Category Archives: Historical Fiction

A Review of No Shred of Evidence by Charles Todd

No Shred of Evidence (Inspector Ian Rutledge #18)

by Charles Todd

Why should you read this book?  I’m not sure. I suppose if you have read the previous 17 books in this series, you probably will be ready for number 18. If you are like me, and have never even heard of Inspector Ian Rutledge, you could give this book a shot, if you are a fan of mysteries that are set in Great Britain just after Word War I. Other than that, there really is no compelling reason to read No Shred of Evidence. The story just kind of meanders along, painting a picture of a time long ago, where everything moved more slowly, but some people still wanted to kill other people.

I didn’t really care about any of the characters in this book, so I wasn’t that curious about why anyone would want to kill any of them. The reasons were there and, I guess they were logical, but I found it hard to believe that everything had to be so mysterious. It just seemed strange that everyone had to lie, or tell their own version of the truth. Not very realistic.

I give No Shred of Evidence 3 Stars out of 5, because even though it was well written, it didn’t engage me. I didn’t feel a part of this story. Your experience may be different from mine.

As I was reading this book, I wondered if any of my friends from Great Britain have read any of the books in this series. If you have, let me know if you like this series, and if it strikes an authentic chord with you. Thanks.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher

Book Description

No Shred of Evidence by Charles ToddIn this absorbing new entry in the acclaimed New York Times bestselling series, Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge is caught up in a twisted web of vengeance and murder.

On the north coast of Cornwall, an apparent act of mercy is repaid by an arrest for murder. Four young women have been accused of the crime. A shocked father calls in a favor at the Home Office. Scotland Yard is asked to review the case.

However, Inspector Ian Rutledge is not the first Inspector to reach the village. Following in the shoes of a dead man, he is told the case is all but closed. Even as it takes an unexpected personal turn, Rutledge will require all his skill to deal with the incensed families of the accused, the grieving parents of the victim, and local police eager to see these four women sent to the infamous Bodmin Gaol. Then why hasn’t the killing stopped?

With no shred of evidence to clear the accused, Rutledge must plunge deep into the darkest secrets of a wild, beautiful and dangerous place if he is to find a killer who may—or may not—hold the key to their fate.

Book Details

Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries (Book 18)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (February 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062386182
ISBN-13: 978-0062386182
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

About the Authors

Charles-ToddCharles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live on the East Coast.

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A Review of Ghost Sniper: A World War II Thriller by David Healey

Ghost Sniper: A World War II Thriller

by David Healey

4,0

Ghost Sniper is a good World War II story. It starts on Omaha Beach during the “D-Day” invasion. The story is told without graphic details, no blood and guts. The actual facts seem to ring true, but I’m not a WWII expert. The characters are likable and authentic, even the German sniper.

The story is told from two Points of View. The German sniper, Kurt Von Stenger, is the Ghost Sniper. He is a professional soldier, and has taught sniper classes, so he is a formidable foe. His American counterpart, Micajah Cole, grew up around guns, and was the best shot in the entire 29th Division, but since the US Army didn’t have a sniper unit, he had an M1. He connected with a lieutenant during the fighting on the beach. He had a rifle with a scope. Cole used it to knock out a machine gun installation, so they weren’t killed that first day of the invasion of Normandy.

The rest of the book continues with the action in Normandy. It shows how difficult it was to gain any ground. It tells a story of how important snipers were to both sides during the conflict, and how the Allied Forces were sometimes dependent on the local resistance. It was an exciting story, and one that keep me interested. I don’t normally read WWII fiction, but I enjoyed this book.

I give Ghost Sniper 4 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up! If you like military fiction, I’m sure that you will enjoy it.

I won a copy of this book from a contest run by the author.

Book Description

SCN_0006June 6, 1944. On the dawn of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, two snipers find themselves fighting a battle all their own. One is a backwoods hunter from the Appalachian Mountains in the American South, while the other is the dreaded German “Ghost Sniper” who earned his nickname on the Eastern Front. Locked in a deadly duel across the hedgerow country of France, the hunter matches wits and tactics against the marksman, both of them one bullet away from victory—or defeat—as Allied forces struggle to gain a foothold in Europe.

