A Wedding on the Beach by Holly Chamberlin

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Pages: 448

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 3 stars

NetGalley:

A summer wedding, a college reunion, a gorgeous Maine beach house—it’s the ideal setting for bestselling author Holly Chamberlin’s captivating novel about the connections that shape us, sometimes break our hearts, and forever change our lives . . .

Bess Culpepper has long been sure of two things—that her group of college friends would stay close, and that love is worth the wait. At forty-two, she’s found the right man, and she’s celebrating her upcoming wedding by inviting her best friends to beautiful Kennebunkport.

Bess has always been at the helm of these reunions, herding everyone together despite distance and outside commitments. As usual, Marta and Mike journey from their home near New York City, while Chuck and his husband, Dean, travel from Los Angeles. But Allison, half of a devoted couple since college, is making the trip from Chicago without her husband, Chris. None of the others knows the reason for their impending divorce. There are other tensions too. The usually level-headed Marta is conspicuously on edge, and Chuck reveals devastating personal news.

As reality encroaches on her dreams of the perfect gathering, Bess begins to second guess her assumptions about friendship and fidelity. If relationships like these, nurtured over decades, can flounder, how can any couple stay committed? Is it possible to truly know the ones we love—or even to predict where one’s own path will lead?

My Review:

I hate rating books below 4 stars but I could not rate this book any higher.

Major reasons why I was not thrilled with the book:

  1. It was never-ending. I felt like it went on and on and I was reading every single minute of their lives.
  2. For Bess, to be in her early 40’s she sure was whiney and self-centered. I understand it is all about the bride but this went overboard. She acted like everyone had to run their lives by her or it was poor pitiful left out me.

I normally like Holly Chamberlin’s books and plan on reading more. Give this a whirl if you love summer beach weddings, you may find it a favorite.

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

Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

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Pages: 162

Publisher: Revell

Published: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn’t always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, “Where’s the snow?” Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista’s Christmas spirit before the big day?

My Review:

A sweet quick Christmas read filled with hope, warmth, and love. The perfect book to sit by a warm fire with a cup of peppermint cocoa and lose yourself in the joys of Winter Hill.

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

The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The sisters of summit ave

NetGalley:

From Lynn Cullen, the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End, comes a powerful novel set in the Midwest during the Great Depression, about two sisters bound together by love, duty, and pain.

Ruth has been single-handedly raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm for eight long years, ever since her husband, John, fell into a comatose state, infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. If only she could trade places with her older sister, June, who is the envy of everyone she meets: blonde and beautiful, married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul. And June has a coveted job, too, as one of “the Bettys,” the perky recipe developers who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But these gilded trappings hide sorrows: she has borne no children. And the man she used to love more than anything belongs to Ruth.

When the two sisters reluctantly reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness about her sister’s betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which might blow up the fragile peace she hopes to restore between her daughters.

An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together, for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a heartfelt love letter to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere.

My Review:

I enjoyed this book enough to give it four stars but I was not thrilled with the style of writing. The story jumps from past to present and between the sisters and Dorothy. Normally that does not bother me but in this book, I thought it took the punch of the story away. I would get really invested in the current storyline and then, bam, it would switch.

I knew going in, this was a work of fiction but I really thought I’d get to the end and be told it was loosely based on a true story. Alas, that did not occur. I have found myself reading what I can on the creation of Betty Crocker.

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

Class Mom (Class Mom #1) by Laurie Gelman

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Pages: 302

Publisher: Henry & Holt Co.

Published: August 1, 2017

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom–or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it’s her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max–this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA President see her as the-wisest-candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree.

From recording parents’ response times to her emails about helping in the classroom to requesting contributions of-special-brownies for curriculum night, not all of Jen’s methods win approval from the other moms. Throw in an old flame from Jen’s past, a hyper-sensitive -allergy mom,-a surprisingly sexy kindergarten teacher, and an impossible-to-please Real Housewife-wannabe, causing problems at every turn, and the job really becomes much more than she signed up for.

