Sunday, March 27, 2022

This Might Hurt

This Might Hurt
Title:
  This Might Hurt
Author:  Stephanie Wrobel
Publication Information:  Berkeley. 2022. 336 pages.
ISBN:  0593100085 / 978-0593100080

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and a publisher's blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I stand at the head of the conference table."

Favorite Quote:  "Did we know we were making our favorite memories while they were happening?"

***** BLOG TOUR *****


Review

Wisewood is a place. More than that, Wisewood is a state of mind. "Guests" are expected to come and stay for a minimum of six months. Some come and never leave. During their stay, guests are expected to adhere strictly to the rules. Rules such as no phone, no contact with the outside world, no physical contact with other guests, assigned chores, no leaving, and more. The goal - to help each guest focus entirely on themselves and become fearless.

All Natalie Collins knows is that her sister Kit disappeared into this world about six months ago and has not reappeared. That might have been okay since Natalie and her sister have been estranged. However, Natalie receives an email from someone at Wisewood that they will reveal her secret to Kit. What secret? The email does not say, but Natalie know. So, of course, she takes herself off to Wisewood, find Kit and either prevent the secret from coming out or tell Kit herself before someone else does.

So begins this somewhat confusing story of a cult. There are multiple narrators - Natalie, Kit, and a third unnamed narrator. There are also multiple time periods - the present at Wisewood, Natalie and Kit's childhood, Kit's time as she comes to Wisewood, and an undefined time in the life of the third narrator. Eventually, it all comes together but...

As a reader, it takes me way too long to realize there are three narrators - and not just Natalie and Kit -  and then it takes me way too long to identify who the third narrator is. By the time I realize the connection, it is a little too late to go back, reread and develop a better sense of this character, to redefine the characters who are not this narrator, and bring it all together into what happens next.

This book is dark. The images of child abuse and the physical and psychological scars it leaves are heart wrenching and disturbing. The abuse is relentless. This book does hurt and should absolutely contain trigger warning that is not currently in the book description. The fact that because of the multiple narrators, I realize late in the book the victim of this abuse makes the book a challenge. That unfortunately lessons the understanding of the far-reaching impact that childhood abuse can have.

Beyond the story of the two sisters or really the story of the third narrator, the book is a view into a cult. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this book is the concept on which the cult is based - the idea of facing fears and living live fearlessly. That idea has merit and can likely be found in much of personal development literature and training. To see an idea of merit devolve into a cult with such negative ramifications is relevant to today's world. That view, rather than the characters or the story, is my lasting memory of this book.

About the Author

Stephanie Wrobel grew up in Chicago but lives in the UK for the past three years with her husband and dog, Moose Barkwinkle. She has an MFA from Emerson College and has had short fiction published in Bellevue Literary Review. She is also the author Darling Rose Gold and has been a creative copywriter at various advertising agencies.

About the Book

From the USA Today bestselling and Edgar-nominated author ofDarling Rose Gold comes a dark, thrilling novel about two sisters—one trapped in the clutches of a cult, the other in a web of her own lies.

Welcome to Wisewood. We’ll keep your secrets if you keep ours.

Natalie Collins hasn’t heard from her sister in more than half a year.

The last time they spoke, Kit was slogging from mundane workdays to obligatory happy hours to crying in the shower about their dead mother. She told Natalie she was sure there was something more out there.

And then she found Wisewood.

On a private island off the coast of Maine, Wisewood’s guests commit to six-month stays. During this time, they’re prohibited from contact with the rest of the world—no Internet, no phones, no exceptions. But the rules are for a good reason: to keep guests focused on achieving true fearlessness so they can become their Maximized Selves. Natalie thinks it’s a bad idea, but Kit has had enough of her sister’s cynicism and voluntarily disappears off the grid.

Six months later Natalie receives a menacing e-mail from a Wisewood account threatening to reveal the secret she’s been keeping from Kit. Panicked, Natalie hurries north to come clean to her sister and bring her home. But she’s about to learn that Wisewood won’t let either of them go without a fight.


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Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Summer Getaway

The Summer Getaway
Title:
  The Summer Getaway
Author:  Susan Mallery
Publication Information:  HQN. 2022. 416 pages.
ISBN:  1335479996 / 978-1335479990

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and a publisher's blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "'I'm going to sleep with Dimitri.'"

