Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Overview

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends―and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made―though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself―or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

Review

It has been a few years since I have read Barbara Delinsky. But, I am glad I picked her back up. This story is in true Delinsky form. Great characters with a great story about heartbreak and healing are trademarks for Delinsky. I expericed a wonderful connection with Maggie. She is so broken and yet she has created a new world for herself. See, Maggie was in an accident a few years ago and her daughter was killed. Maggie was to blame and she has never forgiven herself.

Maggie is estranged from her family. Her mother and brother refuse to speak to her. And her marriage also fails after the loss of her child. But, just when she thinks she has overcome her past, in walks her brother AND her ex husband. This throws a huge kink in her anonymity. And…the anonymity is a huge part of her new life.

There are several story lines throughout this book. This keeps the reader moving along at a very fast clip. Maggie and Edward are great together. Both are broken and need each other to get through. Then there is Maggie’s good friend Grace. Her son has been arrested in a computer hacking scandal. But, Grace is hiding something, something very important.

This novel is a little long. It could have been shortened by a few pages. However, I enjoyed this heartwarming and heart wrenching tale..and yes it is both. This story pulls at your heart and makes you appreciate all you have.

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley for a honest review.

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Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger

Overview

In this new novel from the author of The Dressmaker’s Dowry, two young women two generations apart discover the joy and heartbreak of following their dreams. Aspiring Hollywood actress Violet makes a shocking choice in 1940, and seventy years later, Mari sets out to discover what happened on that long ago summer.

Santa Cruz, Summer 1940: When auburn-haired Violet Harcourt is crowned Miss California on the boardwalk of her hometown, she knows she is one step closer to her cherished dream: a Hollywood screen test. But Violet’s victory comes with a price—discord in her seemingly perfect marriage—and she grapples with how much more she is willing to pay.

Summer 2007: Single mother Marisol Cruz lives with her parents in the charming beach cottage that belonged to her grandfather, Ricardo, once a famed performer on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Drawn to the town’s local history and the quaint gazebo where her grandparents danced beneath the stars, Mari sells raffle tickets at the Beach Boardwalk Centennial Celebration, and meets Jason, a California transplant from Chicago.

When Mari discovers the obituary of Violet Harcourt, a beauty queen who died too young, she and Jason are sent on a journey together that will uncover her grandfather’s lifelong secret—his connection to Violet—a story of tragedy and courage that will forever transform them.

Review

This story rotates between the present and the past. It follows Marisol, a single mother, who is trying to save the historic gazebo in her home town. She uncovers an obituary about Violet Harcourt. Violet was a beauty queen who died tragically. Violet had a strong connection with Marisol’s grandfather and Marisol is determined to find out how strong!

First off…COVER LOVE! Isn’t this cover just wonderful!

There are some good and some bad about this read. I enjoyed reading about Old Hollywood. The name dropping and the old parties with the stars were so entertaining. I also enjoyed the creativity of the plot. I do not want to give anything away…but it is definitely a creative escape! Now…the bad. The author repeats several phrases over and over again in different chapters. This got on my nerves. Plus, the story also ends neatly wrapped in a perfect bow. It all just magically fit together, a little too perfectly.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a good read and I enjoyed the characters and the setting. The mystery around Violet is super good. Her storyline is the best of the whole book. Don’t miss this old Hollywood tale!

I received this novel from Edelweiss for a honest review.

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Bring me Back by B.A. Paris

Overview

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

Review

Finn has lied to the police. His girlfriend has come up missing at a rest stop. He was in the bathroom…or was he? He is now engaged to his missing girlfriend’s sister, Ellen. But, someone has begun messing with his mind. He is receiving strange emails and finding little Russian dolls everywhere.

The author leads you to believe many things about the disappearance of Layla. Finn is the last to see her. Did he or didn’t he? Did someone else? Finn is a strange character. He has a temper, a big, explosive temper. He is not a very likable person. And I am not a fan of his “now” fiancé either. Ellen is insecure and a bit of a whiner.

I enjoy the books by B.A. Paris. However, this one fell a little flat for me. I figured the plot out early in the story, probably because all her books are very similar. They are good reads, but all seem the same.

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Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shavis

Overview

Following the USA Today bestselling author of Lost and Found Sisters comes Jill Shalvis’ moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife.

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Review

Lanie finds herself in a real mess after her husband dies. Not only did he leave her a widow…he left several widows. Complete shock! She leaves her home for a job in a winery to escape the scandal and embarrassment. When Lanie reaches the winery, she is enveloped into one of the best families in fiction! I fell in love with the whole family! They are THE BOMB! They take in Lanie and make her feel special. Heck…they do this for everyone.

Lanie is having all kinds of confidence problems. She cannot forgive herself for being taken in by her past husband. She cannot believe she missed all the clues. This family, and especially Mark, help her find her way back to herself. Then…River shows up. This puts a twist in everyone’s day, week and month!

