IN A TOWN CALLED PARADOX by MIRIAM MURCUTT AND RICHARD STARKS

In a Town Called Paradox

“I wasn’t looking for Marilyn Monroe when I bumped into her, even though I knew she was in town filming River of No Return…”

So begins In a Town Called Paradox, which asks the question: If each of us has a life story, then who determines how it unfolds and how it should end?

Set in the mid 1950’s, in Utah. Around the time when Hollywood and Westerns were being filmed on location in old western towns or ones just built to look like an old town.

Corin Dunbar. After her mother died young, her father ships her off to her Aunt Jessie in Utah. On a cattle ranch with few cattle and a lot more projects than money.

Corin is angry that her father sent her away and has been letting that fester for a while now. Aunt Jessie seems very religious and has rules. Corin is the main person telling this story.

First she hates Utah. She hates her circumstances. Until Hollywood arrives putting money into the town and bringing all the hot stars to town. The studios are in love with the scenery so almost overnight Paradox becomes something of a Paradox.

She isn’t interested in being in the movies. Not a fan of the casting couch, she instead decides to save the ranch. As she falls in love with the area, she also is falling for a stranger. A man raised by missionary parents who wants to see the West. Throw in the mix an escaped Native American, put in jail for a crime he never committed and there is some excitement going on.

I enjoyed this book so much. It asked some very interesting questions and I admit I pondered on them a lot. Through tragedies and surprise announcements, this had everything from police corruption, the good old boy network, how little power women had in this time and the question.

Who does control my future choices? And everyone has an agenda.

Very Well Done!

NetGalley/ February 3rd, 2021 by Independent Book Publishers Association



The Sunday Potluck Club by Melissa Storm

The Sunday Potluck Club (The Sunday Potluck Club, #1)

A story of four friends bound by grief and loss. All putting their own lives on hold to care for a parent with cancer.

All four of them dealt with their grief differently and they agreed to allow each other that experience. Some throw themselves into mindless work giving them little time to deal with their grief. And of course, there are the ones who think they know how you should handle it.

This is the point in the story where I felt a connection. Having just lost my own mother a few weeks ago. I learned everyone does grieve not only for the lost parent but also for the life they had that can never be again.

And then it turned into the standard boy meets girl in a fender bender and lo and behold he has recently lost his wife. One falls in love with the oncology nurse. And they all live happily ever after.

I was hoping for more of the healing process and I just don’t think a man is an answer.

THEY CALLED ME WYATT by NATASHA TYNES

They Called Me Wyatt

Siwar Salaiha desperately wants to become a writer. The life she wants is not in Jordan. Against the wishes and advice of her family and friends, she applies and gets into a university in Maryland. Here she is free to write and date and not be gossiped about by the entire town.

She is a good girl, a smart girl. A girl afraid of heights who supposedly committed suicide on her 25th birthday by jumping off the roof of the restaurant.

At the same time she dies, a baby boy in Seattle is born. And somehow her consciousness is now sharing space with a baby. A baby that can’t talk, that can’t ask for help.

Years later that baby, Wyatt, is turning 25 and through a series of events is made aware of Siwars death and the coincidence of their birthdays. He is forced to acknowledge that there is someone else inside his head and that person wants answers about her death.

This was a good story. The characters were okay. The ending left me unfulfilled. There were quite a few grammatical errors that were pretty significant and I hope those have been addressed.

Good Story, not so great execution.

NetGalley/ June 11th 2019 by Rare Bird Books

 

 

 

THE LIBRARY of LOST and FOUND by Phaedra Patrick

The Library of Lost and Found

A librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime in the delightful new novel from the international bestselling author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper 

Martha Storm is a book lover and works at the library. Not in the position she wants, but she has come to terms with not getting what she wants. She is what I would call a doormat. Everyone uses her and she just lets them. 

She is also a bit depressed it seems. Her joy for life never found after the loss of her beloved best friend and grandmother. To this day she isn’t sure what happened to Zelda except her mother telling her she died.

And a lie is a lie until it isn’t. When the universe conspires to right the wrongs And that is what happens to mousey Martha. One day a book shows up on her doorstep and suddenly she isn’t sure if her grandmother is dead or not. In the book are all of the stories they made up and the date in the inscription doesn’t match what she knows of when her grandmother died.

For me this was when things got interesting. I was a little peeved at Martha for being such a little mouse but I am glad I stuck with her because it was a fun ride. I cried for her and her grandmother. A poignant and moving story of families and love.

So many secrets in a family just fester and darken over time and when Martha finds out all the truths, it is truly a beautiful thing to behold!


NetGalley/ March 26th 2019 by Park Row

 

THE WATER CURE by Sophie Mackintosh

The Water Cure  The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Virgin Suicides in this dystopic feminist revenge

Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia and Sky, kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.

Hypnotic and compulsive, The Water Cure is a fever dream, a blazing vision of suffering, sisterhood and transformation.

Three girls and their parents live alone on a supposed island. Taught that men are disease ridden things to be avoided at all costs.

There are drills, treatments and oh, yeah…they are all crazy as loons. We are left to figure out how they got there, why they are here and who knocked one of them up???

Honestly we are given no details. No questions were answered and you are left to interpret what is going on. And there is something going on and since I have no idea what, I’m going to say it was some type of cultish abuse going on.

But who knows. When I was finished I felt like I had wasted hours on an unfinished and unedited story. Told only from the viewpoints of the three sisters, I would have liked to hear from the parents. What happened to them and the outside world? Who knows. Not the reader.

Sorry but this one I will give a hard pass.

Netgalley/Doubleday Books    My paperwork says January 8, 2019

THE SISTERS by ROSALIND NOONAN

The Sisters

This was an emotional read from the beginning. My heart broke for Glory. Even though I felt she had other choices.

