A Flying Affair by Carla Stewart

A Flying Affair by Carla Stewart
Pub. Date: June 2, 2015
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, FaithWords!!)
Summary: Daredevil Mittie Humphreys developed her taste for adventure on horseback, on her family’s prosperous Kentucky horse farm. But her love of horses is surpassed by her passion for the thrill of the skies, especially since the dashing pilot, Ames, first took her up in his plane.

When handsome British aviator Bobby York offers her flying lessons, he is equally surprised—and beguiled—by Mittie’s grit, determination, and talent. Soon, Mittie is competing in cross-country air races, barnstorming, and wing-walking. But when Calista “Peach” Gilson, a charming Southern belle, becomes her rival in both aviation and in love, Mittie must learn to navigate her heart as well as the skies.
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
Recommended for: Fans of female pilots! Readers who enjoy 1920s histfic.

While the summary isn’t completely off the mark, it certainly builds up A Flying Affair to be more, you know, about flying with a hearty dose of romance thrown in. Okay, sure, that’s not entirely wrong, but it’s not exactly right either.

Having fallen in love with flying, Mittie Humphreys recently had to put her aviation dreams on hold once her father was injured. As the doting daughter (read: the one not getting married) it’s Mittie’s duty to help out on the family’s horse farm and, to be honest, she doesn’t mind lending a hand. She loves the horses, especially her Gypsy, and couldn’t be more proud when they place in races.

That said, her eyes are still on the sky, and when a young pilot from her past appears in Kentucky, Mittie knows fate has intervened. Charming, carefree Ames has his own plane and daredevil troupe and when Mittie expresses an interest in wing-walking (exactly what it sounds like!) Ames is more than willing to show her the ropes.

After an airshow-gone-wrong, Mittie is still determined to learn to fly and it’s another young (and British) pilot Bobby York who offers his expertise and training. Despite her mother’s wishes, Mittie’s heart is in the clouds and she’ll stop at nothing until she has her license and very own plane.

A Flying Affair was definitely a quick and highly entertaining read, but it felt as though there were too many elements the author wanted to throw in: aviation, horse racing, love triangle, sketchy horse trainers bent on sabotaging the Humphreys, marriage troubles. For a novel that’s meant to be about flying there was certainly a lot of time devoted to horses, their care, and racing.

It’s obvious from the get-go how the romance will end but I didn’t mind. That said Mittie doesn’t voice her feelings (or even realize she has them) until the very end of the novel, so there really wasn’t much in the way of romance – which could be a selling point for some folks!

I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy here – I really did enjoy this one, I swear! – but I suppose the minor issues are surfacing. The truly great thing that A Flying Affair did oh-so-right was focus on female friendships. Initially Peach comes across as a nose-in-the-air, I’ll-steal-your-man kind of woman and I inwardly groaned. HOWEVER, she blossomed and her friendship with Mittie was wonderful. Even their rivalry was fun – Peach is a female pilot too. They may be up against each other in the air, but back on the ground they’re able to put that aside. Bravo!

There were moments while reading that I thought there must have been an earlier book – or at the very least a side-story. Certain scenes and conversations felt as though the characters knew something I didn’t but should have and many times I felt out of the loop. All-in-all, however, A Flying Affair was fast-paced and entertaining. Though there was more of a focus on the horse farm than aviation, I still enjoyed this one and loved the cameos by Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart!

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (+ a 2-book giveaway pack!)

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
Pub. Date: June 2, 2015 (orig. 1922)
Source: finished copy via publisher (Thank you, Penguin!!)
Summary: Escaping dreary London for the sunshine of Italy, four very different women take up an offer advertised in the Times for a “small medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April.” As each blossoms in the warmth of the Italian spring, quite unexpected changes occur.
Genre: Fiction, Classic
Recommended for: Fans of great characters and witty banter, readers looking for the perfect beach read, fans of the movie interested in the source material

For a year or two in high school I went through a period where I refused to read anything but ~highbrow literature~ Somehow I got the idea that, even though I had been madly in love with reading my entire life to that point, I had been doing it all wrong and that classics (read: heavy, hard-to-understand works) were what I really needed to be focusing on. Naturally this led to an awful time – and I’m still (10 years later!) trying to make up for all that lost time.

