Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers

 I will probably get a lot of heat for this (lol). I did not like this book. Maybe I really should stop listening to audio books. I can't seem to find a narrator that doesn't sound extremely dramatic. However, that being said, I also can't seem to find a book where I like any characters anymore. So, here is where the heat comes in, I am sure. So, the story revolved around a family, Maddy, (the mother/wife) Ben (the husband/father) and their three kids, Gracie, Caleb and Emma. The reader learns almost immediately that Ben has an anger issue...no physical abuse, just yelling and impatience. However, I thought the author portrayed Maddy as irresponsible and the kids as spoiled. I thought during certain incidents in the book, (not ALL), "No wonder he's mad." Then, in a nutshell, there is a horrible automobile accident, where Ben was driving and Maddy is severely injured to include a traumatic brain injury. I felt that the older daughter, Emma was spoiled and became even more disrespectful after her mother was injured and I know that's to be expected, but it was allowed to go on and on. The younger children, Gracie and Emma were, for a lack of better word, "fake" even before this tragedy. Maybe the author was being accurate at making this young generation where the parents are friends, not parents and the kids are allowed to run amok. There is something else that Ben does in the book (which I won't spoil here) which is really inexcusable, but that and the accident turn Maddy into the martyr of the year, and that is something I cannot stand in any character. Once again, a book with characters I don't like and characters who don't speak the way real people would in real life. I am being harsh I know and as I sit here thinking back on this book, I really wonder if I would have liked it better had I not listened to the audio book. Maybe the way the reader performed was my problem. Thoughts? I would love to know, especially if you listened to it as well.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Photograph by Beverly Lewis

First and foremost, thank you to Bethany House for the opportunity for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I think I am the worst person to review Beverly Lewis' books because I just think, as one of my automatically to-read authors, she just gets better and better. In my opinion, she can do no wrong. Before my two cents, a quick synopsis:

Jed is traveling on a train from Ohio to Lancaster County in Pennsylvania when he finds a book that a passenger left behind. In it, he finds a photograph of an Amish girl which is odd, since usually Old Order Amish frown upon photos being taken. 

Jed is taken with the girl in the photograph, but more so with the notes that are written inside the margins of the book. He feels a connection to the writer of the notes and, after dealing with a tragedy himself, finds comfort in the words written.

The flip side of the story revolves around Eva Esch, who lives in Lancaster County. Eva's younger sister, Lilly has left their homestead for parts unknown. Eva and her other siblings worry that Lilly may forego her Amish roots to become more "worldly." The Esch family has dealt with their own tragedy as well, leaving the reader to wonder what will become of Jed and the Esch family and also how these stories are going to come together.Once again Ms. Lewis does not disappoint. 

I loved this book. Like I said, Ms. Lewis is one of my automatically read authors, and as I said in another post, her book, The Shunning was the first Amish fiction book that I read, setting me off on a whole different path of books that I now read. 

I find comfort in Ms. Lewis' books. In a day and age of modern technology and news filled with fear, hate and other things, it is so refreshing to be able to read an innocent, feel good story. It's good for the soul. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

This is my first novel by Marian Keyes that I have read. Before I go on, thank you to Netgalley and to the publisher for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review. 

The story is about Stella, a wife and mother of two living in Ireland. She is doing the best she can when the unthinkable happens regarding a health issue. The health issue, and what follows after turns Stella's world into a version that is totally unrecognizable from her previous life. 

There was a reviewer on GoodReads who said that she enjoyed the first part of the book much better and I tend to agree. I felt that I was reading two different stories at some places. The other thing was, and this is nobody's fault, at several times in the downloaded Kindle version, the pages messed up in sequence and I had to try and piece together where it picked up or start flipping pages back. 

I enjoyed the book enough to care what was going to happen, but it seemed to be hop around, and tried to cram in multiple plots: an illness, a breakup, a love story, a possible affair, another illness, a success, a failure, one good kid, one bratty kid...the list goes on.  

However, I did enjoy this book enough though to look into reading another Marian Keyes novel so I added another novel called Watermelon by her to my to read list. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

First and foremost, thank you to the publisher and thank you to NetGalley. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Whew! Where do I start with this? I have mixed feelings about it. First a quick synopsis: When Tessa was a teenager, she was abducted and left for dead in a grave near black eyed susan flowers, along with a few other victims. The sole survivor, she endures a trial and sends her would be killer to jail. 

