Sunday, October 9, 2016

Book Review: Christmas in America: Historical Romance Anthology

Hi all,

If Holly Bush writes a book or story, then I want to read it. I love her historical romances. So when she offered me a copy of the anthology her newest story is in, I jumped at the chance to read it. Here is more about the book and my thoughts.


Christmas in America: Historical Romance Anthology
Authors: Holly Bush, Piper Huguley, Joanna Shupe, Donna Thorland


Book Description:

The celebration of Christmas is a magical time for love. A new anthology filled with America's rich history and Christmas traditions from four of your favorite historical romance authors.

“Christmas at Mount Holly” by Donna Thorland

The Jerseys, December 23rd, 1776 - The American Revolution is on the brink of total collapse. The Rebels have lost New York, the Continental Army has endured a disastrous retreat through New Jersey, and Washington is about to lose what remains when enlistments expire on New Year’s Eve. The cause needs a miracle, but Christmas is a time for wonders: as Angela Ferrers—the woman known to history as the Widow of Mount Holly—will discover when she sets a honey trap for Hessian Colonel Count Carl Emil Urich von Donop, only to find herself ensnared in mutual attraction.

“Miracle on Ladies’ Mile” by Joanna Shupe

New York, 1895 - After losing his beloved wife, department store owner Alexander Armstrong seems incapable of anything other than work, despite his ache to be a better father to his daughter. When the pair encounters Grace, a charming shop girl designing the store’s Christmas window displays, he struggles to accept that perhaps miracles do happen in the most unlikely of places…

“The Cowboy’s Christmas” by Piper Huguley

Smithson, Oklahoma Territory, 1893 - Postponing her missionary trip to Africa, apprentice teacher Serena Newcomb must travel west to face the unrequited love of her past -- rebel cowboy Baxter Smithson. Banished from his Georgia home for the crime of falling in love with the wrong woman, Baxter is surprised that his Christmas gift is a grown-up Serena, ready to confront him for ignoring his duty and to show him that the true meaning of Christmas is love.

“Into the Evermore” by Holly Bush

Virginia, 1842 - Eleanor McManus, upright daughter of a minister, is rescued from kidnappers somewhere in the deep forest wilderness by a rough and tumble fur trader, Beauregard Gentry. With his help, Eleanor makes her way back to her intended groom who declares her soiled, and she finds herself alone, pressured to make life decisions without benefit of family or others she can trust. Beauregard and Eleanor agree to begin a life together, build their legacy together, and their growing devotion to each other is witnessed one cold, crisp Christmas morning.

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My 5-Star Review:

I’ll be completely honest here – I only read Holly Bush’s story in this anthology. But if the others are even half as good as hers is, then you are in for an amazing read.

Set in 1842, Into the Evermore starts out running and keeps up a good pace throughout. Eleanor McManus, the daughter of a devout minister, has been taken captive in the wilds of Virginia after her parents and siblings are murdered. Just as she is about to be sold to some ungainly men, Beauregard Gentry comes to her rescue. He escorts her to the nearest town where her betrothed decides she is unfit after what has happened to her. Again, Beau comes to her aid by helping her bury her family and then finds her a decent place to stay for the time being. As the two grow close, they decide to begin a life together.

Into the Evermore is the first in a new series by Holly Bush. It sets the stage nicely for the next installment. I truly enjoy Holly’s writing style and her expert dialogue. It’s easy and enjoyable to picture in your mind what her words are painting. I’m looking forward to this series and highly recommend you read this anthology.


Check out my other reviews of Holly Bush’s books:

Contract to Wed

The Maid’s Quarters

Her Safe Harbor

Charming the Duke

Cross the Ocean

Romancing Olive

Reconstructing Jackson




Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Review: Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Hi all,

If you love a book with deep drama and desperate characters, this one is for you. Although it can be heavy at times, I still enjoyed this novel by author Alice Hoffman. Here is my review.


Alice Hoffman


Book Description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.


Publish Date: November 1, 2016

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My 5 Star Review:

Life can change in an instant and that is exactly what happens one night to sixteen-year-old Shelby Richmond on an icy highway. She may have been the one to walk away from the accident, but she is just as damaged as her best friend who is left in a coma. Shelby struggles to find a way to continue living when she feels completely at fault for her friend’s situation. She feels cold and unlovable, unable to face the world. And as time goes by and she slowly rejoins life – if rather reluctantly – she soon finds a way to connect with others whose lives haven’t been easy either.

This story is not for the faint of heart. If you are looking to for a feel-good story – this one isn’t for you. It’s raw and emotional, and digs into your heart. But between the beautiful writing and the interesting characters, you just can’t stop turning the pages.

