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23 August 2016

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two) of a book being read
now or in the future and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. "
Teaser Tuesday" from Books and
a Beat asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.
26-year-old Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown―and her past―behind for good.
Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina―also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life.
As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love―and her chance at happiness―all over again.

Wow. Susan Bishop Crispell absolutely knocked my socks off with The Secret Ingredient of Wishes. No, she didn't knock my socks off. She ripped them off my feet, slapped me around with them a bit, then lovingly replaced them with even cozier and fuzzier socks and tucked me in under the blankets with a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. That's far more accurate.

As soon as I read the description on Netgalley I knew that I would need to read it. I immediately got the same warm and fuzzy feeling that I get from rewatching Pushing Daisies.
Credit: Bustle
This is mostly Rachel's story. Poor Rachel who can grant wishes just by reading them off of magical slips of paper that appear once the wish has been made -- including her own. When she was young she made a wish that ended up destroying her family and she vowed to never grant another one. It isn't that easy, though, since she couldn't always avoid reading the little slips. When her goddaughter makes a birthday wish that is accidentally granted (in an oh-so-comical way), Rachel packs her car and runs as far as she can go -- and ends up nowhere. 

Actually, she ends up IN Nowhere, North Carolina -- "home of the world's largest lost and found." 
She's taken in by Catch, an elderly spitfire who can bind secrets into pies and have them forgotten when eaten. And everyone knows and accepts it. It's just one of the quirks of Nowhere. 

Life in Nowhere is ... different. It's funny and sad and sweet. It's, for lack of a better word, magical. More than once I had to wipe a tear from my eye from laughing so hard only to turn the page and wipe another one away in empathy. It's a roller coaster ride of emotions. Just as Rachel finds something resembling happiness she hits a sharp turn. Over. And. Over. And through it all she has the support of Catch, her best friend back in Knoxville, her new friend/boss, and the hunky backyard neighbor.

Catch absolutely made this book for me with her spunk and her advice and her nicknames and the way she rides the emotional roller coaster of life -- embracing the highs and lows and encouraging those around her to do likewise.
Credit: Buzzfeed
And she makes the most amazing sounding pies! 

I'm not sure if this is going to be our only visit to Nowhere, but I hope that it isn't. It stands on its own beautifully but could also be the catalyst for an amazing series. 

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes is being published on September 6, 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books (an offshoot of St Martin's Press). I received my copy from the publishers for free via NetGalley ... although I'm seriously considering purchasing a hardcover copy anyway. I enjoyed it that much.

21 August 2016

Rambling About.. Charlotte Fallowfield's Until We Collide

I admit that when I started to read Charlotte Fallowfield's Until We Collide that I was a bit "meh" over it. When it opens Paige Taylor is seventeen years old and completely smitten with Alec Wright who is four years older, absolutely gorgeous, and dating somebody else. She won't even consider dating anybody else because they aren't him even though he's unavailable.


I get the whole young infatuation thing but it's totally not what I signed up for when I got the book.

But. BUT.... then we fast forward a year and Alec is available and interested in Paige. He takes her to her final school ball and just as she thinks that she's finally getting what she wanted in life she's offered an amazing job opportunity that will take her away from England and Alec.

And thus begins a cycle of collisions and near misses that made me laugh, made me mad, and quite possibly made me shed a tear or two.

I took turns wanting to smack Paige and Alec over the decade-plus span of the book (30 years, actually, from the beginning to the epilogue). The two just never seemed to be able to get it together and it started to drive me crazy. Sure, I thought that she was more than a bit ridiculous at the beginning, as so many seventeen year olds are, but through the years she grew on me and so did he. It helped that through it all we also had the support of Paige's oldest friend, Poppie, and Alec's old friend (who then becomes Paige's friend and mentor), Jean-Luc. They helped to lighten the mood when needed -- and to bring some clarity and stability to the otherwise craziness that was Paige and Alec's relationship. And, of course, there's also Daisy ... but you'll have to read it yourself. Nothing I say could do justice.

Between the laughs and the tears Until We Collide ended up being totally unexpected and absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend it to rom-com lovers and give an easy 5 stars for this delightfully heartbreaking comedy of errors.

19 August 2016

Nice Day for a White Wedding by A. L. Michael (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice (today I'm using page 56 on my epub)
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader
Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.
These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancĂ©. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts of herself behind?

Last week when I was teasing and rambling about the first book in the series, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday, I mentioned that at the time I wasn't so sure about Chelsea but was holding out hope for her. Well, by the end of that book I had warmed up to her a bit and right now I'm absolutely loving Chelsea ... and I totally get why it was kind of necessary that I spent so much time being unsure of her.

Poor Chelsea. She spent so much time and effort trying to put her past behind her and become new and improved and polished. She fell in love with Kit and readily accepted when he proposed, but he still didn't know about the "real" Chelsea's past and when they went off to visit his family (including his dragon of a mum), it all felt like it was falling down around her ears. Add to it the recent release of her ex-con father and worrying about her younger siblings and, well, just poor Chelsea.

Everything that I loved about the first book is here -- the humor, the heartache, the amazing flashbacks. We're only a few days away from it being published and then there will be at least one more to follow. And then I'll likely cry because I've grown to love these girls so dang much.