Topaz Eyes

Topaz Eyesby Nancy Jardine

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book. The story line sounded interesting. I love mysteries, romances and history. A novel where a couple searches for heirloom jewelry, while being pursued by mysterious bad guys sounds amazing. I have been trying to force myself to finish the book for months, so I could write a well-informed review, but honestly I just can’t get into the story.
Keira, the leading lady, is a great character. She is a well-traveled translator and an all-around good person. I would love to BE her. The leading man though, is awful. He is moody, secretive, and borderline abusive. Keira deserves better and because of this, I hate their romance. Also Teun is supposed to be American, but he uses a ridiculous amount of British phrases and colloquialisms. This discord bothers me so much, that it is constantly pulling me out of the story line.
Everything in this book is also entirely too convenient. Two out of the 3 people invited to the search just happen to meet at a cafe in a huge city, just hours before the designated meet up. They just happen to find various photos and other references to the jewelry with barely any help or research. They just happen to find some jewelry in a relative’s attic hours before the bad guys break in and then burn the place down. It just isn’t realistic.

Thanks to net galley and the publisher for the free advance copy.

Review: The Rage of Plum Blossoms

The Rage of Plum Blossoms
by Christine M. Whitehead

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Attorney Quinn Jones-Chang’s world is turned upside down when her husband dies suddenly. Police rule it a suicide, but Quinn is convinced it is murder. She sees too many things wrong with the situation to believe it and decides to take things into her own hands. As she investigates, she rather coincidentally meets a delightful cast of characters, who just happen to have all of the right skill sets she needs to uncover the truth. I really liked the characters. They’re quirky and fun. A couple fall immediately & hopelessly in love with her. The mystery is complex. The action is gripping. The ending is surprising. I definitely recommend this book and hope to see more from this author soon.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the ARC.

Review: Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie
by Will Bashor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love history, but despise how history books are written. They tend to be dry and tedious. This book was written in a much more engaging way. I would say that it is written more like a lecture than a novel. If you liked history class in school, this book is for you.

It is extremely well researched. I especially enjoyed the details provided. They make the events more dramatic and relatable. The author details every move Marie Antoinette made and lets the reader know where he got that information from. It makes it quite easy to imagine exactly what happened to her and how she was feeling in her last days.

I highly recommend this book to any history lover who wants a more in depth story of the end of Maire Antoinette’s life.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Purchase on Amazon: here 

 

Review: Ondine

Ondineby Shannon Drake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was initially surprised when I found out that this book was originally written in the late 80’s. I can usually tell when a book was written, even if it has a historical setting. This book is written very much like the historical romances you find today.

This book is unique to those modern romances, however. It is actually two stories in one, and is therefore longer than your average novel. Each of the main characters, Ondine & Warwick, have their own trials to overcome. This novel essentially solves one issue, then moves on to the next. Modern romances tend to try to conveniently solve a similar problem all at once. I found Ms Drake/Graham’s solution easier to follow and more realistic.

What I did not feel was realistic, was that a nobleman would take a bride off the gallows and not be able to tell she is of noble birth. On top of that they somehow managed to fall in love with each other, even though they were only ever being hateful and antagonistic towards each other. I wouldn’t consider that a healthy relationship.

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for the ARC to review.

View all my reviews

Review: The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan: Boost Brain Performance, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Health

The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan: Boost Brain Performance, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Healthby David Perlmutter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like this book better than most grain-free diet books, because it truly provides you with a whole life plan. It not only outlines proper food choices, but gives you supplement, exercise, and stress reduction suggestions too. The diet itself is essentially the ketogenic diet with a bit of the intermittent fasting diet thrown in. You eat a lot of protein and fat and greatly reduce your sugar and carbohydrate intake. It is a bit difficult for me as the diet is dairy-intensive and I am lactose intolerant. However I am adapting as best as possible. I have tried similar, but more drastic diets before with good results, but completely altering your lifestyle is extremely difficult. Especially when you go out to eat or to a friend’s house for dinner.

The Brain Grain Whole Life Plan is difficult to maintain for anyone who works a stereotypical job. Dr Perlmutter recommends a schedule of eating and exercise that that is practically impossible if you are away from home for long periods of time, especially if you have a designated meal time at work/school. Parts of it are simpler, like make veggies the star of the plate and drastically reduce carbs/starches (looking at you, potatoes). I am also not a fan of the suggested 72 hour fasts. These would basically send your body into starvation mode. The suggested mini skip-breakfast fasts do not bother me nearly as much. Skipping one meal is not dangerous and may actually keep you metabolism guessing. All this being said, if you can manage it, I think it will be helpful. I will try to follow the plan as closely as possible, but I cannot see myself following it to the letter.

Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for the ARC.

