Summer at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild

The very kind Susan Schild sent me an electronic copy of her latest Lakeside Resort novel in order for me to read and review. I just love this series! It centers on a 40-something-year-old woman (Jenny) who is making a fresh start by creating a resort with some property she has inherited. She lives in a trailer there and has two cute dogs and an adorable pet miniature horse. I totally want a mini horse since reading these books!

Here’s the overview:

Ready for more love and adventure after 40?

Forty-three year old Jenny Beckett has just renovated eight rustic guest cabins on beautiful Heron Lake, North Carolina. Brand new to the inn- keeping business, she is struggling to make The Lakeside Resort profitable. Wrangling guests like The Fighting Couple, persnickety attorneys, and the curvy gals from the Fabulous You Fitness Week keep her on her toes. Jenny’s business isn’t her only problem. Her mother and stepfather have just moved in for an extended stay. Startling developments with her possible fiancé, Luke, make Jenny question his commitment to her. An all-gal camping trip in her old Airstream lifts her spirits, but Jenny still has doubts about whether she and Luke can make their love work.

After all the heartache she’s had, can Jenny learn to trust love again and finally find her happily ever after?

This book is sometimes termed “romance” or “women’s fiction” or “clean reading” or even “Christian” – all I can tell you is that it’s a feel-good story that is very relatable if you, like me, found your love when you were older! Plus there’s that cute mini horse!! Lots of every day issues and challenges and an easy flow to the writing make it easy to read. And I always love a happy ending.

Thank you, Ms. Schild, for my copy!! I notice that that place that I no longer link to has kindle copies for only $4.99 right now!

And — You don’t have to read the first in the series to appreciate this one, but do yourself a favor and get it, too!

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

I love Melanie Benjamin’s writing (The Aviator’s Wife, The Swans of Fifth Avenue, The Girls in the Picture – to name a few). She makes historical characters come alive and her attention to historical is spot on. She also never makes anachronistic slips in her writing. Mistress of the Ritz is based on the real person, Blanche Auzello, and her husband Claude who was the manager of the Ritz during the German occupation of Paris in WWII. Blanche is a vibrant and unforgettable character, as daring as she is brave, even as she hides a secret. Apparently, there is not too much known of the personal lives of the real Claude and Blanche, but Ms. Benjamin’s writing never feels campy or too incredible. Instead she does what she does best — slowly peeling away the layers of character so that by the end of the book we feel we know the person intimately.

This was an interesting and great read.

Thank you for my e-copy to review via Net Galley!

Description

A captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II—while playing hostess to the invading Germans at the iconic Hôtel Ritz in Paris—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

“A compelling portrait of a marriage and a nation at war from within.”—Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network

Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel’s director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests—and each other.

Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goëring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets and lies. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For in order to survive—and strike a blow against their Nazi “guests”—Blanche and Claude must spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish.

But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone—the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself.

Based on true events, Mistress of the Ritz is a taut tale of suspense wrapped up in a love story for the ages, the inspiring story of a woman and a man who discover the best in each other amid the turbulence of war.

Advance praise for Mistress of the Ritz

“No one writes of the complexities of women’s lives and loves like Melanie Benjamin. In Mistress of the Ritz, Benjamin brings wartime Paris brilliantly to life. . . . Intense, illuminating, and ultimately inspiring!”—Elizabeth Letts, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Dorothy

Me again — having read this, I wondered about the real Paris Ritz as I’ve never seen it. Here’s a link to google images of it – oo la la!

Some google images of the Ritz in Paris

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

This spring I listened to the audiobook of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane via Audible and I loved it! I knew Katherine Howe from her awesome YA novel, Conversion, so I knew I’d enjoy another novel by her. Physick Book is the first in a series about women “witches” and their descendants. It was quite intriguing and well-narrated. And I was thrilled that I could immediately pair it with The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs, since that continued the story. That said, I don’t think you need to read one in order to read the other — “Daughters” stands alone as a novel in its own right.

Here’s the overview:

Description

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe returns to the world of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane with a bewitching story of a New England history professor who must race against time to free her family from a curse

Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows.

When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.

Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most.

Now I’m the type of person who LOVES reading about history and Salem and Katherine Howe has a wealth of information and knowledge, and is a gifted writer, so this was a win for me. I actually had the chance to briefly meet Ms. Howe at BEA several years ago and she was quite gracious and lovely and humble.

Thank you, Net Galley and Henry Holt and Co., for my review copy!

Happy June 25th Pub Day to Ms. Howe!

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

Description

Oceans and decades apart, two women are inextricably bound by the secrets between them.

Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.

America, present day. Tori Kovac, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation—one that calls into question everything she understood about him, her family and herself. Setting out to learn the truth behind the letter, Tori’s journey leads her halfway around the world to a remote seaside village in Japan, where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.

In breathtaking prose and inspired by true stories from a devastating and little-known era in Japanese and American history, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

Oh – I loved this beautifully written book about a young woman tracing the secret past of her family. I particularly liked the story of the past, with young, headstrong Naoko who is in love with an American. As always, redemption is a favorite theme of mine and this story was compelling, memorable, and touching.

Recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction!

Thank you for my review e-copy!

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

I absolutely loved this story about a “blue” woman who works as a librarian on horseback in the mountainous “hollers” of Kentucky. Cussy Mary’s vocation is to bring literacy to the people of her area and the fact that she is shunned for being “blue” won’t stop her. I loved the voice of this character and found the storyline intriguing and interesting. I did wonder why the author chose the blue storyline and then discovered that it is based in fact — there was a succession of Kentuckians who shared a recessive gene that led to unoxygenated blood, which makes the skin appear blue. Interesting!

Highly recommended! Thanks for my e-copy to review!

Description

The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is.  Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own  traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter. 

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however,  she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble.  If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler. 

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage,  fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

Treading the Uneven Road – a short story collection by L.M. Brown

I received an electronic copy of this wonderful collection of stories from the author a few months ago. They take place in Ireland and are all inter-related.

Description:
The stories in this collection are set 1980’s and 90’s Ireland. A by-pass around a small village has rid the residents of their once busy traffic. They feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later and the woman whose dreams are shattered because of a married lover. Treading the Uneven Road introduces us to a society that is unraveling and we cannot help feel for Brown’s characters who need to make a choice on how to carry on.

Me again!! I love Ireland and I love short stories where there is a connecting thread throughout them all. These aren’t all happiness and light, but they do leave you thinking about the characters and wondering about their lives. Brown has the ability to develop character and evoke setting, so that these stories are vividly impressed upon you as you read.

Thank you so much for my review copy! You can find it on Amazon and other online retailers!

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

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Those of you who love Kate DiCamillo and her “Raymie Nightingale” will remember Louisiana Elefante. In this middle grade novel, the next chapter of Louisiana’s story is told. This was a quick read with a very distinct narrator’s voice (I don’t think Louisiana ever speaks with contractions), and while it was sad (the child is basically abandoned – twice), it has a sweet ending with a theme of accepting yourself for who you are.

I’ll be sure to recommend this one to our school library. Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!

Description