Book Review: Things We Set on Fire by Deborah Reed

things we set on fireBLURB: A series of tragedies brings Vivvie’s young grandchildren into her custody, and her two estranged daughters back under one roof. Jackson, Vivvie’s husband, was shot and killed thirty years ago, and the ramifications have splintered the family into their own isolated remembrances and recriminations.

Sisters Elin and Kate fought mercilessly in childhood and have avoided each other for years. Elin seems like the last person to watch her sister convalesce after an attempted suicide. But Elin has her own reasons for coming to Kate’s side and will soon discover Kate’s own staggering needs.

This deeply personal, hauntingly melancholy look at the damages families inflict on each other—and the healing that only they can provide—is filled with flinty, flawed, and complex people stumbling toward some kind of peace. Like Elizabeth Strout and Kazuo Ishiguro, Deborah Reed understands a story, and its inhabitants reveal themselves in the subtleties: the space between the thoughts, the sigh behind the smile, and the unreliable lies people tell themselves that ultimately reveal the deepest truths.

 

MY THOUGHTS: This is my first Reed read (ha!) but not likely to be my last. I’ve enjoyed the way the author can weave past & present very, very smoothly and the way that life is portrayed as a cycle.

I actually found part of that cycle woke memories that I try hard to keep buried. Being raised primarily by a (at times) mentally unstable parent is not easy. Not to put down the character of Vivvie, but I saw similarities between her and Kaye, especially when Vivvie was at the end of her coping times. I know why Vivvie took the actions she did; & I strive to be the opposite in my life. Perhaps I’m trying too hard, but that’s not an open conversation for a blog!

I guess everyone carries a burden of some kind.

 

Four stars, easy to grade, harder to read.

 

I read this book as part of my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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Because, BEARS.

I’ll concede right now that I read a lot. And a lot of what I read isn’t worth reviewing, as I read to clear my head before sleep, or to drown out the chaos around me. This last two weeks with the cold virus has been awful and I haven’t retained a lot. Except, bears.

The latest Psy-Changeling book was released last week, and a couple of days later the e-book dropped into my Kindle. Oops. Oddly enough (given we live in a tech world and I’d also pre-ordered the audiobook for the same release date) Audible didn’t deliver that version until the evening. I will say it was harder than usual to work that day as all I wanted to do was hibernate. I should have taken a leave day and curled up – I would have had six un-interrupted hours in between the school run, so totally worth it. Next time!

BLURB: Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.
 
Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.
 
Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…

I really enjoyed this book. It’s the first in the Trinity story arc and so, so different a world from the first book, Slave to Sensation (2006!) yet still the same. Seeing a glimpse of some older characters settles my need to have linking books, and I can see a few of the issues that the three cultures need to resolve showing thru to what will form at least the next few books (note Nalini, you need to give us more than just the Trinity conclusion!!) but as ever, Nalini’s characters are not entirely predictable (bears!). The only thing that I found jarring was who the culprit was, and I can’t say more than that so early on in the publication life. Perhaps after I’ve re-read (or finished listening) that will settle on me. I can inadvertently not “grab” a meaning because I am devouring the book too fast & I suspect that’s the case here.

Because I don’t seek to fund this blog & I purchased these editions, I won’t give specific links but you can read an excerpt or look for local editions on Nalini’s site : http://nalinisingh.com/books/psychangeling-trinity-series/silver-silence/ 

Lastly – I much prefer the darker UK covers. Thankfully that’s what we get down here 🙂

Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn by Evangeline Kelly

  • Reading Order: Seaside Harmony, Sunflower Summer, Whispers on the Dock
  • Publisher: Guideposts
  • Subject: fiction
  • Recommended by: library hook-up

mistyharbor

This is a gentle, not Bible-thumping trilogy about 3 older sisters who gather after their mother’s passing in Nantucket, the scene of childhood holidays. There are a few mysteries to solve about their family history and that of the house, and the trilogy themes are fairly universal – love, acceptance & forgiveness.

Evangeline Kelley is the pen name for the writing team of Patti Berg, Pam Andrews & Barbara Hanson, and Camy Tang. Apparently this was their first time writing together, but the result is almost seamless and you can’t tell which author wrote which part – the sign of a good team! Everything meshes together to produce something that doesn’t appear rushed, doesn’t hurry you thru to the end, & isn’t sickly sweet. The series wraps up cleanly but not awkwardly. It is important to read these in order to enjoy.

There’s an interview with Camy Tang here  & one of the things she says rings true: Home really is where your heart is! It might be a bit overused today, but the sentiment is always true. God puts us in the specific places in our lives where we can serve Him, love others and learn the value of what He’s done in our lives.

Seaside Harmony – Book 1 When Caroline Marris joins her sisters, Gracie Gold and Sam Carter for a Nantucket Island getaway, she has no idea how it will change her life. The sisters stumble upon Misty Harbor Inn, the place their late mother loved so much, and Caroline talks her sisters into buying the beautiful but dilapidated inn. But can free-spirited Caroline stay focused enough to make opening the inn a reality? Hand-drawn old postcards draw the sisters into the mystery of Hannah Montague, the young widow of the original owner. Can the sisters uncover the fate of this woman who disappeared in 1880? As Caroline and her sisters work together to make their mom’s dream a reality, they bond in ways they never expected.

Sunflower Summer – book 2 Misty Harbor Inn officially opens, and Gracie Gold, the middle Marris sister, wrestles with an overwhelming decision. As the sisters learn the day-to-day workings of running an inn, Gracie counsels its first guests, newlyweds whose honeymoon seems to be ending before it begins. Meanwhile, Sam’s discovery of a clue in a secret room sheds unflattering light on Hannah Montague, who vanished from the house more than one hundred years ago. And as Gracie and Caroline welcome guests to the inn, they are delighted to see how God uses it — and them — to deepen relationships and transform lives.

Whispers on the Dock – book 3 As Nantucket reaches the pinnacle of its summer glory, and the Marris sisters welcome guests at Misty Harbor Inn, youngest sister Sam Carter enters her mother’s cobbler recipe in the Summerfest baking contest. But she faces a formidable opponent, a past winner who is determined to keep her title even if it means stooping to dirty tactics. Can Sam’s newfound faith help her rise above the fray and reach out to this lonely woman? Meanwhile, an elderly guest arrives who knows the inn’s history, and the sisters are stunned to learn that their late mother lived there as a child. But she told them she’d never been to Nantucket until her honeymoon! Through the woman’s reminiscences and photos, the sisters make an intriguing discovery — not only about the mysterious Hannah Montague, the young woman who disappeared from the house in 1880, but also about their own family history