[Review] The Cottage on Winter Moss by Allie Cresswell

Publisher and Publication Date: Allie Cresswell Limited. June 28, 2022.
Genre: Contemporary fiction. Romance.
Pages: 555.
Format: Kindle e-book.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of women in fiction.
Rating: Very good.

Allie Cresswell Goodreads’ author page.

Link for the Kindle copy @ Amazon.

Summary:

Dee is a young woman living in the London, England area who is a writer. She is an author of books and one screenplay.

Dee is in an unhappy relationship with a live-in boyfriend who is an unemployed actor.

The unmotivated boyfriend adopts a dog that Dee did not want.

Dee’s only living relative, a brother, she is estranged from.

Dee is sinking into burnout and despair.

When the boyfriend finally gets an acting job out of town, Dee takes the opportunity to leave him taking the dog.

Dee drives north away from the city without a clear destination. She ends up in a village named Roadend.

My Thoughts:

If the book’s setting were somewhere else, like South America or India, would I like the book or even want to read it? No. The rural setting of England is a big plus for me. The book starts in a large city but moves away in the early part of the story to the rural English countryside near the sea.

There are some areas in the beginning of the story that I had mixed feelings about, but as the story progresses things became settled. One of these “things” is the poor little dog, Bob, who Dee didn’t want in the beginning. Her irresponsible boyfriend got him and then left town. When Dee began planning to leave and wanted the boyfriend to do something about the dog’s welfare, I really worried she might leave Bob in their flat. I am so glad she did the right thing. I am glad she and Bob became close friends. A second “thing” I had mixed feelings about is her inability to really deal with that boyfriend or some other serious life situations. These situations are all related to relationships. Relationships with unsaid words and closure.

What I love about The Cottage on Winter Moss:

  1. I love having a pet cat or dog in a story. I hope authors will write more animals into their stories. I have four cats. I love them. They are my precious children. I know many people who feel the same about their pets. Why are there not more cats and dogs included in stories?
  2. I love how the story shifts in both the scenery, landscape, and people. I love how the transition causes Dee to relax.
  3. I love it how Dee is an imperfect person. She makes mistakes, makes wrong choices, forgetful, has a hard time with communicating well. One of the personality traits she has rubs people the wrong way and I don’t understand why she can’t see it. She doesn’t seem to mind in putting people out. For example, a pub or restaurant is about to close. She doesn’t mind sitting down to place an order. One evening she’d promised to be at an event. She doesn’t show up. However, I am happy to say she is a character who evolves. She matures.
  4. I love the village of Roadend. I love the history of the area.
  5. I love the historical fiction story she writes of the village. I love how there is a story within the story.
  6. I love having a character in the story who has a disability. I’d like to read more stories with people who have disabilities.

Dee is a character that causes me to like her, and also causes me to want to have a long talk with her because of her repeated choices in relationships. Not that she’d listen.

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[Review] In the Shadow of a Queen by Heather B. Moore

Publisher and Publication Date: Shadow Mountain Publishing. October 4, 2022.
Genre: Historical fiction. Inspirational fiction.
Pages: 384.
Format: Advanced reader copy/e-book.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing and Austenprose. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of Queen Victoria’s royal family. Readers of the Victorian era.
Rating: Excellent.

To read more information about the book visit the publisher at Shadow Mountain Publishing. That is a direct link to the book.

Praise:

“Peek into the House of Hanover and view the strength of two women: Queen
Victoria and her daughter Princess Louise. This story weaves compassion and
conflict into breathtaking and gripping historical detail.”— Julie Wright, author of
A Captain for Caroline Gray.
“Moore crafts an intriguing portrait of the independently minded Princess Louise
and her tensions with the English royal family. Moore sets the stage with
meticulous research, and she expertly combines fact with fiction, with
psychological insights on Victoria’s mercurial moods and the impact of her
controlling nature. It adds up to a worthy portrait of a woman divided by duty and
self-determination.”— Publishers Weekly.
5 STARS – “I always enjoy Heather Moore’s historical novels. This one did not
disappoint! She is impeccable with her research and always does an excellent
job of bringing people from the past to life.”— Julia Daines, bestselling author
of Haven Cross, and Whitney Award Finalist.

Links to purchase:
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

The Kindle copy is $4.99. At Amazon, it is also available in audio, hardcover, and audio CD.

Author Info:

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today best-selling and award-winning author of more than seventy publications, including The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. She has lived on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, as well as Hawaii, and attended school abroad at the Cairo American College in Egypt and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical research.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Summary:

Based on the True Story of the Free-Spirited Daughter of Queen Victoria. Princess Louise’s life is upended after her father’s untimely death. Captive to the queen’s overwhelming mourning, Louise is forbidden to leave her mother’s tight circle of control and is eventually relegated to the position of personal secretary to her mother―the same position each of her sisters held until they were married. Already an accomplished painter, Louise risks the queen’s wrath by exploring the art of sculpting, an activity viewed as unbefitting a woman. When Louise involves herself in the day’s political matters, including championing the career of a female doctor and communicating with suffragettes, the queen lays down the law to stop her and devotes her full energy to finding an acceptable match for her defiant daughter.

Louise is considered the most beautiful and talented daughter of Queen Victoria but finding a match for the princess is no easy feat. Protocols are broken, and Louise exerts her own will as she tries to find an open-minded husband who will support her free spirit.

In the Shadow of a Queen is the story of a battle of wills between two women: a daughter determined to forge her own life beyond the shadow of her mother, and a queen resolved to keep the Crown’s reputation unsullied no matter the cost.

My Thoughts:

Recently I read another book about the same people. Louise was shown as an outspoken, artistic, intelligent young woman. The book emphasized her defiance and disrespect of her mother, Queen Victoria. The book emphasized her artistic work and the supposed affair she had before and during her marriage. I gave that book 3 stars for good. To me, the book came across as sensationalistic.

In the Shadow of a Queen emphasizes the royal family’s love and devotion to one another. Even though the queen and Louise did not always agree, and Louise wanted to pursue interests outside her mother’s rule and will, Louise respected and honored her mother. I love these qualities. Honor and respect are moral qualities, but also show the true character of the person. Louise is shown as gentle, kind, thoughtful, sensitive, devoted, wise, purposeful, and loving. I have given this book 5 stars for excellent. This book comes across as intimate and real; and it is a story and a daughter to be admired.

Additional reason why I love, In the Shadow of a Queen:

  1. Much of the story is dialogue among the family members including the husband of Louise and herself. I love their devotion, tenderness, and love for one another. Often, the scenes are intimate, and share conversations that I leaned into as if I too were a part of their conversations. This helps to sweep me up and away. The feeling and atmosphere in a story that pulls me in.
  2. The story starts at the beginning of Louise’s life. It moves forward progressing through her age. I watched her grownup. I watched her transform to a lovely young woman.
  3. The pace of the story is slower at times. This is not an adventurous edge of your seat type book. It is the life of Queen Victoria’s family. They have day’s when they are busy with events, and they have many slow days when they are at home with one another. I feel this helps shape them as people I can identify with and not just celebrity type individuals.
  4. Before Albert’s death, I saw his dedication and time spent with the children. He was involved with every area of their lives.
  5. I love the happy times the children shared with their mother.
  6. I love the descriptions of people. Their clothing, mannerisms, posture; and facial expressions to the point of intimacy and a revealing of unsaid affection.
  7. One of the best romantic scenes in literature that I’ve read is the courtship of Louise and John Campbell, the 9th Duke of Argyll. It is less about physical activities, and more about patience, true love and devotion.

I want to clarify something. There are scenes when Victoria and her children are at odds. When one defies the other. When a scandal has caught fire. But for me, I saw the love and devotion as more pronounced in the story. The negative situations only show a reality that effects all people no matter their station or status in life.

In the Shadow of a Queen is one of my favorite reads of 2022!