So in my brief affair with classics, I managed to avoid The Enchanted April completely. I had never even heard of it until recently! When I learned what it was about (four women spend a month in a castle on the Mediterranean coast) and that it was barely over 200 pages, I immediately settled in, fully prepared for a good time – and I wasn’t disappointed!

I knew from the introduction that I was in for an amazing time. Brenda Bowen, author of Enchanted August wrote the introduction for this edition and one paragraph caught my eye:

Elizabeth von Arnim wasn’t actually named Elizabeth, and she wasn’t as German as her name. She played Liszt for Cosima Wagner; she seduced her first husband on the banks of the Thames; she worshipped – and slept with – H. G. Wells; she was a cousin to Katherine Mansfield, a friend to George Bernard Shaw, and was advised by Henry James; she argued with her children’s tutor, a young aspiring writer called Edward Morgan Forster, over dinners in a drafty schloss. In her day, she was a huge literary success; she wrote under a pseudonym, and her anonymity added to her mystique. She lived in thirty-five different houses and had five children and fourteen dogs, but she fancied herself as spare as her hero Thoreau, as unencumbered as her adored Whitman. She sparkled and intimidated at dinner parties. She had perfect pitch, was careful about her weight, had a facelift in New York in 1916. She lived in Australia, England, Germany, Switzerland, and for a short time in the United States, and died in South Carolina in 1941.

HOW have I never heard of this completely awesome woman?! I was instantly hooked.

On the surface, The Enchanted April is about four women, total strangers, and the month they leave England to rent a medieval castle on the Mediterranean coast. When you dig deeper, however, it’s SO much more and I can’t recall a book where I’ve highlighted and flagged as many passages.

Bored, lonely, and unhappy with their marriages, Mrs. Lotty Wilkins and Mrs. Rose Arbuthnot decide to respond to an advertisement in the newspaper. For the month of April, an Italian castle is to be rented out and what better way to take a break from unappreciative husbands than by spending four gorgeous weeks in a castle. The only problem is the pricey fee. Adding a few more tenants, however, would greatly lessen the cost, and the two go about creating their own advertisement, eager to interview potential renters. They find two more holiday-goers in Lady Caroline and prim-and-proper Mrs. Fisher.

As you might expect, these four women don’t exactly hit it off. Mrs. Wilkins has her head in the clouds. Pious Mrs Arbuthnot acts as the go-between in an attempt to keep the peace. Lady Caroline is a gorgeous socialite and sick of men. The widow Mrs. Fisher is more than a little intimidating (and unafraid to say exactly what she thinks of Lady Caroline’s low-cut dresses) and spends her time reminiscing over her Victorian childhood where it was common to see the Who’s Who of literature at the dinner table. As the month progresses and the Italian sunshine seeps into their souls, these ladies experience some surprising – and certainly unexpected – changes.

Despite its puny length, there’s SO. MUCH. I want to discuss and it’s all I can do to type a coherent sentence. I get it. I now understand all the fuss about this book and why it has nothing but five-star ratings on GoodReads. I’m torn, however. I want to ramble on and on about this lovely little book, but I also don’t want to give it all away – The Enchanted April is a novel to discover on your own.

I’m constantly surprised by just how funny writers of classics were. Again, in my mind I view classics as bleak, depressing tomes. Elizabeth von Arnim stomped all over that notion and there were numerous lines and entire passages that made me giggle. There’s even bathroom humor! Imagine, bathroom jokes written by a woman during the ’20s!

Mr. Wilkins knew no Italian, and the expression pericoloso left him precisely as it found him – or would have if he had seen it, but naturally he took no notice of the printed matter on the wall. He firmly closed the door on the servants, resisting Domenico, who tried to the last to press through, and locked himself in as a man should for his bath, judicially considering, as he made his simple preparations for getting in, the singular standard of behavior of these foreigns who, both male and female, apparently wished to stay with him while he bathed.

