One Wrong Turn

one wrong turnAuthor: Deanna Lynn Sletten

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: June 20, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

All it takes is one wrong turn to change a life. One moment perfect, the next moment shattered.

When Clay gets a call that is wife Jess has been involved in a vehicular accident, he races from Los Angeles to the Victorian home in northern California that his wife has been converting to a bed and breakfast. Due to the impact of the accident, she is currently in a coma.  Things might go easier when he sees his daughters, Maddie and Jilly, except that he hasn’t talked to them in almost two years.  Clay has been recovering from alcoholism and after rehab for the third time planned to make it stick because he couldn’t lose his family, but in the end, he almost did anyway.  Maddie is twelve and is angry with him and scared.  Jilly is seven and doesn’t remember him enough to be angry.  Can the stress of this situation keep him from turning back to the bottle?  What if Jess never wakes up?  All because of one wrong turn.

Okay, so I was hooked after the first chapter. A few short hours later, I was done.  That’s just how good this book is and how well written it is.  Sletten knows how to garner an emotional response from me that makes me keep reading to find out what is going to happen.  Even when one of the main characters has a debilitating problem that is destroying his or her life, you just have to keep reading.  It’s painful to watch this because you can tell what is about to happen, but you just must keep going.  You can’t help it as a reader.  In this case, it happened twice.  The back story for Clay was necessary, but just so sad to keep continuing.  But Jess always had a ton of love for him.  But the most difficult to watch was Maddie’s transition in present day.  To realize that the story she had made up about her father wasn’t true and to finally she her walls crumble.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure how this was going to play out. I was prepared for a broken heart as a reader at the end, but still had hope for a miracle.  If you want to know what happened, you are just going to have to read it yourself!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Before We Were Yours

Before we were yoursAuthor: Lisa Wingate

Publisher: Ballantine

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another fantastic past/present collision story produced by Wingate! This one will make you cry!

Set in 1939 Memphis, Tennessee, Rill Foss and her younger siblings all live with their parents on a riverboat. The great depression has hit several folks hard, but living on the river can get you by if you all love one another.  Their mother is now pregnant with twins and several complications have arisen, so much so that a local midwife won’t help her deliver the babies on the boat.  Forced with a tough decision, their father leaves twelve-year-old Rill in charge of the kids and takes their mother to a hospital.  But in the morning light, a police officer shows up to take the kids to their parents saying that the twins have died, but actually delivers them to the Tennessee Children’s Home.  Once there, Rill begins to realize that the orphanage intends to see all the children into adoption.  Can she keep her family together and get back to their parents?

Fast-forward to present day in Aiken, South Carolina, Avery Stafford is beginning the process she was groomed for, to take over her father’s senate seat. She achieved a law degree and was fast tracked with the US attorney’s office, but her father got cancer and is starting to have to slow down in order to keep his health.  Worse, they have recently had to put her grandmother in a nursing home for Alzheimer’s disease and this has become a hot button on the candidacy due to conditions of lower income nursing homes.  While visiting one of the nursing homes, one of the residents appears to recognize Avery as part of her past and steals her bracelet, which her grandmother gave her.  When she comes back to collect it, she sees a picture in the woman’s room with her grandmother in it.  What secrets was her grandmother involved in?

As expected, Lisa Wingate has written another phenomenal book combining connected lives of the past and present. I’ve enjoyed several of her previous series, which often make me emotional, but this one really struck a nerve.  The book is based on an actual organization that operated as a black-market adoption ring in Memphis called the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, which was operated by Georgia Tann.  The last national interest in this organization was about 25 years ago and has been somewhat forgotten by today’s society, as have many other events that are worthy to note.  But Wingate has resurrected this with passion.  I hope that everyone who reads this book will go do some research on the organization and get an idea of what atrocities were committed.  With two young boys of my own, this really hit home for me.  I don’t know what I would have done had it happened.  I may have ended up just like Quennie.

