Book Review: Fable by Adrienne Young

About the Book:

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Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely adored this book and couldn’t put it down once I started reading it! Fable is one of the most talked about books this year and I must admit to being quite intrigued by it. So many people were reading it and talking about it and I finally decided that I had to know why. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked the book and the plot and the characters.

Fable is strong willed and with a unique set of skills that sets her apart. We follow her as she tries to navigate the island where her father left her after her mother died and their ship sank. No-one knows who she really is and she has made a promise to keep it that way. As she works for a chance to get off the island, we are given a glimpse into her life and the world around her.

With a plan to get off the island and reach her father’s place, Fable enlists the help of West and by extension his crew on the ship. This leads to a fast paced adventure filled with secrets, villains, dangers of the sea, trust issues and eventually fast friendships that mean more than anything. I would also like to mention the budding romance that adds more flavor to the plot making it worth reading.

All the characters have their own story to tell and their own agenda, but when brought together, it feels as though the story is complete. The author has a wonderful way with words painting a picture of the seas and islands that the characters visit. It is also easy to imagine the scenes as they unfold and this is the kind of story telling that reminds me of reading Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings all over again. The story is rich in detail and brings to us a new plot and world that any reader would be pulled into.

I was invested in the book and highly recommend it for all fans of fantasy fiction out there! This is worth it! I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the second book too!

Book Review: Ivy League Liars by Grace Costello

About the Book:

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Teddy Jones is a one-upper. We grew up across the street from each other, always competing. When I got into Brown, he got into Harvard. When I dropped out early, he went on to law school. And when I ended up in a string of bad relationships, he started dating my old high school bully.

Now we’re all grown up and my sister’s getting married. Strangely enough, Teddy and Anika never dated, and now she’s marrying the perfect man and has insisted Teddy and I share the maid-of-honor duties. I’d rather stick a fork in my eye, but here we are.

So when Teddy challenges me on bringing a suitable date to Anika’s wedding, I decide it’s my turn to be the one-upper. My date is a sexy, rich, successful Yale alumni. We met on Legacy, the exclusive dating app for Ivy Leaguers, and now we’re madly in love. And he’d be perfect, if he actually existed.

That’s right, I made the guy up! Now I have to download the app and find this man before Teddy catches me in a lie.

My Thoughts:

Ivy League Liars is a fun-filled light and quick romance read that is based on the enemies to lovers trope. Emme is forced to share maid-of-honor duties for her sister’s wedding with Teddy. Everyone always thought that there was something between Teddy and Emme’s sister, but they are just best friends. Emme and Teddy have always tried to one up the other, always at opposite ends. They try to get along for Anika’s sake, but everyone can see that it is futile (or maybe not :D)

The story follows them as Emme finds a fake boyfriend from a dating app exclusive for Ivy Leaguers and tries to show everyone a side of her life that does not exist. What follows forms the crux of the plot as things start to unravel. Tell one lie and it can be managed but continue building on it and this leads to a whole bunch of lies whose story is difficult to sustain.

This is a fun read that has just the right amount of humor and romance that readers will enjoy. I also enjoyed the banter between the characters and how the author brought out their feelings in different situations. Though I was not able to fully connect with all the characters and some situations felt a little too unreal, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it to all fans of romance!

Book Review: Granted by Kendra Thomas

About the Book:

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Sabeara Aigoviel, princess of Aveladon, wants nothing more than for her heart to glow. The Stone-Hearted power that is received at the age of eighteen is her ultimate wish. With a grim curse looming over the realm and a neighboring kingdoms conspiring plans, contentions arise. Moments of danger summon evil forces, sending Sabeara into a whirlwind of adventure, captivity, and even love.
Rescued by a handsome stranger in a brown cloak, they navigate the kingdoms to bring her safely home. When her rescuer arrives betrothed to her beloved older sister weeks later, it is all she can do to erase their memories. Will Sabeara be able to defeat the curse on the Stone-Hearted race? And will she be able to forget the memories of her epic ventures with her cloaked rescuer?

Book Review:

Granted is Book 1 in a refreshing new tale that follows Sabeara, princess of Aveladon as she navigates her life in the Kingdom and outside it. A rebel at heart and wanting nothing more than to be Stone-Hearted, Sabeara has a restless need to escape and do more than what she does inside the Castle. She wants to restore peace to the Kingdom. Her father, the King is barely there, dealing with the grief of her mother’s death and a lot of the decisions to take fall on her older sister Jasper.

