Reviews

Book Review: Origin

ORIGIN, By Ana Jolene 

Book Two in the Glory MC series

Release Date: March 14, 2017

origin-ann-jan-2017-cover-without-bike

Blurb:

One drunken kiss ignites an inferno of burning desire. Sworn enemies, Lucky Winters and Seven Douglass struggle to forget the kiss that shouldn’t have happened. Then Lucky’s past comes back to bite him and he suddenly disappears for months, leaving Seven wondering where they both stand.

When Lucky returns, he is a changed man and his prolonged absence means he must once again prove himself to the club he’s sworn his life to. Except Lucky can’t seem to shake off the recent events as much as he wants to.

Seven is no stranger to this feeling. Her own mysterious past threatens to disrupt her future and when neither of them are able to stop the ghosts of their pasts from resurfacing, the only person they can turn to is each other. Suddenly, hatred morphs into love. And where there is fire and ice, there’s bound to be some steam . . .

My Review:

O.k., I must begin with the confession that I wasn’t really sure what I would think of this book. However, once I had read the first page I was completely hooked! My reluctance was based on this being based in the future, a dystopian society suffering from solar flares. Things are now divided into Wards, and this Ward is ruled/governed by a motorcycle gang, Glory MC.  This initially seemed a little on the cheesy side to me but I quickly dropped and forgot about those preconceived notions once I was into Lucky and Seven’s story. 

Lucky is a sexy beast of a man and part of the Glory MC, whereas, Seven is a young woman that challenges huge biker dudes to drinking contests and works in a textile mill a few Wards over after the solar flares destroyed her dreams of becoming a chef. They refer to themselves as fire and ice because of their normal hate-filled banter, but then one night as Lucky drives a drunken Seven home, they share an incredible kiss. Lucky then disappears for 2 months to deal with a family situation, and when he returns he finds himself without an apartment and forced to room with Seven. Their typical fighting continues until they finally stop fighting and actually get to know one another. Once enemies, Lucky and Seven soon begin to realize they are both tortured by their pasts and soon face the feelings they truly gave for each other. 

I must admit that it only took me a few paragraphs to fall in love with Lucky. Yes, he’s a bad-ass biker dude, but also has a serious soft spot for his little sister and starts displaying an enormous caring side for everyone. Seven took a little more warming up to then Lucky. Seven is beautiful and obviously mesmerizing to men, but also seemed to almost cheapen herself a little in the beginning. As the story progressed, however, I came to love her strong and independent character. I can say that I did want Lucky and Seven together from the very beginning and loved as they began to show their softer sides. 

Origin is jam-packed with tons of conflict and drama, being that this is a future kill or be killed society, especially with neighboring Ward leaders. The characters worry about attacks from other groups, worry about having enough food and electricity, and so on… There’s definitely never a dull moment in this book and again, I thought it would be kind of silly at first, but that was not the case at all. The author did a fantastic job blending future world issues with real-life heartache and trauma that can stem from someone’s past. Ana Jolene’s writing is flawless and she provides excellent characterization so that it’s easy to become invested in the characters and their struggles.

Origin embodies a perfect balance of the believable and the unbelievable, making it an absolute pleasure to read. As I’ve already said, this book completely drew me in and I was soooo disappointed when I realized I had reached the end. Note that this book does have a cliffhanger ending but it’s not directly related to the main characters Lucky and Seven. However, it made me absolutely crazy with anticipation to get my hands on the next installment in this series! I am so happy to have read this and sincerely hope author Ana Jolene contacts me again in the future for further reading and reviewing!

*Many thanks to Ana Jolene for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review! 

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Bio:

Ana Jolene is the author of the Glory MC series and the Contemporary Romance series, Moonrise Beach. Growing up as a rebellious kid didn’t allow for much reading time. It wasn’t until she was in university that she found her passion for books and has since then devoured every book placed before her. Ana holds a B.A. in Psychology and has worked in both IT and Administration. But she’s had the most fun in the bookish world, working as a reviewer, columnist and assistant to multiple sites and authors.  Ana currently lives in Toronto with her family and an extremely lazy Shih Tzu whom she adores. To learn more about Ana and her books, subscribe to the newsletter to be notified of the hottest new releases and giveaways!

Website: http://www.anajolene.com

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Book Blitz, Giveaway, Reviews

Whisper of Love Book Tour!

Whisper of Love, by Melissa Foster

 

NEW RELEASE…

Tempest Braden adores her family and her small hometown, but sometimes too much of a good thing can be confining. At almost thirty, having watched most of her siblings find true love, she’s anxious to experience her own happily ever after, and the move to Pleasant Hill, Maryland, is just the change she needs. When she rents a room from ruggedly handsome, and closed-off, artist Nash Morgan and his adorable son, Phillip, she thinks she’s found a little slice of heaven on the outskirts of town, where she can concentrate on building her business. That is, if she can ignore the undeniable heat between her and the sinfully hot single father.

