Monday, November 13, 2017

G906 Book Review of to be a queen by Annie Whitehead

Name of Book: To be a Queen

Author: Annie Whitehead

ISBN: 978-1-78407-165-3


Type of book: 874-918, Mercia, Wessex, King and Queen, battles, vikings, daily life, royalty, ruling, gardening, bee-keeping, marriage, partnership, peacekeeper, family

Year it was published: 2015


This is the true story of Aethelflaed, the 'Lady of the Mercians', daughter of Alfred the Great. She was the only female leader of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It is the tale of one family, two kingdoms and a common enemy. Born into the royal house of Wessex at the height of the Viking wars, she is sent to her aunt in Mercia as a foster-child, only to return home when the Vikings overrun Mercia. In Wessex, she witnesses another Viking attack and this compounds her fear of the enemy. She falls in love with a Mercian lord but is heartbroken to be given as bride to the ruler of Mercia to seal the alliance between the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. She must learn to subjugate her feelings for her first love, overcome her indifference to her husband and win the hearts of the Mercians who despise her as a foreigner, twice making an attempt on her life. When her husband falls ill and is incapacitated, she has to learn to rule and lead an army in his stead and when he subsequently dies, she must fight to save her adopted Mercia from the Vikings and, ultimately, her own brother.


Main characters include AEthelflaed "Teasel" one of the oldest daughters of Alfred the Great who fears vikings greatly and who seems to be more tomboyish and fearless despite her fear of vikings. Teasel is all too human and has to make a lot of tough decisions. She does end up overcoming some of her fears as well as learning a lot of valuable lessons along the way. Ethelred is Teasel's husband who is sort of an informal king of Mercia and who is fighter and is passionate about the nation and people he guards. Edward is AEthelflaed's younger brother who becomes king of Wessex and who also has to make a lot of tough decisions in order to achieve his dreams. There are other characters there as well as such as the cousin who desires Edward's crown and vikings who dare to raid England and Teasel's and Edward's family members and those who are loyal to them.


Growth and overcoming fears can happen


The story is in third person narrative from AEthelflaed "Teasel"'s point of view, although from time to time Ethelred's and Edward's points of view are also mentioned in the story. Despite the constant warfare that surrounds Teasel's life, we see the physical battles very little. But psychological and emotional battles as well as the scars they impart on the characters are much more difficult to ignore. The story focuses more on the daily life of Teasel's family as well as Teasel trying to overcome her fears and becoming an amazing queen. Teasel is also shown as a human being who errs and makes mistakes just like anyone else. I found the story to be amazing and extremely detailed as well as vivid.

Author Information:


I often imagine the glamour and glitz that royal titles have had on people, little knowing that in the past the life of royal is far more than just scheming and politics and gaining power. Previously I've read a lot of books that dealt with royalty, although to be fair those took place in 1600s to almost 1800s, and its a big difference between the two. Royalty in 1600s to 1700s focused on wealth, glamour, trendsetting, trickery and being on top. In this book, however, being a royal means doing what is right even if your heart is against it, always being there for the people you are in charge of through good and bad times and always being a helpmate to your love. If you're looking for a non-stop action novel, then this is not the right story, but if you are seeking a story that faithfully recreates the daily life of late 9th to early 10th centuries in England and where one watches the growth of a young girl to a mature woman who will do whatever she can for her adopted people and country at the cost of her own family and happiness and who truly grows and shines as a star in the sky, then you've found the right book.

This was given to me for an honest review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G934 Book Review of Death comes by Sue Hallgarth

Name of Book: Death Comes

Author:Sue Hallgarth

ISBN: 978-0-9855200-4-5

Publisher: Arbor Farm Press

Type of book: 1926, writing, Willa Cather and Edith Lewis, Mabel Dodge Luhan, New Mexico, scandals, relationships, mystery, deaths, racism, prostitution

Year it was published: 2017


Following On the Rocks, Sue Hallgarth's first Willa Cather and Edith Lewis mystery, ''Death Comes'' gives us another glimpse into the life and work of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Willa Cather and her talented life partner. The year is 1926. Willa and Edith return to Mabel Dodge Luhans pink adobe in Taos, New Mexico. Willa is writing ''Death Comes for the Archbishop.'' Edith is sketching Taos pueblo and hoping for a visit to the nearby D.H. Lawrence ranch. The previous summer they had stumbled on a woman's body. Now the headless bodies of two women add to the mystery. Sue Hallgarth presents an intimate portrait of Cather, Lewis, the spectacular New Mexico landscape, and the famous artists and writers Mabel Dodge Luhan gathered in Taos.


I admit that the book had quite a lot of characters, and unfortunately I can't recall all of them, although I will try to mention what I believe are the main characters. Edith Lewis and Willa Cather are the main characters, one an illustrator I believe while the other is the famous author. They have an easy companionship with one another and both understand one another. There is also Mabel Dodge Luhan who is best known for her scandalous life and history as well as her marriage to Tony Luhan, a Pueblo Native American. There is also Spud who is sort of an editor? for Mabel and who has his own magazine and Adam who goes out to check out what's going on with D.H Lawrence raunch and comes upon across Maria who has gone through her own horrors.


One never knows how things will tie up together


The story is in third person narrative from Edith's as well as some male characters' points of view. While I enjoyed the scenery and learning more about the American artist scene as opposed to the famous Parisian one of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, I found the many names and characters to be a bit overwhelming.

Author Information:

Sue Hallgarth is a former English professor. She has written scholarly articles on Willa Cather and Edith Lewis, and this is her second book of fiction featuring the two of them. Her first book in the series is On the Rocks, set in 1929 on the island of Grand Manan in New Brunwick, Canada. She lives in Corrales, NM.

Follow Sue on Facebook at suehallgarthauthor, on Twitter @suehallgarth, and on And follow Sue's blog, reviews and other news about her books and writing at


A lot of mysteries I've read previously seem to be a bit straightforward in their purpose. This story, however, calls for a reader to be involved in more than just figuring out who done it. The author really focuses on the details and lives of the characters as well as setting up New Mexico of the 1920s. This is not a mystery to rush through but instead its something to sit down and go through slowly because the story engages the five senses and provides a lot of knowledge and research of Taos, New Mexico. In fact, mystery is more secondary than the main plot.

This is for Poetic Book Tours

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

G927 Book Review of Lucky boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Name of Book: Lucky Boy

Author: Shanthi Sekaran

ISBN: 978-1-101-98226-6

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Type of book: infertility, illegal immigration, love, culture, privilege, Mexico, California, undocumented workers, surviving, foster parents, detention centers, border, immigration, marriage, budgeting, career, friendships, motherhood

Year it was published: 2016


A heart-wrenching novel about the transformative power of motherhood and the redemptive beauty of love, perfect for readers of Jacquelyn Mitchard, Jenny Offill, and Cristina Henriquez.

"A fiercely compassionate story about the bonds and the bounds of motherhood and, ultimately, of love." --Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

In this astonishing novel, Shanthi Sekaran gives voice to the devotion and anguish of motherhood through two women bound together by their love for one boy. Soli, a young undocumented Mexican woman in Berkeley, CA, finds that motherhood offers her an identity in a world where she's otherwise invisible. When she is placed in immigrant detention, her son comes under the care of Kavya, an Indian-American wife overwhelmed by her own impossible desire to have a child. As Soli fights for her son, Kavya builds her love on a fault line, her heart wrapped around someone else's child. Exploring the ways in which dreams and determination can reshape a family, Sekaran transforms real life into a thing of beauty. From rural Oaxaca to Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon Valley, Lucky Boy offers a moving and revelatory look at the evolving landscape of the American dream and the ever-changing borders of love.


Main characters include Solimar Castro Valdez, Kavya Reddy and Rishi Reddy as well as the little boy, Ignacio. Solimar Castro Valdez in beginning of the story is a young eighteen year old girl who comes undocumented from a poor village in Oaxaca Mexico. She is best described as resourceful, a survivor and someone who does her very best to follow the rules to the letter. Solimar is also lucky in some ways and isn't afraid of hardship. Kavya Reddy is an Indian-American woman who got married to her college sweetheart Rishi. Kavya, it often seems, knows only wealth and privilege of life although she has a very big heart and is ready to open her house to a baby that is not hers. She is a talented chef and doesn't easily give up on her desires, determined to get what she wants one way or another. As she fosters Ignacio, one watches Kavya become far more mature and more sacrificing towards the young boy. Rishi is a bit ambivalent about becoming a father either biologically or through adoption, although he loves Kavya a great deal and will do anything for her. Ignacio is Solimar's biological son and Kavya's foster son. Ignacio, it seems is a big boy who most likely will be talented with words instead of physical aspect. He also inspires love and devotion in whoever he gets to meet.


Motherhood speaks the universal tongue


The story is in third person narrative from Solimar's, Kavya's and to some extent, Rishi's points of views and it takes place over the course of a few years. For me the world that Solimar knows versus the world that Kavya experiences is very stark and is very black and white with little to no gray shades. A lot of things about the detention center where Solimar was forced to stay was shocking to say the least and left me speechless. For me as well, it often feels as if I was asked to choose which "mother" I shall root for. In other words, which will triumph more, nature or nurture? The un-talked
about subjects of infertility, money, career, immigration and privilege are well done.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Shanthi Sekaran teaches creative writing and is a member of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. She is the author of The Prayer Room and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Best New American Voices and Canteen, as well as online at ZYZZYVA and Mutha Magazine. A California native, she lives in Berkeley with her husband and two children. Lucky Boy is her second novel.


