Monday, 10 May 2021

Worth the Weight

Finished May 4 
Worth the Weight by Mara Jacobs

This is the first book in a romance series that is now up to eight novels. They take place in the Copper Country area of Michigan. The main character here is Lizzie Hampton. Lizzie grew up in this area, but left years ago for college and then made a career in PR, now running her own agency representing sports figures and celebrities. She is good at what she does, but her personal life is not such a success. She hasn't had a serious romantic relationship, and in fact, her last relationship was in high school. 
But a few years ago Lizzie met someone she thinks she might find a future with and so she made a plan. A plan that involved her losing a ton of weight and getting her body into shape again. It also involved her getting comfortable with that body, especially in an intimate situation.
Her body shows its past, and Lizzie isn't sure that she can deal with that, so she decides to hunt down her old high school boyfriend and test her newfound body out on him. After all, he always wanted her, but she held out back then. 
Finn Robbins still lives in her old hometown, and he's divorced, but as Lizzie soon discovers when she renews their relationship, he came out of the marriage with two children. He is also facing challenges with the medical condition with one of his kids and his life has revolved around them and doing what he needs to get his daughter the help she needs. 
Lizzie's organizing and PR skills kick in and before she knows it, she's more deeply involved with this family than she ever planned or expected. Along with her two best friends, Katie and Alison, she makes her plan reality, but has to figure out if her plans have changed. 
A fun read, with a sympathetic and relatable heroine. 

The Finders

Finished May 2 
The Finders by Jeffrey B. Burton

This mystery story is centered around dog handler Mason (Mace) Reid. He lives in the suburbs of Chicago and owns several dogs that he has trained as cadaver dogs. He subcontracts to the police as the main part of his work, but also runs some dog training classes. 
The story has two preludes. One is of a woman being kidnapped, and the other is of a police officer and her partner responding to a call from a concerned neighbour that results in a case of carbon monoxide poisoning and a puppy that has survived against all odds.
Jumping forward, Mace has taken on the dog and trained her, now named Viro, as a cadaver dog. But she seems to have extraordinary senses around her work and her very first case leads to an unfortunate incident and the discovery of a kidnapper. 
But there is an even darker criminal associated with this case in a loose way, and he has taken a personal dislike to Mace that leads to entrapment and murders.
I liked the character Mace, with his real love for his four dogs. He is living close the edge financially and needs his work to make ends meets for him and his dogs. He is divorced and just starting to get interested in a new relationship, so when he meets a police officer that also has an interest in Viro, he begins to have hope for a future. The officer, Kippy, isn't ready for a relationship, but she is interested in Viro's abilities and in the case that seems to have Mace as a target. She is an intelligent and driven officer, putting in the extra work. 
This book is the first in a new series featuring Mace and his dogs. I look forward to seeing more of some of the police officers that appeared here as well. 

Sunday, 2 May 2021

May Reviews for the 14th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge

Two more months to go for this challenge. How are you doing. I've done more Canadian books this year than I did last, but still have so many I want to read.

Use the linky to add links to the reviews for books read in May. Please link to the review itself. 

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Girl A

Finished April 30
Girl A by Abigail Dean

This was a novel that I couldn't stop reading. Girl A, real name Alexandra or Lex, is at a women's prison in England as the book opens, called there to meet with prison authorities. Her birth mother was incarcerated there and has named Lex, her oldest daughter as the executor of her will. Lex must decide whether she wants to take on this burden.
Lex now lives in New York City and travels all over the world for her job in corporate acquisitions. She loves the work and is good at it. She hasn't seen her siblings in years. One isn't even aware of his birth family. 
The book gradually reveals what happened to this family and the children who were traumatized by their experience. There were four boys and three girls in the family. They lived in a small town in a house remote from others. The abuse started with control and slowly, so slowly escalated to some of them being chained in their rooms. Girl A was the one who escaped, the one who brought help that freed the others. She was the one that led to them all starting with other families. 
Now she must talk to them all to get them to agree on what happens to what their mother left behind. The house they were held captive in, and a small amount of money. 
Lex and Edie have an idea to repurpose the house to give it a new and better meaning. But can she convince the others? 
This is a book that reveals its story gradually, with chapters for each child that Lex meets with, labelled with their assigned letter and their real name. There are some missing and we find out why. Each one has a story, some worse than others. This is a story of love gone wrong, of psychological and physical abuse, and of recovery. Lex got lucky with the couple that took her in, and with the psychologist, Doctor Kay, who was assigned to her. She doesn't like to look back, but she must now. 
Her oldest brother is getting married soon too, and that event also lurks on the horizon. Will she go? How will she react to that. 
This is a story masterfully told. So well done.

