Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Review: The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman

In her inimitable style, Viola Shipman explores the unlikely relationship between two very different women brought together by the pain of war, but bonded by hope, purpose…and flowers.

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.
When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family—a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbor’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.

My Review:

A brilliantly written story about hope, friendship and new beginnings.

A new family has moved into the house next door to Iris Maynard, her parents’ old house.  She had no idea what was going on with the Peterson family until they become friends.  All Iris knew was they were a young couple with a little girl names Lily, a flower name just like her own.  Iris soon learns about Abby’s career and marriage struggles and Cory, Abby’s husband, is suffering from PTSD after serving in the Iraq war.  Iris lost her husband in WWII and her daughter shortly after.  She become a recluse after both losses.  But with the help of each other, Iris and Cory help each other come out of their shells and learn to live again.  And, Abby gains the confidence to take her life in her own hands when it comes to her career.

I have read all of this author’s books and with each new one, I say it was the best.  This book falls right in line with that saying.  I was hooked from the very beginning.  The story took me on a journey through the characters lives, past and present, and taught me about flowers and gardening.  It also taught me to open my eyes and truly see what’s around me, not just what’s on the surface.  The story wrapped up with an ending that brought tears to my eyes.  I can't end this review without mentioning sweet Lily and how she was crucial to this story by bringing her family and Iris together. 

Thank you to Graydon House and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy.

Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her extremist husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger, Diana Harrington, fired from her job at the local pharmacy.

Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a worn-out Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience.

With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn. But when her first love returns, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.

In her warmest, wisest novel yet, Kristy Woodson Harvey delivers a discerning portrait of modern womanhood through two vastly different lenses. Feels Like Falling is a beach bag essential for Harvey fans--and for a new generation of readers.

My Review:

An uplifting story about friendship.

Gray and Diana couldn’t have been more opposite.  But together, they form a friendship that neither expected.  They help each other through some of their toughest days.

I really liked the characters in this book.  I felt like I really knew them through the author’s words.  The story had all the elements I crave in a book, strong characters, great setting and enough details to make me feel like I am right there with them.  The story was emotional at times and kept me flipping the pages until the end. 

I am almost ashamed to say this is the first book I have read by this author, but it definitely won’t be the last.

Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Review: One-of-a-Kind Bride by Charlene Sands

It’s a promise she intends to keep at all costs

Taylor Preston never breaks a promise, especially to her dying mother about following her dreams to become a successful New York bridal gown designer. But when Taylor unexpectedly loses her high-profile job, she returns early to Last Stand, Texas where she happily spent childhood summers, to help with her cousin’s wedding. On Taylor’s first day back, the boy she left behind twelve years ago comes to her rescue and her sleeping heart inconveniently reawakens.

All during their youth, Ryan “Coop” Cooper played Taylor’s “promise game,” and they never once broke a promise to each other, but that was years ago, and Coop, now an established contractor, isn’t the same person. Building a wedding gift she-shed brings Coop closer to Taylor. They recall their promises – silly and solemn – and realize the spark could easily once again flame.

But Taylor’s life is far away and Coop, a single father, won’t risk his heart or his daughter’s again.

My Review:

A sweet second chance romance story.

Taylor Preston and Ryan “Coop” Cooper were best friends and sweethearts when they were younger.  Their relationship ended when Taylor decided to follow her dreams of becoming a bridal gown designer in New York. 

Taylor has finally returned to Last Stand, Texas, for her cousin Julie’s wedding and when she sees Coop it stirs up old feelings.  But Taylor knows Coop is still mourning the lose of his wife and she is only in town temporarily, so nothing can happen.   Taylor soon finds herself spending a lot of time with Coop, his daughter Cassie, and his father, Joe, and she has to fight the feelings that creep up every time they are together.  Meanwhile Coop is struggling with his feelings towards Taylor and afraid to act on them knowing Taylor will soon be leaving town and doesn’t want Cassie to be hurt again.  But spending so much time together is bound to bring them close again. 

I read this book really quick because I couldn’t find a place to stop.  I became so attached to the characters and couldn’t wait to see how they got their happily ever after.  I enjoyed Taylor and Coop’s romance but I also liked reading about the friendships and family relationships that went along with the story.  I especially enjoyed Cassie.  She was a sweet, fun and sassy little girl.