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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly a Work of Art About a Historical Tragedy! GREAT for Book Clubs., 1 May 2015
Dead Wake

The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania

By Erik Larson

Written on the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania, this is an incredible page-turner. More like page-burner. I mean, we all know how this story ends, right? Over 1,000 souls were lost on May 7th, 1915 when a German U-20 submarine torpedoed the state-of-the-art luxury liner. Though there had been warnings, even a printed one in the shipping pages of the local tabloids, on the ship sailed, oblivious of its soon-to-be well-documented future on the bottom of the Celtic Sea.

"On the morning of the ship's departure from New York, a notice had appeared on the shipping pages of New York's newspapers. Placed by the German Embassy in Washington, it reminded readers of the existence of the war zone and cautioned that," vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction.

Author Larson is no stranger to the thriller genre, turning non-fiction into a compelling narrative full of human-ness, yet this one has a dread, like a dark shadow it coats every word. The story moves swiftly with the nearly unbearable truth of what's to come.

Impact!

"As the torpedo passed from view below the edge of the deck, there was an interval when nothing happened. In the next instant, 350 pounds of explosives detonated against the plates of the hull...the payload turned from solid to gas. The `phase change' released heat at a temperature exceeding 9,000 Fahrenheit, at immense pressure. A hole the size of a small house now existed below the water line."

And then there was the mysterious and highly secretive happenings in Admiralty's Room 40, Britain's top secret German-code deciphering room located in Britain's Admiralty Ripley Building. Britain knew of the German submarine's whereabouts, yet did nothing, in keeping with their harsh code of `ethics.' Room 40 was top secret and though they knew all, they shared nothing. All in the name of war and to ultimately bring America from its place of neutrality into the ravages of war. It eventually worked--two years later, America joined in WW1. Though the sinking of the Lusitania's influence on this decision is still debated today.

There did seem to be a real issue of Larson never passing judgment on the enormous loss of so many lives, of so many children who never had a life, of all those possibilities, stories never told. It could perhaps be a journalistic approach to something so full of pain that he choose to `report the facts' and leave the rest to history.

Captain Turner survived the sinking of his grand and great ship. Turner died of cancer of the intestines in 1933 being bedridden for the last five years of his life and remarking to visitors with bitter humor: I am all right fore and aft but my longitudinal bulkhead's given way.

"Captain Turner felt the loss of the Lusitania very much, and seldom mentioned it to anyone." He was quoted in a letter to a friend, "I grieve for all the poor innocent people that lost their lives and for those that are left to mourn their dear ones lost."

Some stories leave an impression, a veil that lingers long after the final passage is read.

This one will. This one should.


Lost Lake
Lost Lake
by Sarah Addison Allen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Lost in the Magic of this Wonderful Beach Read!, 27 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Lost Lake (Paperback)
Lost Lake
By Sarah Addison Allen

Magic realism. That's what is swirled into this captivating beach-read novel. Set in Georgia and happening now, we're moved through two storylines that eventually become one. This is my first read of this author's work and I totally enjoyed it. BUT, let it be known that this is not a novel full of clever twists and mystery. This is a put-your-feet-up and relax kind of read. And the writing is well worth a go, not to mention the unique and quirky characters.

And the alligator-boy.

Meet Kate Snoderly and her twelve year old daughter, Devin. Over a year has passed since Kate lost her husband and she's still reeling with sadness and grief. About to move in with her over-the-top controlling mother-in-law, she finds an old post card for Lost Lake and all bets are off!
Cue the music, rev up the car and off we go to the sleepy little resort called Lost Lake outside of Suley, Georgia. This is where years ago Kate spent the best summer of her life and now it's time to return. We soon learn that the falling down cottages and history-filled lodge are about to be bulldozed over by a local bad-boy with high-rises on the brain and a libido about to be magically charmed. Who says you can't work a little magic into a novel as long as there's the slightest possibility that maybe this could work.

Maybe.

Since Lost Lake is run by Kate's great Aunt Eby, you can see where this is headed. Part of the appeal of this type of predictive story-telling is that you can simply enjoy it instead of have reader's anxiety over how a character is going to climb out of whatever mess the author has tossed them into. The magic parts are done well and the realism comes to light by author Allen's turn of phrase and gentle tugs on the edges of reality.

