Review: A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe 

Lovely story, but not what I expected. I thought, “A wedding! France! Cheese! Pastry!” And I got a wedding… but not until the very very end; France… well a part of France  caught very much in between England and France in language and culture; cheese… yes, but not everyone liked it; and pastry… oh the very best pastries and cakes made by chef Juliette. 

Juliette set aside her personal baggage to be Max’s personal chef. For Juliette, life was even easier that way. When Max invited a bunch of friends to stay at his home for the weekend, Juliette was ready to cook for them like a madwoman. But things went wrong at every turn due to the shadow Max’s mood cast. Whether he meant to or not, Max kind of ruined everything for his friends and his chef. And that kind of ruined the story for me. 
Good writing, good plot, depressing main character. 

-calliope 

Buy A FRENCH WEDDING

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: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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In spite of the wide range of tastes we Muses have in books, there have been several times two of us have read & reviewed the same book. But I do believe this may be the first threepeat.  And it’s one that’s well worthy of that distinction.

A nurse.  A new father. An up and coming attorney.  After the unexpected death of a newborn, their paths cross in a most unfortunate way.  Ruth has worked hard to get where she is, and as a much respected nurse she never expected to be on trial for murder.  But that’s just what happens when the white supremacist parents decide that she alone is responsible for the death of their baby.  Her only hope is Kennedy, a still wet-behind-the-ears public defender who has never defended a murder case.

If you’re interested in a story that just sticks to the plot outlined above, this is not the book for you.  But if you’re interested in something that goes deeper, to the very core of what we believe, then you’ll be pulled in from the very first page.  Whether you agree with the ideas presented by the author or not, it will no doubt make you question everything you believe.

Jodi Picoult never ceases to amaze me.  And she never shies away from controversial issues, taking them and weaving a story so compelling that you can’t put it down.  This one is no exception.  And as an aside, the Audible version of this one was outstanding with different narrators bringing the main characters to life for better or for worse.  A timely story from one of the best!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Small Great Things

Review: Blame by Nicole Trope

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Being a parent is not an easy job.  On the very best of days, children fill us with warmth and joy and hope for the future.  On the very worst of days, they make us wonder what ever made us think we could do the whole parenting thing.  And fair or not, mothers seem to carry an unfair share of the burden.  But still, we keep doing it because of the love.  What happens, though, when your child is not easily loved?  What does a mother do when you are blessed, or challenged, with a child so difficult that on most days you just barely get by?

Anna seemed to find Caro just when she needed her the most.  As the mother of a young child with autism, she finds herself sinking deeper and deeper into herself.  Then Caro reaches out to her, and a friendship is born.  Although they have daughters around the same age, their lives couldn’t be more different.  But their close bond withstands that.

Until the night that Maya is killed in a tragic accident.  Who is to blame?  Is it Caro, who was driving the vehicle?  Or is it Anna, who maybe wasn’t as vigilant as she knew she needed to be?  Their friendship is tested in ways they never thought possible as the truth is slowly unraveled.

I loved the style of this story.  The author alternates between Anna and Caro, narrating from the perspective of each.  Most of the story takes place as each is being interrogated by detectives.  We think we know who is at fault, and then we change our minds.  The author drags it out until almost the very end.  An excellent read!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Blame

 

Review: The Goodbyes by Leslie Welch

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I’ll be the first to admit that romance is not my preferred genre.  Wrap it in a nice little murder mystery and I’m good to go.  But sweet little romance stories are not typically my thing.  Still, there was something about this one that intrigued me…

When young Webb meets Bree for the first time, it’s love at first sight.  Sure there’s something damaged and not quite right about her, but he can’t help himself.  He’s drawn to her in a way he can’t explain.  And that attraction remains strong through the trials and tribulations of adolescence, the confusion and turmoil of high school, and into young adulthood.  So even though they haven’t seen each other for years, Webb finds himself rushing to her side when he finds out she only has a short time to live.

Is this one of the best and most unforgettable stories I’ve ever read.  Not by a long shot.  It’s not particularly deep or earth shattering.  But it’s a very good story.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Goodbyes

Review: Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood

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All authors tell a story, using their written words to weave a tale. And many are really very good at it. But it’s the rare author who creates a narrative so compelling, so lyrical, that the reader simply cannot pull away. T. Greenwood is one of those authors for me.

Something tragic happened to Tess many years ago.  We know it involved a child, and we know that it’s forever changed her.  But other than that, we are left to find out as the story progresses.

So when she claims to see a lost child out on the road one evening, the reader isn’t sure what to think.  Is it her imagination playing tricks on her yet again?  Or did she really see a disheveled, bleeding four-year-old on a dark country road?  She had been drinking, after all.  But everyone believes her.  At first.  A search commences, but when nothing is found, not even a body, doubts start to creep in.  Still, Tess knows what she saw and is steadfast in her commitment to find the child.  At all costs, even.  Her marriage and reputation are at stake, but she won’t be swayed in her determination.

I’ve loved absolutely everything from this author, and her newest book is no exception. Her stories are always captivating from the beginning until the very end. Full of life experiences that could happen to anyone, they make you think “What if…” So grab this one. Enjoy. And then go read her others!

~Thalia

Buy it Now:  Where I Lost Her

Review: The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

51SgHDOF15L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Ah, social media. For better or for worse, it’s part of our society, ingrained into our culture these days. Checking in at favorite restaurants, posting selfies at every opportunity…welcome to 2015. Sure, most of us post only the best of the best for the world to see. After all, who wants to read about the argument you had with your significant other? And why would you want the world to know about that, anyway?

But what if, with one quick status update and a fast click on the “post” button, you could change your path, rewrite history even? That’s the premise of this delightful new book cowritten by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke.

Kate has everything going for her. She has a demanding yet highly fulfilling dream job. She has two best friends who have been with her since childhood. And she’s getting ready to marry the man of her dreams in a wedding straight out of a fairy tale.

Everything comes to a screeching halt, though, when Max calls it off the day before the wedding. Kate’s devastated, and of course she goes on Facebook to share her heartbreak with her nearest and dearest friends. But something has happened. Kate discovers that she unexplainably has the ability to change the past, and the future, by simply writing about it in her status.

Her first order of business is to get Max back, so of course she uses her newfound power to go back in time, to the time before things went so wrong. She soon discovers, however, that nothing is without consequence. And there’s a ripple effect to everything. Each attempt to keep Max as her own leads to another unforeseen outcome, and Kate is left wondering if it’s truly possible to change her path in life, her destiny.

This was a sweet story, funny and witty while also serving as somewhat of a cautionary tale. The authors write with humor but at the same time address the issue of presenting a picture perfect life for the world to see. And it serves as a reminder that what you see is often not the true picture. That status update that’s full of cheer and happiness? It may not be telling the whole story. This story, though, is a perfect summer read!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Status of All Things: A Novel