Cover Image: Watch Us Shine

Watch Us Shine

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Member Reviews

Watch Us Shine is an exquisite book detailing all kinds of relationships: sisters, friends, mothers & children, spouses, and more. It took me a bit to get into the story, but then I was hooked! de los Santos' writing of an abusive parent was extremely accurate -- both heartbreaking and healing!

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"Watch Us Shine" by Marisa de los Santos is an exquisitely written novel that shines with beauty and depth. The author weaves together the lives of the characters in a way that is both heartwarming and poignant. Each character's journey is intricately crafted, drawing the reader into their world and making them emotionally invested in their stories.

The novel explores themes of friendship, resilience, and the power of human connections. It delves into the complexities of life, touching on both joyous moments and heart-wrenching challenges. Marisa de los Santos' prose is lyrical and evocative, immersing readers in a rich and vivid tapestry of emotions.

The storytelling is masterful, with the narrative flowing seamlessly between past and present, bringing the characters' histories to the forefront, and adding depth to the overall tale. The novel's messages of hope, forgiveness, and the resilience of the human spirit are beautifully conveyed, leaving a lasting impact on the reader.

In "Watch Us Shine," Marisa de los Santos has crafted a captivating and soul-stirring novel that celebrates the intricacies of life, the power of friendship, and the beauty of second chances. It is a literary gem that will linger in your heart long after the final page is turned. I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to anyone seeking a profound and emotionally resonant reading experience.

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another lovely read by this author who knows how to pull the heartstrings. Great end to the series. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher!

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I love anything Marisa de los Santos writes. This wasn’t one of my favorites of hers, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s the story of two sisters who try to determine what happened to their mother in her early years. Beautiful story of sisterhood, the love we all share, and sacrifice. I would highly recommend it.

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Another beautiful, tender, richly crafted story from Marisa de los Santos. I want to be friends with her characters, and the writing makes me feel like I am, like I really, deeply know them.

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What a beautiful book! Following a traumatic event with her children, Cornelia's mother gets hit by a car while picking weeds. Cornelia rushes to be by her side and when her mother asks her to bring her the northern lights, Cornelia goes on a mission to find out what her mother means. First, Cornelia's narration is absolutely beautiful and magical. I loved her input. Second, Watch Us Shine is a lyrical book about relationships- mother and child, husband and wife, sisters. It was just amazing on so many levels and I'm glad I took the time to savor the read.

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When I first picked this book up, I had no idea that it was part of Marisa de los Santos’s popular series Love Walked In. This worried me initially, as I hadn’t read any of the other books in the series, so I was afraid I would be lost without the backstory or that I wouldn’t be able to connect with the characters. Luckily, this one turned out to be a standalone story that didn’t require any knowledge from previous books (though I’ve heard that it’s recommended to read the other books in the series for the best emotional effect). With that said, even though I wasn’t familiar with this particular series or its characters prior to diving into it, one thing I was familiar with was the writing, as I had read de los Santos’s previous standalone novel I’d Give Anything and remember being smitten by how beautiful and heartfelt the writing was. My sentiments toward that book very much apply here as well — the memorable, relatable characters who may act a bit quirky at times, but overall are tremendously endearing; the themes of family, love, forgiveness, truth, regrets, and relationships in all its various forms; the “messiness” of complicated family dynamics where each member might not agree with or understand one another, but still love each other regardless; and of course, the emotional nuances that permeate the story, woven into the narrative in a way that felt seamless and effortless.

De los Santos has a way of tackling difficult topics with empathy and grace, which I admire and appreciate. Her characters are put through some incredibly hard things, and sometimes the decisions they make I might not necessarily agree with, but yet I couldn’t help rooting for them wholeheartedly. I loved all of the characters in here, but I especially connected with Martha, specifically in her role as protector (in this case, of her sister Eleanor), which ends up taking more of a toll on her than anyone could’ve anticipated. Martha’s story was heart wrenching, yet rendered so magnanimously, with an undercurrent of hope and compassion that added emotional nuance, but was never heavy-handed.

There was actually so much to unpack with this moving, poignant story that it’s virtually impossible to do the story justice in the short space of a review. I definitely recommend picking this one up, especially if you’ve read the other books in the series. Over the course of just this book, Cornelia, Eleanor, and their large, extended family already endeared themselves to me to the point that I definitely want to read the previous books in the series so that I can get further acquainted with them.

Received ARC from William Morrow via NetGalley.

