Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Katherine Center Does It Again With Another Warm, Engaging Romance

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

You probably thought you were done with BBB book reviews until 2020.  No such luck!  I stayed up way too late last night/this morning to finish How to Walk Away by Katherine Center.  Her newest, Things You Save in a Fire, was one of my favorite reads of 2019, so now I'm reading her backlist.  Isn't it great when you find a new author to love and they've got a bunch of already-written books for you to explore?  

How to Walk Away concerns Margaret Jacobsen, a 28-year-old Texan on the cusp of making all her dreams come true.  With the ink still drying on her shiny new MBA, she's poised to land a dream job.  She's purchased a new condo and is waiting patiently for the marriage proposal she knows is coming from her boyfriend, Chip.  Then, irony of ironies, the woman who hates to fly is involved in a small plane crash that leaves her with third-degree burns on her upper body and paralysis below the knees.  Devastated, but determined, she plans to make a quick recovery, then resume the life-of-dreams she knows is still possible.

As Margaret struggles with treatments, especially physical therapy under the merciless hand of Ian Moffat, she's plagued by feelings of doubt, depression, and grief.  While everything in her perfect Before life slowly falls apart, leaving only her bleak Now, Margaret can't even think about how things might look After.  Soon, the only bright spots in her day are visits from her long-estranged sister and her Scottish PT who never cracks a smile.  As the weeks wear on, Margaret starts to understand that she may never walk again.  Also that her crush on Ian remains quite unrequited.  With nothing else to look forward to in life, what is Margaret going to do?  Is hope another Before thing that has deserted Margaret?  Will she find something to live for or will she keep her date with her suicide calendar?

Despite its grim subject matter, How to Walk Away is actually a warm, humorous, upbeat book.  Margaret's voice is engaging, even while she deals with the terror of her new normal.  She's self-deprecating and funny, but also brave, loyal, and resolute.  It's impossible not to root for her.  The love story at the center of the novel is sweet.  With its themes of appreciating what you can do, serving others as a way to steer your focus away from yourself, and looking to the future—however bleak it might seem—with hope and courage, How to Walk Away is an empowering novel that's entertaining, fun, and moving.  I loved it.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

2019: A Year of Reading, By the Numbers


Total Books Read:  168 (19 more than last year; 18 fewer than my highest of 186 in 2011; 53 more than my lowest of 115 in 2008)

Number of fiction books read:  162 (96%) 
Number of non-fiction books read:  6 (4%)
Number of adult books read:  129 (77%)
Number of young adult books read:  28 (17%)
Number of middle grade/chapter books read:  11 (7%)
Number of books by female authors:  143 (85%) 
Number of books by male authors:  21 (13%)
Number of books by multiple authors, female and male:  4 (2%)
Number of books by Latter-day Saint authors:  13 (8%)
Number of books read, personal collection:  44 (26%)
Number of books read, review copies:  77 (46%)
Number of books read, borrowed from the library:  47 (28%)
Number of reading challenges joined:  5
Number of reading challenges completed:  1 (although I got closer than I ever have on reading a book from every state + Washington, D.C.)

Speaking of tracking where the books I read are set, here are the Top 3 states and the Top 3 countries I "visited" most this year:

1.  Washington and Florida - tie (8), last year was New York (9)
2.  New York and Ohio - tie (7), last year was California (7)
3.  California and Texas - tie (6), last year was Massachusetts (5) -- Exciting update!  I finished a Texas book early this morning, so Texas beats out California to make a triple-way tie between it, New York, and Ohio, leaving California by itself in 3rd place.

1.  The United States (110 + some that were in U.S. but didn't specify a state)
2.  England (17)
3.  Canada (7)

How did your reading year turn out?

