Book Review: Summer at Lake Haven

Goodreads Summary:

Samantha Fremont may still be grappling with her mother’s death, but this summer she’s determined to build a new life for herself. Starting with making her friend’s dream wedding dress and establishing herself as a boutique fashion designer in the process. What she does not need is a surprise litter of puppies, the voice in the back of her mind saying she can’t do any of this—or her friend’s gorgeous brother who’s visiting from England for the wedding.

Ian Somerhill knows a sabbatical in Haven Point is exactly what his children need to recover from their own mother’s death. And even if he and Sam got off on the wrong foot, she has a way with Miranda and Thomas. As Sam—and her adorable puppies—bond with his children, they fall into a friendship unlike any he’s had in a long time. But Ian has obligations in England her can’t ignore—and a complicated past that might just stop this summer romance from ever blooming into something more.

My Thoughts:

Remember when you were a kid, and summer seemed to last forever and was all about playing outside, reading all night, fireflies and popsicles? That is what this book made me feel while I was reading it – like I was on an endless summer vacation. It was so light and easy and happy – plus, it had puppies and a rumply, British professor love interest…

Samantha is a romantic – how could you not be, if you are a wedding dress designer? She and her late mother used to run a boutique together – now that her mother is gone, the boutique is Samantha’s, which she runs while designing custom wedding dresses as well. Samantha is learning to live life out from under the shadow of her sharp tongued mother, who seemed to always have a derisive or mocking thing to say, even to her devoted daughter. Starry-eyed Sam, she would call her, making fun (and not in a lighthearted teasing way) of Samantha’s quick propensity to fall in love. So now that Sam is on her own for the first time ever, she is trying to override that little voice inside that wants to hold her back, that niggling of self-doubt.

When Ian and his family move in next door for the summer, Samantha vows she will not fall head over heels for this handsome, fish obsessed professor. She has learned her lesson. Ian has a past – and future – of his own that overshadows any hope of a relationship, the least of which is the geographical distance.

I enjoyed this easy little summer read very much – I love RaeAnne Thayne and Haven Point, so this was a sweet return to favorite characters. They just make me smile! And this book was no different. I loved seeing the evolution of Samantha and Ian, and also their own personal growth overcoming the history that is weighing them down.

All in all, a must read for your summer reading, whether you are on a beach or just at home!

Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A Death Long Overdue by Eva Gates

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From the Publisher:

When her former director is found dead in the water, librarian Lucy Richardson will have to get to the bottom of the mystery before the killer ends her tale.

It’s summertime in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Bertie James’s college class is having their 40th anniversary reunion. The opening night reception is held at the Lighthouse Library and Lucy and her colleagues have assembled an exhibit of library artifacts showing how libraries have changed over the years. After the reception, some of the women take a walk down the boardwalk to the pier, using flashlights to illuminate the dark path, but what’s scarier than the dark is finding the former director of the Lighthouse Library floating lifeless in the water.

Helena Sanchez, the former director, wasn’t much loved and spent the party being rude to almost everyone there. As a result, Lucy finds herself in deep water as she rocks the boat, questioning several suspects. But she’ll have to batten down the hatches and fast before she’s left high and dry…and right in the killer’s crosshairs.

My Thoughts:

I am so enjoying this series! I first began reading it last October, when The Spook in the Stacks was part of an autumn book display at my library. I picked it up, took it home, and haven’t looked back. The Lighthouse Library series is such an interesting and fun mystery series and I love the setting, an historic lighthouse on the Outer Banks!

Lucy Richardson has been living and working in the Lighthouse Library for a year now, and in that year, her coworkers, boyfriend Connor, and local police have all gotten used to her penchant for detective work. Maybe it is all the mysteries she has read, but Lucy has a knack for solving the crimes and unofficially helping the police. And the Lighthouse Library does seem to have some sort of unlucky star over it for some folks, as an unusual amount of people do seem to turn up dead near it.

This book is no different – following a class reunion at the Lighthouse Library, the former director, who was not beloved by her patrons or coworkers, was found dead in the water…and it was not an accident. Lucy’s irrepressible curiosity and clever mind lead her down many avenues of inquiry, some alongside Detective Sam Watson, others on her own. I particularly loved the ending of this book! Sometimes a series can grow stale, but this one just keeps getting better and better.

I loved this book, and found myself reading it whenever I found a few free seconds – not easy when I am also parenting a five year old during a shelter-in-place order! Despite that, I managed to read this book quickly – I had to find out the “whodunit”!  I think this book is perfect for summer reading at the beach, on a rainy day, or just whenever you need a great escape, and a mystery to solve. The literary references and adorable Himalayan Charles are perfect little added bonuses. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves a cozy mystery!

