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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

Release Date - October 16, 2018



I started Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners. I stopped. I tried again. I stopped again. I really struggled to get into this book, but so many people said it was fantastic that I couldn't understand what I was missing. I still don't. Violet Baumgartner gets under my skin. I simply cannot stand her.

Each year, Violet Baumgartner pens a Christmas letter for her friends and family members. This year, she's going to do more than a silly letter. Her husband has retired and she's going to throw a retirement party/holiday gathering that's going to be in the papers. She's determined her family will be the talk of the town. She simply cannot expect to become the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons. Her daughter's been hiding a secret, and it's one that will rock Violet to the core. As events unfold, it's clear that she'll get her wish even if it's not what she planned.

What could be very amusing took a cold turn when I realized that Violet simply could not be an enjoyable character. I loathed her actions towards others and, especially, her husband and her daughter. Nothing she could do would make me like her. While the writing flowed well, it's a lost cause when you hate the main character.

I loved the cover design. That's what drew me to the book in the first place. In the end, that's all I can say I liked about the book. Everything else was a struggle.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Thousand Doors by J.T. Ellison

Release Date: November 5, 2018



A Thousand Doors is a collection of stories penned by different authors. J.T. Ellison starts Mia Jensen's tragic tale. Mia's marriage is coming to an end. Her husband's been embezzling donations given to his non-profit and Mia knows all the details and is ready to share. Before she can, she's attacked and left for dead.

As she lies dying, she experiences different "what if's." Each chapter of a life she could have had is shared by a different author. In other lives, she could have been a lawyer with a cheating husband, a senator's frustrated and tired wife, a devoted mom with a shady past, and so many others.

Stories in A Thousand Doors are told by some of today's best romance and women's fiction writers - Kimberly Belle, Laura Benedict, Patti Callahan Henry, Heather Gudenkauf, Kerry Lonsdale, Catherine McKenzie, and so many others.

I loved every moment. I was rooting for Mia in each story. While her situations changed with each chapter, her personality and values never seemed to stray. The authors did a great job at changing her life without changing her. I loved it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Indigo Hill: A Novel by Liz Rosenberg

Release Date - November 13, 2018



After Alma Johansson is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, her daughters are shocked. One expects her to fight the disease, but the other accepts and respects her mom's stance. Cancer takes Alma from them sooner than expected. What she leaves behind is something more shocking. It's something the sisters must come to terms with in their own way.

As they mourn their mom, Michelle and Louisa also face their lives now. Part of what makes them the women they are goes back to a fire that happened when they were younger. That fire on Indigo Hill haunts Louisa, and her mom's death may be what it takes for her to finally come to terms with it.

I struggled with the opening of Indigo Hill. It's a third-person POV and referring to Alma as Mrs. Johansson, while meant to be respectful, seemed so impersonal and made it hard for me to connect with the characters. It took a while to acclimate to that writing style.

After a new character is introduced, I wanted to like the story more. He makes one decision though that ticked me off and made me dislike him. At that point, the only character I felt any bond with was Michelle's teenage daughter. The rest of the characters simply never appealed to me.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Dancing With the Sun by Kay Brant

Release Date - November 27, 2018



Empty nester Sadie Harlan is at a crossroads. Tragic events have strained her marriage. While her husband heads out on a camping trip, Sadie opts to fly to California to spend a couple of days with her daughter who is at Yosemite for an internship.

The women set off for a quick walk, but a sudden storm catches them by surprise. They wind up lost and unprepared. With no emergency supplies and a cell phone that's dead, Sadie and Lauren must try to find a way to get help and avoid the dangers of the wilderness.

Dancing With the Sun is a fast read. It seemed a little slow at first, but once Sadie and Lauren were out in the forest, the pace was lightning fast. There were times I was frustrated by their choices, but I wasn't in the situation, so who knows how I would have acted in a very stressful situation.

I liked Sadie's instincts when it came to protecting her child, even if Lauren is grown and capable of protecting herself. I loved the descriptions of the area. It's been years since I was in Yosemite, but I do remember snippets of it from my childhood and remember the feeling of awe with the deer and trees.

If you want a quick, suspenseful story, pick Dancing With the Sun. It didn't take long to finish and had me hooked.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Release Date - October 9, 2018



For Beth, her daughter's often cruel behavior and lack of emotion are clear signs of a troubled mind. Her husband isn't convinced. He feels Beth overreacts and that Hannah is misunderstood.

Decades later, Clara is dismayed when her loving boyfriend doesn't come home after work. After a day, it's clear that he didn't just crash at a friend's house. Ominous emails seem to prove that there's something more going on.

As Clara tries to find out what happened to Luke, she comes across information about his long-missing sister. Luke's sister made a new friend right before she disappeared. Someone knows something that may tie the past to Luke's disappearance. The clock is ticking and Clara wants to unravel the truth before time runs out.

The Lies We Told takes place in the past when Hannah is a young girl and switches to Clara's present-day point of view. It does take some twists, but I can't say they shocked me. I saw a few things coming. The ending is also meant to be shocking, but I had that pegged, which was a bit of a letdown.

The story does move swiftly and held my attention. I found myself intrigued by the story and wanted to see how it would play out. It's a good read, if not a little predictable in a couple of aspects, but definitely worth a few hours of reading.