About macsbooks311

Reading, Reviewing and Rollicking through books is the joy of my world. Join me on this journey through libraries, book stores and publishing houses.

Autumn Alibi – Jennifer David Hesse

Now that the snow has melted and it feels like Autumn once again, I wanted to read some books set during this season. Luckily, the next book in the Wiccan Wheel Series was exactly what I was looking for!

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I began reading The Wiccan Wheel mysteries earlier this year partly because I was in a cozy mystery mood and partly because I’ve always been fascinated by various beliefs and religions that people choose to follow. What I discovered was a delightful series centered around, of course, the Wiccan Wheel which divides up the calendar into eight seasons and their corresponding celebrations such as Mabon and Yule Tide.

Keli Milanni is a successful attorney who is a Wiccan witch. Several of her cases, as well as the search for her mysterious aunt, often lead Keli to murderous endeavors. With the aide of her abilites, she solves the cases and brings closure to those who are left behind. She has interesting friends and co-workers who help her along the way, each bringing their own quirky personalities to the story.

The series, including Autumn Alibi, is a collection of well written, intelligent cozy mysteries. There are hints of romance but they are not the focus of the stories -the mysteries remain at the center throughout. This a fun series, especially if you enjoy cozy mysteries with a bit of a paranormal flair.

My Mother’s Silence @lwestwoodwriter

Last year during the holidays, I was introduced to Lauren Westwood’s work through her novel Midnight on the Thames. It was one of my most loved books of the season and afterward I read all of the books she had written to date! You can read my review of Midnight on the Thames HERE.  This year Westwood is back with another incredible story, My Mother’s Silence. Set during the holiday season, it is a cross-genre book about family, the bonds of love, forgiveness and the power of forgiveness.

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Skye had no recollection of the night her twin sister, Ginny, died. All she was aware of was her inability to forgive herself for Ginny’s death and the belief that her mother blamed Skye for Ginny’s death as well. Fifteen years later, their mother is frail and in need of someone to be with her. Skye returns home to the secrets, the blame, the gossip of what really happened the night Ginny vanished. As Skye searches for answers to the questions her memories refuse to answer, the horrors of that night reveal secrets this family may not be able to cope with.

My Mother’s Silence is a story of three women: a mother and her twin daughters. It’s a tale of unspoken anger, resentment, jealousy but, above all, it is a story of love, forgiveness and hope. What I love most about Westwood’s writing is that she creates characters that are so realistically flawed so that we, the reader, are able to relate to them. Through their story line we come to know everything about them, including the thoughts and feelings that they would like to forget. As Skye delves into her sister’s past with the help of long forgotten journals, we see how emotionally fraught her sister was, the secrets that she was keeping from Skye and, ultimately what happened that fateful night. As Skye then attempts to deal with the lies, the whispers and betrayal, we see her emotional growth as she finally makes reconciliations with members of her family. This is a powerful, emotional, tense book through which I laughed, cried and got angry right along side Skye. Westwood, as always, drew me into their lives from the beginning and I did not stop reading until the very end – and then I wanted MORE!! And yes, this book is centered around the holidays, but it is far more about relationships than it is about the holidays. It easily could be read any time, any day of the year – and you should do just that. Now, do I really have to wait another entire year for the next fabulous book by Lauren Westwood!?

I’m so grateful to #Netgalley and #Bookoutre for my copy of  #MyMothersSilence.

 

 

The Little Women Cookbook by Wini Moranville, based on the books by Louisa May Alcott

I am a huge fan of Louisa May Alcott and of the era in which she wrote her classic books, including Little Women. I also own a Bed and Breakfast so I’m always on the hunt for great recipes – new and old. This cookbook was a dream come true. So often books refer to the food the characters are enjoying and, yet, in older classics it can difficult to find a corresponding recipe. With The Little Women Cookbook, we get to enjoy the flavors of that time but with modern era ingredients and, of course, cooking appliances.

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I prepared multiple recipes from the book, from main dishes to desserts, and I haven’t found one yet that I didn’t love. Admittedly, this time of year my favorites included the Gingerbread and Apple Dumpling recipes, both of which were better than my own grandmother’s. If you like to cook/bake and adore cookbooks as much as I do, then this is a must-have addition to your kitchen. Bake up something wonderful and enjoy the new movie based on Alcott’s timeless classic, Little Women.

