February 27, 2013

(15) The Pretty One by Lucinda Rosenfeld

The Pretty One
by Lucinda Rosenfeld 

Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Pages: 304


Even though the Hellinger sisters are well into their thirties, they still are trapped by the old labels they had as kids.  Perri, the take charge, domineering  is the smart one.  She runs her household and her own three children like the captain of a ship.  Single mom, Pia, is the pretty one, she gave up on love and her married lover and went to a sperm bank to have her young daughter.  Single motherhood is not what she expected, but she would not have it any other way. And finally there is Gus, the political one. She just broke up with her long term partner, Debbie, and is a little lost and floundering.

These three sisters are not where they though or hoped they would be at this place in life. They all are struggling with the relationships in their lives, or lack there of. And the interference of the sisters in each other's lives causes even more problems.  Will Perri and her husband, Mike be able to reconcile?  Will Pia ever find Sperm Donor #6103?  Will Gus ever find happiness and will it be with a man or a woman?  And what happens when the sisters discover that there is a fourth Hellinger sister out there?

The Pretty One was a pretty good book.  The dynamics of the sister relationship makes this book such a fascinating read.  They all have such strong personalities and all three of them are a bit trapped by the labels given them all those years ago.  I think Pia was my favorite sister.  I can easily say that Perri annoyed the crap out of me in great detail, but even I started to feel a little empathy towards her later in the book.  I did finish the book feeling like not much had been resolved with the sisterly relationships, beyond the obligatory apologies, but I guess that is the way it goes with most families. Right?



The Pretty One was a pretty good book.  The dynamics of the sister relationship makes this book such a fascinating read.  They all have such strong personalities and all three of them are a bit trapped by the labels given them all those years ago.  I think Pia was my favorite sister.  I can easily say that Perri annoyed the crap out of me in great detail, but even I started to feel a little empathy towards her later in the book.  I did finish the book feeling like not much had been resolved with the sisterly relationships, beyond the obligatory apologies, but I guess that is the way it goes with most families. Right?

Bottom line, I really enjoyed The Pretty One .   Even though they were labeled with the stereotypes of "the smart one" , "the pretty one" and "the political one" all three sisters were unique and had a good dynamic. It was a quick read and a nice distraction from my own family dynamics.  Most definitely worth the read.



February 26, 2013

February 25, 2013

(14)Why Can't I Be You by Allie Larkin

Why Can't I Be You 

Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Pages: 304


Remember that episode of Friends where Monica has her credit card stolen by the woman who did fun things like take tap dance lessons? THAT episode kept popping into my mind as I was reading Why Can't I Be You.

Jenny Shaw is on the way to the airport for a work conference when her long term boyfriend dumps her in the car. To say that she is shell-shocked is a great understatement.  She goes to the conference in Seattle and is in the lobby when she hears someone calls her name, but it wasn't her name.  It was Jessie Morgan's name that was called.  Jenny is mistaken for Jessie at a class reunion.  Rather than correct the sweet and fun, Myra, Jenny plays along.  She steps into the role of "Jessie" and all that being Jessie means.  Including her past - good and bad - but especially her friendships.  The lonely Jenny has an "instant" family in the high school friends of Jessie and as much as she hates deceiving them, she comes to love them and their support.  Will she be able to sneak out of Seattle without them discovering the truth or will the truth come out and further destroy Jenny's tenuous hold on her sanity?

Why Can't I Be You was a really fun novel to read.  Even though she wasn't exactly truthful with Myra and the gang, Jenny is a really great character. I could relate to her with her jack-ass boyfriend dumping her. And I could also relate to her with the desire for that close knit group of friends - her desire to BELONG to something outweighed her common sense, but I could totally see why she did what she did.  There was also a lot of MY memories stirred up with all of "remember when" discussed with Myra and the gang at the class reunion.

Bottom line, Why Can't I Be You is a really fun novel. Jenny Shaw isn't your typical Chick Lit novel heroine.  She has heart and is full of emotion and she is someone that just wants to be happy - I think we all can understand where she is coming from, right?

February 19, 2013

(13)The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe

The Lives We Lost

Publication Date: February 19, 2013
Pages: 288


The Lives We Lost picks up where The Way We Fall left off.  Kaelyn and her friends have survived the virus thus far, but it has not been easy.  Many of their family members have succumbed to the virus and life on the island is bleak.  Kaelyn has discovered a vaccine in her late father's office that may be the vaccine to end the horror.

Kaelyn is making plans to take the vaccine to Toronto with the hopes of finding a doctor who can replicate the vaccine and get it out to the masses.  The SUV is ready to go when they receive a warning that the Government is just moments away from bombing the island.  Kaelyn, Gav, Meredith and the rest of the crew barely escape the island thanks to Tobias, the AWOL military man who warns them what the Government has in store.  Together they set off for Toronto and they realize that as bad as it was on the island, it was mild compared to what waits for them off the island.  Will they make it to Toronto and what will happen if they do make it to Toronto?

