Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Julie's Review: Black Rabbit Hall

Author: Eve Chase
Series: None
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Putnam Books
Pages: 384
Obtained: from a friend
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: A well woven story with a house that needs to tell a story
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Summary: Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate, where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, of course, it does. More than three decades later, Lorna is determined to be married within the grand, ivy-covered walls of Pencraw Hall, known as Black Rabbit Hall among the locals. But as she’s drawn deeper into the overgrown grounds, half-buried memories of her mother begin to surface and Lorna soon finds herself ensnared within the manor’s labyrinthine history, overcome with an insatiable need for answers about her own past and that of the once-happy family whose memory still haunts the estate. Stunning and atmospheric, this debut novel is a thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by the dark and tangled secrets of Black Rabbit Hall.  

Review: Black Rabbit Hall is a novel that take a bit to find it's legs. It is a slow moving story that sucks you slowly in, until it has its claws in you. Black Rabbit Hall has a story to tell you as a reader because it is very much the character who reveals all the secrets of the family. The Alton's are a happy family who takes respite at the Cornwall family house. It is where they go to relax and run around being carefree. Nancy Alton is the matriarch of the family but she isn't your typical British mother, she allows her kids to be who they are and to experience life.

We meet Lorna who is trying to find Pencraw Hall so she can have her wedding there but it's not so easy to find and her fiance, Jon, is about to call off the search when they happen upon it.  Lorna is drawn to the house immediately. She feels an instant connection to it but really can't explain why to anyone.

As a reader what you want to know is how is Lorna connected to Pencraw Hall? Is it just the history of it? Is it just that she loves old houses with history? What is with the mysterious Mrs. Alton? What is her tie to the house?

How do Amber and her siblings grow up and survive their devastating loss? Will their family ever be the same?

It wasn't that you couldn't see where the story was going but you really just wanted the pieces of all the puzzles to fall into place. I enjoyed the journey that Ms. Chase took us on and it was definitely reminiscent of a Kate Morton novel.


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Monday, July 25, 2016

Julie's Review: The Assistants

Author: Camille Perri
Series: None
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Putnam Books
Pages: 288
Obtained: borrowed via a friend
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: A laugh out loud novel about taking things into your own hands
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Summary: Tina Fontana is the hapless but brazen thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making his reservations for restaurants she’d never get into on her own and pouring his drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, she’s bored, broke, and just a bit over it all. When a technical error with Robert’s travel-and-expenses report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she struggles with the decision: She’s always played by the rules. But it’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation—and for her it would be a life-changer . . . The Assistants speaks directly to a new generation of women who feel stuck and unable to get ahead playing by the rules. It will appeal to all of those who have ever asked themselves, “How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?”  

Review: The Assistants is the not to miss novel of 2016. You will seriously spend your time reading this book either laughing out loud or snickering. That's not to say it's not without merit. What would you do if your career isn't exactly what you thought it was and to top it off that college education is drowning you? Would you take an opportunity that pretty much fell in your lap? Would you know when to stop? All of these happen to Tina Fontana.

I really don't want to say more about the plot because I'll blow it and you need to read it yourself. I will say that I loved the characters. They were a rag tag bunch that ended up being in cohorts but in the end you could tell that they had solid friendships; especially Emily and Tina. Tina's always pretty much gone with the flow, she's never had her own voice in her own life. This situation pretty much makes her take charge of her life and frankly the life of others.

If you are looking for a quick, funny, astute summer then you can't and won't want to miss The Assistants.


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Friday, July 22, 2016

Julie's Review: Lost Along the Way

Author: Erin Duffy
Series: None
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction,Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Sometimes you need your old friends to remind you of who you used to be
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Summary: All through childhood and adolescence, Jane, Cara, and Meg swore their friendship would stand the test of time. Nothing would come between them, they pledged. But once they hit their twenties, life got more complicated and the BFFs began to grow distant. When Jane eloped with her slick, wealthy new boyfriend and didn’t invite her oldest friends to the ceremony, the small cracks and fissures in their once rock-solid relationship became a chasm that tore them apart.
Ten years later, when her husband is arrested and publicly shamed for defrauding his clients, Jane realizes her life among the one percent was a sham. Penniless and desperate, deserted by the high-society crowd who turn their surgically perfected noses up at her, she comes crawling back to her childhood friends seeking forgiveness. But Cara and Meg have troubles of their own. One of them is trapped in a bad marriage with an abusive husband, while the other can't have the one thing she desperately wants: a baby. Yet as much as they’d love to see Jane get her long overdue comeuppance, Cara and Meg won’t abandon their old friend in her time of need. The story of three friends who find themselves on a laugh-out-loud life adventure, Lost Along the Way illuminates the moments that make us, the betrayals that break us, and the power of love that helps us forgive even the most painful hurts.
Review: Lost Along the Way is about the power of female friendships and how sometimes no matter how much time passes you can still come back together. Jane, Meg and Cara have been estranged for some time because of things said and things unsaid but they are the only 2 people Jane feels she can count on when things come crashing down on her. Of course it's a bit of a bumpy road because well Jane doesn't always think before putting things in motion.

