Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Review/Giveaway: Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star

After a tragic accident on Martha’s Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.

When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter.

At turns heartbreaking, humorous, and hopeful, Sisters One, Two, Three explores not only the consequences of secrets—even secrets kept out of love—but also the courage it takes to speak the truth, to forgive, and to let go.

Paperback, 342 pages 
Published January 1st 2017
by Lake Union Publishing
Nancy Star is a new author to and my sincere thanks to TLC Tours for the invite to be part of this blog tour and discovering a new author.

Sisters One, Two, Three is the story of the Tangle family and told in dual timeperiods,
1972 and current day.  With a diverse cast of characters, unique personalities and each one handling (or maybe avoiding) grief in their own unique way painted a vivid picture of what happens when tragedy strikes and families are left to their own devices in how best to deal with it.  When this takes place in 1972 there wasn't the social support available and if it was the importance wasn't realized. There was that 'let's not talk about it' or bring it out in the open and just pretend it never happened and carry on with life. As shown in this book that doesn't work. I think the author did a great job of portraying these characters with their grief bottled up inside. As they carried on with life each of them dealt with the situation in their own way. Ginger is a worrier and over protective which damages her relationship with her daughter and husband. Mimi keeps herself so busy that she doesn't have time to think or deal with what happened. While some might find Ginger and Mimi's behaviour annoying and obsessive I could totally see where they were coming from. Maybe it's because I've had tragedy in my life that I can sympathize with Ginger and Mimi and relate to their behaviour. 

While grief is a unique experience and there is no time limit on when or if grief will ever end, these ladies came head to head with the summer of 1972 where the memories and secrets of the past were brought to light. 

Sisters One, Two, Three is a multi layered story, and as each layer is peeled away I got to know this quirky family and was totally caught off guard to events that gave this book a fitting conclusion.

Definitely a book I will recommend and an author I will be reading more of.  Her writing style while dealing with a serious subject was realistic and the touches of humor fit in perfectly.

Nancy Star is the author of four previous novels: Carpool Diem, Up Next, Now This, and Buried Lives. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, Family Circle, Diversion magazine, and on the web.

Before embarking on her writing career, Nancy worked for more than a decade as a movie executive in the film business, dividing her time between New York and London. She has two grown daughters and a son-in-law and now lives in New Jersey with her husband.

I have one copy of Sisters One, Two, Three to giveaway.  For Canadian and US addresses only (sorry).  Be sure to enter below.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 30, 2017

Review: The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth

A new poignant and breathtaking novel from the author of The Things We Keep and The Secrets of Midwives.

With every book, Sally Hepworth becomes more and more known for her searing emotional portraits of families—and the things that test their bonds. In The Mother’s Promise, she delivers her most powerful novel yet: the story of a single mother who is dying, the troubled teenaged daughter who is battling her own demons, and the two women who come into their lives at the most critical moment.

 Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two all their lives. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works—until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and is given a grim prognosis.

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, her oncology nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets—secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family.

Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the power of love and forgiveness.

ebook, 336 pages
 Expected publication: February 21st 2017
 by St. Martin's Press

It's not often that I can finish a book within 24 hours of starting but with The Mother's Promise I couldn't put it down. Though it isn't a long book it was the story that drew me right in and I just could not stop reading until I finished.

This is the third book by Sally Hepworth , I enjoyed her first two books and jumped at the chance to request the arc from Netgalley when I saw it was available.(The Secrets of Midwives and  The Things We Keep click on titles for links to my review).  I will admit that I don't always read the synopsis for certain authors, which happened here. To be honest I might even have shied away from this book if I had known what it was about, cancer is such a scary thing and with my son finishing his last chemo treatment six months ago everything is still fresh in my mind. So needless to say I found this to be a very emotional story, one that grabbed me and would not let me go.

One of the scariest things of being a parent is when something happens to your children and you have no control over it. But what if the roles were reversed and something happened to the parent, add no family or friends for support creates a bad situation. Such is the case with Alice Stanhope when she is diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer. Her daughter Zoe has serious anxiety issues and only 15 years old. Nurse Kate has her own issues as well as social worker Sonja.

