Alice’s Island #DanielSanchezArévalo

A happily married woman’s perfect life shatters when her husband turns up dead hundreds of miles away from where he should have been. Suddenly she discovers that there was a part of him about which she knew nothing at all.

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I’ve never read anything by this author from Spain before reading this novel but already want to read everything he has to offer!  Alice’s Island was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it would be the run-of-the-mill cheating husband, husband dies, wife finds out, oh no oh no, boring read and instead it is more domestic drama where, yes, the husband had secrets and dies but the wife and her two children are the primary focus as they are searching for answers, putting their lives back together, coming to grips with the reality of their new situation. This is a very character driven novel and Arevalo does a marvelous job creating intriguing, multi-dimensional characters that will fascinate and hold you captive throughout. I highly recommend Alice’s Island for those who like suspense over thrillers, slow burning, character driven novels.

Thank you to #IAWR for my copy of #AlicesIsland

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#MurderousMonday on a Wednesday #TheScholar

Murder monday with textYes, I know. It really has been that kind of week here at Macsbooks. I’m not sure what the attraction to the Midwest is right now but there are a LOT of travelers visiting the fair state of Indiana. If you’re ever this way, please do stop by The Wisteria House. I truly thought I had these posts ready to go without me, but sadly, I’m just not that coordinated and on top of things. Luckily for my guests, I AM on top of clean rooms and delightful breakfasts :)Whew! 

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The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan is the second book in a series featuring DS Cormac Reilly. As usual, I had not read the first book (I have now) before beginning this one and did not once feel lost or confused.

DS Reilly has been assigned to cold cases until the night his girlfriend frantically calls him. She has found a young woman in the street, the victim of an apparent hit and run. The dead girl is carrying an ID of Carline Darcy, heir apparent to Darcy Therapeutics, Ireland’s most successful pharmaceutical company and the company for whom Reilly’s girlfriend, Emma, is conducting research on the first successful artificial kidney. Reilly is certain that Emma cannot be involved so he takes the case, but as it continues to unfold, doubts into Emma’s innocence start to rise, complicating their relationship and eroding his reputation at work.

The Scholar is a multi-layered mystery with heaps of suspense and fabulous, complex characters. McTiernan is a marvelous writer who capably molds her characters into realistic people that often remind us of those we see every day. Never does she cross the line into hyperbole or drive Reilly into a farce of what a DS should be. He is flawed, but not the typical drunk, broken, woe-is-me copper who has become the stand-by for far too many police novels. Instead, he has real flaws like we all do. He makes mistakes like we all do and that creates a character who is far more relatable to the reader.

This is not a “fast paced thriller” but rather a well-done suspenseful mystery and when I say “well-done” I mean superb. I highly recommend both The Scholar which is due for publication in the US in May and The Ruin, which you can find at your local bookstore or library.

Many thanks to #Edelweiss, @DervlaMcTiernan and @Penguinbooks for my copy of #TheScholar

 

The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America #MattKracht

It’s SPRING and if you live above the equator that means that the weather should be getting warmer and the dumb birds are hopping around and making their usual incessant noise and pooping on your cars and waking you at ungodly hours. I say “should’ because it is supposed to snow across most of North America this week and dumb because, hello? Who wakes up before the sun rises on purpose!?! 🙂  Yes, I love birds. I adore them. I feed them and attract them and I really do have a backyard wildlife habitat. Like the book, The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America, I’m just being cheeky.

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Matt Kracht has written a very funny, tongue in cheek guide to some of the most common birds found in North America. He has humorously renamed them so that we might easily remember them. For example, there is the White Breasted Butt Nugget, the Western Meadow Jerk or, simply, the damn crows. He tends to feel about crows the same way I do. The entire page is filled with Caw, Caw, Caw, Caw, Caw….. Yes, that really is all that you need to know about the damn crow, isn’t it?

iu0UIMXQJMKracht also accompanies each delightful paragraph of information with his own personal illustrations. Okay, some are better than others depending on how well he likes the bird. I won’t even show you the illustration of the crow which resembles something a two year old with a black marker might draw in a fit of rage. Again, very aptly done when considering the caw-caw-caw of the crow. Most, however, are beautifully rendered as you can see below:
black capped prickadeeDespite the irreverence, the information throughout the book, the details, the drawings – with a few noted exceptions – the maps, and the highlights are very informative. If I were teaching children about birds…. okay, well, there is some mild cursing but aside from that, I can assure you that kids definitely would remember these birds better than they would a regular field guide. Absolutely! I know that I will! It also makes for a terrific coffee table book and conversation piece. Guests have adored it! I adore it! I haven’t laughed this hard or this much in a very long time!!

