Sunday 15 July 2018

Hometown Cowboy

Finished July 15
Hometown Cowboy by Sara Richardson

This is the first in a series of romance novels set in Topaz Falls, Texas. Jessa runs an animal rescue center started by her father. Though her parents never married, and lived apart, Jessa was close to both of them. She got her vetererinarian degree, and then her MBA in preparation for working with her dad and making the center a success. But just before she came on board, he died of a heart attack. Her dad's best friend, Luis Cortez has been great. helping out at the center and treating her like the daughter he never had. Jessa had spent summers with her dad, and loved to hike the Cortez ranch and the mountains around it. She's spent a lot of time doing that with Luis.
Another thing that Jessa has always wanted was a family, and she's been engaged but things have never worked on. After her last boyfriend, and major funder of the rescue, dumps her rather publicly, she engages her friends in helping her get together a new look to engage with the community and find new funders. She says she done with men for now.
Lance Cortez is working hard to take the top medal at the upcoming World Bull Riding championships, and he's been focused on his career for years. He's also not a fan of marriage ever since his mother left his father, him, and his two younger brothers when he was only fourteen. After an arson incident, his middle brother, Lucas, went to jail, and his younger brother, Levi, soon left for the high life of rodeo.
When Lance's training is interrupted by a worried ranch worker telling him his father never came home from the hike he went on yesterday, Lance seeks out Jessa to see if she knows where his father might have gone. He's never really paid much attention to Jessa, but now he really sees her for the first time, and he must adjust his view of her. As he feels drawn to her despite his lack of experience of or interest in relationships, Jessa must fight against her own feelings to stay true to her dreams.
I liked the family aspects of the book, with Luis and his sons, and the other ranch workers. I also liked the close group of girlfriends that Jessa found when she came to town.
A light romance with some pretty hot scenes. Good start to a new series.

I Let You Go

Finished July 13
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, read by Nicola Barber and Steven Crossley

This suspense and mystery novel unveils things gradually, so you aren't really sure what is happening until part-way through the book, and even then not everything is clear until the end.
The book opens with a terrible scene. A mother is walking her young son home from school, and the day is gray and rainy. As they come to the last street before home, the boy lets go of her hand and rushes to beat her home, but a car comes, seemingly out of nowhere and hits him. It does not stay at the scene.
DI Ray Stevens, DS Stumpy, and trainee Kate work on the case, following up on a myriad of clues to try to figure out who the driver of the vehicle was. There are lots of tips that must be followed up on, lots of CCTV footage to view from various places nearby, and lots of time needed. But after a few months, no real progress is being made, and the funding for the case is pulled back, making it inactive. The mother feels that people are blaming her for not taking enough care, and she doesn't feel supported by the police, and she decides that she has to go away, away from the memories of her son, and of the blame and guilt.
We now switch to see Jenna Gray quickly packing up her most important possessions and running from Bristol, first by bus, and then walking. She has no clue where she is going. She just has to get away from all the things that remind her of her son and of the accident. She finds herself in a small town on the coast of Wales. There, she rents a small cottage inland, and begins life anew. She is haunted by the accident, having nightmares that wake her screaming, and she secludes herself. The manager of the nearby caravan park, Beth-Ann, who assisted with her finding a place to live, makes some overtures and gradually Jenna begins to come to life again. She takes her artistic leanings in a new direction, and begins to find a quiet way to make enough funds to live on.
The viewpoint switches back and forth between Ray and Jenna until we get to the second half, when a new voice is brought in, one that has big significance to the case.
This is a story of twists and turns, of love and fear, of lives ruined, and of marriages.

