“The Resurrection of Joan Ashby”–Review

51gPNfTSLBL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Joan Ashby is an acclaimed writer, a woman who believes in the importance of independence, to pursue her aspirations, to not let anything stand in her way. For as long as she’s been writing, one of her main goals was to never marry or have children. Despite her years of success, however, life didn’t turn out the way she’d planned, for she had become a wife and mother to two sons. Although she loved her sons, Joan still felt a betrayal of the pact she and her husband, Martin, made, which was to not have children.

While living the life of wife and mother, it is years since Joan’s had anything published. At the same time, she is secretly writing a new novel, which takes decades to complete. Once the secret manuscript is complete, Joan questions every choice she’s made. Where had she gone wrong? Was she still a writer? Was her family to blame for her choices? And can she reclaim the life she’s always wanted before she’d given it all up for love?

Honestly, I was excited about the conflict of this novel. I liked the idea of an acclaimed writer trying to find herself after putting her life on hold for her family. Although the first half of the story was good, there were too many excerpts of Joan’s writing in a few chapters, including the second half of the story. I got the idea behind her stories, yet it was a bit much for me. Of course, I won’t give any spoilers. I just wasn’t too happy with the second half, especially the ending. The writing is excellent, but I was turned off later on in the book. I don’t discourage anyone from reading the book, though, so check it out.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Cherise Wolas a writer, lawyer, and film producer whose movies include an SXSW Audience Award winner. A native of Los Angeles, she lives in New York City with her husband. The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is her debut.

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“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.

“Lift and Separate”–Review

41+3RiLE6kLAfter 33 years of marriage, Marcy Hammer is shocked and heartbroken when her husband, Harvey, the head of a global lingerie empire, says that he’s leaving her.  Although his clothes have been removed from the closet, Marcy still has high hopes that he’ll reconsider.  It’s just a midlife crisis, he claims.  After all, they’ve been married for a long time and they could work out whatever the issues are.  However, Marcy learns that Harvey has been having an affair with his much younger, 32DD fitting model.

While they’re technically separated, Marcy now has to figure out how to go on living without Harvey.  But how will she do it, she wonders?  She’s in her late fifties and feels it’s almost impossible to start over.  With love and support from her friends and adult children, however, she starts learning how to be on her own—even on occasions when she’s close to falling apart.

Along the way, though, Marcy is struck with more surprises and family troubles, including one involving her new, once-in-a-lifetime best friend.  Will she be able to handle it all, along with the fact that her marriage is ending?

This was a great story, with excellent narration, as well.  I enjoyed the humor in each chapter.  With one surprise after another, I thought, “This poor woman.  Isn’t she already going through enough?” While she’s trying to cope, Harvey constantly returns with a new excuse.  What’s Marcy to do?

I’m happy that the author, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, sent me this copy for an honest review, so now I can share it with you all.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author:  For more than twenty-five years, Marilyn Simon Rothstein owned an advertising agency in Connecticut. She grew up in New York City, earned a degree in journalism from New York University, began her writing career at Seventeen magazine, and married a man she met in an elevator.

Marilyn received a Master of Arts in liberal studies from Wesleyan University and a Master of Arts in Judaic Studies from the University of Connecticut.

“The Wayfarer Trilogy”–Review

511m9sm0mgl-_sx323_bo1204203200_-2Hello bloggers!  Although I’d read the last two books in the Wayfarer Trilogy awhile back, I’m happy for having the opportunity to finally read the first book, The Secret Language of Women, by Nina Romano.

Set in a war during the Boxer Rebellion in China, star-crossed lovers, Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, meet.  Because of superstition, history, and customs, Lian and Giacomo are separated yet try to find a way back to each other.  Then Lian is forced into marrying a man to whom she was promised long ago.  When she is forbidden from her profession as a healer, frowned upon by her unbound feet, and enduring her husband’s and in-laws’ demanding ways, Lian turns to Nushu, the women’s secret writing which expresses her hopes for the future.

When Lian realizes enough is enough, she embarks on her own quest for freedom—even if it will come with a costly price.  Not only does she risk everything in hopes of reuniting with Giacomo, she learns a lot more about herself along the way and what she’s willing to endure to be happy again.

I liked Giacomo and now that I’ve read his story, the next two books made a bit more sense to me.

51gnxdwxitl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Lemon Blossoms, the second book in the trilogy, takes place in Italy, where Angelica Domenico resides in a blossoming lemon grove on an island governed by volcanoes and earthquakes.  During an accident from her childhood, Angelica faces the importance of maintaining her purity.  She begins to question it all even more after she endures the trauma of her aunt’s death during a difficult childbirth.  Because of that, including her fear of intimacy, she decides she’s going to commit her life to the convent, even though her parents forbid it.

Things start to change, however, when Giacomo Scimenti stops by the family shop, leaving Angelica confused and afraid of her feelings toward him, including her future in the convent.

I liked this book, even more, especially when certain chapters mentioned some Italian recipes.  I hope to, one day, visit Italy.  Aside from that, it was a good story with likable characters.

51yi1la3zhl-_sx327_bo1204203200_The final book, In America, takes place in 1920s New York.  Marcella Scimenti—the daughter of the characters in the previous book—is young, beautiful, and ambitious.  The handsome neighborhood boy is in love with her, she has a large family, and she has dreams of moving to Hollywood to sing.  Although her parents forbid her to pursue a singing career, Marcella is willing to stick by her own stubborn ways and do what it takes.  During the economic depression, she learns the importance of friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working woman with certain expectations of her tradition-bound family.  Later on, Marcella’s fate is tested when she learns of a devastating family secret, leaving her to choose what is really important in life.

