The Friendship List By Susan Mallory

 

 

 

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When Unity and Ellen decide they need to shake things up, they create a friendship list to challenge each other to do the things they have been putting off.

 

Ellen needs a decent shopping trip, a date and a life.  Unity needs to stop living in the past and step into the present.  Easier said than done for both these ladies, but they slowly move forward with heart-warming and sometimes hilarious results.

 

Both our ladies are graduates of the school of hard knocks.  Ellen was a teen mother and is a single mom.  As her son plans for college and the future, she must face the empty spot he will leave behind.  Unity has faced loss since an early age.  Her parents died in an accident, and then her husband died while serving his country.  Can Unity see the good and trust that good things will happen, or will she let her past hold her back?

 

I loved the fact that these ladies have had their share of hard knocks and heartbreak, yet here they are trying to change things even though it is challenging for both of them.

 

The list ranges from the expected, such as a wardrobe update for Ellen, to the outlandish such as getting tattoos and staying out all night.

 

Ellen heads out on a two-week bus trip with her son and the high school football coach, her friend Keith, that will test her will.  She must separate two over friendly teens on the trip.  One of them is Keith’s daughter.  She will also test herself on the trip, trying to mark things off her list.  She spends the first night of the trip all fancied up sitting in the hotel bar.   Her trip continues to surprise her each day, but she will shocked at what Unity has accomplished herself.

 

Unity is the victim of a well-meaning match maker, but she goes out with Thaddeus so she can cross an item off her list.  Instead, she sees her life with a fresh perspective and makes changes.  She will go skydiving, hire her first full-time employee and make even bigger changes.

 

What starts as a simple challenge between friends becomes so much more.  I am so glad I was along for the journey.  A warm and witty look at life, where we want to go, and getting to where we are meant to be.

 

Start reading now.  You won’t want to stop.

Chapter 1 Excerpt

Big Summer Jennifer Weiner

This book started off my summer reading in a big way.  This book has so many layers and so much packed into it, it will be a hard act to follow.  Our heroine Daphine is a plus-sized social media influencer, dog walker and baby sitter.  When an old friend Drue Lanthorpe Cavanaugh drops back into her life looking for a bridesmaid she has to face her past and search her heart before she agrees.

One she is on the wedding bandwagon she has to tell her other best friend what she’s gotten herself into as well as start working with a new client. Lila, who wants her to be the face of her brand.

When the wedding weekend arrives and things go wonderfully right and then horribly wrong it will take all of Daphne’s spunk and grit to help her figure things out and put her life and her past in order.

 

Daphne touched my heart.  I was never one of the pretty popular girls either and I could relate to Daphne instantly.   I also related to Drue quickly because anyone who has survived their teen years had someone like Drue as a part of them.

I loved the fact that Daphne was so honest about social media and how you can use it and make it appear the way you want it.

 

This book is honest, timely, and touching in a way that only Jennifer Weiner can create.  I am sorry that this book is done.  Daphne and her circle of friends will be sticking with me.

The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season A Novel by Molly Fader

The Bitter and Sweet of cherry Season by Molly Fader is a story of family and what those ties really mean.  Can you go home again?  Can you feel safe? Can you start over?  These are just some of the questions that Hope must ask herself as she looks for a haven for her and her daughter Tink to regroup and figure out the next move.

Hope is running from someone and the only place she can think of going is Orchard House.  Her aunt’s home that she has heard about from her mother.  Hope has never been there, but she has to go somewhere so she packs up her car and heads to the only safe place she can think of.

Hope’s Aunt Peg is standoffish and quiet and strict.  She agrees to let Hope and Tink stay and offers them work helping harvest the cherry crop.  The work helps Hope to clear her head and start to think about staying.  Until her past catches up with her.

 

Hope must face her past and embrace her future.  If she can let herself dream and take chances a future and a fresh start.

 

Hope pulled at my heartstrings.  She wanted to be so strong, but she was so tired of being alone. I could understand how she felt and why she felt that way.  Tink is every little girl with big dreams.

 

This story is a rich family story with history and hope.

The Space Between Sisters: A Butternut Lake Novel by Mary McNear

When Win’s life falls apart she retreats to the cabin on Butternut Lake only to have her sister Poppy show up on her doorstep unannounced.  While their first days together are nostalgic soon the sisters fall into their old ways.  Win must deal with great loss and decide how to build a future and Poppy has to decide if she wants to stay at the lake or move on.  Poppy takes a job in the local bait shop to earn some cash and ends up finding more than just a job there.  This story is sweet and warm and funny.  The characters are not afraid to speak their minds sometimes with hilarious results.  For both sisters the summer will open new doors and bring the ability to move forward.

