Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

(53)The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke


Jacqueline "Jacks" Morales was FaceTiming her sister when a knock at the door changed her life forever.  Her husband, James, was killed in a car accident in  Hawaii.  Jacks is confused because James told her he was going to Kansas for work.  And she is devastated because James was not alone in the car, his girlfriend was with him.   Jacks is dealing with her new normal when there was another knock at the door.  This time it is Nick, the fiance of the young woman with James.  He is just as devastated as Jacks and is really the only person who can fully understand what she is going through.   They start up a friendship and soon find their way to Hawaii to retrace the final steps of their loved ones hoping to gain some understanding of what happened.   And in the process, they start to have feelings for each other. The closer they get, though, Jacks starts to get a feeling that she is missing something important about what happened to James, will she be able to figure it out before it is too late?

I have been following Liz and Lisa since their early Chick Lit is Not Dead (now just a blog on their website) days.  I was thrilled when they wrote their first novel and have followed their career with interest and excitement.  You could say that I have been in inspired by their career.  Having said all of that - The Good Widow was not their best effort.  It started out strong, their first chapter had me intrigued, but almost immediately I had it figured out.  I stuck it out and finished the book hoping that there would be some kind of twist at the end to prove me wrong, but no, I was right.  The book starts out strong with Jacks finding out about the accident but from there it becomes very predictable.   The book is told in alternating voices - Jacks "after" the accident and Dylan (the other woman) "before" the accident.  You get to see both sides of the story and frankly, neither woman was perfect and James was a sleaze.  I wish that we could have seen things from Beth's viewpoint.  Beth is Jack's sister, but most often she was Jack's tether to reality.   I did not find the book all that suspenseful, nor was I all that shocked by the ending.  Overall, I was disappointed.  - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom line - I have always been a fan of Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, but this year I think I would encourage you to read their previous works rather than their new release.  I wanted it to be so much better, I wanted it to have me on the edge of my seat, but sadly The Good Widow was predictable in every way.   Have you read The Good Widow?  What did you think?

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

(52)The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand


Tabitha and Harper Frost may look alike, but that is where their similarities end.   Tabitha is chic and stylish - helping their famous designer mother run her empire. When they were teenagers their parents divorced and a game of rock, paper, scissors determined which girl was going to go with their father, Billy.  Harper "won" and left Nantucket for Martha's Vineyard with their father.  The girls remained close until fourteen years ago when a tragedy permanently destroyed their relationship.

Fast forward to present day - the Twins are closing in on forty, their dad just died,  and their lives are a mess.  Harper is working a dead-end job and having an affair with her father's married doctor. Tabitha recently broke up with her boyfriend of four years, her mother's store is hemorrhaging money, and her sixteen daughter is a pot-smoking delinquent.   In an interesting twist to The Parent Trap, the sister's switch lives.  Harper goes to Nantucket to run the store and look out for Ainsley while Tabitha goes to the Vineyard to get Billy's house ready to sell.  Will this life-swap be what it takes to repair the sister's damaged relationship?

It took me a minute to get into The Identicals because at first both Tabitha and Harper were pretty dreadful characters.  Tabitha was a horrible parent and Harper was sleeping with a married man.  They did the "life-swap" and it took that change for me to start to see some redeeming qualities.  More so in Harper than in Tabitha  - Tabitha was still hard for me to like. There wasn't ever one moment where Tabitha owned up to her mistakes, it was like she just decided to let it all go.  Ainsley, Tabitha's teen daughter, also went through some redemption with the help of her Aunt Harper.  She was also pretty dreadful at first.  Once the redemption started I could barely put the book down.  Things wrapped up pretty tidily and I loved how the final words were spoken from the viewpoint of Harper's dog, Fish. It added a degree of charm that wasn't there before.

Bottom line - Nantucket is a favorite summer location for not only tourists but authors, as well. Every author brings their own flavor of Nantucket.  Elin Hilderbrand definitely brings more "meat" to her stories than other authors, but that is one of the reasons why I love her books.  Life is dirty and messy - even on Nantucket.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

(51)The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder


Alice and Paul 's mother, Donna, was married to a wealthy Frenchman before she met their father.  Alice and Paul grew up with their middle-class mother speaking French, fixing strange French cuisine, and driving a used Ford station wagon. Their older half-sister, Eloise, grew up going to elite boarding schools and had chefs to fix her authentic French cuisine. Eloise tried to fit in when she was with her American family, but Paul and Alice could not help but resent her and her luxurious lifestyle.  Now Eloise is getting married in London and wants her siblings and mother there for the festivities.  Paul and Alice have to both face the harsh reality that their lives are a mess compared to their older sister.  Alice is having an affair with her married colleague and is still mourning her miscarriage years ago.  Paul just lost his job and his boyfriend is making comments that lead him to believe their relationship is in jeopardy.  Not to mention that his relationship with his mother has been non-existent since his father died.  Neither Paul nor Alice are looking forward to this wedding.  Will the wedding be the opportunity they need to heal their family or will it be the event that tears them apart for good?

The People We Hate at the Wedding puts the fun back in dysfunctional.  Of the three siblings, Paul seems to be the most dysfunctional, but Alice and Eloise and not that far behind. There were times that the dysfunction seemed extreme and was grating on my nerves.  I mean - pull it together people.    Paul was seriously a hot mess and I thought his boyfriend was a giant douche.  He redeemed himself just a little at the very end.  Alice didn't really have a good boyfriend picker either, as hers was married. It really made it hard to like her - given her homewrecker status.  Eloise was the only one who seemed to be trying to have a relationship with her siblings, but the disparity in the way that they grew up made it tough.  The book is told from the alternate viewpoints of the siblings and Donna, their mother.  I think Donna was my favorite character of the book - the way that she stood up for Paul was admirable.  I was very satisfied with the end of the book - it was realistic and reassuring that the author didn't feel the need to be fake in order to give the reader warm fuzzies.

Bottom line - The People We Hate at the Wedding is a book about a less than perfect family just trying to figure out a way to love each other.  It is a good read if you don't let all of the dysfunction get to you.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

(50)An Abundance of Katherines by John Green


Best friends Colin and Hassan are on a road trip trying to figure out where their lives are going.  Hassan is trying to figure out of college is the place for him and Colin is recovering from breaking up with his 19th girlfriend named Katherine. They find their way to Gutshot, Tennessee, where they stopped to see the grave of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  Instead they meet Lindsey Lee Wells and her mother, Hollis.  The boys have stumbled their way into a job interviewing the residents of Gutshot and learning about the history of the little town. Gutshot is a good way for the friends to pass the summer and reflect on their own history.  Especially Colin's history with the Katherines.  As a way to pass the time - and prevent future heartache - Colin devises an algorithim that will determine how long a relationship will last.  Will Colin be able to get past his broken heart to see that he has options that don't include a Katherine? And will Hassan ever decide if college is in his future?

We just took a major roadtrip and a John Green novel makes for a perfect companion.   An Abundance of Katherines is about two best friends on their own roadtrip.  We never encountered a place like Gutshot, but we sure did have fun.   I absolutely loved the narrator and the way he did the voices for the book.  Especially the elderly people the boys were interviewing - it seriously cracked me up.  Colin was a former child prodigy and ful of completely useless facts that kept popping up throughout the story.  Even though the book was written ten years ago, Hassan is the kind of character needed in today's volatile political climate.  Hassan was a completely normal teenage boy, who happened to be Muslim.  The author did an excellent job at highlighting his normalcy, even normalizing his prayer routine.  The story was a fun look at what friendship and love means - with a backdrop of rural Tennessee.


Bottom line - An Abundance of Katherines was a fugging funny book.  A lighthearted book about love and friendship.  And of course it is by John Green, which automatically makes it a must-read novel.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

(49)The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green


Meredith, Nell. and Lizzy Sunshine grew up in the shadow of their mother, Ronni, a glamorous star of the silver screen.   Ronni was always a narcissistic and critical type of mother which did not exactly foster a close relationship with her daughters.  The sisters have scattered all over the world and rarely interact with each other. Meredith is living in London and engaged to a man who is really not well suited for her.  Lizzy is a successful celebrity chef, but she is still chasing happiness in unhealthy ways.  Nell runs a successful farm and cafe in the Connecticut countryside, not too far from where they grew up.  Ronni calls the sisters home and the sisters oblige, not sure if the demand was another one of her narcissistic tendencies or if something is really wrong.  When their mother announces that she has a terminal illness the three sisters are forced to face the cracks in their relationships.  Their relationships with their mother, others in their lives, and each other.  Will their mother finally be able to heal old wounds before it is too late?

The Sunshine Sisters is another summertime masterpiece by Jane Green.  Meredith, Nell, and Lizzy and three unique sisters that really only have one thing in common - they survived childhood with an aging actress.  It took me a few chapters to get all of the sisters straight but eventually got it.  Lizzy is the bratty one, Meredith is the meek one, and Nell is the one who isolated herself.   I struggled to like Lizzy - her selfishness was tough to swallow, but by the end of the book, I found her much more likable.  Meredith was tough to like, too.  Her meekness was overwhelming and from the very first time her fiance was introduced I wanted her to stand up and kick him in the shins.  Each of the sisters and their mother had their moment of redemption. There was a moment of shock towards the end of the book, but ultimately I was very satisfied with the way things ended.  I would even be interested in seeing a follow-up book someday.

Bottom-line - Jane Green is one of my favorite authors and just about every pen she touches spins literary gold, as far as I am concerned.  I enjoyed everything about  The Sunshine Sisters, but I particularly loved the character development.  A great story and now I have to wait another year for Jane Green's next work of art.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

(48)Come Sundown by Nora Roberts


The Bodine Ranch and Resort in western Montana has been a family endeavor for many over the years and business has been booming ever since Bodine Longbow has taken the helm.  Bodine commands the respect of her employees, but she works hard and they take their cues from her. Their quiet peace is shattered when one of their bartenders is found dead in the snow.  Even though one of the cops have zeroed in on the newly returned Callen Skinner, Bodine knows that he is innocent.   Tensions in the area heat up with Bodine's long lost aunt is found wandering along a dark road.   Alice Bodine was gone for decades and many thought that she had just abandoned the family and the ranch. When in reality she was on her way home more than twenty years ago when a man kidnapped her and has kept her hostage all of these years.  The one quiet and idyllic ranch is now on edge as they try to figure out who took Alice and who is targeting the women of the ranch.  Will they be able to catch the madman before he takes what he wants again?

Come Sundown was not my favorite read of the year, but it was okay.  I thought that certain aspects of the story were fairly predictable, even for Nora Roberts.  I  thought the most engrossing part of the story was Alice - her capture, her life with Sir, and her escape.  Her reintegration into the Bodine family was handled well from a few different angles, and it was what kept me reading.  As you would expect, Bodine and Callen ended up in a steamy relationship.  Totally predictable, but that was okay.  In the end, they got the bad guy, but not before an attempt on yet another Bodine woman.   All the loose ends were tied up neatly and I appreciated it.

Bottom line - Even though I did not enjoy Come Sundown as much as I have her other recent novels, I did stick it out and read the whole book. There was mystery, intrigue, and of course those steamy scenes that have made Nora Roberts a bestselling author.  

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

(47)Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf



It has been two years since RN Amelia Winn lost her hearing in a tragic accident that killed one of her patients.  She went on a destructive downward spiral after the accident causing her to lose her family and her job. With the help of an old family friend, she is now sober, has learned sign language, has a service dog and is ready to rejoin the workforce.  And get her husband, David, back.  David did help her get a job interview in an office of an oncologist and Amelia takes it as a good sign for their relationship.  The morning of her interview Amelia is out on her paddleboard when she finds the body of an old friend - they used to work together.  Amelia is shaken to her core and misses her interview.  The murder of her friend sends Amelia down a path that could jeopardize her newfound stability, if not her life.   What will happen to Amelia when she won't stop asking questions?

Not A Sound was a fast and engaging read. Amelia is the kind of character that a reader can get behind. Obviously, she is flawed, but she is on the road to recovery and is doing everything in her power to make "it"  right.  Logically, I understand why David didn't want a drunk Amelia around his daughter, but I just got the
"this guy is a dick" vibe from him. It was obvious that Amelia loved the little girl that she had raised, but I was a little angry with her for putting that relationship in jeopardy with her alcoholism.   I really liked her relationship with Jake, the old family friend.  He stepped up to help Amelia when she needed him the most.  I did think that Amelia was a bit intrusive in her desires to find out who killed her friend.  In the end, things wrapped up quite nicely.  I was surprised by the culprit.  - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS


Bottom line - A good mystery is always a necessity when it comes to summer reading.  Heather Gudenkauf is still fairly new on the scene, but her books are always well written and full of intrigue.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

(46)Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey


Ansley has lived in Peachtree Bluff ever since her husband was killed on 9/11.  When she realized that her husband  had borrowed against the life insurance policy,  she knew that she had no choice. Of her three daughters it was her oldest daughter,  Caroline was furious with her for moving her in the middle of her senior year. And as soon as she could she moved back to the city, leaving her mother and two younger sister.  Fast forward to today...Caroline  is pregnant  with her second child when she finds out that her husband has been having snickerdoodles affair with a reality television  star. What does she do? She goes home to Peachtree Bluff.  Caroline is cautiously excited when she hearsenal that her sisters are going to be spending the summer at their mother's,  too.  Emerson is filming a movie nearby and Sloane is restless while her husband is deployed, so why not?  Three sisters back under the same roof, what could go wrong?

Slightly South of Simple was unique because it was told from the alternate views of Caroline and her mother, Ansley.  The author did a great job of really laying the foundation for a trilogy, starting with Ansley and her history with the girl's father and her handsome client, Jack. It is a bit of an unconventional history, but it is important  to the story. Caroline seemed a bit high maintenance, but when push comes to shove she steps up.  The author set it up so I really want to know more about Sloane and Emerson and their stories.   It is the first in a trilogy , so the author does leave you hanging on an important matter.

Bottom line - Slightly  South of Simple is a great way to start off a trilogy.  Interesting  characters with interesting stories and set in a cute little beach town.  A great book to throw in your beach bag.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

(45)How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz


It has been twenty years since Anna and Kate found Georgianna passed out on the lawn of their Southern California college.  They became lifelong friends that night, for better or worse.  Anna is the strong personality of the group, some would say that she is the leader of their group, others would say that she is just bossy.  Anna comes from an upper-class Bostonian family and finds California a refreshing change from the East-coast.  Kate is the quirky one, she was raised by her grandfather after her parents were killed in a car accident.  Some would say that she is a free-spirit, but others might say that she is flighty.  George is the tomboy of the group, she is most comfortable in the wilderness camping or hiking. She is most likely to shed her likes and interests for that of the man most interested in her.  Some would say that she is a maneater, but others might say that she is just seeking true love.  A lot can happen to friendships over twenty years, but the three of them are connected by one incident that defined them and set each of them on a life trajectory that may not be healthy.   Through addictions, multiple marriages, countless jobs, and one dead man, the friendship is put to the test.  Will their friendship stand up to the test?

You know what - I really enjoyed How to Start A Fire.  It was one of those books that have a timeline that jumps around, so you need to be paying attention.  Especially if you are listening to an audiobook.  We start out that night twenty years ago in college and jump all over in time.  I think of all the characters, Kate was my favorite.  She was quirky but utterly devoted to her friends. And I loooved who she ended up married to in the end.  I also loved that she was a total bookworm.  Anna was the most difficult to like.  Her addictions caused her to do things that would have destroyed any normal friendship, yet Anna and George stuck by her.  George was really the only one that didn't get any resolution in my opinion.  Her "man-picker" was perpetually broken and I don't think it was resolved in the end.  Things concluded in an interesting way, but it certainly worked.

Bottom line - How to Start a Fire was a nice departure from the mysteries that Lisa Lutz is known for, but the whip-smart, witty dialogue is very much present in this story of three friends.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

(44)The Heirs by Susan Rieger


Eleanor and Rupert had a long and happy marriage on New York City's upper east side before he passed away after battling cancer. They were married for decades and raised five happy and healthy sons   Rupert, being the Englishman he was, did not show much affection to his children, but was utterly devoted to his wife and family. Despite his proper behavior, the boys loved him and adored their mother.  Eleanor grieves for her husband like any woman would and six months after his death she is contacted by a woman claiming to have had two sons by Rupert. She is suing his estate for what she feels is fair for her children.   Eleanor takes the news a lot better than her sons as all of them deal with the news that the man they thought was full of honor and integrity had cheated on his wife and family.  Each of the five sons handles the news in different ways, but ultimately it is Eleanor's decision on how to handle this news.  What will the news of his philandering ways do to the legacy of Rupert Falkes?