My Review:

I’m not sure how I came across this book. It showed up in my email as an available book I put on hold with my e-library. I’m so glad I read it. It was the perfect book for a holiday weekend. Plenty of laughs.

Jen is hilarious in the emails she sends to the class parents. Coming from the educator side and the parent side it is so frustrating when the same parents volunteer and some parents are pretty much invisible.

There is a sequel to Class Mom and I’m thinking I will see what it is about.

All the Flowers in Paris: A Novel by Sarah Jio

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Pages: 291

Publisher: Random House Publishing

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Two women are connected across time by the city of Paris, a mysterious stack of love letters, and shocking secrets sweeping from World War II to the present—for readers of Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale.

When Caroline wakes up in a Paris hospital with no memory of her past, she’s confused to learn that for years she’s lived a sad, reclusive life in a sprawling apartment on the rue Cler. Slowly regaining vague memories of a man and a young child, she vows to piece her life back together—though she can’t help but feel she may be in danger. A budding friendship with the chef of a charming nearby restaurant takes her mind off her foggy past, as does a startling mystery from decades prior.

In Nazi-occupied Paris, a young widow named Céline is trying to build a new life for her daughter while working in her father’s flower shop and hoping to find love again. Then a ruthless German officer discovers her Jewish ancestry and Céline is forced to play a dangerous game to secure the safety of her loved ones. When her worst fears come true, she must fight back in order to save the person she loves most: her daughter.

When Caroline discovers Céline’s letters tucked away in a closet, she realizes that her apartment harbors dark secrets—and that she may have more in common with Céline than she could have ever imagined.

All the Flowers in Paris is an emotionally captivating novel rooted in the resiliency and strength of the human spirit, the steadfastness of a mother’s love, and the many complex layers of the heart—especially its capacity to forgive.

My Review:

I was captivated by Celine’s story. My heart filled with pain and anguish every time I would read her story. The fear she had to face and the decisions she had to live with was heart-wrenching. No matter how many WWII stories I read I never get immune to the pain they suffered. I learn something new every single time. I cannot even begin to comprehend what our ancestors experienced. I pray a time like that never occurs again.

Caroline’s story is equally filled with raw emotion. To wake up one day and not know who you are? Terrifying to say the least. I would probably die of a panic attack. She is a brave woman to trust those around her to find herself again.

Be prepared: have a full box of tissues at your side and don’t have any plans. You will not want to put this book down. It is a powerfully, moving story that will captivate you from beginning to end.

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

The Loyal One (The Walnut Creek series #2) by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Pages: 282

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

When Katie Steury hires her old friend Harley Lambright to remodel her rundown old house into a charming bed and breakfast, she does so with trepidation. Though they are longtime friends, they’ve always had a rocky relationship, thanks to her being partly responsible for his most recent breakup. But while they may not always get along, she needs someone to trust with her secrets, and Harley is nothing if not trustworthy and loyal.

Katie has always reminded Harley of a bright hummingbird—she is small and flighty, moves a mile a minute, and she possesses a very sharp beak. He’s hesitant to accept the job because of his history with Katie. But when he realizes that Katie’s been hiding her mother’s hoarding, he agrees to help her because it’s clear she needs someone on her side.

Both soon discover that clearing the debris in one old house also means they have to do some clean-up in their lives, forcing them to reevaluate their past and their future. This somewhat painful process reveals that Katie isn’t the only one with secrets. As the house gets a second chance, so, too, does their relationship. Now all they have to do is open their hearts—and hope and pray that their new bond will also stand the test of time.

My Review:

The Loyal One is my favorite of The Walnut Creem series. Katie’s story is filled with love and caring for others.

You cannot help but be moved by Katie’s story. I could not imagine having to live the way she did since her father died. Knowing you could not invite friends over afraid of what they would think and say to others. Even as an adult she had a hard time sharing with her closet friends what had been going on with her mother’s hoarding. The Eight showed us what it means to love someone unconditionally and when together there is nothing you cannot overcome.

The Loyal One had made me look at the “things” in my life and say, “Can I live without that?” There are many things that I can.

