Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Hope Chest: A Novel by Viola Shipman - Review

The discovery of one woman’s heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again.

Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn’t feel like herself. She can’t navigate her beloved home, she can’t go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn’t want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn’t likely to make it past their anniversary.

But when Rose, Mattie’s new caretaker, and her young daughter, Jeri, enter the couple’s life, happiness and the possibility for new memories return. Together they form a family, and Mattie is finally able to pass on her memories from the hope chest she received from her mother.

With each item—including a favorite doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament—the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges.

A beautiful story about the unconditional love and support of family, The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman will remind you that hope can be found where and when you least expect it.

My Review:

A beautifully written tale of love, loss and discovering happiness in the little things in life.

“There is always hope where there is love.”

Mattie and Don Tice have been married for 50 years and Don still loves Mattie more than anything.  But as Mattie’s ALS progresses, he is forced to seek help taking care of her.  When Don hires Rose, a struggling single mother, as Mattie’s caretaker, he had no idea how involved Rose and her daughter would become in their lives.  They became the family they never had. 

The story is told in phases after Don and Mattie list their beloved lake house for sale and move someplace easier for Mattie to navigate in her wheelchair.  During the move, Mattie’s hope chest is rediscovered.  Throughout the book, Mattie finds comfort in the heirlooms in her hope chest as she asks for them or they are discovered.  The story flashes back in time to when each item was placed in the box and tells of the importance of each item in Mattie’s life. 

When I first started reading this book, I really didn’t know much about ALS.  Now I have a good idea what the patients and their loved ones go through.  I got totally lost in this book.  It is a very emotional story full of love, hope and the value of family. 

I thought this bible verse was a perfect addition to the story.
“‘So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.’”   Corinthians 4:16–18

I received a digital copy through NetGalley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

Friday, March 17, 2017

Find Me at Willoughby Close (Willoughby Close Series Book 3) by Kate Hewitt - Review

Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…

Harriet Lang had the perfect life, so she's left reeling when everything is taken from her in one fell swoop. Suddenly, Harriet learns her beautiful farmhouse in the Cotswolds is double-mortgaged, her husband Richard’s been unceremoniously fired—and he’s become a little too close to his young, sexy assistant.

Harriet moves into Willoughby Close with her three children, trying to hold her head up high. With the help of her neighbor and newfound friend Ellie Matthews, Harriet starts to rebuild her life--but dipping a toe in the dating pool feels strange and meanwhile her children are struggling in different ways. She wonders if starting over is really possible...

Then Willoughby Close begins to weave its healing magic on both her and her children, and Harriet begins to see a way forward. But when Richard reappears in her life, wanting to make amends, Harriet must make the painful decision about how much of the past can be forgiven—and what kind of future she is fighting for.

My Review:

Another great installment in the Willoughby Close series.  Where the first two books seemed a bit more lighthearted and romantic, this one touches on deeper subjects.  It didn’t have the romantic feel like the previous books did.  It is more of a women’s fiction story about starting over after you lose everything.

It all started with a discovery on the phone bill.  Harriet Lang found out her husband Richard had been making many middle of the night phone calls to his secretary.  When she confronts Richard about the discovery and finds out he lost his job six months ago and has been confiding in his former secretary, Harriet’s world falls apart.  Piece by piece, everything Harriet loved, from her prized home, to her car, the children’s after school activities, and even their horse, is stripped away.  Harriet is forced to move into a three bedroom apartment at Willoughby Close which even means not every child gets their own bedroom as they were accustomed to.  Richard doesn’t move with them, he gets a place in London where he can continue his job search. 

While Harriet and her three children adjust to their new life, Harriet realizes her friends really weren’t the best of friends as she thought they were.  They turned on her when they found out she didn’t have any money and she split up with her husband.  She becomes friends with a couple of unlikely characters, one is her neighbor (from the previous book) who she didn’t think much of when she first met her and another is the eccentric elderly lady who owns Willoughby Manor.  Harriet also comes to terms on what is going on in her marriage and does a lot of soul searching trying to figure out her next move.  She doesn’t want to lose what she and Richard had and doesn’t want to break up the family, but she has trouble moving past what Richard has done.  It was interesting to watch the story unfold.  The book ended up in a way I didn’t predict. 

If you read the previous book in this series, Harriet is mentioned many times and the author didn’t paint a pretty picture of her.  I honestly didn’t like Harriet.  But in this book she redeems herself and I learned why she acted the way she did.  I was glad to read Harriet’s story.  It all made sense then.  The book is well written and kept me interested throughout. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Whiskey River Rescue by Justine Davis - Review

Still reeling from the unexpected sale of the land she and her horses live on, horse rescuer Kelsey Blaine is frantic when she comes home to find her possessions already boxed up and her house being bulldozed without any notice. Normally calm and kind, Kelsey becomes furious and impulsively cuts a privacy fence to confront the culprit–her mysterious neighbor, Joe.