Is it possible to take on "taboo" issues and create a wonderful story from them? I am happy to say that in this story, the answer is a definite yes. The author takes on such a startling world of contrasts between the legal  and illegal immigration as well as treatment that women experience. In this story there are no right answers and its difficult to make up one's mind whose side is right and wrong. Although I believe that I went through legal "privileged" immigration, its odd that I related far more to illegal immigrant's side in terms of being a single mother to a little boy and having my parents help. As the reader sees more and more of two women's sides, it becomes difficult in choosing who is right; should the boy stay with his undocumented mother or should the boy stay with his well-off foster parents who want to adopt him? For a book that's guaranteed to change minds and lives, I highly recommend this story where main characters are as complex as the laws in this nation.

This was given to me by publisher for an honest review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G926 one sip at a time; Learning to live in Provence

Title of the book: one sip at a time; Learning to live in Provence

Author: Keith van Sickle

Publisher: Self published

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9983120-0-2


Keith and Val had a dream – to live in Provence, the land of brilliant sunlight, charming hilltop villages and the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean.

But there were two problems: they weren’t French speakers and they had full-time jobs. So they came up with a plan…

Follow their adventures (and misadventures) as they quit their jobs, become consultants and split their time between two countries. Laugh along as they build a life in Provence, slowly mastering a new language and making friends with the locals over long meals and just a bit too much wine.

This light and breezy memoir is full of wry observations on France, like the power of cheese to sway elections, the right and wrong ways for men to kiss each other, and the law requiring that blood donors must speak French.

If you’ve ever dreamed of changing gears and learning what joie de vivre is really all about, you won’t want to miss this delightful book.

Author Info:
(From the book)

Keith Van Sickle is a technology industry veteran and lifelong traveler who got his first taste of overseas life while studying in England during college. But it was the expat assignment to Switzerland that made him really fall in love with Europe. With his wife Val and their trusty dog, he now splits his time between Silicon Valley and Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.


Find the author on Facebook and Twitter
Visit his website

Subscribe to his mailing list and get information about new releases.
Buy The Book On Amazon.Com

Personal Opinion:

Looking for a short and sweet guide on what its like to live in France that is informative yet hilarious? Look no further than this book. I thought I read quite a lot on how Americans experienced France as tourists or as attempting to settle into a complex yet  rewarding world where pace of life is slow and where people are more welcoming. This book is part comedy and part information where the author dedicates short viginettes of French life for his audience. Some of the subjects that he tackles include French driving, kissing greetings and how holidays are celebrated where he stayed.

This is for France Book Tours


Monday, November 6
Review + Giveaway at Books, Dreams, Life

Tuesday, November 7
Review + Giveaway at An Accidental Blog

Wednesday, November 8
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at Locks, Hooks and Books

Thursday, November 9
Review by Grass Monster

Friday, November 10
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, November 13
Review + + Excerpt + Giveaway at Musings of a Writer & Unabashed Francophile

Tuesday, November 14
Review + Guest-Post + Giveaway at Books Are Cool

Wednesday, November 15
Review by Shree

Thursday, November 16
Review at Shelf Rider

Friday, November 17
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G948 Purple Turtle Graded Level 01

Title of the book: Purple Turtle Graded Level 01

Author: N/A

Publisher: Aadarsh Pvt. Ltd

Publishing Date: 2017



A1 Edutainment takes you to the world on an amazing new reading programme with Purple Turtle. The first level of Purple Turtle Graded Readers includes a set of 12 books with interesting stories and activities and 150 word count. This level is exclusively for learners who have just started reading. It is based on ATOS and Lexile reading level system. Comes with A Day with Purple; The Lost Bag; What Is That Smell?; A Family Visit; A Surprise for Roxy; The Runaway Wagon; Counting Insects; Purple Makes Soup; The Animal Parade; Music for Melody; Biggy's Bad Manners; Purple's New Shoes.

Author Info:
(From the iRead Website)

Purple Turtle is India’s 1st International brand with its educational content in several languages sold in more than 30 countries including Russia, China, US and UK. The character of Purple Turtle has delighted children across the globe through beautifully created Purple Turtle books, rhymes and videos available on YouTube.

Purple Turtle was created with the idea to spread education through a wide range of innovative books for children. To give them the experience of convenient online learning, Purple Turtle also brings both learning and entertainment on a common platform to give a wholesome learning experience to young minds.

​Connect with the publisher: Website ~ Twitter ~Facebook
Personal Opinion:

Although my son is not quite a reader yet, (about 19 months,) he does enjoy listening to Purple Turtle stories, namely A Day with Purple, Purple Makes Soup, The Animal Parade, and Purple's New Shoes. Each book is short, very colorful and it does teach children more than words; the little books cover colors, shapes, family, counting, etc. I also like the colorful illustrations that accompany each book and that show off Purple Turtle's world. I do think that focus on illustrations can be reworked because in one for example there is mention of strawberries and melon (Purple Makes Soup,) but I didn't see the illustration of strawberries and melon that should be there.

