Awakened

By Ciara Duggan

After losing her parents in an accident only she survived, Hannah is desperate for answers. Haunted by the events of that tragic night, she struggles to move on, yearning for some deeper truth about her loss.

But when it comes time to turn a new page and move cross country for college, she vows to leave the past behind. After all, Bellcliff University is a thousand miles away from the ghosts nipping at her heels.

Yet when Hannah accidentally awakens a handsome witch from a hidden cave near campus, she realizes he isn’t the only thing stirring out of slumber. Hannah has roused all magic…including the devil herself.

As if spells, curses, and college jitters weren’t enough, this witch claims to know Hannah from four centuries prior—and their connection is more than casual.

Thrust into a world of sorcery and monsters, Hannah must fight to keep the magic she’d unleashed from claiming a price far too steep for her to pay. 

Thanks to Netgalley for this eARC in exchange for this honest review. 

I’m not quite sure what I expected when I began to read this book. I think I was looking for a really great magical story. What I got was witches and vampires. Had I read this book back in the days of Twilight, Vampire Diaries and True Blood (Sookie!), I might be writing a different review. But it’s 2021 and I think fantasy stories have evolved beyond just witches and vampires which is why this book was a miss for me. 

On the plus side, I think this was a great effort by the author. The writing style and the pace of the book was nicely done. It wasn’t too long and the story didn’t really linger in one place for longer than necessary. 

On the minus side, I’m not a fan of reincarnation stories, or stories with vampires. I did enjoy the witches and the attempt to create a type of lore with the behind-the-real-world-world-building but overall, it felt a little deflated. The love interest didn’t interest me. It all felt…well…a little too young. 

That being said, I do hope to see more by this author. I may not have loved the story but I always will praise a good attempt. 

⭐ ⭐ 

House of Salt and Sorrow

By: Erin Craig

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next. 

I am so drawn to tragic stories set on or by the sea. As a child, I fell in love with the original story of The Little Mermaid. Her fate, so painful, really ignited in my heart of love stories like this. When I first came upon this book, I didn’t know it was retelling. I often say I’m not a fan of them but…well…maybe I am! 

This book has a little bit of everything I love in it; set by the sea, princesses and fairy tales, a touch of Greek mythology, ghosts, mysteries and a magic curse. I picked it up and was hard pressed to put it down (stupid real life! stupid job!) but I did. All in all, it only took three days to read so it’s a fast read. There’s no slow moments in this story. 

Now, the original story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses was a bit of a snore fest, to be honest. It was a delightful surprise to see the author embellish and twist this into something gothic and ghostly while keeping the thread of the original story intact. 

There are some notable themes here. Probably the most obvious one is grief. The book opens to the funeral of Eulalie, the latest sister to die. The main character, Annaleigh, struggles to process the losses of all her sisters throughout the book. Her grief deepens as she comes to believe foul play took her sisters and not fate. We feel Annaleigh’s loss and heartbreak quite keenly, especially when two more sisters are lost later on in the book.

It was quite a challenge to keep all the characters organized in my brain. The author helps by breaking up the sisters a bit, having the “triplets” of Rosalie, Lenore and Ligeia and then the “graces” of Verity, Mercy and Honor. Between the girls and so many other supporting characters, I would suggest reading this with a notebook to help keep everyone straight. However, each character stands on their own, having their own voice, so to speak. I enjoyed and felt attached to them all. 

There is a love interest for Annaleigh and by the climax of the story, we question whether or not he is real as Annaleigh realizes she’s been tricked and played with by the evil Kosamaras, the harbinger of Madness. Cassius plays the part of the love interest nicely without distracting from the main story or taking over and becoming the hero. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Yes, it was a little predictable in places and while the love interest didn’t take away from the story in any way, it really didn’t add a whole lot to it. The world building was incredible and the setting was beautifully written. The characters were believable and relatable without them being too much out of their own time or element. The gothic, ghostly elements were all there for me to make this a great read on a chilly, rainy night. 

All in all, this was a very enjoyable read and a great introduction to this author. I look forward to reading more by Erin Craig. 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Bookbinder’s Daughter

By Jessica Thorne

When Sophie is offered a job at the Ayredale Library – the finest collection of rare books in the world, and the last place her bookbinder mother was seen when Sophie was just a teenager – she leaps at the chance. 

Taking in the endless shelves of antique books, the soaring stained-glass windows, and the grand sweeping staircase, usually shy Sophie feels strangely at home, and is welcomed by her eccentric fellow binders. But why is the Keeper of the Library so reluctant to speak about Sophie’s mother? And why is Sophie the only person who can read the strange spells in the oldest books on display, written in a forgotten language nobody else understands?

The mysteries of the library only deepen when Sophie stumbles upon an elaborately carved door. The pattern exactly matches the pendant her mother left behind years ago, engraved with a delicate leaf. As the door swings open at her touch, Sophie gasps at the incredible sight: an enormous tree, impossibly growing higher than the library itself, its gently falling golden leaves somehow resembling the pages of a book. Amidst their rustling, Sophie hears a familiar whisper…

‘There you are, my Sophie. I knew you’d come back for me.’

There are several things to love about this book. 

First, the language used is intricate, delicate and beautiful. Jessica Thorne has a such a mastery over vocabulary which she uses skillfully and without alienating her reader with a lot of “high-falooty mambo jumbo”. It’s simply exquisite. She uses words like a carver would use their tools to carefully craft a world-behind-the-world creating such detail and a stunning backdrop for this story. I fell in love with the library as though it was a living, breathing entity. Due to this, it can take a while for the actual story to unfold however, if you just stay with it, it’ll be worth it!

Next, the story itself. The idea of books and magic housed under the roof of a library isn’t one unfamilier to us readers. Books are magic, transporting, creating, and allowing escape from our everyday lives – even if we’re escaping to live the everyday life of a book character. We meet it, crave it and thrill to it as we let the magic of a good book envelope us and take us where the author wants us to go. Outside of God and all I feel and know through my faith, books are literally the next best ‘high’ one can get. 

I always love when an inanimate object suddenly becomes a character. There are two of those in this book; one is the library and one is the tree. They both have words, feelings, personalities and ebb and flow with the heroine flawlessly as she seeks out their secrets and unravels their mysteries. The library moans and groans under threat of evil. The tree dispels its leaves which, in turn, become pages for the bookbinder to create into a book. 

There’s a nice symbiotic relationship here as the library cannot survive without the tree, which gives of itself to the library yet the tree cannot exist without the library; the library is its home. 

The main character of Sophie is lost, alone and confused and all for the right reasons, having survived an emotionally abusive relationship and much loss. She flees to be with an estranged uncle as she takes on a job as the bookbinder at Ayredale’s library. She meets up with friends, old and new. There is a love interest in the form of Will and we struggle along with her to find out his connection to the library. 

There is an evil presence and I often found myself wondering who were the good guys and who were the bag guys with the exception of Sophie, our heroine. There is a nice character development as we watch Sophie’s internal struggle to find out what happened to her mom but also to free herself from the bondage of her abusive relationship. 

Lastly, I love that this story is almost told like a bit of folklore. It’s like a story you’d tell your kids at night, around a fire while sipping hot chocolate. It’s simply lovely! 

My rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost

By Lindsay Marcott

Jane has lost everything: job, mother, relationship, even her home. A friend calls to offer an unusual deal—a cottage above the crashing surf of Big Sur on the estate of his employer, Evan Rochester. In return, Jane will tutor his teenage daughter. She accepts.

But nothing is quite as it seems at the Rochester estate. Though he’s been accused of murdering his glamorous and troubled wife, Evan Rochester insists she drowned herself. Jane is skeptical, but she still finds herself falling for the brilliant and secretive entrepreneur and growing close to his daughter.

And yet her deepening feelings for Evan can’t disguise dark suspicions aroused when a ghostly presence repeatedly appears in the night’s mist and fog. Jane embarks on an intense search for answers and uncovers evidence that soon puts Evan’s innocence into question. She’s determined to discover what really happened that fateful night, but what will the truth cost her? 

