Monday, May 23, 2016

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (June 7, 2016)

What They Say.....From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a PeopleMagazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

What I Say.....I've loved every Taylor Jenkins Reid book that's I've read.  Starting with Maybe In Another Life, I became a fan.  So when a copy of this came in my Summer Reading Challenge box, it was the first took I grabbed.  

I spent yesterday with my nose buried in it, while I vacuumed with one hand, propped up while I did dishes, and then floating in the pool - which was convenient because as I cried, I could just pretend it was pool water not tears.  And since I was doing a full on ugly cry, I was happy for the cover.

Emma has carved her life out to be exactly what she wanted, complete with her high school crush now turned husband.  But when he is missing, presumed dead, her entire life changes.

That is really the message of the whole book, that as life happens, we change.  And as you change, your ability to love changes.

The story is really about Emma and since we get to follow her from around age 14 to mid 30's, we really got to see her character development and her journey and it's written with a lot of authenticity.  It rings true.  I think that's what made me cry the most.

I don't want to give any spoilers because I want everyone to read this book so we can discuss it endlessly and you can tell me if you think she makes the right choice.  I'm still torn. 

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekly Book Haul......May 22, 2016

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

I had a pretty good week.  Work went fast, but I was really waiting for the weekend.  All summer long, all I can think about is being outside, swimming, floating and reading.  And this month has the added benefit of being the first month of Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge 2016.  

This is my second year of the Booksparks SRC, and I'm thrilled - I loved it last year, and this year is looking to be just as good.

They sent a bonus book, One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid which I read in one day.  Review coming soon, but she is such an awesome writer - I've loved all of her books.

In the meantime, I took a long hike by myself yesterday.   When I first started off, I was nervous because the trail was empty, like Stephen King empty.   Which made me a little nervous, and set my mind down the scary book path.  Then a lone mountain biker came up behind me with an ice cream bell hanging from his handlebars and classical music playing out loud.  This is when being an avid reader gets you in trouble, because obviously this is the set up for me to be kidnapped ala Joe Goldberg in Hidden Bodies.   

But the view was awesome from the top.  The little shiny things at the bottom are cars.

All of the sudden I feel like I am swimming in great books and I only added more this week.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman......From the New York Times bestselling author of 
The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

House Between Tides by Sarah Maine....Fans of Kate Morton will love this
atmospheric and immersive debut novel of a woman who returns to her ancestral home in Scotland and discovers a century-old secret buried in the basement.

Following the deaths of her last living relatives, Hetty Deveraux leaves her strained marriage behind in London and returns to her ancestral home, a crumbling estate in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, with the intention of renovating and reselling it as a hotel, much to the dismay of the locals. As she dives headfirst into the repairs, she discovers human remains beneath a rotting floorboard in the basement, with few physical clues to identify the body. Who was this person? And why the makeshift grave?

Hungry for answers, Hetty sets out to unravel the estate’s secret—and those of its former inhabitants, including Beatrice Blake, a woman who moved there a century ago with her husband Theo, a famous painter who seemed to be more interested in Cameron, a young local man, than his own wife.

Following whispered rumors and a handful of leads, Hetty soon discovers that no one knows exactly what happened to Beatrice, only that her actions have reverberated throughout history, affecting Hetty’s present in startling ways.

One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison.....To Lissa Thomas,
majoring in business administration seemed like a practical and stable life path...until she tried to find a job after graduation. Desperate, Lissa finds herself working as the office/business manager for M Street Apothecary, a metaphysical store selling cards, crystals, potions, candles, and hope. When Lissa falls head over heels in love with the owner's very married trust fund manager who she works closely with, she'll need nothing short of magic to help her fall out of love. 
An aspiring jewelry designer, Diana Tiesman has been suffering through a difficult relationship with a charismatic man who just can't be faithful. But no matter how many times he lets her down, Diana can't get over him. So when an old friend calls her with the offer of under-the-table pay in exchange for making jewelry to sell at M Street Apothecary, it's the perfect opportunity to get away and get over him. Suddenly, Diana finds herself living in a group house and living on the cheap in one of the most expensive cities in the world, as she must decide whether she'd rather be lonely alone than lonely in love.
With a cast of quirky characters and Beth Harbison's trademark wit and warmth, One Less Problem Without You is sure to please Harbison's fans and garner new ones.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Not Working by Lisa Owens

Hardcover256 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by The Dial Press

What They Say......In the tradition of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It comes a wise and laugh-out-loud debut novel that captures a young generation trying not to have it all, but to figure out what it all means. Claire has just resigned from her job without a plan for her next move. As she struggles to explain herself to friends and family, she experiences the emotions and minutiae of day-to-day life as only someone without the distractions of a regular routine can—and discovers what happens when she seeks true purpose in life.

