#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.

 

#BookTour, #BookReview & #Giveaway: Lies that Bind by Ashley Farley

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Lies That Bind

(Exclusive Book Tour with @Katerockbooktours)

Author: Ashley Farley

Release Date: January 14, 2020

Leisure Time Books-(Self Published)

Book Tour Dates: January 7 -Jan 30

PreOrder Here:  https://amzn.to/2P02G07

$3.99 pre-order on Kindle

Summary:

About the book:

From the Best Selling Author of Only One Life and Life On Loan comes Lies That Bind.

A suspenseful story of three women who, in search of freedom from the lies that bind them, experience personal growth, discovery, and forgiveness.

Ten years ago, Stuart Carpenter was killed in a single-car accident after retrieving his daughter, Reese, from college. The first responders to the accident saw no evidence of her, and she’s been neither seen nor heard from since. A decade later, Reese’s mother, Eva, struggling to make it through her days, holds out hope her daughter is still alive.

Maggie, on the rebound after the breakup of a long-term relationship, rushes into marriage with a man she knows little about. On the surface Eric is a stable man and a good provider, but when his job takes them from Oregon to Virginia, his dark side begins to show. Eric is ready to start a family. Maggie is more interested in pursuing a career as an investigative journalist. Eric will do whatever it takes to get his way.

On a snowy Sunday in early March, Maggie befriends her across-the-street neighbor, Eva, who confides in Maggie about her missing daughter. The story intrigues Maggie, and she can’t stop thinking about Reese. When Eric’s controlling behavior turns abusive, Maggie uses the investigation of Reese’s disappearance as an opportunity to go undercover.

Maggie travels from Virginia to Ohio to Washington DC, unraveling the secrets of the dysfunctional family that drove a young woman to a desperate act of survival.  

Review:

I’M SO SLEEPY!!

I shut my light off last night with the intention of going to sleep but, sleep wouldn’t come. It was because of Ashley Farley’s new novel “Lies That Bind”. I just had to turn my light back on and finish the book. 

Oh my gosh! She has done it again. Farley has a way with character development that draws you into their story. You have to know what is going on and what happens next. This is the second book I’ve read by her and I experienced the same level of involvement.

I feel like I know these folks.

My heart races as I flip pages, my heart mourns when they suffer loss and my heart jumps for joy when they triumph. You can’t ask for better than that! 

What a fun way to start the new year!

Thank you Ashley Farley for another enjoyable read. 

I recieved a copy of this book from Kate Rock Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

GIVEAWAY: ONE (1) eBook COPY! TO ENTER JUST LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT YOUR INTEREST AND WE WILL DRAW A RANDOM WINNER ON                       FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2020.

To Follow Ashley Farley:

Book trailer: https://ashleyfarley.com/lies-that-bind/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6916019.Ashley_Farley

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ashleyhfarley

Facebook:  https://m.facebook.com/ashleywfarley

Website: www.ASHLEYFARLEY.net

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ashley-farley

@ashleyhfarley @katerockbooktours @katerocklitchick #LiesThatBind #womensfiction #suspense #booktour #southernfiction #leisuretimebooks #bestsellingauthor

#BookReview: Lenses, Lust, and Murder (Crystal Coast Cases #2) by A.M. Ialacci

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Reviewers: Serena Soape & Phyllis Jones Pissanelli

Date of Release: January 6, 2020

Summary:

When Allie Fox became a private investigator, she envisioned herself solving crimes and keeping her hometown of Carteret County a safe place. Instead, to her great regret, she’s found herself trailing cheating husbands and tracking check kiters. All that changes when her autistic brother, Ryan, discovers a body near the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Now, Allie is diving headfirst into the investigation.

Everyone in town loved the victim, or so they’re saying. Yet Allie soon discovers many at the Cape have shocking secrets they would kill to keep hidden. As she closes in on the truth, a frightening attempt is made on her life. Can she unravel the clues to reveal the murderer’s identity before becoming their next victim?

