A heart-touching story about a curmudgeon who owns a bookstore on a small island. His wife has died (she was the people person)and the bookstore is experiencing its worst financial year ever. On his own, he’s not sure if he and the bookstore will make it. Does he even want to? Especially after his favorite, most valuable book is stolen. But then a special package arrives and his life will never be the same. Sections of the bookseller’s life are related to books or passages in books that have helped him throughout his life. Illustrates how literature can influence your everyday life and how love can change everything.
Willow Chance is a special girl; she is interested in plants and medical diagnosis; she is an undiscovered genius. Willow has just started middle school when she aces a standardized test and is accused of cheating. This sends her to Dell Duke, incompetent counselor, and allows her to meet her only friend Mai, whose brother Quang-ha sees Dell as well. These are the people around her when her world is destroyed. Her adoptive parents are killed in a car crash. Suddenly Willow is alone in the world with no family and no place to go. Mai takes charge and convinces her mother to allow Willow to stay with them, pretending she is a family friend even though they have never met. Mai’s mother Pattie is from Vietnam and operates a nail salon. The family lives in a one room garage behind the salon, which would definitely not pass a social services inspection. So Pattie convinces Dell to let them pretend to live in his apartment. She takes charge and transforms it into a home. Before you know it Willow, Mai, Pattie, Quang-ha and Dell are like a real family. Willow slowly comes out of her grief as the family comes together, but will she be able to stay with her new family or will the state take her away and destroy all she has known again?
This is one of those books that will break your heart. Willow’s grief on losing her parents is real and visceral. You can feel and understand her pain as she shuts completely down. Willow is also very strange; her interests are strange; she doesn’t interact with people in what is considered a normal way; she doesn’t fit in. But she fits with this new group of people and she brings them together as a family.
After reading this book for the second time I am still torn about my feelings for it. On one hand I really love the how Willow is able to build a family after tragedy. On the other there are several things that really bothered me about the book. First is the fact that Willow is not forced to go to school for months. Her case worker, the school district, Pattie, Dell, none of them make her go to school. She tells them she isn’t ready and they drop it just like that. She is supposed to be homeschooling during this time, but no one checks on that either. Second is the fact that Dell is completely incompetent as a counselor and yet is given all the tough cases to deal with. He doesn’t even attempt to help these kids and who knows what becomes of all the others besides Willow and Quang-ha. Third is the fact that Willow is immediately suspected of cheating on the standardized test she aces even though she has tested as gifted in the past. There is no retesting or attempts to figure out if she is just truly genius. She is just labeled a cheater and sent to counseling. This seemed off to me. Fourth is the fact that Willow’s house and the parents’ estate is never mentioned. Just because someone dies doesn’t mean the bills stop. Who is taking care of that? At some point you assume the house will be sold, but surely Willow will be consulted. I just really wanted to know what happened to that house and the garden that Willow so loved. I thought it was wrong that she completely abandoned it even after she started coming out of her grief. The last thing is the ending…it is way too Disney-perfect. The entire time I was reading it I assumed Pattie would somehow get custody of Willow. There was no way the book was going to end with her losing her family again. However, at the end Pattie somehow ends up being rich; rich enough to buy an apartment building in California. Seems she was forcing her family to live in the garage so she could save up some cash. Really!!???! She always came across as a hard-working mom trying to build up her business and keep her family going. Plus she makes Dell pay for everything! The bonus of this is one is Pattie’s romance with Jairo which also seems to come out of left field. Suddenly there is a built-in wealthy family for Willow to become a part of. I still really like this book and will recommend it, but I wish the ending wouldn’t have been so perfect. Willow could have still been adopted by Pattie even if she wasn’t wealthy right?
Successful, wealthy and absurdly handsome – Spanish ex-football player Mateo Casalles seemed like he had it all. A high-society wife, an adorable little girl, and flashy apartments in Madrid and Barcelona only sweetened the deal. But there was more to Mateo than met the eye – a life of uncertainty and regret that colored his black and white world.