I am always up for a good post-apocalyptic novel and I did enjoy The Way We Fall  so I was eager to see what Megan Crewe brings us in the sequel. She changed things up by forcing them out of their homes and off of their island.  I enjoyed the twist where Kaelyn "runs into" someone familiar to both her and the reader.  Of course there were some major challenges along the way and the gang met up with some new friends, but the trip to Toronto was anything but easy.

Bottom line - if you read The Way We Fall then of course you must read The Lives We Lost - the sequel picks up right where you would expect it to, all of your favorite characters are there and watching
Kaelyn and her crew navigate this post-virus world is interesting to say the least.

February 16, 2013

(12)Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Me Before You 

Publication Date: December 31,2012
Pages: 384

(RIGHT NOW!!  GO BUY IT RIGHT NOW!!) 

HOLY SMOKES!!!!!!  It is rare that I write a review that includes spoilers, but I am going to warn you now there are GOING to be spoilers. Including plot spoilers & ending spoilers (Not yet, I will warn you first)  - but if you read one book I review, let it be this one.

Me Before You at first glance appears to be a British Chick Lit novel.  You have twenty-seven year old Louisa Clark.  She is the oldest daughter in a very blue collar kind of family.  She still lives at home with her parents, her siblings, and her grandfather, all crammed into a small home.  She was just laid off from her job at the local cafe, yet her blue collar family relies heavily on her paycheck, so she takes a job as a personal aide to a man who is wheelchair bound. She takes the job assuming that the man is going to be elderly.  And is shocked to discover that Will Traynor is a thirty-five year old former financial wiz kid.

Will Traynor has always been larger than life. Coming from a wealthy family has allowed him many opportunities in his life.  And he made his own opportunities in the financial district in London, but it all came to a screeching halt when he was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street after a meeting.  His world has now shrunk to his personal nurse, Nathan and his parents.  As far as he is concerned life is not worth living.  Louisa was hired to prove him otherwise.

PLOT SPOILERS LISTED BELOW!!



At first Louisa is really nervous with her new position and new responsibilities.  Will Traynor is a formidable man even though he can't even feed himself.  But as the days start to pass Louisa starts to realize how much she has come to like Will.  He is so different from her boyfriend, Patrick. Not just in physical abilities, but how worldly Will is and how smart he is and how he challenges her to be a better person.  She is on her way home from work one day when she over hears a conversation between Will's mother & sister. They didn't just hire Louisa to be Will's companion, they hired Louisa to try and convince him that life is worth living.  Because at the end of Louisa's six month contract, Will has made his parents promise him that at the end of the six months they will take him to a facility in Switzerland that performs assisted suicides.  Louisa is devastated for she has come to be really fond of Will.  She takes it upon herself to show Will that even though he is wheelchair bound, life CAN be worth living.   From local outings to a vacation on a tropical island she is determined and focused on keeping Will alive.  In the process she falls in love.




ENDING SPOILERS BELOW 





Holy smokes.  I have never sobbed so hard while reading a book.  Seriously - full on ugly cry. Louisa and Will were so good together.  It was on their final night of vacation that Will tells Louisa that he still plans on going through with his trip to Switzerland.  The news absolutely shatters Louisa - she is angry and hurt and wants no part of his plans.  But the day before his scheduled suicide Louisa is summoned to Switzerland.  And no matter how much it destroys her, she wants to be there with Will when he dies.

Seriously - full on ugly cry.  I wanted to throw my tablet across the room, I was so angry by the ending.  I have been programmed to believe that "Chick Lit" novels have the "Happy Ever After" ending.  As I was tossing and turning in bed thinking of this novel, I realized that life doesn't always have the "happy ever after" endings, no matter how much you hope for them.  I respect JoJo Moyes for showcasing that life (and death) can indeed be very very messy.

Bottom line - British Chick Lit author, JoJo Moyes takes the kind of  hard hitting subject matter you would expect to find in a Jodi Picoult novel and adds the kind of charm that you can only find in a Chick Lit novel and gives us one of the best novels I have read in a very long time.  Me Before You may rip out your heart, but it must be read. Simply must.



February 12, 2013

(11)The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers

The Comfort of Lies

Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Pages: 336


The Comfort of Lies is the story of three women at very different stages of their lives and their lives are intertwined in ways that they do not know.

First there is Tia, she did the unthinkable and fell in love with a married man.  She was so sure that Nathan was going to leave his wife to be with her, especially when she found out she was pregnant with their child.  Now it is five years later and she still feels lost and empty without Nathan and their child.

Next there is Juliette.  She was shattered to her core when her husband, Nathan told her that he had an affair.  He swore that he would never again be unfaithful and so far he has kept that promise.  Well as far as Juliette knows.  It has taken five long years for them to rebuild their marriage but they are now in a good place.

Finally there is Caroline, the driven Pathologist who feels incredibly guilty for not loving her five year old adopted daughter, Savannah, as much as she thinks she should.  She would much rather work than spend the day with her husband and daughter.  And to ease her guilt she buys Savannah everything a little girl could possibly ever want.  And of course she fulfills her part of the open adoption by sending the yearly photos to the birth mother.  But this year, this year, sending those pictures set off a chain of events that  will change things for all three of them.  

The Comfort of Lies was an incredibly moving novel. Told in alternating voices we truly get to see infidelity (and the results) from all sides.  It is so easy for a wife - any wife - to immediately hate "the other woman" - no matter what the scenario, but Randy Susan Meyers really made it hard to dislike Tia.  And really easy to hate Nathan.  lol - Seriously, though, there were things that I liked greatly and disliked intensely about all three women in this book.  I think that is what made me read through it as fast as I did.  It just seemed so real.

Bottom line, there were times when reading The Comfort of Lies was a bit uncomfortable. All three women were easy to like despite their major character flaws and that always  makes for a good read. Pick it up and let me know what you think.

February 5, 2013

February 4, 2013

(10)Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster

Here I Go Again

Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Pages: 320


Everyone had a "Lissy Ryder" at their high school.  The "popular" girl who was the trendsetter and tended to be on the bitchy side.  Lissy Ryder is getting ready for her 20th Class Reunion when her life starts to fall apart.  She gets fired and her high school sweetheart, Duke, has asked her for a divorce.  Even though her life seems to be falling apart, Lissy is confident that her life is still better than her classmates.  Until she starts to Google and discovers that many of them are living the high life.

Lissy goes to her class reunion with her BFF, Nicole and decides to approach some of her "better off" classmates with her idea for a new business, only to find out that they all hate her. HATE HER.  The realization that she is not as beloved as what she thought rocks her to her core.   The morning after the class reunion Lissy finds herself  in the home of Deva (used to be Debbie) a woman who grew past Lissy's incessant teasing to build a New Age empire.  She decides it is time to help Lissy learn the error of her ways and gives Lissy a chance to "do over" her high school years.  The next morning she wakes up to find herself back in 1991 -- looking at herself through adult eyes, Lissy realizes how much of a monster that she really was back then and she sets out to rectify some of her mistakes.  But will it be enough?

My twentieth class reunion is coming up this year *gulp* so I found myself imagining my classmates and what our reunion will look like.  I also found myself LOVING all of Lissy's pop culture reference from my high school days. As usual with anything Jen Lancaster writes, I found myself laughing out loud many times.  She created this horrible character,  Lissy, that at first I just wanted to slap sill.  But the change in Lissy was pretty noticeable and drastic and done in such a humorous way, it only accentuates the talents of Jen Lancaster.

Bottom line - Jen Lancaster has once again written a novel that is both funny and reflective at the same time. She did an excellent job of transferring the reader back to the 90's - an era that many of us remember well. Fans of Jen Lancaster (and aren't we all?) will love and appreciate her latest effort.  The humor, the characters and the flashbacks all make Here I Go Again a must read!

February 3, 2013

(9)The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

Pages: 449
Publication Date: January 29, 2013


I have carried the moniker of "scrapbooker" for many many years.  I started way back in the day, as most everyone started, with Creative Memories and I branched out into my warped form of digital scrapbooking.  I joined a scrapbooking community message board, to which I am still a member and have met some of my very best friends.  So yeah, scrapbooking has played a very big role in my life. 

In her new novel, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, Darien Gee takes us back to Avalon, Illinois. In a way, the small town of Avalon reminds me of my own small Midwestern hometown.  Full of good, if not quirky, people who do nothing if not look out for their own.  There is  Madeline who owns the local tea shop, and Frances who is desperately trying to adopt a baby, Isabel who is still trying to deal with her late husband's betrayal, Ava who is trying to raise her son knowing that he will ever know his fathe, and there is Yvonne, the towns only female plumber. And then there is Bettie - Bettie is the town Mother-Hen and works hard at building her Scrapbooking Business. She has created The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society under the guise of running a business and preserving memories, but really, she created the society as a cover for social gatherings.  Will the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society come through for Bettie in her hour of need? Or will the ladies be so wrapped up in their own lives that they miss the fact that Bettie is needing help?

The Avalon Ladie's Scrapbooking Society was a cute novel.  On the one hand it made me think of my own smalltown hometown - but it also made me very glad that I no longer have to deal with that "everybody in everybody else's business" - it is pretty standard for small towns and made me so very glad that I live in the city now! I did enjoy all of Avalon's residents, especially Yvonne, but I would probably get irritated with Bettie's interfering ways real quick like. 

Bottom line, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is a quaint little novel about a quaint little town.    Fans of scrapbooking will fondly recognize some of the terms and tools mentioned and maybe even a little bit of themselves in the characters.  I will be interested in hearing what my scrapbooking sisters think of this one!