Last Night with the Duke: A Review


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The latest giveaway book this pedometer geek read was an autographed copy of a book received  through a Shelf Awareness Book Buzz giveaway directly from the author, Amelia Grey. Last Night with the Duke is a historical romance, and this is the extended review.

Last Night with the Duke

by Amelia Grey

Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-10249-2

This romance is the first in a series of stories called The Rakes of  St. James; there are a couple more planned. The premise behind this series is that three friends, all dukes, wrecked havoc upon the ton or Polite Society (yes, that is the term used throughout the novel) with pranks involving an ill-fated wager, which ruined the reputations of quite a few young women, several years earlier.

Although time has passed, the memories of those affected have not forgotten these pranksters, and it is about to affect two more young ladies especially as the scandal is being resurrected through the gossip rag, Miss Honora Truth’s Weekly Scandal Sheet as the novel opens on this historical (or regency) romance.

Basically, the romance is between a duke and a governess, who is really the grand-daughter of a viscount. From the moment Benedict Mercer, the Duke of Griffin, overhears Esmeralda Swift counsel one of her employees, he is intrigued. He needs to hire a chaperone for Lady Vera’s and Lady Sara’s, his twin sisters, debut Season, and he decides she is perfect for the job.

Esmeralda, for her part, doesn’t want to have anything to do with Polite Society or dealing with Griffin (or his sisters). Having had her mother disowned for a marrying the wrong man (a common poet, can you imagine?) and leaving the family to survive on their own, she throws up every possible roadblock to her employment. Eventually, after his agreement to all of her demands (her younger sister Josephine and dog Napoleon to be included), she reluctantly relents despite the fact he is considered to be one of the Rakes of St. James.

From their first interaction onward, sparks ignite between the two. Each one knows the etiquette of class, but obvious chemistry simmers throughout: heated gazes, feisty interchanges, and slow sensual scenes. Neither wants to cross the line society has imposed, but will they finally admit their true feelings for each other?

A bit slow to start, the romance does a slow burn until it reaches an inferno. While not full of graphic scenes, this romance is still spicy with the ratcheting sexual tension of two people who want to be together, but can’t and won’t because of societal mores. This makes for a satisfying read.

Loved the chapter headings of quotes from Miss Mamie Fortescue’s Do’s and Don’ts for Chaperones, Governesses, Tutors, and Nurses (the manual of the business that Esmeralda Swift manages). Not only is any particular one appropriate to the chapter itself, but people would be wise to follow many of its tenets. Several examples:

“Do choose your words carefully. You never know when they might be said back to you.” (p. 58)

“Don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong.” (p. 266)

“Don’t think that you will never be wrong. You will be.” (p. 273)

The secondary characters are as interesting as the principle characters of Griffin and Esmeralda. The identical twins, Lady Vera and Lady Sara, have distinct personalities of their own, and Josephine is a charmer. Napoleon, the dog, plays his part as well.

Per usual, there are several What-the-tuck trends seen like characters with green eyes (Josephine for example), and one of the newer trends recognized by this reader: the title being that of duke as the principal male character; earls and viscounts having obviously gone out of fashion, or aren’t as high up in society. Yet, it is not a cookie-cutter romance; the author introduces some distinct differences. One particularly humorous (to this reader at least) difference was the fact that the duke hated and complained extensively that the chaperone always chose to wear gray dresses and gowns. Eventually, he made sure there was some more colorful gowns for her to wear.

This was the first of this author’s novels read by this pedometer geek; however, this reader doesn’t plan on stopping with one. Planning on reading more of this author’s works, particularly the others in the series. The next one is entitled To the Duke, With Love, and its expected publication date is in December.

In this reader’s opinion, the title didn’t seem to reflect the story too well; not sure what it should have been, but it just didn’t seem to fit. Maybe it is the WTT Duke thing.




The Second First Time: A Review


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The latest First Reads Goodreads giveaway this pedometer geek read was a Kindle  edition of Elisa Lorello’s The Second First Time. Recently Goodreads has added this option to their giveaways, but I digress. Although this was an e-book, it is available as a book as well. This author has several other novels to her name, but this is the first of hers that this pedometer geek has read. This is the extended review.

The Second First Time

by Elisa Lorello

Published by Lake Union Publishing, 2016

a division of Amazon Publishing

ISBN: 978-1503941243

Lorello’s novel is a contemporary romance that is all about finding home, and finding the person that makes you feel that you are home. As the synopsis of the novel indicates this pair of novelists, Sage Merriweather and Jonathan Moss, should be a perfect match. They share the same publisher, have become best friends, and have mutual respect for each other. They may even have deeper feelings for each other so they plan a cross-country trip together to explore possibilities of taking things further. That is, until Jon bails out at the last moment, leaving Sage devastated.

As the book opens, it’s a year later, and Sage is finally beginning to heal from his Dear Jane letter. The story is told through Sage’s perspective, and the reader is treated to both her inner dialog as well as the action going on between characters. Her writing of romances allows her to create stories of happily-ever-after loves rather than abandonment.

For Sage, home has always been Long Island with her mother and sister Gaia, especially after her (now estranged) dad divorced her mother and abandoned his daughters. So when she finds out about his death and upcoming memorial service, she still calls the man who broke her heart…the man who was her best friend, the man with whom she had decided to go on a cross-country road trip a year ago…until he bailed out on her with a devastating letter.
Jon suggests they give the trip another try, their relationship another try as well as offering to go to the memorial service with her. This is a second first time for both, but can they forge a relationship, can they forge a love when one is still reeling from the hurt? And even if the trip is successful, and with them living on separate coasts, can they find where “home” truly is?

This contemporary romance is about letting go of hurts, finding that best friends can also be in love, that sometimes less is more, and home is where the heart is. Writers Jon and Sage deepen their friendship and love on a road trip fraught with emotional potholes.
The romance does not have graphic sex scenes,  but it’s definitely a story similar to the kind she is described as writing. (Does life imitate art, or just the reverse?)

Both main characters are fleshed out. Both Sage and Jon seem realistic; they are not so exotic and rich as to be unbelievable, which is part of the charm of the story. Their experiences on the road trip as they go through awkward moments are both funny and poignant.

There are some minor typos in the text, but not enough to make it irritating. The story is not full of  What-the-tuck trends, which is refreshing. The book was a pleasant surprise, and makes this reader want to read more by the author.

A few quotes of note:

” There’s always a defining moment in your life where, if you had to do it over, you’d go back and change the trajectory.” (3%, beginning of Chapter 2)

“As with so many things, the day the depth of one’s desire surpasses the depth of one’s fear one’s life is always when one’s life changes for the better.” (66%, Chapter 16)




The Bookshop on the Corner: A Review


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The latest First Reads Goodreads giveaway book that this pedometer geek read was Jenny Colgan’s novel, The Bookshop on the Corner. It was originally published in the United Kingdom by Little, Brown Book Group under the title of The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After. Personally, this reader prefers the original UK title as it seems to represent the book better, but then perhaps, it wouldn’t have been read at all by me. Regardless, this was the first novel of hers this pedometer geek has read, but it probably won’t be the last. Fortunately, Colgan is the author of over sixteen titles. Here is the extended review.

The Bookshop on the Corner

by Jenny Colgan

Published by William Morrow, 2016

an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 978-0-06-246725-6

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” –Voltaire

This is the epigraph at the beginning of this novel. It definitely seems fitting as the protagonist becomes a bookseller, but that is getting ahead of the story.

As the blurb states: “Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion…and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.”

Nina, an out-of-work librarian, reinvents herself when the library she works for downsizes. She loves books and finding the right book for each person, and she pairs this talent into a mobile bookshop after she buys a van and stocks it with nearly new copies of books from libraries which are closing down.
In the process she moves to a hamlet in Scotland and travels to all the little villages in the area, plying her special book magic. Books are bought; people’s lives are transformed; and happy-ever-after do happen for her patrons. But will Nina find her happy-ever-after?

This is a feel good book that celebrates book lovers and the books that make an impact. Some real books are mentioned as well as some fake titles like Up on the Rooftops. This reader has to admit that this children’s book seemed like an awesome story, and in fact, was disappointed to find that it wasn’t available. Alas…

Characters are multi-faceted and realistic, and some were even a bit quirky. The two love interests of Nina were not the usual run of the mill males. Ainslee, her teenage helper, was a particular favorite. There are enough adventures that keep the story fresh and interesting, making this a magical read.

