#BookReview: The Ivy Creek Sewing Circle: Stories from the heart of Appalachia by Tammy Robinson Smith

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: September 15, 2019

Summary:

What happens when tragedy strikes? Well, if you are a member of The Ivy Creek Sewing Circle, your friends jump in and help you through it. That’s what happened in Ivy Creek during the summer of 1971 when Emmybeth Johnson’s family faced a heartbreaking event. Nine-year old Emmybeth is narrator to the whole episode as she watches the women of The Ivy Creek Sewing Circle gather round her family to support them during a time of crises. It’s a time when “Girl Power” becomes real in Emmybeth’s life and when she learns lessons that serve her well into adulthood. Come to Ivy Creek and witness what can transpire when women friends form a sisterhood and troubles are shared. It is a story that will in turn warm your heart, feed your soul and sometimes make you laugh out loud as you become part of the Johnson family and The Ivy Creek Sewing Circle. (Previously published as “Emmybeth Speaks.”)

Review:

I finished “The Ivy Creek Sewing Circle” by Tammy Robinson Smith last night before I went to sleep. I was totally entertained by this book which is the first of more to come in a series. This was a wholesome and refreshing novel. 

I loved that this story was told from the voice of a nine-year-old girl whose name is Emmybeth Johnson. She is a quite a character! She thinks things and then apologises to God for those nasty little thoughts. I liked hearing what she thought about her little brother and all that was going on around her and her constant conversation with God. 

This was a particularly rough year for her family and Tammy Robinson Smith showed the importance of our women friends and how they will rally around us in times of trouble. Emmybeth has many fine examples of strong women in her life. 

I am looking forward to reading more of this Appalachia series! 

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair an honest review.

4 Stars.

#BookReview: Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Ginder

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: June 11, 2019

Summary:

The Wright family is in ruins.

Sue Ellen Wright has what she thinks is a close-to-perfect life. A terrific job as a Classics professor, a loving husband, and a son who is just about to safely leave the nest.

But then disaster strikes. She learns that her husband is cheating, and that her son has made a complete mess of his life. So, when the opportunity to take her family to a Greek island for a month presents itself, she jumps at the chance. This sunlit Aegean paradise, with its mountains and beaches is, after all, where she first fell in love with both a man and with an ancient culture. Perhaps Sue Ellen’s past will provide the key to her and her family’s salvation.

With his signature style of biting wit, hilarious characters, and deep emotion, Grant Ginder’s Honestly, We Meant Well is a funny, brilliant novel proving that with family, drama always comes with comedy.

Review:

The dysfunction jumps off of the pages with each turn in Grant Ginder’s, “Honestly, We Meant Well”; and it is deliciously raw and delightful.

From the moment we meet Sue Ellen Wright we are brought into an amazing mess! While she believes everything with her family is running smoothly, everything is truly like a house of dominoes that are falling.

When she accepts a job offer in Greece, we are taken on a dramatic and hilarious journey with the Wright family. Ginder knows Greece thoroughly, and brings it to life for us!

It’s truly a stunning island. I fell in love.

It’s a truly entertaining, vibrant and charismatic story.

I immediately bought all of Grant Ginder’s Novels! I cannot wait to read about his next family….

4 Stars.

 

 

 

#BookReview: Stay by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Hyde-Stay-27325-CV-JK-v3.inddReviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: December 3, 2019

Summary:

An unforgettable novel about the power of friendship and kindness by the New York Times bestselling author of Pay It Forward.

In the summer of 1969, fourteen-year-old Lucas Painter carries a huge weight on his shoulders. His brother is fighting in Vietnam. His embattled parents are locked in a never-ending war. And his best friend, Connor, is struggling with his own family issues. To find relief from the chaos, Lucas takes long, meandering walks, and one day he veers into the woods.