There's also a ghost who lives in the fancy old kitchen next to the stove and there's several love stories too. Then there's alligator boy. This one aspect of the novel kind of knocked it off the rails for a second. A boy wanting to be an alligator so bad that he does. Poof! An accidental fire destroys a run-down home, kills a father and one of his sons. Wes survives and was the reason years ago Kate had the best summer ever. Young love. His dead brother, isn't really dead. Just up and decided to be an alligator. Was stretching it a little for me, but once you settle into the idea, it pans out.

Author Allen ties up all the story lines and leaves you with the possibility of a sequel. I like that. An ending, that's really a beginning. Isn't that the best storytelling especially if it takes a little magic?


Rooms
Rooms
by Lauren Oliver
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy Ghost Story with MANY Twists!, 29 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Rooms (Paperback)
Rooms
By Lauren Oliver

Creepy, I mean really creepy!

This novel is presented as a ghost story, which parts of it are. Three parts, actually. The entire story is told from all the character's POV and was done with skill and precision. Not an easy task when so many actors are vying for the reader's attention. One of the main attractions of this novel is how author Oliver creates this eerie relationship between the two main ghosts that literally inhabit the walls and floors and everything else of the Walker estate, but also what it must feel like to be a house.

Work with me here.

"I'm expecting Sandra (one of our ghost's) to make an idiotic comment but instead she simply mutters, "Bad business." I can feel her withdraw, curling into the walls, into the wood shavings, small, hard, and impregnable, as she always does when she's in a bad mood."

Mood. That's really what come across and over and under in this mess of a family who have come home to claim their inheritance. Ah yes, that old tale. Richard Walker has died and his boozing ex-wife, Caroline, along with her overly sex-crazed daughter Minna and her suicidal excuse of a brother, Trenton, are assembled with all their faults and half-fulfilled dreams. They have come to get their greedy hands on as much as they can of Richard's pile of money--and they do.

Sandra and Alice are icing on the cake. Ghosts in the walls and halls and light switches. They fuss and argue and only Trenton ends up hearing their whispery voices as they call up their pasts and why they're stuck in that old, falling down excuse of a house.

There are sentences that sing and soar with a power I found refreshing. Oliver used words in a new way. She deftly turns them slightly, weaving them into something other-than. Something we all know, but like this;

"But the weird thing is after a minute or two, I thought I could hear it. Not sound, but the opposite of sound. It was the slow accumulation of silence, the sticky, heavy drift of nothing, like watching shadows grow and turn to dark, or like this time I was a kid and saw a solar eclipse, watched a black disk float over the sun and saw all the light get swallowed up in an instant. Now I was hearing all the sounds of the world get swallowed up. When I opened my eyes, Martin was smiling again. "The sound of snow," he said."

Though most ghost stories end with the truth revealed, the curtain lifted, the sounds of life moving forward to a new light that holds some promise, not this go around. No way Jose. Oh sure, they get the money and the house, maybe, but several characters, the ghosts, get something else entirely. I'm not telling, but this sums up things in a loose-ends kind of way;

"People, Caroline thought, were like houses. They could open their doors. You could walk through their rooms and touch the objects hidden in their corners. But something--the structure, the wiring, the invisible mechanism that kept the whole thing standing--remained invisible, suggested only by the fact of its existing at all."

Do you believe in ghosts? Duh.


Breath to Breath
Breath to Breath
by Carrie Maloney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.92

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Just for Dog Lovers---Human Lovers Will LOVE This TOO!!!, 23 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Breath to Breath (Paperback)
Breath to Breath
By Carrie Maloney

I'll admit right up front that author Maloney is a friend of mine from way back, though any of you out there that have read my reviews know, that that doesn't make a dog-lick of a difference when it comes to sharing my honest thoughts with you.

So let's go!

Meet Dr. Anna Dunlop of the small Midwestern town, Milk River, the area's finest veterinarian and boy does this woman love dogs. Other animals too, sure thing, but dogs are her all-time favorite--paws down. I won't be giving anything away by sharing with you the fact that one really rotten person does something nasty to five new-born puppies and BAM, off the story trots and you along with it!

"Drawers and cupboard doors banged in all corners of the clinic as her new employee, Noah, scurried about, grabbing for supplies. A shock of thick hair slapped his forehead as he moved. At full volume, three caged dogs expressed their ardent desire to break free of their kennels and join in the action."

Though the story is woven tightly around the lives of these puppies, there's more than dog loving happening in Milk River. Through the use of backstory we learn early on that Anna once had the love of her life; Tony.

"...She noticed the stainless wall cabinet a little to her left and leaned over to catch her reflection. She wanted to see what love looked like."

There is a great deal of love-threads that tie this novel together, but the true link that pulls this collection of colorful characters forward is a refreshing community unified by one man's (Eddy) unique radio personality and some rather clever use of his Hawaiian heritage. Anna creates an hour-long radio show using the five newly adopted-out puppy's owners as guests. Though they share the lives of their four-footed-fur-balls with the on-air audience, Eddy sees what lies beneath their words.

"...But now that they're all here...every single clan member watches out for the others. Bad stuff is going to happen as we make our way up the mountain. But when it does, the whole family takes it on."

I should warn you, there are a few scenes that are tough to read, heavy things come down, just like in real life, but it all comes out in the end. Though once in a while Maloney may seem to over-explain things for fear of losing her reader, she ends each chapter with a snappy turn that makes you curious to continue on. The sign of a gifted writer who I know has only begun on the path of story and how words can wield power to remind us we're here for one reason; to help each other find our way...

...and that may just involve a dog by our side.

* Perfect for a book club, lots of issues to chew on.
* Who doesn't love a good dog tale times six?


The Scavengers
The Scavengers
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 12 Year Old Heriones ROCK!!!, 24 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Scavengers (Kindle Edition)
The Scavengers
By Michael Perry

Lovers of dystopian-themed stories voiced by twelve-year-old heroines consisting of a mixture of Annie Oakley with a dash of Laura Ingalls will totally dig this. Young Maggie, self-renamed Ford Falcon, is the kind of kid in grade school one would stay clear of.
This is one tuff chick.

Set in the near future, readers are thrown into an America gone bonkers. Now there are two worlds; Underbubble and Outbubble. The government is run by two crazed, greed-filled creeps and all the occupants of Underbubble are hooked on a hybrid corn that should have Monsanto nervous as hell. Aptly named; URCorn.

Though Wisconsin author Perry is normally known for his impressive non-fiction musings, he has stepped off into a dark new world of his own creation and boy does the man have an imagination. Bizarre weather patterns lead to total chaos and societal breakdown which sends the remaining population to either go Underbubble (a self-contained ‘perfect’ world/prison) or Outbubble. Once you choose to live in what is left of the outside world you must fend for yourself against some pretty incredible monster-like creatures who are in a desperate search of the chemical-laden hybrid corn. Called GreyDevils, they are hooked on this crack-like-corn and will stop at nothing to have more. And more.

Using his farming background and obvious political considerations, Perry stops at nothing to suggest a horrible possible future if things continue to devolve from a world of freedom to a world contained and controlled by a corrupt and rotten few. Our hero, Ford Falcon, and her family try and survive in a world gone mad for URCorn, but there are secrets coming undone and a power struggle all too familiar plays out in a bitter fight to the end. Or not?

“Sometimes you have to go out into danger in order to survive. And sometimes you have to strike out in order to protect yourself, and your things, and the people you love…”

This genre is not my typical choice, but I’ve always wondered what the attraction to reading about a future full of little hope could bring. Well there it is; hope. Through all the struggle, what Perry shines through with is that friends and family and community are all you truly need to face whatever the crummy side of life can bring on. Oh, and it might not hurt to have an old copy of some Emily Dickenson poems around to bring balance to a really bad day. My interest only faltered when one of Perry’s characters, Toad, speaks in spoonerism for no apparent reason. I was forced to stop and figure out the correct letters for the gibberish to make sense before reading on.

In the end a silo-falling concept from a previous work and a very clever leading lady, bring peace to a world on the edge of change. With oodles of loose ends left dangling in the wind, a sequel is the only answer. And maybe some of that URCorn.


North of the Tension Line
North of the Tension Line
by J.F. Riordan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Weekend Read---Come North & Leave Your Tesnion Behind!, 26 Sept. 2014
North of the Tension Line
By J.F. Riordan

Recently I was invited to the Fond du Lac Fondue Festival for a book event held at Book World. There were over 15 Wisconsin authors there and I was lucky enough to share a table with newly published author, J.F. Riordan. Her novel had literally come hot off the press the day of the event and boy was she excited! The physical book itself is beautiful inside and out. The title has an interesting meaning in that there is a “peculiar spiritual renewal of life north of the tension line.”

One of the many elements about author Riordan’s tale that I enjoyed was the setting; small town, Ephraim, Wisconsin and then part of the story moves to Washington Island. The story is woven around two best girlfriends, both in their thirties and looking for life’s next adventure. Though there is some romance swirled into the mix, the focus is on community and the unpredictable ways we treat one another. Oh, and there’s a goat named Robert.

Fiona Campbell was by far my favorite of the two ladies. A perfect combination of overly curious and brazen to a fault. There was very little that she wouldn’t consider and when she is dared to live on Washington Island through a Wisconsin winter, off she goes. What keeps the story fresh is the way Riordan weaves her words together into beautiful sentences that perfectly conjure the island and all its quiet and magical and sometimes unpredictable beauty.

“The meadow grass, the scrub brush, the harvested fields with their long rows of stubble, the bare trees and even the sand and water seemed to have been infused with purple, and they glowed with it, even in overcast days. Fiona loved the raw quality of the bare landscape; it seemed purer, stripped to its essential shapes as if it had been drawn with a few sharp lines.”

And then there’s Stella. Great name for a nasty next door neighbor and man is this lady a piece of work. Loved her/hated her—wanted more of her. This particular neighbor not only plotted and planned against Fiona and her goat, but did her utmost dastardly darndest to squash any hopes Fiona may have attempted at enjoying a peaceful island life.

Her trust-fund girlfriend, Elizabeth, provides the novel with some much needed balance and harmony in a life full of just about every joy imaginable except someone to share it with. The yin and yang of their friendship serves the story well by showing that no matter how much cash you have in the bank, the richness of friends is the true wealth of a life well lived. There were a few scenes in which some minor head-hopping gave me pause (bouncing from one narrator to another) but then off the story unfolded and on we went!

Riordan left a few story-lines unfulfilled and I’m happy to report a sequel is in the works and I for one hope Stella and the goat will be back, and who knows about the ghost on the ferry and how about Fiona’s love-interest, Pete? If you enjoy a cozy read full of colorful characters and breezy sand beaches and pot-luck suppers, this is for you.

Pass the casserole and who brought the goat?


Me Before You
Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take This With You On Your Next Vacation---It Will Sweep You Away..., 15 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Me Before You (Paperback)
Me Before You
By Jojo Moyes

You’re at the mall or movie theater, a restaurant maybe, and a person in a wheel chair buzzes in the door. He can only use his right hand and is working a joy-stick to maneuver. You don’t mean to stare, you really don’t.

But you do.

Ever wonder what it’s like? To be forever sitting down? To never be able to do things you take for granted; wash your hands, weed the garden, take a hike—hold someone.

Imagine.

Meet Will Traynor, a thirty-something quadriplegic. Comes from buckets of money, was a high-powered executive, has pictures all over his bedroom of global travels, gorgeous women, mountain climbs, skydiving, a drop-dead fiancé. It all was taken away by an accident.

Everything.

Cue the sun! In walks Louisa (Lou) Clark. A short, peculiar twenty-seven year old who lives in the same village outside of London, but on the ‘other’ side of town. She takes a job to care for Will, not the medical part, the mind part, the will to live part. His shrewd and controlling and off-the-charts intense mother watches over him like a hawk turned up high. She and her cheating husband built an ‘annex’ next to their mansion and it’s there that Will now resides.

Hard to categorize this novel. It’s got romance, sure, but there’s some serious meat to the read too. Things that are hard to read, life-stuff that makes you stop and wonder about. It could happen to any of us. What would you do if it happened to you? Now that’s good writing. Lou wants to get Will out of the annex, to experience things, to leave the village and see the world again. To thrive once more. Lou suggests a trip back to Paris, which he loved before the accident.

