Review: Kiss Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

I love these quick and fun Willoughby Close novels. Trying circumstances send a person to Willoughby Close to rent a cottage on manor property. The person grows in various ways, gets a hand up if necessary, chooses a direction, and makes their life the best they can. Kiss Me is Ava’s story… and boy howdy does she need a cottage to live in after her rich husband dies and leaves her with next to nothing, not even one of their several homes. 

At Willoughby Close, Ava learns how to interact with people on a friendly and neighborly level, reach out when someone needs help, and show her true colors instead of putting on a façade. Ava finds more than just her strength at Willoughby… she also finds the handsome and sensitive alpha groundskeeper, throwing a wrench into all her plans to be independent. 

While Ava is surrounded by good people who want to help her, she does plenty of helping herself — and even taking the time for a young woman who could use a break. 

I love that Hewitt focuses on second chances, and it’s uplifting to see good people making something positive out of those chances. 

-Calliope

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Review: Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

This installment of The Matchmakers series is just as good as the rest were – and fine to read as a standalone. What sets this one apart is the angst! Most of Beckstrand’s other books are fun and flip, adventuresome and whimsical. In Return to Huckleberry Hill, Reuben deals with the demon of pride, and though I didn’t feel bad for him in the least, I did sympathize with those around him. 

Fern King, too, deals with demons. Oh how I wanted to cry for her — trying to be strong, always showing a cheerful face, never complaining, yet truly dying inside. Fern endures so much, and I really almost couldn’t take it! (I’ll never forgive you, Ms. Beckstrand, if Barbara Schmucker doesn’t get her due.)  But Fern also gets to see Reuben and her brother John in a new environment – and witness their growth (or lack of it). 

Anna and Felty remain the cute elderly couple that gets in everyone’s business trying to make love connections. I haven’t tired of them yet, and I’m almost endeared to Anna’s creative cooking.  

This is a non-traditional Amish novel in that it doesn’t center around faith and obedience as much as some might; yet Beckstrand gives the main characters the gift of self-reflection… something that made me want to be best friends with Fern, and let me forgive Reuben for almost all of his trespasses. 

-Calliope

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Review: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

east-of-edenI realise I’m going to take a lot of smack from many friends for my low rating of this novel….but it really just isn’t the book for me. I just didn’t much care about any of it….I couldn’t get into it….and by the time I gave up hope of getting involved with the characters, I just wanted it to end….it took FOREVER for that to actually happen….but I did stick it though until the end…..now all I can think of is all those books I could have been reading…

I often avoided “classic novels” in the past, just because I was afraid I would hate them. However, I no longer worry about hating them. So if I think they might interest me, I read them. If a new thriller comes out I think I might like, I will read it too. Or a *fluff* book. I read for me. Me alone.

There are many classics I love, despite them being hundreds of years old and labeled as classic. I no longer feel inferior if I hate them. I’ve never been the type to feel superior if I love them either. Reading has never been about impressing others. It’s always been about trying to impress myself with the wonderment of words set to a page…to have those words move me…to entertain me…to show me the world in a different light…to take me to a different world…or maybe even to inspire me to change something in my life…be it my views or my actions…but it’s never been about lying to impress someone else…so there you have it…

I hated this book…

Until next time…
Urania

Buy it now East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Review: The Salt House by Lisa Duffy

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Full of beauty and sorrow at the same time.  Heartbreaking but also uplifting.  A tale of despair yet also one of hope.  All of these things together make this an unforgettable story.

Hope and Jack have a great life.  They have three beautiful daughters, a nice home, a successful business.  Happiness.  But then tragedy strikes. And they are left with just two daughters.  Each family member copes, or doesn’t, in their own way.

A year later, they are at a standstill.  Time has put distance between them and their grief, but they haven’t really moved on.  Jack loses himself in his lobster fishing.  Hope loses herself in the memories of her lost daughter.  And the younger girls just go on being kids.

Everything comes to a head when a forgotten part of Jack’s past shows up at their door.  High school rivalries are reignited, this time with adult consequences.  Through it all Hope and Jack struggle to move past their grief and save their family.

Tragedies happen, families have to find ways to deal with them.   Told from alternating perspectives, this book takes us deep inside one family’s grief and their attempts to overcome it.  Each family member is dealing with their own struggles along with the collective struggle of the family.  It’s beautifully written, almost poetically so.  A story I won’t soon forget!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Salt House

 

Review: Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1) by Sarah Addison Allen

garden-spellsWhat in the world did I do before I found Sarah Addison Allen when i needed a touch of magic in my life? Oh my….I just love her books more and more….I think I’ve appreciated and loved each book I’ve read more than the previous ones….I really enjoyed this one from SAA…..I’m sad that I only have one more to go….what will I do now? Where will I find the magic in everyday life? Yep…she needs to write faster!!!

If you haven’t ever tried SAA, please do. I never expected to love her so much. Don’t go thinking it’s all unreal and not believable because I mentioned magic. There’s just a tad…and only enough to assure you that, yes, magic really does exist in the world…and who doesn’t believe that, or at least wish they could believe in magic?

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Review: Pearl by Jo Knowles

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I love Jo Knowles.  Some of my favorite books ever were written by her.  See You at Harry’s is one I won’t forget, and if you haven’t read it you really should.  But this review is about one of her older ones, Pearl.

Pearl and Henry are best friends.  One of the things they have in common is the strangeness of their mothers, although they’re nothing alike.  Henry’s mother is hugely overweight and doesn’t leave the house.  Pearl’s mother is not very involved, to put it mildly.  Luckily Pearl has grandfather Gus, the stable force in her life. But then Gus dies.  And in addition to being without the only parent she’s really had, Pearl now has to deal with family secrets that she never would have dreamed of.

This won’t go down as one of my favorites from this author.  Parts of the story were farfetched.  But the brilliant writing style of  Knowles more than makes up for that.

~Thalia

Buy it Now:  Pearl

Review: The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

New England family saga set in a beach town – my cup of tea! Author Michelle Gable puts the reader on Cissy’s bicycle for a Nantucket journey through time. The Cliff House holds memories and secrets – and Gable does a phenomenal job weaving them together. With flashbacks to the 1940s, we find out what the Cliff House meant to Cissy’s mother … then fast forward to find out what makes it so hard for Cissy to leave. 

My favorites parts were the Bess parts. Love that Cissy’s daughter came to “save” her from herself -and Mother Nature.  Bess is a woman I can identify with – good head on her shoulders, self-reliant, smart. When she’s dealt a raw deal, Bess puts it aside to help her mom. And when high school ex boyfriend Evan comes into the picture, Bess lets herself lean on him just a little bit. 

I’m not a flashback kinda reader, so I wish this was actually two separate books. I loved the Ruby-Hattie friendship and the marriage issues described in the ’40s and could’ve read about that all day long.  I also totally enjoyed some of the contemporary romance going on in the 2010s – as well as the mother-daughter dynamic and the environmental issues that arose on the island cliffs. But mostly the romance. 🙂

-Calliope 

Buy THE BOOK OF SUMMER