However, in Tessa's adult life, someone is planting black eyed susan flowers in locations where Tessa will find them. Why? Is the real killer out there still? 

So, that's it in a nutshell. The book flips back and forth between teenage Tessa, then called Tessie, and present day Tessa along with her daughter Charlie. The mystery needs to be solved because the man who went to jail for allegedly committing the horrific crimes is set to be executed. 

My two cents: I felt like I was thrown into the middle of a book where I was supposed to know the characters already. I felt like I was supposed to have invested in these people when I didn't know them yet. 

Then, nothing worse than the main character irking you....Things start coming out where Tessa might not be totally forthcoming. I can't give too much away without spoiling it, but that got on my nerves. And, to be totally honest, Tessa's best friend back when she was young, was also annoying. 

And as far as the ending, YES, I was surprised and there's nothing more I like than a good twist, so that part was good. 

Some people complain that they don't like the way books, such as this one, flip back and forth between two time frames. That does NOT bother me, but to each his/her own. 

I think this book will do very well, but for me, it was just okay. Let me know what YOU think!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Place We Knew Well by Susan McCarthy

First and foremost, thank you to NetGalley for an Advance Reader Copy of this book. 

This book centers around the Avery family, who lives in Florida: patriarch Wes, wife and mother, Sarah and daughter Charlotte. However, this isn't your usual family story. It takes place during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

Being so close to Cuba, you can understand and feel the terror the Avery family and their friends are going through. 

Wes runs the local Texaco station and has prior military experience, namely in Hiroshima. He is particularly concerned with the situation and tries to maintain his usual positive demeanor both for his family and his customers. 

However, also in the story, (without giving a whole lot away) there are two personal problems that the Averys are experiencing as well. One involves a family member's health and the other involves a long buried family secret. 

Between the two issues in the family and the unknown future of the world, Wes feels his world spiraling out of control. He can't seem to get a grip on his family's problems and he feels extremely on edge as he thinks back on his time in the war he served in. 

So, now time for my two cents, I only thought this story was "okay." I found myself wondering, "Did the author want to write a book about the missile crisis, or the other issues in the book?" It seemed to jump too much between the two topics, like it couldn't be decided on. Maybe she wanted to write about both things, but it didn't seem to flow for me. It seemed like a lot of drama stirred up for drama's sake. 

I bet I am going to be the odd opinion out for this book. It wasn't a bad book, by any means. It kept my attention and I liked it enough to finish, and even though I know what the outcome of the missile crisis was, I wanted to see what happened to the Avery family. 

Don't let my opinion sway you by any means. I think a lot of people will like it. This book will be released in September 2015. Thanks again to NetGalley. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand

Time for summer fun and the best part? Summer reading!!! I just got finished reading The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand. She's known as the Queen of the Beach Read, and she does not disappoint! I was fortunate enough to be in Rehoboth Beach at the great bookstore, Browseabout Books when Ms. Hilderband was signing her newest book. If you are in Rehoboth Beach, or close by, make sure you stop by and visit this bookstore. You will be so glad you did! Here I am with Ms. Hilderbrand!

This book was everything a good beach read should be! It is about two best friends, Madeline and Grace who are both going through troubling times. Madeline is struggling to come up with an idea for her new novel, and Grace is having more feelings that she should for her gardener, Benton. Grace, of course, confides in her best friend and all of a sudden, Madeline has an idea for her new book. But, can she, in good conscience, write the book, with the risk of hurting her best friend? 

The story is so much more than that and there are some twists in it that I was not expecting. The book also tells the stories of Grace's husband, Eddie, who runs into troubles of his own, notwithstanding, Grace's attraction to Benton. Also in the story are Grace's twins, Allegra and Hope and Madeline's husband Trevor and their son, Brick, who is dating Allegra. 

This book went so quickly. It was one of those books that I kept putting down TRYING to make it last. I didn't have much luck, because I wanted to see what happened. Mixed with drama and bits of humor, you will enjoy The Rumor. I sure did! Thank you to Ms. Hilderbrand for sharing her stories! And, if you are interested, look for her interviews on You Tube. She is very candid about being a breast cancer survivor, and her story is so inspiring! Visit her website at www.elinhilderbrand.net. 

So, here's a funny little story. About two years ago, I met Ms. Hilderbrand at the same bookstore. However, at the time, I STILL had a flip phone. When the clerk at the store, took my picture with her, Ms. Hilderbrand got the biggest kick that I still had a flip phone. Since then, I did get a smart phone. Well, this time, I reminded her of this story and so, here's how she signed my book (lol): 

As always, I don't review every book I read, but I do list everything I read and assign it a star rating on Good Reads, so follow me there by clicking here: My Good Reads Page

Thanks for reading! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer! What are YOU reading? 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Making Your Mind Up by Jill Mansell

I want to first thank NetGalley and to SourceBooks for the opportunity to read the advance copy.

Here is a synopsis provided by SourceBooks: 

Love is a complicated thing…
Lottie Carlyle is happy enough. Living in a beautiful cottage with her two adorable—sometimes—kids in an idyllic village, on good terms with her ex-husband, and with friends all around, everything is going just fine. But when she meets her new boss, her peaceful world is thrown into delightful, exciting, and frustrating chaos. Tyler is perfect for Lottie, but her kids do not agree. To make matters worse, the handsome and mysterious Seb appears on the scene, intriguing—and distracting—Lottie and charming her children, making it more and more difficult for her to make up her mind…

And now for my two cents: 

This was my second Jill Mansell book and I really enjoyed it. I found that as the book went on, I got more involved in what was going to happen with the characters. The characters were very well thought out and were described just right for my liking: not too much, not too little description. However (!) I thought Lottie's children were horrible and if you read the book, I would love your opinion on this. 

Otherwise, I thought all the story lines within the book were interesting. It's not just what the synopsis reveals, for sure. It also revolves around Lottie's friends, Freddie and Cressida, Creissida's ex-husband and his new family and other in depth characters that are a part of Freddie's life. 

 This is definitely not going to be my last Jill Mansell book! It was fun and a good read.

Here is other praise for the book: 

“Very nicely done… Jill Mansell’s chorus of sharp-witted youth, shaking sticks at the foibles of their elders, is delightful.” —Daily Express
“A smashing read that both delights and surprises the reader.” —The Sun

Praise for Thinking of You:
“Mansell is like a Michelin-rated chef: She may use common ingredients, but under her sure hand the results are deliciously superior.” —Kirkus
“Humorous, sometimes poignant... Her breezy style resembles that of Sophie Kinsella or Helen Fielding… readers will be delighted.” —Booklist
“Jill Mansell combines, humor, friendship, romance and betrayal... keeps you wanting more.” —Fresh Fiction
“Beyond the fun, faulted characters, Mansell has a gift for humorous and witty dialogue that will leave readers in stitches... Mansell excels at creating relationships that are dynamic and complicated.” —Savvy Verse and Wit

And here is more info about the author, provided by SourceBooks: 

About Jill Mansell
With over 9 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. She worked for many years at the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol, and now writes full time. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.

Twitter – @JillMansell https://twitter.com/jillmansell

And finally here is an excerpt for you to read, provided by SourceBooks:

