Wednesday, July 15, 2020

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

What They Say......Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.

But she wasn’t always that way.  
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen. 
But he wasn’t always that way.  

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before—at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him—but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school—and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love—which is the riskiest move of all.  

What I Say.... 

I love Katherine Center's books, I've always been a fan.  See, The Bright Side of DisasterHow to Walk AwayEveryone is Beautiful.  She's writes books that relax me to read and on occasion, make me cry.  

So I was excited to get a chance to read her newest book.  Sam is a librarian, she embraces life, and lives big in her small town.  Her school is her home and her coworkers and students her family.  She's left love behind - the man she loved never even knew she was alive. 

Then he shows up.  Her lost love, but he's lost his color, his joy, his love of life.  And Sam is afraid he's going to draw all of the color out of hers.  Duncan has been involved in a tragedy at work, and although he's still physically healing, he's not emotionally healing at all.  

I liked this book because it brought forth some very topical issues.  How do we balance being cautious in today's world with how do we live without fear, and embrace joy?  

My one bit of feedback is that at times Sam didn't feel real - real like other characters have in Center's books.  She was trying too hard with her wardrobe, her "uniqueness", it was like she was trying to become Duncan, but it didn't quite fit.  It kept making me realize I was reading a book and she wasn't real, which is so unusual for this author.  Usually I fall right into her character's world.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

Paperback318 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

What They Say.....Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended.

She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge.

A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries. As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.

What I Say....This was a book that felt pretty timely in our current world.  True crime is one of my favorite genres and there are so many great documentaries, podcasts, and news stories out there.  It was interesting to read a book where the main character is the creator of this type of entertainment.

There were a lot of interesting twists and turns in this book.  Tessa has an uneasy relationship with her sister for unshared reasons, but they now have a home left to them by their estranged mother.

Tess helps to free a man she believes was wrongfully accused of murder.  But once he's out, Tess moves onto her next project and loses touch with him.  It's interesting to see the impact of a man who was wrongfully accused trying to reacclimate to the world that has moved on from him, trying to catch up to all of his missing years - unsuccessfully.  This pressure leads him to kill again and Tessa is devastated.  She wants nothing more than to escape.

But Tessa doesn't have anywhere to go.  She's not speaking to her sister - or rather, her sister isn't speaking to her, and her mother has died.  But when they find out their mother was adopted and has now left them a crumbling creepy house, it seems like the perfect place to escape to.  

Of course what crumbling house with a murderous past would be complete without two creepy sisters who are the caretakers?  Deidre and Kitty live in a cabin on the property, and are just spooky enough to both scare and comfort Tess.

I always love the past-present style of writing, but in this book, I liked the story of the past much more than the story of the present.  That was much more interesting than the bickering between Margot and Tessa.  Overall, I give this book four stars - the gothic past was just much more interesting than the present.  

Current Goodreads Rating 4.27

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

A Happy Catastrophe by Maddie Dawson

What They Say....Marnie MacGraw and Patrick Delaney have been in love for a few years now, enough to realize that they are imperfectly perfect together. Still, there are some things that maybe need a little attention. Marnie’s ebullient; he’s brooding. She thrives on change; he prefers stability. She sees marriage and parenthood in their future, but he can’t see beyond the shadow of an earlier tragedy.
Then an eight-year-old surprise from Patrick’s past shows up on their doorstep, cartwheeling into their lives and spinning things in all directions. While it’s not exactly the change she envisioned, it looks like instant family to Marnie. But Patrick, afraid of being hurt again, retreats further into himself. Suddenly, two very different pieces of a beautiful puzzle find it harder and harder to fit. How can Marnie trust in the magic of the universe when it seems to be doing its best to knock her off her feet?
But some love stories are worth waiting for. And what’s love without a little chaos anyway?

What I Say.....I haven't book blogged in over a year.  Not because I haven't read any fabulous books, but more because my mind just wasn't in it.  Too much work stress, too much family stress, I just wanted to hibernate when I was home alone.  But as I've crawled out of my depression cave, I kept thinking that there were books I wanted to talk about.  
I picked this book off of NetGalley because I've read and loved Maddie Dawson's books.  I'm not sure exactly what happened with this book, but somehow when I downloaded it, I ended up starting it about halfway through.  And I couldn't figure out how we had gotten to this kid being there and the dad being so withdrawn, and a divorce seeming imminent.  They kept referring to things that had happened and I thought I just missed something.  But I was quickly drawn in even with the weirdness of the disjointed story.
Talk about living your life being distracted!  When I finished the book, I went back to the beginning to see if this was a sequel - and found out that yes, it was a sequel, but I had also missed at least half of the book.
Anyways.....I actually enjoyed going back to the beginning and starting the book knowing the ending, although it seemed anticlimactic.  One of the best things about Dawson's books is that you never know how they are going to end - they aren't formulaic. 

