Book Review: Met Her Match by Jude Deveraux

Best-selling author, Jude Deveraux, has held my attention for years. Offhand, I can’t think of any of her titles that I haven’t enjoyed. Met Her Match, Deveraux’s newest release, was just as enjoyable as her other titles.

From the publisher:
Set in the beloved fictional town of Summer Hill, Virginia, Met Her Match examines the tensions between the wealthy townspeople, the summer vacationers and the working-class people who keep the town and resort running. Told with humor and heart, Met Her Match is the perfect summer escape.

Perfect summer escape, indeed. The balance between the “classes”, the mystery, the camaraderie, the romance – they were all sweetly done in that read-in-a-hammock type of way. (If you’re a devotee of romance novels, you’ll totally get what I mean!) The chemistry between the love interests, the descriptions of the resort town, and all the twists of gossip – reliable or otherwise – made for a relatable read and made you feel like you were sitting lakeside with the rest of the crew.

It might not be summer anymore, but this one would be a great stocking stuffer for those who like sweet, sizzling, contemporary romance with a twist of mystery. Great to read over a weekend or sitting in the school carpool lane! Released a few days ago, it should be available on all major booksellers shelves now.

My thanks to the publisher for a chance to read an advanced reader’s copy courtesy of NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Published by: Harlequin Mira
Publication Date: September 17, 2019

Book Review: Summer at Firefly Beach by Jenny Hale

A long, long time ago I was given this title, Summer at Firefly Beach by Jenny Hale, for advanced read and review. It was released June 17th and I just didn’t get around to reading it.

This morning I woke at the crack of stupid (before Kev’s alarm even went off) and when I say woke… I mean there wasn’t a chance of falling asleep again so I picked up my tablet and thought this sounded like a great read.

I was not disappointed – it hit all the notes I enjoy in a romance by the sea. Angst, family, pain, friendship, discovery, and, of course, love. I enjoyed the balance of general life relationships (friends, family) and the romance itself.

We’re aspects of the book unrealistic? Absolutely… but for an easy-to-digest escape it was perfect. I laughed. I cried. I cheered. I passed a few perfectly delightful hours and now want to escape to a quaint hideaway beach town myself.

If you’re looking for something light and engaging to toss in your beach tote this summer, this is it! Uplifting and charming – sweet as can be.

Published by Bookouture. I received a complimentary uncorrected advance reader copy via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Blog Tour & Book Review: The East End by Jason Allen

The East End by Jason Allen was just published this week – on Tuesday, to be exact. Congratulations to the author! I know a lot of heart and soul and sweat and tears go into the process of taking a book from idea to page to publication. When a publicist at HarperCollins sent the initial description and asked if I’d like to be part of the blog tour, I jumped on board. Here is some information on the book, the author, and my final thoughts.


After graduating high school, Corey Halpern would love to leave the Hamptons and never look back. He is stuck though, saddled with responsibility for his alcoholic mother, Gina, and his younger brother. So for now, he finds momentary escape by breaking and entering. The night before Memorial Day weekend, he targets the estate of Leo Sheffield, the billionaire CEO for whom he and Gina work.  But everything goes awry. Leo arrives suddenly—and he’s not alone. As Corey looks on in stunned horror, he witnesses a fatal mishap…as does another traumatized onlooker. With everything to lose, Leo will do whatever it takes to cover up the truth. Things spiral out of control, however. Pushed to their limits, Corey, Gina, and Leo all hurtle towards climactic showdowns as explosive as the holiday fireworks lighting up the night sky.


Jason Allen grew up in a working-class home in the Hamptons, where he worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy estate owners. He writes fiction, poetry, and memoir, and is the author of the poetry collection A Meditation on Fire. He has an MFA from Pacific University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches writing at Clayton State University. THE EAST END is his first novel.


I like to provide honest reviews and I always feel a little awkward when I don’t rave about a title. So I will be honest and say this is not a book I would have purchased on my own and I realised that very quickly into the first two chapters. I know it would not be a title I would recommend to a lot of the real-life readers who are part of my circle because they would have found it incredibly offensive – it’s raw and graphic and full of harsh language and scenes that would have left them uncomfortable. (A “Rated R… viewer discretion advised” type of novel.) That being said, I know a ton of other readers in my online circles who would absolutely love this book for all the same reasons – because it’s edgy, and fast-paced, and very, very corrupt.

