The Rain Watcher by Tatiana De Rosnay

Overview

The first new novel in four years from the beloved superstar author of Sarah’s Key, a heartbreaking and uplifting story of family secrets and devastating disaster, in the tradition of THE NEST.

The Rain Watcher is a powerful family drama set in Paris as the Malegarde family gathers to celebrate the father’s 70th birthday. Their hidden fears and secrets are slowly unraveled as the City of Light undergoes a stunning natural disaster. Seen through the eyes of charismatic photographer Linden Malegarde, the youngest son, all members of the family will have to fight to keep their unity against tragic circumstances.

In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates all of her writer’s skills both as an incredible storyteller but also as a soul seeker.

Review

The Malegarde family is finally getting together in Paris, just the 4 of them. They are celebrating their father’s 70th birthday. Little do they know Paris is experiencing one of the worst natural disasters of its time. They are trapped and can’t leave the city. Then, the absolute worst happens. Their father falls ill.

Linden is a famous photographer. His sister, Tilia, is a struggling artist with a terrible marriage. Tilia is the only survivor of a wreck years ago. The wreck killed her best friend and left Tilia with a terrible limp. Linden is gay and being with his family in Paris has brought out all his struggles with acceptance.

This novel is just a little boring in places. It really does not have a plot. This is not on par with Sarah’s Key by any means. But, there is something about this book which keeps you reading. The heart break and the love this family shows for one another is uplifting and intense. This is a story about life, family, growing up and growing old. It is about forgiveness and acceptance of yourself and others.

I received this novel from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for a honest review.

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The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

Overview

A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander

New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.

It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she’s confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.

While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.

With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, The Little Shop of Found Things is poised to be a strong start to this new series.

Review

First let me start with COVER LOVE! This is such a fantastic cover for this story!

Xanthe and her mother have purchased and old antique shop. Xanthe has a unique ability with certain antiques. When she touches them….they sing! She feels the objects past and she wants to find out more. She finds an old, silver chatelaine and experiences an astounding connection. This leads her on the trip of her lifetime, and other lifetimes as well.

This story is right in my wheelhouse. Who can resist antiques, historical mysteries, ghosts and time travel. When Xanthe finds the chatelaine, it comes with a ghost. And not a nice one either. This ghost demands Xanthe travel back in time and save her daughter. If Xanthe refuses then her mother will pay.

The story is well researched and extremely creative. But, it is overly dramatic in places and a bit long winded. And Xanthe, she was sort of an enigma. She seems very intelligent but I was not a huge fan of how she interacted with the ghost. Just didn’t fit her characteristics. I expected her intelligence to come out more.

This is a very entertaining read. It has wonderful historical details, especially about the law and the way servants were treated in the 1600s. Enchanting to say the least!

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A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

Overview

The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

Alva Smith, her southern family destitute after the Civil War, married into one of America’s great Gilded Age dynasties: the newly wealthy but socially shunned Vanderbilts. Ignored by New York’s old-money circles and determined to win respect, she designed and built 9 mansions, hosted grand balls, and arranged for her daughter to marry a duke. But Alva also defied convention for women of her time, asserting power within her marriage and becoming a leader in the women’s suffrage movement.

With a nod to Jane Austen and Edith Wharton, in A Well-Behaved Woman Therese Anne Fowler paints a glittering world of enormous wealth contrasted against desperate poverty, of social ambition and social scorn, of friendship and betrayal, and an unforgettable story of a remarkable woman. Meet Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, living proof that history is made by those who know the rules—and how to break them.

Review

Alva and her family are in dire straits. Her father is sick and they are out of money. It is up to her to land a wealthy husband and keep her family in the style they are accustomed. Alva marries William Vanderbilt. But, as the marriage continues Alva realizes money does not buy happiness.

Alva’s marriage is not what she imagined. The Vanderbilt’s are considered nouveau rich and they are completely shunned by the Gilded Age dynasties. She struggles to have her family accepted into society. This seems frivolous to me, however the author did an outstanding job relating this struggle and what it means to Alva. She needs to be accepted to keep her marriage. Then as time goes on and Alva grows, she understands there is more to life than society and William. She fights for what she wants and what she believes in. She is a lady before her time!

The prose of this author is outstanding. I can just picture the ladies with their parasols walking through New York shopping at Tiffany’s. The wealth in this book is phenomenal. The author portrays this alongside the vast amount of poverty in the slums of New York.

The story is a little long-winded and bogs down in the middle. But Alva with her intellect and her strength keep you absorbed in this tale till the very end.

