Review

Write My Name Across the Sky. Barbara O’Neal

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Publisher: Lake Union
Date: 10th August 2021
Source: Publisher via Netgalley 

Life’s beautiful for seventysomething influencer Gloria Rose, in her Upper West Side loft with rooftop garden and scores of Instagram followers—until she gets word that her old flame has been arrested for art theft and forgery, and, knowing her own involvement in his misdeeds decades earlier, decides to flee. But that plan is complicated when the nieces she raised are thrown into crises of their own.

Willow, overshadowed by her notorious singer-songwriter mother, has come home to lick her wounds on the heels of a failed album and yet another disastrous relationship. Sam, prickly and fiercely independent, is on the verge of losing not only her beloved video game company but the man she loves, thanks to her inability to keep her always-simmering anger in check.

With the FBI closing in, Willow’s career in shambles, and Sam’s tribulations reaching a peak, each of the three woman will have to reckon with and reconcile their interwoven traumas, past loves, and the looming consequences that could either destroy their futures or bring them closer than ever.

Write My Name Across the Sky  is the story of two sisters, who have had a rather challenging upbringing. Both of them are at tough points in their lives now.

Sam is a creator of video games, but her company is failing and she has fallen out with her best friend Asher. She seems to be a little bit of a loner and really when it comes to some people in her life, has a very sharp tongue that wounds the chosen recipient.

Willow is a talented musician but her life is down in the doldrums as well. She is a gentle, caring person and I liked her. 

Gloria their aunt has looked out for the two and lives in the apartment their mother bought from her days of music fame. She loved being a world traveller but some involvement in an art scam years back seems to be catching up with her.

It took me a little while to get engaged with their lives but very soon I was very involved and wanting to know what would happen to them. And I loved that New York apartment. At the end I think prickly Sam turned into someone I was cheering on.

A warm hearted story of sisters and their aunt, the past catching up with each and a new and better future possible. I really liked the choice of facing up to past mistakes and moving on.

Book Connections

Recently Placed Books on to my TBR Shelf

Well that would be my virtual TBR! Which has grown again. I often put a book into my virtual TBR and hope that I will get to it. I did cull it, but maybe I need to do that again. But in the meantime I am looking at five of the latest that I have added that I am more likely to pick up.

Book coverWhat? First in a crime series. It involves a a couple of police characters and killer of course and its set in a small town in Woodbury MA. One character is Ellery Hathaway. No one there knows she was once victim number seventeen in the grisly story of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. The only one who lived.

Why? I liked the review of the #3 book in the series that I read and so I always like to start with #1.

How likely am I to get to it? Some likelihood. It is at our local library so that increased the possibility. Crime reading only forms part of my reading diet but I do like one now and then.

book cover What? Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She’s not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.

Why? Again I was alerted to this book via someones review. It’s contemporary women’s fiction and that’s probably my top reading genre.

How Likely am I to get it? A good likelihood. It is at the local library which is a point in favour. I like a story where a woman starts over.

book coverWhat? London 1943: War and dwindling resources are taking their toll on the staff of Partridge Press. The pressure is on to create new books to distract readers from the grim realities of the war, but Partridge’s rising star, Alice Cotton, leaves abruptly and cannot be found.

Why? Again a review drew me to this book. It’s WW2 and involves some publishing and I think a missing child.

How Likely Am I to get to it? Highly likely as I have it already out from the library. Which doesn’t mean I always will read a book, but when its sitting there I will pick it up if I can.

book coverWhat? Melanie Trenholm and her family navigate the eerie happenings in their town as ghosts threaten to upend their lives once again.

Why? It’s part of a series – #7 that I am reading, but I need to read #6 first. This one publishes later in the year. The final one I believe. It involves ghosts and mystery.

How Likely Am I to get it? 100 % likely. I am invested in reading or listening to this series.

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What? When thirty-nine year old Maria Forssmann wakes up in her seventeen-year-old body, she doesn’t know how she got there. All she does know is she has to get back: to her home in Bienville, Mississippi, to her job as a successful psychiatrist and, most importantly, to her husband, daughters, and unborn son.

Why? Again I read a review for this book and it appealed. It has some time travel and magical realism. Plus it has a women’s fiction feel.

How likely am I go get it? A good likelihood. It’s not at the library, but it is on audiobook at Audible and so I have put it in my Wish list.

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Review

The Stepsisters. Susan Mallery

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Published: Harlequin – Mira
Date: 8th June 2021
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery is a book about sisters. Daisy and Sage are stepsisters, Daisy and Cassidy are half sisters as are Cassidy and Sage. A little complicated but not really. Their relationships with each other didn’t get off to the best of starts.  All thanks really to a mother figure who wasn’t that great at being a mother.

