Thursday, January 12, 2017

Julie's Review: Pretty Little World

Author: Melissa DePino, Elizabeth LaBan
Series: None
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 320
Obtained: Little Bird Publicity
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Can friends really be your family when you all live under one roof?
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Summary: On a cozy street in Philadelphia, three neighboring families have become the best of friends. They can’t imagine life without one another—until one family outgrows their tiny row house. In a bid to stay together, a crazy idea is born: What if they tear down the walls between their homes and live together under one roof? And so an experiment begins. Celia and Mark now have the space they need. But is this really what Celia’s increasingly distant husband wants? Stephanie embraces the idea of one big, happy family, but has she considered how it may exacerbate the stark differences between her and her husband, Chris? While Hope always wanted a larger family with Leo, will caring for all the children really satisfy that need? Behind closed doors, they strive to preserve the closeness they treasure. But when boundaries are blurred, they are forced to question their choices…and reimagine the true meaning of family.  

Review: Pretty Little World had much more depth to it than I thought it would, if I'm being honest. I thought it was going to be a little superficial and hippie-ish for me but I found myself very intrigued to see how it would turn out. The 6 couples all live on a dead end street in a desirable area of Philadelphia and pretty much spend all their time together. Their kids are the best of friends.  So when a leak springs between 2 of the houses, they seize the opportunity to combine their 3 house into one huge living space.

Celia wants to have set rules because that's who she is, where as Stephanie wants to see where the natural boundaries get set. Hope is more about ensuring that everyone is getting what they need and taking care of the kids. The men are happy to have their needs taken care of by a bevy of women. The novel is interesting and intriguing and definitely not something I would ever venture to do. You expose your private life like never before. You have too many relationships to satisfy and really not enough time.

Also, if you are going to allow someone to essentially raise your kids with theirs, you have to be ok with how they are doing that. You have to be ok when your kids want her over you. You have to be fine with the fact that your closest friends will know what's going on in your marriage or what's not going on.

There were definitely characters who were in the background compared to those who had a full story line and the authors had to do it that way otherwise there would have been too much going on. As it was, things were a bit confusing at first while I got the characters straight in my head.

Ms. DePino and Ms. LaBan do a great job of making you curious about what goes on behind closed doors and how these families are going to make it work while keeping their marriages and friendships intact. Will it be the blissful commune they think or will it be a complete disaster? The truth is that it is somewhere in between.

Pretty Little World is an intriguing read that will make you think about what you do once your door closes to your house.


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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Julie's Review: The Marriage Lie

Author: Kimberly Belle
Series: None
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: MIRA
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Wow!
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Summary: Iris and Will have been married for seven years, and life is as close to perfect as it can be. But on the morning Will flies out for a business trip to Florida, Iris's happy world comes to an abrupt halt: another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board and, according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers. Grief stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. Why did Will lie about where he was going? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to uncover what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she finds shock her to her very core.

Review: The Marriage Lie is one hell of a ride; seriously. It starts with the opening of the novel and continues until the end of the novel. You want to believe that Will and Iris have the perfect marriage but just from the summary you know that things aren't always what they seem. When Iris is at work she's alerted that a plane went down on it's way to Seattle but Iris' is relieved because Will wasn't going to Seattle, he was on his way to Orlando. That is until she can't get a hold of him and finds out that he was on the plane's manifest. Naturally, she starts to unravel but it's not only finding out that her husband died but that he wasn't going where he told her. It's then that Iris wants to figure out why Will lied and what it is exactly he was hiding.

This book moves fast as Iris peels pack the layers of Will's lies and his life. Just when she thinks that she's figured it all out, something or someone else comes up giving her new information she needs to process. She's also trying to deal with 2 different griefs: the grief that her husband is dead and that her husband wasn't who she thought he was. She begins to doubt herself even more than doubting him.

