A seasonal story

There are innumerable Christmas romance stories published every year. Readers look forward to these as pleasant holiday distractions. I found it delightful to have a Jewish themed story be out there for holiday readers.

The protagonist of this novel is a Jewish writer who adores writing Christmas romances. What will happen when she is tasked with writing a Hanukkah themed story? And, what will happen when her own love life is thrown into the mix? And what is a Matzah ball when it’s not in soup? Read this title to find out!

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this read. All opinions are my own.

The Women’s March by Jennifer Chiaverini

#TheWomensMarch #NetGalley

Pub Date 27 Jul 2021  

I must confess that I did not know nearly as much as I thought I did about the movement that led to the (eventual) right for women to vote in the United States. I was aware of those who started the movement both the U.S. and England but I was familiar with only one of the three women featured in this novel.

The three are Alice Paul, Ida Wells and Maud Malone. Each has her life story told against the vivid backdrop of the politics of the day and their individual histories.

Alice Paul was raised as a Quaker; Ida Wells knew much about slavery, and Maud Malone was an Irish American librarian. What led each of these women to fight so hard for something that many now take for granted? Jennifer Chiaverini helps readers to understand why they worked persistently for what they believed in.

These three are not the only ones who appear in the book. To name just two others, there are Jane Addams and Ava Vanderbilt.

The history that Alice, Ida and Maud lived through comes to life in this novel. I was especially struck by all that Ida Wells endured including the impact of yellow fever on her life, the lynchings of people that she knew and much more.

Around these women are the men, many of whom wanted to thwart votes for women. They included President Wilson. Will the women succeed in organizing a massive march for the day before his inaugural? Read this one to find out.

I found The Women’s March to be among my very favorite books by this author. I learned a lot but did not feel that I was being lectured to.

This historical fiction should be on reading lists for high school students and up. It would make a superb book club selection.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

 The Windsor Knot

A NOVEL

by SJ Bennett is an e book bargain for 11.26.21

The Windsor Knot: The Queen investigates a murder in this delightfully clever mystery for fans of The Thursday Murder Club

#TheWindsorKnot #NetGalley

Please note that this review is for the unabridged audio of this title. It will be released in the U.S. in March. The book is out in the U.K.

Right now, many are absorbed in watching the latest season of The Crown. There is a lot of back and forth about what is true and what is fictional drama. Well, as far as I know, The Windsor Knot is totally fiction about the monarch as detective.

This is an absolutely delightful and enjoyable title and one that I recommend highly for an escapist break. Give it a try.

In The Windsor Knot, there are murder, mysterious Russians, ballet dancers, Chinese speakers, a very likeable Nigerian aide to the Queen called Rosie, various government and palace workers, family members of the Queen, visiting dignitaries, including Obama and more. All are engagingly portrayed.

The character of the queen feels pitch perfect. She is portrayed as a woman well aware of her role and importance but also as someone with an interior life, likes and dislikes. She is a detective who uses her access to information and her Poirot like gray cells to solve the case.

The narrator of the audio book is just splendid. She captures the characters and accents with aplomb and individual voices. I was only sorry when I had to part with her at the end of this title.

Put this one on your TBR or TBL (to be listened to) pile. Enjoy! It is part of a series so there is more to come.

Band of Sisters

A NOVEL

by Lauren Willig is an e book bargain for 11.26.21

#BandofSisters #NetGalley

Pub Date 02 Mar 2021   

Lauren Willig has written many novels including those in her Pink Carnation series. This title is based on true events; during WWI a unit of Smith College graduates traveled to France to offer aid and assistance. These real life volunteers are acknowledged at the beginning of the novel.

The book’s protagonist, Kate, was a scholarship student at Smith. This experience left her with an excellent education and some feelings of insecurity despite her friendship with the wealthy, Emmie. A few years after graduation, Emmie recruits Kate to be one of the fictional band of sisters of the title. These “sisters” include the married woman in charge of the volunteers, two female physicians and the other Smithies. Their experiences in France and the interrelationships of the characters form the basis for the story.

This book has an interesting premise and the story is well told. I especially enjoyed the letters that begin each chapter. My only quibble was that, at times, it was a bit difficult to differentiate the characters. Many, but not all, had a trait or relationship that helps the reader to keep track.

Willig includes information at the novel on her historical sources and the ways in which her own education led to the writing of this title.

Of note: I alternated between listening to the audio of this title and reading it. The audio was well produced and engaging. It is so nice to be able to follow a story by doing both. Also, I note the beautiful cover of the novel; it drew me in.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title. All opinions are my own.

Return to Virgin River by Robyn Carr is an e book bargain for 11.26.21

#ReturntoVirginRiver #NetGalley

Robyn Carr wrote her first Virgin River novel back in 2007. Many books followed before Ms. Carr moved to other series including Thunder Point and Sullivan’s Crossings. Perhaps the author was inspired to return to Virgin Riven because of the TV series that is now on Netflix. Whatever the motivation, long term readers of the Virgin River novels will undoubtedly be happy to return. They know that they can count on good people, a nice community and a love story.

This novel is about Kaylee and Landry. Kaylee is an author of suspense novels who is experiencing writer’s block following the death of her mother. Through family friends, she chooses to travel to Virgin River in the hope that she will finish her novel. No spoiler to say that she does and even that she moves into a new genre, that she falls in love and that some unexpected things happen to her. That is the Virgin River formula.

Kaylee’s romantic foil is Landry, an artist and dog trainer. He helps Kaylee to overcome her fear of dogs and to move forward even as she recognizes that she will always miss her mom.

The relationship that Kaylee had with her mom is lovingly described and maybe even idealized a bit. I suspect that many readers will wish for the same closeness, acceptance and encouragement that Kaylee’s mom gave her.

There are other characters in Kaylee’s orbit but readers will perhaps most enjoy that the names of all the characters from the earlier novels are called out here. While many make an appearance, it is Jack and Mel who are most featured.

As an extra treat, the story is seasonal. Readers will enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas in this most perfect of towns. I especially enjoyed the description of the tree lighting.

This is a sweet novel. I don’t know if Robyn Carr will write about Virgin River again. Regardless, this novel is a gift to her fans.

An additional bonus in the novel is a section describing the making of the TV series and Ms. Carr’s visit to the set. There is also a long excerpt from one of her other novels.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title. All opinions are my own.

Let’s explore: London’s Great Railway Stations

by Oliver Green

#LondonsGreatRailwayStations #NetGalley

Of course, England had a big hand in the Industrial Revolution and the arrival of railroads. The British sure knew how to build stations that, all these years later, still impress. They can add pleasure and excitement to a journey.

A number of sites are featured in this title. I immediately tested the book by looking for St. Pancras and Kings Cross because I have spent time in them. Sure enough, they are here along with many others including Paddington, London Bridge, Charing Cross and a number of others.

This title is packed with photos, maps and texts. If its subject matter is of interest, this is highly recommended.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Get to know Soomi: Soomi’s Sweater

by Susie Oh

#SoomisSweater #NetGalley

I think that it would be hard NOT to fall in love with Soomi. The illustrator of this story makes her so sweet and appealing. The story itself is simple but has some themes that are important; these include wanting things maybe at the wrong time, the importance of the intended helpfulness of friends even when this does not quite hit the mark, feeling one’s emotions, being able to tell a parent something hard and the ability to fix things and make them better. All of this told through the story of a sweater. Highly recommended.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.