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

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When the Cypress Whispers
When the Cypress Whispers
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $9.78

4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book..., April 14, 2014
When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon is simply a beautiful story. Everything from the gorgeous cover to the setting of Greece make this story all the more enticing. It is a story of family, friendship, romance, and the importance of the beliefs and faith that we hold dear.

Daphne, the daughter of Greek immigrants, feels she has finally gotten to a point in her life where she is happy. She never thought she’d get back on her feet after losing her husband but she has and she’s making a life for herself and her daughter Evie. She’s a successful New York chef who is about to marry again. The one thing she is adamant about in marrying Stephen is that she wants to get married on the magical island in Greece that gave her such joy as a child. Even more important is that her grandmother is there and Daphne wants to see her again and even more have Evie meet her.

Daphne’s grandmother has always been such a big part of her life. She spent her summers with her Yia-yia and while they cooked her grandmother would tell Daphne story after story. The thing about Daphne’s grandmother is that she can see things that others can’t. When Daphne arrives on the island to spend time with her grandmother before the marriage takes place she is surprised by many of the stories and warnings she gets from her. Daphne is torn … should she marry, should she stay on the island, and most of all is she looking for what’s important in all the wrong places.

This novel has some important lessons for all of us on family, friendship, and love. Sometimes we get so busy with our lives that we don’t stop to see what is truly important. When the Cypress Whispers is full of fantastic characters who are warm and caring and you find yourself missing them when you turn that last page. The descriptions of food are literally mouth watering and the tales of the myths and island legends captivating. I truly enjoyed this novel and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to all who enjoy women’s fiction!

Her Loving Husband's Curse (The Loving Husband Trilogy Book 2)
Her Loving Husband's Curse (The Loving Husband Trilogy Book 2)
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Love Meredith's books!, April 14, 2014
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Her Loving Husband’s Curse by Meredith Allard is the second in the The Loving Husband Trilogy. I really enjoyed the first in the series Her Dear and Loving Husband so I was anxious to read this one as well to see what would happen next. Once again I listened to the audio version which is narrated by Laura Jennings. I really enjoy listening to her. She has a soft tone to her voice and is very good at using different inflections for different characters. She really makes the story come alive and that really added to my enjoyment of the book.

I really want to be very general about this book because saying too much can give away parts of the story that you get from the first book and then the second and that would just ruin it for anyone wanting to experience it for themselves. In this installment we find James and Sarah happily married but Sarah is now haunted by memories of a child she once carried in a past life and this leaves her wanting a child for her and James. Being a vampire James can’t father a child so they turn to adoption and find the perfect baby in Grace.

All seems to be coming together for them until Kenneth Hempel, the reporter, starts again with his vicious rumors of vampires living and working among the innocent citizens of Salem. It isn’t long before things are out of control and James and Sarah must decide what to do to keep Grace and themselves safe.

This sequel expertly weaves actual events in history such as the Salem Witch Trials and the Trail of Tears into Sarah and Jame’s stories. I found this part of the story very interesting as I hadn’t even known of the Trail of Tears before. I love how Meredith takes the reader back in time and enlightens us to a time in history while giving us a modern and page-turning story. That’s one of the reasons I love this series so much.

Meredith truly has a talent with words and I would be remiss in not saying how beautifully written this book is. This is not just another vampire novel! This book is so much more with the emotional elements of Sarah and Jame’s lives together and now with baby Grace all woven together with their past lives. I do suggest starting with the first book Her Dear and Loving Husband otherwise you may find yourself a bit lost plus it would be a shame to lose out on any part of this great series. Highly recommended!

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte
by Ruth Hull Chatlien
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.91
27 used & new from $8.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Great read for historical fiction fans!, April 9, 2014
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is the debut novel of Ruth Hull Chatlien and is based on the true story of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte who was known as Betsy Bonaparte. While most of us have heard of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte numerous times Betsy is the much less known American wife of Napoleon’s younger brother Jerome. Weaving fact with fiction Ruth Hull Chatlien brings this woman alive for us in a novel sure to please historical fiction fans.