Favorite Quote:  "No one who's an awful person is willing to consider the possibility that she's awful. Self-awareness requires intelligence..."

***** BLOG TOUR *****


Review

This book deals with infidelity, an absentee parent, death, mother-child angst, military service, an unplanned pregnancy, bridezilla, divorce, financial insecurity, childhood cancer, and more. At the same time, it deals with love, dreams, hopes, friendship, and the courage to pursue them. It features an odd mansion on the Santa Barbara coast overlooking the ocean. It features the kind of wealth that can afford such a mansion.

So much happens in this book that it makes for a fun read because it is so over the top. Robyn Caldwell is at the heart of this story. She is there for everyone - her ex-husband, her boyfriend, her kids, her friend who also happens to be her boss, and her aunt. The question of it all is where and who is Robyn beyond all that surrounds her. Who was she before she started putting everyone else first?

The thing is she has the luxury of finding out. She has the luxury of an escape to her aunt's home in California. The fact that the home happens to be a gigantic ocean front mansion helps. The fact that Robyn  is to be at least partial heir to her aunt's fortune helps. The fact that she meets the other heir when she gets to California helps. Let's just say the book isn't exactly grounded in the day to day reality of most of our lives. However, that makes this perfect escapist reading.

Robyn gets her momentary escape until everyone - and I do mean everyone - somehow ends up following her to California. Her son Austin is figuring out who is going to be when he grows up. Her daughter Harlow needs to grow up and define her self beyond an indulged kid. Harlow and her fiancé need to determine if their relationship is a partnership between adults. Robyn's ex-husband is still trying to get Robyn to solve his problems. The ex-boyfriend cannot take rejection. Even the friend intrudes on Robyn's escape with her own crisis. In the middle of all this, Robyn herself must figure out what is next for her own life.

Some of the scenes and the chaos that ensues is completely over the top. Yes, emotions and situations that are closer to real life. Some I find myself relating. Yet, the fact that all of this happens to Robyn and at the same time leaves me laughing at the circumstances. Laughter is a good thing in an escapist read. I am not sure if that is the intended impact, but it works for me.

All the individual stories end up about where I expect them to, but it is a fun journey getting there.

About the Book

Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about a woman who takes a trip to California to figure out her life and get a break from her family...only to be reminded that life--and your children--follow you wherever you go. With a powerful mother/daughter relationship at its core, fans of Elin Hilderbrand, Susan Wiggs, Mary Alice Monroe, and Nancy Thayer will love this book.

Robyn Caldwell’s family is driving her crazy. There’s Harlow, her daughter, who’s engaged to a man she’s only known a short time and is rapidly turning into bridezilla. And her son, Austin, who would rather work with his dad’s family charter boating business than go to college. Her friend, Mindy, who’s playing with fire by contemplating an affair with her tennis instructor. And let’s not forget her ex-husband whose bad behavior has just crossed the line yet again.

Robin needs some time to catch her breath and figure out what her next step should be. So when her beloved aunt Lillian asks her to come to Santa Barbara for an overdue visit, Robyn jumps at the chance. Her aunt Lillian is working on settling her affairs and a distant relative is staying with her that stands to inherit the house. Trouble is the last thing Robyn needs, but she refuses to let her aunt be taken advantage of.

While staying in her aunt’s beautiful, quirky mansion and spending time in the Santa Barbara sunshine with the woman who’s like a mother to her, Robyn will see herself—and the people she loves most—with a bit more clarity. And it will push her to take chances she hadn’t dreamed of before.

But life has a funny way of following you wherever you go. What began as an escape soon becomes an unforgettable adventure…and Robyn is ready to dive in, feet first.

About the Author

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women's lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations," and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She's passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

Q&A with Susan Mallery

Tell us about your latest book, who is the main character(s) and what can we expect when we pick it up?
The Summer Getaway, which will be out on March 15, is the story of Robyn Caldwell, a mom who has one too many things on her plate—her daughter’s wedding demands, her son’s refusal to grow up, her best friend’s self-destructive behavior, and her ex-husband’s wildly inappropriate new girlfriend: their daughter’s soon-to-be sister-in-law. She’s been focusing on everyone else’s problems so much that she forgot to make a plan for her own future.

