Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward

Treasure on Lilac Lane (Jewell Cove, #2)Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the beginning, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous in the series, but that changed soon enough. Within a few chapters I was happily settled back into Jewell Cove and loving this story.

Once again, Donna Alward reminded me why she has become one of my very favourite authors. Her characters are heartfelt and her story is captivating, bringing together everything you want in a romance as well as a small town atmosphere that allows you to feel close to the characters. She handles tough subject matter such as death and addiction with grace.

In this story some of the characters from the previous book take centre stage, whereas before they were supporting cast. I love the way this author connects her characters through more than just family relationships and friendships. Through the use of common places, the local diner, the jobs the characters do and the course life takes them in, they develop bonds with one another and with the reader.

I am looking forward to seeing what she does next. Recommended for those who like depth in their stories and want to feel like they are part of something special.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Seeing the Dead by Sheila Connolly

Seeing the Dead (Relatively Dead Mysteries Book 2)Seeing the Dead by Sheila Connolly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are a fan of history/paranormal then this is a book series that will likely appeal to you on many levels. Once more, Sheila Connolly proves that she can take the ordinary world and create characters that make it seem extraordinary.

This was a fun book to read with a lot of historical accuracy and interesting plot twists for the main character to face. I didn’t feel like the main character knew where she was headed relationship-wise throughout most of this though. Her intent with Ned was often confusing, although that may have been intentional on the part of the author.

I like that the author uses family lineage as the base of her story and connects her characters on so many levels. The setting is easy to visualise and feel part of.

This was a good book that I was able to read through quickly and get a lot of enjoyment from. If you are looking for some light reading that will make you smile and even laugh out loud, Sheila Connolly has a book for you.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Lincoln’s Gamble by Todd Brewster

Lincoln's Gamble: How the Emancipation Proclamation Changed the Course of the Civil WarLincoln’s Gamble: How the Emancipation Proclamation Changed the Course of the Civil War by Todd Brewster

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In “Lincoln’s Gamble,” Todd Brewster has shown us a portrait of a man who has been idolised and also commonly misjudged and shows the type of political genius he truly was.

I appreciated that this book did not focus simply on the life and death of the former president, but really dug down deep and showed the tough decisions the man had to face and the way he rose to become one of the most recognisable political figures in American history.

The picture the author painted of Lincoln was less about the author’s own feelings toward Lincoln and more derived from historical documents. He did an excellent job of making this book seem less like rigid non-fiction and more like a story of a man who lived through and was at the centre of some of the most monumental decisions of our time.

However, if you are already familiar with the events surrounding the Emancipation Proclamation and how Lincoln came to write it, this will not offer a lot of new information for you. In the way of Lincoln books, of which there are many, this is a good one. Still, I had hoped for a bit more detail in some respects.

A good book for those interested in history and the 16th president.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Ripper’s wife by Brandy Purdy

The Ripper's WifeThe Ripper’s Wife by Brandy Purdy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

James Maybrick was an interesting choice to set a story around, although this book actually focused more on the life of Florence than James himself for much of the latter half, and of course this was expected based on the title of the book.

Whether you are a staunch Ripperologist or just looking for some entertainment, this book does that, but be warned you need a strong countenance to tolerate the graphic nature of the story, especially the diary entries.

Whether you believe that James Maybrick was simply a misunderstood (delusional)cotton mogul or he actually had any connection to the ripper case, this book will nearly make you believe he did, and was in fact the prime suspect.

Did I like this book? Tough question to answer. I thought the author did a fabulous job researching and putting together a plausible story where the dates and figures weren’t far off from the reality. She filled in the cracks and crevices imaginatively and in ways that supported her plot. But does that mean I liked it–well, no.

I find it hard to identify with a book (especially containing historical landmark crimes or people) when the characters are not likable. I could not find a single person in this book that was able to draw me in and make me feel a bit of empathy for them. Florie was a spoiled brat and James Maybrick was a repugnant rich fool without a care for anyone else around him, even on a good day. The children were pointless entities for much of the latter half of the story and could turn cold or hot depending on which way the tap knob was twisted.

