Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....September 25, 2016

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.

What a weird week.  Last weekend I took a few trips to the County Animal Shelter, just to "look".  There are so many dogs there.  In all breeds and sizes, in varying degrees of health and appearance.  I really had not concrete thoughts about adopting, but then i came across this little mess.

She is quite possibly the ugliest dog that I had ever seen.  She weighs in at a solid 5.4 pounds, and looks like a cross between Chewbacca and a large rat.  She had goopy eyes, she was dirty and covered in ticks and too shy to even come forward until she saw a treat.  Of course I had to have her.  I couldn't adopt her or even hold her until Wednesday because they have to give the owner three days to come forward and claim her - even though she had obviously never had an owner.  Then she had to stay until Thursday to get spayed.  I paid for extra testing and found out that she has brown tick fever.   So we took a trip to my vet Friday and started meds for pretty much everything.  

But she is a total sweetie.  She wants to be near me at all time - and since she can't be groomed for two weeks post op, she let me spray her with detangler and comb her for an hour.  She's so skinny, you can feel every bone in her body. But in a few months, she will look like a new pup.

I've read some good books lately, and some not so good books.  I'm always torn on the not so good ones.  I hate to insult anyone's work - because I sure don't have the patience to write a book, but at the same time, I want to be honest.  How do other bloggers handle this?

In the midst of all this craziness, I've only added one book from NetGalley, but I did get the first box of books from Booksparks for the Fall University.

Here's my add for the week.

The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness by Maggie Dawson.....Three women, three lives, and one chance to become a family…whether they want to or not.

Newly orphaned, recently divorced, and semiadrift, Nina Popkin is on a search for her birth mother. She’s spent her life looking into strangers’ faces, fantasizing they’re related to her, and now, at thirty-five, she’s ready for answers.
Meanwhile, the last thing Lindy McIntyre wants is someone like Nina bursting into her life, announcing that they’re sisters and campaigning to track down their mother. She’s too busy with her successful salon, three children, beautiful home, and…oh yes, some pesky little anxiety attacks.
But Nina is determined to reassemble her birth family. Her search turns up Phoebe Mullen, a guarded, hard-talking woman convinced she has nothing to offer. Gradually sharing stories and secrets, the three women make for a messy, unpredictable family that looks nothing like Nina pictured…but may be exactly what she needs. Nina’s moving, ridiculous, tragic, and transcendent journey becomes a love story proving that real family has nothing to do with DNA.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell

What They Say.....26-year-old Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown—and her past—behind for good. 

Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina—also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life. 

As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love—and her chance at happiness—all over again.

What I Say.....I have mixed emotions about this book.  I love magical realism, and I was hoping to find a new favorite author.  But this almost felt like a mix of two different books - or like two people wrote it and then tried to merge it into one book.

The story begins with Rachel granting a wish for her goddaughter without realizing that she had done.  The little girl's wish was for a unicorn and a pony with an ice cream cone attached to her forehead appeared on their front porch.  It felt a little odd, like there was no set up for it.  I was wondering how she made the wish happen - as in the how she does it and then why it was a horse with an ice cream cone attached to it's head.  It just didn't flow well - it felt very abrupt.

Rachel jumps in the car and drives until she runs out of gas in Nowhere, North Carolina.  There's an old woman named Catch watching her from her front yard who invites her in to stay.   

Catch has been an honorary mother to the neighborhood hottie and introductions and attraction commence.  I liked the relationship between Rachel and Ashe - and the relationship between Rachel and Catch, especially as Rachel learns about Catch's magic and how to use her own.

I liked the characters, I liked the book okay, but the flow just felt really off at times.  It seemed like a light, entertaining read at times, but then you had this dark undercurrent of the storyline of how Rachel wishing her brother away when she was young, resulting in her mother's eventual suicide and her estrangement from her father.  It just felt like a rough transition in a storyline.

Honestly, I don't know if it was just me, because the other reviews on Goodreads are very strong.  I'd love to hear from others what they thought.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.09

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....September 19, 2016

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, well, well.  Fall is making an appearance in Arizona finally.  The temp at night has been dropping into the low 70's, which is great for morning walks, not so great for swimming.  I may try to get in and float and read today, but I stuck my foot in yesterday and it was a little chilly.  Way too chilly to be relaxing.

My adds this week are few - I've been reading like a fiend, and my plan of sitting up vs. laying down on the couch at night has been working well!!  I stayed up until 9 almost every night. It's amazing, when I was 19, I usually went out around 9pm at night.....

Paris Mon Amour by Isabel Costello....The first time I caused terrible harm
to the people I love it was an accident. The second is the reason I'm here.

When Alexandra discovers that her husband Philippe is having an affair, she can’t believe he’d risk losing the love that has transformed both their lives.
Still in shock, Alexandra finds herself powerfully attracted to a much younger man. Jean-Luc Malavoine is twenty-three, intense and magnetic. He’s also the son of Philippe’s best friend.
With every increasingly passionate liaison, Alexandra is pulled deeper into a situation that threatens everyone she holds dear.
Beautifully told through the boulevards and arrondissements of the City of Light, Paris Mon Amour is a sensual novel about inescapable desire and devastating betrayals. It is the story of one woman and two men, and what happens when there is no way out.
‘A truly emotional ride. A story of lust, love and loss with a beautifully described Paris as its backdrop. I galloped through it in a couple of days’ Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel....After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-
old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane's first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

Cakewalk by Rita Mae Brown....Continuing in the exuberant tradition of Six
of One, Bingo
, and Loose LipsNew York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown returns to her much-loved fictional hamlet of Runnymede, whose memorable citizens are welcoming both the end of the Great War and the beginning of a new era.

The night a riot breaks out at the Capitol Theater movie house—during a Mary Pickford picture, no less—you can bet that the Hunsenmeir sisters, Louise and Julia, are nearby. Known locally as Wheezie and Juts, the inimitable, irrepressible, distinctly freethinking sisters and their delightful circle of friends are coming of age in a shifting world—and are determined to understand their place in it. Across town, the well-to-do Chalfonte siblings are preparing for the upcoming wedding of brother Curtis. But for youngest sister Celeste, the celebration brings about a change she never expected and a lesson about love she'll not soon forget.
Set against the backdrop of America emerging from World War I, Cakewalk is an outrageous and affecting novel about a small town where ideas of sin and virtue, love and sex, men and women, politics and religion, can be as divided as the Mason-Dixon Line that runs right through it—and where there's no problem that can't be cured by a good yarn and an even better scotch. With her signature Southern voice, Rita Mae Brown deftly weaves generations of family stories into a spirited patchwork quilt of not-so-simple but joyously rich life.

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner....Wartime intrigue spans the
lives of three women—past and present—in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life.

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark...

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

What They Say.....For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.

Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.
With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

What I Say.....OMG, yes to this book.   My kids are all grown and I thank God for that every day, but when they were little, I often thought about running away and never coming back.  I was working full time, going to nursing school full time and raising three small children in the midst of a divorce.  Now when I look back, I actually wonder how I made it through without going completely loony.

But Maribeth has bigger problems that I did - because she's having a heart attack and ignoring all the symptoms.  She's been working for her best friend, who seems to have both bypassed her personally and professionally and has also grown distant towards Maribeth and her children.  Her husband isn't super helpful and the kids are just a lot of work.  

When Maribeth ends up going into the cath lab for a quick stent, of course it can't go well, and they tear her artery, causing her to end up needing a full bypass surgery.  At this point I was thinking, if this woman didn't have bad luck, she wouldn't have any luck at all.
Post surgery, her mother comes to "help" and her husband stays home a few days, but ultimately they expect Maribeth to pick up and start doing everything again.  I really felt for her.  

And one day, she just decides she's had enough.  She packs a bag, pulls out 25k from her inheritance and takes off to start a new life.  I wish I had 25k to start a new life.

At first I was appalled, then I was jealous, then I was interested.  So many women would probably love to do this, but who would ever be able to live with the guilt of leaving your children behind?  I loved to talk about it but I could have never even made the motions toward leaving.

But I digress.  The rest of the book is really about Maribeth's journey towards acceptance of herself, learning who she is if she isn't a wife and mother.  And haven't we all wondered that?

I read this book in one day - it was Gayle Forman's first adult book and it was very well done.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.76
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Monday, September 12, 2016

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

What They Say....Fiona Davis's stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City's glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side-by-side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success in the 1950s, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon's glitzy past.
 When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren't: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn't belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she's introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that's used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance. Over half a century later, the Barbizon's gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby's involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman's rent-controlled apartment. It's a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby's upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose's obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed. 

What I Say....Whenever you read an author's first novel, it's always a crapshoot.  It usually takes most writers a book or two to find their voice.  I'm happy to say that was not the case with The Dollhouse.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  Darby was a heroine that you rooted for.  So new to the city, and unsure of herself or what anyone's motives are for being nice (or mean) to her.  She is placed on the flourish all the models, some of who seem to be kind and some who seem to be mean, she makes a friend in the maid, who seems to be kind, but is also pulling her into a life that might derail her plans to complete secretarial school and support herself.  
Darby meets a boy that shows every sign of being interested in her, but her self confidence is so low, she is embarrassed to even entertain the thought of a romance.

Darby's choices cumulate in a death - but we spend most of the book wondering who died and who lived when the conflict hit its peak.
This story has been buried since the '50's and all the surviving players have moved on, living quiet lives.  But Rose is a real journalist who is trying to impress her new young boss that only wants clickbait stories.  She's also dealing with her relationship falling apart when her boyfriend decides to reconcile with his ex-wife "for the sake of the kids".

Her impending homelessness and disintegrating career are the impetus for Rose's pursuit of Darby's story, even when Darby shows no interest in having her story told.  The storyline bounces back between the jazz clubs of the 50's and today, but in a way that works.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.82

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