Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Heat Wave by Nancy Thayer

Heat Wave
Author: Nancy Thayer
Published: June 21, 2011
Genre: chick lit
Hardcover: 304 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Making the startling discovery that her family finances are in dire straits is only the latest shock endured by Carley Winsted after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. Resisting her in-laws’ well-meaning overtures to take in Carley and her two daughters, the young widow instead devises a plan to keep her family in their beloved home, a grand historic house on the island of Nantucket. The solution is right at Carley’s front door: transforming her expensive, expansive house into a bed-and-breakfast. Not everyone, however, thinks this plan prudent or quite respectable—especially not Carley’s mother-in-law. Further complicating a myriad of challenges, a friend forces Carley to keep a secret that, if revealed, will undo families and friendships. When her late husband’s former law partner keeps showing up at the most unexpected times, Carley must cope with an array of mixed feelings. And then, during a late-summer heat wave, the lives of Carley and her friends and family will be forever changed in entirely unexpected ways. 

My Thoughts: I was so anxious for summer to start (since it's March and we've had several days in a row where the temperature was 70+), I decided to get my summer reading started early. I wanted to read this book last summer but never got around to it, so when I saw this on my library's shelf, I thought it would be the perfect pre-summer read. Unfortunately, this book fell far short of my expectations and left me shaking my head through much of it. 

Following Carley, a woman who is recently widowed and discovering that her husband squandered their savings and his life insurance policy, she has to come up with a way to make money for her and her two daughters. Now, instead of focusing on the difficulties of opening up a bed and breakfast and how her daughter's cope with the loss of their father, Nancy Thayer breezes through this as if it was mastering a new recipe in the kitchen. It was so unrealistic how easy it was for Carley to renovate her home and start having guests. She made it seem as if opening a business were so simple! Then, there were the characters. Carley was unlikeable as a main character. I didn't feel any of the grief of losing her husband or desperation to find a way to support her family. She just bobbed along like everything was hunky-dorey! Seriously, it was so cliche that she was able to cope with everything so well. On top of this, there was little to no mention of how her daughters dealt with the death of their father. The girls seemed fine and adjusted within a few weeks of the funeral. I know that life goes on, but everything was just smooth sailing in this book.

Also, I found Thayer's writing to be subpar with other authors. The way the characters spoke reminded me of how a seventh grader would write a story. Whenever there were three characters in a scene and one was speaking, they would address the other two multiple times in conversation. It wasn't authentic and felt so forced that it was hard to read at times.

I finished the book quickly, which is one of the few positives that I had with this book. The other positive was the setting. I enjoyed reading about Nantucket and felt that it was portrayed beautifully. It was an easy read but I'm not sure that I will ever read anything by Nancy Thayer again.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Marriage Plot
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Published: October 11, 2011
Genre: fiction
Hardcover: 406 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): It's the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine tries to understand why “it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France,” real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead—charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy—suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old “friend” Mitchell Grammaticus—who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange—resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate. Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can’t escape the secret responsible for Leonard’s seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love. Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.

My Thoughts: I haven't read any of Jeffrey Eugenides' other works, but when I read the description for this book a few months ago, I knew that I needed to start reading his books. And let me say, The Marriage Plot did not disappoint. As I was reading the book, I realized what so many other people have discovered about this amazing author (who happens to have a Pulitzer): his work is accessible but still literary, delving into themes that are relateable across the generations. In this novel, Eugenides explores human relationships, specifically those intimate relationships that might lead to marriage. The protagonist, Madeleine Hanna, is someone who adores the work of Jane Austen and wonders why it isn't as simple as it was back then: girl sees boy, some witty banter between them, then a marriage proposal. Can this be found in today's world, or have we progressed that point?

Eugenides' explores this topic without hitting you over the head with the plot. He does leave you wondering what all has changed from Austen's time to today. Why have we complicated relationships, feelings, and emotions? Why can't it be as simple as it was back then? I also liked how Eugenides explored the topic of dependency. We see it when Leonard depends on Madeleine and tries to learn if she can save someone else. Also, Mitchell's dependency on religion was something that I didn't appreciate until the end. While Mitchell longs for a relationship with Madeleine, he depends upon religion, researching and exploring a variety of faiths through his college courses and his travels abroad.

There are a variety of themes that Eugenides touches upon in this novel, but I won't talk about it too much. Yes, it's a literary work, but don't let that scare you away. The characters are real and multi-faceted. The plot is interesting and engaging. If you thought you might want to read the book but haven't yet, I encourage you to go and pick it up. Believe me, it won't disappoint.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Follow Friday and TGIF (4-27-12)

Happy Friday everyone! I hope that you had an enjoyable April ... I can't believe that it's May already! Well, I hope that you are able to enjoy the last weekend of the month ... now onto the Friday fun!

Parajunkee asks:

Have you ever had a character that disappointed you? 

The one that comes to mind immediately is Katniss (The Hunger Games). By the last book in the trilogy, she was just so annoying and whiney. I just wanted to slap her and tell her that she was acting like a child!

GReads asks:

Reading Blues: We all get them from time to time. What helps you overcome those reading slumps when nothing seems to grab your attention?

I'm actually going through a bit of a reading slump right now, so what a great question! I just try to ride it out and not push it. The other thing that helps is reading chick lit. For some reason, I can always read that and I don't feel like I'm in a slump.

So, have you ever been disappointed in a character? What do you do when you are going through a reading slump? Let me know, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (4-25-12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to Mission to Paris by Alan Furst (release date: October 11, 2011).

Synopsis (from It is the late summer of 1938, Europe is about to explode, the Hollywood film star Fredric Stahl is on his way to Paris to make a movie for Paramount France. The Nazis know he’s coming—a secret bureau within the Reich Foreign Ministry has for years been waging political warfare against France, using bribery, intimidation, and corrupt newspapers to weaken French morale and degrade France’s will to defend herself.
 For their purposes, Fredric Stahl is a perfect agent of influence, and they attack him. What they don’t know is that Stahl, horrified by the Nazi war on Jews and intellectuals, has become part of an informal spy service being run out of the American embassy in Paris. From Alan Furst, the bestselling author, often praised as the best spy novelist ever, comes a novel that’s truly hard to put down. Mission to Paris includes beautifully drawn scenes of romance and intimacy, and the novel is alive with extraordinary characters: the German Baroness von Reschke, a famous hostess deeply involved in Nazi clandestine operations; the assassins Herbert and Lothar; the Russian film actress and spy Olga Orlova; the Hungarian diplomat and spy, Count Janos Polanyi; along with the French cast of Stahl’s movie, German film producers, and the magnetic women in Stahl’s life, the socialite Kiki de Saint-Ange and the émigré Renate Steiner. But always at the center of the novel is the city of Paris, the heart and soul of Europe—its alleys and bistros, hotels grand and anonymous, and the Parisians, living every night as though it was their last. As always, Alan Furst brings to life both a dark time in history and the passion of the human hearts that fought to survive it.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Audiobook Review: Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham

Sleeping Arrangements
Author: Madeleine Wickham
Published: January 1, 2002
Genre: chick lit
Audiobook 7 CDs
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Two families, one holiday villa – who’s sleeping with whom? Chloe needs a holiday. She’s sick of making wedding dresses, her partner Philip has troubles at work, the whole family wants a break. Her wealthy friend Gerard has offered the loan of his luxury villa in Spain – perfect. Hugh is not a happy man. His immaculate wife Amanda seems more interested in her new kitchen than in him, and he works so hard to pay for it, he barely has time for his children. Maybe he’ll have a chance to bond with them on holiday. His old friend Gerard has lent them a luxury villa in Spain – perfect. Both families arrive at the villa and realize the awful truth – Gerard has double-booked. What no-one else realizes is that Chloe and Hugh have a history, and as tensions rise within the two families, old passions resurface. It seems that Gerard’s ‘accidental’ double booking may not be an accident after all.

My Thoughts: Madeleine Wickham, aka Sophie Kinsella, is my go-to audiobook author. Her work is funny, light, and a great listen. While parts of Sleeping Arrangements had it's funny moments, it was just a little too much for me to enjoy. Following two families who are accidentally booked at a friend's villa for the same week, you come to learn that Chloe and Hugh, who are with different partners now, have a history. It never seemed like much of a history for me, though, and Hugh seemed to overplay their relationship in his mind (at least, that's how it felt to me). The chemistry between the four adults was off and wasn't what I've come to expect in Wickham/Kinsella novels. To me, the best part of this book was Phillip and his job. His company was recently bought out and he will find out when he comes back from vacation whether or not he still has a job. As it turns out, Hugh works for the company that bought Phillip's company. I thought this could have been explored more and made for a more complete plot.

While I certainly won't stop reading Wickham/Kinsella novels because of this one, it does make me a bit skeptical to pick up another Wickham novel. I think they are a bit more serious than the Kinsella ones.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Before Ever After
Author: Samantha Sotto
Published: August 2, 2011
Genre: contemporary fiction
Hardcover: 297 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max; same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose; he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well. As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem; how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down; if it is really Max and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

My Thoughts: This was a fantastic debut novel, perhaps one of the best first novels by any author that I have ever read. While I would classify it as contemporary fiction, there's also historical fiction and mystery thrown into the mix, as well. I won't restate the synopsis in my review (since it's right above here), but the premise of the book is something that seemed new to me. Yes, there are many books that deal with immortality, but it has never been discussed in this way and presented as it is in this novel. The chapters jump around in time, sometimes going all the way back to AD 79 all the way through the present day. You learn who Max is and how he became immortal through these histoical vignettes that Samantha Sotto throws in.

The characters in this book are very well written. Shelley is a woman dealing with the loss of her husband, only to discover that he is still alive and on a tropical islands in the Phillipines. Watching her discover and learn about her husband's past, using the story of how they met on a European tour, was pretty cool. As she recounts her story, you can tell that the wheels are going to start clicking inside her head that everything was not as it seemed when they first met. I thought that Paolo could have developed a little bit more, because I felt like his character was just thrust into the story, but it didn't ruin the book in anyway for me. And the best part of this book? The ending! It wasn't at all what I thought was going to happen, and it's what made this a four star book for me. It was surprising and delicious and left me satisfied but wanting more from Sotto! It was fantastic.

I cannot wait to see what Sotto will put out in the future. Based on her first novel, I think she has a great career ahead of her. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Follow Friday and TGIF (4-20-12)

Happy Friday everybody! Ready for a fun weekend? I'm working all weekend, so there won't be much fun to be had, but I am off today, so I plan to try and enjoy some of this beautiful weather that we are having (high of 80 and sunny today!) and then watching some NHL playoffs tonight (any Pens fans out there?!?) Well, onto the Friday fun!

Parajunkee asks:

Fight! Fight! If you could have two fictional characters battle it out (preferably from books), who would it be and who do you think would win?

Hmm, not really sure! I don't tend to think, I wish these two would fight! Maybe Peeta nd Gale could have fought in The Hunger Games (I only thought of that because I just read the trilogy a week or two ago).

GReads asks:

Book Blogger Influences: Has there been a particular 
that convinced you to pick up a certain book.
book blogger who's influenced what you read? Share with us a review/book blog 

I tend to read only books that I've seen reviewed on other blogs (I'm becoming so picky!) But it's not always good reviews that make me want to read a book ... sometimes, it's those bad reviews that pique my interest and have me running out to find a certain book. Jessica Lawlor did a review on an audiobook a few months ago, which made me run out and pick it up. And I'm so glad that I did, because it was a great listen!

So, which fictional fight would you enjoy? Which blogger has influenced you? Let me know, and have a happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (4-18-12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly awaiting. This week, my pick is: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (expected publication date: September 27, 2012).

Synopsis (from 

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

I'm sure that many people will have this book as their Waiting On pick this week! I know that I am so excited to see what Rowling has up her sleeve, and it's sure to be one of the most popular books of the year! 

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (4-17-12)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:

Tips For New Book Bloggers

1) Have fun! (probably the most important thing. If you aren't having fun, then don't blog)

2) Reach out to other bloggers (don't be scared to comment/message/email other bloggers. Whether it be to say how much to like their blog to asking a question. I consider the book blogging community to be a group of really nice people, so don't be scared to talk with others!)

3) Keep your blog simple (make sure that your blog looks like you, but don't do to much. Those blogs that have tons of graphics, flashing stickers, ads/links all over the place, they are so distracting. Honestly, when I click onto these sites, the moment I see all that stuff, I close out without reading a thing.)

4) Do what works for you (don't feel the pressure to do what everyone else is doing! If you don't like doing memes, then don't. If you like doing movie reviews and book reviews, go for it! Just do what works for you!)

5) Don't stress (if you feel stressed from blogging, then take a break. You should never feel pressure to read/do something.)

6) Don't be afraid to try new things! (whether it's trying out a different review style, rating system, or genre, go ahead and try things out. You won't ever figure out what you like until you try something out.)

7) It's not all about the numbers (don't worry if you don't have tons of readers or pageviews. Some of my favorite blogs don't have tons of readers. And that's okay! Just because you don't have a lot of readers doesn't mean that you aren't a good blogger!)

8) Be honest (when reviewing books, be honest! If you didn't like a book, say it. If you hated it, say that! I hate when people beat around the bush because they didn't like something instead of coming out and saying it.)

9) Don't feel contained (if you tend to read chick lit, don't feel like that's all you should read. Branch out and try new genres! I love blogs who don't stick to one thing ... remember, variety is the spice of life!)

10) BE YOU!!! (perhaps the most important tip of all. Don't try to conform to the group. If you don't like YA, don't feel the pressure to follow all those other bloggers who love YA (I feel like a lot of bloggers do this!) And if you aren't being true to who you are, it can come across in your blog!)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Audiobook Review: Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Remember Me?
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Published: February 26, 2008
Genre: chick lit
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): When twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, she’s in for a big surprise. Her teeth are perfect. Her body is toned. Her handbag is Vuitton. Having survived a car accident—in a Mercedes no less—Lexi has lost a big chunk of her memory, three years to be exact, and she’s about to find out just how much things have changed. Somehow Lexi went from a twenty-five-year-old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, a personal assistant, a carb-free diet, and a set of glamorous new friends. And who is this gorgeous husband—who also happens to be a multimillionaire? With her mind still stuck three years in reverse, Lexi greets this brave new world determined to be the person she…well, seems to be. That is, until an adorably disheveled architect drops the biggest bombshell of all. Suddenly Lexi is scrambling to catch her balance. Her new life, it turns out, comes complete with secrets, schemes, and intrigue. How on earth did all this happen? Will she ever remember? And what will happen when she does? 

My Thoughts: I love listening to Sophie Kinsella audiobooks, and this story is exactly why I love to do that. Kinsella has an independent leading lady (in this case, Lexi Smart), a situation that arises but isn't completely out there or unrealistic (here, Lexi developed amnesia) and throw in a good guy and lots of laughs, and you have Kinsella's books. They are never completely predictable, as the ending in this one was not what I expected, and they keep me laughing throughout the entire reading.

I loved the character of Lexi. She was so real to me and I could see myself in her shoes (if I were British). Kinsella always makes her lead characters believable and relatable, which is yet another reason why I love her novels. Lexi developed throughout the story, which you think would be hard to do since she's suffering from amnesia, but you can see how she matures in her thinking and how she sees the world. I won't put any spoilers in here, but the ending was not what I thought it would be, which I really liked. I kept on waiting and waiting for the story to finish up how I thought it would, but Kinsella doesn't wrap it up perfectly with a bow on top. It's definitely wrapped up, but not at all what you would expect.

I cannot wait to get another Kinsella audiobook to read. If you are wondering about audiobooks or what are some good ones to listen to, then I would recommend Sophie Kinsella. They are perfect for listening to while driving!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Follow Friday and TGIF (4-13-12)

Happy Friday, everyone! Having a good week? Finish your taxes yet? I hope so ... I have heard several people that I work with go, "When do I have to file my taxes by?!?" It seems to sneak up every year! Well, onto the Friday fun ...

Parajunkee asks:

What is one book that you would be nervous to see a movie adaptation of because you think the movie could never live up to the book?

Well, the most recent book that comes to mind is The Night Circus. I just can't imagine anyone being able to create this dream world that Erin Morgenstern has crafted, but I could be surprised. I have always loved the movie adaptations of Harry Potter and think that they did a great job or matching the fantasy world that J.K. Rowling created in her novels.

GReads asks:

If you could read a book about any song, 
which song would you love to see written down in story form?

Great question! There are quite a few songs that I think would make really great books. "A Song For You" by Donny Hathaway is such a great love song, and one that focuses on a love that has been spanning over many years. "Should've Said No" by Taylor Swift would be another good one (just because I love jamming to that song ... and wouldn't we all love to see how one of Taylor's break-ups went down?). "Friends In Low Places" by Garth Brooks. Yeah, it's a country song, but the first verse is such a great scene, that I would love to see how everything would be thrown down!

Blame it all on my roots
I showed up in boots
And ruined your black tie affair
The last one to know
The last one to show
I was the last one
You thought you'd see there
And I saw the surprise
And the fear in his eyes
When I took his glass of champagne
And I toasted you
Said, honey, we may be through
But you'll never hear me complain 

(Friends In Low Places)

So, what book would you dread seeing a movie adaptation of? Which songs do you think would make great books? Let me know, and have a great weekend!

Review: Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Midnight in Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
Published: January 31, 2012
Genre: chick lit
Hardcover: 277 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies. Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love? 

My Thoughts: I have not read any of Shannon Hale's other books, but with so many books under her belt, I felt like I should give her a try. Unfortunately, this book didn't live up to the expectations that I had for it. I picked up the book hoping for a chick lit book based in the world of Jane Austen, with some Austen references thrown in. However, after a brief mention at the beginning that Charlotte (the main character) had picked up Pride and Prejudice, there wasn't much else to do with Austen. Sure, the main setting was a resort set in the Regency era, but there didn't seem to be much to make a connection between why these grown adults were playing dress up and Austen's books.

The writing was good and I did like how Hale is in the character's head, expressing what their true thoughts are (even the sarcastic ones). She really tapped into Charlotte's thoughts and I enjoyed learning more about her character from the internal monologues. But the writing wasn't enough to make me want more pertaining to Austen. I finished the novel feeling disappointed, feeling like I was fooled into believing that there would be more substance than there actually was.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (4-11-12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly awaiting. This week, my pick is: Summer Breeze by Nancy Thayer (expected publication date: June 5, 2012).

Synopsis (from Morgan O’Keefe feels trapped in a gilded cage. True, the thirty-year-old mother agreed to put her science career on hold to raise her young son while her husband  pursued his high-powered job. But though Morgan loves many things about staying home with her child, she misses the thrill of working with her colleagues in the lab. She’s restless and in dire need of a change. Fed up with New York City’s hectic pace, Natalie Reynolds takes up her aunt’s offer to move to the Berkshires and house-sit her fabulous lakeside house for a year. Passionate about applying brush to canvas, Natalie is poised to become the artist she has forever longed to be. But life on Dragonfly Lake is never without surprises, and for a novice swimmer like Natalie, the most welcome surprise proves to be the arms of a handsome neighbor pulling her up from the water for a gulp of air. When her mother breaks her leg, Bella Barnaby quits her job in Austin and returns home to help out her large, boisterous family. Among her new duties: manning the counter at the family business, Barnaby’s Barn, an outdated shop sorely in need of a makeover. While attractive architect Aaron has designs on her, Bella harbors long held secret dreams of her own. Summer on Dragonfly Lake is ripe for romance, temptation, and self-discovery as the lives of these three women unexpectedly intertwine. Summer Breeze illustrates how the best of friends can offer comfort, infuriate, or even—sometimes—open one’s eyes to the astonishing possibilities of life lived in a different way. This captivating novel displays a prestigiously gifted writer at the height of her storytelling powers.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (4-10-12)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:

Books That Were Totally Deceiving

1) The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen - I thought this book would take place in the past (or at least most of the book would be set in the past), but there was only one chapter that wasn't present day! I was a little disappointed with this.

2) Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison - okay, the summary of this book is in no way related to the plot! I wish they hadn't put any summary on the book so I wouldn't have been so misled.

3) The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine - while the summary of this book is somewhat correct, I was disappointed that it wasn't so much about the neighbors interacting as much as invididuals who happen to live on the same street.

4) Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister - the description of this book is so far and away from what the actual story is! Huge disappointment!

5) Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky - while this book matched up with the summary, I thought it would be more focused on the disparity between what a mother wants and her daughter. Instead, it's mostly the mother whining about how everyone is lashing out about what has happened (a pregnancy pact).

6) The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova - I thought this was going to be an art mystery spanning decades, but for most of the story, you are lost inside this psychologist trying to figure out what is wrong with his patient. A bit of a letdown.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs #2)
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Published: January 1, 2004
Genre: mystery
Hardcover: 311 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): An eventful year has passed for Maisie Dobbs. Since starting a one-woman private investigation agency in 1929 London, she now has a professional office in Fitzroy Square and an assistant, the happy-go-lucky Billy Beale. She has proven herself as a psychologist and investigator, and has even won over Detective Inspector Stratton of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad - an admirable achievement for a woman who worked her way from servant to scholar to sleuth, and who also served as battlefield nurse in The Great War. It's now early Spring of 1930, Stratton is investigating a murder case in Coulsden, while Maisie has been summoned to Dulwich to find a runaway heiress. The woman is the daughter of Joseph Waite, a wealthy self-made man who has lavished her with privilege but kept her in a gilded cage. His domineering ways have driven her off before, and now she's bolted again. Waite's instructions are to find his daughter and bring her home. When Maisie looks into the disappearance she finds a chilling link to Stratton's murder case, and to the terrible legacy of The Great War.

My Thoughts: Continuing with the Maisie Dobbs series, I jumped into this novel with great anticipation. I really enjoyed the first book and was looking forward to reading the next book in the series. This time around, Maisie has a few more clients under her belt and is comfortable with how her business is proceeding. With her latest case, she is searching for a missing girl, but her search expands into finding a murderer who is killing a group of friends. The premise of the novel is intriguing, but the story does move a bit slowly. The historical details in the book are wonderful and it's clear that Winspear has done her research into this time period. The way she describes the fashion of the time is fantastic and I can envision what the women are wearing. However, that doesn't always help to move the book along, making it long at times. 

I liked how Winspear allows World War I to still play a part in her novel, although we are ten years removed from the conflict. She conveys how deeply it affected people, even though it happened a decade before. I also liked how she centered this novel on the pain of war, in many different aspects. There is the physical pain that Maisie's assistant, Billy Beale, experiences from an old war wound. There is the pain that Maisie feels for losing her love to the war. And there is the pain that a parent feels at losing their child. It was nice to read how the pain of war can affect people in so many different ways. I cannot wait to continue with this series and see Maisie continue to grow as a character. If you are looking for a series to take up, I would recommend this one. While it is a mystery series, it's never too gory.