Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Where We Belong by Shann McPherson (VBT: Book Review)

In association with HarperCollins Publishers, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Where We Belong by author Shann McPherson!

Book Review

Where We Belong by Shann McPherson
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: February 21, 2020
Format: Kindle - 1120 KB / 384 pages
               Nook - 2 MB / 384 pages
ISBN: 978-0008381967
BNID: 978-0008381967
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from HarperCollins Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event. 

Book Description:

An emotional, compelling page-turner from your next romance obsession, Shann McPherson, about the power of friendship and finding love where you least expect it.

When Alice ‘Murph’ Murphy’s beloved mother died, she promised to keep the family bakery in Graceville, Georgia afloat—even if it meant letting her high-school sweetheart, Nash Harris, go. For years, Murph has been biding her time, waiting for Nash to come back for her.

So when he strolls into Piece O’ Cake, Murph’s heart skips a beat—until he hands her an invitation to his wedding… There are painful secrets in both their pasts that only the two of them share, and Murph can’t bear the thought of Nash belonging to someone else.

There’s only one thing Murph can think of to do: fake a relationship with local bar owner and old friend Harley Shaw to remind Nash of what he’s losing, and win him back for good.

Nash is Murph’s best friend, a vivid reminder of her childhood and all the things she’s lost—but the more time Murph and Harley spend together, the more the lines between real and pretend begin to blur. Can Murph choose between the one who got away and the one who never left—and heal her aching heart? 

Book Excerpt:

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, Where We Belong, author Shann McPherson weaves a lighthearted romantic tale of friendship, love and second chances.

Set in Graceville, Georgia, the reader is easily drawn into this entertaining story as they follow three best friends as they navigate the trials and tribulations of life and love.

Alice "Murph" Murphy, Nash Harris, and Harley Shaw have been best friends since the age of nine. They've been through thick and thin, but for Murph, Nash has been her everything: first crush, first kiss, first love. As childhood sweethearts, Murph thought that their love would last forever, but life got in the way, and changed everything in their relationship. They went to NYU together, but when Murph got the call that her mom had Stage 4 Breast Cancer, she came home to Graceville to take care of her dying mom, and to run their bakery, Piece O' Cake. When her mom died within six months, Murph took over running the bakery, while her relationship with Nash came to an end because of the long distance between them.

Five years later, Murph's bakery is doing well, and she still holds out hope that she and Nash will find their way back to each other when he finishes medical school. When Nash unexpectedly shows up at the bakery, Murph thought that he came home to her, but alas, he's come to give her an invitation to his wedding, and if that wasn't bad enough, he wants her to make the wedding cake! Shocked and completely heartbroken, Murph is determined to win back his heart at any cost. So with a week to put her plan in motion, Murph fabricates a story that she and Harley are a couple just to make Nash jealous, and engages in an all-out plan that is filled with enough crazy antics that brings out her inner-psycho! So what's a girl to do when she finds herself in a twisted love triangle? Should she give up on her lost love, move forward with her life, and maybe get a chance to realize that true love has been under her nose the whole time?

Where We Belong easily keeps the reader engaged as they follow Murph's story. Told in the first person narrative by Murph, the reader follows along as Murph struggles to accept that Nash has moved on, and slowly comes to realize that the true love of her life has been in her corner the whole time. There was a great mixture of emotion, drama, angst, humor, and crazy antics mixed in this story. The author does a great job of describing the history of the childhood friendships between Murph, Nash, and Harley, especially with the flashbacks to their childhood memories throughout the story. You can't help but feel compassion for Murph as she faces the changes in her relationships with Nash and Harley, finds unexpected love, and discovers herself along the way.

Where We Belong is a heartfelt story that has enough emotional depth, drama, romance, comedy, and witty banter, that makes it a delightfully entertaining debut romantic tale that romance fans will certainly enjoy!


About The Author

With big dreams of being a published author since she was an eleven-year-old girl writing Beverly Hills 90210 fan fiction before fan fiction was even a thing, Shann McPherson has been writing angsty, contemporary romances for most of her thirty-something years. Living in sunny Queensland, Australia, when she’s not writing Shann enjoys making memories with her husband and cheeky toddler son, drinking wine, and singing completely off-key to One Direction’s entire discography.

Amazon Author Page
HarperCollins Publisher - Author Page

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

It Happened In Tuscany by Gail Mencini (Book Review)

It Happened In Tuscany by Gail Mencini
Book 2: Tuscany Series
Publisher: Capriole Group
Publication Date: PB - February 11. 2020 / eBook - February 18. 2020
Format: Paperback - 408 Pages
               Audiobook - 9 Hours 32 Minutes
               Kindle - 6474 KB / 317 Pages
               Nook: 6 MB
ISBN: 978-1938592157
ASIN (Audiobook): B084P9VM75
ASIN (Kindle): B082J4HLRF
BNID: 2940162771371
Genre: Historical Fiction

Buy The Book:

Buy The Tuscany Series:
Book 1: To Tuscany With Love
Book 2: It Happened In Tuscany

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

From the multiple-award-winning author of To Tuscany with Love comes a captivating story of the epic tug of war between honor and duty, the irrepressible power of love, and the concept of family.

In 1945, Will Mills and his fellow soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division scaled Italy’s treacherous Riva Ridge in the frigid night to break through the nearly impenetrable German line of defense. Severely wounded, Will was rescued by Italian partisans and one, a beautiful girl, tended his injuries until he had the strength to rejoin the U.S. troops.

