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Darlene @ Peeking Between the Pages "from Peeking Between the Pages" RSS Feed (Canada)

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Searching for Grace Kelly
Searching for Grace Kelly
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, March 3, 2015
Searching for Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan takes us to New York City in the 1950’s and vividly brings alive the sights, sounds, and happenings of the era. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Kristin Kalbli and she does a wonderful job. I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to her before but I thought she perfectly evoked all of the emotion of the characters and liveliness of New York. Searching for Grace Kelly is a story about friendship and of discovering oneself. It is funny, sad, and hopeful. I truly enjoyed every minute I spent listening to this book.
Laura Dixon is a small town debutante who attends Smith. Coming to New York to work at Mademoiselle for the summer has been her dream since she was a young girl. Upon arriving at New York’s Barbizon Hotel (where the famous Grace Kelly once lived) she meets Dolly, from a working class family, in New York to go to secretarial school and the British Vivian who cares not a whit for rules or regulations and lives life on her own terms. Although different in personalities and upbringing the girls forge a friendship that will carry them through the summer and have an everlasting effect on their lives afterwards.

Laura has big dreams for her future and they don’t include marrying well as her mother wishes. She wants to be a writer and New York is the perfect place to see that happen. Her only detour is the love triangle she finds herself in. Dolly’s only dream is to be loved and find the perfect man who fills that desire but she seems to have the worst luck in doing so. When she finally meets a man he turns out to be very mysterious and secretive. Vivian works as a cigarette girl at one of New York’s popular clubs and dreams of being a singer but being a troublemaker herself she finds herself dating one too. These men will change the lives of these girls forever.

I liked all of the girls but I think Laura was my favorite. She had a set of standards and morals she set for herself and she stuck to them no matter who was wooing her. Dolly irritated me at times but that’s probably because she felt her life depended on finding a husband and that’s not something I feel is true although in the era of this novel it was. Vivian I liked because she was such a rebel. I think any woman can relate to these girls as they grow and learn more about the world around them and themselves.

For fans of historical fiction and the fifties, Searching for Grace Kelly is the perfect pick! Highly recommended – especially in audio. It’s a wonderful audio production and the narrator Kristin Kalbli really brought New York and the lives of these girls to life for me. Loved it!

The Illegal Gardener (The Greek Village Book 1)
The Illegal Gardener (The Greek Village Book 1)
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Love and Friendship, March 3, 2015
The Illegal Gardener by Sara Alexi is a story about love and friendship and of opening your heart in ways you may not have thought possible. It is the first in The Greek Village series and the books focus on someone different in each book so it would be easy enough to read them in any order but I’ve already got the second one in my clutches and ready to go. LOL. I listened to the audiobook of The Illegal Gardener which is narrated by Suzanne Heathcote and she does an amazing job with this story. She made me feel as though I was right there in that small Greek village experiencing all the sights, sounds, and food. I just loved it in audio!

Juliet is at a crossroads in her life. Depressed after a divorce she decides on impulse to sell her home in England and move herself into a dilapidated farmhouse in a small Greek village leaving everything else behind. Her sons think her a bit crazy but she’s ok with that. She is able to live in the house and slowly work on restoring it but she finds the outside work, particularly the garden, too much for her to handle on her own. Yet she wants to restore the garden to the former beauty she knows is lurking underneath all the stuff that has just been thrown out there over the years. Despite not being entirely comfortable with hiring casual laborers she sets out to do just that and meets Aaman. Aaman is in Greece illegally having come from Pakistan. He has come to find work and earn enough money to take home to his wife and other villagers so that they can buy the harvester that they desperately need. This harvester will hopefully enable them to escape the clutches of poverty they are in. He is happy for the work that Juliet offers him.

While this may seem straight forward it is anything but that. At first Juliet is uncomfortable having Aaman there and she really doesn’t know how to act around him. Certain things she does out of politeness don’t seem to be received all that well. For Aaman he feels out of his depth. He isn’t used to this country or its ways and many of the things that Juliet does only serve to make him feel more useless. As summer unfolds and the two spend more time with each other they begin to slowly learn and understand more about how the other feels. They discover they have more in common than they ever thought. More importantly they learn that friendship, even between two people who are very different both in culture and background, can blossom and flourish.

