One Wish by Robyn Carr ( web | tweet )
Part of Thunder Point series.
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: small towns, overcoming the path, family conflict, secrets
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher. (Thanks!)
Previously: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr
Summary: Grace owns Thunder Point’s flower shop, she has a great best friend, and she’s truly settling into this small community. When her friend (and top crush) Troy suggests she doesn’t have enough fun, he recruits himself as her “fun” coach. Grace gives in, despite her feelings and the secrets she has been keeping.
I’m a huge fan of the Thunder Point series because, unlike a lot of the other romances I read, Robyn Carr builds her stories beyond the couple, trickling in more personalities from the community and making it feel like you are truly a fly on the wall of the gorgeous (I really want to visit) Pacific Northwest town of Thunder Point. Here are five reasons to check out her latest, ONE WISH, and where I, again, remind you it’s okay to read these out of order:
1. A flower shop. As much as chemistry and love is important in a romance novel, I love great background stories and I thought it was so adorable that Grace owned her own flower shop. She took pride in her work and her business, and was so so great with her customers.
2. Non-drama relationship. It was refreshing that a majority of the “drama” in ONE WISH came from places other than Grace and Troy’s relationship. Sure, the whole thing started as nothing more of a friendship (from Troy’s perspective anyway) but it escalated in this sweet, natural, no hassle way. Sure there were some kinks but for the most part the “push and pull” was never a huge, melodramatic issue.
3. Ginger. Someone new is always moving to Thunder Point, and I’m praying that Ginger is a bigger character in one of the upcoming books. She’s dealing with depressing, and moves to TP to live with her grandmother and hopefully move out of her funk once and for all. I love how TP is such a healing place for so many and Ginger’s story (her husband leaving her; her young son dying) is one that I want to hear more about. (Great news: we get more hangout time with Ginger in A New Hope!)
4. A true community. I touched on this a little bit in #3 but something about TP always makes me miss living in the suburbs. These neighbors are always around to catch the other, and help out in someway and it’s so so so heartwarming and wonderful. I love these strangers find new connections and find themselves bonding for life with people they never thought they would. (Plus, the views. I want to hear the ocean.)
5. A Valentine’s Day dance. Did your school have one of these? I am pretty sure we didn’t but Troy teaches at the high school and he’s chaperoning one. I couldn’t help but laugh at how his students are in love with him, and just how popular Grace was with the young kids. This was such a fun detail!
It’s time for one of you to read ONE WISH. The lovely people at Little Bird Publicity have provided me with one copy for a U.S. winner. Please enter to win below & good good luck!
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I have NO idea how tomorrow is the beginning of March. HOW HOW HOW? February was full of lots of new adventures, several great books, really cold weather just about everywhere, and way too much time spent looking up YouTube videos.
Here’s a little recap of this February with our most popular Instagram posts. (Are you on Instagram? Find us @ReadingGals, @thatsostelle, and @magan; we’d love to get to know you better, too!)
SHOPPING LIST MUSTS
Magan’s Pick: Liar’s Inc.
Estelle’s Pick: Girl Before a Mirror
We both HIGHLY recommend: I’ll Meet You There
WHAT TO CLICK
SUMMING IT ALL UP
Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman
Promposal by Rhonda Helms
Cut Me Free by J.R. Johannson
Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil
Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne
A cover reveal for Tara Jenkins Reid’s Maybe In Another Life due July 7, 2015
An author chat with Stephen Metcalfe of The Tragic Age
A peek at Jennifer Snow’s Brookhollow series from Harlequin
Kieran Scott shared her love story in the spirit of Valentine’s Day
Estelle’s fictional birthday party (to celebrate her 30th!)
Beyond High School YA Books (for those who seek older characters)
#SoRatherBeYoung: Harriet the Spy and Number the Stars (and Hannah’s post too!)
Little Kids: books to show/tell your children how much you love them
Dive Into Diversity Discussion: Religion in YA
Pub Date: Sorta Like a Love Story
What were some of your favorites in February? Let us know in the comments.
Cheers to (hopefully) more sunshine and being one month closer to summer!
The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman [twitter • website]
Publication Date: April 24, 2014
Target Audience: Contemporary Adult Fiction
Keywords: weight and obesity, stigmas, friendship
Format Read: Digital copy received from Publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: Katie, Pixie, Ellie, and Jane are fed up with not seeing results at their weekly slimming meeting. They gossip and ignore the leader anyway, so they decide to ditch the meetings for something more adventurous. Each week they set out to do something fun and new, but things change when Jane doesn’t fit in a standard sized theater seat. They form a club with the intent to find things that won’t make them feel uncomfortable or like an outcast.
• • •
Katie. Pixie. Ellie. Jane.
The one thing they all have in common: they’re overweight (for some of them, obese). They met at and attend a weekly slimming meeting (a la Weight Watchers), but decide something’s just gotta give. They’re no longer helpful and the only reason they’re attending anymore is so they can hang out together. The time they spent in meetings becomes time they dedicate to doing something fun together. The plan seems golden until they visit a local theater and Jane doesn’t fit in a seat.
The idea arises that they should share the information with other people and ultimately launch a website, form a club, and attend events they’re guaranteed to enjoy. Thus, the birth of The Curvy Girls Club. Katie spends tons of her free time calling and arranging all of the get-togethers. Rob, another friend from their meetings, joins the club (yep, even guys are welcome!) and becomes their IT specialist by helping set up the website and keeping track of hits. He’s into the club for a bigger reason than being the internet guru; he and Katie have been friends for a long time, but his feelings have developed into something more.
One amazing thing about Rob is that he’s not shy about finally fessing up to his feelings. Who doesn’t like a guy that can take charge and own his emotions? Except things get a little complicated. Katie’s had a six-year crush on her boss, Alex. He’s flirty. He’s sexy. But is he into Katie for the right reasons?
As the girls turn this casual club into a booming empire, Katie begins to drop weight. She’s not changed anything about her diet, exercise, or otherwise, so she visits a doctor and receives some news that she should take more seriously than she does. She spends some time “thinking” about her options and enjoys the weight loss. Rob gets weirded out by her sudden change in attitude and appearance, and Alex is suddenly front and center. See where things are headed? Yikes.
The whole concept of The Curvy Girls Club is overall lighthearted, but feels extremely authentic, too. What girl wouldn’t understand why Katie would be excited about dropping the weight, finally, when nothing else has worked? And who wouldn’t be infuriated that her work never sends her out on face-to-face client meetings (ironically, she works for a nutritional supplement company) but docks her pay for not meeting their requirements? Katie’s desire is to see TCGC grow so that she can replace her desk job with something she’s actually passionate about.
Underlying Katie’s issues are Jane and Pixie who have suffering marriages and the inability to lose weight. Ellie is in a healthy relationship, but still packs on extra weight. Each woman’s journey had a touch of seriousness — verbal abuse, being weeded out of your job because of size, trust issues, not being able to lose pregnancy weight, and dietary supplements. I’d bet money on the possibility that the vast majority of us can relate to something in that list. And it’s for that sole reason that I loved The Curvy Girls Club. Fun concept, great characters you’d want to hang out with, and tons of depth.
(P.S. I love how eye-catching this cover is.)
Add THE CURVY GIRLS CLUB to Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
• • •
In mid-December, Hannah and I rolled out a laidback, sporadic reading project called “You Make Me Feel So Young” — where we joint read a book from our childhood and pick a title for the other to check out. This post includes the very scientific results to our first challenge.
Biggest realization: I thought I read fast but Hannah is a gold medalist.
Second realization: These are quite fun to read outloud. Since my husband is currently obsessed with this video game called Destiny, I made it feel like storytime by reading Harriet the Spy outloud. For the record, the name Ole Golly is repeated so much… (and I understand why for this age group) …that it started to sound like gibberish to me.
Third realization: Gosh, this is tons of fun.
Let’s get started, shall we?
♥ ♥ ♥
Joint pick: HARRIET THE SPY by Louise Fitzhugh | First published in 1964
More Than You Know: Did you know that a companion book (Harriet Spies Again) was published in 2002 by Helen Ericson? She was granted permission by the Louise Fitzhugh estate to continue the series. (Fitzhugh died in 1974 from a brain aneurysm.)
Memories Are Made of This: I have a confession to make. I’m not even sure if I finished this book when I was a kid. Yes, I have a pretty beat up copy but…I barely remembered a thing and I’ve been known to have a great memory! Honestly, I probably know more about the Rosie O’Donnell film than the actual book.
Second Time Around: The reason I don’t think I read this one the whole way through is because I was floored by what a creep Harriet could be. She is just… not a nice kid. Sure, she gets very little attention from her parents and the amount of freedom she has in NYC as an 11-year old is astonishing. But, again, different world. I admired her for being so committed to her writing and for her loyalty toward Ole Golly. Most of the time I felt like she got the short end of the sick so while I don’t approve of her acting out… it made sense. (I hope she has a good therapist.)
You Can Take My Word for It, Baby: I’m not sold on this book being at the top of my reading list for my future child. (James agreed with me.) A book I might have them read when they are older but not when they are aligned to Harriet’s age. The reading experience needs to be more of a “ha ha wow” kind of thing, I think. (And even then, it’s a tad disturbing!)
Hannah’s pick for me: NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowry | First published in 1989
Do You Know Why? I knew I wanted to choose historical fiction for Estelle’s first read because it’s been my favorite genre ever since childhood. But what book to pick? As soon as I realized she hadn’t read Number the Stars, I knew it was the one! It’s a lifelong favorite for me – combining Lois Lowry’s lovely writing, a memorable heroine and an emotional story. I was hoping that this book would bring history alive for Estelle in the same way it once did for me! – from Hannah
Can’t You Just See Yourself: I cannot figure out why I did not read this one in elementary school or even early middle school. What a brave female character though and a brilliant romance in such a compact little book. I was tremendously moved by Annemarie’s story and the sacrifices and actions of her family as the Nazi’s turn their lives upside down. It also hits some subtle marks about dealing with grief within a family at a young age.
I Give You My Word: Unlike with Harriet, I wouldn’t think twice about having a copy of this book in my collection for a future child or sharing it with others who are building up a great bookcase. It’s an important book yes because it deals with overcoming adversity but it’s nice to see a young girl finding bravery she doesn’t even know she possesses and a devoted friendship.
Before the Music Ends: I wholeheartedly believe you should pick this one up… whether it’s to read it for the first time or to revisit. (I bought my copy on the Nook and it was so inexpensive.) In a world of very long, intense books, Lois Lowry’s writing is a reminder of how much can be conveyed in small packages.
Have you read either of these lately? Do you remember the first time you did?
Thanks so much for taking part in #SoRatherBeYoung! Tweet & chat with us! We’re nice.
Stay tuned for our joint read Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell in April… and some social media fun!
On New Year’s Eve, I climbed on a very tall ladder, in a very warm Manhattan bookstore to grab a copy of AFTER I DO for a dear friend who needed a purple book and who I thought needed to hear this heartbreakingly honest story of healing and carving your own way. Did I mention I was wearing a heavy winter jacket in this warm bookstore and that I had to climb the very top step of this very tall ladder?
THIS is how much I adore the writing of Taylor Jenkins Reid. I read her first book (FOREVER, INTERRUPTED) when I left Austin after a visit with Magan. I was sad and I needed a book to make me feel better. FI didn’t promise to be cheery but it certainly welcomed me into its world and let me forget for a little while. These two books are the reason why I’m thrilled to be a part of the cover reveal for Taylor’s upcoming novel: MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE (Washington Square Books, 7/7/15). All I can say is this: I hope she plans to write a book every year for the rest of her life because, well, the need is strong.
Congrats to Taylor & I hope you’ll consider picking up her other two titles as you countdown to summer for this one. – Estelle
What it’s all about | At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college, but on the heels of a disastrous breakup, she has finally returned to her hometown of Los Angeles. To celebrate her first night back, her best friend, Gabby, takes Hannah out to a bar—where she meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.
It’s just past midnight when Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. Ethan quickly offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay.
What happens if she leaves with Gabby?
What happens if she leaves with Ethan?
In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into surprisingly different stories with far-reaching consequences for Hannah and the people around her, raising questions like: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?
Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.
Publication Date: July 7, 2015 ♦ Find it on Goodreads + Amazon + B&N
About the Author | Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She is the author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit. You can follow her on Twitter @TJenkinsReid.
FOREVER, INTERRUPTED | AFTER I DO
Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Dundurn Group
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: missing parent, London, abusive parent
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: Edie and her mom Sydney flee to London to get away from her abusive father; the day after her mom’s first night shift at her new job, she doesn’t ever return home. Edie decides she can’t go to the authorities because she doesn’t trust them (since her dad was a cop). She goes in search of Sydney with a guy from her school, Jermaine.
• • •
Since You’ve Been Gone had the potential to be a really great “whodunnit” thriller if it had kept me on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, timing and unnecessary sexuality prevented me from staying hooked.
Edie and her mom, Sydney, pack up their lives within a few hours to flee Canada and take cover in London. For years they’ve been hopping from location to location to hide from her father. They left him when his abuse was no longer just verbal. He’s in law enforcement so outrunning him is difficult, but it is even less likely that someone would believe this cop is capable of being so aggressive.
Edie’s life in London is less than ideal — their apartment isn’t as homey as it is shabby (minus the chic). Forget about making friends; somehow she pisses off the mean girls on her first of school. Worst of all is that after her mom’s first day at her sketchy new job, she never reappears. Edie doesn’t receive a phone call from her and knows something’s gone awry; somehow her dad has always been able to figure out where they’ve gone. Has he resurfaced again so soon?
With a trail of lies following her and a lot of fear she’ll be thrown into the foster care system, Edie knows she can’t go to the authorities. She has to start the search for her mom on her own. She makes an unlikely “friend”, Jermaine, who has a rumor mill of gossip outlining his juvenile record. Jermaine and Edie set out to find Sydney, but hit dead end after dead end.
Edie’s story is an interesting one; I’m always fascinated by how people will get out of unbelievable circumstances. How would Edie and Jeramine do this on their own as two young teenagers with no detective skills scrounging for clues in London? That was the catch for me, but Since You’ve Been Gone lost its footing when things came to a screeching halt with a surprise revelation. It seemed like things were wrapped up abruptly from that point on. Essentially she had too much to handle and no way out without this loophole.
Quite possibly more upsetting was the escalation of the romance between Edie and Jermaine. I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that not all books need a love story. It didn’t feel authentic here. These two really started out as enemies, two people who didn’t trust one another, when the story began. When less than 24 hours later, they find themselves in Jermaine’s house and Edie is contemplating having sex with Jermaine all while tangled up in this great search for her mother, things just didn’t feel convincing. Is it possible to consider losing your virginity with a boy you’ve just met that you didn’t even trust at the beginning of the day all while wondering if you’re mother’s been kidnapped or murdered?
My answer would be no.
Since You’ve Been Gone had the potential to be a story I would have loved with more refinement and focus. I suggest you check out Liars, Inc. or Twisted Fate if you’re looking for a good “edge of your seat” book.
Add SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE to Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble