The Tuscan Child

Hmm…. Found this in my drafts, not sure why I didn’t publish it!  Loved it so much, thought I  would just post it now.  I wrote it originally on April 25, 2018


Book 25 in 2018.

“The Tuscan Child” by, Rhys Bowen.


I am a Rhys Bowen fan.  I have not read anything of hers that I did not enjoy.  (However her last book,”In Farleigh Field”, I was left wanting more, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.) Once again she did not disappoint.  You can be ready for a little classy love,  some mystery and a story that keeps moving.

Joanna Langley’s father has recently passed away.  Their relationship had always been difficult and distant.  While cleaning out his belongings, she finds a love letter  to a woman from Italy, that was written at the end of WWII.  Searching for answers as to who her father really was, she makes the trip to Italy to try and uncover the past.

While you are following Joanna’s story from 1973, you are also following her father Hugo Langley’s story from 1944.  Both characters are equally intriguing and you are rooting for them both.   I know I am completely biased because Rhys is my girl, but I thought this book was excellent.  Overall afterthought, another win.

Big Little Lies

Book 24 in 2018.

‘Big Little Lies”, by Liane Moriarty.


After what seems like a severely long dry spell of “eh” books, I feel like I am finally on a little bit of a roll (I will probably regret saying that…).  I read Liane Moriarty’s “The Husband’s Secret”, and thought it was ok.  I read the first fifty or so pages of “Truly Madly Guilty”, and put it down because I could not get into it.  I was not sure what to expect with this.  HBO, did turn this into a limited series recently, which I have not seen.  So I thought, why not.

I read this bad boy in two days.  Regrettably  (only because I cannot function without at least nine hours of sleep) I stayed up till two a.m. last night finishing it.  I just had to know the ending! It does have some language in it, but is not overwhelming, and is fairly clean.

The story starts off in the present where you find out there has been a wild fundraising party with parents at an elementary school, where there was raucous behavior, and ended in murder.  No one is confessing anything.  The rest of the book, takes you back six months and gives you the back story of the events that lead up to the night in question.  It leaves you guessing who was murdered, and who is the murderer.  There are three main women, who live very different versions of motherhood, but who have become great friends and are connected in more ways than they even know.

Great mystery. Great story line.  Great characters.  A little sad.  A little sarcastic humor.  A lot of  mama drama. Overall afterthought,  could not read it fast enough.

The Wedding Date

Book 23 in 2018.

“The Wedding Date” by, Jasmine Guillory


I did not know when I picked this up that it was considered “Contemporary Romance”.  So there was a little bit more love going on than what I am used to.  Skip a page or two every once in a while , and you are good to go (at least that is how I roll).  Other than that I thought this was super cute.

Alexa meets Drew in an elevator after the power goes out and they are stuck in it together.  Drew is in town for a wedding without a date, and after they are able to leave the confines of the elevator, he asks her if she would pretend to be his girlfriend for the weekend wedding festivities.  They hit it off and have a great time, and the weekend spirals into a budding romance.  However, Alexa is cautious of her feelings towards Drew since he admitted he is not good at relationships.  Drew, is experiencing feelings he doesn’t know what to do with! Could he be in love?

Whew.  The ups and downs, and winding road of Drew and Alexa! It kind of reminds me of the old “he loves me, he loves me not” mantra while picking flower pedals.  A little stressful, but a little sweet.   This book was a quick cute read.  Pretty close to what I have been looking for.  Overall afterthought, I liked it.

The Baker’s Secret

Book 22 in 2018.

“The Baker’s Secret”, by Stephen P. Kiernan


For whatever reason World War II genre stories have always been my favorite.  If they are spy, WWII, make that a double bonus!  This was not necessarily a spy story, more of a defiance story.  Perseverance and the unwillingness to let evil prevail!

Emma is a baker’s apprentice living in a small village in France near Normandy.  Her whole life is turned upside down when invading Nazi soldiers take over the village.  Her boyfriend is sent away, her father is sent to jail for hiding people in their barn,  and the Jewish baker she works under is eventually killed.   A high ranking Nazi officer has ordered her to make bread for his men every day.  Without enough rations for food, she devices a plan to help feed her now starving friends and family.

I loved everything about this book.  This is probably up there with one of the best fiction WWII novels I have read.  It had plenty of story to it, and of course was sad, but I didn’t’ feel overwhelmed with sorrow, or have to sob my way through sections.  It was pretty clean too.  At some point half way through, I noticed it was written by a man (ok, so I didn’t know, or check who the author was before I started reading… it happens), which I don’t always think can convey the way a main female character actually feels, but Kiernan pulled it off.   Overall afterthought, excellent.

the recipe box

Book 21 in 2018.

