Thirty days to thirty by Courtney Peak

CAMP Publishing, 2015

Jill Stevens thinks she has it all – a job at a high powered law firm and the man of her dreams when everything crashes down around her, including her job and romance. After moving back home she discovers a list she made of things she wanted to accomplish before she turned thirty and sets off on adventures to check everything off her list. Cute story.

The First gift by Ruth Logan Herne

Franciscan Media, 2016.

Kerry is a teacher in a school in upstate New York, dating a successful doctor, but not entirely happy with her relationship as the terms are dictated to her by her boyfriend when he does make time to see her. A change comes into her life by way of a neglected child who has never been to school. Kerry fights hard for Cassie to attend school and once that obstacle is overcome, she discovers the girl if very bright. Parents complain about the girl’s hygiene and Kerry goes above and beyond to make the girl’s life better with the help of a firefighter with two young sons, who lost his wife in a car accident. Just when everything seems to fall in place for the blended family, tragedy strikes and it will take the help of many friends and neighbors to have a happy ending. Delightful, heartwarming story.

Last bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

Thorndike Press, 2015

When Donal Cameron’s grandmother has to have surgery, the orphan is sent from Montana on a bus to Wisconsin to stay with a great aunt. During his ride he meets many interesting people and invites them to write in his autograph book. Aunt Kate is not overly friendly, or anything like what he expected, but Uncle Herman becomes his co-conspirator. Fascinated by Donal’s descriptions of life in Montana and the Indian tribes, Uncle Herman decides they should run away from his shrewish aunt, but his uncle leaves out one important fact about how he came from Germany to America. Counting on Uncle Herman’s pension money to live on, they run away together getting into many scrapes and adventures on their way back to Montana. A great coming of age story.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Scribner, 2009.

It is easy to see why this book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize not once, but twice.  With her brothers working in England and her older sister at home, Eilas, like many young Irishwomen and men, goes to America to find work in the 1950’s, sponsored by her former priest. The trip over is miserable, but soon she is settled in Brooklyn living in a boarding house. She is employed in a shop that sells women’s hosiery while going to night school to earn a business degree.

Attending dances with the other boarders doesn’t bring her any luck in finding a boyfriend until she meets a young Italian man she falls in love with. Called back to Ireland after a death in the family, she quickly settles into her old life, forgetting her obligations in New York and risking the life she built in America.

Engaging story about immigrant life in New York City in the 1950’s.

The Woman in cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Scout Press, 2016.

Laura is awaken one night by an intruder in her small apartment, leaving her traumatized, but she has to pull herself together because she has scored a big assignment for the travel magazine she works for to go on a new super-luxury cruise ship on its maiden voyage through the Norwegian fjords. Before she leaves she has a fight with her boyfriend so by the time she gets to the ship she is pretty much an emotional wreck, drinking too much and not at the top of her game. She meets the girl in the next cabin briefly while borrowing some makeup for the important first night dinner, but after that she doesn’t see the girl and no one on board acknowledges there was anyone in that room. She begins to think she’s going crazy as she continues to investigate on her own, putting herself in danger from the killer on board. Very tense thriller. It took me awhile to warm up to Laura because at first she wasn’t a very likable character.

The secret horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

 

Random House, 2016.

During World War II British children were removed from London out into the country where it was thought they would be safer from German bomb raids. In this story Emmaline is sent to a great home in the country far from London with other children. Her best friend, Anna, is very ill and Emmaline, though not as bad off, is suffering from tuberculous as well.  Besides looking after her friend, she is taken with the ponies it seems only she and perhaps the stable hand can see. She goes to great lengths to try to care for her friend including trying to find a list of things that might save her and in the process learns that sometimes things just must be believed because there is no rational explanation. A wonderful children’s book.

Widow-maker by Paul Doiron

Minotaur Books, 2016.

Mike Bowditch, a district warden in Maine, is startled by a visitor to his home that claims to be the mother of his half-brother. Mike knows his father was no saint, but the news still unsettles him a little.  She wants him to help her son, Mike’s half-brother he never knew about. The young man was a senior at the Alpine Sports Academy when he was accused of statutory rape of his girlfriend and sent to a minimum-security facility. Recently released, he now lives at a logging camp, but his mother hasn’t been able to get in touch with him. Mike doesn’t know what to think of Amber Langstrom but agrees to look into it.   Mike goes to great lengths to check out her story and locate his half-brother, while working other cases such as a half-wolf dog that will be put down if he can’t find a place for it. Really enjoy this book and plan to read others in the series.