Right off the bat, while I know this book was being promoted as a Jane Eyre retelling, I honestly felt it  paid a significant amount of homage to Rebecca. So much so that I often had to think of which story was being retold. If the author’s intent was a Jane Eyre retelling, then this book, while really good, falls short. Same for a Rebecca retelling. However, if Lindsay Mancott’s idea was to marry the store stories into one solid retelling, then she succeeded. 

Mrs. Rochesters Ghost has all the elements of a creepy, eerie novel; mansion, seaside cottage, fog, old tower, secrets, tragic history and a whole bunch of unanswered questions which unravel themselves as the story goes on. The author seemed to know exactly which scare buttons to push using just the right amount of fright-factor pressure to set my teeth on edge. I, myself, felt like I was being watched in the same way Jane did. 

Lindsay Marcott also did a great job of getting inside of Beatrice’s head. We see her hallucinations, her downward spiral and even her severe and violent manic moments all through her eyes which was something I hadn’t come in contact with before in a novel, certainly not to this degree. I couldn’t tell which was more disturbing; the idea of her ghost hanging around the house or being inside her mind. Truly well done. 

The main character of Jane isn’t written as a strong woman but more of a loner who really isn’t sure of her life. I think this is why I liken this more to Rebecca than Jane Eyre. The character of Jane Eyre was a solidly strong woman who knew exactly who she was. Rebecca was more of a wandering soul and a little closer to the character of Jane. I did like Jane, however, and I felt empathy for her situation which lead her to Thorn Bluffs. 

The whole who-dun-it was also nicely done as initially, I really couldn’t sort out if Evan was the good guy or if Rick was. I love a novel that keeps me guessing (even though in this instance, with this being a retelling, I sorta already knew). 

A few oddball characters for me…Otis. I really didn’t believe he was a lifetime long friend of Jane. Their conversations were odd and seemed contrived at times. I had no emotional attachment to him at all. Same with Sophia. Sweet girl. Nice character but I really didn’t care much about her.

Characters I did connect with were Jane, of course, and Evan. His swirling around trying to make deals, deals with the fallout of Beatrice while trying to keep his own sanity made him likeable and unlikeable all in one. I like a character that keeps me guessing. However, I have to say it again, what wound up happening to him at the end was more reminiscent of Rebecca than Jane Eyre. 

Overall, I think this was an enjoyable read. Great mystery. Good characters and a decent level of suspense and haunting themes. I would recommend this book. 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

If The Shoe Fits

By Julie Murphy

After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America’s favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.

Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn’t expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.

Cinderella meets The Bachelor. 

Ideally, I’m over retellings, especially the main Disney princess stories. And you couldn’t pay me enough to watch The Bachelor. So why would I even consider reading this book? 

One reason – Plus size female protagonist. In my own mind, that’s exactly what I am – a plus-size, real life heroine!

After watching a few blips and blurbs from Julie Murphy’s instagram, I knew this book was for me. I read it under 24 hours and wasn’t disappointed – not even once. 

I’ve read a few stories where the author threw in a plus-size character, I guess for good measure. However, no one has told it from a real fat girl’s perspective. Julie Murphy got into my head and laid bare all my fears, all my feelings, all my self-doubt created by a skinny world, all the rejection I have dealt with due to my weight, even my fashion struggles and she did it while making me laugh. 

For that, Julie Murphy has found in me – a fat girl – a huge (no pun intended) fan! I read this book and for the first time in all my 52 years decided to cross the word “ugly” out of the phrase “fat and ugly”. I went to my full length mirror and saw a plus-size, dimpled, double chinned beauty looking back at me. 

The story of a fat girl winning a prince should be told over and over and over again until Hollywood gets it, until the fashion world gets it and until plus size men stop writing “slim, active girls need only reply” in their dating profiles. 

This is a book I will read over and over and over again. I will take this book out and read Cindy’s story whenever I feel bad about myself. I will remember how she took bits and pieces of a LuMac collection and strutted down a runway like the Queen she was! 