The Heirs was an easy book in which to get lost. I know it doesn't really seem like a page-turner, but I really couldn't put it down.   In a matter-of-fact way, the author gives us the history of Eleanor and Rupert's marriage. Starting with Rupert's final days in the hospital and working backward,  but not sticking with any chronological timeline.  I very much loved Eleanor and her subtle wit that must have made raising five sons so much easier.  We learn that Eleanor was very much in love with another man, but her parents disapproved of him because he was Jewish.  She met Rupert while at school and even though he was an orphan, his English heritage made him much more acceptable to her family.   The further you get into the book you realize that Eleanor was not Rupert's first love either.   I liked all of the sons and the author seemed to really focus on two of them, Harry and Sam.  I would have liked to get to know the others as well as we got to know them.  But Sam was my favorite, for sure, and each of them let the news of their father's philandering impact them in different ways.  The end of the book kind of snuck up on me, but the conclusion was one that made sense.

Bottom line - Even though The Heirs is one of those books that has a flashy premise and some salacious details, I don't think it is going to be a book for all to enjoy.   The Heirs is a painstaking look at one family's history and what happens when they discover their father led a secret life. While I thoroughly got swept up in the story, I don't think everybody will enjoy it like I did.  Let me know what you think!

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

(43)It's Always the Husband by Michelle Campbell


Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny met their freshman year at Carlisle.  They are familiar characters - Kate is the spoiled rich girl whose family name is on many of the buildings at Carlisle.  Aubrey is the poor little-lost-girl. She grew up poor in Las Vegas and had to claw her way to college.  Jenny is the "townie"  who grew up knowing she was going to Carlisle.  The three young women are as different as different can be, but they quickly bonded as roommates. Their world is shattered one night when Kate's boyfriend jumped to his death from a local bridge.  Except Jenny and Aubrey aren't so sure he jumped.


Fast forward to present day. Jenny is the town's mayor, Aubrey is a yoga instructor, and Kate is the lost soul wandering aimlessly through life.  All three are married and Jenny and Aubrey both have children.  One morning Kate's body is found near the same bridge that changed their lives all those years ago.  Even though their relationship with Kate was tumultuous at best, Jenny and Aubrey were devastated to learn of their friend's death.  The police immediately zero in on Kate's husband, after all, It's Always the Husband, right?

It's Always the Husband is the book that is getting all of the buzz right now.  I thought it got a slow start and the characters were a bit tired from the very beginning.  The audiobook that I am currently listening to has three best friends who met in college and one of them is named Kate, so I kept getting confused.  But isn't that proof that this storyline has been played out all too often?  All three women were deeply flawed and I struggled to like any of them, but Jenny was the least distasteful to me.  She had a good head on her shoulders in college and as an adult, even if she did use people to get what she wanted.  Half of the story is told in the past and the second half is told in the present.  I didn't really find myself "hooked" until the second half.  And that was because it wasn't until "present" part of the story is being told that I really cared about what happened.  By then I was busy figuring out the "whodunit".  The author did a fantastic job of leading the reader down different paths while speculating who killed Kate only to keep the truth a secret until the very last page.  I am not going to lie - I was a little bit shocked by the simplicity of it.  -- CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom line - I cannot deny that It's Always the Husband is full of cliche characters because it is full of them.   But it also full of deception and intrigue and those are always two main ingredients for a good mystery.  If you can make it through the first half of the book you won't be disappointed by the big reveal.

Details:
  • It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell
  • On Facebook
  • Pages: 336
  • Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
  • Publication Date: 5/16/2017
  • Buy it Here!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

(42)Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer


Darcy Cotterill has been a year-round resident of Nantucket for three years - ever since she and her husband divorced and her grandmother passed away leaving her the Nantucket home. She loves her life on the island.  She loves her home, she loves her job as a children's librarian, she loves her group of friends and she is very happy dating a local carpenter, Nash.  It is still early in the summer season when Darcy is reading a book in her backyard when she hears a voice that takes her back in time.  Her ex-husband, his new wife, and their teenage daughter have rented the house behind hers for the summer.  While there are no lingering feelings for Boyz, Darcy is hoping to make it through this summer without running into him.   She has other neighbors that are staying for the summer that may keep things interesting -there is also the elderly lady and her divorced son who is writing a book, and the family full of rambunctious boys.  They all have their secrets and Darcy hears them all from the safety of her backyard.   Will Darcy be able to make it through the summer with her dignity and her heart intact?

