Blog Tour & Book Review: The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman

While we enjoyed a few days of mild weather at the end of February – well before our days of self-isolation – I itched to get my hands dirty (an urge that generally passes by July.) I had to console myself with the slow-paced delights of The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman (which, by the way, I discovered is a nom de pleume the same time I finished the book.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

In this heartwarming and feel-good novel filled with echoes of Dorothea Benton Frank, Debbie Macomber and Elizabeth Berg, two women separated by a generation but equally scarred by war find hope, meaning – and each other – through a garden of heirloom flowers.

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to loneliness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind a towering fence surrounding her home and gardens, the former botanist has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to an heirloom garden filled with starts – and memories – of her own mother, grandmother, husband and daughter.

When Abby Peterson moves to Grand Haven, Michigan, with her family – a husband traumatized during his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability – they find themselves next door to Iris, and are slowly drawn into her reclusive neighbour’s life where, united by loss and a love of flowers, Iris and Abby slowly unearth their secrets to each other. Eventually, the two teach one another that the earth grounds us all, gardens are a grand healer, and as flowers bloom so do our hopes and dreams.

MY THOUGHTS:

While I am, self-admittedly, an emotional reader, this sweet and poignant story pulled each of my heartstrings. Shipman paints a vivid picture of glorious garden splendor, damaged souls, and the healing power of friendship. Scars of war effect a family and a neighbor as they come to grips with new normals and build foundations for a happier future.

Picturesque descriptions of flora, strong female leads, and a fantastic setting (hello, Great Lakes Michigan resort town!) will have you craving cottages, sand dunes, and friends with old souls. The Heirloom Garden flips between eras and character perspective, providing a beautiful depiction of strength and hope through inter-generational storytelling with an emphasis on treasuring memories and heirlooms through love and loss. A remarkably emotion-evoking read that will inspire you to plan a family vacation to Grand Haven.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary Advanced Readers Copy through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own. This post was created as part of the Harlequin 2020 Spring Reads Blog Tour.

Published by HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada), Graydon House Imprint.

Publication Date: April 28, 2020

You’ll be able to purchase direct from the publisher, from your favourite local bookseller, or any major retailer where books are sold.

SOCIAL LINKS:
Author Website: https://www.violashipman.com/
TWITTER: @viola_shipman
FB: @authorviolashipman
Insta: @viola_shipman
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14056193.Viola_Shipman

Book Review: Shall We Dance by Shelley Shepard Gray

I have been holding off on posting any book reviews as I was hoping the time of year would lend itself to deep introspection and worthy thoughts to share. Unfortunately, by the time I tied up all my loose ends before heading out for a warm-climate Christmas break vacation (hello, gulf coast Florida!), my brain was done and I’ve had nothing.

I’ve been taking advantage of the down time and taking time to read. Honestly though? Why not start the New Year with something I love? Spend time with the people and things that make me happy? Enjoy some personal refreshment in the solitude of a good book.

Back a few months ago I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of Shall We Dance by Shelley Shepard Gray. It was an enjoyable heart-warming novel that ticked all the boxes. Charming characters, secondary drama, and familiar settings left me with all the feels.

This title will be published January 28th, 2020 – get your copy when it hits the shelves for a comfortable, friendly read. Tagged as “women’s fiction”, you’ll be transported to a beloved, fictional small town crafted by a bestselling author.

My thanks to Blackstone Publishing for the complimentary copy provided via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

First off… it’s publication day for the novel, Things You Save in a Fire. Congrats to the best-selling author, Katherine Center, for all the acclaim surrounding this title. It’s been recognized as an August 2019 Indie Next selection and an August 2019 LibraryReads selection. It’s been met with great reader reviews.

This title is heartwarming and has some heat. It’s romantic, but in a sparks are flying amidst a tale of a woman who’s fighting to be one of the guys, dealing with trauma, and coming to grips with broken parental relationships. Strong woman, personal obstacles, big emotions.

Cassie is a strong woman with some emotional baggage that has left her stunted when it comes to personal relationships. Trying to make it in a man’s world as a ore-than apable firefighter, she’s transferred after an incident and must find her roots all over again. Along the way, she has to decide it love is worth the risk.

It’s comedic, it’s sad, it’s endearing. It’s exciting. Heat warning in effect… it won’t be everyone’s idea of a good read, but I found it well-balanced.

I loved my early review copy and will be adding other titles by this author to my to be read pile.

My thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for the digital advance via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: The House at Hope Corner

Delightful summer read!

I’ve read a few books from Bookouture, a UK-based digital publisher, and each one has been enjoyable. No surprise, The House at Hope Corner by Emma Davies was another successful literary escape (my favourite type of low-budget not-actually-a-vacation.)

Whirlwind romance, delightful scenery, just enough trouble to keep things interesting, and of course, a likeable female lead defining herself in the midst of it all – it equals a formula for a fantastic summer read. This book is the type you’ll want to load onto your reader for a relaxing afternoon under a tree or sitting on the beach – or in my case, snuggled up under the covers on a quiet dreary day.

I laughed, I cried, and I felt like I was right there, a part of the family with every tense scene, ever new situation, every triumph. The House at Hope Corner is a warm-hearted, page-turning depiction of a sweetly eccentric woman, her charming farmer fiancee, and the merging of two very different outlooks on life – finding balance between artistic, creative freedom and rigid, routine farm life while overcoming challenges and the secrets that come to light as you get to know someone and there family. It’s a great work of contemporary women’s fiction that will charm the socks off you!

I received a complimentary of this title via NetGalley with thanks to the publisher. As always, all opinions are my own.

Published: May 10, 2019 (Available now)
Publisher: Bookouture

Book Review: The Happiness Project by Pippa James

Have you ever noticed that women need each other, but especially mothers need someone on their team?  Have you noticed that sometimes other moms can be just horrible in their judgement and criticism?  Have you ever felt convinced you were messing up your kids irreparably? Wondered if you’re slowly poisoning them because they won’t eat a darn vegetable despite your best efforts?  Wanted to crash on your best friend’s couch in yoga pants with tears because it seems like you do everything at home, and at work, and at school?  If you can relate to any of those questions… you’ll relate to my latest read. 

 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and/or author through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
 
My first read of 2019 and a new-to-me author: Pippa JamesThe Happiness Project was a charming glimpse into the life of three mothers as they make a list of New Years Resolutions together.  Being a mother myself, I found I could relate to all of the women at times. I could sympathize with their worries of failure, the desire to not be judged less-than, and the questioning of their parenting choices.  Each woman’s personality was well-developed – and with that, of course, was the fact that you may love them at times and detest them at times, and some days they were just off – much like real life. 
 
The storyline meandered nicely.  It wasn’t too slow, it wasn’t too fast – just a nice walk through their lives, culminating happily (which I will admit made me want to go join a fun run.)  A great fictional reminder – at times humorous, often heartfelt – that as women and mothers we need to find our tribes and back them up.  It was a pleasant read, but may have been more gripping if I had read Pippa’s “I Will Survive” first. However, it definitely can be read as a stand-alone novel – easy enough to figure out. 
 
Caution for those who do not approve of swearing in their novels as one of the characters had a rougher vocabulary than the others.  I did not find this detracting as it seamlessly fit with her cheekiness as a whole. A timely plot considering the new year that’ll make you want to grab your best mummy friends and share the love.
 
Published by Bookouture;  Publication Date February 12, 2019