Tormented and haunted by his decisions and actions during wartime, Will knows he has unfinished missions in Italy to complete. The passage of time and years of carrying this unfulfilled need have molded Will into a bitter, angry man.

Seventy-five years later, Will’s spunky thirty-two-year-old neighbor, Sophie Sparke, faces disaster in her life. Everything is going wrong—her job, her love life, even her dog. Part of the problem is that confident and fiercely independent Sophie lets her quick mouth get her into trouble.

Grouchy, mean-spirited Will finagles Sophie into traveling with him to Tuscany to find the partisan who saved his life. Will also secretly hopes to confront the demons his wartime actions created. Sophie and Will comb enchanting Tuscan hill towns on an improbable and unfolding mission with few clues to aid them. Will’s passionate tenacity drives their quest and in the process exposes their darkest secrets. The journey alters the course of their lives, and Will and Sophie find more than they had imagined in the hills of Tuscany.

My Book Review:

In It Happened In Tuscany, author Gail Mencini weaves an intriguing historical fiction tale that follows the emotional journey of an unlikely pair in the scenic hill towns of Tuscany.

On February 18, 1945, seventeen year old Army Specialist Will Mills is part of the elite 86th Regiment - 10th Mountain Division from Colorado, who are faced with the challenge of attacking the Germans on Riva Ridge, on Italy's Apennine Mountains. Will is injured from sniper fire during the attack, and a group of Italian partisans (resistance fighters) rescued him. Will falls in love with Francesca Polvani, the young Italian girl who tended to his injuries. At the end of the war, Will ships home to Denver, where he meets and marries his wife Marie, but a letter and photo from Francesca arrives a year later, leaving Will with unfinished business. Seventy-five years later, Will's wife Marie passes away from Alzheimer's disease, and at the age of ninety-one, Will is determined to return to Italy in search of Francesca.

Thirty-two year old Sophie Sparke's ex-boyfriend Russ Grant has dumped her for another woman, and to make matters worse, his father who is also Sophie's boss, wants her to make travel arrangements for Russ' honeymoon. Sophie refuses to make the travel arrangements and quits her job. Left with no job and no future plans, Sophie's elderly neighbor, crotchety Will Mills, gets her to agree to accompany him on his journey to Italy.

Written in the third person narrative, this is a wonderful story that transports the reader to the panoramic beauty of the Italian countryside of Tuscany, where Will and Sophie embark on an impossible journey to find Francesca. The reader is easily drawn into this captivating story of love, family, friendship, secrets, fears, and determination. The author masterfully interweaves Will's life story that alternates between the past and the present, providing the reader with snapshots from his time in Italy during World War II, while also giving the reader a glimpse into Sophie's story as well.

This is a compelling and realistic story that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and provides much food for thought. The story ultimately shows the power and bond of love, family, and friendship comes full circle when Will and Sophie embark on an emotional journey through Tuscany in search of Will's past love seventy-five years later. You can't help but root for this unlikely pair as they search through Tuscany's countryside for Francesca, it is not an easy journey, but it is a story that will have the reader feeling the gamut of emotions.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the stunning description of the Italian setting of Tuscany. The author provides the reader with a richly vivid setting that reads like a tourist guide. From large cities to panoramic countrysides to old world hill towns; to guided tours of cultural historical sites and quaint shops; the author does a phenomenal job of describing the sights, sounds and smells of Italy. You can't help but feel like you are with Will and Sophie as their journey provides them a chance to rediscover themselves and heal from the traumas of their pasts.

At the end of the book, the author has provided the reader with a collection of simple Italian (Tuscany) recipes that are absolutely mouthwatering!

It Happened In Tuscany is a touching story that captures the power of love, the bond of family, the essence of friendship, and the ability to heal from life's experiences. It is a heartwarming story that will resonate long after the last page has been read.

It Happened In Tuscany is the second book in the Tuscany series.


About The Author

Gail Mencini made her literary debut with To Tuscany with Love (January 2014, Capriole Group) an adult coming-of-age novel set in central Italy.

Born in rural Nebraska, Mencini graduated with honors in 1976 from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where she majored in accounting, economics and business administration. She holds a Master of Laws of Taxation degree from the University of Denver College of Law.

Mencini co-owned an accounting firm and practiced for 15 years in public accounting, specializing in tax law related to mergers and acquisitions and real estate. She also spent time in the higher education field, working as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado and Metro State College, as well as the University of Denver College of Law. She was a repeat speaker at national continuing education seminars and a featured presenter in a real estate conference in the Caribbean.

In 1990 when she married her husband, Mencini became an “instant mother” of three boys plus another son two years later, which opened the doors to becoming a full-time mother and igniting her long-time passion for creative arts, gourmet cooking and traveling.

She went on to become a contributing editor and photojournalist for Buzz in the ‘Burbs, writing monthly cooking columns featuring dinner themes, recipes and complementary wine suggestions. She also served as interim director of marketing for Wine Master Cellars as the company transitioned to new leadership. She has been a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for nearly 20 years as well as the Pikes Peak Writers for over 10. She most recently joined Author U based in Aurora, Colo.

She writes and cooks in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and family who are always ready to critique her abundance of story ideas and recipes.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page