Wingate’s writing and character developed are superb as usual. She manages to take the reader back in time to understand the scene as well as easily transition back to present day.  I have been looking forward to this book for a long time and I’m glad that I read it.  I hope you will read it too!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Ascension of Larks

AscensionAuthor: Rachel Linden

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: June 20, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Making the hard choice is never easy, but in some cases, it is a leap of faith that just might prove worth it in the end.

Magdalena (Maggie) Henry loves her life of traveling and being a renowned photographer. She is a free spirit and has never been tied down to anyone or anything before.  When her best friend Lena calls to say her husband, Marco, has died in an accident on the lake, she drops everything to go help her friend.  Maggie has always been secretly in love with Marco and being at their house with the family is harder than she thought it was going to be.  Maggie gets a call from her boss to give her a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete for the biggest award in the photography community.  Naturally, she doesn’t want to pass it up.  However, she must now decide between her career and being there for some of the only family she has ever had is the hardest decision she has ever had to make.  She knows what her heart is telling her to follow the magic of being with a family and settling down, but will she be able to make the decision?

This is not my normal go to book for a quick enjoyable read, but was worth every minute of my time. The setting was beautiful!  I love the islands of the Pacific Northwest, and every time Maggie went for a run I imagined myself on the beach with her.  While this is marketed towards women, it is one that male readers can still find enjoyable.  Lena finding out the problems her husband has left her with is something that probably happens far more often than any of us realize and was addressed well.  Lena had a hard time dealing with the stress of everything but was fortunate enough to have wonderful people in her life she could rely on to help her through the difficult times.  The few almost romance scenes were done well and not rushed.  I can’t stand to read a scene where you know the relationships are being rushed and completely not believable.  There are religious aspects to the book but nothing that is too “in your face” that might put readers off.  Linden did a fantastic job of writing a smooth flowing dialogue as well as narrative scenes.  I enjoyed the message Linden drove home of no matter how bad your situation is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but at the same time seeing the other side can show you a little bit of what you are missing in life.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a story with heart and a message that will touch them and help them if they are struggling through a difficult time.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Allie and Bea

AllieAuthor: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Release Date: May 23, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

I always forget how much I enjoy Catherine Ryan Hyde books until I pick them up. This might just be the best I have read by her.

After Bea’s husband died, she was able to get by, but just barely. That is, until she falls for a telephone scam that takes everything she has.  She leaves her small trailer behind and sets of in her van towards the Pacific Ocean with only her cat and easy chair in the back of the van.  After a short while on her journey, she runs into fifteen-year-old Allie who is on her own after her parents are put in jail for tax fraud and she was put in a group home.  Things in the group home are worse than she could have imagined, but not as bad as other places she could, and almost does, end up.  Fate throws the two together and they have to learn to trust each other.  As they journey up the Pacific Coast, they find that even though they were thrown together under unusual circumstances, maybe things won’t be as bad as they thought.

Allie and Bea is a very heartwarming novel on several levels.  If at first you think you are not going to enjoy this book, I encourage you to give it a little time.  Divided up into sections, one following Bea and the other following Allie, we get to see the story from the viewpoints of both characters and what they go through in order to end up in the place that ultimately throws them together.  At first it didn’t seem logical that their paths would cross, but Hyde did a beautiful job of bringing them together in a way that flowed with the story.  It took each of their life experiences to be able to help the other.  If Bea hadn’t gone through what she did, she never would have been there to help Allie when she desperately needed help. And if Allie hadn’t been through what she had, she wouldn’t have been able to help Bea in the way she needed also.  The way Hyde wove these characters together and the relationship they had was done in a way that I didn’t once question if this was what the characters would naturally do, it just made sense.  I felt for both Allie and Bea with what they went through and rejoiced in their triumphs and even had a few laughs. This book is full of life lessons and showing that family is not all about being related by blood, sometimes it is about so much more than what is in our DNA.

