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Friday, June 12, 2020

Enjoy How Lulu Lost Her Mind

From the books blurb:
From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson comes the story of a mother-daughter journey to rediscover the past before it disappears forever.

Lou Ann Hunter’s mother, Patricia, has always had a passionate nature, which explains why she’s been married and divorced five times and spooned enough male patients to be ousted from three elderly care facilities. She also has Alzheimer’s, which is why she wants to spend the rest of her life surrounded by childhood memories at Sutton Hall, her family’s decrepit plantation home in Louisiana.

Lou Ann, a.k.a. Lulu the Love Guru, has built an empire preaching sex, love, and relationship advice to the women of America—mostly by defying the example her mother has set for her. But with Patricia suddenly in need of a fulltime caretaker, Lou Ann reluctantly agrees to step out of the spotlight and indulge her mother’s wishes, even if it means trading in her Louboutins and Chanel N°5 for boots and mosquito repellant.

Upon her arrival at Sutton Hall, Lou Ann discovers that very little functions as it should—least of all Patricia’s mind. And as she adjusts to this new and inevitably temporary dynamic with the help of a local handyman and a live-in nurse, she is forced to confront the reality that neither her nor her mother’s future is going according to plan.

Heartrending at times and laugh-out-loud funny at others, How Lulu Lost Her Mind is the book for everyone and their mother. Fans of Emily Giffin, Kristan Higgins, and Jill Shalvis won’t be able to forget it.

 How Lulu Lost Her Mind was a delightful read that was not only full of humor but that also contained several important messages. Lulu, AKA the "love guru," has a decision to make, what to do about Mama. I found the colloquial situations and vocabulary interesting. I was moved by Lulu's plight, one many readers will face, and by her eventual acceptance of what she must do. Once she accepted the inevitable she was able to see what a treasure she had in her mother. This a book about love in its many forms.

Thank you netgalley for sending this delightful novel my way.

Available wherever books are sold.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Murder at Melrose Court proved to be a wonderful distraction.


From the book's blurb:
'Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie with a touch of Wodehouse and a dog of distinction.'
It's 1920 and Christmas is coming. Major Lennox finds a body on his doorstep - why on his doorstep? Was it to do with the Countess? Was it about the ruby necklace? Lennox goes to Melrose Court home to his uncle, Lord Melrose, to uncover the mystery. But then the murders begin and it snows and it all becomes very complicated....

Major Heathcliff Lennox, ex-WW1 war pilot, six feet 3 inches, unruly dark blond hair, age around 30 - named after the hero of Wuthering Heights by his romantically minded mother - much to his great annoyance. Murder at Melrose Court is the first book in the Lennox series.
My Review:
Murder at Melrose Court by Karen Baugh Menuhin proved to be a
wonderful distraction from WWII historical fiction, cozy "happily ever after" stories, and Coronavirus isolation. The characters were funny, and oh, so British gentry, at least to this American reader, and quite likeable.

Not one but two murders to solve and several suspects I wanted to find guilty. The resolution was complicated but realistic when explained.

The cold winter setting was portrayed effectively. I wanted to grab a cup of hot tea by a blazing fire and join the fun at Melrose Place.

This was a lighthearted, entertaining story. I recommend it as a change of pace and a pleasant escape.  I would add that the book is reminiscent of a Woody Allen, Pink Panther caper. Don't take the words murder mystery too seriously.

This is the first of four books in this series.  I bought my copy online.

Monday, March 23, 2020

What You Wish For by Katherine Center will be just what her fans wished for.

From the publisher: Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.
When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

My review: With certainty I can predict that What you Wish For will be a success with Katherine Center's legion of readers. There is a likable protagonist although at times I wanted to tell her to stop being so sophomoric in her yearning for a lost love. I found her memories and her reactions to them sometimes bordered on obsession. Still, I cheered her on and wanted her to win in the great fight she was thrown into. 

The major male character was in turn lovable, and goofy and then the biggest jerk ever created. I feel that's just what the author wanted. The supporting characters were likable throughout the story.

The school setting  to which Samantha runs when she thinks she must escape her current life was just what she needed-- a bubbly, happy place, a family. The description of those happy years with Max at the helm were so like the school setting in which I taught in western Colorado. You don't find that loving, supportive, happy setting often. I lost my happy work family when we moved. Samantha lost hers when Max died and HE took over.

My favorite character was Clay, an eight year old genius with home problems, but with an irresistible love of learning and life. Ms. Center created a wonderful character in Clay.

I will not disclose any spoilers, but will just say, if you liked How To Walk Away, you'll love What You Wish For. It is not available until mid-July, but is available for pre-order.

Thank you St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for my advance reading copy. The opinions expressed here are my own. 

#katherinecenter #stmartinspress #netgalley #bittersweetromance

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Ruby of the Sea...It will make you smile, laugh out loud, and cry.

