Monday, April 29, 2013

The Year I Almost Drowned by Shannon McCrimmon

Title: The Year I Almost Drowned
Author: Shannon McCrimmon

Publisher: CreateSpace

Published Date: December 6, 2012

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle

Author Website:



In this continuation of "The Summer I Learned to Dive," nineteen-year old Finley “Finn” Hemmings is living in Graceville, South Carolina with her grandparents. She's getting to know the family that she was separated from for the last sixteen years. Finn and Jesse's relationship seems to be going strong until they're forced to deal with obstacles that throw them off-track. As Finn prepares to leave for college, she has to say goodbye to the town, her friends and family, and the way of life that she has grown to love.
My Thoughts:

I can happily report that Shannon McCrimmon has done it again.  The Year I Almost Drowned easily proves that McCrimmon is not a one hit wonder when it comes to writing novels.  I first heard of McCrimmon last summer when I read her debut book, The Summer I Learned to Dive (my review can be found at  I was instantly enthralled with the characters in her book, particularly Finn and Jesse.  I found their budding romance to be realistic and natural.  However, my favorite character was Finn's sarcastic Grandfather.  Hard to get to know and rough around the edges, I instantly fell in love with his soft heart and many quips.  When I heard that there was a book number two in store for readers I was ecstatic.  I crossed my fingers that the second book about Finn and her journey would be just as terrific as The Summer I Learned to Dive.  I was NOT disappointed.

The Year I Almost Drowned picks up a little after the first book ends.  Finn decides to put off entering college for a little while in order to stay around Graceville to help her Grandfather at the dinner while he recovers from his heart attack.  However, Finn is anxious to leave all she loves behind as the ticking clock moves her closer to the day she must head off to college.  At the forefront of Finn's mind is her relationship with Jesse.  How does one have a successful long distance relationship?  Can one truly be a girlfriend to someone when you only see them a few times a year?  All of these questions and more inundate Finn's mind as she gets closer to the time she must leave.  Finn's hesitation does not go unnoticed by Jesse and she must face the consequences of her wavering heart.

I could tell that McCrimmon wrote The Year I Almost Drowned from her heart.  While there are funny and romantic scenes throughout, there are also poignant times that pulled my heartstrings.  I got so into The Year I Almost Drowned that I didn't realize I was crying until my 4 year old asked me what was wrong.  I quickly reassured her that everything was great, I was just reading a really good book that had some sad scenes.  She gave me a funny look and went back to coloring while I jumped back into McCrimmon's excellent story. 

I absoutely loved The Year I Almost Drowned just as much as I did The Summer I Learned to Dive.  The ending was fantastic and surprising, I definitely did not see McCrimmon wrapping up the book in the way that she did.  With that said, I think it ended perfectly!  I am hoping for a book #3, I would love to see more of Finn and Jesse as their life unfolds!  Fingers crossed!           

Shannon McCrimmon
The author has provided me with a complimentary copy of her book, The Year I Almost Drowned, for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Deception by Marina Martindale

Title: The Deception
Author: Marina Martindale

Publisher: Good Oak Press, LLC

Published Date: August 1, 2012

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle

Author Website:



A string of misfortunes has left photographer Carrie Daniels penniless and desperate. When her former mentor, Louise Dickenson, steps forward to offer her a job as a art model for a private commission, Carrie has no choice but to accept. Things seem to be looking up when she meets Scott Andrews, however her friends soon realize that Scott isn't who he appears to be, and Carrie's luck goes from bad to worse when Louise's photos of her fall into the wrong hands. Can Alex Montoya, a long-lost friend from her past, save her from ruin?

My Thoughts:

The Deception, by Marina Martindale, is an entertaining novel filled with romance, suspense, and surprising twists.  The Deception begins as Carrie is celebrating her 10 year anniversary with her boyfriend, Doug.  Aware of her biological clock ticking away, Carrie is more than ready to 'put a ring on it.'  However, instead of a happy anniversary, Carrie finds herself single and homeless as Doug reveals he is in love with another woman.  She quickly moves out of their shared home and takes up residence in her photography studio.

Things for Carrie steadily go from bad to worse.  With her ill mother's escalating medical bills and little money coming in, Carrie is forced to take a modeling job with an old mentor.  Uncomfortable with that fact that she has to pose nude for several private photos, the only thing that gets Carrie through the session is the promise, in ink, that her privacy will be protected.  What happens next no one could see coming.  Carrie meets Scott, whom at first seems to be on the up and up.  However, Carrie's suspensions arise that there may be another woman in Scott's life and she breaks things off after two dates.  Sadly, it is too late as Scott's wife, Maggie, finds out about Carrie and vows to not only make Carrie's life miserable, but to make her suffer.   