Betsy Patterson longs for more out of life than she has so far experienced. She doesn’t want to follow the rules set out for women of her time and end up married to some merchant having countless babies. Most of all she does not want to live in Baltimore where she is bored silly with all the tedious things that make up her life. It has always been her dream to marry a man from Europe and live there.

When she meets Jerome Bonaparte she is quite sure her dream has come true especially when he asks for her hand in marriage. However his brother Napoleon is adamantly opposed to the marriage but the couple marries anyhow hoping for approval from Jerome’s mother instead. So begins the tumultuous journey from marriage to bearing a son and the great battle to have that son recognized as a Bonaparte.

This novel is one of those that reminds me of why I enjoy historical fiction. It is very well written and while rich in historical detail, the story behind it is captivating as well. The novel breezed by for me and at almost five hundred pages that alone says a lot. It was very interesting to learn about Betsy and I admired her for her determination to be more than what was expected of women at that time in history. I liked Betsy as a character and could feel her pain at the rejection she felt from her father on a regular basis and then having her heart broken. While she frustrated me at times with her headstrong determination in some cases she was still one of those characters who you find yourself rooting for.

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte captures this time in history perfectly. Well written, exciting, and educational – it doesn’t get any better than that! A must read for historical fiction fans!

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $3.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Still one of my favorite books..., April 9, 2014
How many of you remember the book Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume? I probably read this book three or more times as a pre-teen girl and to this day the story had stuck in my mind. As I was browsing the library for children’s titles for this week I came across it and I couldn’t resist listening to the audio. It is still just as good today as it was then and I am very much out of the age range for this one. LOL. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is still relevant for a young girl growing up and struggling with puberty and just where she fits in the world. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Laura Hamilton and she does a wonderful job and the way she portrayed Margaret brought her alive in this book!

Twelve-year-old Margaret has just moved to a new neighborhood in Farbrook, New Jersey and she’s not too happy about it. She’s had to leave her friends behind and most importantly her grandmother. Margaret is sure that is why they moved as her parents didn’t approve of how Margaret’s grandmother spoiled her with private schools and many more things. Now Margaret will be attending a regular public school and she’s worried. Will she fit in? Will she be able to make friends? Lucky for her Nancy, who lives nearby comes over and befriends her. They are the same age and in the same class at school. Soon enough Margaret finds herself in a private girl’s group with Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie.

The girls decide the first order of business is to get them all in bras which leaves Margaret mortified as she’s going to have to ask her mother to take her shopping for one. Margaret is pretty gutsy though and goes home and just blurts it out and ends up in a training bra soon enough. The biggest thing though is they are all so anxious to get their periods. Margaret especially felt this would be the gateway to making her more grown up. I found it so funny because it isn’t long before us women are wishing we didn’t have them anymore. Another one that cracked me up was the ‘We must, we must, increase our bust’. LOL. I do remember doing that when I was a teen. Then there was the more serious side of things with Margaret’s confusion over religion. Her parents aren’t any religion, her grandmother is Jewish, and Margaret is caught in the middle. Her parents told her when she was old enough she could choose what she wanted and there again the book highlights how hard it can be growing up and having to figure things out for yourself.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was a trip down memory lane for me but for a pre-teen girl I think it would be a valuable resource. Margaret is a normal, everyday teen girl making her very easy for a teen to connect with. She realistically tells of her feelings, concerns, and fears and they are many that all girls go through. I can still remember when I read it and it made me feel as though I was normal. All the feelings I had were just the same as other girls had and that had made me feel better. An excellent choice for a pre-teen girl!

The Collector of Dying Breaths: A Novel of Suspense
The Collector of Dying Breaths: A Novel of Suspense
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $11.04

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Amazing Story from M.J. Rose, April 9, 2014
Having just finished reading M.J. Rose’s newest novel The Collector of Dying Breaths I can once again attest to just how beautiful and amazing her novels can be! This time she takes us from the court of Catherine de Medici to modern day on a journey that will hold the reader spellbound. For me reading a novel by M.J. Rose is like slipping into a whole other world; one that I find myself completely immersed in until I reach that final page. With perfection M.J. Rose weaves historical fiction, suspense, adventure, passion, and obsession in a novel that is sure to please readers old and new! And I can’t help but mention that this cover rocks – it is as gorgeous as the novel is!

