What You Wish For by Katherine Center

What You Wish For is a feel good, make you happy book written Katherine Center, author of Things You Save in a Fire. Unfortunately, it didn’t make me feel good or happy but, rather, bored and underwhelmed. Please note that I am very aware that I am the fish swimming against the current and that every female reader who I know has “loved” this book. You can read their reviews if you’d like.

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Sam is a pleaser, you know the kind, the gal who wants everyone to happy all of the time and goes out of her way to make sure that you always have a smile on your face. The beginning of the story tells of her love of her job as a librarian in Galveston, TX (have you been to Galveston lately?) the perfect couple she is living with, her nerdy friend with math joke t-shirts, and her beautiful school where everything is perfect – the kids, the library where she works, just simply everything until the principal of the school and one half of the perfect couple mentioned above dies at the anniversary party Sam has planned. Whew. But, hey, no problem because Sam never allows anything to get her down and she will cheerfully take care of everyone, including the new principal who is who her old, once fun boyfriend who is now a curmedgeon set on “destroying” her beloved school. I will just stop here and say…. enough.

Here’s the thing. I have read hundreds of books since COVID19 began infecting the world. I understand that many readers want happy, go-lucky, cheerful books to keep their mind off of reality. This book, with one glaring exception, will hit the mark for you. It is, literally, made for television happy. But that is not what I needed or still need. I’m sick of overly happy, cheesy women (and men) who walk around with smiles on their faces when there is nothing to be happy about right now. I’m not a stick in the mud or bitter but I cannot do fake and insipid either. The fact is that library funding – school and local – is shrinking. Schools, especially in Texas, are not coping with the demands of the 21st century learning curves. They have taken science out of their science classes and facts out of their history classes so I’m a little cynical when I read about this perfect school set in a city where I know it’s a fallacy and all we need to do is make the principal remember how much fun he used to be. Right. But it’s fiction, you say. Sure, or maybe it should listed in the fantasy section. Regardless, I’m not going to write a review that says RAH RAH when I tried twice to read this book and couldn’t finish it either time. I read silly books. I read fun books. I didn’t find this to be either. Whether you read or enjoy it is totally up to you.

One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak

Imagine swabbing your cheek for 23andme and discovering that you have two half sisters that you never knew existed. That is what happened to Serenity when she took a DNA test for research for book she was writing. One sister had grown up in foster care, one was the only daughter of a single mother and Serenity was part of an intact family with both parents and more siblings. The sisters aren’t sure how they fit together but decide to spend a few weeks together getting to know one another, hoping that during that time they will also discover something in their past that they have in common. Little did the sisters know that the weeks would turn into a summer that would change their lives forever.

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I’ve never read a book by Brenda Novak and the pace and style took time for me to get used to. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be “chick lit” or “light romance’ or exactly which genre I was reading until, finally, I stopped worrying about it and just enjoyed the story. The sisters were similar enough, despite their upbringing, to become good friends and an encouragement to one another through a very difficult series of revelations. There were hints of romance throughout which kept the story interesting and light. There also was the underlying mystery of how the three girls had the same father by such totally different mothers.

There were times I felt the book had some believability issues, such as a hospital sending home an amputee without follow up rehab, therapy or the ability to use cutlery in his “good hand.,” but despite these moments, the over-arcing storyline was enjoyable and would make for a nice summer read.

The Sea Glass Cottage @RaeAnneThayne Harlequin Blog Tour

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I am so excited to be part of the Harlequin Blog Tour for The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne. I’m a recent convert to Thayne’s books and I’m discovering how wonderful each and every one of them is.

The Sea Glass Cottage Cover

First let me say that this cover is stunning! The inviting feel that it evokes is exactly how I felt about the book. In fact, I loved the cover so much that I’m in the process of landscaping my back walkway to look just like this one! 🙂

If you are a fan of Thayne, then you will be familiar with some of the characters and certainly the community of Cape Sanctuary. Here we find Olivia, a serious and successful programmer who moved away from Cape Sanctuary years before. Her past there holds tragedy and painful memories but when her mother is hospitalized, she drops everything and rushes home to care for her mother. Here Olivia will encounter her past, reunite with her best friend and cope with her some-what obnoxious niece, the daughter of her sister whose life and death were tragic. Throughout the book we discover secrets held by Olivia, her mother, niece and even her sister. The Sea Glass Cottage is a book about healing, understanding, and forgiveness, as well as recognizing the strengths each of us hold within ourselves. The book, the story and the characters are beautifully written, engaging and entrancing from beginning to its satisfying conclusion. It is a story you will not want to miss. Yes, it is part of a series but, as someone who hasn’t read the rest of this series, I can assure you that it works very well as a stand-alone.

