Will You Won't You Want Me?
April 19, 2016
Publisher via BookSparks
When Marjorie "Madgesty" Plum's life falls apart, she learns it's time to quit being a queen and time to start living. Marjorie Plum isn't your average washed up prom queen. After all, her New York City prep school was too cool for a royal court. Yet, ten years after high school graduation, she is undeniably stuck in the past and aching for that metaphorical tiara.When her life takes an unexpected turn, she is forced to start over, moving in to a tiny box of an apartment in Brooklyn with a musician roommate who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama. Desperate to pay rent, she starts tutoring a precocious 11-year-old girl-who becomes the unknowing Ghost of Marjorie Past, beginning a surprise-filled journey towards adulthood, where she learns about herself from the most unlikely sources: a rekindled childhood love, a grumpy (but strangely adorable) new boss, even her tutee.Ultimately, though, she is the one who must decide: who is the real Marjorie Plum?
Hopefully you didn't just look at my star rating and move on, because this book does have a lot to offer, for the right reader. Unfortunately that reader just wasn't me. I have a funny relationship with books about twenty-somethings still trying to find themselves. More often than not I'm not a big fan (hated The Interestings), but once in a while I find a gem (The Ramblers). This book fell somewhere in between, but not for any other reason than I just couldn't relate to the main character, and really didn't like her. The writing was good, the plot was engaging enough (it's a common theme, but it was well executed), and the book flowed fairly well (perhaps just a bit sluggish in spots). The one huge bright spot within the book was the character of "Belly", who was wonderfully drawn. The ending was satisfying and not too rushed or forced. In other words, this is a fine book if you like stories about millenials trying to find their place in the world.
Face it, I was just too darn old to enjoy this book....sigh. If you liked either of the aforementioned books, or enjoy stories about a character trying to make his/her way, then I think this would be an enjoyable read for you to pick up. There are many, many great reviews on Goodreads about this one, so don't take my word for it, do some research before you decide.
Thanks to BookSparks for a copy of this book to review. As always, my opinions are my own.
Don't You Cry
May 17, 2016
NetGalley and Publisher via BookSparks
In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she's the person Quinn thought she knew.
Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.
As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.
This is the third book by Mary Kubica, and she is one of my go-to authors. I have read and been riveted by her other two novels (The Good Girl and Pretty Baby), and this one is no exception. The pacing, wording, and story telling of all of these novels is just superb! This one is two separate stories told concurrently, and you spend the whole book knowing they are going to connect, and trying to figure out how! As always, Ms. Kubica is a master at the big climactic reveal, and they are always flat out fantastic! Even though the ending is the wow factor, the two stories were wonderfully told, and the characters so well done, that I almost didn't want to reach the end, and not keep these characters going for a while longer. My only tiny negative was that I felt the ending was maybe a bit too rushed. There were a couple of minor things that were never resolved that are still bothering me days after finishing the book (I'm so worried about what happens to Alex's father!).
Once again, Mary Kubica does not disappoint. If you liked her other books, you will be a fan of this one as well. If you have not read her others, please do. The Good Girl is one of my top 5 books of all time (most jaw dropping ending EVER!).
This book has been picked as one of the BookSparks summer reading challenge books for the month of May. You can follow along with the challenge by visiting their facebook page.
A Girl Like You
She Writes Press
April 19, 2016
Paperback and Ebook
Publisher via BookSparks
Henrietta Von Harmon works as a 26 girl at a corner bar on Chicago's northwest side. It s 1935, but things still aren't looking up since the big crash and her father's subsequent suicide, leaving Henrietta to care for her antagonistic mother and younger siblings. Henrietta is eventually persuaded to take a job as a taxi dancer at a local dance hall and just when she's beginning to enjoy herself, the floor matron turns up dead. When aloof Inspector Clive Howard appears on the scene, Henrietta agrees to go undercover for him and is plunged into Chicago s grittier underworld. Meanwhile, she's still busy playing mother hen to her younger siblings, as well as to pesky neighborhood boy Stanley, who believes himself in love with her and keeps popping up in the most unlikely places, determined to keep Henrietta safe even from the Inspector, if need be. Despite his efforts, however, and his penchant for messing up the Inspector's investigation, the lovely Henrietta and the impenetrable Inspector find themselves drawn to each other in most unsuitable ways.
