Review (Take Two): Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Dr. Nora returns home to Scupper Island, Maine for a while for some rest and recuperation. She decided to leave behind her old life in Boston for a while – well, her old “reinvented in medical school” life, the one where she lost weight and gained confidence.

Higgins wrote a fascinating mother daughter relationship between Nora and her mom, and then put icing on the cake adding Nora’s wayward sister into the mix. Very well done. The family dynamics sucked me in without being too over the top. And Nora’s niece … aw, man, I was endeared to her from the start!

Best thing ever: The houseboat Nora rents. Second best thing ever: reading Nora’s emotions when she hears a certain someone walking up the dock. Oh and don’t miss the dinner party of all dinner parties – thank goodness for supportive friends, slightly eligible bachelors, and a mom who doesn’t stand for any nonsense.

Want to read Melpomene’s recent review of this book? Click right here.

-calliope

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Review: Thief’s Mark by Carla Neggers¬†

Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan finally get some alone time … and what happens? Their FBI duties call, and in a big way. Their pal Oliver York finds himself in some hot water, and he might not be able to get out of it himself. 

This adventure was full of good nuggets… Irish history, family secrets, betrayal, art, and the sanctity of Catholic confession. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get as much of the Emma-Colin banter I’m used to. These newlyweds had to put up more of a united front in this book… and good thing for Oliver that they did! 

To add to the “more mystery, less romance” tack, Neggers wrote some quirky characters that threw me off my Sharpe&Donovan game.  I expected the usual one or two odd ducks, but Neggers painted quirkiness over pretty much a whole family. It’s a great character study for sure. 

This is a terrific series if you’re a fan of romantic suspense, Ireland, New England, and the FBI. Start with the first book, because you don’t want to miss the fun tension. ūüôā 

-calliope 

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Review: The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses

I love a good love story that includes food and baking and New England locales, but this one didn’t make the grade. The main character leaves her fast paced NYC lifestyle to deliver a letter from the past for her late grandmother. That plot line worked, but not so much the romance (in one week when she spent the first three days annoyed) or the baking (I waited so very long for the bakeshop to make an appearance). I’m not from Maine, but I could think of a dozen ways to get more blueberries into a book with blueberries in the title and on the cover.  I wanted to want to root for the main character but she wasn’t likeable enough. Would’ve loved more of Roy and his family, though!

Cute premise, but the execution fell short. 

-Calliope 

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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

 

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan 

Frankie and Matt are so fun!  Frankie is anti-commitment… and Matt’s a little bit in love. Watching them work together and live in the same building is pure entertainment. And Matt is my favorite kind of alpha male – he’s buff, brainy, and full of tender loving care for the women in his life. Frankie appreciates the attention but can’t imagine she deserves it… until her best friends give her a reality check. 

I just love the boy chases girl, boy gets girl storyline. Sarah Morgan surpasses expectations of a predictable romance by developing Frankie’s friendships and family ties, as well as having her come to terms with her past. I also enjoyed the wedding, the Maine seascape, and the welcoming islanders. Oh, and the walks in Central Park!! 

-calliope

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Review: Written on My Heart by Morgan Callan Rogers

 
I loved this book about young newlyweds struggling to prioritize their marriage, children, employment, roots, and friendships. Dottie and Florine have a close, sisterly relationship based on honesty and support. Bud and Glen base theirs more on beer than honesty, and Morgan Callan Rogers outstandingly illustrates their desire to balance machismo and independence with responsibility and growth. I enjoyed seeing the men develop and regress, and then finally take the steps forward to become better men. 

The women change, too.  Through the grace and lovingkindness of her mother in law, Florine discovers the best way to demonstrate love to Bud… without compromising her values. Dottie grows in confidence and is able to be her authentic self — and a happier person. 

I adored this study on the ebb and flow of relationships, set in “local” down Maine. I liked the intertwined mystery, the ever-presence of Florine’s late mother, and the constance of children’s joy and a mother’s wisdom. 

-calliope

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Review: Christmas at Evergreen Inn by Donna Alward

   

What a well-written Christmas novella! I enjoyed this story even more than my last few Christmas reads, because the characters’ behaviors were consistent, the dialogue was realistic, and the tension was so real I felt my own shoulders tightening up. Alward impressed me with a tightly written plot and just the right balance of sweet versus strong. Most importantly, Evergreen Inn was Christmassy. The hot chocolate, tree ornaments, and snowstorms helped Todd heal Lainey’s broken heart, and certainly warmed mine. 

-calliope

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