Review: The Cottages on Silver Beach, by RaeAnne Thayne

About the book, The Cottages on Silver Beach Cottages on Silver Beach

 

  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books; Original edition (July 1, 2018)
  • Publication Date: June 19, 2018

Years after betraying her, he’s back in Haven Point…and ready to learn the truth

Megan Hamilton never really liked Elliot Bailey. He turned his back on her family when they needed him the most and it almost tore them all apart. So she’s shocked when Elliot arrives at her family’s inn, needing a place to stay and asking questions that dredge up the past. Megan will rent him a cottage, but that’s where it ends—no matter how gorgeous Elliot has become.

Coming back home to Haven Point was the last thing bestselling writer Elliot Bailey thought he’d ever do. But the book he’s writing now is his most personal one yet and it’s drawn him back to the woman he can’t get out of his mind. Seeing Megan again is harder than he expected and it brings up feelings he’d thought were long buried. Could this be his chance to win over his first love?

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About the author, Raeanne Thayne RaeAnne-Thayne

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on: cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page, and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.

Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 40 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA® Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I reviewed another of Thayne’s Haven Point novels, Sugar Pine Trail, last fall, and really enjoyed the way she mixed a cozy small town environment with equal parts of romance and light suspense, so when I was offered the opportunity to review The Cottages on Silver Beach this spring, I was delighted to accept.

In this novel, we see Haven Point during a shoulder season – it’s not the height of summer or winter, when most tourists visit – and we are introduced to inn owner and fine art photographer Megan and her dog Cyrus. Megan has lived at the inn since childhood, and run it for most of her adult life, and it’s not just a job to her, it’s truly her home. In fact, she lives in one of the eponymous rental cottages that are part of the inn.

We also meet Elliot, FBI agent and popular crime writer, as well as the childhood best friend of Megan’s brother. He’s in town for a family wedding, and rents the cottage next door to Megan’s.

The romance that follows is very much the story of two adults who are attracted to each other, but have baggage they need to deal with before they can act on that attraction. It’s alternately sweet and frustrating, which is proof that author Thayne writes believable, dimensional characters: sometimes you’re rooting for them, sometimes you want to shake them so they come to their senses, and most of the time, it’s a combination of both.

I also like the way Thayne’s created setting of Haven Point feels like a real town. It’s just cute enough to be a tourist destination, but neither the town nor its citizens are without flaws, and that lends to the feeling that this is a place you could visit, if you just knew where to turn.

Overall, this is an enjoyable book, neither to sappy nor too suspenseful, but a perfect balance of both, making it the perfect summer escape.

Goes well with a fresh cup of hot coffee and a perfectly fluffy omelet.

 

 

Review: Night Music, by Deanna Lynn Sletten

About the book, Night MusicNight Music

 

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Deanna Lynn Sletten (February 18, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1941212336

 

1968 – 1971

Charlotte Parsons is devastated over losing her brother in the Vietnam War. Desperate to learn more about the war, she joins a group of college women who send letters to soldiers and befriends Joseph Russo, a young soldier. But a few months after they begin corresponding, his letters stop coming, and Char moves on, still confused as to why so many young lives are being lost so far away from home.

Two years later, Char begins college in her small Illinois town of Grand Falls. She’s been dating her brother’s long-time best friend, Deke Masterson, who is a senior in college and is deep into the anti-war movement. Char isn’t sure how she feels about the war. Then a stranger comes to town and changes everything.

Joseph Russo served in the Vietnam War, earning a Purple Heart for his injury as well as a life-long limp. He’s ready to put the war behind him. While in Vietnam, he’d corresponded with a girl from Grand Falls and he enjoyed reading about her idyllic life. When he’s discharged, he moves there to attend college. And when he meets Charlotte in person, he’s taken with her sweetness, intelligence, and beauty.

The battle lines are drawn as Deke resents Joe’s presence around Char. What started out as a well-deserved escape to a small town for Joe soon turns into a battle of wills between him and the idealistic Deke. And there stands Charlotte, right in the middle.

Night Music is a story about a moment in time when the world was chaotic and nothing was completely clear. In the midst of all the chaos, can Char and Joe find enough middle ground to fall in love?

