Carla Loves To Read


Adult Fiction

A Dog’s Way Home (A Dog’s Purpose) by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog's Way Home4.5 Stars

Published May 9th 2017 by Forge

The story is sweet and pulls at one’s heartstrings . There is a bit of The Incredible Journey and a bit of A Dog’s Purpose to it. I loved that both cats and dogs are highlighted even though the main character and narrator is a dog named Bella. Just like the author’s other books, the story is told from a dog’s perspective so the writing style is short sentences, not a huge vocabulary and a bit childlike which makes this a good book for any age and those who might have a lower reading level. That is not to say that I did not enjoy this book, because I did. It is a bit different from the others I have read because this was one dog and one life, but what a life.

Several subjects were brought up and high current. The discrimination of Pitbull type dog breeds, the problems of feral animals, how they are treated and the fact that many animals are just abandoned as well as Service Animals for both physical and emotional support. Bella’s story is wonderful. She is an abandoned dog who is taken in by her person, Ethan. It turns out that not only can she sense when a seizure is coming on, but has wonderful senses and is able to provide comfort to those in distress. The story is told from her point of view stating that she just wants to be with her person and have a purpose. Her journey when she is separated from Ethan is amazing. It has a lot of adventure, side trips, and new people along the way. There is humor in just the right places, action, mystery, some sadness but overwhelming happiness as well as hope. I did need a few tissues along the way, but it was not too bad. Being a dog lover, I loved this book. It was well plotted with characters that I both loved and disliked. For every animal lover there are those who don’t like animals and some of those are in this book. If you enjoy animal stories, pick this one up. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Continue reading “A Dog’s Way Home (A Dog’s Purpose) by W. Bruce Cameron”


How to Walk Away: A Novel by Katherine Center

How to Walk Away: A Novel5 Stars

Published May 15th 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

This story was a very quick read that was heart-breaking one moment and laugh out loud funny the next. Margaret Jacobsen has worked hard all of her life and was the perfect daughter. She has recently graduated, has landed an amazing job and is dating the love of her life, with the hope that he is going to engage that night, on Valentine’s Day. Everything is turning out according to plan and she is sure that things are about to get even better. Unfortunately for Margaret, you never what is going to happen next, and her life is about to change forever. On what she believes to be the greatest day of her life, she makes a decision that quickly turns it into the worst day of her life. What would you do it your life was so changed that nothing was ever going to be the same?

“How to Walk Away” was an amazing story that touched my emotions like few books do. There were so many great characters in the story, both great ones and ones that I am glad I never met in real life because I am not sure what I might have said or done. Margaret is such a great character. She behaved exactly as I thought anyone would in her situation. Her habit of filling quiet periods of time spent with others with strange but hilarious comments was just one of the things I loved about her. It was also where much of the humor came in. Her sister Kitty was also a wonderful character that was able to pull Margaret out of her funk several times and make Margaret and the reader laugh with her.

Katherine Center writes with honesty and includes all of the tough, rotten and emotional parts. I do not understand how she could have written this story so realistically and not gone through it herself. It contained strained relationships and family secrets, problems in the workplace and jealousy. From Margaret’s point of view, it was a story about strength, determination, love and more. The plot held my interest from start to finish and the characters captured my heart. There are so many great quotes in this book, but I will leave you with this one: “When you don’t know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else” 

This is the first book I have read from this author, but you can bet it will not be my last. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read about real life. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Continue reading “How to Walk Away: A Novel by Katherine Center”

Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You (Beartown, #2)5 Stars

Published June 5th 2018 by Atria Books

The backdrop of the story is hockey, but there is so much more to it than that. This is the second book in the Beartown series and it is best that you read the first one as everything that happens in this book is a result of the actions taken in the first one. Beartown is a small town in the forest. The factory is laying people off, many are unemployed, there are drugs, lots of alcoholics and hockey. Many of the players from Beartown hockey, switched to the team in Hed, Beartown’s hated rivals, after the rape that occurred in the last book. In the sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman explores what happens as a consequence of this unspeakable act, how everyone involved tries to pick up the pieces of their lives: the boy, the girl, her family and the town. In this book, a sneaky, local politician, Richard Theo, has dreams of bigger and better things for his political career. He starts calling in favours to rebuild the team and buy the factory to bring back jobs. He brings in a female coach, spreads rumors to manipulate people, gets everyone upset with everyone else. The team pulls together, but will this save the town.

