Friday, January 20, 2017

Maybe Its You: My Review

About the Book:

ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past—new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards.
Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell.

Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past.

My Comments:

Like Candace Calvert's other books, Maybe Its You features a nurse and is set in a hospital.  As we get to know her through the story, we realize that she is running from something and figure it is only a matter of time  until it catches her.  Calvert does a good job of making readers wonder who is working with the bad guy.  While the climax of the story was somewhat unrealistic, I enjoyed the romantic elements.

As it is published by Tyndale Press, Maybe Its You is considered Christian fiction.  However, the Christian elements are subtle--this is basically a clean medical romance.  

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review: The Orphan's Tale

About the Book:

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night. 

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

My Comments:

The book begins in the present day, with an old woman visiting a museum to see a circus train, and it is obvious she is doing more than looking at an artifact from someone else's life.  The story then moves back in time to World War II and becomes the story of two young women.

Noa is Dutch, and became pregnant via an affair with a German soldier, so not only was she disgraced for her pregnancy, she was also one who consorted with the enemy.  She gave birth in a Nazi maternity home and her child was put up for adoption.  Since her parents had disowned her she had no place to go.  While cleaning a railway station she saved a Jewish baby boy from almost certain death and then finds herself on the run to keep him secret.  

The other young woman, Astrid,  is a Jew who we meet as her husband, a Nazi officer, informs her that they must divorce.  She is from a family that owns a circus and she returns to her parents' home, planning to re-join the circus.  Unfortunately, she cannot find them.  Fortunately the neighbors, who also own a circus, take her in and give her a false identity.  

Noa eventually finds her way to the circus and the book is the story of the relationship between the two women, and their relationships with the men in their lives.  Since the book is set during WWII, we know that the lives of Noa's "adopted" baby and Astrid are constantly in danger, as are the lives of those who knowingly harbor Jews.  

The question running through my mind throughout the whole book of course was the identity of that old woman. Was she Astrid?  Noa?  One of their friends?  

Pam Jenoff did a great job of capturing both the mundane parts of everyday life in the circus and the fear of discovery that permeated life for Noa and Astrid.  We see the absolute evil in some Nazis and yet realize that others really are human, with good and bad.  Set in wartime, it is a book that includes death and loss but in the end, there is hope.

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

Friday, December 30, 2016

Review: The Life She Wants

About the Book:

In the aftermath of her financier husband’s suicide, Emma Shay Compton’s dream life is shattered. Richard Compton stole his clients’ life savings to fund a lavish life in New York City and, although she was never involved in the business, Emma bears the burden of her husband’s crimes. She is left with nothing. 

Only one friend stands by her, a friend she’s known since high school, who encourages her to come home to Sonoma County. But starting over isn’t easy, and Sonoma is full of unhappy memories, too. And people she’d rather not face, especially Riley Kerrigan. 

Riley and Emma were like sisters—until Riley betrayed Emma, ending their friendship. Emma left town, planning to never look back. Now, trying to stand on her own two feet, Emma can’t escape her husband’s reputation and is forced to turn to the last person she thought she’d ever ask for help—her former best friend. It’s an uneasy reunion as both women face the mistakes they’ve made over the years. Only if they find a way to forgive each other—and themselves—can each of them find the life she wants.

My Comments:

This is definitely not one of Robyn Carr's better books.  It is the story of Emma, who is starting over with almost nothing after the suicide of her husband, who had been convicted of bilking people out of millions of dollars.  She returns to her hometown but because of her husband's notoriety, the only work she can find is low-wage jobs like working at a fast food place or in housekeeping.  

When Emma was off at college, Emma's best friend and boyfriend got too close and ended up pregnant.  Of course Emma felt betrayed, even though her life was quickly moving beyond that small town.  Emma and Riley haven't spoken since, but when she couldn't find any other job, Emma swallows her pride and asks for a job with Riley's cleaning company.  

The main problem with the book is that it just wasn't realistic.  Riley has been keeping people at arm's length ever since her fallout with Emma.  Now all of the sudden she starts dating--and then quits because she realizes the guy who has been under her nose all these years...

Emma's love story is actually pretty believeable, but her work life after she gets home--absolutely not.  Her relationship with her stepmom was equally unrealistic.  She ends up rescuing a troubled teen, and a few months later everything is fine with that teen.  Basically the whole problem with the book is that all the endings were happy and many of them seemed hurried and forced.  

I bought this book with my own money and can say whatever I want about it.  Grade:  B-

Monday, December 26, 2016

Worth the Risk: My Review

About the Book:

When Jackson St. James decided that six weeks in Vermont’s Green Mountains would help him get his life together, he didn’t anticipate replacing his craving for whiskey with a craving for his alluring new landlord, Gabby. Now, instead of prioritizing his sobriety and the resolution of the lawsuit threatening his business, he’s making excuses to spend time with the spunky young landscaper whose candor is more than a little addictive.

Gabby Bouchard refuses to let her pill-popping mother and unreliable baby daddy turn her into a cynic, so she doesn’t fight her attraction to her enigmatic new tenant. Although Jackson’s smile rarely reaches his eyes, his generosity and dependability make her willing to overlook his demons. But once she convinces him to give in to temptation, Gabby’s jealous ex threatens to disrupt the life she has built for herself and her son.

With so much at stake, Gabby and Jackson must decide if love is worth the risk.

My Comments:

All too often these days people seem to think that they need to have life figured out or working perfectly before they take a chance on love.  Hook-ups, it seems, are fine for people whose lives are messy, but not love.  Jackson in counselled throughout this book not to get involved but in a lot of ways, having someone who is there for him, and for whom he can care, is healing for him.  While Gabby had a lot to lose if things went way wrong with Jackson, she gained so much when they went right.  

Worth the Risk is the story of a man who doesn't have it all together.  Jackson's drinking has started to cause problems with his business.  He has been sued, and his family life is a mess.  Rather than go into rehab for his drinking, Jackson decides to take a six week vacation and to see a counsellor while there.  He rents a garage apartment from Gabby's dad.

Gabby was a girl who was going places until one night she got too close to the wrong guy and ended up pregnant.  College is tough for a single mom so she stays home with her dad where she is chief cook and bottle washer, in addition to running a landscape business. 

Jackson is used to being busy and when things happen such that Gabby needs help, he steps up to the plate.  Since her baby's father has never done that, Gabby is suitably impressed.  Still, she knows he has demons and even gets him to talk about them, a little.

This is the third book in the series but I did not feel I had missed too much backstory; this book stood alone well.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  While not "squeaky clean", the bedrooms scenes were not terribly graphic.  Grade B+

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