He swallowed. “The day we go and I’m in this bloody contraption, all those memories, those sensations, will be wiped out, erased by the struggle to get behind the table, up and down Parisian curbs, the taxi drivers who refuse to take us, and the wheelchair bloody power pack that wouldn’t charge in a French socket…”

Author Moyes is a native Brit from Essex and the novel is full of charming turns of phrase and references to crisps and endless cups of tea and woven throughout is a ridged politeness that took some getting used to. There are secrets and family issues, struggles with old boyfriends and glimpses of hope. The ending may throw you. It did me. Not sure if I agree with how the author handled it, not sure what I would do in Lou’s position. Sometimes the way through something is not what you think.

Life is like that.

Here is a glimpse into Lou’s head, her heart, really.

“The world around us shrank, until it was just the sound of the storm, the gently billowing gauze curtains, my shallow breath. I smelled the lotus flowers on the night breeze, heard the distant sounds of clinking glasses and hastily drawn-back chairs, of music from some far-off celebration, felt the charge of nature unleashed. I reached across for Will’s hand, and took it in my own. I thought, briefly, that I would never feel as intensely connected to the world, to another human being, as I did at that moment.”

There are very few novels that linger in your head after the final word is read. This one will haunt you.

Change you forever.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2016 4:56 PM GMT


Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living
Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living
by Amit Sood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.78

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Life Guide for EVERYONE! (Great Gift Too), 25 Jun. 2014
Stress-Free Living
By Amit Sood, M.D., MSc.

The entire title is: The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living. I didn’t put it up there because I was afraid I would scare you off with all those words. Thank goodness you’ve decided to read on because this is really an important guide. You really should read this and have a couple of Post-It pads nearby to jot words down and put them around your house to remind you of key elements and prompts. We all need cues, and that’s exactly what the entire concept behind this book is. Instead of a review this go around, I’m going to give you a general idea of the key concepts and let you be the judge.

This collection contains over twenty years of extensive study and offers you some key realizations author Sood discovered:

“Most of us have little information about how the brain and mind work. And, we do not use our brains and minds as well as we can or should…Your brain and mind work very hard to keep you stressed…Your brain is wired to escape the present moment into a default mode of mind wandering.”

Does this sound familiar? Do you get busy doing one thing and before you know it your mind has wandered on out the door into some other task that you may or may not even get to? Let alone you just stubbed your toe because you weren’t paying attention to what was in front of you. Not only are most of us not focused, we’re not present. This is a guide to bulk up your brain and limber up things like imagination and creativity and how to find joy again.

This collection is meant to be read over a period of time. Not in one or two sittings, but to delve into the tools Sood presents and then he suggests you try them on. Use them. Fold them into your life and rediscover something pretty amazing.

You.

One basic tool many of us have lost or never developed well, is attention. You need to be present and pay attention. Sood suggests several ways to embrace this and keep it alive. Then he moves into different areas of focus with simple ways to move them into everyday life. Gratitude, Compassion, Acceptance, Higher Meaning, Forgiveness and Tribe. Then he closes with some simple methods to relax your mind and allow you to reflect on what you’ve experienced.

“The first step…is to log on to your life. Direct your attention away from the mind into the world. Realize you aren’t your thoughts. Your mind can be your prison or your wings.”

C’mon—be the change you’ve been waiting for!


Shotgun Lovesongs
Shotgun Lovesongs
by Nickolas Butler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonder-filled Tale of What Truly Matters---Friends, Family & Home..., 24 April 2014
This review is from: Shotgun Lovesongs (Hardcover)
Shotgun Lovesongs
By Nickolas Butler

An Eau Claire author (where I’m from) has hit the BIG time. We’re talking huge here people. Author Nickolas Butler was fought over by high-brow publishing houses and walked away with an amazing contract. Movie rights are sold as well. Why? Because his debut novel hits home—hits you where you live. Breaks your heart. You want to read it now, don’t you? You will.

The premise is simple and timeless and very Big Chill-like, (ask your mom) what is refreshing is that it takes place here. Somewhere very close to here and I really liked that. The small town appeal was refreshing. The all so familiar empty store-fronts, farmers fighting to stay ahead, VFW’s, and a lot of churches. I sat up straight when I read this novel and took pride in the knowledge that this is where I am. This is everyone’s story. Yours. Mine.

