Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Short Review: A Brambleberry Summer


About the Book:

Will the secrets of her past…

Prevent her from having the future she’s always wanted?

Rosa Galvez’s attraction to Officer Wyatt Townsend is as powerful as the moon’s pull on the tides. But with her past, Rosa knows better than to act on her feelings. When Wyatt and his adorable son become Brambleberry House’s newest tenants, Rosa finds her resolve slipping. Her solo life slowly becomes a sun-filled family adventure—until dark secrets threaten to break like a summer storm.

My Comments:

Like many of RaeAnne Thayne's books, this one is set in small towns and feature some recurring cast members.  However, I found this one to be overwritten and melodramatic.  Rosa's secret wasn't hard to guess nor was it hard to figure out why the secret would dull her attraction to men, but it doesn't dull her attraction, only makes her fight against it, which in my opinion doesn't make sense.  

The book has a couple of subplots, both of which seemed to be just tacked on.  

All in all, the book seemed much longer than what it was and I just think it is one of Thaynes weaker works.  Grade: C+

Monday, June 28, 2021

Review: When I Found You


About the Book:

After everything she worked for is destroyed, pediatrician Natasha Gray is determined to build a new life. Divorced, bankrupt and suddenly a single mom, she’s ready to start over in Silver Springs—on her own. She certainly doesn’t need help from Mack Amos, the man who’s already broken her heart twice.

Although Mack has had feelings for Tash since they first met, too many things have stood in the way. He’s always given her the support she needs, though, and he’ll do the same now. Even if the desire he wrestles with threatens to undermine his intentions…

But her heart is not the only reason Natasha wants to keep Mack at bay. More time in her life means getting closer to her son, which could lead to a revelation neither of them is ready to face.

My Comments:

Fans of Brenda Novak will know what I mean when I say this book is Silver Springs meets Whiskey Creek.  Natasha is starting over in Silver Springs, but someone else wants a new start too--Mack Amos, one of the Amos brothers from Whiskey Creek.  While the story of how Natasha got to this point doesn't really ring true, I liked her and her son.

Those familiar with the Whiskey Creek series will remember that when the Amos patriarch was released from prison, he returned home with a wife in tow--and that wife had a daughter, Natasha.  Mack's feelings about Natasha weren't brotherly then and certainly aren't now-over 10 years after the Whiskey Creek books.  

Both Mack and Natasha have been through some rough times lately, but I loved watching them move to happily ever after.  Like the other Whiskey Creek books, the extended cast plays an important part.  Mild Spoiler:  The big Whiskey Creek secret comes out.  Still, I think you could enjoy the book even if you never met any of the Whiskey Creek characters.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?


 I'm linking up with Kathryn and the gang over at Book Date. where we share what we've been reading and talk about life in general.

I celebrated one of those milestone birthdays on Friday so I took the day off.  It gave me the chance to get some reading done.  The weekend in general was pretty low-key as it has rained on and off so it makes it hard to get motivated to go anywhere.  I enjoyed watching the gymnastics Olympic trials.  We are thinking about a beach weekend in the not too distant future.  

I've grabbed a bunch of NetGalleys this week. 

I actually started most of them.  Sleigh Bells was about what I expected.  Keep Me Warm at Christmas wasn't my favorite, but I think most Silver Springs fans will like it.  Pray for Us and Introduction to the Spiritual Life are both easy reads but I'm taking my time with them.  

I have two reviews this week:

Hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, June 25, 2021

The House Guests: My Review


About the Book

In the wake of her husband’s sudden death, Cassie Costas finds her relationship with her teenage stepdaughter unraveling. After their move to historic Tarpon Springs, Florida, Savannah hates her new town, her school and most of all her stepmom, whom she blames for her father’s death. Cassie has enough to contend with as she searches for answers about the man she shared a life with, including why all their savings have disappeared.

When Savannah’s rebellion culminates in an act that leaves single mother Amber Blair and her sixteen-year-old son homeless, Cassie empathizes with the woman’s predicament and invites the strangers to move in. As their lives intertwine, Cassie realizes that Amber is hiding something. She’s evasive about her past, but the fear in her eyes tells a darker story. Cassie wonders what the woman living under her roof is running from…and what will happen if it finally catches up to her.

My Comments:

Emilie Richards is one of  the authors whose books I read when I find them, and there is a good reason for that--for the most part I've enjoyed them and found them to be my type of books.  When The House Guests came across NetGalley I missed it because the cover didn't look like the kind of book I usually read and I didn't notice the author's name.  Then I saw people starting to talk about it, so I went and grabbed it. 

On the one hand, I don't usually read suspense or mystery books, so I don't really know what normal expectations are, but this story had two major plot lines and I found the resolution of one to be unrealistic.  As noted above, the reader learns early in the story that Amber is running from something--we just do  not know what.  When we learn and when that whole plotline resolves, I just didn't find it believable.  Maybe that's because this isn't my usual genre.  

The other plotline is Cassie learning that her late husband cleaned out their retirement accounts not long before he died and trying to find out why.  I found the resolution of this plotline to be very believable.
Emilie Richards' strength as a writer is her characters, and that holds true in this book too.  Cassie's grandmother was my favorite.  

A lot of Richards' books have strong romantic subplots.  The romance is there in this book but it isn't a major factor  and in the end, it isn't HEA, but rather, the suggestion that HEA will happen eventually.  
I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  Grade: B 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Review: The Girl I Used to Be


About the Book:

When Jill Goodman’s picture-perfect marriage implodes, she’s heartbroken. Still reeling from the shock, the only thing she receives in the hasty divorce settlement is the deed to her husband’s sprawling beach house on the New Jersey coastline. Jill never cared about money – only her marriage – but with Marc determined to take everything she owns, the beach house is her only lifeline left.

With no other choice, Jill travels to the shore intending to sell the house quickly—but the task is not as easy as she expects. Still, she can’t help but be charmed by the beautiful seaside town and its sweetly old-fashioned ways. Despite everything, Jill is starting to see a path back to who she was before she met her husband – not the demure, polished housewife she’d become, but the smiling young woman with the strong Jersey accent who loved her family more than anything.

Then Jill dives deeper into Marc’s secrets and she stumbles across a something in her husband’s past that changes everything. Could Jill herself have been unknowingly complicit in what Marc did and, if so, what will happen to her when the truth finally comes to light? With Marc determined to bury the evidence, can Jill find a way to save herself before her once perfect husband takes her down with him?

My Comments:

I've heard it said that good healthy relationships help you to be a better version of yourself.  Unhealthy relationships let you stay where you are or regress to a lesser place, or they try to make you into someone you are not.  When Jill learns her husband is having an affair she realizes that he has spent their marriage making her into someone she is not--and she does not consider the "new her" to be an improvement.  This book follows her through her divorce and starting over.  

I liked Jill and liked watching her realize what was important to her and what was not.  Of course I hated Marc--there was  nothing likeable about him or his fraternity brother attorney.  While I enjoyed the book and read it pretty much straight through, I found the resolution to be highly unlikely.  Also from what I read I could figure out why Marc would have made Jill his mistress, I just don't know why he actually married her.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  Grade:  B. 

Its Monday, What Are You Reading


I'm linking up with Kathryn and the gang over at Book Date. where we share what we've been reading and talk about life in general.

Not much excitement here.  My older daughter came over for Father's Day, but it was pretty low key.  My husband recently got on Medicare and his plan includes Silver Sneakers that lets him use local fitness facilities for free.  The YMCA is on the list and if he goes on Sundays he can bring a guest at no cost.  We used to take the kids there to swim when they were little, seems odd to be there without them, but I guess that's what being an (almost) empty nester is all about.  He's been joining me at my gym, that he never wanted to pay to join, too.  

The library has been my source of reading material lately.  We got several guidebooks for Europe/Italy.  That's the plan for next summer.  I also read

The book features four women at different stages in life, all of whom are undergoing big changes.  Definitely recommend. Grade: B+

Her husband disappears and his last message to her is to  protect his daughter.  Thrillers and mysteries are not my usual but I saw several good reviews so I have this a whirl.  The reason he went missing was pretty much what I figured it would be.  Her solution--the way she protected the daughter, ingenious but I find it hard to believe she thought of it in the situation she was in.  Still, not a bad read.  Grade: B. 

No reviews this week--have to get to work on that.  Have a great week. 

Monday, June 07, 2021

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?


I'm linking up with Kathryn and the gang over at Book Date. where we share what we've been reading and talk about life in general.

The only books I acquired this week were from the library--a stack of travel guides to Europe.  Next year, once we no longer have a minor child in the house we are heading to Europe.  We are trying to decide between a cruise, a multi-city bus tour or going it alone.  My husband isn't a fan of the unpredictable so he's not crazy about doing it alone, even if it would save money.  He also wants more than a single day in several places, and cruises don't generally do that, so it looks like we are looking at a bus tour.  Anybody got any experiences, good or bad?  

On my blog this week I discussed digital books from the library.  

Two reviews published:

Hope everyone has a good week. 

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Review: The Stepsisters


About the Book:

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.

My Comments:

During your teenaged years it is tough to love a sister you've grown up with, much less a step-sister your age whose strengths are your weaknesses.  No, Sage and Daisy didn't like each other, but they both loved Cassidy and by helping her they learned that the other wasn't so bad.

Sage has lived a rough life--her mother was a woman who married for money but never managed to stay that way, probably because she never learned to love.  Sage sees that she is heading down that same road and decides to change--but then there is the BIG thing.  I'm all for forgiveness but in this case that forgiveness seemed to come awfully easily.  

