Sunday, January 15, 2017

Stacking the Shelves....January 15, 206

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, The Sunday Post is another great site hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  The Sunday Salon is a Facebook page where great readers share what they've read this week and Mailbox Monday is a weekly roundup of the new books people have received.

Well, we are experiencing winter in Arizona.  It's not too cold, hanging around the 60's but these unending gray days are killing me.  I can't believe how many years I spent living in Illinois, where you spend months out of the year with this depression inducing weather.  But I'm holding out for sunnier days.

I know I shouldn't complain when I see friends talking about -2 degrees and multiple feet of snow, but it's amazing who much impact the weather has on our moods.

I've added no new books to my shelf this week.  I haven't seen anything that I just HAD to have - and I'm so far behind, I feel like I can never dig myself out.

I'm currently trying to read Liane Moriarty's Truly Madly Guilty and I'm struggling to get past the first chapter - can anyone tell me if it's worth pushing on?

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Levitt

What They Say.....Set in the early 1970s against the specter of the Manson girls, when the peace and love movement begins to turn ugly, this is the story of a runaway teenager's disappearance and her sister's quest to discover the truth.

Caroline Leavitt is at her mesmerizing best in this haunting, nuanced portrait of love, sisters, and the impossible legacy of family.

It's 1969, and sixteen-year-old Lucy is about to run away with a much older man to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have vicious repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy's default caretaker for most of their lives, Charlotte's youth has been marked by the burden of responsibility, but never more so than when Lucy's dream of a rural paradise turns into nightmare.

With gorgeous prose and indelible characters, Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, and what happens when you're responsible for things you can't fix.

What I Say.....What a book.  I've always loved Caroline Leavitt, her "Girls In Trouble" was one of my favorites, but this new book is by far her best.  She writes about complicated relationships in all of her books, but this story of two sisters was especially melancholy.

Lucy is seduced by her teacher, she runs away seeking the excitement of a grown up life.  But she finds that the life she has run to is actually much more confining than her life with her sister and their loving guardian.

Charlotte is left behind, trying to follow the rules, trying to pursue her dreams of being a vet and being the remaining "good" child.  She is sick with worry, but also a little angry with Lucy's immaturity and the selfishness of leaving a loving family and not making any contact.

As Lucy begins to grow tired of her solitary life, she branches out, making secret friends, working a secret job, and beginning to realize that the life she left behind may not have been so bad after all.  But her boyfriend is becoming increasingly paranoid, and unhinge - by the time Lucy reaches out to her sister, tragedy strikes.

The story is as much Charlotte's as Lucy's.  The bond between sisters is a weird thing - it's a twisty relationship that thrives in chaos as much as in peace. Everything your sister does has a weird ripple effect on you, even when they aren't near you.

Definitely one of Leavitt's best - and I encourage everyone to read all of her books.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Weekly Book Haul.....January 8, 2017

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, The Sunday Post is another great site hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  The Sunday Salon is a Facebook page where great readers share what they've read this week and Mailbox Monday is a weekly roundup of the new books people have received.

Starting off this year with a whimper vs. a bang.  I've been working out and eating right since about March, but the holidays put a giant wrench in that plan - I didn't go all out, but enough to make me feel not so great about myself.   So I thought Jan 3, the first day back to work would be a great way to start the year by getting back on track.  But I had early meetings 3 times in this four day workweek, and this weekend I've been dog sitting my daughter's three dogs in addition to my two, so getting anything done has not been on the agenda.  I've spent my days mastering the art of walking 5 dogs at a time, doing hourly let outs, and constantly counting, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.  I'm terrified that I will misplace one and lose any future grandparent babysitting privileges for eternity.

But I've been reading some great books!  And tomorrow, my life will get back on track.  I've marked my work calendar for Do Not Schedule from 8a-9a, so that I can get my workouts done in the morning and be back on track.

But oh the books I've been reading!! So much good reading!  And I'm catching up on my blogging. i just finished Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza, and it was so cute!  It won't be published until July 2017, but I read it early just because I wanted to - part of my New Year's resolutions.

I hope your New Year's has started out much more successfully than mine!

Here's what I added this week.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella....Everywhere Katie Brenner

looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.
Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

A Death at the yoga Cafe by Michelle Kelly.....Keeley Carpenter has found
her center. After returning to Befrey, the traditional English village she called home ten years ago, she’s opened her dream yoga café, which doubles as both a yoga studio and a delicious vegetarian café. Even better, Keeley is dating handsome Detective Ben Taylor, and things are beginning to look serious.
Too bad things never seem to run smoothly for long. Eager to get involved with the local community, Keeley sets up a booth at the annual Belfrey Arts Festival, along with her nemesis, fellow small business owner Raquel. Preparing herself to play nice, she’s shocked when Raquel’s boyfriend, Town Mayor Gerald, is found dead after a public spat. Despite Ben’s strict warnings to stay out of it, Keeley isn’t going to let an innocent woman take the blame for the murder—even if it is glamorous, spoiled Raquel.
Now Keeley must balance a precarious murder investigation with the demands of her growing business and now-strained relationship. But when the killer takes a personal interest in Keeley, can she find the culprit before she gets bent out of shape? Charming and delicious, this cozy follow up to Downward Facing Death features recipes from Keeley’s café and is perfect for fans of Cleo Coyle and Laura Childs.

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion......On the cusp of turning
fifty, Adam Sharp likes his life. He’s happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT. But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been: his blazing affair more than twenty years ago with an intelligent and strong-willed actress named Angelina Brown who taught him for the first time what it means to find—and then lose—love. How different might his life have been if he hadn’t let her walk away?
And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously?

Millie Vanilla's Cupcake Cafe by Georgia Hill....Is this the start of something
Millie’s working all hours to make her seaside café a success, so when a rival multi-national café chain opens its latest branch just around the corner, stealing away her customers, it means WAR!
Millie’s remaining loyal customers step up – and a new arrival in town, the gorgeous, enigmatic Jed Henville, is also keen on helping Millie solve her business crisis. But it’s only after Jed sweeps her off her feet that Millie suddenly realises how little she knows about him…

Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin....Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Claire: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.
Claire thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.
Alice thinks Claire is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.
One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.
Two sisters. One truth.

Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star....After a tragic accident on Martha’s
Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.
When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter.
At turns heartbreaking, humorous, and hopeful, Sisters One, Two, Three explores not only the consequences of secrets—even secrets kept out of love—but also the courage it takes to speak the truth, to forgive, and to let go.

According to a Source by Abby Stern....We live in a society obsessed with
celebrity, but have you ever wondered who is on the inside gathering the best celebrity gossip and how do they get access? According to a Source: A Novel by Abby Stern dishes on this behind the scenes world in a way that only a Hollywood insider could. 
Ella Warren works for celebrity news website, The Life, as a club reporter. She’s assigned to stake out Hollywood’s hottest clubs and spy on the celebrities inside. When Ella is pressured by her Devil Wears Prada-type boss to find an exclusive story to keep her job, she has to decide if being in Hollywood’s elite inner circle is worth jeopardizing her friendship with actress Holiday Hall, her budding romance with Holiday’s agent, and her family. 
A juicy, big-hearted novel about a young woman who loses herself in a fast-paced, glamorous world where finding your authentic self isn’t easy.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

What They Say.....For fans of The Nanny Diaries and Sophie Kinsella comes a whip-smart and deliciously funny debut novel about Kate, a young woman unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat world of New York City private school admissions as she attempts to understand city life, human nature, and falling in love.

Despite her innate ambition and Summa Cum Laude smarts, Kate Pearson has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome, French “almost fiancé,” she abandons her grad school plans and instead spends her days lolling on the couch, watching reruns of Sex and the City, and leaving her apartment only when a dog-walking gig demands it. Her friends don’t know what to do other than pass tissues and hope for a comeback, while her practical sister, Angela, pushes every remedy she can think of, from trapeze class to therapy to job interviews.

Miraculously, and for reasons no one (least of all Kate) understands, she manages to land a job in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. In her new position, Kate learns there’s no time for self-pity or nonsense during the height of the admissions season, or what her colleagues refer to as “the dark time.” As the process revs up, Kate meets smart kids who are unlikable, likeable kids who aren’t very smart, and Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.

Meanwhile, Kate’s sister and her closest friends find themselves keeping secrets, hiding boyfriends, dropping bombshells, and fighting each other on how to keep Kate on her feet. On top of it all, her cranky, oddly charming, and irritatingly handsome downstairs neighbor is more than he seems. Through every dishy, page-turning twist, it seems that one person’s happiness leads to another’s misfortune, and suddenly everyone, including Kate, is looking for a way to turn rejection on its head, using any means necessary—including the truly unexpected.

What I Say.....Kate is reeling from the breakup from hell, left at the airport in Paris for a French boyfriend who "changed his mind" after she packed up and left her life and her graduate studies behind to pursue love.

Kate's decision and subsequent breakdown impact all of the women in her life.  Her sister, and her two best friends have different ways of dealing with the changes in Kate that range from tolerance to fixing to phantom online dating in Kate's place.

Kate's sister helps her land a job as an admissions counselor at a prestigious private school, and slowly begins to come back to life.  In the midst of her long hours, she starts chatting with the neighbor that lives downstairs.  

This was a fun book to read, and I liked Kate's journey, along with her friends and sister.  I did feel like her friend who began to date her ex was pretty disloyal - a real friend wouldn't do that, or be so spiteful about it in the beginning - but in the end she got what she deserved too.

The funny thing was, all of these women were running around worrying about Kate; where she should work, who she should date, and Kate never really seemed to return the interest.  She didn't seem to care about them too much at all.  In spite of all their hard work, they didn't realize that the only thing she needed was time - time to reflect on why she made the major life change she did, and acceptance of the real reason behind that decision.  

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Monday, January 2, 2017

The Other Sister by Dianne Dixon

What They Say.....One sister has everything. Her twin hates her for it.

Would life be better without Ali? Probably. At least then people might think about Morgan. Ali's always gotten everything ― she doesn't even realize how much Morgan resents her.

Ali also doesn't realize that when she shuts Morgan out entirely, she will unleash a chain of events that show just how dangerous the underside of love really is. As their lives spin toward something neither one of them can control, a terrifying crime reveals how those who know us best can destroy us...or save us.

What I Say....Ali and Morgan are twins, but couldn't be more different.  Ali has lived a fairly charmed life, complete with friends, men, talent and beauty.  Morgan has struggled a bit more, and while I found her super annoying and clingy, I also found Ali to be not as perfect as she seemed.  In fact, all of the characters in this book were flawed in some way, which kept you on an emotional roller coaster of who you were rooting for, as they all seemed to take turns in being the villain and the victim.

Based on the book's description, I expected a much different story.  This book was much more complicated, focused on multiple characters, and Ali's rape wasn't the focal point of the story, but more like a plot twist.

The greatest change was Morgan's development from a weird, self-loathing, bitter person into one who not only accepted herself, but began letting others into her life in a positive way, including her sister.

Honestly, it seemed like this book couldn't decide whether it was a sister book, a thriller or a dysfunctional family book - and some of that choppiness made it difficult to know how to feel when the book ended.  

I enjoyed it and would read this author again.  Thank you, NetGalley for the ARC!

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