I love an awkward kid story, and Fritzie certainly fills that need for me.  As she drops (is dumped) into Patrick and Marnie's life, she's a little untamed, verbally expressive and very uncertain about why she suddenly has a dad, and one who doesn't seem to want to get to know her.  

Patrick and Marnie are total opposites, and while Patrick recoils from the connection, Marie dives headfirst into mom-hood and love for all of Fritzie's ways.  

Marnie is also full of empathy and compassion for Patrick's ghosts, but she's not okay with him not wanting kids with her, and she's definitely not okay with him emotionally distancing from a little girl who needs more from than he night be able to give.

I moved right into Matchmaking for Beginners, (it's $1.99 on Kindle right now) which was the first book about Patrick and Marnie - and I suggest you do it the right way, start there and then go to Happy Catastrophes, which right now is $4.69 on Kindle - total bargain!

This was the weirdest way to read two books, but it worked out, and I continue to be hooked on Maddie Dawson and all of the feelings that her books bring!  Give them a try, I'd love to know what you think.  

Current Goodreads Rating is 4.0

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

What They Say.....On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.

Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.

What I Say.....I loved Diane Setterfield's first two books, especially The 13th Tale.  Her last book, Bellman & Black was published in 2013, and since I hadn't seen anything else, this author just kind of faded from my mind.  But when I started reading the description of this book, I was taken in just by that and didn't even realize it was Diane Setterfield until I was studying the front cover.

This was very different from her other books, and really unique reading.  When a girl is found in the river, brought to a local inn by a stranger, who himself is severely injured, it would seem that he either belongs to her, or that someone in the village would know who she was.  It's not everyday that a toddler just goes missing.  

But apparently in this village, there are multiple toddler girls missing or unidentified.  The little girl can't or won't speak and doesn't seem to be particularly drawn to any of the families.  So who does she belong to?  Who should she belong to?  No one in the village can agree on these questions.

This book read like it was being drawn by a very talented storyteller.  It actually made me feel like I would have preferred to hear it on Audible, if it had the right narrator. And I've NEVER said that about any book.

This is a book to curl up with under a blanket on a cold day.  You'll think about it long after it's over.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.23

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Coming Home to Maple Cottage by Holly Martin

What They Say.......This utterly addictive new novel from bestselling author Holly Martin will make you smile until your cheeks hurt, sob tears of pure joy and fall head over heels in love with a totally unforgettable romance… 

Isla Rosewood is creating a new life for herself and her sweet nephew Elliot in their cosy, yellow-brick family cottage, brimming with special memories. Living in Sandcastle Bay was never part of Isla’s plan but, after her brother Matthew’s tragic accident, her whole world changed as she unexpectedly became a mother to the little boy she adores so much. 

Leo Jackson was always known as Matthew’s fun-loving and wild best friend. But now Matthew is gone, it’s time to put his colourful past behind him. His role as Elliot’s godfather is the most important thing to him. And even though Leo and Isla are two very different people, they both want to give Elliot the childhood he deserves. 

As the three of them enjoy time together watching fireworks, baking cakes and collecting conkers, Isla begins to see a softer side to charming Leo, with his twinkling eyes and mischievous sense of humour. And, despite herself, she begins to fall for him. 

But does Leo feel the same way? Isla knows their situation is complicated but is it too complicated for true love… or will the year end with a happy new beginning for them all? 

A glorious, feel-good romance that will make you want to snuggle up under a warm blanket with a hot chocolate and the one you love. If you enjoy reading Sarah Morgan, Jenny Oliver and Lucy Diamond this book is for you.

What I Say....When life is too serious, too busy, too hard, Holly Martin's books are the perfect medicine to help you relax.

This was the third book in the Sandcastle Bay series and while The Holiday Cottage By the Sea was my favorite in this trilogy, I still enjoyed Coming Home to Maple Cottage.  

Isla and Leo are meant to be together if only Leo can overcome his low self-esteem and guilt over his best friends death.  Isla doesn't want to be the objector Leo's pity, she wants to be the object of his affection.

But right now, she has even bigger problems - she hoping to adopt her nephew, and his estranged mother has suddenly shown up.  She only wants the money for the house that Luke left, but Isla is terrified that she will want to take Elliott away from her.

Leo will do anything to protect Isla and Elliott, even if it means losing everything he loves.

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