The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne

Thank you Harlequin Books for allowing me to participate in The Sea Glass Cottage Blog Tour! I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Rating: ★★★★

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured in a car accident, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness.

Review:

This was my first RaeAnne Thayne novel but definitely not my last!

This book was all female, mostly all of the time. There were many female characters, Liv, her niece and her mother, with whom she has a stressed relationship with. Sometimes, I would think this would be too much drama going on, but I think RaeAnne Thayne did a phenomenal job with the writing to keep the reader interested.

Like I said, there was a lot going on. If this was separated by character and chapters, it would’ve for sure been way too confusing. However, it was just an overall story about these characters and it was like watching a soap opera in my head. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. It was as they say, “like a train crash, you want to look away, but you can’t.”

There are a lot of emotions in this book. It’s crushing and heartwarming all in the same book. RaeAnne Thayne did a wonderful job making sure all of the characters were heard in the same way. I didn’t feel as though I knew more about one character than I did another. Also, the story is a lot about overcoming obstacles whether they are physical or mental. I really enjoyed that aspect of this novel.

Lastly, RaeAnne Thayne did a great job with the talk of drug abuse in this novel. This is a really sensitive topic with the society we are in. As someone who has lost individuals to this epidemic, I felt as though RaeAnne Thayne handled this with care. She really did make this feel as though we were looking at this story through Caitlin’s eyes. Losing someone to this is soul-crushing and I really felt that with Liv’s niece.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Sea Glass Cottage. There was a lot going on, but I think it was really good. I will for sure be giving RaeAnne Thayne another read!

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See below for an excerpt of The Sea Glass Cottage!

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Moonlight in Vermont by Kacy Cross

Publication Date: February 18, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

Some of the best things in life are worth the wait…

Fiona Rangely loves her fast-paced life as a high-end real estate broker in New York City. Or at least, she does until her boyfriend dumps her, claiming that he doesn’t get enough of her time.

She retreats to her family’s quaint Vermont Inn to evaluate her life…but her ex-boyfriend soon shows up with a brand new girlfriend. Fiona quickly devises a plan to win him back: pretend the handsome and laid-back head chef Derek is her new boyfriend!

Will her ex realize what he’s missing? And will Fiona herself start seeing life–and love—in a new light?

Review:

Fake relationships/marriages is one of my favorite tropes. I just adore the thought of two people starting a fake relationship to fool parents or to make exes jealous…and then  falling for each other themselves for real? Swoon! This story was crazy from start to finish. For Hallmark, I felt like this was extra dramatic! But I loved it!

The characters were everything I needed and more. Fiona’s character was the best. I loved her development and the realization that she didn’t even want her ex anymore was perfection. I think out of all of them, Kacy Cross wrote Fiona the best. She wrote Fiona like she had personally experienced something like this before and it made the story that much more real for me.

My favorite part of this novel was the sweetness of the romance. It wasn’t too strong but it wasn’t too much either. It was really a wonderful moment to see how the story of Fiona and Derek was going to play out. As the head chef, he knows he’s too busy and it’s almost like a forbidden love story at some parts.

The only reason why I didn’t give this book five-stars is because I wish it was a little longer! It was only 182 pages and I wish it would just keep going and going. I think ultimately it was wrapped up well and the story was great, but I would’ve liked a little more.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone. This was a good story for any age. Moonlight in Vermonwas the perfect book to get me excited for the rest of Kacy Cross’ books!

The Story of Us by Teri Wilson

Publication Date: January 6, 2020
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★

A bookstore owner…
her former high school sweetheart…
And a box of old love letters
that could change everything.

Jamie always adored True Love Bookstore and Café, and now she’s the owner. But businesses are struggling in her small town, and her beloved store is threatened by a new retail development scheme.

Sawyer, Jamie’s former high school sweetheart, startles her when he comes to town for the first time in fifteen years. She soon learns he’s the architect of the proposed development and he’s there to sell local business owners on his plan. Sawyer had no idea that Jamie had bought the bookstore and poured everything she had into it. If he takes it over, he’ll break her heart a second time.

Jamie’s discovery of a box of old love letters and valentines might hold the key to saving her shop. And after all this time, could love be in the cards for Jamie and Sawyer, too?