She needs a minute. So Robyn hops on a plane to visit her beloved great-aunt Lillian in sunny Santa Barbara, to give herself time and space to figure out what she wants the rest of her life to look like. But she’s the heart of her family, and those family ties draw everyone she loves to follow her across the country, one by one.

I adore Robyn, a smart, nurturing mom who has given so much that she forgot about herself. I think a lot of us women are like that, and I think readers will be thrilled to go along on Robyn’s journey of self-discovery.

Give us an out of context quote from your book to warm our hearts.
Harlow's gaze turned knowing. "You're protecting him. Not because you're still in love with him, but because he's my father. This is about me, not him." She smiled. "You're a good mom. I hope when I have kids I'm just like you."

Which of your characters would you want to share a campfire with, and why?
Oh, Robyn, for sure. First of all, because she’s the kind of woman I love to have as a friend—great sense of humor, good conversationalist, loving, loyal, smart. And secondly, because the woman knows how to cook. (That said, I would choose a fireside table at a nice restaurant. I don’t get the appeal of eating outside.)

Where do you get your ideas for your books, characters, series?
Ideas come from everywhere – conversations, articles. Songs are a great source of inspiration for me. I’m convinced that there’s a book in every country music song, but you might be surprised at the idea that comes from a song. For me, it’s not about the lyrics or the story of the song, as much as it is about the emotions.

So yes, ideas are everywhere, but the idea is merely a spark. The tough part is fanning that spark into flames, into a full-length women’s fiction novel. I’ve had a lot of ideas that weren’t good enough to sustain a book. I either have to reassign it as a subplot, or let it go. (That is so hard sometimes!)

The spark that led to The Summer Getaway is something no one would ever, ever guess. I had an idea to write a story about a woman who has fallen in love with an oil painting and goes in search of the artist, sure that they will share a deep connection. Instead, she discovers that the painting means nothing to him. He paints the same scene over and over again because it sells.

But there’s no artist in The Summer Getaway. No contemporary oil painting. While brainstorming the book, the idea morphed beyond recognition from that initial spark. Inspiration is a funny, ineffable thing. You don’t know where it will lead. All you can do is loosen the reins on your mind and let it run.

I couldn’t be happier with the end result. The Summer Getaway is a heartfelt, emotion-filled story of one woman’s triumph over self-doubt. Robyn is nurturing and fiercely loyal, and I love her.

I might still write about that artist. . .

Do you interconnect series and locations or is it one and done with series?
Sometimes series are connected to other series, sometimes not. The Summer Getaway is a standalone novel, not part of a series. But when it comes to series, the Fool’s Gold series segued into the Happily Inc series. The Blackberry Island series segued into the Mischief Bay series—and then I returned to Blackberry Island with Sisters by Choice. A teenager in the Bakery Sisters series ended up as the hero of one of the Fool’s Gold books, Finding Perfect. (That was a reader’s suggestion, by the way.)

How do you keep track of your characters when a series is longer...do you keep what I have heard referred to as a "Bible"?
I do have a series bible that my assistant creates. The Fool’s Gold bible is about 300 pages long. Every character is in it, with whatever specific details have appeared on the page—age, height, hair and eye color, where they went to college, what kind of car they drive. . . And because animals are so important in my books, even the animals are included in the bible.

Did you love books as a child, what age did you begin to read and devour books, and what is the first book that you remember that made a difference in your writing (as a child or later)?
Oh yes, I was a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. Every Saturday, my dad took me to the library, and the rule was that I was allowed to check out as many books as I could carry. We would go home, and I’d read them all that day, and then spend the week re-reading the ones I loved. When a librarian told me how many more books I could carry if I used a tote bag, she changed my life!

I didn’t start writing until I was in college (studying accounting). In addition to my full courseload, I took an evening class titled How to Write a Romance Novel. By week six of the eight-week course, I knew I wanted to write books.

