Sunday, June 25, 2017

Weekly Book Haul.....June 25, 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.

This has been a great reading week.  Yesterday, I finally read Heather Gudenkauf's book, Little Mercies.  I think I've had this book sitting on my end table for 2 years, waiting to be read.  I picked it up yesterday, started it in the pool and stayed up until midnight finishing it.  It was as good as all of her books, she is one of my favorite authors.  I think every parent has had a scary moment when their child came close to serious injury or death, and it's an experience that never leaves you.  Little Mercies makes you think about that moment, and how quick we are to judge other parents just by news stories.

It is so, so hot here.  Hit 121 degrees this week.  Going in the pool isn't even very refreshing right now, the water is 91 degrees.  But I still do it, because it's still relaxing and it's a time I don't have to feel guilty about reading.  When I read on the couch, there's always the thought in the back of my mind that there are other things I should be doing (even though I don't do them).

I didn't request much this last week, but one request filled that I am really excited about was Summer at the Little French Guesthouse.  This is the third in a series, and it is just pure summer fun.  I've read the first two and enjoyed them so much.  If you want a great way to while away an afternoon, I highly recommend them.  Warning - you will want to run away to France after reading.

Here's what I added.

The Address by Fiona Davis....Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns
with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota, New York City’s most famous residence.

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives —and lies—of the beating hearts within.

Summer at The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard....Summer sun,
chilled, white wine, and a gorgeous fiancé. Nothing could upset pure bliss ... Right?

Emmy Jamieson loves her new life in the gentle hills and sunflowers of the lush French countryside, managing La Cour des Roses, a beautiful, white stone guesthouse. With marriage to caramel-eyed Alain just round the corner, things couldn’t be more perfect.

The odd glass (gallon) of wine dulls the sound of Emmy’s mum in full motherzilla-of-the-bride mode, and the faint tinkling of alarm bells coming from Alain’s ex are definitely nothing to worry about. Guesthouse owner Rupert and a whole host of old and new friends are there to make sure nothing gets in the way of Emmy’s happiness.

But as Emmy gets close to the big day, a secret from the past throws everything decidedly off track. Will her idyllic French wedding go ahead as planned, or will Emmy run back home to England with a broken heart?

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

What They Say.....Physician Bess Codman has returned to her family’s Nantucket compound, Cliff House, for the first time in four years. Her great-grandparents built Cliff House almost a century before, but due to erosion, the once-grand home will soon fall into the sea. Though she’s purposefully avoided the island, Bess must now pack up the house and deal with her mother, a notorious town rabble-rouser, who refuses to leave.

The Book of Summer unravels the power and secrets of Cliff House as told through the voices of Ruby Packard, a bright-eyed and idealistic newlywed on the eve of WWII, the home’s definitive guestbook, and Bess herself. Bess’s grandmother always said it was a house of women, and by the very last day of the very last summer at Cliff House, Bess will understand the truth of her grandmother’s words in ways she never contemplated.

What I Say.....It's summer so time for me to read all things east coast and The Book of Summer was a great place to start. 

Bess running away from a crumbling marriage, finds herself in Nantucket trying to talk her mom out of attempting to save the family home from crumbling into the sea.

As she begins the long chore of packing the house, she finds the Book of Summer, where her relatives have entered their thoughts into the family guestbook all they way back before the second World War.

I normally like books that jump back and forth in time, and I did really enjoy that about this book.  However, the current timeline was a lot less interesting than the past.  I never really felt that strongly about Bess or her story - her storyline with her ex was kind of vague, but awful.  

Her grandmother's story was much more interesting but equally awful.  Living with the secrets of their times, you never really got an idea that Ruby really understood what was happening to her husband - did she not get it or did she just make peace with it?  I was confused.

It's getting great reviews on Goodreads!

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Weekly Book Haul.....June 18, 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.

We are in the middle of a bona fide heat wave.  It's supposed to hit 120 on Tuesday, so everyone is hunkered down in their air conditioned houses.  I went into the pool yesterday, but I could only take the heat for about two hours.  

So many people say they couldn't take the heat of living out here, but it really is just the opposite of living in the midwest.  This is our time to go from house to car to work and back, just like I used to do from January to March in Illinois.  Only this only lasts for a few weeks.  As long as it's under 110, I'm fine - especially since there's no humidity.

But the books I have read while hiding in my house!  So many good books.  I started The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg on Friday night and stayed up until midnight finishing it.  Then I looked at the publishing date and saw it's not out until November!  So I don't even want to rave about it because it's not available for so long.  But if you loved A Man Called Ove, you'll love this book.

And here's what I added this week.

Curves, Kisses and Chocolate Ice-Cream by Sue Watson....Dani’s on a
mission to get her life back on track by the end of the Summer. Running, rowing, aerobics and more, but perhaps all she needs are sweet treats and a second chance? 

Twenty years ago, Dani fled Appledore with a broken-heart and a suitcase full of shattered dreams. Only now is she brave enough to put her past behind her and return for a summer selling homemade ice-cream and getting fit by doing sit-ups by the sea. 

But the new-look cafe is filled with old memories of Jude, her teenage sweetheart-turned-sour. She thinks of him every time she swirls warm sauce onto a “chocolate-bockaglory” and even with the help of Chris, her gorgeous personal trainer, the urge to break her diet is everywhere she turns. 

When Jude makes an appearance at the cafe on the eve of Dani’s birthday party, history threatens to repeat itself. Is Dani strong enough to say no? And is the love she’s been longing for much closer than she thinks? 

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta....From one of the most popular and
bestselling authors of our time, a penetrating and hilarious new novel about sex, love, and identity on the frontlines of America’s culture wars.

Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved only child has just left for college, Eve is struggling to adjust to her empty nest when one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, “U R my MILF!” Over the months that follow, that message comes to obsess Eve. While leading her all-too-placid life—serving as Executive Director of the local senior center by day and taking a community college course on Gender and Society at night—Eve can’t curtail her own interest in a porn website called, which features the erotic exploits of ordinary, middle-aged women like herself. Before long, Eve’s online fixations begin to spill over into real life, revealing new romantic possibilities that threaten to upend her quiet suburban existence.

Meanwhile, miles away at the state college, Eve’s son Brendan—a jock and aspiring frat boy—discovers that his new campus isn’t nearly as welcoming to his hard-partying lifestyle as he had imagined. Only a few weeks into his freshman year, Brendan is floundering in a college environment that challenges his white-dude privilege and shames him for his outmoded, chauvinistic ideas of sex. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in morally fraught situations that come to a head on one fateful November night.

Sharp, witty, and provocative, Mrs. Fletcher is a timeless examination of sexuality, identity, parenthood, and the big clarifying mistakes people can make when they’re no longer sure of who they are or where they belong.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Hardcover400 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Atria Books

What They Say.....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.

What I Say.....I love Taylor Jenkins Reid's books.  She is one of those authors that I always wonder about, why isn't she so much more well known?

I started reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo on my vacation at the end of April.  I started it in the morning while I was waiting for everyone else to get ready for the beach.  And I was instantly hooked.  

I read it all day, every time I got out of the ocean.  And I stayed up that night to finish it. It was a one day read.

I love books that jump back in time and tell a story going forward.  Evelyn is a movie star, famous since the 50's and now hiding from the world.  She decides to tell Monique her story, and no one, Monique most of all, can figure out why she was chosen for this career changing interview.

At first I thought Monique would turn out to be Evelyn's long lost daughter but that wasn't it.  I am always trying to figure out the plot twists, and I love it when I can still be surprised.  

I know we were supposed to see Evelyn as ruthlessly ambitious, but I saw a woman who was doing what she needed to do during a time that didn't give women many options.  And every option  required a man, usually in the form of marriage.  A girl has got to do what a girl has got to do.

Fast, intriguing, relaxing read.  Loved it so much!

Current Goodreads Rating 4.33

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekly Book Haul.....June 11, 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 haven't been adding many new books lately, I've been trying to pare down my TBR list - with great success I might add.

But I always make an exception for Jill Mansell, since her books are so relaxing, so I did add her latest.  I also bought The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood and I'm really enjoying it so far.  

I watched all of the Book Expo posts with great jealousy last week, and every year I tell myself, "Next year, I'll go.".  I just wish it wasn't always in New York, but maybe 2018 will be me and my BFF's year!

It's been swimming weather for the last two weeks and I have to say, floating n the pool all day, reading for hours is the best mood booster.  I love summer the most.

So here's what I added this week.

Head Over Heels by Jill Mansell....Welcome to Jill Mansell's wonderful world!
In the picturesque village of Upper Sisley, everyone thinks they know their neighbors, but nobody knows what scandalous surprise is going to happen next. 

1. An unexpected reunion between two former lovers changes both their families forever.
2. Old friendships fade and new ones blossom as neighbors begin to see one another in a new light.
3. A young woman finally asks for what she really wants, a young man atones for bad behavior, and both find that courage brings its own rewards. 
Surprises, companionship, crossed wires and self-discovery in a story that will leave you completely satisfied, and begging for more.

