Tuesday, May 26, 2015

As a cop's wife Jamie Anderson knows that every time her husband, Mike, leaves for work there is a chance that he won't come home.  She got the call that saying there had been a shooting, but it was Mike's long time partner, Ritchie, that was critically wounded. That day changed everything.  Mike was becomes distracted, restless, and unable to sleep.  The next time Jamie gets a phone call they tell her there is another shooting at this time Mike shot and killed a teen boy. Their life is turned completely upside down.  The media camps out in front of their house, Mike is indicted, and he is spending more and more time with the mother of his teenage son, Henry.  Jamie is at a loss to how she can help Mike and slowly feels as if their marriage drifting away.  What will happen to their family if Mike goes to jail? Jamie is trying to hold on but she fears she will lose it all.

Things You Won't Say goes there.  Sarah Pekkanen takes on a very relevant topic facing our country today.  A cop shoots and kills a young teen.  The whole city is in an uproar and at the heart of it all is a mother trying to keep her life from falling completely apart.  Then there is Christie,  Mike's ex and Henry's mother.  There is years of animosity (unjust at times) between Christie and Jamie and that comes into play many times throughout the book. But they both love Henry and that is obvious.  I can't pretend to imagine what it was like for Mike to take a young life, but to not have his wife's unwavering trust must have been devastating.  While I thought he behaved like an ass several times,  I think I can understand why.  Lots of food for thought with this one!

Bottom line - Things You Won't Say takes a look at the other side of the story that has been dominating headlines for the last year or so.  What happens to the cop accused of shooting and killing an unarmed teen?  You won't be able to put it down, that I can promise.


(41)Things You Won't Say by Sarah Pekkanen

Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

I, like millions of other people, have become enamored with Jen Arnold, Bill Klein and their two adorable children.  Unlike many other reality television stars, their life seems so normal and together.  And I think that is where the fascination comes from - they seem like a couple that I would love to hang out with on a sunny summer weekend.

In their new book, Life is Short (no pun intended) , Jen and Bill take turns telling us about their births, their childhood, their teen and college years and then wind things up by sharing how they met and got married.  Then of course how Will and Zoey came into their lives.  While Bill and Jen grew up on opposite ends of the country, they had many things in common, mostly medically.   In fact many years before they started dating they met at John Hopkins where they both were recovering from orthopedic surgeries.   Beyond medical issues they both had to deal with some bullying while in school and the feeling of inadequacies when dealing with the opposite sex to name just a few.   But both agree that they who they are today because of the what they endured.

I love how Jen speaks very positively of all her time spent in the hospital. If you didn't know from watching the show, she is a very positive and upbeat person.   She speaks to the "family" of doctors and nurses that cared for her and worked hard to give her as normal of a life as possible.  Her doctor was almost like a second father  in many ways, including being there for her in college when she had a non-injury car accident.  I thought that was very telling to his character and the bond he had with his patients. Jen spoke honestly about her time in med school and the challenges she faced as a Little Person.  Bill was equally as honest about his "wild and crazy" college days and the challenges he faced trying to find a job after college.  Again, what they went through made them who they are today and it is quite admirable.

Bottom line, in filming The Little Couple Bill and Jen invite the world into their daily lives.  In writing Life Is Short they invite the world to learn about their pasts.   It is a quick, yet interesting read and definitely one not to miss.

  • Life is Short (no pun intended) by Jen Arnold, MD and Bill Klein 
  • On Facebook
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Howard Books
  • Publication Date: 5/26/2015
  • Buy it Here!

(40)Life is Short (no pun intended) by Jennifer Arnold, MD and Bill Klein

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Nobody wants to get dumped via a letter in the mail, but when it happens to Che Milan she reacts in a way that is completely out character.  What better time to honor her recently departed eccentric mother and scatter her ashes at the historic Canterbury Cathedral.  Che takes off for the UK and finds herself joining a "Broads Abroad" tour group that will be making the pilgrimage to Canterbury.   Che joins an eclectic group of women as they walk the sixty miles to the cathedral.   In the true Chaucer way each of the women tell their tales.  From the reality television star whose husband is now in prison to the housewife whose husband was murdered in a drug deal gone bad to the woman whose life has recently been defined by Alzheimer's disease.  The telling of their tales make Che really evaluate her own tale and what she wants out of life.   And along the way she discovers that there is more to her and her tale than she thought.

