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The Roses Underneath by C. F. Yetmen

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In 1945 a war-torn Germany struggles to get a foot hold on some sort of stability.  Anna Klein and her six-year-old daughter Amalia are among those struggling as well.  Separated from her husband for their own safety, Anna finds herself working for the US Army’s Monuments Men as they search for art and other stolen treasures.  When it is discovered that Anna speaks English, she is recruited as a translator for American Captain Henry Cooper, a laid back man who likes opportunities to bend the rules.  When a mysterious stash of art is found, secrets are created causing Anna to question where the truth really does lie and look closely at the secrets she herself keeps….

 

 

The Roses Underneath is one of those books that you want to read slowly and cherish as one would a favorite candy.  Savoring each word as it dissolves into the next.  Reading this book caused me to slow down and really take it all in, which is not always the case in my reading style.  I often find myself reading fast paced books that flow with activity and crackle with adrenaline.  I was pleased when I started this read and found that this was a book that I needed to take my time with.

I am careful when I choose to read a book that involves war.  I tend to become so engrossed in the heaviness of the subject that I usually choose to pass on these books.  Yet there was something that called to me about The Roses Underneath that caused me to take a chance on it and I am glad I did.  Anna was a protagonist that I found myself hoping for things to turn out well. 

I enjoyed this book, even if it did make me slow down and well… smell the roses. :)

The In Between Hours by Barbara Claypole White

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When bestselling author Will Shepard’s young son is killed in a tragic car accident, Will is left with a tremendous amount of grief that he can not seem to get out from under.  As Will’s aging father memory fades, Will uses his talent of writing to rewrite the truth.  Amazingly enough, the fictional version of Will’s life brings relief that he never expected. 

Hannah Linden rents a cottage next to where Will and his dad lives.  Hannah comes with her own cross to bear as she deals with her grown sons struggles.  As a holistic veterinarian  and healer, she uses her gifts to try to bring peace to Will and his dad’s lives, finding her own solace in putting her energies into someone else.

 

 

 

The In Between Hours is one of those books that just makes me feel warm inside.  I liked reading this book and perhaps, for a while, feeling like I too lived in the neighborhood and seen everything play our first hand as I watched Will, and his dad, and Hannah. 

I am especially impressed on what an additional layer to the book Will’s dad brought to the read.  While the book could have worked with the focus being on Will and Hannah, Will’s dad made me smile… he brings the icing on the cake, or in this case – the filling to an already engaging read. 

I enjoyed The In Between Hours and will think about this one for quite a while. 

TLC Book Tours

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to spend time with a group of amazingly three dimensional characters!

 

 

 

I am at the end of the tour on this one – but please feel free to stop in and see what others though of this book:

Tuesday, December 31st: bookchickdi
Thursday, January 2nd: Bibliotica
Monday, January 6th: cupcake’s book cupboard
Tuesday, January 7th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, January 8th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, January 9th: Chronicles …
Tuesday, January 14th: Becca Rowan
Wednesday, January 15th: From the TBR Pile
Friday, January 17th: Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, January 17th: Not in Jersey
Monday, January 20th: Staircase Wit
Tuesday, January 21st: Sweet Tea and Lollipops
Wednesday, January 22nd: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Friday, January 24th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, January 27th: As I turn the pages
Tuesday, January 28th: Book Journey
Wednesday, January 29th: Found Between the Covers
Thursday, January 30th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

 

 

 

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

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32 year old Holly Brennan was never what you would call a small girl.  When her husband at a young age suddenly became ill, Holly comforted herself with food.  When he passed away, the food addiction did not go away.

Then Holly meets Logan Montgomery on a plane.  Logan is fit, self-assured, confident, and good-looking.  Everything Holly feels she is not.  When Logan shares with Holly that he is a personal trainer and would like to work with her at a discounted rate to get her moving in the right direction, Holly figures why not, after all… she is not moving in any direction currently.

Turns out, Holly has some natural-born skills when it comes to working out.  She is hard-working, determined, has great strength and is flexible.  Before long Holly is shaping up and more than one guy is noticing, including Logan.  But is it really in the cards for Holly and Logan to be together?

Big Girl Panties for me, was a fun read with a great protagonist.  I really enjoyed Holly, who is funny, quick-witted, and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to her weight issues.  She was an easy girl to cheer on as she reaches her goals.  I even enjoyed Logan who is not perfect by far, and has a few strange habits but deep inside, despite this, I liked him.

Big Girl Panties was one of those books that I picked up planning to read a few pages and then just kept reading to the point I carried it around the house with me while I made dinner, let the dogs out, and propped it up on the bathroom sink while I styled my hair.  It was quick and it was fun.

One word of advice, Big Girl Panties is a book that can easily be taken offense too.  It deals with weight issues and eating disorders and not always kindly.  There is talk of using liposuction to improve Holly’s body.  There is also some odd interactions regarding sexual activities that mainly comes from the direction of Logan’s friend Chase, but in some cases, Logan too.

Over all, I liked the book.  It’s not perfect, but I would probably be bored if it was.  I do not have to like all the characters in a book – and in this book I didn’t.  Holly is what keeps this book moving forward.  She was someone I wanted to root for, I wanted things to go well for her and you will too. :)

TLC Book Tours

Thank you to TLC book tours. It was a pleasure meeting Holly!

Playing St Barbara by Marian Szczepanski

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1933 Southwestern Pennsylvania is a hot spot of activity.  The coal miners are on strike and the Klu Klux Klan is gaining momentum and both are striking fear into many hearts.  The Sweeney family:  Fin, Clare, and their three daughters; Deidre, Katie, and Norah are right in the midst of it all.  Fin, who coal mines for a living is an angry man who fights for the rights of his fellow miners by day and then takes his anger out on his wife and daughters by night. 

Secrets are held within each of the Sweeney women and as each shares their story, you see that what is happening within these stories, mirrors the legend of the 7th century St. Barbara, patron of miners, which plays out annually at the town pageant. 

Sometimes…. historical fiction blows me away.  I felt as though I had donned my own pair of coal mining boots as I sunk dust deep into this amazing read.  This was such a change from what I have been reading so far this year and I enjoyed it so much.  Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy good historical fiction.  And really, who better to tell it?  Author Marian Szczepanski whose own grandparents were immigrant miners. 

I have a feeling I will be gushing about Playing St. Barbara for some time to come.  It was amazing to me, who honestly knew little of this history, how the KKK played a role in what happened.  Exasperating, breathtaking, and awe inducing…. Playing ST. Barbara is a must read for lovers of historical fiction novels.  I want to say more, but more than that, I want YOU to read this book.

Authors Website

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Author Marian Szczepanski

TLC Book Tours

Thank you to TLC Book Tours who sent me this amazing book for my honest review.

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Playing ST Barbara is set in Pennsylvania

Platform 21 by T. R. Patrick

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It is 2052.  Luke Gibson, his sister Laura, and his parents are excited to be at the first ever World Evergy Initiative Conference.  This conference is a celebration of energy and thousands of people fill the stadium to be a part of this monumental event.

Suddenly the earth rumbles and a massive earthquake takes place.  As Luke struggles to understand what is happening as he sees people dieing all around him and his own life is ebbing away, he sees a gurl reaching for him.

And then all is black.

Death… as it turns out is not the end.  Luke awakens to a world that is not the one he knew… as life (is that what this is?) plays out Luke is left to try to figure out what sort of conspiracy is going on and what can he do to stop it before it is too late.

Ok.  Seriously.  If that synopsis did not give you chills you need to go back and read it again.  I will wait.   ……

:)

Platform 21 sold me on the description of a teenage boy in a futuristic world that takes on a twist that is new to me – and if you know me… that is always a draw.

It is shocking, fast paced, adrenaline creating and once into it…. I had to know how this was all going to go.  I enjoyed Luke, love that he is a writer and a protagonist that I could cheer on.  In this style of book… you need someone to cling to…. Luke was that guy.

I really enjoyed this and look forward to see where this new series will go.

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Would you like to win a copy of this book?   Click the link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Restrike by Reba White William

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Cousins from North Carolina, Coleman and Dinah know how to find trouble.

 

When the cousins move to New York to follow their love for art, Coleman finds herself in the position of editor of a sweet and popular arts magazine, while Dinah becomes owner of a Gallery in Greenwich Village.  The jobs are of course exciting and cause the girls to feel on top of their game until trouble brews within the integrity of an employee at the magazine and due to a poor location, sales are floundering at the art gallery. 

Enter Hayward Baine, a millionaire in the art field and possibly (hopefully) the answer to the cousins prayers.  Yet once again trouble strikes as an art dealer turns up dead and Baine suddenly is posing questions as to him possible involvement…

Life…

is never dull.

 

 

 

Restrike was brought to my attention by its fun cover and quirky synopsis.  Easily labeled a cozy mystery, Restrike poses an occasional “snort out loud” fun humor with an engagingly light story line.  Being from a small town and having had the opportunity to see New York as well, the story was interesting to see this huge change in zip code play out. 

Coleman and Dinah are fun characters and Restrike is their debut…. from what I hear, there is more to come and for that I am glad. 

Restrike makes for a good summer read that is not overpowering, but light and enjoyable as a beach read or one to definitely toss in with the luggage for vacation.  Versatile as it is – enjoy it curled up on a stormy night as well with a really good bowl of popcorn.

 

Thank you to TLC book tours who brought me to a world

that was fun to walk through with the cousins.

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However Long The Night by Aimee Molloy

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In 1974, Molly Melching embarked on her adventure out of her comfortable surroundings in Illinois right into the heart of Africa.  What was supposed to be a short term mission trip of 6 months turned into something much more.

Molly, coming from an American background found that the women of Africa did not have the rights that she was used tom in fact she found some of what was happening to the women to be shocking.  (If you are not familiar with FGC, a practice in areas of Africa, look it up and get ready to cringe!)

Through Molly’s time in Africa, she helps to empower women to learn to take care of themselves, founding Tostan (,meaning “breakthrough” in the Wolof language) a foundation for human rights.  This foundation led to the drastic reduction of FGC and child forced marriages. 

However Long The Night is Molly’s story…

 

 

 

Breathtaking.  Painful.  Empowering.  All of these words come to mind as I try to think of what to say about this amazing read.  Always an advocate of strong independent women, I was fully engrossed in Molly’s mission.  What Molly started in Africa was that human rights were for both men and women. 

I found myself looking things up on-line to follow along even more deeply of who Molly is and what she has accomplished.  I could not get enough.

However Long The Night reads like a page turning novel.  Molly is doing the things I wish I would have been involved in when I was right out of school.  Being a part of the peace corp is right up my alley!  Molly’s story is one of the power of one person making a change in our world for the better.  She is an example of how no problem is too big and how passion and determination can truly make a difference.  A definite keeper for my book shelf.

TLC Book Tours

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for

the experience of Molly Melching

Authors website

The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson

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Ruth and Lucy and Anna are gamers.  Well, game designers, and all involved in different areas of the process of gaming and all that it en tales.  All three of these smart women really enjoy computer generated games.  The fact that there campus now sits where a former insane asylum once stood just adds to their creativity in designing.

As the three women challenge each others abilities they come up with the ultimate “live” role-playing game that will involve many people and the area around then based off the tragedy The Bacchae, with the prodding of Anna’s brother Anders.  The game, which morphs and changes as they go is based around the theme of the insane asylum and has potential until is starts to take a darker turn…. and what happens when the game touches too close to read life?

 

 

 

I love computer games.  When my sons were at home we would battle to play Nintendo, PlayStation and eventually Wii.  I especially likes role-playing games where I felt I could put myself into the game.  They still fascinate me, so the idea of this book was enticing…. I had to know more.

