Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Private Detective Tess Monaghan is back in Laura Lippman's new novel, Hush Hush and is hired to assess a security threat to one of the most notorious women in Baltimore.  Melisandre Harris Dawes is the former socialite who killed her baby daughter on a hot summer day.   She was found "Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity" and disappeared from the public eye for nearly a decade.  Now she is back and working with a documentary filmmaker to tell her story, but she fears that people might be out to get her.  When her personal trainer is poisoned Tess starts to realize that Melisandre's fear is based in reality.  Tess and her new partner start digging into the past to find who might want Melisandre dead.   Is it her ex-husband or his new wife?  What about the two teen daughters she left behind when they needed her the most?  Will Tess find the threat before somebody else dies?

Hush Hush was one of those mystery novels that seem almost comforting to me.  Laura Lippman doesn't really fall in the category of "Cozy Mystery" but Tess Monaghan is a familiar character that I have gotten to "know".  Tess and Crow are *this* close to being married and Carla Scarlet is a precocious three year old that keeps both of them on their toes.   Melisandre is a less than likable character.  Almost from her first introduction she rubbed me the wrong way, but I wasn't convinced that she deserved to be in danger.  As always, Tess is on top of things as she tries to get to the bottom of things.  But when she starts receiving stalker-type notes I thought I had figured out who was behind them, but I was way wrong.

Bottom line - Hush Hush was a great mystery with a lot of different little intricacies that leave you continually guessing.   Definitely wort the read if you are in the mood for a good mystery.


(15)Hush Hush by Laura Lippman

Happy Tuesday!!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Quentin Jacobsen is counting down the days until graduation. He and his two best friends, Ben and Radar, have survived high school together and are making plans for prom and the summer.  May 6th was a perfectly ordinary day for Q until that night when his neighbor, old friend, and longtime crust comes knocking on his window.   Margot  Roth Spiegelman, the most popular girl in school is on a mission and she needs Q's help and he is not about to say no.  Margot has thoroughly planned out a night of revenge on her boyfriend and her best friend and anyone else who may have known that they were cheating on Margot.    The night is easily the best night of Q's life and he is excited to go to school the next day to see how things have changed between him and Margot.   But she doesn't show up for school that day.  Or the next day.  And soon it is evident that Margot is gone, but Q is convinced that she needs to be found and he sets off on a mission of his own to find Margot Roth Spiegelman, dead or alive.

One week ago today my Father-In-Law passed away.  The long week ended with me driving my teen step-kids the eighteen hours back to Utah.  One way we passed the time was to listen to an audio book.  I knew that Lexi would listen with me, but I was surprised to look in the review mirror and find the boy-teen laughing with us,  And we did a lot of laughing during Paper Towns.  Q and his friends are hysterical together.  Ben is the friend who thinks he is "hot stuff" but we know that he is far from it.  And Radar (nicknamed from the character on MASH)  is their "token" black friend who is a nerd in every sense of the word.  The fact that his parents own the world's largest collection of black Santa's is just one of those little details that makes this book perfect.   Of course Radar & Ben are with Q as he looks for Margo Roth Spiegelman, because that is what friends do.   Their "treasure hunt" takes them all over Florida and then the entire eastern part of the country.  The group's road trip is one of the funniest things I have "read" in a long time.  We were all laughing at the parallels between Q and his trip and our trip. The main ones being the mini-van and looooong ass drive. We decided if we ever get a van we will call it "The Dreidel"   I tried to get the kids to do a six minute pit stop with me, but they just laughed at me.   I don't want to give spoilers about what they find at the end of their road trip, but I was pleased with the way the book ended.

Bottom line, John Green is easily the undisputed King of Young Adult novels and Paper Towns is another perfect example why.  His stories are engaging and entertaining and guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.  And guess what, - you don't HAVE to be a young adult to enjoy them!

(14)Paper Towns by John Green

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Neva Bradley is a third generation midwife.  She has been attending childbirths ever since she was a young girl and "caught" her first baby when she was fourteen.  It was no surprise to her mother, Grace or her grandmother, Floss that she was going to go into the family business.  Neva works at the local hospital's Birthing Center helping the next generation of women give birth. But it is her own pregnancy that is the topic of conversation among the hospital staff and her own family.  Neva made it 30 weeks into her pregnancy before her family found out that she was pregnant and now she refuses to tell anyone who is the father of her baby.  Grace cannot honor Neva's wishes for privacy and is determined to find out the truth, meanwhile her own career is in jeopardy after a bitter doctor reported her to the Board of Nursing.    As Floss sits back and watches from a distance she is afraid that it might be time to tell Grace and Neva her own secret, one that she vowed never to tell.  Will the three midwives keep their secrets or reveal them to each other?  And what will happen of their secrets are revealed?

The Secrets of Midwives was a fast read.  The chapters are told in alternating voices of the three women, mostly from Neva's view point, in that way that reminded me of Diane Chamberlain.  I loved how Neva was trying to be independent by not telling her family about her pregnancy, yet she was tied to them in such a way that it was obvious secrets are always revealed.  I loved Neva's relationship with the handsome pediatrician, Patrick.  I had hoped that the two of them would end up together, but when Neva finally does reveal the father of her baby, it was a blow to their relationship. I think it was Floss's secret that was most shocking and caused the biggest blow to the family, but it was also eating her alive.  I was pleased with the way things ended, nicely wrapped up with that "happy ever after" feeling.

