Icon Tag: Family

Blog Tour: All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker

Posted May 30, 2019 by Lily B in Blog Tour, Reviews / 13 Comments

Blog Tour: All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura TuckerAll the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker
Illustrator: Kelly Murphy
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on June 4, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
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.

SoHo, 1981. Twelve-year-old Olympia is an artist—and in her neighborhood, that's normal. Her dad and his business partner Apollo bring antique paintings back to life, while her mother makes intricate sculptures in a corner of their loft, leaving Ollie to roam the streets of New York with her best friends Richard and Alex, drawing everything that catches her eye.
Then everything falls apart. Ollie's dad disappears in the middle of the night, leaving her only a cryptic note and instructions to destroy it. Her mom has gone to bed, and she's not getting up. Apollo is hiding something, Alex is acting strange, and Richard has questions about the mysterious stranger he saw outside. And someone keeps calling, looking for a missing piece of art. . . .
Olympia knows her dad is the key--but first, she has to find him, and time is running out.

12-year-old Olympia is an artist living in SoHo in 1981, which isn’t all that uncommon in her neighborhood. Her father and his friend Apollo bring antique paintings back to life, while her mother sees the beauty in everything and makes intricate sculptures out of everyday ordinary items. But one morning she wakes up and her father has left the country, leaving her and her mom alone and now her mom won’t get out of bed. The only thing he left behind was a cryptic note that he asked for it to be destroyed. Apollo is acting strange and someone keeps calling for missing artwork.

This was a quiet, well-written book that circles around family, friendship, art, and mystery. It touches on the subject of depression and what it means living with a parent who suffers from depression. It was easy to forget at times that Olympia was only 12-year-old girl that did not know how to deal with her mother unable to get out of bed and some of the scenes tugged on my heartstrings for the little girl that held out hope. But it was nice to see that when she finally let them, Olympia did have a great support network behind her back that ended up being there for when she needed them most. I liked that it revolved around art and there was even a bit of a mystery thrown into the mix.

Laura Tucker’s writing overall is quiet and beautiful. Tucker really knows how to flesh out her characters and make them appear human. I found myself sympathizing with her.

That being said, however, I struggled with the pacing of the book. I felt like the story started out and ended strong, but it meandered a bit in the middle. It could have been a bit shorter. The subject matter for middle grade was a little hard, but depression can hit an adult any point in child life, even if it is something hard to read. I also do wish the time period was used a bit more in the writing. The story is definitely very character and art driven, but it was set in 1981 in SoHo and I found the time and setting interesting choice.

Overall. I thought this was a lovely written debut that makes me extremely excited for future works from this author. It touched on tough subjects, but very important ones. I thought in general, the author handled it really well and I cannot wait to see what she does next.

AUTHOR BIO

Laura Tucker has coauthored more than twenty books, including two New York Times bestselling memoirs. She grew up in New York City around the same time as Olympia, and now lives in Brooklyn with her daughter and husband; on Sunday mornings, you can find her at the door of Buttermilk Channel, one of their two restaurants. She is a cat person who cheats with dogs. All the Greys on Greene Street is her first novel.

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Review Round Up #6

Posted May 12, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review Round Up #6Deadly Obsession by April Hunt
Series: Steele Ops, #1
Published by Forever on April 30, 2019
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

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.

“April Hunt’s romantic suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat.”—New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster
Someone is watching their every move.
After a lifetime spent in and out of hospitals, Zoey Wright is tired of playing it safe. She’s ready to take charge of her own life and get out of her comfort zone, starting with a new job as a CSI agent. But when her childhood crush Knox Steele gets pulled onto her case, Zoey needs to put her feelings for him aside or more women will die at the hands of the serial killer preying on her hometown.
Former Army Ranger Knox Steele is back in Washington to help his brothers open an elite private security firm. He never expected to stumble onto a crime scene, or see his best friend’s little sister working it. Zoey is all grown up now, and the attraction between them is electric, despite his best efforts to resist it. But all that changes for Knox when he realizes the victims have one thing in common . . . and Zoey might be next.

