A White Room

June 30, 2013

A White Room
By: Stephanie Carroll
408 Pages

At the close of the Victorian Era, society still expected middle-class women to be "the angels of the house," even as a select few strived to become something more. In this time of change, Emeline Evans dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when her father dies unexpectedly, Emeline sacrifices her ambitions and rescues her family from destitution by marrying John Dorr, a reserved lawyer who can provide for her family.
John moves Emeline to the remote Missouri town of Labellum and into an unusual house where her sorrow and uneasiness edge toward madness. Furniture twists and turns before her eyes, people stare out at her from empty rooms, and the house itself conspires against her. The doctor diagnoses hysteria, but the treatment merely reinforces the house's grip on her mind.
Emeline only finds solace after pursuing an opportunity to serve the poor as an unlicensed nurse. Yet in order to bring comfort to the needy she must secretly defy her husband, whose employer viciously hunts down and prosecutes unlicensed practitioners. Although women are no longer burned at the stake in 1900, disobedience is a symptom of psychological defect, and hysterical women must be controlled.--bn.com

If you are looking for a suspenseful read this summer, I encourage you to read A White Rom. I was intrigued by the story early on. Fans of Daphne DuMaurier will enjoy this book, as well. It was a classical suspense/thriller that let your imagination take you where the book left you. You have all the makings of a great read: the ominous house, the daughter desperate to aide her destitute family, a marriage entered into for all the wrong reasons. Oh! And let's not forget the dancing furniture decorated like no other house around.
If you loved Jane Eyre, The Thirteenth Tale, Rebecca, and others like them, you will be gripped to A White Room. A great escape for your mind this summer. 


June 26, 2013

Dear Barnes & Noble Company,

I have been a long time, dedicated customer for over 20 years. I have bought countless books within your various stores. I am an interested party to what happens with your stores. And let me say, while your stores are my "happy place", I am NOT happy.

For several years now, I have watched changes unfold. While I know that every company is going to have experience change in order to grow and stay vital, I have been forced to watch negative changes occur. In my opinion, it feels as if you have been sabotaging your own company. What happened?! Where did you go wrong?!

Barnes & Noble made it's name as being the place to go for books. Within your stores, numerous book lovers found a place for their passion to call home. I am one of those people. I remember being in junior high, and going to B. Dalton to buy books. There was no Barnes & Noble store near me, so my Mom would take me there. I began collecting your classics collection. I started out when the adult classics were in yellow jackets, and the kids ones were in blue. I have been adding to my collection ever since. 

At what point did you think adding a toy section to your stores was a smart idea? What in the world made you think removing shelves of books and replacing them with over priced toys was a good business move? And who had, in your company, had the arrogance to claim Barnes & Noble the #1 toy seller?! Did you forget what your company is called? Let me refresh you with what your store name signs say: BARNES & NOBLE BOOKSELLERS. Booksellers- not toy sellers!

I am a loyal patron. I will go down with the ship, if it goes down. However, out of my loyalty I beg of you to stop destroying a beloved company. Your company made it's name, and reputation, on selling books like no other company has. Amazon can't even top what you do. You supply people with the chance to step into the wondrous world of books as soon as they walk through the door. Amazon doesn't have actual stores to encourage browsing and exploring other books. I can't tell you how many books I've discovered without setting out to. NEVER underestimate the power of browsing. A website can do that, but only to a point. 

Go back to the business plan you had when you were successful. Remember what put you guys on the map in the first place. I beg of you. I realize digital reading is a difficult hurdle to overcome. But, never forgot the loyal customers who still prefer books in their original form. I still prefer holding my books in my hands as I journey through their pages. Do not alienate that core base. They aren't going to disappear unless you force them to.


The Bookman's Tale

June 25, 2013

The Bookman's Tale
By: Charlie Lovett

Sometimes, the best books are the ones that keep you guessing. Books that slowly unfold the mystery from different angles. Summer reading is one of my favorite times to read a good mystery/suspense novel. And what better subject than the book world?!

