Review: A Miracle on Hope Street by Emma Heatherington

Everyone loves a Christmas miracle, and though agony-aunt columnist Ruth Ryans has advised many a citizen on how best to obtain theirs, she has no hope for her own. It all started when Ruth’s dad died, and her zest for life, her job and her friends kind of just went kaput.

But a couple of pals unexpectedly lift her up, and Ruth muddles through the letters for her column, realizing that the loneliness of her readers jibes with her own. She tries reaching out to others – and it works, nudging her out of her own head. There’s one big hurdle — finding her mom — and that thread carries throughout most of the book, providing a backbone for the subplots.

This is a feel-good book that gives hope to people missing their loved ones — without being contrived or syrupy sweet. I pegged the ending way back in the mid to early chapters, but that’s okay, because a happily ever after is a happily ever after… and that’s what I’m looking for 6 weeks before Christmas!

By the way, you’ll meet the most beautiful people in this book. My favorites are Gloria – what an angel – and Nicholas, the pianist. They spread joy far and wide, and Emma Heatherington is wonderful for writing them.

-calliope

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Review: The Reckless Club by Beth Vrabel

First, apologies for not writing this the first week of October when The Reckless Club was first released. You or your kiddos have waited too long already to read this book. Perfect for middle schoolers, The Reckless Club is a tweenage-appropriate glance at The Breakfast Club, with the extra twists and turns you’d expect from kids this age.

Beth Vrabel did a great job writing varied characters who have personal quirks that showed me a little bit of their souls. And better yet, the kids got a glimpse of each other’s souls, what made them tick, what made them hurt, and what made them better people.

In this world of divisiveness, where people say things on social media that they would never say to someone’s face, we need commentary on the benefits of seeing each other as human beings. The Reckless Club takes that stand, shining a light on the real people underneath what other people see as a drama queen, a nerd, an athlete…

This book reminded me not to judge until I’ve walked a mile in the other person’s shoes. It would make a great Christmas gift for any middle schooler you know, or their teacher.

-Calliope

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Review: Calypso by David Sedaris

If you’ve read a Sedaris book and hated it…well…you won’t like this one either…I also have to ask why the hell not? Do you take life too seriously?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Sedaris takes life way too seriously, hence why he is so bitter and so very snarky.

I lost track how many times I laughed out loud during this one. Despite all the laughter there was some serious issues going on in this one. I come from a family that isn’t really what you would call close. I am not so daft as to not realise that the lack of family bonding I’ve had hasn’t affected me a great deal with my “grown up” issues. So whilst reading this, I just have to marvel at all the times Sedaris and his family attempt to be a family, despite the fact that they often don’t seem to feel that closeness…or perhaps that closeness is why they continue to reach out to one another. Don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious that Sedaris has a close bond with some of his siblings, however I often get the feeling that with others, meh, not so much…Maybe because of his age he makes those attempts and I still have a few years to get it right myself…after all, Sedaris also makes it clear that for many years of his youth he was out of touch with everyone on the planet, including himself!

However, I don’t think that’s it. Maybe my wires are completely severed and beyond repair…but alas, Sedaris in all his snark makes it pretty clear to me that it’s a choice I make…just like it’s a choice he makes to continue on…even though both of us might feel like it’s not really a choice at all…

See, I guess this isn’t a review, but it’s just the musings that reading the book has brought me to…

Regardless of all of that, if you love Sedaris even a little bit, you should hurry up and get to this one…

Why? ***Skip to the end if you’re easily offended*** Well, because honestly, now I can’t wait to to tell some to shove their fist up me arse and give my shite a good wanking off…you too, might need this ultimate insult information as well one day…

Honestly, maybe I shouldn’t post this review on my blog now…but dang it, after I picked my jaw up off the floor I almost fell down with the laughter at this ultimate insult..don’t we all need some honest to god outrageous and inappropriate belly laughs such as this from time to time…and Sedaris, as always, is happy to provide them for us…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it here Calypso by David Sedaris

Review: Oh My Stars by Sally Kilpatrick

Love this author. Kilpatrick writes small southern tales with such authenticity. In Oh My Stars, Ivy finds herself playing Mary in a living nativity scene reminiscent of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Lucky for Ivy, Joseph is played by the town pediatrician. Why lucky? Because the baby Jesus turns out to be a real swaddled child in need of help.

So what else? Well…

Heartwarming, realistically seasonal (Christmas is never actually all ice skates, snowflakes, and hot cocoa), and uplifting. Paints the picture of a dysfunctional family without pejorative connotation. And makes me want to read more Sally Kilpatrick, Christmas or not.

-calliope

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Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Sometimes, not nearly enough times, mind you, but sometimes a book comes along and it changes you.

It doesn’t just break your heart, it crumbles it. It grinds it to bits. Sure you can gather all the bits and try to put them back together again, but it will never be the same. Just like crumbled biscuits you can gather them all together and make an amazing biscuit pudding (here’s a recipe! goo.gl/rPn9JF ) but no matter how hard you try to imagine it is hard to remember what the biscuits started out as.

That is my heart now. Different than it was before I started this novel. Perhaps a bit bigger, maybe even a bit better, maybe not, but certainly forever changed.

In the vast history of discrimination in the USA it is sometimes easy to focus on some types, whilst brushing the others under the straw mats of backwoods shacks.

Kya is beautiful. She is mysterious. She is a treasure. Not because she is different, but because she is the same. We all have that need to be seen and to be loved. Even whilst we run from these things, we often are just trying to see if someone will ‘stick’ regardless of it all.

I could go on and on about how an entire (except for a select VERY few) failed Kya. Instead I will challenge everyone, myself included, to see beyond the perceived facts we make about those we know not, and instead, see to the person that actually exists. The richness we find ourselves in or out of in this life, the country we live in, the religion we believe, the religion we scoff at, the colour of our skin, the education we have, well, so oftentimes, it’s just a roll of the dice. We have no control over it. It is decided before we are even born. We are all privileged in some way that another is not. Does that privilege make us a better, or a more worthy person? Or does it mean we need to try harder to be conscious of this and look deeper at those that aren’t so ‘fortunate’ as ourselves? If nothing else, I hope this book shows us that at the end of the day, we are not just cheating those we cast aside, but also ourselves by our inability to see the treasures right before our eyes.

Read this book. I could hardly put it down.

My heart is still ebbing with every rise and fall of the tides…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it here

Review: The Last House on Sycamore Street by Paige Roberts

The Last House on Sycamore Street frames up a slice of life as a suburban mom. You’ve got the preschool /playdate social stratosphere, the how-much-should-i-work dilemma, and the keeping up with the Joneses drama. Except the Joneses are the former owners of the last house on Sycamore Street.

I liked this book – I could identify with the mom and her struggle to work but not work too much. I LOVED that she and her husband had a great marriage – something not every contemporary novel ensures. And the kids were cute – their smarts, their antics, and their occasional obnoxiousness.

But the former homeowners. Whew. What a piece of work those two are. And there’s the rub. I thought with a nutty couple like that, there would be bound to be a plot twist or a psychological thriller element. No such luck, and so I was a bit disappointed. (But to be fair, it was an expectation I came up with from thin air!) So… not a very climactic story, but a contemporary look at life in the suburbs from a people-pleasing mom’s perspective.

-calliope

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Review: Mercy’s Chase by Jess Lourey

FBI agent Salem Wiley is a tough cookie who was raised by an even tougher cookie. In this book 2 of a series, Salem needs to solve a decades-old mystery involving Stonehenge, secret codes, and underground societies.

I never knew who to trust in this book (I mean, neither did Salem!), and that kept me on the edge of my seat. Even when Salem thought she knew someone… e.g. Agent Lucan Stone… she had no guarantee that her government partners, family members, or colleagues had her back.

I loved the adventure and the suspense, I totally missed a fabulous clue about who the bad guy was, and I got to be a fly on the wall watching conspiracy theories and patriarchal politics intersect. Plus, Salem Wiley pretty much had me by the arm, bringing me from one point of interest to another, giving me the sightseeing tour of a lifetime. Really a fun ride.

-calliope

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