Shakespeare had said ‘What’s in a name’. I say – a lot, especially when it comes to a book from an author you have not heard of.
I stumbled across Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes when I was looking through free books on iTunes. I had not heard the author’s name before, there was nothing special about the cover but the name caught my attention. Needless to say I downloaded it right away.
Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes is the first book of the Rose Gardener series. Rose Gardener is a timid young girl, who lives in a sleepy little town and has been bullied by her mother all her life. With a boring job and ordinary appearance Rose has a dull life, barring only one thing – she has the gift of sight. She has visions of future and more often than not it lands her in trouble. It is the story of how her life changes when one day she sees herself dead! Having lead a sheltered life and being the prime suspect for her mother’s murder puts Rose’s life in a mess. A hot neighbor and a crazy crime lord add to the chaos.
Why I waited until the last days of my life to feel pampered and beautiful. People tell themselves there’s plenty of time to do it all, but most of the time they never see death coming.
The book is very different from anything I have read before. It has mystery, drama, romance, comedy and decent measure of thrill towards the end. Denise Grover Swank is not a literary genius but her writing is fluent and fast paced. The story progresses with such slickness that you only look up once you reach the end. I enjoyed it so much that after reading the first book I went on to read the whole series:
Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons – Book #2
Thirty and a Half Excuses – Book #3
Falling to Pieces (Novella) – Book #3.5
Thirty-One and a Half Regrets – Book #4
Thirty-Two and a Half Complications-Book #5
Picking up the Pieces (Novella) – Book #5.5
Thirty-Three and a Half Shenanigans – Book #6
Ripple of Secrets (Novella) – Book #6.5
Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments – Book #7
Thirty-Five and a Half Conspiracies – Book #8
Thirty-Six and a Half Motives – Book #9
The 9 book series is Rose Gardener’s journey from being a nervous naive girl to a strong and brave woman. She blossoms with each adventure she undertakes and becomes more enterprising and independent than she could ever imagine. Though trouble follows her everywhere and things don’t always go as planned, Rose learns to use her gift to her advantage and is able to form lasting friendships along the way.
What’s wrong with being different? Sometimes it’s good to stand apart from everyone else.
The threats in the book are menacing and some of the people she has to deal with are hardened criminals. People are killed and harmed but the books maintain a light-hearted feel. Things do go wrong for Rose from time to time when she is beaten, betrayed, hurt and fought with, so its not all rosy rosy for the lead character. But she learns from her experiences, has a logical way to approach situations, stands up for what she feels is right, believes in second chances and will do anything to protect the people she loves – even if it means crossing over to the other side of law.
Rose starts the journey as a lonely bashful girl and by book 9 she evolves into a confident self-assured lady. Most readers will enjoy her transformation with each book. The books also get progressively mysterious when Rose’s mother and her past life come into the picture. There are some side stories too but nothing takes attention away from Rose for too long. The author has used funny phrases such as ‘crappy doodles’ and ‘stars and garters’ throughout the book. I wonder if there are people who actually use such phrases in everyday language. Some phrases and expressions have been used repeatedly. A little more creativity with words would have made the books more amazing.
The author has been able to sketch some fantastic characters, the one that stands out most is Rose’s best friend Neely Kate. She is sassy, smart and not to be messed with. She’s the best friend you wish to have yourself. Rose’s love interests change and have complex reasons for the way they are. Her relationship with her sister Violet goes through ups and downs most women will be able to relate with. I especially liked that the author has given much depth to all characters. There is a reason why a character is the way it is and the back story helps you understand each character’s quirks and demeanor better. Sometimes the story is realistic, sometimes it is not but it never fails to entertain. It is easy to fall in love with heart warming Rose and admire her strength. You feel a tremor yourself when she puts up a strong facade even though she’s scared to death. I also found myself holding my breath everytime Rose got into a predicament.
We can’t know everything,” I said quietly. “Sometimes we have to write our own future.
I finished reading the last book in the series yesterday and was bowled over by the way the series was wrapped up. There were a lot of secrets that were revealed, quite a few surprises and the excitement kept me on the edge throughout the second half. The author was able to get great momentum going in the last couple of books which lead to a grand climax. The built up and the finale were both very thrilling and I couldn’t put the book down. I was sad thinking its the last book in the series but much to my relief Denise Grover Swank is coming up with another series with the same characters – Family Jewels. There are still a couple of unanswered questions which I am sure will be unraveled in the new books. I can’t wait to read more about Rose, Neely Kate, Jed and Skeeter – all very interesting and endearing characters.
Do give it a try. The first book is free on iTunes anyway, but beware, it could be very addictive! 🙂
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