Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn


What has been your favorite book club read this year?  Our Rogue book club read The Rose Code by Kate Quinn this year and this ranks as one of my favorite book club picks of the year.  I have previously enjoyed The Huntress and The Alice Network.  I was glad The Rose Code was picked for my bookclub so that I put it on the top of my pile!  We read this back in September, but I got sadly behind on my reviews and I am just now posting about it.

In 1940, three very different women answer the call to work on a top-secret project in Bletchley Park in England.  Osla is a young and beautiful debutante who is dating the handsome Prince Phillip of Greece.  Mab grew up in poverty in the East End of London, but she is determined to make a better life for herself. Beth lives a secluded life controlled by her mother.  She has a gift with solving puzzles and finds herself one of the few female cyrptoanalysts at Bletchley Park. The three women become friends, but circumstances tear them apart during the war.  After the war, will they be able to forgive and help each other?

I read this book when I had COVID in early September, and I couldn’t put it down.  I was riveted by the story.  I loved the real history that was included in the author’s note at the end and I loved how different the women’s personalities were.  It was exciting reading about the high society life of Osla dating Prince Phillip, but I also loved how Mab was able to step away from a life of poverty, and how Beth was able to break away from her mother to find herself.  The story was written in a very engaging style in two timelines – one during the war, and the other storyline after.  It keeps the reader wondering, what happened that tore these friends apart?

I am also nerdy and loved the work that they did on breaking the codes during the war.  It was also interesting that women were able to be involved in this important war work, but that they were not able to talk about their roles afterwards.

This book does get emotional, and I did cry during one part of the novel. 

The Rose Code is historical fiction at its best with an engaging storyline and great characters.  I highly recommend it.

Book Source:  Review copy from NetGalley and William Morrow Books. Thank-you!  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Endless Night by Agatha Christie


Title:  Endless Night

Author:  Agatha Christie

Narrated by:  Hugh Fraser

Publisher: HarperAudio

Length: Approximately 6 hours and 14 minutes

Source: Checked out with Hoopla through the Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!

What season is your favorite?  Do you like winter?  It seems like an endless night to me with it being dark shortly after 4 PM in Northeastern Wisconsin.  I enjoy it when it snows, but I prefer the sunshine of the other seasons.

I listened to the audiobook of Endless Night by Agatha Christie for #ReachChristie2023 in October. The overall theme for #ReadChristie2023 is Methods and Motives.  Endless Night was my read in November for the motive of Greed.

Michael Rogers dreams of building his dream home on a piece of land he has found in Kingston Bishop, but he does not have the funds.  While walking by the property, he meets Ellie.  They fall in love and Michael is surprised to learn that she is an American heiress.  After they wed, they hired architect Rudolf Santonix to design their dream home.  Their marriage seems idyllic except for a local legend that says their property is cursed.  A local old woman confronts Ellie more than once to warn her off the property.  After a death does occur on the property, was it murder?  If so, who did I and why?

I really liked how unique this novel was compared to Agatha Christie’s other novels.  I enjoy how she kept experimenting with her writing throughout her lifetime.  This novel read like a gothic romantic suspense novel with the murder occurring very late in the story.  The novel is narrated by Michael telling the story.  I really liked the conclusion of this novel and how it related to her other works.  I don’t want to say more than that, as I really liked the ending and surprise of this novel.

What is even more impressive to me is that Agatha Christie was seventy-seven years old when she wrote this novel.  It received critical acclaim and is considered the best of her later works.

I have been enjoying reading Agatha Christie’s novels as part of the #ReadChristie2023 challenge and I am looking forward to #ReadChristie2024!

I enjoyed the audiobook narration by Hugh Fraser.

Murder on the Orient Express: The Graphic Novel by Agatha Christie, adapted and illustrated by Bob Al-Greene (Bibliolifestyle Book Tour)


Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @williammorrowbooks for the review copy of Murder on the Orient Express:  The Graphic Novel by Agatha Christie, adapted and illustrated by Bob Al-Greene.

The overall theme for #ReadChristie2023 is Methods and Motives.  Murder on the Orient Express was my read for October with the method of stabbing. I had read the novel previously and thought it would be fun to read the new graphic novel. 

Hercule Poirot is taking the Orient Express to travel back to Europe.  Unfortunately, the train is stopped by a snowdrift on the journey and a passenger is found stabbed to death in the morning.  Hercule Poirot is on the case interviewing the passengers on the train to determine who killed Samuel Rachett and why. 

