Book Review: Promise Me Happy

Promise Me Happy – Robert Newton – Penguin Books Australia – Published 7 May 2019

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Synopsis

Nate’s had it tough. An abusive father. His mother dead. He’s done things he regrets.

But he’s never met anyone like Gem. She’s a tiny piece of wonderful and she’ll change everything he knows about himself. Is this the beginning of happiness? Or is there more hardship around the corner?

My thoughts

Promise Me Happy – a moving, authentically Aussie coming of age story at its best. Perfect for fans of YA contemporary fiction about relationships, family and finding a place to belong, Promise Me Happy is a soothing, gently-paced and touching novel.

Nate knows this is his last chance. Leaving juvie to live with an uncle he doesn’t know, Nate has low expectations about this next phase in his life, yet it can’t be worse than returning to live with his drunk and abusive father and memories of his dead mother. But living with uncle isn’t at all what he expects, nor the charming little fishing town, the slower lifestyle, space to breath, quirky young neighbour, Henry or the intriguing, combat-boot and tartan-wearing Gem. It may be just the second chance Nate needs, if he can hang on to it.

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Book Review: Moments We Forget

Moments We Forget – Beth K. Vogt – Thatcher Sisters #2 – Tyndale House Publishers – Published 7 May 2019

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Synopsis

Jillian Thatcher has spent most of her life playing the family peacemaker, caught in the middle between her driven, talented older sister and her younger, spotlight-stealing twin sisters. Then on the night of her engagement party, a cancer diagnosis threatens to once again steal her chance to shine.

Now, Jillian’s on the road to recovery after finally finishing chemo and radiation, but residual effects of the treatment keep her from reclaiming her life as she’d hoped. And just when her dreams might be falling into place, a life-altering revelation from her husband sends her reeling again.

Will Jillian ever achieve her own dreams, or will she always be “just Jillian,” the less-than Thatcher sister? Can she count on her sisters as she tries to step into a stronger place, or are they stuck in their childhood roles forever?

My thoughts

Moments We Forget is the second book in the Thatcher Sister’s series. Moments We Forget continues the story of three sisters, separated by grief and circumstances, slowly working on reconciling as they each face the ups and downs of life.

Jillian well knows her role as the middle sister – peacemaker, often the bearer of bad news and someone who knows not to challenge the spotlight-stealing older and younger sisters. But, Jillian has beaten breast cancer and she’s ready to get on with her life. Yet her newly formed marriage is struggling under two busy schedules, she can’t seem to keep up at work and the kitchen renovations that were meant to be fun are turning up endless problems. Even the book club she formed with her sisters to help them all keep in touch and get along seems destined to be one big fight. When life and circumstances get you down can these sisters be there for each other?

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Book Review: The Last Wish of Sasha Cade

The Last Wish of Sasha Cade – Cheyanne Young – Kids Can Press – Published 2 October 2018

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Synopsis

The day Raquel has been dreading for months has finally arrived. Sasha, her best friend in the whole world — the best friend in the whole world — has died of cancer. Raquel can’t imagine life without her. She’s overwhelmed and brokenhearted.

And then a letter from Sasha arrives. Has she somehow found a way to communicate from the afterlife?

In fact, Sasha has planned an elaborate scavenger hunt for Raquel, and when she follows the instructions to return to Sasha’s grave, a mysterious stranger with striking eyes is waiting for her. There’s a secret attached to this boy that only Sasha—and now Raquel—knows.

This boy, Elijah, might be just what Raquel needs to move on from her terrible loss. But can Raquel remain true to herself while also honoring her friend’s final wish?

My thoughts

A powerful beginning hallmarks what can only be described as a beautiful, heartbreaking and very sweet story. A story of sad endings transformed into just-the-beginnings, a story of broken hearts slowly healing, a story of friendship bonds so strong that time nor death holds any sway. The Last Wish of Sasha Cade is an ode to friendship.

Raquel knew this day was coming, but the death of her best friend Sasha still hits her hard. In the midst of her grief she receives a surprise letter from Sasha outlining a series of adventures that will unfold over the next few weeks – a scavenger hunt of memories and fond moments. But Sasha has one other big secret that she shares with Raquel – a boy with whom she shared a special connection. As Elijah and Raquel complete Sasha’s adventures, they become close, brought together through shared grief. But a future together would mean revealing Sasha’s secret.

