Just published: It Started with a Secret by Jill Mansell

For me, this novel provides a perfect escapist read; it has appealing settings, multiple characters and plot lines, complications, resolutions…and of course, love.
Settings: The story opens and ends in France at a beautiful chateau that has become a hotel. Much happens between two visits to that countryside. The rest of the novel takes place in the U.K., partly in Cornwall, a place that comes vividly into being with the water, the cafes, the shops, etc. Readers also spend time in other locations including Bristol. (I enjoyed my visit back to the suspension bridge via the book.)
So many characters: Lainey and Kit: Good friends who come to work for a family in Cornwall. They pretend to be a married couple to get the job. Will they be discovered? What will happen then? Who does each belong with?
Sir Richard: an eighty-year old well-loved actor who is egotistical, eccentric and was a playboy. What surprising new relationship will come to him?
Majella: the widow of Sir Richard’s son. She does her scattered best to take care of her children while hoping to move on to a new romance. FYI: She has some real clunkers of dates. Majella’s children are secondary characters and each has his/her own personality.
Seth: he runs a tourist agency that readers will wish was real. A ladies man, he has never found “the one.” Will he by the end of the story? Also, is there something to know about his parentage?
Wyatt: He proposed to the lovely Penny who turns him down. Why? Will he ultimately be happier? Will she?
There are many strands to tie together over the course of the novel as readers watch the characters deal with the secrets in their lives. Throughout, Ms. Mansell has a light touch and kept me happily turning the pages.
Many years ago when I first ordered a book to be sent to me via the wonders of the internet and international purchasing, I picked a Jill Mansell title. This author’s ability to combine humor and heart have not diminished over her many publications.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.

Now out: Remain Silent A Manon Bradshaw Novel by Susie Steiner

Remain Silent is the third book in Susie Steiner’s Manon Bradshaw mystery series. I very much enjoyed this author’s first two novles in the series and was eager to read this one as well.
Remain Silent is, in some ways, a very tough read. It is the second book that I have finished recently that has a theme centering on the plight of illegal immigrants. Ms. Steiner portrays what happens to these characters including Matis, Lukas and others, with such brutal reality that it was painful to read. The message is an important one however and something that needs to be considered.
Manon herself can be acerbic, funny and a woman who makes many pithy parenthetical statements. In this book, Manon is overwhelmed with challenges. She has a young son, a teenaged son and a partner, Mark, who is in the hospital. Manon’s lament on how she wishes that she had been treating Mark better will strike a chord with anyone who has faced challenges in a relationship.
Around all of this, of course, there is a mystery. The murder is that of one of the immigrants and Manon is tasked with solving the case. Readers who have read the series will welcome back characters on her team including Davy.

The afterword by the author reveals some of what she, herself, has been experiencing and this, too, has been quite sad and difficult.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in an excellent series in exchange for an honest review. I hope that Ms. Steiner will continue writing. She is a talented and clear eyed author.

Rejoice: Snow Song by A. K. Riley

When I was in college my closest friend was from Florida.  She has never seen snow until she came to school in New England.  It was magical for her.

The feelings of magic and possibility are both beautifully conveyed in this title that shows the day of a child when it snows.  The illustrations are soft, sweet, delightful and engaging.  The text is a paean to the glories, beauty, poetry and fun of a snowy day.

This book will make a fine addition to a young child’s library.  Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.

Pub date:  October 6, 2020

Now in paperback: The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan

The Spies of Shilling Lane: A NovelI read and enjoyed The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir so was thrilled to be offered this e-galley from NetGalley and the publisher.

This novel takes place during WWII. I duly note how many recent historical novels have taken place during this era. Nonetheless, I found this to be one that was a good read.

The novel’s protagonist, Mrs. Braithwaite, (a woman of a certain age), has tried to live her life very much in accord with convention and awareness of social status. She is dethroned from her position as head of the WI early in the book. Over the subsequent course of the novel Mrs. B changes from an unlikable character to a woman with more nuance.

Mrs. B’s emotional and real journeys put her in contact with the unassuming Mr. Norris. Together they move away from their comfort zones, begin thinking more of others and have adventures. Yes, belief must be suspended but one roots for them nonetheless.

There are several story lines that show Mrs. B’s emotional growth. One has to do with a young teacher injured in a bombing raid while another takes place during the blackout in a supposedly safe haven that becomes flooded. The reader also comes to understand Mrs. B’s biography and how it led her to be the person that she was.

There are spies and plots along with counter plots and a depiction of war-torn London. There are the beginnings of a gentle love between the protagonists and other hearts that have been broken.

Mrs. Braithwaite reminds me a bit of Mrs. Bird, the eponymous character in one of 2018’s debut novels. However, unlike Mrs. Bird, Mrs. Braithwaite has the capacity to change.

I enjoyed this novel. Again, thanks to NetGalley and publisher.

A few other WWII books that I have blogged on:

This Bird Soars Dear Mrs. Bird

A (de)light to read: Light Over London

the prisoner in the castle

To help children feel calm and centered: I Am, I Can 365 affirmations for kids by Wynne Kinder

The time is just right for this book.  It will help children to feel calm, centered and good about themselves.  These are all qualities that will enhance young lives and help kids to cope during our current time of crisis.

The author recalls learning a mantra from her mom when she was young.  This helped her to see the ways in which words can make a difference.  She has grown up to write a helpful book.

This title is divided by months with each month having a theme.  Some of those chosen by the author are Positivity, Growth, Love, Family and Friendship, and Generosity.  Each month has a saying for each day and there are also activities. These include making a coping wheel, for instance. The photos and artwork have been well chosen to enhance the text.

This seems to me to be a positive, self-enhancing title.  I recommend it for children that you know.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.

Pub date:  August 11, 2020

#IAmICan #NetGalley

Recently published: Cat’s Cafe A Comics Collection by Matt Tarpley

#CatsCafe #NetGalley

I adore this sweet cartoon collection. Cat runs such a helpful cafe for his many featured friends, who each also are the subjects of some of their own cartoons. Coffee lovers will enjoy the many coffee themed strips as Cat takes care of his customers.

This book touches on some universal feelings and truths with its warm humor. I highly recommend it. I feel so much better for visiting Cat’s care.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.