After spending most of her life in and out of the hospital Zoey Wright is done playing it safe. She is ready to get out of her comfort zone and take charge of her own life, starting with her new job as a CSI agent. All of that is easier said than done when you have an overprotective, overbearing brother Cade and his friends the Steele brothers. All to whom Zoey has been nothing but a little sister, including Cade’s best friend Knox. But Zoey does not want Knox to see her as a little sister. Knox is just “passing” through and the last thing he wants is to get attached, too bad that Zoey is ready to meet that challenge. Meanwhile, there is a serial killer on the loose called the Cupid Killer who has the tendency to murder his victims and leaving them with a cut the shape of a heart on their chest, and Zoey fits the profile.

I really enjoyed this one more than I expected. I loved all the Steele brothers, especially Roman and Knox and this book was a great start to what is promising to be an enjoyable series.

I thoroughly loved Knox and Zoey. Zoey with her spunky go get them personality, that has undergone so much in her life and Knox with his protectiveness over Zoey as well as his search to find where he belongs. These two made such a cute couple with their touch and go relationship, I found myself really rooting for them.

I did find that the book meandered a bit at times. The action with the serial killer mostly happens in the end, this is mostly a romance novel first and suspense second. Which is fine and works, and it works for what the Steele brothers are trying to do. It wasn’t hard to figure out who the Cupid Killer was, but I still found myself racing through the pages at the end.

I am really looking forward to more books in the series. I am especially looking forward to Cade and Grace’s story that left me wanting more and Roman, who I think at this moment is becoming my favorite.

Review Round Up #6Fire Season by Stephen Blackmoore
Published by Daw Books on April 16th 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 294
Format: Paperback
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.

The fourth book of this dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.
Los Angeles is burning.
During one of the hottest summers the city has ever seen, someone is murdering mages with fires that burn when they shouldn't, that don't stop when they should. Necromancer Eric Carter is being framed for the killings and hunted by his own people.
To Carter, everything points to the god Quetzalcoatl coming after him, after he defied the mad wind god in the Aztec land of the dead. But too many things aren't adding up, and Carter knows there's more going on.
If he doesn't figure out what it is and put a stop to it fast, Quetzalcoatl won't just kill him, he'll burn the whole damn city down with him.

Los Angeles is burning and someone is out there blaming Eric Carter for all the mages that are dropping dead. Now he is being hunted by his own people. With a help of a few friends, he might just have enough to find who is responsible for the death of the mages and how it’s linked to the fires that are breaking out throughout the city.

Everything points to the god Quetzalcoatl a mad Aztec wind god, who Carter defied in the Land of the Dead. But things aren’t adding up and it’s up to Eric to put a stop to it, even if it means making a bargain he managed to avoid so far.

I really, really enjoyed this. I forgot how much I love Urban fantasy and this one was great. I liked the use of the Aztec gods, to me personally, that’s a new encounter in Urban fantasy and I found it different and refreshing. I liked Eric, I loved his personality, it was witty and a bit out there, and I found myself giggling more than once.

The world was also great. I thought following a necromancer was different and just a great spin in general.

There is a warning for drug use if it might be triggering.

Overall, I thought the world that Stephen Blackmoore created here is fantastic. This was my first book from this author, so yes, I was starting kind of four books into the series, but I found that I was able to follow everything regardless. Eric has a lot going on. Being married to the Death Goddess is just one of those things. This book has a great cast of side characters as well as some really brave female characters that made my day.  The story was fast paced, it was fun and I enjoyed the writing. I will be looking for more.

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Review: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Posted May 3, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review: Lost Roses by Martha Hall KellyLost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
Series: Lilac Girls
Published by Ballantine Books on April 9, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 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.

The runaway bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. This sweeping new novel, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline's mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.
It is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so many times, many New Yorker's treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanov's. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia. But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia's Imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortuneteller's daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household. On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya's letters suddenly stop coming she fears the worst for her best friend.
From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg to the avenues of Paris and the society of fallen Russian emigre's who live there, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways, taking readers on a breathtaking ride through a momentous time in history.

The year is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so often, that most people have started to disregard it. Eliza Ferriday is happy to be traveling to St. Petersburg with her friend Sofya Streshnayva, who is the cousin of the Romanovs. As the Russian Whites and the Monarchy continue to enjoy their wealth and privilege with fancy balls, the turmoil on the streets continues to spin out of control as the red coats continue to gain power. Until the day that the Russian monarchy is overthrown finally comes, and Russia is left in peril.