American by Day

Finished July 12
American by Day by Derek B. Miller

I really enjoyed Norwegian by Night by Miller, and this is a follow-up book to that one. Set in 2008, shortly after the earlier book ended, but published this year, there are occasional allusions to some of the events of the present, which I enjoyed.
Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has taken a leave after the conclusion of an investigation into the case covered in the earlier book, and finds that instead of relaxing on the family farm, her father is sending her to the United States to look for her older brother, Marcos, who appears to be missing.
Marcos was an adjunct professor at a small college in upstate New York, and Sigrid flies through Iceland, to Montreal, and then on to Watertown.
Sigrid's reactions to her environment, her questions about the things happening around her, and the reactions of those she interacts with are a big part of this book, and a source of humour, insight, and storyline.
When Sigrid arrives she finds that her brother is indeed missing, and that he is connected to the death of a professor at the same college he worked at, a professor he was involved with romantically, and a professor who was African American and wrote and researched race issues. There is another death connected to the professor on a personal level, also race-related, and Sigrid's view of the situation is vastly different than the one the police seem to have.
The sheriff of the area seems like a nice man, but he ignores the media to his peril, and sometimes bends too much to the political pressure of the state authorities. He takes a close watch on Sigrid, asking that they work together, but, as Sigrid envisions a different outcome she isn't always on board with his actions.
This is a story that involves American race relations, politics, the view of "outsiders," mental illness, police relations, motivations, and communication. There is also guilt, perceived and felt, and the search for what is right. A wonderful read.

Joyful Stitching

Finished July 11
Joyful Stitching: Transform Fabric with Improvisational Embroidery by Laura Wasilowski

I was drawn to the cover of this book, the colour and playfulness of the design.
The book provides a brief introduction to free-form embroidery, and then discusses the tools that are needed or helpful and materials that can be used for this work.
The author then shows different methods for transferring designs to embroidery, discussing fabric choice as an element of method choice.
There are then stitch directions for twenty-one different embroidery stitches, using pictures and examples from the projects in the book. The stitches covered are: backstitch; blanket stitch; bullion knot; chain stitch; couching; cross-stitch; ermine stitch; fern stitch, fly stitch; french knots; herringbone stitch; lazy daisy or detached chain stitch; long-and-short stitch; needle weaving; pistil stitch; running stitch; satin stitch; scattered seed stitch; sheaf stitch; stem stitch; and straight stitch.
The book then gives instructions for six different projects, all fun and colourful, with lots of pictures showing the steps through the project. Patterns are included.
Ideas are given for displaying the work and other ideas for more of this type of embroidery.
I found myself inspired by the ideas here, and looking forward to trying some of them myself.

The Last Time I Saw You

Finished July 10
The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

This story follows several people as the prepare for their fourtieth high school reunion. Each has their own reasons for going, and their own expectations of what the night will bring.
Dorothy Shauman is recently divorced, and hopes to finally get her chance with Pete Decker, the high school quarterback. Dorothy was popular in school, but didn't have a ton of friends. The girlfriends from back then are still in touch with her, and will also be attending the reunion. There is much gossip among them about who is going to be there and what each person's marital status is.
Mary Alice Mayhew was bullied in school, but rose above it, trying not to let it affect her. She is recently retired from her job as a researcher, and living in the house that used to belong to her parents. She has made a friendship with the older neighbour next door, Einer, who watched her grow up, was aware of the bullying and insists on going as her escort, in case anyone "tries anything".
Pete Decker has recently separated from his long-suffering wife, and is beginning to realize just what he has lost. He plans to go to the reunion to try to reconnect with his wife, who was his high school sweetheart.
Candy Sullivan was one of the prettiest girls in school, but she didn't date much among the boys in her class. She's been married for years, and lives a life in luxury, but never feels that it fits her that well. When she has a health scare, she insists on going to the reunion alone, taking the time to think about her next steps.
Lester Hessenpfeffer was a smart but nerdy kid, and he goes to the reunion mostly because of the nagging of his office manager who wants to see him move on with his life. He was widowed years ago, and hasn't been interested in relationships since then, except with a mentoring grandfatherly relationship with the girl who lives next door. They share an interest in animals and science. He doesn't have a lot of expectations for the reunion, but has a thought for Candy, wondering what she is like now.
This is a book of memories, regrets, hope, and renewal. Most of them don't get the outcome they expected from the reunion, but they all get something, something that brings a change to their lives.

