Left To Chance

By Amy Sue Nathan

Left to Chance: A Novel by [Nathan, Amy Sue]

4 out of 5 stars

Teddi Lerner is back home in Chance, Ohio after running away from her best friend Celia’s  funeral service. She is coming back for Shay, Celia’s 12-year-old daughter. Her dad is getting remarried and have asked Teddi to take their photos. She is a world known wedding photographer. Teddi has made quite the life for herself away from Chance. She is sought after, travels everywhere, and is dating her boss. What Teddi didn’t count on were the emotions and feeling of home that Chance would return to her.

They say you can’t go back home again but like Bon Jovi sings “Who says?” Everything is different but the people all seem the same. I loved this little town and how Ms. Nathan described it. I want to sit in Perk and have my coffee, or sit in the town square and people watch. Your heart goes out to Teddi. Your heart goes out to Shay and to Beck. It takes a turn that I didn’t expect but I ended up really wanting to happen. The characters were all so rich with emotion. You felt for everyone of them. I really enjoyed the book and will keep these characters with me for some time to come.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and St. Martin’s and this opinion is humbly my own.

Something Like Happy

By Eva Woods

Something Like Happy: A Novel by [Woods, Eva]

4 out of 5 stars

After Annie suffers from the most terrible loss imaginable, her life becomes one long day after another. She exists but doesn’t live. When her mother begins the descent into dementia, she finds her days spent at the hospital. What she doesn’t expect to find is Polly. Polly , with her colorful clothes and dynamic personality, swoops into Annie’s life like a gale wind force. Polly is at the hospital because she has a brain tumor and not much time left on earth but she wants to live that time to the fullest. Annie becomes a project of sorts for Polly. She wants to bring Annie back to life. What they both don’t know is just how much they will change each other’s lives.

There is something just so beautifully sad or sadly beautiful about this story. We all know Polly is going to die and I cried some good tears, let me tell you, but it’s the living that makes your heart soar. The cast of characters are all in need of something and watching them find it is truly wonderful. My heart hurt for Annie but watching as she came out of her shell was the best part of the book. I loved Polly and her devil-may-care attitude, she was fun, but Annie was really the heart of the book. One hundred days of their mission will be one hundred days that you will devour.  It’s got everything; love, friendship, laughter, tears and even the northern lights.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.

Close Enough To Touch

By Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to Touch: A Novel by [Oakley, Colleen]

4 out of 5 stars

Can you imagine being in a world where you can have no physical contact with any other human being? This is the world Jubilee Jenkins lives in. She is allergic to any human contact. A mere kiss from a boy in school, sent her almost to her death. But that’s not the only thing that is missing in her life, her mother left her when she was young to live alone in their family home. Jubilee has pretty much been a hermit for most of her life. When she gets word that her mother has died and her stepfather will not be sending her any money, the house will be hers free and clear, she has to venture out into the real world. She has become agoraphobic. She hasn’t had any contact even verbally with anyone. She stumbles across her old school nemesis who gets her a job at the library. It is a whole new world for Jubilee.

We also have Eric, who has moved to town for six months with this adopted son Aja. Aja has so many issues since the loss of his parents and Eric is still dealing with his teenage daughter Ellie and how she doesn’t want anything to do with him.

When these three people stumble across each other, their lives will change in ways that none of them could imagine.

This book will definitely tug at your heartstrings. My heart broke for the kind of life that Jubilee lead for all those years. She really had no life at all. I love how Ms. Oakley wrote her with such care and made her so multi-dimensional, not just some scared woman. She was fully thought out.  She could break your heart and in the next turn, make you laugh.  I had a few problems with Eric. He seemed pretty stuck in his own world and not open to listening for quite a while. He did grow on me after a bit. And Aja, poor sweet Aja. You just knew that he was hiding something that was making him do what he was doing. This is one of those books that you will remember for a while and that ending!

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.

Sourdough

By Robin Sloan

Sourdough: A Novel by [Sloan, Robin]

4 out of 5 stars

Lois is an software engineer at a robotics firm in San Francisco. She goes to work everyday. She has the “Slurry” like her co-workers. (Slurry is some kind of liquid food.)  She goes home at night to her little apartment. It is all the same routine until a flyer appears at her door one night. It advertises spicy soup and bread. That’s it. Lois calls and with that call, her life changes. There is something about that soup and bread that seems to light a spark in her. When the brothers, who were just cooking out of their apartment, move away, they leave her the magical sourdough starter and this changes her life forever.