You see, there’s a page-long setup for this one, complete with backstory about this old bathtub and the dangers it holds. It’s a whole production and team operation (which is why all the servants are trying to follow him in) and the end result had me howling.

While I read I noticed that Ms. von Arnim didn’t skimp on the descriptors. I’m all for flowery prose and The Enchanted April serves it up in spades, resulting in sentences that go on for entire paragraphs. Although the story was immensely enjoyable, these lengthy passages made the reading a bit slow for me. And, honestly, if long sentences is the only bad thing I have to say about this book, then it really isn’t an issue at all.

With summer just around the corner, there really isn’t a better time to grab a copy of The Enchanted April. The characters are excellent and individual, the humor is phenomenal, and it’s got one of the best settings imaginable. The short length certainly doesn’t hurt either! Who says beach reads need to be new? The Enchanted April holds up 90 years later and is the perfect getaway while lounging at the pool! I highly, highly recommend this one (and you can bet I’ll be checking out the movie!)


For Mrs. Arbuthnot, who had no money of her own, was obliged to live on the proceeds of Frederick’s activities, and her very nest-egg was the fruit, posthumously ripened, of ancient sin. The way Frederick made his living was one of the standing distresses of her life. He wrote immensely popular memoirs, regularly, every year, of the mistresses of kings. There were in history numerous kings who had had mistresses, and there were still more numerous mistresses who had had kings; so that he had been able to publish a book of memoirs during each year of his married life, and even so there were great further piles of these ladies waiting to be dealt with. Mrs. Arbuthnot was helpless. Whether she liked it or not, she was obliged to live on the proceeds. He gave her a dreadful sofa once, after the success of his Du Barri memoir, with swollen cushions and soft, receptive lap, and it seemed to her a miserable thing that there, in her very home, should flaunt this reincarnation of a dead old French sinner.

In their anxiety, for the road twisted round great jutting rocks, and on their left was only the low wall to keep them out of the sea should anything happen, they too began to gesticulate, waving their hands at Beppo, pointing ahead. They wanted him to turn around again and face his horse, that was all. He thought they wanted him to drive faster; and there followed a terrifying ten minutes during which, as he supposed, he was gratifying them. He was proud of his horse, and it could go very fast. He rose in his seat, the whip cracked, the horse rushed forward, the rocks leaped towards them, the little fly swayed, the suitcases heaved, Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Wilkins clung.


One lucky winner (US only, please!) will receive not only a copy of The Enchanted April but also a copy of Brenda Bowen’s modern retelling, Enchanted August! All you need to do is fill out this form! EASY PEASY! I’ll announce the winner this Sunday, May 31. Good luck!

Deborah Harkness Giveaway Winners!

Last week I posted about an awesome Deborah Harkness giveaway in celebration of the release of The Book of Life in paperback. Viking asked if I wanted to be a part of their launch – and like I could say no!

And now on to the winners!

All Souls alchemical buttons + A Book of Life mirror


A signed copy of Diana’s commonplace book


A paperback copy of The Book of Life


E-mails have been sent & the winners will have 48 hours to respond! Congratulations to you three and a HUGE thank you to everyone who entered!

weekly wrap-up 5/23

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND~ Which of you lucky ducks have a three-day weekend?? Are you planning any cookouts? Any picnics? Tell me about your plans! No plans for me, so let me live through you!

After last week’s awesomeness (that little guy was dressed as a chia pet HA!) this week has been nice and quiet…although EVIL EYE TO ALL OF YOU for not telling me A Monster Calls was not a fun, creepy read. BUCKETS, people, buckets of tears were shed. Silly me for thinking it would be a perfect, quick read. :( :( :(

ON THE PLUS SIDE, Matt surprised me by ordering us fitbits and I’ve been tracking it like crazy – I had to stop halfway through typing this post because they finally arrived and I flew to the door. ♥ Love it already! Do you have one??

The Rocks by Peter Nichols
Okay, first thing’s first: is that cover gorgeous or what?! A 60-year secret, The Mediterranean Sea, a Romeo & Juliet-esque romance. HEART EYES EMOJI. I cannot wait to dive into this one! Oddly enough, this is my second Mediterranean-set novel this week – a few days ago I finished the lovely The Enchanted April and will be telling you all about it next week! (There will also be a giveaway, so keep your eyes peeled!) Thank you, Riverhead!!