There he discovers an isolated cabin and two huge dogs. Frightened, he runs. And the dogs run with him. Lucas finds unusual peace in running with the dogs, and eventually he meets their owner, Zoe Dinsmore. Closed off and haunted by a tragic past, Zoe has given up. She doesn’t want to be saved. She wants out. But Lucas doesn’t want her to go, and he sees an opportunity to bring more than one friend back into the light. It’s either the best or worst idea he’s ever had, but Lucas isn’t giving up on Zoe or Connor.

Their unexpected connection might be the saving grace that Zoe thought she’d lost, that Connor needs, and that Lucas has been running toward.

Review:

“Stay” by Catherine Ryan Hyde is one spectacular novel! 

If you have not read this book yet, do yourself a favor and add it to the very top of your “To Be Read” pile. I can’t say this is the happiest book or the saddest book I’ve read but, it is the most satisfying and profound book I’ve read in a long time. There are a lot of life lessons to be learned in this story.

The writing was smooth and poignant. I found myself re-reading sentences and passages because they grabbed me and I didn’t want to ever forget them. This book deals with addiction, families and many thoughts of suicide. 

I woke up this morning thinking about this story and why I loved it so much when on the surface it felt so sad. This book carries with it an abundance of HOPE. What do we have in life if we don’t have hope? 

I will never forget this book.

I do not read books more than one time but, I am going to make an exception for “Stay”. This book is definitely worth another read and will be read at least one more time. Thank you Catherine Ryan Hyde for such a beautiful and profound book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

#BookReview & #ChristinesFamilyFavorites: Carolyn’s Song: A Novella by Elizabeth Huss

DE181759-E0D3-4CA8-8488-80FB87E4FCDAReviewer: Christine Davis

Date of Release: December 30, 2017

Summary:

“…They would get their own full color page in the yearbook for sure. Christine with her full, glamour girl smile and Sandy with his friendly, crooked grin… Lynn sighed. That was the perfect scene. It couldn’t be any other way and be right…”
Combination locks, confusing class schedules, first love, Algebra, peanut butter crackers and a handsome senior with gray- green eyes.–And that’s just the first week of high school! Freshman Lynn James is trying her best to navigate her way through the confusing hallways of Trelawney High School. For years, her life has been all about playing violin, hanging out with her best friend Patty and spending time with her mom and dad. And, sometimes even her little sister Tabitha. But now that she’s finally in high school, Lynn senses new, unfamiliar doors opening all around her. Will Lynn be able to find her own song? Or, will she get lost in the sea of sour notes at Trelawney High?

An engaging novella about a high school girl trying to find her own path.

F2274896-8F2D-43C3-92A8-E5209B04C3F0Review:

A girl, a boy and all that everyone of us experienced during those happy, troubled and unforgettable times of High School. All this is wrapped up in Elizabeth Huss’ book “Carolyn’s Song.”

Ever look at that one boy who’s face and marvelous smile took your heart in a second flat? Then that gut punch comes when you realize “Hey, is THAT his girlfriend?” Drama of the teen years is brought front and center in this heartwarming novella by Huss.

I took a trip down memory lane with this tale of young love. Remembering my first real crush and how head over heals I felt when he returned my affections. Also brought back to life for me was the nerve wracking experience of that freshman year of high school. Huss did a super job re-creating those tender years.

Slip back on your letterman jacket and grab a Cola, sit back and enjoy a time travel adventure of your yester years with this book, you’ll have a blast!

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4 Stars.

#BookReview: Evening in the Yellow Wood by Laura Kemp

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: December 12, 2018

Summary:

Abandoned by an eccentric father on the eve of her twelfth birthday, Justine Cook has lived with her fair share of unanswered questions. Now, ten years later she leaves her life in southern Michigan and heads north to the mysterious town of Lantern Creek after seeing his picture in a local newspaper. Once there, she discovers her father had been leading a double life and meets the autistic brother she never knew—a young man wis mute but able to read her mind.

