Book Review: The Best of Us (Sullivan’s Crossing #4) by Robyn Carr

About the Book:

The Best of Us (Sullivan's Crossing, #4)

In Sullivan’s Crossing, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr has created a place where good people, powerful emotions, great humor and a healthy dose of common sense are the key ingredients to a happy life. Sullivan’s Crossing brings out the best in people. It’s a place you’ll want to visit again and again.

Dr. Leigh Culver loves practicing medicine in Timberlake, Colorado. It is a much-needed change of pace from her stressful life in Chicago. The only drawback is she misses her aunt Helen, the woman who raised her. But it’s time that Leigh has her independence, and she hopes the beauty of the Colorado wilderness will entice her aunt to visit often.

Helen Culver is an independent woman who lovingly raised her sister’s orphaned child. Now, with Leigh grown, it’s time for her to live life for herself. The retired teacher has become a successful mystery writer who loves to travel and intends to never experience winter again.

When Helen visits Leigh, she is surprised to find her niece still needs her, especially when it comes to sorting out her love life. But the biggest surprise comes when Leigh takes Helen out to Sullivan’s Crossing and Helen finds herself falling for the place and one special person. Helen and Leigh will each have to decide if they can open themselves up to love neither expected to find and seize the opportunity to live their best lives.

My Thoughts:

The Best of Us introduces us to Leigh and Helen, two wonderful women who share a very special bond. Having brought Leigh up, Helen tries to find her space, once her niece is all grown up. As Leigh tries to break away from her stressful life and deal with moving away from her aunt, Helen, we see that the both of them have to accept the change. The story is well written and we watch as the main characters interact with their new surroundings and the new people around them. They have to adapt to each other as adults and accept who they are now! The author shows us the importance of acceptance and maintaining relationships, especially those with family.

Once again we are back at Sullivan’s Crossing for another feel-good tale of love, good people and a lot of fun. This book is a must read for fans of romance novels!

Book Review: Wrong Place, Right Time by E.B. Roshan

About the Book:

All Anna Belko wants is a quiet cup of tea. For a young garment factory worker in the uneasy city of Dor, such moments of peace are few and far between. When she stops by a little cafe called Oxsana’s on her way home from work, she has many things on her mind, but meeting the man who will turn her life upside down is not one of them.

After his cousin is killed, Boris Merkovich wonders if he will ever feel a moment of peace again. As the manager of Oxsana’s, his family’s cafe he doesn’t have time for grieving. But everything changes when he stumbles and almost pours a pot of tea into his customer’s lap. To his surprise, the young woman doesn’t become angry…

Love comes in unexpected ways. Neither Anna nor Boris dreamed this unexpected encounter would change both their lives, but as Dor implodes, Boris and Anna’s relationship, begun over a broken teapot and a heartfelt prayer, only grows stronger.
However, it isn’t long before Anna realizes the hatred destroying her city isn’t just “out there.” If Boris cannot forgive his cousin’s killer, it will cost both him and Anna everything they’ve begun to hope for.

My thoughts:

I was provided with a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wrong place, right time follows the lives of Anna Belko and Boris Merkovich as they navigate a war torn world. Set in the make-believe world of Sevia, the author has done a wonderful job of bringing this world to life. It feels as though the places really exist and the author brings to life the characters in the book with great attention to detail! The best thing is that the characters are realistic. They have problems, they are not perfect, but they find love and learn to accept each others’ flaws.

As far as romance novels go, this book is a short and quick read. However, there is an element of suspense with respect to what happens to the main characters and what kind of decisions they take which makes the story interesting. Keeping in tune with the title, the main characters Anna and Boris meet coincidentally at Boris’s family’s cafe. This leads to an unexpected attraction, a growing friendship and a lot of understanding born out of dealing with grief and loss. As they navigate the world and their feelings, we meet their families and the people they interact with, giving us a further glimpse into the perils of life and how the people are dealing with them.

This story is worth the read especially since it has all the elements of romance mixed with suspense making it an emotional ride in a very short time!