An enjoyable read overall, but not without some things I could have done without. First, the cover is lovely. I loved the old-timey sepia tinted picture. I loved the mystery aspect of the story. It was fun to try and figure it out given the various clues along the way. I thought the author captured the feel of the times, and was interested in learning about the show halls that were plentiful during that era. The characters were interesting, and I enjoyed their relationships, except the one between Henrietta and Inspector Howard. Which brings me to what I didn't particularly like about this book. I'm not big on insta-love, or when an author forces a romance upon the reader. I wasn't crazy about the relationship between the two main characters, and felt like I was just rolling my eyes and wanting to get back to the mystery during their romance phases.
A good book with a interesting plot, and a great time period to get engrossed in. If you like romance along with your mysteries, you will enjoy this more than if you do not.
Thanks to BookSparks It's Raining Books spring promotion for the chance to read and review this title. As always, my opinions are my own.
No One Knows
Simon and Schuster
March 22, 2016
Publisher via She Reads
The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?
In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.
I gave this 4.5 stars. It's a hard book to review because I can't give anything away, but I'm going to do my best to convince you that this is worth the read. First of all, trust me when I say it won't take you long to read. Not because it is a short book, but because it is "unputdownable"!! I can consume an average book in about 3-4 days, and I read this one in a bit more than 24 hours. I could not wait to find out how it was going to play out. This book is being compared to those other G books, which may have prevented me from even reading it (just stop with the comparisons publishers....please?), but thankfully it was picked as one of the She Reads books of spring, so I headed into it with lots of eye rolling at yet another one of "those" books. In all honesty, I thought of the three this may have been my favorite (definitely better than one, but I'm not going to name names). As I mentioned, it's really hard to do much of a review without spoilers, but there are a whole host of characters for you to love or hate. The pace is quick, the narrative goes back and forth in time with various characters, but is not confusing to follow. What is confusing is what happened to Josh? Trust me, keep turning those pages to find out! The only slight downside for me was the ending. I wasn't completely satisfied with it. In a twitter chat with the author we were given the chance to read the original ending, which I liked a bit better, but still had some reservations. I may be in the minority in my opinion, I need to chat with others who have finished it.
I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of psychological thrillers (no comparisons needed). Be warned that if you don't set aside a block of time to read it, you may not get anything else done.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review (thank you, thank you!). As always, my opinions are my own.
April 26, 2016
Publisher via BookSparks
Not quite knocked up... Like everyone in New York media, editor Liz Buckley runs on cupcakes, caffeine and cocktails. But at thirty-one, she's plateaued at Paddy Cakes, a glossy baby magazine that flogs thousand-dollar strollers to entitled, hypercompetitive spawn-havers. Liz has spent years working a gazillion hours a week picking up the slack for coworkers with kids, and she's tired of it. So one day when her stress-related nausea is mistaken for morning sickness by her bosses--boom! Liz is promoted to the mommy track. She decides to run with it and plans to use her paid time off to figure out her life: work, love and otherwise. It'll be her "meternity" leave. By day, Liz rocks a foam-rubber belly under fab maternity outfits. By night, she dumps the bump for karaoke nights and boozy dinners out. But how long can she keep up her charade...and hide it from the guy who might just be The One? As her "due date" approaches, Liz is exhausted--and exhilarated--by the ruse, the guilt and the feelings brought on by a totally fictional belly-tenant...about happiness, success, family and the nature of love.
Whoa.....imagine my surprise when I went to get the amazon link-up for this book and saw the vitriol it has inspired! It's interesting to note that when I looked it up on Goodreads (a place where it's more common to have actually read the book before reviewing it), there seemed to be a more even distribution of opinions. Where do I fall? I liked this book! The number one fact that I was aware of when reading it is that it is a work of FICTION (come on, all of you screaming on amazon, you do know that means it's made up right?). Maybe because I'm old, and maybe because I worked for 16 years before having kids, and maybe because I did not re-enter the workplace until said kids were in school, but I GOT where this protagonist was coming from. I thought the story flowed well, I was dying to find out what was going to happen once the "baby" came, and it was a pleasure to read. I loved the main character, who just got caught up in a situation she didn't know how to get out of. I never got the feeling that Liz thought those on maternity leave had it easy, she just wanted time to work on her life goals, and saw this as a way out of her overwhelming work responsibilities. I'm not going to say that it was a literary masterpiece, but with all the horrid responses this poor author is getting, I almost want to give it 5 stars just to up the ratings.
