This Wandering Heart by Janine Rosche

We’re halfway through July already. Wow. That’s crazy. I’d say “where has this year gone” but I think time has slowed down for all of us, eh?

One of the happy notes from June was my birthday. Lots of family and friends reaching out, and one spectacular picnic at the park, a surprise from our daughter and family with my husband’s help. (It’s a little scary he kept that secret so well. Lol.)

On the writing front, the epic prequel to my fantasy series, Earth Legacy, just went to the editor. So things are moving along.

And now, it’s time to get on with the reading challenge. The newest unread book on my shelf was a gift from another daughter. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, God rest his soul.

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Ooh, boy. This was a brain-burner. Fascinating, but I’m still not done with it. I have to stop and think about almost every paragraph, let it sink in and try to make sense of it, even though it’s very well written for a layman to read. That man was brilliant and I am in awe. Still, I needed something to post for this month’s challenge, so I fudged a bit and picked up a new-to-me book/author. Yes, another romance. 🙂

 

What It’s About:

In the first entry in the Madison River Romance series, Keira Knudsen gets the traveling opportunity of a lifetime, but when she reunites with her first love, Robbie, she learns that even a wandering heart needs a home….

No one in the quaint town of West Yellowstone, Montana knows that unassuming geography teacher Keira Knudsen moonlights as sensational travel blogger Kat Wanderfull. No one, that is, except for her first love, Robbie Matthews, who has just discovered the woman he is falling for online is the same one that broke his heart five years ago.

But Robbie has another problem: the mother of his daughter, Anabelle, has resurfaced after a three-year absence determined to rip Anabelle away from him. Robbie needs a steady paycheck for a chance at custody, and now, on the eve of a grand adventure that could give Keira a chance to flee her old, troubled life once and for all, she is in need of assistance.

With so much broken trust between them, Keira and Robbie must keep an arms-length away to make this partnership work. But the more time they spend together, exploring majestic places and sharing new experiences, the closer they get–until their secrets and dreams threaten to cost them everything.

My Thoughts:

I didn’t realize this was inspirational, and it worked very well for this story. There’s a world of hurt between these two, and one adorable four-year-old girl to bring them together. Honestly, I loved every minute of it. Even the reading disability the hero had was very, very well handled. It was full of hope, love, and everything that brings families together. It’s a recommend from me.

Have a great month, everyone! Stay safe! And hang in there.

The Inn at Eagle Peak by Sherryl Woods

How’s everyone doing? I know there’s been a lot going on lately. I find myself in tears over the strife and inequalities, yet bolstered by the acts of kindness and solidarity I see. That’s what I hang my hope for the future on.

We are still staying home, though our state is opening back up in phases and that has started here. Salons are opening up, among other things. Still, I’m not quite ready to venture out. I’m grateful we have a large yard to spend time in, and the ability to video chat with friends and family.

Okay, time to get on with the reading challenge before I get too wordy.

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June’s book had to have a place in the title. Since it didn’t say it had to be a REAL place, I chose a fictional one. A romance, which is my favorite genre. Oh, and I just read that it’s a series on the Hallmark Channel.

 

What It’s About:

It’s been years since Abby O’Brien Winters set foot in Chesapeake Shores. The Maryland town her father built has too many sad memories and Abby too few spare moments, thanks to her demanding Wall Street career, the crumbling of her marriage and energetic daughters. Then one panicked phone call from her youngest sister brings her racing back home to protect Jess’s dream of renovating the charming Inn at Eagle Point.

But saving the inn from foreclosure means dealing not only with her own fractured family, but also with Trace Riley, the man Abby left ten years ago. Trace can be a roadblock to her plans…or proof that second chances happen in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts:

I generally always like reunion stories and this was no exception. Abby and Trace are reunited, maybe by parental design, maybe not. But the attraction between these two is strong and immediate and gets them through some harrowing times. I enjoyed the characterization, especially the five-year-old twins, Abby’s complicated sister, Jess, and the parents that have their own wounds to recover from. The setting is rich and peaceful and well-thought out. I’ved picked up the second book in the series to keep reading because I wasn’t ready to leave Chesapeake Shores.

Stay safe, everyone! And hang in there. This, too, shall pass.

Maximum Ride by James Patterson

Well, this is, for my husband and I, day 74 of following stay-at-home protocols. We’re doing fairly well. Still married. Hahaha. Still managing our daily lives, with grocery pickup and the occasional masked up visit to a store. We’ve had socially distanced visits with family in back yards, which has been a godsend. For me, the thing I miss most right now is hugs. My husband gives great hugs, but I would love to put my arms around my children, you know?

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This month’s reading challenge is: A children’s or young adult book. Since I read quite a bit of young adult, I thought I’d see if one of the books from my childhood would still be as beloved as they were then. So I went to the kids books we have here at home and found Heidi by Johanna Spyri. First published in 1881, I fell in love with this story as a child. I credit it for helping me fall in love with reading. So I opened the book and started to read. Alas, the edition I have apparently spent some time in the garage over the years because before long I was sneezing and watery-eyed from the musty smell. So I had to set it aside.

