The Light We Lost asks the question: is a first love your one true love

33637339When I first started reading The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. I didn’t understand why Lucy Carter was telling Gabe Samson about their relationship from when they first met. It felt weird to me. I thought maybe it was a look back at what their life was like.  But I soon got used to the narration and was pulled into Lucy’s life.

Lucy first met Gabe on September 11, 2001 while they are in college.  On a rooftop under a grey cloud of ash, she kissed him for the first time and lost her heart forever. They move in together and start planning their life.  But Gabe is unfulfilled living in New York and being in a relationship. As he pursues his photography, he realizes he needs to go abroad and capture the struggles and political turmoil.  He wants to head to the Middle East and asks Lucy to go with him. But Lucy loves her job and knows following Gabe around the world will only make her resent his pursuit of his passions while she suppresses hers. So Gabe leaves and they move on living separate lives.

Lucy eventually meets Darren and even though she keeps comparing him to Gabe, she loves him differently but just as much as Gabe. They marry and soon have their daughter Violet. Even though Lucy has a wonderfully supportive husband and a good marriage, she seems to be connected to Gabe. She looks for his photos, she emails with him and she takes his phone calls. When he is in town, she drops everything to see him.

There were times I wanted to smack Lucy for what she was doing to her marriage. There were times I wanted to smack Darren for his jealousy even though Lucy was with him and I wanted to smack Gabe for always pulling Lucy back into his life making it hard for her to leave him in the past where he belonged.  The character I loved the most was Violet.  What an adorable little girl.

This book made me smile but it also made me cry and it broke my heart in so many different ways. As the book progressed and things were revealed, I never would have expected the revelation at the end. It really made me change my view of Lucy’s narrative. This book snuck up on me. I almost abandoned after about 50 pages and I’m so glad I stuck it out. This was such a good book. If you pick this book up, give it a chance because it won’t disappoint.

Book Description:
Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Be careful what you wish for

22813276I have mixed feelings about How to Date Dead Guys by Ann M. Noser.  One, it was very well written and an interesting concept.  Two, I wanted to reach in and throttle Emma.  Emma is a very naive college student who can barely talk to a guy without showing how socially inept she is.  Her extrovert roommate and sister take Emma to a campus party where they leave Emma leaning on the wall by the beer keg while the party raved on around her.  In walks Mike and he is a vision of beauty to Emma, he is all she can see.  He is a guy that she could fall in love with.

When Mike’s 21st birthday rolls around, his friends and brother get him super drunk.  He leaves with Emma and wants to swim across the river where others have drowned.  Emma wants to do something crazy, so she decides to swim across the river with him.  But Emma makes it to the other side and Mike is nowhere to be found, which Emma thinks is all her fault.  Personally I thought it was partially her fault because if Mike was as drunk as he was, then I think she could have distracted him away from the river.

I was mad at Mike’s brother Kevin for getting him super drunk.  It drives me crazy when I hear about a 21-year-old over drinking on their birthday and either getting injured or die.  They have a lifetime to drink, their friends should know better than to keep pushing the drinks on them.

Emma finds a book of spells under her roommate’s bed and decides to bring Mike back.  Like that is a good idea.  Of course, she doesn’t get what she wants and soon dead guys are showing up all around her.  There is a reason they are showing up and Emma has to figure out how to help them while avoiding her roommate, who is dating Mike’s brother Kevin.

This is part paranormal romance, part mystery and very entertaining as the nightmare of one night pushes a young woman beyond her comfort zone and into the hearts and souls of strangers.  There are funny moments, sad moments and moments that might make you cry.  A very enjoyable story that makes you ask the question – would you bring someone back from the dead?

Book Description:
College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice: “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”. But when charming Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters.

Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back. Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell. The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury. As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he isn’t the only one.

Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a desperate victim determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand… at first.

More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows. Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims.

Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will ignite the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

A Man Called Ove brings out many emotions

18774964On Goodreads.com I have 17 books on my all-time favorite list but only a handful occupy the top slots.  A Man Called Ove (oo-vah) by Fredrik Backman has taken over the top spot and may never be removed from that spot.  It takes a special book to be on my all-time favorite list.  They must do one of the following: make me fall in love with the characters, scare the sh*t out of me, make me think, make me smile and snort with laughter, make me have questions at the end so that I want to have a discussion with the author and books should make me so emotional that my dog has to comfort me because I am sobbing so uncontrollably.

A Man Called Ove hits many of these components.  It made me smile, it made me want to smack characters on the back of the head, it made me snort with laughter, gasp in shock and it made me sob with happiness and sob with sadness.  Just telling people they have to read this book brings tears to my eyes thinking about Ove and the other cast of characters.  So to say I absolutely loved this book doesn’t explain how much this book touched me.

All the characters are well developed and very entertaining.  Ove (oo-vah) is such a grumpy man he reminds me of a combination of men in my life, past and present.  He thinks everyone should follow the rules and he will make sure you do.  He doesn’t care what people think, he is going to tell them what to do because he knows how things should be done.  The book starts out with Ove trying to buy a computer.  He is so frustrated not understanding what the salesman is telling him and the salesman is so flustered by Ove’s gruffness that Ove is passed to a manager who doesn’t want to deal with him.

Then Ove meets a couple trying to back up a trailer where no vehicles are allowed.  Patrick, who Ove calls the Lanky One and his wife Parvaneh, who Ove calls the Pregnant One don’t seem to notice Ove’s grumpiness or abruptness.  Parvaneh gives back to Ove what he gives.

“What the hell are you doing?” Ove roars at the woman.

“Yes, that’s what I’m asking myself!” she roars back.

Ove is momentarily thrown off-balance.  He glares at her.  She glares back. 