I will give credit where credit us due though. This author managed to use more four letter expletives in a single book than I have ever seen before, including ****, ****, and ****. All in a neat little row. If you are bothered by the use of words that are derogatory to females then you could have a feminist rant to end all rants after this book. Although, I am particularly fond of the word ****.

What I did like–the author has clearly read the supposed diary of Mr. Maybrick and has based her story not only off of said research, but also included finer details of the murders that are not tied to just one suspect. I liked that she gave the women histories and personalities which made their murders seem that much more sad and senseless. She gave the people faces and hearts (which sadly were sometimes removed) and made the reader feel as if they were walking back through time to witness events that have been glossed over in years gone by.

Brandy Purdy is a good writer with a strength in storytelling. She writes history as if it were happening right this minute and makes her readers feel a sense of duty, to complete the book and find the answers. There were times during the reading of this book that I felt a bit ill, times when I wanted to slap a character or two and times when I was shocked by the graphic nature (that takes a lot with me, forensic pathology being my course of study) but overall, she made me feel something, and that is more than can be said for a lot of authors and a lot of books.

Recommended for those with strong stomachs.

Book Tour: Gideon Lee by Lisa Orchard

GideonLee 500x750Blurb:  Seventeen-year-old Lark Singer only has two things going for her, her music and her best friend Bean. While entering a competition she hopes will launch their music career, Lark searches for answers that will make her whole. Her quest reveals some secrets that those around her would rather keep hidden. As the competition looms closer, Lark discovers not only who she really is, but also who her real friends are. Then tragedy threatens everything she has worked so hard to accomplish. Can she pick up the pieces and move on?

Excerpt:

Chapter One

I want to be like Gideon Lee. My lips move as I read the title of my essay. They twitch as I stifle a snicker. Looking around the room, I make sure no one has seen my facial tic. My eyes light upon the Presidents’ pictures lined up on the wall. They face me, each with a unique expression, and I wonder what they were thinking while they posed. They are above the clock so my gaze naturally falls on it. It’s almost time for lunch.

I settle back in my seat and my lips twitch again. A feeling of defiant exhilaration washes over me like a tidal wave.

Montgomery’s going to freak when he reads this.

Despite my best efforts, a giggle escapes and the boy in front of me turns around and gives me the evil eye. I return the glare. He is slumped over, and sweat beads on his upper lip. I think this is odd — it’s rather chilly in the room — but dismiss it before I turn back to my essay.

I bet old man Montgomery doesn’t even know who Gideon Lee is. This thought sends another giggle to the surface, but I quickly squash it by biting my lip.

I picture him searching Gideon Lee’s name on the Internet. I see his expression changing from confusion to disgust. I imagine him taking off his black, thick-rimmed glasses and shaking his head. I hear him mutter, “Lark Singer, what are you doing?” He rubs his face. I can actually hear the rough sandpapery sound as his hand finds his day old stubble. He sighs and puts his glasses back on. “What am I going to do with you?”

I remember when Mr. Montgomery first told us about the assignment. We were supposed to write an essay on someone we admire, someone who has contributed to society in some way. I know when he says this he wants us to write about an a historical figure. After all this is history class, but I raised my hand anyway.

“Lark,” he called out as he stood at his lectern.

“Do they have to be dead?”

He cocked his head as he studied me with his piercing blue eyes. Then he ran his hand over his military style crew cut, and I watched as his salt and pepper hair flattened then popped back into place as if each hair was standing at attention. I could tell he wasn’t sure where this was going. “Well… I guess not.” That’s when he froze, as if he realized he had just opened a door for me and he wasn’t going to like what was on the other side. He shifted his weight, and looked down at the floor before he backpedaled. “But they have to have made a positive contribution to society. It can’t be about a mobster or anything like that.” Pursing his lips, he stared at me, fiddling with those glasses. “This is one half of your semester grade, Lark. I wouldn’t pull any funny stuff.”

“Oh, I won’t. Scout’s honor,” I answered sweetly, placing my hand over my heart and giving him the scout salute, while inside I planned my rebellion.

I have him. I’m going to write about Gideon Lee, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

 20111210_ABS_1296[1]Author Bio: 

Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. Hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade, she even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first series, The Super Spies,” has reached bestseller status

  After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree, she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side. The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, shes working on a Coming of Age Young Adult series called The Starlight Chronicles. When shes not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Guest Review: Abe Lincoln Public Enemy No. 1

My lovely friend and fellow book lover Pamela

has agreed to share her thoughts on “Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No. 1.  It’s a great review from a trusted reader. Check out the review and check out the book. Looks like fun!

 

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WATCH THE TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiiiOh…

When John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln with a bullet cursed by the notorious Chicken Man, a local voodoo practitioner, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events extending far into the future. Instead of killing Lincoln, the bullet puts the president into a coma for sixty-eight years, his body remaining limber and ageless. When he awakens in 1933, Abe Lincoln is a man out of time, a revered icon…and a political pariah. FDR and J. Edgar Hoover not only do not want him around, they want him to retire. But their plan to be rid of him backfires and Lincoln is on the run, a fugitive from justice.

Determined to reach Chicago and retrieve the small fortune left in trust for him by his long-dead son, Lincoln discovers that Hoover has confiscated all his money, leaving him destitute. With Bureau of Investigation agent Melvin Purvis in hot pursuit, Lincoln finds his way to a hobo camp where he befriends a young runaway, who agrees to accompany the former president back to Washington. There Lincoln hopes that Hannah Wheelhouse, the Chicken Man’s granddaughter, can help him find the peace he longs for.

Then fate deals Lincoln another strange hand when he and the boy end up as hostages to infamous bank robber John Dillinger. Instead of leaving them by the side of the road after the robbery, Dillinger takes a liking to Lincoln and invites him to join the gang, promising him he’ll get all his money back.

Will Lincoln survive long enough to recapture his fortune and get away, or will he be hunted down in a manner unbefitting a martyred President?

In Brian Anthony and Bill Walker’s inventive and entertaining novel, history gets a work-out, the action is flat-out, and almost everyone gets rubbed-out!

–From Goodreads

 

Pamela’s Review:

 

It’s a bit risky to take historical figures and events and create a new reality, but factor in that the historical figure is a beloved and highly respected one and you have the recipe for a potential disaster. In this case though, the disaster was averted with good writing and a compelling story.

I’m a fan of all things Lincoln so I was curious how this story would play out. The book started out with the facts of Lincoln’s assassination, embellished with a bit of voodoo magic. In a nutshell, Lincoln ends up in a coma instead of dead. Rather than tell the American people the truth, he is allowed to live asleep…for 70 years, without aging.

Once Lincoln wakes up, his adventures begin. FDR was President and J. Edgar Hoover was in charge of damage control. Honest Abe meets a boy and they begin a life on the road trying to avoid being hunted down by Hoover and his men. There were a couple of places where the story seemed to skip some crucial information.

The paranormal aspect of this book requires the reader to suspend reality. While I was able to look past many things, it still felt like a story. When I read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter I was able to actually believe this is what could have happened. With Public Enemy, there was never any doubt this was just a story.

There were passages where Lincoln would say and do things that were in keeping with his historical self. Then there were others where it was too far fetched to be Lincoln as we know him.

I wasn’t happy with the ending of the book. Not like it didn’t end the way I wanted it to end, but it just felt incomplete. It was almost like the authors ran out of steam and gave up.

The book was entertaining and well written, however. I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys a little history sprinkled into their reading. The best line in the book was when Abe was told he should shave his beard so he wouldn’t be as recognizable, “You can’t go around lookin’ like a penny, Mr. Lincoln.” Four out of five stars.

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane AustenFirst Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett

A thrilling literary mystery co-starring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield.  Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is certainly a book that will pique the interest of Jane Austen Admirer’s as well as warm the heart of bibliophiles. It is a book very much about books, but also has an unexpected mystery at its core.

As a love story, I enjoyed this book for the fact that it showed many different facets of love, not just the romantic type that readers usually encounter.

Charlie Lovett is good with words. He knows how to bend them and craft them carefully until he has chosen just the right ones. This was true in his first book, and now again in his second. He seems to understand what we as readers, want to see in a character and a story and ensure that we do not leave disappointed.

I found myself caught up in this novel quickly and was more than pleased with it overall. Both of the stories were interesting and the way the author co-mingled the past and the present was sheer talent.

I’d definitely recommend this book to other book lovers.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley, all opinions are my own.

View all my reviews