Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: The Oysterville Sewing Circle

The Oysterville Sewing Circle: A Novel by [Wiggs, Susan]

About the Book:

At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific.

She’s come home.

Home to a place she thought she’d left forever, home of her heart and memories, but not her future. Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous fashion world of Manhattan. But her success in New York imploded on a wave of scandal and tragedy, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows.

And in the backseat of Caroline’s car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment—five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. She’s now their legal guardian—a role she’s not sure she’s ready for.

But the Oysterville she left behind has changed. Her siblings have their own complicated lives and her aging parents are hoping to pass on their thriving seafood restaurant to the next generation. And there’s Will Jensen, a decorated Navy SEAL who’s also returned home after being wounded overseas. Will and Caroline were forever friends as children, with the promise of something more . . . until he fell in love with Sierra, Caroline’s best friend and the most beautiful girl in town. With her modeling jobs drying up, Sierra, too, is on the cusp of reinventing herself.

Caroline returns to her favorite place: the sewing shop owned by Mrs. Lindy Bloom, the woman who inspired her and taught her to sew. There she discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets. Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle—where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden.

Yet just as Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart. This time, though, Caroline is not going to run away. She’s going to stand and fight for everything—and everyone—she loves.

My Comments:

Have you ever read one of those books that just ties up too neatly?  Well, this is one of them.  While I enjoyed the story and admired a lot about Caroline, there were quite a few events in the book that made me raise my eyebrows--why in the world would any sensible person make THAT choice?  As a romance novel, I knew the ending of the Will/Caroline story right away, but some of the subplots has resolutions that I just didn't think rang true.  

Like many of Susan Wiggs' other books, this is set in a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone, or do they?  I wonder if she is setting up another series?  The setting was wonderful and I would like get better get to know some of the sewing ladies.  

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

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Review: Unforgettable You

About the Book:

Jada Brooks couldn’t have known how her life would change when she fell for bad boy Maddox Richardson back in high school. She couldn’t have known his troubled brother would leave hers forever crippled. Or that she’d be forced to shun Maddox completely—only to discover she was carrying his child.

Although Maddox was devastated by the events that transpired that fateful night, losing Jada was the worst of it. He’s back in Silver Springs, ready to make amends and provide the kind of youth outreach that once saved him. If he’d known Jada was in town, too, he would never have come. 

Jada has returned to Silver Springs to be with family after her father’s death. But when she sees Maddox, every tough decision she’s made concerning their now twelve-year-old daughter begins to haunt her. Falling for him again is so tempting, but not only does she stand to alienate her family—if he finds out about Maya, she could lose what matters most.

My Comments:

I'm a Catholic and one of the things we are supposed to do is forgive.  We aren't supposed to hold on to wounds, pick at scabs and generally stay mad at people.  This book is about people who don't follow that rule, and what it does to their lives.  

Yes, Jada's family had plenty of reason to be angry with Maddox, but by choosing to live in the past and to hang on to hurt, the main people they were hurting were themselves.  

The story is set at the same school for troubled kids that the other books in this series are.  The head of the school sees the good in both Jada and Maddox, and in another major character and it is through her and each other that these characters learn to forgive and move on with life.

As with many of Novak's book's the characters are the strong point. 

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

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Family of Strangers: My Review

About the Book:

All her life Ryan Gracey watched her perfect older sister from afar. Knowing she could never top Wendy’s achievements, she didn’t even try. Instead Ryan forged her own path while her family barely seemed to notice.

Now Wendy shares two little girls with her perfect husband while Ryan mourns the man she lost after a nearly fatal mistake in judgment. The sisters’ choices have taken them in different directions, which is why Ryan is stunned when Wendy calls, begging for her help. There’s been a murder—and Wendy believes she’ll be wrongfully accused.

