“Cicada Summer”–Review

61TRNEC4GsL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_It’s never too late to start again…

Alex Proctor invests in and renovates old homes. She’s come upon many, rundown properties, yet she’s always believed that, no matter the house’s condition, there’s a story behind the walls of every home, that there’s beauty in it all. She enjoys the excitement of making properties a home again. Her latest project is a century-old house near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Because the house has been badly neglected, Alex knows the work is going to be challenging. Nevertheless, she has faith that it all will work out.

Within a few weeks, the cicadas are supposed to reappear after 17 years, which is also the time the repairs on the house should be finished and ready to sell. However, Alex stumbles upon one disaster and surprise after another, leaving her wondering if her hard work is even worth it all.

While working on the house, Alex finds random treasures hidden in the house, one of them including some carved initials which reveal a love story from long ago of Alex’s elderly neighbor, Elsie.

While getting to know more of Elsie’s past life, Alex has been thinking about her own life and how to make peace with everything that’s caused her heartache. Meanwhile, her mind constantly wanders toward her lingering feelings for her ex-husband, Matt. Their only involvement is their five-year-old daughter, yet Alex’s feelings are all over the place every time she and Matt have to see each other when it comes to their joint custody with their daughter.

No matter her feelings, Alex has always felt that moving on was the only way. However, with all that is going on in her life, she sees this house as a possibility of second chances, not just with the house, but with her life.

I received this copy from the author, in exchange for an honest review, and I’m happy to say that I’ve enjoyed the story. No spoilers, of course, but you’ll learn the reason behind the book’s title. I love how this book shows the reader that, no matter what’s happening in our lives, there’s always a chance to make things right.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Maureen Leurck graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and currently resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and three children. She escapes up to the Lake Geneva area when she can for a good fish fry. For more info on the author, click here.

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“The Little French Bistro”–Review

51fN2ZGIF4L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_After 41 years, Marianne is fed up with her loveless marriage. For years, she’s felt so unworthy, so unloved because of her husband’s controlling ways. Finally realizing her life has passed her by, Marianne decides life is no longer worth living—until she is saved. Finding herself in Brittany, the northwestern part of France, she is swept up by a new life at Ar Mor (the Sea) restaurant, where she meets Yann, the handsome painter; Genevieve, the restaurant owner; Jean-Remy, the heartbroken chef; and many others.

While she takes in her new surroundings, along with getting to know the locals, Marianne starts to find a forgotten version of herself.  Even though she’s often afraid, she learns what it means to truly live again. However, her past still beckons her, and that’s when she needs to decide if she’s meant to return to her old life or to push it aside for a better future.

Although I liked the storyline, the book was leaving me in a bit of a slump. I felt I couldn’t really connect with the characters. I’m less than halfway through with the book, so I just might finish it to see if it may change my perspective. No matter, I don’t discourage anyone from reading a book I didn’t really enjoy. Perhaps you’ll feel differently. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Nina George is the author of the bestselling international phenomenon, The Little Paris Bookshop, as well as numerous other books that have been published around the world. She also works as a journalist, a writer, an advocate for author rights, and a storytelling teacher. She lives with her husband in Berlin, Germany, and Brittany, France.

FTC Disclosure: I received this copy from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

“Swann’s Way Out”–Review

51q6G4-8iKLGood evening, all! I finally had the opportunity to read the fourth Henry Swann novel. If you haven’t read the first three, I highly encourage you to do so, especially if you like some good detective fiction.