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
Confession time – I keep wanting to type Seraphina. Whoops! ANYWHO, this one is described as “a spooky mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate.” SAY NO MORE! This one just might be going on vacation with me next month! Thank you, Disney-Hyperion!!

A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison
I’m only a chapter or two into this one so far so I can’t pass judgement just yet, but eh. I’m not really too intrigued just yet – but things are starting to pick up a bit! When she was nineteen, Annie fled California for London, planning on drinking her way through the winter and finding love. Twenty years later she’s back in San Francisco, happily married and content. Then a package arrives at her door and changes everything.

Sabriel by Garth Nix
This one was a HUGE surprise and I’m still flailing! I put in a request for this one recently and wasn’t planning on getting it so soon – thank you, random reader, for returning it early! This book came out nearly twenty years ago and despite being the PERFECT age back then to fall hard for it, I somehow never read it. Definitely looking forward to fixing that!

In Case You Missed It
CRAZY INSANE DEBORAH HARKNESS GIVEAWAY is exactly what it sounds like! To celebrate the paperback release of The Book of Life there’s a massive 4-prize giveaway, including buttons and mirrors, books, and even a one-of-a-kind signed copy of Diana’s commonplace book! I’ll be announcing the winners tomorrow, so if you still haven’t gotten in on this, head over now!

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley was a huge letdown. Within the first few chapters you find out the deepest secret and the rest of the 400-odd pages is a big ol’ drag. The ending left me frustrated and I rolled my eyes more than once while reading. Add in more storylines than the author could handle and you’ve got yourself a pretty disappointing read.

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley
Pub. Date: February 4, 2014
Source: Audiobook/e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Bantam!!)
Summary: Diagnosed with XP, a rare medical condition which makes him lethally sensitive to light, Tyler is a thirteen-year-old who desperately wants just one thing: to be normal. His mother Eve also wants just one thing: to protect her son. As Tyler begins roaming their cul-de-sac at night, cloaked in the safety of the darkness, he peers into the lives of the other families on the street-looking in on the things they most want hidden. Then, the young daughter of a neighbor suddenly vanishes, and Tyler may be the only one who can make sense of her disappearance…but what will happen when everyone’s secrets are exposed to the light?
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Recommended for: Fans of family dramas, those curious about a little-discussed illness

Raise your hand if your netgalley stats are a little, um, embarrassing. Frowny face – me too. In an attempt to pick up the slack, I’ve started going through and (gasp!) reading all those old titles I had forgotten about and let expire. First up was Carla Buckley’s The Deepest Secret, a novel about a boy with a fatal illness and the disappearance of a little girl that exposes hidden secrets.

Tyler has the rare – and fatal – illness known as XP, or xeroderma pigmentosum. UV rays can (and will) kill him, thus making him virtually a prisoner in his own home. His parents have done a complete overhaul on the house: coating the windows with a special UV-blocking film, buying special doors and curtains that keep out light, replacing all halogen bulbs, not just in their house, but pleading with the neighbors to do so as well. Tyler is absolutely, completely forbidden from going outside during the day and the family carefully charts the sun so they’ll always know exactly what time it’ll rise and set. It’s cyber school for Tyler and all birthday parties have been held at night. While this might sound extreme, children with XP aren’t expected to survive their teens, so it’s no wonder Tyler’s parents (particularly his mother) are so obsessive with his every move.

What causes a stir in their quiet neighborhood isn’t Tyler’s illness, however. A neighbor’s ten-year-old daughter disappears and soon a manhunt is launched. That said, in the opening chapters of The Deepest Secret the reader discovers exactly what happened to the girl and just who did it, so the following 400-odd pages are one long journey to discover the consequences…and I have to admit it’s a bit of a snoozefest.

