beth's reading recommendations
Before We Were Yours
After reading the short blurb about Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, I was highly intrigued about the plot and the writing. I was fascinated by the idea of a children’s home stealing kids and selling them off to the highest bidder. However, once I began reading, I was unprepared for how distressing main character Rill’s story would turn out to be. I actually could not finish it, knowing that horrible fates likely awaited Rill and her siblings. Perhaps I am too shallow, but reading the book and anticipating what would be happening to the kids, as well as the torture the parents felt over losing their children, was not an option for me. As a parent, I had great difficulty reading about subjects such as children being separated from the only family they know, about a child being abusively punished for bed wetting, about…
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Before We Were Yours
After reading the short blurb about Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, I was highly intrigued about the plot and the writing. I was fascinated by the idea of a children’s home stealing kids and selling them off to the highest bidder. However, once I began reading, I was unprepared for how distressing main character Rill’s story would turn out to be. I actually could not finish it, knowing that horrible fates likely awaited Rill and her siblings. Perhaps I am too shallow, but reading the book and anticipating what would be happening to the kids, as well as the torture the parents felt over losing their children, was not an option for me. As a parent, I had great difficulty reading about subjects such as children being separated from the only family they know, about a child being abusively punished for bed wetting, about lies being told while children were used as pawns.
So I do recommend the book for those interested in realistic fiction, who have a stronger stomach than me. I think there are many well written pieces and the author does a commendable job outlining the plot, using a mystery as a good device to share this past atrocity. Friends and my book club read the book and though they thought it was upsetting, were glad they read it.
Between the TidesWhile on vacation, I decided to read Between the Tides. However, this is not your typical beach read; instead, it is thought provoking and compelling. The main character, Cappy (nickname from Catherine), is 30 years old and facing life as a recent orphan, most recently losing her father within the past year. He requested his ashes be strewn in the river of her childhood home, a town she lived in till she was 12 and tragedy struck. The idea of returning to Seaboro 18 years later is overwhelming and beyond comprehension. However, after determining she must in fact do it, she and a friend (former boyfriend Forrest) take the trip, a five hour car ride away.
While in Seaboro, Cappy discovers she did not know her father nearly as well as she initially believed, learning about secrets and aspects of his life she did not foresee or fathom. She also faces her own identify crisis, coming to terms with the incident that drove the family from town. As an adult, Cappy has kept just about everyone at arm’s length, and those walls are forced to crumble upon learning information about her past and even her present situation. In less than a week, Cappy must make unexpected, life altering decisions regarding her own future, as well as those she loves.
Henry’s writing is well done; the sentences flow easily and she integrates prose and quotes effortlessly into the text. Cappy’s father speaks to the concept that one’s life is a story and that one can learn about your own life from different published tales as well. This lesson had been lost on Cappy for the past 18 years, but she comes to an understanding of him and his intentions as the plot unfolds. There are some plot elements that wil not surprise the reader and will actually validate the feelings about the characters; I think readers will find the storyline well constructed and appropriately designed. The book is left open to consider a sequel with some of the side characters, should Henry wish to explore their stories as much as Cappy’s.
Side note: I met the author in summer 2017 when discussing one of her newer books. She is an engaging speaker and captivated the audience with her authentic tone and stories about her family and childhood. I plan on reading Henry’s other books and sharing them with friends.
Filed under fiction, romance
Is he a good guy or a bad guy? ‘Frank’ shows up on English coast one day, with only the clothes on his back, no memory of who he is or how he got there. A woman named Alice finds him and takes him in, much to the chagrin of her family and closest friend. Miles away in London, Lilly an Ukrainian immigrant reports her newlywed husband is missing. Knowing no one, she has to figure out who she can trust to learn what happened to him. Decades earlier, a family goes on a seaside vacation in a small coastal community with unforeseen results. These three separate plot lines comprise the story of I Found You. A slow build up leads to an explosive explanation about how the three distinct tales intersect and provide all the answers.
Jewell effortlessly takes the reader back and forth, from present day to 1993. She paints descriptive pictures of each character, allowing for a full image to form and opinions to emerge. As the book unfolds, the two male characters are introduced, and one is likable while the other is not. With the story bouncing back and forth from the past to the present, and ‘Frank’s’ identity slowly forming shape, the reader is left to guess which of the two men he really is.
Highly recommend this suspenseful novel. My book club is going to read it, and I can’t wait to hear their opinions.
by Kimberly Stuart, addresses the dilemma many women and men make, choosing one’s career or a relationship. Charlie is a pastry chef trying to establish herself in a famous NY restaurant under the tutelage of a famous baker, but no matter how hard she tries, she is not able to get the approval of her superior. When the opportunity arises for her to run the kitchen Continue reading
Readers who like romance with modern, real life circumstances will want to read Tracy Ewens’ Love Story series. As of this writing, there are eight books in the series. Ewens introduces a character in one book and features him or her in another. She has both men and women as the main characters, exploring reasons why a relationship will or won’t work. Though there are some formulaic aspects in the series as we can realistically assume the two love interests will work through their obstacles to find happiness together, Ewens manages to make each story fresh. One way she accomplishes this feat is by having many of the storylines take place at different locations, such as a farm, restaurant, city, beach, college, football arena, political venue and more. The characters have a variety of jobs too, which means Ewens appears to do extensive amounts of research to get it right. Their occupations range from chef to bartender to politician to actor to photographer to computer programmer to farmer. Ewens also represents people at different stages of life, which allows the reader to find someone to relate to.
I eagerly await Ewens’ next book, as I am sure it will hold my attention while also teach me something!
Filed under fiction, romance
A Mother’s Promise is one of the most difficult, yet well written books, I have read in years. Hepworth has a great talent and accurately captures the essence of a mother / daughter relationship with finesse and compassion. The main character, Alice, is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and has to figure out a way to take care of herself an her 15 year old daughter who suffers from severe social anxiety. Unfortunately, there is virtually no extended family support, so we are introduced to Alice’s primary nurse Kate and a social worker, Sonja, who is also assigned to the case. Though the story centers on Alice’s condition, each person has her own story to tell, and we are fortunate to be introduced to each one’s tale.
As a mom to a teenage daughter, I found it hard to read, because the topic is so difficult to process. Alice’s diagnosis is every mother’s fear and I did not want to consider the ‘what if’ that resonates throughout the book. However, I am so glad I persevered, because it is such a solid piece of fiction. The ending provides resolution and at the same time, keeps the door open for the next stage in the character’s lives. I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds real life books compelling. The story has a few predicable elements, but there are also plenty of unexpected moments, both positive and negative, like real life. I have already told friends about it and will continue to read Hepworth’s novels, as they make me think and help me slow down and appreciate the people I love the most.