Friday, May 27, 2022

Book Review - Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

My Review

Bloomsbury Girls is a historical novel set in post-war London. Bloomsbury Books is a wonderful, old fashioned bookstore that needs just a bit of change. That change may come in the form of three female employees: Vivien Lowry, an ambitious and forward thinking young woman whose fiance was killed in World War II;  Grace Perkins, a young mother who is working to support her family; and Evie Stone, a bright, very young woman who didn't find her place in academia. 

I wanted to read this book because I love historical fiction, especially books centering on this time period. I worked in bookstores for years, sell vintage books, and found the bookstore setting immensely appealing.

This is such a lovely, engrossing book!  I can't believe I haven't read The Jane Austen Society, which evidently is linked to this story, but now I clearly have to. 

The author does a wonderful job at setting the time and place. She has three distinctly different protagonists, but they are all fully realized characters, appealing and interesting in their own way. I found Vivien's story particularly compelling and especially enjoyed her storyline - which included meeting literary figures like Daphne Du Maurier.

I like the framework of the novel, with chapters that begin with a rule from the bookstore, i.e. "Rule No. 27  Fraternizing with customers outside the shop is strictly prohibited" (eBook location 1311). Of course, the following chapter relates to each rule.

I have already started telling friends about Bloomsbury Girls, which I enthusiastically recommend for fans of historical fiction, especially for anyone who loves bookstores and a bookish setting.

Book Synopsis

Natalie Jenner, the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world in Bloomsbury Girls.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiance was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances--most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she's been working to support the family following her husband's breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she's working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time--Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others--these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

Author Bio

Natalie Jenner is the author of two books, the instant international bestseller THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY (2020) and the forthcoming BLOOMSBURY GIRLS (2022). A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for best historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller, and has been sold for translation in twenty-one countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

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Book Review - 100 Days of Adventure: Nature Activities, Creative Projects, and Field Trips for Every Season by Greta Eskridge

My Review

100 Days of Adventure is a big, colorful book for children, parents, and teachers.  It has experiments, crafts, and recipes that are fun and accessible to do at home, when traveling, or in the backyard.  Many of the activities are free or low cost. The book is geared toward children ages 6 to 10.

I wanted to read this book because I enjoyed working for years in preschool, afterschool, and summer camp settings. I often review books for children here.

First: this is a great looking book! It is illustrated by Emily Paik. The cover is bright and appealing, and similar artwork appears throughout the book. 

This is a unique book. It could be read as a family or by children who have an adventurous spirit and good reading skills.  The book is divided by seasons with fun activities for every time of year.  A few of the appealing activities include:  

Make a Summer Nature Collection

Meteor Slumber Party

Chalk Art Masterpiece

Poet Practice: Fall

Rainy-Day Ramble

Snow Castle

Feed the Birds

Take a Night Hike

Backyard Pumpkin Patch

The activities include descriptions, tips, and specific information to make the activity work smoothly - and fun!

I would recommend this book for homeschooling families, for children who love crafts and backyard activities, for teachers, Scout leaders, and anyone who works with kids.  It is a great resource presented in a lively and appealing manner.

Book Synopsis

Second-generation homeschooling mom Greta Eskridge shares 100 hands-on, learning activities for kids that will connect and enrich your family through adventures, small and big. Turn off the screen and turn on the creativity, curiosity, and love of nature as you have a meteor slumber party, attend a symphony concert, take a hike in the rain, preserve colorful fall leaves, make nettle pesto, and venture into the great, wide, real world.

In 100 Days of Adventure, children ages 6 to 10 will

  • unplug from electronics and explore the world, from backyard bugs to farmer’s market veggies and plants along the trail
  • learn about nature, art, music, and themselves through STEAM projects and new experiences
  • bond with parents and siblings, learn new skills with individual investigations, or explore with friends in an educational or homeschool group

This full-color activity book for kids includes

  • 100 indoor and outdoor activities, projects, experiments, crafts, recipes, and field trips, divided by season
  • many activities that are free or low cost, with options for different kinds of families and locations
  • step-by-step directions, nature journal prompts, tips, and checklists
  • beautiful photos and helpful illustrations
  • a note to parents with encouraging start-here guidance on growing a family culture of curiosity and adventure

Whether your family is looking for fun activities for school breaks at home, road trip vacations, or everyday ways to learn together, this collection of interactive educational activities will help your kids get creative, get into nature, and get closer to each other.

Don’t miss Greta’s essential guide for parents on building a connected and loving family through exploration, Adventuring Together: How to Create Connections and Make Lasting Memories with Your Kids.

Author Bio

Greta Eskridge is a home schooling mom of 4. She loves to fill her family’s days with reading, making art, and being outside as much as possible. Her favorite places to be are on a hiking trail or at the tide pools–preferably with an iced coffee in hand. Greta loves laughing, having adventures and taking cat naps in the afternoon. She and her artist husband, Aaron, make their home in sunny southern California.

Greta is also an author and speaker. She travels the country speaking and sharing her message of joyful, connected parenting.

Greta would love to connect with you. You can hang out with her on her Instagram feed. You’ll find her @maandpamodern. You can also find her on her blog at

Friday, May 20, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - Murder, She Wrote: Killer on the Court by Jessica Fletcher & Terrie Farley Moran

My Review

Jessica Fletcher takes a vacation break in Rockaway Beach, New York with her nephew Grady, his wife Donna, and his young son Frank (named for her late husband). When one of Donna's colleagues is found dead on a tennis court, pummeled by tennis balls from a mechanical server, Jessica steps in to investigate.

I wanted to read Murder She Wrote: Killer on the Court because I love the old Murder She Wrote TV series. I have not read any of the other books this series, but now I really want to. I also like tennis, so that added to my interest in this mystery.

This book is so well written. Jessica's voice is especially well done, and so true to her beloved character. The writing is engaging -- with warm scenes of Jessica and her great-nephew Frank, tidbits about New York, and of course mystery solving!

The descriptions are wonderful too, like:

I awoke to the sound of chirping and saw a goldfinch perched on the outside ledge of my bedroom window, his yellow body brightening the gloomy overcast sky that served as his background. I slipped out of bed as carefully as I could, trying not to frighten him away. But it was no use. Birds are sensitive to motion, and he flew off. As soon as I opened the window wider, I could hear his friends and cousins singing in the trees. I began to take deep breaths of the warm, moist air coming in off the ocean. I was sure it would bring rain along with it well before the day’s end. During the summer months, I have an almost childlike expectation that every day will be sunny and cheerful. But if today wasn’t going to cooperate, it didn’t matter to me. I didn’t need sunshine to feel exuberant." (eBook location 91)

The mystery aspect of this novel was fun - just the right amount of suspects, and the storytelling kept me guessing right up to the solution!

I thoroughly enjoyed Murder She Wrote: Killer on the Court, and recommend it for cozy mystery fans -- and especially for anyone who loves Murder She Wrote.

Book Synopsis

Jessica Fletcher’s sunny beach vacation with her nephew’s family takes a dark turn in this new installment in the USA Today bestselling series.

Jessica is delighted when her nephew Grady invites her to spend a few days with his family in an oceanside New York bungalow. She packs her bags and heads down to the city, ready to spend some quality time with Grady, his wife, Donna, and their young son, Frank. 

But the morning after Jessica’s arrival, Donna finds her boss dead on a tennis court, and Jessica’s dreams of a relaxing visit are quashed. Everyone in the small beachside community is a suspect, and the local authorities—headed by an old colleague of Cabot Cove sheriff Mort Metzger—have asked that no one leave town. Will Jessica be able find a killer and salvage the rest of her trip?

Author Bio
Along with Jessica Fletcher, Terrie Farley Moran co-writes the Murder She Wrote mystery series including  Murder, She Wrote: Killer on the Court. She is the author of the Read ‘Em and Eat cozy mystery series and also co-writes the Scrapbooking Mysteries with Laura Childs. Recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer Awards, Moran has published numerous mystery short stories. The only thing Terrie enjoys more than wrangling mystery plots into submission is hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren.

Author Links – Webpage   Facebook 

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboIndieBoundBookshop.orgPenguinRandomHouse


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Friday, May 13, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - The Sweetheart Locket by Jen Gilroy

My Review

In San Francisco in 2019, Willow and her mother Millie take a DNA test that has baffling news. Willow travels to England to learn more about her grandmother's past, and the story of Maggie Wyndham starts to unfold. During World War II, Maggie fell in love with one man, and then another ... and did secret war work that put her life in danger. As Willow unfolds the story of Maggie's life, she finds her own life changing too ... with new purpose, new work, and even a new romance.

I wanted to read The Sweetheart Locket because of the World War II setting. I love novels from this time period.

This is a historical novel with a dual storyline. There is the story of Willow and her mother Millie in 2019, in both San Francisco (their home) and England (where Millie was born). There is also the story of Maggie, Millie's mother, beginning in 1939 in England. It is a complex story with lots of movement back and forth in time. Readers meet the three generations of women in the family and also Maggie's friends, and the men who are central to their lives.

I loved this book from the start -- both Maggie and Willow, the central characters, are so likable and have such interesting lives.  Maggie's life is actually extraordinary, with Resistance work and a tangled personal life.

The Sweetheart Locket is an engrossing book - I barely put it down during the time I was reading it, and I planned my time around more reading! I really felt like I got to know the characters because they were so well drawn. The historical details were also beautifully told. I loved the way little haunting details from World War II would show up unexpectedly in present day life as well. Maggie's story - and the secrets of her life - was unveiled slowly through the course of the book.

I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. It is one of my favorite reads this year, and I plan to look for more books by this author.  

Book Synopsis

What if the key to your present lies in the past?

London, 1939

On the eve of the Second World War, Canadian Maggie Wyndham defies her family and stays in England to do her bit for the war effort. Torn between two countries, two men and living a life of lies working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Maggie’s RAF sweetheart locket is part of who she is…and who she isn’t.

San Francisco, 2019

Over twenty years after Maggie’s death, her daughter Millie and granddaughter Willow take a DNA test that’s supposed to be a bit of fun but instead yields unexpected results. Willow has always treasured her grandmother’s sweetheart locket, both family heirloom and a symbol of her grandparents’ love story. But now she doesn’t know what to believe. She embarks on a search for the truth, one she doesn’t know will reveal far more about herself…

A gripping and heart-breaking dual timeline novel about love, loss and buried secrets, The Sweetheart Locket is perfect for fans of Lorna Cook, Rachel Hore and Suzanne Kelman.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio

Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and dual timeline historical women’s fiction—warm, feel-good stories to bring readers’ hearts home.

A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award, Amazon named her third book, ‘Back Home at Firefly Lake,’ a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.

A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate (with a focus on British cultural studies and social history) from University College London. Returning to where her Irish family roots run deep, she now lives with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound in small-town Eastern Ontario, Canada.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, ice cream, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.

Visit Jen online at You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub, and Goodreads.


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The Sweetheart Locket



Friday, May 6, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - The Viscount's Lady Novelist by Alissa Baxter

My Review

The Viscount's Lady Novelist is a Regency era historical novel.  It features Harriet Linfield, who plans to have a life as a writer and set her estate up as an orphanage for children in need. These plans are thwarted when she is courted by Oliver, Viscount Wentford, who wants to marry her and mine coal on the estate. Sparks fly despite this, and despite the differences in Harriet's creative temperament and Oliver as a man of science. Will a romance work between them?

I wanted to read this novel because it is the second in the Linfield Ladies Series. I absolutely loved the first book in the series, The Earl's Lady Geologist. This novel is similar in tone and structure, and it was a fun continuation of the series.

My favorite thing about this novel (and the series in general) is the strength and intelligence of the protagonist. She wants far more out of life than a woman in the Regency period expects.  I also enjoyed the interplay between Harriet and Oliver, who connect but also who are very different people.

The Viscount's Lady Novelist started a bit slowly for me but quickly picked up speed, and I enjoyed the read.  I recommend this novel for fans of historical fiction, historical romance, and anyone who enjoys a Regency setting.

Book Synopsis

Harriet Linfield is a lady novelist who has been disillusioned by love. She sets out to write more realistic tales about the emotion when she returns home to Linfield Court for the summer. Vowing to avoid any romantic entanglements along the way, she focuses instead on her writing and her plan to turn the estate she inherited from her uncle into a refuge for orphans.

Oliver, Viscount Wentford, is determined to restore his family fortunes. But his plans for the estate he inherited are in direct opposition to the wishes of Harriet, his new neighbour. Upon meeting her, Oliver is amused when, in response to his provocative comments, she informs him that she intends to make him the villain of her next book. But his amusement swiftly turns to dismay when circumstances align to show him in that exact light.

When an enemy comes back into Harriet’s life, she sees that love isn’t as clear-cut as the romantic tales she pens. But will the viscount manage to discard his villainous mantle to become Harriet’s real-life hero?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio

Alissa Baxter was born in a small town in South Africa and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. At the age of eleven, she discovered her mother’s collection of Georgette Heyer novels. The first Heyer novel she ever read was Sylvester and she was hooked on Georgette Heyer after that. She read and reread her novels, and fell totally in love with the Regency period and Heyer’s grey-eyed heroes!

After university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she began writing her first Regency novel, before moving to England, which gave her further inspiration for her historical romances.

Alissa has lived in Durban and Cape Town but she eventually settled in Johannesburg where she lives with her husband and two sons. Alissa is the author of two chick-lit novels, Send and Receive and The Blog Affair, which have been re-released as The Truth About Series: The Truth about Clicking Send and Receive and The Truth About Cats and Bees.

Alissa’s Linfield Ladies Series features women in trend-setting roles in the Regency period who fall in love with men who embrace their trailblazing ways… at least eventually. The Viscount’s Lady Novelist is the second book in this series, following on from The Earl’s Lady Geologist.

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The Viscount's Lady Novelist