I received this novel from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for a honest review.

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Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle

Overview

A holiday retelling of You’ve Got Mail that will make you fall in love with the Christmas Season!

Angela Carson wants nothing more than to be the third-generation to run her family’s holiday store, Heart of Christmas, successfully. They’ve weathered over sixty tourist seasons, major hurricanes, and urban sprawl, in their old decommissioned lighthouse. But the national chain that set up shop in their small North Carolina town of Pleasant Sands may be more than Heart of Christmas can survive.

Geoff Paisley has been at his mother’s side running the mega-chain Christmas Galore for the last ten years. When his mother falls ill, Geoff promises to answer the town’s Dear Santa letters in her stead. Soon he realizes the woman he’s been corresponding with on Dear Santa is Angela. How could the woman that grates his every last nerve in person have intrigued him so deeply through those letters?

Encouraged by her niece to ask Santa for help, Angela gives in and lets the words fly in a way that, if Santa were real, would no doubt land her on the naughty list. What’s the harm when it’s just a computer-generated response?

When Geoff reveals that he’s her Dear Santa, will Angela be able to set aside their very public feud to embrace the magic of the holiday and possibly find true love?

Review

Angela owns a Christmas store called Heart of Christmas. This store has been her family for years. It sells handmade and fine quality items. Then a chain store moves in, Christmas Galore. Her sales tank and she is going to close. This is so heart breaking to Angela. Her beloved grandmother started this store and cultivated it into a unique Christmas shop. Her niece informs her that she should send Santa an email because Santa can always help!

Geoff is a character you like one minute and dislike the next. He is a businessman so some of his decisions are based on the bottom line. Of course that does not coincide with what the reader expects or wants. And Angela is in such a heart breaking situation. You want Geoff to be her hero.

As it says in the blurb, this is a retelling of the movie You’ve Got Mail. I am an expert on this movie. So when I saw that in the overview, I had to read this book. I probably would have liked the book better if I had never read that.

This is a good, sweet read, don’t get me wrong. I just wish the author had not used so much of the same wording as the movie. A lot of the emails to Santa say the same as what Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan say to each other.

I know, I know, I should not compare! Like I said, it is an enjoyable and heartwarming tale. Just read this and form your own opinion.

I received this novel from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for a honest review.

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Hit Back by P. S. Bridge – BOOK SPOTLIGHT

Hit Back

By P.S Bridge

Genre: Thriller

About the Book

Imagine, your world being turned upside down by murder, your career in tatters, framed, and your family on a hit list.

Marie King, knew her killer. There were no signs of a break in, and the front door was left open.

18 months ago, London lawyer Mark King’s life flashed before his eyes when he returned home from a day in court to find the bloody scene; his wife murdered, with all the hallmarks of professional hitmen, after he refused to drop a case to prosecute a terrorist. Full of grief, his career over, suspected of murder, fuelled by rage and with a background as a skilled marksman, Mark sent his children to the safety of New York, and turned hitman, hunting down those responsible. But he didn’t expect to be thrust headlong, into the crosshairs of secret society Invictus Advoca, and their desperation for ultimate control. He also didn’t bank on their terrifying link to him.

After taking them down in North Africa, and now relaxing in the Scottish Highlands while he sells his marital home, he is still wanted by MI6, and battling severe flashbacks, nightmares and PTSD. But he is about to unwittingly save the life of beautiful hit woman Nadia Moore, herself the victim of a hit squad. After rescuing her, the two begin to uncover a threat which links them both, the assassination of the Ukrainian President, and draws Mark back into the violent and dangerous world of professional Hitmen, a life he swore he’d left behind. But with Mark’s fragile state of mind, people are beginning to question whether he has a grip on reality, as the line between justice and vengeance becomes blurred. Marks actions forced Invictus Advoca’s hand, and now someone exists more senior than Lundon; someone more terrifying and more sinister, who will stop at nothing to take out Mark King.

About the Author

I am the author of a thriller series of books following disgraced British Lawyer and ex- Sandhurst Military Academy Sniper Mark King, as he turns hitman to bring his wife’s killers to justice.

My debut novel ‘Hit’ was released in July 2017, winning me a coveted 5 star review seal from Readers Favorite. To date, the ‘Mark King’ series consists of 26 books, 5 of which are already complete, with book 6 already underway.

I began writing ‘Hit’ in 2014 and attribute a lot of the structure of the story to my mum who was dying of cancer at the time. After reading works by Scott Mariani, Tom Clancy, and Brian Jacques, I wanted to write a collection of books which focussed on the main characters journey from advocate of the law, to someone who kills professionally and how this affected him.

