Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Sometimes you start a book and, within the first couple of pages, know it’s going to be one of those books that you can’t put down. And then other times, the start of the story doesn’t really grab you. But you stick with it because you just have a feeling…

When Flora rushes home to be by the side of her injured father, she knows there will be unpleasant memories to face. The disappearance/presumed death of her mother has haunted the family for years. And it doesn’t help matters that her dad believes he’s seen her around town recently. Can Flora finally discover the truth about what happened? And what other secrets will be uncovered in the process?

This is one of those stories that got better and better with each page. Suspenseful, yes. But not in the manner you’d expect. The story unfolds bit by bit, alternating between past and present and largely in the form of letters left behind by Flora’s mother. And the ending is good, still leaving some questions unanswered as many great stories do.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Swimming Lessons

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Review: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

Sisters Lauren and Jenna have been thick as thieves since their childhood when their mother was always painting and traveling — and their dad was more pal than caregiver.

Decades later, Jenna and Lauren still have each other’s backs as they (and next generation Mack) spend a summer together on Martha’s Vineyard — while mom Nancy tries to sell the childhood home.

I loved the secrets in this book! They weren’t too angsty or twisty… they were barely predictable… just enough to make the book easy and believable. And when they unraveled, I saw exactly why they were such long-held secrets. And I could understand why Mack wanted the truth from everyone from there on out!

Though I enjoyed all the characters – and Morgan developed them all well – I think Mack was a brilliant addition to the cast. As a teenager in a cast largely of adults, she often was by herself or feeling on the periphery of the action. But that was actually a stroke of genius – Mack was the observer of all that was happening, and clued me (the reader) in to the truth.

Besides Mack, I adored Lauren’s boat-builder ex boyfriend. He handled teenager drama like a champ, was the perfect gentleman helping Nancy in her time of need, and was honest as they come.

Way to go, Sarah Morgan. How to Keep a Secret is one of my 2018 favorites!

-calliope

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Review: Summer at Rose Island by Holly Martin


“A perfect, feel good summer romance” is part of this title, and it sure fits. This is a light, appealingly predictable read with a fresh storyline. 

American Riley comes to the English coast to live in his dad’s former home – a lighthouse. When he meets Darcy, a London transplant, he can’t help but fall for her… 

…Until Darcy’s new job threatens the existence of his lighthouse home. 

I loved Darcy and her interest in marine biology! I didn’t like the author/narrator calling her a nerd or a geek, though. Unnecessary. ๐Ÿ™‚  Darcy’s swims in the ocean were awesome… and her lack of grace out of the water, hilarious!

And I liked that Riley was American, but as an American myself he was written a little awkwardly. I felt like the author stereotyped Americans as cowboys but knew that and so reined in some of the stereotyping but not all of it. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I appreciated that Riley was always a gentleman, chivalrous and humble to the end. 

I thought the sub plot of George and Libby was fun, if a bit overdone here and there. And including the dogs in the storyline was terrific. They were written in very naturally and helped move the plot forward at some points. Martin also addressed some global issues in a thoughtful and realistic way: autism, rare shark extinction, support of marine research, and historical building preservation. 

If you’re looking for an easy, quirky British romance with an ocean theme, this is a steal at $2.99. You’ll fall in love with Riley’s lighthouse, Rose Island, and a certain marine biologist and her cowboy. 

-calliope

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Review: Mocha Sunrise by Julie Carobini

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Best friends Livi, Bri and Gaby love each other like sisters, including telling it to each other straight even when the truth hurts. When Livi is mentally tortured by her antagonistic cousin/roommate, Bri and Gaby give Livi good advice – that she fails to follow.

Then Caleb enters the picture. Though he’s fighting his own demons, he forms a trifecta with Bri and Gaby to defend Livi. They push Livi to get out of her rut, push through, face her fears, make some decisions.

I like that Julie Carobini writes this story based on friendship, and maintains that main plot even while other things are happening to Livi – getting arrested, having job problems, meeting a new guy. I read a lot of contemporary romances, and none seem to hold the friendships in as high a regard as the romantic relationship. Mocha Sunrise focuses on the strength of friendship even while the best friends have romance in their lives.

I totally loved seeing Livi and Caleb find themselves as individuals and come together as a couple. Their transformations were amazing – from two uncertain and uneasy characters to honest and discerning people who were so authentic that I shed tears for them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I appreciated Carobini’s hopeful and uplifting messages delivered by Caleb. And as I read Mocha Sunrise I felt a sense of peace and joy. How appropriate for this Christmas season.

-calliope

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Review: Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

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What FUN! 1930s England, vacationing at the shore, a rocky marriage, social climbers, and a MURDER!

This reminded me so much of Agatha Christie, but with a contemporary bent. The inclusion of romance and implied social commentary on marriage… brilliant.

I loved the travelling, Amory’s husband Milo’s gracious loyalty, Gil and Emmaline’s warm sibling relationship, and the obnoxiousness of some of those guests at the Brightwell. You can’t even make this stuff up. (Well, okay, Weaver DID make it up, but it seemed pretty real to me!)

Love, hate, selflessness, mayhem, sweet nothings … You get much more than a mystery with Murder at the Brightwell.

-Calliope

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Review: Home to Seaview Key by Sherryl Woods

20140122-142516.jpg Home to Seaview Key, second in a series, will be released January 28. It’s a charming tale of a small island with grassroots businesses, opinionated grandmothers, and a strong sense of community. Abby returns there to find herself. Seth moves there to mentally recuperate after fighting in Afghanistan. They share their broken hearts and decide to give friendship – or maybe more – a chance.

I enjoyed the characters and the plot, loved the whimsy of the oldest Seaview Key generation, and appreciated the realism of the ups and downs in a new relationship. However, the story was a little flat. There wasn’t enough intensity, and lots of things were glossed over with an explanation instead of showing what happened. It was a nice, enjoyable story but not one I was particularly excited reading. You’ll enjoy it if you’re looking for a low-key, easy read to relax with.

-Calliope

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