Jane in Austin

A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility

by Hillary Manton Lodge

 

Oh my gosh I fell hard for this book it was such a sweet – charming – heartwarming tale. Usually Jane Austen retelling’s don’t grab me but this one sure did. The cast of characters were all very real feeling. Jane, Celia, and Margot were the sweetest sisters and I loved their closeness even when they were starting to drift a little apart due to strain and stress they still looked out for each other and had each other’s back. Jane and Celia have guardianship of Margot after their dad broke a lot of laws and went into hiding. To stay afloat and start over new they opened a Tea Shop! Oh my how I love my tea so I loved the idea of having a cute little tea shop that offered tea and pastries. My tea shop would also have used books so I could combine my love of tea – books and yummy treats (especially macarons!) They lose everything yet again and pack up to stay with family in Texas. Oh the cast of characters in Texas all have such big personalities. Some are great and have big hearts to go with the saying everything is bigger in Texas. However there is one in particular that I knew was just a little to good to be true from the very beginning. I really wanted someone else to capture Jane’s heart. Retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett was shattered and picking up the pieces not only from his injury but from losing the last member of his family. He had lost his mom when he was young, his brother while he was a Marine and his dad at the very moment he also lost a lot of his Marine team and his leg. I can’t even imagine how someone could lose all so much and still be standing. He was a strong guy that was working through a lot. Jane was that quirky girl who captured his heart with her bold – blunt – a bit odd in her love of tea plants more than people personality. I’ll leave the review at that, since I don’t want to spoil anything. If you’ve read and remember Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility than you know how it ends. The author really has a wonderfully fun writing style and I’ll be checking out her other books very soon. Oh I forgot to mention the best part – the book has recipes! I love books about food that include yummy recipes. There are a few I will be trying very soon. Most of the recipes are sweet treats but there are a few savory ones as well. You probably already guessed it but the sweet treats have a tea twist in the fact that tea is incorporated into the recipe somehow – LOVE it! Oh I almost forgot the rating: I give this book a 100% A+ no actually this one gets over 100% because I’m giving it extra credit for being such a sweet (clean) romance! so A++ this one will be a top 10 of 2017.

about the book: This hip contemporary romance combines Jane Austen-inspiration and foodie fiction in a witty and engaging tale of two sisters who are forced to uproot to unfamiliar Austin, Texas, after high rent and broken relationships force them away from their San Francisco life.  Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop.The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again. But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper. While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected–Texas. In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

Thank you Waterbrook Press and Blogging for Books for the copy of Jane in Austin. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

She’s Not There

by Joy Fielding

You can’t go wrong when it’s a Joy Fielding book. There are a few authors that I know no matter what the books will be great and she is one of those authors. She’s Not There reminds me a lot of the Madeleine McCann case in the beginning. That case I remember so well since I had a 2.5 year old at the time. I couldn’t even imagine what that family went through and still goes through on a day to day basis.

She’s Not There I think did a good job at portraying how the family dynamics fall apart when a tragedy falls on them. I thought each character was developed very well and while I can say I didn’t like some of them I did enjoy reading their stories and how they unfolded. The oldest daughter is exactly how I see a child that is left would act. The story was a page turner and I liked how it kept shifting from present day to year past as the whole story developed. I saw a small part of the ending that happened but I didn’t really see the whole curve ball that was thrown. In all I should have but Joy Fielding did a great job at keeping the reader guessing how they missed some of those clues.  I give this one a A  and would recommend it for any reader. There is no gore or violence – just a good old suspense story that while might not be exactly ripped from the headlines, most of us will see some similarities.