When Nash bought his farmette, he had one goal in mind—to provide a loving, stable home for his son. He never imagined he’d be raising Phillip alone, or renting out a room to keep their heads above water. Then again, he never imagined losing his brother, or spending two years sailing around the world with parents who seemed to forget one son was still alive.

Sparks fly from the moment Tempest moves in, and her positive energy and inquisitive nature brings new life into Nash and Phillip’s quiet, confined world. For the first time in years, Nash wants to let a woman into his world, but while his loss made him stronger, that strength came at a price, leaving him walled off and wary of opening his heart again.

WHISPER ON LOVE is part of the Love in Bloom series. While this can be read as a stand-alone novel, for even more reading enjoyment you may want to read the entire Love in Bloom series in series order.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

My Review:

Once again, author Melissa Foster has written a sweet but sexy romance that will melt your heart! This story is about Tempest Braden who has recently left Peaceful Harbor and moved to Pleasant Hill, hoping to expand her music therapy business. When Tempest can’t deal with her cousin’s up-all-night working, she searches for an inexpensive room to rent, leading her to Nash Morgan. Nash is a sexy, quiet and mysterious artist living on a small farm with his young son, Phillip – and sparks immediately fly between him and Tempest. Not long after moving into Nash’s home, Tempest and Nash find themselves incredibly drawn to one another, and Tempest starts to completely change Nash and Phillip’s world. Quiet and withdrawn Nash must soon face his hurtful past in order to build a future for him, Phillip and Tempest together. 

I have to start with what wonderful characters Melissa Foster has created in Whisper of Love. Tempest is about as perfect a young woman you could find. She’s beautiful, smart, family-oriented, talented, and compassionate. Although trying to move her business more towards children’s music classes, she has spent several years as a music therapist working with patients having cancer, and even playing and singing for a patient in a coma. Nash seems distant initially, but quickly warms up once Tempest is around. Still struggling with his brother’s death, Nash keeps a lot to himself. Moreover, Phillip’s mother left when he was a few months old, and Nash has completely centered his life around caring for Phillip, but to the point where he needs to start letting go a little. I was surprised at how receptive he was to Tempest’s suggestions for Phillip to go to music groups, preschool, etc. considering it had only been Nash and Phillip for three years, but liked that he was open to her ideas. Phillip was absolutely adorable – specifically in the end of the book – which I can’t tell you about but it’s so sweet!

I always love Melissa Foster’s novels and this was no exception. I did find that their story was almost too perfect and too simple at times. This couple had very little conflict to overcome, which was great on one hand, but also seemed to weaken the overall plot on the other hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love HEA novels, but bumps in the road always add to the excitement of the plot. Regardless, Nash and Tempest’s story was wonderful and I particularly loved the interactions between Tempest’s parents and Phillip! Anyone looking to read a feel-good romance, look no further than Whisper of Love. This novel is a feel-good romance that also touches on dealing with pain from the past, as well as, the importance of family. 

*Thanks to Beck Valley Books and Melissa Foster for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Available to buy from …
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Also Available
Healed by Love (Love in Bloom, The Bradens of Peaceful Harbor #1)
Nate Braden has loved his best friend’s younger sister Jewel for as long as he can remember, but between their age difference and his respect for Rick, he’s always kept his feelings at bay. Now he’s back in Peaceful Harbor, and Jewel is no longer sixteen years old—but there’s an even bigger obstacle standing in his way. Nate and Rick joined the military together eight years earlier. Nate came home a hero, but Rick didn’t make it out alive.

HEALED BY LOVE is part of the Love in Bloom series. While this can be read as a stand-alone novel, for even more reading enjoyment you may want to read the entire Love in Bloom series in series order.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from …
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble    KOBO    iBooks   GPlay

Surrender My Love (Love in Bloom, The Bradens of Peaceful Harbor #2)
Annalise “Leesa” Avalon never realized that one sentence could change her life until one of her students revealed his crush–and within twenty-four hours she finds herself under fire. After a grueling investigation that turns her life upside down, she steals away to Peaceful Harbor, Maryland, with a new identity to try to pull herself back together and figure out her next step.

From the outside, Cole Braden lives a charmed life. He’s a top orthopedic surgeon with a thriving practice, strong family ties, and friends he adores. But there’s a lonely spot inside Cole that no one can see. He has an enormous heart–and a painful past–but the desire to love and be loved is too strong to ignore.

A chance encounter brings Leesa and Cole together, and the attraction is immediate and intense. But a relationship is the last thing Leesa needs–and the only thing Cole wants. Long talks, heated moments, and deep connections are hard to resist, but the harder Cole tries, the more Leesa pulls away. Cole might truly be the right man for Leesa, but is Leesa the right woman for him?

