Starting Now by Debbie Macomber

starting now

  • Title:  Starting Now – A Blossom Street Novel
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  April 2013 – Ballantine
  • Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis (publisher):  For years, Libby Morgan dreamed only of making partner in her high-pressure law firm. She sacrificed everything for her career – friends, marriage, her chance of a family. So nothing can prepare her for the shocking news that she’s been let go and must rebuild her entire life . . . starting now. With no job in sight, she spends her afternoons at A Good Yarn, the local knitting store. There, she forms a close bond with Lydia, the sweet-natured shop owner, Lydia’s spirited daughter, Casey, and Ava, a shy yet troubled teenager. As A Good Yarn becomes a second home – and the women a new kind of family – Libby relishes the different person she’s become. She even finds time for romance with a handsome doctor … But just as everything is coming together, Libby must make a choice that could forever change the life she holds so dear.

My take:  I’ve read a lot of Debbie Macomber’s books but only one from the Blossom Street series (#7, Hannah’s List). Starting Now is #9 but I didn’t feel lost or frustrated by that fact. Macomber tells a good story and she does a good job of catching readers up on characters from previous books. 

Speaking of characters, I enjoyed the ones in this book – particularly Libby and Phillip. This is not a case of “opposites attract”. These two are more alike than different which ended up helping them understand each other for the most part. Meeting Phillip was just one of the positive things that happened to Libby after she was let go from her law firm. Libby started to see the possibilities that lay before her. She got back to knitting – something she’d stopped as a teen when her mother died. She saw a lot of herself in a girl she met at the yarn shop and became a mentor to her. That connection would lead to big changes for Libby.

The pace of Starting Now was perfect as a few surprises in the plot were revealed. I enjoyed this story of people learning to appreciate  what’s really important in life. It’s a quick read that didn’t disappoint. Macomber’s books might be considered predictable but I suspect her fans (me included) like it that way. There’s always a relatable situation and interesting characters, a little romance and an uplifting ending. This would be a good one to toss in the beach bag or do what I did – read it over a weekend and in your favorite chair.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:

sweet salt air  measure of love  the good woman  the great gatsby (audio)

Last week on Bookfan:

Books I read last week:

  • Starting Now by Debbie Macomber
  • The Secret Life of Lady Julia by Lecia Cornwall

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A little sign of spring appeared near the roots of our tree

Happy reading!

Treadmill reads: Life From Scratch by Melissa Ford

life from scratch

Synopsis:  Divorced, heartbroken and living in a lonely New York apartment with a tiny kitchen, Rachel Goldman realizes she doesn’t even know how to cook the simplest meal for herself. Can learning to fry an egg help her understand where her life went wrong? She dives into the culinary basics. Then she launches a blog to vent her misery about love, life and her goal of an unburnt casserole.To her amazement, the blog’s a hit. She becomes a minor celebrity. Next, a sexy Spaniard enters her life. Will her souffles stop falling? Will she finally forget about the husband she still loves? And how can she explain to her readers that she still hasn’t learned how to cook up a happy life from scratch?

My take:  This novel about a thirty-something foodie blogger trying to figure out life after divorce was a fun, breezy read. As a blogger it was easy to understand the technical blogging aspects of the story and as a woman it was easy to relate to some of Rachel’s issues.

Melissa Ford wrote a heroine who’s easy to sympathize with and cheer for – until I scratched my head near the end of the novel and wondered how she wound up in her situation. I mean, she comes across as a smart, modern, and savvy woman but really dropped the ball a few years earlier where her relationship was concerned. I suppose her life since showed a path of growth so her story could be considered a cautionary tale.

Anyway, I still cheered for Rachel at the book’s end and would definitely read more from Melissa Ford. I liked her writing style and secondary characters – which made me hope for a sequel.

  • Title:  Life From Scratch: a novel
  • Author:  Melissa Ford
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2010 – Belle Books
  • Source:  I bought it

The Humanity Project by Jean Thompson

the humanity project

  • Title:  The Humanity Project
  • Author:  Jean Thompson
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  April 2013 – Blue Rider Press
  • Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis (publisher):  After surviving a shooting at her high school, Linnea is packed off to live with her estranged father, Art, who doesn’t quite understand how he has suddenly become responsible for raising a sullen adolescent girl. Art’s neighbor, Christie, is a nurse distracted by an eccentric patient, Mrs. Foster, who has given Christie the reins to her Humanity Project, a bizarre and well-endowed charity fund. Just as mysteriously, no one seems to know where Conner, the Fosters’ handyman, goes after work, but he has become the one person Linnea can confide in, perhaps because his own home life is a war zone: his father has suffered an injury and become addicted to painkillers. As these characters and many more hurtle toward their fates, the Humanity Project is born: Can you indeed pay someone to be good? At what price?

My take:  Filled with colorful characters and of-the-moment circumstances and events, The Humanity Project reminded me of a Cat’s Cradle string game. Everyone is connected and their lives seem to be an intricately woven mess. Humanity, right?

Most of the characters have been marginalized by family or society. From a young teen who witnessed a school shooting to the down-on-his-luck divorced father who just can’t seem to catch a break to the wealthy widow whose children seem to be waiting for her to die so they can gain their inheritance – they and several other remarkable characters share the spotlight. Remarkable maybe, but not all that likable.

