Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekly Book Haul......February 28, 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.

What a week.  I am continuing to work out, but the scale isn't moving much.  Being mid-40's sucks.  When you're 20, you can go to the gym for three days and lose 10 pounds.  Middle aged weight loss? Not so easy.  But I'm determined.  I recently had some issues at work and as I was relating it to my therapist (yep, I have one, and I am not ashamed), he said my weight might be part of the problem.  He said research has proved that people are much more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to people who are in shape.  I was stunned silent.  I guess I've never considered my weight to be a career issue.  I'm not hideous, I dress professionally and prettily (I think), so that was a statement that made me come home and think.  I'm not sure what I think, but it's definitely on my mind.

I've been reading Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes this week, and it is soooo good.  I didn't read her first book, You, but I have definitely put this on my TBR list.

Fellside by M.R. Carey......The unmissable and highly original new thriller from
the author of the international phenomenon The Girl with all the Gifts.
Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulston could be spending the rest of her life.

It's a place where even the walls whisper.

And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.

Some Women by Emily Liebert......Annabel Ford has everything under
control, devoting her time to her twin boys and keeping her household running smoothly. But when her husband of a decade announces that he’s leaving, she’s blind-sided. And suddenly her world begins to unravel.

Piper Whitley has always done her best to balance it all—raising her daughter Fern by herself while advancing her career as a crime reporter. Only now that she’s finally met the man of her dreams, Fern’s absentee father shows up, throwing everything into a tailspin.

Married to the heir of a thriving media conglomerate, Mackenzie Mead has many reasons to count her blessings. But with an imperious mother-in-law—who’s also her boss—and a husband with whom she can no longer seem to connect, something has to give.

On the surface, these three women may not have much in common, but just when they each need someone to lean on, their lives are thrust together, forming unlikely friendships that help each woman navigate her new reality.

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell.....Imagine that you live on a
picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense. Fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes will be captivated by The Girls in the Garden, the next unforgettable novel by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell. 

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig

What They Say.....New York Times bestselling authors Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig present a masterful collaboration—a rich, multigenerational novel of love and loss that spans half a century....

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel's portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate?  And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother?  In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known.  But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room? 

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

What I Say.....Oh my goodness.  I could NOT put this book down.  I have read Karen White before and liked her, read Beatriz Williams and LOVED her, and have never read Lauren Willis but will now be looking for her.  

I assume each one wrote one of the storylines as this was the story of three generations connected by the same history and the same mansion, all in incredibly different ways.

The story spans generations, and goes before the Second World War, to the time of upstairs/downstairs mansions, the servants and the families that they serve.  I always find these types of stories so fascinating, as you see the class divide, but how many people crossed those lines for love. 

Olive's story was my favorite.  She wanted so badly to believe that love could break down the walls, but her doubt was her own worst enemy.

I don't want to give any spoilers away because I want everyone to read this for themselves.  It was very reminiscent of one of my all time favorite books, The Shell Seekers.  I am such a sucker for WWII stories, complete with star-crossed love.  In that era, people were more concerned about doing what was right rather than doing whatever they wanted.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go buy all the Karen White, Lauren Willig and Beatriz William's books.

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Weekly Book Haul......February 21, 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.

This has been a busy week - the weather has been fabulous - in the 80's every day.  Which means it's too hot for tights or pantyhose anymore, so guess what middle aged dummy went to get a spray tan yesterday?  This dummy.  And since I'm no spray tan expert, my palms are looking a little orange.  So I guess I'll be doing extra dishes today, praying that Dawn dishwashing liquid helps me out before I show up like a fool at work tomorrow with Oompa Loompa hands.

I finished a great book this week, Nowhere Girl.  I thought it was going to be the usual thriller, but it was completely unusual.  I'll post a review later this week.

I went for a long hike yesterday with a friend from Illinois.  She kept saying we were going for a walk, until we started climbing a mountain after I took a wrong turn.  It was pretty fun and a great head clearer.  4 miles and 22 flights of stairs climbed according to Fitbit.

If it stays this warm, it will soon be time to float in the pool and read all weekend.........


The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell.....When it comes to love, never
say never.

When Nancy discovers the expensive jewelry her husband’s been buying isn’t for her, she decamps from the Scottish countryside to her best friend Carmen’s posh Chelsea town house to sort things out.

Nancy finds herself in a surprising new world, where rock stars are nicer than you thought, social workers are not necessarily to be trusted, and the filthy rich are folks with problems just like you. Everybody falls in love with the wrong people, and the path to true love twists and turns before you discover who you really want.

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes.....Charmingly murderous antihero Joe

continues his twisted quest for the perfect love in this thrilling follow-up to the “deeply dark yet mesmerizing” You (Booklist). When Joe follows the woman he wants to marry to the West Coast, he never imagines that his obsession will lead him to such tragedy…

After the heartbreak of losing his girlfriend, Beck, Joe Goldberg thought he’d never love again. But when mysterious Amy Adam begins working for Joe at Mooney Books, he finds himself obsessed with his new employee. Amy is Beck’s opposite—she hates Twitter, she doesn’t even have an email address, she's completely unsearchable online—and she quickly captures Joe’s heart. But just before Joe can ask Amy to marry him, she disappears, leaving a trail of clues in her wake.

Joe is then forced to do something so vile, so awful that he nearly loses his mind: he moves to Los Angeles to find Amy. He is tortured by a series of aspiring Angelenos—an insufferable stand-up comedian, philistine booksellers, a money-hungry nanny, and a slutty ghostwriter—before meeting his ticket to a more luxurious world: a surgically enhanced, social media–savvy heiress named Love Quinn. But Joe can’t stop stalking Amy, despite the world opening up to him with Love on his arm. Will Joe finally escape his sordid past? Or is Love just the latest casualty in Joe’s unrelenting search for the perfect match?

When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel....Emily thinks she’s lost
everything…until a mysterious painting leads her to what she wants most in the world. The new novel from the author of international bestsellers The Sweetness of Forgetting and The Life Intended shows why her books are hailed as “engaging” (People), “absorbing” (Kirkus Reviews) and “enthralling” (Fresh Fiction).

Emily Emerson is used to being alone; her dad ran out on the family when she was a just a kid, her mom died when she was seventeen, and her beloved grandmother has just passed away as well. But when she’s laid off from her reporting job, she finds herself completely at sea…until the day she receives a beautiful, haunting painting of a young woman standing at the edge of a sugarcane field under a violet sky. That woman is recognizable as her grandmother—and the painting arrived with no identification other than a handwritten note saying, “He always loved her.”

Emily is hungry for roots and family, so she begins to dig. And as she does, she uncovers a fascinating era in American history. Her trail leads her to the POW internment camps of Florida, where German prisoners worked for American farmers...and sometimes fell in love with American women. But how does this all connect to the painting? The answer to that question will take Emily on a road that leads from the sweltering Everglades to Munich, Germany and back to the Atlanta art scene before she’s done.

Along the way, she finds herself tempted to tear down her carefully tended walls at last; she’s seeing another side of her father, and a new angle on her painful family history. But she still has secrets, ones she’s been keeping locked inside for years. Will this journey bring her the strength to confront them at last?

Only Ever You by Rebecca Drake.....Three-year-old Sophia Lassiter
disappears at the playground only to return after 40 frantic minutes-- but her mother Jill's relief is short lived. Jill is convinced the tiny dots on her daughter's arm are puncture marks. When doctors find no trace of drugs in her system, Jill accepts she won't ever know what happened during her daughter's absence and is simply grateful to have her home safely.
Except Sophia isn't safe. Three months later, she disappears again. This time from her bed at home, in the night. Working with the police and the community, Jill and her husband David are desperate to bring their little girl home. They remain hopeful---until information turns up suggesting their daughter was murdered, causing the police to turn their suspicions on the parents. Facing ugly family secrets and heart-rending evidence, Jill is still convinced her daughter is alive. But when the dragnet begins to close around them, Jill realizes the worst: if the police believe she has killed her daughter, that means they aren't out there looking for the real perpetrator. They aren't hunting for Sophie or the person who still has her.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Witches of Cambridge by Menna van Praag

What They Say.....Be careful what you wish for. If you're a witch, you might just get it.
Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It's a secret she can share only with her friends—all professors, all witches—when they gather for the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft. Amandine treasures these meetings but lately senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa's power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up. Unfortunately, Noa regards her gift as a curse. So when a seductive artist claims he can cure her, Noa jumps at the chance, no matter the cost.

Noa's not the only witch in over her head. Mathematics professor Kat has a serious case of unrequited love but refuses to cast spells to win anyone's heart. Her sister, Cosima, is not above using magic to get what she wants, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on Kat's crush, she conjures up a dangerous love triangle.

As romance and longing swirl through every picturesque side street, the witches of Cambridge find their lives unexpectedly upended and changed in ways sometimes extraordinary, sometimes heartbreaking, but always enchanting.

What I Say.....I've read Menna Van Praag's Dress Shop of Dreams, and really enjoyed it, so I was happy to receive a copy of The Witches of Cambridge.  

It was a sweet read about four witches, connected as family and friends.  Amandine is worried that her husband is having an affair, Noa thinks her ability to read people's secrets means she will always be a freak, Kat is in love with her best friend, and Cosima is heartbroken after finding out her husband has had an affair and now is expecting a child with another woman.

I am a big fan of magical realism, and this was a good read, but early Alice Hoffman is what all magical realism is judged on for me, or even current Sarah Addison Allen.  Van Praag is close, and it's almost frustrating to see how close she comes, but it's just off enough to remind you that you are reading a book. 


Cosima's death seems to be almost an afterthought - although reference was made to her blood disorder, I didn't think her death was as inevitable as it seemed.  I mean really, what was the point?

I really enjoy Van Praag, and I'll continue to read her books.  They are an easy read, and definitely take you away from reality.

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....February 14, 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.

What a week!  I went hiking last Saturday with one of my best friends, and when I came home, I suddenly had a cough deep in my chest.  Didn't feel super on Sunday and decided it must have been allergies, probably triggered by the dumb idea of exercise.  I went to work, and started some Claritin and Flonase, met my daughter for dinner, went home and began feeling more like death.

I went to work and ran over to urgent care, where I was diagnosed with pneumonia.  So I went back to work and finished out my day in a haze of coughing and fever.  Then I came home and spent the next three days on the couch, moving as little as possible, cowering in fear of the p-word.  

Let me explain, two years ago, I got pneumonia - 3 times in six months.  It was awful, but initially I kept going to work no matter how bad I felt.  I didn't stay home until the coughing was so bad that I was peeing my pants (nothing would be more awkward than peeing your chair in the middle of a meeting).  Then I stayed home and worked, sitting on a beach towel for my coughing spells.

I was tested for Valley Fever (an Arizona disease), had multiple X-rays, took multiple antibiotics, had all sorts of blood tests.  Everything was normal, except the pneumonia that I couldn't shake.  I finally had to admit that my stress level, and my refusal to rest was the real problem.  I just wouldn't give myself time to heal, because in my mind, work can't run without me.  No matter that everyone else has no problem being home sick and not taking calls, or answering emails.  I feel that Catholic guilt that compels me to keep giving until it hurts (me).

So I forced myself to stay home and rest, in the hopes that I can just kick it once this time.  The plus side of being laid flat is that the reading was awesome.  I just finished The Forgotten Room.  It was amazing, a five star read for me.  But this week, I got the newest Sarah Pekkanen, and that is always cause for celebration.  Here's what else I added this week....


Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline.....Lisa Scottoline delivers another searing,
powerful blockbuster novel that explores hot-button issues within the framework of an intricately plotted thriller. When a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps. Since it is the husband who is infertile, the heroine decides to use a donor. And all seems to be well. Three months pass and she is happily pregnant. But a shocking revelation occurs when she discovers that a man arrested for a series of brutal murders is her donor - the biological father of the child she is carrying. Delving deeper to uncover the truth, the heroine must face her worst fears, and confront a terrifying truth. Most Wanted is sure to be Lisa Scottoline's most discussed, bestselling novel yet.

Will You Won't You Want Me? by Nora Zelavansky.....Marjorie Plum isn't
your average washed up prom queen. After all, her New York City prep school was too cool for a royal court. Yet, ten years after high school graduation, she is undeniably stuck in the past and aching for that metaphorical tiara.

But when her life takes an unexpected turn, she is forced to start over, moving in to a tiny box of an apartment in Brooklyn with a musician roommate who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama. Desperate to pay rent, she starts tutoring a precocious 11-year-old girl-who becomes the unknowing Ghost of Marjorie Past, beginning a surprise-filled journey towards adulthood, where she learns about herself from the most unlikely sources: a rekindled childhood love, a grumpy (but strangely adorable) new boss, even her tutee.
In Nora Zelevansky's charming second novel, Will You Won't You Want Me?, Marjorie soon realizes only she can decide: who is the real Marjorie Plum?

The Perfect Neighbors by Sara Pekkanen.....The page-turning new novel
from the internationally bestselling author known for her “conversational writing style and a knack for making readers care about her characters” (The Washington Post) takes us into the homes of an idyllic suburban neighborhood where we discover the burning secrets hiding just below the surface.

Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US. It’s also one of the most secret-filled.

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfern

What They Say.....Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know who to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

Emotionally riveting and insightful, NO ORDINARY LIFE is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives.

What I Say.....I finished this book in one day, it was pretty compulsively readable. Why? I have no idea.

