Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Two Reviews in One: Aria's Traveling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin and The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

I decided to review two books in one post this week. I was cruising along, reading at a good clip and somehow over the weekend hit a snag. However, some time at home (and I'll confess, a few late nights) had me finishing two books on my September list. 

First is Aria's Traveling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin. This is a sequel to Rosie's Traveling Tea Shop (read my review here), but definitely isn't really necessary to read it before this one. 

We find Aria and Rosie getting ready to take their campers to France so travel the fete and festival circuit. Aria's camper is chock full of books to sell, while Rosie (a former chef), creates delicious British treats to sell, along with specialty teas that often compliment Aria's books. 

Aria is a young widower, and has firmly shut her heart to any possibility of ever falling in love again. She had her true love, and no one can match it. However, there is Jonathan; a quiet, handsome, and bookish man Aria has one magical encounter with at a music festival. Now it's months later, and Aria runs into Jonathan again, just as she's about to leave for France. Can she open her heart to let Jonathan in, or will she lose him to someone else? 

This novel is all about grief, putting closure on painful memories, and opening up your heart to live and love again. It's also fun to see Rosie and Max and what's in store for them. I hope there is at least one more in this series so I can see where Aria and Jonathan are in the near future. Entertaining, clean (no sex scenes), likable characters. An uplifting novel about the best of friends and, of course, adventure. 

This novel was on my highly-anticipated list! 

And, as per usual, once I got it, I dithered about reading it. It's not a long book, but it took me a few weeks to finish it. I kept finding myself waiting for the big grab, and it just wasn't happening, which annoyed me to no end. However, the big grab did happen at nearly the end of the novel--and that was a really big grab! I love Heather Webber, and while I enjoyed this novel, it wasn't my favorite of the three I've read. 

Sadie Way Scott has to return to her hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, after her mother has a cardiac incident. Sadie's sister Leala Claire lives in Sugarberry and decides to stay at the B&B their mother runs in order to keep it open and help out. Sadie and Leala haven't gotten along very well for the past eight years, after Sadie's near fatal dive into the magical lake just outside her mother's B&B. Sadie, under water for fifteen minutes, miraculously survives and comes out of the lake with silver, sparkling hair. 

It's not the only change to Sadie, however. She leaves Sugarberry Cove and begins a successful career as a digital storyteller. Now reluctantly, she's back at the one place she never wanted to return to. Family dynamics are really at play in this novel about two sisters, their mother, and the grief and tragedy that changed their lives. Mom Susannah is behind in her bills, and the B&B is looking shaggy. Sadie and Leala decide to help spruce it up in hopes of bringing back business. Will Susannah object? 

While Sadie and Leala are staying at the B&B, so many other players arrive: Teddy and her niece Bree, Uncle Camp, Iona (a potential subject for Sadie's storytelling series), Leala's husband Connor and son Tucker, and neighbor Buzzy. There's a lot of back story to go through with all of these characters, and that's part of the unfolding of the story. The Lady of the Lake saved Sadie that long ago night; will her magic save the family again as they navigate big changes? 

I'd love to stay at this B&B; it sounds heavenly. The myth of the Lady of the Lake is a big driver in this tale, and doesn't disappoint. I think I just got stuck a bit on the drama between the sisters and their mom. But the characters are all fully developed and charming, and misunderstandings are resolved once people are brave enough to speak up and make their wishes known. This novel is about family dynamics, not giving up on dreams, and of course, love. 

I enjoyed both novels and they hit the spot for my September comfort reads. Both novels are a 4/6 on my scale. 

Available in paperback and hardcover, audio and ebook. 

If you're looking for gentle reads, or comfort reads with likable characters, issues that are resolved in a believable way, and of course some beautiful scenery and delish food, either of these books would fit the bill. Love both of these authors. 

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