August 2023 Book Reviews

August 2023 Book Reviews

The Medici Manuscript (Glass Library 2)

In January & February, I read through the Glass & Steele book series after reading Book 1 in the Glass Library series. When book 2 was available, I put it on hold at the library and became rather impatient with the time it was taking to come in. 

It was worth the wait, although I feel like this series is very similar to the previous one, just two new main characters. I’m not complaining, because I enjoyed the Glass & Steele series. In the Medici Manuscript, Professor Nash shows Cynthia a book. They dub the Medici Manuscript. The problem is, no one can actually read it because the author wrote the entire manuscript in code. Before they can find the key to crack the code, the manuscript is stolen.

My only disappointment was that book 3 wasn’t available yet at the library, so I couldn’t binge on the entire series. It does, however, mirror, at this stage, the previous Glass & Steele series.

Gabe, son of India and Matt, is working for Scotland Yard on any case that has a magical element to it. He asks Cynthia to help him. They work together well, but Willie, Gabe’s cousin, is worried that Gabe is falling in love with Cynthia. She doesn’t want this as Gabe is already engaged to another woman, never mind she doesn’t want him to marry that woman either. 

I’m curious to see where Archer is taking this series, and impatiently awaiting the next release.

A is for Alibi

I’m still waiting on a long list of holds at the library, and hunted down another in-between book. I’ve mentioned many times that my fallback author is Macomber, but I branched out and reread the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton. It’s been years since I’ve read them, and they are more readily available both through Libby, and sitting in our home library.

Kinsey Milone is a former cop, turned private detective. She’s twice divorced with few personal belongings, and even fewer personal relationships. She gets hired by Nikki, an ex-con who did time for a murder she swears she didn’t commit. Kinsey takes on the case, and before long the past catches up with the future when another body turns up. There are now more suspects than ever, and a killer on the loose.

It’s probably been a good twenty years since I’ve read this book, and it was interesting to note how dated it was both by how Kinsey works, but also in the rougher writing compared to later novels in this same series. I also realized I’d listened to an abridged version of the book, all those years ago. What did I miss out on? Most of the language, and some bedroom scenes.

One Plus One

Jess’ life isn’t easy. Her husband has disappeared and is supposedly recovering from a mental breakdown. Her son is being bullied, and her math-whiz daughter has a once in a lifetime opportunity. One that will require a bit more cash than Jess has, despite working multiple jobs. Will they let a unique opportunity slip by?

Jess’ knight in shining armor is a wealthy client whose beachside house she cleans. Two kids and a massive dog in tow. She’s stuck on the side of the road, refusing his help. The Police are confiscating the uninsured car. The kids are cold and tired, so she accepts Ed’s offer to take them home. 

Ed shocks them by offering to take them to Scotland in the morning. There’s just one catch. Tanzie gets carsick if the vehicle goes faster than 30mph. Their 2-hour trip is now going to take them a week, squashed in the back of a flashy sports car with a giant dog drooling on everyone.

 Jess is constantly optimistic. Staying optimistic even in tough times. She’s raising a teenage son, Nicky. And calls him her own, when in reality she’s barely his stepmother. She tells her kids to make good choices, no matter how hard it is. And when she makes the wrong choice, knowingly, it impacts all their lives. Bringing hurt and hard, forgiveness and love.

I really enjoyed this read and fell in love with each character. It was full of messy real-life problems, with the typical twist of fantasy romances hold. I could easily binge Moyes books.

The Lonely hearts Book Club

Arthur is a curmudgeonly old man. He’s known at the local public library as the patron that makes people cry. When Sloane Parker encounters him in the library, she takes it upon herself not to be intimidated and make him smile. It may not work, but they are soon parrying quips from books and debating which genre is best.

Until one day, Arthur doesn’t come into the library. Or the next. A week passes by without Arthur, and Sloane is worried. She recognized the hurt that he covered up by being a cranky old man, and she’s willing to risk her job to hunt him down. It is through losing her job that Sloane not only finds herself, but many unexpected friendships.

There’s Arthur, who will only listen to her, even if it is begrudgingly. Maisey nosey neighbor, who’s quite lonely and desperate for her teenage daughter to talk to her. Mateo, the gay coworker who is afraid of commitment and living in his mother’s shadow. Greg, Arthur’s grandson, who puts his life on hold to come meet his cranky grandfather. And somehow, together, they make up their own cozy little family disguised as a Book Club. 

