Book Review: Return to Virgin River (Virgin River #19) by Robyn Carr

I received an ARC of the book through NetGalley. The book was released on 13th October 2020.

About the Book:

Robyn Carr returns to the beloved town of Virgin River with a brand new story about fresh starts, new friends and the magic of Christmas.Return to Virgin River (Virgin River, #19)
Struggling with grief after the death of her mother, successful author Kaylee Sloan needs a distraction, to come to terms with life and meet her looming deadline.

With Christmas approaching, Kaylee rents a cabin in Virgin River. She knows the isolation will help her writing and as she drives north through the mountains she immediately feels inspired. Until she arrives at a building that has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local bar is the heart of the town and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a stranger in need.

Welcomed by those in Virgin River, Kaylee starts to see her life in a new light. And as she becomes more involved in the town and the people in it, especially local artist and dog trainer Landry Moore, Kaylee realises she may have found her peace. As Christmas approaches, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to mend a broken heart than Virgin River.

My Thoughts:

Author Robyn Carr takes us back to Virgin River with Kaylee Sloan. For fans of the book/TV series, it is indeed a welcome trip down memory lane! We meet a hoard of characters, some familiar and some not so familiar, but it feels just about right!

The story follows Kaylee Sloan as she decides to move to Virgin River for a few months for a fresh start and some fresh perspective to help with her writing. Dealing with the loss of her mother, she is not just dealing with the loss of a parent, but also her best friend and confidante. This book takes us on a journey of acceptance and togetherness. The people of Virgin River come together to help Kaylee when bad luck strikes just as she reaches the cabin she was renting. It is wonderful to meet many of the characters again and see where they lives are now. A warm welcome, a few kind words and the right kind of support can do wonders to a person grieving and lonely.

What follows is the usual mix of discovery and romance as Kaylee strives to mend, finish her novel and just feel better. The story is well-written and a simple read. The book can be finished in one sitting depending on the reader’s time. A wonderful heart-felt story, this will tug at the reader’s heartstrings and take us on an emotional rollercoaster. Once again Robyn Carr brings us happiness and nostalgia all in one neat package!

Book Review: Two Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey

About the Book:

Two Murders Too Many

Barn burning in a sleepy farming community is a serious enough matter, but a grisly murder or two in a small midwest town is a showstopper. Throw in a serial blackmailer who has his claws in some of the town’s leading citizens and you have one big recipe for disaster.

Charlie Simmons, newly sworn in as Shannon’s policeman, takes on the challenge of investigating this cauldron of crimes in stride, untangling one thread after another from the fabric of the town of Shannon to find the simple truth.

 

My Thoughts:

The story follows Charlie Simmons as he investigates the unexpected spree of crime and murder in a small midwest town. The story is very well written with a myriad of characters each with their own quirks. At first, it is a little difficult to understand where the book is going with every chapter focusing on a new character and how they fit into the fabric of the town. However, once the events start to unfold however, the reader is pulled into the investigation, contemplating who could be behind the murders and the cause of unrest.

I enjoyed reading about Charlie: how he handles the investigation, systematically working his way through the evidence and tackling the residents of the town. Some character introductions seemed quite drawn out to me, but on the whole, the plot flows well and the ambience of the town was very well described. A quiet and simple town where every person knows the other and everyone’s business is common knowledge, it is indeed shocking to have to deal with murders and mysteries.

The ending is definitely a little unexpected and it is quite interesting to watch as Charlie works through each clue one by one to reach a conclusion! The book is well worth the read!

Book Review: Project Hackathon (Coding Supergirls Book 1) by Arushi Aggarwal

I am grateful to Arushi Aggarwal for reaching out to me for a review of her new release. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

Curii is creative. Pia is passionate. Ina is imaginative. Together, they solve real world problems using their programming skills – developing powerful, disruptive, and cutting-edge ideas along the way. Follow these Supergirls who code on their first journey as they navigate the world of hackathons. Can they crack the code? Persistence brings knowledge.

