Monday, February 27, 2012

Jenn's Review: Hexbound

Summary:  Lily Parker is new to St. Sophia's School for Girls, but she's already learned that magic can be your best friend-or your worst enemy. That's why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities while fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago's nastiest nightlife-including the tainted magic users known as Reapers...

Review:  This is the second book in the Dark Elite series from Chloe Neill.  I started reading this series because the publisher sent me two ARCs (yes, there is a chance one will be yours in the very near future) of book three, Charmfall and it looked good enough that I wanted to dive in at the beginning.  While Firespell seemed to be over just as it began, Hexbound picks up right where things left off, and the action continues to roll.

In Firespell  Lily is discovering her world; in Hexbound Lily is living in it and beginning to question it.  I love Chloe Neill's writing style.  I love the wit and the banter between Lily and Scout. The mysteries and little sub-plots are fascinating.  I love that Neill can mention just a part of St. Sophia's school day, but with a few snide or flippant comments from the girls, it feels fully inclusive.  My only complaint with these books is that they're too short.  There is such a wealth of story in the plot and the characters, I wish she'd expand upon everything and double the length of each book, because believe me, everyone would still be captivated.  That being said, at no time do I feel the story is lacking, I just really want to know more!

I think this would be a great series for a reluctant reader.  It's short, to the point, and never lagging.  I look forward to starting the recently released Charmfall in the next few weeks... and I promise there will be a giveaway to go with it!

Final Take:  3.75/5

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Children's Corner: The Jellybeans and the Big Book Bonanza

I wasn't quite sure about this one when we checked it out, but it's the team of Laura Numeroff and illustrator Lynn Munsinger, so how far wrong can it go?  As it turns out, I like this one a lot, probably because the main bookworm character reminds me of me as a child.  As soon as I could read, I never went anywhere without a book (I used to follow my mother through a busy mall while reading), and Anna is quite the same.

However, Anna's friends are all quite different; one loves to dance, one loves to paint, and one loves to play soccer.  But when a book report is assigned in class, Anna proudly helps them navigate the library.  The girls learn to appreciate books, and Anna learns to appreciated her friends.  This is a cute story about friendship and book love and it's a great child-accessible example of how our differences make us who we are and make us stronger together.  If you are looking for a feel-good, life lesson, you can't go wrong with The Jellybeans and the Big Book Bonanza.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Julie's Review: The Weird Sisters

Summary: Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can't solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse-named them after the Bard's heroines. It's a lot to live up to. The sisters have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. What can the shy homebody eldest sister, the fast-living middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Only that none has found life to be what was expected; and now, faced with their parents' frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them... ~amazon.com

Review: OK, I'll admit it.  The last time I read Shakespeare was in high school but that doesn't mean I don't want to read him; I would just prefer to do so in an academic setting. So, when I heard that there was this fabulous book out called,  The Weird Sisters and the Bard woven into it, I was intrigued. I had it on my wish list for months but with all the other books staring at me, I patiently waited. I'm so glad that I read it now.
I loved it! I loved the relationship or non-relationship between the three sisters: Rose, Bean and Cordy. It was as if they all existed to each other but none of them knew each other, let alone had any grasp of who they were without being tied to their name and their birth order.  I always look for character growth when reading a character driven book and Ms. Brown succeeded resoundingly. What I liked is that they found out who they were without changing the essence of who they already had become. They learned how to be themselves without each other; they came into their own.

Ms. Brown wrote each sister so that as a reader you identified with each at various point throughout the book. At different points in the novel you want to shake or smack one of them for their behavior or sometimes lack of behavior. The two sisters who really truly came into their own were Rose and Cordy. Bean still has a little bit of a ways to go before she feels comfortable with who she is and what she's doing. Their parents play an important part in who they are, but don't they in all of us?

Sometimes when you love a book and it touched you emotionally, it's hard to write a review because you don't want to go all "fan girl" over it. This is how I am with The Weird Sisters. It is such a wonderful novel full of family drama, Shakespeare quotes and beautifully written passages. Too many to sit here and quote.

