Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: This is Where I Leave You By: Jonathan Tropper

This Is Where I Leave YouThis Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Judd Foxman's father has died and has made the request that his family sit the full seven day shiva, honoring this request shouldn't be wrong, it should be easy to have everyone under the same roof for seven days and seven nights....
Judd has found his boss and wife in his bed and now finds out that she is pregnant. Wendy Foxman looks to have the life, married to a broker who seems to ignore her and the children and finds she still misses the day before with a boy she knew years ago. Phillip Foxman, the baby of the family showing up late, no one ever knowing where or what he has been up to or what he'll bring with him. Paul Foxman, the oldest son, the responsible one, the one who stayed home, ran the store, who in one night had his chance of pro baseball ruined by an incident he blames on Judd. Along with their mother Hillary, a famous writer of childrearing, who seems to has lost all sense of reining in her own (reminds me of the saying, those who can, do - those who can't, teach) who has a few of her own secrets brought out to the table.
There is supposed to humor here and at times I find that self-deprecation humor that is humorous - and what couldn't be more funny than sitting shiva, stuck with your family... but this isn't like that. From accusations and nasty comments of dead babies, to more or less dealing with a self absorbed main character, unlikable characters and situations page after page. Don't look for insight, or funny humor - this is more like a Jerry Springer documentary and you got caught being in the audience.

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Review: Love Energy By: David Kulp & Jack Moon

Love EnergyLove Energy by David Kulp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***** This is a First Reads, Thank You Goodreads ****

A perfect book to either begin or reintroduce yourself into energy work. Offering basic introduction, explanation, and exercises to practice, this is the book to keep as a refresher.
I love that the authors explain the ease of energy work, the basis of it, different types, and how to do the work in easy exercises. Love energy is the greatest that we can send forth, not just to heal ourselves, but others - this is the book to begin the journey on the lesson.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Vintage By: Susan Gloss

VintageVintage by Susan Gloss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

***** This is A First Reads, Thank You Goodreads ****

The story of women come alive through the vintage items at Hourglass Vintage. Violet Turner, the owner, who lovingly cares for each item, learns the history, and passes the story to the new buyer, has a story of her her own that is unfolding. April Morgan, the teenager, who tried to return the vintage wedding gown and became an intern working for Violet, as her pregnancy progressed so did her fears. Amithi Singh, whose life of being a good mother and wife was never treated with respect, a daughter now married with non traditional views and a husband who admits to betraying her for most of their marriage, finds herself and her talent for sewing useful at the Hourglass Vintage shop.
Although these three women are highlighted, there are more that are used as secondary characters that almost stand out even more brilliantly - especially, Betsy Barrett. (Now on a personal note, Betsy reminds me of my grandmother and her character is endearing in that way to me as the reader) I found the book to be something nice to dip your feet into when you want to find Spring after the harsh Winter and light chick lit.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: High Fidelity By: Nick Hornby

High FidelityHigh Fidelity by Nick Hornby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rob is dealing with a crisis. He has reached the point that being 35 almost 36 looking at his life and what he has done and what has mattered is made up into compilation tapes. Running a record store that is going under, losing his latest girl Laura, and finding that he has to pay people he barely knows to come out to hang for his birthday - well, the insight comes and goes.
Rob's character is makes no apologizes for how he feels, he simply does feel the way he does. His life is filled with lists and songs, with memories and regrets, with anger, a lot of anger. He is a boy that soon wakes to find the world has grown up without him and he is lost, he is fearful. At times I really disliked him for these reasons and other times I felt the author's boldness to portray someone so real to be fresh and as a reader you want the "underdog" to win. This is not a light read, filled with heavy emotions, a depth to the interactions within and without the characters.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: How To Be Good By: Nick Hornby

How to Be GoodHow to Be Good by Nick Hornby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Katie Carr thought her life was okay, that despite her flaws, she was a good person - yes, she didn't spend quite enough time with her children - yes, she found her husband distasteful and asked for a divorce - yes, she had an affair -- but she was a doctor, she provided the money for the house, she did good, didn't she?
Katie's husband David has undergone some kind of religious conversion, moved his guru into their home, has become the world's kindest calmest man from being the world's angriest, and finds he has plans to save the homeless beginning with them living in their spare room. Just as she watches the competition between her daughter to be good, to do good, better than her son - just as everything she question's about how she does as a person, Katie wonders just what does it take to be good.
Laughter and insight are found within the pages of this book, the crisis and building, the questions of life and love that can only be answered by the individual. Written in Katie's voice, a wonderful internal battle ensues that the reader is privy to - afterall she is a good person, she is a doctor. Sometimes this book was hard to read, too raw, too real in the demise, in the relationships, but isn't that what the author does best... make us think, deliver us, and have us pondering long after the last page --- that's what makes you coming back for more.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: The Absence of Mercy By: John Burley