The story follows three women. Eliza Ferriday, a socialite that lives in Manhattan, married to Henry Ferriday, mother of Caroline Ferriday. Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin to the Romanovs, the current reigning family of Russia and Varinka Kozlov a poor village girl that gets hired as a nanny to Max by Sofya. A decision that comes back to haunt Sofya when Varinka brings something dangerous back into her home that causes Sofya to part with Max and finds herself on the run for her life in hopes of getting her son back.

This story was, wow. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I adored Martha Hall Kelly’s writing. I have not read the Lilac Girls and I found that it was okay. This book actually happens before Lilac Girls and to me seemed like a good place to start not only with the story but also with Martha Hall Kelly’s writing. I wasn’t disappointed. The writing and the storytelling were woven so beautifully that I found myself savoring as much of the book as I could. I didn’t want to part with it, I didn’t want to say goodbye to these characters that Martha Hall Kelly has managed to capture. Both compelling, strong and realistic, the three women really drove the book and I was happy for the slow pace.

The ending had me on the edge of my seat biting my nails, waiting for resolution, wanting to see how the story wraps up for these women. The author left some threads loose, making it a possible consideration for future books. The writing was really lovely, I really enjoyed the authors writing style, I thought it was just so beautiful.

The story itself seems well researched and I have to admit I don’t recall reading many historical books set during WWI in Russia. I found the story itself, the fall of the Russian monarchy fascinating and heartbreaking. It was just such a dark time during the Russian revolution and I was glad to learn a bit more about it through the eyes of these characters.

There wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy. The ending felt super fast-paced as far as how it wrapped up and despite being slow-paced, to begin with, I found I wouldn’t have minded a bit of a slower ending, yet it worked. My general nit-pickiness comes to the Russian terminology in the book, but as someone who has a general understanding of the language, some sentences with Russian words thrown into them had me pack paddling a little bit. The Russian language uses congregations and every time they appeared wrong in the book my brain automatically found it a bit awkward to read. Like for instance, the word Zala appears throughout the book, which I assume refers to like the grand ballroom type room for gatherings and I’m pretty sure it should have been Zalo. But those are just minor details and don’t affect people that wouldn’t know otherwise.

I do love that the author has made a distinction between Ukrainian people and Russian when at one point the White Russian women were told they are going to be sent back to Ukraine and Eliza acknowledged that they are Russian.

Overall. I loved this book like I knew I would the moment I saw it. With that, I am really looking forward to getting my hands on the Lilac Girls because I absolutely am in love with this authors beautiful writing style, there is just something about the way she weaves her words that completely draw me in. I really enjoyed the characters and their flaws, I also enjoyed that time and place this book took place because to me it was a whole new experience that I would love to farther explore.

I will be looking forward to more works from this author in the future.

 

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Review: The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

Posted April 25, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: The Summer Retreat by Sheila RobertsThe Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts
Series: Moonlight Harbor #3
Published by Mira on April 23, 2019
Genres: Womens Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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.

Join USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts for a seaside escape to the beaches of Moonlight Harbor
Celeste Jones has plans for a perfect summer with her boyfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé)—until he dumps her to be with the woman he’s had on the side for months. Heartbroken and furious, Celeste resolves to move on. When the going gets tough, the tough…okay, the not-so-tough go to the beach.
As soon as school lets out for the summer, she waves goodbye to her first-graders, packs up her bikini and heads for Moonlight Harbor, where she knows her big sister, Jenna, will receive her with open arms. Jenna could probably use some help at the Driftwood Inn, and Celeste is happy to do chores around the place in exchange for a relaxing summer escape. She just needs something—or someone—to distract her from her troubles.
Finding The One can be tricky, and Jenna is determined to make sure Celeste gets it right this time around. Not that Jenna’s an expert. She’s still trying to sort out her own love life. But if both sisters listen to their hearts, eventually they’re bound to discover that life—and love—is good at the beach.

After finding out that her boyfriend cheated on her Celeste Jones joins her sister Jenna at Moonlight Harbor, where she helps her take care of the Driftwood Inn. Celeste is more than happy to do the chores in exchange for a summer escape.