This is for iRead Book Tours


Oct 30 - Working Mommy Journal - review Level 2 / giveaway
Oct 31 - Library of Clean Reads - review of Level 2 / giveaway
Nov 1 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 2 - Bound 4 Escape - review Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 6 - Sara's Organized Chaos - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 7 - T's Stuff - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 7 - One Frugal Girl - review Level 2 / giveaway
Nov 8 - Reading is My Passion - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 8 - Seasons of Opportunities - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 9 - Divas With A Purpose - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 10 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of Level 1
Nov 13 - Did you Hear About the Morgans? - review of Level 1
Nov 13 - Blooming with Books - review of Level 2 / giveaway
Nov 14 - Brooke Blogs - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 14 - 100 Pages A Day - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 15 - FUONLYKNEW - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 16 - Kristin’s Novel CafĂ© - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 16 - Singing Librarian Books - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 17 - Bookworm for Kids - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 20 - ebook addicts - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 20 - Writer with Wanderlust - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 21 - Adventures Thru Wonderland - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 22 - Fantastic Feathers - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 23 - Life as Leels - review of Level 1
Nov 24 - Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 24 - This Mom's Delight - review of Level 1 / giveaway
TBD - Just One More - review Level 3
TBD - Rockin' Book Reviews - review Level 3 / giveaway
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Coming Attractions of November 2017

Last month I was unable to achieve my goals when it came to finishing and reading some books outside of book tours, I'm sad to report. Perhaps this month will be different? I don't have as many book tours on my blog, therefore I will be able to read and finish some books that are awaiting me for a while. I also am planning on reviewing some backup books, namely Traitor's Knot by Cryssa Bazos and To Be A Queen by Annie Whitehead. Cross fingers that I can review them!

For this month, I'm excited to report that a new book by Elizabeth St. John will be appearing on my blog, and I also will make sure that two of Jennifer Kincheloe's books will also be reviewed. Some other authors appearing on my blog include Death Comes by Sue Hallgarth which is a bit out of my depth because I know very little about the American literary scene in America. Also the first level of Purple Turtle books will appear along with a book spotlight for Twofer Murder by Lauren Carr (Book will be reviewed in January of next year!) Also I am planning on reading and reviewing Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaram. Without further ado, here is my November schedule:

Expect Reviews for... (Can Change)

Death Comes by Sue Hallgarth (November 4th, 2017 might get changed to a later date...) 

Purple Turtle Graded Readers Level 01 (November 10th, 2017)

One Sip at a time by Ketih Van Sickle (November 10th, 2017)

By Love Divided by Elizabeth St. John (November 17th, 2017)

Beyond Love by D.D. Marx (November 27th, 2017)

Book Spotlight for Twofer Murder by Lauren Carr (November 28th, 2017. Review to come in January)

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaram (I hope to be able to read and review it in November)

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe (I hope to be able to read and review it in November)

The Woman in the Camphor Trunk by Jennifer Kincheloe  (I hope to be able to read and review it in November)

Hopeful Reads... (Can change)

Bright from the Start; The Simle Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind from Birth to Age 3 (Mine boy is almost 2...better get started)

The Heirs by Susan Rieger

The Master of Verona by David Blixt (To this day I still recall the Prince of Doom by the author. Really better get to this book as well...)

Washington's Spies; The story of America's First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose

Dinosaurs without bones; Dinosaur lives revealed by their trace fossils by Anthony J. Martin

Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

November 2017

A House Divided-Pearl S Buck
SR: March 11th, 2016
Madness treads lightly- Polina Dashkova
SR: November 18th, 2017
Death comes- Sue Hallgarth
SR: October 29th, 2017
FR: November 11th, 2017
The Republic of uzupis- halJi
SR: January 4th 2017
The samurai of seville- John J Healey
SR: October 25th, 2017
FR: November 18th, 2017
The secret life of Anna Blanc- Jennifer Kincheloe
SR: October 27th, 2017
FR: November 9th, 2017
The woman in the camphor trunk- Jennifer Kincheloe
SR: November 9th, 2017
Beyond live-action d.d Marx
SR: November 11th, 2017
The Comet Seekers Helen Sedgwick
SR: January 17th 2017
Lucky boy- Shanthi Sekaram
SR: October 31st, 2017
FR: November 7th, 2017
By love divided- Elizabeth st John
SR: November 3rd, 2017
A gentleman in Moscow- amor Towles
SR: June 8th, 2017
What is forgiven-C.F Yetmen
SR: October 12th, 2017
FR: November 3rd 2017

Tree of Souls-Howard Schwartz
SR: February 10th, 2014
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