The Absence of Mercy: A NovelThe Absence of Mercy: A Novel by John Burley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A small town finds itself slowly terrorized with bizarre and twisted deaths of some of it's residents. Dr. Ben Stevenson, the town's medical examiner, is central to the story and to the unraveling of the darkness that has crept into town.
The book begins with the boy in black and from that moment on I could not put this thriller down. At times I felt horrified and devoured the pages knowing that I had to reach the end in order to find some rest, some ending to what was occurring. And what I was left with was a chilling sensation, a need to discuss this (so please choose this for book club, you will want to talk about this one!!), and a new author that I am looking forward to experiencing another book from.
A great quote that the title comes from, "In fact, it was as if the conscience - the ability to care about right and wrong - were automatically absent from the brain. The same was true for the absence of mercy - not because mercy was something such individuals chose to withhold, but because it was a faculty they simply did not possess."
Sometimes fiction is too close to truth and that is where the horror lies - this is that book.

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Review: The Fault In Our Stars By: John Green

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hazel Grace Lancaster has been battling cancer for the past few years, it has become almost a part of her - the chemo puffed face, the oxygen tank she wheels about, the group she has to go to.. even her favorite book is about a girl who has cancer but decides to fight for another disease. It is in group that she meets the very handsome, Augustus Waters. Augustus, who once played basketball until cancer took his leg - Augustus, who seems to like her and get closer to her unlike anyone else.
This is a book about life - all that life contains - love, pain, betrayal, humor, death. There is nothing held back from the reader falling for these characters (including the secondary), and nothing held back from the author about the real rawness of life.
This is the book that will have you laugh and cry, that will break your heart and give you hope.

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Review: The Doodle Revolution By: Sunni Brown

The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think DifferentlyThe Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently by Sunni Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

******* This is a First Reads, Thank You Goodreads *******

The way we think sometimes can lose sight of what we hold creatively - this book, filled with insight, breakdown, and plenty of exercises challenges that.
When looking at a problem and seeing only the same solution, what if you took it creatively, unlocking the potential within yourself, your brain, within your doodles - this book helps you re train your thinking, your problem solving, your techniques. I felt myself challenged at times but knew that if I pushed through I would gain a very important lesson for my "toolbox" that I could carry not just into a professional life, but my personal life. I think that is what makes this book so great, the challenge, the lessons, the fact that it asks the reader to step out and re train the brain and then the skills are there, lessons learned in a fun way.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: Dark Places By: Gillian Flynn

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Money and attention has run out for Libby Day, the survivor of the Kinnakee Kansas Farmhouse Murders, other than her brother, Ben - the one who is in jail for killing her mother and two sisters. That was so many years ago, people have forgotten - except a small underground group that studies and questions the case and the testimony the she, a small 7 year old, gave that put her brother as the killer.
Reluctant but needing money, Libby agrees to revisit that night, to re think everything she thought she knew, all the people she once thought she knew - to go to that dark place. Each person leads to another, as each stone uncovers another, and new light shines upon an old memory, is it possible that Ben is innocent or even more guilty than ever thought.
Oh, my, I did not put this one down. Chapters that bounce back and forth between present day and 1985, between Libby Day and those of the characters of the past - all woven to create a powerful story that leaves your heart pounding and mind racing. A definite must read.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Landry Park By: Bethany Hagen

Landry ParkLandry Park by Bethany Hagen
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A dystopian United States that is run by the Gentry and served by the Rootless. A different world fueled by energy nuclear type energy charges created by Jacob Landry. Since then a special group, the Uprisen, a few of the founding Gentry, have been making all the decisions for the Country (the man behind the curtain type of idea). There is also a law in place about the firstborn holding the inheritance of the land and title, the necessity to marry, and to produce heirs.
Madeline Landry, descendent of Jacob, heir to Landry Park, is suffering from PLRGS (Poor Little Rich Girl Syndrome). Oh, If you could only find something likeable about her or her friends or the men that surround her - or her dilemma, to help the poor that repulse her or to go to the University like she always dreamed but she to marry to do so.
The author thinly disguises I think her political and environmental stance in a fictional teen book that lacks substance. I really wanted to like this, it was marketed like crazy, the blurb was interesting, but even the ending was disappointing. What was supposed to be the climatic event was a letdown for all the buildup (or attempted buildup). If you want to try to check this book out, do so from the library.

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Review: The Deepest Secret By: Carla Buckley

The Deepest SecretThe Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You never know what happens behind closed doors or the secrets deep within the ones that live under the same roof.
One moment, that's all it takes, less than a second, and Eve Lattimore finds herself carrying the deepest secret of all. When tragedy strikes the small cul de sac in suburban Columbus, soon everyone's secrets become revealed little by little, some have more to hide.
Eve's son, Tyler, has a rare genetic disorder, XP, that makes him fatally sensitive to light. A windowless life that becomes alive as soon as the sun sets, with a hobby in photography, Tyler becomes privy to the most private moments and interactions of his neighbors, especially their secrets.
Complex characters and dynamics fill the pages, all having the reader often asking about who they think they know next door, or what would they do. You will not put this book down. This is a perfect book for a book club.

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Review: Lost Lake By: Sarah Addison Allen

Lost LakeLost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Those Morris women, they seemed to be cursed. Most of them at least. Wanting to marry money and marrying for love the poorest man they ever came across, except Eby – she was lucky to fall in love with a rich man, George. The Morris women also seemed cursed to lose themselves when their husbands die, neglecting everything and everyone, even their own children, except Eby .. and her great niece Kate, who just woke up after a year of mourning.
Welcome to Lost Lake in Suley, Georgia. A little cabin park Eby and her late husband George bought years ago. Years have passed, families stopped coming, and an offer to buy is on the table. Thinking that this would be a quiet summer to say goodbye flew out of Eby’s mind when Kate showed up widowed and with her 8 year old daughter,Devin in tow.
Lost Lake holds court to a woman who has no voicebox and sees the ghost of her lover who killed himself fifty years ago and never left her side, a retired literature professor who believes that endings change when you reread books, a podiatrist who finds solace in the quiet, a woman who collected husbands like a hunter and had the help of magic to catch them, and an alligator that holds mystical secrets. Misfits and free spirits, broken hearts and new loves all find their way down the gravel road to a place that heals, reveals, and gives magic in a world where you once thought there was no more left.

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Review: How To Fall In Love By: Cecelia Ahern

How to Fall in LoveHow to Fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Christine Rose found herself talking Adam Basil off a bridge and making a promise to show him a life worth living by his 35th birthday – 2 weeks away. Christine knows she can’t fail this, even though she has just left her husband, she already had witnessed an attempted suicide the night before, and everything seems quite messy, Adam is her priority.
The human frailty of each character brings a depth of understanding and compassion. There is the wonderful humor that only Ahern delivers in her wonderful style, excellent secondary characters and plot development. The optimism Christine attempts to bring into Adam’s life as the dark cloud hovers over hers, brings a certain enlightenment to the reader of the wonders of life and creating those moments to treasure and value.
I love Ms. Ahern’s books. Within the pages I know I will be transported into a story that will not only bring tears, laughter, but also bring a sense of hope. Yes, her books can be categorized as ‘chick lit’ but there is a deeper depth, a story of growth, of hope, of the impossible becoming – and I don’t know about you, but my soul needs stories like these.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: The Weight of Blood By: Laura McHugh

The Weight of BloodThe Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I stayed up all night reading this, lost within it's pages, refusing to put it down. I grew up with that understanding that blood is thicker than water, and I also grew up knowing that only blood comes from wounds. The weight of blood is a heavy thing. Where the landscape of the Ozarks hold caves as deep as the secrets as the people that make their home upon it's land, secrets that go deep into families and flow faster than the river to escape the light of day.
Told from different points of view, spanning across different points of time, yet all working to an apex that will balance everything out. The book begins with Lucy missing her neighbor, Cheri. Cheri was a girl nobody would miss, a forgettable "special" girl from a troubled home that most figured ran away - until her dismembered body was found in a tree by the river a year later. Lucy can't get over this, especially since the mystery of her mother who went missing over ten years ago has never been solved, so she starts asking questions she might never want the answers to. Flashes to Lila (Lucy's mother) and all those years ago are just part of the mystery, and both stories are interwoven.
I can't believe that this is the author's first novel - intense, haunting, jump at the shadows type of book, filled with amazing characters. Although the ending did seem a bit rushed, it was good and worth the read - this is an author to look for, a book to be a must read and enjoy (you will not put this one down).

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Review: The Admirer’s Secret :A Novel By: Pamela Crane

The Admirer's SecretThe Admirer's Secret by Pamela Crane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**** This is A First Reads, Thank You Goodreads ******
Haley Montgomery has had her share of tragedy and loss, yet when she begins to receive letters from an admirer a new hope within begins to swell. The letters know her so deep, so well, but who could be sending something so intimate.
Her dream of being a screenwriter seems even closer when famous Hollywood screenwriter Allen Michaels comes to the small town of Westfield offering courses. Allen takes a special interest in Haley even if his intensity is a bit extreme and what sent him running to hide away in a small town is a bit darker than anyone suspects.
Haley is caught between the possibility of the career of her dreams and the man of her dreams, Marc Vincetti. Marc, who she has the most important conversations with, whose handwriting seems to match that of her admirer…
Thing about all this, sometimes not everything is as it seems. A story that not only surprises you but also has a great message (not preachy), with some nailbiting fear provoking moments this is a great thrilling novel.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: Take A Chance On Me By: Jennifer Dawson