Bob Al-Green did a wonderful job creating a graphic novel out of this story.  I really liked the artistic choices he made such as graying out scenes that were memories.  He also used graphics to illustrate who the passengers were and what rooms they were staying in on the train. It really helped me to visualize what was going on in the story.

My thirteen-year-old daughter Penelope saw me reading this in October and asked to borrow it afterwards as she thought it looked interesting.  I think making Agatha Christie’s classic novels into graphic novels is a great way to get teens interested in her works.

I highly recommend this graphic novel to fans of Agatha Christie and to mystery fans.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Cyanide and Sensibility by Katie Oliver (Austenprose PR Book Tour)


What is your favorite type of cupcake?  I love all types, but probably anything chocolate would be my favorite.

Phaedra Brighton is an English professor at a local college in Laurel Springs.  She lives with her sister Hannah who is starting a new bakery in town.  Everything seems to be going well at the grand opening of Tout de Sweet, until someone is poisoned by one of the dark chocolate cupcakes.  Phaedra investigates to help save the reputation of Hannah’s bakery.  Who was the actual target of the cupcake and why?

I greatly enjoyed this book.  I loved Phaedra and all the other characters in this charming town.  Sometimes cozy mysteries can be too slow and drag for me.  This did not happen in Cyanide and Sensibility and the book kept me engaged throughout with its great writing, plot, and characters.  I read it very quickly.

This is the third book in the “A Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery.”  I have purchased the first two books on my kindle, but I have not read them yet.  I read this as a standalone.  I think I would have known the characters better if I had read the first two books, but it did not decrease my enjoyment of the novel.  It works great as a standalone read.

How is this related to Jane Austen?  Names of characters, places, and pets are from the works of Jane Austen.  My favorite was Wickham the cat.  Pheadra seemed to be an Elizabeth Bennet type character with Hannah as Jane.  Otherwise, this was not a modern retelling of an Austen novel.

I enjoyed reading this in December as it is set during the Christmas season.  I loved how the holiday was woven throughout the novel.

I did not guess the ending of this cozy mystery, which delighted me.  It had a great climax and conclusion.  I also enjoyed that the author referenced other mystery books and authors, and classic literature that I enjoyed.  That was a great benefit of the main character being an English professor with parents who own a bookstore!

Overall, Cyanide and Sensibility by Katie Oliver is a delightful cozy mystery that I highly recommend. I can’t wait to read more books by this author.

Book Source:  Review copy from Berkley and author Katie Oliver as part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour. Thank-you!  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


·       Title: Cyanide and Sensibility

·       Series: The Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery (Book 3)

·       Author: Katie Oliver

·       Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery, Austenesque Fiction

·       Publisher: Berkley (December 12, 2023)

·       Length: (320) pages

·       Format: Mass Market Paperback, eBook, & Audiobook 

·       ISBN: 978-0593337653‎

·       Tour Dates: December 4 – 18, 2023



Murder is on the menu and Phaedra Brighton is called on to serve up justice in the latest Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery.

While Phaedra Brighton might not have a Mr. Darcy (yet), she's quite content with her loving family and loyal cat. Phaedra's sister Hannah is the Jane to her Elizabeth, and Phaedra is ecstatic that Hannah has decided to move home for her next adventure—opening a business. 

All of Laurel Springs is out in full force to celebrate the grand unveiling of Hannah's new patisserie, Tout de Sweet, including local celebrity Rachel Brandon. Hannah is a master of her craft, with confections so divine, one bite will make you think you've died and gone to heaven.

Of course, you never want that to happen literally. 

When one of Hannah's famous dark chocolate cupcakes sends Rachel's assistant to the hospital with poisoning, Hannah begs for Phaedra's help to save her reputation and budding business. But Phaedra has more questions than answers: Who was the cupcake actually meant for? And how far is the culprit willing to go to take their target off the menu—permanently?



  • “This is the first book I have read in the Jane Austen Tea Society series, but it won’t be my last…If you enjoy cozy mysteries, then this is a book you will enjoy.”— Book Looks by Lisa
  • “The book is filled with great characters and a fun, twisty plot. Highly recommend.”— Cara Putnam, author of Come What May
  • 5 STARS— Gwendalyn’s Books






Katie Oliver is known internationally as a writer of Jane Austen rom-coms with a hint of mystery. In the US and the UK, she is the bestselling author of the Dating Mr. Darcy and Marrying Mr. Darcy series.




Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night by Sophie Hannah


Do you prefer to read romance or mysteries during the holiday season?  I enjoy reading some of each genre.

Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night by Sophie Hannah was the December pick for the Rogue Book Club.  Unfortunately, I may have been the only person who read it besides the hostess so there was not much discussion of the book.

Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night is set in the 1931 Christmas season.  Inspector Edward Catchpool and Hercule Poirot are besieged by Catchpool’s mother, Cynthia, to head to Norfolk to investigate the murder of a man in a hospital ward.  Catchpool and Poirot stay with Cynthia Catchpool at a friends’ Christmas house party in an crumbling estate by the sea.  The owners, Arnold and Vivienne Laurier, their two sons and their spouses, the in-laws of the sons, and a couple of houseguests are all in the mansion.  Vivienne is sure that the ailing Arnold will be murdered next if he goes to the Norfolk hospital.  Arnold wants to go to be a mole on the inside to help Poirot’s investigation.  Arnold, like the murdered man, is a man that is generally well liked with no enemies.  What could be the motive for the crime?  Will Poirot be able to uncover the murderer before they strike again?

Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night moved rather slow for me, and I had a hard time getting into it.  I thought Sophie Hannah captured the essence of Hercule Poirot the character and I enjoyed him.  I just thought the build-up of the story and characters took a lot longer than I am used to in an Agatha Christie novel.  I also didn’t really like Catchpool too much.  He seemed rather clueless for a Scotland Yard Inspector.  The ending seemed like an Agatha Christie novel, and I enjoyed it.  It was a good cozy mystery for the Christmas season.

This will probably be my December pick for #ReadChristie2023 as I’m not sure I’ll get to a book featuring strangulation before the end of the year.

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

All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne


Have you ever been ice skating?  If so, when was the last time you went ice skating?  I didn’t learn to ice skate until I was in college.  I enjoyed it, but I haven’t been ice skating since college!

Ice skating features in a great scene in All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne. Sage McKnight is an architect that designs homes with universal design so that people with handicaps or special needs can more easily use their homes.  She is working on a project at her father’s firm for the famous former pro baseball player, Mason Tucker, who was injured in an airplane crash years before.  Sage has come home for the holidays and to finish up this design.  She has a social media channel where she showcases her designs to make money to help build more homes for those in need.  She really wants Mason’s home to be showcased, but Mason just wants to be left alone.  He lost his wife and unborn child in the helicopter crash and all he has left is his young daughter, and his mother who he has a tense relationship with.  Will Mason be able to open his heart to love this holiday season?

All is Bright was the December pick for the Page-turner’s Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library.  It was a fun light read for the December season, but it was not the group’s favorite book of the year.  That honor belonged to The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin this year.  I liked all the characters in this book, but many book club members didn’t like how many characters there were. This book was part of a series and we had not read the previous books in the series.  I was okay with it.  The other problem people had with this book is that it was an instalove story between Mason and Sage without really a buildup of their romance.  I agree with that and instalove is not my favorite trope.  I really enjoyed the universal designs that Sage was working on and how she helped so many people to have a house that worked for them and their disabilities.  I could read an entire book just about that.

Overall, All is Bright is a fun light read, perfect for the Christmas season.

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews


Title:  Bright Lights, Big Christmas

Author:  Mary Kay Andrews

Narrated by:  Kathleen McInerney

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Length: Approximately 8 hours and 8 minutes

Source: Review Copy from NetGalley

Do you have a live Christmas tree or an artificial one?  In Bright Lights, Big Christmas, Kerry Tolliver is helping out her family after her father’s heart attack, by traveling from her family’s Christmas tree farm in North Carolina to New York City with her big brother Murphy and his dog Queen to sell their Christmas trees.  This is how the family makes their money for the year. Their family has been selling Christmas trees in the same location since Kerry was a child, but she hasn’t been a part of it since she was a kid.  She is now in her thirties and at a crossroads in life.  What does she want to do moving into the future?   

Kerry meets a handsome single dad, Patrick, who lives nearby with his son Austin.  She grows close to them both, but how can she start a relationship if she returns to North Carolina soon? 

Kerry also befriends an elderly man, Heinz, that stops by her Christmas tree stand daily.  She is an artist, and together with Austin and Heinz, they start to create a Christmas book.  When Heinz goes missing, Austin will not stop until they discover what has happened to him.  Will they find him before it is too late?

Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews was the Brenda Novak Book Group pick for October, but I didn’t read it until December.  I greatly enjoyed this book.  It was a light tale filled with second chances, found family, and the spirit of Christmas.  I loved the characters in the community surrounding the Christmas tree lot including Spammy, the old camper Kerry and Murphy live in that does not have any heat or a functioning bathroom.  I felt very cold reading about this.  I enjoyed the mystery at the end and the romance.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Kathleen McInerney, and I greatly enjoyed it. This is a clean read and it felt like a Hallmark movie.  I would love to see this story as a movie.

Overall, Bright Lights, Big Christmas is a feel-good Christmas novel with great characters.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Calling on the Matchmaker by Jody Hedlund (Austenprose PR Book Tour)


Are you busy this holiday season? How do you fit in your reading?

I have been off the grid for the past week with life and work being overwhelming. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things this week and catch up on my reviews. I sadly also got behind on reading and have not finished Calling on the Matchmaker by Jody Hedlund, but I hope to post a review soon. I am enjoying this book. What do you think of the description below?


·       Title: Calling on the Matchmaker

·       Series: A Shanahan Match (Book 1)

·       Author: Jody Hedlund

·       Genre: Historical Romance, American Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction

·       Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (December 12, 2023)

·       Length: (304) pages

·       Format: Trade Paperback, eBook, & Audiobook 

·       ISBN: 978-0764241963‎

·       Tour Dates: December 11 – 20, 2023



Haunted by the death of her sister, Finola Shanahan has resolved that she's not worthy of a family of her own and commits to spending her days caring for immigrants in the slums. When Finola sabotages yet another unwanted relationship her parents arranged for her, her father calls upon the local Irish matchmaker, who pairs her with successful wagonmaker Riley Rafferty. Finola quickly realizes her usual tricks won't work on him, however, as she cannot outsmart or outwit the dashing, determined, and daring man.

A candidate in the St. Louis mayoral election, Riley is confident a union with the wealthy Shanahan family will help solidify his chances of winning--and even more assured he and Finola can make a difference together. When a cholera outbreak begins to take St. Louis by storm, they must navigate a burgeoning attraction and growing danger testing all they know about love and sacrifice.



  • “Hedlund’s textured historical backdrop brings the city’s Irish tenements to life, and the romance between Finola and Riley, full of longing and barely contained passion (“She was like a fire burning down a building. And he was walking straight into the flames”), is a treat. Readers will revel in this charming romp.”— Publisher’s Weekly
  • “SOOO CRAZY GOOD!!! Absolutely loved this book - one of my new favorites from this author!”— Marilee, Marilee Loves to Read
  • “Sizzling chemistry, rich detail, and compelling action.”— Misty M. Beller, USA Today bestselling author





Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of over fifty novels and is the winner of numerous awards. Jody lives in Michigan with her husband, busy family, and five spoiled cats. She writes sweet historical romances with plenty of sizzle. 



Monday, December 4, 2023

A Winter by the Sea by Julie Klassen (Austenprose PR Book Tour)


What do you look for in a book cover?  I think the cover of A Winter by the Sea is beautiful.  I love the colors, especially the purple dress.  I also like that you can see the entire lady including her face.  I don’t really like the covers with people walking away or that just show a headless torso.

The Summers family run a guest lodging out of their seaside home in Sidmouth in order to make ends meet after their former estate was entailed to a distant cousin after the death of their father.  Winter has become more exciting this year when the Duke and Duchess of Kent, with their infant daughter Victoria, take up residence in a neighboring home for the Duke’s health.  One of the younger sisters, Emily, decides to follow her dreams to become an author by putting together a guidebook for Sidmouth to be published by a local publisher.  As she starts to have feelings for the Duke’s secretary, James Thomson, her previous neighbor and crush, Charles Parker and his parents show up for a visit to Sidmouth.  Will Emily’s dreams of becoming an author come true?  Will her previous dream of marrying Charles Parker and returning to her old neighborhood come true or will she forge a new path with James Thomson?

Julie Klassen is one of my favorite authors.  I love her inspirational Regency novels.  She writes beautiful stories with intriguing characters set in the Regency world that I enjoy.  I loved book one in this On Devonshire Shores series, The Sisters of Sea View. This was a perfect continuation.  While the first book focused on Viola, the second book focuses on her twin sister Emily.  I’m looking forward to getting a book or story for each of the sisters.  I hope that the eldest scandal ridden sister, Claire, who is in Scotland also gets her story told.  A Winter by the Sea can be read as a standalone, but I loved knowing the background of the characters from the first book.  It’s a series worth reading.

