#BookReview: The Roux in the Gumbo by Kim Robinson

Reviewer: Serena Soape

C427BAA8-28F7-4A79-A9D1-95002C9D41A5Summary:

From the 1800’s in Louisiana to 1997 California

Experience the history of a family as the author makes you laugh and cry through their adventures.

Review:

“Every Person’s life is like a pot of gumbo, you get out what you put in”

This was one of my favorite sayings from Kim Robinson’s book right from the beginning.

I listened to the Audible version of “The Roux in the Gumbo” and I feel like I was able to get a real feel for the book, with all of the different characters and their voices and situations.

This story is sometimes heartbreaking and hard to hear. What they went through was often horrific! But, there were also a lot of happy points highlighted in the book, as well. Sometimes the difficult parts of the book concerned me about whether I could keep going, but I am glad I did.

I did find it a little difficult to keep up with all of the characters, as there were so many of them, but I think listening to the made that easier for me (versus reading the book) with the distinct voices.

The fact that she was able to create this novel from all of her elders stories through the years was truly amazing and a work of art.

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

4 Stars.

#BookReview: Room for Two (Maple Glen #4) by Christina Butrum

Reviewer: Serena Soape

5C7BD6E0-69B7-471E-A425-C48C42D84413Summary:

Catie Mitchell has always dreamed of one day owning a successful Bed and Breakfast.

When an opportunity to purchase a house with plenty of flaws and plenty of potential presents itself, she knows the project is meant for her.

What should’ve been a simple project soon proves to be much more of a challenge than she’d bargained for.

Ethan Davis isn’t a fan of small towns. He loves his life in the city.

When his grandfather asks him to visit Maple Glen to help with a project, he’s determined to get it over with and return to his home in the city.

What should’ve been a simple project gets more complicated when he meets who he’ll be working with—a feisty blonde trying to make something out of nothing.

When two complete opposites are forced to see eye to eye in this sweet, enemies to lovers romance, will Catie’s dream of owning a Bed and Breakfast become a reality? Or will two clashing personalities cause the project to collapse altogether?

Review:

I was excited to be back in Maple Glen with Fran and the rest of the small town folks. This town is known for romance with matchmaking Fran and her coffee shop. This fits the bill perfectly.

Catie and Ethan’s story is an unlikely match and I must admit that I was not sure how this would end. Catie is such a fun and likeable character. I wanted to tell Ethan to straighten up a few times and do the right thing.

Christina Butrum is a great author that continues to entertain me with her books.

This is a part of the Maple Glen Series and I would recommend that you read the other books, if possible; so that you get the backstory on the characters.

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

4 Stars.

 

#BookReview: The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

Reviewer: Christine Davis

73B7D372-7743-4D18-8D3D-85273020C68CSummary:

A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Timesbestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house, they start building one from scratch, without knowing it, until it’s too late . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home–wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks–she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie’s descendants, three generations of “Breckenridge women,” each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.

Review:

We all fantasize of that perfect place. A place to build your dream home and live life like you always wanted to. Should that place include those who lived there long ago, decades ago?

Author Jennifer McMahon takes her characters in her book ‘The Invited’ to the point where they must ask themselves; “who does belong and who doesn’t ?” at their new home. Where does the history of a place, a family, belong beside the living of today? How far should someone go to find out if history was correct in condemning another to death? And what do you do if the dead won’t stay quiet? Do you invite them in?

My heart clenched and my eyes popped wide as I read how closely intertwined the lives of people became with “the other realms” in this story. A haunted house scary book you say? Nope. Scary graveyard tale? Not in any traditional sense! To find out who’s been invited you’ll have to read and wonder if the decision to give invitations was wise!

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: So Long As We’re Together by Glenda Burgess

Reviewer: Annie McDonnell

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Both Serena Soape & I Reviewed this Book. You can find her find her review by simply Searching the book title in the Search Field. We hope you enjoy both points of view.

Summary:

Two little girls, holding hands and singing in the back seat of a car. There for each other, unafraid. Life for the Stone girls is a life lived on the edge. Singing for a living, Marley and Andi find their way through a childhood of upheaval marked by their mother Donna’s dark, unpredictable flights. Today, Marley writes the songs her twin, country diva Andi Stone, makes famous, and the girls’ connection struggles to survive the cuts and devastations of fame. “You girls,” laments their manager. “One of you marries indiscriminately, the other not at all.” When without warning Donna Stone takes her own life, alone at the family cabin, danger stalks Marley back to Lost Prince Lake, back into the loves and betrayals of the past. Hidden truths threaten to take the Stone sisters down, singly and together. A powerful, intimate portrait of love, ambition, and survival, So Long As We’re Together takes the reader into the lives of three women who give song to broken hearts, and for whom music is the language of family.

Review:

Finally! A novel that is a lyrical dance and a gift to all of our senses! An absolute joy and pleasure to read. This is what you call literary fiction at its best!

Glenda Burgess is a truly gifted writer! She delivers the magnificent tale of the Stone Sisters in “As Long As we’re Together”. I found both Andi and Marley to be two richly developed female lead characters, and, I was championing them both the whole way through. Even when I wasn’t sure I liked them.

