Wednesday, June 28, 2023

In a Nutshell Reviews


In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

This Is How It Started
Published by Lyrical Press on February 7, 2023
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

No marriage is perfect, but in Rachel Ackermann’s eyes, hers came close. From the very start, her love story with Josh was wonderful. There’s just one problem with stories: no matter how great the beginning, there’s also an ending. For Rachel and Josh, it comes suddenly and far too soon.

Trying to move on without Josh feels impossible, and it’s tempting for Rachel to cocoon in the dark with the reminders of the life they should have shared. But her quirky, sometimes exasperating family won’t let that happen, and as Rachel is nudged back into the sunlight, she uncovers a trove of surprising secrets—and an opportunity to save a family legacy—and maybe save herself in the process.

But it will mean forging an unexpected alliance with her late father’s unpopular young “trophy wife.” And then there’s Rachel’s renewed bond with Campbell Scott, the boy who another lifetime ago broke her heart. Just when Rachel thinks she’s got everything figured out, she learns that in between beginnings and endings lie new chapters.

What a beautiful story! It began with the loss of Rachel’s husband, and oh, how I felt her pain! But I could feel it bubbling. I could feel the heartwarming part coming, and by the end of the book, my heart was bursting!

I tend to enjoy grief stories. Not because I want to see the characters in pain, but rather, I get comfort from their healing journeys. Rachel’s journey was a tough one, but it was filled with so much self discovery and change. When we are happy, we don’t tend to analyze the things that are not working in our lives. Rachel was in love with her husband and content in her life, but once he was gone, she realized there was room for change. It was fantastic seeing her finally find her calling and her independence. I also delighted in the relationship she built with her stepmother.

This my first experience with Finz’s work, and it was amazing the way she had me crying and than laughing within a single page. This book was so lovely, warm, and hopeful, and it left me with so much sunshine in my heart.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen 
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 20, 2015
Age/Genres: Adult, Enchanted Realism, Fiction

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves...

It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley's Candies. Though her handcrafted confections-rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds-are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby- a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney's daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to...if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It's where the real story begins.

I adored Garden Spells so much and did not hesitate to dive back into this world. Needless to say, it was a delight to reunite with the Waverley clan. At the end of the last book, so many wonderful things were just beginning. The sisters found their way back to each other, and they both found love as well.

In First Frost, the story begins ten years later. Both sisters are happily married and enjoying success, but something is brewing. That something seems to be tied to the apple tree. I liked that this book dug deeper into the tree and how its lifecycle affects the Waverley women. I learned more about their mother and other interesting bits of their family history which I quite enjoyed as well.

First Frost showcased all the things I adored about its predecessor, however, I would have loved a bit more at the end. It felt somewhat unfinished, and as this is the last book, I cannot overlook that. Still, it was a treat to be back in this world, and I loved catching up with the Waverley family.

Do you have a secret family recipe for anything?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. Its always such a delight when you read a book and it ends up captivating your emotions so well. Glad you had such a great time with these here.

    Lovely reviews!

    1. That's such a requirement for me. I want to feel

  2. First Frost really was a joy to read just being back with the family. I'm glad you loved it.

    1. It was nice to catch up. I wish there had been another book because the very end seemed like the start of something. But, it was lovely nonetheless

  3. Sam is really First Frost published in 2025 or is it a mistake?

    1. Look at me, reading books from the future. It was 2015

  4. These both sound so lovely! I've never read anything by either of these authors but I do have a copy of Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen that I want to read this year.

    1. Other Birds was the book that made me hit up Allen's backlist. I hope you get to read it.

  5. I'm hoping to give Sarah Addison Allen a try real soon!

    1. Didn't I see you had Other Birds on deck? So good

  6. I haven't read either of these books, but glad to see you loved both of them.