A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas

  • Title:  A Conspiracy in Belgravia
  • Series:  The Lady Sherlock Series, #2
  • Author:  Sherry Thomas
  • Pages:  319
  • Genre:  Historical Mystery
  • Published:  September 2017 –  Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Being shunned by Society gives Charlotte Holmes the time and freedom to put her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for the new client who arrives at her Upper Baker Street office.

Lady Ingram, wife of Charlotte’s dear friend and benefactor, wants Sherlock Holmes to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as the missing man is none other than Myron Finch, her illegitimate half-brother.

In the meanwhile, Charlotte wrestles with a surprising proposal of marriage, a mysterious stranger woos her sister Livia, and an unidentified body surfaces where least expected. Charlotte’s investigative prowess is challenged as never before: Can she find her brother in time—or will he, too, end up as a nameless corpse somewhere in the belly of London? (publisher)

My take:  After being compromised, Charlotte Holmes finds herself exactly where she wanted to be – out from under the expectations of her parents and the rest of Victorian society. She’s been able to find her place in the world at Upper Baker Street and among friends. Our Miss Holmes is quite resourceful and blessed with amazing powers of deduction as well as a good supply of wits and the ability to bluff her way through various situations. There are some (well, at least one – in the form of a certain Lord) who are on to her. She’s okay with that fact and is happy in her new life. This particular novel is filled with family, cryptic codes, and a dead body or two. Miss Holmes is up to the challenge of solving all and I enjoyed following her path to doing so. I look forward to reading more about Charlotte, Lord Ingram and their adventures. If you haven’t already, it would be helpful to read the first book in the series to get the back story on Charlotte.


 

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US Giveaway (galley copy): Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

I’ll be reading this novel in the fall and will be part of a blog tour at that time. The publisher has made available a review galley for a lucky US reader now!  The following content was provided by the publisher:

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A week is a long time to spend with your family.

Now imagine being quarantined with them over Christmas.

 

That’s the delicious premise in SEVEN DAYS OF US, about a dysfunctional British family forced into quarantine together. Eldest daughter Olivia, a doctor, has just returned from treating a life-threatening virus in Africa and must spend seven days in quarantine. Her family, forced into lockdown with her, decides to spend the week in their crumbling and isolated country manor, Weyfield Hall. Each arrives carrying secrets and simmering resentments.

With the Birch family under one roof for the first time in years, keeping secrets is no longer an option. And when a shocking, unexpected visitor arrives, the family’s pressurized state will boil over, spilling problems—and possibly the deadly virus—outside the gates of Weyfield Hall.

In residence with Olivia are her unabashedly frivolous younger sister Phoebe, fixated on her upcoming wedding; father Andrew, sequestered in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and longing for his glory days as a war correspondent; and sweet bumbling matriarch Emma, who’s hiding a secret that will turn the whole family upside down. Anyone who loves their family—in small doses—will relate to the inner thoughts of each character.


US Giveaway

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GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Giveaway ends on August 21, 2017


The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

  • Title:  The Sunshine Sisters
  • Author:  Jane Green
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  June 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all… (publisher)

My take:  Jane Green’s newest novel is about a family of women: A narcissistic mother in failing health and her three grown daughters who want nothing to do with her or each other.  She sees a chance to change things by bringing her girls together before she dies.

Nell, Meredith and Lizzy know something is up when their mother requests they come home immediately. It’s not a problem for Nell who lives nearby but Meredith lives and works in London and Lizzy is incredibly busy with her pop-up restaurant venture in New York. They drop everything and head home to see what’s going on. The sisters will soon discover things about themselves, their mother and each other.

I liked this novel for its good intentions. It touches on a few serious topics while managing to keep a fairly light tone. But a few things seemed a bit pat – most notably with one daughter’s life going in an unexpected direction almost overnight. I didn’t have a problem with that direction, just how fast it happened. That issue aside, I recommend The Sunshine Sisters as a light read for fans of domestic fiction and Jane Green.


 

One Good Thing by Wendy Wax

  • Title:  One Good Thing
  • Series:  Ten Beach Road #5
  • Author:  Wendy Wax
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  April 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Before you can fix it up, you might have to tear it down…
Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships. 
 
Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and deal with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bedrest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can’t quite believe love can last, or trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son’s famous father that comes with far too many strings attached…
 
But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other—and their dreams—from crumbling. (publisher)

My take:  One Good Thing is the latest book in Wendy Wax’s Ten Beach Road series. The four women – Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra – are at a crossroads with their Do Over home refurb tv show. They are trapped in a horrible contract with the tv network that took their show and turned it into an embarrassing reality show. They want to find a way out of the contract and maintain control of the show. The odds don’t look good.

Individually each woman is facing life-altering change. They will rely on one another to help get through the challenges. I’ve enjoyed this series so much because it features women of all ages and experience in a realistic and positive way. The Florida setting is so inviting and I love the home refurb storylines. I like the parallel of the women’s lives being improved while they renovate homes.

There were a few unresolved storylines at the conclusion of One Good Thing so I’m hopeful the series will continue. I suppose this novel could stand alone but so much context will be gained if you read from the beginning. Recommended.


Fan favorite and USA Today bestselling author Wendy Wax is known for transporting readers to beautiful seaside locations with her smart, fun and utterly compelling stories. Inspired by her childhood summers and set on the backdrop of St. Petersburg, Florida, Wax’s Ten Beach Road series is equal parts authentic and charming.

Praise for the novels of Wendy Wax

“[Wax] writes with breezy wit and keen insight.”—The Atlanta Journal Constitution 

“If you’re a sucker for plucky women who rise to the occasion, this is for you.”—USA Today

 “Wax offers her trademark form of fiction, the beach read with substance.”—Booklist 

 “Wax really knows how to make a cast of characters come alive.”—RT Book Reviews


About ONE GOOD THING:

In her fifth and most exciting book yet, Wax returns to her Ten Beach Road series with ONE GOOD THING (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; April 25, 2017; $16). Picking up where Sunshine Beach left off, fans of the series will delight in catching up with familiar beloved characters and new readers will have no problem sinking into this witty and heartwarming story about loyalty, friendship and the secrets that test those bonds.

Sure to resonate with readers of Elin Hilderbrand and Jane Green, ONE GOOD THING is a warm and insightful look at love and the bonds of true friendship.


The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

  • Title:  The Garden of Small Beginnings
  • Author:  Abbi Waxman
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  May 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  It’s been three years since her husband was killed in a car accident and Lilian is still getting used to being sane—after that one early breakdown. She’s happy just being able to get her two girls to school every morning, keep her illustrating job, and catch up on her favorite TV shows with her sister. She’s not exactly in a rut; she’s just letting the grass grow under her feet.

But then Lilian’s boss asks her to illustrate a vegetable encyclopedia and signs her up for a vegetable-gardening class. Lilian reluctantly agrees and recruits her kids and sister to join her for some drama-free Saturday mornings, because what could be more relaxing than gardening? Nothing…except that this class is filled with people who like to dig a little deeper than the surface, and an instructor who makes Lillian want to bloom for the first time in years. 

With her fellow newbie gardeners, Lilian learns what it takes to nurture plants—and friendships. Digging in the dirt, with worms and all, teaches Lilian that sometimes you have to let nature take its course, be it in gardening, in life, or in love…  (publisher)

My take:  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much while reading a novel. I also teared up several times when author Abbi Waxman zinged me with moments that cut to the core of human emotion.

Lilian is a thirty-something widowed mother of two. Her husband died in a tragic accident four years earlier and she’s been wading through grief ever since.  Lilian is an illustrator for a small press. Her boss enrolls Lili in a gardening class in preparation for illustrating a vegetable encyclopedia. That class will transform the lives of Lili and her daughters – and everyone else involved in the class.

I adored the people who took the gardening class. Each one had an interesting story and as a group they were lovely – kind of like a wonderful summer salad.

Highly recommended to fans of contemporary fiction, laugh-out-loud moments, and a heartfelt story.