Lady Ansel's Book Vibes

I am a retired medical professional now disabled.  I gather books like a squirrel gathers nuts.  I spend my days reading and post reviews when I can.  Great authors perform art with words.  Having the capability to make someone happy or sad and travel to different times and places has always impressed me.  Through my reviews I hope to encourage others to read and enjoy the art of great authors of our past, present, and future.

Intriguing delightful European historical story

Congress of Secrets - Stephanie Burgis

*I received an e-ARC of this novel through Edelweiss and Pyr in exchange for an honest review*

 

Stephanie Burgis wrote a very entertaining enjoyable read with characters that jump right off the page.  “Congress of Secrets” is a great period drama with a very intriguing plot occurring at the Congress of Vienna hosted by the Emperor Frances in 1814 after Napoleon had fallen.  Ms. Bugis used real historical events and characters interwoven with the fictional creating a captivating story of political intrigue, dark alchemy, with a touch of romance and humor.  She builds and builds this well researched story with twists and turns and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. 

 

There are several characters in this story but not so many that you loose track of who is who.  The two main well developed fictional characters are Caroline Wyndham a British noble a.k.a. Karolina Vogl, and Prince Kalishnikoff of Kenova a.k.a. Michael Steinhüller who are both separately trying to pull of the con of their life.  Here is where the humor comes in, they both knew each other when they were Karolina and Michael.  Caroline/Karolina is not happy with the Prince/Michael for what happened when they were younger blaming him for what happened to her and her father.  Karolina’s and Michael’s early story is revealed slowly as the story develops, and their romance progresses as they slowly tell each other what happened on that day.  Also we have additional fictional characters, Peter Riesenbeck and his theatrical troupe, who are in Vienna hopefully to make their fame and fortune.  Politically there are several true historical nobles, ambassadors and royalty figures all vying for Emperor France’s favor to obtain property lost to Napoleon during the war.  Then we have last but not least The Count of Pergen, Emperor France’s right had man or whatever he truly is practicing dark dark alchemy.    My favorite historical character was Prince de Ligne the confidant of both Caroline/Karolina, and Prince/Michael.

 

Ms. Burgis brought the Congress of Vienna to life, in “Congress of Secrets” using the language and formality of the times in this intriguing delightful European historical story with an ending like not other.  Historical fiction lovers this is one to add to your to read list, you will not be disappointed.

The Pattern Artist

The Pattern Artist - Nancy Moser

I received a copy of “The Pattern Artist” by Nancy Moser via Barbour Publishing and their partnership with NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

 

This is the first book I have read by Nancy Moser and I look forward to reading more. I really wanted to love this story as it contained so many of my favorite things to read about, history, fashion, some mystery/suspense, romance, rags to riches, plus an inspirational message, and for the most part I did enjoy this story, however, everything just seemed to happen way to fast. My first thought is that this wonderful story should have been a series or maybe at least another 100 pages. Annie progressing from maid to shopgirl, to pattern designer/artist and then to fashion designer all within just a few months was a bit overwhelming with everything else that also happened in her life.

 

Nancy Moser’s attention to detail when it came to the historical aspect of this book was authentic and worked very well with the fictional part of the story. Her descriptions were so good that one could not only smell the bread in Tuttle’s bakery but taste it too, visualize the clothing in Macy’s, the actual drawings and dresses in Paris, and the making of a Butterick Pattern. I learned a lot reading this story and Nancy made it fun. The suspense/drama between Grasston, a footman, Annie, and her friends, Iris and Danny, had me on the edge of my seat, add the romance/adventures of Annie and Sean, a Butterick pattern salesman, and the pages just kept turning. One thing that truly amazed me was that Ms. Moser brings all of her characters to life so vividly that you feel you know each one of them personally.

 

Overall Nancy Moser wrote a captivating story of historical people and events which blended effortlessly with the fictional characters and their adventures. I highly recommend this eloquent story of Annie’s adventures and her journey into womanhood.

Cute Christian Cozy Mystery

Maggie Dove: A Mystery - Susan Breen

I received a copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group-Alibi via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

This is a cute christian cozy mystery that kept me engaged until the end. The setting of the story in a picturesque small town along the Hudson River was exceptionally real. Growing up in that area I could not only see but smell the surroundings as I was reading. Susan Breen also did a great job at making the main character Maggie Dove very human. I felt like I knew her from the very beginning. A mystery writer for a main character was a first for me which made the story interesting to see how she would handle solving a real murder.

 

To me the murderer was easy to flush out but the reason why not so much. However, the author does give you other persons of interest to think that maybe your first guess was not right. Knowing who the killer was did not deter me from continuing to read this very entertaining story.

 

I was delighted to be able to get to know Maggie Dove, and look forward to spending more time with her.

