September was a very busy month with finishing up the garden (early this year), temps turning cool, and fewer sunny days. I know many of you love the fall colors and relief from summer high temperatures, but for me it’s a herald of the coming winter–NOT something I look forward to.
My big bookish news, of course, was the achievement of the 500 reviews badge from NetGalley. That required a concentrated effort this year after I determined I could achieve the badge this year. Having done so, I can relax a little now and get back to more diversity.
Together we read or listened to seventeen books in September from NetGalley, as well as audiobooks and a couple author requests.
YAY! The CE and I both had two books that we felt warranted five stars—a first. My stars went to two of my favorite authors, Amanda Hughes and Melanie Forde. I love the books by these ladies and highly recommend them (my review links above). And I must mention again the audiobook read by Tom Hanks, The Dutch House (link to my review above). The entertainment value!—my gosh—the man can read!
Have you read any of the above? Agree with us?
My challenges—behind again. My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. Hopefully can get them caught up soon. You can always check out their progress by clicking the Reading Challengespage. I’m now at 82% of the Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 149 and achieved my Audiobook Challenge of 30, the Historical Reading Challenge of 25, and the NetGalley Challenge of 75.
The upper Midwest—*deep and heavy sigh*—an ecosystem of its own–turning cool enough by the middle of September to warrant at least a sweater. Bye-bye summer, it was way too short and sweet this year.
Welcome to my new followers and as always I appreciate those who continue to read, like, share, and comment—especially comment! How are you doing with your challenges? Let me know if you saw something above that got your interest.
“May the roof above us never fall in and those beneath it never fall out.”
Kilteegan Bridge, Ireland 1963.
On the face of it, life is idyllic for Eli and Lena Kogan. Living in their beautiful house in the Irish countryside, their children are growing up happy and safe surrounded by a loving community. So when a letter arrives one day threatening to shatter their peaceful and prosperous world, Lena and Eli have no option but face the dark reality of their situation. How best to do that, is something that drives a wedge between them. As a Jewish child, escaped from Germany in 1939, Eli is all for letting those dark days where they belong, for him, there’s no future in the past. But for Lena, it’s different. She knows that the only way she can move her family forward in peace is to first go back, and there is only one man who knows the whole truth. From rural Ireland to wartime France, What Divides us, tells a tale of loyalty and love, resentment and revenge, that has far reaching consequences for the Kogan family, the unravelling of which might just destroy their future.
If Jean Grainger comes out with a new book, particularly in one of her series, you know I’ll be front and center. Book 2 of the Kilteegan Bridge Story digs deeper into the story of Eli and Lena Kogan. Now in 1963, some five years after The Trouble with Secrets introduced us to the unusual couple, they have Sarah and Pádraig in addition to Emmet—the baby that began the storyline.
The family is living in a beautiful home in a small community surrounded by family, support, and prosperity. When Lena receives a letter addressed specifically to her, it’s bad news. Eli, a Jewish child of Germany, wants nothing to do with the past, that ugly and tragic history. He and Lena have vastly different ideas on how to handle it but for her, there is only one way.
“…they ran with the hares and hunted with the hounds.”
A mother and a wife but she’s not entirely without resources and she begins a concerted effort to get to the bottom of it and assure that it will not impact neither her family nor the immediate family firmly entrenched within their boundaries.
It’s not just about the house or the land, however, it goes somewhat deeper and her first line of offense is to contact Malachy Berger, whose family originally held title. It was his loathsome father that separated her and Malachy years ago. His family and hers have a dark history, one they’ve not shared with anyone except Eli, stemming from the last great war.
“There are such things as kind untruths…”
In the first book, I wasn’t sure about the character of Eli. He is closed mouth about his background but has otherwise proven to be a loving father and responsible member of the medical community. Lena has matured with three children but this time I had a bit of a problem with her very female severe overreaction to the situation, enumerating the issues and then repeating them several more times. It is a big problem, of course, with repercussions not just for her and Eli. She does, after all, have a valid point and with typical fighting Irish sensibilities tends to expand a conflict into a battle, one she’s prepared to fight.
The author crafts a well-plotted and fast-paced storyline that grips from the beginning. Lena doesn’t shy away from traveling to meet persons with info and dip into a dark background that stuns the soul as it reveals brutal and shocking truths.
I love it when Jean Grainger releases another in one of her series. I’ve read most of them and marveled at the way she can weave a historical chronicle into an Irish family drama that touches the heart and takes so many of us with some Irish ties home.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts. Recommended!
SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.
WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE
Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!
I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 200 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dogs, called Scrappy and Scoobi..
My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.
My current series, The Queenstown Series, centres on twelve year old Harp Devereaux and her mother Rose and the first book opens on the day Titanic sails from Queenstown, Co Cork on her last fateful journey. It is a bestselling series and people really seem to connect to the precocious Harp and her hard-working mother as they battle to survive in a society where conforming and playing by the rules was paramount. It is so far a three book series, The West’s Awake, and The Harp and the Rose being the next two books but I’m currently writing book four.
Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.
From award-winning author Matt Cost comes a thrilling mystery about Unexplained Aerial Phenomena (UAP) spotted in the skies over Port Essex, Maine.
The man—about forty, forearms like small oak trees, with a thick beard—told the bartender at the Pelican Perch, “It came right up out of the ocean, hovered just above the water for about ten seconds, and then was gone.”
When Clay Wolfe and Baylee Baker are hired as the local liaisons for a government task force investigating the recent UAP sightings, things get complicated at lightspeed.
They’re also hired to find the missing Alice Smith, whose disappearance increasingly appears to have something to do with the UAPs—the source of which might just be a governmental defense contractor named Seagull Aviation.
But the more they investigate, the more questions pop up. Who is the assassin gunning for Wolfe and Baker? Who is the mysterious man code-named Arrow? When each witness who has seen one of the UAPs is reported missing, the stakes become sky-high.
Weird things are happening off the coast of Maine. Bert Snow is heading out to place some lobster traps when a strange electrical phenomenon caused him to collapse. He told his buddies it was a box-like apparatus that seemed transparent and seemed to shimmer and then disappear. Bert was known to enjoy a cocktail or two at the local watering hole and so the entire event was dismissed.
But then additional sightings without any clear description of the object cause concern among the people of this harbor town. The local private detective, Clay, and his sidekick Baylee are called and contracted to investigate these mysterious occurrences. State and federal bureaus become involved which muddies the waters around Maine even further. What is this mysterious object and why aren’t there pictures to confirm the existence of same?
Local inhabitants involved in the search wind up missing or dead. A body found in a stainless steel suitcase leads everyone to consider foul play and the possibility of alien involvement. Every attempt to solve the mystery is thwarted by the state, federal police, and F.B.I. And soon, Clay and Baylee also appear to have become a target.
The author has again wrapped his novel in a shroud of mystery. Every lead turns into a dead end or a coffin. Everyone who investigates these strange occurrences can wind up dead. The closer the investigation, the greater the danger.
As the disappearances and sightings escalate, the mystery deepens and there is a very interesting twist in this novel. The author develops a frightening theory, ramps the tension, and provides a satisfying, engaging, and entertaining novel. Read and enjoy. 4.5 stars – CE Williams
We’ve read several books in this series including most recently Mind Trap and Wolfe Trap before that, each unique, well-paced, thought-provoking and entertaining. This one can be read as a standalone. Many thanks to the publisher and author for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book. Currently on pre-order.
ASIN: B0BDM8B9KT Print Length: 306 pages Publication Date: December 21, 2022 Source: Direct author request Title Links:Cosmic Trap [Amazon] Barnes & Noble
The Author:Matt Cost was a history major at Trinity College. He owned a mystery bookstore, a video store, and a gym, before serving a ten-year sentence as a junior high school teacher. In 2014 he was released and began writing. And that’s what he does. He writes histories and mysteries.
“Love in a Time of Hate” is the third historical by Cost. “Joshua Chamberlain and the Civil War; At Every Hazard”, was published in 2015, in which Emmett Collins grows into manhood during the Civil War. “I am Cuba” was published in 2020. It was recently awarded the silver award for historical fiction from Kops-Fetherling.
Cost has also published the Mainely Mystery series including “Mainely Power” (the MHC Read ME fiction book of the year), “Mainely Fear”, and “Mainely Money”. The fourth book in the series, “Mainely Angst”, will be published in January of 2022.
He has begun the Clay Wolfe/Port Essex Trap series with “Wolfe Trap” and “Mind Trap” “Mouse Trap” will be published in the spring of 2022 and “Cosmic Trap” in the fall of 2022.
Cost now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing.