I have to admit that there were times when I wanted to smack Iris during the book. I mean her husband lied to her and had some serious problems but she still pledged her undying love for him. Going as far as wanting to keep the ring he bought her before he left. It was then that I would have wanted to give her some serious counsel. I really enjoyed her brother Dave and Evan. I thought that pairing Evan and Iris together to deal with their grief and for him to help her maneuver her way through the legal issues that have surfaced.

If you are looking for a quick and thrilling read, then you definitely don't need to look any further than Kimberly Belle's  The Marriage Lie.


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Friday, December 30, 2016

Julie's 2016 Year in Review

 photo 2016 Books_zpsevql4ssd.jpgIt's everyone's favorite time of the year! You know, where everyone comes out with their favorite books of 2016 and why break the tradition, so here is my list:

My Goodreads Challenge Goal: 80 Books

Books Read: 84!! (Through 12/29/2016)

2016 was yet another year where I had more than a handful of 5/5 books! So, here is the break down by category for my favorites (not in a specific order).

Contemporary Fiction:

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Ramblers by Aiden Donnelly Rowley
The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
Losing the Light by Andrea Dunlop
We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman
Untethered by Julie Lawson Timmer
Assistants by Camille Perri

Historical Fiction:

Lilac Girls by Martha Kelly Hall
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
Three Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell
Forgotten Room by Karen White, Lauren Willig and Beatriz Williams
After Party by Anton Discalfani

Historical Fiction/Contemporary Fiction:

In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson
Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon
Vivian in Red by Kristina Riggle


Home  by Harlan Coben
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Sister Dear by Laura ONeill
I Let You Go by Clare MacIntosh
Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
Saving Jason by Michael Sears
Lost Girls by Heather Young
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti

Women's Fiction:

Lies And Other Acts of Love by Kristy Harvey Woodson
Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner
The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Young Adult:

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Other Categories:

Hungry Heart Adventures in Life Love and Writing by Jennifer Weiner

 I am hoping that 2017 is as wonderful of a reading year as 2016! Happy Reading!


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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Julie's Review: Remember the Ladies

Author: Gina L. Mulligan
Series: None
Publication Date: May 18, 2016
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Pages: 325
Obtained: Get Red PR
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A strong and determined heroine that you will cheer for until the end of the novel
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Summary: Growing up in an orphanage prepared Amelia Cooke for the high-stakes role of a female lobbyist in 1887, a time before women could vote. So when she's hired by the National Women's Suffrage Association to lobby for a suffrage amendment, Amelia feels empowered to give women a voice. What she doesn't foresee is Senator Edward Stillman. Stillman is charismatic, driven, and desperate to crush the amendment and Amelia. But in a political game where bribery, threats, extortion, and seduction prevail, who will win and at what cost? Set in the extravagant Gilded Age, Remember the Ladies explores the conflict between the sexes with delightful writing and elegant descriptions, which brings the reader back to a time when the struggle for women's equality had just begun.  

Review: Remember the Ladies is one of those novels that will cause you to take pause and realize that we really have come a long way in how women are viewed. A 100 years ago there were limited options for women and in 2016 we had our first female presidential candidate, that says a lot.

Amelia Cooke saw her parents die in a tragic carriage accident and then was raised in an orphanage where she never felt she truly belonged. So when she turned 18 she headed to D.C. where she thought she could make a difference. A chance meeting on a train with a powerful lobbyist that changes the course of her life. She has a lot to learn before she can even try to advocate for women using her voice. While she was attending a conference, she meets the charismatic Senator from Ohio, Edward Stillman. Their affair ends abruptly and they go their own way for a period of time. As a reader you know that Senator Stillman will be key in Amelia's vote for the suffrage amendment.

While the novel does move slow at times, it is probably pretty accurate to show how slow the inner workings of government move as well. I enjoyed the cat and mouse game between Edward and Amelia to gain the votes that they need to either get the amendment passed or squashed. Both of them are at the top of their game and aren't afraid to use knowledge of those voting to their advantage. 

I admired Amelia's grit and determination to get this amendment passed. I also admired her because it wasn't win at all costs for her either. She discovers more about herself and what she's willing to sacrifice throughout this process and decides that something aren't worth compromising.

I truly enjoyed reading about the struggle to get women the right to vote that wouldn't come to an end until 1920 when the amendment finally has the support it needed. If you are looking for a great historical fiction read, then you should pick up Remember the Ladies.


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Monday, December 19, 2016

Julie's Review: The Girls in the Garden

Author: Lisa Jewell
Series: None
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Atria
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Starts a little slow but give it time and you need to find out what happens in the garden
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Summary: Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really? On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Review: Girls in the Garden is a story about the secrets we adults keep about our own teenage lives and the secrets that our teenagers keep from us. I actually shudder at that second part since my 11 year old will be there quicker than I care to admit. Virginia Park is one of those private gardens tucked away in London that only the people that live surrounding it can access. It seems idyllic, right? Well not with all the nooks and crannies within the garden/park itself. It's ripe with areas for hidden things to take hold.

We are introduced to Clare, Grace and Pip as being new to the park area after a tragedy has befallen them. They quickly befriend Adele, Leo and their 3 girls; Catkin, Fern and Willow who are home-schooled and yes a bit weird but mainly it seems because they haven't been exposed to anything outside of their commune. To round out the kids, we meet Tyler and Dylan who have been best friends for years. Grace and Pip struggle to fit in for a bit until they find their bearings with all the kids.

There's a history to the garden that Ms. Jewell starts to slowly weave you in on. It seems there was a death years ago when Leo and his brothers grew up hanging in the garden. It seems there are some rumors about what really happened and if any one was involved. Is the garden really as innocent as it seems or is there a darkness there? Is there a little bit of darkness in all of us, even when we are young and on the cusp of being a teen?

Ms. Jewell does a great job of laying down the crumbs of the mystery of what happened to Grace and what happened to Phoebe? Is it history repeating itself or is it coincidence? How would you feel if everyone that lived in your neighborhood knew all your business? It seems like you need to be one of those people that doesn't mind having everything out there because living like this is like living in a fishbowl. It definitely isn't for everyone.

There were times when I thought that both Adele and Clare needed a bit of a backbone and to rely on themselves instead of their husbands but in the end I came to appreciate why they were both like that, even if I didn't fully agree with it. As far as the teen girls, you realize just how spiteful they can be and want to shelter your kids from them but yet they need to learn how to deal with people like that because not everyone is kind. It's just unfortunate that kids experience that early in life. It also makes you aware at how quickly kids grow up and how badly they want to be adults without truly knowing the consequences instead of just enjoying childhood. That seems to be more prevalent today than ever before with social media.

If you are looking for a good mystery with a little bit of class-ism, then you should pick up Girls in the Garden.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Julie's Review: All the Breaking Waves

Author: Kerry Lonsdale
Series: None
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: A story about finding yourself in the mistakes of the past and the hope in your future
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Summary: After a harrowing accident tore her family apart, Molly Brennan fled from the man she loved and the tragic mistake she made. Twelve years later, Molly has created a new life for herself and her eight-year-old daughter, Cassie. The art history professor crafts jewelry as unique and weathered as the surf-tumbled sea glass she collects, while raising her daughter in a safe and loving environment—something Molly never had. But when Cassie is plagued by horrific visions and debilitating nightmares, Molly is forced to return to the one place she swore she’d never move back to—home to Pacific Grove. A riveting exploration of love, secrets, and motherhood, All the Breaking Waves is the poignant story of a woman who discovers she must confront her past, let go of her guilt, and summon everything in her power to save her daughter.  

Review: All the Breaking Waves is  interesting look at what it means to wrestle with your past and to realize that the secret you've been keeping has brought you more pain that joy. That you have suffered without needing to have carried it all on your own.. It is about finding hope in the future and learning to let go.

Molly is a single mom to young Cassidy who is starting to have visions about accidents that keep her up at night and make her an outcast at school. So much so that because of some of Cassidy's actions, she gets suspended from school. This causes Molly to pack up and run home to the house she grew up in, to her Nana. As she does this though, her past comes back to her in very real ways, because her childhood paramour is back and living next to her Nana. She left Owen abruptly and isn't ready to confront that with him. Right now, she's trying to stay alive based on a premonition that Cassidy that had of her.

Molly is struggling to do things right but in doing this, she misses a lot that is right in front of her. She doesn't realize that she's dangerously close to repeating her own family history. She is so wrapped up in her own head and singular vision that she's missing other clues that are going on around her.

There is a bit that is predictable in the novel but there are a couple twists and turns but I enjoyed the uncovering the history between Nana and Molly and how both of them carried their guilt differently.
Ms. Lonsdale wrote an interesting book that used a bit of mystical ability with a lot of heart and resilience. It's about how to believe in yourself and find your way back to the person you were.


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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Julie's Review: Love, Alice

Author: Barbara Davis
Series: None
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 432
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A sad and yet hopeful story about the cruelty displayed to single mom's in laundries throughout Europe
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Summary: A year ago, Dovie Larkin’s life was shattered when her fiancé committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. Now, plagued by guilt, she has become a fixture at the cemetery where William is buried, visiting his grave daily, waiting for answers she knows will never come. Then one day, she sees an old woman whose grief mirrors her own. Fascinated, she watches the woman leave a letter on a nearby grave. Dovie ignores her conscience and reads the letter—a mother’s plea for forgiveness to her dead daughter—and immediately needs to know the rest of the story. As she delves deeper, a collection of letters from the cemetery’s lost and found begins to unravel a decades-old mystery involving one of Charleston’s wealthiest families. But even as Dovie seeks to answer questions about another woman’s past—questions filled with deception, betrayal, and heartbreaking loss—she starts to discover the keys to love, forgiveness, and finally embracing the future.  

Review: Love, Alice  is the story about finding the will to survive and carry on even when you have given up hope. This is the case of Alice, who is put in a convent when her mother discovers that she is pregnant without being married. Alice, who never gives up hope, moves to the states to try to find her son or daughter that was given up for adoption in the late 1960s. Modern day brings us Dovie Larkin visiting the grave of her deceased fiance who committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. She wonders what could have possibly gone wrong and spends her lunch hours eating next his grave. To put it lightly, Dovie is living among the dead instead of moving on with her life. It's like she's scared to move on and begin again. She knows she needs to but she's also tired of hearing it from others.

One day while at William's grave, she spots an older woman at the grave of Alice. When the woman leaves, Dovie notices that she leaves a letter behind, so curiosity gets the best of her and she reads the letter. Now Dovie wants to know the full story so she befriends the woman. It's then that Alice's story starts to consume Dovie. She's preoccupied with what happened to Alice and wants to help figure out her story. I enjoyed Love, Alice very much and found most of it sad but with glimmers of hope. Alice was a gutsy young woman to pick up and leave everything she knew for pretty much a wild goose chase. She came to America with one thing in mind, finding her child. What she found was a family that took her in, befriended her and loved her. She ended up being where she was needed and when it was important for her to feel that.

 I will say there were a couple of things that I found a bit predictable but I found the history behind Alice's story a bit fascinating so I was willing to forgive. I also gave Dovie a bit of a longer rope since her grief was so apparent. I did want her to move on and I didn't mind one bit that it looked like it was going to be the delicious Austin Tate. Austin had his own demons to wrestle with and confront but they were something that he could overcome.

Ms. Davis does a great job of melding the past and the present together. I thought the letters were a great way to tell Alice's story and to get an idea of the pain she was going through. If you are looking for a solid novel to read on a winter's weekend, then you should pick up Love, Alice.


