Review: Perennials by Juile Cantrell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.

Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up in Oxford, MS, surrounded by literary history and her mother’s stunning perennial gardens. But a garden shed fire and the burns suffered by one of her best friends seemed to change everything. Her older sister Bitsy blamed her for the fire—and no one spoke up on her behalf. Bitsy the cheerleader, Bitsy the homecoming queen, Bitsy married to a wealthy investor. And all the while, Lovey blamed for everything that goes wrong.

At eighteen, Lovey turns down a marriage proposal, flees from Oxford and the expectations of attending Ole Miss, and instead goes to Arizona—the farthest thing from the South she can imagine. She becomes a successful advertising executive, a weekend yoga instructor, and seems to have it all together. But she’s alone. And on her 45th birthday, she can’t help but wonder what’s wrong.

When she gets a call from her father—still known to everyone as Chief from his Ole Miss football days—insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration, she’s at wits end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, the one that will secure her financial goals and set her up for retirement. But his words, “Family First,” hit too close to home. Is there hope for her estranged relationship with Bitsy after all this time?

Eva’s journey home, to the memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother, becomes one of discovering roots, and truth, and love, and what living perennially in spite of disappointments and tragedy really means. Eva thought she wanted to leave her family and the South far behind . . . but she’s realizing she hasn’t truly been herself the whole time she’s been gone.

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Perennials by Julie Cantrell is an interesting read. I found it intriguing. I couldn’t imagine having a distant and bitter relationship with my sister. The major theme  in this contemporary women’s fiction piece is forgiveness.

The main protagonist, Eva, has a great life away from her home and family. That past life is one she worked hard to get away from fast. Yet, now, her parents want her back home for their wedding anniversary. There Eva will have to face her past, her fears, and let go of her demons.

Overall, Perennials is a novel about letting go of the past and moving forward. A journey of hope, truth, and healing. Julie Cantrell can write well. Her characters were easy to relate to and follow. Their troubles were realistic. I enjoyed reading this. I recommend it to readers everywhere.

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Review: Amanda Wakes Up

Synopsis:

The Devil Wears Prada meets Primary Colors in this wickedly funny debut novel about a bootstrapping young reporter who lands a plum job at a big-time cable news station and finds her ambitions and her love life turned upside down.
When Amanda Gallo, fresh from the backwater of local TV, lands the job of her dreams at FAIR News—the coveted morning anchor slot—she’s finally made it: a six-figure salary, wardrobe allowance, plenty of on-air face time, and a chance to realize her dreams, not to mention buy herself lunch. Amanda Wakes Up takes off as Amanda feels for the first time that she can make her mom and her best friend proud and think about an actual future with her boyfriend, Charlie. But she finds her journalistic ideals shredded as she struggles to keep up with the issues in a ratings-crazed madhouse—battling for hair and makeup time, coping with her sexist (but scathingly handsome) coanchor, Rob, mixing up the headlines with pajama modeling on the street, and showing Benji Diggs, her media maestro boss, that she’s got what it takes.
As the news heats up in a hotly contested election season and a wild-card candidate, former Hollywood actor Victor Fluke, appears on the scene, Amanda’s pressure-cooker job gets hotter as her personal life unravels. Walking a knife’s edge between ambition and survival, and about to break the biggest story of her career, Amanda must decide what she’s willing to give up to get ahead—and what she needs to hold on to save herself. 

Rating: 4-stars

Review

Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota is a great read. This story, brings to life the daily struggles of a journalist. Media coverage, ethics, and politics all swarmed into an interesting novel. The pacing was steady. But the plot was worth reading. I took to the main protagonist, Amanda Gallo. Her personality was of an ambitious woman trying to climb up and make her career in broadcast journalism by also keeping herself intact. I enjoyed the realities of the situations the character experiened. It definitely was a journey to follow. Overall, Amanda Wakes Up is a must read for all readers especially, women. A lot of social themes were explored here. 

Review: The Art of Hiding






Synopsis:

Nina McCarrick has it all: a loving husband, two beautiful boys, a well-appointed home and more time than she knows what to do with. Life is perfect. Until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse is one of the most believable tale I’ve read. A story of loss, love, and hope. The loss of a father and husband, losing their home, and moving to a new place.  Plus, a single widowed mother dealing with a teenager who seems like he’s connecting with her anymore. A you’re son who loves her still but is also wanting to be like his big brother. Sweet, heartfelt, and realistic. 

The title, The Art of Hiding, fits well. I was amazed at how well the mother holds onto the little she has. Her sons. Going after a career, a new home, and a new area can place a lot of stress and emotions on a family that has already lost so much. But with time, there’s hope and maybe even some healing. I was throughly entertained with this book. Every page was exciting. Something always caught my attention and held it there until the ending. Amanda Prowse is a talented writer. This, was the second novel of hers that I’ve read. Enjoyable, easy to follow along, and great characters to love. Overall, I recommend this novel to all. 

Review: The Chocolate Comeback 




Synopsis:

Fame, fortune and fashion: that’s aspiring model Deirdre Cash’s ideal life. But when her splashy New York career dries up, she swallows her pride and returns to Marietta, Montana, desperate for any work she can find.
Isaac Litton doesn’t want the intrusion of a home care aide for his brother, Mark. But when the young man takes a shine to DeeDee, Isaac decides to give her a chance. He can’t help but be impressed when DeeDee changes his brother’s life around, by rewarding his healthy habits and exercising with treats from the Copper Mountain Chocolate Shop. Gorgeous and opinionated, DeeDee stirs everything up in the Litton household, including an attraction that Isaac can’t deny.
As DeeDee and Isaac start to fall for each other, an unexpected opportunity arises that could launch DeeDee back into the modeling scene. It’s her chance to achieve everything she’s ever wanted. But taking it would mean letting down her friends at the chocolate shop, her family who believes in her, a boy who adores her, and a man who thinks she’s already perfect, just the way she is. 