Backman does such a great job with dialog that at times I snort with laughter and reading bits and pieces to family members made them laugh.  For example after the Lanky One can’t seem to get the car to straighten out, Ove tells him to get out of the car.

“Go and stand where you’re not in the way.”

The Lanky One nods, slightly confused.

“Holy Christ.  A lower-arm amputee with cataracts could have backed this trailer more accurately than you,” Ove mutters as he gets into the car.

I totally fell in love with all of the characters and didn’t want the book to end.  I’m still not ready to let these characters go.  I listened to the audiobook with actor George Newbern doing a fantastic job narrating.  I have since bought the book and plan to read it over and over.  Please take the time to meet Ove and the cast of characters who come into his life.  You will not be disappointed and you will be glad they came into your life.

Book Description:
Meet Ove.  He’s a curmudgeon – the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window.  He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him ‘the bitter neighbor from hell.’  But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness.  So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul.  All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Calling Me Home brings out many emotions in the reader

15793184Books can affect you in different ways.  Some put you to sleep, some make you laugh out loud, some make you have an ah ha moment, some make you fall in love with the characters, some scare the crap out of you (thank you Stephen King) and some grab onto you and don’t let go.  Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is one of those books that makes you laugh, cry, care so much for the characters that you don’t want to see them leave, and then it grabs onto your heart, chews it up and spits it out so that you have nothing left.  When I finished Calling Me Home, it took me several days to put my heart back together again.  There is a revelation that totally caught me off guard and broke my heart leaving me emotionally drained.

I listened to the audio version of Calling Me Home and it was beautifully read by Bahni Turpin and Lorna Raver who bring Dorrie and Isabelle to life.  I fell in love with both women.  They are very interesting, independent women who both have heart ache in their lives.

Calling Me Home is about Isabelle who has asked her hairdresser to drive her from Texas to Ohio for a funeral.  Isabelle is white and almost 90 while Dorrie is black and in her late 30’s to early 40’s.  As they are driving to Ohio, Isabelle tells Dorrie about her past.  She starts when she is 16 and first falls in love with Robert Prewitt, the black son of her family’s housekeeper.  Isabelle is the daughter of the town’s white doctor and lives where blacks are not allowed alone outside at night.

The story seamlessly flows between present day through Dorrie’s eyes and the 1930’s to present day through Isabelle’s eyes.  In her storytelling to Dorrie, Isabelle reveals what a strong woman she has had to be all her life.  She was determined to live the life she wants with Robert despite what her family wants for her.  Dorrie has her own troubles as a single Mom with a son close to graduating high school and who has a situation with his girlfriend.  Dorrie is also trying to figure out her relationship with her boyfriend and whether she should take the relationship further.

Isabelle and Dorrie have a special relationship that I just loved.  They are very supportive of each other and at one point Isabelle said she thinks of Dorrie as a daughter.  After this statement, they become even closer.

I totally fell in love with Isabelle and Robert.  The love they have for each other made me want them to succeed when society and their families are against them.  It’s so hard to wrap the mind around how hard it was in the 1930’s with interracial relationships now that it’s 2015.  There will people who will love this story like I did, and there will people who will have issues with the relationship between Isabelle and Robert.  All I know is that I will be recommending this book to anyone who wants a recommendation because Calling Me Home now resides on my top 10 favorite books of all time.

Book description:

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a big favor to ask her hairdresser, Dorrie.  She wants the black single mother to drop everything and drive her from Texas to a funeral in Ohio tomorrow.  Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious about Isabelle’s past, agrees, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.  Isabelle confesses that, as a teen in 1930’s Kentucky, she fell in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family’s housekeeper in a town where blacks weren’t allowed after dark.  The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences just might help Dorrie find her own way.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

When is loving someone right and when is it wrong?

I have mixed feelings about It’s You by D. Bunyan.  First of all, I have an issue with 23213223teachers having affairs with their students.  It’s so wrong on all levels because a teacher has the responsibility to protect a student and make sure no harm happens to them.  Outside of the classroom, the age difference between someone who is 18 and 25 is not that big of a difference.

With that said, I thought I would have a hard time reading this book but Bunyan does a great job of concentrating on the emotional attachment of the two men.  David is a school teacher in England and works with a lot of Level 6 students who are an equivalent of U.S. seniors.  Matt is a Level 6 student in David’s class and he is in love with David.

They have been playing squash together and David has been driving Matt home.  During one of the drives home, Matt professes his love for David.  Slowly David realizes that he has feelings for Matt too and then begins their relationship.  Matt is 18 when they first have sex and I think David is probably around 28.  David is also engaged to be married to Clare.  Clare is busy planning their wedding.  They are also getting David’s house ready to sell it so they can purchase a place that is just theirs.  Soon David is consumed by his love for Matt and needs to be with him all the time, which causes him to lie to Clare as he heads out on his bike, or tells her he is tutoring so he will be out late.

This book is about how deep we can love someone no matter what sex they are.  It’s about sorrow and how deep you can hit bottom when that love is gone.  It’s about coming to terms with your sexuality and accepting the love you have for someone.  I thought the relationship between David and Matt was beautifully written.  Even though it was very wrong for a teacher and student to have a relationship, the story really makes you look at how far you would go for the one you love.  I will say the ending was a little abrupt and I would have liked it to end slightly differently with more explanation of why Matt does what he does.

Book description:

David is about to marry and settle down to a prosperous future with a woman whose DNA probably matches his own. But a declaration of love that he fails to deal with both emotionally and professionally catapults him into a spiral of deceit and decline.

The opinions of an ambitious headmaster, a best friend, jealous lovers, errant parents, a failed businessmen, a Brazilian taxi driver and a handsome backpacker all surprise and confound him over his love for Mark. Will he ever come to his senses?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat