Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekly Book Haul....April 23, 2017

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.

Summer is rapidly approaching!!  It's getting too hot to hike - but I still did it today.  The pool is almost warm enough to start floating and reading, and Booksparks is kicking off their Summer Reading Challenge - there looks like a lot of great books on the list, and Paula Hawkins is hosting!  This will be my third summer participating and I always look forward to it.

This week I received a copy of Jane Green's new book, The Sunshine Sisters and I was jumping up and down excited!  She is one of my most favorite authors and this was like Christmas in April.

I just finished The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller, and it was so good - I thought it was going to be magical realism, but I think it was more fantasy?  It was unlike anything I had read before but the characters were so great.  I love reading debut authors.

Here's what I added this week, courtesy of Netgalley.

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green....The New York Times bestselling
author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.
Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.
As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her. 
But now the Sunshine Sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all...

Bridges: A Daphne White Novel by Maria Murnane.....It’s a piece of news
Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it. 
Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path?
What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears. 
And laughter. And love
The Marriage Pact.....In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological
suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . 
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Hello, Sunshine by Laura David....Sunshine Mackenzie truly is living the
dream. A lifestyle guru for the modern age, Sunshine is beloved by millions of people who tune into her YouTube cooking show, and millions more scour her website for recipes, wisdom, and her enticing suggestions for how to curate a perfect life. She boasts a series of #1 
New York Times bestselling cookbooks, a devoted architect husband, and a reputation for sincerity and kindness—Sunshine seems to have it all. But she’s hiding who she really is. And when her secret is revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. What Sunshine does in the ashes of destruction will save her in more ways than she can imagine.

In our modern world, where celebrity is a careful construct, Laura Dave’s compelling, enticing novel explores the devastating effect of the secrets we keep in public…and in private. Hello, Sunshine is a fresh, provocative look at a woman teetering between a scrupulously assembled life and the redemptive power of revealing the truth.

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harriagn.....In this powerful, affecting
debut, a young woman uncovers devastating secrets about the friend she thinks she killed...

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza

What They Say....When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin--the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin--her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. 

Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don't fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. 

At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman's tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. 

As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can't help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture.

What I Say....Janey has been in business with her childhood best friend, Beau selling designer wedding dresses.  But Janey has gained weight - how much, we never actually know.  But the tipping point for Beau is when she is photographed eating at a fashion show.

Beau kicks her out of her own company until she can lose some weight.  Janey begins every current fitness craze while trying to figure out her next step.

With time on her hands, she begins meeting cute guys - Jacob, a poor but principled young dad, and an older rich guy who can help return her to her normal social circles.

Janey starts taking some super secret classes from Sara Strong that all the celebrities are lining up for - but the secret tea might be the key to the euphoria everyone feels at the end of class.  That was pretty apparent from the beginning so it was less of an epiphany at the end.

This was a really funny book - I also loved their other book, The Knockoff.  This is just a really fun read, but it makes you think about the time and money we all spend worrying about our weight.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.7
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

According to a Source by Abby Stern

What They Say....We live in a society obsessed with celebrity, but have you ever wondered who is on the inside gathering the best celebrity gossip and how do they get access? According to a Source: A Novel by Abby Stern dishes on this behind the scenes world in a way that only a Hollywood insider could. 

Ella Warren works for celebrity news website, The Life, as a club reporter. She’s assigned to stake out Hollywood’s hottest clubs and spy on the celebrities inside. When Ella is pressured by her Devil Wears Prada-type boss to find an exclusive story to keep her job, she has to decide if being in Hollywood’s elite inner circle is worth jeopardizing her friendship with actress Holiday Hall, her budding romance with Holiday’s agent, and her family. 
A juicy, big-hearted novel about a young woman who loses herself in a fast-paced, glamorous world where finding your authentic self isn’t easy.

What I Say.....This was a super cute little read about a young woman who has developed a secret identity and a super secret job as an undercover Hollywood reporter.  

Ella has ben working for years as an undercover Hollywood reporter and she loves her job.  She gets to drop celebrity gossip, but tries to be fair about the information that she shares.   She's broken up with her long term boyfriend and has a bourgeoning flirtation with a Hollywood agent. 

But when her company is taken over by a new boss who wants to make a name for herself, suddenly Ella finds herself competing just to keep her job in a series of "tests" by her new boss.  She suddenly has to decide is her job is more important than her personal life and all of her relationships.

A fun beach read - you'll have fun figuring out the identity of the celebrities that she encounters.  I'd still take her job, crazy boss and all!

Current Goodreads Rating 3.75
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Guests on South Battery by Karen White

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

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

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

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

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

What I Say.....Okay, no secret that I'm a huge Karen White fan.  On Folly Beach and The Forgotten Room are two of my favorites - but the Tradd Street series routinely scares the crap out of me.  So why do I keep reading them? I have no idea, but I keep going back for more.

I like the characters, I like the scenery, and I like the stories.   But I hate the ghosts! And this one was even worse because it's a creepy doll, and a young girl ghost and her mom. I'm getting the creeps just thinking about it again.

Melanie has a mysterious stranger show up in her office when she returns to work after a year home with her twins. It seems meant to be since she is a nanny and Melanie is looking for a nanny.  Jayne moves into the house on Tradd Street with Melanie and her family.  

Suddenly everyone is experiencing creative block, including Melanie who can no longer use her ghost sensing abilities, she continues to feel like a curtain has been dropped over her third eye.  But Melanie isn't making the connection to Jayne, she is more worried about the relationship she feels is developing between her husband and the nanny - honestly, at times her jealousy seems pathological.

As the ghosts become more restless, the effects on Jayne and Melanie's life become increasingly difficult to maneuver.  Melanie has no choice but to solve the mystery before it destroys her family.

And seriously, why do I torture myself with books that make it difficult to sleep?  Every time, I say I'm never reading one of her ghost stories again, then I just fall for it all over again.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.15

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Life Without You by Shari Low

What They Say.....Dee and Jen have been best friends since their days of teenage crushes, bad 90's make-up and huge hair. 
They’ve passed every milestone of their lives together and now in their thirties own a successful boutique, sharing a bond that is as strong as the closest of sisters.
Until one day everything changes.

Dee is gone, killed by a reckless driver, leaving Jen to face the harsh reality of a world without her.

Jen vows to honour Dee’s dreams and take care of everything and everyone she loved.

Until she realises that sometimes the only way forward is to let go of the past.

What I Say......I always love Shari Low's books.  They are always breezy and yet moving, but this one was a little more on the sad side.  I read it while I was laying on the beach, and I have to admit that I shed a few tears, and became increasingly angry with Dee, even though I knew she was dead.  It made me stop and think, how when you die, your life gets opened up for everyone to pick through and judge.  

Jen is heartbroken without her best friend, who she grew up with and now runs a successful business with.  She isn't sure how to move on without her other half, but she finds comfort in Dee's parents, husband and brother.  However, as she starts trying to keep the travel appointments in Dee's calendar, she is forced to confront the facts - her best friend had another life that she knew nothing about.

As Jen tries to wrap her mind around this information, and keep it from Dee's family, Dee's mom has some secrets of her own.  She's currently stalking the man who hit her daughter with a car, and her stalking even extends to his mother.  

Meanwhile, Jen is developing feelings for her best friend's widower, and wondering how that will change her relationship with 'Dee's family.  And Dee's mom's nocturnal activities are escalating.  

How do you let go of the past in order to move on with the future?  What can you forgive when someone is already dead?   There were lots of interesting ethical questions in this book - and I was riveted until the end.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.6

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Monday, April 3, 2017

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg

What They Say.....The bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is at her superb best in this fun-loving, moving novel about what it means to be truly alive.

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

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

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

What I Say......This is the first Fannie Flagg book that I've read and I have to say that I found it as relaxing as putting on an old pair of sweatpants.  The book starts out in the late 1800's, as the town of Elmwood Springs is settled and Lordor is looking for a wife.  The story follows the townspeople as they die, and are buried in the town cemetery, where they find a second life, able to watch and comment on their descendants lives.

I know that it sounds weird, but it actually worked.  It was strangely comforting to read.  The years went by so fast, and you got to see the progress and evolution of time on the people and the town.  

I love reading about ordinary people's lives, and that's all this was.  The chances they took, the heartache they faced, the happiness they found, and the loss they experienced.  I will definitely be looking for more of her books, this one just made me happy.

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weekly Book Haul....April 2, 2017

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.

Well, I am back after a completely relaxing vacation in Grand Cayman.  It was a beautiful, but very expensive, island.  Everyone always talks about how expensive it is to go to Hawaii, but Cayman beat Hawaii in the money department, hands down.  But there wasn't the areas of abject poverty or constant begging like you see in Saint Marten, or Mexico, which I was grateful for- that always makes me sad and makes me feel guilty for being on vacation.

Lying back reading, the perfect day.

The snorkeling was amazing.  The water was so clear that you could see to the bottom no matter how far you went out.  We didn't go on any scheduled excursions to snorkel, just went out to public beaches and our hotel beach and we saw sea turtles, squid, lion fish, puffer fish, neons, yellow tang, and tons of blue tang.  It was truly mind blowing.  

Every day was spent snorkeling, swimming, hot tubbing, reading, relaxing and repeat.  It was well needed, and I averaged about a book a day.  Now I just have to catch up on my blogging and reviews.  

The F Word by Liza Palmer......At once a funny, whip-smart sendup of Los
Angeles culture and an irresistible love story, internationally bestselling author Liza Palmer's The F Word is a novel about how sometimes who we become isn’t who we really are. 

“We’re all pushing some version of the life we want you to believe. It’s all just PR.”
Olivia Morten is perfect. Maybe her high-flying publicist job has taken over her life, but her clients are Los Angeles' hottest celebrities. Maybe her husband is never around, but he is a drop-dead-gorgeous, successful doctor. Maybe her friends are dumb, but they know how to look glamorous at a cocktail party. And maybe her past harbors an incredibly embarrassing secret, but no one remembers high school…right? 
When Ben Dunn, Olivia’s high school arch nemesis and onetime crush, suddenly resurfaces, Olivia realizes how precarious all of her perfection is. As she finds herself dredging up long-suppressed memories from her past, she is forced to confront the most painful truth of all: maybe she used to be the fat girl, but she used to be happy, too.

The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham.....Get swept away along the beautiful
Cornish coast, where a love story in a long forgotten diary has the power to change one woman’s life forever.

Victoria Langley’s world crumbles when her husband leaves, but she knows exactly where to go to mend her broken heart. The rugged shores of Cornwall will be her perfect sanctuary. 

In the quaint, little village of Tregollan, nestled in the sea cliffs, Victoria is drawn to Seafall Cottage, covered in vines and gracefully falling apart. Inside she finds a diary full of secrets, from 1905.

Victoria is determined to unravel the diary’s mystery, but the residents of Tregollan are tight-lipped about Tilly Asprey, the cottage’s last owner. Just as she reaches a dead end, Victoria meets Adam Waters, the lawyer handling the cottage’s sale. He’s handsome, charming, and has a missing piece of the puzzle.

Tilly’s diary tells a devastating love story that mirrors Victoria’s own. Can Victoria learn from Tilly’s mistakes, and give herself a second chance at love? Or is history doomed to repeat itself?

Spring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin.....Welcome to beautiful Hope Island where the sea sparkles, the daffodils are blooming and a blossoming romance is just around the corner…

Bella has always had a sunny outlook and caring nature, despite recently falling on hard times. When she finds a handsome homeless man on her doorstep, her kind heart tells her she must help him. So, she invites Isaac into her cottage and into her life in ways she could never have imagined…

But Isaac is not what he seems. He’s keeping a huge secret from Bella, yet he never expected to fall for this open, generous and charming woman. 

Bella can’t ignore the chemistry between her and Isaac, but she’s had her trust badly broken in her past. Will she run when she learns the truth about Isaac, or will he be the one man who can help Bella believe in love again?

Now to write all my blogs from the last week of reading!

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Monday, March 13, 2017

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick

What They Say.....In an emotionally rich and captivating new novel, New York Times bestselling author Marie Bostwick reunites three sisters whose deep bond is rooted in an unconventional past.

Every child prodigy grows up eventually. For the Promise sisters, escaping their mother’s narcissism and the notoriety that came with her bestselling book hasn’t been easy. Minerva Promise claimed that her three “test tube” daughters—gifted pianist Joanie, artistic Meg, and storyteller Avery—were engineered and molded to be geniuses. In adulthood, their modest lives fall far short of her grand ambitions. But now, twenty years after the book’s release, she hopes to redeem herself by taking part in a new documentary.

Meg, who hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years, adamantly refuses to participate, until a car accident leaves her with crushing medical bills. While she recuperates in Seattle, the three sisters reluctantly meet with filmmaker Hal Seeger, another former prodigy. Like them, he’s familiar with the weight of failed potential. But as he digs deeper, he uncovers secrets they’ve hidden from each other—and a revelation that will challenge their beliefs, even as it spurs them to forge their own extraordinary lives at last.

