This book is actually a compilation of four short stories that are very loosely connected. Perhaps the most significant commonality they have is thatThis book is actually a compilation of four short stories that are very loosely connected. Perhaps the most significant commonality they have is that they are set in the fictional frontier town of Springwater, Montana.
Young single Rachel responds to an ad for a schoolteacher in Springwater. She is from the East, and she has some pretty rigid ideas about how things ought to be. The last thing she intends on doing is falling for the part-owner of the local saloon. Predictably, that’s what happens here.
Savannah’s story begins a year or two after Rachel’s concludes. She’s not a prostitute, but she does own a part of the saloon in which Rachel’s husband is invested. Convinced she’ll never marry because of the town’s assumptions about her career, she prepares for a relatively lonely all-business life, but the town doctor, himself a misfit with bad memories of the recently concluded Civil War, finds in her qualities that heal his own life and that could be used to help heal others.
Miranda is an unwed mom who hits town a few years after Savannah and the doctor marry. She has no real goals, no future, and only one idea—to escape where she’s been and start somehow somewhere new. She, too, assumes her status as used-goods will mean no marriage. But there’s a widower in town with decidedly other ideas. He’s quite ok with her baby if she can learn to deal with his young hellion sons.
Jessica hits town intent on saving her deceased brother’s newspaper and making a home for his twin baby girls. His brother’s wife had also died, and the children were orphans. One of the folks she deals with early in Springwater is an attorney, about whom her brother had warned her. But the two ultimately find love despite her brother’s warnings. ...more
This appears to be an edited version of Grant’s memoirs, since it doesn’t at all touch on his years as president. It’s focus appears to be his boyhoodThis appears to be an edited version of Grant’s memoirs, since it doesn’t at all touch on his years as president. It’s focus appears to be his boyhood and early life and predominantly the war years.
So why should you read it? Because you get Grant linguistically just as you picture him physically. His chapters are all quite short—he was not physically a tall man. The language of the chapters is highly approachable and 21st-century-reader friendly. There’s nothing arcane or Dickensian about Grant’s writing style. This was a nearly 30-hour audio book that I blew through in mere days, and I found it easy to stay connected to the book and enjoy it.
What touched me about this was Grant’s attitudes toward war. He wasn’t one of these gung-ho let me tell you how glorious war is kind of guys. He despised war and wrote frequently about the destructive nature of it on all sides.
Ever wonder what went on under the hood in the days prior to the surrender at Appomattox? This is a great place to get that information, and it is interesting indeed. Grant doesn’t have to glorify himself and tell you what a compassionate guy he is because you see it in his writing on the subject. He talks with candor about his experiences with Lincoln, and you feel his grief at the time of the assassination and the sense that he feels as if he dodged a bullet literally by not going to the theater at the last minute....more
This book will involve your heart from about the third page in. I admit to beiog a little surprised by how deeply I became invested in these characterThis book will involve your heart from about the third page in. I admit to beiog a little surprised by how deeply I became invested in these characters.
Imagine being Navy SEAL Mat McKinney and hitting the beach while on leave with your cousin. Yo-r cousin has found a not-so-well-covered specimen with a chest full of silicon and a head full of pretty much nothing at all. Deciding that it can't be any worse than some of the missions he's been on, he determines to stick out the night and leave the next day. But he spots her on the beach from a distance, and he can't stop looking. She has everything he had always hoped for and knew he could never have because above all else, he was loyal to his team. That loyalty precluded any meaningful relationship with a woman, especially one who already has four kids and looks well into a pregnancy with number five. It is that pregnancy and the ring she wears--a ring he can see as he gets closer to her--that convinces him she's well and truly taken.
She is Abby Davis, and she is indeed a mom to the four children on that beach with her. And there is a fifth one coming in the fall, and she's still wearing that ring, even though her husband died six months earlier in a plane crash. The actual marriage died years before the plane crash.
This, then, is the story of a romance that, true to the formula of the genre, almost doesn't make it. But for some reason, the author has written this such that you will be surprisingly highly involved with Abby, Matt, and those four adorable children as they chart new territory and sometimes stumble in finding their way in a new relationship.
Matt had earlier promised his dying best friend that he, Matt, would not quit being a SEAL, and until Abby entered his life, he had easily kept the promise. But he was the product of a large, close, loving family, and he wanted one of those of his own someday. He is entirely smitten by Abby's children right at the outset, and they bond to him quickly as well. There sweet, sensitive mom is a different story. She grew -up in foster care upon the death of her parents, and she learned that "I love you" can get tossed about pretty meaninglessly by all too many people. As a result, Abby has learned to build rather effective walls that keep her self contained and devoid of much that involves an investment of the heart.
There is some profanity and some sexual references in the book, but those four kids mean that Abby and Matt are relatively busy with people other than themselves much of the time, so the descriptions aren't erotic or overly involved. Still, it's something you'll want to consider before you drop an Audible credit or whatever on it. It's not squeaky clean, and if that's a factor in your reading/purchasing decisions, you might consider passing this one up. I'm glad I didn't avoid it. I had initially purchased the Kindle version of this, but once I got into it more deeply, I realized I wanted to hear something other than the iPad's synthetic voice narrate it, so I bought the Audible version as well. I'm glad I did; it's nicely narrated, and the narration added much to the book.
This is the first book in a series about the McKinney brothers. ...more
I had read a compelling review of this book, and my appreciation for Park's other books is deep and genuine. I enjoyed the Gourmet Girl mysteries, andI had read a compelling review of this book, and my appreciation for Park's other books is deep and genuine. I enjoyed the Gourmet Girl mysteries, and Flat-Out Love was delightful. But this one just left me wanting to reformat my entire SD card and somehow start over.
Blythe McGuire is in her final year of college at a small Wisconsin liberal arts school. She is clinically depressed, much of which seems to stem from a fire that left her parents dead and her brother badly injured. In the book's initial pages, we are privy to a tragic scene that reveals Blythe stumbling drunkenly into her college dorm room. It becomes apparent that this night is not unlike most of the nights in Blythe's week. She drinks to kill the dreams, anesthetize the rawness of her emotions, and still the disorganized restlessness of her troubled mind.
She ventures to a nearby lake one day where she watches a fellow student skipping stones, and she is captivated. There's something calming and restorative about the boy's actions. He soon involves her in the activity, and a friendship is born that ultimately morphs into a sometimes-troubled romance.
Blythe soon meets the other members of Chris Shepherd's family, and for the first time in a long time, she feels a sense of belonging. But the family, like Blythe herself, is deeply troubled and in need of healing. That's especially true of Chris. Park skillfully weaves Chris's story with Blythe's, but this is not a typical formulaic romance. There are emotional highs and lows that are accentuated by the difficulties the two experienced in their respective earlier lives. You come to at least feel a diffident appreciation for Chris and the other members of his family who play important parts in the book. Blythe is mostly likable, and I found the plot tolerable enough.
But here's the thing: The sexual scenes are so graphic and flaming that they served merely to distract and tire me. That little forward-by-seconds button on my audiobook reader saw some serious and hard use. This book has convinced me that there must be something seriously wrong with me. The sizzle stuff is clearly designed to pump up everything from one's heart rate to one's anticipation for what lies on the next page. It just didn't work for me at all. Instead of being swept away by the scenes, I found myself wondering with no small amount of irritation how many times Park could drop the F-bomb in a single sentence. I really was afraid by the time I finished the book that I would need to send my book reader to Canada for repairs, so heavily and constantly did I lean on that little forward by granular units button.
If you read the description for this book on Goodreads, you'll note that it cautions would-be readers about the language, etc. I don't see that often in a Goodreads description, and I might have reluctantly put the book aside unread if I'd seen it first. But if detailed sexual descriptions and profanity aren't your thing in a book, let this one slide and glide on past your library checkout or Audible/Amazon purchase button.
But don't give up on Park's writing; that would be a sad thing to do indeed. She is a master at creating memorable characters, and her dialogue is well written and worth the time and effort you'll put into reading it. If Park were a less-talented writer, it would make sense that she would need to resort to some of the techniques she employs here. But she's not someone lacking in talent by any measure. Because of that, I found a lot of those scenes were simply gratuitous and unnecessary.
In an attempt to be fair to her, I have to say that her descriptions of Blythe's clinical depression were so gut-knotting real that you almost felt as if you, too, suffered with Blythe in every way. I just question the credibility of whether a romance--even a stellar one--can bring someone out of the depths of clinical depression as apparently deep as Blythe's was. Maybe it can, and maybe I'm not giving love enough credit, but it just felt a bit artificial to me. Of course, I hope I'm wrong. But the whole premise felt a little plastic....more
Looking for a read that gives you a glimpse into small-town Missouri in the years between World War I and the Great Depression? This might fill the biLooking for a read that gives you a glimpse into small-town Missouri in the years between World War I and the Great Depression? This might fill the bill for you.
Julie Jones is in her 20s, and she is very much in charge of the domestic affairs of her family—a circumstance that came into existence upon the death of her mother several years earlier. Evan Johnson is a veteran of World War I. He has moved back to the small community to ensure that his slovenly drunken father didn’t ruin the farm promised to him by his own dying mother as an inheritance.
This, then, is the story of Julie and Evan and their struggles as they quietly work toward being part of one another’s life. They both have secrets that each feel could forever ruin the fragile spark of love that begins to build within each of them.
I feel a strong ambivalence toward this author’s writing. I’ll read something, be kind of turned off by it, and return to something else years later thinking maybe the earlier experience was a fluke or bad timing on my part. But sadly, I find myself wondering why I picked up another book of hers.
There is much that is compelling about the plot. Garlock weaves a tale of love and suspense, of lies and innuendos. She shows the Norman Rockwell side of small-town life in early 20th-century America and equally skillfully paints the dark and ugly side of that life.
There are bits of dialogue in this book that are reminiscent of an unclean armpit on an otherwise well-showered body—a long-neglected unshaven single leg on a woman otherwise dressed well and with the other leg groomed. I can’t explain it well—it’s a kind of admixture of sweat and dollar store perfume where you wouldn’t expect it. In this book’s case, the unwashed unkempt sections are part of a dialogue between Evan’s drunken perverted father and others in the community who want to protect Julie and her younger sisters. Don’t misinterpret this; I’m not suggesting that people in post-World War I Missouri didn’t use vulgar language that referenced various portions of the female anatomy in ways that would constitute slang and cliché of the worst kind. It’s just that there seems to me to be such a stark contrast between those grunge sections and the rest of the book.
The plot kept me interested, and the characters are certainly memorable enough. I’m just not convinced that all of it is particularly necessary or moves the book forward. ...more
Gregory Fisher has it made. He’s 24, and he has enough money that he could ship his Trans Am to Europe and from there, into the Soviet Union. The coldGregory Fisher has it made. He’s 24, and he has enough money that he could ship his Trans Am to Europe and from there, into the Soviet Union. The cold war is in full swing, and no one knows that better than Fisher, who has struggled with the bureaucracy to simply be allowed to drive his fancy American car with its leather seats around the country. He is harassed by small-minded Soviet officials who impose curfews and tell him which roads he can use and when he is expected to be in Moscow.
But Fisher’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he takes a detour to see some old Napoleonic battle sites. It is while on the detour that he meets an American former fighter pilot who tells a remarkable story of a POW camp unlike any in the Soviet empire. The inmates—at least the oldest ones—are Americans, many of whom were captured during the Vietnam war. But the younger ones are KGB operatives who are being thoroughly Americanized so they can infiltrate U.S. society and ultimately, when there are enough on our shores, bring down the nation.
Fisher manages to get to Moscow, but by now, he has raised the ire of KGB operatives who realize where he has been and that he may have been exposed to the escaped American flyer with his seemingly fanciful story of a camp called the Charm School.
From there, things just get more breathless has DeMille flings you through plotted hairpin turns and weaves a memorable plot that will speed by so quickly you’ll be amazed to learn that this is an 800-plus-page book in print.
Of course, if you annoy the KGB, it doesn’t hurt to have your obit previously written. But if you don’t, fear not; the KGB will write one for you, telling your folks back in the states that you died in a most tragic auto accident. But that story doesn’t sit well with two embassy officials—one an old ex-flyer who narrowly missed capture by the North Vietnamese and the other a public information officer in her late 20s. The two ultimately agree to investigate what little information Fisher provided in a hasty telephone conversation. Once the embassy twosome gets involved, you’ll be hard pressed to put this down, especially if DeMille’s sarcasm and caustic wit appeals to you, as it does me. The love component here between the two embassy officials is enough to make the book just that much more interesting, but not so much that it detracts from the plot. ...more
Taylor Ridley is far and above the most popular girl in school. She’s no-question gorgeous, but the amazing thing is, she’s as beautiful inside as sheTaylor Ridley is far and above the most popular girl in school. She’s no-question gorgeous, but the amazing thing is, she’s as beautiful inside as she is outside. She’s that all-too-rare example of a popular cheerleader who is genuinely nice even to those who aren’t in the school’s inner circle.
Michael Vey most decidedly isn’t in the inner circle. He has Tourette’s Syndrome, and he’s a bit of a geek, as is his friend, Ostin, the way-out-of-shape heavy kid no one else will have anything to do with, unless you count giving the kid a swirly as having something to do with him.
But Tourette’s isn’t Michael’s real problem in the small-town high school he attends. He has a rather impressive ability to manipulate electricity to his own purposes, and he has been forced to keep it a secret. There are nefarious and secretive people out there who would like to harness his abilities for their purposes. To the best of his knowledge, he’s the only kid in the world with such mutated powers. But not so fast. One day, while being bullied, Michael inadvertently pours a paralyzing electrical current through his opponent and gets suspended by school officials. But the lovely Taylor has seen the whole thing, and she is determined to make friends with Michael; she, too, has a hidden agenda.
It seems she and Michael were born in the same hospital under rather mysterious circumstances, and, like Michael, Taylor has special abilities. She can block someone’s mental processes. That’s handy if you need a bad guy to forget what he’s trying to do to you, and this book is full of those.
This is a delightful lark about a misfit kid with a disability who falls hard for the pretty girl, who also has a disability albeit a hidden one. This book doesn’t lend itself, thank goodness, to hours of belly-button analysis about the social integration of disabled kids into the mainstream or anything remotely like that. If you want a fun couple of hours with some occasionally cheesy dialogue, this will get you there. This is Evans at his most surprising. Think of Evans, you think romance writer or Christmas book guy. You don’t think of teenage adventure stuff; that’s the domain of guys like James Dashner. But Evans holds his own here rather nicely. Since I’ve quietly devoted my summer to focusing on summer serial reads, I’ll probably explore this series in greater depth....more
Those who love books will be drawn to this story. There are so many references to books scattered throughout that if only that fact recommended the stThose who love books will be drawn to this story. There are so many references to books scattered throughout that if only that fact recommended the story, it would be enough. But there’s so much more to this. A. J. Fikry is intent on walling himself off from the world. His wife had died two years before the book’s time, and when someone steals from him a treasured and rare copy of Poe poems, his mission is essentially to isolate himself from the world and drink himself to death. The books that once mattered so much to him as part of the small struggling bookstore he owns have lost their magic. But there are people who care about him who won’t let him give up on himself without trying to help him. One of those is his sister-in-law, Ismay, and another is a small-town cop. Amelia is a lovely and eccentric bookseller who refuses to let the walls Fikry is building stop her from finding a place in his heart.
So Fikry owns a bookstore, and that’s a place where you would assume he would take delivery on a variety of packages. But on one occasion early in the book, he gets a special package that ultimately has the power to fling aside the heavy draperies of sorrow and self-imposed loneliness and bring him back into the main lanes of emotional commerce.
Not only can I recommend this book’s plot, but its writing. Zevin at one point writes that our lives are not novels but rather collected works. This is one of those books that is too easily ignored and where those of us who ignore it miss out on a great deal. I’m indebted to Jill at Rhapsody in Books for pointing me in the direction of this book some 15 months ago, and to Jen, whom I'm privileged to follow here, for convincing me this is one I can't leave unread. Jill is right in her assessment that having the box of tissues nearby isn’t a bad idea, although in my case I’m sure the sniffles were related to those allergies I may or may not have suffered from. ...more