#BookReview: Controlling Shelly Fagan by Olive Dunn

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Summary:

Have you ever loved someone so much it took your breath away?

A captivating, unforgettable love story, Olive Dunn restores glory to the romance genre with this intense and provocative novel.

Controlling Shelly Fagan is a riveting romance novel that will guide readers through a tantalizing journey of a young woman whose life has been dominated by secrets and deceit. She trusted her parents—only to discover years later they lied.

A first love, an endless love. Shelly Fagan at seventeen loved Chris Johnson with every ounce of her being. Forced away from him and everything she knew and loved, she was hidden in a convent, pregnant and alone. Now, at age thirty-six and married to another man, a life-changing event takes Shelly back to the same small Indiana town where it all began.

This novel will take you back to 1967—a year of music, sex, freedom, laughter, love, and Vietnam.

Controlling Shelly Fagan is a gripping emotional story that will stay with you.You grow up, but you never forget. You can’t forget.

Review:

Olive Dunn clearly shows us how lies and deceit can hurt a family and friendships in her novel “Controlling Shelly Fagan”.

This a deeply poignant story telling us about Shelly and her very difficult life. From her teenage years through her mid-thirties we watch her maneuver through so much heartbreak; because of what happened to her as a teenager and then all of the unimaginable choices she had to make as an adult.

There were many times where my heart truly broke for her. I kept wondering what choice she would make when she came to certain crossroads and wondered would I have done the same???

I must admit that I was surprised a couple of times as I thought the story was headed a different direction, only to be taken the opposite.

I thoroughly enjoyed this from cover to cover! Olive Dunn’s Debut novel surely was wonderful, I hope she writes more!

4.5 Stars.

#BookReview: All About Evie by Cathy Lamb

Reviewer: Jennifer Bryan-Vawser

Expected Publication Date: October 29th, 2019

FE17B06C-2AEC-4962-88DF-AC5262115E8ESummary:

Set against the natural beauty of the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest, acclaimed author Cathy Lamb’s latest novel tells the emotionally compelling story of one woman’s life-changing discovery about her past . . .

As a child, Evie Lindsay was unnerved by her premonitions. As an adult, they have become a simple fact of life—sometimes disruptive but also inescapable, much like her quirky, loveable family.  Evie’s mother, Poppy, and her aunts, Camellia and Iris, are well known on San Orcanita island for their free-spirited ways and elaborately decorated hats. Their floral shop and Evie’s bookstore draw streams of visitors all summer long. This season promises to be extra busy: Evie’s sister, Jules, is getting married on the island.

As Jules plans her unconventional wedding, she arranges to do a DNA test with her mother, sister, and aunts, to see how much accepted lore about their heritage holds true. The results blow apart everything Evie has grown up believing about herself and her family. Spurred on by the revelations, Evie uncovers the real story of her past. But beyond her feelings of shock and betrayal, there are unexpected opportunities—to come to terms with a gift that has sometimes felt like a curse, to understand the secrets that surrounded her childhood, and to embrace the surprising new life that is waiting for her …

Review:

“All About Evie” is one of those books that will make you laugh out loud one minute and ugly cry the next!

Cathy Lamb has a unique writing style. The story was both entertaining and intriguing. You can tell she really took her time in developing each of her characters.

Evie has had premonitions for as long as she can remember. Sometimes they are a blessing and other times they are a curse.

She lives with her mother and 3 aunt’s. They are a fun, colorful bunch! They are strong, independent, witty, hilarious and crazy; you can not help but fall in love with them all.

Evie loves books, she owns her own bookstore and she has a huge love for her pets. All 10 of them! The one thing I really loved was how each of her beloved pets played a roll in the story. I especially loved her cat, Garfield.

There are twists I did not see coming and Evie had some really tough decisions to make. 

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

4 Stars.

#BookReview & #HolidayReads: The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street (Tradd Street #6) by Karen White

Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

Expected Release Date: October 22, 2019

E58D8FAF-4736-4BAB-AAE1-261764AC2919Summary:

The Christmas spirit is overtaking Tradd Street with a vengeance in this festive new novel in the New York Timesbestselling series by Karen White.

Melanie Trenholm should be anticipating Christmas with nothing but joy–after all, it’s only the second Christmas she and her husband, Jack, will celebrate with their twin babies. But the ongoing excavation of the centuries-old cistern in the garden of her historic Tradd Street home has been a huge millstone, both financially and aesthetically. Local students are thrilled by the possibility of unearthing more Colonial-era artifacts at the cistern, but Melanie is concerned by the ghosts connected to the cistern that have suddenly invaded her life and her house–and at least one of them is definitely not filled with holiday cheer….

And these relics aren’t the only precious artifacts for which people are searching. A past adversary is convinced that there is a long-lost Revolutionary War treasure buried somewhere on the property that Melanie inherited–untold riches rumored to be brought over from France by the Marquis de Lafayette himself and intended to help the Colonial war effort. It’s a treasure literally fit for a king, and there have been whispers throughout history that many have already killed–and died–for it. And now someone will stop at nothing to possess it–even if it means destroying everything Melanie and Jack hold dear.

