Review: Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

Three siblings visit their father in New Hampshire. They all have different ideas about how to help him as he ages. They have different ideas about how to help each other (or not). What they have in common is love for their dad, and an ache in their hearts missing their mom.

I generally enjoy books about families and New England, so this was right up my alley. The siblings’ relationships with each other and their spouses was true to life, and I identified with the frustration of having so many opinions in one space!

My favorite part of the story was watching the mom’s secrets unfold. It really goes to show you that you can’t know everything about even your family. We all hold back a tiny part of ourselves — and unless we write cookbook marginalia or we have a secret room, well, those secrets might stay hidden forever.

Well done, Elisabeth Hyde.

-calliope

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Review: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Sylvie and Dan try to spice up their marriage when it hits them that they have decades more of life together. In the midst of Dan working longer hours, Sylvie trying to save her employer from closing shop, and Sylvie still grieving for her late father, spicing up a marriage seems to be a tall order.

Kinsella brings to the forefront quirky characters (and I didn’t always understand their motivations until a scene was laid out for me, truth be told), family secrets, and the myriad ways people love each other. Cute, fun rom-com that was light on character development but full of charm.

-calliope

But SURPRISE ME

Review: A Vicarage Reunion by Kate Hewitt

Oh Esther and Will… hard workers, loyal to a fault, family-oriented… and then one trauma busts it all up and unearths some unexpressed feelings. Thankfully, their little town — including Esther’s family — provides the guardrails to help Esther and Will find their way.

Their struggle was real. I’ve felt it and I’m sure all married couples have felt it at some time in their marriage. Things are going fine until they aren’t. And sometimes the solution isn’t exactly staring anyone in the face. That’s why I am grateful for all the family and friends who witness wedding ceremonies – they’re there to help support the marriage when it’s foundering.

Kate Hewitt wrote more than just Esther and Will’s relationship though. There were family dinners, lonesome walks, friends meeting at the pub, sibling love, the wisdom of a mother, the comfort of a father, and so much forgiveness … all in a little village around an old vicarage in a wonderful, delightful series.

-calliope

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Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Louisa makes a go at being on her own in New York City! Moyes shows us that Lou is still a teensy bit not quite over the whole Will thing — and thankfully her city crush gets checked by reality before she gets too smitten. Caring for Agnes proves to be a struggle, kind of like it was with Will, but Moyes uses it as Louisa’s segue to better things.

By the end, Lou balances her natural talent for taking care of people with taking care of herself. Lou takes the opportunity to explore her passions, make new friends – shout out to Mrs DeWitt, the coolest building-mate ever – and grow up a little.

I don’t know what could be in store for a book four – maybe a year in the life of Lou and Sam – but I’m up for it!

-calliope

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Review: The Single Girl’s Calendar by Erin Green

Cute rom-com featuring Esmé who turns her life around from cheated-on-and-dependent to determined-and-independent. Loved the escapades while she shared the flat with four guys (and learned a little about herself in the process). Adored the neighbor lady and the relationship that was able to grow there. Was suitably annoyed by Esme’s brother – as anyone would be, even and especially Esmé! Green could’ve written better girl-friendships, and maybe had more memorable calendar ideas, but I enjoyed the read. Entertaining!

-calliope

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Review: Searching for Billy Shakespeare by Crista McHugh

What fun! Grad student Kate moves in to a unbeknownst-to-her-til-she-got-there posh apartment with a new, silly, girly-girl roommate, and boom, things start happening in her life.

The phone rings, and a gorgeous voice on the other end starts talking, looking for his sister (the roommate) but spending an awful lot of conversation on Kate. Roommate girl’s blondie friends give Kate a makeover (gasp) and help her find her inner fun self. Between the roommate and Gabe nudging Kate to know more of herself than just the Shakespeare-dissertation-writer, Kate develops newfound passion for her grad work and her social life.

This tale of silliness absolutely brightened my week. I didn’t care that there was actually no good plot reason for the roommate to ask Kate to live there, nor that Kate seemed uncharacteristically good natured about a bunch of strangers taking her out for 12 hours. I didn’t care that a few plot points were underdeveloped, or that the roommate did something a little unexpected and possibly contrived. Know why? Because this book made me smile. It’s a good bit of fun in a roller coaster world, and I’m totally glad I read it.

-calliope

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Review: The Cotswolds Cookery Club by Alice Ross

This book is actually a compilation of three serial novellas… just so you know… because I was thrown for a loop when I finished the first novella at 34%, previously having thought it was a novel, and wondering what the heck the other 66% could be! Now that that’s sorted…

I really enjoyed these entertaining novellas, each focusing on one member of the casual, put-together-on-a-whim, friendly club of women who like to cook. Alice Ross did a wonderful job making the friendships come to life and drawing the reader into each woman’s joys and pains. These are lighthearted stories, though there are a few heavy-hearted conversations among the friends about love, marriage, and children.

As an aside, I found it pretty awesome that one of the recipes a character makes is Patatas Bravas – the same dish my teenager had to make as part of a group project for her high school Spanish class.

So… each story has some seriousness, some playfulness, and a couple of out-loud laughs, but my most favorite happily ever after was in book 3 when karma makes an appearance, and the comeuppance is delish.

-calliope

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