Oh my. Let’s start at the end. I go into every book anticipating a happily ever after. This book ends happy from some people’s perspectives, but it’s definitely not what I expected.
You know what led me to believe it would be my kind of HEA? Love. That’s right, I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to books, and I was enamored with Louisa’s love story. After a dozen years of holding back and reining in and SETTLING for the safe bet, Louisa led with her heart.
Louisa got out there and lived and loved and made herself happy… by the side of a depressed, egotistical, narcissist who was just trying to get by with the appearance of dignity that he couldn’t feel.
In some ways I think Me Before You comments on how some people come into our lives for only brief moments, but they touch us in such a way that our lives are forever changed. And some people – like Louisa’s longtime boyfriend – are with us for so long without affecting us at all.
I loved the banter between Will and Louisa, the characterization of Will’s hopeless and hopeful mother, and Moyes’ skillful descriptions of time and place that made me believe I was there.
I laughed out loud, certainly. I bawled my eyes out, as well. I hated the ending, but I’d read it again in a heartbeat.
A little birdie told me a sequel is being released in September.
This cozy mystery is the most recent in Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey Mysteries series, and I’ve read them all. Yes, I love a good cozy mystery with a female protagonist who pals around with cops, but there’s something about the characters that makes this series stand out. Odelia isn’t too perfect or too quirky… She seems real. She and her husband Greg clearly love each other but have regular arguments, too. Their extended family annoys them – hey, just like real life! Odelia’s nosiness gets her mixed up with the wrong crowd more than occasionally, but she manages to solve mysteries and save herself – from death, but not always from harm – with the help of Greg and their friends.
This particular book explores the world of storage unit auctions, secondhand stores, and illusions of grandeur. Odelia and Greg’s commitment to their family means this mystery is personal – and they’ll stop at nothing to prove their relative’s innocence.
When I read this book, I felt like I was watching it happen in real life. Jaffarian describes places and events so well that reading it became a movie in my mind. She controls her writing so tightly: a grilled cheese sandwich is written in with precision – just enough mention to picture yourself at the table with the characters, hearing the crunch and licking buttery fingers (she doesn’t say that, but I imagined it!), but not so much that it interrupts the flow of the story. That’s good writing.
Secondhand Stiff is a solid, funny, caper-ridden novel with well-developed characters and awesome writing. Sue Ann Jaffarian is one of the few writers I regularly seek out for new releases, which I’ll pay top dollar for. I recommend the whole series, but they can be read as standalone books or out of order.