Darjeeling Inheritance by LIZ HARRIS

Darjeeling Inheritance

Charlotte Lawrence loves living in Sundar. She follows her father around learning all she can about the tea plantation. It’s all she has ever wanted.

After eleven years in England, Charlotte has finished her studies and is coming home by boat with a suitable companion named Ada Eastman. Arriving home to find her father has just died and has left her the plantation with the current manager to stay on.

The current manager, Dan, is everything a good man should be. And while Charlotte’s father may have arranged for his daughter to marry his best friends’ son, Andrew, who is a lazy womanizer and gambler, Charlotte is a stubborn girl and intends to put off marriage as long as she is able to.

Her companion is married within days of setting foot in Sundar. To a much older man with money. And within days she is looking at Andrew like a juicy steak. All the while Charlotte has no idea and really doesn’t care.

She intends to learn everything about tea and follow her heart.

As a tea reviewer, this book was heavenly. I learned so much about growing tea and the history of the area.

A lovely read!

NetGalley/October 1st, 2021 by Heywood Press

MADAM by PHOEBE WYNNE

Madam

Light a fire they can’t put out…

This story takes place in Scotland. High on a cliff, stands Caldonbrae Hall. Built 150 years ago by Lord William Hope to become a boarding school for girls. He had a lot of them. With names like Temperance, Charity, and on and on.

The goal of the school is to turn out girls who are educated and ready to fulfill their role in society.

When Rose, a young Classics teacher is hired to work there she is shocked by the invitation and honored, as she is the first new hire in about 10 years.

At this point you want to ask yourself why. And it will become abundantly clear.

The girls are not at all interested in learning anything and there is quite a mystery over Rose’s predecessor. She may or may not have had an inappropriate relationship to a student or she may have just moved, no one will say and the girls aren’t even looking at her.

Rose should have listened to her own instincts and never come to Scotland, but now she’s in and it is made clear that she is going nowhere. With overt threats about her mother and the town people hating all of them, she is truly alone.

At first I thought maybe this was a ghost school. Where everyone is dead except Rose. The girls were rude and cruel to her and each other. When they finally tell her why they are all there, she is horrified and sets out to right the situation.

I have to say I did not care for Rose at all. She was rather slow in the beginning and I thought about skipping to the end as it just plodded along.

This may be a great Netflix, Handmaid’s Tale type of thing but the book itself bored me to death. This isn’t feminism at all. More like sex trafficking.

NetGalley/ May 18, 2021 St. Martin’s Press



MAIDEN VOYAGES by SIAN EVANS

Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them

MAGNIFICENT OCEAN LINERS AND THE WOMEN WHO TRAVELED AND WORKED ABOARD THEM

Maiden Voyages explores how women’s lives were transformed by the Golden Age of ocean liner travel between Europe and North America.

Up until the twentieth century, travel across the Atlantic was done on great ocean liners. Like the Ritz Carlton of the sea. Amenities that bordered on excess. So many woman made that crossing for a better life. Some were traveling for work or pleasure and job opportunities.

All the famous names are here. Wallis Simpson, Josephine Baker. First class all the way. But the second and third class were less fancy. The stories of women who traveled the oceans and made a difference were my favorite. Doing a man’s work was new to both sexes and there was a lot of learning going on.

A lot of research went into this one. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

NetGalley/St. Martin’s

Voices from the Pandemic by ELI SASLOW

Voices from the Pandemic: Americans Tell Their Stories of Crisis, Courage and Resilience

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter, a powerful and cathartic portrait of a country grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic—from fear and overwhelm to extraordinary resilience—told through voices of people from all across America

Eli Saslow is one of the best at explaining things. Traveling around gathering data but also stories of people’s experiences. Some painful, some hopeful, but all true.

Covid-19 snuck up on all of us while we were paying attention to the antics of the administration. And from the start, Mr. Saslow started talking to Americans all over. From all walks of life. This book is the culmination of all of those conversations.From the exhausted health workers to the unemployed facing hardships, his stories are heartbreaking.

