Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Starting Over on Blackberry Lane: My Quick Review



About the Book:

Stefanie Stahl has a husband with renovation ADD. He can't seem to finish anything he starts and her house is littered with his "projects." If he doesn't smarten up, she swears she's going to murder him and bury him under the pile of scrounged lumber in the backyard.  

Her friend Griffin James is suddenly single and thinking maybe she needs to sell her fixer-upper and follow her career bliss up the ladder of success, even if that scary ladder is clear across the country. Getting her place ready to sell proves harder than she originally thought. She needs help.  

She's not the only one. Cass Wilkes, their neighbor, has an empty nest—with a leaking roof. When her ceiling crashes in, she knows it's time to do something. When Grant Masters offers his handyman services at a fund-raiser auction, the three women go in together to outbid the competition and win their man. (Cass's friends think she should win Grant in a different way, too!) Now it's time to make some improvements…in their houses and their lives.

My Comments:

If the blurb above sounds a little like a soap opera, that's because this book is a little like a soap opera with characters from other books making appearances so we can keep up with them (if we can remember them) and with the main characters going though all sorts contortions before true love can happen.  

If what you want is a light afternoon read with no deeper meaning, this fits the bill. 

Thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy via NetGalley. Grade:  B-

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: Before the Rain Falls



About the Book:

After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar. She’s free from confinement—and ready to tell her secrets before it’s too late.

She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears. He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who’s visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens. Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as “Port of Regret.” But they don’t anticipate how their lives will be changed forever.

Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.

My Comments:

I loved it, until the very end.  I still enjoyed it, but somehow the motivation for the event that set others into motion just didn't ring true. I'd discuss it further but that would be a spoiler. 

Camille Di Maio is a Catholic writer but while there are references to Catholicism in the book, and an element of Catholicism was a prime mover in this book, I don't really see this book as religious or Christian fiction.  There are no conversion scenes and religious faith does not seem to be a motivating factor for any character's behavior in the story.

The story follows two different timelines, and the chapters are labelled as to the dates of the action.  The parallels between the modern day story of sisters Paloma and Mercedes and of the 1940's sisters, Della and Eula are revealed bit by bit through the story and leave the reader realizing that while eras change, people really haven't.  

I like Di Maio's writing and use of language. Her prose is vivid and emotional.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade:  B+

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: Any Day Now



About the Book:

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan's Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She's put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn't yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet. 

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she's always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it's a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan's Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

My Comments:

Robyn Carr has another winner here.  I loved Sierra and cheered for her as she got her life together.  Connie, her male love interest was a real sweetheart with just the right amount of masculinity--and who wouldn't love a cute puppy?  

I liked watching Sierra reclaim her life after an abusive relationship but found the resolution of that plot line to be somewhat unrealistic.  

Most of the time romance novels are about young adults just getting started in life, which I guess is because hopefully by the time people are middle-aged, they've met someone and settled into life together.  Still, as someone who is on the far side of 40, I like seeing "older" couples and this book features one. 

For those who like small town romances where everyone knows everyone, Any Day Now by Robyn Carr fits the bill if you don't mind a little steam.

 I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade:  B+

Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: A Fragile Hope



About the Book:

Josiah Chamberlain's life's work revolves around repairing other people's marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife's unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she's unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken. 

Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

My Comments:

Josiah is a famous writer of books about relationships, but his primary relationship, his marriage, is very broken, and he doesn't even realize it.  One night his wife has had enough, and she is found in a coma in a car with her best friend's husband, who is dead.  Josiah has reason to believe she has been unfaithful and is, of course, hurt by this.  It takes him a long time to realize that he is the one who has been unfaithful--no he has never been with another woman but he hasn't given himself to his wife in a long time.

Josiah's wife is in a coma for a long time and there are serious doubts that she will ever recover.  In the end, she does and so does their marriage.  In realizing what he has to lose, Josiah learns how hard it is to forgive, and how necessary it is. 

The book is Christian fiction, but Josiah isn't the most religious guy on the planet.  He and his wife belong to a church and the church members help them through the  ordeal but there are no sermons in the book and faith doesn't solve all the problems in the world.

I like Cynthia Ruchti's writing and I really enjoyed the book  Maybe the happily ever after was a tad unrealistic, but I'd much rather be left smiling at the end of a book than crying.  Grade: B+

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. 


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