The Collector of Dying Breaths is the latest installment in the Reincarnationist series but can easily be read on its own as there is enough background given for the reader not to be lost in the story. I’ve enjoyed the books featuring Jac L’Etoile and I loved getting back to her story in this one. While Jac is a mythologist she also has the rare talent of not only being able to see her own past lives but those of others as well. For reasons I won’t give away Jac finds herself trying to replicate an elixir that is made from the dying breaths of an individual. In turn this elixir could be used to enable this individual to live another life. It is all very fascinating! The research takes her on a journey back in time that could prove dangerous to those she loves and even Jac herself.

Going back in time to the 1500′s and Catherine de Medici’s court we are introduced to Rene de Florentine who is saved from poverty by Catherine de Medici to become her personal perfumer among other more distasteful things. It is he that believes the dying breaths of a person can be captured and released again in someone else. It is there that Jac must travel back in time in order to learn more about this elixir and how to recreate it. In this she finds help from her old lover Griffin but it isn't long before the two find themselves embroiled in more and more danger. Will Jac find the answers she’s looking for? Will she ever find the life she desires most?

One of the most interesting things about this book as well as the one before it is the focus on scent and perfume making. I have always had a passion for perfume and the way different scents smell on different people. I really enjoyed reading about the mixing of scents to come up with a unique perfume. For me a scent can evoke a special memory or make me feel beautiful. For Jac a scent can take her back to a different time and place entirely. I have to admit it would be kind of cool to see into people’s past lives especially in a historical sense.

M.J. Rose has crafted another tale that takes you into the world of reincarnation and past lives. Don’t mistake this novel for a novel of magic because it isn’t although there is a kind of magical quality in thinking we’ve lived past lives. The novel itself is presented in such a way that makes the idea of past lives very believable and if you are someone like me you believe in that kind of thing anyway. M.J.’s writing is beautiful, the story fantastic, and I highly recommend it!

Trinity Stones: The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles
Trinity Stones: The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles
by LG O'Connor
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.08
24 used & new from $2.71

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great start to the series!, April 5, 2014
Trinity Stones: The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles by L.G. O’Connor is a blend of fantasy, science, love, the battle between good and evil, and one fantastic read! I got caught up in this book from the beginning chapters and read it within a day and a bit. This novel is full of angels, demons, free will, and destiny and it’s sure to please readers who appreciate a fast paced and exciting storyline. I do have to say though that I don’t think the cover does the book justice. This book is much deeper than the cover leads one to believe.

Cara Collins is turning twenty-seven and expecting a very quiet birthday with her best friend Sienna but that isn’t what she gets. Instead she receives a letter from her grandmother who has already passed on telling her that she has a destiny far from what she ever could have imagined. Cara follows her grandmother’s instructions and learns that she is actually a part of a holy trinity comprised of angels and humans whose goal is to fight evil. Really! She can’t believe it. She’s just a normal woman … isn’t she? No, it turns out she is a soul seeker. Things start to change quickly from this point and she meets Michael who is a part of her Trinity as Messenger and they quickly bond. Then there is her guardian Chamuel who she is forbidden by law to love and yet neither can deny the powerful connection that they share. As things heat up Cara is horrified to learn that not only her life is in danger but so are the lives of her friends and when her old love Kai is taken by the Dark Ones Cara knows she has to fight to save him and his daughter. Will her Trinity survive? Will Kai and his daughter be safe and why is Kai even involved in all of this to begin with? Can good conquer evil?

L.G. O’Connor builds a great fantasy world. The beginning of the novel can be a bit confusing as the reader is introduced to a lot of different terms and names but as you continue to read it all becomes much clearer. I liked Cara though from the beginning because of her love for her dog and for putting her slimy boss in his place before she walked out the door. As the story progressed though I liked her even more for her willingness to give up everything for the safety of her friends and for love. While Cara was my favorite character I also liked her friend Sienna who was quite funny at times. Of course one can’t fail to mention the very hot men inhabiting the pages of this book and I certainly wouldn’t mind one of them walking into my fantasy. LOL. Ultimately the story is about the battle of good and evil and love conquering all.

