THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.


Amazing! THE SUN DOWN MOTEL is an addictive and chilling paranormal mystery set in the small town of Fell, New York. The story is told in dual time periods — Viv in 1982, and her niece, Carly, in 2017. Viv was the lone night clerk of the creepy motel when she went missing without a trace 35 years ago. Now Carly has come to Fell and taken Viv’s old position in hopes of finding out what happened to her aunt decades ago.

Simone St. James knows how to create the perfect dark, eerie atmosphere and compelling mystery. I adored the cast of characters who were mainly strong and intriguing women. Of course, one the most fascinating characters in the book was the motel itself. That place felt so alive and real with the creepiest vibe ever!

THE SUN DOWN MOTEL is a haunting page-turner that kept me reading all night. Highly recommended!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN by Diane Chamberlain


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★


From New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel in Big Lies in a Small Town.

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?


BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN is an absorbing story of two young artists from different eras, tied together by an abandoned mural meant for a post office wall in a small Southern city.

In 1940, New Jersey artist Anna Dale wins a national contest to paint a post office mural for a North Carolina town. Almost 80 years later, Morgan Christopher gets early release from prison with the condition that she restore the badly damaged mural so it will be hanging in a new museum on opening day.

Why was the mural abandoned and never installed? Why was troubled Morgan chosen to be the restorer? And what dark secrets are held beneath the grime of the old painting? I enjoyed the back and forth between time periods as intriguing and sometimes disturbing details were revealed. Very well written! This is the first book by Diane Chamberlain I’ve read, and I’m already a fan.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

YOU WERE THERE TOO by Colleen Oakley


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★


Acclaimed author Colleen Oakley delivers a heart-wrenching and unforgettable love story about a woman who must choose between the man she loves and the man fate has chosen for her, in a novel that reminds us that the best life is one led by the heart.

Mia Graydon’s life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too—unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of it, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he’s been dreaming of her too.

Determined to understand, Mia and this not-so-stranger search for answers. But when diving into their pasts begins to unravel her life in the present, Mia emerges with a single question — what if?


YOU WERE THERE TOO was a wonderful, heartbreaking book. It was one that I couldn’t wait to get back to, while at the same time dreading that it will end. I knew going in, with that premise, how could it not be a tearjearker? And it was, for sure, though surprisingly in a different way than I expected. The characters are genuine and flawed, and I cared deeply about them. This is a gripping story about love and fate, dreams and their meanings, and about what is and what could have been. Unique and thought-provoking…tissues a must. ♥

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER by Hazel Prior {Review}


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★


A rich, heartwarming and charming debut novel that reminds us that sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places.

Dan Hollis lives a happy, solitary life carving exquisite Celtic harps in his barn in the countryside of the English moors. Here he can be himself, away from social situations that he doesn’t always get right or completely understand.

On the anniversary of her beloved father’s death, Ellie Jacobs takes a walk in the woods and comes across Dan’s barn. She is enchanted by his collection. Dan gives her a harp made of cherrywood to match her cherry socks. He stores it for her, ready for whenever she’d like to take lessons.

Ellie begins visiting Dan almost daily and quickly learns that he isn’t like other people. He makes her sandwiches precisely cut into triangles and repeatedly counts the (seventeen) steps of the wooden staircase to the upstairs practice room. Ellie soon realizes Dan isn’t just different; in many ways, his world is better, and he gives her a fresh perspective on her own life.


Dan is a harpmaker, crafting gorgeous Celtic harps in his barn in the English countryside. Ellie is a housewife who stumbles upon Dan’s barn one day. He gives her a harp that matches the color of her socks, giving Ellie’s humdrum life a gentle nudge in a different direction.

I love Celtic harp music, so the description of this book pulled me in. I enjoyed Dan’s character the most. He was a bit quirky with a unique way of seeing the world. On the other hand I struggled with Ellie’s character. She came off as part flighty and part doormat, though I appreciate what she did for Dan as the story progressed. (Not everything though!)

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER was a light and sweet story with an almost fairy tale quality to it. I was not quite convinced of the romance between the two main characters, but it is a lovely story of friendship, and also finding one’s self identity.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thoughts on Books (#18): FINDING COLIN FIRTH / WAITING FOR TOM HANKS


Finding Colin Firth
Finding Colin Firth by Mia March
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Three women, Bea, Veronica, and Gemma, experience a life-changing summer when Colin Firth comes to town to film a movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect in this book, but what I found was a heartwarming story about motherhood, identity, loss, family, and magical elixir pies.

What’s really at the heart of this book is Hope Home, a refuge for pregnant teens near Boothbay Harbor, Maine, that’s approaching its 50-year anniversary. Veronica was a resident 22 years ago, and she gave up her baby for adoption, hoping for a better life for her daughter than she could give. Bea has just recently found out that Veronica is her birth mother, and she’s come to town to learn her history. Gemma is at a turning point in her life, newly unemployed and pregnant, and doing a freelance story on Hope Home. She’s conflicted about motherhood and at odds with her husband about how and where to raise their child.

I enjoyed and connected with all of the characters, and their conflicts were realistic and emotional ones. Lovely Maine setting too. FINDING COLIN FIRTH is a wonderful summer read with depth and heart. Enjoyed!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Waiting for Tom Hanks (Waiting for Tom Hanks, #1)
Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

WAITING FOR TOM HANKS is a light & cute story about a young woman so obsessed with romantic comedies that she’s holding out on love until she meets her perfect Tom Hanks. Annie is an aspiring screenwriter living in Ohio with her quirky uncle. When a film crew comes to town to shoot an upcoming romcom, her uncle uses his connections to get her a job as director’s assistant. Will she find her perfect match in Drew Danforth, the film’s leading man? Of course, like any true romcom, the road to HEA can be a bumpy & unexpected one.

Overall, I thought this book was fun and occasionally silly, with a grown woman thinking she could eventually live inside one of her favorite films. I never quite understood her rudeness toward Drew, like she was creating a conflict where there shouldn’t have been one. I greatly enjoyed the secondary characters, especially her Uncle Don and best friend Chloe.

WAITING FOR TOM HANKS is a charming beach read with plenty of funny moments. After finishing this book, I had to pull out my DVDs of Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail and watch them again. ♥

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.