First line: A bitter wind sheared through the darkness, biting into my exposed flesh and lashing my hair across my face.
Sadie Keller is determined to find out what happened to her brother on
the night he died. She does not believe the story told to her by his
wife, Crystle. But the police do not believe that there is enough
evidence to allow them to look deeper into the events.
hoping to escape from her small Kansas town. Her family are involved in
some dangerous activities and she wants to leave before she is sucked
My Thoughts: I loved the author’s previous book Arrowood. It was thrilling. This was sold to be a thriller but it really fell flat. I was hoping for more but it took almost 60% of the book to get to the more interesting pieces. The beginning was about the town, its people and the life in small town Kansas. This made it easy to connect with at least, as a girl from a small town in Kansas.
I liked the characters
but they needed something more. We got glimpses into Sadie’s past with
her brother. I would have liked more of that. Henley seemed like a
filler character. She did reveal some information that lead to big
reveal but her story was blah.
First line: This is a book about an extraordinary woman called
Almina Carnarvon, the family into which she married, the Castle that
became her home, the people who worked there, and the transformation of
the Castle when it became a hospital for wounded soldiers during the
First World War.
Summary: Written by the current Countess of Carnarvon we are taken into the past to meet the woman that helped inspired the hit television series Downton Abbey. Almina was the daughter of Alfred de Rothschild. Her dowry was used to help support the struggling estate. Almina opened the house to be used as a hospital during World War I and her husband was part of the team who discovered the tomb of King Tut. Using information from letters and diaries of the occupants of Highclere Castle, we get the true story of this great house.
My Thoughts: I have been a fan of the series Downton Abbey
from the start. I watched each season religiously. I even got my mother
hooked on it. I knew that much of the inspiration for the story was
drawn from real life events. I have been meaning to pick up this book
for years and with the upcoming movie I figured it was the right time.
It is easy to see that author had access to many primary sources and a wealth of information. She fleshes out the woman who saved the family from ruin and brought them into the 20th century. I loved hearing about her life before and after her marriage. She did so much for the house but my favorite part by far was the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. From a hobby in the desert and a final chance to find something worth the money they find one of the greatest discoveries of all time.
First line: The church was grey against a light grey sky, the bell tower, like a watchtower, dark against the darker clouds.
It is 1648 in England. The country is in turmoil. Alinor is a poor
woman living on Sealsea Island with two children. Her husband
disappeared several months before and left his family with nothing. One
night while Alinor is holding vigil at the local church she stumbles
upon a man hiding in the churchyard. He asks for her help to guide him
to the home of the local land owner. She learns that he is a priest who
is working as a spy for the imprisoned King Charles I.
silence about the mysterious visitor she earns the respect of the
Peachey family. As she gains favor from her landlord she also draws the
suspicions of her neighbors. In this time of witchcraft and
superstition, Alinor is in danger of being accused of using spells to
bewitch them to advance her ambitions.
My Thoughts: I
absolutely loved this book. It is a beautiful story. The descriptions of
the land are as vivid as a picture. It is easy to imagine the small
island village in the south of England where life is controlled by the
Alinor is a poor simple woman but she stands out from all
the other people on her island. She is knowledgeable about herbs, she
can read and write. Gregory does an amazing job writing about strong and
interesting women. Alinor has been abandoned by her husband but she is
able to continue to survive using her own gifts.
The time of
Charles I is not one that I am very familiar with. Wikipedia is one of
my best friends while reading about a new era in history. I have heard
of the English Civil War and the Oliver Cromwell but I have never spent
much time reading about it. Gregory did extensive research in order to
bring the turbulent time to life. The fear of witches, the hatred of the
king and the devastating poverty are just a few issues she covers. It
was a time of great change.
Throughout the novel I was
constantly worried for Alinor. She is a wise woman. Many of her
neighbors come to her for help in delivering babies or curing a
sickness. But it is easy for people of the time to turn on women like
her. I kept waiting for something to happen her. I was completely
invested in her life. As I read the last few pages I was praying that it
would not end. I want to know what will happen next for Alinor and her
Last week I was lucky enough to get to travel to Denver and meet Philippa Gregory. My cousin, Alaina, accompanied me to the event. It was a on my bucket list to meet and have a signed copy of one of her books. I was beyond excited to meet her. She was absolutely lovely to listen to. She did several readings from Tidelands and answered audience questions. I love attending author events. For me it is like meeting a movie star. I was literally shaking and nervous. I am so happy that I made the eight hour drive to Denver to meet her. It was surreal.
If you’re a reader, you’ve experienced it: a reading slump.
You know, that week, or month, or longer, when no matter what book you pick up,
you just can’t seem to get interested in it.
