That Summer in Maine by Brianna Wolfson

Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★

Years ago, during a certain summer in Maine, two young women, unaware of each other, met a charismatic man at a craft fair and each had a brief affair with him. For Jane it was a chance to bury her recent pain in raw passion and redirect her life. For Sue it was a fling that gave her troubled marriage a way forward.

Now, sixteen years later, the family lives these women have made are suddenly upended when their teenage girls meet as strangers on social media. They concoct a plan to spend the summer in Maine with the man who is their biological father. Their determination puts them on a collision course with their mothers, who must finally meet and acknowledge their shared past and join forces as they risk losing their only daughters to a man they barely know.

Review:

Thank you to Brianna Wolfson, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this book as a participant of the 2020 Summer Reads Blog Tour.

That Summer in Maine is a story that alternates between past and present. There are three narrators, Susie, Jane, and Hazel. In the past, two women, Susie and Jane, meet a man named Silas during a trip to Maine. Susie and Jane have two different relationships with Silas. Jane gets caught up in a whirlwind romance until she finds out that Silas slept with another woman. Susie was happy in her marriage, but she ended up sleeping with Silas as a one-night stand. Both of these resulted in unexpected pregnancies.

Sixteen years later, Jane’s daughter, Hazel is contacted online by another sixteen year old, Eve, saying that they are sisters. Of course, to anyone, this would come as a shock, but especially to a sixteen year-old girl. Eve had already met Silas and spent the summer with him the previous year. Eve invites Hazel and with Hazel’s current predicament with her mother having twins and no time for her, she accepts.

This book was a very beautiful telling about something that truly can happen within a family. Hazel feels like she’s being replaced because her mother got married and had twin boys. She is unable to feel heard with her mother and doesn’t feel as though she’s a part of that family. She feels like she’s an outsider. With the age gap between her and the twin boys, she finds it hard to fit in with her mother’s “new family”. I think people with siblings that have an age gap definitely could find this book relatable.

There was a lot about this book that I wanted to love. I had a hard time finding any development within the characters except for Hazel. Eve and Hazel are both supposed to be sixteen and I found myself thinking that their ages were not even close to the same. Hazel portrayed herself as a child almost. Eve seemed like a mean girl, but not like “high-school” mean. I found her seeming older than sixteen while I was reading it. It was hard to relate because they didn’t seem the same age. I really didn’t like the characters either. I did towards the end when I saw why they acted the way that they did. However, it was a little hard reading this not liking the characters until the end.

I did like that this was a story between mothers and daughters. It was almost like it was two stories in one book. I learned about the mother’s stories and what happened and what they would do or wouldn’t do differently. I got to see the outcomes from sixteen years of secrets. That alone was pretty interesting as a premise of the story.

Overall, I think more people should give this book a chance. The characters aren’t that likable until the end, but once you see the background development, you’ll like the ending and how everything plays out. I definitely would read Brianna Wolfson again as this was my first novel by her. If you are looking for a quick, feel-good family story, definitely pick this one up!





Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr

Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★★

Sometimes the happiness we’re looking for has been there all along…

Adele and Justine have never been close. Born twenty years apart, Justine was already an adult when Addie was born. The sisters love each other but they don’t really know each other.

When Addie dropped out of university to care for their ailing parents, Justine, a successful lawyer, covered the expenses. It was the best arrangement at the time but now that their parents are gone, the future has changed dramatically for both women.

Addie had great plans for her life but has been worn down by the pressures of being a caregiver and doesn’t know how to live for herself. And Justine’s success has come at a price. Her marriage is falling apart despite her best efforts.

Neither woman knows how to start life over but both realize they can and must support each other the way only sisters can. Together they find the strength to accept their failures and overcome their challenges. Happiness is within reach, if only they have the courage to fight for it.

Review:
Thank you to Robyn Carr, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this as a part of the Harlequin Blog Tour.

Robyn Carr really knows how to tug on your heart strings. I’m definitely someone who can get emotional easily, but Robyn Carr really got me with this one. This was a feel-good story about love, loss, and sisterhood.