SURRENDER MY LOVE is part of the Love in Bloom series. While this can be read as a stand-alone novel, for even more reading enjoyment you may want to read the entire Love in Bloom series in series order.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from …
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River of Love Book (Love in Bloom, The Bradens of Peaceful Harbor #3)
River rafting and adventure company owner Sam Braden works hard and plays harder. He’s fast, focused, and determined—and never at a loss for a willing woman to share his time with. The trouble is, the only woman he wants refuses him at every turn.

Physician assistant Faith Hayes escaped her painful past and built a safe, happy life in Peaceful Harbor. She’s also put what she’s learned to good use helping others by founding Women Against Cheaters, an online support group. When her boss’s sinfully sexy brother sets his sights on sweet Faith, she knows the self-professed player is everything she shouldn’t want, and she’s determined to resist him.

Sam pulls out all the stops, proving to Faith that his past doesn’t have to define his future. As she lets down her guard and begins to trust Sam, intense conversations turn to intimate pleasures. But when real life steps in and their pasts collide, it’s Faith who’s left with something to prove.

RIVER OF LOVE is part of the Love in Bloom series. While this can be read as a stand-alone novel, for even more reading enjoyment you may want to read the entire Love in Bloom series in series order.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from …
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Crushing on Love (Love in Bloom, The Bradens of Peaceful Harbor #4)
Steve Johnson is living his life’s passion watching over the Colorado Mountains as a ranger and wildlife consultant. But his peaceful life is upended when overzealous and insanely beautiful Shannon Braden flits back into his life after returning from a brief trip home to Maryland. He thought his attraction to her was under control—after all, she’s only in Colorado temporarily, and he doesn’t do casual affairs.

Shannon’s return to Colorado has as much to do with the game of cat and mouse she and Steve have been playing as it does the data she’s been hired to collect. But despite her efforts to explore the undeniable heat simmering between them, Steve’s intent on keeping his distance.

When a ranch abutting the national park goes up for sale, Steve will do whatever it takes to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. And when all his attempts fail, he’s left with no alternative but to follow Shannon’s guidance into the online world he abhors in order to raise the funds. The more time they spend together, the deeper their attraction becomes, and a game of cat and mouse turns into an unstoppable connection. But when Shannon’s assignment comes to an end, will it mean an end to them, too?

CRUSHING ON LOVE is part of the Love in Bloom series. While this can be read as a stand-alone novel, for even more reading enjoyment you may want to read the entire Love in Bloom series in series order.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from…
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble    KOBO    iBooks   GPlay

About the author
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance (M/F, M/M, F/F), romantic suspense, thrillers, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success.

Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on Facebook or her personal website.

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Photobucket I received this book through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

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Reviews

Book review: My Kind of Crazy

My Kind of Crazy, By Anna Chastain

Publication: July 30, 2015

my-kind-of-crazySynopsis: Reunited and it feels so…good?

Cash Brady was Sadie Martin’s first love. Actually, he was her only love, but she’d ended their long-distance relationship during a tough first year of college and now she is back in their hometown, having graduated, and on the cusp of the rest of her life. It doesn’t take long for things to get confusing between the two of them amidst parental illness, a hormonal, pregnant sister and her wild family, best friend interference, ex-drama, and a car that just won’t start (not to mention Sadie’s dysfunctional to-do lists). But Sadie is nothing, if not determined, to get her life on track…even if everything has to get a little messy first.

First love. Second chances. This is Cash and Sadie’s story.

**A companion novel to The Good Side of Crazy, but can absolutely be read as a standalone**

My Review:

Oh, how I love this family and these sisters! After reading The Good Side of Crazy, I shamelessly begged author Anna Chastain for My Kind of Crazy because I just had to know what happened next with Sadie. What a fantastic read!

The first novel leaves off with things finally becoming somewhat normal and peaceful for Shae and Sadie after the death of their Dad and Shae becoming Sadie’s guardian. My Kind of Crazy fast forwards 4-5 years after Sadie has broken up with her bad boy, Cash, graduated college and returned home to sell her parents home and devise some sort of life/career plan. Shae and Adam are expecting their 3rd child and Sadie’s best friend, Sophie is coming home from Europe, but the main thing invading Sadie’s mind is coming face to face with Cash again and dealing with her feelings. Although she’s quite cold at first, things quickly change in a way I never expected, making this another wonderfully romantic, hilarious and heart-warming novel from Anna Chastain. 

If you read my review of The Good Side of Crazy then you know I fell in love with Shae and Sadie immediately, feeling certain that they had to be long lost family members of mine. I love the quirky and often inappropriate sense of humor and banter between them, and just find them to be such real characters. I loved that this novel was from Sadie’s perspective and portrayed the beautiful and wonderful young woman that she had become. There were times I was a bit surprised by her hot and cold thing with Cash, but otherwise, I thought she was fabulous. Luckily the reader gets to know Cash better in this novel, as well as, his sweet mom. Cash also seems on the fence or torn at the beginning of the novel, but we quickly see his sweet and romantic side. 

I fell in love with the first novel because of the realistic and relatable plot and characters, and My Kind of Crazy did not disappoint! Anna Chastain is the master of bringing real-life messes, happiness and craziness to life and completely drawing the reader in. The characters are real, raw and emotional and she portrays happy moments along with moments that will make you cringe – all equalling real-life. This author offers such a refreshing type of fiction that you can not only relate to but will quite possibly make you feel better about something insane that you have said or done recently because she reminds you that life is not a perfect little package. 

I cannot recommend this author enough to lovers of coming of age, romance, women’s fiction, etc., etc! My Kind of Crazy is another example of Anna Chastain’s ability to make her reader’s life, cry, and enjoy the ride through her crazy stories!

*Many thanks to author Anna Chastain for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase My Kind of Crazy on Amazon!

Reviews

Book Review: The Good Side of Crazy

THE GOOD SIDE OF CRAZY,

BY ANNA CHASTAIN

PUBLICATION: FEBRUARY 18, 2014

good-sideSynopsis: Shae Martin has been called up for duty, guardian duty. When her dad and stepmother are killed in a car accident, Shae is called up as guardian of her 15-year-old sister, Sadie. It wasn’t that long ago that Shae, herself, was a teenager; but you’d think, based on her current relations with Sadie, that it had been a millennia Shae struggles to balance being a “pseudo-mama” to a teenager, back to living in a small town, in her estranged father’s home, with dating and career and her sanity. Sadie’s assistant principal, Adam MacCallum, is entirely too delectable for Shae to pass up on, whether or not Sadie approves; and Sadie’s bad-boy, Cash, is the thorn in Shae’s side that just won’t go away. So the question is, can these women navigate the many facets of love in their lives, and resolve to settle their futures without killing/maiming/deleting, or becoming each other’s worst enemies in the process?

My Review:

Oh my goodness, not sure where to begin with this absolute gem of a book! Shae must return to her hometown after her Dad and Stepmom die in an accident and Shae is named as the guardian of Sadie, her 15-year-old half-sister. At 28, but wonderfully immature, Shae feels like she should be able to easier relate and get through to Sadie, but is continuously met with challenges. When called to the school after Sadie gets in trouble – again – Shae meets the adorably sexy Adam McCallum, Sadie’s assistant principal, and sparks immediately fly between them. This story follows Shae and Sadie during the difficult first year after the accident and all of their ups and downs getting used to Shae being Sadie’s guardian.

Shae was the ultimate character in my eyes. She was a wonderful mix of brains, beauty and a quick, smart-ass wit. The author presents Shae in such a straightforward and honest way it’s almost impossible not to relate to her. I loved Sadie also, who was very similar to Shae but in a quieter, brooding teenager way. Their story brought back so many memories (several cringeworthy) of my own acting-out days in high school, but luckily, Sadie’s mischievous ways also reminded Shae that she too had been that age once and made plenty of poor decisions. When they were getting along it was great and hilarious at times, but even when they were at odds, there was still the lingering emotion and love between them. There are a few times in the novel when Shae is very upset and/or worried concerning Sadie and Shae literally just loses it. On one hand, it’s almost uncomfortable but the way the author portrayed Shae’s raw emotion was truly spectacular.  Some may find her reactions a bit over the top or inappropriate as far as her prominent use of 4 letter words, but I could easily see myself reacting in a similar manner and empathized with the situation(s).  Adam was smart, funny and adorable the entire novel, luckily very good with teenagers and very reassuring when Shae was overwhelmed. He had a very casual ability to emphasize the positive things when Shae, Sadie, or really anyone was focusing too much on the negative things. His cheesy pick-up lines were fantastic and I loved how sweet and romantic he was. I definitely have a crush on Adam, in case you can’t tell.

I not only loved the characters in this novel, but just the overall plot and action of the story. This is a very possible and believable situation and the author did a perfect job of focusing on the challenges, victories and just the laugh out loud funny moments. Especially a moment with Shae’s Mom eating grated cheese 🙂 Anna Chastain’s writing is wonderful but not over the top. This is the type writing that I love because I feel like I’m sitting listening to a conversation live and in person rather than reading a book. The character’s all happily owned their flaws while being accepting of each others’ flaws which added plenty of humor in the novel. There was also a natural but entertaining rise in the action with some subplots, but nothing that didn’t enhance the story. As things go from bad to good to worse to good again, and so on, the author slowly reveals the inside thoughts, regrets, fears, and guilt of the characters making the story incredibly moving. I found myself laughing and crying throughout the story that I was unable to put down once I started.

