Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers


This book is beautifully written, has outstanding characters with depth, includes mystery and intrigue, has a plot that will keep you engaged, and a tale you won’t want to end.

We all have a past whether sordid or lily white.  We either like to keep our past hidden or allow it to be an open book.  Agnes didn't like to think of her past.  She did have an unpleasant history and tried to keep it buried, but people and circumstances caused others to want to "dig" into the life she led before she arrived in Chartres.

The storyline is unique and appealing.  Through Ms. Vickers' skillful style, the book masterfully draws out the secrets of Agnes' life with hints of what she holds inside. The hints at her life capture your attention and then move to something else as you patiently wait for the next piece of the puzzle to be revealed. 

You will not be disappointed and will quickly want to move to the next chapter to enjoy more of the creative, absorbing story.  The chapters move smoothly between time periods giving background information as well information about the life Agnes currently leads. The interaction of the characters was marvelous.  The writing is very detailed, and the characters and scenes are vivid.  

THE CLEANER OF CHARTRES took a few pages to become interesting, but once the story took off, it was quite captivating as the mystery of who Agnes really was and what caused her to be the person she had become unfolds.  You will grow to love Agnes as she makes it through her life simply and effectually and share every turn her life takes.  You will feel sorry for Agnes but will also be amazed at her resiliency since she didn't have an easy life and especially since she was able to function as an illiterate.  The story will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

As well as a wonderful storyline and wonderful characters, you will learn about The Cathedral of Chartres.  The history of this cathedral was fascinating and had me looking up photos of the structure as well as particulars of the church and its beautiful stained glass windows.  The book's cover is charming.

I wholeheartedly enjoyed this story of Agnes.  I hope you will be able to read this book and get caught up in her life as I did.  5/5  

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

Ok all you wonderful ladies who stayed home and took care of a husband and your will love this book.  It is simply delightful, just like the author whom I had the pleasure of meeting.

Leslie Carter was a stay-at-home wife/mother who pinched pennies all her life and was starting to wonder why she did.  She was tired of being unappreciated and taken for granted especially when she accidentally found a bank statement her husband, Wesley, never allowed her to see that had a balance of 22 million dollars.  Yes....22 million....she couldn't believe it.

Leslie decided she needed a vacation from Wesley to cool off.  First from the accident she had in Edinburgh which Wesley was so indifferent about and now all this secret money.  She knew the best place to go was her brother's in Charleston, their childhood city.  Leslie found more than she expected once she arrived.

You will love Leslie for how genuine she is, how believable she is, and how brave she is to finally do something to make herself happy. definitely will dislike Wesley as well as their two children because of their selfishness and disregard for anyone but themselves.

The book has great descriptions both of the characters and the landscapes of the Lowcountry.  It is a sweet, homey read and will make you think about your family and your relationships in a new light or simply  make you happy or unhappy about where you are in your own life.  It will have you doing some introspection as well as having a good laugh.  The ending is awesome.

I truly enjoyed this book. This is the second book of Ms. Benton Frank's that I have read, and I am very happy with both of them. The content makes me want to read all of her books.

I received this book without compensation and free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt

At one time happy families, at one time a happy circle of friends, but then a missing child, a heartache for life, and a secret.

This secret, had it been revealed, most likely would have made the lives of Rose, Lewis, Ava, and Dot totally different.

After Jimmy disappeared nothing was the same for any of the main characters.  The disappearance was the focus of their lives and consumed every minute of their day as they tried to move on or moved away.

The book at first appeared as if it were going to be a love story, but what a surprise.  It turned into a mystery with such remarkable storytelling and such an incredible plot that it was difficult to figure out.  You thought you knew who was responsible, and then another incident arose as another character told where they were on that fateful day creating a twist to throw you off.  As you hear these stories, you will want to turn back the clock, and you will want to shake the characters into telling their true feelings to each other for comfort and hope.

The tragedy and the mystery made the book refreshingly different just like the characters.  IS THIS TOMORROW was very well written with wonderful descriptions of the scenes and of the characters. All of the characters were a bit gloomy but most were quite loveable and endearing. Rose was my favorite. She was sweet, unassuming, innocent, yet very thoughtful.  Lewis was brilliant but had issues that kept him from achieving his full potential.  Ava finally found something that would make use of her talents and that made her happy, but she still remained alone. Dot was forever sad about losing her son.

If you want a book that you can't wait to get back to, IS THIS TOMORROW is the ticket.  It was a bit slow at first, but with all the twists and turns and the terrific plot, you will find yourself devouring the pages looking for answers just as the characters did.

I hope you enjoy this book and its interesting plot as much as I did.  5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe - Jenny Colgan

A baker, a real estate agent, and then back to a baker.  Issy Randall had come full circle in her life, but could the circle be completed?

Issy lost her job at the real estate agency and was at a loss as to what she could do for a living.  She wanted to do something creative this time around. She decided to open a cupcake shop since she had Grandpa’s recipes and his inherent baking talent to back her up.  Issy started out having a rough time with her new endeavor, but she wasn't giving up just yet. 
The characters in the book worked well together, were easily visualized, and will have you rooting for their successes as well as shedding tears for their losses.  Issy was a sweet, loveable character who found good in everyone just like her Grandpa. 

MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFE is absolutely adorable just like the main character, Issy, and focuses on finding happiness, sharing happiness, and developing wonderful friendships.   

Once I started reading this charming book, I didn't want to stop because I needed to see what Issy's next move was. The recipes at the end of the chapters added that extra special touch and were connected to what was happening in Issy's life during that particular part of the book.  The cupcake and cake recipes sounded so yummy. 

Ms. Colgan’s book is an endearing, delightful read that will raise your spirits and definitely have you making something sugary or running out to buy something sugary at your favorite pastry shop.   
The book was as sweet as the icing on Issy's cupcakes, and a book that will leave a cozy, warm feeling with you as you share Issy's successes and heartbreaks.  Don't miss this enjoyable, heartwarming read.  5/5
This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Edge of the Earth by Christina Schwarz

From a privileged childhood home to a home in a lighthouse. Quite a change from what Trudy was used to, but she loved her husband even though her parents didn't approve of her choice of her spouse. Trudy didn't see her husband as being the person he really was until later in their marriage, but she was in love and no one could tell her otherwise. 

The lighthouse was isolated, and the life was lonely for her. The only company she had were the Crawley's four children whom she taught and Mr. And Mrs. Crowley, the husband and wife who were the other lighthouse keepers.  Mrs Crawley was very strict and unpleasant and had an intriguing secret.

The book is slow at the beginning, but once you get to Page 80 you won't want to stop reading.  The descriptions are very vivid and put you in the cove and among the waves with the characters and the strange hermit who lived and took things from the beach and the lighthouse inhabitants.

You will share Trudy's loneliness but also envy her for being in this interesting, inspiring place. You will learn about sea creatures as well as the life of folks during that time period and how they had to wait for months in their remote home for letters and food.

It wasn't a riveting, action-packed book, but the appealing characters, the detailed descriptions of the lives of the characters and their surroundings, the different, very engaging storyline,and the work done by Trudy will definitely keep you interested.

Perhaps as I did you will re-read the beginning pages to truly understand what those pages actually meant and how they were connected to the rest of the story.  Re-reading helped to give more meaning to the book's premise.

Despite the slow start, I thoroughly enjoyed THE EDGE OF THE EARTH.  The cover itself will draw you in.  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without any compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Time Between by Karen White

Pianos, beaches, mansions, guilt, accidents, decisions, grief, love, secrets and children who didn't know each other as children but knew each other now as adults.

Eleanor was the cause of her sister's paralyzing accident when they were children, and her mother never let her forget it.  Eleanor was made to work and take care of her sister Eve.  Eleanor seemed to be at the beck and call of every family member and did not think of herself or think of her own happiness.  Eve seemed to enjoy how uncomfortable she always made her sister feel and how she could still make her feel guilty about the accident. Their mother wasn't any nicer to Eleanor and seemed to expect Eleanor to pay for what she did to her sister.  

One day Eleanor's boss, Finn, had a proposition that would allow Eleanor to return to Edisto Island where she and her family had always spent their vacations. Would this be good for Eleanor or would it bring back too many sad memories of her father? Would it relieve some of Eleanor's guilt?  She had to give it a try.  Something had to help her heal and forgive herself and to gain her sister's forgiveness.  The piano she saw in Helena's house cinched her decision about accepting the job.  Playing the piano was Eleanor's passion.   

When Eleanor arrived on Edisto Island, she met Aunt Helena and Genevieve.  They both were likable characters even though Helena tried to rattle Eleanor at first, but that kept Eleanor going.  Genevieve was an adorable girl who loved pink.  The characters were authentic and genuine. The descriptions of the characters' every move and thoughts were marvelous.

THE TIME  BETWEEN is a heartwarming, redeeming, cozy read with exceptional writing that sets the mood for the book's theme.  I could feel myself become a part of the feelings of each character whether it was a sense of belonging or rejection.  When Eleanor interacted with Helena,  you could feel the warmth between them growing not only as caregiver and the one being cared for but as kindred souls searching for something, and in Helena's case hiding something.  Each character kept you guessing about his/her motives, their reason for acting the way they did, and what they actually were looking for in their relationships with each other.

Through Ms. White's skillful writing style you could tell her characters were obscure but sincere in their feelings for each other and that something was being hidden and being held back by each of them.  The book's chapters were titled with each character's name, and that character's voice spoke for that specific section.  

The book had an effortless flow and a very appealing storyline.  It addressed human feelings, choices, and healing.  The ending was painful but uplifting as well as fascinating because of the added bonus of information about WWII.

It was an enjoyable but thought-provoking book that will have you sitting back and definitely thinking about "the time between" that was explained on Page 319 as: 

"There is how we were before, and how we are now, and the time between is spent choosing which doors to open, and which to close."   

This book was absolutely wonderful.  I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the lessons learned, and the book's comfortable pace.  5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.