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review 2018-06-21 01:15
Awesome!
Sleepless in Scotland - May McGoldrick

OMG!  What a fantastic read.  Sleepless In Scotland by May McGoldrick is an amazing historical romance.  Ms. McGoldrick has supplied us with a well-written book and loaded it with phenomenal characters.  Phoebe is writing an article under a pen name and puts herself in danger by looking for information.  Ian's sister was murdered and years later he's still looking for the killer.  Phoebe and Ian's story is loaded with drama, humor, sizzle, action and suspense.  This book held me captive from cover to cover.  I enjoyed reading Sleepless In Scotland and look forward to reading more from May McGoldrick soon.  Sleepless In Scotland is book 3 of The Pennington Family Series but can be read as a standalone.  This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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review 2018-06-04 14:41
You Can Go Home Again
The Cafe by the Sea: A Novel - Jenny Colgan

Sorry, the main reason I cannot give this above three stars is that I can never cheer for a woman (fictional or not) being the reason that a man who is an asshole changes his ways. It never feels realistic and it just ends up making me annoyed the author writes a guy that you end up not liking and wish would just disappear from the book. I liked the character of Flora and her family (her three brothers and father are great) but thought she was self absorbed and sharp to people too much. I did love the book getting into the recipes her mother passed down and the author including some of them in the back of the book was much appreciated. That said, I found that there was a bit too much going on in this first book. We have a couple of plot-lines and though the selkie myth was intriguing, I wish that Colgan had leaned a bit more into that and had an air of magical realism in this book. 

 

After having a fight with her family, Flora resolves to never return home to the island of Mure (off the coast of Scotland). Flora is determined to have a life in London and though she has crushes here and there, is mostly fixated on her boss, Joel. When a client demands that Joel's firm handle a potential issue on Mure that will impact his hotel and livelihood, Flora is sent to Mure to deal with things. Being back home among her family and friends, Flora finally comes to grips with her past and present. 

 

Flora was an okay character, but I think another character her supposed childhood best friend Lorna who I think at one point pretty much tells Flora she needs to get over things. Lorna apparently has gone through similar things as Flora, but you don't see her being a jerk about it. Flora has two love interests in this book (I was only rooting for one) and is doing her best to have her firm look its best with her on hand on Mure to help.  


We have secondary characters in this, but the book mostly revolves around Flora. I did love Flora's brother Fintan a secret that he has been harboring for a long time. His resentment of Flora for getting away from Mure was a bit much to take after a while though. I was glad when that all got resolved. I did wish we got more conversations/dialogue with Lorna.

 

The writing was okay, but after a while the whole book started to feel a bit same-y to me. We have Flora realizing her family's farm isn't doing so well, we have her not really working, and then she cleans and cooks. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's not until Joel shows up in Mure does the story start moving forward a bit. 

 

The island of Mure sounds magical. I liked reading about selkies and we finally get Flora re-counting a story her mother told her about the mythical creatures at the end of the book. As I said above, I wish that Colgan had leaned in a bit more into the magical realism genre. 

 

The ending was not the least bit realistic. However, this is a romance, so everyone gets their happily ever after. 



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review 2018-06-01 21:55
The Second Blast of the Trumpet: The Second Book In The Knox Trilogy - Marie Macpherson

Usually in trilogies, novels start losing their pace during the second instalment. However, this is not the case with The Second Blast of the Trumpet. It picks up right where the first instalment ends.

 

We re-join - the not so young by now - John Knox soon after he was set free from serving his sentence as a galley slave. His fervour and his determinations to bring about a reformation to his beloved Scotland are stronger than ever and he is ready to preach. But he continues to come across political and religious boulders that obstruct his way to glory. We follow him on his journey through England to Switzerland and back and watch him develop into the man who will bring about the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. 

 

Marie MacPherson skilfully continues to lift the curtain on the not so well known part of John Knox's life and his influence on people around him, especially women.  The novel is not short of historical characters such as Marie de Guise, William Cecil and John Calvin and the political intrigue that took place behind closed curtains. I will admit - it was refreshing to read a novel that expresses what the other side thought of the Tudors and their politics. :D

 

I had a privilege to read the book in its draft form and thoroughly enjoyed it in its print form as well. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  

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review 2018-06-01 19:00
A character you won't soon forget
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

There is a reason that this debut novel has been on hold for many, many months and why it continues to be difficult to get in a hurry. Gail Honeyman has managed to create a character so unique and delightful that I found myself instantly enamored of her. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of a woman who the reader learns from the outset is completely aloof to the social mores of society and is pretty content to remain so...until she sees the man of her dreams. It seems fairly obvious to the reader that this 'relationship' is doomed to fail. (Like my romance with Brian Littrell when I was in middle school.) However, having this foreknowledge does not detract from the story because the love story is between the reader and Eleanor and Eleanor with herself. She is a fragile woman who has built up a rather thick wall between herself and the entire world...and she's had plenty of time to reinforce that wall. Her past is nothing if not murky and it doesn't get cleared up until almost the very end of the novel. (And it's a doozy, ya'll.) It's exceedingly difficult for me not to spill some essential facts while writing up this review because they're the things that make this a truly gripping piece of realistic fiction. Eleanor is a character that seems to live and breathe beyond the page. Her bucking of social 'norms' coupled with her frankly hilarious inner dialogue about what is and isn't 'polite' had me laughing out loud on several occasions and made me feel so connected to her. I truly rooted for her and became emotionally invested as if I was reading an autobiography or memoir instead of a work of fiction. (Gail, you've made it into my list of top 20 authors of all time. I'm excited to see what you come up with next!) 10/10 highly recommend

 

A/N: The author discusses child abuse, disfigurement, bullying (from all ages), and mental illness. If these are triggering to you in any way, shape, or form then you should steer clear. Everyone else, I think Gail handled these topics very well (having dealt with 2 of the 4 personally) and I see no reason why you should give this book a pass. Eleanor will grab you by the heartstrings and refuse to let go.

 

What's Up Next: Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It by Grace Helbig

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Outsider by Stephen King

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-30 16:39
A Time for Healing and an Impromptu Family
Winter Solstice - Rosamunde Pilcher

I ended up enjoying the two books of Pilcher I read so much I decided to read this one and hang waiting until this Fall. "Winter Solstice" touched me a lot. I can see why Moonlight re-reads this one every year. I can see me re-reading this come December. It was a really delightful book and I have to say that everyone in it was fantastic. I am also glad that Pilcher didn't give the characters of Sam and Carrie a happily ever after with romance linked to it. If anything, I see these two as friends, and believe that is probably things will stay due to Carrie's job. I for one am thrilled we didn't have some mess with a woman giving up her sense of self and job for a man. 

 

I am going to give a word of warning here for those who think this is typical romance. There is adultery in this one, and even a situation where we have something going on between a recently widowed man and one of the main characters. I was a bit surprised at first, but rolled with it since it just worked. Moving on to the book now. 

 

Elfrida is a retired actress who has recently moved out of London and is determined to start over again for the last time. She has adopted a dog (Horace) and is determined to be more involved with her nephew and his family. She is taken in by a local family, the Blundell's anf feels a kinship with the father, Oscar, and his daughter, Francine. She realizes she is in danger of it turning into something more and goes away for a month in order to be with her family. When she returns, she finds out that Oscar's wife and daughter have been killed, and he is subsequently being turfed out of his home by his stepsons. Elfrida is taking into Oscar's uncle's confidence and is told about half a house he owns in Scotland. She decides that is where she and Oscar will go so that he can heal away from the village that has so many memories of his dead wife and child. 

 

The book then flips back and forth between Elfrida's nephew's daughter Carrie, a businessman named Sam, Oscar, and Carrie's niece Lucy. All of these people have something going on in their lives that will cause them to be in Scotland for Winter Solstice (and Christmas). 

 

Carrie is getting over a love affair that went south. Moving back to London has her realizing that her mother and sister are still selfish. She ends up taking the reigns on being there for her niece Lucy after her sister is insisted on going to the U.S. for the holidays and her mother refusing to cancel her holiday plans. When Carrie reaches out to her aunt to stay with for the holidays (they really have no place else to go) they join her and Oscar in Scotland with the promise that no one will be celebrating the holiday.


Lucy is a teenager and is frustrated that her father has pretty much disappeared into his new life with his new wife and no her mother is trying to do the same. Her Aunt Carrie coming to the rescue with them going to Scotland for the holidays is just what Lucy needs. She meets a boy named Rory Kennedy and finds herself getting some confidence and finally someone to champion her. 

 

Sam is English, but had lived in New York for years. Newly separated, he is back in England with the proposition of a new job that will have him living in Scotland. I was meh on Sam. He wasn't a bad character or anything. I just didn't find him as engaging as everyone else in this book. And I thought it was pretty bad taste for him to try things on a bit with Carrie. I am glad that got the needed push back it deserved. 

 

I loved each and every piece of this. I also loved Elfrida actually being frustrated with Oscar at times (it's believable) with him wanting to hide from the world and the church and being at first upset that Elfrida's nieces are forced to come to them for the holidays. 

 

The book's settings move from a village in England and then mainly to Scotland. The whole place seemed quite magical. We get to read some what about the inhabitants of the place, but not too much though. We get insights into the Kennedy clan, a widowed and ill man, and Elfrida's housekeeper and her husband. 

 

I do think that the ending made sense for this book. There are still troubles thrown characters way, but they are doing the best that they can with what they got. I would have loved a sequel to this just to see how Elfrida, Oscar, and Lucy end up with Elfrida and Oscar in essence deciding to raise Lucy cause her mother has pretty much abandoned her.  

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