This was my first time reading anything from Anna Chastain but hope that it will not be the last. What an incredible author to not only take on this subject matter in a novel but to absolutely nail it with this unique and inspiring story.  I don’t have specific groups or tastes in reading as far as recommending this novel, it’s just one of those that everyone should read. You will be oh so happy that you did and will be thinking of Shae and Sadie long after you’ve reached the final page. 

*Many, many, many thanks to the talented Anna Chastain for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!!! 

Purchase The Good Side of Crazy from Amazon!!!

Reviews

Book Review: Just the Two of Us

JUST THE TWO OF US: A HEARTFELT NOVEL ABOUT FINDING LOVE IN UNEXPECTED PLACES, BY GEORGIE CAPRON

PUBLICATION: ARIA; FEBRUARY 1, 2017

just-the-2-of-usSynopsis: 

Lucy is the wrong side of thirty and tormented daily by the idyllic family pictures cluttering up her Facebook newsfeed. All of her friends seem to be getting married and having babies, and yet here she is, resolutely single, and no prospect of creating the perfect family she’s always dreamt of.

How she longs for it to be her turn.

But finding love is complicated, and as time passes she wonders if there might just be another way to make her dreams come true. Is she brave enough to go it alone, or is the fantasy of ‘baby makes three’ just too precious to give up on?

 

 

My Review:

Let me begin by saying I loved this novel, although I was incredibly annoyed by the main character, Lucy, at times. And I’m also unsure about the title, given the full scope of the book, but I’ll let that go. Considering I’m on marriage #3 (which I thank God for daily), I was a bit put off by this book and Lucy’s obsession with getting married and having kids. I get that she was in her thirties and hearing the biological clock ticking, but I figured out fairly early that she was more concerned with getting married and having kids rather than being concerned about finding her soulmate. 

Like Lucy, I was quickly smitten with Alex, but I also quickly noticed how detached he was. But I must admit I instantly fell in love with Rory and that has not changed since finishing this book. Where can I get a Rory? In my mind, I picture an older Jeffrey Dean Morgan from P.S. I Love You, and I want to know where I can get my own! Anyhow, the storyline isn’t incredibly unique about a single woman in London wanting a husband and kids, but still, I loved the story. It reminded me of Kate Winslet in The Holiday with Lucy being attracted to her unavailable boss, but in a way it reminded me of plenty of books and movies that have already been done with the same old story of a woman wanting a hubby and kids, but no – scratch the hubby because that isn’t going to happen, etc. I hate to be so single minded, but I think that Rory and his dog, Rufus are what kept this story alive for me. I feel like I’m repeatedly contradicting myself with positives and negatives, but that’s honestly how I feel!

I absolutely loved Georgie Capron’s easy flow in her writing, and I loved how she developed Lucy so completely, almost making her raw and exposed.  Although I perceived Lucy to be very needy…  But I must comment that included in this novel is one of the funniest things I have EVER read, involving a fat roll-loving blind date and a piece of cheese! Just the Two of Us completely held my attention and it was a great read, but I felt overwhelmed with the theme of needing and wanting a man and a baby, and I also got lost at times with Lucy’s visits to see all of her family – who in the hell gets that much vacation time from their job?? 

I feel like I’m all over the place so let me try to sum this up. I enjoyed the book and was totally into it. The plot was not unique but still held my interest. I think that Rory made the entire book and I will probably dream about him tonight. If you love a jumbled up romance/women’s fiction novel  – then you will like this book! This is the author’s debut novel and I think she is off to a great start 🙂

*Thanks to Aria and NetGalley for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Learn more about author Georgie Capron by visiting her web page! 

Purchase Just the Two of Us on Amazon! 

 

Reviews

Book Review: Life After

LIFE AFTER, BY KATIE GANSHERT

PUBLICATION: WATERBROOK; APRIL 18, 2017

life-afterSynopsis: Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why?Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

My Review:

I just finished an entertaining and moving read, Life After, by Katie Ganshert. This was not at all what I expected when choosing it to review, but overall I really enjoyed it. 

Autumn Manning is the only survivor of a train explosion in Chicago, and a year later she is still struggling with enormous guilt. Depression has overtaken her life and changed her socially, romantically and professionally to the point where family members staged an intervention urging her to see a therapist. What no one else knows is that Autumn has been receiving letters from a family member of one of the people that died on the train. Paul Elliott is a successful therapist and writer living with his two children Reese and Tate and helping them move on from their mother’s death on the train a year ago. He certainly doesn’t want reminders of that day and of losing his wife, but suddenly finds himself thrown together with Autumn Manning. As Autumn looks for ways to honor those who died and work through her guilt, both her and Paul find themselves trying to help Reese with her grief while also learning secrets about each other, as well as, having secrets revealed. 

I loved the author’s pacing with the plot of this novel, the development of the characters and revealing of several twists and turns. This was definitely not a boring read and truly one that I would have finished in one sitting if I had been able (but life happens and we occasionally have to set down our books). Autumn’s guilt and emotions were very raw and honest, although at times I sort of agreed with her family wanting to tell her to snap out of it. Paul was a fabulous character working very hard to love his children, give them a happy life and keep a secret about his life. He was loving, patient, kind, generous – but also was very human and could blow up when he felt his happy home life with his children was being threatened. There were many wonderful supporting characters, mostly family members of Autumn or Paul, that also added depth to the novel. 

This was a wonderful story about moving on from trauma and heart break, as well as, the damage that can occur when secrets are kept. Paul, Autumn and even Reese learn great lessons in this novel about being yourself and allowing others to accept you, rather than living in fear of being judged.  I must admit, and not trying to be sacrilegious, I was a little overwhelmed at times with the religious references and aspects of the novel. There was nothing wrong with it per se, however, I didn’t realize that it was Christian fiction until I received the book and began reading it. The book would have worked fine with less of those references, not that they were bad references, I just felt it was a bit overdone throughout the book. 

My favorite thing about this novel is how well you get to know each of the characters, as well as the wonderful addition of suspense scattered throughout the story. There were several moments I did not see coming, but everything was relatable and made the story even harder to put down. There are also countless, sweet moments between the characters – especially Paul and Pop playing chess 🙂 Lover’s of women’s fiction, especially Christian fiction, should really enjoy Life After with its fast-paced and emotional story!

*Thanks to Blogging for Books for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Learn more about Katie Ganshert by visiting her web page. 

 

Reviews

Review: Forever is the Worst Long Time

FOREVER IS THE WORST LONG TIME, by Camille Pagán

PUBLICATION: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING; FEBRUARY 7, 2017

forever

Synopsis: 

When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.

When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.

My Review:

I cannot believe that this was my first time reading Camille Pagán, but unfortunately, I have to admit that it was! What an incredible author and amazing storyteller! Forever is the Worst Long Time is a novel full of happiness, laughs, heartbreak, and a lot of tears. James meets and instantly falls in love with Lou when he visits his lifelong friend, Rob. The problem is, Lou is engaged to Rob and they seem insanely in love. James accepts that he can never have Lou and tries to carry on with his life, but he’s unsuccessful at teaching, struggles with writing his first novel, and has a horrible time with dating and relationships (because of his feelings for Lou). After Rob and Lou’s relationship falls apart, it looks like there is a chance for James and Lou – which would also destroy James’ friendship with Rob. Although not a “couple,” the author follows James, Lou, and their own definition of family over the years with a lot of twists and turns along the way. 

This novel is told from James’ point of view and his character is well-developed. At times I found him too self-deprecating, but that seemed to improve over the course of the novel. James experiences many highs and many lows, but a solid theme in the novel is one that he missed on some relationships and experiences because of the way he put Lou on a pedestal. I started out liking Rob and Lou separate and as a couple, but she quickly went from being very interesting, creative and independent to terminally unhappy and Rob showed an incredibly selfish side.  Rob was aware of Lou’s unhappiness but unwilling to really work at the relationship, as to where James would have ripped out one of his organs and handed to it her if she had requested that he do so. When Nora is introduced into the story, I was sort of on the fence about her, but I ended up really appreciating the dynamics between her and James, especially towards the ending. 

Forever is the Worst Long Time has a completely “rip your heart out” turn of events and I will admit that I shed several tears reading it. And FYI, I will cry at the drop of the hat whether it’s a movie or just a commercial, but I rarely cry while reading. Anyway, it was a completely unexpected twist in the plot and honestly broke my heart, but I love that the author put as positive a spin on it that she could – making it more of a dedication and lesson, rather than just focusing on the sadness. I took away several things from reading this novel, but mainly that love can change or be different than what we expected, but it is still love. Also, not all families look the same. There doesn’t have to be a married couple with children in order to make a family, it’s who we choose to keep closest to us and those that mean the most. Finally, forgiveness – both wishing for it or wishing you could give it – is a prominent theme in the novel. Although often easier said than done, the author painted a wonderful picture of the joy and peace that comes along with forgiving and being forgiven.

Camille Pagán has forever touched me with this story and it is now on my list of all-time favorite novels. The development of the characters and the raw emotion that was conveyed made this a delight to read. The plot was well-developed with surprises, celebrations and disappointments, but wasn’t overdone with unnecessary events or characters. This novel left me feeling that good things happen in our lives, as well as, bad things, but what we do with our life overall and the love that we give and receive is what ultimately matters.

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase Forever is the Worst Long Time on Amazon!  

Learn more about Camille Pagán by visiting her web page. 

