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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Monday, September 3, 2018

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

Paperback480 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Berkley Books

What They Say.....New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom.  Now, in her newest novel, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance. 
 Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.  
 For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life.  For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.
 But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.
 A novel of compassion and insight, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

What I Say....I've been MIA lately. I haven't blogged in over a month.  What have I been doing with my time?  Oh, nothing big.  Just examining my life.  NBD.
This has been quite a year.  Many blessings have come my way.  Things that I have prayed for have come to pass.  But all change, even the most exciting, positive change, is change.  And sometimes it makes you re-examine your life and who you thought you were.

So, in this middle of my own soul searching, I began reading Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins.  Emerson, Georgia and Marley became friends during a yearly fat camp.  Marley and Georgia have stayed close, even becoming roommates,  Emerson has stayed in her family home, even after her mother died.

Emerson has a weigh problem.  A true problem, and she copes by staying in her house, even employing a sour faced cousin that doesn't treat her very well.  But she is excited to suddenly find herself a boyfriend, even if her cousin doesn't approve.

Emerson's physical health becomes impacted by her new boyfriend - I won't give any spoilers.  Marley and Georgia are struggling with the guilt that they may not have made enough time for Emerson, along with worrying about what is missing in their own lives.  Although they have both been professionally successful, they are still struggling with self esteem and the impact that it has on their romantic lives.

I've read several Kristan Higgins books, and they've all been good, but this one was a little more serious than I expected.  But it was eye opening, and made me look closer at my own life.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Story After Us by Fiona Perrin

What They Say.....If she tries very hard, Ami can remember when she used to have a dynamic and exciting career and a husband who she loved more than life itself, and who was equally smitten with her...

Now she has two children, a terrifyingly large mortgage, and no idea who she has become - or why she and her husband can't even be in the same room anymore.

With life as she knew it in tatters around her, Ami is heartbroken, and in no way pulling off 'consciously uncoupling' like a celeb. But she's starting to wonder if she just might come out the other side and be... happier?

What I Say....I seem to be on a breakup/divorce kick in my reading right now.  But I'm always up for a debut novel, so I grabbed The Story After Us and went down the road of heartbreak again.

Ami has been unhappy for a while.  While she and Lars used to be madly in love, daily life, bills and small children seem to have robbed them of any of the magic they felt in their first years.  Lars is a workaholic, chasing financial security that seems to be more important to him than participating in his family.

Amelia has turned into the stereotypical shrewish wife, nagging when he's gone, then yelling when he's home.  The kids are nervous and unsure of their parents, and Ami's business is struggling.

But she's still shocked and devastated when Lars says he wants a divorce and walks out the door.  Having  a traveling husband is hard enough, having a traveling ex-husband is more than she was ready for.

The thing I liked about this book was that it didn't go for the fairy tale marriage ending.  It was pretty real and a little gritty in the early days of their separation, but then it did go for the fairy tale of work success and new romance.  This would be the dream of every newly divorced woman, but it seldom works that way.  

Ami didn't have a perfect divorce, but parts of it were pretty close.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Cottage on Sunshine Beach by Holly Martin

What They Say....The stunning new summer story from the bestselling author of Summer at Buttercup Beach. Step into the delightful seaside village of Sandcastle Bay, where you’ll discover golden sand, welcoming smiles and an unforgettable romance…

Melody Rosewood loves her new home in idyllic Sandcastle Bay. The beautiful little cottage on the edge of Sunshine Beach, with its bright yellow door and view of the sea has captured her heart. And she loves being close by to her family and best friend Tori Graham

Life by the sea is pretty much perfect, there’s just one thing missing…

Gorgeous Jamie Jackson, with his cheeky grin and adorable puppy, works as a sculptor opposite Melody’s jewellery shop. From the moment he and Melody meet sparks fly. But despite their instant attraction, a past heartache is holding Jamie back.

As Melody starts to make a life for herself in the close-knit, quirky seaside community, she realises Jamie could be the one for her. But as the two of them take a chance on romance, it’s one dating disaster after another. Are they destined to always be just good friends? 

Or will Melody finally find her happily-ever-after in Sandcastle Bay?

What I Say.....Just a relaxing, feel good book.  Holly Martin's books are such a great escape.

Melody moves to Sandcastle Bay to be near her sister, who is busy raising her nephew.  Her best friend, Tori lives close by, having found love in the little village.

Melody is crushing hard on Jamie, the sculptor in the shop across from hers, but they are both so shy around each other, it seems like they will never move forward.

I blame Holly Martin and Jill Mansell on my continued single state.  I keep waiting for true love to just appear in front of me.  They make it seem so easy!  But even if it doesn't improve my love life, a Holly Martin book always improves my weekend!