(Review) Little French Bistro by Nina George

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Publisher and Publication Date: Broadway Books. 2017.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 368.
Source: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Rating: Good.

Blogging for Books is no longer in the book review business. For several years, I’d signed up for books through their program. This is the last book and review I’ll do for them.

Amazon

Summary:
Marianne is age 60. She’s been married to Lothar for 41 years. They don’t have children. They live in Germany. She has one friend. Marianne’s life is void of intimacy. She is in a dark place. To say she is unhappy is an understatement. Lothar is selfish and controlling. He’s treated her as chattel. She and Lothar travel to Paris, France. She attempts suicide by jumping into the Seine River. She is rescued and hospitalized. In an impulsive moment, she leaves the cruel life behind and relocates to the Brittany coast.

My Thoughts:
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, Marianne’s life and turnaround kept me immersed. I read this book in about two days. I had to know what would happen to this little mouse of a woman. I wondered if she had the perseverance to reinvent her life? I wondered if she planned to attempt suicide again? I wondered if she would eventually return to Lothar?
Another aspect of the book I loved is the opening line:

“It was the first decision she had ever made on her own, the very first time she was able to determine the course of her life.”

I loved the scenery descriptions of Brittany, the coastline, and the town where she resides.
What I did not like is the predictability of the story. What I hoped to read is she reinvented herself internally without the need to find happiness in another person. In my opinion, there is joy in life without depending on a romantic interest. She had a wonderful vocation, friends, and a dreamy place to live. She had a new outlook on life and a new view of herself. She had the chance to enjoy understanding who Marianne is at this point in life. I am disappointed she focused outside herself to find that happiness. Stories like this are a dime a dozen. Why not have a heroine who becomes strong without depending on a man? Why not focus on her developing character?
I want to clarify. I love romantic stories, but Marianne had spent over 40 years in an abusive relationship. I feel she needed to find herself, and drink in the life she’d not even noticed before.

My favorite quote from page 24.

My husband neither touched my soul nor charmed my body.

 

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(Review) The Cold Light of Dawn, The King’s Greatest Enemy Series, Book Four by Anna Belfrage

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Publisher and Publication Date: Troubador/Matador. February 16, 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 434.
Source: Free copy from Anna Belfrage.
Rating: Excellent.

About The Author:
03_Anna Belfrage
Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…
For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.
Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Direct link to the giveaway:
https://gleam.io/bgx29/the-cold-light-of-dawn
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Summary:
After Henry of Lancaster’s rebellion has been crushed early in 1329, a restless peace settles over England. However, the young Edward III is no longer content with being his regents’ puppet, no matter that neither Queen Isabella nor Roger Mortimer show any inclination to give up their power. Caught in between is Adam de Guirande, torn between his loyalty to the young king and that to his former lord, Roger Mortimer.
Edward III is growing up fast. No longer a boy to be manipulated, he resents the power of his mother, Queen Isabella, and Mortimer. His regents show little inclination of handing over their power to him, the rightful king, and Edward suspects they never will unless he forces their hand.
Adam de Guirande is first and foremost Edward’s man, and he too is of the opinion that the young king is capable of ruling on his own. But for Adam siding with his king causes heartache, as he still loves Roger Mortimer, the man who shaped him into who he is.
Inevitably, Edward and his regents march towards a final confrontation. And there is nothing Adam can do but pray and hope that somehow things will work out. Unfortunately, prayers don’t always help.

The Cold Light of Dawn is the fourth book in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord and his king.
The series of The King’s Greatest Enemy:
All ebooks are free through Kindle Unlimited.
In the Shadow of the Storm-price for Kindle edition is $2.99
Days of Sun and Glory-price for Kindle edition is $4.99
Under the Approaching Dark-price for Kindle edition is $4.99
The Cold Light of Dawn-price for Kindle edition is $4.99

My Thoughts:
I love this story! I became immersed in it from the first page!
I’ve not read the previous three books in this series, but didn’t have a problem keeping up with the story.
The main characters are Adam and Kit. They are a married couple with several children. He is a minor knight. He is a person who is strong in body and mind. He is a man who loves and adores his wife. I’m happy to read a story where the married couple always place the other first. Even though Adam has duties and allegiance to Edward III. Adam’s thoughts are never far from Kit. Both Adam and Kit are a committed couple who enjoy each other’s bodies, and who depend on one another for comfort and strength. Their love is beautiful and endearing.
A plot is building between Edward III, and his mother and Mortimer. They are Edward’s regents. He is a grown man with a wife. He wants full control as king. Time is running out for the old ways.
In fact, The Cold Light of Dawn gave me a solid perspective of life during the 1300s in England. Through the story I learned about their attire, living quarters, travel, eating, holidays, pregnancy and birthing.
Belfrage is a wonderful storyteller. The crafting of the characters, narration, and plot pushed me along to the last page. I felt apart of the story. I felt a strong investment in the outcome of Adam and Kit.

(Review) Trade Your Cares For Calm by Max Lucado

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Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas Nelson. December 26, 2017.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Anxiety and worry.
Pages: 208.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon
Calm is a small book compiled from previously written books by Max Lucado. The theme is anxiety. The previously published books are Anxious for Nothing, Facing Your Giants, Fearless, Max on Life, 3:16: The Numbers of Hope, Traveling Light, You’ll Get Through This. Max Lucado is strong in using illustrations to prove his points. One of the illustrations is from the book: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic. Dr. Kent Brantly was a physician in Africa who became sick with the Ebola virus. I’ve not read this book, but am familiar with the story.
Calm is a book holding memorable quotes.

The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional. Page 6.

Is it possible that the wonder of Heaven will make the most difficult life a good bargain. Page 11.

The widest river in the world is not the Mississippi, Amazon, or Nile. The widest river on earth is a body of water called If Only. Page 120.

The good life begins, not when circumstances change, but when our attitude toward them does. Page 121.

Max Lucado teaches two points in helping combat anxiety: attitude and gratitude. My attitude in response to the worry and being grateful for blessings. I remember several years ago when I had cancer, the season was autumn. The things I was thankful for was the fall foliage, blue sky, cooler weather, and the birds who sang outside my bedroom window. Being thankful is not always focused on the big things in life, often it is being thankful for the small everyday wonders.

(Review) Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

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Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins, 2015.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 278.
Source: Library.
Rating: Very Good.

Amazon

Links of interest on Harper Lee. Her given name was Nelle Harper Lee (1926-2016).
Biography
Britannica
Harper Lee

Readers have remarked, Go Set A Watchman, was published without Harper Lee’s consent. According to what I’ve read online this is untrue. The story was written prior to the story, To Kill A Mockingbird, but was not accepted for publication. The publishers asked her to write a story centering on Scout as a child, and she began work on To Kill A Mockingbird. Go Set A Watchman rested in a safe-deposit box for years. The manuscript was found by her attorney and given to HarperCollins with Lee’s consent. The book was published in 2015.
I enjoyed reading the above links. A few questions were answered about her life. I love it that she didn’t care for fashion and the conventions of the culture of her era. She did not marry. She was close to her sister. She was educated, and lived in both New York City and Alabama. Despite how Truman Capote treated her, she forgave him and went on with life. She was an avid reader.
Go Set A Watchman set off strong reactions of angst and anger. I’ve heard some people say it is its own book, a stand alone story. I’ve heard some people remark they hate it, because of the dramatic difference in Atticus.
Go Set A Watchman is strongly related and it is the after story of To Kill A Mockingbird. I believe people reconcile by stating the two books are not a book 1 and 2. However, both books hold the same characters. Go Set A Watchman refers to the other story. They are apart of each other. However, they are different facets of the characters. And they show a different perspective. To Kill A Mockingbird is told through the eyes of a child. Go Set A Watchman is told through the eyes of a young woman.
As I have grown older, I have learned that life is messy and complicated. The reason is this is real life and not a fictional story. Another reason is people are messy and complicated. Further, we see in people what they choose to reveal and what our own maturity sees. I have been married 35 years. I do not know everything about my husband. I know what he has told me and what I have seen. People do not know another person’s heart unless they share through their voice or it is displayed in their life. I’ve known some people, usually older, who reveal a hidden secret. No other person knew of this secret, they’d held on to this secret deep in their heart. I say all this to state my point: Scout, who is known in Go Set A Watchman as Jean Louise, finds out things about her father, childhood friend, and town that is NOT what she’d remembered as a child. What she thought she knew about them is not true or incomplete. She feels betrayed and angry. She has been stripped of innocence. Another way of looking at this is she has finally grown up.
To Kill A Mockingbird is a magical story. Not a fantasy fiction magic story. It is a story that speaks to any age or generation of people. It is a nostalgic story. It’s a classic. And it used to be required reading in high school!
Go Set A Watchman does not hold the same feelings and thoughts as the more beloved book. It is a book that causes discussion. It is a great book for a book club. It is a book that can be dissected and read for its own merit.
Both books were written in the 1950s. This was a pivotal point in Civil Rights. People’s views began to change. It was a long labor intensive fight. It reminds me of a woman who is in labor. The labor is necessary to bring about birth.
My parents were born in the 1920s. Their perspective was radically different from mine. My dad came around quickly to believing in Civil Rights. My mother never did. I still loved my mother, I just disagreed with her.
I’m glad I read Go Set A Watchman. I’m glad to read it through the lens and maturity of my age, 54.

(Review) Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

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Publisher and Publication Date: St. Martin’s Griffin. Paperback edition, 2010.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 436.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Good.

Amazon

Summary:
Meredith and Nina are sisters. Their mother is cold, harsh and withdrawn. They grew up hearing fairy tale stories their mother told them. These stories are a mix of nostalgia and mystery for the sisters. Their beloved father was their source of parental affection and intimacy. Their father began an apple business. Later, Meredith took charge of the family business. Nina is a traveling photographer. Her job takes her to dangerous areas in the world. Meredith chose to make a life with her childhood sweetheart. Nina chose a nomadic gypsy life. The two sisters are brought together again after a significant event in the family. The fairy tale stories told by their mother will reveal a sobering reality of their heritage.

My Thoughts:
There are things I like about the book. There are things I dislike about the book.

What I like:
•World War II history through the memories of the mother.
•The mystery element of the fairy tale. Is the tale real or crafted?
•Nina’s vagabond life. Her life is polar opposite of Meredith. Not all siblings choose to dramatically do something different from the other. Each sister’s life brings a sharp contrast to the other. The lifestyles they chose had more to do with what they had and did not have as children. Their insecurities, fears; the inability to talk about hard stuff; a since of loss (something or someone); what they felt gave them a since of belonging and grounding.
•The ending has closure.

What I disliked:
•The fairy tale stories went on and on. In a since, Winter Garden is two stories with two time periods. I’m not a fan of fairy tales and this part I speed read.
•Both sisters are selfish. Both are feeding off something or someone, but not giving anything in return. This part is not significantly reconciled in the book, sort of, but not really.