Lauren Mahdian and her brother, Alex have grown up haunted by the murder of their mother. Their father was convicted of the crime and has spent over 2Lauren Mahdian and her brother, Alex have grown up haunted by the murder of their mother. Their father was convicted of the crime and has spent over 20 years in prison. Lauren is convinced of his guilt; Alex of his innocence. Lauren allows this truth to run her life, most significantly her relationship with her long-time boyfriend, Gerry. She's refused his numerous marriage proposals, seeing first-hand what "love" can do. When Alex surprises Lauren with the news that he is headed to Baghdad, Iraq with Doctors Without Borders, Lauren is crushed. Alex is her only family and her center. He tries to convince her of their father's innocence before he departs, but she wants none of it. She prefers to numb her pain with alcohol and Tylenol PM.
When Lauren receives devastating news, she subsequently uncovers some files regarding her mother's death. Ready to learn and truth once and for all, she embarks on a journey to uncover her family secrets, whatever they may be.
This is a multiple viewpoint novel. It is divided into separate "books" with Lauren, Sylvia, and Mae narrating. Who are Sylvia and Mae, you ask? They mysteriously appear in book two. I wasn't quite sure what was going on when Sylvia's narration started. Her story seemed entirely separate and disconnected from Lauren's. I was intrigued by her story, though, and I couldn't wait to see how it connected to Lauren's (because obviously it did in some way!). Sylvia tells us that she is pregnant and is secretly leaving her abusive boyfriend. She is heading to New York City in hopes of staying with an old friend, Victoria or Victoria's mother, Mae. Through flashbacks we glimpse the friendship between Sylvia and Victoria and how it has shaped the women they are in the present.
Ward has written a page-turner that will keep you glued to the text wondering what will happen next; how these two seemingly separate stories are connected. This is a mysterious story with lots of twists and turns and raw characters who leap off the page.
My only negative thought about this book is that I would have loved a bit more closure at the end of the novel. I kind of felt like Sylvia was left hanging and I wanted more of her story. I did think the last lines of the novel were beautiful and brought a tear to my eye.
Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood friends at a time when the racial classes were not friendly – Mississippi in the 1970s. BeingFrom my blog:
Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood friends at a time when the racial classes were not friendly – Mississippi in the 1970s. Being children, it didn’t matter much to them. They just wanted to play together. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all go back to that time of innocence, before the world and other people told us what we should think?
But, I digress…
Larry Ott doesn’t quite fit in. He loves to read. His father barely tolerates him. When his father pulls over one cold morning on the way to school and picks up a young black boy and his mama walking alongside the road, Larry is perplexed. Why would his daddy do that? With that, Larry and Silas (the young black boy) begin a tentative friendship that is constantly put to the test.
When Larry goes out on his first date with the beautiful Cindy Walker, and she ends up missing, all suspicion falls on Larry. With no evidence, he is never convicted of a crime, but he becomes the town outcast, and grows into an adult who lives out on a farm, the target of teenage pranksters. With all eyes cast upon Larry, his friendship with Silas is severed, and the boys go their separate ways.
As adults, Larry and Silas are back living in the same town in Mississippi. Larry is still a social outcast, working in his daddy’s automotive shop, but rarely getting a customer. Silas is the town constable (police officer) with some demons of his own. When Tina Rutherford, a beautiful young woman from a well-to-do family, goes missing, Larry once again becomes the prime suspect. Will they be able to find the evidence to get him this time? Or is he really innocent? As Larry and Silas reconnect to tell their stories, the reader gets flashbacks of their childhood friendship and the case surrounding Cindy Walker. Will the truth come out?
Unfortunately, for me, this book was the victim of too much hype. I was expecting a phenomenal, amazing, cannot-put-this-book-down-until-I-finish-it type of experience based on the reviews I was reading. It just did not live up to it. It was an okay book. Will I remember it 3 or 4 books from now? Probably not. The relationship between Larry and Silas is intriguing and fascinating, but it lacked something – some emotional depth. I never felt like I connected with either of the characters and I never felt as if they connected with each other. The story is good and I found the mystery to be interesting, if not a bit predictable. But other than that, it just didn’t do much for me. Overall, it’s a good read, but not a knock-your-socks-off type of experience, at least for me.
Don’t Breathe a Word is Jennifer McMahon’s fifth novel. She has quickly shown herself to be a phenomenal writer. She has the ability to create worldsDon’t Breathe a Word is Jennifer McMahon’s fifth novel. She has quickly shown herself to be a phenomenal writer. She has the ability to create worlds that tantalize your senses; characters whom you love to root for (and love to hate!); and storylines that keep you on the edge of your seat, in joyful (or is it fearful?) anticipation of what’s coming next. Unfortunately, for me, Don’t Breathe a Word did not live up to the Jennifer McMahon I have come to know and love.
It’s probably because of the fairies.
It’s not really a secret that I’m not a fan of the paranormal/fantasy genre. There are minor exceptions and for an author that I enjoy (i.e. Jennifer McMahon), I am willing to give the book a chance. But I just didn’t get it. There is a lot of suspense; a lot of drama; a lot of action. But the whole fairy angle just threw me. And it might be because of how the novel wrapped up. I was kind of with it until the last third and then the book rushed to the end and I was left feeling completely bewildered. I still don’t completely understand how everything tied together. The author set the book up so intricately through the first 2/3rds and then seemed to rush the ending. The ending is the money, the payoff for the reader. We’ve gone along for the ride for 300+ pages and to feel disappointed at the end just made me feel like I wasted all that time.
I enjoyed the characters and the psychological suspense of the plot. It definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next. In that regard, Jennifer McMahon is a master. She reveals just enough to make you wonder what is going on and to keep you riveted at things to come.
I really wanted to like this book, but that wasn’t the case. There are definitely some great things about it, but the end just confused me and left me feeling like I missed something. I do suggest you read it for yourself, though, because it has gotten some great reviews – more positive than negative. ...more
Sarah Addison Allen is a magical writer. She has a way of creating an engaging, mystical story that sucks you in from the first page. The Peach KeeperSarah Addison Allen is a magical writer. She has a way of creating an engaging, mystical story that sucks you in from the first page. The Peach Keeper is a delightful novel that follows in the lines of her previous works, Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, and The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood are former classmates thrown together amidst a scandal. Paxton is renovating the Blue Ridge Madam, a historic building built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather. During the process a body is uncovered, igniting a mystery involving both Willa and Paxton’s families.
The novel takes place in the present day with reflections from Paxton’s grandmother, Agatha, to 1936. Through these flashbacks, the reader learns the history of both Willa and Paxton’s families and the relationship between their grandmothers. Concurrently, as the mystery is unfolding, the women are also struggling with budding romances of their own, which I found very sweet although a bit frustrating at times. Paxton’s “relationship” with Sebastian was a bit odd, in my opinion. I did not quite understand the dynamic between the two of them; the build-up; and then the final outcome. It was all just a tad strange for me.
Overall, this is a lovely story, with everything that a reader looks for in a great book – mystery, friendship, family, budding romance, with a dash of whimsy and mysticism. Ms. Allen has a way of creating a world that you know in your head is not believable, but in your heart it makes you wonder…...more
Susanna Daniel deftly weaves together the portrait of a marriage, amidst the backdrop of the coming-of-age of Miami throughout the 60′s,From my Blog:
Susanna Daniel deftly weaves together the portrait of a marriage, amidst the backdrop of the coming-of-age of Miami throughout the 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s. The author explores the highs and lows of a long-term relationship and how a couple (Frances and Dennis) can beat the odds despite many forces that try to separate them. The reader is taken on a journey from the beginning of the relationship to the end, chronicling the major life events in between (the initial meeting, the first kiss, the marriage, the baby, the empty nest, the son-in-law, etc.).
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting with this novel. At times I felt that it meandered a bit and was waiting for something to happen. Other times, I couldn’t stop reading, waiting to see what was around the next corner. I guess that is what real-life marriage is really like. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and butterflies. It’s not all excitement and happiness and fearlessness. Marriage is hard work. The author lovingly captures the emotions of the characters and easily brings the reader into their lives, making us seem like a fly on the wall of a real marriage.
On the outskirts of the marriage is the coming-of-age of Miami, which I found fascinating. Topics such as the slow increase of drugs, murder, and Cuban immigrants are intricately weaved into conversations in the novel, which adds depth and character to the book. Miami is almost a character unto itself.
And then there is Stiltsville. Dennis’s father built a stilt house in the 1940′s, one of a handful of houses still remaining at the start of this novel (1969) after storms blow through each year. The house is an oasis for Frances and Dennis and is actually the place where they initially meet. It becomes the backdrop of their marriage; a place of refuge and relaxation; a place of hope and renewing. I could just picture them laying on the porches, dragging out mattresses to sleep under the stars each night. It sounds like paradise. It reminds me of my time spent on the Outer Banks each year and how I long for it when I’m away.
This is a beautifully written novel exploring a true-to-life marriage and the troubles it can face throughout all of life’s important struggles. I would definitely recommend it.
As the novel opens, 21-year-old Allison Glenn is being released from prison and into a halfway house in her hometown of LinMy Thoughts (from my blog):
As the novel opens, 21-year-old Allison Glenn is being released from prison and into a halfway house in her hometown of Linden Falls, Iowa. Having served five years for a heinous crime, she is ready to start her life over again. But, secrets from the past have a way of hanging on...and never letting go.
Brynn Glenn is Allison's 20-year-old sister; a young woman tormented by the secrets of the night of Allison's crime. She tried to start over by moving in with her grandmother in another town and going to college, but she is consumed by what happened that horrible night five years earlier...
Charm Tullia is a 20-year-old nursing student who is taking care of her ailing stepfather and dealing with her aloof mother, who only seems to care about herself and what she can get from Charm.
Claire Kelby is a wife, mother, and the owner of Bookends, a local bookstore in Linden Falls. She has struggled with infertility, but her and her husband are finally settled into life with their new family.
Allison. Brynn. Charm. Claire. Four women with one thing in common - a five year old boy named Joshua.
The book is told from the perspective of each of these women. The beginning of each chapter indicates who is narrating that particular section. I was a bit concerned that I would get confused by four different characters telling the story, but that wasn't the case at all. Each character is so unique and well-developed, with their own storylines expertly weaved throughout the story, that it was very easy to distinguish between them. The author is able to make each character come alive on the page, which is not easy to do, especially with four narrators!
At first it seems that it is just a novel about Allison and Brynn coming to terms with Allison's crime five years prior, but it is so much more than that. It is confusing at first, trying to figure out how Charm and Claire fit into the story, but as the book moves along, and more information is revealed, the reader begins to see how each of these women fits into the larger picture. All four women play an integral role in the plot, which is centered around a little five year old boy named Joshua. So, what links an ex-con, her sister, a nursing student, and a bookstore owner to this innocent child? Sorry, I can't tell you! :D You will have to read it and find out for yourself!
The plot of the book is utterly mesmerizing. I couldn't put it down. The author has a way of revealing just enough information at the right times to keep the reader entranced in the story, wondering what will happen next. As the pieces started to fall into place, I found myself gasping out loud, shocked at each morsel that the author revealed.
This novel is stunningly executed and masterfully told - it should definitely go on your "must-read" list for 2011! It gets a well-deserved CRAZY AMAZING rating from this crazy reviewer!...more
Zoe Baxter is elated. After years of infertility, miscarriages, and failed IVF attempts, she and her husband, Max, are almost in the homeMy Synopsis:
Zoe Baxter is elated. After years of infertility, miscarriages, and failed IVF attempts, she and her husband, Max, are almost in the home stretch of their current pregnancy. Zoe's dream of finally becoming a mother is about to come true.
Until tragedy strikes. And a nightmare begins.
The resulting emotional duress causes undue strain to Zoe and Max's marriage and they end up divorcing. Zoe seeks refuge in her career as a music therapist - using music in a clinical way to soothe patients in their times of need. She helps burn victims in a hospital; she helps Alzheimer’s patients connect with the present; she provides solace for hospice patients. When Vanessa Shaw - a high school guidance counselor - asks Zoe to work with a suicidal teenage girl their lives become forever changed. As Vanessa and Zoe's friendship blossoms into love and then marriage, she remembers the three frozen embryos that she and Max never used when they were married. She begins to hope that she may have a family after all.
Meanwhile, recovering alcoholic and atheist Max has found solace at the bottom of a bottle until an accident brings him closer to God. He joins the Eternal Glory Church whose pastor, Clive Lincoln, has vowed to fight the "homosexual agenda" that has threatened traditional family values in our country. When Zoe approaches Max about using the frozen embryos to start a family with Vanessa, the mission becomes personal for Max and a court battle ensues.
