Thoughts on Books (#12): The Fifth of July / Where the Crawdads Sing


The Fifth of July
The Fifth of July by Kelly Simmons
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The well-to-do Warner family has been summering on Nantucket for decades – it’s tradition, after all – but this year tragedy strikes over the 4th of July holiday. The story is told from the points of view of several characters, including different family members, the housekeeper, and the caretaker, of the imposing, timeworn beach house.

Right away you can feel the undercurrents of dysfunction in this family. It keeps you wondering what tragedy is lying in wait for these troubled people, and who among them could be responsible? They may not be the most likable bunch, but I found all of their stories compelling. Actually we’re presented with three mysteries that may or may not be connected, one decades old and two recent.

Overall I enjoyed the writing style, setting, and story (Nantucket Gothic?), though I was disappointed that there were unanswered questions in the end. I felt like two of the three mysteries weren’t truly solved – or maybe they were? Anyway, the ending was confusing, but I still feel like THE FIFTH OF JULY was a worthwhile read.

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


Where the Crawdads Sing
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here we have it, my favorite book of 2018! I think this one will be hard to top. Amazing!!

A swamp and a marsh are very different environments. A marsh is a thriving and nurturing place, and it’s there, along the North Carolina coast, that Kya lived and survived after being abandoned by her family as a young girl. Kya spent her days alone, observing the surrounding natural world, and it served her well.

Though she loved her marsh dearly, sometimes the loneliness was too much, especially as she grew into a young women. But after being abandoned by everyone she loved and shunned by the locals, who could she trust with her heart?

I don’t want to ramble on too much about the plot. This stirring, character-driven novel is part coming of age story, part mystery, and part love story — between Kya and two young men who she allows in her hidden world, but most of all, between Kya and her treasured marsh.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is a gorgeously written and haunting novel with an unforgettable heroine, the Marsh Girl. What a bittersweet ending!! Tears, tears, tears. Just lovely.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.


“Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#11): What We Find / The Book of Lost and Found


What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing, #1)
What We Find by Robyn Carr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WHAT WE FIND is the beginning of another heart-warming small town saga from Robyn Carr. She’s my “most read” author, so yep, I enjoy her books very much.

This series is set in Colorado, at a place called Sullivan’s Crossing, located near the intersection of the Continental Divide trail & Colorado trail. How gorgeous would that place be? *sigh* Yet another Robyn Carr location I want to live in…

At Sullivan’s Crossing, there’s a campground and general store, and it’s all run by Sully, a cantankerous yet kindhearted guy who’s been there forever. It’s to Sullivan’s Crossing that Sully’s daughter, Maggie, returns, during a turbulent time of loss and great stress in her life. At the campground she encounters the very private Cal, someone else searching for calm and healing.

The easy pacing of this book was enjoyable, giving readers time to get to know the characters and the beautiful setting. Maggie is a strong and courageous woman, and if I was ever in trouble, I’d want her on my side. I was touched by Cal’s back story and was rooting for him to find happiness again.

I didn’t think the plot was particularly strong, though I know what the two main characters were headed for. Things had to be worked through. Closure first, then possibly a second chance at love? WHAT WE FIND is a solid start to the Sullivan’s Crossing series, and I’d recommend it to any fan of romantic women’s fiction. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Book of Lost and Found
The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The cover of this book drew me in (American edition, 2015). That location is so gorgeous; I want to be there! Part of the book is set in Corsica, and the descriptions are amazing.

THE BOOK OF LOST AND FOUND is about a young woman’s quest to discover the story behind a portrait done 50 years ago, and one that her grandmother kept hidden for many years. The “present” (Kate’s story) was set in the 1980s, while the young artist’s love story was set in the 1930s. Who is the mysterious woman in the portrait who looks so much like Kate’s mother?

The premise of the book is completely my kind of story, though overall I wasn’t “wowed.” While the descriptions of time and place were beautiful, I thought that it was too wordy and slow. The relationships presented weren’t all that convincing.

This book covers many things – love lost, grief, separation, and family secrets. An OK read for me, just never truly hooked me. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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