Aggarwal combines education and adventure in her innovative “Coding Supergirls” series. She hopes to inspire the students in STEM she’s supporting by showing the numerous coding related opportunities available. After many parents and students were confused about her own hackathon, Code 4 Cause, she also aims to clarify the event’s important purpose – empowering students in tech.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Connect with the author:

Unknown16.com/codingsupergirls

http://twitter.com/dounknown16

https://www.facebook.com/dounknown16

My Thoughts:

This is a very short and pleasant read detailing the experience of three girls as they attend their first hackathon. Right from trying to understand what it is, to how to prepare for it and finally attending it, we are given all the steps. Arushi undoubtedly draws from her personal experience as the story progresses. I particularly like how she modelled her characters and gave us their descriptions, drawing on different aspects of interests and curiosity.

The story aims to bring about an awareness of coding and the world of opportunities it opens up. Through the hackathon experience, we observe as creativity, art, design, coding skills and a whole other set of skills come together in and idea for an application.

The illustrations in the book compliment some parts of the story and are very well done. Arushi has done a great job in taking us through the steps involved in the hackathon through which our protagonists make news friends, gain confidence in themselves, venture into new areas and learn to think out of the box.

I strongly recommend this book for everyone but mainly middle school children! This book would serve as a source of inspiration!

 

 

Book Review: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

My Thoughts:

The Beautiful has to be one of the most talked about books! I was quite intrigued by the book cover and premise that I had to pick it up! It is a dark and sultry romance with murder, mystery and thrills all thrown into the mix!

At first, it took some time to get into the book and understand the context and setting. We are introduced to Celine, our main protagonist, a very strong-willed woman who keeps her own council and is not afraid to speak up. At first we see her struggling to conform to the rules of the convent where she has been taken in in New Orleans, having fled from Paris. However, she catches the eye of first Odette and then Sèbastien Saint Germain, all part of a group simply known as Le Cour des Lions. Little does she know that she has stepped into a completely different world, shrouded in darkness and surrounded by the dead, quite literally!

A very well written tale, the setting of New Orleans is very well described, especially the streets and nightlife. The characters are intriguing and well developed. At times, I must admit to getting a little annoyed with Celine, but it was not enough to pull me away from the book. As we are introduced to the creatures of the underworld and Celine starts to discover the existence of the paranormal, a series of murders leads to questions of motive and who the real target is. Not to be left out, Celine tries to conduct her own investigation having the feeling that she is indeed a target.

The developing romance between Celine and Sèbastien is both natural and forbidden and is interesting to see develop. The courtship (a suitable word for the time in which the story is set) is not without it’s problems and when murder and mayhem are thrown into the mix, we have all the ingredients for an entertaining story! The story is a roller-coaster of a ride as we navigate the sub-plots and various supporting characters who add such flavor to the story!

Though there were some ups and downs with the story, it is definitely worth the read!

Book Review: Thorne Bay (An Alaskan Packs Novel Book 1) by Jeanine Croft

I downloaded a free auto approved copy of this book via NetGalley.

I picked it up based on the synopsis which seemed quite interesting. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

Thorne Bay (An Alaskan Packs Novel Book 1)

Disillusioned and aimless, Evan Spencer makes a pact with herself. To follow wherever the finger of destiny points. Even if that means heading to some obscure Alaskan town she’s never heard of. A place where the primal beauty of the backwoods is rivaled only by a certain pair of steely green eyes.

But Thorne Bay has a dark side. It’s not just rumors and wary gazes that shadow the darkly alluring Tristan and his reclusive family. Her search for self, as it turns out, leads to a discovery of werewolves and a fight for survival. Alaska might just leave an indelible mark. Love and Death will leave her changed forever.

My Thoughts:

The story follows Evan Spencer as she makes a drastic move to try to follow her destiny and find her place in the world. She moves away from her family to Alaska in the hopes of finding herself and her independence. On the way we meet Tristan who is extremely good-looking, but shrouded in mystery along with his family. Not bothered by rumors, or perhaps eager to discover the truth by herself, Evan forges a friendship with Tristan that seems to be more than that. As their bond develops, we meet some of the people Evan works with and some of the people from Tristan’s family.

