Sunday, July 31, 2022

Books 18-26

The Frederickson Wine Novels by Barbara Ellen Brink
One lost summer is time best left forgotten...When Minneapolis attorney, Billie Fredrickson, inherits her uncle's small California winery, she has no intention of actually moving to the west coast and starting a new life. Her only thought is to get it off her hands as quickly as possible. But her return to the winery after an absence of twenty years opens up more than the reading of her uncle's will. Childhood memories, long-buried, begin to surface, prompting questions that no one is able or willing to answer. A late night prowler, a break-in at the winery, and an unearthed box of shocking photographs is someone's way of pulling the welcome mat out from under Billie's feet, but it only makes her dig her heels in deeper. Secrets lie buried beneath Fredrickson Winery's innocent façade and Billie intends to get to the root. But disturbing the past lays bare the skeletons of others, including her mother's. Can she live with the consequences of full disclosure or will she run home where everyone is Minnesota nice?
I found the first third of this book very slow, boring and it dragged badly.  Then it picked up and I did start to enjoy it. Quite a few twists and turns making the story much more interesting than how it first started.

Once Upon a Time by Demelza Carlton
-Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold
A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.
Once upon a time…
The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father's lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island's ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She's not sure she can reverse the spell, but she's determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can't be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.
Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?
Although we all probably know the story of Beauty and the Beast this is definitely a different interpretation of it. It involves magic and an enchantress which makes things quite interesting.

-Dance: Cinderella Retold
A dutiful daughter. A prince forced to find a bride. If the shoe fits...
Once upon a time...
When the Emperor's army comes recruiting, Mai signs up, seeing it as the perfect escape from her stepmother and a lifetime of drudgery. Armed with her mother's armour and a pair of magic shoes, Mai marches off to war...only to find herself sharing a tent with the General's arrogant nephew, Prince Yi.
The best swordsman in the Empire, Prince Yi wants to make war, not love, but the Emperor insists this will be Yi's last campaign before he must marry. Prince Yi has never met his match...until now.
Can one woman win the war and the prince's heart?
I really enjoyed it being set in China and the heroine being a swordswoman. It was interesting how the hero wants a real woman instead of the women who altered themselves to fit society. As it is set in China the slipper and foot binding are key elements. 

In Sight of the Mountain by Jamie McGillen

In the devastating aftermath of the 1889 Great Seattle Fire, nineteen-year-old Anna Gallagher faces considerable pressure to marry well and soon.
She has two serious suitors: a well-meaning but condescending doctor, and an evasive fisherman who challenges her mind. But Anna has no intention of giving up her freedom to keep house; she has a dream to reach the summit of Mount Rainier.
Despite her family’s disapproval and her own self-doubt, she secretly trains, raises money for supplies, and buys a train ticket to the base of the mountain. If she succeeds in reaching its icy peak, she could pioneer the way for women mountaineers; but it’s a tall task and there’s much at risk—including the heart of a man who just might love her as an equal.
On the journey, Anna will face glaciers, avalanches, and frozen temperatures, all without knowing if she even has a family or a future to return to.
This was an easy read. Lots of the story was very unrealistic and lots of 'rose coloured glasses' moments, but it was enjoyable even though it was very predictable.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the "queen of spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the matter where it leads.
I really liked the story in 1915 but the story in 1947 was just OK for me.
Telling two parallel tales, one of several female spies in Lille during WWI, the other of a pregnant college student looking for her cousin who went missing after the end of WWII. Eve Gardiner, one of the spies, is the link between the two stories.
I really enjoyed learning about The Alice Network and the history involving female spies. 

A Villa in Sicily by Fiona Grace
Audrey is likeable if somewhat naïve so she manages to get herself in a few tight spots. The home needs lots of repairs but she's game to try to fix it up and she finds that it has some surprises!. Shortly after she arrives she has an argument with a contractor working on another house who winds up dead and she becomes the prime suspect.  It is up to her to try and clear her name and find the murderer. This was a pretty easy read.

The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs

At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific.
Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous world of fashion.  But her success implodes on a wave of scandal, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows.
And in the back seat of Caroline's car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment-five year old Addie and six year old Flick.  She's now their legal guardian-a role she's not sure she's ready for.
The Oysterville she left behind has changed.  Her siblings have their own complicated lives and her aging parents are hoping to retire.  And there's Will Jensen, a decorated Navy SEAL who's returned home after being wounded overseas.  Will and Caroline were forever friends as children, with the promise of something more....until he fell in love with Sierra, Caroline's best friend and the most beautiful girl in town.
Caroline returns to the sewing shop where she first discovered her passion and learns that there are women living with the deepest of secrets.  Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle-where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden.
Yet just as Caroline and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart.  This time, though, Caroline is going to stand and fight for everything-and everyone-she loves.
This is a story of a typical love triangle-with a couple of children thrown in the mix.  The bigger issue is the creation of the Oysterville Sewing Circle where women dealing with domestic abuse can come and feel like they are safe and among friends.  This was another good read.

The Bend in Redwood Road by Danielle Stewart

Most days it's manageable. No more than a quiet wondering around the edges of her mind.
What has become of the baby she left behind?
Smiling through the pain and suffering in silence, Leslie Laudon marches forward. Embracing the life skillfully designed by her husband Paul. Living right could be penance for an impossible choice made with an uneasy heart. Dutiful and anchoring, Leslie poured herself into her other children. Nurturing them through infancy, protecting them as toddlers, guiding them as teens. As her youngest child heads off to college with her suitcases and coordinating dorm room accessories, so goes Leslie’s identity. The chaotic life of a busy working mother threatens to become dangerously quiet. Quiet enough to hear the voices she’s tried to silence for decades.
Gwen Fox was adopted by two perfect people. Noel and Millie have always treated her the same as their two biological sons. Her parents love is strong and unwavering, yet a soul-deep ache still lingers. Plagued by an unnamed, hard to explain, longing Gwen could never shake.
Riddled with doubt and dragged down by the undertow of unanswered questions, Leslie and Gwen both find their lives suddenly upended. One seeks the truth about the day she was born. The other seeks herself, the woman she was before motherhood. Before she made a choice to leave a piece of her heart lying asleep in the hospital nursery.
In this complex journey for answers, blame is abundant. Guilt is thick enough to choke on. Marriages are brought to the brink of disaster. As the ripples of the past vibrate through their lives, Gwen and Leslie realize there is no turning back. What they have put into motion cannot be stopped. The road toward the truth will be littered with casualties.
I quite enjoyed this book.  Its not a subject that I had read about in a novel before.  I found it to be quite a page turner and would recommend it.

House on the Harbor by Elizabeth Bromke
Kate Hannigan is in charge of her late mother's estate, and she has a plan: divide everything evenly, including the old family house on the harbor. What she doesn't realize is that her mother changed the will. Now, a family secret hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile, her sister, Amelia, a struggling off-Broadway actress, enlists her hapless construction boyfriend to help with a local project, but he's more interested in summer tourists.
Second-youngest, Megan, is preoccupied with her divorce... but not too preoccupied to make a dating profile, much to her sisters' mortification.
Baby of the family, Clara, is single and refuses to date. She puts her teaching job above all else. Until a crushing revelation calls to question everything she knew to be true... including her reputation.

Even though its pretty easy to guess what the secret is I found it interesting seeing how it all unravelled. 
I like the alternating perspectives in the chapter so we get to know each of the sisters, and more about their mother. I don't want to give anything away, but they end up having a bigger issue to deal with than who's going to get which property. I liked the way the situation was handled and that the sisters were closer at the end of the book. Each of them had come to decisions about their lives, some more painful than others.
The details of the will gives them an opportunity to change the direction they are all going and also brings them together to form a deeper bond as sisters.
 When the lawyer reads the Will, there had been a change made and they hear something totally unexpected that will put their own issues on the back burner while they try to deal with their new reality! A family secret not dealt with now focuses their attention amid lots of drama along the way.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

He's Here!!!!


He finally came into the world this morning!  Seven days overdue.  After 30 hours of hard labour they decided to do a C-section as no progress was being made.
Walker Erin, 8lbs 11ozs. 221/2" long. He's so bright eyed for being less than an hour old in the picture!
We are now Great Grandparents, yikes!!!  Kelsey calls us Grandma and Grandpa but she always called my mum and dad Nana and Granddad so that what we'll be called by Walker (when the time comes)lol.
Because of all the restrictions we won't be able to see him until they go home.  Amazingly that will be in two days.  They sure don't keep them very long these days!  When I worked in maternity, back in the 70's, regular births stayed for 5 days and C-sections stayed for 7 days!!  The moms loved it.  Not any more.  Probably a good thing, nobody wants to be in a hospital these days.  At least she's in a private room.
I'm sure there will be lots of pictures to come.😊