Nina McCarrick has it all: a loving husband, two beautiful boys, a well-appointed home and more time than she knows what to do with. Life is perfect. Until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina’s life of luxury quickly disappears and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
Stirring and empowering, this novel from bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this tale of one woman’s loss and love.
My Review of The Art of Hiding
The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse is the powerful and bittersweet story of love, loss and the power of resilience. Nina McCarrick has everything a woman could want. A loving husband, two beautiful sons, a grand home and an affluent lifestyle that anyone would envy. But unbeknown to Nina she is living in a glass castle that is about to be shattered. The sudden and tragic death of her husband has left her world splintered in more ways than one. Not only has the car accident that took her husband away and left Nina and her boys in pieces, but the life they have lived until now appears to be a lie. Upon the death of her husband, Finn’s lawyer and financial manager tell Nina that her husband’s construction company was in debt for more than 8 million pounds. To make matters worse, she is informed that the prestigious King’s Norton College, a private school her sons have been attending, has removed them from the roster for the following term due to lack of payment. If this is not nightmare enough, all her accounts are now frozen and a collection agency has shown up to confiscate all their assets. With no car, very little money, a few items that were hidden or missed Nina and her young sons turn to the only ally they have, her sister Tiggy.
Tiggy is more than willing to help Nina get her feet on the ground, but it means returning to a small dilapidated flat in Portswood where Nina has vowed never to return. When she married Finn McCarrick she left that area and what she thought was the stench of poverty and struggling behind her. But beggars can’t be choosers and Nina’s lack of skills, a job and money has left her with little choice. Her fifteen and ten year old sons are angry and struggling not only with the loss of their father, but also their lifestyle. Used to posh surroundings and the fear of the unknown has left them on edge. However, Connor and Declan are not the only ones struggling with their new life. Nina is constantly questioning the validity of her marriage. How could someone she thought she knew keep her in the dark. This also leads her to question the car accident that took his life. Was it an accident or was it an easy way out. But Nina has no time or money for self-pity and discovers she has more strength that she gives herself credit. Relying on the girl she used to be, Nina decides to carve out a life for her little family. Finding a job and doing the best she can with what little she has makes her determined she won’t be beaten. With the love of her sons and her sister Tiggy, Nina decides to make their flat a home as they all discover it’s not your possessions that make you happy, but the amount of courage and love in your heart.
I really enjoyed The Art of Hiding. I particularly appreciated the way the characters evolved. Nina had to discover who she really was and what she was made of again with the help from her tough love sister. With the assistance of Tiggy, Nina realized she had lost her grit and determination and had been living in the shadow of her husband by the life he wanted her to live. For the first time since she was eighteen, Nina could live her life on her terms and show her sons how to do the same. I also appreciated that her sons Connor and Declan came to finally respect all that Nina was willing to put herself through to secure their future and come out on the other side strong, happy and independent. The Art of Hiding left me feeling content and confident that despite the tragic circumstances of their lives, joy and happiness could be found in themselves and in each other.
The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse is a book with strong characters and a storyline that will haunt you and tug at your heart. It’s about courage and strength of character in the worst of circumstances. It’s about facing change head on and staring it down. It’s about family, resilience and the power of love.
I want to thank Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley for an advanced copy of The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse for a fair and honest review.
