Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen

Title:  Royal Blood (Royal Spyness, #4)

Author:  Rhys Bowen

Genre:  Mystery

Published:  September 2011 – Penguin Group

About:  (Goodreads synopsis) With her hateful brother Binky in town, Lady Georgiana has been desperately seeking an escape. So when an invitation from the Queen arrives to represent the royals at a wedding in Transylvani-legendary home of vampires-Georgiana is delighted to accept. But when the bride starts acting a little batty and a prominent wedding guest is poisoned, something must be done lest the couple’s vows become “till undeath do they part…”

My take:  This was such a fun mystery. The author takes us from foggy London to snowy Transylvania via car, ship and train. Lady Georgiana (34th in line to the throne) is a charming character who finds herself representing the royal family at the wedding of distant relatives where she winds up being a suspect in a murder at the castle.

Royal Blood had the feel of an Agatha Christie mystery. There were several possible suspects and just when I thought I had it figured out another possibility would pop up – along with another dead body!

Rhys Bowen has a new fan in me. I love the settings, her entertaining characters, and the situations they find themselves in. This is the second book I’ve read by Bowen and I’m very pleased to know she has an immense backlist. Recommended to fans of Rhys Bowen and cozy British mysteries.

Source:  Jane Rotrosen Agency

Spotlight on Love Lies Bleeding by Jess McConkey

Book blurb: Samantha Moore was the golden girl with the perfect job, the perfect life, the perfect man. Until a random act of violence left her unconscious for two months. But the Sam who awakens from a coma is far different from the woman she once was. This new Sam is bitter and in terrible pain, forced to endure a diet of medications that make her sick, forgetful, paranoid, and struggling to hold a firm grasp on reality.

When her family sends her to a quiet town to recover, Sam is furious that they’ve put her under a physical therapist’s care and taken away what little freedom she had. Enraged, she lashes out at the nice people who say they are there to help her and that her outbursts are just the byproduct of her condition. Or are they? As strange things begin to happen, it becomes clear that Sam’s fears may not all be in her head, and that the friendly inhabitants of her new town are far more secretive – and deadly – than they appear to be…

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A few days before our daughter’s wedding the family gathered to celebrate our nephew’s 13th birthday.

Friends of my son-in-law’s family offered their cottage (and kayaks) to our family for the day.

Nieces and nephews, daughters, son-in-law and friends used the boat and kayaks to reach this spot and enjoyed being splashed by the Atlantic waves. It was a wonderful day – fun memories.

Coming Up For Air by Patti Callahan Henry

Title:  Coming Up For Air

Author:  Patti Callahan Henry

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  August 2011, St. Martin’s Press

About:  (from the Goodreads synopsis) Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband – between her reality and the woman she wants to be – she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life.

But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary – and a window onto stories buried long ago.

My take:  I enjoyed Ellie’s journey of discovery about her mother and herself. While searching for answers about her mother Ellie faces facts about her own life and what it could be.

The setting is lush and, for the most part, the characters are endearing. Characters and plot aside, I think my favorite part of the novel was learning about a jubilee – that time when conditions are right and sea life come up for air. It served as a metaphor for Ellie’s life and her journey.

This is a book I think many women, especially women who’ve married and raised a family, will understand. I’m not saying it’s every woman’s story but there are emotions and aspects that I believe many of us can relate to. I’ve found that to be true  with most of Patti Callahan Henry’s novels and that’s why I’m a fan.

Source:  Wunderkind PR

To Be Queen by Christy English

Title:  To Be Queen – A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Author:  Christy English

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Published:  April 2011, NAL Trade

About:  (from Goodreads synopsis) After her father’s sudden death, fifteen-year-old Eleanor is quickly crowned Duchess of Aquitaine and betrothed to King Louis VII. When her new husband cannot pronounce her given name, Alienor becomes Eleanor, Queen of France.

Although Louis is enamored of his bride, the newly crowned king is easily manipulated by the church and a God that Eleanor doesn’t believe in. Now, if she can find the strength to fight for what she wants, Eleanor may finally find the passion she has longed for, and the means to fulfill her legacy as Queen.

My take:  When I was a kid I remember being blown away by Katharine Hepburn’s portrayal of Eleanor in The Lion in Winter. So when I was offered a copy of To Be Queen I jumped at the chance to read about the young Eleanor of Aquitaine. I’m so glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

To Be Queen is the story of Eleanor’s quest to be Queen of France and by doing so protecting herself and her people. It would also  fulfill her promise to her father. Eleanor is a strong and logical woman – which makes the men of the Church dislike her very much. Her husband King Louis is her opposite. He was raised by priests and trusts whatever they tell him. That being so, he does love Eleanor and tries to be a good husband despite being a weak man.

Eleanor soon realizes that she can only trust herself and a few select people. That’s how she lives the next several years with Louis. Although she tries to be a good wife and Queen, it’s a life that disappoints Eleanor. She’s such a strong and vital woman but is now relegated to trying to produce a male heir and not much else. When that doesn’t happen she realizes she has to take matters into her own hands. She will be responsible for her future.

Christy English wrote a wonderful novel. I enjoyed learning about the first part of Eleanor’s life and I’ll definitely seek out more of Ms. English’s books to read in the future. She kept me turning the pages into the wee hours. I recommend To Be Queen to fans of historical fiction.

Source:  From the author.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Title:  What Alice Forgot

Author:  Liane Moriarty

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Published:  April 2011 – Putnam

About:  (Goodreads synopsis)  Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she’s actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. 

A knock on the head has misplaced ten years of her life, and Alice isn’t sure she likes who she’s become. It turns out, though, that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that has ever happened to Alice.

My take:  What Alice Forgot is one of the more enjoyable novels I’ve read this year. It started slowly which I appreciated since it let me experience what the main character must have felt – she was not quite sure of completely confused by what was going on. As the story moved along I became invested and before the half-way point I knew how I wanted it to end – but I wasn’t sure it would.

Liane Moriarty wrote characters I could relate to or, at the very least, I could understand their actions. The person I identified with most was Alice. I can’t imagine not remembering the births of my children, a change in my relationship with my husband, or a drastic change in my persona. That’s what Alice has to deal with and I was pulling for her the whole time. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. Except – I think you should read it 🙂

I’m so glad my book club selected What Alice Forgot. Highly recommended to anyone who loves to get lost in an entertaining novel.

Source:  I bought it.