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.

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!!

The Modern Love Series by Alisha Rai

39863092. sy475 Book #1: The Right Swipe
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Rating:

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

Review:

I absolutely knew from the bottom of my heart that even before I was a quarter of the way through this book that it would receive a five-star rating from me. The writing, the heat, the characters..everything was perfect from start to finish.

The first thing I loved about this book was the representation of diversity. There were so many different races represented in this book and this needs to happen more in novels. It was so refreshing and inspirational to see all different types of people working together and having a fun time together in this novel that it gives you the best kind of vibes.

Next, I loved that all characters were represented in The Modern Swipe. In most books, the side characters are usually just here-and-there. They pop up from time-to-time and it’s never really more than that. However, Alisha Rai did such a phenomenal job showing every and all characters. I’m not usually a fan of too many characters because it’s hard for me to keep track, but this was written so well that I could see everyone and make sure that all of their stories were represented.

Finally, the romance was AMAZING. The heat of it all. The story of it all. The chemistry of it all. It’s truly one of my favorite romance novels ever. I am a contemporary romance reader. In reality, a lot of the books I read are that genre. That’s really big to say if that’s all I read! Alisha Rai’s writing was spectacular and I can’t wait to read her next books!

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44148565Book #2: Girl Gone Viral
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Rating: ★.5

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings [eyes emoji]

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for…

He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard…

Review:

Thank you Alisha Rai, Avon Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

After a frightening childhood where she was abused by her father-turned-manager, Kat grows up with PTSD and has panic attacks. There’s only a few people that Kat trusts. In her life, she trusts her two roommates and her bodyguard, Jas. After being photographed at a café and makes her anxiety jump, Jas takes Kat away from all of the madness. It’s here where their story begins. If you like slow burn novels, this is one you should read.

One of the main reasons why this wasn’t my favorite novel was the fact that the slow burn was one of the slowest I ever read.  I wished things would’ve happened a little sooner writing wise.

I loved these characters. I loved Kat & Jas and their backgrounds. Kat has a good amount of wealth, but I always felt as though she was humble throughout the entire novel. I wish this book focused a little less about their backgrounds though. Unfortunately, I feel as though now I’m loving Alisha Rai’s writing style, I was expecting more romance and more heat. The backgrounds, the fighting with families, etc., really just took away from the whole romance of it all. I wish there was more cute scenes like the snow fight.

Overall, I think that this book was good. There were a lot of great qualities, but a lot of qualities that missed the mark for me as well. I don’t want to compare her books, but this book was more mental health based and the first in this series was more romance based. There’s nothing wrong with differing books by the same author, but I expected Girl Gone Viral to be romance as well.

May 2020 Reads

In May, I read *drum roll* a whopping two books. I’m just trying to get back in the groove of reading and trying to adjust to life during this pandemic! June is going to have a lot more reads!

  • Game On by Britney Bell
  • Hot Mess by Emma Hart

Both of these books received a three star rating from me. There were definitely points of interest with each book, but nothing more than that really! Here’s to many more enjoyable reads in June!