Review: Saturdays at Sweeney’s


Title: Saturdays at Sweeney’s
Author: Ashley Farley
Publisher: Kindle Press
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 250 pages
Series?: Sweeney Sisters #5
Genre: Women’s Fiction

When the seafood business Lovie Sweeney established sixty years ago is destroyed by fire, she finds herself at the center of an arson investigation. What really happened that night? Is Lovie responsible for starting the fire or is her family under attack from a sworn enemy?

The loss of their family business leaves the Sweeney clan in flux. Samantha faces the challenges of rebuilding the market while her son, Jamie, on track to graduate from college in six months, must decide whether to make his permanent home in Prospect or move to Charleston where a new special someone resides. At age forty-five, Faith, who has never fully recovered from an abusive marriage, is on a quest to find her true passion? Jackie is distraught when her son, Sean, flunks out of college and struggles to find direction in his life without his twin brother to guide him. A medical diagnosis brings the sisters closer together and threatens to change family dynamics forever.

The Sweeney women remind us that it’s never too late to begin a new endeavor and to never stop chasing your dreams until you draw your last breath.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

I thought this would be a great book to start the off the year. I was shocked to realize it’s the final book in the series and the first one I’ve read! The author brings readers up to speed, though. Reading about the Sweeney sisters and their families in Prospect made me think this is the perfect kind of small town dysfunctional heaven. There were a wide range of events happening and packaged all in this book with the cute cover: a family’s battle living with Alzheimer’s, the family business being destroyed, family secrets, alcoholism and recovery, drug abuse and therapy, younger generations starting their college pathways, a strange mystery of occurrences, and a sleazy tabloid writer. It didn’t shy away from those hard topics – it faced them head-on.

Each family member has his or her own spotlight throughout the book to continue the narration and plot.Each of the Sweeney sisters had their own secret to hide and each of those things continued to build up the tension and draw out the suspense, while their children are also struggling to move forward in their lives.

The book begins with Sweeney’s Seafood Market on fire. The preliminary report points to a lightning strike, but further investigation reveals arson. The fire department is reluctant to point fingers, but it must be noted that Lovie Sweeney was at the scene before the fire department arrived. She couldn’t answer their questions and becomes the lone suspect.

As Faith planned to step away from the business and leave it to Sam, she and her son Jamie must decide what their next move with the family business will be. Is this a total loss or a new beginning? Jaimie’s entire summer plan was to work at Sweeney’s. It is looking dismal with Lovie being the center of the fire investigation. The insurance won’t pay out in the event of arson.

Sam’s husband Eli must recuse himself from the investigation, but is right there alongside it every step of the way to ensure it is executed properly. From day one, it is not. It results in further disorientation from Lovie, who doesn’t seem to know who Eli is. She is living in the past, and Sam is still with Allen. Concerned for her well-being, the sisters remove their mother from her townhouse and install her in Faith’s home. With no job to report to every day, and stuck in limbo with the direction her life should now take, Faith readily volunteers to be caretaker extraordinaire for their mother. Lovie’s mental faculties continue to decline, and soon she is becoming combative and hard to care for.

Suddenly dead animals begin showing up on the sisters’ doorsteps, with their mother’s hand-written recipes attached. Whoever set the fire is taunting the Sweeney girls. Faith quickly discovers who the true culprit is, but she never shares that information with her sisters or even her husband. Instead, she does what she wants to and ultimately puts her mother and daughter at risk.

The oldest sister, Jackie, is busy running her interior design business and looking to expand. Spending much of the week out of town, she is disconnected with the family. After trying to convince her sisters to place their mother in an amazing care facility, she is kind of on the outs. She is struggling to keep customers happy, sell her current location, and purchase a new showroom. Meanwhile, one of her sons is arrested on drug charges. Additionally, he is kicked out of Jackie’s alma matter for straight failing grades his freshman year. He is brought back home and everything about it is kept a secret.

Jamie is tasked with babysitting Sean and they both get jobs at a local restaurant. In the time the boys aren’t working the restaurant, they are out catching crabs and selling on the site of their burned family business on Saturdays. Soon, Jamie connects with his half-sister and goes to work with her catering company.

This is the story of real life that real families face every day. It was eye-opening to family, loyalty, love, motivation, distrust, secrets, fear. It is also a wonderful example of how important it is to be understanding and supportive of your loved ones going through tough trying situations. I connected so well with this family and fell in love with them. I definitely want to go back and read the first four books in the series.


Ashley is a wife and mother of two young adult children. While she’s lived in Richmond, Virginia for the past 21 years, part of her heart remains in the salty marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry where she grew up. Through the eyes of her characters, she’s able to experience the moss-draped trees, delectable cuisine, and kind-hearted folks with lazy drawls that make the area so unique.

Ashley Farley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her goal is to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning. If her story stays with you long after you’ve read the last word, then she’s done her job.

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review: Memories of May


Title: Memories of May
Author: Juliet Madison
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release Date: May 2017
Length: 161 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Women’s Fiction

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but in Tarrin’s Bay, she’s about to find that love is stronger than time…

By day, single mother Olivia Chevalier runs the family’s bookstore and raises her nine-year-old daughter. By night, she escapes into a world of fiction where there is excitement, romance, and happy endings.