With chapters alternating between characters it was easy to get absorbed in their lives, to care for them and feel their fears. Anxiety disorder it's something that I have never really heard of before and I think the author did a great job of portraying it and how it affects people. This book was a perfect example of being sensitive to other people because you don't know what is going on in their lives just like they don't know what is going on in yours.

The Mothers Promise is a story of love, devotion and heartbreak and one that will stay with me for a while.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy (via netgalley).

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Review: Knit Blankets & Throws with Mlle Sophie

18 Throws for the Modern Home

If you fell in love with Mlle. Sophie's classic designs in Stylish Knit Scarves & Hats, you will be thrilled with the clean, modern look and international flair she brings to this collection of blankets and throws for the home and family. Her designs have a timeless vibe that works well in any décor; just change the yarn color to suit your favorite palette.

The 18 fun-to-knit patterns are suitable for beginners but with just enough detail to keep the knitting interesting. Knit for your family room, nursery, bedroom, and more. A stylish throw makes any room more welcoming.

A blanket makes a great gift, too. Send off a recent grad to college with a throw in school colors. Welcome a baby with fluffy softness. Warm a home with a new elegant afghan. This is a book that you will turn to for years to come.

ebook, 64 pages
Stackpole Books
February 1, 2017

This is a great book for not just new knitters but seasoned ones also.  There are 18 patterns here and a nice variety of styles using different yarns.

With an introduction that gives knitting lessons that include diagrams on the basic knitting stitches making this a great little reference book.  While this is the ebook format I downloaded it to my iPad so I could view it in color.

Thanks to the publisher for an advanced copy (via netgalley).

Friday, January 27, 2017

Review: Missing by Kelley Armstrong

The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.

The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.

But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?

ebook, 384 pages 
Expected publication: April 18th 2017 
by Crown Books for Young Readers
*** 1/2

I don't think it's a secret that I have a few reading quirks, one of which is discovering Canadian authors.  Kelley Armstrong fits that bill and I jumped at the chance to review Missing, which will be released in April.  I know that her genre is supernatural and Young Adult.  Missing is marked as thriller/mystery and that seems to be a theme lately for me. 

While I am always been a fan of YA there are some aspects of it that make me cringe, it's the 'insta-love' thing.  Where the characters lock eyes and it's true love, seriously, YA should be just as realistic and believable as adult fiction.  I am happy to report, no 'insta-love' here and boy did this make the story more believable.

Missing isn't your average mystery thriller, though at times it was action-packed I found it more suspenseful, which that kept my interest and my desire to know what was going on. Then it would slow down which is when I got to know Winter better and get a general feel of her life . The mystery part played out nicely it kept me guessing with it's twists and turns, though I had a general idea of where this story was heading. 

There were a few unresolved incidents that I would have loved to know more about, but all in all a nice mystery that keep me guessing right up to the fitting conclusion.

Thanks to the publisher via netgalley for an advanced copy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Spotlight: The French Orphan (Book One) by Michael Stolle

The year is 1640, and Louis XIII is on the French throne. However, as far as you’re concerned, this is all pretty meaningless. After all, as a teenage orphan living in a monastery school in Reims, all you have to worry about is dodging the unpleasant advances of a few unsavoury monks and looking forward to a life of penniless and celibate servitude in a religious order. After a childhood and adolescence plagued by a constant longing to know who he really is, orphan Pierre has not the slightest idea that his questions are about to be answered. But you know what they say – be careful what you wish for… Suddenly finding out who you are can bring with it not only happiness and fortune, but danger, friendship and the sort of swift education that the monastery could never have provided! The discovery of who Pierre really is affects not only Pierre and his friends, but has ramifications for the French nobility, the English crown, and most dangerous of all, the machinations of Cardinal Richelieu and his fierce ambition for the Church and for himself.

