Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Summer on the Little Cornish Isles by Phillipa Ashley

4 Star

Poppy has always loved Cornwall – the crisp sea air, the welcoming community. So when her boyfriend Dan suggests they leave their office jobs and take over the Starfish Studio on the Isles of Scilly, Poppy doesn’t need asking twice.

But things don’t go to plan when Dan dumps her, weeks before they’re due to move. Determined not to give up, Poppy accepts the help of local photographer Jake, her landlord’s grandson. But Jake is distracted by a loss from his past.

Can they turn the crumbling gallery into a success in time for tourist season? And will a summer on the little Cornish Isles mend just the studio – or Poppy’s heart too?

Kathryn - 4 Star

This sweet novel made me desperate to explore this part of the UK and I may have even done a little research on how to make such a thing happen in the near future...maybe... 

Philippa Ashley can certainly make the small seaside town's atmosphere shine through. The quaint villages and the inhabitants made me want to be a part of a community that is mostly lost when you live in a large city. 

Particularly this book made me interested in the characters and their situations. I was connected quickly to their lives and wanted wonderful outcomes for them all.  I enjoyed the ins and outs of operating a small art gallery like this one and it almost had a personality of it's own... but not as much as the neighborhood cat!

Thank you to Avon Books UK for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Sold On A Monday by Kristina McMorris

3 Star


The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, captures the desperation sweeping the country in 1931. It’s an era of breadlines, bank runs, and impossible choices. 

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when the image leads to his big break, the consequences are devastating in ways he never imagined.

Haunted by secrets of her own, secretary Lillian Palmer sees more in the picture than a good story and is soon drawn into the fray. Together, the two set out to right a wrongdoing and mend a fractured family, at the risk of everything they value. 

Kathryn - 3 Star

I know this is likely to be an unpopular opinion but this was not my favourite Kristina McMorris book.  I read another review that said she'd been expecting one sort of novel and got something quite different and that's the way I felt also.

From the title, cover image and Ellis' taking of the photo I was expecting the plot to follow the lives of the children and perhaps to follow the thread of the period and the great poverty endured by so many during the Great Depression.  However, the novel followed Ellis through his career and the impact the photograph had on him.  Though fascinating, I was expecting something different and I didn't really warm to Ellis.  

I felt a little closer to Lillian and her situation. There was love apparent for her child and her parents that shone through.  Lillian and Ellis' relationship was so stilted that they never really meshed well for me and it didn't add much to the plot.  In the end I was satisfied with the wrap up between them as well as somewhat pleased with the outcome for the children.

I can't fault the writing and would not hesitate to read another book by the author as I've been engrossed by more than one of her other books.

Thank you to Sourcebooks for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Kristina McMorris:
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Monday, August 13, 2018

Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

4 Star

Willa has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief. 

Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market. 

When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back. 

To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son. 

Kathryn - 4 Star

I wasn't sure what to expect from Every Time You Go Away as the novel started off slowly for me.  I didn't immediately warm to Willa and found her a bit unapproachable.  I understood that she was processing her husbands death and her own worries about their teenage son but I didn't feel empathy for her in the way it was told.  The plot moved slowly for me also and though I appreciated that it mimicked Willa's re-awakening, I found it a bit frustrating and repetitive.  

I suppose that may sound insensitive and that is certainly not my intent.  I liked the addition of her husband's ghost as a character and found I grew to know Willa much more during her interactions with him.  Likewise I found her more interesting when she was with her best friend or her son.  For me the personality came out when she was with other people. Perhaps this was the crux of her becoming herself again? 

I enjoyed the book on the whole though and found her processing of grief was true, it is an ongoing process for all of us. 

Thank you to St Martin's Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Beth Harbison:
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Monday, August 6, 2018

The Holiday Cottage by The Sea by Holly Martin

3.5 Star 

Tori Graham is in need of a holiday. Trying to piece her heart back together after losing the love of her life, she escapes to Blossom Cottage, with its picturesque views of the sea. And plans to spend the summer in gorgeous Sandcastle Bay, where her best friend Melody Rosewood lives. 

Finding herself embracing life in the coastal community, Tori starts to fall in love with Sandcastle Bay and its welcoming cast of residents. But that’s not all she begins to fall for, as Tori is swept away by Aidan’s genuine heart and mischievous sense of humour. The attraction between them is undeniable, but will a simple holiday romance be enough? 

As Tori’s stay in Sandcastle Bay comes to an end she has a tough decision to make…. Has her heart found a new place to call home? 

Kathryn - 3.5 Star

A quick and easy tale of loss and love this book will make you feel hopefulness and an intense desire to operate your own farm by the sea. 

Not so much a novel of surprises but I still found myself engrossed in the story and particularly the complicated nature of Tori and her best friend Melody's friendship.   Their relationship was deep rooted and I loved their loyalty towards each other.  The addition of Aiden didn't hurt as he seemed to be a little bit perfect and certainly not someone to dismiss. 

This book was charm personified and a good holiday read but I wish it had been longer and had a chance to delve deeper and follow them a bit longer.  The characters have so much potential so I'm glad that this appears to be the first book in a series for this cast- I hope we follow these particular people up again!

Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Holly Martin:
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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Figgs by Ali Bryan

4 Star

Meet the Figgs. June, the family's matriarch, looks forward to a quiet retirement — if only she can get her three adult children to finally, finally, move out of the house. But her dreams are shattered when her son Derek unexpectedly becomes a single father. Now there's a newborn baby at home, and Derek's older siblings are showing no sign of going anywhere either. In the midst of the chaos, June's husband, Randy, has a shocking revelation.

With family life flying fast and furious around her, June finds herself thinking about her parents — adoptive and biological. Where did she come from? Will her new grandson be traumatized without his mother? And why in the world are all the kids still at home, anyway?

Kathryn - 4 Star

I initially picked this one up because I am always interested in Canadian authors- I'm inclined to read something from my own country if it crosses my path.  I wasn't disappointed in The Figgs, they were some of the truest personalities I've come across lately and therefore the novel held great appeal.   

While I adored the realistic nature of their interactions and their different situations I also felt the plot occasionally lacked cohesiveness.  And yet, the message regarding different families and varying dynamics on relationships was strong.  
I loved Derek and his unassuming nature, his clear love for his son and his resolve to be a dad.   The daughter was head first in a world of self-discovery and the other son was also trying to make his mark.  Although all adult children you could feel the center of the puzzle was still the parents, specifically June.   She was a cross between myself and my mother and I could hear her internal dialogue echoing in my own head.  I also was charmed by the quirky marriage and found them to be sweet and irritating with each other in equal measure.

A look at modern adult family life with a twist, I enjoyed The Figgs.  I wish the novel had continued a little bit longer though, I don't yet feel satisfied with their lot!

Thank you to Freehand Books for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Ali Bryan:
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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Little Big Love by Katy Regan

5 Star

About a Boy meets Parenthood in this smart, big-hearted love story about a family for whom everything changed one night, a decade ago, and the young boy who unites them all.

Told through the eyes of Zac, Juliet, and grandfather Mick, Little Big Love is a layered, heartfelt, utterly satisfying story about family, love, and the secrets that can define who we are

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

This book was one that I truly loved. A great story full of emotions, it struck me as a story that many of us could probably relate to. A family going through a lot of things, but mostly because Zac was getting older and he wanted answers about his Dad. This is largely the main reason why so many things came to happen throughout the novel as his mother, Juliet, and his grandfather, Mick, had no choice but to come to terms with the past and reveal the truth to each other and even come to term with it themselves.

I always enjoy books that change the narrator and this one is no exception, moving from the three main characters and back again. I love the different perspectives it gave, as well as the way the story was woven together, until the very last bit was revealed. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the family and the genuine caring you could feel throughout. The book was the type that was perfect as on the day I read it as I was feeling a bit down and it definitely ended up being a feel good story. But I can’t say it was just that as it felt like so much more to me.

I could see this book becoming a great movie that would appeal to many and also can’t wait to read more by this author as she writes exactly the types of books I love most.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Katy Regan:
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Friday, July 20, 2018

The Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby

 2 Star

Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy—even if that means putting her own dreams on hold.

Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother.

As Tracy experiences the difficulties of new motherhood, Meghan faces her own struggle: trying not to fall for the stray puppy she rescued. This is no time for attachments—not to the adorable “Sox,” whose owner is bound to turn up any day, and certainly not to the handsome new vet in town. But as the summer unfolds, she discovers that, like Sox, she may need rescuing, too.

As both sisters navigate unexpected challenges and exciting new relationships, they’ll find that putting the past to rest can make way for beautiful new beginnings. 

Kathryn - 2 Star

I enjoy this author's connection with her characters and fully feel that she's invested in their lives.  The Summer of New Beginnings includes two daughters and their mother as the sources for the story and daughter Meghan is the main voice.  I liked though, that despite being secondary characters, the mother and Tracy both were clear in their positions and challenges.  

I was inspired by Tracy when she made the decision to take her life into her own hands.  She needed to be in control to be able to help her young son.  I also enjoyed their mother, she is a strong personality but not overbearing (not completely at any rate!). 

What wasn't so great for me was Meghan.  I didn't really get to know her and felt her attachment to her father a little overwhelming for her plot lines.  She seemed so intently devoted to carrying on his business and I never really understood why there was the need to continue it, unless it was financial?  It wasn't clear why she needed to persevere.  I grasped that she wanted to pursue his legacy but not why she felt such a responsibility.  I suppose this is the heart of why I didn't connect with Meghan, I liked her I just didn't fully understand her.

It was a fun read but I didn't connect as much as I have done in the past with this author.

Thank you to the author for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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