annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Friendship Fiction, Graydon House

#BookReview: The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: April 28th, 2020

Summary:

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.

When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family–a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability–Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbor’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.

With delightful illustrations and fascinating detail, Viola Shipman’s heartwarming story will charm readers while resonating with issues that are so relevant today.

Review:

Once again, Viola Shipman wraps us up in a beautiful story about the capacity of the human heart and the power in its bonds.
“The Heirloom Garden” brings together two women suffering a loss of one kind from two different wars, decades apart. The very fabric of this friendship is described by way of gorgeous flowers found in a most beautiful garden. I can still envision it clearly!
You will think of spring and all it’s powers in renewal!
You will think of your friends and reflect on their place in your life. Viola Shipman always opens your heart with each story. He always teaches a lesson. Stories that make you consider your life are amazing! I want to be a better person because of this story.
I fell madly in love with Iris! And I loved her relationship with her neighbor, Abby.
I’ve always loved Viola Shipman’s novels, but this is by far my favorite now!
Now! If only I had a green thumb!
I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and hones review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, Ballantine Books, book review, Fiction, Friendship Fiction, Historical Fiction, the write review

#BookReview: Lilac Girls(Lilac Girls #1)by Martha Hall Kelly ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: April 5, 2016

Summary:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Review:

This is historical fiction at its best! I was totally enamored with everything, I had to know more, to see which parts were true. I love flying down that research hole!
Martha Hall Kelly’s pen was meant to write this story! She was so invested, you could feel her love for her characters. I had the sense that special care went into each detail.
This is a Series to get lost in.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, Book Release, Fiction, Friendship Fiction, womans fiction

#New Re-Release & Book Review – The Bridge Club by Patricia Sands ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: December 7th, 2020

Summary:

A re-release with added content to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Bridge Club!

• 2010 Foreword Reviews Book Of The Year (General Fiction)
• 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (First Novel)
• 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards – Womens Fiction

2010 ~ What starts as a monthly card game, turns into forty years that span a woman’s journey from youthful optimism to the challenges and opportunities presented as the years pass. The complexities of women’s friendships are played out through a maze of inevitable scenarios. Laughter and tears lead to a crisis that challenges principles and proves the power of friendship.

2020 ~ The Bridge Club Tenth Anniversary edition has not changed the main story but now the original Epilogue is built into the final chapter. A new Epilogue brings the women together ten years later to celebrate their 75th birthdays and reflect on how the decision at the end of the original story impacted the next decade.

The Bridge Club is a story for anyone who cares about friendship. Not simply the “Hi, how are you?” type, but the kind that weathers all storms, unselfishly celebrates triumphs, and hums along year after year with never an unkind word. It does exist.

If you already share a friendship like this, you will relate to the women of The Bridge Club. If you don’t, perhaps the story will inspire you to find it.

Review:

The “Bridge Club 10 year Anniversary” is a love letter to the strength & loving bonds of friendship! Dives deep into all of the facets of friendship and their other relationships! 

Once again, Patricia Sands had given us characters that we never want to say goodbye to, so it was wonderful picking up where we left off! Catching up was so satisfying, I found myself fully invested again!

When I closed the book, I wished I’d had my own Bridge Club! These Bridge Games breed loving and supportive friendship!

Patricia Sands proves she is a leader in female friendship storytelling.

– Best Cover 2020.

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

5 Stars.

About Author:


Bestselling author Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else, and calls the south of France her second home. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France. With a focus on travel, women’s issues and aging, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship.

Her award-winning 2010 debut novel, The Bridge Club, is a book-group favorite, and The Promise of Provence, which launched her three-part Love in Provence series (followed by Promises to Keep and I Promise You This), was a finalist for a 2013 USA Best Book Award and a 2014 National Indie Excellence Award, an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013, and a 2015 nominee for a #RBRT Golden Rose award in the category of romance. Her fifth novel, Drawing Lessons, was released by Lake Union Publishing on October 1, 2017.
Lavender, Loss & Love, ~A Season of Surprises ~and The First Noel make up the the Villa de Violettes series, based on the Love in Provence characters.
The Bridge Club ~ Tenth Anniversary edition ~ is her latest release.

Sands also contributes to such Francophile websites as The Good Life France and Perfectly Provence and loves to visit Book Clubs either live or on ZOOM! Info on her website.

Find out more at Patricia’s Facebook Author Page, Amazon Author Page or her website. There are links to her books, social media, and a monthly newsletter that has special giveaways, photography from France, and sneak peeks at her next book. She loves hearing from readers.

