Book Review: Going Greek by Sue Roberts

About the Book:

Sun, sea and a sizzling romance… the perfect holiday, right? Wrong.

After a work party gone disastrously wrong, Samantha suddenly finds herself jobless and jilted. So when her sister invites Sam to stay at her little whitewashed farmhouse on a Greek island, Sam leaps at the chance to escape. Before long, she’s trundling up the cobbled driveway, almost colliding with sexy neighbour Spyros.

It isn’t all sunshine and smiles though. For every afternoon spent lounging by the pool, cocktail in hand, there is a morning spent adjusting to life with boisterous six-year-old nieces. When Spyros invites Sam to explore the island with him she’s tempted, but with his carefree, live-for-the-moment attitude, he couldn’t be more different to Sam with her five-year plans and high-maintenance hair. One drink, as friends, couldn’t hurt though? Over glasses of fruity Greek wine and honey-sweet baklava, can he – and the other charming locals – help city girl Sam to appreciate the simple pleasures the Greek life has to offer?

Just as Sam is considering ditching her designer gear for good though, she runs in to an old flame from home, and suddenly her London life comes hurtling back. Can her smooth-talking ex convince Sam to return to the concrete jungle, or will the lessons she’s learned from her Greek escape persuade her to stay?

A fun, fabulous and completely laugh-out-loud summer read perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Jenny Colgan and Sophie Kinsella.

My Thoughts:

Going Greek (the new title of the book) is a totally apt name for this book. The story follows Sam as she visits her sister and family in Greece while trying to take some time off due to a scandal. Being a prominent TV presenter, everything she does and says brings her under public scrutiny. We follows as Sam spends time with her family, explores a part of Greece and sets out on a path towards love. The characters are wonderful and the highlight of this book are definitely Sam’s nieces! They steal the spotlight with their innocent yet naughty ways! They are an absolute delight!

The author does a wonderful job in bringing the place to life, giving the reader a glimpse into the beauty and tranquility of the place. In addition, we are exposed to some of the culture and food which is a wonderful experience for a reader. With an ex-boyfriend and a potential new boyfriend thrown into the mix, be prepared for a light hearted drama filled ride!

This is a perfect summer read that will help the reader to escape to an exotic place. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and finished the book in one sitting. A huge thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book!

Book Review: The Girl I Used to Be by Heidi Hostetter

Synopsis:

In her years of acting the perfect wife to Marc, Jill had built walls around herself so high that nobody could reach her. Now she has no money, nowhere to live and a future as uncertain as it was the day Marc first asked her—the shy, trusting new assistant—to lunch. Jill hadn’t known then what sort of man he really was…

When Jill Goodman’s picture-perfect marriage implodes, she’s heartbroken. Still reeling from the shock, the only thing she receives in the hasty divorce settlement is the deed to her husband’s sprawling beach house on the New Jersey shore. Overpriced, with a dark history and a crippling mortgage far outside her means to pay—the house is a symbol of everything Jill’s lost. She hates the sight of it, but knows she must face it if she’s to move on.

With no other choice, Jill travels to Dewberry Beach intending to sell the house quickly—but the task is not as easy as she expects. Still, she can’t help but be charmed by the little town’s leafy streets, sweetly old-fashioned ways and even the unexpected attentions of a handsome local with dark eyes and a teasing smile. For the first time, she can see a path back to the girl she was before she met her husband…

Then Jill dives deeper into the house’s dark past and Marc’s part in it, and she stumbles across a terrible secret that changes everything. Torn between the right choice and the easy one, Jill realizes the key lies with her ex-husband. But he would do anything to keep the truth from coming to light…

An emotionally gripping read that will keep you turning the pages late into the night, perfect for fans of Amanda Prowse, Elin Hilderbrand and Diane Chamberlain.

Purchase links:

Amazon: https://bit.ly/3aWKrUe 

Apple: http://apple.co/2NbAdqV 

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ZjYuy1 

Google: http://bit.ly/3b9TSjx

Author bio:

Heidi Hostetter is a proud Jersey Girl, born and raised. Growing up, she spent summers at her grandparents’ house on the shore, in a town much like the one she writes about in her novels, and it was idyllic. The New Jersey shore has a culture all its own, where every magical thing can be found: sparklers on the beach, fireflies at night, and whole days swimming in the ocean. 