An Excerpt from MAKING YOUR MIND UP by Jill Mansell

The lane that ran alongside the garden of Hestacombe House was narrow and banked high on both sides with poppies, cow parsley, and blackberry bushes. Turning left, Tyler Klein worked out, would lead you back up to the village of Hestacombe. Turning right took you down to the lake. As he took the right turn, Tyler heard the sound of running feet and giggling.
Rounding the first bend in the lane, he saw two small children twenty or thirty yards away, clambering over a stile. Dressed in shorts, T--shirts, and baseball caps, the one in front was carrying a rolled--up yellow-and-white-striped striped towel, while his companion clutched a haphazard bundle of clothes. Glancing up the lane and spotting Tyler, they giggled again and leaped down from the stile into the cornfield beyond. By the time he reached the stile they’d scurried out of sight, no doubt having taken some shortcut back to the village following their dip in the lake.
The lane opened out into a sandy clearing that sloped down to meet a small artificial beach. Freddie Masterson had had this constructed several years ago, chiefly for the benefit of visitors to his lakeside vacation cottages, but also—-as Tyler had just witnessed—-to be enjoyed by the inhabitants of Hestacombe. Shielding his eyes from the glare of the afternoon sun as it bounced off the lake, Tyler saw a girl in a bright turquoise bikini floating lazily on her back in the water. There was a faint unearthly wailing sound coming from somewhere he couldn’t quite place. Then the noise—-was it singing?—-stopped. Moments later, as Tyler watched, the girl turned onto her front and began to swim slowly back to shore.
It could almost be that scene from Dr. No, where Sean Connery observes Ursula Andress emerging goddess--like from a tropical sea. Except he wasn’t hiding in the bushes and he had all his own hair. And this girl didn’t have a large knife strapped to her thigh.
She wasn’t blond either. Her long dark hair was a riot of snaky curls plastered to her shoulders, her body curvy and deeply tanned. Impressed—-because an encounter like this was the last thing he’d been expecting—-Tyler nodded in a friendly fashion as she paused to wring water from her dripping hair and said, “Good swim?”
The girl surveyed him steadily, then looked around the tiny beach. Finally she said, “Where’s my stuff?”
Stuff. Taken aback, Tyler gazed around too, even though he had no idea what he was meant to be looking for. For one bizarre moment he wondered if she had arranged to meet a drug dealer here. That was what people said, wasn’t it, when they met up with their dealer?
“What stuff?”
“The usual stuff you leave out of the water when you go for a swim. Clothes. Towel. Diamond earrings.”
Tyler said, “Where did you put them?”
“Right there where you’re standing. Right there,” the girl repeated, pointing at his polished black shoes. She narrowed her eyes at him.
“Is this a joke?”
“I guess it is. But I’m not the one playing it.” Half turning, Tyler indicated the narrow lane behind him. “I passed a couple kids back there, carrying off stuff.”
She had her hands on her hips now, and was surveying him with growing disbelief. “And it didn’t occur to you to stop them?”
“I thought it was their stuff.” This was ridiculous, he’d never said the word stuff so many times before in his life. “I guess I just thought they’d been swimming down here in this lake.”
“You thought the size ten pink halter--necked dress and size seven silver sandals belonged to them.” The sarcasm—-that particularly British form of sarcasm—-was evident in her voice.
“The sandals were wrapped up in something pink. I didn’t actually get a close look at the labels. I was thirty yards away.”
“But you thought they’d been swimming.” Gazing at him intently, the girl said, “Tell me something. Were they…wet?”
Shit. The kids hadn’t been wet. He’d make a lousy private eye. Unwilling to concede defeat, Tyler said, “They could have come down for a paddle. Look, did you really leave diamond earrings with your clothes?”
“Do I look completely stupid? No, of course I didn’t. Diamonds don’t dissolve in water.” Impatiently she shook back her hair to show him the studs glittering in her earlobes. “Right, what did these kids look like?”
“Like kids. I don’t know.” Tyler shrugged. “They were wearing T--shirts, I guess. And, um, shorts…”
The girl raised her eyebrows. “That’s incredible. Your powers of observation are dazzling. OK, was it a boy and a girl?”
“Maybe.” He’d assumed they were boys, but one had had longer hair than the other. “Like I said, I only saw them from a distance. They were climbing over a stile.”
“Dark hair? Thin and wiry?” the girl persisted. “Did they look like a couple of gypsies?”
“Yes.” Tyler was instantly on the alert; when Freddie Masterson had been singing the praises of Hestacombe he hadn’t mentioned any gypsies. “Are they a problem around here?”
“Damn right they’re a problem around here. They’re my children.” Intercepting the look of horror on his face, the girl broke into a mischievous smile. “Relax, they’re not really gypsies. You haven’t just mortally offended me.”
“Well,” said Tyler, “I’m glad about that.”
“I didn’t see a thing, little sods. They must have crawled through the bushes and sneaked off with my stuff when I wasn’t looking. That’s what happens when you have kids who are hell--bent on joining the SAS. But this isn’t funny.” No longer amused, the girl said impatiently, “I can’t believe they’d do something so stupid. They don’t think, do they? Because now I’m stuck here with no clothes—-”
“You’re welcome to borrow my jacket.”
“And no shoes.”
“I’m not lending you my shoes,” Tyler drawled. “You’d look ridiculous. Plus, that’d leave me with nothing to put on my feet.”
“Wuss.” Thinking hard, the girl said, “OK, look, can you do me a favor? Go back up to the village, past the pub, and my house is three doors down on the right. Piper’s Cottage. The doorbell’s broken so you’ll have to bang on the door. Tell Ruby and Nat to give you my clothes. Then you can bring them back down to me. How does that sound?”
Water from her hair was dripping into her clear hazel eyes, glistening on her tanned skin. She had excellent white teeth and a persuasive manner. Tyler frowned.
“What if the kids aren’t there?”
“Right, now I know this isn’t ideal, but you have an honest face so I’m going to have to trust you. If they aren’t there, you’ll just have to take the front door key out from under the tub of geraniums by the porch and let yourself into the house. My bedroom’s on the left at the top of the stairs. Just grab something from the wardrobe.” Her mouth twitching, the girl said, “And no snooping in my panty drawer while you’re there. Just pick out a dress and some shoes then let yourself out of the house. You can be back here in ten minutes.”
“I can’t do this.” Tyler shook his head. “You don’t even know me. I’m not going to let myself into a strange house. And if your kids are there…well, that’s even worse.”
“Hi.” Seizing his hand, she enthusiastically shook it. “I’m Lottie Carlyle. There, now I’ve introduced myself. And my house really isn’t that strange. A bit untidy perhaps, but that’s allowed. And you are?”
“Tyler. Tyler Klein. Still not doing it.”
“Well, you’re a big help. I’m going to look like an idiot walking through the village like this.”
“I told you, you can borrow my jacket.” Seeing as she was dripping wet and his suit jacket was silk--lined and seriously expensive, he felt this was a pretty generous offer. Lottie Carlyle, however, seemed unimpressed.
“I’d still look stupid. You could lend me your shirt,” she wheedled. “That’d be better.”
Tyler was here on business. He had no intention of removing his shirt. Firmly he said, “I don’t think so. It’s the jacket or nothing.”
Realizing when she was beaten, Lottie Carlyle took the jacket from him and put it on. “You drive a hard bargain. There, do I look completely ridiculous?”
“You’re too kind.” She looked sadly down at her bare feet. “Any chance of a piggy back?”
Tyler looked amused. “Don’t push your luck.”
“Are you saying I’m fat?”
“I’m thinking of my street cred.”
Interested, Lottie said, “What are you doing here, anyway? In your smart city suit and shiny shoes?”
There clearly wasn’t much call for city suits here in Hestacombe. As they turned to leave, Tyler glanced back at the lake, where iridescent dragonflies were darting over the surface of the water and a family of ducks had just swum into view. Casually he said,
“Just visiting.”
Gingerly picking her way along the stony, uneven lane, Lottie winced and said meaningfully, “Ouch, my feet.