I love how the sisters have a very strong bond and are supportive of each other. In this first book, we follow Sabeara’s journey as she gets kidnapped by Obscurum soldiers and is then rescued by a very handsome stranger, Mid. As they navigate their way back to Aveladon, we follow along on an adventure filled with obstacles, new friends, new enemies and a budding romance, the reader is in for a treat! Little do they know that there would be further obstacles to their romance and secrets that reveal who they are which changes a lot of things the readers initially thought they knew.

I liked the concept of the Stone-Hearted, having different kinds of powers, reading about a supposed curse and how to end it. The author has brought to us a whole new fantasy world that is well thought out. The story is rich in descriptions and character building with likeable characters who add a lot of new dimensions to the plot.

I loved this book and am definitely looking forward to reading more of this series! This is definitely worth the read!

Book Review: When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen

About the Book:

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Two sisters who haven’t spoken for twenty years. One summer to bring a family back together.

Jayne Winters hasn’t seen her sister Charlotte since that last childhood holiday at their grandmother’s North Carolina beach house. Separated after that summer by their parents in a bitter divorce, Charlotte has never forgiven Jayne for not fighting to stay together.

So when Jayne discovers that they have both inherited the beach house, and that their grandmother’s last wish was for them to renovate it together, it feels like a miracle: one last chance to win her sister back.

At first Charlotte will barely speak to her. But slowly the memories of swimming races and storytelling in their attic bedroom looking over the sea start to break down the wall between them. With the help of photographs and letters left by their grandmother for them to find, the two women begin to restore not just the creaking mahogany staircase and the faded antique wallpaper, but their own relationship.

But then Jayne discovers that Charlotte has kept a heart-stopping secret from their past from her. Can she find it in her heart to forgive her sister and keep their grandmother’s dream of reuniting them alive—or are some wounds too big to heal?

An emotional and uplifting read about sisters, secrets and the family bonds that hold us together no matter how complicated they are, from the bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper. Fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe will love this.

My Thoughts:

When We Were Sisters is a heart-warming story that follows sisters Jayne and Charlotte as they come together to honor their Grandmother’s last wishes. As per her will, the sisters have to stay together at their grandmother’s house and work on it’s renovations. Separated from each other as a result of their parents divorce, the sisters have a lot to work through, if they give each other a chance.

I loved how this book takes you on a roller coaster of emotions with a strong focus on the bond between the sisters. The love for a sibling is one of the most basic and the author captures the yearning to connect and be a family, very well. At first reluctant, the sisters are forced to confront their feelings and try to talk to one another. As the story progresses, the reader will find out more and more about their past, the circumstances behind their parents decisions and some hidden truths which have the strength to break a person.

In the midst of all this, we see stability in Charlotte’s life, not without it’s own problems but those which  can be worked out together. Jayne deals with the beginnings of a new romance as well as the chance to finally connect with her sister and her family. As their lives mix, Jayne tries to form bonds with her nephews and bring back some light into her sister’s eyes reminiscent of their childhood.

This is a story of love, loss, summer fun and a second chance at a relationship that could help to heal old wounds and even some new ones. Secrets are never good and they have the power to destroy everything. However, I think that the strength of the characters and perseverance bring this story together with a conclusion that is tearful and full of joy. I definitely recommend this book that is filled with all kinds of emotions and is beautifully written until the end!

Release Promotion: A Small Hotel by Suanne Laqueur

A Small Hotel

A new novel from Suanne Laqueur, author of the Fish Tales Series

Release Date: September 28, 2021

SYNOPSIS

It’s the summer of 1941. Europe is at war, but New York’s Thousand Islands are at the height of the tourist season. Kennet Fiskare, son of a hotel proprietor, is having the summer of a lifetime, having fallen deeply in love with a Swedish-Brazilian guest named Astrid Virtanen. But the affair is cut short and the young lovers permanently parted, first by Astrid’s family obligations, then by America’s entry into the war.

The rigors of military life help dull his heartache, but when Kennet’s battalion reaches France, he is thrown into the crucible of front line combat. As his unit crosses Europe, from the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, Kennet falls into a different kind of love: the intense camaraderie between soldiers. It’s a bond fierce yet fragile, vital yet expendable, here today and gone tomorrow. Sustained by his friendships, Kennet both witnesses and commits the unthinkable atrocities of warfare, altering his view of the world and himself. To the point where a second chance with Astrid in peacetime might be the most terrifying and consequential battle he’s ever fought.

