BOOK REVIEW: The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron.

This review is going to take a look into the world of historical fiction and castles. The Painted Castle is the third and final novel in Kristy Cambron’s Lost Castle series. I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was published October 15th and I highly recommend readers pick up a copy.

Kiera Foley had been working on a PhD in Art History when she was ostracized from the art world. She retreated back to Dublin and we find her working in the family pub when a dark and mysterious man shows up and makes her an offer. Little does she know, it’s an offer that she can’t refuse. She arrives in the English countryside and is delivered to a rundown manor housing a painting of Queen Victoria the she must study for authenticity.

This book tells the story of the manor and those that lived there in three different points in history. The life of the viscount and artists in the 1840s, the widow of the viscount and a base full of soldiers during World War II, and that of Keira in modern day, as they work to restore the honey cottage and beautiful library that was found bricked up on the premises.

Cambron does an outstanding job of using the three couples’ stories to create the big picture of one place throughout time. And although this book is categorized as Christian fiction, it is not as heavily based on the Christian faith as some. I think those that love to get lost in the English countryside and read about art would thoroughly enjoy this book. I will definitely be going back to read the first two books in the trilogy to learn more about Keira’s mysterious brothers.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell.

I recently finished reading Songs from the Deep, a debut Young Adult novel written by Kelly Powell. It was a book I selected for the leisure reading collection at the academic library I work at and I was looking for something to read over our holiday break. Songs from the Deep did not disappoint.

Songs from the Deep takes place on the island of Twillengyle which has sirens off its shores. The story centers on Moira Alexander a 17-year-old who follows in her late father’s footsteps in playing the violin, and advocating for the safety of the sirens. It also follows her former best friend, 19-year-old lighthouse keeper Jude Osric. Their father’s were best friends and they grew up very close, until Moira’s father dies and she finds something in his belongings.

Once upon a time the islanders hunted the sirens. But Moira’s father helped create a ban on hunting the creatures and they haven coexisted in an uneasy way since. Many islanders have lost loved ones to the sirens, and still occasionally islanders are injured. However, most deaths come at the expense of tourists who don’t know how to best protect themselves with a piece of cold iron.

But now, a 12-year-old islander is dead, and the sirens have been blamed, but Moira doesn’t by it. She knows how sirens attack, and the cut across Connor’s throat is too clean to be made by teeth and claws. Moira and Jude reunite in order to find the true killer, while trying to protect the sirens from harm by the islanders.

I thought this book was an interesting twist on the typical murder mystery that is ever so popular in books today. The characters were believable with real problems that were handled mostly realistically. It was a good departure from reality and had me wishing sirens were real. Here’s hoping Powell’s next novel is just as good.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Unmanageable by Lavinia Kent

This review is going to focus on Unmanageable by Lavinia Kent. This is the second book in her Forbidden Cove series. I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The main character of this title is lawyer Veronica Andersen. She lives in Forbidden Cove and commutes daily to the city. Sometimes it’s hard for her to get back home with work events at night, which makes it hard for her to care for her dog she got from her brother after he passed away in a car accident. She’s hired a neighbor to walk her dog when she needs it.

But when she opens the door she doesn’t find the older woman she’s expecting. She finds the woman’s nephew, the sexy Brian Walsh. The two feel an immediate connection, and after an initial hook-up Veronica invites him to be her date to her sister’s wedding.

The two insist they don’t want anything serious, and Veronica doesn’t take the time to get to know Brian. She even judges him for his current lifestyle of being a dog walker and doing sunset yoga on the beach.

But what she doesn’t know is that he was a star goalie in the NHL until a recent injury ended his career. Eventually the two can’t be kept apart and they work on their differences and learn about each other.

This was a fun, interesting read, and I will definitely be picking up other titles in this series.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Husband Material by Emily Belden

This review will take a look at the book Husband Material by Emily Belden. I received an eARC of this romance through NetGalley. It’s release date is December 30, 2019, and I encourage romance fans to pick it up once it is released since I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Belden’s charming story Husband Material centers on Charlotte Rosen, a 29-year-old with a secret she has worked hard to keep from literally everyone in her life. She works in data and risk analysis, and surrounded herself with learning to avoid her past. Other than her cute dog, and weekly phone calls with her mom, Charlotte has also effectively removed all contact with people in her past life from her life.

But life has a way of giving you lemons when you least want to deal with them. An unexpected package brings Charlotte crashing into her past and reeling about how to deal with its contents five years after tragedy struck. This brings her back in touch with friends and family she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years, and stirs to life past emotions that Charlotte needs to handle.

Can Charlotte learn to forgive those from her past, and move forward in life? I found this romance had so many layers to it than just your typical romance normally has. Charlotte must deal with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness, while chasing a future of happiness. It was a touching read, so I hope you’ll grab a box of tissues and read a copy of Husband Material by Emily Belden.

Happy Reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han.

This is the third book by Jenny Han in her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, and it’s titled Always and Forever, Lara Jean. This part of the story takes a look at LJ’s senior year and what her future in college may look like.