Review:

This was a very cute book to read for Valentine’s Day which is why Hallmark released it January 6. It’s very cute to read at anytime during the year, but if you’re feeling especially lovey-dovey, save this one for the next holiday/Valentine’s Day season.

A romance in a bookstore is always a book for me. As I used to work in a library, the thought of two people falling in love surrounded by books just makes my heart flutter.  I’m just a sucker for it. Teri Wilson didn’t disappoint when it came to this. The romance was definitely on point.

There were a few things that I did struggle with within this story, though. I think ultimately for me, this story was drug out a little too long. It definitely could’ve finished multiple times before it actually did and it made it a little hard to get through.

The story was a little underdeveloped for me in the beginning. I was just waiting for it to get to the entire story and when it did, it was good. Then, the story started to drag for me like I said before. I just wish it would’ve taken a little quicker to get started, but finish in that timely manner after everything came full circle.

I really did like the outsiders in this story. The two main characters were good, but I loved seeing everyone conspire against them to get them together. It was awesome to see all of the budding relationships and friendships that this novel had to offer.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I didn’t hate it. Hallmark recently made this into a movie on their channel and I would definitely watch it!

 

Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Rating: ★★★

You Can’t Stop Watching Her.

Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-vlogger, with three young children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

Until the day she’s no longer there.

But one day she disappears from the online world – her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to her?

Review:

Thank you to Charlotte Duckworth, Crooked Lane Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This book’s synopsis definitely grabbed my attention. Being in a society that is essentially run by social media, these types of books really show the dangers of what can happen in real life. However, a lot of these books are coming out, especially within the last few years. After reading them all, they all start to sound the same mystery wise. Someone disappears, they have a social media presence..yadda yadda.

I didn’t hate this book. I really didn’t. I thought learning about Violet and what happened to her and why she deleted her social media without a trace was pretty interesting. I just think that the background details just were kind of meh. I didn’t feel any specific way towards that, but I did enjoy the thrilling aspect of it. This honestly could’ve been classified more as a thriller than a mystery in my eyes.

My favorite part about this book was that two fans were trying to figure out the mystery of what happened to their favorite Youtuber. Usually, watching the news or reading a story about it, if something happens to someone with a social media presence, it’s a crazed fan that did something to them. Don’t get me wrong, these two were definitely obsessive over Violet, but it was nice to read something that wasn’t like the others in that aspect. I really liked the difference of story there.

The difference in point-of-views had me a little confused at times. Throwing Violet’s husband in there to separate things was very smart on Charlotte Duckworth’s part because I was able to distinguish the multiple feelings of this story.

Overall, this was interesting but it didn’t WOW me. The writing was alright, there were definitely some attention-grabbing parts, but I just didn’t have the best time with this novel. The conclusion was just alright, but if you’re looking for a fast-paced story to read while you’re staying inside, this is a good one that’ll take up a day!

 

The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★

Willa Parker, 646th and least-popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and Willa has no intention of fitting in. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit in. When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel Remy spinning right out of her grasp.

Review:

When I read the synopsis and first started this book, I thought it had a lot of promising qualities that really could have me interested. The cover is what really got me. Harper Teen really put out a beautiful cover on this one. As I got in to it, I really had issues with a lot of things going on and I frankly feel like this book failed to deliver. I will say I read this book all the way through to see where it was going to go. I did find that there was a story, but it was in the beginning and then about 60% in and then it fell off again. This one was a struggle.

The main thing I had an issue with about this novel was the writing. The writing was short and to the point, and while that’s not always bad, I felt like I was reading a book that had been transcribed from a reading or audio. There wasn’t much detail, I feel like I was thrown back and forth a little, and I had to restart pages because I was just plain confused. I don’t think that the trope was bad or even that the story was bad, but I think the way that it was explained was a little confusing to me.

On the other hand, I will say that Remy was the most exciting part of this book. I loved every part of her. I was very interested to see where her story was going to lead which is where the book finally started to pick up for me.

I gave this book two stars because Andrea Portes does have some underlying dark tones in her book. I really think she handled them with care. I am someone who really can’t do substance abuse or drug abuse in books, but she did well with this and really took care of her readers when it came to that.

Overall, this wasn’t my favorite YA. I did struggle a lot with the writing and wish it was a little more in-depth instead of short and choppy. I would definitely give Andrea Portes another chance and hopes that the writing is a little different in the next one.

 

 

 

This Train is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams

Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: ★★★★★

When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most.

Review:

It’s been a really long time where I’ve enjoyed a young adult novel as much as I did with This Train is Being Held. This is a moving story about a young man named Alex and a young lady named Isabelle (Isa as she’s called in the book). It’s a love-trumps-all type of trope which overcomes a lot of unhappy topics surrounding today’s society. I’ve never read anything like this, where a train of all things brings two people together when they need it the most.

The best part of this book is the romance. Like I said, there is an important message surrounding their relationship, but Ismée Amiel Williams did such a phenomenal job with making sure that love is still a very prominent part of this book. The angst is so tough on your heart that you want to reach into the book and hug them both. You truly have no idea what’s going on in their heads at that moment, but it’s written so vividly right in front of us. The writing of the romance was spectacular and I commend Ismée Amiel Williams for making sure that it was still there where it was supposed to be in a book with a variety of things going on.

Alex is my favorite character that I’ve read in a book in a long time. You can’t help but feel everything he’s feeling. You feel so guilty and so upset for what he’s going through. He’s a Latino male that wants to write poetry instead of play baseball like his dad wants him to. It is such a terrible situation and you just want to be his friend. You want to reach out to him and say, “I’m here for you”. It’s been a long time where a book has made me feel like that about a character.

The location of This Train is Being Held is so wonderful. As someone who lives near a city, it’s so easy to picture the subway. You can close your eyes and picture what their train car would look like, the sounds that are going on around you and more.

Finally, I love that this book was dual language at some parts. I’m not someone who understands Spanish as a second language, but Ismée Amiel Williams made it easy for  me to understand. I was able to see what was going on between characters and it showed the Latino side of Alex’s family as well. It was interesting to see the two sides between Alex’s family and Isa’s family.

Overall, this is a perfect young adult novel. I’d recommend it to those in high school or I’d recommend it to any adult that likes a good, romantic novel that ties into today’s society. I cannot wait for Ismée Amiel Williams’ future novels.

Country Hearts by Cindi Madsen

Publication Date: December 26, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Rating: ★★★

She shouldn’t get involved with the cowboy next door…

After she’s laid off from her teaching job in the city, Jemma Monroe finds a position in a tiny town and rents a house on the outskirts. A visitor soon shows up at her door — a horse. His owner, a handsome neighbor in boots and a cowboy hat, comes by to collect him.

When single dad Wyatt Langford meets Jemma, it’s the first time he feels interest in a woman since his wife left. But she’s his daughter’s new teacher, so they both know they should keep their distance.

Nonetheless, Wyatt keeps finding excuses to be with Jemma, and Wyatt’s daughter becomes more and more attached to her. With them, Jemma discovers the good things about country living, from starry skies to s’mores cooked over a fire. But she still misses her past life in the city. Is there any reason for them to dream of a future together?

Review:

This was my first Hallmark Publishing novel that I read, and I was not disappointed. I am not someone who watches Hallmark movies normally, but after reading from their publishing company, I just might do so.

Jemma has a lot going on in her life. She’s laid off in the middle of the school  year and has to figure out what to do in order to pay her debt. This is unfortunately super realistic nowadays and I appreciated that it was so relatable.

Another thing that was relatable about this story was Wyatt’s character. He’s a single dad and Jemma and Wyatt meet when Jemma becomes Wyatt’s daughter’s substitute teacher. I completely expected this book to be a “city-girl having a lot of trouble and her country neighbor helping her adapt to the country life” type of book, but I didn’t really get that from this. I think that the story was very cute and had the perfect amount of romance.

Wyatt’s daughter Bailey was one of the best characters in this book. Cindi Madsen did a phenomenal job with her, showing what it’s like to have a single father, and what it’s like when that child realizes that there’s a new woman in his life. It was very interesting and really pulled at my heart strings a couple times.

The only reason why I gave this novel a three-star rating was because the writing was a little slow at points. I enjoyed the trope and the characters, but I wish it picked up more at points than what it did.

I love the recipes at the end of Hallmark books, and hopefully, after reading them all, you could make a whole dinner party worth of things! Overall, Country Hearts was a good one and I’m excited to see the rest of Hallmark Publishing’s books!

