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PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: Fly Away

fly awayFrom Goodreads:
Once, a long time ago, I walked down a night-darkened road called Firefly Lane, all alone, on the worst night of my life, and I found a kindred spirit. That was our beginning. More than thirty years ago. TullyandKate. You and me against the world. Best friends forever. But stories end, don’t they? You lose the people you love and you have to find a way to go on. . . .

Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate–to be there for Kate’s children–but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people.

Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her . . . until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.

Dorothy Hart–the woman who once called herself Cloud–is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs.

A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need one another–and maybe a miracle–to transform their lives.

An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness.

My Thoughts:
First off, if you haven’t read Firefly Lane, you need to. That was the first book I read by Kristin Hannah and absolutely fell in love. You can imagine my delight when I was given the opportunity to review this book, in conjunction with it’s release in paperback. This is the follow up book to that one. Therefore, there’s not a lot you can say in a review about this book regarding the content and storyline without giving away some details from the first book.

However, I will tell you that if you read this book, or any Kristin Hannah book for that matter, you need to have the tissues ready. In this one, I cried, sobbed maybe would be a better word, for the last 60 pages of the book. At one point, my husband texted me from another room in the apartment and asked if I was starting to get sick because I was blowing my nose so much. My response: Nope, just reading a book. :) Kristin Hannah knocks it out of the park every. single. time.

And Fly Away was a grand slam. She followed up with the characters we immediately fell in love with in Firefly Lane and gave them some time to grieve after heartbreak and loss. Then she picked up the pieces and their stories. This book is told through several different points of view, from Tully to Cloud to Marah. And it is told from the past and present. Hannah was very creative in writing these scenes to jump in time. She started them out in the present, then would sort of daydream them back in time. It worked very well! One of the stories that I liked the most was Cloud’s story. In the first book, we just got bits and pieces of her, and honestly, it was nothing to write home about. She was a crappy mother and one of the characters you just hope to not hear from anymore because you grow to dislike them so much. But in this book, she told her story. It took 40 years for her to get the courage, but once she started, you couldn’t get enough. That hatred starts to melt away and you can’t help but feel the pain that she felt nearly her entire life. While no one is ever expected to divulge what made them the way they are, it definitely gives you perspective and respect. I recently saw a post on Instagram about not judging people because you have no idea what is going on behind closed doors. That is absolutely true!

In Fly Away, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Your heart will break, and then it will be mended, just to break again. Hannah is a master at writing emotion. From love and hate, to fear and remorse. She can do it all. What an inspiration for writers. I’ve never read another author that makes me feel so much just by reading.

If you haven’t read the story of KateandTully, I highly, highly recommend it. It’s a friendship to last a lifetime and beyond and a story that will stick with you through the ages. I give Fly Away 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

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Released: April 2013
Author Website

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By

never laugh as a hearse goes byFrom Goodreads:
Spa owner and habitual amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan finds herself at a clerical conference at Gladstone’s Library in North Wales. Also attending as a guest speaker is her boyfriend, DCI Gareth Davies, there to give a talk on theft prevention. But behind the ornate red sandstone façade of this most respectable of Victorian buildings, Penny encounters deception, marital and financial infidelity, a sham marriage scam, blackmail for beginners, and someone bent on murder.

When the bishop’s secretary dies of a suspicious case of food poisoning, Davies leads the investigation. At Penny’s suggestion, Florence Semble, a friend from Penny’s adopted hometown, is invited to the Library to decode the secretary’s shorthand notebook in the search for clues. As the conference continues, another body is found in the beautiful library itself, and Penny must once again search for a killer.

My Thoughts:
I’m a sucker for a good murder mystery. And love an international story and learning about new areas. This is the 5th book in the Penny Brannigan series. It’s a Welsh series. I listened to this one on audio book and the narrator had an accent. At first, I was so enchanted by the accent, I had a hard time paying attention to what was going on in the book. I’m easily distracted. And as I always struggle with at the beginning of audio books: a quick onslaught of characters. You have several names thrown at you and it’s hard to keep track of them when you are only hearing them and not seeing them.

