Monday, March 30, 2015

Julie's Review: Rebel Queen


Author: Michelle Moran
Series: None
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 455
Obtained: via author
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Empowering, Inspiring and Riveting
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Summary: From the internationally bestselling author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter comes the breathtaking story of Queen Lakshmi—India’s Joan of Arc—who against all odds defied the mighty British invasion to defend her beloved kingdom. When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the mid-nineteenth century, it expects a quick and easy conquest. India is fractured and divided into kingdoms, each independent and wary of one another, seemingly no match for the might of the English. But when they arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, the British army is met with a surprising challenge. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male and one female—and rides into battle, determined to protect her country and her people. Although her soldiers may not appear at first to be formidable against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi refuses to back down from the empire determined to take away the land she loves. Told from the unexpected perspective of Sita—Queen Lakshmi’s most favored companion and most trusted soldier in the all-female army—Rebel Queen shines a light on a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction. In the tradition of her bestselling novel, Nefertiti, and through her strong, independent heroines fighting to make their way in a male dominated world, Michelle Moran brings nineteenth-century India to rich, vibrant life. ~michellemoran.com  

Review: Rebel Queen  isn't the story of a war but a story of a Queen strong enough to try to fight the British to save her country. While we might all know how that ends for India, it is the story of Queen Lakshmi and her private all female guards. The story is told from one of her Durga Dal soldiers, Sita. This make the Queen seem that much more accessible when you see her from a close confidante's point of view. She is very much a Queen of the people of Jhansi.

Sita is the heart of the story. It is her story to tell. We learn of her path to being a Durga Dal as she is later in life and reviewing her journals for an autobiography. We learn of her father's determination to make a life for her even though girls are seen as a burden instead of a joy. He makes sure that Sita has the training that she needs both mentally, emotionally, and physically so that when an opening makes itself available, she is ready. While Sita is all of these things when she is picked as the newest Durga Dal, it is the political webs that she will need to not get caught up in. She will need to learn friend from enemy and that it not always an easy task.

Must of the book focuses on the relationship between the rani and her staff. It isn't until the last quarter of the book that we get the feel for the Queen in battle. There is no doubt about her leadership ability and her passion for her people.

Ms. Moran always has a way of pulling her readers in immediately. I pretty much pre-order anytime she has a book out, even if I'm not sure or know nothing of her subject matter. She makes each of historical figures jump off the pages. Her lush descriptions in Rebel Queen of India and the palace are easy to create in your mind as you read.

It is always evident that Ms. Moran does her homework (aka research) when it comes to her subject matters. I love how she travels to the places that she is researching. She really throws herself into the research. If you want to see her travels through India then you need to check out her website, Michelle Moran, because her pictures are gorgeous. If this happens to be your first Michelle Moran book than you must immediately read her back-list. I swear you won't regret it.



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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Julie's Review: The Thirteenth Tale


Author: Diane Setterfield
Series: None
Publication Date: October 9, 2007
Publisher: Washington Street Press
Pages: 432
Obtained: borrowed from a friend
Genre:  Gothic
Rating: 3.5/5
Bottom Line: Underwhelming
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Summary: When Margaret Lea opened the door to the past, what she confronted was her destiny. All children mythologize their birth... So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist. The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission. As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves. The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life. ~powells.com

Review: The Thirteenth Tale is a book that people seem to love but unfortunately I am not in that category. I was completely underwhelmed by the novel. I figured out aspects of the story early on and by the time she pulled out the big twist, I just didn't care.  It's not to say that Ms. Setterfield doesn't know how to set the tone and atmosphere of a novel because she certainly does. One of the things I enjoyed was her description of Angelfield both past and present. I felt like I could see the stately house both as it was when the twins were living there and now as a ruins.

I don't always feel like I have to connect  with the characters but I should either connect with them or be engrossed in their tale but I wasn't. I wasn't sure if Miss Winter was really going to be telling the truth to Margaret or if she was just going to lead her on a wild goose chase as well. Margaret was fighting her own demons as well. She has been keeping a secret from her parents and her parents have been keeping a secret from her. It would have all been easier for all of them if they would have just been honest.

