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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