June 2020 Reads

Number of Books Read: 13
Avg. Rating of the books: 4.2/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 6/13
*five star ratings are bold

  • Incomparable by Nikki & Brie Bella
  • Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai (Modern Love #2)
  • Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
  • The Summer Villa by Melissa Hill
  • The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman
  • Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan
  • Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr
  • The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman
  • Asking For Trouble by Amy Andrews (Creedence, Colorado #3)
  • That Summer in Maine by Brianna Wolfson
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
  • Operation Bailey Babies by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #6.5)
  • Kind of Cursed by Stephanie Fournet

The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman

Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Rating: ★★★

Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

A Celtic knot of suspense and surprise, this brooding, atmospheric novel will keep you guessing as each twist reveals a new possibility. It will remind you of friendships hidden in the depths of your own past, and make you wonder how well you really know the people you’ve loved the longest.

Review:

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

This book started off pretty interesting. It was the story of women who went to college together, but lost touch over the 20 years since then. June is the main character who we learn most about throughout this novel. There are many different characters, but we see June and her old friend and famous author, Sadie, the most. When the group starts to party at Sadie’s mansion, things get weird. No one can remember things from the night before, Sadie is missing, and there’s a giant blood stain on the wall. No one can seem to remember what happened and there’s suddenly a lot of questions surrounding this story.

A very important part of this story is that Sadie’s husband, Ethan, is June’s old crush. They met in the woods during this little getaway, so it’s very easy and also explained in the synopsis that it could’ve been June that caused Sadie’s disappearance. Jody Gehrman’s writing was good to where you thought it was everyone at one point. However, I was able to guess who it was pretty early on.

I wasn’t really able to connect with the characters. I didn’t feel like there was really any growth or development. I’m someone who really enjoys seeing a difference in a character by the end, and I didn’t feel as though there was any difference.

The thing I liked the most was the fact that the story could’ve actually been real. You hear about these types of stories on the news all of the time. Once you read this book, you’ll understand what I mean by that. I don’t want to give anything away. This book felt real. The characters felt real and so did the story. I could definitely see the way they spoke and the dialogue being real.

Overall, I liked this story, but I wish I was able to connect with the characters more. The writing was well-done and I would definitely give Jody Gehrman another try!

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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Don’t miss this 40-70% off sale!

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!