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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Over The Teacups, Review

Over The Teacups #5

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Why? I have enjoyed all of Kristy Woodson Harvey’s previous books and so of course I would read this one too.

Plot Ansley has three daughters who for all different reasons return home to Peachtree Bluff. Ansley herself (mother) has quite a back story and that is all revealed as the story progresses. The story is told from Ansley’s and daughter Caroline’s point of view. Caroline is deciding what to do as her husband has been unfaithful in a spectacular way. She is very pregnant and has an older daughter of about ten – Viki. Ansley has been dealt a hard card in life but the way she has picked herself up and looked after everyone is outstanding. There is a little plot twist that turns things somewhat as well.

What Appeals to me?

I loved the setting of course and the sisters relationship with each other was a drawcard. Each of the main characters is dealing with difficulties that are definitely quite south of simple! I did like too how Caroline grew as a character. Also that the characters each had their quirks and challenges. I just wish Ansley would think of herself just a little bit more.

And so… I see this is #1 in the Peachtree Bluff series so I am looking forward to catching up with this family in the future.

book coverWhy? I wanted a food memoir to read for the Better World reading challenge and I saw a review for this by Katherine over at I Wish I Lived in a Library.

Plot Well there isn’t one but there is a wonderful accounting of Edward in his nineties and Isabel who is in an unhappy marriage. Isabel visits Edward once a week and partakes in his delicious meals. No recipes but oh my, makes me want to appreciate and taste such food.

What Appeals to Me? The way Edward lives his life so fully in his nineties and his obvious deep love and devotion to his wife who is now dead. He battles with this loss but it does not diminish too much his participation in life. I liked the way Isabel valued the friendship and grew as a person in the time she was able to experience this special relationship.

And so… Very happy to have read it. As one person also pointed out from It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? pointed out there is a great tip for scrambled eggs that she uses to this day. I have yet to try it but I will.

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Why? This has sat on my actual TBR shelf for quite a few years! I was wondering about what to read next and saw there is a bit of a romance in this book while the couple are travelling. Perfect for the Better World reading challenge I thought! Besides I have never read Monica McInerney, but seen noted many good things about her books.

Plot. This is a book about a family! A grown up family who are in the Travel business. There are two men, two women – one of whom came to the family when she was eight – Lara. As a travel tour around Cornwall and Devon is to take place centred on an old TV show, Lara goes missing. Harriet is leading the tour and is worried about Lara as is Austin one of the brothers. So there is a little romance, (Harriet and the star of the TV show) a mystery, secrets and family relationships in the mix.

What Appeals to me? I found it a little slow, but the variety of characters was fun, the mystery and secret kept me going and the whole family aspect with its exploration of loss and grief was interesting. Plus how we often make judgements about others that is quite far from the actual truth.

And so... At some point in time I will be happy to venture into reading another Monica McInerney book .