What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.

But she wasn’t always that way.

Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.

But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before―at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him―but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school―and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love―which is the riskiest move of all.

Review:

Thank you Katherine Center, St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This is my third Katherine Center novel and she is definitely an auto buy / request author for me. Her writing is always very good for me, and I’m always able to connect to her characters instantly.

However, this one wasn’t a home run for me as much as her other books. I struggled to read this story as well as connecting with the characters. I didn’t necessarily mind Sam but I had a hard time with Duncan which isn’t good since he was a main character.

I read How to Walk Away and Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. In these two books, the characters correlate, but are not listed in a series. As I’ve read from other reviews, apparently Duncan is the brother of Sam from Happiness For Beginners. I didn’t have any issues in her previous novels with reading them “out of order” but I’m not entirely sure if the circumstances are different with this one.

I will say that this story is truly about seeking happiness and joy in life. There is a lot going on in the world right now and this message about finding joy in the small things in life was actually very needed. I could appreciate that message coming from this book.

Overall, I love Katherine Center and I love her writing. I go to her when I need a good, heart-felt story with laughs and smiles. I did like the message behind this book, but it wasn’t my favorite book in the world with the characters and story. I will give Happiness for Beginners a try as well hopefully to learn more about who these characters are.

Favorite Reads of the Decade

2010-2019 really flew by, but had some truly amazing debuts for novels, authors, and now we all have our specific favorites! To see the book’s Goodreads page, please click on the picture. Here are my favorite reads of the decade:

Ain't He Precious? (Sex and Sweet Tea, #1)

The Sex & Sweet Tea Series by Juliette Poe
Ain’t He Precious (Book #1) Published: April 11, 2017

This is the pseudonym of popular romance author Sawyer Bennett. This series has five books and takes place in a little town of Whynot, North Carolina. Learning about all of the characters, who they are, who their siblings are, what’s happening around them and who they become in this books were absolutely astounding and I’d recommend this series to anyone who loves romance!
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Room by Emma Donoghue
Published: August 20, 2010

Obviously, this is a favorite for a lot of people. I loved the story, the writing and just the emotions that Room put me through. This book was made into a movie because of the attention that it received and Brie Larson did such a fantastic job portraying one of the main characters. If you haven’t yet, this is one of my favorite fiction reads and I’d recommend any adult to read it. The story is so moving and emotional.

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The Prenup by Lauren Layne
Published: July 11, 2019

The Prenup was the first Lauren Layne novel that I read. After I read this book, I began reading all of her books. I read I want to say… 6 of them back to back, whether in a series or not. Lauren has a spectacular writing style where you get sucked into the angst and romance that she delivers. Romance lovers, pick up Lauren Layne, you will not regret it!

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Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
Published: January 1, 2011

Skipping a Beat ripped my heart out of my chest. This book was so powerful and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The synopsis is enough to have you curious, but when you pick it up and read it, the unexpected things that happen make you cry uncontrollably. I love when a book can make me feel emotion like that and Skipping a Beat really gets you.

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No Exit by Taylor Adams
Published: June 25, 2017

When I picked up No Exit, it was after a bookish friend of mine told me that I needed to stop what I was doing and read it. She was very adamant that it wouldn’t take me more than a day to read and I held her to that. When I tell you I read this book in a few hours, I mean it. I couldn’t put it down and it turned out to be one of my favorites in the thriller/mystery category now.

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Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews
Published: June 5, 2012

When I found myself starting to enjoy reading, I was unsure of what genre I’d really get in to. I took a chance with the romance genre and thought that maybe I’d like it, but maybe not because sometimes I think it’s too far fetched. I picked this book up because a woman at the library recommended it to me after looking around for a little while. I wanted something romantic but with a good story. The first few sentences of this book really grabbed me to the point where I needed to know what was going to happen. After reading this, I went on to read most of Mary Kay Andrews’ books because she just has a way with words.

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From Italy with Love Series by Tilly Tennant
Rome is where the Heart is (Book #1) Published: March 9, 2017

If you are a fan of a romantic travel stories, read this series. The first book was adorable and the second book was even better. Tilly Tennant really transports you to Rome and shows the beautiful details about the city. It’s like you can close your eyes and you’re in Rome with the characters. This series hasn’t been read that much according to Goodreads, but I will say that you should really pick this up!

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Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
Published: August 5, 2014

Ugly Love was put in my top five books of all time. I read her book It’s Ends with Us and immediately was hooked. This book made me just speechless. The journey that Colleen Hoover takes us on throughout this novel is absolutely astonishing and you sit there hoping for the ending you want. You sit there and cry and laugh along with the beautifully developed characters and just wait for the best part. Here’s the catch – the whole book is the best part.

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Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Published: April 14, 2011

This book had a very, very lovable story. I love the premise because it is something I’ve never heard of before. It was extremely creative. I loved the characters especially. The friendships and how they withstand some weird things that go on take the priority in this book. Rainbow Rowell has written quite a bit of adult fiction, but writes young adult as well. I’d recommend Rainbow Rowell and her books to anyone!

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Red, White & Royal Blue
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston
Published: May 14, 2019

Okay, but Red, White & Royal Blue was a debut novel for Casey McQuiston in 2019. Casey  came out of absolutely nowhere with this beauty of a book and won two categories of the Goodreads Best of 2019 Awards! It really was a book that you would’ve never expected. The story was unlike any other young adult LGBTQ+ novel I’ve ever read. It was steamy, angsty, enemies-to-lovers and one of my favorite books not only of the year, but of all time.

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: May 17, 2016

The Problem with Forever was extremely emotional. The characters were written perfectly for the story. As an acknowledgement to group homes, these two main characters were portrayed in such a way that made me more curious about what they are like. It had me wondering about what group homes are really like and how they work. I would reread this 100 times over just for the characters.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Published: May 9, 2017

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Eleanor Oliphant’s quirkiness and awkwardness was funny and depressing at the same time. Her story, which you will read about because I don’t want to give any spoilers, was absolutely disturbing, but amazing to read. The struggles that she endures were so heartbreaking, but extremely realistic. Gail Honeyman really did a phenomenal job.

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Simon Snow Series by Rainbow Rowell
Carry On (Book #1) Published: October 6, 2015

Everything about this series is perfect. I didn’t want it to end. At all. When I closed the books, I definitely pouted for a good while. This is a fantasy genre which I never would’ve expected myself to like. I usually don’t even like it, but Carry On really was the exception. It’s pure magic and so was its sequel. The third and final book (as far as we know) in the series, Any Way the Wind Blows, will be out hopefully within the next year.

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published: August 9, 2016

The Hating Game was full of chemistry. Sally Thorne has this specific writing style that really makes you feel their chemistry and how well Lucy and Josh actually work together. Their friendship was angsty, and I am a sucker for some harsh love. Josh and Lucy are one of my favorite book couples of all time. There were so, so many things with this book that made me absolutely swoon.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published: February 28, 2017

Astonishing. Riveting. Shocking. Stunning. Breathtaking.

I took my time with this book because I am a very emotional person. If you are a very emotional person like me, I suggest that you have tissues ready because I’m not sure where there was a chapter where I didn’t at least tear up. I full on ugly cried through a few of them. There were so many different emotions displayed through this novel that I felt like I was losing someone myself. The author did a WONDERFUL job showing the seven stages of grief. Prepare yourself for the reality of this book and give it a read if you haven’t already.

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published: May 14, 2019

The Unhoneymooners was my third Christina Lauren book that I have read. After finishing this new release, I can surely say that the dynamic duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings is becoming one of my favorite authors. My favorite things in all of the books I’ve read by them is the fact that they write love so well. Do not wait to read this one.

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Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Published: February 6, 2018

Girl, Wash Your Face was the amazing debut novel of Rachel Hollis. This nonfiction was definitely unlike anything I had ever read before. The personal development and self-help in this book was outstanding to say the least. If you’re kind of in a rut or experiencing some doubt, I’d sincerely recommend this book and her other popular novel, Girl, Stop Apologizing.