I have found with each new Catherine Ryan Hyde novel I read, I am continually adding her to my list of favorite authors.  I recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read that will help them think about how they view those around them and even restore a little faith in humanity at times.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Any Day Now

Any day nowAuthor: Robyn Carr

Series: Sullivan’s Crossing #2

Publisher: Mira

Release Date: April 18, 2017

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Relationships just seem to happen at Sullivan’s Crossing!

Sierra Jones is on the run and Sullivan’s Crossing looks like a good place for a stop over. Her brother Cal and his new wife Maggie are expecting their first child and she could use the time to talk with him.  She has some money, but she is going to need a place to work and a place to stay.  Maggie’s dad, Sully, quickly offers her one of the cabins and some work to do during March, which is the prep month for the cabins and campgrounds.  Sierra has no intentions of love until she meets the local paramedic, Connie.  He is handsome and built like a rock.  But she has a past that she wants to keep closed.  Can she be safe in Sullivan’s Crossing?  Or will she have to keep running?

Another love story set in Colorado is never a bad thing. And this one had quite a bit of suspense and mystery to it.  The layers keep pulling back on Cal’s family, especially his siblings.  It makes me wonder if the future installments will be based on the other two siblings.  It’s been fun to meet his family and learn more about them.  This book was not as difficult to follow on the viewpoint transitions as the first book.  However, there was still some sex scenes and language.  I still recommend this book for mature readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

What We Find

What WE FindAuthor: Robyn Carr

Series: Sullivan’s Crossing #1

Publisher: Mira

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When one door closes, another one opens.

Maggie Sullivan needs a break. Her practice had to close after her two partners were indicted for medical malpractice.  She’s been picking up shifts at the ER in the Denver Hospital but the stress and hours are driving her crazy.  A family that lost their teenage son a car accident is now suing her personally.  She just had a miscarriage with her longtime boyfriend, who has now decided that he just can’t be who she needs him to be.  Needless to say, she needs a break.  She loads up her bags and heads across the mountains to the small town of Sullivan’s Crossing where her dad owns the only general store in town.  It’s March, so it is nasty weather, but she needs the break.  Shortly after her arrival, her dad has a heart attack and she decides to stay and take care of him.  Can Maggie find what she is looking for?

This was a fast and exciting read. The story follows Maggie through her troubles and her emotions with trusting men.  Although, she initial doesn’t trust Cal, she succumbs pretty quickly to his charms.  It’s almost a type of coming of age story for Maggie on finding what she wants instead of what others want her to be.  Of course, a book set in the mountains of Colorado is always a fun place to be.

Overall, the story flowed pretty well, but the character transitions didn’t happen smoothly. There wasn’t a method to denote when you suddenly jumped viewpoints until you were halfway into a segment and realized it wasn’t Maggie anymore.  Also, there is a lot of sex in this book and some pretty harsh language as well.  I would recommend this book to mature readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Bashert

BashertAuthor: Herb Freed

Publisher: Bellrock Press

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A love story that goes beyond this world and into the next.

The second that Dan Sobol and Marion Gladstone meet, they know they are meant to be together. Dan is an ex-rabbi that has made his way into the film industry.  Marion is a writer and film editor who is getting over a divorce that has made her an outcast in the industry.  Together, they travel the world making movies and enjoying their time together until it all comes to an end far too soon.

Finding true love is something seen in movies and rarely experienced in real life. Herb Freed takes the reader on an adventure in love that goes beyond this world.  While the premise of the story is very intriguing, I had a hard time sticking with it.  There were points that I felt could have been skipped completely because they closed the story off from flowing.  However, other parts  of the story kept me reading quickly to find out what was going to happen.  The writing flows at times and stalls at others.  Even so, this is a story that will make the reader believe in true love and want to achieve what Marion and Dan did.  It also makes you want to avoid the qualities of some of the other characters, as well as others we are around every day.  Overall it was a decent read, but not one I will likely pick up again.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.