Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Television writer Georgie McCool knows that her family will be disappointed that she can't miss work to go back to Nebraska for Christmas. Georgie knows that her husband Neal is at his breaking point and fed up with her long hours, work-husband, and awkward networking industry events. But this is her dream come true.  The show she has been working on with her writing partner has the potential of getting picked up, but it means they have to work through Christmas. After sending her family off Georgie knows that she may have made a marriage-ending mistake.  She seeks sanctuary at her mother's house and in her childhood room she has to resort to using the old landline when her cell phone conks out on her.   But it isn't 2013 Neal that she finds on the other end of the line, but 1998 Neal just days before he proposes to her.   Through those conversations Georgie starts to realize just how much her world would change without Neal in it.  Then she realizes that she may have altered things already by even continuing to make those calls on the Landline.   Did she just change the course of the future?  And if not, will Georgie be able to save the marriage she does treasure above all else?

My October has been nothing but a blur of baseball and a sick dog.  Last week we said good-bye to our dog and tonight my Royals are playing in Game 7 of the World Series (and currently losing by one).   I made a FAST trip to Kansas City last weekend to watch baseball with my family. So what do you do when you have a 32-hour round trip car drive?  Listen to audio-books of course.   Georgie McCool is a great character who is waging a battle millions of women battle everyday.  Work vs. Family.  Georgie is lucky that she has a husband willing to stay home and raise their girls, allowing her to pursue her dreams.  But it is obvious to Georgie, Neal, and the readers that she is taking advantage of him.   Rainbow Rowell tackles this issue with such heartfelt honesty that it is easy to fall in love with this story.  Anyone who has been married knows that marriage is tough.  There is a give and take that has to happen to keep things in balance. When there is an excessive amount of give without a lot of take things start breaking down.  As it gets closer and closer to Christmas, Georgie realizes that she has been taking far more than she has been giving and it may destroy her marriage.  As a wife who is COMPLETELY spoiled by a "giving" husband, it was a bit humbling to read and forced me to think about the balance in my own marriage.   I loved the way the book ended and it left me with that "warm-fuzzy" feeling.

Bottom line, Landline got a lot of much deserved hype this summer.   Rainbow Rowell has written a wonderful little novel examining the intricate ins and outs of marriage.  A definite must read for anyone who is a wife, will be a wife, or wants to be a wife.


The Details:

(90)Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I recently learned that my husband has never seen The Princess Bride. I remember guffawing with shock and informed him that we would be rectifying the situation rather quickly.  The Princess Bride is one of those movies that has a defining place in the memory bank of anyone who has seen it. For me it was in my high school Spanish class. We had watched the movie, dubbed in Spanish, probably half a dozen times.  In order to pass the class we had to say the "Hello my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die" in Spanish.  It is about the only Spanish I can speak to this day.

Given my long love of both the book and the movie, I was ecstatic to receive an ARC of As You Wish, a book about the making of the movie by Cary Elwes.   Not only do we get "Westley's" take on the making of the movie, but there are very special guest appearance from Mandy Pantakin, Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Rob Reiner, Bill Goldman, and more.  The book is primarily Cary Elwes's experience, but it was thrilling to get input from everyone else involved in the movie.  There are so many funny stories that were shared that I found myself laughing out loud more than once.  The funniest story shared had to be when the late Andre the Giant let out a fart so loud and so long it rattled the walls of the castle.  I had serious belly laughs at the descriptive nature of the writing.   I was a bit surprised at how much of the book was devoted to the late Andre the Giant, but in reading the book, I understand why.  He played such an important role both on and off screen.  It was sweet to read and makes me a little sad to think of how much the world missed out on his talent.   During the Billy Crystal/Carol Kane scenes, the director, Rob Reiner had to leave the set because he couldn't stop laughing at Crystal's improv.  Little stories like that lets you know that the magic of the movie wasn't imagined, the magic was there both on-screen and off-screen.

