Book Review: Fishing! A Novel

Fishing! A NovelFishing!: A Novel by Sarah Stonich

A hilarious saga of fishing, family, and three generations of tough, independent women—the first in a trilogy 

Having fled the testosterone-soaked world of professional sport fishing, thirty-something RayAnne Dahl is navigating a new job as a consultant for the first all-women talk show about fishing on public television (or, as one viewer’s husband puts it, “Oprah in a boat”). After the host bails, RayAnne lands in front of the camera and out of her depth at the helm of the show. Is she up for the challenge? Meanwhile, her family proves as high-maintenance as her fixer-upper house and her clingy rescue dog. Her dad, star of the one-season Big Rick’s Bass Bonanza, is on his sixth wife and falling off the wagon and into RayAnne’s career path; her mother, a new-age aging coach for the menopausal rich, provides endless unwanted advice; and her beloved grandmother Dot—whose advice RayAnne needs—is far away and far from well.

But as RayAnne says, “I’m a woman, I fish. Deal with it.” And just when things seem to be coming together—the show is an unlikely hit; she receives the admiration of a handsome sponsor (out of bounds as he is, but definitely in the wings); ungainly house and dog are finally in hand—RayAnne’s world suddenly threatens to capsize, and she’s faced with a gut-wrenching situation and a heartbreaking decision.

First published in 2015 under a pseudonym, this first installment in a trilogy filled with hilarity and heartbreak unspools with the gentle wit and irresistible charm that readers of Sarah Stonich have come to expect. Fishing! eases us into unsuspected depths as it approaches the essential question . . . when should life be steered by the heart, not the rules? 

Review:
I really enjoyed this quirky book about RayAnne, a professional sport fisher who reluctantly becomes a talk show host on her fishing boat.
RayAnne’s character was fun for being so oblivious to her own talent and empathy, all the while trying to figure out her life and family relationships. There were many bittersweet moments, along with some off beat humour.
My favourite parts of the book were the interviews on the boat for the TV show. I loved these interesting women and the idea of such a different kind of talk show, one with real women doing interesting things rather than celebrities.
This was an engaging, light, interesting book that I quite enjoyed.
Thank you to Netgalley and The University of Minnesota Press for the review copy.
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Book Review: The Love Story of Missy Carmichael

The Love Story of Missy CarmichaelThe Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey

For readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and A Man Called Ove, a life-affirming, deeply moving “coming-of-old” story, a celebration of how ordinary days are made extraordinary through friendship, family, and the power of forgiving yourself–at any age.

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael shows us it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to love.

Review:
This is a sweet and easy to read book. Missy is a 79 year old woman who is set in her ways, lives for her grandson who lives abroad, and is obviously very lonely.
This is the story of her making friends, finding what she likes, developing community, and becoming alive again.
The book was really well told and I really felt for Missy. It is easy to see how one thing can lead to another and then you’re in a situation you don’t even know how to get out of it. I love books where people see that someone needs help and they find ways to be there.
And there’s a great dog!
This is a heartwarming novel and it’s nice to see a younger protagonist and one that interacts with people of different ages and backgrounds. Really well done!
Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the review copy.
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Book Review: The Authenticity Project

The Authenticity Project and green notebookThe Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

The story of a solitary green notebook that brings together six strangers and leads to unexpected friendship, and even love

Julian Jessop, an eccentric, lonely artist and septuagenarian believes that most people aren’t really honest with each other. But what if they were? And so he writes–in a plain, green journal–the truth about his own life and leaves it in his local café. It’s run by the incredibly tidy and efficient Monica, who furtively adds her own entry and leaves the book in the wine bar across the street. Before long, the others who find the green notebook add the truths about their own deepest selves–and soon find each other In Real Life at Monica’s Café.

The Authenticity Project’s cast of characters–including Hazard, the charming addict who makes a vow to get sober; Alice, the fabulous mommy Instagrammer whose real life is a lot less perfect than it looks online; and their other new friends–is by turns quirky and funny, heartbreakingly sad and painfully true-to-life. It’s a story about being brave and putting your real self forward–and finding out that it’s not as scary as it seems. In fact, it looks a lot like happiness.


The Authenticity Project is just the tonic for our times that readers are clamoring for–and one they will take to their hearts and read with unabashed pleasure.
Review:
I loved the concept of this book, that of someone writing their authentic truth in a book and leaving it for others to find and do the same. In an age of social media and comparing our lives to what other people present, this idea is appealing.
And the book does a great job of delving into it!
I loved the cast of characters and how they were woven together all because of the little green notebook — which is almost a character itself — and how it made them want to connect and help and be authentic. The characters were fun and their stories were compelling. They make mistakes, they take chances, they help and look out for one another. I wanted to wander down the street and stop for tea at Monica’s coffee shop myself.
This really is a charming book about connection and the author did a great job exploring this theme. It’s easy to read and get lost in on a cozy weekend.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Get a Life, Chloe Brown

(The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

Talia Hibbert, one of contemporary romance’s brightest new stars, delivers a witty, hilarious romantic comedy about a woman who’s tired of being “boring” and recruits her mysterious, sexy neighbor to help her experience new things—perfect for fans of Sally Thorne, Jasmine Guillory, and Helen Hoang.

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamourous family’s mansion. The next items?

Enjoy a drunken night out.
Ride a motorcycle.
Go camping.
Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

Review:
I loved reading Get a Life, Chloe Brown. I do not often read romance but this one caught my eye — namely because it involves the types of characters that are often underrepresented in books.
The main character is Chloe Brown, who has an invisible disability and is in constant pain. She struggles to do things that most people would find easy or normal. After being in a situation where she could have been killed, Chloe decides to get a life and makes a list of things she wants to do.
I love Chloe and feel that her character was really well done. Her illness felt authentically portrayed and I loved her strange tenacity, for example climbing a tree to save a cat when it really was the last thing she should have done. It is interesting to watch her grow as she tries to get out of her comfort zone and do things that many people take for granted.
Red, the handyman at the apartment building she lives in, is also an engaging character with a past of his own. He is elusive about himself, and with good reason as he is suffering from a trauma of a different sort.
Even though there are some big issues being dealt with, the book is told in a romantic comedy type of way full of traditional tropes and sexual tension. In fact, the book is quite steamy.
This is an interesting take on traditional romance and I would highly recommend it if you like explicit sexual romance that is both light and inclusive. It is difficult to balance humour and big issues and inclusiveness, but Hibbert does a great job.
Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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