Trinity Stones is the first in the series with The Wanderer’s Children coming in the Fall of 2014 and I’m really excited to read it and see what’s next for Cara, Simon, and the rest of the crew! As a note there is language and sexual content in this novel that I know some of my readers are uncomfortable with – not a lot but some. As for me I thoroughly enjoyed Trinity Stones and anxiously await the next book!

The Eagle and the Swan
The Eagle and the Swan
Price: $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Journey back in time..., April 5, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Eagle and the Swan by Carol Strickland takes us on a journey back to a time long forgotten. It is the tale of Theodora who rose from being a bear keeper’s daughter in the circus to Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Carol Strickland weaves fact and fiction as she tells of court intrigue, betrayals, and the ultimate power struggles.

Theodora didn’t come from riches but from a poor family and when her father dies she is forced into prostitution. Eventually she gives up that life knowing that she wants more for herself and her daughter – she knows that her prince charming is out there somewhere. Then she meets Justinian who becomes Emperor and knows this is the man. He wants and knows of her past but that isn’t Theodora’s life anymore and she refuses him unless he agrees to court her out in public. Theodora’s rise to Empress isn’t an easy one. She has to live as Justinian’s mistress until he is crowned Emperor. She now has all the wealth and jewels she could ever want but Justinian works obsessively and in some ways she still feels as lonely as she did when she had nothing. When the Empire falls will Justinian finally listen to Theodora?

Theodora was a woman before her time and used her power in any way she could. She believed that women should have a voice in the way things were done. Not only was she a leader but she was caring and generous with her wealth. She wanted to help the people who really needed it like the hungry and the prostitutes. So many of these were young girls just as she had been that had been forced into that life. Everybody has a story and Theodora was interested in hearing that story before passing judgment. Needless to say Justinian doesn’t at first heed Theodora’s warnings and because of that the Empire suffers.

I knew nothing about Theodora or the Byzantine Empire before picking up this novel which was one of the main reasons I wanted to read it. The novel is rich in historical detail and vividly brings to life this period in history. I came away from reading The Eagle and the Swan feeling as though I learned something and that to me is what makes historical fiction so great! For those who enjoy historical fiction and reading about a little known time in history The Eagle and the Swan is a great pick!

The Villa Dog
The Villa Dog
Price: $1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful!, April 5, 2014
This review is from: The Villa Dog (Kindle Edition)
The Villa Dog by Ruth Zavitsanos is a children’s book that was simply delightful! Of course I’m such a dog lover as most of you know so having a dog as a main character just made me smile. I was lucky to listen to the audiobook which is narrated by Greg Salinas. It’s very short at just under an hour but I enjoyed the story so much that I listened to it twice! The Villa Dog is a heartwarming and feel good story that is perfect to share with your kids or even on your own!

From the very beginning of The Villa Dog I felt transported to the olive groves of Tuscany and into the life of a very special dog. Sole is the villa dog and he loves to meet and greet the families that come to vacation there. He always makes sure it’s a family that loves dogs and then he spends his time with them making sure the kids are safe and of course getting treats and hugs. It is a dog’s life after all. Even more than that though is that Sole likes to make people happy. When Issy arrives he senses right off that she is sad and he makes it his mission to find out why and to make her happy instead.

This short little book really highlights the loving and healing nature of dogs. Just petting a dog can make a person feel better and Sole personifies that. Stay tuned because Ruth has two more books about dogs and I’m going to review them over the next few weekends. The Villa Dog made me smile and while I enjoyed it immensely I can’t help but think how much more fun I would have had sharing it with a little one!

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir
Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $10.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different side of Frances Mayes, April 5, 2014
Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir is Frances Mayes latest book and it shows a much different Frances Mayes than most of her readers are likely used to. In this memoir she takes us back to her roots and to the struggles and triumphs that made her who she is today. I listened to the audio book which is narrated by Frances Mayes herself and I thought she did a wonderful job. To me a memoir is made all the more powerful when the author reads it themselves.