What made this even more heartbreaking is this is still happening today. There are quite a few sensitive subjects in this book but that’s life. The author has written a beautiful and deeply moving account of what family is.

I enjoyed the different points of view and I look forward to reading more from Noonan.

Well Done!’

Netgalley/ November 27th 2018 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

The Pisces

Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.

I can tell this will be a love or hate book. I wanted to like it, but it was just too sad. Lucy needs more than group therapy. She needs intensive work with mental health professionals and not a group of woman who believe they are addicted to love.

Lucy is close to 40 and really should know better. But she doesn’t. She is self-destructive and careless with other people’s lives. I don’t think there is much  humor in sex addictions or self harming. There was not a funny moment in this book. It just felt exploitive and very sad.

NetGalley/Hogarth May 1st, 2018

Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble

Friends and Other Liars: A Novel

To all my old friends:
So here you all are. Nice to see you can show up for a person once he’s dead.

When Ruby St. James returns to her hometown, it is to the grave of her old friend Danny, a member of a group that was, ten years ago, Ruby’s whole world. The crew made a pact back then: stay together, stay loyal, and stay honest. But that was before all of the lies.

Because even friends keep secrets. They just don’t stay secret for long.

Now Danny has left behind a letter for each of them, issuing one final ultimatum: share your darkest betrayal to the group, or risk it coming out in a trap he has created. When past mistakes resurface, the lines of friendship blur, and four old friends are left trying to understand what it means to lie to the ones you love best.

When Ruby left her small hometown for NYU, she never looked back. From New York to London and back to New York, for ten years she hasn’t spoken to her crew. Now one of them has committed suicide and she reluctantly comes home for the funeral.

Told from multiple points of view, and time, past and present, it is full of all of the angst of high school and teenagers who are now adults but sink right back into their old roles once they are together again.

Danny has left them each an envelope with a secret that they hold. They are to share them with the group or there will be consequences. All of them have something and while some of it is just petty, some are life changing.

They all come from pretty dysfunctional families, the only difference is to what degree of dysfunction. I really did not like Danny. He was a manipulative drug addict who should have taken responsibility for his own life. I mean come on this is ten years after high school. Why try to hurt so many people on the way out?

It wasn’t a pretty story, the people were raw and human and doing the best they could with what they knew.

All in all it was pretty depressing.

Netgalley/Sourcebooks  February 6th 2018

A Little Bit of Grace ( A Cypress Key Novel ) by Phoebe Fox

A Little Bit of Grace

Family is everything—Grace McAdams’s mom must have said it to her a thousand times before she died. Before Grace’s dad ran off with an aspiring actress half his age. Before only child Grace found out she was unable to have children of her own. Before Brian—her childhood best friend, business partner, and finally her husband—dropped a “bombshell” on her in the form of her stunning new replacement.

Which means Grace now has…nothing.

Until a letter from a woman claiming to be a relative Grace never knew she had sends her on a journey—from the childhood home she had to move back into (three doors down from the happy couple) to a tropical paradise island to meet a total stranger who claims to be family. And Grace starts to uncover answers about the eccentric woman her family never mentioned: an octogenarian who writes a viral relationship-advice blog, a compulsive (and highly successful) matchmaker…and the keeper of an unimaginable family secret held for more than fifty years.

A heartfelt, funny story about family and forgiveness, starting over when the happy ending ends, and handling it all with a little bit of grace.

I read this in one sitting it was so good. Grace made me laugh, cry, and even stomp my feet. Just when she was about to chuck it all and never leave her house again after temporarily losing her sanity and thoroughly embarrassed herself, she finds a postcard in the neglected stack of mail.

Someone from her mother’s past? A relative? The mystery could not have unraveled soon enough. Throwing a few things in a bag, she heads to Florida to meet this mysterious relative.

From Grace to Millie to Bridget to just about everyone in this book these were some of the best characters I’ve read in a long time. A wonderful beginning I hope to more.

This beautiful story about families, time, secrets and acceptance and who we really are when we are honest with ourselves. I loved every bit of this story. A very rarely given 5 Stars!

Netgalley/Henery Press     January 23,2018

The Ice House by Laura Lee Smith

The Ice House

From a writer who’s been praised for her “intelligence, heart, wit” (Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls), The Ice House follows the beleaguered MacKinnons as they weather the possible loss of the family business, a serious medical diagnosis, and the slings and arrows of familial discord.

Johnny MacKinnon might be on the verge of losing it all. The ice factory he married into, which he’s run for decades, is facing devastating OSHA fines following a mysterious accident and may have to close. The only hope for Johnny’s livelihood is that someone in the community saw something, but no one seems to be coming forward. He hasn’t spoken to his son Corran back in Scotland since Corran’s heroin addiction finally drove Johnny to the breaking point. And now, after a collapse on the factory floor, it appears Johnny may have a brain tumor. Johnny’s been ordered to take it easy, but in some ways, he thinks, what’s left to lose? This may be his last chance to bridge the gap with Corran–and to have any sort of relationship with the baby granddaughter he’s never met.

Witty and heartbreaking by turns, The Ice House is a vibrant portrait of multifaceted, exquisitely human characters that readers will not soon forget. It firmly establishes Laura Lee Smith as a gifted voice in American fiction

I have to admit there were a few times I put this one down. Although the story was a good one. With themes of family, forgiveness, second chances and more, the characters were real and flawed. To be honest the only one I cared about was Chemal.

There was a point in the story where all of the bad blood between father and son could have been mended with apologies, but Pauline never mentions it. No one was really talking to anyone on a deep level. And I can’t count how many words were a mile long and left one looking for a thesaurus!

For me these characters and the story were rather surface deep. But I will definitely try another of the authors works.

Netgalley/Grove Press   Dec. 05, 20017