Monday, November 14, 2016

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Publish Date: November 1, 2016

What They Say.....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.

What I Say....Alice Hoffman.  She is hands down one of my all time favorite authors. But I didn't love The Dovekeepers (my mom loved it) and The Museum of Extraordinary Things and I was really worried.  I liked the books, but I didn't LOVE the books.  So I skipped The Marriage of Opposites because I didn't want to find out that my love affair with all things Hoffman was over.

When I got a copy of Faithful, the description intrigued me, because it didn't look like it was historical like the two I was indifferent towards.  I decided to give it a try,

I was absolutely mesmerized.  I couldn't put it down and I finished it in under two days - and these were work days.

Shelby is a typical teen until the night that changed her life.  Now trying to live with the guilt of being the driver in a car accident that has left her best friend in a vegetative state, Shelby is living with a guilt too great to move forward.  But Shelby finds out, as we all do, that no matter how sad you are, no matter how empty you are, life moves forward and you get pulled along.

I think one of the things I love about Hoffman's characters is that there is never some giant epiphany where things suddenly get better.  It's more about tiny seismic shifts from the everyday situations that we all face.  It's the choices you make in facing them that define who you are.

This story reminded me of another Hoffman favorite, The Third Angel.  If you haven't read that one, put it on your list.  Add Here on Earth.  One of the trademarks of Hoffman's writing is that at the end, the story all comes together and you are left deeply satisfied, because you always care way too much about the characters in an Alice Hoffman novel.   

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....November 13, 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.

Can I get a hallelujah that the election is over?  Not that the days after it were any easier, but I'm so hopeful that we can put all of the ugliness behind us.   It's been so overwhelming at times, that I'm being very careful about what I'm reading right now.  So it's almost all Christmas themed chick lit.  Nothing but relaxation, and pure escapism.

So I added a few more just for the holidays.....

The Cosy Christmas Teashop by Caroline Roberts.....From sleigh bells to
wedding bells . . .

After a rocky start, Ellie Hall baked her way into everyone’s hearts at Claverham Castle – even the miserly Lord Henry was won over – and the run-down teashop regained its old sparkle.
Now Ellie has upgraded cupcakes for fairytale masterpieces as the proud caterer for an ever-growing list of weddings at the castle. The teashop team love baking to the tune of happy ever afters, but can they pull together when a certain bridezilla pushes them all to boiling point?
Christmas is just around the corner, and a last minute booking threatens to snow the team under. Ellie and her hunky hubby Joe have their own Christmas dreams to chase, but they’re determined to pull through and give this special couple the winter wonderland wedding they deserve.
Will Christmas at the Cosy Teashop be a showstopper to remember?

All I Want for Christmas by Jenny Hale....Christmas comes once a year . . .
But true love comes once in a lifetime. 

Snowflakes are falling, there’s carol singing on every corner, and Leah Evans is preparing for a family Christmas at her grandmother’s majestic plantation house in Virginia. It won’t be the same now that her beloved Nan is gone, but when Leah discovers she has inherited the mansion, she knows she can give her daughter Sadie the childhood of her dreams. 

But there’s a catch. Leah must split the house with a man called David Forester. Leah hasn’t heard that name in a long time. Not since they were kids, when Davey was always there to catch her. 

Now David is all grown up. He’s gorgeous, successful, and certain of one thing: Leah should sell him her half of the house. 

They can’t agree, but as they share memories over wine by the log fire, Leah notices a fluttering in her stomach. And by the look in his eyes, he’s starting to feel it too. 

Will it be Leah or David who must give up their dreams? Or, with a little bit of Christmas magic, will they finally understand Nan’s advice to them both about living life without regrets … and take a chance on true love?

Heartbreak Hotel by Jonathan Kellerman.....At nearly one hundred years
old, Thalia Mars is a far cry from the patients that child psychologist Alex Delaware normally treats. But the charming, witty woman convinces Alex to meet with her in a suite at the Aventura, a luxury hotel with a checkered history. 

What Thalia wants from Alex are answers to unsettling questions—about guilt, patterns of criminal behavior, victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session. But when he shows up the following morning, he is met with silence: Thalia is dead in her room.
When questions arise about how Thalia perished, Alex and homicide detective Milo Sturgis must peel back the layers of a fascinating but elusive woman’s life and embark on one of the most baffling investigations either of them has ever experienced. For Thalia Mars is a victim like no other, an enigma who harbored nearly a century of secrets and whose life and death draw those around her into a vortex of violence.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....November 6, 2106

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.

I swear it still doesn't seem like fall to me.  It's still in the high 80's here, my Chicago Bears have the wackiest schedule ever this year - so far, barely any Sunday games, and the Halloween candy i bought melted in my car, so I had to buy more.  Then I only got 4 trick or treaters!  That was super sad because I love seeing the little kids dressed up and how excited they are.  I got two little kids and two young teens.  I gave them both handfuls of candy, then gave up for the night.