That was until Vera Miles came into his life like a shooting star. Tattooed, wild and young, Vera seemed like Mateo’s polar opposite at first. But you can’t choose who you fall in love with and the two lost souls did everything they could to be together, all while suffering the grave consequences.
Now with Mateo divorced and living in Madrid with Vera, there is a whole new set of challenges and setbacks facing the couple and rocking the foundation of their star-crossed relationship.
Unfortunately for them, the brighter the star, the faster they burn.
Another enjoyable mystery by Juliet Blackwell. Minor peeve, I wish that the main character, the witch Lily would NOT have so easily dismissed the danger happening to various characters. Sometimes there’s a fine line between courageous and foolhardy. The mystery was Not crafted as well as the first book. I did like the continuing background information on Lily’s childhood though. Not as good as the first title in the series. I hope to see more of Beowulf, the cat.
Gone Girl was a cleverly written book and very hard to put down once I began reading it. Flynn made you believe in the husband’s guilt almost from the start until she did an about-face with both her characters. I have to say that I wish the ending were slightly different. I did not like either one of the main characters after I finished reading and felt they deserved one another. I sympathized with the poor baby yet to be born having two such parents. Yet, perhaps our dislike of the characters at the end of their story is what the author intended.
I greatly enjoyed this book especially as I had made a recent trip to this part of Missouri last summer. Jetta Carleton captures the essence of a Missouri family in early twentieth century as they go through the trials and hardships of a life many mid-westerners will be familiar with. The book is fast paced and can be easily read in just a couple of days. Once I got started I didn’t want to put the down.
When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.
Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.
They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.
Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.
Description from Goodreads.com.
In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.
But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.
A Sudden Light is a rich, atmospheric work that is at once a multigenerational family saga, a historical novel, a ghost story, and the story of a contemporary family’s struggle to connect with each other. A tribute to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, it reflects Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation, and his rare ability to see the unseen: the universal threads that connect us all.
Description from Goodreads.com.
He speaks Spanish. I speak English.
He lives in Spain. I live in Canada.
He dresses in thousand-dollar suits. I’m covered in tattoos.
He’s married and has a five-year old daughter.
I’m single and can’t commit to anyone or anything.
Until now.Because when they say you can’t choose who you fall in love with, boy ain’t that the damn truth.
To a restless dreamer like Vera Miles, it sounded like the experience of a lifetime. Instead of spending her summer interning for her astronomy major, she would fly to Spain where she’d spend a few weeks teaching conversational English to businessmen and women, all while enjoying free room and board at an isolated resort. But while Vera expected to get a tan, meet new people and stuff herself with wine and paella, she never expected to fall in love.
Mateo Casalles is unlike anyone Vera has ever known, let alone anyone she’s usually attracted to. While Vera is a pierced and tatted free spirit with a love for music and freedom, Mateo is a successful businessman from Madrid, all sharp suits and cocky Spanish charm. Yet, as the weeks go on, the two grow increasingly close and their relationship changes from purely platonic to something…more.
Something that makes Vera feel alive for the first time.
Something that can never, ever be.
Or so she thinks.
Prince Aspen and midwife Snail are on the run from both the Seelie and Unseelie armies. They have unintentionally started a war between the two courts. On the road they meet up with Professor Odds and his band of misfit players. Together with a new mother troll and her baby, they hit the road to evade the armies. Professor Odds is not what he seems however, and has ulterior motives for recruiting Snail. Turns out she is a changeling, a human child stolen into the faery world. Professor Odds is recruiting changelings to take on whichever army wins the war. Prince Aspen just wants to stop the war however he can, but at this point it is pretty inevitable.
So I didn’t read the first book of the series but this one does a nice job of summing up the events. There is a lot of humor with the dwarves and the dog/carpet thing and the troll. There is a nice cast of characters taken straight out of faery lore, though I do wish some of them had been more explained. I know what a red cap is, but young readers probably do not. This book sets up the final book in the trilogy very nicely and I am sure fans will be eagerly awaiting the conclusion.