The Goodbye Year by Kaira Rouda

For a group of parents who are stumbling through senior year with their children the looming question of what next is getting closer and closer.  For Midwestern transplant Melanie she must decide if she wants to stay in California and what in the world she will do there when Dane is safely at college.  Sarah has spent years providing everything her daughter Ashley needs to be successful in the world, but now that that job is almost done the question of how to reconnect with her husband is on her mind often.  Middle school principal and schedule queen Carol is busy just getting though the day, but her husband Will is feeling the need for a bit of freedom and for Lauren who is married to an older man their are also questions of what the future may and could be.  A look at growing up and starting over from the viewpoints of parents and kids.  A touching portrait of parents and children and how the world is not always as it seems.

The Memory Jar by Elissa Janine Hoole

When Taylor and Scott have a snow mobile accident on top of all the other things going on in their lives it is more that Taylor can take, but at least she is awake, the problem is she doesn’t really remember what happened, did she cause the accident and if so than whatever happens to Scott is her fault.  Taylor must decide how to make peace with her past and decide what she wants for her future, but at the moment it takes all she has just to get out of bed and shower and attend a class or two.  Taylor’s therapist gives her a memory jar so she can write down and store her memories and hopefully figure out the puzzle her life has become, but like everyone else Taylor learns life is never as simple as it could be, but it might not be as hard as she wants it to be either.  A touching portrait of life and lost and hope and dreams. netgalley

Ask Him Why Catherine Ryan Hyde

This book blew me away.  It is the story of a family who face destruction  when their son Joseph  is court martialed as part of a very public  military event.  The story is told mostly by  Ruth the youngest daughter and Aubrey the younger brother.  As time unfolds different details come to light and each member of the family deals with  things in their own way.  Ruth searches for answers,  Aubrey feeds his an anger and their parents try to keep some semblance of order and find them a way to start ov er.  Years later Joseph gets a fresh start of his own but can he start over with his family and will they understand why he made the choice that changed  their lives?  A moving and touching family novel that will pull you in and leave you sorry to read the last page.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald January 1st

netgalleyHappy New Year !!! This book is a great one to start with. When he life falls apart Sara goes to Broken Wheel to meet her book pen pal Amy, but upon her arrival she learns that her vacation will be very different than she hoped, but during her visit she meets many of Amy’s friends and realizes that this little town might just be her new home, but it will take some fancy plans from her new friends and some work of her own to make it happen. Can Sara find a new start in a town that is always passed by? I loved Sara and the cast of characters she meets on her trip, but her journey is a deep and meaningful one full of discovery and challenges, a great read to start off the new year.

The Black Velvet Coat A Novel by Jill G. Hall

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The Black Velvet Coat tells the stories of Anne a struggling artist who really wants to make it work and Sylvia Van Dam a socialite in the 1960’s whose life takes her places she never imagined.  Anne finds the coat in thrift store and falls in love with it so much so she spends her rent money on it, but she knows the moment she puts it on that it is meant for her, what she doesn’t realize is that the coat has a story to share with her and piece by piece she discovers Sylvia and her past, but Sylvia’s story ends abruptly and Anne is left wondering what happened.  The stories of both women make you root for them and a happy ending, and there are unexpected turns in both their lives and in Anne’s search for an ending.  I loved the way the lives of the women overlapped in their own way and I loved watching the puzzle pieces fall into place as Anne searched for answers and found herself along the way.

Chance Harbor by Holly Robinson

Chance Harbor is the story of a family that like all families faces it share of challenges.  Zoe was a rough and tumble teen and finally left her daughter Willow behind so that she could start over and make a better life for herself.  Her sister Catherine and her husband become Willows legal guardians until Zoe comes home and Catherine’s husband turns their world upside down.  In the mist of the upheaval in Willow’s life her grandmother has decided to sell the family’s summer home in Chance Harbor and they journey there for one final visit as a family.  Each of the characters faces adversity and unexpected circumstances and must decide not only to do what is best for them but what is best for Willow who must figure out who she is and who she wants to be.  This story is full of funny and touching moments.  I found  the bond that forms between Willow and Nola to be comical and heartwarming, but I loved all the characters and their dynamics.