Bottom line, The Secrets of Midwives is a heartwarming generational tale about a family that sticks together.  Readers are going to relate to either Neva, Grace, or Floss.  Or maybe all three - and that definitely makes this a book worth reading.


(13)The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ian Paine's life has not exactly been picture perfect.  He grew up in a small mining town in upstate New York, The Hollows  where he was bullied for being overweight and a bit of an outcast.   His only friend was a beautiful young woman named, Priss.   Priss was there for him when his mother went crazy and drowned his sister, Priss was there for him when he was picked on during gym class, and she has been there for him most of his life.  Most people don't believe that Priss exists except for in his imagination and in the pages of his hit Graphic Novel Series, Fatboy & Priss.  Those few people who believe that she does exist warns him to stay far away from her.   As an adult, Ian is ready to move on from Priss.  In both his real life and in the graphic novels. Ian has met a wonderful woman, Megan, and is madly in love.  As their relationship progresses and Ian is ready to propose he begins to fear for his life.  Priss is less than pleased that Ian's attention has shifted from her to Megan and when Megan starts experiencing "accidents" Ian realizes that Megan's life might be in danger.    Will Ian be able to get rid of Priss before she does serious harm to the love of his life?

Holy smokes, Crazy Love You is one heck of a thriller.  There are so many twists and turns that you don't know what is real and what isn't.   Ian is a seriously damaged young man.  The events of his past has led him down the path of drugs and alcohol. Anything to make him forget his past and help his creative juices to keep flowing. The way he met Megan was even a bit creepy, but she normalized his life in a way that Ian desperately needed and frankly had wanted his whole life.  Ian was clinging to that normalcy in every way he possibly could - he was as attracted to Megan's "normal" parents as he was to Megan herself.  The whole thing was a bit romantic, a bit gothic.   Then there is Priss - there is such a mysterious element to her that you find yourself questioning Ian's sanity just like the people of The Hollow's did.  Man, it really keeps you on the edge of your seat.   Everything culminates in a heart-pounding, page-turning finale that will wrap everything up nicely without seeming forced or fake.  It really was a work of beauty.

Bottom line, Lisa Unger is one of the best when it comes to weaving a story that causes your heart to race.  Crazy Love You is a story that will suck you in and leave wanting more.   So, so good.


(12)Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger

Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

It was a wet and dreary night the night that Nicky Frank drove her Audi Q5 off the New Hampshire road into the ravine.  When the police get to her she reeks of whisky and is screaming about Vero, who the police believe to be he daughter.  She is severely injured, nearly coherent, and has suffered her third Traumatic Brain Injury in just six months. Her memory is sketchy, but Nicky knows that she must try to save Vero.   Sergeant Wyatt Foster is determined to find the missing girl, but as the hours pass Wyatt isn't so sure that there was even a girl and is determined to get to the bottom of things.   But things get even stranger when it turns out that Nicky is a child that went missing thirty years ago, Veronica Sellers and Nicky's husband has mysteriously disappeared after torching their home.   As the past slowly comes to light, Wyatt is determined to get to the bottom of Nicky's story, but at what cost to Nicky's fragile state of mind?

Crash & Burn was one of those novels that kept you in the edge of your seat.  It was incredibly fast paced and Nicky was a sympathetic character, until you started to wonder if there was something more sinister to her story. You wanted to believe she was this innocent victim, but once the seed of doubt was placed, it was hard to know.  It was also easy to see why Wyatt and his colleagues questioned the role of Nicky's husband in her "mishaps".  Thomas appeared to be attentive to his wife's needs, but he wouldn't be the first abusive husband to put on such a front.  I loved how Lisa Gardner created that doubt in the mind of the reader, it kept me guessing until the very end.   Long time readers of Gardner will also be pleased to know there is an appearance of favorite detective, D.D. Warren.

Bottom line, Lisa Gardner is a master at creating suspense.  Crash & Burn is another successful attempt on her part.  Nicky's story is one that will have you on the edge of your seats.


(11) Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardner

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Drew Silver has screwed up his life in truly epic ways.  He is a washed up musician who makes ends meet by living off of the royalties of his one hit song and  playing wedding gigs and Bar Mitzvahs.  He lives in an efficiency hotel with the other guys who recently have gone through divorce and their days are spent poolside lamenting their wayward lives.  Silver misses the life he once had, the rockstar hero-worship.  He misses his ex-wife, who is about to marry a good guy who has looked after Denise and their teen daughter Casey.  Then one day Casey visits her dad to drop a bombshell.  She is pregnant. Her future at Princeton is questionable. Silver is convinced this happened because of his failure as a parent.  To top off the wonderful week Silver discovers that his own health is at risk and if he doesn't have a life-saving surgery he will die from his torn aorta.  Those around Silver don't understand why he refuses to have the surgery.  But why would he want to extend a life where the highlight of his week is going to donate at the sperm bank.  While Silver is trying to enjoy his final days, his family is trying to convince him that his life is worth living.  What will he decide- to live or to die?