Thank you so much again to NetGalley and SourceBooks for the opportunity! I definitely recommend this book! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

First, I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Be careful what you wish for. In this case, be careful what you "click" for. Kate has everything going for her, a great job, loyal friends and is getting ready to marry the man of her dreams. 

But, something unfortunate happens and Kate is left at a crossroads. However, Kate learns she can suddenly change circumstances simply by changing her status on Facebook. Sounds ideal, right? Maybe not. 

I read this book so quickly.  At first, I thought it was going to be just a fun light read, but it ended up being so much more. It was poignant, touching and actually very eye opening. 

Also, what a good lesson to learn about to maybe take a closer look at who and what is actually right in front of your face and to live the moment instead of trying to make everything so picture perfect for everyone else. I am guilty of that and I bet some of you who are reading this are too. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it in a matter of just a few days, because I felt vested in these characters and wanted to see what would happen. I really recommend this book, especially if you love a fun, humorous, but with a point read. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Sound of Glass by Karen White

I was lucky to receive an advance copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This was the first book by Karen White that I have ever read. I'm glad I did! This book had an interesting premise from the start. It started with a horrific plane crash back in the early 1950's with a witness and a secret. 

Flash forward to present day and we meet Merritt Heyward who is moving to the Low Country from Maine after she inherits her late husband's grandmother's home. Merritt wants to be left alone to grieve her husband's death. But, that is not to be.

All of a sudden, enter Loralee, Merritt's young stepmother and her son (Merritt's half brother Owen). They show up unannounced on Merritt's new doorstep, and Merritt hasn't even met them yet, being estranged from her father who has since passed away. 

To say that Loralee and Owen's presence is unwelcome is an understatement. But, Loralee is also harboring a secret, one that she's not willing to reveal at first. 

These characters seemed very authentic to me. I couldn't wait to find out what the connection was between the plane crash back in the 50's and the "present day" characters. I also couldn't wait to find out what Loralee's story was. I couldn't wait to see Merritt and Loralee work out their issues. And, finally, I also wanted to see what was going to happen between Merritt and her deceased husband's brother in law (although that part was probably more obvious than the rest of the story). 

I thought the author did a wonderful job of spreading the story out just enough to keep me interested in the characters and story line. This may be my first Karen White book, but it won't be my last. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Love Letters by Beverly Lewis

Hello! In this post, I will be reviewing The Love Letters by Beverly Lewis. I received a free copy through the Bethany House blogger program in exchange for an honest review. 

Beverly Lewis is one of my automatic read authors. She writes it, I read it! That being said, I REALLY enjoyed this one. I thought it had a very unique story line to it. 

Without giving anything away, Marlena is staying at her grandmother's house for the summer to help with the chores since Marlena's grandfather passed away. Then, for reasons I won't expose, Marlena is tasked with taking care of her sister's baby, Angela Rose. 

Also on Marlena's plate is a crisis of faith that she must see through. 

The other side of the story involves Marlena's grandmother's neighbor, Jake Bitner, who is 14 years old. Jake was born with a few problems and due to his stature he is nicknamed, "Small Jay". What a heart this character has! He befriends a what is thought to be a homeless man, Boston Calvert and the lessons learned on both sides are more than heartwarming. 

I felt that I was reading two wonderful stories. I was really involved in what was going to happen to all the characters. That is one of my favorite things about a book-getting to know the characters and honestly caring about what happens to them. Some of these felt so real and I am thankful that Mrs. Lewis shares them with us. This was actually one where, while everything was really wrapped up in the end of the book, I wouldn't mind seeing more of these characters. 

Thank you to Bethany House for the copy of the book! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Missing You by Louise Douglas

First, let me say I received a copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. 

I read Louise Douglas' other book, The Love of My Life and I have to say I enjoyed that much better. I hate to be rude about any book, and I try to keep it professional, but I rolled my eyes so hard during so much of this book, I gave myself a headache. 

This book was way too predictable for my liking. I can sum it up in a few seconds. Fen (!) has a secret involving her brother many moons ago. She also has a son with cerebral palsy named Connor. They live alone, because Connor is the result of a one night stand and Fen has trouble making ends meet. She takes on a house mate for rent...enter Sean. Sean is reeling from a breakup from his wife, Belle, who left him for another man. Sean leaves the family home and rents a room in Fen's house, bringing his daughter Amy over for visits. I am sure you can gather what happens. 

I was reading this book on a Kindle and I kept looking down to see how much of a the book I was finished. I was stunned when I saw I had 60 percent of the book left when, to me, the whole thing was already explained and on an obvious path. 

Anyway, NONE of these characters were likable, EXCEPT little Connor. Fen got on my nerves the worst...such a martyr. In her opinion, she didn't "deserve" Sean  and she "bit her lip" so often in her overwhelming insecurity, I thought she was going to need stitches. 

However, worst of all, at some points I thought I was reading some kind of Fifty Shades of Grey novel (which I haven't read, but know what it is about, thanks to all my friends). I was wondering why the author felt the need to be so explicit. 

Finally, I don't know who is designing Louise Douglas' covers, but in my opinion they don't fit the couples I am imagining in my head. 

That being said, I am sorry if I sound harsh, but I am glad this one is over. I am grateful to Net Galley for the opportunity, though! 

Incidentally, I don't review every book I read. I do keep track of everything I read and assign it a star value on my Good Reads page. If you want to see what I have read lately, visit my Good Reads page 

I just finished Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult and I found that riveting! But, to each his own. On to the next book! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Idea of Love

I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher! 

