So this is kind of cool – I am reviewing a book that is not even out yet. I was in the right place at the right time when the author, Lois Greiman, handed out some advance copies. She’s been on my “Authors I really should read” list for a couple of years. Even though my copy says “Advance Uncorrected Proof,” in my mind, this is a polished finalized work. The editing was really clean, which is something I cannot say for a number of books I’ve purchased or have attempted to read.
As I read Hearth Song, I thought a lot about genre. I’d plunk this into subcategories like “Fiction -women – ranchers – horses – parenting,” but there is a keyword to describe this book that defies categories. The core story revolves around Bravura Lambert and her journey from insecure to confident. Bravura is a largely self-sufficient woman who owns a business and cares for her five-year-old autistic daughter, Lily, while her husband, Dane, lives away and works on the Dakota oil wells. I was a bit overwhelmed in the first chapter, which takes place at a rodeo type event, because I had not read the previous book in this series, Hearth Stone. There were a lot of characters introduced, and some of them had two or three names (Bravura is also called Vura and Vey for instance.) I’m glad I stuck with the book, because the character journey pulled me in. At times, I wanted to yell at the heroine, and at other times, I wanted to be a shoulder for her to cry on and at still other points, I cheered her on.
Ultimately, I’d add a subcategory for empathy. Greiman drew me into a world that was as foreign to me as Mars and made me care about a character, Bravura, who I wouldn’t seek out or identify with in real life. That’s the beauty of storytelling and why I read. I doubt I’ll go back and read the first book in the series, because I wasn’t 100% in love with the ranch setting and because that book has reviews, but this was a great way to kick off The January Project.
From the quirky cover, I assumed For the Love of Big Orange featured a quirky, retro-lovin’ heroine in a light story. Leta Gail Doerr’s book surprised me with its gravitas and ability to keep me hooked. Lacie Joe bounced through Kentucky’s foster care system until a rural judge and his wife took her in. Her reputation as a troubled teen made her a target and an outsider in the small town. When an accident occurred shortly after high school graduation, Lacie Joe left town in her orange truck and reinvented herself in the big city of Lexington. When the judge’s health fails, Lacie Joe returns to look after him. Her past and present collide as she makes amends with those she wronged in the past, including ex-boyfriend Jay Hayworth, and salvage her Lexington based program for at-risk youth.
Lacie Joe is a complicated character, one who tries hard but doesn’t always make the right decision. She had blind spots in her personal and professional life and may be guilty of self-sabotage. In other words, she is perfectly relatable. The light mystery element played out in a predictable manner, but didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment. This novella was a charming way to spend an afternoon and all for less than a cup of coffee at a fast food chain. It’s hard to say too much about the plot without giving away the story and you know I try to keep spoiler free. If you want a slice of life escape, take a ride in Big Orange.
I also want to add that this probably would be considered a New Adult based on the lead character’s age, but to me it read more like women’s fiction. Romance isn’t front and center and the heroine isn’t bed-hopping to find her true self (a plot device that seems to have taken over the New Adult genre). This is more about the heroine’s journey to understand her place in this world.
I make no money reviewing books in The January Project, but if this one sounds good to you, here are some buy links.
Another short review of a short read. I’m getting into novellas after this month – these short reads make me feel more productive. Behind the Blue Door is apparently a series of stories written by different authors who imagine what happens in a house with a blue door. I love this first entry 230 Periwinkle Place by Jayne Ormerod. Even though I picked it up on a free kindle day, you can buy this for the amount of money you’ll find under the floor mats of your car.
Single mom Skye Whitmore’s life goes into a tailspin, and not just because of what her twelve year old son did while home alone. A picture of a house with a blue door takes her back to a not so innocent time in her life when her four-year-old self witnessed her mother’s murder in that same house. Skye decides to more forward, she must take a journey into the past and learn the truth behind the crime.
I love the dialogue, it’s fast paced and funny. These are characters you’d love to hang out with. Skye is a flawed character, but utterly charming. Her relationship with her son, Blake, bubbles with real life moments and the chaos that comes from parenting. This quick, fully developed story was a great way to spend an afternoon. Mystery fans, rejoice, because Jayne Ormerod has other books too.