Book Review: And All the Phases of the Moon

Title: And All the Phases of the Moon
Author: Judy Reene Singer
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre(s): Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Pages: 320
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible

and all the phases of the moon

Book Blurb:

Delving into the mysteries of the human heart with humor and emotion, master storyteller Judy Reene Singer explores what it means to begin again after a life touched by tragedy . . .

Aila Cordeiro absolutely cannot take on an abandoned pit bull. So why is she suddenly filling food bowls for the wounded stray and opening her seaside home to him? Maybe it’s the sadness in the pup’s eyes, a sorrow that mirrors her own. But caring for another is not on Aila’s agenda anymore. As the sole owner of the general store in a Cape Cod tourist town, she has enough on her hands. Besides Aila can’t love anyone ever again. Not since her husband–her heart–boarded a boat with her beloved father two years ago, never to return . . .

Of course, life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Now instead of solitude and grief, Aila is suddenly at the center of controversy in the small town. And the only person on her side, besides her best friend, is a stranger whose heart might be more battered than her own. Ex-Navy seal Sam Ahmadi has seen his share of misfortune, which is why Aila never expects him to be the one to show her how to live again in the face of shattering loss. How to hope for the happiness you once dreamed of . . .

“Page-turning, beautifully written . . .”
Library Journal on In the Shadow of Alabama, STARRED REVIEW

My Thoughts:

This was a really compelling and powerful story about love, loss, prejudice, hatred, and the healing power of friendship. It’s centered around Aila, a young widow living in a small coastal town on the edge of Cape Cod. Two years ago, her husband and father both died in a storm at sea, leaving her alone to manage the family store and care for her ailing mother, who is now living in a home with Alzheimers. Stricken with grief, Aila relies on familiarity and routine to make it through each day. Until one day, she finds an abandoned pit bull waiting outside her store and makes the reluctant decision to take him in, at least temporarily.

Not long after, Aila is walking her dog along the beach when she stumbles upon Sam, an ex-Navy Seal, wrapped up in a blanket and sleeping on the pier. Sam is also reeling from a recent tragedy and the two of them become cautious friends, slowly helping each other heal from their painful pasts. But then a chance encounter leads to false accusations and before they know it, Aila and Sam are in the midst of a controversy pitting neighbor against neighbor in their small community.

I really enjoyed a lot of things about this book. It was heartwarming and charming with the perfect blend of humor and sincerity. The plot is well-developed and timely; parts of it felt like they could have been taken right out of today’s headlines. However, despite addressing several heavy topics, the author somehow managed to keep it uplifting and cheerful.

On the negative side, I found the author’s prose to be fairly sophomoric, lacking the polished nuance of a more seasoned writer. I kept thinking of that ever popular writing commandment: “Show, don’t tell”. Rather than “showing” the readers what Aila or Sam were feeling, through descriptive text and context clues, the author spelled it out for us. She also used a lot of unnecessary repetition, repeating entire statements (explanations) almost word for word a little later on. I know it sounds petty, but for some reason the clunky writing style really stood out to me, even though I enjoyed the book as a whole. I actually looked to see if it was translated from a different language, as a possible explanation, but that wasn’t the case.

Overall, I enjoyed reading All the Phases of the Moon and would recommend it to anyone looking for a light-hearted and moving summer read. With a good editor and a little polishing, this book could have been transformed from something good to something really great. As it stands, I’m giving it 3.5/5 stars.

star redstar redstar redstar halfstar clear

Thank you to Kensington Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

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