Any Day Now by Robyn Carr


4 Stars

When I learned that Therese Plummer is an Audie Award finalist for this book, I had to check out the audiobook.  I had listened to and enjoyed another Robyn Carr book she narrated.  This book was entertaining as well, and Terese does an excellent job once again.

Sierra Jones has had a painful past but has dealt with her alcoholism and has been sober now for nine months.  She decides to travel to Colorado to visit her brother, Cal, and his pregnant wife, Maggie, to get a new start.  Sierra is surprised to find out how much she enjoys the area and the people she meets.  She bonds with the Crossings campground owner, Sully, who acts as a father figure for her.  I became endeared to Sierra’s character when she rescues a dog from an abusive camper at the campground.  Sierra also finds love along the way although she was not searching for a relationship.  Besides leaving her alcoholic past behind her, she is also running away from some danger and finds the support she needs from those around her.

I did not realize when I started this book that it is the second in a series called Sullivan’s Crossing, so I will certainly go back and read (or listen if Therese is reading) the first in the series, What We Find.  What I like about this book and the other one I’ve read by Robyn Carr is that there is a romance, but Carr portrays it in a very realistic, natural way.  Her books also have more to them than just the romance storyline.  The story is compelling, the characters are interesting and well-drawn, and the setting makes you feel like you are there and know the people.





The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo


4 Stars

I listened to this book read by Johanna Parker whom I had the pleasure to meet this year.  She is known as the voice of Sookie Stackhouse in the Charlaine Harris books, but those are not my cup of tea, so I was delighted to be able to listen to this one she read.

This debut by Melissa DeCarlo is a story about Mattie Wallace who has messed up her life.  Mattie grew up in a dysfunctional relationship with an alcoholic mother who has died in a car accident.  The only real positive relationship in her life is with her ex-step-dad, Queeg, who may be dying of cancer.  She now finds herself homeless, broke, and pregnant by her worthless boyfriend with whom she has broken up. When Mattie finds out she may have an inheritance from the grandmother she never met, Mattie travels 800 miles to Gandy, Oklahoma where her Mom grew up.  When she arrives there, she finds out that her mother had once been a promising teenager who mysteriously disappeared from town.  Mattie begins to try to unravel the mystery of what happened and learns about her mother and other family secrets along the way.

I thought the story was engaging, and I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story as well.  Mattie is not a particularly likable character, but as her story is revealed, it helped explain how she got to be in the mess she is in.  Her delving into the mystery of her mother’s disappearance also helps her examine her life so she can move in a better direction.  DeCarlo often has some great lines in the book, and quirky characters add some humor to the story.

I would also recommend listening to the book if you can because Johanna Parker does an excellent job of reading this story.


Five Fortunes by Beth Gutcheon


3.5 Stars

This is an older book that was first published in 1998 and was selected this month by one of my book groups.  The book revolves around five women ages 20-80 who meet at a week-long health spa.  Although they all bonded during the week, little did they realize that their lives would become intertwined after they departed at the end of the week.

Rae is an elderly woman with grown children who had attended the spa over 25 times.  She is wealthy and married to a man who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.  Amy and Jill are a mother and daughter attending together. Amy is married to a successful, busy doctor and Jill is overweight and has struggled with depression after being raped as a young teenager.  Carter is a tall divorcee who is a private investigator, and Laurie has recently lost her popular politician husband who was killed in a plane accident.  Their lives take them in directions none of them anticipated and the book examines female friendships, politics, mother/daughter relationships, and motherhood.

There were a few things in the book that seemed to me to be somewhat contrived, but that didn’t detract a huge amount from the enjoyment of the book.  I was surprised that given how old the book is, the political topics being portrayed are still the same ones today, so although other aspects were a little dated, that aspect was surprisingly not as dated feeling.

Although a little on the long side, around 400 pages, this was not a difficult read.  It read more like a beach read.  This book would appeal to women who are looking for a lighter read about women’s relationships and women who are strong or become stronger during the book.