I loved this book and the audiobook is truly wonderful. If you are an audiobook listener be sure to add this one to your list and be taken away to a tiny Greek village and into the lives of two very wonderful characters. Highly recommended!

Miramont's Ghost
Miramont's Ghost
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting..., March 3, 2015
This review is from: Miramont's Ghost (Kindle Edition)
Miramont’s Ghost by Elizabeth Hall was inspired by research into the actual Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado. This is a haunting story that will send shivers up your spine. I listened to the audio version and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was my first time listening to narrator Emily Durante but it won’t be my last. She brought the chilling atmosphere of this story to life perfectly.

As a young girl Adrienne lives with her family in the countryside of France. Adrienne isn’t your typical child though as she is a clairvoyant – a clairvoyant with the ability to see the secrets of those around her. Needless to say that in the 1800’s this was frowned upon and Adrienne was quieted more than once when she thought to speak aloud what she was seeing. Only one person understood Adrienne and that was her grandfather but even he told her that it was best to keep it to herself just before he passed otherwise she could put herself in a lot of danger.

As time passes Adrienne still has her visions but the only person she shares them with is her governess Lucie. Lucie decides to keep track of Adrienne’s visions in a journal that she keeps well hidden… but not well enough. Adrienne’s Aunt Marie finds the journal that is of course full of dark secrets about Adrienne’s own family. Secrets that could threaten to destroy Marie and her son Julien and she isn’t about to let that happen. Marie manages to convince Adrienne’s mother that it would be best for the girl to accompany her to America to live with her and her son Julien, a priest, in his big castle in Manitou Springs. While Adrienne thinks she’s going to America to start a new life her Aunt Marie has much different intentions… evil intentions.

The hours I spent listening to this novel flew by for me. I’m not sure how it translates into print but the audio really brought the time and place alive for me. The writing is beautiful and descriptive and with Emily Durante’s narration it was perfect for me. I also love Gothic novels and a good ghost story will always top my list. As a note to some of my readers there is some disturbing content that some may find offensive.

Recommended for those who enjoy those haunting, chilling ghost stories that stay with you even after you turn that last page.

Five Days Left
Five Days Left
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Heart breaking and beautiful!, March 3, 2015
This review is from: Five Days Left (Kindle Edition)
Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer is a story that is beautiful, tragic, and hopeful. I hardly know how to put into words the effect that this book had on me but I know that it will linger in my memory for years to come. It is one of those books that makes you reflect on your own life; on how you live and on who and what is most important to you. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Kirby Heyborne, both of who I’ve listened to before. They are both incredible narrators and they portrayed the emotional complexity of this novel perfectly. I can’t remember the last time I felt this strongly about a book and I’ll be honest with you – parts of it are really heart wrenching but there is also such a strong thread of new beginnings, love, and family. This book tops my list of favorites for this year and truthfully I don’t see any others surpassing it for me.

Five Days Left chronicles the lives of two families and the events that shape only five days. Both are battling circumstances beyond their control and the only link between the two is an online support forum that two of them participate in and have become friendly because of. This may seem disjointed but it isn’t. The author weaves these two story lines together seamlessly and they very much compliment each other. On one hand we have Mara Nichols who is in her early forties with a very successful career as a lawyer … until the day she receives the most devastating news of her life. She has been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease and she knows that her life as a wife, mother, and career woman will eventually come to a grinding halt. On the other hand we have Scott Coffman, a teacher, who along with his wife have been fostering eight year old Curtis as his mother is in jail. Scott and his wife are expecting their own child soon but still Scott struggles with the knowledge that one day when the boy’s mother gets out of jail he will be forced to give up this boy he loves so much.

The characters inhabiting this novel are some of the most memorable I’ve met in a book. Mara is understandably angry. Her plan for her life is gone. There is no cure for Huntington’s Disease and she will only get worse. She begins to exhibit symptoms that humiliate her and her young daughter making things even more difficult for her. My heart hurt for this woman and I could literally feel her anger and pain at the hopelessness of her situation. Scott is a wonderful character. He is a kind, caring man always looking to help young people where he can and he’s fallen hard for Curtis. He loves being a dad to this little boy and it shines through in every page. I’m not going to spoil this book for anyone who might read or listen to it so I’m not going to say where the five days left scenario fits in but it does for both families. I think this is one of those books that would make a perfect pick for a book club. I would have loved to have someone to discuss it with as I was reading. I’m sure there would be no shortage of discussion topics with one of the most important being what would you do with your life if diagnosed with a terminal illness. It certainly made me think.

