Little Big Love by Katy Regan

Little Big Love by Katy Regan

February 2019 – Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint

Book provided by Berkley

Description:  Liam Jones was the love of Juliet’s life. He was her brother’s best friend, then her best friend, then the father of her little boy. In those shining weeks after Zac was born, she had never been happier and neither had Liam.
 
And then one night, Liam disappeared without a trace.
 
Ten-year-old Zac Hutchinson collects facts: octopuses have three hearts, Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth. But no one will tell him what happened to his father and where he went.
 
When Juliet, inadvertently admits that his father is the only man she’s ever loved, Zac decides he is going to find him and deliver his mom the happily ever after she deserves.

But Liam left for a reason, and as Zac searches for clues of his father, Juliet begins to rebuild what shattered so many years ago.
 
An unforgettable, heart-stopping story of the secrets we keep and of love in all of its many forms. (publisher)

My take:  Ten-year-old Zac loves to learn facts – about everything. His favorite book is a tome of facts. Lately he’s been wanting to discover the facts about his father. He and his best friend Teagan make it their mission to get answers to questions he’s asked (in his mind) for a long time. Little by little he’ll learn the true facts from various sources – but at what cost?

Katy Regan’s novel really tugged at my heartstrings.  I couldn’t help but cheer for Zac and Teagan – wanted to reach through the pages and hug them. Their individual stories are heartbreaking yet hopeful. The inner strength and resilience they show is remarkable. One might expect those qualities from adults but these children shine in the novel.

This is a story about facts and truth and how the same truth is usually different for everyone. We hang on to the truth that helps us get by – but sometimes that’s not enough. As serious as that sounds, there are many moments of levity. I really liked this novel and recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction about living with grief and overcoming difficult circumstances.


 

Advertisements

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Mission Critical by Mark Greaney

Description

The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

Published February 2019 – Atria Books

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:  When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full-scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion. (publisher)

My take:  It’s been a while since I visited 16th century Italy in a historical fiction novel so when I had the opportunity to read The Chef’s Secret I was excited to begin the adventure. Author Crystal King’s novel is replete with opulent settings, rich and detailed food descriptions, and the passion of her characters.

I liked the dual-storylines of Italy’s most famous chef (he served Popes, Kings and other notables of the time) and the heir he hoped would follow in his culinary footsteps. Upon the death of his uncle, Giovanni received boxes that contained journals. The mostly encoded journals of Bartolomeo Scappi not only developed the characters but also unleashed long-held secrets that would put Gio in certain danger. All combined for an entertaining read that I can recommend to fans of historical fiction and the Renaissance era.


 

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

Lake Union Publishing – February 2019

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  While World War I rages on the European continent, young Emily Bryce is getting restless under the thumb of her over-protective parents in Devonshire. Her best friend Clarissa is serving as a nurse at the front while Emily has been kept at home visiting wounded officers at a local convalescent hospital. There she meets a young rough-around-the-edges Australian pilot and falls in love with him, much to her parents’ chagrin. What’s more, Emily decides to finally set off on her own and contribute to the war effort, becoming a member of the Women’s Land Army, a post her mother finds most unsuitable. (publisher)

My take:  Emily Bryce has led a sheltered life. When she turns 21 she’s determined to do more to help her country which is in the midst of WWI. She joins the Women’s Land Army and learns to work with her hands. She meets a vast array of women who will become more family than acquaintances.

There’s a character who, near the end of the novel, says “We’ve no idea what we can do until we try.”  For me, that was the underlying tone of the novel. It’s a story about people who rose to the occasion. I loved Emily’s spirit and felt her emotional highs and lows throughout the story. She possessed an admirable strength of character.

Rhys Bowen’s novel explores the personal losses experienced during the war, new paths to travel in life, and a bit of a mystery to be solved. I loved learning about the Women’s Land Army. The Victory Garden is a satisfying work of historical fiction that I’m happy to recommend to fans of the genre and Rhys Bowen.


About the author:

Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of 40 mystery novels. Her work includes In Farleigh Field and The Tuscan Child, both standalone novels about World War II; the Molly Murphy mysteries, set in 1900s New York City; the Royal Spyness novels, featuring a minor royal in 1930s England; and the Constable Evans mysteries about a police constable in contemporary Wales. Rhys’s works have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and MacAvity awards, and In Farleigh Field was a 2018 Edgar Award nominee and Lefty Award winner. Rhys is a transplanted Brit who now divides her time between California and Arizona. Connect with her at rhysbowen.com


Praise for Rhys Bowen:

“Rhys Bowen is one of the very best fiction writers of the day. With a deep understanding of the wounded human heart, and an uncanny ability to capture the quiet emotions and the grand scale of war, she rises above her contemporaries.”
Louise Penny, New York Times bestselling author


 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

    

Last week on Bookfan:

   

Reading plan for this week:

I was at my mom’s house last week so there wasn’t much time for reading. 

Some exciting news: the closing on my parents’ Arizona house was Friday. We had a wonderful realtor who made selling a house a thousand miles away surprisingly easy. 


 

The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

Published: February 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: A young widow embraces a second chance at life when she reconnects with those who understand the sacrifices made by American soldiers and their families in award-winning author Laura Trentham’s The Military Wife.

Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.

Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children underfoot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.

In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.

In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts? (publisher)

My take: The Military Wife is an emotional novel about Harper Lee Wilcox, a widow with a young son. She’s still coming to grips with the tragic loss of her husband while trying to provide a normal life for her son. When she meets with a man who survived the mission that claimed her husband she hopes to find the answers she’s sought for so many years. She’ll find much more. Along the way she gets an opportunity to repay a kindness to another military wife and that opens up the possibility to help more. The Military Wife is a story of honor, loss and second chances. I really liked it and look forward to the next book since this is billed as the first of a series.


About the author:

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.


Buy-Book Links: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250145536