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I was not aware that Watch Us Shine was part of a larger series by Marisa de los Santos, I adored her earlier book, Loved Walked In. It doesn't seem necessary to read the others before this one, I would consider it a stand alone, but if you love it as much as I did, you may want to go back and enter the world of Cornelia and her family!

The story is told in two different time lines, which seems to be a common format, these days, which I tend to lean towards and enjoy. Our first time line is from Cornelias point of view. She has just experienced an act of violence against her son, causing her to reel and spin out of control, she blames herself for what occurred. Next, we see the story through the lens of Elenor, or Ellie, Cornelias mother as a young woman in her twenties.

At its core this book is about sisters; how they love, and how they protect one another and the sacrifices that they make for each other. You have Sisters Cornelia and Ollie, that are dealing with their mothers sundowners, and its effects on the family, Cornelias struggle to come to terms with her trauma, and Ollie who feels as if part of her is missing, is she adopted? And then we have the story of Elenor and Martha, two sisters who survive the abuse at the hands of their mother, and try to forge out a life away from each other, on their own, a sisterly bond that never breaks.

For me, this was a propulsive story, I loved reading about the early life of Elenor and her sister, and how they made a way for themselves in the wold, against all odds, and the sacrifice's they made for each other. I loved how it represented the story of motherhood, how difficult and painful it can be. This part very real to me, and was well written.

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for the ARC copy for an honest review.

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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
I loved the other books by this author- especially Love walked In. This book has beautiful prose but is dull as watching paint dry. Themes delve deeply into motherhood, and sisters, but doesn’t-explore any new territory as there really isn’t much of a story here.
The main premise is a Cornelia, ( from Love Walked in) is now a middle aged woman. She comes back home when her mother is hospitalized. Her mother suffers from ‘Sundowners Syndrome “, and is desperately crying for the aurora borealis. Cornelia is trying to full-fill her mother’s wish, but has no clue what it means. Her father Dr B- knows but won’t tell her as “it’s not his story to tell”, so Cornelia is forced to go investigating on her own. The story then flips back and forth to her mother Elenor’s early adulthood where she and her sister Martha finally escape their abusive mentality ill mother. They find very different paths, and are torn apart. The big mystery is what happened to Martha, and why didn’t Cornelia know about her.
There are lots of twee scenes of domestic life, drinking cocoa and reading books, the cast from previous books make appearances but very little happens in the way of excitement.
Sorry but 2 stars as I skimmed the last 30%, and didn’t care how it ended.

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This was such a beautiful, lyrical book.

I really enjoyed how this book was laid out. With the chapters switching between Cornelia in the present and her mother, Eleanor, in the past.

I enjoyed watching Cornelia dive into her mother’s past to understand her request. I also enjoyed watching her come to understand her role in a traumatic event that occurred to her and her children.

This book was so beautifully written. The sentences were magical. I will say, there were times that I had challenges with this, but I think it was more because my reading time was so disjointed.

This book is ultimately about love and family.

[cw - car accident, gun violence, domestic violence, death of a baby]

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My favorite Marisa de los Santos novel yet! Or possibly tied with <I>Love Walked In</I>. It's hard to say. First order of business: this is the fourth novel in the loose series that begins with <I>Love Walked In</I>. Could you read this without reading that, <I>Belong to Me</I>, and <I>I'll Be Your Blue Sky</I>? Yes, you could, but you shouldn't. Why deprive yourself of any of de los Santos's luminous, lyrical writing or her fantastic characters, who grow and learn across the novels? In this novel, Cornelia is both dealing with the aftereffects of a terrible incident - unnamed at the start but eventually revealed - and an accident that has put her beloved mother in the hospital. The story alternates between Cornelia's present and her mother's past, one locked away for decades and unknown by any Ellie's children. This is a heartbreaking and hopeful novel, brimming with love and the deep ties of family. I can already feel my book hangover, and I want to go back and reread all of the earlier books. Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for a digital review copy.

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Watch us Shine
By Marisa de los Santos
Pub Date June 6: 2023
William Morrow
Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
If you haven’t read her previous books please do,
It was a pleasure to spend time with the Brown family again. I recommend this book.
4 stars

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Another wonderful book by Marissa de los Santos. I’ll be honest I didn’t realize this was another installment of “Love Walked In,” when I requested it. I was pleasantly surprised. This story was so beautifully written and had so much depth. Also so fun to revisit some of my favorite characters. I loved it.

