Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Enter to Win a Copy of One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Enter to win a copy of Taylor Jenkins Reid's new book, "One True Loves".

Just click here a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier

What They Say.....Mia Gladwell s life is going nowhere. The media has skewered her debut novel, her fiance Carson, a successful Hollywood producer, has jumped ship, and now she s living in her sister s carriage house unattached, unemployed, and uninspired. 

Then she learns that the Los Angeles estate of iconic author Ray Bradbury is up for sale, and she feels an immediate urge to buy the wonky old house, convinced that moving into the late author s home will inspire her to create her best work yet. Life in the Bradbury house is not what Mia imagined, however. 

Soon after moving in, to fulfill a debt she owes to Carson, she agrees to take in a pill-popping young actress as a tenant, and suddenly she finds herself in a balancing act between her needy ex, an unpredictable starlet, and her disapproving sister, who s keeping a close eye on her. Add to this a series of mysterious sketches left at her doorstep by a stranger, and Mia s life is more complicated than ever. 

As she searches for clues, though, Mia discovers insights into her own life. Maybe moving into Bradbury s house was a big mistake but maybe not.

What I Say.... This was an interesting book to me.  I kept waiting for the big twist - but that maybe because I just came off of a Mary Kubica book, but it never came.

Mia is an unemployed writer, whose ex-husband helps her buy Ray Bradbury's old house.  Since I"m not a Ray Bradbury fan, the frequent references to him and his stories were lost on me.  Her ex asks her to take in a young actress who is fresh out of rehab and she doesn't think she can say no.  

As Mia becomes a surrogate mother to the young actress, she finds herself inspired to write again, what she writes we never really find out.  In the meantime, someone is leaving little drawings in her door, which doesn't seem to be frightening or even that interesting to Mia (I would be scared witless).

In the meantime, her sister is having marital problems but still finds the time and interest to be a mini Martha Stewart - lots of detail on how fancy her dinner parties are, which didn't make a lot of sense for a stay at home mom and and a history professor living in California, where did the money come from?  I always wonder where the money comes from.

I read another review of this book that called it "chick lit".  I am an unapologetic lover of chick lit, and I wouldn't put this book in that category - I always feel like chick lit has a more "fun" element.  

This story just felt very level to me, but the dialogue was really good and it felt real - it just felt a lot like reading a daily description of someone's real life.  I prefer a little escape.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.24

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Weekly Book Haul......May 30, 2016

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

Well, this post is a day late - maybe with the holiday, no one would notice, but as usual, I'm ratting myself out.  My honesty is a blessing and a curse.  

One of my best friends from Illinois came to see me in Arizona for the first time since I've moved, so I was busy catching up and reminiscing and eating too much and drinking too much and finding out that that a child who will always be 5 years old in my mind is now in college studying horticulture (although I got some valuable advice - if I really want my lemon tree to grow, I need to pee on it.  I'm not sure how badly I want it to grow after all.).

So here I am on Memorial Day, writing my Sunday blog.  I had a great reading week.  I love being part of the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge, they always have such great picks and this year is no exception.

I have discovered that I have a special hate for the word "smirked".  I don't know what made me start noticing that word in every book I've read lately.  The definition of smirk is "smile in an irritatingly smug, conceited, or silly way.".  And I guess the definition of irritatingly smug is what resonates with me so much.  So lately, I've actually been doing a word count on the word "smirk" on my Kindle at the end of every book.  Just so I can annoy myself, I guess.  But authors, please don't overuse this word - a smirk shouldn't happen 30 times in one book.

But in the meantime, Netgalley blessed me with.....

The Girl Who Came Back by Susan Lewis....For readers of Diane
Chamberlain and Heather Gudenkauf comes a gripping novel of suspense about a mother determined to avenge her daughter's murder—no matter the cost to her husband, to her family, and to herself.
When Jules Bright hears a knock on the door, the last person she expects to find is a detective bringing her the news she's feared for the last three years.
Amelia Quentin is being released from prison.
Jules's life now is very different from the one she knew before Amelia shattered it completely. Knowing the girl is coming back, Jules must decide what to do. Friends and family gather around, fearing for Jules's safety. They know that justice was never served; each of them wants to make the Quentin girl pay.
The question is: What will Jules do?
And which of them—she or Amelia—has the most to fear?

