Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Post, Showcase Sunday and Stacking the Shelves.....November 30, 2014

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, and Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

All three are blog roundups giving you a chance to share what your weekly book haul!

I'm sitting here finishing this post with a touch of sadness.  It's the last day of our four day Thanksgiving break and I have thoroughly relaxed and enjoyed myself.  I've got a vacation coming up, and the Christmas Break is right around the corner, so I shouldn't complain, but boo to Monday!

Thank you to Edelweiss....

The Mermaid's Child by Jo Baker....Malin has always felt different. The fact that, according to her
father, her absent mother was actually a mermaid only makes matters worse. When Malin’s father dies, leaving her alone in the world, her choice is clear: stay, and never feel at home, or leave and go in search of the fantastical inheritance she is certain awaits her. Apprenticed to a series of strange and wonderful characters, Malin embarks on a picaresque journey that crosses oceans and continents—from the high seas to desert plains, from slavery to the circus—and leads to a discovery that is the last thing Malin ever could have expected. Beautifully written and hauntingly strange, The Mermaid’s Child is a remarkable piece of storytelling, and an utterly unique work of fantasy.

I am intrigued by this premise.  I can't wait to get started.

The Cake House by Latifah Salom....Rosaura Douglas’s father committed suicide—or at least that’s what they are telling her. Now she is forced to live in a house she calls “the Cake House”—a garish pink edifice in the wealthy part of town. It’s the house where her father died, and owned by her mysterious new stepfather, Claude. But when her father’s ghost appears and warns Rosie not to trust Claude, Rosie begins to notice cracks in her new family’s carefully constructed facade. Her mother, Dahlia, is obviously uncomfortable in her new marriage; her stepbrother, Alex, is friendly one second, distant the next; and Claude’s business is drawing scrutiny from the police. As her father’s ghost becomes increasingly violent—and the secrets haunting the halls of The Cake House thicken—Rosie wonders who, if anyone, is worth trusting.

I think this looks so good, but it looks like it's going to be an intense read.

Hush, Hush by Laura Lippman....Now the mother of a toddler, Tess Monagahan is short on time,
patience, and energy. But with orthodontia and college tuition looming, she takes on a case outside of her comfort zone with her new partner, retired Baltimore P.D. homicide detective Sandy Sanchez. They’ve been hired to assess the security needs of a very rich, very beautiful, and very imperious woman named Melisandre, who has returned to Baltimore to reunite with her estranged daughters—and wants to capture the reunion on film for posterity.

It’s a gutsy and controversial move by a woman who relinquished her custody rights a decade ago. Especially when her youngest daughter died in her care—in what was determined to be an episode of post-partum psychosis. Or was it? Tess tries to ignore the discomfort she feels around Melisandre. But it’s difficult, especially after Melisandre becomes a prime suspect in a murder—and Tess realizes she has her own, very judgmental stalker. 

I love Laura Lippman, and I can't wait to start this new Tess Monagahan!

I Bought.....
Murder at Honeysuckle Hotel....It's summertime in Honeysuckle, and everyone is lazing in the shade

with a tall glass of lemonade. Everyone except Raelynn Pendleton. She's stuck working at the local store to make the rent while her no-good ex-husband lives it up with a floozy.

When she inherits a Victorian house, Raelynn jumps at the chance to turn her life around. How can she afford the upkeep on such a huge place? Simple. She'll run it as a hotel. Problem is, she has no experience and the décor dates back to the Dark Ages. She'll have to use her secret talent for turning junk into treasure or she'll never snag an overnight guest.

But before the new Honeysuckle Hotel even opens for business, Raelynn discovers the body of a young woman in the garden. As a newcomer in town, Raelynn is blamed for the murder. She's fired from her job, which could mean she'll lose the house. The only way to save Honeysuckle Hotel is to find the real killer - with or without the sexy Sheriff Kent Klein. 
I've read a Rose Pressey book before, and I enjoyed it, so I thought this was a great chance when it was on sale for 99 cents!

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty.....Sophie Honeywell always wondered if Thomas Gordon
was the one she let get away. He was the perfect boyfriend, but on the day he was to propose, she broke his heart. A year later he married his travel agent, while Sophie has been mortifyingly single ever since. Now Thomas is back in her life because Sophie has unexpectedly inherited his aunt Connie's house on Scribbly Gum Island -- home of the famously unsolved MunroBabymystery.
Sophie moves onto the island and begins a new life as part of an unconventional family where it seems everyone has a secret. Grace, a beautiful young mother, is feverishly planning a shocking escape from her perfect life. Margie, a frumpy housewife, has made a pact with a stranger, while dreamy Aunt Rose wonders if maybe it's about time she started making her own decisions.

I love Liane Moriarty.  I have Little Lies packed in my suitcase for my trip to Hawaii this week!

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.... In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a
teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. 

But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. 

Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

I think I'm the only person on the planet who hasn't read this yet.  But I never read or saw Seabiscuit either.

 Perfect Girl by Michelle Gorman.....Cinderella meets Falling Down in this wickedly funny tale about having it all

Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the "W" in banker*.

How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?  

This looks so good.  Who amongst us hasn't wondered if we are going to snap some days???

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Five Fires by Laura Lippman

What They Say....Everyone in small-town Belleville is talking about a series of mysterious
fires disrupting the typically tranquil summer. The authorities attribute them to heat lightning, but some Belleville residents are not so sure…

High-school student Beth, like everyone else in Belleville, has been following the fires – she has plenty of time between her monotonous day job at the deli and solitary nights at home while her mom works late. The fires aren’t the only unusual occurrence – Beth’s old friend Tara, who left town the year before after a scandal, returns with no real explanation. Circumstances only get stranger when Beth unwittingly discovers clues as to what – or who – is the cause of the fires.

What I Say....I love Laura Lippman, so I was happy to get an ARC of this novella.  The thing was I didn't realize it was a novella, so I was pretty disappointed when it came to such a quick end.

I've often wondered about the people who you see in People magazine defending their town's accused rapists, what makes them so willing to defend someone in print.  In this short story, you get to see the fallout of that defense.  What is really sad is that the people who shouldn't have gotten away with their crime are the only one who escape unscathed.

This was a great short story - I just wish it had been a full length novel.

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Up and In by Deborah Disney

What They Say....Maria and Joe have saved every available penny to give their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne-swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing, but a minefield of social politics.

While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a midlife crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents).

What I Say....Ugh.  I've known women like the bea's.  They are the moms that can make a little girl's sporting event feel like you've taken a time machine back to junior high school.  Only now they have sharper weapons, and when you feel like your children are being hurt, you become even more sensitive.

Take Maria, for example.  She spends the first chapter poring over a group email, scouring every response looking for an insult, despairing that the other mother's don't sign x (the electronic kiss indicates your social standing) after their name when communicating with her, and trying to read between the lines as to who is friend or foe (hint, they are almost all foes). 

Let me preface this by saying that I don't like to get into the Mommy wars, I think stay at home moms have it rough and I think working moms have it rough.  They have so much in common, but they also face different challenges.

However, having been in both roles, I can say that this book definitely brought back some bad memories of my time at home.  I think when you are at home all day, you just have more time to get emotionally invested in these types of relationships (a strong parallel to office relationships and the politics that happen in the workplace).

Once you are working full time and trying to keep up with the kid's activiites and home life, you really don't notice these type of women anymore, their barbs either go right over your head, or you find yourself snapping back because you don't really care what they think, because can't they see how TIRED you are?????  I did find it interesting that the only character that stayed neutral and friendly with everyone, was Nicole, the hairdresser who worked full time.

Okay, I got off topic, but I think it's the mark of really good book that it made me think through the issues that all mommies face.

I liked Maria and her funny family, but by mid-book, I was getting really irritated with her for being so wishy-washy.  She hated the way the bea's treated her daughter, but she kept hanging around, setting herself up for more poor treatment.  But she didn't hang around as a syncophant, she wouldn't kiss up to Bea, but she wouldn't stand up for herself either.  I wanted to shake her and tell her to either grow a pair, and tell them to get lost or just buy the damn hair ties!  Take your daughter out of that snobby school and stop signing up for every after school activity that these beyotches take their kids to, or plaster a big fake smile on her face and play the game.

