The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

GOODNIGHT JUNE By Sarah Jio

Goodnight June by Sarah JioPublisher:  Plume
Release Date:  May 27, 2014
Pages:  320
Genre:  Women's Fiction

Book Description:  The New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter imagines the inspiration for Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon is an adored childhood classic, but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June, Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the "great green room" might have come to be.

June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature.

Wanda's Thoughts:  Goodnight June is a story with strong themes of family, love, forgiveness, and new beginnings.  Sarah Jio's writing is inviting, descriptive, with many poignant moments.

The author effortlessly weaves together two stories, separated by over 50 years, using letters written by  June's Aunt Ruby and the legendary children's book author, Margaret Wise Brown.

35 year old June, is living in Manhattan, with a successful career at a New York Bank.  She is notified that her Aunt Ruby, who had lived in Seattle, has left her entire estate to her.  It includes a children's bookstore, Bluebird Books, where Ruby and her sister, Amy, had spent a lot of time as children.  As a child, June had shared with her aunt, the love of books.  She learned of entire worlds that existed beyond the drab world that Ruby and her sister lived.

June has a lot of hurt in her life and has endured much pain in her past family life.  And the story unfolds as June's life becomes even more complex as she begins to put Aunt Ruby's affairs in order - Ruby's secrets, the future of the bookstore, and her memories.

The first few chapters were just lukewarm, but the storyline soon picked up and I couldn't put this book down.

Goodnight June is a delightful read that will touch your heart, and has a superb ending that you won't see coming.  Beautifully written!  My rating is 4.5 stars.
Sarah Jio
About the Author:  Sarah Jio is the New York Times bestselling author of THE LAST CAMELLIA, BLACKBERRY WINTER, THE VIOLETS OF MARCH (a Library Journal Best Book of 2011), THE BUNGALOW, and the forthcoming, MORNING GLORY (11/26/13), all from Penguin/Plume. Sarah is also the former health and fitness blogger for Glamour.com. She has written thousands of articles for national magazines including Redbook, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Fitness, Marie Claire, and many others. She has appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. Sarah lives in Seattle with her husband and their three young boys. 

NIV Once-a-Day Bible

Wanda's Thoughts:  This is a user-friendly Bible that will enable you to read God's word in 365 days without feeling overwhelmed.  Each day includes readings from the Old Testament,  New Testament and a selection on the Psalms or Proverbs.  It ends each day with a short reflection, or meditation, that is geared towards women.

Also included is a section on Getting to Know God, based on Scriptures which I found interesting.  It explains salvation, hope, faith, forgiveness, and much more.

This Bible is attractively put together and would make a wonderful gift, perhaps for a new Christian woman.  4 Stars

I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

NIV Once-A-Day Bible for Women by Zondervan PublishingPublisher:  Zondervan
Release Date:  April 2012
Pages:  1312
Genre:  Bibles

Bible Description:  With this NIV Once-A-Day Bible for Women, you can read through the Bible in a year. . . or at your own pace. Now you can practice the spiritual discipline of daily Bible reading at your own pace. Want a reading plan that will take you through the Bible in a year? You got it—and check boxes too. Don’t want the guilt of falling behind in your daily reading? You won’t—each daily reading is numbered, not dated, allowing the flexibility you need as you strive to engage God’s Word every day. Looking for a Bible with insights about what you as a woman most need to hear? These are included as well in the intuitive, hopeful devotional thoughts located at the end of each daily reading. The NIV Once-A-Day Bible for Women organizes the clear, accessible New International Version Bible into 365 daily readings. Each day’s reading includes a portion of Scripture from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and a Psalm or a Proverb, followed by an encouraging devotional thought specifically written for women.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

PROOF OF ANGELS By Mary Curran Hackett

Proof of Angels by Mary Curran HackettPublisher:  Wm Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date:  November 11, 2014
Pages:  320
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Book Description:  From the critically acclaimed author of Proof of Heaven comes an unforgettable novel about hope, renewal, and the gift of angels among us—friends, family, lovers . . . and even mystical others—sure to touch your heart

Sean Magee is a firefighter—a hero who risks his own life to save others, running into dangerous situations few have the courage to dare. While fighting a horrific blaze, Sean becomes trapped by flames and is nearly overcome by smoke. Just when it seems that all is lost, he’s led to a window—by what he swears is divine intervention. And then he jumps . . . 

. . . into a new life. For years, Sean has shut down his feelings, existing in a state of emotional numbness. Coming through that fire, he knows that he can no longer be that man whose his heart is closed to the world. But before he can face his future, he must confront his past and everyone in it: the family, the friends, the woman—and the love—he carelessly left behind.

Wanda's Thoughts:  Sean needed to know if what he saw on the day of the fire was real. He needed some proof. In the past Sean had done a lot of horrible things to people he loved because of his alcohol addiction. In many ways he felt broken. But Sean believes there are reasons for disconnected events and people in his life. He did not understand them, but he knew he had to trust that these miraculous events really did happen and for a reason. 

The author's writing is inviting and descriptive - an easy and relaxed read. The storyline takes us on a journey of discovery that brings the book to a satisfying, although rather predictable, conclusion. A delightful read! 4 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from LibraryThing. All opinions shared are my own.


Mary Curran HackettAbout the Author:  Mary Curran Hackett is the mother of two children and is married to Greg Hackett. She received an MA in English Literature from the University of Nebraska and a BA from the University Honors Program at Catholic University in Washington, DC. Born and raised in Danbury, CT, she has traveled extensively and lived in various places throughout the U.S., but her favorite place in the world is home with her kids, husband, and her stacks of books.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A LIGHT IN THE WILDERNESS By Jane Kirkpatrick

A Light in the Wilderness by Jane KirkpatrickPublisher:  Revell
Release Date:  September 2, 2014
Pages:  320
Genre:  Historical Fiction

About the Book:  Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read–as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.
Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere–even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.
Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.
As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill.

Based on a true story.

Wanda's Thoughts:  A Light in the Wilderness is an informative read, historical fiction based on a true story that will simply touch your heart. This is the story of three strong women whose lives are woven together with unexpected events that changed their lives forever.

1840’s – Letitia is leaving Kentucky as a free woman, no longer a slave, and she has papers to prove it. She is on her way to Missouri where she wouldn’t have to be afraid anymore. Good things happen to Letitia in Missouri. She has earned money as a midwife and becomes friends with Nancy Hawkins, delivering her baby. She also becomes friends with Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant, who treats her with kindness. Davey is always cheerful and seemed to be an easy man to be around. Davey offers Letitia an arrangement – to marry her, but not legally because it is forbidden for a white man to marry a black woman. But Letitia and Davey soon discover that freed blacks are not wanted in Missouri and they begin to make plans to start a new life in Oregon. It seemed like Oregon had good things to offer and half the town was heading west. Letitia and Davey are ready to begin a grand adventure together, moving to a place where slavery had never been known, and if she was mistaken for a slave, she had her papers proving that she was free. Together, Davey and Letitia plan for Oregon, to start their life together, and the story unfolds as they begin their arduous journey, a journey filled with challenges, tragedy, and survival. Being a black woman on the Oregon Trail took a lot of strength and courage for Letitia, and she was constantly fighting for acceptance. But Letitia realizes that freedom is having the courage to do what must be done. 

Nancy Hawkins, a very warm and genuine woman who befriends Letitia, is traveling with her husband and children on the Oregon Trail. It is an extremely difficult journey for Nancy when tragedy strikes her family. Nancy is a very likable and well developed character in the story. I connected to her immediately.

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian woman in Oregon. She cherishes her grandson, Little Shoot, and teaches him to survive. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t find this character interesting and never connected to her. 

This is a compelling and achingly sad read and a story that you’ll not soon forget. Jane Kirkpatrick has a way of drawing you into this era of time with her descriptive writing and realistic characters. This is an excellent historical read and one of my favorites for 2014. My rating is 5 stars. 
“You can say ‘slave.’ I ain’t one, though I was, and yes it tainted who I is, but I’s free, always was even when owned. Free in my thinkin’. Free as a child of God.”

“Maybe that was what freedom meant, being in a place where one didn’t fear.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions shared are my own. 
Jane Kirkpatrick
About the Author:  Kirkpatrick brings us a story of one woman's restoration from personal grief to the meaning of community."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

In Search of Ireland's Heroes: The Story of the Irish from the English Invasion to the Present By Carmel McCaffrey

In Search of Ireland's Heroes by Carmel McCaffreyPublisher:  Ivan R Dee
Release Date:  October 2006
Pages:  290
Genre:  European History

Reviewed By WC

Book Description:  A history of Ireland from the twelfth century to the present, following on the author's highly successful In Search of Ancient Ireland. In addition to plumbing the historical record, Ms. McCaffrey discusses the leading Irish families and their social roles, and the great castles and homes that dot the Irish countryside. The history comes alive for the present-day reader. Illustrated.

Wc's Review:  This is not only the story of the emergence of Ireland as a slave satellite to England, but also a story of the resourcefulness and sovereignty of man before he was forced to succumb to the allure of a greater power.The comparisons to the united efforts of the colonies in the new world into the United States is eerily familiar, for both were highly successful and independent entities before the sway of collectivist society.

Independent nations do not like to be told what to do.

Carmel McCaffrey's book reads like a textbook, revealing in sequence events that shaped present day Ireland with emphasis upon the personal forces and individuals who caused the subjugation of a once self reliant nation. 

McCaffrey lists all the important figures who held prominent positions in the development of Ireland since the twelfth century, which suffices to keep reader interest. However, one does have to possess a hefty curiosity about Ireland to keep from putting the book back onto the coffee table. 3 Stars

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

JUICE: Recipes for Juicing, Cleansing, & Living Well By Carly de Castro, Hedi Gores & Haydn Slater

Juice by Hayden Slater
Wanda's Review:  Wow! What a wealth of information! We all want to live healthy lives and juicing can provide vital nutrients for us to function at optimum levels. This book explains the basics for improving your health, dealing with weight problems, and cleansing, and reducing our dependence of processed foods. Also included are recommendations on the best juicers, and how to clean your fruits and veggies. And of course, recipes from green drinks to fruit smoothies, and much more, all serving 1 to 2 people. This hardcover book is done in an attractive way with beautiful illustrations. It is definitely a healthy guide to better living and I absolutely recommend it with a 5 star rating. 
I received a complimentary copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions shared are my own. 

Publisher:  Then Speed Press
Release Date:  July 22, 2014
Pages: 160
Genre:  Food & Drink Cookbook

Book Description:  A lushly illustrated and accessible guide to juicing and juice cleansing, featuring 75 recipes for making organic juices, milks, and other concoctions at home to provide the vital nutrients a healthy body needs to function at an optimal level.

Once considered a fringe practice of raw-food zealots, juicing has gone mainstream. In this beautiful full-color health guide and cookbook--which requires only a juicer or blender to use--the founders of Los Angeles-based Pressed Juicery explain how juicing and juice cleansing can be part of a fit and healthy lifestyle. Featuring seventy-five recipes for the shop's most popular juices--including greens, roots, citrus, fruits, aloe and chlorophyll waters, and signature beverages like Chocolate Almond and Coconut Mint Chip--this inspirational handbook outlines the benefits of juicing, explains how to do a juice cleanse safely, and shares testimonials from people who have experienced personal health transformations after integrating juice into their lives.

BONES AND ROSES (Cypress Bay Mysteries - Book #1) By Eileen Goudge

Bones and Roses by Eileen GoudgePublisher:  Eileen Goudge
Pages:  234
Release Date:  August 5, 2014
Genre:  Mystery

Book Description:  New York Times bestselling author Eileen Goudge presents Bones and Roses, the first book 
in her exciting new Cypress Bay Mysteries series! 

Welcome to the northern California seaside town of Cypress Bay, where the surf's up, the sixties 
live on and long-buried secrets are about to surface. 

From home invasions to cheating spouses, Rest Easy Property Management owner Leticia 
"Tish" Ballard thought she'd seen it all. Almost four years sober after flambĂ©ing her real estate 
career in an alcohol-fueled blowout, she's finally in a good place in her life when the discovery 
of skeletal human remains rocks her world and plunges her headlong into solving a decades-old 
crime. Now she must delve into the darkness of her own past, including the one-night stand gone 
horribly wrong with Spence Breedlove, who happens to be the lead detective on the case. When 
the truth comes out at long last, Tish finds herself pitted against an enemy who will stop at 
nothing in a fight for her own life.
Wanda's Review:  Cypress Bay, a seaside town in California - Tish Ballard had lost her career as a realtor because of her drinking. She is now the proprietor and sole employee of Rest Easy Property Management. She looks after vacation homes, doing upkeep and repairs. 

The story picks up pace early on when skeletal remains are discovered in a trunk of a storage unit. This was a murder that took place decades ago with no witnesses, no timeline, and no forensic evidence. And the story unfolds as many secrets are untangled, with a myriad of obstacles to overcome.

The author created incredibly good characters. Tish's best friend, Ivy, was wonderfully portrayed, and I found Arthur, the schizophrenic brother, to be quite interesting. I also enjoyed the splashes of humor spread throughout. The book had an interesting premise and a lot of potential. Unfortunately it just didn't work for me. My interest waned and I struggled to finish this book. The blurb sounded interesting, but the book just didn't deliver - it was just lukewarm. But perhaps you should read it and decide for yourself because I'm definitely in the minority. My rating is 3 stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions shared are my own.