Thanks so much to the #QuartoGroup who keeps me on my toes in the kitchen and to #Edelweiss for my copy of this gem.

#Caged #Buried by @ECooperAuthor

Two books. Two mind-bending thrillers. One amazing agent.

Recently I was asked to read the third installment in the SSA Sayer Altair series by Ellison Cooper. The problem was that I hadn’t read the first two. I have had Caged bookmarked to read since it was first published but you know how TBR lists are, more books piled on top of that one. So, I thought before I read the upcoming book due in 2020, I would catch up with the first in the series. Was I ever glad that I did!

Agent Altair is one bad-assed woman. She has been knocked down by the death of her fiance, her job is in jeopardy and she is an orphan whose parents were killed in a tragic accident but none of those tragedies can stop Sayer. As a neuro-scientist she studies the brains of psychopaths for the BAU. She also is one of the best at hunting them down when they take the form of serial killers.

Both books are fascinating, not only for how well they are written but by the science behind psychopathy. Cooper is obviously brilliant and she brings that knowledge into the books that she writes. I, for one, have grown tired of the same old stalker-chases-woman thrillers and, if you are like me, you will find Cooper’s books a refreshing change. Yes, we have serial killers but their methods and reasons for killing are far more than man-murders-woman. Both Caged and Buried taught me more about psychology and the classics than I thought I ever would know. They are fantastic! Ten stars for this new to me author and now I cannot wait to begin her next one!

 

Third to Die @Allison_Brennan

That Ending!! It may not have been a cliffhanger but it definitely left me wanting more, now…. immediately. How soon can she write the next in this series!?!

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Brennan is well known for her psychological thrillers so when I was offered an ARC for her newest book I jumped at the opportunity. The Third to Die is the first book in a new series by Brennan revolving around the FBI’s Mobile Response Team. This newly formed segment of the FBI consists of highly specialized agents who are top in their field, whether it is forensics, crime scene specialists or investigators. They are mobilized primarily in rural areas where the local force most likely is lacking in either experience or equipment. This is their first case in the field and it is a nightmare. A serial killer has re-emerged after years of silence. His method is killing someone on March 3rd, 6th or 9th. This story is made more interesting by the addition of a SFPD officer who is on “vacation” in the area and ends up helping the FBI solve their case. This detective, Kara Quinn, is one of the most interesting characters I’ve run across in a thriller in a long while. The chemistry between her and FBI agent Matias Costa is electric – and fun! The story is engaging, interesting and, yes, thrilling! So much so that I’m reading past written books by Brennan and cannot wait for her next in this series – and this one is not out yet!! But it will be soon and should be bookmarked on your to-read list.

Strong Women Stories: Love Heart Lane, Things You Save in a Fire and A Bittersweet Surprise

Rather than concentrate only on “thrillers,” my go-to genre, I decided to read women’s fiction, including a few light romances. What I discovered was there quite a few solidly written books in these genres that make you proud to be a woman. Although all three are very different, they each feature a strong woman at the heart of the story.

FOXGLOVE FARM – #ChristieJBarlow

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Foxglove Farm is meant to be a sweet romance. I suppose that it is – to a point. Isla and Drew are experiencing marital problems and Isla is unaware of exactly why. The man she loves is suddenly withdrawn and sullen but refuses to tell Isla why or what might be wrong. When a birthday surprise blows up in her face, she flees with her infant until she can sort out what to do. The fact is that they are having financial difficulties which Drew has not shared with Isla. He is depressed and angry at not being able to provide for his family. Together they find a way to persevere and rekindle their love for one another once more but the journey is a difficult one.

There were multiple issues that the author introduced: lies and secrets in a marriage, the difficulty of having a newborn on a marriage and, of course, male depression and mental health. While all of these are very important topics – very – at times there was just too much hardship to be believed. There was one problem after another after another in such a short period and within a relatively short story. Yes, there are those who are faced with mounting challenges and generally when it rains, it pours. However, for the good of the novel and to really explore any of these topics thoroughly, either the book needed to be longer or there should have been fewer fires. Regardless, the story itself is well told, well-written and uplifting. This is the second in a series and each set of characters is different from the last, however, I felt as though I was missing some backstory that others might have known from reading the first book in the series. I would suggest reading them in order. They are quick reads so that shouldn’t be a problem.

