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review 2017-07-25 04:12
Pieces of Happiness
Pieces of Happiness - Anne Ostby

Title: Pieces of Happiness
Author: Anne Ostby
Publisher: Doubleday
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five
Review:

"Pieces of Happiness" by Anne Ostby

My Thoughts ...

This author really give the readers quite one interesting read..."Piece of Happiness." I thought is was really one good read having these six people, five that had been friends since high school in Norway come visit and then live together [after the death of her Niklas, her husband] on a cocoa plantation in Fiji in the South Pacific with each one having there own story that was really intriguing to say the least. Oh, the sixth woman was Kat's housekeeper...Ateca who was so very understanding of each of these ladies. I loved her prayers for God to watch over everyone as the prayers seemed to 'mark the change in the chapters and even the narration from each of the women.'

I loved the invitation that was sent to each one of these ladies who were know in their sixties....

 

“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!”

 

Will they be able to 'leave their worries, mistakes and problems back in Norway?' No, they hadn't stayed in touch but know would they be willing to start all over and 'come up with plans of a new future in this beautiful cocoa plantation?' How different this would be for these ladies who had difficulties of their own to come to this beautiful place that had much to offer with many highs and well as lows but in the end the readers will give one good story that will give one reason to ponder long after the read. I loved the characters...Kat, Ingrid, Maya, Sina and Lysbeth who all had 'secrets and hopes that had been keep hidden' so will they be able to stop and redefine just what they wanted in their life now? Will they be willing to rediscover their past friendships and even themselves?
All while I was reading this novel I keep thinking what would it be like to have friends like these!

This was definitely a wonderful and enjoyable read about a enduring 'friendship and second chances just to be happy' that I would definitely recommend. In the end all that is left to say is that hopefully we can all have this in our lives. This story was very well done by this author.

 

Thanks to NetGalley for a pre-publication copy to review.

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review 2017-07-19 23:52
Are You Sleeping/Kathleen Barber
Are You Sleeping - Kathleen L. Barber

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

 

This was fine. This was solid. This was unexceptional, but enjoyable.

 

If there had been more backstory to this, it might have been more captivating. I felt like the characters were pretty bland and needed some salt. Josie especially. She's gone and changed her name, completely reinvented herself. I want to know how this went about. I want to see her changing and know if that was hard for her. But we're kind of just thrown in the middle of things. I never quite understood why she couldn't forgive or at least talk to her sister.

 

I also felt like the women were angsty all the time and completely fell into a trope of being unstable. Her boyfriend, Caleb, could have made them angsty and could have caused a lot of conflict, but he and Josie just travel places and sometimes raise their voices a little but for the most part, skate by without the realistic drama I wanted to read about.

 

However, despite my issues with characterization, this was a pretty easy read and I enjoyed it all the way through. The podcasts were a lot of fun--I understand why so many people across the nation were captivated by them and drawn in.

 

There was a lot of telling to this story and I never quite felt very actively involved, which is a shame, because the plot was interesting enough and there was a pretty big mystery that should have had me flipping pages furiously.

 

If you're looking for a solid okay, this has a cool premise. If you want extraordinary characters, go somewhere else.

 

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

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review 2017-07-07 14:47
Hello, Sunshine/Laura Dave
Hello, Sunshine: A Novel - Laura Dave

Sunshine Mackenzie truly is living the dream. A lifestyle guru for the modern age, Sunshine is beloved by millions of people who tune into her YouTube cooking show, and millions more scour her website for recipes, wisdom, and her enticing suggestions for how to curate a perfect life. She boasts a series of #1 New York Times bestselling cookbooks, a devoted architect husband, and a reputation for sincerity and kindness—Sunshine seems to have it all. But she’s hiding who she really is. And when her secret is revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. What Sunshine does in the ashes of destruction will save her in more ways than she can imagine.

In our modern world, where celebrity is a careful construct, Laura Dave’s compelling, enticing novel explores the devastating effect of the secrets we keep in public…and in private. Hello, Sunshine is a fresh, provocative look at a woman teetering between a scrupulously assembled life and the redemptive power of revealing the truth.

