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THE FUTURE SHE LEFT BEHIND: A Women’s Novel ~Marin Thomas

Monday, October 30th, 2017

THE FUTURE SHE LEFT BEHIND was sent to me by Penguin Random House, publicist Roxanne Jones, for review.  The program sheet began with this paragraph:

If life as you knew it fell to pieces, and you had the chance to start again fresh, what would you do?  And would you bring your grumpy mother-in-law along for the ride?  Katelyn Pratt, a forty-year-old, newly divorced mother of two, grapples with such questions in Marin Thomas’s humorous and heartwarming tale of self-discovery.”

This sounded like a good read and I was interested.

It was a delightful story and well worthy of a good read and time spent turning the pages.  I personally did not find it humorous – heartwarming yes and it built a complacency in myself and also brought of the idea of why was I not more accepting of this is just how life is and isn’t Katelyn handling it so well.  Her goal was stepping up in life and not having to worry about money and with all the changes she was still in that position in her life.  She had the luxury of finding herself and discovering her own future.  There is sadness in the story and the working through of the next steps and there is some challenge in finding satisfaction where one is planted.  Ultimately, there is a savvy hair stylist who is up to date on her abilities and not stuck in the past – helping folks to move on and forward.

I think there are a great many more women who are facing divorce who do not have the financial freedom that Katelyn has achieved.  Who even though they had spent 19 years in a comfortable marriage they were now in a tooth and nail battle to retain some of those finances and to forge a future and survival for themselves and their children.  Most women would have to struggle and would be hard pressed to have relationships to fall back onto at the point of crisis.  Both women in the story were compelled to find the importance of relationship to assist their forward movement.

From St. Louis to small town Texas was not a huge leap as neither women even for their lifestyles and education had learned to fully problem-solve or had a larger worldview.  Neither one of the women was a “global” thinker and their contemplations centered around just what they all ready knew and their creativity seemed to be closed off and not explored.  Can a woman come home again?  I think the answer is yes, particularly if she has just changed location and never truly left home. The characters seem incomplete.  I found the sub-characters infinitely more interesting and much less boring.

Marin Thomas is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five novels, including the Cash Brothers series and THE PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS.

“Marin Thomas writes Women’s Fiction for Berkley and western romances for Harlequin and Tule Publishing. To date she has contracted over 35 projects for Harlequin. Her first women’s fiction novel, The Promise of Forgiveness, released March 2016 and her second novel, The Future She Left Behind releases September 2017. Marin is also a member of the Tall Poppy Writers

Marin grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin and attended college at the University of Arizona where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV. Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marin and her husband currently live in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends her free time junk hunting and researching her next ghost tour.”  (Amazon page)

A good end of the summer read when one wants to recall the days at the fair and the beach and yet be ready for autumn with new pencils and notebook in hand-possibly a new hairdo.  Certainly in the Romance category with the sense of escape tucked right between the cover.

Related:
The Sweet Life
The Innkeepers Sister
Everything We Keep

WILD HORSE SPRINGS: A Novel with Romance and Cowboys ~Jodi Thomas

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

“New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas is a fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. She is a certified marriage and family counselor, a Texas Tech graduate and writer-in-residence at West Texas A&M University. She lives with her husband in Amarillo, Texas.” (TLC website)

WILD HORSE SPRINGS is full of the love of Texas and begins with the beginnings of romance between two couples and the sorting out of a love triangle.  If you like romance this is a good book for you, and I know a number of folks who will truly enjoy this book and the vivid descriptions of Texas wrapped up with the author’s love of the beauty of the countryside.

I received an advance reader’s e-copy of the book and it was missing a cover, table of contents, author’s notes and any acknowledgements.  I can tell that the book was well written and the sentence structure was well constructed.  The dialogues made my mind just hear the drawl and the flavor of the country folks.  My copy also needed a good edit as the typos and misspellings were distracting at times.

I like a good romance and a good horse story (horses were not the main focus) and I thought the story of how a community supported their own and solved a dangerous problem caused by foreigners (not true Texans) and outsiders.  The support was fabulous and went the extra mile when a young boy needs assistance everyone rallies as best as they know how.  When a child is a victim everyone is concerned and does the right thing.

What I found disturbing is that this book promotes small thinking and encourages the reader to remain in small thinking.  There were only 2 characters that could really think and explore outside the 10 year old value-programed capacity.  The Park Ranger was a “follow the rules” person and yet was able to go beyond childhood thinking and explore other possibilities from her vast experiences of her childhood and her parental values.  She was a great character and I felt relief in each of her sections even while she was being “tamed” by a Texas Ranger.  She had depth and capacity not just redundancy and a tired old worldview.

I am not sure I want to promote this book, although a good story and I know my romance readers would truly enjoy it, I feel I need to point out that I do not want to share old, small ideas in this current era.  The book has an underlining current about prejudice and hate that many people will not even note or is so pervasive it will not even bubble into the conscious mind.   The bad, cruel people are totally outsiders and need to be removed from the community before they kill everyone. The Sheriff’s daughter has writer’s block until she comes home to find release in safety, and then there is no indication that her thinking got larger and more diverse; only clarified her relationship feelings – I figured she was going nowhere and I did not find hope in her character only sadness.  Dan and Brandi represented security and safety to so many and I am happy they found love – neither indicated intricate thinking skills but then their love was the central point of the story. I would suggest that WILD HORSE SPRINGS is a cautionary tale.

What we do not acknowledge and recognize is very frightening these days.