Jessie and Evan Treski are over a year apart in age but in the same class at school. Jessie is smart and skipped a grade. They live with their mom in a big, old house that seems to always need something fixed. Mom is getting ready to go on a trip when dad suddenly shows up. Dad has been out of their lives for a while. He is a war reporter and always gone. Since the divorce he might pop in for a day every once in a while but never stays long. When their babysitter has an accident and can’t stay with them, dad decides he can handle the kids for a week while mom is gone. The only problem is dad is not real good with parenting. He is always on the phone and does a lot of things mom would not approve of.
Evan has become obsessed with magic and wants to put on a magic show. He needs a big finally however to make the show great. Dad actually helps out when he gets Evan a bunny and a magic box. Jessie volunteers to be the assistant and they prepare for the magic show in the backyard. Only problem is a hurricane is heading up the east coast right for them. Dad needs to catch a plane before the airport closes so he takes off unexpectedly leaving the kids by themselves. Mom’s flight home is cancelled because of the hurricane. The kids are left on their own to endure the hurricane and the damage it causes.
I haven’t read the rest of this series but I don’t think you have to in order to enjoy this book. I liked how resourceful and intelligent Jessie and Evan were. They were fine on their own in incredible circumstances. I thought the dad was a bit over the top. I’m not sure even the worst parent would leave two kids home alone with a hurricane approaching, but you never know. I liked how Evan really worked with Jessie when she got over-excited. I am assuming she is somewhere on the autism spectrum even though it was never stated. I thought it was good that it was portrayed as just a part of their everyday life. Evan knew how to calm her and get her back on track.
Pete Watson has been saving up to buy the newest version of his favorite video game. One the day it goes on sale he finds an IOU from his mom and is $20 short. So he decides to have an impromptu garage sale where he sells his dad’s old gaming console to a bug guy. When he goes to buy his new game he sees his dad kidnapped and learns from his neighbor that dad was really a CIA analyst and the game console has all the CIA secrets on it. Pete enlists the help of his friend Wesley and Wesley’s sister to stop the bad guys and rescue his dad. At this point dad has been digitized and downloaded into the console. Pete goes in after him and together they have to save the world.
So this is definitely a book that will appeal to middle grade boys. It has a lot of action and humor and is about video games. As an adult reader I thought it was pretty silly. It is a mix of War Games, Scooby Doo and a spy caper. I really liked the chapter headings — they are hilarious — and the illustrations. The story takes a lot of suspension of belief to read without rolling your eyes, but I am sure the intended audience will eat it up.
Jeremy Logan has a highly-unusual profession- one which brings him to the strangest of places and experiences. He is an enigmalogist, an expert investigator of the bizarre and paranormal, and has been hired to work some of the most puzzling historical hauntings and mysteries in the world. When clandestinely hired by Porter Stone, the world’s most successful treasure hunter, he wonders why his expertise is needed. Porter believes he is about to discover the tomb of Egypt’s first unified pharaoh, Narmer, buried deep within the Sudd- a massive, nearly-impenetrable marsh on the upper Nile. The threat of what is protecting this tomb is what has prompted Porter to seek Jeremy’s help.
Lincoln Child is best known for writing as a team with Douglas Preston, but I’ve enjoyed his standalone adventures nearly as much. The setting and quest of this one couldn’t be much more up my alley. Porter’s base of operations in the Sudd is wonderfully inventive, and the search for the tomb exciting. Unfortunately, a twist in the tale is hinted at far too many times to be surprising, and the novel quickly fades at the end, offering frenetic action with little emotional impact, before fizzing out in the muddy Sudd. I was hoping for a little more.
Treasure is heart-broken when her dad takes off and doesn’t come back. He has left before but never for this long. He has itchy feet and can’t seem to stay in one place for very long. Treasure’s mom decides she is going to go look for him. She takes Treasure and her sister Tiffany to great aunt Grace’s house. Grace is an old, cranky woman whose house is full of dust and cigarette smoke, which aggravates Treasure’s asthma. She runs a candy store where she makes Treasure and Tiffany work while they are staying with her. Treasure is sure their father is just looking for the perfect place for them to finally settle down for good. She holds onto that dream until she can no longer overlook the obvious.
