Book Review: Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter

Zoe and her daughter, Gracie, return to Georgia after being away for almost five years. After abruptly leaving everyone she loved when she found out she was pregnant, Zoe has no other choice but to return once again to her small hometown to say goodbye to a woman she loved, her grandmother. She is not only returning to Georgia with her daughter, whom no one has met, she is also returning with her boyfriend, who everyone thinks is Gracie’s father. When Zoe learns that her grandmother has left her peach orchard to her, she is left with a difficult life-alering choice: Does she stay and try to keep the orchard alive? Or leave and return to Nashville to pursue her singing career?  In the midst of choosing which path to take, Zoe is also forced to revisit her feelings for her first love, Cruz. Blue Ridge Sunrise is not only full juicy peaches, it is also full of a juicy love triangle.

At first, I thought Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter was going to be just like several other stories that I have read that are set in the South. Girl falls in love with boy, boy breaks girl’s heart, girl returns to boy, boy wins girl back, cue happy ending music. I was wrong. There is a lot more depth to this novel than I was first led to believe. Shortly after the novel begins, you realize that Zoe is in a relationship not because she wants to be, but because she has to be. As her story unfolds, Zoe is faced with a lot of difficult decisions that a young mother should not have to make. Her mother is unfortunately not around anymore and her father has made it clear that she is a disappointment to the family. Blue Ridge Sunrise is not all rainbows and feel-good dialogue.

Blue Ridge Sunrise did drag on more than I would have liked. There were a few too many plot twists and conflicts that kept making the book seem never-ending. With that aside, I enjoyed the character development of Cruz. Zoe is a little too hard-headed for my liking. She is too indecisive for the majority of the novel. I did have to keep reminding myself that she had done a lot more living in her life than I had when I was 24. Gracie is a very sweet four-year old that anyone reading the book will fall in love with. You can’t help but root for a happy ending for all the character’s in this novel, except Zoe’s boyfriend who isn’t much of a Southern Gentleman.

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Advertisements

Book Review: A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

The women of Mischief Bay are back in another story of friendship, love, and life. Susan Mallery’s newest novel, A Million Little Things, is the third book in the Mischief Bay series and the second one I have read. I first fell in love with this Susan Mallery’s unique books after reading The Friends We Keep, which is the previous novel in this series. I enjoyed reading about the characters so much and I couldn’t wait for the third installment about the Michief Bay girls. Unfortunately, A Million Little Things follows the characters from the first book in the series, which I never read, The Girls of Mischief Bay. With that being said, it is a good book, just not about my favorite characters from the last book I read.

What I like about many of Susan Mallery’s books is that you can read the entire series or read each book as a stand alone novel. Even though I never read book one in this series, I was still able to follow each storyline of the characters Zoe, Pam, and Jen. Other characters that were briefly mentioned in A Million Little Things are Nicole and Shannon.

Zoe recently broke up with her boyfriend who didn’t tell her he was married. After he finally divorced his wife, he still refused to have committed relationship with her. She works from home transcribing instruction manuals (Can I have this job?) and usually only interacts with her cat, Mason. After getting stuck in her attic, Zoe realizes that she needs to get out of the house more, make additional friends, and find a real man to love.

Jen is the mom of an 18 month old boy, Jack. Jen is basically me when my son was her son’s age, except a little more over the top. She is worried that her son won’t speak even though he understands everything she says and has his own way of communicating back. She has him on a very regimented routine and is very strict about what he does and doesn’t eat. Seriously, Jen could be based on my life just a short year and a half ago. Jen is Pam’s daughter. Jen’s husband is a police officer. Not only does she worry about her son, but also her husband’s whereabouts day in and day out. Jen is Zoe’s best friend. But since she is so obsessed with her son, Zoe barely sees Jen.

Pam has been a window for a few years now. She has a dog named Lulu who has her own wardrobe. Pam worries about her daughter, Jen, and her two sons, Brandon and Steve. When Zoe goes to a Pilates class that Pam routinely attends, she decides that it would be a great idea to set her son, Steve, up with Zoe. On top of that, Pam starts to fall for Zoe’s dad, Miguel. Sounds a bit confusing, right? It is actually kind of hilarious how everyone’s lives are intertwined in A Million Little Things.

I really enjoyed Zoe and Steve’s relationship in this book. When things got tough, he didn’t head for the hills, even though his mom really wants him to. What I also really like about A Million Little Things are the dog characters. Susan Mallery has a thing about giving animals human qualities in her books. This one is no different. Lulu, Pam’s dog, and Mariposa, Miguel’s dog, are main characters.

Susan Mallery not only likes to write about romance in her novels, she is also really good at writing about female friendships. The friendships she writes about are the kind of friendships all adults yearn for. Pam has three friends that she travels all over the world with. She met them on a cruise she took after her husband died and has been traveling with them ever since. What I think is so fun about their friendship is that they pick a special drink that they drink throughout their entire trip. Even though I am a beer kind of gal, I do like to try new cocktails here and there. On their weekend getaway to Arizona, Pam and her friends indulge in a French 75. I can’t wait to try one myself. Also after reading A Million Little Things, I REALLY want a margarita!