Publication Date: June 12, 2012
eBook & Paperback; 388 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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The Secrets of Montrésor (Book Two) by Michael Stolle

Publication Date: November 12, 2012
eBook & Paperback; 298 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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The Secrets of Montrésor is the eagerly awaited sequel to The French Orphan, and continues the story of young Pierre de Beauvoir… Coming into a fortune at any age brings huge responsibility, but when you’re an inexperienced teenager, it seems that surprises are waiting for you around every corner. Pierre, former orphan and now Marquis de Beauvoir, may have claimed his inheritance, but life is never that simple. For a start, he needs to learn pretty quickly exactly who to trust and who to keep at arm’s length. For example, how do you work out (and survive….) the changing motives of the most powerful man in seventeenth-century France, Cardinal Richelieu? And then what do you do when the people you should be able to trust try to deliver you into the hands of your worst enemy? And then there’s the small matter of a sacred quest to Italy… Fortunately for Pierre he has his best friend Armand to support him as he gets to know his chateau at Montrésor, its people and… its secrets. (Armand, of course, has his own agendas to pursue, usually involving a pretty face and a willing smile.) Far from being certain, Pierre’s future has yet to be settled and Pierre will have to draw on his own innate talents as well as those of the people around him to ensure he survives, as his enemies are just waiting to seize their opportunity.



Under the Spell of The Serenissima (Book Three) by Michael Stolle

Publication Date: December 15, 2013
eBook & Paperback; 302 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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The third in the French Orphan series follows the exploits of Pierre, former penniless orphan who discovers he is heir to the de Beauvoir inheritance. So far, Pierre has found friends in unexpected places, been surprised by love, learned the true meaning of friendship, discovered the extent of human cunning and depravity and dodged numerous attempts by his closest family member to despatch him to the next world. In Under the Spell of the Serenissima Pierre’s search for the third Templar ring continues, but as ever, his path is not a smooth one. Pierre and Armand, along with Jean and Edoardo, are making for Venice, unaware that others too are racing towards the beautiful city, some intending to help, others with far more sinister motives. As the various characters are drawn inexorably towards Venice, a conclusion will be played out that must decide Pierre’s fate, one way or another…



The Queen's Maid of Honour (Book Four) by Michael Stolle

Publication Date: March 31, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 300 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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The year is 1643. The scheming Cardinal Mazarin is now Prime Minister of France, but on the other side of the Channel, unrest in England grows daily, as civil war is erupting. As the political situation in England deteriorates, the royal court flees London for Oxford, and King Charles is desperate to secure both funding and troops to come to his aid. Mazarin, every bit as devious as his predecessor, Richelieu, engages the services of François de Toucy to save the Queen of England, a former royal princess of France. François and his friends will set sail for England, in a quest to ensure the safety of the queen. Whilst François is walking a diplomatic tightrope across the political cauldron of the royal court, his friend Armand falls desperately in love with the Queen’s Maid of Honour, a lady as beautiful as she is cunning. Soon the friends find themselves deeply entangled in a deadly combination of cut-throat politics, disasters on the battlefield and bitter machinations at court over love and war and the struggle between Protestants and Catholics that threaten to spell only death and disaster.


03_michael-stolleAbout the Author

Born and educated in Europe, Michael has always been intrigued by the historical setting and the fact that what makes us human was as true in the 17th century as it is now. He has been reading and writing about history for longer than he cares to recall...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review: The Lost Girls by Heather Young

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

ebook, 341 pages 
Published July 26th 2016 by William Morrow

I have been on a mystery/suspense spree these days and The Lost Girls fits that bill nicely.  What happened to Emily that summer night 60 years ago?    Heather Young alternates between past and present day with 2 story lines connected by blood and an old lake house.  I love old lake houses, they elude not just character but they hold secrets and eventually those secrets have to come up for air.

 I found The Lost Girls to be well written, with attention to detail it wasn't hard to visualize so much here, from the creaky old house, skating on the lake and even feel the isolation/cold of the Minnesota winter.  The plot revealed itself slowly over the pages giving me the opportunity to get to know the characters and feel their inner struggles and fears.

This is the authors debut and I think she is off to a great start. 

Thank you to the publisher for an arc (via Edelweiss).

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

Seventeen-year-old Ivy Erickson has one month, twenty-seven days, four hours, fifty-nine minutes, and two seconds to live.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone's heads indicating how long before they will die. She can't do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn't save. Vanessa Donovan was killed in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa's. To save lives and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy's only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.

 Paperback, 260 pages
 Expected publication: February 28th 2017 
by Diversion Publishing

I have always been a big fan of YA books but ones that are not heavy into supernatural elements, Gardenia has just a little bit and was more a mystery/suspense story.