I worked in the private financial and legal sector for 13 years, 7 of which for a worldwide finance company in Business Recovery Services. I have been writing full time since 2013.

Having spent time living and working in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Gloucester, Bristol and Birmingham, I now live in Hampshire with my wife and step-daughter.

For me, the depth of a character is paramount. Whether it is a simple character, or, like Mark King, someone complex and multi-layered. I always take inspiration from real people I meet, and I am often found in coffee shops, (especially my Wife’s) people watching and creating characters, as well as working my way through copious amounts of coffee and Belgian Chocolate Tiffin’s!

When I am not writing, I am usually doing school runs, or indulging my passion of history, particularly First and Second World War history, having grown up with grandparents who were active participants in both wars. I also play the piano and once wrote a musical after an ankle injury retired me from professional classical ballet at aged 19. I also have a love of & collection of oriental weaponry.

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/P.SBridgeBooks

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/PSBridgebooks

Website: http://www.psbridgebooks.com

On Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/P-S-Bridge

EXCERPT FROM ‘HIT BACK’

“I don’t trust him,” insisted, whispering quietly to her, “and I want Barretto dead. Williams wants him for questioning. If we let him live, Invictus Advoca will simply allow him to get away and either reinstate him or dispose of him themselves.”

“Is that such a bad thing?” she said nervously, looking at Williams, “that means we can all go home.”

“That doesn’t get me or you any closer to finding out how deep this goes, who else is in on it and what the hell this organisation still wants with me. Don’t forget, you’re a target, too, now,” he warned.

Nadia shuddered but was indignant.

“We have enough skills between us to out run them,” she said desperately, unconvinced by her own comment.

“They’ll never stop,” Mark snapped, “what makes you think Williams isn’t one of them? He’s been awfully co-operative with someone he has been hunting for some time and he wants to bring them in anyway?”

“You don’t know that,” she exclaimed.

“I am not prepared to take that risk,” he responded, frustrated that now Nadia, of all people, was sounding like Williams. “He’ll wait until we’ve taken out Barretto, then he’ll take me out too and claim all the glory, leaving a nice big trail to Invictus Advoca. My children are still in danger.”

Nadia was convinced. It was strange and didn’t all quite add up. Even if Williams was on their side, it still didn’t guarantee what would happen afterwards.

“True,” she conceded, “so what are you going to do?”

“Whatever needs to be done,” he hissed. “For now, we’ll keep a close eye on him.”

Nadia looked concerned but trusted him with her life so nodded. The two of them made their way into the Trade Unions building using the back entrance and made their way up to the tower on the roof.

Mark had previously placed a high velocity XM2010 extreme range American Sniper Rifle containing Magnum ammunition. He smiled when he saw it exactly where he had left it.

It had a range of four thousand feet and was just being issued to the US army overseas. It was exactly what he needed: rapid fire, easy reloading, large pay packet and extreme accuracy. It was perfect in every way an ultimate killing machine could be.

“Hi honey, I’m home,” he laughed as he bent down to set her into position.

Nadia rolled her eyes and smiled.

“Big gun,” she joked, winking at him, “what is it?”

Mark looked surprised as he picked it up, showing it off to her.

“This bad girl is an XM2010 extreme range, high velocity sniper rifle.”

Her eyes widened in excitement.

“Oh.”

“Chambered to .300 Winchester Magnum and fitted with a five-round detachable box magazine, this naughty girl is barrelled to a twenty-four inch long, two hundred and fifty-four-millimetre twist rate, hammer-forged  barrel,” Mark explained, turning the rifle over and pointing out all the areas he was talking about.

Nadia continued to stare at him.

“Right?” she giggled,

“She’s packing a quick-attachable-detachable Advanced Armament Corporation sound suppressor, with muzzle brake to reduce recoil and jump, making her quieter and more effective.”

Nadia nodded, feigning interest, not understanding this part, but she thought the weapon was beautiful, anyway.

“The ten-inch Titan-QD Fast-Attach suppressor eliminates ninety-eight percent of muzzle flash, sixty percent of recoil, and reduces sound,’ Mark continued.” “Boys and their toys,” she sighed, as she revealed her highly customized, powerful Hekler and Koch UMP, HK45 sub-machine gun, freshly polished.

She handled it expertly and locked, loaded and readied the weapon in a few swift, easy moves.

Mark was impressed but played along,

“What’s that?” he asked sheepishly, slightly embarrassed he had to ask.