When Cassidy ends up at Daisy’s house after a bad accident, the three sisters have a second chance to discover what being sisters could mean. It is a rather pitted path, fraught with hiccups, very poor decisions and the need to stretch and grow on all their parts.

Daisy’s marriage has hit a rough spot and I have to say I really had no sympathy for the inept, complaining husband who projected all his feelings onto Daisy. He was one of two unlikeable characters in this story.

Each of the women grows considerably in the course of the story, and each finds a satisfying way forward. They change because they communicate with each other, they hang in there and recognise where they got things wrong.  They discover a friendship and a supportive base that would I imagine sustain them for the rest of their lives.

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Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0778331806

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-stepsisters-susan-mallery/1137495093?ean=9780778331803  

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-stepsisters-9780778312031/9780778331803 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778331803 

Libro.fm: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488211577-the-stepsisters 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Stepsisters/Susan-Mallery/9780778331803?id=7843731390040 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/the-stepsisters-by-susan-mallery-paperback/-/A-81262171# 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Stepsisters-Paperback-9780778331803/194267274 

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-stepsisters/9780778331803-item.html 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-stepsisters 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-stepsisters/id1527864349 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Susan_Mallery_The_Stepsisters?id=8bn3DwAAQBAJ 

Review

The Bookstore on the Beach. Brenda Novak

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Published: Harlequin

Date:April 6th 2021

Source: Publicist via NetGalley

Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers—she still has no idea where he went or why. After being happily married for twenty years, she can’t imagine moving forward without him, but for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.

Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort by working alongside her mother and aunt at their quaint bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a life change neither of them saw coming and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into Quinn Vanderbilt—the boy who stole her heart in high school—old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.

The Bookstore on the Beach  follows the story of three women, all related, from three generations. It also includes the people who love and support them – or not.

Mary or Mimi to Taylor and Caden, has had a very bad experience in her past that she has kept secret. Now there are factors that are threatening to have this become more known than she wants.

Autumn her daughter and mother of Caden and Taylor, has been searching for her husband Nick, who has mysteriously gone missing. Now she has fallen for someone else.

Taylor at seventeen, broken hearted from the loss of her Dad does something that has repercussions for herself and those who love her.

Each of these women are at a crisis point in their lives, they have big issues to face and work through. Are they able to? Can they follow their hearts and live true to themselves?

The story is set at a beach side place with a bookstore that doesn’t play a huge part but is there, providing a steady backdrop to the lives of the characters.

I enjoyed the book and it makes for a good heart warming, bittersweet read.

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Book Connections

Garden Books.

I am not a gardener although there are plenty in my family who are and my forebears were gardeners too. Most of my garden is very dry at present, and I do have a small veggie garden. Love picking from that.

There have been quite a few books I’ve read that have almost at centre stage – a garden.

book cover The Unfinished Garden is the author’s debut novel and the only one I hadn’t read of hers until now. Tilly the main woman character is into gardens and garden and loves it. Both in North Carolina where she has a business and in her home in England where she spends some time as well. Then there is James who wants Tilly’s help with a garden for his place. He has OCD and can’t put his hands near the earth. This book I think is titled The Unfinished Garden because a garden is never finished. How true!  Barbara Claypole White always presents a very compassionate stance towards her characters with mental illness and I always love her knowledge and the help she provides her readers to take these people into their hearts.

book coverA Home Like Ours also has a special Australian garden at its centre. It’s very important and brings a community together. My review for this one will be up soon. It was a 5 star read for me.

book coverThis was an engrossing tale, told from a few different viewpoints and times. The story and mystery unfold – the reader has enough clues to see what has happened before the characters. Its both sad and and uplifting. What a complicated family! It involves a kind of secret garden.

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The Garden of Happy Endings  involves sisters and a community garden in a poor part of town. I loved this story, so thoughtful and enjoyable. Loved the  women and each of their stories. Their search and exploration of what makes them happy was important. I especially appreciated Elsa’s journey – her spiritual one and her search for her partner in life. Felt very real and authentic.

book coverThe Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman. Witty and insightful. Wonderful group of characters. Two sisters, well two sets of sisters who made me laugh and at times sad. A group of people who come together around a gardening project and form what I think will be lasting friendships. Tons of good hints about gardening.

There is another book I’ll be wanting to read… The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly which comes well recommended.

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Review

Best Behavior. Wendy Francis

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Publisher: Harlequin
Date: May 5th
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

This story takes place over a weekend that is celebrating the graduation from college for the twins Dawn and Cody. The twins are part of two families, their parents having divorced when they were about twelve.

