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review 2018-04-22 19:53
Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers
Island of Sweet Pie and Soldiers - Sara Ackerman
What a wonderful novel to read. I fell in love with the cover and after reading the synopsis, I knew this was something I needed to read. I didn’t expect the novel to be such a calm and enjoyable read. The novel takes place on Hawaii during WWII. A group of soldiers have arrived for training on the island, where they meet a group of women who are making the best of the situation. It’s a novel filled with racial tension, romance, friendships, war and family life.
 
Violet’s husband went missing one day and even with her monthly visits to the police station, to keep the case active, there is no news on Herman’s whereabouts. Ella wants to attend the Japanese School so Violet asks Setsuko if it would be possible for her daughter to attend her school. Ella will be the first white student in the school but this is short-lived as soldiers soon embark upon the island and close it down. It’s sad that Ella’s is again brokenhearted but when she takes to the soldier’s mascot, she finds happiness once again. Their mascot is a lion named Roscoe.
 
Violet has noticed this change in Ella and she feels it is because Herman is missing. Violet misses Herman too and she tries to bring Emma’s spirit up as much as she can. Ella takes to Roscoe yet Violet is scared of this beast being with her daughter. The soldiers try to calm her fears but Violet needs time to adjust.
 
Violet and her friends enjoy having the soldiers on the island, they feel a sense of security with them there as the war rages on elsewhere. Inviting the soldier over, the women get to know them and friendships and relationships evolve. The soldiers know their time there is brief for the battlefield is calling them. They make promises to return in one piece when their duty is over. Violet battles her own war of waiting for news about Herman and her feeling for a soldier named Parker. Ella is hiding something from everyone, a secret that is so private she leaks nothing out until the very end of the novel. As the soldiers prepare and head out, I have to wonder if their promises are real or if this island is just a stopping ground full of their false promises.
 
It was a wonderful and entertaining novel that captures another side of WWII. I liked how the author showed the tension between the individuals living on the island and the war. Where once the Japanese residents resided with their neighbors peacefully, the war is now causing conflicts among them. I enjoyed the novel’s relationships and how they progressed in the novel. I really enjoyed the authors writing. There was a relaxing feel to the novel as I read. I really enjoyed this novel and I look forward to reading other novels this author writes.

 

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review 2018-04-20 22:23
Three Sisters (Blackberry Island #2) by Susan Mallery
Three Sisters (A Blackberry Island Novel) - Susan Mallery

I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I did books one and three. The title refers to the three Queen Anne style homes that sit on a hill on the island. 

 

House on the left is home to Deanna and her family. On the outside they are a picture of polished perfection; internal strife among the family is starting to crack the façade. Deanna had a shitty childhood and deals with her insecurities via her undiagnosed OCD. Her life is spinning out of control and she honestly wants to change, but is very isolated.

 

House on the left is home to Boston and her husband. They are still grieving the sudden death of their baby and drifting apart. Boston channels her artistic ability into creating and recreating images of her baby. Her husband is mean to her on purpose or drinks a lot as his coping mechanism. Honestly Zeke could go fuck right off the planet and I would cheered. 

 

House in the middle is a run down, ready for Halloween all year round fixer upper. As the book starts, Andi is the new proud owner of said house of Halloween and is doing a total gut of the inside and clean up of the outside. She is a pediatrician and wants to open her own practice on the ground floor of her home, then live in the other two levels. She was stood up at the altar by a guy she dated for ten years, but his name is erased from her mind at the sight of her contractor's fine butt. 

 

Over time, the three women grow close (awkward moments early in the friendship made it feel more realistic and less like a sorority) and reach out to each other when the men fuck up (looks at Zeke). There is a lot of wine drinking in this story. Deanna's mental condition is treated by medication and her family dynamics are treated by a therapist. Again, something that in regular romance would have been cured by an orgasm or two is actually dealt with honestly and with grace in this book. Boston drew courage from Deanna's change and started moving forward in a healthy way as well. Both of these character's arcs were wonderful to watch unfold.

 

Then there was Andi's arc - the author made her a TSTL sex kitten a little past the half way mark and her ending was so typical of the run of the mill contemporary romance genre. In the second half of the book she just got on my last damn nerve. Still her meeting with her ex-fiancé was great to read. But the rest of her story was crap.

 

I went into reading the third book soon after finishing this book, so Andi's arc issues didn't sour the story overall and I wanted more Blackberry Island life. Appearance by Michelle from book one was fun to read.

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review 2018-04-20 21:55
Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island #1) by Susan Mallery
Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island) - Susan Mallery

I loved this book. It is definitely going on my best of list for this year. This is going to be nothing but a love fest of a review.