Frances didn’t have a rosy childhood with a father who was quite ill and a mother who struggled with depression and alcoholism. From a young age she wondered why her family wasn’t like others and why they couldn’t be happy. I think it’s a testament to her that she became the amazing writer she is today. To overcome adversity and rise above it is always an inspiration to others. As a young woman she was basically told she needed a husband because that’s just how things were done and yet she wanted more for herself.

I found too that the dynamic between mother and daughter was interesting. Despite the struggles with her mother Frances always make it clear that nobody is perfect and her mother had good and bad points. Truthfully we all do. While her mother left her with bad feelings she also left her with good ones. In all of it she realizes that her mother never got to have the life she may have wanted and it resulted in her alcoholism and depression. One of things that Frances said that stuck in my mind was that her mother’s life had blossomed into hers meaning that while her mother may not have gotten to see her dreams realized Frances was going to do it for her. It was just so profound to me to be so forgiving and accepting.

This memoir is so different from her memoirs about Tuscany which I loved. Under Magnolia is all about Frances’ memories and she spins them quickly. It’s like a moving portrait of her past as she remembers and it’s very vivid and beautifully told; really very poetic. This memoir highlights Frances Mayes talents as a writer like no other!

If you’re a fan of Frances Mayes and curious about her life then this memoir is one you’d like. I think those from the South will enjoy it even more as they can connect with the things she refers to and talks about. I’ve long been a fan of Frances Mayes work and her memoir left me feeling enriched for having listened to it especially with her telling her own story. Very moving!

The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel
The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel
by Barbara O'Neal
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.63
67 used & new from $5.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book!, March 28, 2014
The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O’Neal is a novel of friendship, food, and of finding yourself and fulfilling your dreams. There is nothing I like better than a novel of women and the bonds of friendship that they share. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Joyce Bean and she had the perfect tone of voice for this novel. She has a smooth voice and is very easy to listen to which made this novel all the more enjoyable for me.

Lavender, Ginny, Ruby, and Val all met online as foodie bloggers and quickly became good friends. Lavender, approaching her mid-eighties, is worried about who is going to take over Lavender Honey Farms. She doesn’t want it falling into the hands of family who will only sell out to the highest bidder. She wants to see it pass on to someone who will love and nurture it as she has. In her mind the only good fit for this job is one of the three women so she invites them to come out for a birthday celebration and while they are there she will see if one of these women has what it takes to carry on Lavender’s legacy.

All of the women have their own issues to deal with. Val and her daughter are dealing with a family tragedy. Ginny who is running an extremely successful blog is unhappy in her marriage and has been scared to take any steps to rediscovering her life. Even the trip to Lavender’s farm is a huge step for her as she’s never really done anything on her own. Ruby is the youngest of the women, pregnant, and still nursing a broken heart. Yet, despite being young, she is also the one who shows the most interest in the land. Who is the best person? Lavender doesn’t know but she needs to find out as she’s beginning to wonder just how much time she may have left.

As the women, the Foodie Four as they call themselves, chat and enjoy food and each others company they find their friendship deepening even further. They also find that they are learning more about themselves, what makes them happy in life, and where they want to take their futures.

I enjoyed getting to know the women but I found myself most drawn to Ruby. She seemed vulnerable and sweet with a great love for everything and I liked that. Being a blogger myself I loved that this book revolved around four women who met as bloggers and became friends. It’s amazing the friendships that can be built online but I know it’s true as I’ve built a few strong ones myself. Of course the foodie in me loved all the talk of food and recipes and with the author’s descriptive writing I felt at times that I could smell the lavender (which I love!) and taste the honey. It was wonderful!

The All You Can Dream Buffet was a really enjoyable listen and it was eleven hours well spent for me. For my readers who dislike strong language or sexual content in their reading there is a bit of both in this novel – not much but it’s there. The All You Can Dream Buffet would make a great book club pick with all the issues it raises on marriage, children, old age, and starting over. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to those who enjoy women’s fiction.

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