Friday, July 31, 2020

Books Read in July

What did your July reads look like?

I see SEVEN mystery/thrillers in my July reads.  :)

Book Blogger Hop - 7/31 - 8/6

Question of the Week:
If you haven't read a book in a while and someone asks about a character or the plot, can you recall the details? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)

My Answer:

I actually can recall the plot.

My reader friends are always amazed how I remember book titles and authors as well as book details.

Friendly Fill-Ins - 7/31/2020


1. If you want _____, you have to ______.

2. During the month of  August, I plan to _______.

3. Others might think it's strange that I _____.

4. _____ seems so far away.


1.  If you want to be a writer, you have to be a good reader.

2.  During the month of August, I plan to be happy I am a retired teacher.

3.  Others might think it's strange that I don't mind staying home.

4.  Thanksgiving doesn't seem so far away.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Spotlight: A Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan


Information in this post is courtesy of Lisha Samuel of Wunderkind PR.
The release of UNIVERSE OF TWO will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and Kiernan’s carefully researched novel zeroes in on the creation of this weapon of mass destruction, the moral dilemma each scientist and mathematician faced, the consequences of their actions, and their ultimate drive for redemption. In reality, it was far more complicated.
“Kiernan (The Baker’s Secret, 2017) movingly charts a couple’s relationship alongside the development of WWII’s Manhattan Project… Kiernan recreates the zeitgeist of America leading up to the atomic bomb on a national and personal level: the eager anticipation of wartime’s end, the grimly fascinating science, and the growing sense of guilt and dread. Simultaneously tender and hard-hitting, this riveting story offers much to reflect upon.” 

"General readers and those interested in the time period will enjoy this brutally honest novel by the author of The Baker’s Secret.”
—Library Journal 

Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan skillfully educates, entertains and enlightens as great historical fiction should. This masterfully researched and exquisitely told story of one man’s struggle of conscience is a fictionalized account of the life of Charles Fisk, a gifted young mathematician who was drafted to build the detonator for the atomic bomb.”
—The Boston Globe

“Stephen P. Kiernan writes with heart and humor. Both Brenda and Charlie are flawed and interesting, dealing with the disruptions of young love and uncertain war. Kiernan manages to balance serious historical questions and ethical issues with lively characters, sharp dialogue, and marvelous historical detail… Kiernan uses the outline of Fisk’s story to ask his own questions about personal and national responsibility and explore conflicting attitudes among those who built the atomic bombs. A great read.”
—Historical Novels Review

“Stephen Kiernan has pulled off the nearly impossible, reminding us by wrapping a war story in a love story that although we hold the power for our own extinction, we also have the power to redeem, heal, and save.  The most tender, terrifying, relevant book you’ll read this year.”—Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family


“Rarely does historical fiction get everything so right as UNIVERSE OF TWO: compelling characters, faithful detail, a story packed with unexpected twists, and a sure, authentic voice that never wavers. In this novel of the dawn of the atomic age and its profound consequences, Stephen Kiernan leads us along a journey of conscience as complex and infinite as the science itself.”—Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of The Golden Hour



 Behind Universe of Two
The secret behind my new novel, Universe of Two, is that it is based on a real person. Four years ago, I read an essay in The Georgia Review about a man who worked on building the atomic bomb, and later went on to become a world-famous cathedral organ builder. I remember exactly where I was sitting, because I lifted my head and said out loud, “That is a novel.”

The man was named Charles Fisk. As I dug into his past, I realized there were numerous reasons that his story would not provide a coherent narrative. And so, I used two aspects of his life – bomb builder, organ maker; destroyer, creator – as the skeleton on which I built a fully-fleshed, fictional character.

Research for this novel was terrifying and fascinating. I read deeply on the technology of the bomb. I was hassled by Department of Energy officers when I traipsed all over Los Alamos. On the way home, airport security emptied my bags completely, inspecting my belongings item by item (with many questions about why I was carrying books about bombs).

Conversely, I stood inside the pipes and bellows of some of the finest organs in North America. I toured an organ factory. I received a private concert by the university organist at Harvard. Also, I had profound conversations with clergy and philosophers about conscience – especially how we recover when we have not followed its commands.

There were many surprises. The average age of the workers at Los Alamos, for example, was twenty-seven. Manhattan Project director Robert Oppenheimer was called “the Old Man,” and he was just thirty-nine. Most importantly, I learned that many people building the bomb had misgivings. They met on Sundays and debated whether to work the next day. Some resigned when Germany surrendered, because Japan had no bomb program to threaten the U.S. Hundreds of them signed petitions to President Truman, calling for the bomb never to be used on human beings. Till now, that story has gone untold.

August 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is my fervent hope that Universe of Two will humanize the misgivings shared by the bomb’s architects, through its story of a man and woman trying to love one another while they are trapped in creating the strongest instrument of slaughter in human history.
—Stephen P. Kiernan, Author

UNIVERSE OF TWO (May 2020) is Stephen P. Kiernan’s sixth publication, following the novels THE BAKER'S SECRET (2017), THE CURIOSITY (2013) and THE HUMMINGBIRD (2015), and two works of nonfiction, LAST RIGHTS (2006), and AUTHENTIC PATRIOTISM (2010).

Together with his work as a journalist, he has earned more than 40 writing awards, including the George Polk Award and the National Journalism Award (Scripps-Howard).

A graduate of Middlebury College, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, he has worked at the Breadloaf School of English and the Breadloaf Writers Conference.

A longtime board member of the Young Writers Project, he lives in Vermont.

Connect with Stephen!


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

He Started It by Samantha Downing

Why would their grandfather require his grandchildren to re-live a trip they took with him when they were young in order to inherit his fortune?

They were doing it by the book because the attorney was adamant that it was the only way he would release the money.

The trip was not fun, but they did remember some of the places they went.  

It was ok for the first day, but then everyone was getting on each other’s nerves, someone crashed into them and seemed to be following them, they had to stay in cheap motels, and had a flat tire.

There is also a diary one of the children shares with us that reveals secrets that everyone doesn’t know about.

The book had chapters that left you hanging, but I was getting tired of this trip too.  

HE STARTED IT dragged on and on with flashbacks of the original trip and the current trip.

I kept reading because I wanted to know where this was going.  

This was not a favorite book nor one that I couldn’t wait to get back to.

The ending was nothing outstanding, but since the story flowed, my rating is 3/5.

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


NEVER LET YOU GO has tension oozing through the pages and keeps you turning the pages as you want to know what is going to happen next.


Monday, July 27, 2020

The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

It’s 1918, and the Spanish flu is running rampant. Family members are passing away right in front of their loved ones' eyes, food is scarce, and the living conditions in the tenement and slums are deplorable.

The flu took Pia’s mother, and then Pia is left with the care of her twin infant brothers since her father was fighting in the war. Pia was doing well until she needed to leave the house to find food. She didn't take her brothers because they would be too much to carry, but she wouldn’t be gone long.

We then meet Bernice. Bernice is a distraught mother in another building whose baby had passed away from the flu and who saw Pia leaving without her twin brothers and decided she would take them for her own.

We follow Pia as she struggles with her life and the guilt about leaving her brothers. You will feel sorry for Pia. 

You will not feel sorry for Bernice because of her deceitful, unethical, uncaring ways.

Ms. Wiseman's description of the plight of the people of Philadelphia during the pandemic is exceptional.  You will feel every emotion the characters are feeling.

THE ORPHAN COLLECTOR is an outstanding novel that touches on human empathy as well as people taking advantage of others.  


You will see the similarities to the pandemic of 2020 but hope something good happens to Pia.  

THE ORPHAN COLLECTOR is heart wrenching but will have you glued to the pages as well as have you wondering what evil deed Bernice will do next.

A highly recommended book for historical fiction and suspense fans. 5/5 

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

COVER REVEAL - Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig

Book details: BAND OF SISTERS by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willing (William Morrow hardcover; on-sale March 2, 2021)


All information in this post is courtesy of Danielle Bartlett of Harper Collins.



A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.

A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit.

Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.

Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences? As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit.

With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters? 



Pre-order link HERE.

It's Monday!! What Are YOU Reading? - 7/27/2020
I hope you had a great reading week.
This is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at BOOK DATE!

Post the books completed, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish at some point.
Books Completed:

WHEN I WAS YOU by Amber Garza - review will be on August 31 - finished on July 26.

WOW - this book is brilliant and twisty.

THREE PERFECT LIARS by Heidi Parks - review will be on August 18 - finished on July 24.

A good one.

THE FIRST TO LIE by Hank Phillippi Ryan - review will be on August 5 - finished July 21.

LIES, LIES, LIES by Adele Parks - review will be on August 10 - finished on July 17.

Not a favorite at all.
SOMEONE'S LISTENING by Seraphina Nova Glass - review will be on August 3 - finished on July 14.

LOUISIANA LUCKY by Julie Pennell - review will be on August 7 - finished on July 10.

UNTIL I FIND YOU by Rea Frey - review will be on August 11 - finished on July 8.

THE LAST OF THE MOON GIRLS by Barbara Davis - review will be on August 1 - finished on July 4.

HE STARTED IT by Samantha Downing - review will be on July 29.
Not a favorite read - finished on July 2.
THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES by Kristen Harmel - review is in the book's title.

THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Fiona Davis - review will be on August 4 - finished on June 28.

THE ORPHAN COLLECTOR by Ellen Marie Wiseman - review will be on July 27 - finished on June 22.

I could not put this marvelous book down.

THE WIFE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH by Michelle Campbell - review is in the book's title.
If you enjoy thrillers, do not miss reading this book.
THE KIMINEE DREAM by Laiura McHale Holland - review is in the book's title.

THE VACATION by T. M. Logan - review is in the book's title.

THE STAR-CROSSED SISTERS OF TUSCANY by Lori Nelson Spielman - review will be on November 17 - finished on February 16.

LOVED this book.
Book Currently Reading:

CORAL COTTAGE by Jan Moran - review will be on August 19.


Books Up Next:

DON'T LOOK FOR ME by Wendy Walker - review will be on September 15.

THE PAPER DAUGHTERS OF CHINA TOWN by Heather B. Moore - review will be on September 1.

ELI'S PROMISE by Ronald H. Balson - review will be on September 22.

TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH by Gilly MacMillan - review will be on September 23.

THE TALENTED MRS. FARWELL by Emily Gray Tedrowe - review will be on September 29.

THE THREE MRS. WRIGHTS by Linda Kerr - review will be on September 30.

WHEN WE WERE YOUNG AND BRAVE by Hazel Gaynor - review will be on October 6.
INVISIBLE GIRL by Lisa Jewell - review will be on October 13.

THE TRANSATLANTIC BOOK CLUB by Felcity Hayes-McCoy - review will be on October 14. 

THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR by Rose Carlyle- review will be on October 20.


THE MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO PRAGUE by Carol Windly - review will be on November 3.

IN SEARCH OF A NAME by Marjolijn Van Heemstra - review will be on November 11.

TRACE OF DECEIT by Karen Odden - review will be on November 24.

THE WIFE UPSTAIRS by Rachel Hawkins - review will be on January 5, 2021.

THE PARIS LIBRARY by Janet Skeslien Charles - review will be on February 2, 2021 .

THE ECHO WIFE - Sarah Galley - review will be on February 16, 2021.

THE GOOD SISTER by Sally Hepworth - review will be on April 13, 2021.