Book Review: Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard

 

Keep Forever
Alexa Kingaard
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: March 28th 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction

“Unlike some war stories that focus on intense, harsh and graphic depictions of post-combat trauma, this tale unfolds gently, like an Edna Ferber novel, spread across many decades, detailing the impact this soldier’s illness has on an entire family, including children and grandchildren. KEEP FOREVER is a wonderful, emotionally satisfying read that I highly recommend. ”
GARY SEIGEL, author of “Haskell Himself”

 

 

Paul O’Brien’s idyllic childhood in Southern California comes to a halt when his mother dies in the summer before his senior year of high school and a very different persona of his father emerges – isolating himself inside the house, turning to alcohol for comfort, and barely noticing his only child. Simultaneously, the war in Vietnam is sending shock waves around the world and young men from one coast to the other are being called upon to serve. Paul enlists in the Marines before receiving his draft notice.

Elizabeth Sutton is eager to gain some independence from her father’s old fashioned notions and looking forward to her first year in high school. At fifteen years old, tragedy strikes with the loss of both parents in an auto accident, turning her childhood into one of responsibility and worry overnight. The four siblings are scattered when her nine-year-old twin sisters are sent to live with their Aunt and Uncle on Nantucket Island, and Elizabeth is left behind in Boston with their grandmother. Her older brother, Sam, enlists in the Marines, eager to join the conflict a world away as opposed to dealing with the one unfolding at home.

A bond develops between Paul and Sam in Vietnam, and both are injured in a bloody battle that costs Sam his right hand and sets the stage for a lifetime of nightmares and sleepless nights for Paul. Matched by similar tragedies at a young age, Elizabeth and Paul’s first introduction by Sam upon their return from Vietnam is the beginning of friendship and love that survives five decades.

After marrying, welcoming their first child, and inheriting a small beach house, the couple adapts to their new surroundings, but distant memories of Vietnam continue to haunt Paul. In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, he is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his loved ones amidst his his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As their lives unravel from the lingering effects of PTSD, Elizabeth learns to accept the burden that Paul brought home, and together they make their own memories to keep forever.

Inspired By A True Story

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Author Bio:

ALEXA KINGAARD, a California native, currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of a son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders.

October 13, 2011, was the day that changed her life forever when her ex-husband, a Vietnam veteran, took his life during a PTSD flashback episode. Inspired to share this tragedy that continues to rob husbands and wives of their spouses, children of their parents, mothers of their children, brothers and sisters of their siblings, and comrades of their friends, Kingaard relied on her own experiences to shed light on this crisis. The burden brought home is not partial to Vietnam, but is an insidious aftershock endured by combat veterans of all conflicts.

Kingaard continues to pursue her literary career, writing about nostalgia and the human condition, the common denominator of our lives.

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My Thoughts:

Keep Forever is a story that will take the rider on a roller coaster of emotions. It follows the lives of Paul and Sam as they navigate their way through being Marines and their short experience with War in Vietnam. We also follow Elizabeth, Sam’s sister as she tries to hold on to her emotions and childhood while dealing with the loss of her parents and the responsibility of her younger siblings. A very well-written story, Keep Forever will pull the reader in and make up experience everything along with the main characters. The happiness, the turmoil, the heart-wrenching sadness and the flicker of hope.

Considering that this story is inspired by a true story, it is all that more eye opening. The reader is exposed to the concept of PTSD, the possible causes and the effects it may have on the person experiencing it as well as the people around. If a person is suffering from it, their pain and sorrow is difficult to relate to, but for the family, it is even more difficult to handle. The author brings in a lot of perspective on the topic and handles the concept with delicate ease. The main characters are well rounded and very well thought out. I enjoyed reading about their lives, and it was a humbling experience. We are also given a glimpse into the circumstances that shaped the characters and made them who they are, the reasons behind their decisions and finally the consequences of these decisions. These form the crux of the plot.

I particularly enjoyed reading about Elizabeth and how she grows into a strong woman. She takes control of her life, takes care of her family and builds a new one with the man she loves. Even in the end, she manages to give him distance while maintaining normalcy to ensure that he never feels useless. Her delicate handling of things and her ability to understand or make and effort to understand her husband’s pain is what makes her a wonderful person.

This story is a must read for everyone, a way to try and understand the nightmares of war and how it affects us human beings!

Book Review: The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley and the review below is my honest opinion.

About the Book:

The Girl in the Corner

From bestselling author Amanda Prowse comes the poignant tale of a woman who has always been there for her family. But will they be there for her?

Rae-Valentine and Howard were childhood sweethearts. They’ve shared twenty-five peaceful years since they were brought together by Dolly, Howard’s larger-than-life sister. But now, on the night of their wedding anniversary, Howard reveals a shocking betrayal that leaves Rae reeling.

Heartbroken, she takes Dolly on her would-be anniversary trip to Antigua and the two women drink and dance and talk like they haven’t in years. But in the break from real life, Rae realises her choices have always been made for her, and suddenly she’s questioning not only her fragile marriage but also her one-sided friendships. Is she really the pushover everyone else sees?

When Howard comes looking for reconciliation, Rae has a choice to make: keep the peace, as she always has, or put herself first for once and find out who she really is.

My thoughts:

The Girl in the Corner follows Rae-Valentine’s life and journey towards self-discovery. The entire first half of the story gives us a taste of her seemingly perfect life, perfect friendship and perfect relationships. She married her childhood-sweetheart and they have been together for twenty-five years, bringing up their two children, spending time with family and just living life.

However, when Howard reveals the truth of an affair, Rae-Valentine is forced to reassess her life and the decisions which led her to where she is today. As she tries to reconcile the facts in her head, she is forced to deal with her issues with her sister and she starts to question her friendship with Dolly, Howard’s sister. With time away, a lot of introspection mixed with Dolly’s persistent attempts to push her opinion on her friend, Rae-Valentine starts to realize that a lot of her life decisions seem to have been made for her. Things just fell into place and she never questioned them. She changed her goals based on her family’s ideas, then her life moved to revolve around Howard and her children. In the end, she starts to question which decision was really hers and where she is going with her life.

As everything comes crashing down, she realizes that sometimes you just have to seize the moment and do things for yourself, otherwise you get lost in the chaos of other people’s choices. When the betrayal strikes hard, it brings things into perspective and cause her to re-evaluate her life. The crux of the story is in her decisions and how she handles things in the end. Will she forgive Howard or will she move on from him after being together for so long?

At times the story seems slow and some parts repetitive in the thought, but overall, this is an interesting read with a pertinent message for all.

Book Review: Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match #1) by Rachael Anderson

About the Book:

Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match, #1)

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn’t afraid to show him that he doesn’t. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

My Thoughts:

After keeping this book on my to read list for a very long time (at least 5 years), I finally got around to reading it! It is a fun and simple story filled with a lot of entertaining moments. Prejudice meets Pride follows Emma as she moves to Colorado Springs having just taken custody of her two nieces. Learning to be a parent to them, she welcomes the help of her neighbours except for that of Kevin Grantham. What ensues is a clashing of wills as Emma tries to prove that she can handle things by herself and that she can be independent, while Kevin tries to be a gentleman and help out this confusing woman.

A typical clash between two stubborn people, sows seeds of romance as Emma grudgingly learns to trust Kevin and accept his presence while he learns to accept someone who stands up to him and has a mind of their own. Emma needs to learn to trust and Kevin is the person to teach her that. As the story progresses, it is one disaster after another until the two main characters just learn to accept that they need to work together and just maybe love is in the air!

This is a lovely book of self-discovery, family, parenting and of finding love in the most unlikely of places and in the unlikeliest person. This is a wonderfully light read and the characters are delightful though a little unrealistic at times. But sometimes, all a reader wants is a perfect ending and happiness! This story delivers it all!

Book Review: The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White

I would like to stress that the below review reflects my honest opinion.

 

About the Book:

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

*THE FIRST BOOK IN THE CAMELOT RISING TRILOGY*

My Thoughts:

The Guinevere Deception, Book 1 in the Camelot Rising series, is a re-telling of the famous King Arthur story from Guinevere’s point of view. However, this is a story with a twist. Here, the focus is on the heroine, but the story is placed at a time when all magic has been driven out of Camelot and Merlin is no longer present. Arthur sits on the throne, but needs to wed and produce an heir to ensure that his line continues. In this version of the story, Guinevere is not who she claims to be, but is sent to Camelot under the guise to protect Arthur.

