Monday, August 17, 2020

Tiny Tidbits

What You Wish For

Katherine Center
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living. But she wasn’t always that way.

Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen. But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before—at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him—but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school—and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love—which is the riskiest move of all.

With Katherine Center’s sparkling dialogue, unforgettable characters, heart, hope, and humanity, What You Wish For is the author at her most compelling best.
Sam had been abandoned by her father and found herself parentless after her mother's death. She longed for the love and safety of a "real" family and thought she had found that with Max and Babette, the founders of the Kempner School where she worked. However following Max's untimely death, her whole world was shaken up. Max was gone, Babette was grieving, and Sam's former crush, Duncan, was the new principal. But this wasn't the Duncan once adored by all, and Sam wasn't fond of this new version. And she was determined to help him restore his own joy before he ruined her school. 

I discovered Katherine Center via Things You Save in a Fire, and I have gone on to read more of her books for one simple reason - they make me happy. I am guaranteed the warm and fuzzy feels from Center's books, and once again, she has filled my heart with warmth and joy. 

Sam was a fantastic! Though her past was riddled with sadness, she kept pushing herself to seek happiness. She could have moped around and felt sorry for herself, but instead, she put on her clown socks and became an active part of her school's community. She made friends and some became her de facto family. She seemed to have a lust for life, however she deemed herself "broken" and denied herself love, all of which left my heart in pieces. 

She may have thought she was broken, but she kept choosing joy. This was a beautiful idea that came up, time and time again, in this story. The idea that we can choose joy, and that we should fight for it when necessary. All of Center's books seem to have something that really speaks to my heart, and this time, it's this concept, which was so encouraging and uplifting. 

Enter Duncan, a blast from her past, who also thought he was "broken". My heart was already brimming with emotion, but enter two "broken" people, and now it was spilling over. I loved seeing them come together, as Sam searched for the Duncan she knew. Like Sam's "truth", his made my heart ache, but Center mended it by helping these two find some peace with their past, as they forged a friendship and more.

As always, Center left me with all the feels. I laughed, cried, ached, and was filed with delight. Yes, an absolute feelsplosion. I am so happy I had the opportunity to read this stunning story of love, loss, healing, and pain, which reminded me to actively choose joy. 
I'm telling you. I know all about darkness. That's why I am so hell-bent, every damn day, on looking for the light.

**ARC received in exchange for an honest review. 
Dear Emmie Blue 

Lia Louis
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
In this charming and poignant novel, teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it; now, fourteen years later, the one thing Emmie has been counting on is gone for good, and everything she planned is up in the air.

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over.
Imagine releasing your biggest secret into the universe via a balloon, and that secret being found by a boy in France. This boy would later become your best friend, and you would fall in love with him. He would announce his impending marriage, and your world will begin to crumble. But maybe something even better would emerge from the rubble. 

My heart was breaking for Emmie right there in chapter one. I got emotional and choked up just imagining having to stand by and watch the man I love marry someone else, while being completely oblivious to my feelings. 

So, yeah, mission accomplished Lia Louis. You broke my heart in chapter one. NOW WHAT! Let me tell you, what happens over the course of the rest of the book really makes up for the pain I endured. The author created this character, who I couldn't help but embrace. She had suffered so much, but she never gave up. She withstood her less than ideal family situation, but still believed she could find love. She pushed on despite a rather scarring event in high school. She continued to show kindness to others, even when she was treated thoughtlessly. For all these reasons, I loved Emmie, and I was cheering her on and hoping she could see things in a different way, because she deserved happiness and all her heart's desires. 

I have to say, her relationship with Lucas was up and down for me, and overall, quite frustrating. Their lives had been intertwined for so long, but I felt like she viewed him through rose-colored glasses. He wasn't the worst, but he also wasn't worthy of the pedestal she put him upon. 

And then there was Elliot, Lucas' brother. He wasn't so easy to read, but I was happy to see him rekindling his friendship with Emmie. They had a falling out in their teens and had been estranged for many years. It was nice to see them getting to know each other as grown ups, and I actually grew to really like Elliot as the story played on. 

I had talked about up-lit a while back, and I would say, this book falls into that category. My heart kept breaking over and over again as I read this story until it didn't. These little wonderful moments kept popping up, and I could see Emmie's story taking a turn for the better. And obviously, I started crying again, but these were the good tears, the happy tears. 

Emmie had a bit of an uphill journey, but I was so proud of all the progress she made. I adored this lovely, charming, and heartwarming story, because it left me with a whole lotta sunshine in my heart. 

Have you ever launched a balloon message?
Let us know in the comments!

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