Gia's Review Archives

November 2018

The Christmas Prayer by Wanda E. Brunstetter

I am a big fan of historical fiction, especially when the stories are sweet, romantic, exciting…and when courting meant courting. And I think Wanda E. Brunstetter is amazing.

 

Heading west on a wagon, facing the unknown hazards and dangers, Cynthia finds courage and determination, and a little adventure.

 

Reading this made my whole day. Wonderful story. Gorgeous cover!

 

Highly recommended.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for the read of Wanda E. Brunstetter’s, The Christmas Prayer.

 

My opinions in my review are my own.

December 2018

How to be Content: An Inspired Guide to Happiness by Arlene Unger

I enjoyed this easy to read guide to a more calm and content way of life.

It was very interesting going from the ancient civilizations to our modern way of searching out that elusive contentment.

 

If we could all only truly appreciate the joy we can get from the simplest things like a walk on a lovely day, or being kind, we would find that calm and peace, much more achievable. A great stocking-stuffer.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – White Lion Publishing for the read of Arlene Unger’s, How to be Content An inspired guide to happiness.

My opinions in my review are my own.

In Times Gone By by Tracie Peterson

I've had a long time love of Tracie Peterson's writing style, her characters, her stories.

 

Thank you Tracie for another wonderful escape. And a seriously gorgeous cover. The colours!

Times Gone By, the third in the Golden Gate series … loved it.

 

I jumped right into this one. Started it, couldn’t put it down. Camri, Judith and Kenzie, draw you into their lives, the storylines are engaging, and you will have to read it to find out! As always , a lovely, good feel read, with a gentle Christian message. Definitely recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House for the read of Tracie Peterson’s, In Times Gone By.

 

My opinions in my review are my own.

 

The 30-Day Prayer Challenge for Women   by Nicole O'Dell

I could have read this book in one sitting. Instead, I chose to delight in the inspiration from every one of the 30 days.

 

I looked forward to waking up and reading the daily bible verse, the journaling that resonated with me – because it did, and the prompts and prayers were lovely. I found myself returning to certain ones throughout the day. I highly recommend this beautiful book of daily prayer and contemplation.

 

It will surely give you reason to stop for a few moments and fill up on the many graces from our Lord.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for the read of Nicole O’Dell’s, The 30-Day Prayer Challenge for Women.

 

My opinions in my review are my own.

January 2019

A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter

 

What a joy it was to have read this book. I did not put it down until it was done!

 

I love Kristi Ann Hunter’s books, and The Haven Manor series has become one of my favourites. Her characters, especially William and Daphne are both engaging and genuine.

 

I am a fan of historical fiction. Reading how women facing adversity, making sacrifices, yet managing to prevail despite the era of the old classes; superior and inferior, so typical of the 1800’s. It always makes me stop and realize how truly hard it must have been.

 

The message threaded throughout of how God’s hand is in every aspect of life, was inspiring.

 

A Return of Devotion is a definite must-read.

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publisher’s through NetGalley.

 

The opinions in my review are my own.

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

I read this in one sitting. I loved it.

 

Meet Fixie, who ‘fixes’ everything. The sibling everyone walks all over. The child the mother always expects to be the go-to girl. Did I ever dislike her siblings. Oh yeah. Ryan, her childhood crush, rotten.

 

Things take an interesting turn when one random day, Fixie meets Seb in a coffee shop and she saves his laptop from being destroyed. He is so grateful and insists that he ‘owes her one’. From that fateful moment on,  their lives are entwined forever.

 

I will never look at a coffee sleeve the same way again!

 

A definite must-read.

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group – Random House The Dial Press through NetGalley.

 

The opinions in my review are my very own.

Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

This is one of my reviews where I state quite simply: I could not stop until I finished it.

 

Lucille is such a vivid character. Without even knowing it, she affects the people around her in ways she will never know. Iris, Tiny, Monica, Abbey, Lincoln…I want to know them all. And who doesn’t want to move to Mason after this book!?

 

Thank you to Elizabeth Berg for a wonderfully, heart-warming story that made my heart smile.

 

Wholeheartedly recommend this book for our shelves.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the read of Elizabeth Berg's, Night of Miracles.

 

The opinions in my review are my own.

 

Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

It is 1929 and Tayler Hale is an ahead-of-her-time, independent woman of privilege. More comfortable outdoors than in fancy dresses, Tayler takes a job as a guide at the Curry Hotel in Alaska to escape a marriage she has no intentions of getting into, not even for her mother's sake.

 

Thomas, college educated and working at the Curry, is attracted to Tayler’s vibrancy and confidence, but not so sure about Tayler’s ability to do the job. Will he be able to get past that?

 

The world building, the imagery and vivid description of the beauty of Alaska, was wonderful but it was the engaging characters and story line that kept me reading this great book in pretty much one sitting. The intertwined added bonuses of several different catch-ups from past characters, was great. I also really appreciated the scripture references and the faithfulness to God and his perfect plan for everyone.

 

Another couldn’t-put-it-down-read! Very highly recommended!

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publisher through NetGalley.

 

The opinions in my review are my own.

February 2019

Worry Less, Pray More by Donna K. Maltese

From the very pretty cover, its connective bible verses and devotions, to the lovely prayers, reading this dedicated devotional to women, inspired in me a real zeal.

 

I have read many devotional books on prayer and letting go and letting God, with several of them inspiring. But I really connected to this devotional. It touched my spirit, and I have begun to truly start trying to worry less, and by praying more, abandon my anxieties to God.

 

I think any one would be better for having read this book, spreading its message, and sharing its lovely light.

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing through NetGalley.

 

The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

Look at the time! Anyone still up?

 

Once again, it's late. I should be reading.

Or doing my mindfulness exercises.

Or hey, how about sleeping?! That's a good one.

Instead, I'm on my very fledgling book review blog, hoping to make it appealing to readers, publishers, authors, and you!

 

I'm not new to what blogging is, but I'm new to it.

I have wanted to read and review, proof read, and edit for publishers and authors for EVER.

Maybe even try my hand at publishing some of my own work.  Hence...giascribes.

 

Life just always seemed to have other plans for me. Like a divorce and raising 2 children solo. So I had things to take care of. Many tough years of it too. As my wonderful pink and blue have grown into some semblance of independence, I get a bit of mine back too.

 

I have come to a place where it is time to take back what is left of me, and put myself out there. I have this dream of making a site that is safe to visit, engages the readers, and gives all around "feel-goods". Readers, publishers, authors, bloggers, librarians, artists, children, teens, adults, ALL are welcome to subscribe, comment, and even follow if they want.

 

I intend for my reviews to be genuine and expressed in my own words, my opinions. I will not recap the whole book. No offense to the very talented reviewers out there who are much more detailed than I will ever get. It's just not my style. Sometimes, the reviews will be longer. Sometimes, not so much. I want anyone (anyone), who reads my reviews to smile when they do, find themselves enticed to go buy the book, read it, finish it, and repeat. (With a new book.)

 

I have a few Blog Tours coming up. Check the countdown calendar. Aria has some must-read beauteous books coming out and I am so very privileged to have them stopping by giascribes. So excited! Aria Addict - not gonna lie. Thank you Vicky:)

 

This week, I say goodbye to a dear friend. Kevin, you get to take care of your loved ones from heaven now. I also saw the incredibly inspiring, Be Here Now: The Andy Whitfield Story. The Spartacus gladiator, and real life hero. I will post the trailer link in my Ahhhdioscribes. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

 

gia saying goodnight.

The Spitfire Girl in the Skies by Fenella J. Miller

It is World War II. England has joined the fight to beat Hitler and his deadly regime. Wanting to serve her country, Ellie flies planes for the Air Transport Auxiliary transporting aircraft to and from the bases.

 

Ellie embodies the Spitfire girl in the skies and the role of the courageous women pilots of WWII.

 

War has broken Ellie’s family. Her favourite brother was killed in action. Her parent’s marriage is over – her father is about to remarry. Her mother and brother have disappeared, siding with Hitler.

 

Ellie draws hope from the plans she and her handsome RAF pilot fiancé Greg have, to marry. Waiting until after the war seemed sensible, but Ellie has a change of heart and decides she wants to move their union forward. Neither of them saw the brewing scandal that was about to hit them and alter their futures drastically.

 

All this time, there is Jack - Ellie’s deceased brother’s best friend. Dependable, supportive, more-like-a-brother-Jack. Torn between being the best friend she can always turn to, and wanting to express his undying love for her, Jack remains steadfastly by her side. But when Jack suffers a misfortune, he becomes insecure about whether he will ever stand a chance to win Ellie’s love. Cliff-hanger!

 

Maintaining her courage and spirit with the help and support of the many friends she makes through her different flying assignments, we see Ellie’s character grow in resilience, strength and confidence.

 

Fenella Miller does an incredible job of describing vividly the time of war; the siren warnings for incoming enemy attacks, the spartan living through the shortages of material wants and rationing of food. The careful attention to such detail has the reader flying, dodging bullet fire in a dogfight in the air, or peacefully gliding a plane across a blue, cloudless sky, and then running right next to the people fleeing for the safety of the bomb shelters, or visiting injured soldiers and those dying heroes who valiantly gave their lives for freedom.

 

The Spitfire Girl in the Skies is a testament to those fiercely determined and heroic women who persisted on joining the fight for freedom of not just their country, but the whole world.

 

Highly recommended. Thank you to Aria and NetGalley. Opinions expressed in my reviews are my very own.

April 2019

Coming Home to Holly Close Farm by Julie Houston

When sisters Charlie and Daisy return home to London, each retreating for their own personal reasons, they are encouraged to take on a family restoration project and uncover a secret their grandmother Madge, buried deep in the past. The discovery leads Madge to unravel her past, and we travel with them to sixty years ago when Madge was a young woman.

 

The swapping between the story timelines kept me engaged and eager to continue. I enjoyed getting to know Charlie, Daisy – all the genuine characters, but Madge – she was a real treat.

Julie Houston delivers a heartfelt story that gladdens the heart with humor and grace, and inspires the hope that stirs the heart.

 

I heartfully recommend Coming Home to Holly Close Farm. A delight to read.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for the read of Julie Houston’s, Coming Home to Holly Close Farm. Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

What a journey through turbulent times.

 

Catherine Stands-Apart, half French Canadian and half Mohawk, is brave, proud and torn between her two cultures. Neither accepts her. Deciding to live with her more-drunk-than-not, French Canadian father, sets her on a life path that is at times dangerous, almost always heart-wrenching, yet her bravado is to cheer for.

 

Samuel is not the typical love interest. Does he deserve the choice she makes to help rescue him? I was torn in so many ways. As in, talking to the book torn. There are many worthy, genuine characters. Excellent world building. Story lines that just twist and turn and take you by surprise.

 

If you're a historical fiction lover, you must read this book. If you're not a historical fiction lover, you must read this book anyways! As a Canadian, I am very familiar with Quebec. It has an incredible history, so I appreciated the very accurate historical details depicted of the time of the French and Indian War, and the gruesome realities of it.

 

Loved it. Highly recommended. Just read it!

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley.

 

The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

 

Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

This is the first book of Lucy Coleman’s that I’ve read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I now, most definitely, have to read all her work.

 

Successful writer Brianna, is in a professional rut. As well, she is slumped into a personal bit of a nosedive, having recently gone through a break up with her famous rock star boyfriend. Brianna’s confidence, and esteem are hurting. She pretty much throws herself into her own pity party. Until her family and friends hold a loving intervention to pull her up and out of it.

