North America the summer of 2018.  My daughter is obsessed with owls and is having a fun time looking through this book.

 Overall, Complete Birds of North America is a great book for a bird lover or anyone who would like to know more about birds.

 Book Source:  Review Copy from Hachette Book Group for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you.  I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.