The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Down on Mischief Farm by Hilarie Burton Morgan

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Pages: 257

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: May 5, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I purely picked this book on Netgalley because I loved watching Hilarie on One Tree Hill. I knew a little about her life on the farm from Instagram but was blown away by how down to earth she really is. I wish I had half the talent in renovating and gardening as she does. I admire her grit and determination to be the best mom, wife, friend she can be.

I applaud her for how she tackled her #metoo story in the book and how she has not let that overshadow her life. Instead, she gathered all her strength and courage and made her life what she wanted.

Anyone who reads this fast-paced memoir will learn something about themselves or how to face a difficult situation.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, HarperCollins, through Netgalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: New York Times Bestseller

The beloved actress and star of One Tree Hill, White Collar, and Lethal Weapon, Hilarie Burton Morgan, tells the story of leaving Hollywood for a radically different kind of life in upstate New York with her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan—a celebration of community, family, and the value of hard work in small-town America.

While Hilarie Burton Morgan’s hectic lifestyle as an actress in New York and Los Angeles gave her a comfortable life, it did not fulfill her spiritually or emotionally. After the birth of their first son, she and her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the star of The Walking Dead, decided to make a major change: they bought a working farm in Rhinebeck, New York, and began a new chapter in their lives.

The Rural Diaries chronicles her inspiring story of farm life: chopping wood, making dandelion wine, building chicken coops. Burton looks back at her transition from urban to country living—discovering how to manage a farm while raising her son and making friends with her new neighbors. She mixes charming stories of learning to raise alpacas and buying and revitalizing the town’s beloved candy store, Samuel’s Sweet Shop, with raw observations on the ups and downs of marriage and her struggles with secondary infertility. Burton also includes delicious recipes that can be made with fresh ingredients at home, as well as home renovation and gardening tips.

Burton’s charisma, wide-eyed attitude, and fortitude—both internal and physical—propels this moving story of transformation and self-discovery. The Rural Diaries honors the values and lifestyle of small-town America and offers inspiration for anyone longing to embark on their own unconventional journey.

Piece by Piece by Laura Bradford

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Pages: 276

Publisher: Kensington

Published: July 28, 2020

Rating 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Warning: Do not read without boxes of tissues by your side.

The author personally reached out to warn me this book might be hard for me to read so soon to my mama’s death. She was right BUT it has been the most healing book I have read.

Through Dani’s grief, I was reminded of how my mama is still with me every day. She is in my memories and my heart. Just like Dani’s mom, my mom was always there for me. Oh, the times I called her at 3am because I couldn’t sleep because of worry. She’d listen patiently, talk me through it, and tell me to get sleep and it would be better when I woke up. You know what? She was always right. My mom was my rock. She was right up to almost the very end.

Both Dani and Lydia’s stories will touch your soul. When you turn the last page you will feel as Laura Bradford says in the book that Dani and Lydia are your friends and are the “…rainbow after a storm.”

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review entirely my own.

NetGalley: A grieving mother learns to heal in Amish country, in this heartfelt, beautifully told novel from national bestselling author Laura Bradford.

Danielle Parker is a gold-medal mom—the kind who volunteers in her children’s classrooms, shuttles them between activities, throws legendary birthday parties, and has a remedy on hand for any emergency. Whatever her husband, Jeff, and their children need, Dani is there, always.

Except for one day.

On that day—the day that Dani reluctantly takes some “me time” while her mom and Jeff drive the children to the park—the unthinkable happens. The car crash leaves no survivors. Somehow, Dani gets through the funerals and visits, accepting neighbors’ sympathy and dropped-off meals. All the while, guilt and grief make her wish the accident had claimed her life too. Then a call comes from Lydia Schlabach, an Amish woman Dani befriended in childhood. In addition to condolences, Lydia offers Dani something more: a place to escape to.

In Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Dani’s days take on a new rhythm, marked by the clip-clop of buggies and the bustle of chores. Lydia gives Dani space to mourn, to think, and to realize how long it’s been since she felt like a person in her own right. And with the help of friendships old and new, Dani learns about the ways life continues to surprise us—even after the deepest loss—with joy, love, and second chances. . . .

Murder on Pleasant Avenue (Gaslight Mystery #23)

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Pages: 332

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

Published: April 28, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I enjoyed this book but realized very early on that I need to read the series in order. It took me much too long, in my opinion, to understand some of the reoccurring characters. I have read one book previously and had forgotten that was my conclusion then.

Being of Italian descent I found this book very interesting especially regarding the difference in the Calabrians and Sicilians. My grandfather was from Sicily and passed away when I was 2 so I never had the chance to ask him about his heritage.

A word of warning this book deals with the kidnapping of children and the sexual assault of women. There are no detailed scenes of sexual assault. This is a cozy mystery with more of a bite to the story. While reading I do not have the light, airy feel as I usually do while reading cozies. I am already on the hunt for book 1 so I may understand this series better.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Berkely Publishing Group. through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: When Gino Donatelli is accused of a brutal murder, beloved sleuths Sarah and Frank Malloy have to catch a killer who is out to destroy their innocent friend’s life in the latest installment of the national bestselling Gaslight mysteries.

A victim is found, brutally murdered and the police are certain they’ve caught the killer. Their only suspect: Gino Donatelli.

Frank and Sarah know Gino is innocent but the police have a one-track mind. Once Frank struck it rich and left their ranks taking Gino with him, there has been a simmering resentment in the department. And now, someone has pulled out all the stops to make it look like Gino is the only one who could have committed the crime.

With the clock ticking and evidence mounting against their friend, Sarah and Frank will try to unravel a treacherous plot before Gino is sent up the river for good.

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

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Pages: 384

Publisher: Harlequin – Graydon House Books

Published: March 3, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A beautiful 3 generational story that will leave you filled with hope and love. I loved how it showed the importance of honoring our past. Our past helps make up who we are today whether we realize it or not.

My favorite storyline was the bride’s mother. There were many surprises that when revealed tied so much together and made the story.

The title is what drew me to this book as I remember reading a paperback over and over again throughout middle and high school about Grace Kelly. The cover had a picture of her in her wedding dress. I wish I still had the book.

This book is for all romance, fiction, and fans of weddings.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Harlequin – Graydon House Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above reviews are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.

Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery #1) by Maria DiRico

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Published: February 25, 2020

Rating: 4 almost 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Mia with her mob family and Italian grandma is just the medicine I needed during this crazy time. I laughed so often my husband had to ask what I was reading. The look on his face when I said a cozy mystery. He knows enough about cozy mysteries to know murders occur. He may be worried about me laughing at murder. I will correct him one day that I wasn’t laughing at murder. One day…

This was a great start to a new series. I almost did not request from NetGalley until a read a review from another reviewer and he raved about the book. If you need laughs but still want to read your cozies then this is the book for you. Mia’s grandma is a doll. I want to dive into the book and sample her cooking.

A bonus: recipes provided in the back. Not all Italian either there are some yummy Greek ones as well. If I have the ingredients I might be trying a few.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: After her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing . . .

Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed . . .

Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island . . .

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

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Pages: 381

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: October 2, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I tried reading this when it came out but never could get past the first few chapters. Every time I went to the library the cover kept pulling me towards it saying open me and read. Finally the other day I succumbed to the call and brought it home. I fell instantly in love with Carly’s story and hated to stop to be an adult and take care of my family.

Personally, I don’t believe in the time travel theory and that there are portals all around us but as I was reading The Dream Daughter I found myself thinking what if you could? Would you be brave enough to do as Carly did to save your child?

I highly recommend The Dream Daughter.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: From bestselling author, Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel.

When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

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Pages: 400

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: January 14, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Wow, what a story told by two main characters 78 years apart. I was so captivated that I read 60% of the book in one day. Every moment I could I was stealing time to read a few pages here and there until I could sit down with the book and read until the end.