The Bookman's Tale delivers all of that- and more. The main mystery is whether or not a copy of Pandosto, which Shakespeare used to base one of his plays, was real or a forgery. However, that is by no means the only mystery you get to solve. This book is crawling with them and each is as intriguing as the others. 

Peter Byerly is an antique bookseller who is still recovering from the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, only 9 months before. He has journeyed to England's Hay-on-Wye, a town of bookstores, as a way to attempt of getting back to his career. All of that changes when he picks up a book and a 100 year old watercolor falls to the floor. The face looking up at Peter looks just like his wife. Right away Peter sets out to find out how his late wife could look like the woman in a century old watercolor. Yet, that mystery leads him to others. 

It's hard to write this review without giving away key plot points. I can tell you Peter sets out to learn who painted the watercolor. He also comes in contact with what he believes is a genuine Pandosto. Among all that, a mystery surrounding forgery grows bigger with every discovery. Barnes and Noble chose The Bookman's Tale for it's current Recommends selection. I'm almost finished with this book and I'm loving every page. This book is an intriguing story you crawl deeper and deeper into. I don't want the book to end, but I want to find out how everything ties together. 

I strongly recommend this book. An engrossing read that you won't want to put down.

The King's Deception

June 11, 2013

The King's Deception
By: Steve Berry
432 Pages
Reviewed By: David Nelissen

Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his old boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England.  After a gunpoint greeting in London in which both the fugitive and Gary disappear, Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown-an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.
At its heart is the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103, who is set to be released by Scottish authorities for ‘humanitarian reasons.’  An outraged American government wants that stopped, but nothing can persuade the British to intervene.
Except, perhaps, Operation King’s Deception.
Run by the CIA, the operation aims to solve a centuries-old mystery, one that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.
CIA Operative Blake Antrim, in charge of King’s Deception, is hunting for the spark that could rekindle a most dangerous fire:  the one thing that every Irish national has sought for centuries-a legal reason why the English must leave Northern Ireland.  The answer is a long-buried secret that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire 45 year reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized much of its land. But Antrim also has a more personal agenda, a twisted game of revenge in which Gary is a pawn.  With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone is caught in a lethal bind.  To save Gary he must play one treacherous player against another-and only by uncovering the incredible truth can he hope to stop the shattering consequences of the King’s Deception.  --steveberry.org

In The King’s Deception, Cotton Malone is back for another round of history-changing, fast-paced mystery solving. Steve Berry in previous books has attacked the perceptions of many key figures in history, and now it is the British monarchy that will have your perception challenged. Having said that, this adventure takes place almost exclusively (aside from a few flashbacks) in England. It starts with Cotton doing a favor for his former boss. He and his son just need to escort a British fugitive back to London. As soon as the wheels are down in England, everything goes awry. Multiple plots unfold, allegiances change back and forth, and along the way a secret history of the Tudors comes to light.
This book was very much like previous Cotton Malone books, in that the action was well paced and easy to follow, with the critical information of the plot spread out in chunks which always seemed to leave me wanting to know more right away. The plot was one that very much intrigued me and I spent some time researching on my own after I finished reading, just so I could have more first-hand knowledge. As always, Berry adds a “Writer’s Note” at the end to let us, the readers, know where he embellished for the story (which was surprisingly little). Around 300 books were studied for this book and Berry even cites Bram Stoker for one of the biggest facets of the story.
All in all, this book was very good. It had me involved in the characters. It had me imagining some wonderful sights in England, even though I have never been there. It especially had me involved in the plot. Even now, after having read it I cannot help thinking, “What if that did happen? What if what I have heard before may not be true? What if…? What if…? What if…?”

The Lavender Garden

The Lavender Garden
By: Lucinda Riley
399 Pages
La Côte d’Azur, 1998: In the sun-dappled south of France, Emilie de la Martinières, the last of her gilded line, inherits her childhood home, a magnificent château and vineyard. With the property comes a mountain of debt—and almost as many questions . . .
Paris, 1944: A bright, young British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent undercover to Paris to be part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from her contacts in the Resistance, she soon stumbles into the heart of a prominent family who regularly entertain elite members of the German military even as they plot to liberate France. But in a city rife with collaborators and rebels, Constance’s most difficult decision may be determining whom to trust with her heart.
As Emilie discovers what really happened to her family during the war and finds a connection to Constance much closer than she suspects, the château itself may provide the clues that unlock the mysteries of her past, present, and future. ---bn.com

Lucinda Riley is one of those writers who is able to create the most amazing novels.Long after you finish her stories, they stay with you. You may have finished the book, but the book  has finished with you.When I read one of her books, I am putty in her hands. I know she's going to tell me a story I won't want to put down.

