Book Talk Tuesday: Quick Reviews

The last of the books I read on vacation, what I’m reading now, and what’s next on Mount To Be Read (TBR).

THE WEDDING VEIL by Kristy Woodson Harvey (ebook)

This is my second novel by Ms. Harvey and (I believe) her first time-slip (two storylines in different time periods). The story follows the real life Edith Vanderbilt and her daughter, Cornelia, and the wedding veil they both wore that had been in their family and worn by all the brides for generations. That’s the historical time line. The contemporary story is about Julia whose family also has a legacy veil with a legend that each bride who wears it will be blessed with a long and happy marriage.

I enjoyed this fictionalized glimpse of what life may have been like in the early 20th century for one of the wealthiest families in America, the owners of the largest private home in the country and the upkeep and maintenance it required. Julia’s story was well done also, with a loving and supportive grandmother. Both women embark on journeys with the other one to cheer them on.

THE MESSY LIVES OF BOOK PEOPLE by Phaedra Patrick (ebook)

Liv is a wife/mum/daughter/cleaning lady who is shocked to find that one of her clients, a reclusive and best-selling author, asks Liv to complete her current manuscript. The task gives Liv a set of experiences and life lessons that test her marriage and her faith in her family and her memories.

I enjoyed watching Liv’s journey from feeling like a nobody and embarrassed about her lack of marketable skills to a woman, confident in her knowledge, instincts, and people skills.

Currently Reading:

THE GOLDEN HOUR by Beatriz Williams (ebook)

I love Beatriz Williams’ historical stories, both her own titles and the ones she writes with Lauren Willig and Karen White. I’m slowly working my way through the backlists. THE GOLDEN HOUR is from 2019, so not terribly old. There are 3 timelines, following two main characters. Elfriede in Germany in 1900, Lulu in 1941 and 1943. I don’t want to say much more because I’m about halfway through and I don’t want to give anything away. And while I see how Elfriede’s story will intersect with Lulu’s, I’m not there yet. But so far, it’s up to what I expect from Williams: sharply drawn characters, an intricate plot, and intense dilemmas.

THE LOST GIRLS OF IRELAND by Susanne O’Leary (paperback)

This was given to me on vacation by a friend who’d finished it and was passing it on. Her assessment: It’s pretty good, I guess. Mine: I set it aside after the first few chapters and decided not to finish it. But at the last minute I stuffed it in my suitcase and brought it home. I will finish it. It’s not a hard read and I can knock it out in another couple of hours.

It tells the story of a “society” wife in Dublin whose husband dies suddenly and she finds she’s broke and he was leaving the country after defrauding his company. But luckily, she owns a cottage in west Ireland left to her by her aunt, so she takes her teenage daughter and moves there.

The writing has no nuance, no real voice. The story is predictable and not very well told. Not recommended, at this point. I’ll let you know if I change my mind when I finish it.

On top of my TBR:

WELCOME TO BEACH TOWN by Susan Wiggs (paperback)

**I won a copy of this upcoming June 2023 release through a Goodreads giveaway.**

From the Amazon description:

Every town has its secrets…

In idyllic Alara Cove, a California beach town known for its sunny charm and chill surfer vibe, it’s graduation day at the elite Thornton Academy. At Thornton, the students are the worldly and overindulged children who live in gated enclaves with spectacular views. But the class valedictorian is Nikki Graziola, a surfer’s daughter who is there on scholarship. To the shock of everyone in the audience, Nikki veers off script while giving her commencement address and reveals a secret that breaks open the whole community. As her truth explodes into the light, Alara Cove will face a reckoning.

Nikki Graziola’s accusation shakes the foundation of Alara Cove, pitting her against the wealthy family whose money runs the town. Her new notoriety sends Nikki into exile for years, where she finds fame—but not fortune—overseas as a competition surfer…until a personal tragedy compels her to return to Alara Cove.

 As Nikki struggles to rebuild her future, she finds that the people of the town have not forgotten her. But time has changed Alara Cove, and old friendships, rivalries, and an unexpected romance draw her back into the life of the beach town she’s never quite forgotten, and where joy and redemption may be possible after all.

I’ve read and loved Susan Wiggs’ other books so I’m looking forward to this one!

FLYING SOLO by Linda Holmes (ebook)

Once I finish THE GOLDEN HOUR, this is next in my Kindle queue.

From the Amazon description: Smarting from her recently canceled wedding and about to turn forty, Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown of Calcasset to handle the estate of her great-aunt Dot, a spirited adventurer who lived to be ninety-three. Alongside boxes of Polaroids and pottery, a mysterious wooden duck shows up at the bottom of a cedar chest. Laurie’s curiosity is piqued, especially after she finds a love letter to the never-married Dot that ends with the line “And anyway, if you’re ever desperate, there are always ducks, darling.”

Laurie is told that the duck has no financial value. But after it disappears under suspicious circumstances, she feels compelled to figure out why anyone would steal a wooden duck—and why Dot kept it hidden away in the first place. Suddenly Laurie finds herself swept up in a righteous caper that has her negotiating with antiques dealers and con artists, going on after-hours dates at the local library, and reconnecting with her oldest friend and her first love. Desperate to uncover her great-aunt’s secrets, Laurie must reckon with her own past and her future—and ultimately embrace her own vision of flying solo.

With a cast of unforgettable characters and a heroine you will root for from page one, Flying Solo is a wonderfully original story about growing up, coming home, and learning to make a life for yourself on your own terms.

I’ve seen many recommendations for this one, as well as Holmes’ previous book, EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER. Stay tuned for my thoughts on this one in a few weeks.

Book Talk Tuesday: A Quilt For Jenna

I’m a little tired of Amish fiction so I opened A Quilt for Jenna with just a bit of trepidation.

I was immediately captivated by Jerusha’s pain and her need to quilt and flee her life and her grief. I loved the book! A Quilt for Jenna by Patrick E. CraigAnother reviewer said, “Amish + Quilts = reader’s delight!”

I concur.

Jerusha and Reuben fell in love but Reuben wasn’t an Amish man in good standing with the community. Then he went off to fight in World War II. He came home a changed man, determined to live by the Ordung, and return to his Amish roots. He and Jerusha marry and are happy.

A few years later, Jerush and Reuben lose their only child, Jenna. Neither Reuben nor Jerusha can find their way back to the other. Reuben blames himself forJenna’s death. So does Jerusha. Reuben has left their Amish community. Jerusha has stitched a wonderful quilt that is to be her ticket out of Apple Creek.

On Thanksgiving weekend 1950, a horrific storm blew through Ohio, capturing Jerusha and her quilt in its fury. A little girl in the back seat of another car is abandoned and left to die. The two find each other and take refuge from the storm.

Patrick Craig is equally as good at both the male and female points of view. The battle scenes at Guadalcanal are as painstakingly crafted as Jerusha’s quilting scenes.

I liked how the backstory of what happened during World War II was interwoven with the 1950’s events.

Mr. Craig accomplished what I thought was impossible: weaving a compelling Amish/quilting story into a wonderful tale of love, loss, and redemption.
I’ll definitely read the next one in the Apple Creek Dreams series!