☕ Book Break ☕ |~Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven~

~Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven~

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.” 

Libby Strout was once named “America’s Fattest Teen” but now she has gotten healthy enough to go to public school. Jack Masselin has no shortage of friends. But he has a secret, he’s face blind.

Prosopagnosia produces a great deal of stress and anxiety, and Jack keeps his problem hidden. It makes him look like a jerk much of the time. Libby had to be cut out of her house once, so she has her own issues she’d rather not bring into the spotlight. The two end up falling for each other.

I loved Libby’s outlook on life. She is determined to make the best of life. It took me a while to warm up to Jack. By the end, I felt for him.

The story idea is fantastic, and the portrayal of prosopagnosia was interesting. Libby’s plight broke my heart. Plenty of teenage introspection. Well written. It did seem to be heavy on the profanity, which I found distracting. Still, never once did I feel like abandoning the story, and the end was satisfying.

Click here to leave a comment

☕ 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.
.
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.
.
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.

Click here to leave a comment

☕ 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.

Click here to leave a comment

☕ Book Break ☕ |~Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman~

~Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman~

Eleanor is socially awkward. She lives alone, spending her time working, drinking vodka on the weekends, and taking phone calls from Mummy. Raymond is the typical IT guy from the office, sloppy and unorganized. After work one day, they witness an old man, Sammy, as he collapses on the sidewalk and they work together to help him. The three become friends.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
What a beautiful novel. Eleanor is wonderfully quirky, and the author so clearly draws this character that my sympathies were completely in Eleanor’s corner even when her behavior raised the ire of her coworkers. I adored Raymond, who is as clueless as Eleanor in his own way.

This book is entertaining, amusing at times, tragic, and completely worthy of any reader’s time. Eleanor has left little cracks in my heart, and at the same time restored hope. A must read.

Gail Honeyman had me from paragraph one all the way until the last word.❤
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
And did I hear this was going to be made into a movie? No way will it be as good as the book, but I’ll be watching, just in case.

Click here to leave a comment

☕ 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.

Click here to leave a comment

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

~The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth~
I could not tear myself away from this novel. .
Everyone in the friendly community of Pleasant Court knows their neighbors, or do they? One day, someone new, Isabelle, moves into the close knit neighborhood, but she isn’t like everyone else here. She is a single woman in a neighborhood primarily of young families.
.
Isabelle is tracking down someone’s secret. Under scrutiny, things that once were hidden come to light and lives unravel. Secrets abound in this novel. Ange, Fran and Essie all have things they would rather not share and things in their lives they prefer not to examine to closely. .
This story makes one wonder what kinds of lies we tell ourselves and each other. .
Highly entertaining. Great women’s fiction. Fast moving and an easy read.
.

Click here to leave a comment

☕ 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.

Click here to leave a comment

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

~The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah~

In 1974, 13 year old Leni’s father announces that they will be moving to Alaska. Her father, Ernt, has been gifted with a homestead. Leni and her parents pack their belongings in a VW bus and head north. They are ill prepared for the wilderness that greets them. The community pools together to help the trio, but they quickly learn that the environment is a harsh and unforgiving one.
Even worse, the long winters aggravate Ernt’s mental condition. He was a POW and has nightmares coupled with a violent temper. Cora, Lani’s mother takes the brunt of Ernt’s violence, but the situation soon escalates.

Kristin Hannah tackles a tough subject in this book, and I think she did a good job of portraying the complexity of one facet of domestic abuse. I mostly liked this novel. While it kept my interest, it was difficult for me to relate to the main characters. The women were too weak for my liking and this frustrated me. I wanted them to figure out how to stop being victims, but I think that was one of the points of the story. I cared enough about the characters to finish the book in a short period of time.

Victims of domestic abuse often cannot find their way out. The convoluted thinking of the abused wife shows her reasoning and ability to live in denial. The characters were completely believable. I think this is a realistic portrayal of women in this situation.
This is a long book. I liked the first half better than the second, which seemed to drag in spots to me. It felt like a genre shift, but then returned to the familiar story telling of the first half.

This novel is well worth the read, and I recommend it. Kristin Hannah fans will love this book. The vivid descriptions of Alaska and the community there made me want to visit. Not in winter, though!

Click here to leave a comment

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mahew Whalen

~The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mahew Whalen~

“So I actually saw,with my own eyes, the spider web that was woven across the gate…”

What a web of secrets, lies, and deceit the people of Sycamore Glen have entangled themselves in!

Sycamore Glen appears to be the perfect neighborhood, but everyone here has a secret. The story is told in multiple points of view: Jencey is newly returned to her hometown with her two girls in tow, young Cailey lives in the neighborhood “eyesore” with her mother and younger brother, Bryte seems to have it all but is terrified of losing it, and Zell has her own secrets. The darkest secret of all belongs to another in their midst.

This is a novel that makes you question how well you know the people who live around you, and wonder what you would be willing to do the keep secrets that would protect the ones you love.
This was a quick read with intricate story lines and a satisfying ending of redemption and lessons learned.

This is the second novel I have read by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, and I like it as much as I liked the first one. I will certainly look for more by the author.

“There were things she wished were true, and there was what was actually true. She was learning that there was usually a great distance between the two.”

“This was how people healed: they went and did something–anything they could–to redeem the situation.”

“How surprisingly easy it was to decide to change your life forever, and how surprisingly easy it was to keep that decision from the one you loved most.”

Click here to leave a comment

☕ Book Break ☕ | All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

~All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda~ “There is nothing more dangerous, nothing more powerful, nothing more necessary and essential for survival than the lies we tell ourselves.” Nicole returns to her hometown of Cooley Ridge to care for her aging father. She hasn’t been home in a decade, not since her best friend,Corrine, disappeared. Shortly after Nic’s return another girl, Annaleise, goes missing. The current investigation uncovers old clues.

Nic’s father suffers from dementia, and he is saying things that make no sense. Does he know something about Corrine’s disappearance? Or is it just the ramblings of a confused old man?

This story is told in reverse, beginning at day fifteen and ending on day one. This one is full of twists, turns, and suspense that was addictive.
I did not read the description before I begin this book, so was thrown for a moment at the telling in reverse. Once I caught on, I was amazed at the storytelling. It was not confusing at all. I’m not usually a fan of the told-in-reverse type stories, but this one hit all the right storytelling notes.

Nic gets entangled with her former boyfriend, even though she is engaged. “But maybe there was nothing more intimate than someone knowing all your secrets, every one of them, and sitting beside you anyway, buying your favorite food, running his fingers absently through your hair so you can sleep.” Plenty of drama going on with the other characters as well. And the characters! The interaction between the girls and the unraveling of the mystery was mesmerizing. More adult themes than my usual fare. It does make you wonder what lengths you would go to in order to protect the ones you love.

Click here to leave a comment