Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue

  • every-wild-heartTitle:  Every Wild Heart
  • Author:  Meg Donohue
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  March 2017 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  Passionate and funny, radio personality Gail Gideon is a true original. Nine years ago when Gail’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, her ensuing on-air rant propelled her local radio show into the national spotlight. Now, “The Gail Gideon Show” is beloved by millions of single women who tune-in for her advice on the power of self-reinvention. But fame comes at a price. After all, what does a woman who has staked her career on being single do when she finds herself falling in love? And is the person who is harassing her in increasingly troubling ways a misguided fan or a true danger to Gail and her daughter, Nic? 

Fourteen-year-old Nic has always felt that she pales in comparison to her vibrant, outgoing mother. Plagued by a fear of social situations, she is most comfortable at the stable where she spends her afternoons. But when a riding accident lands Nic in the hospital, she awakens from her coma changed. Suddenly, she has no fear at all and her disconcerting behavior lands her in one risky situation after another. And no one, least of all her mother, can guess what she will do next… (publisher)

My take:  Every Wild Heart is the story of a mother and daughter. Gail Gideon (GG) is a late-night radio talk show host who lives with her fourteen year old daughter Nic. GG has been divorced from Nic’s father for several years but has an amicable relationship with him.

GG has a fan who seems to be moving into stalker mode so she’s on edge about her daughter’s safety as well as her own. Nic is an anxious girl who would rather stay home than go to school. The one thing she looks forward to is riding her horse. She goes to the stables every day after school and that’s what gets her through the school day. When Nic is injured at the stables life for her and Gigi takes a turn.

The theme of letting go – of anger and fear – runs through the novel. What would happen if Gigi started to follow her heart and see where life could take her?  She can learn a lot from watching her daughter as she starts to live with a braver heart.

I enjoyed how Meg Donohue’s story played out through the perspectives of mother and daughter in alternating chapters. The characters were interesting and seemed authentic and at the end of the novel I wished there were another hundred pages.


 

Fall of Poppies

  • Fall of Poppies (LTER win)Title:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War
  • Authors:   Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, Marci Jefferson
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; Library Thing Early Reviewers

Description:  On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month . . .

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors, the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving, unforgettable collection, nine top historical fiction authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.  (Goodreads)

My brief take:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War is an anthology of stories about World War I. They revolve around Armistice Day (Nov. 11, 1918) – “where were you then?” and “what happened before and after?”.

I liked all of the stories but one stood out from all the rest: All For the Love of You by Jennifer Robson. It’s about a young American woman in Paris who meets an injured American soldier at her place of work and forms a unique friendship. Circumstances out of their control determine what happens next… until one day when they meet again. I loved the story and will definitely look for more from author Jennifer Robson.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction/romance anthologies – especially with a Great War theme.

Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

  • summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)Title:  Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery
  • Author:  Jenny Colgan
  • Series:  Little Beach Street Bakery #2
  • Pages:  416
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.

But clouds are gathering on the horizon. A stranger threatens to ruin Polly’s business. Her beloved boyfriend seems to be leading a secret life. And the arrival of a newcomer—a bereft widow desperately searching for a fresh start—forces Polly to reconsider the choices she’s made, even as she tries to help her new friend through grief.

Unpredictable and unforgettable, this delightful novel will make you laugh, cry, and long for a lighthouse of your own. Recipes included.  (publisher)

My take:  Jenny Colgan takes readers back to Mount Polbearne. I loved seeing what was new in the lives of Polly, Huckle and all the rest. We meet a few new characters and yes, Neil the puffin is back.

Colgan’s novel lived up to my expectations. There’s love, loss, humor and drama in the lives of the residents of the tiny seaside village in Cornwall we first visited in Little Beach Street Bakery. It was great to visit and my hope is that we might someday meet up again.

Even though Colgan provides a brief catch-up of the first book I highly recommend reading it before this book because I enjoyed it so much. Fans of small town settings and characters will find a lot to love in these books.

All The Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank

  • all the single ladiesTitle:  All the Single Ladies: A novel
  • Author:  Dorothea Benton Frank
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  June 2015 – William Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  The perennial New York Times bestselling author returns with an emotionally resonant novel that illuminates the power of friendship in women’s lives, and is filled with her trademark wit, poignant and timely themes, sassy, flesh-and-blood characters, and the steamy Southern atmosphere and beauty of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry.