Lets start by saying I really wanted to love this book.  When I read the first few pages I was hooked into what by all intentions looked like it as going to be a fantastic read.  Strong smart women characters based around a reality game… and there is a lot to enjoy about this book.  For one, I really liked the unique writing style.  Conversation, blog posts, game speak, all engaging.  However, I never felt any real connection to any of the characters.  Drugs and drinking are frequently part of the game, which bothers me mainly as the book has a clear YA feel to it. 

Overall, it is a likeable read.  There was much I did like as I mentioned, and while the overall package wasn’t what I would say was a must read, I would easily say that Jenny Davidson is an author to watch.

 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours to allow me entrance to the Magic Circle.

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The Girl Who Married An Eagle by Tamar Myers

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A cozy mystery set around a mission to the Belgian Congo!

~Sheila

 

In 1950 Ohio a talk is given at Julie Newton’s church around a mission in Africa and the need for people to go.  Totally energized by the thought, Julie signs up to go.  She winds up working in a school for runaway child brides.  One of these escaped brides is Bukane, she is beautiful, and has escaped from her arranged marriage with Chief Eagle.  Chief Eagle is a powerful man, not used to being denied any of his wants and seeks revenge on the school.  Bukane fights for her freedom, is attacked, and eventually finds her way to the school that Julie is working with.

Julie now finds herself in the position of having to save the school from this angry Chief and his people, while adapting to her new-found environment along with a cast of interesting characters to help along the way.

 

 

 

Why was I drawn to this book?  Having been on 11 mission trips to Honduras, the idea of going on a mission into Africa intrigued me.  The fact that this book is based on parts of Tamar Myers real life as a missionary in the Congo also pulled me in.  While it is a fiction read, I knew the author would know her stuff when it came to talking about the Congo and missionary work. 

I liked reading about Julie’s encounters on this mission.  I enjoyed that it was not all written in her high-spirited perspective, but also from  others perspective as well. You seen both sides of the culture and the description and character building was well done. 

What really captured me in this read is that while this is written for the 60′s, not a lot has changed in some of these countries.  Honduras still has parents who sell their young daughters to older men to secure the parents future, and never see their child again.  In our culture, that is unthinkable, but there, it is a means of survival.

The Girl Who Married an Eagle reminded me a bit of The #1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.  It just had that feel.  I think if you enjoyed those books, you would also appreciate this one.

 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me

to pack my bags and head into the Congo for a while! 

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Return To Sullivan Island by Dorothy Benton Frank

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Dorothy Benton Frank does it again with another southern flavored title that makes you want to pull up a chair and join this family at the dinner table.  ~ Sheila

Beth Hayes, inspiring writer (want to be) is a little annoyed.  She finds that she will be putting her own plans of starting her life outside of college aside to instead house sit the family home.  It seemed like everyone else was moving on with their lives, following their dreams, while she was put on pause. 

Yet, there is something about being on Sullivan Island that sucks you into a slower pace that Beth soon realizes, is not all bad.  And being in the family home brings along many surprises of relatives and quirky personalities as well as the surprise of developer max Mitchell.  Well, Mitchell is not so much of an intrusion as an annoyance as Beth has no plan no time and no interest in him whatsoever….

or so she thinks….

 

 

 

There is something about Dorothy Benton Frank’s books that make you want to settle in somewhere cozy with an extra-large glass of ice tea and let the characters take you along for the ride.  I’ve discovered this in past readings of her books, and I found it again in Return To Sullivan Island.  While I am the first to admit I am not the biggest fan of multi-character reads as I struggle keeping them all separate, I found that this cast of characters was quirky enough each in their own way that I did not struggle with the interchanges.  In fact, I enjoyed them. 

With a little bit of a ghost story mixed in (oops… did I say too much?  ;) ) for good measure, Return To Sullivan Island makes for good sit-on-your-deck or grab-a-chair-and-head-for-the-beach reading.  Just an overall light and enjoyable book.

Thank you to TLC book tours for letting me Return To Sullivan Island

TLC Book Tours

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