Silver is kind of a pathetic main character.  I just get that "sleazy" vibe from him and his efficiency hotel room, but no matter how pathetic he may be, his family loves him.  His father is a Rabbi, who will be the one officiating Denise's upcoming nuptials.  Which may seem weird, but it is obvious that Silver's family still adores Denise and completely blame Silver for their divorce.   There were a few times when I questioned whether Denise would go through with the marriage.  Then there is Casey, does she have the baby or does she have an abortion? I was almost hoping for a "happy every after" for all of them - instead we were left with an ending that causes the reader to go "WTF?"   The author writes the ending in a way that leaves it up to the reader to interpret what happened and I wasn't all that pleased with that kind of ending.  I want to know what happens, because sometimes my imagination doesn't take me to pretty places.

Bottom line, I have been a big fan of Jonathan Tropper and his incredible sense of wit for years.  Having said that, I was a bit disappointed by One Last Thing Before I Go.  I did not laugh as much as I had hoped and that ending was not nice at all.   But, it is Jonathan Tropper, so definitely worth the read.  Just go into it know it is not one of his best works.


(10)One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Happy Tuesday!!

Lauren Cunningham has always been enchanted by London. Even as a young woman she had posters of the London skyline on her wall.  She is in her late twenties before she decides to ditch life in Maine and head to London.  It doesn't take her long to realize that dating in London is not that much different than dating in the States and it is brutal.  So Lauren hits the books.  She decides to dedicate a year of her life to following the dating advice of self-help books such as The Rules and The Game. She will do daring things completely out of character for her all with the hopes of finding true love.  Things like participating in a threesome, attending a BDSM club,  online dating, and creating calling cards right out of the Victorian era, but will all of her efforts yield the results that she hopes for - true love?

Love by the Book was definitely a fun and light-hearted read,  Lauren's willingness to be daring reminded me a lot of Carrie Bradshaw (if you don't know Carrie Bradshaw you are dead to me).  I was almost envious of her carefree, try-anything mentality.  I was much more reserved as a single woman, that is for sure. Although I admit to reading more than one of the same books Lauren did, I certainly did not implement with the same success.  If I could relate to anything in Love by the Book  it is definitely that feeling like a country is calling you home.  I feel that way about Ireland. We are lucky enough to have Melissa Pimentel join us for a Q & A today.
Q& WITH MELISSA PIMENTEL, AUTHOR OF LOVE BY THE BOOK Q: Although LOVE BY THE BOOK is a novel, the premise comes from an experiment that you conducted in your own life, that you turned into a blog called “Love by the Book.” What made you want to try this and how did you come up with the idea? 
A:The idea came after a year of semi-successful dating in London. I’d come out of a serious relationship the year before (a marriage, in fact) so I wasn’t looking for anything remotely serious… and yet every time I tried to convey that to a guy, they seemed to think I was trying to trick them. It was getting annoying, so when the idea came to me to try these different dating guides – and effectively turn my love life into a science experiment – it instantly appealed. I’ve always thought that dating should be fun – when I was in college, I used to play a game called “wrong or funny” with my roommate in which we’d get ourselves in slightly awkward/controversial situations with guys and then ask each other if the situation was wrong or funny (the best ones were both) – so this felt like killing two birds with one stone: making a game out of dating and also (maybe, hopefully) learning something about male behavior along the way. 
Q: Why did you decide to write this as a novel and not as a memoir? 
A: In truth, I ran out of material! The real-life experiment was going really well for a few months. It was fun (if exhausting) and the blog was starting to get some traction… but then lo and behold, I went on a first date with one of the test subjects and fell in love. It was sort of a double-edged sword: on the one hand, I was happy to have met the love of my life (we’re now engaged) but on the other, I was kind of annoyed that I had to give up the project. I actually tried to keep it going for the first month we were together, but it was getting too weird. An editor at Penguin who had been following the blog suggested a try to fictionalize it, and here we are! I’m actually really glad that it ended up being a novel rather than a memoir, as fiction allowed me to be more creative about what happens to Lauren. I was able to incorporate dating horror stories that my friends had told me and also invent situations, which was really satisfying. Though I have to say, real life is often more ridiculous than fiction! 
Q: How do you think the dating world has changed in the last two decades? What rules are the same and what rules are different? 
A:I think that there’s more choice out there for everyone, which can be both a good and a bad thing. Women are more comfortable with saying that they’re looking for no-strings sex and I think there’s less pressure on women to settle down and couple off before they’re ready – which is obviously a good thing. I get the feeling that women in their twenties are less concerned about finding Mr. Right (GOD I hate that phrase) than the generation before them, and their focus now is more on their career/friends/self/life in general than getting some dude to buy them a ring. I do think it’s taking guys longer to catch on to that mentality, though, and a lot of guys still think that if a woman has sex with them, that means wants to marry them. And it doesn’t. There’s also all the choice that online dating has brought about. Think back to Jane Austen times, when there were basically three eligible bachelors in any given neighborhood, so chances were good that you’d end up with one of them. These days, basically every single person within a five mile radius is just a message or a swipe away. This amount of choice is amazing in some ways – what if all three of those bachelors in Austen’s neighborhood were dicks? – but also sort of overwhelming. If everyone’s available, what’s the incentive of giving the person you’re going on a first date with a fair shot? Or the guy who’s photo doesn’t ring your bell, but who might be super charming and funny in person? And Christ only knows that men feel the same way, if not more. I read an interview recently with the two most popular people on a big online dating site – a straight guy and a straight girl. Both received hundreds of messages from prospective suitors. The girl was clearly a little freaked out by it, and the attention had made her more selective, while the guy was like, THIS IS AMAZING. There are a couple of things that have remained the same, though. The first, more superficial, thing is that everyone loves a chase. For whatever reason, the human race appears to be hardwired to desire the things/people/situations we can’t have, and that is certainly true of dating. As sad and anachronistic as it sounds, if you want a guy to pay more attention to you, pay less attention to him. Don’t text him for a while. Date other guys. Men have some sort of radar about this: if they feel your attention is elsewhere, they’ll want to get it back. The second, arguably more important, thing is that when it happens, it happens. Dating should be fun! Turning it into a serious issue won’t get you any closer to finding your soulmate, but putting yourself in awkward/unexpected situations just might. Be open to anything but expect nothing. Love is a weird animal and it will sneak up on you when you least expect it. Just make sure you have a lot of fun before it gets you.
Q: What was the most ridiculous thing that’s happened to you on a date? 
A: Oh, god. So many. There was the guy who ordered two drinks for my every one, and then ended up so shitfaced I had to put him in a cab. The guy who ate seemingly an entire head of garlic at dinner and then planted a kiss on me so bad that it made me cancel our second date. The professor who lured me to his apartment with the promise of giving me a book he’d mentioned, only to try to (literally) trap me in his kitchen as he offered to be my sugar daddy… honestly, it got to the point where I was surprised when I went on a non-ridiculous date. And a little disappointed. 
Q: What’s the lamest excuse a guy has given you when they come down with “The Fear?” 
A: Well, as in the book, a man did literally choose watching Football Focus (which is a show in the UK dedicated to a bunch of talking heads discussing the Premiere League) over having sex with me, which was a low. And there was another who told me that I was looking for too much commitment when I suggested we try seeing each other more than once every six weeks. Actually, that was the same guy… Hmm. 
Q: You’ve worked in the publishing industry for you entire career, currently at Curtis Brown in London. Did you find that your experience has helped you during the writing and acquisition process? How does it feel to be the writer instead of the agent? 
A: I honestly don’t think I would have written this book if I didn’t work in the industry. I would never have had the courage (or the will) to go off on my own volition, write an entire novel, submit it to agents… no way. I would have been way too nervous and self-conscious. I feel incredibly lucky that the editor at Penguin UK, Hana, approached me about the idea and that my great friend and colleague, Felicity, agreed to be my agent. I also feel incredibly guilty, as I know there are so many people out there writing away and hoping to get published one day, and I sort of fell into it. (Though the writing of the actual book was actually pretty tricky while holding down a full-time job, so I will allow myself a little bit of credit). As for being on the other side of things, it’s actually been really fascinating! I definitely have a bigger respect for the publishing process as a whole. There are so many people involved in the process, and so much work goes into making the finished product – it’s sort of breathtaking to witness. As a writer, you’re sat at your desk pecking away at a keyboard for months on end and then suddenly you’re swept up in this huge publishing machine. It’s really impressive to see it in action.      

