March Reads

This was a slow reading month for me as I only read five books.  Two of them were professional reads for work, so I’m not including the review for those in my post.

The Princess Diarist

I grew up during the Star Wars generation.  Carrie Fisher may have been every guys dream princess, but for us young girls she was our hero.  She proved to the world that women could play strong characters in a man’s movie world.  With her sad passing, I was interested to read her books.  This is the second one I have read and it wasn’t my favorite.  I enjoyed reading the behind the scenes narration about life on the set of Star Wars.  I didn’t know til her passing that she had an affair with Harrison Ford so that felt like juicy gossip.  The warm relationship between the characters of this movie was evident when reading this book.  Their friendships lasted decades and it was truly touching to hear of the bonds.  This book felt like my last connection to the movie and the characters so I did savor reading it.  When reading Carrie’s books, you are treated to her sarcasm and wit.  Unfortunately, you also get a window, I feel, into her mental illness.  Must read for all Star Wars fans, but for others it may not be of interest.  I loved the narrative more than the actual diary entries.

Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense

If you are a suspense junkie, then this book is for you.  Julie is kidnapped from her home and the only witness to the crime is her sister.  Years go by without a trace of Julie and the effects of this on her family are played out in the book.  The relationships are damaged, with her sister bearing the brunt, as her relationship with her mother have been forever altered.

Then suddenly, one day Julie rings the bell and returns home.  Her family is thrilled to have her back, but doubts begin to surface as to who she really is.  Did they just accept her wanting their daughter back?  Is it really Julie?  Would you be willing to lose your child all over again, or just accept what could be?  This novel is fast paced and suspenseful as you are pondering the fate of Julie throughout.  The past is told in snippets until the thrilling conclusion. Quick, one night read for me.

The Two-Family House: A Novel

I love multigenerational novels with strong characters.  The emotional sagas pull you in and tug at your heart as you follow the life of the novel’s families.  This one will not disappoint those who love this genre.  The strong narrative grabs you from the first page and pulls you right in.

The foreshadowing of the main event to come made it pretty obvious to me where we were heading, but that didn’t bother me as this is not a novel of suspense.  Rather, it’s a novel of emotional drama, a saga that will tug at your heart.  I highly recommend this one as well.  It was not a one night read though as I wanted to savor the book and not let it end.  My first read by this author and one that made the Popsugar’s 6 Books You Must Read list.

If you love family drama that spans generations, this book is for you.  If you are opposed to predictable plots then maybe not.  Considering the favorable reviews are strong and it’s made the 14 Most Buzzed About Books list, I think I’m in the majority on this one when I say – read it!

Hoping to have a better reading month in April.  I have a week off this month so I’m stocking up my Kindle now.  What have you been reading?  Please share some great titles with me as I’m always looking for new reads.

 

Dinner a Love Story

Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table

I’ve been reading a lot for work lately. This weekend I set aside time for some personal reading, but it wasn’t a psychological thriller that called to me.   Rather, it was a beautiful cookbook.

A cookbook you might say.  Who really reads a cookbook?   After all aren’t they really meant to be used to cook?  And, you don’t normally sit down to read a cookbook like a novel.  Usually, you get in, skim through and pick out what you want to cook.

Enter, Dinner a Love Story, by Jenny Rosenstrach.  I have sat here the better part of the day totally engrossed in this book.  I have read every page and feel as if I’ve experienced a story.  This book is not your average cookbook.   There are no lectures on healthy eating and no lists of foods to avoid.  There are no claims to have dinner on your table in less than 30 minutes, or that your kids will love it.  In place of that we have a beautiful story, a journey through life with food as the backdrop.  Heck, I even think you have something here that can and should be made into a movie.

We travel through this book by traveling through Jenny’s life stages from newly married to motherhood.  She centers her stories around her dinner table and the meals she and her husband Andy prepared.  There’s narrative and recipes intertwined throughout the book.

The recipes are not complicated and don’t require exotic ingredients.  Rather, like Grandma Turano’s meatballs, there are meals most will have success with.  And they are delicious.

If you are looking for an enjoyable read with the bonus of delicious recipes, this is your book.  The book is beautiful and will have a favorite spot in my cookbook collection.  I have a feeling it will soon be a fan favorite around here.

What a great gift for any cook in your life.  And, what a gift to put the family dinner back at the forefront of your day.

Dear Mother by Angela Marsons

Dear Mother: A gripping and emotional story that will make you sob your heart out

 

I just knew the moment I started this one it was going to be great.   While I didn’t sob my heart out, as the title indicated I would, I was drawn into the story.  It was an emotional read for sure and thinking about the childhood of these three girls was tough.

