Review

The Way Back Home

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Published: 1st October 2020

Source: The author.

The Way Back Home is the second in the trilogy by Emilie Richards – Homecoming. In the first book we met Krista looking for her sister Rosie, a runaway. Krista felt really ashamed that in the moment Rosie needed her she let her down.

Now in The Way Back Home we meet the lovely Anna Fitzgerald, a staff member at First Day, a place that takes in runaways and offers them the chance of taking a new start in life, and even if they don’t take up that offer, a roof and a bed in the meantime. The runaways are tough, yet Anna is tough herself. Having been on the streets for a number of years, she knows the tricks of the trade. Not much gets past her. She has a wonderful four year old – Ryan and they live in a very small apartment.

And so of course we come to Rosie’s story. I don’t think it takes much deduction for the reader to work out who Anna was in her past. We learned in book one why Anna left home and now we learn of her heartbreaking years on the street. We see her partially back together but not fully healed.

As the story progresses there are a number of twists and turns. Anna is going to find the going challenging, the invitation to take more steps right there. Of course there is a love interest. This is a romance, with taste of women’s fiction and some suspense.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to the final in the trilogy. In this book I met characters I loved and cheered for and a story I wanted to keep on reading. While this is a republication of a book written back some time ago, I think readers will find it stands up well to 2020 reading.

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Review

The Friendship List. Susan Mallery. Blog Tour

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Published: Harlequin
Date: 4th August 2020
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirty something widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

Unity and Ellen have been best friends forever.  Whatever is going on in their lives, they’ve been there with and for each other. When they recognise that their lives are in a bit of a rut they make a list of all the things they could do to move them from that rut.

When Ellen heard Cooper saying he was worried about his Mom and he wasn’t sure that it was right for him to go away to college, she was devastated. When Unity had a few important people in her life point out she was living in the past – she got shirty, then she got working on a list in the meantime. Still not sure she was ready to move on.

I liked both the men in the book – Thaddeus and Keith. They were honest good men, and had a lot going for them. I loved how Thaddeus treated his great aunt and Keith loved and sweated over his daughter Lissa.

The story ambles along, alternating between the two couples mainly, with some falling out and falling in. There were some funny, laugh out loud moments. It’s about friendship, moving on and growing up and second chances. In places somewhat saucy. While I prefer a women’s fiction book I am going to place this right into the romance genre.

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Book Connections, Review

Five Diverse Books I’ve Read in 2019

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Reading can take us beyond what we experience from people and events and culture immediately around us. These books did that for me. I think after the mass shooting we saw happening in the mosques in Christchurch New Zealand, I challenged myself to be more aware of picking up books that helped me explore the wondrous diversity existing in our world.

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Ayesha at Last is set in Toronto, Canada and is about Ayesha and Khalid, both belonging to a Muslim community. It’s a romance that is full of twists and turns, has humour and a tad bit of revenge which I always enjoy when a baddie gets his desserts. Ayesha and Khalid have a love/hate thing going on, plus interfering relatives to add to it. I loved the diverse aspect of the Muslim religion, how they live and what’s important to them. Not everything in the story is completely wrapped up for every character, which really just made it feel more real. I’ll certainly want to read another book from this author – this is a debut novel, with flavourings of pride and plenty of prejudice.

book coverPride Prejudice and Other Flavors is set in California, however it involves a high ranking Indian immigrant family and DJ Caine a chef who is a mix of Indian/African. While the two main characters have their share of pride and prejudice, the book also touches on the prejudices white people have towards those with darker skins. The many tasty flavours of Indian cooking is a large component. I enjoyed this read, it explores the roles in family, sibling relationships, illness (Trish the heroine is a neurosurgeon) and betrayal. It does have romance but its more mainstream than outright romance. My kind of read.

book coverThe story of three sisters, who visit India, in response to their dead mother’s request. Each has a secret or challenge they are hiding from the others. While they have not been that close, due really to growing up circumstances, the trip eventually bonds them together. I liked the Indian setting and the cultural values shown. Some very shocking from my viewpoint. I liked though how the book highlighted and dealt with the issues raised. The only question I still wonder about is the sore ankle the eldest sister had. It went nowhere. Excellent on audio -the narrator did a very good job on the whole and added to my enjoyment of the book.

Book coverField Notes on Love has  two delightful main characters who come from diverse backgrounds. Hugo is bi racial and has throughout his life had to put up with slurs, but with the support of his siblings (one of sextuplets) Hugo has come through it well. Mae is the wonderful daughter of two Dads and with the side support of a special Nana she too is a well balanced individual. They both have dreams and throughout a week long train trip they will discover what that really means. It is YA and I loved the read.

