Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson- Reshelved Books

Hello everyone!

Happy New Year!

I wanted to get this post up before Christmas was here. But that didn’t happen... Even though, I was a speed reading demon for a few days here, lol. Given that the title of this novel involves the word "Christmas" the majority of the book did not take place around Christmas. 

So it is totally okay for me to post this now... three weeks after Christmas. This a no judgement zone, folks! 

The good thing about this book is that it really doesn't take place during the holiday/Christmas season.  It takes place months *before* the holiday season and it ends on Christmas.

As some of you may or may not know, Jess and I both work in libraries.  Which means that we are *constantly* fighting temptation to check out every book that we come across.

I remember seeing the cover of The Christmas Room before it went out into circulation last month and I thought about how adorable the cover art was. Between the AirStream trailer decorated with holiday lights, the Adirondack chairs and the snow mountains that are the backdrop; I was instantly lured to the book. (I'm not ashamed to say that we do judge a book by it's cover! Sometimes, it's just about aesthetics, whether you want it to be or not!)

Since, it's best to hear from the author what their inspiration was behind a story... Harlequin Junkie conducted an interview with Catherine Anderson. You can find the interview in it's entirety here.  When approached by her publishing company to write a Christmas themed novel, Anderson took her own real life experiences (!!) to create a this story.

This is only book that I've read by Anderson... So my next comment might be jumping the gun a little here... But I felt like I was instantly transported to Bitterroot Valley.  I felt like Anderson was able to create such strong imagery using words. 

The Christmas Room tells the story of Maddie and Sam, two individuals in their 60s who have lost their spouses.  Maddie moves to Montana with her son and grandson, Cam and Caleb (respectively).  Cam buys a piece of land next to Sam Conacher and his daughter, Kirstin.  Sam is very much that cranky, mean and nasty man that people don't want to be bothered with.  He's not nice and it makes things harder than they have to be.

What these two neighbors don't know about each other is that they both have lost their spouses.  Sam and Maddie are both grieving and learning to move forward.  Maddie lost her husband two years prior and Sam lost his wife 6 years before. 

Sam is very overprotective of his daughter, Kirstin and this is a cause for most of the tension that occurs in the beginning of the story.  It was made known to Cam by Kirstin, that her father is not afraid to ruin the reputations of those who go and talk to his daughter. 

I think that's why the first interaction between Cam and Kirstin made me think of "I'd be Jealous too" by Dustin Lynch.  I thought it would have been quite appropriate for that first initial meeting.  Kirstin is sort of this anomaly; all of the men in Bitterroot won't speak to her.  (Could you blame them though?? )

The first 1/4 of the book focused on Cam and Kirstin.  Then there was a change to the focus of the story about the 1/2 way mark. 

Around the 1/2 way mark of the book is where Anderson started to lose me with the relationship between K and C... 

Cam went to help Kirsten wrangle in one of the bulls. Okay, easy enough to follow. Then, Kirstin's horse gets spooked and tackled (?) by the bull and Kirstin is pinned under said bull... Cam goes and saves her life by protecting her from this bull....

I kinda stopped rooting for Cam and Kirstin and I started to root for Maddie and Sam.  That was okay because right after Cam's accident, is when Anderson started to shift the reader's focus from the relationship between the young lovers to Maddie and Sam. 

There was something about them that was lovable.  Would I have liked it better if Maddie could have told Cam about her health concerns? Yes.  I would have liked her character to have done that but at the same time, I know why her character didn't. 

Sam was a difficult character to like but, I feel like he was the underdog that you were also hoping would come to the top.  I was hoping that he would be able to change ways and I was happy that he did!  I liked that Anderson gave him the abilities to grow as a character.

Now on to Caleb.. Caleb, Caleb, Caleb...I felt bad for Caleb... The further I got in the story, the more I became confused as to what his purpose in the story was.  He had lines, he had thoughts but there was no character development with him and I kinda felt that he was just dragging along...?

The book didn't leave any open endings, things weren't untied and as the reader, you weren't left wondering what could have happened or what should have happened. 

While the subject of the book wasn't for me, it wasn't a book that I disliked.  Anderson was able to tackle heavy topics in a manner that didn't make you as the reader feel sad.  She gave hope and comfort to her characters.  The best part was seeing that her characters were able to mend fences to trust and love one another.  

 I would recommend it to a friend (or even a patron!) if they were looking for a new release.   That being said, I am giving this book 4 out of 5 coffee beans. 

Hopefully you all will be seeing more posts from me this month.

See you all soon!


Monday, January 1, 2018

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - Reshelved Books

OH MY GOODNESS Dewey Readers!

I just finished Colleen Hoover's novel It Ends With Us, and I am SO in love.  I literally devoured this book in under 24 hours.  It was THAT good.   

This is my first novel by Hoover, and I picked it up while at work, thinking that I would try to do a new adult / ya crossover display for the library.  I'm trying to target the 20-30 crowd.  But it got me thinking, have I read any authors that are primarily known for NA fiction?  Not really.  I mostly read YA and women's fiction, with a few random ones in between.  Hoover's novel literally jumped off the shelf at me. Literally. So needless to say, I checked it out and took it home.    

I am so glad I did.