Caroline, Little House Revisited by Sarah Miller


3.5 Stars

Confession Time.  I am one of the few people who did not read Little House on the Prairie growing up.  I saw this title, however, and decided it might be interesting to read (or listen to in my case).  It tells the story of the Ingalls from the perspective of the wife and “Ma,” Caroline Ingalls as they move from their home and family in Wisconsin to “Indian Territory” in Kansas in February of 1870. When Charles Ingalls announces the move, Caroline first has to hand-sew a covering for their wagon to protect them along their journey, and she starts to prepare their belongings ready to transport.  The book tells of the hardship of traveling to a new area providing insight into the thoughts and feelings of pregnant Caroline during the trials and tribulations of their journey and then building a house and establishing a home.

I often reflect, especially during cold Indiana days, how easy our life is in comparison to what the early settlers must have endured and am amazed at what they were able to do.  This book brought that to home for me.  Their life was arduous, but at least by that time, there were towns where they could shop even though it was several days travel to get there.  The Osage Indians were granted land during this period, and Miller aptly describes Caroline’s lack of understanding and fear of the Osage.

I started out really enjoying the book in the beginning, but it became tedious to me after a while because the pace was slow for my taste.  I did enjoy reading how they got excited about the simplest things in life that we take for granted today and would like to try to become more appreciative the way they were.  I also like the way neighbors were there once they settled (although not close by) to help each other.  If you were a fan of the Little House books, I feel sure that you would probably enjoy this book to round out the Little House experience.

Flying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown


5 stars

Rebecca L. Brown’s debut Flying at Night is an emotion-filled book with great insight into the autistic mind, confronting a childhood raised with an abusive parent, caring for a parent suffering brain damage after a heart attack, and living in an unfulfilling marriage, yet rising above the obstacles and finding growth and self-realization. Piper is the daughter of an abusive father, Lance, who was a Sully-like pilot who had saved lives while piloting through a plane crash. Piper has broken pieces from her childhood living under his abuse. She now is married and has a nine-year-old son, Fred, who becomes diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Piper and Fred are close, and Piper puts all her focus on helping her son maneuver the world, feeling like her husband, Isaac, isn’t present enough to assist. Then she is also left to care for her father who is brain damaged after a heart attack, and she sees quite a different person than the one she knew growing up. The story is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoint of Piper, Fred, and Lance. Between the skillful alternating points of views, delightful imagery, and story of flying through the various challenges, this book grabbed my heart.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy for an honest review.

Be on the lookout for this book due out April 10, 2018.


The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen


4 stars

You don’t see much in the way of the gothic genre these days, but I have always enjoyed them.  In fact, Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier is one of my top 10 novels, so when I saw the opportunity to get an advanced copy of this gothic novel, I jumped at the chance.  My husband and I had the chance to visit Ireland this past summer, so the setting for this book had an additional appeal.

Deeprath Castle located in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland is being donated as a public trust, and Nessa Gallagher has hired Carragh Ryan to take inventory of the library before it is turned over.  The castle has been home to the Gallaghers for over 700 years, but the owner, Aiden, and his sister, Kate, have not lived there since they were children. Their parents were murdered there when they were children, and the mystery remains unsolved.  Carragh is interested in working there because a famous author, Evan Chase, used to be married to one of the family members, Jenny Gallagher.  Another mystery surrounded her death, leaving behind her husband and infant son.  He also was said to have been writing a book about the Darkling Bride, a legend surrounding the castle indicating that the bride haunts the castle.

The police have decided to re-open the murder investigation before the castle is donated and new information comes to light.  As Carragh begins her work, too, unusual things start to happen.  Is it because she is close to discovering past secrets or are spirits at play? She soon finds Aiden an ally and hopes that the relationship will turn to more.