But Maria was half in and half out throughout the book.  Her husband is telling her that he is miserable in his job, and unhappy with the direction of his future, and her only thought is that if he quits his job, how will they pay for Riverton?  At that point, it seemed like Maria was the only one who cared about the school, it certainly wasn't doing anything for the rest of the family.

At the end, you see a few of the bea's get their comeuppance, but even then, Maria continues her pattern of one foot in, one foot out.  She wracks her brain to think of the perfect text to send to the woman who's life is falling apart, the same woman who has done nothing but try to make her own life miserable.

That was my only real complaint - I wanted Maria to get her head on straight and teach her kids what really matters.  But even though she could do that when they were alone, she wasn't able to do it in front of the snobs, where the lesson would have really stuck.

Thank you, Net Galley and Harper Collins, for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.  This was a 4/5 star read.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from Me!

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone has a day filled with family, food and books!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Fairy Tale by Shanna Swendson

 What They Say....Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie Drake danced with the fairies in the woods behind her grandparents' Louisiana home. But she closed the door to the fairy world and turned her back on the Fae when they tried to steal her little sister Emily. Fourteen years later, Sophie heads to New York City on a desperate mission. Emily, now an up-and-coming Broadway actress, has gone missing. Only Sophie suspects the Fae.

Now Sophie has her work cut out for her. Emily's abduction is part of a larger plot involving the missing Queen of the fairy realm. An upstart fairy is making a bid to assume control of the entire Realm, unite the fairies, and become master over the human world. To free her sister, Sophie must derail this power scheme and find the true Queen of the Realm.

That's a lot for a small-town ballet teacher to tackle, but with the unlikely aid of her sometimes flighty sister, a pair of elderly shopkeepers with a secret, a supremely lazy (but surprisingly knowledgeable) bulldog, and a wounded police detective searching for his own missing person, she just might prevail--if she can force herself to confront her own past and face her true nature.

What I Say.... This was a fun read.  I always say that I don't really like fantasy, but then I read books like this and I realize that I actually do enjoy fantasy.

I just need it to be fantasy that feels somewhat rooted in reality.  This book was the perfect blend of the two.  Emily is an actress in New York, who lives above an injured NYPD officer.  When she goes missing after a performance, her sister Sophie comes to New York to find her. 

Part of what kept me hooked was the way the story crossed between the Fairy Realm and New York. I enjoyed the way the different characters moved between worlds.

The climax of the book felt like an Indiana Jones type adventure, and the end didn't tie up with a "happily ever after", but it ended with me waiting for the sequel!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR List

Top Ten Books on My Winter To-Be-Read List.

Honest to God, I need to change my title.  I love participating in this blog roundup hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but I can never get to ten.  It's embarrassing.
Oh well, here are my six......(hangs head in shame)

Revival by Stephen King 

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes Kristin Hannah’s next novel. It is an epic love story and family drama set at the dawn of World War II.

Saving Grace by Jane Green 

Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue.  To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity.  With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

 Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting.

The Mermaid's Child by Jo Baker
In this fantastical novel, the acclaimed author of Longbourn brings us the magical story of a young girl in search of her mother...who just might be a mermaid. Malin has always been different, and when her father dies, leaving her alone, her choice is clear: stay, and remain an outsider forever, or leave in search of the mythical inheritance she is certain awaits her. Apprenticed to a series of strange and wonderful characters, Malin embarks on a grueling journey that crosses oceans and continents—from the high seas to desert plains—and leads to a discovery that she could never have expected. Beautifully written and hauntingly strange, The Mermaid’s Child is a remarkable piece of storytelling, and an utterly unique work of fantasy from literary star Jo Baker.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This was a long week, I was laid up with pneumonia again so I've been working on Fairy Tale by Shanna Swendson for over a week.  

This isn't a reflection of the book at all, because I'm really enjoying it, but I keep falling asleep!

I got a well needed facelift on my blog and I'm really pleased with how it came out.  I went through Le Charmed Boutique, and she was really patient with me from the time I started (I really had no vision for what I wanted), and when I changed my theme halfway through.  I highly recommend Rebekah and her Etsy shop.