 

THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE – @KatherineCenter

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There has been a lot of hype and publicity for Katherine Center’s latest book: Things You Save in a Fire and there is a good reason for that – it is a wonderful book featuring a strong, interesting, intelligent woman who also is a firefighter.

When Cassie is first introduced she is receiving a medal for valor and bravery. This really isn’t something that she wants but she deserves it. She’s with her department family having a great time when she becomes aware that the person is handing out her award is someone with whom she has a traumatic past. Things do not go well after that, to the point that she is giving the choice of being fired or transferred. She takes the transfer which is back her hometown, a new station, the need to prove herself once again and to a mother with whom she has a difficult past.

Through the remainder of the book we see Cassie as she grows into the person she was meant to become – strong, capable, funny and even loving. The transformation is poignant, heartfelt, hard and very relatable. Things You Save in a Fire is one of my favorite books of the year. With impeccable writing, believable characters and a story line that is captivating and heart-felt, this is a book you will not want to miss.

A BITTERSWEET SURPRISE @CynEllingsen

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Emma loves running her family’s candy shop, creating new delicious treats and seeing her friends savour her new offerings; however, her father left the candy shop to his second wife who is selling the shop to a corporation. The only way that Emma can keep the shop is to buy out her step-mother at a higher profit than the corporation has offered her. The catch, of course, is that Emma has no extra money and very little self-esteem to think outside of the box. What she does have is loyal customers, friends whom Emma has helped over the years who are ready to return the favor and…. a mysterious painting that has hung in the candy shop since her father was alive. When a stranger makes Emma a flabbergastingly large sum of money for the artwork, Emma begins to suspect there is more to the painting than she realizes.

I absolutely loved and adored A Bittersweet Surprise. There was drama, family issues that had to be overcome but, most importantly, it illustrated how women, given the chance, can overcome obstacles in order to succeed. Emma not only has the skills necessary to be a successful business owner, she a heart that is full of gold. We see Emma as she selflessly helps the other people in her town, a homeless woman and her son, everyone she comes in contact with. She isn’t perfect but she shows what goodness means. I found myself completely immersed in Emma’s story and all of the characters in the book. A Bittersweet Surprise is the third installment of a series but it works beautifully as a stand-alone. Ellingsen uses the “shared universe” style of writing where, as readers, we are introduced to a town or setting that is common throughout the series but the characters, though they may be familiar to us, each have their own story and plot. She has done a great job introducing the characters so that you know their backstory without the need to read each book in order. I highly recommend the book and the entire series – which I’ve now read.

 

 

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Admittedly, I did not finish The Kiss Quotient but The Bride Test captured my attention for different reasons and once started, I could not put it down. It is one of the best romance, general fiction books that I’ve read in a while.

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Khai is on “the spectrum” and, while he loves his work, he has no interest in romance or marriage. His mother, however, is certain that he needs a woman in his life to make him more well-rounded and to keep him from becoming too isolated. Taking matters in her own hands, his mother finds a woman in Asia and brings her back for the summer. Esme is desperate for a different life and also wants to find her father who was in the military during the war and whom she never has met or known. Khai is furious but also amazed as Esme finds her own way in America and grows more independent.

To read this synopsis gives the impression that this is a typical romance story but it is far from typical. Esme and Khai are intriguing characters who show both depth and growth throughout the story. It is humorous, compelling and sweet but, most of all, it is a story of hope. Whether you read the first book or not, you will want to immerse yourself the lives of Esme and Khai.

@Edelweiss

The Secret Life of Mrs. London #TheSecretLifeOfMrsLondon #HFVBTBlogTour @RebeccasNovels @hfvbt

I am beyond thrilled to be back on the #HFVBT blog tours! Not only that, but the first book back to share with you has become a favorite of mine: The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg.