Bottom line, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book so much.  It was a quick read, but one I didn't want to end.  Even after twenty-five years, The Princess Bride , for great reason, is one of the most beloved movies of all time and Cary Elwes's book is just another reminder why.  If you have a fan in your life, As You Wish would make a great Christmas gift.

The Details:

(89)As You Wish by Cary Elwes

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It has been a busy October in the Naylor house.  Between the Kansas City Royals being in the postseason for the first time in twenty-nine years (Let's Go Royals!!)  and having a really sick puppy, I haven't been able to get much reading done.  But, we have a few days before the World Series starts and I was able to take a few hours this morning and get a book under my belt.

Kristan Higgins takes us back to the quaint little town of Manningsport, New York in her new book, In Your Dreams.  Jack Holland  is the town hero for recently rescuing a group of boys that took a drive into the local lake.  Jack has kind of made it a hobby of his to be the rescuer all all things sad and desperate.  Including his ex-wife, Hadley.   Emmaline Neal is an officer on the Manningsport's minuscule police department. She was there the night Jack dived into the water and now she needs help.  She was invited to her ex-fiance's wedding and she needs a date.  Jack agrees to go with Em, but he he didn't expect how much fun he would have with her.  They hit it off and Jack now wants to be more than just Em's fake fiance.   Jack and Em are both strong personalities who have struck out in the love department.  Will they be able to put their past relationship failures behind them and look to the future?

In Your Dreams was a fun read with characters I have come to know and love.   Emmaline Neal has to be one of my favorite Kristan Higgins characters.  She has overcome a lot of feelings of inadequacies to find her place in Manningsport. The quaint little town and it's people have adopted Em as one of their own and I love that.  Jack Holland is obviously one of the "town's sons" and can do no wrong in their eyes. They are perfect for each other.  I think their story really is one of my favorites so far. I laughed & I cried as they went through their ups and downs on the road to true love.

Bottom line, Kristan Higgins is one of the most beloved romance writers for a reason.  Her characters are funny, engaging, romantic, and real.  That "realness" translates extremely well to readers and makes it difficult to put down any of her books.  If you haven't tried any of her books, you simply must do so immediately.

The Details:

(88)In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Riley MacPherson's has come home to New Bern in order to settle her father's estate.   She doesn't really want to shoulder this responsibility all alone, but she really has no choice.  Her mother died seven years ago. her older sister, Lisa, committed suicide over twenty years ago, and her older, Danny, is fighting a losing battle with PTSD,  So it falls on her and as she goes through the motions she starts to uncover all sorts of secrets about her family. Like before committing suicide her sister was accused of murder.   Like the fact that she may have been adopted.  Like the fact that her father used to be a U.S, Marshall, and her sister may actually still be alive?  Riley is completely overwhelmed by all of the information she has uncovered and she digs deeper she finds out even more information to rock her to her core and changes everything she ever thought about her family.  Will Riley be able to wade through all of the secrets to find the truth and what will happen if she gets exactly what she wants?

Diane Chamberlain knows how to make a girl want to read.  The Silent Sister is such a captivating read, I didn't want it to end.  Riley is a great character, she has her life together and we first meet her as she is just starting to deal with her father's estate.  The funeral is over and now she has to deal with his collections, his house, his RV park, and everything else you have to deal with when a parent dies. Riley wants her older brother Danny to be the kind of brother that helps her shoulder the responsibility, but he is not that kind of guy and instead it is an old family friend, Jeannie that helps Riley. It isn't until Riley starts uncovering the secrets that she realizes her entire life has been a lie.    At about the halfway point in the book we get to see another side of the story and that sheds some light on the truth. Is it her Dad's view point?  Her brother's view point?   I don't want to give away too much here, but I will say that it really heats things up and gives some validation to Riley's new feelings of complete betrayal.

Bottom line, Diane Chamberlain is skilled at creating stories that just captivate her readers.  She seamlessly weaves in and out of the past and present, slowly uncovering the whole story for her readers and then allowing them to decide for themselves if what happens is justified or not.  The Silent Sister is definitely one of those books that will generate some conversation, so add it to the list for your next book club!