Thanks to Penguin Books USA  I had a beautiful paperback copy to read. I have to say it is fun doing the Twitter chat about the book as well. Plus the author, Eleanor Brown joins which has enhanced the novel even more.

I will say that I highly recommend this book to anyone. It is about family shapes the perception of ourselves and of those that are the closest to us. That no matter how far we try to escape our family, they are the ones we always come back to. They are the ones who accept us for who we truly are; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Final Take: 5/5


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giveaway: You Know When the Men Are Gone

We're giving away an interesting collection of interconnected short stories of life on a contemporary American military base, You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon:

About the book:  In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life. 

There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas. Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families-intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians' speeches. 

When you leave Fort Hood, the sign above the gate warns, You've Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming. It is eerily prescient.


How to enter the giveaway:

Please fill out the form below to be entered by midnight EST February 29, 2012.  You must be over 18 and a resident of US or Canada to enter.  As always, Girls Just Reading Blogspot uses random.org  to select our winners.



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Monday, February 20, 2012

Jenn's Review: Destiny and Deception

Summary:  The sensational fourth novel in the 13 to Life series sees Jessica and the Rusakovas fighting to overcome their biggest challenge yet.

With the threat of the mafia seemingly gone and the company's headquarters in Junction destroyed, Pietr Rusakova is adjusting to being a normal teen and Jess is realizing normalcy may not be what she wanted after all. But both Jess and Cat know the truth--that normal can't be taken for granted. Their precious cure isn't permanent--and when a new danger stalks into their small town, Alexi decides he must overcome his issues with the mother who abandoned him to be raised by wolves and make a brand new deal to save his adopted family. ~product description

Review:  I want to preface my review by saying I really love Shannon Delany and her 13 to Life series. I even drove two hours to see her at a book signing once. But there is nothing 'sensational' about Destiny and Deception, in fact it marks a definite lull in the saga.

It was a combination of things, that contributed to my disenchantment. Things were fairly well resolved at the end of Bargains and Betrayals. So where do we go from here? We adjust to life without werewolves... or do we?  Into Junction roves a new pack of wolves that are all about being wolves, "The Wolf is the Way".   Honestly, I had a hard time becoming interested in them, perhaps because it took a while for them to become relevant to the plot. I actually had trouble keeping the males of the pack straight due to similar names and lack of interest. By the time they became relevant I was already felt rather apathetic towards them and resentful of them.

The Ruskova's adjustment to normalcy is a little dull. Pietr's fire has all but disappeared and so has his personality. No one besides Jessie seems at all concerned about this. No one seems concerned about the new pack in town or what that means for the Ruskova's. No one seems concerned about retribution from The Company. No one seems to be aware that you just don't walk away from the Russian mob. Instead everyone is consumed by the former side-story of strange additives in the school lunches that seem to be enhancing and jump starting extra sensory abilities in the students of Junction High. I wasn't all that interested in that part of the series when it was a sub-plot, and am still not sold on it now that it has moved into the forefront.

Also, Ms. Delaney switches points of view between Jessie, Alexi, and Marlena (the new pack's Alpha). This is not a new style for her, she's done it before, and done it well, but with there being so little action, and so little going on, it seemed less effective. Often times the switch of voices wasn't noticeable until I was a few paragraphs in... even though each change of view point is clearly character labeled.  For the most part this felt like an entire book full of plot exposition that could have been condensed into a prologue. By the time things started to pick up, it was at the end. In fact, book five looks very exciting. However had this not been part of a beloved series, I honestly don't know if I would have finished it.

I look forward to a return to action and excitement with Rivals and Retributions, the final novel in the 13 to Life series, which is set to come out in August. Shannon Delany promises that "this series is going to end with a bang (not a whimper)" and I'm holding her to it.

Final Take:  3.25/5


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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Children's Corner: Love You Forever

Review: I know this book is hugely popular but I won't ever read it again.  I read it once to my kids at the same time and was bawling by the end of the book. I could barely make it through the ending. They didn't quite understand what was making mommy so sad.