A TLC Book Tours Book You will find other reviews of this book at the TLC Link and I am sure most will be very favorable.

Jodi Thomas Website
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Jodi Thomas Facebook

Related:
Just Say Goodbye for Now
Remember my Beauties
Natchez Burning

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW: Another Wonderful Novel ~Catherine Ryan Hyde

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Catherine Ryan Hyde is a master storyteller- SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is proof that her stories get better and better, all 30 of them.  She has over 50 short stories in major publications and awards upon awards for her artful writing.    I have had the good fortune of reading and reviewing three of her most recent novels within the past year.   Most people would recognize Catherine Ryan Hyde by her magnificently successful story PAY IT FORWARD, which was made into a very successful movie staring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey.  Her writing is often cast as Young Adult, but I cannot think of a single adult I know who would not enjoy these coming of age stories and the look at adults though youthful experience and questions.

Most of Hyde’s stories seem to include horses, dogs and adventures that problem-solve and add meaning.  The adults in her stories make a number of discoveries that are life changing for them also.  The main characters often have high levels of responsibility and are cast in a lonely position, which clarifies their situation and allows the characters to get what they need to recover or grow.

Pete does not know that his father is psychologically and physically abusive because it seems to him that all the fathers that are in his community are so inclined.  His father is just going way beyond in his abuse and making Pete’s life impossible for success or sitting down after the whippings.   Pete is trying so hard to do the right thing and find favor and love from his only remaining parent.  He feels responsible for helping a dog that has been hit by a car which costs him a friend and delivers him a new friend and several adults that he can trust.

The story begins in 1959 when Pete is 12-years-old and beginning summer vacation from school.  His father has been injured on the job and is home on Workman’s Compensation and maybe abusing the pain medications and certainly alcohol.

Dr. Lucy is a physician who lost her son to pneumonia during a painful divorce. Dr. Lucy now rescues racehorses, which are not fast enough and dogs that no one wants any more.  She lives alone in the countryside in a house given to her by her father.  She has closed herself off from the community as this Texas community has made being a practicing female doctor an impossibility in 1959.  The community is extremely closed minded.   Here is where the story adds being against “Negros” and the hostile environment that is created.  The Doctor and Justin, Pete’s new friend, have very different value programing than what Pete has experienced in his life, and yet there is an attraction and the resonation of the new values within Pete.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW has many levels of discovery and very well written dialogue. The adults must explain many things from the meaning of words to telling the truth in a protective manner.

I would read this book again.  It made me think about current hatred and racism being expressed in our culture at this time.  I made me think about how one brings about new thinking and acceptance of others; it maybe only through one person at a time.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is an excellent read, and I have purchased a copy for the son of my new neighbor.

A TLC Book Tours review book.

Related:
Leaving Blythe River
The Language of Hoofbeats

THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE: a Potting Shed Mystery ~Marty Wingate

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

“’And in landscape gardening,’ Repton wrote, ‘everything may be called a deception by which we endeavor to conceal the agency of art and make our works appear the sole product of nature.’”

Master Gardener Marty Wingate adds another mystery in the garden for Texas born Pru Parke to dig into and find the root of the problem.  I so enjoyed the first book in the series, THE GARDEN PLOT ,  I was delighted to be sent THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE by TLC Book Tours   for review.   I received an uncorrected, unproofed e- copy so that I could share my excitement during the holiday season with you.

Pru Parke has returned to England to find a master gardener position and restore an historic garden back to its intended splendor.  As luck would have it, Pru and a Police Detective discover a romantic connection and that makes her restoration job at Primrose House even more delightful an opportunity.  The house has already been restored as Hugh and Davina have purchased Primrose House from the Earl of Hamilton.  They are so happy to hire Pru to muster the gardens and are able to give her the hundreds of years old master plans (1806) from the original designer – Humphrey Repton.  His plans are in what is called The Red Book and they contain beautiful descriptions and watercolors of his original concepts and ideas.  Pru hides the valuable book in her cottage on the grounds.   Right away little, strange events begin to happen.

The descriptions of the gardens and the work of digging holes, finding hundreds of roses, repairing masonry walls, dozens of heritage apple trees and terracing the hillside draw an incredible image to the mind’s eye and one can nearly smell the earthy ground work and the greenhouse heaters.

Scary moments begin to happen as are an integral part of any mystery.  There are lights at night and strange noises and then the shed catches fire.  The local newspaper starts a blog about the garden restoration and repeatedly mentions in the post are being singled out for disruption.  The project is damaged and stopped several times and with a deadline fast approaching the pressure is on to discover the culprit.

There is a secondary mystery in THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE as Pru searches to discover if she has any relatives living in England after the death of her British born mum.

The eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex fascinated the gardener from Texas who is being severely tested along with her well – meaning  crew – Ned, Liam and Fergal Duffy, Ivy and Robbie and then all the police.  There are some good pub scenes and the secondary characters add some serious problems and that good British humor and whimsy. The language was fun and kept the pace of the story progressing, developing and moving the reader from cup of tea to cup of tea.

The book was incredibly entertaining and a fun read.  I enjoyed THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE from cover to cover.

From the book jacket:

“Marty Wingate writes about gardens and travel, and she has now combined those two loves with her passion of mysteries.  Mary’s how-to-garden information is available in books, online, and on the radio.  She lives in Seattle with her husband, who shares her love of travel and is always ready for on-the-ground research into pubs and English beer.  Learn more about her at marytwingate.com

Marty Wingate Facebook

Related:
The Garden Plot
Supreme Justice
Ryder
The Fixer Series