While Wendy lies low, Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the nieces she hardly knows. The sleuthing skills she’s refined as a true-crime podcaster quickly rise to the surface as she digs for answers with the help of an unexpected ally. Yet the trail of clues Wendy’s left behind lead to nothing but questions. Blood may be thicker than water, but what does Ryan owe a sister who, with every revelation, becomes more and more a stranger?

Is Wendy, who always seemed so perfect, just a perfect liar—or worse?

My Comments:

I'm a reader of romance novels and women's fiction.  I rarely read murder mysteries, and when I do they tend to be packaged along with romance or women's fiction, like A Family of Strangers.  I'm smart enough to realize that these books are fiction, but when I finish reading any book, I like to think that once I accept the premise that these people lived at a certain time in a certain place, the rest of the book could be true--even if it is stupid self-published romance about aliens--once I accept that those aliens exist, I like to be able to consider the story plausible.  

This book begins with Ryan, who is a true-crime podcaster, getting a phone call from her much older sister.  The sister has been out of town on business, and is afraid she is going to be framed for a murder. She needs to disappear for a while.  Can Ryan watch the kids--she had left them with the grandparents, but Grandpa just had emergency heart surgery and Grandma can't handle everything.  Ok, so far, so good.  Maybe not the smartest move on the sister's part, but hey, I've never thought I'd be accused of murder, so who knows what was going through her mind.

Over the next few months, Ryan's sister, Wendy, drops some clues and Ryan does some sleuthing and finds out not only what likely happened to her sister, but also learned that some things about her own life weren't what she thought.  At the end, my only thought was "really?".  None of it made any sense.  Ryan followed this trail of clues but I just don't think that if the initiating incident had happened to the characters Richards drew that the rest of the story would have gone down that way.  Honestly the only halfway realistic part of the story was the romance plot and yes, surprisingly enough, she and the guy ended up together.  

While Emilee Richard's books are usually favorites, I'm afraid this one just wasn't.  

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGally.  Grade: C+

Monday, April 15, 2019

The View from Alameda Island

The View of Alameda Island

About the Book:

From the outside looking in, Lauren Delaney has a life to envy—a successful career, a solid marriage to a prominent surgeon and two beautiful daughters who are off to good colleges. But on her twenty-fourth wedding anniversary Lauren makes a decision that will change everything.

Lauren won’t pretend things are perfect anymore. She defies the controlling husband who has privately mistreated her throughout their marriage and files for divorce. And as she starts her new life, she meets a kindred spirit—a man who is also struggling with the decision to end his unhappy marriage.

But Lauren’s husband wants his “perfect” life back and his actions are shocking. Facing an uncertain future, Lauren discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had as she fights for the love and happiness she deserves.

My Comments:

This book was unbelievable.  I don't mean exceptionally good or exceptionally bad; I mean that so many improbable things happened that by the end of the book there was no doubt that it was fiction.  While there was nothing that happened that in and of itself was impossible, the combination just had me shaking my head.  

One of the impossible stories had to do with a Catholic priest.  After many years in the priesthood, the last few on the "bishop track" Fr. Tim decides that while he still has faith in God and in the Church, he no longer wants to be a priest--he wants to work for an organization that serves the poor, and, of course, he doesn't want to be celibate anymore.  Once he makes the decision to leave, he gets into a relationship with a woman he has known for years and in the space of a few months has been laicized and has married the woman in a Catholic church.  

Ok, I can accept that if Robyn Carr is not Catholic she wouldn't realize how impossible that is, but the book main character's first marriages are each abusive in their own way and the behavior of each ex just gets stranger and stranger as the book progresses.  If either one of them had a spouse like those it would be unusual; that they both did?  Just bizarre.  At the end of the book something  happens to the ex's and it is all just too convenient.  

On the other hand, I really liked Lauren and how she stepped up to take control of her life.  Her new man is everything her husband wasn't--focused on her and what is good for her rather than on himself.  

All in all, I've seen much better from Carr but she did keep me reading and involved in the story until the end.  

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  Grade:  B-

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