Few writers capture the complexities, pain, and joy of relationships—between friends, family members, husbands and wives, or lovers—as beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank. In this charming, evocative, soul-touching novel, she once again takes us deep into the heart of the magical Lowcountry where three amazing middle-aged women are bonded by another amazing woman’s death.

Through their shared loss they forge a deep friendship, asking critical questions. Who was their friend and what did her life mean? Are they living the lives they imagined for themselves? Will they ever be able to afford to retire? How will they maximize their happiness? Security? Health? And ultimately, their own legacies?

A plan is conceived and unfurls with each turn of the tide during one sweltering summer on the Isle of Palms. Without ever fully realizing how close they were to the edge, they finally triumph amid laughter and maybe even newfound love.  (publisher)

My take:  I love how Dorothea Benton Frank tells a story. I’ve read a handful of her books and am so happy there are so many more to read. She makes me laugh as well as sympathize with her characters’ dilemmas.

The ladies of ALL THE SINGLE LADIES are of a certain age (40s and 50s) and seem to be happy (or maybe resigned to) where life has taken them. At any rate, they’re used to being single and fending for themselves. When the friend who brought them all together dies and leaves her estate to one of the women they are faced with a mystery. As they try to figure things out life brings new people into their lives. The supporting characters are, for the most part, completely charming. They add to the warmth, tension, and emotion of the novel.

The ladies find that true friends will get you through just about anything life throws at you. And a sense of humor and an open heart make the road easier.

I loved the novel and look forward to the author’s next book. I also listened (used an audible credit so I could listen when I walked). The narration by Robin Miles was so enjoyable. Her performance enhanced the book for me.

He’s Gone: A Novel by Deb Caletti

He's Gone

  • Title:  He’s Gone
  • Author:  Deb Caletti
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Mystery
  • Published:  May 2013 – Bantam
  • Source:  Publisher; LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Synopsis:  “What do you think happened to your husband, Mrs. Keller?”
The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on her Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But on this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see that her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.

As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light: from its intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, turning over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together.  (publisher)

My brief take:  He’s Gone is a compelling narrative by a woman whose husband has gone missing. It’s the story of when they meet until that day she can’t find him. It’s a smooth, psychological portrayal by, what some might think, an unreliable narrator.

Deb Caletti certainly kept me wondering and guessing about what happened to Dani’s husband! I liked He’s Gone and will definitely look for more of Caletti’s books.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

the husband's secret

  • Title:  The Husband’s Secret
  • Author:  Liane Moriarty
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  July 2013 – Amy Einhorn Books; Putnam
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.  (publisher) 

My take:  Three women, really no more than acquaintances, find out how very connected their lives really are.

I enjoyed The Husband’s Secret. It’s not a whodunit because the reader finds out way before the end of the novel. I think it’s more a whatwouldyoudo. That makes it a perfect choice for book groups. It also asks how far would you go to protect a loved one?

One minute it is dramatic and the next, quite funny. Liane Moriarty is a gifted storyteller. I loved her previous novel What Alice Forgot and I look forward to reading more of her novels. Recommended.

Note:  I also purchased the audiobook – narrated by Caroline Lee. If you enjoy listening to books I recommend this audio.

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

lost art of mixing

  • Title:  The Lost Art of Mixing
  • Author:  Erica Bauermeister
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  January 2013 – Putnam
  • Source:  I received a review copy from the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewer program

Synopsis (publisher)Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .
Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.

My take:  If you enjoyed The School of Essential Ingredients you’ll want to read The Lost Art of Mixing. Erica Bauermeister delves into the lives of characters from the first book.  We get to see sides of each that even the other characters never see.

This novel is a connected string of intriguing stories that explain the characters we thought we knew. Just as a recipe is the sum of its ingredients so are the characters a sum of their life experiences. Each strives to find connection to those they love but must rely on being accepted for themselves. To do that, they must accept others as they are. The mix will work or it won’t but, in the end, they’ll know if they should stay or move on – be part of this recipe for the life they want or find another that will work.

I really liked The Lost Art of Mixing. Humor and drama mixed evenly to become a novel that left me satisfied. I’d love to see where life takes these characters but even if this is where Erica Bauermeister leaves them I can’t wait to see what she writes next.