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.

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

The Carpathian Assignment by Chip Wagar

The Carpathian Assignment: The True History of the Apprehension and Death of Dracula Vlad Tepes, Count and Voivode of the Principality of TransylThe Carpathian Assignment: The True History of the Apprehension and Death of Dracula Vlad Tepes, Count and Voivode of the Principality of Transyl by Chip Wagar

Kalvary Istvan, widower and former Hungarian cavalry colonel, hopes for a quiet life when he accepts the position of chief of police in the Carpathian city of Bistritz. It’s no less than a man deserves after years of service to his Kaiser and king. Sadly, Istvan’s going to be disappointed. Someone or something haunts the streets of Bistritz and the surrounding Transylvanian mountains. Ask Istvan’s new colleague, Gabor Kasza of the Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie, and he’d say evidence points to a well-established serial killer, possibly hidden among the oppressed and reviled Roma, who call the nearby Borgo Pass home. Ask Freudian devotee Baron Krafft-Ebing and he’d agree, although his interest lies more in studying the psychopath’s mind than bringing him to justice. Ask the mountain people of the Carpathians, however, and they’d disagree. They’d point to the long history of killings and disappearances in the region, which stretch back longer than any one man’s lifetime. They’d speak in hushed voices of the Roma’s supposed master, and an abandoned castle where he lives with his demonic wives. The bravest residents might even risk whispering a name: Dracula. Kalvary Istvan, like Kasza and Krafft-Ebing, considers himself a modern nineteenth-century man, with little time for legends and superstitions, but as he and Kasza pursue their investigation, reason and deduction begin to give way to dark, ancient truths and local belief. At once a thrilling detective yarn and intriguing backstory to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Carpathian Assignment immerses readers in the rich setting of the Hungarian kingdom at the end of the nineteenth century, a nation in which science and logic clash with centuries of cultural conviction and superstition.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So…this is possibly the best sort-of-Dracula-like-book I have ever read. It is also possibly the worst ARC copy that I have ever bloody seen. Through no fault of the author, there are large chunks of text missing and most of the beginnings of each paragraph. The Final copy, of course will not look like this, so it is of no real concern to the final book readers, but I would have felt bad if I didn’t mention that there were parts of the book I did not get to read.

As far as the story goes, this is very well written and has the historical backing that most books of the sort completely lack. It is obvious that Chip Wagar is familiar with the geography of the places he writes about as well as the historical matter. This was a nice change from many books that simply have Dracula featured as a bloodthirsty vampire.

This story progressed nicely and at a good clip, with lots of mysteries to be solved and a villain that did not simply skulk off into hiding or get defeated at the drop of a….wooden stake. I liked that the historical angle was used to back up the story and flesh it out.

The only thing that irked me about this novel, were the sex scenes. It wasn’t that they were poorly written, but they seemed misplaced, as though they were an afterthought. People have been dying for years due to this monster, we should have sex! Really, it just didn’t work for me.

An entertaining romp into the remote Carpathian wilds, exciting for a girl from Romania. If you are interested in the historical Dracula, then you will likely enjoy this novel.

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

The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen

The Night Garden: A NovelThe Night Garden: A Novel by Lisa Van Allen

For fans of Sarah Addison Allen, Aimee Bender, and Alice Hoffman, The Night Garden is a luminous novel of love, forgiveness, and the possibilities that arise when you open your heart.
 
Nestled in the bucolic town of Green Valley in upstate New York, the Pennywort farm appears ordinary, yet at its center lies something remarkable: a wild maze of colorful gardens that reaches beyond the imagination. Local legend says that a visitor can gain answers to life’s most difficult problems simply by walking through its lush corridors.

Yet the labyrinth has never helped Olivia Pennywort, the garden’s beautiful and enigmatic caretaker. She has spent her entire life on her family’s land, harboring a secret that forces her to keep everyone at arm’s length. But when her childhood best friend, Sam Van Winkle, returns to the valley, Olivia begins to question her safe, isolated world and wonders if she at last has the courage to let someone in. As she and Sam reconnect, Olivia faces a difficult question: Is the garden maze that she has nurtured all of her life a safe haven or a prison?

Praise for Lisa Van Allen’s The Wishing Thread
 
“Reader to reader, knitter to knitter: You’re going to love this book.”—Debbie Macomber

“Whimsical . . . great for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman.”Library Journal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So many things to love about this book, it is hard to know where to begin. This story begins ordinarily enough, but as the pages turn, you find yourself getting further invested in a story where magic blooms just as the flowers do in the garden that is central to the story.

The characters that Lisa Van Allen creates in this novel are the kind that you will not soon forget. Long after finishing the story they will stay by your side, as if they have become old friends.

Magical realism is not always my favourite thing in stories, as sometimes it goes so over the top that it is difficult to relate to, but in this case, the author struck a beautiful balance of friendship, warmth and nature-based magic that made this not only enjoyable, but a beautiful way to transport yourself from one place into another.

This is an excellent story, is beautifully written and very original. A wonderful rainy day read.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out this book yet, please do so. It’s an excellent read.

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

Botticelli’s Bastard

Botticelli's BastardBotticelli’s Bastard by Stephen Maitland-Lewis

Art restorer Giovanni Fabrizzi is haunted by an unsigned renaissance portrait. Obsessed to learn the truth of its origin, he becomes increasingly convinced the painting could be the work of one of history’s greatest artists, which if true, would catapult its value to the stratosphere. But in learning of the painting’s past, he is faced with a dilemma. He believes the portrait was stolen during the greatest art heist in history — the Nazi plunder of European artwork. If true and a surviving relative of the painting’s rightful owner were still alive, Giovanni, in all good conscience, would have to give up the potential masterpiece. His obsession with the portrait puts a strain on his new marriage, and his son thinks his father has lost his mind for believing an unremarkable, unsigned painting could be worth anyone’s attention. Regardless, Giovanni persists in his quest of discovery and exposes far more truth than he ever wanted to know.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Botticelli’s Bastard” is not your typical dry and boring historical/art world fiction novel. It begins with a character wondering if he is losing his mind, and for a long time you aren’t sure if he is or if he is actually perfectly sane and just under strange circumstances. Love books like that.

In this case, Stephen Maitland-Lewis has brought us a main character that we can both identify with for his daily stresses and care about, and given him a life in modern times that is closely connected to the past of many years ago through his highly specialised job. As an art restorer, Giovanni is trusted with some of the world’s finest art pieces, but it is not until he runs across an unsigned painting, supposedly by Botticelli that everything changes for him.

Want more? Have to read the book. I liked this novel for a variety of reasons. The author never lost sight of his plot or his main story line, but managed to incorporate both the many tales of the portrait and stay historically accurate to the time periods he described as well as keeping the life and happenings of his modern character believable.

The Count is brash and egotistical, just as one would expect him to be. I thought the author did a wonderful job with this book, making it both entertaining and oddly addicting.

As for the ending, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

If you like historical novels or are into the art world, then this book will give you more than a few smiles. Recommended.

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