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

What They Say.....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 Girls 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 are all going through crises of their own, their mother s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears and they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.

What I Say....Light summer read, but totally predictable.  I'm a huge Jane Green fan and I always look forward to her books.  

Ronni has been a medium level star who has always treated her family like an annoyance, and as a result, now has very limited relationships with all three of her daughters.  Having to fight for their mother's attention has led to all three girls having competitive relationships with each other - when there's not enough love to go around, children will fight for the scraps.

But now, Ronni has discovered she has a fatal disease and wants to make amends with her daughters and help them repair their relationships with each other (nurse alert: this doesn't usually happen, if your a narcissist all your life, you don't usually change in the face of death, you might actually become more self-absorbed).  

Nell is running a farm, living on her own after her son left for college.  Meri is living in London with a man she doesn't want to marry, but doesn't think she has any other options, and Lizzy is running supper clubs in the city, resenting her husband, ignoring her son, and carrying on an affair with her partner.  

The girls are beckoned home by their mother and given the news that she wants them to help her commit suicide.  The girls are understandably shocked and resistant to this idea, they haven't even had time to adjust to the news of their mothers illness before they are asked to help her die.

Since this is a Jane Green book, all the answers to your romantic problems are delivered to your door.  These books have ruined my chances at remarriage, since I now believe my true love will show up at my door to build me bookshelves.  

This is the third book I have read this year that has introduced a lesbian character as a woman who has gone her whole life without ever realizing that she is attracted to women.  I've never known a lesbian who didn't realize who she was attracted to until middle age - or that just fell in love with a woman and came out in the matter of two days.  I'm all for including all love in the mainstream, but I wish we were making it a little more believable.  How about one sister is gay, has always been gay, and is looking for her true love, just like the straight sister?  

Anyway, everyone has their loving encounter with their mother that heals all emotional wounds, except for Lizzy, the one spoiled all of her life.  Everyone finds love, except for Lizzy.  Hmmm....Lizzy does end up with the short end of the stick frequently in this book.

If you are looking for a light beach read, look no further.  This is a relaxing way to pass an afternoon and as light as it gets.

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

What They Say....Eva grew up watching her father, Miles, invent strange and wonderful things in the small workshop behind their house on the river that runs through their old mill town. But the most important invention of all was the one that Miles claimed came from the mind of Thomas Edison himself--a machine that allowed one to speak with loved ones long passed. Smuggled out of Edison's laboratory, the blueprints were passed down to Miles, and he's been using them to protect Eva, her mother, Lily, and her brother, Errol, ever since.

Then, one night when a storm is raging and the river is threatening to flood, the machine whirrs to life on its own. Danger, it says. You're in terrible danger. The next thing Eva knows is waking up on the side of the river and seeing her mother's grim face. Eva's father and brother are dead, their house has been washed away and an evil man is searching for them both. They need to hide.

Eva changes her name to Necco--a candy she always loved--and tries to put everything in her past behind her as she adapts to her new life off the grid. But when her boyfriend is murdered and her mother disappears, she knows that the past is starting to catch up to her.

What really happened the night of the flood? As Necco searches for the truth, her journey unites her with two women who are on desperate quests of their own. And as the trio follows the clues to solving the mystery of Necco's past, they discover that sometimes it's the smallest towns that hold the strangest secrets.

What I Say....I love, love, love Jennifer McMahon.  I've been reading her for years.  She only averages about one book a year, so I always have to remind myself to look for her but it's always worth it!

I read Burntown in one day - I had to get out of the pool finally because my Kindle was overheating.  So I hunkered down under the patio umbrella to keep reading.

This book - the description didn't get me excited, and I probably would have passed it by except it was by McMahon.  I wonder who writes the descriptions, is that a job?  I'd like that job.

Anyway, don't be put off by the description.  It's accurate but it doesn't really tell the story.  The brilliance of McMahon is that she weaves in the unbelievable or magical into the mundane, or even sad lives of her characters.  

And the characters she writes always hit you right in the feels.  They are the people on the outskirts, usually living quiet lives, just trying to hold things together.  I never read a McMahon book without reflecting on people I see every day and never consider the inner workings of their lives.

Burntown is the story of a woman trying to piece together the tragedy of her childhood, manage her current tumultuous life, and the other complex women that end up being part of her story- an overweight lunch lady and a teen caught up in a situation she isn't equipped to deal with.  

If you enjoy Alice Hoffman, you will like Jennifer McMahon - Hoffman has a lot more magic, but the same undercurrent of sadness runs through both authors work.

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