Monday, September 16, 2019

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Collector's Apprentice, by B.A. Shapiro {ends 9/22}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley
VIVIENNE, 1925

Henri is nominated to sit on the jury for the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh and plans to visit Merion when the competition is over. He reluctantly gives in to Vivienne’s pleas and promises to act as if they are nothing more than friends. But given his propensity for high jinks, she’s far from certain he’s going to keep his promise.

It’s well over ninety the day of his arrival, and Vivienne can’t decide what to wear. She rifles through her closet, which is stuffed with colorful dresses, and then walks to the closet in the second bedroom. Edwin keeps increasing her salary, and she’s been able to buy a small house in Merion, about half a mile from the Bradley. It’s a charming Arts and Crafts cottage, with deep mahogany floors and moldings, a fireplace, and a tiny garden out back, where she’s planted some of Ada’s best bulbs and bushes. It’s nothing like the estate she grew up on, but she’s proud of having purchased it by herself, using money she earned through her own hard work.


I always enjoy historical fiction. In a well-written book like this one, I can feel like I learn some ‘real’ things, while reading a book for entertainment.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Collector's Apprentice, by B.A. Shapiro {ends 9/22}
In this surprising, noirish page-turner, B. A. Shapiro once again takes readers into the world of art, glamour, and mystery. Accused of helping her fiancé steal her family’s fortune and her father’s art collection, Paulien Mertens has fled to France. To protect herself from the law and the wrath of those who lost everything, she has created a new identity. Paulien, aka Vivienne, takes a position working for an American art collector modeled after real-life eccentric museum founder Albert Barnes and quickly becomes caught up in the 1920s Paris of artists and expats, including post-Impressionist painter Henri Matisse and writer Gertrude Stein. From there, she sets out to recover her father’s art collection, prove her innocence, and exact revenge on her ex-fiancé. B. A. Shapiro has made the historical art thriller her own, and once again she gives us an unforgettable tale about what we see—and what we refuse to see.

There were several stories happening at once in this book, and I really enjoyed the way they were told. The chapters alternated between some from the old Paulien’s life, some from the new Vivienne’s life, and some from the court deciding her fate after a new dramatic event unfolds. I loved the development of the character, and how she changed in relation to everything happening around her and with whom she was interacting.

While I usually love a good sequel as well, I can’t see this story going on further. Each of the story lines were neatly wrapped up by the end, which I always appreciate. Once I become engaged with the characters, I don’t want to have to wonder for years what will happen next in their lives.

Overall, I really liked this book. I noticed that the author has several others that look similarly enjoyable. I’d give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley enjoys Cherry Coke, snack foods, embroidery, and reading. She’s found that having a job negatively impacts the time available to enjoy these activities, and the time to post on her own blog, SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a paperback copy of The Collector's Apprentice!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, September 22nd, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the next day via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Paperback copy of The Collector's Apprentice, by B.A. Shapiro

Friday, September 6, 2019

Book Review: No Judgments, by Meg Cabot

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

The closer I got to the shore, the more difficult the roads leading to it became to navigate. What was normally a fifteen-minute scooter ride took over an hour, because I kept having to back down a street once I’d started up it, due to fallen trees or power lines I couldn’t get by, even on a motorbike.

But one thing I did not encounter were any hostile predators, despite Ed’s predictions. In fact, I met the opposite. Thoughtful locals who lived in the area had already generously marked places where electric lines were down or hanging low, tying brightly colored bandannas or even plastic bags around the wires so anyone passing by wouldn’t run over or into them.

I have enjoyed every Meg Cabot book I’ve read, so I was excited to get a jump on this one. It was even more amusing when the hurricane-watch news from the book was matching up with my Facebook feed from friends in Florida! Yikes!

Official synopsis:
Book Review: No Judgments, by Meg Cabot
The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…

When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.


No Judgments (the first book in the new Little Bridge Island series) was a fun read, even if I considered it a bit predictable. Introduce girl, show "bad boy" whom she doesn’t want to be interested in – think that’ll be her love interest? Ding, ding, ding! Luckily I usually read for pure entertainment, not to try and outsmart anyone and see who can guess the ending first.

Without spoiling anything, there were a few character quirks, and at least one complete character, who surprised me a little with their appearance in the story. I’m glad this is the first book in a series so hopefully we can find out more about these unexpected developments. I also enjoyed the descriptions of life on the island, including their homes and the type of people who lived there.

Overall, I’d give this one 3 out of 5 stars. Nothing I had to think too much about, but a pleasant read for a few hours of entertainment. I’d never turn down a chance to read a book by Meg Cabot, with her chatty, engaging writing style.

{click here to pre-order - it will be in stores and online on September 24, 2019.}

Becki Bayley has no history of exciting island romances, but likes to read and pretend they could have been a thing. Her real life is lazily chronicled at SweetlyBSquared.com.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

GIVEAWAY: Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, by Heather Webber {ends 9/11}

I haven't yet read Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe yet, but it sounds like my type of book. One of my lucky readers will win a hardcover copy!

About the novel:
GIVEAWAY: Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, by Heather Webber {ends 9/11}
Though she has been award-nominated for her mysteries, Heather Webber now turns to something quite unique with her latest novel: MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFÉ (Forge Hardcover; On-sale: July 16, 2019). It's a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town Southern charm, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen. So pull up a comfortable chair, enjoy some tasty pie, and get ready to immerse yourself in the world of MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFÉ.

This beautifully told tale takes us to a small town in Alabama, where a young woman returns after the death of her beloved grandmother, who owned the titular Blackbird Cafe. Anna Kate soon finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly. 


Click here to purchase this book.

GIVEAWAY:

Enter to win via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, September 11th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be chosen and notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Hardcover copy of Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, by Heather Webber

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