Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weekly Book Haul......May 31, 2015




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.

Purposefully, a very light add week.  Only a couple in the mail this week.  I'm still getting settled in the new job, and just signed a lease on a place closer to work, so I'll be moving at the end of June.

This Wednesday I will be having some surgery, and crazily, I'm looking forward to the forced downtime afterward to catch up on my reading.  Of course, now I'm going to have to also start packing, which is something I hate, hate, hate.

I've been reading Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton. It's really good, but I just haven't had enough down time to read in earnest.

My daughter graduated on Thursday so we had lots of family and friends time this week, which was wonderful.  On Friday, the house felt too quiet and empty.  I've got three grown up girls now, which makes me both happy and melancholy for the days of being overwhelmed by little kids.



Now with my youngest daughter all grown, I get to have the much anticipated mid life crisis.  What do you do when you've spent your whole life raising kids and working way too much?  I've been divorced for 18 years, so I don't even have anyone else to stare at or complain about.

Maybe I'll finally read without guilt.......

In the Mail

The only book I got in the mail this week was from Booksparks for the Summer Reading Challenge 2015.

Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde....Virginia finally had the chance to explore a relationship with Aaron
when he asked her on a date. She had been waiting, hoping that the widower and his young son, Buddy, would welcome her into their lives. But a terrible tragedy strikes on the night of their first kiss, crushing their hopes for a future together.

Nineteen years later, Virginia is engaged, though she has not forgotten Aaron or Buddy. When her dog goes missing and it comes to light that her fiancé set him loose, a distraught Virginia breaks off the engagement and is alone once again. A shy young man has found the missing pet, and although he’s bonded with the animal, he answers his conscience and returns the dog. Before long, Virginia and the young man discover a connection from their pasts that will help them let go of painful memories and change their lives forever.
 

I've always like Hyde's books.  But they are usually tearjerkers, and this looks like no exception.  

What I Wrote

Eight Hundred Grapes





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Monday, May 25, 2015

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave






What They Say.....There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Bestselling author Laura Dave has been dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA TODAY), a “decadent storyteller” (Marie Claire), and “compulsively readable” (Woman’s Day). Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma’s wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.


What I Say....I received this book from the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge, and it was the perfect summer kickoff book.

I read it in two days floating around the pool.  My favorite way to pass the lazy summer days.

Georgia is getting her final wedding dress fitting when she spots something that will change her life (no spoilers here).  She takes off for her family vineyard, wanting to find some refuge in her childhood home, and walks straight into another visual shock.

The next day, she finds that pretty much everyone in her family is undergoing some type of romantic drama.  She spends the next few days trying to help everyone around her, including herself.

The dialogue is well-written, the location is beautiful, and the characters were all believable and well-written.  This isn't a compliment I give lightly, because hokey dialogue is my worst thing.  A book that makes me put down my phone and read it straight through in under two days is my best thing.

I could easily see this being made into a movie, similar to Troppers' "This is Where I Leave You", hopefully, without the awful miscasting (I'm looking at you, Tina Fey).



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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Very Small Weekly Bookhaul......May 24, 2015




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'm so excited for a three day weekend!  I spent yesterday doing some spring cleaning and today I'm hoping to float in the pool and read.  It's not as hot as I would like for pool time, it's only going to be a high of 88 today.  For Arizona, that feels like a perfect spring day, but not necessarily a swim day.  First world problems.

My youngest daughter is graduating high school on Thursday!  It feels so surreal.  I've had kids in school for the last 20 years, so it will be weird to not navigate the horrendous drop off line every morning.  How will I get my morning dose of rage without it? LOL

I didn't get anything new from Edelweiss or NetGalley this week.  I'm trying so hard to clear my shelves.  I keep a spreadsheet of everything I've received and what the dates of publish are, and I'm so far behind for May!  There are a ton of great books that come out mid-May, and I need to burn through them this week, I'm already late.

Summer usually means more physical books for me, as I don't want to worry about dropping my Kindle or iPad into the pool.

I did receive another book from Booksparks for the Summer Reading Challenge, and it will be going into the pool with me today.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave......There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…


Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Bestselling author Laura Dave has been dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA TODAY), a “decadent storyteller” (Marie Claire), and “compulsively readable” (Woman’s Day). Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma’s wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.