As I read, I would forget that both Anna Dale and Morgan were only in their early twenties’ They both seemed so much older. They both experienced such tragedies at a young age that forever changed their futures. I don’t think I had that much bravery at their age.

Big Lies in a Small Town has a few triggers for sensitive readers. It deals with mental illness, alcoholism, rape, suicide, and foul language (the F word). Everything pertained to the story and made it the excellent book it is.

This book is available from your favorite retailer on January 14, 2020. I am already getting it for my mama to read.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small-town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie

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Pages: 295

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: October 22, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am absolutely horrified such a person as Georgia Tann existed. The pain suffered for generations is a tragedy. It’s also horrifying to think she was never officially brought to justice.

While I agree some children went on to live extraordinary lives it still doesn’t change how crudely they were adopted. I do believe you should have the right to your adoption records. I do not know much about adoptions but if there is one thing I hope is learned is that adoption facilities should get detailed health information of the families from the families for the children.

My eyes have been opened and my heart hurts for the Georgia Tann kids. Hopefully, nothing like this happens in the USA again.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: The compelling, poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s bestselling novel Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought a new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, many of the long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with the authors to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.

We Wish You a Murderous Christmas (A Year-Around Christmas Mystery #2) by Vicki Delany

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Pages: 299

Publisher: Berkley

Published: November 1, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I had forgot how much I enjoyed the town of Rudolph and am happy I took a second visit.

Merry is a delight as an amateur sleuth. She doesn’t mind seeming like a fool if it means finding the killer. Her love for her family and friends is a great asset to the stories. One of the characteristics I like best is she doesn’t let her love triangle go on too long.

This is the perfect book to get you in the holiday spirit even though there is the small issue of a murder. I was kept guessing until the killer was revealed.

Bookbub: A grinch is spoiling the holiday cheer and causing fear in the second Year-Round Christmas mystery from the author of Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen…

It’s Christmastime three hundred sixty-five days a year in Rudolph, New York, and as Christmas Day approaches, shop owner Merry Wilkinson is enjoying a rare evening off at the Yuletide Inn when she runs into owners Grace and Jack Olsen. With Jack’s health failing, Merry is relieved to hear that his son Gord will be taking over the day-to-day running of the Inn.

But then Gord reveals that his new plans have no room for Christmas at the Inn, and Merry and the other shopkeepers start to fret about the effect a bland franchise hotel could have on their livelihoods.

When Gord is found stabbed to death, there’s an entire town of potential suspects—and it’s up to Merry to find whoever brought homicide home for the holidays…

 

 

 

A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

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Pages: 422

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 23, 2019

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A thrilling psychological read that will keep you up late into the night. When you get to the last 15-20 chapters, make sure you can finish in one sitting. I had to wait to finish and it was agonizing!

Campbell does a great job alternating the first-person accounts between Caroline and Aiden. One minute you feel sorry for Caroline and the next Aiden. You don’t know who to believe until the very end.

This the perfect vacation book as you won’t want to put it down.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Parade’s “10 Books Written by Women We Can’t-Wait to Read in 2019” | She Reads’ “Most Anticipated Thrillers of Summer 2019” | Pure Wow’s “The Best Beach Reads of Summer 2019” | CrimeReads’ “The Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer”

From bestselling author Michele Campbell comes A Stranger on the Beach, an edge-of-your-seat story of passion and intrigue that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Caroline Stark’s beach house was supposed to be her crowning achievement: a lavish, expensive space to showcase what she thought was her perfect family. But after a very public fight with her husband, she realizes things may not be as perfect as they seem: her husband is lying to her, the money is disappearing, and there’s a stranger on the beach outside her house.

As Caroline’s marriage and her carefully constructed lifestyle begin to collapse around her, she turns to Aidan, the stranger, for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s infatuation with Caroline, her family, and her house becomes more and more destructive. But who is manipulating whom in this deadly game of obsession and control? Who will take the blame when someone ends up dead…and what is Caroline hiding?