Review: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

This reminded me of Beaches. Yep, the movie. The plot wasn’t the same, but it just had that same kind of feel. 

Sister and cousins all return to a beach house one summer to share memories from their childhood summers, and to spend time with Megan who has cancer. 

The beginning of the book pretty much focuses on Megan and her needs. Then we hear about Charley and her current life problems as they relate to her childhood problems… but Megan kind of fades away in the background. I was like Hey! Don’t forget about that Megan character! 

Sadly, it happened again when we are introduced to Krista, the ex con. Megan is barely mentioned, and Krista totally overshadows the Charley character. I had just gotten invested in Megan and Charley… and they were dropped like a hot potato. 

Carr’s Virgin River series illustrated how to have a developed protagonist as well as an ensemble cast. I was hoping for the same in The Summer That Made Us. Had the character development been more balanced, and had the characters not been such stereotypes, this novel would have an extra star!

I enjoyed the somewhat predictable plot, I appreciated the well-written dialogue, and I was impressed that Robyn Carr still comes up with fresh ideas for new novels. This one just wasn’t for me. 

-calliope

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Review (quick and dirty #4): The Rules of Love and Grammar by Mary Simses 

I chose this cute story because it’s set on the Connecticut shore, where I spend some time on the beach with my children each summer. I liked meeting Grace, and seeing the family dynamics as she temporarily stayed with her parents. I enjoyed meeting the people in her hometown, especially the bike shop peeps. But then Grace got a little unlikeable: immature (re)actions toward men she’s crushing on, blundering through her home life, and making some disappointing choices. The bike rides were beautiful, though, and so was the happily ever after, but the ride could’ve been a little smoother. 

Note: If you like your heroines seriously flawed, you’ll appreciate this book more than I did. 

-calliope

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Review: Before Everything by Victoria Redel 

This book is a lot of work to read. It’s emotionally taxing (although I didn’t even cry until near the end) and, frankly, depressing. Anna is dying of cancer. And that’s no spoiler, pal. That’s the premise of the book. 

Before Everything is also about love and friendship and family and a few secrets. Victoria Redel designs Anna’s friendships so realistically that the secrets the women have make me remember secrets I have with my friends … not contrived or hyperbolic or beyond belief, but just stuff we know about each other because we’ve been friends for so long. 

I read this book in hopes that I’d come to a better understanding of what it’s like for the family of a person dying of cancer. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let myself feel it 100%. So instead I read with my shoulders tensed, my mind rushing to get to the next scene, and only half my heart with Anna. 

It’s a good read if you can let your guard down. I held back because otherwise it would’ve been too painful. Thinking about that, well, maybe I did learn what it’s like to be close to someone who’s dying. 

-calliope

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Review: Falling Hard (Falling for the Freemans Book 2) by Kate Hewitt

No need to read book one to enjoy this second installment of Falling for the Freemans. Hewitt made it easy to get to know Quinn Freeman, youngest brother in the family, commitment-phobe, and general screw-up. Well… in the past. And it was smooth sailing figuring out Quinn’s direction once he arrived in his former hometown of Creighton Falls:  fix up the old family inn, and bring some vitality back to the town. 

I adored Quinn’s plumber, Meghan. What a strong woman, to choose to be the primary caretaker of her sister with special needs, and deny herself her own dreams to be an integral part of her family and her town. 

Quinn and Meghan aren’t perfect in Falling Hard, but they sure are cute together. Hewitt brings in ancillary characters just enough to add interest to the plot and tie the series together. This book focuses mostly on Quinn and Meghan — and it works for this small-town romance. 

-calliope

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Review: First Comes Love by Emily Griffin

first-comes-loveI’ve read many Emily Giffin books in my time…This was nothing like any of the previous books that I’ve read by her. If you’re looking for some silly lighthearted reading, this isn’t the book I would recommend to you.

I have to admit, I was looking for silly and lighthearted when I picked up this novel…so was a bit disappointed.

This is a hard book to review. Not just because it was different from I expected. I just found it extremely hard to get into. At about 20% I was wishing I hadn’t even started it. I can’t say there was much of anything I was enjoying. I didn’t like the characters. More so, I hated the way they treated one another.

At about 40% – 50% things turned around and I didn’t want to put the book down. However, I can’t stress this enough, I absolutely HATED one of the characters, and as much as I tried to make allowances for her behaviour, I simply could not set my dislike aside. Even as I finished the last page, I still was flabbergasted at an adult acting like she did.

I’m not sure if Griffin meant for me to feel that the character that was presented as the most unsettled and immature, in my opinion, turned out to be more mature than the majority of the others, including the one that was settled, smart, and level-headed. Perhaps it should be noted at this point that everyone that leads a *perfect* life might, in fact, be hiding just how messed up their life really is…and those that seem scattered, and unsettled, might in fact be solid, steady, and perfectly okay.

Yes, the second half of the book is really engaging and you’re invested in the characters, and was well worth the time of the reader…however, I don’t think it should take half a book for things to start being interesting.

The book is really full of some adults that over the process of 15 years seem to revert to selfish children. I don’t feel any of those things ultimately changed at the end of the novel…I wouldn’t want those type of people surrounding me in real life…and sadly, at the end of the day, I didn’t want them surrounding me in my literary life either…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now First Comes Love by Emily Griffin

Review: Sunrise at Butterfly Cove by Sarah Bennett

I love this entire plot! Mia hides away at a beach house, renovating gradually as a way to deal with deep-seated grief. Famous artist Daniel happens along and avails himself of the quiet retreat. They learn to put one foot in front of the other, slowly at first, and then together like a dance. Sarah Bennett writes a lovely waltz, with other couples swirling around, supporting Mia and Daniel individually and as a couple. 

Of course a few figurative storms hit- and Bennett uses the cast of secondary characters as both the cause and the solution. 

The only misstep was the description of the budding relationship between Mia and Daniel. I didn’t think Mia would have felt comfortable enough with a stranger to sit on his lap, for example. But once you get past the awkward stages, it’s all good. From there on out, Mia and Daniel are like two old souls who know just what the other needs. Their friends are just as intuitive, serving as loving, merciful family when biological relatives don’t come through. 

I really can’t wait for book two. These characters are terrific — and I need to see the transformation of the barn! 

-calliope

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Review: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Kate and Ainsley are half sisters, but they feel worlds apart most of the time. Kate is reserved, classical, and practical. Ainsley is fashionable, whimsical and fun. But when they each find themselves alone after their respective romantic situations fall apart, their sisterly love shines through righteously. 

Some of this story just broke my heart, and I wasn’t sure I could get through the despair. Then I noticed I was only a quarter of the way through the book, leaving PLENTY of time for redemption, hugs, and gluing hearts back together. 

My most favorite part of this whole book, even more awesome than the sister love (which is pretty awesome, and a big part of the story), even snazzier than the Tiffany ring (big!), and even more heartwarming than the boss finding a soft spot in his heart for an employee (unexpected!), was Daniel the Hot Firefighter. Higgins masterfully wove him in as comic relief and a reliable pal, but he was so much more. Aside from his witty banter and alpha male-ism, Daniel the Hot Firefighter symbolized Hope… hope for a future when the present is bleak, hope for women looking for a good man, hope for children needing a father figure.

I kind of guessed where Daniel the Hot Firefighter would end up at the close of the story, and I was so glad that my guess only scratched the surface. Look for your Hot Firefighter, people. You never know when you’ll need to be rescued, and he will be there with a generous heart… and a smile. 

-calliope

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