Nadia looked at him blankly and back at the weapon.

“It’s a gun,” she remarked casually, “kills people.”

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The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

Overview

A sweeping family saga and love story that offers a vivid and unique portrayal of life in war-torn 1941 Bucharest and life behind the Iron Curtain during the Soviet Union occupation—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls and Sarah’s Key.

On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger, undergoing increasingly violent persecution. The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind. They are even further from her mind when Romania falls under Soviet occupation.

Yet, as Natalia comes of age in a bleak and hopeless world, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading gradually to a discovery that will change her destiny. She has a secret crush on Victor, an intense young man who as an impoverished student befriended her family long ago. Years later, when Natalia is in her early twenties and working at a warehouse packing fruit, she and Victor, now an important official in the Communist regime, cross paths again. This time they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.

When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past.

Review

During WWII, Natalia is left at an orphanage when she is just a small child. She is adopted by an amazing set of parents. They truly want the best for her. When the Iron Curtain fell on Bucharest, their whole lives changed for the worst.

There is so much packed into this read. With the daily struggles just to survive, it is hard to read in places. Natalia is a talented pianist, but she ends up working in a warehouse just to support herself and her parents. Her parents lost everything during the Russian occupation. Their home, their business, their dignity, is all gone!

Victor is a rising star under the communist rule. He became a friend of this family back when he was a starving student. This friendship is Natalia’s saving grace in more ways than one. She is in love with Victor. And he loves her enough to set her free!

I fluctuated between 4 and 5 stars while I was reading this book. But the ending rolled it on up to 5. Talk about emotional whirlwind. I am not much of a cryer during books…but this one ALMOST succeeded in making me cry. Any author who can achieve that deserves 5 stars! And to know…it is based on the author’s family. Superbly done!

I received this novel from Atria Books via Netgalley.

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Christmas at the Chalet by Anita Hughes

Overview

A delicious love story about a bridal designer showing her new collection in the Alps during the magical week of Christmas where hijinx of the heart ensue.

It’s the day after Christmas, and Felicity Grant is at a gorgeous ski chalet in St. Moritz for the biggest fashion show of her career. Felicity is a rising star on the bridal design scene, and this is her best collection yet. But when her boyfriend gives her a spa day instead of a diamond ring for Christmas, she has to face the possibility that she may never walk down the aisle in one of her own stunning designs.

And then there’s Nell, the top model headlining Felicity’s show. Nell is planning her dream wedding to her wonderful fiance with one catch: her divorced parents can’t stand each other and threaten to no-show if the other is there.

Add to that Felicity’s race against the clock to create a special gown for a prestigious bridal salon, and what both girls need is a Christmas miracle. What better place to find one than in the Swiss Alps with its dark forests and sparkling vistas?

But for Felicity it’s hard to recognize a miracle even when it’s right in front of her, and for Nell one miracle might not be enough to fix the past. Can dreams really come true or is that the stuff of Swiss fairytales?

Anita Hughes’s Christmas at the Chalet is full of romance, gorgeous gowns, and the stunning scenery of the Swiss Alps. It’s about love and forgiveness, and creating one’s own miracles during the most festive time of year.

Review

There are actually two love stories in this novel. One revolves around Felicity. She is a wedding dress designer and she is having a Christmas fashion show in St. Moritz. Felicity has been with her boyfriend, Adam for years and she is expecting a ring this Christmas. Hmmmmm!?

Then there is Nell. Nell is one of Felicity’s models and best friend. She is planning her own wedding. But, her parents hate each other. Neither one is going to attend her wedding if the other is there. Can Nell create magic and get them in the same room together.

Felicity is a little too needy for me. She really wants a ring and she does not see what is right in front of her eyes, a gorgeous, kind, Swiss doctor. And he has fabulous Swiss Folk Tales. Felicity is a hardworking and talented woman. But, she drives me a little nuts with her whining.

Now Nell! She is a different story. She has the love of her life waiting on her. But, if she doesn’t get her parents to see eye to eye, she may have a nervous break down. Her parents hate each other. They actually first met in St. Moritz. Nell is hoping to spark something, anything, just to get them both at her wedding.

The author really creates a magical setting. St. Moritz is now on my bucket list, especially at Christmas. I can just picture the quaint shops with the beautiful lights and I can also taste the rich chocolates. Anita Hughes has really out done herself with this setting.

This is wonderful, enchanting Christmas tale. Everyone needs a little Christmas love story and this is one is perfect.

I received this novel from St. Martin’s press via Netgalley for a honest review.

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