The Canterbury Sisters  was a fun read.  Che is a character that I enjoyed.  For one thing she isn't a twenty-something looking for love or even a thirty-something, but a woman on "the wrong side of forty."   And even in her forties she was trying to figure things out.  Keep in mind, she had two heavy blows in a short amount of time and that is enough to send anyone reeling.  The death of her mother and her long-term lover had dumped her.  I enjoyed the way Che seemed to loosen up and open up the further they got into their pilgrimage.  She was pretty guarded and closed off at the beginning, but I think her turning point was that night she got drunk in the pub. It was pretty entertaining to read for many reasons, but I also think that night gave Che some confidence she did not have before - thanks to being dumped.

Bottom line - The Canterbury Sisters is not only a book about a physical journey, but for Che it is also an emotional journey.  There is a Reader's Guide included with the book and it would definitely make for a fun book club selection.


(39)The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Through controlled, methodical actions and laser like focus Ani FaNelli has worked hard to put the tragedies of her past behind her and become the kind of women that others envy.  She is engaged to a handsome, wealthy, blue-blood that gives her instant credibility and she is on a career path that will take her far up the publishing industry ladder.  But no matter how far she has come, Ani will always be the "TifAni" that survived a horrific event and the humiliating aftermath all those years ago at the prestigious Bradley School.  As the anniversary approaches Ani has agreed to tell her side of the story in a documentary that will bring all of the pain to the surface.   But will it be worth it?  Will Ani be able to return to her perfect life once all has been revealed?  And does she even want to return to that life?

Luckiest Girl Alive is one of those books that come out of nowhere and knock you on your ass. Through the first part of the book I had a hard time even liking Ani. She came across as this superficial bitch who was doing everything possible to climb her way to the top.   It isn't until about halfway through the book that we start to find out what happened to Ani in the past and and how it shaped the woman she is today.  Let me tell you it was brutal and would have likely destroyed just about any other woman.  Then - just when you think you know everything that happened you get sucker-punched with an event of epic proportions.  I couldn't tear myself away from the book until it was over.  The descriptions are graphic and the emotions will tear you up, but man you will be glad that you read this book.

Bottom line - Luckiest Girl Alive is getting a lot of media buzz and rightfully so.  This is the book that everybody will be reading and talking about this summer.  Grab a copy and see what everybody is talking about for yourself!

  • Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  • On Twitter
  • Pages: 352
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
  • Publication Date: 5/12/2015
  • Buy it Here!

(38)Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It has been two years since Merritt's husband Cal was killed while on duty as a firefighter. She has spent those two years trying to come to grips with the state of their marriage when he died.  Then one day Merritt gets a call, Cal's grandmother just passed away leaving Cal the family home in Beaufort, South Carolina.  Desperate for new memories, Merritt packs up and moves from Maine to Beaufort hoping to put the past behind her.  What she finds in Beaufort is a whole side of Cal that she never knew existed.  Merritt is not in Beaufort for very long when someone from her past shows up, her Step-Mother Loralee and her ten year old brother, Owen.  Merritt was destroyed when her father went off and got married to the young flight attended - pretty much leaving Merritt in the dust.  She wants nothing to do with Loralee and Owen, but they have nowhere else to go. They spend the summer getting to know each other and trying navigate the hurts of the past.  Something is going on though and Merritt thinks that Loralee is keeping something from her, but what?  And what kind of impact will that secret have on Merritt's life?

I had a really hard time getting into The Sound of Glass, but once I got into it - I was hooked.  The book is told from alternating perspectives.  Merritt's, Loralee's, and Edith's, Cal's late grandmother.  Watching Merritt and Loralee in those early chapters was almost like watching a dance. Merritt was much more cautious and unwilling to let her in, but Loralee was persistent and not willing to back down.  I did figure out (rather early) the secret that Loralee was keeping, but it didn't really ruin anything.  Another part I enjoyed was watching Merritt get to know Cal's brother Gibbes.  While she was married she  didn't even know Cal had a younger brother, but she got to learn a lot about the man she married from his younger brother.  And it explained a lot of her unrest about their marriage.

Bottom line - Even though The Sound of Glass was hard for me to get interested in, I am glad I stuck with it and was pleased with the end.   Might be worth a toss into the beach bag if you have plenty time to allow yourself to get into it.


(37)The Sound of Glass by Karen White

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Thirty-six year old Sophie Anderson knows her marriage is in trouble when she sees something on her husband's calendar that says something like "talk to Sophie about divorce".  When he admits to sleeping with a colleague at work Sophie is lost and unsure of what her next steps should be.  That is until an old friend contacts her about a summer rental on Nantucket.  Sophie dips into her "Mad Money" and books The Guest Cottage for a two-month vacation for her and her two kids.   Sophie and the kids are just getting settled in when thirty year old Trevor Black and his young son arrive at The Guest Cottage.  Trevor made arrangements for the summer rental with his buddy after Leo's therapist suggested a change of scenery might help Leo cope a little easier with the death of his mother.   Once Trevor and Sophie decide that the other is not a serial killer they decide to share The Guest Cottage for the summer.  Soon they settle into an easy routine of lazy summer activities. The kids get along so well and the chemistry between Trevor and Sophie is undeniable.  Will they give into temptation even though the odds are stacked against them?

Can you believe that the 2015 Beach Reads season has started?  I am completely blown away by the thought that summer is almost here and the year is almost half over.  And what is summer without a Nantucket novel from Nancy Thayer?  I think The Guest Cottage is one of her better novels in most recent memories.  And I think that is the case because there are so many different variables in play that keep it from being completely predictable.  The age factor is one of those variables.  Sophie is six years older than Trevor and it is rare to find that in women's fiction.  There are other factors, too.  Like Sophie is still technically married.  In the end things worked out the way they should have and it really does make for the perfect book to take to the beach.

Bottom line - the "Beach Reads" season is officially upon us and what better way to welcome the season than to pick up the newest Nancy Thayer novel.


(36)The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Author Jen Lancaster has made a living writing memoir after memoir about her quest for self-improvement in one way shape or form.  From trying to lose weight to channeling Martha Stewart Jen has regaled her readers with hilarious tales of mistakes and mishaps.   With good reason her books always make an appearance on the New York Times Bestseller.  Now Jen has hit middle age with the astonishing revelation that she still has life to live, but with every ache and creak she realizes that time is running out.  She has things she has always wanted to do and creates a "Bucket List" that is sure to garner a laugh or two.   From getting a passport (on my bucket list, too)  to getting a tattoo removed (not on my bucket list) Jen has things that she wants to accomplish before it is too late.

I know with complete certainty that Jen Lancaster leads a much more interesting (and hysterical life) than me.  Anybody who can write lines like "Sometimes compromise tastes like caramel macchiato." and "...no French person actually wants to hear their gorgeous language come out of my cheeseburger hole..." is someone who has more talent in their pinkie finger than I have in my entire body.  As always I found myself laughing out loud -  my favorite part was when Fletch "Tom Sawyered" Jen into an entire wardrobe while in Italy.   After she warned him to not "pack like a jackass" he shows up in Italy with a Breaking Bad t-shirt and other inappropriate pieces of clothing.  I was laughing so hard I woke my husband up.

Bottom line - I Regret Nothing is everything you have come to expect from the always hysterical Jen Lancaster.  Funny, introspective, and dare I say even a bit wise?  Definitely worth the read!


(35)I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster

Saturday, May 2, 2015

High school junior, Sydney, is used to living in her brother Peyton's shadow.  He was always her mother's pride and joy.  and then he starts getting into trouble.   First it was simple stuff like drinking, and then it was breaking and entering, then he graduated to hard stuff and just when his family had thought Peyton had been sober for a year when he gets behind the wheel while drunk and hits a young man, paralyzing him for life.  Peyton is now serving time in prison and Sydney is still living in his shadow. His creepy sponser, Ames, is hanging around.  She has to leave her private school and start attending the public high school.  One day after school she stops by a local pizza parlor and meets Layla Chatham, her family owns the restaurant and it is definitely a family business.  Layla and Sydney become fast friends and soon the whole Chatham family has welcomed her into their fold, including Layla's cute older brother, Mac. Soon Layla is spending more time with the Chatham's then she is her own family.  Will her own fractured family be able to move forward or will they lose Sydney in their effort to save Peyton?

Saint Anything was a completely enjoyable novel about a young woman trying to survive the mess her brother created.  It is completely understandable that she sought normalcy with the Chatham family.  Her mother was so obsessed with Peyton and acted like he was off at summer camp as opposed to prison.  And Sydney's father was so busy burying himself in work that Sydney wasn't sure he even realized that Sydney was alive. Sydney seems like a really good kid. Even though she comes from privilege,   she study's hard and follows the rules. She just wishes that Peyton never got behind the wheel and guilt that is not hers, weigh on her heavily.   The Chatham's on the other hand are tight-knit.  Layla and her sister, Rosie, take turns caring for their mother who is battling MS. They work hard for every nickel and dime they have and their vehicles are basically held together by duct tape and super glue.  I love how they work hard, play hard, and stand beside each other no matter what. I was very satisfied with the ending.

Bottom line,  Sarah Dessen has a way of writing books about normal girls with fairly normal lives.  There aren't any fireworks, but they aren't perfect and the way she ends her books is exactly how they should end.  Definitely worth the read for you and/or your teen and will be on sale Tuesday.


(34)Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It is the future and St. Louis is just a shell of a city that it once was.  The United States was decimated by a pandemic that killed millions and  countries that were once our allies used nuclear weapons to prevent the disease from spreading.  The Sanctuary, as St. Louis is now called, built a wall around the city to keep it's inhabitants safe.  While life is less than ideal in the Sanctuary, it is safer than being out in The Dead Lands. The people of the Sanctuary are told (and believe) that the Dead Lands is  dangerous, deadly, and nobody can survive beyond the city's walls.  The citizens of the Sanctuary believe everything they are told until a young woman shows up at the gates, she tells a tale of another part of the country that has not only survived, but thrived.  A group of citizens believe her and have decided that they will stop at nothing to find the truth.  Lewis Meriwether, Mina Clark and a few others set out on a journey across the wasteland that America has become and in the process they encounter all sorts of deadly weather conditions,  mutated creatures, and enough dangerous situations that terrify them to their core.  But will it stop them from reaching their destination?  And what will happen if they do reach their destination?

The Dead Lands was an utterly terrifying apocalyptic novel. No surprise to you that I enjoy a good post-apocalyptic novel and The Dead Lands was fantastic. Even though it was decades past any time period you or I might recognize there was enough from current day life to make you take notice.  Like mention of Midwest establishments like Hy-Vee and Quick Trip.  There was also mention of things like tablets and an old can of Coke that were considered artifacts.  I enjoyed looking for things like that in the story.   Once Lewis and Clark (get it??) start out on their journey it was fun to look for landmarks in the story that I might be familiar with - beings that I am from that area.   But frankly there were parts that were terrifying, like man-sized bats??  Um, no thank you.  It was also fun to identify other similarities between the journey of the past Lewis and Clark and this one.

Bottom line- The Dead Lands is not going to be a book for everybody, but overall it was a fun book to read with lots of intricate details that sucked you into a world that I pray we never have to live in ourselves.

  • The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy
  • On Facebook
  • Pages 311
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication Date: April 14, 2015
  • Buy it Here!

(33)The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

We are coming up on the season that is known as "Wedding Season".  Right now women of all ages are planning and preparing for the "most important" day of their lives.  Ellen McCarthy is a weddings reporter for the Washington Post and has probably had more wedding cake than you or I could ever dream of having.   She has gathered up all of the stories she has heard over the years and have compiled them in a fun little book called The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life From A Wedding Reporter's Notebook.   She covers everything from online dating to opposites attracting to marriage advice from couples who have been together for decades.  She talks to couples from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and couples that have come from all over the world.  She even talks about a same-sex couple that first met during World War II and  were finally able to get married recently.    She also has a chapter about my favorite piece of marriage advice - my "secret" to marriage - always use your manners.   I know I have only been married five years, but I have observed a lot of couples over my thirty-nine years of life and the marriages that seem to have the most strife are those where both parties forget to say "please" and "thank-you".

Bottom line - The Real Thing is a quick, fun read and a book full of sage advice  that would make a great shower gift for the bride or groom in your life.   Or a great reminder for yourself on what it takes to have a successful marriage.

