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Showing posts from April, 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper: AKA A Widower's Journey Into His Wife's Past

Love, love, love Arthur Pepper. Phaedra Patrick's debut is a story that's making its way to my keeper shelf, and it charmed me for many reasons. I'm going to start with the setting. York was home to my dad's god daughter, it's a city I've been to many times, but it was mention of Bridlington (where many members of my family live) and even talk of Sir Alan Ayckbourn, a playwright/director who I learned of as a child when my uncle wrote a play that ended up on stage at the Scarborough in the Round festival that Sir Alan Ayckbourn was part of. As a result, the setting and some references ended up feeling very real to me. After four decades of marriage, the death of his wife has left Arthur Pepper reeling. Even one year later, he's maintaining the same routine as they did as a couple, but he's alone. He's hiding from a neighborhood woman, getting up at the exact same hour, and having little interaction with his neighbors and children. When he dec

Bright and Colorful: Flora and the Peacocks

Molly Idle's latest Flora book is beautifully crafted with bold colors and a complete story told without words. For children who are in the very early stages of being ready to read, this is an ideal learning tool. There are no words, but the images tell the story perfectly. There are also flip-ups for children to explore what lies beneath. It's due to be released on May 3rd. Flora loves to dance, and this time her dancing partners are not one but two peacocks. The problem is that the peacocks may not be as willing to share. What will Flora do? The illustrations, done by Molly Idle , a former DreamWorks Animations artist, are bright and capture the colors of a peacock's feathers. If you're new to Flora, these books stand alone, but they're also a lot of fun, so you may want to pick up the other two books involving flamingos and penguins. These books are worthy of being on a keeper shelf. Flora and the Flamingo earned a Caldecott Honor. Look for them at Chro

Fictional Rom-Com: Meternity by Meghann Foye

Imagine a workplace where you, as a single woman with no children, are treated like a servant. Moms are given priority on days off. When they can't finish work, it's assigned to you in rush assignments. That's the life Liz Buckley is living in Meternity . She's tired of writing articles on expensive baby products, ways to shed pregnancy pounds, and other articles targeted to new moms. Her job as editor at Paddy Cakes magazine has her working incredibly long hours as she covers for the other women in the office. When she's told to cancel her dream trip to Paris, Liz has had enough. Someone suggests she's pregnant after she gets sick (stress), so she runs with it. Suddenly, Liz finds out what it's like to be on the other side, with people pandering to her. Liz realizes that she can make her dreams come true and use her "maternity leave" to travel and try to get her start as a travel writer. Soon, Liz is wearing fake pregnancy bellies, leaving

The Art of Not Breathing - Teen Fiction From Sarah Alexander

The Art of Not Breathing is a new debut novel from Sarah Alexander . Bottom line for me, I liked it, but boy did I not like the parents and that made some sections tough to read. Since her twin brother disappeared five years ago, Elsie Main struggles with blame and a family that's falling apart. She cannot remember everything that happened, but she knows even though her brother's body was never recovered, it's believed he drowned. Since that day, Elsie's parents seem unable to function and her older brother is no better. After spending another birthday with her parents grieving her twin and practically ignoring her, Elsie winds up at the harbor where she meets a mysterious teen boy, Tay. Her private refuge within the boathouse has been discovered, but her friendship with Tay seems worth it, especially since he's offered to teacher her the art of freediving. Freediving seems like Elsie's best chance to get back into the water and find out what really happ

The Color of Water in July: An Emotional Trip Back for One Likable Heroine

Nora Carroll, aka Elizabeth Letts , takes reader to a lakeside community where old secrets changed many lives. The Color of Water in July is an emotional story that brings one family's history to light. It's been close to two decades since Jess Carpenter's seen her grandmother's summer home on Pine Lake in Michigan. Now that she's inherited the property, she's back to go through the items within the home and get it ready to sell. Little does Jess know, her past is about to come to light. When she was 17, Jess fell madly in love with a boy her grandmother didn't approve of. Events happened that changed relationships and Jess's life goals. Now all these years later, Jess uncovers some letters that uncover a more startling truth. one that has the power to make Jess reconsider everything she's known and the path her life ended up taking. The setting is one of the things that drew me into The Color of Water in July . That lakeside community cam