Then I chose a YA book to read. Thought I’d check out James Patterson’s Angel Experiment series. I grabbed the ebook for Maximum Ride, book 1.

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What It’s About:

Max soars above the world . . . but in James Patterson’s thrilling adventure, fantasy can come crashing down to reveal the nightmares of the Angel Experiment.
Maximum Ride and her “flock” — Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel — are just like ordinary kids, only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time.
Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the “School” where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of whack jobs. Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare: fighting off the half-human, half-wolf “Erasers” in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives.
Along the way, Max discovers that her purpose is save the world. But can she?

My Thoughts:

The characters are very different from each other and the premise is intriguing and complicated in a way only James Patterson can do. I felt for the kids in the story. However, the chapters were very short, many only a page or so. I’ve not seen that in a lot of young adult books and it made it hard for me to fully embed myself in the pov character, since it changed from chapter to chapter quite a bit. I haven’t picked up book 2 yet. I’m still mulling it over, but I’m betting I’ll pick it up. I did like the plot and would like to get some answers from this continuing series. I’d recommend this book, really I would. Just be prepared for those short chapters. 🙂

Stay safe, everyone! And hang in there. This, too, shall pass.

Virgin River

Last night, I closed a book I was so into that I read it over the course of about 30 hours. It wasn’t just the book. It was the last unread book in a twenty book series.

Have you read any of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series? Seen the new Netfix series? Because both are soooo worth the time. I love reading romance stories, and small town romances always leave me smiling at the end, so I tend to gravitate toward them.

Over the years, I’ve read several stories from this series, set in a small town in the redwoods of Northern California. I rarely read them in order, not that it mattered. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I made finishing this series one of my goals for our stay-at-home time. (Thank goodness for ebooks!)

And last night, I hugged my kindle after reading the end, sad to think that there were no new books to read in this world. My favorite characters are, of course, the bedrock of the series, Jack and Mel (book 1: Virgin River.)

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But I’ve been waiting for Nora’s story ever since she was introduced. Dumped in Virgin River with a baby and toddler by an unscrupulous ex, she had to work hard to survive and I wanted her to get her happy ending. Through Tom’s eyes, we get to see her amazing strength, her learning to trust again, and how much she sticks to her own principles.

I fell in love with Nora, with Tom and his grandmother, with Nora’s kids, with the apple orchard. But more than that, I got one final look at beloved characters and a world I’d been putting my reading glasses on for over the past several years.

I’m sad I’m done, but so happy to have spent the time in Virgin River. In fact, visiting the redwoods is now on my bucket list. This series is a high recommend from me.

And now the search is on to find a new series to read. Any recommendations?

Be safe, stay healthy. Survive! And, when life gets you down, I hope you are able to pick up a book and disappear for a while.

Spark, Feyguard, Book 1

Well, this is day 34 of staying home for us. So far, so good. In fact, I’m managing to finish some of those unfinished projects, like scrapping some birthday cards (enough for the rest of the year) and finishing a crochet project (closing in on that one.)

And reading. I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Best escape ever!

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For April’s read, which was supposed to be something from my shelf, I picked one of my favorite YA fantasies to re-read. Spark, a story set in Feyland by Anthea Sharp, is a vivid world where the Realm of Faerie meets gamer’s world. An immersive virtual game, Feyland, has a secret opening to the very real, very dangerous, fairie world, where the Dark Court is ruled by a sinister queen.

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Spark is a world-class gamer. Aran is a world-class hacker. And together, they must defeat the Dark queen.

What It’s About:

What if a high-tech computer game was a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie? 

Superstar gamer Spark Jaxley’s life might look easy, but she’s part of an elite few who guard a shocking secret; the Realm of Faerie exists, and its dark magic is desperate for a foothold in the mortal world.

Aran Cole hacks code and sells his gaming cheats on the black market. It’s barely a living, and one he’s not proud of. But when he turns his skills to unlocking the secrets behind Feyland–the most exciting and immersive game on the market–he discovers power and magic beyond his wildest dreams.

Spark’s mission is clear; pull Aran from the clutches of the fey folk and restore the balance between the worlds. But can she risk her life for someone who refuses to be rescued?

My Thoughts:

Honestly, I’ve read all the Feyland books so far. It’s on my series favorites list. The world is rich in detail and well-developed. The characters are different and believable. And the in-game/in-realm battle scenes are phenomenal, as is the rising tension. It’s a high recommend from me, even the second time around.

Stay safe, everyone!

East of the Mountains

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, I first want to send my fervent prayers that everyone is staying safe and healthy. COVID-19 is scary, especially for folks, like me, who are in the susceptible age group. I wish you all healthy environments!

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The March reading challenge was a book with a nature word in it. For that, I dug through my to-be-read pile and found East of the Mountains, by David Guterson. This is the same author who wrote Snow Falling on Cedars. I realized I haven’t read that one, either. Or seen the movie. After reading this one, I may well pick Snow Falling on Cedars up.

