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The Midwife's Confession

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When Noelle commits suicide, seemingly out of the blue, her two best friends try to uncover the Noelle they thought they knew. The face Noelle presented to the world was that of midwife, supporter of causes - especially ones involving babies, good friend to Tara and Emerson - was not the true Noelle. For years she has had to deal with the guilt of something she was responsible for - a secret that no one else knew.After finding a partial letter that Noelle had written before she died, Tara and Emerson set out on a path to try to figure out their best friend. The story is told from different points of view, but comes together beautifully. This was a book that I did not want to put down. I thought I had it figured out, but in the end, I was wrong.This is a great book exploring the relationships between mothers and daughters, and between women in general. Again - this would be a great book club pick. If you haven't read anything by Diane Chamberlain - this would be a good place to start!
The Arrivals: A Novel

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This is a debut novel for Mrs. Moore and I for one, cannot wait to see what else she has in store. I enjoyed the interaction this family shared and how they all came home one by one. While we know why they are there, it is revealed to other members of the family slowly. All of the children are wrapped up in their own problems, but at the same time they are able to come to realize that supporting their siblings is important as well. Ginny and William (parents) take it all in stride. I cannot believe the amount of patience they showed. If I am remembering the story correctly, I read this awhile ago, I am not sure that they had any warning that their kids were coming - and they sure weren't expecting them to stay for the summer! Looking back on my own life though, there was a couple of times that I found myself back at my mom's for an extended stay of a month or two and we got along quite well. I hope that in the future I could extend that hospitality to my own kids (of course, they have to move out first!)I enjoyed this book, I do remember that - that it was an easy read - one that I looked forward to getting back into. I think it would be a good book for book clubs as there is lots of discussion material revolving around family relationships, troubles, and how to solve/deal with them.
Summer in the South

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Ava and Will have been friends for many years. He has been inviting her to visit his home since they got out of college. One day he catches her during a crisis and she accepts his invitation to come South and stay with his aunts to work on her novel. She arrives in Woodburn and it is like entering another world. People are friendly and unhurried. Everybody knows everybody's history, and you have to read between the lines of what they say to get to what they really mean. Ava is definitely different. She doesn't dress like the women in the South. She is very direct with what she says. But the biggest difference is that she really doesn't know anything about her family outside of her mother. They traveled a lot when Ava was a child and never really settled down. Her mother told her that her father died when she was ten. I think this is the reason that she becomes so enthralled with the Woodburn family. Their history goes back for generations and the aunts, Josephine and Fanny have kept a lot of it right in the house where she is staying. There are journals and photographs, and they just ignite the writer in her. Somewhere along the way she meets Jake. He is from the "bad" side of the Woodburn family. He looks a lot like Will, but with dark hair and dark eyes. Where she has never really felt an attraction to Will, she feels an attraction to Jake. Jake is also more willing to talk about some of the tragedies in the family's past than Will and his aunts. All of the talk about the family and the mysteries gave this book a very Gothic feel to me. I kept expecting some dark magic to surface to make Ava become posessed with one of the spirits/souls of the older generation. I know, nothing like this happens! There are just times when the spirits seem to come alive in the story. You learn about what really happened in the past through flashbacks. Meanwhile, as Ava is trying to discover what really happened in the past, she finds herself in between Will and Jake and the bad history that they share - which neither is very forthcoming about. I enjoyed this book except for one thing. Ava had sleep paralysis throughout - something she had had as a child. I am not quite sure what to make of those scenes or what we were supposed to take away from them. I do see the possibility for completely new books based on some of the characters from this one though.
Wither (The Chemical Garden, Book 1)

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This was a super dystopian novel that I had a hard time putting down. Rhine shares her world with two sister wives, Cicely (younger) and Jenna (older). The three of them are "married" too Linden - son of the wealthy and devious man. There is no love in the marriages though. Linden only loved his childhood friend Rose who makes a brief appearance in the beginning of the book. He is married to these three by his (evil) father in hopes of procreating. The girls in this time period are not given any choices. They are rounded up by the wealthy and either shot or sold depending on their looks and health. Rhine is kidnapped and leaves behind a brother who has no idea what has happened to her. She is not happy with her marriage but is doing the best she can to cope. She meets Gabriel, a servant in the mansion and they become friends. He is the one thing that she looks forward too.Though the story is mainly about Rhine, Jenna and Cicely are also well-rounded characters. I particularly liked Cicely. For some reason I pictured her as the Kirsten Dunst character in Interview with the Vampire. A grown-up - albeit a spoiled one - in a child's body. I don't think of myself as a fan of dystopian - but every one that I have read I have really enjoyed. I think that I am going to have to start searching them out more! There is a rating of 14 and older for this book, and because of the subject matter that it deals with, I think I would have to agree with that.
52 Ways to Wow Your Husband: How to Put a Smile on His Face

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I have been reading this book for the last week, while trying to keep it hidden from my husband, which I was able to do successfully. Then tonight, I sit down to write this post with the book beside me and my husband comes over and picks it up and says "Have you read this yet?" with a big smile. He then told me I wow him everyday . . :) I just couldn't believe that after I had hid it all week he see's it tonight! But anyway - let me tell you about the book.This book has 52 chapters - (52 weeks) - with a different idea for something special you can do to "wow" your husband. You can get a better idea of this by reading the first chapter below. For me, the book just opened my eyes to how little I know about certain areas of my husband's life. I remember doing all sorts of fun stuff outside the house before our youngest son came along and how quickly our together time has been squashed for family time. Family time is important - but we need to be strong together before we can be strong together as a family. I am going to be spending the next few weeks really paying attention to what my husband does in his free time, what he does to relax, what some of his favorites are - and then I am going to be preparing some "wow" dates. I have already started devising some things I can do in October - as that is the month that we started dating. This book definitely has the ability to draw us closer together, and I am looking forward to it!
Dead of Wynter

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I loved this book. I read it quicker than I have read any book in quite awhile. I literally did not want to put it down. The story jumps back and forth between the present time, when Alice goes back to Redding to be with her family and 1984, which is where the circumstances that drive the present day events started. You get just little bits of the story at a time, some I was able to guess, some not so much. Just when you thought you were going to get some juicy morsel the author would turn the story to make you wait a little longer. The present day story wraps up in just a couple of days, but lots of family secrets are unearthed. Alice thinks she is the only one with anything to hide, but learns that everyone in her family had a secret - some old, some new. She reconnects with an old boyfriend from highschool while she is back in town and is able to eventually heal some wounds that had happened with him. I liked the way the author used the Maine weather to play a role in the story. As the weather intensified, so did the story. The more the snow fell and covered the landscape, the more secrets were unburied. I felt satisfied by the ending and felt like all the loose ends had been wrapped up. Highly recommend this book for anyone who loves mysteries, thrillers, and are fans of good fiction!
Following Polly: A Novel

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This book was a great summer read. I started it while on vacation and finished reading it in the car on the way home. Normally I can only read for a little while in the car, before I either get restless or a headache - but not with this book - I read it right through to the end of the book!Alice has lost her job and is just sort of floating, not really sure where she wants to land, when she sees Polly Dawson. Polly is sort of her long-time nemesis from college - the one who always had everything, perfect looks, perfect clothes, perfect life, etc, so she decides to follow her. Before she knows it, it has become an everyday obsession. She probably knows more about where Polly goes than even her husband! And Polly never notices her. Unfortunately, it seems someone else has and she becomes framed for Polly's murder. Alice goes into hiding, sort of. She camps outside of her college crush's apartment (he is/was a lawyer). He eventually confronts her, not remembering her from college, and for some reason believes her story and takes her in. He has his own ulterior motives for helping her. There are a couple of mysteries happening - first off is the obvious - who killed Polly and framed Alice - and the second is what's up with Charlie's father and will Alice be able to help Charlie find out the truth? There is alot of humor in this story. It is kind of a dry humor in face of the dire situation that Alice is facing. I especially liked this part - Alice has asked that Charlie get in touch with her best friend, Jean, to let her know that she is okay."Hi, Jean. I don't know if you remember me. My name is Walter Redwin. We went to Harvard Law School together."Jean pauses for a second. I know that she's dying to get in touch with me to tell me that my Charlie called her.This is where Charlie's part gets tricky."You may know me as Charlie."Now, I know you may be wondering how I managed to get Charlie to identify himself by his crush-name."Just introduce yourself to her on the phone," I instructed him casually just minutes ago. "And then tell her that she may know you as Charlie.""Why Charlie?""Oh, it's this thing with me and Jean.""What kind of thing?"A thing where I made up a name for you when I decided to become obsessed with you."I promise I will tell you the second I get out of trouble." Curiosity is a great motivator. (p148-149, Following Polly)Now maybe you need to read more of the story to appreciate it, but Alice's character is definitely quirky. But it is a good quirky. During the story you get to see her grow and to embrace who she really is. There are a couple of twists at the end, but one I definitely did not see coming. The book wrapped up nicely. I will definitely be watching for another book by Karen Bergreen.
Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life

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I could - can - relate to the good girl that Emily Freeman is talking about in this book. "Still, I like knowing the rules. If the sign says Don't Touch, I don't touch. If it says Keep Out, I stay away. If the form is due on Friday, I'll turn it in on Thursday just in case. . . .And even though I admit to occasionally bringing candy into the movie theater, I am always worried that the ticket person will search my bags and throw me out for smuggling in a bottle of water and two Peppermint Patties." (Grace for the Good Girl, p68)This is very much me - but it would be a can of soda and Three Musketeers! I was the good girl in high school - good grades, didn't like confrontations, didn't smoke, didn't really drink. . . When my dad passed away the end of my junior year, I kept the mask on for weeks that everything was fine before I could even let myself breakdown and cry. That mask of responsibility that I had to be strong for everybody else. And then I went into my first marriage."She also believed she was supposed to form her opinions around his. She loved peas but wouldn't cook them because she knew he didn't like them. She waited for Charlie to come home for dinner before she would eat. Even if he called ahead to tell her to start without him, she refused and suffered through hunger headaches for the sake of being wifely." (Grace for the Good Girl, p90)This is pretty much how the first couple of years of my marriage went and when my husband would go out to sea, I would basically fall apart because I had no one to "be a wife" for, so I didn't know how to act. After we got a divorce, I came to realize that many of my "favorites" were not really my favorites at all - but were my ex-husbands favorites. I often think know, who in their right mind thought that I was responsible enough to take care of three kids? I am 45 years old and still don't feel like a grown up. I listen to other women talk and feel like I am an inadequate teenager playing a game of dress up. Do I show this? Of course not. I am still pretty good at wearing masks. I know that taking off these masks is not something that is going to happen overnight. "I understood at an early age about the first rescue. Jesus came to save sinners. He came for the lost, the broken, the hurt, and the lonely. He came to heal sick people and to raise dead people and to die for the sins of everyone.Never once did I consider he also came to save me from myself. I'm a good girl who has done good things and has good intentions for the world around me. What harm could I do to myself? But then I reconsider, and I think of the effort and the work. And then the shame. I think of the worry that keeps me up at night and the fear that perhaps I've not done enough. I think of the way I compare myself and the pain that comes when I grasp for worth and security from my husband or my job or my children." (Grace for the Good Girl, p124)I can remember when I quit work when my son was born 7 years ago, how I didn't feel "needed" because I wasn't working a 40-50 hour a week corporate job. I was feeling worthless, but didn't realize that I had staked so much of my worth on that job. It took me a very long time to come to realize that my worth as a person did not diminish because I was a stay-at-home mom. I still struggle with it from time to time.I don't want to say that there are "steps" that she outlines in the last part of the book, because accepting Christ and living in Him should not and does not follow a checklist. I have yet to learn how to stop trying so hard to be good and do good in order to be good enough for Christ. He has already paid the ultimate price, all we have to do is receive Him and remain in Him. I need to learn to let go of trying to control everything and rest in the peace that ALL things are in Christ's hands and His control - then maybe I can take off all the masks once and for all. I am looking forward to rereading the last sections of this book to reaffirm what I know, but seem reluctant to embrace.
Graveminder

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I have had the opportunity to read one of Melissa Marr's YA books - the first in the Wicked Lovely series, aptly named Wicked Lovely. I enjoyed it greatly and have every intention of reading the rest of the books in the series. So when I saw that Melissa Marr had written an adult book, I knew that it was a must read for me - and I was not disappointed. The world she creates in Graveminder has the feeling of a small town from years ago. Everybody knows everybody else, but the difference is, they don't know everybody else's business. So while you get the small town feeling, you also get a definite spooky, gothic undertone. There is a town council in place, as well as the Graveminder and the Undertaker - but whenever anybody learns too much about someone else's "job", they are struck with a headache and eventually forget anything they aren't "supposed" to know. But, someone knows more than they should, and are determined to change things to how they think they should be. Because of it, people are being killed by an evil that should not be up walking around. I was hooked on these characters and this world from the first chapter. I could picture them clearly in my mind, the small town, the trusting townspeople, the cemetary. Maybe it was because of this that I was drawn so quickly into their world. But I never could have imagined what I found there. If you are a fan of gothic novels - definitely check out Graveminder.
In the Heat of the Bite

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This was book 2 of The Gentlemen Vampyre series and I enjoyed it as much as the first one, It Happened One Bite. Rhiannon has come to ton because her Aunt Greer has brought her sister Ginny to ton to introduce her to society and hopefully arrange a marriage for her. Rhiannon is slightly jealous as her aunt has never had anything good to say about her (not that she has much good to say about anyone)- as she is a witch and all. Rhiannon is suspicious of her Aunt's intentions, so she doesn't intend to let Ginny make any mistakes, but in the process becomes entangled in a few of her own.Rhiannon is the witch who can control the weather, but it often gets out of hand when her emotions are in a turmoil. If she is upset, there is bound to be stormy weather, and if she is angry - watch out for those lightning bolts! She is very feisty, but she grew up sort of neglected by her father, so she has very little self esteem. When she meets Matthew, she doesn't suspect he has any feeling for her, but embroils him in a scheme that will allow her to stay in ton for the season, and maybe gain a little respectability.This was a very fun read and I am looking forward to the next book in the series, Never Been Bit, which I will be reviewing in September. Since the witches all have different powers, they have different personalities and different quirks to their characters. Since their husbands are currently Lycans and Vampyres - who don't get along - it is humorous to read about their interactions.I would recommend this series for anyone who likes light paranormal romances. Great for reading at the beach!
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