Head to Australia With Helen Brown's New Novel

Due out on April 26th, Helen Brown's Tumbledown Manor takes the reader to Australia. This work of women's fiction introduces Lisa Trumperton as she starts a new life far, far from her old one. Writer Lisa Trumperton is happy to have have her family and friends around for her birthday, but she never expects to learn in front of them all that her "loving" husband is a lying, cheating jerk. During her party, flowers are delivered. Those flowers turn out to be a mistake the florist made. They mixed up an order her husband placed for his mistress. With her world shattered, Lisa leaves New York City and returns to Australia where she purchases her family's ancestral home, a run-down estate called Trumperton Manor. With the help of her son, his friends, a group of retired locals known as the Gray Army, and a very handsome landscaper, Lisa soon finds herself far more than a home in this Australian town. I often will spot cover art that entices me to read a book. T

Move Over Stephanie Plum, Margie Peterson's Here to Make Readers Laugh

Fans of Stephanie Plum need to give the Margie Peterson Mystery Series a shot. Without the romantic triangle that Plum is caught up in (something I got tired of around the 9th book), Margie is new to being an assistant P.I., and she certainly finds herself in uproarious situations in Mother Knows Best . Margie's life is in shambles. Her husband was caught with a drag queen, though he claims it was a one-time thing and is going to a retreat that should "cure" him. Her daughter is acting like a dog and about to start at a new private school her grandparents are paying for. Worse, Margie's boss calls her to a crime scene where they move a body to help a young prostitute. Turns out the victim is the headmaster at the school Margie's daughter is about to attend. While moving the body, Margie accidentally drops her best friend's business card, putting her friend to the top of the suspect list. Like any cozy mystery, there are situations that seem too absurd t

What Remains of Me: New Novel From Alison Gaylin

Hardcover William Morrow. 9780062369857 Reviewed by Bob Walch Set in Hollywood, this beguiling thriller has some interesting and surprising twists that will make even the most sophisticated reader shake his or her head in wonder. Kelly Michelle Lund becomes a media sensation when she shoots an Oscar-nominated director at a party in his posh Hollywood Hills home. During her trial the teenager refuses to explain her motive for the crime. Now three decades after her conviction, Kelly is out of prison but she’s now in trouble e again after her father-in-law has been killed. Because he was a friend of the man Kelly was convicted of killing and a movie legend in his own right, the woman heads the suspect list for this latest crime. Questions abound about this mysterious woman who some believe was not responsible for the first death or this latest one. These people may want to help her clear her name, but you may wonder if Kelly isn’t manipulating

Paula Treick DeBoard - The Drowning Girls

MIRA is releasing Paula Treick DeBoard's The Drowning Girls on April 26th. This book is guaranteed to frustrated sensible readers. I don't know exactly how I'd classify it. It's marketed as a suspense novel, which is partly true, but realistically, it's more like a life situation of a train wreck that you can see happening but are helpless to stop it. It's a dream come true. When Liz McGinnis's husband is offered a job at a pricey gated community, they find themselves with a gigantic new home, new friends, and a whole new lifestyle. Liz, a school counselor, is equally surprised when one of the neighborhood's popular girls takes Danielle, Liz's quiet, geeky daughter, under her wing and Danielle blossoms. It all just seems too good to be true. Soon, Liz finds her world crumbling around her. Danielle's becoming secretive, as is Liz's husband, Phil. Strange things are happening within the community that are leaving lasting marks on Phil&#

How Well Do You Really Want to Know The Girl From Home?

Adam Mitzner's The Girl From Home is a touch of suspense, a bit of a mystery, and part of a legal thriller rolled into one. Here's the issue, I didn't like any of the characters. Jonathan Caine has it all. He's a Wall Street guru. He has a younger, desirable wife. He has his penthouse condo in Manhattan and is looking into a summer home in Long Island. He even has his cherished Bentley. Jonathan also takes some risks and it's those risks that land him in a lot of hot water. Suddenly, Jonathan has no job, no home, and no money. His dad's health is declining, so he heads to his childhood home to spend time with his father while he has the chance. While in town, he attends his 25th high school reunion. There, he chats with Jackie, the girl who had it all, and soon the pair are on the brink of more than friendship, something Jackie's abusive husband will not approve of. Jonathan is as unlikable as they come. Early in the story, he's handed a $15 mi

Will You Won't You Want Me?: Lighthearted Romance/Women's Fiction

St. Martin's Griffin has a very lighthearted, sometimes poignant romance/women's fiction novel coming out on April 19th. Will You Won't You Want Me? is the latest novel from Nora Zelevansky . I'd say this is a pretty good mix of women's fiction, chick lit, and romance. It's a book I found myself uncertain if I'd like the main character, and then realizing that in a lot of ways, she embodies many women I know. I soon came to admire her. For Marjorie Plum - Madgesty to some  - high school is something she never was truly prepared to leave behind. She ruled the roost. Fast-forward a decade and she's not really sure what her life should be. Her job's okay, but nothing more than okay, and her boss is pure evil. Her friends have moved on to permanent relationships or raising families. Her goal is still to rule the roost, but the rug gets pulled out from under her, and suddenly she's not so sure who she really is or what her life needs to be to m

Writing Contest: How Good a Poet Are You?

I know that you love to read, but how are you at writing? Author Howard Eisenberg has a new contest for anyone interested in writing a poem. Entering is so easy. Write a review in poetic fashion about the book once you've read it, and post that poem/review on  Howard Eisenberg's Amazon page , and email the link to . The winner of this fun contest wins a copy of Howard's latest children's book, Adorable Scoundrels . Howard Eisenberg's contest runs from April 1st to April 30th.

Heart Like Mine: Likable Characters In a Vermont Setting

Having been born and raised in Vermont, I always love finding books that are set in Vermont. My assumption is that Heart Like Mine is set down towards Rutland. There is an Echo Lake down that way, and many references within the book put the location as two hours south of Burlington, so Rutland area fits. Judging from a blog I found, Maggie McGinnis must live in Vermont, which is why so many details are spot on. It's a change of pace from one Vermont-based romance I read long ago where the author had every character saying "ay-up" constantly. Something that I only hear on a rare occasion in the Northeast Kingdom. Delaney Blair is saddened when she's handed the task of deeply trimming the budget of Mercy Hospital's pediatric department. The department already runs on a skeleton crew and limited supplies, so any cuts will be unbearable. Dr. Josh Mackenzie cannot lose more money from his department. He sees Delaney's first proposal and asks her to spend a w

Sonja Yoerg - The Middle of Somewhere

Here's a story that I loved and hated all at the same time. Is this inherently bad? I don't think so. It means the author did a great job building suspense and characters I cared about, but I definitely questioned their decisions! In Sonja Yoerg's The Middle of Somewhere , a September 2015 paperback release from NAL , Liz Kroft plans to hike from Yosemite Valley and complete the John Muir Trail. She's a widow with hidden secrets and needs some time to clear her head. She isn't thrilled when her boyfriend decides to join her, but she can't tell him now. On the trail, they encounter a number of people. There's an older couple and an actor studying for his next role, but it's a couple brothers who have Liz feeling very uneasy. Suddenly her quest to clear her mind becomes one that might be one of survival. The setting comes to life through Sonja Yoerg's words. Despite her flaws, lies, and other issues, I even found myself liking Liz, and I defin

The Obsession - Nora Roberts

It's been a couple years since I picked up a Nora Roberts book. Definitely is my bad. Reading The Obsession made me realize how much I miss her writing. On a hot, humid night, young Naomi Bowes spied her father heading into the woods. She followed thinking he was going for a late night swim. What Naomi really sees changes her life. Her father is holding a young woman captive in an abandoned root cellar. Naomi rescues the woman and brings her to the police. With her father in jail, Naomi's life starts anew in the care of her shocked mother and an uncle she barely knows. Years pass. Naomi is now a talented photographer and owner of one house on the west coast. She cannot imagine what led her to purchase the former inn, but she has a vision for what this home could be that she cannot ignore. The community of Sunrise Cove takes her in, and she can't help but feel a growing attraction to the local mechanic, one Xander Keaton. As much as Naomi would love to think she