Monday, May 21, 2018

Review: Becoming The Talbot Sisters

Becoming The Talbot Sisters
by Rachel Linden

Why I chose this book? I like ‘sisters’ stories
When I read this book? May 2018
Who should read this book? Readers who enjoy stories of sisters  
Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating:  ★★★★    4 Stars

Here is a synopsis of Becoming TheTalbot Sisters from TLC Book Tours
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 1, 2018)
Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. On an astonishing journey across Central Europe, they must come together to face their fears, find their courage and fight for what they love.
Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly’s heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly’s twin sister, Charlie Talbot, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worked in Budapest, Hungary.
When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.
But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across Central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven’t had to rely on each other since childhood, an unforeseen dangerous turn in their journey across Europe forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other.
My Review

I like reading stories about sisters and especially twin sisters, so the title called to me immediately, and the synopsis sealed the deal. Waverly and Charlie are twins who were very close growing up, but have become, if not exactly estranged, at least very distant with one another. Both have secrets they have kept from the other twin, something that was unheard of while they were growing up! Waverly wants to become a mother very badly, but cannot have children. Charlie has a dark secret of failure and personal shame that she has kept from her sister. When they come together at the Aunt Mae’s funeral, they begin to bridge the rift when Charlie offers to carry a baby for Waverly.

There are some unexpected complications along the way, some of which seem a little unrealistic, but still make for an interesting story. Parts a little predictable but that doesn’t damage the story; I expected the outcome, but enjoyed the journey anyway. One thing I did appreciate was that the author provided an epilogue. While I might have enjoyed a few more detail on HOW the characters got to where they were, I can honestly say there are no questions that were left unanswered.

This is a quick read and one of those books that can be read on different levels, which means it will be a great selection for book clubs. You can read this as an individual and enjoy the story, but if you want to go deeper with your book club, you will find plenty to discuss, from surrogacy, to sex trafficking, to family relationships, and more. I read an ARC and there is space left for discussion questions at the end which book clubs may find helpful.

This is classified as Christian fiction, from a Christian publisher, but there is nothing that smacks you in the face shouting ‘I am a Christian book!’ There are a couple of scenes in church and recurring references to Aunt Mae’s motto: Whatever the Good Lord puts in you hand you give back to others. Those are pretty subtle and probably few people would notice or feel offended by them, however a group with a Christian slant could find enough in the book to fuel a discussion of how their values apply in this book.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Rachel Linden

Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures living and traveling in fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her stories. She holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College, a BA in Literature from Huntington University, and studied creative writing at Oxford University during college. Currently, Rachel splits her time between Seattle, Washington and Budapest, Hungary where she lives with her husband and two children. Rachel enjoys creating stories about hope and courage with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy.
Connect with Rachel: Website | Facebook

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes.

Rachel’s Tour Stops

Instagram tour:
Monday, May 7th: @mrs.literarylovely
Tuesday, May 8th: @theshybooks
Wednesday, May 9th: @chaptershoe
Thursday, May 10th: @createexploreread
Friday, May 11th: @somekindofalibrary
Saturday, May 12th: @bookishconnoisseur
Sunday, May 13th: @theliterarybirds
Review tour:
Tuesday, May 1st: Blooming with Books
Wednesday, May 2nd: Openly Bookish
Thursday, May 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Friday, May 4th: A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, May 7th: Write Read Life
Tuesday, May 8th: Laura’s Reviews
Wednesday, May 9th: Books a la Mode – guest post
Thursday, May 10th: Midwest Ladies Who Lit
Friday, May 11th: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, May 14th: Fiction Aficionado
Tuesday, May 15th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, May 16th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Thursday, May 17th: Girl Who Reads
Friday, May 18th: Broken Teepee
Monday, May 21st: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, May 21st: Time 2 Read
Tuesday, May 22nd: Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, May 23rd: A Holland Reads
Thursday, May 24th: Peppermint Ph.D.
Friday, May 25th: The Book Diva’s Reads
TBD: Fiction Aficionado – guest post

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Penguin and Tiny Shrimp Don't Do Bedtime!

