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Virtual Book Tour Stop: She Serves the Realm by Lee Swanson (No Man Is Her Master #4)

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Set in 1311 England,  Book #4  in  Lee Swanson' s  No Man Is Her Master  series follows the adventures of Christina Kohl (who has assumed the identity of her brother Frederick), a Hanseatic merchant who has earned the favor of King Edward II for her valor. As the novel begins, we find Christina and her lady love, the widowed Lady Cecily Baldewyne, who is a member of Queen Isabella’s court planning to ask for permission to marry. They are hopeful given they enjoy the favor of the King and Queen. However, the King, troubled by the rising civil unrest in his kingdom, requires the services of his trusted “Sir Frederick”, so their wedding plans will need to be put on hold. We follow Christina as she embarks on a series of tasks including defending a castle under threat of being occupied by the Barons and being entrusted with the safety of Piers Gaveston who the King is trying to protect from the Lords Ordainers who have demanded his banishment. Aided by Sir Giles, Reinikin, Alan and Jos

Book Review: That Night in the Library by Eva Jurczyk

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Rating:⭐⭐ A group of seven decide to spend the night before graduation in the basement of William E. Woodend Rare Books Library in Vermont to participate in a ritual that they believe will set them free from the fear of death. Of the seven, three of them are students working as assistants in the library each hoping to secure the one permanent position being offered after graduation; another is a PhD student/TA who frequents the library for his research and also convinces one of his students to bring along a friend who would supply the drugs they would need for the ritual; and the other is a socially awkward scientist who is involved in a project for the library. After the library closes for the day, they lock themselves in the basement and commence with the ritual. In a shocking turn of events, one of them suddenly dies and the other, unable to exit the building with scheduled routine maintenance rendering them unable to communicate with anyone on the outside, are left to fend for them

Boo Review: Butter: A Novel of Food and Murder by Asako Yuzuki (translated by Polly Barton)

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Rating:  3.5⭐️ I found the premise of  Butter: A Novel of Food and Murder  by  Asako Yuzuki  (translated by  Polly Barton ) to be truly intriguing. The plot revolves around Rika Machida, a thirty-three-year-old journalist who pursues a story on the suspected serial killer, Manako Kajii who enticed men she met on dating sites with her lavish cooking and extracted huge sums of money from them. After three of her suitors were found dead under mysterious circumstances, the now thirty-five-year-old Kajii was found guilty and is currently awaiting her second trial after appeal while being held in a detention facility. Initially reluctant to talk to Rika, she agrees to meet her after Rika expresses her interest in Kajii’s cooking. Though Kajii refuses to talk about the case, she is more than eager to share her views on food (butter being an integral ingredient in her recipes) and as the narrative progresses, we follow how Rika’s approach to life, her worldview, and of course, her relationship

Book Review: The Borrowed Hills by Scott Preston

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  Rating:  4.5⭐️ Dark, gritty and certainly not for the faint of heart,  The Borrowed Hills  by  Scott Preston  is a stunning debut. The novel opens in the Cumbrian fells in 2001 and revolves around the lives of the sheep farmers whose fortunes take a turn for the worse when their flocks are afflicted by foot and mouth disease. Among the farms affected is a smallholding belonging to Steve Elliman’s father. Steve, our narrator, had left his family home in search of other opportunities but returned to help his elderly father. But when his flock is afflicted by the deadly disease, he is forced to conform to government regulations. He meets William Herne, the owner of a larger farm. William managed to separate his sick sheep from his healthy flock by hiding them away. Steve tries to help him, but they are unable to save the flock. Steve leaves but returns after he receives news of the death of his father. William is now embroiled with a shady character by the name of Colin Tinley, with who

Book Review: Shelterwood by Lisa Wingate

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Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐ Meticulously researched and immersive  Shelte rwood  by  Lisa Wingate  is a heart-wrenching and immensely thought-provoking read. Set in and around the Winding Stairs Mountains region, the story is rooted in the history of Oklahoma and the division of natural resource-rich Native American lands into allotment parcels assigned to individual members in the late 1800s. Orphaned Indigenous children were exploited and cheated of their rights, abandoned and forced to fend for themselves by “guardians” who were responsible for their welfare. The story also sheds light on the efforts of women pioneers who fought for the rights of these children - namely the Oklahoma Federation of Women’s Clubs and Kate Barnard, the first woman to be elected as a state official in Oklahoma. The narrative is presented in dual timelines in alternating chapters. In 1909, Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, we meet eleven-year-old Olive “Ollie” Augusta Peele, who flees from her abusive stepfather. With her is

Book Review: The Unwedding by Ally Condie

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Rating:⭐⭐⭐ After a painful divorce, Ellery Wainwright decides to vacation alone at the luxurious Resort at Broken Point in Big Sur, California, for what was supposed to be her twentieth-anniversary trip with her now ex-husband. Ellery is yet to come to terms with the end of her marriage and a wedding being held at the resort doesn’t make it any easier. In a shocking turn of events, Ellery discovers the body of the groom in the hotel pool after it was assumed that he had absconded leaving his fiancĂ©e at the altar. With inclement weather trapping them inside the resort, the wedding guests and other travelers are cut -off from any help from the outside and after another member of the wedding party is found dead under mysterious circumstances, Ellery and her new friends Nina and Ravi join the search for the killer - not an easy task with a hotel full of guests among whom are people with secrets they would kill to protect. Complicating matters further are rumors of missing items from the re

Book Review: Dear Dotty by Jaclyn Westlake

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Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Twenty-four-year-old Rosie Benson is still figuring out what she wants from life. Stuck in an unfulfilling job, she doesn’t want to disappoint her parents or her best friend/roommate whose career is thriving. The only person she can share her insecurities with is great-aunt Dotty, who has always lived life on her own terms and who encourages Rosie to pursue her own dreams. When she is fired from her job, Dotty is the only person Rosie confides in, especially after her parents announce their divorce after thirty years of marriage leaving the whole family in shock and she has a falling out with her best friend. Rosie does manage to find another job and embarks on a new relationship, but remains conflicted over the choices she is making. When Dotty suddenly dies, Rosie loses the only person she believed had been in her corner and who understood her. Rosie, alone and grieving, conveys the news of Dotty’s passing to everyone in her great-aunt’s contact list and requests them to