 

With a gentle kick in the pants, and best friend Mel support, Brianna starts to get her groove back. When Carrie, her editor-friend, proposes an opportunity for Brianna to be a fill-in for a writer retreat in Italy, Brianna soon finds herself in a villa, in a room with a beautiful view, overlooking Lake Garda.

 

Arran is a published and successful author, who owns the villa and runs the writer retreat every summer. He welcomes Brianna a little reservedly, but quickly comes to respect her professional expertise.

 

Can Brianna get under Arran’s reserved skin and get him to open up? Does she want to? A lovely connection begins between the two of them…a softening up of hearts that were hurting.

 

Lucy Coleman takes you right to the sunshine warmth of Italy. I could smell the sweet flowers; see the beautiful lake as I sat on the balcony looking out at the incredible views. I felt like I knew my way around the villa, and I definitely wanted to join the lively group for dinner, or just as they strolled to town for evening walkabouts.

 

There is healing, acceptance, breaking down of emotional walls, taking chances, joy and romance. Summer on the Italian Lakes has all the feel-goods. It is a gem of a read.

I loved the book. Anyone who reads it will too. Highly recommend it.

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Aria through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

March 2019

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

 

Meet Cassie. Strong, tough, guarded.


Fearless, female firefighter holding her own.

 

Past family wounds catch up with her when the mother who abandoned her, reappears in her life, and needs Cassie.

 

The threading of love throughout this story is beautiful.

 

Cassie has fortified the walls around her heart for a long time – no one gets in.


Owen’s gentleness and kindness, helps her to slowly loosen the strands that wrap around her heart.


You can feel Cassie’s character change as she faces emotional transformations as she learns to feel again, and walk down the long road to forgiveness.

 

A fabulous read. I loved the book and highly recommend it.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press. The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

A very touching and moving story about how anyone can make mistakes, or bad choices that affect you for a lifetime, and have you sticking things out for the overall good.

 

Until you just have to stop living against your grain, and set yourself free.

 

We meet Lauren, mother of two, well-on-their-way daughters, struggling with her decision over staying with her abusive and controlling husband of over twenty years, or moving forward to an unknown, but what would have to be, a better future.

 

Lauren befriends Beau, who is going through his own nasty divorce, and the two develop a real friendship that strengthens and supports the other.

 

Robyn Carr does a beautiful job of showing how their love grows out of that friendship.

 

The story is a testament to breaking away from the fear that keeps you standing still, and having enough courage to walking towards something better for yourself.

 

I highly recommend it. Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin – Mira. The opinions expressed in my review are my own.

Summer of New Beginnings by Lisa Hobman

From the absolutely gorgeous cover, right through to the end of this wonderful book, Lisa Hobman delivers a sure-fire must-read.

 

Zara, beautiful, dream job travel writer, seems to have it all going on – even has Josh, the gorgeous boyfriend to boot. Just when Zara starts to think Josh might be ready to move them to the next level, he drops a relationship TNT. Hurt, shaken and confused, Zara needs time to sort out her emotions and figure out what she wants.

 

Perfectly timed is her boss’s decision to send Zara on assignment to Scotland for the NC500. Zara is not overly thrilled, as bicycling and camping out are not exactly her thing. Nonetheless, Zara is encouraged by her loving family and friends that this assignment couldn’t have come at a better time for her.

 

Zara resignedly begins her bicycling journey and en route, discovers the breathtaking beauty of the North Highlands. With every aching mile, Zara becomes increasingly enchanted with the sheer splendour of the rugged mountainsides, white sand beaches, friendly locals, and yes, a handsome stranger.

 

When Zara meets with a head-over-handle bars mishap, she finds herself suddenly being taken care of Lachlan (Lachy), her handsome lawyer-come-crofter stranger. With Lachy, tending to her along with Bess, his faithful furry friend, Zara discovers the peace and calm that comes with the quiet of the countryside, far from the city.

 

Both Zara and Lachy realize the chemistry brewing between them, but they each have their own past hurts and issues to sort out, and Zara is determined to finish her 500 miles, and return to her London life. But with the beauty of Scotland still steaming in every part of her, can she ignore the crazy beatings of her heart whenever she thinks of Lachy?

 

After experiencing an extraordinary turn of events, Zara finds herself back in Scotland, where a miscommunication causes a rift between herself and Lachy. Can the two find their way to each other on this rocky road romance?

 

You’ll have to read it to find out.

 

There was so much that I loved about this book. The characters were genuine; Zara could be your real-life friend and Lachy, a sensitive but all-manly man. Friends and family were true to life.

 

Just as brilliant, was the way Lisa Hobman captured the scenery. The pages were drenched in brilliant blue skies, sandy white beaches, and gorgeous mountains. You could create in your mind so vividly the smell of the aromatic hot chocolate, or the taste of the homemade flapjacks. Just wonderful.

 

After reading A Summer of New Beginnings, you cannot help but want to experience for yourself the splendour of Scotland … and the chance to bump into a gorgeous Scotsman a la kilt.

 

Totally loved the book.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria, for the read of Lisa Hobman’s, A Summer of New Beginnings.  Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

Give Up Worry for Lent! by Gary Zimak

 

I feel like this book was written for me, and anyone who worries about...just about everything.

 

I have already read the book, and you do not need to wait for Lent. Yes, it's a perfect time to start - it is the title after all, but you can implement this any day of your life.

 

Gary Zimak’s four simple steps, read, reflect, respond, pray… works.  It works.

 

Reading is like the hope you seek.

Reflecting is like the deep breath.

Responding is like the inhale.

Prayer is the meditation.

 

I truly felt moments where I could feel my trust in God actually go through my mind, body and soul. I loved this and will practice it in all areas of my life. I felt it bring me that much closer to our Lord, and gave a real boost of inspiration to my faith.

 

Now that Lent is here, maybe I'll start the book again. Chocolate or worry? I'll keep my chocolate.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Ave Maria Press, for the read of Gary Zimak’s, Give Up Worry for Lent!

The opinions expressed in my reviews are my very own.