I love the setting of this book as well as the murder mystery. It took me a while to figure out the “whodunit”. I’m always up for a good challenge.

I liked the characters in the book, but would have liked to see more of their relationships. I’ve read a few other reviews on this book and it appears that in the previous four books, a lot of those relationships are established… which is sometimes a downfall to picking up a book that is well into a series. Does anyone else wish that on the book’s cover somewhere it would clearly state this was a certain number in the series? Not just this book, any book in a series. I always find great audio books at the library, then realize I’ve missed several already.

I give Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

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Released: October 2013
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PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: All For a Story

ALL FOR A STORYFrom Goodreads:
Monica Brisbane loves being a modern girl in the Roaring Twenties. Her job writing a gossip column allows her access to all the local speakeasys in Washington, D.C., where she can dance the night away–and find fodder for her next article. But when the owner of the “Capitol Chatter” newspaper passes away, Monica wonders what will happen to her job, and the lifestyle she loves.Max Moore may hold the title of editor-in-chief for evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson’s paper, “The Bridal Call,” but Aimee calls all the shots. So when Max learns that his uncle has passed away, leaving him all his earthly possessions, Max resigns and heads to D.C. Determined to take over the “Capitol Chatter,” infuse it with his values, and turn it into a respectable paper, Max is soon bumping up against the equally determined Monica Brisbane.Under Max’s direction, Monica embarks on her most challenging assignment yet: infiltrating and reporting on the Anti-Flirt Society. Though reluctant at first, as Monica meets and mingles with the young women of the club, she begins to question the innocence of her flirtatious lifestyle. And when romance begins to blossom between Max and Monica, she must choose where her loyalties lie: with the young women of the society or the alluring pull of the speakeasy and its inhabitants.

My Thoughts:
This is going to be more of a mini review. Although it hasn’t been long since I read the book, it really didn’t stick out enough for me to remember the details. I hate when that happens. I was instantly drawn to the book because of the journalism angle.

One thing I liked about Pittman’s writing in this book is that it was still modern. There are many historical fiction books that I have read that I have a hard time getting through because the language isn’t necessarily the same as today. I know that it may be more historically accurate, but I never do well with them. Pittman did a great job of making me feel like I was back in the Roaring 20s with her writing.

I did enjoy Monica’s character… mostly. I liked how independent she was and she was very strong and outspoken. However, we weren’t morally on the same page. I did love her column in the paper though. Scandalous little thing that Monica Brisbane is.

However, with my likes, the story itself just fell short for me. There were parts, including threats from gangsters and Monica growing up a little throughout the book, but it just wasn’t my cup of illegal liquor.

I give All for a Story 3 out of 5 bookmarks. It is getting a lot of love on Goodreads though. Make sure to click the link below to read some more reviews.

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Released: October 2013
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PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: Last Chance Knit and Stitch

last chance knit and stitchFrom Goodreads:
Molly Canaday wishes she could repair her life as easily as she fixes cars. She was all set to open her own body shop in Last Chance when her mother ran off and left her to manage the family yarn shop instead. Now guided by the unsolicited-though well-intended-advice of the weekly knitting club, Molly works to untangle this mess. But her plan unravels when the new landlord turns out to be difficult-as well as tall, dark, and handsome.

Simon Wolfe returns to quickly settle his father’s estate and then leave Last Chance for good. Still wounded by a broken heart, Simon is surprised when the town’s charming streets and gentle spirit bring back good memories. Soon the beautiful, strong-willed Molly sparks a powerful attraction that tempts him to break his iron-clad no-commitment rule. Can Simon and Molly find a way to share work space-and build a future together in Last Chance?

My Thoughts:
I absolutely love Last Chance. I grew up in a small town, and now live in a small town right next to my hometown. I am a small town girl, so Last Chance always sound amazing to me.

