I’ll Be Seeing You (by Elizabeth Berg) … touching memoir

This was a very touching memoir of the author’s parents and their declining years.  I am so glad she shared this story with readers.  It is important to see how she and her sister handled their parents and their situation when they got to the point where they could no longer live in their home.  You learned some background of her early years as the daughter of a father who was career military.  The relationship her parents have is front and center and a huge part of the issues they were experiencing.

The author and her sister lose their patience but are determined to help their parents as much as possible.  It was emotional to travel with the author as she and her sister navigated the ability to find appropriate care for her parents…especially her father and his mental dementia.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Once We Were Here (by Christopher Cosmos) … a wonderful twist at the end that has you gasping out loud

This book starts with a yearly summer holiday with Andrew and his family while they visit with his grandparents (Papou and Yia Yia).    But you’re just starting to turn the pages when you find yourself going back in time and learning about best friends, Alexei and Costa, and life in Greece.  I learned so much about the time period when Mussolini declares war on Greece.  These two young men were so willing to serve their country and support each other through time of war.

I had many tearful moments as I read through the story.  I loved the twist at the end which had me gasping out loud.  And I love when a book does that for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Arcade Publishers for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Mistletoe and Wedding Bells ~ Hope Springs #3 (by Ashley Farley) … food, fellowship, and community during the holidays

This is the third book in the Hope Springs series.  I enjoyed this book and how the relationships developed and matured throughout the pages.  Stella has done an amazing job, along with her new employees, in planning such wonderful Christmas festivities that appeal to a variety of people…from kids to adults.

And, as has been true through this series, there are conflicts among a variety of characters.  I did feel like one situation was resolved a little too quickly.  But for the most part, the story was good and had me looking forward to the holiday season.  I would love to find a place like Hope Springs to visit and enjoy the food, fellowship, and community.

Thank you to the author and Leisure Time Books for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish (by Tori Whitaker) … a travel through a painful past toward forgiveness

I am so impressed with Tori Whitaker’s debut novel.  A wonderful story of three generations of women…Millicent; her daughter, Jane; and Kelsey, her granddaughter.  Told via a dual timeline, this tale takes you through life as a wife in the 1950’s.  However, Millicent is not your typical housewife.  She is such a strong person who has goals and career aspirations.  While she is excited to become a mother, she wants much more for her life.

The secrets that are threaded throughout the pages will attempt to destroy some of the relationships.  However, through the willingness to share the truth of things in the past and the ability to forgive, the lives of these three women is healed.

While there are some misunderstandings, it is Millie’s background story that has your heart aching for her and how it has affected the mother-daughter relationship.  As we travel with Millicent through her past, you will feel anger at many situations, hope that she will be able to overcome so many painful experiences, and encouraged by her ability to accept love and support from her family members.

I really enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to future publications by the author. Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

A Dog’s Perfect Christmas (by W. Bruce Cameron) … joy of life through the eyes of a dog

I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this book when I first began reading.  However, it didn’t take long before I was chuckling out loud and was invested in the lives of the characters.  There is a lot going on as you read through the pages…a family is in crisis.  A daughter with the typical teenager attitude.  A grandfather with no enthusiasm for life.  A mother with an identity crisis.  A father struggling to provide for his family and succeed in his job.  An old dog that misses life the way it used to be with his mom and dad.  And young twin boys who are all out and such a hoot!

Then you factor in a health crisis, a stray puppy, and a love life competition for the grandfather at the playground among three women.  Life begins to change and the family members realize how much they love and appreciate each other.  It is painful to experience Ello’s difficulties with popularity and how she does not value herself.  How much a person can make a difference in one person’s life.  Are you willing to be that person?  I hope I would be able to be the positive influence that the “new boy” was.

I love the viewpoints of the Winstead, grandfather’s faithful dog, and Ruby, the stray puppy.  Your heart will ache one moment and soar the next.  The joy of life through a dog’s eye is uplifting! Thank you to NetGalley and Forge Books for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

In a Holidaze (by Christina Lauren) … Groundhog Day reinvented in a heartwarming story

I am not a romance book fan.  However, In a Holidaze was more than just a romance book.  It was a Groundhog Day rewind.  I loved how Maelyn ends up having to figure out how to become the person she is meant to be.  This is a story of self-discovery and growth.  There are wonderful relationships and it was enjoyable getting to follow Maelyn as her relationship with Andrew begins to change and develop beyond the family friend one they’ve known all their lives.  And I loved Uncle Benny!  We all need an Uncle Benny in our lives!

The Christmas traditions were wonderful and made me wish that my family had developed those over the years.  This is a heartwarming story and full of love, laughter, and wonderful characters.  If you are looking for a light holiday read, this is a must read!

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

A Christmas Table (by Donna Vanliere) … warm cozy story of love, family, faith, hope and recipes

I have only read a few of the books in this series.  I don’t think it made a difference, though I am glad that I read the previous book (The Christmas Star).  This was a wonderful sequel and I believe that it made The Christmas Table a pleasure to read because of the information I learned in The Christmas Star.

This was such a warm and cozy book filled with love, family, faith, hope, and recipes.  Ahhh!  So delicious recipes!  The dual timeline flowed smoothly and pulls you into the story and has you invested in the lives of the characters.  The simple kitchen table will bring together family and friends and enrich their lives in many ways.  Such wonderful blessings are shared throughout the pages.  Your heart will be warmed and your spirit lifted as you experience the love between themen and women who become part of the story.

I am definitely going back and reading the earlier books in the series and will continue to follow them as the author hopefully continues the Christmas Hope series.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

A Death Long Overdue ~ Lighthouse Library #5 (by Eva Gates) … wonderful mystery with books in a lighthouse!

I love the lighthouse library series.  I am familiar with the lighthouse where this series takes place and know that there is no room for a library.  But I would LOVE to be able to work in a library located in a lighthouse.  The characters are wonderful…so well developed and you have strong feelings about many of them throughout the series.  And this seventh book in the series brings in more characters which will evoke a reaction to their personalities.

I love mysteries, but when you factor in the location in a library, I am a huge fan.  The plot is well developed and has you guessing until the end.  There are great twists and a delightful surprise at the end that has you anxiously waiting for the next lighthouse library book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.  The next book will definitely be on my to-read list!

The Menu (by Steven Manchester) … heartwrenching and touching story of relationships and the intertwining of lives

Before you open this book and lose yourself in the touching story, make sure you grab at least one box of tissues.

While partly a romance, it’s more an adventure of living life, making choices, faith, and redemption.  There are so many lessons shared throughout the pages.  What choices do we make from the menu of life?  And what price must we pay for those choices?

The relationships will touch you deeply.  The lives are intertwined and their stories will move you emotionally and, at times, in heartwrenching sobs.  We are reminded that we are never alone.  God is always there.

Thank you to the author and Luna Bella Press for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

The Skylark’s Secret (by Fiona Valpy) … heartwarming WWII historical fiction

I love historical fiction books based on WWII.  And the fact that this is a dual timeline book, it was automatically going to be a favorite read.  This was a different take on WWII because it was based in Scotland.  And while you were exposed to negative aspects of the war, you don’t endure the atrocities experienced in the concentration camps.

What a lovely story of redemption of a mother and daughter.  They each share their story and you travel through their lives and how they experience growth, maturity, and self-discovery.  And what a wonderful sense of community and caring and support by those who lived in the village.  The folk songs, traditions, delicious food, secrets, and sacrifices shared made this such a delight to read.  I highly recommend you put this on your to-read list.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.