Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

 Release Date - March 30, 2021

Opal may not have the same voice or look as her sister, but she's a powerhouse all on her own. She also has bigger dreams than taking some office or production line job in Detroit. She wants to change the world. Her chance to do just that is revealed when British guitarist and singer Neville Charles takes an interest in her one day. He needs someone to partner with, and fiery Opal seems to be a perfect choice.

Thus, Opal & Nev is born. Opal soon learns that while she's ready to take on the world, the world may not be ready for her. Her protests would make Black Lives Matter proud, but it costs her and those around her a lot in the 1970s. 

Several decades later, Opal & Nev is set to return for the show of a lifetime. Music journalist S. Sunny Shelton is tackling a tell-all book about the pair. She stumbles onto something that could change what everyone knows about the fateful events in the 1970s, but only if she dares to tell it and get others to believe what she's learned.

I never read Daisy Jones & The Six, which I think is to my benefit as I've read several reviews trying to compare the two. I can't compare them. I'm glad I don't have to. Opal steals this book with her tough persona and demand for all people to be treated as equals no matter their gender or race. Nev is a bit more of a wimpy, do-what-they-say type that I simply couldn't respect. It was Opal that kept me hooked.

There are times that The Final Revival of Opal & Nev seemed more like non-fiction than fiction. It's a very haunting, sad tale of racism, fame, and differences in cultures. It broke my heart while holding me captive to every word.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Path to Sunshine Cove by Raeanne Thayne

 Release Date - March 30, 2021

How I love my trips to Cape Sanctuary, California. In The Path to Sunshine Cove, Jess Clayton comes to town to help her new client, Eleanor, declutter her home. She quickly falls in love with Eleanor and with the area, but her tenuous relationship with her sister, Rachel, isn't going as well. She'd hoped they could spend time together, but Rachel is testy at best and certainly not welcoming.

It's not the only cold welcome. Eleanor's son, Nate, all but calls Jess a trespasser on their first meeting and tells her to leave. Despite a bad start, Jess is going to do this job well and then move on to the next client. What she doesn't realize is that she may end up finding it harder to leave than first imagined.

Jess is such a strong character with so much to learn. I didn't love Rachel, but I understood her hesitance at bonding. It still didn't make me enjoy her. Mostly, I found myself wanting to give her some advice on motherhood and marriage.

Nate and his teen daughter are great matches for Jess. As the story plays out, I had to wonder where things would end up. Mostly though, I really wanted to be the one in Jess's Airstream with stunning views of the California coast.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Meant to Be by Jude Deveraux

 Release Date - March 16, 2021

The 1970s are turbulent for sisters Vera and Kelly Exton. While their widowed mom dreams of them settling down and having a bunch of grandchildren, both of these young women want more. 
Vera has stuck around to help her care for her mom, but she plans to head off to Africa as soon as Kelly's finally married. At that point, a. Kelly will have married the local vet's son and become a partner in the family veterinary practice.

The nearer they get to the plans that have been laid out, the more the sisters realize that the best-laid plans aren't always what's right for you. They have to decide if they do what their mom is expecting or if it's time to do what they feel is right in their hearts.

I liked the build-up in Meant to Be but about three-quarters into the book, it lost me. I found myself overwhelmed by the abrupt jump to the 1990s and the rush of new characters. It started to feel heavy and just sad.

I'm used to a lighthearted feel with Jude Deveraux's novels, and this one was lacking the well-timed touches of humor. It was a book I enjoyed most of but not one I'd want to keep or read again.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Last Carolina Sister by Michelle Major

 Release Date - March 30, 2021s

I missed the first two books in this series. While I want to go back and read the first two sisters' stories, The Last Carolina Sister is a stand-alone romance.

Meredith Ventner is working hard to turn her animal rescue into a thriving non-profit. She relates to animals in ways that others cannot understand. When a handsome doctor temporarily becomes her neighbor, she can't help but notice he's hiding his own share of hurt.

Ryan Sorensen is in town for a few weeks to heal following tragic events at the ER where he works. It's going to be hard to move on, but it's the friendly people and passion that Meredith shows that seems to be helping. The more he gets to know Meredith, the more he realizes that what he thought he wanted from life isn't what he needed. All he really needs is right here in this charming Carolina town.

Both Meredith and Ryan are wounded souls for different reasons. They come together in a sizzling romance that's meant to last until Ryan is ready to return to his city life. I love that they took time and didn't rush anything. They got to know each other first, which isn't always the case in a romance novel. It was refreshing for that reason.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman

 Release Date - March 2, 2021

At 83, Millie has gotten into a bit of trouble. She's been in a couple of car accidents. She accidentally shoplifted. Her son is convinced she's in need of full-time care. That brings Sylvia into her life. The thing is that Sylvia is not all that she seems to be.

Millie's son, Kevin, also has his hands full with his kids. One of his solutions is to ship one of his daughters off to boarding school. He hopes it will get her to calm down, but the opposite happens and Aideen ends up in even more trouble there.

For the family to come to terms with everything going on in their lives, the family is about to face its greatest challenge ever.