The author maintains a level of intrigue around Tristan and drops enough hints without directly giving way to the idea of werewolves. Though the main characters are well developed, some of the supporting characters like Nicole and Dean are just touched upon. It would have been nice to have some more background on them, some insights into their lives before Evan turned up in Alaska and this entire plot line was set in motion. Some horrors of the werewolf world and the laws that govern their existence are brought in and this adds context, but could have been addressed in-depth to add to the storyline.

Some parts of the story are quite normal and expected and the love story that develops between our two main characters is wonderful to read about. I enjoyed the way the author approached the supernatural and the punny banter between Evan and Tristan.

Overall however, I would say that this is definitely an enjoyable and worthwhile read!

Book Review: The Guilty Die Twice: A Legal Thriller by Don Hartshorn

About the Book:

The Guilty Die Twice: A Legal Thriller

Two attorney brothers. Two bullet-riddled corpses. Two sides to the story.

Ten years ago, a capital murder case in the heart of Texas split the Lynch family in two. Now, estranged lawyer brothers Travis and Jake Lynch find themselves on opposing sides of the courtroom in a high-profile, grisly double murder case—with another accused criminal’s life on the line. Conscience-stricken Travis left his high-powered law firm to become a public defender, while bullish Jake rose to become District Attorney. The case pits brother against brother in a contest of wits, wills, and legal savvy that will shake the justice system to its core: both Lynches are convinced they’re in the right, but the truth turns out to be more complicated—and deadly—than either could have possibly imagined.

A drug deal double-cross turns lethal, leaving two corpses and one victim paralyzed for life. The victim never saw the gunman, but he knows one name: Sam Park. Travis defended Sam’s brother years before, and his heart won’t let him turn down the case, even knowing it’ll bring him face-to-face with Jake after ten years of cold silence. Jake, meanwhile, runs afoul of the Austin political machine and needs a high-profile conviction to win a tough upcoming election. And Sam, the star witness and prime suspect, won’t talk—not to Travis, and certainly not to the high-and-mighty DA—and time is running out.

Can these feuding brothers put aside a decade of enmity in the name of true justice? Or will the truth of what really happened that bloody night go to the grave with Sam Park?

My Thoughts:

I was offered a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of the book intrigued me and thus I picked it up to read. The story follows estranged lawyer brother’s Travis and Jake Lynch as they navigate their separate worlds, having parted ways ten years ago. The story is told from each of their perspectives interspersed with flashbacks to the incident from ten years ago.

Though the book’s premise seems to promise an interesting case involving a double murder and the brother’s on opposite ends, the story focuses more and more on their relationship and dynamics. We see very little of the investigation, trial preparation and somewhere along the line, the truth behind the murders is revealed. The main focus is on the brother’s and whether they can put aside their differences to work together and bring about a change.

The story is well-written, the family dynamics are well explained, but the characters are not wholly developed. There always seems to be something lacking in them. There are many elements to the story where the reader is not given a lot of background. Some incidents just happen and we have to accept them without enough explanation as to why they happened in the first place. All this however, is not a major deterrent. Though it takes some effort to get through, the book is definitely worth a one time read.

Book Review: Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? by Smita Bhattacharya

A huge thank you to Smita Bhattacharya, author of the books in the Darya Nandkarni’s Misadventures Series, for reaching out to me and introducing me to her wonderfully eccentric character, Darya.

Read on to know my thoughts on her upcoming novel in the series, to be released in November 2020.

The review is my own honest opinion of the book.

About the Book:

Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? (Darya Nandkarni's Misadventures #3)

Sibiu, Romania. 1947.

A boy’s dead body is discovered in the chimney of an abandoned farmhouse.

Sixty years later, more bodies are discovered in the same place.

Who did it then? Who is doing it now?

Can it be the same killer, or is it another, inspired by the first?

A backpacker is missing. Impressed by Darya’s past exploits, the owner of the missing boy’s hostel tasks Darya to look for him.

After some digging, Darya leads the police to an old farmhouse. They find the backpacker’s two-week-old dead body wedged inside the chimney. Along with two others.

The locals think it is the devil’s work. Darya knows not to trust local superstitions, of which there are many. But the crime is so diabolical, so unique, it begs the question: who could be doing this?

Darya needs to find out urgently before she is forced to leave Sibiu. And as she races to solve the mystery, she has to make sure she doesn’t let new friendships or the town’s insidious secrets get in her way.

The book’s Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Threw-Draco-Chimney-Nandkarnis-Misadventures-ebook/dp/B08FR4JL3J

The book’s Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55024921-who-threw-draco-down-the-chimney

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in the series based on the eccentric character of Darya Nandkarni. Darya is a an accidental and amateur detective who seems to find her way towards mysteries or do they find her? That is a question for the reader to ponder!

Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? is a very well-crafted mystery filled with the right amount of intrigue in a wonderful setting. Smita introduces the reader to the town of Sibiu in Romania. It is easy to imagine the town even without visiting it thanks to the detailed descriptions and precise explanations of the setting, the people, their mannerisms and lives! She paints a wonderful picture that draws the reader in and would even make the reader want to visit and explore this place!

What sets the book apart are the characters. Each one is shrouded in mystery, suspicious, hiding something and anyone could be guilty! I also enjoyed reading about how they band together and support one another. They are also welcoming and make outsiders feel very much as home. At every point, the reader is forced to pause and wonder at the involvement of each character in the death of the backpacker. It is not clear until the very end with an unexpected twist.

I particularly enjoyed how Smita weaves the past and present, narrating the story in two timelines: one in the weeks leading up to the particular incident that kickstarts Darya’s involvement in the investigation; the second in the present day when Darya is explaining the outcome of her investigation and discussing her findings. A lot of research seems to have gone into the plot line which is well represented through this book.

Smita handles the story and characters very well, with detailed descriptions and a steady pace that takes the reader until the very end. The story can be read as a stand-alone one even though there are some minor references to cases that Darya solved previously and to her family.

This is a must read for everyone who enjoys mysteries set in unique places and with wonderful twists and turns!

Book Review: Midnight Sun (The Twilight Saga #5) by Stephenie Meyer

About the Book:

Midnight Sun (Twilight, #5)

It’s here! Number one bestselling author Stephenie Meyer makes a triumphant return to the world of Twilight with this highly-anticipated companion; the iconic love story of Bella and Edward told from the vampire’s point of view.

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.

My Thoughts:

The much awaited Midnight Sun is here! Being a fan of the Twilight book series, I was quite interested in reading this book. The chance to get a glimpse into Edward’s complex mind and learn about his background and life was too good to pass up.

The book was a pleasant surprise. It sticks to the same story line as Twilight, but we get a complete view of the events that happened prior to Bella arriving in Forks, as well as those that happened after. Edward’s story and his thoughts are intriguing, considering that he thinks of so many things at a time. However, at times, his thoughts get repetitive and this gets a little bit annoying. A lot of the story is written in the style of an internal monologue with dialogue’s thrown in where necessary.

Even though we know the story, the different view point adds a lot of value to the original one, giving us insights into what happened in the background and how the characters ended up where they are. We come to know how the Cullen family found each other and their ideas, emotions, thoughts from Edward’s point of view, as he effortlessly uses his gift. As always, Stephanie Meyer brings to us a well-written novel and takes us back to interact with our favorite characters.

Overall, this story is a good read for fans of the series. Those who have not read the series, you can read this as a standalone, but it would be better to read Twilight first.

Book Review: Lucy’s Last Chance by Elle Sweet

About the Book:

Lucy was a high-powered attorney who had a nervous breakdown after her husband left her. Broken, she came to the town of Moonshire Bay to start over as a yoga instructor; determined to find inner peace in all things this time around.

Brant is running for Mayor and running after Lucy, but she is scared of his drive and need for success.

