Tuesday, August 30, 2016

One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison

What They Say.....Meet Prinny, Chelsea and Diana. Prinny is the owner of Cosmos, a shop that sells crystals, potions, candles, and hope. It’s also a place where no one turns down a little extra-special cocktail that can work as a romance potion or heal a broken heart. But Prinny is in love with her married lawyer and she’ll need nothing short of magic to forget about him. 
Chelsea works as a living statue at tourist sites around Washington, DC. It's a thankless job, but it helps pay the rent. That, and her part-time job at Cosmos. As her dream of becoming a successful actress starts to seem more remote and the possibility of being a permanently struggling one seems more realistic, Chelsea begins to wonder: at one point do you give up on your dreams? And will love ever be in the cards for her?
Diana Tiesman is married to Leif, a charismatic man who isn’t faithful. But no matter how many times he lets her down, Diana just can't let him go. She knows the only way she can truly breakaway is if she leaves and goes where he will never think to follow. So she ends up at Cosmos with Leif’s stepsister, where she makes her homemade teas and tinctures as she figures out whether she'd rather be lonely alone than lonely in love.
In Beth Harbison's One Less Problem Without You, three women suddenly find themselves together at their own very different crossroads. It will take hope, love, strength and a little bit of magic for them to find their way together.

What I Say......Today I got home after a very long day at work, where all I kept thinking about was going home and putting on my pajamas and doing nothing.  However, as I got out of my car, my phone fell out of my purse, face down and the screen shattered.  Shattered to the point that I was afraid I would cut my fingers if I tried to use it.  So I walked and fed the dog and got back in the car to go to the Apple store.

So here I sit, hungry, tired, crabby.  But I figured as long as I had the time and a nice laptop in front of me, I might as well knock out a review.  It might distract me from gnawing off my own arm.

So onto the book.  This book was really cute, and an easy read.  Prinny is a poor little rich girl, orphaned with a brother who despises her, and a lawyer who wants to protect her.  I really liked her character, but can we not with the name Prinny?  Short for Princess, of course.  It was a super annoying moniker for a character who didn't annoy me at all.

Chelsea works for Prinny and as a living statue (put another job on my never do list) as she struggles to make her big break.  But her idea of a big break really isn't that big, as she's fighting for roles in local plays.  She's a fake psychic who has learned to read people, so she works in Prinny's shop - even though Prinny has true psychic gifts, it doesn't seem to bother her that Chelsea is more of an empath and an actress than truly gifted.

Diana is married to Lief, the aforementioned brother who hates Prinny and wants her inheritance.  It is constantly insinuated that he could somehow get it away from her if she doesn't use it - you know, like opening psychic shops usually placates people who hate you.

So as I type all of this - it sounds like the story shouldn't work, but it does.  I found myself rooting for all three women, even dumb dumb Chelsea who drank herself into a really bad situation.

I love chick lit, so it definitely worked for me, and I read it within a few days.  it was the kind of book that helped you to relax.  Right now, I'm reading Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, and it is not relaxing at all.  It's scaring the crap out of me.  Freaks.

One thing that seemed super weird to me was the cover of this book and the title.  Neither one really fit into the story - it was really a cross between chick lit and magical realism, and the martini glass never really played a large role in the book.  At least not that I noticed. 

 photo signature_zpsc91ef999.png

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Weekly Book Haul......August 28, 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.

I've had a pretty busy week.  It was my birthday on Friday, so I feel like I've done nothing but go out to eat and get gifts - a nice way to spend a weekend!!

I ended up at Olive Garden Friday night, it used to be my favorite place to go eat way too much.  But I haven't been there in a long time, and I don't know if it's either my tastebuds or if their recipes have changed, but the marinara sauce was WAY different.  It tasted like tomato sauce.  So I switched to the Pasta Fagoli and it was weirdly different too.  Maybe it's just because I've been eating whole foods and a macro plan for six months, but I was wildly disappointed.  I still think they changed their sauce.  Then the manager came over and told us that the marinara sauce "used to come in pouches but now it comes in cans, so maybe that's the difference.".  Umm, yuck.  I didn't need to hear that.

Onward and upward.  My oldest daughter and I drove to Sedona yesterday and had our tarot cards read.  One of the cards drawn on me was Nothing-ness.  Which scared the crap out of me, because i thought that meant I was dying.  But apparently, it's a very powerful card which means the space before a new beginning.  Which is exactly how I feel right now.  I'm ready for the next chapter in my life.

I've got to get caught up on my reviews because I've read a bunch of great books lately, but I'm so wiped out by the time I get home from work that opening my laptop seems like an olympian task.

