The Dazzling Truth by Helen Cullen

Publisher: Harlequin Books
Publication Date: August 18, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

In the courtyards of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1978, aspiring actress Maeve meets pottery student Murtagh Moone. As their relationship progresses, marriage and motherhood come in quick succession, but for Maeve, with the joy of children also comes the struggle to hold on to the truest parts of herself.

Decades later, on a small Irish island, the Moone family are poised for celebration but instead are struck by tragedy. Each family member must find solace in their own separate way, until one dazzling truth brings them back together. But as the Moone family confront the past, they also journey toward a future that none of them could have predicted. Except perhaps Maeve herself.

Review:

Thank you NetGalley, Harlequin Books & Helen Cullen for a copy of this novel exchange for an honest review.

This story follows Maeve and Murtagh Moone over 37 years. They first meet in Dublin at Trinity College where they quickly fall in love, get married and have children. You follow them and their stories to 2005 where tragedy strikes their family. You aren’t sure what’s happening until you start to see what’s been going on in their lives throughout this entire timeline.

I found the beginning to be a little slow. Stories that take place decades ago are very much not my cup of tea, and for that I thought it might’ve just been me. However, after we started to get closer to the reason why the tragedy happened the way it did, it really picked up well.

This story was very original. I loved learning about Maeve and Murtagh. Their stories were separate but together at the same time. Helen Cullen wrote hard hitting topics very well. There were a lot of mental health references that were able to be related to and that was very important for this type of story.

The feelings that this book has is sad, but also hopeful. It’s very sad to see how mental health can affect so much in one’s life, but it’s hopeful to see the potential of getting through these things and watching family come together.

This book reminded me of the movie Across the Universe which is the movie about the Beatles songs written in. It goes through the years, watching the characters, seeing their stories and where they end up all those years later. Sad, but hopeful. This was my first Helen Cullen novel, and even though it is something I normally wouldn’t go for, I’d definitely read another book of hers. The writing was done very well and I’d recommend this book those who really enjoy fiction stories with hard hitting topics.

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson

Publication Date: November 10, 2020
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Books
Rating:
★★★

Bree Leake doesn’t want to be tied down. She’s had more jobs than she can count, and she plans to move as soon as the curtains fall on her less-than-minor stage role at The Barter—the oldest live performance theater in the US. But just when it’s time to move on again, Bree’s parents make her an offer: hold steady for a full year, and they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted—her grandmother’s house. Her dreams are coming true . . . until life at the theater throws her some curve balls.And then there’s Chip McBride—her handsome and infuriating next-door neighbor.

Chip just might be the only person whose stubborn streak can match Bree’s. She would move heaven and earth to have him off her cul-de-sac and out of her life, but according to the bargain she’s struck, she cannot move out of her house and away from the man who’s making her life miserable. So begins Bree’s obsessive new mission: to drive Chip out of the neighborhood—and fast.

Bree isn’t the only one who’s a tad competitive, and Chip is more than willing to fight fire with fire. But as their pranks escalate, the line between love and hate starts to blur—and their heated rivalry threatens to take a hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic new turn.

Review:

Thank you NetGalley, Thomas Nelson Books & Melissa Ferguson for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The Cul-de-Sac War was definitely high-up on my TBR and was one of my most anticipated reads. I’m not sure if was my high expectations, but this novel fell a little flat for me.

I am a romance-fanatic, especially with friends-to-lovers or enemies-to-lovers. This premise had sooooo much potential, but the romance and slow burn fell behind the other things going on in this story. Due to the competitive nature of these characters, they both play a ton of pranks on each other. In the synopsis, it says “the line between love and hate start to blur – and their heated rivalry threatens to take a romantic new turn”. Reading that, it sounds great. However, the pranks took the front seat to this book for me and the romance was in the trunk.

I did find this book heartwarming. It was a very cute concept and I couldn’t even imagine if that were me in Bree’s place. There were a lot of parts where I did laugh out loud. Melissa Ferguson did hit the nail on the head with the comedy of it all.