Well! I have never read Jill Shavis before! How have I missed her? I have no idea! I follow her on all her social media and she is hilarious and why I have not picked up one of her books is beyond me.

This book is so good! It is quirky, cute and so sassy! The characters are super. It is a feel good, heartwarming, summer read not to be missed. Any book which has you grinning all the way through is something special.

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The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall

Overview

From the national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes a moving coming-of-age tale set in the tumultuous sixties that harkens to both Ordinary Grace and The Secret Life of Bees.

Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.

If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.

Review

Tallulah just saw the news. She cannot believe it. Her little brother is being accused of murder. She must get home. Even though she has not seen him, or anyone in her family for years, she knows she must go back to Mississippi and face her past.

I love Tallulah. And I really do not know how to describe her. She has been hurt and is a damaged woman, especially when it comes to relationships. But, she is a character that loves with all her heart.

Tallulah had some hard times as a child. Her father suffered from a mental illness and her mother disappeared and reappeared so many times in her young life. Tallulah, her older brother, Griff and her southern bell grandmother did all they could to keep the family together. This is an emotional roller coaster of a story. Many places were hard to read and you just wanted to reach through the pages and give this family a helping hand.

As most of you know, I am a HUGE fan of southern fiction. Susan Crandall is spot on! Her southern characters and her descriptions of Mississippi, are all true to form! Plus, and this is a huge plus, Susan Crandall has the best prose! I know I am not supposed to quote an ARC. And it tells you right at the beginning of this book not to quote…well, I am still gonna do it. “Memories as thick as the air and mud and secrets of our Mississippi childhood sit heavy on my skin.”

DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!

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California Summer by Anita Hughes

Overview

The perfect beach read!” —Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House Reunion.

“Tender and triumphant…California Summer made my heart sing.” —Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of Between Me and You

Anita Hughes’s California Summer is a charming and beautiful love story about a former Hollywood producer who trades her cast list in for cookbooks in the hopes of following her dreams and finding new love.

Ben and Rosie are Hollywood’s newest director/producer dream team. After hitting it big at Sundance, it seems that their ten years of love and hard work are finally paying off. Rosie is happy making independent films, but Ben wants the A-List celebrity package: a house in Beverly Hills, fancy cars in the driveway, and his name on the biggest blockbusters. He’s willing to do anything, even sleep with the most famous producer in town, to get them.

Rosie is devastated by Ben’s affair, and she decides to take a break from show business. She accepts her best friend’s invitation to spend the summer at her parents’ estate in Montecito. It’s far away from L.A., the perfect place to start over.

In Montecito, Rosie meets a colorful cast of characters including Rachel, who owns a chocolate store, and Josh, a handsome local who splits his time between surfing and classic cars. Suddenly Rosie has new friends and a new purpose. She starts a business in the village, and her luck seems to be turning around. But Rosie knows all too well that success comes with a price, and the price might be losing love…again.

California Summer is a touching and romantic story about following your dreams but not letting them get in the way of love.

Review

Rosie and Ben have been together 10 years. They have just hit it big in the film industry. Then Ben has an affair and Rosie’s life falls completely apart. Thanks to her good friend Angelica and her family, Rosie starts to heal and turn her life around.

I have read several Anita Hughes books. This one fell a little short for me. Basically because Rosie is such a frustrating whiney butt! I just wanted to give Rosie a good punch upside the head. She made me want to throw this book out the window! If I heard Ben and I were going to….Ben and I did…one more time!!! She also overreacts in many situations in this read. So needless to say there are many many eye rolling places in this book.

Now that the bad is out of the way. There are lots of good parts to this read. I loved the setting of the small town of Montecito. I could just picture the store fronts and the picturesque streets. Also, Josh! Josh is the sexy surfer dude! He helps pick up Rosie and put her back on her feet. He can help me anytime!

The story is predictable, as many of these types of books are. But, it is a pretty good read if you can keep from slapping Rosie.

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Bookish Art by Jen Bissu

I just wanted to share some of the great book art by Jen Bissu. I discovered her on Litsy (and if you have not been on Litsy, you are missing out!) I love her work and I own several prints and even a pillow. Check her out!

Litsy handle: @BookBabe

Website: http://www.bookishart.com

Jen is a professional artist. She’s had a lifelong love of reading, and makes the bookmarks, prints, and other items on her Bookish Art Boutique website to bring her love of art and reading together and share them with the reading community. What reader wouldn’t love some art featuring books on their walls? And if you ever read print books, it’s always fun to have pretty bookmarks on hand. These are unique items you won’t find anywhere else!

If you’d like to contact Jen, you can reach her via email on her website. She’s always adding new designs and expanding her offerings, so check back often!

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