  • The Real Thing by Ellen McCarthy
  • On Twitter
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publication Date: 4/21/2015
  • Buy it Here!

(32)The Real Thing by Ellen McCarthy

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gail, Hannah, Bridget, Lizzie, and Flavia all have something in common.  Their husbands have an addiction - to sex. Gail's husband has a thing for coeds, Hannah caught her husband having sex with another man in a public restroom, Bridget's husband has an addiction to online dating sites, Lizzie's husband has an addiction to online porn, and Flavia's husband was arrested after groping women on the subway.  The five women meet when they attend a support group for women who are married to addicts.  The women all come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but this one similarity has bonded them in a way that they never thought possible.  The women all handle their situations in different ways and they all handle their relationship with their spouses in different ways.  As their sessions continue the women come to different conclusions about the future of their marriages. Will they be able to live a "happy ever after" life.

The Wednesday Group is a book about a group of women at a low point in their lives.  They all married their husbands expecting to have a "happy ever after" kind of life, but those dreams are shattered when they discovered their spouses were addicts.  I can't say that I particularly liked all of the women, but I can understand their feelings of fear, mistrust, and heartbreak.  Each woman just let their feelings manifest in different ways that I can't even necessarily agree with.  I will say that the ending felt a little incomplete.  I know being married to an addict isn't something that has complete resolution - ever, let alone in 288 pages, but it just felt like there could have been a little more to wrap things up.

Bottom line - The Wednesday Group can be a bit difficult to read because of the subject matter, so it's not for everyone.  Let me know what you think!

  • The Wednesday Group by Sylvia True
  • On Twitter
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication Date: 3/24/2015
  • Buy it Here!

(31)The Wednesday Group by Sylvia True

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Gus and her husband, Owen,  have fled their urban lifestyle for the country.  The quiet of the country is very conducive for their careers.  Gus is an artist and Owen is a  small-press author.    The fact that they are leaving behind the city where Gus cheated on Owen is a hidden benefit.  They have fought for their relationship and it has been on the mend ever since Gus's infidelity and the solitude of the country has strengthened their relationship. Until the day someone moves into the vacant house across the way.  At first they welcome Allison into their quiet life.   Her friendship is welcome and she is a bit of a kindred spirit having just left her teaching career to follow her passion as an artist.  Then one day Allison's college-aged daughter appears on the scene and the dynamics shift.  The young girl's hero-worship is detrimental to their fragile marriage, but how far is Gus willing to let it go to atone for her own mistakes?

In the book Life Drawing author Robin Black examines one couple's marriage and all of the cracks that can be found in their  foundation.  Gus and Owen have spent years tiptoeing around each other as they try to repair their relationship, they seem to have forgotten what it was like to relax around each other.   It was as if Allison's appearance in the neighborhood and her friendship in their marriage gave them permission to relax and be "normal" again.  I was surprised that it was Allison's daughter that causes the problem in their marriage, even though it seems so cliche, I was expecting it to be Allison.  The book has a slow, meandering type of pace, lazy and relaxed like you would find in the country.  But when things start happening the pace starts quickening and you feel like you are racing towards an explosive conclusion.  The end was  explosive.  It was so unexpected to me the way it went down that it left me stunned and confused about what just happened.  Just as Gus felt.  

Bottom line - Life Drawing is a heart-achingly beautiful novel about love, betrayal, forgiveness, and grief.   A novel that will spark some interesting conversations during your next book club.


(30)Life Drawing by Robin Black

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Shelby Foxworth is heartbroken to learn that the man she married was a liar.  He disappeared into the ocean while on vacation leaving Shelby to clean up a mess of epic proportions.  Nothing that she thought they owned is really theirs.  The house, the cars, the artwork, everything was bought on credit and Shelby owes millions of dollars leaving her and their three year old daughter homeless.  Shelby finds a safety deposit box full of cash and ID's bearing her husband's face, but not his name.  The cash puts a dent in Shelby's dent, but she still packs up her daughter and moves home to the hills of Tennessee. There her family and their handsome contractor, Griff, helps Shelby pick up the pieces of her destroyed life, but when strangers start showing up and asking about her husband's finances, Shelby knows that her husband, The Liar, is going to come back and haunt her.