I found the concept interesting, imagine knowing the exact minute that death will strike not just those around you but yourself as well. Ivy has that gift and she used it as she volunteers at a nursing home to give comfort to those as their lives come to an end. I found that aspect endearing and tells you the kind of person she is.

Even though Ivy knew the death of her best friend was imminent she was still deeply traumatized, especially in it's manner. This paves the way for the mystery part of this book. Determined to find the killer, as her own countdown clock is ticking, Ivy seems to be getting closer to the truth as her life is threatened.

Gardenia was a well written book set in a realistic location with all the high school drama. While I found the romance part a little off Ivy playing the sleuth was interesting and wanting to know the out come kept me interesting in this book.

 Thank you to the publisher (via netgalley) for an arc.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Review: The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams

New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams recreates the New York City of A Certain Age in this deliciously spicy adventure that mixes past and present and centers on a Jazz Age love triangle involving a rugged Prohibition agent, a saucy redheaded flapper, and a debonair Princetonian from a wealthy family.

When she discovers her husband cheating, Ella Hawthorne impulsively moves out of their SoHo loft and into a small apartment in an old Greenwich Village building. Her surprisingly attractive new neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement at night. Tenants have reported strange noises after midnight—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the place hid a speakeasy.

In 1924, Geneva "Gin" Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin becomes entangled with Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.

Headstrong and independent, Gin is no weak-kneed fool. So how can she be falling in love with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent when she’s got Princeton boy Billy Marshall, the dashing son of society doyenne Theresa Marshall, begging to make an honest woman of her? While anything goes in the Roaring Twenties, Gin’s adventures will shake proper Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead—secrets that will echo from Park Avenue to the hollers of her Southern hometown.

As Ella discovers more about the basement speakeasy, she becomes inspired by the spirit of her exuberant predecessor, and decides to live with abandon in the wicked city too. . . .

 ebook, 384 pages 
Expected publication: January 17th 2017 by William Morrow

I am familiar with two previous books by Beatriz Williams, The Secret Life of Violet Grant and Along the Infinite Sea, both audio reads for me and I loved them. Her writing style, with its whimsical tone, witty descriptions and entertaining dialogue works perfectly in that format. Written in first people made it feel like the characters were right there telling me their story. I was a little nervous reading The Wicked City wondering whether it would yield the same feelings. Once I finished the first chapter, as Ella moves into her new apartment and sets about to do laundry, well it reminded me of why I loved her previous books.

Most of the story takes place in the past time period, the Roaring Twenties which is a time I haven't really read much about and nothing involving the Prohibition Era.  There really isn't much for me to say about the plot since the synopsis does a great job doing that.

Gin (Geneva) is an interesting and likeable gal (as I find all of Williams characters to be), her background story is slowly revealed and I could see where she was coming from and what made her tick.

While the reader gets to know Ella and another interesting storyline is revealed a connection to the Schuyler girls from the author's previous series takes shape.

The conclusion here was satisfying on one hand but also left the door open for the sequel, Cocoa Beach which I believe is being released mid 2017.  I am anxious to read it since the author has made me interested in what happens next for Ella and Geneva and her prose is entertaining and captivating.

Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy (via Edelweiss).

Monday, January 9, 2017

Review: The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti

Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan’s social elite. She is on the board of one of the city’s most prestigious philanthropic organizations. She has a perfect Tribeca penthouse in the city and a gorgeous lake house in the country. The finest wine, the most up-to-date fashion, and the most luxurious vacations are all at her fingertips.

What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her. As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she—whoever she is—vanishes completely.

The Vanishing Year combines the classic sophistication of Ruth Rendell and A.S.A. Harrison with the thoroughly modern flair of Jessica Knoll. Told from the point-of-view of a heroine who is as relatable as she is enigmatic, The Vanishing Year is an unforgettable new novel by a rising star of the genre.

audiobook, 9 hours 50 minutes 
published September 27th 2016 by Atria Books
The Vanishing Year is my first book of 2017 and sometimes a mystery/thriller is just what this reader needs.  This is also my first book by Kate Moretti, I've seen her name floating around the internet the past few months and when The Vanishing Year became available in audio format at the library I jumped at the chance.