Patricia has led six 10-day tours of the French Riviera and the countryside of Provence. She will be co-hosting another ‘Sold Out’ women’s tour of Provence in September 2021 with her good friend Deborah Bine aka The Barefoot Blogger.

Find out more at Patricia’s Facebook Author Page, Amazon Author Page, Goodreads or her blog where you will find links to her books, social media, and monthly newsletter. She loves hearing from readers, so don’t hesitate to email her.

Follow her on Instagram @patricialsands

Patricia is represented by Pamela Harty of The Knight Agency.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, Author interview, book review, Fiction, Friendship Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Southern Fiction, womans fiction

#BookReview & #AuthorInterview: Little Tea by Claire Fullerton ~ 5⭐️

43D35A14-A0F5-4CB5-8E15-74C27DA1D80EReviewer: Annie McDonnell

Date of Release: April 28th, 2020

Summary:

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy
One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.
For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.
As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if her friendship with Little Tea can triumph over history.

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Review:

I’ve just discovered a rare gem!

Beloved author, Pat Conroy left behind a legacy that weaves it’s way through so much of southern fiction, but I trust he stopped by Claire Fullerton’s pen and whispered some of his wisdom! The proof is in her novel “Little Tea”!

She has that same knack of real-life, honest storytelling wrapped in beautifully eloquent prose.  Every word being composed so harmoniously with the next.

So refreshing!

Speaking of racism and social issues with both gentle heart and pulsating tension.

Love and relationships are lovely, exuberant, determined and even heartbreaking. When everything is cracking open like a broken glass on the hot Memphis asphalt, the sun is still shining through it.

Claire Fullerton speaks of the South and being a Southerner as a status only a few can attain. Almost a deserving right! The highest of honors! I love that she reveres the South so deeply and sincerely. She writes about the South with such love, you can sense her devotion! She elevates the Southern voice!! Claire is a true gift to both Southern and Literary Fiction!

I was completely enamored and enraptured with this story and each of characters. I even found myself beginning to put the book down one night, only to chose not to because I was just too captivated with even the places and more!! I just couldn’t sleep!

That same night, I found I was reading the last sentence, and I knew without a doubt I had been introduced to one of the most talented writers of our time!

In closing, I look forward to reading Claire Fullerton’s Collection! Time to order every single book!

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

5 Stars.

Look, I GOT THEM!! I am all set now!

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Author Bio:

Claire Fullerton is the author of Little Tea, which is set in the Deep South and concerns female friendship, Southern culture, healing the past and the changing times of the racial divide. Little Tea is a Faulkner Society finalist and the August 2020 book club selection of the Pulpwood Queens book club. Her novel, Mourning Dove, is a 9-time award winner set on the genteel side of 1970’s Memphis, Claire’s novel, Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite award winner is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Claire contributed to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral. She writes of the Deep South, the family dynamic, and the hidden emotions that motivate a character. She hails from Memphis, and lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. Claire is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary Agency. https://www.clairefullerton.com

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Book Release, book review, Fiction, Friendship Fiction, Magical Realism, Uncategorized, womans fiction

#BookReview: The Weight of the Heart by Susana Aikin (Goodreads Author)

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: March 26, 2020

Summary:

Set in contemporary Spain, Susana Aikin’s latest novel is a colorful, beautifully written examination of memory, romance, and the intricacies of family duty.

On a sweltering August day in Madrid, Anna, Julia, and Marion return to their childhood home. The once grand mansion, furnished with exotic objects and art that reflected the cultures of their English father and Spanish mother, once bustled with visitors. But since their father’s death, all three sisters have been reluctant to go back, still feeling the weight of his domineering influence. Julia believes that before the house can sell, it needs to be cleared of negative energy, and she has planned a limpieza, or cleaning ritual.

Marion, the oldest, fears what the ceremony might unleash. Anna, the youngest and most capable and ambitious of the trio, is skeptical of the Cuban santera hired by Julia. Still, she is wary of antagonizing her siblings, or of stirring up old resentment.

But as the ceremony progresses, guilt and recrimination become impossible to ignore. And if there’s a chance of bringing their house and their lives out of the shadows, it rests in the sisterhood, strength, and indomitable love that remains when the ghosts of the past surrender at last.

Review:

An intriguing novel about complicated family relationships and how they dealt with so many unexpected situations is what Susana Ailkin has given us. She provides many situations that are thought-provoking to the point you want to hug the sisters.

The characters were well developed and the three sisters Anna, Julia and Marion were well developed. Delia and Constantine were very memorable with their “limpieza” of the house.

“The Weight of The Heart” is an emotional and intense story with many complex situations throughout that kept me turning the pages.

 

I finished this tale of sisterhood in one evening.

 

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

4 Stars.