#BookReview: Lavender, Loss & Love at the Villa des Violettes (Villa des Violettes #3) by Patricia Sands

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Sale: January 24th, 2020

Summary:

A sizzling heat wave is only part of the drama unfolding on the sun-drenched Côte d’Azur …
When Kat and Philippe settle into a new season as innkeepers at the Villa des Violettes, extraordinary stories are revealed by guests. Ancestry, intrigue, and lessons in friendship are part of the narrative. As summer draws to a close, an urgent call sends Kat and Philippe back to Sainte-Mathilde where the family gathers to support each other in an emergency situation.

From the splendor of the lavender season through to the changing landscape of autumn and the festivities of the grape harvest, the Love in Provence characters face challenges, make memories and attempt to maintain their usual joie de vivre!

Review:

It was truly a pleasure to be back traveling alongside Kat and Philippe on their adventures.

Patricia Sands has such a beautiful gift when writing her novels and “Lavender, Loss & Love” is no exception. She has a way of capturing your interest gently at the beginning and then you are left wanting more at the end.

The happenings of the family and friends are ones that will touch your heart and soul. Not to mention the guests at the Villa des Violettes and their stories.

This is the third book in the series and I would recommend reading them all!!!! You do not want to miss out on this awesome author !!!

5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Art of Remembering by Alison Ragsdale

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: July 16, 2019

Summary:

Professional ballerina, Ailsa MacIntyre, is at the peak of her career when her world is shattered by a shocking diagnosis. Life-saving surgery leaves her with a fractured memory, little recollection of her husband, Evan, and none of her career as a principal dancer.

While recuperating at home, Ailsa hears beautiful music coming from the apartment upstairs, and the sound of the grand piano at the hands of a talented new neighbor sparks her muscle memory. As her recovery progresses, the broken pieces of her past gradually re-emerge, a picture not quite as idyllic as Evan would have her remember. Ailsa must navigate the conflicting visions of her past, and potential future, as they collide.

Review:

First let me begin with, that I am so glad that this was our monthly book club pick for January.  I was excited to read this and was not disappointed.

Alison Ragsdale has written a beautiful, poignant novel with “The Art of Remembering”.

I flew through this book and read it in 2 evenings. The flow of the story and the way the book is written had me not wanting to put it down.

Ailsa’s relationship with her husband Evan, both before and after her surgery were complex. It is said that sometimes you have to look at things from an entirely different angle to see it from another perspective.

When re-examining from this new “after surgery” perspective, things were much different and she had to work through things and determine what path was her true destiny. Likewise, she had to re-examine the relationship with friends and family.

This was thought-provoking and I asked myself if I would have chosen familiarity or would I have ventured out into the unknown?

There were parts of the book that made me sad for Ailsa, but there were even more happy moments where I caught myself smiling and overjoyed.

Alison Ragsdale is definitely becoming one of my favorite authors. So far I have read two of her novels, and have added more to my to-be-read list after reading this novel as well as “Tuesday’s Socks” recently.  I highly recommend that you check her books out!!!

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: This Is Not How It Ends by Rochelle B. Weinstein

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date Of Release: January 1st, 2020

Summary:

From USA Today bestselling author Rochelle B. Weinstein comes a moving novel of hearts lost and found, and of one woman torn between two love stories.

When Charlotte and Philip meet, the pair form a deep and instant connection. Soon they’re settled in the Florida Keys with plans to marry. But just as they should be getting closer, Charlotte feels Philip slipping away.

Second-guessing their love is something Charlotte never imagined, but with Philip’s excessive absences, she finds herself yearning for more. When she meets Ben, she ignores the pull, but the supportive single dad is there for her in ways she never knew she desired. Soon Charlotte finds herself torn between the love she thought she wanted and the one she knows she needs.

As a hurricane passes through Islamorada, stunning revelations challenge Charlotte’s loyalties and upend her life. Forced to reexamine the choices she’s made, and has yet to make, Charlotte embarks on an emotional journey of friendship, love, and sacrifice—knowing that forgiveness is a gift, and the best-laid plans can change in a heartbeat.

This Is Not How It Ends is a tender, moving story of heartbreak and healing that asks the question: Which takes more courage—holding on or letting go?

Review:

There’s nothing like reading a book and feeling like I am walking alongside the main character. That is exactly what Rochelle Weinstein brings to life in “This Is Not How It Ends”!!

Every moment in Charley’s life was so beautifully written that I felt truly touched every time she was affected, changed, elated or hurt by anything. My skin would tingle, tears would flow down my cheeks, I’d need to breathe deeply, I’d pet my dogs more! They loved me reading this book! This is how visceral it was! I was there! It was an experience!

I think every woman will find a piece of herself in this story. I was in love with Charley!

The relationship with her Mother touched my soul. The love triangle created was palpable! Intense! Lovely!

Rochelle Weinstein is a truly gifted storyteller. She writes for our hearts, to our hearts!  Oh….Also! You’ll find yourself stopping to write down quotes and take notes….It’s that Awesome!!