Review by Serena Soape:

A.M. Ialacci has written a captivating mystery that had me wondering all the way to the end – whodunit….. and yes I was totally surprised when I found out who the culprit was!

“Lenses, Lust and Murder” was a well written novel with easy-to-like characters.

The main character, Allie does a phenomenal job working hard to crack the case of the murder at Cape Lookout Lighthouse.

Allies’s brother Ryan was one of my favorite characters. They had a very special relationship that was a key factor in solving the murder.

I have read all of A.M. Ialacci’s books and have enjoyed them all. These are definitely action-packed, unexpected and will keep you turning the pages.

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

4.5 Stars.

Review By Phyllis Jones Pisanelli:

The new book by A.M. Ialacci called “Lenses, Lust and Murder” was an interesting book in a few ways. Her writing flow was easy and something you didn’t have to think about. I learned a little about autism along the way without me realizing it. 

I fell in love with the characters. Allie is the main character with a brother on the autism spectrum and he has a sweet little girlfriend named Frankie. I wanted to be their friend and live in their town.  I think you will love these characters as much as I do. 

The murder story at the center of the book is intriguing. I was drawn in by all the suspects lying and covering up for each other. I just didn’t see how they would ever unravel the lies and find out what really happened. I just had to keep reading to find out how it all worked out. 

I hope there is going to be a sequel to this book because I loved it so much and want too know more about these characters and where life takes them. 

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Westering Women by Sandra Dallas

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: January 7, 2020

Summary:

From the bestselling author of Prayers for Sale, an inspiring celebration of sisterhood on the perilous wagon-trail west

“If you are an adventuresome young woman of high moral character and fine health, are you willing to travel to California in search of a good husband?”

It’s February 1852, and all around Chicago Maggie sees the postings soliciting “eligible women” to travel to the gold mines of Goosetown. A young seamstress with a small daughter and several painful secrets, she has nothing to lose.

So she joins forty-three other women and two pious reverends on the dangerous 2,000-mile journey west. None of them are prepared for the hardships they face on the trek through the high plains, mountains, and deserts. Or for the triumphs of finding strengths they did not know they possessed. And not all will make it.

As Maggie gets to know the other women, she soon discovers that she’s not the only one looking to leave dark secrets behind. And when her past catches up with her, it becomes clear a band of sisters will do whatever it takes to protect one of their own.

Review:

Looking through her list of books, I realised that I have read a few books by Sandra Dallas. They have all stuck out in my mind as very special books. “Westering Women” is another one of those srories. It is at once heartwarming, heartbreaking, encouraging, hopeful and joyful. 

This novel is based on a true story of women that joined a wagon train moving to California to find husbands who may have struck it rich panning for gold. Some of them were carrying secrets and some were just looking for a good man. Their losses were heartbreaking, their triumphs were joyful. They encouraged one another, became family and carried their hope with them. They were strong, walking 2,000 miles to California and doing the work of men when the hired men stoled their provisions and left them in the lurch. These were strong women! 

I loved this book and recommend it for anyone that likes historical fiction. 

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: After the Rain by Stacey Johnston

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release:  April 12, 2018

Summary:

When a child is born they’re a blank canvas. A canvas that is later moulded by the influences of the world around them. Those influences determine that child’s future, but they are not always kind. Some of those children will enter adulthood easily, unscathed by the harshness of life, but for others, that journey is not an easy path to follow.

And then there are those, who’s journey’s are cut short.

He only ever wanted ….. to fit in.
He only ever wanted ….. to be included.
He only ever wanted ….. to have friends.

Alec never wanted for anything.
His parents made sure of that.
But, what Alec desperately wanted, they couldn’t buy.
He just wanted to be normal……..

He could never see what the rest of us could.
Smart. Funny. Goodlooking. Sensitive.
Alec only saw what his mind wanted him to see.
And believed the false truths it told him.

BUT, I won’t allow him to become one of the lost, and when the clouds clear after the rain, I WILL make him see that he is everything WE believe him to be, and so much more……..