Cara's life is out of control. She doesn't even know who she is anymore. Her husband is a tool to the nth degree and she has no out. Nothing she does is good enough and up to his standards. She looks the part but is anything but up to it. How did she become this person? How can she go back to the spunky, smart and athletic person she used to be?

Meg is a shell of the person she used to be. She's always wanted to be a mom but it seems like it's not in the cards for her and her husband. She closes herself off to every one. Even going as far as locking herself away in their beach town.

At first it doesn't look like Jane's plan of getting them together again, is going to really work. Since they all haven't been on speaking terms, Jane has no clue that Meg and Cara had their own falling out and there's quite some bad blood there as well.

I liked that they had the guts to call each other other on their crap but didn't take it too far. At some point they had to decide to put the past in the past and move on. I liked how they found strength in each other and built off of that to find strength in themselves.

If you are looking for a great novel on how women can empower each other through friendship, then look no further than Lost Along the Way.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Julie's Review: The Hopefuls

Author: Jennifer Close
Series: None
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher via Edelweiss
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Bottom Line: A fine example of why friends shouldn't work for friends
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Summary:  A brilliantly funny novel about ambition and marriage from the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses, The Hopefuls tells the story of a young wife who follows her husband and his political dreams to Washington, DC, a city of idealism, gossip, and complicated friendships among the young aspiring elite. When Beth arrives in DC, she hates everything about it: the confusing traffic circles, the ubiquitous Ann Taylor suits, the humidity that descends each summer. At dinner parties, guests compare their security clearance levels. They leave their BlackBerrys on the table. They speak in acronyms. And once they realize Beth doesn't work in politics, they smile blandly and turn away. Soon Beth and her husband, Matt, meet a charismatic White House staffer named Jimmy, and his wife, Ashleigh, and the four become inseparable, coordinating brunches, birthdays, and long weekends away. But as Jimmy’s star rises higher and higher, the couples’ friendship—and Beth’s relationship with Matt—is threatened by jealousy, competition, and rumors. A glorious send-up of young DC and a blazingly honest portrait of a marriage, this is the finest work yet by one of our most beloved writers.

Review: The Hopefuls is definitely a novel for those interested in some knowledge about the Obama White House and the young staffers who filled it. Now I don't know how much is based on fact and how much is fiction, but it is interesting and kind of scary at the same time.

Beth loved living in NYC but her husband Matt has a wonderful opportunity to work in Obama's White House as part of the legal counsel team. So she sucks it up and moves to D.C. She's definitely not making the best of it and has a hard time finding her groove. She feels like everyone always has an agenda (which they do) and she's not in politics so they treat her as an outsider. Matt seems happy and loves working in the White House. He thinks it'll be great experience for when he eventually runs for office.

Things finally start to fall in place when Beth and Matt click with another couple, Jimmy and Ashleigh Dillon. They start hanging out all the time both as a couple plus Ash and Beth without the guys. They are inseparable so much that Beth's friend Colleen makes jokes about them being swingers.

Then Jimmy gets asked to run for Railroad Commission in Texas and asks Matt to run his campaign. This involved Beth and Matt moving to Houston and living with the Dillon's until at least the primary is over. It doesn't seem so bad at first because things are going well and they are all getting along rather well but of course things start to crack. You start to see behind the curtain and see how people really act. It also shows the cracks in your own marriage. Is this the hurdle that Beth and Matt can't over come? Why have things changed so drastically in a short period of time? Can they fix it?

As much as this is a novel about D.C., it is more about the hard times of marriage and what it takes to make one work. I never felt that Beth and Matt were on the same page. I always felt that she was just following him along because she never really knew what she wanted. She wasn't really even sure she wanted to be married to a potential politician. I feel like that's a huge obstacle to overcome in a marriage. I'm not sure if Matt was right when he told her she didn't support him because I think she did but he wasn't understanding that it would have a huge impact on her life as well.

I'm not sure if any of the characters here were particularly likable. It's not like they were horrible but each were so flawed it made them hard to identify with. I also wanted Jimmy to not have the typical politician flaws because that was too easy to write. Even Ash seemed like a caricature at times.

If you like stories that are entwined with politics then you will definitely enjoy Ms. Close's The Hopefuls


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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Julie's Review: In Twenty Years

 photo In Twenty Years_zpsko0kueor.jpg

Author: Allison Winn Scotch
Series: None
Publication Date: July 1, 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Pages: 455
Obtained: author
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Does the past always shape who we become and can you go back to those friends who shaped you into who you are?
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Summary: Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday. But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality. Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.  

Review: In Twenty Years is going back to the people and the places that shaped your into the adult you are; college years. When 5 close friends each get a summons to return back to the place they lived together during the last year of college, they all have mixed feelings and various reasons for going.

I really liked the story about how going back to your past can help you rediscover who you wanted to be then and help you if you've veered off course. That's not to say that you should always be the person you were when you were twenty-something but it can get you back to the important things in life. What did you want to become? How did you want to live your life? Why were these people the most important people in your life?  I'm not saying that life doesn't change you based on experiences but sometimes it's good to remember who you were at different points in time.

As for the characters, I'm not sure there wasn't a selfish or self-centered one in the bunch. Lindy is the worst out of the bunch, in my opinion. Fame has only made her worse and she can't be honest with those around her, let alone with herself. She's believed her own hype for too long. She's the one who needs her friends the most to reground her and make her reassess her priorities in her life.

Catherine has tried too hard to be a domestic diva that she's lost sight of what is most important: family. You can have a domestic diva empire but it would be better if you were at home more with your family. She's type A and is having a hard time admitting that maybe she's failing and needs some help. She's closed herself off to her husband, Owen and only finds fault with what he does instead of looking at all that he does. Owen needs to assert himself with Catherine and explain that he's ready to go back to work, that maybe being at home with the kids wasn't really what he thought it would be. They both can't be honest with each other. Sometimes it's easier in a marriage to find fault than to try to find harmony. I was rooting for them but I wanted them to remember what they loved about each other to find their way back to each other.

Colin's lifestyle makes it seem like he should be happy and carefree but he's not. He's lonely. He hasn't gotten over the loss of Bea and all the beautiful women he's attached to will never capture his heart. He's never found happiness because his happiness was Bea. He's idolized her in his mind and heart and well that's pretty impossible to compete with.

Annie, poor Annie. She's a flipping mess. Seriously. She's so worried about appearing to have the perfect family that she has anything but that. She needs to start asserting herself so her son can see what a strong woman is capable of, instead of seeing a woman that let's a man walk all over her. I also didn't care for the fact that she thought seeing Colin would be the answer to her problems.  I understand why she wanted to see him but the truth is her crush never went away and we all know the fiction is sometimes better than the reality.

I'm not sure if these 4 friends will remain in contact after their weekend because the glue that held them together, Bea, isn't around.  I felt it was good for all of them to get together to put the past behind them but that there wasn't any room for ongoing friendships. Maybe that's the point as well. Just because you were best friends at one point in your life, doesn't mean you need to be best friends for your whole life. Sometimes friends are in your life for a reason at a certain time to teach you something and some friends are life-long and it's fine to have some of both.

Ms. Scotch always does a fabulous job with pulling you in and making the story relevant to her readers. I'm sure we could also see ourselves or our friends in some of the characters, even if it's the flaws. Flaws are what make us human. There were times when what she wrote made me laugh out loud and times when her words made me tear up.

If you are looking for a novel with complex interpersonal relationships, you won't want to miss In Twenty Year.


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Monday, July 11, 2016

Julie's Review: The Light in Paris

Author: Eleanor Brown
Series: None
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Putnam Books
Pages: 455
Obtained: Amazon Vine
Genre:  Historical Fiction/Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: How finding your place in your family can occur when you examine your family's past
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Summary: Madeleine is trapped—by her family's expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters. In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist. Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart. Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.

Review: The Light of Paris is a story about how feeling like the odd man out in your own family can lead to greater revelations. I loved how Madeleine who always felt that she didn't belong in her family, found out in the end that perhaps her dreams follow her maternal grandmother more than she knew. Madeleine had always struggled to find her place in the world and so she did what her parents wanted her to do, settled down. So she acquiesces and marries an upstanding but cold man. Marital issues cause her to flee back to Magnolia where she finds herself wanting all the things that she dismissed years ago.

Madeleine has always done as she was told even if it made her feel odd and out of place. She even married a man she didn't truly love because she felt that if she didn't she was letting her parents down. He's an extremely cold fish and expects to be the perfect trophy wife but never compliments her. It's always about what she's doing wrong, which is all she's ever known. Madeleine suffers from a lack of self-esteem which hinders her in every area of her life. She's never stood up for herself. As she returns "home" she starts to find the courage to do just that and live the life she's always wanted, very much due to reading her grandmother's journals and seeing her bravery.

Margie is lucky because for a while she gets to be who she wants to be far away from her parents critical eye. Instead of shirking back to her parents when things go south in Paris, she takes it as an opportunity to live her life. I loved seeing Paris from Margie's fresh eyes and how she was able to find herself there. Unfortunately for her and that time period, there wasn't much for her to come back to but marriage and obligation.

These 2 women were from very different time periods but because of their family lineage and tradition were caught up with the same obligations. One never broke free and one tries her damnedest to break free of those constraints. All women feel constrained at one time or another but it's how we respond and break free of them that make us brave and strong.

Ms. Brown always writes so vividly and I loved experience Paris though her words. Anytime I can be transported to another era and city, it's been time well spent.


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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Julie's Review: Luck, Love and Lemon Pie

Author: Amy Reichert
Series: None
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 320
Obtained: NetGalley via publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Good story about figuring out what's important in life
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Summary: When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame. Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother. After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.  

Review: Luck Love & Lemon Pie is a story about finding your way back to who you were and what your marriage used to be. MJ and Chris have been married for 20 years, have 2 kids and have hit a valley in their marriage. Chris is more interested in going and playing poker at the casino then spending time with her. So after he blows off their anniversary lunch, MJ decides the way that she can save her marriage is to learn to play poker with him. As you can guess this doesn't help their marriage as it drives a wedge deeper into it. MJ starts to realize that she's pretty good at playing poker and uses her days to hone her skills. Pretty soon she's entering herself into the casino's tournament and winning it.

Meanwhile, things are falling apart at home not only in her marriage but something is going on with her eldest daughter Kate. Her house is a mess, her husband is growing more distant instead of cheering her on or spending time with her. Instead he has a mysterious new client that MJ doesn't really think is a client.

While I enjoyed  Luck Love & Lemon Pie, I wish there had been a bit more of a twist or something. For me it was a bit too predictable. I didn't really think that MJ and Chris were headed for splitsville even if it looked like it. Doyle is just a nice piece of eye candy for the book, an exciting subplot to make MJ see what she really wants.


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Friday, July 1, 2016

Julie's Review: A Certain Age

Author: Beatriz Williams
Series: None
Publication Date: June 28,2016
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A love triangle with a couple scandals thrown in for good measure
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Summary: As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband. But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice. Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

Review: A Certain Age is a novel set against the backdrop of a changing NYC and the changing of society. For some, that transition is harder than for others. Theresa Marshall figures that if her husband can have a mistress for all of these years, then she too can have an affair. Sophie Fortescue has grown up in a bubble. So for her to rebel a bit by sneaking out with the fabulous Julie Schuyler is a bit out of the ordinary for her. If she hadn't, then she wouldn't have met Jay Oscher to who she will be betrothed too.

It isn't too hard to see how the story will go once a few things happen, specifically once Sophie and Octavian meet. You see how it will collide but you aren't sure who will get damaged in the wreckage.
I also liked that the mystery/scandal was written in the novel as a side plot. I wanted to know what the trial of the time was and who it involved. I had theories but none of them even came close to what Ms. Williams wrote into the novel.

Theresa is used to getting what she wants and why would she be? She's a woman of substance, good pedigree and money. Things at this time came easily to her, including the Boy. I never felt that she was using him but I did wonder if she knew what true love felt like. I think it a lot of ways both Theresa and Octavian saved each other. Each of them allowed the other one to grow and become a better person.