A cute book, but you may want to read through some reviews to see if it's for you. My advice is to read it as a work of fiction, and lighten up 🙂
Thanks to BookSparks books of spring for allowing me to review this. As always my opinions are my own.
May 3, 2016
Publisher via Penguin First to Read
A wry and astute debut about a young Manhattanite whose embezzlement scam turns her into an unlikely advocate for the leagues of overeducated and underpaid assistants across the city. Tina Fontana is the hapless but brazen thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making his reservations for restaurants she’d never get into on her own and pouring his drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, she’s bored, broke, and just a bit over it all. When a technical error with Robert’s travel-and-expenses report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she struggles with the decision: She’s always played by the rules. But it’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation—and for her it would be a life-changer . . . The Assistants speaks directly to a new generation of women who feel stuck and unable to get ahead playing by the rules. It will appeal to all of those who have ever asked themselves, “How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?”
This is one of those books that makes you question your morals when you start rooting for the characters to succeed. The main character and her associates all work as underpaid assistants to some very powerful, very rich folks in the corporate sector. They are all educated women who also have a mountain of student loan debt in common. When the main character ends up with a check (by mistake) that will get her out of debt, she ultimately uses it to pay off her student debt. A funny thing happens while you are waiting for her to get caught, you may find yourself sucked into the story and surprised by the fallout from her escapade. I'm definitely not going to say this was a deep, literary masterpiece, but I loved Tina (even with her sketchy moral code). The ending was very satisfying and not what I expected.
While this may push some buttons for those who always want to "do the right thing", it's an enjoyable read that just may have you rooting for "the bad girl" to triumph in the end!
I was given the chance to read an advanced copy of this book through the Penguin First to Read program. As always, my opinions are my own. This book has also been chosen by BookSparks as one of their books of May for the SRC2016 (Summer Reading Challenge).
The Goodbye Year
April 12, 2016
Publisher via BookSparks
As a handful of parents and their children face the all-important senior year of high school an intense time of change for the kids and their soon-to-be-empty-nest parents, the cracks beneath the surface of their seemingly perfect lives begin to appear."
So interesting that this book would come to me during my last child's senior year of high school! The book follows five families in an upscale community who have children leaving the nest at the end of the school calendar year. It's told from the viewpoint of both the students and the parents, and is a well crafted, well written, hard to put down inside look at the goings on that may not be visible on the surface of these characters' lives. Tensions run high, parent-child relationships hang in the balance, marriages are not what they seem, and their is the ever present undercurrent of what will happen to all of them next year? I thought this book was great, although I am in the minority about "empty nest syndrome". I can't wait for my daughter to head off to college (the high school years with both of my daughters have not been my favorite). No matter what stage of your life you are in, there is likely a character in this novel that you will/can relate to. Really good story encompassing many real life events, and the angst they can cause. I thought the ending wrapped things up nicely without seeming rushed as is the case in many books that I read. Kudos to Ms. Rouda, I have another of her books (In the Mirror) waiting for me on my kindle, and I need to get to it soon!
While I generally don't like to compare books, this one lends itself to calling it a "Big Little Lies" of the high school era.
This book is one of the BookSparks "It's Raining Books" spring selections. My opinions, as always, are my own.