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Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Published: July 18, 2017

This book definitely shows heartbreak. I resonate with these kind of books because I’ve seen love fall apart and mend back together. This book is so great because it would stand out to a lot of people for the same reason.  I could go on and on about the main character, Arthur Less. This was  wonderful to read. It was comforting because it shows that in the end, it will all work out the way that it is supposed to, not necessarily the way that you want it to.

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How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Published: May 15, 2018

When I started How to Walk Away, I was sucked right in. The characters were so wonderful to read. I felt like I was included in there and was watching everything unfold right in front of my eyes. I could really feel their pain and heartache and felt the inspiration that they all had to achieve their new goals after such a traumatic event. I was tearing up one second and busting out laughing the next. The writing was spectacular and I read Katherine Center’s newest book right after this one because I wanted to see how amazing both were. Katherine really, really has a way with words.

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Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
Published: December 10, 2019

Last but certainly not least. Regretting You was just… I feel almost speechless about it. I started it and from those first few sentences (as always), I was intrigued on how this story was going to turn out. I read and read until I finished it. Within hours. Simply because Colleen Hoover has a way with her words unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The tears that I had, the laughs I had, I felt like I was sharing my own little journey with the characters.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★★★

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture reader’s hearts with every page.

Review:

When I started How to Walk Away, I was sucked right in. I was recommended this novel by a bookish friend, and let me just say – I was not disappointed. This was a well deserved five-star rating for me.

This novel is about how fast things can change. In a split second, Margaret’s life was flipped upside down. It’s a journey about Margaret’s life in this novel and what she will do when helping herself. It’s a question of if she will fall with it or rise above it.

“They say your life flashes before your eyes, but it wasn’t my life as I’d lived it that I saw. It was the life I’d been waiting for. The one I’d never get a chance to live.” 

The characters were so wonderful to read. I felt like I was included in there and was watching everything unfold right in front of my eyes. I could really feel their pain and heartache and felt the inspiration that they all had to achieve their new goals after such a traumatic event.

I loved the story as well. I was tearing up one second and busting out laughing the next. The writing was spectacular and I read Katherine Center’s newest book right after this one because I wanted to see how amazing both were. Katherine really, really has a way with words.

The thing I appreciated the most was that I feel like Katherine Center didn’t try and romanticize a tragedy. There was a lot of emotions throughout this book and I didn’t feel like the romance aspect was overpowering in the slightest. I’m someone who loves a good romance novel, but I feel like this didn’t have that as its priority. This was a fantastic, empowering novel that I want to keep with me forever!

November 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 10
Avg. Rating of the 10 books: 3.8/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 2/10
*five star ratings are bold

  • Blurred Lines by Lauren Layne (Love Unexpectedly #1)
  • Good Girl by Lauren Layne (Love Unexpectedly #2)
  • Love Story by Lauren Layne (Love Unexpectedly #3)
  • To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #1)
  • For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #2)
  • To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #3)
  • Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
  • Well Met by Jen DeLuca (Well Met #1)
  • Day Zero by Kelly deVos (Day Zero Duology #1)
  • Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World by Richard Snow

 

I found a new love of Lauren Layne. If you are a romance lover, stop what you’re currently reading to pick up a Lauren Layne novel!

September 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 17
Avg. Rating of the 17 books: 3.82/5
Five Star Ratings: 5/17
*Five Star Rated Books are bold.

  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Shoulda Been a Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #0.5)
  • Part Time Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #1)
  • Brokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #2)
  • Bad News Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #3)
  • Hometown Heartbreaker by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #3.5)
  • One Night Charmer by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #4)
  • Tough Luck Hero by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #5)
  • Last Chance Rebel by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #6)
  • Slow Burn Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #7)
  • Down Home Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #8)
  • Wild Ride Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #9)
  • Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Copper Ridge #10)
  • You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
  • How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
  • Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks
  • Lock Every Door by Riley Sager