Heart breaking, hopeful, and beautifully written, Five Days Left is a novel that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Highly, highly recommended!

The Girls of Mischief Bay
The Girls of Mischief Bay
Price: $6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I laughed, cried, and loved this book!, March 3, 2015
The Girls of Mischief Bay is the first in the Mischief Bay series by Susan Mallery and what an awesome beginning! I can hardly wait for the next book to come out. I really loved this book and the premise of the strong bonds of female friendships despite differences in age or lifestyle. The Girls of Mischief Bay is about women and the everyday good and bad things in our lives that can either elate us or devastate us. I laughed, I cried, I loved.

The setting of Mischief Bay is lovely and more than once I wished I was a resident there. The three women the novel focuses on – Nicole, Pam, and Shannon – are all women that a reader can find themselves relating to in one way or another and I liked them all even though I didn’t always agree with some of their decisions. What I liked most and envied was the wonderful and supportive friendship the three shared.

Nicole is in her thirties and married with a young son. She owns a dance/exercise studio called Mischief in Motion and that is where the women originally met. Out of the blue her husband decides to quit his job and write a screenplay. This entails no longer supporting his family, caring for his son, or doing much around the house. Nicole is left trying to juggle working full time with caring for her son and home. She doesn’t think it can get much worse… but she might be wrong.

Shannon is almost forty and made the decision long ago to focus on her career instead of a personal life but now she’s wondering if she made the right decision. She questions it even further when she finally meets a man she feels is the answer to all she’s ever wanted. Can it really all be so right and perfect? Not likely…

Then we have Pam who is fifty and at the point in her life where her children are all gone and she’s wondering what to do with herself. She loves her husband of thirty years and their life together but she wants more for them. They need to spice up their life and one of the routes she takes to do this left me laughing. But… there is always a but.

I know I’ve said it already but I loved this book – every page. I was so drawn into the lives of these women that I literally felt the joy and pain that each of them felt. The Girls of Mischief Bay will take you on an emotional journey with three women who you won’t soon forget. Highly recommended!

Little Black Lies
Little Black Lies
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, March 3, 2015
This review is from: Little Black Lies (Kindle Edition)
Little Black Lies is the debut novel of Sandra Block, It is a psychological and suspenseful tale that held my interest from the beginning to the end and I enjoyed every minute. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Kara Bartell who I have not listened to previously but would love to again. I thought she did such an amazing job with the different characters and scenes throughout the novel. As I listened to her I could picture this book as a movie in my head and that’s exactly what I look for from a narrator – bringing the story alive in my mind and making me feel as though I’m right there.

Zoe Goldman is a resident doctor on a psychiatric ward. Having mental issues of her own she made the decision to spend her life helping those who suffer. While Zoe listens to her patients and their stories we learn that she has some pretty major issues of her own that become apparent when she begins suffering from some wicked nightmares again. She dreams of a fire that rages out of control and her fear and then the loss of her mother because of this fire. She questions her adoptive mother but she’s suffering from dementia and isn’t always much help and upsets easily. Yet there are a few times where she will make comments that mystify Zoe and make her even more determined to find out the truth that seems to be lingering in the far reaches of her mind.

Things become even more complicated for Zoe as she’s assigned a patient named Sofia. Sofia has been in mental wards most of her life having been accused of killing her mother. As she talks with Sofia and tries to understand what this woman did she becomes even more obsessed with finding out the truth about her own birth mother and unlocking the meaning behind her nightmares and her own mental issues. As she delves deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding her childhood she realizes that the one person who can help her – her adoptive mother – is slipping away more each day.

Little Black Lies was a great listening experience for me. I enjoyed Zoe as a character although a few times I would have liked to smack her but that’s besides the point. It’s nice to see a character with a mental illness being successful in a career. The ending is great with a twist that may surprise some readers. Highly recommended for those who enjoy psychological, suspense filled books!

