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Mark of the Midnight ManzanillaThe Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla sounds like a campy fiction novel. It is, however, the 12th book by Lauren Willig in the Pink Carnation series (with the next to be the last as it finally tells the story of the actual Pink Carnation). While the book doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is a highly entertaining read that moves along quickly.

I have read (and reviewed) only the previous book, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, which follows the same format and includes many of the same characters. Much like when I picked up the last book, you don’t have to have read the entire series to follow the story. Willig does an excellent job of catching you up without making you feel like you reread entire books for those who are familiar with the series.

Read my full review of Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla at 5 Minutes for Mom and enter to win your own copy.

Written by Michelle who thinks a sword parasol would be enormously fun. Since she doesn’t have one, she spends her time finding fun in other ways. See how on her blog Honest & Truly! and follow along with her on Twitter where she is also @HonestAndTruly.

Email Author    |    Website About Michelle M.

Michelle is a freelance writer who is happy to not have a commute but still misses her marketing and product development jobs. She keeps busy with her 7 and 9 year old children, who fortunately love to read as much as she does. When she isn't reading or cooking - or doing laundry - you can find her on her blog Honest & Truly! or on Twitter as @Honest AndTruly.

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Deep Blue

I frequently enjoy YA books, as they may be meant for teenagers but still appeal to the kid in me, too. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly felt more like a book that needs a teenage girl to truly appreciate it. This first book in the Waterfire series is set under the ocean and features the world of mermaids. Serafina is the princess of Miromara, and she is getting ready to celebrate her Dokimi, which is a series of tests that prove that she is ready to take on the mantle of ruler one day once her mother dies – as this is a matrilineal society and the men don’t rule. It is also when her betrothal to a prince from another kingdom will become official. In
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Margarita Wednesdays: Making a New Life by the Mexican Sea

I love a good travel adventure story (true or imagined) about experiencing a new culture. When it also includes personal growth, as Deborah Rodriguez’s new memoir does, that makes it even better. I enjoyed her first memoir Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil and her subsequent novel (still inspired by her true experiences) The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, so giving this book a try was a no-brainer. I actually thought the book got off to a slow start, and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to finish it. She wrote a lot about the difficult and dangerous personal situations that caused her to leave her friends and family in Kabul, but it seemed sort of disjointed and narrative, which
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5 Things Nobody Told You about Turning Forty #Giveaway {Friday’s Five}

We are pleased to be hosting guest contributor humor author Jenna McCarthy who is sharing her valuable– and USEFUL — advice for women approaching the big 4-0 Put down your coffee, lest you spit it all over laptop. Remember when the words “middle age” conjured images of pot bellies and sensible shoes and floral-print blouses? Not anymore! Forty is the new thirty! Or is fifty the new forty? I’m pretty sure chard is the new kale. Anyway, whatever the saying is, ours is definitely not our mother’s midlife. (Imagine never having to envy your friends’ frozen foreheads or wonder if you’re too old to wear skinny jeans. We could just chain-smoke unfiltered Camels all day and watch soaps in our big old polyester Mrs. Roper dresses! How
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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty {Books on Screen}

Last winter, I was intrigued by the ads for the upcoming film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, not only for my love of most things Ben Stiller touches, but also because I had a vague memory of the short story penned by James Thurber that I knew I had read way back in my school days. I recently watched the film, now out on DVD, with my husband and our 13-year-old son, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much all three of us enjoyed it. Thurber’s 1939 short story (only $0.99 on Kindle, at the time of this writing!) just so happened to be included in one of my son’s 8th-grade language arts books, so I read it again all these years later, and was
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All I Love and Know

Rife with emotions like grief and sorrow, All I Love and Know by Judith Frank (William Morrow, July 2014) takes readers to dark places in the telling of an evocative story of loss, identity, and love. No doubt about it, this novel starts right in the middle of a terrible tragedy, and the aftermath of the cafe bombing that killed Daniel Rosen’s twin brother and his wife seems capable of upturning the lives of everyone in the family. Daniel and his partner Matthew live together in Northhampton, Massachussetts, a town with a supportive gay community. Matthew left behind the NYC scene to settle down with Daniel in this small town, and their days have a comfortable routine. When Matthew receives the call informing him of the bombing in
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You Knew Me When

Katherine Hill is happy with her life in New York City as an executive for a cosmetics company when she receives a letter, addressed to Kitty Hill, informing her that her old friend and neighbor has passed away, and she has been named in the will.  Katherine has long left Kitty behind and while sad to hear of Luella’s passing, she’s not thrilled to return to her small home town in Vermont. Laney Martin’s life didn’t turn out as planned — she was the one with dreams of New York — but she loves her husband and daughter, and would love her job at the local spa if it wasn’t for her unreasonably demanding boss.  She too is saddened when she learns of Luella’s death
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The Revealed

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What’s on Your Nightstand, July 22

It’s one of those early 4th Tuesdays again, so here we are. It’s hard to believe July is winding down to a close. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but I hadn’t felt as if summer was flying by, but here we are. How has your reading been? Have you had long relaxing vacations or days by the pool to read? Or maybe you are busy with activities and out of town guests. We’d love to hear about your reading plans and/or accomplishments for this month. Just write a post on your blog and link it up below. Be sure to visit the others to get some great recommendations as well. Check out our current giveaways. Subscribe to our feed. Follow us @5M4B on Twitter or
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The Queen of the Tearling #Giveaway

Given the chance to start over, would humanity actually change or would our societies still be plagued by the same problems we face now–corruption, exploitation, violence, poverty and disease? Author Erika Johansen imagines a world in which humanity attempted to begin anew in a sort of utopia, only to find themselves within a few hundred years living in a sort of medieval world, with horses as transportation and swords and arrows for weapons, and feudalism and sex-trafficking and slavery all functioning as well. But the story opens with a bookish and isolated girl hiding in a tree, watching the horsemen come and knowing this is the day her life irrevocably changes. The Queen of the Tearling is a great read–just a really enjoyable story that’s
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The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession

Peter Byerly is a single-minded man with two obsessions–his wife, Amanda, and old books. 9 months after Amanda’s sudden, unexpected death, he relocates to the English countryside and one day, he manages to get out of the house and visit an antique bookseller in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. There, tucked between the pages of a Victorian-era book, he finds a watercolour of Amanda’s face staring out at him. Of course it can’t be her–the portrait is unmistakeably Victorian, painted by someone with the initials B.B.–but the resemblance is uncanny. Peter buys another book, slips the portrait inside, and begins trying to track down the artist, thereby beginning a quest that will take him much further than he ever dreamed. The Bookman’s Tale is a really fun book.
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Identity: A Fina Ludlow Novel

Fina Ludlow is back. It’s been several months since she had to (major spoiler alert on the last book!!) accuse her own brother in Loyalty, and she has reached a wary sort of peace with her parents. Fina is a private investigator who works for the family firm of ambulance-chasing lawyers who’ve done very well for themselves, but she’s as hard-boiled and hard-working as they come. Renata Sanchez is a single mother by choice, conceiving and bearing two children with the help of an anonymous sperm donor. Her oldest child is now mostly grown, and Renata has decided that in spite of a confidentiality statement that she signed years earlier, and in spite of her daughter Rosie’s reluctance, she needs to find out who that
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