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The Memory of Us by Camille DiMaio

51-g1gh-lflI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Memory of Us was written by debut author Camille DiMaio. One of the first scenes involves protagonist Julianne visiting her twin brother at the institution that serves as his home. Julianne is not supposed to know that her brother exists; not only is she aware of him, she also makes regular clandestine visits to spend time with him. This defiance of convention and of parental wishes sets the tone for the rest of the book.

It is at Bootle House that Julianne first encounters Kyle McCarthy. Julianne is accustomed to moving in the upper echelons of Liverpool society, and Kyle is completely like any of the other boys that she knows. Not only is he an Irish Catholic, but he also attends a seminary and intends to become a priest. Continue reading

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The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

611eueyzcylI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The Girls in the Garden will be available on June 7th, 2016.

The Girls in the Garden is author Lisa Jewell’s latest book, and begins with the discovery of a young girl in a London park. She has been hurt, and possibly also assaulted. Who could have done this to her?

The plot shifts to “Before” the incident. Sisters Pip and Grace have just moved with their mother Clare to a new home that opens up to a private park. They meet the other families who live in the nearby houses; there are several other children around the same age as the girls, and friendships are formed. Continue reading

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What A Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden

51vlwvocmplI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t read nearly as much historical romance novels as I used to, but this is still a genre that I enjoy.  When I received the opportunity to read Caroline Linden’s What A Gentlemen Wants, I was excited about being able to return to the world of 19th century England and its aristocracy.

Hannah is the widow of the vicar in a small village halfway between London and Brighton.  One day, a gentleman crashes his rig near her house, and because she is a kind and gentle soul, Hannah agrees that David can recuperate at her house.  David is charmed by Hannah’s gentle nature, and asks for her hand in marriage.  At the last minute, he panics at the thought of having to give up his “rake card” and signs his twin brother Marcus’ name in the parish register.

Marcus is a duke, and is livid at his brother’s prank.  Due to circumstances beyond his control, he is unable to send Hannah and her daughter back to their village.  He asks Hannah if she will perpetuate the story that David has spread, and pretend to be his (Marcus’) wife.  Initially, Hannah is not thrilled about having to play the role of duchess, but she realizes that there are certain advantages.  Marcus’ stepmother and stepsister are kind to her, and she enjoys spending time in his house.  Marcus and Hannah do not see each other often, but every time that they do, their connection is becoming harder to deny. Continue reading

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A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger

51hnymrlh8l-_sy346_I received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I am a big fan of mysteries, so when I received the opportunity to read Mark Reutlinger’s A Pain in the Tuchis, I was very excited. This is the second Mrs. Kaplan mystery, featuring a senior citizen sleuth and her intrepid assistant.

Narrator Ida and her friend Rose Kaplan are residents in a Jewish assistant living center. When Vera, one of the residents, passes away under suspicious circumstances on Yom Kippur, Mrs. K and Ida spring into action. Right away, they realize that their biggest obstacle is that the deceased was not a very nice person. She recently had a waiter fired for a very petty reason. She told the center director about her neighbor’s secret cat. Simply put, Vera was the sort of person who made enemies wherever she went, but which of them would actually kill her? Continue reading

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D.C. Trip by Sara Benincasa

51gquldopplI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A trip to our nation’s capital city is a rite of passage for many American schoolchildren. I sold candy bars and wrapping paper to offset the cost of a sixth grade trip in 1991. Now, given that the internet was not invented yet, and we had not been emboldened by social media, I cannot report any shenanigans aside from eating handful of salt at a suburban Virginia Chi-Chi’s. When I received an opportunity to read Sara Benincasa’s new novel D.C. Trip, I was very excited. A group of high school students with only two chaperones- what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

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Heirs and Assigns by Marjorie Eccles

81ltzwnkbhlI received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Two of my favorite genres are historical fiction and mysteries, and when these two are combined, I’ll likely enjoy the result. I’m not very particular about historical era- I love Victorian stories, as well as stories set in the 1930s, and just about everything in between.

I received the opportunity to read Heirs and Assigns, the first entry in a new British country house murder mystery series by Marjorie Eccles. The story begins in 1928 with a pilgrimage; the entire Llewellyn clan is descending upon their ancestral home to celebrate the birthday of their patriarch, Penrose. Even the family black sheep/prodigal son Huwie has returned for the happy occasion. At a celebratory dinner the night before the big event, Pen makes an announcement that surprises everyone, and the family’s reaction disrupts the evening’s festivities. The dinner party breaks up, and everyone retires for the evening. The next morning, Pen is discovered dead in his bed. Continue reading

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Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

I am a big fan of Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope series, although I admit that I am an inpatient fan. After reading the first book, I received an opportunity to read the fifth book before its release date. I was so excited that I dove into Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante, without having read the middle entries in the series! I may have spoiled myself for books 2-4, but I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and would do it again.

The story takes place at the end of 1941. Maggie Hope arrives in the United States as part of Winston Churchill’s entourage. President Roosevelt has just declared war on Germany and Japan, and Churchill has traveled to America as a gesture of solidarity. Maggie quickly demonstrates that she is an invaluable resource when she helps Eleanor Roosevelt with a delicate situation. A young woman who recently worked as Mrs. Roosevelt’s secretary has been found dead, and all signs seem to point to someone trying to implicate the First Lady in a shocking scandal.

There are several other storylines, including a young man about to be executed, and a trio of captured Nazis languishing away in an English manor house. These storylines are all related, and I loved the way that MacNeal wove everything together.

The best thing about this book, and probably about the series as a whole, is MacNeal’s talent for characterization; even the minor characters have well-developed personalities. I also loved the history behind this fictional story; I was unaware that Winston Churchill really did visit the United States, and I found myself looking up details of the visit while I was in the middle of reading. MacNeal does a wonderful job of inserting historical details into the dialogue and the descriptive paragraphs. While much of this book focused on tense moments, there was also some levity. Fala, the Roosevelts’ celebrated Scottie dog stole the show in all of his scenes.

I would absolutely recommend Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante. I would recommend reading the other books in the Maggie Hope series first; it’s probably not mandatory, but it certainly does help. I do plan to go back and read the books that I’ve missed as soon as I get a chance. There were several hints at the future of the series, and I am looking forward to seeing what is next for Maggie Hope.