Faye was the worst character. She literally just sat back and let everyone do whatever they wanted, to her and her children. I don't usually care too much what people do with their own lives, but when you aren't a tiger mom for your kids, that's when you lose me.

Faye has been abandoned months before by her long distance truck driver husband, but she hasn't done anything about it. She's not working, not paying the bills, not doing too much, so she ends up having to move to L.A. to live with her mom.

As she attempts to get a waitressing job, her four year old daughter is "discovered" by an agent. Suddenly, they are making a Gap commercial and spending the money. This leads to a part on a family television show. Faye isn't sure if she wants this, but she knows she needs the money, so after a few minutes of angst, she just goes along with the plan.

Faye says, "There are those who lead their lives, and those whose lives lead them, and I am the latter....". That is the perfect description of Faye's life, which drove me crazy! I wanted her to stand up and get it together as her family kept falling apart.

Then her son becomes involved in the show, which is a blessing for him, as he has been suffering from selective mutism. But as things get worse and worse with Faye's older daughter, and her ex-husband comes back into town looking for a big payday, Faye can't decide anymore if she wants this or not.

I think that is the thing about her that made me the craziest, it was back and forth all of the time.


The ending with her husband didn't seem very real - one minute he's saying he's back and she better get used to it because that money is his, and then he makes an abrupt about face and does the right (?) thing and walks away from the kids and money. That didn't make much sense.

I also didn't agree with how she got her daughter off the show. Making a very public accusation that a writer on a children's show is a pedophile, even when you know for a fact that it's not true, but you edit film to make it look like he's pulling a girl's shirt up instead of trying to pull it down, that's pretty low. His wife leaves him, the whole world thinks he's a child molester, and this doesn't seem to bother Faye at all. This is the woman who offers her missing husband apple pie because she knows it will make him happy, and she's suddenly so ruthless that she can ruin an innocent man's life.

And she doesn't consider how this will impact her son, who has only had positive experiences on the show. I'm just not buying it.

But none of this stopped me from staying up late to finish this book!! I couldn't put it down!

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner

What They Say.....In this new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister's vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie… 

Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey's zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood's glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman's deepest desires collide. What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future. 

What I Say....I loved this book!!  It was such a great story about female friendships.  Violet and Audrey meet in 1930's Hollywood, while they both work at  a major movie studio.

The backdrop of the studio and the filming of Gone With the Wind was such an awesome addition to the story.  I'm a total Gone With the Wind freak, so I loved reading the little glimpses into the making of the movie.  Having Scarlett's green hat play such an integral part of the book just made it that much better.

The story follows Violet and Audrey's friendship through the years, through relationships, marriages - one partially stolen husband, a child they share.  Their feelings towards each other are always complicated, but always loyal, the way any great, long term friendships are.

I got lost in this book, and finished it in a few days.  It was a visit to another time.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

What They Say.....Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded. 

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia's accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack's past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.

What I Say.....First of all, I have to say without hesitation that I am a sincere Heather Gudenkauf fan.  I have loved all of her books and encouraged everyone to read them.

But I have to be honest, this was not her best.  Honestly, the writing didn't even feel like her.  I wondered at times if she had a ghostwriter for some weird reason, or if her publisher is rushing her to put out books before they are ready.  There had to be a reason for the weirdness of this book.

It was an excellent premise - the story had a lot of promise, but the delivery was just odd.  (Spoiler alert, don't go any further if you haven't read).

The book started off weird, with a couple married 20 years going back to the husband's small town where his aunt has been in a terrible accident.  So first of all, a happily married couple of 20 years, with no marital issues, has never, ever been to his hometown, and his wife doesn't think that's weird. 

Once they get there, they find out the aunt may have been pushed down the stairs, or eventually, we believe poisoned, although there are never any symptoms or storyline to indicate she was poisoned.  Jack's sister is accused by his cousin, and under arrest and on and on.  It was just very disjointed.

Suddenly, Sarah is smack in the middle of believing her husband is a murderer, although there is no significant reason to believe this - and a dispatcher she spoke to once is stealing a box of evidence from an old murder to lend to her for a day or two.....that the sheriff keeps in his closet instead of the evidence room.

Sarah apparently writes a syndicated advice column - this comes up suddenly, almost like a plot twist that just got added.  Suddenly she is receiving anonymous messages about dead blind mice.  Okay, this really irritated me.  As part of the wrap up, you are supposed to realize that the nursery rhymes are about the farmer's wives.  Ummm, that doesn't even make sense, since the farmer's wife cut off the tails with a carving knife, according to the nursery rhyme, the farmer's wife was the villain, not the victim.

