Review: The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

the promis between us

Mental illness is a tough topic to discuss.  Barbra Claypole White, in  The Promise Between Us, does an excellent job giving us insight into OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) through an entertaining story about a mother (Katie) and daughter (Maisie) who both have OCD.

(Purchase from Amazon)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (January 16, 2018)

Forms of OCD are different, yet similar.  Katie uses mantras to face down the relentless, unwanted, thoughts in her head.  One of her mantras, repeated often, is:

“A thought is just a thought.  It has no power.”

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Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Bear Town

I was glad to read my book club’s selection, Beartown by Fredrik Backman, narrated by Marin Ireland.

So many people, recently, have been talking about “A Man Called Ove” and “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel.”  However, I have not, until now, had the chance to read/listen to one of this author’s novels.

(Purchase from Amazon)
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 25, 2017

Beartown is a story about a small town, who’s existence revolves around ice hockey. The junior team, this particular year, is headed for the semi-finals with a good chance at winning the finals.

In essence we see, when bad things happen and controversy strikes, the heavily ingrained ‘ice-hockey’ culture affects the overall views and culture of the town-folk.  People begin to take sides.

It seems the entire town is explored from players to coaches, teachers, parents, students, local factory workers, the local pub owner, hockey club board members, sponsors …  We learn who is on the right side and who is on the wrong side.

One observation (not a complaint) is that the author, seems to be vested in all of his characters as, in addition to the main story, many tidbits of information about the various character’s past, present and futures are included.  The over development of characters works well in this small-town story.

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Book Brief: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

The Mountain Between Us

I listened to the audio version of The Mountain Between Us: A Novel by Charles Martin.

Update: 12/23/2017 – I heard the movie does not resemble the book/audiobook.  Which is too bad, because the book was terrific!

Book Brief (5 Stars: Loved it!)

I wont go into too much detail in this brief.  I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone.

While stranded in the middle of nowhere, in a frozen, desolate mountain range, between Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado, an extraordinary hero, Dr. Ed Payne  takes one step at a time to survive.

On the surface The Mountain Between Us is a story of survival.  On a deeper level it is about the bonds that tie people together.

The author Charles Martin explores what it means to be truly in love.

I easily pictured the wilderness and enjoyed each moment of the story.  I felt it was cleverly written and well done.

I’ll just say the ending brought a few tears to my eyes.

 

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What Others Have To Say

This was a great love story. A real one. Not cheesy at all. – Debbie Stone

It’s a book that is both plot driven and also manages to get inside people’s emotional heads. – Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

Book Review: My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

My Name Is Lucy Barton

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 4 hours and 12 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 12, 2016
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My Name Is Lucy Barton was an interesting read (listen) for a day.

Familial relationships can be complicated.  In My Name Is Lucy Barton, Lucy looks back at a time when her mother, after not seeing her in years, visits with her during her stay in the hospital.

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Review: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

My Review (4 Stars – Liked it a lot!)

 

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 11 hours and 6 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: March 22, 2016

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney was not the humorous and light read I was expecting.  It was quite the opposite.

From Amazon

“Hilarious and big-hearted, The Nest is a stellar debut.” — People

“Humor and delightful irony abound in this lively first novel.”— New York Times Book Review

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.”

I’m sorry, I did not see much humor in The Nest.  This novel is much more serious.

Each chapter starts out with the focus on a particular character’s lives/issues or people in their lives.  The story progresses this way which I thought was enjoyable.

Four siblings were to inherit a lot of money that they where counting on when the youngest reached 40.  They called this ‘The Nest’.  However, the older son got into some trouble and his mother bailed him out with most of ‘The Nest’.

Each of the siblings have different lives: two with life partners, one with a husband and set of twins, and one who roamed from women to women.

It felt like there were two or more interesting, underdeveloped separate novels in this story.  However, it was overall an entertaining read.

This is the author’s debut novel and I would definitely consider reading more by her as she writes well.  The characters and their issues felt very real (nothing sugar coated) and Sweeney presented them well.

