In an effort to not get too far behind, I’m going to do some copy/pasting from Goodreads.
The best of the bunch, in my opinion, is the Young Adult novel, You’ve Reached Sam. It is about a teenage boy who is killed in a car accident and, when his girlfriend calls his number just to hear his voicemail message…he answers. That’s right. He answers. It’s as tender and goosebump-inducing as it sounds. I loved it.
Here are 10 other books I’ve read recently with their 1-5 Star ratings on Goodreads. None of them made great impressions on me, but I still found the ones with 4 stars enjoyable. The biggest surprise was Someone To Wed, by Mary Balogh because the female main character was such a pillar of strength, despite her challenges. The biggest disappointment was the advanced copy (available Sept 20) of Lucy By the Sea, by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout. It is about a divorced couple co-habitating during the Covid pandemic. Personally, I think it is much too soon for a story on this subject. If you’re interested in any of them, I’m happy to answer questions in the comments.
If it seems like I’m fan-girling a bit over Katherine Center books right now, it’s only because I am. They’ve been a terrific distraction from the world’s craziness. So, as a postscript to the previous entry, here’s info on two short stories that bridge her novels. Prequels/sequels is a fun trend that several authors use to keep the reader’s interest and, when done correctly, can really be a treat when there are great characters and more to add to their stories.
I listened to both of these as audio books, each one clocking in at just under an hour. Links are available on her website, https://katherinecenter.com/, and can be downloaded for free on Google Play or Apple Books.
The Girl on the Plane: This is a retelling of the first part of How To Walk Away, except now we’re hearing from Cassie the firefighter. Yes, Cassie from Things You Save in a Fire. When the plane crashes at the beginning of the story, it is Cassie who rescues Margaret, the heroine in the main novel. Their brief interaction, with Margaret making an unforgettable impression, prompts Cassie to set things in motion for the rest of the story.
The Guy at the Wedding: The guy is Jake Archer. The wedding is that of Helen Carpenter. Jake is Helen’s brother, Duncan’s “plus one” at the reception. Helen is about to start a marriage that we already know will go down in flames. Several years before Happiness for Beginners, Jake and Helen are just two people living their lives with no idea what lies ahead. This delightful short story tells about their first encounter, setting the groundwork for that fateful hiking trek in Wyoming. Helen and Jake are my absolute favorite characters, so this look into that life-altering evening was like a tasty dessert. I make no apologies for my bias on this one and, what makes it extra fun, is that it is both a prequel AND a sequel.
I’m late to the party, but after years of reading about Netgalley on Goodreads, I finally signed up and requested an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of The Bodyguard, due out in July. Here’s hoping I’ll be approved and can include a review before it’s published. Enjoy!
If you’re a reader in this digital age, you are probably bombarded with book and author suggestions from Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Rhys Bowen has popped up constantly for me and I decided to begin exploring her writing around Christmastime with What Child Is This.
She uses one of my favorite backdrops in books and film, World War II in England. A young couple struggles with a variety of losses during this harrowing time when civilians lost homes, family members, and their own lives. Despite the period, it is not an action story, but one with a degree of quiet. As so often happens in different challenges, spouses will take turns comforting each other and being the strong one.
It’s a lovely story. One that offers hope during the COVID-19 pandemic, where even now we’re all experiencing something we never expected, are being forced to make compromises, and have found our lives taking unplanned detours.
Rhys Bowen is a wonderful author and I’m currently on Book 4 of her 15-book series Her Royal Spyness, which I’m enjoying very much. So hooray for those Amazon suggestions. Sometimes they are right on target.
In eight short stories, the reader is tossed in the middle of specific family situations. It could be about spouses, siblings, parents and children, roommates, or lifelong acquaintances whose lives intersect at the most unexpected moments.
There is no beginning and no end to each story. Events have already begun happening when the reader arrives and continue happening when the reader exits. We are a fly on the wall, sometimes in a room where characters are conversing and sometimes on the walls of their minds. We learn of the high expectations for Indian immigrant children: multiple university degrees, marriage, a family, a successful career, and the perpetuation of those expectations. Anything less shames the parents and previous generations.
The writing is exquisite. If writing has a “volume,” this one is quiet and steady but not monotonous. There is great power in the quiet. Every move a character makes is part of his/her development. Every decision affects the outcome. We learn about what is said versus the large amount that is not said. The gap between the two usually has fateful consequences. There is love, hate, disappointment, redemption, loss, and learning. The last three stories blend together beautifully. And, although it is fiction, the people feel incredibly real and biographical.
What a delight to read such high quality writing as Unaccustomed Earth. I had no idea what to expect, but I came away feeling like I knew more about the Indian immigrant culture in the United States.