The Book Charmer

by Karen Hawkins

Jane, a softhearted child who loved animals, cried at the thought of all the thirsty farm animals. As her tears fell, clouds gathered, and it began to rain. From then on, every time Jane cried, it rained. It was said that whenever local farmers wanted it to rain, they would bring Jane onions. And when they wanted sunshine, they brought her cake.

(From page 1)

I loved the way this book began! It had a whimsical fairytale-like aura that was charming. After a few pages, I was hooked. In 2001, The eccentric youngest of 7 daughters who loves the library discovers a grouchy old 18th-century book about the history of her town that is demanding she read it. Literally. I loved the way she just took this in stride and even would not let the book boss her around. There was even a promise of future romance in an exchange with an awkward schoolmate who overhears her answering back to the book. And it turns out that at least some of her sisters also have special powers. I was thinking “Oh, Great! more to come once the intriguing Sarah’s story is told!–Lot’s of possibilities!” Then we meet Grace, a hostile young girl, seeming unrelated, trapped in the foster system whose only care is protecting her beloved and beautiful younger sister. She is finally taken in by her “last chance”: a feisty, wise, no-nonsense woman who strangely seems to take to her, instead of her pretty and seemingly sweet sister. This was all in the prologue.

Unfortunately, starting in Chapter 1 when we meet them again as adults, it started to go downhill. Grace turns out to have made a successful career as a financial advisor, her spoiled sister is dead, and she has become the ersatz parent of her 8-year-old niece as well as the parent of her parent, “Mama G”, who has Alzheimer’s. The depiction of that tragic disease and its effect on the victim and their family was handled beautifully. Not so the depiction of the 8-year-old girl, who acted more like a difficult teenager. Instead of feeling sympathy and caring about Grace’s growth from an angry closed off sour old biddy, I just didn’t like her. Plus, she is not an old biddy, she is only around 25 years old. That just didn’t track with me. Actually, how she overcame her difficult childhood with the help of Mama G would have been an involving journey. But I still liked and was interested in Sarah. Unfortunately, she devolved into a side character and her “book charmer” capabilities were only a sidelight and a catalyst to Grace’s story.

At about a third of the way through the book, it got very slow and dull. And though I kept reading, it lost me. And the reason was the writing. The author kept circling back and going over old territory without doing much to advance the plot and deepen the character development. It’s as if she was circling back to ensure understanding like she was a 4th-grade teacher whose class is not keeping up. We got it the first time, Karen Hawkins: Grace has a lot of anger, She does not want to be friends with anyone, Daisy is struggling, Sarah is nice and wants to be friends because she believes Grace is the key to saving the town. Travis is hot, a good guy, damaged, and he and Grace are fighting their mutual attraction but are meant to be, even though Grace is determined to move back to Charlotte.

**spoiler**

It picked up a bit when Grace unraveled the town’s neglect of finances, took the negligent townspeople by the scruffs of their necks, and reconstituted the beloved Apple Festival to revitalize the town. She also did a 180 personality-wise. After all the turmoil and hurt feelings she is turned around after a short conversation with Kat, the local femme fatale. After the build-up to the all-important festival which took over more than half the book, we don’t even get to go! She skipped right over it! I was also grateful (yes, grateful) that we didn’t get any more of Grace’s determination to leave town once her neighbors saved Mama G’s life, made Daisy a nice little girl, and brought her love and friendship. **end spoiler**

I won’t go into the idyllic southern town where black people go to the same 2 churches as their white friends. And a prominent character, Zoe, looks like a “black Audrey Hepburn” whose family owns the bank and is so powerful and popular that the Mayor lives in fear that she will run for office because she would win in a landslide. The other black person that we get to know a little is Aunt Jo who has a dog named “Moon Pie”. I’m just not going to go there. I looked up Karen Hawkins’ biography because I was sure she had never been within two states of the South. I guess Tennesee is really different? I liked the magical realism when it popped up from time to time, but I’m not sure feeding into this kind of fantasy of what it is like in small-town southern America is helpful. It would be wonderful, but unfortunately not remotely recognizable.**a rounded up 3 stars**

Rating: 3 out of 5.

December 16, 2021

Well Met

By Jen DeLuca

I’m gonna be the best damn wench he’s ever seen.”