Finding The One isn’t easy and her sister Jenna of all people should know that. Still, Jenna is determined to help her sister out by introducing her to Pastor Paul in hopes that her sister would make the right connection and choice. All Celeste wants is to find the perfect man, one that isn’t reminiscent with her ex-boyfriend who did her wrong. Pastor Paul definitely checks out in that department, he definitely wouldn’t cause her the heartache. But while Paul is sweet and comfortable, maybe being the Pastor’s wife is not something Celeste is all cut out to be and what about Henry the writer in room number 12?

This was a cute summer read. I found that I really enjoyed it and flew through the pages. I liked how it felt like a good beach read and I really enjoyed the characters and the small town life, despite having a few issues.

I had a hard time believing Celeste age in her late 30s. She acted a lot younger, especially when it came to love and men and she continued to make some wickedly bad decisions. I could see why she did it though, I think she was truly afraid of being hurt again but settling down with a family appealed to her. I wish it didn’t take her till the very last minute to see where she went wrong, but it was still a fluffy entertaining story. I really loved the interaction between Celeste and Henry and wished there was more of them over Paul.

There was a lot going on and I’d normally have a hard time with the character’s actions, but I found that I was just thoroughly enjoying it despite her decisions and it was an awesome fast phased palate cleanser.

I really want to see where Jenna’s storyline goes. From what little I got from Seth here I already found myself taking his side and hope she comes to a decision. While  I really enjoyed this, I do find that Celeste’s actions are probably not for everyone. But with it’s fast-paced writing, a charming small town and a wonderful cast of characters, this book makes a lovely summer read.

Overall, I will be coming back for more of the small town drama because I really enjoyed this book, despite some issues.

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Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Posted July 5, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill ShalvisRainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone #2
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on June 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

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.

Following the USA Today bestselling author of Lost and Found Sisters comes Jill Shalvis' moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship
Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. 
Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?
Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.
Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Oh my heart guys, I almost forgot how much I like Jill Shalvis romance.

I’ve struggled with some of the books in her Heartbreaker Bay series due to my disliking some of the characters in there that keep popping up, but Rainy Day Friends hit all the marks for me.

We follow Lanie Jacob’s whose husband’s death brought on a deep sense of pain and loss, until she discovers that she isn’t the only one grieving his death and that her husband apparently had an addiction to marrying a lot of women, four in fact.

Lanie takes a job to reinvent all the packaging for a very successful winery, where she meets the owner’s son, Mark an Air Force veteran turned sheriff who gave up his military career for his two twin daughters.

My heart. I adored this book. It was funny, it was charming, the romance was just right and awesome. I was a bit worried because I have completely struggled with romances lately and this just hit all the marks and pulled me out of the slump long enough to really enjoy it.

Now I know there is a mention that a lot of the jokes in here came from meme’s, I don’t follow meme’s enough to distinguish that fact, so I guess it did not bother me, but I can see how it can bother other people.

Overall, I think despite that little tidbit, I absolutely ended up adoring this. I adored the romance and how Mark’s daughters chipped down her walls. I loved the setting of the winery and the family. I struggled with the character of River and felt for Lanie with what she went through, it was unfortunate so it was awesome to see her find happiness.

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Audiobook Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert

Posted May 30, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 14 Comments

Audiobook Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. ReichertThe Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert
Narrator: Teri Schnaubelt
Length: 8 hours and 12 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Tantor Audio on Tantor Audio
Genres: Womens Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Tantor Audio
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

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

1. Get through to your daughter. 2. Buy more cheese. 3. Don't forget to call your mother.
Grilled G's Gourmet Food Truck is where chef, owner, obsessive list-maker, and recent widow Gina Zoberski finds the order and comfort she needs to struggle through each day, especially when confronted with her critical mother Lorraine and sullen daughter May.
Image-conscious Lorraine always knows best and expects her family to live up to her high expectations, no matter what. May just wants to be left alone to mourn her father in her own way. Gina always aims to please, but finds that her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys both her mother and her daughter, no matter how hard she tries.
But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine's kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother's failing health and her daughter's rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go...

A lovely story that follows three generations of women, a mother-daughter relationship story told by three different women and their life-altering secrets.

This was a great book to listen to, I thought the narrator Teri Schnaubelt really brought the characters and the story to life, I was pulled in so much I did not even bother with the ebook, which I also had a copy with.

