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review 2017-06-15 17:31
Antique New England Homes & Barns: History, Restoration, and Reinterpretation by Jim DeStefano
Antique New England Homes & Barns: History, Restoration, and Reinterpretation - Jim DeStefano

Stunning book, not only the pictures but the history that goes along with them. I love old homes and old barns. My husband and I go from Florida to Pennsylvania ever year for vacation. While there are some really nice old homes and barns here in Florida the further north we go the more spectacular the homes and barns are. I literally have hundreds of pictures saved on my computer that I have taken during our travels of old houses and barns. 

 

This book fits perfectly into my fascination of these homes and barns.  I could look at this book over and over and and probably will. I also love to see how from the earliest homes to the newer ones have changed in architecture. This is an awesome books with som any pictures. There is some reading but it is basically short and to the point but gives you what you need to really understand exactly what you are looking at. 

 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2017-05-15 18:03
Knots not worth untangling
The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry

Copy obtained through local public library.  I don't know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.

 

I began reading the book a couple of weeks ago, but only got a few pages into it before being interrupted.  I set it aside, then went back and started over when I was sure I would have more time.  By page 103 of 385, I knew the struggle wasn't going to be worth it.  I always think it's my fault that a book isn't working, so I checked out some of the other reviews -- I almost never read reviews before I read the book -- and found I wasn't alone.

 

No spoilers here, because I didn't finish the book and I'm not likely to.

 

Towner Whitney, whose real name is Sophya, comes back to Salem, Massachusetts, after 15 years in California.  Her grandmother/great-aunt Eva has disappeared.  I think Towner was raised by Eva, but I'm not sure.  Towner admits she lies a lot, and also that she doesn't remember things well because she had a nervous breakdown after her sister Lyndley died.

 

I think Towner's mother is May, who lives on a little island and rescues abused women and their children, but the family relationships aren't really clear.  Auntie Emma is Eva's daughter, I think, but again I'm not sure.  Beezer is Towner's brother.

 

Quirky characters are great if you can keep them straight and each becomes a real person.  None of these people did, not even Towner.  Her quirks were too inconsistent, too unexplained.  She can read people's minds and she hears voices -- especially Eva's and Lyndley's -- and she can read lace (it's kind of like reading tea leaves or some such) but there doesn't seem to be any purpose to it.

 

Towner dwells on her mental illness but doesn't really seem to care very much about it.  She doesn't have any direction or motivation or even any emotion.  And yet I got the impression that she wanted people around her to care about her.  I'm not sure that that's the impression author Brunonia Barry intended to convey, but it's the one I got.

 

As a result, I just didn't like Towner, and it's difficult for me to continue to read a book when I don't give a shit about the main character.

 

The book is well written in the technical sense, and I'm assuming the details of Salem and its environs are accurate, but everything fell flat for me.  It's like a book that a bunch of ladies read for their Tuesday afternoon book club, and they all think it's wonderful and deep and literary and quirky, but they really don't understand it and aren't sure they even like it.  They read it to impress their friends.  The sexy parts embarrass them -- though to be honest, I hadn't encountered any really sexy parts in the first 103 pages -- or horrify them, but for the most part they really don't understand the sexy parts.  They read books like this because it makes them feel somehow superior, even though as soon as they reach the end and move on to the next book, this one is forgotten.

 

I'll probably forget it, too.

 

Also posted at

https://fearlesslyintelligent.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-lace-reader-by-brunonia-barry.html

and I may expand it there.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-12 22:18
Good Idea, Atrocious Execution
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe

 

The book has over 500 reviews on Amazon, with a 4.1 star average rating. The five-star ratings account for 41% of those, which is reasonably impressive.  My review isn't going to impact that very much, and that's not my intent.

 

This review will also be filled with spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

 

First major spoiler:  The dog is okay.  Nothing bad happens to him.  There's another spoiler about him later.

 

I finished the book, which is more than I do with many of the books I start.  Many of them don't hold me for two pages.  So there's that.

 

I liked the premise: Academic Connie Goodwin inherits her grandmother's old house in what was Salem Village, Massachusetts and goes on a search for a 300-year-old book with some connection to the Salem Witch Trials. 

 

The writing was competent, if a little heavy on the description.

 

That said, it wasn't long before I began to have problems even as I continued reading.

 

Connie is a young woman, in her early to mid 20s, and she has been in school virtually all her life.  The last few years in grad school have been by choice: she wants to continue to study and earn her PhD.  She doesn't come across, however, as a dedicated scholar.  Once she completes her oral exam and is cleared to begin her dissertation, she seems to forget all her academic training and lose all her scholarly motivation.  Is it because it's summer break?  It shouldn't be, because working on that dissertation should be her single primary focus now if she's truly dedicated to her scholarship.

 

However. . . .

 

She receives word from her mother Grace, a free spirit hippie type living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that the house that had belonged to Connie's grandmother, Sophia, needs to be prepared for sale after sitting vacant for 20 years since Sophia's death.  Since the house is in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and Connie is at Harvard in Cambridge, she is delegated to the task for the summer.  She heads there with her roommate Liz and her dog Arlo.

