Review: Just Lucky by Melanie Florence

I’ve been accused by some of being overly generous with my five-star ratings. What can I say? If a book grabs me enough to keep me reading, not wanting to put the book down, picking it up as soon as I wake up in the morning, then I deem it worthy of five stars.

Lucky has a somewhat untraditional family. Her mom skipped out on her when she was very young, but she has the love of her grandparents as they raise her. All that changes, however, when her grandpa dies and grandma is no longer able to live alone. Lucky finds herself in the foster care system. She just tries to survive, knowing that each home she lands in is only temporary.

This was a great little book. I say little because I finished it in less than one day. It’s a quick, easy read that’s well-suited for younger and older adults alike.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Just Lucky

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Review: Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

T. Greenwood has done it again. She’s written a story so complex, so emotional that it sticks with you long after the last page has been turned.

The year is 1969. A different time, different beliefs. Ginny is heartbroken when her newborn is ripped from her arms and given over to a “special school” before she even knows what’s happening. Her husband, Ab, and his father convince her it’s for the best. After all, what do they know about raising a child with Down Syndrome?

So Ginny tries to move on. She continues to be a good wife and mother to their other child. But Lucy is always in her heart and on her mind. Then she sees an article on Willowridge, the school where Lucy has been sent. And the stories coming from Willowridge are not good.

Acting on instinct, she takes a trip to see it for herself. What she sees isn’t good. It certainly isn’t a place anyone should willingly want their child to live. Determined to save Lucy this time, she sets out on a cross country journey while trying to convince Ab that their baby belongs at home with them. Along the way she finds that, while Lucy may have been out of her hands for the last two years, she’s never been out of her heart.

This is another outstanding story from one of my favorite authors. It’s heartbreaking but also historical in that it captures the attitudes from the time period perfectly. It’s a story of despair and hope, a story of family and love. This is one I won’t soon forget!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Keeping Lucy

Review: Roam by C.H. Armstrong

Most of us have never experienced being homeless. And if we’re very lucky, we never will. Not so for seventeen-year-old Abby.

Being in high school is hard. It’s even harder when you’re keeping a secret that could ruin your social standing. In Abby’s case, that secret is that she and her family are homeless. It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, not so long ago, they had everything. A nice house, good jobs, friends, all that a teenage girl could want.

But one mistake led to another, and one stroke of bad luck piled on top of another. And just like that, Abby finds herself living in the family’s van. Eating at soup kitchens, cleaning up in public bathrooms, trying to stay warm while sleeping in parking lots…it’s a lot for anyone to handle. Abby’s determined, however, to overcome this gigantic obstacle. With the help of some new friends, will she be able to do it?

I loved this story from beginning to end. It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change, of how everything can be gone in the blink of an eye. And it’s also a reminder that we never truly know what someone is going through.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Roam

Review: The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

If only all parents could be as open and approachable as Lacey’s…this thought kept running through my head as I read this one.

A teenage mom herself, she’s determined to not have Lacey’s life take the same path. So Lacey’s always been raised in an open household where no issue is off limits. And that includes any and all things related to sex. So it’s just natural that Lacey would become the “expert” at school for sex ed advice.

Except that Lacey’s never even kissed anyone, let alone had sex. But when she sees her school pushing an abstinence-only policy, she’s determined to take a stand. Even if that means trouble.

Unusual for sure, probably not everyone’s cup of tea. And likely more than a few people will disagree with the author’s stance on this issue. But I liked it soooo…

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me

Review: The Memory of You by Jamie Beck

Great start to a new series! Steffi is offered a job renovating a room in her ex boyfriend’s mom’s house… and that about says it all, doesn’t it?! Seriously loved the good relationship between Ryan’s mom and Steffi – and the slow refreshment of a friendship between Ryan and Steffi. Good, solid story with likable characters, great dialogue, and cool references to the state I call home. I’m looking for book 2 as soon as this review is done being written!

-calliope

Buy THE MEMORY OF YOU

Review: The Songbird by Marcia Willett

Love how this new-to-me author develops so many characters in such a clear and natural way so as not to confuse this reader who usually likes easy escape reading. The characters are distinct, but not caricatures or stereotypes; they’re of every generation – and even the olders and youngers are relatable.

Especially memorable are William, who after years of doing what his wife wants, finally grows a pair and does the Right Thing; Mattie, who is loving and innocent and fun and young – and so so sincere; and Tim, who moves to the cottage with a heavy burden, and leaves the cottage with someone to share it with.

Though my copy was an ARC, I was a little taken aback by the formatting – especially all of the proper nouns that weren’t capitalized, and the majority of sentences that started with lowercase letters. Just threw off the flow for me and made the act of reading a little bit of a chore.

Besides that, I really enjoyed this cast of 10 or so characters, living their lives, figuring out their problems, getting to know each other and themselves. There’s not a whole lot of action, but Willett does write a story filled with poetry, deep thoughts, and emotion.

-calliope

Buy THE SONGBIRD

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

Buy A MIRACLE ON HOPE STREER