HUMP DAY SPARKS: WAITING ON “IT’S YOU”

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday, our special day for sharing upcoming book releases.  Hop on over to Breaking the Spine to find out what everyone else is excited about.

A book I am eagerly awaiting is from Jane Porter, one of my go-to authors.  It’s You is coming out on June 2, 2015.

 

 

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Amazon Description:  In the wake of a tragedy that tore her life down to the foundations, Dr. Alison McAdams has lost her way. So when she’s summoned to Napa to care for her ailing father, she’s not sure she has anything to offer him—or anyone else.

What Ali finds in Northern California wine country is a gift—an opportunity to rest, and distance from her painful memories. Most unexpectedly, she finds people who aren’t afraid of her grief or desperate for her to hurry up and move on.

As Ali becomes part of her father’s community, makes new friends of her own, and hears the stories of a generation who survived the Second World War, she begins to find hope again. In a quest to discover the truth about another woman’s lost love, she sets off on a journey across oceans and deep into history. And in making sense of that long-ago tragedy, Ali is able to put together the broken pieces of her heart and make new choices that are right for her.

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I love the characters, the settings, and the plots of this author’s books, so I am very excited about this one.  What are you sharing today?

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ONE WOMAN’S JOURNEY TO REDEMPTION — A REVIEW

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In a life that, in many ways, mirrored that of a star named Marilyn Monroe, the author of RagDoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe has been able to move beyond the pain, uncertainty, and abuse of her past to a life of redemption.

Her story shows the reader the nightmare of a childhood tainted by her illegitimacy and her quest to find love and acceptance. Poverty and abuse by the men who married her mother would turn her life into a nightmare. Longing to escape, she grasped the first man who seemed to be her Prince. The fact that he was Joe DiMaggio’s son and had his own obsession with Marilyn was not readily apparent.

As we read about the struggles of a young woman who, despite her efforts to escape pain and disappointment, had found another world of hurt in this marriage, we also see that her persistence will ultimately be her saving grace.

Through her failed marriages, her alcoholism, and her desperate attempts to find independence and redemption, at some point there is a small glimmer of hope that shines through when she encounters some special people along the way. Those who reinforce her determination and show her another way. Another perspective.

Now the author has found her redemption, and the journey toward it is a captivating read. Four stars.

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I purchased this book in May 2012, so my review will satisfy one of the tasks for the Mt. TBR Challenge 2013.

HUMP DAY SPARKS: WAITING ON WEDNESDAY — BETWEEN YOU & ME — 4/11

Welcome to Hump Day Sparks, my place to feature this Waiting on Wednesday event, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Today I’m spotlighting a book to be released on June 12, 2012:  Between You and Me, by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.

From the authors of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Nanny Diaries comes a new novel that takes readers behind the scenes of stratospheric celebrity—what it means to be worshipped by millions and still feel loved by none.

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus have proven again and again that they are masters at exploring the nuances of family relationships—as they intersect with the current trends in the culture at large.

 In Between You and Me, twenty-seven-year-old Logan Wade has built a life for herself in New York City, far from her unhappy childhood in Oklahoma. But when she gets the call that her famous cousin needs a new assistant, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. Logan hasn’t seen Kelsey since they were separated as kids; in the meantime, Kelsey Wade has become one of Fortune Magazine’s most powerful celebrities and carrion for the paparazzi. But the joy at their reunion is overshadowed by the toxic dynamic between Kelsey and her controlling parents. As Kelsey grasps desperately at a “real” life, Logan risks everything to try and give her cousin the one thing she has never known—happiness. As Kelsey unravels in the most horribly public way Logan finds that she will ultimately have to choose between saving her cousin and saving herself.

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What are you excited about today?  What are you drooling over?  Come on by and tempt me….

SPINNING NEW CONNECTIONS — A REVIEW

When your life is spinning out of control, you might have to take a leap of faith to put a new spin on things.

Or so Katie Sanford thinks, when pushed up against the wall. It all started when she appears for her dream job interview still drunk from the night before. The night when she was just going to have one drink, and that one led to so many that she blacked out.

She is surprised to get that call a few weeks later from someone at the magazine where she interviewed. But the proposition before her is so astounding she isn’t sure she can do it. Go into rehab on the company’s “dime,” and get the scoop on a celebrity who has just entered that very center.