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Monday, December 5, 2016

Julie's Review: The Other Sister

Author: Dianne Dixon
Series: None
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pages: 400
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 4.25/5
Bottom Line: Kept me guessing until the end
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: One sister has everything. Her twin hates her for it. Would life be better without Ali? Probably. At least then people might think about Morgan. Ali's always gotten everything ― she doesn't even realize how much Morgan resents her. Ali also doesn't realize that when she shuts Morgan out entirely, she will unleash a chain of events that show just how dangerous the underside of love really is. As their lives spin toward something neither one of them can control, a terrifying crime reveals how those who know us best can destroy us...or save us.  

Review: The Other Sister will have you guessing until the very end what is really going on. I swear I changed my mind on the direction of the story a couple different times. Morgan and Ali are twins and while they share a tight bond, often enough it is one that is more of intense dislike than of love. Morgan views her life as subpar compared to Ali's. Ali has everything including the love a Matt, who Morgan met first. Morgan has always felt that Ali is the golden child and that everything in her life has always been fantastic. In one word, Morgan is envious of Ali.

Ali on the other hand seems to have it all but she's not cocky about it. She loves her life and has dreams of her own. She wants to open her own restaurant but she's willing to work hard for it. She's also very much in love with Matt, so when he throws her a curve ball and announces he's taken a job in Hollywood, she marries him and goes with him. At this point, I had to question Ali and if she really had everything like Morgan thought. There were enough red flags with Matt, that I actually thought she might bail on him and stay in Rhode Island and follow her dreams.

What Ms. Dixon does very well is create the tug and pull of sibling, especially twin, rivalry. Twins really do take it to a whole other level. She also writes so that you vacillate between which sister you side with. For a long time, Morgan drove me crazy but the break from Ali is what she needed to figure out that she put herself in Ali's shadow. She needed to understand her own worth and quit keeping herself in her sister's shadow. For Ali, she had to shake the feeling of carrying someone around and always being responsible for Morgan. She also has to deal with a tragedy that puts a greater divide between her and Matt, since their marriage is already shaky.

I definitely didn't see the twists and turn coming until the very end. I really did think the novel was taking a different direction. I have to say that I would highly recommend  The Other Sister
for fans of psychological thrillers.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Julie's Review: I'll Take You There

Author: Wally Lamb
Series: None
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 272
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A great story about how the women in the narrator's life influenced him
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: I’ll Take You There centers on Felix, a film scholar who runs a Monday night movie club in what was once a vaudeville theater. One evening, while setting up a film in the projectionist booth, he’s confronted by the ghost of Lois Weber, a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood’s silent film era. Lois invites Felix to revisit—and in some cases relive—scenes from his past as they are projected onto the cinema’s big screen. In these magical movies, the medium of film becomes the lens for Felix to reflect on the women who profoundly impacted his life. There’s his daughter Aliza, a Gen Y writer for New York Magazine who is trying to align her post-modern feminist beliefs with her lofty career ambitions; his sister, Frances, with whom he once shared a complicated bond of kindness and cruelty; and Verna, a fiery would-be contender for the 1951 Miss Rheingold competition, a beauty contest sponsored by a Brooklyn-based beer manufacturer that became a marketing phenomenon for two decades. At first unnerved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters with Lois, who is later joined by the spirits of other celluloid muses. Against the backdrop of a kaleidoscopic convergence of politics and pop culture, family secrets, and Hollywood iconography, Felix gains an enlightened understanding of the pressures and trials of the women closest to him, and of the feminine ideals and feminist realities that all women, of every era, must face.

  Review: I'll Take You There is another great novel by Wally Lamb as he explore the relationships within family. Specifically for Felix, his relationships with all of the females in his family; from his mother to his daughter and how it's shaped his life and how he views the world. Felix Funicello is later in life with an adult daughter who continues to amaze him. He's not so amazed by his ex-wife and prefers to think that his daughter was heavily influenced by him. Felix isn't one of those people that spend a lot of time worrying about the past and how things could have been different. He's more of a here and now guy so when an apparition appears and offers him the ability to look at his life on film, he's hesitant but curious; after of course he wonders if he going a little crazy.

