Do you have a wishlist for your books? I have several…. I have my Amazon list, my Audible list, my Goodreads list, and a list on my phone. That’s actually a good thing since I choose books based on these lists and recommendations. If you ever have a book to recommend, please let me know!
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This was a month of books that appeared out of the blue- not previously on my lists. Hard to believe, I know. But here is the story- all of the book sites I visit know me. I mean, they know what kinds of books I read, so anytime I visit a site it will recommend books to me. And I always check out the ones they suggest. I have found some great books like this! This month has books I might not have normally chosen, but I loved them all!
A FIRE SPARKLING BY JULIANNE MACLEAN
This book showed up on my Amazon Prime suggested books one day and it had great reviews so I thought I would try it. The story begins with Gillian returning to her father’s home after being betrayed by her boyfriend. Soon after she finds some old photographs of her grandmother, but the man in the photos is someone not recognized. Her father has no idea who the man is either.
In 1939, Vivian was living in England. She is a singer in a local nightclub and meets a British official, who also happens to be the son of an Earl. They fall in love and marry. In the meantime, the war with Germany is becoming more treacherous for England and bombings of the countryside begin. Vivian is very worried about her twin sister, April. The last communication she had with April was before her marriage and all she knows is that April was in France and had fallen for a German officer.
Then, miraculously April shows up at Vivian’s home. She has managed to get past all roadblocks that would have prevented her passage from France to England. Vivian welcomes April into her home with her new husband, but there are so many secrets! Is she still in love with the German soldier? Is April sympathetic with the German cause? Could she be spying?
To be honest, I almost did not start this book – even though Amazon wanted me to. I tried reading a war story (which is suddenly a popular genre), but I did not like the book at all. (No spoiler here, it was The Nightingale. I think I am the only person on the planet that disliked that book.) Anyway, I was concerned that I would also not like this book, but I started it anyway. It was surprisingly well done and totally believable. I do have many questions, though. There is a scene, during the wartime, when women were parachuting into France to deliver messages. Did this really happen? And they parachuted with very little training.
Hmmm. anyway, I enjoyed this book immensely and loved the characters. especially Vivian. Definitely 5 stars for this one! Add it to your next-read list!
Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson
If you have read my reviews over the years you know I really look for books that are well written, believable, and have characters you can love. I love a mystery or detective story. I am not a huge fan of chick-lit or formulaic writing. So, how did I end up with this book? Well, Goodreads recommended it to me and I felt I had to at least try it.
So, let me give you the basics:
- Marnie MacGraw is a young woman engaged to marry Noah. The book opens with their wedding and he is very late in arriving. Like hours. They get married anyway and then divorce two weeks later.
- Before their wedding, Marnie attends a family get-together and meets Noah’s great-aunt Blix, who is in her eighties. She is quite a character.
- Blix is a match-maker. This means she can sense which couples are destined to be together and which are not. She sees an aura of color around people and also claims she can trick things into happening by just thinking about them.
- Blix is completely enthralled with Marnie and predicts she will have a great life- not so sure about Noah’s part in it.
- A few months later Marnie is gifted with a townhouse in New York that Blix has left to her upon her death. Mind you, Marnie is not related to Blix. (By the way, I am not revealing any secrets in telling you about these events. All of them are mentioned from the beginning of the book.)
Okay, here are my problems. It is a tad ‘unreal’ that anyone can predict the future like Blix claims to so that breaks my rules about books. There is just too much back and forth between Marnie and Noah and a third person Marnie is involved with- so is this a chick-lit book? That also breaks a rule I have about books. There are also some improbable scenes that get way out of hand.
But… there is also a charm to this book. It is quirky, well-written, somewhat amusing, and I love Marie and Blix and Patrick. And I love all the characters that Marnie discovers while she is living in the townhouse.
I would give this book 4.5 stars because I did love it. Several things happen near the end that I did not expect and that is always a good thing for me. This is a light-hearted little book- probably a perfect beach read! Try it!
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
It’s the 1970s when David Sorenson and Marilyn Connolly meet and fall in love. Now, married for 40 years they are as intensely in love and enthralled with one another as they were in the early years. Is it all blissful? Well, no, real-life intrudes- even in a novel. David and Marilyn have four daughters- all very different from one another. I listed the basics for each one!
