#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: 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.

#BookReview: Layover by David Bell

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Reviewer:  Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: July 2nd, 2019

Summary:

In this high concept psychological suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Somebody’s Daughter, a chance meeting with a woman in an airport sends a man on a
pulse-pounding quest for the truth…

Joshua Fields takes the same flights every week for work. His life is a series of departures and arrivals, hotels and airports. During yet another layover, Joshua meets Morgan, a beautiful stranger with whom he feels an immediate connection. When it’s time for their flights, Morgan gets up to leave, leans over and passionately kisses Joshua, lamenting that they’ll never see each other again.

As Morgan slips away, Joshua is left feeling confused by what just happened between them. That’s when he looks up and is shocked to see Morgan’s face flashing on a nearby TV screen. He’s even more shocked when he learns the reason why–Morgan is a missing person.

What follows is a whirlwind, fast-paced journey filled with lies, deceit, and secrets to discover the truth about why Morgan is on the run. But when he finally thinks every mystery is solved, another rears its head, and Joshua’s worst enemy may be his own assumptions about those around him…

Review:

David Bell takes a chance meeting during a layover at the Atlanta Airport in his newest novel “Layover” and turns it into an epic cat-and-mouse game that has you on the edge of your seat. You feel as though you’ve just jumped off the bungee rope into the abyss named Morgan Reynolds.

Be prepared to not put this book down, because I was unable to. You will need to know the outcome! It it truly riveting, mind blowing, and exhilarating.

David Bell truly is a master at building suspense and keeping you there!

It’s unimaginable how fast you can read this book….I believe it’s because you get a bit frenzied…Like the characters maybe? In an amazing way of course, because he draws you into his story that much!!!

Maybe he realizes his readers are yet another character!?!?

I’ve decided to make this the last book of my Decade….And, leave on an absolute High Note!

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.

 

#BookReviews & #HolidayReads: A Season for Hope & The Magic of the Season (Christmas in Silver Falls #2) by Tammy L. Grace

E77591AD-7280-43CD-903F-1EE45682F47AReviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

A Season For Hope Date of Release: October 26, 2018

Summary:

From the award-winning author of the Hometown Harborseries, comes a heart-warming and inspirational story for the holidays readers describe as the perfect Christmas story.

When their car breaks down, Hope and her young son, Jake, are stranded in Silver Falls as the holidays approach. A woman who runs a guesthouse offers them a place to stay while the car is repaired.

Frightened and broke, Hope finds a part-time job, thanks to the family who owns the guesthouse. Hidden beneath her strong work ethic and cheerful demeanor, Hope conceals a private mystery. A secret she can’t reveal.

As the Christmas season nears, the small town nestled beneath the snowy mountains and its annual holiday festival captivate Hope, while the family at the guesthouse suspects there’s something she’s hiding. In a moment of weakness, she divulges her secret.

Will an offer of help destroy her life and all she cherishes, or will it be the gift she needs to triumph over her past?

A Season for Hope is a charming story about the kindness of strangers and finding hope where you never expected it. Cozy up with the first in the Christmas in Silver Falls novellas for a holiday read sure to warm your heart.

Review:

”A Season For Hope” By Tammy L. Grace truly is one of my favorite Christmas Tales; alongside her next story. She brings you to a place you want to call home, to people you want to meet because of their genuine kindness. You will definitely want to move there…I absolutely loved Silver Falls. I know this is a book I can cuddle up with again year after year under the Christmas Tree, knowing I will be taken away to a place of joy and comfort!

The Magic of the Season

Release Date: October 24, 2019

Summary:

Will a city girl forced to spend the holidays in her small hometown recapture the magic of the season?

Madison hasn’t visited Silver Falls since she left the snowy mountain winters behind for the beaches of California twenty years ago. In the midst of the annual Christmas festival, an accident forces her to return and manage her mom’s candy business at the Sugar Shop.

Grant hasn’t seen her since she left for college, but remembers spending summers at the lake with the skinny, plain girl he and everyone used to know as Sugar. The contemporary advertising executive he encounters now is anything but plain.

Will Grant’s kindness, the charm of Silver Falls, and the caring community open Sugar’s heart to all she’s been missing?

The best-selling author of A Season for Hope, the tale readers describe as the perfect Christmas story, delivers a touching sequel with the second in her Christmas in Silver Falls series in this new festive novella that pairs perfectly with a cup of cocoa in front of a blazing fire.

Review:

Absolutely love these types of Christmas Stories where the City Mouse lands back home in her old hometown after becoming all prettied up! Tammy L. Grace had me at Hello with “The Magic of The Season”! Full of  joy, love, smiles, happiness and all that makes Christmas Bright! This is absolutely one of my favorite Holiday Reads this year!!

Both Receive 5 Stars.