I'm still trying to figure out a lot of the blogging things, such as Disquis comments, what the difference is in Google followers vs. email followers vs. bloglovin followers vs. fb followers - you get the hint.  I'm a mess.  Bloggerland is confusing.

What are you reading? Any suggestions?  Is everyone as excited as I am over the upcoming four day weekend?

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Sunday Post...November 23, 2014

I'm participating in The Sunday Post by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog. 

This was a busier week than normal.  I got some great reads and I'm super excited about them.  I hope you see something below that interests you!

 In the Mail:

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan....Bacon. McDonalds. Cinnabon. Hot Pockets. Kale. Stand-up New York Times bestselling book Dad is Fat to hear him riff on fatherhood but now, in his second book, he will give them what they really crave—hundreds of pages of his thoughts on all things culinary(ish). Insights such as: why he believes coconut water was invented to get people to stop drinking coconut water, why pretzel bread is #3 on his most important inventions of humankind (behind the wheel and the computer), and the answer to the age-old question “which animal is more delicious: the pig, the cow, or the bacon cheeseburger?”  I'm super excited about this book, I loved, "Dad is Fat", and I hope this will be just as funny. 

From Edelweiss:  

Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel...."Thirteen year old Callie is accused of bullying at school, but Rebecca knows the kind and gentle girlshe’s raised is innocent. While Callie is eventually exonerated, threatening notes from her alleged victim, Robyn, begin to surface, and as the notes become suicidal, Rebecca is determined to save the unbalanced Robyn. As Rebecca navigates school disapproval and mean moms while trying to comfort Callie and help Robyn, she recalls her own intense betrayals and best-friendships at that age. Then, her failure to understand those closest to her led to losing them forever, and she’s determined that this story will end differently. But Rebecca has failed to understand what is really happening in Callie’s life, and now Callie is in terrible danger.

This raw and beautiful story investigates the intensity of adolescent emotions and the complex identity of a teenage girl. Hyacinth Girls looks unflinchingly at how cruelty exists in all of us, and how our worst impulses can sometimes estrange us from ourselves - or save us."

This has received comparisons to "Reconstructing Amelia", which I loved.  The inner working of the teen girls mind can be as chilling as any horror story.

The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos...."In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her
heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary—professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father.

Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter Willow only once.

Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister—a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir?

Told in alternating voices—Taisy’s strong, unsparing observations and Willow’s naive, heartbreakingly earnest yearnings—The Precious One is an unforgettable novel of family secrets, lost love, and dangerous obsession, a captivating tale with the deep characterization, piercing emotional resonance, and heartfelt insight that are the hallmarks of Marisa de los Santos’s beloved works."

I couldn't put Love Walked In down, so I'm really looking forward to this.

From Net Galley:

The Half Brother by Holly Lecraw....When Charlie Garrett arrives as a young teacher at the shabby-
yet-genteel Abbott School, he finds a world steeped in privilege and tradition. Fresh out of college and barely older than the students he teaches, Charlie longs to leave his complicated southern childhood behind and find his place in the rarefied world of Abbottsford. Before long, he is drawn to May Bankhead, the daughter of the legendary school chaplain; but when he discovers he cannot be with her, he forces himself to break her heart, and she leaves Abbott, €”he believes forever. He hunkers down in his house in the foothills of Massachusetts, thinking his sacrifice has contained the damage, and controlled their fates.
But nearly a decade later, his peace is shattered when his golden-boy half brother, Nick, comes to Abbott to teach, €”and May returns as a teacher as well. Students and teachers alike are drawn by Nick'€™s magnetism, and even May falls under his spell; when Charlie pushes his brother and his first love together, with what he believes are the best of intentions, a love triangle ensues that is haunted by desire, regret, and a long-buried mystery.
With wisdom and emotional generosity, LeCraw takes us through a year that transforms both the teachers and students of Abbott forever. Skillfully plotted, lyrical, and ambitious, The Half Brother is a powerful examination of family, loyalty, and love.

I love boarding school books.  I don't know why.  But I do.

