The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane is definitely not the kind of book I normally read (Not My Wheelhouse!), despite the fact that, like SisterCoyote “I’m very much a book magpie” (love that!). The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane looks like something your mom would read at the beach. And while I have nothing against your mom, a story about two girls who win a contest that changes their lives forever and takes place somewhere called Christmas Cove, Maine would not normally be my thing. BUT I picked it up after reading Kelly Harms’s The Overdue Life of Amy Byler which I ADORED. And I ended up liking it quite a bit. It also led me to the third book I reviewed here, Matchmaking for Beginners, which popped up as a recommendation from Kindle Unlimited after I finished the other two.
The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms
In the kind of set up that ONLY happens in books like this (and the movies based on them), two women named Janine Brown from Cedar Falls, Iowa both enter a contest for a dream home. Through a series of screw ups, the mistake isn’t discovered until the “real” winner (goes by Janey, forced into the contest by her nosy Aunt Midge) shows up with a key to find the other winner (Nean, kind of a liar, escaping a crappy boyfriend) already settling in.
Nean lies about her past, Midge believes her, and Janey has no backbone, so they all end up living in this dream home together. Janey has experienced some trauma in her past that leads her to avoid people now, as socializing literally gives her a rash. Midge has been trying to force her back into life, but all Janey wants to do is cook and hide. Nean, meanwhile, can’t stand Janey, and refuses to believe that the house may not be hers forever.
Of course they all end up bringing out the best in each other, and fall in love with locals, and go on to lead their best lives. I actually really liked Janey’s character — she’s so human and her mistrust of society and desire to cook all day appealed to me. The descriptions of the food in this book are AMAZING by the way. Midge is a bit of a character — this nosy old broad with a million stories to tell and an early morning skinny dipping ritual. But she grew on me. And Nean gets the real redemption tale here, which is hard earned. It’s a cute book, and your mom would probably like it.
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms
Oh my God I loved this book. A lot of it is probably wish-fulfillment on my part. The main character is a single mom whose wretched ex-husband shows up after a long period off time and decides he wants to spend some time bonding with his children after having disappeared from their lives, therefore allowing Amy to go to New York where she attends a library conference and has a lot of sex. That’s damn appealing.
“I get this now. I get now that you can love what you have, love your kids and your life and your friends, and still want more. I get that it’s ok to go out and get more—more love, more friendship, more fulfillment—and still be a wonderful mom.”
Amy Byers has been keeping it together since her husband went to China for work and just…never came home. She got a job, arranged carpool for the kids, and only drank wine once everyone was in bed. A couple years later, he reappears. Despite her MANY misgivings, she accepts his offer to watch the kids while she goes to New York for this amazing library conference that I totally want to crash. Her plans to stay with a friend fall through (this part made me roll my eyes but I moved on), and she ends up meeting a lot of new people (including, of course, a very good looking man). It’s all wonderful until she has to decide — what happens when the week ends?
I LOVED Amy. She’s funny and angry and trying so goddamn hard. I also liked the little sections her teenage daughter wrote, explaining how the disappearance and reappearance of their father affected her and her little brother. But my favorite part was the conference. Amy has a program she’s implemented at her school to get kids to read — reaching out to those who normally would just check the SparkNotes or fail the class. Watching her talk about it to other librarians, try to figure out how to take it from a privileged private school setting to schools with way fewer resources? I mean, that’s way hotter than sex with strangers. The passion for and love of books in this novel made me so happy. I know y’all will like it for the same reason.
Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson
Kindle Unlimited has this cool feature where you can get an e-book for free (well, with your subscription to the service) that also has a free audio version. So if you read the first part of the e-book and want to switch to audio, it will know exactly where you are. I enjoyed this feature very much while Matchmaking for Beginners, which I started as an audiobook while running and ended up finishing as an ebook on a plane. The book itself was decent, but its delivery was excellent!
This is another one of those novels where the main character is thrown into absolutely ridiculous circumstances and goes on a Journey and ends up for the better at the end of it. Concepts like this can be made or broken by the people within the book, and in that aspect, this book does fairly well. It started out pretty slow for me, but once Marnie got a little more settled in, I found myself enjoying it quite a bit.
So Marnie is engaged to this incredibly wealthy guy named Noah, and at their engagement party (where she is bombarded by his rather horrible wealthy family), she meets his great-aunt Blix. Blix is the black sheep of the family, a woman who lives in a home in New York City, far away from her southern relatives (the horror!). Blix is a matchmaker (there’s a little magic in this but it’s not a massive plot point) and immediately sees that Marnie and Noah are not meant to be. Despite trying to convince Marnie that she deserves a much bigger life than she can get with Noah, Marnie ignores the advice of this complete and total stranger (who is sort of a nut ball) and marries Noah anyway — who leaves her almost immediately after the wedding. Then Blix dies and leaves her house to Marnie, but of course there is a stipulation: Marnie has to live in the house for 3 months before she can officially sell it.
So Marnie goes to New York and meets the house full of characters that Blix has adopted over the years. She leaves behind a new fiance in Florida (old boyfriend she hooks up with post-Noah and decides to marry because she wants her happily ever after) and the rest of her family. Everyone is astounded why Marnie would have been left this house by a stranger and why she would agree to the terms of the will (me too, guys, but we’re moving on). The real draw of this story is Marnie’s relationship with Patrick. He is a young man living in the basement of Blix’s home. He suffered some sort of horrible accident and due to his disfiguring scars, he refuses to leave his apartment. We know from the start that Blix wants Marnie and Patrick to get together. But Patrick doesn’t want to get together with anyone and Marnie is still planning to marry the guy in Florida. Watching their friendship grow over time is really sweet. Marnie makes a lot of really stupid mistakes in this novel (including HIDING from her new fiance that her EX-HUSBAND has been crashing at Blix’s house and won’t leave). But overall, it’s a pretty cute story and let me tell you, it is the perfect thing to finish on a 6-hour flight.