When a local girl who looks like Justine is mysteriously murdered, she joins forces with sheriff’s deputy Dylan Locke to capture the killer. But the more they dig for clues to the past, the closer they come to discovering a secret someone will kill to protect. Justine begins to show signs of supernatural power and eventually must stop an immortal enemy that has hunted her family for generation

Review:

I loved “Evening in the Yellow Wood” by Laura Kemp. The Michigan girl wrote a killer book for her debut novel! I’m a Michigan girl, too and I’m so proud of Laura Kemp. Maybe I am partial but, you’ll have to read the book to find out for yourself. 

The story is outstanding. There’s a little romance, a little folklore, a little magic and a lot of intrigue. This book will keep you turning the pages to see what happens next. I couldn’t put it down. Laura’s ease with the written word shines in this book. She has captured the essence of her characters in a way that will stay with you for a long time. 

I don’t know what I was expecting when I started this book but, my expectations were blown out of the water. This is so much more than a murder mystery or a girl looking for her father. Take my word that you will want to read this book!

5 Stars.

#BookReview, #HolidayReads & #GiveAway: Wrapped Up In Christmas by Janice Lynn

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: October 1st, 2019

Summary:

A gift of warmth
to heal two hearts…

Sarah Smith in Pine Hill, Kentucky has had her heart broken in the past. She pours herself into her work at church and into special projects—like making a quilt for a wounded warrior.

Bodie Lewis is lost. All he’s ever wanted was his career as an Army Ranger, but he wainjured in an explosion that killed his brothers in arms. In the hospital, he receives a handmade quilt. Later, he sets out on his final mission: to find and thank its maker.

Bodie expected Sarah to be an elderly lady, not a lovely young woman. When she mistakes him for a handyman, he doesn’t immediately set her straight. Instead, he sets about repairing the home she’s turning into a bed and breakfast. Sarah’s presence and the spirit of the small town bring Bodie something he thought he’d left far behind on the battlefield: hope.

This heartwarming military romance includes a free quilt pattern from the Quilts of Valor Foundation and a new Hallmark original recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

 

Review:

Janice Lynn’s “Wrapped up In Christmas” was such a charming and romantic novel.

This story had so many great aspects to it from family to friends, to Quilts of Valor organization, to learning to live after the war.

Bodie was a kind and giving soul that took Sarah by surprise from the beginning. The “butterflies” were totally entertaining and kept things exciting!

Sarah was such a sweetheart and at times my heart broke for her.

I was also deeply in love with the dog, Harry and how he was weaved throughout the story; you will too!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book !!! Definitely recommend everyone read this holiday romance!

I received this book from the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

4.5 Stars.

 

GIVEAWAY:  eBook COPY OF BOOK.

TO ENTER PLEASE LEAVE COMMENT BY 9PM FRIDAY.  THANK YOU.

#BookReview: Songbirds and Stray Dogs by Meagan Lucas

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: August, 2019

Summary:

In Songbirds and Stray Dogs, Jolene has been abandoned by her addict mother on the steps of her spinster aunt’s door at eight years old. She’s spent the last thirteen years living in the shadow of the pain her mother caused and trying to prove herself worthy of her aunt’s stingy love. Unintentionally she becomes pregnant. When the father refuses her and her aunt kicks her out, Jolene tries to outrun her shame by heading to the mountains. Homeless, penniless, alone, and chased by demons from her past, she makes friends who help and hinder. She is forced to confront exactly who she is, what she wants, and what she is willing to do to get it.

Geography and a sense of place are central to Songbirds and Stray Dogs. It is a Southern story, born of sweet tea and the Bible Belt, chow-chow and cornbread, shot guns and porch rocking. But it is also a universal story of escaping the burden of your past and finding yourself at home in a strange land.

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed “Songbirds and Stray Dogs” by Meagan Lucas. This novel kept me engaged and I had a hard time putting it down. 

Several characters were lovable and some were despicable. The author created a great blend of characters. The story was not sugar coated at all and while the book dealt with a large range of emotions it did not come off feeling contrived. This story was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. 

