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review 2016-11-06 18:52
Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff
Secrets of Nanreath Hall: A Novel - Alix Rickloff

I started reading this book during a busy month. Any other time, I would've devoured this wonderful tale of loss, chance, family secrets, and finding one's way home despite the obstacles. There are those books that one reads and it is just that - reading. Whilst the story may be somewhat entertaining, it ceases to draw you in and fails to connect oneself to place or protagonist. Just another book you quickly want to finish. Then, there's that lovely, lively book that finds its way to your hands and once you've lost yourself in its pages you never want to leave it behind. Secrets of Nanreath Hall is the latter and exactly why I love historical fiction. Set between alternating periods of WWI and WWII, two women struggle to define themselves within a distinguished family that has hidden their secrets well inside the walls of Nanreath Hall.

Another fabulous read of 2016. I fell in love with ALL of the characters, each one growing closer to my heart as the story gained momentum. While the plot is not altogether original, I never felt as if I'd read this before. The scenes of war are vivid and I could hear the engines of airplanes screaming across the British skies. I could sense the fear and feel the heartbreak when letters brought news of lost loved ones, another casualty of war that changed lives in an instant. I ached for the young soldiers dashing off to war, imagining himself a hero but returning as a broken weary veteran, a constant battle inside the war between remembering and forgetting. It felt as if I was at the train depot standing among the women who kissed their soldier's lips for the very last time. Nanreath Hall came to life and I could smell the salty sea air, picture the transformation of the once great home now being used as hospital for the wounded and dying. Yes! Strong characters lived and breathed between the pages and captured my imagination until the very end. Superbly written. Five shiny gold stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Doubt that the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love." - Shakespeare

*I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to William Morrow for sponsoring the giveaway and to Alix Rickloff for writing a story that I'll always remember.

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review 2016-09-30 19:58
All At Sea by Decca Aitkenhead
All at Sea: A Memoir - Decca Aitkenhead

Finished this book a couple of weeks ago and still thinking about the tragedy of losing Tony. Decca has written a beautiful story about tragic events that took place during a family vacation, a serene and well loved travel destination. It's beyond heartbreaking but also full of light. I think Tony would be immensely proud of the story Dec shared with the world.




*I won a copy of this book through the KEEP TURNING PAGES Goodreads group. Many thanks to Doubleday and the fantastic members of KEEP TURNING PAGES for sharing their opinions of each of our wonderful monthly selections. 

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review 2016-09-03 16:45
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel - Mitch Albom

A beautiful story with gorgeous detail. My favorite Albom book yet. Mitch Albom weaves an incredible tale unlike anything I've read before. Brilliant! If you're a music fan, read this book. Better still, if you're a book lover, this is a must read.



*I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway.





**DOUBLE POSTINGS. What's up with this? Haven't been doing a lot of blog posts recently on BookLikes because I'm having so many viral issues. Double postings are annoying as hell, I get it. At first, the posts were doubling only on my Samsung tablet and I was still able to blog from my iPhone and Kindle. Now, it's doing it every post, from each device. Just one of several issues here. Therefore, I've limited my already limited posts. Until something changes, pleas excuse the double vision. 


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review 2016-08-16 02:38
PROMISED TO THE CROWN (Daughters of New France, Book One)
Promised to the Crown (Daughters of New France) - Aimie K Runyan



Louis XIV's colony in Canada needs women.

Surrounded by the British, the King needs to tie his settlers to the land with farms, wives, and children to defend in the event their enemies should invade.


The King's ministers advised a plan by which young, strong women of good character would be sent at the King's expense to wed the soldiers, farmers, artisans, and fur trappers who popluate the colony.


History would remember them as the King's Daughters and the Daughters of New France.


History doesn't have to be boring and Runyan has proved that point. As I read PROMISED TO THE CROWN I couldn't help wondering why my history classes mentioned nothing of these brave women, women who left behind families and traded their familiar homeland for months aboard a dirty ship and a treacherous voyage across the Atlantic, only to arrive in a frozen land with the intention of marrying a complete stranger. It takes a brave woman to head in this unknown destination. Runyan delivers an absorbing saga of three young and very different women. Aimie K. Runyan's fifteen years of French and Francophone Studies pays off as she delivers a story that is historical fiction at it's finest. Beginning in France and ending in New France, PROMISED TO THE CROWN is filled with heart and adventure, bringing the courageous Daughters of France to life once again. I was enraptured with the incredible journey of Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth. This novel has earned its top spot in my all time favorites and Best Books of 2016. Word for word perfection. Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!!


Readers are rewarded at the end of this book with an exciting sneak peek of Aimie K. Runyan's next novel DUTY TO THE CROWN, Book Two in the Daughters of New France series which is set for release in November 2016 by Kensington Publishing.




For more info on Aimie, find her on her website www.aimiekrunyan.com and Twitter @aimiekrunyan.




*I was provided with a copy by the author through the 2016 Around the World blog tour. Opinions are my own and uninfluenced.




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review 2016-08-07 19:11
Flight Patterns by Karen White
Flight Patterns - Karen White

Let me start by saying, I fell in love with the setting and theme of this story. Honeybees are fascinating little creatures and I've always been charmed by items designed with a bee motif. I thought White's use of the bee's flight pattern and habits of nature was a clever way to describe a woman's return to her family - kind of like a return to the hive. Each chapter begins with a bit of Bee 101 and it compares well to the storyline. I learned so many interesting facts about bees while reading this book. (Hope this doesn't start me on a bee collection frenzy. Seriously, I really don't need another hobby or collection.) The location setting was another great tug at my heartstrings. I love reading books that take place in familiar locations. It's very easy to identify with a character on neutral territory, even better when it's one of my happy places. In this instance, two of my happy places: New Orleans and the Florida Gulf Coast. It was as if Karen White had a list of all my favorite things and wrote a story that revolved around them. The icing on the cake was, of course, the storyline that has a family trying to trace the history of what could be a rare and valuable bee-patterned Limoges china set. The search begins in New Orleans when a man from New York enlists the help of Georgia Sawyers, a well respected antiques consultant, knowledgeable in most things antique. I love antiques! I've spent many weekends in many antique shops. It's one hobby I'll never give up. My grandparents, mother, and aunts trained me well when it comes to all things antique. Some of my youngest, fondest memories revolve around antiques and flea markets. Both my grandmother and mother enjoyed collecting various pieces of china. I, myself, have a terrible weakness for sugar and creamer sets. Once I realized where White intended to take this story I was completely hooked. Antique pieces, especially those passed down from generation to generation, tell a story, each having their own unique history. White uses a set of china to tell a families history and the bee's patterns are a unique connection that ties everything together. An intriguing tale. Truly.


Now, let's move on to what I didn't like about this book, shall we? There's a lot going on in Flight Patterns. The story started out fantastic. Right out of the gate awesome. Then, as I got closer to the halfway point, I thought, Ok. Enough already. Because the characters are trying to trace the history of the china, the past of the characters involved is revealed. Old hurts and misdeeds of each are revisited. Over and over. The characters of this book are all holding on to the past like it's all they've got. I mean, this is a family in crisis and no one's talking and addressing the issues but everyone's looking for a missing piece of china. I wasn't buying some of it, especially when White added another visiting, meddling sibling to the mix. I realize WHY this character was added but it just seemed unnecessary and highly improbable. However, as fiction goes, there are lots of improbable plots so I eventually rolled with it. Didn't like it but I got my head around it. Next, without giving anything away, I found the plot twists to be farfetched. Then, it seemed like some of the major twists were conveniently explained away or not explained enough. After a while, I was just ready to wrap it up. By this point, the book was beginning to depress me. This family was in so much turmoil that I wondered how they'd ever be able to move past all of the secrets and mistrust. In reality, several of these characters would end up in therapy. For years! But, again, fiction is fiction and everyone likes a happy, tidy ending. Right?


Here's the deal, I did like this book. Had it's moments...it's very great moments. I would probably recommend it to friends and family. It's entertaining. I often judge a book by what I can take away from it, what I actually get out of the story. I have a new found respect for bees and Limoges patterns. While I'm certainly not taking any familial cues from this group, the overall message is decent. It's always good when one finds their way back to the heart of the hive.


Final verdict: three and a half buzz-worthy stars, only because it left me feeling a bit depressed.





*I won an ARC of Flight Patterns through a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group for sponsoring the giveaway and providing me with a copy.


Bees protecting their queen.


How I imagined the family home in Apalachicola. Even has the turret & this old home is not far from Apalach.


Back to the hive of Apalachicola. I could die happy here. Who's coming with me?!

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