Last Summer (Kerry Lonsdale)

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From the Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Everything series comes a new novel of love, lies, and deceit.

Lifestyle journalist Ella Skye remembers every celebrity she interviewed, every politician she charmed between the sheets, and every socialite who eyed her with envy. The chance meeting with her husband, Damien; their rapid free fall into love; and their low-key, intimate wedding are all locked in her memory. But what she can’t remember is the tragic car accident that ripped her unborn child from her. Ella can’t even recall being pregnant.

Hoping to find the memories of a lost pregnancy that’s left her husband devastated and their home empty, Ella begins delving into her past when she’s assigned an exclusive story about Nathan Donovan, a retired celebrity adventurer who seems to know more about her than she does him. To unravel the mystery of her selective memory loss, Ella follows Nathan from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada to the frozen slopes of southeast Alaska. There she discovers the people she trusts most aren’t the only ones keeping secrets from her—she’s hiding them from herself. Ella quickly learns that some truths are best left forgotten.

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Last Summer is another amazing book from bestselling author Kerry Lonsdale, and a prime example of why she has become one of my favourite novelists. LS kept me guessing to the very end with twists and turns on an emotional rollercoaster.

Without giving out spoilers, I will say that by the end of chapter 29 I had a pit in my stomach for Ella, and teared up in several chapters. Lonsdale’s ability to write with such great expression draws readers in. I can always count on her to write characters with depth. Nathan, Damien and Ella are all completed people with insecurities, faults, and odd personality quirks. One of my favourite things about Lonsdale is that she doesn’t have “good” and “bad” people in her novels. Everyone is some blend of the two.

I highly recommend this book or audiobook (I listened, loved the narration!) and am eager to listen to her summer 2020 standalone Side Trip.

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Everything we give (Everything #3)

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From the author of Everything We Keep comes the final novel in the Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling Everything Series. Brimming with suspense, mystery, and romance, Everything We Give brings to a powerful close the gripping series of love, lies, and the secrets families keep.

Award-winning photographer Ian Collins made only one mistake in life, but it cost his mother her freedom and destroyed their family, leaving Ian to practically raise himself. For years he’s been estranged from his father, and his mother has lived off the grid. For just as long, he has searched for her.

Now, Ian seemingly has it all—national recognition for his photographs; his loving wife, Aimee; and their adoring daughter, Caty. Only two things elude him: a feature in National Geographic and finding his mother. When the prized magazine offers him his dream project on the same day that Aimee’s ex-fiancé, James, returns bearing a message for Ian but putting a strain on his marriage, Ian must make a choice: chase after a coveted assignment or reconnect with a mysterious woman who might hold the key to putting his past to rest. But the stakes are high, because Ian could lose the one thing he holds most dear: his family.

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This is the third book in a series. You can read my reviews on the first and second novels as well.

Everything We Give is the final instalment of the Everything series, and is written from the perspective of Ian, who was originally introduced in the first novel in this series. Throughout the book, the timeline jumps between Ian’s childhood and the present day, with the vast majority of scenes told from his POV.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book, and highly recommend the series. It combines family drama, with mystery and romance, and would be a good fit for readers of any of those genres.

Lonsdale always includes an aspect of mysticism and psychology in her works, something which I enjoy. It adds depth to the plot-line and lends a feeling of realism to the turmoil her characters face. These books are extremely well written; everything that unfolds feels natural and organic.

This book is narrated by Andrew Eiden and Amy Landon. I really liked Andrew’s performance as Ian, but Amy Landon’s voice did not suit my perception of Amiee at all. I wish that the publisher had kept the original narrator of Amiee’s POV, from the first audiobook in this series. Otherwise, I greatly enjoyed the narration of Everything We Give and I am excited to listen to the next book by Kerry Lonsdale soon.

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Everything we left behind (Everything #2)

2From the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Everything We Keep comes the highly anticipated sequel. Told from one man’s two perspectives, Everything We Left Behind effortlessly blends suspense, mystery, and romance in an exploration of loss, resilience, and the compelling need to protect the ones we love at all cost.

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

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This is book two in the series and should be read in order. You can read my review of the first novel here.

Everything we left behind was a great book, an interesting follow-up the original story. Most books in a series like this tend to follow the same characters throughout, so when I started reading the first, I expected all three books to be told from Aimee’s point of view. However, the second story takes place in two different time periods and from dual perspectives: Carlos’ POV, picking up immediately after Aimee’s visit to Oaxaca, and James’ POV, in the “present day”, in a post-fugue state.

This is a family drama, a who-dun-it. There is mystery, a little bit of romance, and single parent shenanigans.

My favourite part of Kerry Lonsdale’s writing is that she creates flawed characters, flawed people. There is no one in her story that is wholly good or wholly bad, and each person struggles to find their way through such impossible situations.

I am very excited to read the final book in this series, and will start listening to it soon, although at this point, I have no idea whose POV it will cover as James’ story seems to be completed. I am guessing it will be about Phil, or possibly Thomas?

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Timothy Andrés Pabon, who had a lovely accent. I enjoyed listening him and plan to listen to the last in the series as well.

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Twisted Bonds (Camorra Chronicles #4)

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Can you ever truly leave the past behind in a house full of haunted souls?

Kiara always wanted a loving family she could take care of. She never thought she’d find it with the Falcones.

Nino and Kiara both lost part of themselves in their traumatic childhood. Together they’re trying to recover the missing pieces, but they aren’t the only broken souls in the Falcone mansion; Kiara fears that not all of them can be saved. Determined to protect her new family and the future of her dreams, she’s on a mission to help each of them in her own way, even if it means stacking up secrets.

Four brothers bound together by an unbreakable bond forged in their dark past. If one of them falls, will they all?

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* I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Twisted Bonds is the fourth book in the Camorra Chronicles series. I loved revisiting Kiara and Nino’s relationship and reading about events from their points of view. I was in love with their first book and have read it at least a dozen times, so it was a treat to get a second.

There is a lot of family drama in this book, but in a good way …? If that even makes sense. The bonds between Nino and his brothers cannot be broken. Serafina, and especially Kiara, have become integral members of their family as well. I love the community aspect of a book and seeing all the different relationships unfold; the secenes between Kiara and Remo were some of my favourites. Cora Reilly does this extremely well and it is something I always highly anticipate in her books.

Twisted Bonds has absolutely increased my appetite for another book. Unfortunately, the next will not be out until February 2020, so I will probably read this one several times over before then.

Please Note: Twisted Bonds must be read as part of the series, in order, or it will not make much sense!

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Everything we Keep (Everything #1)

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A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keepexplores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.

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This is the second book that I have read by Kerry Lonsdale, and I think that this author has skyrocketed to my top ten authors list.

Her writing is passionate and heartfelt. I could not stop listening to the story because I was so emotionally invested in what would happen to the characters, particularly Aimee.

Everything We Keep starts off at James’ funeral, and is told from his fiance Aimee’s POV. Obviously, the start of this book is extremely sad, but I didn’t feel like the abrupt beginning took anything away from the moment. Lonsdale’s writing is emotionally pure, and not knowing the characters took nothing away from Aimee’s loneliness, sadness and despair.

I don’t know who the original owner of this quote is, but is perfect for Everything We Keep.

“Some books you read Some books you enjoy.

But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul.”

The narrative takes place over the course of a fairly long time period, approximately two years. It also flashes back in time periodically, as Aimee recalls memories from her and James’ shared childhoods.

The story is very driven by character development rather than intricate plot points. Aimee struggles with reinventing herself as an independent women after the death of her fiance, with whom she had been best friends since childhood. The book progressed a little too slowly for me.

I enjoyed the audiobook performance by Amy Landon. She wasn’t great at the male characters’ voices though. I preferred the narration of All the Breaking Waves by Dara Rosenburg.

Overall, I loved this book, will listen to the rest in the series. This book tore my heart out at times, and was definitely accompanied by a box of tissues.

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Bitter Heat (Singed #1)

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She was the wood. He was the flame. After this, they would be ash.

A cruel twist of fate leaves Jasmine Hennessy stranded in a remote cabin with her worst nightmare—her ex-husband, James Roth, who she hasn’t seen in five years. He isn’t acting like the man she married, but did she ever really know him?

One night together kicks off a series of events that threatens her freedom as Roth seeks vengeance on those who ruined him seven years ago. He’s determined to bring her back into the world she left behind where money is king, reputation is everything, and people will kill to keep their secrets.

Author’s Note: This is a dark romance novel with triggers and mature themes that may make some readers uncomfortable.

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* I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read Bitter Heat in one sitting. And I want book two now. Not six months from now. NOW.

Sooooo, I guess you could say that I liked it.

This is the first book in the Singed dark romance series by Mia Knight. I hope it lasts a long time because it sure has started out strong.

The hero is James Roth, a self-made billionaire who takes cold ruthlessness to the extreme. He is determined to own and control his ex-wife “Jasmine Hennessy”, and punish her for walking out on their marriage years ago.

I have a feeling that book number two will be darker than book one, which is a-ok with me. I liked that there was a strong cast of secondary characters to flush out the story. Personally, I enjoy this because it makes the fictional world the author creates more realistic with the extra dimensions, but Ms Knight does an excellent job of controlling the flow of information, so it never takes away from the key love story between Roth and Jasmine.

If you like alpha males or dark romance, Bitter Heat should move to the top of your automatic buy list. It will be released on all retailers on March 29, 2019.

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Pieces of her (Karin Slaughter)

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Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

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This was another audiobook I could not put down. I listened to it in just three sittings, and still wish that there was more. I listened while I worked, commuted, snuggled the cat, cooked, folded laundry … nothing was more important than finishing this story.

I am a huge fan of Karin Slaughter. I only started reading her work around a year ago, but I have quickly fallen in love with her style, and her stories have drawn me further into the thriller genre. I will devour any book she puts out.

Pieces of Her switches perspectives and time periods, between the 1980s and 2018. I was thoroughly engrossed and emotionally invested in Slaughter’s characters. This book was heavily reliant on a fast-paced plot to drive the story. There was much less graphic violence than the other standalones this author has published, and I would easily recommend it to someone new to her, or to the genre.

There were a few points in the book that brought out some light-hearted humour to balance out the heavy tone predominant throughout the chapters. I liked the author’s references to pop-culture references. When Andi first is on the run, she can’t think straight and so falls back on tv and movies as her aliases. Hence, her proclamation that she came from the town of Mystic Falls.

I will definitely be picking up the next audiobook as soon as Karin Slaughter released a new book!

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Instant Family

downloadInstant Family is 2018 movie about a couple who adopts children through the foster system in California. This type of adoption is often referred to as “fost-adopt”.

Angie from This Gathered Nest featured the show on her channel a few weeks ago. She and her family are huge adoption advocates and I am super excited to share this film.

I saw it last night and it is sweet, funny and so so true. Although not a Christmas film, it is in theatres right now and I highly recommend you see it. It exemplifies many themes behind the true meaning of Christmas and will fill you with all the feels.

I really hope that this film inspires others to become involved in the foster care system. There are many more children than parents in the system, but there are lots of other ways you can also become connected. One example is working with local organizations to fund extracurricular activities, joining Big Brothers and Big Sisters, sponsoring a foster family for Christmas … the list is endless.

I really enjoyed this movie and it is one I would watch again without hesitation.

The trailer is available here.

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