Here are a few quotes from the book that I found both interesting and philosophical.
“If you thought of all the tiny things that divert your path one way or another, some good, some bad, you’d never do anything ever again.” (page 27)
“Just do something. You might make a mistake, then you can fix it. But if you do nothing, you can’t fix anything. And your life might turn out to be full of regrets.” (page 40)
“There was a universe inside every human being every bit as big as the universe outside them.” (page 235)

Oh yeah, in regards to how fitting the epigraph is: obviously there are books galore, but there are a few dances as well.


Public Library and Other Stories: A Review


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The latest First Reads Goodreads giveaway book this pedometer geek read was Ali Smith’s Public Library and Other Stories. She has many other books to her name, but this is the first book of hers that I have read. Because she is a British author, that may be why I was unfamiliar with her body of work, many of which have nominated for various literary awards such as the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize. Her most recent novel, How to be both, was a Man Booker Prize finalist and winner of the Bailey Women’s Prize, the Goldsmith Prize, the Costa Novel Award, and the Saltire Literary Book of the Year Award. Here is the extended review of Public Library and Other Stories.

Public Library and Other Stories

By Ali Smith

Published by Anchor Books, 2016

a division of Penguin Random House LLC

(Originally published in Great Britain

by Hamish Hamilton, a Penguin Random House company, 2015)

ISBN: 978-1-101097304-2

As the blurb on the back cover states: “The stories in Ali Smith’s new collection are about what we do with books and what they do to us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser, and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make.”

“Woven between the stories are conversations with writers and readers reflecting on the essential role that libraries have played in their lives.”

Alternating the author’s thirteen short stories with various people’s perceptions of the power of libraries to change their lives, this collection showcases the essential nature of libraries, especially in a time of funding cuts and closures.

Although most of the libraries mentioned are British, the same is true for libraries everywhere. Libraries provides more than just books. As Sophie Mayer indicated: “…the public library is the ideal model of society, the best possible shared space, a community of consent…where each person is pursuing their own aim (education, entertainment, affect, rest) with respect to others, through the best possible medium of the transmission of ideas, feelings, and knowledge: the book.” (page 75)

The short stories are varied. Some appealed to this reader more than others, but all were  literary in nature and worthy of being read. The story of the Traveling Etymologies (about the meanings of certain words and how they came about) called “Last” was a particular favorite; as were “The Ex-Wife,” “The Human Claim,” and “The Beholder.”

Wedged between the short stories were recollections of libraries past and present. Those snippets of conversation about libraries and their effect upon the people who contributed were some of the most compelling aspects of the book. I must admit that I probably gave some of Smith’s stories short shrift to get to these interludes, and I probably need to re-read the stories just to savor her words.

Quotes of note: “I believe that within every library is a door that opens to every other library in time and space: that door is a book.” (page 75)

“…that the important thing about the notion of a public library is that’s it’s the one place you can just turn up to, a free space, a democratic space where anyone can go and be there with other people, and you don’t need money-…And you can just go. It’s somewhere you can just be.” (page 58)

As a voracious reader, I can state that I come from a state known for its libraries (and library usage). It may be due to the fact that the state has a clause in its constitution mandating a percentage of its General Fund to be used to help fund its libraries. Regardless of why the state is known for its libraries, large and small, I have a love for my library, spending a good deal of my time there (both volunteering and perusing the shelves for my next read). I have had held library cards from all of the municipalities in which I have resided over the years. I have possessed at least six different library cards and have used more libraries than I have had cards. I have served on levy committees to help my local library; I am a member of the local Friends organization of the library. To me, libraries are a treasure trove of  wealth that cannot be measured. In other words, libraries rock, and I can’t imagine my life without my library. They are essential (and with an upcoming levy on the ballot, this reader, now donning a campaign hat, says, “Vote YES! Support your library!” but I digress).

Overall, the book is a literary smorgasbord of stories about books, words, and literary figures. There is a story for everyone, and its message of the power of libraries resonates through every page.






