Flying Changes by Sara Gruen

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From the back of the book: It is a time of change at Maple Brook horse farm, when loves must be confronted head-on and fears must be saddled and broken. But it is an unanticipated tragedy that will most drastically alter the fragile world of one remarkable family – even as it flings open gates that have long confined them, enabling them all to finally ride headlong and free.
Flying Changes continues the story of Annemarie Zimmer. Annemarie’s life is consumed with teaching and helping to run the farm. Dan (the love of her life) is gone a lot on horse rescue trips. They rarely see each other which leads her to wonder if their relationship is going anywhere. Daughter Eva has taken to riding. She still has her own issues and is finding herself in trouble more and more. I liked this book as much, if not more than Riding Lessons. Sara Gruen shapes the characters into believable people. I enjoyed reading about the horses. I think this book could be read without reading the first, but I suggest reading Riding Lessons first because you’ll have a better understanding of the growth the characters experience in the second book.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

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From the back of the book: A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants – from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, distributes unexpected presents whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys – except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.
I really enjoyed this book. I read it this morning! Garden Spells deals with the issues of abandonment and learning to trust. The characters are endearing and interesting. I found the book impossible to put down once I began reading. Did I mention the magical apple tree??? This would be a good beach/vacation book. Go get it!

Prisoner of Memory by Denise Hamilton

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Back of the book: L.A.’s Russian community is about to pull Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond, herself the daughter of Russian immigrants, into a stunning spiral of danger and intrigue. When Eve discovers the body of an emigre scientist’s teenage son in Griffith Park, unraveling the execution-style shooting places her on the most personal – and dangerous- story of her career. Eve steps into the crossfire between old and new worlds, where an enigmatic Cold War spy lures her on, an underworld killer warns her not to go deeper, and where a charming stranger claiming to be her cousin might be drawing her into the sights of a brilliant, vengeful killer.
Prisoner of Memory interested me most because it wasn’t just a “who done it”. There is post- Cold War intrigue, new personal information about the main character (Eve Diamond), and a bit of insight to immigrants of a new country. I’ve enjoyed all of Hamilton’s Eve Diamond books and look forward to the next. If you decide to read them, I suggest doing so in order. One thing disappointed me – not enough Silvio ;~)

The Blue Star by Tony Earley

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Jim The Boy introduced us to Jim Glass, a boy growing up in 1930s North Carolina. He was 10 years old when the book ended. The Blue Star picks up Jim’s story when he is finishing high school and the world is involved in war. Jim has grown in many ways but finds he still doesn’t always get what he wants. There are lessons to be learned that aren’t taught in the classroom. He’s ready to learn them, though. We leave Jim as he is heading out into the world and I am glad I had a tissue nearby. Tony Earley has written a wonderful story and I hope to read the next installment very soon. Four Stars!

All Saints by Liam Callanan

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From the back of the book: By life’s midpoint Emily has seen three husbands, dozens of friends, and hundreds of students come and go. And now her classroom, long her refuge is proving to be anything but. Though her popular, occasionally irreverent church history course is rich with stories of long-dead saints, Emily uneasily discovers that it’s her own tumultuous life that fascinates certain students most. She in turn finds herself drawn into their world, their secrets, and the fateful choices they make.
Emily is a middle-aged theology teacher at a Catholic high school situated on the beach at Newport Beach, CA (how it came to be a beachfront school is explained). The author portrays a witty (mostly sarcastic) and seemingly caring woman who is unable to fully commit to those who are in her life. Her backstory is supplied throughout the book. By the end, I wanted to wring her neck (and call the authorities). She does things she knows are inappropriate, wrong. She grapples with basic issues that confront many adults – to one degree or another. Most of her actions disappointed me.

There is one character whose full story I’d really like to know. Martin is a priest at the school and a friend to Emily. I liked him.

I think All Saints would be a good book club selection.

Southern Reading Challenge


I’ve signed on to the Southern Reading Challenge 2008.
The challenge is to read 3 books ~ Southern setting ~ Southern authors. I’m considering:
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
The Blue Star by Tony Earley

I may come up with a few more choices. The challenge begins May 15th and ends August 15th. It is hosted by Maggie. Click here to check it out and join in the fun!


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I won an ARC of Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs (author of Friday Night Knitting Club) AND a tote!

My thanks to Stephanie at for this give-away.