Can a foundation such as The Humanity Project help those in need? Or will it encourage greed on different levels? And where did that money come from in the first place? Do some people even want to be helped? I had my own little book club discussion in my head as I read. I appreciated the epilogue from one character’s perspective that let me in on what happened to some of the other characters. I wanted some sort of resolution and that was close enough.

 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals: (all review books)

Rose Harbor in Bloom how to lose a bride in one night the secret life of lady julia my notorious gentleman

  • Rose Harbor in Bloom by Debbie Macomber
  • How to Lose a Bride in One Night by Sophie Jordan
  • The Secret Life of Lady Julia by Lecia Cornwall
  • My Notorious Gentleman by Gaelen Foley

Last week on Bookfan:

Books I read last week:

  • Life From Scratch by Melissa Ford
  • Changing Lanes by Kathleen Long

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This is the river about 200 yards my home. We’ve had rain every day for the past week. No sun. Little break from the steady rain. Our pump has been working overtime. It wasn’t raining on Friday morning so I bundled up (it was 35°) and went for a walk. I like my treadmill but it was nice to get some fresh air for a change. I was surprised by how much the river had grown over the past week. As you can see Spring is taking her time getting to the upper midwest. The buds on the trees are an encouraging sight.

Happy reading!

Treadmill Reads: The Hitwoman Gets Lucky by JB Lynn

the hitwoman gets lucky

Synopsis (publisher):

Maggie Lee’s a lot of things:

The daughter of a mom in a mental institution and a dad serving time;
The niece of three meddling aunts;
The aunt (and now legal guardian) of her beloved niece, Katie;
The friend of a snarky lizard, a dyslexic Doberman, and a semi-psychic co-worker;
A contract killer.

But one thing she’d never thought she’d be is a thief.

That’s about to change as she heads to the casinos of Atlantic City to
help her sexy murder mentor, Patrick Mulligan, steal something from a professional thief.

Maggie’s never been lucky in love or money. Will this gamble pay off or will she lose her shirt, her heart or even her life?

My take:  The Hitwoman Gets Lucky is a fun novella to tide fans of the Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman series over until the next novel in the series is published (soon, I hope).

Maggie trusts her mentor, Patrick Mulligan, so she doesn’t think twice when he asks her to help him with a job in Atlantic City. It just so happens that she has tickets to a Barry Manilow concert and was planning to go anyway. So she and her good friend Armani (who is unaware of Mulligan’s job) head off to AC with Maggie’s lizard along for the ride because he really didn’t want to stay home alone. It’s always a fun time for the reader when Godzilla (or god as he likes to be called) makes an appearance. He finds himself making quite an unexpected appearance during the job. That’s all I’ll say about that or the rest of the plot 🙂 You’ll have to read to find out. It’s a quick, fun read that made my time on the treadmill go by in a flash.

This novella is #2.5 in the series. Although it can be a stand alone I recommend you start with the first book (Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman) because you don’t want to miss learning how Maggie became a hitwoman.

  • Title:  The Hitwoman Gets Lucky – Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman series, #2.5
  • Author:  JB Lynn
  • Genre:  Romantic Suspense; Humor
  • Published:  March 2013 – Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Source:  I bought it

Five Days by Douglas Kennedy

five days

  • Title:  Five Days
  • Author:  Douglas Kennedy
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  April 2013 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis (publisher):  Laura works in a small hospital on the Maine coast, scanning and x-raying many a scared patient. In a job where finding nothing is always the best result, she is well versed in the random unfairness of life, a truism that has started to affect her personally. Her husband Dan has become a stranger since losing his job. With a son in college and a daughter set to leave home, she wonders how the upcoming empty nest will affect the disconnected state of her marriage.

Still, Laura jumps at the opportunity to attend a conference in Boston where she meets a man as grey and uninspired as her drab hotel. His name is Richard. He’s a fifty-something salesman, also from Maine, also in Boston for the weekend. When a chance meeting brings them together again, Laura begins to discover a far more complex and thoughtful man behind the flat façade. Like herself, Richard ponders his own life and wonders if the time has come to choose desire over obligation.

My take:  Five Days is really Laura’s story about what happens when she unexpectedly has a chance to find some joy in her life. She’s given that chance when she meets Richard, a man who has bowed to demands and expectations his entire life. He’s in a loveless marriage and his only son is incarcerated in the psychiatric wing of the state prison. Laura’s choices made previously in her life ultimately led to her current situation: married to an out-of-work and angry man who seems to delight in belittling her and then immediately shows regret yet remains remote. Her college age son is recovering from a breakdown and her high school senior daughter loves the superficial things in life. Even Laura’s job is getting to her.

So we have two stressed-out and lonely people who find in each other a shared love of words and books and a need to be unconditionally loved. Boston is worlds away from their real lives and they grab the chance for connection in the few days they have there. They even go so far as to consider the possibility of a future together. About midway through the novel I didn’t like where things were going and couldn’t shake a sense of dread.

I went from not really liking Laura (as well as most of the other characters) to feeling hopeful for her. That said, the book was just ok for me. I thought the writing was fine but I had a hard time with the depressing tone of the story, most of the characters, and the infidelity theme.