But she goes for it, feeling as if she can pull off the big act. But what surprises Katie the most is that the stories she hears in group and the insights she develops in individual sessions tell the truth about who she is and what her life has become. More drunken nights than she cares to count and more lies than she can recall.

During the thirty days of rehab and the first few days afterwards, Katie struggles with what she has learned about herself, and about her budding connection to the target of her story. Yes, she and celebrity target Amber have become friends.

What will happen when Katie has to turn in her story? What would happen if she doesn’t? And how will Henry, a man she is beginning to care about, feel when he learns of her betrayal?

Finding out what happens after, and what Katie’s decisions will do to her life kept me turning pages. I have a bit of an understanding of the rehab process from the work I did for many years, so the lingo, the process, and what it feels like to be confined were all authentically captured by the author. Kudos to McKenzie…and I loved every minute of the descriptions of New York life from the scene setting, the characters, and the repartee between the characters. I felt almost like I was right there with them. Five stars for Spin.


WOW — ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART — JAN. 4

 

Welcome to another edition of Waiting on Wednesday, our opportunity to shout out about the wonderful books we are anticipating.  Hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine, you can join in, too; just follow the link.

Today I’m excited about a book by one of my favorite authors, Jane Green; Another Piece of My Heart is due out on 3/13/12.

From the New York Times bestselling author of JEMIMA J, and THE BEACH HOUSE, comes Jane Green’s most emotional and powerful novel yet:  a story that explores the complications of a woman marrying into a ready-made family, and the true meaning of motherhood.

Andi has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at thirty-seven, she’s finally found him.  Ethan—divorced with two daughters, Emily and Sophia—is a devoted father and even better husband.  Always hoping one day she would be a mother, Andi embraces the girls like they were her own. But in Emily’s eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father’s love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. When the dynamics between the two escalate, they threaten everything Andi believes about love, family, and motherhood—leaving both women standing at a crossroad in their lives…and in their hearts. ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART is a novel that illuminates the nuances and truths about relationships and is Jane Green at her absolute best.

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I have already preordered this one…so I am very excited about it.  What are you drooling over today?  Come on by and share….

CONNECTING IN LIFE & IN YOGA — A REVIEW

Finding a balance in their lives is a common theme for the four women in Balancing Acts: A Novel.

They met years before in college, and at a reunion, they reconnect and decide to join a basic yoga class for six weeks on Saturday mornings.

A Brooklyn neighborhood is at the centerpiece of this story, and sets the stage for the lifestyle action that follows. I could relate to the women, even though I’ve never lived in New York; and enjoyed reading about their journey toward finding their balance. Work, relationships, family—they each must address issues in these categories. Even though only one is a mother at the beginning, there is definitely the possibility for the issue of children to enter all of their lives.

Told from the perspectives of each of the women, I especially could relate to Naomi, the single mom, since I’ve also experienced that journey. For Bess and Sabine, the writers in the group, their career choices resonated with me as well. With Charlie, as the former Wall Street executive and current yoga studio owner, I connected the least. However, I found her experiences intriguing.

Balancing our lives and balancing on the yoga mat were intriguing analogies throughout this story, which I recommend for anyone who enjoys stories about women, friendship, and the balancing acts in life. The story was also a familiar one, like many stories of New York women finding their way: therefore, four stars.

MEETING THE WORLD WITH HOPE IN HER HEART — A REVIEW

Deeply hidden secrets spark the storyline in Heather Gudenkauf’s second book, and we only gradually come to know them, as they are revealed in snippets throughout the novel.

Told in alternating points of view, we meet each character, one by one, and come to understand their connections to one another and to a little boy named Joshua.

Allison’s horrific crime strikes a chord with anyone who has ever given birth and felt the need for secrecy. What we learn later is shocking and somewhat understandable, given the nature of the other characters and their backstory.

Charm plays a role, as does Claire; Brynn’s role seems more like a supporting one…at least in the beginning.

I loved the pace that gradually defined who the characters were and their relationship to the core plot of These Things Hidden. In short chapters devoted to each character, there is a subtle unfolding in dramatic bursts that leads finally to a satisfying conclusion. Five stars! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves dramatic stories of family, secrets, and the connections that bind people to one another.