[Review] The Nurse’s Secret by Amanda Skenandore

Publisher and Publication Date: Kensington Publishing Corp. June 28, 2022.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 368.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received a complimentary advanced reader copy from the publisher. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers. Readers of nursing history in the 19th century.
Rating: Okay.

Amanda Skenandore’s author page at Goodreads.

Summary:

New York City. 1883.

Una is a young woman who is a thief. She knows the “art of the grift.”

When the story begins, she is arrested for a murder she had nothing to do with. She looks for a way to hide herself and make a living. She creates a new life in a new nursing school.

Nursing is a new choice for women who do not mind the hard work, and the respectable interaction of caregiving.

In the beginning, Una’s tough facade does not pair well with employers and nursing students who are from a society that frowns upon the criminal and the lower income.

After the murder of a patient, Una begins to wonder if her situation and the victims is related.

The Nurse’s Secret is a mix of 19th century nursing history, 19th century New York city history, murder/mystery, and romance.

My Thoughts:

I dislike the name Una. I googled the name. It is of Irish origin and means lamb. Other countries have the first name also. For example, Bosnia and Wales. Another definition of the name is unity.

Una is not a lamb. She is the opposite of a lamb in character.

Actually, I dislike her character. It made it difficult to care what happened. She comes across as having an attitude that people owe her. She is arrogant. Haughty. Cunning. Calculating. Manipulative. Selfish. Brazen. I saw a little transformation in her through the story but not enough for me to care. It was difficult to finish the book.

The murder/mystery is so so. There isn’t a shock about the solving of the murders nor the closure.

What I liked most about the story is learning about the nursing practices of this time period. This is fascinating history.

[Review] The Light Attendant: A Canadian Bluebird Novel, Part One by Wendy Fehr

Publisher and Publication Date: ShiftersPress. February 17, 2022.
Genre: Historical fiction. War literature. Nursing history during World War I.
Pages: 303.
Format: Kindle e-book.
Source: I received a complimentary NetGalley Kindle e-book. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of war stories, World War I, and romance.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon. The Kindle copy is $2.99.

Part Two of the book is @ this link: Amazon. It is $3.99.

Wendy Fuhr @ Goodreads.

Info on Wendy Fuhr at ShiftersPress/ Instagram/ Twitter/ Facebook.

Summary:

Two main characters: Henry Ryzak and Abbigail or Abbi Grieves. They are both from Canada. They were both raised on farms. Henry is the second son, and there is animosity between him and his father. Abbi and her father do not see eye to eye on a scheme her father has planned to involve her life and the farm.

A year after World War I begins, Henry’s older brother enlists. Henry enlists to keep watch over him.

Abbi talks her father in to letting her go to nursing school, but there is a requirement for her after returning. She must fulfill an obligation.

Abbigail finished nursing school and became a Canadian Nursing Sister or Bluebird for the war.

Abbi and Henry both experience the war but from different views and experiences.

Their lives will intersect, and first impressions will be different for both. However, war has a way of changing people.

My Thoughts:

I love this story! I have several reasons why I love it.

1. This story is what I had been looking for several months ago when I began to read a couple of other books about this historical event. I wanted to read about medical care for the injured during World War I. In one of the books, it seemed more focused on the extra activities of the medical personnel and the soldiers, rather than on their roles in the war. The other book gave me more knowledge about the physicians who operated on the injured. The Light Attendant shares the gritty details of what they actually did-on a daily basis, and during specific missions.

2. One of the reasons I love this story is that even though romance is a theme, it does not take away or distract from the events and personal experiences of war. What I mean is often when I read a book about two people who care for one another and they are both directly involved in the war effort, the romantic aspect totally shifts the story and can even hijack the overall story. The war then becomes a background, and this is never the reality during a time of war.

3. War is horrific, violent, lengthy, and damaging. People who are in a war, whether they are in combat or in direct contact with caring for the injured are changed. They cannot go back to the people they were before. This is never said in the story, but I can tell by the behaviors and developments of the characters.

