REVIEW: HEAVEN ADJACENT, BY CATHERINE RYAN HYDE

Roseanna Chaldecott spent her life as a high-powered lawyer in Manhattan. But when her best friend and law partner dies suddenly, something snaps. Unsure of her future, Roseanna heads upstate on one tank of gas and with no plans to return.

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Roseanna discovers the perfect hideout in a ramshackle farm. Its seventy-six acres are rich with possibilities and full of surprises, including a mother and daughter squatting on the property. Although company is the last thing Roseanna wants, she reluctantly lets them stay.

Roseanna and the young girl begin sculpting junk found around the farm into zoo animals, drawing more newcomers—including her estranged son, Lance. He pleads with Roseanna to return to the city, but she’s finally discovered where she belongs. It may not provide the solitude she originally sought, but her heart has found room for much more.

I found Heaven Adjacent tucked away on my Kindle, begging to be read, and I was happy to have discovered it at just the right time in my life. I needed something heartwarming that would pull me out of my own problems. The perfect kind of escape.

I really enjoyed Roseanna and her entourage of squatters on that little hideout she had created for herself. Who wouldn’t find her new life a perfect respite from New York City and its pressures?

The author paints a beautiful picture of Roseanna’s new life and the characters that soon fill it up for her. Dealing with loss and creating a new kind of world sounds perfect to me. I couldn’t stop turning the pages and gave a blissful sigh at the conclusion. An unexpected five star read.

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REVIEW: THE LIAR’S CHILD, BY CARLA BUCKLEY

 

On the outskirts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks sits the Paradise, an apartment complex where renters never stay long enough to call the place “home”—and neighbors are seldom neighborly. It’s ideal for Sara Lennox, who moved there to escape a complicated past—and even her name—and rebuild a new life for herself under the radar. But Sara cannot help but notice the family next door, especially twelve-year-old Cassie and five-year-old Boon. She hears rumors and whispers of a recent tragedy slowly tearing them apart.

When a raging storm threatens then slams the coastal community, Sara makes a quick, bold decision: Rescue Cassie and Boon from the storm and their broken home—without telling a soul. But this seemingly noble act is not without consequences. Some lethal.

My Thoughts: The characters we meet in The Liar’s Child seemingly have no connection to one another, beginning with Hank, the retired cop who is a watcher. He fancies himself a protector, having suffered unimaginable losses.

Cassie, a preteen girl living in a dreary apartment, protects herself with defiance, dark clothes, and heavy makeup. She acts as if her little brother Boon is an annoyance, but she is his fierce guardian. The two of them know early on that they can’t really trust people.

Whit, father to the kids, has a dark secret. But he is trying to hold everything together for his kids.

Then there is Sara…or whoever she really is. She is in a witness program, but she is marking the days until she can escape the FBI scrutiny. We learn through her internal monologues that lying is a big part of her persona, and she is good at it. But it’s a lonely life.

So…when the hurricane strikes and she puts her own destiny at risk to rescue Cassie and Boon, she learns that sometimes even liars can find their inner nurturer.

I loved watching them all struggle: Sara, Cassie, Boon, Whit, and even Hank. At the end, the story jumped ahead in time, and we caught a glimpse of a promising future. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: WHAT WE FIND, BY ROBYN CARR

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Maggie Sullivan, a brilliant neurosurgeon living in Denver, Colorado, has seen her life falling apart around her, bit by bit. Her practice is in a shambles due to some criminal actions by her partners; she is facing a wrongful death lawsuit; and she has just lost her baby in a miscarriage. Further, her partner and the father of the child has dumped her for being “too depressed” for him to deal with.

What is Maggie to do? She finds herself in Sullivan’s Crossing where her father, Sully, has a campground and a general store. Wrapped up in the love of family and friends, Maggie believes that she might finally begin to heal here. But then her father has a heart attack.

In the subsequent weeks, as she helps her father through his recovery, she also meets another camper, a man she at first dismisses as a drifter, but in getting to know Cal Jones, she is able to see how she can open up her world to possibilities. Can the two of them forge a relationship? What does getting to know Cal mean? As he answers some questions about his life before, the family he came from, and what he wants for the future, he is modeling what she herself needs to do, moving forward.

What We Find is full of beautiful settings and interesting characters, from Maggie’s mother Phoebe and her stepfather Walter, to Cal’s father Jed and mother Marissa. How far does the apple fall from the tree? Does the past always inform the future? In reaching some conclusions about the characters, I came to hope that they would not end with this book. I wanted to continue the journey with them, in at least one more book or two. 4.5 stars.

