The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting the audiobook reader, Therese Plummer, and while she was visiting our library she handed me this audiobook and said it was a good one.  I was eager to listen to another book she read, but I had never read a book by Robyn Carr, so I put it in my car cd player as soon as I was ready for another book.  I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it.  I had thought that Robyn Carr was strictly a romance writer, but her book offers more than that.

Robyn tells the story of Emma Shay, a woman who left her town in Sonoma, married a wealthy man, and lived a luxurious life until her husband was caught running a Ponzi scheme and committed suicide as a result.  Everyone thinks she must still have money hidden away somewhere and have no sympathy for her, so she struggles to start her life over as no one will hire her.  She returns to the town where she grew up and continues to have difficulty getting a job until she finally lands one with a cleaning agency.  The agency is owned by her best friend from high school, Riley, who betrayed her by having an affair with her boyfriend, resulting in an end to the friendship. The book was a fun listen as Emma and Riley work through their relationship, Emma rebuilds her life, and there is some romance thrown in as well.  The characters are likable and the situations are realistically portrayed.

Therese did an excellent job of reading this book.  It wasn’t my first of hers, and it won’t be my last.  This also won’t be my last Robyn Carr book.  I’ve discovered a new author. Thanks, Therese!

 

 

 

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From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

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Although I keep saying I’m tired of World War II books, I still find many that I like, and this was one of those.  It is a beautifully written story set in Italy and revolves around two central characters:  Batshever “Eva” Rosselli, an Italian Jew, and Angelo Bianco, a Catholic who becomes a priest.  The two grew up together as a family and have developed a special bond which eventually turns to love.  The horrors of war and perilous life of the jews and those who tried to help them is vividly portrayed as Angelo desperately tries to hide Eva in the church, but they are faced with one peril after another, and life-altering decisions have to be made.  The book had it all for me: a historical fiction novel with a strong, brave female character as well as other well-drawn characters, a moving well-told story involving tragedy, human resilience, faith, overcoming evil, love, and devotion.  This book will grip your heart and keep you engrossed to see what twist of fate happens next. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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This book was a delight.  Socially inept Eleanor Oliphant spends her days working in the finance department of a graphic design firm, and then goes home where she drinks too much vodka at nights and on weekends.  Except for her weekly calls to her Mummy, Eleanor doesn’t interact much with anyone.  Her face is scarred from a previous incident in her life, and her colleagues make fun of her.  One day she wins a ticket to a concert and fantasizes about a life with the musician.  She decides to make some changes to her appearance in hopes that she will attract the musician.  Meanwhile, her life intersects with the new IT guy, Raymond, and they start to become friends.

While her life is sad, Eleanor isn’t particularly aware of how sad it is,   She is a quirky character, and her unfiltered dialogue and thoughts had me chuckling throughout the book.  Once she meets Raymond and her life starts changing, Eleanor comes to realize there is more to life, and she is able to confront the demons of her past.

Both of the characters of Eleanor and Raymond are quite endearing and I fell in love with both of them.  This book reminded me a lot of the Rosie Project (another favorite).  Highly recommended.

I received an advance copy of the book from Edelweiss for an honest review.

 

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Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

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I had the good fortune to listen to this author when she visited our library for an event, and after hearing her speak, I was eager to start this book.  We had a copy of the audiobook available at the library, and I needed a new listen, so I listened to it.  Billie Flanagan, wife and mother, unexpectedly went hiking one day on the Pacific Coast Trail and disappeared.  All that was found was one of her hiking boots.  A year later the husband and daughter are still struggling with the loss and in the process of having her declared dead.  Then one day Olive, the daughter, has the first of several visions of her mother, and her mother tells her to keep looking.   Is she really seeing her mother or are these hallucinations?  Olive feels her mother is alive and possibly in danger, finally convincing her father, Jonathan, that they need to keep looking for her mother.  As Jonathan begins investigating, he finds out that Billie had many secrets, and with each secret brings more questions, ultimately bringing him to the realization that he didn’t know his wife as well as he thought.

This psychological suspense kept me engrossed, eager to find out the next revelation in this twisty novel.  Jonathan had been writing a book about Billie to help with his grief and, chapters of his book are periodically inserted which help reveal the history and back-story. The story is well-written, and I was attached to the plight of Jonathan and Olive and their desperate search to find the truth. I find the thought that someone can live with someone and not really know them fascinating.  It brought up lots to think about what a marriage is.  The mystery of whether or not Olive was actually seeing her mother kept me interested as well.  This was my first Janelle Brown book, but it won’t be my last.