Eileen GoudgeAbout the Author:  I began writing at the age of eight, and wrote my way through the lean years, more than one marriage, single motherhood,and moving to the Big Apple on a wing and a prayer, with fifteen women's fiction novels to show for it. Every life experience I've weathered has found its way into my novels in one form or another:bad exes, births, deaths,divorces, pregnancy scares,true crime (I was nearly kidnapped, at age 12, by the stranger whose car your parents warned you not get it into). It's all part of the alchemy that makes for fictional gold.

BONES AND ROSES, Book One of my Cypress Bay mystery series, marks my entry into the ranks of mystery novelists. I've been a fan of the genre since I fell under the spell of James M. Cain reading his masterpiece, "Mildred Pierce." I'm currently (and happily)wed to WABC-TV correspondent Sandy Kenyon, also known as the "taxi TV" film critic. We met when he was a radio talk show host and he interviewed me on the radio. How's that for a Hollywood meet-cute? 

My life's goal was to have a day job that didn't require me to wear pantyhose. Thankfully I've achieved that. Everything else is the icing on the cake.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

AMERICA: Imagine a World Without Her By Dinesh D'Souza

America by Dinesh D'SouzaPublisher:  Regnery Publishing
Release Date:  June 2, 2014
Pages:  304
Genre:  Current-events

Reviewed By WC

Book Description:  Is America a source of pride, as Americans have long held, or shame, as Progressives allege? Beneath an innocent exterior, are our lives complicit in a national project of theft, expropriation, oppression, and murder, or is America still the hope of the world?

New York Times bestselling author Dinesh D'Souza says these questions are no mere academic exercise. It is the Progressive view that is taught in our schools, that is preached by Hollywood, and that shapes the policies of the Obama administration. If America is a force for inequality and injustice in the world, its power deserves to be diminished; if traditional America is based on oppression and theft, then traditional America must be reformed—and the federal government can do the reforming.

In America: Imagine a World without Her D'Souza offers a passionate and sharply reasoned defense of America, knocking down every important accusation made by Progressives against our country. In this book, you'll learn:

-Why it is a pernicious myth that English colonists "stole" America from the Indians or that American settlers and soldiers "stole" the southwest from Mexico
-Why the descendants of slaves—and the successive waves of immigrants to the United States—are better off here than in their old countries
-How America, more than any other country, is based on rewarding the enterprise and hard-work of the common man
-How traditional American virtues sustain prosperity and freedom, and Progressive arguments about "liberation" and "justice" undercut them
-How Progressive demagoguery about "inequality" expands the power of government and its grasp on the taxpayer's wallet
-Why we should fear the Progressive agenda of "reform" which is in fact an agenda of totalitarian control of the state over the individual
-Why national decline is a choice--a choice that it is still not too late to reverse

Provocative in its analysis, stunning in its conclusions, Dinesh D'Souza's America will be the most talked about book of the year.

WC's Review:  Anyone can find something unreadable about a “must read.” A “must read” has something discoverable after a period of time that was not all that indispensable, significant in the grand scale of things, and most likely superfluous. Not this “must read.”

It should come as no surprise that a foreigner has to tell us exactly what is going on in this country. History aficionados remember early America’s assessments by Lafayette, Alexis d Tocqueville, Edmund Burke, and other pundits who saw correctly individual resolve and responsibility by immigrants who shunned the largess of a central government.

Now, an immigrant from India correctly claims that America’s glory days are over, that Obama and his mentors, namely Saul Alinsky, Reverend Jeremy Wright, Bill Ayers, and to a larger extent than previously thought, Hillary Clinton, are obsessed with making our once great nation into a third world country.

No doubt the country is going down. No doubt Obama and his minions are embarrassed by the previous colonial efforts of past administrations, failing to recognize that America’s interference into the affairs of conflicted countries was not a concerted effort to take over countries, particularly the stealing of oil, but a mission to enhance their chances of attaining liberty.

Dinesh D’Souza is constantly in the news, highlighted by political efforts to silence his message of progressive ruination of the nation founded on the principles of egalitarianism. 

The author correctly points out that the efforts of men to subjugate the masses while amassing personal wealth and power is not a recent phenomenon. Progressivism was alive and well during the early nineteenth century when the proletariat (both women and men) was forced into factories to sustain a living while the elite gained fame and prestige for compassionate governance.

