Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The Murphy women are back! 

The Southern Side of Paradise is the third book in the Peachtree Bluff Novel series about the audacious and lovable Murphy women. Each book in the series plunges the reader into a new sister's life while still bringing focus to their powerhouse of a mother, Ansley Murphy. And of course, it still brings about its beautiful Southern charm. You can practically taste the sweet tea and feel the warm air.


With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.

When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.

With Kristy Woodson Harvey’s signature charm, wit, and heart, The Southern Side of Paradise is another masterful Peachtree Bluff novel that proves she is a “Southern writer with staying power.”






My review:

Emerson is a robust character. She knows what she wants and she goes for it, but there is a softness to her. Her childhood love matters and the last thing she wants to do is hurt him. I think that at times I wanted to shout at Emerson, "just make a choice already!" But then, I considered the reality of her situation and this is the beauty in Harvey's writing - the realistic nature of her characters. Because honestly, how many times have I hemmed and hawed over a decision, not knowing what to do despite the fact that I'm pretty decisive? Harvey creates real women in her writing, not cookie cutter women that fall into stereotypical patters. This is a unique approach in women's fiction - and I like it.

My only struggle in the end was Ansley - while I think she is an amazing mother, her decisions kind of plagued me a bit. Again, she was real and visceral in the hurt she felt and the choices she made; they were just hard for me to understand. 

Overall, I think this a great third book in the series - is it the final book? I honestly don't know - I actually hope it's not (can't give away anything there...)!

A solid 🍷🍷🍷🍷 from me and I'm glad the Murphy women (and their men) came into my life!

ADVANCE PRAISE:
“Kristy Woodson Harvey has done it again! Perfectly tying together the stories of Ansley, Caroline, Sloane, and Emerson (and their men!), The Southern Side of Paradise is full of humor, charm, and family. Fans of the Peachtree Bluff series will not be disappointed!” (Lauren K. Denton, USA Today Bestselling Author of Hurricane Season)

“I devoured The Southern Side of Paradise. Kristy Woodson Harvey spins a deliciously authentic Southern tale of family and the often messy, complex relationships between sisters, mothers, and daughters. This book is the perfect beach read.” (Susan Boyer, USA Today Bestselling Author of Lowcountry Boil)
“An author whose carefully crafted paragraphs stir my imagination and touch my heart.” (Leslie C. Moore, Editor, Sasee Magazine)
“Harvey excels at drawing strong, genuine relationships…Her Peachtree Bluff setting creates the kind of beach town full of colorful characters and big porches that make for the best kind of summer escape.” (Booklist)
“As the eldest of three sisters, I know you’re not supposed to pick favorites—but The Southern Side of Paradise is Kristy Woodson Harvey’s very best. The heartwarming finale to the Peachtree Buff series, this novel had me laughing, crying, and wanting to hop on a plane and head south. I loved every page.” (Camille PagΓ‘n, bestselling author of I’m Fine and Neither Are You)
“With every installment of the Peachtree Bluff Series, I fall in love all over again with the charming Murphy women and the charismatic men in their lives. The love these three sisters and their devoted mother have for one another binds this family together through thick and thin. And there is plenty of thick in this action-pack drama to hold you spellbound until the last word. One can only hope we’ll see more from this unique cast of characters and their magical Southern coastal town in the future.” (Ashley Farley, author of the bestselling Sweet Tea Tuesdays)


Available from Your Local Bookstore and:


About the author:

Harvey is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism and holds a master’s in English from East Carolina University, with a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Southern LivingTraditional HomeParadeUSA TodayDominoOur State and O. Henry. She has been seen in Today.com,Women’s Health,The Washington PostUS News and World ReportThe Huffington Post,Marie Claire’s The FixWoman’s World, Readers’ Digest, Bustle, New York Live and North Carolina Bookwatch, among others.
She is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers, serves on the board of Beaufort Historical Association, and is a member of the University of North Carolina’s Women’s Leadership Council. She is a frequent speaker at fundraisers, book conferences and private events. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and seven-year-old son where she is working on her next novel.
“Kristy.” Kristy Woodson Harvey, www.kristywoodsonharvey.com/kristy/.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Missing my own blog...

I never have time to blog anymore - I'm trying to read more, write more, work-out more (ugh!)...but I hope this summer to return to reviewing. I do have an exciting review coming up that I know I'm going to do - book three in The Peachtree Bluff novel series by Kristy Woodson Harvey.

If you'd like to take a look back at the first two in the series, pop over here:

https://crestamcgowan.blogspot.com/2018/03/slighty-south-of-simple-by-kristy.html

https://crestamcgowan.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-secret-to-southern-charm-by-kristy.html

Coming soon...


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Summer at Hollyhock House by Cathy Bussey



Faith Coombes should have been over the moon when her long-term boyfriend proposed to her. But instead, she broke up with him. Rob was safe, reliable, nice and … boring. Nothing like the only person who had ever broken her heart… 

Unable to afford the rent on another flat and desperate for a new start, Faith takes the plunge and moves back to the village she grew up in, returning to the house that holds so many memories for her. 

Hollyhock House, the family home of her best-friend Minel, also belongs to the boy who meant so much to her all those years ago… 

As Faith falls back in love with the sprawling surroundings at Hollyhock she also finds herself falling all over again for the only person who has truly hurt her. 

Can Faith come to terms with her past? Did she make the wrong decision in breaking up with Rob? 


Or does her heart really lie at Hollyhock House? 

Summer at Hollyhock House is a charming romantic comedy full of lost loves, missed opportunities and second chances. This summer read, perfect for the holidays, will have you laughing-out-loud in parts, close to tears in others, and above all, championing Faith as she searches for what is most important to her. 


My Review: Summer at Hollyhock House is the perfect book to end your summer season. With vivacious characters and terrific memories embedded in the details of the story, this summer season closer will leave you with nostalgia of first loves and lasting loves. Bussey crafts a well-told narrative in her protagonist Faith and encourages the reader to become a part of this story. We all remember the beginnings of love, the insecurities, the niggling envy, the boiling butterflies of time gone by - and Bussey takes the reader back on this journey. Bonus- there's a dog to adore! 

I give this fun and endearing novel a solid 🍷🍷🍷🍷and wish you a few warm nights that still remain in the summer season to enjoy!


About the author:

Cathy is an author, journalist and hopeless romantic who wrote her first book at the tender age of six. Entitled Tarka the Otter, it was a shameless rip-off of the Henry Williamson classic of the same name, and the manuscript was lost after she sent it to her pen-pal and never heard a jot from her since.

Fortunately reception to her writing became more favourable and she spent ten years working for a range of newspapers and magazines covering everything from general elections and celebrity scandals to cats stuck up trees and village fetes. She has been freelance since 2011 and written for The Telegraph, Red Online, Total Women’s Cycling and other lifestyle and cycling publications and websites.

She is the author of three non-fiction books and her debut and thankfully non-plagiarised novel Summer at Hollyhock House has been published by Sapere Books.

Cathy lives on the leafy London/Surrey border with her husband, two children and a dog with only two facial expressions, hungry and guilty. Her hobbies include mountain biking, photography, wandering around outside getting lost, fantasising about getting her garden under control, reading, looking at pretty things on Instagram and drinking tea. You can find her there @cathybussey1 (https://www.instagram.com/cathybussey/?hl=en), on Twitter @CathyBussey (https://twitter.com/CathyBussey?lang=en) or visit her website www.cathybussey.com.




Monday, September 3, 2018

As the Shelf Turns...

So my reviews have really become more "suggestions" as I struggle to stay on top of reading what I want and doing that whole pesky job thing called "teaching." But honestly, love the job thing :-)

All books summaries from Goodreads (because why reinvent the wheel?)

1984 by George Orwell

Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell's nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff's attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell's prescience of modern life--the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language--and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.

My review: Terrifyingly prophetic. 1984 had me underlining and gasping and holding my breath. The downfall of the human connection and the degradation of language are shockingly similar to modern society - and folks, this is NOT a good thing. 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷



The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Emily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet. But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.


Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

The Other Woman is an addictive, fast-paced psychological thriller about the destructive relationship between Emily, her boyfriend Adam, and his manipulative mother Pammie.


My review: Eh....it was okay. I didn't find the "plot twist" shocking because it was a touch obvious to me. Additionally - no way on God's blessed green earth would I date a man like Adam - we'd have been "donesies" a long time ago. I'm tired of the psychological thriller always portraying women as so stupid and needy and clueless. A general 🍷🍷🍷for some interesting moments, but overall I wanted to smack Emily upside her little head and shove Pammie down the stairs. #brutal


Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.


My review: This was cute and there was some lovely family dynamics, but it was trying to hard to be interesting and diverse. And the narrator is unreliable at best - her incessant need to force a family get together only emphasized the naivety of her - family's change and grow and those dynamics change with it. And seriously - if one more thing went wrong with the wedding I was going to throw the book through a window - it's never that bad. C'mon. Sorry - my reviews are cheeky this time. 🍷🍷🍷for the sheer amount of characters you have to keep up with throughout the book. 

Currently reading:




Sunday, August 12, 2018

Back on the Shelf...again

The school year has started and I am definitely MIA on the blogging. Exhaustion - pure exhaustion!



But I digress.

I did squeeze in a few books before the rig-em-roll hit (but no lie, there will be definite lull in the updating over the next thirty-five weeks, but who's counting????) All book summaries from Goodreads. 

Murder on Mulberry Bend by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mystery #5)

Sarah Brandt, a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York City, has seen more than her share of joy and sorrow, birth and death. Now she will see for the first time how the squalor of the streets can breed madness and murder…
The Prodigal Son Mission on Mulberry Bend stands as a refuge for girls who otherwise would have to live by selling the only thing they have of value—themselves. The work being done there so impresses Sarah that she volunteers to help out however she can—with clothes, with medical assistance, with the organization of a benefit dinner. And when one of the girls is found dead and refused burial because of her former life, Sarah’s passion for justice is aroused.
Reluctantly, Sergeant Frank Malloy agrees to look into the death, if only to keep Sarah from endangering herself by pursuing the matter. But Sarah cannot be kept out of the investigation—and just as Malloy feared, her attempts to find the cause of the unfortunate girl’s death in the circumstances of her life put her in deadly danger—from an unexpected source…
My review: Continue to love Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy as a mystery solving duo. I appreciate the historical context of this novel and the race-based relationships between the Irish and the Italians that are explored here. In the end - we are all simply human and deserving of dignity. I believe this book sends this underlying message of integrity embedded in the mystery solving game. 🍷🍷🍷🍷
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein
Oct. 11th, 1943 - A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.
My review: Don't - please just don't. I rarely give less than three stars on any review because I support the author and the work it takes to write a book, but this - just no. 🍷I had to DNF this book and maybe that's not a fair review, but I simply could not read anymore. It is a long and drawn out account of a pilot's experience in WWII focusing mostly on the plane - not the story, not the depth, not emotion, just planes. And the twist in the end isn't really a twist. It's obvious and not well-done. I love WWII era books, but not this one. And I realize my opinion is quite unpopular in this, but seriously I can only read so much about WWII planes before I simply doze off. 😴😴😴😴😴 I felt nothing when reading this book - nothing. I'm sorry, but I must speak this truth if I save just one reader from cracking this spine. #donthateme
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
Her ridiculously long name is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter to the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch. And she is flat broke. As the thirty-fourth in line for the throne, she has been taught only a few things, among them, the perfect curtsey. But when her brother cuts off her allowance, she leaves Scotland, and her fiancΓ© Fish-Face, for London, where she has:

a) worked behind a cosmetics counter—and gotten sacked after five hours
b) started to fall for a quite unsuitable minor royal
c) made some money housekeeping (incognita, of course), and
d) been summoned by the Queen to spy on her playboy son

Then an arrogant Frenchman, who wants her family’s 800-year-old estate for himself, winds up dead in her bathtub. Now her most important job is to clear her very long family name.
My review: This was a fun start to a series and the historical detail is excellent. A solid 🍷🍷🍷for me and I'll add it to my list of book series to read. I have several going - all murder mystery except for one YA series. I love reading the twists and turns and this book was no exception. Plenty of intrigue, plenty of characters, and a lot corgis - which always makes a book better. Enjoyed it and will read the next book in the series (as soon as I have time!)
What's coming up???
Currently reading Save the Date by Morgan Matson and How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster (I'm making my students read it, too!) I also have The Other Woman by Sandie Jones on the horizon.

Happy Reading Folks! Cheers! 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