So while I can’t recommend it in good conscience to some of my dear and closest friends, I can say that THE EAST END is well-written. It’s not bright or cheerful, but dark and atmospheric. It’s sad (as in desolate) and tumbles along at quite a pace. It’s not a traditional mystery or suspense, but it’s suspenseful in the tension-filled, catastrophic rush to a shocking ending. The lives of many unhappy people are intertwined and the moral/immoral choices and quandaries – the lies, the loyalties, the tale of a whole bunch of people who are not happy with their lives and are trying to fill the gaps with drug and alcohol addiction, unhealthy relationships, illicit affairs, and illegal hobbies – catch up in one dynamite conclusion. The author does a remarkable job of capturing the despair and despondency of the characters despite their socio-economic differences. He effectively touches on the need for trust and connection while highlighting the dangers of secrecy, obsession, and desperation. Best of all he leaves you with a small spark of hope that two of the main characters find redemption and happily ever after.

(As a small note of humour, when I finished, all I could think is, “Man, I don’t think I’ll ever visit the Hamptons. People are not happy there.” I’m sure the tourism board will be thrilled with this one… )

My thanks to the publisher, Harlequin, for providing a copy of this title and inviting me to be a part of this tour.

Book Review: The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

Exactly what you expect from a
summer paperback

When a publicist at Harlequin (Mira / Harper Collins) sent an email invitation to download this book for review, I jumped right on it. The phrase that caught my attention was “Perfect for fans of Susan Mallery, Robyn Carr, and Debbie Macomber, THE SUMMER RETREAT will have readers falling in love with Roberts’ sparkling humor and moving story lines in a delightful enemies to lovers tale of summer romance and sisterly bonding.” Count me in.

The Summer Retreat is the third installment by USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts in her seaside escape, beach-ready Moonlight Harbor series. It was my first read from this author and, obviously also my first read from this series.

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have been published in several languages. Her book Angel Lane was an Amazon Top Ten Romance pick for 2009. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel The Nine Lives of Christmas was made into a movie for Hallmark. You can visit Sheila on Twitter (@_Sheila_Roberts) and Facebook (@funwithsheila) or at her website.

Overall, it really is the perfect summer read – grab your sunglasses, a glass of something cool, and a great spot to soak up some sun and dive right in. I love the quintessential small town, beach front, everyone knows everyone’s business you get in these types of romance. Quirky and cute. The lead female character is unlucky in love and she feels like she’s running out of time to see her dreams come true. She offers to spend the summer (licking her wounded heart) with her sister, niece, and aunt, helping to run their small ocean-front inn. She decides if she’s going to pursue romance, she’s going to play it safe – cue in the local pastor, the perfect safe (but still attractive) candidate.

I will admit, however, that I wanted to shake sense into our girl (and her sister…) I found myself mentally admonishing her throughout the entire book. No sparks… no sparks… he’s great on paper but he’s not right for you!!! I was actually frustrated until the very end (no spoilers though… no spoilers.) I’m glad that the author came through – I wasn’t sure how she was going to redeem the situation, but rest assured, she did.

There is some sizzle, some sweet romance, some strange and wonderful characters and it’s set seaside – sand and water and a lovable misbehaved pup. All important elements. It did take it’s time meandering along the way (enough already – follow your heart!) and at first, I felt a little lost so perhaps reading the first two installments might be helpful (it could have just been me – I did fight with a parking pay machine for quite some time the other day before I realised the arm was up and they did not, in fact, want my money.) I’m giving it a 3-star rating – which is “it was good” in my review hierarchy – it just wasn’t jaw-dropping, stick with me forever intense. It was exactly what you expect from a summer paperback – easy to toss in your beach bag and read for a quick escape. Watch for this title to hit all major book retailers soon.

My thanks to Harlequin for the opportunity to download this title via NetGalley. All thoughts expressed are my own.

Publication date: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Harlequin – Mira

Book Review: Secrets at Cedar Cabin by Colleen Coble

While a warm and fuzzy historical romance will always be my first pick for escapism when it comes to books, a close second is a fast-paced thriller or mystery and Colleen Coble always delivers in that genre. I’ve read a number of her titles in the past and find them enthralling and still manage to sleep at night. Win-win.

Drama & Suspense With A Good Dose of Romance

Secrets at Cedar Cabin is the third release in the Lavender Tides series and I read it as a standalone a few weeks ago without any issue. (I’m a little behind in posting my reviews… life has been a little hectic lately. Reading is a must. Reviewing was shelved.) This contemporary novel is rife with drama and suspense while focusing on human trafficking and the sex trade.

Of course, romance is entwined with all the excitement and the good guys win in the end. (If only real life were so tidy.) The whirlwind mystery left me guessing until (almost) the end. Likeable, flawed characters. Family secrets. Descriptive settings. Some kick-butt scenes. It has it all.

Coble is a Christian author and as such, her books are clean as far as content, but theme’s are still adult. I don’t find the faith aspect overdone, but appreciate the struggles and humanity of the characters. Easy to read and not too graphic – but still intriguing and sometimes infuriating – it was an entertaining book overall.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from ThomasNelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Publication Date: 22 Jan 2019 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Review: The Sun Is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert

Inspiring and Humbling

I am one who finds it fabulous when I get my 10-12 thousand steps in a day. I enjoy a day at the lake with a fishing rod nearby, but most often with a book in hand. Kayaking and canoeing are enjoyable when I’m a few feet from shore and the water is glass without a cloud in the sky. I am not an adventurer and readily admit that I enjoy my comforts and the calm of my home. The rugged Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and even the Yukon are places I like to visit through pages and pictures, but would not want to conquer on my own.

I realise that 2019 is still in its first quarter, and I’ve read some really excellent books so far, but The Sun Is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert is my most favourite read in a very long time. My poor family members had to listen to me narrate what was happening any time something caught my fancy. It’s not often that a memoir captures my attention and reads better than fiction. It is, as described by the publisher, “the gripping story of a biologist’s human-powered journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Arctic to rediscover her love of birds, nature, and adventure.”

The well written first-person narrative captured my attention from the opening paragraph and kept me in its grip until the very last sentence. A descriptive, relatable text chronicling human nature vs. Mother Nature. It was an incredibly beautiful tale of human endurance and a reminder of how small we are in the vastness of the wilderness. Inspiring and humbling all at once, I cannot recommend this title enough. It was a brilliant blending of insight and observation.

If you are looking for a book to point out that you are quite satisfied in your semi-rural, daily grind existence, this is it. If you enjoy living vicariously through the adventures of other individuals, this is it. If you find courage in tales of human vs. wild, this is it. If you find motivation in accomplishment and beating the odds, this is it. If you want to find yourself lost in a recounting of someone finding themselves in living and travelling by their own power through remote and austere environs, this is it. Colourful, descriptive, and moving. Absolutely brilliant – I have huge respect for the adventurer and her husband and how well she retold their story. I felt a strange sense of pride in their accomplishment.

(P.S. I’m not a huge fan of book to movie renditions, but I could vividly imagine this on the big screen with every new page.)

I was provided with a copy of this title via NetGalley courtesy of the author and/or publisher. All opinions are my own.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: March 19, 2019

Book Review: The Sugar Smart Cookbook for Kids

I have to curb my impulse to purchase cookbooks and magazines featuring delicious looking recipes. I don’t have the space in our small home to properly store the hordes of food-related gadgets and books that I could easily adopt. Gratefully, I didn’t feel guilty about this one as it was complimentary via NetGalley… and I was provided with a digital copy.

The quick and straightforward dishes from The Sugar Smart Cookbook for Kids by Georgia Varozza will have you plating familiar food in no time – with no strange ingredients and less added sugar. Our big win? Pear and Cheddar Crisp.

Written in a neighbourly way with well-categorized listings, this cookbook is not overwhelming, but it also may not wow you. I’m a very visual person when it comes to cooking – some photos may have jazzed things up. It’s a good basic resource for standard kid-friendly meals with a healthier twist and a strong encouragement to switch out highly processed foods for whole grains and made from scratch meals.

The one disqualifier that I will post here that was not included in my Goodreads review is that I find healthy and nutritious very subjective. Overall, these are fairly healthy recipes… if you’re okay with higher fat, you’re not vegetarian, you aren’t avoiding gluten or dairy, etc. You may have to make some swaps to make it work for your family, but it’s a start and if you don’t know where to start and rely heavily on convenience foods, this may be a good one for you. I didn’t find it overwhelmingly different than many of the recipes we’re already using.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley courtesy of the publisher and/or author. All opinions expressed are my own.

