Thursday, June 13, 2024

Library Loans

Happy Medium
 by Sarah Adler
Published by Berkley on April 30, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

A clever con woman must convince a skeptical, sexy farmer of his property's resident real-life ghost if she's to save them all from a fate worse than death, in this delightful new novel from the author of Mrs. Nash's Ashes .

Fake spirit medium Gretchen Acorn is happy to help when her best ( wealthiest) client hires her to investigate the unexplained phenomena preventing the sale of her bridge partner’s struggling goat farm. Gretchen may be a fraud, but she'd like to think she’s a beneficent one. So if "cleansing" the property will help a nice old man finally retire and put some much-needed cash in her pockets at the same time, who's she to say no?

Of course, it turns out said bridge partner isn't the kindly AARP member Gretchen imagined—Charlie Waybill is young, hot as hell, and extremely unconvinced that Gretchen can communicate with the dead. (Which, fair.) Except, to her surprise, Gretchen finds herself face-to-face with the very real, very chatty ghost that’s been wreaking havoc during every open house. And he wants her to help ensure Charlie avoids the same family curse that's had Everett haunting Gilded Creek since the 1920s.

Now, Gretchen has one month to convince Charlie he can’t sell the property. Unfortunately, hard work and honesty seem to be the way to win over the stubborn farmer—not exactly Gretchen's strengths. But trust isn’t the only thing growing between them, and the risk of losing Charlie to the spirit realm looms over Gretchen almost as annoyingly as Everett himself. To save the goat farm, its friendly phantom, and the man she's beginning to love, Gretchen will need to pull off the greatest con of her being fully, genuinely herself.

This book had a such a great premise. A con-woman with a conscience is hired by her best client to "cleanse" her bridge partner's farm. When Gretchen arrives, she finds a young handsome farmer AND his long dead relative with whom she is able to communicate. The first thing that came to mind was Oda Mae Brown in the film Ghost, and this brought a smile to my face. But there were a lot more smiles to come from this amusing and sweet romance.

Yes, Gretchen did use deception to earn a living, but there were lines she wouldn't cross. She struggled with her family history and her desire to break free of it. Maybe this goat farm could be her ticket out of sham town and into an honest life. The only obstacle was Charlie who distrusted Gretchen and never failed to remind her of it.

It thrilled me to watch the relationship between these two evolve. Charlie was a tough nut to crack and boy, he could seem kind of mean, but then he would do something thoughtful or sweet. I knew it was just a matter of time before he opened his heart to Gretchen. 

Another great relationship in this book was between Gretchen and Everett the ghost. Everett was a hoot! And he and Gretchen had such a great rapport. There were hijinks and hilarious banter, but there was also a genuine bond between them. Everett was a total scene stealer who I think he will win the heart of readers.

A great romance, a friendly ghost, and baby goats made this a fun read for me. I loved being on and learning about the farm, but I also reveled in watching Charlie and Gretchen let down their defenses as they fell in love and embarked on a future together.

How to Read a Book
 by Monica Wood
Published by Mariner Books on May 7, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Fiction

A charming, deeply moving novel about second chances, unlikely friendships, and the life-changing power of sharing stories.

Our Reasons meet us in the morning and whisper to us at night. Mine is an innocent, unsuspecting, eternally sixty-one-year-old woman named Lorraine Daigle…

Violet Powell, a twenty-two-year-old from rural Abbott Falls, Maine, is being released from prison after serving twenty-two months for a drunk-driving crash that killed a local kindergarten teacher. Harriet Larson, a retired English teacher who runs the prison book club, is facing the unsettling prospect of an empty nest. Frank Daigle, a retired machinist, hasn’t yet come to grips with the complications of his marriage to the woman Violet killed.

When the three encounter each other one morning in a bookstore in Portland—Violet to buy the novel she was reading in the prison book club before her release, Harriet to choose the next title for the women who remain, and Frank to dispatch his duties as the store handyman—their lives begin to intersect in transformative ways.

How to Read a Book is an unsparingly honest and profoundly hopeful story about letting go of guilt, seizing second chances, and the power of books to change our lives. With the heart, wit, grace, and depth of understanding that has characterized her work, Monica Wood illuminates the decisions that define a life and the kindnesses that make life worth living.

I had no idea what I was in for when I checked this book out from the library, but it was a really lovely and touching story.

The story was told from three points of view - Violet, Harriet, and Frank. Their lives became intertwined by a series of events. Violet was a member of the prison book club led by Harriet. Though Violet was released early in the story, her crime tied her to Frank as it was his wife who was killed when Violet drove drunk. Stories like this are my catnip. I love the interconnectedness of these characters, but I also adored the relationships that grew among them.

Wood did a beautiful job crafting these characters. I found myself so sympathetic to Violet's struggle following her release. She was so young when she went to prison, and she had no support system on the outside. It was Harriet who ended up connecting with Violet by chance and being there for her as Violet navigated her new life.

And then there was Frank. He was so wonderful but harbored a lot of guilt. He showed grace and forgave Violet, and it was really touching the way he, Harriet, and Violet formed a little family. I was just so invested in all these characters and their personal journeys, and Wood did such a beautiful job telling their story.

The cherry on top was the ending. I got to see how it all worked out with years of events related to me in that chapter. I cried and smiled and was just overwhelmed with happiness for how it all worked out for everyone. It wasn't a perfect life, but like Violet said, she was loved.

Have you ever had your fortune read?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I've done a card reading before! It was fun, but I don't take any real stock in what they "read" about me.

    1. I never had mine done. My Oma used to dabble. Drove my uber Catholic grandfather nuts.

  2. How to Read a Book sounds so lovely - seeing the way all the characters are connected is always fun for me too!

    1. It was really good. I didn't expect the story that developed.

  3. I enjoyed Happy Medium overall, but it just felt so long to me. How to Read a Book sounds like an emotional read! Poor Frank and Violet! It would be hard to live with that kind of mistake.

    1. I think there were places Happy Medium could have cut out, but it didn't feel long to me which is a plus as that's my issue lately. I have not seen How to Read a Book around but it was a gem.

  4. I'm intrigued by the threads that connect Violet and Frank and Harriet in How to Read a Book. I can envision some uncomfortable interactions, but also (hopefully) some healing.

    1. The inmates sure put Harriet through the wringer but secretly loved her. And that first meeting between Frank and Violet was a charged one.