Book Details

Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Intracoastal Media (February 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615945902
ISBN-13: 978-0615945903
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces

About the Author

David Healey’s 13 novels and nonfiction books have been published by Jove Books (Penguin Putnam), the Agatha Award-winning Bella Rosa Books, and The History Press. He worked for 21 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, and won awards in feature writing and editorial writing from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and Suburban Newspaper Association. He has written freelance articles for many newspapers and magazines, including The Washington TimesAmerican HistoryBlue & GrayRunning TimesChesapeake Bay MagazineOut & About, and Delmarva Quarterly. He is a member of the Eastern Shore Writers’ Association, where he edits the Words Between Bays blog to showcase writers and writing on the Delmarva Peninsula. He is also an author member of the International Thriller Writers and a contributing writer to the ITW’s The Big Thrillmagazine. He is a frequent speaker on regional history and writing topics. In 2011 he was recognized as a Chaney Visiting Scholar by St. Mary’s College of Maryland. A graduate of Washington College and the Stonecoast MFA program, he is now a fulltime professor of composition at Kaplan University.

Follow him on Facebook at http://facebook.com/david.healey.books and visit his website at http://davidhealeyauthor.com.

A Review of Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

Playing with Fire

by Tess Gerritsen

4.5

This book really grabbed me. I could barely do anything else. I was reading an e-book, so I had it with me on my phone. I would sneak in a couple of pages every chance that I could. I’m glad that it was such a quick read, because now my life is back to normal.

Playing with Fire has so many twists that I can’t say much about it without spoiling some of the book. It has two main Points of View. The first POV is in the present. Violinist Julia Ansdell discovers an old , hand-written piece of music. She buys it, and attempts to play it. The story takes off from there. The second POV takes place in Venice, Italy, just before the start of World War 2. You meet Lorenzo Todesco, the composer of the piece of music and learn why it exists. The two POVs are different sections in the book, so you are always aware of what is going on.

This is a very exciting book. There is a magical, nearly fantasy feel to it at the beginning. If you aren’t a fan of books based on magic or cursed items, don’t worry it doesn’t go spiraling off in that direction. Everything stays pretty realistic. But there is just a little touch of the mystical, just the right amount. It’s just a little spooky, and that’s a good thing!

I give Playing with Fire 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! The only reason it doesn’t get 5 Stars, is because I was a little disappointed in one of the final twists. I can’t say more without it being a major spoiler, but when you read it, you will probably know what I meant. But don’t let that hold you back. This is a great book, and you really should read it. I loved the stories, and how they came together. The characters were realistic and likable, and there was a message behind it all. A must read!

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Playing with Fire by Tess GerritsenA gripping standalone thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series

In a shadowy antiques shop in Rome, violinist Julia Ansdell happens upon a curious piece of music—the Incendio waltz—and is immediately entranced by its unusual composition. Full of passion, torment, and chilling beauty, and seemingly unknown to the world, the waltz, its mournful minor key, its feverish arpeggios, appear to dance with a strange life of their own. Julia is determined to master the complex work and make its melody heard.

Back home in Boston, from the moment Julia’s bow moves across the strings, drawing the waltz’s fiery notes into the air, something strange is stirred—and Julia’s world comes under threat. The music has a terrifying and inexplicable effect on her young daughter, who seems violently transformed. Convinced that the hypnotic strains of Incendio are weaving a malevolent spell, Julia sets out to discover the man and the meaning behind the score.

Her quest beckons Julia to the ancient city of Venice, where she uncovers a dark, decades-old secret involving a dangerously powerful family that will stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.

Book Details

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1101884347
ISBN-13: 978-1101884348
Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

About the Author

Photo: © Paul D’Innocenzo
Photo: © Paul D’Innocenzo

Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), and Last To Die (August 2012.) Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

A Lady in Hiding by Amy Corwin

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Blurb:

A tragic case of arson sends Sarah into hiding to escape the terrible fate of her family. She works as a common laborer, and is safe for thirteen years, until she receives an ominous note. Despite her disguise, the killer has caught up with her, and she is once again in danger from a man determined to silence all echoes from the past.

