January 04, 2016

Recent Reads

Happy New Year!  I owe you all book reviews...some all the way back from my trip to England and some from my recent residency at Barnes & Noble!

I'm setting a goal to read fifty books this year.  Before I was so involved in rescue, that goal would have been substantially larger.  But I need to find a balance between carrying my end of the rescue bargain and a little "me" time.  Fifty books sounded reasonable. :-) Any recommendations?!

Summary: When Nicolas Duhamel was twenty-four years old, he stumbled upon a troubling secret about his family, a secret that was carefully concealed. In shock, Nicolas embarked on a journey to uncover the truth that took him from the Basque coast to St. Petersburg-but the answers wouldn't come easily.

In the process of digging into his past, something else happened. Nicolas began writing a novel that was met with phenomenal success, skyrocketing him to literary fame whether he was ready for it or not-and convincing him that he had put his family's history firmly behind him. But now, years later, Nicolas must reexamine everything he thought he knew, as he learns that, however deeply buried, the secrets of the past always find a way out.
Page-turning, layered and beautifully written, THE OTHER STORY is a reflection on identity, the process of being a writer and the repercussions of generations-old decisions as they echo into the present and shape the future. 

What I think...  Kudos to the editor who wrote the summary and book jacket.  They make this book sound good.  I've read another of Tatiana DeRosnay's books and was expecting something of that caliper.  Sadly, she has utterly and completely missed the mark.  There is no discernible story line and the ending feels like she just got tired of writing.  The only likable character is one that we don't actually meet - instead we get snippets of her through memories.  I love you all...so don't bother with this one.

Summary: Cape Cod summers are supposed to remain reassuringly the same, but everything falls apart when three sisters and their families come together for their annual summer vacation—and they are carrying more secrets than suitcases.

Maggie is the oldest. She feels responsible for managing the summer house and making sure everything is as it always has been. But she’s hurt that her parents’ recent divorce has destroyed the family’s comfortable summer routines, and her own kids seem to be growing up at high speed. Is it too late to have another baby?

Jess is the middle sister. She loves her job but isn’t as passionate about her marriage. She’s not sure she can find the courage to tell Maggie what she’s done—much less talk to her husband about it.

Virgie is the youngest, her dad’s favorite. She’s always been the career girl, but now there’s a man in her life. Her television job on the west coast is beyond stressful, and it’s taking its toll on her—emotionally and physically. She’s counting on this vacation to erase the symptoms she’s not talking about.

The Herington girls are together again, with their husbands and kids, for another summer in the family’s old Cape Cod house. When their mother, Gloria, announces she’s coming for an unscheduled visit—with her new boyfriend—no one is more surprised than their father, Arthur, who has not quite gotten over his divorce. Still, everyone manages to navigate the challenges of living grown-up lives in close quarters, until an accident reveals a new secret that brings everyone together in heartbreak…and then healing.

What I think... I loved this book!  Written from the perspective of three adult sisters, all of whom have their own problems and family roles, it carries you through the highs and lows of one summer at the family beach house.  Wendy Francis does a great job leading you in one direction, only to take an unexpected turn. The book is well written and you can identify with each of the sisters.  As a local girl (the book takes place on the South Shore/Cape Cod), it made me happy that she stayed true to many of the things you encounter here.

Summary: On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different yet equally remarkable children: Frank, the brilliant, stubborn first-born; Joe, whose love of animals makes him the natural heir to his family's land; Lillian, an angelic child who enters a fairy-tale marriage with a man only she will fully know; Henry, the bookworm who's not afraid to be different; and Claire, who earns the highest place in her father's heart. Moving from post-World War I America through the early 1950s, Some Luck gives us an intimate look at this family's triumphs and tragedies, zooming in on the realities of farm life, while casting-as the children grow up and scatter to New York, California, and everywhere in between-a panoramic eye on the monumental changes that marked the first half of the twentieth century. Rich with humor and wisdom, twists and surprises, Some Luck takes us through deeply emotional cycles of births and deaths, passions, and betrayals, displaying Smiley's dazzling virtuosity, compassion, and understanding of human nature and the nature of history, never discounting the role of fate and chance. This potent conjuring of many lives across generations is a stunning tour de force.

What I think...  Unbeknownst to me, I happened to pick up the first book in a trilogy.  Some Luck carries you from 1920 to 1953 and starts in Iowa.  I knew it was going to be character-heavy when I saw a family tree at the beginning, but after the first hudle of characters, Jane Smiley introduces at a pace that it's easy to keep track of who's who.  However, it is a LONG book.  Each chapter is one year in the family's life - which has an equal measure of joy and tragedy, and brings the family through drought, WWII and other historically accurate events.  Here's a little oddity... when a new child is born, Jane Smiley writes from their perspective right away.  "Knowing" the thoughts of a baby is a little disconcerting! However, now that I took the time to get invested in the family, I know I need to see it through and read the other two books.

Summary: Everyone has days, weeks, even months they wish they could do over—but what about an entire year? After living through the worst twelve months of her life, intensive care nurse Olive Watson is given a second chance to relive her past and attempt to discover where she went wrong…

After a year of hardships, including a messy breakup with her longtime boyfriend Phil, the prospect of her mother’s remarriage, and heartbreaking patient losses at the hospital, Olive is ready to start fresh. But when she wakes up in her ex-boyfriend’s bed on New Year’s Day 2011a day she has already livedOlive’s world is turned upside down.
Shouldering a year of memories that no one else can recall, even Olive begins to question herself—until she discovers that she is not alone. Upon crossing paths with Sherry Witan, an experienced “repeater,” Olive learns that she has the chance to rewrite her future. Given the opportunity of a lifetime, Olive has to decide what she really wants. Should she make different choices, or accept her life as she knows it, flaws and all?

What I think... I'm intrigued by time travel in books.  I have a few issues with things Olive skipped over while doing her repeat year, but overall I enjoyed the book.  Olive does her best to turn a bad year into a good one!

Summary:  Taking it off in the name of history…

Thirty-five-year-old American social media master Vanessa Roberts lives her thoroughly modern life with aplomb. So when her elderly Jane Austen–centric aunt needs her to take on the public relations for Julian Chancellor, a very private man from England who’s written a book called My Year as Mr. Darcy, Vanessa agrees. But she’s not “excessively diverted,” as Jane Austen would say.

Hardbound books, teacups, and quill pens fly in the face of her e-reader, coffee, and smartphone…

…Until she sees Julian take his tight breeches off for his Undressing Mr. Darcy show, an educational “striptease” down to his drawers to promote his book and help save his crumbling estate. The public relations expert suddenly realizes things have gotten…personal. But can this old-fashioned man claim her heart without so much as a GPS? It will take three festivals filled with Austen fans, a trip to England, an old frenemy, and a flirtatious pirate re-enactor to find out…

What I think...  I really enjoyed this book! I'll admit, I'm an Austen fan.  And who doesn't want their own Mr. Darcy to sweep them off their feet?  Vanessa makes for a great anti-heroine, or so she thinks. I loved learning more about each character in the book, and learned a few things about Jane Austen too!  This was an easy read that subtly reminds people not to judge to quickly, to get through arguments with old friends and that what you need is sometimes right in front of you.

Summary: A charming novel about a 40-year-old Brooklyn mother, recently divorced, who starts writing copy for a bakery, discovers a knack for food-related literary puns, and becomes entangled in a love triangle.

Molly Hagan is overwhelmed.

Her husband left her for a younger, blonder woman, her six year-old son is questioning her authority, and now, so is she. In order to pay her Brooklyn rent and keep her son supplied with Pokemon and Legos-not to mention food and clothing-she has to get a job. Fast.

So when an old friend offers Molly a copywriting position at a new bakery, finding romance is just about the last thing on her mind. But the sexy British pastry chef who's heading up the bakery has other thoughts. And so does Molly when she meets the chef's intimidating business partner-who also happens to have a secret that might prevent Molly from getting her own Happily Ever After.

What I think... While this isn't one of my "top ten" books, it was a solid book.  Vanity Fare has a believable story filled with a main character that you want to find a happy ending, some great food puns and a touch of Pride and Prejudice.  Combining books and a bakery is on my "if I won the lottery" wish list, so this book was a winner!

Still an Amazon Associate, peeps.  But you all know I won't recommend anything I don't believe in...and you can read from my review that I'm only really recommending three of today's six books.


  1. OMG...you've been a busy reader!! Thanks for the reviews both good and bad. I'm always on the hunt for a good book!!

  2. I've heard good things about The Summer of Good Intentions! I cut my reading goal way back for this year; I'm going for quality over quantity. My 2015 goal was 220 (read 267), and this year I'm going for 150 4+ star reads.

  3. Oh, so many books to add to my list! You know, my list that's already 4000 books long! Oy.


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