The Pursuit of Lady Harriett by Rachael Anderson When wills clash and hearts collide, who will reign victorious? Termed an Incomparable during her first London season, Lady Harriett Cavendish is beautiful, spirited, and confident, capturing the attention of a great many suitors. Unfortunately, they all failed to capture her attention, and she concluded the season as unattached as she’d begun it. Only weeks prior to her second season, Harriett encounters Lieutenant Christopher Jamison while visiting Tanglewood Manor. Recently returned from war, the lieutenant is everything that Harriett's previous suitors were not. He’s arrogant, ungentlemanly, irritating, and challenges her at every opportunity. When he goes too far, Harriett decides that it’s time to turn the tables on him. But as she sets out to put the lieutenant in his place once and for all, she discovers there is more to him than meets the eye, and when it comes to matters of the heart, she has no control whatsoever. Excerpt
The corners of the man’s eyes crinkled in a mild show of amusement. “Lady Harriett, I presume?” Rather than look at her with appreciation as most men did, he appeared amused. At her nod, he tucked his hands behind his back, remaining a few steps above her. “I am Lieutenant Christopher Jamison, an old friend of Jonathan’s.” “I was expecting you days ago,” she answered. “Lord Jonathan charged me with the unhappy task of informing you he and his new bride are currently away on their wedding trip. He is sorry he cannot be here to meet with you and has asked that I relay his apologies.” “May I inquire as to how long they will be away?” he asked. No, you may not, she wanted to say. Her neck was beginning to ache from looking up at him, but she forced her gaze to remain steady. “They expected to be gone a fortnight, sir.” “And they have been gone how long, exactly?” She felt an unaccountable hesitancy to tell him. “A week.” “Ah.” He sounded disappointed but seemed to take the news in stride, glancing at Charlie as though wondering whether he ought to retrieve his horse or not. Harriett prayed that he would. When his gaze strayed back to her, he took the unwelcome, and ungentlemanly, liberty of perusing her figure. When his eyes met hers again, his lips twitched into a slight smile. “Forgive me, my lady, but you appear to have had a run-in with a mud puddle and lost.” How kind of him to point that out. Harriett kept her hands at her side rather than attempt to brush the dirt from her face and pelisse yet again. The damage was done, and no amount of brushing or shaking would remove the muck. What she needed was a hot bath and a change of clothes. “Actually, sir, I was merely an innocent bystander.” “Indeed?” She picked up her skirts and ascended the steps, stopping on the stair above him so that she was eye level with him. “Are you always such a reckless rider, sir? Do you not pay heed to your surroundings?” “Of course I do.” “If you had, you would have seen me standing at the side of the road and, I would hope, thought to slow your animal down so as to not splash mud all over my pelisse.” Her chilly set down did not have the desired effect. He did not appear the least bit repentant. Rather, he looked ready to burst into laughter. “And your face, apparently.” He leaned forward and squinted. “If I’m not mistaken, there is a splash or two of mud on your bonnet as well.” Harriett glared at him. “How observant you are, Lieutenant Jamison. One can only wonder why you didn’t put that skill to good use earlier. If you had, perhaps my pelisse, face, and bonnet would still be clean.” “I am always observant, my lady,” he said. “But might I suggest that if you would like to be noticed at the side of the road, you should wear a color that does not blend so perfectly with your surroundings. That particular shade of green looks quite lovely on you, but only someone with the eyes of an eagle would have spotted you in front of a landscape of evergreens.” Harriett opened her mouth to respond, but no words were forthcoming. The man did not even attempt to behave like a gentleman. How could he be so . . . so . . . “Have you no apology to offer, sir?” she finally spluttered. “Oh, did I not apologize? Forgive me.” “For what? Forgetting to apologize or for not doing so in the first place?”Author Rachael Anderson A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating. $75 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 9/22/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Beloved Author Lauraine Snelling Launches New Immigrant Series
When Signe, her husband, Rune, and their three boys arrive in Minnesota from Norway to help a relative clear his land of lumber, they dream of owning their own farm and building a life in the New World. But Uncle Einar and Aunt Gird are hard, demanding people, and Signe and her family soon find themselves worked nearly to the bone in order to repay the cost of their voyage. At this rate, they will never have land or a life of their own.
Signe tries to trust God but struggles with anger and bitterness. She has left behind the only life she knew, and while it wasn't an easy life, it wasn't as hard as what she now faces. When a new addition to the family arrives, Signe begins to see how God has been watching over them throughout their ordeal. But after all that has happened, can she still believe in the promise of a bright future
My Review of The Promise Of Dawn
The Promise of Dawn, the first in the Under Northern Skies series by Lauraine Snelling is the rich and poignant story of the Carlson family that arrived in America during the early 1900’s hoping for a new start. When Rune Carlson receives a request from his Uncle Einar in the United States to come and help him with his farm, logging business and ailing wife in return for room, board and eventually a parcel of land, the opportunity seems too good to be true. With little work in Norway to be had and desperately wanting a new beginning, Rune and his wife Signe agree with some trepidation that this could be the break they have been looking for. Leaving all they love behind Rune and Signe and their three young boys in tow head for the long voyage to America. The voyage as expected is long and hard, especially for Signe in the early stages of pregnancy. Finally, the long voyage being over they look forward to meeting their Uncle Einar and Aunt Gerd, but what greets them is a dirty house, a harsh uncle and a cantankerous ailing wife.