William, an inquiry agent, is consumed with curiosity when he meets Sarah and hears about her case. And one look into her gray eyes has him hooked. Even though the evidence is scanty after so many years, he vows to assist her, unaware how events will challenge him both as a man of honor and as an investigator.

When a second attempt is made on Sarah’s life, William is forced to follow a treacherous path through the twisted, dark past. And his growing attraction to the independent woman proves just as dangerous. He needs a clear head to sift through the ashes of the old tragedy, with its hints of corruption reaching into the highest levels of Society. Above all, he must protect Sarah, regardless of personal cost.

Love must find a way to bring the two together and thwart a desperate arsonist, or the last survivor of the long-ago fire will die.

ALadyinHiding Promo GraphicSnippets:

SNIPPET 1

Now, as if aware of her scrutiny, Major Pickering caught her gaze across the street between them. His attention fixed on her. His body stiffened like a dog pointing at a likely grouse. Sam stepped closer to the brick building at the edge of the sidewalk seeking the safety of its towering shadow, her skin prickling.

She glanced around, trying to listen over the pounding of her heart. No one shouted. No one except the major showed any interest in her—other than sheer annoyance when she impeded the smooth flow of foot traffic.

Major Pickering raised his hand, his eyes intent on her face. She took a slow step forward.

Then without warning, he stumbled. His hand fell to his side. His gaze wavered. A look of confusion passed over his thin face. Glancing down, he pressed a hand to his side. And as he brought his palm up in front of his face, his legs buckled beneath him. He fell sharply to his knees, and with a shudder, he raised his head. His gaze once more met Sam’s as his mouth worked soundlessly.

A sense of urgency sent her running forward, hand outstretched. Alarmed by the pallor of his face, she tried to reach him to hear the words he uselessly mouthed. Then, although she couldn’t be sure with the jostling men between them, he shook his head slightly in warning. A spasm twisted his features.

Sam stopped and watched in agonized horror as he slowly crumpled, face down, onto the pavement.

SNIPPET 2

Archer arched his back and dug in a pocket, drawing out a flattened slug of metal. He threw it at William, who caught it in one hand. A spent bullet, dimpled and compressed where it had hit the brick wall. He raised a brow and caught Archer’s eye.

“Looks like our sleeping lad is in need of watching,” Archer said. When he didn’t answer, Archer leaned forward, his voice softer. “I didn’t fire the rifle, son. Remember that. Your Mr. Sanderson is safe in this house.”

He caught himself rigidly, just before he accidentally referred to Sam as ‘she’. “Is he?”

“Why not? What would I want with a bricklayer? Other than to finish that blasted garden wall, of course. Which looks like it will never get done, now. I promised my wife it would be completed in time to plant the summer herbs—and it’s April already.” He snorted. “Like as not, it’ll be fall again before these blockheads complete it.”

“I hope this incident hasn’t upset your wife.”

“Not at all. Tender-hearted female—always worries over the merest trifles.”

“She seemed upset when she heard his name. Perhaps she knows him? Or his family?”

“There are scores of Sandersons littering the English countryside. No doubt, she knows several of them. She may even have thought she knew this one.”

“Does she?”

“It’s hard to say. Did you notice that peculiar scar on his forehead? The one shaped like a star?”

The mark could no longer be seen. Sam’s entire head was swathed in yards of white linen, but William nodded slowly and cautiously.

How much should he reveal? He chose the easy course. Nothing.

“What of it?” He asked.

 

SNIPPET 3

“Get back into bed, or I’ll put you there,” William said.

Sam’s eyes turned silver as she studied him, her head cocked to one side. “If you think you can, try.”

“I don’t foresee any difficulties,” he said, striding toward her. After all the stabbing and head bashing, he’d have thought she’d have enough sense to stay abed.

Obviously, he was wrong.

He came to a stop mere inches from her, hoping to discomfort her at least half as much as she had discomforted him since their first meeting.

She stared at him, her chin thrust out at a mutinous angle. Although she blinked a few times, she didn’t back away.

He frowned.

Her eyes blinked more rapidly.

