2017 Book #47 – Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

51ALEmLEhRLTitle: Cocoa Beach
Author: Beatriz Williams
Date finished: 5/27/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Pages in book: 374
Stand alone or series: Related to her other Prohibition novel, The Wicked City, but each can be read as a stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The New York Times bestselling author of A Certain Age transports readers to sunny Florida in this lush and enthralling historical novel—an enchanting blend of love, suspense, betrayal, and redemption set among the rumrunners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach.
Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. While an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets—secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she left behind.
Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband’s estate. Despite the evidence, Virginia does not believe Simon perished in the fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her and their young daughter. Separated from her husband since the early days of their marriage, the headstrong Virginia plans to uncover the truth, for the sake of the daughter Simon never met.
Simon’s brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers that surrounded Simon now threaten her and their daughter’s life as well.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Virginia Fortescue, a young woman who decides to go to Europe during World War I to assist as an ambulance driver.While overseas she meets Simon Fitzwilliam, a young man who is seemingly infatuated with her but who also unfortunately has other responsibilities in life. Virginia can’t resist her infatuation with him though, and given her extremely sheltered upbringing she doesn’t know how to defend against his charm and endearing personality. However, its only after the wedding that Virginia finds out Simon may have had some ulterior motives. Alternating between explaining their past and how their relationship began and the present day, Virginia and Simon’s story unfolds in a way that you would never expect.
Overall I ended up liking this book a lot more than I expected to. The first half of the book really was hard for me to get into, the story line ended up being really interesting but at first did not reach out to me at all. I thin part of my problem was that I couldn’t figure out how the last book connected to this book. And really her book A Certain Age has more of a connection since Virginia is actually mentioned in that book (the book is about her sister, Sophie). Once we got about halfway through the book though, the pace of the story line really picked up and the two timelines kind of merged together enough that things started making a lot more sense. The first half of the book I didn’t really think I’d like the book but the plot twists in the second half of the book were great and really grabbed at the reader. I would recommend this one but be warned it might be hard to get through the first half.

The bottom line: This book was a little hard for me to get into but about halfway into the book I didn’t want to put it down. It was hard at first to see the connection to The Wicked City but I think I figured it out in the end. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #5 – The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams

51g-d4qusfl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: The Wicked City
Author: Beatriz Williams
Date finished: 1/18/17
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: First in series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings together two generations of women inside a Greenwich Village apartment—a flapper hiding an extraordinary past, and a modern-day Manhattanite forced to start her life anew.
When she discovers her banker husband has been harboring a secret life, Ella Gilbert escapes their sleek SoHo loft for a studio in a quaint building in Greenwich Village. But her new refuge isn’t quite what it seems. Her charismatic musician neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement after midnight, when a symphony of mysterious noise strikes up—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano, the occasional bloodcurdling scream—even though it’s stood empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the building hosted one of the city’s most notorious speakeasies.
In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a quick-witted flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin lands in the office of Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather, Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.
Sired by a wealthy New York scion who abandoned her showgirl mother, Gin is nobody’s fool. She strikes a risky bargain with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent, even though her on-again, off-again Princeton beau, Billy Marshall, wants to make an honest woman of her and heal the legacy of her hardscrabble childhood. Gin’s alliance with Anson rattles Manhattan society, exposing sins that shock even this free-spirited redhead—sins that echo from the canyons of Wall Street to the mountain hollers of her hometown.
As Ella unravels the strange history of the building—and the family thread that connects her to Geneva Kelly—she senses the Jazz Age spirit of her incandescent predecessor invading her own shy nature, in ways that will transform her life in the wicked city. . .

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of two women separated by 74 years of time but living in the same apartment building. With Ginger we find ourselves in the year 1924 during the Prohibition. Ginger likes to frequent a speakeasy next door to the apartment building, and it is here that she’s approached by a Revenue Agent who’s looking to takedown her stepfather’s booze Empire. If there’s one person that Ginger would like to avoid for the rest of her life it’s Duke Kelly, but she agrees to help Oliver Anson in order to extract her own form of revenge on an evil man. Thrown together and dangerous circumstances, Oliver and Ginger’s relationship becomes a dizzying circle of passion and protection. But Oliver isn’t quite who he claims to be engine has to decide who she can trust. Meanwhile, Ella Gilbert has just moved into the apartment on Christopher Street after she finds her husband cheating on her. It’s currently 1998 and Ella works as a forensic accountant for a large firm in New York City. At this apartment building she meets Hector, the landlord’s son and a talented musician. Hector has a girlfriend, but he and Ella spend more and more time together and neither can deny the attraction that develops.
Overall I really just love this book. I loved the two different storylines and I love both the heroine characters. I cannot wait to find out what happens, I have so many questions. The book does leave things off in something of a cliffhanger with many open issues unresolved. This is different from some of Williams’s other books, but I can’t wait to see where she takes us in the next installment in the series. There is a bit of a dark side to this novel, just to warn the reader, including torture, brass knuckles, murder, and sexual abuse. Actually all of these things happened during Ginger’s storyline, although Ella has to overcome obstacles of her own. We learn at the end of the book that the two story lines are connected in a small way. I have to admit I expected a larger connection but I’m interested to see what other revelations the new book brings. This book has something for everyone including action, adventure, romance, heartbreak and revenge. I would highly recommend everyone check this one out!!

