The Lido – Libby Page

Source: Goodreads

Kate Matthews has lived in Brixton, London, for a year and knows no one. She’s a writer for the local paper, and she loves interviewing people, but she’s yet to be assigned anything she can sink her teeth into.
Rosemary Peterson has lived in Brixton all her life. She’s seen the neighborhood change as wars, love, and businesses came and went, and every day she swims at the lido (an outdoor pool), where some of her dearest memories were made.
Kate and Rosemary’s worlds collide the day it is announced that the lido will close. Kate has been assigned to write about the closure and it’s effect on the town, and she starts her story by interviewing Rosemary. A single meeting changes both of their lives, and the two women come to realize they will do everything within their power to keep the lido from closing.

I picked up this book by accident. My friend Hannah and I went to the movie theater to see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, and they were handing them out for free at the ticket counter. Why, I may never know. Hannah and I went home and devoured the book. It was heartfelt, deep, and shockingly real. Rosemary deals with the loss of her husband, and Kate deals with crippling anxiety. They both find their focus and community by swimming at the lido, and it’s threatened closure sets their lives in downward spirals. The two women find meaning in their mutual friendship and build new lives in a town they thought was falling apart around them.
I still can’t believe Page is a debut author. Her writing speaks of years of experience, and the way she gets into characters’s heads is enchanting. I had trouble putting this book down and nearly started it over again when I finished, it was that good. I for one can’t wait to see what Page writes next.
Stay tuned for a live video discussion between Hannah, myself, and our friend Hallee once she finishes reading it. We’ll talk plot, writing style, and marketing strategies.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Watch Hollow – Gregory Funaro

Source: Goodreads

Lucy and Oliver Tinker live with their father at his clock repair shop, scraping by selling antiques ever since their mother passed away. When the rich Mr. Quigley walks in at closing one day and offers Mr. Tinker a fortune to fix a giant clock at his home in Rhode Island, they can’t say no. Blackford house is situated in the middle of nowhere, falling apart at the seams and without electricity. The forest around the house is barren and quiet despite it being the height of summer, but Lucy is determined to make Blackford house home. Then the wooden animal statues she finds around the house start talking, and Oliver meets a mysterious boy who lives in the dark woods. Before long the Tinkers are drawn into a centuries old war between light and dark, and the fate of Blackford house hangs in the balance.

I received an ARC of Watch Hollow from the author in exchange for an honest review, but this is something I would have eventually picked up anyway. The characters are lovable and yet complex for a middle-grade book, and I love how the world itself is alive. The plot moved well and I was quickly swept up in the Tinker’s adventures. Funaro plans a sequel, making this a duology, and The Maze of Shadows is sure to be just as good when it comes out next year.

My favorite part of this book was definitely the clock animals. The whole idea of light and dark being incarnate in them, balancing the powers and powering the clock and providing electricity for the house, not to mention the naming conventions – Torsten Six, Fennish Seven, Tempest Crow – Everything about them is just fantastic. My second favorite part was obviously the shadowood vs. sunstone debate, and the ash-acorns. At ~250 pages, this book was the perfect length to get wrapped up in. I would have loved to read this as a child, and it’s still great as an adult! I will definitely be picking up the sequel next year.

Available from January 12th wherever books are sold!

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Other reviews in this series:
The Maze of Shadows (Available 2020)

Getting Rid of Bradley – Jennifer Crusie

Getting-Rid-Of-Bradley-Jennifer-Crusie

Source: Goodreads

 

Lucy Savage dreams of having her little house all to herself, hanging out with her dogs after she’s done teaching physics for the day at the local high school. There’s just one problem: Bradley. When her cheating husband stands her up in divorce court, she’s beyond getting over him, she just wants to get rid of him.
Enter Officer Zack Warren, who is investigating Bradley for embezzlement. When someone shoots at Lucy and blows up her car, he assigns himself to be her 24-hour security team and moves into her quiet, peaceful house (minus the three dogs and attack cat). Unsure about whether or not to trust the long-haired, leather-jacket-wearing, supposed good-guy in her kitchen, Lucy is only sure of two things. Her life is not safe outside the house, and her heart may not be safe inside it.

 

This book really made the rounds this summer. My sister’s friend brought it to read while we were all on vacation together in June. She finished it quickly and then my sister picked it up. I got it from my sister, and after reading it in a day I immediately passed it on to our mother. Needless to say, we all loved it. Originally published in 1994, the mostly pre-cell-phone era allowed for even greater shenanigans than would be possible today. Crusie’s characters (including the animals!) are full and interesting, quirky in their own ways. The plot is woven thickly, and I could never quite figure out what would happen next.

I can’t explain much more about the plot without going into spoilers, but Getting Rid of Bradley is part mystery, part romance, and all fun. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to wrap up their summer reading with a danger and romance filled feel-good story.

 

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars

Life and Death (Twilight, #1.75) – Stephenie Meyer

life-and-death-stephenie-meyerSource: Goodreads

Beaufort Swan has spent his whole life being a grown up, and he’s tired of it. His mom is finally set to get remarried, and his new stepdad wants to move the family from Arizona to Florida. Beau, recognizing that everything is already about to change, makes the decision to move in with his biological father in Washington state. His mom has someone to take care of her, and Beau will have a chance at being a normal high school junior.

Getting used to the never ending rain of Forks Township soon becomes the least of Beau’s worries, while making new friends and trying to figure out why his perfect-in-every-way lab partner seems to hate his guts quickly take priority, but some of the answers could cost him everything.

 

Stephenie Meyer celebrates the 10th anniversary of the first Twilight book by gender swapping and rewriting it. Many have even speculated that she did it because everyone complained so much about how the original Edward used and abused Bella, and she wanted to show that it had nothing to do with their genders, but with the fact that one of them was a vampire and one of them was a human. Life and Death was originally released with Twilight, packaged together as a 10th-anniversary edition. I didn’t really feel the need to own another copy of the first book, so I waited until Life and Death was released independently. I picked up a paperback copy at my local Barnes & Noble for about $10.

It was a little slow at the beginning, and I also had a hard time figuring out who was who, having read the books and seen the movies nearly six years ago now. As far the Twilight craze went, I was a bandwagoner. My friend Christine read the books as they came out and was really surprised when the craziness appeared out of nowhere just before the final book, Breaking Dawn was released and the first Twilight movie was announced. I remember the books sweeping through our Catholic high school like wildfire, just as The Hunger Games would do three years later. Suddenly everyone had read the books, and vampires were the cooler than The Jonas Brothers. But I digress.

Life and Death gender swaps everyone, even minor background characters, except for Charlie and Rene, Bella/Beau’s parents, because at the time of his/her birth, it would have been very unlikely for the father to get full custody, so it wouldn’t make logical sense for Beau to be moving to Forks to stay with a mom who should have had custody all along. Everyone’s names start with the same letter as their old name, in an attempt to make it easier to figure out who is who. Though Mike/McKayla was the only one I could pick out without any trouble.

While I can’t tell you how many times or where exactly the book started to veer from the original, I can tell you that it does veer quite a bit. (I guess that’s why they released them together?) Beau is significantly more clumsy, and fearless, wishing to be the adult in all of his familial relationships, and obsessively in love with Edythe (or maybe the obsessive love was just more apparent from the male perspective? Bella’s thoughts were relatively quiet in comparison) and this ultimately drives the story in new directions. The majority of the Cullens have only very small parts, and everything after the slow beginning moves almost too quickly, though you probably guessed that by the fact that this novel is shorter than Twilight.

Overall, I felt it was well done, despite the slow beginning and the character confusion, and I actually enjoyed the new ending. While Twilight could never have ended that way, it made perfect sense for Beau and Edythe’s story to end there. I think I will always love the original quartet more, but it was refreshing and unique to be able to take a book I really enjoyed and look at it from a new perspective. I felt that I was able to get into the characters’ heads in new ways, and maybe understand Meyer’s world a little more thoroughly. I just need a list of people with their male/female names so I can get all of the characters straight in my head. Just thinking about it hurts.

 

Curio Street Reads Rating: 3.75 Stars

The Rumor – Elin Hilderbrand

The-Rumor-Elin-Hilderbrand

Source: Goodreads

 

Summer on Nantucket is never complete without a good rumor, but no one ever expected that the rumor mill would drag in the island’s most envied couples. Novelist Madeline King is struggling to meet her deadlines, while Grace and Eddie Pancik’s relationship is reportedly on the rocks. To make everything worse, Madeline’s son and Grace’s daughter’s budding romance could implode at any moment. The whole island is soon watching the Kings and the Panciks. Can the two families put the rumors to rest and survive the summer?

 

I finally managed to get a library card up here in Boston, and decided it was time for some summer reads. I’ve heard a lot about Elin Hilderbrand, and the majority of it has been good, so I thought I would give The Rumor a shot.

The story takes place on Nantucket, an island just off the coast of Massachusetts. The reader follows two couples as well as their children, giving us about seven different prospectives to view the situation from. Madeline is a struggling writer who is married to a local airline pilot, and her best friend Grace was raised in a well-to-do family and married a high-end real estate agent. Grace has twin daughters, Allegra and Hope, while Madeline has a son, Brick, and desperately wishes for more children.

The ‘rumor’ itself starts out as a simple misunderstanding, but before the characters realize it they have been swept up into one big mess that sits teetering over their lives. Money, love, and livelihoods hang in the balance.

