Eggshells

EggshellsAuthor: Caitriona Lally

Publisher: Melville House

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An interesting debut novel that explores loneliness even when you don’t know you’re lonely.

Vivian just doesn’t fit in. Never really has.  She now lives in a house that was willed to her by her late Great Aunt in Northern Dublin.  She was raised to believe that she was a changeling and could travel to other worlds, which she now attempts to access by walking around new neighborhoods and mapping them out, just in case.  She isn’t very close with her sister, also named Vivian, but tries all the same.  She is a society misfit.  One day she places an ad for a friend named Penelope just to find out why it doesn’t rhyme with antelope.  She takes adventures all the time even when those around her don’t understand what is going on.

This was a very different kind of book. I’m not really sure if Vivian has a bit of mental illness or just absolutely no understanding of society, even though she is in her twenties.  I can honestly say that I’ve never personally met anyone like her, but it would be interesting if I did.  I had the same reaction as the people around Vivian when she often opened her mouth because it was surprising what would come out.  Even so, it was still interesting to see where the story led.  It was literally just a snapshot in time of her life and didn’t really end.  It just didn’t continue even though we know that Vivian is out there somewhere on holiday with Penelope.

It was humorous at times and confusing at times. There was some pretty harsh language with some of the characters, but it was pretty believable based on their characters.  I recommend this book to mature audiences.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Best Laid Plans & Other Disasters

best-laid-plansAuthor: Amy Rivers

Publisher: Wooden Pants Publishing

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When life throws a curveball, hit it back!

Gwen Marsh has finally achieved one of her dreams of becoming mayor of the town of Cambria, Colorado. Just a stepping stone on the way to the Governor’s mansion.  But when she finds out that she is pregnant, things begin to fall apart.  The city manager is making her job miserable with her boyfriend Jason who worked in the city finance department.  Then Jason took a new job that required a lot of travel and they have been fighting a lot lately.  Plus his new flawless looking coworker appears to have a thing for him.  What else could go wrong?  Oh, wait!  Her estranged mother has suddenly appeared in town two weeks before her cousin Val’s wedding.  If she can get through the next two weeks, hopefully motherhood will be a snap!

I enjoyed this book much more than the previous, Wallflower Blooming.  I think that Rivers writing has improved and the story line flowed a lot better.  Plus, the tension between Gwen and Jason was a lot more believable as were the city politics.  Gwen is an exceptional woman who can accomplish anything that she puts her mind to and I believe that motherhood will be no exception to her.  She experienced a lot at once, but don’t we all know that storms come when least expected.  The book was also left open for Val to possibly be pregnant as well.  I wonder if we will get to continue on with these interesting characters.

There is some implied sexual content and mild language in the book. I would recommend this to mature young adults and up.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Christmas Embers

christmas-ebmersAuthor: Chautona Havig

Publisher: Create Space

Release Date: November 23, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When the thing you least expect to happen to you happens, how do you handle it?

Every year Emily Byrne plans a project she can do that is a way to give back. This year she sits in her daughter’s kindergarten classroom to draw portraits and write little stories of what each child’s deepest wish is.  Everything is going good until Joey Cordell sits in front of her with tears in his eyes and says the only thing he wants for Christmas is to find his father.  His mother is dying and came to Rockland to find his father.  She had been living in Las Vegas as a prostitute and Joey’s father is a man she met there and she fell in love with after a few short hours.  She knew he was married but as usual it didn’t make a difference to her.  Emily meets her and promises to do all she can to help her find Joey’s father.  As time runs out and Joey’s mother is about to die, Emily doubts she can find the father in time.  With death seconds away, Emily promises to continue looking and to care for Joey who she has already fallen in love with.  As the truth emerges, a family is crushed and the damage is going to be hard to overcome.

While reading this story, several times I pictured myself as these characters and tried to determine how I would act if this happened to me. I don’t want to give too much away in the synopsis or review, but I will say it is a story to be read by those in a marriage or preparing for marriage.  Infidelity in marriage is a horrible thing.  Some can get past it and some can’t.  Seeing the way Chautona Havig crafted these characters, the situations they found themselves in, and how they dealt with it all put the reader in those situations as those characters.  A few characters annoyed me, but not enough to pull me from the rest of the story. I really don’t know how I would feel if I was placed in this situation but am glad I read Christmas Embers to have a better understanding of the biblical principles behind infidelity and how it affects all those involved.  A lot of this I didn’t know and am better for learning it all in this way.  This was a very quick enjoyable read that I recommend to all.

Secrets of Worry Dolls

secrets-of-worry-dollsAuthor: Amy Impellizzeri

Publisher: Wyatt-McKenzie

Release Date: December 1, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Whispering your secrets to worry dolls is supposed to keep you from stressing, but it’s not always that easy.

Mayan tradition says that if you whisper your troubles to the Worry Dolls you won’t have to worry, they will do it for you. Kind of like a dream catcher to keep away the bad dreams.  The Mayan’s also have a calendar that says the world is about to end.  Mari and her daughter Lu have been through their fair share of tragedies.  Mari was supposed to be at the Twin Towers on 9/11 with her twin sister and father who died that day.  She was also supposed to be on a plane headed to Guatemala that crashes in her neighborhood.  Just as the plane crashes, Lu sees her world come crashing down just as quickly.  Secrets from both past and present come out and Lu has to find the strength to deal with them all on her own, if that is possible.

It is very hard to tell a story where you jump from past to present, along with alternating view-points. Many authors try this and it almost always falls flat.  Amy Impellizzeri may be the exception.  For some strange reason it worked here.  I am a twin so I found Impellizzeri’s use of twins in the story interesting, she did a good job showing the relationship and how losing her sister had an impact on Lu.  The chapters were short making the story flow just right.  There were a few points that things seemed to veer of topic but came back just as quickly.  I don’t want to give too much of the story away but I will say that even if it is hard to get into at times it is worth sticking with till the very end.  It would be nice if having Worry dolls and giving them our problems really did take them away, unfortunately it is harder than that.  I try my best not to worry but I fall short, just as we all do.  I love the concept here and the lessons taught in this book.  There were a few mature themes throughout making it not suitable for anyone beside the target audience age group.  Overall it was an enjoyable and I recommend it for those that enjoy an intriguing story with a few good twists.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

All the Breaking Waves

all-the-breaking-wavesAuthor: Kerry Lonsdale

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: December 6, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Sophomore novel from Kerry Lonsdale is another must read!

 

Molly Brennan has a secret. She is able to emphasize with other people and even has the gift of compulsion to make others do task she commands them in their mind.  In fact, all of the women ancestors have been able to do something as well.  Unfortunately, this gift has led to a tragic accident that caused her family to be torn apart, causing Molly to leave the town of Pacific Grove, California for good.  Now ten years later, Molly has discovered that her eight year old daughter also has abilities, but they are even more dangerous.  Cassie has premonitions of events five days before they happen and each day the premonitions get more vivid and Cassie experiences the events, including the pain and potentially even death.  Molly must now return to her grandmother at Pacific Grove to help train Cassie to not let her abilities destroy her, but she will be thrust back into the crowd from ten years ago including the soulmate she left behind.

 

Everything We Keep was a tremendous breakout novel that was extremely thought provoking.  This of course meant that I must read Lonsdale’s second novel with nervous anticipation that it wouldn’t be as good as the first.  Not to worry, it was just as good, if not better. All the Breaking Waves continued Lonsdale’s trend of a young female lead character in her upper twenties who is really coming into her own.  Molly is a very strong character who has been raising her daughter as a single mother.  She is a very different character than Aimee Tierney in Everything we Keep in that she is already used to doing things herself, but she isn’t really realizing her true potential in life.  Of course there is also some romance thrown in at just the right times.  Lonsdale is truly a master of her craft.  She has a unique way of blending a little bit of sci-fi into a contemporary setting that the reader finds completely believable.  It may also help that the Monterey peninsula is one of my favorite areas, so getting to visit there alongside Molly was a beautiful thing.  Needless to say, I am awaiting the next awesome read from Kerry Lonsdale!

There is some mild language throughout the book as well as two scenes that include some mild sexual dialogue. I recommend this book to mature young adults and up!

 

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed throughout are mine.

Wallflower Blooming

wallflower-bloomingAuthor: Amy Rivers

Publisher: Wooden Pants Publishing

Release Date: August 15, 2016

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Wallflower no more, she is becoming society’s girl.

Val Shakely loves running her small public relations firm in Cambria, Colorado. The best part is, she doesn’t take on political candidates.  At least she doesn’t until her cousin Gwen decides to run for mayor.  She previously ran for city council and became the youngest person to be elected.  Val isn’t looking forward to the campaign either.  Her opponent wanted her to be his PR, but she declined and he isn’t used to being told no.  However, she starts to run into local businessman John Hatfield more and more frequently, so much so that they actually begin to fall in love.  Val finds herself becoming more in the public eye with John and as the campaign turns nasty with the current mayor threatening by John and Val, can they hold it together?

Overall, this was a quick, fairly interesting read. It is a really short book that is just a snapshot in time during a small town election.  It really could be more classified as a novella as I could see the two main characters branching off into a more developed story.  Even so, the story was primarily about Val, who is a wallflower that enjoys working behind the scenes, fall in love with John who is widely known, but pretty antisocial himself.  If you enjoy quick romances, this one will tickle your fancy.

There was some mild sexual dialogue and quite a bit of foul language, so I would recommend this book for mature young adults and up.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

In the Blue Hour

in-the-blue-hourAuthor: Elizabeth Hall

Publisher: Lake Union Press

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The loss of a loved one is hard and it feels like they never really leave. That feeling lives where we can barely see it, in the blue hour.

When Elise Brooks has a dream about a car accident, she doesn’t think much of it, after all it is just a dream. Then a few weeks later, her husband is killed just like her dream.  She blames herself feeling that she missed the signs and could have somehow prevented his death.  Now she feels his spirit following her in the form of a raven.  There are forces at work beyond her understanding and she turns to both the Native American wisdom she grew up with and psychics, which she has always been skeptical about.  Clues lead her to take a journey after finding a mysterious address found in her late husband’s jacket.  She puts her trust in a new friend, Tom, or at least she hopes he is a friend, and follows the clues. Tom doesn’t believe in the supernatural but is happy to help Elise on her journey.  Together they will both find more than they could have ever imagined.

Let me start by saying that overall I really did enjoy the story. The way it was written, not so much.  The story started with mostly narrative, very little dialogue to move the story forward, and stayed that way throughout much of the rest of the novel.  When a reader opens a book to see if it might be worth their time and find page after page of narrative, it can be a turn off.  I know it is for me.  I think the story would have flowed much smoother if Hall had found a way to portray more of it through dialogue in some way.  This type of story does rely heavily on narrative, I get that, but when it causes me to want to skip over parts of the story just to get to something I deem more important.  However, had I done that with much of the narrative, I’m sure I missed a few key points that could have caused the ending to be a little less enjoyable, if not a little confusing.  The conclusion made me think that perhaps I was missing something from the beginning but it was all there just a little hard to follow at times.  It was still an enjoyable read, but not one I will pick up again.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.