I’m happy for having the opportunity to read this trilogy and I loved some of the helpful advice Marcella was given in the third book.  It just left me thinking, “Wow.  I wouldn’t have thought of it that way.”  No spoilers, of course, so I’ll just encourage you to check out this wonderful trilogy.

Feel free to post your comments, of course.  Happy reading!

For more info on the author, click here.  Also, you can follow her on Twitter.

“The Taste of Air”–Review

416syijurlIt all changes with a phone call.

Nell Williams, a wife and full time mother, receives a phone call regarding her mother, Mary Ellen Reilly.  While Mary is supposed to be residing in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, apparently she’s been in a hospital in Vermont.  Confused by this new information, Nell contacts her sister, Bridget, and hops on a plane to Vermont.  By the time the sisters arrive, they learn that Mary has been seriously ill and is barely capable of speaking, so getting any information is going to be a lot more difficult.

While they’re there, the sisters eventually learn that Mary has been living another life, with a cottage of her own and a connection to two men—including the local residents—who claim to have known Mary for years.  But who are they to Mary?  And is it possible that they’re connected with Nell and Bridget?

During their stay in their mother’s hideaway, Nell and Bridget start to uncover more secrets from Mary’s past, leading them to question their own lives and decisions for the future.

I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to read this book.  Each chapter contained many surprises and it left me wanting more.  I especially liked the descriptions of the settings in Vermont. (I hope to, one day, visit the place.)  I also enjoyed reading the chapters from Mary’s past.  No worries, I won’t spoil a thing, but I will recommend you check out this book.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author: Gail Cleare has written for magazines, newspapers, Fortune 500 companies, and AOL.  Her award-winning advertising agency represented the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  She was the turtle Leonardo’s date for the world premier of the second movie, and got to wear a black evening gown and sparkly shoes.  Gail lives on an 18th century farm in New England with her family and dogs, cats, chickens, black bears, blue herons, rushing streams, and wide, windy skies.  She loves organic gardening and nature photography and can often be found stalking creatures with a 300 mm lens.  Check her out on Twitter.

“Marrow: A Love Story”–Review

51bgxbf6cl-_sx323_bo1204203200_A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant.

Elizabeth Lesser always took an interest in finding out what it means to be true to oneself and to be truly connected with our loved ones.  Then she receives a phone call from her sister, Maggie.  Maggie is dying and is in need of a bone marrow transplant.  When Lesser finds out she’s a perfect match to be Maggie’s donor, she starts to question what it really means to love.

While Maggie goes through the transplant, the sisters eventually become more open regarding their relationship—as well as with their other sisters—to clear a path to unconditional acceptance.  They examine their family history, difficult conversations, old assumptions, etc.  Within time, they offer forgiveness and love.

Even with the transplant and additional treatments, however, Maggie’s body becomes too weak to fight the illness.  Lesser takes on more than she can handle, all to give Maggie a longer life.  Despite the struggles, the sisters become closer, their blood cells a symbol of the bond they share.

I’d just finished reading this book today and I enjoyed it.  Not only does the author talk about family and sisterhood, she talks about getting more in touch with ourselves, accepting ourselves, loving ourselves, including the importance of letting go.

Marrow: A Love Story is available now.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from Shelf Awareness’ giveaway, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Elizabeth Lesser is the New York Times bestselling author of Broken Open and the cofounder of the Omega Institute, an organization recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences focusing on health and healing, psychology and spirituality, and creativity and social change.  Prior to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and childbirth educator.  She attended Barnard College and San Francisco State University, and lives in the Hudson River Valley with her family.  For more info on the author, click here.

“Fates and Traitors”–Review

615KoCva7YL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_A riveting novel of four women forever linked to the notorious assassin, John Wilkes Booth.  The mother who cherished him. The sister who was his friend and confidante.  The devoted sweetheart whose love he betrayed.  The Confederate widow who conspired with him to bring down a president.

Fates and Traitors is a story based on John Wilkes Booth, who was the son of an acclaimed British stage actor, Junius Brutus Booth, and a Covent Garden flower girl.  Like his father, John Wilkes Booth went on to become a stage actor.  He was one of the best, adored by many.  In the end, however, he’d put his career and reputation at risk only to commit one of the most infamous acts in American history—the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Each chapter tells the stories of the four women Booth loved and who also loved him: Mary Ann, his loving and patient mother; Asia, his sister and confidante; Lucy Lambert Hale, the senator’s daughter who loved him, yet refused to see him for who he was; and Mary Surratt, the Confederate widow who was sworn to secrecy of Booth’s plot.

I was ecstatic when I’d first picked up this book.  During the middle of it, however, I found myself at a slump and wasn’t sure whether or not to continue reading.  At the same time, though, something was telling me to continue; perhaps I’ll like it.  It started to get a little better when I got to the chapters on Mary Surratt.  Now I’m glad I read the whole thing.  I didn’t really know about John Wilkes Booth until I started reading this book, so now I’m curious to read up on some of his history.  It was a bit of a sad story of a man risking his career and family’s name, all because he claimed to love his country.

For the history enthusiasts, including fans of historical fiction, this book is highly recommended.  Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth, will be available on September 13, 2016.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from Dutton Books, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, The Spymistress, Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, and Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, as well as the Elm Creek Quilt series and Christmas Bells.