May 14, 2016

Saturday Snapshot: White Bell Flowers

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken, then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky.

Those little white bell flowers hang along the back of this plant's stem.The plant is Solomon's Seal and can be used as an herbal too!

May 13, 2016

300 DAYS OF SUN by Deborah Lawrenson

The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.
300 Days of Sun, a novel by Deborah Lawrenson, published April 12, 2016 by Harper Paperbacks
Source: publisher
Deborah Lawrenson’s mesmerizing novel transports readers to Faro, a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past—where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes. (goodreads)

Book beginning, Prologue:
A few careless minutes, and the boy was gone.Violet shadows stretched from the rocks, clock hands over the sand. She shouldn't have allowed herself to linger, but the sea and sky had merged into a shimmering mirror of copper and red it was hard to tell if she was floating above the water, or standing on air. Waves beat time on the shore then reached out to caress her feet.
Chapter One:
I met Nathan Emberlin in Faro, southern Portugal, in August 2014,
At first, I thought he was just another adventurous young man, engaging but slightly immature. His beautiful sculpted face held a hint of vulnerability, but that ready smile and exuberant cheekiness eased his way, as did the radiant generosity of his spirit, so that it wasn't only women who smiled back, people of all ages warmed to Nathan, even the cross old man who guarded the stork's nest on the lamppost outside the tobacconist's shop.
Page 56:
"....He told me to meet him at the small chapel at the Largo do Carmo at seven o'clock today. He didn't say it was full of flaming bones - not sure I appreciate his sense of humour."
Themes: Portuguese history, politics and corruption, the kidnapping of a child, descriptions of the people and place.

Comments: The author is clearly captivated by Portugal, its differences and closeness to North Africa (the red sands from the Sahara drift over the Portuguese town from time to time), its people, weaving its story of the past into the present.

The novel is clearly the product of a lot of research and I learned things about Portugal that surprised me. In terms of the book's characters, most of the book is written in a journalistic style, as the narrator is Joanna Millard, a journalist in search of a story. Though this style makes the story somewhat cut and dry at times, the novel has definite historical merits.

My objective rating: 4/5

May 10, 2016

Book Review: I LET YOU GO by Clare Mackintosh

Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph every Tuesday. 
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, published May 3, 2016 by Berkley. 
Genre: thriller

First chapter, first paragraph:
Prologue: The wind flicks wet hair across her face, and she screws up her eyes against the rain. Weather like this makes everyone hurry, scurrying past on slippery pavements with chins buried into collars. Passing cars send spray over their shoes, the noise from the traffic making it impossible for her to hear more than a few words of the chattering update that began the moment the school gates opened. The words burst from him without a break, mixed up and back to front in the excitement of this new world into which he is growing. She makes out something about a best friend, a project on space, a new teacher, and she looks down and smiles at his excitement, ignoring the cold that weaves its way through her scarf. The boy grins back and tips up his head to taste the rain, wet eyelashes forming dark clumps around his eyes. 
Synopsis: Jenna Gray let go the hand of her five-year-old son for a few seconds as they walked home on the way from school and he ran ahead toward their front door. Those few seconds were enough time for her to lose him forever. 

She moves from her hometown in England for a cottage in Wales, leaving behind sad memories and an ex husband, wanting to make new friends and develop new relationships. But fate has other plans for her, as her ex is hardly out of the picture.

My comments: Imagine my surprise as I read on and found things are not what they seem and people are not who you think ... The novel is intense at times, very suspenseful, and has a surprise ending. I was ambivalent as I couldn't decide whether I would have ended the book that way or not. The plot twist takes the novel into a novel and noir direction.

My objective rating: 5/5
Thanks to the publisher for a review galley for their book tour. 

May 9, 2016

Summer Books 2016

Visit Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. 

It was a beautiful Mother's Day yesterday, with sun, blue skies, and perfect weather for sitting and walking outside. This guy thought so too, and appeared again this morning in the grass.

A few new books for review/feature:
The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam, to be released June 28, 2016 by HarperCollins.
On the eve of her departure from Boston, Zubaida Haque falls in love with Elijah Strong. But when fate sends her back to her hometown, she’s married to her childhood best friend and settled into a traditional Bangladeshi life. To escape familial constraints, she moves to Chittagong to help make a documentary film about the infamous shipbreaking beaches, where ships are destroyed and their various parts put up for sale. (goodreads)
The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen, to be released June 28, 2016 by Harper
A Finnish journalist, now a naturalized American citizen, asks Americans to draw on elements of the Nordic way of life to nurture a fairer, happier, more secure, and less stressful society for themselves and their children.
Sunshine Beach by Wendy Wax, to be released June 21by Berkley
Three women join forces to bring a historic seaside hotel back to life…

What are you reading this week? 

May 6, 2016

Book Beginning: A DROP IN THE OCEAN by Jenni Ogden

The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.
A Drop in the Ocean by Jenni Ogden, released May 3, 2016, published by She Writes Press. 

Book beginning:
On my forth-ninth birthday my shining career came to an inauspicious end. It took with it the jobs of four promising young scientists and catapulted my loyal research technician into premature retirement, an unjust reward for countless years of dedicated scut work.That April 6th began in exactly the same manner as all my birthdays over the previous fifteen years - Eggs Benedict with salmon, a slice of homemade wholemeal bread spread thickly with marmalade, and not one but two expressos at an Italian cafe in downtown Boston....
Page 56:
One morning as we were sitting on her deck relishing our second cup of coffee, she asked me again why I didn't swim or snorkel, and this time I told her. 
Book description: On her 49th birthday, Anna Fergusson, Boston neuroscientist, arrives at an unwanted crossroads when the funding for her research lab is cut. On impulse she rents a cabin for a year on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. However Turtle Island, alive with sea birds and nesting Green turtles, is not the retreat she expected. (goodreads)
What are you reading this weekend?

May 5, 2016

Book Review: Wedding Girl by Stacey Ballis

About WEDDING GIRL by Stacey Ballis, published May 3, 2016 by Berkley
Genre: romance, contemporary fiction
Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancĂ© were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home…
Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery and finds herself reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It pays the bills, but Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch. (publisher)

My comments: 
I enjoyed reading this light romance with the entertaining twists in plot - a successful and well-known chef is left at the altar by her fiance, and she disappears from society by hiding out with her grandmother Bubbles, making ends meet by working at a local bakery. Sophie soon uses her baking skills to improve the bakery's failing business  and meets a woman whom she gives advice to re wedding planning. Sophie soon becomes a wedding advisor online, incognito, and develops a whopping online business, with no one knowing her real identity. Romance comes into the picture later on, and a chance for Sophie to redeem her baking career. 

Add to the plot the amusing personalities of Sophie's grandmother and her bakery boss, and an online confidante whom she might just be interested in romantically.

Romance and foodie readers, this might be a book for you!

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of Wedding Girl.

Sunday Salon: Always Currently Reading

  Currently reading:  Missing and Endangered   by J.A. Jance, February 16, 2021, William Morrow Genre: thriller, suspense Source: library Ab...