The Details:

(87)The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

Happy Tuesday

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Georgian Flu has swept North America and the world as we know it is gone.  Station Eleven starts with the great American actor Arthur Leander collapsing on a Toronto stage during a production of King Lear.  Two people there that night are forever bound by his death, his young co-star, Kirsten and the man from the audience, Jeevan, who tried to save him.  Within a matter of days the world starts slowly shutting down.  People are dying by the thousands and those not dying are busy trying to flee the city for places deemed safer in their minds.  All over the country people who aren't dying are trying to find ways to survive. All over the country small communities are popping up in the strangest places.  They hole up in airports, hotels, anyplace they can sustain life and keep the pandemic out.  Over the next twenty years Kirsten, Jeevan, and thousands of other survivors create new a new world where flights are a thing of the past and young children only hear stories of electricity.  With things like traveling symphonies, printed newspapers, and makeshift schools, some of the survivors try to recreate the society they lost because of the pandemic.  With every known society comes a criminal element.  Will the good triumph over evil or will society be brought to it's knees once again?

I love a good post-apocalyptic novel and Emily St. John Mandel has done great things with Station Eleven. The novel moves around to different people, places and time in the aftermath of the pandemic.  The one thing all of the characters have in common is Arthur Leander.  Kirsten was  his young co-star and she treasure the comic books he gave her before he died, Station Eleven.  Jeevan first connected with Arthur as a member of the paparazzi and was the nameless man from the audience who tried to save his life that night. Clark was Arthur's best friend and was stranded in the airport on his way to Arthur's funeral.  All of their different stories would have been interesting on their own, but knowing that they were all connected because of Arthur just reinforced the belief that even at the end of the world, it is a small world. Station Eleven is so well written that I found myself taking my time to prolong the story.  I haven't done that in a very long time. I think that with Ebola being a recent headline added to the intensity of Station Eleven and that very real fear of "what if."

Bottom line, Emily St. John Mandel weaves a masterful tale of a world nearly destroyed by disease.  Station Eleven is a tale that will sweep you away into a world that has been gutted and is slowly being put back together again. Such a good read, I would love to hear what you think!

The Details

(86)Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ray Kilbride has never really had the patience to deal with his quirky brother, Thomas.  Their father has just passed away in a freak lawn mowing accident and Ray is forced to return home to deal with his brother and their father's estate.  Thomas is so consumed with Whirl360, the online map, that he doesn't even go to their father's funeral.  You see, Thomas believes that he is working for the CIA and must memorize the maps for all the cities and towns in the world.  So that when "it" happens and technology fails, he will be able to help CIA agents all across the world with his knowledge of the maps.  Seems harmless enough, right?  It is until during his online travels, Thomas sees something in a window in New York City.  It looks as if someone is being smothered with a plastic bag.  To appease his increasingly agitated brother, Ray agrees to go to New York City to see if he can find the third floor apartment and prove to Thomas that nobody was murdered in that apartment.  What Ray doesn't realize is that his inquiry sets forth a series of events that will leave several people dead and put his and Thomas's lives in grave danger.

Linwood Barclay is a true master at creating a suspenseful story.  Trust Your Eyes is the story of two brothers and their rocky relationship.  Ray is torn between his sense of responsibility for Thomas and the intense desire to shake him silly. It is an internal battle you see him wage several times throughout the book and frankly I can understand why. That trip to NYC starts off is when things start getting good and with the help of an old reporter friend, Ray starts putting the pieces of the puzzle together.  And it isn't pretty.  Also, as the story goes on, there is a subplot involving  Thomas and an event in his childhood. That subplot eventually brings out the protective brother in Ray and that is when I like him best.  Trust Your Eyes is a fast moving book and is full of action and suspense.

Bottom line, Linwood Barclay is one of those "no-risk" authors.  You know you are going to get your money's worth with every word he writes and  Trust Your Eyes is no different.  Definitely worth the read if you are looking for a page turner that keeps you on the edge of your seat!