I was emotionally moved while reading this story. There were family dramas, bullying, small town politics, gangs, homosexuality and its effects on self and others, dealing with loss, friendship and so much more. The characters or Benji, Bobo, Amat, Maya, Ana, Leo and even Teemu are very well developed. We find out more about their past and what makes them tick. The paths they take as they deal with what life has thrown at them and how they help one another are a major part of the story. The others in their families, Benji’s sisters and Bobo’s father are wonderfully supportive family members that are also dealing with major upheaval in their lives. When the hockey rivalry is rachetted up a notch the book takes on a life of its own. I do not want to give away the plot so will not describe any more than I have, but take my word for it.

Fredrik Backman has become one of my favourite authors. He shows his amazing talent as he moves from one character to the next, as he creates a suspense and drama, which has the reader waiting for something awful to happen. As we get to know the thoughts and feelings of the many characters, and listen to their simple phrases that depict their thoughts on unconditional parental love, the depth of friendship, marriage and ambition, expectations, rivalry, loyalty, love and hate it makes the reader think deeply. There are so many wonderful quotes that I love in this book, but I will leave you with this one: “It’s so easy to get people to hate each other. That’s what makes love so impossible to understand. Hate is so simple that it always ought to win. It’s an uneven fight.” The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Continue reading “Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman”

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Girl in Snow2 Stars (It was okay)

Published August 1st 2017 by Simon & Schuster

When I started this book, I was expecting a mystery or suspenseful story based on what I thought the book was about, I was very disappointed. This story is about three characters; Cameron, Jade and Russ and what they learn about themselves in the aftermath of the death of a ninth grader, Lucinda. The mystery element is there, with the investigation here and there throughout the book, but it was almost an afterthought. I plugged away at the story, but found it very slow moving and there was not much happening until almost 75% of the way through. As we learn more about the three characters, we see their dark sides and their secrets. There is a lot of foreshadowing throughout the book, but it is still hard to catch the clues and information as you go through. Much of what we learn about the characters had nothing to do with the murder.

Having said all that, Danya Kukafka’s writing is beautiful. It’s lyrical and very descriptive. It often felt like you were in a dream or hazy foggy place wondering what would come next. I did not become attached to any of the characters while reading this book. It was not until the last quarter or so of the book where the real killer is revealed that had me interested. It moved quickly and the suspense built up.

I did not enjoy this book, but it does not mean others would feel the same way. If you are a fan of introspective writing styles and like books that explore inner turmoil or struggles of the characters, then you will probably enjoy this book much more than I did. As I said above, the writing is wonderful, I did not enjoy the story.

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Man Overboard (Ali Reynolds #12) by J.A. Jance

Man Overboard (Ali Reynolds, #12)4.5 Stars

Published March 21st 2017 by Touchstone
Hardcover, 337 pages
Kindle Edition, 352 pages

My Thoughts: How could I have never read an Ali Reynolds book. J.A. Jance is an author I am definitely going to catch up. I really enjoyed this book.

Ali Reynolds and her husband own High Noon Cyber Security. Their employee, Stuart Raney, is contacted by the aunt of Roger McGeary, a former high school friend and fellow computer geek. Stuart and Roger were really the only friends they each had and when Roger and his mother moved away, Stuart basically became alone. His aunt asks him for help to find Roger’s murderer. Apparently, Roger fell or was pushed off a luxury cruise ship. The authorities call it a death by misadventure but his aunt insists he was murdered. B and Ali agree to help the aunt, but it is really helping Stuart. B is out of town so Ali, Stuart and Cami are pretty much on their own. A twisted serial killer is targeting the grown children of people who have committed suicide. Owen Hansen has hacked into a psychiatrist’s patient files and is now targeting these individuals. Using information he has gained, he is bullying and tormenting them until they decide to end things. With Stuart tracking online information, will they find the serial killer before he is successful with another victim?

The book is well written. The plot contains information about artificial intelligence which was interesting. The suspense builds throughout the story and the pace is steady. The topics in the book; suicide, artificial intelligence, cyber bullying and tracking people using their electronic footprint all added realistic and scary story lines. Because of the Cyber Security involved here, this was a wonderful way to showcase the talents of High Noon. I am looking forward to more stories about Ali Reynolds. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Continue reading “Man Overboard (Ali Reynolds #12) by J.A. Jance”

Tying the Scot (The Highlanders of Balforss #1)

4 Stars
Published November 27th 2017 by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Amara)
Paperback, ebook
Published February 6th 2018 by Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio
Audio CD or download
About the Book: At age eleven, Alex Sinclair pledges an oath to the Duke of Chatham promising to serve and protect his illegitimate daughter, Lucy FitzHarris. Nine years later, the duke unexpectedly takes Alex up on his vow, offering the future Laird of Balforss his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Now a man, hotheaded Alex has difficulty convincing Lucy—who would rather starve to death than marry a vulgar Scot—to go through with the arranged marriage. Once Lucy arrives in Scotland, she cannot resist the magic of Balforss or the allure of her handsome Highland warrior. But when Alex seemingly betrays Lucy right before their wedding, she is tricked into running away. Alex must rein in his temper to rescue his lady from unforeseen danger and Lucy must swallow her pride if she hopes to wed the Highlander she has come to love.

Continue reading “Tying the Scot (The Highlanders of Balforss #1)”

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls4.5 Stars

Published March 20th 2018 by Berkley
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 20th 2018 by Penguin Audio
Unabridged/eAudiobook, Audiobook
About the Book: A suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare…

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

Continue reading “The Broken Girls by Simone St. James”

The Little French Bistro by Nina George

The Little French Bistro5 Stars

Published June 13th 2017 by Crown
Hardcover, 336 pages
Paperback, 368 pages
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Audio CD by Books on Tape

About the Book: From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, an extraordinary novel about self-discovery and new beginnings.

Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as the end of the world.

Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life s small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.

With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.

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Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours5 Stars

My Review: This book is based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals. Knowing that, as I read, I had a very hard time not getting this book wet with my tears. Georgia Tann, director of a Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. , kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country who were not able to have their own. This story was heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. All you need to do is google Georgia Tann and you will find many articles about this human trafficker.

The story is told in two timeframes. The one in the past narrated by a young girl, Rill, whose brother and three sisters were taken from their parents and brought to this so-called orphanage. Families believed that this was temporary and they would get their children back, WRONG. The parents of this young family did not even understand what they were signing. By the time they realized what had happened, they were unable to get their children back. Children were not treated well in the home. They were punished severely for minor indiscretions and fed as little as possible. Sleeping arrangements were not the best, in fact the family of 5 slept in a basement room on smelly, musty cots for a long period of time. Blonde children were particularly valuable as they were more easily adopted, bringing the larger sums of money to it’s crooked founder. Her story is heartbreaking, and though hers is a made up character her story is representative of many that were factual. The modern day story follows a grown woman, Avery, from a prestigious family who wants to find the truth about her beloved grandmother, now suffering from dementia. An accidental meeting of an older woman in a nursing home, sets this search in motion and once started, Avery refuses to give up until she finds out about her own family background.

The past story is what this book is really all about. The characters are more developed and the story is more emotional. The plot is very well written and the two stories tie together nicely. I liked the character of Avery, willing to go against her mother, Honeybee’s, wishes for the first time in her life. I kept turning the pages quickly to see what would happen next. Even though this is a sad read, I enjoyed finding out about the story. I had no idea that this had gone on in the past, even though there is still human trafficking now. Well done Lisa Wingate. This book is historical fiction, but I believe anyone who enjoys good Literary Fiction will enjoy it.

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