 

There's no real explanation for why the place wasn't sold when Sophia died or why it's being sold now.

 

It was at their arrival at the house that I lost my willing suspension of disbelief (WSOD).

 

 

The rest of the very lengthy review is at

 

 

https://fearlesslyintelligent.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-physick-book-of-deliverance-dane-by.html

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review 2017-03-28 05:18
Beach Breeze
Beach Breeze - Joanne DeMaio

By: Joanne Demaio 

ASIN: B06WD4QFZ2

Publisher: Joanne Demaio 

Publication Date:  3/7/2017 

Format: Kindle 

My Rating: 5 Stars 

 

Blog Tour, Coming March 28.

A long time favorite New England author, Joanne DeMaio returns following Wishing on Snowflakes and Beach Blues (2016) 2016 Best New England Summer & Holiday Reads with her latest BEACH BREEZE, as we continue the journey with the memorable characters of charming Stony Point, a beach town on the coast of Connecticut.

Having read all DeMaio’s books, was anxious to catch up with the characters we have come to love and care about, as family and close friends. There has been a lot of tragedy and some of the characters (more than others), are having a very difficult time with their grief and loss.

An entire community has been shaken to the core, with the loss of a dear friend, Salvatore Deluca. He came into their lives and brought second chances to many. He made a huge impact (larger than life attitude, touching many), and his presence will not soon be forgotten.

Jason is having a particularly hard time. He had a second chance to live when his brother Neil died nine years earlier in an accident. He was able, to walk away after the wreck with the help of a prosthetic leg, below the knee. He also was given a chance at love two years earlier when Maris unexpectedly returned to Stony Point and his life. They married a year earlier.

Then Sal came into their lives like a breath of fresh air. Someone for Jason to fish with. Someone to talk with about construction, design, his father’s Vietnam war stories, and his brother. It felt as though Neil had returned in the guise of Sal. He had just given the eulogy and left shortly afterward.

 

He was asking himself if he had run out of chances. Everyone was concerned about him but he was not ready to face everyone and his grief. He is not sure he will be anytime soon. He did not get to say good-bye to his friend. He feels cheated. Jason feels as though he has lost his brother all over again.

. . . “In his happiness, he’d been foolish enough to forget one important lesson: On any given day, hour, or minute, life can spin out from under you. It happened nine years ago, when he lost his brother, and Jason nearly didn’t survive the day. So it’s important to be wary and not trust happiness, not too much.”

In addition, Sal’s mom Elsa is also making some drastic decisions, since the passing of her son. She had planned to renovate the Bed and Breakfast Inn (the old Foley’s cottage) and Jason was the architect. However, now she is putting a stop to the project and putting it up for sale; ready to return to Italy.

Celia is also filled with sadness over the life she and Sal will never have. She is also considering going back to Addison. Their engagement only last two days before Sal’s heart surgery. Sal, age 36, would be dearly missed by everyone. Even though his visit to their town this past summer was brief.

Maris is also making changes in her life. She had returned to Stony Point from a Chicago fashion career to settle her father’s estate and reunited with her sister Eva. Now Maris is considering quitting her job since it appears the people in town need her more now than ever.

Everyone was supposed to make a pack not to make any sudden grief-motivated decision that they would regret in time. Not until at least six months had passed. There were many who wanted to pack up and leave their paradise to escape their loss and pain.

Michael, Sal’s friend from New York is back in town to deliver all of Sal’s messages and letters, as well as few surprises for those he left behind. Emotions run high. Jason is out of control and pushing everyone away.

Cliff and the entire community hold an inn-intervention. The entire family is in crisis. They try and stop the tag sale. Elsa does not want to think about the business team: Jason, Celia, and Lauren. It was to be the future Ocean Star Inn, and now Sal was gone, Celia has left, and her dream had evaporated into the sea’s midst.

Jason is also upset thinking he no longer hears his brother for inspiration. Now Elsa DeLuca no longer needs his service. He had been so excited about the plans.

Everyone is concerned about the Inn and their loss. A place that holds all their friend’s history. However, will Jason and Elsa be able to bond and carry on with their dreams in Sal’s loving memory as well as the rest of their friends and community?

“It’s never the end, even when we really believe it is.”

Just when Jason thinks he has reached his lowest, Sal has a surprise for him to honor his brother. He had written special notes for everyone. Where second chances happen in the most unexpected ways. New beginnings.

From sadness, love, loss, friends, and special memories of the sea, we get a sneak peak (excerpt) from Joanne’s upcoming book, THE BEACH INN, coming May 16. Where we continue with the special friends of this charming seaside community. Coming up is "Operation, Heal Jason’s heart."

 



Appears there are some big changes coming. The toughest challenge―learning to heal, love and trust again. Looking forward to seeing what lies ahead.

"A new season of love, adventure, and heart-healing awaits in the quaint seaside village of Stony Point. So pull up a sand chair and book your stay for a page-turning getaway in The Beach Inn."

