Posted in book review

REVIEW: SUNSHINE BEACH, BY WENDY WAX

27767957

 

 

 

As our old friends gather once again to plan another renovation, I was all set to curl up and enjoy the adventures in Sunshine Beach. The characters have tentatively landed a renovation of an old mid-century beach hotel.

I loved reviving old friendships with the characters while they planned the new project. They settle in at Bella Flora, the home Kyra, Maddie’s daughter, now owns, thanks to her son’s father. As usual, Avery is all set with her construction crew; Kyra is ready to film, and eager to do the project independently after the disaster of the Do Over show. A wrinkle in the production had morphed that experience into a reality show.

Nikki has some issues with her boyfriend, FBI agent Joe Giraldi, while her brother Malcolm, the one responsible for all of their financial worries, has reached out to her.

Maddie is still feeling bliss about her new romance with the rock star William Hightower…but insecurities threaten that bliss.

When Maddie’s ex, Steve, shows up and seems ready to make himself at home, they all feel the irritation born from his laziness and his inability to effectively help them.

What will happen to threaten the project? How will a mystery from WWII add conflict? How will they rise above the threats of their former bosses? Can they move beyond the challenges and find gratification once again? A very satisfying new chapter in the life of the characters, and enjoyable to this reader. 4.5 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***

Posted in book review

REVIEW: IF I FORGET YOU, BY THOMAS CHRISTOPHER GREENE

26114427

 

 

 

Twenty-one years after they were driven apart by circumstances beyond their control, two former lovers have a chance encounter on a Manhattan street. What follows is a tense, suspenseful exploration of the many facets of enduring love. Told from altering points of view through time, If I Forget You tells the story of Henry Gold, a poet whose rise from poverty embodies the American dream, and Margot Fuller, the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family, and their unlikely, star-crossed love affair, complete with the secrets they carry when they find each other for the second time.

My Thoughts: The alternating stories of Henry and Margot flipped between the present, with their chance encounter in 2012, to 1991, when the two of them fell in love.

They came from different worlds, and I love this kind of story. So much divided them that the chance of them meeting and connecting at all seems unlikely. And then the serendipitous meeting on the street is another moment in time that could have been fate.

How they were shockingly separated one summer night left indelible marks upon them. One might have expected that one of them would search for the other, their lost love. But each had their own reasons why they couldn’t do that.

Until that day in 2012 when they met on the street. And the pull of their intense connection stirred up feelings that had never left them.

They each have secrets to share, secrets that could bring another rift into their relationship. How will they move beyond the divide? What will ultimately bring them together again?

An engaging story that I could not put down. 5 stars.

cropped again 5***

Posted in Bloggiesta

BLOGGIESTA: FINITO!

unnamed

It’s done!  Finito!  Bloggiesta for Fall 2016 came to a successful close.  Below are my completed tasks.  I hope you will come by…and share your own links.

 

Tasks:

***

Here is a screenshot of the previous blog look.

 

 

img_1138

 

***

Here is the new header….I think this one will stick for a while.

 

 

 

cropped-picmonkey-image-bookworm-push-pin.jpg

 

 

***

Here’s a glimpse of my Bullet Journaling effort:

 

 

bloggiesta-bullet-journal

 

***

Check out my Pinterest Friendly Images Here. (Click!)

***

Finally, I created a new header for my An Interior Journey blog.

 

 

picmonkey-image-ij-in-sept

***

And, to top things off, I created a new blog header for Serendipity!

 

 

picmonkey-image-sept-18

***

Posted in book review

REVIEW: WATCHING EDIE, BY CAMILLA WAY

30531148

 

 

 

 

What is the cost of a lopsided, twisted friendship? When Edie and Heather met during their school days, in a village near London called Fremton, their friendship seemed to come out of one girl’s need for the other. Even early on, it could be said that one of them needed the other more. One of them would do anything for the friendship. In retrospect, we could also conclude that they each needed the other, but in different proportions and for different reasons.

Divided into segments of Before and After, our narrators’ voices walk us through the history of the two, from the early moments to the tragedy that would change everything.

Edie’s voice reveals the “after” part, as she struggles to make up for past mistakes, and to provide a home in London for her new baby. But early days of motherhood are overwhelming, and a visitor from the past steps in to help.

Meanwhile, we slowly come to see the “before” segments of the lives of these two women through Heather’s eyes. She was the one that others overlooked, the one some even made fun of…but when Edie shined her glance upon her, Heather felt the glow of true friendship.

Could these two unlikely friends help each other? Could they move beyond the strange nature of one’s dependency on the other? Why does Edie feel that Heather is stalking her? How did what happened one fateful night in the past change everything about both their lives in the present?

Throughout Watching Edie, I felt an eerie, even creepy vibe as more of the story unfolded, and until the final reveal, I had an inkling about what might have gone down, but was stunned by what had actually happened. How it all came out to the reader was in a moment of intensity that could have ended very badly.

Each character had an “unreliable narrator” feel to her presentation, and I had a tendency to grant more credence to Edie’s perspective…and then felt badly when I realized how wrong I was. A gripping story that kept me glued to the pages, this book earned 5 stars.

cropped again 5***

Posted in book review

REVIEW: IT ENDS WITH US, BY COLLEEN HOOVER

27362503

 

 

After her father’s funeral in Plethora, Maine, Lily Bloom is back in Boston, sitting on the rooftop of a neighboring building, pondering the events of the day…and her life.

She realizes that her father, the beloved mayor of the town they lived in, was quite different behind closed doors. So in her eulogy, the audience expected something beautiful, instead of what she gave. She stopped herself from saying five good things about him because she couldn’t think of a single one. He was an abusive husband, and her mother did not leave him.

Now as she sits on the roof, fearing how her mother’s reaction will come down on her, she is distracted by someone else on the roof. A young man, quite handsome, who is kicking and throwing the furniture around, in a rage. They start a conversation which takes up a stretch of time, in which they share “naked truths” with one another. He talks about what made him so angry. A child had died. It turns out he is a resident in neurosurgery at Massachusetts General. His name is Ryle Kincaid.

And then they don’t see each other again for a year.

Narrated in Lily’s first person voice, It Ends with Us brought us fully into her world: her childhood trauma, the dreams she had of a different kind of life, and how she met and fell in love with the homeless boy living in the abandoned house behind their backyard. Lily’s relationship with Atlas Corrigan would fill her thoughts in those days. Her Ellen Diaries, inspired by the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Lily’s feelings of a strong connection to her, reveal how those “written conversations” might have possibly kept her intact emotionally during some tough times. In the diaries, she also describes the unfolding friendship with Atlas. And how it all fell apart.

How do Ryle and Lily reconnect? Does she see Atlas again, and under what circumstances? Who is the rich young woman who befriends her just as she is opening her own flower shop? What happens that triggers a series of events that will derail lives? How does Lily eventually make the right decision for herself?

Sometimes a person has to make a choice that feels wrong when it is the only right thing to do. A beautifully sad and inspirational story about breaking cycles, making hard choices, and loving the one you are meant to be with, even when someone else is also the love of your life. I cried at the end of this book, even as I applauded the course of events that unfolded.

Rating:  cropped again 5

Posted in monthly wrap-up

WRAPPING UP AUGUST

June 3 - rearranged spaces - 1

August seemed to fly by…literally.  But the month brought so many wonderful books to read and review, that I had a difficult time picking only one favorite.  Sometimes I present a tie, but this month, I would have had to choose three or four favorites.  Or even more.

I’m linking up with Kathryn at Book Date.  Check in with a few other bloggers to see what they enjoyed in August.  And have a fabulous September!

My titles (below) link to my reviews:

 

AUGUST 2016:

1. Behind Closed Doors (e-book), by B. A. Paris – 293 pages – (thriller/suspense) – 8/24/16

2. Blood Defense (e-book), by Marcia Clark – 389 pages – (legal thriller) – 8/10/16

3.  Book That Matters Most, The (e-book), by Ann Hood – 358 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/27/16

4. Couple Next Door, The (e-book), by Shari Lapena – 325 pages – (suspense thriller) – 8/13/16 – (NetGalley – 8/23)

5.  Excellent Lombards, The (e-book), by Jane Hamilton – 274 pages- (coming-of-age) – 8/23/16

6.  Girls of August, The (e-book), by Anne Rivers Siddons – 222 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/28/16

7. Girl You Lost, The (e-book), by Kathryn Croft – 318 pages – (thriller) – 8/3/16

8.  Leave Me (e-book), by Gayle Forman – 352 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/29/16 – (NetGalley – 9/6)

9. Melody Lingers On, The (e-book), by Mary Higgins Clark – 273 pages – (thriller) – 8/2/16

10. Mystic Summer (e-book), by Hannah McKinnon – 304 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/19/16

11. Siracusa (e-book), by Delia Ephron – 285 pages – (literary fiction) – 8/18/16

12. Truly Madly Guilty (e-book), by Liane Moriarty – 416 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/12/16

13. Truth-Teller’s Lie, The (e-book), by Sophie Hannah – 363 pages – (suspense thriller) – 8/15/16

***

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN AUGUST 2016:     13

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN AUGUST 2016:     4,172

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                          108

FAVORITE FICTION BOOK IN AUGUST 2016: Leave Me, by Gayle Forman

***

Posted in book review

REVIEW: LEAVE ME, BY GAYLE FORMAN

leave me cover

 

 

 

Maribeth Klein was a multi-tasker. She had to be, juggling her very fast-paced job as an editor at a Manhattan celebrity lifestyle magazine, with her wife and mothering duties. The twins, Liv and Oliver, were four years old, and their preschool demanded a lot of her attention, too.

