Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review: Stranger on the Shore

Stranger on the Shore Stranger on the Shore by Marilyn Brant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Mirabelle Harbor, Book 4)
Marilyn Brant

The Mirabelle Harbor Book Series has been a delight for the reading pallet as Marilyn Brant has released each of her continuing stories about the families and interesting characters that have grown-up and live in and around Mirabelle Harbor. With each addition to the series, we have come to know the characters a little more, laughing at their foibles and commiserating with them over their sorrows and mistakes of life.
I first read little hints, snippets and short chapters and tantalizers about this book last year in a group where she was sharing her ideas about Stranger on the Shore. I loved where the story was going then, so was excited to finally have the completed release ARC copy to finally read the whole story.
Unlike the other Mirabelle Harbor stories, this story takes place on the coast and glorious beaches of Florida instead of the Midwest. This time instead of young love finding its way, it is a story of healing and of love coming softly to a woman in her forties who finds herself homeless, childless, and divorced. It wound its way through the hilarity of a gaggle of mismatched women who bonded together through a common love of crafting for a local beach shop, to care for each other and lift each other up through their trials and sorrows. They did this all while having fun and bonding as only women can, along the way.
Love crept softly through the crevices of this story and amongst this gaggle of women as it slowly melted the hard place that had formed in Marianna’s heart. When her elder sister shows up with Marianna’s daughter, it all goes to hell in a handbasket. For it turns out that the healing needs to go deeper than just the loss of a marriage, but also needs to find peace between sisters. In doing so, Marianna finally finds herself free to love again.
The summer on the beach and the stranger on the shore is more than a shallow summer read. Though light with characters who keep you in stitches, as only Marilyn knows how to write about, each one adds her piece of blessing to the recipe for a wonderful story with a magical ending. There is no disappointment in this book that is perfect to carry to the beach (or wherever your vacation takes you) this summer.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Review: Land of Silence

Land of Silence Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this story of the lady with the issue of blood. What a beautiful telling of what life for a woman could be like in Judea during the time of Christ. To give her a voice and that such a beautiful intellectual mind, was over the top. Tessa skillfully inserted other strong women of the era into the storyline seamlessly. By doing so, she allowed the reader to have glimpses into both the Jewish and Roman women's cultures, as well as broaden the panorama of the backdrop for the telling of this tale.
She took stories from the gospels that many are already well acquainted with and touched on them, weaving them into the fabric of her intricate tale, drawing the reader deeper into the culture and helping us to know and understand the true status of women of that day.
This is a book worth reading again and again. Yes, it is a beautiful love story, but it is also a well-written piece of historical women's fiction that speaks to the soul on many levels. I give Land of Silence and Tessa Afghar a good 4 STARS for the beautiful piece. I look forward to reading more of her works in the future.
Land of Silence was provided to Blogging Under the Shade Tree to assess and in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Review: Tumbledown Manor

Tumbledown Manor Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Helen Brown
I have come to love reading fiction by Australian authors. Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown is a contemporary romance that takes place in Australia is another delight for the palette. It was a combination of romance, mystery, and just plain fun as I worked my way through the pages and watched an Australian who had transplanted to NYC suddenly find herself divorced and headed back home to Australia.
The many foilable situations that she found herself in while working through just about everything life could throw at her kept her hopping almost as much as the local wildlife in the outback where she decided to buy the old family homeplace (mansion) that was up for sale and falling into ruin.
What can you say, when you are recovering from cancer, your husband leaves breastless you for "big-tits", you move to Australia to be near your homosexual son and his latest beau (but can't figure out who it is), your sister wants to run your life for you (now that you are back home), and your anorexic daughter out in L.A. won't talk to you?
Well, for starters, you buy an old haunted mansion that is on its last legs and hired some local bums to start fixing it up. All this, while you are trying to get your next book finished and off to the publisher before the deadline gets here.
Helen manages to take this seeming pile of impossible and turn it into a rock and rolling story that kept this reviewer laughing, even when things didn't look so good. Her writing style made you want to strive to keep going, even when the wildfire was headed to burn down everything you owned and had worked on. Even when the town didn't talk to you and the local librarian didn't have anything good to say about your national bestseller. You were just too busy to stop and feel sorry for yourself. You wanted to find answers to the questions that kept popping up.
In short, I loved this piece. It was great fun. A great read! It earned its FOUR STARS.
Tumbledown Manor was provided to Blogging Under the Shade Tree in exchange for a fair and honest review of the material by Net Galley.

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Review: Mayflowers for November: The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn

Mayflowers for November: The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn Mayflowers for November: The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn by Malyn Bromfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mayflowers for November by Marilyn Bromfield was a historical novel that rose to the occasion. It provided a glimpse into King Henry VIII's Court from a unique and very interesting perspective. Though the story wove around the court and the intrigue that went on particularly with the Boleyn family, that was just one of the fascinating storylines that wove through the book.
This story did not center around the king and his wives. It centered around one of the servant girls and was told from the viewpoint of her looking back over her life. It took us from the time of her being a young kitchen maid, through her being a nurse maid to Anne Boleyn's Mary all the way up through after the time when she was married and had left the court.
Ms. Bromefield did a beautiful job on her research and also gave a new an interesting voice to the Boleyn story. She also gave some new insights and provided a beautiful love story to what life was like below the stairs and out in the stables. I found myself constantly looking wide-eyed through the innocent eyes of this young girl who was thrust into situations that were way above her station and far out of her league in political intrigue.
Mayflowers for November is a historical novel that is well worth the read and a joy for the intellectual pallet. I give this novel a well deserved FIVE STAR rating for story-telling and intellectual intrigue. This is a tome for the permanent shelves. One worth standing next to other great current historical novels for this era.
Mayflowers for November was provided to Blogging Under the Shade Tree to assess and in exchange for a fair and honest review by Net Galley. Blogging Under the Shade Tree is not associated with the publisher or any seller of this material.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Review: Shower of Stars

Shower of Stars Shower of Stars by Nancy Herkness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shower of Stars by Nancy Herkness is a story of a different vein than the other enchanting novels by her that have come across my desk to read and review. Nancy is known for her enchanting romances that sweep you off your feet. She can leave you short of breath, for many reasons, and still have an underlying story-within-the-story that packs a punch and makes it more than another Saturday afternoon fairytale.
But this, Shower of Stars was different from the start. This was the first of Nancy’s books that I would move from the “Romance” genre to the “Women’s Fiction” genre, for though there was romance folded within the pages and she worked her magic at raising the blood pressure and libido within the context of the story - that was not her focus. The focus of this little gem was about one’s longing for love and family and the journey to find family only to discover love in the process.
With each new book, I am finding that Nancy is learning to give more voice to her characters within her stories. With this she is allowing them to tell their stories and share their souls. In turn this is providing a magic of depth and feeling to her books that only the best authors are able to attain. Suddenly, we are no longer just reading Nancy’s stories, we are living them through her characters; feeling, breathing and sensing life from their point of view. That is true magic. That is what lifts the story off the page and gives it life.
I feel that Shower of Stars is a glimpse of some of the wonder that Nancy will be bringing to her readership in the coming months and years. I am looking forward to falling into the worlds she builds and melting into the stories she creates. This wonderful work receives a FIVE STAR Review from this humble reviewer and blogger.
Shower of Stars was provided to Blogging Under the Shade Tree to read and in exchange for a Fair and honest review of the material. Blogging Under the Shade Tree is not associated with the publisher or seller of this product.

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