Monday 9 July 2018


Finished July 5
Restless: A Ghost's Story by Rich Wallace

As the title indicates, this story is told by a ghost. The story takes place in the town of Sturbridge, Pennsylvania, and the central character here is Herbie, a 17-year-old entering his senior year of high school. Up to now, Herbie played soccer, but the new coach doesn't appeal to him, and when he quits the team, the coach slings an insult at him that he couldn't make footfall or the cross-country team, so Herbie decides to do both. There are no rules against it, but it hasn't been done before, and meeting the challenges of both will require a lot of work on Herbie's end. As the year begins, one of his regular runs is through the cemetery, and Herbie's energy draws the attention of a ghost who hasn't been able to move on, Eamon Connelly, a young man who died in 1888, while trying to scale a cliff just below the cemetery late one night. But Eamon isn't the narrator of this story, although he does have a central role.
The narrator is Herbie's brother Frank, who died years ago when he was 17 of lymphatic cancer. Frank hasn't been able to move on either. He also hasn't been able to make himself felt in any way to Herbie, except in Herbie's dreams, even though he spends almost all his time with him.  But things seem to be changing. Herbie actually sees Eamon's ghost that night when he runs, and he begins to wonder, about energy, about life after death, about ghosts, and about many other things.
A couple of years back, Herbie's parents separated and he moves back and forth between them. This is definitely better than when they were together, arguing so much.
As he continues to work hard at school, at his sports, and as he meets a girl that seems to like him as much as he likes her, his interest in his brother and in the ghost he continues to encounter lead him to think hard. But he's not the only one. Frank is also entertaining some ideas that he never considered before, and that just might change everything.
A wonderful story of the need to prove oneself, of the idea of possibilities beyond what has been proven. A story that I truly enjoyed.

12th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge

I'm once again joining this fun reading challenge to read Canadian books.
It is hosted by Melwyk here

I nearly made it to 50 books last year, so even though the challenge is for 13 books, I'm going to try to hit 50.

This should be fun!

11th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

The 11th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge
Hosted by Melwyk here.

The theme was highways and byways, and the goal was to read 13 books.
I read 49

Here are mine:
1. Just Like Family by Kate Hilton. Finished July 1
2. Two Times a Traitor by Karen Bass. Finished July 4
3. The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay. Finished July 5
4. Cottage Cheese Thighs by Jenn Sadai. Finished July 6
5. The Last Wave by Gillian Best. Finished July 12
6. Hunting Houses by Fanny Britt. Finished July 23
7. The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier. Finished July 27
8. Malagash by Joey Comeau. Finished July 29
9. Road Signs That Say West by Sylvia Gunnery. Finished August 1
10. Firing Lines by Debbie Marshall. Finished August 4
11. Winter Child by Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau. Finished August 6
12. Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. Finished August 13
13. All That Man Is by David Szalay. Finished August 17
14. More Than a Lover by Ann Lethbridge. Finished August 18
15. Campbell's Kingdom by Hammond Innes. Finished September 3
16. Slug Days by Sara Leach. Finished September 23
17. Baby Cakes by Theo Heras. Finished September 24
18. The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis. Finished October 1
19. Wild One by Jane Whittingham. Finished October 7
20. Glass Houses by Louise Penny. Finished October 17
21. Purple Palette for Murder by R.J. Harlick. Finished October 21
22. Shallow End by Brenda Chapman. Finished November 8
23. Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley. Finished December 3
24. Timo Goes Camping by Victoria Allenby . Finished December 7
25. The Ghost Orchard by Helen Humphreys. Finished December 15
26. Last Lullaby by Alice Walsh. Finished December 26
27. One Day It Happens by Mary Lou Dickinson
28. Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki
29. A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena. Finished January 14
30. The Finest Supermarket in Kabul by Ele Pawelski. Finished January 26
31. Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer. Finished February 4
32. Flo by Kyo Maclear. Finished February 7
33. Where's Bunny by Theo Heras. Finished February 28
34. Wash On! by Michèle Marineau. Finished March 15
35. Shrewed by Elizabeth Renzetti. Finished March 23
36. The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson. Finished March 23
37. A Troublesome Boy by Paul Vasey. Finished March 28
38. The Prisoner of Snowflake Falls by John Lekich. Finished March 28
39. The Good Liar by Cathering McKenzie. Finished April 7
40. Ben and the Scaredy-Dog by Sarah Ellis, illustrated by Kim LeFave. Finished April 8
41. Roughneck by Jeff Lemire. Finished April 8
42. Things To Do When It's Raining by Marissa Stapely. Finished April 26
43. Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney. Finished April 28
44. Don't I Know You by Marni Jackson. Finished May 4
45. The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley. Finished May 11
46. Sun Dog by Deborah Kerbel, illustrated by Suzanne del Rizzo. Finished May 13
47. Montrose County by Bill Greenwood. Finished May 23
48. Missing Mike by Shari Green. Finished May 27
49. NemeSIS by Susan Marshall. Finished June 29

