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.

THE SUMMER GUESTS by Mary Alice Monroe {Review}


Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★½


From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.


THE SUMMER GUESTS is the first book I’ve read by Mary Alice Monroe. I know she’s well known for her Beach House series, but I wanted to jump in with a summery standalone novel.

As a Category 5 hurricane is barreling toward the coast of Florida and South Carolina, a mix of different people from the equestrian community, as well as their horses and several rescue dogs, evacuate to the safely of Grace and Charles Phillips’ farm in North Carolina. As they ride out the storm together, each faces personal and interpersonal conflicts that must be resolved for them to move forward.

I enjoyed how the cast of characters represented a range of age groups, from the early 30s to 60s. The characters were strong, though some of their stories felt rushed given the large number of them. The details of horses, horse riding, and the equestrian community were well researched. Maybe a bit too horse-heavy for me, though someone into that scene would appreciate it more.

I adored the descriptions of Grace and Charles’ Freehold Farm, set in the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina. It was the perfect, magical place to take shelter from an impending storm. The amazing location was probably my favorite character. THE SUMMER GUESTS is a lovely warm-weather read, though I wish the focus had been on a couple of main characters versus having to keep track of so many.

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


About MARY ALICE MONROE:

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.

ANY DAY NOW by Robyn Carr {Review}


Series: Sullivan’s Crossing, #2
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


The highly anticipated sequel to #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s What We Find transports readers back to Sullivan’s Crossing. The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life. It’s a wonderful place where good people face their challenges with humor, strength and love.

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan’s Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She’s put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn’t yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet.

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she’s always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it’s a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan’s Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.


Robyn Carr has such a gift for creating small town communities that I would LOVE to live in. Sullivan’s Crossing, Colorado, is my current favorite!

ANY DAY NOW is the second installment in the series, with Cal’s younger sister Sierra coming to town to visit. Sierra is the survivor of a troubled past, though every day can still be a struggle. Cal’s father-in-law Sully owns a secluded mountain campground, and it’s just the place for Sierra to regain her footing. I adored the bond that formed between Sully and Sierra. Sully may seem lovably cantankerous at times, but he turned out to be the perfect surrogate father for Sierra.

Sierra was a strong woman determined to bury the demons in her past, and the wonderful support system she found in Colorado was a tremendous help, including her love interest, Conrad a local firefighter/paramedic. I enjoyed their slow burn romance which was realistic given each of their circumstances.

This book isn’t just about Sierra and Conrad, but it’s a continuation of the Sullivan’s Crossing saga and catching up with characters from the previous book, which I love. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

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

HER ONE MISTAKE by Heidi Perks {Review}


Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★


What should have been a fun-filled, carefree day takes a tragic turn for the worse for one mother when her best friend’s child goes missing in this suspenseful, compulsively readable, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter…

This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.


HER ONE MISTAKE is a fast-paced and nerve-racking domestic thriller, centering around the disappearance of a four-year old girl.

Harriet is a nervous mother who has never let her daughter Alice out of her sight. Hesitantly, she agrees to let her friend Charlotte take Alice (along with Charlotte’s three children) to a school fair. In the blink of an eye, a day of fun turns tragic when Alice goes missing.

Can you imagine the horror of losing your friend’s child? Charlotte is mortified, and Harriet is devastated. Could a friendship survive such a thing?

The search for Alice is a complex, twisty puzzle that had me hooked! I could easily empathize with Harriet and Charlotte, and definitely shared their tension. There’s not much I can say about the plot without the risk of spoilers, so I’ll just say that HER ONE MISTAKE was an exciting, suspenseful, and thought-provoking read. Enjoyed!

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


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