Sunday, November 24, 2019

Chateau Wedding
Tess Thompson
This sweet novella takes us to the Loire Valley in France for the dream wedding of Pepper and Stone.  Pepper, Lisa and Maggie have been best friends since their college days and they come together with the loves of their lives to help make Pepper's fairy tale wedding come true.
It all seems like it's going to be perfect until a series of unexpected events start to happen and things go haywire!  But there is never any doubt that the Dogs, Wags, and Wolves will stick together and make this the wedding Stone and Pepper will treasure and remember all their lives.  That true love is in their hearts and that's what matters.
Thank you, Tess Thompson, for the gift of this story.  Not only is the cover beautiful but the story is perfect!
It's a Tess Thompson five star adventure with Cliffside Bay friends!
Thank you, Tess Thompson for the honor of this read.  All opinions and thoughts are my heartfelt own.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

True to Me
Kay Bratt

"Aloha......Most mainlanders were under the impression that aloha was the word used for both "hello" and "goodbye". But the article stated it was much more, that aloha meant "love," "peace," and "compassion." More than a word, a life of aloha meant the heart was overflowing, and when using it, one should be sincerely happy to see the person they said it to." This passage from the book spoke to me. It's how I feel when I am going to pick up one of Kay Bratt's novels. My heart is happy and overflowing.

True to Me is another GREAT read written by the talented and amazing Kay Bratt. She has such a gift of bringing the reader on an emotional journey and adventure with her characters. In this book, the journey is with the character of Quinn Maguire. The story starts out with her mother's death bed confession that rocks Quinn's world. This revelation had me shocked right along with Quinn.

Quinn has been raised by a very loving mother who gave her a great childhood and losing her is such a tragic loss. Her mother's last wishes were to be taken back to her homeland of Maui, Hawaii and have her ashes scattered there. Quinn has always been a bit self insecure but she decides she needs to do this without her longtime boyfriend, Ethan. The journey of self discovery and who the person Quinn is begins at this point. Not only who she is but who her family is. I was fascinated by how DNA lineage was written into the plot. How it was used to solve the mystery of Quinn's family and who they were. Ms. Bratt took me into an emotional adventure in the pages of this book. I loved the characters and how they connected with each other. Even the not-so-likable Ethan. He is part of who Quinn became in the end. I met amazing characters who blended together and I became attached to them.

Kay Bratt writes stories from her heart. I become a part of them as I'm reading them. Quinn's story is no different. Quinn's story is one of finding herself and who she is. The unbelievable events in her life that take her to become who she is meant to be had me captivated. The setting in the book was picture perfect by the descriptive writing talent of Ms. Bratt. I have never been to Hawaii but I sure have been on a virtual visit with Quinn and her close friend, Liam. I experienced the different traditions, customs and ceremonial events. I felt the time honoring reverence of them. It all came together to Quinn being true to herself.

I am very grateful for the opportunity of reading this novel. Kay Bratt brings it every time with her heart and emotions that pour out on the pages. I love this book and whether I'm saying "Aloha" at the beginning or "Aloha" at the end, it's a fantastic read in between.

I want to thank Netgalley and Kay Bratt for my advanced review copy of this book. All opinions and thoughts are my heartfelt own.  

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Jilted: Nico and Sophie
Tess Thompson
From the time Sophie was eight-years-old, she dreamt about who her soulmate was going to be. She recognized him as soon as she laid eyes on him. Nico. Now the challenge was to overcome the reservations and doubts he seemed to live with and carry. To convince him they belonged together. Is she able to cross the age barrier reasoning he's put up? She is an "old soul" and goes after what she wants. She is impulsive and driven, has no doubts and knows what she wants. And she loves and wants Nico.

Nico's been jilted and it's stingingly painful. He's afraid to put himself "out there" to be possibly rejected again. Just like he's been all his life. But who can resist the "warrior princess and gorgeous Sophie"? He was going to have to be strong and determined to not give in to her but is it possible? In his mind, he's not good enough for her. She deserves better that him. Oh, but how hard to resist her!

Ms. Thompson has once again taken me back to Cliffside Bay and drawn me into the pages of a story that is filled with wonderful characters. The story of Nico and Sophie brings with it unexpected surprises, drama, heartbreak and doubts. It's also filled with hope, excitement, love and some spiciness that warms you up. Ms. Thompson's writing brings all these things together in her storytelling talent in a book I couldn't put down. Then she brings in two characters I absolutely loved. Jen...the cutest little pup that won my heart along with Nico's. "Dogs made everything better.....dogs love unconditionally." I love dogs in books and Jen is perfect. And then there's Mrs. Coventry. She's an elderly, sprightly lady who sees that Nico and Sophie belong together. She has a plan to accomplish this and isn't afraid to set it in motion. She's full of energy and humor. She is such a fun character.