Penguin and Tiny Snail Don’t Do Bedtime!
by Cate Berry

Why I chose this book? It looked like a cute bedtime read!
When I read this book? May 2018
Who should read this book? Anyone with a small child who likes bedtime stories!  
Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating:   👍👍

Here is a synopsis of Same Beach, Next Year from TLC Book Tours
• Hardcover: 32 pages
• Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (May 8, 2018)
Penguin and Tiny Shrimp DO NOT have a bedtime story to share with you.
There are no soft beds or cozy covers here. There are fireworks! And shark-infested waters!!
This book will never make you sleepy. Not at all. Not even a little. . .
“Debut Berry revs up her romp… the digital art from Santoso (Peanut Butter & Aliens) energizes Berry’s tactically understated text, often wryly turning it on its head. A buoyantly subversive
anti-bedtime tale.” —Publisher’s Weekly Featured Review
“The story is a smartly comedic entry in the genre of the anti-bedtime story, and the exclamatory dialogue-only text adds energy and humor. This will be a joyous bedtime read.” —Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books
“A definite do for bedtime.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A beguiling pair…much yawning will ensue…and that’s a good thing.” —Booklist
—A Junior Library Guild Selection, Spring ‘18
My Review

I’ve always enjoyed reading to young kids and now that I have a grand, I’m finding new books we enjoy. I particularly enjoy reading stories about reluctant sleepers—possibly because I read to one. So when I was offered the chance to review this one, I grabbed it!

I liked this book for several reasons. There are only one to two sentences per page, which is perfect for a short attention span. When even these are too much for attention span of the youngest listeners, there are fun illustrations of Penguin and Tiny Shrimp that can be used to point to and talk about. The illustrations also help to embellish the story for readers who want to spend a little longer with the book—counting the sheep, naming the different animals, etc. And when the child gets a little older and able to read to himself, those short sentences are perfect for an emerging reader! I think we will enjoy this book for several years to come!

This is a thumbs-up read for us! My little guy enjoys it, too!

Purchase Links

IndieBound | HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Cate Berry

Cate Berry is the author of Penguin and Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime! (Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins). It was pinned a Junior Library Guild selection and Publisher’s Weekly called it, “A buoyantly subversive anti-bedtime book.” She has forthcoming publications TBA and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Cate is a faculty member of the Writing Barn and also an active member in the SCBWI and Writers’ League of Texas. She speaks at schools, libraries and conferences year round. Visit her at to learn more. You can follow her on Twitter, @cberrywriter. You can also follow illustrator Charles Santoso: @minitreehouse and the publisher, @balzer+bray and @harperchildrens.

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes.
Cate’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, May 8th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Tuesday, May 15th: Wining Wife
Thursday, May 17th: Time 2 Read
Monday, May 21st: Staircase Wit
Tuesday, May 22nd: Instagram: @_literary_dreamer_
Wednesday, May 23rd: Instagram: @theliteraryllama
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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

Why did you choose this book? This was a book club selection that several of us had on our ‘to read’ list
When did you read this book? May 2018
Who should read this book? Readers who enjoy books on dysfunctional families and books that make you think.
Source: library ebook
My Rating: ★★½    2½ Stars
Bookclub Rating: ★★★★    4Stars

Here is a synopsis of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society from Goodreads

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My Review

I had this one on my TBR for a long time. I’d heard good things about it and it was a recurrent selection for various book clubs hosted by our library system, so I knew I wanted to read it. When our book club realized that several of us had the book on our lists, AND that the movie version is set to be released later this summer, we decided to make it one of our 2018 book club selections..

Sadly, after that build-up I really didn’t enjoy the book much. One thing was the writing style, a epistolary novel written as a series of letters between the main character, Juliet, and other characters in the book. While I think this worked great as an introduction to the story, after a while it became tedious and made it difficult to discern between the characters.

That was another issue for me—keeping the characters straight. In particular, it was hard for me to distinguish between Eben and Dawsey for much of the book. There were just too many characters introduced too early for me to keep them straight.

Another problem for me was the slow pace of the story. Had it not been a selection for my book club, I’m sure I would have given up on it. As it was, I didn’t get finished before my book club meeting, but pushed myself to get to the second part of the book. At that point, the pace picked up, the story got more interesting, and I was able to finish that evening. Unfortunately, just when I finally felt like the story got started—it ended!

The book is classified as historical fiction, but it is not historical fiction at its best. I would classify it as ‘period fiction’; set in a particular period. I didn’t really learn much from the book (other than that Guernsey cows really originated in a place called Guernsey) and I wasn’t inspired to learn more about the period. Admittedly, that may be due to the fact that I read the ‘Deluxe Reading Group Addition’ that was well annotated, giving information about people, events and places mentioned in the book. I actually enjoyed the annotations more than the story! However, that probably slowed my reading and made the story appear more disjointed than it was. I’m not sure whether I’d recommend the annotated edition or not, so use your own judgement here!

One thing I did enjoy were some of the quotes about books that most readers will relate to. Here are a couple I liked.

About a visit to the local bookstore...
“always finding the one book I wanted—and then three more I hadn’t known I wanted”

“It was a sad wrench to part with the Selected Essays of Elia. I had two copies and a dire need of shelf-room, but I felt like a traitor selling it”About giving away a favorite book....

In fairness, I do have to mention that, as often happens, my book club rated the book much differently than I did. There were only four of us in attendance, and the ratings were 4, 4.5, and 5. After finishing the book yesterday, I give it a 2.5, for a book club average rating of 4.

You can visit the publisher’s website to learn more about the authors, read an excerpt, or view a reader's guide.

To learn more about Guernsey and the occupation, click here.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a movie based on the book. It released in the UK last month and on Netflix in August. I think it will translate to film well and be one of the rare cases when I enjoy the movie more than the book.You can learn more about the movie here and view the trailer below.

My rating - 2½ Stars and
Book club rating - 4 Stars with ratings from 2½  to 5.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Review: Same Beach, Next Year

Same Beach, Next Year
by Dorothea Benton Frank

Why I chose this book? I’ve enjoyed other books by this author
When I read this book? April 2018
Who should read this book? Fans of light women’s fiction  
Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating:   ✰✰✰½    3½ Stars

Here is a synopsis of Same Beach, Next Year from TLC Book Tours
New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank returns to her magical Lowcountry of South Carolina in this bewitching story of marriage, love, family, and friendship that is infused with her warm and engaging earthy humor and generous heart.
One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives.
A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.
Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.
Bursting with the intoxicating richness of Dorothea Benton Frank’s beloved Lowcountry—the sultry sunshine, cool ocean breezes, icy cocktails, and starry velvet skies—Same Beach, Next Year is a dazzling celebration of the infrangible power of friendship, the enduring promise of summer, and the indelible bonds of love.

My Review

Same Beach, Next Year is a fun read and a very quick read. I’ve read several other books by this author and enjoyed them, so I was excited to be offered the chance to read and review this one. I’d been reading several nonfiction books including a very thick biography of Ulysses S Grant, so this was a wonderful change of pace for me!

I really enjoyed this book and breezed through it. It was one of those that I promised myself I’d read ‘just one more chapter’ and then stayed up until the wee hours of the morning. I felt like I got to know the characters, warts and all, and I really cared what happened to them. This is a story of friendship. Adam and Eliza are a couple with twin boys who vacation on the beach each summer with friends Eve and Carl and their daughter. The twist? Adam and Eve were high school sweethearts, and the connection is still there! The book traces these years of friendship, including the challenges and the fun, and because it is a good summer read, everything is resolved happily. Along the way, we get to know members of the extended families, complete with their strengths and flaws. Though at times any of these characters could be frustrating, they were also In short, this is a wonderful read to take to the beach for a warm spring weekend!

I’d recommend this to fans of Dorothea Benton Frank and women’s fiction, or anyone looking for a quick summer read. This would make a particularly good summer selection for book clubs, as it is a quick, light read, but still offers much to discuss. There is a reader’s guide with discussion questions in the back of the book, but books clubs will find plenty to discuss even without referring to the guide.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Dorothea Benton Frank
New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.
Find her on the web at, or like her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes.
Dorothea’s Tour Stops

Instagram Stops
Sunday, April 22nd: Instagram: @girlsinbooks
Tuesday, April 24th: Instagram: @prose_and_palate
Wednesday, April 25th: Instagram: @booenetics
Thursday, April 26th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Friday, April 27th: Instagram: @the_need_to_read

Review Stops
Tuesday, April 24th: A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog
Wednesday, April 25th: The Book Date
Thursday, April 26th: The Geeky Bibliophile
Friday, April 27th: Books and Bindings
Monday, April 30th: Instagram: @prose_and_palate
Tuesday, May 1st: Instagram: @booenetics
Wednesday, May 2nd: Staircase Wit
Thursday, May 3rd: Time 2 Read
Monday, May 7th: Wining Wife
Tuesday, May 8: Jessicamap Reviews
Wednesday, May 9th: Bibliotica
Thursday, May 10th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, May 14th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, May 15th: Instagram: @Novelmombooks
Wednesday, May 16th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, May 17th: Always With a Book
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