EMPATHY: A STEPPING STONE TO CONNECTING — A REVIEW

Three female members of a family at different stages of their lives are trying to coexist.

Sandwiched between her seventy-six-year-old mother, Ivy, and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Caroline, Joanie Pilcher (approaching fifty) feels overwhelmed at times, emotionally bankrupt, and definitely misunderstood. She is so “done” with men that she has vowed never to have sex again. Caroline is at a point of fearing that she will never find anyone to love her, much less to have sex with her. And Ivy is flailing about, trying to discover who she is in this new life in which she has no real place of her own, and in her attempt to define who she is, she makes some risky choices.

In the voices of each female, we come to understand their dilemmas as we peek inside each one in turn; and then we have the opportunity to root for each of them as this story unfolds to yield a very satisfying meeting of the minds.

Along the way, we meet the women in Joanie’s support group; Caroline’s only friend Sondra; and observe Ivy’s somewhat unusual friendship with a waitress named Lupe.

We also see glimpses of the young woman B. J., whom Joanie’s ex-husband is now planning to marry. She is at an entirely different place in her life, but each character has a chance to see her at a time of crisis, and in this moment, Ivy and Caroline each see a side of Joanie they had never acknowledged.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough is a story that can resonate with any woman who has ever been a mother, a daughter, or a displaced elderly person, and reminds us that empathy is the stepping stone to connecting with those we love.

Five stars.

ONE WOMAN’S JOURNEY TOWARD EPIPHANY — A REVIEW

In this funny, hilarious, but sometimes poignant exploration of life “just over the other side of young,” Stephanie Dolgoff begins her tale by identifying some of the characteristics of that phenomenon—like salespeople in trendy boutiques that no longer “swirl around me like bees over a puddle of orange soda…” In fact, these people no longer could be bothered. Another sign: being asked a question by a “hot” guy on the train, which normally might be a precursor to being “hit on,” but that turns out just to be a question.

Then there are the pores. Enlarged suddenly and sometimes with a hair or two growing out of them. Or experiencing certain unpleasant body changes that are followed by the realization that clothes that used to “work” no longer seem appropriate…Somewhere between “hot” and “old,” there must be appropriate “tween” garments that work, but finding them is a whole other level of tediousness.

As a working woman and mother to young twins, the author also describes the difficulties of arranging social activities amongst friends who are also parents and career people. And how other friends—those single friends not tied down by spouses or children—are no longer even part of one’s life.

Probably the part to which I could most relate was the chapter in which she describes TBMFU: “the big metabolic f…k you.” When suddenly (or so it seems) the food and activities that never added pounds before…now do. She goes on to say that she is fortunate that TBMFU is her biggest health issue, and complaining about it seems “just a wee bit Tori Spelling (who was `only’ left $800K in her rich daddy’s will)”….But, she points out, it seems grossly unfair to have to work even harder to “remain in the exact same place.”

I laughed hardest during the parts when she describes technological advances that leave her feeling less than relevant.

Just when this litany was beginning to seem just a tad bit “whiney,” since she’s “only” forty-something, she begins to describe some of the advances that come with age, like in one’s attitude, expectations, and how, for example, being a “Formally usually means that your life experience has disabused you of any romantic fantasies of being whisked away from the icky parts of life, least of all by another person, let alone on a white steed.”

Nearing the end of My Formerly Hot Life: Dispatches from Just the Other Side of Young, Dolgoff describes an encounter with a twenty-something in which the young person makes a rude comment when she doesn’t stop to sign a petition, and how she totally expressed her mind to this person. And how she felt afterwards. That “what has made me happiest and most unhappy in my life, no matter how old I am, is the degree to which I feel free to express what I think, without fear of other people’s reactions or their withdrawing their love.” Getting older, even a little bit, begins that “freeing process.”

This tale is a quick and thoughtful journey through one woman’s realizations about the transitory nature of life and “hotness,” but how freedom lives just on the other side. Because there were parts that seemed (to me) tediously superficial, although I’m sure they were supposed to be ironic, I am awarding this one four stars. Not recommended for someone a great deal older who might want to say: “just count your blessings.” Which, of course, the author ends up doing.