The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig......The author of The Cake Therapist 
returns with another sweet and emotional tale featuring Neely, the baker with a knack for finding exactly the right flavor for any occasion...

A crisp tang of citrus that is at once poignant and familiar, sharpening the senses and opening the mind to possibilities once known and long forgotten...
Claire “Neely” Davis is no ordinary pastry chef. Her flavor combinations aren't just a product of a well-honed palate: she can “taste” people's emotions, sensing the ingredients that will touch her customers' souls. Her gift has never failed her—until she meets a free-spirited bride-to-be and her overbearing society mother. The two are unable to agree on a single wedding detail, and their bickering leaves Neely's intuition frustratingly silent—right when she needs it most.
Between trying to navigate a divorce, explore a new relationship, and handle the reappearance of her long-absent father, Neely is struggling to make sense of her own conflicting emotions, much less those of her hard-to-please bride. But as she embarks on a flavorful quest to craft the perfect wedding celebration, she'll uncover a family history that sheds light on both the missing ingredients and her own problems—and illustrates how the sweet and sour in life often combine to make the most delicious memories...

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Monday, May 23, 2016

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (June 7, 2016)

What They Say.....From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a PeopleMagazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

What I Say.....I've loved every Taylor Jenkins Reid book that's I've read.  Starting with Maybe In Another Life, I became a fan.  So when a copy of this came in my Summer Reading Challenge box, it was the first took I grabbed.  

I spent yesterday with my nose buried in it, while I vacuumed with one hand, propped up while I did dishes, and then floating in the pool - which was convenient because as I cried, I could just pretend it was pool water not tears.  And since I was doing a full on ugly cry, I was happy for the cover.

Emma has carved her life out to be exactly what she wanted, complete with her high school crush now turned husband.  But when he is missing, presumed dead, her entire life changes.

That is really the message of the whole book, that as life happens, we change.  And as you change, your ability to love changes.

The story is really about Emma and since we get to follow her from around age 14 to mid 30's, we really got to see her character development and her journey and it's written with a lot of authenticity.  It rings true.  I think that's what made me cry the most.

I don't want to give any spoilers because I want everyone to read this book so we can discuss it endlessly and you can tell me if you think she makes the right choice.  I'm still torn. 

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekly Book Haul......May 22, 2016

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

I had a pretty good week.  Work went fast, but I was really waiting for the weekend.  All summer long, all I can think about is being outside, swimming, floating and reading.  And this month has the added benefit of being the first month of Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge 2016.  

This is my second year of the Booksparks SRC, and I'm thrilled - I loved it last year, and this year is looking to be just as good.

They sent a bonus book, One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid which I read in one day.  Review coming soon, but she is such an awesome writer - I've loved all of her books.

In the meantime, I took a long hike by myself yesterday.   When I first started off, I was nervous because the trail was empty, like Stephen King empty.   Which made me a little nervous, and set my mind down the scary book path.  Then a lone mountain biker came up behind me with an ice cream bell hanging from his handlebars and classical music playing out loud.  This is when being an avid reader gets you in trouble, because obviously this is the set up for me to be kidnapped ala Joe Goldberg in Hidden Bodies.   

But the view was awesome from the top.  The little shiny things at the bottom are cars.

All of the sudden I feel like I am swimming in great books and I only added more this week.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman......From the New York Times bestselling author of 
The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

House Between Tides by Sarah Maine....Fans of Kate Morton will love this
atmospheric and immersive debut novel of a woman who returns to her ancestral home in Scotland and discovers a century-old secret buried in the basement.

Following the deaths of her last living relatives, Hetty Deveraux leaves her strained marriage behind in London and returns to her ancestral home, a crumbling estate in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, with the intention of renovating and reselling it as a hotel, much to the dismay of the locals. As she dives headfirst into the repairs, she discovers human remains beneath a rotting floorboard in the basement, with few physical clues to identify the body. Who was this person? And why the makeshift grave?