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Chocolate Comeback by Roxanne Snopek is another brilliant masterpiece by this talented writer. I highly recommend this to all. There’s humor, romance, and and chocolate. I loved this deadly combo. I was enchanted throughout the book. The main character, DeeDee, is fascinating. She doubts herself when a new challenge arises yetshe goes about doing it anyway. I really liked that about DeeDee. It made her real. Plus, her personality is a bubbly one. It would be hard not to smile when DeeDee is around…

Roxanne Snopek created a beautiful enriching story. Here, inside her seventh novel, we meet Issac who has a brother, Mark. Mark has a learning disability. This part of the novel caught my attention and snagged me further into the fictional tale. I loved how the main charcater interacted with Issac’s brother, Mark. She ends up helping Mark improve himself and his life. A positive and heart felt journey. The Chocolate Comeback is exciting, entertaining, and well-written. Overall, I highly recommend it. 

Review: Family Secrets (book one)

 

Synopsis:

Alexis has had big dreams all her life, and she’s worked hard to make them happen! After college, she married and had a beautiful baby boy, living her dream as “Mommy” until Colton was safely entrenched in grade school. She lands her dream job at NASA, and her supportive husband, Jay, takes the lead on raising their son. The perfect family, right?

Twelve years later with no warning and no reason, Jay commits suicide. Colton goes into denial and blames his mother; Alexis buries herself in her work.

Seven months later, Alexis’s biggest dream comes true. She’s going to be on the next space shuttle! Her victory is short-lived when she finds out she has breast cancer. As her health declines, Colton delves into the dangerous circumstances of his father’s death.

“Family Secrets” crept into Alexis’s life when she wasn’t paying attention. Will she and her son ever find out the truth? Or is it too late?

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Family Secrets by Donna M. Zadunajsky is the first novel in the Secrets and Second Chances series. I absolutely love this writer’s work. The characters are so easy to relate to as well as likable. Dreams, secrets, betrayal, and misunderstandings are all within this exciting tale. Readers are brought to a family that appears to be the perfect family. All is going well that is until a husband’s death and other things pop up like cancer and a deeper investigation into te death of a father and husband. A family is wanting the truth but will it be what they want to hear?

Donna M. Zadunajsky presents one mystery after another inside her novel, Family Secrets. Each page carries a high volume of suspense that kept on building up as I followed the characters. The emotional journey was believable and enticing. The characters led me to feel sad, frustrated, ad hoping for the best as the story unfolded. One event can rip a family apart faster than I thought. Here, I got a real world glimpse into how what the characters didn’t or did do that still made it tough for both of them to cope and forward together. Being a mother is tougher than it appears. The mother inside this novel ends up realizing just how much her work has kept her from witnessing and being there to support her child. Her son. I loved the ending…Family Secrets is a definite must read for all. The entire book is written in a way that lured me in deep. I can’t wait to read more by this talented writer. Overall, I highly recommend this read to all.

Review: All Summer Long

 

Synopsis:

All Summer Long follows one charming New York couple – prominent interior designer Olivia Ritchie and her husband Nicholas Seymour, an English professor and true southern gentleman.  They are seemingly polar opposites, yet magnetically drawn together and in love for more than fourteen years.

As they prepare to relocate to Charleston, S.C., Olivia, the ultimate New Yorker, has reservations about the promise she made to retire in the Lowcountry, where Nick wants to return home and lead a more peaceful life.  They are moving north to south, fast pace versus slow pace and downsizing.  Nick is ecstatic.  Olivia is not.   She can’t let Nick know that their finances are not what he thought.   Her client list is evaporating, their monetary reserves are dwindling and maybe that house she picked out on Sullivans Island needs too much work.  Thank God, for her assistant, Roni Larini, her right (and sometimes left) hand.

As they find themselves pondering the next step of their lives, Olivia and Nick travel with her billionaire clients and their friends and are swept up into the world of the ultra-rich and explore the globe with a cast of zany eccentrics over one tumultuous, hot summer. All as Olivia grapples with what lies ahead for her and Nick.

This is a story of how plans evolve and lives change in unexpected ways, how even those who have everything are still looking for something more.  Even the most successful people can often struggle to keep things together.  All Summer Long asks the ultimate question: can money buy happiness?  From Sullivans Island to Necker Island to Nantucket to the beaches of Southern Spain, we’ll come to recognize the many faces of true love, love that deepens and endures but only because one woman makes a tremendous leap of faith. And that leap changes everything.

Rating: 4 stars

Review:

All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank is a truly a thoughtful novel. One that takes readers on a journey of finding what they really want and need in life. Marriage is not easy but it takes courage, sacrifices, and love. A woman and her husband get to take a vacation and it’s on this vacation she gets to think about everything. Maybe her marriage is okay and will survive no matter what is happening with her work and career. Marriage, after all, is for better or worse, rich or poor. All Summer Long is an exploration and deep thinking that leaves readers wondering what will happen next. Dorothea Benton Frank portrays the life of a wife and husband beautifully in this tale. I found the beginning a bit slow for my taste but once I moved past that…the plot was steady. Overall, I enjoyed the sneak peek into these characters lives and recommend it to all.