(85)Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Estranged sisters Rose and Emily are called back to their small Vermont hometown of Mill River for their Mother's wake.  They first moved to Mill River in 1983 when their father was tragically killed in a house fire.   For Rose, growing up in Mill River was nearly torture and she felt suffocated by the small town atmosphere.  Their mother was always working so she was given freedom to sneak around and be a little hellion.  Emily didn't hate Mill River as much as Rose, but she hated always covering for her older sister and never seeing their mother.  The older they got the more they drifted apart and it was a tragedy of epic proportions that drove a permanent wedge between the sisters.   Now the terms of their mother's will state that the sister's must live in Mill River for two months and complete a bit of a treasure hunt in order to collect their inheritance.  Emily is willing to comply because it was her mother's wishes.  Rose must comply because her husband lost his job and they desperately need the inheritance to maintain their lavish lifestyle.  As the two sisters settle back in to Mill River it is clear that the rift between them is deep, but will they be able to put the pain behind them to honor their mother's final wish?

While The Mill River Redemption was a really engrossing read, I am still not sure I really liked  it.  From the very beginning it was clear that Rose was, frankly, a bitch. She almost seemed like a caricature of a bad soap opera character.  As much as I disliked her, I liked Emily.  Much more even keeled and likable.  Then there is little Alex, Rose's young son.  He is the complete opposite of his mother and I was thrilled to see the relationship building between him and his Aunt Emily.  I also loved their Aunt Ivy and the little bookshop across the street, really, the whole setting of Mill River is quaint and charming and really my favorite thing about the book.   The story is told in both the past and present, so you can see the personalities of the sisters developing into who they are today, all leading up to the tragic event that changed them both forever.  After the "tragic event" is revealed another terrifying event happens that kind of forces everything to wrap up nicely and I think that is where my biggest issue lies. It was just so bizarre the way things wrapped up.  Among other reveals,  Rose seems to receive a personality transplant and it just didn't seem to sit right with me.  

Bottom line, my favorite thing about The Mill River Redemption was Mill River.  The story itself left me with mixed emotions. If you have read this book I would love to hear your thoughts.
The Details:

(84)The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weight loss is tough. It kind of makes me sad that I still need to be reading books like Lose Your Inches Without Losing Your Mind after two years of effort.  But here I am - looking for some sort of motivation to kick me into gear.  Most of the advice the author gives is not anything new.  She hasn't found the miracle cure, but she did present it in a ten week plan that focuses more on inches than weight.  Her thought is that you lose weight without losing inches you are smaller, but you don't really change your shape.  Which kind of makes sense.  In all of my weight loss efforts I haven't really measured inches only weight and I can see where I have been doing myself a disservice by not measuring.

Another important thing I took away from this book was the importance of eating every three hours.  The author tells the story of a nurse in her 50's that lost over 40 pounds in two months and the only thing she did different was eat something every three hours.  Obviously she isn't eating heavy meals every three hours, but the author points out that by skipping breakfast, having a light lunch and an even lighter supper you are likely preventing your body from getting the nourishment it needs to burn fat.  Should be common sense, right?  But I am definitely guilty of being a breakfast-skipper. Now I know I am not moving as much as a busy nurse, but I can certainly adjust my  diet enough to eat every three hours.  And to help me do that I set an alarm on my phone to alert me when it is time to eat.

Bottom line, Lose Your Inches Without Losing Your Mind is a ten week guide to help kick-start your weight loss journey. Written in an easy to read, easy to understand format Justine SanFilippo provides some helpful insights to help you change your life.

The Details:

(83)Lose Your Inches Without Losing Your Mind! by Justine SanFilippo

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Danny Crider has done the unthinkable.  The teenager took a gun to an event and shot the most popular Governor the state of California has ever had.   Defense Attorney Sophie Giraudo made a name for herself in her hometown of San Sebastian by defending three brothers who were known for their poor behavior and now she has been retained to defend Danny Crider.  A decision that is not popular with Sophie's ex-husband, the prosecuting attorney, her family and the people of San Sebastian.  At every turn she is defending her choice to represent the troubled young man.   With the help of her PI friend, Ham, they dig into Danny's background to try to find out why he did what he did and in the process Sophie reveals some things in her past that have made her who she is today.  But  Danny's controlling mother, an absentee father, and an icky boys group director all contribute to his decision to shoot the Governor.   Is it enough to get Danny off or will he lose his life for his crime?

In Doubt is one of those books that could have been "ripped from the headlines" or even a Law & Order episode.  The story even moves as quickly as an episode of Law & Order.  Sophie is a great main character and as the story goes on you can even see the similarities between Sophie and Danny.  Specifically they each have a rocky relationship with a controlling, demanding mother.  They both made some sketchy decisions that led to dire consequences.  It was easy to understand why Sophie was so desperate to help Danny. I understand being from a big family, like Sophie, but it irritated me the way her family treated her.  And her ex-husband was an arrogant ass.    You can't really call In Doubt a mystery because the reader knows Danny shot the Governor, but you don't know why and that is somewhat of a mystery.   As Sophie & Ham are digging for the truth, I will warn you, that they reveal some very uncomfortable and graphic situations regarding pedophilia and rape.  It isn't gratuitous, but it could be tough for some of you to read.

Bottom line, Drusilla Campbell weaves a dark and disturbing tale about the secrets families and small towns are willing to keep in order to protect their good name.  In Doubt is a gripping novel that will both disturb you and captivate you at the same time, making it difficult to stop reading until you reach the very end.

The Details: 

(82)In Doubt by Drusilla Campbell

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lucy and Owen come from two different worlds.  Lucy comes from a wealthy family and live on the 24th floor of this upscale Manhattan apartment building.   Owen's world shattered when his mom was killed in a car accident and forced his dad to take a job as the apartment building manager.   Owen and Lucy meet in the elevator during a blackout.  They spend the evening chatting the night away on the rooftop, but the electricity comes back on and the real world interrupts their fairy tale.   Lucy moves with her family to Europe and Owen and his dad take off across the country in search of work,  The only way they keep in touch is through postcards.  From Edinburgh to Lake Tahoe to San Francisco and Paris.  Lucy and Owen may meet other people, they may see other places, but in the end, there is only each other.  Can their budding relationship survive the miles and geography that separates them?

The Geography of You and Me is a sweet and tender novel about the obstacles one young couple must overcome to keep their relationship going. I truly enjoyed the sweetness of Lucy and Owen.  Their relationship was tentative, but pure.  It was a quick read, just a couple of hours, but I really enjoyed the way the author laid out the story of Owen and Lucy.  They were from two completely different backgrounds, but they didn't let it have any impact in their relationship. Well other than the distance thing.  I was pleased with the way the story ended, not too gooey or unrealistic, but just enough to give you hope for the future.

Botton line, The Geography of You and Me is a sweet teen romance novel.  Lucy and Owen are great characters and perfect for each other.  It is a sweet and quick read and most definitely you can trust with your teen daughter.

The Details:

(81)The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Colleen Bradley is excited for her upcoming road-trip. She desperately needs a break from her teenage son and work-a-holic husband. So while they are off bonding on a trip to the baseball hall of fame, she loads up her little car, hitches up the trailer and is ready to set off on a trip down the coast to find new merchandise for her antique store Junk and Disorderly.  Colleen is less than thrilled when she finds out her grumpy niece, Tamara, will have to join her.  Tamara is a sullen teenager who has repeatedly gotten into trouble ever since her mother died and she was forced to live with her father, Colleen's brother-in-law. The two are just hours into their road-trip wh:en the stumble across Colleen's best friend from college, Bitty.  It is obvious that Bitty is down on her luck and joins the road-trippers on their journey.  Across the miles the three women learn things about each other and themselves, but will their renewed relationships survive when they return home and back in the real world?