Emily, who has been recently dumped by her long-term boyfriend, goes to her sister’s small Maryland town to assist in her recovery from a bad auto accident. Her sister can hardly walk and she is there to help. The small town is famous for the annual renaissance faire that is put on as a fundraiser for the school. Emily gets roped into it because her niece Caitlin wants to participate but can’t do so without an adult partner. Signing up, she and the head of the fair, Simon Graham strike sparks off of each other right away. He is a micromanaging and controlling “my way or the highway” type of guy. He doesn’t like how she filled out her form. He doesn’t like the “faire name” she picked out. He keeps giving her hostile and disapproving looks. Later, he seems to look down on her when she tells him she dropped out of college. What she doesn’t tell him is that she put her ex-boyfriend through law school with the understanding it would be her turn after he passed the bar. He cruelly dumped her before he could honor his promise. ( He should have paid her back, surely? I mean wow.) He makes her feel the same way her ex did: small and inadequate.

Can this romance be saved? Well yes. We learn the sad reason that Simon is resistant to changing the faire in any way and why he initially resents her light-hearted approach. It doesn’t hurt that he intriguingly seems to be another person and much more friendly to her, once he puts on his swashbuckling pirate costume. As Emily comes to understand him, they give way to their attraction, and a serious love affair ensues. There is the inevitable big conflict and both Emily and Simon have some changing and growing to do before the happy ending can occur.

I was initially attracted to this book because of the Renaissance Faire angle. I’ve been to at least 5 so far and I’m a big fan. Emily’s first-person voice is funny and likable. It is a light fun book with only some mild challenges to overcome (Molly needed to learn her worth, and Simon needed to let go of the past, move forward, and be his own man.) It didn’t completely ruin the book for me, but the one fly in the ointment was Emily’s paranoia and insecurity about Simon and her job at the book shop. It happened late in the book and at that point, there was no foundation for her to feel that way. In fact, it was made crystal clear to her that just the opposite was true. It was tiresome.

There are two follow-ups so far. The 3rd one starring Emily’s sister looks promising as her repression and anti-social tendencies made her an interesting character, ripe for development.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

December 10, 2021

The Bookshop of Second Chances

By Jackie Fraser

This time last year we went away. We stayed in a tiny cottage near Rye. Our eighteenth Valentine’s. We drank champagne and sat in front of an open fire and said things like, “Still here, then!” and told each other we loved each other. I think one of us may have been lying.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book written in the present progressive tense before: Mrs. McCain smiles at me. “I’ll let him know you’re here. Have a seat.” I haven’t time to, though, as the door on my left is opening and here’s Alistair Gordon, hand out in greeting. “Mrs. Mottram. It’s good to finally meet you.” Once I got over trying to figure out how Thea, our heroine, is able to tell her story while it is actually happening, I quite enjoyed it. 43-year-old Thea is trying to recover from the pain of her recent separation from her adulterous husband of almost 20 years and the loss of her job. When she gets a letter telling her that her Uncle Andrew has left her a cottage and a book collection in his will she feels that this is just the break she needs. She jumps at the chance to go to Scotland for a time to get a fresh start.

As she settles into the small community and starts making friends, she decides she quite likes it and decides to get a job and stay a little longer. She convinces the obnoxious, rude, and anti-social bookstore owner to take her on, despite the warnings of her new friends. She is confident she can handle him. And, thanks to her sense of humor, she is right. They work well together, Thea increases the store’s sales with some creative marketing and takes charge of developing more of an online presence on social media. A single woman, a quaint bookstore, and a picturesque town. It’s practically a genre. Soon it is evident to the reader, the town, and everyone except Thea that the curmudgeonly but very attractive Edward has fallen head over heels in love with her. And Thea is not indifferent.

After things finally come to an emotional head, Edward being Edward fires her. She is devastated. This turning point happens with plenty left to go in the book. Why did he do that? Why did he renounce their friendship? What is the bitter feud with his brother, the laird, about? Why did Edward, the older brother, renounce his title and lands and open a bookstore to make his living? Will Thea go back home to Sussex or will they be reconciled? What about her husband Chris? I loved that we are not kept in suspense for long. 

**Spoiler**

Edward comes to terms with his feelings very quickly and they become a couple. Thea learns to navigate the challenges of their very different backgrounds and values. But once they declare their love there is no doubt that when regretful Chris visits her having second thoughts that Thea is in no danger of going back to him. Thea’s home and new life is with Edward in Scotland.