Buy, read, and discuss Night Music:

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About the author, Deanna Lynn Sletten

Deanna Lynn SlettenDeanna Lynn Sletten writes women’s fiction and romance novels. She began her writing career self-publishing novels in 2012 and has since published several novels. Her latest novel, One Wrong Turn, is her third book published by Lake Union Publishing. Deanna believes in fate, destiny, love at first sight, soul mates, second chances, and happily ever after, and her novels reflect that.

Deanna lives in a small town in northern Minnesota and is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake.

Connect with Deanna:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


My Thoughts

I’ve been reading and reviewing Deanna Lynn Sletten’s work for years, so when she asked me if I’d consider reviewing her latest novel Night Music, there was no way I was going to say no.

Set in the very early 1970’s this novel technically qualifies as a ‘period’ or ‘historical’ work, and yet, it feels absolutely contemporary, showing that young people nearly fifty years ago (wow, that was hard to write – I was born in 1970) had many of the same issues and conflicts that we do today when it comes to war – when is it appropriate, when does it go to far – and the way we treat veterans.

As the granddaughter of a career Army officer and the daughter of an activist, as well as someone who is an activist herself, I was steeped in the concept of “love the soldier, not the war,” from an early age, and I completely related to the issues in this novel.

And yet, what Sletten has written in Night Music is not a war story, nor is it a political treatise. Rather, it’s a lovely novel about love – the love of home, the love of family, and the love we feel for friends and romantic partners.

As well, it’s a coming of age novel. The three central characters, Charlotte, Joe, and Deke are all college students. Charlotte is young, and somewhat naive, and her journey is one toward confidence and a stronger sense of self, but Joe and Deke are also coming of age. The former, in processing his experiences as a young solider returned home injured from Vietnam, and Deke, a an anti-war activist.

As usual, Sletten has given us characters who feel three-dimensional, a setting that is almost its own character, and a story that entertains while also challenging us to think.

Goes well with a burger, a beer, and a stimulating conversation. Or maybe a Hemingway novel.

Berlin Coffee Shop by Gerlis Zillgens, translated by Shamila Cohen #review #quickreview

About the book, Berlin Coffee Shop Berlin Coffee Shop

Follow Sandra and friends as they navigate life, love, and their late-twenties in Germany’s hip Berlin.In this episode, Sandra, a self-employed “finder of things,” is in urgent need of a “real” office. Her parents have suddenly appeared on her doorstep and want to see the workspace they’ve so generously funded. What they don’t know, is that Sandra’s “office” is just a table in Captain’s café, Coffee Shop, and she has used their money for other purposes. Nils brainstorms a quick fix: how about staging her best friend, Claudi’s apartment? There’s just one problem standing in the way: Claudi’s landlord. Things only take a turn for the worse when Captain tosses her and the Doric columns out of the coffee shop. Once again, Nils has a solution: the key to Captain’s storeroom.The Coffee Shop – a cozy café in Germany’s capital, Berlin – just happens to be the best office in the world. From here, Sandra practices her quirky trade as a “finder-of things.” She caters to customers who have lost or want to find something that’s missing from their lives. Doric Colums as an engagement gift? Check. Missing childhood photos? Done. But in her quest to grant other people’s wishes, Sandra suddenly finds herself in search of her own happiness – and of herself. Toss in a dead goose, and it’s the perfect recipe for romantic disaster.

Berlin Coffee Shop is a new digital serial novel for fans of “Sex and the City,” “Friends,” and “How I met your Mother.” The story is told in six parts, as each novella builds upon the next.

Buy, read, and discuss Berlin Coffee Shop

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My Thoughts MissMeliss

I downloaded this from NetGalley because I always love to read about coffee shop and cafe culture, and I was immediately hooked on this – part one of a six part ‘digital serial novel.’ I think it’s an innovative use of ebooks, as well as being a great story.

As someone who has been known to take up residence at a favorite table in a cozy cafe, I thought Sandra’s story, and her ‘office’ being just such a table was particularly relevant, and I found the overall story hilariously funny and very plausible for a heightened realty universe.

I haven’t read the subsequent five ‘episodes’ in this series, but the first one was presented in a manner that was quite cinematic. If this isn’t made into an actual tv show, someone should consider making it into a web series, because the characters were engaging, the dialogue (in translation) was snappy, and the premise is fresh and fun.

Goes well with a double cappuccino and a slice of cheesecake.

