At Home in Last Chance (A Place to Call Home #3) by Cathleen Armstrong
Rating: * * * *
I love this book!
Kaitlyn has made her mistakes, but if you think you get to rub her nose in ’em, you got another think comin’. And then there’s feckless Steven, with a definite penchant for putting his foot in his mouth. I tut-tutted right along with Steven’s grandmother, watching Kaitlyn and Steven bump their way past the misunderstandings and ruffled feathers to a very satisfying ending.
I will definitely be adding this book to my collection. If you like this book, you may also enjoy The First Boy I Loved by Cheryl Reavis.
Thank you to Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the Advance Reader Copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
A Change of Heart by Barbara Longley (Perfect, Indiana #3)
Rating: * * * *
Cory, battling PTSD, broke, unable to access veterans benefits, living in a trailer home with her mother, somewhat reluctantly accepts the push to start over with a new job in a new town, surrounded by other veterans dealing with PTSD. Although she learns to trust all those she works with, her strongest bond is with Ted, the only non-veteran in the bunch, a man struggling with his own identity issues, being seen as a kid and feeling like an outsider in the business he dreamed up and co-founded.
For every bit of progress Cory makes, she also experiences horrifying nightmares. Although she recognizes the progress, she also notes that “one notch above miserable can feel like relief.” I recently saw an episode of Star Trek: DS9 that sums up what Cory finally understands: “Running may help for a little while, but sooner or later the pain catches up with you, and the only way to get rid of it is to stand your ground and face it.” And so Cory faces it.
This book brims with hope. And pain, yes, but always the hope that a better, fuller life is possible and that the characters can achieve that by facing down their pain. Periods of hopelessness do not equal giving up. And that is why I will read this book again and again.
I received an advance reader copy through NetGalley.
Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf, read by Donald Corren
Rating: * * * * *
Being dead allows a man to investigate his own murder.
This book kept me absolutely riveted. Each twist and turn was more fascinating than the last. Consider it a primer on fraud, intrigue, identity theft, and erasing oneself. To say more would spoil the story. I highly recommend this book.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron, read by Meryl Streep
Rating: * * * *
This is a laugh-out-loud story of surviving the breakup of a marriage.
I highly recommend this recording just to hear Meryl Streep bring it to life. I wouldn’t have found the story half as funny had I read it in print: Streep’s inflections and timing bring out humor I would certainly have missed from the cast of self-indulgent characters.
Ephron penned many popular screenplays, including Sleepless in Seattle. The first print edition of Heartburn was published in 1983. This audio recording was released in 2013.
If you like this, you may also like Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen.
The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison, audiobook read by Karen White and Donald Corren
Rating: * * * *
Jodi and Todd, together for 20 years, are unraveling as a couple. Todd goes too far and Jodi can no longer tolerate his philandering. Todd no longer sees the need to pretend he has only one reality, the one he inhabits with Jodi.
Told in alternating “his” and “hers” chapters, this is an unnerving tale related through Jodi’s dogged denial and Todd’s casual ability to lead multiple lives. The life they have built together is equally as solid as a relationship can be and as shaky as if built on quicksand. What is truth? What is betrayal? If one doesn’t acknowledge a truth or a betrayal, does that make it a lie?
Jodi reminds me a good deal of Madolyn, the psychiatrist in the 2006 movie The Departed.
The publisher’s description of this book does the reader a gross disservice by saying it “rush[es] haplessly toward the main event.” In actuality, this book rushes not at all. It does, however, cover a great deal of ground before it reaches the main event, which by that time does seem hapless. And that’s the genius of the book: it is disturbing precisely because it is not disturbing enough – until it is.
Jailbird by Heather Huffman
Rating: * * * *
A young woman convicted of murdering a socially connected young man escapes from prison after 10 years behind bars and re-learns how to hope, dream, plan…live. She meets Charlie and his daughter, who help her define normal. She is reunited with relatives she hasn’t seen since her conviction. She soon learns that the family of the man she killed is close to finding her and returning her to prison. With the help of good friends and lawyer Charlie, she is able to evade capture.
Huffman writes about social justice issues, but writes them in a non-preachy, very readable style. This is the second of her books that I have read. It comes complete with the expected happily ever after, but the happiness doesn’t come without cost. Social injustices and attitudes are highlighted, but not dwelt upon ad nauseum. A little simplistic perhaps, but palatable for that very reason.
Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong
Rating: * * *
Lainie Davis, on the run from her old life, ends up in Last Chance, NM. What she hopes will be a few hours’ stay while her car is repaired turns into months as she finds a job, makes new friends, and begins to trust others besides herself. She meets and befriends Ray, who is also in Last Chance by circumstance rather than by choice. Lainie finds herself wishing she could remain in Last Chance forever, although she fears her past will catch up with her and she will be forced to leave.
Welcome to Last Chance is a novel about chances: 2nd, 3rd, last chances. Every character in the story is offered chances: to make a better 2nd impression on someone; to see the impact of their words and deeds on others; to change lives in ways tiny to huge. What each person chooses to do with those chances makes the story.
Lainie is independent and stubborn. I cheered at her take-no-guff response to being harassed by a customer, and I laughed out loud at the outfit she chose for her first Sunday outing in town, an outing she was ordered to attend, much to her disgust. Her choices are not always the wisest, but she does take responsibility for her own actions.
This is Cathleen Armstrong’s debut novel. While at times it is awkward due to too much dialogue and a hazy timeline, I enjoyed the book. If you like this novel, you may also like Lisa Wingate’s Daily, TX series.
I received an advance reader copy from NetGalley.