Driving with the Top Down is a fun and quick read about three women of varying ages fundamentally dissatisfied with the life they are leading.  The book is told from the viewpoint of all three characters, so you get inside their head to see what is not being said and frankly it is just downright sad.  Bitty is completely lost ever since her separation from her husband. Tamara is a teenager completely lost ever since her mother passed away and she has made some incredibly poor choices. And Colleen has spent her entire marriage believing that she was second choice and the years have taken their toll.  I enjoyed this book when the women were opening up with each other, especially when they were playing the "Never have I ever" game. It was then that they seemed to be most "real" and at ease with each other.  I love the way things were wrapped up, especially with Tam.  She needed Colleen in her life most and I really enjoyed reading the Epilogue. 

Bottom line, Driving with the Top Down was a feel good novel that I could see becoming a feel good Lifetime movie.  The characters all have unique perspectives, but at the end of the day they all want the same thing. To be loved, wanted, and appreciated.   A quick and fun read. 

The Details:

(80) Driving with the Top Down by Beth Harbison

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Almost a year has passed since a teenage boy has been murdered on the grounds of a Dublin boarding school.  The trail had pretty much gone cold when one of the students of St. Kilda's walked into The Murder Squad with a picture of the victim and on the picture was the message "I know who killed him.".  Holly Mackay pulled the card off of a bulletin board at the school called "The Secret Place", a safe place where students can post anonymous secrets.Holly has dealt with Detective Stephen Moran before and she knows she can trust him to be fair, yet judicious.  Moran doesn't know what to expect when he and his partner, Conway, walks into the all girls school, but he does not expect that finding the killer will be easy.   The young women at St. Kilda's are crafty, sneaky,cliquey,  secretive, and have something to hide.  Will Moran and Conway be able to wade through the stories and get to the truth?

The Secret Place is an exceptionally well written murder mystery set among a backdrop of St. Kilda's all girls boarding school,  a scene that screams exclusive and secretive.  The nuns, the hallways, the classrooms all  added to the Gothic feel of the place. There are two groups of a girls at the heart of this book.  Joanne and her crew are the "popular" girls. They present the air of snobbery that you come to expect from boarding school students.  They have all the cool clothes and all the hot guys from the neighboring boys school, the school where the deceased Chris Harper was a student.   Holly Mackay and her friends are the second group at the center of this story, they are a group of misfits and are thought to be "weird" by other girls in the school.  Moran tries to wade through the lies and gossip to get to the truth and if you know teen girls, you know just how difficult that can be.  Watching how some of the young women tried to manipulate Moran was almost frightening, but watching how he handled them was almost a work of beauty.   The more he talks to the girls the more it is clear that Chris Harper was a master at manipulation and it is that behavior that got him killed.

Bottom line, The Secret Place is one of those books that sucks you in with it's scenery, it's twists and turns and dark secrets.  The author weaves a tale that will have you guessing and second guessing. A perfect tale to get you in the mood for Halloween!

(79)The Secret Place by Tana French

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

To someone not in the know, Maddy and Ben's marriage looks picture perfect.  They both have high-pressured, successful careers.  Maddy is a social worker and Ben is a public defender.  They have three wonderful children, Emma is a teenager and sometimes a handful but  Gracie and Caleb, the babies, are at that fun age where they are exploring the world and discovering their personalities.  Only Ben and Maddy know that their marriage has hit a rocky patch where there is a lot of yelling and eye-rolling going on.  The pressures of their careers leave them both drained when they get home, but there is still dinner to cook, homework to get done and other household chores that millions of people all across the country do.   Maddy wishes that Ben would help out more and be more "present" in their lives, not to mention that he loses his temper far too often.  Ben wishes that Maddy would stop nagging and just do it herself.  The turmoil in their marriages comes to a boiling point when a accident lands Maddy in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury.  The weeks long coma and subsequent rehab leaves Ben in charge of their little family in a way that he has never had to be before.  Will he be able to rise to the challenge and hold everything together or will the guilt of the accident destroy everything?

In Accidents if Marriage author Randy Susan Meyers reveals something that only married people seem to know, marriage is hard.  We see the struggles of their marriage from both Ben and Maddy's viewpoints.  And then after the accident, we also get to hear Emma's voice as she also becomes a casualty when a lot of responsibilities are thrust upon her.  Because we get to see all perspectives it is hard to take side prior to the accident, neither Ben nor Maddy behave their best and frankly been behave like an ass more than once.  The author did such a great job taking us inside of Maddy's brain after the surgery. The confusion, the frustrations, the myriad of emotions that plague Maddy as she tries to navigate her new reality.   I felt for Maddy, but I felt more for Emma because she was struggling and nobody noticed.  Not her father, not her aunts, and not her grandparents.  My heart ached for her as she struggled to hold everything together and still get to be a teenager.   It even made me a bit angry that nobody noticed that she was drowning!   In the end, they all survived, but their world was very, very different from where it was at the beginning of the book and it needed to be.

Bottom line, Accidents of  Marriage was a powerful novel about the intricacies of marriage.  It is hard, it can be brutal, it can hurt, but if you just hold on it can be the greatest thing ever. Such a good story with so many different points that cause you to reflect on your own situation.   Definitely worth the read.

The Details:

(78)Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lauren Clay has always been the one to do whatever needs to be done.  When her parent's marriage disintegrated and their father retreated into his own world it was Lauren who stepped up to the plate to care for her younger brother, Danny.  It was she who made sure he got fed and clothed and off to school.  And it was Lauren who found a way to get the bills paid when her father couldn't even get out of bed.  Rather than go to the prestigious  music school to study opera, she enlisted and was sent off to battle.  Her combat pay and steady paychecks went a long way to helping Danny and giving him a more normal life.

Time has passed and it is now Christmas and Lauren is coming home from her tour of duty.  Her time in the desert has changed her in ways that are still revealing themselves and her homecoming is not made easier when she realizes just how much things have changed at home.   She struggles to find her place in a world that is mostly ignorant to what really happens in war.  Will she ever be able to fit back into that world, but more importantly, does she really want to?

It is ingrained in our collective brains to imagine a war veteran being a man, but in Cara Hoffman's novel, Be Save, I Love You she introduces us to a vet by the name of Lauren Clay. Lauren is a young woman who was forced to grow up rather quickly.  Her devotion to her younger brother comes from a pure place in her heart and her devotion is my favorite thing about her.  Even when her intentions start to get a little murky you know that she believes she is acting with pure intentions. Through her memories and I guess you could say flashbacks, the reader starts to piece together what happened and it is no wonder the nightmares haunt her. Is it PTSD?  I don't know, the author doesn't go so far as to diagnosis, but it is obvious to the reader that Lauren's time in the war had a profound impact on her and how she interacts with other people.   PTSD is very scary and very real and I think the author did a remarkable job at addressing it with Lauren.  Even when the book was at it's darkest and I feared for both Lauren and Danny, but I just knew that Lauren would not bring harm to Danny.  Some might thing that the end was a bit too "happy", given the nature of the story, but I thought it was "real" and appropriate.

Bottom line, Be Safe, I Love You is one of those hauntingly beautiful novels where the beauty could easily get lost in the darkness of the subject matter. There are thousands and thousands of service men and women who have returned home from war over the last decade and Be Safe, I Love You gives you just a glimpse of what life is like for those heroes.  Definitely a must read.

(77)Be Safe, I Love You by Cara Hoffman

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The last place in the world  Ventriloquist Annie Hewitt wants to be is Peregrine Island in the middle of a blizzard, yet here she is stuck in her little Kia. Annie has less than fond memories of the island, but she is broke, unemployed, and out of options.  According to the terms of an agreement her recently deceased mother made long ago, Annie must spend sixty days on the island with never leaving. Leaving means they forfeit and the cottage reverts back to the Harp estate and that bully, Theo Harp. As much as Annie despises the island, she thinks it will take the full sixty days to find the thing her dying  mother said would bring her great riches.  Even though that insufferable Theo Harp won't leave her alone and someone keeps breaking into the cottage,  Annie desperately needs the money and isn't going anywhere until she finds it.  