Review: Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency

Maggie Dove's Detective Agency
by Susan Breen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read and enjoyed the first book in this series, I was excited to read the next! This one doesn’t disappoint. I still love the main character Maggie Dove. She is not your typical PI. She is a widowed retiree, who is looking for something meaningful to do. This book further develops the character, so she is constantly improving herself and her instincts. She is breaking out of her shell.

The story takes place around Halloween, so it was great that I got it in October. It explores the world of modern-day witchcraft and how Wicca is still perceived. It is truly enlightening. Ms. Dove even has a new grumpy black cat to make it even more Halloween themed!

However, even with the serious setting, it is not a psychological thriller at all. It is a simple old-school sleuthing novel. There is a bit of action, especially at the who-done-it reveal, but the book did not keep me constantly at the edge of my seat (thankfully). I can really tell that there was a lot of thought put into this book. I highly recommend this series to any fans of classic sleuthing novels!
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.

 

Review: Good in Bed

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

 

 

 

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has a great theme of acceptance that is focused on weight issues, but touches on other areas too. While Cannie learns to love the body she is in, she also learns to accept other aspects in her life that she is unhappy about (her mother being gay, her father leaving her at a young age, etc). The recurring phrase “you can’t change the things other people do, you can only change how you react to it” really hit home with me. While I didn’t always agree with how the main character Cannie reacted to each situation, I could still relate to the overall message. Why get upset over something you can’t change? Accepting the situation and moving past it is very freeing.

One thing I wish I had realized when starting the book is that it takes place in 1998-1999. There is nothing wrong with that, but I was easier to understand after I figured that out. I had to think back to those days when most people did not own cell phones and laptops. I also feel like we as a people have progressed in our opinions of overweight people and gay people (maybe this book had a hand in that progress?). I am not saying that overweight and gay people are not still treated differently today, but I like to think it is not as bad now. Also the date of the book affects the sizes mentioned. I did some research and found out that Cannie’s size 16 in the late 90’s is equivalent to a size 12 today, which also happens to be my dress size. I was a little surprised that someone my size would be considered fat then. I don’t see myself that way. So maybe this is proof of progress.

All in all, I think this is a good read. 15 years later it is still relevant.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for the copy to review.

 

Livia Lone

Livia Lone by Barry Eisler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to say, I found this book very compelling. Rather than start the book with a lot of background information, the Eisler begins the story right in the action. Because of this I started out not really liking the main character Livia. She is a loner and a vigilante. As the book progresses, you learn more about her past and why she acts the way she does. You start to sympathize with her.

Eisler was also able to convey the horrors of human trafficking in a way that other media outlets cannot. Livia’s story really struck a cord with me. It was humbling. It made me realize how lucky I am to not have experienced such terrible things. If I had, would I have been so strong? Would I have had her drive? Would I single-handedly attempt to take down the people responsible? That’s what makes this story great. Livia does everything in her power to uncover the group responsible for trafficking her and her sister, with the hope they will lead her to that sister.

I strongly recommend this book. It is not just an action packed novel, but a human interest piece as well. You won’t regret it.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for giving me an ARC.

Review: Lady of the Bridge

Lady of the Bridge
by Laura Kitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love that this book takes place in 17th century Japan, which is refreshingly unusual for a romance. I was starting to get bored with everything set in the Regency/Victorian eras of England! I am also a Japanese culture and history buff, so the setting was particularly intriguing. Saiko has a unique personality for that era. She is well read, athletic, and brave. All of which, were a rarity for women in those times. I found her to be very complex. The male lead Takamori was a little less complex, but how many men are both sword masters and self-taught art geniuses? Overall I thought it was a poignant story of star-crossed lovers that was very much worth my time reading it. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC to review.

 

Review: Thirty Days to Thirty

Thirty Days to Thirty
Thirty Days to Thirty by Courtney Psak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

This book seemed like a perfect read for me since I just turned 30 this year and can relate to Jill’s character, who is going through a bit of a 1/3 life crisis. Her life takes a turn for the worse when she loses her job and her boyfriend on the same day.
The best part of the book is how she, with the help of family and friends, realizes that it was partly her fault. She realized she was working herself to the bone for a company that didn’t appreciate her. She lost her boyfriend because she ignored him for that crappy job. The idea that you can’t just blame everyone else for your problems really rang true with me. Jill was able to change her life for the better, because she realized she could control (mostly) her own destiny. I think this is an excellent lesson for people today.
The only drawback is the utter convenience of every situation. She just happened to go on vacation the same place as her ex? Her friend’s husband just happens to work for a TV show willing to not only cover her story, but also pay for her to travel through Europe? She walks into a small town law firm, with no notice, and they just give her a job? There were many more. It didn’t seem realistic, but I guess some things had to be convenient or the book would be really long.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me with a complementary copy for review.