The story begins with skip tracer Henry Swann, at a poker game, who is trying to figure out what he’s supposed to do with his life. After all, he’s spent years taking on cases involving delinquents, runaways, thieves, etc. He wasn’t quite sure if being a skip tracer was actually his calling. After the game, however, Swann is offered a case which sends him to Hollywood in order to find Rusty Jacobs, the man responsible for embezzling $1,000,000 from his client. All Swann has to do is get the money back and all will be okay. Swann does find Jacobs, but learns that this wannabe film producer is convinced his movie project will make it big in the Christian market. As for the $1,000,000 that was used to make the movie trailer? It seems to have disappeared. While Swann’s client claims the money was stolen, Jacobs claims it was used as an investment. Although Swann’s motive is to just get the money back—he couldn’t really care less for the reason for the so-called investments—he can’t help wondering who’s telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Swann has another job thrown at him—thanks to his business partner, Goldblatt—where he has to help another client in the New York City art world who may have been defrauded on the purchase of a valuable painting that may or may not be a fake.

While it all seems to be one thing after another, Swann gets a call regarding his estranged teenage son who has run away from his grandparents’ home in Minnesota and has possibly joined a cult. Now a guilt-ridden Swann must take time out from his paying cases to find the son he hasn’t seen in years.

This installment is definitely worth reading. Henry Swann is the best! Like the first three books, this one also has excellent narration and dialogue. Everything just gets right to the point. I enjoyed the quirky relationship between Swann and Goldblatt. Great humor, sarcasm, and Swann doesn’t take BS from anyone.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Charles Salzberg is the author of the Shamus Award-nominated Swann’s Last Song, as well as the sequels, Swann Dives In and Swann’s Lake of Despair. He is also the author of Devil in the Hole, which was chosen as one of the Best Crime Novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. He lives in New York City and teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is proud to be a founding member. For more info about the author, click here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

“The Dog Who Was There”–Review

51bjP8hjO+L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Set in first century Jerusalem, this story is told from the point-of-view of Barley, a dog who was abandoned and nearly drowned when he was a puppy, until a husband and wife rescued him and brought him to their home. While Barley grows up in the home of the compassionate woodcarver and his wife, tales of a special teacher from Galilee are spreading throughout the villages. While it causes quite a stir for many, others are influenced in positive ways and want to follow this teacher.

When life unexpectedly changes, however, Barley is on his own again, wandering the outskirts of Jerusalem. It is there that he meets Samid, a homeless and petty criminal. Soon the two become friends. With his new master, Barley experiences new struggles and new revelations. After his encounter with the Teacher, Barley learns the lessons of forgiveness, compassion, and love after witnessing events to what has been known as “the greatest story ever told.”

I enjoyed reading this book. It was so sad, yet it had some moments that made me smile. The ending really surprised me and that’s when I knew I already loved the book. In fact, when I got home from work, I immediately hugged my dog. Whether you’re a dog person or not, I still recommend this book. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Ron Marasco’s first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an Outstanding Book of 2008. He cowrote the book About Grief: Insights, Setbacks, Grace Notes, Taboos, which has been translated into multiple languages. His most recent work is Shakespeare: Portals to Prayer and he is currently writing a book about Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Ron has acted extensively on TV in everything from Last to West Wing to Entourage and has done recurring roles on Freaks and Greeks and Major Crimes. He appeared opposite screen legend, Kirk Douglas, in the movie Illusion, for which he cowrote the screenplay. He has a Ph.D in Theatre History from UCLA and is a professor at Loyola Marymount University.

“The Map That Leads to You”–Review

517U90EoYSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Good evening, bloggers! Here’s my review of The Map That Leads to You.

The main character, Heather, has just finished college. Now she and her best friends are about to travel throughout Europe, to enjoy life before beginning their new lives. When it comes to everyday life, Heather has always been organized. Everything will work out, she tells herself. During their train ride to Amsterdam, however, Heather meets Jack. Unlike Heather, Jack lives by his own rules, while following his grandfather’s journals throughout Europe.

It isn’t long before Heather and Jack are drawn to each other. During their travels, it is Jack who shows Heather how to truly live, to not live life based on daily itineraries. Although they have their many disagreements when it comes to living life and the corporate world, their feelings for each other become stronger, leading Heather to make new choices about her life. But, then, she learns of a secret Jack has kept for quite some time. Will it change everything, though?