It didn't take long to get drawn into this story, Zoe has a past, she wasn't always rich and living the high society life.  Running from her past and trying to keep her secrets seem to finally have caught up with Zoe.  There are many layers to this story and the author peels them back creating twists and turns I didn't see coming.  As the story deepened the suspense built up putting me on a marathon read (listen).  

The Vanishing Year is a well written suspenseful, edge of you seat book, definitely an author I will read more of and recommend.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review: A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

London, 1887 ... 

Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman's noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

 But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.

 From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed...

Hardcover, 352 pages
January 10th, 2017, Berkley Books
A Curious Beginning is the first book in this Veronica Speedwell Series and while A Perilous Undertaking does not give too many clues or back flashes to the first book I do recommend going back and starting with that one.  Not only is it that good, it was great getting to know Veronica and Stokers from the start. 

There are so many things I loved about this book, with the first one being Veronica, she is not your average heroine but rather someone who has spunk, is witty, rather feisty and loves her butterflies, she brings this story to life.  While there is definite sexual tension in the air her relationship with Stoker played out with its witty bantering giving this book a humorous and engaging tone. At times I found myself forgetting about the mystery and just enjoyed their relationship.  They both have haunting pasts creating stumbling blocks that I hope resolves in the not to distant future.

Deanna Raybourn has a writing style that I love.  How everything in this mystery wove together and was revealed kept me guessing.  There was enough action to keep the story moving right along and and it wasn't hard to feel the elements along the way.  I am not sure how many books will be in this series, but I know I am looking forward to the next installment.

Thanks to Berkley Books (via Netgalley) for arc.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 in review

I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge at 100 books for 2016.  On April 27th when I was 10 books ahead of schedule my son was diagnosed with a serious illness sending me into a serious reading slump. My attention span was short and audio books turned into my best friend, since son lives 2 hours away and any down time left my brain contemplating worse case scenarios. Now that he is on the road to recovery it's only been in the last couple of months that I have felt able to pick up my pace and somehow managed to finish 91 books.

My goal for 2017 is set to 75 books, during the past year I have learned so much about what's important and things I want to do. Life can change so quickly, we don't know what tomorrow brings and its a reminder that it isn't too late to pursue your dreams, goals or ambitions and to do it  NOW.

For myself I have a couple writing projects that I am working on and would like to devote more time over 2017 to work on them.

I read some great books from 2016, also some not so great ones and this year I can count more dnf books since I did not want to waste precious time reading something just for the sake of reading..

Of those 91 books I've read:
39 were new to me authors
47 were provided via Netgalley
35 were audio books

In no peculiar order here are my best of 2016.
click on cover to take you to my review

Veronica Speedwell returns in a brand new adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries... 

 London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman's noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

 But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.

 From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed...

review coming this week
Woman of Dignity
Woman of Spirit 
Woman of Courage 

Here is the magnificent saga of Mary Ingles' daring escape from Indian captivity and her remarkable journey home. Mary Ingles was twenty-three, married, and pregnant, when Shawnee Indians invaded her peaceful Virginia settlement in 1755, kidnapped her leaving behind a bloody massacre. For months they held her captive. But nothing could imprison her spirit. 

With the rushing Ohio River as her guide, Mary Ingles walked one thousand miles through an untamed wilderness no white woman had ever seen. Her story lives on, extraordinary testimony to the indomitable strength of a pioneer woman struggling to return to the comfort of her own people, the arms of her own man. 

The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret.

It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.


America's First Daughter cover In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age.

Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter. Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

A novel of family and long-buried secrets along the treacherous Underground Railroad. 

The author of the New York Times bestseller and beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House continues the story of Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, whose deadly secret compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad.

Published in 2010, The Kitchen House became a grassroots bestseller. Fans connected so deeply to the book’s characters that the author, Kathleen Grissom, found herself being asked over and over “what happens next?” The wait is finally over.

 This new, stand-alone novel opens in 1830, and Jamie, who fled from the Virginian plantation he once called home, is passing in Philadelphia society as a wealthy white silversmith. After many years of striving, Jamie has achieved acclaim and security, only to discover that his aristocratic lover Caroline is pregnant. Before he can reveal his real identity to her, he learns that his beloved servant Pan has been captured and sold into slavery in the South. Pan’s father, to whom Jamie owes a great debt, pleads for Jamie’s help, and Jamie agrees, knowing the journey will take him perilously close to Tall Oakes and the ruthless slave hunter who is still searching for him. Meanwhile, Caroline’s father learns and exposes Jamie’s secret, and Jamie loses his home, his business, and finally Caroline.

Heartbroken and with nothing to lose, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation where Pan is being held with a former Tall Oakes slave named Sukey, who is intent on getting Pan to the Underground Railroad. Soon the three of them are running through the Great Dismal Swamp, the notoriously deadly hiding place for escaped slaves. Though they have help from those in the Underground Railroad, not all of them will make it out alive.


Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn't seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Leaving Maureen to her chores, Harold heads to the corner mailbox, intending a quick walk to post his reply. Instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce's remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest through the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit of youth and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood come rushing back to him-allowing him to reconcile his losses and regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

A novel of unsentimental charm, humour, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise-and utterly irresistible-storyteller.


 Sometimes the only way through darkness is to return to where it began. 

Marianne Stokes fled England at seventeen, spiraling into the manic depression that would become her shadow. She left behind secrets, memories, and tragedy: one teen dead, and her first love, Gabriel, badly injured. Three decades later she’s finally found peace in the North Carolina recording studio she runs with her husband, Darius, and her almost-daughter, Jade…until another fatality propels her back across the ocean to confront the long-buried past.

In her picturesque childhood village, the first person she meets is the last person she wants to see again: Gabriel. Now the village vicar, he takes her in without question, and ripples of what if reverberate through both their hearts. As Marianne’s mind unravels, Jade and Darius track her down. Tempers clash when everyone tries to help, but only by finding the courage to face her illness can Marianne heal herself and her offbeat family.


One murder ignites the powder keg that threatens to consume the Medici's Florence.

 Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. 

When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place.


Debut novelist Lisa Lewis Tyre vibrantly brings a small town and its outspoken characters to life, as she explores race and other community issues from both the Civil War and the present day.

Lou might be only twelve, but she’s never been one to take things sitting down. So when her Civil War-era house is about to be condemned, she’s determined to save it—either by getting it deemed a historic landmark or by finding the stash of gold rumored to be hidden nearby during the war. As Lou digs into the past, her eyes are opened when she finds that her ancestors ran the gamut of slave owners, renegades, thieves and abolitionists. 

Meanwhile, some incidents in her town show her that many Civil War era prejudices still survive and that the past can keep repeating itself if we let it. Digging into her past shows Lou that it’s never too late to fight injustice, and she starts to see the real value of understanding and exploring her roots. 


I killed a man the summer I turned thirteen . . .

Thus begins C. S. Harris’s haunting, lyrically beautiful tale of coming of age in Civil War-torn Louisiana. Eleven-year-old Amrie St. Pierre is catching tadpoles with her friend Finn O’Reilly when the Federal fleet first steams up the Mississippi River in the spring of 1862. With the surrender of New Orleans, Amrie’s sleepy little village of St. Francisville – strategically located between the last river outposts of Vicksburg and Port Hudson – is now frighteningly vulnerable. As the roar of canons inches ever closer and food, shoes, and life-giving medicines become increasingly scarce, Amrie is forced to grow up fast. But it is her own fateful encounter with a tall, golden-haired Union captain named Gabriel that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she holds most dear.

Told with rare compassion and insight, this is a gripping, heart-wrenching story of loss and survival; of the bonds that form amongst women and children left alone to face the hardships,deprivations, and dangers of war; and of one unforgettable girl’s slow and painful recognition of the good and evil that exists within us all.


Kate Morton meets Daphne du Maurier in this atmospheric debut novel about a woman who discovers the century-old remains of a murder victim on her family’s Scottish estate, plunging her into an investigation of its mysterious former occupants.

