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Missing Isaac ~ Review

Missing Isaac
By Valerie Fraser Luessse

Isaac Reynolds was the first to let Pete McLean, his mother, and grandfather know that something bad had happened to his daddy. That day Isaac became the closest friend Pete had until the night he disappeared.

Pete knows that Isaac wouldn't just up and disappear without a word to anyone. But in Glory, Alabama, the disappearance of a black man is of no consequence to the sheriff, but not to Pete's way of thinking. And Pete's determined to discover just what happened to his friend. But some thing are just impossible and Pete can't find any clue as to what happened to Isaac.

In his efforts to find Isaac, Pete meets a young girl by the name of Dovey Pickett. The Picketts don't mix with the rest of the citizens of Glory on account of their social standing and being considered by the proper people to be poor white trash. But Pete doesn't see things the way most of Glory does. He's more like his Daddy seeing beyond what is there for all to see and seeing to the heart of a person. What starts on that day is a friendship that will see him through many a day and make a lasting impact on not only his life but those closest to him. And as to Isaac the worst is feared by those who know him best.

Missing Isaac takes place between 1962 and 1968, period of turbulence and change. But through it all this a book that dwells on the value of family and the loyalty of friendship. Like most places life isn't perfect but Pete knows what is important to him and he is willing to fight for what he feels is right. No, there is not a lot of fighting in this book, rather Pete knows what should be done and he persists in his efforts.

Missing Isaac was an enjoyable read - there were periods of sadness, times of joy, and good honest living in-between. Through it all Pete stayed true to who he was and the roots he was given. Often people lament the loss of simpler times but life has always been what you put into it and that is never simpler. I look forward to more from this author in the future, if this debut novel is any indication readers will be drawn into a world that they'll enjoy staying in for a spell.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher Revell through their blogger program with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
Isaac believed in luck. But from Pete's point of view, Isaac's luck had all run out.

When Pete McLean loses his father in the summer of 1962, his friend Isaac is one of the few people he can lean on. Though their worlds are as different as black and white, friendship knows no color. So when Isaac suddenly goes missing, Pete is determined to find out what happened--no matter what it costs him. His quest will lead him into parts of town that he knows only through rumors and introduce him to a girl who will change his life. What they discover together will change the small Southern town of Glory, Alabama--forever.

With vivid descriptions, palpable atmosphere, and unforgettable characters, debut novelist Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into the rural South of the 1960s--a place where ordinary people struggle to find their footing in a social landscape that is shifting beneath their feet.

Finding Beauty in the Beast ~ Review

Finding Beauty in the Beast
By Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee

Corbin wanted a new life one away from the pain of his intended's betrayal. And he hoped to find family in the Kingdom of Laurel, the land of his birth. His one regret was leaving behind his best friend Will. But Will had just married Ella and Corbin's engagement to Francine had ended the night of Prince Kenton's ball.

Prince Kenton's ball ended Princess Rose's engagement to the prince when he chose a commoner instead to be his bride and his princess.  For Corbin, his timing for arriving in Laurel was either very fortunate or unfortunate as Princess Rose, better known to her subjects and the surrounding kingdoms as The Beast, has determined to wed a commoner herself. All eligible men in Laurel have been commanded, not requested mind you, to present the princess with a gift upon pain of death or the dungeon. The gift most pleasing to the princess will result in the giver's immediate marriage to Princess Rose.

To Corbin's surprise and that of the onlooking crowd, his gift is chosen after a series of disastrously offered gifts. But can a poor blacksmith ever win the heart of a princess that became beastly following the death of her parents? Corbin can hope but when he starts to fall into the same air of despair that the castle is suffering from he may soon become a beast too.

Can Princess Rose and Corbin move beyond the labels they've been given? Will Rose ever be anything other than The Beast? And can Corbin become more than a simple blacksmith? Looking beyond what is readily seen may be the only thing that will save the Kingdom of Laurel and the royal family...

Fans of Jessilyn's previous works (Ella and Ella's Will) will enjoy this newest fairytale twist. Yes, Ella and Will have a part to play in this story but they take a secondary role this time. Again magic is absent from this retelling but the rose is the key to everything. This is a delightful and enchanting story that one can curl up with and read away the hours to one's heart's content.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher with no expectations of a positive review ~ All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
Princess Rose's fiery temper has kept every potential suitor away—until now. After being spurned and humiliated for the last time the princess forces every eligible man in the kingdom to present a gift to her under pain of death. The man who brings her the best gift will be chosen as her husband.

When Corbin is summoned to present his gift, he hopes that his simple offering will keep him safely overlooked. All he wants is to return to his quiet life as a common blacksmith, away from forbidding castles and beastly princesses. But love works in mysterious ways, and it all starts with a rose. . .

About the Author:

Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee was born the fourth of seven children into a family of avid readers, music lovers, movie quoters, and sports fans. Jessilyn graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English. She loves going on dates with her husband and playing with her five adorable, rambunctious boys. Jessilyn grew up in the beautiful high desert of Southern California and now resides in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. As you read this, she is probably folding laundry . . . or should be.


A beast. That was what they called her.

When she was in a good temper, Princess Rose's face was deceptively sweet, even
beautiful. Her large emerald eyes could appear tender, her rosebud lips touched with
softness. There was a time, some would say, that her voice was warm and full of life
and, though no one believed it, that she used to laugh.

But today, there was no hint of softness, no trace of tenderness. Her eyes blazed like
green fire and she pursed her lips until they became indistinguishable from her pale
skin. The freckles she painstakingly tried to hide glared angrily across her nose and
cheeks — cheeks deep crimson from humiliation. No tears would escape her eyes, no
quivering would touch her lips. She sat — cold and aloof her gaze fixed straight ahead,
glaring at the opposite wall of the swaying carriage.


Kiss Carlo ~ Review with Giveaway

Kiss Carlo
By Adriana Trigiani

Determined to save his village Carlo Guardinfante decides his only course of action is to set sail for America. Roseto, Pennsylvania, is his destination and a strange twist of fate changes what might have been into something different.

South Philadelphia is home to a thriving Italian-Ameican community and home to the Palazzini family. Unfortunately, the family has been split by a broken promise following the death of the family patriarch. And this divide has drifted down to the younger generation.

1949 is a time of change. The world is rebuilding itself into a new shape as those who survived the war attempt to find their place in it once again.

Nicky Castone is one of the drivers for his Uncle Dom's cab company. Having come back from the war to his fiancée Peachy DePino Nicky seems to be in no rush to tie the knot. When not driving Nicky works at the struggling Borelli Theatrical Company. The theater has a draw that offers Nicky something he's been missing in his life.

When a telegram comes into the Palazzini's Western Union office for delivery the stage is set and life for all those involved will be drastically changed - with Nicky taking center stage.

This is a story in which several generations of a family are all living together which as one might expect causes issues of its own. Many of the characters are a tad overbearing in their opinions and when it comes to Nicky's engagement everyone has an opinion on the suitability of the pair and if it will last.

My favorite character is Hortense Mooney, who works at the Palazzini's office and is the force that helps them all keep their heads in place. Hortense is an oddity in this world a woman of color in the midst of a very Italian neighborhood. Yet she has created a place for herself and when she gets roped into Nicky's crazy scheme manages to create yet another role for herself one that she never dreamed possible.

This is a story of life and the importance of knowing one heart and willing to follow it where it leads even if it is into the unknown. What lies beyond may be the key to the future but unless willing to make the first step one may never know. And as an added little fact this book does not involve a whole lot of Carlo kissing, in fact Carlo isn't in it for a majority of the book and yet his trip to America plays a pivotal role in all that transpires throughout.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the author through Italy Book Tours with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book Details:

Book Title: Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani
Category: Adult Fiction, 560 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Release date: January 2018
Content Rating: G (For general audience. Depictions of violence are minimal. No bad language, religious expletives, sex scenes, drug use or underage drinking.)

Book Description:

From Adriana Trigiani, the beloved New York Times-bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife, comes an exhilarating epic novel of love, loyalty, and creativity—the story of an Italian-American family on the cusp of change.

It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company and Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.

Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.

From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.

Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long-buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.