I finished the Adam Carrolla audiobook, "Not Taco Bell Material".  I started his earlier book, "In 50 Years, We'll All Be Chicks", but I lost interest quickly, because he was telling the exact same stories.  Literally, the EXACT SAME STORIES.

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Sound of Glass by Karen White


  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (May 12, 2015)

What They Say....The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret. 

It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.


What I Say....First of all, let me say that I have enjoyed a few of Karen White's books,  One thing that I like about her is that although she is a best selling writer, her books don't seem to follow a formula (I'm looking at you, Janet Evanovich).

On Folly Beach is a WW2 mystery that is told in flashbacks.  The House on Tradd Street is a ghost story.  And The Sound of Glass is about domestic violence and how many lives it touches through the generations.

The book starts out with a plane crash on an ordinary night.  I actually had to go back and reread the first chapter because it didn't seem to be making sense to me.  It started with such a bang that I was taken off guard.

While the mystery stayed as an undercurrent throughout the story, the reality of every day life took over.  Merritt is trying for a new beginning, and only wants to be left alone, but life just isn't working that way.  She is suddenly saddled with a stepmother she hates and a half-brother she doesn't know, along with her dead husband's estranged brother showing up all of the time.

Merritt is a domestic violence victim, although she has no idea how far back in her family this pattern actually goes, and Gibbes is also a child of domestic abuse, culminating in a covered up murder.  But neither of them really understand how these experiences have affected their every day lives and their ability to love.

As the story went on, I was having a hard time connecting the dots of the mystery, but by the end it tied itself up.  The crime scene nutshells were a little creepy, but this author does creepy well.

My verdict, another winner by Karen White.  Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group and NAL for giving me a copy of this book for review.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.28

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekly Book Haul....May 17, 2015




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.

What a week.  I started my new job, complete with the 1+ hour commute.  One day is was 55 minutes, one day it was an hour and a half.  I feel completely at the mercy of every other driver on the 101.  So I am very motivated to move closer to work, although that flies in the face of my natural resistance to change.  

As I look at houses to rent, I am beyond picky, I want perfection, but I want it at the price I want.  I have a two story - horrible to cool in Arizona summers, so I want to go into a one story, but I don't want my 18 year old's bedroom too close to mine.  

In that way, the two story layout has been ideal, my master is on the first floor and her bedroom is on the second floor.  This gives both of us plenty of space.

The first three days of my commute, I listened to the Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew podcast that my sister has been raving about.  It actually is pretty entertaining.  So I downloaded Carolla's "Not Taco Bell Material", and I found that I can pay attention to an audiobook when I'm trapped in traffic.  There were a few times that I found my attention straying, but this isn't the type of book that you will leave you confused if you zone out for a few minutes.  It's pretty funny.

I added a few good books this week.  I'm looking forward to getting back on my normal reading schedule.  Hope you all have a great week, with a short commute!

Edelweiss

All the Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank....The perennial New York Times bestselling author returns with an emotionally resonant novel that
illuminates the power of friendship in women’s lives, and is filled with her trademark wit, poignant and timely themes, sassy, flesh-and-blood characters, and the steamy Southern atmosphere and beauty of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry.
Few writers capture the complexities, pain, and joy of relationships—between friends, family members, husbands and wives, or lovers—as beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank. In this charming, evocative, soul-touching novel, she once again takes us deep into the heart of the magical Lowcountry where three amazing middle-aged women are bonded by another amazing woman’s death.
Through their shared loss they forge a deep friendship, asking critical questions. Who was their friend and what did her life mean? Are they living the lives they imagined for themselves? Will they ever be able to afford to retire? How will they maximize their happiness? Security? Health? And ultimately, their own legacies?
A plan is conceived and unfurls with each turn of the tide during one sweltering summer on the Isle of Palms. Without ever fully realizing how close they were to the edge, they finally triumph amid laughter and maybe even newfound love.

I love Dorthea Benton Frank, these are the perfect summer reads.

Losing Me by Sue Margolis.....Knocking on sixty, Barbara Stirling is too busy to find herself, while caring for her mother, husband, children, and grandchildren. But when she loses her job, everything changes. Exhausted, lonely, and unemployed, Barbara is forced to face her feelings and doubts. Then a troubled, vulnerable little boy walks into her life and changes it forever.

I understand this is written by the actress who played Susie on "Curb Your Enthusiasm".  I loved her, so I have high hopes for this book.



Somebody I Used to Know by David Bell...When Nick Hansen sees the
young woman at the grocery store, his heart stops. She is the spitting image of his college girlfriend, Marissa Minor, who died in a campus house fire twenty years earlier. But when Nick tries to speak to her, she acts skittish and rushes off.

The next morning the police arrive at Nick’s house and show him a photo of the woman from the store. She’s been found dead, murdered in a local motel, with Nick’s name and address on a piece of paper in her pocket.

Convinced there's a connection between the two women, Nick enlists the help of his college friend Laurel Davidson to investigate the events leading up to the night of Marissa’s death. But the young woman’s murder is only the beginning...and the truths Nick uncovers may make him wish he never doubted the lies.



This looks like it will be a page turner.  Can't wait.

NetGalley


If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harrison.....Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can't ignore the fact that she isn't necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty. 

On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off...

Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance...It's her mother: "Wake up! You're going to be late for school again. I'm not writing a note this time..."  

Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she's lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she'll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?


Who hasn't wanted to turn back time?  It's a requirement of my middle agedness.


The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin.....Here is a truth that
can't be escaped: for Mia "Rabbit" Hayes, life is coming to an end . . .

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colorful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye. But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she's okay with that. Because she has plans for the world too, an only a handful of days left to make them happen. 

Here is a truth that won't be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life's surprises and finding the joy in every moment.


How much am I going to cry? A lot.

What I Wrote

One brief blog, for my Summer Reading Challenge, hosted by Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge 2015.  Have you joined the challenge yet?  They are giving away a Kindle each week!  Sign up here.  

So far both books in the challenge have been GREAT, and not ones I would have normally chosen.

Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek



  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 27, 2015)

What They Say....From the author of The Summer We Fell Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together.
The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.
Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella—and force her to confront her past and her friends.
After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong.
Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.

What I Say....It took me a week to read this book.  Not because of the book, but because I started a new job and was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I kept falling asleep at night with the book in hand.

But no matter how tired I was, I kept going back and trying to get a few pages in because I kept thinking about the characters
.
This was a coming of age book, which I always enjoy, and it was a good one.  We follow the lives of Sam, Suzie, and Bella from the times they are teens up through middle age.  Since I grew up in a small town, people staying in the lives of their friends and neighbors through their whole life didn't seem strange to me.

I really liked how the story was told in alternating voices.  I'm definitely going to find the author's previous book, The Summer We Fell Apart.

I do have to say towards the end, I was holding my breath because I kept thinking that there was going to be a car accident or some type of horrible death, but thankfully, there wasn't.  There's enough happiness and heartbreak in everyday life, and this book illustrated that perfectly.

Thank you to Booksparks for the review copy!

Current Goodreads rating 3.75

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weekly Book Haul....Happy Mother's Day! May 10, 2015




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.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone!  I will be spending my mother's day cooking for everyone (I hate, hate, hate to cook).  It was my youngest daughters 18th birthday yesterday, and we will have my dad and stepmother over, along with my girls, so Mother's Day always feels like a whole lot of work for me.  Definitely should have waited another week to have that baby.

I start my new job tomorrow, complete with an 1 hour and 15 minute commute, so I'm considering subscribing to Audible.com.  Does anyone use it?  Worth the money?  I have trouble listening that long, but I'm hoping it might improve my attention skills.

It was a great book week for me.  I was chosen to be a blogger for the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge, so I'll include those books on my weekly haul list going forward.  They have some great picks so I'm really excited to participate - plus I love getting books in the mail!

Here's what I got.

NetGalley

Unfinished Business by Carolyn rider Aspenson....In UNFINISHED
BUSINESS AN ANGELA PANTHER NOVEL#1 AMAZON bestselling author Carolyn Ridder Aspenson introduces her now trademark blend of witty dialog and hilarious banter in the first book of her paranormal, chick lit Angela Panther series. Filled with romance, Aspenson brings the series into the cozy mystery genre, tying the genres together with humor and heartwarming fun. 
When Angela Panther's mother Fran Richter wakes her up in the middle of the night ranting about stolen Hershey Bars, Angela thinks her mother's got a screw loose. And then it hits her. Her mother is dead. Just a few hours before, Angela watched as the funeral home staff nearly dropped her mother's body off the gurney while sliding her into the hearse. So maybe she's the one that's nuttier than a fruitcake?
But Fran keeps popping in and with a volcano full of drama already brewing at home--crazy or not--Angela's grateful for her mother's presence. 
It's the other ghosts Angela can do without. 
Seems Fran's return opened a portal between Angela and the other side and ghosts are hitting up the reluctant psychic medium for help. From the naked British guy juggling balls in the coffee shop parking lot to the woman desperately trying to save her sick child, Angela must find a way to balance her own life with the unfinished business of the dead. This book was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards from InD'Tale Magazine. 

This looks like it will be a cute, fun read.  Sounds like a paranormal Stephanie Plum novel?


Between the Tides by Susannah Marren.....Lainie Smith Morris is perfectly
content with her life in New York City: she has four children, a handsome surgeon husband, and good friends. This life she has built is shattered, however, when her husband Charles announces he has accepted a job in Elliot, New Jersey, and that the family must relocate. Lainie is forced to give up the things she knows and loves.
Though Charles easily adapts to the intricacies of suburban life, even thriving in it, Lainie finds herself increasingly troubled and bored by her new limited responsibilities, and she remains desperate for the inspiration, comfort, and safety of the city she called home. She is hopelessly lost--until, serendipitously, she reconnects with an old friend/rival turned current Elliot resident, Jess. Pleased to demonstrate her social superiority to Lainie, Jess helps her find a footing, even encouraging Lainie to develop as an artist; but what looks like friendship is quickly supplanted by a betrayal with earth-shattering impact, and a move to the suburbs becomes a metaphor for a woman who must search to find a new home ground in the shifting winds of marriage, family, career, and friendship.
This looks like it will be one that you can't put down.  

A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan....In A Window Opens, Elisabeth Egan
brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor, and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker, or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers—an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life—seems suddenly within reach.
Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up, and her work takes an unexpected turn. Fans of I Don’t Know How She Does It, Where’d You Go Bernadette, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she—Alice Pearse—really want?

I want to go to a literary lounge.  I have no idea what it is, but it sounds awesome.


From Edelweiss

The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich....It's wintertime in the Hamptons,
where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father,
Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine—Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor's booze—only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor's bedroom turn off. It's clearly a timer . . .but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there's something about that light he can't let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn't felt in a long time. Soon, it's not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can't restart the passion. 

Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations. 

This looks so creepy.  The perfect winter read.


In the Mail

The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne....One of Sarah's daughters died. But can
she be sure which one? 

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives. 
But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity--that she, in fact, is Lydia--their world comes crashing down once again.
As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, they are forced to confront what really happened on that fateful day.

This looks so good that I'm even willing to ignore the fact that the blurb on Amazon compares it to Gillian Flynn.  STOP comparing everyone to Gillian Flynn.  She is awesome, so are other authors.  Let them be who they are.

Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge (Also In the Mail)

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen....see my review here.  

Grown Ups by Robin Antalek.....From the author of The Summer We Fell
Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together.
The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.
Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella—and force her to confront her past and her friends.
After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong.
Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.

I love coming of age books.  And I love summer books and books told in alternating voices.  So this one looks like it's for me.

What I Wrote

The Art of Baking Blind....Caused Me to Overeat for Four Days Straight

Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge Kickoff

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen


This was a long post today!  I hope everyone has a great Mother's Day and a great week!  Think of me as I learn to commute.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen




What They Say....For the first time in decades I’m remembering Mom, all of her--the wonderful and terrible things about her that I’ve cast out of my thoughts for so long. I’m still struggling to prevent these memories from erupting from their subterranean depths. Trying to hold back the flood. I can’t, not today. The levees break.

Thirty years after her death, Alice Eve Cohen’s mother appears to her, seemingly in the flesh, and continues to do so during the hardest year Alice has had to face: the year her youngest daughter needs a harrowing surgery, her eldest daughter decides to reunite with her birth mother, and Alice herself receives a daunting diagnosis. As it turns out, it’s entirely possible for the people we’ve lost to come back to us when we need them the most.

Although letting her mother back into her life is not an easy thing, Alice approaches it with humor, intelligence, and honesty. What she learns is that she must revisit her childhood and allow herself to be a daughter once more in order to take care of her own girls. Understanding and forgiving her mother’s parenting transgressions leads her to accept her own and to realize that she doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good mother.


What I Say....This was an engrossing read.  And perfectly timed for Mother's Day.

