Author: Cath Crowley
Published: June 6, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
Description from Amazon:
Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came. Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
Well that certainly was a doozy of an emotional roller coaster! I don’t think I’ve cried like that during a book since Wonder! And it started from the very first page. Rachel exudes a hopelessness that I have never experienced in my life. Her brother died very suddenly in the place that they both felt confident and comfortable, the ocean. So now that she both hates and loves her home by the sea, she decides to move back to her hometown to live with her aunt to hopefully get through her grief. Even aside from Cal’s death, the boy that she confessed her love for through a letter, completely ignored her and stayed with someone else. I was sad while reading all this! It actually put me in a weepy mood!
Henry, unfortunately started out as an annoying teenager who thinks he actually knows what love is and that his whole world has ended because his high school girlfriend dumped him yet again. That is the only reason I gave this book 4 stars. His insistence that Amy is absolutely his soulmate while she claims that she loves him, but also loves someone else, got really irritating really fast!
What I loved about this book was the appreciation of secondhand books and bookstores! Being able to find the lives and memories of others in the pages of used books is such a beautiful thought and Crowley captures it perfectly! Watching Rachel work through her grief in the midst of the memories from so many people brought tears to my eyes. George, Henry’s sister, is the one who tore my heart out of my chest and stomped on it! I can’t give much more detail without giving away the ending of the story, but I had tears coursing down my cheeks because of the regret and love that George has to live with. I wish I could put into words all the things that I felt while reading this book! Overall, this was a quick read, but an emotional one. There is some language and some adult themes, but definitely ok for older teens. I would recommend this to book to anyone who has lost someone, or wants a beautiful story of love, or just wants an interesting read.
Author: Ellen Marie Wiseman
Published: July 25, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
Description from Amazon:
On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time—and sold to the circus sideshow. More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl. At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last. Moving between Julia and Lilly’s stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.
I really liked this book! It was the perfect historical fiction and the author did an amazing job of switching between the two characters in two different time periods. I became emotionally invested in the life of Lilly. I sympathized with her from the very beginning of the book. I really believed that Lilly’s mother was going to take her to see the circus, but I was horrified when she sold Lilly to the freak show. That was the one thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars. I have a hard time believing that anyone, even a religious nut (believe me, I’ve known my fair share of those!), would consider albinism to be an abomination. It wasn’t even like Lilly had strange, pink eyes. She had blue eyes and pale hair and skin . . . why so dramatic about it, Mother???
Other than that, I loved the circus setting, the elephants, and the other acts. Each of the ‘freaks’ were portrayed with respect and with acknowledgement of their humanity. I won’t give you any details, but prepare to have your heart ripped out of your chest and stomped on! Trust me, you’re gonna want to have some tissues nearby! I was a little hesitant about Julia at first. To me she sounded like a typical rebellious teenager who refused to learn from anyone and thought she was always right about everything. Thankfully, that didn’t last. By the time I had gotten through a couple of her chapters, I was sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting and willing her to discover the truth. There was a slight air of tree-huggerish, bleeding heart-ism, but it wasn’t bad and it stayed pretty reasonable. And the author gets the suspense factor perfectly! I couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out what happened next. By the time I reached the end, all I could think was that this book was better than Water for Elephants, and I really enjoyed that book! I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good historical fiction, or even a mystery.
Author: Karen Katchur
Published: April 4, 2017
321 pages in Hardback
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 5-16, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Book Description from Amazon:
A sisters’ secret.
A mysterious phenomenon.
A murder that ties it all together.
An emotional, suspenseful novel about the bond between sisters and the secrets we hold to keep our family safe, The Sisters of Blue Mountain by Karen Katchur is a thrilling mystery that hurtles towards an unexpected ending that will leave readers speechless.
The small town of Mountain Springs, Pennsylvania thrives on the snow geese migration. Each year, the birds flock to the dam, and the tourists follow, filling up Linnet’s Bed and Breakfast.
But one morning Linnet wakes up to discover hundreds of dead geese by the B&B and her life is thrown into the media frenzy when her father—a former ornithology professor—is asked to study the case. As the tourists cancel their plans and Linnet’s father’s health grows increasingly worse, the last thing she expects is to see her estranged sister, Myna, on her doorstep.
Myna has never stayed in one place for long after running from Mountain Springs. Although she and Linnet were close growing up, a family secret broke their bond, and Myna’s return has brought back memories both sisters have tried to keep buried.
When a reporter arrives in town who may have a connection to the sisters’ past, Linnet and Myna are forced to confront the event that tore them apart. But when a young professor who was assisting their father on the case turns up dead—and their father becomes the primary suspect—Linnet and Myna realize that their secret won’t stay hidden for long…
The Sisters of Blue Mountain was the first book I have read from Karen Katchur. It is a well done mystery that keeps you wondering what’s going to happen up to the end. The whole time I wondered what happened to the geese and will the B&B be ok after this whole situation is over or will their guests never want to return? You can see how the whole town changed due to the situation with the geese. I felt for Linnet and her family as I became fully involved in her life and I connected with these characters.
There are multiple mysteries and those are what keep you going. Katchur is a very good story teller. You wonder what happened in the past to make these characters be estranged and then you find out! The Sisters of Blue Mountain helps you to see how small our world really is by how connected we are all to each other. Katchur makes you think about relationships and family as dysfunctional as they can be. You really see how a small town is with this novel.
The Sisters of Blue Mountain is recommended.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an ARC print copy. I wish I had been able to get to it before now.[Top]