Reviews

Book review: Laura’s Dream

LAURA’S DREAM: A CAPE HARRIET NOVELLA, BY ROMA BROOKS

PUBLICATION: MARCH 12, 2017

laura

Synopsis: Book 4 of the much loved Cape Harriet series promises clean sweet romance in a beach setting, yummy food with recipes and small town charm.
Connor Brown is exhausted and sleepy after his cross country drive. He brakes, just in the nick of time, but the damage is done. Amy is working two jobs, slaving to make ends meet. Her hopes of winning the Annual Flower Show are dashed when a stranger almost plows into her house. After giving him a piece of her mind, she learns he’s sticking around for a while.

Laura’s Dream is a sweet, contemporary story of two people who start off on the wrong foot, but then find common ground. Will the magic of Cape Harriet make them believe in a happy ending?

 

My Review:

This is my 4th time reading and reviewing Roma Brooks’ Cape Harriet series and Laura’s Dream was just as fabulous as all of the others in the series but is definitely unique!

Connor Brown has had a horrible year filled with drama and heartbreak in all aspects of his life, but now he’s traveling from Kentucky to Cape Harriet after friends gifted him a week’s stay at the Rising Tides Inn. Unfortunately, when he’s not far from the inn and exhausted from driving, a woman and her dog step in front of his car causing him to swerve and destroy Amy’s precious rose garden – complete with a special hybrid rose created by her and her grandmother. Connor quickly settles into the Rising Tides Inn, loving the hospitality and delicious food provided by Pete and Zadie – until he learns that Zadie and Amy are friends and that she keeps popping up everywhere he goes. Slowly they begin to call a truce and wonder if there could be something more between them. 

This story was so different from anything I’ve read recently, mainly because of the main character, Connor. So often in books, we read about women being wronged by husbands, etc. but Laura’s Dream tells about the wrongs done to Connor and his struggles personally, professionally and financially. Connor is rightfully moody in the beginning, but quickly shows a much softer side that has you rooting for him to have a happily ever after! I had difficulty connecting with Amy at first because she was so rude and ruthless in how she treated Connor because of his driving into her roses. It seemed overly childish at times, but I tried to empathize because of it being a connection between her and her ailing grandmother. As always, I loved the innkeepers, Pete and Zadie – especially her ongoing desire to play matchmaker with her guests!

Laura’s Dream is a very quick read that hooks you from the first sentence. There is plenty of conflict and subplots to grab your attention, but nothing over the top or unrealistic. Once again, Roma Brooks’ writing has made me wish there was a real Rising Tides Inn so that I could disappear there forever! She evokes so many images and emotions with her descriptions that you can close your eyes and imagine lying on the beach at the Inn or sitting in the kitchen eating a huge, hearty breakfast. Besides writing sweet, clean romance stories, I love that Brooks includes recipes for some of the dishes mentioned in the story. These books will make your stomach growl several times with the author’s delicious descriptions of some of the food Zadie feeds her guests. 

This is a great read for romance fans, but also for foodies who can enjoy reading about Zadie’s cooking and how she makes her guests feel so special and part of the family with her scrumptious food and drinks! Although this is Book 4 in the Cape Harriet series, it can be read as a standalone, but you will probably understand more if you read Clipper Beach first, which provides a lot of Pete and Zadie’s history. 

*Thanks to Roma Brooks for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Pre-Order Laura’s Dream on Amazon!

Posts

What Am I Reading?

Happy Thursday! Here are the titles I am planning on reading and reviewing this week 🙂 

Laura’s Dream: A Cape Harriet Novella, by Roma Brooks

Publication: March 12, 2017

laura

Synopsis: Book 4 of the much loved Cape Harriet series promises clean sweet romance in a beach setting, yummy food with recipes and small town charm.
Connor Brown is exhausted and sleepy after his cross country drive. He brakes, just in the nick of time, but the damage is done. Amy is working two jobs, slaving to make ends meet. Her hopes of winning the Annual Flower Show are dashed when a stranger almost ploughs into her house. After giving him a piece of her mind, she learns he’s sticking around for a while.

Laura’s Dream is a sweet, contemporary story of two people who start off on the wrong foot, but then find common ground. Will the magic of Cape Harriet make them believe in a happy ending?

Life After, by Katie Ganshert

Publication: Waterbrook; April 18, 2017

life-afterSynopsis: Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

Forever is the Worst Long Time, by Camille Pagan

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; February 7, 2017

foreverSynopsis: 

When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.

When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.

