Review

Summer at the Cape. RaeAnne Thayne.

Summer at the Cape

Published: Harlequin
Date: 12th April 2022
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

“As the older sibling to identical twins Violet and Lily, Cami Porter was always the odd sister out. The divide grew even wider when their parents split up—while the twins stayed in Cape Sanctuary with their free-spirited mother, Rosemary, fourteen-year-old Cami moved to LA with her attorney father. Nearly twenty years later, when Cami gets the terrible news that Lily has drowned saving a child’s life, her mother begs her to return home to help untangle the complicated estate issues her sister left behind.

Navigating their own strained relationship, Cami readjusts to the family and community she hasn’t known for decades, including the neighbor who stands in the way of her late sister’s dream, while Violet grieves the loss of her twin and struggles to figure out who she is now, without her other half, as the little girl Lily saved pulls her back into the orbit of the man she once loved.”

Summer at the Cape is a delightful read and I really enjoyed my time there. 

We meet two sisters Cami and Violet. Two sisters who don’t know each other all that well. When their parents split Cami was left with her Dad and Violet and her twin Lily went with their mother. Now Lily is dead and the family comes together to mourn her and honor her.

There is some drama and tension when Rosemary  – their mother hits a rough spot with the glam tenting experience she has set up is in danger when Franklin and his son seem to not want it. The land is leased from them and Jon thinks his father was taken for a ride.

As the story evolves so do relationships. Violet finds out that Cami is better than she thought. She grieves for her sister, and finds that a person she loved and lost might be found again. Cami too is finding an attraction in rather a surprising person, and even Rosemary and Ted their parents are about to surprise the girls too.

This story is about family, community and caring. It is heartwarming and charming and carries all the good things RaeAnne Thayne brings to her books.

Review

A Family Affair. Robyn Carr. Blog Tour

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Published: Harlequin: Mira
Date: 5th April 2022
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

“Anna McNichol knows how to take charge. Raised by a single mother, she’s worked to ensure her three children have every advantage she didn’t. And while her marriage has its problems, she values commitment and believes in “till death do us part.” Now an empty nester, she’s at the peak of her career and ready to seize the opportunity to focus on her future.

But life can change in an instant, and when her husband dies suddenly, Anna’s carefully constructed world falls apart. The mysterious young woman at the memorial service confirms her husband had been keeping secrets, and Anna is determined to get to the truth.

For once, she doesn’t have the answers. Her kids are struggling with their grief, her mother’s health is in decline and Anna needs closure. Faced with one challenge after another, she finds support from an unexpected source. And as she puts her life back together, Anna realizes the McNichols may not be perfect but they’ll always be family, and family is forever.”

In the aftermath of Chad McNicol’s death, his wife and three adult children go into free fall. It’s a difficult time as they all try to make sense of what is happening in their lives. It’s a shake up time, how will they all deal with it and come through it?

Anna is sorting through her life, what was good and not so good. Most of the story centres on her and the way she gradually comes to terms with all that has happened. Especially as she unearths some secrets.

Jess the eldest daughter, a doctor, is in a relationship crisis, as she expects certain things from others. Are those expectations realistic or do they stem from somewhere else?

Michael has a lovely girlfriend who wants more, but is he capable of meeting her in that good place. Seems not, at least to begin with.

Bess, who needs everything to be in order and seems to be coping until she isn’t.

It explores the whole aftermath of a family in grief at the loss of someone they have loved. What kept this book from being a winner for me, was  that I felt it could have benefited from some tighter editing. Also I felt many of the characters were not developed enough for my taste.

The way the family deals with the loss of Chad comes to a satisfactory conclusion at the end of the year and each person has made sense of where they are at and are ready to be a family.

photoAuthor Bio:

Robyn Carr is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than sixty novels, including highly praised women’s fiction such as Four Friends, The Summer That Made Us and The View from Alameda Island, as well as the critically acclaimed Virgin River, Thunder Point and Sullivan’s Crossing series. Virgin River is now a Netflix original series. Robyn lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit her website at robyncarr.com.

Social Links:
Author Website
Twitter: @RCarrWriter
Facebook: Robyn Carr
Instagram: @robyncarrwriter
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Buy Links: 
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Review

Goodbye Again

Goodbye Again

In the wake of her daughter’s unexplained suicide and her husband Jim’s sudden abandonment, Liddy Bryant is determined to move on and make some positive changes in her life. In her hometown of Wyndham Beach, the neglected and shuttered bookstore is also in need of renewal, and Liddy recognizes an opportunity to get herself and the bookshop back on track. With a little help from her friends, she’s well on her way.

Local contractor Tuck Shelby has been a friend of Liddy’s forever. He’s made himself indispensable in the rehab of her shop—and in her life—but now he wants out of the friend zone. Then Jim returns with a long-overdue apology, hoping for forgiveness and a chance to start over, and Liddy has a life-changing choice to make.

Into a year when Liddy’s faced changes and the shocking truth of a well-kept secret comes not only a second chance at love, but a second chance at life.

Published: Montlake
Date: 8th February 2022
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

In Goodbye Again Mariah Stewart explores the aftermath of a young woman’s suicide, the impact on her parents and the questions why?

As well she shows a deep connection between friends, small town life and building anew after dreams fall apart for some of the characters.

It’s a warmhearted approach and I like how it includes characters from the previous book, in an ongoing way. It explores the rebuilding of a bookshop and plans for an abandoned small house. The part I liked the most was about the uninvited lodger to the bookshop and the owner’s response.There are a couple of touching moments, that were well shown, but there needed to be more.

It’s a good beach read, although to me it was somewhat bland, and I found myself skipping paragraphs. However  I am sure those who enjoy a Mariah Stewart book will welcome it.

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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Susan Mallery  Social Links:

Website:        Facebook:              Twitter:

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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.