I could go on and on about the inconsistencies in the story - like how Jack's dad was supposedly having an affair with Jack's 15 year old girlfriend (gross).  Why would she want to run away with Jack if she is having an affair with his dad?  And with all the witnesses saying teenaged Jack was angry and violent against his mother for trying to keep him away from his girlfriend - that doesn't feed into the story that she killed his mother because he would never stand up to his parents.

Oh, and by the way, no one survives a shotgun blast to the chest at close range.  No one.
None of the story flowed together well, and that's why it seemed so weird to me.  Heather Gudenkauf usually writes such intricately layered stories, this was just odd.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.......February 7, 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.

It's been a good week around here.  I got up at 415am every day and went to the gym - I was so tired every day but throughout the day I would have a sudden burst of happy thoughts - mostly that I had already worked out, so I didn't have to go after work, or feel back about that fact that I wouldn't go at all.

On Saturday, I went on a 2.88 mile hike with my friend, Windee.  Going up was painful (disclosure - we didn't go that far up), but coming down was much better.  It was a short hike, as I'm just getting started, but my goal is to climb Camelback Mountain.  I don't know why I chose this - probably because you hear everyone in Arizona talking about climbing Camelback.  Not that this should matter to me - I've lived in Arizona for 6 years and still haven't gone to the Grand Canyon, so fear of missing out is obviously not an issue for me.

I went and saw Hail, Caesar! last night.  I wasn't super impressed.  I had really high hopes because it was such a great cast, but it was a real disappointment. The most entertaining thing about the movie was one of my friends sat next to an old guy who thought the movie was hilarious - a real knee slapper.  There is nothing worse than sitting next to a talky, loud laugher at the movies.  Especially when the movie isn't that funny.  But his laughing was so over the top that it ended up making us laugh.

I did some good reading this week.  Finished Prodigal Daughter by Laura Elliott, which I loved.  Finished Heather Gudenkauf's Missing Pieces last night (I'll review tomorrow), and wasn't blown away - which is unusual because I'm such a fan of hers.

I didn't add anything from NetGalley this week, but I did buy a few.

I Bought

Fragile Lies by Laura Elliott.....His name is Michael Carmody. He is a writer and a father. His son is
lying in a coma, fighting for his life. 

Her name is Lorraine Cheevers. She is an artist and mother. An illicit affair has destroyed her marriage. 

Michael is desperate to find the couple who left his son for dead, a victim of a hit and run. 

Lorraine is desperate to start a new life for her and her daughter. 

Michael and Lorraine are about to cross paths – damaged souls, drawn to one another. 

They don’t know that their lives are already connected. 

They don’t know the web of lies surrounding them. 

They are each searching for the truth. But when they find it, it could destroy them both. 

Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Mayfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler.....This book comes from the author team that brought you the perennial
bestsellers Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations, which have more than one million copies in print worldwide. 

The authors have made 50 years of social science research accessible to the general reader, and go one step further by codifying exactly what is required to be an influencer in every situation. As leading expert change agents and communication gurus, the authors are sought after by the media for their expertise. 

They have been featured on national television including Today and CNN, and in national newspapers including USA Today and the New York Times.Features focused, intensive study of hundreds of change gurus from around the world, from individuals in small communities to the father of cognitive psychology, Albert Bandura VitalSmarts has worked with more than 300 of the Fortune 500 companies in leadership and communication skills training and has taught more than two million people through their training, seminars, and conferences.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Prodigal Sister by Laura Elliott

What They Say.....Four sisters. Four secrets. One reunion to reconcile the past.

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.

What I Say.....This book came right when I needed it.  I've been a little resistant to my blog lately, because I've been feeling like reading was work vs. fun.  Then I opened this book and fell right into the story of four orphaned sisters.

A lot of times, books aren't able to skip through time well, but this story followed Cathy's life from age 5, when her parents died all the way through adulthood, and I really didn't feel like any part of her journey was skipped.  I knew her as a sad child writing letters to her mother in heaven, then as an awkward pre-teen who morphed into a Goth as a way to belong, and then as teenage runaway, then finally as a stable, yoga loving mother.  

For me, Cathy was the main character, but looking back, any of the sisters could be your main character, because all of their stories were given time and attention.

I read A Stolen Child last year and I really enjoyed it.  But this one just cemented Laura Elliott as a go to author for me.  She reminds me of Lianne Moriarty in her ability to write about women who persevere through life even after bad things happen.  The story and characters are relatable, but in the end, always inspiring.

Right now two of her books are free on Kindle unlimited and two are $2.99!  It's the perfect time to try her!

So this is a gift that book blogging has given me, an author I may never have read otherwise.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.64

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