Always on My Mind is such a fun read! Totally unrealistic, a bit far-fetched, and full of too-convenient resolutions… but so, so fun.
Lori is a dancer who was betrayed by her dancer boyfriend. Grayson is a widower avoiding his grief. The meet-cute is on Grayson’s farm with Lori in her sequined dance costume.
Their relationship starts off as lusty hate, moves through predictable mishaps, misunderstandings and forgiveness, and ends up a happily ever after. Reeeeealllllly straightforward, but the sparks between Lori and Grayson are so hot that you’re really not so concerned with the depth of the plot. Chemistry and sexual tension abound. Lori and Grayson love it and I did too. 😉
Although the story is devoid of subplots, Andre gives Lori’s Sullivan siblings plenty of appearance time. It’s always fun to remember which Sullivan just got married or had a baby or bought a home. Most of the story is really about Lori and Grayson, but the love of family is ever-present, and the Sullivans all come together at the end.
Buy ALWAYS ON MY MIND
This review is dedicated to my father, Donald O Epp, Jr who lost his battle to lung cancer last week. RIP, Pops and fly high….I love you…always…xx
So here we have a book about a young woman with cancer. There’s no secret that this is a book designed to tug on your heart strings. And it does exactly that. Despite that, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written. The main character does some really questionable things. She makes some unwise decisions, almost to the point of being over the top. As a reader, I was starting to question what was going on. The author reins it all in and handles it beautifully. A layman in the story provides answers to any misunderstandings or wrong feelings the reader might feel as well by explaining some of the feelings and thought processes a cancer patient might feel.
At the end there is one small part that I feel could have been left out entirely from the book, and in my case, it would have made the book even better. Having said that, I understand that not everyone in the world can handle story-lines that don’t have a solid wrapped up finish to them. I *do* understand why the author threw this little bit in, but again, I wish she hadn’t. It did take a bit away from the story from me instead of adding to it like it probably did for others. Overall I still really enjoyed this book. I found myself seeking it out and in a hurry to return to it when I did set it aside. If I had started this book on a weekday instead of a weekend, I’m pretty sure I would have finished it all in one day. I enjoyed it that much.
On a more personal note, I might have been moved so much with this book because I recently was told my father has stage 4 cancer. That’s a tough thing to hear as a family member. Let alone for the patient. It’s also awful because I just happen to be on a totally different continent and can’t be near him. It’s hard to even write that….let alone acknowledge it.
I enjoyed this book so much because just as all of us must ask questions and wonder, “why me…why us”, these characters do as well. They struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Of guilt. Selfishness. Resentment. Thankfulness. The list goes on and on. It never ends and day in and day out they struggle with the roller-coaster ride that is cancer and the emotions that they have to struggle with. Seeking answers where some may never be found. Of what it means to be sick. Of what it means to want to go back to happier times. Of wishing it was someone else instead. Of seeing others enjoying life as if nothing has happened. Of survivor’s guilt…Wishing that a loved one did not have to go through this, but so thankful that you’re not the one that has it…of feeling guilty that you’re healthy and happy and someone you love is not…I appreciated this. I think everyone, regardless of where they are in life can do the same if they read this book. Something such as this will always be felt most by the patient. That goes without saying. But cancer is horrible enough that it doesn’t just scar the victim. It effects those all around them as well. Who doesn’t want to save the world? Let alone their child, or their lover, or a parent, or their best friend…..yet, somethings are not ours to decide…they are just ours to deal with….
That’s a tough pill to swallow…..
Until next time…
ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review
I am in love with dragons. Seriously in love. Donna Grant has shown me the light. 🙂 I mean, look at that cover!! What’s not to love?? The Dark Kinds is a spin off of the Dark Warrior and Dark Sword series. I enjoyed meeting a few of the Dragon Kings in those books. I’m glad they get their own series.
Kellan has been asleep for over 1200 years and wanted to stay sleeping. He hates humans and all the trouble they cause. But when he is woken up by Denae, in his cave, he is forced to make the decision to save her or let her die. But something about her, captivated him. He wants her, but he doesn’t want to want her.
Denae is MI5 and was on a mission, and was betrayed and is now in at the mercy of the Dragon Kings. While she tries to find out who set her up, she is forced to be around Kellan. She knows he hates her, but she is drawn to him and can’t seem to get him out of her head. It seems that the more she tries to stay away from him, the more they are brought together. She just wants to give them everything she knows so she can leave. But leaving is easier said than done.
Danger is coming from all directions, which forces her to stay and learn secrets that have been kept for thousands of years. Secrets that will bring past friends and new allies, into the picture, and have Denae thrust into a war she never saw coming. They must decide if their love is worth the danger it brings on the rest of the kings and their people. But in the midst of all of this craziness, there was one story line thrown in, that blew me away. I seriously reread the same page 5 times. I wasn’t sure I read correctly. I never saw that coming. But now I’m SUPER excited for the next book!!
I really loved the romance of this story. Kellen truly wanted her, but his hatred of humans was driving him away. Once he let it go, love beyond his wildest imagination was given to him. Now all he had to do, is protect it. And he would do anything, in his powers, to do it.
Buy Darkest Flame (Dark Kings)
I was intrigued by this one from the moment I heard about it. The title, the cover, the description…all these things came together in a perfect storm of literary anticipation.
Dear Kurt Cobain…When Laurel is asked to write a letter to a dead person as part of an English assignment, she picks Kurt Cobain. He’s the closest connection she has to her dead sister, May. You see, Laurel is having a hard time moving past the sudden death of her beloved older sister. She’s moved to a new school hoping to get a fresh start. But her memories follow her everywhere. And people are still talking about “that girl who died”. So Laurel digs in and takes her writing assignment to the next level. Not only does she write to Kurt, but also Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix, and Heath Ledger among others. These aren’t just random dead people but instead those she feels some kind of connection to. Throughout the course of the story Laurel writes about starting a new school, making new friends, falling in love, coming to grips with her shattered family, and trying to move past May’s death.
I wondered several times throughout the story why Laurel didn’t just write to her sister instead of this menagerie of famous dead people. Wouldn’t it have been simpler than pouring her heart out to the voice of Mr. Ed? Of course, but then she’d have to confront a plethora of emotions about May and her death. Anger, regret, guilt…you name it and it’s there. So instead she puts her heart and soul into writing to those who can never read her words. And so her letters become a time capsule of her life after May, evidence of her life moving forward after a few stumbles. It’s her journey from being May’s adoring little sister to standing on her own and finding her way in life.
So did the book live up to my expectations? Beyond a doubt! While the characters and story itself are good enough to stand alone, the beauty is in the language of Laurel’s letters. I love stories that are written in a different style such as this one. Laurel’s inner dialogue with herself and what she wishes she could say to May plays out entirely in the form of her letters. The story flows easily from one letter to the next with no break in Laurel’s thinking. The character development is excellent and believable. This first novel from Ava Dellaira shows just how powerful and beautiful words can be if put together the right way. Five stars all the way for me!
Buy it Now: Love Letters to the Dead
I tend to stay away from books that are labeled “romance” as this one was in several other reviews. But, because the writer is the amazing JoJo Moyes, I had to add it to my list of books read. An older publication, this story centers mostly around Liza, along with daughter Hannah and aunt Kathleen as well as many other supporting characters. Living on the coast of Australia and running an inn as well as conducting whale watching tours, Liza lives a content life although there’s an air of tragedy around her. When a development company begins to make plans to build a modern, massive resort community in their little corner of paradise, Liza’s peace of mind is threatened. The love interest comes in the form of Mike, one of the major planners of the resort. Loads of drama follows along with several nice little twists that keep the story going. I’m not going to lie, this one wasn’t nearly as good as other books by Moyes that I’ve read. It doesn’t quite reach the level of Me Before You or The Girl You Left Behind. But it’s important to remember that this one has been on the shelves for many years. It’s not really fair to compare novels written so many years apart. Part of being an author is experiencing that growth that comes naturally over time. Being a huge fan of JoJo Moyes, I’m really glad I took the time to read this one.
Buy it Now: Silver Bay: A Novel
What a tug of war! Taryn and Angel are both tough cookies… Taryn in the boardroom and Angel in the gym. And they’re each nursing heartbreaks, though of different natures. When they meet, they use each other for a challenge, a thrill, and a distraction from reality.
The novelty of a new romance is so exciting, and Mallery conveyed the roller coaster of emotions just perfectly. From the witty banter to the teasing looks to the mysterious notes, Mallery created a romance that kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the one-liners, the fashion-designer name drops, and the description of the men Taryn works and plays with. (Go read for yourself; I can’t do it justice!)
Yes, this is another Fool’s Gold romance, but WHAT A ROMANCE! The uncertainty, the tension, the climax… Well, you get the idea. 🙂
Buy WHEN WE MET
I remember when I read Hope Flames and met Logan. I knew he was going to have a good story to tell. And I was right!!
Logan is a rancher who just wants peace and to be left alone. When he decides to let a film crew invade his land, he thought he would just make some money and never see any of them. He wants nothing to do with glitz and glamour. He is a simple man, with simple needs and doesn’t want to be bothered with any Hollywood superstars. Especially not Desiree Jenkins. One the outside, she is a beautiful young star with the world in her hand, and movie roles pouring in. But what she really is a down to earth simple girl, who wants the quiet life.
When Des meets Logan, she is intrigued. She is fascinated with the simple ranch life, and with him. She basically lays it out on the table, as to her intentions for him. It was so funny to see him trip over himself, when he was around her.
I knew I was going to like Logan. Poor guy never knew what hit him, when he met Des. After growing up with a horrible mother, who complained about ranch life, and left when he was younger, he was fine living on his own. He never thought he’d find a ranch wife. And when he met Des, he figured she was the farthest thing, so there was no harm in having a bit of fun. Well, the heart wants what the heart wants, and it wanted her.