A hauntingly beautiful story of finding yourself after the worst thing can happen.


About the Author:

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.

Hoffman's first novel, Property Of, was written at the age of twenty-one, while she was studying at Stanford, and published shortly thereafter by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She credits her mentor, professor and writer Albert J. Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. Editor Ted Solotaroff then contacted her to ask if she had a novel, at which point she quickly began to write what was to become Property Of, a section of which was published in Mr. Solotaroff's magazine, American Review.

Since that remarkable beginning, Alice Hoffman has become one of our most distinguished novelists. She has published a total of eighteen novels, two books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. Her novel, Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club choice, was a modern reworking of some of the themes of Emily Bronte's masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Her novel, At Risk, which concerns a family dealing with AIDS, can be found on the reading lists of many universities, colleges and secondary schools. Her advance from Local Girls, a collection of inter-related fictions about love and loss on Long Island, was donated to help create the Hoffman (Women's Cancer) Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Blackbird House is a book of stories centering around an old farm on Cape Cod. Hoffman's recent books include Aquamarine and Indigo, novels for pre-teens, and The New York Times bestsellers The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, and The Ice Queen. Green Angel, a post-apocalyptic fairy tale about loss and love, was published by Scholastic and The Foretelling, a book about an Amazon girl in the Bronze Age, was published by Little Brown. In 2007 Little Brown published the teen novel Incantation, a story about hidden Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, which Publishers Weekly has chosen as one of the best books of the year. In January 2007, Skylight Confessions, a novel about one family's secret history, was released on the 30th anniversary of the publication of Her first novel. Her most recent novel is The Story Sisters (2009), published by Shaye Areheart Books.

Hoffman's work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay "Independence Day" a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Wiest. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and other magazines. Her teen novel Aquamarine was recently made into a film starring Emma Roberts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Book Review: Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell

Hi all,

I was lucky enough to get a copy of this amazing novel ~ Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell ~ and I'd love to share it with you. It's a must read for anyone who loves a good story and great writing!
Letters from Paris

Juliet Blackwell
Book Description: 

After surviving the accident that took her mother’s life, Claire Broussard has worked hard to escape her small Louisiana hometown. But these days she feels something is lacking. Abruptly leaving her lucrative job in Chicago, Claire returns home to care for her ailing grandmother. There, she unearths a beautiful piece of artwork that her great-grandfather sent home from Paris after World War II.

At her grandmother’s urging, Claire travels to Paris to track down the century-old mask-making atelier where the object, known only as “L’Inconnue”—or The Unknown Woman—was created. Under the watchful eye of a surly mask-maker, Claire discovers a cache of letters that offers insight into the life of the Belle Epoque woman immortalized in the work of art. As Claire explores the unknown woman’s tragic fate, she begins to unravel deeply buried secrets in her own life.

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My 5 Star Review:

Beautiful. Intriguing. Captivating. These three words just begin to describe how I felt about this novel. The writing, the setting, and the storyline were all beautiful. The characters were intriguing. And what Claire uncovers in Paris is captivating. It is a story that holds your attention and keeps you wanting more.

Claire’s life in Chicago does not give her all she desires so when her grandmother becomes ill, she goes home to Louisiana, the place she once couldn’t wait to flee. There, she is confronted with her sad childhood and finds the mask in the attic where she used to hide, the mask of the beautiful lady who she’d confide all her secrets and desires to. Her grandmother tells her she should go to Paris to find answers about the mystery of the lady of the mask. With nowhere else to go, Claire heads to Paris and embarks on an adventure. What she finds is a brusque but intriguing mask-maker, a long-hid secret, and even a secret from her own past that startles her to her core.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves a well-written story with wonderful characters and an intriguing story. Escaping to Paris for a few hours isn’t too bad either.

(I received this novel from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)


About the Author:

Juliet Blackwell was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the youngest child of a jet pilot and an editor. She graduated with a degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and went on to earn master’s degrees in anthropology and social work. While in graduate school, she published several articles based on her research with immigrant families from Mexico and Vietnam, as well as one full-length translation: Miguel León-Portilla’s seminal work, Endangered Cultures. Juliet taught medical anthropology at SUNY–Albany, was producer for a BBC documentary, and worked as an elementary school social worker. Upon her return to California, she became a professional artist and ran her own decorative painting and design studio for more than a decade. In addition to mainstream novels, Juliet pens the New York Times bestselling Witchcraft Mysteries and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind she wrote the Agatha Award–nominated Art Lover’s Mysteries series. She makes her home in northern California, but spends as much time as possible in Europe and Latin America.
I hope you'll give this book a try!