What are a teacher’s responsibilities to her students versus her family? How about the people who still think it is a hoax, even on their deathbeds. This pandemic has pitted us against each other. Family members and friends fall by the wayside if they aren’t vaccinated.

Where do we draw a line? The accounts in this book are real and their stories will make you think, cry, and feel just as helpless as the rest of us. I did a lot of crying over this one and I needed that.

Always a pleasure.

NetGalley/Doubleday 28 September 2021

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

The Last House on Needless Street
The Last House on Needless Street
This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think..

This one shook me. It is a story of a serial killer and all of the above blurb. But it’s also the story of a girl who lost her little sister, a boy who was horribly abused, a parent who is a sociopath, a cat who reads the Bible and watches television and a lot of lies.

I really don’t want to say anymore than that. There was nothing nice about this story. It was horrific and chilling and all of the dark things no one talks about. There was no attempt to dress it up as a nice fairy tale. It was true darkness at it’s best. 

I had at least 3 different ideas about what was happening and boy was I wrong! If this is the new dark Gothic, please bring it on!

Horrifyingly good!

NetGalley/September 28th, 2021 by Tor Nightfire

DAMNATION SPRING by ASH DAVIDSON

Damnation Spring

Rich Gundersen is following in his family’s footsteps, felling giant redwoods on California’s coast. The work is dangerous and getting worse. Rich dreams of owning his own land to work and leaving it to his only child and son, Chub.

Rich and his wife, Colleen, have known their share of heartbreak and hard times. Colleen is a self-taught midwife and desperately wants another child of her own but after 8 miscarriages, Rich is not on the same page.

In the 70’s the whole “Save the Trees” campaign was in full swing, pitting the lumber companies against the activists. Unfortunately, the lumber company and most of its employees have very few scruples or sympathy for the activists or the residents.

When Colleen begins delivering more and more babies with hideous birth defects, no one wants to hear her concerns or the concerns of an environmentalist. Even after proving they are polluting the water supply and causing cancer and deaths, they don’t care.

Trying hard to hang on to a way of life that has come to an end, Rich is now lying to his wife and people are getting hurt.

This was a good premise. I personally could not connect with Rich. He was really closed off to anything except his own wants. And Colleen, who just turned a blind eye until she could no longer stand silent.

That said this is a good look at large corporations that cut corners and pollute the same land that makes them rich.

NetGalley/ August 3rd, 2021 by Scribner



the santa suit by mary kay andrews

The Santa Suit

From May Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

Ivy Perkins is moving on from Atlanta, her ex and her half of the business. Looking for a fresh start away from everything. She has pretty specific wants. A white farmhouse with land. So sight unseen, she purchases what looks like an adorable farmhouse in North Carolina.

Four Roses Farm must have used photoshop, because the house is going to need a lot of work. It looks as if the former owners just up and left everything behind.

As Ivy is clearing out, she finds a beautiful Santa suit. It’s old and well-made and in the pocket she finds a note from a little girl, written long ago. This little gem becomes a mission for Ivy. Who is this little girl? And why all the Christmas stuff?

The former owners, the Roses, were the town Santa and Mrs. for a long time. They did a lot to help the community and even though Ivy isn’t really a Christmas person, the town may change her mind.

With some help from a hot realtor and a new friend, she may find not only her purpose but love again.

A lovely Novella of the magic of Christmas and the enduring love of family. This really lifted my spirits at a time when we all need a little of that.

NetGalley/September 28th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

It is officially Autumn…somewhere

Hell yeah we are ready for a little cool down. With Autumn officially here it is still 90 degrees.

I have seen so much pumpkin spice crap I want to throw up. Popcorn, Oreos (seriously leave Oreos alone). Personally I’d like to see more cider donuts. Buckle up y’all, things are about to get weirder.

I haven’t been able to type for a bit. I had second degree burns and blisters on my left hand. I would love to say it was a welding accident or I rescued a puppy from a fire, but no if you are a crafter you already know. The dreaded hot glue gun. And while I’m running to the faucet screaming I ran into the wall. A picture fell down and broke two of my toes. I knew they were broken because one looked like the letter C and they turned black. Days later OU Boy rolled his ankle. So we’re just gonna sit on the sofa and not move for a bit.

Obviously we are trying to do too much. OU Boy got a huge promotion which also means different schedules and fixing up his office. I stopped by and he has two loungers, a 70 inch flat screen on the wall, an air fryer, and a fridge. That is the outer office. His new schedule is 8 to 4 and Monday through Friday. I don’t remember when we didn’t work Saturdays. So we are adjusting to each other’s schedules and I am trying hard to be a wife. So far it’s just having dinner ready. I’ve made it twice this week.

I realized that I have no idea what a wife does. Iron? I work full time myself. We sat down and talked about my lack of wifery skills. He is fine with just carrying on as we are with me being understanding of his odd hours at first. And sex. The good thing is he is a garbage eater. Meat, potatoes,pasta, casseroles and the good old sandwich with Kraft cheese. I can make dinner of two olives and a triscuit. I’m great at taking things out for dinner but by the time it rolls around I just don’t care.

It’s still hot here so we have been kayaking and visiting the Grands. Grandpa is in hospital now. If you are on the fence about this Covid thing, well, get off. My Grandpa had pleurisy and a mini-stroke. There were no hospital beds at all. Nowhere. We were told a bed may open up at Yukon Community and it did after 8 hours. We are sending folks to other states now and still these idiots refuse to get a shot. If you have to be hospitalized you wait for someone else to die. That’s brutal.

I am grateful for a never ending stack of books and a tea supply that will never run out. So, how are things in your neck of the woods?

I’m gonna go take something out for dinner. “And she laughed and laughed”.

P

THE STOWAWAY by JAMES S. MURRAY and DARREN WEARMOUTH

The Stowaway

The Stowaway, a suspenseful masterpiece that leaves a cruise ship stranded at sea with a serial killer hiding aboard…

Sounds like a good premise. Stranded in the middle of the Atlantic with a serial killer. What better place? Like a buffet for serial killers.

This story begins with Maria Fontana. A single mother of two. Maria is on the jury of a sensational trial of alleged serial killer, Wyatt Butler, who reeks of guilt and disdain. As the final day of deliberations arrives, she is still torn over the evidence. Will she vote guilty?

Jump to a couple of years later and the media frenzy has died down, Maria has met a good man and they are going on a two week cruise across the Atlantic. Maria can’t help but look over her shoulder and hold her kids tight. And when people start dying, she is hypervigilant. Especially when there are children being killed in horrific ways and then posed with the next victims clothing. Everywhere she looks she sees Wyatt Butler.

While the Security Chief thinks she may be seeing things that aren’t there, Maria knows. A mother knows. Her children are not safe and neither is she.

It’s hard not to give anything away here. This was a fast-paced, well written thriller. I’m sure my heart rate was elevated the entire time. And that ending. Very nice.

NetGalley/ September 21st ,2021 by St. Martin’s Press

In the Shadow of the Empress by Nancy Goldstone

In the Shadow of the Empress: The Defiant Lives of Maria Theresa, Mother of Marie Antoinette, and Her Daughters

The vibrant, sprawling saga of Empress Maria Theresa—one of the most renowned women rulers in history—and three of her extraordinary daughters, including Marie Antoinette, the doomed queen of France.

That is the blurb on this very interesting look at this Empress and her daughters. And with Nancy Goldstone as the author I knew this would be good. She has such a way of making Non-Fiction read like the best story you can imagine. Never dull or dry. I adored this book.

This is the story of eighteenth century Maria Theresa, a strong woman who ruled the entire Habsburg Empire. We also learn about her daughters, who were also strong rulers in their own right. The Governor-General of the Austrian Netherlands, Maria Christina. Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and of course, Marie Antoinette, Queen of France and the one you have probably heard the most about.

But all of them were extraordinary. The imagery of the royal courts is well done. The research put into this book is astounding. Reading this was a history lesson inside a story. A story of hope, desire, betrayal and every hardship one could imagine.

This is one I shall keep and share for a long time.

NetGalley/ September 21st, 2021 by Little, Brown and Company