Icon Tag: Smalltown

Review: Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Posted November 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  Night Road by Kristin HannahNight Road by Kristin Hannah
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 22nd 2011
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 385
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices. To hold on…To let go..To forget…To forgive…Which road will you take?
For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows--her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.
Jude does everything to keep her kids safe and on track for college. It has always been easy--until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.
On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.
NIGHT ROAD is vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, identity, love, and forgiveness. It is a luminous, heartbreaking novel that captures both the exquisite pain of loss and the stunning power of hope. This is Kristin Hannah at her very best, telling an unforgettable story about the longing for family, the resilience of the human heart, and the courage it takes to forgive the people we love.

Night Road follows a woman named Jude, who is a mother to two twins Zach and Mia and Lexi a former foster child with a dark past. Lexi quickly befriends Mia and the two become inseparable even when later, Zach and Lexi fall in love.

Jude is helicopter mother. She does everything she can to keep her twins safe and she makes sure that they are both on track for college.

One night when the twins attend a high school party right before their graduation, Zach – who is suppose to be the DD ends up being mad at his mother and drinking, the other two don’t fare much better. When it came down to going home, they had to make a decision between calling their mother, or driving the one mile towards home. Last time the twins got drunk and called for their mother to pick them up, Jude reacted poorly and punished them, despite the fact that they did the right thing.

Well the kids choose to drive and a terrible accident happens, and leaves one of them dead and the events that follow changes everyone’s lives.

This was my first Kristin Hannah book and I honestly have no idea how to feel.

I had a hard time putting it down, it was engrossing, the plot was super interesting, it was emotional. This is one of those books that really takes you for a ride. We get to know Mia, Zach and Lexi as they grow up for the first half of the book and then this terrible tragedy happens and it’s hard to bear, because we actually got to know the kids before this life changing moment. I got to see them as young kids heading towards a future and for some reason books like these can be way harder to read over books that start with the tragedy because of that attachment.

But the problem for me ended up being that after the tragedy that occurs, I found that the emotion that was most prominent was anger. I found myself angry for the rest of the book. Angry about how the scene at the hospital went, angry at Jude, because if she handled the night that the twins actually called her to get picked up better – than maybe the twins wouldn’t have gotten into the car drunk and instead had called their mother. Angry at the way Jude reacted towards Lexi when there was so many factors and people at fault for the accident. I felt like both Jude, Lexi, Zach and Mia were all at fault one way or another here, but the poor girl with the dark background is the one that gets the short end of the stick.

Lexi is unable to take what she had done and ends up pleading guilty and going to prison as MADD was already trying to make an example out of her and Jude had decided to press charges for Vehicular homicide.

But the problem for me ended up being that after the tragedy that occurs, I found that the emotion that was most prominent was anger. I found myself angry for the rest of the book. Angry about how the scene at the hospital went, angry at Jude, because if she handled the night that the twins actually called her to get picked up better – than maybe the twins wouldn’t have gotten into the car drunk and instead had called their mother. Angry at the way Jude reacted towards Lexi when there was so many factors and people at fault for the accident. I felt like both Jude, Lexi, Zach and Mia were all at fault one way or another here, but the poor girl with the dark background is the one that gets the short end of the stick.

Lexi is unable to take what she had done and ends up pleading guilty and going to prison as MADD was already trying to make an example out of her and Jude had decided to press charges for Vehicular homicide.

I was discussing it with my husband and he asked me, so what is it you don’t like about this book, the fact that it’s realistic? No that is not it, I do believe it is realistic. I think Jude’s reaction is realistic for a mother that lost her child, but at the same time, it felt overwhelming for me. I spend a lot of the book being angry, and the book was a bit on the long side, so I spent a lot of time just trying to get through it. It just felt so emotionally draining that at times I just had a hard time with the book.

It feels like one of those books where the author chooses one character who already has a short end of the stick and keeps throwing punches at that character through the book, to me that is just seriously exhausting. Thought the book was well written and the story was interesting and compelling, I felt like it was also a little too long and it just felt like a little too much? Maybe I would have felt differently if Lexi wasn’t the one who kept taking those punches?

I just had a hard time with Jude at the end, her anger blended with my anger, but I felt like it was all just so unfair. Plus, I did find that Zach’s lack of involvement not very realistic. That night was honestly in part his fault, now Lexi was taking responsibility and he couldn’t even stand up for the girl he loved? He was 18 years old, he should have had a voice.