Love You Forever is one of many books by popular children's author Robert Munsch. We have read many of his books in our house and have enjoyed them.

In fact one week she brought home 5 of his books for us to explore. While Love You Forever starts out sweet, gets a  bit creepy and then gets downright sad, it is an important message for kids explaining that no matter what mommy will love you. Whether you are getting in trouble, getting bigger or when you have your own family, mommy never leaves you.

For a week after reading this I couldn't explain the book to someone without welling up in tears. That is the reason I won't read it again, I would never be able to read it to the end.

Have you read it? Did you have the same reaction? So, if you haven't read it, you have been warned about what your reaction could be at the end.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Julie's Review: Look Again


Summary: When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops—the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her every instinct tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth. And she can’t shake the question: if Will rightfully belongs to someone else, should she keep him or give him up? She investigates, uncovering clues no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life—and that of the son she loves. Lisa Scottoline breaks new ground in Look Again, a thriller that’s both heart-stopping and heart-breaking, and sure to have new fans and book clubs buzzing. ~amazon.com

Review:  Look Again is a heartpounding, heartbreaking novel about the love of a mother and what lengths she will go to for her son. Ellen Gleeson is an immediately likable character. How can you not like a single mother who fell in love with a sick boy in ICU and upon learning he had no family, started the process of adopting him? Does she have flaws, of course but as a reader I could identify with those, which made me like her that much more.

The thing about Ellen though is once she see a picture of a missing boy that looks strikingly like her son Will, she just can't get it out of her head and move on. It haunts her and starts to affect her work, which is never good. As she starts to research her son's adoption, her life and the life of her son begins to unravel; quickly. It's too late for Ellen to stop poking around because now her life is at stake and everyone she loves is in jeopardy.

Look Again is a fast-paced, edge of your seat ride up until the very end. It is a book with twists and turns, that you don't see coming. It is a thriller with a big heart. You want Ellen and Will to be ok. You want for it to all work out in the end but like Ellen you have a gut-wrenching feeling that perhaps it won't. This is what keeps you tied to the story, the need to know if it turns out o.k.

I don't want to spoil the plot, so I won't say more than I already have about the book. What I will say is that Lisa Scottoline never fails to amaze me with her writing. I've been a fan a long time and I'm fairly certain I will continue to be for years to come. I believe I'm a few books behind on her novels but I know I'll catch up at some point.

If you haven't read her, then Look Again is a great place to start since it's a stand-alone novel.

Final Take: 4.25/5









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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Alice's Review: The Girl in the Blue Beret

Summary:  Inspired by a true story, the bestselling author of In Country offers a gorgeous, haunting novel about an airline pilot coming to terms with his past, and searching for the people who saved him during World War II. After Marshall Stone's B-17 bomber was shot down in occupied Europe in 1944, people in the French Resistance helped him escape to safety. One of the brave French people who risked their lives for him was a lively girl in Paris—a girl identified by her blue beret. After the war Marshall returned to America, raised a family, and became a successful airline pilot. He tried to forget the war. Now, in 1980, he returns to France and finds himself drawn back in time—memories of the crash, the terror of being alone in a foreign country where German soldiers were hunting down fallen Allied aviators, the long months of hiding. Marshall finds the people who helped him escape from the Nazis and falls in love with the woman who was the girl in the blue beret. He also discovers astonishing revelations about the suffering of the people he had known during the war. Bobbie Ann Mason's novel, inspired by her father-in-law's wartime experiences, is a beautifully woven story of love, war, and second chances. ~amazon.com

Review:  This is the first novel I read in this year’s List Swap Challenge. Since I failed so miserable at last year’s challenge, I am determined to succeed this year. Something I really like about this challenge is Julie usually picks books that are well outside my reading comfort zone. I am not a thriller reader. I like my drama to come in the form of woman with woe is me syndrome. I have to admit, I was over the moon when Julie chose this one for me. I am a huge fan of novels based during World War II. I couldn’t wait to dive into it and chose it as my first read in the challenge.