Hungry for answers, Hetty sets out to unravel the estate’s secret—and those of its former inhabitants, including Beatrice Blake, a woman who moved there a century ago with her husband Theo, a famous painter who seemed to be more interested in Cameron, a young local man, than his own wife.

Following whispered rumors and a handful of leads, Hetty soon discovers that no one knows exactly what happened to Beatrice, only that her actions have reverberated throughout history, affecting Hetty’s present in startling ways.

One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison.....To Lissa Thomas,
majoring in business administration seemed like a practical and stable life path...until she tried to find a job after graduation. Desperate, Lissa finds herself working as the office/business manager for M Street Apothecary, a metaphysical store selling cards, crystals, potions, candles, and hope. When Lissa falls head over heels in love with the owner's very married trust fund manager who she works closely with, she'll need nothing short of magic to help her fall out of love. 
An aspiring jewelry designer, Diana Tiesman has been suffering through a difficult relationship with a charismatic man who just can't be faithful. But no matter how many times he lets her down, Diana can't get over him. So when an old friend calls her with the offer of under-the-table pay in exchange for making jewelry to sell at M Street Apothecary, it's the perfect opportunity to get away and get over him. Suddenly, Diana finds herself living in a group house and living on the cheap in one of the most expensive cities in the world, as she must decide whether she'd rather be lonely alone than lonely in love.
With a cast of quirky characters and Beth Harbison's trademark wit and warmth, One Less Problem Without You is sure to please Harbison's fans and garner new ones.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Not Working by Lisa Owens

Hardcover256 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by The Dial Press

What They Say......In the tradition of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It comes a wise and laugh-out-loud debut novel that captures a young generation trying not to have it all, but to figure out what it all means. Claire has just resigned from her job without a plan for her next move. As she struggles to explain herself to friends and family, she experiences the emotions and minutiae of day-to-day life as only someone without the distractions of a regular routine can—and discovers what happens when she seeks true purpose in life.

What I Say.....So I'm getting ready to go buy flowers to do the flowerpot planting around the pool, but I took the time to sit down and read the last bit of this book on my Kindle so I could get the review out before I get in the pool with a paperback.  Sounds a bit like work, huh?  Yeah, it was.

The story was told in the way of Bridget Jones Diary, and was a fun, easy read.  But I never found myself rooting for Claire as much as I did for Bridget.  Mostly because I don't have a lot of patience for people who aren't actively working to help themselves (Bridget Jones's greatest strength was ability to move forward).  

Claire has quit her job because she didn't like it, but she really doesn't have a plan to find another job that she does like or to be happier in any way.  She spends her day surfing the internet, grabbing coffee, getting so drunk that she damages friendships, and lets the house get dirtier and dirtier.

Her sweet boyfriend is in medical school studying to be a neurosurgeon, but still has time to support her breakdowns.  But after a bit, even he seems to be getting tired of the wallowing.

Her mother isn't speaking to her after she laughingly tells her cousins at her grandfather's funeral that he used to take her in the bathroom and flash her.  That was a weird drop in the middle of her story, and you never do get any resolve on it, as her mom begins to give her articles on false memory syndrome, but Claire refuses to say that her memory isn't accurate.

At the end of the book, Claire does seem to have pulled herself out of it and encourages her boyfriend to take a course in America, but there was no resolution on her grandfather issue (kind of a big one!), and she really doesn't have a plan to do anything but temp, travel and then get a job - so I don't know, I liked the book but I felt kind of let down at the end - I'm a Virgo and I like things wrapped up!

Current Goodreads Rating 3.38
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

Kindle Edition344 pages
Published April 28th 2016 by Bookouture

What They Say.....Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?  
When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife. 

Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery. 

Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory. 

Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it? 

What I Say....Loved, loved, loved this book.  Perfect way to kick off summer.  A sweet, little chick lit book that inspired me to want to uproot myself and move away to France.

Emmy arranges for a vacation in the French countryside in order to get her floundering relationship back on track.  Unfortunately, she finds her boyfriend floundering without clothes on top of the guesthouse owner's wife.  After being caught, Nathan shows no remorse, and continues to chase after the much older Gloria, until they abscond in Gloria's sports car.

This leaves Emmy on the hook to help the guesthouse owner, Rupert, who has suffered a minor heart attack and a leg injury on top of being abandoned by his wife.  Emmy is stuck as an unpaid housekeeper, errand runner, and cook.

But as she continues to help, she meets a super cute young gardener who helps recharge her self-confidence.  And she continues to make more friends and meets a gorgeous accountant, she dreads returning to her dead end job, and empty flat more and more each day.

But reality intrudes, and a girl has to make a living, so back to England she goes.  

I don't want to give any spoilers, because this was such a sweet little read.  I read it in a day and a half, and loved every minute of it.  These are my "make me happy" books.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.28

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Hardcover496 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Ballantine Books

What They Say.....Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.
New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

What I Say....This has been the year of novels told from three different viewpoints.  And I find that I like that style of writing, it seems to keep me more engrossed in the story, but maybe that appeals to my ADD nature.  Which I'm convinced is being made worse by my dependence on my iPhone.

I love a good WWII book, and this one is based in New York, Poland and Germany, where each woman is based.  Caroline Ferriday is a real person, but the novel is still historical fiction.

Kasia is a young Polish girl who gets involved the Resistance, but manages to get arrested on her first mission.  Her mother and sister are sent to the concentration camp with her, and they spend the next years trying to simply stay alive.

Herta, the German doctor, is trying to make enough money to live and practice medicine.  Her dream is to become a surgeon, which is unheard of in Nazi Germany, so she is forced to practice as a dermatologist.  But the war changes all that, as she is sent to a "Re-Education Camp".  Although she may have not known what she was getting into in the beginning, she quickly realizes what is happening, but she does nothing to stop it and takes part in performing horrific surgeries on the Polish women, in the name of experimentation.  Super sick.  

This was such a powerful story, and definitely a page turner, but it was even more fascinating to learn at the end of the story that it was based on true events and true women.  It's completely amazing to know what that generation lived through and how they stayed both alive and optimistic about the human race.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.......May 15, 2016

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

Happy Sunday, everyone!  I've been watching all of the Book Expo posts with a face that is green with envy all week, and I'm so mad at myself that I didn't bite the bullet and go.  Chicago is a great place for the Expo, and so close to friends and family for me.  Next year it's in New York, and even though I would love to go, I have no real interest in going to New York.  Has anyone gone to BEA in New York before and loved it?  Talk me into it! 

I had a great reading week, finished The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard and I loved it!  I'll review it soon, but it was the perfect summer chick lit.

I got into the pool yesterday!  The water is 80 degrees, still a bit cold for me but since it was 97 outside, it was tolerable.  But to float with my Kindle and have nothing to do, nowhere to be, it made it feel like summer.  My most favorite time of the year.  I get to read endlessly and not feel guilty about it.

Tell me what you're reading and why you are loving it - I'm in the middle of a book that I think I will DNF.  It's 38% in and I'm still bored.  I think I'm going to let it go because I got a huge box of happiness from Booksparks yesterday - I'm savoring it to open today to see what books are part of the  Summer Reading Challenge 2016!

Here's what I got this week.

Love, Luck & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert.....When Milwaukee-area wife
and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame.

Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother.

After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.

The Island House by Nancy Thayer.....Soak up the sun with this delightful
novel from 
New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer! Every summer since college, twenty-nine-year-old Courtney has traded the familiarity of the Midwest for the allure of Nantucket. Now an established university professor, she finds herself caught between two lifestyles and two very different men. Because this summer has taken an unexpected turn . . . and now she must decide what she really wants.

