THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#10): Something in the Water / The Dress Shop of Dreams

Something in the Water
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

This anxiety-inducing book was A LOT of fun to read. It’s gotten major buzz since it’s a Reese’s Book Club pick. There were 200 holds for it at my library, but I noticed ONE copy was available on the Limited Loan shelf at the branch across town. Of course, I’m there when they opened that morning to elbow my way to the top. I had to know what’s in the water!!

The opening chapter starts with a bang. You’re left wondering, how in the heck did it come to that?? The set-up: A honeymooning couple make a shocking discovery on their trip to Bora Bora. OK, so after the stunning opening, the pacing was very slow until about the 30% mark. I think I was just TOO impatient – waiting, waiting, waiting – to find out what was in the water. And then, thunk thunk thunk…

SOMETHING IN THE WATER was such an entertaining book, but also made me very nervous! Some of the decisions the characters made (especially Erin) made me STOP to blink my eyes repeatedly. What were you thinking??

After the big discovery, the author did a fantastic job keeping the suspense going and the pages turning. I can’t think of a more perfect “beach” thriller to read this summer. This is Catherine Steadman’s debut novel (wow!), and I’m looking forward to reading more from her in the future.

The Dress Shop of Dreams
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a sweet and enchanting love story! Etta runs a very special shop where she sells dresses stitched with a wee bit of magic to help her customers’ wishes come true.

One person Etta longs to help is her granddaughter, Cora. Cora’s parents died when she was young, and for most of her life, she’s hidden herself away doing research as a scientist. She’s oblivious to the fact that her lifelong friend, Walt, is madly in love with her.

Worried that Cora will lose Walt, Etta does a little magical meddling with the best intentions. But, of course, things don’t always go as planned…

This book is a lovely blend of mystery, romance, and magical realism. Many characters are introduced, each with a compelling backstory to share. There are four separate romances happening in this book, and some overlap, but each one remains unique.

I would like to have learned more about Etta’s magical gift and where it originated, but I guess that will remain a mystery.

If you’re in need of a whimsical and uplifting novel, I’d definitely recommend THE DRESS SHOP OF DREAMS. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl


The Madwoman Upstairs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jane Eyre ♥ and Wuthering Heights ♥ are two of my favorite novels, so I couldn’t pass this one up. THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS is about the last living Brontë descendant, and her quest to find the family’s missing literary estate – if it actually exists at all.

Samantha Whipple is a new student at Oxford. Soon after her arrival in England, she starts receiving obscure clues to finding the mysterious Brontë inheritance. Samantha was an okay character. She’s young and awkward, and tries to compensate with sarcasm and funny zingers. She had me giggling several times, though I was hoping that eventually she’d act more mature. Something that drove me nuts was the vast number of times the characters said “Pardon?” and “Sorry?” to each other. It’s like no one could understand what the other was talking about.

What I liked about this book was how the actual novels of the Brontë Sisters tied into the story. I loved hearing the characters talk about Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Lots of interesting theories about the books and where the sisters got their inspirations.

Overall, this was a fun read, geared toward Brontë fans. {Borrowed from the library.}


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a sweet story about a Swedish bibliophile named Sara who travels to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet her pen pal, Amy, only to arrive the day of Amy’s funeral. Instead of returning home as you’d expect, Sara decides to stay a couple of months in Amy’s house.

Broken Wheel has fallen on hard times, but that doesn’t stop the townspeople from taking care of Sara as Amy would have done. To repay their kindness, Sara decides to open a bookstore, and maybe give them just a little ray of hope through reading. The author was spot on in capturing the feeling of a dying Midwestern town.

This is a book about books and book lovers (Sara and Amy), and literary references abound. It was fun getting to live the dream of opening a small town bookshop through Sara. She’s a shy and timid young woman, but seems to have found a place to belong in Broken Wheel. Of course, Sara’s travel visa will eventually expire, so the folks of Broken Wheel come up with a plan for her to stay.

No big surprises in this book, and the plot seemed to drag in a few spots, but overall this was a fun book. A perfect read for chick lit fans.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.