5 Stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: The After Wife: A Novel by Melanie Summers

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: January 10, 2020

Summary:

From author Melanie Summers, comes a heartfelt and uplifting tale of love, loss, and letting go…

After losing her husband, writer Abigail Carson has all but given up on life. Having spent the last year cocooned in her Manhattan apartment, Abigail is suddenly forced to find a new home where she can stretch her dwindling savings. Intent on isolation, she moves to a tiny village in Nova Scotia where she’ll have no one to interrupt her solitude.

Little does Abigail realize that small-town life offers far less privacy than the big city. With neighbors knocking on the door bearing homemade treats and invitations, Abby soon finds herself immersed in the lives of the people of South Haven. She forms an unlikely friendship with Liam Wright, the handyman renovating her dilapidated cottage, and his daughter, seven-year-old Olive.

As the dark cloud engulfing Abigail lifts, she begins to believe she may have found love again. But just as Abigail is ready to leap, she discovers Liam carries with him a shocking secret that will ultimately cause everything to unravel. Abigail must decide if she will turn away from his pain or open her heart in the most hopeless of circumstances.

Insightful, enchanting, and filled with hope, The After Wife reminds us of the importance of human connection and the inseparable nature of love and survival.

Review:

Melanie Summers has written a truly endearing novel which is exactly as described, “a heartfelt and uplifting tale of love, loss, and letting go…”

“The After Wife” tells a story that will sit and resonate after you are finished.

Abby’s relationship with Liam throughout the story was touching and emotional yet complicated in so many ways.  My favorite character was Olive, Liam’s daughter. Olive was so honest and memorable. And well of course Walt the cat – he was a fun character in this novel too.

You will laugh, smile and probably shed a tear or two throughout the novel. I know I did.

At the end, I asked myself, would I have made the same decisions that they did or would I have chosen a different path? 

This is my first book by this author but am very glad that I found her!

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

4 Stars.

#BookReview: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: May 14th, 2019

Summary:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Review:

What a fun book to read! 

“The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren was so much fun to read. I haven’t giggled so much while reading a book. EVER!  If you like comedy, you will love this book. It is one laugh after another. 

Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of serious moments. There are also moments that will make you swoon. 

I have not read any other books by Christina Lauren and the next time I need something light and funny, I’ll be looking for one of their books. It was a deliciously fun divergence from my normal choice of books.

5 Stars.

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: Almost Just Friends (Wildstone #4) by Jill Shalvis

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: January 21, 2020

Summary:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Wildstone with the touching story of finding your place in the world—and the people who make it home.

Piper Manning’s about as tough as they come, she’s had to be. She raised her siblings and they’ve thankfully flown the coop. All she has to do is finish fixing up the lake house her grandparents left her, sell it, and then she’s free.

When a massive storm hits, she runs into a tall, dark and brooding stranger, Camden Reid. There’s a spark there, one that shocks her. Surprising her further, her sister and brother return, each of them holding their own secrets. The smart move would be for Piper to ignore them all but Cam unleashes emotions deep inside of her that she can’t deny, making her yearn for something she doesn’t understand. And her siblings…well, they need each other.

Only when the secrets come out, it changes everything Piper thinks she knows about her family, herself…and Cam. Can she find a way to outrun the demons? The answer is closer than she thinks—just as the new life she craves may have already begun.

Review:

I think I discovered a new favorite author! “Almost Just Friends” by Jill Shalvis was the second book by her that I’ve read. She really played with my emotions. I had my heart ripped out, tears running down my face, I laughed out loud and giggled many times and even got angry a few times. When an author can pull that many emotions out of me while reading a book, it becomes one of my favorites and one I won’t forget. 

I was drawn into the story and the character’s lives and could not put the book down. I literally ate, slept and read until I finished the book. The relationship between these characters and how they interacted with each other was most interesting. I really came to care for all of them and will miss them for a while. 

If you love a good story that pulls at your emotions and heartstrings, you will enjoy this book. If you have read anything else by Jill Shalvis, you will probably want to read this one too. For myself, I am going to go back and read the first two books in the series and then look forward to number five. The books in this series seem to be stand alone stories so, don’t be afraid to jump in anywhere. 

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

5 Stars.

 

#BookReview: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

DEB69DAB-BB7E-42F4-812D-9A5EA3D09FD7Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: January 14, 2020

Summary:

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

Review:

Count me a lucky girl! I just finished Diane Chamberlain’s “Big Lies in a Small Town”.

The story follows two women in two different time periods. 

The chapters rotate between the two women. I have always had a problem with this type of book because I always feel like I am shifting gears. I understand why the author chose this format and I have to say it didn’t hamper this novel in my opinion. It was brilliant! 

I learned the difference between an artist and an art restorer. They both take a lot of talent, use different skills and different perspectives. 

It was longer in pages than I expected but, I flew through it and did not want it to end. I felt like it ended rather abruptly but, when I thought about it, I decided it was a perfect ending. I had all the information that I needed and indeed it was the perfect ending. 

This is my first book by Diane Chamberlain and it won’t be my last. I like how she built the stories of both women and how I came to care for them both. 

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

5 stars.

 

#BookReview: The Vanishing (Fogg Lake #1) by Jayne Ann Krentz

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: January 7, 2020

Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz comes a new gripping romantic suspense trilogy fraught with danger and enigma.

Forty years ago in the small town of Fogg Lake, “The Incident” occurred: an explosion in the cave system that released unknown gases, causing peculiar effects on its residents, such as strange visions and ominous voices. Not wanting the government to get involved, they chalked it up to the hallucinogenic effects of mushrooms. Little did they know these effects would linger through the generations….

Residents Catalina Lark and Olivia Dayton have been best friends for years and own an investigation firm together, using what they call the “other sight” to help with their business. When Olivia goes missing, Cat frantically begins the search for her alone when the town does nothing about it. When scientist Slate Trevelyan shows up, she has no choice but to accept his help even though there’s something about him she just can’t trust. The duo discovers someone is hunting the two witnesses of a murder in Fogg Lake fourteen years ago—the very one Cat and Olivia witnessed as teens, one that they couldn’t prove happened. Cat and Slate’s search for Olivia takes them down a rabbit hole that is far more dangerous and mysterious than they ever expected, and with a killer in their midst, neither of them can foresee who will come out alive.

Review:

Wow !!!! You will be saying the same thing after you read this novel!!

Jayne Ann Krentz has me on the edge of my seat from the beginning all the way to the unpredictable ending.

I started this novel tonight and couldn’t put it down. I finished it in less than 3 hours!

Fogg Lake and the mysteries surrounding this town were exhilarating and mystical. The characters were exciting and captivating.

I was truly entranced with “The Vanishing”.

This is a must read, you do not want to miss this one !!! I am anxiously waiting for the next book in this trilogy.

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Tuesday’s Socks by Alison Ragsdale

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: September 3, 2014

Summary:

Founder and sole employee of Mere Accounting, Jeffrey Mere is a solitary man. He has spent his entire life close to home, in the picturesque Scottish town of Pitlochry. After sixty-four years of playing it safe, with retirement looming, Jeffrey resolves to climb Ben Macdhui, Britain’s second highest peak. His decision sets off a chain of events that changes his life forever.

Challenging weather on the mountain, and an encounter with a mysterious stray dog, leave him exhilarated and inspired. When he gets home to share the news of his achievements with his ninety-one year old mother Agnes, who lives in the old-folks home in town, Jeffrey discovers that nothing is as he left it.

When a fire threatens the street where he lives Jeffrey’s selfless act of bravery transforms him from a no-body to a local hero. His renewed confidence nudges him towards Mary Ferguson, Agnes’s favorite nurse at the home, a trip to the ancient streets of Rome and a brush with the Italian underworld. Facing the possibility of losing the only woman he has ever loved, Jeffrey takes a leap of faith towards a future that he could never have imagined for himself.

Review:

Alison Ragsdale has written a charismatic feel-good novel with “Tuesday’s Socks”.

Jeffrey’s transition throughout the novel was relatable and heartwarming. Mary and Agnes and the other characters were just as charming.

I absolutely loved the shaggy dog in the story!!!

This was a truly enchanting novel and I highly recommend you read this or get the Audible version !!!!

I had the pleasure of listening to the Audible version. I absolutely loved the narration and the accents were impeccable which made me feel like I was back in Scotland again. I have visited Scotland twice for holiday and this brought back such great memories!!!!

Don’t Miss this chance to see that you can still have a coming of age story late in life!! This was fabulous!

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: August 28, 2018

Summary:

An accused killer insists she’s innocent of a heinous murder.

A grieving journalist surfaces from the wreckage of her shattered life.

Their unlikely alliance leads to a dangerous cat and mouse game that will leave you breathless.

Who can you trust when you can’t trust yourself?

Trust Me is the chilling standalone novel of psychological suspense and manipulation that award-winning author and renowned investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan was born to write.

Review:

Hank Phillippi Ryan did it again with “Trust Me”! She had me completely spinning, and questioning everything and everyone! It was Fabulous!

Ryan has definitely cornered the market on twists and turns with these court room dramas. She is a genius!

I was so attached to Mercer Hennessey, who was just counting time since losing her husband and young daughter. So, her boss offers her the opportunity to write a true crime novel based on the Ashlyn Bryant Murder case.

This case involves the murder of a baby girl, so it hits a little too close too home for Mercer. Regardless, she still takes the job. You knew this was going to be extraordinary!!

This is a huge case in Boston and everyone is watching! The day the verdict is announced Mercer’s life is in an uproar!! and that is just the beginning….

This is where you truly start to read the book with your Eyes Wide Open!!

I could not believe the trip that Ryan has taken us on! Total Roller Coaster! Belly flipping!

Thinking about what is Trust? What is truth? This novel can leave you and your friends talking for days! Book Club going into overtime! Or your mind racing with thoughts!

Bravo!

Also! This cover! Turn it sideways! Brilliant!

I waited to write this review so it could be my last review of this decade. That is how much I admired this story and Hank Ryan Phillipi’s work! I look forward to more!

5 Stars.