Review: Simply West of Heaven


Simply-West-of-Heaven-cover-200x300Title: Simply West of Heaven
Author: Monique Bucheger
Publisher: True West Publishing
Release Date: January 2013
Length: 288 pages

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Twelve-year-old BFFs are matchmaking geniuses. They schemed to get Ginnie’s widowed dad to fall in love with Tillie’s divorced mom. Then Ginnie stumbled upon her late mom’s journals, making life totally awesome sauce … until her dad confiscated the journals.

Ginnie is counting on Tillie’s help to make Dad change his mind, but Tillie’s not sure the ghost of Ginnie’s mom will make a good addition to their new family tree. When a blast from the past shows up and makes Tillie go nutburgers, Ginnie is torn between helping her BFF and having her questions answered.

***** Review ******

This is the 3rd book in the Ginnie West Adventures series. You can read my reviews of the first two books here and here.

Ginnie sighed again. As much as she wanted those words to be true, she knew nobody really understood that when Dad took the journals, he ripped a gaping hole in her heart.

This installment in the Ginnie West Adventures focuses primarily on Ginnie, with some side spotlight on Tillie and Toran. With all the hoopla of Ginnie discovering their mother’s journals and Todd taking them away, Toran is a little on edge…but Ginnie is totally overboard. She yearns to know her mother through her written words, and she can’t see any reason as a good reason why Todd would take them away.

Even though Ginnie knew her mother and Miss Amanda had met a few times, it was still weird to think her mother and probably future step-mom had known each other.

That reasons shows up in the flesh on the West doorstep. It’s like seeing a ghost for many, including Uncle Ben’s children Vi and Buzz. It causes a major upset, most of all between Ginnie and her dad when he arrives home with Toran. Ginnie wants her mother back, in any form she can get her, and that knowledge causes Tillie to seriously question how she and her mother will fit in the picture of the West family…or if they still do.

Tillie’s fears are valid in her mind, because Ginnie is on that dangerous precipice of wanting the past and having to live in the present.

Dad smiled and offered Miss Amanda his arm. Trying to imagine Mama on Dad’s arm, and not being able to, tugged at Ginnie a little. She signed, torn between wanting Dad and Miss Amanda to get together and wishing Mama could be here as well.

To add fuel to the fire, Ginnie is roped into keeping a secret. She overhears a conversation late one night between Uncle Jake and her dad…and get stuck in the misery of keeping it, from Tillie and Toran. She is torn, and more than once is clustered behind closed doors with her father and Uncle Jake. She’s between a rock and a hard spot. Uncle Jake is almost to the point of raving (quite understandably) and even though Todd is his younger brother, he pushes Jake to buck up and take charge.

“And why did she have to be a girl? I don’t know anything about girls. Wests make boys. Maybe she’s not mine after all.”

Ginnie clamped her hand over her mouth, wanting to protest.

Dad spoke up. “So what’s Ginnie? Chopped liver? And Vi? Uncle Ben and I figured out how to make girls, the first time out. That excuse doesn’t wash. Next.

Go, Daddy!

Uncle Jake’s secret is like a haunting from the past, and Tillie and Ginnie are the spearheads to help him keep it together, right behind Todd, who is insistent Jake take care of his business. The girls learn about Uncle Jake’s life before Ginnie’s mom and Aunt Sadie died, and the impact both of their deaths had on Jake. The care-free, light-hearted man they know as Uncle Jake has his own moments of pain that he hides.

“You know – life’s uncertain. Eat dessert first.”

Tillie’s mouth dropped open. “For real?”

Ginnie laughed at her friend. “Of course. that’s the cool thing about Uncle Jake being in charge. Banana splits for dinner. Bananas, strawberries, and pineapple are fruit, ice cream is milk, and chocolate comes from cocoa beans. Three food groups right there.”

Uncle Jake hitched a thumb at Ginnie and grinned. “You’re my kind of girl.”

After all of these “secrets” keep being revealed and Toran is the last to know, he is quite hurt that his sister – his twin – would keep these things from him. It causes a bit of tension between the two that must be overcome when Ginnie really needs Toran’s help – for Tillie’s sake.

She froze, horrified at her next thoughts. Will that Cabot guy make D.T. not marry Mom? Does Uncle Ben know? Can Uncle Ben fix it?

Tillie does indeed go nutburgers, and needs the love and support of not only Ginnie and Toran, but the whole West family. I loved that at the first sign of a problem, her thoughts immediately went to Uncle Ben. He is the patriarch of the family, a man of strong moral character and faith in people. Tillie’s thoughts speak highly of the man Uncle Ben is and the importance he plays in the lives of the Wests.

***** About the Author *****

Author-picture-Monique-196x300When Monique Bucheger isn’t writing, you can find her playing taxi driver to one or more of her 12 children, plotting her next novel, scrapbooking, or being the “Mamarazzi” at any number of child-oriented events. Even though she realizes there will never be enough hours in any given day, Monique tries very hard to enjoy the journey that is her life. She shares it with a terrific husband, her dozen children, sons-in-law, and adorable grandchildren, cats, and many real and imaginary friends. She is the author of the Ginnie West Adventuresseries, picture book, Popcorn, and plans to write plenty more.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** About the Illustrator *****

MIKEYS-PHOTO-209x300Mikey Brooks is an author/illustrator that specializes in children’s art. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie and Bean’s Dragons. He is the illustrator of several picture books such as Popcorn by Monique Bucheger, Bongo Flo by Carolyn Quist, andLucius and the Christmas Star by Jim Long. He is the author of The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis, The Stone of Valhalla the best-selling middle-grade series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. You can find more about him and his books at:

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