Has anyone read Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris?  I keep seeing a lot of buzz around it, and they had a pretty big mailing campaign around it, where I got spooky letters from a hotel.  I've got it sitting on my end table pile of books and I'll probably start it next.  I'm wondering if it lives up to the hype?


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

Hey Harry, Hey Matilda by Rachel Hulin....Hey Harry, Hey Matilda is the
story—told entirely in hilarious emails—of fraternal twins Harry and Matilda Goodman as they fumble into adulthood, telling lies and keeping secrets, and finally confronting their complicated twinship. 

Matilda Goodman is an underemployed wedding photographer grappling with her failure to live as an artist and the very bad lie she has told her boyfriend (that she has a dead twin). Harry, her (totally alive) brother, is an untenured professor of literature, anxiously contemplating his publishing status (unpublished) and sleeping with a student. 

When Matilda invites her boyfriend home for Thanksgiving to meet the family, and when Harry makes a desperate—and unethical—move to save his career, they set off an avalanche of shame, scandal, and drunken hot tub revelations that force them to examine the truth about who they really are. A wonderfully subversive, sensitive novel of romantic entanglement and misguided ambition, Hey Harry, Hey Matilda is a joyful look at love and family in all its forms.

 photo signature_zpsc91ef999.png

Thursday, August 25, 2016

If You Left by Ashley Prentice Norton

What They Say.....For most of their marriage, Althea has fluctuated between extreme depressive and manic states — what she calls “the Tombs” and “the Visions” — and Oliver has been the steady hand that guided her to safety. This summer, Althea decides that she will be different from here on. She will be the loving, sexy wife Oliver wants, and the reliable, affectionate mother their nine year-old daughter Clem deserves. Her plan: to bring Clem to their Easthampton home once school is out — with no “summer girl” to care for her this time — and become “normal.”

But Oliver is distant and controlling, and his relationship with their interior decorator seems a bit too close; Clem has learned to be self-sufficient, and getting to know her now feels like very hard work for Althea. Into this scene enters the much younger, David Foster Wallace–reading house painter, who reaches something in Althea that has been long buried.

Fearless, darkly funny, and compulsively readable, If You Left explores the complex dance that is the bipolar marriage, and the possibility that to move forward, we might have to destroy the very things we've worked hardest to build.

What I Say....The story starts off with a bang.  Althea is attempting to commit suicide after her husband and daughter leave for the day.  We discover that this is a semi-regular occurrence at their house, and the nanny calls her husband who comes home and begins the well practiced routine of preparing her for admission to a psychiatric facility.

But when Althea comes home, she senses that her husband might be running out of patience with her illness.  While she vacillates between crushing depression and manic episodes, one thing that never changes is her complete disinterest in her adopted daughter, Clem.  Having a child was her husband's idea, and he is devoted to Clem.  But Althea has never really bonded with Clem, and now finds herself unable to relate to the young woman living in her house.  And Clem doesn't seem to need Althea either.

Althea decides to take Clem to their summer house without a nanny so that she can build a relationship with her, the idea is that if she has to care for her, she will.  None of this is driven by any maternal desire, but more out of a rising anxiety driven by her husband's vague threats of "things needing to change".

In the beginning, Oliver seems to be a beacon of strength and patience.  But then we find that he flaunts his affairs right under her nose at parties, and she just smiles and ignores it.  

And now, Oliver has sent a colleague from work with Althea and Clem to the summer house so that she can help them redecorate.  Never mind that Althea doesn't want her to come, Oliver insists.  It's obvious right away that this woman has other intentions towards Oliver, but Althea doesn't think it's okay to resist since she just got out of the mental ward.

As the summer progresses, Althea becomes enamored with a young painter who is working on her house.  She imagines that he is a deep and complex thinker, and begins obsessing about him.  She spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about him, forcing him to talk to her - even when he doesn't seem that interested.

To me, this wasn't a love story.  It was the story of mental illness.  Althea breaks free of Oliver, gives up on trying to mother Clem, and decides to stay in the summer house.  

She's lucky that she has family money to back this, but this didn't feel like a happy ending to me.  Because when "the Tombs" (what Althea calls her suicide inducing depression) comes back, no one will be there to save her, bathe her and get her help.  

So what's the best thing - to stay with a husband who blatantly cheats, but who is there when you need it the most?  To make yourself mother a child that you don't feel attached to, or to just let it go so that you aren't forcing it anymore?

I couldn't put this book down, I read it in one day, but it was a disturbing read that left me a bit melancholy for the next few days.  It's a pretty realistic read for anyone who loves someone who has struggled with mental illness - which is almost all of us.

 photo signature_zpsc91ef999.png

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

Hardcover448 pages
Expected publication: January 24th 2017 by Crown

What They Say......Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. 

Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past. Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. 

Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and sometime-aunt to Callie, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. 

Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

Why I Say.....I had read The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry but it was years ago, so when I started reading this book, I saw some characters that I vaguely remembered.  And there were a few, but really this was a brand new story set in Salem.

Callie was a small child when she was found hidden in some bushes, clutching a wooden five petal rose in her hand on the night her mother and her friends were found murdered, dropped into a crevice associated with the ancient Salem witch trials.

When she returns to Salem to help the woman who saved her that night so long ago, Callie discovers a side of her mother's story that she didn't know about.  Her mother and her friends were known as the Goddesses, but not just for their witchy ancestors, but because of their seduction of the local townsmen.  Not for love, or for money, but just because they could.  Which adds a possible motive for their murders.

In the meantime, Callie starts to develop a relationship with the local rich boy, who may or may not be ready for an adult relationship, as his mother is dying and his relationship with his father is strained.  Callie begins to treat his mother with her singing bowls, as she is a sound healer with a gift.

Meanwhile, local police chief, Rafferty, is investigating the Goddess's death, as the main suspect has now been involved with a new murder.  She was once a respected Salem scholar, but now is the crazy, homeless lady who predicts strangers deaths and claims that the banshee that killed the Goddesses is now responsible for this latest death.

I really enjoyed this book, but there was a LOT going on.  If I recall, I thought the same thing about The Lace Reader.  I think the book could have been about 50-100 pages less, and been about 20% better.  For example, the trip to Italy really didn't seem to add anything to the storyline.  I kept waiting for it's significance to appear, but if it was there - I didn't see it.

I really like these books, but I think I would love them if they were a little more succinct.  They tend to meander a bit.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.88

 photo signature_zpsc91ef999.png

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekly Book Haul......August 21, 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.

The previews for The Light Between Oceans made me interested enough to buy the book, but now I'm seeing reviews that say the book is pretty slow.  So it dropped down on my TBR list by a few.  I almost always prefer the book, so I wanted to read it first.  Very few movies ever really pull the feel of the book through for me.  I would say one notable exception was The Shawshank Redemption.  That was an amazing movie.

I bought a new car this week and I'm suffering some pretty severe buyer's remorse.  Three years ago, I bought my midlife crisis car, a little VW Eos convertible.  I loved it, I really did.  But it was pretty small inside, which didn't matter because it's usually only me.  But the trunk was tiny because it was a hard top convertible.  So even if I wanted to go to Home Depot and buy flowers, I couldn't fit the in without spilling soil all over the trunk or squashing them. And I drive on the freeway a lot.  I had a few moments were I felt close to being squashed by the bigger cars next to me.

So all the reasons were there, and I did it.  I bought a Jeep Cherokee Overland, and it's definitely the most loaded car that I've ever bought.  It can pretty much drive itself and has every safety feature you could add, including blind spot monitoring, cross body cameras that alert you if anyone is getting too close, forward collision warning and back up camera, plus many, many more.  

I know most people are super happy whenever they buy a new car, but I'm always sick for days after making a major purchase.  This felt like a major decision, because they don't make the Eos anymore.  So once it was gone, it was gone forever.  

And the VW emissions scandal dropped the trade in value of my car significantly, which was a major kick in the gut.  My car wasn't even diesel, but apparently the trust in VW was so significantly affected, that all VW's are down in resale.  I never understand why people try to get away with things like this, but I'll never buy a VW again.

So just by my little soliloquy here, you can tell this was a major decision in my life.  Still not sure I made the right one, but since it's done, I need to figure out how to make my peace with it.

But back to books.  Here's what I go this week.......


Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard....Blue skies, new
love, and a glass of Bordeaux . . . what could possibly go wrong?

When Emmy Jamieson leaves her life behind and moves to La Cour des Roses, a gorgeous guesthouse amidst vineyards in France, everything is resting on her success as the new guesthouse manager. 

Looming in the calendar is the biggest booking ever, when the entire eccentric, demanding Thomson family will descend for a golden wedding anniversary. With airbeds on the floor and caravans in the garden, La Cour des Roses will be bursting at the seams.

Emmy knows she’s up to the challenge, especially with the support of the gorgeous Alain, the half-French, half-English, caramel-eyed accountant. But she hadn’t counted on a naked, sleepwalking travel blogger, or the return of owner Rupert’s venomous ex-wife Gloria.

Gloria has a few things to say about Emmy’s new role, Rupert’s finances, and the unsuspecting Alain, which send everybody reeling. Just when Emmy can see a future for herself of endless sunshine, true love and laughter, are her dreams about to be ripped at the seams?

Lizzie's Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow.....A gorgeous country house
hotel, a liberal dusting of snow, a cosy weekend away…what more could Lizzie ask for at Christmas? 

Every Christmas Lizzie promises herself that things will change and she will leap into the new year a new woman. And yet here she is again, at the beginning of December and nothing is different. Her girls have grown up and left home, her husband Henry is slumped in front of the TV and she is alone in the kitchen, seeking refuge in the cooking sherry and talking to her Gary Barlow calendar. She’s also been very diverted by handsome new neighbour Marcus and she knows she shouldn’t be … 

So when best friend Ann suggests a weekend away in the country, Lizzie jumps at the chance. Will this Christmas escape give Lizzie some much needed perspective and allow her to mend her marriage? Or will Marcus prove to be too much of a distraction? 

 photo signature_zpsc91ef999.png

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....August 14, 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.

It's that time of year where summer is winding down back in the midwest and everyone is getting excited for fall.   In Arizona, this is the time of year where everyone starts to get very short tempered and just generally sick of the heat.  It's similar to the end of winter in Illinois.  You get little glimpses of spring, and then the late March snowstorm hits and brings with it overwhelming despair.

In Arizona, it's just the reverse.  You go from your house to work and back again, spending as little time as possible outside in God's oven.  So by the end of August, you are sick of being trapped inside, even your pool water is too hot, and you're ready for winter.

Since I'm from the midwest originally, I'm all about fall and football weather.  It feels unnatural here when I start watching the Bears in 109 degree weather.  I want blankets, crisp air and chili.  None of which are part of an Arizona fall.

I'm still slogging through my TBR pile - I need to power through some reviews today because I've read a lot, but I'm behind on my reviews.

Only one add this week - and it's a Christmas book!  Sadly, I still never received the August Booksparks box.  They've gone through some personnel changes, so I'm not sure what's going on, but it's better for me to start working through my NetGalley pile.


A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham.....Nestled in the Cornish village of
Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic … 

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea - a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright. 

But there is trouble ahead. It soon emerges that Stuart has been keeping secrets from Ivy, and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever. 

When Ivy stumbles across a letter from her mother hidden in an old writing desk, secrets from the past come hurtling into the present. But could her mother’s words help Ivy in her time of need? Ivy is about to discover that the future is full of unexpected surprises and Christmas at Sea Cottage promises to be one to remember. 

 photo signature_zpsc91ef999.png

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....August 7, 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.

The world calmed down this week, so I was able to finish three books - yay, me!

I only added one new book because I've got so much on my TBR pile, it's getting gross.  Once it hits a certain level, I get antsy.  But then I see something that I just have to have......

My contact at Booksparks has moved to San Francisco, so I'm not sure if they are just in transition with a new person, or if I somehow dropped off the list, but I haven't gotten my August Summer Reading Challenge box.  I was pretty bummed, but then I realized that I've got plenty on my Kindle just waiting for my attention.

I got a nice credit from Barnes and Noble from the big ebook lawsuit - that seems so long ago.  But I kept hoarding it until I got an email that said use it or lose it.  So I bought Truly Madly Guilty by Liane MoriartyThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanTricky Twenty Two by Janet Ivanovich, and Night Shift by Charlaine Harris.  An eclectic group of books for sure, but I'll still be excited to get them.  Since I got these books with a credit that I didn't do much to earn, I got all hardbacks so I can give them away when I'm done.

If you are ever looking for a great place to give your books away too - I would of course always recommend your local nursing homes or assisted living facilities, but also consider your local hospital rehab units or high risk Obstetrical units, where many moms are on bedrest for months.

I know everyone was raving about The Light Between Oceans, but I never got on that bandwagon.  Then I saw the trailer for the movie and I was intrigued.

All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris......Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small Georgia town: four kids vanish from the school soccer field in an afternoon. Aurora’s 15-year-old brother Phillip is one of them. Also gone are two of his friends, and an 11-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. And then there’s an even worse discovery—at the kids’ last known destination, a dead body.
While the local police and sheriff’s department comb the county for the missing kids and interview everyone even remotely involved, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the death and kidnappings have anything to do with a group of bullies at the middle school? Is Phillip’s disappearance related to Aurora’s father’s gambling debts? Or is Phillip himself, new to town and an unknown quantity, responsible for taking the other children? But regardless of the reason, as the days go by, the most important questions remain. Are the kids still alive? Who could be concealing them? Where could they be?
With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother…if he’s still alive. 
After more than a decade, #1 New York Times bestseller Charlaine Harris finally returns to her fan-favorite Aurora Teagarden series with All the Little Liars, a fabulously fun new mystery.

 photo signature_zpsc91ef999.png

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

What They Say....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 Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

What I Say.....Sarah Pekkanen has always been one of my favorites, but honestly, I think this was her best book yet.
I belong to a neighborhood Facebook group and some of the entries on it are strikingly similar to Newport Coves, except some of the ones on ours are even worse.  The simplest things can cause huge controversies and sometimes you get to see a side of people you really didn't want to.  Pictures of bad parking jobs are posted, if someone thinks you are driving too fast, your kids are too loud when they are playing, or your dog barks at the wrong time, watch out.  You will have a day long debate amongst people who don't even know you or what your side of the story is.  I think the post that had the most comments was one where people were debating whether people in the neighboring community had the right to use the community park, since they don't pay HOA fees.  The highlight reel was that someone suggested installing a fence where you needed ID checked to make sure you were a resident, the people from the neighboring community were called trespassers and it culminated in one older real estate agent asking the people who disagreed with him to meet him at the park to fight.  It was truly magical people watching, and it opened your eyes to the people who live next to you.

Newport Cove sounds a lot like my community.  When Tessa's family moves in, the neighborhood ladies are intrigued when she seems to be uninterested in becoming part of their neighborhood clique, but Tessa has bigger fish to fry.  She is just trying to keep her family afloat and protecting their secret.

Tessa's husband is a walking zombie after the unspoken thing happened in their old neighborhood.  So she's distracted and making herself look more suspicious by avoiding her friendly new neighbors.

Susan is still in the throes of a traumatic divorce.  She has created a great business, helping the elderly people who are living far from their children, visiting, driving to doctor's appointments, and bringing them goodies.  But as her business bloomed, her marriage faded.  Her ex-husband is happily ensconced in a house with her former friend, and Susan makes a habit out of torturing herself by parking and staring at their home.

Who amongst us hasn't had an ex where you did the drive-by?  Why?  I have no idea, because it just makes you more miserable.  But you get over it and you move on.  But Susan is having a hard time with that, made worse by the fact that her ex and his new girlfriend live in the same neighborhood and have the same friends.

Kellie's got a great husband and a loving family, but as she goes back to work, she's dallying with the idea of an affair with her hot co-worker.  Why?  Because she's bored.  

Gigi's husband wants to be a Congressman, even though she's a semi-regular pot smoker, complete with a sullen teenaged daughter.  Gigi mostly seems bemused by the whole political scene, except she worries how her kids will be impacted by the whole thing.  And when her husband's campaign manager moves into her basement, her daughter starts changing before her eyes - but for the better.  But Gigi's still worried.

So basically I could see many women I already know in these characters.  Sometimes it seems like everyone is basically living the same life, with only slightly different experiences.

This is probably one of my favorite books that I've read this summer.  

Current Goodreads Rating 3.70

 photo signature_zpsc91ef999.png

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Choices We Make by Karma Brown

What I Say.....Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate's skirt with a mirror. While they've been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can't help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls. 

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah's heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it's Kate's turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah's surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so. 

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of two mothers, one incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.

What I Say.....I feel like this has been the year of infertility books.  I've read Dear Thing by Julie Cohen and Saving Abby by Steena Holmes, and now The Choices We Make by Karma Brown - what a great name.

So Hannah and Kate have been best friends their whole lives, and while Kate has created the ideal family, two daughters and a husband who worships her - Hannah has the doting husband, but has been unable to have a child, even after multiple rounds of IVF.

Kate decides to offer her eggs and body to carry a baby for Hannah, even though it's initially over the objections of her husband.  He loves that she wants to help her friend but can't help wondering what this will do to their family.

Well, he's right.  Don't read any further if you hate any type of spoiler, although I won't give it completely away.  But I think when you have this very altruistic idea - it doesn't seem like anything could really go wrong, outside of not getting pregnant or having a miscarriage.  But that's not all that happens to Kate - she experiences a significant health crisis, which threatens the bonds between the families.

Some of Hannah's responses didn't ring true.  Although, you can understand that she would be very concerned about the baby, it doesn't make sense that she can just disconnect her feelings or concern about Kate, in favor of an unborn child.  Although, maybe it does.  Thankfully, I've never known anyone in a situation like this, but it definitely could, and probably has, happened.

It was a good story, but the nurse in me was annoyed with everyone ignoring the red flags of what was coming, along with the tidy wrap up of everyone's emotions.   That part of the story just sucked.  Because you knew there was no happily ever after for this story.

 photo signature_zpsc91ef999.png