The writing is often times more like poetry. It flows like our hills and valleys. It will pull you in and make you see things in a different light, an amber one. Author Butler is an observer of life and love and heartbreak and joy and sorrow and holding hands and holding on. He gets us.

“Here, I can hear things, the world throbs differently, silence thrums like a chord strummed eons ago, music in the aspen trees and in the firs and burr oaks and even in the fields of dying corn.”

The story is about four male friends that come home to ‘Little Wing,’ a small Wisconsin town of around 1,000 somewhere near Eau Claire, for a wedding. One is famous, one damaged from too many rodeo falls, one is a farmer and one is just plain rich. Buddies since childhood with all the history of growing up. Yet a storm is about to blast their friendship wide open and change them all. A secret that should have stayed just that, lands in Little Wing like the bomb it was. This turning point is where the idyllic Little Wing becomes something else altogether. Beside the four friends this story is built around, there’s a fifth, a wife of one and a lover of another. Beth.

“And then, one day, you just fall off the planet and drift away, into outer space, and everything you thought was true, all the laws that bound your life before, all the rules and norms that kept things in place, that kept you in place, they’re gone. And nothing makes sense anymore. Gravity is gone. Love is gone.”

Love. That’s what’s underneath this story, underneath everything that matters, when you think about it. It’s what endures after everything else. That’s what this story will remind you of. Though the ending seemed rushed, as though a deadline was tapping a foot in some New York publishing house, it got you there. You were returned to the beginning again. Life is like that, a big circle, a long ride home…


Cooper's Folly
Cooper's Folly
by Mary Strand
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Beach Read! A Romance with a Big Heart!, 3 April 2014
This review is from: Cooper's Folly (Paperback)
Cooper’s Folly
By Mary Strand

If I had to compare this novel (author Strand’s first) to anything, I would pick a huge box of chocolates. An open one. From the start you get that either this was written by an attorney, or someone with a cleverly intelligent sense of humor. Both are totally spot-on. This is sort of a romance, kind of a journey book and completely filled with heart. And two kids.

I would suggest this be tucked into a beach bag, loaded onto an e-reader and defiantly considered for a summer book club selection. There are many surprises and a few twists and who in the world doesn’t like a happy ending. Or is it a beginning?

One of the many things I learned while quickly devouring this read was that most attorneys spend a great deal of their billable time daydreaming of what they would really like to be doing. Maybe this is due to the grueling demands of that particular field. Or, as Strand’s character, Cooper Meredith imagines;

“Sources at the firm said Meredith took off a black wingtip and bashed a Bulova clock on his desk while shouting, ‘I never wanted to be a lawyer, Mom. I wanted to run a waterski shop on Lake Minnetonka.’ ”

You learn early on that Cooper and his Mom have a strange [a case for therapy, if you ask me] relationship. Regardless, off the tale zooms! That’s one of the aspects of Strand’s writing I got such a kick out of. There is no waiting around for things to happen, you move from scene to scene at break-neck speed and the whirlwind of activity is never ending.

You’re probably wondering how a successful Minneapolis (Strand’s present hometown, originally from Eau Claire) attorney goes from being just that to what the story is really about---a man-nanny who used to be a high-power attorney. I’m not telling. Let’s just say that Cooper takes a dare that led him to a fancy-schmancy house with two kids in need of his nanny-dom and, Molly Perrell, the single mom who needs so much more.

Like all good stories, there are peaks and hollows, yet in the case of this story, there are luxurious swimming pools and a lady next door with a thong that more closely resembles floss. Brooke, the thong-lady, plays an interesting part in Strand’s tale and I won’t spill how a long hose and not enough clothing get Cooper into some hot water.

Within this mad-cap caper of chasing four-year-old twins, snarky neighbors and sticky countertops is a refreshing reminder of what we need a heck of a lot more--hope. Cooper also learns through the eyes of his wards what he was missing in his previous life of torts and contracts.

“Emma and Alec reminded him of too many things he’d left behind: a magical world filled with tufts of grass and ribbons of sky, the tickle of a summer breeze, the playful caress of a stream as it babbled over little hands, the deadly purpose of a spider as it captured a fly.”

This is where Strand soars. Through her mother/attorney eyes---there is magic. My only regret while hitting that final page, was that I wanted more and what could be better than that?


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