Thank you to #netgalley, #ChronicleBooks and @MattKracht for my copy of #TheFieldGuidetoDumbBirdsofNorthAmerica and to Christopher @Plucked From the Stacks for recommending this book to his readers. Also, if you’ve never seen The Big Year  starring Jack Black and Steve Martin, also about birding, I highly recommend it. It is one hilarious movie!

The Dream Peddler #Martine Fournier Watson #PublicationDay

It is Publication Day for the exquisitely written debut novel, The Dream Peddler by Martine Fournier Watson.

40908546amazonRobert Owens is peddler of a product that is rare and quite valuable: dreams. He travels from town to town, mixing his elixirs individually for each client at their request, fulfilling their unique desires. Some dream to remember the past, some to see the future and others to relive a present day joy. Evie’s request, however, is unusual. She has a pain so intense that she believes only Robert can and his elixirs can cure. As they meet over the elixir exchange, they form a friendship, a bond, but that bond is tested as the town’s residents begin to turn on Robert. After all, too much of a good thing is never really good for a small town, is it?

I found The Dream Peddler to be one of the most unique, remarkable stories that I have read in a very long time. There is a wide cast of characters, each with their own hidden desires, faults and goodness. However, Evie and Robert clearly stand out as the main focus and their complexity is brilliantly written throughout. While the dreams themselves appear to have a touch of magical realism to them, I felt that the story was more of a parable or fable, a story within the story, with a lesson for us all. We wish, we dream, we have hopes and with those desires come consequences. Do we dare to dream them anyway despite knowing the risk?

I was hesitant to give this a full 5 stars solely due to the fact that the book is complete perfection until the end where it wobbles a just a bit. It is still, however, highly recommended across all genres and one of the best books I’ve read in 2019.

Martine Fournier Watson is originally from Montreal, Canada, where she earned her master’s degree in art history after a year in Chicago as a Fulbright scholar. She currently lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. The Dream Peddler is her first novel.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, @MFournierWatson and @PenguinBooks for my copy of #TheDreamPeddler

Have you read The Dream Peddler? What are you thoughts about it? About dreams coming with risks and consequences. Let me know, I’d like to hear from you!

 

A Perfect Cornish Summer @PhillipaAshley

The skies are blue, the birds are singing and daffodils are blooming – finally it is spring in the Midwestern US which can only mean one thing! I’m ready for SUMMER! What better way to prepare for summer sunshine than to sail off to the Cornish coast. Well, at least in my imagination! It is A Perfect Cornish Summer thanks to Phillipa Ashley’s brilliant new cosy.

Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival

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One summer, while Sam and her friends are thinking of their small town’s financial woes and also making plans to attend a festival in a nearby town, it occurs to Sam, who has money troubles of her own, that a festival is exactly what her own town of Porthmellow needs. It’s also what Sam needs in her own life to keep her from thinking about her dismal, rather lonely life. Now it is twenty years later and the festival that Sam and her friends started is a region success and about to celebrate that twentieth anniversary! The only problem is that the nationally renown chef that they had booked has cancelled and the newly booked chef is someone from Sam’s past that she never wanted or hoped to see again. Between the feeling of dread at that prospect and the sabotaging occurring all around the village, Sam is worried that the festival may not make to year twenty-one.

I adore Cornwall and talk about it so often that my own family just assumed it was a town nearby on Lake Michigan – I honestly kid you not. If there is a book written about Cornwall, set in Cornwall, featuring someone from Cornwall, you can bet I’m going to read it. A Perfect Cornish Summer did not disappoint me in the least with its small, twisty streets, community togetherness, sly humor and, of course, unpredictable stormy coastal weather! There are multiple story lines but each are relevant and well placed; they  tie in nicely with one another and, I suspect, serve as an introduction to the key players who will be integral to subsequent books in the series. There also are multiple sub-plots which are not so much mysteries as they are mysterious subterfuge. This is a cosy read, it’s not going to be an edge-of-your-seat dark thriller, nor should it be. It’s the story of a woman, her family, her friends and her community and how they all work together to help one another succeed, despite hard feelings, past differences and even different tastes in music. Phillipa Ashley is a gifted story-teller and she has done a beautiful job of creating a tale that will envelope you in its summer warmth. Now, how quickly can I get to Cornwall from the middle of the US!? 

Thank you to #Netgalley, #PhillipaAshley and @AvonBooksUK for my advanced copy of this delight book. You will find it on sale April 25th. 

 

Sunday Morning for Kids featuring Pip the Gnome and the Forest Feast

Happy Sunday! Yesterday I was reading my blogger friend, Carla’s, post “Saturday Morning for Kids” and thought it was a wonderful idea. As you know, I’ve been reviewing kids books on Sunday because that was the time when I would chill with my neighbors and read. So, I’ve combined the best of both worlds to bring you Sunday Morning for Kids here at Macsbooks with HUGE gratitude to Carla at Carla Loves to Read. Please be sure to check out her blog – she’s terrific!! You can read her on Saturday and come here on Sunday – TADA!

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During the holidays I downloaded the most adorable book assuming it was for the Christmas season, after all, it had an elf on the cover. Silly me, it wasn’t an elf! It was a GNOME!!! I have become enamored with Gnomes recently and I should have known better but I was in an elfish kind of spirit and not thinking. Pip the GNOME and the Forest Feast by Admar Kwant, is part of series for very young or brand new readers. It encourages young children to learn very important life lessons. In the Forest Feast, Pip is gathering food from the forest for a marvelous meal that he preparing for all of his forest friends. Everyone throughout the forest is invited and they all come to enjoy what he has prepared. Soon, it becomes obvious, however, that he has left nothing at all for himself. Oh dear, his friends think, what shall we do?

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Pip the Gnome and the Forest Feast is a delightful book that helps guide children to embrace the joy of sharing so that everyone can enjoy something and no one is left with nothing. It is, perhaps, a lesson that we all need to learn. What sets this book apart from so many others is the incredible illustrations! I am, as you know, a enthusiast for great art and page after glorious page of color-washed images will keep children of all ages captivated. While I thoroughly enjoyed Pip, I suspect it might be geared more toward pre-school, early readers, those who are being read to and enjoy a nice book before bedtime.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #IngramPublishing and the author, #AdmarKwant for my copy of #PiptheGnomeandtheForestFeast

The Mother in Law #SallyHepworth

With two Mother-in-Laws under my belt, which honestly was two too many, and being one myself, I felt I was ready to tackle Sally Hepworth’s latest novel, The Mother-in-Law. I was, after all, an experienced pro. I was not, however, at all prepared for the multi-layered, character driven drama that unfolded before me – not even close!
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When Lucy first met her Mother-in-Law, Diana, she immediately knew she was not going to be the wife that Diana had hoped for her son. Diana was one of those mothers/wives who was perfect in every way: immaculate home, perfect spouse, marvelous and adored mother, a planner, a doer, someone who made things happen in life for those she loved. If she didn’t love you – well, therein was the issue. But Lucy tried and she tried hard. When Diana is discovered dead, Lucy is perhaps the one most shocked, especially when it is indicated that Diana was already dying from cancer. You see, Lucy knows better. Lucy knows a lot of secrets about Diana and this family. As the investigation continues and the secrets are revealed, the layers that covered this perfect family begin to crack and we see that not was not as perfectly pretty as it appeared – but are they ever?

I absolutely adore Hepworth and her dramas. I don’t always like each and every book, some are not always five star hits for me, but each of her books leave me emotionally charged and the characters that she builds stay with me forever. The Mother-in-Law is definitely a winner! There are so many twists and turns and layers to this story that just when you think you have it all figured out – and you probably will figure the “whodunnit – a new discovery is revealed and you find yourself back at square one. While there is the underlying mystery of Diana’s death in the novel, The Mother-in-Law truly is a family drama at its core. It’s about relationships that grow, alter, are amended and die. It’s about family – those that work and those that are dysfunctional. Mother’s relationships with their children are complicated; when they become adults it is even more so. When they marry… well, complicated doesn’t even scratch the surface for many. And yet, The Mother-in-Law does scratch that surface and what it reveals will leave you stunned.

“With jaw-dropping discoveries, and realistic consequences, this novel is not to be missed. ” –Library Journal, starred review

Many thanks to #Netgalley @StMartinsPress and @SallyHepworth for copy of #TheMotherinLaw available April 23 at        amazon