I wanted everyone in the book to be happy and to be able to not have any regrets and I do believe that they all got that in the end. While this isn't my favorite novel of hers, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus whenever a Schuyler makes an appearance you know it's going to be a good time.

Can we just discuss this cover for a moment? Even if I hadn't ever read Ms. Williams, I certainly would have picked this up off a shelf to read what it was about and prompt bought it. In person, it is simply stunning.

If you are all about NYC, the 1920s, scandal and love affairs, then you won't want to miss A Certain Age.


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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Julie's Review: The Perfect Neighbors

Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Series: None
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher via Edelweiss
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.75/5
Bottom Line: A peek inside those secrets we keep closest to our heart
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Summary: Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US. It’s also one of the most secret-filled. Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light. Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.  

Review: The Perfect Neighbors is a peek into the lives of those we live around and see daily but may not really know. It is about the facades we put on to the public vs. how we really are behind closed doors. It's about how we all have secrets that we might not want to share; things that are private in our heart of hearts. What she added to this one was a mystery surrounding one of the couples. I loved how she kept you on the hook and laid out breadcrumbs for you to eat up.

Each of the women has something that they haven't told any of their friends. Kellie finds her new co-worker attracted and often finds herself thinking about him when she shouldn't be; Susan isn't over her ex-husband and stalks him and his new wife; Gigi's life seems perfect and it is if it wasn't for her rap sheet, plus she's dealing with a teenager, which adds stress to her otherwise good life. Then we have the new girl on the block, Tessa, who's secret is definitely darker than the rest of her neighbors but it's not until the end of the novel that we find out what it is.

All these women are your friends, sisters, next door neighbors and you really do feel for what each of them is going through. Most of us have been in their shoes to a certain degree so it feels familiar. I think I probably liked Gigi the most because of the spotlight she was in and what her past held. I loved that she supported Joe even if she wasn't really sure she was ready for the scrutiny. I loved that Joe seemed like a stand-up guy and that they seemed to have a rock solid marriage.

I enjoyed how these women relied on each and valued their friendships with each other. They seemed to accept each other for who they are and weren't afraid to tell someone when they were going down the wrong path.  They weren't afraid to speak their mind to each other. I appreciate that because we always want someone who speaks the truth when we are too afraid to confront it ourselves.

What Ms. Pekkanen does so well is take our relationships and expose them to a very bright light. If you haven't read her, you must and The Perfect Neighbors is a good one to start with but you must also read her whole back-list.


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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Julie's Review: Saving Jason

 photo Saving Jason_zpsrjy2hwxh.jpg

Author: Michael Sears
Series: Jason Stafford #3
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Putnam Books
Pages: 368
Obtained: Amazon Vince
Genre:  Crime, Thriller
Rating: 5.0
Bottom Line: Captivating
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: Jason Stafford used to be a hot Wall Street trader, went too far, and paid for it in prison. Now a financial investigator, he’s been asked to look into rumors of a hostile takeover of his firm, but he has no idea it will turn his whole life upside down. Suddenly embroiled in a grand jury investigation of Mob-related activities on Wall Street, and threatened by some very serious men, he is thrust into witness protection with his young autistic son. And then his son disappears. Has he been kidnapped, or worse? With no choice but to act, Stafford has no choice but to come out of hiding and risk everything to save his son, his firm, his pregnant girlfriend—and himself  

Review: Saving Jason is book 3 in the  Jason Stafford series is always one of my favorite to pick up and escape in. Jason may not be the nicest or best guy, he's made some questionable choices in the past, but he's trying to change his life. His focus is making the best life he can for his son, affectionately called the Kid. They have a special bond and it gets even more cemented in the third novel.

As the novel opens,  Jason uncovers a scam at Becker Financial while looking at penny stock trades. Of course it can't just be something he can hand over to Compliance and let it go. He gets into the thick of it quick and of course it's unscrupulous. He lands his boss in jail, himself in WITSEC and puts people he knows in jeopardy. Not only that but if he lands charges for anything, he will find himself back in jail serving the remainder of his sentence.

It isn't so much the cases that keep me engaged in this series but the relationships that have developed from the cases. Now, don't get me wrong I find the predicaments that Jason gets himself into intriguing but how do you go from being a white-collar criminal to having the FBI listen to your theory and then put it in play? I also know this is fiction and I accept that as part of the deal of reading it.

I love the pace of these books and I always end up learning something about the financial world. I can't wait to see where we go next in the series.


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