The author is one of three daughters to a complicated woman.  Alice's mother sounds like she was part of the generation that had just started to question the way woman were treated in the world, and in marriage in the eyes of society.  I've always thought this had to be one of the hardest times in the world to be a woman.  Now add in her fight for civil rights, along with the semi-overt anti-Semitism in their own neighborhood, and I can see why her mother seemed withdrawn and angry.

I had heard a bit about the DES daughters, but it was eye opening to see that this affected three generations in this family.  To see the "cure" for a miscarriage continue to cause health issues and infertility was heartbreaking in it's irony.

I can totally identify with the way the author beat herself up for not being the perfect mother, the struggle with depression, the wanting to take your child's pain on yourself.  I think most mothers can.  But as she learned from her mother's visits, everyone does the best that they can with the tools that they have.  And if you are doing the best you can and you truly care, that is what your kids will eventually see.

At first read, her mother's sudden death after finally declaring herself to be the happiest she's ever been was crushing.  But after I had time to think about it, how wonderful that she had the chance to experience that happiness before she passed.  How awful would it to be to die unhappy?  Motivation for all of us in the thick of motherhood's stressors.

Great writing, great read.  

Happy Mother's Day!

Thank you to Booksparks for the review copy!  I'm happy to be part of the Summer Reading Challenge 2015!



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Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge 2015- Kickoff of The Year My Mother Came Back




I am so excited to be part of the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge 2015!!!!

I function so much better under a schedule, so this is perfect for me.  It also gives me a chance to try some new authors that I hadn't heard of, and to read some of my all-time favorites, like Jane Green.

I got my first books in the mail this week, and the packaging was so cute that it was like receiving a surprise gift!



Isn't that the cutest?  It totally made my day.

I sat down last night to start the book.  I was a little anxious because I normally don't enjoy biographies unless they are really well written.  But by the next time I looked up, I was more than halfway through the book.  It reads so much like fiction that I headed over to Amazon to double check that this was really a memoir.  

The book starts out, "One day, my brilliant, beautiful, complicated mother appeared at my kitchen table, thirty-one years after her death.  
This is a story of mothers and daughters.  My mother, my daughters.  My mother's daughter, my daughters' mothers.  This is the story of a year."

That's all it took to reel me in.  I'm the mother of three daughters and the daughter of a complicated mother.  I feel like this book was written just for me.

What about you?  Do you have any favorite memoirs?  

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Friday, May 8, 2015

The Art of Baking Blind....caused me to overeat for four days straight



  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 5, 2015)

What They Say....There are many reasons to bake: to feed; to create; to impress; to nourish; to define ourselves; and, sometimes, it has to be said, to perfect. But often we bake to fill a hunger that would be better filled by a simple gesture from a dear one. We bake to love and be loved. 

In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookbook writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes. Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs. Eaden. There's Jenny, facing an empty nest now that her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife's death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it's like to have nothing and is determined her facade shouldn't slip.

As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest pastry seems the least of the contestants' problems. For they will learn--as as Mrs. Eaden did before them--that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in life.

What I Say....Sometimes when you are reading a debut author, it can feel disjointed, as they try to find their voice.  This wasn't one of those times.  Sarah Vaughn has an assured, steady voice, and created a variety of characters that you cared about.  She wrote the older, overweight contestant as well as she wrote the cash strapped, young single mom.  Her presentation of Mrs. Eaden's story was just as interesting as the characters of today.
She also wrote the food....very well.  I was seriously craving baked goods the entire time I was reading this book - NOT GOOD!  The descriptions of the baking and it's results made you want to run to the nearest bakery to try everything in the book.
My only real complaint, and it's not a complaint, but rather a suggestion from the readers point of view, is that there were maybe one too many main characters.  I think trying to tell five (six if you count Mike, which I don't, he really should have just been a side character in Claire's story) very interesting stories, left it feeling a bit incomplete.  I think had there only been three (I would have eliminated either Vicki or Karen), we could have gotten even deeper into their storylines and felt more passionately about each of them.  
When you read the description of the book, it may not appeal to some, who will think it is just bland chick lit, but there was a definite grittiness to the character's backstories that made it a lot more interesting.  I think the author should pursue those storylines a little deeper, and paring down on the main characters would give her the chance to follow them further into their world. 
As a reader, I was left wanting to know more about all of them.  Maybe a follow up on Karen is in order?  I think her story truly could have been a stand alone novel.
Definitely a new author worth watching out for.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for this ARC in return for an honest review.
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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Weekly Book Haul.....May 3, 2015





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.

Summer is finally here!  We hit 100 in Arizona yesterday and the pool is up to 75, so today should see me floating with a good book.  It's my favorite way to relax.

I had an exciting add week.  I have been trying to go easy on adding new books to my TBR pile, but there were so many books I really wanted to read that I couldn't resist.

The highlight of my book week was getting an ARC of the upcoming Alice Hoffman book.  She is definitely one of my all time favorite authors and this looks like a good one.

I loved Laura Elliot's Stolen Child, so I was really excited to get the chance to read Prodigal Daughter.

And I got some approval from St. Martin's Press, which publishes some of my favorite authors.  They rarely have a miss in my book, so I'm always happy to take a chance on their debut authors.

Here's what I got.

From NetGalley

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler....I came across this book at
auction as part of a larger lot I purchased on speculation. The damage renders it useless to me, but a name inside it led me to believe it might be of interest to you or your family....

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off to join the circus six years ago.
One June day, an old book arrives on Simon's doorstep. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things-including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of "mermaids" in Simon's family have drowned-always on July 24, which is only weeks away.
As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Could there be a curse on Simon's family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he stop it in time to save Enola?
The Prodigal Sister by Laura Elliot....Cathy fled her Dublin home was she
was just fifteen years old, and pregnant. Starting a new life in New Zealand with her son Conor, and new partner Lyle, she believes the secret she carries will never be revealed…
Rebecca was eighteen when her parents died and she took responsibility for her younger sisters. Years later, she is haunted by fears she hoped she'd conquered.
Freed from family duties, mother of three Julie is determined to recapture the dreams of her youth but at what price? 
Married to a possessive older man, Lauren embarks on a frantic love affair that threatens to destabilise her fragile world.

Anxious to make peace with her three sisters, Cathy invites them to her wedding. But as the women journey together through New Zealand towards their reunion, they are forced to confront the past as the secret shared histories of the Lambert sisters are revealed.

Accompany the Lambert sisters on their unforgettable journey – fans of Jojo Moyes and Liane Moriarty will be spellbound.


Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton....In such a small community as the
Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely...

When another child goes missing, and then a third, it's no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. 
Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation.
And suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise.
But three islanders--Catrin, her childhood best friend, Rachel, and her ex-lover Callum--are hiding terrible secrets. And they have two things in common: all three of them are grieving, and none of them trust anyone, not even themselves.

From Edelweiss

Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day....OLD RIVALRIES NEVER DIE. BUT
SOME RIVALS DO.

Juliet Townsend is used to losing. Back in high school, she lost every track team race to her best friend, Madeleine Bell. Ten years later, she’s still running behind, stuck in a dead-end job cleaning rooms at the Mid-Night Inn, a one-star motel that attracts only the cheap or the desperate. But what life won’t provide, Juliet takes. 

Then one night, Maddy checks in. Well-dressed, flashing a huge diamond ring, and as beautiful as ever, Maddy has it all. By the next morning, though, Juliet is no longer jealous of Maddy—she’s the chief suspect in her murder.

To protect herself, Juliet investigates the circumstances of her friend’s death. But what she learns about Maddy’s life might cost Juliet everything she didn’t realize she had.


The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman....From the New York Times 
bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things: a forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro—the Father of Impressionism.

Growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel’s mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for being a difficult girl who refuses to live by the rules. Growing up, Rachel’s salvation is their maid Adelle’s belief in her strengths, and her deep, life-long friendship with Jestine, Adelle’s daughter. But Rachel’s life is not her own. She is married off to a widower with three children to save her father’s business. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Frédérick, arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes her own life story, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal that affects all of her family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.
Building on the triumphs of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, set in a world of almost unimaginable beauty, The Marriage of Opposites showcases the beloved, bestselling Alice Hoffman at the height of her considerable powers. Once forgotten to history, the marriage of Rachel and Frédérick is a story that is as unforgettable as it is remarkable.


The Telling by Jo Baker....Rachel travels to her mother's isolated country
house in order to put her mother's affairs in order. 

However, along with the memories of her mother, Rachel feels something else, a presence. She grows ever more convinced that the house holds a message for her. 

Can the ghosts of the past be nudging their way into the present?


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