Book Review: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

The Wedding Dress

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck is fairly predictable, but still enjoyable.  It is a ‘Christian’ based novel.  I found the religious undertones to be distracting.  I think the story would have stood better on its own without some of the ‘preaching’.

Instead of magic, there is divine intervention that takes place with a wedding dress sewn with gold thread that is beautiful, timeless and fits every bride who wears it (without alterations).

 

(purchase from amazon)
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 50 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Oasis Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 13, 2012

I tagged this review with Romance and Light Reads. This novel is not too complicated. It was a pleasant read I think, especially because of its predictability.

There is some meat to the novel as it switches between present day Birmingham Alabama,  and 1912.  I always like going back in time.  The examination of relationships leading to marriage is also entertaining.

I enjoyed the southern setting.  The narrator, Eleni Pappageorge, does a good job with the southern accent and representing both male and female characters.

So, if you like romance, light reading and can take a little preaching to, this would be a novel to enjoy.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck”

Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne

William Morrow an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublisher, 2016

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

I’ve been in the mood lately for chic-flicks (i.e. staring Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant) and chic-lit, The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne.

The Hating Game is cute, fun and sexy.  Two young co-workers who sit across from each other are already engaged in many games such as the ‘staring’ game when they both become competitive for the same promotion to a new position.

Sally Thorne in her debut novels draws an interesting, smart plot with fun antics.

This novel was better than comfort-food and perfect for me for this time of year.

What Others Are Saying

“Lucy Hutton absolutely detests her office mate Joshua Templeman. He’s a pompous, self-important, obnoxious ass. But, she’s got to admit, he is pretty cute.”

“From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but what happens in between is magic. From Lucy’s hilarious inner dialogue to Joshua’s sharp retorts, the chemistry between them is irresistibly adorable—and smokin’ hot.” – Kirkus Review

“I love this book so much!! Couldn’t put it down, and it got me out of a book slump. So so good!!” – Brandie @ Brandie Is A Book Junkie

First Paragraph

“I have a theory.  Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them.  I’ve had a lot of time to compare love and hate, and these are my observations.”

Read More or Purchase

About The Author

Sally Thorne lives in Canberra, Australia, and spends her days writing funding submissions and drafting contracts (yawn!), so it’s not surprising that after hours she climbs into colorful fictional worlds of her own creation.  She lives with her husband in a house filled with vintage toys, too many cushions, a haunted dollhouse, and the world’s sweetest pug.  The Hating Game is her first novel.

Review: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

The Precious One: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos

William Morrow An Imprint of Harper-CollinsPublishers, 2015

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

The Precious One: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos is one of She Reads’ 2015 Books of Spring.  She Reads has picked another winner.  This novel has many moving parts.  It is smart and engaging.  It has romance, suspense and great character development.

Chapters alternate between the point of view of Taisy, who is 35 and her half sister, Willow, who is 16.  Their arroagant father, Wilson, never showed Taisy or her twin brother, Marcus, any approval, but places Willow on a pedestal.

After Wilson and his first wife divorce, Taisy (a recent high school graduate, at the time), her mother and brother move away from their hometown.  Taisy leaves behind the love of her life, Ben.

Wilson sheltered his youngest daughter all of her life and homeschooled her.  When Wilson has a heart attack, Willow, at age 16, attends a private school for the first time.  Academically she is fine, but suffers from not knowing how to conduct herself socially.  For example, something as simple as how to raise her hand in class causes her great concern.  She is vulnerable.

At this time, after years of absolutely no contact, Wilson, with no change in attitude, asks Taisy (who is a ghostwriter) to return to her hometown to visit and write his autobiography.

The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos is well written and intriguing.  About half-way through the novel, with romance and suspense building, when the sister’s point of views begin to meld, I found I did not want put it down.

On the publisher, Harper-Collins’ web site there are discussion questions that would be perfect for a book club (Although, I cut the list down to 8 questions from 13).

First Chapter

IF I HADN’T BEEN alone in the house; if it hadn’t been early morning, with that specific kind of fuzzy, early morning quiet and a sky the color of moonstones and raspberry jam outside my kitchen window; if I had gotten further than two sips into my bowl-sized mug of coffee; if he himself hadn’t called but had sent the message via one of his usual minions; if his voice had been his voice and not a dried-up, flimsy paring off the big golden apple of his baritone; if he hadn’t said “please.” if it had been a different hour in a different day entirely, maybe — just maybe — I would have turned him down.

About The Author

A New York Times best-selling author and award-winning poet with a PhD in literature and creative writig, Marisa de los Santos lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with her family.

Also By Marisa de los Santos

Falling Together

Belong to Me

Love Walked In

Review: The Summer’s End by Mary Alice Monroe

The Summer’s End (Lowcountry Summer) by Mary Alice Monroe

(This title will be released May 19, 2015)

Gallery Books An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2015

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

The Summer’s End (Lowcountry Summer) is the third book of the Lowcountry Summer trilogy by Mary Alice Monroe.  It focuses on Harper, the youngest of three half-sisters featured in the series.

The family home, Sea Breeze, located in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, is too much for the girls’ grandmother, Mamaw, to handle.  Mamaw decides to bring her granddaughters together for one final summer before she sells Sea Breeze and moves into an adult home.  The girls had not spent a summer together since they were children.  Each of the them, while different, have uncertain futures.  Over the course of the summer, they each come to terms with finding their way forward.

Carson, Mamaw’s favorite, struggles with alcohol and commitment issues.  Dora, the eldest, is going through a divorce.  She has an eight  a nine-year old son with autism Asperger’s syndrome and struggles to have some fun and independence.  Harper is the wealthiest of the three.  Her mother is a controlling “narcissist” (Wikipedia).  Harper spends the summer contemplating her future and working secretly on her first novel.

Monroe’s trilogy is robust in it’s description of the Lowcountry.  She brings this story to a satisfying, romantic, conclusion.

Each novel is heartwarming and sensitive.  I highly recommend reading each book in order.   Below are links to my reviews of the first two books.  All three novels are light reads, but pack an emotional punch.

Continue reading “Review: The Summer’s End by Mary Alice Monroe”

Review: New Uses For Old BoyFriends by Beth Kendrick

New Uses For Old Boyfriends (Black Dog Bay Novel) by Beth Kendrick

New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2015

Description (from the author’s website)

After growing up in privilege and marrying into money, Lila Alders has gotten used to the good life. But when her happily ever after implodes, Lila must return to Black Dog Bay, the tiny seaside town where she grew up. She’s desperate for a safe haven, but everything has changed over the past ten years. Her family’s fortune is gone—and her mother is in total denial. It’s up to Lila to take care of everything…but she can barely take care of herself.

The former golden girl of Black Dog Bay struggles to reinvent herself by opening a vintage clothing boutique. But even as Lila finds new purpose for outdated dresses and tries to reunite with her ex, she realizes that sometimes it’s too late for old dreams. She’s lost everything she thought she needed but found something—someone—she desperately wants. A boy she hardly noticed has grown up into a man she can’t forget…and a second chance has never felt so much like first love.

My Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

As the title indicates New Uses For Old Boyfriends (Black Dog Bay Novel) by Beth Kendrick is a fun novel!  There are two main characters, newly divorced, 29 year old, Lila and her recently widowed mother, Daphne.  They both start out broke and helpless.

Lila has lost her position as late-night TV sales host and can’t get an interview for another job.  She comes out of her divorce with little more than the money from the sale of her wedding rings.  She returns home to find her mother is in financial ruin.

Daphne, over 30 years ago left the life of being a model to marry and live happily with her husband.  He loved Daphne,  but left her in debt after he died.  Daphne being in denial, racked up additional debt to add to her financial problems.  She can no longer afford her beloved, oceanfront, home.

Lila has a ‘take action’ attitude to save their home while Daphne remains in denial.   Lila has the idea to open a shop, selling Daphne’s vintage clothes.  Daphne is more interested in making sure Lila’s appearance will impress old boyfriends than she is in her financial predicament.

Black Dog Bay is a close knit community where everyone knows everyone else and the adults gossip more than the kids.  I enjoyed the warmth that the locals show one another in this story.  I enjoyed the snappy dialog.  I also enjoyed the message that friends help one another when the going gets tough.  I categorized this novel under, Humor, Light Reads and Romance.

(This story takes place in, what I believe is the fictional, Black Dog Bay, oceanside Delaware.  A previous novel by Kendrick, Cure for the Common Breakup,  also takes place there.  However, New Uses For Old Boyfriends is a stand alone novel.)

Continue reading “Review: New Uses For Old BoyFriends by Beth Kendrick”

Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

The Dress Shop of Dreams: A Novel by Menna Van Praag

Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York, 2014

 Description (from amazon.com)

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

My Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

The Dress Shop of Dreams: A Novel by Menna Van Praag is a sweet romance with magical realism.  The multiple romance parts while enjoyable were fairly predictable, but the magic was not.  Eta owns a dress shop that among other things changes color with changing times and plays music depending on who is there and what state they are in.  Eta’s dresses open up new and exciting possibilities for the women who come into the shop, no matter their circumstances in life.

Eta works her magic on her granddaughter, Cora, whose heart has been closed since her parents died when she was five.  Before Cora can open her heart for love, she needs to learn more about the tragic circumstances concerning her parents death.

As new characters are introduced, we see additional themes about lost opportunities and forgiveness come into play.

Overall this was a very pleasant read.  I enjoyed opening my mind to the possibilities of magic that author, Menna Van Praag shows us.

Continue reading “Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag”

Review: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus One: A Novel by Jojo Moyes
VIKING, Pengin Group (USA) LLC, 2014

 Description (from the author’s website)

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever. One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

My Review (5 Stars: Loved It!)

Jojo Moyes is sure-fire with One Plus One.  I devoured One Plus One in a day and loved it!  I agree with the above description.  This story at times will make you laugh out loud or smile and at other times weep.  I love knight in shining armor stories.  As Ed bonds with Jess’s family on a trip to Scotland, I felt an attachment to all of them, including the dog.

Moyes hits on topics such as honesty, family structure, rich versus poor, bullying, and girls and Math, to name a few.

One Plus One was shortlisted on the GoodReads 2014 Choice Awards in the Fiction Category.  It is easily one of the best I’ve read this year.  (Update: It didn’t win.)  I recommend checking out how votes tallied by clicking on the category titles @ GoodReads 2014 Choice Awards.  You can see lists of other’s favorites in a variety of categories.

I’ve enjoyed all of the books I’ve read by Jojo Moyes.  I’ve reviewed three others so far on Posting For Now.  Here are links to my reviews:

 

Review:The Bridge Tender by Marybeth Whalen

Description (from the author’s website)

Emily must realize that her dreams didn’t have to die with her first love.

When Emily Shaw, a young widow, learns that her late husband’s last surprise for her involves returning to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to realize an old dream of theirs, she reluctantly embarks on a summer of discovery in the midst of grief. There, in the oasis of the beach community, she meets a host of townspeople with their own broken dreams and unexpected situations. As the island citizens divide over the fate of a nostalgic bridge, Emily happens upon a man who just may be the one to restore her faith in dreams, hope, and possibly love.

“Whalen’s novel is incredibly charming.” —Romantic Times, 4 Stars

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

Author Marybeth Whalen’s idea for The Bridge Tender (A Sunset Beach Novel) came from the real debate over replacing an old bridge with a new one for Sunset Beach, North Carolina.

In the novel, Emily is a lonely young widow, who at age 27 finds herself purchasing a home on Sunset Beach.  That is where she and her husband, Ryan, spent their honeymoon.  Ryan had taken out a life insurance policy with the wish that she purchase the home of their dreams after he died.
Emily is very lonely, but becomes involved with the people on Sunset Beach.
The focus of this novel is about how Emily copes with her grief and at the same time struggles to move on.
Her best friend, Marta, is embarking on a promising new relationship and spends much of her free time with her new boyfriend.  Emily makes a new friend, her next door neighbor, Claire.  Emily takes on the cause of a young girl, Amber, also, alone, who needs her help.  Emily also becomes attracted to the Bridge Tender, Kyle.
I was very impressed with the analogy of accepting a new bridge, while respecting the old, with Emily accepting her new life while respecting her past.

I Googled Sunset Beach, North Carolina and the images are amazing!  Here is a link:
sunset beach north carolina

About the Author (from shereads.org)

 

Marybeth Whalen is co-founder of She Reads and the author of THE MAILBOX, SHE MAKES IT LOOK EASY, THE GUEST BOOK, THE WISHING TREE, and THE BRIDGE TENDER (to be released in June 2014). Marybeth spends most of her time in the grocery store but occasionally escapes long enough to scribble words and run car pool. She’s always at work on her next novel. Marybeth, her husband, and their six children live in North Carolina.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book (ARC), The Bridge Tender (A Sunset Beach Novel) by Marybeth Whalen , free from the publisher,  Thomas Nelson/Zondervan, HarperCollins Christian Publishing.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2014

Description (from amazon.com)

From the author of New York Times bestseller Garden Spells comes a beautiful, haunting story of old loves and new, and the power of the connections that bind us forever…

The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.

That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.

It’s a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.

Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer… and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.

One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended. Can they find what they need before it’s too late?

At once atmospheric and enchanting, Lost Lake shows Sarah Addison Allen at her finest, illuminating the secret longings and the everyday magic that wait to be discovered in the unlikeliest of places.

My Review ( 4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

 
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen has some serious (realistic) elements and some magical/fantasy/ghostly elements.  The  magical/fantasy/ghostly elements in this story are taken so mater of factually that they too seem realistic!  I’ve recently learned this is termed Magical Realism.  (See: Wikipedia definition for Magical Realism.)
Lost Lake, a cabin retreat, vacation spot, in Georgia has fallen to a state of disrepair.  Owner, Eby, once ran a lively retreat with her, now deceased, husband George and her friend Lisette.  Eby is considering selling it.
Kate, has just ‘woken up’ from a year of grieving over her husband’s untimely death.  Kate visited her Great Aunt Eby’s Lost Lake with her parents when she was twelve years old.  She now returns with, her eight year old daughter, Devin.  Does Kate recapture the magic she once had?
This story is uplifting and, in addition to Devin’s colorful outfits, it has some colorful characters, including a few old-timers who return to Lost Lake each year.
One theme in this story is about overcoming grief.  Without giving away too many details of the story, I thought I would simply conclude with a couple of quotes from the book.

“Eby knew all too well that there was a fine line when it came to grief.  If you ignore it, it goes away, but then it always comes back when you least expect it.  If you let it stay, if you make a place for it in your life, it gets too comfortable and it never leaves.  It was best to treat grief like a guest.  You acknowledge it, you cater to it, then you send it on its way.” p. 154

About the ending:

“Sometimes, the best endings are the ones that surprise you. Sometimes, the best are the ones that have everything happening exactly how you want it to happen. But the absolute perfect endings are when you get a little of both.” p.289-290.

Continue reading “Review: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen”

Review: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

New York Times Bestseller: Big Girl Panties: A Novel
by Stephanie Evonovich
William Morrow, An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. EPub Edition February 2014.

Description (from amazon.com)

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a rollicking and poignant romantic comedy about a young widow who decides to get in shape…and winds up getting her groove back—and a whole lot more!

Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief.

Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing?

My Review – 4 Stars

Overweight Holly Brennan meets tall, dark, handsome, Prince Charming-ish, Logan Montgomery, a personal trainer.

What follows in Stephanie Evonovich’s debut novel, is pure entertainment. This Romance novel has wit and charm not to mention physically charged sex scenes. We are shown that beauty is only skin deep. In other words, a person’s character is more important than their appearance.

While needing to accept ourselves for who we are, it is still important to work on our shortcomings.  I read this novel in two days.  It made me laugh and made me cry.  (I might have rated this five stars.  However, I felt some of the sex scenes were overly explicit.)

If you would like to read another positive review about this novel check out Sheila’s review at Book  Journey.  For more information about Stephanie Evonovich check out this interview from USA Today by Joyce Lamb.

Review: Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge

Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge
Simon & Schuster, 2014

Description (from the author’s website)

Waking up knee-deep in the San Francisco Bay with no understanding of how she got there, thirty-nine-year-old Lucie Walker discovers she has no memories of her past or her loving fiancé, Grady. After being diagnosed with a rare form of amnesia, Lucie returns to her previous life with Grady in Seattle only to find evidence of the “old” Lucie—an insecure and shallow personality she no longer recognizes, or wants to. Like a detective, the new Lucie attempts to find the path from past to present, only to remember shocking pieces of a dark childhood that tempt her to run away from everything all over again. To complicate matters more, she finds herself falling in love with her fiancé and his big close-knit clan of a family just as he seems to be falling out of love with her. But as Lucie begins to open up to the world around her, she realizes that she can build a future as the woman she wants to be, rather than the one her past dictated.

My Review – 4 Stars

In Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge, Lucy suffers from amnesia and is found standing in the San Francisco Bay.  Her fiance’, Grady, not knowing where she went, was searching for her.  After seeing news reports, he travels from their home in Seattle, Washington, to bring her back.

The most interesting part of this story was how Lucy and Grady reconnect.  Lucy knowing nothing of her former life, relies on Grady for her survival, even though she doesn’t remember him.  I have never known anyone who suffered from amnesia, but thought Lucy might have been more frightened than she seemed.  Lucy’s personality is very different from before her amnesia.  Before she was somewhat aloof, after she was more down to earth.  Grady having strong feelings for Lucy, tries to adjust as she tries to find herself.

I enjoyed exploring their feelings as they both adjust to revelations about the past and changes in their relationship.  Some parts of this story brought tears to my eyes.
Note: Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge is the January Book Club Selection for She Reads.  You can go to Shereads.org to find links to additional reviews on this book and enter their contest to receive a free copy of this book.  I would like to thank the She Reads Organization and the publisher, Gallery Books,  A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.,  for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from the publisher, Gallery Books,  A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., as a member of the She Reads Network.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.