Friday, July 19, 2019

Literary Friday: Dear Mrs. Bird

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  I must confess that I have not been reading many novels this summer.  I've been reading more about art, Etsy, and camera manuals!

But I did finish this delightful book a couple of weeks ago:  Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce.  This books is a good one set during the London Blitz.  It's the perfect vacation read, so pick up a copy for your last minute summer trips to the beach or lake.

According to Goodreads:

A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times. 

My Review:

This is the cutest story, and I love Emmy to pieces.  She is brave, fiesty, and sassy, and she has enough confidence to stop even Hitler in his tracks!  But she is so disappointed when she realizes the part time job at the London Evening Chronicle isn't for the paper itself, but rather for a ladies' magazine owned by the paper.  As Mrs. Bird's assistant, it's her job to sort through Mrs. Bird's letters from readers seeking her sage advice.  Ironically, Mrs. Bird abhors all Unpleasantness, and she won't abide the magazine's reuptation being sullied by inappropriate topics.  This leaves a scant few letters Mrs. Bird will consider for the column.  Emmy decides to take matters into her own hands unbeknownst to Mrs. Bird.

Emmy volunteers as a telephone operator for the Auxiliary Fire Services, and she works literally with a tin hat on her head as bombs explode all around the city.  She witnesses a brave rescue by one of the firefighters one night, but it angers her because she thinks that one of the men (her best friend Bunty's fiancĂ©) is reckless during the rescue.  The confrontation cause a rift between Emmy and Bunty as a tragic event threatens to end their friendship forever.

Although there is plenty of humor in the story, it's also suspenseful with plenty of action. The setting during the height of the London Blitz, broken promises, conflict, remorse for words not spoken, and clandestine letter reading and writing kept me turning pages well into the early morning hours.  It's a fantastic historical, and if you enjoy World War II fiction, I highly recomend it.  I love discovering new authors, and AJ Pearce is a fantastic new voice in literature: It's hard to believe that this is her debut novel.

I purchased this book at my local Indie bookstore.

If you would like to order a copy from your local independent bookstore, please use my affiliate IndieBound link below.

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The above link is for the paperback edition.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Treleavens Have Gremlins

We may have gremlins inside but outside our planters are thriving this summer.

Good morning, My Lovelies!  I hope y'all having a fantastic summer full of baseball, grilling, travel, and fun.


Our summer has been interesting so far.  About a month ago, lightning struck our air conditioner in Birmingham.  Then about three weeks ago, lightning struck our lake cabin and took out all of our TV's, stereo, half our wall outlets, coffee pot, cable box, router, all surround sound speakers, wire under the house that led to the cable box, and a modem.  What a mess!  First world problems, I know, but we had to spend the first half of our Independence Day vacation fixing all the shiz.  

We weren't there when it happened (we were at the beach) but what is scary about the situation is we could see where flames shot out of the speakers and melted the felt and wiring.  We can't believe that the house didn't catch on fire.  We truly are none of the major appliances were affected.

But before we left for the Independence Day vacation, our freezer stopped working, and our fridge is running a little too hot.  We're having to eat mostly out these days, but the repairman will be here Thursday to fix it.  We had to order 16 parts.  Sixteen!  

I miss ice.  Yes, I know....another first world problem.  But then again....we do live in Central Alabama.  It's freaking HOT!


I finally settled on a camera: the Sony a6000 with a couple of lenses that I really like.  I want to thank all of you who gave me fantastic advice during this process.  It has been quite the learning curve, but I am enjoying it.

My New Blog and Instagram

I also want to invite you to follow my art blog and my Instagram feed for my art.  Here is the link for my blog, and you can follow me on Instagram @rickijilltreleaven.

Instagram @rickijilltreleaven

I feel badly asking y'all to follow me on different accounts, but my professional artist friends have all told me that I should ONLY feature my art on my blog, and that I should ONLY feature my art on my Instagram feed.  I don't know if I can maintain so many accounts.  I probably won't post as often on this blog, but I will still post over here a little, especially when I want to share a good book, recipe, or home decor.  

I've joined the Daily Painting movement in a big way.  Y'all, I am LOVING IT!  Basically, Daily Painters paint small paintings everyday (or in my case one per weekday).  I have joined the Dialy Paintworks website, and I have rebranded my Etsy store for my paintings.

If you know of anyone in the market for small paintings, send them my way!

The new name of my Etsy shop


Have you tried the Steller app yet?  I am loving it!  I've enjoyed looking at others' stories.  It has been a great tool for me to make Instragram stories.  It is very user friendly.  You can check out some of my stories by clicking on the Steller S below!

I appreciate y'all more than you'll ever know.  Thank-you for reading my blog!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

What I'm Reading Wednesday: Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm sharing an intriguing cozy mystery:  Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan.  This is the second installment in the Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery Series; the first installment is Murder at the Flamingo.  Although it isn't necessary to read the first book, I think it would be helpful because a few of the references to Hamish's cousin Luca confused me.

According to Goodreads:

Hamish DeLuca and Regina “Reggie” Van Buren have a new case—and this one could demand a price they’re not willing to pay.

Determined to make a life for herself, Regina "Reggie" Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.

Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he's afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes that seem to link Boston to Hamish's hometown of Toronto.

When an act of violence hits too close to home, Hamish is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.

My Review:

This series is unique because of the setting: Pre World War II/ early 1940s.  War is immenint, so we as readers know what's coming in Europe; the racism and antisemitism of the plot seem even more sinister in this context.  I love baseball, so I loved the Boston/Fenway Park setting.  

The mystery takes a backseat to Reggie and Hamish's relationship (the murder mystery doesn't even happen until halfway through the narrative).  There's tons of tension between the two: We see how Hamish cares for Reggie, and I like seeing her through Hamish's eyes.  Reggie is definitely brave to throw away her secure, pampered debutante lifestyle in favor of a business that might or might not make it.  I find her choices highly unlikely for the time, but she does want to be a modern, independent woman...yet she entertains a marriage proposal from a successful childhood friend.

Hamish is so endearing.  He has an anxiety disorder, and I feel for him when he's in the midst of one of his "episodes."  He is trying very hard to overcome his shady past, especially his familial ties to organized crime.  Plus, I love the fact that an Italian is named Hamish.  Although he is far from being perfect, his imperfections make him even more likable in my opinion.  

There are also a few secondary characters that make this book interesting, especially Nate.  Nate.  Is.  Great!  He needs his own book if not his own series.  :D

Usually cozy mysteries are all about the plot, but this one is definitely character-driven, and I like it!  I also love that it is a clean read, and it's published by Christian publisher Thomas Nelson.  If you're looking for a new mystery series for summer, I highly recommend this one. 

Below is an IndieBound affiliate link:

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Disclosure:  I'd like to thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a paperback copy of Murder in the City of Liberty via the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill