It has been a while since I have posted some actual book reviews and I am super excited to share what I have been reading so far in 2017! I have recently joined a couple of book reviewing companies and have received enough material to give me a huge head start on my READ50 challenge. Although my reviews are posted on Goodreads, Chapters/Indigo and Amazon, I also wanted to share them with my fellow bloggers. One of my goals for 2017 is to try to post at least once a week on this READ50 blog. Several of the books you will find here are soon to be published; watch for them upcoming if you need a book recommendation!
Two books I am looking forward to reading this year in particular are A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn (Pub. 10 January 2017) and The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal (Expected Publication 08 August 2017).
A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner (Expected Publication 14 March 2017)
A Bridge Across the Ocean is a refreshing and intriguing read. Historical Fiction books can often have predictable plots but Susan Meissner’s newest book is far from traditional WWII fiction. The story has strong believable heroines and has a hint of the supernatural.
Brette Caslake is a just a regular woman who tries hard to hide her ability to see ghosts and “Drifters”. Brette’s journey leads her to the RMS Queen Mary ship which instigates a hunt to discover the truth on a death which occurred on one sailing of War Brides to the United States. Simone Deveraux and Annaliese Lange both struggle to survive their own horrors as they live through WWII and find themselves both onboard the same voyage of the RMS Queen Mary to the United States. Brette tried to unravel the truth behind Simone and Annaliese’s voyage across the ocean and help her elusive “Drifter” find peace.
A Bridge Across the Ocean is a complex tale of survival and it can be powerful and emotional at times. I would highly recommend this book to those who love complex historical and WWII fiction novels.
I would also like to thank NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an advanced reading of this book.
The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal (Maggie Hope Mystery, #6)
This recent installment of the Maggie Hope Series is packed full of drama, tensions and dangers. The setting is War time London and we get a glimpse of how scary and dark London could be for women at that time. On one hand women were given freedoms during this time in history that they otherwise were not privy to but on the other hand there were still those fighting for normalcy and traditional beliefs that a woman’s place is in the home. Maggie Hope shines in this novel, bursting with feminine determination. She does not want to let her gender or career path hold her back and at every turn she asserts her authority. My personal hope for the next book in the series The Paris Spy is that Maggie has some time to relax so she is not consumed by the darkness and death going on around her; at some point I hope her luck with relationships changes.
The May Queen by Helen Irene Young (Expected publication April 25, 2017)
May is a unique, spirited and adventurous heroine. She comes across as not being afraid of anything. This is a story of a young May discovering herself amidst the death and destruction happening in the world around her. I found the writing style very hard to engage in for at least the first half of the book. By the time the War was raging around her, May seemed to become more real and the story became easier to translate. Through her War efforts, May is able to develop relationships, discover her individuality and begin to form her own opinions of the world. The May Queen is not an easy read but I will definitely remember the story and its quirkiness. From my critical opinion, I think the ambiguity and abstract writing found in the first half of the book might lead people to give up on the story before its completion.
I want to thank NetGalley and Crooked Cat Publishing for an advanced copy reading of this book.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Sophie Kinsella has created another quirky and out of the box heroine. Katie is definitely different from many of the other characters in Kinsella’s other novels; she is not quite as wild, eccentric and clumsy as the others. In addition, Katie doesn’t seem to “fall” into things by chance but deliberately goes out to make a name for herself, wanting to climb the social and business ladders that she knows exist. I will say that I did miss some of the self depreciating humour that is so evident in Kinsella’s other novels. I wished Katie was a bit more embarrassing, had a few more BIG mistakes and at least one or two “I can’t imagine how humiliating that would be” moments. On the other hand, she IS different and I can appreciate the value in not creating the same type of characters over and over again.
The one character in who did disappoint me was Alex. At first I love his spontaneous and fun vibe but he sort of lost that as the story went on and in the end came across as just needing to be constantly uplifted emotionally.
There were too many gaps in the romance for me to make me give it a 5 star for that alone, but I enjoyed the book so much that overall I think it deserves a 5. It was a super fun read and I would definitely recommend it!
Beneath the Cypress Tree by Margaret Pemberton (Expected Publication 23 March 2017)
Beneath the Cypress Tree is a story of three young British women desiring adventure and to make a name for themselves in the world of Archeology. I love the concept behind this book but it has too many flaws for me to give it better than a 2 star out of 5. For the first half we really don’t get to the heart of each of the three main heroines (Ella, Kate and Daphne) and most of what the reader does learn is second-hand information. Kate writes letters to Daphne discussing Ella’s budding relationship with a Greek national and Ella writes letters to Daphne giving hints at Kate’s secret interest in the Archeological dig director Lewis. I love the information about the archeological digs but as a reader I am still not sure what was the central conflict; is the basis of the novel supposed to be the characters’ romances, the archeological digs or something else?
From my opinion this novel should be two separate stories; it is long enough to be cut down on pages but also there is a division in the plot between what happens before and after the war. Just when it feels like the conflicts should be coming to some sort of resolution and end, instead the story takes a huge 360 degree turn and focuses on the war and politics etc. I do not understand how the war fits in with the first half of the novel at all. The second half of the book also gets confusing really quickly. There are so many things going on it is a hard to keep track of where people are and who they are with. I still do not really understand how most of the characters manage to survive through the German attack on Crete and find each other again. Neither are some of the coincidences very believable. Ella’s ex-fiance, Sam, really doesn’t need to come to Crete and somehow see Kate and he doesn’t add anything more to the story.
All in all, I wanted to like this book but I lost interest half way through when I was expecting some sort of conclusion.
I appreciate being given the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book and want to thank the publisher Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for the opportunity.
The Worthington Wife by Sharon Page
The Worthington Wife past expectations for me. I was expecting a fluffy historical romance but it was more than that with mystery and suspense. Julia Hazelton, the heroine, is energetic, kind-hearted but also a risk taker. As the new Earl of Worthington, Cal Carstairs defiant character also fit naturally into the story but he did brood a bit too much about his past mistakes. Julia and Cal struggle to see eye to eye. Julia wants Cal to take on his new role as Earl and make some much-needed changes to his estates and tenants. Cal wants to sell off the estate and pay back his relatives for the poor treatment he received growing up. Between their very different personalities and upbringings, Julia and Cal struggle with their obvious chemistry, each trying to win out their own agenda for the other person. The book was longer than I was anticipating but it kept me engaged and had a good pace. I did wish Zoe was in the plot a bit more as she connects the reader to the last book An American Duchess . Julia’s desire to help widows by funding small business was admirable but could have been developed throughout the plot in more detail. I give it a 5 star because I was captivated throughout the entire novel and didn’t find any major faults. I would definitely recommend this book!
Unrequited Alice by Sarah Louise Smith (Estimated Publication 16 March 2017)
Unrequited Alice is a fun and lighthearted book, a great summer great. I will admit it took me a good while to get into this book and I thought the first 3-5 pages spent too much time on Alice’s love for best friend’s fiancé. Overall the tone of the book is the same throughout and the conflict doesn’t seem to change either.
Alice is heartbroken that her best friend Hannah is marrying Ed, a man who Alice also happens to be in love with. On a last girls weekend away in Niagara Falls, CA, Alice and her friends meet a group of 4 guys who they immediately connect with. Alice feels like she is not ready for any new relationships until she can get Ed out of her thoughts but then finds herself drawn to Toby, one of the men she meets in Niagara Falls. Toby also went on holidays with his own baggage and he and Alice earn each other’s respect but find themselves struggling to keep their relationship just at the friendship level.
I feel like this story has been told before in many varieties so I give it a 3 out 5 stars. If I had any major judgement of it, it would be that the novel could be half the length it is and still tell the same story. However, Unrequited Alice was an enjoyable and lighthearted read and would be a great book to pickup to take on holidays or to the beach.
I also want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher Crooked Cat for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the book.
A Wish Come True by Kolet Janssen (Expected Publication 13 June 2017)
I thought this book was awesome. Mark is a child whose life is different from many other children but the author is able to keep the story light-hearted and fun. Mark does consider wishing for things like ice cream etc. which would be the natural answer of any young child but he is able to see past his own satisfaction and wish for something that would help others. I did like how the story doesn’t focus too strongly on Mark’s illness and allows Mark to dream big. Many children dream of being firemen or policemen when they grow up and I think the story would be relatable and exciting for children. I saw the importance of having the Make-A-Wish information at the end; people are able to learn more about the foundation and know how to support it if they can. I wouldn’t hesitate to read this book to my children.
I also want to thank the publisher Clavis and NetGalley for the opportunity to have a free advanced reading of this book.
Princess Lila Builds a Tower by Anne Paradis (Expected Publication 16 May 2017)
Princess Lila is an excited and energetic princess who dreams big. She has everything needs but Lila is still not happy. She is forbidden to enter the forest and so she decides to build a tower that is taller than not only the castle but also the forest.
I read this story to my 5-year-old daughter who was interested in the story right away because of the wonderful drawings and the hopes of discovering a new princess that she has not heard of before. My daughter loved the story but did begin to be distracted and uninterested about half way through the book. The lull in the middle part of the book however did not distract her completely and by the end of the story she was still waiting for more pages!
Any children’s book which can entertain my 5-year-old from start to finish deserves at least a 4 star in my opinion. If I have any advice to the publisher/author it would be to somehow put some sort of conflict in the middle of the story to keep the attention of young kids but otherwise it was a good read!
Also, I’d like to thank NetGalley and Chouette Publishing-CrackBoom for a free Kindle edition of the book to review.
Thanks for following my READ50 and Happy Reading!