Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

Falling in love and marrying during a war usually turns out to be a good thing, but for Virginia Fortescue Fitzwilliam it wasn’t working out.

Virginia fell in love, married, and then spent hardly any time with her husband.  The war is over, she still hasn’t seen him, and then she returns to the United States to her father and her sister. 

Her family has secrets, and she finds out Simon does too. Simon seems to be the perfect manipulator and liar.

We follow Virginia and Simon Fitzwilliam as the book goes back and forth from WWI to after the war and as their love affair blossomed and faded and the secrets Simon held were revealed.

After three years of not seeing Simon, a fire in Cocoa Beach claimed his life, Virginia went there to settle things, and her adventure in Florida begins…well if you want to call it an adventure.   An adventure is to be fun, but Virginia runs into trouble and more secrets.

COCOA BEACH had beautifully detailed writing.  It was a bit slow at first, but the story line was marvelous as always and filled with mystery.

COCOA BEACH is another winner by Beatriz Williams that keeps you turning the pages wanting to know what really happened and what really was going on.  

Something sinister was brewing throughout, and the end will have you saying: What?  Who was the bigger liar?

ENJOY if you read COCOA BEACH…a marvelous, thoughtful read with mystery and lot of questions.  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

Ronni Sunshine is a famous, wonderful, pleasant actress on stage, but at home she is anything but wonderful and pleasant. She has no time for her daughters.

We follow Meredith, Nell, and Lizzy as they grow up in an unloving household with a mother who is more of a tyrant than a mother and a mother who cares only for herself.

The girls flee the nest one at a time and have troubles of their own because of their childhood, but now that Ronni is dying, she wants her daughters to rally around her. Ronni also had something else in mind when she invited her daughters back to their childhood home.

Each sister has a totally different personality, and it was interesting to follow them to see the path each one took.  Nell seemed to be the responsible one.  Meredith seemed to still be looking for happiness.  Lizzy was still the fly-by-night, spoiled one.

The family issues and the different lifestyles the girls led were nicely developed by Ms. Green and could be the lifestyle of any young girl growing up trying to make choices.

This is my first book by Ms. Green.  It was an enjoyable read and not something I normally read so I was surprised how her writing and story line pulled me in.

Nell seemed like a genuine person who worked hard in her life to make up what she had missed during her childhood.

Meredith kept speaking to me because of the way she put everyone before herself and kept the peace.

Lizzy was self-centered like her mother, and I liked her the least.

The characters did grow on me as they grew emotionally and made choices they never thought they would.

Women’s fiction fans will enjoy this book because of the family drama, regrets, healing, how Ms. Green addressed relationships of both family and friendship as well as addressing end-of-life decisions.  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review.

You’ll Never Know, Dear

 When a child disappears, the pain never goes away no matter how long ago it has been.

Lis Woodham’s four-year-old sister, Janey, along with her doll disappeared forty years ago and was never found.  There were no clues about what happened then and no clues now.

Each year Janey’s mother, Miss Sorrel, would put an ad in the paper on the anniversary of the disappearance in hopes that someone would come forward with the doll or information about her daughter’s disappearance and earn the reward offered.  There never was an answer to the ad for all of those years except for now.  Someone saw the ad and brought a battered doll to their house hoping it was Janey’s.

Before they could tell if the doll was actually Janey’s, the person bringing the doll ran out of the house and disappeared.

This caused more anxiety for the family, and it seemed that once the doll was returned, the family was plagued with danger. Their house was burglarized and then filled with carbon monoxide causing harm to Grandma Sorrel and Lis.

The accident brought Lis’s daughter, Vanessa, home to help take care of her mother and grandmother, and Vanessa got involved in the forty-year-old investigation. 

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR was a mystery that will definitely hold your interest because of Ms. Ephron’s talent of drawing the reader into the story.

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR wasn’t fast paced or gripping, but had just enough intrigue to keep you turning the pages.