Doll God
Doll God
by Luanne Castle
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Haunting, March 3, 2015
This review is from: Doll God (Paperback)
Doll God by Luanne Castle is a collection of poetry that is haunting and sometimes dark and yet hopeful speaking to your heart and soul. I’m no expert on poetry as most who read my blog know but I’m opening my heart to it and learning to experience it if that makes sense and hopefully others like me will do the same. I’m thoroughly enjoying delving more and more into the beautiful world of poetry.

This collection takes us on a journey through many emotions and stages like loss, sickness, marriage, divorce, and motherhood. The poems are very vivid and bring to life an image very clearly in your mind. Most of the poems deal with dolls whether they be beautiful or in decay and take us through some point in time bringing forth in us emotions that reflect our innermost thoughts that are never spoken aloud.

Like the author I love dolls. I used to collect porcelain ones and I had my walking doll that I idolized when I was younger. As I read through these poems I kept reflecting and imagining the lives of my old dolls and I think that’s what I liked so much about this collection. As a child your dolls always have these lives – sometimes better than yours, sometimes worse – but through our imagination we could go anywhere with them.

The poetry of Doll God speaks to the heart whether it be through dolls or the human condition. It makes you feel emotion whether good or bad and I think that’s what poetry is about. I think it’s important as well that a poem speaks to everyone differently. While I may not always get the meaning the author was trying to convey I do feel the emotions that are portrayed that lead me to either like a piece or not like it. For me, Luanne Castle’s collection spoke to me emotionally and that’s what this newbie looks for when reading poetry!

To end I’d like to share a favorite poem with all of you…

Calculating Loss

Birds have the number sense
to know when an egg in a nest
of five goes missing.
If you have four chairs in the kitchen you don’t have to count
to know
one has been taken away,
to realize one car
cools in the double garage.

Every day the world subtracts from itself and nothing is immune.
Not these pebbles from our walks along the lakeshore: pebbles you collected

in this jar which
remains half full,
though for some reason I think of it as overflowing.

(from Doll God by Luanne Castle)

The Secret of Pembrooke Park
The Secret of Pembrooke Park
Price: $9.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, March 3, 2015
As part of the blog tour for Julie Klassen’s newest novel The Secret of Pembrooke Park I had the privilege of reading (listening) to this wonderful book! All I can say is why in the world haven’t I read any of Julie’s books before and believe me I will be fixing that! I was captivated by this book from start to finish and listening to it in audio, narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki who is amazing, really just brought the time, place, characters, and story alive in my mind in such a pleasing way. The Secret of Pembrooke Park is an intriguing mystery that is sure to appeal to Regency Romance fans.

Abigail Foster, practical and intelligent, stands in the shadow of her younger and much more attractive younger sister. Things get even worse when she unfortunately gives her father some bad financial advice and they lose almost all of their money. Luckily, out of the blue, a solicitor shows up offering them residence at Pembrooke Park. For Abigail this seems to be the perfect solution to their problems at present. Upon arriving they find Pembrooke Park in a strange state. It seems as though the people who had inhabited it had just picked up and left leaving used tea cups on the table, linens and clothes dusty and moth eaten in the closets, and even more strange a doll house that seemed as though it had been deserted in mid play. It’s all very strange to Abigail and as the days go by things become even weirder and Abigail realizes that Pembrooke Park has many dark secrets in its past along with a secret room and treasure. Abigail is determined to uncover the story behind all these strange goings on but she finds out quickly that doing so may put her in a lot of danger.

This was such a great listening experience for me! When you have such a fantastic story and top it with a great narrator it’s just magic to a reader. For me this was great – manor houses, old secrets, hidden treasure – I love it! The characters come alive on the page with Abigail being one of my favorites. I felt a connection to her from the beginning when she finds herself not only responsible for her family’s ruin but also the sister who lives in the shadow of her more beautiful sibling. Abigail is beautiful – in form and in mind – and that’s what makes her so attractive although she doesn’t herself realize that. As a few suitors show interest in Abigail we see how insecure she becomes in her sister’s presence … so insecure that she may miss the truest love of her life.