 

#BookReview & #HolidayReads: A Lowcountry Christmas (Lowcountry Summer #5) by Mary Alice Monroe

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: October 25, 2016

Summary:

A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas in this timeless story of family bonds.

As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family strains darken the holidays.

Then Taylor’s service dog arrives—a large black Labrador/Great Dane named Thor. His

brother even got the dog! When Miller goes out on Christmas Eve with his father’s axe, determined to get his family the tree they can’t afford, he takes the dog for company—but accidentally winds up lost in the wild forest. The splintered family must come together to rediscover their strengths, family bond, and the true meaning of Christmas.

Review:

The novel by Mary Alice Monroe, “A Lowcountry Christmas”, is the 5th installment of her Lowcountry series. It is a wonderful addition to the series and is a story about the true meaning of Christmas and the importance of family and close friends. 

In the past, I have enjoyed her story lines and characters and when I pick up one of her books I know I am in for a treat. This book was not an exception. There were many times I wanted to be able to hug the characters because most of them were struggling with a difficult time in their lives. 

Miller was the youngest child of Jenny and Alistair. I felt so sorry for him as he struggled to come to terms with his parents not being able to afford a puppy that he fell in love with.  Who doesn’t want a young boy to have a treasured pup? 

Christmas is a time for family, friends and reading! Get a copy of this book and add a little more warmth to your holiday. Merry Christmas! 

4 Stars.

 

#BookReview: Next Day Gone by J.C. Wing

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date Of Release: December 17, 2019

Summary:

In the fall of 1998, four girls disappeared in Redwood, a small town just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. All of them were young. All of them were beautiful. None of them were found alive. Drew’s mother, Willow, was one of those girls.

Sixteen years later, Paige, Drew’s girlfriend, disappears from school. When she’s found dead, the details of her murder are eerily similar to his mother’s. Residents fear the return of the Sleeping Beauty Strangler, and Drew’s family is thrown back into the spotlight.

Things are a bit different this time around because Drew has seen the killer.

What’s worse is the killer knows it.

Can he untangle the details of both murders while under the watchful gaze of the killer? Can he keep his loved ones safe, or will he die before bringing the murderer to justice?

Review:

J.C. Wing has written a suspenseful, “never would have guessed it”, novel with “Next Day Gone”.

This page turner was gripping and spine tingling.

I was totally hooked from the first chapter.

There were definitely some emotional heart-breaking moments in this novel.

At the conclusion, I was truly in awe.

This was my first book by J.C. Wing but I will definitely be looking into other books.

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

4.5 Stars.

#BookReview: Not So Merry Murder by Amabel Daniels

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: December 10, 2019

Summary:

All I want for Christmas is…

Well, it certainly isn’t finding Mrs. Claus shot dead in the photo hut at Franklin’s Ma
Marlena Ridge was a nasty woman, a bitter boss, and a scornful manager at our seasonal booth for all kinds of kids to sit on Santa’s lap for an overpriced picture. But I’ve never wished her dead. Someone did, though, because there’s no mistaking the fatal wound in her gaudy, velvet holiday getup.

What’s worse is the infuriating, sexy cop in charge of the investigation, Knox James, seems to think I might know something about her murder. Or perhaps, that I could have been the one to pull the trigger.

Review:

Amabel Daniel’s “Not So Merry Murder” was a fun to read Christmas Novella.

With entertaining characters, some mystery and humor too; this was a book that held my interest throughout.

Jade was just doing her job but who knew what she was going to find Mrs. Claus dead in the photo hut?

If you are looking for a Christmas novella that is sure to keep you reading, this is the book for you.

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

3.75 Stars.

#BookReview: All the Silent Voices by Elena Mikalsen

perf5.000x8.000.inddReviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: January 6, 2020

Live interview with Annie: January 7, 2020

Summary:

Twenty-one years ago, Emma Shephard was sexually assaulted and forced to leave college. She has tried to forget the trauma, building a new life as a loving wife and parent with a successful marketing career. Then her world is rocked when her rapist buys the pharmaceutical company where she works.

Now it’s an impossible choice between keeping the safe life she’s created and pursuing justice. With her marriage at risk and her child in danger, Emma finds herself at the center of ugly secrets and scandals.

Review:

Elena Mikalsen has written an action packed thriller with “All The Silent Voices”.

Emma was placed in many difficult situations, which led to complicated decisions that she had to make all through the novel. Aidan her husband and Sophie her daughter played an instrumental role in these decisions. Richard was that thorn in her side that never seemed to go away after he hurt her traumatically so many years ago.

It was hard to put this gripping action-packed book down once I started it.

I loved all of the twists and turns and was surprised more than once during the book.

I would absolutely recommend you buy this book and finding out for yourself what decisions Emma is faced with and how she deals with these life-altering choices.

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

4.5 Stars.