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The Distance
The Distance

4.0 out of 5 stars Non-Stop Suspense, October 22, 2014
This review is from: The Distance (Kindle Edition)
The Distance by Helen Giltrow is one of the She Reads Books of Fall and it is one fast paced ride through a pretty gritty world. This is one of those books that has you wondering at every second just what will jump from the page next.

In the public eye Charlotte is a society woman but in private she becomes Karla. In her life as Karla she specializes in information. She can find out anything, she can change data, she can literally do pretty much anything with a person’s life including making them disappear. What she does is not considered to be legal which is why it is so secretive so when someone from her past – Simon – shows up Karla knows something is up. Simon is a hired killer and he wants into The Program. The Program is a unique prison in that it is set up as a self-regulating village and Simon wants in. Can Karla get him in? Can Simon find his target and make it out alive?

The Distance is a fast paced thriller that really doesn’t give you a moment to breathe. Both Karla and Simon are great characters but because the book is basically plot driven you never really get to know them therefore the connection there is lost but really not important in this type of story. You know when you watch a horror movie and put your hands over your eyes – well that’s how I felt reading. I kept thinking to myself that these people were all crazy for putting themselves in such situations yet I kept listening. My only complaint is that I found the beginning hard to get into and until I got a grasp on who was who and what they were up to I wasn’t sure I would keep listening but when this story took off it did so in a big way!

I listened to the audiobook of The Distance which is narrated by Rachel Atkins and I thought she did a great job with this book. She had the right tone for the weightiness of the violence and secretive nature of what was going on. I hadn’t listened to her before but I would again. In the beginning when I was having trouble getting into the story it’s her narration that kept me going! One note though is that this is a very graphically violent book so it is most definitely not for the faint of heart so beware. If you’re a fan of heart pounding action then The Distance is the book for you.

Butternut Summer: A Novel (The Butternut Lake Trilogy)
Butternut Summer: A Novel (The Butternut Lake Trilogy)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $9.78

4.0 out of 5 stars A Lovely Read, October 22, 2014
Butternut Summer by Mary McNear was just what I was expecting. A lovely, heartwarming story of a charming little town with a whole host of characters that you won’t soon forget. Butternut Summer is the second in the Butternut Lake Trilogy with the first being Up at Butternut Lake which I read last year and loved. Part of a trilogy this book does stand on its own although the benefit of reading the first book before this one would be familiarizing yourself with the characters a little more and getting a bit of back story. Both books are so wonderful and just perfect for cozying up with now that the weather is cooling off.

Daisy is home from college for the summer and nothing could make her mother Caroline happier. Daisy will spend the summer working with her mom in their diner called Pearl’s and Caroline is really looking forward to spending time with her daughter. Caroline is in for a surprise though because unknown to her Daisy has been meeting with her father for more than a year. The same father that walked out on Daisy and her mother when Daisy was just a baby. Of course Caroline is still very bitter towards Jack but has always kept that from Daisy and can understand that Daisy wants to have a relationship with her father but that doesn’t mean that Caroline has to as well. However it seems that Jack is thinking exactly that and he doesn’t seem to want to give up too easily in his determination to win Caroline back.

Daisy, on her way to meet her parents, ends up having trouble with her truck and has to stop at the mechanics. She ends up meeting Will a boy she went to school with but he was considered a bad boy then so he wasn’t anyone Daisy associated with. Even now the two have nothing in common. Daisy is on her way back to college at the end of the summer and Will is going nowhere really working at the garage. Secretly though Will remembers the fierce crush he had on Daisy in school and it seems that attraction is still there and now he’s brave enough to act on it. Will it be a summer of love for the two?

I loved this story of love and second chances. I love that the author dealt with some real issues in this novel like alcoholism and the effects that it has on a family. I like that forgiveness and moving on plays a big role as well. Caroline was one of my favorite characters from the first book and it was great getting to know her so much better. I love that she got a second chance at life and love. I thought Daisy was a great character too. For a young woman and especially a young woman in the throes of her first love she still maintained a sensible outlook on things. The author also does a wonderful job of making the reader fall in love with Butternut and it sure made this reader wish she lived somewhere so beautiful. I was lucky enough to snag the audiobook from my local library and it was wonderful. It is narrated by Carrington Macduffie who I’ve not listened to before but would again. She really did a great job of bringing these characters and this story to life for me.

I can’t wait to see whose story will be told in Moonlight on Butternut Lake which is the third and final book in the trilogy. Butternut Summer is perfect for fans of women’s fiction and romances. Highly recommended!

Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A dark and haunting read, October 22, 2014
Floats the Dark Shadow by Yves Fey is set in Belle Epoque Paris in the 1890’s and the author vividly evokes all the sights and smells of this time in such a way that the reader feels they are walking the darkened streets themselves. This is a time filled with artists, poets, and writers and the author takes full advantage of this in the building of this story. Along with this is the seedier side of Paris full of dark magic and the occult and it is very, very dark and disturbing. Floats the Dark Shadow is a historical mystery that begs the reader to immerse themselves in its darkness, intrigue, and depravity.

Inspector Michel Devaux is investigating the disappearances of several children and this investigation is leading him deeper and deeper into the darker side of Paris. It also leads him to meeting Theo Faraday who is an American artist living in Paris. Their paths cross because of the missing children and Theo is just as determined to find out who is responsible as the Inspector is. Theo loves the city life and even more her cousin Averill who is a poet and introduces her to the wonderful side of Paris. As more children disappear – children that Theo knows – and the investigation deepens the fingers of accusation begin to point at Averill and Theo is devastated. Could it be that Averill is responsible for the horrific acts being carried out against children? Theo can’t accept that – she won’t. Despite being warned by Inspector Devaux to stay out of danger Theo instead throws herself headlong into the darkest of places. Will she survive? Or end up as a sacrifice to this killer who imagines himself a reincarnation of Gilles de Rais who was once in Joan of Arc’s army but later burned at the stake for his crimes against young children?

There is so much more to this novel than I’ve briefly touched on. This is one of those books that you want to take your time with. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Paris and I’m a fan of the darker side of things being a horror fan. The author weaved fact with fiction so effortlessly that it’s hard to tell where the truth ends and the story takes over. This is definitely not a novel for the faint of heart though and there were a few parts that I found disturbing but nevertheless it is a beautifully written and well told story. I had some issues getting into it at first but as the story evolved I was sucked completely in and sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for what would happen next. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Hollie Jackson and I thought she did a fantastic job of bringing this story alive. I kept listening because I enjoyed her narration and I’m glad I did because ultimately I really enjoyed this novel.

Recommended for those who enjoy literary historical fiction and the mysterious darker side of Paris!

The Betrayed (Krewe of Hunters)
The Betrayed (Krewe of Hunters)
Price: $5.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!, October 22, 2014
The Betrayed by Heather Graham is part of a series called the Krewe of Hunters and another winner for me! This series is terrific because they all stand alone with their only commonality being paranormal investigators from the Krewe of Hunters. What I love most about this series is the supernatural element, the romance, and the mystery to be solved. Be prepared to spare a few hours when you start this book because it was one that hooked me from the beginning and I dreaded having to put it down to do something else because I was just too anxious to find out the ‘who done it’ part of the story.

Aiden is a new member to the Krewe of Hunters. Even though he is valiantly trying to ignore the fact that he can communicate with the dead it is in fact a reality for him. After being visited in a dream by his old friend Richard Highsmith he is alerted the very next day to the man’s disappearance and sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate. Upon arriving he meets Maureen, nicknamed Mo, and her dog Rollo and together they are called in on searches for missing people but Mo has another more hidden talent – she can see and communicate with the dead. They find Richard, unfortunately not alive, and even worse she finds Richard’s head displayed on the statue of the legendary Headless Horseman. Who would do something so grotesque? Aiden and Mo become desperate in their search for the killer as whoever it is escalates the game and even Aiden and Mo find themselves in danger. Who is responsible for the disappearances and killings? Will Aiden and Mo find the killer before it’s too late?

The characters of Aiden and Mo are great and Rollo even better. I love books that have dogs in them and of course connected to Rollo instantly. Their romance was sweet although Aiden needed a bit of a kick in the butt to let Mo know how he was feeling. The weaving of history within the story is one of the things I enjoy most about this series of Graham’s. I love getting to learn a bit while enjoying a good book. Graham’s ability to immerse the reader in the setting she creates is pretty awesome as well. Her vivid descriptions of everything just seem to lure the reader in more and more into the story she’s telling.