My goal, still, is to make each book better than the last, so I continue to study the craft of writing. I don’t remember the first book that made a difference in my writing, so I’ll tell you about a book that did so more recently—Save the Cat! It’s a book on screenwriting. Although I don’t have aspirations of writing screenplays, I like to study screenwriting because I find the story structure helpful. Save the Cat! talked about the importance of high stakes in a way that made me think differently when plotting my books. In my books, the stakes aren’t actual life and death, but they’re deeply emotional stories, and the stakes need to feel like emotional life and death to the characters and to the reader.

Can you remember one or more early books that influenced you? What were they? Did you remain interested in the same type of stories over the decades or did your interests change? 
When I was a teenager, I discovered my best friend’s mom’s stash of romance novels. She let me borrow them whenever I wanted. I still remember the feeling that came over me when reading that first one—that moment of catching my breath when the hero’s and heroine’s eyes met in the mirror—and that early reading experience continues to influence me today.

Do you read the same genre you write or branch out to relax?
I still love reading women’s fiction and romance. I like stories that bring me deep inside characters’ heads and hearts, and I love happy endings.

Do you write under another name or in other genres? If so...please share!
No, I only write under Susan Mallery. Early in my career, I wrote a few historicals as Susan Macias.

How many books have you written?
176 and counting… (including a few that haven’t been published yet—The Boardwalk Bookshop will be out in May, Home Sweet Christmas in October, and The Sister Effect next year, assuming the title doesn’t change.) And I’m working on more.

Is writing easy or difficult...or should I ask what parts are easy and what parts are difficult?
The beginning of a book usually goes relatively slowly for me as I get to know the characters. But once I’m in the groove, the actual writing goes pretty fast and smoothly for me. I do a lot of plot work before I ever sit down to write, and that works for me.

The more challenging part for me, after all these books, is to come up with ideas that I haven’t already written about, but that still give readers the experience they want from one of my stories. Variety makes it more interesting and fun for me, too.

Tell us about what you are reading at the moment or anticipate reading in the future? Any new books you are looking forward to?
Christina Dodd has a new one coming out this summer that I can’t wait to read—Point Last Seen. She’s a master of romantic suspense, and I find myself holding my breath as I read. I’m currently reading First Comes Baby by one of my favorite romance authors and one of my favorite people, Christine Rimmer.

Social Links

Twitter: @susanmallery
Facebook: @susanmallery
Instagram: @susanmallery
Author website: https://www.susanmallery.com/

Buy Links

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/the-summer-getaway/9781335479990
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1335479996?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwsusanmalle-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1335479996
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-summer-getaway-susan-mallery/1139380149?ean=9781335479990
Books-a-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Summer-Getaway/Susan-Mallery/9781335479990?id=8185827134866
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335479990
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B093T6319S?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwsusanmalle-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B093T6319S
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-summer-getaway-susan-mallery/1139380149?ean=9780369703668
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Susan_Mallery_The_Summer_Getaway?id=ZgcsEAAAQBAJ
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-summer-getaway/id1565341890
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-summer-getaway-1
Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Summer-Getaway-Hardcover-9781335479990/209254131 Target: https://www.target.com/p/the-summer-getaway-by-susan-mallery-hardcover/-/A-83982879


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Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Wonders

The Wonders
Title:
  The Wonders
Author:  Elena Medel (author). Lizzie Davis & Thomas Bunstead (translators).
Publication Information:  Algonquin Books. 2022. 240 pages.
ISBN:  1643752111 / 978-1643752112

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and a publisher's blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "She checked her pockets and found nothing."

Favorite Quote:  "It's funny, Maria will think many years from now, how memory generates its own fictions:  how what hasn't stayed with us, because we think it insignificant or because it doesn't align with our expectations, gets filled in with what we wish had happened instead."

***** BLOG TOUR *****


Review

Three generations - Maria, Carmen, and Alicia - separated by time distance and difficult choices. Maria grows up in a small town. She has a baby at a young age out of wedlock. She is sent to her aunt's house in Madrid while the baby stays with her family in her small town. In Madrid, Maria learns the relationship between money and power. Carmen grows up knowing very little of her mother, and that sends her life on a different trajectory. Carmen's daughter Alicia moves to Madrid to see her own future. Maria and Alicia's paths cross in the context of the Women's March in 2018, but neither know it.