If you’re in a slump now, here are 10 tips to help get your reading back on track. If you’re not in a slump, save this for later, because you know one will hit sooner or later.
1. Reread one of your favorite books. Not a re-reader? Give it a shot. There’s a reason we love our favorite stories and revisiting them can rekindle the feeling we had when we first read them.
2. Read a book completely out of your comfort zone. Normally read romantic comedies? Try a thriller. Love mysteries? Give a fantasy novel a shot. Picking up something completely unusual for you can pique your interest.
3. Judge a book by its cover. Go ahead. Do it! That cover that just grabs your attention? The book inside might just do the same and help break you out of a rut.
4. Pick up a nice short, easy to read book. If you’re in a slump, picking up that giant doorstop of a book might feel like too much. Give yourself permission to read a short, fluffy, brain candy kind of book.
5. “Read” in a different format. Do you usually read on an e-reader or mobile device? Try print. Always read print books? Listen to an audiobook. Consuming that story in a new way may prod your brain to respond more actively to the story.
6. Visit the library or a bookstore. Just browsing the shelves and being around books might get your brain back into a reading mode.
7. Participate in a reading challenge. Reading challenges abound on the internet, challenges with a few books or a lot of books. Locally, check out the Wichita Eagle #READICT Challenge group on Facebook. The Eagle’s annual challenge is to read 12 books from 12 categories.
8. Or, participate in a read-a-thon. The library has a month-long read-a-thon coming up Oct. 1-31, where you can journey through the Forbidden Forest as you read.
9. Join a book club. It can be motivating to have a deadline to finish and then meet and discuss what you loved — and didn’t — about the book. The library has three active book clubs, all open to everyone.
10. Take yourself on a reading date. Set aside some time for just you and your book. Find a comfortable place and have a cup of your favorite tea or coffee. Take a couple of hours and surrender yourself to the words on the page. Have a few books to choose from, in case the first “date” doesn’t quite work out.
Hubert Larnaudie invites some fellow residents of his Parisian apartment
building to drink an exceptional bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, he has no
idea of its special properties.
The following morning, Hubert
finds himself waking up in 1950s Paris, as do antique restorer Magalie,
mixologist Julien, and Airbnb tenant Bob from Milwaukee, who’s on his
first trip to Europe. After their initial shock, the city of Edith Piaf
and An American in Paris begins to work its charm on them. The
four delight in getting to know the French capital during this iconic
period, whilst also playing with the possibilities that time travel
But, ultimately, they need to work out how to get back to 2017, and time is of the essence.
Every once in a great while I just want a sweet little read to put me in a good mood. When I’m over the thrillers and the horror that usually occupy my reading lists, Antoine Laurain seems to always be there for me. His books are short, sweet and most importantly French!
Of course a book set in 1954 Paris gives me unlimited amounts of food inspiration. If I were to recreate a day from this story I would start out the morning with a Bloody Mary at Harry’s Bar. This recipe includes celery salt which I understand the original from Harry’s didn’t, so you’ll need to make your own judgement call there. Around mid day I’d pack a Traditional French Picnic and head to a cozy spot with a good book. Then after what I’m sure would be a wonderful afternoon of snacking, reading and lazing about I’d stop by the fish market on my way home and pick up a Whole Trout to roast and perhaps a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to go with it.
Unfortunately I can’t travel back in time to Paris in 1954, but I think I can still recreate this food day right here in the present. I’m going to give it a go before fall sets in. Let me know if you do the same!
First line: It was Miguel who called 911 at 4:07 a.m. on an icy Sunday morning.
Vincent and his financial team from Stanhope and Sons is told to attend
a team building exercise on a Friday night. When they arrive they enter
an elevator that takes them up several floors where it stops and the
clues begin. As the team tries to figure out how to get out of the
escape room they realize that the clues are very specific. However, as
the clock clicks on they are not let out of the room. Tension begins to
mount and the team begins to let their fears and secrets come to the
surface. Will they survive the escape room?
Following a popular trend with thrillers now we have a book split into a
two part narrative. We meet Sara Hall, a young business school graduate
who is looking for a job. She lands the job of her dreams at Stanhope
and Sons in New York City. She works on big accounts and makes tons of
money. But the hours are long, the work is grueling and the people are
not very nice.
The other side is the team in the elevator. It is
a group of very unlikeable people stuck in a very tight space together.
I really enjoyed these scenes as their true personalities came to the
forefront. We find out what secrets they have and how truly terrible
they are. I could honestly say that I did not care for any of them but I
was very interested to see where their story ended.
Even though the ending was rather predictable it was loads of fun! Our staff did an escape room for our Christmas party last year. We had a great time. There are tons of clues and just a short amount of time to put them together. If you have a chance to try one you should but maybe not in an elevator. 😉
FYI: Great for fans of Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena.