Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review: The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic 0) by Alice Hoffman

Blurb from Goodreads:
Find your magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. 
My Review:
Such a perfect book for October - the prequel to Practical Magic and I really loved this!  If you are familiar with PM, you know there is a "curse" on the family.  This book explains the origin of the curse and even though there is a lot of sadness, this felt spectacularly genuine.  I read this very quickly because I loved the timing and pacing of it.  It starts in the 50s and ends in the late 70s, touching on some major historical events.  I don't want to give anything away but I definitely recommend this one.  Such great characters and such a compelling story.

The Rules of Magic comes out TODAY October 10, 2017 and you can purchase HERE.  I definitely recommend this one for fans of Practical Magic - you will not be disappointed!
If there was anything Vincent might have done to stop it he wouldn't have done so, for this occurred only once in a person's life, and then only if he was lucky. It happened the way things happen in a dream. A door opens, a person calls your name, your heart beats faster, and everything is familiar, yet you don't know where you are. You are falling, you're in a house you don't recognize and yet you want to be here, you have actually wanted to be here all of your life. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Review: Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis

Blurb from Goodreads:
Flora Goldwasser has fallen in love. She won't admit it to anyone, but something about Elijah Huck has pulled her under. When he tells her about the hippie Quaker school he attended in the Hudson Valley called Quare Academy, where he'll be teaching next year, Flora gives up her tony upper east side prep school for a life on a farm, hoping to woo him. A fish out of water, Flora stands out like a sore thumb in her vintage suits among the tattered tunics and ripped jeans of the rest of the student body. When Elijah doesn't show up, Flora must make the most of the situation and will ultimately learn more about herself than she ever thought possible.

Told in a series of letters, emails, journal entries and various ephemera, Flora's dramatic first year is laid out for all to see, embarrassing moments and all.
My Review:
I can honestly tell you that I've never read a YA book quite like this, or any book for that matter.  The non-ARC version, I presume, will be a bit interactive with photos, etc but even the e-ARC was so charming with its hints of the multi-media promise.  A lot of this book is told in letters, e-mails and diary entries and I always love that type of formatting, when done well. I hate to tell you what this is about more than the blurb but I will tell you that Flora Goldwasser was such a well-developed narrator.  I really enjoyed this book, especially after the first few chapters.  Ultimately, this book really made me think and look at things in every day life in a new way.  I would say this book has a lot to recommend it.

Everything Must Go came out earlier this week on October 3, 2017 and you can purchase HERE.  I definitely recommend this one for fans of quirky YA, vintage clothing and unrequited love.
If I were Molly Ringwald in a John Hughes movie, I would have slid to the ground with my back against the wall, knees at my chest, a hand clutching my throat, and a dazed expression on my face. But I was more of a take-action type of girl, so I grabbed a set of prints that Mr. Greenberg hadn't asked for and hurried through the door By the time I reached the art room, Elijah was gone. I worked for the next few hours in a distracted daze, and when I went home, i organized and reorganized my closet until I was calm enough to slice some strawberries and read Anna Karenina. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Review: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Blurb from Goodreads:
Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.

Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career as a Ziegfield folly, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life.

Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organized crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Egan’s first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America, and the world.
My Review:
This one starts really slow and I honestly wasn't feeling it until almost half way into the book.  But then it picked up and I could not put it down!  All the zigs and zags added up and I loved Anna like my own. Historical fiction is hit or miss for me but this one was so good that I almost forgot it was fiction.  I was invested and I had to know what happened next. I'm not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't this. Even if you're not drawn to historical fiction (like me), I would recommend this one - it brought something new to living in New York during World War 2 and it was so honest and refreshing.  

Manhattan Beach comes out TODAY October 3, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.  I really loved this one and you will too, especially if you're a fan of historical fiction.
As he smoked, Eddie returned to his worry about Anna as if it were a stone he'd placed in his pocket and now could remove and examine. He'd taught her to swim at Coney Island, taken her to Public Enemy and Little Caesar and Scarface (over the disapproving looks of ushers), bought her egg creams and charlotte russes and coffee, which he'd let her drink since the age of seven. She might as well have been a boy: dust in her stockings, her ordinary dresses not much different form short pants. She was a scarp, a weed that would thrive anywhere, survive anything. She pumped life into him as surely as Lydia drained it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: Winter Solstice (Winter #4) by Elin Hilderbrand

Blurb from Goodreads:
Raise one last glass with the Quinn Family at the Winter Street Inn. 

It's been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that's about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they've experienced in years. And Bart's safe return isn't the family's only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she's finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn't be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love--and some of the things we endure--about the holidays, WINTER SOLSTICE is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best. 
My Review:
I remember reading the first two books in this series and being absolutely unable to put them down.  The third book wasn't as good for me as the first two and it was supposed to be the conclusion to this series.  When it ended on a cliffhanger, I was half apprehensive/half excited for a fourth book.  And while I think the series concluded sufficiently, it was rather melancholy as opposed to the first three books and what I kind of come to want from Elin Hilderbrand.  Granted, she doesn't always give us a happy ending but this one left me a bit blue.  I love the Quinn family she created in these books and I love the Nantucket setting in winter but I couldn't help but want a bit more from this ending.  That being said, I still recommend this series - now that they are all out, it would be perfect to binge read them during the holidays!
Winter Solstice comes out next week on October 3, 2017, and you can purchase HERE
The first weekend of December on Nantucket is Christmas Stroll. It has been this way Bart's entire life, but he never cared, barely noticed, and didn't think to celebrate. 
Until this year.  
Because this year he's in love.  
He's in love!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: The Copenhagen Affair by Amulya Malladi

Blurb from Goodreads:
Set in the capital city of the world’s happiest country, a comedy of manners about depression, the pressures of marriage, and the possibility of falling in love again, from the bestselling author of A House for Happy Mothers.

Sanya was always the perfect wife, but after a breakdown at her office, it’s her husband Harry’s turn to step up. His proposal? A temporary move to Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city. He needs to be there to close a business deal and figures the change of scenery will do her good. Soon Sanya goes from hiding under her duvet to hiding in plain sight—a dark-skinned Indian American in a city of blondes.

Within Copenhagen’s glamorous high society, one man stands out—not only because of his intriguing scar but because he sees Sanya in a way Harry hasn’t for years. Anders Ravn owns the company Harry wants to acquire, and soon Sanya begins to fall for him. As allegations of white-collar crime arise, she learns of Harry’s infidelity, and having an affair with Anders seems ever more tempting. Surrounded by old money, smoked fish on dark breads, and way too many bicycles, Sanya slowly moves from breakdown to breakthrough, but where will she end up—and with whom?
My Review:
Copenhagen is one of those cities that I loved visiting but I know that I would love living there even more so I was necessarily intrigued to read this book.  I was so pleasantly delighted by this book - not only did I laugh out loud but I really loved Sanya.  She was such a well developed character in the book that I never questioned her motivations or felt unsettled even when she surprised me.  I think this book perfectly set the tone of this city but also this feeling of a certain age in this world in which we now live.  I read this pretty quickly and can't wait to discover more form this author.

The Copenhagen Affair comes out next week on September 26, 2017 and you can purchase HERE.  I definitely recommend this one for fans of literary fiction, I enjoyed this one immensely!
It's a common mistake to assume that emotional baggage will disappear if one changes geographies. There are many who think that a change in weather is all that is needed to set everything that is wrong with a person right. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mini Reviews: Battle of the Opposites Attract Romances

Blurb from Goodreads:
Fairy tales aren't ever what they seem . . . 

Tuesday Knight's dream of Broadway stardom has flopped, leaving her unemployed and brokenhearted. Ready to quit kissing frogs and make her own happily-ever-after, she takes a job as a princess in Everland, Georgia's historical amusement park. 

Mayor Beau Marino lives an unenchanted existence-all work, no play-which is fine by him. After his marriage ended in disaster, the last thing he wants in his life is more drama. But Everland's new free spirit has a talent for getting under his starched collar. 

When the town's beloved but bankrupt park might be shut down, Tuesday and Beau face a choice. Can they join forces, save the day-and each other? Or will their fierce battle of wills destroy any chance of a fairy-tale ending? 
My Review:

I really tried with some one and ended up stopping around 51%.  Something about this felt super off-putting to me and I can't even put my finger on it. It is centered around an amusement park where Tuesday plays a princess.  So that was a bit weird but hen this business intrigue and espionage sort of revealed itself and I just didn't buy Beau and Tuesday being into each other.  I like opposites attract romances but this one just felt totally inauthentic.  Unfortunately this was my first book by this author and I've seen such good reviews of her other works.  Hopefully this one was just an anomaly and I will definitely try something else by her!
Tuesday had always vaguely assumed she'd have kids until two years ago, when a friend from high school had called to cry in desperation about her sleepless, sexless life. After that Tuesday had moved that particular life goal from her "Must do" list to "Maybe." Might be time to downgrade it to "Nope."

Blurb from Goodreads:
Everest. If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere. Maybe even New York, where Ruthie Knox takes her charming rom-com style to new heights.

Beneath her whole “classic English beauty” appearance is an indomitable spirit that has turned Rosemary Chamberlain into something of a celebrity mountain climber. But after an Everest excursion takes a deadly turn, Rosemary is rescued by her quick-thinking guide, New York native Kal Beckett. Rosemary’s brush with death brings out a primal need to celebrate life—and inspires a night of steamy sex with the rather gorgeous man who saved her.

The son of a famous female climber with a scandalous past, Kal Beckett is still trying to find himself. In the Zen state of mind where Kal spends most of his time, anything can happen—like making love to a fascinating stranger and setting off across the world with her the next morning. But as their lives collide in the whirlwind of passion that is New York City, the real adventure is clearly just beginning. . . . 
My Review:
This book was unique and wonderful! Rosemary and Kal couldn't be more opposite but somehow their coupling felt natural and organic. It starts off while they are both on Everest, Rosemary trying to summit and Kal as an ice doctor with mixed feelings about being back on Everest.  I won't tell you what happens next but it all felt very real.  My only complaint is that the conflict resolved a bit too easily for me and the ending came up quick.  I think a few other areas could have been shortened to develop the ending a bit better.  That being said, this was enjoyable and I highly recommend this entire trilogy.  You can read my review of book 2 in this trilogy HERE (note: they can definitely be read stand-alone!)
He would miss her face. He would miss seeing her when he woke up in the morning, spending time with her, hearing what she thought about things. Kal was no Buddhist, but he had enough of a basic grasp of chains of causation to understand that the fact that he'd invited Rosemary into his life, promised to help her with her book, and taken her home to meet his mom meant that for reasons he couldn't being to understand, this was what he wanted. Every action he'd taken since Everest had been leading him to this moment, the chain of causation a gigantic arrow pointing Kal toward the obvious reason why a man would upend his life for a woman, invite her into its messiest corners, want to tell her everything even when he couldn't quite bring himself to, want her to stick around, want her in his bed, want to buy her coffee. 
Well there was a definitely winner in this battle between opposites attract contemporary romances! The Corner of Forever and Always and Completely come out next week on September 26, 2017.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: Sleep Like a Baby (Aurora Teagarden #10) by Charlaine Harris

Blurb from Goodreads:
In the latest installment of the #1 New York Times Bestselling Charlaine Harris's Aurora Teagarden series, Robin and Aurora have finally begun their adventure in parenting. With newborn Sophie proving to be quite a handful, Roe's mother pays for a partially trained nurse, Virginia Mitchell, to come help the new parents for a few weeks. Virginia proves to be especially helpful when Robin has to leave town for work and Roe is struck with a bad case of the flu. 
One particularly stormy night, Roe wakes to hear her daughter crying and Virginia nowhere to be found. Roe's brother Philip helps her search the house and they happen upon a body outside... but it isn't Virginia's. Now, not only does she have a newborn to care for and a vulnerable new marriage to nurture, Roe also has to contend with a new puzzle - who is this mystery woman dead in their backyard, and what happened to Virginia? This heart-pounding and exciting next installment of the Aurora Teagarden series will leave fans happy and hungry for more.
My Review:
A few months ago I came down with the worst summer cold right before I had to travel across the country and give a huge presentation. I relegated myself to the guest bedroom for bed rest and remembered I had gotten an alert earlier in the day notifying me that my hold for the first book in the Aurora Teagarden series was finally available at the library.  I immediately downloaded it to my kindle, hoping it would suck me in and distract me from blowing my nose every 30 seconds.  IT DID! I spent the next three days reading books 1-9 in succession and devouring each and every word!  Perfect cozy mystery!  So when I heard that the 10th book was coming out shortly thereafter, I was stoked!  If you like this series, you will not be disappointed in this latest installment - Roe is Roe is Roe.  I love her so much! And it was fun to see her step into her new role as a mother. I won't divulge more but this one was great!

Sleep Like a Baby comes out later this month on September 26, 2017 and you can purchase HERE. I definitely recommend this series - it was so fun to read them all in sequence!
For just one moment, I was the only adult in the room. In my arms was the most important person in the world, Sophie Abigail Crusoe, two hours old. She's perfect, I thought, marveling. I'm the luckiest woman in the world. My daughter had just been presented to me as a swaddled bundle. I'd barely caught a glimpse of her as she emerged from her nine-months residence. Yielding to an irresistible urge, I unwrapped her just to make sure every part of her was present and in order.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review: Enigma (FBI Thriller #21) by Catherine Coulter

Blurb from Goodreads:
After Savich stops a crazy man from harming a pregnant woman, the man unexpectedly falls into a coma. Doctors discover a drug in his blood they can’t identify, and his only identification is a yellow wrist band marked E 2. Did this John Doe escape from a mental hospital? And why was he at the pregnant woman’s house? When her newborn baby is kidnapped from the hospital Savich realizes there’s a connection between the kidnapping and the unconscious John Doe. DNA tests uncover a startling fact: his cells are unlike any other—he’s an Enigma.

Savich and Sherlock and an FBI team of experts must find the kidnapped baby, uncover the link, and find out what bizarre drug was used on John Doe and, most important, why.

Meanwhile, Liam Hennessey, aka Manta Ray, a convicted bank robber, escapes from the Federal Marshals on his transport to a federal penitentiary. He and his “handlers” are seen going into the Daniel Boone National Forest. Savich sends Agents Cam Wittier and Jack Cabot after them.

Why break out this violent criminal? Or did the safe deposit box he stole and hid before he was captured contain something critically dangerous to someone? Wittier and Cabot are in hot pursuit. What they discover turns the case sideways.

Coulter's latest dual-plot thriller will keep you guessing as Savich, Sherlock, Abbott, and Wittier uncover surprise after surprise in this race against the clock until the shocking conclusions.
My Review:
Twenty one books into this series and you have to feel like it would be staid and predictable. And to a certain extent, it is, but I still enjoyed this one and its twists and turns.  I wasn't as surprised by the climax of it or the ending but it was a solid thriller.  What I don't love about the turn that this series has taken is that the romance has dropped out from it. This used to be one of my favorite romantic suspense series but now I would just call it a thriller series because there is truly zero romance. I am sure this is by design but I long for the earlier books and the romance along with the thrill.
Enigma comes out next week on September 12, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. This made up for a few of the last books in this series that I haven't loved but still isn't comparable for the first 15 or so books in this series that I couldn't put down.  You can read my review of book #20 in this series HERE.
"You really do look like a vampire in the moonlight," Cam said. "I could suggest using a tanning bed occasionally, might help keep people form trying to stake you."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy, Translated by Sam Taylor

Blurb from Goodreads:
On the big screen, Mia plays a woman in love. But in real life, she’s an actress in need of a break from her real-life philandering husband—the megastar who plays her romantic interest in the movies. So she heads across the English Channel to hide in Paris behind a new haircut, fake eyeglasses, and a waitressing job at her best friend’s restaurant.

Paul is an American author hoping to recapture the fame of his first novel. When his best friend surreptitiously sets him up with Mia through a dating website, Paul and Mia’s relationship status is “complicated.”

Even though everything about Paris seems to be nudging them together, the two lonely ex-pats resist, concocting increasingly far-fetched strategies to stay “just friends.” A feat easier said than done, as fate has other plans in store. Is true love waiting for them in a postscript? 
My Review:
This book was apparently popular in France and translated from French but something was certainly lost in its translation because I can't help but feel that this book has no soul. It could have been written by anyone, anytime and it read like bad fanfiction inspired after seeing Roman Holiday or Notting Hill.  I made myself finish this and I'm not sure why - nothing about it was redeeming.  The writing was fine, if simple, but I didn't care for the stories nor did I feel that the author was able to successfully write from a woman's POV.  His misogyny and lack of understanding pervaded the book.  I can't say I'd recommend this one.

P.S. from Paris comes out next week on September 1, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. Hopefully you have better luck with this one than I did!
In the mornings, they ate breakfast at Moustache's cafe and chatted. In the afternoons, they strolled around Paris. Paul bought all sorts of useless objects--kitchen utensils, knickknacks, clothes he would never wear, books he would never read, and gifts for his godson. Arthur tried to curb his sudden shopaholic tendencies, but to no avail.
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