What I Say.....So coming off The Roanoke Girls, I was ready for a lighter sister read.  The Promise Sisters wasn't an easy, breezy read, but it wasn't completely dark.    

Minerva Promise was raising three test tube babies into being prodigies of the arts, and making her living writing a book about it.  On the day that they have their debut on a major talk show, Joanie decides to make a break for freedom and flub her music performance, earning her a face slap on national TV.

Chaos ensued and the girls are split up and put into foster care.  As they age out of the foster system, they find their way back together, with Minerva a bad memory for the older girls.

The youngest Promise girl, Avery is the one with the most contact with Minerva, via infrequent phone calls.  But Avery is also the most mixed up.  She lives in a tiny house in her sister's backyard, she is half unemployed, but lives in a separate persona as a mermaid, and chooses a series of wrong men.

After Meg loses her memory in a car accident, the girls rally around to help her recover.  But with her hospital bills comes a deal with the devil (I'm still wondering why her car insurance didn't cover her bills), Joanie has to agree to have a documentary made about them and the fateful talk show appearance, something she has been flatly refusing for a long time.

Hal comes to town to film the documentary, has been half in love with Joanie since he met her on the set of the talk show.  As they work through their individual parts of the documentary, they work through some difficult parts of their lives, and find new paths for themselves.

Minerva reappears to film a scene for the documentary and meet her grandchildren for the first time.  This is quite an eventful dinner as paternity is revealed multiple times - yep, you read that right.  One revelation usually makes a dinner party, two puts it on the map forever.

I enjoyed the book but I felt that the ending wrapped up a little too tidily.  I'm not sure that the feelings these girls had for their mother could be resolved so quickly, and even with her explanation, she still didn't do the right thing EVER by her kids.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.23
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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekly Book Haul.....March 12, 2017

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.

Spring has sprung in Arizona!  We had our first week of full 80 degree days, and you can't even imagine what a mood boost it is.  I struggle with winter.  Not nearly as bad now that I live in Arizona, but when I lived in Illinois, I would have full fledged winter depression.  All those gray skies really affected me.  Now that I've been out here for seven years, I kind of look forward to a cloudy, rainy day - they are so rare, that it's an oddity.

So today I'll go hose down the patio, and get the pool stuff out.  It's still way too cold to swim, the pool is only 65 degrees, but in another month, I should be floating around, reading my heart out on my favorite floats.  This one sells at Walmart for about $5.00 every year.  I stock up on about three or four, because they tend to rip after sitting in the sun.  But they are the PERFECT reading float.  I highly recommend.

Unfortunately, my body doesn't quite resemble hers.  But my float and my pool are dead ringers. haha

I'm trying not to add too much to my TBR pile because I'm getting ready for vacation.  And I'm trying to get caught up on my blog.  But some were too good to pass up.  And they all look like they are going to be emotional reads.

From NetGalley

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown.....A beautiful Berkeley mom with a
radical past vanishes while hiking, leaving her family to piece together her secrets, in this keenly observed novel for readers of Emma Straub and Maria Semple—from the bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. No body—only a hiking boot—has ever been found. Billie’s husband and teenage daughter cope with her death the best they can: Jonathan drinks, Olive grows remote.

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde.....Bea has barely been scraping by
since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.

When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.
Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.

I Bought

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple.....A brilliant novel from the author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette, about a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, forced
to abandon her small ambitions and awake to a strange, new future.

Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. 

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Published March 7, 2017

What They Say.....After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane's first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

What I Say.....WOWZER.  This book was full of raw emotion, a slightly gothic tale set in modern day Kansas.  The story goes back and forth, from the individual stories of each Roanoke girl that has met a tragic end, or disappeared, then to the summer Lane spent with her grandparents and her wild cousin, Allegra, and then fast forward to today, as Lane returns to the farm to help search for the now missing Allegra.

The storyline of this book will not be for everyone.  It's pretty gritty and very disturbing.  Which makes it hard to review this book without providing spoilers.  

No one in this story is innocent.  Even those who try to do the right thing somehow stumble and get pulled into the ugliness of the Roanoke reality.  The Roanoke's are the town royalty, their money helps keep the entire town afloat, so people aren't interested in looking closely at the tragedy that goes hand in hand with being a Roanoke girl.

This book will not be for everyone and parts of it were really stomach turning, and Lane is probably the only surviving Roanoke girl because her mother cared enough to run away and stay alive as long as she could.

I read it in one day - beause I wanted to find out what happened to Allegra, and I wanted Lane to get away.  It was gripping, but disturbing.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.85

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Always by Sarah Jio

What They Say......While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiancĂ©, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. 

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense—everything connected and felt right. But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what—and whom—she wants.

Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

What I Say....Always was a very moving read, it just didn't move me in the right direction.  I loved The Violets of March, and ever since then, I always look for Jio's books, she really has a way with sucking you into the story.

Kailey is a big hearted reporter, who has been following a story on the homeless, and a business developers desire to displace them.  As passionate as Kailey is about the plight of the displaced, she feels like she can't always discuss her work with her fiancee since he is a business developer.  But Kailey and Ryan have forged a way to support each other's careers because they are so deeply in love with each other. 

Then one night, Kailey goes to give her leftovers to a homeless man, and sees that it is her old boyfriend, Cade.  

Kailey is shocked and stunned, Cade was the one that got away - literally.  He just disappeared ten years ago in the middle of their relationship.  Although Kailey is happily engaged, and has a fiancee without fault (except for overbearing parents - but they live far away), she decides to track down Cade and try to help him.

Cade doesn't remember Kailey, but is willing to take her help.  She gets him hooked up with a neuro institute to deal with his brain injury - he doesn't remember anything about his former life as a record company executive, or his former partners.  As Kailey helps Cade, Ryan tries to understand her need to be so involved with her ex-boyfriend.

The weird thing is that as Kailey goes into her flashbacks of her and Cade's life together, you see that their relationship wasn't on all that solid ground.  Cade was pretty close to being an alcoholic, was blowing off dates with her and had a budding drug problem.  His partner wanted to dump him because his addictions were interfering with his judgement and he was frequently not showing up for work.

But Kailey keeps getting more involved with Cade, neglecting her wedding planning, and lying to her fiancee, who is getting close to having enough.

Cade has a breakthrough and remembers his accident, his partner agrees to pay him the millions he is due, and Kailey and Cade will live happily ever after - Ryan, not so much.

I have to say, this story made me a little frustrated with Kailey - it's not like Cade was treating her well at the end, even before he went missing.  And Ryan has been nothing but loving and supportive, but she chooses to leave her happy life to risk it all again with Cade.  I'm not even thinking she shouldn't be with him because of the brain damage, the slow speech, etc., but because he wasn't that great the first time around!

It had a nice wrap up for Kailey and Cade, a not so nice one for Ryan, and all in all, I think Kailey is a romantic without any common sense.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.78

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Other Wives Club by Shari Low

What They Say.....Three women thrown together on a surprise Mediterranean cruise to celebrate a milestone birthday of the man they all once loved. What could possibly go wrong? 

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

What I Say....Shari Low's books are the perfect way to pass a weekend..  I haven't read one yet that didn't just make me happier.

Drew's desire to keep his family close is wearing a little thin on all of his ex-wives and their significant others, but he is too full of himself to notice.  He's not a bad guy, he just really doesn't seem to think the positions he is putting these women in is awkward at all.

His new wife, Tess, is currently struggling with the lack of time that she already has with her husband, so she is looking forward to a peaceful cruise, hoping they can recapture some of their magic when they don't have any other distractions around them.

Mona, his last ex-wife, is tired of her current rich husband, and wants to get back together with Drew - so this cruise comes at the perfect time for her.  

Sarah Gold, the first wife just wants to be left alone by her ex.  She's feeling frumpy and old and would just as soon not be around either of the beautiful Mrs. Golds.

When they embark on the cruise, bringing all of their current husbands, children, stepchildren with them, new alliances are made, new confidence is found, and the right people get what is coming to them - this is all part of what makes it such a satisfying read!

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Weekly Book Haul...February 26, 2017

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 had a great week.  Work is beyond busy, I'm completely overloaded all day, every day.  And in order to keep my sanity, I've been scheduling my reading time at night, and leaving my cell phone in another room - so I can hear the ring, but don't keep looking at my email.

I finished Fannie Flagg's The Whole Town is Talking, and I actually really enjoyed it.  Her books are the equivalent of tomato soup and grilled cheese on a cold, cloudy day.  They are just warm and comforting.

I got some really great additions to my bookshelf this week, I'm super excited of the new Taylor Jenkins Reid and Shari Low, they are two of my favorite authors.

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick....Every child prodigy grows up
eventually. For the Promise sisters, escaping their mother’s narcissism and the notoriety that came with her bestselling book hasn’t been easy. Minerva Promise claimed that her three “test tube” daughters—gifted pianist Joanie, artistic Meg, and storyteller Avery—were engineered and molded to be geniuses. In adulthood, their modest lives fall far short of her grand ambitions. But now, twenty years after the book’s release, she hopes to redeem herself by taking part in a new documentary.