Book CoverThe Stationery Shop of Tehran is partially set in Iran and shares the story of the coup of 1953. A prime minister who had been elected democratically was ousted by the Shah,and foreign powers! All because of oil! This story gives insight into a family life and the love of two people whose lives are disrupted by this event. It’s sad because two young people who love each other are separated by others. Who? Well it will take them many years to realise. In the meantime they have lived good lives but what might have been? I liked this story even though it was a little outside my usual.  I especially liked the insight into Persian life and cooking.

Review

The Lemon Sisters Jill Shalvis

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Published: William Morrow
Date:  18th June 2019
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

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The Lemon sisters are at a crossroads. Mindy turns up at sister Brooke’s LA apartment with three children – one not potty trained, saying she has had it, she is tired, her husband is stepping out on her and she needs a break. Some of that is true, some of that she’s making up stories in her head.

Brooke works on making travel movies but in these later years she has  been  in the studio, not out in the field. It turns out she has some PTSD from a traumatic event that has left her fragile, anxious and heart sore. She hasn’t been back to Wildstone for a long time. But when Mindy appeals for help, she finds herself wending her way there minus Mindy and three children in tow.

The men are good guys, Linc is a hard working guy, but clueless about his wife and what is happening to her.  Garrett the next door neighbor has a history with Brooke that ended in heartbreak for both of them, he has a whole growing up situation too that has left him with issues.

Of course we have the cats, a likeable dog and balloon that denotes the travels of a pet to sweeten the deal. Plus three children who are mostly adorable. They made the book for me, and I laughed at the toilet seat difficulty that Millie points out about of her youngest brother. Who hasn’t been caught out by that!

This has all the trademarks of a Jill Shalvis – some humor, some sizzling romance with misunderstandings, and a well told happy ever after story.

Review

The View from Alameda. Robyn Carr

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Published: Harlequin – MIRA
Date:  30th April 2018
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley

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The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr – another of her books that held my interest all the way through.

Lauren is married to a surgeon – Brad, but… he is manipulative, controlling and abusive. She stays in the marriage because of her two daughters, Lauren wants the best for them – in a money sense, however most likely it isn’t good for them really. Lauren is a competent person but she is told by Brad that she is useless. Finally after many attempts Lauren makes plans and leaves him. What a relief!

She meets another man, Beau one day at a garden and they strike up a conversation. Soon they are developing a friendship and spending more time together. However he too is going through a divorce and life is not exactly straight going for him. What I really liked about him was his care for his two step sons – 18 and 21. While his ex wife was the mother, it was Beau who had always stepped up for them.

So a divorce should be straight forward – right? Well not in both Beau’s and Lauren’s cases. They have cray, cray, crazy ex partners who go to extraordinary lengths to put a spanner in the works to prevent the divorces going through. I kept thinking – what next? No! Really!

This is a very good story of a woman finding her way, choosing happiness and a full life. It is about friendship, family and people standing with you and supporting you.  It is about being there for others – being able to admit mistakes and readjust living to a better, more wholesome path.

I really liked Lauren and Beau as characters and was so sorry to have to close the book.

Review

The Girl He Used to Know. Tracey Garvis Graves

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Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: 2nd April 2019
Genre: Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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Right from the beginning I was hooked into this book and the story. I just totally loved Annika and her background story.  In college she was not very socially adept, missed cues, spoke her mind, hated loud noise and wasn’t keen on being touched. But… what a heart and gorgeous person. I also fell for her room mate Janine who was kind enough to reach out in genuine friendship and help Annika to find her way through the world that mystified her.

In college she meets Jonathan and he is everything you’d like in a male. We find out that something separated them and now as they meet ten years later and begin to find their way with each other, we are led on, wondering what on earth went wrong between this wonderful pair.

The story is told in two time lines, college days and 2001. They fit together seamlessly and as I read, the question I held about what went wrong was answered. And no more about the plot – its best discovered as you read.

This book was a fast read, I picked it up every moment possible. It was emotional – heart warming and heart breaking. If you love unforgettable characters, a little mystery, and an emotional read with an intense ending – pick this one up. I hated it had to finish!

Review

The Cliff House RaeAnne Thayne

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Published: Harlequin
Date: 26th March 2019
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Source:  Litte Bird Publicity via NetGalley

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The Cliff House is a really wonderful read – I think my favorite from this author. It abounds with love and family and care for the wider community.

Stella is a middle school teacher, a “mother” to her two nieces and a beloved foster mother to many another child. But… she is only forty and she hankers for her own child.

Her two nieces are now grown women, a credit to her and themselves – yet some things are not yet sorted. Bea is a great mother to Mari, born of a marriage to a rock star, that has long since ended and she is so ready to move on.   Daisy is a talented financial advisor and accountant, but a little tight and buttoned up. She carries some secrets and surprises though.

The story explores the issues of the importance of foster care, and for each of the women a second chance at becoming firstly more themselves  and secondly a relationship for each of them that promises to be very fulfilling.

It was a story I just kept reading, there is an adorable dog or two, women who care about each other and men who each have their strengths and abilities to be there for the women they have come to love. A secret here and there, past mistake, some tension and loss, and some big hearted giving.

