Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Orchid Inn: Orchid Island Book One by Aisling Delaney

 Release Date - October 2021 (Originally)

The version of The Orchid Inn that I reviewed supposedly has an April 2022 release date. I am not finding that version on Amazon, however. The cover is different on this one, but the book remains the same.

It's worst-case scenario time for Ava Flynn. She's just learned her husband has drained their accounts and left for Europe. That's just the start. She also learns that she's being fired from her job at a high-power law firm in NYC. She's broke and isn't even sure she wants to return to the job she's been fired from. It's the perfect time to head home to her grandmother's inn on Orchid Island, off the coast of Rhode Island.

There, she learns her sisters Charlotte and Sarah are also coming for the summer. She's excited to see Charlotte, but she and Sarah had a major falling out years ago. While helping their grandmother run the inn, the trio also have to mend relationships, figure out what they want to do next, and relive events from 17 years ago that changed their lives forever. It's exactly what they need to move forward.

I was drawn from the start, and once Ava hit Orchid Island, I started to wonder if the island was modeled after Block Island. If you've never been to Block Island, I highly recommend it. Sit on the front porch of the Harborside Inn, having an icy cold Flying Jenny and taking in the scenery before you start exploring.

I loved the story and was drawn into all three sisters' lives, though I do say that Sarah was the one I liked the least. She was foolish, especially as you go into her past.

The ending came off as rushed. I was a little disappointed by how quickly one thing happened. But, despite that, I was still drawn to the island and characters.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

 May 21, 2019

I've tried several times to get through The Scent Keeper. I liked the writing style, but the plot just never drew me in. In an effort to clear it out, I tried once more. It was still a struggle.

Emmeline lives on a remote island with her father. He's never revealed the reason he has small bottles in drawers that line the walls of the cabin they live in. All she knows is he is overly protective of the pieces of paper and "scents" within those bottles. His scent machine is a mystery to her, and one that he will not share. 

As time passes, a tragedy befalls this small family. Suddenly, Emmeline is thrust into the world where a couple takes her in. Her new life is in an unfamiliar land where she's not living off nature and exploring by herself. She doesn't fit in and faces things like bullying. Emmeline needs to find her place in a sometimes cruel world, and it's going to start by examining how she got to this point.

Once again, I struggled. The writing is so lyrical, but it's never been enough to draw and hold my attention. I found myself pushing through and while some sections tugged at my heart, the rest of the journey had me wanting to give up too many times. For me, it just never clicked as a book I'd want to read over and over.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Release Date - March 29, 2022

I adored Dial A for Aunties. I spent more time laughing during that book than I'd laughed at a book in a long time. Four Aunties and a Wedding is just as much fun. I can only imagine those headpieces!

Meddy Chan's wedding is fast approaching. She doesn't expect her mom and aunties to pick the most ridiculous gowns and headpieces she's ever seen. Worse, they find the perfect wedding team within their own family. Soon, Meddy and Nathan are agreeing to hiring family members that Meddy's never met before, but it all seems perfect.

And then the night before the wedding, Meddy overhears her cousin and photographer talking on the phone about a target. She confronts her cousin and learns they're Asian mafia and the wedding day will go as planned so that they can do their job. If she tells anyone, they'll reveal the truth about Meddy's family to the police.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Meddy cannot figure out how she can have Nathan and everything she's ever wanted. It's up to the aunties and Meddy's mom to save the day.

What a delightful story. It's full of mishaps, humor, romance, and so much more. I curled up with an iced coffee, sat outside in the sun, and let the book take me away. It was amazing.

Meddy's aunties and mom are just as hilarious as in the past. They have the ideal family situation. They love her dearly, but the cultural differences prove amusing from time to time. It makes them even more endearing.

I highly recommend curling up somewhere warm and sunny with Jesse Q. Sutanto's latest. If you're like me and enjoy your iced (or hot) coffee while you read, I stumbled onto a subscription coffee service where you get a surprise bag or two each month. Best of all, the coffee is roasted the same day it's shipped.

You never know what country is next until the box ships. My first month was Costa Rica. Coming up is Tanzania. I usually stick to local coffees, but Atlas made it worth it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Finding Home Again by Brenda Jackson

 Release Date - October 2019

Some of the books I read don't click the first time. I try to work back to them and give them additional changes. I have loved the Catalina Cove Novel collection, but Finding Home Again never quite clicked. I finished it this time, but I still don't think it was one of my favorites from this series.

Kaegan broke Bryce's heart many years ago when he made an assumption rather than asking her for an explanation. She never intended to give him a second chance. But, he's back in town and they keep running into each other.

When Kaegan learns the truth of that night so many years ago, he cannot believe he let her slip away. He will do anything possible to win her back, but is it too late?

I think this is one of those stories where I had a hard time sympathizing with the hero. He was an idiot and while he realizes it, it's hard to forgive him for making such a stupid decision in the first place. I'd like to rule it out as being a juvenile mistake, but I feel he was really old enough at that point. That made me dislike him and think that Bryce could do better.

There's a bit of suspense added to the story. That was my other issue. There was enough going on between the two that I don't need the additional conflict was really that important. In the end, as much as I've loved the other books in this series, this one never tugged at my heartstrings.

First Kiss at Christmas by Lee Tobin McClain

Release Date - October 2021

In the midst of all life's thrown my way, I read this months ago and failed to review it. First Kiss at Christmas is a fantastic romance. Kayla Harris is a school teacher with plenty of male friends, but never seems to find Mr. Right. When Tony DeNunzio brings his nephew, Jax, into her classroom, she feels an attraction. 

Tony's goal this year is to help his young nephew adjust to a new home and new life without his mom. Love is not in the picture, yet the more time Tony spends with Kayla, the more he can't ignore the attraction. Is there something more there?

This is an uplifting, delightful romance with a strong hero and the right balance of chemistry and caution. The character never lose track of Jax's need to be the center of attention. I loved that.

The Next Thing You Know by Jessica Strawser

Release Date - March 22, 2022

Years ago, I read Me Before You and absolutely loved it. I worked my way through all of Jojo Moyes books after that. When I saw that The Next Thing You Know was of a similar storyline, I knew I had to read it.

Nova works as an end-of-life doula, a career that makes sense to anyone facing a terminal illness or end-of-life scenario, yet not everyone understands it. Mason, a musician, seeks  Nova out, despite not really understanding her work. Mason's career as he knows it is over, due to a debilitating condition that he doesn't really tell Nova too much about.

Despite his younger age, Nova agrees to help him. It's what she does, yet this is one of the most personal, challenging clients she's ever had.

There's more to this story than I feel comfortable bringing up. A major plot twist hits and the story then goes between past and present to tell Nova and Mason's experiences together.

An end-of-life doula is a career I believe needs to be spotlighted more than it is. With rising cases of Alzheimer's, every family could use this kind of support system. For that reason, I connected with Nova.

I never found as tight a bond with Mason. As the main point of the story hits, I found myself sad, angry, and back, which impacted how I felt. I liked the story, but I didn't find it as magical as I expected or hoped. I just became annoyed with how quickly things could all change.

The Road to Christmas: A Sweet Holiday Romance Novel by Sheila Roberts

Release Date - September 20, 2022  Sit down and explore the holiday season through four sets of eyes in Sheila Roberts' latest holiday...