From the bestselling author of The Bold Women Series:
Québec 1690—Penniless and covered with burns, Véronique Barbeau sells sex to sailors and voyageurs at a dockside tavern in New France. The daughter of an illustrious artist, she’d once had it all: a loving family, a home in Paris, and a gift for painting, but a spurned lover changed everything. After being slighted by Véronique’s father, the young man sought revenge by setting fire to the family home, killing her mother, her sister, and scarring Véronique for life. Distraught, she immigrated to Québec with her father, but within months he was dead, leaving her alone and destitute in a port city halfway around the world.
Yet she would not be defeated. Véronique would rise again, fighting her way to the top, becoming one of the most celebrated artists in all of France. But she cannot rest until she unearths the horrifying truth about what really happened the night of the blaze.
Join Amanda Hughes as she sweeps you back to a time when monarchs ruled the world, tall ships sailed the seas, and quarrels were settled with swords.
The author has done it again with her third book in the Bold Women Series, this one of the 17th century. I just love these tales from the Renaissance forward. In this entry, we are introduced to New France, the holding of which was a great deal larger than I remembered.
In 1686 Véronique Barbeau found employment in Québec, New France at the Siren and Serpent Tavern as a fille de joie. Unfortunately, this is her last resort after losing her family, home in Paris, and lover, Rainier Laurent Delacroix. Her father, Monsieur Henri Frederik Barbeau, an artist of some renown, escaped with her from the bloody inferno in Paris that left her deeply scarred for life.
What is left to her is the innate talent of her father. She uses the gift with her limited free time and money to continue the legacy.
While dealing with the clients, Véronique burns with the need to discover the truth of what happened. She is an attractive, strong woman who is determined to find restitution while hiding the evidence (in the voluminous clothing of the day) of the horrific event that changed her life.
Once again, the extent of the research by the author of the time and location is evident in the description of how the ladies dealt with the subjects of disease, birth control, and protection.
When she meets Gilles, a cartographer of questionable sexual proclivities and nobility, her life takes an exciting turn. Gilles, however, is multi-layered and for some time, she only sees one. They leave on an extended mapping quest into unchartered Indian territory, including the Chippewa. (I grew up with tales of a grandmother born on a Chippewa reservation in then “Indian Territory.” Knowing her and looking at her picture, it wasn’t difficult to imagine until our son provided my DNA test proving she was not one-half Native American.)
Besides the beautifully described locations, both in New France and Paris, the history, the period costumes, decorum, vernacular, and Renaissance-driven art concepts, there is the glaring inequality of the sexes and frontier justice.
It is well plotted and paced and creates flights of the imagination. The characters are well drawn and provide portions of resolution and conflict as well as plenty of action and subtle and crafty twists.
Finding inspiration in stories of real persons to populate the era provided many a solid character and realistic backgrounds. The author is a master storyteller. This is Book 3 of the 17th Century Series. I also read Book 1, The Firefly Witch and Book 2, The Sea Bandits. Each of the novels can be read as a standalone, so don’t worry where you come in to the series, whether 17th, 18th, 19th, or 20th Centuries. They are all engaging and entertaining.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts and it’s heartily recommended.
Genre: Cultural Heritage Fiction, Historical Fiction Publisher: Lillis and Jaymes ASIN: B0BCKVW93X Publication Date: September 12, 2022 Source: Author contact Title Link:Painting with Fire [Amazon]
The Author: Bestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.
The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1
The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3
The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3
The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1
“An absolutely unputdownable and stunning page-turner”
Italy, 1946: As Estee bids farewell to Felix her heart breaks. Thinking back to her childhood when the two friends ran through the cobbled streets of their picturesque town hand in hand, she thought they would never part. But when Estee was offered a place at the world renowned La Scala theatre, she had to say yes. It would change her family’s fortunes forever.
Soon after, Felix began working for his family bakery, famed across Italy for its deliciously sweet pastries. The two lovers were never far from each other’s minds but when Felix’s parents demanded that he marry well to unite two prominent families, Estee felt sure that she had lost him.
Now, Felix has asked her to make the bravest decision of her life and run away with him. But with so much at stake, can she really follow her heart?
London, present day: Lily clutches a worn Italian recipe and theatre programme in her hands, having just discovered that her grandmother was born in a home for unmarried mothers. The faded objects are the only clues to her past.
Accepting a job on an Italian vineyard –a dream of her late father–, Lily enlists the help of the charming Antonio to help solve the mystery. But arriving in Felix’s town, Lily unearths a tragic love story: of families bitterly torn apart and of two lovers who were prepared to sacrifice everything to be together.
When Lily finds out the truth about her family and who she really is, will Felix and Estee’s story give her the strength to also follow her heart?