So he did the only thing he could think of that would put the fear of God into her soul.

He leaned nearer and kissed her.

Meet Amy Corwin:

Amy Corwin is a member of Mystery Writers of America and a charter member of the Romance Writers of America. She has been writing for a number of years and recently retired from a career as an enterprise systems administrator in the computer industry to write full time. She writes mysteries, sweet Regency romances, and paranormal romances. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder and mayhem since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way of encouraging the remaining ones to toe the plot line.

In her spare time she cooks, gardens and has won several awards at local rose shows for her Old Garden and English roses. She is also a birdwatcher and generally fascinated with nature, having gotten her first Peterson’s Field Guide when she was six years old.

Join her and discover that every good mystery has a touch of romance.

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A Review of The Suspicion at Sanditon by Carrie Bebris

The Suspicion at Sanditon
(Or, The Disappearance of Lady Denham)
(Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries #7)

by Carrie Bebris

When I opened a package that I had received in the mail and saw The Suspicion at Sanditon inside, I thought to myself, “Well, I would never have picked this book up at the bookstore. I wonder if I will make it through this one.” Luckily I have had some extra time available for reading lately, and was able to squeeze it in near the publication date.

The Suspicion at Sanditon was something that I don’t normally read. True it is a mystery and I read a lot of mysteries, but this book takes place in England in the early 1800s. It is written in the style of Jane Austen, or so I’ve been lead to believe, having never read any Jane Austen, I’ll just have to take their word for it. The writing is very old-fashioned, as are the characters. Everything must be proper. You must follow protocol and be very aware of any impropriety. I had a real hard time getting into it, but something just made me keep reading. Once I got about half way though, the pace of the story seemed to pick up. Then by the end of the book it was flying. I’m not sure, but I think that Ms. Bebris may have simplified the language a little, either that or I just got used to it and no longer had to think as hard while reading. I don’t know which it was, but it was much easier to read near the end of the book than it was at the beginning.

I enjoyed the story and the characters, but I probably won’t be reading any more books in this series. If you are a Jane Austen fan, I would imagine that you have already heard of this series. If you haven’t, then I think that you should try to get a hold of this book. Even though this is book 7 in the series, it works quite well as a standalone book, and if this is the kind of book you enjoy, there are six other books available.

I give The Suspicion at Sanditon 4 Stars out of 5 and a Thumbs Up. I know there are a lot of people out there that would rate it higher.

I received a hardcover copy of this book from the publisher.

Book Description

The Suspicion at SanditonSuspicion at Sanditon, a new adventure in Carrie Bebris’s award-winning Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series takes Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy to Sanditon, the setting of Jane Austen’s final work. There, accompanied by their friend Miss Charlotte Heywood, they encounter an array of eccentric villagers and visitors. Among Sanditon’s most prominent residents: Lady Denham, a childless, twice-widowed dowager with a fortune to bequeath and a flight of distant relations circling for a place in her will.

The Darcys have scarcely settled into their lodgings when Lady Denham unexpectedly invites them to a dinner party. Thirteen guests assemble at Sanditon House-but their hostess never appears. As a violent storm rises, a search for Lady Denham begins. The Darcys, like most of their fellow attendees, speculate that one of her ladyship’s would-be heirs has grown impatient .?.?. until the guests start to vanish one by one.

Does a kidnapper lurk in the centuries-old mansion, or is a still more sinister force at work? As the night grows short, the dwelling’s population grows thin, and tales of Sanditon House’s storied past emerge, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy find themselves leading a desperate effort to discover what has happened to Lady Denham and the missing guests, before they all-perhaps even Elizabeth and Darcy themselves-disappear.

The Regency era’s answer to Nick and Nora Charles, the Darcys once again demonstrate their quick wits and signature wit as they search for the truth-universally acknowledged and otherwise.

Book Details

Series: Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries (Book 7)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (July 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765327996
ISBN-13: 978-0765327994
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

About the Author

CarrieBebris-biopicAward-winning author Carrie Bebris is best known for her Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series. Set in Regency England, the novels entangle some of Jane Austen’s most beloved characters in intrigue.

