Saturday, January 31, 2015

(7)Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

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!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

(6)First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

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.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

(5) Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom

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!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

(4)Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

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.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sunday, January 11, 2015

(3)The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

(2)Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

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!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

(1)The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

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!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

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.

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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