A Rebel at Pennington's by Rachel Brimble

It is the early 1900’s, Bath, England. We meet Esther, a young, independent, woman who is in charge of displays for Pennington’s department store.

 

Esther is determined to continue in her deceased mother’s footsteps fighting for the suffragette movement. This does not go over well with her father and new stepmother, and she is sent to go live with her stodgy aunt.

 

Esther loves her job, gives everything she has to the suffragette cause, and yet, her heart yearns for something more. She wants to find love. But, will finding it mean she has to give up her hard-earned independence and identity?

 

We meet the widower Lawrence, father of two young children and owner of The Phoenix, a prestigious hotel in the city. Lawrence has suffered an emotionally crippling past and is not looking for love when he meets Esther at Pennington’s.

 

The two have an instant connection, despite their initial cheeky exchange, and Lawrence’s interest is more than peaked. As they get to know each other, Lawrence struggles with revealing his past – will it scare Esther away?

 

Rachel Brimble slowly builds up the trust in their relationship with a delightful full out, the-way-it-used to be-courtship, all while interweaving events of the pivotal historical movement of the suffragettes, adding a few twists along the way.

 

I enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it.

 

Thank you to Aria and NetGalley. The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings

How many of us would truly accept help getting rid of it?

 

Gillian, the dejected, lesser, little sister. Certain the proverbial grass is greener where her successful sister lives. Baggage.

 

Michael, the student athlete living his life to fulfill someone else’s never-achieved-dream. But it’s not the track he wants to feel under his feet; it’s the wood of a paint brush in his fingers he burns for. Baggage.

 

David, an over-worked businessman, poised to lose everything, angry, embittered, and unable to forgive betrayals. Baggage.

 

These three individuals know nothing of the other, but their identical luggage gets mixed up together. They each have to go retrieve their bags.

 

Enter the Baggage Handler.

 

This book had me highlighting sentences, even whole paragraphs. It is that good. It is THAT stirring.

 

David Rawlings’ The Baggage Handler had me weeping. Soul searching. Cheering. Inspired.

 

The Baggage Handler to Michael, “When you hand your baggage to me, it’s a conscious act of your will to hand it over, and then” - he framed the room with his hands - “this is the most important part: when you give it to me, you need to let go of it.”

 

Tell me that wouldn’t be one of the greatest gifts ever, for so many of us?

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

The Last Dance by Aimee Brown

The Last Dance is a heart-hitting love story that Aimee delivers with a winning poignancy through her savvy writing, on-point wit, refreshing originality, relatable, genuine characters and their totally conceivable situations.

 

We meet Ambri and Henry, fated to be best friends from the day they met. The ingenuous Ambri is still a work in progress, trying to find her place in life. I love her unpretentious nature and vulnerability. How she worked her almost fetish-like love of food and music into a career would make anyone green with envy! Ambri’s character is candid, sincere, and funny - I bonded with her almost instinctively.

 

Henry is solid, trustworthy, grounded, and gorgeous - but he is also a bit broken and lives in the shadow of hesitation carrying around his share of insecurity and angst. There are many layers to Henry. Lucky for us, we get to see them slowly peeled back.

 

As it happens, Henry marries Ambri’s sister Rory, but sadly, Rory dies shortly afterwards, enveloping everyone in grief. This tragic event challenges the strength of Ambri and Henry’s friendship, and leads to one fateful night that forever alters the course of their relationship.

The Last Dance, literally begs the question, can you truly forgive and forget?

 

Aimee moves between Ambri’s and Henry’s point of views seamlessly, pacing the storyline’s momentum beautifully. You are quickly invested emotionally in her characters. Even Ambri’s and Henry’s best friends - couple Claire and Ben – are as genuine as characters can be. You get to know them and love them with all their quirks and insecurities, the way they talk, how they laugh, how they hurt. I laughed out loud to myself and many times throughout the book, I cried. Could not help it, and I dare you not to.

 

I had a hard time choosing because there are so many insightful parts for reflection, but I have to share one of my favourite Ambri quotes: “It’s weird, I know it is, but life moves on and I refuse to keep missing out on things because my feelings can’t handle it.” How relatable is that?  Give your heartstrings a good tug and your spirits a delightful lift, and read this book.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for the read of Aimee Brown’s, The Last Dance.

 

My opinions in my reviews are my own.

September 2019

His Secret Family by Ali Mercer

Past secrets seem to always have a way of surfacing and colliding with the present when the truth must be discovered. The hopes, dreams, heartbreaks, trials, healing, and elusive joys in the lives of Ava, Ellie, Jenny and Paula - seen through their eyes, immediately engage you.

 

Their stories are threaded together by the actions and decisions of one man. A man who has intentions of his own, regardless of the fall-out and has deviously played them all. Some societal issues; divorce, alcoholism, infidelity, autism, even a touch of the mystic, are dealt with grace and sensitivity in this well-paced and emotion driven book. Ali Mercer has that on on-target ability to lock in your emotions from her first sentence and her stories stay with you long after the book is finished.

 

I highly recommend His Secret Family and reading everything Ali writes.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the read of Ali Mercer’s, His Secret Family.

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

October 2019

Rivals by Sam Michaels

Georgina Garrett is back.

 

Grittier, gutsier, gangbuster.

 

It’s time for the Maids of Battersea to stand up against the town goons and Georgina Garrett is the only one tough enough to take on the lead. She has plans to take over running Billy’s business - something no man will ever take seriously, never mind accept.

 

Georgina is as sharp and savvy as she is beautiful and knows exactly how to deal with those who question her authority – with an iron fist.

 

Her retributions are doled out to her betrayers as generously as she shows her gratitude to those who are loyal, and she soon shows who is the boss.

 

With characters both likeable and detestable but completely engaging, and an action-packed storyline set in the heart of the 1930’s mobster era, Sam Michaels delivers a compelling, thrilling page-turner.