My favorite character in the novel was Aurelius. Once introduced in the novel, I knew he would be an integral part of the story. I also feel like he was the one who got hurt the most and while he might have answers now, he'll never fully recover from the losses he has endured.

If you are into Gothic tales, then this one will definitely interest you but if I had to pick another Gothic tale to read again it would be Kate Morton's The Distant Hours.


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Friday, March 20, 2015

Julie's Review: Accidents of Marriage


Author: Randy Susan Meyers
Series: None
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 368
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line:An intriguing look at how one moment alters a family for good
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Summary: From the bestselling author of The Comfort of Lies, an engrossing look at the darker side of a marriage—and at how an ordinary family responds to an extraordinary crisis. Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids—which works to keep a fragile peace—until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life. Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness. ~powells.com 


Review: Accidents of Marriage explores the inner workings of one family and one marriage. This is another case of me saying "You never know what happens behind closed doors." You see Ben is a highly successful attorney in the DA's office and is always so poised, put together and in control. If his employees and co-workers saw how he acted at home, they'd be shocked. You see Ben often yells, screams and throws things. His is mad all the time. It is evident from the start he has some anger issues going on. These things make it very hard to like him. I feel sorry for him and pity him but definitely did not like him. He's very selfish and self-righteous and I never saw him change or understand that.

It's easy to like Maddy because we can all identify with her in some capacity. Working-mom, loyal friend, wife, frazzled by all the things she has to get done. It's also easy to criticize her; why doesn't she just leave? Can't she make him get help? You also understand why it may not be easy for her to address any of those questions. She loves him and sometimes loves makes us endure the things we know we shouldn't.

I feel the most of the their oldest daughter, Emma. As Maddy tries to recover from the accident, Emma becomes a surrogate mother to the children. All while she is still a child herself. While I wasn't sure if Emma could rise to the occasion I was happy she was able to. Even those she rose to it, it was still way too much on her young shoulders, even with the help of her grandmother. I'm not surprised that she rebels as any teenager would.

Maddy will have her share of mountains to climb but I loved the ending of the book. There's a part in the end where Ben and her are talking about the state of their marriage, Maddy tells him that she needs to concentrate on her and getting better. There is so much emotion and history in that conversation that it summed up the book so well.

Ms. Meyers has a fantastic way of putting you in the novel as a "fly on the wall" instead of just a reader. Her books suck you in and you almost immediately care for the characters. She always has an interesting perspective given her career history and it definitely adds layers to her novels.

I can't recommend Accidents of Marriage enough and The Murderer's Daughters is fantastic as well.


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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jenn's Review: The Silkworm



Author: Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym), J.K. Rowling
Series: Cormoran Strike #2
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Pages: 455
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Crime, Mystert
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Captivating
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Blurb:  When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...
 

  Review:   Rowling as Galbraith is just as enthralling as Rowling as Rowling. There is something engaging about the worlds and characters she creates that makes them captivating. I’ve actually been saving this novel for a while because I knew I’d be disappointed to have to wait for the next installment… and I am.

Cormoron has been busy since the Landry case, although for once he’s not scrambling for cases, he’s scrambling to keep up with his caseload. Yet when Mrs. Quine walks into his office with an odd request that may or maynot recompense, Strike feels inclined to take on her case. From the beginning nothing plays quite right with the case and as the idiosyncrasies mount, Cormoran gets pulled further into the case.

Robin is frustrated at home and at work. Her fiancée continues to disparage her career choice and her association with Strike in general. Strike, sensing the tension, has been trying to shift investigative responsibilities away from Robin which is making her miserable as that’s the part of her job she enjoys most. When Strike is forced to rely on her, Robin does her best to prove her value but her extra efforts will not go unnoticed on the home front.