 As he goes through pivotal times in his life throughout the film, he begins to understand his relationships with both his sisters and his mother. Perhaps the relationship with the biggest effect on his life is his sister Frances. They had the typical sibling rivalry but it is obvious that Frances' ribbing of him goes much deeper. It isn't until Frances has health issues that the family begins to understand the issues are much greater than they had ever thought. He spends time viewing his life at different periods and it's pretty amazing how your mind can alter your perception of events to protect you. 

Felix is a wonderful character and even though he's male and my dad's age, I could relate to him. We all get a little nostalgic and it manifests itself in a variety of ways. He's the kind of guy who would listen to you and then make movie recommendations based on what you've told him. He also has a fantastic relationship with his daughter Aliza, who is a talented writer but frustrated in her current situation.

I liked how Mr. Lamb wove in the Miss Rheingold story and how it wasn't just filler but it played a significant role in the story line of Felix, his sister and eventually his daughter. Mr. Lamb reminds us that to be a feminist you don't need to be a female. That men can champion the women in their lives just as clearly as the men. He also highlights that maybe using a little honey with your views can sometimes catch more interest than having such a hard stance. That sometimes you can't force your views on someone but demonstrate them by living your life in the manner in which you speak. This is definitely one of his shorter novels but it packs a punch and will stay with you long after you close the back.

I'll Take You There then begs the question of the reader, would you want to relieve your past in film if offered the chance? Would you be afraid that your childhood wasn't exactly how you remembered it? What if highlighted how your relationships shaped you and how you viewed the world? Would that change your outlook? These are all questions that you will ask yourself as you read the novel.

If you are a fan or haven't read Mr. Lamb, I'll Take You There is a good place to start but really his best work is She's Come Undone.


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Friday, November 11, 2016

Julie's Review: Faithful

Author: Alice Hoffman
Series: None
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 272
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: A story about pain, sorrow, love and healing
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Summary: Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt. What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night. Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.  

Review: Faithful is no different than Alice Hoffman's other novels because it has a bit of the mystical element to it. This novel is the study of forgiveness, guilt and moving on. Ms. Hoffman uses Shelby as her conduit and she's the perfect one for this novel. You can't help but feel for Shelby but you also want to shake her at times. She carries around much more pain and guilt that is needed. Over time we her grow and learn to move on and eventually forgive herself. It is about love, life and death. How all of those things are intertwined.

Shelby is lost. She is depressed and she has no clue how to dig herself out of the hole she is in. Her only friend is her weed dealer, Ben Mink. She's talked to him more in the past year than her own parents. She's looking for a way out of the town she feels suffocated in since the accident that set her on a different path than the one she was on. You see Shelby was one half of the duo Helene and Shelby; Helene was the truly beautiful one and Shelby was pretty enough. Helene was her best friend but she was the one that was the troublemaker. Shelby went along for the ride.

Shelby is on a long journey to rid herself of the self-loathing and guilt. She needs to learn to trust herself, let go of her demons and to open herself up to others. She's punishing herself for the accident and doesn't think she deserves happiness. Through the persistent of others, little by little, Shelby is restored to life. 

Faithful is about being restored by love, hope and persistence. It's about finding something that brings you joy and makes you feel alive, even if it seems like a small thing. Small things can have profound effects. This book make me laugh and made me cry. I felt sorrow for Shelby but I also felt joy and hope for her. I wanted her to find what she was looking both inside herself and in the world. I loved the way the mysterious postcards played out. I loved how she looked forward to them and that they gave her hope. Don't we all need a little hope and joy in our lives?

If you've never read Alice Hoffman, you are missing out. If you have, then you won't want to miss


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