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Marisa isn’t able to write anything less than 5 stars as far as I’m concerned. Her books are just the right combination of drama, love, misdeeds, life, death, success, and failure.
In her new book, “Watch Us Shine” we return to Cornelia and her family. Cornelia’s mother is dying, and has one wish before she goes: “Bring me the Northern Lights”. Although this wish stumps Cornelia, it doesn’t deter her from doing everything she can to meet her mother’s final wishes.
As she digs into Mom’s past, Cornelia learns of a life she had no clue her mother had lived. A childhood of loveless pain, and surprisingly, a sister. Thus begins a process that is healing and enlightening for all of the family. But she still hasn’t found the Northern Lights in a form that she can take to her mother.
This is a heartbreakingly honest story of a family’s pain, but more importantly, a family’s love that brings them together to heal.
Thanks to William Morrow for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date is June 6, 2023.

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I fell in love with Cornelia years ago, but I was disappointed in this iteration of her story. I know too many years have passed and it made it hard to pick up the threads.

I found it difficult to become absorbed in this story. I think I might have been more involved had so much time not passed.

Thank you Netgalley for this ARC.

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3.5 stars. Marisa de los Santos returns to her beloved Love Walked In series. Although each book focuses on a different cast of characters, they all include people-loving, sensitive, storytelling Cornelia Brown, who is now in her mid-forties and happily married with two young children. Cornelia narrates this fourth installment, but the heart of the story concerns Cornelia's mom, Eleanor.

Eleanor has always been a loving and supportive parent, so when she is the victim of a car accident and ends up in a rehab hospital, Cornelia hurries to her side in Virginia. During her "sundowning" confusion, she implores Cornelia to bring her the Northern Lights. Cornelia has no idea what Eleanor means - as far as she knows, her mother has never witnessed that spectacle.

As Cornelia desperately tries to figure out how to satisfy her mother's request, the reader travels back to 1967 with Eleanor. She and her older sister Martha have survived their own mother's irrational and violent behavior caused by mental illness and alcoholism. Now Cornelia is finally going away to college and Martha is moving all the way to Northern Minnesota to serve as a personal assistant to a wealthy man. She looks forward to having the freedom to paint that has long been denied by the need to protect Eleanor.

At first Martha's letters to her younger sister are optimistic, full of the joy and excitement she feels about finally being able to pursue her artistic dreams. But when Martha falls in love with a troubled man, she gradually becomes less confident and more guarded. Eleanor is helpless to prevent Martha from traveling such a dangerous path, but when Martha finally reaches out for help, Eleanor responds quickly, only to find herself forced to make a life-changing choice.

As always, de los Santos' writing is lyrical and lush, with her experience writing poetry easily apparent. She captures the strong bond between Eleanor and Martha, in stark contrast to the veiled hostility between Cornelia and her own sister Ollie, although the latter pair do eventually reach a deeper understanding. A subplot about a recent trauma experienced by Cornelia and her kids could have been omitted to give more space to Eleanor and Martha's more compelling saga. (Frankly, after four books Cornelia is starting to get on my nerves. It's not Always About You, girlfriend!) And to my disappointment, there are just two types of male characters in this book -almost perfect and rotten to the core - instead of the more nuanced personalities provided to the female characters.

As of this book, the Love Walked In series has explored the backgrounds of Cornelia's mother, sister, stepson, almost-daughter, and neighbors. I'm not sure how much more gas is left in the Brown family tank, but I suspect I'll keep reading just the same.

ARC received from Net Galley in exchange for objective review.

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I inhaled this. Once again, Marisa de los Santos has delivered a series installment I didn't know I needed or even wanted, but I drank this book down in one long gulp. I noticed as I was catching up with Cornelia, who is 44 in this new book, that I've really grown up with her as a character; that familiarity was so welcome. I'm sharing my full review for our 2023 Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading Guide, but for now I'll say: what a gem.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an ARC for review.

It took me longer than I'd like to admit to figure out that this was another installment in the "Love Walked In" series. The character names were familiar, and I had to hop over to GoodReads to check on de Los Santos' other works. I've loved everything she's written and this was no exception. It did take me some time to recall the characters and get into the rhythm of the story. Once I did, I was enthralled. This follows Cornelia as she deals with a traumatic experience in her own life and also with her mother's illness. She follows a mystery of her mother's past, and the narration alternates between Cornelia's present and Ellie's past in the sixties. de los Santos always has so many poignant, beautiful things to say, and she does that perfectly here.

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