Saturday, April 25, 2015

Book Review: Tiffany Girl

Tiffany GirlAuthor: Deeanne Gist
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Howard Books

From the bestselling author of It Happened at the Fair and Fair Play comes a compelling historical novel about a progressive “New Woman”—the girl behind Tiffany’s chapel—and the love that threatens it all.

As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.

But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the New York Art Institute. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”

Tiffany Girls is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to live in a boarding house when most women stayed home, she quickly finds the world is less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.

As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?

Not just for herself, but for her mother and all the other women who didn’t see that men – even the ones who loved them – were very careful to keep the fair sex in a state of objection and complete subservience.

Either way, she would now be what the papers called a New Woman, and what her father called abomination.

She’d have no one to answer to. No one. Not her father. Not her mother. Not even her husband. She wouldn’t just be a New Woman, she’d be a whole new person.

For the past couple of years, I have eagerly awaited the latest Deeanne Gist novel. Each year I have been thoroughly pleased with her books; her book are like a journey back in time for me because of the lengthy research Gist does in order to write accurate details about times long past. This particular story follows a young girl named Flossie Jayne and a reserved, somewhat cynical man named Reeve. The story takes place in the late 19th century and Flossie can be considered a “New Woman” simply trying to make a way for herself in a world that is predominantly ran by men. Mr. Tiffany has lost all of his male workers, and needing to finish a project before time for the World Fair, he hires a lot of women to fill their places. Flossie moves into a boardinghouse, much to the dismay of her parents, and meets Reeve. From there, a beautiful love story blooms and thus you have this wonderful new novel by Gist.

1890’s New York is beautifully written by Gist, as are all of her brilliant historical settings. Everything that is described seems so realistic. This story never dragged a bit for me; Gist writes with ease and her plot stays tight and focused in. Gist adds beautiful drawings at the beginning of some of her chapters, and this gives readers an inside look into some 19th century fashions and some of Mr. Tiffany’s work. I found myself look so forward to those beautiful drawings. Flossie Jayne is another piece of Gist’s handiwork. Her characters are always loveable and passionate about their work and ambitions. This book is real treat that you will not want to miss this spring.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Howard Books in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Book Review: The Wondrous And The Wicked

The Wondrous and the Wicked (The Dispossessed, #3)Author: Page Morgan
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series: The Dispossessed # 3

For fans of Lauren Kate's Fallen series comes the exciting conclusion to the trilogy that includes The Beautiful and the Cursed and The Lovely and the Lost. The Waverly sisters must save themselves before all is lost.

Since the Waverlys arrived in Paris, the streets have grown more fearsome by the day. As Ingrid learns to master her lectrux gift, she must watch Axia's power grow strong enough to extend beyond her Underneath hive. By all indications, the fallen angel's Harvest is near-and the timing couldn't be worse.

Targeted by vengeful gargoyles, Gabby has been exiled to London for her own protection. Meanwhile, the gargoyle castes are in disarray, divided between those who want Luc to lead them and those who resent him and his fondness for humans. The Alliance is crumbling from the inside as well, its members turning against one another, and possibly against the Waverlys, too.

Axia has promised that the world will burn. And now, unable to trust the Alliance, separated from Luc, Gabby, and her twin, Grayson, Ingrid is left to face the demon uprising alone.

“And as your gargoyle, I am forced, once again, to keep you from getting yourself killed.” He crouched down until his eyes met hers.

All she knew was that she was alone in a room with a dead body. Strangely, she didn’t feel any lonelier than usual.

“Terrified is exactly how I prefer my humans,” he countered.

This series wrapped me around its tiny little finger with two brilliant words: Paris and gargoyles. I have enjoyed following the series and always highly anticipate each new book every spring. This third book was the perfect finale and absolutely one of the best that I have read in 2014 and 2015. Page Morgan has reached my favorite authors list and I highly recommend watching out for anything new she comes out with. Her books are full of exciting twists and turns, and let’s just be honest, not many authors can pull off multiple point of views as well as she can. This is the first ever gargoyle book I have read and I honestly don’t understand why I haven’t searched out more of them because it was fabulous. I can’t give away much about the book, because this is the third installment, but I can say that each book leaves you waiting for more.

There is so much going on in this final book. I felt that the action, drama, and impending war only added to the intensity and suspense that left readers hanging at the end of book two. Luc, Ingrid, Gabby, and Grayson are just a few of our main characters. I can honestly not say which of these characters I like more; every character is developed to the fullest extent. Each character has traits that you will be able to appreciate and some that will annoy you incessantly. I will say, as I wrap up this review, that this series would be a great one to start for anyone following my blog. Page Morgan wraps everything up nicely by the end and I felt like all questions were answered. This is definitely a series that you will want to have in front of you because once you finish one book, you will be ready to move on to the next!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Delacorte Press in exchange for my honest review***

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: The Cavendon Women

The Cavendon WomenAuthor: Barbara Taylor Bradford
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author, a novel set in Edwardian England and featuring the characters of Cavendon Hall

The stunning sequel to Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Cavendon Hall follows the Inghams’ and the Swanns’ journey from a family weekend in the summer of 1926 through to the devastation of the Wall Street crash of 1929. It all begins on a summer weekend in July of 1926 when, for the first time in years, the earl has planned a family weekend. As the family members come together, secrets, problems, joys, and sorrows are revealed. As old enemies come out of the shadows and the Swanns’ loyalty to the Ingham gets tested in ways none of them could have predicted, it’s up to the Cavendon women to band together and bring their family into a new decade, and a new way of life.

Cavendon Hall. One of the great stately homes of England, it was the finest of all in Yorkshire.

“You don’t have to protest to me. I know exactly what you mean. When a relationship doesn’t work it’s hell on earth.”

“Will you promise me the first dance?” “I will. Every dance for the rest of my life.”

Edwardian romances have always captured my attention and Downton Abbey only added to my infatuation with the era. Books like this one are an escape for me while I wait for more of Downton Abbey to air, and often many of these books are just as good, if not better, than the show. I started reading Barbara Taylor Bradford when Cavendon Hall came out last year and could hardly wait for this book to release this year, and I am sitting here hoping that a third one is in production as we speak. This book, as well as the first one, is full of romance, historical fiction, and mystery. This book packs so much into a few pages and I was devastated when it finally ending.  

I don’t want to give too much away about the story, but I will say that we alternate between points of view, just like in the first book. We are still following the Ingham and the Swann families and just like always you can expect secrets and drama. I am most fascinated with the time period and the way society was structured then. This particular novel carries us from 1926 all the way to the Stock Market Crash in 1929. I love the 1920’s and they will always be my favorite era to read. We continue to learn more about the family, and this is my opportunity to tell you that if you like the sounds of this book, then pick up the first book because so much background information about the families is given. Even though the book is just under five hundred pages, I found myself flying through its pages and desperately wanting a third book!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review***

Monday, April 13, 2015

Early Book Review: Beautiful Secret

Beautiful Secret (Beautiful Bastard, #4)Author: Christina Lauren
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Gallery
Series: Beautiful Bastard # 4


New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Christina Lauren’s Beautiful and Wild Seasons series hook up in Beautiful Secret for an erotic intercontinental romp that celebrates the best of both worlds!

When Ruby Miller’s boss announces he’s sending her on an extended business trip to New York City, she’s shocked. As one of the best and brightest young engineers in London, she knows she’s professionally up to the task. The part that’s throwing her is where she’ll be spending a month up close and personal working alongside—and staying in a hotel with—Niall Stella, her firm’s top urban planning executive and The Hottest Man Alive. Despite her ongoing crush, Ruby is certain Niall barely knows she’s alive…until their flirty overnight flight makes him sit up and take notice.

Not one for letting loose and breaking rules, recently divorced Niall would describe himself as hopeless when it comes to women. But even he knows outgoing California-girl Ruby is a breath of fresh air. Once she makes it her mission to help the sexy Brit loosen his tie, there’s no turning back. Thousands of miles from London, it’s easy for the lovers to play pretend. But when the trip is over, will the relationship they’ve built up fall down?

The first day he seemed to actually notice me and I blew it, acting like some kind of psycho.

I dreamt of soft skin resting on my bare chest and kisses tasting of champagne.

Something inside me melted, and it was all I could do to not turn, take his face in my hands, and make out with him like there was no tomorrow.

I have fangirled over this book for the past month and was beyond excited when I got the chance to read and review it. The Beautiful Bastard series, along with Christina Lauren, is a favorite of mine and none of the books ever disappoint. This book felt so different from the others in the series, but not in a bad way at all. Niall Stella is not like the other men in the Beautiful Bastard series, but instead is sweet, reserved, and does not fear commitment. Niall and Ruby make for an interesting combination because Ruby contrasts Niall in so many ways. She is feisty, carefree, and spontaneous, where Niall is more cautious and overthinks more than he should. Ruby forces him to let go of his insecurities and his natural tendency to over analyze every single situation. They are the perfect couple and their relationship is sexy and fun because of their many differences.

Ruby Miller has had a crush on Niall Stella since she started interning at the engineering firm where he works. She never thought she would get the opportunity to work alongside him…alone! They leave their London office and head off to NYC, and this is when the hot and steamy chemistry between them starts. I wish they had traveled to London instead of NYC, but who am I to judge. Their romance is not one that starts right out of the gate, but instead Christina Lauren builds their relationship slowly and allows tension to build before the fireworks finally blow! This book was impossible to put down and was a great treat to get me through Spring Break! Amazing characters that keep readers interested and intrigued from start to finish! As always, Christina Lauren does not disappoint.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Gallery Books in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Book Review: The Creole Princess

The Creole Princess (Gulf Coast Chronicles, #2)Author: Beth White
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Revell
Series: Gulf Coast Chronicles # 2

All along the eastern seaboard, the American struggle for independence rages. In the British-held southern port of Mobile, Alabama, the conflict brewing is quieter--though no less deadly. The lovely Frenchwoman Lyse Lanier is best friends with the daughter of the British commander. Rafael Gonzalez is a charming young Spanish merchant with a secret mission and a shipment of gold to support General Washington. As their paths cross and their destinies become increasingly tangled, Lyse and Rafael must decide where their true loyalties lie--and somehow keep Lyse's family from being executed as traitors to the British Crown.

With spectacular detail that brings the Colonial South alive, Beth White invites readers into a world of intrigue and espionage from a little-known side of the American Revolutionary War. Her richly textured settings and characters delight while fast pacing and closely held secrets will keep readers turning the pages.

The French girl was the one to keep in his sights, and not only because she was good to look upon. Behind those golden eyes lurked a dangerous intellect.

The fact that she served the town as schoolmistress, only added to her general air of I am in charge, so do not cross me.

Fishing was a much more productive enterprise than wishing one’s life away.

“Now let us dance away these sober cobwebs before Cinderella must return to her stepmother’s clutches.”

This book is a continuation in the series known as the Gulf Coast Chronicles, as they are both set in Alabama and Louisiana. I will say that it is not necessary to read the first book in this series, The Pelican Bride, although it is definitely worth it because it is just as wonderful. Both books are set during the Revolutionary War, which I love to read about because I don’t often find too many set in this time period. Lyse, our heroine, absolutely made this book for me. The story has a common theme of freedom and our author, Beth White, adds to that theme by bestowing her leading ladies with different ethnicities ranging from French, Indian, and African. Lyse was born to a freed slave and in a time when nothing is certain even for the white man, you can only imagine how on edge everyone else was feeling. This is a story of love, freedom, family, loyalty, and most of all learning to speak up and speak out!

I have really been enjoying a lot of historical fiction lately. I can always appreciate when an author has done more than her fair share of research and allows readers to enjoy the historical setting as it was intended to be read and perceived. She weaves fact and fiction in the most miraculous way. I love a book that teaches me things as I read. We could all use an extra history lesson every now and then. Lyse will win over your heart from the very first page, and you are to be swept up in her love life and watching her make decisions and learning to follow her heart!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Revell in exchange for my honest review***

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Early Book Review: Rook

RookAuthor: Sharon Cameron
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

The city was bloodthirsty tonight.

The spreading fog looked almost like the land that must have once been there, when the city was Paris and on one level, before the streets collapsed and sank into the tunnels and quarried caverns beneath it.

There were explosions somewhere down there, beneath the reek and fog, bright flashes of color and short, sharp pops – like the bedtime myths mothers told of guns.

I was sent a copy of this book for review at the beginning of April and I am so glad that it arrived when it did because I was in the mood for a YA book that was a little out of my normal choices; this book fit the mark! Can I just say how awesome the story was and how much I loved the setting, characters, drama, and romance?! There were so many unexpected twists and turns; this author kept me hooked the entire way through. This dystopian romance was full of some intriguing world building. I was unaware at first that this is a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I have never read, but if you have read this then you will have a little bit of background knowledge about Rook before you pick it up!

Paris as a setting is always a win win for me. The dystopian world is so rich and the historical details that accompany it make for some enjoyable passages. Not only was the setting rich and vibrant but the dialogue was flooded with witty banter and amusing punchlines. Sophia’s character was my favorite and I found myself favoring her POV over any of the other characters. She was a character with many virtues and this is what led me to admire and adore her so much. She was clever and able to figure out how to handle tough situations. I highly recommend this riveting dystopian read!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Scholastic Press in exchange for my honest review***

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Book Review: The Wednesday Group

The Wednesday GroupAuthor: Sylvia True
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Gail. Hannah. Bridget. Lizzy. Flavia. Each of them has a shameful secret, and each is about to find out that she is not alone… Gail, a prominent Boston judge, keeps receiving letters from her husband’s latest girlfriend, while her husband, a theology professor, claims he’s nine-months sober from sex with grad students. Hannah, a homemaker, catches her husband having sex with a male prostitute in a public restroom. Bridget, a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital, is sure she has a loving, doting spouse, until she learns that he is addicted to chat rooms and match-making websites. Lizzy, a high school teacher, is married to a porn addict, who is withdrawn and uninterested in sex with her. Flavia was working at the Boston Public library when someone brought her an article that stated her husband had been arrested for groping a teenage girl on the subway. He must face court, and Flavia must decide if she wants to stay with him. Finally, Kathryn, the young psychologist running the group, has as much at stake as all of the others.