This book has all the elements of a good gothic novel:  A mysterious castle, possible ghosts, a dark and brooding atmosphere, family secrets, and a castle tower where someone was held.  There’s also a mystery to be solved and a little romance as well.  The story is told in alternating timelines between 3 time periods:  the Evan Chase/Jennifer Gallagher (1880s), Aidan and Kate’s time growing up at Deeprath (late 1900s), and present time. Andersen deftly manages the alternating time. I wish I had been able to read this book before our trip because we visited the setting of the book and saw some of the things mentioned. I would look at them very differently now had I read this book before the visit. The book isn’t quite up to Rebecca’s level, but it was a very enjoyable book I would recommend.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy of this book for an honest review.  The book is scheduled for release March 6, 2018.  Be on the lookout for it!



Water From My Heart by Charles Martin


4.5 Stars

I don’t know how I haven’t heard of Charles Martin, but he will now be an author that I regularly read.  My neighborhood book group chose Water From My Heart for this month’s selection, and I enjoyed it immensely.  This book started out much differently than I expected.  I assumed it was literary (which it was), but in the beginning, it appeared to be one of my thriller drug running genre books.  I’m glad I stuck with it because it turned into so much more. I will also alert you in advance that my description of the book will in no way encompass all aspects of the book because there is so much.

Charlie Finn is a smart guy who was on his own at sixteen and goes on to receive a business degree from Harvard.  In addition to excelling in school, he also aces poker and winning his trust-fund classmates’ money.  After college, Charlie sets off to get his Master’s degree overseas in London.  He falls in love with wealthy Amanda and learns that her father is the one who provided the scholarship he received at Harvard.  He begins working in her Dad’s cut-throat business and hopes to impress him so he can marry his daughter one day.  It turns out that the business owner doesn’t like his pedigree and puts an end to that.  While he was in the business, he took some actions on behalf of the company which had devastating effects on many people in a coffee business in Nicaragua. After leaving the Dad’s business, he lands in Bimini looking for a simpler life.  When he meets Collin, he turns to transporting drugs off the coast of Miami.  Charlie becomes like family to Collin and his family and connects with his two children.  So when Collin’s young daughter is injured during a deal gone wrong, and his son disappears as a result of the guilt he feels for his part in the event, Charlie goes in search of the son to make things right.  His path takes him to Nicaragua where he meets a woman and her daughter after the woman takes him into her home to care for him after he is beaten up and left for dead along the side of a street.  As he gets to know her and the community where she lives, he is confronted first-hand with the devastation he has caused the people, eventually attempting to make things right again.

This beautifully written book, full of powerful imagery, description, and well-developed characters is thought-provoking with the themes of redemption, second chances, determining what is important in life, love, loss, and survival.  Although the story started slowly, there were elements there that were important to events later in the story, and he did a remarkable job of weaving it all together. What I liked, too, was that this was a different kind of story in a different setting than most of what I have read lately. The story grabbed my heart and didn’t let go.  I felt like I was right there with the characters and experienced what they were experiencing.  I would have given this one 5 stars except for the slow beginning.


The Breakdown by B.A. Paris


3 Stars

I had read a lot of good reviews of B.A. Paris books, so I was eager to dive into The Break Down.  Cass lives in a rural area and is on her way home one evening after a party during a nasty thunderstorm when she decides to take a dangerous, more isolated shortcut through some woods to get home.  She passes a stranded car, sees a woman alive in the car, considers stopping to help, but then out of concern for her own safety decides not to stop.  She keeps this information from her husband because she knows he would be furious with her for going that way.  Then it turns out that the woman was murdered and she berates herself and wonders if she could have done something to prevent it. She does eventually make an anonymous report to the police that she saw the vehicle and the woman who was alive at the time.  She later learns it had been a new acquaintance that she was hoping to become friends with.  As she focuses on finding out what happened to the woman, she is constantly forgetting things, becoming paranoid after receiving phone calls with no one on the other end, and feeling like she is being watched by someone who knows she was there.  The reader is never really certain whether all this is really happening or if it is in her mind.