Overall, I still don’t know how to feel. It’s well done, it really draws some sort of emotion out of you. It’s suppose to be a tearjerker, but at no point in the book did I found myself able to feel that way when it was overtaken by strong anger. I was sad for what happened, it was absolutely heartbreaking and I don’t even want to imagine how that sort of thing feels, I don’t even want to know. I do believe that Jude’s emotion and the lashing out is probably true to form, but she let her grief rule her for so long, that I was honestly surprised her husband continued to stay in that relationship. She also seemed to have forgotten that she still had Zach and he needed a mother, but for years, she couldn’t even do that despite that her whole life was centered on being a mother.

But, the book did its job. It caused a real and a raw emotion and I think it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t tears, the author was able to write a novel that I felt strongly about and I applaud her for it. The writing is emotionally driven, the storytelling was well done and I really enjoyed it. As a mother this kind of a thing is terrifying and it wasn’t an easy read, but it was well worth it.

Rating Report
Plot
4.5 Stars
Characters
3.5 Stars
Writing
4.5 Stars
Pacing
3.5 Stars
Cover
4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars

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Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #1) by Paige McKenzie, Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Posted October 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 5 Comments

Review:  The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #1) by Paige McKenzie, Alyssa B. SheinmelThe Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie, Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Series: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #1
Published by Hachette Books on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts
Pages: 298
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother, Kat, move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. From the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. Something about their new house is just…creepy.
In the days that follow, Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. As the spirits haunting her house become more frightening—and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger—Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

We follow a sixteenth year old girl named Sunshine Griffith as she and her mom make a move from Austin, Texas to Ridgemont Washington. From the moment the two arrive in their new home, Sunshine cannot shake off the creepy feeling that seems to follow her through the house.

It doesn’t take long for Sunshine to realize what is happening. The house feels cold, there are footsteps of a little girl in the middle of the night, sobbing, bedroom door slamming shut, and her stuff gets thrown all over the floor.

It’s not until one night where the experience what happened to the little girl that turns Sunshine’s whole world upside down. Both her and her mother Kat witness something evil that has happened in the house, but her mother does not remember what happened the next day. Now her mother is acting strange and not at all like the loving woman that Sunshine is familiar with.

This book was interesting. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I started reading it, but I found myself enjoying it.

Sunshine starts a new school and is drawn to a boy named Nolan, who becomes her really good friend. Nolan is incredibly smart and really adored his grandfather who had recently passed away. The loss had hit him hard, but Nolan holds on and believes in his grandfather’s ghost stories so he and Sunshine become really close when Nolan ends up the only person who does not look at her as if she had gone insane.

There is also a strange art teacher that is really into weird and creepy.

Together Nolan and Sunshine must find out what Sunshine really is and save her mother before time runs out.

Outside of the special snowflake alert, I found myself kind of liking Sunshine. She loves film photography – a girl after my own heart. She is very loyal to the people she really cares about and very modest. She just wants to feel like a sixteen year old girl, but she experiences things that no one else can.

The book was pretty character driven and some parts were really spooky. I was kind of hoping the rainy eeriness setting of Ridgemont, Washington would add to the atmosphere, but that part I found a bit lacking.

Overall, I enjoyed it and cannot wait to see what happens next.

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2 Quick Book Reviews

Posted October 6, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

2 Quick Book ReviewsDeath by Eggnog by Alex Erickson
Series: Bookstore Cafe Mystery #5
Published by Kensington Publishing on September 26th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Krissy Hancock is staying in her adopted hometown of Pine Hills, Ohio, for Christmas this year--and she even has a whole week off from her combination bookstore-cafe. But a killer is about to dampen her spirits . . . Unfortunately, Krissy's been roped into filling in for a sick elf in the local holiday musical extravaganza. With a demanding director, backstage gossip, and two men in fierce competition for the starring role, it isn't all sweetness and Christmas lights. Then a murder puts a stop to the production, and Krissy is faced with a pageant of suspects. Could her ex-boyfriend, a fellow elf, really be the culprit as the police are claiming? Or will the actor playing Santa be trading his red suit for an orange jumpsuit? When her behind-the-scenes investigation starts getting dangerous, the only thing Krissy really wants is to make it to Christmas dinner alive. But first she'll have to finish wrapping up this case . . .

After her father cancels their Christmas plans, Krissy Hancocks finds herself staying home for the holidays. Already taken time off from work, one of the towns people ropes her into helping with a Christmas play. Everything seems to be going fine until the very crude Santa is found dead in his dressing room and the person suspected of murder is no other than Krissy’s ex-boyfriend who now wants Krissy to clear his name.

I enjoyed this for the most part, I thought it was interesting and it seems like a great read for Christmas with a small town setting and a group of people who really love the holidays.