All of Us and Everything
Bantam Dell Publishing Group
Publisher via She Reads
"Life as Augusta Rockwell knows it changes once she unearths a box of old letters written by her estranged husband, Nick Flemming, the love of her life and the father her children have never known. She's told her daughters that their absent father was actually a spy, which is why he couldn't be part of their lives. But the letters reveal that Nick has secretly been keeping tabs on his family all these years from afar --a discovery that while shocking, has the potential to mend the fractured and wayward lives of the three Rockwell sisters"--
3.5/5 stars My software does not have the ability for 1/2 stars (ahem....neither does Goodreads, grrr), but I felt that this book fell somewhere in the middle of I liked it and I really liked it. Here is what I really liked about this story. It was a theme that hasn't been done over and over, something that I appreciate with the number of books that I read. The characters were quirky and different, and the family dynamics were spot on in so many places. I adored the fifteen year old daughter, she stole the book for me and I thought she was developed perfectly! This book had a lot of hidden humor even though the subject matter was not necessarily geared toward a funny story. The parts that were not quite as strong for me were that I wasn't as enamored with the sisters, and I couldn't relate much with the mother. They all did some rather strange things (particularly the mother), that I didn't get the reasoning behind. I'm not sure if it was just me, or if these characters were not developed enough for me to get them? Parts of the epilogue were satisfying, but other parts were unnecessary since those characters were not very prevalent in the story as to merit a mention.
Overall, a cute quirky story about an unconventional family, highlighted by some great family dynamics. If I had been more invested in all the family members, this surely would have garnered an additional star.
Thanks to the publisher, who provided me a copy of this book (which is one of the She Reads books of spring). My opinions are my own.
Who Do You Love
Simon and Schuster
August 11, 2015
Publisher via She Reads
From the “hilarious, heartbreaking, and insightful” (The Miami Herald) bestselling author Jennifer Weiner comes a sweeping, modern day fairy tale about first romance and lasting love. Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to the emergency room and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again. Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation. Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they’ve been running toward each other all along. With honesty, wit, and clear-eyed observations about men and women, love and fate, and the truth about happy endings, Jennifer Weiner delivers two of her most memorable characters, and a love story you’ll never forget.
I'm a big fan of Ms. Weiner's books. Her novel All Fall Down was one of my favorites of the summer of 2014. This story started out fantastic, and reminded me of why this is a go-to author for me. But I was disappointed with the last half of this book. When Rachel and Andy were young, I thought their respective stories were fascinating, and I was completely caught up in their lives. After they grew up (and after the first breakup), their stories paled for me, until I found it pretty hard to believe why they were still so fixated on each other. The writing was classic Jennifer Weiner, and I always enjoy her writing style. I thought the characters were well done, even if I wasn't on board with where they went with regards to each other. I was bothered by the reasons behind why they broke up, and felt that these were issues that would always be present (particularly for Rachel), so why would they not be problematic later on in life? It's hard for me to articulate this well without giving away the plot, so I'm going to tell you to give this a try and see if you agree, or if I'm off base in my pessimistic attitude about soul mates 🙂
A big thumbs up for the beginning of this book, and a so-so second half make this a novel worth reading. Why?.......because it's Jennifer Weiner, and even her so-so books are worth the read every time.
This book is one of the She Reads books of spring. Thank you to the publisher for providing me a copy of this book. As always, my opinions are my own.
April 19, 2016
All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?
Convicted of a crime she didn t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.
But Allie's return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.
As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret one that holds the key to Allie s freedom.
This psychological thriller had a lot of things I like within its pages.....family saga, mother-daughter bonding, drug use in sports, wrongful accusations, and a woman trying to get her life back. These are among the many themes touched on. The book is told in both the present, and the past, by four main characters. Allie has been in prison for ten years for a crime she did not commit. Her sister Emma has been caring for her daughter Caroline (who was 5 when Allie went to prison). The townspeople are not at all supportive when a convicted killer comes back to town, and neither is the sheriff, who will keep Allie from poking around to find out the real story of what happened that fateful night. Poor Allie is getting slammed from all sides. No one in town wants to hire her, she is not able to poke around in the murder mystery without violating her parole, her sister wants to adopt her daughter, and she dumped her ex boyfriend so he wouldn't have to hang around while she was in prison. Whew.....poor Allie, I was rooting for her all the way! I'm surprised to say that I did figure out who the real killer was quite early on (rarely happens for me), but that did not at all impede my enjoyment in reading how the actual events played out. It started out a bit slow, but once it picked up, it was a complete page turner!
A great who-dunnit story, with a lot of other facets thrown in, make this a wonderful choice for your next read.