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The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley

The Moon Sister (The Seven Sisters 5) by Lucinda Riley

Tiggy D’Aplièse spends her days experiencing the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands doing a job she loves at a deer sanctuary. But when the sanctuary is forced to close, she is offered a job as a wildlife consultant on the vast and isolated estate of the elusive and troubled laird, Charlie Kinnaird. She has no idea that the move will not only irrevocably alter her future, but also bring her face-to-face with her past.

At the estate, she meets Chilly, a gypsy who fled from Spain seventy years before. He tells her that not only does she possess a sixth sense passed down from her ancestors, but it was foretold long ago that he would be the one to send her back home…

In 1912, in the poor gypsy community outside the city walls of Granada, Lucía Amaya-Albaycin is born. Destined to be the greatest flamenco dancer of her generation—and named La Candela, due to the inner flame that burns through her when she dances— Lucía is whisked away by her ambitious and talented guitarist father at the tender age of ten to dance in the flamenco bars of Barcelona. Her mother is devastated by the loss of her daughter and as civil war threatens in Spain, tragedy strikes the rest of her family. Now in Madrid, Lucía and her troupe of dancers are forced to flee for their lives, their journey taking them far across the water to South America and eventually, to North America and New York—Lucía’s long-held dream. But to pursue it, she must choose between her passion for her career and the man she adores. (publisher)

6 sisters were adopted by one man who named them after the Seven Sisters constellation. When he died, he left each sister a letter telling how he found them and clues about their past.

The book has two timelines: the present day with Tiggy and the past with her grandmother Lucia.
Tiggy lives in Scotland working on a wildlife centre looking after Scottish wildcats. There she meets a man who knows where she comes from and knew her grandmother.

In Spain we follow Lucia and how she became the star flamenco dancer. I didn’t like Lucia who was very selfish and just not likeable, like her father for that matter. She was so oblivious of the world and not knowing anything about the situation in her country.

I liked the Scottish parts but took some time getting into the Spanish setting. I enjoyed the book and it was fairly quick book to read despite the size. This was my second Riley book and I really need to read the first books in the series soon. I’m looking forward to the next book.

3,5 stars

Published: Atria (February 19, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Publisher

reviews

The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion. (publisher)

The book alternates between Bartolomeo in the past and Giovanni trying to discover his uncle’s past in the present day. There was a mystery, romance, and murder. The book wasn’t what I was expecting but I did enjoy it. It doesn’t concentrate on the food as much as I expected it to but for me, it was not a bad thing.
Giovanni is a likable character and I liked to learn him discovering family secrets.

This was my first book by the author and I’m looking forward to reading more.

3,5/5

Published: Atria Books (February 12, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

reviews

The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict

The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict

She possessed a stunning beauty. She also possessed a stunning mind. Could the world handle both?

Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich’s plans while at her husband’s side, understanding more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

But she kept a secret more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she knew a few secrets about the enemy. She had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis…if anyone would listen to her.

A powerful novel based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece. (publisher)

Hedwig Kiesler is an Austrian Jewish, even if she doesn’t think of her as a Jewish since her family isn’t religious. Rich older man sees her in a stage production of Sisi and wants her. Hedy’s father sees trouble coming and thinks this man, who is an arms dealer, could bring protection for Hedy in the pre-WWII days. After the marriage, the charming man turns into a controlling man who doesn’t want her to carry on acting and just wants a trophy wife to show people.

She manages to escape from her marriage and ends up in Hollywood and carry on her acting career and becomes known as Hedy Lamarr.

I liked the first part in Austria better and learning more about her early years. I felt the latter part of the book was a bit rushed. I didn’t totally buy the author’s idea behind the adoption. She spent the first part of her life not even knowing she was Jewish and then suddenly wanting to save all the Jews.

Also, I felt like her interest in science came from nowhere. During the war when she comes up with the idea of frequency hopping thing but there was no mention in the book before that she had any interest in science and suddenly, she is a genius.

She was a fascinating woman, and this was an interesting read, but I have to admit that I had higher hopes for this one.

3/5

Published: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 8, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

reviews

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known. (publisher)

An injured man appears in a tavern carrying a girl who seems to be dead. But suddenly she isn’t dead. No one knows who the man or the child is. But soon numerous people came and try to claim the child as theirs.

This is the first book I’ve read by the author, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Most of the book I wasn’t sure if this was set in a real Victorian era or in some fairy-tale world and it kind of bothered me. The book started good but in the middle, it slowed down a bit. I think that while it could have been shorter, it was well written.

There are many characters in the book and at times I had trouble remembering who was who and how were they connected.

I’m not sure how I feel about this book. While I enjoyed it, I wasn’t as thrilled by it as I expected to be. But it was different from what I usually read so it’s certainly well remembered.

3/5

Published: Atria Books (December 4, 2018)
Format: ebook
Source: Publisher

reviews

Imperial Passions: The Porta Aurea by Eileen Stephenson

Imperial Passions: The Porta Aurea by Eileen Stephenson

At the center of Byzantine society, fifteen-year old orphaned Anna Dalassena lives with her grandparents among the most powerful men and women in Constantinople. But the cutthroat politics of the Great Palace sends the family into exile in a distant corner of the mepire. Her bleak situation finally turns promising after meeing a handsome young soldier, John Comnenus, and his brother Isaac, before the are finally permitted to return home.

The vicious power struggles, uprisings, and betrayals at the highest levels of the empire push Anna and John unwillingly into its center as they struggle to deal with their own tragedies. When rebellion puts her life and those of everyone she loves at risk, is the reward a throne for her family – too big a gamble?

I’m not very familiar with Byzantine so this was an interesting read. At times it was rather difficult trying to keep the characters in order since everyone seems to be named either Anna or Michael…

We see the young orphaned girl grow into a confident and strong woman. Her family is connected enough to the rulers to be caught up in the power struggles. The book covers Anna’s life from a teenager until her brother-in-law Isaac Comnenus’ coronation. Last year I read a book about Anna Dalassena’s granddaughter, also called Anna, and it was interesting to learn more about her younger years.

This was my first book from the author and I’m looking forward to reading more.

3,5/5

Published: Blachernae Books (April 24, 2018)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, but after a peripatetic childhood ended up in the Washington, DC area, where I attended college, married, worked a day job in finance, and raised three children.

My first book, Tales of Byzantium, contains short stories taking place in the middle years of the Byzantine Empire. My second book and first novel, Imperial Passions – The Porta Aurea, introduces Anna Dalassena, the extraordinary mother of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Comnenus, and an unstoppable force in her time.

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