Up and In by Deborah Disney....Maria and Joe have saved every available penny to give their
daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne-swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing, but a minefield of social politics.
While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a midlife crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents).
For every woman who has ever felt she may be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you - you're not alone.
Can't wait to read this since I frequently feel like I'm wearing the wrong shoes.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Sequels I Can't Wait to Get

I love to participate in The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday. It's a blog round up with a new subject every week.
The theme this week is Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get.  I'm sorry to tell you that this Top Ten list is only truly my Top Five.  But they are five must reads for me!

1.  First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen is coming January 20, 2015.   It's the long awaited sequel , which was one of my most favoritest (I know it's not a word) books by S.A.A., Garden Spells.

2.  Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella.  This came out in October, but I still haven't managed to pick it up.  I love this series, but I've had a lot of great books sent to me for review, so I just haven't gotten to Becky Bloomwood's latest escapades yet.

3.  Where She Went by Gayle Forman.  This isn't a new sequel, but I really want to read the sequel to If I Stay.  I loved the first book and I really, really liked the movie.

4.  The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness.  This is another sequel I've been looking forward to, but it's been on my iPad since July, when it came out.  Too many books, not enough time.  Plus, this is the last one, so it makes me sad to think about finishing it.

5.  The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion.  I'm putting this sequel on the list even though I've already read it.  If you haven't read The Rosie Project, you need to order it right now.  One of my favorite books last year.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Difficult Husbands (a difficult read) by Mary DeLaszlo

What They Say.....Three friends. One surprise inheritance. And the perfect plan to deal with troublesome husbands at Christmas time…

Newly divorced Lorna is struggling to adjust to life on her own. When she discovers that her beloved godfather has left her the grand (and crumbling) Ravenscourt House in the heart of Sussex, she soon has a project on her hands.

Nathan sells delicious goodies at Mulberry Farm. When he meets Lorna at a Christmas market, neither of them can ignore the chemistry. But as they get to know one another, Lorna wants to know one thing – is he after her or the house?

Together with Gloria – whose marriage to alcoholic Adrian has hit rock bottom, and Rosalind – struggling to deal with her womanising husband Ivan, the three friends hatch a plan. They’ll ditch their difficult husbands at Ravenscourt House and enjoy stress-free Christmases with their families. 

But nothing is ever that simple…

What I Say....I generally try to stay positive in my reviews.  But this book was really difficult to get through.

Newsflash, these aren't difficult husbands, they are jerks that should have been left long before the story started.  A non-functioning alcoholic, a guy who has affairs and brings his mistresses home for Christmas, and a man who went on "happy pills" (apparently, the author is quite opposed to anti-depressants), which then made him so emotionless (?) that he left his family for a younger woman.   Yeah, I'd say they bypassed "difficult" a while back.

So the only way that these women can spend the holiday concentrating on their adult children is to get the husbands to stay at Ravenswood, the large English estate that Lorna has just inherited. How their physical distance matters is uncertain, since the husbands are all that these women can think or talk about.

Normally, I love chick lit that involves inheriting large English estates (see A Good Year for Roses), but this was pretty slow, painful reading.  The women appeared to be hopeless and elderly, although they kept talking about how much younger they were than their husbands.

The daughter's pregnancy with a man who is struggling with infertility with his WIFE was a dead end storyline.  I didn't feel any sympathy for her at all, and the boyfriend was another "difficult husband" who had to call his wife when he was overwhelmed by the premature arrival of his daughter.  If I was his wife, I would have happily come to the hospital and beaten him over the head.

Depressing stories, unsympathetic characters, even the twist involving Nathan, the (surprise!) rich baker who lives with his mom, didn't do anything to save this book.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stacking the Shelves, November 16, 2014

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts…this is a weekly blog roundup hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

A Fairy Tale by Shanna Swendson.... Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie Drake danced with thefairies in the woods behind her grandparents’ Louisiana home. But she closed the door to the fairy world and turned her back on the Fae when they tried to steal her little sister Emily. Fourteen years later, Sophie heads to New York City on a despearte mission. Emily, now an up-and-coming Broadway actress, has gone missing. Only Sophie suspects the Fae.

Now Sophie has her work cut out for her. Emily’s abduction is part of a larger plot involving the missing Queen of the fairy realm. An upstart fairy is making a bid to assume control of the entire Realm, unite the fairies, and become master over the human world. To free her sister, Sophie must derail this power scheme and find the true Queen of the Realm.

