Jane Green delivers a message of hope with “Summer Secrets”

Jane GreenJane Green will never let me down.  Ever!

This review is difficult for me to write, because it was such a fabulous story.  I feel that most of us could relate to at least some of this story.  We are taken from England to Nantucket and back.  Both places are so magical to me, so that made it extra “delicious” for me to read.   Jane Green loves that word, Delicious!

We meet Cat, who will quickly grab hold of a special place in your heart.   Not because she is perfect, but because she is likable even though she isn’t.  But, who is perfect?

Cat is an alcoholic in serious denial, even stating that a “party didn’t get started” until she showed up.  She is very content with her drinking; believing that she really does not have a problem.  Until she meets Jason and thinks she can easily stop drinking to be with him.  Let’s just say it was not easy.  Her addiction was a lot harder to beat than she could have imagined, and watching the wake she left in her path was so devastating.

“Summer Secrets” was a great name for this book, because it was one secret after the next.  I found myself gasping often while reading this story, literally loving the twists and turns that this story took.  Jane Green is wonderful at weaving a story together, through many years and many secrets.

Cat’s addiction took away so many years of her life.  Watching it unfold almost makes you want to cry for her.  This is a remarkable story of redemption, family and love.

How far Cat falls before realizing she needs help, is terribly sad.

Jane Green delivers a wonderful message of hope.

5 Delicious Stars.

June’s Book Club Read ~ “Shelter Us” by Laura Nicole Diamond is Touchingly Brilliant!!

Shelter Us

“Shelter Us” by Laura Nicole Diamond

Touchingly Brilliant!!  I absolutely devoured this book!!  You know that means it is amazing!

No review I could write would do this story justice.  Few stories touch me in this way.  So, I will do the best I can….

Laura Nicole Diamond writes a truly evocative story.  Her words are so brilliantly weaved together, making this a gift for me to read.  I was enamored by each sentence.  Some people are meant to write, and Laura Nicole Diamond is definitely one of those writers.

“Shelter Us” is a story that will stay with you.  There are some things you will never look at the same, and things you will think about that may have once seemed “invisible”.

I felt such empathy for Sarah, because her daughter, Ella had passed away after only being alive for a mere six weeks.  Ella was found in her crib asphyxiated by her sheet, and Sarah believes she is to blame and cannot forgive herself.  Ella has been dead for three years, and the grief is still so strong that it is literally taking all of the joy out of Sarah’s life.  Sarah feels that her husband, Robert is getting along just fine.  He goes to work, takes care of the family, and he is an amazing father to their sons Oliver and Izzy.  Sarah is barely getting by and cannot fathom how Robert is managing so well.

I respected how both Sarah and Robert would both drop everything for their children.  Even if they were in the middle of a crisis, the boys came first.  They made sure that they did not need for anything. Maybe they were trying to make peace with losing Ella, by being “perfectly present parents” to Oliver and Izzy.  They had a lot of making up to do.

Sarah is barely getting through each day and beyond distraught about so many things.  Her marriage is crumbling without either noticing. An odd silence is building between them and it is certainly waning on their marriage.  Their relationship seems to be running on autopilot, and a lot of things go awry.  Secrets are kept, feelings are not discussed, and they are both dissolving.

She just tries to push through each step of her day, finally to go to bed thinking that “We have made it through another day”.  I must admit that I was exhausted just reading about how difficult simple everyday tasks were for her, I often felt like she was trying to get out of quicksand.

You know a story is good when you want to jump in and help save a character, or become their friend.  I felt awful when Sarah was able to get some time to herself and her first thought is, “I’ll finally get a break from holding my pieces together”.  She needed something.  Unsure of what that something was.

Then, one day she is driving downtown when she passes by a young woman named Josie with a child in a stroller, apparently homeless.  Sarah pulled over to give her Oliver’s lunch box filled with his meal for school.  Sarah was so drawn to help this girl and her child.  Will saving this homeless girl somehow fix the hole in her heart?  Or, would this whole thing be a bad idea? Who would be saving who, if she did help?  Who is the person that needs shelter?  Is it anyone in particular, or everyone?

Anyone that reads my reviews knows that I do not like to give the story away…so, I will stop here, so that you can truly enjoy each turn of the page of this wonderfully crafted story.

5 Stars.

Anyone that likes a book with a dog in the storyline, this is your book!!