Thank you, Julie Murphy, for showing us fat girls some love, for telling us through this book we are beautiful and we DO deserve to get the prince in the end!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Marvelous Mirza Girls

By Sheba Karim

To cure her post–senior year slump, made worse by the loss of her aunt Sonia, Noreen is ready to follow her mom on a gap year trip to New Delhi, hoping India can lessen her grief and bring her voice back.

In the world’s most polluted city, Noreen soon meets kind, handsome Kabir, who introduces her to the wonders of this magical, complicated place. With Kabir’s help—plus Bollywood celebrities, fourteenth-century ruins, karaoke parties, and Sufi saints—Noreen begins to rediscover her joyful voice.

But when a family scandal erupts, Noreen and Kabir must face complicated questions in their own relationship: What does it mean to truly stand by someone—and what are the boundaries of love? 

I picked up this book to read after hearing the author was a huge Gilmore Girls fan. I’m also a fan of the show and so I was excited to see what Sheba Karin could do with a story where the relationship between the mother and daughter mirrored the relationship between Lorelai and Rory.

I wasn’t disappointed as the mother/daughter relationship is nicely done and very much in the same vein of Gilmore Girls. Noreen and Ruby have an open, honest relationship. Ruby struggles in her relationship with her parents more for cultural reasons than monetary. The conversation between Noreen and Rudy is quick, witty and fun. But that’s where the Gilmore Girl parallel ends. 

After the death of a loved one, both girls travel to India for a summer. Aaand this is where I got lost. I embraced the total idea of being transported to a place I’ve never been and experience a culture I know little about. And perhaps because I knew so little is why I was so lost. The imagery and scenery was beautifully written. However, I kept needing to go to Google to find out what a phrase meant, or what a cultural reference was. Having to do that as often as I did broke up my reading that I got more than just a little distracted. I do want to learn more about the Indian culture as I find it to be meaningful and lovely and full of so much color but perhaps I needed to do that before I tried reading this book. 

There was just no character development for me. I didn’t see Noreen grow or evolve at all during the story, or what I read of the story. The storyline seemed consist of little more than her meeting up with Kabir and his friends over and over. I did get that she was grieving. In fact that theme was very nicely done. The way one’s world irrevocably changes after the death of a loved one was threaded evenly into the story and in a very realistic way. 

The underlying political themes flat out annoyed me. I don’t mind LGBTQ+ themes or themes of racism as they’re important for us to read. However, I felt like they had nothing to do with the story. They weren’t a main focus and did nothing to further the plot along. In fact, for me, they were distracting. 

I wish I could have loved this. I wanted to. But in the end, I couldn’t finish it due to lack of storyline, no character development and a flat support cast. 

⭐ ⭐

The Lost Village

By Camilla Sten

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

I read this book in one day. The opening scene is extremely creepy and grabbed my attention. Immediately, I had to know what happened to this village! So the suspense aspect of this story was a huge hit for me. 

The setting – a Swedish mine village in the 1950’s – served as a great backdrop to this story. I mean, seriously now – an abandoned village in the middle of nowhere was very well-written and chilling indeed. I could feel the silence – even had to turn on some music as it got a little too quiet for me while reading it. The psychological aftertaste was a bit too intense for me, though, which surprised me since I love a good scare! I mean, I’ve read everything Wendy Webb has ever published and her books haunted me to my core! 

I was surprisingly shaken by my own reactions to the amount of human suffering in this story. Birgitta’s story alone was tragic and heartbreaking and how her story ended shook me up. The reality of what actually happened to the town so led astray by a psychotic fanatic, while predictable, is still a bit troubling. Combine that with the modern story of Alice and the losses she suffers while trying to get enough evidence just to get someone to fund further investigation into what really happened and you wind up with a cross between the Blair Witch Project and the Jonestown massacre. 