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Book Review: The Simple Wild

The Simple Wild – K.A. Tucker – Atria Books – Published 7 August 2018

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Synopsis

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

My thoughts

Gorgeous scenery, a heartwarming story of family and reconnection and a from-enemies-to-lovers romance that smoulders; The Simple Wild is a contemporary novel that grabs the reader.

Calla hasn’t spoken to her father for years and hasn’t seen him since she and her mother left Alaska when Calla was just a child. When she hears that her father has cancer, Calla makes the decision to travel to Alaska and reconnect with him. Facing all the challenges of life away from the city, Calla is surprised to enjoy her time getting to know her father. Making things more complicated is rugged (yet undeniably handsome) pilot Jonah. While he is counting down the moments until Calla leaves Alaska, she is determined to prove to them both that she has what it takes to survive the wild.

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Book Review: Storm Front

Storm Front – Susan May Warren – Montana Rescue #5 – Revell – Published 1 May 2018

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Synopsis

A tornado has destroyed a small Minnesota community and among the missing are not only a group of students but PEAK Rescue team leader Chet King. Ty Remington will stop at nothing to rescue his mentor, not even when the girl he loved–and lost–walks back into his life. But Brette needs his help more than he knows, despite her stubborn determination to push him away. And when he gets a second chance, loving her just might cost him more than he can imagine.

A blogger for Vortex Storm Chasers, Brette Arnold didn’t expect her adventures to land her in the same place as Ty, the guy who she walked–no, ran–from over a year ago. She had her reasons–good ones. The kind that tell her that falling for him again would only lead to heartache. But Ty isn’t the kind of man to give up–not on the missing students, or on her.

My thoughts

Five stars are not enough to convey the true awesomeness of Storm Front. What is it about this Montana Rescue series? It just gets better and better and better with each book – and they were pretty darn good to start off with.

Brette Arnold is tired of facing the challenges constantly thrown her way – the death of first her father then her mother, cancer, assault and now mounting debt – she’s tired of believing in hope when everything seems hopeless. It’s why she ran from the protection of Ty Remington’s embrace and the support he offered. But her current job as a photographer in a storm chasing team brings her face-to-face with Ty as a massive storm cell brings destruction and endangers the life of PEAK team leader, Chet King.

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Book Review: Things I Never Told You

Things I Never Told You – Beth K. Vogt – Tyndale House Publishers – Published 8 May 2018

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Synopsis

It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, leaving the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. No longer half of a pair, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine–as long as she manages to hold her memories and her family at arm’s length.

But with her middle sister Jillian’s engagement, Payton’s party-planning skills are called into action. Which means working alongside her opinionated oldest sister, Johanna, who always seems ready for a fight. They can only hope that a wedding might be just the occasion to heal the resentment and jealousy that divides them . . . until a frightening diagnosis threatens Jillian’s plans and her future. As old wounds are reopened and the family faces the possibility of another tragedy, the Thatchers must decide if they will pull together or be driven further apart.

My thoughts

Things I Never Told You is both heartbreaking and uplifting, a story of sisters, grief, long-held secrets, the things that pull a family apart and the steps needed to bring healing to broken relationships.

Ten years ago, Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died. The Thatcher family coped in different ways, with Payton pulling away from her two older sisters. Now, Payton helps run an event planning business and is forced into working with her eldest sister, Johanna, to plan their middle sister, Jillian’s wedding. But a shocking diagnosis leaves Jillian reeling, while the ten-year anniversary of Pepper’s death has Payton caught in a web of grief and guilt. As the Thatcher sisters face life’s challenges, present and past, they have the opportunity to reassess – both their individual life choices and aspirations, and their relationship as sisters.

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Book Review: Crisis Shot

Crisis Shot – Janice Cantore – The Line of Duty #1 – Tyndale – Published 5 September 2017

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Synopsis

Tess O’Rourke dreams of becoming the first female chief of police in Long Beach, California. As commander of the East Division, she is well on her way . . . until the night she responds to an officer-needs-assistance call and fatally shoots an unarmed teenager. Despite being cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury, Tess is so hounded by the public that she takes a job in Oregon to escape the bad press.

