Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world—a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.
Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.
This is the February selection for Reese's Book Club- and one thing I love about book clubs is that books pop up that I might not have found on my own, but which I end up absolutely loving. This is one of those books. I think it comes down to one simple fact- and that is the existance of everyday magic.
At the outset of the book Emmeline lives on the island with just her father and a machine that captures scents on paper that can be bottled up and opened later, a poloraid of smells. Emmeline believes in that magic, until it's shattered, both figeratively and literally and then Emmeline has to find a new way to exist in a world that she has been kept outside of for her whole life.
As the book unfolds we find this uneasy balance of reality and magic as Emmeline first moves to Secret Cove where she finds a family that loves and supports her, and then later realizes that even that can be shattered. Again, Emmeline goes out looking for answers and discovers her mother, who she long believed didn't exist, and with her mother discovers some hard truths about who her family really is. Throughout Emmeline tries to hold tight to who she is and navigate a world that is foreign to her.
What I appreciate most about this book is that Bauermeister doesn't shy away from the hard truths. That even in the presence of magical things, there is also evil. Emmeline's first real friend Fisher lives with his abusive father and a mother who won't ever leave. Fisher learns to read people the way Emmeline reads smells and lives a life where he is always on the edge. This is real life and Bauermeister doesn't hide the damage that living in an abusive home does. Fisher, like Emmeline, is trying to figure out who he is and where he fits in and how he can survive. With Emmeline he finally feels a moment of peace and he spends time oth trying to hold on to that and running away. That the story gives both Emmeline and Fisher time and space to figure their lives out is a great thing that we don't often see in books.
In the end Bauermeister gives us the story we need and not neccesarily the one we want. I was invested in Fisher and Emmeline and wanted to follow them on their happy ever after. The books ends before that, leaving us with the promise of a future for them and the hope that they will face a world full of both evil and magic together and come out the other side okay.
After her father’s accident, Corrie Lancaster moves back to the family farm just in time to help with the harvest. With a bumper crop of wheat waiting, the farm’s only hired hand quits, leaving Corrie with no choice but to accept the help of her old boyfriend’s older brother, Aaron Tuttle. It seems like the perfect plan until Corrie realizes ex-flame Luke isn’t over her. But even with Luke’s apologies and attempts to rekindle their romance, Corrie can’t forget his past betrayal.
Between harvesting, keeping tabs on her younger siblings, and watching her parents’ marriage crumble, Corrie leans on Aaron for emotional support. Wading through jealousy was never on Corrie’s to-do list, but as she navigates the choppy waters, she finds herself falling for Aaron’s good looks and charming wit.
Just when Corrie thinks she has everything under control, a stranger seeking shelter comes to the farm, and an old nemesis returns for revenge. As destructive forces align against her, Corrie must decide which man’s love will bring her back to life and restore her faith in herself, her family, and her purpose.
First off- Happy Book Birthday to Jessica Berg! This book comes out today and the lovely author sent me a review copy to read ahead of it's release. Initially I was unsure whether or not I was the right audience for this story. Let me explain... I could tell from the title and synopsis that this book would have some religious ties. This was confirmed when I started reading. I happen to be an athiest and I'm always aware how my personal biases might influence not just how I read a book, but how I review it. Still, I chose to read and review Amber Waves of Grace because a good story is a good story regardless, and reading a book from a different perspective then your own should help open your mind and understand the other side better, I'm happy to report that this one did! While it was certainly out of my normal wheel house, I really enjoyed the stories and the relationships that Berg presented in this story.
At it's heart this is a story about people trying to figure out who they are and what they want, which could get boring, however Berg sprinkles in just the right amount of mystery and intrigue to keep the story moving. The main character Corrie is a girl after my own heart, my grandparents owned a farm and I worked training horses for several years, and Corrie is definitely a farm girl right down to her "I can do it myself" attitude and penchant for a hard working farm boy to spend spend her time with. Without giving anything away, Corrie also comes with some baggage from years before and is forced to confront her past and her future when she has to take over the family farm and accept help from the one family she's tried to seperate herself from. Watching Corrie try to figure out what she wants and how to get it is a great story.
The b plot to this book revolves around a young lady, Violet, who ends up at the farm quite by accident, but who brings with her baggage of her own, namely a pregnancy and an ex-fiance that's bent on revenge. At points it was hard to follow the timeline, but ultimately the story of Violet also figuring out what she wants in life brings in a storyline that both parallels Corrie's and helps Corrie figure out what is really important in life.
In the end what I really appreciated about this story is what it has to say about family and what you can endure if you have family by your side. For Corrie it provides an anchor to build a life around, and for Violet, a second chance at happiness. Yes, there is also romance, but for me the heart of the story was about who you choose to make a family with and how that can help you become who you are truly meant to be.
Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
A few weeks ago a friend told me about Reese's Book Club and I realized that I missed being part of a book club, so I thought I would check it out. Which is how I ended up with Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reed. Admittedly, I do not read a lot of books outside the YA genre, this happens when you are a middle school librarian who loves all the drama and shenanigans that often come with that age group. In short- I'm great with Middle Grade and YA, but when it comes to finding other books, I definitely need a hand finding good ones, which is why Reese's Book Club was so appealing.
I was really happy with this first book. At the outset I wasn't sure where the story was going or what to expect. Was it a story about a girl trying to find herself and her purpose? Or was it about a women learning to let go and discover what would truly make her happy? Was it about media consumption and the way we judge people based on the tiny fraction of their lives we see online? Or, was it a book that was going to delve into race relationships? The answer was deceptively simple. It was yes. Yes, it was all those things, and Reid manages to weave them all together masterfully.
As always I'm going to be vague so as not to spoil the story. Reid creates 2 characters in Alix and Emira that are well rounded and are searching for something that will make their lives feel more complete. Both of these characters are flawed, they face struggles and make some horrible decisions. They both also have good friends and as much as I don't understand a character like Alix, I can appreciate the fact that she is trying to do what she believes is best.
The parts of the book I liked the most, and which made me most uncomfortable, were those that dealt with media consumption and race. These are two topics that don't often get dealt an even hand in fiction because they are so hard to write about in a way that is both reflective and entertaining. I think Reid did a great job here. As I read the book I found myself reflecting on what I post online, what persona people are putting out there, and what I would have done if I was in Emira's position. I also took a hard look at my own actions and relationships to compare against Alix. She is objectively behaving horribly at certain points, but would I have acted any differently if I was in her shoes?
It's a rare book that manages to make the reader reflect on their own actions and life, and can still deliver an interesting story. This was a great introduction to both Reid and Reese's Book Club.
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