 

 

Star Trek: New Frontier – The Returned, Part 3, by Peter David #quickreview #netgalley

About the book, Star Trek: New Frontier – The Returned, Part 3 Star Trek New Frontier: The Returned, Part 3

 

  • Print Length: 171 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek (September 7, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 7, 2015

 

The final installment in a brand-new three-part digital-first Star Trek: New Frontier e-novel from New York Times bestselling author Peter David!

Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur are back, picking up three months after the stunning events depicted in New Frontier: Blind Man’s Bluff. Calhoun’s search of Xenex has failed to find any survivors, and now he is bound and determined to track down the race that killed them—the D’myurj and their associates, the Brethren—and exact vengeance upon them. His search will take the Excalibur crew into a pocket universe, where he discovers not only the homeworld of the D’myurj, but another race that shares Calhoun’s determination to obliterate his opponents. But is this new race truly an ally…or an even greater threat?

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

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My Thoughts

Peter David has long been one of my favorite writers of professional TrekFic – there’s a line he wrote decades ago about human male chest hair being for traction that has stuck with me for decades – so when I saw the last installment of the ebook trilogy in the New Frontier universe on NetGalley earlier this summer, I had to read it.

Very quickly, I realized that my habit of only reading TNG novels meant I had no idea what was going on, so I bought parts I and II of this trilogy and binge-read all three volumes. I was not disappointed. This series is phenomenal, and Peter David’s storytelling reminded my why I love his take on Trek. Captain Mackenzie Calhoun is a great addition to the Star Trek universe, and both his family and his crew (which includes someone I can only describe as a demigod) are people I wish we could see on television.

So good is his writing – and this trilogy in particular – that I didn’t mind a completely unfamiliar set of characters, although, technically, Robin Lefler (whom we met in Season 5 of TNG) was familiar, though this is a much matured Robin, one whose personal laws have had to be adapted to address things like lost love and motherhood.

Like all good Trek stories, The Returned (all three parts) isn’t just about space battles and meeting new aliens. It’s also about loss – the loss of home, the loss of family, the loss of love – and how we cope with it – do we commit acts of revenge, or do we rebuild ourselves, or do we allow ourselves to die a little every day, as we wallow in apathy? In the case of the characters in this trilogy the answer is “a little of everything,” but it all fits together in a way that resounds with emotional truth.

(Plus, there are cool aliens and space battles, after all.)

Goes well with sparkling Altair water and oskoid salad.

 

 

Blue, by Kayce Stevens Hughlett (@kaycehughlett) #review @netgalley

About the book, Blue Blue

  • File Size: 1490 KB
  • Print Length: 235 pages
  • Publisher: BQB Publishing (September 10, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 10, 2015

One insecure perfectionist. One guilt-ridden artist. One child-woman who talks to peacocks. A trio of complex heroines on separate journeys toward a single intertwined truth.Imagine living exclusively for others and waking up one day with a chance to start over. The terrifying new beginning reeks of abandonment and betrayal. The choice for Seattle resident Monica lingers between now and then. . .them and her. Izabel’s idyllic existence on Orcas Island is turned upside down during the birth of a friend’s child. Suddenly, pain rips through her own body, and life as she knows it shifts, hinting at a forgotten past and propelling her toward an uncertain future. On another island, young Daisy awakens surrounded by infinite shades of blue. Is she dreaming or has she stepped through the portal into a fantastical land where animals spout philosophy and a gruesome monster plots her destruction? Blue – a subtle psychological mind-bender where each heroine is her own worst enemy. Eccentric. Loveable. Unforgettable.

Buy, read, and discuss Blue

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About the author, Kayce Stevens Hughlett Kayce Stevens Hughlett

Kayce Stevens Hughlett is a soulful and spirited woman. In her roles as psychotherapist, life coach, author, spiritual director, and speaker, she invites us to playfully and fearlessly cross the thresholds toward authentic living. A strong proponent of compassionate care in the world, Kayce’s live and online work focuses on the principle that we must live it to give it. Her early career began with a multi-national accounting firm to be later refined as the path of an artist. She delights in walking alongside others as they explore and unearth their own pathways toward passionate living.