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What It’s About:

When he discovers that he has terminal cancer, retired heart surgeon Ben Givens refuses to simply sit back and wait. Instead he takes his two beloved dogs and goes on a last hunt, determined to end his life on his own terms. But as the people he meets and the memories over which he lingers remind him of the mystery of life’s endurance, his trek into the American West becomes much more than a final journey.

My thoughts:

I read the jacket – this story is about a dying man’s final journey. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it, but I’m glad I did. First, it’s an intimate look at the thoughts of someone dealing with a difficult diagnosis. Recollections of his life, including picking apples in the orchards of Eastern Washington and his time overseas in the war. The joy of meeting his wife. The despair that loss brings.

But there was also hope in this story. People who help him on his journey, both with time and wise words. When it ended, I smiled.  It was poignant, at times starkly human, and, well, it is an in depth look at the resiliency of humans under duress.

So it’s a recommend from me, but it’s also not for the faint of heart. Still, a smile touches my face as I think of it, so take that as you will.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

The Time Traveler’s Wife

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Month two of this reading challenge was another good book for me. I’m enjoying this challenge a lot so far.

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What it’s about (though I suspect most people already know this since it was first published in 2003):

Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals–steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

My thoughts:

I’m not sure why I hadn’t yet read this book, but I have now. I’ll be honest. I set it aside after the first page or two of chapter 1 (after the prologue.) The logical person inside my brain couldn’t understand how, if he is the time traveler, she is seeing him when he does not know her.

I’m glad I kept going. I got hooked. I had to stay focused, though. It’s not an easy story to keep straight, though the author does a great job of grounding the reader to time and place. I got involved. In Clare’s heart. In Henry’s head. It was well worth the time to read, though I felt the ending was a bit rushed. Still, I do like the image I was left with as I closed the book. So it’s a recommend from me. And now I need to watch the movie!

 

 

i’ll be your blue sky

Life has been pretty crazy lately. Between the holidays and other issues, it’s been difficult to find the motivation to write. So I’ve been taking some time off just to read and re-energize. Someone posted a reading challenge on Facebook, and for the life of me, I can’t remember who, but I’m grateful to them because I feel stuck in a rut. Here’s the  challenge:IMG_1143

I’ve decided to take this challenge, and for my January “color” book, I read:

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This story took a little getting used to, with third and first person. But I loved the two stories, Edith’s and Clare’s. And the way it all came together. I found it emotional and engaging. When Clare ends a relationship on the day of her wedding, her pain is real. Her metamorphosis moves along well, and the secondary characters made me smile. Well, most of them. After all, every story has to have an antagonist, right? Overall, a recommend from me.

One story down. Eleven to go…

I hope winter is playing nice with all of you! We’re rainy and gray in the Pacific Northwest. That bodes well for spring flowers. 🙂

Laurie Ryan

Christmas in Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts (Romance/Small town life)

I thought I’d offer some holiday warmth in my review this month. It’s been rainy and cool in the Pacific Northwest. I hope your weather is mild and not causing you problems. And I wish you all a peaceful holiday season filled with laughter and love.

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My Thoughts:

I loved this book. Ms. Roberts seamlessly weaves multiple characters’ lives and growth into a heartwarming holiday tale. I especially love the ugly-tree project. It’s got me looking at things differently. Muriel’s angst was spot-on, and Sienna and her son wrapped their lives around my heart. I’ve been a fan of Sheila Roberts for a long time and this story reminded me of the reason why. It’s a highly recommend from me.

What the story’s about (author blurb):

When Muriel Sterling released her new book, A Guide to Happy Holidays, she felt like the queen of Christmas. She’s thrilled when the new tree she ordered online arrives and is eager to show it off—until she gets it out of the box and realizes it’s a mangy dud. But rather than give up on the ugly tree, Muriel decides to make a project out of it. As she pretties up her tree, she realizes there’s a lesson to be learned: everything and everyone has potential. Maybe even her old friend Arnie, who’s loved her for years. Except, she’s not the only one seeing Arnie’s potential…

Meanwhile, Muriel’s ugly-tree project has also inspired her friends. Sienna Moreno is trying to bring out the best in the grouchy man next door, who hates noise, hates kids and hates his new neighbors. And while Olivia Claussen would love to send her obnoxious new daughter-in-law packing, she’s adjusting her attitude and trying to discover what her son sees in the girl. If these women can learn to see the beauty in the “ugly trees” in their lives, perhaps this might turn out to be the happiest holiday yet.

Click here for more information about Sheila.

Dewey the Cat

Dewey by Vicki Myron

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron (All ages, but there’s a circle of life aspect that parents should consider before reading with children.)

This was a book that I knew my husband would want to be part of, so I read this story out loud, one chapter at a time, my voice choking up at moments and one laugh or tear shed each evening. Dewey (as in “Dewey read more books”) grabbed hold of our hearts. It is a true story and is profound in its depiction that all earth’s inhabitants are sacred. I highly, highly recommend this story, but be sure to have a box of Kleenex handy.

 What the story’s about (author blurb):

Dewey’s story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility (for a cat), and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.

 

Click here for more information about Dewey.