- There is Wendy, their eldest. Wendy was a troubled teenager with a penchant for doing things her way and being really impolite to her mother. She married Miles, and after his death, she has turned to alcohol and younger men to fill the void of her life.
- Violet is the second daughter, married to Matt and with two young sons. There is a secret between Violet and Wendy, one that will slowly be revealed throughout the book.
- The third daughter is Liza, now involved with Ryan. Ryan has clinical depression and struggles to do anything except sleep and play video games. When Liza discovers she is pregnant things fall apart.
- The last daughter is Grace who was born when the other girls were already teenagers. Although Grace is now a young adult everyone still views her as the baby of the family. She is living in Oregon and “attending” law school.
The book spans the passage of the 40 years of David and Marilyn and how they cope with all the drama of raising four daughters. Their marriage seems magical, yet has its share of angst. The one lasting piece of their legacy is their devotion to one another and how this affects the relationships of all their children. Can any of the girls find this kind of future with their own spouses? The book alternates with present-day and the history of the couple. It also alternates its point of view in telling about each person. It is quite beautifully written – in a style that is mesmerizing. Here’s is a passage from David-after his father has died. He and Marilyn had been caught up in his father’s illness and caring for their children and had spent many months not communicating very well. When the news comes that his father has died, Marilyn reached for David, in comfort.
“…the amazing reality of Marilyn’s hand in his, the seamless return to form after a long stretch of adversity, the weight of his wife against his arm when she knew he needed her. That was the kind of love he had never known until her and, at that moment, remembered how lucky he was to have. He inhaled her and held her and let himself be held and that, he knew, softened the blow of the news.”
This is one that Audible suggested for me, but I read the real book and loved it. I can recommend it highly! 5 stars (but it is lengthy at 500+ pages).
Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
Three women, Sloane, Ardie, and Grace are all lawyers at Truviv, Inc. When the company CEO dies the rumor starts that Ames, the women’s boss, is possibly going to take over. All three women have had sexual harassment or abuse from this man. Enter Kathryn. Kathryn is the newest hire and the other three notice that Ames has taken her under “under his wing”. They all suspect the same thing- that Kathryn will be the next victim of the abuse by Ames.
They decide to take action and bring a suit against him. Very quickly after this, Ames jumps from a balcony, apparently committing suicide. The law firm makes the next move and brings suit against the women. They are claiming wrongful death of Ames and are suing for millions of dollars. Ah, but the company has overlooked one tiny little person in this whole story. The night crew of housekeepers, one in particular. The story unfolds by alternating between the current events and depositions taken of each woman. It is quite a thriller, right up to the last chapter when you learn how everything was intertwined. I listened to this book using Audible (because of course, the site told me I should) and loved the narration and the story. 5 stars, definitely. If you are interested in Audible, click the link below to get started.
The Substitution Order by Martin Clark
This is another book I listened to this month! So fabulous and very different from the others. It’s a crime drama with some really delicious twists! (Apparently, Audible also knows that I like crime dramas!) The main character is Kevin Moore, a disbarred lawyer recently separated from his wife of many years. Kevin, on a lark, tried cocaine at a gathering and then fell into a daily drug habit.
He is now working in a sandwich shop, on parole, and trying to get his life back on track. Then one day a mysterious stranger comes into the sandwich shop with a proposition and a threat for Kevin. This con artist wants Kevin to work with them to extort money from the malpractice insurance company from Kevin’s old practice.
Kevin has to agree that he committed malpractice in obtaining land for a client from years ago. Kevin refuses and is then embroiled in the revenge of these people. This includes being framed with a drug test and possession of drugs and a weapon. This sets in motion all the tricks Kevin can pull to get himself out of this mess. He has some great friends that help him and a faithful rescue dog. The pieces of the puzzle will fall into place and you will love the way it all plays out.
This is one I can highly recommend that you read or listen to. The narrator of the audiobook was fantastic! 5 stars!
Lesson learned- when a book website suggests a book for you- they might be right! Try one of these and see what you think!
My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it – usually the way it ended stupidly. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.