If you have not read Joanne Demaio’s books, you are missing a rare treat. Full of emotion, heart, and soul, with vivid descriptions and settings, memorable characters and sea breezes which transport you.

Highly recommend reading in order, to enhance your overall reading experience. Still hoping for a Hallmark TV series.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/02/01/Beach-Breeze
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review 2017-01-18 19:51
Twilight at Blueberry Barrens (Sunset Cove #3) by Colleen Coble
Twilight at Blueberry Barrens (A Sunset Cove Novel) - Colleen Coble

Kate Mason has devoted herself to caring for her family’s blueberry barrens. But after her fields stop producing fruit, she’s forced to come up with alternative ways to make a living.

Renting out the small cottage on her property seems an obvious choice, but it won’t be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is—because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family. The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But a family crisis isn’t exactly the ideal time to pursue a romance. Meanwhile, Kate learns that her uncle—in prison for murder—has escaped. Add to that a local stalker who won’t leave her alone, and Kate is looking over her shoulder at every turn. With threats swirling from multiple directions, she wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last. Set on the beautiful coast of Maine, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens brings together suspense, romance, and the hope that one day new life will come again.

Amazon.com

 

 

For years now, Kate Mason has grown accustomed to running her family's blueberry farm in Maine but recently the farm just hasn't been producing a profitable amount of fruit. As finances become increasingly tight, Kate is forced to look to other means of income. She gets the idea to renovate a small cottage on her family's property and make it available for summer rentals. During this renovation process, in walks Drake Newham. Drake, with his two nieces in tow, is a visitor to Sunset Cove, looking for a place to stay for awhile. What he doesn't reveal is that he fears there's someone trying to hunt him down, set on hurting him and / or his nieces, so the casual "place to stay" inquiry is really a desperate need for a spot to lay low until he figures out what's going on. 

 

Needing someone to look after his nieces while he investigates, Drake also asks about available nannies. Kate, seeing a potential (much needed) double dose of income, volunteers herself for the job. Over the course of the story, Drake and Kate have a lot of page time together so they reveal quite a bit about their respective backstories. Drake explains that he is the legal guardian of the girls now, as his brother and sister-in-law are dead, a suspected murder-suicide. With the constant sense of being hunted down himself, Drake has his doubts about that. Kate meanwhile has been in recovery from chemo treatments after a diagnosis of aplastic anemia. To make matters even more stressful, her convicted murder uncle has escaped from prison, there's a Peeping Tom / possible stalker of Kate's roaming the island creeping everyone out, and bodies are washing up on the beach just a little too regularly for Kate and her sister Claire, who have already been put through the ringer throughout the course of this series. 

 

I struggle with this series. I am drawn to the setting --- who doesn't love a good mystery set along a New England coastline, right? And the plot ideas are not bad, they definitely stir my curiosity each time, but each time so far whenever I dig into the story, there's something that always seems to land just off the mark for me. In this installment, I think the biggest culprit was the way the plot unfolded --- Drake's brother has ties to a Chinese drug lord?! Kate's uncle in prison because he killed the mother of Claire's (Kate's sister) fiancee ... strenuous tie there btw... because said mother saw him moving a body?! That scene where Kate and Claire are talking out in the yard and Claire just gets nailed by a crossbow bolt outta the blue ... and all this before you're even 85 pages in! -- A lot of ideas flying around, but a noticeable lack of cohesiveness to bring it all together. There was also a sense of a good idea being taken too far (see examples mentioned above) or not fleshed out enough. 

 

The writing here was not Coble's best, IMO. I personally found the characters and the mystery from Sunset Cove #2 a little more engaging. Here, the dialogue often came off a little too scripted, especially with Kate's, making her feel a bit wooden at times to me. But we gotta work in a romance so of course Drake looks past what seems like a pretty cardboard personality to me and comes at her with "no woman has ever intrigued me like this." Poor guy. Kate's tendency to overstep her bounds when it came to caring for the girls got on my nerves as well. I get you're the nanny but you shouldn't get to basically tell the legal guardian "you should shut it and do it my way" multiple times. In real life, you'd likely be fired, not have your employer fall in love with you! But I guess Drake likes himself a dominant kind of lady friend. 

 

As far as the writing itself, I struggled with a few passages that apparently escaped an editing eye (check out pages 71, 111) where the wording / grammar was off juuuust enough to make for a harsh silent reading experience. There were also way too many people involved in that ending.

 

Nice to see another cross-over appearance of Gwen Marcey, the investigator from Carrie Stuart Parks' Gwen Marcey mystery series!

 

Note: This is the third installment of Coble's Sunset Cove series. I have not read the first in the series (Inn at Ocean's Edge), but have read / reviewed the second book. This third book brings back some of the characters from the first book (I checked the synopsis of the first book) -- Claire, Luke (Claire's now fiancee) and Kate -- but can easily be read as an independent story.

 

FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book & requested that I check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own.

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