The Sea Glass Cottage was published earlier in March, 2020 and can be found at any of the links listed below.

Publisher: HQN Books

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

Author photo_Raeanne Thayne

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @RaeAnneThayne

Facebook: AuthorRaeAnneThayne

Instagram: @RaeAnneThayne

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/116118.RaeAnne_Thayne

Thank you to Samantha and Harlequin for my copy of this beautiful story!

 

Clover Cottate #ChristieBarlow #HappyPubDay

Christie Barlow has rapidly become one of my favorite cozy romance writers and now she is back with a wonderful new addition, Clover Cottage.

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When local veterinarian, Rory, is gifted Clover Cottage by his parents, his significant other, Allie, is thrilled. She sees this as a new beginning for the two of them in the town in which they grew up and fell in love. However, Rory is extremely reluctant to take on the renovations of the house, to the point that Ally is worried that it is their relationship in which Rory does not want to invest. Instead, he wants to travel and study abroad, to expand his horizons – and then come back to Allie. Allie, of course, is devastated. As the book unfolds we begin to see that neither of them really knew the secret hopes and desires of one another and we wonder if there is any way this couple can survive.

Clover Cottage is the third book in the Love Heart Lane series so readers will be somewhat familiar with the couple already. What I love most about these two, and all of the residents of Heartcross, is how important their family and friends are to one another. Rather than giving rash advice to Allie – or to Rory – they support them and offer a different perspective which helps this couple get through this difficult time. There are heartaches, illness, secrets and plenty of small town happiness throughout this book for it is the type of story that draws you in from beginning to end. You come to love these people as though they were real which is due to the marvelous character building and writing skills of Christie Barlow.

Although it is the third book in a series, Clover Cottage can be read as a stand alone. To get the feel of the characters, however, I encourage you to read the series as a whole. They are short, heartwarming, quick reads and I know you will be glad that you did.

Thank you to @OneMoreChapter, #Netgalley and @ChristieJBarlow for my copy of these delightful tale.

The Girls With No Names @serenaburdick

I finally understood what my fortune meant….I was bone and skin and earth and sky. Death was not literal, Time was infinite, my Existence..eternal.

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Set in the early 1900s, a time of great change and social reforms, The Girls With No Names is the story of young girls, some wealthy and other travelers or from among the working poor. It is a brilliant example of all that was wonderful and horrific about “the gilded age.”

Luella and Effie Tildon are children from a wealthier family. Their lives are spent in school, wandering the land around their home and obeying the strict rules set forth by their parents. They know that if they don’t obey these rules they will be sent to the House of Mercy, a work house wayward girls. The institution was meant to be home for young women without support or who were unmarried and pregnant. What it became was a place for men to send women and girls who didn’t conform to the “rules.” A house of horror, hunger, torture and worse, the House of Mercy was used as a cautionary reminder for all females to obey. When Luella discovers a secret her father is hiding, she begins to rebel against him to the point that, when she disappears, Effie immediately assumes Luella has been banished to the House of Mercy. Effie, who has a debilitating heart condition, decides she will find a way to get sent to the house so that Luella will not be alone. What transpires is a horror show for the young girl and for all of the girls held captive within those walls.

Serena Burdick has woven together a story of the rich and the poor, of the Suffragette movement, of work houses run by “the church”, of an age that glorified the male while subjugating women. The stories of these young women is one of friendship, love, bravery and hope. It is, by far, one of the most remarkable stories I have read and, sadly, it is based on the true stories of the House of Mercy in Innwood Park.

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The Girls With No Names is a cautionary reminder about how new and how fleeting our rights as women actually are or could be, a wake up call for women around the world.

#Netgalley, #Harlequin-ParkRow and @SerenaBurkick – thank you!

 

The Neighbours by Nicola Gill: Happy Pub Day!

In this era of “ageism” it is wonderful to see a book about two women with roughly two decades of difference in their ages come together in a celebration of friendship.

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Ginny is a thirty-something woman who is struggling with her place in life. She feels unfilled in her job but has no idea how to get a different and better one. When she walks in on her live-in boyfriend shagging her boss – in Cassie’s own apartment – she is forced into looking at life from a different, jobless perspective. She is good at what she does – marketing and PR – but she isn’t always on her game when it comes to job interviews.

Her neighbor, Cassie, is a fifty-something, well known actress who, sadly, has sabotaged her career over time with her boorish behavior, uncensored mouth and worse. She desperately needs an agent or PR consultant to help her get her life back in gear but no one will touch her, not even with a ten foot pole!

Cassie talks Ginny into helping and soon the two realize, well, they have absolutely nothing in common and barely can tolerate one another. As they work together, however, they realize that one doesn’t always have to have similarity as a foundation upon which to build a great friendship. Both of these women learn from one another, help each other turn their weaknesses into strength and, ultimately, they form a beautiful friendship.

The Neighbours is a humorous, witty look at relationships of all types and illustrates how each of us have something to offer to one another, despite our differences. And yes, in today’s world where differences are highlighted and maligned, it is a joy to see how our lack of sameness can be a strength. This is a wonderful, well written story of friendship that is perfect for readers of all genres.

Many thanks to #Netgalley, #AvonBooksUK, #AvonBooks for my copy of The Neighbours on sale today!

 

 

#LongBrightRiver by Liz Moore

Let me begin by saying that I have no doubt that Long Bright River will end up in my Top Ten Favorite Books for 2020. It really is that good.

Having said that, you may notice that I’m day late and always a dollar short with this review. I KNEW I had read the book. I thought I had written my review but I couldn’t find either one any where. After reading the review from Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee (review here) I was even more confused! I searched and searched and looked and looked and TA DA!!!!!! I didn’t “download” the book! The publisher was so incredibly kind enough to send me a copy (yes, I know this is the sign of hoarding) But what about my review!?!  After a lot of technical geek talk with WP, I discovered that I have about 20 reviews that got “backlogged” over the holidays and never, ever got published. It happened when I switched themes. So, sadly, now I have to swamp you with reviews BUT I have found the missing ones that were driving me crazy. Okay…. back to this fabulous book!!!!

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Long Bright River is women’s fiction disguised as a thriller or the other way around but really it is just an amazingly well written novel about two sisters who have had one helluva a hard life. Told in alternating time lines, we learn about the difficult lives of Mickey and Kacey whose parents were addicts and who died when the girls were young. Forced to live with a grandmother who made it pointedly clear that she resented having to raise them (and we wonder how the parents turned out bad, right?) the girls soon find themselves in trouble. However, Mickey soon joins an after school program and later becomes a cop while Kacey gets in with the wrong crowd and becomes a sex worker. When these workers begin to go missing and later are found dead, Mickey’s boss at the precinct really doesn’t care. After all, they’re just sex workers. But when Kacey also goes missing, Mickey decides to find out what is going on and what has happened to her sister.

That summary in no way does justice to this magnificent book. It was heartbreaking to read about their lives and it would have been easier if I thought for one minute that it was exaggerated, but I know better. This is the reality of far too many people all across the US. This is a story that, yes, is a thriller and will keep you in suspense until the end. But even more so, it is the story of dysfunctional families, families who need help and simply are not getting it. Children who need help and are falling through the proverbial cracks. This is a powerful story, a gripping wonderful, perfect for today’s society novel that truly is a 2020 must read!

Thank you to @LizMooreBooks and @RiverheadBooks for my copy of this incredible novel!

 

 

An Everyday Hero @LauraTrentham

I was SO not expecting to like this book, An Everyday Hero. Like the main character, I’ve had enough of endless, mindless wars. I’m a Colonel’s wife and an Air Force brat and I have been faced with its horrors for far too long. I assumed that this book would be another sappy, propagandist piece of tripe. Let me assure you and loudly admit – I was WRONG!

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From award-winning author Laura Trentham comes an emotionally layered novel about redemption, second chances and discovering that life is worth fighting for.

Greer Hadley is like so many young women with dreams of stardom and stars in their eyes. She set off for Nashville with a golden voice and hope as big as the ocean. However, after years of trying for that “big break” and being left with nothing except anxiety disorder, she heads home to a place she swore she would never return. After a bar crawl, she is ordered to do community service which just happens to be a music as therapy center. There Greer comes in contact with people who will change her life: a young teen with a huge chip on her shoulder named Ally and a wounded vet who is battling demons that may be to large for he or Greer to handle. What happens within the story is a beautiful unfolding of drama, hope, second chances and the will to rise up from the ashes.

Trentham is a master storyteller whose gift of prose shines throughout this book. There are so many opportunities for the story to turn cheesy and into a Hallmark moment, but she deftly guides the story line back to reality. I don’t read books about military personnel because that is a life I’ve lived for far too long but An Everyday Hero struck a chord so deep within me that I could not put down the book from its beginning to its end. It has three very strong, realistic, well developed characters with whom I connected and wanted to know more about. Their stories are compelling and I know you will love them as much as I did.

