Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells - Book Review

Cade O'Brien has already made a name for himself as a lawman, so he figures he should be the obvious choice as sheriff in the quiet and quirky town of Savage Wells. But he didn't count on fierce competition from the pretty and feisty Paisley Bell. She's been acting as sheriff for a few month since the former sheriff became distracted. She knows the town, she knows the people and she knows how to sling a gun.

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells is the newest Proper Romance from Sarah M. Eden and Shadow Mountain. Eden has made a name for herself in the world of sweet romances. She excels at building the romantic tension between her characters and delivering fun and quirky plots. The Sheriffs of Savage Wells follows her typical formula.

There are some times in the middle of a crappy, stressful week when the very best thing is to escape into a fun, quick read. Last week, The Sheriffs of Savage Wells perfectly filled this need. The banter between the characters was clever and snarky. Paisley was ahead of her time as a law woman but some of her arguments are still timely. Paisley is a tough yet vulnerable leading character who is trying to juggle all her roles.

As is typical with most Proper Romances, The Sheriffs of Savage Wells is predictable and sometimes silly but overall it's a fun journey.

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden was published by Shadow Mountain and released on September 27, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Penguin Problems - Book Review

Last Monday was a rough day. It was stressful enough that for the rest of the week, other things took precedence over the normal events and to-do lists. So, I've ignored the stack of books waiting patiently (books are so patient) for me to write reviews about them. But in the midst of the stack was an adorable book that made me giggle. And I really needed to giggle.

Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith was the perfect book this week. It's sarcastic and snarky and all around funny. Man, I wish I just had some penguin problems.

With cute as can be illustrations and clever prose, this little penguin laments his unfortunate and miserable existence. Everything bugs him. Everything is just the worst. He hates the snow. The sun shines too bright in his eyes.

As the book goes on, the little penguin gets a reminder of that even when life gets tough, he still has so much to brighten his day. If he lets it.

Penguin Problems is just what I needed, guys. It gets a 7 thumbs up rating from all the people in my house. And that's pretty serious.

Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith is published by Random House Books for Young Readers and released on September 27, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Fifth Avenue Artists Society - Book Review

Aspiring author, Virginia Loftin and the rest of her artistic family have the connections and family name to enjoy entry into the finest homes but they are living in near poverty. When the boy next door breaks Virginia's heart to marry for money, Virginia's brother encourages her to attend meetings of The Fifth Avenue Artists Society to help improve her craft and heal her heart.

In her grief, Virginia finds that writing comes more easily and she pours her emotions into a novel. John Hopper, the host of the Artists Society and her brother's friend, finds promise in her writing and in her. Before long, the handsome and wealthy man has declared his love for her. But not all is as it seems and Virginia's friends and family might be wrapped up in a deeper deception that could ruin them all.

The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway begins as a lovely novel about an artistic family. Filled with heartbreak and issues between class and money, this novel set in the Gilded Age immediately captured my attention. The language is romantic and the characters were fun. Though not a regular reader of love stories, I enjoyed the tension between Virginia and John and her childhood friend Charlie. Virginia could be irritating and repetitive at times but I would have been satisfied with this story.

In the later part of the book, it becomes more about the mystery and criminal behaviors. This seemed a strange shift in the plot line. I wasn't thrilled where it was heading but was intrigued. Reading later that the story was based on real people from the author's genealogy actually made me appreciate the ending more.

I really enjoyed The Fifth Avenue Artists Society. It surprised my initial presumptions about the plot line but was a delightfully refreshing story.

The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway is published by Harper and released on May 31, 2016. It's also a SheReads Summer Selection.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Fifth Avenue Artists Society through the SheReads program. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Ballroom - Book Review

I fell in love with Anna Hope's debut novel Wake (read my review *here*) so when I saw that she had a new novel coming out this year, I knew immediately that I wanted to read it. Hope just has the most lovely way of writing.

There is a beautiful ballroom in the center of the asylum in the English countryside. Though the men and women patients are generally kept separated, once a week they have a dance and meet in the ballroom. It is in the ballroom that Ella and John foster their forbidden relationship that blossoms through exchanged letters and tender words.

Though convinced that music can help his patients, Dr. Charles Fuller becomes obsessed with the idea of and ethics behind eugenics. In the middle of the intense heatwave of 1911 and in a world of madness, the line of sanity becomes blurred.

Usually books or movies set in asylums have the undertones of horror and fear. While I occasionally enjoy that genre, I was pleased that The Ballroom by Anna Hope focused more on the hopes and dreams of the patients. Instead of being a fantastical thriller, the undertones of evil and ill intent in The Ballroom are realistic and therefore horrifying that some of these ideas and theories still exist.

I love how Hope gets into the heads of her characters, allowing the readers to experience their disillusionment and their realities. They are unique and dynamic and absolutely fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel even as found parts of it very disturbing. Though The Ballroom is set over a hundred years ago, it offers much to think about as we consider how we treat those with mental illness today.

The Ballroom by Anna Hope is published by Random House and released on September 6, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Ballroom. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Shattered Tree - Book Review

The soldier is brought to the nurse's station after he's found clinging to the shattered tree. He's suffering from exposure, loss of blood and his bare feet are in terrible condition after he's walked so far without boots. Bess Crawford, an English nurse, is surprised that the soldier is French but when he awakens suddenly he shouts in German. Bess is intrigued by this enigma.

Needing to recover from her own injuries, Bess is sent to convalesce in Paris where she sees the soldier again. She's determined to find out more about him. Her digging puts her right in the middle of a potentially dangerous mystery.

Set towards the end of World War I, The Shattered Tree uses the intrigue and fighting between the nations to set up this mystery. Was the soldier from Alsace-Lorraine--the border area that was constantly shifting between German and France? Could he be a spy?

Though The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd is part of the Bess Crawford Mysteries, I have not read any of the earlier mysteries. The Shattered Tree is capable of standing alone. There were a few characters that had clearly been previously introduced in earlier novels and so the relationships between them and Bess were not as clear as they might have been if I had already read the others. Other wise, I was able to enjoy this novel without previously reading the others.

In some ways, Bess Crawford reminded me of a spunky Maisie Dobbs. In Bess's case she is able to use her father's connections to get her to help with her digging and discovering of information though she does not do it any official capacity.

The novel is well written and kept my attention. I read it quickly over two days. As with many mysteries, the coincidences are sometimes hard to swallow. There is a large cast of characters and some surprising twists but it felt like it was all over the place. Overall, The Shattered Tree was enjoyable but I'm not going to be rushing out to get the next Bess Crawford mystery.

The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd is published by William Morrow and released on August 30, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Shattered Tree. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**