 

This was fine. This was solid. This was enjoyable. This wasn't addictive.

 

I felt like this was just so close to me loving it, but I never really became completely drawn in. Why? I'm not sure. This had solid writing, an interesting plot, and some well-drawn characters. But meh.

 

First of all, "spoiler" alert, the big fall from grace is simply that she didn't write her own recipes and isn't from where she said she's from. If she had been a bestselling author, I might have felt differently, but I found it hard to take the big deal seriously because they're recipes, and especially with the internet, recipes are so widely spread that anyone could have created them.

 

Our main character is immediately introduced as unlikeable and not entirely honest and I loved that about her until she proved to be quiet mediocre and kind of likeable but definitely not unlikeable. I think I got too excited about having a villainous main character that to then have her be jovial was not terribly fun. The book doesn't take her through any big changes personality-wise and she doesn't really grow or change.

 

Her new job and her family was probably the redeeming aspect of this book--she has an adorable niece and her sister has some interesting friends. The interactions amongst them were fun to watch, though their history was strange. I loved reading about her new job within the restaurant industry and her strange boss. I wanted to see more of that.

You'll probably enjoy reading this. I did. But it's not one I'll write home about.

 

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

 

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review 2017-07-07 02:03
Trinity Black: Behind Closed Doors
Trinity Black: Behind Closed Doors - Theresa Hodge
Title:  Trinity Black:  Behind Closed Doors
Author:  Theresa Hodge
Publisher:  T. H.
Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean
Rating: Five
Review:
 
"Trinity Black:  Behind Closed Doors" by Theresa Hodge
 
My Thoughts...
 
What a SAD read!  This author really knows how to mess with our feelings because this was one emotional, dramatic and  abusive read that I have ever read [and please believe me I have read many!].  Both of these characters needed help. For poor Trinity...from that horrible mom and husband and for Philip the husband...he definitely needed lots of help too.  It was nice in the way the story went about Trinity finally coming to peace with all her mother had done to her.  At least the mom was now off of the drugs and had found God.  The story wrapped up in a neat package but I was definitely not satisfied with how that husband got away with so much and it wasn't really dealt with!  It is my understand that a lots of people have been faced with this type of abuse and all that can be said and done is when they finally get feed up hopefully they will be able to get out of the situation alive.  For Trinity it seems like there maybe light through that tunnel for her that she will get a much better life. I am still left  me saying wow that was some read and please understand that this read is not for the 'faint of heart.'

 

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review 2017-07-02 22:31
Until Ray
Until Ray: Book 1 of the Until Ray Trilogy - Cheryl Robinson

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Title: Until Ray
Author: Cheryl Robinson
Publisher: Rose Colored Books
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five
Review:

"Until Ray" By Cheryl Robinson

My Thoughts....

What a very interesting read that will keep you turning the pages and leave you by the end wanting more!

When I thought about the story after reading it I found it really sad especially for Sarita. To me the writing was definitely printed on the wall for her to see but for some reason Sarita wasn't able to see it even though she was a very smart person. Sarita had been warned especially by her mother but like so many of us she thought she was following her heart. But was Ray the right man that would truly love Sarita? This author really gives the reader quite a story that you will give one many thoughts long after the read. The characters were simply off the chart...from Ray, Sarita, Solomon, Cynthia, Miss King, Vera, Paw Paw, Boone, Sharon, Faith, Joy, Graham, Tisha, Reid to Veronica to name a few were all well developed, portrayed, defined and believable definitely giving this story a realness that one could feel as if they were there in the mist of it all.

I will not say much about Ray other than ... yes, he let me down and all I can say from that is he definitely needs help! After saying that I will stop and only say pick up "Until Ray" to see how well this author present to the readers such a outstanding read that will leave you shaking your head, saying wow and wanting more! Be prepared for a long well thought out read. It will definitely be interesting how this trilogy will continue on because there are lots of questions that need to be answered and I will look forward to reading more about it. Would I recommend? YES!!
 
 
 
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