The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Ok first things first this is a YA book, and I freely admit that even as an adult I enjoy good YA books, so what made this a good book for me you ask?  First of all it is told from the male viewpoint which is not all that common in my YA reading experience.  The story is Ezra’s story and he narrates it for us.  The story opens when he is elementary school and his best friend Toby experiences a freak accident at Disney Land during his eighth birthday party.  The events of that day cause the boys to drift apart and we see them again in high school.  Toward the end of Junior year Ezra is leaving a party after finding his girlfriend with another guy and is hurt in a car accident on the way home.  He spends the summer in and out of the hospital and his injuries mean that he will no longer be captain of the tennis team or any sports team.  He returns to school with a cane, a special parking permit and an elevator key.  He spent all his high school years hanging out with the other athletes, but he is no longer one of them, they didn’t even visit him in the hospital, so he is feeling lost to say the least.  He ends up signed up for debate which is headed by his old friend Toby and the two begin to find common ground and renew their friendship.  Enter Cassidy the new girl in the equation, while she is new to Ezra she is a champion debater and has history with Toby and the other members of the debate team.  Ezra is pulled into the world of the debaters and gradually Cassidy makes the way to the center of his world, until she realizes they have more in common that they first thought and no all of it is good.  I found the story touching yet lighthearted.  I’d like to see these characters in another book, perhaps while they are home from college for a summer.  If you enjoy YA fiction, give this one a shot.

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Two good ones out now The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore and Murder of a small town Honey by Denise Swanson

Both these books were good reads.  The Funeral Dress is a touching story of two women who work together in a dress factory.  Emmalee dreams of a better life for her daughter than what she had.  Leona and Curtis had dreams of a family, but those dreams were dashed early on and Leona has never been able to fill the hole in her life, she sees helping Emmalee and her daughter as a way to fill the hole in her heart and help them out at the same time. Emmalee and Leona plan for Emmalee and her daughter to move in with Leona and Curtis but life has other plans for Emmalee which will help her figure out where she wants to go in her life and the first steps to get there.  The small community Leona and Emmalee are part of pulls toghether to help Emmalee start to find her dreams. 

In Murder of a Small Town Honey we have yet antoher cozy mystery series that caught my attention and is one i will be following. Skye Denison returns home to Scumble River despite her disllike for her hometown which she divulged years ago during her valedictorian speech at graduation.  Needless to say her homecoming is a mixed blessing, and soon after her return her brother is charged with murder and Skye invovles herself trying to clear his name.  I loved the characters and the small town feel of this novel.  I also adored the way Skye tells it like it is even when discussing her relatives.  I found her honest voice refreshing.  If you like mysteries with female sleuths or family stories check these out.

The Tyrants Daughter by J.C. Carleson Available Feb 11th

I loved this book, it flows well, the pacing is great and I love the narrator the “Invisible Queen”.  I think she often does feel invisible and not just because she is a teenaged girl.  Her brother is constantly told he will be king, which makes her at least in her own mind an invisible queen.  Not only goes she have the normal teen issues, first dances, boys, the social groups and rules, but she is a stranger in a new land, she must learn to navigate super sized packaging, junk food and just the pure abundance that America provides.  Let’s not forget that she fled her county after her father was killed, and her new friends have a different view of her father, and in an effort to prove them wrong she reads up on her family and the history of her country at the library which makes her wonder what the truth really is since she can’t make what she reads in the press mesh with her memories.  Her mother is helping the CIA and she must do what she can to help with this project.  The Tyrants daughter is a beautifully told story of finding one’s place in the world and being comfortable with it which means reconciling the past and finding hope for the future.

What a Mother Knows by aLeslie Lehr and The All Girls Filling Station’s last reunion by Fannie Flagg both avaialble now

 I’m sure most of us have read or heard of Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes anyone?  Her latest keeps you turning pages and thinking about the characters long after the last page.  Sarah Jane, aka Sookie finds out at the age of 59 that she was adopted, and also that she is not 59 she’s 60.  She begins to reevaluate her life and eventually decides to try to get in touch with her birth parents.  She finds her Aunt Fitzi and learns about her mother and their family legacy.  Turns out her mother, her aunt Fitzi and one more aunt were WASP’s in WWII.  Female pilots who ferried planes around the united states.  She also learns that her mother’s family had a gas station and during the war the sisters ran the station while her grandfather and uncle were deployed overseas.  As usual the story weaves together history and characters who seem to step off the page. 