I’ve read a few Last Chance books before this one. Last Chance Knit and Stitch is #6 in the series, but the 8th book (there are a couple of .5 books). I’ve also read Last Chance Beauty Queen and Last Chance Bride.  Both were fun books, just like this one.

Let’s also get excited about the fact that there is knitting in this book! Yes, I’m a knitter, and yes, I’ve been the butt of many granny jokes because of it. But Last Chance and knitting together? Of course I’m going to read it!

With each book in the series, you get a young man and woman in town that, through the odds, pair up. It’s never easy, the odds are always against them, or they are against themselves, but there is always “the sight” of a batty old lady that will win in the end!

I read back through my other reviews from this series to refresh myself on how I felt about the books. I wrote that they were fun, but I don’t quite remember them being as fun as this one. Molly is up to her eyeballs in car repairs and restoring a car of her own when she is left in charge of the knitting store. How polar opposite is that? Now she has to try to keep up with both and keep house. And keeping up with both is quite hilarious at times. She is definitely left in a pickle and I laughed out loud as some of the scenes played out.

I liked Molly, but I was a little confused by her. I just couldn’t get a grasp. She’s in her late 20s, she’s a mechanic, she has a male friend who is not her boyfriend and really isn’t looking. She seems like she is strong and doesn’t seem needy in the slightest. But then, she lives at home with her parents and brother and doesn’t quite seem to have that confidence at home that she does while under the hood. I figured her for a woman who lived alone and had for quite sometime. I was very surprised to find the different dynamic at work and home, but I understand that it happens. Everyone at my work finds it hard to believe when I tell them I don’t wear the pants in my house. I am quite vocal at work, and may even be considered bossy (although I’m not offended by the word).

I’m also always interested in these small town books how you will likely always run across a character that has gone away to greener (and normally larger) pastures, then is forced to come home with intentions of only staying enough minutes to complete their task and head home. It never works that like. Ever. But it’s a character a lot of these small town books seem to always have. I’ve been working on a small town book and have a couple of these characters myself. You just can’t help it sometimes :)

I give Last Chance Knit and Stitch 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

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Released: November 2013
Author Website

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: Lost Lake

lost lakeFrom Goodreads:
Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it’s the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn’t believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake’s owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake’s magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found.

My Thoughts:
Oh Lost Lake, where do I start with you? You are the place in my dreams. A little cabin on the lake, a summer of memories at any age. You are the small, quaint vacation spot I always imagine when I think of the perfect getaway. I like to travel and spend time on the beach and sight-see. But more often than not, the places that always appeal to me the most are the eccentric B&Bs and small cottages. I always think of all of the reading and writing I could get done at a place like this.

But this book is much deeper than a summer vacation to get away life. Every single character in this book is longing for something. For Kate and even Devin, it’s getting past the death of Kate’s husband. For Eby, it’s the decision to stay or go. You have longtime guests Bulahdeen and Selma, the mute French chef Lisette, and the boy from Kate’s memorable summer at Lost Lake. There is an extremely ecclectic mix of characters in this book, but they all put together such an amazing puzzle. I absolutely love Devin. She is a young girl wise beyond her years. And I really liked Lisette. The ones who don’t speak sometimes leave you with the most.

While this book is magical, it is also very sad at parts, but also very hopeful. I always have so much respect for an author who can reach so many emotions at once and make you think so deeply about the hand we are dealt in life and what we make of it.

I give Lost Lake 4 out of 5 bookmarks and highly suggest it to anyone who enjoys women’s fiction. I also think that I will look for more of Allen’s books next time I am struggling with finding something to read. In most reviews I read for Lost Lake, readers have mentioned her other works and how much they were enjoyed.

I read this book as the March selection on SheReads.org. Head over to the website to see what other reviewers are saying about Lost Lake. You can also get a sneak peek into Allen’s writing space and a yummy recipe to go along with the book.

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Released: January 2014
Author Website

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