Carrie began her career in publishing after previous roles as a journalist and college English teacher. As an editor for fantasy publisher TSR, Inc., she developed supplements for the Dungeons & Dragons® roleplaying game before striking out on her own as a freelance writer and editor. She wrote two fantasy novels, Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor (2001) and Shadowborn (1998, with William W. Connors), before making her mystery debut in 2004 with Pride and Prescience. The novel made the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association bestseller list and was named one of the five best mysteries of the year by Library Journal. Successive Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mysteries have earned starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and other publications. North by Northanger won the Daphne du Maurier Award, which honors excellence in romantic suspense, and a Reviewers Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine for Best Historical Mystery of 2006. The seventh book of the series, The Suspicion at Sanditon (or the Disappearance of Lady Denham), releases in Summer 2015.

In addition to her novels, Carrie is a contributor to the short fiction collection Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart. She pens articles for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine, writes other nonfiction, and has edited such books as Tea with Jane Austen (by Kim Wilson) and Walking with William Shakespeare (by Anne-Marie Edwards). She speaks nationally and locally about Austen, writing, and publishing, including serving as a faculty member and guest lecturer for the Antioch Writers Workshop.

Carrie holds a master’s degree in English literature with an emphasis on 19th- century authors and studied Austen on the graduate level with one of today’s most respected Austen scholars. She is a life member and regional officer of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and travels to England to enhance her understanding of Austen’s life and work. Reviewers praise her for capturing not only the spirit of Austen’s writings, but also the historical details of the Regency era; in the name of research, she has engaged in experiences that range from dancing at Regency balls to firing a dueling pistol.

When not writing, Carrie enjoys traveling, watching costume dramas that send her husband fleeing the house, and indulging in her love of all things British. Originally from Wisconsin, she now resides in Ohio, where she is currently working on her next novel.

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A Review of The Truth According to Us: A Novel by Annie Barrows

The Truth According to Us: A Novel

by Annie Barrows

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought that I would. I don’t normally read books like this. When I read the blurb, I thought that The Truth According to Us might be worthwhile reading, and I was right.

Ms. Barrows takes us back to Depression era West Virginia. She tells a story of Layla Beck, the daughter of a U.S. Senator, who won’t do as her father demands, and is therefore cut off and forced onto welfare. She has never had to work a day in her life, but her uncle gets her a job working as a writer for the Federal Writers’ Project. Layla is assigned the task of writing the history of Macedonia, West Virginia in honor of their sesquicentennial. She moves into a boarding house run by Jottie Romeyn.

The Romeyn family play a large role in this book. The Truth According to Us is told from the points of view of Layla and some of the Romeyn family, mainly Jottie and Willa (the twelve-year-old daughter of Felix Romeyn).

Layla is finding out that history isn’t just black and white facts, but depends upon the point of view of the teller. She discovers that everybody remembers things differently, and a lot of people lie. They lie to themselves as well as to everyone else.

Layla falls for Felix Romeyn, which starts to color her view of the town’s history. Jottie longs for a proper life for her and Felix’s two daughters, but she still pines for her high school sweetheart, who died in a fire under suspicious circumstances. Willa is growing up and trying to discover what life is all about. She is on a mission to find out the truth about her father and to protect him and her Aunt Jottie from that truth. Everything is intertwined.

The Truth According to Us is a book that grew on me as I read it. The author developed the characters and the story together in a twisted web of truth and lies, love and love lost, told in a setting of a real life struggle during The Great Depression. Ms. Barrows knows how make her characters come alive.

I give The Truth According to Us 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and A Big Thumbs Up! If you are ready to take a break form a constant diet of Thrillers and Mysteries, I highly recommend this book. I quite enjoyed it, much more than I had expected.

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

The Truth According to UsFrom the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes a wise, witty, and exuberant novel, perfect for fans of Lee Smith, that illuminates the power of loyalty and forgiveness, memory and truth, and the courage it takes to do what’s right. 

Annie Barrows once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. Her new novel, The Truth According to Us, brings to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever.

In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.

