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review 2018-07-20 05:09
Falling Like Snowflakes (Summer Harbor #1) by Denise Hunter
Falling Like Snowflakes (A Summer Harbor Novel) - Denise Hunter

Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how her life came to this—on the run with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. When a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas . . . even though they have no place to lay their heads. Beau Callahan is a habitual problem solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over his family’s Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas alone. When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets. Eden has been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches, Eden’s past catches up to her. Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Eden Martinelli is on the run with her five year old mute son. Though her one persistent thought is "keep moving!", once her car breaks down she is forced to at least temporarily settle in the small town of Summer Harbor, Maine. With holiday season on the horizon, Eden gets a job at a local tree farm, the farm owned and operated by former cop Beau Callahan. When Beau's aunt, Trudy, suffers an accident that leads to a fractured leg, Eden is hired on as her home aide while Trudy recovers and works through physical therapy. 

 

As Eden settles into the Callahan home on the farm, her very presence seems to gradually knock loose some repressed feelings in multiple family members, feelings wrapped around long-running unaddressed hurts.Beau notices this influence, and though his heart begins to warm toward Eden, he's still troubled by the mysterious air she keeps around her. Why is she so evasive with any personal questions? What is she hiding? Beau low-key worries that she might be running from the law and he just hired a criminal to look after a beloved family member, but his gut tells him she's not dangerous, just scared. So who put that kind of fear into her?

 

This is a nice holiday read. It's not brimming with over the top holiday cheer, but instead offers a cozy balance of wit, small town charm, a slow-burn romantic interest, and a dash of mystery. Perfect for those who like their suspense on the more mild side of things...sort of in the thriller-lite vein of a Hallmark Mystery Movie. The bad guy scenes got a little cliche at times for my liking, but the Callahan brothers are so likeable in this series that minor eyeroll moments can easily be forgiven. 

 

For those in book clubs, discussion questions for this story are offered at the back of the book. 

 

I've been reading these out of order, which -- I thought I would mention -- works fine, as each book focuses on a different Callahan brother (of three). But looking back, there are some minor chronological aspects -- mainly with the storyline of Riley's military service -- that will flow better if you read in order. 

 

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My review for The Goodbye Bride (Summer Harbor #2)

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text 2018-06-09 17:12
Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank $1.99
Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes (A Rose Gardner Mystery) - Denise Grover Swank

For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone’s toilet’s overflowed, but she’s never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: There isn't enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get that stain out, and Rose is the prime suspect.

Rose realizes she’s wasted twenty-four years of living and makes a list on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt: twenty-eight things she wants to accomplish before her vision comes true. She’s well on her way with the help of her next door neighbor Joe, who has no trouble teaching Rose the rules of drinking, but won’t help with number fifteen-- do more with a man. Joe’s new to town, but it doesn’t take a vision for Rose to realize he’s got plenty secrets of his own. 

Somebody thinks Rose has something they want and they’ll do anything to get it. Her house is broken into, someone else she knows is murdered, and suddenly, dying a virgin in the Fenton County jail isn’t her biggest worry after all.

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review 2018-03-14 16:12
Psychological and Social Reflections on a Life Reborn
Words Never Spoken - Cheryl Denise Banne... Words Never Spoken - Cheryl Denise Bannerman

Words Never Spoken is a powerful account of ambition and hope, despair, and rejuvenation and introduces its subject with a succinct observation of the process that receives deeper inspection in chapters to follow: "I wanted what every girl wants: to fall in love and live happily ever after. But after one failed marriage and with forty quickly approaching, I had given up."

 

While many stories chronicle this same process, what sets Words Never Spoken apart from most others is its attention to rendering these experiences in verse, accompanied by black and white line drawings that, together, capture the process of wading through the lies and obstacles to togetherness and a happy life.

 

Readers should anticipate a gritty, determined, street-wise voice to these poems which reflect candid observation and move from inner soul-searching to outward life depictions with a deft hand that pulls no punches in the process: "Why can’t you be who you say you are?/Live close to me and not so far./Not have 10 kids and baby drama./Have a job and not live wit yo mama."

 

Sometimes the most powerful experiences come not just from the heart, but from the power of the pen and a writer's ability to capture the moments that hold life-changing impact. As readers wind through the verses in Words Never Spoken, they receive emotional tugs that come from soul-searching moments as potent as a brush with suicide and the one thing that prevents final disaster from taking shape.

 

It should be cautioned, if it isn't already apparent by now, that this is no light read; no cursory brush with a life in flux; but an often-troubling, wrenching discourse into the depths of despair and how the character rebuilds her life from that depth, including her relationship with her child and God.

 

Exactly how one moves from a failed marriage, a miscarriage, and crushing depression to overcoming all with a little help from God makes for an engrossing, vivid shout from the pages of Words Never Spoken, highly recommended for readers who want psychological, spiritual, and social reflections wound into the struggle of a life not only saved, but reborn.

 

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review 2018-01-21 00:00
A Christmas Kerril
A Christmas Kerril - Denise Jaden Short sweet and well constructed - not too super sweet though. I enjoyed the simplicity of this story of a youth coming to terms with her past, her present and her future. It was not a cheesy story that was overly simplistic with buckets of Christmas-ness but more a reflection on the dramas of a teenager trying to come to terms with not loving her life or Christmas. The characters were a little brief in their descriptions but it was a short read that was easy going so it was fine. I liked that she had dramas but nothing too gritty. I liked the parallels with A Christmas Carol - it wasn't too heavy handed and it was a lovely read over the Christmas season.
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review 2018-01-21 00:00
A Christmas Kerril
A Christmas Kerril - Denise Jaden Short sweet and well constructed - not too super sweet though. I enjoyed the simplicity of this story of a youth coming to terms with her past, her present and her future. It was not a cheesy story that was overly simplistic with buckets of Christmas-ness but more a reflection on the dramas of a teenager trying to come to terms with not loving her life or Christmas. The characters were a little brief in their descriptions but it was a short read that was easy going so it was fine. I liked that she had dramas but nothing too gritty. I liked the parallels with A Christmas Carol - it wasn't too heavy handed and it was a lovely read over the Christmas season.
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