Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan

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source: free review copy via Library Thing/ Harper Collins
title: Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop
author: Jenny Colgan / Twitter
genre: Christmas fiction / Romance
published: November 7th 2013
pages: 341
first line: Lipton was quiet underneath the stars.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5
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blurb:
Rosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton, buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes, large tempting piles of Turkish Delight, crinkling selection boxes and happy, sticky children. She’s going to be spending it with her boyfriend, Stephen, and her family, flying in from Australia. She can’t wait. But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community, all of Rosie’s plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what’s best for the sweetshop also what’s best for Rosie?

my thoughts:
Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan is a nice read mainly centering on family life during the holidays in a small town. Rosie Hopkins left her life as a registered nurse in the big city to move to a little village in Lipton and open up a candy shop. She lives with her boyfriend Stephen, who is a Mr. Darcy type. His mother is Lady Lipton and she lives in the large estate of Lipton Hall. She is cold towards Rosie. Rosie wants Stephen to propose and she wants to start a family with him, this is a biggie for her. She wonders if staying in small town Derbyshire with no family is worth it if she doesn’t ever marry and have a family of her own.

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Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick

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source: free review copy courtesy of FSB Associates
title: Dark Blossom
author: Neel Mullick
genre: fiction
published: Rupa Publications (December 21, 2018)
pages: 214
first line: When Sam had called to schedule a session for the first time, his anger had been palpable.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5
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blurb:
What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat, yet rowing in opposite directions—one clinging to the past, and the other unable to move beyond it?

Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son’s thirteenth birthday to find his world cruelly shattered in one fell swoop. Initially thinking he can cope on his own, Sam finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist. What he doesn’t know is that Cynthia herself is trying to recover from a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband. In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia’s daughter, who harbors a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.

Taut with tension and intensity, Dark Blossom explores what lies beneath the surface of the lives of apparently “normal” people.

my thoughts:
Dark Blossom is a story that is full of secrets and centers on a therapist named Cynthia, her daughter Lily and her newest patient Sam. Sam has recently suffered a tremendous loss. His wife and teenage son were killed in a car crash and Sam is still seeking the truth about the cause of the accident.

The story is told through Cynthia’s eyes and we see that she struggles with her own personal issues just like everyone else. She is a single mom struggling to connect with her daughter Lily. As the story unfolds Cynthia finds out the truth about the accident that took Sam’s family from him and she also finds out some truths about her daughter Lily. It all culminates to plot twist at the end that I did not see coming.

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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn was amazing

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title: Dark Places
author: Gillian Flynn
pages: 349
genre: crime thriller/mystery/suspense
published: 2009
first line:  I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.
rated: 5 out of 5!
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Blurb:
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben.

Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

my thoughts:
Sometimes you finish reading a book and you just don’t know what to do with yourself. That was how I felt after reading Dark Places.

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First of all, I breezed through the 349 pages in about one week which is alot of reading for me because I tend to take about two weeks to finish a book. Between work and everything else, there are days I can’t read a single page but Dark Places had me hooked. This is the kind of book that invades your sleep. I was up late the one Friday night reading “just one more chapter” before I finished it up Saturday morning over coffee and toast.
I dove into this one right after I finished Sharp Objects which was amazing as well.

Look at these first lines…

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp it.”

-p. 1, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

And then the story takes right off and twists and turns and doesn’t stop until the very end. I was left speechless and breathless during much of it. I thought about it long after I turned the final page.

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Love, Faith and a Pair of Pants by Herb Freed

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source: free review copy via Meryl Moss Media
title: Love, Faith and a Pair of Pants: a novel in stories
author: Herb Freed
pages: 198
published: 2018
genre: fiction
first line: The top floor of the Rabbinical academy dormitory was the quietest place in Manhattan until six-fifteen in the morning when the clicking of high heels reverberated all the way down the marble-tiled hallway and woke Ben…

Blurb:
Ben Zelig thinks he has his life all figured out. Graduate from rabbinical school. Get hired by a spiritually enriched community. Meet a nice Jewish girl and start a family. Simple, right? Naturally, nothing goes according to plan, but life can still work out as long as you have Love, Faith and a Pair of Pants.

Herb Freed, the author of the timeless love story Bashert, is back with a collection of five short stories about the smart, witty, spiritual and, according to his mother, incredibly handsome, Rabbi Ben Zelig. In five stories about a rabbi’s life, Zelig navigates romance, family ties, colorful congregants and the meaning of faith. We follow him through the decades as master storyteller Freed takes us from humor to pathos and back again in an uplifting examination of what it means to be human.

My thoughts:
As Love, Faith and a Pair of Pants starts off it is 1969 and Ben Zelig is in Rabbi school in NYC. He is in the intern program and doing hands on work. The novella takes us through Ben’s life through 2007, we meet his family, friends and quirky characters like Uncle Joe, who is his mentor and advises him on everything from business deals to women. The story goes on as Ben goes on dates, trains to be a Rabbi and as he is there when his mom Bertha takes the test to become a U.S. citizen. It is mainly about Ben’s personal journey and how people and events tie in together and there is faith and hope within the pages as well. It all comes full circle at the end for Ben. I enjoyed some of the insightful writing like this passage…

“A soft rain began to fall, as it increased, Ben felt he was Adam banished from the garden. Where to go from here?”
p. 31, Love, Faith and a Pair of Pants by Herb Freed

Most of the story was amusing and quirky and it was interesting getting a glimpse into Jewish culture. Ben was dramatic and I did feel that some of the dialogue was over the top for the time and place. Like this conversation which takes place at a club.

The Chasid leaned forward , his intense sad eyes trying to understand. He cupped his ear with one hand. “You don’t got a name?”

Ben didn’t know how or why it came out, but the words flowed from the depths of his soul. “I am Benjamin, son of Solomon, of the tribe of Levi,” he said proudly.

p.29, Love, Faith and a Pair of Pants by Herb Freed

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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source: purchased
title: Sharp Objects
author: Gillian Flynn
genre: mystery thriller/ psychological thriller
pages: 396
published: 2006
first line: My sweater was new, stinging red and ugly.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

my thoughts:
I finally read Gillian Flynn. This book had exactly what I look for in a crime thriller; mystery, suspense and grittiness with a few shocking scenes thrown in for good measure.

I don’t even really know where to begin because I enjoyed this book so much and I wanted to make sure I got my thoughts on it posted before I forget the good parts.

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This was a multilayered novel about a woman with psychological issues who is facing past demons and revisiting her estranged family while trying to solve a murder mystery.  This was a tough, gritty read and it was executed perfectly by the author. I read half mesmerized and half in shock most of the time.

As the book starts off Camille Preaker is a reporter with a troubled past who begrudgingly goes back to her hometown in Missouri to get interviews from the locals about two missing girls, one of whom’s body has already been found. Camille lives in Chicago now and does not keep in touch with her family back home.

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