REVIEW: THE OBSESSION, BY NORA ROBERTS

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Eleven-year-old Naomi Bowes woke during a hot night in her West Virginia home…and when she heard a noise, she got up. She followed her father into the woods, curious. What she found in the root cellar after he came back up and left….would change her life forever.

Rescuing the young woman named Ashley and reporting her father’s crimes to the police could have haunted her forever. But she decided not to be the daughter of serial killer Thomas Bowes for the rest of her life. Taken in by her maternal uncle Seth and his partner Harry, along with her mother and brother Mason, she had a good life as Naomi Carson, moving from Washington, D.C. to New York…and then, alone, all around the country, staying ahead of the news reports and gossip. Until finally she landed in Sunrise Cove, Washington, where she optimistically believed she had outrun her ghosts.

I really loved the new life Naomi was creating in Sunrise Cove, renovating a big old mansion and gradually becoming a part of the community. The descriptions of the home interiors as they slowly came together, along with her vision of life on the water, made me love how a grim story could turn into moments of beauty. Naomi’s photography career also kept me engaged, as she showed the reader what she saw through her lens, and how she brought life and creativity into each shot.

Meeting Xander Keaton, the man who owned a garage in town, who was someone so much more than he appeared on the surface…that event was the final straw that turned her life of beauty into one that included the possibility of love.

But suddenly, something is happening all around the small, lovely town. Girls are going missing and turning up dead…and not far from Naomi’s haven. Who, if anyone, is targeting her and dumping bodies in places that are familiar to her? What, if anything, do the photos on Naomi’s website mean to the killer?

When her FBI agent brother Mason comes to town, the pieces begin to fall into place. Will they finally unmask and capture the killer? Who will it turn out to be?

The Obsession was a page-turning thriller that was also so much more. Totally engaging. 5 stars.

REVIEW: WHAT I REMEMBER MOST, BY CATHY LAMB

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She had always known that somewhere, somehow, she had been loved. Fleeting beautiful memories, lovely images….those followed her through the years of her life. Run, Grenadine, run… haunting words that then abruptly ended with a concussion, a hospital, and endless foster home placements. And the dark images were there, too, inserting themselves into the beautiful moments, and leaving holes in her memories.

If ever anyone could have survived what Grenadine Scotch Wild had during the years in horrific foster home placements, it would have been a child who had known warmth and love at some point. Even a couple of the foster home placements contributed to her strength and her courage. And this legacy of love was also part of Grenadine’s history, even if she could barely recall it.

When What I Remember Most begins, we learn a little of the past…and then we see the young woman she has become, Dina Hamilton, betrayed by her husband and charged, along with him, for fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering. We also see her running for her life, changing her name because of the publicity, and then hoping against hope that her attorney can protect her from a guilty verdict.

In a small town in Central Oregon, Grenady, as she is now calling herself, starts over. Keeping her secrets, keeping her head down, and even sleeping in her car for a while, she finally is beginning to feel safe. What a handsome furniture maker brings to her life, and who helps her reinvent her artistic collages with her unique vision, makes the story into a beautiful exploration of love and hope.

Narrated in Grenady’s first person voice, we also see narrative entries from her time in foster care, providing some of that history. And we see the narrative of an unnamed psychotic individual who is part of her past, too.

How will Grenady finally escape the pain of the past? What will trigger the memories she had lost? And how will the new friends, including a wonderful woman named Rozlyn and her daughter Cleo, provide a sense of family?

As always, I savored the characters, the prose, and the wonderful settings that brought this story to life for me. My only issue was that the story bogged down, at times, but then the author always brought it right back up for me. Recommended for fans of the author. 4.5 stars.

BACK IN THE BEGINNING: THE DAYS THAT INFORMED MY CHOICES

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The summer of 2009, it was an August week, and I was headed for Napa and Wine Train adventures, among others (see above).  I was staying in a lovely little cottage and enjoying all that Napa Wine Country had to offer.

And I was very excited about the new blog I had just created:  Rainy Days and Mondays.

Post-retirement, I loved the idea that I could enjoy my Mondays.   Those of you still working that life know what I’m talking about.  No matter how much you enjoy your work, Mondays are like a damper on your joy.  Usually there is a lot of craziness after a weekend.  I remember it well!

I was also fond of that old Carpenter’s song (now this really dates me!):

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
Sometimes I’d like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around
Nothing to do but frown
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.

What I’ve got they used to call the blues
Nothin’ is really wrong
Feelin’ like I don’t belong
Walkin’ around
Some kind of lonely clown
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.

 

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Well, this blog is my celebration of Blue Mondays No More!

I hope you’ll join me here on my newly reinvented space.  The journey remains the same…and for those of us that love books, they do “chase away the blues.”

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