What A Mother Knows tells the story of Michelle, who is badly injured in a car accident and spends almost a year in the hospital having multiple surgeries, being placed in a medical coma to minimize further damage from her brain injury  and then eventually spending lots of time and energy at rehab.  Her first few days home are anything but happy despite the welcome home party.  She learns she is being sued, there was a passenger in the car with her who died, she has no recollection of the accident or the itme around it which her doctors have assured her is normal, but fustrating,  her insurance won’t pay most of her expenses, and her daughter ran away during her hospitalization, also her husband has been working in New York even though they live in California because he can’t get work with insurance benefits in California and he has enrolled their son in a private school there.  Yikes, besides that he has taken her name off of everything, the bank accounts, the cell phones, when he goes back to work in New York the week after her return home he has to bring her cash since she has no I.D. and no credit cards.  Michelle quickly decides that finding her daughter takes priority over her continued therapy and focuses all her energy there, but her son and husband feel that what begins as Michelle’s search for answers soon consumes her, sends her to various locals such as Hawail in search of the smallest clue or hope,  and destroys the life she is trying to rebuild.  Her life continues to unravel  as she gets ready for her day in court. Then  she begins to remember things, bits and pieces, and slowly she is able to piece together what happened, but is it to late to remember or better to forget.  One the trial is over she once again must decide the next direction for her life and her dreams.  While lots of the subject matter of this novel is dark and Michelle spends much of the book fustrated on some level by life, and the people in her life, I had to admire her dedication to searching for her daughter, and i think it is part of what gets her over some of the other bumps along the way.  I was left with a feeling of hope and healing at the end of this one.

Takedown Twenty

As some of you may recall this has been on my to read list for a while, I understand the next Stephanie Plum novel will be out over the summer.  I loved this, but then again a plum novel is like visiting old friends and they are all here along with some new people as well.  Grandma Bella gets a few cameos, Lula develops a soft spot for  Kevin, a wayward Giraffe, Stephanie’s loaner car  from Rangeman gets run over by an emergency vehicle, all the typical wonderful things that happen in a plum story.  Not to mention that Stephanie is feeling more than a little domestic, and she has to go play bingo while working for Ranger.  Morelli is still on the mend from his last injury, but he’s back on the job.  Stephanie’s big skip this time is Uncle Sunny a local well loved mobster and as luck would have it one of Morelli’s relatives. Her quest to hunt him down will take her to his girlfriends house, to Stark street, and many places in between.  I loved this visit with my old pals and I look forward to seeing what kind of things happen in the next installment.

Taking my love Nickie Seidler out now

This is another steamy one , so if those kinds of books are not your thing or you don’t want to skip over the steamy parts than this probably isn’t for you, but if you like steamy parts or are happy skipping over them this story has a lot going for it.  I was lucky enough to get a preview copy in exchange for an honest review.  It is the story of Evelynn and Danny and Clark.  Danny is Evelynn’s boyfriend who leaves without a trace.  Clark is her best friend who keeps her going while she tries to put Danny’s loss behind her and move on.  Things between Clark and Evelynn evolve and just as they are figuring out that they may have a stronger connection Danny returns with shocking news and Evelynn must again try to put her life back in order.  Taking my love is about love as you may have guessed from the title, but it is about many other things, life, the choices we make, and the people who make us who we are and support us.  A great read.

I Forgot to Remember by Su Meck Release Date February 4th

I really enjoyed this book and lucky me I was able to get an advance copy.  This is Su’s story.  She is making dinner with her family one evening and is hit on the head by the ceiling fan when it falls.  As one would expect the weight of it falling on her causes her to black out and when she begins to get her bearings in the hospital she has no real memory, no long term memory and very little short term to speak of.  I Forgot to Remember is the story of how she rebuilds her life and how her brain injury is both a blessing and a curse.  He story drew me in and i had to keep reading, I had to see what happened next.  On one level Su could be any one of us injured by a common household accident, yet I didn’t really understand how deeply this impacted her life until I read about her days, her plans, the things that happened to her as she raised her children, moved around the country and out of it as her husband’s job dictated and eventually began to pursue dreams of her own.  This is autobiography,not fiction, but I found it a wonderful read.