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Bouchon Bakery

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Always a treat to eat here and the book is delightful. Your mouth will water and you'll be ready to try the recipesIn your own kitchen... Some seem a bit daunting but Oh so delicious looking! Yum!
Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

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Always, always use your manners and a smile withhotel/motel staff. Not only is it the right (and polite) thing to do - if you are rude, obnoxious, or less than pleasantthis book tells all the ways the staff can make your stayMemorable- for all the wrong reasons.
The Reluctant Midwife: A Hope River Novel

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Coal mining West Virginia during the 1930’s is the setting for Patricia Harman’s engaging debut novel THE MIDWIFE OF HOPE RIVER. Patience Murphy is making a new life caring for pregnant women in Appalachia, as she reconciles her past with her new surroundings. With the heart of Sandra Dallas, the intensity of Gay Courter and a nod to Barbara Wood the author integrates historical notes (the Great Depression, Appalachian coal mining, unions for miners and lack thereof, Emma Goldman the anarchist, Mother Jones, the Ku Klux Klan) into a seamless story about womanhood and the inherent risks of childbirth. She writes of a world where poverty, malnutrition and unequal access to quality healthcare can mean the difference between life and death. And while Patience’s story is the story of her female clients and their children’s births it is also her story.Harman weaves Patience’s personal tale with gentleness and sudden details that leave the reader wondering how she can escape her own sadness to help her patients. Can the town vet be counted on as an ally for Patience? Can Patience reconcile her own past and move forward to be the midwife Hope River needs? Can she face the challenges for both her poorest and wealthiest of her clients? Can she train an apprentice? An excellent book about the fragility of life, the miracle of birth, the community of neighbors, the Great Depression, love and healing and a woman’s journey to find her place in the world. Beautifully written and a joy to read.
One Enchanted Evening

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Always a delight to read a Lynn Kurland "DePiaget time travel" romance. This one is standard fare - which means it is an enjoyable read and well worth the trip to re-visit the gang - and the great news is that Montgomery finally gets his story told. Thumbs up on this one!
The Night Circus

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A boy and a girl, a rivalry, magic and a skilled writer weaving a tale that will enchant even the most jaded reader - THE NIGHT CIRCUS, is spellbinding and a one-of a kind novel. You won't soon forget this one and you'll wonder where the author came up with the idea for the magical mystery tour that will awaken your childhood imagination and leave you wanting just a little more.
The Ballad of Tom Dooley: A Ballad Novel

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You've heard the Kingston Trio's song, "hang down your head, Tom Dooley... " and I'd have been happy to never have known any more than that about this terrible saga. But, Sharon McCrumb an excellent writer and researcher takes so many unlikeable characters (real people unfortunately) and they end up in this sad, horrible, true story that played out in the hills of North Carolina after the Civil War. Tom Dula, is a ne'er-do-well and the women in this book make him look ready for sainthood. SPOILER ALERTIt's a mountain mystery that McCrumb writes about and Tom Dula may have been hanged for a crime he never committed. He also may have written his own ballad!While I had a hard time liking any of the folks in the book - you have to admire the style or the author and her prose. A new take an an old legend.
The Heat of the Sun

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I loved the idea of this book - what happened to the son of Madame Butterfly? A classic tale of love and the fruit of that love Ben "Trouble" Pinkerton has his tale related by author David Rain in a book that starts off so well you know it's just going to be a great read - and then it's such a disappointment.I really had to struggle to stay with it and ended up wishing for a different story for the offspring of such a spellbinding love story.
The House Girl: A Novel

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Artistic talent and skill are gifts given to chosen people and are not based on skin color or social standing as the historical novel HOUSE GIRL by Tara Conklin so beautifully illustrates. Josephine is a Virginia tobacco plantation slave who dreams of freedom, while in contemporary times Lina Sparrow an attorney, and daughter of an artist is beginning work on a slave reparations case.As these two lives separated by time and sorrow merge; the story of Josephine and her mistress Lu Anne Bell a famous artist begins to unravel – who is the truly gifted painter – was it really the young slave girl? As Lina researches Josephine’s story she learns many truths about herself, slavery, art and life.A beautifully written book that combines historical facts such as the Underground Railroad along with rich details about plantation life for both slave and master. It is at heart a story of women reaching for more – wanting more and looking for their places in life – while trying to understand who they really are and what freedom actually means. Author Conklin writes a seamless narrative of two worlds separated by hundreds of years that provide the reader with a depth of emotion that will linger long after the last page is read.I received this book through the Goodreads early reviewers programs
Blood And Beauty

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Blood and Beauty is the Borgia's as only historical fiction writer Sarah Dunant can capture them in all their majesty and glorious infamy. From the passionate Spanish Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia also known as Pope Alexander VI,(who isn't anything like Showtime's svelte Jeremy Irons), to son Cesare - the unwilling churchman and soon to be youngest Cardinal, to the innocent Lucrezia who will be offered as a marital prize and of course the Pope's favorite son - the hard fighting, carouser Juan. Rome is a place of intrigue, where Cardinals cavort openly with their mistresses, the Vatican isn't just a church it is more a den of vipers where the competition is to get rich, grab power, make allies and get rid of your enemies - one way or another. Italy in the Renaissance was not as it is today - it was ruled by families who oversaw great wealth in their city/states - Florence, Naples, Milan, etc. It was a constant struggle for power and dominance. And into the mix the Spanish Cardinal began his rule as Pope - pressing forward his family (illegitimate though his children were - his elevation as Pope made them acceptable marriage partners in many eyes as favors were often needed from the the Mother-Church where Alexander VI now ruled). I'm a big fan of Sarah Dunant's writing so I was pleased to receive this early reviewer's copy of her book. It is interesting and tended to be much less shocking than previous books I've read about the Borgias'. It humanized them and brought life to the often cardboard villains they have been at the hands of lesser writers. I have to admit in my mind, however, even though her physical descriptions of the Borgias' were different, in my head, the actor's from the Showtime series still managed to stick in my head. Guess I am ready for Season 3. I hope that Dunant plans a follow up since there are so many things that she couldn't cover about them in this book. Her writing makes you want to keep reading - so here is my plea - please write a sequel! This is one of those families that cries out for their story to be told with all the historical facts woven into a story for reader's of fiction.
The Afrika Reich: A Novel

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The Nazi swastika is flying over much of Africa in this thriller set in 1952 – ten years after England settled WWII peacefully with Hitler. Written by first time novelist Guy Saville, the book runs the gamut of “ifs” including a re-imagined Africa – where colonialism is once again the norm and the indigenous population is basically enslaved by the Nazi/SS hierarchy.Throw in rebels trying to save their country, an Englishman trying to kill his nemesis who is now a Governor of the German-Afrikan territories and you have the setting for a political thriller/action/adventure and fast paced alternative reality page-turner!Some of it is a little hard to believe (how does our Brit always overcome any obstacle it seems – is it the thought of true love?) The Germans seem very stereotypical (all brutish thugs with no redeeming characteristics – you can draw your own conclusions).It’s a fun romp but there are not enough answers to so many questions that you cannot help but wonder why the British settled? How did it come to this – before you can really appreciate the story as it unfolds.
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