 

Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book!

 

Book Review Shorty: Wrapped Up For Christmas

Goodreads Summary:

Having lost her boyfriend, job, and apartment all in the space of a week, Angie has no choice but to leave California and return to her family in New England.

Determined not to let life weigh her down, Angie finds work at the local mall where she worked as a teenager. After an embarrassing run-in with a handsome stranger, Nick, she’s convinced her luck is about to change.

But Nick has secrets of his own… and as the first flakes of snow begin to fall, Angie can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever find love.

My Thoughts:

This book was such a perfect little holiday read, full of the Christmas spirit and happiness and joy. It is very sweet and tidy but the characters are adorable and you just are rooting for them the entire book.

Angie has a big heart, and a huge love of Christmas. She is back home after her life out in California has taken a wrong turn, both in love and career, so she is at loose ends. Despite these setbacks, she dives into Christmas with no reservations, and spreads her Christmas joy to everyone she meets, or at least tries.

Nick is also a case of once burned twice shy in the romance department. He is a sweetheart too, whose love for his dog is so cute. You just know he is going to be a good guy when you learn he has a babysitter for his beloved dog Charlie! He has his own hurdles to a happy life, but is also a positive, upbeat person. When their paths cross in a local coffee shop, the story is off and running and the reader just follows along happily, enjoying this sweet little story. I could totally see this book being turned into a Hallmark Christmas movie one day!

If you are in the mood for light and happy and holiday in spirit, this is the one for you! Perhaps enjoy with a few cookies or a peppermint mocha! (I did…)

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: The Secret to Happiness

Goodreads Summary:

Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets… Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend. Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through… When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it… 

My Thoughts:

The Secret to Happiness. Sounds like a self-help book, that will reveal all the ways in which you can find your way to being, well, happy. This book is not a self-help book, but is a lovely story of friendship, acceptance, and renewal. The author’s blurb states that Jessica Redland writes uplifting women’s fiction, and that is exactly what this is, uplifting.

This book was a great read! It focuses on the lives of three very different women, Danniella, Alison, and Karen. Danniella is a woman on the run from something, hiding her secrets, trying not to get to close to anyone. Alison is open and honest, with everyone but maybe herself. And Karen is a straight forward fitness trainer. The lives of these women collide in the small town of Whitsbourough Bay, in a bootcamp class. All of these women are dealing with something in their lives, and on their own, without a “tribe” for support. As their problems mount and finally all reach a breaking point, they turn to each other for friendship and support, and find their way out of their problems together. And maybe just maybe they have found the secret to happiness as well.

I loved reading about these women, the way they rallied together and trusted one another with some of the hardest issues in their lives. We all just need those friends that we can turn to and spill all to you – I know that I would be lost without my friends.

This was the first book I have read by this author, and I will be searching out her other books very soon! Thank you to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: Cherokee Summer

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Goodreads Summary:

When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend—until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John’s friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.

My thoughts:

I requested this book from NetGalley because I was in the mood for some YA and summer was in the title. Pretty simple stuff – but the story I got was anything but. I thought it was going to be a quick little fluff read, but this book dealt with some heavy, important themes that affect today’s teenagers. Alcoholic parents, racism, autism, abandonment, divorce, mental illness, personal safety, teenage sexuality. I wasn’t expecting the depth of the story that I got, but I loved it.

Taken apart, you might think it tried to cover too much, but Antony handled it all brilliantly and with great balance, sensitivity, and mindfulness.  The main character, Ace (love that name for her!), is mature far beyond her years. Her dad has checked out of the family, and is there but not really there. Her mother is an alcoholic, a family secret. Her younger brother has autism. And Ace is the glue to hold them all together, forgetting about her own needs, to tend to her family. Until this summer, when her father relocates them to the casino at Cherokee, North Carolina for the summer, and Ace meets John, a member of the Cherokee tribe, and another teen with more on his plate than he should have, and they find themselves drawn together as if they were meant to be. These kids are dealing with issues they should never have to, and are doing it well, and try to carve out something for them as well. However, things start to fall apart and unravel, and things come to a head when Ace disappears suddenly.

I really enjoyed this read, and read not just the responsibility that these characters bore, but also their fear, their desperation to have a typical life, even guilt over wanting to have something for them. I was really rooting for these two!! This book was fantastic, and I highly recommend it!

 

Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

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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!