Kayce is a Certified Martha Beck Life Coach and holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. She is the co-author of “Arts Centered Supervision” published in Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Expressive Arts to Spiritual Direction, as well as contributor to other collections and online publications. Kayce is a trained SoulCollage® facilitator, a dedicated supporter of the Soltura Foundation, and co-founder of the Soul Care Institute–a professional development program facilitating the formation, nourishment, and deep inner work of soul care practitioners. Raised in the heartland of Oklahoma, she now resides in Seattle, Washington with her family and muse, Aslan the Cat.

Connect with Kayce

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

My friend Debra mentioned to me that one of her other friends had recently published a novel. “You read a lot,” she said, “you might like it.” I immediately went looking for that novel – Blue – on NetGalley, and was approved for an advance e-copy, which I devoured in one afternoon. Then I ‘met’ the author through our mutual participation in one of Debra’s projects, and asked her if she’d prefer a specific date for the review. She chose August 20th.

Weeks after reading Blue, there are several things that linger with me, the strongest being the use of the color, blue, as the through-connection in this novel which is really the story of three different women, Monica, Izabel, and Daisy.  I’m hesitant to elaborate because I don’t want to spoil anything, but Hughlett showed how good she is with crafting plot and writing nuances with that element.

All three women had distinct personalities, and I really liked the way each interacted with the world on her own (apparent) terms, but also had some kind of secret lurking. I wouldn’t consider this novel an out-and-out mystery, but it definitely had mysterious elements.

I find that it’s easier for me to treat Monica and Izabel’s sections as one unit for purposes of review -these women were both obviously hurting, and obviously seeking things they weren’t ready to admit they needed. I found that their lives were rich and interesting and yet felt incomplete. Each lived in surroundings that completely suited her. With Izabel, I was reminded of the line from the movie The Wedding Date about how every woman has the relationship she wants.

Daisy’s story, on the other hand, was completely surreal with talking animals and a personal island paradise. My vision of her story is blend of Chagall’s art and Lewis Carroll’s stories, except that she was a lot more introspective and interesting than Alice. (Of course, Alice was a child, so…there’s that.)

Overall, I found Hughlett’s writing voice to be engaging and interesting. The opening of the novel confused me a little, but also hooked me, and made me want to figure everything out.  Her characters – even the animals – felt very real. The three central women were especially dimensional.

In anyone else’s hands, the same story would have descended into cheap comedy or depressing sadness. From Kayce Stevens Hughlett’s deft hands comes, instead, a novel that manages to be poignant, compelling, puzzling, engaging, and incredibly readable.

Goes well with lemonade, blueberry pound cake, and fresh fruit, served al fresco in a lush garden.

 

 

 

Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Marty Wingate #review @netgalley #comingsoon

About the book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place Between a Rock and a Hard Place

  • Publisher: Alibi (August 4, 2015)
  • Pages: 288

Perfect for fans of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, Marty Wingate’s enchanting Potting Shed Mystery series heads to Scotland as Pru Parke plans her wedding . . . all while a vengeful murderer is poised to strike again.

After her romantic idyll with the debonair Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse culminates in a marriage proposal, Pru Parke sets about arranging their nuptials while diving into a short-term gig at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. At hand is the authentication of a journal purportedly penned by eighteenth-century botanist and explorer Archibald Menzies. Compared to the chaos of wedding planning, studying the journal is an agreeable task . . . that is, until a search for a missing cat leads to the discovery of a dead body: One of Pru’s colleagues has been conked on the head with a rock and dumped from a bridge into the Water of Leith.

Pru can’t help wondering if the murder has something to do with the Menzies diary. Is the killer covering up a forgery? Among the police’s many suspects are a fallen aristocrat turned furniture maker, Pru’s overly solicitous assistant, even Pru herself. Now, in the midst of sheer torture by the likes of flamboyant wedding dress designers and eccentric church organists, Pru must also uncover the work of a sly murderer—unless this bride wants to walk down the aisle in handcuffs.

Buy, read, and discuss Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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About the author, Marty Wingate Marty Wingate

Marty Wingate is the author of The Garden Plot and a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Potting Shed mysteries are planned.


My Thoughts

This is the third in Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed Mystery series, and the first I didn’t get via TLC Book Stores, but direct from Alibi through NetGalley. I love the series – solid mysteries with just enough romance to keep things interesting, but this one didn’t wow me as much as the first two, and I think it was because Pru spent so much time doing research, and so little time doing actual gardening. In past novels, I was treated to descriptions of lush gardens, so vividly represented by the author’s text that at times I could feel the wet ground beneath my feet, and smell the fresh soil or sweet blossoms. In this novel, there isn’t as much of that, and I found that the gardening, indeed the gardens, had become additional characters.

