Book Reviews: Community Board, The House on the Lake, The Half Moon, The Book of Silver Linings & Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Community Board by Tara Conklin

Goodreads Blurb: Where does one go, you might ask, when the world falls apart? When the immutable facts of your life—the mundane, the trivial, the take-for-granted minutiae that once filled every second of every day—suddenly disappear? Where does one go in such dire and unexpected circumstances? I went home, of course.


FREE: 500 cans of corn. Accidentally ordered them online. I really hate corn. Happy to help load.

REMINDER: use your own goddamn garbage can for your own goddamn pet waste. I’m looking at you Peter Luflin.

REMINDER: monthly Select Board meeting this Friday. Agenda items: 1) sludge removal; 2) upkeep of chime tower; 3) ice rink monitor thank you gift. Questions? Contact Hildegard Hyman.

Darcy Clipper, prodigal daughter, nearly thirty, has returned home to Murbridge, Massachusetts, after her life takes an unwelcome left turn. Murbridge, Darcy is convinced, will welcome her home and provide a safe space in which she can nurse her wounds and harbor grudges, both real and imagined.But Murbridge, like so much else Darcy thought to be fixed and immutable, has changed. And while Darcy’s first instinct might be to hole herself up in her childhood bedroom, subsisting on Chef Boy-R-Dee and canned chickpeas, it is human nature to do two things: seek out meaningful human connection and respond to anonymous internet postings. As Murbridge begins to take shape around Darcy, both online and in person, Darcy will consider the most fundamental of American questions: What can she ask of her community? And what does she owe it in return?

This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisherThe book came out March 28th.

my take: 3.5 out of 5. I had ridiculously high expectations for this book because I absolutely adored The Last Romantics. Unfortunately the expectations were not met. It is a very good book, a solid book, but i did not devour and spill tears over it like I did get previous book (side bar, if you have not read The Last Romantics do yourself a favor and do that now!)

There is some beautiful character development that happens throughout the book, and Darcy’s arc is beautiful and quite complete. But there are some things that are not working as well in the growth. First, Darcy is very annoying for half the book, and although i want it to work for her she is not an easy character to root for. I understand the concept of the community board in interlinking Darcy’s growth, but half the things felt super random, and reading through them was not as enjoyable. Her romantic developments have cero sparks, it might as well not have gone there. She could have very well made herself whole without another man. One thing that I didn’t think was working at the beginning was Marcus. I thought he was going to be too much but ended up being my favorite character!

Side note, the guy who skips out can’t be called Skip, its too on the nose! And using the like Skip, you skipped out was a lot

The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane

Goodreads blurb: Malcolm Gephardt, the handsome and gregarious longtime bartender at the Half Moon, has always dreamed of owning a bar. When his boss is finally ready to retire, Malcolm is inspired to buy the place. He sees unquantifiable magic and potential in the Half Moon and hopes to make it a bigger success—but quickly realizes that his customers don’t like change and that making a profit won’t be easy. Malcolm’s wife Jess is smart, confident, and dedicated to her law career. But after years of trying to have a baby, she’s struggling to accept the idea that motherhood may not be in the cards for her. Like Malcolm, she feels her youth beginning to slip away, and while her hopes and expectations fall short of the current reality, she wonders how to reshape her life.

Taking place over the course of one tumultuous week, The Half Moon shows off Mary Beth Keane’s skilled storytelling and generous spirit as she carefully explores a marriage in crisis, what it takes to make a life with another person, and the true meaning of family.

This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisherThe book comes out May 2th.

my take: 3.5 out of 5. This was a hard book to speak about and that’s why I think my 3.5 grade is in the lukewarm territory, in a love and hate direction. There are plenty of things that are great about this book. There is a strong exploration of the give and takes of a marriage, the compromises people make and how dreams are lost and new ones are made. It is so well described, it just became a tad bit boring at some point for me. Is this because I am not married and couldn’t really relate? I think it might be that, but at some point I also was annoyed at the lack of understanding of the issues by the characters, i wanted to smack them (however the ending proved me right). I think it is a thoughtful important book, and definitely would recommend for those that are married, huge reminder to keep communication always opened. There were just so many examples that when assumptions are made and things aren’t properly dialoged, a lot of hurt can come from that.