Each book in The Walnut Creek series can be read as a standalone but I would hope you would read from the beginning to get the feel of the characters.

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

Under Currents by Nora Roberts

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Pages: 436

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 9, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon:

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.

My Review:

This book is more about Zane than Darby but Darby’s character ended up being a powerhouse.

If you are sensitive to any type of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, etc.) then read with caution. There are sexual situations and coarse language but nothing irrelevant to the story.

Book a vacation day ASAP and dive into this book. I promise you will not be able to put down.

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

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Pages: 364

Publisher: Berkley

Published: June 4, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Amazon:

Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home—until she learns of her dad’s failing health.

Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade and the brother who runs the family’s Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters’ rift. While Alzheimer’s slowly steals their father’s memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena’s own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

My Review:

A beautifully written story on a horrible disease. I could not imagine losing bits and pieces of my dad daily. I have a hard enough time dealing with normal memory loss as he ages.

Be prepared to be shocked, happy and then crying so hard the pages in your book become water-logged.

A must-read in 2019 new releases!

A Welcome at the Door (An Amish Homestead Novel #4) by Amy Clipston

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Pages: 318

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Over the last few years, Cindy Riehl—the youngest of the Riehl children—has watched her siblings find love and happiness in Lancaster County. But as her family has settled down and grown, Cindy has continued to grieve her mother, whose death left an enormous hole in her heart. Since that haunting day, Cindy has struggled to find peace and wonders if the community is the place for her—and if her faith in God will ever feel the same as it once did.

When a handsome and kind Englisher named Drew crosses Cindy’s path one surprising day, the two of them become fast and easy friends. Drew dreams of starting a family after some losses of his own, and before long, he and Cindy discover that their feelings for each other are romantic. As they spend more time together—often in secret—Cindy is drawn further and further away from the Amish community and the family she loves. In time, she is faced with a difficult choice that threatens to upend her world.

Will Cindy find contentment and love, and will she ever find restored comfort in God and her beloved community? In this final installment of the Amish Homestead series, we return to the charming town of Bird-in-Hand for a story of healing, family, and God’s perfect provision.

My Review:

Amy Clipston has written a stunner of a conclusion to a great family series. There is so much emotion jumping from the pages that you would have to be heartless not to feel the pain Cindy experiences in her decisions when it comes to Drew.

You do not have to read the series in her order but I would suggest you do. You will appreciate Cindy’s story more.

  1.  A Place at Our Table
  2.  Room on the Porch Swing
  3.  A Seat by the Hearth
  4.  A Welcome at Our Door

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

The Farmer’s Bride (An Amish Brides of Birch Creek #2) by Kathleen Fuller

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: June 6, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon:

Martha Detweiler has a problem many Amish women her age would envy: she’s the only single woman in a community of young men, and they’re all competing for her favor. Overwhelmed by the unwanted attention, Martha finds herself constantly fleeing from her would-be suitors, dismayed at what her life has come to.

Birch Creek’s resident matchmaker, Cevilla Schlabach, suggests a solution: Martha and the bishop’s son, Seth Yoder, should pretend they are dating. What better way to keep the other young men away?

But Seth is the only man around not interested in Martha. He has a secret hobby that keeps him away from social gatherings: woodcarving. Having grown up in poverty, he’s determined to keep his father’s farm successful, even if it means he has no time for dating. Then Delilah Stoll, a new resident of Birch Creek, eyes Seth as the perfect man for her granddaughter. Suddenly Cevilla’s proposition doesn’t seem all that ludicrous. Can Seth and Martha convince their family and friends to leave them alone?

My Review:

My second visit to Birch Creek was as enjoyable as my first. In The Farmer’s Bride, we follow the path of love through Martha and Seth’s journey filled with many ups and downs.

I was thrilled to learn that Martha had an interest in a profession that is not typical of an Amish woman. I was even more thrilled that Fuller highlighted in such a beautiful light. She let Martha have this joy and didn’t keep her confined to the norm.

The Farmer’s Bride is a perfect addition to any Amish reader’s collection. It will leave you smiling and happy after you turn the last page.

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