Review:

I love the Tradd Street Series by Karen White and this book was no exception.

This is a read you will need to pay a little more attention to if you expect to understand the ending; who the ghosts are, their relationship and what they are trying to accomplish. That is the main reason I gave “The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street” four stars. I still loved the book and it’s characters. 

I understand we can look forward to one more book in this series. I am not sure when the projected release date is but, I will be looking forward to it with mixed feelings because I would like the series to continue on for many more installments.

If you love Karen White and have read the Tradd Street series, you won’t want to miss this one. If you haven’t started this series, what are you waiting for?

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

4 Stars.

#BookReview: The Briar and the Rose by Laura Mills-Alcott

Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

679D196A-CD2A-4C06-95BB-EE2961A9C17ESummary:

THE BRIAR AND THE ROSE is Regency Era Historical Romance set in Ireland and London.

THE BRIAR…
One moment Raven is alone in the world and working as a maid in the gardens of a grand estate in Ireland; the next she finds herself handed the life of a lady by the dark and handsome Marquess of Castlereagh. Devan insists his intentions are honorable, and that he only wishes to help reunite her with her family. But Raven finds herself in a constant struggle to deny the smoldering attraction between them, and in her secret heart, wishes he wanted more.
THE ROSE…
Devan, Marquess of Castlereagh, is tormented by his past and determined to live out his days in quiet solitude at his Ireland estate. That is until Raven enters his life. With the face of an angel, the body of Aphrodite, and the tongue of a drunken Irishman, he’s never met any woman so infuriating… so seductive… so… his match.
THE LEGEND…
From historical Ireland and its mystical legends to the elegant ballrooms of Regency London, together Devan and Raven discover the truth of the past and a love so strong it cannot be denied.

Based loosely on the ballad “Barbara Allen”, and more specifically on Dolly Parton’s version of the ballad, THE BRIAR AND THE ROSE is set in Ireland and London.

Review:

I might be hooked! It has been several years since I read a historical romance and it might not be so long the next time. I loved the history behind this story. It is loosely based on the ballad of “Barbara Allen” and the old Irish folktale of “The Briar and the Rose”.

Right after I finished this book there was a documentary of country music and I was excited to hear them talking with Dolly Parton about Barbara Allen and the old Irish folktale. Have you ever had that happen to you? First, you were ignorant about something and then you hear it again within a short period of time. That was nice because now I knew something about The Briar and the Rose.
This book is definitely worth the time to read. You won’t be sorry! There is something for everyone. However you have to do it, go out and obtain a copy of The Briar and the Rose by Laura Mills-Alcott today.
I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

 

 

#BookReview & #SpookyReads: “Evening in the Yellow Wood” by Laura Kemp

87FB7773-4864-4FF8-A5E9-C5E05BC51E8BReviewer: Christine Davis

Summary:

Abandoned by an eccentric father on the eve of her twelfth birthday, Justine Cook has lived with her fair share of unanswered questions. Now, ten years later she leaves her life in southern Michigan and heads north to the mysterious town of Lantern Creek after seeing his picture in a local newspaper. Once there, she discovers her father had been leading a double life and meets the autistic brother she never knew—a young man who is mute but able to read her mind.

When a local girl who looks like Justine is mysteriously murdered, she joins forces with sheriff’s deputy Dylan Locke to capture the killer. But the more they dig for clues to the past, the closer they come to discovering a secret someone will kill to protect. Justine begins to show signs of supernatural power and eventually must stop an immortal enemy that has hunted her family for generations.

305CD7F0-468B-415F-8E50-FF77E152596DReview:


A daughter’s need to find her father is a powerful one. Laura Kemp sends her main character into a world of danger, a world beyond what normal people would expect!

“Evening in The Yellow Woods” is a novel chocked full of suspense, mystery and paranormal activities! You think you know what is going on, then *** BAM *** the story twists and your taken down another amazing path!

I enjoyed Kemp’s easy style of writing that leads you through this original take on what one would do for family.

Kemp tosses in plenty of spectral phenomenons in this book to keep any ghost loving reader hooked from beginning to end!

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review,

4 Stars.

#BookReview: Zetty by Debra Whiting Alexander

Reviewer: Jennifer Bryan-Vawser

0087F089-CEA4-4B20-A47C-6AAEB8B10439Summary:

The powerful story of a mother lost to a rare form of schizophrenia, and a daughter’s quest to find her.

When Marjorie McGee suddenly disappears from her Southern California beach home, nine-year-old Zetty is left motherless and confused. Years later, Zetty finds herself in a circle of unconventional women—opinionated, endearing, courageous and keen-eyed women—who offer Zetty their heart and backbone. As unexpected friendships form, Zetty begins an emotional, psychological, and spiritual journey in search of her mother—never imagining the joy and tragedy yet to come, the undeniable power of early childhood bonds, and the secret that will change their lives forever.