Here's the deal with Good Eggs. Kevin is not likable. I have a parent with Alzheimer's, and many of Millie's actions seemed to be early-stage Alzheimer's to me. It broke my heart that he wasn't listening. The first section of the book is all about Kevin's need to control the things in his life that didn't act or do the things he expected. Stick with it. The second half is delightful.

In the second half, Millie and Aideen take center stage. I adored their antics. It turned an okay book into a mesmerizing one.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering

 Release Date - March 2, 2021

Skye Starling is over the moon when her boyfriend of six months proposes to her. She never expected she'd find a man who loves her despite her obsessive habits. Yet, Burke Michaels doesn't seem to care she has OCD and has specific routines.

The problem is that Burke is hiding a secret. He's married and a father to three children. He owes his wife, Heather, a better life than she has and he knows it. Skye is his ticket to ensuring his family has a better life. Or, is there more to the story?

Too Good to Be True is told from Heather's POV, but it's back when she's a teen and meets Burke. There's Skye's present-day POV. There's also Burke's POV from the letters he writes to his therapist. What seems to be true isn't always the case, and that creates a story that goes from one place to the next and leaves you eagerly awaiting for the truth to be revealed.

While there was a lot in this novel that I loved, there were some aspects that I wished had been done differently. The story seems to blend contemporary romance and women's fiction with psychological suspense, especially in the latter part of the book. By that point, I'd figured a big chunk of the plot out and found myself simply annoyed with how things were playing out.

Based on that, I am glad I finished Too Good to Be True, but I can't say I loved the book. It was good not great.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

 Release Date - March 9, 2021

Only Darcy Phillips knows the truth about locker 89. She's been running a relationship advice business from the empty locker for years. Her advice is always spot-on, so it's become a steady business. One day after checking the hallway before opening the locker, Alexander Brougham happens to come across her and quickly learns her secret. He won't tell anyone if she'll help him win back his ex-girlfriend.

Darcy's up for a challenge, even if it is becoming a dating coach for a guy who drives her nuts. She can't tell her best friend and object of her affection anything, and that could be a problem. The more she pushes away Brooke while spending time with Alexander, the harder it becomes to handle. One thing is certain, she can't reveal the truth or her friendship with Brooke could be over forever.

Darcy is bisexual and deals with a lot of conflicting feelings in the book. I loved her honesty in different situations. I also loved that the students, for the most part, at this school were accepting. It doesn't strike me as quite what my kids and their friends saw and heard in their own high school experiences, but I'd like to think that in the past four years maybe it's improved. It's certainly long overdue.

The story kept me engrossed, and I loved watching Darcy and her friends grow, learn about each other, and grow some more. I won't say there were any huge surprises along the way, but it was an enjoyable ride.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

 Release Date - March 2, 2021

Days before they're to go on an anniversary trip to London, Caroline Parcewell learns her husband had an affair. She's hurt and opts to go on the trip on her own. When she comes across a tour guide who hosts a mudlarking adventure, something inspires her to join in. It's on the banks of the Thames that she finds an old glass jar.

Back in the 1700s, Nella works in secret as an apothecary creating potions and powders that are designed to help women kill off the men in their lives that have caused them some form of harm. There are two rules Nella always follows. The poisons can never be used on a woman and all names of buyers and victims must be recorded in a secret ledger.

Past and present merge when Caroline starts using her untouched history degree to research the jar's history. She stumbles into a series of apothecary murders in the 18th century and realizes she may have the key to solving them.

This book bounces between present day and the 1700s. It was fascinating to better understand Nella's methods and reasons for her actions. Caroline's research is just as appealing. While you know who the killer is from the start, the real mystery is why she does what she does and how she keeps getting away with it.

Every page kept me hooked and I ended up reading The Lost Apothecary in one sitting. The cover art is gorgeous, the narrative and storyline is engaging, and the look back at times long past was fascinating. It's not wonder that this book is gaining so much buzz from book groups. It's a must-read.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Dangerous Women by Hope Adams

 Release Date - February 16, 2021

I adored U2 as a teen and never gave much thought to the song Van Diemen's Land. In 1841, 180 women convicted of crimes board a ship bound for Van Diemen's Land. In what would become Tasmania, these women will serve their time for crimes such as petty theft. One woman hides a secret that she will do anything to keep hidden.

As the ship sets sail, the women get to know each other. It isn't long before one of the women, a young mother, is stabbed and struggling to stay alive. The matron and the ship's captain lead the questioning to try to determine the killer's identity.

Dangerous Women is told from several perspectives and in the past and present. There are plenty of women on the ship, but you'll spend the majority of the time seeing the mystery play out between Kezia, the matron, and Clara, the women with a secret. There's also Hattie, the victim, whose story is focused on events leading to the stabbing and then as she lays in a coma with her young son by her side.

I don't always love historical fiction, but this mystery hooked me. I wanted to know what Clara's big secret was. I wanted to know what happened to Hattie. I really wanted to know if Kezia would find what she was looking for both on the ship and once they landed in Van Diemen's Land. I was never disappointed.

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...