Aside from that, this is a lovely novel, the perfect read for a cozy rainy weekend, or even a lazy evening in the tub. I enjoyed visiting with Pru and Christopher again, and seeing the evolution of their relationship, but I also enjoyed meeting some new friends – Madame Fiona, the dressmaker, and Marcus, Pru’s old friend from back home (and her ex) – stand out. We also got to see her friend Jo once more, and I’d forgotten how much I’d enjoyed the interaction of the two women.

The mystery itself was solid as ever. I’m sorry we didn’t get more scenes in the Botanic Gardens, but I was kept guessing whodunnit through most of the novel, and was happy with the resolution of the puzzle. Pru’s detection skills were absolutely on point, and I felt the jeopardy she was in growing throughout the story.

Three books in, spending time with a Potting Shed Mystery is as satisfying as spending the afternoon with a group of friends at a favorite pub. Comfortably familiar but with no shortage of new stories to share. I’m looking forward to book four.

Goes well with Split pea soup with ham, and cheddar bread fresh from the oven.

That Chesapeake Summer, by Mariah Stewart #review #ChesapeakeDiaries @NetGalley

About the book, That Chesapeake Summer That Chesapeake Summer

  • Series: The Chesapeake Diaries
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (June 23, 2015)

From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the latest book in her celebrated Chesapeake Diaries, a small-town romance series in the tradition of Barbara Freethy, Susan Mallery, and Robyn Carr.

Jamie Valentine is the wildly successful author of self-help books advocating transparency in every relationship. But when her widowed mother passes away unexpectedly, Jamie discovers her own life has been based on a lie. Angry and deeply betrayed, she sets out to find the truth—which may be in a small town on the Chesapeake Bay. Cutting her most recent book tour short, Jamie books a room at the Inn at Sinclair’s Point, just outside St. Dennis.

The death of Daniel Sinclair’s father forced him to take over the family inn, and his wife’s death left him a single parent of two children, so there’s little room for anything else in his life. His lovely new guest is intriguing, though, and he’s curious about the secret she’s clearly hiding. But in the end, Jamie and Dan could discover the greatest truth of all: that the search for one thing just might lead to the find of a lifetime—if you keep your heart open.

Buy, read, and discuss That Chesapeake Summer

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About the author, Mariah Stewart Mariah Stewart

MARIAH STEWART is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories.  A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens.

Connect with Mariah

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts MissMeliss

My last visit to Mariah Stewart’s fictional bayside town of St. Dennis, MD was in February, 2014, when I reviewed At the River’s Edge which, I think, was book seven or eight in the series. I enjoyed that book (and its predecessors) so much that I couldn’t refuse to be part of a blog tour for the latest installation.

As someone who has always loved staying in boutique inns and bed-and-breakfasts, and who has also fantasized about running one, I really loved that so much of this novel, That Chesapeake Summer centered around an inn.

I really loved how delicately the loss (off-screen) of Jamie’s mother was handled, and how close the rest of her family was. I would have loved to make her a pot of tea and a tray of scones and assure her that writer’s block is only ever temporary and that everything would eventually work out.  I also really liked the character of Daniel, and his interaction with his children was very real, and never strayed into saccharine, the way so many scenes with children can.

I’ve spent enough time in the virtual village of St. Dennis that by now I recognize familiar faces and old haunts, and Stewart, as ever, manages to balance old characters and new with poise and grace. The women always feel like distinct people, the men never feel like cookie-cutter romance novel heroes, but have dimension, and the town, of course, is the one we wish we could all live in, if only for a summer.

If I could check into the Inn at Sinclair’s Point for a week or two, I’d leave tomorrow.

Goes well with Eggs Benedict served on Maryland Crab Cakes instead of English Muffins, and freshly brewed coffee.