Q: Did any of the dating guides give you a tip that actually worked? 
A: Two things really worked: playing hard to get, as per The Rules (which I was pretty bad at, because I’m impatient and also because PATRIARCHY!) and flirting with everyone you come across, as per the 1920s guide, The Technique of the Love Affair. This was so much fun and such a big confidence booster – it really proved to me that if you have your light on and you’re open and receptive, basically anyone and everyone will flirt back. And that’s really fun. 
Q: Which guide ended up helping the most? Which was the biggest disaster? 
A: I think The Technique of the Love Affair was the most successful in that it was the most fun and definitely made me change the way I went about my everyday business. Even the morning commute started to be fun, as I’d try to get as many cute guys to make eye contact with me as possible (though this is slightly risky on the Tube, where there might be a psychopath waiting quietly behind that cute veneer). The most disastrous was probably Why Men Love Bitches, because I was trying to shoehorn it into my life after I’d met my partner. Also, while I appreciated the sentiment – I completely agree that no woman should feel like they need to accommodate a guy’s every whim and fancy – but I thought the wording was a little off. You can be a strong, independent woman who tells men what you want and what you think (men should and do love that) without being a bitch. No one likes an asshole. 
Q: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to someone who considers themselves cursed in the dating world? 
A: Broaden your horizons. Go out with the guy who doesn’t seem like your type, or whose picture is a little weird, or who’s two inches shorter than your ideal height. You never know what you’re going to find. And try to enjoy yourself – obviously dating can be excruciating at times, but there are so many other elements of life that cause stress and unhappiness. Dating really should be one of the enjoyable parts. And if at all possible, play Wrong or Funny. It’s seriously so much fun.
Thank you to Melissa Pimentel for such a fun Q and A session.  Bottom line, Love by the Book is a fresh twist on dating in the twenty-first century.  Definitely a fun read.

