annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, suspense, Thriller

#BookReview: Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: June 9, 2020

Summary:

When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

Review:

“Stranger in the Lake” is another Kimberly Belle triumph! She always gives us stories that we settle into until we’ve finished, because she builds the desire in us to know the ending so desperately…an ending we can’t ever guess, because Kimberly Belle’s mind is one step ahead.
She has the talent of making the reader a character in the story! I felt that close. My toe was dipping in the lake! I was spooked! You will be, too!
I received a copy of the book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, Fiction, Psychological Thriller, suspense, Thriller

#BookReview: Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon ~5⭐️

Date of Release: May 26th, 2020

Summary:

Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.
 

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

Review:

Hannah Mary McKinnon unfolds this story like a rattle snake coming out of hiding, moving ever so slowly with precise execution to strike its victim! In “Sister Dear” the twists were wicked fast and you absolutely do not see them coming! They have bite!
You’ll be scared!! The hair on your arms will stand up! You may even look around your room once or twice! Hannah is phenomenal at rolling out the story!
Between the exceptional writing and the unforgiving storyline, it’s hard to put the book down.
It’s also impossible to decide which Sister you are rooting for!! But, I chose! Will you?
This is a MUST READ if you enjoy thrillers! To not read it, would be a shame!
I was given a copy of the book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

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, book review, Fiction, Psychological Thriller, suspense

#BookReview: Her Daughter’s Motherby Daniela Petrova ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: June 18, 2019

Summary:

She befriended the one woman she was never supposed to meet. Now she’s the key suspect in her disappearance. For fans of The Perfect Mother and The Wife Between Us comes a gripping psychological suspense debut about two strangers, one incredible connection, and the steep price of obsession.

Lana Stone has never considered herself a stalker–until the night she impulsively follows a familiar face through the streets of New York’s Upper West Side. Her target? The “anonymous” egg donor she’d selected through an agency, the one who’s making motherhood possible for her. Hungry to learn more about her, Lana plans only to watch her from a distance. But when circumstances bring them face-to-face, an unexpected friendship is born.

Katya, a student at Columbia, is the yin to Lana’s yang, an impulsive free spirit who lives life at the edge. And for pragmatic Lana, she’s a breath of fresh air and a welcome distraction from her painful breakup with her baby’s father. Then, just as suddenly as Katya entered Lana’s life, she disappears–and Lana might have been the last person to see her before she went missing. Determined to find out what became of the woman to whom she owes so much, Lana digs into Katya’s past, even as the police grow suspicious of her motives. But she’s unprepared for the secrets she unearths, and their power to change everything she thought she knew about those she loves best…

Review:

Super Genius Thriller!!
We all know that being an egg donor or recipient takes a lot of courage, but we didn’t know that it might also require stalking skills!
What a truly riveting and exciting tale Daniela Petrova has pulled together! “Her Daughter’s Mother” is not only unique, it’s fabulous!
You won’t want to put this down once you start, so be prepared! Be careful, you won’t see it coming!
I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, British & Irish Literature, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Sparkpress

#BookReview: The House Children by Heidi Daniele ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: April 9, 2019

Summary:

In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye of Sister Constance. Her only respite is an annual summer holiday with a kind family in Galway.

At the tender age of thirteen, Peg accidentally learns the identity of her birthmother. Peg struggles with feelings of anger and abandonment, while her mother grapples with the shame of having borne a child out of wedlock. The tension between them mounts as Peg, now becoming a young adult, begins to make plans for her future beyond Ireland.

Based on actual events, The House Children is a compelling story of familial love, shameful secrets, and life inside Ireland’s infamous industrial schools.

Review:

Oh! Wow! “The House Children” is based on true stories shared with Heidi Daniele by 5 women raised in St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Ballinasloe, Galway, Ireland, 1940s and 50s. This story holds so much grief and regret, you actually feel the pangs of this absolute disappointment in what happened to the children at this time.
This deeply researched novel is not only absolutely fascinating, you sense Heidi’s sheer and utter passion towards the telling of this story. Reading this you sense this was Heidi’s life’s calling!
This alone makes the book worth the read! Add in all of her writing talents and you have a winning novel!

Be prepared to want to learn more about this story once you’ve finished!

This is a story that needed to be told! Thank you, Heidi Daniele!
I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest 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 review, Fiction, Flatiron Books, Historical Fiction

#BookReview: The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: March 3, 2020

Summary:

In Poland, as World War II rages, a mother hides with her young daughter, a musical prodigy whose slightest sound may cost them their lives.

As Nazi soldiers round up the Jews in their town, Róza and her 5-year-old daughter, Shira, flee, seeking shelter in a neighbor’s barn. Hidden in the hayloft day and night, Shira struggles to stay still and quiet, as music pulses through her and the farmyard outside beckons. To soothe her daughter and pass the time, Róza tells her a story about a girl in an enchanted garden:

The girl is forbidden from making a sound, so the yellow bird sings. He sings whatever the girl composes in her head: high-pitched trills of piccolo; low-throated growls of contrabassoon. Music helps the flowers bloom.

In this make-believe world, Róza can shield Shira from the horrors that surround them. But the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Róza must make an impossible choice: whether to keep Shira by her side or give her the chance to survive apart.

Inspired by the true stories of Jewish children hidden during World War II, Jennifer Rosner’s debut is a breathtaking novel about the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter. Beautiful and riveting, The Yellow Bird Sings is a testament to the triumph of hope―a whispered story, a bird’s song―in even the darkest of times.

Review:

Jennifer Rosner taught me something new about WWII in her novel “The Yellow Bird Sings”! Everyone knows that when I learn new things, I’m standing at attention while reading. But, this book makes you want to snuggle up in a warm blanket…look around your room and appreciate all the luxuries that you have.
Jennifer writes with such exquisite prose and tone, only making the story lift from the pages. I couldn’t imagine all Roza & Shira had to do to remain safe in 1941, Poland, but Jennifer Rosner expresses their life with dignity while still being honest. The birds singing are noe extra sweet!
Jennife Rosner is an author to watch! Whatever she writes will be superb!
I received a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Fiction, Literary Fiction, William Morrow, womans fiction

#BookReview: You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: April 7, 2020

Summary:

The heartbreaking, yet hopeful, story of a mother and daughter struggling to be a family without the one person who holds them together—a perfect summer read for fans of JoJo Moyes and Marisa de los Santos.

Alexis Gold knows how to put the “work” in working mom. It’s the “mom” part that she’s been struggling with lately. Since opening her own advertising agency three years ago, Alexis has all but given up on finding a good work/life balance. Instead, she’s handed over the household reins to her supportive, loving partner, Tommy. While he’s quick to say they divide and conquer, Alexis knows that Tommy does most of the heavy lifting—especially when it comes to their teenage daughter, CeCe. 

Their world changes in an instant when Tommy receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, and Alexis realizes everything she’s worked relentlessly for doesn’t matter without him. So Alexis does what Tommy has done for her almost every day since they were twelve-year-old kids in Destin, Florida—she puts him first. And when the only thing Tommy wants is to spend one last summer together at “their” beach, she puts her career on hold to make it happen…even if it means putting her family within striking distance of Tommy’s ex, an actress CeCe idolizes.

But Alexis and Tommy aren’t the only ones whose lives have been turned inside out. In addition to dealing with the normal ups and downs that come with being a teenager, CeCe is also forced to confront her feelings about Tommy’s illness—and what will happen when the one person who’s always been there for her is gone. When the magic of first love brings a bright spot to her summer, CeCe is determined not to let her mother ruin that for her, too.

As CeCe’s behavior becomes more rebellious, Alexis realizes the only thing harder for her than losing Tommy will be convincing CeCe to give her one more chance.  

You and Me and Us is a beautifully written novel that examines the unexpected ways loss teaches us how to love.

Review:

Tissues! Intensely powerful story about losing your “anchor”! Both Individually and for the family. Alison Hammer draws a beautiful scenario of loss within a family and how it effects them, and how they work through it. This is a lesson on grief! This is a love letter to those left behind, those feeling less whole when they lose someone.

“You and Me and Us” will bring you to tears. It will make you examine parts of your life. It will help you see the beauty left in still learning to really live!

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

5 Stars.

book review, BookSirens, Fiction, womans fiction

#BookReview: Our Garden by Rose Finches ~ 4⭐️

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: October 25, 2019

Summary:

A magical garden . . . four stories are woven into one.

Josie is independent and self-sufficient. She is content with the life she has rebuilt for herself, but her body is saying something else. Her health is troubling her and she has to face her problems as she can’t keep pretending that everything is okay. Will she find the courage to look for answers?

Georgie is an adventurous free spirit and is always on the move. Her van is her home and companion, until she comes into town and finds all her certainties questioned. Will she find a real home?

Alison is controlling and is tired of her golden cage. Her marriage is on the rocks and who she thought she was, is changing. Will she find out who she really is?

Bethanne is warm and kind. Her Tea Shop is becoming a success thanks to her skills as a baker and her welcoming personality. Despite her achievements she still suffers from self-esteem issues. She wants to find love, but doesn’t think she deserves it. Will she be able to let love find her?

The Green Frog Community Garden shows them that a community is built on the magic of coming together.

Review:

This heartfelt novel about the charming “garden” was a powerful novel about many circumstances with family and friends in this small town that led to turmoil as well as some happy endings. The garden was a beautiful place that I could imagine easily with the excellent imagery given.
I was instantly drawn in to this thought provoking novel and read this book in practically one sitting.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through BookSirens in exchange for fair and honest review.

4 Stars.

 

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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