Following the death of her last living relative, Hetty Deveraux leaves London and her strained relationship behind for Muirlan, her ancestral home in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. She intends to renovate the ruinous house into a hotel, but the shocking discovery of human remains brings her ambitious restoration plans to an abrupt halt before they even begin. Few physical clues are left to identify the body, but one thing is certain: this person did not die a natural death.

Hungry for answers, Hetty discovers that Muirlan was once the refuge of her distant relative Theo Blake, the acclaimed painter and naturalist who brought his new bride, Beatrice, there in 1910. Yet ancient gossip and a handful of leads reveal that their marriage was far from perfect; Beatrice eventually vanished from the island, never to return, and Theo withdrew from society, his paintings becoming increasingly dark and disturbing.

What happened between them has remained a mystery, but as Hetty listens to the locals and studies the masterful paintings produced by Theo during his short-lived marriage, she uncovers secrets that still reverberate through the small island community—and will lead her to the identity of the long-hidden body.


Wildflower Hill is s compelling and romantic novel spanning three generations and half the world, from modern day London to Australia in the 1930s.

Emma is a prima ballerina in London and at a crossroads after an injured knee ruins her career. When she learns of her grandmother Beattie’s death, and her own strange inheritance—an isolated sheep station in rural Australia—Emma is certain she has been saddled with an irritating burden. But when she returns to Australia, forced to rest her body and confront her life, she realizes that she had been using fame as a substitute for love and fulfillment.

Beattie also found herself at a crossroads as a young woman, but she was pregnant and unwed. She eventually found success—but only after following an unconventional path that was often dangerous and heartbreaking. Beattie knew the lessons she learned in life would be important to Emma one day, and she wanted to make sure Emma’s heart remained open to love, no matter what life brought. She knew the magic of the Australian wilderness would show Emma the way.


When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.


Everyone has secrets...

Iris and Will have been married for seven years, and life is as close to perfect as it can be. But on the morning Will flies out for a business trip to Florida, Iris's happy world comes to an abrupt halt: another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board and, according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers.

Grief stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. Why did Will lie about where he was going? And what else has he lied about?

As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to uncover what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she finds shock her to her very core.


During the 12th-century Welsh March Wars, King William Rufus orders Guyon, 28, to marry nearly 16-year-old Judith in order to secure lands from Judith's despised uncle, Lord Robert de Belleme.

As the marriage begins, Guyon is angry and Judith is terrified. He is experienced in both love and war, and is hostile about marrying this child and surrounding himself with such a nest of political vipers. Judith, having watched her father abuse her mother, expects her own marriage to include rape, beatings, and humiliation. What gradually develops between them is a trust and respect that eventually blooms into a passionate love.

Their story is tightly interwoven with a tenuous political situation as brothers battle for the kingdom and the barons divide themselves between the factions.


With a master storyteller’s skill and a historian’s precision, Sara Donati has delighted readers and critics alike with her bestselling novels of the nineteenth-century New York frontier. Now she brings us The Endless Forest, set in the remote village of Paradise, where the Bonner family that readers first met in Into the Wilderness make their home.

The spring of 1824 is a challenging one for the inhabitants of Paradise N.Y. when a flood devastates the village. But for Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner, it’s also a time of reunion as their children return from far-off places: Lily and her husband from Italy, and Martha Kirby, the Bonners’ ward, from Manhattan. Although Lily is nursing her own grief, it is Martha, fleeing a crushing humiliation, who brings with her trouble that will reverberate in all their lives.

In the sudden peace that follows the storm, as families struggle to rebuild, childhood friends Martha and Daniel, Lily’s twin brother, suddenly begin to see each other in a new light. But their growing bond is threatened when Martha’s mother arrives back in Paradise a decade after abandoning her daughter. Jemima Southern is a dangerous schemer who has destroyed more than one family, and her anger touches everyone, as do her secrets. Has Jemima come to claim her daughter–or does she have something else in mind? Whatever happens, Martha and Daniel and all the Bonners must stand united against the threats to both heart and home.

Painful secrets and hidden sorrows, joy, heartbreak, and passion follow the Bonners through a season of change and renewal. A rich, passionate, multilayered portrayal of family strength and endurance in a fascinating place and time, The Endless Forest will be remembered long after the last page is turned.

(review coming for this one)

I'd love to hear what your favorites were for 2016