So, let's talk about the novel.  Lily is 23 years old.  After her father passes away, Lilly is asked to say the eulogy at his funeral.  The problem is that she doesn't have anything good to say about him. So she stands there and says nothing.  NOTHING. You see, Lily's father abused her mother throughout her entire childhood.  He only stopped beating and raping her mother when he became too sick to do so.  Her mother stayed with him the entire time.    

When Lily was 15 years old, she fell in love with a boy who was living in the abandoned house which joined backyards with Lily's home.  Like Lily, Atlas too came from an abusive household.  Except his step-father abused HIM.

Fast forward, and Lily is now living in Boston.  She's on a rooftop patio reflecting about her father's death and her wordless eulogy when a man appears.  Heavily upset, he begins to kick a chair in anger only to turn around and realize that Lily was there watching.  This man is so very handsome and he is a neurosurgeon.  Can you believe it?  A neurosurgeon!  It is many months until they meet again.  

As I'm writing this, I realize that my small summary really sucks and does NOT give this novel justice.  So I'm just going to stop.  

What absolutely amazes me about this novel, is that Hoover is able to tell a love story but she does so by showing both the good aspects of love (that keep us going back for more) and the dirty and terrible aspects of love (that hide underneath the good.)  Hoover mentions in the novel that we all have a limit of what we can take and when "incidents" happen with someone you love, that limit gets pushed back bit by bit.  This highlights the importance of paying attention to little red flags early on and staying true to your limit.  This is also something that I'm slowly learning to put into practice.  Be bold.  Be true.  It's easier said than done.  

What also amazes me is that Hoover is able to craft a character who Lily is able to both love, hate and fear at the same time, but she crafts him in such a way that the reader also is able to fall in love with him, fear him, and struggle with these feelings similar to how Lilly does.  No matter Lilly's decision, I couldn't blame her because I wasn't sure what I would have done in her situation or what I wanted her to do.  Yes, we know what we should do as a detached persona, but not what we would do or what we necessarily want to do. I realize I'm rambling, but this book just has me so excited.  I think I found my new favorite author. 

I feel a book hangover coming on.

I give this book 10 out of 5 Coffee Beans, because I can.  



Thursday, December 14, 2017

Stronger Within (Silver Lakes #1) by Coral McCallum- Reshelved Books

You guys... This post has literally taken me a month to write... 
I am the worst slacker EVER.

Stronger Within (Silver Lakes #1) is one of the books that we have been graciously offered to read.  I am going to admit that I am a little 
Thank you guys, you rock!! :))))

Of course, we said yes; we couldn't turn it down!

Stronger Within tells the story of Lori and Jake.  Lori is a graphic designer who does merchandising for musicians.  Jake is an musician (I want to call him aspiring but that just doesn't seem right...)  When Lori and Jake meet, Jake comes to Lori's rescue- she had fallen and was unable to get up! Having had a serious accident months before, Lori sought convalescence in Rehoboth Beath, DE (which is a great place to spend time). 

Throughout the course of the novel, we find out what happened to Lori and we get to see if Jake is able to achieve his dreams of rock and roll stardom. 

The best thing about this book (for me at least) was that it takes place in Rehoboth Beach, DE.  I've been there many times over the last several years and it's a great place to visit the beach! 

You're near the outlets where you can shop.  You're near the beach where you can swim and tan.  You're near Maryland- where you can visit Ocean City and go to the boardwalk or where you can find *amazing* seafood. Plus (!!) you're able to find the BEST donuts EVER.

It's close enough to New Jersey but far enough from New Jersey when you're looking for a quick getaway (haha). 

It was fun to envision the main street in Rehoboth and imagine where the characters were walking and the places that they were going to. I felt like I knew exactly what resturants McCallum was referencing when Lori and Jake went to the sushi restaurant or “the Turtle”.

Coral did say that she also has vacationed to Rehoboth Beach many times in the past and that it was a spot she did love to visit.

When I asked Ms. McCallum what her inspiration was behind Stronger Within; she said that she received advice many years ago from an English teacher of hers, who said to write about what you love and passionate about. (Which sounds like some pretty solid advice if you ask me!). By taking the love she has for both rock music and the beach, McCallum was able to curate a story that was packed with both love and tragedy.

The things that I didn’t like are small and silly. I'm going to be honest when I say that I'm not really drawn to the rocker type of guy.  I had a hard time with the fact that Jake has this long flowing hair. The tattoos, I was on board with (especially if the tattoos are like the ones that Michael Ray has ;) ). Jake was all bad boy exterior with a great big heart of gold.

Part of me would have liked to see Lori end up with Grey. You could totally see the special connection that Lori was developing with Becky.  I thought it would make for a good twist and turn, if Lori and Grey had some sort of torrid love affair and ended up together.  It seemed to me like the relationship between Lori and Becky was developing to be very strong.

There were some moments that were heavy- when you see that Becky’s mother gets fatally injured and when Jake gets shot. Looking back on it, I thought it was packed with too much tragedy.  In a way, I felt that the reader was left to process a lot.

If you're interested (and you have to time to read!) and wanted to read Stronger Within (The Silver Lake Series Book 1), you can find it on Amazon! :))

Over the course of the next few months, Jess and I will be posting the reviews from the books that we are so kindly sent. (As you saw with Jess’s review from this week. Which, if you haven’t read- you should go check it out!)

Thank you again to all of the authors who are willing to share their wonderful books with us!
~ Jillian