4. Some things I’d never thought about that a soldier did. He learned to care for his own needs. For example, mend a torn shirt. This is a task their mother or wife or sister did. Now, they must do this type of thing. This is a personal but important example to share about the soldiers.

5. I learned that injuries and death is not always on the battlefield but is a result of accidents or negligence on the part of the soldier or another soldier.

6. I love that Abbi demonstrates that nursing is a skill, but it is also showing compassion, patience, and care to the injured.

7. I love the comparison stories of Henry and Abbi. He will share his story and then in the next chapter the same scene is shared but it is through Abbi’s eyes and thoughts.

8. I love reading how triage is handled by Abbi. She is thrust into this task without having done this before. And triage is probably not a word used at this point in history, but it is still an act that must be implemented.

9. I love stories that will give me a panoramic sweeping view of what is happening. In a war, during a battle, the story can take a reader up close, and it can shift away for the reader to see the larger scene taking place. The same can be said of a hospital tent or the injured laying on the grounds in front of a hospital. To me this is such an important structure for a story! It brings the scene to life in my mind.

I love this book so much I bought the 2nd part of Henry and Abbi’s story.

[Review] An Indiscreet Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria’s Daughter by Georgie Blalock

Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. September 27, 2022.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 400.
Format: NetGalley, Kindle e-book.
Source: I received an advanced reader complementary Kindle e-book from NetGalley and William Morrow. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction and the royal family of England.
Rating: Good.

Pre-order @ Amazon.

Georgie Blalock’s Goodreads page. A bio is included.

Further links for Georgie Blalock: Website/ Instagram/ Pinterest/ Facebook.

To read more information about Joseph Edgar Boehm [1834-1890].

To read more information about Princess Louise – later Duchess of Argyll. A lot of advertisements at this site.

Summary:

Princess Louise was the 6th child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Three more children will be born to them.

Princess Louise was 13 when her father died.

She had the reputation as being a headstrong and defiant child. She was an artist; her medium was sculpture.

At the age of 22, she married John Campbell, the 9th Duke of Argyll. No children.

For a period of several years the couple lived in Canada where he was the Governor General.

In An Indiscreet Princess, the story begins when she is in her early twenties. She lives with her mother, Queen Victoria, who tries hard to keep a firm grasp on her daughter’s activities. Louise is resilient and equally firm in wanting to live a life beyond the reach of her mother. But Louise understands she will have to marry. There are certain standards and requirements she must obey.

The focus of the book is on Louise’s adult life, but the storyline follows the relationship she and Boehm have over a period of many years.

My Thoughts:

I read an advanced reader copy. There is only the story. There is not a chapter for Reader’s Notes telling me about the author’s research. There is not an Acknowledgement’s section either. So, I don’t know what books Blalock read or other types of factual history there is on Louise. I want to state this plain that it is a rumor that she and Boehm had an affair. There were other rumors of her as well. For example, a child possibly born to her when she was a teenager. But I don’t believe there is solid historical evidence in writings, etc., about her affair with Boehm. Maybe she did and maybe she did not. She was with him at his death, but it doesn’t mean they had an affair. Yes, this is a fictional account, but I still dislike.

Why do I mention the above? I kept thinking all through the story, I would hate it if someone wrote a book about me sharing untrue information. But if I am dead who can argue my case.

I will review on the book itself. But I did have to get the above off my chest.

In the story, Louise comes across as disrespectful to her mother. Yes, Victoria comes across as critical and domineering. And uses a strong hand (or tries to) with her children. Louise is still sneaky and disrespectful.

I love the focus of art. I too am an artist. I draw mainly. So, I enjoyed reading a book that has artistic qualities and characters.

Usually in a book there is a character or characters that I feel sorry for. That I feel something for. It was difficult to “feel” for these people who come across as snobby even though they see others as snobby they don’t realize it in themselves. As a result, the book was difficult for me to become invested in. I had (almost) an- I don’t care attitude.

The most touching scene in the book came at 81%. I don’t have a page number. It took that long for the story to touch my heart.

The book wraps up well and between that point and the previous mention of the touching scene my rating moved up to “good.”