She went to college in South Carolina and found inspiration for her Lowcountry Novels. After graduation, she moved to the Pacific Northwest where she developed an appreciate the rain. Trips to the Oregon coast inspired her award-winning Inlet Beach novels. She and her family have recently moved back across the country, to the DC-area, where history is everywhere. They live in a one-hundred-year-old house that’s definitely haunted and feels like inspiration for a really good story.

When she’s not writing, you can probably find her digging in her garden or poking around old houses for inspiration. She loves the beach, a good podcast, and is always up for a trip to a bookstore, no matter how far away.

Heidi is currently at work on her new novel. She shares office space with a labradoodle named Emmett who keeps are careful watch for errant squirrels foolish enough to wander into his yard. She loves to hear from readers and answers all her own mail. You can find her here:

Author Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHeidiHostetter/

Facebook Reading Group: facebook.com/groups/636728933179573

Goodreads: Goodreads.com/HeidiHostetter

Instagram @LoveTheShore_

Twitter: @HeidiHostetter

Website: HeidiHostetter.com

My Thoughts:

This review is a part of the Book Release Blog Tour by Bookouture.

The Girl I Used to be is the first book by the author that I have read and I must admit that I am absolutely blown away! At first while reading the book, the first few chapters made me form certain assumptions about how the story would progress. When we reach midway through the book, the author throws out everything with a few twists forcing the reader to rethink their assumptions! This was amazing!

The story follows Jill who we think is happily married to Marc, almost twenty years her senior. She changed her life, her style and everything for him until one day when everything shatters. From there on, we see the strength and resolve Jill has as she deals with a divorce and mortgage on a house she demanded for in a calculated move. However, going to Dewberry Beach is perhaps the best thing she does. With the intention to sell the house as soon as possible, she immerses herself in the town and falls in love with it. Once she hears what people think of the house and she realizes what Marc did to obtain the land, she sets out to try and make things right. In addition, she gets a chance to explore her passion for photography.

This is a story of rebuilding and of finding oneself. It is a story of strength and determination as well as community who come together. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the characters and their lives which the author has brought out very well. The description of the beach and it’s view from the house, the lives of people there is amazing and will make the reader want to visit the place!

This is a wonderful summer beach read that can be finished in one sitting. It is an emotional rollercoaster with some kind of a happy ending that will ensure the reader falls in love with the book and the places!

Book Review: The Little Orchard on the Lane by Tilly Tennant

About the Book:

Feel the sun on your face on a Somerset terrace overlooking golden fields and wild meadowland, and watch as romance beckons and long-hidden secrets are revealed…

When twenty-seven-year-old Posy arrives at picture-perfect Oleander House in the Somerset village of Astercombe, she is enchanted. Adopted when she was just a baby, Posy is excited to re-connect with her birth family and help out on the family cider farm with its old stone walls and bees buzzing in the hedgerows.

There’s just one tiny problem – her new next-door neighbour, haughty, handsome vineyard-owner Lachlan. Lachlan has taken an instant dislike to Posy, and after a furious argument when she ventures on his land, she’s pretty certain there’s not a heart of gold beneath his frosty exterior.

Yet as she falls in love with the flower-filled hedgerows and apple-green fields of her new life, she discovers more about her grumpy neighbour. Even though he acts like the world is out to get him, she can’t ignore the sad expression in his dark eyes.

And when Posy discovers the heartbreaking secret that is tearing Lachlan apart, she understands why he has shut the door on the world and vows to help him, as well as the vineyard, which has fallen on hard times. Yet just as Lachlan lets Posy in, a terrible night threatens to destroy everything she has begun to care about and puts someone she loves at risk. Will her dream life in the country come at an awful price?

If you love Nicola May, Debbie Macomber and Milly Johnson, then you will adore The Little Orchard on the Lane. An enchanting summer romance about new beginnings, second chances and trusting your heart.

My Thoughts:

The Little Orchard on the Lane is a heart-warming story of finding oneself, family and love. This is a feel-good book that ensures the reader will experience every single emotion along with the characters. The story introduces us to Posy, a well mannered girl who has everything she could ever hope for. She has wonderful parents, a great friend and a job that she enjoys for the moment. When she suddenly finds out that she has two uncles who live in Somerset and own a farm, her world as she knows it is turned upside down.

Posy sets out to meet them along with her adoptive mother who supports her throughout this. What ensues is an amazing journey for everyone. I loved how Posy handles her meeting with her relatives and then forms bonds with each one of them. Her mother is wonderful and I adored her character. The author has done a wonderful job with the setting and the plot line, giving us a glimpse into everyone’s thought process, fears and then the love that develops only with family even if you’ve known them for a short time only.