The writing was really cozy. I liked learning about Gina’s past and how the author chose to unfold her painful past as well as how her mother Lorraine might understand her daughter more than she shows.

I loved that this book focused on family and building or mending relationships, rather it’s by understand and talking about the past, accepting, and listening to how the other members of the family feel.

The only place I really struggled was Lorraine’s part of the book. I could understand where she was coming, but my biggest issue was her behavior towards Gina’s husband upon meeting her and how her own past wasn’t much different. She really felt like the worlds biggest hypocrite and that bothered me, I did not understand how someone that was so in love ones refused to accept the same for her daughter. Her own unhappiness in her marriage should have encouraged her daughter to marry whoever her heart desires, but her self-perseverance put a chasm between her and her daughter.

I found both stories to be really sad and pull on my heart strings.

I wish Lorraine’s ending was different than the one the author chose to give her, but overall, the ending in the book was pretty solid.

I really enjoyed this as an audiobook and definitely found it a great read with interesting characters overall.

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Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank

Posted May 16, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton FrankBy Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow on May 15, 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
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.

The Lowcountry of South Carolina is where By Invitation Only begins at a barbecue engagement party thrown by Diane English Stiftel, her brother Floyd, and her parents to celebrate her son’s engagement. On this gorgeous, magical night, the bride’s father, Alejandro Cambria, a wealthy power broker whose unbelievably successful career in private equity made him one of Chicago’s celebrated elite, discovers the limits and possibilities of cell phone range. While the mother of the bride, Susan Kennedy Cambria, who dabbles in the world of public relations and believes herself deserving of every square inch of her multimillion-dollar penthouse and imaginary carrara marble pedestal, learns about moonshine and dangerous liaisons.
Soon By Invitation Only zooms to Chicago, where the unraveling accelerates. Nearly a thousand miles away from her comfortable, familiar world, Diane is the antithesis of the bright lights and super-sophisticated guests attending her son Fred’s second engagement party. Why a second party? Maybe it had been assumed that the first one wouldn’t be up to snuff? Fred is marrying Shelby Cambria, also an only child. The Cambrias’ dearest wish is for their daughter to be happy. If Shelby wants to marry Frederick, aka Fred, they will not stand in her way—although Susan does hope her friends won’t think her daughter is marrying more than a few degrees beneath her socially. At the same time, Diane worries that her son will be lost to her forever.
By Invitation Only is a tale of two families, one struggling to do well, one well to do, and one young couple—the privileged daughter of Chicago’s crème de la crème and the son of hard -working Southern peach farmers.
Dorothea Benton Frank offers a funny, sharp, and deeply empathetic novel of two very different worlds—of limousines and pickup trucks, caviars and pigs, skyscrapers and ocean spray—filled with a delightful cast of characters who all have something to hide and a lot to learn. A difference in legal opinions, a headlong dive from grace, and an abrupt twist will reveal the truth of who they are and demonstrate, when it truly counts, what kind of grit they have. Are they living the life they want, what regrets do they hold, and how would they remake their lives if they were given the invitation to do so?
By Invitation Only is classic Dorothea Benton Frank—a mesmerizing Lowcountry Tale that roars with spirit, humor, and truth, and forces us to reconsider our notions of what it means to be a Have or a Have Not.

A story that follows two different women, from two different worlds. Diane English Stiftel grew up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and now her only son Fred is getting married to a girl out of Chicago. Susan Kennedy Cambria is a socialite who dabbles in a world of public relation, married to a wealthy and powerful broker, and believes she deserves every inch of her expensive lives. When their children are on the verge of being married, their worlds collide in the most unexpected ways.

I found myself enjoying this book. It follows two different families. One that is struggling to get by and one that is very well off. One that lives on a farm and lives off the land and one that is immersed in the world of the rich and barely lifts a finger to make dinner.

I wanted to pick this book up because I myself am from New York City and although I did not move to the Lowcounty of South Carolina, I did move to a small farm town in PA to be with my husband. The transition is different, but I couldn’t identify with Susan. Susan at times was a very hard character to like and it felt like the author wanted to make her as horrible as she was to create a stark contrast with these women, until life hits them in the face and we get to see that if you strip away anyone down to their vulnerability we are not so different after all.