Cooking for Picasso: A Review


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The latest First Reads Goodreads giveaway novel this pedometer geek read was Camille Aubray’s Cooking for Picasso. This is Aubray’s debut novel although according to her bio, she has writing credentials for various television shows like “One Life to Live” and “Capitol” as well as writing and producing for ABC news, PBS, and A&E. She has also taught writing at New York University. This is the extended review.

Cooking for Picasso

by Camille Aubray

Published by Ballantine Books,

an imprint of Random House,

a division of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17765-1

Cooking for Picasso is a novel that is inspired by a little-known interval in the artist’s life. As the copyright page indicates, it is a work of historical fiction, using well-known historical and public figures. All incidents and dialogue are products of the author’s imagination and not to be construed as real. Where real-life historical or public figures appear, the situations, incidents, and dialogues concerning those persons are entirely fictional and aren’t intended to change the fictional nature of the story. Despite the fictional nature of the story, it is a story that seems all too plausible and as such, it was a delight to read.

This pedometer geek reader is not a gourmet cook, unfortunately, because this review just calls for all kinds of adjectives that refers to cooking; however, having said that, this is a story of cooking, art, and love told through the past as well as the present. Divided into the past and present, the narrative follows three generations of women who are connected to the artist Picasso.

1936–In a small village in southern France, a seventeen-year-old girl is recruited by her parents to cook and then deliver lunch daily to a new patron, a mysterious man by the name of Ruiz. Bicycling up one of the steep hills of Juan-les-Pins, Ondine finally meets the man, Picasso, who is hiding out from everyone. Over time, she meets Matisse and Cocteau, but through her daily association with Picasso, she ends up modeling (and a bit more) for him.

2014–Celine, Ondine’s granddaughter, has heard stories from her mother Julie about her grandmother all her life. When Celine turns thirty, her mother tells her about the relationship between Ondine, Picasso, and a mysterious painting. With her mother in a nursing home following a stroke, Celine travels to France in her mother’s place with her aunt for a cooking class, and to search for this painting, that is, if it really exists.

This is just a well-constructed story that brings three generations of women together in a story that is connected to an enigmatic artist and his art. Added to that, there are French cuisine references throughout (just reading the story, I think a few pounds were added to this reader’s waistline), and lovely impressionistic pictures of southern France were painted. The suspense builds throughout as to the veracity of a narrator who may or may not be reliable as regards to this painting.

Overall, the novel is recommended for anyone who has interest in gourmet cooking, art, and love, for ultimately it is a love story written in a historical context of the missing years of Picasso. Could it be that a chance encounter with a young woman was enough to spark a new period for this artist? This novel answers this question, and a bit more.

Quotes to remember/consider:

“Yes, we cook and eat things that were once alive–be they vegetables or animals–in order to stoke the fire of life in us; but in return, we must keep our end of the bargain, which is to handle them humanely with great respect; and when it’s our turn to die, we should do so gracefully and willingly, so that we, too, feed the fiery furnace of the earth’s future plants and creatures.” (p. 267)

Leaving Lucy Pear: A Review


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The latest Advanced Reader Copy (actually an uncorrected proof obtained through a First Reads Goodreads giveaway, but I digress), this pedometer geek reader read was Anna Solomon’s Leaving Lucy Pear. This is her second novel; her debut novel is The Little Bride. This is the extended review.

Leaving Lucy Pear

by Anna Solomon

Published by Viking Books, 2016

a division of Penguin Random House

ISBN: 978-1-594-63265-5

As the novel opens, a wealthy young woman, destined to go to Radcliffe as a gifted pianist, finds herself pregnant out of wedlock in 1917. Leaving the newborn underneath one of her uncle’s pear trees the night the “pear-stealers” usually appear, Beatrice (Bea) Haven hopes one of the families will claim the child as their own. She waits and watches as Emma Murphy finds the baby and rescues her, making her part of her own family.

Ten years later, the two women meet and are brought together once again through a series of coincidences. Each of the women has personal secrets to protect, but the biggest one is when Emma realizes that this woman, Bea (now) Cohn, is Lucy Pear’s biological mother. Does Beatrice know about her, and if she does, what will happen?

Set in Massachusetts during the time of Prohibition, women’s suffrage, and post-World War I, this is a novel of families and unfulfilled dreams. This is also a time of rampant xenophobia, worker’s struggles, and class distinctions (reminding this reader of what is going on even today).

The novel is literary in nature; it is a bit slow to start, and keeping track of all the characters and their relationships is, at times, difficult. After what was a story that was revealed slowly, the ending almost seemed rushed, and it took this reader a few re-reads of the last several chapters to understand all the little nuances of the story.

The title character, Lucy Pear, is a ten-year-old cross-dressing girl, who is bright and bold, doing whatever jobs she can to escape a father who is cruel. Finally, discovering her birth mother has a heart-wrenching effect upon Lucy and the whole Murphy clan, and once again, the title comes into play.

Overall, this is a story of motherhood and the sacrifices that women make for love. The author looks at fundamental relationships, that is between mothers, children, and lovers, and how they all intertwine in subtle ways.




The Santangelos: A Review


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The latest First Reads Goodreads giveaway book this pedometer geek read was the last novel Jackie Collins wrote before her death in 2015. The Santangelos finishes up the Lucky Santangelo series, which began with Chances, written in 1981. This is the extended review.

The Santangelos

by Jackie Collins

Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04824-0


This reader has read a few of Jackie Collins’ novels over the years so was not surprised as to what to expect. For those who haven’t read any of her novels, the following two quotes just about sum up her writing. Quoting from Sally Richardson, president and publisher, St. Martin’s Press, “She was an innovator whose creativity, fearlessness and wicked sense of humor entertained millions of readers around the globe. She took great pride in writing ‘kickass heroines’ who took readers on a wild ride. We were thrilled and honored to go on that journey with Jackie. I speak for myself and everyone at St. Martins’ Press when I say we will miss her beyond measure.”

From fellow writer, Barbara Taylor Bradford: “Jackie to me was the best writer of those risque, amusing, fun novels–full of Hollywood characters and lots of sex.” (both quotes from the inside cover pages)

The tenth book in the Lucky Santangelo series finds Lucky primarily dealing with the unexpected death of her father, Gino, while trying to orchestrate all the other people in her life. To be honest, this reader has not read any of the others in the series; thus it could have been difficult to understand all the dynamics between various family members and friends. Yet there are enough back story references to catch up even this novice to Lucky’s and her extended family’s previous exploits. In other words, this can be read without having read the previous nine although it is probably an advantage to having read the rest as many of the events and relationships were hinted at, rather than totally revealed.

Having read other of this author’s novels, this reader knew that it would be spicy with lots of racy, raunchy moments between characters. Moreover, there would be some unseemly characters playing fast and loose with the law (and each other). In other words, the tale is full of sex, drugs, and Hollywood. Collins writes what she knows, and she understands pop culture.

This one has a huge cast of characters with lots of interactions between the main players. There is vengeance planned; revenge sought; as well as back-stabbing and betrayal. At the heart of it all is one woman, Lucky, trying to keep her family safe and together despite children living far beyond Las Vegas and Malibu. While Lucky is the mover and shaker of this story, there are other side stories that are just as compelling, just as gripping, just as spicy.

No, the story is not a classic, nor will it ever be, but it is just perfect for a great gossipy beach read.

This reader will be checking out the earlier books in the series just to catch up with every little juicy detail missed by only having read the last one. Or as OK! Magazine said, “An epic family saga filled with love, lust, murder, and revenge…deliciously true to form.”

Quote to remember (especially in these uncertain times):

“Violent death never gives you a warning, it simply takes you–just like that.” (page 170)

Be Frank with Me: A Review


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This pedometer geek reader just finished reading another novel received through a First Reads Goodreads giveaway. This Advanced Reader Copy was Be Frank with Me, the debut novel of Julia Claiborne Johnson. This is the extended review.

Be Frank With Me

by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Published by William Morrow,

an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-241372-7

As a reader, it is always a bit exciting as well as somewhat scary reading a debut novel. Will it be good or not? Will this be the beginning of a long association of reading this author’s works, or will it be the only one ever read? Having said that, this is part of the ‘does art imitate life?’ reading of Julia Claiborne Johnson’s novel. The story revolves around an author with a debut novel, who never writes another thing. This reader hopes that this is not true for the self-proclaimed “late bloomer” Johnson, who wrote this novel in her fifties despite a career writing for Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines. This was prior to her deciding to write a novel. This reader loved this story and is now looking forward to reading more by her. (This reader also reads the extras in the back so that is how I discovered all this, but I digress.)

As the story begins, it is revealed that a reclusive writer, M.M. Banning (Mimi), has penned one stellar, prize-winning classic novel named Pitched  at age nineteen before hiding herself away from fanatic fans, ironically, in a glass mansion in Bel Air. (Think: Harper Lee, perhaps…or at least, that was this reader’s first thought). Now, years later, after being swindled out of her money in a Ponzi scheme, she must write another novel for money. Any novel will do; she just needs to write one.

Enter Alice Whitley, a young editorial assistant. Sent by Mimi’s personal editor, Mr. Vargas, ostensibly to help Mimi with the novel, Alice really becomes a companion to Mimi’s formerly unknown nine-year-old son, Frank.

Frank is an atypical lad…a devotee of films, a snappy dresser with a wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and an intellectual giant (Think: Sheldon Cooper of’ The Big Bang Theory). He does not, though, have an easy time of being a fourth grader. As Alice learns when she first meets Mimi and Frank, there are two rules to understanding Frank. Rule One: No touching Frank’s things. Rule Two: No touching Frank.

Thus begins the education and relationship between Frank and Alice. When the rules are followed, things flow relatively well; when they don’t, mayhem often ensues. Dealing with Mimi and the skittish handyman Xander all add to the depth of the story.

This is a charming debut novel about a unique child and his companion Alice, all told through her perspective, often as communication with Mr. Vargas. There are laugh out loud moments; there are poignant silences; there are double entendre moments (including what this reader thought of the title). And lots of jokes that fall flat (knock, knock), and dialog that doesn’t. Frank is adorable and lovable, and the story is a joy to read.  Like Frank’s clothing, there are lots of classic movie references, too. Definitely, this story is not a cliche; it is refreshing, and this reader not only loved Frank, but the story itself. So much so, that it will be suggested as a read for my library book group for 2018.

Quotes to remember:

“Nothing,” he said. “Nada. Bupkis. Diddly. Zip. Zero. Zilch—”

“There are a lot of words for nothingness,” Frank said. “Love means nothing.”

“That’s not true.”

“Yes it is. In tennis.” (page 83)





Family Tree: A Review


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The latest Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) this pedometer geek reader completed was Susan Wiggs’ Family Tree. This is not the first of her novels this reader has read. From some of her historical novels (At the King’s Command, The Horsemaster’s Daughter) to some of her contemporary novels (Summer at Willow Lake, Lakeside Cottage), this reader has enjoyed reading this author’s works (about ten in all so far and a few sitting on my shelves still to be read, but I digress). Because of this, this reader was excited and pleased to find out that a copy of  Family Tree through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program was coming. This is the extended review.

Family Tree

by Susan Wiggs

Published by William Morrow

an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-242543-0

Having indicated that this reader enjoys the novels of Wiggs, it should come as no surprise that this one was thoroughly enjoyed. Among the novels of hers already read, this may be the favorite of all of them.

The key ingredient to this novel is Wiggs’ fresh characters (read: not cookie cutter). Added to this are family, friends, love, and new beginnings. It’s a thoroughly engaging, contemporary novel that starts from the moment that Annie realizes she is pregnant until the end. It’s an emotional read of love, lost and found, of dreams, lost and found, and families, lost and found, and of relationships, loved, lost, and rediscovered.

Annie Rush Harlow has it all: a handsome husband, a successful career she loves, a beautiful home in Los Angeles, and a baby on the way, that is, until it all comes crashing down in a moment. An accident brings her back to the family fold in Switchback, Vermont, and she will have to battle back with everything she has to put her life back together.

The tale, told in a Now/Then format, can be heart-wrenching as the reader roots for Annie Rush Harlow and Fletcher Wyndham, the seemingly star-crossed lovers. Timing is everything, and they just don’t seem to have it. Life’s events, both big and small, consistently get in the way.

As the title suggests, family is key. Annie’s relationship with her Gran; Annie’s relationship with her parents; Fletcher’s relationship with his father, are but a few of the more powerful relationships that drive the action.

Wiggs infuses humor into the story, too. One particular line that demonstrates it is as follows:

“Squeeze that cheesecloth like it’s your ex-husband’s. . . wallet.” (said to a group of divorced women, p. 332).

She also points out, through Annie, poor grammar on the part of another character, Melissa. The passage is as follows:

“What if the team was you and I?”

“Me,” said Annie automatically.


“You and me, not you and I. It’s an indirect object.” She realized Melissa was not getting it. (p. 340)

As a grammar geek, this particular passage just struck me as absolutely perfect.
As far as this reader is concerned, Annie’s and Fletcher’s story is one of this author’s best contemporary novels. There are enough twists and turns to make it interesting, and there are few, if any, What-the-tuck trends seen. The tale is both heartbreaking and heartwarming as Annie struggles to make peace with her past and take control of her future. Having read quite a few of her other novels in the past, this reader can definitely make this claim. On the other hand, there are quite a few of hers this reader still plans on reading.

For those who like women’s fiction or for those who have never experienced Susan Wiggs’ writing, consider starting with this one.



Beyond the Rising Tide: Review


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A copy of Beyond the Rising Tide by Sarah Beard was the latest First Reads Goodreads giveaway novel this pedometer geek read. It is one of two novels written by Beard; the other is Porcelain Keys, and both are considered Young Adult (YA) novels. This reader was privileged to receive an autographed copy, but that in no way affected this extended review.

Beyond the Rising Tide

by Sarah Beard

Published by Sweetwater Books, 2016

an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc,

ISBN: 978-1-4621-1784-8

This the first of Beard’s novels this pedometer geek read, and it is classified as a YA romance. For this reader, what’s not to like? It is a story of young love and the recklessness of youth.

Actually, this YA romance is not a typical run-of-the-mill romance because the romance is one that is full of angst as well as spirituality. Told from the alternative perspectives of the two main characters, Avery Ambrose and Kai Turner, the story tells of their first meeting when Kai saves Avery from drowning with his death as a result.

Now, Kai has the role of a healer in Demoror, one of three realms in the afterlife. Through this role, he observes Avery’s continuing difficulty with his death six months earlier, and how it has changed her. He only wants to help her to rediscover her sense of self and have her return to her formerly vivacious life. Even in life, Kai was always a rebellious soul, pushing the boundaries, and it is no different now. He breaks the rules of his position, thus finding a way to have a body for a short period of time. Time enough to meet Avery for real and form a deep relationship with her.

Avery, for her part, has become depressed over the loss of the boy who saved her life. She dwells on it, looking for any clue as to who he was, and thus barely functioning in her daily life. Once a daredevil, now she avoids all the things she once enjoyed, particularly surfing. She avoids going into the water altogether, and in so doing, has had her boyfriend Tyler dump her.

It is only after Kai “meets” Avery (again) for the first time that Avery begins to change, to accept, to love again. Unfortunately, Avery and Kai have only a few days together as he has been caught breaking the rules by his mentor, Charles. In those few days Kai must help Avery to heal, to become whole again, but will that be enough time? Can Kai save Avery without losing her forever? Will they ever be together again? Is it possible to be dangerously happy (to understand this the book must be read)? Moreover, how can the pair have a happily ever after?


Overall, this story is a refreshingly clean teenage romance (no graphic language or sex) with deeper issues at its core. The author doesn’t shy away from talking about depression, loss, death, or other spiritual matters. Not only that, but this reader was surprised by the ending.

Yes, there were a few What-the-Tuck trends seen throughout the novel…some hair tucking, green eyes (okay blue-green eyes), but nothing totally outrageous. The book was well edited, too, with few typos…one exception, which this reader actually found funny, was the use of repel for the word rappel (as in the character rappelling down the cliff face).  One of the more interesting facets (to me, at least) was that each of the two characters had unique identifiers, which followed the ocean wave theme, at the beginning of each chapter to identify from which perspective the story was being told.

This reader hopes to read the author’s other work, Porcelain Keys. Moreover, it is hoped that there will be other stories by Beard in the future.