#BookReview: Words for Anna: A Second Chance at First Love by Lara Russell

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: November 11, 2018

Summary:

In that moment, I understood why I had not been able to give up on finding her. We were not two people who travelled the world aimlessly, and we hadn’t been the whole time since we first said goodbye, when we left our birth country empty-handedly. We were a single entity, torn apart, little by little.

Set in Australia, England and South Africa in the early 2000s, Words for Anna is the heart-warming story of first love. Twelve years earlier, Anna and Daniel faced the cruelty of being forced apart as a result of one senseless letter. What happens when they are reunited and given a second chance at love?

Striving to establish a new identity, working in the Australian wine industry, Anna has had no choice but to create the best life she can for herself and her son, Mattie, in Sydney, Australia.

Meanwhile, Daniel, who has been pushing his father’s corporate agenda in the UK for years, as a means to an end, hopes that he may someday see Anna, his lost love, again.

But when they find each other in a chance meeting in Sydney, they are compelled to revisit the past. Forced to work together every day, the secrets Anna has kept for so long are gradually revealed. This, together with the separation they endured and the strange situation they now find themselves in, raises the question – Do they have any chance of rekindling their love?

Words for Anna is a moving novel about hope, resilience and rediscovery.

Review:

Lara Russell has written a captivating romance with “Words for Anna”.

Anna and Daniel’s relationship was powerful yet complex.

It was an entertaining sequence of events in this novel bringing it full circle.

I enjoyed this novel and would definitely recommend this book.

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

4 Stars.

 

#BookReview: I Said Yes by Kiersten Modglin

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: February 18, 2020

Summary:

Yes. The word that brought me such great joy and, eventually, such heartbreak.

When Mark asked me out for the first time, I didn’t have to think twice.
I said, “Yes.”

When he asked me to marry him just a year later, the answer came as easily as the breath that followed it.
“Yes.”

When he asked me to keep his secret, my response came too quickly.
“Yes.”

Now, in front of a judge and jury, I’ll be asked the question I never anticipated.
“Did you know who the killer is?”

The answer is second nature by now.
“Yes.”

Review:

Kiersten Modglin is well known for twists and “what just happened?” And “no way”……

“I Said Yes” is another prime example of a suspenseful page turning novel!

Early on, I thought I had it all figured out. OK – well sort of figured out, but then realized I was wrong and totally, of course! Never saw it coming!!

Full of thrilling suspense, this is another must read book!!!

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

4.5 Stars.

#BookReview: Dead Before Dying (Shadow Valley Manor #1) by Kerry Schafer

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: February 9, 2016

Summary:

Twisting and eerie, sharp and unforgettable, DEAD BEFORE DYING brings a heroine worthy of Sue Grafton to a terror worthy of Dean Koontz.

In this supernatural thriller, shot through with biting wit, Maureen Keslyn checks herself in to Shadow Valley Manor to recuperate and rehabilitate from her last job. There, she runs afoul of the stern director and makes friends with some of the other residents, mostly older, all harboring either a secret or a grudge. With secrets of her own, like why she has her own Federal Agent checking up on her, and how she injured herself in the first place, Maureen fits right in, even as she sticks out like a thorn.
But Shadow Valley isn’t just for rest–Maureen is working undercover, seeking to find and eradicate whatever forces are picking off the residents (and staff) at a grisly clip. With her resources dwindling one death at a time, and unnatural forces seething to rise up once more, Maureen’s experience fighting the supernatural will be her only hope to destroy a clever and powerful evil–and her only chance at surviving it. She’ll need people as paranoid as she is–from the sheriff, to the undertaker’s daughter, to a cook whose knife skills in the kitchen could prove deadly out of it–if she is going to bring rest to the weary, and peace to the dead…

Review:

I met the most colorful cast of characters while reading Kerry Schafer’s “Dead Before Dying”, and it was so exciting!

This was a paranormal murder mystery unlike any other! It was set in a Nursing Home called “Shadow Valley Manor”, where FBI Agent Maureen Keslyn works both diligently and humorously to solve a crime. I appreciated Maureen because she was in her 50’s! It was cool to have an older kick-a&& heroine!

Other stories are told about each elderly paranormal being living there; and I was (dare I say) enamored with the story of the 90 year old vampire. I also love how the cat warns Maureen of ghoulish things in the night! (And me…Yes, I was known to jump while reading!..lol)

There is this overall sense of creepiness, which I thought Schafer wrote wonderfully. I was totally drawn in because this story is intriguing, enticing, dark, and smoldering with the sense of need to know!!

I moved urgently through the story because I always had to know what was around the next corner!!

I highly recommend Kerry Schafer! She is so very talented at this paranormal mystery stuff! Wow! Her audible was fabulous, too!