I did notice as I was reading the book that the author like following up bad news with good news right away, most often even within the same chapter. Now that could be constructed as a way that despite all the hardships and troubles, there is always a lighter part of life. I do have to say it tended to give me a bit of a whiplash, I didn’t feel like the characters had enough time to really process the news that got laid into them and feel emotional before they were given to deal with something else, which made it hard for me to really connect to the characters. I felt like it could have been handled a bit better as far as how they processed things and made them more genuine if they were given some time.

The ending was quite a bit more emotional, and satisfying at the same time. I found this book was perfect for this Spring night reads and just what I wanted at this time of year. I enjoyed the parts about the farm and how Diane and her family took care of themselves, it was at times touching and pleasant.

Overall, this was my first book by this author and I am looking forward to going back and reading more from her.

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Guest Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy Reichert

Posted May 12, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Guest Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy ReichertThe Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert
Series: standalone
Published by Gallery Books on May 15th 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 310
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.

1. Get through to your daughter. 2. Buy more cheese. 3. Don't forget to call your mother.
Grilled G's Gourmet Food Truck is where chef, owner, obsessive list-maker, and recent widow Gina Zoberski finds the order and comfort she needs to struggle through each day, especially when confronted with her critical mother Lorraine and sullen daughter May.
Image-conscious Lorraine always knows best and expects her family to live up to her high expectations, no matter what. May just wants to be left alone to mourn her father in her own way. Gina always aims to please, but finds that her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys both her mother and her daughter, no matter how hard she tries.
But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine's kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother's failing health and her daughter's rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go...

Three generations of women in one family have struggled to connect. Until now. An older woman’s stroke brings out a long-held secret and is the catalyst for healing to begin with her daughters and her granddaughter. It was heartwarming, bittersweet, and a family story that left me wanting to call my own mom and hug her.

Gina is a widowed woman of two years running her fantastic Grilled G’s food cart business (seriously, her versions of grilled cheese kept me salivating) and figure out how to get through her daughter May’s teen hormones and angry grief. She copes by making her ever present lists and trying to look on the bright side.

Lorraine is a starched up well preserved woman who is driven and drives her daughters especially Gina until she has a stroke and the family secrets are discovered. Now, when she has no way to verbalize, this is when real communication happens in her family and the healing and understanding can start.

Lastly, there is young May. She grieves for her dad and takes all her loss and anger out on her mom thinking her mom has moved on and seems to want to forget May’s dad. May isolated herself and now is slowly coming out of that and seeing her mother very differently.

I should also mention- mostly because she was my favorite character and made me smile often, giving some of the heavier moments more balance – Lorraine’s second daughter Vicky doesn’t have as large a role, but she is right in the middle of all the new-found family healing and togetherness.

Like many Chick Lits and Women’s Fictions, this one is easy-paced and takes it’s time. The story is told in flashbacks and the present. There are emotional moments and slice of life scattered through the story. Food is an elemental theme around which these women can and do connect. The ending was a little heavy, but still very satisfying.

In summary, this was my first book by the author and now I can see why folks rave about her writing. It talks about every day women, family, and food with a dash of humor and sadness. I will definitely be going back for more and recommend this one to those who enjoy stories that focus on multi-generational women’s stories tied together by family.

I rec’d this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: Flying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown

Posted April 24, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: Flying at Night by Rebecca L. BrownFlying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown, Cassandra Campbell, Kivlighan de Montebello, Arthur Morey
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell, Kivlighan de Montebello, Arthur Morey
Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Penguin Audio, Berkley on April 10, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Family
Pages: 336
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 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.

An emotionally charged debut novel, told through the voices of three family members, who learn that when your world changes, so does your destination....
Stay-at-home mom Piper Whitman Hart is too close to her nine-year-old son Fred to realize that his idiosyncrasies are signs of something more. And just when his diagnosis of autism sends her life reeling, she's dragged back into the orbit of her emotionally abusive father, Lance, after a heart attack leaves him with brain damage.
Fred is in need of a friend. Lance is in need of care. And Piper just wants to feel stable ground beneath her feet. What she never expects is that Fred and Lance--both misunderstood by the world--will start to connect in the most miraculous of ways...

A beautifully written, emotionally charged novel about family.