Then She Was Gone

Finished July 3
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

This suspense novel revolves around Ellie Mack, a bright, pretty, 15-year-old girl who goes missing on her way to the library shortly before her exams, and her mother Laurel Mack, devastated by the unanswered question of what happened to her daughter, Laurel's story begins ten years after her daughter's disappearance, when she finally finds a way to move on.
We go back and forth between Laurel's story, and Ellie's, and sometimes other voices at the moments where their stories cross those of the mother or daughter.
Laurel's marriage to Ellie's father Paul didn't last, and she didn't spend the time on her two older children, Hanna and Jake that they needed, causing distance to grow between her and them. Now that she is ready to move forward, she isn't sure how to start. Enter Floyd, a man near her own age, that she meets in a cafe, and begins a relationship with.
She meets Floyd's daughters, Sara-Jade, a young woman who lives with her mother, and Poppy, a nine-year-old girl older than her years in some ways, and more naive in others. And Laurel begins to reach out to her own children. To Hanna, who has lived quietly alone, spending most of her time at work, and whose apartment Laurel cleans weekly. And to Jake, who lives further away, with his partner Blue, a young woman Laurel barely knows. Laurel also goes to see her mother Ruby, who lives in a nursing home, but still shows Laurel the love and support of a mother,
As the story unravelled, I surmised and suspected parts of the story, but not all of it, and the story is a story of love and want, of sadness and hope. A great read.

Sunday 1 July 2018


Finished July 1
Poison by John Lescroart

This novel is part of a series featuring the lawyer Dismas Hardy. It is the only one that I've read in the series. Hardy has sworn off murder cases after getting shot a year before in connection with a case. But when Abby Jarvis, a young woman that he defended years ago is arrested for the murder of her employer, he feels compelled to take her case.
We see a variety of points of view here, including Eric Waverly, a homicide inspector with the SFPD. Waverly also took a couple of bullets not that long ago, and he's back at work, but the pain is still causing him issues, and he's not dealing with it well on either a professional or a personal level.
As the book begins, Hardy is enjoying the season opening baseball game with his son, and Waverly is attending a reported homicide nearby. The man killed is a young Asian man, and it seems as if he knew his killer.
Abby hasn't been entirely honest with the police, and some of her actions definitely look questionable, but Hardy doesn't believe that she committed the crime she is accused of. He gets his usual investigator, Hunt, to look into other possible suspects, since the police seem to have stopped looking with Abby in jail.
Hardy has a lot of experience, both in the DA's office and as a criminal lawyer, and he has learned to go with his instincts on cases. His daughter is also a lawyer, and his son works for Facebook, and Hardy and his wife are close to both kids. As he learns of his son's connection to a murder case, he also warns him off getting involved.
There are connections all over here, and while I suspected some of them before they were exposed, the novel was still engrossing, and I enjoyed the plot.