With her signature blend of soul-stirring prose and emotional complexity, Laqueur takes readers on a journey through events that shape an American family’s weakest moments and finest hours. A Small Hotel illuminates the experience of ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances, and their once-in-a-generation camaraderie, courage and resiliency. It’s a novel for the world, a heartbreaking, uplifting story of family, love and human endurance.


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suanne-laqueur

A former professional dancer and teacher, Suanne Laqueur went from choreographing music to choreographing words, writing stories that appeal to the passions of all readers, crossing gender, age and genre. As a devoted mental health advocate, her novels focus both romantic and familial relationships, as well as psychology, PTSD and generational trauma.

Suanne Laqueur’s An Exaltation of Larks won the Grand Prize in the 2017 Writer’s Digest Book Awards. Her debut novel The Man I Love and its follow-up, Give Me Your Answer True, won gold medals in the 2015 and 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Both were finalists in the 2015 and 2016 Kindle Book Awards, and Laqueur was named a gold medal Debut Author with Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Laqueur graduated from Alfred University with a double major in dance and theater, and taught at the Carol Bierman School of Ballet Arts in Croton-on-Hudson for ten years. An avid reader, cook and gardener, she started her blog EatsReadsThinks in 2010. She lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and two children. Visit her at http://suannelaqueurwrites.com. All feels welcome. And she always has coffee.

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Book Review: A Letter to Three Witches by Elizabeth Bass

About the Book:

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From acclaimed author Elizabeth Bass, an bubbly, quirky paranormal rom-com set in the sleepy college town of college town of Zenobia, New York, a place where witches have been banned from practicing their magic…until romance problems among the great-granddaughters of the witch whose destructive spells invoked the edict cause their long-suppressed inner witches to go berserk…

In the sleepy college town of Zenobia, New York, the only supernatural trace on display is the name of Gwen Engel’s business—Abracadabra Odd Job Service. But Gwen’s family has some unusual abilities they’ve been keeping under wraps—until one little letter spells big trouble…

Nearly a century ago, Gwen Engel’s great-great-grandfather cast a spell with catastrophic side-effects. As a result, the Grand Council of Witches forbade his descendants from practicing witchcraft. The Council even planted anonymous snitches called Watchers in the community to report any errant spellcasting…

Yet magic may still be alive and not so well in Zenobia. Gwen and her cousins, Trudy and Milo, receive a letter from Gwen’s adopted sister, Tannith, informing them that she’s bewitched one of their partners and will run away with him at the end of the week. While Gwen frets about whether to trust her scientist boyfriend, currently out of town on a beetle-studying trip, she’s worried that local grad student Jeremy is secretly a Watcher doing his own research.

Cousin Trudy is so stressed that she accidentally enchants her cupcakes, creating havoc among her bakery customers—and in her marriage. Perhaps it’s time the family took back control and figured out how to harness their powers. How else can Gwen decide whether her growing feelings for Jeremy are real—or the result of too many of Trudy’s cupcakes?…

My Thoughts:

A Letter to Three Witches starts of with just that. A letter arrives at each of the three cousins’ houses, Gwen, Trudy and Milo. The letter is from Gwen’s adopted sister talking about her leaving and maybe taking one of their partners along. This message turns the three lives in disarray.

The story then follows the three cousins as they try to investigate and find out the truth behind Tannith’s words. The main secret they are keeping, they are witches but are not allowed to practice. The author gives us enough of the history to understand what happened in the family and how it has impacted the current generation. The story is simple and fun at times. There is unexpected magic, turning humans into animals and vice versa and a lot of bonding between family members. Secrets are found out and new relationships are forged in this fun rom-com style book.

I did find it a little difficult to connect with the characters and was not as invested in their lives as I would have liked to have been. I did however enjoy the story and how the cousins finally take back control of their lives and love. Some parts of the story seemed rushed but on the whole I think it was an enjoyable one time read! The writing is quirky and gives us a lot of happy vibes.

I would definitely recommend this for those who would like a light read with some fun, magic, love and family all in one.

Book Review: Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café by Jessica Redland

About the Book:

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Welcome to The Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.

Two broken hearts.

Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café…

An unexpected meeting.

Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down…

The chance to love again.