Summer at the Cornish Cafe by Phillippa Ashley....One summer can change
everything . . .
Demi doesn’t expect her summer in Cornwall to hold anything out of the ordinary. As a waitress, working all hours to make ends meet, washing dishes and serving ice creams seems to be as exciting as the holiday season is about to get.
That’s until she meets Cal Penwith. An outsider, like herself, Cal is persuaded to let Demi help him renovate his holiday resort, Kilhallon Park. Set above an idyllic Cornish cove, the once popular destination for tourists has now gone to rack and ruin. During the course of the Cornish summer, Demi makes new friends – and foes – as she helps the dashing and often infuriating Cal in his quest. Working side by side, the pair grow close, but Cal has complications in his past which make Demi wonder if he could ever truly be interested in her.
Demi realises that she has finally found a place she can call home. But as the summer draws to a close, and Demi’s own reputation as an up and coming café owner starts to spread, she is faced with a tough decision . . .
A gorgeous story exploring new beginnings, new love and new opportunities, set against the stunning background of the Cornish coast. Phillipa Ashley has written a feisty, compelling heroine who leaps off the page and encourages you to live your summer to the full.
Recommended for readers who loved Summer at Shell Cottage, The Cornish House, Tremarnock and Poldark.

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry.....When a teenage boy dies suspiciously
on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. 

But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank.....Dorothea Benton Frank’s
magical stories take us deep into the heart of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry. In her novels, this lush landscape comes alive in all its vibrancy and color. She ignites all of our senses with her vivid descriptions of landscape and atmosphere. In her novels you hear the ocean washing the shore on different islands so profoundly that you can nearly hear the sea gulls squawking too. 

This is a story of people whose lives are changing—a southern gentleman returning home to lead a more peaceful life and his talented New York wife who is not quite sure she is ready to make the transition. They are moving north to south, fast pace vs slow pace, downsizing. And while they are doing this, they are getting glimpses into other people’s lives over the course of a summer, holidays that will amuse, shock and transform them.

This irresistible story is home to captivating characters as funny, complicated, and real as our best friends—husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, friends and family who wrestle with the complexities, pain, and joys familiar to us all.

Finally, we’ll come to recognize the face of love, the kind that deepens and endures but only because one woman makes a tremendous leap of faith. That leap changes them all.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Will You Won't You Want Me? by Nora Zelevansky

What They Say....Marjorie Plum isn't your average washed up prom queen. After all, her New York City prep school was too cool for a royal court. Yet, ten years after high school graduation, she is undeniably stuck in the past and aching for that metaphorical tiara.

But when her life takes an unexpected turn, she is forced to start over, moving in to a tiny box of an apartment in Brooklyn with a musician roommate who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama. Desperate to pay rent, she starts tutoring a precocious 11-year-old girl-who becomes the unknowing Ghost of Marjorie Past, beginning a surprise-filled journey towards adulthood, where she learns about herself from the most unlikely sources: a rekindled childhood love, a grumpy (but strangely adorable) new boss, even her tutee.
In Nora Zelevansky's charming second novel, Will You Won't You Want Me?, Marjorie soon realizes only she can decide: who is the real Marjorie Plum?

What I Say.....This book started off slowly.  Like, really slowly.  Like, I almost DNF this book.  

Marjorie Plum is the most uninspiring of characters.  It's referred to frequently that she was the most popular girl in school, but there is really no back story to make this an interesting part of the story.  She is still friends with most of here high school crowd, and lives in Manhattan, working in a PR job that she is unqualified for by education or experience.  Her friends call her "Madgesty", but that didn't seem to ring true.  There didn't seem to be any backstory that she was a Regina or that she lived any type of charmed life.  And "Madgesty" kept reminding me of old, jerky armed Madonna - yuck.

Suddenly, Marjorie loses her job, loses her roommate, discovers that her parents are remodeling her bedroom and refuse to let her stay with them.  All signs point to rock bottom.

But her mother sets her up with a friend's kid who is looking for a roommate.  So Marjorie meets Fred.  A strange (in a good way) little musician who has a cute apartment in Brooklyn who welcomes Marjorie with open arms.  So, Marjorie begins to make some new friends.  She also meets a new man, around the same time that the rich, childhood love decides to bare his soul and make a long term commitment to her.

In between romantic and career concerns, Marjorie covers a tutoring session for Fred, and begins a friendship with a young girl who is wise beyond her years.  Only since it's Marjorie, and she can't really commit to starting or stopping anything, she keeps tutoring her without ever making her parents aware that she doesn't work for the tutoring service.