I don't know how she continues to do it, time and time again. Picoult just has a knack for creating characters that you love (and hate!) and storylines that are chock full of so much depth and emotion that you can't stop reading until you know what the outcome is. Sing You Home will probably be one of the most controversial books she's ever written. There are so many questions that she explores in this book (from her website):
What does it mean to be gay in today's world? How reproductive science has outstripped the legal system Are embryos people or property? What challenges do same-sex couples face when it comes to marriage and adoption? What happens when religion and sexual orientation - two issues that are supposed to be justice-blind - enter the courtroom? What constitutes a "traditional family" in this day and age?
I'm sure just reading through those thought-provoking questions, you had a knee-jerk, strong response to one or more of them. I think we all do. And that's the point of this book. To explore those questions. Picoult isn't afraid to tackle the tough social issues. But she does it in a way that is honest, really capturing the essence of each side of the argument. Of course, she throws in a couple of characters that you loathe - the stereotypical "crazy" religious lawyer and the pastor with his own agenda who is pushing Max to do some things he is not entirely comfortable with. But, with those characters aside, I think Picoult did an excellent job capturing both sides and laying out the story the way she did.
The story is told from 3 perspectives - Zoe, Max, and Vanessa. At the beginning of each section, the reader is told who will be narrating and the font-type is different for each character, which is a fantastic idea! Each character is developed extremely well. Picoult is able to capture the essence of each character, with appropriate backstory and supplemental characters, to really give the reader a true picture of who Zoe, Max and Vanessa really are.
The narrative flowed like a movie in my mind. Hollywood - are you reading this? I could seriously picture this movie on the big screen. Picoult takes the reader step by step through each phase of the book. There are no odd time shifts or parts of the narrative that seemed out of line to me. The only thing that I took issue with is how quickly Zoe and Vanessa's relationship developed. I'm not sure, after being with Max for nine years, that someone could realistically work through all of that and fall in love with another person that quickly.
In case you couldn't tell, I thought this book was amazing. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good story, with lots of controversy! No matter which side of the issue you fall on, this book will give you something to talk about.
This is a moving, heartfelt, emotionally-packed novel that will keep you riveted until its stunning conclusion!
This book is kind of hard to describe. It is a "story within a story". Anna Hott is a woman in her mid-fifties who is reflecting back on her life twenThis book is kind of hard to describe. It is a "story within a story". Anna Hott is a woman in her mid-fifties who is reflecting back on her life twenty years prior, of the week she had all to herself, where she began writing her novel. When life intruded upon her again, the novel got tossed in a drawer, never to be seen again. At the opening of this book, Anna is on her way to see her old neighbor, Fedelina, who inspired Anna to write that story so many years ago. Anna is looking for an ending to her story, and to reconnect with the woman who changed her life.
Fedelina is living in a nursing home in Indiana and when the two women reconnect, Anna begins reading her story to Fedelina, looking for approval from the woman on whom this story is based. The reader is taken back in time, twenty years earlier, to when Anna is an overwhelmed mother of three, caring for her three young children, taking care of a household, and stumbling through the after-effects of her husband's affair. She is on the verge of a complete breakdown when her husband heads out of town on a business trip and sends the children to stay with his parents for a week, giving Anna some much needed time and space to confront her emotions and figure out who she is and who she wants to be.
With a quiet house, Anna begins pursuing one of her lifelong dreams - writing a novel. When she meets her elderly neighbor, Fedelina, Anna's outlook on life changes completely. Fedelina gives Anna sage wisdom on life from raising her own seven children, with gardening metaphors that carry throughout the novel.
The story is broken out in sections. "Belvedere" is the present in which Anna and Fedelina are in the nursing home; most of the story is the reading of Anna's manuscript to Fedelina; and there are several sections from the early 1900s with Cora, Fedelina's mother, sharing her life's wisdom with her own daughter (these are also part of Anna's manuscript).
These characters are rich, complex, and deeply formed. You can feel their emotions leaping off the page. I was instantly drawn into their story, taking meaning from their lives and applying it to my own. There is much to think about in reading this novel and it can easily be transferred to your own life. Are you doing what makes you truly happy?
A few things that bothered me: although this book is 355 pages, I felt that the ending wrapped up too quickly and I didn't like it! I kind of felt cheated as a reader. Also, the story seemed to move very slowly at times and I had to force myself to keep reading, because I just wanted to get through it. Finally, there were so many editing errors that it drove me a bit crazy! (i.e. lashlight instead of flashlight; loose instead of lose). I hate finding errors like these in a book because it really detracts from my enjoyment of it. There were also many hyphenated words that I didn't get - i.e. sup-posed. I'm not sure if the completed novel just didn't translate correctly into a printed, bound copy, but this was all through the novel and really bugged me.
Overall, this is a wonderful story and gave me lots to think about. The characters are rich and deep and I'm sure many of you could find a little bit of yourself in Anna.
This book is utterly stunning in its execution. The prose is fluid and engaging. The characters are fleshed out so well and with such precision that IThis book is utterly stunning in its execution. The prose is fluid and engaging. The characters are fleshed out so well and with such precision that I felt myself completely immersed in their world, actually feeling like I was there, living their lives. The plot flowed seamlessly from one scene to the next, carrying the reader page by page into Sara and Rachel's world, showing us their young innocence and blind faith in the only life and religion they have ever known.
I admit to not knowing very much about the faith surrounding polygamy. I have seen the tv specials with the young girls who got out. I watched America's Most Wanted when Warren Jeffs was captured and charged. These things seem so far removed from my own life that it is hard for me to fully understand what young girls have to live through in this type of environment. It truly breaks my heart. I felt so much sympathy for the characters of Sara and Rachel and what they had to go through in their young lives. But, they didn't know any better. They didn't know that this wasn't "normal" life. I really feel like I received an education on polygamy from reading this book. The author seems very knowledgeable about the subject and presented it in a way that was interesting and added, instead of detracted, from the overall story. I think these descriptions of the history behind polygamy added to my understanding of the cult-like mentality that the Blood of the Lamb community seems to have. It also helped me see how these young girls are brainwashed into blindly believing their faith and they are not allowed to question or say a negative thing about it. These girls have no freedom. They are trapped.
When a new family joins the Blood of the Lamb community (read: cult), Sara and Rachel immediately befriend young Luke who is around their same age. Luke is baffled by his father's insistence that their family join the Blood of the Lamb community and he just wants to get out and rejoin "normal" life. Through conversations with Luke, the "celestial testimony" that 15 year old Sara is to marry her 50+ year old uncle, and the 17 "celestial testimonies" for 16 year old Rachel's hand in marriage (yes, 17 men had testimony from God that he is to marry Rachel), the girls eventually come to see their faith in a new light. When Rachel's husband is announced, an event so tragic and violent changes Sara and Rachel's lives forever and will have them questioning everything they know.
This is a superbly written novel that I was mesmerized by. I could not put the book down. Page after page, I was entranced by the author's writing style, needing to know what happened next, how Sara and Rachel's lives ended up. Loved the book and would definitely recommend to others. It is definitely Crazy Amazing!!
This is a story about a neighborhood. A neightborhood in Harlem, New York, USA. What thoughts just went through your head when you read the word HarleThis is a story about a neighborhood. A neightborhood in Harlem, New York, USA. What thoughts just went through your head when you read the word Harlem? There is such a negative connotation with Harlem being this dangerous place, that we don't really stop to think about the people who live there. The people who have amazing stories to tell. The people who make up this wonderful debut novel by Chris Herz.
The main narrator, never named, is struggling to identify who he wants to be in life. In his mid-thirties, he works as a copywriter, but is very unhappy. Each day he walks through his neighborhood, he hears stories of other peoples' lives, of their triumphs, and of their failures. Each day, he also seems people trashing his neighborhood, making it filthy and disgusting. One day, on a whim, he goes into the $0.99 cent store and purchases a broom and some garbage bags. He begins sweeping up the garbage lining the streets.
What ensues is a movement of sorts. He does not want recognition of his efforts. He just wants a clean neighborhood. When his efforts spawn media attention and the support of the local Councilman, many Harlem natives find themselves being pushed out by the rising rents and an influx of more affluent people looking to purchase homes in the neighborhood. In order to preserve his neighborhood, the narrator develops a plan, with the voices of the neighborhood contributing, to take back their lives. What he doesn't account for is how all of this will affect his own life; his marriage, and his sanity.
The narrator's relationship with his wife, Namuna, is interesting. She is an architect and makes money off of the building of new structures. This seems to conflict with her husband's vision of keeping the integrity of the neighborhood the same. Their relationship is very up and down and, the final 50 or so pages of the book, just plain bizarre for me. The story seemed to stray a bit from the main plot and into this strange series of events involving the narrator and his wife. I didn't quite fully understand the author's intention for their relationship.
I really enjoyed this story of a man trying to find his place in life, with very unexpected outcomes. This is a great debut novel from Herz and one I would definitely recommend.
Do you ever feel like a book comes into your life at a time when you really need it? It's like some force in the world told me that I needed to read ADo you ever feel like a book comes into your life at a time when you really need it? It's like some force in the world told me that I needed to read Aidan Donnelley Rowley's book, Life After Yes, at this point in my life. The main character, Prudence (aka Quinn) recently lost her father in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has now found herself newly engaged to her man, Sage (interesting name, btw!). I felt so deeply connected to Quinn's story; I could feel her ups and downs as she tries to figure out who she is in her life and if her life is going where she wants it to. I related so intensely to this book and to Quinn's character - her confusion, her insecurity, her relationships with her friends and family.
The Setting: The book takes place in the year follow the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was incredibly moving to read a fictional story about this time and about a character who lost her father in the attacks. It added an additional element to the story that really struck me.
The Characters: I loved Quinn. She's unsure, insecure, and unhappy in her life. Her journey is one of hope and one that I connected to. I felt like Quinn was a friend and that she was sitting right next to me telling me the story. She is full of flaws, but that is what makes her so interesting. Her fiancee, Sage, is the stereotypical great guy who I found myself rooting for through the book. You can tell that he really loves Quinn, flaws and all, and their love story felt very true and real. There are also other characters who show up in the story: Quinn's friends Kayla and Avery, her brother, Michael, her mother, Sage's mother, Quinn's personal trainer, and Quinn's ex-boyfriend. All of them add depth to the story and make it very real.
The Plot: Quinn is struggling with life after she accepts a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Sage. She has a crazy dream that makes her start questioning her choices. She reminisces about her past with her ex-boyfriend, who also happens to pop back into her life during this confusing time. The plot basically revolves around Quinn finding her way through life post-9/11, and post-engagement. I was able to relate very well with her and I imagine that many other women will be able to as well. Who hasn't had confusing moments of: Am I doing the right thing? What is life all about?
To sum up: This book is very easy to read and the author writes very well. The story moves quickly and I was able to read it in about a day. I can't rave enough about this book and I encourage you to go and find your own copy asap!! I am eagerly anticipating more from this author in the future!!
Tiffany, Rachel, and Jessica are three women who are facing serious financial troubles. Tiffany has turned into a compulsive shopaholic after two miscTiffany, Rachel, and Jessica are three women who are facing serious financial troubles. Tiffany has turned into a compulsive shopaholic after two miscarriages has left a void that nothing else can seem to fill. Rachel just lost her teaching job and, as a divorced mother of two, is always trying to please her children by buying them things. Jessica has been a SAHM for many years, but with grown children and her husband's job on the chopping block, she either needs to find a job or face relocation to the other side of the country.
Three women. Three different situations. But money is the theme that bonds them together.
Forced to make drastic changes to their spending habits, Tiffany, Rachel, and Jessica form the Small Change Club, focused on making small changes to their daily financial lifestyles. Eating in, growing their own food, and curbing their unnecessary spending are just a few of the ways that these women try to better themselves and their checkbooks. Chock full of humor, Roberts delivers a contemporary tale that will appeal to many who are facing financial difficulties, especially during our current economic climate.
One small thing that bugged me a bit. There were times when I was reading this that I felt like I was reading a financial self-help book instead of a fictional novel. There are many tips on saving money, which are great, but at times it felt a bit forced. I wanted more of the women's stories instead of all these little tidbits on saving money. Although helpful, they got to be a bit much for me.
Overall, a good book with likable characters and a fairly fast read. It is one of those books that I neither loved nor hated. It was a solid 3 stars, middle of the road read for me.
One of the best things about being a blogger is discovering new authors that I have not heard of before. When I was asked to review Wendy Wax's novelOne of the best things about being a blogger is discovering new authors that I have not heard of before. When I was asked to review Wendy Wax's novel Magnolia Wednesdays, I jumped at the chance. This book is right up my alley. As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. The characters are so richly portrayed and drawn out. The plot moved steadily and all loose ends were wrapped up nicely. I actually tried to read this book as slowly as possible because I wanted to savor each and every word on the page. I loved this book!
Vivian Armstrong Gray is a 41 year old investigative journalist living in New York City. While investigating a story, she is shot in the backside (yup, that backside), the video of which ends up on YouTube (yup, that YouTube). Humiliated, jobless, and newly pregnant, Vivi's life is falling apart. Desperately seeking work, she accepts a job writing scathing articles about suburbia for the Weekly Encounter - a job she must write under a pseudonym. Vivi heads to Georgia and moves in with her sister (Melanie), niece (Shelby), and nephew (Trip) and promptly immerses herself into the suburban life. She joins Melanie as she goes through her daily (and exhausting) life as a single mother of two teenagers, trying to keep her business afloat, while keeping her kids on the right path -- and trying to figure out what the heck her sister is doing back in Georgia.
Melanie runs Magnolia Hall, a dance studio, in her Georgia hometown and is always trying to offer new and exciting classes to try and bring in new business. Her latest venture is a Wednesday night belly dancing class, which much of the novel revolves around. Melanie forces Vivi into taking the class (she needs as many people as possible to make people feel comfortable!) where we are introduced to two secondary characters whose stories we learn about throughout the rest of the story. The Hall almost becomes a character unto itself in this novel. A lot of action takes place here and it was very easy for me to visualize the Hall, with bustling activity and classes taking place concurrently. Melanie, Vivi and their friends decorating for the holidays; lining up for belly dancing class; joining the Friday night social party. It really sounds like a happening place! It's also the place where Vivi learns a lot about the local suburban life for her articles.
Meanwhile, Vivi is struggling with her pregnancy and how to tell the father of the child, Stone, that he's going to be a daddy. Stone is a war correspondent and is overseas in hostile war territory covering extreme situations where he is in constant danger. She can never seem to find the "right moment" to divulge her news to him. Will she ever get the chance?
As Vivi continues to write her articles in anonymity, she begins to forge a deeper relationship with her sister and make new friendships with people at Magnolia Hall. What Vivi discovers about herself and her relationships while "undercover" in suburbia will have a profound impact on her life. But what happens once her secrets are revealed? Will her family and new friends ever forgive her?
Magnolia Wednesdays is an amazing story of family dynamics and relationships. It makes you realize that, no matter how old you are, it really is never to late to go home again.
This book really hit a chord with me. As a woman who is struggling to identify who I am and what I should be doing with my life, I really fell in loveThis book really hit a chord with me. As a woman who is struggling to identify who I am and what I should be doing with my life, I really fell in love with the characters in this book. It allowed me to reflect on my own life and come to the realization that it is never to late to follow your dreams. No matter what struggles are put in your way, a person should always follow their heart and do what makes him or her happy. I commend the author for creating such well-rounded characters who face the daily challenges that all of us do - job, husband, children - but still understands the need for each person to find their own self-identity - what makes someone truly happy, outside of family and friends. This book has allowed me to reflect on my own creative endeavors and understand what is truly in MY heart and tell me that it is never too late to do what fulfills me.
The Love Ceiling is told from two perspectives - Annie, a 64-year-old wife, mother, grandmother, and daughter, who is coming to terms with her mother's death - and Cass, Annie's 32 year-old daughter who is struggling to define herself and her relationship with her significant other, Richard. Both Annie and Cass face different challenges, but both are strong women, looking to find what fulfills them and makes them happy. At times the story seemed to move very slowly and at times I was furiously turning the pages, anxious to see what would happen next. I actually took the time to savor this book and read it over the course of a week.
Annie's story really struck me. After being belittled and berated by her father over the course of her life, Annie had basically given up on painting. But, as a promise to her dying mother, Annie begins to paint again, taking classes from Fred, a colleague of her father's who shows Annie what she is capable of and begins to allow Annie to see and feel her true potential. I think Annie's story is a message to all of us that you should never deny your dreams, no matter what someone says to you.
Cass's story is about a young woman whose life is turned upside down and how she manages to pick herself back up. I could relate to Cass (being the same age as her!) and her uncertainty of life and what she should be doing.
Overall, I loved this story and it really made me think and reflect on my own creative endeavors. It's never too late to follow your dreams!
I definitely recommend this book! It is CRAZY FABULOUS!
"Cars from a Marriage" is a delightfully honest portrayal of a 20+ year marriage, told from the perspective of the cars that the couple drove during t"Cars from a Marriage" is a delightfully honest portrayal of a 20+ year marriage, told from the perspective of the cars that the couple drove during their life together. I found this premise intriguing and highly enjoyable. We don't really think about how our cars have been with us through the ups and downs of our lives, and telling the story of a marriage in this manner is refreshing and quite unique!
Ivy Honeycutt and Ellis Halpern meet and fall in love in NYC in 1981. Ivy is a southern transplant with an intense fear of driving, although her father owns the local Buick dealership in her hometown. Ellis is a wannabe stand-up comedian who rescues Ivy from a mean waitress in a nightclub he is performing at. He whisks her away in his 1974 Burgundy Mustang Hatchback and they fall in love.
Where most stories end, "Cars from a Marriage" is just beginning. From the 1982 Light Green Buick LeSabre, to the 1987 Buick Century Wagon (white with wood trim), to the 1992 Silver Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon, to the 1995 Red Audi Cabriolet Convertible (rental), and finally to the Red Chrysler Sebring Convertible (rental), the reader is taken on a journey of the highs and lows of a 20 year marriage. What I found interesting about this book is what each car signifies - that the car is a metaphor for the characters lives at that time. From just starting out, to having children, to figuring out life, to death, and to infidelities. You can picture the family in each of these cars during these times, feel the joy and feel the pain that they are experiencing.
The story is told in alternating chapters between Ivy and Ellis. I really felt for both of these characters. I could understand their frustrations and their angst and you can't help but be drawn into their story, wanting to help them and hoping that they will figure it all out. This story is, at times, laugh-out-loud funny, and at times very, very sad. Just like a marriage.
I would absolutely recommend this book - I loved it!
Books are there to tell you a story; to take you into the lives of some fictional characters; to escape your own life for a time. A book that completeBooks are there to tell you a story; to take you into the lives of some fictional characters; to escape your own life for a time. A book that completely captures your imagination and keeps you up until all hours of the night reading is what makes for a great book. The Language of Secrets did that for me. This story had me under a spell from the beginning (especially by the end of chapter 2) that I could not go to sleep until I had finished the novel. I started it at about 5pm EST and finished it around 1am EST. I was so absorbed in this literary mystery right along with the main character, trying to piece things together and figure out what actually happened in his life.
Justin Fisher moved back to the USA from London to accept a new job. Being back in the area he remembers growing up in gives him the courage to finally face his past and his memories. He has vague images of his parents, and of where he used to live in California. He hasn't seen them in over 30 years.
Yes - you read that right. He has not seen nor spoken to his parents in over 30 years. Justin sets out to find answers to his past, of who he was, and of who he is as a man today.
The story is told in alternating voices and timelines each chapter, with headers letting the reader know who is narrating the chapter and when it is taking place. It is mainly from the POVs of Justin and his biological mother, Caroline. The chapters correlate well with each other. As Justin searches his past, with the help of a psychiatrist friend and private detective, Caroline's chapters reveal the "real story" of what happened to Justin. And, it is not a pretty story.
I was appalled at the actions of some of these characters. I was enraged, furious. And I felt for little 3 year old Justin. My heart ached for him and broke for him. What he must have suffered through is beyond my comprehension. No wonder he is such a tortured man 30 years later.
This book will keep you on the edge of your seat (or bed!) until the final, shocking page is read. As soon as you think you know the story, the author throws that very last page in there and gives the reader a last gasp as the book closes. Literally, I gasped out loud and I'm pretty sure my chin hit the floor. It truly was the perfect ending.
Do you hear a BUT coming? Yeah, it's coming and here it is.
I felt that some issues went unresolved in the story. Justin's relationship with his siblings, for example. I would have liked to have seen a better resolution of those issues, because there is a lot of story to be explored there and I really felt like a big hole was missing in the book because of it. I kept waiting, wondering how it would be resolved and....nothing happened. I was really disappointed. This book is so wonderful and engaging that it would nudged my review up to the 5 star mark had that issue been addressed.