Can Hollie and Jake break down the barriers that have been holding them back from finding love and happiness, before Christmas comes around? After all, with courage, nothing is impossible…

Join top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a magical winter at the seaside, where love blossoms and lifelong friendships are made.

My Thoughts:

A huge thank you to Boldwood Books, netgalley and the author for giving me this opportunity to read this book. The review is my own honest opinion.

Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café is a delightful read full of heartbreak, family, friendship and the promise of love.

The story follows Hollie as she deals with running the Café that her mother owned and the loss of her parents and brother. Christmas is always the worst time of year for her and the story follows her journey as she navigates it this particular year! We also meet Jake, a lovely person who has seen tragedy and faced a lot of bullying in his childhood. It’s thanks to the love and understanding shown by his grandmother that he grows into the wonderful human being that he is. I instantly fell in love with Hollie and Jake individually the moment I met them in the book.

The story follows these two people are they find each other by chance thanks to a small fluffy dog who brings about tremendous changes in their lives. He not only forges a bond between them, he helps bridge the gap and acts as a catalyst to the breaking down of multiple walls. I truly think that the dog is the true hero of this story!

The author has done a wonderful job with the setting and the characters. The place is described really well and to me it felt magical. There is something welcoming about a café by the sea and the warmth of family and familiarity. As for the others, I loved Angie and her daughter Katie. They brought light to the book and stability to Hollie as an extended and accepted family. 

Be prepared to deal with a rollercoaster of emotions as the characters’ pasts are revealed and as they start to deal with loss and move towards acceptance. Overall this is a lovely book about two people who find their way back to being themselves and in the process find lasting love. 

Book Review: An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse

About the Book:

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From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a tale of love, loss—and one last extraordinary dance.

Christmas Eve, 2019. Ninety-four-year-old Molly lies in her hospital bed. A stroke and a fall may have broken her body—but her mind is alive with memories.

London, 1940s. Molly is a bright young woman, determined to help the war effort and keep her head up despite it all. Life becomes brighter when she meets and falls in love with a man who makes her forget everything with one dance. But then war forces her to make an unforgettable sacrifice, and when she’s brought to her knees by a daring undercover mission with the French Resistance, only her sister knows the secret weighing heavily on Molly’s heart.

Now, lying in her hospital bed, Molly can’t escape the memories of what she lost all those years ago. But she is not as alone as she thinks.

Will she be able to find peace—and finally understand that what seemed to be an ordinary life was anything but?

My Thoughts:

Amanda Prowse brings to us yet another powerful story of first love, loss, war and the endurance of a woman through all of this. This is a story that brings out all the emotions and one of the few books that made me shed a few tears.

Molly’s story starts off in the 1940s in London and goes on until 2019, as she lies in the hospital thinking back to her life. We follow her as she experiences her first love, the loss of her love, her efforts to contribute to the war effort, her experiences with different people and in the midst of the war. In all this, she gives birth to a wonderful baby boy, born out of wedlock and shunned by her mother. With no other choice, Molly requests her sister and brother-in-law to care for her baby while she earns enough money to support herself.

As time passes, Molly becomes a wonderful aunt to her son, who never learns of the truth, but loves her as much as any child could love a mother. Carrying the weight of her decisions, the separation from her son and the horrors of the war, Molly, a very very strong woman faces a life filled with so many secrets. She perseveres on, working for a living whether it is playing her part in the war efforts or supporting herself after the war ends.

The bond Molly shares with her sister is a strong one and something that is great to read about. The strength, support and even jealousy all come together showing us a glimpse into each of their thoughts and in the end how they are there for each other. This is a wonderful example of what family is all about and the bonds that siblings share. The author brings to us the irony of the whole situation under the guise of the character having lived “an ordinary life”!

Amanda Prowse’s writing is powerful and will draw the reader in from page one. There is no stopping until the reader gets to the bottom of it all, finds out all the secrets and how the story ends. This book will stay with me for a long time and I highly recommend it to all fiction lovers out there. The book cannot be put into any one genre, it encompasses so many and in the end is just worth it!

Book Review: The Christmas House by Victoria James

About the Book:

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Victoria James is back with a heartwarming story about three generations of women trying to reconcile for the holidays.

It’s Christmas in the small town of Silver Springs which is bursting with holiday spirit. The downtown shops boast twinkling lights, and the town square features an enormous Christmas tree. Every Christmas Eve for the past fifty years, Ruby Harris, the owner of the historic B&B, The Christmas House, has opened her doors to strangers in need, showing them the compassion once denied to her.

When Ruby invites her family home for the holidays, including her two adult grandchildren, Charlotte and Olivia, she hopes they will be able to put the past behind them. However, her plans for reconciliation implode as the women unravel secrets from the past that force them to confront the impact they’ve had on their dysfunctional family. As Charlotte grows closer to Wyatt, the neighbor next door and a friend from the past, old memories resurface that the women would rather forget. they’re reminded of a man they want to forget.

As the clock inches closer to the New Year, can the magic of the season bring the family closer? Or will a surprise guest threaten their tentative truce and test newly formed bonds?

This light-hearted Christmas tale draws inspiration from Victoria James’s own historical fixer-upper, offering plenty of warmth and holiday cheer.

My Thoughts:

The Christmas House is a lovely story of a dysfunctional family, with a whole lot of secrets who come together for Christmas. This is a story of second chances, unraveling the truth and finding your peace with the past. 

The reader is introduced to Ruby, the current owner of The Christmas House and the matriarch of the family. We are told her story as flashbacks interspersed with Charlotte’s story. Charlotte and her younger sister Olivia have dealt with their father leaving (without any explanation), being left at their grandmother’s doorstep and hardly any contact with their mother. The characters are wonderful and each one has a story to tell that we discover as the story progresses.

Charlotte has grown up resenting her parents and confused about everything that has happened. In addition, she feels the loss of the one friend she has in Wyatt when he suddenly disappears from school. In the present, she turns up at her grandmother’s place only to discover that Wyatt lives here with his teenage daughter. As sparks fly, old emotions and memories surface and Charlotte has to confront her feelings. Additionally, she has to deal with the recent fallout with her younger sister and try to find middle ground to reconcile.

With everyone’s emotions running high, there are so many decisions to be taken and chances to be considered. It is not everyday that one gets to rekindle an old love which could just be the one. The story is a roller-coaster of emotions and it will make you laugh, cry and eventually be happy. New bonds are formed, old ones are renewed and a family comes together for Christmas in the hopes of reconciliation. This is definitely worth a read especially for those who believe in second chances and strong family bonds and it is happening at The Christmas House!

Book Review: The Girl from Venice by Siobhan Daiko

About the Book:

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Lidia De Angelis has kept a low profile since Mussolini’s racial laws wrenched her from her childhood sweetheart. But when the Germans occupy Venice in 1943, she must flee the city to save her life.

Lidia joins the partisans in the Venetian mountains, where she meets David, an English soldier fighting for the same cause. As she grows closer to him, harsh Nazi reprisals and Lidia’s own ardent anti-fascist activities threaten to tear them apart.

Decades later in London, while sorting through her grandmother’s belongings after her death, Charlotte discovers a Jewish prayer book, unopened letters written in Italian, and a fading photograph of a group of young people in front of the Doge’s Palace.

Intrigued by her grandmother’s refusal to talk about her life in Italy before and during the war, Charlotte travels to Venice in search of her roots. There, she learns not only the devastating truth about her grandmother’s past, but also some surprising truths about herself.

A heart-breaking page-turner, based on actual events in Italy during World War II.

My Thoughts:

This is a riveting read that takes the reader into Italy during World War II. This is the first book in the historical fiction genre that I have read that focuses on Italy and the events that unfolded here. The book talks about the war, the people, the impact it had on their lives and the secrets kept to move on in life.

We are introduced to Lidia and her granddaughter Charlotte, two strong and unique women, so different and yet similar in all the ways that matter. When Lidia passes away, Charlotte embarks on a trip to figure out who her grandmother was and what secrets she was hiding while living in London.

The story is told from each of their perspectives, giving us an insight into the present day world as Charlotte explores Italy and the events in Lidia’s life as she is careful not to be caught, but is helping out the partisans. Betrayed by some of the people she trusted and forced to endure a lot, Lidia shuts down after the war and moves away, adapting her new identity and never going back to her roots. Charlotte discovers a whole lot of things and along the way meets the people who saved her grandmother and made a difference to her life. She also ends up finding her place, love and a purpose so different than what she started out with.

This is a heart-breaking story that brings to us a reality we cannot imagine and talks about family in a way that makes us appreciate those around us. Lidia’s story enumerates that of so many others whose voices are not heard! A brilliant and well-written story, this is a must read!