Their Mother Donna’s story is told through eyes of compassion, even if it takes them them entire book to get there.

I was completely riveted. There were times where I had to read the book out loud because the writing was just so beautiful.

I loved the use of letters, and music, and just everything….Language. Like I said; a lyrical dance! Burgess’ writing is often poetic, often bringing you to tears, making you laugh, or just having you so glued to the pages you cannot stop reading!

This is a book to be savored, read slowly on a Lazy afternoon. Don’t rush this one. Trust me! You’ll be happy you took the time to enjoy every single word!

I must read more Glenda Burgess Now! I am in love!

I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

Also, I’d like to add that I LOVED this Cover!

#BookReview: The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Reviewer: Serena Soape

The Night Olivia FellBoth Annie McDonnell & I Reviewed this Book. You can find her find her review by simply Searching the book title in the Search Field. We hope you enjoy both points of view.

Summary:

In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

Review:

Christina McDonald has wowed me with “The Night Olivia Fell”!!!!!

Absolutely a page turner that I could not put down!!!! I had heard so much about it and now I know why.

The twists and turns that the author took me on throughout this book telling Olivia’s story all the way to the unpredictable ending –  were all fantastic!!!

I would definitely recommend this book and look forward to reading more of her books!!!

5 Stars.

#BookReview: So Long As We’re Together by Glenda Burgess

Reviewer: Serena Soape

EDB3BE39-0346-4D90-B6B7-2E0F6E2411B0Summary:

Two little girls, holding hands and singing in the back seat of a car. There for each other, unafraid. Life for the Stone girls is a life lived on the edge. Singing for a living, Marley and Andi find their way through a childhood of upheaval marked by their mother Donna’s dark, unpredictable flights. Today, Marley writes the songs her twin, country diva Andi Stone, makes famous, and the girls’ connection struggles to survive the cuts and devastations of fame. “You girls,” laments their manager. “One of you marries indiscriminately, the other not at all.” When without warning Donna Stone takes her own life, alone at the family cabin, danger stalks Marley back to Lost Prince Lake, back into the loves and betrayals of the past. Hidden truths threaten to take the Stone sisters down, singly and together. A powerful, intimate portrait of love, ambition, and survival, So Long As We’re Together takes the reader into the lives of three women who give song to broken hearts, and for whom music is the language of family.

Review:

When I first started this book, I thought I knew what was going to happen but boy was I wrong. I was taken on an emotional roller coaster ride where I learned many things I could not ever imagine would happen. I found myself chuckling occasionally, but; mostly I was truly sympathetic to everything this family had endured and how they handled what was handed to them was truly amazing.

Glenda Burgess weaves this story about 2 sisters whom were connected with music but connected in so many more ways. I loved the characters personalities throughout.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

It was my first read by Glenda Burgess, but I will be exploring more of her books.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4 Stars.

#BookReview: Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Reviewer: Annie McDonnell

D29E66F4-8738-4562-9BEE-50B7AC1C37CBSummary:

From the bestselling author of The Marriage Lie and Three Days Missing comes a riveting new novel of suspense about a woman who, in a fight for survival, must decide just how far she’ll go to escape the person she once loved

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long.

Review:

“Dear Wife” is a gripping, captivating, take-your-breath-away novel!

Kimberly Belle has become the household name for Domestic Suspense, so by the time, “Dear Wife” was released, I was thrilled with excitement when UPS delivered it!

Then due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to purchase the audiobook as well, and it was just stunning! They did an amazing job narrating. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this story….It made everything come to life!

The secrets, the not-knowing, the twists and turns…I repeat, the actual “not-knowing” who one of the main characters truly was, became such an intense hunt that I could not stop listening.

The urge to get to the end was such a powerful force that when I did finally get there…WOW!!!

So…Proceed with caution, because Belle gives us a powerful shock at the end that I was not expecting.

Well done Kimberly Belle!! Well done!!

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Lily Barlow: The Mystery of Jane Dough by Carla Vergot

Reviewer: Annie McDonnell

7C6CD20C-22EB-4296-8F83-768DF686338ESummary:

Lily Barlow, a quirky college student obsessed with the fictional bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, is called home from the University of Virginia to get the family bakery running after her dad’s heart attack. Stuck in a sinkhole of self-pity, she finds her sleepy hometown…well…can a town actually be in a coma?

No worries. All she needs to do is hire a bakery manager, and she’s not even moving back in with her family for that part. Instead, she rents an efficiency garage from Miss Delphine Walker, an old woman who Lily begins to believe may have killed someone at some point in time.

Meanwhile, Lily’s overactive imagination takes a swan dive when she discovers an online clearinghouse for victims the cops can’t identify. Consumed with the profiles on the website, Miss Delphine, and the candidates for the bakery manager position, she simply cannot cope with one more problem. So when Jack Turner, her best friend since kindergarten, reveals out of nowhere that he wants something more than friendship, what’s a woman to do?

Review:

Carla Vergot delivers a fun, often hysterical crime-solving romp between two best friends that could be lovers, if only Lily opens her eyes and heart; and crazy chickens that could have their very own novel in “Lily Barlow: The Mystery of Jane Dough”.

Lily Barlow is one cool chic! She is a Laugh Riot!

She is so unique, eccentric and hilarious with her quirky one-liners that had me laughing out loud! I found myself always waiting for the next one!

I fell for her hard; especially loving the fact that she became obsessed with the Doe Network she happened upon…when she was supposed to be googling “Dough”! (See! She is hysterical!)

This led us to the mystery part of the story. I was so intrigued and rather excited about this. But, then this part of the narrative fell a little short for me. Only because I was expecting a lot more excitement. This by no means is suggesting I did not like this storyline. I am saying that when you wrap Carla Vergot’s story up, this was the one small piece I wish had a bigger explosion….like Lily’s character!

Her best friend, Jack was helping her investigate the mystery….and the slow burn romance with him was killing me!! The entire book I was like..”Lily! He’s perfect!”

Only Lily seems to need Love Goggles! Ha! Drove me bit mad.

I cannot wait to see what is in store for Lily and Jack in the next book.

(I can totally see Lily Barlow getting a Cult Following)

4 Stars.

#TheBookReview: Christmas in Vermont by Anita Hughes

Reviewer: Serena Soape

B902D5F2-02FA-4B3F-91D2-F13C06B37CC9.jpegSummary:

Release Date: October 15th, 2019

A sweet holiday love story about the magic of synchronicity and fate set at a quaint Vermont inn during the week after Christmas.

Emma can’t believe her luck when she finds an open pawn shop on Christmas Eve in Manhattan. She’s there to sell the beautiful bracelet her ex-boyfriend gave her when a familiar looking watch catches her eye. It’s the same engraved watch she gave her college boyfriend, Fletcher, years ago. On a whim, she trades the bracelet for the watch and wonders at the timing.

Practical Emma thinks it’s just a coincidence, but her best friend Bronwyn believes it’s the magic of synchronicity that caused Emma to find the watch. Fletcher was the one that got away, and somehow Emma never quite moved on.

When Bronwyn finds out that Fletcher is in snowy Vermont at a romantic inn for the week, she can’t help but give synchronicity a push. She signs Emma up to help the inn keeper as the children’s activity coordinator. Emma agrees that a week filled with quaint shops and maple syrup would do her good… and maybe Fate really does have a Christmas gift in store for her. That is until she sees Fletcher with his daughter and fianc�e.

Suddenly, the fairytale trip seems doomed to fail… much like the innkeeper’s dwindling cashflow. It will take a miracle to save her heart and the inn. And that just might be what Fate has in mind.

Christmas in Vermont is a delightful and charming love story about the magic of second chances during the most festive time of year.

Review:

From the moment I picked up “Christmas in Vermont” I could not put it down. I had to know if it ended the way I had hoped it would.

Anita Hughes tells a story of the relationship between Emma and Fletcher.

Emma was a sweet character with a heart of gold. Fletcher was her ex-boyfriend from college, who was just as kind as she was.

When they cross paths again, what does destiny have in store for them?

I loved the characters and how their personalities were developed.

It’s a sweet holiday romance with an ending that might have even had me teary eyed. 

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

4 Stars.

#BookReview: The Mourning Parade by Dawn Reno Langley

Reviewer: Annie

0549510F-813A-452B-A9C4-30157255EDCCSummary:

Natalie DeAngelo lost everything the day her two young sons were killed in a school shooting. Desperate to find relief from her unspeakable loss, she volunteers as a veterinarian on an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, but soon realizes she may be in over her head. Battling the memories that torment her day and night, Natalie must find a way to heal an angry, injured elephant named Sophie. Through love, acceptance, and gentle care, Natalie and Sophie heal together, finding new ways to enjoy life again.

Review:

I feel utterly blessed for having read “The Mourning Parade”. It is an extremely beautifully written story. Not often do I read a story and feel better for having read it, and when it does happen I want to tell everyone I know to read it.

Dawn Reno Langley introduces us to a grieving single mother named Natalie, who had just lost both of her sons to a school shooting. To try and find some peace and healing Natalie goes to Thailand to volunteer at an Elephant Sanctuary. She meets an elephant named Sophie in need of some peace and healing, as well.

I promise you will be happier for knowing Natalie and Sophie! I know I was deeply in love with them. I was rooting for them as if I was alongside them! I truly felt transported. It was amazing! They now live within me! Every character was written into the story with such finesse; they will truly touch you.

While I know this book is about grief and mourning; it is mostly about the resilience and the light that can shine as we go through these times. It’s about that human condition. It’s also about the natural instincts that elephants have; and all they can teach us. It’s about who is teaching who along the way!

Above all this is a story about love and it’s power!

What a powerful ending! I literally got chills! The hair on my arms stood up! I sat up while reading…and, gave it every ounce of my heart as I finished. It commanded my full attention!

You will finish the book and your heart will be made bigger for having read Langley’s powerful lyrical story. I know it was one of the most heartfelt stories I’ve read in quite some time.

Place it on your bookshelf. You’ll read this one again! And, Go tell your friends about it! Tell all of them!

5 Stars.