I was optimistic for The Girl in the Blue Beret. This novel is on an interesting subject I knew nothing about. I really had no idea what the French people went through and what sacrifices they made in order to help the Allied Airmen return safely to England. I admired the courage and strength of the Resistance. With such great risk, they hid, fed, and moved these Airmen to safety. For anyone interested in learning more about the Escape, Invasion, and the Resistance, Ms. Mason listed several books in her Selected Bibliography.

When I finished this novel, the first thing I thought was, “What a letdown.” That is not the sign of a good novel. Up until then I had a like/indifferent feeling about The Girl in the Blue Beret. I believe I was indifferent because although Marshall’s journey and his relationship with members of the Resistance were fascinating, I didn’t feel a kinship to Marshall at all. He seemed unfeeling, distant, almost egotistical. I didn’t get the feeling that he experienced the escape from Germany occupied France himself, but rather that he was relaying someone else’s journey. Even when he discussing his flight crew, I felt less than sympathetic to him. Marshall returns to Paris after his retirement to reconnect and thank the people who helped him escape. He was particularly fond of a Parisian family with two young daughters. Marshall formed a bond with Annette, the oldest and the one in the blue beret.

On his return to Paris, Marshall located Annette who was living life in the country as a widow. Marshall and Annette had an instant link, a bond based on grief, respect and appreciation. I think their connection wasn’t magical or amazing in any way. There was an element of creepiness in the way Marshall still thought of Annette as the girl in Paris in 1944. Even as his adult relationship with her grew, I couldn’t shake thinking of him as a dirty old man. I have a feeling that Annette being Annette would have acted the same way towards any of the other Airmen who stopped by for an unexpected visit. I know that doesn’t sound right, she wasn’t a loose woman or careless with her feelings. In fact, she was the opposite. She was centered, real. She guarded her experiences and because of those, she enjoyed every moment of every day she faced.

The shining star of the novel, the shift from indifference to like was when I met Annette as an adult woman. She was breathtaking. She had a joie de vie that was contagious. She was truly inspirational, spirited, and courageous. She drew me in and even as a fictional character, I was honored to know her, and spend time with her.

Above all, I found this novel missed the one thing that would have made it a 4, even a 5 in my book. It was missing heart. The girl in the blue beret had it, but sadly the protagonist did not.

Final Take: 3/5

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations to Poof...Books for winning our giveaway copy of The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.


An email should be waiting for you, please respond with your mailing address so we can send the book to you as soon as possible!


Thanks to everyone for entering.


As usual GJR used Random.org to generate the winner.




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Julie's Review: A Good American

Summary: An uplifting novel about the families we create and the places we call home. It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead ("What's the difference? They're both new"), and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together. Beatrice is populated with unforgettable characters: a jazz trumpeter from the Big Easy who cooks a mean gumbo, a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant, a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn about a lot more than just music, a minister who believes he has witnessed the Second Coming of Christ, and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf. A Good American is narrated by Frederick and Jette's grandson, James, who, in telling his ancestors' story, comes to realize he doesn't know his own story at all. From bare-knuckle prizefighting and Prohibition to sweet barbershop harmonies, the Kennedy assassination, and beyond, James's family is caught up in the sweep of history. Each new generation discovers afresh what it means to be an American. And, in the process, Frederick and Jette's progeny sometimes discover more about themselves than they had bargained for. Poignant, funny, and heartbreaking, A Good American is a novel about being an outsider-in your country, in your hometown, and sometimes even in your own family. It is a universal story about our search for home. ~amazon.com

Review:  How does a Brit write the quintessential American novel? Easy, he's an immigrant himself and has a love for this country that is evident in his writing.  A Good American is a novel that one won't forget and will come back to again and again. I was immediately swept up in the love story of Frederick and Jette. How could any girl resist a man who sang Opera? It is this love and devotion to each other that sets the journey of this family on their way to America. The story is told by the grandson of Frederick and Jette, James. For me, he was the perfect storyteller. He was honest and flawed.