The Liar felt like a familiar read to me. Shelby Foxworth felt like a character I had met before.  She was one of those "clueless" women who are shocked by the actions of her husband, apparently a man she didn't really even know.   Shelby gets plucky, as heroines are known to do, and digs herself out of the hole to make a new life for her and her daughter?  Does it sound familiar?  It does to me, too. I liked the spunk that Shelby exhibited, both at the beginning of the book and later when she encounters some "mean girls" back at home.  It is obvious that she isn't the type of character to roll over for anybody.  I also liked the support she had from her family - in a lot of these types of books the heroine has no family.   I liked the way the relationship between Shelby and Griff developed, too.  Slow, stead, and incredibly steamy.

Bottom line - while The Liar was a bit (okay a lot) predictable Nora Roberts was able to add several layers of sleazeball to Shelby's husband, which kept things interesting.   This book is never going to win awards or even be a selection for your book club, but it is one that you can curl up and enjoy with a glass of wine.


(29)The Liar by Nora Roberts

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sarina Mahler is nervously excited when she hears that her one and only one-night-stand is back in Austin and will be making an appearance at the party.   Even though Sarina is *this* close to getting engaged to her boyfriend of four years, Noah, the thought of seeing Eamon Roy again stirs something deep inside of her.  She never expected the night they spent together to be a one night stand, but the hotshot swimmer had other plans.  And now that he is back he wants Sarina's help finding and renovating a home in Austin so he can put down roots.  Against her better judgement Sarina agrees to take the job, but soon realizes that spending that much time with Eamon only stirs up the feelings she once had and makes her examine her relationship with Noah.  Is he really the one for her or is The One That Got Away her future?

The One That Got Away is one of those books that is like chocolate for the soul.   A mindless book that is a page turner with a "happy-ever-after" ending.  I loved the character of Sarina and her relationship with her roommate Danny, their banter and witty comments made me feel like they were people that I could easily hang out with.  The comparison between Noah and Eamon is pretty stark, even the way that Sarina interacts with each man is wildly different. Her demeanor changes, I think, and it is a clear indication of which way her heart is going to go.  In the end she goes with her heart and I was very pleased with her choice.

Bottom line - The One That Got Away is definitely a fluffy kind of read.  Sarina is funny, intelligent, and witty.  And so are the people she surrounds herself with.  Definitely a fun read.


(28)The One that Got Away by Bethany Chase

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

To say that Rachael's world has crumbled around her would be a bit of an understatement.  Because of her alcoholism she is recently divorced and recently unemployed.  Even though she is unemployed, Rachael keeps her routine of taking the train into the city every morning and has developed a bit of obsession centered around a couple that live along her route.  Their home backs up to the tracks and have a morning routine that makes them visible to anybody riding the train, including Rachael.  Rachael has even nicknamed them "Jessica and Jason" and has developed this fantasy of what their life is like together.  One morning that fantasy is shattered when Rachael sees "Jess" kissing another man.  And then the next Monday "Jess" is in the papers as missing.   Rachael knows she was in the neighborhood Saturday night because that is where her ex-husband lives with his new wife and daughter, but Rachael can't remember anything about that night.  Including why she woke up covered in blood.  Rachael is desperate to piece together what happened that night and what happened to "Jess", but what will she do when she finds out the truth?

I am not sure if there is a woman alive that hasn't gone a little bit crazy after a bad breakup, but Rachael takes it to a whole different level.  She is obsessed with her ex-husband and the life he is living with his new wife, the life that Rachael believes she was meant to live.  The pain is even magnified because her ex cheated on her with his new wife before they were even divorced. Before Rachael even knew there were problems in their marriage.  Some of the things that Rachael does are definitely cringe-worthy (like breaking into their house and walking out with the baby) and make it really hard to feel empathy for her, let alone like her.  The way she inserts herself in the middle of the investigation and even with "Jason" - well, it makes you really question her motives. It makes you wonder if she really did have something to do with "Jessica's" disappearance.   But, as the book goes on Rachael does redeem herself by seeking help.  She doesn't intend to really seek help, it just works out that way and in my eyes it is redeeming. She begins to really fight the disease of alcoholism.  The end was a bit of a surprise, but it seemed to take a long time to get there and I was almost relieved to have the book end.

