Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Enchanted August: A Novel by Brenda Bowen

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book: Out in paperback on July 5th!

It’s an unusually rainy summer in Park Slope, Brooklyn, when Lottie Wilkinson and Rose Arbuthnot spot a battered index card on their children’s preschool bulletin board:
Hopewell Cottage
Little Lost Island, Maine.
Old pretty cottage to rent on a small Maine island.
Springwater, blueberries, sea glass.
Neither of them can afford to take a month away from their spouses and kids, but one look at Hopewell Cottage online and they are smitten. To share expenses, they find two unlikely companions to join them: Caroline Dester, the damaged, beautiful darling of the independent movie scene, and Beverly Fisher, a retiree recovering from a heartbreaking loss. Though they get off to a rocky start, soon the four begin to relax into island life. And, as the sea breeze works its magic, they rediscover the best versions of themselves, and find, to their surprise, that they can indeed be happy, and with the people they least expect.

my thoughts:

Talk about the perfect summer read! Enchanted August is about four lost souls who find themselves  sharing a beautiful cottage on an island named Little Lost Island - how apropos?

An updated version of the classic novel, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, Enchanted August provides a modern twist to the story.  In the original, its a foursome of British women who rent a villa in Italy, but this time round we have a group of Americans renting a cottage for the month  of August in Maine.  Oh, and the one named Beverly Fisher happens to be an elderly gentleman who misses the loves of his life - Sammy (the love of his life) and Possum (his beloved cat).  However, the heart of the original story remains true -  rediscovering your self.  Its about being selfish and taking the time to figure out what it is you want from your life.  And its about hope and love - the key ingredients everyone needs in their life. 

Lottie's marriage is not in a great place.  Her husband works all the time, they haven't had sex in a year, and she's tired of the distance in their relationship.  Her life is devoted to her son, Ethan, which is not such a good thing.  Why? Because, what about Lottie?  One rainy morning after dropping her kid off at school, she finds herself mesmerized by a notice on the message board on the wall - a piece of paper that reads:

Hopewell Cottage
Little Lost Island, Maine.
Old pretty cottage to rent on a small Maine island.
Springwater, blueberries, sea glass.

Suddenly, the answer is clear.  So, she turns to the mother nearby, who is also clearly in need of a month at Little Lost Island, and tells her that they need to go to Hopewell Cottage.  Rose (the woman Lottie was talking to) is too exhausted to pay much mind to Lottie, so she tells her she doesn't need to go anywhere and walks away for a meeting with the head of the school.  Life isn't as perfect as everyone thinks it is for Rose and her literary genius husband.  Nope, in fact, its far from happy.  And now, Rose has just learned that the school does not want her son to come back for the new school year - WTF!? She calls her husband to tell him the bad news, but isn't happy with his response and finds herself angry with him, her kid, and her self - Ack!! Walking home, she spots Lottie sitting in a coffee shop.  Without giving it much thought, she finds herself entering the coffee shop, marching up to Lottie's table and asking,"Please, can I just look at that place in Maine?". 

Soon, plans are set in motion, bags are packed, and the two women are driving up to their summer getaway.  They've decided to arrive a day early to check out the place before their two other roommates show up - Caroline and Beverly.  Of course, sometimes great minds think alike and the two women discover that both Caroline and Beverly have beat them to the punch.  Yep, rooms have been declared, coffee makers hoarded, and privacy boundaries have been set.  Seems like Hopewell Cottage has its work cut out, if its going to help this unhappy foursome find some peace (and a way to survive under the same roof). 

Enchanted August is a delightful and charming story that will have you flipping pages faster than you can spell the word "summer".  The writing is engaging, the characters relatable, and the story lines interesting and fun.  I found myself easily caught up in the drama, summer time clam bakes, enchanting island, and the hopeful tone of the story.  It was so much fun getting to know this motley crew - from their first awkward, unfriendly meeting to the final pages when they are all happy and loving with one another.  Its quite a transformation.  You can't help but wonder just how magical Hopewell Cottage really is. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Royal Nanny: A Novel by Karen Harper

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York. She is excited, exhausted—and about to meet royalty. . . .