Meagan Lucas has a beautiful writing style and I am impressed with her debut novel. I’m definitely hoping for a sequel to answer some questions I was left with. 

I highly recommend this book!

I was given a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair an honest review.

4 Stars.

#AuthorInterview #HolidayReads & #GiveAway: Meet Janice Lynn, author of Hallmark’s “Wrapped Up in Christmas”

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What first sparked your interest in writing Wrapped Up in Christmas?

For some time I have been wanting to spread my wings as a writer and push myself outside my comfort zone, to write a story that moved people, and brought my writing to another level. My agent suggested I write a proposal for Hallmark. When I sat down to write the proposal, I asked myself what Hallmark meant to me, and I started writing the proposal for Wrapped Up in Love–which was the original title, as the original version centered around July 4th rather than Christmas. I was asked to revise to a Christmas story and make a few tweaks to the proposal, and Hallmark Publishing bought it. Now, I can’t imagine the book as anything other than a Christmas story.

How long did it take you to write the story?  

I’m honestly not sure of the exact timeframe for the first draft. I’d guess around 3 months. I was on deadline with another publisher, so I had to write.

Who is your favorite character & why?  

There are a lot of characters in the book I love for various reasons. The answer that popped into my head is Harry, who is my hero’s dog. But I adore Bodie and Sarah, and I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention the Butterflies. Writing Harry and letting his personality come through without dialogue stretched me as a writer. Stretching outside one’s comfort zone makes one grow and that’s a good thing. I adore Bodie because he is a wounded warrior with a big heart, a real life hero who loves his country and fellowman. He’s the kind of hero you know would come to your rescue no matter what. Sarah is sweet and loves her hometown and community. I love that about her, probably because I feel the same way about the small town in Tennessee where I live. And, those pesky Butterflies….those ladies were so much fun to write because I had to ask myself, now what would they do next that borders on outrageous without going too far over the top. I’d catch myself giggling at times writing the scenes with them on the page because I could so vividly see them in my mind. Hmmm, that was more than a single character, but I honestly love them all equally.

Annie: I am totally excited that you said the hero’s dog first. Each character sounds amazingly special, but I have a special place in my heart for dogs.

0B618662-BB41-4637-B465-CE0105BFD580When did you realize you were a novelist?

When I was in the first grade. No kidding. On my tablet paper, I wrote a story about a witch and was hooked. I’d write every chance I got up until I went away to college. Somehow, I quit writing for pleasure during that time, got my degree, a husband, some beautiful children, and it wasn’t until 9/11 happened that, same as many others, I found myself looking at life differently. For me that meant asking myself why I wasn’t pursuing my dream of writing. It was my dream and yet I was putting zero effort into making it a reality. I started writing again. Writing is such a wonderful outlet for me that, looking back, I can’t believe I allowed myself to stop for so long. Whether or not I ever sold another book, I’d still write. Writing soothes a need in me that nothing else touches. My hope is that my writing soothes a need in my readers that only a good book can accomplish.

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What’s been the most exciting part of Wrapped Up in Christmas’s release?

Everything about writing for Hallmark has been exciting. How my hometown has shared in my joy of this book warms my heart in so many ways. Friends and family have just embraced me with their joy. It’s been amazing, but my answer as to what’s been the most exciting has to be having been a guest on the Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family talk show on November 8th and making a snowflake ornament with Cameron Mathison. He was so unbelievably kind. I’d love to write a book that he someday starred in the movie. Did I mention that I’m a dreamer? LOL. Still, this entire experience has been dreamy, so I know dreams come true. I’m just going to keep dreaming.

Annie: WOW! I love that show, and Cameron Mathison! That is so amazing!

What’s your favorite part of being an author?

Getting to write stories that raise awareness of causes I believe in such as the Quilts of Valor Foundation. In Wrapped Up in Christmas, Sarah has donated a quilt to the Quilts of Valor Foundation. That quilt made its way to a wounded warrior named Bodie Lewis.  Quilts of Valor is a real organization that really does wrap up veterans and active servicemen and women in quilts. That my book has brought attention to their mission makes my heart happy because I 100% believe in what they are doing.

Annie: This is an amazing organization! Here is the link for everyone to check out! https://www.qovf.org

6C64D46C-0D2E-4DA2-9D69-861ECC8BEEF4What are your hobbies?

I love to sew and quilt. I won’t say that I have a whole lot of perfectly straight quarter inch seams, but I try. 🙂  I am in the process of making a quilt for each of my children, make quilts for baby shower gifts, and have recently finished my second Quilts of Valor quilt to be donated. I hope to make many more to be donated in the future as well as continuing to write stories that draw attention to the wonderful work this organization does.  


Annie: Thank you so much for this outstanding interview behind the scenes of both you and your book! It’s so wonderful to get to know you better!

 

GIVEAWAY:  eBook COPY OF BOOK.

TO ENTER PLEASE LEAVE COMMENT BY 9PM WEDNESDAY.  THANK YOU.

#BookReview: In Her Eyes by Sarah Alderson

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: November 14, 2019

Summary:

You’re at home with your family. You think you’re safe. You’re wrong…

Ava’s life is the kind other people envy: loving husband; great kids; beautiful house. Until the night that a violent home invasion plunges her world into chaos.

In the aftermath of the attack, Ava needs answers to two questions. Who has targeted her family? And why?

But things aren’t adding up. She is starting to suspect that someone knows more than they are letting on. That everything she thought she knew about the people closest to her was a lie.

Ava needs to know what happened that night. And to do that she must decide who she can really trust. Because she’s about to discover that her family is in more danger than she ever imagined…

For fans of Rachel Abbott, Laura Marshall and Cara Hunter, IN HER EYES is a brilliantly twisty thriller about the secrets that lie behind a seemingly perfect life.

 

Review

Sarah Alderson had me hooked from the moment I picked up “In Her Eyes”.

What a cast of characters this novel had…From Ava to Robert to June to Hannah and so many more….. they were all instrumental in the story.  I truly couldn’t tell you my favorite.

I was in awe of the books ending! The twists and turns along the way we’re immense, so many I just never saw coming.

This was my first novel by this author.

If you want to read a thriller that you will not be able to put down, then this book is perfect for you!

I highly recommend “In Her Eyes”! Looking forward to the next Sarah Alderson Book! Sign me up!

I received the ARC of this book from the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: August 20, 2019

Summary:

“An exhilarating thrill ride that keeps you turning pages.. Ryan deftly delivers a denouement as shocking as it is satisfying.”–Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Last Time I Saw You

Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future.

Problem is–she’s wrong.

And in this cat and mouse game–the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival.

The Murder List is a new standalone suspense novel in the tradition of Lisa Scottoli

and B. A. Paris from award-winning author and reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan.

At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Review:

Hank Phillipi Ryan’s triangular approach that is used to introduce each character to us in “The Murder List” was a winning combination. It was such a wicked playing field! So ferociously intense you didn’t know who you could trust! Such a beautiful gift in a thriller!

Rachel is a Howard Law Student married to Jack, one of the finest Defense Attorney’s in Boston. Rachel must work with Jack’s nemesis, Assistant District Attorney, Martha to complete her internship for Law School. Deliciously intense!

It is so thrilling..you will not want to stop reading!

Rachel wants to get on the  Murder List. To be part of the team defending the people being accused of murder. But. How do you get on this List? Is there more than one type of Murder List???

This story is nothing short of exhilarating! I was taken away with the courtroom drama, political games, and crimes. Everything had me gripped to the pages….Hank Phillipi Ryan truly has a gift for writing the riveting novel with twists you don’t expect and one that you certainly do not want to put down until you get to the very. last. word.

And, then you have to sit…and absorb everything you just read.

Brilliant!

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars