In her typical hysterical fashion Jen (my imaginary BFF) uses the self deprecating humor that she has perfected to tell us some stories that have helped her realize that she is becoming an adult. Like buying her first home in the suburbs of Chicago. Or hosting her first holiday dinner. Or when she returned to her Alma Mater to receive a distinguished award. (I nearly wet myself laughing so hard at her adventures after the fancy shin-dig). She teaches us some of the very useful life lessons that she learned along the way, but she also teaches that it is still okay at the age of forty-something to still own barbie dolls. No matter what anyone else says.
As always Jen (my imaginary BFF) entertains in ways that I wish every author could learn. She is funny, loyal, witty, and willing to call herself a jackass. The best qualities a girl could ever need in a BFF, real or imaginary. If you are looking for a good laugh and are over the age of thirty, this book is for you. You will recognize your self in at least one of Jen's essays. I promise. And you will laugh out loud because you have soooooooooo been in those shoes at some point in your life. Under 30? -- Read it anyway. You will learn what NOT to do as you move through life. Either way. I promise that you will laugh. ...more
I Couldn't Love You More is one of those books that will put you through the ringer. It will make you laugh and then it will rip out your heart, makeI Couldn't Love You More is one of those books that will put you through the ringer. It will make you laugh and then it will rip out your heart, make you cry. Being a Step-Mother is such a challenging experience, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences that anyone could ever have. Eliot is forced to make a choice that nightmares are made of and it forces her to examine her relationship with Grant, her relationship with her daughters, and her relationship with her own parents.
Bottom line, I Couldn't Love You More is a ultimately a book about guilt, forgiveness, regret, and redemption. All of the heavy hitters. Being a Step-Mother myself, I can relate to a lot of the situations and feelings of inadequacy that Eliot encounters, but I am not sure I would have done the same things that Eliot did, I can understand why she did them. I Couldn't Love You More is one of those books that will stay with you long after you finish. Be sure to keep the tissues close because you will need them, that I promise you!
I think that Matthew Bowman was as objective as he could be in writing this book. He did touch on some of the negative PR issues that have plagued the church since it's inception, but it seemed very glossed over. I do feel as if I learned something about the Church, it's history, and it's people. If all you know about the Church of Latter Day Saints have come from a Broadway Play or ex-members, then I think this book will help you understand a bit more about the Church and what they believe....more
First let me tell you that I laughed out loud while reading this book. Alice is a funny, witty wife, mother, and friend. Her fears, concerns, and observations are not that different than any other mother's. And I think that may be one of the reasons why I laughed so hard, because the way those fears manifest is really quite hysterical. The book has several Facebook posts, emails, and chat dialogue. And some of those Facebook posts are so funny, because I have seen similar posts show up in my News Feed. Alice is a familiar character, you will recognize yourself and your friends in her thoughts, comments, and mannerisms.
Being a mother and wife is hard. There are ebbs and flows that can, at times, leave a woman feeling discouraged and lost. I can understand that feeling. Alice chose to deal with some of those feelings by participating in this "study" and in the process found what was missing in her marriage. But what happens when Wife 22 meets Researcher 101 will shock you. Bottom line is this, Wife 22 will make for a great Summer read. ...more
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake (love that title!) is a memoir about growing old gracefully. She covers all sorts of topics that could relate women of all ages. From "late in life" motherhood, to caring for ill and/or aging parents to her relationships with her girlfriends she shares with us her thoughts on life and what it means to be a woman on the brink of 60 in today's society. She even hits some harder hitting topics, like her decision to stop drinking and when her and her husband recently left the Catholic church. But every chapter, every topic is written with such honesty that it feels as if you are just two women sitting on a couch enjoying a cup of tea.
What I took away from this memoir is that now I know what wisdom looks like. Ms. Quindlen has certainly experienced a lot in her life and has learned a lot along the way. She was a pioneer in women's journalism and a best selling author while raising a family. While reading Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, I thought of my own mother who is close in age to Ms. Quindlen and of a similar background. And both women seem to have the same effect on me, being in their presence (if only on paper) makes me want to strive for more. How can that be a bad thing?...more
Afterwards is about a Mother, Grace, who has her worst nightmare come true. She is standing outside the school that her son, Adam, attends and her daughter, Jenny, is volunteering at this summer when she sees that the building is on fire. Grace does the one thing that any other Mother would do in that situation, knowing that Adam is safe, she runs into the burning building to save her daughter, Jenny. We next find Jenny and Grace experiencing "out of body experiences" - together they wander the halls of the hospital and listen in as the doctors try to save their lives and the police, including her prickly Sister-In-Law Sarah, try to find out who started the fire and why. As the days pass and the situation becomes dire for Jenny, Grace tries everything possible to let someone, anyone know that it is okay to let her go in order to save Jenny. Will she be able to get through to her husband before it's too late? Or will both Jenny and Grace be lost to their loved ones forever?
Ms. Lupton made a huge splash on the literary scene last year with her blockbuster bestseller, Sister. While Afterwards also explores the inexplicable connections that we have with our loved ones it is also a heart racing mystery. And the "whodunit" in the end will just leave you speechless. But it is the "connection" side of the story that had me in tears towards the end. I don't want to give anything away, but just know that it is a bit gut wrenching and you should have a box of tissues nearby....more
The Dead & The Gone is a lot different from Life As We Knew It. Alex's situation seemed more dire to me than Miranda's for many reasons. The lack of adult supervision and planning being the main reason. In the first book I got a strong anti-religion vibe from the characters, specifically Miranda. Yet the strong faith of the Morales family is a major part of this book. It is their faith that carries them through, specifically Bri. Alex and Julie both struggle with their faith as the book go on, but ultimately they let their faith carry them through the hard times in an admirable way.
The Dead & The Gone is also a bit more - um - graphic. The body-shopping is a bit tough to read, as are other things that take place later in the book. I would say that this is NOT one that I would let my 12 year old read, without some serious prepping. I would let her know about some of the subject matter and maybe let her choose, but I could see where it would be tough for some kids to read.
Bottom line, for the second book in a series, it was pretty good. Almost a stand alone novel because the only thing in common with the first book is the asteroid colliding with the moon. I enjoyed the NYC aspect of the story, because I always wondered about the "What ifs..." for apartment dwellers. Needless to say I enjoyed it enough to read the third book in the installment. Check back tomorrow for my thoughts on that one....more
Well, I was NOT disappointed. The Innocent is about a Government hitman, Will Robie. He works for the United States Government and his targets are usually international evil people, but that night his target was close to home. But he was shocked to discover that his target was a single mother with two young kids sleeping by her side. Will couldn't pull the trigger, his gut told him that something here was off. Even though he couldn't pull the trigger, his "handler" could and Will suddenly finds himself in the middle of something bad. As he is making his "escape" he encounters fourteen year old Julie, who just saw her parents shot dead and is on the run, herself from whoever pulled the trigger. Her path crosses Wills in their attempt to escape their respective situations and Will finds himself with a "partner in crime" for the first time in a long time. Will he be able to get them to safety before they become casualties of "war"?
I forgot how much I enjoy the fast pace, heart pounding tales that David Baldacci is such an expert at crafting. The Innocent was a great companion on my journey home from vacation the other day. I read all 432 pages while sitting in the car and I found myself just whipping through those pages like they were candy. BUT, I will say that I suspected that one person (who shall remain nameless to avoid spoilers) had a part in the mess in SOME way, I just wasn't sure how, but I was not all that shocked by what happened at the end. It was the fast paced action sequences, plus the interaction between Julie & Robie that really held my interest.
Bottom line, David Baldacci still has got "it" when it comes to keeping the attention of his readers. His characters are complex, yet entirely likable. Even if they are cold blooded killers. There are some tender moments between Robie and Julie, but in general it is not a "warm fuzzy" kind of book. It is a heart pounding page turner and it is perfect...more
Gone Girl is a psychological thriller like no other. It is one giant mind game that leaves the reader exhausted by the time it is over. But, oh what a ride! I wanted to like Nick, I really did. But he is a shithead of a husband, but even I have to say that being a bad husband does not mean that you are a killer. And Amy. Anyone who has a single guy friend has heard stories about girls playing mind games, well, Amy has turned playing "mind games" into an Olympic sport.
Fans of a good, gritty mystery novel are going to enjoy Gone Girl. While the "mystery" is revealed about halfway through the book, you are flying through the pages to find out how the whole thing gets resolved. Is Amy really dead? Is Nick facing the death penalty? And what exactly led them to where they are now? This is most definitely a book to throw in the old beach bag or take with you on vacation. It is just too good to pass up....more
This year, Nancy Thayer introduces us to three women who are currently neighbors at the lake. There is Bella, who left her teaching job to move home and help run her mother’s retail shop after an accident laid her up. She has been staying with her parents while trying to decide what to do with her life. Then there is Natalie, an artist from New York City who is staying in her Aunt’s house for a year while her Aunt is off travelling. And finally there is Morgan, the Stay-At-Home-Mom. Morgan and her husband, Josh, have recently moved into this prime piece of real estate after he landed a presigious job with a wealthy chemical company. As the friendship between the three women grow, they are all faced with challenging decisions to make about the future of their lives. Does Bella decide to stay and start her own business, or does she follow her boyfriend to the other side of the country for his job? Does Natalie let herself fall in love with Ben, her opposite in every way possible, and does Morgan make the tough decisions necessary to save her marriage, or is it too late?
Summer Breeze is exactly the kind of book that I have come to expect from Nancy Thayer. Her books have become synonymous with Summer for me. They invoke images of lazy days at the beach, warm gentle breezes, and close knit communities where everyone looks out for each other. Her novels are never going to challenge you way of thinking about life, but neither are they so fluffy that you come away feeling like you just had candy. They are warm and inviting and transport you to another place, which exactly what I want my books to do!...more
Dog people are going to love the story of Giant George. He is a sweet and loving dog owned by sweet and loving people. I read this book in the car while on vacation and found myself sharing George’s statistics with my Husband. I even recall saying “And you think that *I* spoil our dogs” when I heard the whole mess with a bed for George in the hotel room. I love my 100 pound dogs, but they are just fine sleeping on the floor. Lol.
I once worked with a woman, a dog person herself, who once said that dog books never end well. Thankfully Giant George ends with George as a perfectly happy dog recovering from his travels as “World’s Tallest Dog. Dog people are going to love Giant George, others probably not so much....more
The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. was an incredibly poignant read. Reading back through Elizabeth's journals with Kate was emotional for both Kate, and myself - the reader. The choices we make have such an impact on our whole lives and nothing illustrates that more than Elizabeth's stories. But what it came down to in the end for Elizabeth was the choice she made to keep the biggest secret of her life from everyone. Including her husband, Dave. To me that was the saddest part of the whole story. The fact that she felt she could not tell her Husband or her best friend about the secret that was eating her alive.
I think Nichole Bernier has written the first "Must Read" beach book of the Summer. I think it is one to stick in your bag, take to the beach and then contemplate your own life altering choices as you gaze out over the water. Lots to think about with this one!...more
When I heard that Bestselling Romance Author, Eloisa James, was writing a memoir about her year of living abroad in Paris, I was excited at the prospect of seeing Paris through her eyes. I was even more intrigued after reading the introduction and discovering that the book is a compilation of all of her Tweets and Facebook posts from her time in Paris. Some have been expanded into short essays, but for the most part, the book is little snippets of her life as seen on Facebook and Twitter. And I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed that style. From the cuisine, to the struggles with her children and their schooling, to the beautiful sites. Eloisa James holds nothing back about what life in Paris is like for an Ex-Pat.
For those of you who don't know (I know I didn't) Eloisa James is a Harvard graduate and has a PHD from Yale. How impressive is THAT? She also teaches creative writing at Fordham University in NYC and writes a monthly column for the BN Review. She is also "Mom" to two kids & a dog. This woman is the very definition of "Busy", is it any wonder that she wanted to take a year long sabbatical in Paris?
Because of the style in which it is written, Paris in Love, is a fast read, but it is so worth the read. Even with quick snippets, I think we get a fairly accurate depiction of what life is like living in Paris. And let me tell you, it totally made me rethink the quality of my Facebook/Twitter posts. But then again, I am not a Harvard grad, so maybe you can forgive me? ...more
I have read a few books by Heather Graham and they all seem to have that paranormal romance theme. I will say that the "whodunit" in this one did surprise me. So you have a great mystery coupled with a few steamy sex scenes and throw in the paranormal activity and you have a great way to pass the afternoon....more
I really enjoyed Four of A Kind. The author could not have created a group of more different women. They say opposites attract and that could not be more obvious with these women. I really enjoyed how much the women gained from each other. Whether it be the strength for Carla to stand up to her husband, or Bess to stand up to her mother, each of the women grow as women because of the strength of their friends. As their relationships with each other grew, so did their desire to correct the wrongs in their life, one way or another. When the chips are down, the strength of their friendships pull them together in a way that none of them expected....more
Kristan Higgin's does not write hard hitting literary fiction. She writes novels about women who are real. They are unique in their own ways, but I can promise you this, whenever you pick up one of her novels you will laugh out loud. This time it was Parker's little run in with the police that had me laughing so hard I got funny looks from my family. But I also chuckled several times at the "Thing One" and appearances by the Holy Rollers. Over the course of the novel, "Thing One" goes from being her father's flunky sent to help her to the "hot" man doing construction work on her house. I really enjoyed seeing the way Parker views of James slowly shift. And I enjoyed the way Parker went from stressed by her situation to content and accepting of the situation.
Bottom line, Somebody to Love, is a "girl power" book at it's finest. The characters are fun, the story is interesting, and the romance is steamy, but not excessively so. If you are looking for a fun escape pick up this book, or any Kristan Higgins book, and enjoy a few hours of escapism ...more
It is rare that we read about single Father's in Women's Fiction. Maybe it is because the authors obviously gear their stories towards women. But I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Travis. He was a young man who was trying so hard to do the right thing while fighting the incredible odds against him. Yes, he made a few stupid choices, but once he realized how stupid they were he desperately tried to rectify them. The end of The Good Father was somewhat predictable, but no more so than you will find at the end of any Picoult novel.
I am not sure exactly what it is that causes me to love Diane Chamberlain's books more than Jodi Picoult. They essentially use the same formula, chapters told from alternating prospective. There is usually a moral dilemma of some kind in each of their stories, yet for some reason I find Chamberlain's books to be so much more enjoyable. Bottom line, if you are looking for a good book that will tug on your heartstrings without being excessively syrupy, well then I recommend any novel by Diane Chamberlain, but especially The Good Father....more
Harlan Coben is one of the most talented authors of our times. He knows how to draw the readers into his world and his characters are so three dimensional it feels as if you *know* them. I really enjoyed reading about Megan, she is your typical suburban housewife, but has a past so secret that if the truth were revealed it would shatter her life. I loved seeing her revisit her past and her old friends. The story is fast paced and just when you think you have it figured out, Coben throws in a twist that will shock you.
Bottom line, Stay Close, is going to be another blockbuster that his loyal fans will love. The characters are wonderful and the story will draw you in just like always. Fans of Harlan Coben will be pleased and if you have never read his books, you will be in for a treat....more
There were some things I liked about this book, the almost interactive feel to the story with the inclusion of police documents, transcripts, newspaper articles, etc.. And there were things I felt were a bit far-fetched, the whole psychic angle, for example. Bottom line is that The Night She Disappeared is a good mystery/suspense story if you just let yourself get swept away in the story. If you start over thinking certain aspects you will come away thinking only of it's simplicity and be somewhat irritated. If you are looking for a fast read to escape your world, grab this one right up and enjoy!...more
Bottom line,in my opinion, Another Piece of my Heart is Jane Green at her finest. She has taken the Step-Mother/Step-Daughter relationship and given it a story of it's own. There are many women out there who can either identify with Andie or Emily, or even both, like myself.. Whether it be Andie or Emily that you identify with, you see both the good and the bad in their characters. The first half of the book is told from Andie's viewpoint, but it isn't until Emily starts telling her story that you realize there are three sides to every story. Andie's viewpoint, Emily's viewpoint, and the truth that lies in the middle.
I really enjoyed Another Piece of my Heart. Since I have lived both sides of the story, I could really relate to the characters and not only their hopes, but their fears. Even if you haven't experienced a blended family experience, I bet you know someone who has, and Another Piece of my Heart will help you understand a bit of what it is like to be a "Step". Let me know what you think!...more
While Heft was not exactly what I thought it would be, it was a wonderfully written novel about two men struggling to move on with their lives. The title, Heft, refers to so much more than just Arthur's massive weight. I think it also refers to the massive weight that lays heavily on Kel's shoulders. He cares for his mother, much like a parent would care for their child. He tends to the bills and all of the household chores, coupled with his schooling and his effort to plan for his future outside of high school, well, Kel has the weight of the world on his shoulders. I was surprised to find myself so engrossed by Kel's story, and I found myself flying through the pages, hopeful for a positive outcome for both Kel and Arthur.
Bottom line, Heft, is an absolutely lovely little novel. It is a thought provoking, achingly bittersweet, tender little novel with very large subject matters. As the reader, you so desperately, want a "happy ever after" kind of ending. And that is what you can have if you just use your imagination. By ending the novel the way she did, the author, gives us, the reader the chance to "write" the ending we want for Arthur and Kel. In a lot of books that leaves me infuriated, but with Heft, it works. And works well. Give it a read and let me know how you think the ending goes for Kel and Arthur....more
Overall, Arcadia is a great read that I think Hippies, young and old, will enjoy. I must say that I enjoyed the last one third of the book better than the first two-thirds. I liked how the story came full circle with Hannah and Bit taking care of her. But, as a side note, the whole "pandemic" subplot seemed a bit unnecessary in the story, but maybe that was just me. Bottom line, I think Arcadia is the kind of book that will transport you to another time and another place. It may evoke memories in some readers and feed fascinations in other readers, like myself. No matter what your age, though, it is a good read and deserves your attention. ...more
What I got the most out of this book was the needed reminder that marriage is about service and giving. I needed that reminder. It is easy to fall into comfortable patterns with your spouse. That doesn't mean that "comfortable" is necessarily bad, it just means that sometimes we need the reminder to not take our Spouses for granted. I don't necessarily agree with Mr. Young on everything he says, like about half of the Ten Commandments of Marriage, but I can see where they would be useful in a marriage that shares the same religious beliefs as Mr. & Mrs. Young.
