Book Review: The Cliff House by RaeAnne Thayne

cliff house

Goodreads Summary:

After the death of their mother, sisters Daisy and Beatriz Davenport found a home with their aunt Stella in the beautiful and welcoming town of Cape Sanctuary. They never knew all the dreams that Stella sacrificed to ensure they had everything they’d ever need. Now, with Daisy and Bea grown, it’s time for Stella to reveal the secret she’s been keeping from them—a secret that will change their family forever.

Bea thought she’d sown all her wild oats when she got pregnant far too young. The marriage that followed was rocky and not destined to last, but it gave Bea her wonderful, mature, now eleven-year-old daughter, Marisol. But just as she’s beginning to pursue a new love with an old friend, Bea’s ex-husband resurfaces and turns their lives completely upside down.

Then there’s Daisy—sensible, rational, financially prudent Daisy. She’s never taken a risk in her life—until she meets a man who makes her question everything she thought she knew about life, love and the power of taking chances.

In this heartwarming story, Stella, Bea and Daisy will discover that the path to true happiness is filled with twists and turns, but love always leads them back home.

My Thoughts:

This book had a different feel from the other books I have read by Thayne. Her books have a certain essence about them, quirky, feel good, small town. The Cliff House felt more serious, although still had that small town goodness I love. While this book was a little different, I still very much enjoyed it – actually, I really came to like the change!

Stella, Bea, and Daisy are three women who deal with some real world big issues.  Stella raised her two nieces, Bea and Daisy, after their mother passed away – but as her sister was a bit wild and a bit lost, she didn’t know that her sister had died until Daisy and Bea had spent a year in foster care, in separate houses. When Stella found out, she dropped all her life plans and took her nieces in, raising them although she was just a young woman really herself.

Daisy is a tightly controlled woman, a widow at a young age, after marrying a man older than her who had had a terminal disease. She keeps her emotions in check, and views herself as the sensible one, while her sister Bea is artistic and creative and follows her heart and emotions. Well, with one exception that she means to change until her ex-husband Cruz steps back into the picture.

There is so much rich backstory in this novel, and I don’t want to give too much away. So many layers to uncover as you read, and I would hate to take away from those revelations as they occur. However, I will say that all three of these women are at a crossroads – and have some secrets that they need to share.

My favorite story line was Stella’s. Stella is forty, and we find out right away that she is pregnant, something she had wanted for a long time. Stella is a teacher and foster parent, besides raising her nieces, and is such a nurturing, caring soul. I really could relate to her character, as I was considered a “geriatric pregnancy” since I was over 38 when I was pregnant with my son. Lol. I understand her fears and concerns and also her hopes and dreams. I found Stella to be beautifully written, and I feel that Thayne really understood this character very well to write her as she did, so perfectly. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy Daisy and Bea’s journey’s as well, but Stella’s spoke to my own heart.

I found this book to be a wonderful read – it had real emotion and soul, and I found these character’s stories moving, particularly Daisy’s and Stella’s. I honestly wasn’t super interested in Bea’s character or story all that much, but it did provide a less intense story line. Overall, I would definitely recommend this one! It is a moody read, not as lighthearted throughout, but has great heartwarming moments and a sense of family and love. I think this is a great read for anytime, but would be especially good on a rainy day with a cup of tea, a perfect book to sink into on a cozy day.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Little Bird Publicity and Harlequin!

Book Review: Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

sunset beach

Goodreads Summary: 

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

My Thoughts:

I love to read Mary Kay Andrews. Always a great warm weather location, interesting premise, and madcap, zany characters. I first started reading her when I found the Savannah Blues series, and haven’t stopped. When I received a free review copy from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley, I was so excited! I was feeling a bit down and out over this everlasting, non-stop winter we seem to be experiencing in Michigan, and I needed a bit of a Vitamin D boost, even if it was vicariously through fiction.

At first, it was not quite what I was expecting. Not quite as madcap and zany, there was a different tone right from the start. Poor Drue was going through one of the lowest moments of her life, losing almost everything in her life all at once. Her estranged father shows up to her mom’s funeral with an offer she thought she could refuse – until the rest of her world came crashing down, like the kite board that rendered her injured on top of everything else.

Drue reluctantly accepts the offer, which was sweetened by the prospect of living her in Noni and Popi’s cottage on the beach, where she had spent many a happy summer. The cottage needs some work, but in the beginning, so does Drue. I have to be honest – Drue kind of bugged me at first. She was a bit whiny, had a bit of a chip on her shoulder, and while I guess in part it was a well-earned one, she didn’t seem to be swayed by her father’s attempts to reconcile their relationship, and it just seemed sort of…bratty. And this character was over the age where that is acceptable. However, Drue’s wall starts to come down, and as it did, she was a much more likable character. Perhaps this was intentional by the author, for us to meet her in such a bad place, at less than her best, then see how she blooms as she heals.

Judging by just the cover, I expected a lot more beach time romance, and while there was a bit of romance, there was a lot more depth to this story as well. While working for her father’s law firm, Drue is drawn into two unsolved murders – one from more recent times, and another from 1976. The more I read, the more fascinated I was. There were a lot of layers to unwrap in both of these mysteries, and I loved when a new clue was dug up by Drue, who went to any length to find out the truth.

All in all, a bit of a slow start for me, but really picked up in the end. I didn’t want to put it down. I hope that Andrews writes more books involving these characters, as I feel that Drue has more adventures ahead of her!

 

Perfect Pairings – A Book and Toy Holiday Gift Guide!

It’s the holiday season! And if you are anything like me, you are not the shopping type! Lol. I don’t like to go shopping, and so I do 99.9% of my shopping for the holidays online. I don’t even Black Friday shop – that sounds terrifying! However, my husband and sister-in-law go every year together, early in the morning – my brother and I usually meet up for breakfast later in the morning. This year, I have more kiddos than ever to shop for – and isn’t that the best part of Christmas? The joy on kids’ faces is what makes Christmas, whether it is from the sheer wonder of the season, the decorations, the excitement, the family get togethers, and of course, for kids, no matter what we think or teach, it is in part, the presents. I mean, they are kids. It’s fine. I teach minimalism and mindfulness and all that to Wyatt but he is still 3, and toys are awesome. And that is fine too. There is always a balance! 

I love a good theme. I can’t help it. I like when my presents all match a central idea I have. And I thought I would share some of my ideas with you! I of course, always give a book. My cousin’s two children, the oldest in our family of kids, know without a doubt that their gift from me will contain a book. But I also love to pair the book with another gift, a toy or something else that goes with the book (gloves and Little Women for example, for older kids!) to kind of round it out. This year, I have my son, my three little nieces, two nephews, and a few of my cousin’s children to buy for. And I have had a great time compiling some ideas! Most of these are items I have bought for Wyatt or have on my list for another kiddo! 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for Usborne Books, a company I completely stand behind and love their products. If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay any more, but I will receive a small commission. I put an * next to the affiliate links. All other links are not affiliate. Thanks!!

For the Stargazer:

  1. GeoSafari Jr. My First Telescope   2. What Are Stars? book by Usborne* 3. Moon by Britta Teckentrup   4. Phases of the Moon Peg Dolls   5. Uncle Goose Constellation Blocks   6. Lottie Stargazer Doll 

For the Artist:

  1. Faber Castell Beeswax Crayons   2. The Day the Crayons Quit   3. Paint Me a Picture* by Usborne  4.  U.S. Paint Supply No Spill Cups  5.  The Usborne Big Book of Colors*   6.  Melissa and Doug Tabletop Easel

For the Dinosaur Lover

  1. Fossil Hunter Lottie Doll    2.  Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs  3. Dinosuar Party by Melissa and Doug  4. Melissa and Doug Dinosaur Play Rug  5. Dinosaurs Before Dark  6. Usborne Dinosaur Activity Pack*

For the Little Naturalist

  1. Melissa and Doug Binoculars   2.  An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth  3. Bug Hotel by Usborne*   4.  Melissa and Doug Bag of Bugs   5.  Melissa and Doug Bug C (just remember to free them!)  6.  Birdhouse by Usborne*

And there you have it! There are of course so many themes and options and books out there to choose from, these are just a few of mine. Have fun avoiding the crowds! 

Book Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane

snowfall on lighthouse lane

Goodreads Summary:

Lose yourself in the magic, charm and romance of Christmas in the Pacific Northwest as imagined in JoAnn Ross’s heartwarming Honeymoon Harbor series. 

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible…maybe even a second chance at first love.

My Thoughts:

This book was the perfect start to a holiday reading season line up. It’s not a Christmas book, although, Christmas movies of the Hallmark sort are talked about! It was a fun, easy read about starting over and reconnecting with the “one that got away”.

I thought Aiden’s character was great – a real hero, the epitome of what a sheriff of a small town should act like.  Returning to Honeymoon Harbor from a stint in the military and then as a cop in LA, he finds that being a sheriff of the town he grew up in suits him. He cares about his community, the people he serves, and despite the fact that he used to be a big city detective, he takes his new position very seriously. He is a family man, cares about animals, and is just a good guy. His past haunts him however, both in his professional life and the memory of the rebellious boy that he used to be, and he has some demons to work through and figure out. Jolene is a bit too blithe for me, or lacking something. I had a hard time connecting with her character – she didn’t seem to care much about some major things that happened to her at the beginning of the book, and it was kind of weird. She, like Aiden, is returning to Honeymoon Harbor after a long time living away, to be with her mother during a health scare. She is on the brink of beginning a new chapter in her career life as well, and is able to use her time back home to gather what she needs and really think about her options.

The two find that their connection is just as strong as ever, and can’t be denied. Both have ties to their past still lingering, and must deal with these issues as well.

Honestly, that is my only complaint about this book. I felt that there were way too many threads and plot lines going on – I think it really watered the book down a bit. Had there been fewer, Ross would have been able to really flesh out the ideas that were left. As it was, I felt some of the issues were a bit throw away, and when they would pop up I would be like, “oh yeah, I totally forgot about that”.

Otherwise, this book is a good solid read to put you in the holiday spirit without going overboard before the holidays, if you are waiting until after Thanksgiving to dive headfirst into the winter holidays. It is not a Christmas romance, but they do celebrate Thanksgiving!

 

Thanks for Little Bird Publicity for the chance to read and review this fun holiday read! I received a complimentary review copy from Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Some short and quick book reviews!

Hey all! I just wanted to share some short and quick thoughts on a few of the books I read this month!

ghostland

First up, Ghostland. This book was not quite what I expected, but I still liked it. It was definitely as it says in the title, more about the history than the ghost story. I found some of Dickey’s insights very interesting, especially concerning the country’s turbulent history with race, and how he feels that even impacts ghost stories. It was definitely an interesting read, although it did feel a bit long.

city of ghosts

City of Ghosts: This middle grade book was a delight to read! It was appropriately scary for the age level, and the book itself was pretty cool, even for me. I loved the whole premise, and definitely the location. I really liked that Schwab was able to work the definitions of the British/Scottish slang or language into the story without it being obtrusive. What a great idea for kids who read this book who may not be familiar with certain terms. (adults too!) Definitely a book I would have purchased for our library collection when I was working at the library. ( I used to work/run an elementary school library)

spellbook

Spellbook of the Lost and Found : I loved this book. It was a quiet book, a slow burner of a book, that works on you bit by bit. It’s not splashy. And it was so good! There were some twists and turns that I never expected, and I wanted to just keep reading to find out what the heck was going on! I thought the premise was unique as well. Overall, I really liked this read.

I didn’t get as much reading done as I wanted to this month, but life throws curve balls sometimes doesn’t it. Lol. And tomorrow is Halloween already! My favorite holiday of the year! It looks like we will be homebound, as kiddo is just getting over a fierce cold as is my husband, but I also love handing out candy. They are predicting rain though, so..it might be a pretty slow trick or treat night. Good thing I bought candy that I like….

Two Mini-Reviews: Where the Fire Falls and Dear Bob and Sue

It’s a rainy, dreamy, dreary morning here, but I’ve got my coffee and I am ready to review!

where the fire falls Where the Fire Falls is a book I picked up because I loved the first in this Vintage National Park series so much. I am a huge fan of National Parks, the wilderness, and throw in the vintage aspect and I am there. This book did not disappoint either. Olivia looks and acts the part of the oh so glamorous flapper, a good time girl and artist trying to make it big. She gets the offer of a lifetime when she is sent to Yosemite to paint for a travel magazine – an offer she can’t really refuse, located in the one place she said she would never set foot. Practicality wins, and her trip to Yosemite turns out to be a life changer, especially after meeting rugged, handsome outdoorsman Clark – who also happens to be a former minister. If you are apprehensive about reading a book with a little bit of religion, this book is a good one for you. The religious aspects are very well done, not super in your face, and fit the book and the scenery, settled into the beauty and majesty that is Yosemite. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! And seriously, isn’t this cover awesome?

dear bob and sue

Since we are talking National Parks, let’s talk about Dear Bob and Sue. Can I just fangirl a second? I totally loved this book!  It was chock full of real life moments, a real life relationship, adventure, laughter, and I learned lots of things along the way. Parts of the book made me laugh out loud, others made me think, and all of the time sparked my own wanderlust and desire to visit all of these parks as well! I learned so much, it inspired me to learn more about the places I read, and it certainly expanded my own to-do list. I highly recommend this book to anyone else who loves the outdoors and hiking and travel.

R.I.P. Readers Imbibing Peril #13

RIP 13

 

This is my favorite time of the year, where we wave goodbye to summer and ease our way into cooler weather, bonfires, apple orchards, pumpkins, cold weather clothes, and crunchy leaves.   Oh yeah, and lets not forget yummy coffee drinks and hard cider! I simply love autumn and Halloween, and I am excited to participate in this challenge again!
The purpose is simple – read a book
or books from one of these types:
Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.
And to have fun!
There are a few different ways to participate as well!
Peril the First: Read four books from the previously mentioned classifications.
Peril the Second: Read two books from the types.
Peril the Third: Read one book. 
Peril of the Short Story: Read some spooky short stories – E.A. Poe or Shirley Jackson would do!
Peril on the Screen: Something on a screen large or small, a movie or a television show, that is seasonally appropriate! 
Peril of the Review: Submit any short review that you have written 
I intend to tackle Peril the First, and read four books and also Peril of the Screen, especially once October is here. I love a good spooky movie (or two or three..)
I am not positive yet on what books I will be reading for the whole challenge, but to start things off I will be reading these two this month for sure:
Any “spooktacular” recommendations?