Thursday 25 October 2018

Review: Lights on the Sea by Miquel Reina

In this riveting debut, prize-winning artist and filmmaker Miquel Reina maps out ambitious and fantastical new territory in a novel about a couple holding on for dear life as their world takes an extraordinary fall…

On the highest point of an island, in a house clinging to the edge of a cliff, live Mary Rose and Harold Grapes, a retired couple still mourning the death of their son thirty-five years before. Weighed down by decades of grief and memories, the Grapeses have never moved past the tragedy. Then, on the eve of eviction from the most beautiful and dangerously unstable perch in the area, they’re uprooted by a violent storm. The disbelieving Grapeses and their home take a free-fall slide into the whitecapped sea and float away.

As the past that once moored them recedes and disappears, Mary Rose and Harold are delivered from decades of sorrow by the ebb and flow of the waves. Ahead of them, a light shimmers on the horizon, guiding them toward a revelatory and cathartic new engagement with life, and all its wonder.

Wildly imaginative, deeply poignant, and entirely unexpected, Lights on the Sea sweeps readers away on a journey of fate, acceptance, redemption, and survival against the most rewarding of odds.

Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by AmazonCrossing
Genre: Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received a copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

I have been left slightly speechless by this book. It surprised me in so many ways that I don't know how to put it into words.

You absolutely need to have an imagination to enjoy Lights on the Sea. There was an almost fairy tale/ fantasy feel to it that was best enjoyed with an open mind and a hunger for creative liberties. This is something I struggle with but not this time.

Lights on the Sea was the story of Mary Rose and Harold Grapes and the home they built from their sorrow and crushed dreams. On the eve of the day they were being forced to leave their home because of safety reasons, a storm blew in and swept the house off the cliff and into the sea. Surprisingly, the Grapes family and the house survived the plummet into the ocean and an adventure unlike anything they had ever imagined began to unfold.

It was a truly captivating story that had so many messages of hope, survival and how to overcome grief and sorrow. I could not tear myself away from it. Anyone struggling with forgiveness and letting go would benefit from reading this story. Through all of the adventures that these two characters encountered, I was with them. I adored Mary Rose and Harold and I felt like I was right beside them the entire voyage.

It was truly an enjoyable read from beginning to end!

About the Author

Barcelona-born Miquel Reina defines himself as a dreamer and a fighter; from a young age, he was drawn to the creative life, studying design and cinema before building his reputation as a filmmaker and graphic artist. His work in advertising won him several awards, including the prestigious Bronze Sun at Spain’s Festival de San Sebasti├ín in 2011, and in 2014, his music video “Dead in the Water” was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. Reina has lived in Vancouver, Canada, since 2016, working for a video production studio and dedicating his free time to his most gratifying passion: writing. Lights On The Sea is his first novel.

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Tuesday 23 October 2018

Review: Stuck In Manistique by Dennis Cuesta

Near the midpoint of the Upper Peninsula, along a Lake Michigan bend of shore, is the town of Manistique, Michigan. Mark had never heard of Manistique before the death of his estranged aunt, but as sole beneficiary of Vivian’s estate, he travels there to settle her affairs. As Mark tours his aunt’s house for the first time, the doorbell rings.

Days after graduating medical school, Dr. Emily Davis drives north, struggling with her illicit rendezvous on Mackinac Island. She never makes it—on the highway near Manistique, her car collides with a deer, shattering the car’s windshield. Stranded for the night, Emily is directed to a nearby bed and breakfast.

Maybe it’s a heady reaction, the revelation that his aunt, an international aid doctor, ran a bed and breakfast in retirement. Or perhaps he plainly feels pity for the young, helpless doctor. Regardless, Mark decides to play host for one night, telling Emily that he’s merely stepping in temporarily while his aunt is away.

As a one-night stay turns into another and more guests arrive, the ersatz innkeeper steadily loses control of his story. And though Emily opens up to Mark, she has trouble explaining the middle-aged man who unexpectedly arrives at the doorstep looking for her.

Will these two strangers, holding on to unraveling secrets, remain in town long enough to discover the connection between them?

Expected publication: October 29th 2018 by Celestial Eyes Press  
Genre: Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

I think I might be in the minority with my opinion of this book based on other early reviews I've glanced at. The synopsis sounded so good and like a story that I would really enjoy. I really did want to enjoy it.


It all fell a little flat to me. The plot, the setting and the characters. I really struggled to connect to any one part of it but I couldn't. It was all very average and sometimes very dull. The time I spend trying to get through this book was way more than I spend on most books. It just never seemed to grab my interest long enough for me to want to keep picking it up. Mark was hard to connect to. He seemed somewhat bitter and angry for no apparent or logical reason. He wasn't likeable at all which made it hard for me to care much about his outcome in the story.

I really feel like this story needed more development with the characters and the setting. I never quite got the feel for Manistique or any of the people that found themselves there. It just wasn't for me.

About the Author

Dennis Cuesta is the author of STUCK IN MANISTIQUE, his debut novel. The book is scheduled to be released on October 29, 2018.

A native of California, Dennis attended the University of Michigan and remained in the Upper Midwest during his early career.

He and his wife did get stuck in Manistique once, long ago. The interrupted trip served as inspiration for the novel. Dennis now lives in San Jose, California with his wife and son.

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Tuesday 16 October 2018

Review: The Memory of You by Jamie Beck

Stefanie Lockwood can repair anything, except her heart—that’s still recovering.
After a brutal assault leaves Steffi with puzzling memory lapses, she returns to her coastal Connecticut hometown to rebuild her life the best way she knows how: with her hands. But starting a remodeling business with one longtime friend puts her in the middle of a rift with another. Worse, being hired by her ex-boyfriend’s mother forces her to confront old regrets.
Public defender Ryan Quinn wasn’t shocked when his wife left him, but he was floored when she abandoned their daughter. With his finances up in the air, the newly single dad returns to his childhood home in Sanctuary Sound. The last person he expects, or wants, to see working on his family house is Steffi Lockwood—his first love who shattered his heart.
Although Steffi and Ryan are different people now, dormant feelings rekindle. But when Ryan’s concern for Steffi’s mental health prompts him to dig into her past for answers, will what he learns bring them together or tear them apart for good?

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: October 30th 2018 by Montlake Romance
Series: Sanctuary Sound #1
Genre: Contemporary
Kristine's Thoughts:
** I received an advanced readers copy from Montlake Romance via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

The Memory of You is the first book in the Sanctuary Sound series by Jamie Beck. It appears that the series will follow three lifelong friends. This first book was Steffi's story.

Steffi and Ryan were high school sweethearts but when Steffi went away to college she longed for more and "ghosted" Ryan to break up with him. Ten years later she found herself back in Sanctuary Sound, after a traumatic mugging, with a new business and doing a home renovation in his parents home. Ryan also found himself back in his parent's home with his 9 yr old daughter after his marriage to the woman he got pregnant while rebounding from Steffi ended.

What I liked...

I am always a sucker for a second chance romance so I liked the possibility of a rekindled relationship between Steffi and Ryan. The fact that Ryan had a daughter who was struggling with the break up of her family added a level of complexity to the relationship that made it all the more interesting. I adored the interactions between Steffi and Ryan's daughter. It was my favourite part of the book.

What I didn't like...

Although I appreciated the attempt to dive into a serious topic with what happened to Steffi, I felt that there were far too many other things going on in the story that took away from its impact. There were hints throughout the story as to what really happened to her (leaving the reader fully aware) but the heart of the issue really didn't take the forefront until the last bit of the book. It was such a serious event but I felt like there were way too many other issues and stories within the book that it didn't get the number of pages that it deserved. With a second chance romance, a divorce, a struggling 9 year old, a serious crime and an introduction to what I can only assume will be the characters from future instalments, it was far too busy and had way too much going on. Any one of the plots would have been enough for one book but all of them together was a bit much.

Final thoughts...

Although I found the plot busy I still enjoyed getting to know the characters from Sanctuary Sound and I feel like I need to know what happens to the rest of them. I have to admit that I wasn't really a fan of Claire in The Memory of You so I do feel like Beck has her work cut out for her in redeeming her which I have no doubt that she will. It is something I look forward to when I read Claire's story.

About the Author
National bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than one million copies. She is a Booksellers’ Best Award and National Readers' Choice Award finalist, and critics at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly (including a starred review), and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

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Tuesday 2 October 2018

Review: The Wife's Secret by Kerry Wilkinson

A gripping psychological thriller with a heart-stopping twist

Charley Willis was thirteen years old when her parents were killed in their family home and she was found hiding in a cupboard upstairs.

Fifteen years later, Charley is marrying Seth Chambers. It should be the happiest day of their lives, a chance for Charley to put her past behind her, but just hours after the ceremony, she is missing.

No one saw her leave. No one knows where she is.

One thing is for certain…Seth is about to discover he doesn’t really know the woman he just married. And his nightmare is only just beginning. 

Kindle Edition, 338 pages
Expected publication: October 10th 2018 by Bookouture
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Mystery
Kristine's Thoughts:
** I received an advanced readers copy from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

After reading a slew of sub par psychological thrillers recently The Wife's Secret was a pleasant, welcomed and refreshing change. Finally one that I enjoyed. In fact, one that I really enjoyed.

Seth's new wife Charley disappeared after their wedding. Not a few days later but right after the vows at the reception. There were no clues as to what happened to her. Did she get cold feet and leave or did something terrible happen to her? Was it the "Willis Curse" that the public believed her family was plagued with?

The Wife's Secret was told in the present from Seth's point of view and the past from Charley's. As the mystery unfolded and Charley's history was revealed, the pieces started to fall into place. I was hooked and was desperate to know what happened and how it would all play out. Not only was I interested in what happened to Charley but I also wanted to know what happened to her parents all those years ago when she was only thirteen. I figured that they had to be connected somehow but I couldn't quite figure it out. Yes, some of it was pretty easy to guess but I was caught off guard with other parts. I was quite pleased about that.  It is always a good story when it isn't completely predictable.

This book was quite easy to read and even easier to get lost in. I found myself doing the "just one more chapter" thing in my head on numerous occasions. Needless to say because of that I finished it very quickly. This was the second book by Kerry Wilkinson for me and the second one that I've thoroughly enjoyed. There is a simplicity to his writing that makes the story flow and he has a way of weaving a story that leaves you completely captivated. I can't wait to read some of his other titles.


About the Author
Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 bestsellers in the UK, Canada, South Africa and Singapore, as well as top-five books in Australia. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy - a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults - a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like 'barm' and 'ginnel'.

When he's short of ideas, he rides his bike or bakes cakes. When he's not, he writes it all down.

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