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Book Review: The Oysterville Sewing Circle

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The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs– At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific.

She’s come home.

Home to a place she thought she’d left forever, home of her heart and memories, but not her future. Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous fashion world of Manhattan. But her success in New York imploded on a wave of scandal and tragedy, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows.

And in the backseat of Caroline’s car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment—five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. She’s now their legal guardian—a role she’s not sure she’s ready for.

But the Oysterville she left behind has changed. Her siblings have their own complicated lives and her aging parents are hoping to pass on their thriving seafood restaurant to the next generation. And there’s Will Jensen, a decorated Navy SEAL who’s also returned home after being wounded overseas. Will and Caroline were forever friends as children, with the promise of something more . . . until he fell in love with Sierra, Caroline’s best friend and the most beautiful girl in town. With her modeling jobs drying up, Sierra, too, is on the cusp of reinventing herself.

Caroline returns to her favorite place: the sewing shop owned by Mrs. Lindy Bloom, the woman who inspired her and taught her to sew. There she discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets. Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle—where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden.

Yet just as Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart. This time, though, Caroline is not going to run away. She’s going to stand and fight for everything—and everyone—she loves.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: August 13, 2019

Acquired: Pubic library e-book

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. It was a slow build but evenly paced and it hit on a lot of different issues without seeming over the top dramatic. I loved the small town feel of the setting and I could just picture the white picket fences and front porches while I was reading. This is not a light or fluffy read and it’s not chick lit. There are some really heavy issues within the story and they’re handled very well without going too far in either direction- glossing over them or making them so heavy that the story gets lost. I identified with the main character, Caroline, and everything she was going through. I loved that she had a spine of steel and was determined to do the right thing. The relationship between her and Will was hard for me to feel good about for most of the story because he was married. I struggled with that even though I could see where the story was heading. All in all it was a really good story and I hope there’s a follow up book in the works!



Book Review: The Friend Zone

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The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez– Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: June 11, 2019

Acquired: Pubic library e-book

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book a lot and it was so close to being a 5 star favorite read for me. There were two major events in the book that I just couldn’t overcome. But the writing was great, the story was well paced and flowed seamlessly, the characters were strong and the issues were realistic. I really liked the chemistry between the two main characters and I was rooting for them to work out their issues. I thought Kristen’s “secret” was handled well throughout the book up until the end and that was one of my major issues. There’s a lot of feelings in this book that range from humor to grief to rage and I felt all of them while reading. I loved how sassy and fierce Kristen was but the lack of communication was frustrating. I could understand why Kristen made the choices she did but it was extremely frustrating to read about her stringing along Josh for nearly 2/3 of the book. I definitely will read the next book about the secondary characters. 



Book Review: Everything Is Just Fine

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Everything is just Fine by Brett Paesel– Coach Randy is working mightily to keep it together, and not simply with his vaguely unhappy wife, distant child, and a new boss who’s eliminating half the sales force. This season’s soccer parents are a demanding bunch. Diane’s wine-fueled group e-mails are almost unintelligible; team mom Jacqui’s enthusiasm for the league verges on manic; a divorced couple can barely conceal their murderous rage at each other; and another mom is laser-focused on schooling everyone on what constitutes a healthy snack option.
All the secrets and lies bubbling below the surface of their membrane-thin civility threaten to combust when Alejandro, a young, foreign assistant coach refuses to play by the Beverly Hills code, which is to mind your own business and don’t look too deeply into anyone’s soul. Especially your own. Brett Paesel brings hilarity and huge heart to a world that looks enviable and shiny on the outside but is, in truth, filled with aching for connection on the inside.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: April 9, 2019

Acquired: Pubic library e-book

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: If you have kids who have played in youth sports- recreational, club, or school leagues included- you will totally understand this book. You will nod your head, you will chuckle, you will cringe, and you will feel outrage. This is truly a book for anyone who has experienced the politics of youth sports. I laughed so hard while reading this because I was picturing people from my own life as the characters. I really enjoyed the contrast between the characters and having those contrasts and differences displayed in email form was genius because it added an additional dimension to the story. It does get a bit darker towards the end of the story but that was needed for balance, in my opinion. I definitely recommend this one!



Book Review: Fix Her Up

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Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey– Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)
Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)
Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)
Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: June 11, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: Oh man, this book was really cute! But it also had a surprising amount of depth to it for what I thought was going to be a quick, light read. I adored the characters of Georgie and Travis. They were amazing. I felt for Georgie the most, trying to be taken seriously as the youngest sister with a bunch of brothers is a tough challenge in a family like hers. Her emotions just jumped off the page at me. I also enjoyed Travis and seeing him fight his feelings for Georgie was fun! There was angst, there was comedy, and there was deep emotions- all of which combined to create a really great story. I wanted to smack her family on more than occasion while reading but when Travis stands up for her finally, all bets were off and I was firmly on his side! I definitely recommend this one!



Book Review: The Gifted School

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The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger– Smart and juicy, a compulsively readable novel about a previously happy group of friends and parents that is nearly destroyed by their own competitiveness when an exclusive school for gifted children opens in the community

This deliciously sharp novel captures the relentless ambitions and fears that animate parents and their children in modern America, exploring the conflicts between achievement and potential, talent and privilege.

Set in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado, The Gifted School is a keenly entertaining novel that observes the drama within a community of friends and parents as good intentions and high ambitions collide in a pile-up with long-held secrets and lies. Seen through the lens of four families who’ve been a part of one another’s lives since their kids were born over a decade ago, the story reveals not only the lengths that some adults are willing to go to get ahead, but the effect on the group’s children, sibling relationships, marriages, and careers, as simmering resentments come to a boil and long-buried, explosive secrets surface and detonate. It’s a humorous, keenly observed, timely take on ambitious parents, willful kids, and the pursuit of prestige, no matter the cost.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: July 2, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book! Having kids in an academically rigorous school, I really identified with the characters and it made the story very real for me. The plot revolves mainly around 4 families and their desperate need to get their children into the new “Gifted” School. The characters were very real, very well developed, and their stories were all intertwined. The story flowed very well and showed the perspective from all the main characters, which was really imperative to the helping the reader identify with and understand the motives they each had. I really liked that the kids had a voice- reading their perspectives was absolutely one of my favorite things about this book. There are secrets that get revealed- in both small and big ways. There is envy, anger, and a little bit of crazy going on in this community. Mix all those things up and you get one heck of an explosive story!