Both of her roles are endlessly rewarding, but Olivia’s life has not been without challenges, hard work, and disappointment. So when enigmatic travel writer Joel Foster walks into her bookstore – and her life – with his mantras of trying new things and taking risks, Olivia knows that nothing will change.

But when a family dilemma surfaces, Olivia is compelled to enroll in Joel’s writing course to tell the story of her grandmother’s life. With each new day and each new page, Olivia discovers secrets about her family and truths about herself, and finds herself yearning to rewrite the story she has planned and seek a life as intriguing as fiction.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

The Skinny

Olivia Chevalier is a single mother who runs the local bookstore passed down by her grandmother, Mrs. May. Since having Mia, her life has been consumed by her daughter and Olivia finds herself being much more of an introvert and afraid of stepping outside of her normal. Her life and her time revolve around being able to provide for Mia. While commendable, Olivia’s life is bland and boring in Tarrin’s Bay.

When Joel Foster, author of a popular best-selling memoir, sweeps into town to run a few writing courses, Olivia is tempted to join the class. She wants to preserve the stories of her grandmother and write her grandmother’s memoir. As Olivia delves deeper into May’s life, she discovers a sweet romance with a young man named William before marrying her grandfather. Joel encourages Olivia to join his class and challenges her to do new things and make book-worthy moments. Their friendship slowly develops as Olivia works through the course and steps outside of her comfort zone.

The Quote

 “Life isn’t always magical,” she said, “but there are magical moments in life, if you let them in.”

The Highs and Lows

  • May. Now in her 90s, Mrs. May’s health has naturally declined. She loved living in her own independent community, but after a downward turn she is forced to move into a home to live out the remainder of her life. It is a blow to Olivia, who is extremely close to her grandmother. Before her time is up, Olivia wants to record May’s memories and write a memoir for her. It’s something new and out of the ordinary, but she wants to do it for her grandmother and for herself. She quickly learns Mrs. May had a secret admirer as a young lady – and it wasn’t Mr. Chevalier! Oliva wants to learn more about May’s secret letters and the young man who sent them. Olivia gets caught up in May’s stories of her sweet romance with William and I kept turning pages to find out, too.
  • Book-worthy Moments. When Olivia meets Joel for what becomes the first of their Friday lunch dates, Joel urges Olivia to do new things, embrace life. He challenges her to do one book-worthy thing each week. Where better to get book ideas? Olivia’s first new thing is eating a burger instead of her usual salad. New book-worthy moments include new animal shaped pancakes on Sunday mornings, getting stuck in a window, and a memorable camping trip. Joel’s insistence of new things has Olivia pausing in her overcrowded days to appreciate life and rethinking her own.
  • Mia. She’s nine years old and a hoot! She adds a little flair and zest to Olivia’s life. She’s just a fun kid – and a good kid!
  • Friendship. What I loved most about the story was the parallel between May and William and Olivia and Joel. Both couples started out as friends, helping one another, and a slow, sweet romance soon blooms.



Juliet Madison is a bestselling and award-nominated author of fiction in multiple genres, an inspirational coloring book artist, and a self-empowerment and writing coach.

With her background as a naturopath and a dancer, Juliet is passionate about health, fitness, and living a positive life. She likes to combine her love of words, art, and inspiration to create books that entertain and empower readers to love, laugh, and live.

Juliet lives on the picturesque south coast of NSW, Australia, where she spends as much time as possible writing books and as little time as possible doing housework.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review + Giveaway: The Secret Sister


Welcome to my stop for The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak. This is the first book in her Fairham Island series. It is a women’s fiction novel that releases July 28th. The tour runs July 27- Aug. 7 with mostly reviews and a few interviews and guest posts. I’m just one of the many stops for the tour, so be sure to check out the tour page.

The-Secret-Secret-Cover-202x300Title: The Secret Sister
Author: Brenda Novak
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: July 2015
Length: 400 pages
Series?: Fairham Island #1
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why?

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who’s asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago.

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she’d prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He’s back on the island, and to her surprise, he’s raising a young daughter alone. Maisey’s still attracted to him, but her heart’s too broken to risk…

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must’ve been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister.

Maisey’s convinced that child existed. So where is she now?


***** Review *****

The Skinny

Maisey returns home to Fairham Island to lick her wounds after her divorce. She also comes to help her troubled brother, Keith, keep it together. But she makes a grievous mistake by not staying with her elitist mother at Coldiron House and suffers through the wrath of her mother and added strain with her brother. Instead, she stays in the one place on the island where she feels a connection to her father, Smuggler’s Cove. The nine bungalows will be her inheritance, and they are in serious need of repair after a recent hurricane. Only problem is Rafe Romero now owns one and is constantly around. As Rafe repairs the bungalows, he finds a metal box filled with photos that rock Maisey’s world. Has there been a lie hidden in Coldiron House all these years? Who could help her uncover the truth that her mother and brother don’t want her to find?

The Players

Maisey Lazarow – daughter of Josephine Coldiron and Malcolm Lazarow, younger sister of Keith, famous children’s book author and illustrator, retreating to start over after the failure of her marriage, she is strong and a very private person

Keith took advantage of people and then moved on. It wasn’t intention as much as it was a matter of convenience. He’d never had to try very hard to get what he wanted, so it never meant a lot to him. He took the generosity of others for granted – and expected anyone he tossed aside to still be there if he decided to return.

Keith Lazarow -Maisey’s older brother, has always had problems, uses and abuses people for his own gain, has always been protective of Maisey

Josephine had always been a harsh disciplinarian, extremely self-centered and absolutely convinced that her opinion was the only one that mattered. She demanded absolute control of everyone and everything around her.

Josephine Lazarow – mother of Keith and Maisey, she is haughty and cold, used to getting her way, has had multiple husbands, owns nearly all of Fairham Island

Other than his five-o’clock shadow, his skin was smooth and clear and almost as golden as his eyes. He’d also added quite a bit of muscle, mainly in the arms and shoulders, which made him look powerful. His dark hair, although shorter, retained a bit of curl at the ends, and thick black lashes framed his eyes.

Rafe Romero – single father, moved back to the island to run his contracting business and care for his mother, reformed local bad boy, he is helpful and caring, wants a woman who wants him and his daughter,

Laney Romero – a delightful and inquisitive girl of five and three-quarters, Rafe’s only child, she requires special care and stays with her grandmother during the day

I can definitely see the realism in Josephine’s relationships with her children, and how it can manifest into Keith’s less-than-stellar choices and Maisey’s need to be away and alone. Rafe was an interesting character, like bad-boy turned modest husband. Laney, though, was my favorite character. She is incredibly cute and knows how to work her dad in the sweetest and most unspoiled of ways.

First Impressions

What Maisey needed most was her father, she realized as she stood at the railing, peering through the passengers crowding the gangway. Breathing in the island air, smelling the salty ocean and wet wood of the wharf, it all reminded her of him.

The novel opens with Maisey returning to Fairham Island to rest, recoup and regroup. It holds the best memories of her life with her father, and the worst with her mother. I foresaw some really ugly scenes between the two Lazarow women.

The idea of walking into Coldiron House – named after Josephine’s father, Henry Coldiron, who’d owned most of the island before Josephine inherited it – brought back a hint of her old defiance.

Second Thoughts

The relationship between Maisey and her brother runs so deep. It is a relationship I understand well, and it has its own complexities that are sometimes unknown to both Maisey and Keith. Maisey has always been Keith’s support when he’s been at his lowest, and even his ugliest. She has faith in him when everyone else has turned their backs on him and given up, but it is hard to continue to provide support and love when it is such a hard and draining relationship.

He seemed to forget his own mistakes almost as soon as he made them, seemed to expect everyone else to disregard the damage he caused. Because of that, and all his other problems, it was impossible to know how to be a good sister to him.

Keith is an interesting character. He has his own set of problems that he has carried with him his entire life, and he is harder to deal with than Josephine sometimes because of his unpredictability. It makes it really hard and puts even more strain on Maisey during her retreat to a safe haven.

She couldn’t even admit how close to despair she really was. She had to stand tall and lead the way, set an example for him. 

At least with Josephine it is easy to predict her motivations and reactions. Maisey has nothing to worry about there until she finds the metal box filled with pictures. Then it’s an entirely different ball game and Maisey isn’t sure of anything anymore. She’s left reeling.

How could she tell anyone the dark suspicions that were creeping to the forefront of her brain? Or that she couldn’t shake various memories of the terrible beatings her brother had received? She could’t say any of that. What she feared was too vile. She’d been shaking on the inside since she’d pried the lid off that metal box.

In all the madness with Josephine and Keith, Maisey is also trying unsuccessfully to avoid Rafe and any of the help he offers her. It comes as a shock to discover he is raising his daughter alone, and he’s doing a pretty good job of it. Rafe is the last person Maisey wants to deal with, besides her mother, but she came to Fairham for a safe haven, and he’s providing it.

Rafe’s relationship with his daughter, Laney, brings all the good things out in him. Laney is a very special little girl, and she requires more care than most, but she is so full of warmth and love that it is impossible not to fall in love with her. She adores her dad and grandma, and takes an immediate liking to Maisey.

Although Josephine and Keith try to put a stop to Maisey’s meddling in the past, afraid of what it might reveal, what she finds is nothing like what they expected.

I loved the relationships of each of the characters with the others, especially at the end of the novel. Laney is the sweetest little girl that captures more than one heart. Rafe is a man who’s made something of his life and is ready to share it with someone special. Keith is at the breaking point in his life and has nothing else to lose. Josephine has a heart under her pristine and collected image. Maisey finds the answers she’s needed to know all along.

I highly recommend this book because of the complexity of the relationships and the story that brings them all together. Since this is the first in a new series, I will definitely be continuing to read about Fairham Island and its goings on.

***** About the Author *****

Novak_Brenda_12_col-300x300New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she’s won The National Reader’s Choice, The Bookseller’s Best, The Bookbuyer’s Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

Five (5) copies of The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak
Ends Aug. 12th

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!