  • Love by the Book by Melissa Pimentel 
  • Pages: 336
  • Publisher: Penguin Group
  • Publication date: February 3 ,2015
  • Buy It Here!

(9)Love by the Book by Melissa Pimentel

Monday, February 2, 2015

Isabelle and Vianne are two French sisters who have not had an easy life.  Their mother died when they were young and their father  sent the sisters away to live with distant family so he could drown his grief in whiskey.  Even though Vianne was the much older sister she wanted very little to do with young Isabelle, instead finding solace in a local boy.  Over the years the sisters grew further apart and tried very hard to forget the other existed.  Until World War II and the French surrendered to the Germans.  Then the sisters had one thing in common - survival.  But, they go about it in different ways.  Isabelle runs off to work with the Resistance in shepherding fallen airmen across the Pyrenees Mountains to freedom.   Isabelle knows that what she is doing is dangerous and could get her killed or worse - sent to a Camp, but she does it because it is all she can do.   Vianne stays behind in their little village and tries to survive the best she can with a German officer staying in her home.   But when the SS comes for Vianne's best friend, Rachel, her place in the war has been solidified.  Vianne knows that she must help the young Jewish children of her village, she must keep them safe when their parents are sent off to the camps.  Will the two sisters survive the war despite the great risks they are taking and at what cost to their relationship - to their family?

The Nightingale is quite the powerful novel about love and honor in the face of the most horrific situations.  The story starts out in Oregon in 1995 with an elderly woman who is preparing to sell her home and move into a nursing home to please her son, Julien.  She is remembering the woman she once was and the life she once led in France.  The story then flashes back to 1939 France and we meet Isabelle and Vianne.  As with any Kristin Hannah novel, it is so easy to get lost in the story full of love and war, but more so in The Nightingale.  The story takes us to another time and place that often gets forgotten in our daily lives.   The two sisters are so different.  Isabelle is young and impetuous.  A rebel.  And Vianne is a complacent wife and mother who just wants to keep her head down and do as told.    You can see right away where the different temperaments would cause friction between the two sisters and the friction is there for most of the novel, sometimes to the point of frustration for the reader, but in the end it only adds to the story.It takes Vianne a while to fully understand the atrocities of the war, but once she does, there is no stopping her.   Vianne and Isabelle may be fictional characters, but men and women all over Europe were performing similar acts of heroism during the war and The Nightingale draws attention to those forgotten heroes and it is important that we remember those acts of heroism.

Bottom line, it is easy for my generation to let the atrocities of World War II fall to the far recesses of our mind.  We didn't live through it, odds are our parents didn't live through it either, or if they did they were too young to remember.  We likely don't have that personal connection to keep us from forgetting.    It is why books like The Nightingale are so important, they keep us from forgetting and help us to remember that our world is safe because so many lost their lives to ensure it.


(8)The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Anna Wyatt has just turned 40 and is taking an inventory of her life.  She is recently divorced from a man she was married to for eleven years and never really loved.  She is the oldest child of a couple that really shouldn't have had children.  Her younger brother is a train-wreck that can't do wrong in Anna's eyes.  The one highlight in her life is her career, she works for a successful ad agency in the Washington DC area and has a great idea to land a subsidiary of a large pharmaceutical company which could lead to landing the big fish.  Her plan takes her and her colleague, Sasha, to Phoenix where they are attending RomanceCon.  A convention for the readers and writers of romance novels.  The girls are hoping to sign the winner of the Romance Novel Cover Model of the Year to be the spokesman for their new ad campaign.  But it is handsome businessman, Lincoln Mallory who catches Anna's eye.  Is their romance one that will last or will it end when their respective conventions end?  And will Anna and Sasha land their big account or will they lose out to the "boys club" that dominates the advertising industry?

Girl Before a Mirror was just the kind of read that I needed. It was fun, empowering, and even a bit emotional.  Anna Wyatt is a character that was easy to like.  The relationship she has with her brother is sweet, if not a bit dysfunctional.  Her relationship with Lincoln was much the same, sweet, if not a bit dysfunctional.  And it was obvious that Anna was at the top of her game when it came to her career.  There was a real "Girl Power" moment that just left me practically cheering out loud.   It was almost inspiring to think, if Anna can go after what she wants, why can't I?  Girl Before a Mirror was such a good read, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Bottom line, Girl Before a Mirror is a true "girl power" novel that will give a boost to anyone needing to know that they can be the heroine of their own story!


(7)Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 26, 2015

In First Frost Sarah Addison Allen takes us back to the magical world of Bascom, North Carolina.  The Waverley's are eagerly awaiting the First Frost and the blossom of that magical apple tree in the backyard.  Claire is working her magic through her baking, Sydney is working her magic through her salon and trying to keep her teenage daughter, Bay, from falling for the wrong boy.  Together they are all leading the life that they were meant to lead.  Life is grand until an elderly man makes an appearance in Bascom that threatens the security of the Waverley family.  Will they be able to get past his threats or will their family crumble?