What develops is a family that has trials and tribulations for generations but yet finds that the strength to persevere comes from the ties they have to each other. What binds them together is their history and in the end their love for one another. We see 3 generations of this family through James' eyes as he reflects back on life and how their family came to be in Beatrice, Missouri. The family experiences many of the major American historical events personally and in ways that will sometimes change the path of their lives. There are two things that hold constant: music and food. I loved how these two things were an integral part of their lives; one because of Frederick and the other because of Jette.

There are several moments in the novel when I found myself smiling and laughing reading one paragraph and the next paragraph my heart was torn apart. It is a rare author who can make you feel different emotions so quickly without making it feel like a ploy; Alex George does it extremely well.

I can't say enough great things about this book! I didn't really cry throughout the book, but as I closed the book and thought about my own grandmother(s) and grandfather(s), I found myself moved to tears. It is the kind of book that will inspire you to look into your own family's history and to start questioning your own place in your family. I could gush and gush about this book, but seriously just go and read it for yourself. I'm certain you will agree with me.

Mr. George also has a wonderful playlist on his website that speaks to the importance of music throughout the book. If you are looking for a truly remarkable novel that touches on family, love and American history, then look no further than A Good American. This is one book that I will be pushing on people to read. (I already told my dad to download it to his Kindle).


Final Take: 5/5



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Monday, February 13, 2012

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations to Felecia for winning our giveaway copy of The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson.


An email should be waiting for you, please respond with your mailing address so we can send the book to you as soon as possible!


Thanks to everyone for entering.


As usual GJR used Random.org to generate the winner.


Our thanks to the publicist for providing the giveaway.


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And the Winner Is...


Congratulations to Margaret, Literary Chanteuse, you have won our copy of The Magic Room, a collection of wedding stories by Jeffrey Zaslow.

An email should be waiting for you, please respond with your mailing address so we can send the book to you as soon as possible!

Thanks to everyone for entering.

As usual GJR used Random.org to generate the winner.

Our thanks to the publicist for providing the giveaway.
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Children's Corner: Me and My Dragon

"Some kids want a dog. Others would like a cat.  I want a dragon!  But not a big dragon.  A big dragon wouldn't fit in my house.  I wouldn't want a three-headed dragon either.  It might not get along with itself.  I'd choose a fire-breathing dragon..."  Thus starts an amusing rumination on the benefits and drawbacks of having a fire-breathing pet dragon.  (I live in Buffalo, NY, so I totally want it for the demonstrated snow clearing purpose...)

The illustrations in this are brilliant, figuratively and literally and they really bring the story to life.  They're detailed without being cluttered and add little things to observe and chuckle over, like the dragon's knight doll and the corrugated castle the boy creates as a 'house' for his pet.  It leaves plenty of scope for the imagination.

Kidlet and I have been chuckling about it since we brought it home from the library, and I think this one is going to make it into the permanent collection.  It's just that fun.  And maybe, just maybe, it will help me dissuade my daughter's desire for a pet monkey...

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Julie's Review: I've Got Your Number

Summary: I’ve lost it. :( The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive :) !! Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect! Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.
What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life. ~amazon.com

Review: In three words: vintage Sophie Kinsella. Poppy is hilarious. Right off the bat I knew I'd like her. She's a good person, she's happy and she's getting married to someone she's dated for a few months; Magnus. The thing about Poppy is she's a little scatterbrained, which leads to her misplacing her engagement ring...a family heirloom! She's in such a state that she's not aware of her surroundings and her phone gets snatched. Like most of us, her phone is the ties to her life. Somehow she finds a phone that was pitched in the trash and decides to use it. This is where the story gets funny and endearing.

I think we all know where the book is going to end up but it's the ride that carries the book. Poppy gets herself into all sorts of trouble by trying to be helpful. She's just that kind of person to try to help someone she views as needing help. She sees Sam as uptight and made of stone. He sees her as a people-pleaser with an inability to stand up for herself. Are they both right? I'm not going to spoil that for you.