I had received an advanced copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  I ultimately ended up listening to it, however.

 

 

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

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A lot can happen when a family is quarantined for a week over the Christmas holiday, and that is exactly what happened in this book. Olivia, one of the Birch daughters, is home for Christmas for the first time in years. She has been working as a doctor fighting an Ebola-type crisis in Liberia called Haag and has to be quarantined to make sure she doesn’t have the disease and spread it to the US. This book is about secrets and the ramifications once they are revealed, and everyone in the family has a secret. The story is told in alternating voices from the various members so the reader learns what is going on in each person’s mind and what has happened in the past. The family has some typical relationship problems like sibling rivalry and a husband and wife who have drifted apart, but as two non-family members arrive all the secrets are unleashed. The characters and often comedic story are engaging and well-told and as a result of the secrets coming out, there is growth among the family members. This is a delightful book that will keep you turning the pages.  This book will be coming out October 17, so mark your “to read” list now.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

 

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

 

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I’ve always wondered what happens to people who find their lives turned upside down after an unfortunate lack of judgment that lands them as the focal point of all the news, so I was attracted to this novel because of its description and because I enjoyed the author’s previous novel, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.  Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern, unfortunately, becomes involved in an affair with the married Congressman she works for who is an old family friend.  When the affair is revealed, The Congressman manages to come out of the scandal unscathed and captures re-election.  Meanwhile, Aviva who is scorned discovers she is pregnant.  Because everyone knows of the affair she finds it impossible to find a job, so she takes the drastic measure to change her name and start her life over in Maine as an event planner.  It was interesting exploring the different standards that are applied to women rather than men, how the mistake affects the family and the Congressman’s wife,  and the process of recovering from a past mistake.

Thank you to Edelweiss for providing a copy of this book for my honest review.

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

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Wow. The psychological suspense in this book starts immediately with the ominous and mysterious falling of dead starlings in the Pennsylvania town where the story is set.  The writer of the journal entry in the opening pages also mentions having dealt the Tower Tarot card that same day.  The suspense proceeds full force.   It’s the same day a high school girl called ” the witch” disappears.  One of the beloved teachers and baseball coach has been accused of having an affair with the girl before her disappearance.  He claims he was just trying to help her with a bad situation.  His marriage has some issues because his wife feels he spends more time with the students than with her and their autistic son.  Many of his actions certainly look suspicious leading you to wonder whether or not he is innocent.   All the chapters alternate in time before and after the day the birds fell, and they alternate in telling the story from the various characters’ perspectives, dribbling out bits and pieces of information in each.The book has good, well-developed characters, and a great suspenseful storyline that keeps you turning the pages quickly to try to discover what has really happened.  This was my first Kate Moretti book, but it certainly won’t be my last.  Recommended.  This book will be published September 26, 2017.

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review.

 

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living by Ramie Liddle and Tim Bauerschmidt

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I adored this book.  After recently losing her husband, ninety-year-old Norma discovers that she has uterine cancer. She refuses to undergo chemo treatments and radiation, and, instead, decides to enjoy her remaining days by accepting her retired son, Tim’s, invitation to join his wife, Raimie, and him on a cross-country tour in their RV.  Throughout this adventure, shy Norma blossoms and experiences things such as a balloon ride that she never would have tried previously.  Raimie describes their adventures in a blog, and soon Norma has a large following, meeting many people who welcome her, become fast friends, and offer her all kinds of kind opportunities.  I love the way Norma has embraced life and the portrayal of her growth.  The growth of the relationship with her son and daughter in-law is also heartwarming.  It’s a joke in my family that I love movies and books based on a true story, but this is one that I think everyone will fall in love with and find humorous, life-affirming, and uplifting.  Highly recommended.

Thank you to Edelweiss for providing a copy of this book for my honest review.

 

 

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

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Madison is a girl who was five when she disappeared from the remote Oregon forests while her family was looking for a Christmas tree.  Three years later as a last resort the parents contact Naomi who is known as “the child finder”.  She has a knack and reputation for finding children who have gone missing.  She finds them although they aren’t always still alive.  The parents, though, are still hopeful after all these years that she was able to survive the rugged, cold Oregon outdoors.  Naomi also has a special calling to look for these children because she has a past herself.  Something bad happened to her as a child and she has no memory of it which haunts her, leading her to feel called to help these children.  The story is well developed and beautifully written as she goes on her search to find Madison.  The book will be published September 5, 2017.  This was just voted as a Library Reads selection for September.

Thank you to Edelweiss for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.