Can Lucy realize she’s stronger than she thinks and take a chance on love?

My Thoughts:

Lucy’s Last Chance is a very sweet and simple story that follows Lucy, a yoga instructor at Moonshire Bay. Lucy has moved away from the big city and her career as a high-powered attorney. Additionally, she is in the midst of a divorce and hence the need to get away and start over. As she settles into her new life in this town, she is loved by everyone. Her classes are fun and well received.

As the story progresses, we are introduced to Brant. Brant is running for mayor and shows a great deal of interest in Lucy. As time passes, Lucy starts to consider the possibility of a relationship with Brant. The story then follows the two as they start to tread the waters of a budding relationship. The author keeps the story and the pace simple and straightforward. However, even though some parts of the story may become predictable, the reader is sure to enjoy this book!

I definitely enjoyed reading about Lucy and how she learns to trust again, how she learns to forgive and move on. Her strength and tenacity are inspiring.

A huge thank you to Damppebbles book blog for organizing this promotional tour and for giving me a chance to be a part of it.

Book Review: Summer at Hope Haven (Dune Island #1) by Kristin Harper

I received a copy of the book via NetGalley and Bookouture. Read on to know my thoughts on the book.

About the Book:

Summer at Hope Haven (Dune Island #1)

Making her way up the cedar-lined driveway, tears fill her eyes at the sight of the cottage’s faded trim and peeling turquoise shutters. Taking a deep breath, she grasps the heart-shaped iron door handle and steps inside the once-happy childhood home she’s been avoiding. It is time to face up to the past…

When Emily’s fiancé walks out on her while she’s still grieving the loss of her family in a terrible accident, she escapes back to Hope Haven on the remote Dune Island, where her family vacationed every summer. Emily hopes that fixing up the house will also mend her broken heart, but the cottage holds more than just bittersweet childhood memories. Emptying her father’s antique writing desk, Emily finds a letter that reveals a devastating secret about her parents.

With a head full of questions that can never be answered, it seems like returning to the island was the worst decision Emily ever made… until she meets Lucas Socorro, saltwater dripping from his dark curls after a surf session. As they take long walks on the soft sand, and talk late into the firefly-lit night, Emily wonders if Dr Luke—as the kids in the hospital call him—could be the one to help her heal. With Luke holding her hand, delving into her family’s painful past is a little easier.

Painting the gloomy cottage walls the colour of seashells, and revamping her grandmother’s flea-market furniture, Emily starts to feel she might call Dune Island home for good—and that she could build that home right here with Luke. But when Emily’s family secret spreads through a network of local gossips, her fragile heart breaks all over again. Luke is the only one who could have started the rumours. Was she wrong to trust him so easily?

As the sun sets behind the dunes, Emily has a difficult decision to make. Does she pack her bags and leave the island for good? Or take a risk that Hope Haven has everything she’s been looking for?

A beautiful and emotional read that will make you long to feel the sand beneath your feet. Perfect for fans of Nancy Thayer, Tracy Brogan and Mary Alice Monroe.

My Thoughts:

The book introduces us to Emily, the main protagonist dealing with the loss of her family in a terrible accident and a broken engagement. To get away, Emily comes down to Hope Haven, to stay at the house her family vacationed at every summer. Surrounded by many memories and in the midst of discovering new secrets about her parents, Emily is once again shattered as she struggles to reconcile the knowledge she has of her parents and the new information she finds. In the midst of all this, she leans on her bonds with her childhood friend and his wife while trying to forge new with Lucas Socorro, a doctor at the hospital and the people at Dune Island.

As the story progresses, the reader is thrown into the midst of Emily’s emotional turmoil as she struggles to cope. The story is well-written and is filled with some very well crafted characters. They are endearing and relatable and fun to read about. The setting is beautiful and while our characters take long strolls along the beach, it is easy for the reader to imagine themselves doing the same thing.

The story is quite enjoyable and as Emily becomes stronger and accepts her life, the secrets, the people at Dune Island, she also starts to consider opening herself up to love. This is a great read for all the romance fans out there!