Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mr. & Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Mr. & Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Bood Description:

The year is 1969. Dick Nixon was just sworn in as the thirty-seventh President of the United States. Neil Armstrong just took one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind. And notable Palm Springs socialite Maxine Simmons just found out that her husband is leaving her for his twenty-two-year-old secretary. 
After a public meltdown at Thanksgiving, Maxine finds herself not only divorced, but exiled to Scottsdale, Arizona. However, these desert boondocks will not be her end―only her Elba. The former beauty queen sets her eyes on a new crown: that of the Mrs. American Pie pageant, awarded to the nation’s best wife and mother. 
Maxine only has one problem: to win the crown she’ll need to find―or build―a family of her own. 

I must start this review by saying that I'm sorry I ever started this book. Why? Because I started it just before bed and I couldn't stop reading it. It just sucked me in and held me rapt.

I loved the era that this book was set in and even though I was only 12-13 years old, I recognized everything that was spoken about. I spent may a good 5 minutes while reading just reminiscing. 

Now the story itself -it was unique, it was sarcasm at its best it was even satire---but most of all at the center of it all this book was filled with heart---you just have to dig for it! LOL!

While at times there was just a little too much detail and arguing over things that shouldn't have mattered-it ended up being the perfect way to tell this story.

This story was told in three different voices Maxine the main character, Robert, and Charles ( a youngster) and the voices are complimentary.

As I was reading this book for some reason the book Auntie Mame: An Irreverent EscapadeAuntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade kept coming to my mind and if you like big splashy women like Mame who have a huge heart -I think you will enjoy this book very much.

The epilogue floored me.

*ARC supplied by the publisher.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Weekenders: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

Books Description:

Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.
So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens...in a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.
Told with Mary Kay Andrews’ trademark blend of humor and warmth, and with characters and a setting that you can’t help but fall for, The Weekenders is the perfect summer escape.

This is the third time I have read this book because I wanted to make sure that the first two readings weren't a fluke, that maybe I was having a bad day when I read it and that is why I didn't like it the first two readings...but alas, no.

I must really be out of it by rating this book so low when everyone else seems to have loved it I did not love it, I actually didn't even like it.

This is going to be more like a rant than a review and please excuse me for doing so:

Ms. Andrews seems to have decided that she was not going to be writing humorous books anymore, this book is filled with angst and awful characters including the main characters. Perhaps Ms. Andrews has had something terrible happen in her life that started about three books (or so) ago, but whatever happened this doesn't even seem to be her writing

I know that author's don't always want to stick to the script that we the readers have come to love and dare I say, expect. They want to branch out and let their muse fly free. Well, that is all well and good but this book just bites the big one for me.

And here is why:

I just wanted to b*tch slap Maggy. I have never met a more horrid child in all my life. Yes, her father was murdered so I gave her leeway for that, but how she treats her mother was just beyond my comprehension. 

The plot- well, having Riley's husband steal all of her and her families money was done before (see Savanah Breeze) and done a bit better.

Having a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes would have worked if it hadn't been stressed, discussed and explained on nearly every page. This daughter is also disrespectful (she is 12 going on 40) to nearly everyone around her (calling her mother a bitch and a whore are just two examples)-and the mother just pretty much accepts it. Illness and death should not excuse this sort of behavior all the way like it did in this book.

Then we have Bebo -Riley's brother and a high functioning alcoholic.

A murder where, of course, the heroine is the first person the police suspect.

A romance that is tepid at the very best. 

Rant over ---I think!

This book was so dark with so many side stories that I breathed a sigh of relief to get it over with. Yes, I was shocked by who-dun-it and that was good (that is why the extra star). As a beach read I would say stay away.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Book Description:

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected "until death do us part" to mean seven decades.
In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

I was sort of wondering why this book was getting so many critical reviews (Yes I know that everyone's tastes are different) until I realized that this was actually a serious book, or at least most of it was. I think that most reader's are expecting something funnier, lighter. Yes, this book has its moments but the subject matter end's up being a bit more serious.

The book starts off humorously enough -but somewhat frustrating for me -when this couple is told that they may end up living long enough to be married 68 years. I couldn't see the problem here and why this couple freaked at this, but then again I just celebrated my 38th anniversary so this part of the book was a little ludicrous to me.

The next 2/3 of the book deals with misunderstandings. A possible affair comes up but finally ends up being a book about a mature woman growing into her skin and being a caring woman but not one who takes too much crap.

There are parts of this book that had me laughing, frustrated, angry and in tears and the mix of emotions was just what I needed.

Sylvie grows just so much and it was a fun trip to take with her.

*ARC supplied by publisher.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

You Say It First (Happily Inc. #1) by Susan Mallery

You Say It First (Happily Inc, #1)

Book Description:The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool's Gold romances invites you to visit Happily Inc., a wedding destination founded on a fairy tale 

Sculptor Nick Mitchell grew up in a family of artists and learned from his volatile father that passion only leads to pain. As he waits on a new commission, he takes a day job as a humble carpenter at a theme wedding venue. The job has its perks—mainly the venue's captivating owner, Pallas Saunders. Although he won't let love consume him, for ecstasy with an expiration date, he's all in. 
Pallas adores Weddings in a Box. But if she can't turn the floundering business around, she'll have no choice but cave to her domineering mother and trade taffeta for trust funds working at the family's bank. Then when a desperate bride begs Pallas for something completely out of the box, her irresistible new hire inspires her. Nick knows she doesn't belong behind a desk, and she knows in her heart that he's right—where she really belongs is in his arms.

I would really like to be kind with my dissatisfaction with this novel, however, I am so disgruntled by it that I'm not sure I'll be able to be kind. But I will try. (Semi-Spoilers Here)

Things I liked:

1- Interesting background -I've rarely read novels set in the desert.

2- Wonderful secondary characters for the most part.

3- The Alien wedding was interesting as was the
Black and White Wedding (that provided a few giggles for me)

What I was disgruntled with:

1- A lack of connection and sympathy with the main characters...I think this sort of story (Man feels he can't or won't love; Woman sorely miss-used by her mother, Father, Family)has been way overdone.

2 -Too many secondary characters that seem to blend into one type/one person (no distinct personality to me). I understand that this needs to be done with a first novel in what may be a long series, but it was a bit overwhelming to me.

3 -This is a 'was-rinse- repeat/formulaic story in so many ways ---not only does the author do this within this book, but the idea behind this book has just been over-done. There were no surprises for me.

I read to get away from the stresses of my life and want to be 'taken away' by what I'm reading, this book did not do that for me and it sounds like all the further books will be using the same formula. Readers deserve better than this

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library

Book Description:

"From journalist and author Sue Halpern comes a wry, observant look at contemporary life and its refugees. Halpern’s novel is an unforgettable tale of family...the kind you come from and the kind you create.
People are drawn to libraries for all kinds of reasons. Most come for the books themselves, of course; some come to borrow companionship. For head librarian Kit, the public library in Riverton, New Hampshire, offers what she craves most: peace. Here, no one expects Kit to talk about the calamitous events that catapulted her out of what she thought was a settled, suburban life. She can simply submerge herself in her beloved books and try to forget her problems.
But that changes when fifteen-year-old, home-schooled Sunny gets arrested for shoplifting a dictionary. The judge throws the book at Sunny—literally—assigning her to do community service at the library for the summer. Bright, curious, and eager to connect with someone other than her off-the-grid hippie parents, Sunny coaxes Kit out of her self-imposed isolation. They’re joined by Rusty, a Wall Street high-flyer suddenly crashed to earth.   
In this little library that has become the heart of this small town, Kit, Sunny, and Rusty are drawn to each other, and to a cast of other offbeat regulars. As they come to terms with how their lives have unraveled, they also discover how they might knit them together again and finally reclaim their stories."

I was not easily drawn into this book. I found most of the first half to be boring. Why? Because this book was written without us knowing the whole story behind Kit's mental instability. I don't usually mind if the main character's background is unfurled slowly, but this was absurd (to me).

Once Rusty shows up (and I can understand why the author threw in a guy, but I didn't like it) Ket starts to change just a tiny bit.

I didn't believe that this was supposed to be a romance -but there you go. Not an obvious one, but it's in the background hovering.

As for Sunny, well she was the best part of the book.

Yes this book was beautifully written and the characters are well drawn, but it was still missing that something that would have kept me intrigued instead of looking for something else to read.

*ARC supplied by publisher/Edelweiss

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

Two Girls Down
Book Description:When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied. 
With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.

I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes the darker side of mysteries and a real kick-ass heroine and a totally shocking denouement (I mean she actually kicks literal ass!).

The characters are written very realistically, their backstories are revealed quite slowly and that is a bit refreshing for me. If I had one major problem it would be that Alice Vega wasn't given a larger part, at times she was treated like a secondary character and I didn't get the feeling that she was supposed to be that.

This is a wonderful book and my only other complaint would be that I couldn't keep all the character's straight -especially if I had to step away from reading for a while (but that might be a problem for my rapidly aging brain! lol).

Anyone can read the synopsis, so I won't go there - I'm just going to let you know that this was a riveting look into the small-town life, an interesting look into the drug culture, Police-procedure in a small town and what happens to a family when their children are abducted.

I hope that this becomes a series. 

*ARC supplied by the publisher/Edelweiss.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sisters Like Us (Mischief Bay, #4) by Susan Mallery

Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery

Book Description:The grass is always greener on your sister’s side of the fence…
Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgeling virtual-assistant business, she’s scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies.
Spending half her life in school hasn’t prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant.
Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

Harper and Stacey are as opposite as sister's can be, and each has their own uniqueness. One, Harper is as perfect as a particular type of mother can be. She is the type of woman who decorates her house for every (and I mean every) holiday, cooks homemade everything and is always dressed well. Since her divorce she has tried to turn her crafting into a business; a virtual assistant business. She is not doing well, either with her business (she has never worked outside the home) or with her daughter. The typical entitled teen.

On the other hand, Stacey is looking for a cure for MS, she is a scientist, she is also very pregnant and has not told her mother. Stacey is also worried that she will not be able to nurture or love her child.

These two have what I considered the worst mother -a know it all throwback to a very different era when women put their husband and children first and Bunny (the Mother---that name is telling isn't it!) lets her daughters know flat out that what they've done is not good enough (Harper getting a divorce and trying to make a living) or abnormal (Stacey for working and putting family second).

The good parts of this book are that it combines narrative for both sisters and the parts were written so you have a clear understanding that each was their own person. It has an interesting love story, the mother Bunny is almost redeemed at the end and the daughter grows, matures and learns many valuable lessons.

The bad part is that I couldn't connect with either sister, and it took more than 50% of the book to stop being annoyed (and that's a mild word compared to what I really want to say) with these women and to stop wanting to smack them silly.

It's not a bad beach read as long as you don't mind being frustrated for much of the novel.

*ARC supplied by the publisher/NetGalley.