The story is rife with attempts on Arthur’s life and we get a glimpse into the his past and a little of the actual legend behind his sword, Excaliber. There is a lot going on, but the character of Guinevere did not grow on me. In fact she quite annoyed me sometimes with the way she thinks and whines. She is not as strong as I expected and not very charismatic. In fact she seems to cause more problems than prevent them. The bond between the principal characters is good, but could have been developed more. Even though the plot is deep, it always seems to be missing something and there are moments when the reader is just spending time wondering where the story is going.

I particularly enjoyed the jousts and the mystery surrounding Lancelot. Though the mystery was unnecessarily dragged on, it was quite interesting to read about the author’s idea of the characters and her versions of them. On the whole the re-telling was interesting, it cannot be right or wrong as it is a point of view, but it seemed to drag on and I am not sure where this will take us in the books to come. I did enjoy some parts of it and I would recommend this book for those who want to try out a re-telling.

Book Review: Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne

About the Book:

Season of Wonder (Haven Point, #9)

He’s giving her children a season of wonder…

Dani Capelli seized a chance to start over in a small town with her daughters. Now, facing her first Christmas in Haven Point, she wonders if leaving New York was a mistake. Dani loves working alongside veterinarian Dr. Morales, but her two children aren’t adjusting to small-town life. And then there’s Dr. Morales’s son, Ruben—Dani’s next-door neighbor. Gorgeous, muscled and dependable, the deputy sheriff is everything she secretly craves and can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.

Ruben never pictured himself falling for a big-city woman like Dani. But beneath her prickly facade, she’s caring and softhearted and she needs all the love and protection he can give. When Dani’s teenage daughter starts acting out, Ruben draws on family traditions to show the girls just how magical a Haven Point Christmas can be. But can he convince Dani that she’s found a home for the holidays—and forever—in his arms?

My Thoughts:

A feel-good romance novel, author RaeAnne Thayne brings to the reader a story of love, family and acceptance. Season of Wonder is the perfect Christmas time romace, set in a small town and with the right kind of characters. Dani moves to this town with her daughters and she struggles to bring normalcy into their lives and ease them into this new life. She is also trying to adjust to her new job, which is everything she ever wanted and more.

Exposed to the goodness of people and the help provided, Dani is on the path to healing and move forward in life. Ruben, the next-door neighbour, takes to Dani and her daughters, rather unexpectedly for him. What ensues is a nice set of events as he sets out to win the hearts of these women, so as to be able to spend the rest of his life with them. Though the story can be predictable at times, it is heart-warming and light, easy to read and quite an enjoyable book!

Book Review: The Queen of Corvids by J.C. McKenzie

I found this book on NetGalley and immediately requested for a copy as the blurb sounded quite fascinating. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

Queen of Corvids (Raven Crawford, #3)

Truth can be ugly and part-time waitress, casual PI investigator, and half-fae shifter, Raven Crawford, can’t deny she owes the Lord of War a favour. If she defaults on her debt, she relinquishes all her power to a man who doesn’t know the meaning of mercy. And she thought her bank loans were bad.

With her new role in the Underworld contending with her debt to a dictator, a budding romance with the Lord of Shadows, and her need to pay the bills, Raven is in serious need of balance. But the moment the dark fae walked into her diner months ago, she’s been off-balance.

It’s time for Raven to pull up her big girl socks and prove to everyone she’s no longer the burnt-out waitress with a nifty parlour trick.

She’s the Queen of Corvids

My Thoughts:

First off I have to mention that I have not read the first two books of this series! However, it was quite surprising that I was able to grasp most of the context from this book. Of course it did take me a little time to get used to the characters and the setting and the magic!

The book is fast paced and well-written in a no nonsense manner! The story moves quite fast and is quite enjoyable as it is mixed with both action and romance. The main character, Raven, is strong and though there could have been more depth to her character, she is quite interesting. I particularly enjoyed her dynamics with her guard and with the Lord of Shadows. Another particularly interesting part of the story is Raven’s dynamics with her family and friends.

