Sunday, May 31, 2015

(43)Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

Greer Hennessy's job as Location Manager for a production company has brought her to the Florida swamps. She is on a mission to find the "perfect" beach town and save her career.  She stumbles into the sleepy town of  Cypress Key and discovers that it is exactly what her director is looking for in a set.  Most of the people are welcoming to Greer as she starts setting up for the production crew to come to town, except for the mayor.  Eb Thibadeaux is a busy guy who doesn't necessarily mind the circus coming to town.   Not only is he the town's mayor, but he co-owns the motel that Greer is staying at.  He owns the town's grocery store, he also serves as a real estate agent. and he is co-guardian of his teenage niece.  The sparks between Greer and Eb are undeniable, but he is causing her major problems at work because he won't let them blow up the town's abandoned casino. Throw in a thug of a star and a long lost father and it makes for a very stressful, yet interesting.  summer for Greer.  Will she be able to save her career and get the guy at the same time?

Mary Kay Andrews is one of those seasonal authors that I look forward to every summer. It as if the summer doesn't begin until I have read the latest Mary Kay Andrews.  And without fail she always delivers.   This year's book gave a "behind the scenes" look at movie making.  A "Location Manager" is not a position you ever think of when you watch a movie, but it makes sense that there would be one.  And frankly it sounds like it would be a fun, if not challenging, career.  The "scouting" aspect is what I find most appealing. I liked Greer as a character and I enjoyed the "give and take" between her and Eb.  He is an interesting guy with so many irons of the fire, yet he gives off that "laid-back" beach vibe.   The story came to a natural conclusion that left me happy and longing for next summer's book.

Bottom line- I am sure all of you have your favorite summertime authors and Mary Kay Andrews is definitely on my list.  Her books are like comfort food for the soul.  Beach Town was a fun, lazy read that made me long for the beach. Be sure to throw Beach Town in your beach bag and enjoy!


Saturday, May 30, 2015

(42)Close to Home by Lisa Jackson

Sarah McAdams is moving her two daughters to the home she fought for so long to get away from years ago.   She is recently divorced and there wasn't really anything left for her in Vancouver.  When her boss starts creepily making advances she knows it is time to go, but she isn't sure her family home on the shores of Oregon's Columbia river is much better.   The family home, Blue Peacock Manner, has a reputation of being creepy at best and haunted at worst. As  Sarah and her two daughters, Jade (17) and Gracie (12) try to settle into the dilapidated house news of a missing teen girl makes it way to the remote house.  Everybody at school is talking about it and then another teen girl goes missing. Sarah is concerned about the missing girls, but gets distracted with her own family drama.  Old secrets come to light and Sarah realizes that what she thought was the truth is not and does her family history have anything to do with the girls who have gone missing?
Close to Home was another treadmill book. It was a distracting way to pass the time, but I think I would have probably given up on it had not not been an audio book.  There were elements that I liked, the haunted house aspect of the story.  And I did like the way it ended.  But there were other parts of the story that were so cliche that I physically rolled my eyes.  The story-line of Jade's father for example.  As cliche as they come.  It was the architecture of Blue Peacock Manor that drew me to the story and I was not disappointed.  Gothic, majestic, and completely haunted.

Bottom line - While Close to Home was not may favorite book of the year, it was a satisfactory distraction for the treadmill.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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

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

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

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


Monday, May 25, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 24, 2015

(39)The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright

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

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

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


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

(38)Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 17, 2015

(37)The Sound of Glass by Karen White

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

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

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


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

(36)The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer

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

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

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


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

(35)I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster

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

I know with complete certainty that Jen Lancaster leads a much more interesting (and hysterical life) than me.  Anybody who can write lines like "Sometimes compromise tastes like caramel macchiato." and " French person actually wants to hear their gorgeous language come out of my cheeseburger hole..." is someone who has more talent in their pinkie finger than I have in my entire body.  As always I found myself laughing out loud -  my favorite part was when Fletch "Tom Sawyered" Jen into an entire wardrobe while in Italy.   After she warned him to not "pack like a jackass" he shows up in Italy with a Breaking Bad t-shirt and other inappropriate pieces of clothing.  I was laughing so hard I woke my husband up.

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


Saturday, May 2, 2015

(34)Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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

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

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


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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