 

I can’t wait to read more of Georgina!

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for the read of Sam Michaels’, Rivals.

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

War in My Town by Edy Graziani

Thank you to Edy Graziani and Second Story Press for the honour of reading War in My Town, a poignant and sentimental memoir of your mother, Bruna.

 

This particular review will forever be dearest to my heart because it is written in part with my adorable and beloved mother.

 

Bruna and Edo, my mother and father were very close – in fact, relatives and when my mother read War in My Town, she said it was like being hurled back in time to the white-washed villas and terracotta roofs, the crowing roosters, the sunshine and mountains of her cherished Toscani – to her memories before the Nazi occupation.

 

It is with great pride and joy that I present my mother’s review of War in My Town.

 

Translated, War in My Town means, La Guerra Nel Mio Paese. Bruna was my husband’s paesana. My husband’s uncle married Bruna’s sister Aurelia who is a main personality in the book. Bruna’s and my husband’s family were born and raised in Eglio - one of a number of smaller towns close to Molazzana, which is where I was born. Our villages were all within walking distance and back then, everyone knew everyone.

 

Garfagnana is not a large area but it is full of little villages that we all called home. I know the love Bruna held for her home, her family. Life was beautifully simple then. The detailed descriptions of the village, the true-to-life authenticity of the people who lived there - just recalling their names is near reverence for me. The picturesque depictions of the countryside and campagne, brought tears to my eyes. Those verdant, beautiful campagne surrounding our villages, saved many of our men and entire families fleeing from the invading Germans.

 

Edy’s retelling of her mother’s story is truly poignant and remarkably accurate. The reality of how WWII and the Nazi occupation affected all of Garfagnana, and most significantly Eglio, was nearly catastrophic.

 

As a young teenager Bruna survived WWII, one of the most brutal periods in our history. The loss of loved ones, living in the fear of being killed, the deprivation of food and basic needs. Yet, living under the Nazi regime through her coming-of-age years, did not break her spirit.

 

I dearly loved War in My Town. I started reading it and did not stop until I finished it.  Edy’s writing, I can say with certezza is a beautiful gift, accomplished and avvincente.
 

Edy has brought Bruna’s recollection and memories vividly to life. War in My Town is an exceptional read. One for teachers and educators to study in-class. One that all libraries should shelf. And one especially for all youth of today to remind them that their freedom is not free – it comes at a dear cost.

 

Highly recommend as a must-read.

The Last Day of Winter by Shari Low

Opening up with a hilarious bridesmaids’ morning-after-the-night-before scene, Shari Low sets the reader off on a ride of laugh out loud stitches, streaming tears. and gnawing guessing throughout the rest of the book.

 

Everyone in this group of amazing friends and family are gathered for the big event, Cammy and Caro’s winter wedding. But the road to happily-ever-after never does run according to plan and there a few snags along the way. The biggest being the runaway bride!

 

With the dynamic Josie leading the loveable pack, can she work her magic to bring everything and everyone together before the clock strikes?

 

Shari Low brings her delightful characters to life with such vibrancy in all their flaws, vulnerabilities and authenticity and challenges them to realistic life circumstances.

 

The reader is totally absorbed, invested and engaged…and anyone lucky enough to have friends just like these lovelies, is blessed.

 

The Last Day of Winter is an absolute jewel of a story.

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for the read of Shari Low’s, The Last Day of Winter.

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

Broken Souls by Patricia Gibney

A woman dressed in a wedding dress is found hanging by a belt in her home.

 

Later the same day, another woman in a wedding dress is found dead from a fall off of a hospital building with a terrifying discovery: her little girl has gone missing.

 

Detective Lottie Parker is back on the scene in the little village of Ragmullin and is convinced the murderer is someone the victims knew.

 

But as days go by, she and her team are running into dead ends everywhere. With the detective no closer to solving these grisly crimes, tensions are riding high and the pressure from her superiors, is building.

Broken Souls is a fabulous mix of thrills, mystery, psychological mind twists with a dark but clever, crackerjack storyline. Add that to a central core on Lottie and her personal struggles, her complicated relationship with Boyd, and the angst in her family and you have a gripping page-turning, riveting book.

 

Highly recommend Broken Souls.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the read of Patricia Gibney’s, Broken Souls.

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

November 2019

House on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon

Yoel Blum travels to Amsterdam for his Dutch book translation.

 

By visiting Amsterdam, he breaks a promise to his mother who has passed away some time ago.

 

While visiting a local museum with his wife, Yoel views an old faded movie clip. He is stunned to recognize someone in the short, archival trailer and finds himself overwhelmed with a need to explore what he has seen.

 

Unable to accept it as coincidence, Yoel is convinced that he was meant to see the old film and sets out on an unexpected quest to unravel the mystery of his past.

 

An excellent narrative of Amsterdam’s Jewish history during WWII and Nazi occupied Netherlands, Elon’s writing is descriptive and detailed.

 

Through Yoel’s writing, Elon takes the reader into Yoel’s personal inner struggle, and on his journey of reflecting on his life, and self-discovery.

House on Endless Waters is not a fast read – it steadily and quietly engrosses the reader the further along in the book you go, and it is well worth the time.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the read of Emuna Elon’s, House on Endless Waters.

 

The opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins

Love. How far would you go? How hard would you fight? How much would you sacrifice?

 

Strangers to each other, Beth and Izzy couldn’t be more different people. Until the unthinkable of what happened eight years ago, fuse their lives together in a life-altering, world-colliding instant.

A Million Dreams touched me profoundly in varying degrees on many different levels: as a parent, as a woman, as a child-bearer, as a mother. I was emotionally invested in both these women and deeply moved by their fears, weaknesses, strengths, convictions, and the absolute power of their love.

 

Exquisitely and sensitively written, A Million Dreams is heartrending, authentic and intensely emotionally charged: a crescendo of crazy currents in deep, emotional rapids.

 

Dani Atkins is to be commended for creating this extraordinarily beautiful story.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for the read of Dani Atkins’, A Million Dreams.

 

Highly and most heartily recommend A Million Dreams.

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

January 2020

Mystery on Hidden Lane (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 1) by Clare Chase

Recently divorced, mother-of -two, fiftyish Eve Mallow, is about to go from obituary writing to amateur super-sleuthing…she just doesn’t know it yet!

 

Eve Mallow accepts an assignment to write an obituary/article on a recently deceased, world famous musician. Along with her dog Gus, Eve settles in for a short stay in a most charming cottage in the beautifully descripted, seaside village of Saxford St. Peter, and begins researching out details on the deceased.

 

What began as a memorial article, quickly turns into a mystery when the police declare the famous musician’s death a murder.

 

Wanting answers as much as information, Eve begins by questioning the tight community’s locals. Inquisitive by nature, Eve slowly gathers information and clues. Digging for facts comes with the job and Eve is quite good at sniffing out specifics.

 

So much so, that she crosses the line from being safe, to being in danger.

 

Clare Chase delivers a well-plotted story line, beautiful narrative of the setting, and a very promising lead in Eve.

 

A thoroughly enjoyable cozy-mystery.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the read of Clare Chase’s, Mystery on Hidden Lane (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 1).

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

February 2020

A Hope for Emily by Kate Hewitt

Married couple Rachel and James, joyously welcome becoming parents. Being a mother fills Rachel’s life. Baby Emily is Rachel’s entire world, and she could not be happier.

 

Until heartbreak hits when Emily is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease so rare, that even the most expert specialists cannot help her. Spending every moment by Emily’s side, Rachel helplessly watches as her baby, now in a coma, slips further in the grip of the merciless disease.

 

Desperate with fear of losing her precious daughter, Rachel searches for treatments that will help her daughter. When Rachel finds a way to possibly save her daughter, she does not let anything or anyone get in her way. Not even James. That is when Rachel turns to Eva, James’ new wife, for help.

 

An unlikely kinship develops between these two very different, but very strong women as they search for a way to seek treatment for Emily brings them together.

 

Kate Hewitt deftly captures a reader’s attention by engaging your heart’s core and ensnaring emotions there, until you are racing to the end of the book. Genuine characters, authentic storyline and excellent writing.

 

A Hope for Emily is a gut-wrenching, heart-hitting, emotionally consuming read. Highly recommended.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for Kate Hewitt’s read of, A Hope for Emily.

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

This is Not How it Ends by Rochelle B. Weinstein

Except for her beloved mother, there is nothing Charlotte loves more than teaching. Until Philip.

A chance meeting on a flight brings the impressive, charming businessman and the lovely, diffident teacher together, and is the beginning of a new life for Charlotte.

 

Convinced that she has finally found forever love, Charlotte agrees to move her life to the Keys in Islamorada, Florida to be with Philip. Charlotte meets a grand new friend and ends up working in her homeopathic practice. The ever-popular Philip introduces Charlotte to his best friend Ben – chef and single father, and congenially asks him to watch over Charlotte when he’s away on business. Life is idyllic…seemingly.

 

Charlotte is used to Philip’s travels for work but as time passes, his trips become more frequent and longer, and she begins to sense a shift in their relationship. Charlotte’s suspicions feed her uncertainties and she starts to doubt Philip’s commitment. As she begins to spend more time with Ben, Charlotte soon realizes the connective attraction between them. Is it fair to love more than one person at a time?

 

I felt where the story was going, fairly early on. However, Weinstein’s poignant and splendid writing has the reader savouring the slow getting there and reaching for a tissue by the end. There will be times when an outcome in life has reached an impasse...but you might just need to pause for a moment. Breathe deep and think...perhaps, TINHIE.

 

I highly recommend this remarkable, heartrending novel. Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for Rochelle B. Weinstein’s read of, This is Not How it Ends.

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

Mageborn: (The Hollow King Book 1 ) by Jessica Thorne

Grace lost her family when she was just a child. Abandoned, and from a past she can’t remember, Grace builds a family around her team at the Academy. Grace and her team track the uncollared Mageborn – those that do not serve the King and commit crimes with their magical powers. Unexpectedly named by the King himself to protect Bastien - his cousin and heir to the crown, Grace’s duty brings her face to face with the most dangerous and powerful magic in the kingdom. But as her mystifying desire for Bastien grows, so does the need of her buried past burn to expose itself.

Bastien, more brother than a cousin to the King, is known as the Lord of Thorns. Powerful, handsome, secretive - Bastien governs all Mageborn and is the King’s named heir. As the King’s imminent death draws ever nearer, Bastien’s life is in danger from enemies who want the throne for themselves and wish him dead. When Grace is put in charge of safeguarding his life, Bastien is far from pleased but finds himself slowly trusting her as their circumstances grow more threatening and treacherous.

 

Jessica Thorne is an adept artist in world-building. Exciting and imaginative, the reader is easily fascinated by her Mageborn realm of magic. I was vividly visualizing this uniquely inventive world.

 

The ending is open to going further on and breathlessly leaves you wanting more.

 

I can’t wait to see what awaits! Very highly recommended.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for Jessica Thorne’s read of, Mageborn: (The Hollow King Book 1 ).

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

March 2020

KA-E-RO-U Time to Go Home by B. Jeanne Shibahara

With great admiration and many thanks to the author, B. Jeanne Shibahara for a copy of her book, Kaerou – Time to Go Home, in exchange for an honest review.

 

Meryl is a widow who lost her husband to the Vietnam war. Meryl is in a form of self-imposed limbo – she does not know where she fits in, or where her life is going. Her father now has his own life. Her son, far off in Japan on his own adventure. When Meryl is given a Japanese WWII flag, it doesn’t take much convincing to set her off on a trip to Japan, in hopes of returning the flag to the family of the fallen soldier, and as well, to visit with her son.

 

Meryl arrives in Japan and learns that her son has gone away with his lady love. Disappointed and at odds with what to do next, Meryl finds herself quickly enveloped in the circle of diverse acquaintances who have grown quite close to her son and know much more about him than Meryl does. Accepting that she cannot sit idle, Meryl gets on with the business of trying to find the family of the flag. Realizing she can’t do this on her own, Meryl accepts the suggestions and help of the group and is introduced to the Japanese culture first-hand.

 

Moving further through the story, the reader gets to know these unique individuals - we find out how they ended up in Japan and about their struggles and challenges. Together, they form an unlikely camaraderie which they are more than willing to welcome Meryl into. Lovely Meryl, stuck in her loneliness and grief, allows herself to be drawn in by this quirky group. Lonely and lost at the outset of the story, we see growth in Meryl’s character as she comes to understand and embrace that it is time to let go, and live.

 

Shibahara’s writing is graceful, lyrical – all ease and light, like a paint stroke of words that vibrantly depicts the beauty of Japan, the authenticity of the people and a nation steeped in history.

 

Kaerou – Time to Go Home is an exceptionally beautiful read. I was easily, and utterly charmed.

 

I highly recommend reading this lovely novel. Opinions expressed are my own.

Murder at Enderley Hall (A Miss Underhay Mystery Book 2) by Helena Dixon

Kitty Underhay is invited to Enderley Hall to visit with her estranged father’s family. Discovering by chance that her mother had once called in at Enderley Hall, Kitty asks her new-found relatives about the visit, but no one wants to talk about it. She sets out to discover why, and if there is any connection to her mother’s disappearance so long ago.

 

What Kitty does not expect is to find herself embroiled in yet another murder-mystery. When top secret documents are stolen from the family safe, and people start showing up murdered, Kitty calls upon for help from her good friend and super-sleuth Matt. Together, Kitty and Matt embark on a whirlwind, dangerous quest to find the stolen documents and the killer.

 

Engaging cozy-mystery set in the 1930’s. Relevant historical details, societal class conventions and how they can actually come together in unique times, wonderfully suspenseful, and a clever storyline.

 

I look forward to more of Kitty and Matt’s adventures.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the read of Helena Dixon’s, Murder at Enderley Hall (A Miss Underhay Mystery Book 2).

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

Hurry Home by Roz Nay

A new mother cradles the newborn in her arms. Clutching an old, faded clothespin tightly in his tiny hand, the baby stares up at her as she lovingly whispers promises in the darkened room.

 

Alex seems to be living the life: sharing a modern home with her handsome boyfriend, she’s considered one of the best, most dedicated child protection caseworkers in her agency and is generally well-liked by all.

 

Ruth has not been as fortunate: in and out of abusive relationships, substance addiction, on the wrong side of the law and now, on the run from a sketchy drug dealer, fearing for her life and the life of her unborn baby.

 

These sisters share a tragic childhood event. One knows the truth, the other thinks she does. But both ran from their tragic past, buried it way down deep and estranged from each other, dealt with it in their separate ways.

 

Until Ruth shows up at Alex’s door, 10 years later, pregnant and needing help.

 

Alex is torn between sending Ruth away and being there for her and the baby.

 

Written from the narratives of both sisters, Nay does a compelling job of swaying the reader’s sympathies from Alex to Ruth, and back - until just when you think you’ve got it, do you?

 

Nay brings to the forefront the very difficult circumstances that plague our social work system today but delivers it with respectful skill and possibly sheds some light on them.

 

With a riveting storyline, believable characters, gripping twists, Nay engages the reader to hungrily rush-read to the end and then, it’s a fall-off-the-edge-of-your-seat finish.

 

You will read the first and last page, twice…

 

Hurry Home is one of 2020’s absolute must-reads.

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

April 2020

Hurry Home by Roz Nay

A new mother cradles the newborn in her arms. Clutching an old, faded clothespin tightly in his tiny hand, the baby stares up at her as she lovingly whispers promises in the darkened room.

 

Alex seems to be living the life: sharing a modern home with her handsome boyfriend, she’s considered one of the best, most dedicated child protection caseworkers in her agency and is generally well-liked by all.

 

Ruth has not been as fortunate: in and out of abusive relationships, substance addiction, on the wrong side of the law and now, on the run from a sketchy drug dealer, fearing for her life and the life of her unborn baby.

 

These sisters share a tragic childhood event. One knows the truth, the other thinks she does. But both ran from their tragic past, buried it way down deep and estranged from each other, dealt with it in their separate ways.

 

Until Ruth shows up at Alex’s door, 10 years later, pregnant and needing help.

 

Alex is torn between sending Ruth away and being there for her and the baby.

 

Written from the narratives of both sisters, Nay does a compelling job of swaying the reader’s sympathies from Alex to Ruth, and back - until just when you think you’ve got it, do you?

 

Nay brings to the forefront the very difficult circumstances that plague our social work system today but delivers it with respectful skill and possibly sheds some light on them.

 

With a riveting storyline, believable characters, gripping twists, Nay engages the reader to hungrily rush-read to the end and then, it’s a fall-off-the-edge-of-your-seat finish.

 

You will read the first and last page, twice…

 

Hurry Home is one of 2020’s absolute must-reads.

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

His Secret Family by Ali Mercer

Past secrets seem to always have a way of surfacing and colliding with the present when the truth must be discovered.

His Secret Family is brimming with secrets.

The hopes, dreams, heartbreaks, trials, healing, and elusive joys in the lives of Ava, Ellie, Jenny and Paula - seen through their eyes, immediately engage you. Their stories are threaded together by the actions and decisions of one man. A man who has intentions of his own, regardless of the fall-out and has deviously played them all.

A number of societal issues; divorce, alcoholism, infidelity, autism, even a touch of the mystic, are dealt with and delivered with grace and sensitivity in this well-paced and emotion driven book.