If I have learned anything in my two years of marriages it is this, marriage is hard. It is not all breakfast in bed and pretty flowers. Work is required to make your marriage successful. Work on yourself and work on your marriage. Sexperiment offers you the chance to work on both....more
While I think that Lone Wolf is not Jodi Picoult's worst book (Change of Heart, anyone??) I do not think it is her best work at all. She is usually good about evoking some emotion from her readers, by that I mean, everyone cries at some point while reading her books. This time I felt nothing but irritation for Cara and minimal compassion for Edward. Cara comes across as such a brat I just wanted to slap her. She appears to be seventeen going on twelve, yet she wants to be treated as an adult. There is nothing adult like about her behavior. Before or after the accident. Her parents are no better. As the story flashes back in time I just wanted to slap them both. The whole story is nothing but selfish people doing what they want, to hell with the consequences for their actions.
Go ahead and read Lone Wolf, you know you will. Just get it out of the way so we can hurry up and wait for next years book with the hopes of a better story with better characters. Ones that don't make me want to inflict physical harm on them.
I welcome thoughts from people who have already Lone Wolf. Agree or disagree? Or a combination of the both?...more
Believe it or Not was just okay. I actually purchased Fenske's first book, Making Waves, based solely on her participation on one of my favorite blogs, The Debutante Ball. But,I will say that I have not read it yet. So when I had the opportunity to read an ARC of her second book, I jumped at the chance. Believe it or Not is a fast read, but the characters did not really strike a chord with me. At all. The "F" word is used liberally, which doesn't bother me much, but I know that it bothers some of you. To me, it just seemed like the word was completely out of character for Violet. I will say that I did chuckle at the song references and how they played into Violet's "psychic" abilities. ...more
I have read a lot of books about the Titanic, watched a lot of documentaries, and have seen the movies. The one piece of information that I gathered from Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage, that was new to me, was about the dogs of the Titanic. Several dogs were on the Titanic when she set sail and even three survived that night, much to the anger of some other survivors. Women, men, and children perished that night, yet three dogs survived. The other thing that I found fascinating was at the end of the book, Brewster goes on to talk about an extraordinary number of survivors who lived to be over 100 years old and several into their 90's. But there were also an extraordinarily high number of suicides among her survivors.
I really enjoyed Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage. But I am a bit of a geek like that. I could certainly see where the first half of the book would be considered a bit dry to those not as fascinated as I am by such things, but things pick up dramatically as the ship hits the iceberg and the tragedy is set into motion. The author did such an excellent job at researching this book. The passengers own words are often used to describe the Titanic and the events leading up to her demise. It just brought it all to life for me, but that is what a book like this is meant to do. Bring the events of April 14, 1912 to life....more
Even though A Rural Affair is one of those British Chick Lit novels that I adore so much, I had a hard time adoring this one as much as I wanted. I think the only thing that bothered me was the way there were flashbacks and there was no indication or marking of the flashback. Like an icon or even a chapter title. It may have just been the format of my E-ARC, but it made it very confusing for me to read. I will say that there were several times I found myself laughing out loud one minute and then going "Huh??" the next...more
Some people will pick up this book and gain strength from Beth's survival after the loss of her husband. Other's will pick up this book and identify with the healing power of food. I picked up this book, that I didn't even know was set partially in Iowa, and got a piece of "home" when I needed it the most. I haven't been "home" since Thanksgiving and my homesickness has reached an all new level. To paraphrase, the author talks about crossing the Missouri river into Council Bluffs and seeing the sign that says "Iowa A Place to Grow" and how it just felt right. I know that feeling so very well. I have had that same feeling every trip "home" for the last two plus years.
I really enjoyed Making Piece. I am sure that I enjoyed it more because of the Iowa connection than I did anything else,(not really a pie girl, unless it is made of chocoolate) but I enjoyed watching Beth make it through that critical year. She went from being the "big city girl" back to that "small town Iowa girl" with such ease that it almost makes me long to do the same. I think that Making Piece has a little something for everyone, including recipes at the back of the book....more