Silent is the Magpie

Magpie

This is a very compelling and moving book about a widow’s journey of self-discovery and of capturing the essence of herself outside the boundaries of wife, widow, mother, daughter, business woman.

Retreating for a yearlong escape from her ordinary, Jamie Barlow finds a new definition of herself in the mountain home she and her deceased husband own. Embracing nature and the beauty that surrounds her, Jamie embarks on a personal campaign to discover who she really is as an individual not defined by her roles. Along the way, she meets Jacob Kelly, a lost soul seeking meaning in a life that has lost it. Their relationship builds and grows as they learn from each other how to live in a world that has completely changed for them both.

Every Time You Go Away

every time

I have not read anything by Beth Harbison in quite a while and was delighted when I found Every Time You Go Away. I was not disappointed! It is a completely captivating story about a woman, Willa, struggling after her husband, Ben, dies and must, after three years, face preparing their beach home for sale. Her loss of vigor for life has affected her relationship with her teen son, Jamie, actually devastating each of them with the loss of how their relationship used to be.

The meat of the story is found in the ghost of her dead husband who visits her and talks to her at the beach house. He is there to pull her back into life and into an improved relationship with their son.

She is joined at the house by her best friend, Kristin, Kristin’s daughter, Kelsey and Jamie. As the summer and renovations progress, Willa finds there is life after Ben.

The Family Tabor

tabor

This is a haunting book about a family in which all the members are at odds with themselves at the same time. The adult children, Simon, Phoebe, and Camille are joining their parents in Palm Springs to celebrate their father’s achievement. Harry Tabor has been named Palm Springs’ Man of the Decade for his work to bring immigrant Jewish families to America and get them settled. Out of the blue, he begins to suffer from a pang of conscience about something he did in the past, a wrong he suddenly and desperately needs to right. Simon is struggling with an unknown void in his life that has driven sleep from his nights and is causing him to fill the void with running. Phoebe has a lucrative lawyer practice and longs for the elusive husband and family. Camille is so deep into a depression that she does not know where her life is headed. Trying to pull things together is Roma, wife and mother, a child psychologist faced with the troubling problems of her own children.

When Harry disappears, the cracks in the family open and each member must find a way to fill them and move ahead with life be it through truth or faith.

Where Hope Begins

hope begins

I generally avoid books with a religious theme but was drawn to Where Hope Begins and am glad I read it. It is not a preachy, in your face novel but one that gentles maintains the hope that can be found in God. The novel covers topics of suicide, betrayal and imminent death in heartfelt tones while still imparting the pain that was caused or will be caused by each event. The religious side of the events is not written in an in your face, believe it or not, your choice manner but in one that is credible and believable. The story itself is very well written, conveying the myriad of emotions that each character feels and expressed in a realistic, sometimes heart wrenching manner. It is a book well worth reading.

The Testament of Harold’s Wife

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There are some super funny parts in this book about a woman bent on revenge. Playing out against a developing Plan to get even with the man who killed her grandson in a car accident and who, she feels, is then responsible for her husband’s death, is also the lives of the people involved in the Plan. She is devoted to her Plan and the steps she takes to bring it to fruition.

It is a well thought out book with a tone of humorous diversion.

All that’s Left of Me

all that's left

This book really made me think about what I would honestly do if I learned that my wishes were coming true. For Emma, all her disappointments begin to crash into each other, starting with a continuously barking dog next door that mysteriously does not exist one day. This is after she wishes the neighbors never got the dog to begin with. Emma’s troubles continue: a sexual predator boss, an uncommunicative teenage daughter, an unsatisfying relationship with her husband, and the biggie-a son with cerebral palsy. Yeah, you can see the road she might travel but to what ramifications? That’s what got me thinking: what would the ramifications be of my wishes-what would change or no longer exist? It is a mind boggling thought when all you really want is for things to be different.

Sweeter than Wine

sweeter

Romance, the past and family strains combine in the pleasurable book set on a family vineyard in Bordeaux. Love blooms between a young woman working in the vineyard home and their college age son. Nicole is working to save for college abroad, is struggling with her lack of relationship with  her mother while enjoying the vineyard owner’s wife’s company. The son, Andy, returns from college and falls in love with Nicole. There are so many more parts to the story, though, things the characters must face and work through as the year progresses.

Lone Star Hero

lone star hero

This is a funny, feisty, thoroughly entertaining book! The dialog is so witty and oft times deep, the characters are crazy good and so engaging that you will be anxiously awaiting the next book in the Calamity Valley series.

Three remote Texas towns are under the threat of demolition by a huge development company. Hopeless, Surrender and Reckless were founded by three women in the late 1800’s and prospered until times changed. Only an infusion of tourism can save the dying towns. That is exactly the plan that Molly Mckillop has in mind. She is a descendent of the three founding mothers and prey to the curse their husbands put on all the Mckillop women.

She is determined to renovate the hacienda left to her and start a photography business based on the beauty of the surrounding area. Problem is, the hacienda was ruined years ago and needs an entire roof put on. She has no funds as her former fiancé absconded with all her money. Enter Saul Solomon, a man searching for peace and running from a crazy woman and a past full of familial hurt.

Their encounters are brilliant: witty, lively and so sparkling. Plus, there are her soothsayer grandmother and her hiding her gifts mother adding more spark to the story.

Harry’s Trees

Harrys trees

This is a crazy, full of nutty characters book with a fabulous story connecting all of them im a fairy tale based adventure.

Harry Crane devotedly loved his wife and lost her to a moment in time he daily lives to regret. Amanda only loved Dean, a strong, burly outdoorsman felled by an aneurism. How Harry and Amanda come together to drive this fantastic plot is touching, fun and, in some cases, laugh out loud at the antics of the supporting cast. Add in Amanda’s daughter, Oriana, and her fairy tale book that drives Harry along and you have the best story ever.

The Widow’s Watcher

Widows

I found The Widow’s Watcher to be so engrossing and fascinating. The need for redemption and forgiveness is ever present as two unlikely but emotionally similar people seek relief from the guilt that haunts them.

When grieving wife and mother, Jenna, encounters Lars Jorgensen, an “old bastard” she is at her last straw, her emotions shredded by the tragic deaths of her entire family. Lars has his own haunting past of a wife and two children that disappeared and only his mentally unstable wife returned.

Together Lars and Jenna form a conflicted bond and alliance. She is determined to find the truth behind the disappearance and he is resolved to find a way to help her survive the life that lies ahead without her family.

It is a touching novel, often haunting, about two lost souls attempting to find delivery and peace.