Dave Cartwright is already living on the edge, with a blue collar job he hates that barely pays the bills, a house on the verge of foreclosure, a failing marriage, and the recurring memories of three tours in Iraq. His only bright spot is his sometimes too-wise daughter, Bella, who sees and understands much beyond her years. When the unthinkable occurs, Dave makes a seemingly over-the-top decision to move with Bella to a cave in the wilderness. As they embark on this compelling and challenging backcountry adventure, Bella’s reality takes an unforeseen turn, retreating into the ancient world of a mother and son who lived in the cave thousands of years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. What unfolds amidst the struggle to survive is a meditation on both the perils of isolation and the human need for connection.
I’m not 100% sure what I think about this book. Excellent writing and the setting was vivid and vibrant, but…honestly, I finished the book and thought “What was the point?” I felt sympathy for Dave and his struggles—and I actually agree with him about wanting to shut the world out because of the toxicity and hate—but we didn’t get to see his moment of epiphany.
The ending was very abrupt, and I didn’t even care if Dave lived or died. I cared about Bella, yes, but what was the point of her flashbacks into the ancient past? Why did they even happen—and how? No answers, sadly.
Jonathan Evison is a bestselling author. Legends of the North Cascades is his newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review.)
Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.
The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.
Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.
With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?
This was a quick, fun read. I loved the ecotourism aspects and the descriptions of the Galápagos, although the two main characters were just kind of “meh” for me. I thought they were both fairly predictable, but that may just be me. Solid writing and a fun premise made up for some of this, so this would be a fun vacation read.
Angie Hockman lives in Ohio. Shipped is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.)
The day her doctor says the one word that no one wants to hear, Amy Bergstrom discovers a secret that her husband of 25 years has been keeping from her. Now that the months of treatment and surgeries are behind her, she escapes her claustrophobic life seeking healing, peace and clarity in an ancient forest in Washington State, a forest that holds memories of her childhood summers.
After dropping off his daughter at Amy’s Aunt Rae’s horse ranch in the mountains of New Mexico, Officer Paul Bergstrom visits the fixer-upper he had bought years ago as a place to retire with his family. Although it appears fine on the outside, the inside is a disaster–just like his marriage. When he finds himself with more off-duty time than he expected, he lovingly repairs his dream home, building the future he so desperately wants.
Witnessing her mother’s health crisis had been terrifying enough, but learning the cause was genetic leaves Carly with the sense that all of her dreams are pointless. With the help of her eccentric great aunt and a Clydesdale named T. Rex, Carly just may find her faith in her future again.
Kayla McLaren has been blessed with gorgeous book covers for her novels, and this is no exception. Her writing brings the beauty and magic of her settings to vibrant life and etches them in the reader’s mind—whether or not they’ve ever visited these places themselves. Each of these three characters are distinct and struggling with their own demons, but their stories twine together in this tale of a family facing their battles alone—and together. A lovely read!
Kayla McLaren is from Washington State. What’s Worth keeping is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)
Sarah and Quinn spent their childhood in India, but a family tragedy drove their mother to return home to the U.S. with the girls years ago. Now, Sarah has decided to leave her life as a journalist behind to return to India to help save Bengal tigers, but the past haunts her every step. Local politics make her new job harder and a secret—and forbidden—love affair adds to the danger every day.
Quinn is afraid of losing her sister in India. Her own marriage is troubled, with her son’s life-threatening illness shadowing every day and her mother’s continued refusal to speak of or deal with the past adding another layer of tension. When Sarah asks Quinn to come to India, Quinn realizes she’ll have to face the past if she’s ever to assuage her guilt over it.
Wow. This book was an incredible read! (Except the ending. Which was so right for the book—but I was hoping for something different, so totally my own issue.) The Indian setting brims with life—colorful and full of spice—and is as much a character as Sarah and Quinn are. The sisters’ relationship is complex and scarred, but they begin to heal together. This book also does an excellent job showing the plight of endangered Bengal tigers—and the work being done to save them.
Katy Yocom is an award-winning author who lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Three Ways to Disappear is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Ashland Creek Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)