Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt


Title: Rainy Day Sisters
Author: Kate Hewitt
Copyright: August 4, 2015
Genre: fiction, series
Format: ebook  ARC Pages: 368

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Welcome to Hartley-by-the-Sea in England’s beautiful Lake District, where two sisters who meet as strangers find small miracles tucked into the corners of every day….

When Lucy Bagshaw’s life in Boston falls apart, thanks to a scathing editorial written by her famous artist mother, she accepts her half sister Juliet’s invitation to stay with her in a charming seaside village in northern England. Lucy is expecting quaint cottages and cream teas, but instead finds that her sister is an aloof host, the weather is wet, windy, and cold, and her new boss, Alex Kincaid, is a disapproving widower who only hired her as a favor to Juliet.

Despite the invitation she offered, Juliet is startled by the way Lucy catapults into her orderly life. As Juliet faces her own struggles with both her distant mother and her desire for a child, her sister’s irrepressible optimism begins to take hold. With the help of quirky villagers, these hesitant rainy day sisters begin to forge a new understanding…and find in each other the love of family that makes all the difference.

My thoughts:

This is another ARC that I read for review for the publisher. I read the description and knew this would make a great summer read. From the beginning, I was pulled into the story and wanted to know what had happened to Lucy to make her flee Boston.

The setting: I felt drawn to the rich details of this quaint town and landscape. I could almost smell the dampness in the air from the mist and seawater. It added brilliantly to the story build.

The characters: I enjoyed all of the characters in this book from the two main characters, Lucy and Juliet right on to the postmaster. The author created such a great community. It reminded me of Debbie Macomber Blossom Street books. The story is nothing like each other but I feel that Kate Hewitt created and developed a great cast of characters. Each having their own interesting quirks. I found Lucy, a very lovable character and found myself routing for her and her sister Juliette throughout the book. Now when I picked this book I didn’t realize it was the first book in a series. I only actually realized this when I began writing this review and when to pull the summary for this book. So I am actually pleased that it will not be a farewell to the characters I have come to like.

The story:  I found the story interesting. I love stories set in little villages or small towns and I like the idea of the close-knit community. I grew up with 4 sisters and also found I was drawn to a book about sisters. Although I would consider this a light read, the family dynamics explored in this book provided more depth to the story while pushing forward the mystery of the cause for the broken relationship the girls have with their mother.

I also really enjoyed the pacing of the story. Right from the start I wanted to know exactly what caused Lucy to flee Boston. The pacing always allowed for nice story development prior to the reveal of both her and her sister’s complete story. My only criticism is that the pacing towards the end might have been a bit rushed. Not to say that I wasn’t anxious to see how things turned out, but I think when she returned to Boston, the story got a bit rushed in terms of the pacing throughout the story. I quite enjoyed how the author switched back and forth between the main characters to give you a more complete picture of what was going on in the story.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to visiting Hartley-by-the-Sea in the near future once she releases book 2!

For all of my reasons above I gave this book 4 butterflies.


Happy reading!


Belinda’s Book Nook Book Review: Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor


Title: Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home
Author: Jessica Fechtor
Copyright: June 23rd 2015
Genre: non-fiction, memoir
Format: ARC, review-book, e-book Pages: 288

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The beauty of reviewing for publishers is that I can select books that I think I would enjoy reading. When I saw the description for this book a few months ago, I knew it was a book for me. As I am getting older, I am finding I am focusing more energy on my health and what I put into my body. This book sounded like a remarkable true story that I felt might inspire me to continue to strive towards health.

What I found out was I quickly fell for the format of this book. Jessica oh so nicely weaves the most scrumptous recipes into her story that it seemed natural.  I found myself anxiously waited to see what yummy recipe she would share at the end of each chapter. It seems so fitting that her book would do this, for you instantly see the importance food, family and friends play in her life. At such a young age, she really seems to be wise beyond her years. She didn’t allow this awful event in her life to prevent her from seeing a new path and embracing it.

Being sick is suppose to come along with grand realizations about What Really Matters, but I don’t know. I think deep down, we’re already aware of what is important and what’s not…. we know. We just forget to know sometimes.

She talks about how near death experiences force us into a state of what she calls aggressive gratitude and how the big and the small come to the forefront and we are just grateful to be around to experience them. It reminds you to be in the present moment. This not to say that she had no worries which are from the past or future. But that we are meant to work through things while still being present.

Her descriptions of her interactions with food whether preparing a meal or hosting friends at her home for dinner, were Zen-like. She truly is in the moment of the experience.

