Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Honey and Leonard by Mark Paul Smith

Release Date - November 2019

My mom has Alzheimer's. It's torturous watching someone slowly lose the ability to find the right words, keep control of emotional outbursts, etc. I was drawn to Honey and Leonard for that reason. I know what it's like.

Billed as a romance, I found there's an awful lot of reality in this novel, which isn't surprising given the author's experience with a parent with Alzheimer's. I wanted it to be uplifting, but I found it to be a little too true and sad to be uplifted by it.

Honey loves Leonard with all of her heart. The same is true in the other direction, even if Leonard sometimes forgets who Honey is. His niece has power of attorney and has him in an assisted living community, which Honey believes is a non-stop track to a slow death.

When blood tests find high levels of arsenic in Leonard's blood, Honey is barred from seeing him. His niece is applying for guardianship and the social worker assigned to his case makes it clear that Honey cannot see him again. Suspicions are that Honey is poisoning him, though Honey insists the arsenic must be tied to Leonard's long career as a farmer.

Soon, she and Leonard escape and fly to Paris. There, they hope to enjoy what time they have left together. The problem is what Honey's done counts as kidnapping and authorities are hot on their tails.

Sometimes, the details given in Honey and Leonard seemed to be too much. For instance, while I am fine with older adults having sex lives, a paragraph about their discovery and enjoyment of oral sex just didn't seem to be necessary to the story. With that, I found myself paying far too much attention to these details that seemed unnecessary over the dialogue and clear love the two shared. It took me out of the experience.

Alzheimer's affects people differently. Leonard's situation was nothing like my mom's whose memory loss has dragged on for 10 years just about. I had to remind myself from time to time as forgetting a loved one is still something my mom didn't do until recently. If you're accustomed to Alzheimer's, you have to remember these differences from one to the next.

Overall, I liked Honey and Leonard, but I never loved it. It was simply an okay read that I was able to walk away from. Nothing held my attention and pressed me to keep reading.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen

Release Date - September 2019

The "good news" her stepmother boasts of isn't good news to Emma Laurent. Her father's candy store is her pride and joy. Selling it to a large company isn't good news, it's heartbreaking.

Emma doesn't like to ask for help, but she needs to save the shop. Her only hope is to qualify for a loan in order to buy it. She has to save the shop. It's the only way she can afford the assisted living apartment her grandmother calls home.

As if she doesn't have enough on her mind, there's a single mom in town who seems to need a friend and Emma can't turn her back on anyone. Plus, a secretive couple has offered Emma $20,000 for a painting of her father's that's been a candy shop fixture. The painting isn't by anyone famous from what Emma can tell, so their sudden interest is unusual. The money, however, could be the answer to all of her problems getting a loan to purchase the shop and keeping her grandmother where she's happiest.

There's a lot going on in A Bittersweet Surprise. Add a growing romance between Emma and a local hardware shop owner. This puts the count at one romance, the painting mystery, the mystery of the single mom's sudden appearance and what she's hiding, and the efforts to save the candy shop. There's still one more thing that I haven't even mentioned. Emma's mother left when she was very young. Emma's always wondered if her mom is out there.

Some of these stories will carry on in future books I think. I'm not sure. The book felt complete in some areas and not in others. It was a solid read, but some unanswered questions have me confused. Other books in the Starlight Cove series feature different characters each time, yet A Bittersweet Surprise seemed like it was the start of a series featuring Emma. I have no idea if the ending simply left gaps or if the author does plan to spin off a series from here.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Christmas From the Heart by Sheila Roberts

Release Date - September 24, 2019

Many holiday romances come out in the summer when it's just way too early for me. I held off reading Christmas From the Heart for that reason.

Christmas From the Heart's organizer, Livi, relies on donations from Hightower Enterprises. Her charitable organization ensures that everyone in her town has a wonderful Christmas, even if money is tight. When Guy Hightower announces they're no longer able to donate to Christmas From the Heart, Livi is infuriated. This modern-day Scrooge is going to destroy the holidays many in her community deserve.

His company is in shambles, and Guy has to tighten the belt. Getting called out as a miserly jerk is not something he'll stand for. On his way to his mom's house for a holiday gathering, his car breaks down. He finds himself stranded in Pine River, Livi's hometown. Worse, Livi is the woman who comes to his rescue, only she has no idea who he is and he doesn't want to tell her.

When Guy realizes he's falling for Livi, he's stuck. If he tells her who he really is, he'll lose her. Not telling her the truth is also not an option. Can a holiday miracle save the relationship that matters most to him?

Christmas From the Heart is a little slow going. There's definitely a lot going on, but Guy and Livi don't actually meet until my Kindle showed 40% of the book was completed. It takes a bit to get to the actual romance.

Once I reached that point, I found the book hard to put down. It was a touching holiday romance that was perfect for a snowy day. I truly enjoyed every moment with Guy and Livi.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Revamping Due to New Policies

Due to new policies, I'm still trying to figure out what to do with this review site. Amazon now requires that all reviewers make it clear on each and every post that the product links for Amazon are affiliate links and pay the blogger a small percentage if people click on that link and make the purchase.

Having to individually update 10 years of posts isn't easy. As a result, I'm thinking it may be time to stop linking to Amazon at all. It's taken far too long to update posts one by one. I haven't read a book in a month, and that's the reason for no posts lately.

You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith

 Release Date - October 25, 2022 After his dad's death, Adam Stillwater and his mom do everything in their power to keep the family...