First, Addie and Justine have a very interesting story. At 20 years apart, they never really had a sisterly relationship. Justine is a successful lawyer and her husband stays at home with their two daughters. Adele dropped out of college when she had a relationship go wrong and then she became a caretaker for her parents. This relationship was believable because there really are instances like that where there are significant age gaps between two siblings. The relationship that they had were more friendly than sisterly and I could really could see that happening in real life.

Now that Addie is done being a caretaker for her parents, she is in a panic of what to do with her life since that took up all of her time and she doesn’t have a degree. Justine’s life is falling apart around her as well and needs to decide on what she wants to do with her life. As they are going through similar life changes, the sisters really rely on each other. I loved the fact that this was a sister-friendly story. It was nice to see sisters relying on each other in such a hard time in their lives, especially because they are so far apart in their lives. Robyn Carr made both Addie, Justine and her daughters extremely relatable and I really liked that.

Robyn Carr did a great job identifying the issues in this novel and showing an ending to every single one of them. I didn’t have any questions at the end of who went where or how a situation ended up. This definitely was a feel-good novel about overcoming obstacles. There were many problems shown in this novel, but I didn’t think it was overdone or too much.

Finally, Robyn Carr wrote about something that isn’t mentioned enough. I won’t spoil it or give it away, but I was surprised to read about this situation. It was definitely unexpected, but a good surprise. This situation isn’t talked about enough and almost holds a “stigma” for it. I’m glad that this was written in here because it made this story that much more interesting!

The only reason why I didn’t give Sunrise on Half Moon Bay a five-star rating was the fact that there were somethings that seemed repetitive. There were somethings already explained or talked about, and they got repeated throughout the novel. I understand the concept of really driving it home, but this kind of took away from the story.

Overall, this was my first Robyn Carr novel, but definitely not my last. I fell in love with the way Robyn Carr writes, and how she makes everything in her stories come to life.

Harlequin Ebook Sale – Now through 6/30!

Harlequin Books is hosting an ebook sale now through Tuesday 6/30/2020!


There are over 250 ebooks on sale for only $1.99! Some ebooks on sale right now:

I’ve personally have read three of these off this list and liked them! Those reviews can be found here:

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Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Rating: ★★★

Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s Magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits – staff and guests alike.

But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning. Now, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda goes back to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unraveling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel and discovers that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all … Mothers and daughters … their story can be complicated … it can also turn out to have a happy ending.

Review:

Thank you to Ruth Hogan, HarperCollins & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I have heard great things about Ruth Hogan which had me requesting her new novel on NetGalley. I never read a novel of hers before, but I will say that if I choose to, I hope they’re as good as everyone says they are.

There were a lot of important topics that are in Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel. The themes of secrets, anxiety, depression and family were very hard to miss in this novel. If you have mental issues relating to mothers, high anxiety / depression, or other mental health related issues like OCD, I wouldn’t jump right onto this book. There wasn’t really anything appealing or “feel-good” about this for me, unfortunately.

There were two timelines. One is about Tilly, a young girl, and the other is Tilda, the same young girl but older. Tilly’s life is not good, and you can see it in Tilda when you read her side as the older woman. Tilda is quirky and lives a boring life because of what “Tilly” went through. I don’t mind a quirky character, I quite love it actually. However, I couldn’t really connect with Tilly or Tilda and I think this made reading this novel a little harder. When I think of quirky characters, I think of Eleanor Oliphant and this wasn’t anything like that.

I didn’t understand the background really. There weren’t explanations of some of the characters and that made it more confusing. Daniel, a guy in Tilda’s POV, was just too much for this type of novel. We didn’t learn anything about him except that he made food art. There were other people, especially in Tilda’s POV, where I questioned at the end whatever happened to them. It was very puzzling.

I honestly believe that if this story was just about Tilly, I would’ve liked it a lot more. Tilly was great and she was really the best part of this book. It really made it hard to read when the timelines and stories weren’t on the same wavelengths in gaining my attention.

Towards the end, I actually started to enjoy this novel. At about three-quarters of the way through, I wanted to just see how it would end. Ruth Hogan’s writing did pick up towards the end which is where my three-star rating came from.

Overall, I will give Ruth Hogan’s book another try, but I sincerely hope they aren’t so up and down like this one was. I don’t know why Tilly and Tilda’s characters are the way that they are, and I think that it’s a problem since that’s what the book was trying to explain.