Three sisters, Catherine, Alex and Beth.  Very different, yet all equally damaged in their own way from the abuse suffered at the hands of their mother.  Each deals with the effects of that abuse in quite different ways.  Upon the death of their mother, Beth summons the girls back for the funeral.  They have not seen or spoken to each other in many years.  This book is about the emotional toll of physical abuse on the girls that truly shaped who they became as adults.

Each sister has their own story line, but we truly only get to hear from Catherine and Alex. Parts are difficult to read for sure, but it’s a great story of self discovery.  I found it fascinating to read and felt the author did a wonderful job depicting the emotions these characters felt.  Of the two, I was drawn more to Catherine’s story and narration.  The relationship with her twin daughters really shaped my understanding of the long term repercussions of Catherine’s childhood.

My only regret is that we didn’t get to know more about Beth’s backstory.  She was the driving force in the book, yet there was much left unsaid about her.  Highly recommend this one and it’s currently on sale at Amazon for only $3.99.  What a steal.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book to read and review.

New Summer Reads

The Sister: A psychological thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming

This debut novel by Louis Jensen was an enjoyable read to kick off my beach vacation.  Told in alternating chapters of past and present, Grace narrates the tale of her life after losing her best friend Charlie.  The book opens with Grace going back to retrieve a time capsule the two young girls buried together long ago.  In it was a collection of items, including a letter Charlie made Grace promise not to read until they were grown up.  She also made her promise they’d read it together.  The book is about the impact of Charlie’s death on Grace and her quest to find answers about what happened to Charlie prior to her death.

I thought the character Grace was really well developed.  There was a lot of depth to her emotional struggles and I felt connected with her story throughout the book.  I think Grace’s story is what kept me turning the pages of this book.  The husband Dan was not as well developed and you could see immediately where the book was going with his story line.

I enjoyed the book, though there were some parts that were perhaps a bit much, no need for so many shocking events in one book.  I was able to figure out the twist a bit ahead of the end due to strong foreshadowing throughout the book, but not all of it.  There were still a few surprises.  All in all it’s a quick, enjoyable read and this author has great potential to become a best seller in this genre.  I look forward to reading her next novel.

 

To Have and to Hold (Wedding Belles)

My second read this vacation was the first book in a new series by Lauren Layne.  I loved this book and it’s not usually a genre I read.  This would appeal to those who like books by Lisa Renee Jones and even the Fifty Shades folks, though this is a much more vanilla read.  The book does have some steamy sex scenes for fans of those genre, just not as many and definitely not as descriptive.

The book opens with Seth finding out his younger sister Maya is engaged to her new, very short term boyfriend.  He is immediately suspicious of the relationship and worries it’s about gaining access to the family’s money.  Maya hires a wedding planner, Brooke Baldwin to help plan the wedding.  Brooke was a wedding planner in California and has just moved to NYC after her own wedding fell apart at the altar, literally.

Upon their first meeting, sexual sparks are flying between Seth and Brooke.  The book really captures their sexual tension well and you feel the angst of both characters.  All of the characters are likable and ones you’ll want to spend more time with in the anticipated future books of the series.  Personally, I liked Brooke the best and felt her character made the story come alive.  I liked her spunk and ability to get back up after being knocked down big time.  I liked the miscommunication and tension between her and Seth throughout the book.

The second book had a preview available and I was a bit disappointed that it appears to be focusing on a different character.  I had hoped for more of Seth and Brook, but that could come in the future.

A perfect beach read, a quick, steamy summer read.

Thank you to Netgalley and both publishers for providing me copies of these books to read and review.

 

 

In Twenty Years

In Twenty Years: A Novel

I really liked the premise of this book.  It opens on graduation eve from college.  Five college roommates, who are extremely close gather for their last night.  They write letters to their older selves and place them in a time capsule.

Fast forward twenty years and the five are now pretty much estranged.  They each receive a letter from the lawyer of one of the five who is now deceased.   They are to meet at the old college home on her 40th birthday.

Most of us have those long ago friends.  Some stayed in touch, others didn’t.  Many of us wonder if things might have been different, if only….

I enjoyed this book and the characters.  There were parts that felt dragged out and some that felt predictable.  But, I loved the idea of it and kept reading.

By the end, I felt connected to the group, even dear sweet Leon.  A light, easy read that would work well on a plane or beach.

Available now.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a copy to read and review.

Broken Pieces

Broken Pieces: A Novel

Enjoyed reading this one.  It was a quick, yet powerful read.  I started it last night and just finished.  It wasn’t at all what I expected when I first started.  I kept sensing a foreshadowing of what was to be, but each time I was wrong.

The book opens with January getting an unexpected visit from her estranged dad, Albert.  Bit by bit we learn the sadness behind their estranged relationship which followed the death of her mother.  Bit by bit the author unravels a story of finding one’s family and possibly getting what is wanted.  Things in life are not what January ever expected them to be and she has the opportunity to really rethink her long held anger.

The book is not a thriller, or a sappy love story.  It’s a story of a women who has to come to terms with her painful past.  The manner in which she does that was interesting and kept me engaged.  The author has created strong characters and the plot has a few twists thrown in just to keep it different.  Albert, Sydney and Ella will stay with you long after you stop reading.  It’s a quick read, but it’s not light.  It also has an important message to readers and I for one have a new appreciation for the color teal.

Book will be out July 19th.  Available for preorder now.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a copy to read and review.

 

 

 

Love Alice

Love, Alice, by Barbara Davis

It took me two weeks and six books to finally find one that held my attention.  A very sweet, unassuming book that will surprise you how readable it is.  Truly a simple story about a young girl forced to give up her baby in a convent home for unwed mothers.  The main character Alice’s story is told through a series of letters she wrote to her unborn child.

The story was really anything but simple.  There were so many layers to the plot.  On the surface you read about the mistreatment of young women in these unwed mother homes.  They were literally treated like slaves and abused, their babies sold to wealthy families in the United States.  On another level you have the main character, Dovie, trying to put her life together following the suicide of her fiancé.  Her relationship with Austin really had enough sexual tension to get your attention.  All of the characters really were well developed and likable.  It was Alice though, who grabs you by the heart strings and never lets go.  Not even at the bitter end.  She is still orchestrating the plot and quite masterfully at that.

I’ve not heard of this author, but will definitely be checking out any other books she has written.  Her attention to detail was not lost on me.  I truly enjoyed Alice’s story as sad as it was.  Due out in December 2016, this will make a wonderful gift for the readers on your list.  Available for preorder now.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me a copy to read and review.

 

 

Blame

This book is hard to put down. I was actually annoyed that I had plans and wasn’t going to be home to read.  I just finished it tonight and I believe you need to put this on your summer reading list.  Not sure of the release date as it’s not available yet for preorder.  But the good news is I discovered this author’s other books and can’t wait to dig in.  She’s got at least three others that look awesome. Three Hours Late is the one I just purchased.

In Blame, we meet two best friends, Caro and Anna.  The book alternates between the two and we get their perspective around the death of Anna’s daughter Maya.  The story unfolds gradually during simultaneous police interrogations.  Trope uses a lot of flashbacks to unravel and develop the story.   There was such depth to both of these women and their flaws made them perfectly imperfect.  The author truly captured their pain and anguish on a deep level.  The book has that disturbing characteristic reminiscent of We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel.  The emotional toll of autism and parental bonding are explored on a collision course with death.  I was left saddened for everyone involved and felt there were no true winners.

If you’re looking for a book that packs a punch, pulls you in and makes you think long after you are done, then Blame is your book. Five stars from me and a reminder when it’s released.  In the meantime, check out the author’s other books.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review this book.

Faithful

Faithful: A Novel

Alice Hoffman’s newest book will not disappoint her fans.  A meaty read, full of emotion and depth will be hard to put down.

Shelby is driving when a crash on an icy road changes the trajectory of her life. Her best friend lies in a vegetative state and the guilt is to large a burden for her to manage.  Emotionally shot, she withdraws from life.

This is Shelby’s story and it will touch your heart.  You will root for her and wish you could wrap your arms around her, or slap her and say, “Snap out of it!”   But, if you’ve never experienced survivor’s guilt it’s hard to say how you’d handle it differently.

I totally was engrossed in this book and hate that it’s ended.  I say add this to the long summer reading list.  Could be a great rainy day vacation read because you won’t want to put it down.

Strong character development and a story that will allow you to emotionally connect.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an advance copy to read and review. 5 stars for this one.

So Close

So Close

This was a totally enjoyable read.  I found myself so immersed in the plot I often lost track of my surroundings.  I just love when that happens!  If you enjoy a good story you will love this one.  It was well developed around a strong leading character, Amanda who has lots of hardships in her life, yet you are rooting for her from page one.  That girl had spunk!  I was totally connected to her story and didn’t need steamy love scenes every other page to fill in dull spaces, as there were none.  I didn’t find myself skimming past any of it and hated that it ended.

We meet Amanda in the beginning working at a hotel.  We follow her through the book as she lands a job for an up and coming politician, Tom.  Lindsey, the wife of the candidate is another well developed character whose story line keeps you turning those pages.  The relationship these ladies forge drives the plot in many sections.  I felt close to both ladies and the many layers of plot resulting from this friendship were both heartbreaking and uplifting.  There were portions I laughed through and others I cried. The true gift of this book for me was the emotional connection to Amanda.

I hope for a second book that will continue her journey.  This book is out early June and is available for preorder now.  Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review the book.  I highly recommend it for your next women’s fiction summer read.  Just in time for your first trip to the beach! I’d love to hear your thoughts if you read it.   Join me on Facebook to discuss at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1557277424574656/?ref=bookmarks