I also found it funny how i completely related throughout the book to Malcom and never to Jess. I could never understand her actions, and yet when i started this I thought it would have been completely the other way around.

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian MacAllister

Goodreads blurb: Can you stop a murder after it’s already happened? Late October. After midnight. You’re waiting up for your seventeen-year-old son. He’s late. As you watch from the window, he emerges, and you realize he isn’t alone: he’s walking toward a man, and he’s armed. You can’t believe it when you see him do it: your funny, happy teenage son, he kills a stranger, right there on the street outside your house. You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your son is now in custody. His future shattered. That night you fall asleep in despair. All is lost. Until you wake… and it is yesterday. And then you wake again… and it is the day before yesterday. Every morning you wake up a day earlier, another day before the murder. With another chance to stop it. Somewhere in the past lies an answer. The trigger for this crime—and you don’t have a choice but to find it…

My Take: 4.25 out of 5 This book wins all the points for storyline originality. It stars at day 0 and starts the timeline in reverse which is super interesting and a very creative way to have a mystery exposition. I was totally taken for a ride, and was surprised at every turn, I really did not see half of the things coming. However my only qualm was with the ending and the actual lack of reality as to how this could occur, which makes the whole premise hard to accept. But if you suspend disbelief, a grand old time is had.

The Book of Silver Linings y Nan Fisher

Goodreads blurb: Within the margins of an antique book, a timeless love waits for a young woman on the precipice of a terrible mistake in this enthralling exploration of fate and independence from the acclaimed author of Some of It Was Real . Constance Sparks always says yes …when her capricious best friend needs money; when her boss gives her more responsibility without a raise; and when her boyfriend, Hayden, who is very kind but also secretive, asks her to marry him. While planning their wedding—and struggling with anxiety about the right course for her future—Constance researches the history of her antique engagement ring and unearths the name of a man who might be connected to it, plus his tragic love story. When she finds a book of letters in her library’s old manuscript section written by the long-dead man, Constance is deeply touched by his words and leaves a note for him confessing her uncertainty and doubts. She’s shocked days later to find a response tucked among the pages. As the notes continue to arrive, Constance finds herself quickly falling in love with a ghost and putting her real-life relationship in jeopardy. Will a bond based on letters impossibly sent from the past derail her future? Or will Constance discover her voice and risk everything for the chance to somehow connect with her true soul mate?

This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisherThe book comes out August 15th.

my take: 4 out of 5. This was a sweet story but with a totally infuriating Main character. I really wanted Constance to wake up but then again I guess that i just need to develop patience and that is the point of the story. In the end, Me crying at the end of the book i the middle of the plane, made me take this up a notch in my appreciation as I give mayor props to books and art that make me feel. And here I was feeling all of it. The biggest mystery of them all, what was up with the first chapter. Did i miss something? I was waiting for the book to circle back to that Yoga speed dating 8 months earlier to make a total aha moment, but i never got it. so either i missed it, or i was trying to find deeper relevance in something that was just an example of many of the attempts done at finding love.

side note 1: I read this in a plane where i was sitting next to Ray Lewis. My ugly crying in my sleeve was not my best look and I think he thought i was a bit crazy.

Side note 2 : I understand where the title came from, as one character mentions this line, but it made no sense to my in the concept of the story.

he House in The Pines by Ana Reyes

Goodreads blurb: Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer. Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer–the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey. At her mother’s house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father’s book that didn’t stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank’s cabin….

Utterly unique and captivating, The House in the Pines keeps you guessing about whether we can ever fully confront the past and return home.

my take: 3 out of 5. It is an Ok mystery but after reading The It Girl so recently it really is a poor man’s version of the “my best friend was killed and I have issues and will try to uncover what happened” trope. Mild spoiler alert here, but I am still a bit confused about the mechanics of how this happens, i understand the concept but it really doesn’t get explained very well, the science behind it.

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