Throughout the novel there is the theme of 'everything happens for a reason.'  Had Carrie not posed for the risque pictures she would never have gotten involved with Scott.  This means that Maggie would have stayed out of Carrie's life, which in turn means that Carrie would not have had to hire Alex as her lawyer, who turned out to be the love of her life.

Marina Martindale did an excellent job of filling The Deception with twists, turns, and many shocking outcomes.  I was most shocked at the length Maggie went to make Carrie pay for sleeping with her husband.  She didn't focus on making Scott miserable, instead Maggie took her vendetta out on Carrie.  At first I thought she would just try to make Carrie uncomfortable, but she went FAR beyond a little revenge.  I was also surprised at the addition in Carrie's family (that's all I'm saying without giving anything away!)

I really enjoyed seeing the relationship between Carrie and Alex unfold.  From the moment he made an appearance I could tell there was a special history between the two.  Martindale did a great job in creating a relationship that began as best friends and evolved into a love story.  

The Deception, by Marina Martindale, is a great read that I definitely recommend to those who love suspense and romance!  The character of Carrie is well developed and grows tremendously from the time the novel starts until it ends.  If you are looking for a novel to keep you entertained, this is for you!          

Marina Martindale
The author has provided me with a complimentary copy of her book, The Deception, for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The History of Us by Leah Stewart

Title: The History of Us
Author: Leah Stewart

Publisher: Touchstone

Published Date: January 8, 2013

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle

Author Website:


Nearly two decades have passed since Eloise Hempel gave up her dream job teaching at Harvard University to return to her hometown of Cincinnati to care for her orphaned nieces and nephew. Now, with Theo, Josh, and Claire grown, she dreams of selling the family house, perhaps even returning to the life she left behind. But when her mother decides not to let Eloise sell the house—and instead promises it to the family member “who needs it most”—unforeseen consequences and revelations threaten to unravel their makeshift family.

My Thoughts:

Leah Stewart's new book, The History of Us, is a fabulous piece of fiction that deals with many of life's disappointments.  Eloise is a young woman with a budding dream career- being a Professor at Harvard.  However, before she can begin to enjoy her new life outside of Ohio she receives the worst phone call of her life.  With her world turned upside down, Eloise finds herself moving back to Cincinnati to care for her three young nieces and nephew after their parents are killed.  Flash forward 17 years and Eloise is still living in the house she grew up in with her three adult 'children' that have no intentions of leaving.  With dreams of selling her childhood home and leaving Ohio behind for good, Eloise has no idea of the struggles she will face by putting herself first.

I believe my favorite character in The History of Us is Josh.  He is fun and a bit lighthearted on the surface until one of his loved ones is in trouble, then the 'serious' Josh emerges.  Stewart did a great job of creating this multifaceted character.  There were many layers to Josh, and they started to peel away as the story went on.  I really enjoyed reading about Josh's budding relationship with Adelaide and his internal struggle with music.  At first I didn't understand why he would quit his band and then want nothing to do with music ever again.  However, Eloise explained his thought patterns to Adelaide quite nicely.  He really did feel like a failure because of his actions and was embarrassed that he gave up his art so easily when Adelaide struggled everyday to be the best dancer she could be.  I would love to read a spinoff of The History of Us featuring Josh and Adelaide.     

Theo is the oldest of the siblings and has always been the perfect child.  Sometimes coming off as judgmental, Theo is always there when her siblings need her advice.  Theo is also very serious and a lot like her Aunt Eloise.  However, one of the major differences is that Theo loves Cincinnati and never wants to leave.  This causes major discord between herself and Eloise.

I felt like I never got to really know the character of Claire.  She was not front and center for much of the novel and the only way we could learn about her was by listening to her family.  For this reason when Claire did get a bigger role I had trouble connecting to her personal situation involving her career and fiancee.  I did really enjoy how Theo discovered Claire's duplicities and the resulting aftermath.       

Leah Stewart's The History of Us is a truly wonderful read.  It is a story about life struggles and how the Hempel family managed to continue on after tragedy befell them.  Stewart created great characters that are not perfect, they deal with the joys and disappointments of life on a day to day basis just like you and I. Heartbreaking at times, The History of Us definitely reminds readers to be grateful for the things that are often taken for granted.       

Leah Stewart

The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of the book, The History of Us, for the purpose of review.