In Bascom, North Calorina, Sarah Addison Allen has created one of those magical places that just sucks you away from the world you live in.  The Waverely family has those magical, mystical qualities that just make life seem.... enchanting.   It was great to catch up with the characters we first met way back in Garden Spells.  It was also great to see that the Waverley magic has carried on into the next generation.  Bay and Mariah both have skills that carry on the family tradition.    In the end, everything works out just like you would expect for the Waverely family, but it leaves you sad to say good-bye.

Bottom line, Sarah Addison Allen knows how to create an enchanting world that has you longing to visit.  First Frost is another installment in that magical world.  Perfect for an afternoon escape.


(6)First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

For as long as she can remember Patience Smith has had a fondness for romance.  She got sucked into Harlequin romance novels from a young age and thought that her life would play out just like one of her romance novels.  When will the billionaire boss notice how beautiful she is while at work and sweep her off her feet?  Patience even gets a temp job after college because that is what all the heroines do in the romance novels.   She pursues her quest for romance in Ohio, France, and New Mexico before finally finding her way to New York City where Patience seeks out a job in publishing.  After a brief stint with Simon & Schuster Patience lands the "Holy Grail" of jobs. An assistant editor at Harlequin.  As an assistant editor she has unlimited access to all the romance novels she can possibly devour, yet she has still to meet "The One."   Not that she hasn't tried, signing up for every dating site she can find online.  Bur it is a Facebook request from an old high school friend that sparks Patience to believe that she may have found true love.  Will Patience find her "Happy Ever After?"

When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.  Then I thought that maybe I don't have the skill to be a writer, not a good writer anyway.  So then I decided I wanted to be an editor, that way I could read all the books I wanted.  Instead of becoming an editor, I became a blogger and have more books than I can possibly read in a lifetime.   I felt a real kinship with Patience for many reasons.  My grandmother (may she rest in peace) kept me stocked with an endless supply of Harlequin romance novels.  Which led me to find all of the trashy romance novels that I could find.  Patience also had a love for all the movies I loved.   She mentions them throughout her novel, Pride & Prejudice, Pretty Woman,  and Sex and the City to name a few.  All of the references to the movies and books made Romance is My Day Job a fun read.  Even her experience with online dating was something I could relate to, really what woman in their thirties hasn't dated online?

Bottom line, Romance is My Day Job is a book that will likely resonate with a lot of women.  What woman doesn't love a good romantic novel where the heroine is seeking out true love?  Be sure to check out Patience's story.

  • Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom
  • On Facebook
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication Date: February 6, 2014
  • Publisher: Penguin Group USA
  • Buy it Here!

(5) Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Twenty-seven year old Daisy Richmond is a student, a wife, a daughter, and a breast cancer survivor.  She is gearing up for her "Cancerversary" when a routine follow-up reveals that the cancer is back.  She has four months. The news stuns her in a way that takes your breath away.  Her husband, Jack, is just months away from graduating from vet school and Daisy has chosen that to be her point of focus.  Jack's graduation.  As he buries himself in work Daisy tries to make his life as easy as possible so that he can make it to that graduation date.  She enlists the help of her best-friend, Kayleigh for such tasks as going to the funeral home.  Oh and finding Jack his next wife. .She thinks she may have the perfect woman for him chosen, Pamela and finds that Pamela shows up in their lives in the most unexpected places.  As the days slip away Daisy becomes more symptomatic and she finds herself becoming more confused, hurt, and afraid.   She wants Jack to find happiness once she is gone, but she wants him to remain by her side until she is gone.  Will having Pamela come into their lives ruin the rest of her life?

There are very few people in this world who has not had a loved one stricken by this horrible, horrible disease.  Cancer is one of those indiscriminate diseases that can strike people of any age, any walk of life.  Colleen Oakley tackles the topic in Before I Go.   Daisy and Jack are a busy young couple, they may be overachievers, but they have goals and dreams. When Daisy gets the news that the cancer is back it is easy to get caught up in the myriad of emotions that nearly swallow Daisy whole. The shock, the disbelief that Daisy feels is so gripping that it made my stomach hurt with fear and anxiety. Most of the book is Daisy walking around in almost a daze as she tries to process the fact that she will not be here.  Sometimes those feelings manifest themselves in less than constructive ways, like fighting with her best friend,  Kayleigh or going for days without speaking to her husband. It is just one way the author address the complexities that come when you find out that you are dying.   It is tough to read.  And more tough to live, I imagine.

Bottom line, a few weeks before Christmas a colleague of mine shared with our team that his thirty-one year old wife has a recurrence of breast cancer. It has spread and it can not be cured.  I read Before I Go with them and their four year old son on my mind. It made the story even more real to me as I tried to imagine those emotions and feelings that my friend and his wife are going through.  Before I Go may be tough for some people to read, but most definitely worth the read for anyone who has a loved one in the fight for their life.


(4)Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Don Tillman and his bride, Rosie are back.  They are ten months into their marriage and living in New York City.  Don is a visiting genetics professor at Columbia and Rosie is going to school for both her Phd. and Md. They are also both working a part-
time gig at a local bar. They are busy, but they  have settled into marriage.   They still encounter bumps in the road given Don's quirky demeanor, but Don is trying hard to make things easy for Rosie.   But then  Rosie drops a bombshell, she is pregnant. They have never discussed children, but there is no turning back now.  Don embraces this piece of information as he does with all new experiences, he sets out to research it to death.  From reading What to Expect When You Are Expecting to doing research at a nearby park(it did not end well), Don is committed to doing what he needs to do for Rosie and their BUD (baby under development).   He just forgets to tell Rosie that he is all in and his lack of communication may cause him to lose her and the baby forever.