Read Men Knit

Finished April 29
Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

This romance book is centered around two twenty-year-somethings that have known each other since childhood, but face a major loss in their lives by coming together. Jesse Strong is the youngest of four adopted brothers, held together by the strength of their mother and their shared family. With their mother, known to all the neighbourhood as Mama Joy, suddenly passes away, he must join his brothers in figuring out what is next. 
They grew up in an apartment above the knitting store run by Mama Joy, and were all taught to knit at a young age, finding comfort and discipline in the act of creativity. The oldest brother, Damien, has launched his career as a financial analyst in the world of investment and keeps his old bedroom mainly as a closet for his upstyle wardrobe. The next two brothers, real half-brothers, Lucas and Noah, have just begun their careers, Lucas as a firefighter and Noah in the world of dance. The apartment is still a base for them even though they don't spend all their nights there. Jesse hasn't settled yet, either in his career choice or in his personal life. He is a bit of a player, and hasn't stayed in any one job too long.
One mainstay in the knitting store has been Kerry Fuller. Kerry has been working part-time in the store, as the only employee for years and even though she has now finished her degree in children's counselling and art therapy and works part-time at the community centre, she finds it hard to leave the knitting store. 
As Jesse fights to keep the store open and viable and keep the home they have above it, the brothers rely on Kerry to help them learn what they need to know to give the store a fresh start with the ideas that Jesse brings to it. Will this major life event mark a change in Jesse's life for the better, and what will Kerry's future bring her?
This is a story of love and loss, of learning and growing, of finding common ground and families coming together through adversity. The only thing missing for me was a knitting pattern. This book cried out for one to be included. There is humour and sadness, but an overall sense of hope for the future, for the main characters, and the community as a whole. 

The Healing

Finished April 27
The Healing by Lynda Faye Schmidt

This novel draws from the author's real life experiences, featuring the fictional character Cate Henderson, starting just as she's leaving her abusive husband and starting a new life. She leaves Calgary and stays for a few months in her daughter's home on Vancouver Island while her daughter and son-in-law are overseas. While there, she focuses on her own mental and physical health and finds herself drawn to a man visiting family. While Cate cares strongly about all three of her children, they are now adults and have their own lives. Celeste is settled in B.C. with her husband. Dana is still living a life of exploration and adventure, and Taylor is starting university. 
The new man in Cate's life has her moving to parts of the world she never considered before, and adds another adult child to her life. 
This is a book that explores mental health challenges, physical health challenges, and the risks and rewards of new relationships and new places to live. It is the story of a woman starting a new period of her life, focusing on her own health and her own needs for really the first time in her life.
That is not to say that she doesn't respond to the needs of her children, but that she achieves a balance to her life that she hasn't had before.
This is a novel of hope.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Guest Post by Lynda Faye Schmidt, author of The Healing

Guest Blog for Canadian Bookworm

I'd like to welcome Lynda to the blog on the occasion of her first book which launched yesterday. Below she'll share with you the inspiration for the book and I'm including a link to the publisher site for more information. It seems very apt to do this on International Book Day. Pick up a book and celebrate.



By Lynda Faye Schmidt

What Inspired Me to Write ‘The Healing.’ 

I’d been on a healing journey for more than twenty years before I’d acquired enough insight and wisdom to write The Healing

In my early thirties, the challenge of being in an abusive relationship with someone who suffered with chronic depression had me desperate for a lifeline. I devoured self-help books, did an authenticity dig, and went for counselling as part of my survival kit.

Fast forward ten years and I was even deeper in the muck. Despite all the work I’d been doing, I was still in that relationship, but refusing to admit how toxic it was. I went into a deep, suicidal depression. It took a five-day stint in a mental health ward to kick things off in the right direction and over a year of intense therapy that included medication and counselling before I rediscovered the will to live.

Lucky for me, I had close relationships with my family and a fulfilling teaching career that kept my light burning even in the midst of escalating verbally and sexually abusive behaviours from my husband. I deepened my self-awareness and mindfulness practices, and it wasn’t long before I realized that I could never find what I was yearning for until I loved myself enough to leave him.

That’s when things took off in new and seemingly limitless directions, and where the story of The Healing begins.

I had always dreamed of being a writer someday, but life seemed to take me in different directions until I started to live a life that honoured and respected who I am. It is my belief that my true heart’s-desire to be a writer could never manifest as long I was living somebody else’s version of who and how I should be. 

It didn’t happen overnight. It was a long journey to get here. I started scribbling poetry in the back of elementary school exercise books. Over the years, I’ve filled a massive pile of journals, written some children’s books for my kids, and drafted stories from snippets to full-length novels. I’ve received a pile of rejection letters. I had one disastrous quasi-publication experience with a shyster, but I never let go of my dream. 

In 2012, I scratched out the first five pages of The Healing, then promptly forgot them amongst the distractions of health challenges and my move to the Middle East. I created my blog, Musings of an emotional creature. I was a contributor for DQ Living magazine. Then, I recovered those first five pages of The Healing and wrote my first draft. I shared my accomplishment with my friend Danielle, who gave me Anne O’Connell’s contact information. After a query and exchange, a Covid-19 lockdown and a total re-write, The Healing is ready to be launched in April of 2021.

My hope is that people will be inspired by The Healing to begin the work of discovering their own unique journey into wellness. Whatever their personal challenge, I hope that reading my book will encourage others to endure the lows and enjoy the highs, to trust the process of life, and to know, without question, that they matter. Whatever struggles life brings, they will pass. And it is in braving the struggle that we find our strength.