It was perfect seeing him fall and then realize that he was holding on to the past hurts and not looking at Des as a potential partner.
I am really enjoying this series! I loved seeing Luke and Emma make an appearance in the story. I can’t wait till we get Molly’s story next.
Buy Hope Ignites (A Hope Novel)
Buy the first book, Hope Flames (A Hope Novel)
I’m late reviewing a bunch of Christmas-themed romances, and I have to say I’m enjoying myself.
The Christmas spirit manifests in many ways. For Evie and Dante, newcomers to Fool’s Gold, they just want to get through the holiday emotionally unscathed. They lean on each other through Dante’s bad memories and Evie’s Christmas dance recital responsibilities. And then they lean on each other for love.
This is a typical Fool’s Gold romance in that it’s focused on the hero and heroine, there’s a wonderful sense of community, and love seems to thrive at the seasonal festivals.
But Evie and Dante’s story is original and emotional. I keep reading Susan Mallery because she knows how to make each relationship unique and compelling.
As soon as I was done with this novel, I moved on to When We Met, to be released April 29. Thank you, Ms. Mallery for providing such an authentic glimpse of fictional romances. ❤
Buy A FOOL’S GOLD CHRISTMAS
When I first read “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, I was amazed at her ability to tell a story. It was a collection of short stories and I felt as if I was there in every story. The characters came to life for me. I was amazed at her ability to make me feel as if was right there….I not only clearly heard the characters voices, I also felt what they were feeling, I touched what they touched….as someone that doesn’t really enjoy shorts that much, it was a totally new experience for me. I couldn’t believe the depth that she gave to the characters….This is my first novel by Lahiri for me. I have a much different reaction.
I loved this story. I thought the novel was made up of great characters as well. Here we have two very close brothers that grow up in Calcutta. One stays. One moves to America. They both get married. They both have a daughter. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. This is a complicated story. It is filled with revolutionary ideas. With rebellion. With lies. With resentment. With misplaced loyalties. With guilt. With desertion. With helplessness. With secrets. However, it also has deep love. It has redemption. It has acceptance. It has hope. It has new beginnings.
This is the type of story I absolutely love. Rooted deep in culture. Blending of new cultures. Complicated family dynamics. Self sacrifice. However…it just fell flat for me.
I can’t explain how frustrated I am with this novel. I mean, Lahiri has this amazing ability to make me feel so much in the collection of short stories, and yet, here, we have a full length novel and a chance for me to really connect with a great group of characters and….well….it just doesn’t happen.
In Maladies, I felt that I was part of the story…that’s how wonderful Lahiri’s story-telling abilities were….In The Lowland I felt as if I was reading this novel through several layers of barbed-wire. That I was forced to remain apart from the characters. As much as I truly desired to be drawn it…well…It just never happened. I was made to keep my distance.
I know what Lahiri is capable of. I know I should have loved this book….ever single thing needed was there….but for some reason it just didn’t happen….I just couldn’t connect with any of them. It’s like that one tiny piece I needed to connect and to see inside the characters was missing…or misplaced….and I just didn’t feel as if the characters were whole….I didn’t just feel this way with one character…I honestly felt that way about every single one of them….
I am so disappointed…..
Until next time….
Buy it now The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
I was super excited to receive this book! After reading, and LOVING, Barbara’s Rock & Roll trilogy, I was so curious to see what else she had up her sleeve.
Synopsis from Goodreads
Loss brings things home. You reflect on what you had, and what you’ve lost.
What if you met the love of your life… Again?
What if he never fell out of love with you?
And you realized that you were still in love with him.
Could you push the past aside…
And focus on the future?
Relive what was good…
And learn from the bad?
What if you found a secret…
That revealed that everything about your family was a lie…
Changed your thoughts on love and commitment…
And turned all that you believe in upside down…
What if a mirror reflected what you loved…
And what you lost?
I am a sucker for second chance romances, especially when they happen years later. They seem to have tons of emotion and feelings. I love to see how one character always feels that is was the right decision and they think they’re happy with it. And then the past sneaks up on them, and knocks them on their butts.
Mitchell and Renee met as teenagers. They fell in love and got married. But when life got hard, she left. But as soon as tragedy strikes her, he is right there. And soon they are right where they were before. Love has a way of sneaking up and never leaving, even if you think it did.
I love the dual points of view. I like to hear what the male is thinking, in these relationships. They’re the ones that actually get my emotions all crazy. And they’re sometimes the funniest. For example, when he buys her a bathing suit, I was cracking up! I’d just die.
“I realized that I haven’t really lived these past few years. I only existed.”
“You left me broken, Renie”
I like seeing the past stories as to how they fell in love. I loved seeing the side of her mother, that she never knew about. It was very eye opening. Some parts I was just as shocked as Renie was.
By the time I reached the end of this book, I was completely satisfied. Barbara knows how to write a romance that will bring you to tears, break your heart, and then put the pieces back together. I laughed. I cried. I cheered. Beautiful story.
Buy The Face In The Mirror