In this plot line we know that Peter won Lara Jean’s heart, and not John Ambrose at the end of the second book. It is now senior year and there are so many activities happening all at once. This includes a class trip to New York City (seriously?!), prom, Beach Week after graduation (again…seriously!?), and we can’t forget her father’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. On top of all of this though, is applying for college and of course, picking a school.

What could possibly go wrong!?

Well, for starters, Margot can’t stand Ms. Rothschild, and she’s pretty vocal about it. She got used to filling their mom’s shoes and taking care of everyone after their mom passed away, and even though she’s away at college, she doesn’t like the idea of another woman filling those roles.

Lara Jean being the anxious over thinker that she is doesn’t let her senior year with Peter go smoothly. Constantly trying to figure out how things could go wrong, they do, as she starts fights that don’t necessarily need to be there. I remember constantly thinking–USE YOUR WORDS and talk to each other instead of thinking about your side only.

The major drama occurring in this installment is that of what college to attend, and will she go to the same school as Peter? Peter has a full ride lacrosse scholarship to the University of Virginia (UVA). The original plan is that they will attend there together, but then Lara Jean receives word that she’s no longer on the wait list for the University of North Carolina (UNC), and has now been accepted.

Where will Lara Jean decide to go? And what will that mean for her relationship with Peter? Could it be something that one last contract would solve?

I enjoyed this book, and the entire trilogy very much. This story was a very fitting, and thoughtful ending to Lara Jean’s story. I hope you all enjoy it too!

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han.

This review is going to take a look at the second installment in Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series; P.S. I Still Love You. Netflix just released the trailer for its sequel adaptation.

In this second book, Lara Jean realizes that she has fallen for Peter. The plot points at the beginning of this book take place in the first film. It begins with the viral posting of Lara Jean in the hot tub with Peter. Lara Jean feels insecure by the rumors that start flying around school and decides to stay away from Peter despite her feelings for him.

When Margot is preparing to return to college after her holiday break, she suggests that Lara Jean get a job to fill her time so that she can get over Peter. Lara Jean begins volunteering at Belleview, the local retirement home. At Belleview she meets a feisty old lady named Stormy who teaches LJ about life.

Lara Jean’s little sister, Kitty, who was just a baby when their mother passed away spends a good portion of this book trying to set up their father with their neighbor Trina.

Unlike in the film, by the end of the first book she hasn’t gotten a surprise visit from the last person she sent a letter to: John Ambrose McClaren. In the book he writes back to her and the two become pen pals. She invites him to a party of all of their old friends group from middle school when she learns that the neighborhood treehouse that they used to hang out in will be torn down. The group also decides to play a game of Assassins.

While Peter and Lara Jean are trying to make each other jealous and fighting LJ gets to know John Ambrose again, and finds out that he is Stormy’s grandson. He begins to spend more time at the retirement home and LJ takes him out in the game of Assassins.

Lara Jean and Peter eventually talk about their problems and he confesses that Genevieve’s father is having an affair and she’s having a hard time with it. Peter tells LJ that he loves her.

I enjoyed reading this book, and it was yet another page turner. I can’t wait to review the third book!

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

This review will focus on To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. It is the first installment in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy and was published in 2014. If you haven’t heard of it, I recommend you dig yourself out of the hole you’ve been living in and read the book, and watch the Netflix adaptation before it’s sequel airs.

I watched the Netflix adaptation before I read any of the books. But once I started the book, I couldn’t put it down. It was a great decision of mine to buy all three books at once because I read them all very quickly.

This story centers on Lara Jean, a 16-year-old that is dealing with her older sister going away to college, being the only big sister at home for her little sister, missing her mother that passed away when she was little, and everything a typical teenage girl worries about. She typically hides her feelings, and in the case of any major crush she has had–she wrote a letter to that boy, but never sent it.

Somehow, her hatbox of letters has been mailed out and each boy approaches her about her letter. Josh, her sister’s ex-boyfriend is hurt by the letter, as he’s still grieving over the loss of his relationship with her sister. He doesn’t know what he’s feeling, but he turns on the over protective act when Peter shows up.

Peter is the first boy that Lara Jean ever kissed during a game of spin the bottle. He has had a long term relationship with Lara Jean’s ex-best-friend, but with that relationship on the rocks, Peter figures he can use Lara Jean to make his ex jealous, and Lara Jean figures she can hide from Josh this way. So Lara Jean and Peter write out a contract laying out the terms to their fake relationship.

Obviously, along the way they fall for each other, but they are both too proud to admit it, and have their own ways of hurting each other when they think it’s all for show and not real.

I really enjoyed this book, and although the characters have their problems to work out, overall it was a light, quick read. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out so I can see how it compares to the second book.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Let It Snow by Nancy Thayer

This review is going to take a look at Nancy Thayer’s latest Christmas novel, Let It Snow. This book was released on October 15, 2019, so it’s available for all of you looking for more holiday reads as we get closer to Christmas! I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Let It Snow is set on the lovely island of Nantucket, and follows shopkeeper Christina Antonioni, and her fellow three shopkeeper friends, and the family of their landlord–the Bittlesmans. Christina is a likable thirty year old woman who has recently lost both of her parents. She runs a toy store on the wharf in a shed with heat provided by an electric heater.