Interesting is the verbal exhortations of W. E. B. DuBois vs Booker T. Washington. Frederic Douglass is particulary fascinating in his transformational thinking of America. And, Muhammed Ali’s response to Howard Cosell’s interview question after the Zaire, “Rumble in the Jungle”, battle with George Foreman, is priceless.

“Well, champ, what do you think of Africa?” 

My Rating - 5 Stars

Dinesh D'SouzaAbout the Author:  A former policy analyst in the Reagan White House, Dinesh D'Souza graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1983. He served as John M. Olin Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. D'Souza writes primarily about Christianity, patriotism and American politics. In 2014, he was convicted of violating campaign finance law and is currently awaiting sentencing.(

Monday, September 8, 2014

NOWHERE TO TURN (Hidden Identity #2) By Lynette Eason

Nowhere to Turn by Lynette EasonPublisher:  Fleming H Revell Company
Release Date:  September 2, 2014
Genre:  Christian Mystery/Suspense
Pages:  320

Book Description:  The day Danielle Harding takes her 11-year-old son, Simon, and flees from her abusive husband, is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, the danger has just begun. When Kurt was alive, he took something important to a mysterious person. That person wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . .

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold readers in its iron grip. Bestselling author Lynette Eason propels readers along at a breakneck pace in a race to discover the truth and a better future.

Wanda's Thoughts:  Nowhere to Turn is an action packed read from the first page through to the end! Eason is an excellent storyteller and I never lost interest right through the surprising climax. 

Dani had been living through an abusive marriage. She and her 11 year-old-son, Simon, lived through constant fear and pain on a daily basis. Her husband Kurt, an FBI agent, seemed to have no conscience, and took pleasure in other people’s pain. Suddenly her husband is dead and she and her son should be at peace, but an attempt is made on Dani’s life. And the story unfolds as Dani’s life spins out of control and she lives in fear for herself and her son. 

The author did a marvelous job bringing the complex characters to life. They were well developed and I was drawn into their world of emotions. There is violence, but no graphic descriptions, or strong language – Kudos to the author for that! My only negative comment is I felt some of the storyline was implausible – a bit hard to believe. But what a wonderful premise for a story! Lynette Eason is a new author for me, and I’ll certainly be looking for more of her books.

This is a book full of mystery and suspense – an intense read – and one that I enjoyed immensely! My rating is 4.5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Revell and NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions shared are my own. 

Lynette EasonAbout the Author:  Lynette Eason grew up in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and then obtained her masters in education from Converse College. Author of twenty inspirational romantic suspense books, she is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). In 1996, Lynette married "the boy next door" and now she and her husband and their two children make their home in Simpsonville, South Carolina."

Series:
. Amazon Adventure
. High Stakes
. Women of Justice

Friday, September 5, 2014

THE SHIP OF BRIDES By Jojo Moyes

The Ship of Brides by Jojo MoyesPublisher:  Penguin Books
Release Date:  May 27, 2014
Pages:  496
Kindle Edition
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Book Description:  From the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You and One Plus One, a post-WWII story of the war brides who crossed the seas by the thousands to face their unknown futures

1946. World War II has ended and all over the world, young women are beginning to fulfill the promises made to the men they wed in wartime.

In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other war brides on an extraordinary voyage to England—aboard HMS Victoria, which still carries not just arms and aircraft but a thousand naval officers. Rules are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier’s captain down to the lowliest young deckhand. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined despite the Navy’s ironclad sanctions. And for Frances Mackenzie, the complicated young woman whose past comes back to haunt her far from home, the journey will change her life in ways she never could have predicted—forever. 

Wanda's Thoughts:  The Ship of Brides is a well-researched fictional account of a voyage, carrying amazingly young brides, from Australia to England, on a WWII aircraft carrier, the HMS Victorious. It is the story of new beginnings, with themes of sacrifice, love, loss, and heartache. 

Maggie, Avice, Jean, and Frances had very little in common, but they all wanted the same thing – to reach England and be reunited with their husbands. The four are among 650 brides who shared the same hopes and fears. They were about to make this arduous journey on an aircraft carrier to a life of uncertainty.

Maggie is pregnant and prepares to go to England to be with her husband, Joe. She started having doubts as to whether she should leave her family behind. She didn’t want to think of them on their own, but Maggie was the character who exuded strength and confidence. By the time her baby would be born, Maggie and Joe would have shared only 4 weeks alone together in their married life. 