That’s a lot for a small-town ballet teacher to tackle, but with the unlikely aid of her sometimes flighty sister, a pair of elderly shopkeepers with a secret, a supremely lazy (but surprisingly knowledgeable) bulldog, and a wounded police detective searching for his own missing person, she just might prevail–if she can force herself to confront her own past and face her true nature.

Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays by Jill Smokler.... From New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed “Scary Mommy” blogger Jill Smokler comes a funny and practical guide filled with essays, recipes, and tried-and-true tips sure to get any parent through the holiday season—without losing your marbles.

Ah, the holidays: a time of joy, celebration, serenity, and peace…
Unless, of course, you have whiny, screaming children demanding presents, attention, and a personal appearance by Santa or Judah the Maccabee. Then you’re screwed.

But wait, there’s hope: Scary Mommy Guide to Surviving the Holidays to the rescue!

Yes, in this handy holiday guide, you’ll find everything you need to survive the fall/winter rush of cheer in style, and without having a mental breakdown. From relatable, hilarious essays on everything from the Santa myth to being seated at the dreaded kids’ table, to easy-to-follow recipes that might include just a little something special to take the edge off (can anyone say Kahlua?), to fun and accessible gift ideas, this book is your ticket to peace of mind—and a laugh—during the busy, crazy holiday season!

The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh....A beautiful coming-of-age novel about two sisters on a journey to forgive their troubled mother, with a sheen of almost magical realism that overlays a story about the love of a family, and especially between sisters.

Therese Walsh’s poignant and mesmerizing novel is a moving tale of family, love, and the power of stories. After their mother’s probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz are figuring out how to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia, who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights, is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to say her final goodbyes and lay their mother’s spirit to rest.

Though they see things very differently, Jazz is forced by her sense of duty to help Olivia reach her goal. Bitter and frustrated by the attention heaped on her sunny sister whose world is so unique, Jazz is even more upset when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper. Though Hobbs warns Olivia that he’s a thief who shouldn’t be trusted, he agrees to help with their journey. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, and they are finally forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma...the book that left me confused

What They Say.... Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those
monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living, and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Vee, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries: What really happened when Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? 

What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve – in this life or in another one? We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture – which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

What I Say....This book could have easily been a 5 star read.  Could have, but wasn't.  
The storyline was good and the characters were interesting.  But I got lost in the author's desire to write an important book.  The prose was heartfelt (you could feel the author, you were aware of the author the whole time), but it tended to go on too long and seemed to ramble at times, rather than building up to the suspense of the story.

There were no clues in the beginning to help you understand that you are reading a ghost story, so when the book made that sudden turn about a third of the way through, it didn't shock me as much as it confused me.  I had to go back a few pages and try to make sense of what was happening.

At the end, the exchange of girls (I won't say anymore, no spoilers here) didn't make any sense and didn't seem realistic (I understand I'm reviewing a ghost story, and should I really expect realistic, but don't the best ones make it seem like it could happen?).  It felt like a rather abrupt happy (?) ending.

I still give it 3 stars, it was a good book, but it was frustrating as a reader to feel like it could have been a GREAT book.

I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The only kind I give.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The French for Christmas by Fiona Valpy

What They Say....Evie used to LOVE Christmas, but this year she can’t wait for the tinsel and
presents to be a distant memory. 

When her best friends offer the use of their cottage in the beautiful French countryside, Evie jumps at the chance. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband, celebrity chef Will Brooke, plastered over the news with his latest ‘love interest’, leaving the country seems like the perfect plan.

Armed with her French grandmother’s tattered notebook of recipes, Evie is determined to ignore Christmas altogether and bake herself back to happiness.

And when Evie meets her next-door neighbour – the très gorgeous doctor Didier she finds a very willing taste-tester. But is it possible that he could be interested in more than just her Tarte Tatin?

With snow falling, a special Réveillon dinner and a little Christmas magic in the air, could Didier even be the one to thaw Evie’s heart? Or will a visit from the ghost of Christmas past change everything?

What I Say.....My second book of Christmas 2014, and this one was a winner.  