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Book Review: The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

Delightful, emotionally-charged historical fiction

The Hope of Azure Springs is an amazing debut title by author Rachel Fordham that I was pleasantly surprised by. Christian fiction can at times be dry as dust, but this novel surpassed all my expectations! It contained elements of romance, danger, mystery, and small-town charm.

Set in historical Iowa, our plain-Jane heroine is an orphan train sibling who shows remarkable strength and resilience. Of course, her personal experiences have left a mark on her, but she is just absolutely charming. I don’t want to elaborate too much because I don’t want to spoil the book, predictable as elements of it may be.

Our hero is the town sheriff and of course, depicted as being absolutely swoon-worthy. He has his own personal history to deal with and current obstacles that he has to overcome. He’s stoic, handsome, stubborn, and sometimes oblivious, but also good-hearted and courageous.

The depth of the story is in the lesson of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, to acknowledge that attractiveness is more than skin deep, to see beyond a charming face to the heart that lies beneath. The story also beautifully chronicled a tale of loss, self-worth, family, friendship, healing, and hope. I was moved to tears by the eloquence with which certain passages were written. This was a well-paced novel that I did not want to put down (and may have stayed up way too late reading.)

A 4.5-star rating for sure. This is a definite recommended read for anyone who enjoys squeaky clean historical romance. A delightful escape from the grey skies of February.

I was provided with a copy of this publication via NetGalley with thanks to the publisher and/or author. All opinions are my own.

Publisher: Revell Publication Date: July 3, 2018

Book Review: Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron

I was awarded a copy of Castle on the Rise (part 2 in the Lost Castle series) by new-to-me author Kristy Cambron. This book takes place in three eras of Ireland’s riveting history (present, early 20th century, and the 1700s.) It was not a time travel tale. It was a story of resilience, independence, family drama, love, loss, faith, and conviction.

The lives of the characters from each era were twined together in a remarkable tale detailing the struggles of Irish history and rebellions. Each setting was tied together through family trees and national loyalties, with the basis of the interactions focusing on a historical estate and neighbourhood pub. I found it fascinating and emotional to read.

It wasn’t an easy book to read – I put it down between chapters much more often than I usually do. This wasn’t due to boredom so much as just needing to let my mind change track between the different eras. The romance was clean and sweet, the troubles and trials daunting.

The modern characters weren’t as well developed (in my opinion), but it was a colourful novel that makes me want to pack my bags and catch the next flight to the Emerald Isle. Ths historical elements were beautifully written in vivid detail. It piqued my interest in so much more than the landscapes of this beautiful country. I want to know more about her history, culture, and people’s fierce pride and independence. Women were the unsung heroes of this tale.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Published by Thomas Nelson; Publication Date – 05 Feb 2019

Book Review: The Girl on the Beach – Tracy Buchanan

NetGalley has been wonderful for exploring new-to-me authors, including Tracy Buchanan. The latest completed title on my bookshelf, The Girl on the Beach, was a tantalizing discovery, full of family drama, a healthy measure of suspense, and some hints of humour.

Colourful Characters & Lots of Suspense

The characters were colourful and emotions were high. It was a very quick read and yet I didn’t feel that any facets were lacking. The suspense was multi-layered, and though I had my suspicions about how the plot would unfold, I still thought it was tied together well in the end. (“Ooooh, that’s how she sewed it up tight!”) I was invested enough that I found one thread a little disappointing with how Buchanan chose to snip it! (“…but, why??? No….”) I didn’t love all the characters, but I don’t think I was supposed to.

There were a few intimate scenes, that while not entirely vital to the story, did add some depth of insight into the characters’ mindsets and lifestyles. Again, if these scenes are offensive to you, skip the book… or skip the scenes.

Overall, I was intrigued by this title and will be adding Ms. Buchanan to my list of author’s to explore. I enjoy a well-written story with layers of emotion, mystery, discovery, and human frailty. The Girl on the Beach had it all.

I received an uncorrected advance review copy of this book via NetGalley courtesy of the author and/or publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Published by Bookouture; Publication Date – January 25, 2019