Friday, July 21, 2017

My take on: The Bookshop at Water's End

I have said it before and I will say it again, books by Patti Callahan Henry are an automatic buy for me. Now, I didn't buy her latest, The Bookshop at Water's End, but...of course I said yes to a review copy!! Plus, the title attracted me. It sounded like a book about books, which is like music to my ears.

For lifelong friends, Bonny and Lainey, the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, is where they spent many happy summers -- earning them the nickname "the Summer Sisters." Whenever possible they escaped to the town bookstore, making a lifelong connection with the store's owner, Mimi. However, those idyllic summers didn't last. One day Lainey's mother abruptly left the family, abandoning her daughter and son, Owen. Lainey and her brother were never the same afterward. Lainey would spend the next several decades searching for the mother who didn't want to be found. Meanwhile Owen would spend his time globe-trotting and never setting down roots and never forming a lasting romantic relationship--much to Bonny's dismay.

Ever since she was a young girl, Bonny has always been in love with Owen. But they've never been in-sync. Owen comes in and out of Bonny's life, constantly afraid of commitment. Bonny's heart could no longer take it, she had to move on. But moving on came at a price. Marrying Lucas, a prominent lawyer, brought joy and pain. Their daughter, Piper, brought the joy. But Lucas' constant criticism and disdain for Bonny's career as a doctor brought the pain. Now in her fifties, a deadly mistake forces Bonny to take a hard look at her life. What does she want for her career? Her marriage is over, does this mean it's time to face her feelings for Owen? The answers don't come easy. The only thing Bonny knows for sure is that she needs to get away, and she needs her best friend.

After decades spent away from Watersend, Bonny and Lainey go back to the place of their many happy memories. This time their children are in tow, with the now teenage Piper looking after Lainey's children, Daisy and George. Piper doesn't see the point of toiling away in a small town for the summer. But even Piper has issues that she needs to confront. She's failing at college and her boyfriend has left her. Like her mother, Piper isn't sure what she wants out of life. The only thing Piper is sure of? Her love of books. Like Bonny and Lainey did when they were younger, Piper finds solace reading a book at Mimi's shop.

I do have to say the title of this book is a little bit misleading. I thought everyone's love of books would play a larger role. But the book angle was more of a backdrop, than a dominant theme. Little issues aside, what works here is Patti Callahan Henry's talent for creating relatable characters. Everyone can relate to the highs and lows that come with marriage, friendship, family, and love.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Berkley) in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My take on: Like a Fly on the Wall

For a while I was staring at a blank screen. I wasn't sure how to describe Like a Fly on the Wall by Simone Kelly. It's a book with a lot of different themes: romance, suspense, family drama, and mysticism. In my opinion, there isn't really a plot. I don't say that as a bad thing. The lack of a traditional plot works here and let me tell you why!

The characters and how they interact are what make this book work. Jacques Berradi is a good-looking and intelligent man--with a unique talent. Ever since he was young, Jacques could communicate with spirits/spirit guides, which help him see the future. His robust list of clients pay him to guide them down the right path to personal and professional success. But despite his professional achievements, Jacques' mother refuses to believe in her son's connection to the spirit world. To her, it's just a bunch of nonsense. Ever since his father died, under suspicious circumstances, Jacques has been trying to convince his mother that his father speaks to him. However, she refuses to believe in Jacques' gift, instead she chooses to ignore it. On the flip side Jacques' brother, Hicham, believes in his older brother. While Jacques is the calming influence on the family, Hicham is like a hurricane. He hops from girlfriend to girlfriend. His moods change from minute to minute. As a character, Hicham was exhausting. I would hate to have a sibling like that!

In Jacques' professional endeavors, he meets all kinds of clients. The beautiful and bubbly Kylie Collins is a client like no other. While Jacques has a girlfriend, named Vicky, he is instantly drawn to Kylie. There's an instant emotional connection between them. Early on in the book, it seemed like Kylie and Jacques were headed toward a romantic relationship. But (spoiler alert) that doesn't happen and I'm sooo glad. I think that would have been a big mistake. Kylie and Jacques have way more chemistry as friends than as lovers. Jacques helps Kylie get to the root of her mother, True's, secrets and to find her purpose in life. Kylie helps Jacques get to the root of his family's secrets. Making them more than friends would have cheapened the overall book. Romance just for the sake of romance doesn't make for a good story.

For a debut novel, this was pretty good. Some of the storylines were left unfinished, I think that's because this is clearly the first book in a series. There's more to come. I definitely want to know what happens to Jacques and Kylie in the next book.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (William Morrow) as part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours.