The Family Gathering: A Review

The Family GatheringIMG_6F846C900B09-1

By Robyn Carr

288 Pages

April 2018. Mira Books

Review Copy Courtesy of Little Bird Publicity

 

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted. Goodreads Synopsis

 

This isn’t my first Robyn Carr book, however, it was the first one I have read in the Sullivan’s Crossing series.  While this is technically book three, it was very much a standalone book.  I didn’t feel a disconnect with the characters or feel confused at all. In fact,it was rather the opposite.  It was a very busy time for me and I used this book as a perfect escape.

You couldn’t help but root for Dakota and want him to create roots with his family.  In this world family is everything and you crave that happy ending for the Jones family in this book.

Thank you to Little Bird Publicity for sending me a copy for my review.  I look forward to purchasing the rest of the books in the Sullivan’s Crossing series and to read more about the Jones Family!

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The Lemonade Year: a Review

IMG_43FD0854C822-1The Lemonade Year

by Amy Willoughby-Burle

352 pages

April 3, 2018

Review Copy courtesy of Shadow Mountain Publishing

 

Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be. Goodreads Synopsis

 

Shadow Mountain has released a new title in their contemporary women’s literature line.  These books are always so fantastic (I know you have heard me go on about them here before!)

However, I had some issues with this one.  There was a little too much woe is me and a lot of it was a result of bad choices being repeatedly made by characters.  I just wanted some light, something good to happen, and just when you think it would, then another choice turns into more woe is me.

I guess the premise of the book is all about loss and hardship, but I just felt like this one was a little too much.

That being said, it was well written, and some people would enjoy this book.  It could have just been a wrong book at the wrong time for me.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for sending me an ARC for review purposes.

Before I Let You Go: a Review

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Before I Let You Go

by Kelly Rimmer

April 3,2018

Graydon House

Review Copy Courtesy of Little Bird Publicity

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.  Goodreads Synopsis

 

Before I Let You Go shows the true unconditional love between sisters.  This is a strong, character driven women’s lit novel and I loved every minute of it!  A lot of sensitive, but scarily true material about drug addicted newborns and drug use during pregnancy is covered in this book, and it is done very tastefully.

Being an older sister myself, there were many times throughout the book that I could relate to Lexie needing to be there to help her little sister.  Lexie is such a strong person and really made the book enjoyable. But that ending though, all the tears were streaming.

Before I Let You Go is one book that you need on your TBR list this summer!

Thank you to Little Bird Publishing for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl: a Review

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The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl

By Paige McKenzie

April 2018

Hachette Books

Review Copy courtesy of publisher and Little Bird Publishing

Sunshine Griffith can communicate with ghosts. Even more amazing—to herself; her boyfriend, Nolan; and her adoptive mom, Kat—she’s recently learned she’s a luiseach, one of an ancient race of creatures who have lived among humans for centuries, protecting them from dark spirits and helping them move on to the afterlife.

Having survived an abyss full of demons, Sunshine Griffith must figure out who—or what—has been organizing the forces of darkness against her. Do they want to destroy her and the rest of the endangered luiseach? Do they want to take over the world? Nolan has figured out that Sunshine’s death would trigger a calamitous event, so not only does she have to stay alive for herself, but for the fate of civilization. It’s not just the demons who want Sunshine dead, though. Her biological mother, Helena, is back. And what is Helena’s history with the mysterious man in black?

Fortunately for Sunshine, she has a lot of people (and ghosts) to help her stop the darkness: Nolan, her father and mentor Aidan, her mom Kat, Victoria, Lucio, Anna, and Ashley—whose handsome new crush, Sebastian, seems hauntingly familiar. But time may be running out as an unexpected event unleashes a fierce war between the luiseach and the demon army. In the midst of the fiery battle, Sunshine will learn a shocking truth about herself and what sort of sacrifice is required to save the world.  Goodreads Synopsis

I went into The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl with the expectations of knowing it was a “lighter” horror book.  This series is based off of a You Tube sensation show by Paige McKenzie.  While technically the third in the series, The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl can still be read as a stand-alone novel.  I read that this book had a lot of back story, filling the reader in on what happened in the previous two books making it very easy to read and enjoy this third without reading the others.

This was a quick, fun little ghost and demon story that reminded me of the teenage horror movies I loved in the late 90s, like The Craft.  This book is perfect for those who want a fast, fun horror book, or for those who can’t stomach some of the adult horror books, but still like a fun creepy story.

Thanks to Little Bird Publishing for sending me a copy of The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl in exchange for my review.