“the recipe box” by Viola Shipman



In my ongoing search of a new, cute, fluffy chick lit story.  I have come across this quaint story of generations of women coming together through their recipes.  (Recipe’s included! I did take a couple down, they sounded good)  Sam Mullins grew up in Northern Michigan on a family run orchard, complete with donuts and baked goods.  In her search for independence and adulthood, she moves to the exciting culinary scene in New York City, to start her own career, away from the family.   In a series of events, after several years away, she finds herself right back at home, feeling insecure, and unsure of what to do next.  Her grandma, and mom come to her aid, tell her their stories, and help  walk her through the rocky emotions of young adulthood.

Ok.  I have been struggling, with these beach reads.  I mean, there was absolutely nothing wrong with this book.  It was clean, and cute.  Simple and heartwarming.   It was a little bit opposite for me this time,  I was really into it the first hundred or so pages.  Then it seemed to get redundant.   Pull  yourself together Sam!  I just wasn’t feeling it.  Ugh….. I know that’s so harsh.  (Sorry about that.) Overall afterthought,  apparently the search continues.

Escape from Camp 14

Book 20 in 2018.

“Escape from Camp 14” by, Blaine Harden



Wow.  This book was absolutely insane.  INSANE.  I knew the North Koreans had labor camps, I knew they were oppressing, and starving their people.  I knew the government there is tyrannical, malicious, brutal and delusional.  However, this took it to a whole new level.

“Escape from Camp 14”, is the powerful biography of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who is the only known survivor to escape the North Korean political enemy labor camp number 14.  His horrific living conditions of his birth to age 23, are the most barbaric, inhuman images you could imagine.  They are not from some sadistic, nazi prison camp of some 80 years ago, but from right now.  Present day.  This is happening right this minute.  Shin is only three years younger than me.  We are of the same generation.  It is estimated that there are a possible 200,000 political prisoners in labor camps throughout North Korea.  Shin was born into Camp 14, because his father was put there as a teenager after the Korean War, when his older brothers escaped to South Korea.  His father’s sentence,  a three generation imprisonment.

His life’s journey, has been a level of perseverance and endurance that I will never quite be able to grasp.  The daily struggle to survive, from his formative years through adulthood, have left haunting scars on his psyche that will take a lifetime to overcome, Lord willing.  Reading books like these, always give you a punch in the gut.  What could possibly come close to complain about?  What if anything, is there to do about it?  Overall afterthought, eye opening, mind altering.

Always Something There to Remind Me

Book 19 in 2018.

“Always Something There to Remind Me”,

By Beth Harbison


I was looking for a nice little beach read for vacation.  This was a bit much for me. Holy mercy and all that is good in the world. Too much dra-ma. (Insert the largest eye roll you have ever seen.)

Ugh this.

Erin, experienced an intense first love as a teenager, and had a two year relationship with Nate. It ended bad. She never got over it. Went through depression, counseling, several meaningless relationships. Had a baby with a boyfriend, she “cared” for. But no one, NO one, could match up to that first love from when she was fifteen. Now, 23 years later, she is in a relationship with a great guy who has it all, nice, caring to her daughter, successful, good looking. When he gets down on one knee to ask her to marry him, one name pops in her head, Nate.

The story pops back and forth between the past, and the present. So you get to experience Erin go over her agonizing teenage angst throughout every chapter. It was just too much rehashing the same, “does he still love me”, over and over and over. (I only finished it just because I am on the beach, and only have so much reading material.) There was a ton of sex, and lots of language. Boo! Overall afterthought, um no.

End Game

Book 18 in 2018.

“End Game” by David Baldacci.


Ok, I know I just read a Baldacci book. There was a wait list for this one at the library, so I couldn’t renew it, and had to read it next. (Sorry Beth, you won’t like this one). This is number five, in the Will Robie series. I read number four like two years ago, so I had to download that one on my library app, to kind of refresh what happened, I couldn’t remember what they kept referencing. So, you should definitely read this series in order. ( Unless you are a freak and can handle it)

Will Robie and Jessica Reel are America’s top sniper assassins, who get sent in to do jobs no one else can. When their handler Blue Man goes missing in the wilds of Colorado, they are sent in to find him. Havoc ensues.

****Some Spoiler Alerts ****

I really feel that every story is actually a love story. Ha, total sappy thought, but think about it. All stories are about what people have a passion for, what they would fight for, die for. It gets me all mushy, even ruthless assassins have feelings.  Jess and Robie need to just get married and end the suspense. Who is better for an assassin than an assassin? They will totally get you.

With that said, apparently the wilds of Colorado are pretty primitive. There are neo-nazi skin heads, religious psychos-cults, and chemists who have turned underground bomb silos into drug making emporiums, and who also kill the kidnapped illegal immigrants after they force them to do their dirty work. (My brother lives very close to where this story takes place, I will have to warn him)

Whew. This book has it all! (Including a little language, but relatively clean, thanks David). Poor Will and Jess, they are just a couple of lost souls trying to keep us all safe.  I just wish the next one would come out soon, so I can see what they are up to. Overall afterthought, it’s my jam.