Mariah Stewart’s Blog Tour Summer Hat

►6/22:                 Harlequin Junkies

►6/23:                 USA Today’s Happy Ever After

►6/24:                 Reviews from the Heart

►6/25:                 Booked on a Feeling

►6/26:                 From L.A. to LA

►6/27:                 From the TBR Pile

►6/28:                 Abigail Books Addiction

►6/29:                 Romancing the Book

►6/30:                 Bibliotica

►7/1:                   Four Chicks Flipping Pages

►7/2:                   The Lovely Books

►7/3:                   Sara’s Organized Chaos

►7/6:                   Reviews by Crystal

►7/8:                   Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

►7/9:                   Bookfan

►7/10:                 Emily-Jane’s Book Corner

►7/13:                 Literary Gossip

►7/19:                 Ramblings from this Chick

►7/26:                 Svetlana’s Reads

 

 

Paris Time Capsule, by Ella Carey #review @NetGalley @AmazonPub

About the book, Paris Time Capsule Paris Time Capsule

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 26, 2015)

New York–based photographer Cat Jordan is ready to begin a new life with her successful, button-down boyfriend. But when she learns that she’s inherited the estate of a complete stranger—a woman named Isabelle de Florian—her life is turned upside down.

Cat arrives in Paris to find that she is now the owner of a perfectly preserved Belle Époque apartment in the ninth arrondissement, and that the Frenchwoman’s family knew nothing about this secret estate. Amid these strange developments, Cat is left with burning questions: Who was Isabelle de Florian? And why did she leave the inheritance to Cat instead of her own family?

As Cat travels France in search of answers, she feels her grasp on her New York life starting to slip. With long-buried secrets coming to light and an attraction to Isabelle de Florian’s grandson growing too intense to ignore, Cat will have to decide what to let go of, and what to claim as her own.

Buy, read, and discuss Paris Time Capsule

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About the author, Ella Carey Ella Carey

Ella Carey is a writer and Francophile who claims Paris as her second home. She has been studying French since the age of five, and she has degrees in music and English. Carey’s work has been published in the Review of Australian Fiction. She lives with her two children and two Italian greyhounds in Australia.

Connect with Ella

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts

When I’m looking for a novel to read, the three things that always capture my attention are the beach, coffee, and the city of Paris. I saw Paris Time Capsule when I was browsing NetGalley titles, and downloaded it, and I’m really glad I did, because it’s a delightful story – part historical mystery, part contemporary romance, and made more magical by being set in the City of Light.

Author Ella Carey crafted this piece with a delicate hand – the characters never seem over-the-top, the descriptions of places and things are just vivid enough to let the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks, and the plot has just enough twists and turns to keep you satisfied without being frustrated.

Cat very quickly grew into someone I’d have wanted to meet for coffee: engaging, fresh, and very real. Loic, the man who might be the real inheritor of the Paris apartment the story is build around, is the kind of guy any woman would fall in love with, the perfect blend of sex appeal and mystique, and his mother was a delightful breath of fresh air. The supporting characters – Cat’s fiance in America, her wedding planner, and all the people Cat and Loic talk to during their investigation all felt like people you would run into, as well.

Of course, the apartment itself becomes as much a character as any of the humans, and I felt like I was there, blowing away the dust, peeking at the old papers, cataloguing each artifact of a life long gone.

Paris Time Capsule is the perfect novel for a rainy afternoon, or an early summer morning, or just any time when you want to go antiquing but don’t want to leave your chair.

Goes well with a pot of coffee and a chocolate croissant.

 

The Summer of Good Intentions, by Wendy Francis #quickreview #netgalley

About the book, The Summer of Good Intentions The Summer of Good Intentions

 

  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 7, 2015)
  • Publication Date: July 7, 2015

 

Cape Cod summers are supposed to remain reassuringly the same, but everything falls apart when three sisters and their families come together for their annual summer vacation—and they are carrying more secrets than suitcases.

Maggie is the oldest. She feels responsible for managing the summer house and making sure everything is as it always has been. But she’s hurt that her parents’ recent divorce has destroyed the family’s comfortable summer routines, and her own kids seem to be growing up at high speed. Is it too late to have another baby?

Jess is the middle sister. She loves her job but isn’t as passionate about her marriage. She’s not sure she can find the courage to tell Maggie what she’s done—much less talk to her husband about it.

Virgie is the youngest, her dad’s favorite. She’s always been the career girl, but now there’s a man in her life. Her television job on the west coast is beyond stressful, and it’s taking its toll on her—emotionally and physically. She’s counting on this vacation to erase the symptoms she’s not talking about.