As per usual, I had no idea where the mystery was headed. The twists and turns had me completely flummoxed… and thoroughly intrigued. I had a difficult time putting it down. If you are looking for spellbinding contemporary crime novels with realistic characters the Cormoran Strike series is definitely for you.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Julie's Review: The Girl on the Train


Author: Paula Hawkins
Series: None
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Thriller
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Trippy
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Summary: A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives. Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut. ~amazon.com  

Review: The Girl on the Train is a trippy thriller with not a single likable character. I am of the thought though that you can still appreciate a book even if you can't like or identify with the characters. Rachel is a drunk. Megan has some mental issues. Anna is a narcissist veiled as a loving wife and mother. Don't even get me started on the men in the book. Pretty much all of the characters are pathetic. That doesn't mean you shouldn't read this book because you should if you like thrillers especially ones that have you turning the page wondering what the heck was going on.

The novel alternates views but for this reader the most interesting POV was Rachel's. Was she seeing things as they really were or was her alcohol swimming brain altering her view? I vacillated between feeling sorry for Rachel and finding her pathetic. In the end though, I felt sorry for her. She was emotionally abused and walked all over. These things take a toll on someone and can change a person and how they cope with life. Rachel needs to take control of her life and by the end of novel I had hope for her.

Unfortunately for most of the novel Rachel is desperate to have some normalcy in her life so she makes up lives for the people she sees out the window of her train. She's desperate to be involved in something that she really does pick the wrong situation to insert herself into.

I figured the mystery out about halfway through the novel but I wanted to see how Ms. Hawkins would reveal it to the characters. I kind of hate to admit this but in the end I feel like Anna got what was coming to her. In many ways she was no better or different than the men in the novel. She was a home-wrecker who chose to not see the signs that things weren't what they seemed.

I know this book is getting a lot of comparison to Gone Girl but other than the unreliable narrator I don't see the similarities. I thought the ending of Gone Girl was much more twisted than The Girl on the Train.

If you want to read a page-turner of a thriller, then you should definitely pick up The Girl on the Train.


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Friday, March 13, 2015

Julie's Review: It Takes a Witch


Author: Heather Blake
Series: Wishcraft #1
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Obsidian
Pages: 320
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Mystery, Paranormal
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Great cozy mystery with a bit of witchcraft thrown in
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Summary: Darcy Merriweather has just discovered she hails from a long line of Wishcrafters-witches with the power to cast spells by making a wish. She's come to Enchanted Village to learn her trade but finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation... ~product description

Review: It Takes a Witch is a great book to curl up with when you need something cozy to read. Ms. Blake (who also writes as Heather Webber) never lets me down with her wonderful heroines and Darcy is no different. She recently learned that she has witching powers which is the ability to grant wishes. Of course there are always catches to new powers and Darcy is definitely still learning. Darcy is trying to figure out who murdered a resident of the Enchanted Village,Alexandra Shively, because she doesn't think that it's the person the police arrested.

What ensues is Darcy looking at each of the residents closely. While doing the sleuthing she also gets to know each of the inhabitants powers usually by accident.  Darcy isn't really even sure of all of the rules that go a long with her new found powers. Not to mention the dreamy former state police officer that is helping to investigate the rash of pickpockets in the village, who seems to only have eyes for Darcy.


What I love about they way Ms. Blake writes is that I immediately want to move to the location. While the Enchanted Village might be a tourist destination it is where witches live in safety. Plus it just seems like the kind of town that you can relax in and feel at home in. Plus I just love all the characters she has for this little town. Aunt Ve is a hoot and Harper is a great free-spirit to Darcy's worrywart personality.

Also, I can't wait to see what happens with Nick and Darcy. It should also be fun learning who has what witchy powers and how they all interact.

I already have the next two books (A Witch Before Dying, The Good, the Bad, and the Witchy in the series on my shelf and will definitely be looking to get back to them soon. If you love cozy mysteries and a bit of paranormal, then this series is for you.

Jenn's Review


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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Julie's Review: The Weight of Silence


Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Series: None
Publication Date: June 28, 2009
Publisher: Mira
Pages: 384
Obtained: on loan from a friend
Genre:  Mystery
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Riveting
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Summary: It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night. Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler. Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice. Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor. Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets. ~amazon.com  

Review: The Weight of Silence is a taut mystery/thriller that happens over the course of 24 hours. At first it is easy for the reader to believe that these disappearances are related but it quickly revealed that they are not. We know what happens to Callie but the real mystery is what happened to Petra. Most of the novel is spent on the back-story of the Clark family. It is not the happiest back-story and we find out why Callie is mute, which is sad and disgusting.