I loved Treasure’s story. She is spunky and out-spoken and perfect. Great aunt Grace is a wonderful character as well. I loved how cranky she was with everyone even though she secretly has a pretty soft heart. I thought the story was pretty realistic with Treasure and Tiffany trying to fit into their new circumstances and come to terms with the new reality of their lives. Treasure has created a hard shell around herself because they move so often, so she doesn’t want to make friends or become attached. I thought the two bullying girls were handled really well. It is often the ones who look perfect on the outside that are the biggest bullies. I also liked that the other girl struggled with how mean they were being. Wonderful story that I highly recommend!
Edmund Lonnrot is a middle school student at a prestigious school in New York. He is in danger of going to public school after his dad loses his job. Edmund definitely doesn’t want that to happen. One afternoon while he and his dad are getting ice cream they become witnesses to an assault. Edmund’s photographic memory allows him to accurately draw a picture of the assailant. Turns out the guy is part of an art thief gang that the police are trying to catch. Suddenly, Edmund’s skills are in demand to help identify the gang members and catch them before they pull off their heist. Edmund becomes Eddie Red and starts spending a lot of time in museums. Eddie feels like the police are keeping information from him so he enlists the help of his friend Jonah to solve the case. Turns out the police are way off base so it is up to Eddie and Jonah to stop the thieves.
There was something a bit old-school about this caper that I really enjoyed. I liked that Eddie and Jonah had to be as smart as the thieves to figure out what was going on. I thought it was interesting how misguided and resistant the police were to Eddie’s help, but I guess I wouldn’t want a kid telling me how to do my job either. I appreciated the fact that Eddie’s parents were in the picture and actually interested in what he was doing. That was a nice change from so many middle grade books where the parents always seem to be either dead or absent. This book sets up the Eddie Red series nicely and I am sure fans will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Casey Snowden loves baseball. His dad and granddad run the third best umpire school in the country (out of three). He likes nothing better than seeing the students come in, getting back together with the instructors and You Suck Ump Day. This year the ump school coincides with Casey starting middle school. Casey loves baseball but doesn’t want to play or be an ump, he wants to be a sports reporter. Now that he is in middle school he thinks he’ll get the chance to write for the school newspapers. His hopes are dashed when he is told that sixth graders don’t get to write. They have to pay their dues by selling ad space before they become reporters. Casey doesn’t want to give up his dreams and works hard to come up with the most amazing story ever to get in the paper. Things aren’t going so well at home either. Fewer students have signed up for umpire school this year, which means some of the instructors haven’t been rehired either. Casey has to plan You Suck Ump Day himself with the help of his best friend. Casey’s mom is also back in the picture. She left them for Bob the Baker and has been absent for a while. Casey is still mad at her and wants nothing to do with her, but his dad is forcing him to spend time with mom.
There is a lot going on in this book which makes it pretty heavy at times. Casey seems to go from one issue to the next: school problems, bullies, financial problems at home, mom issues, questions about whether dad is moving the school to Florida. All the issues fit into the story, but because there is so much going on it feels like nothing is ever truly developed well. Maybe with fewer issues, the ones remaining could have been truly fleshed out. I liked the uniqueness of the umpire school. I’ve never even heard of it or read anything with it as a subject. I really liked the relationship between Casey and his best friend. It added a lot of humor to the otherwise kind of heavy story.
Annie is on her way to see her dying grandmother who she has never met. Grandma Mary lives in an empty hotel and is a mean, cranky woman. During a storm, Annie travels back in time to 1937 and meets her grandma as a young girl. Mary goes by Molly and is locked in the “lonely room” because she has asthma and her parents don’t want her to die. Molly is unhappy and a bit self-centered until Annie arrives. Annie helps Molly escape the room and they go on adventures throughout the town: roller-skating in Woolworths, experiencing a fair on the docks, traveling through the laundry chute and the dumb waiter at the hotel. As much as Annie enjoys getting to know her grandma and experiencing 1937, she really just wants to get back to her own time and mom.
This book has a bit of The Secret Garden and a bit of The Magic Half and a bit of Eloise. It was a fun historical read with a time travel twist. I loved the setting of the hotel and all the mischief the girls could get into. I do wish there would have been a bit more about the historical time period. It is set in the Great Depression, which Molly being a rich, white girl doesn’t really experience. The girls notice it more on their trips out in town, but it is barely mentioned at all. Molly seems to have lots of money to spend, but no concept of how much things are actually worth, which makes sense when you realize she has never been out of her room. I enjoyed the book overall, but just wanted a little bit more from it.
Tom and Eddie are very special twins. Tom lives on EarthOne in 2012, Eddie lives on EarthTwo in 1958. They are half-aliens and have telepathic powers. They are the Earths’ only hope for survival because the aliens want to destroy both worlds. There is no mention of the mother, but Tom/Eddie’s father and grandfather are both aliens who happen to be able to be in two places at once. Eddie comes to EarthOne and the twins and their friends embark on a tour to promote TechOff! Day. Of course the men in black are after them because they think the twins know about the aliens. People keep disappearing off the tour with no explanation. There are car chases, Guantanamo style torture of kids, alien rescues, displays of telepathic power and a spaceship chase into space. All of this adds up to one crazy story that makes little sense. It is told from multiple points of view which lead to a less than cohesive narrative. I think everyone got a chapter and was surprised when the dog didn’t. I think the book would have been stronger if told in a third person narrative that gave more cohesion to the story instead of multiple first person narratives. As it was there was a lot of tell and very little show to the book. I haven’t read the first book and maybe that would have cleared up some of the mess. But this book does claim to be a stand alone novel. The story was so implausible and senseless that it was difficult to read. The aliens created EarthTwo as a type of experiment; cloning the planet and putting it 60 years in the past. Yet they take no responsibility for it and their interest really isn’t explained. The whole men in black scenario was so ridiculous I felt like I was reading a mish-mash of bad scifi movie plots. This is definitely a story you can pass on.
Jada Stanley is starting over, freeing herself from her past. Following the rules she’s given herself is easy enough, until she meets HIM. He’s gorgeous, cocky, and everything she needs to avoid, but that’s easier said than done.
Cane Alexander has his own set of rules, a plan to keep his life simple and free of complications. But when he sets his sights on Jada, she proves to be a temptation he just can’t resist.
Walls crumble, resolve fades, and precious rules are bent.
They can’t help but take a chance on each other, but chances come with risk. As the past rears its ugly head in ways they never see coming, will they revert back to protecting themselves? Or will they realize that the other is the exception to every rule they’ve ever made?
Description from Goodreads.com.
Diana Reid is an investigative reporter skilled at uncovering other people’s secrets. It’s her own secret that she’ll go to great lengths to keep buried—a secret that drove her to leave her fiancé and hometown of Diamond, Texas eight years ago. All that’s about to change when she receives a letter stating people are dying, and implicating her hometown’s largest employer. With no other choice, Diana risks her life and her secrets by returning to Diamond, Texas to uncover the deadly plot.
It took Brad Jordan years to put his life back together after Diana walked out on him. Leaving his brother in charge of the family business, Jordan Industries, Brad pursued a law degree and is now mayor of Diamond, Texas. Just as he rebuilt his life after Diana’s desertion, he plans to rebuild his hometown by bringing in new industry and businesses. Those plans are threatened, however, when an El Paso physician notifies Brad that his family’s company may be conducting illegal practices and sacrificing the public’s health. The doctor’s evidence is circumstantial at best, but just the hint of impropriety will shut down the company and bankrupt the town.
Brad is further conflicted when the physician suggests bringing in Diana Reid to uncover the wrongdoing. Diana is the last person he wants to see professionally or personally, and he nixes the idea. Unfortunately, she shows up anyway. Torn between his family and his oath of office, and recognizing she may be Brad’s only option to get at the truth, he’ll join forces with the very woman he’s vowed to forget.
Together, Diana and Brad face a dangerous adversary intent on keeping their deadly agenda buried.
Description from Goodreads.com.