I enjoyed the book and enjoyed watching these three women outgrow childhood animosities and realize that they are loveable, but some of it just seemed too easy.  Grade:  B.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Libraries and E-books


I don't know about you, but I'm getting more use out of my public library lately--and entering its doors less.  Yes, I'm a digital content junkie.  Through the magic of a couple of apps on my phone or Fire, books can be in my hand as quickly with my library card as with my credit card.  Definitely a win for my wallet.  Let's take a look at some of the choices:

Library-Purchased Ebooks and Audiobooks

With Overdrive and some other platforms, libraries create custom collections (a fancy way of saying they choose which books to purchase the rights to lend). The library decides how many copies of each book to purchase. This means that even if Overdrive has the title you want, your library may not.  Even if your library has the title, you may have to wait in line to read it.  Even if your library has the book today, it may not have it next month as what the library purchases is access for a certain number of months, or a certain number of borrows, whichever comes first. 

In my experience with my library, which may or may not be typical, Overdrive is where the "hot" titles end up.  

Overdrive offers digital books, magazines and audio books.  

Pay Per Borrow

Hoopla is another digital platform to which libraries can subscribe.  Instead of purchasing books, libraries subscribe to the platform and then they pay per borrow for the books you read.  This is one reason they limit the number of books per month--though HOOPLA offers bonus borrows most months which I presume are those for which they do not charge our library. 

Besides books, HOOPLA offers audiobooks, Comics, Movies, Music and Television shows. 

While I borrow a lot of books from HOOPLA they tend to be older books, new authors or less popular genres.  

Being a Good Citizen

If I go to  my local library, borrow an armful of books and then never touch them once I get them home, unless I'm talking about a handful of "hot" books, I'm probably not hurting anyone.  The books spent three weeks stored at my house rather than sitting on the library shelf.  However, e-books are different. 

Hoopla has the advantage of being able to make a huge catalogue available to any library without big upfront costs but every borrow costs your library money (one site I reviewed said $0.99-1.49; others have said more). Some libraries have found the service to be so popular that they have had to cancel it as it was costing too much.

With purchased books, such as those accessed through Overdrive, the library has control of its budget.  However, unlike physical copies of books which can be kept for many years (and which are often discarded in "good" condition once the demand for them falls) e-books and audiobooks are licensed for a certain period of time or a certain number of borrows.  They are also limited to one check-out at a time per copy purchased, and no, despite the fact that there are no physical items to manufacture, ship and store, they are not inexpensive for libraries to purchase.  

Until I ran across a website on these platforms I honestly figured e-books were like physical books in that libraries bought them and then had them forever if they wanted them.  I figured that if I didn't monopolize a bunch of "hot" books if I had books I never read, then no harm, no foul.  Now that I'm aware of the pricing model I do try to be more discerning in my check-outs.  

Did you know how e-books were priced for your library?  If not, will this knowledge change your borrowing habits? 

This post is part of the 2021 Discussion Challenge.  Check out everyone's posts this month. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Review: The Letter Keeper


About the Book:

Combining heart-wrenching emotion with edge-of-your-seat tension, Charles Martin explores the true power of sacrificial love.

He shows up when all hope is lost.

Murphy Shepherd has made a career of finding those no one else could—survivors of human trafficking. His life’s mission is helping others find freedom.

But then the nightmare strikes too close to home.

When his new wife, her daughter, and two other teenage girls are stolen, Murphy is left questioning all he has thought to be true. With more dead ends than leads, he has no idea how to find those he loves.

After everything is stripped away, love is what remains.

Hope feels lost, but Murphy is willing to expend his last breath trying to bring them home.

My Comments:

I almost quit about 10% into the book because I couldn't figure out what was happening or how the characters fit together. However, I kept reading and in the end, I can't say I wasted my time, but no, I will not be reading the next book in the series.

The story is told in the first person by Shepherd, and it follows two timelines--what is happening now, and what happened in the past to bring him into this line of work.

Based on the blurb above, I expected a story where his loved ones were kidnapped early in the book and we as readers spent most of the book watching him follow the clues and dead ends to rescue them. Instead there was a lot of exposition about Murphy's childhood and young adult years, followed by some current action, then, in the last quarter of the book the kidnapping and resolution.

What did I not like? Basically, the characters all seems so unrealistic. Murphy was a loner kid who had only one friend, but at some point he saw some trafficking victims and rescues them, and that is noticed by someone. He gets an appointment to the Air Force Academy, even though he never applied, and while there, is mentored by an Episcopal priest who is a chaplain, but who wears robes around the Academy, not a uniform. The chaplain signs him up for an online seminary and between his Academy work and the seminary program, Murphy is busy to say the least.

After graduation, instead of going into the Air Force, he goes to work for his mentor in some super-secret super exclusive group that rescues people. They set up a community for the folks they rescue where they can receive counseling, love, support, etc.--and I'm talking community, not a couple of buildings. 
The bottom line is that I never figured out why all these people were together.  In writing this post, I learned that this is book two in the series and reading the blurb on book one explained a few of the characters, but there is one in particular that still makes no sense to me based on the content of this book. I could never get to the point of accepting the author's world as real.
The book is published by Thomas Nelson which is a Christian publisher and as noted, two of the characters are priests (I think--maybe they are just pretending)but while the theme of self-sacrificing love is there, I wouldn't call this a religious book. 
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade: C. 


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