The logging work is hard and Uncle Einar expects loyalty and long hours even from the smallest of their children. When they are not in the woods felling trees they are expected to work the farm and assist with the care of the animals. Signe’s work around the house never seems to end and assisting Aunt Gerd in her condition is trying and tiring. However, as time goes by Signe begins to make progress with Aunt Gerd. Through care, good food and Signe’s stubbornness Aunt Gerd begins to improve and the two develop a special relationship. Uncle Einar on the other hand becomes worse with time. Demanding more and more, he is not beneath threats to make the family work and keep them under his thumb. They are nothing more than indentured servants to him and he will have his way. As time goes on and the abuse continues, Rune prays for strength for his family and for God to show him the way. Do they leave or do they stay? Only God and time will show him the way.
I loved this book for so many reasons. First and foremost are the characters. I loved Signe and Rune. Signe was strong and determined and didn’t take a backseat to anyone, even Einar.Her energy, grit and determination to get Aunt Gerd out of bed and involved with the family never let up. Rune’s character was gentle and patient, but he also had his limits. He was resolved that his wife and boys would no longer take Einar’s abuse. When Rune finally takes a stand no one cheered louder than me. I also had a soft spot for Aunt Gerd. I enjoyed how the author slowing developed her character. It was like watching a butterfly emerge form a chrysalis. Having lived with a harsh and emotionally detached husband, the care and kindness shown to her from Signe eventually melted her heart and irritable ways. Aunt Gerd through love and patience not only showed her fondness for the relatives, but became physically stronger too. No longer attached to her bed, she eventually became a help to Signe at the time she needed it most. Oh, and let’s not forget Einar. He’s the character you love to hate. I was so irritated with him I found myself talking back to him as I read. Harsh and forbidding he was quite a formidable character.
I also loved the storyline and the descriptions of farm life especially the scenes in the kitchen with the women. I felt like I could smell and taste the bread and other foods Signe was always preparing for her family and Gerd. And the chores, good grief, were hard and backbreaking. I became tired just reading the list of duties Signe and the boys did on a daily basis. One thing is for sure, farming and homesteading was not for the weak and faint of heart.
If you tend to read Amish stories, or like stories of families or early America you will love The Promise of Dawn. A beautifully written story with well-developed characters you will love, or love to hate, that will make you smile and keep turning the pages. A novel to finish out your summer reading or something new to start when the kids go back to school, The Promise of Dawn is a winner that is sure to please.
I want to thank Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley for an advanced copy of Lauraine Snelling’s The Promise of Dawn for a fair and honest review.
Back to School $250 Giveaway
August 17th to September 7thThanks to this fabulous group of bloggers and authors for sponsoring this giveaway! Enter for your chance to win $250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon Gift Card. Sponsor List I Am A Reader Geybie's Book Blog S.T. Bende Lori's Reading Corner Laurisa White Reyes Every Free Chance Books The Editing Hall Simple Wyrdings Author Al Stone D.S. Venetta ~ Organic Gardening for Kids! Anna del C. Dye My Life. One Story at a Time. Heather Boyd Regency Romance Author Author Mary Ting Author Inger Iversen Krysten Lindsay Hager author Kindle and Me Erin Richards Glistering: B's Blog Helen Smith Donna K. Weaver Carrie @ Reading Is My SuperPower Bookhounds Alexandrea Weis Caroline Clemmons Author D.E. Haggerty Diana's Book Reviews Bound 4 Escape More Than a Review Heather @ Townsend House Spirit Filled eBooks The Serious Reader Author Felicia Starr The Page Unbound CoolCatMysteries Heather Gray, Christian Romance Mary from YourDesignerDog Karmack by JC Whyte Kasey's Book Reviews
Giveaway Details$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com eGift Card Ends 9/7/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Amazon.com. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway
A novel of five lifelong friends who, in their sixties, decide to live together on a cocoa farm in Fiji, where they not only start a chocolate business but strengthen their friendships and rediscover themselves.
"I've planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset. Why don't you join me? Leave behind everything that didn't work out!"
When Sina, Maya, Ingrid, and Lisbeth each receive a letter in the mail posing the same question, the answer is obvious. Their old high school friend Kat—Kat the adventurer, Kat who spread her wings and took off as soon as they graduated—has extended the invitation of a lifetime: Come live with me on my cocoa farm in Fiji. Come spend the days eating chocolate and gabbing like teenagers once again, free from men, worries, and cold. Come grow old in paradise, together, as sisters. Who could say no?
Now in their sixties, the friends have all but resigned themselves to the cards they've been dealt. There's Sina, a single mom with financial woes; gentle Maya who feels the world slipping away from her; Ingrid, the perennial loner; Lisbeth, a woman with a seemingly picture-perfect life; and then Kat, who is recently widowed. As they adjust to their new lives together, the friends are watched over by Ateca, Kat's longtime housekeeper, who oftentimes knows the women better than they know themselves and recognizes them for what they are: like "a necklace made of shells: from the same beach but all of them different." Surrounded by an azure-blue ocean, cocoa trees, and a local culture that is fascinatingly, joyfully alien, the friends find a new purpose in starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness.
A story of love, hope, and chocolate, PIECES OF HAPPINESS will reaffirm your faith in friendship, second chances, and the importance of indulging one's sweet tooth.
My Review of Pieces of Happiness
Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby reminds us friendships can endure, age is just a number and dreams are often sweeter when shared.
After traveling the world in primarily underdeveloped countries to assist with a variety of social justice causes, Katrina (Kat) and her husband Niklas decide to buy a cocoa plantation in Fiji and settle down for the remainder of their years. The native island delights them with its lush vegetation, colorful flowers, beautiful waters and its people and native customs. But Kat’s dreams are short lived at the sudden and unexpected death of Niklas. Unwilling to leave the island she has come to love, Kat reaches out to four of her high school friends and challenges them to visit and perhaps stay if the island calls them. A return ticket is promised if the island and all it has to offer does not prove to be what Kat has claimed it to be.
Now in their sixties all of the women are intrigued by Kat’s invitation. Ingrid a bookkeeper and Kat’s best friend is single with a pension from the County Bus Service. A disciplined but unassuming life has led Ingrid to be more than interested in traveling to Fiji. Lisbeth, the beauty of the group, is now stuck in a loveless marriage. Fear of aging and losing her looks Lisbeth is eager to step away from her life and her husband for a while. Distanced from her children Lisbeth feels it’s now or never. Sina, the cynical one of the group is anxious to leave her unstable and dreary life to start somewhere fresh. Her fifty year old son has drained her of her finances and her emotions with his get rich quick schemes. Knowing she has nothing left to give him, she is the first to board a plane headed for Fiji. Maya, the most complicated of the group is now a widow with early onset Alzheimer’s. Once a schoolteacher Maya’s days are now a mixture of confusion and reality. Determined to take on the challenge, Kat reassures her daughter Evy that her group of friends will handle whatever may come. With that in mind Maya also joins the group.
As the days become weeks and weeks months the love of the island, its people and the culture becomes ingrained in each of the women in different ways. Anxious for adventure and a new start in life the cocoa plantation becomes an invitation for a new business. Kat’s candy or as they describe it pieces of happiness begins to grow, develop and take on a life of its own. The friends all work together, each contributing manual labor or their own level of experience or expertise. But as the business grows the friends discover that Fijian life has altered and changed them in different ways. They are not the same women they were in high school or the same women that arrived on the island. Each carry their own sorrow and secrets that have yet to be revealed. As time goes by and things hidden are disclosed, the women’s friendships will be tested and either sealed or broken.
I liked Pieces of Happiness. It transported me to an island where I could envision beautiful flowers and feel a warm breeze coming off the ocean. It made me reminisce about old high school friends and secrets giggled at sleepovers. It also made me realize I was glad for the wonderful friends I have in my life as an adult. I especially appreciate Anne Ostby view from each of the women. Each chapter was told from a perspective of each of them as to the life they left behind, their sorrows and worries and how this new life was changing them. Every few chapters the author would cleverly give a perspective of the friends through the eyes of Kat’s housekeeper Ateca. It was always done through Ateca’s daily prayers for her son and each woman to Jesus. Beautiful and poignant Ateca was always able to see what the women needed even when they didn’t know themselves.