This is when the book became more interesting to me.  I really liked the romantic triangle with Gus and Marjorie, and he made her much more likable.  

Of note, my least favorite word makes another appearance!  SMIRK - Eleven times!!  I just can't even with this word.  People who smirk, need to be biffed in the back of the head.

The other thing that I really disliked was the two page long rants about politics and current affairs, especially since it didn't seem to be a part of Marjorie's daily life.  She wasn't political, she wasn't volunteering or donating to any liberal cause, but then seemed to go on these long rants of the world around her, when she wasn't really even participating in her own life.

There were other areas where the writing seemed disjointed, such as when they are hiking and she sees a guy with a tattoo of a Chinese symbol "that he thought meant "success" but actually translated to "vacuum cleaner".  Huh?  This had no impact on the story at all.  Or "Marjorie threw on her outfit in record time.  So much so that a drill sergeant at West Point felt a jolt of inexplicable joy.".   Once again, huh?  It just seemed like the author's voice got lost at times.

It wound up being a fun read, so I'm glad I kept plugging on!  But maybe some better editing would benefit the next book by this author, keep her in the same voice.

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Weekly Book Haul....May 8, 2016

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

I missed a blog again last Sunday.  It was a super busy weekend, I ended up hiking with friends on Sunday morning, and they took me about 3 miles further than I usually go, so I was useless for the rest of the afternoon.  As in, feet up, eyes closed, useless.

So I figured I would be back on track this weekend, but I forgot this was Mother's Day weekend (Supermom here) so I've been running all morning already.  My high point of today is that I'm going to see Captain America: Civil War.  Any time spent watching Robert Downey Jr., is time well spent.

Even though I haven't been writing as much as I want to, I have been reading a lot.  Just finished Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  It was pretty, pretty good.  Review coming soon.

The highlight of my week was getting a copy of the new Emily Giffin, "First Comes Love", in the mail.  But I did add a few other good reads to my list....

From NetGalley

The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin.....The truth hurts…  

Erin and Roisin were once friends until a fatal accident ruined both their lives. Now, Roisin has discovered a secret—one Erin has kept for over a decade—and she’s determined to make Erin pay for her lies.
Erin wants nothing to do with Roisin. She has a new life in London and no intention of going back home. Yet when her father is mysteriously and critically injured, Erin has no choice but to return and face Roisin—and her past. Erin knows if the secret of what she gave up got out, the consequences could be devastating.
When Roisin suddenly disappears, suspicion soon lands on Erin. She would do anything to protect her family, but just how far is she willing to go when time is running out…?

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell.....Nothing stays secret forever, least of all love...
On the morning of her twenty-fifth birthday, Lily Harper opens the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight. Learning about the first and only real love of her mom's life is a revelation.
The same momentous day, Lily meets Eddie Tessler, an actor fleeing fame who could change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie's attentions.
As secrets past and present begin to emerge, Lily's not sure what-or who-to believe. But one thing is clear: in the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again...

Deliver Her by Patricia Perry Donovan....On the night of Alex Carmody’s
sixteenth birthday, she and her best friend, Cass, are victims of a terrible car accident. Alex survives; Cass doesn’t. Consumed by grief, Alex starts cutting school and partying, growing increasingly detached. The future she’d planned with her friend is now meaningless to her.

Meg Carmody is heartbroken for her daughter, even as she’s desperate to get Alex’s life back on track. The Birches, a boarding school in New Hampshire, promises to do just that, yet Alex refuses to go. But when Meg finds a bag of pills hidden in the house, she makes a fateful call to a transporter whose company specializes in shuttling troubled teens to places like The Birches, under strict supervision. Meg knows Alex will feel betrayed—as will her estranged husband, who knows nothing of Meg’s plans for their daughter.
When the transport goes wrong—and Alex goes missing—Meg must face the consequences of her decision and her deception. But the hunt for Alex reveals that Meg is not the only one keeping secrets.

I hope everyone has a lovely Mother's Day.  For some reason, I'm thinking a lot about the people without a mom, or the people who desperately want to be a mom today.  This holiday can be one of the harder ones.

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