Thursday, April 24, 2014

In The Mirror

In the Mirror
by Kaira Rouda

In the Mirror

Camille's Rating: 3*

I received this ARC from and Real You Publishing Group for an honest review.

The entire premise of this book is that if you found out you were going to die soon, what choices would you make today? Would you do things differently? Who would you want to see? Would it change your words or actions?

This novel begins with Jennifer--wife, mother of two, entrepreneur--in a hospice facility with breast cancer. As the story unfolds the reader realizes she has been there for several months and her condition is serious. She is also planning a "life celebration" party--basically her wake, but she gets to attend and see all the people she cares about before she actually dies. Her closest friend in the facility is a man in much worse health who is facing the same challenges she is with family. Their friendship is used to help her grow in hope and reality as she moves forward in her diagnosis.

As the invitations are sent out, an old boyfriend emerges to reconnect. Her feelings of helplessness and hopelessness lead her to make some wrong choices and spend time with him without her husband's knowledge. The evening goes haywire and puts her marriage in jeopardy. As the couple realizes they are drifting apart, they make the needed changes to become a stronger couple. 

The last part of the novel is the party at her home with family and friends. As the novel ends, Jennifer is left with feelings of .....well, I don't want to spoil it--read it then decide for yourself.

I liked the book, but didn't love it. I wasn't emotionally pulled into the story like I thought I would be. I felt that many of the characters weren't rounded out and seemed to not matter at all to the plot. They were just there. I would like to have understood the relationship with her parents more, but it wasn't really flushed out. I did enjoy Jennifer's business partner, he added some humor to the story. Overall, I gave it 3* because I didn't feel it pull me in as I expected from the other reviews I saw online. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Memory Garden

The Memory Garden
Mary Rickert

Abbie's Rating:★★★
 I received this as an Advanced Readers Copy from NetGalley and the Publisher,in exchange for an honest review.

This is a story of three old women and one young girl. The women haven't spoken to each other since they were teenagers. Secrets tore these women apart, and secrets now bring them back together.
Bay a young teenager, adopted by Nan, has realised she is not like everyone else. She thinks Nan is a Witch, and thinks Ruthie has killed someone. She keeps see in mysterious people in the garden, only to find out that they are really ghost, and Bay herself was born a Witch. We meet Howard, who dosent want to tell his family he is Gay. Mavis, and odd duck, and Ruthie who loves to cook.
Mavis and Howard end up moving to Africa, and Bay finds out that both Nan and Ruthie are witches.
This stories has ghost, mystery, and a few spontaneous moments throughout the book.
Overall I enjoyed the story, but do wish we could of learned more about Bay's Birth mother.

The House We Grew Up In

The House We Grew Up In
by Lisa Jewell

The House We Grew Up In

Camille's rating: 4*

I received this ARC from NetGalley and Atria Books. 

The Bird Family is a little out there, eccentric is the proper word. The parents are distant from each other, the daughters are distant from the parents, and the twin boys are distant from each other. The novel begins with an email from Lorelei Bird (mother) to an online date, Jim. Their relationship is actually superfluous to the main plot and used mainly to reveal secrets and fill in the gaps. The story begins on an Easter holiday and captures several more throughout the book. As the novel continues, the characters are revealed and we see the family has broken much like the egg on the cover art. 

The family has many problems and each is revealed slowly. I liked how the author moved back and forth between past and present before revealing all the family secrets. This kept me involved and wanting to keep reading. There were many surprises and just when I thought I had the mother's situation all figured out, wow...another surprise. Jewell does a great job of describing the characters through their thoughts and words, but also through their interactions with others. She rounds out each character quite nicely.

Although religion is not a theme in the novel, I noticed  the correlation to Easter. In the Christian religion, Easter is a time of death and resurrection. In the secular world, we often think of it as a time of rebirth and things becoming like new. Each character has a death-either literally or figuratively-and a rebirth or resurrection. I enjoy books that make me think even after I've finished reading. Thank you, Lisa Jewell.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

No Sunshine When She's Gone

Jingles's Rating ★★★.5
No Sunshine When She’s Gone
(Series:  Barefoot William #3)

April 19, 2013

Rating: ★★★.5
Aidan Cates meets Jillian Mac in a very tight situation.  He’s with a woman who claims to love him, and has insisted they stop at a fortune teller’s table to find out where they really stand with their relationship.  The fortune teller they see is not a really a fortune teller at all.  She’s Community Liaison for the Richmond Rogues, just recently arrived in small town Barefoot William.  What unfolds is a very humorous dance between two people obviously attracted to one another; however, there are a couple of things they need to work out first.  Jillian is known to tell a white lie now and then, while Aidan likes it straight up honest.  Jillian is a tad gun shy in the relationship department, while Aidan knows what he wants.  Meanwhile, in the background we have another brewing situation between Mike (who works for Aiden) and Carrie (who works with Jillian).  It’s a story that is funny one minute, and touching the next.