 

Not That I Could Tell: a Review

Not That I Could TellA07B8BCE-FC4A-428C-8963-C37AD0D9B996

Jessica Strawaer

March 27, 2018

review ebook courtesy of Netgally and St. Martin’s

 

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own. Goodreads Synopsis 

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

 

 

This book had something me serious Big Little Lies vibes going on: a little privileged mom life drama, some mystery and scandal. While there were some surprises and twists and turns in the plot, for the most part it was very predictable. That didn’t mean it wasn’t an enjoyable read, I just felt like it wasn’t terribly original.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes women’s fiction, or domestic suspense reads. Not That I Could Tell would be a great vacation read for poolside over spring break!

Laura and Emma: a Review

IMG_7241Laura & Emma

by Kate Greathead

352 pages

March 2018. Simon and Schuster

Review copy courtesy of Simon and Schuster

A tender, witty debut novel about a single mother raising her daughter among the upper crust of New York City society in the late twentieth century from a nine-time Moth StorySLAM champion.
Laura hails from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, born into old money, drifting aimlessly into her early thirties. One weekend in 1981 she meets Jefferson. The two sleep together. He vanishes. And Laura realizes she’s pregnant.
Enter: Emma.
Despite her progressive values, Laura raises Emma by herself in the same blue-blood world of private schools and summer homes she grew up in, buoyed by a host of indelible characters, including her eccentric mother, who informs her society friends and Emma herself that she was fathered by a Swedish sperm donor; her brother, whose childhood stutter reappears in the presence of their forbidding father; an exceptionally kind male pediatrician; and her overbearing best friend, whose life has followed the Park Avenue script in every way except for childbearing. Meanwhile, the apple falls far from the tree with Emma, who begins to question her environment in a way her mother never could.
Told in vignettes that mine the profound from the mundane, with meditations on everything from sex and death to insomnia and the catharsis of crying on the subway, a textured portrait emerges of a woman struggling to understand herself, her daughter, and the changing landscape of New York City in the eighties and nineties. Laura & Emma is an acutely insightful exploration of class and family warfare from a new author whose offbeat sensibility, understated wit, and stylish prose celebrate the comedy and pathos that make us human. Goodreads Synopsis

 

Laura and Emma has a Gilmore Girls goes to New York City vibe.  Laura and Emma is the story of single mom Laura and her adventure in raising Emma in the city with all the dry wit you would expect from a thick skinned single mom New Yorker in the 90s.

This novel is told in short vignettes and wow, does it ever work for this book!  The writer has done an amazing job weaving the story together, building the characters and being throughly consistent in these brief little glimpses into the year.

I loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone that’s a fam of women’s literature or the Gilmore Girls.  Thank you to Simon and Schuster for this free book in exchange for my review.

 

 

Ashes on the Moore: a Review

IMG_7229                                                   Ashes on the Moore

By Sarah M. Eden

384 pages

March 2018 Shadow Mountain Publishing

Review Copy courtesy of Shadow Mountain Publishing

The life of an impoverished schoolteacher is not one Evangeline Blake would have chosen for herself. Torn from her home and her beloved sister and sent to work in the gritty factory town of Smeatley, Evangeline must prove herself to her grandfather, a man who values self-reliance above all else, before he will grant her access to her inheritance. Raised to be a lady of refinement, she hasn’t any of the skills necessary to manage on her own nor does she have the first idea how to be a teacher. But failure means never being with her sister again.

Alone and overwhelmed, she turns to the one person in town who seems to know how she feels—Dermot McCormick, an Irish brick mason who is as far from home and as out of place as she is. Despite the difference in their classes and backgrounds, Evangeline and Dermot’s tentative friendship deepens and grows. Her determination and compassion slowly earn her the faith and confidence of the skeptical residents of Smeatley, who become like the family she has lost.

But when a secret from her past comes to light, Evangeline faces an impossible choice: seize the opportunity to reclaim her former life and rejoin her sister or fight for the new life she has struggled to build for herself—a life that includes Dermot.

Ashes on the Moor is the inspiring love story of one Victorian woman’s courage to fight against all odds, and the man whose quiet strength gives her the confidence to keep trying. Goodreads Synopsis

 

If you have followed along with my blog for any bit of time, you would know my love for the Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance titles, both the historical and the new contemporary titles.  They are just wonderful, wholesome love stories without all the smut.

I will say that Ashes on the Moore isn’t my favorite title in the line.  It has a great plot, the characters were developed, and every element of a great book is there. I just didn’t connect with this one.

I think my biggest problem personally is there wasn’t a huge problem to overcome.  Yes, Evangeline’s  family all dies aside from her sister who is taken away from her as they are sent to seperate houses.  She has to start with literally nothing: no family, friends, food or material items and has to learn to be a school teacher.  All of this, and I still didn’t feel there was a big problem to resolve in the book.  This is probably just me, but it’s what I felt.  Just because it wasn’t one of my favorite books, doesn’t mean you won’t love it.  If you are a fan of historical fiction and romance, please give it a try.  I would love to hear your thoughts on it!!!

 

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for sending me the free ARC in exchange for my honest review.