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

4.5 Stars.

#BookReview: Lavender, Loss & Love at the Villa des Violettes (Villa des Violettes #3) by Patricia Sands

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Review: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: January 24, 2020

Summary:

A sizzling heat wave is only part of the drama unfolding on the sun-drenched Côte d’Azur …

When Kat and Philippe settle into a new season as innkeepers at the Villa des Violettes, extraordinary stories are revealed by guests. Ancestry, intrigue, and lessons in friendship are part of the narrative. As summer draws to a close, an urgent call sends Kat and Philippe back to Sainte-Mathilde where the family gathers to support each other in an emergency situation.

From the splendor of the lavender season through to the changing landscape of autumn and the festivities of the grape harvest, the Love in Provence characters face challenges, make memories and attempt to maintain their usual joie de vivre!

Review:

I felt the power of friendship and love pour out onto the pages of “Lavender, Love, & Loss at Villa des Violettes”.

Once again, Patricia Sands captured the essence of France beautifully. Each page like a photograph; only you could smell or taste it! I was taken away!

Her writing is truly delectable.

It is always a gift to sit down and visit with Kat and Philippe.

I was so delighted each time an old friend from another story stopped by, but just as tickled to meet new ones!

I was truly touched when three friends from Canada visited Villa des Violettes. I trust you will all find a piece of you among their B&B guests or interwoven into Kat’s other friends or family tales.

I will never smell or look at lavender the same.

I am thinking of a lot of my loved ones by this story.

I have been truly touched and moved. I trust you will be, too.

5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck

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Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Date of Release: February 4, 2020

Summary:

An invitation to join The Fifth Avenue Story Society gives five New York strangers a chance to rewrite their own stories.

Executive assistant Lexa is eager for a much-deserved promotion, but her boss isdetermined to keep her underemployed.

Literature professor Jett is dealing with a broken heart, as well as a nagging suspicion his literary idol, Gordon Phipps Roth, might be a fraud.

Uber driver Chuck just wants a second chance with his kids.

Aging widower Ed is eager to write the true story of his incredible marriage.

Coral, queen of the cosmetics industry, has broken her engagement and is on the verge of losing her great grandmother’s multimillion-dollar empire.

When all five New Yorkers receive an anonymous, mysterious invitation to the Fifth Avenue Story Society, they suspect they’re victims of a practical joke. No one knows who sent the invitations or why. No one has heard of the literary society. And no one is prepared to bear their deepest secrets to a roomful of strangers.

Yet curiosity and loneliness bring them back week after week to the old library. And it’s there they discover the stories of their hearts, and the kind of friendship and love that heals their souls.

Review:

The writing style flowed, the character development and plot were outstanding. I could not put it down. There are 5 people who are invited to the “Story Society” in the old Winthrop library in New York City. They don’t know why they are there or why they were invited and I found that intriguing. I am not sure they ever figured it out, but they turn into friends and keep meeting.  I loved the end of the book. This was a charming and satisfying novel.

If you have read any of Rachel Hauck’s books, you know she has a bit of a “what would jesus do” theme that runs through them. She is one of my favorite authors. If you like her other books or haven’t tried one yet, don’t miss this one! 

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Lavender, Loss & Love at the Villa des Violettes (Villa des Violettes #3) by Patricia Sands

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Sale: January 24th, 2020

Summary:

A sizzling heat wave is only part of the drama unfolding on the sun-drenched Côte d’Azur …
When Kat and Philippe settle into a new season as innkeepers at the Villa des Violettes, extraordinary stories are revealed by guests. Ancestry, intrigue, and lessons in friendship are part of the narrative. As summer draws to a close, an urgent call sends Kat and Philippe back to Sainte-Mathilde where the family gathers to support each other in an emergency situation.

From the splendor of the lavender season through to the changing landscape of autumn and the festivities of the grape harvest, the Love in Provence characters face challenges, make memories and attempt to maintain their usual joie de vivre!

Review:

It was truly a pleasure to be back traveling alongside Kat and Philippe on their adventures.

Patricia Sands has such a beautiful gift when writing her novels and “Lavender, Loss & Love” is no exception. She has a way of capturing your interest gently at the beginning and then you are left wanting more at the end.

The happenings of the family and friends are ones that will touch your heart and soul. Not to mention the guests at the Villa des Violettes and their stories.

This is the third book in the series and I would recommend reading them all!!!! You do not want to miss out on this awesome author !!!

5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Art of Remembering by Alison Ragsdale

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: July 16, 2019

Summary:

Professional ballerina, Ailsa MacIntyre, is at the peak of her career when her world is shattered by a shocking diagnosis. Life-saving surgery leaves her with a fractured memory, little recollection of her husband, Evan, and none of her career as a principal dancer.

While recuperating at home, Ailsa hears beautiful music coming from the apartment upstairs, and the sound of the grand piano at the hands of a talented new neighbor sparks her muscle memory. As her recovery progresses, the broken pieces of her past gradually re-emerge, a picture not quite as idyllic as Evan would have her remember. Ailsa must navigate the conflicting visions of her past, and potential future, as they collide.