Evie flees London, choosing to stay in rural France, without Internet, TV or even reliable electricity, in order to avoid Christmas.  She has recently suffered a stillbirth and her marriage has fallen apart in the wake of her grief.  Being alone feels like the only way to survive the holidays.   

Once she arrives in the countryside, she discovers some kindly neighbors, and a doctor who lives next door that looks like Bradley Cooper (I love fantasy chick lit!  This book reminded me of one of my favorite Christmas movies, "The Holiday".  I want to live this story).  As they get to know each other and share their mutual grief, an evolving relationship helps them both to look forward to the future and new love.

However, a kind email written to her estranged husband in a moment of forgiveness causes a surprise to turn up on Evie's doorstep during Christmas lunch.

Sometimes I don't understand why I love this formula of writing so much.  It's so unrealistic.  Who moves to the country, finds Dr. Bradley Cooper next door and falls in love?  I don't care, it's my escape.  A girl can dream........

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

What They Say....Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old-line New England firm, where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are trapped behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one week, with all the big partners out of town, Sophie is stuck handling the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client.

After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. Mia is now locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology at Mather Medical School, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane. Mia also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. The way she sees it, it’s her first divorce, too. For

Sophie, the whole affair will spark a hard look at her own relationships—with her parents, colleagues, friends, lovers, and, most important, herself.

A rich, layered novel told entirely through personal correspondence, office memos, e-mails, articles, handwritten notes, and legal documents, The Divorce Papers offers a direct window into the lives of an entertaining cast of characters never shy about speaking their minds. Original and captivating, Susan Rieger’s brilliantly conceived and expertly crafted debut races along with wit, heartache, and exceptional comedic timing, as it explores the complicated family dynamic that results when marriage fails—as well as the ever-present risks and coveted rewards of that thing called love.

What I Say....I wanted to enjoy this book.  And I may very well if it had been told in a different format.  But all of the bills, contracts, intake forms, law books, and correspondence really took away from the story for me.
I've always enjoyed the way Sophie Kinsella uses pieces of correspondence scattered thoughout her Shopaholic books, but the way it was done in The Divorce Papers was just too disconnected.  I think it can work in a lighthearted way, but not when you are telling the story of a child who is having a breakdown about the thought of living with her father.
It had promise, I think the story deserved to be told without committing so hard to the writing gimmick.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Christmas on Chestnut Street by Nancy Thayer

What They Say....As Christmas draws near, Felicia returns to her family’s home on the island to marry her adventurous, rugged boyfriend, Archie. Every detail is picture-perfect for a dream wedding: the snow-dusted streets, twinkling lights in the windows, a gorgeous red and white satin dress. Except a lavish ceremony is not Felicia’s dream at all; it’s what her mother, Jilly, wants. Jilly’s also worried that her daughter’s life with daredevil Archie will be all hiking and skydiving. Wondering if their handsome neighbor Steven Hardy might be a more suitable son-in-law, Jilly embarks on a secret matchmaking campaign for Felicia and the dashing stockbroker.

As the big day approaches and Jilly’s older daughter, Lauren, appears with rambunctious kids in tow, tensions in the household are high. With the family careening toward a Yuletide wedding disaster, an unexpected twist in Nancy Thayer’s heartwarming tale reminds everyone about the true meaning of the season.

What I Say....This was my Christmas 2014 kickoff book.  It was probably not the best choice, because it didn't get me too excited.

Loved the description of Nantucket, but the storyline was uneven.  The initial setup made it seem like Jilly was going to interfere with her daughter's upcoming wedding by trying to hook her up with her high school love again.  Nothing of the sort ever took place - I kept waiting for something to happen, nothing happened.

The dialogue was simplistic and Jilly was an unsympathetic character to me.  I couldn't tell whether she was a total PIA mother, or someone who was going to experience a growth moment.  Jilly as a character was uneven.  She was plotting to break up her daughter's marriage, then applauding her soon to be son-in-law.  She wanted her family to have the perfect dinner, but then shrugged when the grand kids spilled jambalaya on the carpet. 