Nancy Thayer books are like comfort food to me.  Her books are some of those books that just define summer for me.  Darcy Cotterill is not the perfect character, but to me, she lived the perfect life and had the perfect job.   I am not going to lie - I was a little envious of all of her outdoor time with her book and glass of wine.  That is how she got to hear all of the secrets - by eavesdropping on her neighbors.  I got a little annoyed with her intense desire to meddle after she eavesdropped.  Sometimes it was definitely warranted, but other times it was completely unwarranted.  Also, she seemed a little needy with her boyfriend, Nash, at times.  Thankfully, Darcy had some friends to reign her in when the crazy got out of control.   The summer and the book ended much too quickly but in very much a 'happy ever after" kind of way.

Bottom line - It is not likely that I will find myself at a beach this summer, but Secrets in Summer is the perfect summer read that will make you feel like you are on the beach even if you are in your own backyard.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

(41)Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan


It was the 1950's when Nora and Theresa Flynn left their small village in Ireland to sail to America where they are greeted by the man that Nora is meant to marry.  For Nora and Theresa adjusting to life in America isn't easy, the culture, the pace, the people are all different.  Theresa - unaccustomed to the more advanced lifestyle finds herself pregnant at eighteen. Even in the fast-pace American lifestyle, this is a major problem and mortal sin.  Theresa agrees to turn baby Patrick over to Nora and Charlie to raise as their own, but the arrangement proves to be far more difficult for both Theresa and Nora than they ever dreamed.  Their relationship is the biggest casualty of Theresa's pregnancy and it completely splinters when Theresa joins the convent.   Fifty years go by and Patrick is tragically killed in a car accident.  Will this tragedy be what it takes to bring Nora and Theresa back together?

Saints for All Occasions is such a good book that spans fifty years of strained family dynamics.   I come from a long line of Irish-Americans there was so much that I could relate to in this book.   Nora is a tough woman, not real affectionate to her children, but she does what she has to do - even if it is raising her sister's baby as her own.  Theresa is also a strong woman, being able to give up her son and then commit her life to living as a cloistered nun. I have a second cousin who recently joined the convent (see, told you I could relate) and it was interesting to me hearing about life in the convent.  I could see where that life and devotion could be appealing.   The author moves the book around from the past and the present (2009) and the grief that Nora and family feels at the loss of Patrick is palpable and heartbreaking.   I wasn't sure how the story was going to end, but I was very pleased with the way it ended.  It was satisfying and it felt right.

Bottom line - Saints for All Occasions was one of those books that people are going to be talking about all summer.  The characters are rich and the story is intricate - so good!

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Saturday, May 6, 2017

(40)The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines


My husband had to go out of town for work last week and I spent the time binge-watching HGTV.  As much as I missed my husband, I loved being able to watch my HGTV shows guilt-free. A huge chunk of my binge was spent watching Fixer Upper (also, I know what to move to a lake) with Chip and Joanna Gaines. They seem like genuinely good people so I was curious to know more about them.

 The Magnolia Story is primarily told from Joanna's perspective with some narration from Chip thrown in for good measure. We learn how Chip and Joanna met and all about their first date and their early days of dating.  It seems like even then Chip was fun-loving, even if a little bit scatter-brained.  Joanna was brave enough to share that not once, but twice Chip left their oldest alone in the house while she was out. He just didn't think about the baby when he needed/wanted to go do something. I am sure their critics jumped all over that nugget of truth.  Another interesting nugget - they don't even own a television.

Joanna and Chip go into detail of how they got started.  Their early house flips - the ones they lived in while flipping.  They also go into detail over some of Chips crazier ideas.  I am not sure I could handle having a husband who just buys a house (or a houseboat) on a whim because he had an idea that could make them money.   Both Chip and Joanna admitted that they had help along the way and that often times help came from unexpected places.  One thing cannot be denied, though.  Chip and Joanna have worked very hard to get where they are today.  And they work very hard to maintain their success.  It is admirable and inspiring.

Bottom line - Reality television stars tend to go down in a blaze of glory.  In fact, another HGTV couple just went through a divorce. Chip and Joanna Gaines appear to be more grounded and more secure in their marriage than the other couple. They seem like genuinely wonderful people and I wish them nothing but continued success and happiness.

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