An Everyday Hero is slated to be published in February. It’s well worth putting on your TBR list now.

@Netgalley #StMartinsPress @StMartinsPress

Harlequin Winter Blog Tour: Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

I’m truly excited to bring you another feature today for the Harlequin Winter Blog Tour. I’ve calculated that if I continue to do 2-3 reviews a day for the next 100 days, I just might be caught up by SUMMER!  UGH!  I can read so much quicker than I can write. 😦   BUT – Rebecca Raisin is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors so this post is extra special. You may recall that I read, reviewed and LOVED her book, “Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop” (review HERE) but that is simply my favorite among many of her books that I’ve read. Now added to that list of faves is “Little Bookshop on the Seine.” I mean, who doesn’t love a story set in both Paris and a bookstore!?

Sarah owns her own little bookstore in a small town across the street from her best friend’s cafe. Readers of Rebecca Raisin will recognize many of the characters in Little Bookshop, but this is Sarah’s story and the first in the Paris series. Sarah loves her store, her books are more like family than “real people.” She has a handsome boyfriend who travels all over the world and Sarah is feeling a bit of that wanderlust herself. Her life has become a bit too predictable. When her online friend in Paris suggests a store swap, Sarah jumps at the chance, not really comprehending what she is getting herself into. The fast paced life of a Parisian bookstore is a far cry from her very laid back store in Ashford. Will Sarah be able to cut it or will she run back home to the safety of home and her friends?

I absolutely adored Sarah’s story. That feeling of restlessness is something of which I am very familiar. I wanted her to be stronger, get it together quicker, but as the story unfolds, we are able to see that Sarah is growing and maturing in very wonderful ways. This is more than just another cute cosy. As with so many of Raisin’s books, we see how women can rise to occasion when necessary and that within each of us is a strength we can call upon when needed. I highly recommend Little Bookshop on the Seine and, although it takes place around the holidays, it is not a holiday book. It is a marvelous introduction to a new series that is sure to be a great one.

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Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile.

This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in various short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous men who have brains as well as brawn, is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly, believe in true love.

Thank you to #HarlequinPublishing and Rebecca Raisin @jaxandwillsmum for my copy of this wonderful book!

You can Little Bookshop on the Seine at the following booksellers:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

 

 

Husband Material #EmilyBelden #BlogTour

I have to tell you up front that this book is absolutely nothing at all about what I thought it would be! And that, my reading friends, is a good thing! Based on the provided excerpts alone, I assumed that this would be a RomCom, Chick-Lit lite, toss away book to read between the more serious books that I was consuming. I could not have been more wrong!

It is such an honor to be part of the Harlequin Winter Blog Tour featuring Husband Material by Emily Bolden.

Charlotte is a very young, too young, widow is who hides her grief – and her widowhood – in humor. Not even her flatmate is aware that she was previously married until her husband’s ashes arrive at their apartment. What ensues is a story that is filled with humor, yes, but so much more. Husband Material is about friendships, seeking answers, finding the truth and discovering second chances. Bolden has a sharp, witty humor that shines throughout this charming tale, but it serves to lighten an otherwise darker topic and, therein, lies the beauty of Husband Material. This is a fabulous story of hope, one that I would love for you all to read.

EXCERPT:

I’ve conducted some research that has shown that after the age of thirty, it becomes exponentially harder to find your future husband. What number constitutes exponentially? I’m not sure yet, but I’m working on narrowing in on that because generalities don’t really cut it for me. Thinking through things logically like this centers me, calms me, and resets me—no matter what life throws my way. All that’s to say, I’m officially in my last good year of dating (and my last year of not having to include a night serum in my skin care regimen), and I’m determined not to wind up with my dog, my roommate, and a few low-maintenance houseplants as my sole life partners.

“Tackling thorny questions of widowhood and dating after trauma, Belden’s second novel is witty, full of heart, and blindingly au courant. Packed with pop-culture references, it will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella, Rosie Walsh, and Plum Sykes. Belden writes twists and turns to keep readers hooked.” Booklist

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781525805981_husband-material.html

Amazon: https://amzn.to/35gMxcA

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/husband-material-emily-belden/1129908343?ean=9781525805981#/

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781525805981

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/husband-material-12

Autho photo_Emily Belden_finalEMILY BELDEN is a journalist, social media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novel Hot Mess and Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals. She lives in Chicago. Visit her website at http://www.emilybelden.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @emilybelden.

Many thanks to Harlequin and @emilybelden for my copy of this marvelous book!