Piper is a stay at home mom, who is very close to her son that she does not realize that his idiosyncrasies could be a sign of something more. Dealing with her own family drama, Piper’s world is thrown into a spin when her son is identified with Autism around the same time her emotionally abusive father, suffers a heart attack. When her father survives the heart attack, but is left with brain damage, Piper is left to take care of him after her mother bails out completely. Unable to leave him in a home, Piper ends up not only dealing with her father and his new state of being as well as with Fred.

This was a beautiful debut. I found the story for myself, extremely relatable, emotionally driven, raw, with wonderful writing and memorable characters. You can feel for Piper and all the stress she is under, the unfairness of it all. I found myself angry for Piper because of how her mother just unloaded everything on her at such a critical time in Piper’s life. This book deals with autism, it deals with family and depression, the struggles of ups and downs and it just flows so well.

I both read the book and listened to this on Audio. The audio was fantastic. There was a chapter for Piper, Fred and Lance (the father) read by three different narrators and they did a truly wonderful job, it made the emotions and the characters in this book that much more real. The narrators really gave these characters both personality and life.

The ending was just a tearjerker, I really did not see that coming. It was so heartbreaking, but the author still did such a wonderful job. She even used her own life experience with her son as an influence for her novel and you could tell that through the way she crafted her story. As someone who has Autism in the family, this book really hit close to home and something I was able to identify with. Just thinking about this book right now is making my eye water, it was great and if you have not heard of it I do recommend you give this one a shot.

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Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Posted February 15, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel CleetonNext Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley on February 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 394
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.

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...
Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.
Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Elisa Perez has always dreamt of returning to Cuba after the revolution. Her and many others who have left for exile in America were waiting for the day that Castro would no longer have control of their beautiful country so they could make their way home. The day has finally arrived, but Elisa Perez never had the chance to witness it.

Finally making it onto Cuban soil after many years of her grandmother’s stories, Marisol Ferrera is both excited and saddened that she does not get to experience Cuba with her grandmother as Elisa passed away recently. But she wants to fulfill her grandmother’s dying wish and that is to spread her ashes in Cuba. One problem, Elisa never told Marisol where she wants her ashes spread and as Marisol debates where would be the best place to lay her grandmother to rest, she comes to discover a lot of hidden family secrets since the revolution.

Oh gosh, this book. My first dive into this authors work and I do not regret it. This. Was. Fantastic. Slow moving at first yes, this book took a bit to get into, but once I was fully invested, I absolutely adored it!

This is told in two different time lines. We get to see how Marisol fairs in modern day Cuba, uncovering secrets about her grandmother that she was never told as well as possibly falling in love. Plus, we get to experience Cuba in the 1958 and how the revolution happened as well as Elisa Perez beautifully poignant story.

I loved Elisa’s story, it was beautiful and heartbreaking and I found myself more invested in her romance over Marisols. As Elisa accidentally falls in love with a revolutionary called Pablo, her family is sitting pretty, but scared of what will happen to their country. Coming from a wealthy family, Elisa is a daughter of a sugar baron and her father a huge supporter of Batista. When Batista escapes Cuba after losing the war to the revolutionaries, Elisa’s world is completely shaken and thrown upside down.

The twist in the end totally shattered my heart. I felt that it was coming as everything started to unravel, but I still felt unprepared. Cleeton is such a fantastic writer and storyteller and does such a wonderful job at weaving Cuban history into the storyline. I felt like I learned a bit more about Cuba and what the country was before the revolution. I also felt sad that it isn’t what it use to be after years under Castro’s rule.

The way Cleeton writes about the passion Cuban’s feel for their country in this book is both overwhelming and emotional as evident in the current timeline with Marisol and Luis. Luis is Ana’s grandson. Ana is Elisa’s best friend who stayed in Cuba despite the revolution and it is through their families hardships and passion due we witness the struggle and perseverance of families in Cuba.

There isn’t much negatives about this book. The slow pace aside at points, I do feel like the book could have been shortened just a tad bit at some spots. Also, I wasn’t sure how I felt about such a clean ending with Luis and Marisol, it just felt a tad bit too convenient for me to be believable.

Overall though, this was a great historical fiction with a mix of romance. The story that was told was interesting and the romance between Elisa and Pablo was just so heartbreaking.

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