I also enjoyed that the characters celebrated a Regency Christmas at the beginning of the novel which made it a fun read for this time of year.  I also enjoyed the love triangle in this novel, and the growth of the character of Emily in both this novel and the first one.  I loved seeing how she had to realize, what did she really want out of life?  Were her childhood dreams still the same dreams she had now?  Was she willing to forgive past slights?

Overall, A Winter by the Sea is an excellent inspirational Regency novel with vivid characters, a great setting, and a pleasing story.  I highly recommend it.

Book Source:  Review copy from Bethany House as part of the Austenprose PR Book Tour. Thank-you!  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


·       Title: A Winter by the Sea

·       Series: On Devonshire Shores (Book 2)

·       Author: Julie Klassen

·       Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction

·       Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (December 5, 2023)

·       Length: (448) pages

·       Format: Trade Paperback, eBook, & Audiobook 

·       ISBN: 978-0764234286‎

·       Tour Dates: December 4 – 18, 2023



Royalty comes to Sidmouth, bringing unexpected danger and the sweet possibility of romance. . . .

When the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their daughter--the future Queen Victoria--rent neighboring Woolbrook Cottage for the winter, the Summers sisters are called upon to host three of the royal family's male staff in their seaside house. But they soon realize they've invited secrets and intrigue into their home.

Meanwhile, Emily Summers longs to become an author. A local publisher offers to consider her novel if she will first write a Sidmouth guidebook for him. Emily agrees and begins researching the area with help from the Duke of Kent's handsome private secretary. But a surprise visitor from her past shows up at Sea View, leaving Emily torn between the desires she's long held dear and her budding dreams for the future.

Return to the Devonshire coast with the Summers sisters, where loyalties are tested, secrets come to light, and new love emerges.


  • “Enlivened by historical details of the royal family’s 1819 visit to Devonshire, the narrative is propelled forward by an irrepressible protagonist whose spunk will easily win readers’ sympathy. This breezy and delightful installment is sure to satisfy Klassen’s fans.”— Publisher’s Weekly
  • A Winter by the Sea is a story about finding your purpose and realizing that the things we hope and pray for...might not always be the things we truly need…
    The On Devonshire Shores series is truly a delight.”— Lauren, The Books Script
  • “Julie Klassen has provided such a beautiful escape with this series…I can't wait to see what comes next in this series and will be highly anticipating book 3!!”— Tasha, Clean Read Book Club






Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold more than 1.5 million copies, and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing's Best Award and has been a finalist in the RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. She and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.



Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord by Celeste Connally


Title:  Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord

Author:  Celeste Connally

Narrated by:  Eilidh Beaton

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Length: Approximately 11 hours and 15 minutes

Source: Review Copy from NetGalley and Purchased from


What is your favorite type of tea?  I love black tea and it must be caffeinated.  I purchase looseleaf tea from TeaSource.  Some of my favorite flavors are Georgia Sunshine and Prairie Passion.

Lady Petra Forsyth is the daughter of an Earl living in Regency England.  After tragically losing the love of her life, she has declared herself a spinster.  This does not sit well with some people, such as her detestable Uncle who believes it is unnatural.  She believes she does not need to give up her freedom and wealth without finding true love.  One of Lady Petra’s friends dies suddenly, but her old servant is sure he saw the friend just the other day in London. This sparks Lady Petra’s curiosity, and she starts to investigate.  Lady Petra soon finds out that there are other missing women amongst the ton.  Where have they gone and why?

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord is full of a lot of interesting characters.  I liked Lady Petra’s headstrong ways and inquisitive nature.  Her childhood friend, Duncan, is a perfect foil for her.  I was confused about his place in society though as he was born on the wrong side of the blanket.  It didn’t seem to matter as much in this Regency world as it did in the real Regency world.  I loved his grandmother, the Duchess, and wish she would have been in the book more.  Street urchin Teddy and her lady’s maid, Annie, were also great characters. 

I was intrigued by the mystery and was dismayed when my audiobook copy from NetGalley stopped working at 27% into the book.  I had to purchase it from as I wanted to see where the mystery went and how it would end.  The mystery had a satisfying end and the overall book ended on a cliffhanger.  This is the first book in the Lady Petra Inquires series.  I will be reading the next book in the series.

Eilidth Beaton was a great narrator that gave personality to the different characters.  It was very enjoyable to listen to it while driving.

The storyline was feminist and had a lot of modern thinking about the place of women in society that would not have been prevalent in Regency England.  It reminded me of Enola Holmes in this sense.