So when the pain hit Maribeth on a busy afternoon, she rationalized it away. It had to be something like indigestion, or the anger she was feeling toward her husband over something-or-other, or some other possibility. If she hadn’t already had an appointment with her OB/GYN for a mammogram, who knows what would have happened? They sent her to the ER, where she was told she’d had a heart attack and would need a stent. But somehow, that procedure failed, due to a nick in an artery, and she had to have a double bypass.

Home again a few days later, Maribeth is struggling. Those who were supposed to help her are somehow failing in that task, and her frustration leads to an action she could never have imagined she would take. She packed, withdrew cash from her account, the one with her inheritance in it, and took a train. To Pittsburgh.

Her anonymous journey and life in a strange city, in the subsequent weeks, would become a time of reflection, trying out her wings, and exploring the past. And trying to find her birth mother, because Maribeth had been adopted. Suddenly the need for some genetic history seemed necessary.

I loved Leave Me, which I could not put down. When I enjoy the characters in a novel, with their flaws, secrets, and unexplained behaviors, I find it almost impossible to stop reading. At first I decided I didn’t like Maribeth’s husband Jason. He had, after all, not been available to her, physically or emotionally. And then there was that time when they were first together, before they married, when he had just moved across the country. His poor communication skills could easily be misunderstood, of course, so what must happen to make it possible for the two of them to reconnect? And how will Maribeth’s somewhat detached relationship with her former best friend and boss, Elizabeth, start to heal?

I thoroughly enjoyed how someone like Maribeth, used to a life full of lists and technology, found a way to live a less pressured life, with no Smart Phone, laptop, or even a car. Using the library for its computers, and accepting the “kindness of strangers,” like her next door neighbors, became her new normal. A delightfully incredible read with a rating of:

cropped again 5

***My e-ARC came to me from the publishers via NetGalley.

Posted in musing mondays

LET’S CURL UP & MUSE ABOUT BOOKS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s Monday, so let’s muse about bookish things, along with Jenn, at Books and a Beat.

Check out these topics:

 

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Which book do you wish you’d written, yourself?

 

***

Currently, I’m reading the NetGalley e-ARC, Leave Me, by Gayle Forman (Release date – 9/6).  Loving it!  When I feel connected to one character and dislike several of the others, I know that I’m in for a delightful journey.

 

 

leave me cover

Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.

With bighearted characters–husbands, wives, friends, and lovers–who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing the fears we’re all running from. Gayle Forman is a dazzling observer of human nature. She has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head on and asks, what happens when a grown woman runs away from home?

***

I have been eagerly awaiting this book, and now that I have it, I am so pleased that it wrapped itself around me and held on, making it a difficult book to put down.

What are you reading or pining for today?

***

Posted in book review

REVIEW: THE EXCELLENT LOMBARDS, BY JANE HAMILTON

28430378

 

 

 

Mary Frances (Frankie) Lombard and her older brother William have grown up with a deep love and sense of connection to the Lombard farm. Despite knowing that the partnership between their father and his cousin Sherwood might cause problems with their future legacy, the hope for that future remains strong.

The Excellent Lombards is a coming-of-age tale set in Wisconsin that features young Frankie, and from her perspective, we learn what growing up under these circumstances has instilled in her. We come to understand how she might feel threatened by interlopers like distant cousin Philip, and the ominous presence of his aunt, May Hill, who has some ownership in the property as well.

From her pre-adolescent self to young adulthood, we see how she grows and changes, and observe the various influences on her young life.

The sense of competition flourishes among the various relatives, and at times, it seems like a good thing. Until it isn’t.

How will Frankie eventually resolve her plight? What will her future hold for her, and will she be able to merge her various passions and make a life for herself?

The story unfolded slowly, revealing the emotions, the connections, and what life looked like on a farm that might, eventually, be sold off in order to make way for subdivisions. A changing landscape that mimics how the world in the 21st Century has built upon past versions of a country, a nation.  Rating:

ratings worms 4-cropped

***