So begins the unforgettable story of Charlotte Bill, who would care for a generation of royals as their parents never could. Neither Charlotte—Lala, as her charges dub her—nor anyone else can predict that eldest sons David and Bertie will each one day be king. Lala knows only that these children, and the four who swiftly follow, need her steadfast loyalty and unconditional affection.

But the greatest impact on Charlotte’s life is made by a mere bud on the family tree: a misunderstood soul who will one day be known as the Lost Prince. Young Prince John needs all of Lala’s love, the kind of love his parents won’t—or can’t—show him.

my thoughts:

Living in England all you would hear about was the royal family and I loved it.  It was such fun to read about at the time, especially as Kate and Prince William were dating.  One couldn't help but get caught up in all the stories surrounding their romance. It was addictive!  I even watched their wedding on the telly - how could I not? And now they are parents to two adorable kids - talk about happily ever after.  Of course, I know that they are real people living their lives, but just like everyone else interested in the royal family, you can't help but wonder what their lives are really like. Truth be told, you can't help but wonder what the lives are like for the people that work for them as well.   Imagine everything they are privy to behind closed doors - the possibilities are beyond overwhelming.   Thanks to Harper's novel, The Royal Nanny, we get a peek behind the scenes.

This is the story of Charlotte Bill, aka Lala, nanny to King George V's children.  Through Harper's thorough research, we learn the history of the time period, politics, and livelihood of the royal family and their servants.  Its sort of historical fiction with a Downton Abbey twist - that was my first thought as I read about Lala's encounter with the children's nurse, Mrs. Peters.  It just had the feel of a scene from DA, which I loved!  I think that's why I enjoyed this book so much - the history mixed with the fiction was just so well done that you could easily imagine it unfolding right before your eyes.   Harper's vivid details are rich and engrossing, you can't help but get caught up in the story.  This young woman who sacrificed so much  (love, children of her own, her family, a private life) all so she could rear these royal children.  Its rather heartbreaking if you think about it.  Then again, the love she had for her charges, well, it was as if they were her own children.  Lala's heart is huge and she feels quite a duty to follow through with her job, regardless of what it entails and how long the job will last.  Lala feels a responsibility not only to the royal family, but also to her country.  Its beyond patriotic and loyal, but its Lala through and through.  And that is all I will say. I know I haven't written much about the story, but I just feel that you need to experience it for your self.  Its just so darn good!

The Royal Nanny was such a treat to read. I absolutely loved it! I enjoyed the history, the drama, the royals, and Lala. I would happily recommend this book to fans of historical fiction - you will LOVE this story to bits!!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Royal Nanny
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Tote Bag Giveaway to Celebrate #5PeculiarYears


What a fun and exciting way to celebrate the 5th year anniversary of Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children!! 

You know the story:(from Goodreads)

"A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive."

How amazing does that sound, eh?  I know that I enjoyed reading the story and flipping through the photos - talk about a terrific reading experience!  I'm actually planning on re-reading the book before the film version comes out this September.  I want to get  reacquainted with Jacob, Emma, and the other peculiar children before I see them on the big screen. 

Check out the film's trailer:

Pretty cool, eh?  I can't wait to see it!

As for Quirk Books' celebration of the 5th year anniversary - I am loving it! Its so much fun seeing all of the fan art being created - they are all pretty peculiar pieces.  Plus, I get to give away one of the 
awesome tote bags that Quirk Books has created for this celebration: 
 How cool is that tote bag? I know that I'm loving mine. I use it to cart around books in my car - that way I always have something to read. To enter the giveaway for a tote bag, just leave me a comment and remember to include your email address.  Open to US residents only.  Last date to enter will be July1st.  Good luck!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Little Is Left To Tell by Steven Hendricks

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Little Is Left to Tell is the haunting novel by master fabulist Steven Hendricks. Enter a nocturnal world where the unreal is seen on a liminal horizon of fading memory, illuminated by partial understanding and lyrical fictions. Virginia the Wolf writes her last novel to lure her daughter home. A rabbit named Hart Crane must eat words to speak, while passing zeppelins drop bombs. Mr. Fin tries to read the past in marginalia and to rebuild his son from boat parts. A novel that bridges between dreamscape and reality, Little Is Left to Tell is entrancing and enthralling.