Every day for lunch she meets with the other wharf shopkeepers for lunch. Oscar Bittlesman has sent a letter to them all that he will be increasing their rent by 10%, a sum that will put them all out of business.

In time, Christina meets Wink, Oscar’s granddaughter, and puts her to work in her shop. She also meets Wink’s handsome uncle, Andy. Through the book Christina spends a lot of time with Wink and Andy, and falls for Andy. It’s a cute story and it spends time showing what small town life on the island is like.

Much of the story is spent trying to get Oscar to realize what the wharf stores are like so he won’t raise the rent. But honestly, the rent problem doesn’t seem to be as realistic of a problem to me as the problems in the book from my review earlier this week. By the end of the book Christina is engaged to Andy and would no longer have the financial issues if Oscar raised the rent. Her fellow shopkeepers would have the problem, but because they aren’t the main characters the consequences of the stores closing is glossed over.

Also, I had a hard time believing some things. Yes, she lives on a small island, but she’s also thirty. I don’t think that she was written like a thirty-year-old. Other than finding a partner, and having children her life is completely settled.

I enjoyed the romantic plot of Christina and Andy, and really enjoyed the storyline between Christina and Wink. I think readers looking for a light holiday romance would enjoy this.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Weekend Fling by Stacey Lynn

This post is going to dive into Stacey Lynn’s 4th novel in her Crazy Love series. The book is titled Weekend Fling. I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Willow Parks is the female lead in this story. She has her own part-time editing business, and also works in a coffee shop on the ground floor of the building that sexy Trey Collins happens to live in.

Willow is busy holding down two jobs and caring for her mother and doesn’t have time to get back on the dating scene, but Trey has other ideas about that. He’s a self-made millionaire who needs a date to his best friend’s wedding. He’s been interested in Willow since he met her when she began working in the coffee shop, but she constantly rejects him. But Willow is at her breaking point with responsibility and admits she could use a weekend away from work, and caring for her mother. She agrees to a weekend getaway with Trey to go to the wedding.

She is taken aback by all the money she is quickly surrounded by. And while their relationship becomes quite steamy over the weekend, they both wonder if it could be more after the weekend is over.

During the wedding reception Willow receives a phone call from her friend Cara, who she asked to keep an eye on her mother for the weekend. Cara tells Willow that they are at the hospital. Willow becomes full of doubt about everything and also doesn’t want to throw all of her baggage on Trey so she tries to sabotage things on the relationship front so she can get a handle on all of her family problems.

I thought this contemporary romance had a bit more depth to it than a lot of others that I read, where the problem introduced to wreck everything is usually not as large, or realistic. Often when reading romance (as much as I enjoy it) I find myself saying… “That’s not a real problem…”. But this story reveals several problems ranging from self-doubt to financial problems, to mental health problems.

I honestly had a hard time putting this book down and I think anyone interested in contemporary romance would have a fun time with this one. It was released on November 26th so go get a copy! I can’t wait to go back and read the first three books in Lynn’s Crazy Love series!

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams.

This review is going to take a look into My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams. I selected this book for my library’s leisure reading collection and decided to pick it up to take a break from fiction real quick knowing that many of my ARCs are fiction.

Rachel was living in New York City and was working as a photo editor for Vanity Fair when Anna Delvey aka Anna Delvey Sorokin appeared in her life. Rachel was out with friends and met the socialite, who took a liking to her. Once that happened Rachel and Anna were practically inseperable.

Anna would invite Rachel to fancy meals, share her personal trainer, use infrared saunas, and more. The whole time, she led Rachel to believe she was a German heiress living off a hefty allowance, until her trust money came through. That’s when she went all in, inviting Rachel, her personal trainer, and a videographer on a vacation to Morocco. One small problem, she didn’t have the money to cover the trip.

Anna left all the planning until the last second, believing it would all happen. But then she got Rachel to book the flights. And then in Morocco, her credit card wouldn’t work, so Rachel put her card down thinking she would either be reimbursed by Anna, or Anna would get it figured out before they left, and she wouldn’t be charged at all. But boy was she wrong. She ended up paying more than $62,000 for the trip.

Once home, Rachel continually tried to get Anna to reimburse her to no avail. So she decided to look deeper into Anna’s background. That’s when the puzzle started to come together. Rachel testified about all of this in court and opened up about all of the problems she has had since falling for this scam.

This book was eye opening to how easy it is to fall for something one might hope is true. At the same time, while reading I continually had feelings of did you really not pick up any red flags before this trip? Maybe I am just more skeptical about things that appear to be too good to be true.

I think those that like reading celebrity memoirs would enjoy this book. It would also serve as a good–don’t fall for this yourself warning read. My Friend Anna was released on July 23, 2019. Go pick up a copy so you don’t fall into a similar trap!

Happy reading 🙂