This book is about Ella Flynn and Blake Hunter. Both have secrets they want to hide from each other. Blake is a movie screenplay writer who is posing as a travel book author. He is pretending to write a book about the Low Country when in reality he is looking for an over the top love story to use as a movie idea. He is desperate because his last two movies were failures at the box office. 

Enter Ella Flynn. Blake sees Ella and is immediately drawn to her. She begins to tell him about her sleepy, southern town of Watersend and also tells him about the love of her life, Sims. Ella tells Blake a tale of how Sims tragically died in a boating accident, but it's not true. Blake sees an opportunity for a story and jumps.

I am not giving any spoilers here, but I bet you can see where this is going. I saw it from a mile away. 

First let it be known that I am a Patti Callahan Henry fan. I loved Driftwood Summer and several others. 

While I give any book credit strictly on the basis of holding my attention to the end, that is as much as I will give this one. I was disappointed. Not only could I see the entire plot line of the story in the first two chapters, I felt the entire book was SO rushed. 

For example, I am sure I am not giving anything away by saying Blake and Ella are attracted to each other eventually. However, in the beginning, Ella is so devastated by the loss of her marriage that I found it totally head scratching at the total turn around she does so quickly. The way she was practically crippled with grief one second and madly in love with someone else in just a few weeks seemed really far fetched. 

The other thing I found irritating was some of the descriptions the author used. One was during a kiss when right in the middle, Ella "thought of the word cashmere." Really? Two was how when describing the way Blake was looking at his daughter and it was described that her cheeks were like two plums. Finally, a couple times throughout the book, Ella was described in Blake's thoughts as "adorable." I don't like to think of a grown man thinking of a grown woman as "adorable." Sounds very sophomoric. Maybe it's just me. 

Again, while it kept my interest enough to finish it, it felt very forced, hurried, and just kind of unbelievable as a whole. However, again, I am very grateful for the opportunity that NetGalley provided me in giving the advance copy. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Love of My Life by Louise Douglas

This book gave me mixed emotions. But, I really did enjoy it. Thanks to NetGalley who graciously gave me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

Olivia recently lost her husband, Luca, in a tragic car accident. Olivia is not exactly comforted by Luca's family due to his and Olivia's history. I don't want to give away the whole story here, but suffice to say, Olivia is not exactly the model daughter in law. 

However, I don't think that gives Luca's family the right to treat her the way they do. 

Olivia also had a hard time in her past with an overbearing, uncaring mother. In this respect I felt bad for her, but I can't say I drummed up a lot of sympathy for her except for the loss of her husband. Some of her choices left me scratching my head. But, now, as I write this blog, I guess we have all made choices that weren't the best, especially in times of grief.

 This story bounced back and forth between Olivia's past and present but in a good way! I know a lot of people don't like "flashbacks" but this author did a great job of describing Olivia's past and merging the present together. 

The best part for me, was when Olivia finally takes charge and stands up to Luca's family. I won't tell you why or how, but suffice to say, it was nice to see Olivia come into her own and defend herself. 

Well, on to the next book. I enjoyed this enough to look for another book by this author. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

If We Lived Here by Lindsey Palmer

I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher!

This book is about Nick and Emma, in a relationship now for several years. They are young, working in Manhattan and feel that it is time to give up their respective homes to search for an apartment where they can live together.

The story follows Nick and Emma in not only their search for an apartment, but also through their jobs, friendships, milestones and also through Emma's relationships with her parents, her brother Max and his family. 

There is a lot of struggle regarding the move and Nick and Emma not only have mixed feelings with giving up certain freedoms, but they also have problems finding a location and also deal with two potential landlords: one who is discriminatory and judgmental that Emma and Nick aren't married and the other that you just won't believe!

Emma is also about to be the maid of honor in her best friend's lavish wedding, making Emma rethink where her relationship with Nick is going and her own position in life. Not helping Emma's esteem is her well established brother and his overbearing wife, along with what I describe as their two rambunctious children. 

Don't get me wrong, Nick and Emma have a good life but they are facing several challenges at one time, regarding their own relationship, where they are in their careers, and in life in general, causing both to be overwhelmed at times. 

There are two other major things that occur. One in their relationship and one in general towards the end of the story, but I won't spoil it here. 

I really enjoyed this story. I feel that there aren't enough stories out there  where you can really care about the characters. I was intrigued to see where they were going, and what was going to happen to them. And, the other characters just seemed so real!  I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was so much more than just a story about a couple. Plus, it takes place in New York, my favorite city. 

The author did a fabulous job describing how in life, we all have to take a step back, reassess certain situations and just maybe, hopefully, see things in a different light, take that wisdom and move on in our lives in a positive direction. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Day We Met

Wow. Just wow. I haven't been this riveted to a book in a long time.  This book is so captivating but heartbreaking, too. Claire Armstrong is in her early forties but has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease, something her own father suffered from. She has two daughters, Caitlin, from a previous relationship and Esther, with her husband, Greg. 

Right away, I felt devastated for Claire. I love books where I actually care for the characters. Not only does she have this horrible disease, but because it is early onset, there are times where Claire is aware of what's happening to her. I can't imagine anything more frightening. 

The book is told in alternating points of view: Claire, Greg, Caitlin and Claire's mother, Ruth. There are a lot of things to work through for this family, not only Claire's disease but issues with her daughter Caitlin as well. 

SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD: Just like Claire, Caitlin finds herself young and pregnant by a guy who is in no way committed to her. In fact, he is under the impression that Caitlin has terminated the pregnancy when in fact, she has not. Caitlin has dropped out of university and on top of everything else, such as dealing with her mother's illness, Caitlin learns that Claire has kept a secret from her. All her life, Caitlin has believed that her father has wanted nothing to with her, when it has been Claire who had never told Caitlin's father that she even existed. 

Claire feels that with her illness rapidly taking away her identity, that Caitlin should find her father and start a relationship with him, since she won't be with them mentally much longer. Claire has enough lucid moments to help Caitlin arrange a meeting with her father and we are left to believe that she will start a relationship with him and his current family. 

There are other parts to Caitlin's story, such as meeting a boy who falls in love with her, but to be totally honest, the only reason I sympathized with Caitlin was because she was losing her mother even as she was still with her. I had a hard time drumming up compassion for her when she lamented about being a pregnant dropout because that was all her doing. However, you can't help feeling bad for her knowing that she's well aware of what's happening to her mother. 

The other person you feel for is Claire's husband  Greg and their three year old daughter, Esther. Greg misses Claire so badly and to make matters worse, they have not been married very long. Also, you know that Esther is getting a raw deal because she will never really know her mother. 

You also feel the struggle that Ruth, Claire's mother, is also dealing with. She has already buried her husband (Claire's father) due to the same disease, so having to see her daughter taken by the same thing is incomprehensible. 

Fortunately, due to a suggested exercise from a counselor, Claire starts a memory book which everyone contributes to. They all write memories and paste mementos in the book. The reader gets to see what is added to the book and why and reading some of the stories behind the items can be downright heart-wrenching. 

For me, the person I felt worst for is Claire. I read this book on my Kindle and I have never highlighted so many things in a book before. One of the things that Claire notices that during her struggle with knowing she is rapidly losing a grip on reality is the fact that at times, she's fully aware of what's going on. While she is grateful that she still knows certain things, it terrifies her that she knows what's happening. She says, "This part is the worst part. The part when I know what I am losing. This is the part I never want to end and the part I want over now." 

The other part that really stuck out for me is when she observes that when trying to come up with a witty retort to someone, "I am not a pitiable person, and not just a disease. But nothing comes to mind, which reminds me, only too clearly, that I am both."

Even though the book is filled with sadness, there are happy moments, too. And the main message of this book is love. Claire's husband loves her so much that he finds a way to break through his wife's disease and finds the love they used to share. I won't go into that here, but if you read this book, I guarantee that you will find what Greg does unforgettable. 

This book was so wonderful for several reasons. One, I really cared about these characters and that says to me that the author possesses real talent to make me have compassion for people who aren't even real. Two, it is a book that I know will stick with me. Three, it brings awareness to a horrible disease that I can only pray we will see a cure for someday soon. Alzheimer's robs people of their most cherished family members. I lost my grandmother to this monster and think of  how hard it was to actually grieve for her while she was physically still here. For more information visit www.alz.org. 

*Book provided by publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* Thank you for the opportunity to read this novel.