 

Michelle is back home in Blackberry Island (located off the coast of Seattle and in the Pugent Sound) after being wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan (the book only mentions "the desert") - she is home to rehab her hip and claim her inheritance, the Blackberry Island Inn. She is in pain, has crippling PTSD, and soon realizes that her inheritance is more a PITA than her hip. She is snarly, adjusting poorly to civilian life, and is drinking heavily to help her deal with everything.

 

Carly is the manager, jill-of-all-trades of Blackberry Island Inn. She and Michelle have a twisted history, and she is struggling to take care of her 9 year old daughter and run the inn now that the trustee of the inn is deceased - Michelle's mom Brenda. 

 

Michelle and Carly are trying to rise above their shitty childhoods and fucked up family dynamics; together, they help each other get a really good place in their lives at the end. Oh, but that journey is a minefield of past hurts, truths long buried, and one bank manager who holds onto grudges for more than a decade. There are romantic elements, mostly on Carly's end as Michelle's romantic relationship started off with the grumpiest former Army sniper trying to help her deal with her shit from three deployments.

 

What I love is that Michelle is not a SEAL, Delta Force, Ranger, SOF or anything - she was a supply troop! But the nature of war has changed; no longer is the super duper elite macho types getting killed, but anyone could be blown away by an IED or sniper fire. I loved to see women vets in romance, even better when they are given such a realistic portrayal like in this book. Also this book showcased what PTSD really looks like for women vets and no magic peen was used to "cure" Michelle. Instead she got into a vet support group, got on some medication, and stopped drinking so heavily (her drinking was a coping mechanism and not alcoholism, but she still watches what and how much she drinks). And she rehabbed a neglected/abused dog, giving her purpose - this happens in the real world and there are vet groups designed to give emotional support dogs to vets to help them recover. 

 

Seriously recommend. I was so glad I decided to request all three books from ILL so I could start book two right after finishing this book.

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text 2018-04-20 15:29
Friday Reads - April 20, 2018
The Miner's Lady - Tracie Peterson
Island Girls - Nancy Thayer
To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 - Adam Hochschild

This weekend is the big base clean up, so the son and his cub scout pack are cleaning up their school which means my butt has to wake up early on a Saturday and go pick up trash. We are having a heatwave with temps in the 70s and 80s, so I got out the pool for the kids to cool off in. So trash detail first, then lunch, then pool - all while mom sits to the side with one eye on the kids and one eye on my books.

 

First goal is to get through the last of my library borrows: The Miner's Lady by Tracie Peterson, One Wish by Robyn Carr, and Island Girls by Nancy Thayer. I am hoping to get a couple chapters of To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild in this weekend as well. 

 

Next week we will be having rain and temps in the 50s, so I am taking advantage of all the sun-induced Vitamin D production this weekend. I hope you all got some good reading ahead of you as well!

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text 2018-04-02 22:59
Getting my reading mojo back
Death on Tap - Ellie Alexander
Once Upon a Spine - Kate Carlisle
A Perfect Proposal - Katie Fforde
Witches of East End - Melissa de la Cruz
Dark Harbor - Stuart Woods
The Miner's Lady - Tracie Peterson
One Wish (Thunder Point) - Robyn Carr
Island Girls - Nancy Thayer
Family Tree: A Novel - Susan Wiggs
Night Road - Kristin Hannah

This weekend I downloaded three contemporary romances from OverDrive. Two I read in about 24 hours each; the third I DNF at the 9% mark. I think I got my reading mojo back. Today I went to volunteer at the library (something I haven't done all March because of adult taskings); after, I decided to browse the fiction side for a change. 

 

I came home with 12 books (8 adult fiction titles, 1 middle grade that will fill a PS prompt, 1 graphic novel) plus I still have four books coming to me via ILL. In my defense, I was left unsupervised in a library.

 

Here's what I brought home:

1. George by Alex Gino (the MG for PS prompt)

2. Paper Girls (Book One) by Brian K. Vaughn et al (collects the first 10 issues)

3. Death on Tap (Sloan Krause Mystery #1) by Ellie Alexander

4. Once Upon a Spine (A Bibliophile Mystery) by Kate Carlisle

5. A Perfect Proposal by Katie Ffjorde

6. Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

7. Dark Harbor (Stone Barrington Novel) by Stuart Woods

8. The Miner's Lady (Land of Shining Water #3) by Tracie Peterson

9. One Wish (A Thunder Point Novel) by Robyn Carr

10. Island Girls by Nancy Thayer

11. Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

12. Night Road by Kristin Hannah

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