What I liked:
First of all, I love the connection between the Richmond Rogues and Barefoot William.  Totally awesome!  I liked the humorous banter between Jillian and Aidan, and seeing their story unfold.  What I enjoyed most though, was the background story of Carrie and Mike. 

What I didn’t like:
To me, the story seemed to stall at times, and the connection between Aidan and Jillian seemed totally lost.  I also would have loved for Carrie and Mike to have their own separate story.

Overall it is a 3.5 star read for me, and I look forward to more of the series.

Arc received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No Place To Run

Jingles' Rating ★★★★.5
No Place to Run by Maya Banks
(Series:  KGI, #2)
April 16, 2013
Rating: ★★★★.5
What an action packed book!  Sophie comes from a cruel world—one in which she is mercilessly used by her father to lure in former operative and head of KGI, Sam Kelly.    They have a little fling – no questions asked, no promises made …just a little hook up on the side.   Real life soon returns though and Sophie finds herself in a lot of trouble.  She’s pregnant and on the run.  Sam is her only hope.  After Sam’s mission fails, he returns home disgusted and frustrated, remembering the only bright spot during that time – Sophie.  What follows is a great story of action, suspense, and a developing relationship hinging on trust issues for both Sophie and Sam.  Oh, and things get a little hot under the covers!
What I liked:
I loved the complexity of the relationship between Sophie and Sam. There were so many obstacles; it didn’t seem possible for them to ever be together.   I’d already read book #1 of the series though, so I knew there was an HEA in there somewhere.  The journey of getting there was great!
What I didn’t like:
I don’t like that Sam sometimes refers to Sophie as Soph; however, this is really a personal issue so pay no mind. I will say that in doing so, the author clearly defines a state of connection and intimacy between Sophie and Sam before it comes into play.  If it had to be done, it was done in good taste.
Overall it is a 4.5 star read for me, and I am looking forward to book #3 of the series.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What it Takes

What it Takes
by Kathryn Ascher

What It Takes

Camille's Rating: 4*

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and BQB Publishing.

Meet Kelsey, young aspiring actress who is totally in love with her college boyfriend of two years. She becomes pregnant and things fall apart from there. Fast forward and now meet Kelsey, up-and-coming actress trying to gain ground in Hollywood without becoming jaded. Enter Patrick, the Hollywood hottie leading man with all the right words and moves and the wrong reputation. As they work side-by-side on the next big movie, a romance grows that Kelsey tries to ignore based on her past. Along with her dark secret is an abusive brother-in-law and a horrible mother. 

From the start I liked how the author jumped right into a problem/solution situation. For women, that first real relationship is one that defines who you are for the rest of your life. Kelsey makes the best possible choices for herself and her family. Her supportive sister, Janelle, is a major part of the storyline later. 

The budding romance between Kelsey and Patrick is sweet, yet turbulent in the beginning. Her push/pull with her emotions is a real struggle many women face after a bad relationship. I enjoyed the friends, Veronica and Grayson, and expected something to come from that relationship as well. (Perhaps a sequel??) Ascher wrote great, steamy intimate scenes without being vulgar or obscene. It went well with the feel of their whole relationship. In the end, I did see the twist coming, but not how it all played out. 

This was a quick read and I recommend it as a sweet romance novel.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

by Frances Mayes

Camille's rating: 4*

This is an ARC I received through NetGalley and Crown Publishing.

Right from the start I knew I was going to really enjoy this book. First, it is written by one of my favorite female authors, Frances Mayes. Her book Under the Tuscan Sun is beautiful and the reason Tuscany is on my bucket list. Second, and most importantly, it is about the South. I was born here, grew up here, and make my life here. It's in my blood, all the good, the bad, and the ugly of it. It's part of me. Mayes says basically the same thing in this memoir. She recounts how no matter how hard she tried to get away from it, it has always called to her.

In many of her stories, I was taken back to my own childhood in the South. I could feel the heat of the summer, hear the noise of the bugs, smell the rain on the dirt, and taste the flavor of sweet tea. She writes beautiful prose about the things that touched her and how these memories are always with her. There were so many incidents she wrote about that I experienced in my own life, almost as if she had written them about me. Many of the places and people were my own with just different names.

Understand that Mayes did not "sugar-coat" the South in this memoir. She told the stories of her youth as they were, whatever the reader feels about that time and place is their own. Even the stories of her parents, whether you take them as good or bad, were told with honesty.

Frances Mayes is a woman who took what she experienced and wrote about it with elegance and truth. 

 That makes me admire her even more.