Just for my records, these are the books I read in 2019:

168. HOW TO WALK AWAY BY KATHERINE CENTER (DEC)
167. THE DEAD GIRL IN 2A BY CARTER WILSON (DEC)
166. FRANKLY IN LOVE BY DAVID YOON* (DEC)
165. ON THE COME UP BY ANGIE THOMAS (DEC)
164. HEROINE BY MINDY MCGINNIS (DEC)
163. DOG DRIVEN BY TERRY LYNN JOHNSON (DEC)
162. I'M NOT DYING FOR YOU TONIGHT BY KIMBERLY JONES AND GILLY SEGAL* (DEC)
161. SLAY BY BRITTNEY MORRIS (DEC)
160. WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH BY ELIZABETH ACEVEDO* (DEC)
159. PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING BY RANDY RIBAY (DEC)
158. EVEN IF I FALL BY ABIGAIL JOHNSON (DEC)
157. THE WILD LANDS BY PAUL GRECI (DEC)
156. DON'T DATE ROSA SANTOS BY NINA MORENA (DEC)
155. LET'S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY BY NATALIE C. ANDERSON* (DEC)
154. ISLAND BY PATRICK DOWNES (DEC)
153. THE STARLIGHT CLAIM BY TIM WYNN-JONES (DEC)
152. ONLY A BREATH APART BY KATIE MCGARRY (NOV)
151. THE LAST AFFAIR BY MARGOT HUNT (NOV)
150. DEATH AT FIRST SIGHT BY LENA GREGORY (NOV)
149. DAY ZERO BY KELLY DEVOS (NOV)
148. FORWARD ME BACK TO YOU BY MITALI PERKINS (NOV)
147. THE PAINTED CASTLE BY KRISTY CAMBRON (NOV)
146. SMOKE SCREEN BY TERRI BLACKSTOCK (NOV)
145. SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS BY JESSIE ANN FOLEY* (NOV)
144. THE BEAUTY OF THE MOMENT BY TANAZ BHATHENA (NOV)
143. MURDER LO MEIN BY VIVIEN CHIEN (NOV)
142. SCARS LIKE WINGS BY ERIN STEWART (NOV)
141. THE ODDS OF YOU AND ME BY CECILIA GALANTE (NOV)
140. A DIFFERENT KIND OF STRONG BY DANIEL L. TROTTER (NOV)
139. SOMEWHERE OUT THERE BY AMY HATVANY (NOV)
138. BEYOND A REASONABLE STOUT BY ELLIE ALEXANDER (OCT)
137. SAFE WITH ME BY AMY HATVANY (OCT)
136. THE BRIGHT UNKNOWN BY ELIZABETH BYLER YOUNTS* (OCT)
135. BEFORE THE DEVIL FELL BY NEIL OLSON (OCT)
134. THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE BY RUTA SEPETYS* (OCT)
133. THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS BY LISA JEWELL (OCT)
132. COLOR ME IN BY NATASHA DIAZ (OCT)
131. HOPE'S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN BY MISTY M. BELLER (OCT)
130. HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET BY JAMIE FORD (OCT)
129. CRUEL ACTS BY JANE CASEY (OCT)
128. ONE NIGHT GONE BY TARA LASKOWSKI (OCT)
127. THE WORLD ENDS IN APRIL BY STACY MCANULTY* (OCT)
126. A PROMISE TO BREAK BY KATHRYN SPURGEON (OCT)
125. A GIRL NAMED ANNA BY LIZZY BARBER (SEP)
124. THE PATRON SAINT OF BUTTERFLIES BY CECILIA GALANTE (SEP)
123. BREAKING WILD BY DIANE LES BECQUETS (SEP)
122. INVISIBLE AS AIR BY ZOE FISHMAN (SEP)
121. THE PASSENGERS BY JOHN MARRS (SEP)
120. THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER BY KATHLEEN KENT (SEP)
119. THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE BY KATHERINE CENTER* (SEP)
118. WILDER GIRLS BY RORY POWER (SEP)
117. STRANDS OF TRUTH BY COLLEEN COBLE (SEP)
116. IRISH STEWED BY KYLIE LOGAN (SEP)
115. THE LOVELY AND THE LOST BY JENNIFER LYNN BARNES (SEP)
114. THE COLD WAY HOME BY JULIA KELLER* (AUG)
113. THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL BY STACEY LEE* (AUG)
112. THE CHOCOLATE MAKER'S WIFE BY KAREN BROOKS (AUG)
111. THE PERFECT SON BY LAUREN NORTH (AUG)
110. THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS BY JOANNA GOODMAN (AUG)
109. THE BUNGALOW BY SARAH JIO (AUG)
108. CHANGELING BY WILLIAM RITTER (AUG)
107. THE LAST RESORT BY MARISSA STAPLEY (AUG)
106. HOUSE OF ECHOES BY BRENDAN DUFFY (AUG)
105. MAGIC HOUR BY KRISTIN HANNAH (AUG)
104. NO OCEAN TOO WIDE BY CARRIE TURANSKY (JUL)
103. WHEREVER SHE GOES BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG (JUL)
102. BURIED LEADS BY LYNDEE WALKER (JUL)
101. OPEN HOUSE BY ELIZABETH BERG (JUL)
100. STORM BLOWN BY NICK COURAGE (JUL)
99. THE RECKONING BY JOHN GRISHAM (JUL)
98. FRONT PAGE FATALITY BY LYNDEE WALKER* (JUL)
97. THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL BY ABBI WAXMAN* (JUL)
96. THE NANNY BY GILLY MACMILLAN (JUL)
95. STONE MOTHERS BY ERIN KELLY (JUL)
94. BECAUSE OF THE RABBIT BY CYNTHIA LORD (JUN)
93. THE BOOKSHOP ON THE SHORE BY JENNY COLGAN* (JUN)
92. HER MOTHER'S DAUGHTER BY DANIELA PETROVA (JUN)
91. THE GIRLS OF AUGUST BY ANNE RIVERS SIDDONS (JUN)
90. THE STRANGER DIARIES BY ELLY GRIFFITHS* (JUN)
89. DAISIES AND DEVOTION BY JOSI S. KILPACK (JUN)
88. NATALIE TAN'S BOOK OF LUCK & FORTUNE BY ROSELLE LIM (JUN)
87. AFTER THE LIGHTS GO OUT BY LILI WILKINSON (JUN)
86. THE SPIES OF SHILLING LANE BY JENNIFER RYAN* (JUN)
85. IF ONLY I COULD TELL YOU BY HANNAH BECKERMAN (JUN)
84. MY SISTER'S GRAVE BY ROBERT DUGONI (JUN)
83. A FAMILY OF STRANGERS BY EMILIE RICHARDS (JUN)
82. SUMMIT LAKE BY CHARLIE DONLEA (JUN)
81. LADY IN THE LAKE BY LAURA LIPPMAN (MAY)
80. EDUCATED BY TARA WESTOVER (MAY)
79. RIVER BODIES BY KAREN KATCHUR (MAY)
78. THE PUMPKIN WAR BY CATHLEEN YOUNG (MAY)
77. TOMORROW'S BREAD BY ANNA JEAN MAYHEW (MAY)
76. DEAR MRS. BIRD BY A.J. PEARCE* (MAY)
75. RESEARCH LIKE A PRO BY DIANA ELDER, AG (MAY)
74. MIRACLE CREEK BY ANGIE KIM (MAY)
73. I'LL NEVER TELL BY CATHERINE MCKENZIE (MAY)
72. INVISIBLE HEROES OF WORLD WAR II BY JERRY BORROWMAN (MAY)
71. MAYHEM AT THE ORIENT EXPRESS BY KYLIE LOGAN (MAY)
70. THE TURN OF THE KEY BY RUTH WARE (MAY)
69. THE LAST BY HANNA JAMESON (MAY)
68. THE WIDOW OF PALE HARBOR BY HESTER FOX (APR)
67. THE SCENT OF MURDER BY KYLIE LOGAN (APR)
66. THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE BY MARIAH STEWART (APR)
65. THE MISSING YEARS BY LEXIE ELLIOTT (APR)
64. DIM SUM OF ALL FEARS BY VIVIEN CHIEN (APR)
63. WHAT THE DEAD KNOW BY LAURA LIPPMAN (APR)
62. HATTIE EVER AFTER BY KIRBY LARSON (APR)
61. THE LONG WAY HOME BY LOUISE PENNY* (APR)
60. HEARTS OF THE MISSING BY CAROL POTENZA (APR)
59. IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TRUE BY SUSAN KAPLAN CARLTON (APR)
58. THE WOMAN IN THE WHITE KIMONO BY ANA JOHNS (APR)
