Audiobook Review: “Once Upon a Royal Summer” by Teri Wilson

Happy Friday! I’m sharing a quick audiobook review today of a recently released novel: Once Upon a Royal Summer by Teri Wilson. This is the first full book I’ve read by Teri and Hallmark Publishing, and I’m delighted to say it offered fun and depth in one cute, summer-y package!

About the Book

A theme park “princess” meets a single dad…who turns out to be a real prince! Enjoy the delightful royal romance from acclaimed author Teri Wilson and Hallmark Publishing.

Lacey found her dream job: playing a princess character at a popular fairytale theme park in sunny southern Florida. Her diamond tiara might not be real, but the smiles of the children she meets every day certainly are. It’s just too bad that her ex-boyfriend was never impressed with her career choice.

Henry, the crown prince of Bella-Moritz, is trying to fulfill his young daughter’s birthday wish: to be a normal girl with a normal life. That’s why they’re pretending to be ordinary tourists at an American amusement park. Henry lost his wife four years ago, and he’s been going through the motions ever since. But could a meeting with a make-believe princess lead to real love?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I really enjoyed the audiobook version of Once Upon a Royal Summer! It combines a sweet romance with all the romcom moments and fairytale references galore. The narrator did a fantastic job with the accents of a southern heroine and the posh Bella-Moritz royals.

Our heroine Lacey is likable and relatable, with her genuine heart for children and their dreams at the core of her motive to play a princess every day. I love how her growth in confidence comes naturally as a result of her interactions with Henry. And HENRY… he is princely perfection and a great dad, too! What is it about single dad heroes that inspire such tenderness?! His daughter, Rose, lives up to the beauty of her name and is absolutely endearing.

With references to classic princess tales, pop culture, and showcasing a unique side of theme park culture, Once Upon a Royal Summer is sweetly original. I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and uplifting summer-y read. The close nods to Cinderella and the slight twist on the role of a fairy godmother are my favorite parts!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the audiobook review copy.

Audiobook Review: “Dearest Josephine” by Caroline George

I’m reviewing an endearing novel today by Caroline George, Dearest Josephine. It falls within the YA (young adult) genre, though I think it would appeal to all ages and lovers of story — especially those who enjoy Regency fiction.

About the Book

Caroline George sweeps readers up into two different time periods with an unexpected love story that prompts us to reimagine what it means to be present with the people we love.

2020: Chocolate and Earl Grey tea can’t fix Josie De Clare’s horrible year. She mourned the death of her father and suffered a teen-life crisis, which delayed her university plans. But when her father’s will reveals a family-owned property in Northern England, Josie leaves London to find clarity at the secluded manor house. While exploring the estate, she discovers two-hundred-year-old love letters written by an elusive novelist, all addressed to someone named Josephine. And then she discovers a novel in which it seems like she’s the heroine…

1820: Novelist Elias Roch loves a woman he can never be with. Born the bastard son to a nobleman and cast out from society, Elias seeks refuge in his mind with the quirky heroine who draws him into a fantasy world of scandal, betrayal, and unconditional love. Convinced she’s his soulmate, Elias writes letters to her, all of which divulge the tragedy and trials of his personal life.

As fiction blurs into reality, Josie and Elias must decide: How does one live if love can’t wait? Separated by two hundred years, they fight against time to find each other in a story of her, him, and the novel written by the man who loves her.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Dearest Josephine is a completely unique reading experience blending epistolary correspondence in contemporary times and the Regency era, along with a serialized novel interspersed throughout. All three concepts are intricately tied together and unite themes of hope, longing, LOVE, and acceptance.

My favorite part of reading this novel is how it respects and acknowledges the power of story and a reader’s connection to fictional characters. I experienced this connection to the story personally and through the character Josie’s eyes as she discovered the serialized novel and its mysterious ties to her life. Twists, turns, and unpredictable surprises lay ahead for Josie and the reader.

With the slightest hints of mystery and an absolutely endearing cast of characters, everything from modern humor, a nosy knitting club, society and setting of the Regency era, and layers of friendship and connection are depicted vibrantly and with skill. I’m looking forward to whatever Caroline George pens next, and I dearly hope she returns to the YA genre again!

I listened to the audiobook version of this novel and was delighted with the accents of the characters and unique audio cues for instant messages. ❤

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Audiobook Review: “The Cul-de-Sac War” by Melissa Ferguson

Melissa Ferguson’s sophomore novel, The Cul-de-Sac War, is as cute and intriguing as its name implies. It’s a contemporary romcom I highly recommend for fans of the genre!

About the Book

All’s fair in love and prank wars.

Bree Leake doesn’t want to be tied down. She’s had more jobs than she can count, and she plans to move as soon as the curtains fall on her less-than-minor stage role at The Barter—the oldest live performance theater in the US. But just when it’s time to move on again, Bree’s parents make her an offer: hold steady for a full year, and they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted—her grandmother’s house. Her dreams are coming true . . . until life at the theater throws her some curve balls.

And then there’s Chip McBride—her handsome and infuriating next-door neighbor.

Chip just might be the only person whose stubborn streak can match Bree’s. She would move heaven and earth to have him off her cul-de-sac and out of her life, but according to the bargain she’s struck, she can’t move out of her house and away from the man who’s making her life miserable. So begins Bree’s obsessive new mission: to drive Chip out of the neighborhood—and fast.

Bree isn’t the only one who’s a tad competitive, and Chip is more than willing to fight fire with fire. But as their pranks escalate, the line between love and hate starts to blur—and their heated rivalry threatens to take a hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic new turn.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The Cul-de-Sac War is truly a LAUGH OUT LOUD romcom! I listened to the audiobook and loved every second. I love the pranks and antics of Chip and Bree, their delightful frenemies-to-enemies-to-romance journey, and the little bits of realistic heart-truths in this story. Most of all, I loved the way I couldn’t predict what crazy thing would happen next or how much I would be surprised by the way it comes together. I especially like how it’s centered on two people who have no idea that each is the answer to the friendship and encouragement they are seeking.

So many aspects of this novel line up to result in such perfection. A short list:

  • the cast of supporting characters: Bree’s off-the-grid obsessed roommate, her matchmaking obsessed parents, and Chip’s pretentious family, just to name a few.
  • relatable humor: Subarus. Duct tape and home remodeling.
  • quaint-but-still-real-life setting: just go Google The Barter!
  • random farm animals: I’ll leave this comment a mystery until you read it for yourself 😉
  • a dog named Russell: so prolific, he deserves his own category. His Slim Jim obsession is award-worthy.
  • finding purpose in life: a major theme here!
  • a surprising, heart-tugging story thread with Bree’s family — and the way Chip relates

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Audiobook review: “Whose Waves These Are” by Amanda Dykes

Hi readers! I’m dropping in to share a little review of an epic story… one of those that needs to be on your radar if you haven’t already read it: Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes.

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving but the building halts when tragedy strikes. Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I am in awe of this story and its winding way of layering truth and light in both the commonplace and extraordinary. Through points of view from the past and contemporary timelines, the lives of Annie, Jeremiah, Robert Bliss, and so many others are expertly intertwined in a story of sacrifice and provision, with enchanting threads of sea and light. A story that explores the both the strength and weakness of the human spirit, all tied up with the provision of God and His ultimate will. This is a resonating debut novel with its deeply poignant themes and memorable characters. I can’t wait to experience whatever story Amanda Dykes pens next!

I HIGHLY enjoyed the audiobook version of this novel, and will be looking at other stories with the same narrator. She was a joy!

Thanks to Netgalley for the ebook copy. I purchased the audio copy. This is my honest review.

Audiobook review: “The Curse of Misty Wayfair” by Jaime Jo Wright

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia–compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

Goodreads | Amazon

The Curse of Misty Wayfair is an absolutely ENTHRALLING suspense novel! Jaime has done it again with a split-time premise whose historic and contemporary storylines are equally as riveting and exquisitely intertwined. With creepy and gothic tones, a small town comes to life and hides a legend both Heidi and Thea must uncover to learn their purpose and history. With a considerate approach, Jaime also handles anxiety and both mental and physical disabilities in this story in a unique way, drawing attention to worth and strength all the while. All of the elements of this novel work together to present a strong story of identity, belonging, and purpose — but the true brilliance of this story is in the telling. I was surprised more than once, and relieved to learn the goings-on behind some things, too!

And I must mention the way the two heroes of the story interact with and compliment the heroines — it’s fantastic!

Bonus fun things: the rescued animals, bow hunting analogies (they were cool!), old time photography, and the Hulk.

I listened to the audio presentation of this novel! The narrator did a great job with inflection and delivery, even lending different accents and pronunciations to the different eras. (and I am picky about narration.) I would recommend it for fans of audiobooks!

Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!

I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! That makes me happy. I have read SO MANY good books this year, which I will attribute to knowing how to better choose my genres and preferences, and even being “picky” when it comes to review-book choices. So, I have decided to limit my best-of lists this year to a max of 10 books. If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives.
Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog

The rules: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review.

