Review: Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

When Annie moves to the Pacific Northwest, she’s just looking for a safe place to grieve, a comforting and uplifting place. What she finds is a cottage that needs some love, a garden that needs all that love and a bowl of cereal, and a couple people from her past who she can’t quite put her finger on.

Macomber does a great job tying together Annie’s new friendships with the experiences from their pasts. Though the characters don’t dwell on their youth, we see how it colored their behaviors as adults – and how grief and trauma in childhood or adolescence can be debilitating for the long-term.

I found compassion for Annie’s friend Mellie, who seemed so unstable and isolated until she was surrounded by love. I was in awe of Keaton, who shed no tears over how badly he was treated by family and community for decades, but came to the rescue in a heartbeat for those who needed his help or protection.

Macomber created a story of hope and belonging out of a medley of troubled folks. This book could have been depressing – but it wasn’t. It opened my eyes to the hurt people may be walking around with, and showed that people put their mark on the world in varied and unexpected ways.

-calliope

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Review: The Brothers K by David James Duncan

19534Let me just start by saying I don’t agree with all the reviews that say you don’t need to enjoy baseball to enjoy this book. I suppose you don’t need to love baseball to enjoy the book, but I think you need to at least like baseball a bit to LOVE the book. At least I felt so.

I’m not a huge baseball fan. Now I live in England so there is NO baseball here…The book lost something in the translation for me…simply because I couldn’t really relate. I also felt this book was way too long. It wasn’t an epic read for me that deserved so many pages. Yes it was interesting, it just wasn’t that interesting to me. I’m sorry. I know it’s a highly rated book. I know it’s about family. However, I think there are many other books out there that do such a better job at it than this one does.

“The Prince of Tides”. “To Kill a Mockingbird”. “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. The list is endless. This book didn’t make the list for me.

Yes, there were some great moments in this novel. I loved some of the things the father did and said. He did shine at moments. However, there just wasn’t enough of them to make me glad I had invested so much of my time reading this novel. Sadly, none of the many characters will stay with me.

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Brothers K by David James Duncan

Review: One Wish by Robyn Carr

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You know the best thing about this book? It brought me back to 14 years of age, reading a teen novel about a figure skater… On Thin Ice, or Champion On Ice… I can’t remember the title, but I can remember the pink paperback cover, the worn spine, the old Volvo that almost didn’t get the skater to the rink one morning. I wish I still had that book. In the blink of an eye I would step into that teenage world for 150 pages and love every 1980s minute of it.

I can’t get a hold of that book, but I CAN get the same nostalgic feeling, vicariously through the main character of One Wish. Grace used to be a champion figure skater. She left the drama and the pressure to open up a flower shop in Thunder Point. Where she meets Troy. The teacher who likes to have fun during his time off. Outdoor fun. Athletic fun. Fun with women. Fun with Grace!

One Wish tells more than just the romance between Grace and Troy, though. We see Grace’s struggle with the past, her talent for the florist business, her ambivalence toward her mother, and her friendship with Iris.

I enjoyed the wedding planning, the return of old characters, the Ray-Anne subplot, and the sense of community coming together to support one of their own. Carr put heart into One Wish… And although Troy was occasionally a bit smarmy, most of the novel rang authentic. I shed some messy tears, both happy and sad.

Carr fans, you must read this book. I was SO EXCITED to read a Thunder Point novel that measured up to the Virgin River series – a high standard, indeed.

-calliope

P.S. I just KNOW that Ray-Anne’s Gingersnap will be a central character in an upcoming Thunder Point novel. I CAN’T WAIT!!!

buy ONE WISH (really! you must!)

Review: One in a Million (Lucky Harbor #12) by Jill Shalvis

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One in a Million is the tale of Callie and Tanner. I’m going to tell you why I’m so in love with Tanner and EVERY Lucky Harbor character I’ve ever read.

Jill Shalvis has a way of making Lucky Harbor heroes ultra-alpha with a big dose of sensitivity and adorableness. It’s a talent. A skill. A miracle even. The men have muscles and brains and businesses and big hearts and deep souls. They are perfect.

Even though Tanner is clueless or selfish or begrudging at times, he still wants what’s best for Callie… And he wants Callie. Sigh. I live for watching the guy want the girl. He’s all meeting her for coffee and bringing her doughnuts and remembering that she gave him a Valentine in high school. See? Perfection.

And Callie. Well, she doesn’t believe in love. In her wedding planning business, she has seen too many brides focus on the wedding rather than the marriage. When Callie realizes she has loved Tanner for a long, long time, she puts up her defenses, leaving Tanner wondering.

She finally caves, of course. There’s a meeting of the minds and a heart-to-heart. And grandma Lucille? She makes sure this one in a million love story is happily ever after #12. πŸ™‚

-calliope

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Review: He’s So Fine (Lucky Harbor #11) by Jill Shalvis

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I said it for book #10, and I’ll say it again. I love Lucky Harbor, and Shalvis writes the best alpha men ever.

He’s So Fine tells the story of Olivia (not her real name, but hopefully no one finds out) and Cole (like McGuyver, but more sensitive and nosy and muscly and alpha).

They don’t mean to hit it off, but the electricity between them is just too much to resist. When they finally knock down some emotional walls, they might even start a real relationship… If it weren’t for Cole’s inability to trust, and Olivia’s inability to share the truth. You see how that might cause some problems!

What impressed me was that Shalvis made Cole and Olivia’s character flaws a platform for comic relief, a wonderful use of wit that endeared me to the couple instead of being annoyed with them. The two pretty much save each other from themselves, and enjoy a terrific Lucky Harbor happily ever after. Sigh. Those never get old.

One of the mainstays of the Lucky Harbor series is Lucille, resident blue-haired busybody. In this particular book, Shalvis introduces us to Olivia’s friend Callie, Lucille’s granddaughter. That introduction has got me veddy veddy interested in what might be coming up ahead in Book 12. I can’t wait!

-Calliope
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Review: It’s In His Kiss (Lucky Harbor #10) by Jill Shalvis

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I love Lucky Harbor. The women are tough cookies even though they cry and glare and let a good kiss redeem bad behavior (well, not SO bad). Shalvis writes the best alpha men ever, EVER, and they are all different. How can there be so many smart, cocky, sensitive, charming, muscled men in one town? And all with distinct personalities and quirks and talents? I do not know, but I like it.

It’s in His Kiss is WONDERFUL. Becca moves to Lucky Harbor to get away from her wacky family, and she meets Sam. They ogle each other and work together at Sam’s boat chartering business for a while, until Becca realizes Lucky Harbor has avenues for her to use her musical talents. Meanwhile, they fall a little bit in love. And of course there’s a misunderstanding and a happily ever after.

That’s my kind of book: Relatable, likable characters; quick, smart dialogue; a forward-moving plot; characters who display authentic humor and poignant friendships; and a satisfying romance. And Shalvis further proves her writing talent by writing a series where each book can be read standing alone, yet if you read them together you enjoy nuggets of recognition and common threads. Just perfect.

I stayed up late to read this. I stayed up late to read #11. And I’ll stay up late to read #12. I can’t get enough of Lucky Harbor. πŸŒŠβ˜€οΈβ˜”οΈπŸ˜ŽπŸ’

The subsequent books in the series will be released in September and October.

-Calliope
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Review: The Promise by Robyn Carr

20140623-230542-83142578.jpg Robyn Carr, you’ve done it! You’ve created a Thunder Point novel that I fell in love with, just as I fell in love with the Virgin River books. The Promise was SO satisfying. From the small-town doctor’s office to the big-time ex-boyfriend cardiologist, from the romantic tension between widower Scott and newcomer Peyton to the comfortable companionship of Carrie and Rawley, I was completely taken by The Promise.

I was glad Carr took the time to give me her usual update on characters from past books, and even happier that this installment centered on a romantic relationship or two. Or three. I was pleasantly surprised to find Rawley making a move … And making no apologies for it!

Some of the most fun parts to read were of Peyton’s visits to her family farm. I could feel her joy and relief when she stepped foot on the property: a place of safety, respite, love, and dancing! Peyton’s family was warm and embracing, a lovely counterpart to the misunderstandings and dilemmas facing Peyton. And the food… Ohmygoodness my mouth was watering. I wasn’t even hungry and I was jonesing for a fresh baked baguette, olive oil, and just-picked tomatoes.

The Promise really has it all: food, family, fun, love … oh! and two new babies. Irresistible. I’ll read it again unless Book 6 is waiting in the wings.

Ms. Carr? Possible publish date for book 6? Hello?

-Calliope

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