Review:

This is one of those stories that will stay with you long after it is over.
Zetty is 9 years old and her mother has gone missing. What Zetty doesn’t know is that her mother suffers from schizophrenia.
When she is finally old enough, she sets off to go in search of her mother.
I personally felt myself going on this journey with her. It was a roller coaster of emotions! I felt her challenges and desperation on finding her mother.
I also felt her resilience, compassion, love and her self discovery on this journey.
I really enjoyed that the story was written from both Zetty and her mother’s perspectives.
Debra Whiting Alexander has written a beautiful, heartfelt story all while opening our eyes to mental illness.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
4.5 stars.

#BookReview: Beneath Pale Water by Thalia Henry

Reviewer: Annie McDonnell

8ED82A28-4526-48C3-8832-0F2790B71019Summary:

Set amidst the physical and psychological landscapes of New Zealand’s southern hills and grasslands, Beneath Pale Water is a social realist and expressionistic novel that follows a triangle of three damaged individuals – a sculptor, a vagrant and a model – who have grown calcified shells against the world. Their search for identity and belonging leads them into dangerous territory that threatens both their sanity and lives. As their protective shells crack they are left vulnerable – both physically and emotionally – to the high country winds and their own conflicts that, ultimately, might free or destroy them.

Review:

I found this to be one of the most lyrical novels I have read in a long time. It was quite refreshing to read a book that I actually had to decipher the underlying meaning to.

The imagery was just stunning. I felt totally transported. It stirred my soul.

It was truly a beautiful dance between these characters that had me guessing right up until the end. I absolutely hated to put it down when necessary.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to take a break from the everyday story.

This Novel will win awards, and the author is going to write wondrous stories!

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Memory House by Bette Lee Crosby

Reviewer: Jennifer Bryan-Vawser

84962035-138A-4837-A2EF-00C26B567402Summary:

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A MEMORY TO OUTLIVE ITS OWNER?

Ophelia Browne knows the answer is yes. She knows because she’s been granted the unique gift of finding and caring for those forgotten memories. But now she’s nearing ninety, and Browne women seldom live beyond ninety.

Before time runs out Ophelia must find a successor. Someone who can take hold of the gifts and keep the memories from fading.

When broken-hearted Annie Cross shows up on the doorstep of The Memory House Bed and Breakfast, Ophelia knows she is the one. The two women forge a bond of friendship as they sip magical dandelion tea and share stories. When Annie starts to sense the memories Ophelia is delighted, but then a thread of violence begins to unravel and Ophelia fears things have gone too far.

Review:

I don’t know how “Memory House” is only my second book by Bette Lee Crosby!

I feel like I have been missing out on an extraordinary author!

This book took me on a powerful journey!

I felt so involved in these characters lives, Ophelia was so well-written and by far one of my favorite character’s written into a storyline.

Ophelia’s memories pull at your heart strings. She made me feel as if I were living through her memories. I felt so many emotions, there was joy, sadness and most of all love.

“A good memory is something you have to live with for awhile, let it settle in and become part of who you are”

This book captured my heart!

I look forward to reading the series and many more books by Bette Lee Crosby!

I highly recommend this book to everyone that loves a good heartwarming story!

5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Reviewer: Christine Davis

092D8DB8-797E-4668-8F4E-0DE83A55BB0ESummary:

Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are ruthlessly ambitious high-flyers working in the lucrative world of Wall Street finance where deception and intimidation thrive. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to reach the top.

When they are ordered to participate in a corporate team-building exercise that requires them to escape from a locked elevator, dark secrets of their team begin to be laid bare.

The biggest mystery to solve in this lethal game: What happened to Sara Hall? Once a young shining star—”now gone but not forgotten”.

This is no longer a game.
They’re fighting for their lives.

Review:

Clang!

Your trapped in an enclosed space and only your wit and the cooperation of three other people you don’t trust will get you out! Would you survive the challenge? Do the characters in Megan Goldin’s book survive? This gripping story will take you into “The Escape Room” to find out!

Goldin does a masterful job guiding the reader into the minds of those trapped inside an escape room, or is it? Yes they are trapped, yes there are clues given to help them figure out what is going on but just who is in charge of this game? 

A mysterious and suspenseful time will await you if you choose to partake in this tale of these twisted events within this book!

I enjoyed Goldin’s descriptive writing style and how she revealed the reasons behind each character’s actions to accomplishing their goals. If this sounds like your ‘cup of tea’ then drink up and enjoy this novel!

5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

483EA019-D7E4-4801-805E-A49CE25234B5Summary:

In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

Review:

One of my favorite books this year! For a debut novel, she did an outstanding job. This was a plot that was believable and quickly became a book I couldn’t put down.
The story switches voices between Olivia and her mother Abi. While Olivia is telling you how she landed in the hospital pregnant and brain dead, her mother is searching for the reason Olivia fell and who was responsible.
There are many twists and turns throughout the story. I felt there were about five people who could be to blame for Olivia’s fall and I had to know which one it was! I love a book that keeps my mind churning even when I am not reading.  If you are like me, you will love The Night Olivia Fell. This was Christina McDonald’s first novel and she has a new one coming out on February 4, 2020. Don’t miss it! I won’t.
5 Stars.