In parallel perspectives, the book tells the story of these three women and the issues, challenges, and changes surrounding the role of women. Politics and the women's movement provide the context and history of their stories.

The release of this book during Women's History Month is clearly purposeful as these three women chart their course within what is still a patriarchy. The placement of the current time at the time of the Women's March certainly ties into that theme.

I want to like this book better than I actually do. The theme and the idea appeals to me. The publicity for the book and the awards it has one speak to its success. Yet, I feel like I am missing something. I feel like I get lost in the story, and I do not understand. That begins at the beginning and continues all the way to the ending. Perhaps that may be due to the fact that I am reading a translation. Elena Mendel's background is in poetry. Perhaps that style carries to this book, and it just does not translate.

The emotion of the book - or the emotion that I think should be there - does not come to life off the pages. I don't really understand why, but say, once again, that perhaps, it does not translate well. As the language changes, so does the spirit of the story.

What I do walk away is an understanding of the universality of certain experience and certain gender struggles. The women of this book struggle with teenage pregnancy, single parenting, the quest for independence, family expectations, societal norms, the patriarchy, and so much more. This book is set in Spain and covers three generations. The same conversations occur in so many other nations and across so many times. So many parallels across time and place - some days it seems like this conversation makes no progress at all.

About the Book

From award-winning Spanish poet Elena Medel comes a mesmerizing new novel of class, sex, and desire.

Already an international sensation, The Wonders follows Maria and Alicia through the streets of Madrid, from job to job and apartment to apartment, as they search for meaning and stability in a precarious world and unknowingly trace each other’s footfalls across time.

Maria moved to the city in 1969, leaving her daughter with her family but hoping to save enough to take care of her one day. She worked as a housekeeper, then a caregiver, and later a cleaner, and somehow she was always taking care of someone else. Two generations later, in 2018, Alicia was working at the snack shop in Madrid’s Atocha train station when it overflowed with protestors and strikers. All women—and so many of them—protesting what? Alicia wasn’t entirely sure. She couldn’t have known that Maria was among them. Alicia didn’t have time for marches; she was just trying to hang on until the end of her shift, when she might meet someone to take her away for a few hours, to make her forget.

Readers will fall in love with Maria and Alicia, whose stories finally converge in the chaos of the protests, the weight of the years of silence hanging thickly in the air between them. The Wonders brings half a century of the feminist movement to life, and launches an inimitable new voice in fiction. Medel’s lyrical sensibility reveals her roots as a poet, but her fast-paced and expansive storytelling show she’s a novelist ahead of her time. I understand the sadness intellectually. I just wish I was walking away feeling it.

About the Author

Elena Medel is a Spanish poet and the founder and publisher of La Bella Varsovia, an independent poetry publishing house. Medel was the first woman ever to win the prestigious Francisco Umbral Prize, for her debut novel The Wonders, which was also longlisted for the Finestres Award and has been translated into fifteen languages. She published her prizewinning first collection of poetry, My First Bikini, when she was sixteen years old.

About the Translator

Lizzie Davis is a translator and an editor at Coffee House Press. She has translated Elena Medel’s poetry collection My First Bikini, Juan Cárdenas’s Ornamental (a finalist for the 2021 PEN Translation Prize), and work by Valeria Luiselli, Pilar Fraile Amador, and Aura García-Junco. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, Granta, and other publications.


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Saturday, March 5, 2022

Project Hail Mary

Title:
  Project Hail Mary
Author:  Andy Weir
Publication Information:  Ballantine Books. 2021. 490 pages.
ISBN:  0593135202 / 978-0593135204

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "What's two plus two?"

Favorite Quote:  "Human brains are amazing things. We can get used to just about anything."

The Martian was science-y, geeky, irreverent, and a whole lot of fun. Artemis was a little less geeky, a little more about politic and greed, still fun, but without the intensity of The Martian. Project Hail Mail becomes the third book I have read by Andy Weir. 

A "Hail Mary" of course has its basis in Christian tradition, a prayer in praise of and seeking assistance from Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. In American culture, this phrase has long been used in the sport of football. A "hail mary" pass is a long distance throw near the end of a game with little chance of completion but with a hope and a prayer for a miracle.