**end spoiler**

By the end of the book, we realize just what a force of nature Thea has become. She is quite a different woman from the one who came to the little town, and miserable Edward is a new man. Her future is bright and is to be envied.

This is a funny, warm and romantic story with great character development, lots of atmosphere, not a lot of plot, but with some suspense and drama thrown in. I enjoyed alternating between reading and listening to the story on Audible.
**3 1/2 stars**

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

December 20, 2021

The Party Crasher

by Sophie Kinsella

This weekend,” she says, sotto voce. “It’s mad. It’s the maddest ever party, ever.” “Agreed.” “I can’t believe you’ve stayed hidden this long,” she adds. “You must want to leap out and say, Surprise!” “Nope,” I say. “Not even a tiny part of you?” I try to imagine Krista’s face if I popped up from under the brunch table, brandishing a pair of cheerleader’s pom-poms, yelling, It’s me! I mean, it would be quite funny. Until the recriminations and carnage began.

There’s a moment of silence—then I lift my chin firmly and walk into Greenoaks. Effie Talbot is in the house.

This book was a pure joy. It’s not deep, there are no serious issues tackled unless you count the importance of family and keeping the lines of communication open (hardly an uncommon message in chick lit, or women’s fiction if you will, or, OK, just fiction) I teared up a couple of times near the end, but it was hardly heart-rending. But it was one of those books that I not only enjoyed but made me happy. It took me back to those rare times when reading a book just engulfed me. Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt when I was a pre or young teen, Barbara Michaels, Georgette Heyer a little later, and recently, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Effie as well as her brother and sister, have been estranged from their father since his divorce from their beloved stepmother and his new relationship with the avaricious but sexy schemer, Krista. To her horror, she learns the two are selling their huge, quirky, and beloved childhood home. Krista is throwing a big “House-cooling” Party, to which Effie, who has been Krista’s main antagonist, was not properly invited.

She decides to secretly infiltrate the party to save a precious childhood treasure. She hides in attics, secret alcoves, under tables, and behind bushes, all the while observing and listening to all of the goings-on. She learns a lot and is eventually aided by her sister and brother and her ex, Joe, her first love who broke her heart. The set-up is genius. It promises adventure, suspense, comedy, ah-ha! and oh no! moments, and romance. It delivers on all counts. And of course, we have some twists and surprises for the reader as well as Effie. All of the beautifully realized characters have their stories which, needless to say, all come to satisfying resolutions. It’s one of those books that you want to read slower so it will last but just can’t help just gobbling up. I think I need to add a special shelf on GoodReads for books like these.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

November 11, 2021

Battle Royal (Palace Insiders #1)

by Lucy Parker

Sylvie had seen dozens of his own, incredibly expensive cakes in his London bakery. His preferred color palette covered a diverse range from white to ivory. Sometimes he really pushed the boat out and ventured into the realms of cream. Once at a black-tie event, she’d spotted a De Vere cake on the banquet table that actually had gold accents, and assumed he was either extremely unwell or suffering an early-onset midlife crisis….He went in for elegant minimalism. She rarely saw an object that couldn’t be improved with sequins.

A strong ending can make up for a lot. I had just finished my first book by this author on audio, and I was thinking that I would probably enjoy her next novel more if I legit read it instead of listening to it. I was a little disappointed. I liked the plot and the subplots and the characters. Her dialogue was again sharp and witty. Unfortunately, it turned in to be a bit of a slog through the middle. It wasn’t the surfeit of plots. There was a lot going on, sure, but I like that in a light romance. In addition to the main courtship between the two opposites attract bakers, there was the competition on the baking show they were judging, the relationship between the princess and her unusual fiancé for whom our leads are designing their wedding cakes, the fraught relationship between the hero and his little sister who has just re-entered his life, the tragic love story of the princess’s beloved late uncle whom she wants to be honored in the design of their cake, the quest to duplicate the taste of the groom’s favorite drink from a rival café. There’s also a mystery to solve, a stalker to deal with, and some cloak and dagger shenanigans into the mix. And also a beloved friend who is secretly dealing with unrequited love.

So that was all OK. What held me back and slowed me down was Lucy Parker’s writing style. Which I guess was disguised by the audio narration? Her sentences are sometimes convoluted, incomplete, or incoherent. I ran into a lot of non-sequiturs and tense problems. I had to constantly re-read for understanding. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Sylvie seriously hoped that Abbey Hall could provide a metaphorical key, turn an elusive shade into a personality and a soul with hopes and dreams and loves.

I mean why not just say “she hoped that Abbey Hall could provide the key to turning an elusive shade into…”

“Does it make you uncomfortable when I . . .” Seemed to be increasingly drawn to reach out to him—and with nothing casual about it. Why not add a question mark and subject to make it two full sentences?

or


Because Sylvie’s brain was frequently a complete twat, what popped into her head then was a limerick she’d heard at her local pub. It involved both Rosie’s grandfather and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s penis, and might as well be subtitled “How to Hand Dominic This Entire Contract in One Smutty Poem.” In lieu of that option, she went with Thought B. “Our initial meeting was understandably kept well under wraps. And very separate.” She emphasized the last word.

Huh?

That he’d let people who’d long since lost his respect, let alone any chance at love, leave even the smallest scar. And that he couldn’t deny it had chipped something away from even the most casual of his other relationships. That voice when he was with her? Not gone. But so quiet right now as to be almost negligible.

I don’t mind quirky, but she sometimes seems to be trying too hard. Reading the book often felt like I was driving down a peaceful country road, but just kept having to go over speedbumps and avoid potholes. But I still kept driving! I didn’t turn off. I just had to stop at a rest area or two before I continued. I still like her, I mostly enjoy her plots, characters, and the romance. I am looking forward to more books in the two series by her I have started.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

November 3, 2021 (My birthday!)

The Austen Playbook (London Celebrities #4)

By Lucy Parker

Set in the glittering world of London’s West End theatre and a country estate, this is a sparkly, light, and frothy romance between a scary theatre critic and one of his frequent targets, an actress who comes from a long line of theatrical leading lights. Freddy Carlton, our bubbly light-hearted heroine is torn between wanting to please her illustrious father, who wants her to be a “serious” actress like her grandmother, and her own love of musical romantic comedies, the genre in which she shines.

When she accepts a role in a new interactive live TV production called The Austen Playbook behind her father’s back, it throws her together with her nemesis, James Ford-Griffin, because it is to be filmed at a private theatre on his family’s estate. Not only has he been very rude when reviewing her serious dramatic performances but their grandparents had an affair that did not end well and the two families have been enemies since.

Taking an equal stage with the satisfying “opposites attract” romance, are numerous other plots, seamlessly woven together. We have family drama and reconciliation, imminent financial disaster, a plagiarism scandal that threatens to bring down a family and their legacy, professional rivalries, and many more!

This book was just delightful. The romance was solid and well-paced, the dialogue sparkling and witty, and the plotting intriguing and intelligent. The theatre-world setting seemed authentic. There was a lot going on, but each character and story were given their due with plenty of suspense, mystery, and tension as well as romance. Lucy Parker is definitely on my radar. This is my first book by her, and I am quite excited.

I listened to this on audio, read at breakneck speed by Billie Fulford-Brown. Take a tip from me and turn the speed down to 90% so you can keep up.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

October 24, 2021

The Woman in the Middle

By Milly Johnson

Shay had too much of a past history of being honourable, a good girl who flew under the radar so she wouldn’t upset any more applecarts, who stood in the shadows propping up those who wanted to stand in the sun.
But Mrs Nice Guy was having a day off today.

Milly has done it again! Shay is a wife and mother of two grown children and is in her mid-forties. She is also caring for her beloved mother who, though she lives alone, is in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s. Shay goes to her house almost every day to do what needs to be done. Her father is in a coma in a care home and Shay visits him faithfully. There is something wrong with her marriage of 24 years. Although everything is OK on the surface, she and her husband have not had sex in months. Her feisty (too feisty)free spirit of a daughter keeps going back to a bad boyfriend and is struggling financially and career-wise. Her sweet and gentle son has given up his art and gotten himself engaged to a controlling older woman. And her sister is a selfish piece of….work.