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San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

It’s no secret that this era, prior to the explosion of the world wars, is one of my favorite eras in history. I also love Jack London and his classic novels. Admittedly, however, it was Houdini who drew me to this book. One of the most mesmerizing characters in history, his secret liaison with “a married woman” has long been rumored. Rebecca Rosenberg has brought that story to life in The Secret Life of Mrs. London.  Here we find London at a time in his life when he is unwell and totally dependent on his wife. She, of course, is dependent on him for her daily survival as well as her desire to be a writer in her own right, yet neither of them are invested in their relationship any longer. She desires to be more, to break free from the social chains in her life and Houdini provides her exactly that. Through Rosenberg’s writing we are able to see behind the curtain into the lives of these three incredibly fascinating people. The imagery is so pronounced that the reader feels as though they are there with the characters. The writing is brilliant, in first person, and with the opening scene – a boxing match between Mr. and Mrs. London – one is drawn into the story utterly and entirely.

The Secret Life of Mrs. London is Rosenberg’s debut novel and one can only hope that there will be many more to come. Whether you enjoy general fiction or historical, this is a book you will not want to miss!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel.

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Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk

children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.

For more information, please visit Rebecca’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.

Praise for The Secret Life of Mrs. London

“An impressively original and exceptionally well-crafted novel by an author who is a master of character- and narrative-driven storytelling, Rebecca Rosenberg’s The Secret Life of Mrs. London is an inherently riveting and thoroughly reader-engaging story from beginning to end and feature[es] many an unexpected plot twist and turn.” —Midwest Book Review

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 2
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Tuesday, September 3
Review at Melissa Reads

Wednesday, September 4
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, September 5
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Sunday, September 8
Review at My Reading Chronicles
Review at Oh the Books She Will Read

Tuesday, September 10
Review at Diana_bibliophile

Thursday, September 12
Excerpt at I’m All About Books

Friday, September 13
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, September 17
Review at Hooked on Books

Wednesday, September 18
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, September 20
Review at Orange County Readers

Monday, September 23
Review at Jathan & Heather

Wednesday, September 25
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Thursday, September 26
Review, Q&A, & Excerpt at Nursebookie

Friday, September 27
Review at Macsbooks

Monday, September 30
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, October 2
Review at gatticus_finch

Friday, October 4
Review at Coffee and Ink
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Saturday, October 5
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, October 7
Review at rebecca.is.reading

Wednesday, October 9
Review at This Biblio Life

Thursday, October 10
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Friday, October 11
Review at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Saturday, October 12
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Monday, October 14
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 3 signed paperbacks + swag and 7 eBooks! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Mrs. London

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Thank you to #HFVBT and the author, Rebecca Rosenberg, for my copy of The Secret Life of Mrs. London.

How Not to Die Alone – Richard Roper

The first time I picked up How Not To Die Alone, I simply was not in the right frame of mind to read it, constantly comparing it Eleanor Oliphant. So I sat it aside to come back to. This time, however, I was in the right place and found the book to be utterly charming, hope-filled and quite wonderful!

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Andrew is a loner – well, that’s actually an understatement – who works for the Estate Council tracking down possible relatives of people who have died alone. There is the question of who buries them, you see. His life is grim, his flat is grim, everything about Andrew is grim. So bad, in fact, that he has created a fake wife and family so others will not feel sorry for him. But the Peggy joins their office, an office filled with quirky and unusual people, and Andrew finds his life changing in unexpected ways.

The characters of How Not To Die Alone are some of the most realistic characters I’ve come across in a while. While they each are unlikable in their own right, I soon found that I cared about them despite their flaws which is, after all, what life is all about. As Andrew’s perspective changes, we see so much hope inside of him. He’s caring, thoughtful and quite marvelous. By the end of the book, as we finally learn what has happened in his past, you are cheering him on and hoping for the very best for him.

Yes, the story is similar to other books of this nature, but it is the characters who set this one apart from the others. You will love them, hate them, cry for them and, in the end, be so happy for them all. We, as human, grow and change and morph over the course of our lifetimes and, if we’re lucky, we won’t find ourselves alone in the end.

Thanks to #Edelweiss and #GPPutnam’sSons for my copy of this delightful book