I find myself very fond of Don Tillman and I can empathize with Rosie in so many ways.  Many of Don's mannerisms remind me of my husband in that geeky, anti-social sort of way.  This line reminding me of my husband: "My love for Rosie was so powerful that it had caused my brain to make a grammatical error." I laughed out loud, because I understand that for Don, making errors never happen. If nothing else about Don is made clear, let this be known, he is a man who loves his wife and shows that love in a million different ways, even if he doesn't say it.  There were several times throughout The Rosie Project that I found myself chuckling out loud. His arrest at the park, his interaction with the Air Marshall, his participation with the Lesbian Mothers project.  All were funny, awkward, and definitely Don Tillman. Thanks to my husband I am very much a fan of all things geek and in the last few years it has become obvious that the geeks shall inherit the earth.

Bottom line, The Rosie Effect  was about as perfect as it gets for sequels.  Don, Rosie, and their collection of friends return in the fun, yet quirky sequel to the tale that captured our hearts last year.  Be sure to pick up The Rosie Effect and catch up with your friends.

  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  • Pages:352
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication Date: December 30. 2014

(3)The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Rizzoli, Isles, and the rest of the gang are back teal with the murder of a big game taxidermist.  Leon Gott wasn't just murdered, but completely gutted and hung just like many of the animals he stuffs.  As Rizzoli and the team start the process of locating his murderer they are lead back to the local zoo where a zookeeper is mauled by a tiger.  Then they are led to Maine where a petty thief was murdered the same way that Gott was murdered.  And finally they are led to Botswana where a group on safari were led into the Delta, but only one made it out alive.  Will Rizzoli and Isles be able to find the murderer before the lone survivor of that expedition finishes her off?

I was a fan of Rizzoli and Isles long before I read any of the books. I was pleased to find out that when I did read a Tess Gerritsen novel the show sticks pretty closely to the books.  The same key characters, the same basic storyline.  I will say that it did make me sad to find that Frost is still in the books.  It broke my heart when Lee Thompson Young died and the show handled it in such a classy way.  I always have loved the Frost character so it was bittersweet to see him in Die Again.  It was easy to get sucked into the story of Leon Gott's murdered.  The book starts out in Botswana and the group on safari and it takes a while to figure out how it ties together to the murder in Boston, but when the pieces start coming together it will blow your mind!    In the end it was surprising to find out "whodunnit" but that is just the way I like my mystery novels.

Bottom line - Tess Gerritsen is a master when it comes to writing mystery novels.  Her two characters Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles have become synonymous with mysteries and murders on the streets of Boston.  Die Again is another prime example of her exemplary skills!


(2)Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

Saturday, January 3, 2015

In 1986 Annabelle and Jade were just eleven years old on the hot summer day that Chloe died and they were convicted of the crime.  After serving time in juvie they were both released with new names and a condition of their probation is to never, ever see each other again.    They have adhered to those regulations for over twenty years.  Annabelle is now Amber Gordon, a supervisor at the Funland amusement park and Jade is now Kristy Lindsay, a married reporter with two children. Their worlds intersect when a woman is found murdered at Funland. For Kristy and Annabelle seeing each other brings up a myriad of emotions, including fear about having their past revealed.  When another body turns up the two women try to stay far apart from each other, but they keep getting thrown together while Britain's Southern Coast is terrorized by a murderer.   Will they be able to keep their past a secret?  And will the murderer be caught before anyone else dies?

The Wicked Girls was the best kind of book to listen to on audiobook.  Because it is set on the Southern Coast of England, the narrator has that delicious British accent.  I loved how the book flashes back to that summer in 1986.  As Annabelle and Jade's story unfolds it gives you an understanding for who Kristy and Amber are today.  Even though Amber and Kristy were so different I found myself liking both women.  I found myself empathizing with them even more once the truth of what happened that summer is revealed.   It is easy for society as a whole to jump to conclusions and assume the worst of anybody, but there is always a more to the story. Always.   I wouldn't say that The Wicked Girls had a happy ending, but it was an ending that I could live with, even if it did make me a bit sad.

Bottom line, The Wicked Girls is one of those mysteries that is layered with mystery, suspense, and intrigue.   You will find yourself lost as much in the story of Jade and Annabelle as you will in the story of Amber and Kristy.  So worth the read and you can find it in the Bargain Section for just $2.99!


(1)The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Every year the one thing you can count on is that everybody and their brother puts out a "Best of 2014" list. I love reading the "Best of 2014" lists because I love to compare lists and get other people's thoughts on books I either read or didn't read.  But the thing that gets me about "Best of " lists,  is often times the lists are printed weeks before the year is actually over.  I hesitate to do that because what if I read the best book ever on New Year's Eve? What then?  Do you revise your list?  Do you move it to a "Best of 2015" list? So I thought I would hold off doing my year-end list until it was really the end of the year.