The characters were all well-written although I found myself forming more of an attachment to the characters from the past then the present. Alice really evoked no emotional response from me at all, despite her battles with mental health issues. Emma was a little cardboardy, Max and Robert were stiff. Only Tone was mildly intriguing and that was most likely due to her backstory. I really loved Elsa, however, and I felt for her as she watched her daughter being taken from her bit by bit. She broke my heart into a thousand pieces as did Birgitta. While I started out really liking Aine, unfortunately, I saw the writing on the wall with her as her relationship with Pastor Mattias became twisted and warped. Then, I only felt pity for how lost she was. 

All in all, this was a decent read and a super fast one. The story flips from the past to the present just enough so you’re able to easily follow the storyline. While the ending is predictable (in my opinion), the writer does give you just enough clues to keep you going back for “just one more chapter”. 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Dancing With the Dead

By S.A. Dunphy

She had taken only one step towards the hotel when she heard the car door opening, and then something had her by the shoulders in a grip like steel. Penny tried to fight, but it was no good. The last thing she heard as consciousness drifted away was the whisper of a familiar song…

In a small town on Ireland’s west coast, a young woman named Penelope O’Dwyer leaves a restaurant. It should take five minutes to walk back to where she’s staying. In those five minutes she disappears without a trace.

It’s a few days before the tape arrives. The kidnapper’s face is masked, his voice distorted, but no one doubts for a second he will follow through on his threat: a ritual murder at the end of October – and after that, many more murders to come. Penelope has two weeks to live. And the police don’t have a single lead.

This was a first read for me by this author. I opened the book yesterday morning and didn’t stop reading until I was finished. This doesn’t happen for me very often. I just HAD to know how it ended! 

While I’m not a huge fan of crime/serial killer stories, this book sucked me in. It gave me a lot of Joy Ellis vibes (and I am a huge fan of hers). The camaraderie and friendship between Jessie, Seamus and Terri reminded me a lot of Jackman and Evans. They’re easy characters to care about. I loved how each one was introduced. We get a bit of each of their backstories without leaving the path of the story. Each backstory is introduced just at the right time and is essential to the story. 

This book also gave me a few CJ Tudor feels, with the folklore added to the storyline. I love Celtic folklore. It was weaved brilliantly into the story and mixed well with the modern day mystery. 

I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I won’t but reading this book was like putting together a huge puzzle. Mr. Dunphy put each corner together first giving us a glimpse of what the whole picture would like. Then, he skillfully connects each little completed piece to give us the whole picture, like a fuzzy image coming slowly into a clear view. And yet, even with all that, we’re still left wanting more with a bit of something left over for the next book. 

My recommendation is READ THIS!! Set aside a day and start in the morning because once you start, you will not want to put this book down. Personally, I cannot wait to virtually go to Ireland and visit Jessie, Seamus and Terri again. I’m so curious to see what the future holds for all of them! 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

The Silent Companion

By Laura Purcell

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure —a silent companion —-that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.

Honestly, I think I fell in love with the book after reading the synopsis. This story has all the ingredients of a Victorian gothic ghost/horror story of the very best kind. Star with a setting in a creepy asylum. Add in a story that goes back to 1860s, where a widowed woman travels to a Victorian estate filled with creepy dolls that seem to be the real owners and caretakers of the house and sprinkle with a diary from 1630s which tells the real origins of the story and you’re in for a few nights of sleeping with the lights on. 

The storytelling is immense in this book. There’s three different time periods; Elsie’s present, her past and Anne’s diary (which is told in the first person). Three timeline lines yet the storytelling is so flawless, I had no trouble following it. 

I loved the writing: so pure and so visual yet not overwhelming. Too often, whenever I read a period novel, the author gets so caught up in details of either the scene or clothing I tend to lose connection with the story. While I love a well-researched novel, I think a good author will know how much detail to add without overpowering the story with historical facts. Laura Purcell balances this out perfectly in this book. I was able to be transported and yet kept my focus on what was going on in the story. 

The story ends with a twist and I almost wasn’t sure what exactly happened until I read it over a few times. One question I was left with was why did the companions even come to the house? I know how they were acquired but I wasn’t sure if it was the intention of the dolls to be obtained by Anne? Or were they affected by the house? Did Hetta summon them? I love that I was left with these questions and then at the same time, I want to know the answer to these questions. 

My advice – If you love gothic horror, then you will LOVE this book. I would read it at night while the snow falls and the wind howls. Grab your favorite blanket and a cup of tea. This novel doesn’t disappoint! 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Victoria Grace the Jerkface

By S.E. Clancy

Ever since Tori Weston and MamaBear were abandoned by her dad, finances have been tighter than a new pair of skinny jeans. As if keeping her grades up for scholarships and working every spare moment weren’t enough, Tori gets suckered into visiting a retirement home and paired with ancient resident Marigold Williams. After learning she’s the only one to visit Marigold in decades, Tori becomes a regular at Willow Springs. Besides, someone has to help with her history homework.

Few books make it to my read-over-and-over-again shelf. This book now resides there. I will pick this up again and again just to feel all the warmth, all the love, all the kindness and all the laughter this story gives. 

First, as a single mom of two early twenty-something girls, I really loved the relationship between Mamabear and Tori. Mamabear is strong, protective, funny and an excellent role model working hard to give Tori as much as she can. I related with her a lot. She set the boundaries for Tori in those tough moments of decision and yet, within those boundaries, we get to see Tori grow and flourish. And their text message conversations were hilarious. It reminded me very much of conversations I’ve had with my girls, usually via text and usually when they were in the next room. 

Victoria Grace is the perfect “flail” girl. She’s awkward and funny and puts her foot in her mouth one too many times when confronted with a boy she likes. She’s learned the art of not needing scores of friends and is super faithful to the one friend she does have, Madison, even when Mads gets to be a bit too much for Tori.

She’s a great role model for young girls here. Hard working with the ability to sacrifice wants in order to get things she needs: a car, for example. She works hard for her grades and at her two jobs. Of course, Mamabear is a great example of doing that, having had to raise Tori alone after her dad took off. 

Tori signs up to volunteer to spend time with some elderly folks at a local nursing home – actually, Mamabear sorta lets her know that while she has a choice, she also doesn’t have a choice. And there, she meets Marigold. 

Marigold is a resident of the nursing home who’s led this wonderfully interesting and somewhat sad life. She’s worked in Hollywood for most of her life, was unlucky in love and, until Tori came along, thought to die alone with no family and no one to visit her. Tori’s unselfishness and tenacity is able to help with the latter but we’re left wondering about the former. What happened in her marriage and who was the starlet she was an assistant to? 

Tori enters the nursing home much like I would expect any teenager to; smelling weird smells and wishing she had an invisibility cloak as she walked the halls to get to Marigold’s room. Along the way, she meets Jasmine, another resident with dementia who tells Tori she’s beautiful and she reminds her of her own granddaughter. Every time Jasmine reached for Tori, my heart broke a little just thinking about how many real live Jasmines there are in the world, sitting alone in a nursing home not knowing who they are or why they’re there. 

I loved the way Marigold demanded the respect due her, instantly setting the tone for the relationship between her and Tori. Their relationship grows from that mutual respect and they take and give it to each other in droves. As their relationship evolved, it was interesting to watch Marigold interact with Tori, giving her pearls of wisdom and advice. She seems to steal a little bit of Tori’s youth, using it to energize her until the very end. Through Marigold, Tori gets a glimpse of life at the end and is able to size up what really matters in her life; her relationship with her mom and her boyfriend and showing kindness to those around her, even those she doesn’t know like the soldiers she writes to. 

Heartwarming story and wonderful characters aside, this book is a gentle call to action. Especially today, when folks seem meaner, more selfish and more polarized than ever, it’s a call to find that kindness inside of you. To step outside of your box and reach out to those you don’t know to help them. To take extra steps to quit under-estimating our young people and pay attention to our elderly, for they have so much wisdom yet still to give. To know family and friends are the most important things we can ever have. To learn to appreciate what we have in the here and now and know that once we do, better things usually show up in our lives. 

My advice – Read this book. Then read it again. Then read other books. Then go back to this one and ready it again. A box of tissues is optional but always a good idea.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