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Catherine Ryan Hyde delivers a beautiful story, revolving around a man named Jody and a woman named Virginia that could have been his Step-Mother.  Ok, maybe it revolves around the dog named Worthy that Jody found that actually belongs to Virginia.  Either way you look at it, this story revolves around a shared loss and unimaginable grief and pain.

The tragedy at the beginning of this story will tug at your heartstrings, because Jody (nicknamed Buddy) loses his father and dog, due to a very dumb err in judgement on the behalf of two mischievous teenagers.  This was where the story ended for me.  The rest of it was very status quo.

I was not completely taken away, as I saw this as an easy story to figure out.  I was never shocked by anything.  It was not an easy book to finish due to my lack of interest.

I know that anyone that likes a book with a dog in the storyline, this is your book!

Barkley’s Great Escape is joyful lesson!! An Awesome Children’s Book!!

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Wanda Wyont is a genius!   Not only is her story a wonderfully delightful children’s storybook, but it has lessons to be learned, and even questions to go over when the story ends.  I think that Barkley may have more lessons coming…..but, only Wanda Wyont will know that!

Barkley is a dog that escapes his back yard and takes a short visit around his neighborhood.  It made me think of my dog, when he does something similar….During Barkley’s travels he goes in to a backyard of someone that has a pool, and he jumps in and needs help to get out.

This story is too cute, and has a huge lesson for children and parents regarding water safety.   I think that this story was genius because of the lesson, and this is a great time of year to grab it.  I see teachers wanting to read this story in class…I see parents wanting to get this for their children that love animals and pets.

The Illustrations are just as wonderful.  I totally see myself reading this to my young nieces and godson!  I also know they will want more from Barkley!

I highly recommend this children’s book!!  What is better than a great story with a water safety lesson as well!

5 Stars.

May Book Club Choice “Memory House” by Bette Lee Crosby

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Memory House by Bette Lee Crosby

What an enchanting story!  Bette Lee Crosby created a truly engaging storyline, with Ophelia and Annie!   Just what I adore, another wonderful writer to follow!  It is truly a gift when I find a writer that inspires me to read more of their books.

I hope to read all of her books and from what I read at the end of this story, there are a lot of “spin-offs” …so the story lives on!  I was so grateful, as I was not ready for the story to end.  Brilliant ending, by the way!

“Memory House” is the tale of two charming characters.  Annie has been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Michael for 7 years, but it suddenly comes to an end.  Once he moves out, she decides to hop in her car and leave Pennsylvania behind for a little while, in an attempt to outrun the memory of Michael.  She stops her car in front of a Bed & Breakfast (B&B) called “Memory House” just outside of Richmond, Va.  Upon entering the B&B she meets its owner, Ophelia….who is a character I will never forget, and I look forward to reading more about her. They were both so lucky to have met each other.  Those types of relationships are both powerful and beautiful. Ophelia had one love in her life, named Edward…they were together for a decade and it has been 60 years since they have been together.

Ophelia can feel the memories when she holds particular items.  With Ophelia coming up on her 90th birthday, she wants to find someone to share her talents with.  So these memories can live on!

Will Annie be this person?  Will she have the gift to recall the memories held in particular items?  Reading about all of this is fascinating.  Ophelia had a beautiful garden and apothecary that she ran out of her home.  The apothecary was full of herbs, roots and potions.  She grew up in the mountains of West Virginia where people believed these plants had healing powers.  It was not far-fetched for me, as I believe in a lot of this also….to anyone that does not believe in it, the more enchanting you will find this story to be.  Each visitor to the Apothecary was a little humorous.

As stated in the book, “Before you find the magic of life, you have to open yourself up to the possibility of it being there.”

That is the true essence of this story.  It is a truly delightful read!  I am HOOKED!

Already bought more books in this series….I am anxious to read more Bette Lee Crosby Stories!

5 Stars.

Sonoma Wine Country ~ 2nd Stop in Booksparks PR Summer Reading Challenge “Eight Hundred Grapes” #SRC2015

800 grapes for my blog

Laura Dave wrote a fabulous story, it was like a lyrical dance between life and the making of a bottle of wine.  It was very intriguing.  She is a very gift writer.

We are introduced to Georgia Ford, a Real Estate Lawyer in Southern California that ran back home to Sonoma County when she finds her fiancé in a lie….one that could ruin their wedding that is taking place in eight days.  Sonoma County is where her parents own a vineyard/winery, called “Last Straw Vineyard”.  Nothing written in this book was by chance; it was like poetry how perfect everything flowed.

Georgia runs back home, right to her brother’s bar, “Brother’s Tavern”.  Her brothers Bobby and Finn own the bar, and she stands out like a sore thumb.  She has a great relationship with her Brothers, and they will stand by her no matter what.

She then returns to her family home on the Vineyard only to find out that her parents have a secret, too.  All of this is too much for her, and she just wants to fix everything.

There is a quote in the book, which truly sums up the entire story….“Because that’s what we do for the people we love.  We don’t sit around watching while they make mistakes.  We at least try to stop them from doing things we know they will regret”.

I absolutely adored this story, reading it was quite intoxicating….and I have to say that I would have loved to try a glass of B-Minor, that the Ford’s make on “Last Straw Vineyard”.

This is a must read, just in time for the lovely weather.

5 Stars.

New York ~ 1st Stop in Booksparks PR Summer Reading Challenge, “The Balance Project”! #SRC2015

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Susie Orman Schall writes a provocative novel based on a study she performed, called “The Balance Project”.  This is a great read for woman who are trying to juggle it all, from children, to being a wife, and working….all while keeping it in balance.

Make no mistake that this book is a clear look at what can go awry when you have too many balls in the air.  I found it to be a fun read, reminiscent of the beloved book “The Devil Wears Prada”.

The main characters are Katherine and Lucy.  Katherine is an accomplished business woman, wife, mother, and even author.  How she did all of this was unbelievable!  Yet, when you have as wonderful an Assistant as Lucy, things tend to flow much easier for someone like Katherine.  I really related to Lucy, as I was an Assistant to the owner of a company for many years; and I believe that Lucy was an asset that Katherine could not lose.  Assistants are often taken for granted…the question is…Will Lucy have the same fate?

While I was not “taken away” by this story, I believe it will appeal to a large fan base.  Not being a Mom, or juggling all of the things the main character had to…I felt a bit of a distance.

Perfect timing for this book!

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This is a great time for everyone to read this book! With Cop shootings are all over the news; this is the perfect time for Sarah Pekkanen to tell this story.  It will open your heart to each side of the events.  I highly recommend this book!

I was amazed at how easily she would add circumstances to the story, yet never leave the heart of the storyline.

At the heart of this story is the marriage between Jamie and Mike Anderson.  They seem to be drifting apart, and Jamie is not sure why.  But, she does not say anything.  That part drove me mad, as I am not able to keep my feelings in.

Mike is a Police Officer and one day his partner was shot in the line of duty, and Mike is left a mess because of it.  This only makes Jamie and Mike’s communication struggle more.  And, if you think that is enough to make a story…it is…but, Sarah Pekkanen has much more to tell!  I don’t like to give out much information on a story, but I will say that this book will keep you thinking about how you may deal with any of these situations.

3 Stars

“The Summer’s End” by Mary Alice Monroe–This story came alive!!

I was given a copy of this book for a fair review by Netgalley.

Mary Alice Monroe not only tells a marvelous tale, but she uses the English language like no one I have read in a long time.  She describes everything in such a way that you feel like you are actually there, experiencing the sights, sounds and conversations, first hand.  Her words weave magically to take you away to Sullivan’s Island, SC where three sisters spend a summer with their Mamaw, Marietta.

Whenever I went to put the book down, I would get caught up in a new paragraph; it was very hard to put down.  Only sleep or chores stopped me until I was finished.

Harper, Carson and Dora, all come to their Mamaw’s home named “Sea Breeze”.  They will learn the importance of family and that making memories is the greatest gift in this life.

I believe there is something in this book for everyone.  Mary Alice Monroe writes of love, both familial and romantic.  Dora is going through a divorce and her son Nate, is a child with special needs.  Carson is pregnant, and trying to figure things out on her own, without Blake the father of her child…at the moment.  Carson also has a connection with an injured Dolphin, named Delphie.  Harper is a writer, and she meets a man named Taylor suffering with a diagnosis he does not want to reveal too hastily.

“Sea Breeze” is where it all happens.  Her book comes alive in your mind so vividly, that you will definitely feel like I took a little vacation.  Gosh, I just love books that do that!  Take a Weekend Getaway with “The Summers End”.  I plan to do that with another one of her stories.

Now, I need to go and add her to my list of “Must Read Authors”.  I suggest you do the same.