Book Details

Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: The Dial Press (June 9, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385342942
ISBN-13: 978-0385342940
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

About the Author

Photo: © Amy Perl Photography
Photo: © Amy Perl Photography

Annie Barrows was born in 1962 in San Diego, California, but quickly moved to a small town called San Anselmo in the San Francisco Bay Area. She spent most of her childhood at the library. She wouldn’t leave, so they hired her to shelve books at the age of twelve.

Annie attended UC Berkeley and received a B. A. in Medieval History. She knows more than the average person about 3rd century saints. Under the impression that a career in publishing meant she’d get to read a lot, Annie became a proofreader at an art magazine and later an editor at a textbook publishing company. In 1988, Chronicle Books hired Annie as an editorial assistant, from which platform she became successively assistant editor, managing editor, Editor, and Senior Editor. Somewhere in this trajectory, she acquired Griffin & Sabine, Chronicle’s first New York Times best seller.

In 1996, Annie received her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Mills College and had a baby, a confluence of events that persuaded her to leave editorial work and move into writing. She wrote several non-fiction books on topics ranging from fortune-telling to opera before turning her attention to children’s books. In 2006, the first book in her children’s series, Ivy + Bean was published. This title, an ALA Notable Book for 2007, was followed by nine others. The Ivy + Bean series appears with some regularity on the New York Times best-seller list and a number of other national best-seller lists. The Ivy + Bean books have been translated into fourteen languages; in 2013 Ivy + Bean: The Musical premiered in the San Francisco Bay Area. A novel for older children, The Magic Half, was published by BloomsburyUSA in 2008. Its sequel, Magic in the Mix, came out in 2014.

In addition to her children’s books, Annie is the co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was published by The Dial Press in 2008. A New York Times best-seller, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been published in thirty-seven countries and thirty-two languages.

Annie lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.

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A Review of At the Water’s Edge: A Novel by Sara Gruen

At the Water’s Edge: A Novel

by Sara Gruen

I don’t usually read a book like At the Water’s Edge. I lean more toward action thrillers and mysteries, but I thought that a change of pace might do me good. I’m glad that I went out on a limb and read this. I don’t know exactly how to describe At the Water’s Edge. It takes place in Scotland near the end of World War II, so that would give it a historic label. The story involves a trio of wealthy twenty somethings from the states who are spoiled rich kids on a quest to find the Loch Ness monster, while staying  well lubricated from morning ’till night; so I guess that At the Water’s Edge might be called a buddy film if it was a movie. But then Maddie starts to realize that this party life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and begins to discover the real side of life and love, so maybe it could be called a coming of age novel, or maybe a romance. And then there are some mystical elements and even the possibility that the Loch Ness monster is real. So what can we call it? Amazon gives it two main labels, Historical, and Literary. While edelweiss.com adds Contemporary Women, so I guess that you will have to figure it out for yourself.

Ms. Gruen brings this story to life. It felt like a peek into a lifestyle that I only know from film and fiction. Hank and Ellis (Maddie’s husband) think that the world is divided into two groups, the wealthy and everyone else, whose sole purpose is to serve their privileged class. When Maddie sees that everything isn’t quite the way she always thought; she starts to doubt that she can continue live that way. She connects with the common people, and that threatens her relationship with Ellis. He can’t have his wife becoming a commoner.

Is this a great book? Not quite, but it was very enjoyable. It gives you a lot to think about. I imagine that At the Water’s Edge would make a great book club selection. It would have a plenty of ideas to discuss.

I give At the Water’s Edge 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! If you liked the movie Water for Elephants, then I’m sure you will be captured by At the Water’s Edge.

I received a Digital Review Copy from Netgalley.

Book Description

At-the-Waters-EdgeIn this thrilling new novel from the author of Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. At the Water’s Edge is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman’s awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands.

After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind.

The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.

As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life’s beauty and surprising possibilities.

Book Details

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (March 31, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385523238
ISBN-13: 978-0385523233
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pound

About the Author

Photo credit: Tasha Thomas
Photo credit: Tasha Thomas

Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Water for Elephants, Ape House, Riding Lessons, and Flying Changes. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. Water for Elephants was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz in 2011.

She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and three sons, along with their dogs, cats, horses, birds, and the world’s fussiest goat.