Pieces of Happiness will stay with you long after you read the last page. Kat, Ingrid, Sina, Maya and Lisbeth lives and loves, successes and sorrows will be planted in your memory as you close the book. Pieces of Happiness will make you yearn for warm climates, soft breezes and silky pieces of chocolate. It may encourage you to call a friend to catch up and perhaps even share a secret or two.
I want to thank Doubleday via Netgalley for an advanced reader copy of Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby for a fair and honest review.
Riveting Legal Suspense from Lawyer Todd M. Johnson
Ian Wells is a young criminal defense attorney struggling to build a Minneapolis law practice he inherited from his father while caring for a mother with Alzheimer's. Nearly at the breaking point, everything changes for Ian when a new client offers a simple case: determine whether three men qualify for over nine million dollars of trust funds. To qualify, none can have been involved in criminal activity for the past twenty years. Ian's fee for a week's work: the unbelievable sum of two hundred thousand dollars.
Ian warily accepts the job--but is quickly dragged deep into a mystery linking the trust with a decades-old criminal enterprise and the greatest unsolved art theft in Minnesota history. As stolen money from the art theft surfaces, Ian finds himself the target of a criminal investigation by Brook Daniels, a prosecutor who is also his closest law school friend. He realizes too late that this simple investigation has spun out of control and now threatens his career, his future, and his life.
My Review of Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson
Like a roller coaster, Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson, gives us a thrill ride that keeps us guessing and the pages turning till the very end.
Ian Wells is feeling pressure these days. As a new defense attorney his law practice has been anything but easy. Trying to close cases for his late father’s practice, Ian relies on another attorney to send clients his way that unfortunately are not paying well if at all. On top of his career troubles his mother has fallen victim to Alzheimer’s disease and is needing more attention than he is able to provide. As Ian struggles with little clients of his own, money woes and his mother’s failing health an unexpected client presents himself that seems too good to be true. A trust worth millions of dollars prepared many years ago by his father Connor Wells has finally come due. The monies according to the trust are to be divided three ways provided each beneficiary had not been involved in any illegal activity since the trust’s draft in 1998. Connor Well’s was to receive two hundred thousand dollars once the investigation was completed and the monies distributed. That money will now fall to Ian if he decides to take the case and investigate the three beneficiaries. Ian is dumbfounded at the staggering sum his father was to receive. Although some attorneys have been known to charge large retainer fees, even this amount is a little suspicious. With mounting pressure to pay bills and provide more care for his mother he decides to take the case against his better judgement. As time goes by and Ian investigates the three beneficiaries he finds he has more questions than answers. The more he investigates the three beneficiaries the more he discovers a dark criminal past that goes back decades including an art heist involving a murdered security guard. Convinced his father may have been involved Ian digs deeper to get at the real facts and becomes a target by the very people who hired him. As Ian gets closer to the truth he enlists the help of a close friend, Brook Daniels from the District Attorney’s office. Together they will work to uncover the truth, but not before Ian and his mother become the next potential victims.
I really liked this book. I will say it again, I really liked this book. I have not read a mystery (thriller) in a long time so I jumped at the chance with Fatal Trust and I was not disappointed. Todd M. Johnson had me hooked from the first page till the very last. The twists and turns of the plot kept me guessing and I was very surprised at the end. The characters the author portrayed elicited many feeling as a reader. My favorite was Ian. Kind, intelligent and fearless to find the truth he was a perfect hero. Brook was on my favorite list too as was Ian’s legal assistant Katie. Katie’s loyalty and Brook’s affection for Ian was evident as both women put their careers and friendships on the line to get at the truth. Ian’s mother Martha was extremely complex and I appreciated all the surprises her character brought to the book.
As for the bad guys and every good mystery has them, Sean Callahan’s character made my skin crawl. Cruel and determined he would do anything to get what he felt he deserved. Rory Doyle on the other hand was a sad character. Never escaping his past, he lived with all the trauma and dysfunction of his father’s crimes. All the characters created melded together to make one exciting storyline. Like any good book I was anxious to have the mystery solved, but was sad when it was over. A great read for a warm summer night or any time, Fatal Trust will not disappoint.
Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson is an exciting read with all the twists and turns every good mystery reader loves. A great story with suspense and a little romance to enjoy with a glass of wine or a cold lemonade on a warm summer night.
I want to thank Bethany House via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson for a fair and honest review.
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