Review:

Stacey Johnston’s novel “After the Rain” is such a beautiful book.  It is so wonderfully written it will stay with you long after you are finished reading. 

This book gave me an idea of what an attempted suicide does to a family and the strength it takes for a spouse to deal with the mental illness of their partner. It tells the story from the perspective of both the husband and wife. I admire their love story and their strength to love each other and hold their family together. It is not easy and a lot of couples would simply give up when faced with the struggles they fought against. 

This was a truly inspiring story that I think most people would like and I highly recommend this book. 

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

5 Stars.

 

#BookReview: Beside Herself by Elizabeth LaBan

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: August, 2019

Summary:

Author of THE RESTAURANT CRITIC’S WIFE and NOT PERFECT, Elizabeth LaBan’s BESIDE HERSELF, in which a woman finds out her husband had an affair and he proposes she do the same to even the score and keep the marriage intact–a story about how marriage doesn’t necessarily follow a straight line and unexpected detours might just bring you back to the place you most want to be, to Jodi Warshaw at Lake Union Publishing, by Uwe Stender at TriadaUS Literary Agency (world).

Review:

The novel “Beside Herself” by Elizabeth LaBan is definitely worthy to be your next read!

I really liked this book because I have often wondered what I would do if I found out my husband had an affair. It would definitely be the most devastating experience of my life. I know the heartbreak it has brought to my family and friends and I have wondered if it is enough of a reason to break up a family for a one-time mistake. 

This story explores the heartbreak, anger and thoughts of someone experiencing betrayal of a loved one. This author writes in such a way that you totally understand Hannah and her love for Joel. I loved Hannah and the rest of the characters in this story. I think Elizabeth LaBan did an outstanding job developing her characters. I never once wondered who a character was. They stood out individually in my mind. 

I highly recommend “Beside Herself”. I don’t think you will be disappointed. 

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: December 31st, 2019

Summary:

Set in North Carolina in 1960 and brimming with authenticity and grit, The Moonshiner’s Daughter evokes the singular life of sixteen-year-old Jessie Sasser, a young woman determined to escape her family’s past . . .

Generations of Sassers have made moonshine in the Brushy Mountains of Wilkes County, North Carolina. Their history is recorded in a leather-bound journal that belongs to Jessie Sasser’s daddy, but Jessie wants no part of it. As far as she’s concerned, moonshine caused her mother’s death a dozen years ago.

Her father refuses to speak about her mama, or about the day she died. But Jessie has a gnawing hunger for the truth–one that compels her to seek comfort in food. Yet all her self-destructive behavior seems to do is feed what her school’s gruff but compassionate nurse describes as the “monster” inside Jessie. Resenting her father’s insistence that moonshining runs in her veins, Jessie makes a plan to destroy the stills, using their neighbors as scapegoats. Instead, her scheme escalates an old rivalry and reveals long-held grudges. As she endeavors to right wrongs old and new, Jessie’s loyalties will bring her to unexpected revelations about her family, her strengths–and a legacy that may provide her with the answers she has been longing for.

Review:

“The Moonshiner’s Daughter” by Donna Everhart was a fabulous novel! When I started this book, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it and then about 10% into it,I couldn’t put it down. It grabbed me and sucked me right into that rollercoaster of a story. Oh my goodness you just have to go along for the ride. 

I wanted to hug Jessie Sasser. She was a girl who thought she knew what she stood for and fought for her convictions with all of her might. I was right there rooting for her through the whole story. I loved the school nurse Mrs. Brewer. It felt like she was the only one that took an interest in Jessie a majority of the time. 

Have you ever put a book down because you thought you knew how it was going to end and you didn’t want to see it end that way? I did with this book. About an hour later, I couldn’t stand it any longer and I had to know how it all wound up. I don’t want to give away the ending but, it was a perfect ending to the story. 

This book was so different than what I expected and I highly recommend it!

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

5 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.