Meg, who hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years, adamantly refuses to participate, until a car accident leaves her with crushing medical bills. While she recuperates in Seattle, the three sisters reluctantly meet with filmmaker Hal Seeger, another former prodigy. Like them, he’s familiar with the weight of failed potential. But as he digs deeper, he uncovers secrets they’ve hidden from each other—and a revelation that will challenge their beliefs, even as it spurs them to forge their own extraordinary lives at last.

The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen....FACT: Unbeknownst to
eleven-year-old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, she’s in over her head.

PROOF: After hearing a scream and catching a glimpse of a mysterious man carrying a body beneath the flickering streetlights in the cemetery behind her house, Tessie adds solving a murder case to her already quite full to-do list.
Tessie has elected herself president of the crime-stopping Mutual Admiration Society—as if dealing with her “sad madness” over the tragic drowning of her beloved father; showering tender loving care on her “sweet but weird” younger sister, Birdie; and staying on the good side of their hard-edged mother weren’t enough. With partner in crime Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield, Tessie and Birdie will need to dodge the gossips in their 1950s blue-collar neighborhood—particularly their evil next-door neighbor, Gert Klement, who’d like nothing better than to send the sisters to “homes.” And, of course, there’s the problem of steering clear of the kidnapping murderer if they have any hope of solving the mystery of all mysteries: the mystery of life.
A rich and charming tour de force, The Mutual Admiration Society showcases Lesley Kagen’s marvelous storytelling talents. Laced with heartwarming humor and heartbreaking grief, this novel is nothing short of magical.

The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller.....There’s only one place
in the world that lonely twelve-year-old Walter Lavender Jr. feels at home: The Lavenders, his mother’s unusual West Village dessert shop, where meringues scud through displays like clouds, marzipan dragons breathe actual fire, and the airy angel food cake can make customers pounds lighter.

When the mysterious and magical Book at the heart of the shop vanishes and a landlord threatens closure, it’s up to Walter to find the Book and save the shop. Despite—or because of—a communication disorder that renders him speechless and friendless, Walter has a special ability to find lost things. In fact, the only thing he’s failed to find is his father, a pilot lost in a presumed plane crash at sea before Walter was born.

Accompanied by Milton, his best friend and overweight golden retriever, Walter’s quest will take him around and under New York City, into subway tunnels and soaring over Central Park, from bottle collecting in Chinatown to racing through the Met, and introduce him to the extraordinary and forgotten people of this fantastical city. Along the way he will discover his voice and learn what it means to truly be found.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid....Aging and
reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid’s signature talent for “creating complex, likable characters” (Real Simple), this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

Anne Boleyn, A King's Obsession by Alison Weir.....Born into a noble
English family, Anne is barely a teenager when she is sent from her family’s Hever Castle to serve at the royal court of the Netherlands. Yet what seems a strategic move on the part of her opportunistic father is actually a chance for the girl to grow and discover herself. There, and later in France, Anne thrives, preferring to absorb the works of progressive writers rather than participate in courtly flirtations. She also begins to understand the inequalities and indignities suffered by her gender.

Anne isn’t completely inured to the longings of the heart, but her powerful family has ambitious plans for her future that override any wishes of her own. When the King of England himself, Henry VIII, asks Anne to be his mistress, she spurns his advances—reminding him that he is a married man who has already conducted an affair with her sister, Mary. Anne’s rejection only intensifies Henry’s pursuit, but in the absence of a male heir—and given an aging Queen Katherine—the opportunity to elevate and protect the Boleyn family, and to exact vengeance on her envious detractors, is too tempting for Anne to resist, even as it proves to be her undoing. 
While history tells of how Anne Boleyn died, this compelling new novel shows just how she lived.

A Life Without You by Shari Low....Dee and Jen have been best friends since
their days of teenage crushes, bad 90's make-up and huge hair. 

They’ve passed every milestone of their lives together and now in their thirties own a successful boutique, sharing a bond that is as strong as the closest of sisters.
Until one day everything changes. 
Dee is gone, killed by a reckless driver, leaving Jen to face the harsh reality of a world without her. 
Jen vows to honour Dee’s dreams and take care of everything and everyone she loved. Until she realises that sometimes the only way forward is to let go of the past.

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