Overall, this is a book I would definitely recommend to someone who loves clean, slow-burn romances. I would definitely try Melissa Ferguson again, I’m hoping the next time that I can really enjoy it!

A House is a Body by Shruti Swamy

Publication Date: August 11, 2020
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Rating: ★★★

Dreams collide with reality, modernity with antiquity, and myth with identity in the twelve arresting stories of A House Is a Body. In “Earthly Pleasures,” a young painter living alone in San Francisco begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities, and desire and ego are laid bare.

In “A Simple Composition,” a husband’s professional crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy. And in the title story, an exhausted mother watches, hypnotized by fear, as a California wildfire approaches her home. Immersive and assured, provocative and probing, these are stories written with the edge and precision of a knife blade. Set in the United States and India, they reveal small but intense moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.

Review:

Thank you NetGalley, Algonquin Books & Shruti Swamy for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This novel has 12 short stories that take place in the US & India about loss, friendship and love. These stories were very complicated and had a lot of hard-hitting topics. Shruti Swamy wrote this topics well, but I’m not sure that I felt “connected” to any specific story. They haven’t sat with me very long as I am having a hard time recollecting a specific title or premise.

The writing style was very different. These stories were written very choppy. I do recognize that these are short stories, but I wish that they flowed a little better. It was like there was something missing, a slight detail or extra blurb, that would’ve made these stories be exquisite.

Overall, I think that these were written really well, just definitely not for me. I think this was a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” I didn’t feel connected to the stories or characters and I’m wondering if I’m missing something or if it was just part of the story.

Come Again by Robert Webb

Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Narrator(s): Olivia Colman
Rating:
★★★

Kate’s husband Luke — the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago — died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friend and lost her job, and everything is starting to fall apart.

One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992 on the first day of orientation. And this is the day she meets Luke.

Kate knows how he died, and that he’s already ill. But Luke is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy — the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. If they can fall in love again despite everything, she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same…

Review:

Thank you NetGalley, Hachette Audio & Robert Webb for a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

This story surrounds Kate, a woman who suddenly loses her husband tragically. All of a sudden, to Kate’s shock, she wakes up at a point in her past where she can try to save his life. It was a very interesting concept and had me curious right from the beginning.

This book was separated into three parts. In the beginning, we meet Kate in her grief-filled state after losing Luke less than a year prior. I was very happy with how this part was written, as grief is such a hard-hitting topic that needs to be talked about more. Robert Webb wrote this very seriously and very well, as if personally experienced.

The second part of this novel is when Kate gets sent back in time to when they were in college in 1992. The beginning of this part was great, trying to see how Kate would get her future husband interested again and how she could save his life from back then. Towards the end of this part was when this book really slowed down for me.

The third and final part was back in the present time. It was interesting seeing how this part would play out and if any of Kate’s actions effected anything like saving Luke’s life. As much as I wanted to love this part, the second half of this entire book fell a little flat. The writing slowed down.

The narrator of this book, Olivia Colman, did a great job with the story-telling of this novel. I feel like Olivia really understood Kate and portrayed her really well. There were issues that were very serious that could’ve driven a reader/listener away, but the narration of this book was light and kept me interested all the way through.

Overall, this was my first Robert Webb novel, but I don’t think it’s my last. I definitely enjoyed this type of story, I just hope my next story has the writing that keeps me all the way through. I definitely would recommend this to someone who is a mood reader, looking for a sad/hopeful book.

Little Free Love – Charter 103767

Miles away from home: 46 miles.
Time to get there: 57 minutes.

Located in Ocean City, New Jersey. This adorable LFL is found 3 blocks off the beach, surrounded by countless boutiques, restaurants and as many ice cream stores as you could count.

Since I went during the fall, it wasn’t very crowded on this chilly day “down the shore” as we call it here in New Jersey. It took a little over an hour to get there from where I live, but it was well worth it to see all of the LFLs located in this amazing town of Ocean City.

There were a lot of cute books in this LFL. I think my favorite, personally, was the Elin Hilderbrand book, Silver Girl. There was something about seeing that book located in a shore town right on the coast. Definitely gave me the best beach vibes even though we’re in cold territory now in New Jersey.