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman

Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★★

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.

When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family—a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbor’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.

Review:

Thank you to Viola Shipman, MIRA Books and NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this as a part of the 2020 Spring Reads Blog Tour.

There was a lot about this novel that I was unsure about when I read the synopsis. This isn’t my usual book, but I figured I’d give it a try. I’m not someone who usually likes war stories or time pieces. However, this wasn’t really anything like that. It was back-and-forth, but in a good way!

This was my first Viola Shipman novel. I never would’ve thought to read her before, but I’m really glad I did. This intrigues me for future novels by her as the writing was extraordinary. I really enjoyed her point-of-views between characters and that made me enjoy them even more. Iris lost her husband in WWII and her daughter to polio. This is where she built herself inside of her garden and didn’t want to talk to anyone. She did this for a long time before she meets Abby. Abby’s husband comes back from the Iraq war and is no longer than man he was before he left. Now living next door to each other, these two women have something in common even if Abby didn’t lose her husband physically. These two women bond and find a relationship unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

I loved this story. It was the epitome of a feel-good novel. It was very heartwarming and makes you feel hope that things are actually like that. Abby, Iris, and Abby’s daughter, Lily, truly stole my heart. It was special to see that the relationship and friendship between Abby and Iris that bloomed despite their age gap.

The gardening point-of-view in this story is impeccable. I have a “black thumb”, but I absolutely loved learning about all of the different types of flowers and plants that Iris and Abby talk about was spectacular.

The reasons why I didn’t give this novel a five-star rating were two different things. First, there were some parts of this book that was very righteous and almost “holier-than-thou”. I can see why it would be like that, but sometimes it seemed to be too much. Second, this book seemed longer than it should’ve been. I really enjoyed this story, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like it was drug out at some parts.

Overall, Viola Shipman has definitely caught my interest. I would be open to reading her other books as this one had very “feel-good” energy. This could absolutely be one of the top “general fiction” novels of 2020.



The Summer Villa by Melissa Hill

Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★★

Three women. One summer reunion. Secrets will be revealed…

Villa Dolce Vita, a rambling stone house on the Amalfi Coast, sits high above the Gulf of Naples amid dappled lemon groves and fragrant, tumbling bougainvillea. Kim, Colette and Annie all came to the villa in need of escape and in the process forged an unlikely friendship.

Now, years later, Kim has transformed the crumbling house into a luxury retreat and has invited her friends back for the summer to celebrate.

But as friendships are rekindled under the Italian sun, secrets buried in the past will come to light, and not everyone is happy that the three friends are reuniting… Each woman will have things to face up to if they are all to find true happiness and fully embrace the sweet life.

Review:
Thank you Melissa Hill, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel was a part of the 2020 Spring Reads Blog Tour with Harlequin Books.

An epic summer read about food, friendship and the magic of Italy, perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Susan Mallery.This was the perfect description of this book.

This is my first Melissa Hill novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was romance, drama, laughs, tears, everything that comes in a women’s fiction / contemporary romance novel. I will say, I thought that the romance and drama in this book was written spectacularly.

One of the things I liked the most about this book was the two separate timelines. This novel is set six years ago and in present day. I’m not usually a fan of that type of book, but Melissa Hill did a great job writing it the way she did. I was entranced by the timeline almost. I was waiting to find out what happened then and what was going to happen throughout the story.

The characters were awesome. Simply awesome. When there are too many characters in a novel, I get confused. However, I loved learning about Kim, Colette and Annie. I loved each one of their stories. I really appreciated a woman turning a crumbling house into a luxury business. This book was very big on female empowerment for me and I like that.

There were a lot of secrets revealed in this book. A lot of them. I got a little confused sometimes through the characters, which I mentioned earlier that happens sometimes when there’s too many things going on. However, it was easy to catch back up and realize who’s drama was with who.

Overall, I really enjoyed this Italian women’s fiction novel from Melissa Hill. She really captured my attention with her writing and I cannot wait to read another one by her!



Love on Location by Cassidy Carter

Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

Maybe what they needed most was there all along…

Delaney Phillips, a divorced mom, works for her longtime best friend Wyatt Andrews at Cabins in the Pines. Wyatt inherited the rustic resort from his father, and both he and Delaney have made countless happy memories there. After a highway bypass leaves it a little too off the beaten path, they’ll do just about anything to keep it open.