An utterly enchanting and heartbreaking novel about lost loves, family secrets and enduring hope. Perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley, Santa Montefiore and Victoria Hislop.
Italy has had a magnetic attraction to its citizens throughout the ages. Roman legions and Praetorian Guards longed for home even though thousands of miles away. Estee feels that pull even though she does not know why. Felix had gone missing and was nowhere to be found. Pregnant and alone, she disappears to London to give birth to a love child she simply has no way to care for and nurture as a single mother.
Estee’s great-grandmother had met and fallen in love with a man at Lake Como. He was betrothed to another but swore she was the one he would marry. However, when the time arose for the wedding, he was nowhere to be found. Pressure from the family required him to complete the arranged marriage planned for him as a boy.
Generations later Lily in America is given a box with two items, one a recipe for a mixture of chocolate and hazel nuts and the corner of a program from Teatro Alla Scala in Milan. Italy is calling her like a siren and she cannot ignore the urge to visit Italy. Yes, she has long black hair and almond eyes, but why the inextricable pull to visit a country she had never been to?
Soraya Lane has woven a generations old tale of broken hearts and lost loves! The fabric of this story is well woven with physical attraction and love torn asunder side by side. I found myself wrapped in sympathy for each of the women from these families who deserved love that was denied. Giving up a child out of wedlock is one of life’s most heart-wrenching experiences. These women kept their strong personal values while enduring terrible betrayal and pain.
The dual timeline is well-plotted and strongly descriptive, emotive, and atmospheric. Both timelines are equally engaging, WWII and present day. Gripping and hard to put down, the characters are strongly dominant and the writing style gripping. 4.5 stars – CE Williams
Many thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
Rosepoint Publishing:Four point Five Stars
Genre: Historical European Fiction, Literary Sagas, 20th Century Historical Romance Publisher: Bookouture ASIN: B0B53Z9H3N Print Length: 305 pages Publication Date: September 23, 2022 Source: Publisher and NetGalley Title Link: The Italian Daughter [Amazon]
The Author:Soraya Lane graduated with a law degree before realizing that law wasn’t the career for her and that her future was in writing. She is the author of historical and contemporary women’s fiction, and her novel Wives of War was an Amazon Charts bestseller.
Soraya lives on a small farm in her native New Zealand with her husband, their two young sons and a collection of four legged friends. When she’s not writing, she loves to be outside playing make-believe with her children or snuggled up inside reading.
For more information about Soraya, her books and her writing life, visit sorayalane.com or http://www.facebook.com/SorayaLaneAuthor, or follow her on twitter @Soraya_Lane. She would love to hear from you.
I mentioned last month the fun with new gardening possibilities and while the sauerkraut was a bust, the carrots did pretty well. The rest of the veggies in the gallon fermenter got too soft. Now, I have ripe cherry tomatoes coming out of my ears and already dried the first batch. A bit too much pepper on some, but otherwise, they are like little tomato-flavored candies.
Okay, admittedly, that has little to do with books, although an excellent reason I’m slow to read this month. Thank heaven for audiobooks and the CE!
Speaking of the CE…we will be celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary on the 2nd (cue the horns!). Hoping to do a couple things; still there are issues with gas and Covid. Because I am writing this ahead of those last three review posts, the links will be to Amazon rather than my review which I will edit upon return to my computer. (Sadly, I don’t know how to get a link to a review scheduled, not yet posted. Yes, I know—don’t say it.)
Together we did read or listen to nineteen books in August, most from NetGalley as I’m still working on the 500 badge; as I’m writing this, now up to a count of 494. So close!
My challenges—promises, promises, promises. Yes, I caught it up! Not once, but twice as I lost all my input the first time. My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. You can always check out the progress of my challenges, if you are so inclined, by clicking the Reading Challengespage. I’m now at 73% of the Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 132 and achieved my Audiobook Challengeof 30 and the Historical Reading Challengeof 25. I also achieved the yearly goal of 75 for Netgalley and Edelweiss, although of course, those books are all from NG.
Having to do over the Reading Challenges page taught me one thing: I’m not keeping up with it well. Not updating, nor reporting to the challenge hosts. My apologies. I think going forward I will undertake fewer challenges and not try to list individual entries to the challenge. Makes the page unwieldy and for what purpose? Tell me, honestly…have you ever looked at it?
Where the Crawdads Sing (my review of the book here by Delia Owens) starringDaisy Edgar-Jones—was excellent. Did you get a chance to view it? I’ll be doing a critical review discussing both shortly. I’d love to hear what you thought, too! Did you read the book?