Because I knew almost immediately who (whoops, spoiler) killed Amy, the only mystery was how events would play out. When would the police catch on? What would happen? Just how would Tyler come into this?? Unfortunately, apart from having a local setting (almost – Ohio, but still! shout outs to a local grocery chain, yay!) there was nothing compelling about The Deepest Secret – and can it really be called that when, right from the start you know just what that deepest secret is?

There were numerous times throughout this book where it felt like Ms. Buckley wanted to do too much, throw too many storylines into the mix and it ultimately became a big mess of plot threads. Even worse – many of them were simply abandoned! Eve and David are sitting by watching their marriage crumble; he insists she’s being overly protective of their son, she counters that someone has to be the one to care. David’s work keeps him in Washington D.C., only coming home on weekends, and it’s in D.C. that the story starts to hint at a potential affair with a coworker. After a while it’s simply abandoned and the story continues on as though nothing happened.

The Lattimore’s other child Melissa understandably feels as though she’s always been shoved to the side. She begins to act out, coming home drunk on one occasion and Eve discovers multiple empty bottles in her bedroom. This could have been just what I needed to keep me hooked – Melissa’s view of things. Again, however, Ms. Buckley backs out just as quickly as she came in and Melissa goes on her merry way.

On one of Tyler’s nightly excursions he meets Holly, a new neighbor and the two hit it off. Initially she and her husband (a young couple in their 20s with two young children) seemed great and normal, then halfway through (or perhaps I had simply lost interest and never noticed) they abruptly morphed into hideous versions of their original selves: I think it was implied that Holly was an addict (???) and out of nowhere she kissed Tyler…a 13-year-old boy.

And that’s not including Tyler’s ‘ritualistic’ counting before opening his door sounded like he has OCD, Amy’s text where she mentioned being frightened of her stepfather, a possibly molestation thread, etc. Ms. Buckley tried to do one too many things here and lost sight of the bigger picture. Even Tyler’s condition felt unnecessary. While learning about XP was interesting, it felt like yet another plot device that never got off the ground. Okay, this boy has a fatal illness…now what? It didn’t bring anything to the story and, if anything, served to raise more questions. Tyler’s life takes place at night, yet he’s able to do his school work in real time during the day. When does this boy sleep?

I wish I had something, anything, positive to say here, but I’m coming up with nothing. The ending was cheap and rushed – I expected SO much more after the 400 pages it took to get there. Seeing the reactions to the confession, I had to roll my eyes. I won’t tell who did it, but let’s just say that if I announced to my family I killed a little girl (then tried to cover it up and lie to the entire community AND best friend – the girl’s mother) there’s no. way. they would take as kindly to it as these characters. Not even sitcom endings are that unbelievable. It’s a shame I was so disappointed with The Deepest Secret: it certainly sounds great, but that’s where the good ends.


Hold on to your hats, y’all, have I got a giveaway for you!! So you might have heard about this lady named Deborah Harkness and some books she’s written called the All Souls Trilogy. Totally indie, under-the-radar stuff, right? HA. So just in case you’ve been living under a rock the past four years let’s do a quick recap:

Historian (and witch!) Diana Bishop stumbled upon an ancient and powerful manuscript, found herself bound to a vampire, and set loose the underworld. There’s time travel to the reign of the Tudors and Queen Elizabeth, Venetian palaces, and a centuries-old mystery.

It’s no surprise at all that these books have won numerous awards and skyrocketed to the top of bestsellers charts. With the paperback release of The Book of Life, Viking was awesome and asked if I would like to help spread the word. OBVS! How could I pass up a chance to flail over historians and the supernatural duking it out?!

Before we get to the giveaways (yes, plural) I want to share a super cool Spotify playlist created by Deborah specifically for this book – The Civil Wars, Antony & the Johnsons, Florence + the Machine, Fleetwood Mac. Good, good stuff!


  • You must be at least 13 to enter
  • US only please!
  • You can win more than one giveaway – feel free to enter all three if you’d like!
  • Winners will be announced May 25 and will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If I don’t hear back after two days I’ll pick another winner.
All Souls alchemical buttons + A Book of Life mirror

To enter, fill out this form!
A signed copy of Diana’s commonplace book

To enter, fill out this form!