There is quite a bit of tension surrounding the weekend. Their mother Meredith and step father Joel want to negotiate the days in a way that they will remain calm and sane. Meredith is dealing with the fact that her children are grown up and she is fearing that this is where it all stops for her. They’ll be adults who no longer need her.  Joel has helped raise these two and all he wants to do is see this weekend through with all its potential for chaos.

Roger – the twins’ hot shot lawyer Dad is aiming to give the twins a great time. His young wife Lily is totally wanting to be included in the family, to be accepted and liked. However there is quite some bad vibes coming her way from Dawn and Meredith.  As well Lily is beginning to question her life and needs.

We are given the viewpoints from Meredith, Joel, Cody, Dawn and Lily. As a reader that helps you to understand the fears and anxieties of each of these loveable but flawed characters. I especially liked this aspect of the writing, being able to walk a little while alongside each one.

During the few days things go radically awry, although not in the way I might have first predicted. As the story came to crisis point I was turning the pages to see what would happen.

Review

Life on Loan. Ashley Farley

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Published: Lake Union
Date:October 8th 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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I’ve never read a book by Ashley Farley, but the cover and the book blurb made me suspect this kind of story would be for me. And I must say I was right.

It’s about two women who meet many years after the years in college as friends. It is now the mid years for them when many reassess their priorities and life and often make changes. After all, we have one life and its important to be happy and have that deep down gut feel what we do and who we are is just right.

Lena has had it with her husband and daughter, she has let them walk all over her, suddenly she has had enough and leaves, deciding to take a month to be by herself and sort herself out.

Olivia’s marriage ended a few years back, after a revelation from her husband. She has been running a successful blog, but she is tired of the unnecessary drama of certain aspects of it, and besides she wants to write and test her talents, could she write a novel?

Meeting at an airport they make the decision to exchange places for a month and see where life leads. Olivia finds herself in a lovely cottage by the river right next door to Alastair, a life long friend of Lena’s. He has been through the trauma of loosing his wife and is in a bit of a black hole.  Lena on the other hand finds herself in Charleston and soon awakens in her the delight she has for photography. However this also leads her down some unexpected paths.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and their explorations and taking a second look at their lives. They will find new focus,  a little romance, family bonding and deepening friendships.

I will certainly look out in the future for more books from Ashley Farley.

Review

One Minute Later. Susan Lewis

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Published: William Morrow: Harper Collins
Date: June 11th 2019
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

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One minute you are okay, living a fun filled and fulfilling life – the next minute the unthinkable happens and you are twenty seven and experiencing a heart attack.

That’s what happens to Vivi Shaeger and it turns her world and life upside down. She returns to her home town of Kesterly on Sea and life is very different. To survive she is going to need a new heart. Suddenly life seems fragile and one of the things she wants to find out is – who is her father? But when she does find out what will she think?

The story swings between Vivi and Shelley who lives a generation back – it takes awhile to find the link between the two, but it is there. In one sense it will  give Vivi new heart and love, but what about the actual live beating heart? The story certainly tracks really well all the emotions that a person may experience in such a situation.

This is a story about family, secrets, love, loss and heartbreak. It is also a big plug for organ donation as it makes such a difference in the lives of recipients.

I liked the characters, followed the ups and downs and wondered how it would all turn out. Bittersweet is all I am saying!

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

Home Fires. Fiona Lowe

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Published: Harlequin Australia
Date: 18th February 2019
Genre: Women’s fiction

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I am still dabbing my eyes and swallowing the back taste of smoke as I finish Home Fires by Fiona Lowe. As I read into the book I just couldn’t put it down,  I was drawn into the lives of the people of Myrtle in Victoria, Australia.

We all watch devastating events happening most nights as they play out on our TV screens. As I read this book I am hearing about a fire devastate a town in my own country.  Home Fires explores the terrible destruction of fire that can spring up and engulf a community.

This is a book not only about the horror of fire out of control, but the lives of people both before and after the fire. There is the shock of loss of life and home and animals. Add into that the people who survive and the huge stress that is placed on them. The world forgets them, but they are left to pick up the pieces.

Home Fires presents us with a wonderful group of characters all who are dealing with fire related issues, and issues that were already present and greatly exacerbated by the fire. We see a motley group of people struggle and fall, challenge each other and support each other until… something new arises.

So worth reading! A fabulous Australian setting,a disaster event and the courageous response to it, family upheaval, violence and marriage issues, PTSD, crime, and above all family and community supporting each other. This book has it all. The title of the book is totally apt and the cover gorgeous.

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