Avice – The war had hastened everything, and Avice’s marriage to Ian took place only 4 months after they first met. Avice came from a well-to-do family, her father owned the biggest radio manufacturer, and she was rather spoiled, accustomed to living a rich lifestyle.

Jean was 16 years old and immature, acting in a disgraceful way. She was not the kind of girl the other brides would normally associate. There was the air of mutual dislike for Jean among the girls – she could be awfully trying. Jean was on her way to England to meet her 19 year-old-husband.

Frances, a nurse, was the character I found to be the most interesting. She was reserved, not sharing her past with any of the girls. She showed little interest in what the girls were doing, and seemed emotionless. There was a bit of mystique about Frances. 

Australia – 1946 -There was an air of nervous anticipation as the brides left Australia, perhaps viewing it for the last time. The four brides had very little in common, other than they all wanted the same thing – to reach England and be reunited with their husbands. And the story unfolds as the brides were overcome with a myriad of obstacles and they struggled to cope with the difficult realities of the long voyage. 

The author does a marvelous job capturing the mood and living conditions on the ship, and her power with words is incredible! This story has an interesting premise and has the potential to be a really good read. The plot moves rather slowly, but with interesting twists and turns developing along the way. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay engaged with the characters and storyline, especially in the middle section. I have mixed feelings about this book – it was an interesting read, and Jojo Moyes is one of my favorite writers, but I just can't enthusiastically recommend this book.  My rating is 3.5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchanged for an honest review.
Jojo Moyes
About the Author:  Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist. 

Moyes' novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

TACOLICIOUS: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and More

Tacolicious by Sara Deseran

Wanda's Review:  Tacolicious will truly satisfy your Mexican food cravings.  And it certainly shows that these recipes can easily be made at home.


The cookbook begins with How to cook with this book – giving techniques that are basic, but essential ----
Toasting spices
Toasting, frying, and soaking dried chiles.
Roasting, broiling, and grilling vegetables.

The cookbook is divided into the following sections:
Salsas, Pickles + More
Snacks + Sides
Tacos, Tacos, + Tacos
Cocktails, Aguas Frescas + More

I’ve tried Pickled-cauliflower, carrots, and jalapenos – quite good – and Pickled red onions – a bit salty, but will make again, using less salt.  I have several more recipes earmarked to try in the near future. 

The recipes are impressive, and it’s laid out in an easy to use manner with some beautiful pictures.  However, I wish there were pictures for every recipe.  I would like to see the finished product and pictures certainly entice the taste buds. 

This would make a wonderful gift for the new bride or really, just about anyone. No doubt about it, Tacolicious has a large array of mouth-watering recipes.  And it is a wonderful addition to my collection of cookbooks.  My rating is 4 stars. 
 I received a copy of this cookbook from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions shared are my own. 

Book Description:  A collection of recipes for fun, accessible taqueria fare--including colorful salsas, tasty snacks, irresistible cocktails, and of course tacos galore--from the wildly popular San Francisco restaurants and acclaimed Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market food stand, Tacolicious. 

Tacos may be the most universally loved, happy-making food on earth. After all, who can say no to a juicy, spicy Chile verde taco; a decadently deep-fried Baja-style fish taco; or a gloriously porky Carnitas taco? At Tacolicious, the San Francisco Bay Area’s most popular Mexican restaurant, tacos are a way of life. And now, in this hotly anticipated cookbook, co-owner Sara Deseran shares all of the restaurant’s tortilla-wrapped secrets. Whether you’re seeking quick and easy weeknight meals or inspiration for a fabulous fiesta, Tacolicious has you covered. With recipes for showstopping salsas, crave-worthy snacks, cocktails and mocktails, and, of course, tacos galore, this festive collection is chock-full of real Mexican flavor—with a delicious California twist. 


Publisher:  Ten Speed Press
Release Date:  September 2, 2014
Pages:  212
Genre:  Cookbooks

          
 About the Author - Sara Deseran, a longtime food writer and San Francisco magazine's editor-at-large, is the co-founder of Tacolicious along with her husband Joe Hargrave. Sara's magazine writing has been featured in multiple Best Food Writing anthologies and she's contributed to publications such as Food & Wine, Sunset, and Food Arts. The author of three cookbooks, and the keeper of the Tacolicious blog (tacolicious.com), she lives in San Francisco with Joe and their children. Joe and Sara are opening a Chinese dumpling and noodle restaurant called Chino (chinosf.com) in late Spring 2014.
Image of Sara Deseran