What I Say.....So I'm getting ready to go buy flowers to do the flowerpot planting around the pool, but I took the time to sit down and read the last bit of this book on my Kindle so I could get the review out before I get in the pool with a paperback.  Sounds a bit like work, huh?  Yeah, it was.

The story was told in the way of Bridget Jones Diary, and was a fun, easy read.  But I never found myself rooting for Claire as much as I did for Bridget.  Mostly because I don't have a lot of patience for people who aren't actively working to help themselves (Bridget Jones's greatest strength was ability to move forward).  

Claire has quit her job because she didn't like it, but she really doesn't have a plan to find another job that she does like or to be happier in any way.  She spends her day surfing the internet, grabbing coffee, getting so drunk that she damages friendships, and lets the house get dirtier and dirtier.

Her sweet boyfriend is in medical school studying to be a neurosurgeon, but still has time to support her breakdowns.  But after a bit, even he seems to be getting tired of the wallowing.

Her mother isn't speaking to her after she laughingly tells her cousins at her grandfather's funeral that he used to take her in the bathroom and flash her.  That was a weird drop in the middle of her story, and you never do get any resolve on it, as her mom begins to give her articles on false memory syndrome, but Claire refuses to say that her memory isn't accurate.

At the end of the book, Claire does seem to have pulled herself out of it and encourages her boyfriend to take a course in America, but there was no resolution on her grandfather issue (kind of a big one!), and she really doesn't have a plan to do anything but temp, travel and then get a job - so I don't know, I liked the book but I felt kind of let down at the end - I'm a Virgo and I like things wrapped up!

Current Goodreads Rating 3.38
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

Kindle Edition344 pages
Published April 28th 2016 by Bookouture

What They Say.....Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?  
When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife. 

Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery. 

Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory. 

Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it? 

What I Say....Loved, loved, loved this book.  Perfect way to kick off summer.  A sweet, little chick lit book that inspired me to want to uproot myself and move away to France.

Emmy arranges for a vacation in the French countryside in order to get her floundering relationship back on track.  Unfortunately, she finds her boyfriend floundering without clothes on top of the guesthouse owner's wife.  After being caught, Nathan shows no remorse, and continues to chase after the much older Gloria, until they abscond in Gloria's sports car.

This leaves Emmy on the hook to help the guesthouse owner, Rupert, who has suffered a minor heart attack and a leg injury on top of being abandoned by his wife.  Emmy is stuck as an unpaid housekeeper, errand runner, and cook.

But as she continues to help, she meets a super cute young gardener who helps recharge her self-confidence.  And she continues to make more friends and meets a gorgeous accountant, she dreads returning to her dead end job, and empty flat more and more each day.

But reality intrudes, and a girl has to make a living, so back to England she goes.  

I don't want to give any spoilers, because this was such a sweet little read.  I read it in a day and a half, and loved every minute of it.  These are my "make me happy" books.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.28

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Hardcover496 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Ballantine Books

What They Say.....Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.
New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

What I Say....This has been the year of novels told from three different viewpoints.  And I find that I like that style of writing, it seems to keep me more engrossed in the story, but maybe that appeals to my ADD nature.  Which I'm convinced is being made worse by my dependence on my iPhone.

I love a good WWII book, and this one is based in New York, Poland and Germany, where each woman is based.  Caroline Ferriday is a real person, but the novel is still historical fiction.

Kasia is a young Polish girl who gets involved the Resistance, but manages to get arrested on her first mission.  Her mother and sister are sent to the concentration camp with her, and they spend the next years trying to simply stay alive.

Herta, the German doctor, is trying to make enough money to live and practice medicine.  Her dream is to become a surgeon, which is unheard of in Nazi Germany, so she is forced to practice as a dermatologist.  But the war changes all that, as she is sent to a "Re-Education Camp".  Although she may have not known what she was getting into in the beginning, she quickly realizes what is happening, but she does nothing to stop it and takes part in performing horrific surgeries on the Polish women, in the name of experimentation.  Super sick.  

This was such a powerful story, and definitely a page turner, but it was even more fascinating to learn at the end of the story that it was based on true events and true women.  It's completely amazing to know what that generation lived through and how they stayed both alive and optimistic about the human race.

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