As the women share never-before-uttered secrets and bond over painful truths, they work on coming to terms with their husbands’ addictions and developing healthy boundaries for themselves. Meanwhile, their outside lives become more and more intertwined, until, finally, a series of events forces each woman to face her own denial, betrayal and uncertain future head-on.

From author Sylvia True comes The Wednesday Group, a captivating, moving novel about friendship, marriage, and the bonds that connect us all.

Hannah slips the card in her purse. The thought of telling random women about Adam’s supposed addiction feels intolerable.

She hates that the man she still loves, who’s only two feel from her, doesn’t reach over to hold her hand and tell her he understand how alone and ashamed and petty he’s made her feel.

But when she glances over his shoulder and sees Alicia smile, she knows that she’s going to have to bend a little more, not for his sake, or hers, but for her children.

When I started reading this book, I never thought it would be something that I literally could not put down. The story centers on a group of women that are all married to men who are sex addicts; they join a group led by a young undergraduate student in order to discuss their frustrations and seek some help and comfort from others who face the same thing daily. These women each lead different lives, have different jobs, and their husbands cheat in different ways, but their feelings and brokenness is much the same. I was completely enraptured by their stories and found myself up until ungodly hours finishing this book. This must have been a complicated and touchy issue to write about, but Sylvia True really pens the stories of these women in a classy and tasteful manner. I was utterly shocked at how much I loved this book!

The story switches back and forth between looking at the women’s lives individually and then allowing readers to share in on the therapy sessions with them when they are all in one room together. I can only imagine how hard it must be to create five completely different women, give them different stories and personalities and make them all feel so real. I commend True on a job well done in every aspect. If you are skeptical of the topic of this book, please do not feel as if you are going to be reading about sex and some explicit sex scenes. This is not at all what this book focuses on, but more about betrayal and dealing with life after the betrayal knocks you down. Excellent debut novel that you should definitely pick up if you get the chance!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at St. Martin’s Griffin in exchange for my honest review***

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: The Traveling Tea Shop

The Traveling Tea ShopAuthor: Belinda Jones
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Berkley
Love isn't always a piece of cake...

Laurie Davis has always followed her passion. After escaping family drama to start a new life in New York City, she’s up for whatever challenges life brings. So when an opportunity arises for her to use her travel industry expertise and serve as an assistant and tour guide for her idol, Pamela Lambert-Leigh, star of television’s Tea-Time with Pamela, she jumps at the chance.

But Laurie’s exciting adventure ends up entailing a lot more than scouting locations for the cake queen’s new cookbook when Pamela’s sassy mother and sulky, rebellious daughter tag along for the trip. As they cruise around bakeries in New England trading local delights like Red Velvet Cake and Whoopie Pies for British specialties such as Victoria Sponge and Bakewell Tarts, more secrets than recipes are revealed.

Now, in between rediscovering romance, learning to forgive family, and finding the best dessert on the East Coast, Laurie, Pamela, and the gang might find there’s nothing a nice cup of tea, a sweet treat, and a little bit of friendship can’t heal…

There was one Ice Cream Sundae Cupcake that was drizzled with chocolate sauce, scattered with sprinkles and topped with a glace cherry! I could barely keep from licking my laptop screen.

“Let’s see if a cup of tea can make everything better…”

It’s like they say – if you want to develop more patience, spend more time with frustrating people.

This book was such a feel good read and was perfect for this time of year! Laurie, our leading lady, is offered the opportunity to help her long-time idol, Pamela Lambert-Leigh, with her new cookbook by being the traveling guide and planning the route in which they will take to discover timeless old recipes. They will be traveling around New England in an old-fashioned London bus with Pamela’s family: her mother and her slightly rebellious and misunderstood daughter. Ravenna, Pamela’s daughter, makes things difficult for Laurie who has prepared a fun-filled trip with lots of delicious cakes and surprises. Laurie sees that this family needs more work than the upcoming cookbook, so she hopes that the trip is able to mend some broken fences and patch some broken hearts.

This story was not only warm and endearing but also very educational. Laurie plans to take Pamela to several destinations where certain cakes and desserts were invented, like red velvet cake for example. I loved stopping at all the destinations and learning about where so many things originated. However, reading this book made me very hungry! The whole premise of this book is enough to make you want to read it again and again. Who doesn’t love a good book were cakes and pies bring a family back together again? This was one of the most charming stories I have read this year. I could see myself reading this over and over again.

***A free copy was provided to me by the publishers at Berkley Trade in exchange for my honest review***