Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman
Pub. Date: April 21, 2020

Goodreads says, "A trio of second-born daughters set out to break the family curse that says they’ll never find love on a whirlwind journey through the lush Italian countryside by New York Times bestseller Lori Nelson Spielman, author of The Life List.  Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than two hundred years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love. Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily-single baker at her grandfather’s Brooklyn deli, claim it’s an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it’s a true hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she’ll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her eightieth birthday, and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all.  Against the backdrop of wandering Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, and enchanting Amalfi Coast villages, romance blooms, destinies are found, and family secrets are unearthed—secrets that could threaten the family far more than a centuries-old curse."

Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, family secrets....oh, sign me up! Doesn't this sounds like a great springtime read? What do you guys think?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Book Review: Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness  Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.  In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.  Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables."

Marilla Cuthbert lives a quiet life on Prince Edward Island.  She lives with her father, her pregnant mother, and her brother in a modest house on their farm.  Although their farmhouse is off the beaten path, Marilla's father is slowly improving it.  Marilla's mother, despite her previous  challenging pregnancies, finds herself pregnant again at an advanced age for the time period.  With this in mind, her mother's sister, Izzy, comes to visit and help out.  Marilla is thirteen years old and things are changing for her on her idyllic island.  She is starting to notice boys, making her first real girl friend, and the politics of the island are changing as well.  Aunt Izzy really interests Marilla and why wouldn't she? She left Avonlea for the busy city and is a successful dressmaker who is, believe it or not, unmarried.  Aunt Izzy, noticing Marilla can be a bit of a homebody, brings her along to a sewing circle at a nearby house and while there Marilla meets Rachel, who ends up being her best friend.  Through Rachel, Marilla also becomes better acquainted with John Blythe.  John and Marilla hit it off and just when things start to look promising for Marilla disaster strikes.  Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy is the story I had always hoped for the much loved character of Marilla.  Fans of Anne of Green Gables will absolutely love to be back in the charming world of Avonlea.

In Anne of Green Gables, there are references to a past between John Blythe and Marilla. In Marilla of Green Gables, McCoy explores this possibility and I absolutely loved it. While a true Anne of Green Gables fan already knows Marilla's fate, I loved going on the journey with her and it helped me to understand why Marilla felt like she couldn't leave Green Gables or abandon her brother.  Just because Marilla doesn't get the guy in the end doesn't make her any less fascinating of a person.  I truly loved her world and didn't want to leave it.

McCoy does a wonderful job bringing Avonlea to life.  I felt like this re-imagining really worked.  Sometimes when authors continue a beloved story, readers can be upset or disappointed by where the author takes the plot, but that was not the case in Marilla of Green Gables . It was a reuniting that I never thought possible and I was happy to see my old friends.

McCoy also gives us a lot of detail regarding Canadian history and its politic affairs, especially in regards to slavery. I thought this was a nice touch by McCoy and definitely added to the story. I had little prior knowledge about Canada's stance on the issue of slavery prior to the American Civil War, so it was interesting to see how it all played out.

If you are a fan of Anne of Green Gables, you won't want to miss Marilla's story in Marilla of Green Gables . It's the perfect heartwarming novel to cuddle up with this holiday season.

Are you a fan of Anne of Green Gables? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Stacking the Shelves (109)

Book Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren 
Can't Wait Wednesday: The Last Train to Key West 

Next week I hope to share my thoughts on two fantastic historical novels, Marilla of Green Gables and The Chaperone. If you aren't aware, The Chaperone, featuring Downton's Elizabeth McGovern, is coming to PBS, so I wanted to read the book ahead of time. It didn't disappoint!

The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee - Thanks to Amazon Publishing
This Terrible Beauty by Katrin Schumann - Thanks to Lake Union Publishing


The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White - Thanks to Delacorte Press and NetGalley
Let it Snow by Nancy Thayer - Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewer and Ballantine Books

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Book Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Pages: 358
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance
Pub. Date: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Gallery
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books by Author: Love and Other Words
and The Unhoneymooners
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.  During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.  Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice. "

Tate Butler is on a trip of a lifetime to London with her grandmother.  While there, they meet Sam Brandis and his grandfather.  Tate and Sam hit it off and find themselves spending more and more time together while on this trip.  Sam has a complicated family history and Tate, well, her family's story is ripped straight off the cover of a tabloid. Her father is Ian Butler, the world's most famous movie star and since her mother divorced him, Tate has fallen off the face of the Earth much to the paparazzi's chagrin.  She has maintained an extremely low profile living under a different name off the beaten path, so she could experience a normal childhood.  While in London, Tate and Sam get very close. So close that she actually reveals who is truly is and some of her backstory.  Disaster ensues and her whereabouts are leaked to the press.  Skip ahead to many years later when Tate is a working actress herself and she runs into Sam on set.  What will happen when the only man she ever truly loved as well as the only man to break her heart re-enters her life again?  Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren is a compelling romance set amongst movie sets and ultimately, it's all about second chances at love and life.

Twice in a Blue Moon starts off with Tate and her grandmother on this amazing trip to London. Tate is naive and hasn't really lived much thanks to her sheltered childhood. So, this is a very exciting trip for Tate. As sparks fly between Sam and Tate, they not only have chemistry, but they have a deeper connection. They get each other and surprisingly, Tate can relate to Sam, which never happens.  But by the end of the trip; however, word is out that Tate Butler is in London and the paparazzi have found her.  She only told one person about her true identity and that person is Sam. So, this means he betrayed her trust.  Plus, there's no more hiding anymore. Everyone has found Tate Butler and even has some insight into her story, thanks to Sam's blubbering mouth.

Sam is a complex character in Twice in a Blue Moon.  Initially, I found myself really liking him, but he made some horribly bad decisions, so it was tough to finally come around to him.  Keep in mind, there is more to Sam than we initially though and more is revealed as the story unfolds.  Fast forward many years and we have Tate, a successful actress, on set and she runs into Sam. Not only is Sam on the movie set, he wrote the screenplay under a pseudonym, which is why Tate is shocked about this encounter.  It truly throws her for a loop.  A big loop.  To complicate matters further, Tate is on set with her formally estranged father, who is the famous Ian Butler.  He is playing her dad in the movie. So, cue all the drama.  

My favorite part of Twice in a Blue Moon is the Hollywood/movie set setting. I loved that and it felt fun and original.  It was interesting to learn how Sam came up with his idea for the movie and what inspired him to write the screenplay.  His family's history plays a big role in it, which I also found compelling.  

White the romance didn't wow me like it did in Lauren's The Unhoneymooners, I was still delighted by this original romance.  I wish it had more of the witty banter and snarky comments Lauren is known for, but ultimately, Twice in a Blue Moon worked for me.   It's a good book to curl up with this November and holiday season, especially if you appreciate a satisfying second chance at love story. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Last Train to Key West

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
Pub. Date: June 16, 2020

Goodreads says, "In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton's captivating new novel.  Everyone journeys to Key West searching for something. For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.   The Cuban Revolution of 1933 left Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position. After an arranged wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to the stranger she’s married, her new husband’s illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.   Elizabeth Preston's trip from New York to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles as a result of the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.  Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

I've read a few novels featuring this infamous hurricane, but I am excited to read Cleeton's take on it.  Plus, a novel set in the Florida Keys sounds like perfect beach reading to me. What do you guys think? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

What I'm Reading Next (27)

It's the time of the year where bookworms love to cuddle up with a good book, a hot cup of tea (or wine!), and a roaring fire if you have one.  Here are the books I plan to curl up with this month. Let's hope I can get to some of these books before the holiday season begins.

The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock - This book's release is just in time for The Crown to come back on! Perfect timing! I can't wait to read this novel focusing on Princess Margaret.

The Wicked Redhead by Beatriz Williams - This is a follow up to The Wicked City.  Who doesn't love Jazz Age New York? 

The Lady Takes the Case by Eliza Casey - The fall season is the perfect time to curl up with a cozy mystery.  This one is all about a dinner party turn deadly. This sounds like a promising start to a new historical mystery series. 

The Irish Princess by Elizabeth Chadwick - I ordered my copy from the UK as it hasn't been published in the US yet. I really enjoy Chadwick's novels and can't wait to dive into this one.

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White - This is the start of a new series where White reimagines the Arthurian legend. Yes, please! 

What do you hope to read this month? Let me know in the comments below. 

Monday, November 4, 2019

Blog Tour: The Bride of Northanger

I don't know about you, but with the colder weather and winter looming around the corner, I gravitate towards comfort reads, Gothic mysteries, and all things Jane Austen. There's so many great retellings coming out and stories featuring our favorite characters from Jane Austen's world.

I'm very happy to be a part of the blog tour for The Bride of Northanger by Diana Birchall; I'm spotlighting this wonderful novel which just came out in September and in many ways is considered a continuation to Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.

About the Book:

"A happier heroine than Catherine Morland does not exist in England, for she is about to marry her beloved, the handsome, witty Henry Tilney. The night before the wedding, Henry reluctantly tells Catherine and her horrified parents a secret he has dreaded to share - that there is a terrible curse on his family and their home, Northanger Abbey. Henry is a clergyman, educated and rational, and after her year’s engagement Catherine is no longer the silly young girl who delighted in reading “horrid novels”; she has improved in both reading and rationality. This sensible young couple cannot believe curses are real...until a murder at the Abbey triggers events as horrid and Gothic as Jane Austen ever parodied - events that shake the young Tilneys’ certainties, but never their love for each other..."

About the Author:

"Diana Birchall worked for many years at Warner Bros studios as a story analyst, reading novels to see if they would make movies. Reading manuscripts went side by side with a restorative and sanity-preserving life in Jane Austen studies and resulted in her writing Austenesque fiction both as homage and attempted investigation of the secrets of Jane Austen's style. She is the author of In Defense of Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Elton in America, Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma, and the new The Bride of Northanger. She has written hundreds of Austenesque short stories and plays, as well as a biography of her novelist grandmother, and has lectured on her books and staged play readings at places as diverse as Hollywood, Brooklyn, Montreal, Chawton House Library, Alaska, and Yale. Visit Diana at her Austen Variations author page, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads."

Buy the Book:

The Bride of Northanger can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and don't forget to add the book to your reading list on Goodreads.  You can also visit the publisher's page to learn more.  

Learn More About the Tour:

Doyenne of Austenesque fiction Diana Birchall tours the blogosphere October 28 through November 15 to share her latest release, The Bride of Northanger. Thirty popular book bloggers specializing in historical and Austenesque fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, excerpts, and book reviews of this acclaimed continuation of Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. 

November 05 More Agreeably Engaged 
November 05 Vesper’s Place 
November 06 Jane Austen in Vermont 
November 06 Diary of an Eccentric 
November 07 All Things Austen 
November 07 A Bookish Way of Life 
November 07 Let Them Read Books 
November 08 vvb32 Reads 
November 11 Reading the Past 
November 12 The Calico Critic 
November 13 The Book Rat 
November 13 Austenesque Reviews 
November 14 The Fiction Addict 

So, be sure to add The Bride of Northanger to your TBR list this winter. It seems like the perfect book to curl up with alongside a roaring fire and a hot cup of tea.  Are you a fellow Janeite?  Do you like to read novels inspired by her and her beloved characters? Let me know your favorite in the comments below. 

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