Biltmore Girl, by Dawn Klinge

book coverSynopsis

New York City, 1968. Elka Hansen, a former teen cover girl, is done with modeling. Now she’s a hostess for the Palm Court restaurant in the beautiful Biltmore Hotel. As she sees it, Elka’s other job is to watch out for her younger sister, Colleen, an idealistic but reckless college student at Barnard.

With her sister, Elka attends her first civil-rights protest, and there, she runs into Jacob Lewis, a co-worker from the Biltmore. He’s a student at Columbia University and a friend of Colleen’s. Jacob becomes an unexpected ally when rescuing her sister from trouble becomes more than Elka can handle independently. Out of this turmoil, a romance grows between Jacob and Elka, but can it last?

Review

Biltmore Girl is third in The Historic Hotels Collection by Dawn Klinge and covers a period of history I don’t often see in Christian fiction. Admittedly, I didn’t read the blurb for it too carefully. I grabbed the book because firstly, I’d read the previous title in the trilogy and, second, it was on sale. So, before anyone else does the same let me point out that this is NOT connected to the famed Biltmore Estate in North Carolina built by one of the scions of the Gilded Age. This was the New York City hotel opened in 1913 and in existence until 1981 when it was gutted and turned into offices. Continue reading

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The Nature of a Lady, by Roseanna M White

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Lady Elizabeth “Libby” Sinclair, with her love of microscopes and nature, isn’t favored in society. She flees to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer and stumbles onto the dangerous secrets left behind by her holiday cottage’s former occupant, also named Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished.

Oliver Tremayne–gentleman and clergyman–is determined to discover what happened to his sister, with the help of the girl now living in what should have been Beth’s summer cottage . . . especially when he realizes it’s the curious young lady he met briefly two years ago, who shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far more than nature walks, and he can’t quite believe all the secrets Beth had been keeping from him.

As Libby and Oliver work together, they uncover ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love.

Review

Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic advance copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

Do you have a common name? I was told my parents didn’t want to name me after a family member, and so they chose what they thought was an uncommon name. Which was fine until I came upon another Sally at my school, learned she and I shared a birthday, AND that she was born at the same hospital! The reason I ask, however, is that the inspiration for The Nature of a Lady comes from a writer noticing she was signing books for readers with the same name: Elizabeth. Continue reading

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Review: My Dear Miss Dupré, by Grace Hitchcock

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Thirty suitors, six months of courting . . .
would it be enough time for her to fall in love?

Willow Dupré never thought she would have to marry, but with her father’s unexpected retirement from running the prosperous Dupré sugar refinery, she is forced into a different future. The shareholders are unwilling to allow a female to take over the company without a man at her side, so her parents devise a plan–find Willow a spokesman king in order for her to become queen of the business empire.

Willow is presented with thirty potential suitors from the families of New York society’s elite group called the Four Hundred. She has six months to court the group and is told to eliminate men each month to narrow her beaus until she chooses one to marry, ending the competition with a wedding. Willow reluctantly agrees, knowing she must do what is best for the business. She doesn’t expect to find anything other than a proxy . . . until she meets a gentleman who captures her attention, and she must discover for herself if his motives are pure.

Review

Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

I am fascinated by the Gilded Age, so I gravitate towards any novel set during that time when I see it. This was an era of immense change in society and culture, and I don’t believe we’ve seen any other time when there was such an immense gulf between the rich and poor. How did the average person connect with someone who called their second home a “cottage” when it was far larger than they could possibly imagine? At the same time, however, it was possible for anyone to cross that gulf if they were determined enough. Take Andrew Carnegie, for example. Continue reading

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Non-fiction Review: Your Time to Thrive

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Live the life you want, not the life you settle for.

Helping people build healthy new habits that improve their lives is more important than ever. Arianna Huffington launched Thrive Global to do just that–Thrive’s specific mission is to end the epidemic of stress and burnout and help individuals and companies unlock their greatest potential. Science continues to show that we don’t have to sacrifice our well-being in order to succeed; in fact, it turns out that well-being is critical to peak performance. Learning to thrive means:

  • Moving from awareness to action – from knowing what to do to actually doing it
  • Embracing solutions that appeal to wisdom, wonder, intuition, reflection, and are steeped in science
  • Taking the time to rest and recover in order to fuel and maximize productivity, both personal and professional
  • Making the mindset shifts and habit changes that supercharge performance in ways that truly matter to us

Eschewing trendy self-care fixes or the latest health fads, Your Time to Thrive is the revolutionary guide to living and working based on Microsteps–tiny, science-backed changes. By making them too-small-to fail, we can incorporate them into our daily lives right away, and begin building healthier ways of living and working. This book is a Microstep bible. With chapters dedicated to sleep, nutrition, movement, focus and prioritization, communication and relationships, unplugging and recharging, creativity and inspiration, and purpose/meaning, Your Time to Thrive shares practical, usable, research-supported mini-habits that will yield huge benefits and empower people to truly thrive in all parts of their lives.

Review

Disclaimer: Although I received a digital galley edition of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

When COVID-19 arrived, I already worked from home and set my own hours. It meant I didn’t need to adjust to the “new normal” thrust upon us. But that didn’t mean that my life doesn’t need some assistance. I don’t eat properly, my Smartphone is almost permanently attached to me, and I know I should exercise more. Furthermore, I find it near impossible to form a new habit and stick with it. How was Your Time to Thrive going to help me? Continue reading

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Non-fiction Review: Codebreaker Girls, by Jan Slimming

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“What would it be like to keep a secret for fifty years? Never telling your parents, your children, or even your husband?”

Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park tells the true story of Daisy Lawrence. Following extensive research, the author uses snippets of information, unpublished photographs and her own recollections to describe scenes from her mother’s poor, but happy, upbringing in London, and the disruptions caused by the outbreak of the Second World War to a young woman in the prime of her life.

The author asks why, and how, Daisy was chosen to work at the Government war station, as well as the clandestine operation she experienced with others, deep in the British countryside, during a time when the effects of the war were felt by everyone. In addition, the author examines her mother’s personal emotions and relationships as she searches for her young fiancée, who was missing in action overseas. The three years at Bletchley Park were Daisy’s university, but having closed the door in 1945 on her hidden role of national importance — dealing with Germany, Italy and Japan — this significant period in her life was camouflaged for decades in the filing cabinet of her mind. Now her story comes alive with descriptions, original letters, documents, newspaper cuttings and unique photographs, together with a rare and powerful account of what happened to her after the war.

Review

Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

There are two good reasons why I wanted to read this book. Firstly, I became interested in Bletchley Park (BP) when I learned that my grandfather had apparently worked there during the war. This is a man I know little about because he died before I was born. Secondly, I recently finished a fiction series set during World War One at the forerunner to BP; Room 40 at the Old Admiralty Building in London. Because Codebreaker Girls is about the women who were at BP, the author’s mother in particular, I didn’t expect it to reveal much about my grandfather’s life, but it promised to tell me something about the people who did work there. Continue reading

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