One of my favorite characters apart from Posy is Asa, her fun loving uncle who is dealing with his own demons. Brought together, this uncle-niece duo is unstoppable and share an enviable bond. Posy also starts to form feelings for Lachlan, who owns the neighboring vineyard and who is not very amenable to company. As Posy works to break down barriers not just with her family but with Lachlan, we are treated to a wonderful story filled with so much love and togetherness. I adored this story and enjoyed it so much! This is a pleasant read and is perfect for a summer getaway!

Book Review: My Mother’s Secret by Julia Roberts

About the Book:

My Mother's Secret

‘They told me he died, but I never believed them. I’d have known,’ she says, her voice little more than a whisper and her eyes searching mine. ‘A mother would know if her child died, wouldn’t she?’

The phone call comes in the middle of the night, rousing Danni from her safe, warm bed. The police have found her mother Diana wandering along the main road, miles from her house, confused and lost.

Danni races to her mother’s side, but when she arrives, as always, her mother doesn’t seem to care. ‘Go away, Danni,’ she says. ‘I don’t want you.’

When she was a child, Danni would lie awake at night wondering what she had done to make her mother so cold. Now she is determined to put the past behind them and make Diana as happy as she can in the time they have left.

But as some of Diana’s memories are slipping away, others are forcing their way to the surface. One night Diana breaks down in tears and reveals her heartbreaking secret. Years before Danni was born, there was another baby who never got to see the world. Now there is one last thing Danni can do for her mother. She will find her brother’s resting place, and bring Diana some peace.

But good intentions can have unexpected consequences, and soon Danni’s life will be changed forever. Are some secrets best left buried?

A completely heartbreaking and compelling story of families, secrets, and the fierce love between mothers and children. Fans of Amanda Prowse, Ali Mercer and Jodi Picoult will smile through their tears.

 

My Thoughts:

My Mother’s Secret is the story of a mother’s journey and her relationship with her children. This is a story that shows us how a bad situation can shape a persons entire life, physically, mentally and emotionally. The story follows Danni as she tries to help her mother who discovers that she has Dementia and later on breast cancer. Her mother never wanted her around and did not hide the fact in the way she always talked to her. She focused more on Danni’s younger brother Adam who was the apple of her eye.

As Danni struggles to help her mother, she also reflects on how she treats her two daughters and her relationship with her husband. Through this story, the author brings out contrasts in relationships, view points and how different things shape people into who they are today. As Danni’s mother’s dementia starts to get worse, her mutterings and revelations sow the seed in Danni’s mind to seek out the truth. The author handles the health problems in a subtle way and brings out the effects very well making us go through all the emotions that the characters are feeling.

Sometimes, it is best to let some secrets rest, but what happens when one goes looking for the truth? It can have quite an impact on a whole lot of people. I truly enjoyed reading about Danni’s family, her support system and how she handles her mother in spite of how she has been treated her whole life. Sometimes there are opportunities for a second chance and perhaps this is Danni’s.

As tragedy strikes and secrets come out, Danni is racing against the clock to take care of her mother and her family without hurting anyone badly in the process. This is truly a heat-wrenching read with so many unexpected twists! The author has done a wonderful job with the plot and even though there is tragedy, she brings out the beauty of relationships and love in the end, making this book totally worth the read!

Book Review: An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham

A very Happy Publication Day to author Siobhan Curham for the release of An American In Paris today, 04.01.2021

About the Book:

An American in Paris

Walking through Montmartre that morning was like the eerie calm right before a storm. The roads were deserted. We carried on, arm in arm, and then finally, we saw them. Columns and columns of soldiers, spreading through the streets like a toxic grey vapour. ‘You must write about this,’ he whispered to me. ‘You must write about the day freedom left Paris.’

1937: Florence has dreamed her whole life of coming to Paris. She arrives on a sweltering summer day and, lost on the steep streets of Montmartre, asks for directions from Otto, a young artist with paint-spattered clothes and the most beautiful smile she has ever seen.

Otto becomes her guide to Paris, taking her to visit paintings in the Louvre and bookshops by the Seine. And when Otto returns home to finish his studies, they vow to reunite on the same spot they met, one year to the day.

Still dreaming of their parting kiss, Florence starts writing for an American newspaper and throws herself into becoming truly Parisian. All too soon, heady days of parties and champagne are replaced by rumours of war. When Otto finally returns to her, it is as an exile, fleeing Nazi persecution.