57. LITTLE LOVELY THINGS BY MAUREEN JOYCE CONNOLLY (APR)
56. THE ISLAND OF SEA WOMEN BY LISA SEE* (APR)
55. HATTIE BIG SKY BY KIRBY LARSON* [RE-READ] (APR)
54. BEYOND THE POINT BY CLAIRE GIBSON (APR)
53. WHO MOVED MY GOAT CHEESE? BY LYNN CAHOON (APR)
52. A DANGEROUS COLLABORATION BY DEANNA RAYBOURN* (APR)
51. THE SCHOLAR BY DERVLA MCTIERNAN (APR)
50. SEVEN AT SEA BY ERIK AND EMILY ORTON (MAR)
49. WOMAN 99 BY GREER MACALLISTER (MAR)
48. THE WILD INSIDE BY JAMEY BRADBURY (MAR)
47. THE MISSING PLACE BY SOPHIE LITTLEFIELD (MAR)
46. THE LAST HOUSE GUEST BY MEGAN MIRANDA (MAR)
45. THE LOST MAN BY JANE HARPER* (MAR)
44. MOLOKA'I BY ALAN BRENNERT* [RE-READ] (MAR)
43. IN ANOTHER LIFE BY C.C. HUNTER (MAR)
42. A MONSTER LIKE ME BY WENDY S. SWORE* (MAR)
41. I AM NOT ESTHER BY FLEUR BEALE (MAR)
40. THE UNSUNG HERO OF BIRDSONG, USA BY BRENDA WOODS (MAR)
39. WAITING FOR FITZ BY SPENCER HYDE (MAR)
38. THE LAST WOMAN IN THE FOREST BY DIANE LES BECQUETS (MAR)
37. WHERE THE FOREST MEETS THE STARS BY GLENDY VANDERAH (MAR)
36. WITHIN THESE LINES BY STEPHANIE MORRILL (MAR)
35. MURDER ONCE REMOVED BY S.C. PERKINS (MAR)
34. HEALING HEARTS BY SARAH M. EDEN (MAR)
33. THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC BY AMANDA RAWSON HILL (MAR)
32. THE SHERIFFS OF SAVAGE WELLS BY SARAH M. EDEN (FEB)
31. THE NIGHT VISITORS BY CAROL GOODMAN (FEB)
30. THE SISTERS HEMINGWAY BY ANNIE ENGLAND NOBLIN (FEB)
29. THE SUSPECT BY FIONA BARTON (FEB)
28. LITTLE BIG LOVE BY KATY REGAN* (FEB)
27. JUST IN TIME: THE RESCUE BEGINS IN DELAWARE BY CHERI PRAY EARL AND CAROL LYNCH WILLIAMS (FEB)
26. THE QUINTLAND SISTERS BY SHELLEY WOOD (FEB)
25. SONG FOR A WHALE BY LYNNE KELLY (FEB)
24. THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF RACHEL DUPREE BY ANN WEISGARBER (FEB)
23. DEATH BY DUMPLING BY VIVIEN CHIEN (FEB)
22. THE MILITARY WIFE BY LAURA TRENTHAM (FEB)
21. HOME FOR ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS BY JULIE KIBLER (FEB)
20. THE ORPHAN OF SALT WINDS BY ELIZABETH BROOKS (JAN)
19. THE GLOVEMAKER BY ANN WEISBARGER (JAN)
18. NEVER HAVE I EVER BY JOSHILYN JACKSON (JAN)
17. THE EULOGIST BY TERRY GAMBLE (JAN)
16. INHERITANCE BY DANI SHAPIRO (JAN)
15. MURDER MADE TO ORDER BY LENA GREGORY (JAN)
14. SISTERS OF SHILOH BY KATHY AND BECKY HEPINSTALL (JAN)
13. NO EXIT BY TAYLOR ADAMS (JAN)
12. UNTIL THE DAY I DIE BY EMILY CARPENTER (JAN)
11. SCONE COLD KILLER BY LENA GREGORY (JAN)
10. THE LIAR'S ROOM BY SIMON LELIC (JAN)
9. IN DOG WE TRUST BY BETH KENDRICK (JAN)
8. THE WIDOWS BY JESS MONTGOMERY* (JAN)
7. BETWEEN, GEORGIA BY JOSHILYN JACKSON (JAN)
6. ON THE SAME PAGE BY N.D. GALLAND (JAN)
5. THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR BY SUSAN MEISSNER (JAN)
4. THE AU PAIR BY EMMA ROUS (JAN)
3. TO BE HONEST BY MAGGIE ANN MARTIN (JAN)
2. SOMETHING IN THE WATER BY CATHERINE STEADMAN (JAN)
1. THE GOWN BY JENNIFER ROBSON (JAN)
Blog Widget by LinkWithin