VIA

Overall, I enjoyed reading A Million Little Things. It is refreshing to read about a character like Jen who has had trouble adjusting to motherhood. I am not sure why she wasn’t officially diagnosed with postpartum anxiety/depression, though. It is also refreshing to read a contemporary romance novel that isn’t just rainbows and butterflies. I can only hope that I get to read about my friends from the last novel, The Friends We Keep, in Susan Mallery’s next Mischief Bay installment: I miss you, Gabby and Haley! (Because when you think fictional characters are your actual friends, you know you have a problem just like Zoe…)

Book Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

baking

Louise Miller’s debut novel, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, is a hit. After a baking disaster at a club in Boston, Olivia Rawlings flees the scene and escapes to her best friend’s small town, Guthrie, Vermont. Shortly after arriving, Hannah sets Olivia up with a job interview at a local B & B, The Sugar Maple Inn. From big city to a small kitchen, Olivia has her work cut out for her. Her eccentric style and decadent baked goods quickly win over more than a few hearts in Guthrie.

Small town living is one of my favorite things to read about. Since we are going to Vermont in a few weeks, I knew The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living would be the perfect book to read before we left. I didn’t think I would read it so fast, but once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Almost every character in this novel is so sweet and friendly, except for the horrible Jane White; what a wench! The owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, Margaret, is a bit rough around the edges. I like that she has a backstory that isn’t an easy to tell, it keeps her interesting. Her best friend, Dotty, has an amazing family that Olivia quickly becomes a part of. Dotty’s husband, Henry, is sick, which is ridiculously depressing. Their love story is adorable. Olivia’s dog, Salty, plays a big role in the book, as well.

I really enjoyed reading about the life of a baker. I can barely bake a cake without screwing it up. It always amazes me how people can bake such intricate desserts with such ease. Reading this book made me want to run to the nearest bakery and buy them out. Not good idea for someone who just started a new workout regime in January. Luckily, we did have some pie last weekend that satisfied some of my cravings while reading the novel. One of the major conflicts in the story is centered around an apple pie baking contest that Margaret used to win when her husband was alive. After he passed, the evil Jane White started winning the blue ribbons. At the end of the book, the winning apple pie recipe is featured. I feel inspired to try it out. I have never made a pie from scratch before.

Book Review: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

after-i-do

There are no words to describe how much I enjoyed reading After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It took me on an emotional roller coaster that ended in lots of ugly tears. This novel is real. This novel is raw. This novel is what marriage is all about. It shows you that the love isn’t perfect, but it is worth fighting for. Love is worth waking up for, it is worth pushing through those hard days, it is worth every minute of your time, because “for better or for worse, till death do us part” is what we promised to do our on wedding day.

Lauren and Ryan met when they were 19, in college. They fell in love, moved in together, got engaged, and eventually got married. After 11 years of being together, they realized they were in a rut. They weren’t having sex, they were fighting over everything and anything, and they just plain old didn’t love each other anymore. After a few weeks of debating what to do, they decided to take a year break, no communication what-so-ever, and see how they feel at the end of it.

Although this concept isn’t typical, and I certainly wouldn’t partake in a year long break from my husband (we are happily in love, thank you very much), it seems to be the right choice for Lauren and Ryan. They don’t want to give up, but they also know they can’t keep going down the dangerous road they are on. While on their break, they meet other people, discover themselves, and realize what they want from each other. They also decide if they think they can overcome this obstacle in their marriage.

Lauren’s gramdmom is my favorite character in the novel. She reminded me of my grandmom, whom I lost while I was pregnant with my son. I wish I asked her what her secret to love was. I wish I asked her so much more than I asked her. My grandpop died 17 years before her. I can’t imagine being without my husband that long. I can’t imagine all the pain she endured.

‘Did you love Grandpa the whole time?’ Maybe she didn’t. Maybe she is just like me. Ending up like my Grandma would not be so bad.

‘The whole time,’ she says. ‘Every day.’ Okay, so maybe not.

‘How?’ I ask her.

‘What do you mean, how?’ I had no choice. That’s how.’ Pg. 113

I mean, Grandma gets it, people.

‘You have someone. That’s all I am going to say. Don’t give up on him just because he bores you. Or doesn’t pick up his socks.’ Pg. 303

‘Just because you can live without someone doesn’t mean you want to,’ she says. Pg. 304

Preach it, Grandma. Oh, this is where the ugly tears start.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid is brutally honest. Whether you’re married, about to get married, in a serious relationship, or single, this book is a must read. Once you dip your toes into the sand, you won’t want to take them out. Get ready to cry hard and feel all the feels that Taylor Jenkins Reid so beautifully portrays.

quote-after

Book Review: Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

tjr

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid is an epic love story. I am going to go out on a limb here and say it it even more devastating than The Notebook by Nicolas Sparks. I’m not even going to try to convince you on how sad and beautiful this novel is because you just have to read it to believe it.

Elsie Porter is a 26 year old librarian who live in Los Angeles, California. When she meets the love of her life in a pizza place, she has no idea that 6 months later, they would be married and she would be a widow. Yes, a widow. How sad is that? It’s not even a spoiler because it happens in the first chapter!

Blue colored abstract shiny light and glitter background
img via

I went in blind reading Forever, Interrupted. I fell in love with this Taylor Jenkins Reid after  I read After I Do, last year. (Okay, it was in December, but it was still technically last year.) By page five, I was on the brink of tears. Why kind of book makes you cry in the first chapter? I had no idea how sad this book was going to be since I didn’t even read the synopsis. Within the next couple chapters, Elsie meets her mother-in-law at the hospital, for the very first time, when she is verifying Ben’s body. Crazy, right? But it isn’t what you think. Ben was really close with his mom and she had recently lost her husband, Ben’s dad, and he didn’t think she could handle him falling in love. Yes, she lost her husband and son within a couple of years. It keeps getting even more sad, right?

Forever Interrupted will make you value every moment of you life because one day you might be shopping for fruity pebbles….and the next, well, you’ll eventually get the reference…

a young woman walking in backshadow
img via

Originally posted on my previous blog: Life, Army Wife Style.