☕ Book Break ☕ |~After Anna by Lisa Scottoline~

~After Anna by Lisa Scottoline~
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Anther winner by Lisa Scottoline. This one had me on the edge of my seat. I so wanted to cheat and read what happened in the end, but I resisted. It was hard!

Maggie has a happy life. She is married to Dr. Noah Alderman, and is stepmother to his son. Her life is almost perfect, except she longs for Anna, her teenage daughter. She hasn’t seen Anna since she was an infant.

When her ex-husband dies, she gets a phone call. She will have a second chance to be a mother to Anna. Finally, her heart’s desire, to have Anna back in her life, is becoming a reality.

Thrilled to be reunited with her daughter she ignores all the warning signs.

Then Anna is murdered and Noah is charged.

This novel is a page turner. If it weren’t fiction, I think I’d feel guilty for being so enthralled with the unraveling of this family’s lives! The writing is superb. Enthralling plot. .
An unexpected twist at the end totally surprised me, even though it fit perfectly. This may be my favorite Lisa Scottoline novel thus far, although I do like all of her books that I have read.

Fans will not be disappointed. If you’re looking for well written suspense, you should check this book out.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King~

~Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King~

Maisey is a single mother who has spent her life in a series of dead end jobs, forever remaining a disappointment to her overbearing mother. The only thing Maisey has ever done right is her daughter, Elle.

Maisey receives a call from the police who are st her parent’s home. Her mother is unconscious and her father is under suspicion and behaving erratically. .
She travels to her parents’ home, bringing her daughter with her. They arrive to find her father burning papers. Maisey has to deal with her father’s dementia, her mother’s illness and along the way discovers her childhood imaginary friend was actually her sister. She is determined to find her.

This book is a multilayered story about abuse and domestic violence. High interest, good writing, and a satisfying ending. It is a story about breaking free from the cycle of abuse. Some losses can never be recovered and some wrongs never made right. The women in the story do not come out without scars, the novel ends on a note of empowerment. Recommended.

I choose this book as my selection from July’s Amazon First Reads.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | When The English Fall by David Williams

~When The English Fall by David Williams~

“I suppose that is why I still write here, to remember the blessings. And all things are blessings, even the hard things.”

An Amish Dystopian? I loved this story idea and could not resist.

Jacob is an Amish farmer. His daughter has strange fits and nightmares, speaking nonsense about “the English falling” until one night when the world goes dark and planes fall from the sky. What appears to be an EMP or solar storm from the narrator’s description disrupts civilization as we know it. Life on the farm, while harder, is still sustainable, but the outside world pushes in. Daily life is turned on its head.

Beautiful prose, moral dilemmas, harsh realities. A look at what might happen when human beings are put into intolerable situations. How would our society react if all of our systems failed? .
What kind of people are we? What is left after all else is gone?

This book was so engrossing. I do wish there was a sequel, though. .
Great book. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a good read or philosophical discussion. Not just for sci-fi fans.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry~

~How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry~

I have a soft spot for books set in bookshops, and books set in the Cotswolds! I like being able to see glimpses into the everyday lives of people and the culture. There’s just something about it.
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Emilia has promised her father to keep the Nightingale Bookshop open. After he passes away, she realizes the shop is in financial trouble. They need infusions of more than cash, they need fresh ideas, updates, and all manner of complications arise. Of course there is a pushy property developer waiting in the wings, salivating in anticipation of Emillia’s failure.
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It was enjoyable. The pace was relaxed, but not in a bad way. There was plenty going on, and a delightful cast of characters. The setting has charm galore. A little romance and a few heartbreaks. .
Veronica Henry skillfully knit the novel together, even though the characters each had their own separate stories to tell. A feel good read.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale~

~The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale~

“It wasn’t a person’s age that made death sad. It was the size of the absence it caused in the ones left behind.”

This book has all the feels. The story is set in the same part of the country as Steel Magnolias, which I feel should be required viewing for anyone who is breathing, and it has a little bit of the same flavor, with sassy southern women. The characters face adversity with a dash of humor and grace.

I loved the the authentic setting and characters. I was surprised it was categorized as Christian fiction. While there is mention of church and God and the main character, Carrigan, has many questions about God’s will, it doesn’t read like inspirational fiction. I would identify it more along the lines as southern fiction or women’s contemporary.

Friendship is an important theme in this novel, and Celeste Fletcher McHale paints a lovely picture of true and lasting friendship between three women. It makes one long for the faithfulness and resilience of lifelong friends. I found myself chuckling and crying as I read about these three women. .
We are given an epilogue at the end of the story, however I would love to see additional novels about these characters.

Beautifully written and completely enjoyable. I look forward to reading more by this author.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | ~When Never Comes by Barbara Davis~

~When Never Comes by Barbara Davis~
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Integrity isn’t something you have in some parts of your life and not in others. You either have it, or you don’t.” 

Christy Lynn has no troubles. She has survived a troubled youth to become the wife of a best selling crime novelist. She believes her marriage to be an ideal one, until her husband has a car accident, his car ending up in Echo Bay. In the car with him is a half naked blonde.

This book grabbed me from the beginning. A complicated story about a complicated young woman. Her plight tugged at my heart strings, and by the end of the story I wanted her to find her happiness. Christy Lynn learns about her husband’s secret life, and discovers much about herself in the process.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but the book ends exactly as a book should.
There is some language in it and some uncomfortable subject matter. The scenes are not explicit, but the main character has had a rough life in the past.

Lovely ending. I was cheering her on. A very satisfying read.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

~Turtles All The Way Down by John Green~

Fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett is nowhere to be found. Sixteen year old Aza and her best friend Daisy  would not pursue the mystery but for the hundred-thousand-dollar reward.

Beautiful and authentic. It’s all there, the teen struggles, the deep thinking, and the authenticity. John Green knows how to write YA.

I liked the mystery of a missing billionaire and the reward for anyone who found him. A slow romance unfolds between Aza and Davis, the missing billionaire’s son. The friendship between Daisy and Aza show what it’s like to be friends with a girl like Aza, who suffers from sometimes crippling anxiety.

The mental health aspect of the character is treated with understanding. The portrayal felt real to me, to the point I would caution those with anxiety or OCD. The descriptions could be triggering.

It felt like a quick read. In comparing it to TFIOS, they are different books so I can’t say I like one better than the other.

I put this one in the worth rereading pile.

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Book Review|Damaged by Lisa Scottine

Shy and dyslexic, ten year old Patrick O’Brien is a target for bullies. He is sexually assaulted by an aide at his school, an incident that comes to light when the aide  sues Patrick and the school district, claiming the child attacked him.  Patrick’s grandfather, his only family, hires lawyer Mary DiNunzio.

Damaged is a legal thriller, one of a series. This author was new to me, and even though I read this book out of order, I had no difficulty following the storyline. The novel has just the right amount of backstory, weaving in the main character’s personal story arc along with the main plot of Patrick’s story.

The young boy’s situation tugs at the heart, and there are plenty of smaller mysteries  to unravel as the novel progresses. Twists and turns kept me reading, and I was surprised by the final “whodunnit” revelation. All the questions brought up in the story are tied up to conclude with a satisfactory ending.

I listened to the audiobook read by Rebecca Lowman and appreciated her performance.

I plan to check out more of this series. All in all, a good, solid legal thriller/mystery. Recommended.

Minor language, subject matter of abuse of special needs child, death of grandparent, violence (not graphic)

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Book Review| A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I didn’t expect to be captured by this story, but I was. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and translated by Henning Koch opens with Ove in a computer store, trying unsuccessfully to communicate with one of the employees. Having often been stymied by things tech, I could so relate to the quandary Ove had in the store.

A recent retiree,  Ove is the typical outspoken, inflexible grump, but we suspect from the get go he just might have reason to be. His life is severely structured by routine and he lives his days out following his own strict ideas of what is right. Patrolling the neighborhood, he keeps watch, always ready to enforce The Rules. A young family moves in next door and immediately upset Ove by running into his mailbox.

This character driven tale spins out beautifully, feeding us bits that make up Ove’s story as we need them. It is a poignant story about the human condition, of learning to love and be loved, of looking past the oft not-so-lovely exterior and seeing a fellow human. I was moved. Ove isn’t a man you would care to deal with, but we can’t help but love him, warts and all.

The novel jumps around in time, but is easy to follow. The story is sweet, funny, and sad all at the same time. I think this one may end up on my favorites list. It’s not often a book can make me laugh, cry, and think.

I listened to the audio book narrated by George Newbern and was well done. On a side note, a good narrator can ruin an otherwise good book, but this is a good narrator. The audiobooks I select books are greatly influenced by who is reading, and whether or not past books by an author were narrated well.

I will be checking out other books by Fredrik Backman.

I did not realize this novel had been made into a movie, and I plan to watch it sometime. I am big on reading the book first, and this is a good one. I can’t imagine a movie being as good as the novel. If you watched the movie or read the book, let me know what you thought.

Recommended. Some language and the content is serious at times.

Click here for a reading guide from Simon and Schuster for A Man Called Ove.

Here’s another reading guide from LitLovers.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below. This book is full of wonderful quotes. Here’s a few.

 

 

“And time is a curious thing. Most of us only live for the time that lies right ahead of us. A few days, weeks, years. One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead. And when time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be lived for. memories, perhaps.” 

 

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Book Review| Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Book Review | Imaginary Girls

by Nova Ren Suma

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma is a bit of a departure for me.

Ruby is the town darling and everyone wants to be her friend. Chloe is her younger sister. One night the teenagers of the town are partying and at Ruby’s urging, Chloe attempts to swim across the reservoir. In the darkness Chloe comes across a boat and discovers the body of her classmate, London. Chloe leaves town to go stay with her father. After two years, Ruby wants her sister to come home. Chloe returns to find London alive and well. Somehow, Ruby, who always gets her way, is involved.

I chose this book based on a recommendation by my library without really knowing what it was. Imaginary Girls is a novel about two sisters caught up in a paranormal mystery. The story is a haunting one. At first, I was a bit leery of it because suspense is not usually my thing, but two pages in I was hooked.

In this novel, it’s difficult to tell what is real and what is not. The prose is magnificent. This twisted tale of tragedy unfolds in a series of surreal events. Imaginary Girls leaves you slightly unbalanced, guessing right up to the end.

I recently re-read I Am The Cheese and perhaps it primed me for this type of story. Perhaps it’s been a while since I heard a good ghost story. This novel reminded me of how much I loved to spin, and hear, a good campfire tale. In any case, this story caught  my interest and held it to the last page. 

The story is told from the younger sister’s point of view. The characterization of the sisters and their relationship is a fascinating exploration of obsession. This novel combines a complicated sisterly bond with the strange other-worldliness of a dark, fantastical world and lyrical prose.

Imaginary Girls is rich in its characters and prose. It is not a fast-paced book, but is absorbing and intense. I do believe at one point in the book I actually shivered picturing the water of the reservoir. There is an eerie twilight zone vibe to this story.

Be forewarned, the characters in this novel do not behave well. There is much language. Imaginary Girls is for mature teens. If your teen is reading this book, I suggest you read it as well and discuss the issues and themes in the book.

Sex, drugs, alcohol abuse, death, language.

 

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