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Meet the Author: 

Photo Credit: Tim Stephenson
Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Forever My Girl ~ Thoughts on Family and a Movie Trailer

In this world of hurry up and get on to your next task on the way to achieving one's life goals family often gets lost and forgotten in this mix. FOREVER MY GIRL is a movie about second chances and finding our way back home. But we need to remember that home isn't so much a structure as it is family.  Family is there for you when you need it most but one must make an effort to connect with those who love us.  And in this age of instant connections through social media personal meaningful connections with those closest to us are often a casualty.  

Family takes time but the love and support one receives make it worth the effort. And the memories it leaves will last a lifetime.  A simple game of hide-and-seek on a rainy afternoon in which the whole family can find safety on the family room sofa.  A board game while listening to a variety of favorite songs. The gift of a single wildflower.  The effort is easy and only costs time and thought. 

These are memories that last even as the family structure changes over time.  They provide the foundation that keeps the family together even when miles separate it.  And when one goes off leaving family and the love they offer behind these memories are what can bring one back seeking a second chance at love and family.

A swing in the tree. A walk in the park. A picnic in the backyard. An afternoon spent reading together. Looking through old photographs. Time spent together can be as simple as this - what matters is that it is time spent with those whom you love and who mean the most to you.  


Forever My Girl tells the story of music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind.  

Forever My Girl is an uplifting romantic film about second chances.  It releases in theaters on January 19, 2018.


The View from Rainshadow Bay ~ Review

The View from Rainshadow Bay
A Lavender Tides Novel #1
By Colleen Coble

The cover of this book is so beautiful but looks can be deceiving.

One year ago death changed the lives of many who called Lavender Tides home. The tragic accident that claimed Shauna McDade's husband has estranged her from Zach Bannister. How can she ever forgive the man she blames for Jack's death. She determined to avoid Zach forever, unfortunately, her young son Alex wants to spend time with Zach just like he used to do.

When someone else close to Shauna dies she is convinced this death was not an accident but proving this might be difficult. And when the possibility that Shauna is in danger too surfaces Zach offers his help in keeping both Shauna and Alex safe. And his offer comes just in time.

But the question is who is targeting the citizens of Lavender Tides and why. And when an item from Shauna's past is found Zach and Shauna are convinced that they need to discover more in case this is linked to the present danger. Someone is guarding a secret and they will do anything to keep it hidden

The View from Rainshadow Bay is a book that grabs the reader from the prologue's opening line. One feels the character's growing panic. And the level of suspense continues to build and grow as each chapter slips through one's fingers. I do not recommend reading this book if you have to be somewhere at a certain time (like say work) because you will be distracted by wondering what is coming next. Yes, I picked this book up for a quick half-hour of reading before going to work and regretted it all day because I had to put it down before I was ready to. So be sure to keep this one for when you have a few hours or even a weekend in which to lose yourself between these pages.

As the first book in a new series, I'm anticipating some late night reading in the near future if this book is any indication of how this series will play out. Colleen Coble has created yet another must-read-book.  Get ready for some good old suspense-filled reading!

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher through the BookLook blogger program with no expectations of a positive review ~ All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.


The Lacemaker ~ Review

The Lacemaker
By Laura Frantz

Williamsburg of 1775 is on the verge of war as those who call the colony home take sides between the Independence Men and those loyal to the King. Lady Elisabeth Lawson finds herself the talk of Williamsburg with her upcoming marriage to Miles Cullen Roth for she is Williamburg's bride and the daughter of colony's lieutenant governor, the Earl of Stirling.

But her intended is not a man of her choice but rather her father's. And Miles is a less than attentive fiancé - frequently late, fond of drink, cards, and his own well-being. Miles's cousin Noble Rynallt, unlike Miles, is on the side of liberty. And when Elisabeth's world comes falling down around her, Nobel alone seems concerned with the situation in which she finds herself. 

Experiencing independence herself, Elisabeth has a choice before her side with the Loyalist or the Revolutionaries. Where will her heart lead her? And can she make her own way in this world in flux? Elisabeth is determined to reclaim her life as she discovers who she really is. And her skills as a lacemaker may just be what will give her the means to support herself. But a life of labor is unknown to her but she refuses to go back to the life she's always known just another pawn in her father's political machinations. 

But there are those who refuse to believe Liberty, as she now calls herself, to be anything other than a loyalist to the King, to England and a spy for her father. And with her life very much in danger, Liberty must decide where her loyalties lie and her heart.

The Lacemaker is another example of Laura Frantz's skill at work as she again presents readers with another intense trip to the past. This time her pen takes us to the days when Revolution was in its infancy and breaking from England was not yet a certainty. Fans of historical romance fiction will delight in this latest standalone from Frantz. The characters are ones that the reader can connect with. And then Liberty's father and fiancé UGGGGH - there really is nothing more to say about these two. This would be a great choice for a book club.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review - All opinions expressed are my own.    

About the Book:

It is the eve of a new age of freedom in the colonies. 

But can a proper English lady dare hope for her own independence?

Lady Elisabeth "Liberty" Lawson has nearly everything a lady of her position could want. Daughter of the British lieutenant governor of the Virginia Colony and a darling of fine society in a rugged land, she is anticipating an advantageous marriage. That her betrothed is a rake and love is lacking is of little consequence--or so she tells herself.

Though her own life seems in order, colonial Williamsburg is a powder keg on the verge of exploding, and her fiancé's cousin Noble Rynallt carries the flame of revolution in his heart. Those with connections to the British nobility are suspected as spies, and Liberty soon finds herself left with a terrible choice. Will she stay true to her English roots? Or side with Noble and the radical revolutionaries?


Across the Blue ~ Review

Across the Blue
By Carrie Turansky

The first flight across the English Channel is on the minds of everyone who has an interest in the emerging field of aviation. Who will be first? And from which coast will the crossing originate the French or the English? Isabella Grayson to her parents' consternation is seemingly consumed by these happenings. A young woman of means should have her thoughts on loftier goals such as finding a suitable husband of aristocratic means and with a fortune to rival her father's.

But Bella wants more than a marriage to a title. She dreams of a future where she writes for a living, an appreciated and accomplished reporter for one of her father's many newspapers. And this race to dominate the skies with flying machines seems the perfect opportunity to do so if only her parents would agree.

James Drake dreams of being the first aviator to cross the Channel, but first, he and Professor Steel need to work out a few issues with their plane. But when their latest attempt finds James crashing on the Graysons' estate James and Bella find that their dreams are just beyond their grasp but closer than they had been before. But what price is each willing to pay to achieve their dreams? And then there is the mystery of who he really is -  James is determined to at last learn the truth about his mother and his father. But how can he learn what no one knows?

1909 is a time of change. Flight is no longer just a dream but a reality with longer flights just beyond the horizon. Women are demanding that their voices be heard. Yet for all the change that is coming, there are those who wish to hold it at bay. It is interesting to see how much has changed since then and at the same time how little. Concerns for both the present and the future seemed heavy on the minds of many, especially for those whose dreams and goals were in doubt. And can worth be determined by name and achievements or is it something deeper? These are truths that Bella and James will have to discover for themselves.

This book is a delightful blend of intensity, mystery, history, and romance that will keep the reader hoping for yet one more page before putting it down. Carrie Turansky has a gift for bringing the past to life and bringing the reader into the story in the interactions between the various characters. One feels their pain and rejoices in their triumphs. This book is a standalone title but the characters are ones that I personally would love to meet again via a book!

I was provided an uncorrected review copy of this book by the publisher through Blogging for Books  with no expectations of a positive review ~ All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
Before 1909, flying across the English Channel
seemed an impossible feat
but a brave young aviator was willing to try.
Defying her parents' expectations for a good match?
Also impossible–but Isabella was willing to try.

Within the palatial surroundings of her family's Edwardian estate Isabella Grayson longs for something more. Despite her father's success as a newspaper baron and her own journalistic talents, her parents want her to marry an established aristocrat to improve the family's social standing rather than pursue her dream of writing for one of her father's newspapers.

When aspiring aviator James Drake crashes his flying machine on the Graysons' expansive grounds, he is surprised to learn he landed on the property of the very