“In Little is Left to Tell one scene is quietly illuminated and then that illumination glides to the next, equally quiet and wondrous. Like a dream that inhabits an entire life, even a life of reading, this is a deeply rich and surprising novel.” — Amina Cain, author of Creature

“A tale about the ravages of old age, the weight of the past and bunny rabbits. Debut novelist Hendricks tries to apply the whimsical mood of fairy tales to the mildly experimental fiction at play here, and he largely succeeds despite the grim nature of his story. …A vivid story that uses the language and metaphors of myth to reflect on the unkind nature of age and perception.” — Kirkus Reviews

my thoughts:

What a smart, beautiful story! I absolutely LOVED Hendricks' novel, Little Is Left To Tell - it was AMAZING!!  Here's what I loved:
  • The writing was beyond excellent. It was emotional, powerful, and beautiful. I enjoyed immersing myself in it tremendously.  
  • The stories intertwine - bunnies and Mr. Fin.  One minute you are reading about an elderly man with dementia grieving his son and then suddenly its all about the bunnies. How brilliant is that? Believe me, it is.
  • The disjointed feel of the story is difficult at first, and distracting at times.  However, you find yourself easily adjusting to these abrupt transitions in the story rather quickly.  Plus, I thought it was a clever way to show us what someone experiencing memory loss has to deal with - the way their mind must work jumping from one thought to another, because they are losing memories left and right.  It almost reads like a stream of consciousness, which I found to be rather illuminating.
  • Using the characters to introduce literary icons like Woolf and Hemingway added such depth and whimsy to the story.
  • Loss and grief were the big themes and the manner in which Hendricks' threaded them  throughout his story was creative to a tee. 
  • Never knowing what time period or who's viewpoint we are reading about begged the question, "Is this real?".  I loved trying to figure out what was truly happening with Mr. Fin - it made for such an emotional reading experience.  
  • This is definitely a hard book to summarize.  Just know that its wonderfully written, mesmerizing, and provides plenty of food for thought.  
I would happily recommend Little Is Left To Tell to anyone looking for a unique reading experience - you will not be disappointed! 

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Little Is Left To Tell
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s ultimate edition of his wildly successful first novel featuring his “preferred text”—and including his special Neverwhere tale, “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back”

Published in 1997, Neverwhere heralded the arrival of a major talent and became a touchstone of urban fantasy. Over the years, a number of versions were produced both in the U.S. and the U.K. Now Gaiman’s preferred edition of his classic novel reconciles these works and reinstates a number of scenes cut from the original published books.

Richard Mayhew is a young London businessman with a good heart whose life is changed forever when he stops to help a bleeding girl—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed. Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying.

my thoughts:

I finally understand why everyone is always raving about Neil Gaiman - his stories are just magical.  Or at least, Neverwhere was. Yep, I finally read one of his fiction books and found myself completely smitten with his writing, creativity, and talent for storytelling. Talk about falling in love with a new author - I am hooked!

Neverwhere is about an "everyman" named Richard Mayhew who finds himself in London Below after helping an injured woman named Door.  He finds himself in a new reality that is far different than London Above, where his job, apartment, and girlfriend Jessica reside.  Apparently, by helping Door so much, he's no longer able to be seen by the people of London Above.  So, he sets out to find Door in this new, mysterious place and figure out a way to get back home.  Of course, nothing is at it seems in this dark and mythical land; and Richard quickly realizes that getting home is not going to be an easy feat.  As adventures abound, he finds himself caught up in Door's mission to find out who killed her family.  Monsters are fought, allies are made, and so much more happens in this fantastical gem filled with quirky, oddball characters.  It was so much fun to read.  I absolutely loved this book! It almost felt like a fairy tale with its whimsical overtones, but then its shadowy, wicked side would emerge and add a sinister tinge to things; thereby shifting the story from fairy tale to fantasy.  I found that I didn't want the story to end.  I wanted more!

I would happily recommend this book to anyone looking for a sharp, engaging, and entertaining read - you will not be disappointed!  I know that I can't wait to read more of Gaiman's unputdownable books.

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Neverwhere
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!