Ali Mercer has that on on-target ability to lock in your emotions from her first sentence and her stories stay with you long after the book is finished.

I highly recommend His Secret Family and reading everything Ali writes.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the read of Ali Mercer’s, His Secret Family.

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

Breaking Faith by Edy Graziani

With thanks to Second Story Press and with much gratitude to author Edy Graziani, for the read of Breaking Faith.

 

Teenaged Faith didn’t have it safe or secure from early on.

Faith’s mother is a young widow to three young girls. Unable to recover from the depression over her husband’s death, Faith’s mother turns down a self-destructive path to substance abuse. As much as she loves her daughters, she is unable to resist the need. With a promise to return when the first front yard crocus blooms, she leaves Faith and her two sisters in their reluctant grandmother’s care.

Dejected and disheartened, the three sisters cling to each other for love and support. When Faith’s older sister is taken in by her paternal grandmother, Faith’s fragmented world breaks some more. After the bloom of the front yard crocus blossoms, the promise her mother made to return for them turns out to be a

disheartening falsehood, and Faith’s world truly crumbles. Not caring much for life anymore, she spirals downward fairly quickly from that point on.

 

Finding no soft, secure place for herself, at home or at school, Faith begins to experiment with drugs and eventually ends up an addict, shattered, homeless and living on the streets. ‘Chasing the dragon’ is all that matters. It will not let her down. It is all that is real for her.

Faith knows its' destructive force. Will she have the strength her mother didn’t, to beat the need?

 

Graziani delivers Faith’s character arc from a forgiving, caring, trusting with child-like expectation youth, to an angry, hard, acting out destructive-behaviour teenager, with powerful perception.

Clearly well-researched and astutely written, Breaking Faith is a candidly bleak look into the perilous underside, and often tragic life of addiction.

 

It is dark, sad, disheartening, yet the whole time, the reader is engaged, hoping that Faith will live up to her inspirational name, come up from the deep, and swim for shore.

As a long-time fan of Edy Graziani’s work, Breaking Faith is a departure from her other books, but it is a true testimony to her immense breadth of talent and to her passion for writing.

Highly recommend Breaking Faith.

 

Opinions expressed are my own.

Hurry Home by Roz Nay

As a young teenager, Erin felt stifled by her strict parents. Looking for adventure, the inexperienced Erin rebelled hard and fast. Falling into a bad crowd and making some terrible decisions, Erin is desolate when she finds out she is pregnant. Her bad-news boyfriend disappears, and she is alone. Regarded by her prim and proper parents with contempt, Erin is forced to give the baby up for adoption.

Erin eventually turns her life around and…flash forward to her 40th birthday party, she feels sublimely at peace with her life. Everything is rosy. Until it turns Jade.

Her past comes back around like a fast-flying boomerang. Jade, the baby girl Erin gave away, suddenly wants to have a relationship with her birth mother.

Erin has never told her husband about the baby she gave up and she knows his reaction will be far from accepting. And how will her children accept the shocking revelation? Erin gets caught up in lie after lie, until circumstances turn ugly.

The Girl You Gave Away is an exciting read. The storyline is full of plot twists and turns, to the thrilling end. I read both endings and admit to preferring the one without the epilogue. The original ending left the reader suspended mid-thought, imagining the many different ways it could have gone.

I highly recommend The Girl You Gave Away.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for Jess Ryder’s read of, The Girl You Gave Away.

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

May 2020

June 2020

Daughters of Wild Rose Bay (Sandy Cove Book 4) by Susanne O'Leary.

Jasmine leaves her home in Paris to revisit her roots in Sandy Cove hoping to find peace and healing after a heart-hurting breakup. Not having stayed very close to her mother, Jasmine wonders how she’ll be received showing up unannounced. Sally, however, embraces her daughter’s return and astonishes Jasmine with her new attitude, raw-food-diet and yoga lifestyle…and a mystery man who is putting a spark back in Sally’s eyes.

As Jasmine and her loyal terrier Milou, settle into life in the quaint cove, she makes friends that quickly welcome her and include her in their social activities, and she is soon intrigued by her own family’s history to Sandy Cove. It’s wonderful to be reunited with familiar friends Maeve, Cordelia, Roisin, and getting an epilogue-ish look into their lives is lovely.

Jasmine is reconnected with her old Paris school mate Aiden, who returned to Sandy Cove and opened a restaurant. When Aiden introduces her to his charming friend Connor, Jasmine surprises herself by accepting his offer to show her around the area.

As Jasmine spends more time exploring the beautiful Irish Coast and trails around Wild Rose Bay, she develops a connection to Sandy Cove…and feelings for Connor. But when Connor’s life has a sudden turn of events, Jasmine is left thinking that she should have known better.

As always, Aiden’s shoulder is there for Jasmine but when he breaks the news that he’s going to be leaving Sandy Cove, will Jasmine finally face up to her true feelings?

A genuinely charming, romantic read. Flowing storyline, splendidly depicted scenery, and heart-warming friendships.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture, for the read of Susanne O’Leary’s, Daughters of Wild Rose Bay (Sandy Cove Book 4).

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

The Invitation by Rachel Abbott

The wedding and the unimaginable – both on the same day.

The year after, a group of friends is invited back to where the wedding took place – a picturesque Cornwall mansion, expecting to celebrate the one-year wedding anniversary with a party.

Little do the guests know that their host Lucas did not invite them for a jovial fete. Quite the opposite. Planning to discover who was responsible for the sinister event of his wedding day, Lucas has more of a chilling get-together in mind.

What happens when the mansion doors close to the picturesque scenery outside and the supposed good friends find themselves in a warped game?

The story concept is brilliant, and Abbot’s writing is absolutely clever. The suspense keeps you feverishly turning pages and the surprises keep coming right down to the bombshell end!

The Invitation is a high-speed, whodunit, must-read, thrill!

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture, for the read of Rachel Abbott’s, The Invitation.

 

Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.