Bottom line - while The Girl on the Train has been the hit of the year so far, I didn't love it.  I thought that while the ending was not what I expected, it was anti-climatic and fell short.    It is a good read for a rainy afternoon, but it isn't going to make my "Best of" list and I had high expectations that it would.


(27)The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Joe O'Brien is an Irish-Catholic husband, father, and police officer.  He has spent his entire life in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston.  He and his wife live in the house where he grew up and his four adult kids either live with him and Rosie or live in the apartments above their home. Family is important and they all make a point to be there for Sunday dinners.    As a police officer, Joe is well respected throughout his community and he although he is proud to wear the uniform he is counting down until he can retire from the force.  His life is derailed when Rosie suggest he see a doctor. His lack of focus, his volatile temper, and his jerky movements are getting to be too much to ignore.  The diagnosis of Huntington's Disease is crushing.  Joe has is forced to examine his life what he thought he knew to be true about his mother.  But even worse for Joe is the knowledge that each of his four children have a 50% chance of inheriting the fatal disease from him.  As the disease progresses Joe's four children are forced to decide if they want to do the DNA testing available to determine if they will get the disease that will kill their father.

Inside the O'Briens is one of those slow moving books that you don't realize is almost over until you look at the page number.  The author does an amazing job at setting the scene and giving you the history of Joe, Rosie, and their family.  You really feel like you know the O'Briens.  Not just their individual personalities, but the dynamics of the family.  Rosie is devout and hopes that her kids all marry good Irish folk from the neighborhood. JJ is the oldest and is married to a good girl from the neighborhood.  Meghan and Katie are both looking for the "right one",  but Katie is afraid to introduce her boyfriend, Felix to her family.  They might forget that he is black and a Protestant.  But they will never forgive that he is a Yankees fan. Meghan is a talented ballet dancer that has big plans for getting out of Boston, but doesn't know how to tell her parents that have never left the neighborhood they grew up in.  And Patrick is the baby of the family, bar-tending down at the local pub, and going home with a different girl every night. The O'Briens are a close-knit family and Joe's diagnosis has a major impact on all of them,  especially Joe.  There was a scene when Katie sits down with Joe and lays it on the line with him and you knew that the impact it had on him was life changing.   I was captivated by their story and how they all deal with the news that Huntington's Disease is going to rip through their family.

Bottom line -there is never any one thing that is the "main event" of the book, but much like Huntington's Disease itself,  Inside the O'Briens is slow and steady and packs quite a punch.


(26)Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Philidelphia socialite Maddie Hyde knows that her husband's plan to go to Scotland in search of the Loch Ness monster is a bad one, but she also knows that unless they can get back into the good graces of her Father-in-Law they will be destitute and financially ruined.  Unfortunately,  the fact that their trip to Scotland falls in the middle World War II does not dissuade her husband, Ellis and his best friend, Hank.   Ellis is convinced that finding the monster is his only hope.   After a rough passage to Scotland the trio is completely shocked at what they find in the village in the Scottish Highlands.  They find blackout curtains and food rations and air raid sirens and people so broken down by the war that they are just moving through the motions of life.  It was quite a shock to the three that are used to servants and gourmet meals and the security of living in the United States. As the days turn into weeks and months Maddie realizes that her husband is not the man she thought.  He is selfish and cruel and threatens not only her, but the good people of the village that has taken them in. Will Maddie give in to the demands of her husband or will she follow her heart?

At the Water's Edge gives a unique perspective of World War II.  I have read a few novels recently that take place during the World War II era, but none quite like this one.  The author shines a light on how insulated many in the United States was to what was happening across the ocean.  They were aware of the war, obviously, and some did  their part, but it people like Maddie still got to enjoy their society parties and other extravagant items.  There was gossip  that Ellis and Hank faked medical issues to keep themselves out of the war and  Maddie kind of believed that if she ignored the whole thing it would go away.  Obviously burying her head in the sand is not the best way to handle anything. Maddie was the character that evolved the most in this novel. She was left behind while the men went off in search of the Loch Ness monster Maddie  and she got to know the people who ran the inn.  Anna and Meg both have their own war stories to share.  Anna was a bit more prickly than Meg, but I enjoyed watching the way they opened up to Maddie.  And then there was Angus, he was the kind of guy that would definitely catch the eye of any woman.