Soon, not even Paris is safe. Florence’s articles now document life under occupation and hide coded messages from the Resistance. But with the man she loves in terrible danger, her words feel hollow and powerless. If Florence risks everything by accepting a dangerous mission, can she rescue their dreams from that sunny day before the war?

A sweeping wartime story that will capture your heart and never let it go. Fans of The Alice NetworkThe Lost Girls of Paris and My Name is Eva will be absolutely gripped from the very first page.

My Thoughts:

Note: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

An American in Paris is a sweeping tale of love and loss, the impacts of WWII on people and the resilience of some to take a stand. The book is written from two perspectives, following dual timelines, on set in the time from 1937 – 1945 and the other in the present day which in the book is the year 2018.

In the present day part we are introduced to Sage who is on an emotional spiral and messes up her public persona while trying to deal with the grief of her mother’s passing. As she tries to deal with the aftermath of her scandalous viral videos, she receives an email that may just change her life and give her the answers that her mother may have once searched for.

As the story progresses, the reader is also introduced to Florence, an American dancer who comes to Paris in 1937. The author treats us to two different stories, one of Florence who finds love and laughter, a purpose in life until the war begins and starts to affect France, and that of Sage who embarks on a journey of discovery.

Though Sage is featured in the book, I feel that her character and that of Sam were just to provide perspective and a connection to the past. The main focus is on Florence and her story. It is one of strength, bravery and the will to fight back as well as of enduing love and faith. It is both heart warming and heart-breaking to read, but will draw the reader in completely until the very end. The author does a wonderful job in painting a picture of war torn France, the impact it had on the people and how they were treated. A lot of research has definitely gone into the historical facts as many of them could be verified as well.

The plot flows well starting from the beginning and going on until the end of the war and the aftermath. The characters are relatable and their experiences harrowing to say the least. Since I have visited Paris many times, it was wonderful for me to read about Florence’s emotions while discovering Montmartre and Musée du Louvre as well as my personal favourite, the bookstore Shakespeare and Company.

Be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster and a story that will cause the reader to pause and think. This book is well worth the read and I highly recommend it!

Book Review: Wedding Bells on Victory Street (The Bryant Sisters #2) by Pam Howes

About the Book:

Wedding Bells on Victory Street (The Bryant Sisters #2)

From Amazon bestseller Pam Howes comes a heartbreaking World War Two novel about a young woman trying to make the best of history’s darkest hour. Is a happy ever after impossible?

Liverpool, 1943. For Bella Rogers, life is looking up. She loves performing with The Bryant Sisters, the singing trio who have become the country’s sweethearts, putting a smile on the faces of the brave boys fighting the Nazis. But then tragedy strikes when a telegram arrives: Bella’s beloved father has been killed in France.

Unlike her poor Mam, Bella has someone to share her grief with. Her childhood love Bobby is home from the war. He lost a leg but she counts her blessings every day that he’s alive when so many young men haven’t made it back. Bella longs to give her heart to Bobby but she is hiding a secret that may change their lives forever. Will he still love her if she reveals the truth?

But when bombs screech down on Victory Street in the middle of the night, blowing houses apart, Bella may lose both the home she loves and the family who mean everything to her. With so much loss around her, will Bella be brave enough to snatch her chance of happiness? And when the war is finally over, will wedding bells ring out on Victory Street again?

An utterly unputdownable, heart-wrenching historical novel that will have you completely hooked from page one. You’ll lose yourself in this gorgeous wartime story of love, loss and family secrets. Perfect for fans of Wives of War, Nadine Dorries and Nancy Revell.

My Thoughts:

Wedding Bells on Victory Street is Book 2 in The Bryant Sisters series. I am glad that I was approved a copy of the book via NetGalley.

The story follows the Bryant Sisters as they travel the country during WWII, providing entertainment for the troops. I directly read this book without having read the first one, but it did affect the story for me. I was able to easily connect with the main characters and follow their journey in this book. The story revolves primarily around Bella and her family, her relationships with the other girls who form the Bryant Sisters as well as Bobby, her childhood love. The story is well-written and flows so well that I finished the book in one sitting.

The setting of the story is heart-wrenching with death and uncertainty looming over all the characters. I loved how Bella’s Mother and sister stepped up to help her and how the entire community who lived in and around Victory Street band together to support each other. As the war progresses, the characters learn to rely on themselves and one another to move forward. The author has done a great job with the story, the settings and the characters are adorable.

This is a love story set in the time of WWII and it brings to us a feeling of hope for the characters and a feeling of joy in spite of all the sadness. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would recommend it to everyone!

Book Review: Across the Lake (Lake to Coast Book 2) by Nancy LiPetri

I was provided with a copy of the book by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the Book:

Across the Lake (Lake to Coast Book 2)

In this sequel to The Wooded Path, the character you least expect to return is back, experiencing lake life a whole new way. She’s pushing boundaries. Not worried about fitting in. And she can’t believe what she discovers. The second book in the Lake To Coast Series, it reveals more secrets in the close-knit community on Lake Norman and also takes readers through Spanish moss and salt spray to the famed Outer Banks of North Carolina. Will Kat find what she’s looking for, on Ocracoke Island?

My Thoughts:

Across the Lake introduces the reader to Kat, an interesting person, seemingly in the middle of a mid-life crisis as she comes to stay at a cottage off Lake Norman. Trying to make sense of her life and thoughts, her relationships and feelings, Kat seeks to spend some time away from her husband and daughters while she gathers her thoughts.

It took me some time to really get into the story, but once I caught on, the journey was interesting. My favourite friendship of all was the one between Kat and her twenty year old neighbour Hailey. Hailey’s out look towards life brought in a different perspective and she also learnt a lot from Kat. This give and take friendship is something I enjoyed reading about.

It is refreshing to read about a character who is in her forties and is dealing with issues that people can relate to. As Kat tries to figure out her life, she meets a lot of interesting people and has some interesting experiences. The friendships formed and the bonds developed help to guide her and change her. The author beautifully describes the locations and eclectic mix of people who play a part in this journey of self-discovery and self-love. It is okay to change as change is inevitable, but it is necessary to accept and adapt accordingly. I think this is something that stood out to me while reading this story!

Overall this is an enjoyable and stress-free read!

Book Review: Never Say No by Elizabeth Neep

I was approved a copy of the book on NetGalley. The below review is my honest opinion.

About the Book:

Never Say No

It’s always been yes. Yes, I’ll be your friend. Yes, I’ll be your girlfriend. Yes, I’ll move in with you. Yes, yes, yes. I can’t just change my mind now. Can I?

Hailey has always been told she can have it all. And saying yes to every opportunity that comes her way seems like the obvious way to make sure she gets it.

When she finds an engagement ring hidden in her boyfriend Dom’s closet, she knows she’ll say yes.

Her best friend Sophie suggests they run a marathon together and although Hailey hasn’t done more than sprint for a bus in years, she says yes.

And every time her new boss, the infamous Vivian Jones, asks her to stay late (again) at her dream job, the answer is always yes.

But somewhere between saying ‘yes’ to Vivian’s latest demands and still trying to make it home on time for boxsets and burritos on the sofa with Dom, Hailey has lost sight of what she really wanted in the first place.

Far from winning at life, Hailey feels like she is fighting to juggle two very different worlds. When those worlds finally collide, could having it all actually mean losing everything?

Fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Holly Bourne and The Devil Wears Prada will adore this funny, heart-felt and honest look at navigating those moments in life where you reach a crossroads and have to decide who and what it is you want to be.

My Thoughts:

Never Say No follows Hailey as she navigates life with the Fear Of Missing Out attitude. She always says yes to everyone and everything, but it feels as though this happens by choice and not out of necessity. Hailey has a steady boyfriend and a bestfriend who is close to both of them, making their group of three and the dynamics quite interesting. Having decided to pursue a career in Law, Hailey tries to get noticed at the prestigious firm, especially by their only female partner, Vivian.

Vivian is an icon, a strong woman who works hard to get what she wants. However, no-one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. As the story progresses, we observe these two women as they navigate their lives and the world. It took me some time to get into the book, as initially I could not understand where it was going. The blurb promises humor, but for me there was very little of it and more personal drama. In addition some of the characters like Liam and Dom were not very well developed. It would have been nice to get to know Hailey and Dom as a couple and to understand their dynamics before the job at the Law firm gets in the way.

The story flows well and even though the book did not grip me, I did enjoy the read. The author does show us a reality that most people can relate to, the idea that we do not know where we are headed, or that we have to be a certain way to be accepted. All these are very pertinent points and the author tackles them well through this story.

This book is worth a read and I would not hesitate to recommend 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!

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

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

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.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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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!