Take a Chance on Me (Something New, #1)Take a Chance on Me by Jennifer Dawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

****** This is A First Reads, Thank You Goodreads ******
Sneaking out on her wedding isn’t the beginning of Maddie Donovan’s problems, hiking miles in her wedding shoes in the dark from a broken down car isn’t either, no, it’s the bartender that is all too hot and kind in the dive that brings the electricity to the air. Mitch Riley thought he was safe from the big city in the small town dive, that he was living and all was well, thing was, he was hiding and running from feeling alive until she came in.
From the moment Mitch saw her, she got under his skin and he wasn’t going to let her go. From moving her under his roof, to paying his friends not to work on her car for a week, he is looking to keep her. Maddie is looking at Mitch and wants so bad to no longer be good and not only begins to find a connection with him, but one that she had lost with herself long ago.
A story of two broken people that have a connection and whether they are willing to take the chance on each other. Sometimes the scariest thing to do is to love and trust another, and with their histories compounded with the histories of their families, there are a lot of hurdles in front of them.
The main characters have a great heat to them and some scenes will leave you breathless, secondary characters so well rounded that you can’t wait for them to have their own books (this is part of a Something New series), and the town of Revival that you want to move to. I don’t think that this is the last connection between Donovan’s and Riley’s (sneak peek of next novel) and I look forward to the rest of the series.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Review: Mr. Maybe By: Jane Green

Mr. MaybeMr. Maybe by Jane Green
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Libby Mason decided Mr. Right might not be here, but Mr. Right Now in Nick and his hot body and fear of commitment was. Choosing to keep it casual, something deeper soon grows, until the feelings are too much and too serious for Nick to handle. With a broken heart, Libby makes a list of her perfect man, and soon Britain’s wealthiest bachelor Ed is checking off the boxes of her list – from flowers and gifts to the luxurious mansion in the perfect neighborhood. Even as the list is being fulfilled, she finds she is compromising herself more and more, and just why is it that at her engagement party all she thought of was Nick who sat across the table.
This was okay, felt a little Bridget Jones, but not quite. I wanted to like Libby but couldn’t, I found her superficial, whiny, lacking likability. I loved her friends and questioned their sanity and dimensional qualities simply for being a friend with someone so one dimensional. Very predictable storyline, somewhat unfortunate dialogue – especially internal. This is a beach read, a bit of fluff.

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Review: Shotgun Lovesongs ( Audio ) By: Nickolas Butler

Shotgun Lovesongs: A NovelShotgun Lovesongs: A Novel by Nickolas Butler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A unique voice telling the tale of small town Americana as told from different points of view. The intertwining of lives through the years, the complexity of the relationships each one holds with the other, the secrets, the pains, and the triumphs. Welcome to Little Wing, Wisconsin.
Henry, AKA Hank, is the strongest link of this group. A farmer, married to Beth, a father, generally happy with his hometown life…his life. The simple sunset, the milking of the cows, he has a sense of happiness and gratitude, a man’s whose treasures are not measures in gold, but who is truly rich.
Beth, married to Henry, mother, holds a secret, sometimes loses sight of what is for the road that wasn’t traveled. She knows how lucky she is and feels guilt because of this. Motherly to everyone within the group.
Leland, AKA Lee, the famous musician that made it big but always comes home. No matter what in life, Lee makes his way home, after a tour, making a new record, dating a movie star – it’s his and only his. He feels the emptiness of not having someone to share a life with, not having children, envious of the happiness he sees in his friends having in the simple things and he wants it, he thought he had it years ago once.
Ronnie, former rodeo star, alcoholic, and living with a brain injury. Currently in recovery, having a great sense of life, living, and perspective. He has Lee as a benefactor, best friends that watch after him, yet feels caged in and trapped and feels the need to be free.
Kip, the small town boy who went to Chicago made it big and returned. He was never that popular within the group, yet came back home to buy The Mill, make it into something. He tends to be more worried about how things appear to others, but over time and a few stories (especially Harvey Bunion) you see a deeper complexity.
The town itself is also a character and a metaphor for each one of the characters. Symbolic as each one speaks and shares a moment, a story, a secret – and as the words unfold, so does the town, as a separate entity each time.
I really enjoyed the tone of the story, the weaving of tales, the characters that were so well developed. The only thing, there was so much jumping around – so much, back and forth, that sometimes it felt a little whiplash and that you missed something, but you didn’t. Really good, take your time with this one, I think this is an author’s voice that has been missing in novels lately.

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