The Herington girls are together again, with their husbands and kids, for another summer in the family’s old Cape Cod house. When their mother, Gloria, announces she’s coming for an unscheduled visit—with her new boyfriend—no one is more surprised than their father, Arthur, who has not quite gotten over his divorce. Still, everyone manages to navigate the challenges of living grown-up lives in close quarters, until an accident reveals a new secret that brings everyone together in heartbreak…and then healing.

Poignant, compelling, and so real that you could shake the sand out of the pages, The Summer of Good Intentions is by a rising star who aims her fiction square at the heart of readers who love Elin Hilderbrand, Dorothea Benton Frank, and Mary Kay Andrews.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

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My Thoughts

I’m an only child, so novels that involve multiple generations of families converging on a single location for an extended period of time always fascinate me, and that’s one of the reasons I requested this novel from NetGalley. The other is that I love ‘beach’ books, and I love all the authors referenced in the description.

This novel was both gripping and poignant – it opens with Maggie opening the house for the summer, and finding out that her recently-divorced father is slipping a bit – not taking care of himself – perhaps becoming unable to care for himself. The other two sisters are a bit less defined but this book is the classic example of three sisters forming a sort of mirror of the larger family, reflective, but also distinct, as each has her own angle, her own perspective.

I really liked that each sister had her own arc, and that their kids were allowed to be fully-fledged characters. I thought author Wendy Francis did a great job at creating dimensional characters who felt like people I might know.

Goes well with egg salad sandwiches and fresh lemonade.

 

Death By Coffee, by Alex Erickson (@AEricksonbooks) #review @NetGalley

About the book Death by Coffee Death by Coffee

  • Series: Bookstore Cafe Mysteries
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (May 26, 2015)

When Krissy Hancock and her best friend Vicki decide to open a bookstore café in their new town of Pine Hills, they decide to call it “Death by Coffee,” after Krissy’s father’s most famous mystery novel. Little do they know how well the name fits…

On their very first day of business, Brendon Lawyer huffily takes his coffee…to the grave. It seems he had a severe allergy to peanuts…but how could there have been nuts in his coffee? And who stole his emergency allergy medication?

Fortunately, Krissy’s love of puzzles and mysteries leads her not only to Officer Paul Dalton, but also to many of her new neighbors, who aren’t terribly upset that the book is closed on Brendon. But one of them is a killer, and Krissy needs to read between the lies if she wants to save her new store—and live to see how this story ends…

Buy, read, and discuss Death by Coffee

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About the author, Alex Erickson

Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty—at least in his opinion—quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration.

Connect with Alex

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My Thoughts

Every so often, I search NetGalley for books with ‘beach’ or ‘coffee’ in the titles or descriptions, because when I’m looking for escapist reading, that’s what I like to read about most.

Last month, such a search led me to Death by Coffee, the first entry in the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series by Alex Erickson, and it was as if this book had been written for me. The only thing that would have made it better is if Krissy’s pet was a stubborn dog instead of an evil cat, but what’s a fictional pet among friends, right?

I didn’t have a chance to dive into the novel until last weekend, but it was the perfect thing to read on a weekend when it was too hot to do anything but move from one air conditioned room to the next and maybe out to the pool and back. (Actually, it would also be the perfect thing to read on a rainy weekend, or a humid Thursday afternoon, or even a slow Tuesday night, but…I digress.)

I loved the concept of two women opening a bookstore/cafe as a way to escape from their existing lives and also make a living. I was immediately engaged in Krissy’s story – daughter of a famous mystery novelist, reeling from a romance gone wrong – these are common tropes that could feel cliche in another writer’s hands, but author Alex Erickson makes his main character so real, so vulnerable, that I couldn’t help but root for her. I wanted her business to do well. I wanted her to fall for the hunky cop (and have him fall for her as well.) More importantly, I wanted her to solve the murder of Brendon Lawyer.

While there was an element of Death by Coffee that was obviously setting up an entire series of books, I knew that going in, so it didn’t feel like there was too much backstory, or too much exposition. Erickson did a masterful job in creating a small town and the citizens who live in it, some apparently normal, others decidedly not, and I was strongly reminded of many of the small towns I’ve either lived in or visited over the years.

If you love books, coffee, and cozy mysteries, you will, as I did, find yourself hooked on Death by Coffee.

Goes well with: a grande flat white and a chocolate chip cookie. Obviously.