A Forgotten Murder by Jude Deveraux

Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★

An English manor home, an unsolved mystery, too many suspects to count… It’s the perfect holiday for romance novelist Sara Medlar.

After solving two murder cases in their hometown of Lachlan, Florida, Sara Medlar, her niece Kate and their friend Jack need a change of scenery. Sara arranges for them to visit an old friend of hers in England. Upon arrival at Oxley Manor, a centuries-old estate that has been converted to a luxury hotel, Kate and Jack quickly realize that Sara is up to something. They learn that Sara has also invited a number of others to join them at Oxley.

When everyone assembles, Sara lets them know why they are there. Decades earlier, two people ran off together from Oxley and haven’t been heard from since—and Sara wants to solve the case. As the people who were there the night the two went missing, the guests find themselves cast in a live mystery-theater event.

In reenacting the events of that night, it becomes clear that everyone has something to hide and no one is safe, especially when the discovery of a body makes it clear that at least one of the people who disappeared was murdered.

Sara, Jack and Kate are once again at the heart of a mysterious case that only they are able to solve. But someone is willing to continue to kill to keep the truth about Oxley Manor buried, and none of the guests are safe.

Review:

Thank you to Jude Deveraux, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an  honest review.

The synopsis of this story is what drew me to this book right away. I thought that the idea of having a couple disappear never to be seen again sounded very real. There’s actually a story local to me about a couple that disappeared 15 years ago in Philadelphia and still have not been seen or found in that time. It hit a little close to home. I really liked that it was at a later time too that they were brought back to solve the case. There were a lot of questions surrounding the case, and it was cool to see after over twenty years, that there was still so much interest. There was a long list of suspects and they all had a motive so that made it exciting to see where this was going to end up.

I had a lot of interest in the story, but the details and the writing fell a little flat for me. I think this was a very good mystery for it’s genre, but the writing just wasn’t the main point of excitement here. I think if the details were a little more in depth and the writing was the bigger part of interest with dialogue, etc., this book would be a five-star rating from me.

The characters weren’t as big of a point for me in this book as they should have been. As this is a series, I wasn’t sure if I was missing a part of these characters due to the fact that I hadn’t read the previous two. I went to the Goodreads page to see if there were issues for anyone else regarding this and I found that you should be able to read this novel first as a standalone. I still don’t know if that’s true, I guess I’ll have to find out!

During this crazy time in the United states and around the world, I’d definitely recommend this book to someone who likes a cozy mystery. If you’re stuck in the house, definitely give this series a try! It was definitely fast-paced and will give you a treat for the next however many weeks!

 

 

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ★★★★

Summer love…gone so fast.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he’s fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairytale ending, and to complicate the fairytale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.

Right? Right.

Review:

Thank you Sophie Gonzales, Wednesday Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease.

Right from this description alone, I was hooked. Simon, Clueless and Grease??? Three things I love? I knew that this book was going to be a good one.

I was so invested in the beginning that I could not stop reading. Every word was being permanently written into my brain because the description that I read was spot on. It was so diverse, so interesting and so entertaining that I didn’t want to put it down.

When I hit the halfway mark, I had no idea what happened. I was sitting there thinking..am I going to have to put this book down? It slowed down to the point of confusion. I was so hoping that the book was going to pick back up to the speed it was when I first picked it up.

After I hit that little patch of slow, it did (thank god) pick up and I was able to fly to the end with enjoyment. After finishing and reflecting, this book was a solid four star read for me. I was so thankful to give it a higher rating because it did pick back up after starting so strong.

I just loved the characters. Ollie and Will were such good characters that I wanted to really dive deep into their lives. This story is told in first person through Ollie and at some points, I wish that we had a duel narration in Will’s head as well. Maybe for another time or book!

I loved the romance in this book as well. For a young adult novel, sometimes it’s either too sweet or not sweet enough, but this one was really good in that sense. The angst and the romance were a perfect ratio throughout the novel, especially towards the end.

“It’ll get easier. That’s the beautiful thing about the universe. It puts you through trials, but it never gives you anything you can’t handle. We grow from these things.”

Sophie Gonzales did a wonderful job with this book and I’m excited to see her books in the future. If they’re anything like Only Mostly Devastated, which is EXACTLY how this book will leave you, then I’m very ready to drop every other book I’m reading in this moment to read hers.