I love going to Cliffside Bay each time a new novel comes out in the series. Tess Thompson writes with such heart and soul that it emits from the characters. They have become a part of me and visiting, reconnecting and going deeper with new characters makes this series a fantastic read for me.

I am honored to have read Tess Thompson's Jilted: Nico and Sophie. I loved everything about the endeavor of Sophie and Nico to find their HOA. It pulled at my heart. I love going to Cliffside Bay and spending time there....and I'm excited for the next book in the series. Thank you, Ms. Thompson, for this wonderful read!

All opinions and thoughts in this review are my own.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

One For the Blackbird,One For the Crow
Olivia Hawker
I am in an utterly and hopeless book hangover after reading this book!  Oh! My! Gosh!  I am speechless!  I Just had an "experience"!  It was more than just reading a book.  It was like going into the pages and becoming a part of the story.  It was a complete bonding with the characters, the remote and endless landscape of the Wyoming territory and with the vegetation and animal life that dwelt within that habitat.   It was an unbelievable and unforgettable encounter with an epic read. 
I don't even know how I can write a review close to worthy of this book.  There are so many emotions  I felt that were as real as if I were dealing with them myself. This is the first book I've read by Olivia Hawker and I'm in awe of her talent to pull so much out of me with her extraordinary prose.  Each page in this magnificent novel drew me deeper into the lives of the characters.  I'm just mind boggled at the intimate and minute details that created a living journey for me to travel in the pages of this book.
There are passages that blew me away with the depth and meanings they held.  Passages that made me stop and ponder.  This is one that is particularly profound:
This is a dream Beulah is having about a worm eating the leaf of a beanstalk...."The worm moved its terrible jaws and spoke. God is said to be great, the worm told me, So great you cannot see Him. But God is small, with hands like threads, and they reach for you everywhere you go.  The hands touch everything-even you, even me.  What falls never falls; what grows has grown a thousand times, and will live a thousand times more.  Wherever hand touches hand, the Oneness comes to stay.  Once God has made a thing whole, it cannot be broken again." 
The characters are unforgettable people.  They are based after the author's ancestors and are truly unique and memorable.  I so appreciated the Author's Notes and Acknowledgement added at the end of the book.  It was so interesting how she developed and came to write this amazing novel.  This is a very lengthy novel but so worth every word that's written in it.  I truly didn't want it to end.  I want to thank Lake Union and Olivia Hawker for the extreme privilege I had of reading this book!  This is my honest and heartfelt review of a book that ranks as one of my top 5 this year.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Wildflower Christmas
Grace Greene

There is something very special about returning to Wildflower House in this third book of the series, a sweet novella that brings in the Christmas spirit. It's like walking into the pages of a warm and welcoming family story. It's wrapped in an old, historical house with sentimental memories of the past that draw the characters to gather in an emotional Christmas package of love, bonding, healing and creating new holiday memories.

I enjoyed reuniting with Kara Hart and catching up with some of the renovation progress to Wildflower House. The charm of the old vintage rooms that were decorated to perfection in Christmas lights, ribbons, trees, and festive holiday d├ęcor were a visual I walked into with ease. It was a magical wonderland that drew family and friends to celebrate Christmas together. Kara has planned a quiet and calm holiday season but the spirit of Christmas changes those plans in the walls of this historical home.

The characters in the book are easy to like and ones I loved getting into the holiday spirit with. Little Maddie Lyn is a doll and won my heart with her innocence and compassion. She is brightness that shines. As do most of the characters. The heartwarming love they all bring is touching and carries them through a bit of pain and heartache but with support and compassion together. There is a bit of a mystery that winds through the season that kept me hoping for happy results. It's a cast of characters that I enjoyed very much.

For a wonderfully delightful ushering into a Christmas of surprises, family reunions, and unconditional love for one another, this is a book to start the holidays with. I am so happy that I walked into Wildflower House and met up with the friends I have come to know in the Wildflower House series. Christmas is a special time of the year with it's traditions and memories. I am honored that I was taken into the pages of this book and spent time with these wonderful characters. Grace Greene has a talent to warm my heart with her beautiful writing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Growing Only Dandelions
Joan Hugues
"A brand new foundation is required since no matter how hard she tries to grow a beautiful, healthy garden, she always ends up growing only dandelions." There is so much to that sentence for me and how this book touched my heart and soul. Dandelions are most often thought of as ugly weeds but when looking at them closely, they are delicate, beautiful plants that have many benefits to them. This is Bethany's story. It's like a dandelion plant. It has complex parts. Roots that carry "ugliness" caused by an abusive father, a stem of friends and family that supports a flower that life is good, and leaves that bring nourishment with faith and belief in the promises of God.

Joan Hugues has written a touching and inspirational story through the character of Bethany Grant. This book took me into Bethany's life in deep and emotional ways that tore my heart apart through the years of her growing up and how events formed her emotions, fears, and feelings. The events in her life are all part of what makes her who she is and how she feels about herself. Her self perceptions are formed by her image of how she sees herself because of what happens to her good and bad. The people she encounters on this life journey also have an influence in ways she doesn't even realize at the time. There are reasons for people in her life that aren't evident until later on. All these pieces seem to be haphazard and just random but there's a purpose and reason for every encounter and incident in her life.

I believe in the message this book spreads through the very descriptive passages written by Joan Hugues. I felt as if I were entering the heavenly corridor with Bethany and experiencing the brilliant beauty that the author creates in the words and images. I heard the heavenly voices singing the beautiful songs of pure love. I met Beth's loved ones with the pure joy of reuniting in a perfect body and place. It was a visual in heart and soul into the hope of the promises of Heaven. Perfection intimately portrayed in the words of this book.

This book gave me so much to think about. So much to be grateful for in my life. That there is nothing that happens without a reason and that the people who are in my life are there for a purpose. There is hope no matter what happens and that there is a glorious, divine power who works in our lives. "We all feel ugly at times...…..I realize that I deserve love. Everyone deserves love, especially the love from within."

This story touched me deeply and truly is an inspiration. It is an experience I am very grateful and honored I took. I will look at the "dandelions" in my life in a completely new way because of the message in this book. I'm humbly thankful.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Everything You Are
Kerry Anne King
This is a story that took me into a book that is written with words but drew me into it with the power of music at it's core. Music is a universal language and speaks to the heart, mind and soul. This book did just that for me. I fell into the pages like I would at a symphony as a maestro conducts the orchestra to create magic and an experience in melodies and notes. It is a book that has a story that captivated me and kept me reading. Just as a great musical piece draws me to listen, this book drew me to turn the pages. I love the inscription at the beginning of the book: "Without music, life would be a mistake."-Friedrich Nietzsche"

The characters in this book are complicated but ones I found I connected to. Ophelia "Phee" MacPhee is a young eighteen year old girl and she inherits her grandfather's luthier business. As he's dying he has her promise to make sure Braden Healey, a young man he sold a cello to when she was young, play the cello or else a curse would cause terrible things to happen. Braden has a "contract between him and the cello, an idiot piece of paper he'd signed when he was still a child-rambling on about a curse that would befall him if he didn't play."

Braden Healey has a secret even he doesn't remember after a terrible accident. He can no longer play the cello because of the injury to his hands. He loved the cello and it was a part of him. He has a daughter, Allie, who loves the cello herself but life is turning tragic, her father has left her family when she needed him and now she is finding acceptance in all the wrong people, places and things. She's rebelling and wants her father only until she's "of age" and can be on her own.

The speaks, lures, draws these people to herself. It's like she has life, a soul. and the characters depend on her to breathe. Phee, Braden and Allie each have a connection to the cello in their own unique and intimate ways. How can these people find healing for all the hurts they have endured? Is it possible for the cello to mend the brokenness and pieces they each find their lives in?

This book looks at some very difficult subjects that cause divisions and hurt in families. Kerry Anne King addresses these issues in a sensitive and compassionate approach through the characters. It's a story about accepting mistakes, forgiveness of themselves and each other, supporting through love and devotion, and one of never giving up. Through hardships and addictions, loss of trust and forgiveness, fear of failure and then finding love, this book took me on the emotional "concert" of the character's journey. I felt that if I closed my eyes and just listened, I would hear the cello calling along with Phee, Braden and Allie. This book is marvelously and beautifully written. The passages are musical artwork in written words. Music penetrates deeply and so does love. This is found in "Everything You Are" written by the very talented story creator, Kerry Anne King. I highly recommend this book!

Chateau Wedding By Tess Thompson This sweet novella takes us to the Loire Valley in France for the dream wedding of Pepper and Stone.  ...