This would have been a 4 star read, but I took half a star off because of who done it in the end. I thought it came out of no where and the reason was just like, blah, really? It felt a bit disappointing.

2 Quick Book ReviewsSugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #7
Published by Harlequin Books on September 26th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

An unlikely attraction brings comfort, joy and unforgettable romance this holiday season!
Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's.
Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…

If you are looking for some holiday reading this Christmas season, look no further. RaeAnne Thayne is an amazing author to pick up when you are looking for a cozy, heartwarming romances. Yes, they are predictable as far as romance goes, but her books are very character driven.

Julia Winston was a lovely librarian character with a big heart that took in two boys in need and gave them a temporary home, even if she knew it would eventually break her heart.

Jamie had quite a lot of heartbreak in his life when it came to women and family, but watching his affection grow for Julia was so heartwarming.

Wonderful characters, sweet romance, and heartwarming writing that just keeps me coming back for more.

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Review: Southern Fried by Tonya Kappes

Posted September 22, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review:  Southern Fried by Tonya KappesSouthern Fried by Tonya Kappes
Series: Kenni Lowry Mystery #2
Published by Henery Press on April 4th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 300
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In the South, it’s better when the food is fried and the secrets kept buried…
After the dead body of a beloved Cottonwood resident is found tangled up in an electric fence, Sheriff Kenni Lowry has a hunch that somethin’ ain’t right. Her investigation heats up with a fierce cook-off competition, a euchre game where the intel is sweeter than the brownies, and a decades old family recipe that may just be the proof in the pudding.
The icing on the cake: Kenni is fighting an attraction to her recently sworn-in deputy sheriff, and election season is hot on her tail. When the killer comes after who she holds most dear, even her poppa’s ghostly guidance might not be enough to keep her and her own out of the frying pan.

Owen Godfrey is dead and his murder might revolve around a certain family cookbook that everyone is just dying to get their hands on because of a secret okra recipe. When Sheriff Kenni is forced to investigate another murder of a local Cottonwood resident, she and her new deputy Finn, her Poppa and trusted pooch Duke must uncover the secrets behind the cookbook that were worth killing over.

This was such a great read. I never read a Kappes book, but it definitely won’t be my last. Kenni has a lot on her plate, she is still trying to prove that she is fit to be the town sheriff, meanwhile with the re-election coming up the retired sheriff decides to throw his name in the hat, so Kenni must solve this new murder as quickly as possible.

I loved Kenni and I loved Duke and Finn. This book has a lot of Southern charm, wit and humor along with meddling mothers and busy body neighbors, if you like books set in the south you will enjoy this gem.

I found the writing to be fun and fast paced, I found myself just flying and enjoying this book. There is a bit of romance and a ghost of Kenni’s grandfather who was an ex-sherrif who still lingers in order to help Kenni protect the town. There is a lovable pooch named Duke that just melts your heart and a wonderful cast of characters.

If you like cozy mysteries but have not read this one I recommend it. It’s engaging, has a lot going on, and never a dull moment. I just kept flipping through the pages. It was nice to get lost in the town of Cottonwood and I cannot wait to go back.

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2 Mini Book Reviews

Posted September 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

2 Mini Book ReviewsSerenity Harbor by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #6
Published by HQN Books on June 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 377
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In the town of Haven Point, love can be just a wish — and one magical kiss — away…
Computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan is about the last person that schoolteacher Katrina Bailey wants to work for. As far as she can see, he’s arrogant, entitled and not up to the task of caring for his young half brother, Milo. But Kat is, especially if it brings her closer to her goal of adopting an orphaned little girl. And as her kindness and patience work wonders with Milo, she realises there’s more to sexy, wary Bo.
Bo never imagined he’d be tasked with caring for a sibling he didn’t know existed. Then again, he never pictured himself impulsively kissing vibrant, compassionate Katrina in the moonlight. Now he’s ready to make her dream of family come true…and hoping there’s room in it for him, too…

A story about a young teacher who is in the process of re-evaluating her life and in the middle of adopting a special needs girl from Columbia when she meets Bowie Callahan – a computer-tech millionaire and his special needs brother.

Reading a Thayne book is like coming home to a sweet cup of warm chocolate. The story is lovely, warm and sweet. I found myself drawn to the two people who were trying hard to find a way to deal with the new developments in their lives.

Katrina had sworn off men due to her boyfriend dumping her on their trip to Columbia and all she wants to do is adopt a little girl she met on her trip and become her mother. Bowie just found out about Milo his young brother who has a possible case of Autism and hopes that Katrina could help him while he awaited the Autism specialist. The attraction between the two had a rocky start, but I loved watching it grow between them through the story and enjoyed seeing these two develop as characters.

The ending was super sweet and heart touching.

2 Mini Book ReviewsThe Decorator Who Knew Too Much by Diane Vallere
Series: Mad for Mod Mystery #4
Published by Henery Press on April 18th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 264
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When Interior Decorator Madison Night accepts an assignment in Palm Springs with handyman Hudson James, she expects designing days and romantic nights. But after spotting a body in the river by the job site, she causes a rift in the team. Add in the strain of recurring nightmares and a growing dependency on sleeping pills, and Madison seeks professional help to deal with her demons.

She learns more about the crime than she’d like thanks to girl talk with friends, pillow talk with Hudson, and smack talk with the local bad boys. And after the victim is identified as the very doctor she’s been advised to see, she wonders if what she knows can help catch a killer. An unlikely ally helps navigate the murky waters before her knowledge destroys her, and this time, what she doesn’t know might be the one thing that saves her life.

“If you love Doris Day, you’ll love Madison Night, decorator extraordinaire. She specializes in restoring mid-century homes and designs, and her latest project involves abductions, murder and vengeance.” – Books for Avid Readers

“Diane Vallere…has a wonderful touch, bringing in the design elements and influences of the ’50s and ’60s era many of us hold dear while keeping a strong focus on what it means in modern times to be a woman in business for herself, starting over.” – Fresh Fiction

Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), humorous murder mysteries, book club recommendations, amateur sleuth books, southern humor, Doris Day, chick lit.

Madison Night accepts an assignment in Palm Springs with her beau and handyman Hudson James. The two travel to Hudson’s sister and brother-in-law to help with the new development that his brother-in-law is in
Charge of.

Things were suppose to be easy with designing by day and romantic get away at night, but when Madison spots a body in the water – things prove a little more difficult. Now Madison finds herself tangled in deeper secrets, and a few of them are pointing back towards the new development.

Cute, cozy mystery, really awesome easy to love main-character and this entire book was just an easy read. The story was interesting, it kept me hooked. The writing was entertaining and has made the series sound extremely promising.

I have not read the other books in the series but I loved this enough to make sure I pick up any other follow-up because Madison Night and her Doris Day wardrobe obsession is my kind of girl. Her personality alone was charming and addictive.

If you are looking for a good cozy mystery, I recommend this one for you to try.

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ARC Review: When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Posted September 11, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

ARC Review:  When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew WhalenWhen We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Series: standalone
Published by Lake Union Publishing on September 12th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 276
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?

I did not really know what I was getting myself in it. I picked this book up on a whim after a Youtuber I have been watching mentioned it, then I sat down to read it and I could not put this book down.

If you are looking for a contemporary book with raw, vivid characters, a heartbreaking chain of events set in small-town that triggers self perseverance in a midst of a tragedy look no further.

Worthy is a town of about 5,000 people in Georgia who basically see all and known all. It’s a small town so someone will always know someone. Worthy has one thing that they are really proud of and that is their football team who seem to be one of the best. It’s a huge thing anytime the high school football happens and the town to be involved in. Well, one night, after a big win, three teenage cheerleaders end up in a big car accident with one of the teenage boys from their school. The three girls die, the boy survives, and the event shakes the whole town.

This story was heartbreaking and it felt so real. Like the reactions, the actions, the emotions. You as a reader can just picture this happening and it doesn’t feel far from the truth in a likely event. As someone who now lives in a small town for a couple of years, I can definitely see how something like this can shake the community.

The book falls Ava, a high school teacher who is struggling in her marriage and ends up being reckless with another person that leads to some legal troubles. Leah, another cheerleader that was part of the group of girls who died, who somehow avoided the accident by not being in the car with them at the time. Darcy, the mother of the son who the town is holding responsible for the accident that took the lives of the three girls. And Marglyn , mother of one of the cheerleaders that died.

The story was well done. I did take one star off because I felt like the end did wrap up kind of quickly, but I can see in retrospect how it works anyway. The characters felt real and as a mother, I couldn’t help but feel for Marglyn and her pain. I cannot imagine losing a son or a daughter on such a note. Her story was even more heart breaking because the last time she saw her daughter, they fought and it feels like one of the worse things that can occur to anyone if that is the last time they see this person.

The writing was great. The storytelling was wonderful and emotional. The characters just stick with you. It was a really quick read for me and I found that I did not want to put the book down until I knew how it was all going to come together.

I do have to say. The mystery male in the book that Ava had a flirtation with through me off, I was not really expecting that and it only kind of makes me wonder even more about the real innocence of her character.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone that loves to sit down and enjoy a contemporary fiction set in a small town. It was well done.

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