Winning over the residents of Rogue’s Hollow might be more difficult than adjusting to her new role as police chief in the small, backwater town. Especially when her closest friend, the pastor’s wife, goes missing and the woman’s cousin is found shot. Tess finds an ally in sheriff’s deputy Steve Logan, but as they track down Rogue’s Hollow’s first murderer, she worries that she’s breaking one of her rules and getting too close to him.

My thoughts

Crisis Shot is the first book in a new series by Janice Cantore. It is full of gripping suspense, and has a very real quality to the crime that hits home.

When Tess is involved with a police shooting, the fallout threatens to destroy the career she has worked so hard to build. Left with few options, she decides to leave Long Beach and apply for a position as Chief of Police in a small rural town in Oregon. In her first few weeks she faces much opposition, but she had the chance to prove herself when a man is murdered and the local pastor’s wife goes missing.

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Book Review: Finding Hope

finding-hope

Finding Hope – Melanie D. Snitker – Love’s Compass #2 – Published 1 July 2015

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Synopsis

Cancer.

That one word has rocked Lexi Chandler’s life to the core. Her focus has always been to help others. She loves being a nurse and enjoys spending time with her family. Things had been going according to plan. Now she’s struggling to pick up the pieces and make sense of the changes in her life.

Lance Davenport has cared for Lexi since they were kids. Between their age difference and bad timing, he’s turned burying his feelings into an art. Now, watching Lexi battle with cancer has made him realize just how much he’s missed. He doesn’t know what their future holds, but he’s determined to not waste another minute.

The people closest to Lexi pull together as she tries to navigate her way down a path none of them ever dreamed she’d have to travel.

My thoughts

I was pleased to find this book had the same tone as many of my favourite Christian contemporary novels. Think Melissa Tagg, Irene Hannon, Kimberly Rae Jordan. Romance, strong family connections, trials, faith – great stories that leave you feeling uplifted. This is the first book I’ve read written by Melanie D. Snitker but it certainly won’t be the last.

Finding Hope is the second book in the Love’s Compass series. It gave away a few major plot points from the first book and set in place events for the third but otherwise was fine to read out of series order.

Lexi Chandler has just been diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t what she was expecting, especially after recently losing her father suddenly to the same horrible disease. She doesn’t want to rely too much on her mother, so when her brother’s best friend and long-term family friend Lance Davenport offers to drive her to her appointments she gratefully accepts. She doesn’t expect to develop feelings for Lance, nor to discover that he has been hiding his own feelings for many years.

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Book Review: The Loose Ends List

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The Loose Ends List – Carrie Firestone- Little Brown Books for Young Readers -Published 7 June 2016

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Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O’Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie’s closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie’s plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret “death with dignity” cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way – and give the O’Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness. 

My thoughts

The Loose Ends List is unlike any other book I’ve ever read. It is hilarious, frank, crude, beautiful, honest and so emotional. I know that from reading the summary you can gather that you will need tissues, but seriously. Pack tissues!

Maddie’s family is slightly crazy. They are passionate, fight lots, openly talk about sex and drugs, and swear like troopers. And Maddie’s grandmother is the craziest of the lot. She is Maddie’s favourite person, her confidant and idol. So the news that Grandma Astrid is dying and has booked the whole family on a death with dignity cruise hits them all, especially Maddie, really hard.

The writing in this book is fabulous. The story is crafted to draw you in, shock you and ultimately trap you within its web before you even know you are caught. This book not only discusses dying but euthanasia. This controversial topic is handled with humour and heart. Readers are presented with the argument for euthanasia through the view of the sick and dying, through those looking for dignity in their death, but we also see it through the view of the family who may not be ready to let go (though it’s interesting that no one raises any arguments against euthanasia). These themes and the level of coarse language and sexual content make this a book for mature readers (to the point that some readers may find the extensive sex jokes and references offensive), but it remains a very topical book.     Continue reading