Book Reviews · Recommendations

Snow Fence Road by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

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Snow Fence Road
By: Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Published: June 2013
Published by: Black Lyon Publishing
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance, Inspirational Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

Note: I was sent a copy of Snow Fence Road by Phyllis Edgerly Ring, from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A village on the coast of Maine holds painful secrets- the kind only the miracle of new love can heal. Tormented by her fiance’s death, Tess Johansen escapes to the only place that can still comfort her-the Spinnaker Inn in coastal Maine. Here in this place by the sea she feels close enough to the man she lost to numb the pain, if not the guilt. For local craftsman, Evan Marston, the ramshackle inn serves only as a grim reminder of the accident that shattered his life and killed the woman he once loved. But while the Spinnaker’s walls may hold guilt and grief and suspicion, they might also house a bright new spark. Drawn together by a love they never expected, Tess and Evan begin to unravel the mysteries of their pasts and question the miracle at work in their wounded hearts-until one fateful evening along a snow fence road …

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Author Phyllis Edgerly Ring was kind enough to send me a copy of her book Snow Fence Road, in celebration of its audiobook release on Audible. I jumped at the chance to read another one of her books as I loved her previous release The Munich Girl.

Although Snow Fence Road was a contemporary unlike the historical fiction of The Munich Girl, it still packed the same emotional punch that seems to be a signature for Ring’s writing. This was a story of life after tragedy and the possibility of finding love again.

Although it did take me some time to get into the story, I enjoyed how it unfolded and learning about the histories of the characters. I also liked the setting at an old Inn and the visions for bringing it back to its glory days. I would have liked to have seen this aspect developed more. However as it was only a short novel, it was only right that the relationships took more precedence.

I would recommend Snow Fence Road to those who are fans of short literary fiction with a focus on romance.

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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Serious Moonlight
By: Jenn Bennett

Published: April 2019
Published by: Simon Pulse
Format Read: ARC, eBook, Kindle App
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Serious Moonlight was a surprise 5 star read for me and among my favourites, that I’ve read this year to date. Set in the beautifully described Seattle, readers follow as two young people navigate a new romance and try to solve a mystery of a reclusive author.

There were so many things that I loved about this book including; the mystery and pop culture references and quotes, the diversity of the characters and the chemistry they had together. I found both Birdie and Daniel to be very relatable. I appreciate how the author chose to represent two very different health afflictions with a character who was deaf in one ear, and another who suffered narcolepsy. Both of which I hadn’t previously read about in young adult fiction.

I found Daniel to be especially charming and loved how he worked to win over Birdie’s affections.

Jenn Bennett’s Serious Moonlight was a wonderful romance with a touch of mystery, that I would highly recommend. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, 2) by Jacqueline Winspear

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Birds of a Feather
(Maisie Dobbs, #2)

By: Jacqueline Winspear
Read by: Kim Hicks

Published: January 2004
Published by: Audiogo
Format Read: Audiobook, Library Book
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

It is the spring of 1930, and Maisie has been hired to find a runaway heiress. When three of the heiress’s old friends are found dead, Maisie must race to find out who would want to kill these seemingly respectable young women before it’s too late. As Maisie investigates, she discovers that the answers lie in the unforgettable agony of the Great War.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Private investigator Maisie Dobbs is back in the second installment of Jacqueline WInspear’s series. Like the first book, she is on the case of a mystery linking to World War I.

This series is of great interest to me as it is explores the aftermath of the first world war and the lasting affect it had on those who lived through it. Although 15 years have passed, the roles that some played during those terrible years, still haunt them.

One of the many reasons why I liked the Maisie Dobbs, book one so much was due in part to the methods of deduction used in solving the mysteries. This method was even more compelling to me in Birds of a Feather and in the end I enjoyed it more than the first.

Initially I was disappointed that Rita Barrington wasn’t the narrator, but as I listened I realized that that Kim Hicks was a great fit for the role as well.

Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series is a clever historical mystery that I would highly recommend.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Mini Contemporary Reviews: April-May 2019

Today I would like to share with you two reviews of contemporary books, that I read during the months of April and May.

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Me Before You
By: Jojo Moyes


Published: December 2012
Published by: Penguin Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:


The beloved New York Times bestseller—with more than five million copies sold—by the author of One Plus One and The Girl You Left Behind

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

-Goodreads

Quick Thoughts

Me Before You is a beautiful story of the relationship between a man whose life has been forever altered and the women who is hired to assist him. This book made me cry, smile and laugh. I couldn’t put it down. Yes it’s subject matter is quite controversial, however I felt that the author did a good job of presenting both sides of the debate. I would highly recommend Jojo Moyes Me Before You to fans of contemporary fiction and books that have been adapted to film.

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Welcome to Moonlight Harbor
(Moonlight Harbor, Book 1)
By: Sheila Roberts

Published: April 2018
Published by: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romace
Format Read: Library Book, Paperback
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis


USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts returns with a brand-new series set on the charming Washington coast

Once happily married, Jenna Jones is about to turn forty, and this year for her birthday—lucky her—she’s getting a divorce. She’s barely able to support herself and her teenage daughter, but now her deadbeat artist ex is hitting her up for spousal support…and then spending it on his “other” woman.

Still, as her mother always says, every storm brings a rainbow. And when she gets a very unexpected gift from her great-aunt Edie, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Aging Aunt Edie is finding it difficult to keep up her business running The Driftwood Inn, so she invites Jenna to come live with her and run the place. It looks like Jenna’s financial problems are solved!

Or not. The town is a little more run-down than Jenna remembers, but that’s nothing compared to the ramshackle state of The Driftwood Inn. Aunt Edie is confident they can return it to its former glory, though Jenna feels like she’s jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the beach fire.

But who knows? With the help of her new friends and a couple of handsome citizens, perhaps that rainbow is on the horizon after all. Because, no matter what, life is always good at the beach.

Featuring all the warmth, romance and trademark humor of Sheila Roberts’s writing, this new series will delight longtime fans and welcome a generation of new readers.

Goodreads

Quick Thoughts

Welcome to Moonlight Harbor kicks off Sheila Roberts series of the same name and follows a woman and her daughter starting over after a messy divorce. I am always drawn to stories that feature some sort of renovation and the aspect I enjoyed the most in this book was the refurbishing of the Driftwood Inn. Although it had its cheesy moments and some that made
me roll my eyes, it was a cute story with a light hint of romance. It also featured a colorful cast of characters and encompassed the small town atmosphere. I am interested to see where the author will take this series in her further releases. Welcome to Moonlight Harbor would make for an enjoyable beach read, that I would recommend to fans of contemporary fiction.

Book Reviews

California Girls by Susan Mallery

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California Girls
By: Susan Mallery

Published: February 2019
Published by: MIRA
Format Read: ARC, eBook, Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 2.5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of California Girls by Susan Mallery, from the publisher, via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis


The California sunshine’s not quite so bright for three sisters who get dumped in the same week…

Finola, a popular LA morning show host, is famously upbeat until she’s blindsided on live TV by news that her husband is sleeping with a young pop sensation who has set their affair to music. While avoiding the tabloids and pretending she’s just fine, she’s crumbling inside, desperate for him to come to his senses and for life to go back to normal.

Zennie’s breakup is no big loss. Although the world insists she pair up, she’d rather be surfing. So agreeing to be the surrogate for her best friend is a no-brainer—after all, she has an available womb and no other attachments to worry about. Except…when everyone else, including her big sister, thinks she’s making a huge mistake, being pregnant is a lot lonelier—and more complicated—than she imagined.

Never the tallest, thinnest or prettiest sister, Ali is used to being overlooked, but when her fiancé sends his disapproving brother to call off the wedding, it’s a new low. And yet Daniel continues to turn up “for support,” making Ali wonder if maybe—for once—someone sees her in a way no one ever has.

But side by side by side, these sisters will start over and rebuild their lives with all the affection, charm and laugh-out-loud humor that is classic Susan Mallery.

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Susan Mallery’s California Girls is a contemporary fiction that follows three sisters, who all get dumped by their men on the same week. All the bases are covered here: one sister was married, another was engaged to be married and another was dating. Anyone who has ever been through a breakup will find something to relate to in California Girls.

I went into this book looking forward to a quick, heartwarming story about the bond between sisters. After reading the synopsis, I thought that they would really rally around each other to recover from their individual heartbreaks. Even though there were moments where they briefly came together, I felt that there was such a distance between each character. Although this was to be expected considering their upbringing with self-centered parents, it brought a different reading experience than I anticipated.

There were aspects from each sister’s story that I enjoyed including: behind the scenes in the television industry with Finola, Ali’s character development and Zennie’s friendship with Bernie. However I found the climax of events to be incredibly predictable.

Unhealthy diet, eating habits and body image were depicted in a way that I found problematic as it felt as if they were being justified instead of discouraged.

California Girls did keep my attention and had moments that were enjoyable, however I wasn’t able to connect with the characters and the plot as I hoped I would.

Book Reviews

First & Then by Emma Mills

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First & Then
By: Emma Mills

Published: October 2015
Published by: Henry Holt & Co.
Format Read: Trade Paperback, Library Book
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, YA Lit, Romance

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis


Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Emma Mills debut novel First and Then is said to be a modern day Pride and Prejudice. When I came across it at my local library, I was leery as I’m not a Jane Austen fan. And truth be told that particularly novel is among my least favourites. However I decided to borrow it anyway as I have been looking forward to reading from this author. The football storyline also caught my interest.

First and Then was a quick young adult contemporary novel that I enjoyed, for the most part. I liked the authors style of writing and the bits of sarcastic humor. The bond between Foster and Ezra was my favourite part of this book.

Unfortunately I didn’t quite connect with the main character Devon and I struggled to see where she fit in. Devon seemed more of a narrator or a way of connecting the side characters. There were some minor characters that I felt should have played more of roll in the story and I was disappointed how they were kind of cast aside.

Although First and Then wasn’t my favourite, it did have moments I enjoyed and I do plan to read more from this author in the future.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Mending Fences (The Deacon’s Family, #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Mending Fences
(The Deacon’s Family, #1)

By Suzanne Woods Fisher

Published: February 2019
Published by: Fleming H. Revell Company
Format Read: ARC, eBook, Kindle, NetGalley
Genre: Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction

Rating: 5/5

I was sent a copy of Mending Fences (The Deacon’s Family, #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis


Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.

Luke Schrock is a new and improved man after a stint in rehab, though everyone in Stoney Ridge only remembers the old Luke. They might have forgiven him, but nobody trusts him.

Amos and Fern Lapp allow Luke to live at Windmill Farm under two conditions. First, Luke must make a sincere apology to each person he’s hurt–a four-page, single-spaced list. Second, he must ask each victim of mischief to describe the damage he caused.

Simple, Luke thinks. Offering apologies is easy. But discovering the lasting effects his careless actions have caused . . . that isn’t so simple. It’s gut-wrenching.

And his list keeps growing. Izzy Miller, beautiful and frustratingly aloof, also boards at Windmill Farm. Luke’s clumsy efforts to befriend Izzy only insult and annoy her. Eager to impress, Luke sets out to prove himself to her by locating her mother. When he does, her identity sends shock waves through Stoney Ridge.

Bestselling and award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher returns to her beloved Stoney Ridge for this brand-new series featuring some of her readers’ favorite characters.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s latest release is aptly named as this story is indeed about Mending Fences. Not only figuratively but literally as well. Fans of this author may remember the troubled Luke Schrock from her previous novels that follow the Amish Stoney Ridge inhabitants. Readers follow as he tries to turn over a new leaf and make amends for the pain he has caused.

The numerous series set in Stoney Ridge, are always a heartwarming reading experience and Mending Fences is no exception. I love the community this author has created and being reunited with past characters from previous installments.

Although some of the earlier decisions made might have been questionable, there was immense character growth throughout this novel. Not only from our main characters, but in those who were more secondary as well. The connections between different storylines, was well thought out and I enjoyed the different comparisons used in respect to Luke’s journey.

I am very much looking forward to the next installment in this Deacon’s Family series and would highly recommend Mending Fences.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Mini 5 Star Historical Fiction Reviews: March 2019

I was fortunate enough to read two books that I rated 5 stars during the month of march. Both of these books were historical fiction. Here are my quick thoughts.

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The Gilded Years
By Karin Tanabe

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Synopsis:

Passing meets The House of Mirth in this “utterly captivating” (Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House) historical novel based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar, who successfully passed as white—until she let herself grow too attached to the wrong person.

My Thoughts: The setting of Karin Tanabe’s The Gilded Years was of great interest to me as I am really drawn to books set in New York (state or city) during this time period. Life for young women in college, during a time when very few had the opportunity was fascinating. However it was the importance of Anita Hemmings story that really captivated me. Not only did she make strides during a time of women’s suffrage, but in the civil rights of her own people as well. The Gilded Age would make for a great book club selection as it will open many opportunities for discussion.

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To the Farthest Shores
By: Elizabeth Camden

Read by: Angela Brazil
Synopsis:
It has been six years since army nurse Jenny Bennett’s heart was broken by a dashing naval officer. Now Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher has abruptly reappeared in her life at the Presidio army base but refuses to discuss the inexplicable behavior that destroyed their happiness. Ryan is in an impossible situation. One of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring assignment, he accepted a government mission overseas that caused his reputation to be destroyed and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor bound never to reveal where he had been during those six years, he can’t tell Jenny the truth or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk. Although Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution, he can’t pull it off on his own. Loyalty to her country compels Jenny to help, but she never could have imagined the intrigue she and Ryan will have to face or the lengths to which they will have to go to succeed.

My Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed Elizabeth Camden’s To The Farthest Shores. There are many different aspects to this story that some may find overwhelming, but I enjoyed each part. The characters were very diverse with very detailed histories including a strong female lead. I was especially intrigued by the comparisons between the American and Japanese cultures. Angela Brazil was a wonderful and optimistic narrator for this audiobook and I hope to listen to more from her in the future. I would highly recommend To the Farthest Shores to fans of Christian historical fiction.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Sky Above Us (Sunrise at Normandy, #2) by Sarah Sundin

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The Sky Above Us
(Sunrise at Normandy, #2)
By: Sarah Sundin

Published: February 2019
Published By: Fleming H. Revell Company
Format Read: ARC, NetGalley, eBook, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance, Series

Rating: 4/5

I was sent a copy of The Sky Above Us (Sunrise at Normandy, #2) by Sarah Sundin, from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for a honest review.

Synopsis


Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights in the skies over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion.

Violet Lindstrom wanted to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub on base and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement.

Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Bestselling author Sarah Sundin returns readers to the shores of Normandy, this time in the air, as the second Paxton brother prepares to face the past–and the most fearsome battle of his life.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

The Sky Above Us is the second installment in Sarah Sundin’s series that follows the Paxton family. Tragedy sends them all their separate ways, however the impending Normandy invasion finds the three brothers fighting for their country in different branches of the American armed forces. This installment follows middle brother Adler and an American Red Cross worker named Violet.

Once again I was impressed by the authors knowledge of the invasion as well as the armed forces and Red Cross. I found the American relations with their British hosts to be especially interesting to me.

Adler was a more complex character than Violet. He had a tragic past that he was trying to avoid. I found his attitude in the early pages of this book to be terrible. Violet was more dull in comparison and I often found myself annoyed by her contradicting emotions. I didn’t enjoy their romance as much as I did with the couple in the first book. However they both showed good character growth.

Although I enjoyed The Sea Before Us, more than The Sky Above Us, I still loved the setting as well as learning about the Normandy Invasion from an Air Force perspective. I look forward to reading the third installment in the Sunrise at Normandy series, which is due to be released next year.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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Attachments
By: Rainbow Rowell

Published: 2011
Published By: Dutton
Format Read: Trade Paperback, Library Book
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis


“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you…”

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now—reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers—not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained—and captivated—by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Rainbow Rowell is an author I have been curious about after hearing a lot of rave reviews about her books. Although some of her more popular titles don’t interest me as much, the concept of Attachments caught my attention.


This is the first more current release that I’ve come across that is set on the cusp of the new millennium. It brought back memories of all the paranoia about what would happen when the clock struck midnight. I could also relate to the early days of the internet and embracing the new ways of communicating and gathering information.


For the most part I found this novel to be quite slow, although I did enjoy the tone and humor of Rainbow Rowell’s writing. It wasn’t until nearer to the end that I really started to realize how much I liked the main character Lincoln. In fact he might just be my new fictional crush.


I would recommend Attachments by Rainbow Rowell to fans of contemporary romance.