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.

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 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!