The entire time I was reading this, I wasn’t entirely sure if I liked it or not. It’s nearly un-put-downable because it jumps perspectives rather than having chapter breaks, but the story is not the kind of thing I usually enjoy reading. It had that whole slowly-falling-into-horrible-danger thing going for it like The Great Gatsby or just about anything by Hemingway, with a dash of A Streetcar Named Desire thrown in for good measure. All stories that fascinated me, but weren’t particularly enjoyable to read.

The plot, while fairly predictable, played out well, and the characters were superbly well developed. I really enjoyed getting to know each character individually, and Hilderbrand did a wonderful job of differentiating between people so I could figure out who’s perspective I was reading from fairly easily whenever I picked up the book.

If you enjoy a good, mildly steamy, summer beach read, this is the book for you. While not as light-hearted as I had initially expected, it definitely made my time spent reading it interesting.

 

HHC Rating: 3.75 Stars

Molly Bell and the Wishing Well – Bridget Geraghty

Molly-Bell-And-The-Wishing-Well-Bridget-Geraghty

Source: Goodreads

Still grieving her mother’s death two years prior, Molly Bell is less than thrilled with the prospect of a brand new stepmother and little stepbrother. When her dad and new mom head off on their honeymoon and Molly and Henry are left at their grandparents’ farm, and Molly discovers the old wishing well where her Aunt Joan claims all the wishes she ever made came true. Molly is convinced that if she wishes hard enough, things will go back to the way they were, and she could be happy again. The consequences of wishes are much larger than Molly anticipated, however, and her selfish desires start to disrupt what happiness she has left. Now she’ll need to figure out it’s possible to undo wishes, or if she’ll have to learn how to make things right on her own.

First-time author Bridget Geraghty makes a permanent mark with this book. I was granted a copy by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and I just have to thank them for giving me this book! I wasn’t initially impressed with the very simple sentences in the first few chapters, but as the main character cheered up the sentences became more complex and I thought that was awesome. The book is written for middle-grade/juvenile readers, but it is definitely something enjoyable at any age.

The light went out in Molly Bell’s eyes when her mom died, and she’s struggling with her dad’s imminent remarriage. Her now stepmom, Faith, is nice, but it’s hard to like someone when they’re replacing your mother. Molly is also not excited about gaining an annoying little brother in Henry, and it’s especially hard to watch her family love Henry while they seemingly ignore her. At her grandparents’ farm, Molly learns hard lessons about the power of wishing which leads her in learning to accept the life she has now and loving the people she’s been given.

It’s a good thing this book is short because I sobbed through the entire thing. It was heart-wrenching to follow Molly through her struggle to find happiness again, but there was true beauty in the discovery. I highly recommend reading this. The lessons shared here are just so powerful, and I think they could be potentially life-changing for anyone who might be going through the same struggles that Molly faces.

HHC Rating: 4 Stars

Double Down (Lois Lane, #2) – Gwenda Bond

Lois-Lane-Double-Down-Gwenda-Bond

Source: Goodreads

 

When nothing news-worthy comes her way, Lois is stuck writing a human interest story about an artist painting a community mural. Not her idea of great. It does, however, put her in a prime location to see someone she knows collapse in the street in a bad part of town. On top of that, she’s got a maybe-maybe-not virtual boyfriend and a convicted ex-mayor who might just be innocent to deal with. Once again, Lois Lane is in over her head with only one way out: solve the mystery, and get her story.

 

This sequel to Bond’s first Lois Lane adventure, Fallout, is even better than the first. Now that the characters have been established, the reader gets to learn more about the city that serves as the backdrop to this wonderful series. Metropolis is a big city on a small island, and Lois Lane is determined to protect every part of it from evil, whether that means going up against principles, mayors, or mobsters.

I really enjoyed the flow of the plot in this one. There weren’t many slow parts, I was never bored, and the twists were timed perfectly for effectiveness. While I wasn’t kept guessing at everything until the end, I did enjoy how Bond had Lois put the puzzle pieces together. The character relationships are all developing and morphing, which I find immensely interesting.

The secondary storyline was almost too much for me, but I found that it fit well in the end, and after all life doesn’t wait for it to be a convenient time to drop issues on you. While it does complicate Lois’ storyline, I like that she has this connection with Clark even though he’s not physically in her life. It adds another dimension to her character, and also somewhat polarizes the two parts of her life as business and emotional. I’m interested to see where Bond takes that relationship in relation to the rest of Lois’ life.

Ultimately, this book was well-written and the action did not disappoint. Definitely recommended if you enjoyed the first one or if you enjoy Superman/Lois Lane stories. I still feel that Lois is just the antidote to the superpower-dominated major hero category that we all need in our lives. Her values and gumption are just the sorts of things that people everywhere can look up to and aspire to with rationality rather than impossibility.

 

Curio Street Reads Rating:  4.5 Stars

 

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Fallout
Book #3 – Triple Threat