This story follows her journey towards gaining confidence in herself and taking up the mantle of the Queen of Corvids completely. We watch her navigate the meeting halls of the dark fae and even watch as she works to outsmart most of the villains including the Lord of War!

An enjoyable read, this story is gripping and fun in equal measure! I do hope to read more books by this author soon!

Book Review: Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr

About the Book:

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay

Sometimes the happiness we’re looking for has been there all along…

Adele and Justine have never been close. Born twenty years apart, Justine was already an adult when Addie was born. The sisters love each other but they don’t really know each other.

When Addie dropped out of university to care for their ailing parents, Justine, a successful lawyer, covered the expenses. It was the best arrangement at the time but now that their parents are gone, the future has changed dramatically for both women.

Addie had great plans for her life but has been worn down by the pressures of being a caregiver and doesn’t know how to live for herself. And Justine’s success has come at a price. Her marriage is falling apart despite her best efforts.

Neither woman knows how to start life over but both realize they can and must support each other the way only sisters can. Together they find the strength to accept their failures and overcome their challenges. Happiness is within reach, if only they have the courage to fight for it.

Set in the stunning coastal town of Half Moon Bay, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s new novel examines the joys of sisterhood and the importance of embracing change.

My Thoughts:

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay follows the lives of two sisters, born twenty years apart and with a very weak relationship save for the common link that is their parents. Adele dropped out of university to stay home and care for her ailing parents while Justine provided the monetary support. However, tragedy strikes in the form of their parents deaths and then follows a scrambling as the girls try to adjust to their lives without them. Furthermore, Justine also faces a failing marriage and is unsure how to deal with it.

Adele is reserved and keeps to herself. Being younger, she looks for guidance but doesn’t always get it. Justine is more put together, successful and the sole breadwinner of her family, putting her children through school, paying the bills and saving for college funds. Her husband is happy to be the parent at home taking care of the house and children, until he is not.

The story follows the sisters as they navigate a rocky relationship and finally find solace in each other and in family. They learn to change, live a little and take decisions together, bringing them more closer than ever. This is a story of togetherness, family and even forgiveness. As Adele stumbles upon a job that helps her interact more with people, she is inspired to go back to school and complete her degree. She also gains confidence to face her past and try to move forward, even allowing herself a chance at love. Justine on the other hand cuts back on her brutal hours as a corporate lawyer, looking for something more laid back and ending up in her old town. This brings her closer to her daughters, allowing her more time to spend with her children and sister and maybe, even a chance at a new life and new love.

The story is well-written and though it gets a little monotonous, the message is wonderful and heartfelt! This is a wonderful story to read at your leisure and it has all the right elements of a family story filled with love and romance.

Book Review: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

About the Book:

Legendary (Caraval, #2)

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

My Thoughts:

Legendary is the second book in the series and follows the story just after Caraval has finished. In fact, it is wonderful that this story takes up from the next day! The story follows Donatella, the younger sister as she moves forward from one Caraval game to the next. In the first, she was just a prop while her older sister Scarlett had to play to find her. Moving on from this, the two sisters are free and can try to start their lives again, but Tella has a debt to pay. As the magic and adventure unravel, the reader is once again drawn into the depths of a story where nothing is at it seems or maybe, for once, everything is as real as it seems.

Is it just a game or is it reality? These questions plague not only the characters in the book, but also the reader. The journey to discover Caraval Master Legend’s true name is also a journey of bravery, and love. Tella has many choices to make, even though her path seems clear and in the end, she has to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ones that she loves.

Though Legendary is very well-written and a wonderful sequel, it is not as thrilling as the first book. It is a little slower with more focus on the characters and their identities. We meet a lot of new characters as well and are introduced to the sisters’ past, their family and learn many  truths about many of the people! As Scarlett struggles to find her footing between the one she loves and the one she was arranged to be married to, Tella navigates the game of Caraval again trying to find the answers she seeks. The characters are compelling, you’ll love some, you’ll hate some and there are those that fall in between.

The story is definitely worth the read and the hype and is a fitting sequel to the first, clearing up many things and giving the reader much more in the form of love and friendship. The cliffhanger at the end leaves us wanting for more and will definitely force the reader to pick up the third and final book in the series, Finale!