Two If By Sea by Jacquelyn Mitchard

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Two If By Sea will be published March 15, 2016 by Simon & Schuster.

This book was intriguing, and while it kept my interest for the most part, at times I almost gave up on finishing it. In the end, I’m glad I finished it, but at times I wasn’t sure where the story line was going as the plot went through some very slow periods. The premise of the story is a bit haunting, and the characters surely make a lasting impression on the reader, with their unique abilities and personalities.

The story begins on Christmas day in Brisbane, Australia, with former police officer turned horse trainer, Frank Mercy, stepping out onto his patio in the middle of the night just before a tsunami crashes the coastline, killing his young wife Natalie, their unborn son, and Natalie’s entire family in one fell swoop. A grieving, and mostly in shock, Frank joins his fellow volunteer rescuers, working nonstop to try to save others, even though he wasn’t there to save his own family. He stumbles upon a van, just about to be swallowed up by water, where he saves a young boy. Something about the boy flips a switch in Frank, and he decides that he will do anything to keep the boy safe.

Instead of taking the boy to the Red Cross station, Frank decides to go against the law (even as a former police officer), asking a friend to forge travel documents so that he can leave with the child, to move back to his family horse farm in Wisconsin. Though nervous that he could be caught, Frank is happy with the young boy and the boy seems happy to be with Frank, living at the family farm with Frank and his mother Hope, and helping Frank with chores. Then, strange events start to happen, and Frank suspects there is a group trying to find the boy, Ian, because of his unique abilities. Frank has already realized by this point that Ian has a telepathic gift which allows him to influence other’s actions and steer them in a positive direction.

To thicken the plot a bit, along comes Claudia, a young psychiatrist and horse jockey who catches Frank’s eye. And, it turns out that Ian does have a bit of family alive back in Australia, which makes things interesting as well. You’ll have to read it to find out what else happens, because I will not give away any spoilers.

Like I mentioned, there were times when I wasn’t sure how the author was going to really finish this story, and I wondered what kind of outcome I would prefer for closure sake. I did enjoy the book, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. I didn’t really like the ending. I think it was too happy of an ending for such a dramatic book. Fans of Oprah’s Book Club picks would surely enjoy this book. The book has family drama, romance, a bit of comedy, and suspense at times, which is appealing for a wide range of fiction readers. Give it a try. Let me know what you think!

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Circling the Sun by Paula McClain

Circling the Sun is a historical fiction account of the life of Beryl Markham, with much of the story line based on true events. The setting is early 1920’s Africa, namely the various colonies of Kenya.

I loved this book so much! I really enjoyed reading about Beryl’s story and would loved to have known her during her lifetime. The author’s notes at the end of the book provided much insight into the life of the real Beryl Markham. Beryl Markham is a strong female character who survived being attacked by a lion as a child, being abandoned by her mother at the age of four, and living a childhood running free with the native people of Kenya. That is when she became best friends with Ruta, who would be by her side for her whole life no matter what wild scheme she would decide to pursue, such as when she decided to stop being a race horse trainer to become the first female bush pilot in Africa. She was widely known for her success as a young female trainer during a time when only men would train horses. But Beryl was determined to follow her dreams and she worked hard for the success. Her personal life and relationships with men over her life were quite fascinating. Some relationships were forged out of necessity, others out of indebtedness, and only one of true love with Denys Finch Hatton, a well known hunting guide and pilot. I would love to learn more about Beryl, and I appreciated the author’s resource list for further information, including a book written by Beryl herself. If you like adventure, romance, historical fiction, or just a good read, this is the book for you!