My favorite character was Ben. The way Ms. Gudenkauf describes him, he sounds imposing but his actions are caring and gentle. No one could be a better big brother to and for Callie than him. He watches out for her and takes care of her when their mom has other things on her mind. It is Ben who runs into the woods to look for his sister. It is Ben who is distraught when she is not in all their special places and he is the one that continues to go looking for her.

Ms. Gudenkauf writes a riveting story about two best friends who understand each other so well that one doesn't even have to speak for her friend to know her needs. How many of us would love a friend (or husband) that can do that? Several times you think you know where the story is going and then she takes you down a different path. She does a fantastic job of describing the woods by the Clark's house. You really feel like you are with Ben searching for Callie.

The ending wasn't really what I expected but not in a bad way. I really enjoyed how it ended and how Ms. Gudenkauf gave us a glimpse into the future. I will definitely be looking to read her other books.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Julie's Review: That Summer


Author: Lauren Willig
Series: None
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Modern story more interesting than historical story
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Summary: 2009: When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. She hasn't been back to England since the car crash that killed her mother when she was six, an event she remembers only in her nightmares. But when she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house—with the help of her cousin Natasha and sexy antiques dealer Nicholas—bits of memory start coming back. And then she discovers a pre-Raphaelite painting, hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, and a window onto the house's shrouded history begins to open... 1849: Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man, Arthur. The one bright spot in her life is her step-daughter, Evie, a high-spirited sixteen year old who is the closest thing to a child Imogen hopes to have. But everything changes when three young painters come to see Arthur's collection of medieval artifacts, including Gavin Thorne, a quiet man with the unsettling ability to read Imogen better than anyone ever has. When Arthur hires Gavin to paint her portrait, none of them can guess what the hands of fate have set in motion. From modern-day England to the early days of the Preraphaelite movement, Lauren Willig's That Summer takes readers on an un-put-downable journey through a mysterious old house, a hidden love affair, and one woman’s search for the truth about her past—and herself. ~amazon.com  

Review: That Summer is a novel of two love stories: one forbidden and one with complications. It's pretty evident from the onset of Imogen's introduction to one of the artists where her story is going to go. She's in a love-less marriage and has been raising her step-daughter, Evie, as her own. Her husband, Arthur, is wrapped up in his business affairs and treats his wife in the same manner. Basically, Imogen is bored. What a better way to cure boredom than to have an illicit affair with an artist.

Julia grew up not knowing much about her mother or her mother's side of the family, so when she inherits the old family house, she decides to go to England to clean it out.  As she discovers a painting that is tucked away in an old wardrobe, the mystery of who painted it. The house is also starting to bring back memories of her childhood before she moved to New York with her father.

This is only my second Lauren Willig book and I have to say I enjoyed The Ashford Affair much more. It wasn't too hard to figure out the mystery of the novel. What interested me more was what Julia started to uncover about her mother and the accident that killed her. I also liked how falling for Nicholas made her reflect on her inablity to stay in long term relationships.

While it might not be my pick for book of the year, I still enjoyed reading it.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Julie's Review: A Fireproof Home for the Bride


Author: Amy Scheibe
Series: None
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: A heroine that you never stop rooting for in a very well told story
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Summary: Emmaline Nelson and her sister Birdie grow up in the hard, cold rural Lutheran world of strict parents, strict milking times, and strict morals. Marriage is preordained, the groom practically predestined. Though it's 1958, southern Minnesota did not see changing roles for women on the horizon. Caught in a time bubble between a world war and the ferment of the 1960's, Emmy doesn't see that she has any say in her life, any choices at all. Only when Emmy's fiancé shows his true colors and forces himself on her does she find the courage to act--falling instead for a forbidden Catholic boy, a boy whose family seems warm and encouraging after the sere Nelson farm life. Not only moving to town and breaking free from her engagement but getting a job on the local newspaper begins to open Emmy's eyes. She discovers that the KKK is not only active in the Midwest but that her family is involved, and her sense of the firm rules she grew up under--and their effect--changes completely. Amy Scheibe's A FIREPROOF HOME FOR THE BRIDE has the charm of detail that will drop readers into its time and place: the home economics class lecture on cuts of meat, the group date to the diner, the small-town movie theater popcorn for a penny. It also has a love story--the wrong love giving way to the right--and most of all the pull of a great main character whose self-discovery sweeps the plot forward. ~macmillian.com

Review: A Fireproof Home for the Bride is a coming of age story that definitely touches on a variety of social issues. Not only were the issues pertinent in the 1950s but they are still relevant in today's society. Emmaline, aka Emmy, has lived on the family farm with a devoutly religious upbringing the majority of her life. Until her father decides to move the family to the town and she begins to see the world around her. She is also betrothed to a friend of the family who is 10 years older than her. Things start to change when a mysterious man comes to town to stir up trouble. They also start to change as Emmy is exposed to new people and new ideas.

What Ms. Scheibe does is show us how the world is changing in the 1950s through Emmy as starts to grow into adulthood. She shows us how narrow-minded the world could be at that time. How family isn't always what it seems and how as you grow into adulthood, you learn to accept your family; flaws and all.

While the plot is interesting, it is truly a character driven novel. While I did want to figure out the mystery of the fires, it wasn't too hard to figure out in the end. Emmy is the heart of the novel and the surrounding characters all bring different aspects to the story. Her mom, Karen, shapes Emmy with being stand-offish, cold and practical. She is the opposite of what Emmy wants to become. Her father is quiet but gives her strength in the way that he approaches issues.

There were a couple of twists in the novel that I didn't see coming. When one was gently revealed, I felt like a complete dope for not seeing it sooner. I loved that she was able to snooker this reader. I loved how Emmy did come into her own and it was through finding her independence that she blossoms. I loved that she found her passion in working at the newspaper. I loved that she wanted to be her own person.

If you enjoy coming of age novels set in a historical time of change, you should definitely pick up
A Fireproof Home for the Bride.



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Monday, March 2, 2015

Julie's Review: Stay


Author: Allie Larkin
Series: None
Publication Date: July 26, 2011

Publisher: Plume
Pages: 308
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Joe, the dog, steals your heart and the novel
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Summary: Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke since their first day of college. Six years later, Peter is marrying Van's best friend, Janie. Loyal to a fault, Van dons her pumpkin-orange, maid-of- honor gown and stands up for the couple, struggling to hide her true feelings even when she couldn't be more conspicuous. After the wedding, nursing her broken heart with a Rin Tin Tin marathon plus a vodka chaser, Van accidentally orders a German Shepherd puppy over the Internet. When "Joe" turns out to be a hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, Van is at the end of her rope-until she realizes that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better. ~powells.com

Review: If a book cover were to ever make me want to get a dog, then the cover for Stay accomplishes that. Problem: Kids are allergic to dogs and well Joe is a German Shepard one of my favorite breeds. So, for now, I will live through Van's experience and just stare at the cute puppy on the cover.

Van, short for Savannah, is at the wedding of her two best friends as the book opens up. Except shes' secretly been in love with the groom since meeting him in college. The problem is, she never expressed feelings to Peter. So, while nursing her broken heart she orders a puppy over the Internet, which you already know isn't going to be exactly what she expects. Fortunately for Van, he's exactly what she needs. 

While the book might seem like it's about Van getting over Peter, but it's about the relationship with her mom and her mom's best friend. It's about figuring out what makes her happy. Is it really Peter that will make her happy? As she and Joe settle into a routine, she learns to move on, which might just include a handsome veterinarian.

Ms. Larkin writes Van so that no matter where you are in your life, you can relate to her. She could be your best friend, you, your sister, etc. The point is, she's an accessible heroine.  You want her to find happiness and to learn sometimes letting go is getting happy.  There are times when I laughed out loud, especially when it came to some of Joe's antics. There were also a couple times when my eyes got teary because of what Van had to deal with at the time. The secondary characters in Stay are a hoot. Not only do they provide some comic relief but some life lessons as well.

If you like dogs or even if you don't, you really should check out Stay. It's a quick and delightful read. 

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