On Deb’s site, she discussed a little about what this book holds:

…a floorplan of the Old Lodge, snippets of poetry, some passages from a grimoire, astrological insights. It’s a mini-record of Diana’s few days in Woodstock before she and Matthew left for Sept-Tours and it’s accurate down to the splotches of ink, the faint traces of plants she pressed into the pages, and the color of the cover (the sticker is removable!). There are even blank pages, so you can put your own commonplaces in it, if you are lucky enough to receive one: notes of births and deaths, passages from favorite books, books you want to read. You’ll be walking in Diana’s footsteps when you do!

VERY cool!

And lastly, GIVEAWAY #3
A paperback copy of The Book of Life

To enter, fill out this form!

OKAY, let’s be real – how awesome is this?! I’ve been bouncing ever since I first got word of these giveaway items and now I can FINALLY share them with you guys! AAAHHHHH SO EXCITED. Have you read this series?? I own the first one – should I do a binge read while I’m on vacation??

weekly wrap-up 5/17

Happy Sunday! This past week was beyond crummy and tough – my aunt passed away and it’s been hard on everyone. If you had thought I wasn’t being very chatty or active here/twitter/goodreads that’s why. I’ve been pretty down these past few days and here’s to hoping next week looks brighter.

The highlight of my week for sure was yesterday’s dog parade! If you follow me on instagram you’ll see a picture I posted of probably my favorite dog there – he was dressed as a chia pet! It was a morning full of awesomeness: a quick pitstop at the farmer’s market (I grabbed the most amazing hummus – it has wasabi in it!) then a walk around town to see the dogs. There was also a 5K and OF COURSE my friend and I stopped at my favorite juice bar (seriously, it’s getting a little insane just how many photos of my juice I post on IG.) They now know me so SCORE!

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
I have a really exciting giveaway coming up next week for this novel + its modernized take. The Enchanted April was originally published in 1922 and tells the tale of four lonely/bored housewives who wind up renting a medieval Italian castle on the Mediterranean coast for the spring. I’m still pretty early on, but it’s just as lovely as it sounds and I’m looking forward to reading it back-to-back with Brenda Bowen’s Enchanted August, an upcoming release about a group of women who rent a cottage in Maine for the summer! Be on the lookout for this giveaway – summer reading at its finest! (Thank you, Penguin!!)

The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell
“For fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes comes a riveting family drama with a dark mystery at its core..” Say no more, I’m sold! Back in 2013 I received an ARC of Before I Met You that might still need read (eep!) but is so up my alley it’s insane. In The Third Wife, a woman steps in front of a bus one morning and the rest of the novel surrounds her husband’s investigation into the cause a year later. Was it suicide? Was she pushed? Was it simply a horrible accident? I am ALL ABOUT psychological thrillers and am definitely looking forward to reading this! (Thank you, Atria!!)

The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall
Ms. Crandall first appeared on my radar with 2013’s Whistling Past the Graveyard and I couldn’t be more excited that she has a new book! You know those books that sound like they were written just for you? The Flying Circus is a total Leah read: 1920s. Bootlegging. The early days of aviation. A ragtag group (a farm boy, a wealthy young woman, and a WWI pilot) take a trip across America. I’m starry-eyed! (Thank you, Gallery Books!!)

In Case You Missed It
I hadn’t planned on reading Karen White’s The Sound of Glass, but I’m SO glad I did! A fun, quick contemporary with just the right amount of mystery to give it some weight. PERFECT for fans of Diane Chamberlain!

Calling it now: Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive will be THE book to read this summer! A woman with the perfect life and the lies she told to get there. A documentary set to tell the ‘true story’ about what happened that fateful night at her elite high school. The past she just can’t shake. Ani was witty and snarky – possibly one of my favorite characters this year! Keep an eye out for this one!

Two mini-reviews for a dud and a DNF. Both sounded fantastic, both let me down.

I normally avoid side stories, but something compelled me to read The Shadows of Elysium and now OMG I NEED MORE DJANGO WEXLER IN MY LIFE. I’m getting back to my epic fantasy roots with this one and I am SO looking forward to a binge read of these books during my vacation next month!