The Good Side of Crazy, by Anna Chastain

Publication: February 18, 2014

good-sideSynopsis: Shae Martin has been called up for duty, guardian duty. When her dad and stepmother are killed in a car accident, Shae is called up as guardian of her 15-year-old sister, Sadie. It wasn’t that long ago that Shae, herself, was a teenager; but you’d think, based on her current relations with Sadie, that it had been a millennia Shae struggles to balance being a “pseudo-mama” to a teenager, back to living in a small town, in her estranged father’s home, with dating and career and her sanity. Sadie’s assistant principal, Adam MacCallum, is entirely too delectable for Shae to pass up on, whether or not Sadie approves; and Sadie’s bad-boy, Cash, is the thorn in Shae’s side that just won’t go away. So the question is, can these women navigate the many facets of love in their lives, and resolve to settle their futures without killing/maiming/deleting, or becoming each other’s worst enemies in the process?

Just the Two of Us: A heartfelt novel about finding love in unexpected places, by Georgie Capron

Publication: Aria; February 1, 2017

just-the-2-of-usSynopsis: 

Lucy is the wrong side of thirty and tormented daily by the idyllic family pictures cluttering up her Facebook newsfeed. All of her friends seem to be getting married and having babies, and yet here she is, resolutely single, and no prospect of creating the perfect family she’s always dreamt of.

How she longs for it to be her turn.

But finding love is complicated, and as time passes she wonders if there might just be another way to make her dreams come true. Is she brave enough to go it alone, or is the fantasy of ‘baby makes three’ just too precious to give up on?

 

 

Happy reading and let me know if there is something that I should add to my TBR list!

Reviews

Book Review: The Little Voice

THE LITTLE VOICE: A REBELLIOUS NOVEL, BY JOSS SHELDON

PUBLICATION: NOVEMBER 23, 2016

little-voice

 

Synopsis:  Dear reader,

My character has been shaped by two opposing forces; the pressure to conform to social norms, and the pressure to be true to myself. To be honest with you, these forces have really torn me apart. They’ve pulled me one way and then the other. At times, they’ve left me questioning my whole entire existence.

But please don’t think that I’m angry or morose. I’m not. Because through adversity comes knowledge. I’ve suffered, it’s true. But I’ve learnt from my pain. I’ve become a better person.

Now, for the first time, I’m ready to tell my story. Perhaps it will inspire you. Perhaps it will encourage you to think in a whole new way. Perhaps it won’t. There’s only one way to find out…

Enjoy the book,

Yew Shodkin

My Review:

This is probably one of the most challenging reviews I’ve ever written, but let me give it a try! This was an odd read that was full of things that I loved and hated, however, I’m at a loss about whether I liked it, loved it, hated it, or indifferent – if that makes sense.

The Little Voice is about a young boy named Yew, whom we meet when he is 6 years old. Yew has accepted the fact that a little creature named the Egot lives inside of his head, but one day when Yew is 6, the Egot speaks to Yew for the first time. The best way to describe the Egot would be the analogy of an angel on one shoulder and the devil on your other. Egot really isn’t evil, but strongly encourages Yew to do things that lead to negative consequences. For example, when Yew is following the rules at school and doing as he’s told, Egot convinces Yew that he would have much more fun doing this, or that he would feel free if he did that – which typically were things that landed Yew in trouble. The majority of his youth and adolescence he chooses to conform and do as he’s told, but then in adulthood, he starts behaving again as he had when the Egot would tell him what to do, although the Egot had died. Yew then goes through several ups and downs, finally finding some sort of peace. 

For the majority of this novel, I just kept asking myself what made this a unique or different story. A child battling between whether to do good and be rewarded or to do bad and be punished is not a new or different concept. The Egot living in his head was quite different and creative, although I’m torn about whether that was just amplifying a child’s overactive imagination or a true sign of mental illness. I felt like the author was personally supportive of non-conforming behaviors, although he clearly recognized and stated the potential negative outcomes. So what was the lesson? Be good and behave within the realm of societal norms but you may not be happy, or be “free” and do as you please but suffer personal/professional/legal/health consequences? I honestly don’t know which point the author was trying to make if, in fact, he does have a strong opinion one way or the other. However, I completely dispute the notion that one can’t lead a happy and fulfilling life because they choose to conduct themselves in a way considered acceptable by society. Moreover, who is to say you can’t be happy living a life acting against societal norms and expectations? I suppose it depends on the individual person and how they define “happiness.”

The Little Voice is filled with bits of history of psychology, tests, and theories – but at times they became tedious to get through. But that could also be that I was a psych major and have worked in special education and in mental health, so it wasn’t new information. I did really enjoy Joss Sheldon’s writing, finding it an easy to read but high-level prose, even when I didn’t agree with what I was reading. I don’t think there is anything groundbreaking or really “rebellious” about the novel, but fans of more obscure plots and themes may really enjoy this novel. An overall summation would be recognizing right and wrong and choosing which path to follow. Although this is a universal theme that the majority of people have had to struggle with, the author made it seem as if Yew was special in some way to be facing this battle, although I’m not sure why. 

*Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

Learn more about Joss Sheldon by visiting his web page. 

Purchase The Little Voice on Amazon.