Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Million Little Things (Mischief Bay #3) by Susan Mallery

A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

BOOK DESCRIPTION: 
From the bestselling author of The Girls of Mischief Bay and The Friends We Keep comes a twisty tale of family dynamics that explores what can go terribly, hysterically wrong when the line between friendship and family blurs 
Zoe Saldivar is more than just single-she's ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it's up to her to stop living in isolation.Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated-her first new friend is Jen's widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen's brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe's own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam's flustered, Jen's annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think "alone" doesn't sound so bad, after all.Friendship isn't just one thing-it's a million little things, and no one writes them with more heart and humor than book club sensation Susan Mallery! 


4.5 Stars

A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

I don’t usually like books A with more than one story-line going on at a time, usually I only like this if the characters are secondary and it doesn’t impact the main story at all. However, Ms Mallery is a deft hand at using this writing device and with this book it was used to a very good advantage. The three women we meet will all take center stage, so we can look at it as if this book is three separate stories -it isn’t though, since all three women are either related or best of friends.

Three separate women -Zoe, Pam, and Jen - an older woman (Pam) and her issues with widowhood, her son, and her daughter; a younger mother (Jen) who must come to terms with her toddler son who won’t speak. Not can’t but won’t. And Zoe who I think of as the main character because we meet her first and who really will have some big problems to iron out, as we will see later in this book. 

I loved this book - it is all about very strong women and how they cope with what seems like insurmountable problems, they cope with romance in their lives, sexual issues, altering ones’ outlook on life, relationship issues, child rearing and birth issues as well as many smaller problems along the way.

The self-growth of each of these women and the paths they had to take to realize their true worth, was well worth the time I took to read this novel. This is way more than a romance novel-it is a romance inside of a women’s lit novel and is well worth the ride. Except for one interesting scene late in this book, there is no sex, not even with Zoe and Steven who are having the ‘romance’. This was surprising to me, but in a happy way. 

This book was a joy to read - I am not always happy with Ms Mallery’s writing, but this one was wonderful. If there was one issue I had it was a problem I had with Zoe’s character later in the book and the fact that the author seemed to use ‘beating a dead horse’ as a plot device and it did nothing to move the story along.

*ARC supplied by publisher.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko by [Lee, Min Jin]

"BOOK DESCRIPTION:
 A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of A Fine Balance and Cutting for Stone.
Profoundly moving and gracefully told, PACHINKO follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life. 
So begins a sweeping saga of exceptional people in exile from a homeland they never knew and caught in the indifferent arc of history. In Japan, Sunja's family members endure harsh discrimination, catastrophes, and poverty, yet they also encounter great joy as they pursue their passions and rise to meet the challenges this new home presents. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, they are bound together by deep roots as their family faces enduring questions of faith, family, and identity."


Pachinko by 
I loved this novel.  I was a little daunted to find that it ran to almost 500 pages and I found myself so enraptured by this saga that I finished it in a day (I came out bleary eyed, but I did it)!

 I am not normally a fan of anything that has to do with relatively modern history (I was a toddler during the Korean War, but still) and even family sagas usually leave me a little daunted -but once I picked up this book I couldn’t put it down. This book made it effortless for me to actually learn something and to see it from these peoples’ perspectives was just emotionally both draining and uplifting.

This book was emotionally draining, a revelation, intelligent, not ‘in your face’ religious, educational, romantic ( sort of), filled with love and was written in such a way that I could actually see pictures in my mind of what the characters looked like.  I don’t think I have had a book fascinate me in such a long time.

I concur with many reviewers that the style of the book changed as you neared the conclusion -but it was simple for me to see why and I appreciate that the author took the time to make these distinctions. We went from one changing generation to another and when the author hit the 60’s and 70’s she made sure to change the tone for the younger generation to show these changes in the world -the sexual revolution, a stronger women’s liberation, a country coming back into its own etc.

I highly recommend this book to those who like family saga’s, 20th century history and high drama books.


*ARC supplied by publisher. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we'd have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren's 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn't necessary.
Except Tom just can't seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that's before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.


I read for pleasure, entertainment and I read to escape real life.  I thought this book would bring me pleasure, be entertaining and allow me to escape - it did not.

Perhaps I am just too old for this kind of smarmy, childish narration  or too unintelligent to understand the  scientific language used (I needed to look up just a few too many words!!!) but since I do love my time-travel fantasy books I slogged on for as long as I  could. 

Unfortunately I just ended up on the narrator expounding on his sex life and just gave it up. I have nothing against reading about sex -heck I read romances -but this just seemed to me to be more of a 'little boy braggin' than a good attempt at adding some romance.

DNF>>>>> I have better things to do with my life and better things to read.

*ARC supplied by publisher.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cowboy Boots for Christmas by Carolyn Brown



Cowboy Boots for Christmas: (Cowboy not included) (Burnt Boot, Texas Book 1) by [Brown, Carolyn]

Book 1 in the Burnt Boot, Texas Series'Tis the season for...FeastingFrolickingAnd...Feuding?All he wants for Christmas is peace and quiet...After two tours in Afghanistan, retired Army sniper Finn O'Donnell believes his new ranch outside the sleepy little town of Burnt Boot, Texas, is the perfect place for an undisturbed holiday season. But before he can settle in, an old friend shows up looking for protection and a place where nobody knows her name.
But that's going to take a miracle...Callie Brewster must relocate to protect her young nephew, Martin, and the only person she trusts is her old Army friend, Finn. Burnt Boot seems like the perfect place to be anonymous, but it turns out a small town with big drama is no place to hide...


I don't usually review older books, just ARC's and very new books...well that and books I'm really impressed with.  However, I just couldn't keep  my opinion of this one to myself!

I usually love or at least like very much Carolyn's books, but this one? Ugh. They are generally sweet and funny and with a good story.

I tried; I really, really tried and I just could NOT finish this book. I hate having to give up before I even get half-way through, but this book just took the cake.

For starters Callie and her nephew Martin are in the Witness Protection program -yet when she  and the 'hero' Finn go into town they announce  her *real* name to a store owner. And just about everyone else to boot. Reality check please.  Uhmmm no, just no.

Finn the hero is salivating, drooling, slobbering over Callie and it gets a bit on the icky side.  However Callie is doing the same thing will Finn, double ick.

Martin, Callies nephew who has seen a murder and who is eleven (I think) is just the epitome of a Stepford/perfect child that I just wanted to scrub my brain.  I don't believe this one little bit -it's possible for a child to be perfect, sure, but it sure doesn't make for enthralling reading.  (of course Ms Brown has a habit of making the kids in her books uber cutsie)

And let us not even talk about all the animals that seem to show up in the first 24/48 hours. 

  There is so much going on yet no time passes at all.

 I can't suspend my disbelief this much and keep my sanity intact. Therefore I am saving my sanity and not even going to attempt to finish this.  I should have spent my money on something else, anything else.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Turn by Kim Harrison

The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death

OVERVIEW:
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce you to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan's world as they've never seen it before!
Can science save us when all else fails?
Trisk and her hated rival, Kal, have the same goal: save their species from extinction.
But death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government's new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague rises, giving the paranormal species the choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.
Under accusations of scientific misconduct, Trisk and Kal flee across a plague-torn United States to convince leaders of the major paranormal species to save their supposedly weaker kin, but not everyone thinks humanity should be saved, and Trisk fights the prejudices of two societies to prove that not only does humanity have something to offer, but that long-accepted beliefs against women, dark magic, and humanity itself can turn to understanding; that when people are at their worst that the best show their true strength, and that love can hold the world together as a new balance is found



REVIEW:
I'm not sure if I would tag this book as a stand alone or not-yes it is a prequel to a series, but I haven't read the series in years and haven't even bought the last two books and I sort of enjoyed this read.

Why didn't I totally love it you may ask...because the main character's are truly horrible people. Especially Trent. Yes, it is because of their Elven heritage, but still. It does explain so much when Trent shows up in Rachel's world and I never could warm up to him (he is a huge penis head). Although I understand that he and Rachel become a couple towards the end of the series.

What I did love about this book was the last half -the first half was just so much wash-rinse-repeat...the same thing over and over. I wanted the author to stop beating that dead horse and get on with an actual story -which does happen in the second half (thank the Gods and Goddesses!)

I loved learning (again in the end) how the other's came 'out' to the human world and why. And I love that this is encouraging me to re-read the series and to possibly buy the last two books that I am missing!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Copycat - Kimberla Lawson Roby



Book Description:
Befriending Traci Calloway Cole is the best thing Simone Phillips has ever done. Traci is the kind of woman Simone wants to be-in every way possible. She begins copying her role model. Not because she wants to be Traci. She just wants to be exactly like Traci.
Traci doesn't worry, though. She knows Simone doesn't mean any harm and that her mimicry is only sincere admiration. Until she discovers how far Simone's obsession has gone.
It is then that Simone's entire world begins unraveling, and dreadful secrets from her past are exposed with no warning. Secrets that she'll do almost anything to protect.


Review:

I wish I had done some research on this author before I accepted it from the publisher for reviewing.  I would have known then that it most likely wasn't the books for me, but I still would have kept an open mind.  However, since I did agree to review it here goes:

I will not be doing a lot of recapping since you can get the gist of the story by reading the synopsis.  What I will tell you is that the story, while an interesting concept, was filled with unlikable characters and not just the protagonist.  Traci was unlikable to me too and had a very unusual way of looking at the world around her.  The naivete she showed when she ignored Simones copying of her, was just another word for stalking and she should have seen that.    Traci is supposed to be a smart, multi book published author yet she doesn’t know that her friend is turning into her twin sister???  I had to stretch myself a little way too far to give any credulity to this story.

That Simone can get away with putting off her fiancé like that was just another thing that stretch my disbelief.

Further, I am not a fan of fiction especially women’s fiction, that goes as far as this book did to add Christian beliefs, bible verses etc.

This would have been all been a   more believable read had it been for the young adult crowd.

To add to this: the writing was very flat, the characters are one dimensional and there was no growth of the character’s whatsoever.


*ARC supplied by publisher.      

Thursday, January 26, 2017

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Book Description:
 Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together 


Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband.  
Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one. 

Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.






REVIEW:

Have you ever read a book that you just knew right from the very beginning you would be best of friends with these characters if they were only real? This is how I felt once I was about 25% done with this book.

This book was almost everything I love in a book - it was filled with realistic characters, realistic situations, some happiness (at the end) and a lot of sad...the one thing, and an important thing, it was lacking was humor. Not that there was totally none, but it just wasn't there in big enough doses to make this a 5-star rated book. But this was definitely a 4.5 star book.

I read to escape the realities and traumas of everyday life -this book just left me dazed through most of it. The love of the sisters for each other was plain to see (again, once you have read about 25 to 50% of the book) …but the heart-aches just took a bit too much out of me and out of this book.

I did love how things did take a turn with the sister’s and their feelings and actions towards each other developed.

Getting to the 'happily-ever-after’ was almost too painful to get to and didn't last long enough to satisfy me or to make up for all the other trauma. I am glad that each did find their HEA even if one was a little iffy and not very traditional in the romantic novel sense.

Seeing two such smart women mess up their lives for one worthless man and one that was less than forthcoming, was astounding to me.

What is even odder for me is even with all that said, I could not put this book down -even though it was a painful journey through the sister’s lives, it was fascinating and so well written that I can look beyond my own petty problems with this book and see that the author was trying to tell us - that we as women are so much more than just being a shadow to the men in our lives. We shouldn't forgive lying out of hand, we need to have a spine...and I'm happy to say that each of these women did learn this lesson. It was a difficult and rocky path, but they learned.

Most of Ms Higgins other novels may have the sadness, frustrations, and problems of everyday life that this one had, but they also usually include a good dose of humor. Yes, the humor is mostly the self-depreciating kind, but it is humor nonetheless. You need to really look closely to see the humor interspersed with the pain in this book.

It really was a satisfying read for me, even with the issues I had with it.

*ARC supplied by publisher