I feel inspired by her to recapture my love of cooking and baking. I think somewhere between drop off, pick up, homework, and all of the other day to day things I have lost my joy with food preparation. While doing my recent cleanse, I felt a bit of that spark only for it to back away again now that I have completed the cleanse. This book pulls you into the present and makes you re-examine yourself in the process. It does a lovely job of exploring  her beautiful relationships with friends and family while keeping me the reader fully engaged.

I managed to copy several recipes out of the book and will definitely giving them a try.  Here is a list of a few that caught my eye:

  • Kim Boyce Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Louise’s Applie Pie
  • Whole Wheat Banana Bread
  • Italian Prune Plum Tart

Jessica has a well established food blog that I implore you to visit. You won’t regret it. Her blog is called Sweet Amandine

I really enjoyed this book and think you will two. I am giving it 4 1/2 butterflies. I hate that Goodreads doesn’t have half stars so I was forced to give it 4 stars there. I think this is a great book that explores many topics and leaves you feeling filled with joy.

Happy Reading!



Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World by Carrie Morgridge



Title: Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World
Author: Carrie Morgridge with John Perry
Copyright: May 5, 2015
Genre: non-fiction, reference
Format: e-book for review Pages: 184

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Charitable giving is on the rise in America. Despite the lingering effects of the economic downturn, Americans continue to give generously of their time, talent, and money – more than $335 billion in 2013, a 4.4% increase from 2011. What’s more, the bulk of that charitable giving – 72% – came not from large foundations or corporations, but from individuals making small gifts. For those with passion for a cause and a generous spirit, it’s vitally important that they leverage their gift in the right way in order to have the greatest impact possible.

In her first book EVERY GIFT MATTERS (Greenleaf; May 2015), Carrie Morgridge shares inspiring stories of powerful gifts in action showing readers how to turn the act of giving into a vehicle for positive change. Drawing on 15 years of experience supporting causes that align with her passions through gifts, Morgridge demonstrates how a smart strategy, high expectations, a deep network, and hands-on personal involvement will ensure that one’s gift is compounded over time to have the biggest impact possible.

My Thoughts:

In addition to my regular reading I now have begun to review books for publishing companies.  Most of the books I receive have not been released for the general public.  You can rest assured, I will in no way alter my reviews with this privilege of receiving ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). I will always give my honest review good or bad.

As you all may know, this year I have been educating myself on more effective ways of charitable giving.  I have given to charities in the past but not really felt the connection nor did I know if my money made a difference.  So when I saw this book, I knew I had to review it. I recently had a conversation with a family member and when I talked about some of the charities I am passionate about and expressed my plans to donate, I received the same skepticism I hear over and over.  That much of the money doesn’t even go to the recipients/cause it goes to the administration.  I proceeded to tell them that with anything else, it is important to do your research to ensure that doesn’t happen.  I now wonder if this is the reason so many don’t donate or is it a convenient excuse to forget about others in need. Maybe a little of both sometimes.  I know I am cautious but refrain from being cynical about charitable giving.

Every Gift Matters, is a great book to read if you are planning on charitable giving whether through time or money. I enjoyed it because it had a good bit of instruction on how to approach giving which I feel is important. I think it can help provide readers with a structure to create their own charitable giving. I like stuff like that. It makes it a good reference book with lists of questions to think about to help formulate your giving plan. So if you are like me and like to have pre-defined lists to help you get started this book does share some of that. I found myself highlighting to put in my own plan.

One very important thing that the author tries to convey throughout the book is that you should align your charitable giving with your passions.  Her passion is with education particularly with disadvantaged children. She provides a look at her journey to charity and then through a large list of opportunities that she has invested in with her foundation. A large portion of the book focuses on examples of her giving and the results from them. Towards the end, I did think that for some that don’t share the her passion for educational charitable giving and say for example maybe they have a passion for the environment, might wish they could see more variety. But the author is sharing her experience which can be applied to others’ passions (environment, animal right, etc.).

What I loved is the many programs and resources that she has included in her examples. I found myself keeping a list of all these organizations to look into after I completed the book.

I really enjoyed hearing her stories and the connections she has had with all the people rather than just giving and walking away, she has connected with so many people in so many special ways that it is refreshing.  It’s a good counter to all the cynicism surrounding giving.

An important point that she makes and reiterates is that you don’t have to have a foundation and donate large sums of money. Every gift matters. That it’s all the small gifts that make the difference. As long as you find your passion, make the connection to charities that share your values, do the research, talk with the people who work there then you will make profound differences in the world.

I would recommend this book which is now available and will definitely be using her advice in my endeavors. I  give it four butterflies.

Happy Reading!




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