Shay, who is a lovely woman both inside and out, is in the middle, trying to keep everyone around her afloat with no help from anyone. Yet, though she is put upon, she is not a doormat. (Yay!) She seems like a real person. Someone you could really know, and whose challenges many women will relate to. The reader realizes long before Shay does that her husband is a lost cause and is not worthy of her. We also know that there is a tragic secret in her past that changed the direction of her life and separated her from her first love: a love she still yearns for in unguarded moments. As her mother reaches the end, secrets are revealed which further turn her life upside down. Her marriage is irretrievably broken and Shay goes back to her childhood home to try to heal.

Milly’s style continues to move forward from the template that served her so well for years. Shay is a woman rising like a phoenix from a difficult situation. That is a familiar theme to her readership. But the story is more realistic and her writing is more thoughtful and leisurely. The book is funny and full of lovable and sympathetic characters as well as dastardly villains. Yes, there are moments of high drama and plenty of justice to be meted out, to be sure, but everything is more down-to-earth and not so extreme. There is wit and humor, but very little rambunctious comedy. There is eventually a sweet romance, but it is there only to complete Shay’s journey to a happy fulfilled life.

I love the old Milly-style, but I also love the more evolved Milly. Wherever she goes next, I am there.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

October 23, 2021

Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors

by Sonali Dev

HRH’s take on it was this advice to his children: “This is our home. This country is yours. Take everything you need. Give everything you have. From the beginning of time, humans have migrated. We’ve claimed land and let it claim us. Don’t ever fulfill anybody else’s definition of your relationship with your country. How many generations ago their forefathers got here may be how some people stake their claim, but I stake mine with how much I give. How wholly I love. This place called to me, I’m here, it’s mine. And now, it’s yours.”

I’m a soft touch for novels that are re-imaginings of or sequels to Jane Austen‘s works in film or on the page. I have a soft spot for even ones that are not all that good. This is one of the best ones. Sonali Dev did a masterful job of using P and P as an inspiration for similar themes while making it wholly her own. The looseness of the adaptation worked very well. A reader who enjoys contemporary romance or women’s fiction would enjoy this even if they haven’t read Pride and Prejudice. There are many characters in Dev’s novel that are not in the original and many characters and situations Austen’s classic that are not in Dev’s novel. Yet while they diverge in interesting ways, they also mirror each other in the essentials. There is the prideful, arrogant, but socially inept aristocrat (Trisha), the formidable love interest from a suspect background (DJ), victimized loved ones past and present, the evil opportunist, The cold and powerful head determined to “protect” the family from scandal, and the sweet and good sister. But they are deliciously shuffled up. A few scenarios are faithfully and delightfully reset in today’s times. One of the highlights of Austen’s work and this one as well is when Trisha (Darcy) pours out her heart to DJ (Elizabeth) and is rejected.

“I have absolutely no interest in you, Dr. Raje,” meeting the wild pleas in her eyes…it hadn’t struck her for one instant that he might not lap up her proposition or whatever this was.
“This might baffle you, but despite not being a physician, I do have some pride. Although most certainly not enough to withstand the kind of beating you’re capable of dealing to it. The kind of beating you’ve repeatedly dealt it from the first time we’ve met. You’re right, I value honesty, so I’ll tell you that I make it a practice not to find women who insult me at every opportunity attractive.”
…she looked entirely devastated. Had no one ever denied her anything?

One thing I really liked about it was how the black hero in the book was portrayed. Too often, lately, it seems like authors are using diverse ethnic characters to make a political statement but they are ethnic in looks alone. In one book I read recently, we’re told that the swoony successful love interest looks like Barack Obama, but other than that, he might as well be a white guy. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but it’s like the author wanted points for having a diverse cast of characters but didn’t want to make her mostly white readership too uncomfortable. Kind of like the Hallmark channel checking the boxes. Oh well, baby steps. In this one, Trisha, although “brown” has always had power and privilege. Unlike DJ who knows very well what is probably going to happen if a white cop sees him breaking into his own luxury car.

“Are you laughing because you think you taught me some sort of lesson?” Because he had, he had pulled the world from beneath her feet…DJ had stood there helpless as a cop reached for his gun for no reason other than fear based in prejudice…Trisha didn’t want him to be standing there in that inequitable ocean, unable to do anything about it. She wanted to live in a world where the waves hit everyone the same way, where everyone could choose how they surfed them. Where the only thing that mattered was ability. And she had allowed herself to become oblivious to the fact that they did not live in that world. 

