Ronovan Hester’s Book Review of Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by author Kristin Harper.

Aunt Ivy's Cottage book coverDESCRIPTION OF AUNT IVY’S COTTAGE by Kristin Harper

Three generations of the Winslow family gather one Spring as they go through joys, sorrows, and many decisions to find healing in the home that’s been in their family for generations. Add mystery, romance, and a manipulative, self-centered cousin, and you have the makings of a promising series set in the fictional New England village of HOPE HAVEN on DUNE ISLAND. The picture painted by the author of the sunsets, ocean waves, the surf, the smells, and more make the fictional setting come to life.

ZOEY has been staying with her elderly AUNT IVY and Aunt Sylvia after Sylvia developed pneumonia. Out of a job and her savings all but depleted by an ex-boyfriend, Zoey dedicates herself first to nursing Sylvia, until her passing (in the prologue), then to Aunt Ivy while she copes with the loss of her sister-in-law, Sylvia.

Then another bombshell drops when Zoey’s asked to assume responsibility for her niece GABI, the daughter of her sister, JESSICA, who was lost to cancer several years earlier. The girl’s step-mother and father hope Zoey will let her finish the school year wherever Zoey ends up living. With Gabi’s mother gone and now her dad in a rehab program for alcoholics, Zoey says yes.

On top of that, Zoey’s cousin MARK, the next in line to inherit Aunt Ivy’s house, is doing his best to get her to move into a retirement facility so he can renovate the house and lease it out for an income. If this happens, what happens to Zoey?

But there is one light in it all, NICK, the local contractor. Or is his light too bright to be believed?

Pre-REVIEW (Review?)

If you read the blurb/book description on Amazon, it isn’t accurate to the book’s story. I think if I read the book, after reading that description first, I would be disappointed because the suspense and anticipation it promises is not quite what’s delivered. Even some imagery given isn’t what you get in the book. But don’t let that stop you from reading AUNT IVY’S COTTAGE after reading this review. Because I’m just pointing that out in case you read this review and then the Amazon description and wonder what was this book blogger talking about.

If the blurb is not accurate, then what do you get?

A story with more substance, more emotion, and more heart than expected. And I enjoyed it better than I would have if it had been what the blurb described.

THE REVIEW

KRISTIN HARPER does a great job of painting a wonderful picture of what the Hope Haven area of Dune Island looks like. It’s a nice job of giving the imagery as part of the story and not just throwing it in to fill up the page. Harper really knows what she’s doing. It’s not over the top, just enough to give you what you need. I love it when that happens. And as a writer, I can tell you it’s a balance not easily accomplished.

Each character has their own unique personality and problems. This is something I enjoy in any book, but in this type of book in particular there is a tendency to have too many characters that serve the same purpose and clutter the story. When that happens, you end up wondering which character someone is talking about. Harper nails it with just the right number. One living great-aunt, one aunt in her thirties, and one teen niece. The niece, Gabi, has friends that are unique and fleshes out her character nicely, but they aren’t cluttering the reading. For instance, you read about one boy early on, and the next time you meet him, you have no problem visualizing him again walking with the girl down the hall her first day of school to give her a tour. Honestly, I could see the kid. It surprised me. (Maybe I knew a kid just like him.)

The emotions of the story are not overdone, and they aren’t always about the same things. Yes, the same emotions happen about the same things at times, but I expect that when a story involves grief. If the story didn’t include those moments, it would come across to me as unrealistic.

You have the tears, but they are usually warranted, not filler or lack of a talented writer’s ability to come up with something better to say. They are timed at the right moments in the story where they belong rather than pulling you out of your escape into the sounds of the surf on a New England island in spring. (Zoey’s moments on the beach and in the ocean had me wishing I were there.)

There are laughs as well, which include multi-generational moments that aren’t contrived. Some of those moments include characters that might surprise you but ultimately don’t.

Harper does great with not making any of the characters one-dimensional. I have to say that surprised me. A lot of times in books of this genre one person has a role to play and they stick to that stereotype/trope with no variation. Harper doesn’t do that here. Some of the roles do play to type where they need to but then there is much more to each person. Very nice.

There are only a couple of places in the book I thought could’ve been different, but in no way do they take away from the reading of the book or diminish the enjoyment I had. Nor would they change the story or outcome of the book.

I really like books that have a sweet, emotional family story, be they mysteries, romances, suspense, or whatever. There is no profanity at all in the book. Also, there are no intimate/sexual situations that would keep a teen from reading this book.

Summing it up: It’s a tight story with no fillers and some little learning moments about life, love, and family. You’ll enjoy it, as I did.

 COMPARING

I’m horrible at comparing one author to others in this genre. Why, because I pick up a book to read based on the title, cover, description, and reviews. I do like reading the same authors but if the reviews are bad, I’ll skip the book. Plus, when you read over a  hundred books a year, you get kind of get lost in your own little world of words.

All I can say is this was a well-plotted and well thought out story. The world-building Harper has done makes for a four-dimensional feel (fourth being the senses included) reading experience.

When you have a book that is put forward as a Clean & Wholesome Romance, you often think of those painfully awkward almost-moments of intimacy the two leads go through until the ‘finally’ moment happens. I am so pleased to say this book does not put you through that. Of course, you have moments, but reasonable and nothing like what I’ve read so many times before. There are very few cliché moments in Aunt Ivy’s Cottage. Nicely done.

I said all of that to tell you how Kristin Harper’s efforts stand out from others.

RATING

A solid 4 out of 5 Stars. I would read more in this series. (One other title currently available, Summer at Hope Haven.)

Click one of the logos below to visit the book site so you can purchase.

294 pages.

$.99 for ebook.

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About the authorKristin Harpr photo

Ever since she was a young girl, there were few things Kristin Harper liked more than creative writing and spending time on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her family. Eventually (after a succession of jobs that bored her to tears), she found a way to combine those two passions by becoming a women’s fiction author whose stories occur in oceanside settings. While Kristin doesn’t live on the Cape year-round, she escapes to the beach whenever she can.

https://www.kristinharperauthor.com/
https://twitter.com/KHarperAuthor


For more reviews and the other stops on Kristin Harper’s Book Blog Tour:

Click the image for a larger view.

Aunt Ivy's Cottage Blog Tour image with other blog sitts.

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “A Merry Mountain Christmas, BY AUTHOR @PCZick

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  • Title:  A Merry Mountain Christmas: Sweet Romance (Smoky Mountain Romance, Volume 4)
  • Author: P. C. Zick
  • Print Length: 102 Pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication Date: August 31, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon, LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1537152130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1537152134
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Romance, Clean & Wholesome,

*I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book*

In the author’s words:

“Fran is adjusting after her husband’s death when her first love comes back to town upsetting her family and leading her to inspiration. Fran first fell in love with Michael as a teenager. When he broke her heart, she married Carl and lived a happy life for more than thirty years until Carl died tragically. Just when she’s becoming fed up with the well-meaning, yet tiresome comments about Carl’s death, her first love returns, and stirs long-forgotten emotions. Rescue dogs and a love resurrected bring a sweet Christmas celebration to the Smoky Mountains.”

My Recommendation:

I like nothing better than finding a character from a previous book starring in their own book! That is exactly what P. C. Zick did. I read and reviewed Mountain Miracles (click here to read the review) and the character of Fran, was a real standout! This novel is a continuation of Mountain Miracles and one of the sweetest romances. Not only that, but the characters leap off the page as if you already know them.

Fran does the baking for Beanery Joe’s, a local coffee shop owned by Cecelia Jones. Fran’s husband, Carl, is recently deceased. Life has dealt a blow to Fran, and she isn’t sure how to cope.

The one shining light that helps to keep Fran moving forward is the impending marriage of her friends, Cecelia Jones and David Bellwood. When David’s father, Michael shows up to attend the wedding, Fran realizes he is her long lost boyfriend from high school. It doesn’t take long for the old sparks to ignite feelings that Fran and Michael had hidden for years.

The fact that Michael betrayed her and married someone else complicates their friendship. To make matters worse, Fran’s son Nick, and Michael’s son, David, struggle with their parents new found relationship. Fran’s memories of Carl and their life together muddle things further ensuing in plenty of fireworks.

Fran is one of the most endearing characters I have read in a long time. I really connected with her and felt the pain of her loss, and the joy of her new love. P. C. Zick deftly spins a love story that is poignant and real. If I met Fran today, I would want her as my friend.

This story is more a journey of healing for both families. It centers on dealing with life and the choices we made in the past and learning how to forgive, and move on. The theme of getting a second chance at love resonates through the entire story.

I read quickly to find out what happened next. I could not put the book down. If you love a romance where the characters walk off the page to meet you, this is the book for you. It was a “me time” read and I loved it! ❤

me-time

My Rating:

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

5gold-star3

 

 

 

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Author, P. C. Zick

About P. C. Zick:

P.C. Zick describes herself as a storyteller no matter what she writes. And she writes in a variety of genres, including romance, contemporary fiction, and nonfiction. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction.

The three novels in her Florida Fiction Series contain stories of Florida and its people and environment, which she credits as giving her a rich base for her storytelling. “Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply my fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.”

Her contemporary romances in the Behind the Love trilogy are also set in Florida. Her most recent works are set in the Smoky Mountains. All of her books are stand-alone reads, even if they appear in a series.

Her novels contain elements of romance with strong female characters, handsome heroes, and descriptive settings. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion, and through her fiction, she imparts this philosophy in an entertaining manner with an obvious love for her characters, plot, and themes.

You can keep track of P.C. Zick’s new releases and special promotions by signing up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/0o6-D. Visit her website to find out more about her writing life at http://www.pczick.com.

Make certain to connect with P. C. Zick through Twitter at @PCZick

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of colleenchesebro.com

Colleen 5.3.16

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