This is the perfect book for Halloween reading with it’s ghosts, graveyards, and haunted mausoleums. I listened to the audiobook which I think just adds to the creepiness a person feels. It’s narrated by Luke Daniels who I really enjoy listening to. He has the perfect voice for a book like this and really manages to bring the story alive in your mind to the point where you feel like you’re in the middle of a movie set. Just fantastic!

Highly recommended for those who enjoy paranormal mysteries with a touch of romance!

Color Song (A Passion Blue Novel)
Color Song (A Passion Blue Novel)
Price: $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, October 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Every so often I find books that I really love and Victoria Strauss’s newest Color Song is one of them. The first book Passion Blue I loved just as much. Color Song does stand on it’s own but you get a lot of background in Passion Blue that I think makes Color Song all the better. The books are classified as YA Historical Fiction and I do love YA books but I think these books are just perfect for the adult reader as well. I started Passion Blue a few days ago and was completely hooked so when I put it down I immediately dove into Color Song. What did I love so much about the book – the art, the color, the passion, the writing, the characters, and ultimately the beauty of the story itself.

Giulia has been living in the convent she was forced to enter and it is there that she is allowed to do the one thing she loves above all else and that is to paint. Giulia creates beautiful art but she also carries a gift that allows her to hear the singing of the colors she creates and uses. It’s important to note that in 15th century Italy it was unheard of for a woman to be allowed to be a painter so it is only behind the convent walls that Giulia’s dream can be realized. Maestra Humilita saw Giulia’s gift and despite some obstacles has always supported her. When Maestra Humilita lays dying she she gives her Passion Blue formula to the one person she knows will honor it the most – Giulia. However in doing so also puts Giulia at risk from others who are desperate to get their hands on the Passion Blue formula as well.

Giulia decides to do the only thing she can do and that’s to leave the convent. Giulia never wanted to be a nun and she refuses to be held prisoner and punished for refusing to hand over the Passion Blue formula. But how – how can Giulia survive out there in a man’s world? Well there is one way – by pretending to be a boy. Clothing herself in boy’s things Giulia escapes the convent on a mission to make her way to Venice. Could she maybe find work there as a painter’s apprentice? As Giulia she couldn’t but as Girolamo it’s a possibility. So starts the journey of a young woman who dared to want more in a time when women had no rights.

I absolutely loved Giulia. What a fantastic character. At eighteen she seemed years older in maturity and I loved her passion for art, color, and life and her willingness to risk everything to get it. The author’s writing is beautiful as she vividly describes 15th century Italy and all it’s trappings. I listened to the audiobook of Color Song which is narrated by Justine Eyre and she does a fabulous job. She has just the right tone of voice for the telling of Giulia’s story and the time just flew by listening to her. I’m really hoping for another look into Giulia’s life in the future!

Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction!

The Paradise Tree: A Novel
The Paradise Tree: A Novel
Price: $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Family Saga, October 22, 2014
I’m pleased to be kicking of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour of The Paradise Tree by Elena Maria Vidal because it is a wonderful story! The Paradise Tree, based on the author’s own ancestors, takes us back in time to when many Irish Catholics were immigrating to Canada in search of a better life. Weaving fact with fiction it is a saga full of hardships, faith, family, and love.

The novel opens in 1887 in Leeds County, Ontario and finds the O’Connor family mourning the loss of the family patriarch Daniel O’Connor. Although the story opens here as remembered by Daniel’s grandson Fergus the real story started many years before when Daniel immigrated to Canada to make a better life for himself. He does just that and even though it’s a struggle he eventually prospers and builds a good life for his family. It is in those years he meets his wife Brigit and they build a family but these years are not without struggles and hardships. The family deals with many illnesses, new love, marriages, and grandchildren. What always stayed constant was the faith and beliefs that held the O’Connor family together and it is these values that both Daniel and Brigit made sure to pass down to all of their children. Daniel was such a strong man with a wealth of determination and despite a rocky start with Brigit she proved herself to be the perfect wife for him. They were a family that valued their faith and education. They worked hard and continued to prosper and gained the respect of those around them. As we journey through the years of the O’Connor family the author brings alive the joys, triumphs, struggles, and sorrows in such a vivid way that often you feel as though you are experiencing them yourself.

I love stories that tell of the Irish immigrating to Canada because I get to look back into the history of my own country. The Paradise Tree is rich in historical detail and beautifully written and I enjoyed the trip back in time. I think it’s wonderful that the author has family papers, letters, etc. that enabled her to create this richly told story of how her ancestor’s lives may have unfolded. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and for those who love stories of people who have immigrated to new countries as much as I do!

A Breast Cancer Alphabet
A Breast Cancer Alphabet
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Comforting & Empowering to those suffering..., October 22, 2014
Not many of us can say that cancer hasn’t touched our lives in some way whether it be in our own life or in the lives of our loved ones. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I always like to try and spotlight a few books that deal with breast cancer and those dealing with it. A Breast Cancer Alphabet by Madhulika Sikka is a little book that packs a big punch and should be one of the first things you gift a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient. This book will give them some insight into what will happen to them in terms of the medical side of things and also the personal side as well. The best way I can describe this book is to say it is very real and straightforward. Madhulika talks about sex, drugs, your feelings on your hair and breasts for that matter – she addresses so many things that really matter when you’re diagnosed with this devastating disease. As a note I used my own photo because I think it shows just how pretty this little book is and as frivolous as it may sound I think it’s important to have pretty things when you’re not well along with your favorite pillows (the author speaks about that), blankets, and of course your furry pet if you have one.

Yet this book isn’t just for those diagnosed with breast cancer. It is important for an individual’s family and friends to read it as well so they can gain a much better understanding of what their loved one is dealing with. Breast cancer has touched my family many times unfortunately as many carry the breast cancer gene and I lost a best friend to breast cancer as well. So many things that Madhulika describes I can still clearly remember one of my aunts and my friend dealing with. I wish that they would have had this book to help them understand what was happening to them or to even justify some of the feelings they were having in what Madhulika calls ‘cancerland’. The book is quite literally an A-Z guide and Madhulika presents everything in a very clear, very personal, and very practical manner. She makes it ok for the cancer patient to feel as crappy as they do most days. She addresses things like the anxiety, fear, and guilt that comes with diagnoses. She talks about what to expect during and even after breast cancer. It really is an indispensable guide for those dealing with breast cancer. From firsthand experience of being the family member helping a loved one deal with their diagnosis I have to say that I wish we had this book to help deal with many of the issues that came up.

I love the personal and conversational tone of this book as well as how it looks. It even has pages in the back of it for those all important notes you need to make yourself or for your loved one because the wealth of information you are receiving is overwhelming. I was lucky to have both the beautiful hard cover edition of this book as well as being able to listen to the audiobook. The audiobook is wonderful. It is narrated by Madhulika herself and she has a beautiful and soothing voice which made it very easy to listen to. What I loved about the audio is that I felt more connected to Madhulika and what she went through as she is personally relating it to her listeners in her own words and emotions which is very powerful.

Whether it be the book or the audio I highly recommend this beautiful little book to anyone dealing with breast cancer and to their loved ones. It’s both comforting and empowering to understand what is happening to you and around you. To Madhulika I wish you all the best and a continued cancer free check up in the years to come! Highly recommended!

The Novice
The Novice
Price: $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written..., October 22, 2014
This review is from: The Novice (Kindle Edition)
The Novice by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer is a wonderful and beautifully written novel with a story to capture a reader’s heart. It certainly captured mine and even more surprising to me is that I’ve never read anything by this fellow Canadian of mine but that will be remedied. The Novice highlights the strength and determination of one woman to find her true love – that of the man who completes her.

In 10th century Naples novice Sara is struggling with whether or not she really wants to become a nun. In her heart she knows there is so much more out there in the world for her to discover. Her decision is made for her when the Saracens, who are destroying villages and killing many, attack her convent. Sara and the nuns are forced to flee and Sara to protect the nuns puts herself directly in the path of the Saracens. Sara is left to die out in the woods but is thankfully rescued by the intriguing Nicolo. The two have an instant connection but Nicolo respects Sara’s vows as a nun and despite being heartbroken he steals away in the night.

Sara is devastated and angry with herself that she wasn’t truthful with Nicolo. Luckily her uncle takes her in and she is happy with him until the dark and brooding Umberto takes a shine to her. Despite being brutally honest and telling Umberto that she will never be with him he refuses to give up and soon enough his desire to have her turns into a dangerous obsession. Sara is trapped with a man whose cruelty knows no bounds but Sara is smart and able and she will find some way to escape. To escape and find Nicolo; the only man who has ever or will ever have her heart.

Four hundred pages has never flown by so quickly as it did with this novel. I was completely drawn into this story and into Sara’s life. I felt as though I was living within the pages of this book with how vividly it was told. Then there is Sara who is such a great character. She is strong, brave, and independent and possesses a passionate fire that burns strongly within her for love and life.

