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!

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: Until Someday by E.S. Ready

About the Book:

Until Someday

The year is 1927 and professional boxer Emmett Roane is losing his grip on reality. His career is faltering, memories of a lost love haunt him and the horrors of the Great War muddle his mind. Emmett’s past is hobbling his future, and no amount of booze or knockout blows can ease his painful memories. Seeking solace in the place where he and his Anna had once been so happy, Emmett leaves Brooklyn for a few days alone in Newport at the gilded waterfront Hermann Hotel. During a fateful weekend as he tries to make peace with his ghosts, Emmett crosses paths with Maude Mable, a lively beauty with secrets of her own. But they soon learn the luxury hotel also hosts Luther Irvin, an opium-addicted mobster who is as violent as he is desperate. When Emmett and Maude discover Luther’s hideous plan to wage war on a rival gang, the pair is thrust into a deadly match of wits and force. His back against the ropes, Emmett finds his quest for self-restoration has become a mission of survival-for him, Maude and everyone at the Hermann. Can Emmett Roane, a fighter who desperately seeks an elusive peace, halt the embodiment of evil while finding a way to heal his own heart and mind?

My Thoughts:

E.S. Ready has given us a good novel set in the year 1927, when mobsters tended to make the rules. The protagonist Emmett Roane, a professional boxer is seen fighting not just people but also his own demons. Haunted by the death of his love, Anna, he is seen talking to her a lot. These situations feature direct conversations which make us believe that Emmett is actually talking to Anna and in a way I assume he is. As he struggles to move past her death, while trying to divert his mind with alcohol, he goes to Newport for a few days to take a break. As fate has it, we are introduced to Maude, a sassy, forward lady who singles Emmett out and spends time with him.

In a slightly cliche manner, a romance develops between the two. However, the author does throw in some twists when we find out that a mobster, out for revenge is also staying at the same hotel. Pulled into the same plot, Emmett and Maude are forced to face their fears and help save innocent lives. Emmett, having fought in the Great War, and partly haunted by the horrors of then, but well trained is seen wielding the various guns that the mobster and his goons have.

The story is fast paced and set over a weekend. The plot flows well in-spite of some of the cliches and it makes for a good read. There is a good amount of action thrown in and each persons desires and fears are brought out. The plot features characters filled with hatred, lusting for revenge and death while others that want to move forward from their pasts and have a better life. As one can conclude, our protagonist cannot go somewhere and expect a quiet time! Trouble does seem to follow him around even if he isn’t trying to seek it out.

The characters of the story are well developed and the story comes to life withe the author’s vivid descriptions of the scenes, especially the ones that involve fighting. Everything is described as though under scrutiny of a microscope and each part is broken down to the very last bit. A good read, the author seems to have depicted the time in which the story is set pretty well. He paints a strong and vivid picture.

Until Someday, the title of the book resonates in the pages towards the end when Emmett makes peace with Anna’s death and promises her, in his mind that they will meet again, someday! A worthy read!

Memories – A Poem

Thinking back to your school or college days, I assume most of you can relate to this. Dedicated to all those people we hung around with and made some wonderful memories!

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Looking back at times long gone,
I reminisce,
Thinking about the fun we had,
All the times that we sat,
Lounging in class,
Or in the ground,
Chattering away with anyone,
And everyone who lent an ear,
All for one and one for all,
We stood together mighty strong,
The bonds of friendship that we formed,
Are interwoven into our lives,
Never to break forever more,
All the memories come gushing back
Of the fun that we had,
The times we spent together,
Will remain special forever!!