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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