We here in the upper Midwest had a beautiful August—I can’t complain—with pleasant temps during the day and cool in the evening perfect for sleeping. Did you get the kiddies off to school? We’ve been informed we are expecting our second great-grandchild. Too early to know boy or girl. In the meantime, the boy is trying to walk. He’s nine months. The fun begins…
Welcome to my new followers and as always I appreciate those who continue to read, like, share, and comment. Please let me know if you saw something above that got your interest.
In Phillip Margolin’s Murder at Black Oaks, Attorney Robin Lockwood finds herself at an isolated retreat in the Oregon mountains, one with a tragic past and a legendary curse, and surrounded by many suspects and confronted with an impossible crime.
Defense Attorney Robin Lockwood is summoned by retired District Attorney Francis Hardy to meet with him at Black Oaks, the manor he owns up in the Oregon mountains. The manor has an interesting history – originally built in 1628 in England, there’s a murderous legend and curse attached to the mansion. Hardy, however, wants Lockwood’s help in a legal matter – righting a wrongful conviction from his days as a DA. A young man, Jose Alvarez, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend only for Hardy, years later when in private practice, to have a client of his admit to the murder and to framing the man Hardy convicted. Unable to reveal what he knew due to attorney client confidence, Hardy now wants Lockwood’s help in getting that conviction overturned.
Successful in their efforts, Hardy invites Lockwood up to Black Oaks for a celebration. Lockwood finds herself among an odd group of invitees – including the bitter, newly released, Alvarez. When Hardy is found murdered, with a knife connected to the original curse, Lockwood finds herself faced with a conundrum – who is the murder among them and how to stop them before there’s another victim.
Attorney/client privilege is a cornerstone of American jurisprudence. In the course of defending his client, a young district attorney learns of the other attorney’s inability to disclose certain facts in a case. The result is the client being sent to death row for a crime the young man did not commit. Jose Alvarez spends over thirty years on death row- an innocent man.
Robin Lockwood is contacted 30 years later to help salve the conscience of the then much older district attorney. He resides at Black Oaks Manor, a desolate mansion in an even more desolate region of Oregon. Black Oaks Manor is at the end of a remote location often unable to be reached by land vehicle. Jose is now released because papers have surfaced that proved he could not have killed the man he was sentenced to death for.
The story’s plot is further complicated by a faulty elevator and washed-out roads. The washed-out roads strand Robin and her associate while deaths continue at Black Oaks. Who is responsible for these untimely deaths?
Throughout the novel’s plot line, the story leads to false trails and impossible outcomes. I found myself flummoxed by the possibilities and recognized my personal inability to discover the truth.
This novel harkens back to some of the older great mystery writers. As the body count mounted, I found myself on quicksand trying to ferret out the culprit. Usually, a concrete motive for the killings and an obvious villain begin to surface as the novel proceeds. This is not the case with this novel. Facts are not presented until the end which exposes the killer. However, I still found myself in disbelief as to the capacity of the killer to be responsible for the crime.
I suggest you read the book and see if you reach another conclusion. I have read many of Phillip Margolin’s books and this is one of his slippery best. Enjoy! 4 stars – CE Williams
We’ve read several previous Robin Lockwood series novels, most recently The Darkest Place and A Matter of Life and Death, and in 2020 A Reasonable Doubt, and enjoyed them all, although more so the former. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
Rosepoint Publishing:Four Stars
Genre: Legal Thrillers, Crime Thrillers, Women Sleuths Publisher: Minotaur Books ASIN: B09NTKCH8C Print Length: 288 pages Publication Date: November 8, 2022 Source: Publisher and NetGalley Title Link: Murder at Black Oaks [Amazon] Barnes & Noble Kobo
The Author:PHILLIP MARGOLIN has written over twenty novels, most of them New York Times bestsellers, including Gone But Not Forgotten, Lost Lake, and Violent Crimes. In addition to being a novelist, he was a long time criminal defense attorney with decades of trial experience, including a large number of capital cases. Margolin lives in Portland, Oregon.
I'm glad I learned to express my thoughts clearly and everyone loves to read them. Sometimes it takes a lot of thinking power to think about the surroundings. Someone who likes it, someone who enjoys it, appreciates that he is writing very well. Reading and commenting on the post I wrote would give me a lot of bullshit and I would get new ideas to write new ones.
I'm really glad I got your response.