For fans of Austenesque or Regency Romance novels and great mysteries The Secret of Pembrooke Park is one not to miss. I really can’t put into words just how much I loved it but I can say that eighteen hours of listening to this book passed by in a flash. It’s a fantastic book – highly recommended!

Girl Before a Mirror: A Novel
Girl Before a Mirror: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $9.91

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read, March 3, 2015
In the latest from author Liza Palmer entitled Girl Before a Mirror we meet Anna Wyatt who has just turned forty and has come to a point in her life where she needs to figure out what she truly wants for herself. Anna, like so many of us, has spent her life trying to be what everyone else expects her to be. But what does she want? Who does she want to be? What makes her happy? So begins her journey to find out…

Anna, recently divorced, has been on a dating sabbatical but ultimately she wants to find love again. She just isn’t sure it’s out there anymore. Working as an ad executive Anna decides it’s time, for once in her life, to take a real risk. She pitches an ad campaign and receives the go ahead. In her efforts to secure the client Anna begins to learn a lot about herself. For instance she never really had friends in the true sense of the word and when she first meets her new colleague Sasha she’s really leery about this beautiful and intelligent woman but she eventually opens up and the two develop a wonderful friendship. At the romance fan convention Anna meets Helen, author of a self-help book called Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero and this book and author not only have an impact on her career but her life as well. Anna is even pretty sure she finds love at the convention but feels her career has to take priority. Is it a mistake to leave Lincoln behind for now? If it’s true love though it’ll still be there when she gets her campaign off the ground… won’t it?

I enjoyed this book and I think it’s a book a lot of women who are up there in age will be able to relate to. I related to Anna on many levels – one being age and the other advertising. I worked in advertising for years so I enjoyed all the advertising talk. The other characters were great as well. I really liked the young Sasha who is struggling to succeed but hampered by her beauty. Lincoln, Anna’s love interest, was swoon worthy in my opinion. Most of all though I think this novel imparts a very important message to women – you are never too old to strive for what you want whether it be in business or love. The ‘to just be’ message is great. Just be who you are. Strive for what makes you happy and you will be happier in life.

Girl Before a Mirror was an enjoyable read for me and I have to mention how much I love the cover – it’s so pretty. I’d recommend it for those who enjoy women’s fiction and it’s sure to appeal to the older woman who may still be striving for whatever is out there for her.

The Matchmaker: A Novel
The Matchmaker: A Novel
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read, March 3, 2015
Well I’ve read several of Elin Hilderbrand’s books and a few have brought tears to my eyes and the The Matchmaker is one to be added to that list. I really enjoy her books for the deep connection I feel to her characters, the homey and comfortable feel to her stories, and of course the setting of Nantucket. I listened to this one on audio which is narrated by Erin Bennett and she does a wonderful job of portraying life in Nantucket and even more the emotional side to this story. I really enjoyed listening to her narration and would love listening to her again in the future.

Dabney is what I would call the social butterfly of Nantucket. She is the center of all that goes on and not only that she is also the town matchmaker and she is good at it. Dabney sees a rosy glow if people belong together and that is exactly why she is so troubled with her daughter Agnes and her fiancé C.J. and the green cloud that hangs over them. While she is married now to Box, her one true love Clendenin who she dated in high school and is the father of Agnes is what she considers her one failure. They deeply loved each other but Clendenin had career opportunities in far away places and Dabney refused to travel. While Dabney moved on her heart forever belonged with Clendenin.

When, after 27 years, Clendenin arrives back in Nantucket Dabney is both confused and exhilarated. While she loves Box he has never made her feel as alive as she does when she is with Clendenin. He is her match, her destiny, and one true love and he feels the same. He wants to be with Dabney and get to know Agnes but is Dabney ready for what all of that will mean to her family. She knows in her heart that it is Clendenin she wants and when tragedy strikes to close to home she realizes that she wants the rest of her life to include Clendenin and that is what she’s going to have. She’s also going to make sure that everyone else she loves, especially Agnes, is left with a man she truly belongs with.

I really enjoyed this book. While I didn’t always agree with the choices Dabney was making I still really loved her as a character. The Matchmaker is at times a very sad story but also a hopeful one – hope in love, that one true love that takes your breath away and makes you whole. Highly recommend for those who enjoy women’s fiction!

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