Ruby of the Sea by Peggy Lampman
Pub. February 2020

From the book's blurb:
After aimlessly traveling the country for fifteen years, Linnea Chandler returns to her hometown of Key West, Florida keeping the genesis of a life-altering phobia to herself--not a good idea, as she comes to find out. The 19th Century lighthouse that she, her parents and two sisters call home also has a troubled past, carrying the frightening myth that eerily mirrors the mystery of her younger sister today. Should Linnea run while she can? 

My Review:
It's very hard to write a review of Ruby of the Sea without giving away plot twists. The impact of the story has remained with me as I ponder the lies, secrets, and decisions of each character.

We have quirky characters that make us question how far quirkiness goes before it becomes mental illness. We have characters who are sisters, twins in fact, who love each other as much as they love themselves but who are forever arguing and fighting. We have a male character who may or may not be a love interest, who may or may not be a good guy. We have a main character who thinks that she has let the best years of her life pass her by without progressing toward any goal. And finally , we have a squawking parrot who is as irritating as any bird character I've ever read. Holding all of this together is another character, the setting of Key West with its free-range chickens, festivals, and the daily show of sunset.

This is a story of family love and family tragedy. It is a story of secrets and the destruction that the keeping of secrets might cause. A sad and depressing book? No. There are many light moments, moments of joy, moments of love and many beautiful descriptions that keep this book from being depressing. Yes, there is one tragic event in the story, one we all hope we never experience but which we read about daily; it is heart-wrenching but necessary for the story and well written.

Throughout the book we knew that the main character would have to make a decision in the end. I hoped she would have enough fortitude to choose the decision I would choose for her. In the end she did. I love the fact that her decision shows her love for herself as well as her love for her sister and her fellow man. Her decision to work for others in the future is the greatest kind of love. I'm glad she took that track. I thought that was a beautiful thing.

Spoiler Alert:
And about that decision, let's just say Idaho won!

This book was sent to me shortly before publication, but I cannot find my notes concerning who sent it, so I can't  give  credit to the sender.

Now available everywhere.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

75 Years Ago Today with the 10th Mountain Division

It was 75 years ago today on Feb. 18, 1945, that the men of the 10th literally climbed to one of history’s most miraculous military victories, the Battle of Riva Ridge, in the northern Apennine Mountains of Italy. Henry Townsend, the hero of my historical fiction, Twilight of Memory, was with them. His near fatal woulds will come tomorrow on the nearby  battle for Mt. Belvedere.

But in real life...In one of their more harrowing feats, the 10th scaled Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere in the Northern Apennines in February of 1945 and surprised the Germans on top of the mountains.  The Germans didn’t think anyone could actually make the trek, especially at night on the slippery ice, but the Germans were wrong. The soldiers of the 10th climbed silently to the top.

It was key to opening up an offensive that, over the next three months, led the troops to the Alps.

The next day's operation, the assault on Mt. Belvedere, would prove very difficult. The American troops, with assistance from the Argentinian troops, were victorious, but at a heavy price. Approximately 1000 of the 13,000 men died.

Over the next few months, the 10th and other Allied troops would continue to pursue and push the Germans out of Italy. It would be in April during the push forward that Senator Bob Dole was injured in nearby Castel d'Aiano.

After the war some 260 members of the 10th returned to America and started ski patrols, ski schools, etc. They were instrumental in building the ski and snow sports industry we enjoy today.

An interesting fact, for me, is that two of the Von Trapp family boys joined the 10th and trained at Camp Hale, Colorado before fighting in Italy.

Today the 10th is still fighting. They are in Afghanistan. Pray for them and all in our military.

"Climb to Glory" 10th!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

# book review An art mystery you don't want to miss: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

From the book's blurb:
"North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women's Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?"
My thoughts: 
Let me be up front with you, I loved this book. Two artists, one painting. For a dual timeline, it was very well done and easy to follow for the two timelines were essential to understanding the plot. The intrigue presented by the decrepit painting carried both time lines. The characters were real, folks you could see in your mind, and folks that you wanted to know more about.
The changing painting mystery had me invested in this story. Why was this painting important and why had it been hidden for years? How did the painting change each night? Was someone changing it? Who? Why? What did all the gross symbolism mean? 
Who was Anna Dale, and what was her connection to this grotesque painting? Was she the painter as some believed. If so, why type person was she to paint such a scene, one that she knew would not please those who had commissioned it. Why was Morgan Christopher plucked from prison and chosen to unveil the secrets of Anna's life? Was she in danger?
I enjoyed and understood the two main female characters...women from two time periods, but with much in common. I learned a great deal about art restoration. It was evident that the author either has a background in art and restoration, or she did in-depth research and listened to experts when needed.
I highly recommend this book. Publication date is Tuesday, January 14 from St. Martin's press. Available on most online and brick and mortar outlets.
You can read the first two chapters here:

Friday, January 3, 2020

#bookreview Another winner from Camille De Maio

#bookreview.  A story of an extraordinary woman who saved her company and herself. Based upon the life of a woman and a murder trial I'd never heard of, I enjoyed this book. Well-researched, well-written, and fast moving. The older main character became someone I wish I had known. Like other books by Camille De Maio, this one is sure to be a hit. Thanks, netgalley for the ARC.