Today’s post is all about Novellas + Audiobooks! The audios are all 5 star reads I’m considering “bonuses” on my lists because I listened to their fabulous audio productions AND loved the stories!

Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks

From The Christmas Heirloom novella collection:

Because of You by Becky Wade | Review

Booknerd hero. Friendship. Serving

Gift of the Heart by Karen Witemeyer | Review

Second chances. Humor. Tender hearts.

The Royally Yours Novella Collection | Review to come!

Literary love notes. Small town charming traditions. Whimsy.

From the Finding Ever After novella collection:

Between Stairs and Stardust by Pepper Basham

Whimsical. Cinderella. Swimming.

Entanglements by Rachel McMillan

Hairpins. Chess. Music.


Something New by Joanne Bischof |Review

Dreams. Restoration. Hope.

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright | Review to come!

Identity. Forgiveness. Worth beyond the surface.

The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews (reread)| Review

Trust. Delicious accents. Capacity to love.

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green | Review

Sacrifice. Healing. Purpose.

Welcome to Wishing Bridge by Ruth Logan Herne | Review

Hope. Sisterhood-friendship. Sacrifical love.

Audiobook Review: “Wedded to War” by Jocelyn Green

Wedded to War is a fascinating, layered, and quite serious look at the front lines of women’s foray into nursing during the beginning of the Civil War. Jocelyn Green has written an epic story that encompasses many true-life historical figures and accurate events that serve as characters in themselves as heroines Charlotte Waverly, Ruby O’Flannery, and others work as part of the Sanitary Commission to aid, nurse, and manage the ghastly aftermath of war in their very own country. As Charlotte finds her purpose in showing compassion and grace to everyone around her, she also matures over the timeline of the story into a capable woman of character. The hint of a romance between Charlotte and the hero was happily fitting and complimentary to her role, and I was delighted to learn that the couple is based on a real historical couple! Ruby, too, is a compelling heroine. I wondered, at times, how the twisting and sad threads of her story were going to work into the whole, but like the theme of the novel, all of it works toward the surprising good and satisfying end to the story.

The research and work that went into this novel is obvious. I am in awe of what the real-life heroines who inspired this story did to sacrifice and serve in a time of war.

The audio presentation of this novel, in particular, is well-told and riveting. The narrator clearly and skillfully does different intonations and accents for the different characters, including Ruby’s Irish one!

THANK YOU to the author for the audiobook version of this novel for the purpose of a review. This is my honest review.

Wedded to War on Goodreads | Amazon | Audible

Mini Review: Audiobook ~ The Inn at Ocean’s Edge by Colleen Coble

I love my library — and I love that my library gives me access to accounts like Library 2 Go that has ebooks, periodicals, and audiobooks! My most recent item from there was a Colleen Coble audiobook: The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, the first book in her recent Sunset Cove series. It was so awesome, I had to put this mini review together to talk about my thoughts.

The Inn at Ocean's Edge.jpgThe Inn at Ocean’s Edge is probably my favorite Colleen Coble novel that I’ve read or listened to. The title is poignant and unassuming considering the intensity of the story. It is an excellent example of what a great romantic suspense story should be — a riveting setting, layered characters, and a well-secreted mystery. It kept me guessing until probably the last quarter of the story! And, it was narrated fabulously by Devon O’Day.

On a side note, it was fun seeing the character Beau Callahan from Denise Hunter’s current “Summer Harbor” series (I enjoyed his story in Falling Like Snowflakes.) I think it’s very cool that two different authors share a fictional “world” and have some of their characters meet.

More about the book:

A vacation to Sunset Cove was her way of celebrating and thanking her parents. After all, Claire Dellamore’s childhood was like a fairytale. But with the help of Luke Elwell, Claire discovers that fairytale was really an elaborate lie.…

The minute she steps inside the grand Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Claire Dellamare knows something terrible happened there. She feels it in her bones. Her ensuing panic attack causes a scene, upsetting her parents. Claire attempts to quiet her nerves with a walk on the beach, to no avail. She’s at too great a distance to make out details, but she believes she witnesses a murder on a nearby cliff. When local police find no evidence of foul play, they quickly write off the “nervous” woman’s testimony as less than credible.

But Luke Elwell, home on leave from the Coast Guard, has reason to believe Claire. Years ago when his mother went missing, Luke’s father suspected she’d been murdered. He died never having convinced the police to investigate. So when an employee of the grand hotel doesn’t show up for work, Luke steps in to help Claire track down the missing woman.

As Claire and Luke put together the pieces of a decades-old mystery, they discover that some family secrets refuse to stay buried. And some passions are worth killing for.