The Lavender Garden tells numerous stories. All of them pull you in. All of them tell a different story. All of them are pieces of the overall puzzle. And each one of them will grab hold you and not let go.

Emilie is the last of de la Martinieres. Her Mother has just died and she has inherited the massive house her family has had for hundreds of years. A child who spent the vast majority of her life isolated from the world, Emilie is naive in the ways of the world, but she doesn't stay that way for long. Life is about to open her eyes to things she never thought of before.

While dining in town, a handsome stranger stops by to offer his condolences. Turns out Sebastian Carruthers' Grandmother knew Emilie's Father. When Emilie gives Sebastian a tour of the chateau he's heard much of, she learns he can help her. Together, they find an old abandoned room hidden in the cellar. Both wonder what it was used for. Only one of them will find out they have a connection to it. Sebastian becomes a shoulder she can rely on and they marry after a brief courtship.

It isn't long before Emilie realizes there is more to her husband than she thought. In fact, reality will soon show her that nothing is what it appeared to be when it comes to her husband. When Sebastian takes her to the home he shares with his disabled brother, he issues a warning: do not believe anything he says. While Sebastian is gone on business trips, Emilie gets to know Adam. She quickly learns it isn't Adam who is the liar, or the brother she should be leery of. 

While she's having her family home repaired and modernized, Emilie is told of her how her Father and Sebastian's Grandmother knew one another. They both did their part to help the Allies during World War II. After going through extensive training in order to best help sabotage the Fuhrer's efforts, Constance must pretend to be Edouard's cousin so as not to blow their covers. From then on, Constance and Edouard are a team. A team that go to great lengths to help ruin Nazi plans. But when their cover is blown, a hasty exit is made for some. 

Constance, and Edouard's blind sister, Sophia, hide out in Edoaurd's other house. Sophia brings her own complications when it's learned she is pregnant. 

From beginning to end, The Lavender Garden, keeps you gripped. I couldn't put the book down. Every page had something happening and I was anxious to see what would happen to the characters I grew to love. Lucinda Riley is a master at writing compelling, engrossing books. If you love historical fiction, you will love The Lavender Garden.

A Most Peculiar Circumstance

June 1, 2013

A Most Peculiar Circumstance
By: Jen Turano
339 Pages

Arabella couldn't help but agree to track down Mrs. James daughter. Theodore has agreed to track down Arabella so she can attend her brother's wedding. Arabella is highly active in the Women's Liberation Movement. Theodore is a well known detective who isn't  that fond of the whole women's lib thing. Barbs are traded, and sparks fly, when these two meet. Even more so when they both look into a series of disappearances.

A Most Peculiar Circumstance is a fun read. I loved the pairing of Arabella and Theodore. These two couldn't be more opposite, and yet aren't as opposite as they think. Instant attractions aside, the two drive each other crazy. 

Theodore has tracked the missing Arabella when she fails to return home when she was set to. The last place he expected to find her was a jail cell, but that's exactly where she is. Perhaps even more odd is how she got there and the mystery it uncovers. It appears that Miss James landed herself in a prostitution ring. One that affects life in Arabella's hometown.

Arabella is determined to figure out the truth behind it and get the answers. She's determined to find out what's happened to several women of the night that have gone missing. Theodore is determined to not let Arabella get any more involve than she already is. Neither get their wish and are forced to work together to get the truth exposed. While they work to solve this mystery, the two begin to realize they have feelings for one another.

Readers are in for a fun read when they choose A Most Peculiar Circumstance. The pairing of Arabella and Theodore is an endless source of entertainment. The cast of secondary characters adds to the fun story you read. 

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