The bottom line: I loved this book, the characters were so engaging and the story line was so interesting, I didn’t want to put it down! I can’t wait until the next book comes out so I can find out what happens! Great read and I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

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2016 Book #68 – Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt

51XlqNu7xmL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Indiana Belle
Author: John A. Heldt
Date finished: 7/10/16
Genre: Fiction, Time travel
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: April 14, 2016
Pages in book: 295
Stand alone or series: #3 in American Journey series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Providence, Rhode Island, 2017. When doctoral student Cameron Coelho, 28, opens a package from Indiana, he finds more than private papers that will help him with his dissertation. He finds a photograph of a beautiful society editor murdered in 1925 and clues to a century-old mystery. Within days, he meets Geoffrey Bell, the “time-travel professor,” and begins an unlikely journey through the Roaring Twenties. Filled with history, romance, and intrigue, INDIANA BELLE follows a lonely soul on the adventure of a lifetime as he searches for love and answers in the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz.

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Cameron Coelho, a doctoral student from Providence, RI studying societal norms and customs during the 1920’s, with a specific emphasis in Indiana, as part of his doctoral research. During the course of his studies, he comes across some diary entries of a Miss Candice Bell, some of which mention time travel. He discusses this with one of his professors, who directs him to talk to a colleague named Geoffrey Bell in California. Geoffrey turns out to be a relative of Candice’s, and since he has a great personal interest in Candice and her diary entries (specifically whether she knows of the location of her father’s lost diary) he offers Cameron the chance of a life time: to travel back in time. It is in the 1920’s that Cameron is able to meet the girl he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about, Candice Bell herself. Though Geoffrey has warned Cameron not to interfere in the past, Cameron can’t help but develop deep feelings for this vivacious and intelligent young woman.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was fairly predictable but this actually added to my enjoyment of the story since I knew I wouldn’t be left disappointed at the end. I liked the characters in this book, and the villains were adequately evil and also got a somewhat justified end. I liked that we were able to look into the future in this book in an interesting way and I thought that it fit well within the story line, and honestly it did make a lot of sense to me because I agreed with Cameron that the government is heading in that direction. I think the concept of time travel is just really interesting and I like the story lines of these books and how the author approaches time travel. This is I think the 5th book I’ve read by this author and I’ve enjoyed all of them. This was a good read and I would say anyone who likes to read about time travel should definitely give it a try!

The bottom line: I enjoyed both the story line and the characters in this book, and I love the author’s continued creativity with the concept of time travel. There were some cringe-worthy moments and some of the conversations were a bit awkward but it didn’t detract overall from my enjoyment of the book. A good read and I would recommend!

Link to author website

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2016 Book #34 – Dead Distillers by Colin Spoelman and David Haskell

51AjX++6X+L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Dead Distillers
Author: Colin Spoelman & David Haskell
Date finished: 4/14/16
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: Abrams Image
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Pages in book: 224
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Founders and award-winning distillers of Kings County Distillery Colin Spoelman and David Haskell follow up their successful Guide to Urban Moonshining with an extensive history of the figures who distilled American spirits.
The book presents 50 fascinating—and sometimes morbid—biographies from this historic trade’s bygone days, including farmers, scientists, oligarchs, criminals, and the occasional US president. Readers may be surprised to find the names George Washington, Henry Frick, or Andrew Mellon alongside the usual suspects long associated with booze—Jasper “Jack” Daniel, Jim Beam, and Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle. From the Whiskey Rebellion to Prohibition to the recent revival of craft spirits, the history of whiskey, moonshine, and other spirits remains an important part of Americana. Featuring historical photos, infographics, walking-tour maps, and noteworthy vintage newspaper clippings, it’s a rich visual and textual reference to a key piece of American history.
Dead Distillers is a spirited portrait of the unusual and storied origins of forgotten drunkenness.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. The men in my family are all bourbon drinkers and I have recently discovered a great love for gin so when I saw this book available on NetGalley I was very interested. And I’m really glad that I requested it. This book was chock full of history and maps and charts and all the stuff that turns into a great story about distilleries. This book is mostly a compilation of a good number of short biographies of famous (and sometimes not so famous) American distillers. This book was compiled and written by two owners of the Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, NY. There was a lot of great historical information included in this book, as well as a few maps of cemeteries and other locations discussed in the book. There were also a lot of great pictures on the subject matter discussed, including a few awesome pictures of distillery fires.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. I normally don’t like reading historical non-fiction but the individual sections in this book were brief enough that they kept even my interest, and all the passages were packed full of information. I think this would make a great coffee table book and a great conversation piece. I personally am going to be using this as a birthday gift for a few people I know with upcoming birthdays! Anyone who drinks liquor should check this out.

The bottom line: I really liked this book a lot! There were a lot of interesting, almost scandalous stories included which hold the readers interest throughout the book. The book also included a lot of nifty maps for anyone interested in checking out the tourist locations which I loved. I would definitely recommend this one! Great addition for the home library.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page