Adorable Furry Mystery

Till Death Do Us Tart (Oxford Tearoom Mysteries ~ Book 4) (Volume 4) - H.Y. Hanna

* I received and ARC copy of “Till Death Do Us Tart (Oxford Tearoom Mysteries ~ Book 4)” from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own and I was in no way compensated for this review*

 

This story was a little different from the others in the series. Many new side characters were introduced in the beginning as Mom drags Gemma and Muesli to the Cotswold’s Cat Fancy Club Show where all h..l breaks loose. The police had decided the victim died of natural causes but Mom and the Old Biddies were sure it was murder, and work together to solve the mystery. Gemma against the advice of her boyfriend detective Devlin O'Connor cannot help but get involved.

 

Hsin-Yi did an awesome job developing so many characters in this cozy mystery from the victim to all the possible suspects, as well as continuing to grow the existing characters since book one “A Scone To Die For”.

 

I am either getting better at sleuthing myself or the suspect was easier to spot in this particular Oxford Tearoom Mystery. I challenge you all to see how long it takes you to spot who-did-it and how they did it. The how had me stumped until the end. I tip my hat to Hsin-Yi for writing the adorable furry mystery.

Darling Prequel

All-Butter ShortDead (Prequel: Oxford Tearoom Mysteries ~ Book 0) - H.Y. Hanna

Hsin-Yi Hanna wrote a darling prequel to her Oxford Tearoom Mystery series. She did a wonderful job introducing all of the characters that make her stories one of the best cozy series I have ever read. I always wondered how the characters all got together and the tearoom came about and now I know. Of course the story would not be complete without a mystery for Gemma to solve which kept me guessing until the very end.

 

All of the stories in this series are a joy to read. Great character development, a well written mystery, and laugh-out-loud humor. What more could you ask for. Cozy mystery lovers who are not reading this series are missing out on a real gem.

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living - Louise Miller

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Penguin Random House’s First To Read in order to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

The story centers around Olivia aka Livvy a pastry chef looking for a place to call home. After an accident in Boston she turns to her friend in Vermont. The trials and tribulations of mastering the Apple pie as well as life in a small New England town begin when she becomes the pastry chef at the Sugar Maple Inn.

 

This is a heartfelt story of home and family written by a fantastic new author Louise Miller whose prose for a first novel was exquisite. She composed an impeccable picture of Vermont scenery, smells of the kitchen, and true emotion. The characters both major and minor are so true-to-life they jump right off the page. I could not help but laugh and cry, tap my foot to the music, and root for the underdog. I would not change a thing.

 

Touching Must-Read

Getting It Right -  Elizabeth Jane Howard

I was given a copy of “Getting It Right” by Elizabeth Jane Howard through the publisher and their partnership with NetGalley in exchange for my honest review which is as follows:

 

This is one of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s most endearing stories, and if you love British classics then this one needs to be on your must-read list.

 

This story is about Gavin a 31 year old hairdresser who has no trouble conversing with his middle to elderly aged clients, but when it comes to women his own age he is all butterfingers verbally so to speak. Then his best friend Harry (who is gay) takes Gavin to a party and his life makes a complete turn around, and the fun begins.

 

I really enjoyed reading about Gavin’s bumbling experiences, the three totally different women who came to impact his life after going to the party, and his eccentric family and coworkers. All of the characters are well developed and the author did a great job of bringing you into the story. I felt as though I was right there throughout the story experiencing all of the laughs and sorrows with Gavin. “Getting It Right” touched my heart and that is how it should be.

"A Simple Vow” has something for everyone who enjoys a good Christian story

A Simple Vow (Simple Gifts) - Charlotte Hubbard

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in order to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

Charlotte Hubbard has written another wonderful story. Her writing draws you in so you feel like one of the community of Willow Ridge and before you know it you want to break bread with the life like characters.

 

This is the first book in a new series called Simple Gifts. There are some returning characters from Ms. Hubbard’s Seasons of the Heart, but unless you want the background of every character in the book it is not necessary to read that series first. As usual Ms. Hubbard’s books are all stand alone yet if read in order they build on each other, getting better and better with each new book. I have to say this is a totally new story line from the usual Amish books I have read in the past. “A Simple Vow” has something for everyone who enjoys a good Christian story (romance, mystery, and even scandal).

 

Over all if you are a lover of Amish stories, Charlotte Hubbard is one of the best authors to read as her stories are so life-like.

Sweet heartfelt story

Sweet as Honey - Jennifer Beckstrand

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in order to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

“Sweet as Honey” the first book in The Honeybee Sisters series by Jennifer Beckstrand. There are three honeybee sisters Lily, Rose, and Poppy. The first story in this series is about Lily. The story is well written and plucks at the heart strings but it is Aunt Bitsy (B) that makes one laugh out loud. There is more that one plot within the story. One is a romance triangle, but you will have to read the book to find out what the other one is. Hint: it has to do with the title of the series.

 

Overall this was a very enjoyable fun book to read and I recommend it not only to Amish Christian lovers but to all who want to sit back, unwind, and read something sweet.

Miss Seeton as always an Entertaining Spirit Lifter

Odds on Miss Seeton (A Miss Seeton Mystery Book 5) - Heron Carvic

NOTE: First and foremost I want to thank Farrago for allowing me to read this outstanding humorous book via NetGalley for an honest review.

 

If you are feeling down and need to have your spirits lifted then pick up any of Heron Carvic’s books about Miss Seeton, and before you know it you will be laughing out loud. Miss. Seeton is a retired art teacher who moved to the country. An innocent protagonist she now draws criminals for the Fraud Squad of Scotland Yard in places where cameras are not feasible. This time it is Mr. Big in a criminal gambling syndicate who has been avoiding getting his picture taken she is to draw. Mr. Big recognizes Miss Seeton who gets the best of him and escapes. From there the entertainment begins as Mr. Big threatened revenge.

 

Odds on Miss Seeton is the last of Heron Carvic’s writing in this series. I am so glad that Farrago has reprinted all of Heron Carvic’s books for another generation to enjoy. I secretly hope Farrago continues republishing the series written by so many other dedicated authors who took up their pens to continue Carvic’s stories of Miss Seeton.

 

I recommend the entire Miss Seeton series to all who not only want to see how she gets the best of murders, robbers, and etc., but who also want to laugh while doing so.

First-Rate Invigorating Story

Radio Girls - Sarah-Jane Stratford

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Penguin Random House’s First To Read in order to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

Radio Girls is a remarkable, captivating, and powerful story about determined, courageous,resilient women at the BBC during the turbulent years between WWI and WWII. Sarah-Jane Stratford magnificently intertwined history and fiction flawlessly in this most intriguing, captivating, biographical historical novel.

 

While this story follows the fictional character of Maisie, it is also a factual account of the life of one of Briton’s most influential woman, Hilda Matheson. Hilda's intelligence and perception transformed the airwaves as BBC's first Director of Talks enlightening and self-assuring the women of her time.

 

The story started out slow, but it was needed so one would know the backgrounds of both the real and fictional characters and how they fit together. It didn't take long before the story took off sweeping me back in time to the 1920s with intrigue and drama and it never lets go. I was drawn into the story as though I was one of the girls working right along with Maisie and Hilda in the Talks department. I wish it never had to come to an end.

 

Radio Girls as a whole was a fascinating look into the BBC during 1920s London which fully captivated me from beginning to end. I absolutely highly recommend this first-rate invigorating story.

PHENOMENAL

Tea with Milk and Murder (Oxford Tearoom Mysteries ~ Book 2) (Volume 2) - H.Y. Hanna

The first word that came to my mind after reading the second book “Tea with Milk and Murder” of the Oxford Tea Room Mysteries was phenomenal! This mystery series is one that all of you cozy mystery lovers out there do not want to miss. However, I do suggest starting with the first book “A Scone to Die for.

 

Hsin-Yi has an extraordinary way of bringing one into the story making you feel as if you are actually there walking the streets of Oxford University with the all of the 3D characters. This story centers around Gemma’s friend Cassie and her artwork. Gemma, with her mother (who has just discovered you can purchase merchandise on the internet), the four old biddies, and Muesli, all help detective Devlin O’Connor solve the murder. The story is full of twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat guessing 'whodunnit' right until the end.

 

Once you have finished one of Hsin-Yi’s Oxford Tea Room Mysteries you are left with the feeling of absolute enjoyment.

 

Thank you so much Hsin-Yi for allowing me to read an ARC copy of the second book in this remarkable cosy mystery series in exchange for an honest review. I look forward to the next Oxford Tea Room adventure.

Wonderful Cozy Mystery

A Scone To Die For (Oxford Tearoom Mysteries ~ Book 1) (Volume 1) - H.Y. Hanna

If you are a fan of Midsomer Murders this book will be right up your ally. The story takes place in a fictitious collage at Oxford University and the surrounding area. What makes it even better is the Tearoom owner, Gemma, and her four helmet haired customers. Before you know it you will be laughing out loud at the predicaments they get into trying to solve the murder themselves. Throw in Gemma’s matchmaking mother and the humor continues.

 

All laughter aside Hsin-Yi did a great job writing this wonderful cozy mystery, using authentic British slang so that you felt you were actually in England. She also brought the story to life with well developed three demential characters and true-to-life descriptions of the area and events. She keeps you constantly guessing who the murderer was until the very end with several characters who had motives. Hsin-Yi, I commend you for a job well done.