Review:

First let me begin with, that I am so glad that this was our monthly book club pick for January.  I was excited to read this and was not disappointed.

Alison Ragsdale has written a beautiful, poignant novel with “The Art of Remembering”.

I flew through this book and read it in 2 evenings. The flow of the story and the way the book is written had me not wanting to put it down.

Ailsa’s relationship with her husband Evan, both before and after her surgery were complex. It is said that sometimes you have to look at things from an entirely different angle to see it from another perspective.

When re-examining from this new “after surgery” perspective, things were much different and she had to work through things and determine what path was her true destiny. Likewise, she had to re-examine the relationship with friends and family.

This was thought-provoking and I asked myself if I would have chosen familiarity or would I have ventured out into the unknown?

There were parts of the book that made me sad for Ailsa, but there were even more happy moments where I caught myself smiling and overjoyed.

Alison Ragsdale is definitely becoming one of my favorite authors. So far I have read two of her novels, and have added more to my to-be-read list after reading this novel as well as “Tuesday’s Socks” recently.  I highly recommend that you check her books out!!!

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: This Is Not How It Ends by Rochelle B. Weinstein

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date Of Release: January 1st, 2020

Summary:

From USA Today bestselling author Rochelle B. Weinstein comes a moving novel of hearts lost and found, and of one woman torn between two love stories.

When Charlotte and Philip meet, the pair form a deep and instant connection. Soon they’re settled in the Florida Keys with plans to marry. But just as they should be getting closer, Charlotte feels Philip slipping away.

Second-guessing their love is something Charlotte never imagined, but with Philip’s excessive absences, she finds herself yearning for more. When she meets Ben, she ignores the pull, but the supportive single dad is there for her in ways she never knew she desired. Soon Charlotte finds herself torn between the love she thought she wanted and the one she knows she needs.

As a hurricane passes through Islamorada, stunning revelations challenge Charlotte’s loyalties and upend her life. Forced to reexamine the choices she’s made, and has yet to make, Charlotte embarks on an emotional journey of friendship, love, and sacrifice—knowing that forgiveness is a gift, and the best-laid plans can change in a heartbeat.

This Is Not How It Ends is a tender, moving story of heartbreak and healing that asks the question: Which takes more courage—holding on or letting go?

Review:

There’s nothing like reading a book and feeling like I am walking alongside the main character. That is exactly what Rochelle Weinstein brings to life in “This Is Not How It Ends”!!

Every moment in Charley’s life was so beautifully written that I felt truly touched every time she was affected, changed, elated or hurt by anything. My skin would tingle, tears would flow down my cheeks, I’d need to breathe deeply, I’d pet my dogs more! They loved me reading this book! This is how visceral it was! I was there! It was an experience!

I think every woman will find a piece of herself in this story. I was in love with Charley!

The relationship with her Mother touched my soul. The love triangle created was palpable! Intense! Lovely!

Rochelle Weinstein is a truly gifted storyteller. She writes for our hearts, to our hearts!  Oh….Also! You’ll find yourself stopping to write down quotes and take notes….It’s that Awesome!!

5 Stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: The After Wife: A Novel by Melanie Summers

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: January 10, 2020

Summary:

From author Melanie Summers, comes a heartfelt and uplifting tale of love, loss, and letting go…

After losing her husband, writer Abigail Carson has all but given up on life. Having spent the last year cocooned in her Manhattan apartment, Abigail is suddenly forced to find a new home where she can stretch her dwindling savings. Intent on isolation, she moves to a tiny village in Nova Scotia where she’ll have no one to interrupt her solitude.

Little does Abigail realize that small-town life offers far less privacy than the big city. With neighbors knocking on the door bearing homemade treats and invitations, Abby soon finds herself immersed in the lives of the people of South Haven. She forms an unlikely friendship with Liam Wright, the handyman renovating her dilapidated cottage, and his daughter, seven-year-old Olive.

As the dark cloud engulfing Abigail lifts, she begins to believe she may have found love again. But just as Abigail is ready to leap, she discovers Liam carries with him a shocking secret that will ultimately cause everything to unravel. Abigail must decide if she will turn away from his pain or open her heart in the most hopeless of circumstances.

Insightful, enchanting, and filled with hope, The After Wife reminds us of the importance of human connection and the inseparable nature of love and survival.

Review:

Melanie Summers has written a truly endearing novel which is exactly as described, “a heartfelt and uplifting tale of love, loss, and letting go…”

“The After Wife” tells a story that will sit and resonate after you are finished.

Abby’s relationship with Liam throughout the story was touching and emotional yet complicated in so many ways.  My favorite character was Olive, Liam’s daughter. Olive was so honest and memorable. And well of course Walt the cat – he was a fun character in this novel too.

You will laugh, smile and probably shed a tear or two throughout the novel. I know I did.

At the end, I asked myself, would I have made the same decisions that they did or would I have chosen a different path? 

This is my first book by this author but am very glad that I found her!

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

4 Stars.

#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.