summary:  “I think my real name is Samantha. I think I’m your daughter.”
Carole Shipley’s heart nearly stops when she hears those words from the voice on the other end of the phone. Instantly, she’s thrust fifteen years into the past, to a posh resort in Baja, Mexico—and the fateful night her world collapsed.
The trip is supposed to be a celebration. Carole’s husband, Hunter, convinces her to leave their two young daughters, Michelle and Samantha, alone in their hotel suite while the couple enjoys an anniversary dinner in the restaurant downstairs. But returning afterward, Carole and Hunter make a horrifying discovery: Two-year-old Samantha has vanished without a trace.
What follows are days, weeks, and years of anguish for Carole. She’s tormented by media attention that has branded her a cold, incompetent mother, while she struggles to save her marriage. Carole also has to deal with the demands of her needy elder daughter, Michelle, who is driven to cope in dangerous ways. Through it all, Carole desperately clings to the hope that Samantha will someday be found—only to be stung again and again by cruel reality.
Plunged back into the still-raw heartbreak of her daughter’s disappearance, and the suspicions and inconsistencies surrounding a case long gone cold, Carole doesn’t know whom or what to believe. The only thing she can be sure of is that someone is fiercely determined to hide the truth of what happened to Samantha.

Lethal Lies {spotlight}

by Rebecca Zanetti

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A deadly secret can’t stay buried forever . . .

Revenge. It’s the only thing that will help Anya Best sleep at night. The serial killer who murdered her sister is on the loose, and Anya will stop at nothing to put him behind barseven use herself as bait to lure him out of hiding. But she can’t do this alone.

Private investigator Heath Jones’s job is to bring bastards to justice. This time it’s personal. He knew the Copper Killer’s latest victim so when her sister asks for his help, he’s all in. But when Anya uses the media to taunt the killer, she exposes Heath’s identity, putting them both in jeopardy. Now, secrets buried long ago are coming to light and the forces determined to destroy him are watching Heath’s every move, waiting to exact their own revenge. And they’ll use anything and anyone to get to Heath.

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Catching the Wind

by Melanie Dobson

 

 

I loved every minute of reading this book. It had it all family, love, mystery, survival and is split between 1940 and present day 2017. I haven’t read any book by Melanie Dobson but this book has changed that I really want to read more by her. She is a wonderful author and writes such a magical tale. She captures the reader from the first page and hold your interest till the end. I still think about Brigitte and Daniel even after finishing the book. I grabbed this book since I really seem to read a lot of WWII novels. Catching the Wind will be one of my top 10 favorites of 2017. She transports you back in time and flows back to present day very well. You don’t feel lost or that you’re a ping-pong ball reader. I loved that Daniel never lost hope on finding Brigitte. So many people lost track of loved one during WWII and this book really captures that moment in time. This book was full of hope and really had me capturing reading moments since I didn’t want to stop reading. I had to know what happened and if all was alright. However I also didn’t want the story to end. This is a great historical fiction book even if you’re not a historical fiction reader. Add Catching the Wind to you Summer Reading list! This book gets a A+ from me and even gets extra credit for being such a wonderful tug at your heart-strings book!

about the book: 

What happened to Brigitte Berthold?

That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen, when he and ten-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.

Now a wealthy old man, Daniel’s final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby’s tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons—and wary at the idea of teaming up with Daniel’s lawyer, Lucas Hough—the lure of Brigitte’s story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.

Thank you Tyndale Publishing and Melanie Dobson for allowing me to read Catching the Wind. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Orbiting Jupiter

by Gary D Schmidt

 

 

I’ve been seeing this book at my library for a few years now, and I’ve grabbed it many times but never read it before returning it. Well I finally grabbed it and sat down and read it in one sitting. Oh my gosh this book wrecked me! I had so many feels while reading this heartwarming and heartbreaking book!! I hope it wins many book awards because they would all be very well deserved. I was immediately drawn into the characters and felt like I had known them for a long time. Jack telling the story of his foster-brother Joseph and how Joseph’s only real goal was to find his daughter Jupiter was what intrigued me about this book. It is told by a 12-year-old boy  about a 14-year-old boy. That right there I’m not sure has ever been done, add the fact that they are just babies themselves. Joseph had a bad home life, heck he had the worse home life and got put into foster care. After a few tumbles he ended up with a loving opening family that ended up being his forever home. He wasn’t going to settle down till he got Jupiter back even if it meant doing it on his own. The book takes a drastic turn and I pretty much bawled through the last half of the book. Grab a copy of Orbiting Jupiter you will not be disappointed!!

About the Book: 

Jack, 12, tells the gripping story of Joseph, 14, who joins his family as a foster child. Damaged in prison, Joseph wants nothing more than to find his baby daughter, Jupiter, whom he has never seen. When Joseph has begun to believe he’ll have a future, he is confronted by demons from his past that force a tragic sacrifice.

Awards & Honors: Capitol Choices 2016
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books of 2015, Middle Grade
Booklist Best Young Adult Books of 2015
ALA Notable Books for Children 2016, Older Readers
VOYA’s Perfect Tens 2015; 2016 Winner, Notable Books for a Global Society
CCBC Choices 2016, Fiction for Young Adults
2015 Cybils Awards Nomination, Young Adult Fiction
ILA Young Adults’ Choices, 2016 Reading List
YALSA 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults
Children’s Book Committee Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of 2016, Coming of Age

Windfall

by Jennifer E Smith

 

 

We have all seen the people on TV that win the lottery and we’ve all thought about it. What would you do if you won the lottery? Windfall is a classic rags to riches story set in modern times. Teddy doesn’t have much and his mom works hard. When he gets a winning ticket for his birthday he goes a little wild, I mean who wouldn’t right? He’s 18 I guess it’s to be expected. I felt sorry for poor Alice who is in love with Teddy and then money changes everything and he turns into a rich snot. I don’t believe the old saying “money changes people”. I have some friends that won the lottery and they won big but you know what they are still their sweet self’s and they didn’t change personality wise. This is a contemporary fiction book which for me can be hit and miss. I have a few authors that I really like so I’m always looking to add a few more new ones to the bunch.  I haven’t read any of Jennifer E. Smiths books before at the library and always meant to grab one but never did. So I was happy to read Windfall as my first novel of her’s. Overall Windfall was OK if I had to grade it I’d give it a good solid C. It’s not a bad book and if you really like contemporary than you would love this one I think. For me I just didn’t get invested in the characters or the story line.

About the Book: Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

Thank you Delcorte Press and Blogging for Books for sending me a copy of Windfall. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Lock and Key and Just Listen

 

 

 

by Sarah Dessen

Enter Giveaway for Complete set of Sarah Dessen in paperback

 

 

Lock and Key was nothing like I expected. Usually I can whiz through a Sarah Dessen book pretty fast. This one was a bit more character driven and with a lot of back story weaved through out the book. I really enjoyed how Ruby and her cast of friends and family all had their own stories to tell. This book would be what I consider an ensemble cast each one just as important as the main character. I liked all the characters except Ruby and Cora’s mom and Mr Cross. I loved that Ruby had a big project about a single word: FAMILY and that many characters had to give their definition of the word. That little extra bit was fun and I loved all of Sarah Dessen’s explanations for Family.  Each time I read one and thought about the character that was giving it I thought it fit that person perfectly and was a good way to define family. The theme’s in Lock and Key: Family, Hope, Perseverance, Abandonment, Love, Trust, Loss and Acceptance. That is a lot for Teen Chick Lit right?! Lock and Key is a wonderful heartwarming book to read this summer – or anytime!

About the Book: Ruby, where is your mother?

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.

That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Just Listen

 

 

I really enjoyed Just Listen as well. It a win win week reading wise and I’m loving this ReadADessen campaign! Annabel is just a semi normal teen who is going through a lot. So many kids are bullied and harassed at school so this book will really hit home with those. School should be a safe buffer zone that kids can go to and not have to worry about what people are saying or be judged! In the beginning I wasn’t really invested in the story but I’d say with in the first 4 chapters I was hooked and wanted to know how Annabel’s story was going to play out. I didn’t like Sophie and really just wish she would go away. So much was going on at home that I really just wanted Annabel to have a happy time at school. Overall out of the two I read I really can’t pick a winner I loved them both and gave both a A- these are 2 I think would be great for some summer YA Chick Lit reading and something you and your teen could enjoy.

About the Book: Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

Thank you Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of Lock and Key for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book. I grabbed a copy of Lock and Key at my library for the ReadADessen campaign.

Giveaway Legal Copy:
Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Countdown to Once and For All book birthday: June 6th 2017

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