I loved reading about all the many cities in Europe and I’m sure I’m not the only one to say this, but I really hope to, one day, visit these places, to fall in love with my surroundings.  I’ve stumbled upon dozens of beautiful travel journals and told myself that I’ll have the opportunity to use one, someday. It all sounds as wonderful and romantic as this book is. For all of the wanderlusts, I recommend this book. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

The Map That Leads to You will be available on June 13, 2017.

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: J.P. Monninger is an award-winning writer in New England and professor of English at Plymouth State University.

“Come Sundown”–Review

51FVfObxphL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Come Sundown takes place in the successful ranch and resort in western Montana, where the Bodine family business is thriving and filled with vacationers.  The 30,000-acre ranch has been a home to four generations and is now managed by Bodine Longbow, along with a large staff and a new hire, Callen Skinner.

While everything is going well at the ranch, every now and then the topic of Bodine’s estranged aunt, Alice Bodine, comes up.  Unfortunately, the other family members don’t want to speak of her, all the more arousing Bodine’s curiosity.  Is Alice dead or still alive? And what drove Alice away? But, then, it isn’t long before they all are informed of an unexpected death of a young woman.  And then another death.  No one is quite sure why these deaths occurred.

After 25 years, however, the family is in a state of shock when they learn that Alice has been found.  It was 25 years ago that Alice had rebelled and left the ranch to pursue an acting career in Hollywood.  Once her days in Hollywood were done, though, she was ready to come back home.  But she never did make it back.

Now that Alice is back, everyone has questions.  Alice, however, is no longer the same.  Half of her life has been taken, yet she won’t give anyone the entire story.  Only within time will it all test the bonds of the Bodine family and thrust Bodine into a darkness she never could have imagined.

This is my first read by Nora Roberts. Although I didn’t really love the story—especially because I feel some scenes were unnecessary—I still think the plot and story line were good.  The scenes from Alice’s past were so awful, they angered me, but I won’t spoil any of it.  I did like the closeness of the Bodine family and the description of the ranch and resort, including the food.  Montana sounds like a beautiful place, in my opinion.  Perhaps you’ll enjoy this book.  Along with suspense, there is some romance involved.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

Come Sundown will be available on June 6, 2017.

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including The Obsession, The Liar, The Collector, Whiskey Beach, and many more.  She is also the author of the bestselling In Death series, written under the pen name J.D. Robb.  There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.  For more info on the author, click here.

“The Breakdown”–Review

51Va0R3MSWL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

One evening, after leaving a party, Cass lets her husband know she’s heading home and that she might take a shortcut along a rural road.  Her husband, however, advises her to not do it, that it could be dangerous, especially with the dangerous storm occurring.  Cass takes that road, anyhow.  During the downpour, she sees a car parked on the side of the road.  A woman is sitting alone in the car.  Cass pulls over and wonders if the woman is okay, if she’s having car trouble, anything.  The woman doesn’t even acknowledge Cass, so what’s going on?  While feeling concerned, Cass also fears the worst.  It could be a trap.  Cass ends up driving away.

It isn’t long before Cass hears the news of a woman who was killed on that same night.  And it happened to be the woman who was in that car.  Not a day goes by that Cass doesn’t feel guilty for not doing something.  The worst part is that she can’t even tell her own husband because she’d have to tell him she’d driven through that dangerous road.

It all seems to get worse when Cass starts forgetting things, even simple things.  For example, where she left her car, if she took her pills, even the alarm code, etc.  Despite her troubles, it’s the woman she can’t forget.  The woman she could have saved.  Then the silent phone calls she receives adds to her problems, making her fear that someone is watching her every move.

Although this one wasn’t as enjoyable as her previous book, Behind Closed Doors, I still liked this story.  The surprises had me turning the pages and I enjoyed the plot twist.  I was surprised when it all got to who was behind everything.  Of course, I won’t spoil it for you.  In need a good psychological thriller?  I recommend this story.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

The Breakdown will be available on July 18, 2017.

About the author:  B.A. PARIS is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors. She grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. The Breakdown is her second novel.