One thing I will say is that this was a quick read.  I don't think I'm the author's target audience.
I do think maybe my stepmother might enjoy this book.  I imagine her mind works a lot like Jilly's around the holidays.  Judging....always judging......

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!  My opinion is given honestly in exchange.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - a rare 5 star read

What They Say.....In a riveting debut novel that reads like Prep meets Gone Girl, a young woman is determined to create the perfect life—husband, home, and career—until a violent incident from her past threatens to unravel everything and expose her most shocking secret of all. Twenty-eight-year-old New Yorker Ani FaNelli seems to have it all: she’s a rising star at The Women’s Magazine, impossibly fit, perfectly groomed, and about to marry Luke Harrison, a handsome blueblood. But behind that veneer of perfection lies a vulnerability that Ani holds close and buries deep—a very violent and public trauma from her past that has left her constantly trying to reinvent herself. And only she knows how far she would go to keep her secrets safe.

When a documentary producer invites Ani to tell her side of the chilling incident that took place when she was a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, she hopes it will be an opportunity for public vindication. Armed with the trappings of success—expensive clothes, high-powered byline, a massive engagement ring—she is determined to silence the whispers of suspicion and blame from her past, and prove once and for all how far she’s come since Bradley. She’ll even let them film her lavish wedding on Nantucket, the final step in her transformation.

But perfection doesn’t come without cost. As the wedding and filming converge, Ani’s meticulously crafted facade begins to buckle and crack—until an explosive revelation offers her a final chance at redemption, even as it rocks her picture-perfect world.

What I Say....Wow.  This was such an unique book. 

When I finished it, I opened it up Goodreads and gave it 4 stars.  But I couldn't stop thinking about that night and into the next morning.  After I found myself spending my whole shower thinking about this book, I realized this book was really a 5 star read for me.  And I don't give 5 stars often.  

I think initially I gave it 4 stars because through the majority of the book, I didn't like any of the characters, including Ani.  And by the end, I only felt a slight thaw towards her, but it was better than my original disdain.

The story weaves between Ani's carefully cultivated New York image, and her embarrassingly middle class teen years in Philadelphia, raised by a distant father and a social climber mother.

As you follow her story, you see that the perfect life that she is attempting to build herself isn't making her happy, but she doesn't really seem interested in being happy.  I found Ani's emotional void to be one of the strongest themes in the book.

From the beginning, Ani refers to the incident that happened to her in high school.  And I thought I knew where it was going, but I was completely taken off guard when it finally happened. 

I calmly read this line, "I was thinking, how strange that it's blond, baby thin, when the hair everywhere else was coarse and dark, when Dean went sideways in the air. Why is Dean jumping?"
and then everything changed, even for me, the reader.

I don't want to discuss this book in any more detail because I think that if you know too much, it really would spoil the experience of this book for you.

I would really like to hear what other readers think of this book.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

I love to participate in The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday. It's a blog round up with a new subject every week.

This week's list is the Top Ten Books I Want To Reread (or if you don't reread, would in an ideal world).  I don't have a lot of time to reread books, when there are so many new books to read!  But these are the ones I would take to a desert island.......

1.  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  This is one that I do reread every few years.  It's just one of the best books ever, ever, ever.

2.  Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane.  Gripping, moving. It will make you consider morality
and when can doing something wrong end up actually mean you are doing something right?  No happy endings here.

3.  The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher.  My favorite WWII book.  I have gotten lost in this over and over.

4.  No Flying in the House by Betty Brock.  Haha!  This is the first book I remember reading over
and over, I think I was about 8 years old.  I still want to be a fairy with a magic, talking dog.

5.  Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding.  A winter classic for me.  One of the few times that they movie was as good as the book.

6.  To Have and To Hold by Jane Green.  I love her books and would reread all of them given unlimited time.  Thankfully, she's got a new one coming out soon.

7.  Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster.  This was one of the first funny non-fiction books I ever
read.  It cracked me up.  I bought it off a table at Borders.  Does Borders still exist?

8 & 9.   Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin.  I would happily reread, but I don't think you can read Something Borrowed without immediately starting Something Blue.  I think I ended up liking Something Blue better.

10.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  Always a classic, always a book to lose yourself in.  I want to be a Beth, but I'm afraid I'm a Jo.

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