This is one of those books where you see the story from multiple character’s viewpoints, and you wonder when each one will realize what the other is thinking. It’s hard not to appreciate each character and the good they brought to the story. Their fondness for books and friendship. Arthur’s inability to communicate freely, so he highlights everything in books which formulates the words he feels incapable of speaking. Sloane’s desire to people please to where she’s willing to marry someone she doesn’t love. Mateo’s inability to see his own worth. Maisey’s love, so great for her daughter, that she’s willing to say no when she really wants to say yes. And Greg, who mirrors his grandfather both in temper and inability to speak the words his heart feels.

After finishing with my copy from the library, I went and purchased a copy. Because, much like Arthur and Greg, I love highlighting all the beautiful words in books that somehow seem to say just the right thing.

The Millionaire’s Wife

I always find it difficult to plunge into another book when I read one that sits with me. I can’t stop thinking about it. Such was the case of The Lonely heart’s Book Club. Not to be thwarted, I scanned the library to see what was available, and was a little giddy to see they had a few books by Boland available.

Boland’s books are classified as thrillers, so they have all kinds of twists and unexpected endings. I find them delightful to read, difficult to put down, and not in the slightest bit check under the bed before going to sleep. 

This story flips back and forth in time until the two paths converge. We watch the lives of Anna, Sian, and Finn unfold. Anna, now married to Will, who is a self-made millionaire, and is certain someone is after her, watching her, chasing her. She can’t tell Will, because it would mean owning up to her past. Besides, would Will even believe her? She needs him to believe her. Both their lives may be in danger if he doesn’t.

This book is currently available through Kindle Unlimited. Or perhaps your library also has it in the Libby App.

A Perfect Stranger

I’m going to cheat here and quote Amazon, because I find it hard to express these books without giving away a few secrets:

Two marriages. Three little lies. Someone’s going to die…

I hold my breath as my handsome husband walks through the door. I’ve planned the perfect surprise birthday party for him. Our friends are gathered, and the champagne is flowing. But when I catch the look in his deep brown eyes, I realize I’ve got this horribly wrong.

All evening my stomach is churning. And I can’t help but notice Danielle Baines speaking with Aiden. With her salon-styled hair, diamonds glittering on her ring finger and married to a rich businessman, she has the lifestyle I can only dream of. I’ve never liked her. And I know the feeling is mutual.

So why is she here and what is she saying to my husband?

Now it’s the end of the party and the man I love is confessing a secret that shocks me to the core. But it’s not what I was afraid of. It’s much worse.

He says we have to take our son and leave the place we call home because our lives are in danger.

I thought I knew everything about my husband. But suddenly he feels like a stranger. Should I trust him with my life?

This book is free if you have an Audible Membership, or can also be read for free if you have access to Kindle Unlimited.

Book Lovers 

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laid-back dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not because they’ve met many times, and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

True confession, I’ve been on the waiting list for this book for so long that I actually squealed when I got a notification that it was available. Not being familiar with the author, I wanted to borrow it, and the funny thing is, as soon as I finished it, I turned around and bought a copy.

The Secret Guests

I heard about this book via a book blog I stumbled on a month or two ago. The funny thing is, this is the third book I’ve chosen after reading about it on said blog, only to have them be nothing as the person described them. In fact, one book was so far from the description given that I quit reading it. There was a lot of “too much” going on in the book and found it did not draw me to in. I’m not big on quitting a book, but there’s no point reading something unenjoyable.

This book was closer to how it the synopsis. In The Secret Guests, we read a fictionalized telling of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, who are evacuated on the sly from England. And to Ireland to live with a distant relation, given false names, and two members of the military to guard them. The belief is that at least one heir will survive should London fall to the Germans. Besides, no one in Ireland will notice the Princesses.

There’s only one problem. They someone notices them. Spies abound everywhere, and no one is truly safe. Not to mention, many in Ireland are still holding onto grudges from past hurts by England.

We hear a good portion of the story told from Princess Margaret’s viewpoint, and she’s depicted as quite the little scamp. Her nose is always where it doesn’t belong, stealing things, disobeying everything people tell her to do. Mocking her sister, falling in love with all the men she runs across. Whereas they present Elizabeth as a stuck up older sister.

I found the ending incredibly rushed. It ends with non-stop action, and then just like that, it’s over with a small epilogue of where each person ended up afterwards. While I enjoyed the book, I don’t know that I will look for more in the series.

August was packed with reading, but I confess some books were so good I devoured them in a day and then wanted to reread them. Others, not so much, but I’m still glad I took the time to read through them.

The Secret Guests is one of those books I think my mother-in-law would have enjoyed. At the very least, she would have enjoyed telling me all about the correct historical information, her Irish heritage, and, of course, her memories from living through WWII.

I have intentionally not linked the book blog, because I don’t want to discourage the book reviewer. We all view books differently, and for all I know someone may read one of my reviews and feel that I missed the mark, too. I hope you’ll forgive me for holding out on you.

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