I was not too impressed with the first book I read by Ms Dev. This one also slowed to a crawl in several places. It was repetitive (the constant rhapsodizing about food got old and kind of creepy in places, to me) There were a little too many tangents explored and too much detail which did little to advance the story. But even so, it kept my interest. Sometimes the sentence structure seemed a little off and sentence meaning was a little obscured at first. But this book was a really good novel and a superbly creative riff on Pride and Prejudice. I love books about interesting families and especially ones I have to do a family tree to keep everyone straight. 4 stars for the novel and 5 stars for the Pride and Prejudice connection. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

May 16, 2020

A Bollywood Affair

by Sonali Dev

The concept of this story was unusual and intriguing. Mili was married in India at 4 years old. She hasn’t seen her husband since he lives in America. Now grown, Mili wins a fellowship to study in Michigan and is looking forward to reuniting with her husband. Meanwhile, thinking the marriage had been annulled, her husband has gotten married and has a child. He sends his famous Hollywood director brother to get an annulment from Mili. The possibilities were exciting. Mili was a throw-back to the very early romantic heroines, as was Samir, the bad-boy who at heart was a true knight in shining armor. Yet, because Mili was an Indian and a stranger in a strange land it did not offend my modern sensibilities. Unfortunately, right at about page 100, I lost interest. It became repetitive, the plot was not advanced and it seemed to go around in circles. I still liked the characters, but I got bored, and skipped through the rest of the book to the big reveal, and lingered over an unexpected plot development regarding Samir. However, the comeuppance was ruined by severe over-reaction on the part of our heroine, and not balanced by enough groveling on the part of the hero. A great plot, but a missed opportunity.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

March 4, 2015

One Day in December

By Josie Silver

I listened to this book on audio with Elinor Tomlinson reading the main protagonist Laurie’s part. She did a great job but boy her voice is very posh. The reader who voiced Jack was good too, but for some reason, I didn’t think the timbre of his voice matched the character. But that’s just me. Not his fault.

This was a good love story and well written. I was attracted to the story because something similar happened to me once except we were in cars, not at a bus stop. Nothing came of it. We never met. The ending was very happy for the two main characters and almost made up for the problems I had with the story. It was very cinematic. I can just see it as a movie scene in my mind’s eye. Since this was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick, It just may be a film someday, although it would probably be a little difficult given the limited plot. I almost feel it is more of a love story between two best girlfriends rather than a romance.

Now, my problems. Throughout a lot of the story our hero, Jack, behaved badly. Cringingly so. The man Laurie married was such a good guy and behaved with amazing trust, maturity, and patience. He also loved her so much. He would make a great hero in his own book.

**spoiler**

As far as her relationship with her husband, Oscar, she was hypocritical and stubbornly self-deluded. she made a conscious decision to marry (“I choose you, Oscar, every day.”–or words to that effect) Nice words, Laurie. Too bad you didn’t walk the walk. Having chosen Oscar, and made her vows, she decided not to continue with the marriage on the lamest of excuses. She betrayed him and her vows in her heart. I felt like she was casting around for an excuse to divorce him and Oscar’s promotion and permanent transfer to Brussels full time just fell into her hands and boy did she pounce on it. She didn’t want to admit to herself that she was in the wrong and a less than sterling character. Or the author did not want to paint her in that light, I should say. I feel like Ms. Silver wrote herself into a corner in that she could not split them up without contradicting their established characters, or something tragic happening. The excuse that Laurie did not want to move to Brussels with him was so phony and lame. I can’t help but think she, indeed, was setting him up for a sequel. In my opinion, killing him off certainly would have ticked all the boxes as a solution to getting Jack and Laurie back together. This was a big problem with me, but another problem I had was with the temporary estrangement between Sarah and Laurie. I think Sarah really over-reacted and skipping out on Laurie’s wedding where she was maid of honor was really despicable and over the top. It just didn’t ring true. Their reconciliation was largely “off-screen,” thus missing an opportunity for some good emotional drama and tears. As such, it was very anticlimactic.

**end spoiler**

So, Ms. Josie Silver, I have told you the problems with the book and even told you how they could have been corrected. Now the least you can do is write a sequel featuring Oscar’s love story. Then all will be forgiven!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

February 15, 2019