The use of the phrase in the title of the book is the same meaning, except not for football but rather for the survival of the human race itself. Interestingly, the book does give a nod to the Christian origins of the phrase and the recognition that other cultures and traditions may have something similar. "Maybe that ship is the Praise Allah or the Blessings of Vishnu or something."

The miracle is needed. This Ryland Grace know although at the beginning he cannot quite reconcile with where he is or why he is there. He "wakes" up on a spaceship, alone, flanked on either side by two corpses. He is cared for by the ship itself or rather computers embedded in the ship. He is unsure what his objective is. At the beginning, he is unsure of even who he is.

Gradually, memory returns, and he remembers his mission. He is on a ship built by a collaborative effort by all nations on earth - political message there? He and his colleagues were hurtled far, far away into space in an attempt to save earth. Now, there is only him.

Until there is not only him. Thus begins the main story of the book. There is another ship, and on it is Rocky. "Rocky is smaller than a human. He's about the size of a Labrador. He has five legs radiating out from a central carapace-looking thing. The carapace, which is roughly a pentagon, is 18 inches across and half has thick. I don't see eyes or a face anywhere."

Ryland and Rocky could not be more different. Yet, they appear to be in a shared predicament. Perhaps, they even share the same goal and the same feelings towards their home planets and those they left behind.  A friendship develops.

That is the crux of this book - collaboration, friendship across seemingly insurmountable differences, caring and love across boundaries, and sacrifice for the greater good. In this book, it is the result of an existentialist threat to both their worlds. I would like to think that an outside threat precipitated the meeting the friendship, but it might have happened anyways. A lovely lesson to find anywhere.

While this book does not live up to the intensity and humor of The Martian, it does provide an entertaining read and an important reminder that we are all ultimately one world.


Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Eight Perfect Hours

Title:
  Eight Perfect Hours
Author:  Lia Louis
Publication Information:  Atria/Emily Bestler Books. 2021. 336 pages.
ISBN:  1982135948 / 978-1982135942

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "To Noelle. My girl. My best friend"

Favorite Quote:  "... the only way to live forever is to leave parts of yourself behind."

Lia Louis's first book Dear Emmie Blue is about a woman reckoning with the impact of a traumatic childhood event, a friendship whose conclusion the reader sees coming way before Emmie does, and a cast of mostly endearing characters. The book does incorporate serious issues including abuse and an unhealthy relationships. Yet, the book ends up a sweet, feel good story about the power of love and friendship.

Eight Perfect Hours works in somewhat the same way. The serious issues in this book include a young accidental death, depression and mental illness, caregiving, and aging. Once again, as the reader, I see the conclusion well before it arrives. Once again, the book ends up more about the power of self discovery, friendship, and the courage to live your life. Once again, some of the dynamics between Noelle and her brother are indicative of an unhealthy relationship.

In addition, this book adds in the element of fate, karma and kismet. Call it what you will, it all ends at the same place. Some things are just meant to be.

The book begins in the middle of an unexpected snowstorm. Noelle finds herself stuck on a highway, where the cars are not moving. A dire need lands her in the car next to her; that car belongs to Sam, an American on his way to the airport to head home. Noelle and Sam spend eight "perfect" hours stuck together in the snow storm. The highway gets cleared, and each goes on their way.

Yet,  Noelle cannot stop thinking about Sam, and, as fate would have it, their paths keeps crossing in completely unrelated and unexpected way. It's almost as if it is meant to be. In the midst of their budding friendship, there are old relationships to be reckoned with, jobs to be contended with, and families to be cared for.

The entire book is written from Noelle's perspective, who, at the time of this book, is thirty-something. The reader sees her continuing struggle with the death of her best friend in high school. The reader sees the sense of responsibility she feels as the primary caretaker of her mother and her resentment at her brother's role in the process. At the same time, the reader sees her need to move forward with her own life. The reader also sees her walking away from a twelve year relationship. The relationship may not have been right anyways, but her reason for walking away is family. What the reader does not see is Noelle expressing any of these concerns out loud. Nor does the book show her having the hard conversations in her life.

The book ends as you might expect, but the addition of these conversations would have added substantial depth to the book. Nevertheless, a sweet story with which to spend eight, perhaps not perfect but still, enjoyable hours.


Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.