Joe Kilcoyne is in a desperate place. He guards his secrets and hides from the world for a reason. He's the hottest topic of speculation around Whiskey River, but no one has ever dared to get close to him. That is, until fiery Kelsey comes barging straight into his life.

The last thing Joe needs is for Kelsey to breach his defenses and make him confront his past. But when her sunny, open, and determined personality collide with a haunted man with no idea how to reconnect with the world, the sparks that ignite shock them both.

My Review:

I enjoyed the rest of the Whiskey River series, so I was excited to read another installment in the series.  This one ranks right up there with the rest of them.

When Kelsey Blaine finds out the land she rents and runs her horse rescue on is sold, she doesn’t quite know what she will do.  She doesn’t know where she will live or where to move her horses.  Full of anger, she confronts her neighbor, known by everyone in town as Crazy Joe, to find out what’s going on.  Little did Kelsey know she would soon form a friendship with Joe and learn his secret.  Kelsey might be good with horses, but she is just as good helping Joe move beyond the traumatic past that has held him back for a long time.  And with just a little bit of help, Joe might be able to trust someone enough to fall in love. 

This book is an emotional read and touches on some sensitive subjects, so be sure to have kleenix ready.   I highly recommend it.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Plan Cee by Hilary Grossman - Review and Giveaway

Would you abandon your present for a second chance at your past?

Cecelia Reynolds has spent most of her life trying to forget the commitment-phobic man who broke her heart. It wasn’t easy, but eventually she did it, or so she thought…

As Cecelia and her husband gather for a friend’s wedding, her perfect world is thrown into complete turmoil. Even though it’s been twenty years since she last laid eyes on Keith Emerson, all it takes is one glance for her to feel emotions she thought were long gone. When Keith ends up officiating the ceremony, she quickly realizes his message of love is directed at her, not the happy couple. But can she believe him?

We live our entire lives thinking we know ourselves. But do we ever really?

As secrets and lies cause Cecelia’s world to spin completely out of control, she is forced to seek advice from the most unlikely ally. In the process, she must confront the demons of her past and the events that shaped her into the woman she is now. Will she finally learn the real meaning of love, friendship, and family?

While this book is a sequel to Plan Bea, it also reads as a standalone.
you found yourself in a similar situation.  

Purchase Plan Cee - getBook.at/PlanCee

My Review:

When I heard Hilary Grossman had written a sequel to Plan Bea, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the book.  I loved Plan Bea and I knew Plan Cee would be just as good.

How would you react if the man you loved in the past suddenly came back into your life decades later wanting a second chance?

Twenty years ago Cecelia was head over heels in love with Keith, but he never could admit he loved her.  So she ended the relationship.  She couldn't go on with a man who was only half invested in a relationship.

Cecelia is now happily married to Bryce and they have twin boys.  She has a great job and wonderful friends.  Life couldn't be better.  At a friend’s wedding, Cecelia runs into Keith again.  She never thought she would see him again.  All of the memories she tried so hard to forget come rushing back causing confusion and upheaval in her life.  If Cecelia was so happy with her life, why is she feeling his way?

Keith regretted letting Cecilia a walk away all those years ago and now he will do anything to get her back, even if it means destroying her marriage.  He just wanted a second chance with Cee.

When Cecelia's life starts spinning out of control, she turns to her friends for support.  Together they devise a plan to help Cecelia find happiness again.

This brilliantly written book had such a real feel to it.  The creative plot and characters had me hooked from the start. Reading from both Cecelia and Keith's point of view gave the story a true feeling to what they were both going through.  This book is an emotional ride about love, family and friendships.  It leaves you pondering the question of what would you do if you found yourself in a similar situation.  

We live our entire lives thinking we know those closest to us. But do we ever really?

On the outside, Annabel O'Conner has it all - the perfect husband, two adorable children, an amazing job, and a mother from hell! Just when she gives up trying to regain her overbearing mother's love, an unexpected call turns her world around and makes Annabel question everything she believes about her life.

Could falling in love give a cold, stubborn, and selfish woman a second chance to open her heart back up to her family?

Beatrice Buchanan has spent more years than she can remember distancing herself from everyone close to her. She barely has a relationship with her grandchildren. The only time she manages to have a one way conversation with her daughter is during her weekly fifteen-minute commute to the nail salon. When Bea meets Walter on a cruise she realizes there may be more to life than designer clothes, killer handbags, and impressing the ladies at her posh country club.

As the mother and daughter duo team up to plan "Long Island's wedding of the year" they confront the secrets and lies that have defined them. This humorous emotionally honest women's contemporary fiction novel will tug at your heartstrings and the twist ending will shock you.

"Although a light read, the subject matter was very sad at times and I found myself choking back tears, but in a good way! It was so authentically heart wrenching yet often very funny too. The characters were so well fleshed out and three dimensional - no one was perfect and no one was fatally flawed - like real life. I thought the twist was genius!" - Meredith Schorr Best Selling Author

Plan Bea is Free between 3/7-3-11, get it now.  viewBook.at/Plan_Bea

By day, Hilary Grossman works in the booze biz. By night she hangs out with her "characters." She has an unhealthy addiction to denim and high heel shoes. She's been known to walk into walls and fall up stairs. She only eats spicy foods and is obsessed with her cat, Lucy. She loves to find humor in everyday life. She likens life to a game of dodge ball - she tries to keep many balls in the air before they smack her in the face. She lives on Long Island.

In honor of Plan Cee's release, Hilary is offering a $25 Starbucks Gift Card to one lucky person

Friday, March 3, 2017

Hotel Hookup: Miami by Annabelle Snow - Review

Katarina doesn’t want to make a dancing fool of herself at her sorority sister Whitney’s upcoming wedding. She’s been taking ballroom dancing lessons, and she’s finally ready to put her hard work to the test: by entering the annual Latin dance competition on-site at Miami’s Ritz-Carlton. It’s a bold move—and a welcome break from her taxing day job as a municipal attorney.

When she meets sexy circuit dancer Sebastian, she realizes just how much fun dancing can be off the ballroom floor, especially in private places like a hotel suite. Will Katrina keep their moves in the bedroom or is there more to their scorching chemistry?

Want more heat? Get hot stories with a sexy burn in the rest of the Hotel Hookup series.

My Review:

An amateur and professional dancer team up for a little off the floor fun.

Katarina and Sebastian met at the annual Latin dance competition at Miami’s Ritz-Carlton where they were both performing.  Katarina had been learning ballroom dancing so she could dance at her friend Whitney's upcoming wedding.  She had come to love dancing and she was ready to show off what she had learned.  She has also caught the eye of one of the professional dancers and they were soon caught up in a different kind of tango and it wasn't on the dance floor.  Their steamy encounter was one that Katarina would never forget.

This was a fun quick read.  You can just picture the dancers and hear the music from the author's descriptions.  I have been enjoying the Hotel Hookup series.  If you want a steamy quick story, I would suggest picking up this book or another from the series.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Charmed by Chocolate (Love at the Chocolate Shop #6) by Steena Holmes - Review

When Leah ran off to Southern California, she hoped to leave freezing cold winters and unrequited love behind. She was never meant for a small town life and the timing with her longtime best friend–and secret soul mate–was always hopelessly off.
But after a mishap on the hit reality show Charming, Leah declares her love for Wade nationwide and is publicly dubbed "Lonely Leah." She returns to Marietta to hide at her family's home–from the media who wants to turn her into a human interest story, from the townspeople upset with her blunder, and most of all, from Wade, who wants to talk.

It took Leah leaving town to wake Wade Burns up to the reality that he's head over heels in love with his best friend. But now that she's back home, she's giving him the cold shoulder. With chocolate and a grand gesture, can Wade charm his way back into Leah’s heart?

The Love at the Chocolate Shop series
Book 1: Melt My Heart, Cowboy by CJ Carmichael
Book 2: A Thankful Heart by Melissa McClone
Book 3: Montana Secret Santa by Debra Salonen
Book 4: The Chocolate Cure by Roxanne Snopek
Book 5: The Valentine Quest by Melissa McClone
Book 6: Charmed by Chocolate by Steena Homes 

More coming soon

My Review:

An enduring friends to lovers story.

Leah Morgan embarrassed herself while filming a reality television show when she blurted out that she was in love with Wade Burns from her home in Marietta Montana.  Now, Leah is back home and hiding out from everyone trying to get a handle on her life and figure out what step to take next.    

Wade didn’t realize he loved Leah until she decided to leave town.  Now that she is back, he will do anything to win her over.  But Leah is afraid to say those three little words to Wade, so he holds back.  How long will it take for Leah and Wade to open up and tell each other how they really feel about each other?

This sweet story will melt your heart.  Leah and Wade are perfect for each other, but they are both afraid to say how they really feel.  It takes a little bit of scheming from a family and friends to get them to realize what has been there all along.