I don't usually write mean reviews, it's just hard for me to do since I have such great respect for anyone who takes on the work of writing a book.  But sometimes I do give constructive feedback, because otherwise how do you improve your skills?  I'm actually pretty snarky by nature in life, so I try to keep that in check in my blog.  

I recently gave a honest, but respectful review of an author that I really like.  It wasn't negative by any means, but I did say it wasn't my favorite by her.  Then this week, I got turned down for her newest novel.  So now I've been a little thoughtful about this.  Is it better to just gush so you don't end up on the bad list for ARC's?  I'm not sure that I can not be honest.  So if you don't like, do you just skip the review?  That doesn't seem right either.  I'm not sure how the real bloggers handle it, this is just a hobby to me.

The Guests on South Battery by Karen White......New York Times 

bestselling author Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away...

With her extended maternity leave at it's end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she's awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for over a year are about to invade her life once more. 

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell it as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission. 

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can't deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to appear to her again. One is shrouded from sight, appearing whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in her backyard on Tradd Street. 

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried...

The Other Wives Club by Shari Low....Three women thrown together on a
surprise Mediterranean cruise to celebrate a milestone birthday of the man they all once loved. What could possibly go wrong? 

Tess Gold - the current wife. When Tess married Drew Gold, she knew his two ex-wives were still in his life.  Now Drew has planned a luxury cruise to celebrate his birthday ... and the former Mrs. Golds are all coming too. 
Mona Gold - the second wife. When it comes to style, fashion editor, Mona, never puts a Louboutin wrong.  Now it’s time to reclaim the only man she ever really loved ... if she can tempt Drew away from his new wife for a second time. 
Sarah Gold - the first wife, the original. When Drew left her for Mona, Sarah’s emotions went into hibernation.  Now she’s decided to shave those legs and start living again...

To Love and To Cherish by Lauren Layne....Sex and the City meets The
Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, a contemporary and witty romance series about three high-powered New York City women who can plan any wedding—but their own.

Alexis Morgan has spent the past eight years devoted to turning her tiny start-up into Manhattan’s premiere wedding planning company, The Wedding Belles. Now that her business is thriving, it’s time to turn towards her much neglected personal life, and Alexis approaches her relationships like she does everything else: with a plan. Not a part of that plan is Logan Harris, the silent partner in the Belles, and the one person who’s been there for her since the very beginning. But Alexis needs someone fun, and Logan’s all business, all the time—except when a late night at the office ends with an unexpected kiss that leaves the usually cool and together Alexis reeling.

Logan has lusted after Alexis since the day he walked into the tiny Harlem apartment that used to double as her office. But the ambitious wedding planner has always been untouchable...until now. Alexis has made it clear that she’s on the dating market—and equally clear that he’s not in the running. But when Alexis finds herself in need of a date for her sister’s last minute wedding in Florida, Logan knows it’s the perfect time to show Alexis that there’s more to him than numbers and spreadsheets—and beneath the pinstripes and glasses lies a hot-blooded heartthrob. As Florida’s sultry days turn into even hotter nights, Logan’s out to convince Alexis that the fling of a lifetime could just maybe turn into forever...

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Weekly Book Review.....October 30, 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.

Halloween week - I can't wait to see the kids trick or treating.  This is one of my favorite holidays because it requires very little work on my part anymore.  Now that my kids are grown, all I have to do is buy a bunch of candy and sit outside waiting for the little ones.  

I just read the new Alice Hoffman book, Faithful, and I loved it! Review coming soon.  I have to say, I haven't loved her last few - and this one felt like a return to her original style.  It was so good.

I added a few good reads this week, and I'm excited because I've had two books this week that I had to make a DNF.  I hate that - it makes me feel so guilty.

Always by Sarah Jio.....While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiancĂ©, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. 
When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense—everything connected and felt right. But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what—and whom—she wants.
Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.


Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser.....Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good. 
So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all. 
Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice. 
Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg....Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town’s Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s own Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.

Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.

With her trademark humor, wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town’s Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson

What They Say.....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.

What I Say.....Maddie Dawson's The Opposite of Maybe was one of the very first ARC's I ever received as a book blogger.  I had never heard of her before, and probably never would have read her if I hadn't gotten a copy of her book to review.

I loved The Opposite of Maybe, so when I saw that she had a new book out, I requested it, but in kind of a reluctant way.  I wasn't sure that it would match up to her first.  But I'm super happy to say the this book was even better than her last.  

Nina is a middle aged flounderer - not sure if that's a real word, but she is definitely floundering.   After her adoptive mother dies, she decides to pursue finding her biological mother.  This decision impacts other people's lives in ways that they didn't ask for.

Nina meets her biological sister, Lindy, who is living an upwardly mobile, OCD, insecure life.  She didn't ask for, and doesn't really want a new sister, who comes complete with her own insecurities and a determination to hunt down a mother that Lindy doesn't care to know.

As they track down Phoebe, who didn't want to be found, they begin to build their own bonds as sisters and friends.  

The thing I love about her books is that the people in them are so real, they aren't cardboard cutouts, and there aren't easy endings.  The human factor is so present, which makes the story seem so real.  

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