This stand alone book is RaeAnne Thayne’s first ever book in hardcover and it is certainly worthy of it.

 

 

Review

Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn Ross

book coverPublished: HQN Books
Date: November 1st 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley

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Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

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Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane is #2 in JoAnn Ross’ Honeymoon Harbor series. This time its another delectable Mannion brother and the woman he’s loved since forever, but somehow they never quite worked it all out when they were young.

Now they are older and wiser and for varying reasons find themselves back in Honeymoon Harbor.  Aidan with a bit of arm twisting from his father takes on the role of police chief to fill in a gap. And he has to be the ideal man for the job for any small town. He has lots of experience, is totally a good cop who isn’t going to take any nonsense when its needed and has a really soft heart when it comes to those in distress.

Jolene is a talented young woman but she has had her share of trauma but is now back in town to support her mother. She provides the feel good mother/daughter relationship in the story, and while she doesn’t want to make any commitment that will tie her down, it has to be said she hasn’t lost her feelings for Aidan.

A small town, feel good story with just enough tension applied along the way to boost interest for the reader. And yes there is a little bit of Christmas happening in the final chapter. And as well an ephemeral  character Bodhi, mate and working partner of Aidan who provide some extra interest to the story.

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Review

Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

book coverPublished: William Morrow
Date: 16th October 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary Christmas
Source: Publicist  via Edelweiss

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Haley Hanson’s idea of the perfect Christmas is escaping to the Caribbean to work so she can avoid all the traditional Christmas distractions. Over the years, she’s sacrificed her personal life to climb the corporate ladder at a prestigious Boston advertising agency. Now she just needs to land a coveted Christmas toy company account to make partner. But first, her boss, Larry, thinks she needs a holiday attitude adjustment, so he ships her off to a Christmas Camp at Holly Peak Inn to help her find her Christmas spirit.

Arriving at the charming mountainside inn, Haley meets the owner’s handsome son, Jeff, and feels an instant spark, but resists the attraction, refusing to be distracted from her goal of doing all the required Christmas tasks as fast as possible so she can get back to work.

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What a delightful, fresh, original Christmas season story. I wanted to resist it at first, but bit by bit it hooked my in and kept me reading on. I loved the characters and their stories, I loved the persistence of Max ( a dog) and his insight into the human heart!  I found myself wishing I was their at the Christmas Camp along with all the participants. I might be a little bit easily led I know, but I just couldn’t resist the feel good message in this story.

Haley is a sort of Grinch. But… she doesn’t really have all that much in common with that character, when you examine her life and her heart. Really that is in the right place. She has just become obsessed  with work and her eye is forever on that goal. But thanks to her boss she gets a call to step outside her life and experience something different. I found myself on her side, wanting her to love her respite in this wonder filled place, but also to be successful in her ultimate goal.

I loved the activities, the friendships and relationships that were begun or strengthened. Mmmm all the feels of the Christmas season plus. I believe this just may have a follow up. I’m all for it!

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Review

The Christmas Wishing Tree by Emily March

book coverPublished: St Martin’s Press
Date: 25th September 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Rating 4.5 stars
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A man who loves adventure and the open sea, Devin Murphy returns for a short Christmas trip to his small hometown of Eternity Springs. Immersed in the joy and magic of the holiday season all around him, he doesn’t hesitate to play along when a young boy phones Santa to ask for a very special wish. Devin never guesses that a wrong number has the potential to make everything in his life so right.

Jenna Stockton adopted Reilly when he needed a mother and she intends to keep him safe. A small town across the country called Eternity Springs seems like a good place to hide from their past without any complications —until sexy Santa himself discovers her secrets. When Devin proposes a daring plan to face down the danger together and defeat it once and for all, she is tempted. Maybe Devin really is capable of making wishes come true? Perhaps in a Christmas wish they’ll both find the miracle they’ve been looking for all along…

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The Christmas Wishing Tree was a delightful read. I always love returning to Eternity Springs, and this time I was hooked by the tension engendered from what Devin might do. Would he remain in Australia or fit in with a special person and live in Eternity Springs?

Jenna and her son Reilly are being harassed quite seriously by a stalker, and after some nasty experiences they have ended up in Eternity Springs. And of course that’s the right place to come to when you are hurting. Celeste for a start will have something up her sleeve and there is a whole arsenal of very capable people who can look into this matter.

I enjoyed the characters, Devin of course is as soft as marshmellow – when it counts and Jenna is such a great mother. Reilly is delightful and his journey of discovering all about how Christmas counts and what its all about is perfect.

I loved the humor, as well as the range of emotions the story evoked in me. It was full of beloved characters from Eternity Springs, yet easily could be picked up as a stand alone.

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Emily March Website                             Twitter: @EmilyMarchBooks
Facebook: Emily March                         Pinterest: Emily March

Buy Links:

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