For fans of historical fiction The Novice is a great pick! Highly recommended!

Prisoner of the Queen (Tales From the Tudor Court Book 2)
Prisoner of the Queen (Tales From the Tudor Court Book 2)
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read!, October 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Tudor history is by far my favorite era to indulge in and while there usually isn’t anything new to learn what I enjoy most is seeing the unique spin that an author will give to their story. Eliza Knight has become one of my favorite authors because she so vividly brings to life the Tudor era and I know I’m in for a great treat when I read one of her novels. Her newest in the Tales from the Tudor Court Series Prisoner of the Queen is both a beautiful love story and a great tragedy.

Lady Katherine Grey’s only wish is to have a peaceful life. Meet a man she loves and bring up a family. It is not to be though as she is a princess of the blood and legitimate heir to the throne being the cousin of Mary and Elizabeth. Her sister, Jane Grey dubbed the Nine Days Queen, fallen from court and beheaded only solidifies her desire to get away from court. She’s left with no one to protect her and she has no idea who to trust anymore as everyone is now suspicious of her as well – will she be next to seize the crown they wonder?

When Katherine and Ned Seymour meet they are instantly attracted to one another. They fall in love and of course want to marry and have a family. This has to be approved by Queen Elizabeth and the odds of that ever happening are pretty small. Eventually they wed in secret and when found out thrown in the tower. Katherine births two boys but sees neither grow up. Queen Elizabeth both envious and angry at Katherine vows to never allow her to be with Ned again and while the two keep up correspondence it is not the same. Sadly they must love from afar as both are kept prisoner by Queen Elizabeth.

This was such a good book. Katherine captured my heart. She had such a pure spirit and all she wanted from life was love and it’s so sad that it wasn’t to be for her. In a time when it seemed everyone visited everyone’s bed Katherine and Ned wanted only each other. I often wonder how kings and queens were able to be so cruel to others especially family all in the name of being loyal to their throne. I wonder how they truly felt in their soul from causing so much grief while putting people to death, keeping them prisoners, or keeping them apart from those they love.

I loved Prisoner of the Queen just as I did the first in the series My Lady Viper (these are stand alone books). Highly recommended for lovers of the Tudors and historical fiction!

Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady
Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $11.04

4.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing Read, October 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady by Sally O’Reilly not only has a gorgeous cover but it is also a beautifully written novel that vividly transports you back in time to 16th century England. The novel brings to life the story of England’s first female poet Aemilia Lanyer who may also have been muse and lover of William Shakespeare and that thread is woven throughout the novel. This tale is rich in historical detail with the added elements of sorcery making it ever the more intriguing.

Aemilia starts out as Aemilia Bassano and was the daughter of a musician. Growing up in the time of Queen Elizabeth’s court Aemilia has a yearning to learn and develops a love for poetry and in fact wants to write poetry in a time when it was unheard of for women to do any such thing. After losing her family Aemilia is taken in by Lord Hundson and later becomes his mistress. For years her life revolves around Lord Hundson but she wants so much more for herself and then comes the day that William Shakespeare walks into her life and she thinks that she’s finally found what shes looking for. They embark on a passionate love affair but when it becomes apparent to Lord Hundson that something has been going on behind his back he sends Aemilia off to be married to another man thus ending all the hopes and dreams that she’s built around Shakespeare and her poetry. Aemilia finds herself married to a man she doesn’t love and this leaves her unhappy and unsatisfied. Nobody wants to publish the poetry she works so hard on and her only joy in life is her son. Into the turmoil of the plague and sickness of loved ones Aemilia turns to sorcery and the witches and encounters a darkness that she should never have fooled with.

I really enjoyed this novel and while I’ve read mixed reviews on Aemilia and her outspoken, often crass manner of speaking I liked her. Aemilia lived in a time when women had no rights and certainly no hopes of becoming more than a wife, mother, or mistress. Yet Aemilia strived for more and with her intelligence and feisty nature got it. There is a bluntness in language and sexual content that many readers may find too much and while at times I did too I still appreciated its place in the novel. To fully enjoy and experience this book the reader needs to open their mind to all aspects of it and in doing that I truly enjoyed it.

Recommended for readers of historical fiction who enjoy added elements of a more explicit nature and the paranormal.

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