At Delaney’s urging, Wyatt auditions for a reality TV program that helps businesses in trouble. The show’s glamorous host arrives with her camera crew, turning the place upside down in hilarious and alarming ways.

But Delaney doesn’t like the woman’s new plans for the business…or her designs on Wyatt. Because even though Delaney’s known him since the first grade, she’s slowly but surely falling in love with him. Can she help him see the cabins—and their relationship—in a different light?

Review:

Love on Location was a sweet, clean, friends-to-lovers romance. It was super easy to see from the beginning where it was going to go, but Cassidy Carter did a really great job writing all of the details in so the reader doesn’t lose interest.

I really enjoyed the trope of friends-to-lovers mixed with reality television mixed with a fixer upper narrative. It was pretty different than anything I’ve ever read before in a romance novel. The fact that they were willing to make it work in this small town where the reality show wanted to come in and change everything was a true testament for how things are nowadays. It was an awesome way to show the other side of the small businesses and things of that sort.

I really liked the characters. Delaney and Wyatt for sure had the chemistry that I like to see in a friends-to-lovers novel. I felt it in every word between them which is hard to do! The only reason why I gave this story a four-star rating is because I’m not someone who likes woman/woman jealousy. I don’t like the idea of a woman being so jealous over another woman and holding back because they don’t want to interfere. This book doesn’t really have the room for a jealousy intrusion. I didn’t really see how it fit.

Overall, I really enjoyed Love on Location‘s story. It wasn’t something I’ve read before and I really loved the character development. I will for sure read more of Cassidy Carter’s books when they come out!

Incomparable by Nikki & Brie Bella

Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★★★★

A raw, honest, and revealing co-memoir by Brie and Nikki Bella: twin sisters, WWE Hall of Fame inductees, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and stars of the hit E! shows Total Bellas and Total Divas.

As twins, the Bellas have always competed. Legend has it that Nikki drop-kicked Brie in the womb so that she could make her grand entrance first. But the rest of the world often treated them as identical and even interchangeable, so they decided to do something about it.

In WWE, the Bellas accomplished so much together: bringing in young girls and women while building the Bella Army, helping the transition of female performers from Divas to Superstars, starring in Total Divas and Total Bellas, and founding companies like Birdiebee, Nicole + Brizee Beauty, and Bonita Bonita Wine.

Though their early journey began with loss, abuse, and plenty of rough times, these challenges “shined the diamond.” They resolved to be survivors and the heroes of their own stories, and to take control and responsibility for their lives. Eventually, they would come to show girls everywhere that they can do anything.

The Bellas may be identical twins—but as individuals, they have proven themselves Incomparable.

Review:

I started watching WWE in 2008. When I watched religiously every Monday, Friday (& when it moved to Tuesdays), I latched onto these two wonderful women. The Bella Twins, Nikki & Brie. I’ve watched them throughout the years, watching them on the microphone on tv every week, but also through their shows Total Divas and Total Bellas. It’s been over 10 years since I started to see these lovely ladies that they’ve almost become part of my own weekly routine.

When I received this book, I just knew it was going to be powerful. The best part of watching them once (at least) a week, was that I could read their stories in their voices as if they were speaking to me right from their hearts. It was so interesting to see these two ladies in how similar they were as twins, but also how different they were. You could just feel that they’ve done some crazy things in their lives, but they also were showing that one could be the quieter one or the more reserved one. It was really a beautiful thing to get such a up-close and personal look into their lives.

I think this book is a testament that no matter how public someone’s life is, you will never know someone’s whole story. The amount of things that I literally gasped at, teared up at, and laughed out loud at were amazing. You see these things on TV and just assume that you know all about them. You see what you see on TV and that’s it! These two ladies really spoke about their childhood and how hard of an upbringing it was. That’s really hard for someone to do and I commend these ladies for it.

This is the Bella Twins’ first book, but you would think that it was their 3rd. They wrote so well and really captured the reader with their words. It was amazing to see these ladies, who do so well on TV in their shows, really get gritty and down-to-it in this book.

I hope that these two come out with 100 more books in the future because I’d love to read them all!!