My "Best of 2014" is a mixture of chick lit, memoirs, mysteries, and dystopian. A little bit of everything. As You Wish by Cary Elwes was a fun memoir about a a movie that brings back lots of memories with every line and every "As you wish!"  

Station Eleven made the "Best of 2014" list for just about everybody, myself included.The dystopian tale focused on a traveling Shakespeare troupe captivated everyone who dared to pick up this book.   I think it was the only book of the year that I read to universally make the "Best of 2014" list.

I think my favorite book of the year has to go to What Nora Knew.  Not many people would even dare to put a Chick Lit novel on the "Best of 2014" list, but it is one that I completely adored.  Linda Yellin's homage to the late, great Nora Ephron was perfect in every way. The light-hearted feel to the book was exactly like what you would expect to find in the middle of a Nora Ephron movie.

What books made it to the top of your "Best of 2014" list?  Were they books found on other lists or only on yours?  What made them shoot right to the top of your list?  And for reference, I have included links to several of  the "Best of 2014" lists.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It has been twelve years since Kate Waithman's husband, Patrick was killed in a tragic car accident.  It took her nearly ten years to start dating again and now Dan has proposed to her.  She loves Dan and enjoys being with him, but he is not Patrick. And a small part of her can't help but wishing that he was Patrick.   Then Kate gets devastating news that she is not able to have children and it wasn't until that moment that how much she wants children and how much she regrets not having children with Patrick.  That night she dreams of Patrick and the life she would have had if Patrick had not died. It was the first dream in a series of extremely vivid dreams that leaves Kate longing for Patrick and the life she intended to have.  A life that includes a deaf daughter, Hannah. A life that includes a lifetime of memories.  A life that is not marred by tragedy.    It is the dreams that prompt Kate to take an American Sign Language class so that she can communicate with her the daughter of her dreams.  The ASL class is the first step down a path that  Kate  never thought she would ever take.  Will that path lead her away from her late husband and towards Dan?  Or the complete opposite?

The Life Intended is a tender novel about one woman and her seemingly insurmountable grief.  At first she never thought that she would never be able to date again, let alone fall in love, but then she meets Dan.   They seem to fit well with each other and are both at an age that marriage only makes sense, but it is quite obvious to everyone, including the reader, that Dan isn't really the perfect guy for Kate. It is easy to fall under the spell of Kate and her dreams and it is hard to see her hurting every-time she wakes up from a dream. With every dream she has, it is quite obvious that she still has not come to grips with Patrick's death. Until she starts taking the ALS classes.  When Kate meets Andrew and becomes involved with the children in the foster system you start to piece together exactly what life has in store for Kate.  Her relationship with the kids makes it clear that Kate was meant to be a mother and Kate's circle of family and friends know it as well.

Bottom line, The Life Intended  starts out like dozens of other novels, but with every passing page it becomes more and more unique.   Kate is a great character and her story is one that could rip your heart out, but with the twists and turns Kate's story ends up just the way life intended.


Pages: 368
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication Date: December 30, 2014
  • Buy it Here!

(106)The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Grace Chapman and her husband, Ted Chapman are well known in the literary world.   Grace was a cookbook editor before marrying bestselling author Ted.  They have led a charmed life as Ted churns out one bestseller after another.  They live on a charming little farm outside a charming little village outside of the city.  Over the years of their marriage Grace has perfected the art of managing Ted.  His ego, his career, his happiness.  But it is exhausting and deciding to hire an assistant saved their marriage once and Grace is hoping it will save their marriage again.  Enter Beth McCarthy.   She appears to be the answer to their prayers, diving right into their household and managing things that have been in desperate need of being managed.  But with every passing that Beth is present, Grace seems to slowly be falling apart.  Moody, emotional, volatile and then she is diagnosed as bipolar.  Her whole world spirals out of control and Beth seems to step into her life in a way that becomes more frightening with each passing day.   Will Grace be able to save her marriage and the life she has built for herself or will this interloper destroy everything?

I adore Jane Green in a way that I reserve for beloved Aunties.  I have been reading her books so long that it feels as if I know her.  I don't know if Saving Grace is a mirror of her own life as a successful, best selling author, but if so - yee gads. It was rather clear that Grace is the epitome of her name.  She exudes class and respect in so many ways that many women aspire to be just like her.  She is elegant and poised and utterly devoted to her husband's career.  As the book goes on and Grace starts spiraling out of control in ways that is almost frightening.  Early on it was so clear that Beth was behind it all and I found it a bit frustrating that it took Grace so long to put it all together.   I was a bit disappointed in how predictable it turned out to be.    What kept me turning the page was I wanted to see if Ted would eventually come to the same conclusion and would it be in time to save their marriage.   I was pleased with the way that Saving Grace ended.

Bottom line, even though Saving Grace is a bit predictable, Grace is a character that will quickly enamor you with her graceful elegance.  It is Grace herself that keeps you turning the pages even though you can predict what will likely happen.   Predictable, but definitely worth the read.

  • Saving Grace by Jane Green
  • Pages: 352
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication Date: December 30, 2014
  • Buy it Here!

(105)Saving Grace by Jane Green

Happy Tuesday!!