The ending revealed quite a few secrets that some of the characters wished had not been revealed and other secrets that were welcome revelations.

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR was a good mystery with tense moments and a mystery that will keep you guessing.  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

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My guest reviewer is my son, Mark, who did a marvelous job reviewing a book I didn’t have time to read nor one that would have held my interest.

He read the book on his way back from a trip to Europe.  The photo is while he was on the plane and in his pajamas.  🙂  He was flying first class in Lufthansa…excellent airline to fly.

Thank you, Mark.  I hope you, my readers, enjoy his take on THE ESSEX SERPENT, and if you have read the book, let us know what you think.

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When I was first invited to do a guest review for this book, I was so excited because I love historical European fiction, especially in Britain.  And then I found out a little bit more like a vicious sea serpent, a gruesome murder, a grieving widow all the makings of a title worthy of top ranking on my bookshelf.  

My initial excitement could not have been more wrong, but in a different way than I initially expected, and overall I was surprised and mildly charmed by THE ESSEX SERPENT by Sarah Perry.

The book begins with a death in prominent Victorian English high-society and continues on with a widow who should be grieving, but seemingly felt bound by the chains of marriage and therefore seemed somewhat relieved by her husband’s untimely death.  

The story begins when the widow, Cora, relocates from London to Essex to raise her now fatherless son.  Cora integrates herself into Essex society as if she were one of the locals, especially with the local Vicar, William Ransome.  The base of the story and the main characters all seem to circle around this relationship and focus on the events of their comings and goings.

Admittedly, I was expecting a book about Cora and her love interest, the local Vicar, chasing a serpent through the English countryside to discover the identity of the beast who was on a murdering rampage through Essex.  Instead, this is a book about human life, love, religion, medicine, surgery and the human heart.  

Depending on your take on this, this is both a good and a bad twist.  This is a good twist because at the end of the story, I understood the point of view of the author when writing to create a world where the “serpent” had paralyzed the town with fear; however, I really was expecting a genuine mystery instead of a story about human life and tendencies.  

As the story weaves through 11 months of the year, I can’t say that I am disheartened with the way the author chose to spin the story; however, ultimately I ended up disappointed.  The lack of expected thrill and mystery of chasing the serpent left me wishing I had stopped reading when the chapter turned from January to February.  

However, when I finally got to the crux of the story approximately 395 pages into the book, I smiled.  The story is a heartwarming tale of the way fear of the unknown changes people and brings unexpected relationships to fruition.  

Overall the story kept my attention, but it had a lot of secondary characters who I still cannot grasp their relevance to the main plot. Throughout the story I had trouble keeping up with who was who and their relevance. 

The story jumped frequently between different characters, settings, and seemingly unrelated themes which left me going back to a previous chapters to recollect their significance.   

At the end of the day, the title of the book enraptured me into thinking it would be a heroic tale of chasing and slaying a serpent, but ended up a love story and one of human character and its frailties.  3/5.


This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Before The Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio

As Della was released from prison after her life sentence and returning to Puerto Pesar, The Port of Regret, she wondered if she would regret going back since her life had definitely been a regret for more than one reason.

Della had been found guilty of murdering her sister Eula.  The trial and the story became well known, and portraits of both Della and her sister became famous. Eula’s portrait, the Santa Bonita, was most talked about and rumored to have actual tears falling from her eyes.  Della should have been the one with tears for having to spend her life in prison only four hours after she had married Tomas.

We move to another family in town that also had two sisters and a grandmother that raised them. They were sisters, Paloma and Mercedes, who knew the story of Della and Eula.  Paloma went to New York to become a doctor and has returned for a month to take care of her grandmother who had a heart attack.  The younger sister, Mercedes, was trouble from the beginning and still was but Paloma was trying to reconnect and help Mercedes.

Another person who knew the story of the murder, Della’s prison term, and the crying portrait was, Mick, a reporter from New York looking for a story to boost his career.  When all three of these
characters meet, an intriguing story is created that you won’t want to put down.

BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS has a mesmerizing cover and a mesmerizing story line.  The characters are very easy to connect with and love.  We follow the story and the characters as the author takes us back and forth between what Della’s life was like before and during her prison term, when she returns home, and her interaction with the town and its residents.  All characters are connected to Della’s story in one way or another.

BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS had me completely absorbed.  Ms. Di Maio has a writing style that just pulls you in, allows you to meet characters you will fall in love with, and meet characters you would want to have in your life.

BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS has love, family, tears, heartbreak, and yearning, but ultimately gives you a warm feeling inside.

BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS has a beautiful cover, a beautiful story line, and beautiful, heartfelt characters.

Do NOT miss reading BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS.  Absolutely LOVED this book.

 It is a perfect book for women’s fiction fans and makes you feel the need to hug all your women friends and family.  5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher and Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

As if losing your hearing because of a hit-and-run driver wasn’t enough trauma, Amelia and her service dog, Stitch, found a dead body of a fellow nurse on the beach.

In addition to losing her hearing and her job as a trauma nurse, Amelia’s depression and drinking also caused the failure of her marriage and her income. She desperately needed a job and needed to get back into society because she was still living on her savings after two years and was lonely.

We follow Amelia through her days and nights and her fear about the killer knowing she was the one who found the body, her fear about little things happening while she is away from home, her fear about public interaction, and her continued fear of living in her silent world with people who have the ability to hear even though she can sign and read lips.

We also follow the police investigation with Jake, the head detective, and his protectiveness of Amelia.  Is he only being overly protective because he is Ameilia’s brother’s best friend or for some other reason.  Is he also being overprotective when she does investigating herself because she is putting herself in danger by “snooping​?”

Ms. Gudenkauf puts you into Amelia’s life and has you wondering what it would be like to be deaf as you empathize with Amelia. Ms. Gudenkauf’s research must have been extensive to make the reader completely feel and experience what Amelia was experiencing as she dealt with the everyday trials of her hearing loss and trying to find out who the murderer was.

The suspense in NOT A SOUND picked up at every turn of the page, and I had a few suspects in mind. Ms. Gudenkauf’s writing style pulls you in and keeps you interested and wondering what secrets some of the characters are keeping.

If you enjoy suspense at its best, you won’t want to miss NOT A SOUND.  I couldn’t stop reading.  5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 

Rise & Shine, Benedict Stone by Phaedra Patrick

A knock on the door in the middle of the night could only mean one thing, right?  Bad news.

If it were Estelle, though, it would be good news so Benedict decided to answer the knock.

Much to his surprise, it wasn’t Estelle, but Gemma who announced that she was his niece from America and she had lost her purse, her passport, and her phone.  She wanted to stay with Uncle Ben.  What else could he say but yes?

Gemma was a bit on the troublesome side, but she also was good for Benedict since the house was pretty lonely since Estelle left.

Gemma was the one who was helping Benedict change even though Gemma was pretty closed mouth about why she appeared on his doorstep and didn’t want to call her father to let him know where she was.

Benedict was sweet but naive and had a heart of gold.  He and Gemma grew together, and Gemma helped Benedict in his jewelry shop – a shop Gemma said needed some new ideas and changes just like Benedict did.

Gemma also was playing matchmaker as she helped her Uncle Ben get his wife back.

I thoroughly enjoyed Benedict and felt sorry for him as he worked through living without his wife.  His jewelry shop and their love just hadn’t been enough for them after they were unable to have children after eight years.

RISE & SHINE, BENEDICT STONE was a heartwarming read about family, about trying new things, and about trying to get what you need in life.

If you need an uplifting read for any reason, RISE & SHINE, BENEDICT STONE fits the bill.  It brings back memories and thoughts of the precious things we all have in our lives and truly need to focus on.

ENJOY!!  5/5

This book was give to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.