Bottom line - At the Water's Edge was an absolutely fabulous read.  A most unique love story that will capture your heart and cheering for the good guy to win.  A definite must read!


(25)At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thirty-two year old Helen Carpenter feels like she needs to reboot her life.  She has been divorced for one year and just feels like her life is a complete mess.  Her bratty younger brother, Duncan, had told her about this wilderness survival course in the mountains of Wyoming.  And even though Helen is not really the outdoorsy-type of girl she is committed to spend three weeks trying to get some clarity on her future by hiking through the wilds of Wyoming.  The night before she leaves she runs by her brother's to drop of her dog. She runs into Duncan's childhood best-friend, Jake who happens to be headed to Wyoming,too.   Jake is no longer the goofy, awkward looking guy that she remembers and she is thrown a little off balance when he asks for a ride to Wyoming.  Their trip is mostly uneventful, but there was that one kiss that changes everything Helen thought she knew about Jake and what she wants.   The next three weeks are the most grueling of Helen's life and she pushes herself to extremes she never thought she could do.  And it feels exhilarating.  What will happen when they come down out of the mountains?  Will Helen's new outlook on life continue once she is back home?  And what part will Jake have in her life?

Happiness for Beginners was an absolutely delightful read.  Helen is an interesting character to get to know.  At the beginning of the book she just seems so ... lost.    On the trip out to Wyoming I was thrilled with the developments.  But once they got to Wyoming it was a different game all together.  Helen was the only member of their hiking party in her thirties, in fact their leader looked like he was about fifteen, but she didn't let the frat-boy humor get in her way enjoying the trip. She felt like a complete fish out of water, but still she kept going on.   I really liked how the author showed growth, not only for Helen, but everyone on the trip obviously matured by the time they got back to the lodge.  And then there was Jake.  Helen had demanded that they act like they did not know each other, which was a decision she later regretted.  There were several times that I found myself laughing out loud at Helen's wilderness ineptitude, because frankly, I could see myself doing the exact same things.  It really made the book a fun read.

Bottom line - Happiness for Beginners was a delightful read about a woman who is out to change her life.  It was touching,funny, and even a little bit heartbreaking.  Everything I love in a good book!


(24)Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Friday, March 27, 2015

Seventeen year old Lena Haloway is living in a dystopian Portland, Maine sometime in the future.  She is just days away from being cured.  You see, these days the government administers a cure for the Delirium, that horrible disease that causes people to go weak in the knees, a disease that causes their pulse to race when they are in close proximity to someone of the opposite sex.  In fact, the Delirium only occurs when two people fall in love.  Lena is excited to become cured because  she knows life will be easier after being cured.  She knows that her emotions will settle down and her life will become exactly like that of everyone she knows.   And then she meets Alex, a boy from the Wilds who has managed to hide the fact that he was never cured.  It does not take Lena long to realize that she has feelings for this bad boy and she will do anything to prevent the procedure that will cure her of all love.

Delirium was another "treadmill" book that occupied my time as I racked up more chalories.  There was a lot of back-story and a lot of character development.  When it comes to dystopian novels, that kind of history is really necessary to understand the world in the which the book is set.  Lena is an easy girl to like with somewhat of a sketchy past.  Her mother is a legend throughout Portland because she was never able to be cured, no matter how many times they try.  Her name is very recognizable throughout Portland and that is one of the reasons why Lena is so eager for the procedure.  It is as if her procedure will absolve her mother and her mother's suicide.   Obviously meeting Alex changes all of that.  Lena never dreamed that she would ever become infected with the Delirium, yet here she is.  The concept that love is a disease we must be vaccinated against is an interesting one and I was intrigued by how the author was going to make it happen.  And it did play out in an interesting fashion, I will say that.   I always am up for a good dystopian novel and while Delirium didn't really disappoint me, it didn't really leave me with that "I must rush out and get the next book" feeling.  That could have been though because I only "read" it on the treadmill and it took a month or so to get through it, so it could have lost some if it's excitement.

Bottom line - I love a good dystopian novel and I know that many people absolutely loved Delirium and the subsequent books, but I think maybe I was "cured" from that diseas.  Maybe I will read the rest of the trilogy  - if I have nothing else to read - or maybe I won't. Eh.


(23)Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Happy Tuesday!!