Saturday, January 13, 2018

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

I couldn’t wait to read this one. Katie Ganshert is a brilliant storyteller. Her characters stay with me long after I finish her books.

No One Ever Asked tells the stories of Camille, Anaya, and Jen, and deals with prejudices as well as other societal issues. I love how Miss Ganshert weaves her way through an undercurrent of biases and reveals an emotional and memorable story.

I received a complimentary copy from Blogging For Books.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Bargaining with the Boss by Jennifer Shirk

The man cocked his head, his blue eyes dancing. “I hate to disappoint you, but I’m not Chris Hemsworth.” ~ Bargaining with the Boss
This book had me hooked from the first paragraph. The story opens with Kinsley, a quirky woman, dressed in a puffy pink bridesmaid dress. Her best friend nudges her to make the way across the reception hall to introduce herself to a Chris Hemsworth look-alike. Kinsley, determined to step out of her “boring and predictable” persona, finally musters up the courage. Kinsley is far from boring, but her ex-fiancĂ© really slammed on the brakes of her self-esteem eight months prior.

So…back to the reception. Hemsworth dude is named Damon. Their initial conversation is giggle-worthy. (As above quote implies.) They end up sharing several shots of tequila. Their banter is witty. (Plethora of giggles from this reader.)  The morning after, Kinsley awakes in Damon’s hotel room, dress and memory askew. She slams into full-blown panic mode. (She even shoves her fist in her mouth to keep from screaming. I loved this visual!)

 A call from her brother Wade has her hiding in Damon’s bathroom begging Wade to push an important meeting up an hour so she can … well, at least change out of a disheveled bridesmaid dress. The dreaded meeting is with the new owner of the family business—the hotel that has been her birthright until now.  Hungover, confused and dismayed, she had to collect her wits and sit across the table with the damn owner. Great. Could things get worse?
In a word, YES. 
Before she can attempt a sneaky getaway, Damon’s phone dings moments after she ends the call with her brother.
She peeks at the text on Damon’s phone—a request to push up the meeting up an hour.

Kinsley just woke up in her new boss’s bed.

What a great hook. I adore how Kinsley meets this and many more obstacles head on. She may waver at times, but she does not back down once. She tries everything possible to better the run-down hotel, and in the process, redeems her self-doubt.

Damon, on the other hand, does not have the confidence to follow through, and at times seems downright broken inside. His long-held guilt over his brother’s death is heartbreaking. His mind deems Kinsley remain on a professional basis, but his heart slowly realizes how he needs so much more from her.

Kinsley, an open soul with her heart on the proverbial sleeve, does her best to uphold the friendship agreement, which was hard when he keeps kissing her…and she keeps kissing him back.

While Kinsley was diligent in the quest to improve both herself and the hotel, Damon is stuck in the past. And right when Kinsley’s hopes are within reach—Damon basically disappears. Yeah, he had other business to tend to, but the way he distanced himself personally was disheartening to say the least. I wanted to hate him, but like Kinsley, I couldn’t.

This left me asking several questions. Why, when Kinsley finally trusts him, does he let her down? What the hell is Damon thinking? Will Damon allow the hotel to go to the highest bidder? How will Kinsley survive losing everything, including him? Does she even have him? Is it all a game to pull the hotel out from under her?

This book is full of twists, turns and, tribulations. It’s also filled with giggles, grit and growth. The author, Jennifer Shirk, does a wonderful job of storytelling. I don’t want to divulge any more about this book, because I want readers to enjoy the surprise ending yourself. But let me assure everyone, Bargaining with the Boss is well worth the read.

 Book provided by publisher

Friday, December 1, 2017

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

As a granddaughter of a Cuban exile, this story brought back the stories my mother used to tell about her life in Cuba. She grew up in a privileged family, just like one of the main characters, Elisa Perez. My mother visited Cuba often with my brother and I in tow. Sadly, the revolution brought the visits to a halt. This book deals with those tumultuous times.

 Next Year in Havana, tells a story about Marisol and her Grandmother, Elisa. It delves into how families were split up, many never heard from again. Some fled to the United States when Castro came to power, and some either could not bear to leave their homeland, or were prevented from leaving. This book tells about those times, and how many things remain the same even today. Marisol, soon learns the spirit of those within the beautiful homeland never faltered.

Marisol was raised in the United States, but always relished the stories her grandmother, Elisa told her about Cuba. Broken-hearted after her grandmother’s death, Marisol travels to Cuba to fulfill Elisa’s final wish—to spread her ashes somewhere in her homeland.

Once there, Marisol meets obstacles, both of the heart, and politically. She acquires a box filled with mementos. Among them are letters from a revolutionary—a man her grandmother loved. This sparks a profound need to find out more. In doing so, lives are changed.
The peek into Cuba’s political and everyday life, culture, scenic beauty, and the dual love story, left me breathless. The descriptions drew me into the story so well, I could feel the sea breeze, smell the salt in the air, and hear the laughter in the street. In addition, my heart raced with the kidnapping of individuals. I will not forget this book. Ever.

The writing is impeccable. There is much more to this book than what I’ve included here. It is so hard to do it justice with a few paragraphs. Dive into this story. I guarantee you will enjoy the love, loss, secrets, redemption, mystery, healing and so much more.

I received a copy of this book from Net Galley