I listened to this audiobook, and initially, I really enjoyed the narrator.  After a while, though, I was getting a little irritated.  I’m not sure if it was really the narrator or just the main character herself I was irritated with.  I suspect the latter.  Time after time something would happen that Cass couldn’t remember and seemed surprised about it even though her Mom had had dementia and there was a definite pattern forming. It sort of reminded me of the character in Girl On a Train that just couldn’t stop drinking and made me just want to shake her.  This mystery/thriller was a bit predictable in the end, but aside from the irritation mentioned, I did enjoy it. It just wasn’t as good as I was hoping.


By the Book by Julia Sonneborn


I was attracted to reading By the Book for two reasons.  As a Jane Austen fan, I was eager to read it because it is a re-telling of Persuasion. Also, I enjoy riding my bicycle as another hobby, so the beautiful cover captured my attention.

Anne Corey is a college English Professor on the tenure track when she is stunned to learn her first love and ex-fiance, Adam Martinez, was hired as the new President of her college.  The engagement fell apart when Anne put her career over Adam after being convinced by her college mentor to pursue her Ph.D. at Yale while Adam wanted to stay in California. Anne is now in a relationship with another professor, Rick, who doesn’t like the new president at all, putting Anne in the middle of their conflict.  In addition to the storyline involving romance and the three main characters, the story is enhanced with scenes including Anne’s hilarious best friend, Larry, who is in love with a movie star and Anne’s struggles juggling taking care of her elderly dad , maintaining a relationship with her sister, and desperately trying to get a book published.

I found the book to be an engaging and fun read but did feel that some parts could have been developed more.  Anne’s character was developed well, and her trials juggling family, friends, and a career gave her dimension.  The relationship with Adam, however, could have been fleshed out more.  Adam wasn’t developed as fully, and the interactions with him didn’t leave me feeling that there was a romantic connection with him the author was trying to convey.  Although Julia Sonneborn hasn’t created a book at the level of Jane Austen, it is still an entertaining book with some humor and romance that I would recommend.

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng


Little Fires Everywhere is a good title for this novel about family dynamics, moral decisions, and hiding secrets.  I had previously read her debut book, Everything I Never Told You, which I appreciated as being very well-written and did an excellent job of exploring the aftermath of a child’s death, but it was just so depressing that I had a hard time really enjoying the book.  She has once again produced a well-written novel exploring the complexities of human nature, but this was a much easier read for me.  The book starts with the Richardson’s home being on fire. Three of the teenage children, Lexie, Trey, and Moody, sit on the hood of a vehicle watching it burn and comment that they suspect their younger sister, Izzy, set it on fire before she disappeared.  The novel grabs your attention right away and then goes back in time to unfold the story that led to that point.

The Richardson’s live in Ohio near Cleveland in the planned community, Shaker Heights.  There are rules in Shaker Heights that everyone is supposed to follow, and Elena Richardson (the Mom) grew up firmly believing in living your life by following the rules.  She has a rental property that she rents out to a single mom, Mia Warren, and her teenage daughter, Pearl.  Elena ends up hiring Mia to help with cleaning their home and cooking the meals.  Mia is a direct contrast to Elena as she is a free-spirit artist who has roamed from town to town, carrying Pearl along with her.  This time, though, Mia has promised Pearl that they will settle down.  The two families intertwine with Izzy, the disruptive child of the Richardsons, becoming close to Mia.  When a friend of the Richardsons decides to adopt an Asian child, Elena and Mia are on opposing sides and Elena starts looking into Mia’s past unleashing ramifications for all involved.  Ethical dilemmas arise for the characters providing food for discussion.  Although I enjoyed the beginning of the book, it did go rather slowly as the characters and situation were established.  I do think that some of that section could have been edited out.  It wasn’t until about the 40% mark where the book really took off.  My book group discussed this one, and it did provide for a lively discussion with lots to talk about.  This book has been on many best book of the year lists including winning the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction.

Thank you to Edelweiss for providing an advanced reader copy of the book for an honest review.