I don’t know how to explain this book. It has a lot going on. From the the magic of the starter to the joy of baking, the bread and starter have a life of their very own. I loved how Lois changed throughout the story. Her analytical mind took her beyond baking to the science of the oven or the way music made the starter bloom. I also loved that this was set in the bay area because that is where I am from and it highlighted it beautifully. I loved when I knew exactly where they were talking about. It is written with such perfect detail and I swear sometimes I could actually smell that starter bubbling with it’s hint of banana or the bread baking and popping out warm from the oven. I also loved the different chapters between Lois and Beo, one of the brothers. We were able to see how everything is really connected and the history of the starter.  It is a great story of self discovery. Now if you will excuse me, I think I need some bread and butter.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux in exchange for an honest review.

Wish You Were Here

By Renee Carlino

 

Wish You Were Here: A Novel by [Carlino, Renée]

4 out of 5 stars

Charlotte is at loose ends. She works at a restaurant where there endless bowl of soup night is the big draw. She has had a string of disastrous boyfriends. She lives with her best friend from childhood who is a lot more of a free spirit. And then one night, she meets Adam and throws all caution to the wind. He is a lawyer who quit his job to create and paint. He has painted murals around the city. They fall into each other and Charlotte thinks that she has found something special but in the morning, he seems to be distant. She doesn’t hear from him again. Oh, she looks for him, but no Adam. Then she meets Seth. Seth is what you would probably call the perfect man. She begins something with him and maybe life is looking up. And then…..she sees a mural of a story she told Adam THAT night. When she finally finds him, she finds out the secret that he was keeping from her. (A secret that I think everyone reading could figure out right away) What happens next is everything that changes all their lives.

I enjoyed this book. I really did but there was something that just didn’t sit right with me. I am the biggest romantic in the world and cry at the drop of a hat, but I didn’t feel that at all. I felt the meeting and falling in love was maybe a bit too abrupt.   I loved the ending. The letter at the end did touch my heart. I have read many reviews of people loving this so maybe it just didn’t hit the right chord for me for some reason.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Atria Books in exchange for an honest review.

See What I Have Done

By Sarah Schmidt

See What I Have Done by [Schmidt, Sarah]

4 out of 5 stars

Lizzie Borden took an axe…..

We all know the story but Sarah Schmidt takes us to another place and another way of looking at it all. We are told the story in four alternating voices. Of course, there is Lizzie. She is a very odd woman. She definitely is not all there mentally. She thinks things that most of us would not and she has her secrets. Emma, her sister, just wants to live her live away from her stifling family. She comes so close at one point. Bridget, the Irish born maid, also wants to get away from the Borden family but Mrs. Borden does not want to let her leave. In her anger, she holds her money hostage from her. Their Uncle John hires a man named Benjamin to convince Mr. Borden not to leave his money to his wife. And by convince, he seems to mean any way possible. Benjamin has his own demons and is quite the sadistic character. Though none of us will probably ever know the real story of what happened that day in the Borden house, Sarah Schmidt’s story telling, sure makes me feel like we were there.

This book is very intense. There is an awful lot of anger in this house and you can feel it through the pages. I have read other books about the subject and they were very straightforward but I like how this one made me look at everyone with different eye. I still think Lizzie killed her father and stepmother and this book doesn’t really dissuade you to feel any different but it is an interesting look at the family dynamics.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Grove Atlantic in exchange for an honest review.

Class Mom

By Laurie Gelman

Class Mom: A Novel by [Gelman, Laurie]

5 out of 5 stars

Jen Dixon is room mother for her son Max’s kindergarten class in Kansas City. She is the one responsible for the class newsletter but this is not your typical newsletter and she is not your typical room mother. Her newsletters are hilarious! They border on the “maybe she shouldn’t say that” line but I would definitely be laughing out loud if she were my child’s room mother. Some of the parents don’t understand the snark and some get it and enjoy it. Max is Jen’s third go-round as a mom. She has two older daughters that are from two different dads and one might or might not be Michael Hutchence from INXS. (Wild groupie days) Max’s dad is what she lovingly calls her “first” husband since she never married. They are the cutest together. Love the banter. Along with the class mom duties come all the gossip and goings on at a school. There is the mysterious child who is never there. The kid with all the allergies. The woman who wants to be class mom badly. Can she get through the year in one piece?

This book is hilarious! I cracked up through the whole thing. I loved Jen! I would want her as my class mom. I would want her as my friend. The other characters were just as fleshed out and totally likable. (Even the ones who weren’t so likable) This is the perfect end of summer kind of book. You can laugh your way into the school year and only hope your class mom is as fun as Jen is. I look forward to more from Laurie Gelman.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Henry Holt & Company in exchange for an honest review.