Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Country Affairs

Country Affairs (The Tippermere Series) by [Stoneley, Zara]

Country Affairs
Zara Stoneley

If you are looking for a fun romp in the English countryside, this book is for you. It's number two in the Tippermere Series and it follows all the characters from the first book. In this installment, Charlotte “Lottie” Brinkely is set to take over her inheritance, the country house being left to her by her grandmother Elizabeth. But will the lovable boyfriend Rory be able to cope with all the responsibility, especially when Lottie has to come up with ideas to raise money to cover the estates enormous debts.

I found Country Affairs was a lot more fun than the first book in the series, although book one is good at laying the groundwork for all the characters involved. I felt book two was better developed and a lot more interesting. By the end of book two I was certainly ready for the next in the series entitled, Country Rivals.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Review: The Women in the Castle

The Women in the Castle

The Women in the Castle
Jessica Shattuck

This historical novel follows the lives of three women who have to come to grips with the paths their lives have taken both during, before and after WWII. Marianne von Lingenfels has promised her husband and other male members of his resistance group that she will look after their wives and children if there plans to eliminate Hitler fail. When she is forced to do so, she must first locate the women and children who have been imprisoned or in the case of the children, moved to foster homes.

Marianne is able to reunite with two of the women Benita and Ania and bring them along with their children back to Castle Lingenfels. They must fend for themselves during a time of uncertainty and hardship. And as the story progresses secrets of the past are revealed that will test the friendship that has been built up between the women, around the memory of their lost husbands and the lives they once knew.

This richly detailed and atmospheric novel is at once sad and poignant and perhaps comes at the just right time. In it, we can see how political and cultural divisions can lead to disasters. It is both heart wrenching and unsettling but told with  warmth and understanding that made it hard to put down. Those who enjoy historical fiction will not be disappointed.

Thanks to Shelf-Awareness and William Morrow for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: Harvest

Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants

Stefani Bittner & Alethea Harampolis

This lovely book consists of 47 projects using a variety of plants and flowers for creating among other things, herbal teas, infused oils, and striking arrangements using unexpected plants. The projects come with clear and easy to follow instructions with further tips at the end of the book. Each project focuses on a specific plant with information about the plant and how to grow the particular variety in question, as well as the project itself. The book is arranged by seasons, inspiring readers to make the most of nature throughout the year.

The authors included high-quality photos which I found inspiring. In fact, just reading this book made me want to run out to the garden shop and buy some herbs and other plants. It also made me appreciate the fact that some plants could be put to more uses than I had assumed.

This book would no doubt be the perfect gift for a gardener or a creative person who wants to make the most of some common plants found in gardens and backyards and with plants that can be easily found at a local shop.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: The Threat Level Remains Severe

The Threat Level Remains Severe

The Threat Level Remains Severe
Rowena MacDonald

Grace works for the Economic Scrutiny Committee in the UK House of Commons. Originally a temporary job, it has turned into a permanent position. Things take a interesting turn when the committee gets a new recruit, Brett from Australia. He is everything Grace detests in the newcomers, set on making a name and career for themselves. Grace isn't exactly Brett's dream girl either but at some point they fall into a relationship, albeit a slightly complex one. When things don't work out for them, Grace turns to a secret email admirer. Unfortunately he isn't the antidote to Brett. In fact, the man who passes himself of as Reuben Swift, a struggling poet and musician is a lot more troubled then he lets on. By the time Grace meets him she has to ask Brett for help. All three end up in a downward spiraling trajectory after their encounter. The results of which will challenge them all.

The beginning of this book is very funny. I just loved the descriptions of Grace and Brett, especially
Brett as the overly-pleased-with-himself Australian. In the second part, it takes a turn into a darker area with the introduction of Reuben, and becomes a bit more serious, although certainly not less interesting.

What I really enjoyed about this story is the authors ability to capture the atmosphere around each character. I really felt like I knew these characters by the end of the story. Overall, it was skillfully written and I enjoyed being able to see the story from each characters perspective. This was such an entertaining read, I found it hard to put down. This is my first book by Ms. MacDonald but I hope there will be more to come.

Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: Speaking from Among the Bones

Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce, #5)

Speaking From Among the Bones
Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce, the eleven year old amateur detective, is irresistible. Once again she is right in the thick of things in the English village of Bishop's Lacey. The village is preparing to celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the death of Saint Tancred. In order to do this the village plans to open the grave of the Saint but, before that happens a body is discovered, that of Mr. Collicut, the church organist. Even though the local police think they can handle the investigation, Flavia is intent of conducting one of her own. This is despite the drama that continues at her family's estate of Buckshaw. Flavia's father is under pressure to settle his debts or sell the estate creating a somber atmosphere at home. Although Flavia takes note she is more preoccupied with her latest murder investigation.

I can't get enough of Flavia, she is entertaining and as sharp as a whip. I can't imagine a reader who isn't going to fall for this endearing character, hook, line and sinker. Fans of British cozy mysteries will not want to miss this one.