Heroes Are My Weakness was a fun read.  Take an isolated island off the coast of Maine, mix in a feisty heroine, and add one handsome, brooding hero and you have a recipe for a steamy romance!  I loved the setting of Peregrine Island for this book, especially since it is set in the Winter.  Most "island" books are set in the Summer, so this was a definite change.   Annie is definitely a feisty character.  The one summer she spent on the island as a teen she was basically ruthlessly tortured by Theo, so it is no wonder that she is dreading the thought of being on the island again with him so close by.  Even though the puppets are of her own creation and their words are her own, they really seem to be the parts of herself that Annie is afraid to let be heard. I loved their different personality traits and I loved how Scamp was an integral part in dealing with her friend's daughter, Livie.  Theo was such an interesting character, too.  Dark and brooding, yet with a softer side, too.  Who would have thought the horror novelist would enjoy making fairy castles?   He was a good match for Annie and even though I understand it was a defense mechanism, I found myself annoyed at the way Annie talked to Theo early on in the book.    Romance novels, by pure definition, tend to be a bit predictable and Heroes Are My Weakness is no different, but the path to the end was fun and romantic.  

Bottom line, I have been reading Susan Elisabeth Phillips novels for nearly three decades now.  Her characters are always fun, feisty, entertaining, and always find themselves in an interesting pickle.  Heroes Are My Weakness is a fun read in an interesting setting and has love story that will make your heart melt.  If you are looking for a pleasurable way to spend an afternoon,  add Heroes Are My Weakness to your list!

The Details: 

(76)Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cadence Sinclair Eastman has grown up privileged.  For generations the Sinclair family has been spending their summers at the family's private island off of Cape Cod.   Cady has grown up spending her summers with her cousins and and aunts on the island and it was about idyllic as a childhood could be.  One summer her aunt brings her boyfriend's nephew to spend the summer with them and everything changed.    She was drawn to Gat like no other human being and they both looked forward to their summers.  The summer of their fifteenth year was the year that everything changed.  Most of that summer is gone from Cady's memory due to a traumatic brain injury.  She doesn't remember what happened to her and she knows that her family is keeping something from her about that summer, but what?

Now it is two years later and Cady is back on the island. So much has changed in two years and Cady is not sure why.   The rustic house of her childhood has been replaced with something sleek and modern. The "Liars" are also acting funny and refuse to tell Cady what happened that summer.   Cady is slowly starting to remember the events of that summer and she knows the she is on the verge of the truth.  But what will she do when she pieces everything together?  They say the truth will set you free, but what if it only destroys you?

Oh my gosh. I have been seeing We Were Liars at the top of a lot of "Must Read" lists this summer and now I know why.  Despite their wealthy background, Cady and her cousins are your typical teenagers.  Magazines, books, and iPods entertain them throughout the summer.  And they have a growing disdain for their parents.  Listening to their mothers bicker over their late mother's estate is completely ruining their summer and they all want to do something about it.  There were a few times when I found myself annoyed by Cady and her spoiled cousins, but it was more like an annoying fly.   Her summer romance with Gat was sweet and tender and almost like a fairy tale.  As the book went on, the pain that Cady experiences is so profound that I can almost feel the headaches myself.  And that ending, oh boy.  When Cady finally remembers everything from their 15th summer it will leave you stunned. I don't remember an ending leaving me so shocked.    You would think that having the truth will help Cady start to heal, but I really wonder if Cady will ever be healed again.

Bottom line, We Were Liars is one of those books that as I was reading I was imaging it on the big screen. It starts out as your run of the mill Young Adult novel, but by the end it left me breathless. If you are looking for a wonderful read, you must add We Were Liars to your "TBR" list.

The Details: 

(75)We Were Liars by E. Lockhart