The way that  Ms. Kinsella tells a good portion of the story is through the text and emails that Sam and Poppy send back and forth, along with commentary by Poppy. We also get to know more of Poppy's thoughts through the use of footnotes. I have to say at first I found them a bit annoying but I did get used to them and they did add a bit of humor to the story (not that it didn't have it in the regular text).
Of course there is always some kind of misunderstanding but it was clever and charming. As always, the secondary characters were colorful and different from each other. No one was a cookie cutter or stereotypical character.

This is definitely high up there on my list of favorite Sophie Kinsella books but I will always recommend
Can You Keep a Secret?, Twenties Girl and The Undomestic Goddess religiously.

If you are a fan of Sophie Kinsella's books, then you definitely shouldn't miss out on I've Got Your Number.

Final Take: 4.75/5







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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jenn's Review: Aftertaste

Summary:  Mira Rinaldi lives life at a rolling boil. Co-owner of Grappa, a chic New York City trattoria, she has an enviable apartment, a brand-new baby, and a frenzied schedule befitting her success.

Everything changes the night she catches her husband, Jake, "wielding his whisk" with Grappa's new waitress. Mira's fiery response earns her a court-ordered stint in anger management and the beginning of legal and personal predicaments as she battles to save her restaurant and pick up the pieces of her life.

Mira falls back on family and friends in Pittsburgh as she struggles to find a recipe for happiness. But the heat is really on when some surprising developments in New York present her with a high stakes opportunity to win back what she thought she had lost forever. For Mira, cooking isn't just about delicious flavours and textures, but about the pleasure found in filling others' needs. And the time has come to decide where her own fulfilment lies - even if the answers are unexpected.

Keenly observed and deeply satisfying, Aftertaste is a novel about rebuilding and rediscovery, about food passionately prepared and unapologetically savored, and about the singular contentment that comes with living--and loving--with gusto.  ~product description

Review:  There are many kinds of Food-Lit, and really, I love them all.  Needless to say, I was excited to see Aftertaste come up on the Library Thing Early Reviewer's list and even more excited when I was awarded a review copy.  Aftertaste is Food-Lit in the sense that the story revolves around the life of a chef... and there are some nice recipes at the end of the novel (a la Barbara O'Neal).  It's a novel of self-discovery through food, family, and friends.

It is a true testament to an author's writing skills when they can enthrall me with a tale even though I don't like the main character.  Debut author Meredith Mileti reeled me right in.  Mira is a woman scorned, and while she has every right to be angry, her rash behavior when she looses her temper continues to cost her dearly.  She also continues to give her soon-to-be-ex-husband the benefit of the doubt time and again, repeatedly opening herself, and worse yet their daughter, up to heartache and rejection over and over.  Quite frankly, I wanted to shake her throughout most of the book.  She is slow to learn a lesson and oh, so naive.  But Mira's true to life and her friendships are genuine and it is those traits that kept me engaged.

I liked the concept of 'a novel in five courses' but while I was reading, I honestly paid very little attention to the divisions as I was too engrossed with the story.   In retrospect I think they were very fitting.  The food and food preparation included is done seamlessly and is a warm, hearty part of the story.  While there aren't a ton of twists and turns, it is a lovely read just for the relationships. I would have been happy to see Meredith Mileti dig even deeper into each character as they were all so different and so important in their own right. I was glad that Mira learned her lesson before she was clobbered over the head with it ~again; it was a relief.  The recipes at the end were a nice touch, but had they been excluded, I wouldn't have missed them.

All in all, I am very impressed my Meredith Mileti and anxiously await her next book.  I hope she sticks with the Food-Lit because it is most definitely her niche!  If you enjoy food-lit, Aftertaste is for you; and Meredith Mileti is an author to watch.

Final Take:  4.25/5

Want your own little taste?  Here is an excerpt.
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