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What Others Are Saying

“I love that The Nest is a debut novel by a 55 year old woman AND she got a $1 million advance!” – Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves

The Nest  was an enjoyable beach/vacation read and I whole-heartedly recommend it for a weekend diversion.” – JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

“The story weaves the past and the present together in such a way that I felt as though the characters were people I might meet. Even the supporting characters were fleshed out, enriching the tapestry that made each of their lives real.” – Laurel-Rain

““The book is very much about the thing that everyone inherits, which is a place in a family narrative,” Sweeney says.” – A Conversation With Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney — Kirkus Reviews

Book Trailer Link

About The Author (From the author’s website)

“Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is the New York Times bestselling author of The Nest, which has been translated into more than 25 languages and optioned for film by Amazon Studios with Sweeney writing the adaptation. She has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children. The Nest is her first novel.”

Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne

William Morrow an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublisher, 2016

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

I’ve been in the mood lately for chic-flicks (i.e. staring Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant) and chic-lit, The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne.

The Hating Game is cute, fun and sexy.  Two young co-workers who sit across from each other are already engaged in many games such as the ‘staring’ game when they both become competitive for the same promotion to a new position.

Sally Thorne in her debut novels draws an interesting, smart plot with fun antics.

This novel was better than comfort-food and perfect for me for this time of year.

What Others Are Saying

“Lucy Hutton absolutely detests her office mate Joshua Templeman. He’s a pompous, self-important, obnoxious ass. But, she’s got to admit, he is pretty cute.”

“From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but what happens in between is magic. From Lucy’s hilarious inner dialogue to Joshua’s sharp retorts, the chemistry between them is irresistibly adorable—and smokin’ hot.” – Kirkus Review

“I love this book so much!! Couldn’t put it down, and it got me out of a book slump. So so good!!” – Brandie @ Brandie Is A Book Junkie

First Paragraph

“I have a theory.  Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them.  I’ve had a lot of time to compare love and hate, and these are my observations.”

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About The Author

Sally Thorne lives in Canberra, Australia, and spends her days writing funding submissions and drafting contracts (yawn!), so it’s not surprising that after hours she climbs into colorful fictional worlds of her own creation.  She lives with her husband in a house filled with vintage toys, too many cushions, a haunted dollhouse, and the world’s sweetest pug.  The Hating Game is her first novel.

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

 by Colleen Hoover

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: August 2, 2016

Narrator: Olivia Song

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

In the past author, Colleen Hoover, wrote for entertainment purposes.  It Ends With Us, while entertaining and fictional, is different in that it is more personal to Colleen.

It Ends With Us starts out with a Fifty Shades of Grey type of sexual tension between florist, Lily Bloom and brain surgeon, Ryle Kincaid.

Ryle avoids long-term relationships, but finds Lily irresistible.

Lily occasionally thinks about her first love, but falls for Ryle.

While their romance is hot and heavy, the story suddenly takes a very dark and serious turn.

Colleen Hoover gives us a nice balance between the dark and lighter sides of the story.

It Ends With Us, touched my heart as it is about resilience in the face of tremendous obsticles.

What Others Are Saying

“A beautiful story of bravery, strength and hope – this book will change people’s lives. It’s without a doubt Colleen’s best work.” – Brandie @ Brandie is a Book Junkie

“A beautifully sad and inspirational story about breaking cycles, making hard choices, and loving the one you are meant to be with, even when someone else is also the love of your life.” – Laural Rain Snow

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Review: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

My Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

 

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

Audiobook narrated by Joshilyn Jackson

  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 53 minutes
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 17, 2012

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer is a quirkyclever novel.  It is a slightly exaggerated story about a family that is not, ‘normal’.  Maybe I should say each member is ‘special’.  It’s a story about fitting in or not fitting in, change, and adaptation.

Joshilyn Jackson (who is a bestselling author in her own right) did a good job narrating this novel.

I’d like to say that Netzer’s cadence in this story is particularly interesting.  This may also be a credit to narrator, Jackson.

Listen

What Others Are Saying

“Netzer’s debut, about a heavily pregnant woman left to care for her dying mother and autistic son while her Nobel-winning husband travels to the moon, takes the literary concept of charmingly quirky characters to a new level.” – KirkusReview

“A quirky, wonderful story with unique, well-developed and likeable characters. There is joy, sadness and occasional laugh-out-loud humor.” – Leslie (Under My Apple Tree)

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Review: Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazlet

 by Lisa Beazley

New American Library an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, April 2016

Release Date (April 5, 2016)

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley is a terrific debut novel.  It has the perfect amount of lightheartedness mixed with seriousness.

Two sisters decide to correspond thru actual physical handwritten letters. We know from the book blurb that these letters become inadvertently published on the Internet.

Cassie is a 36 year old mother of three-year old twin boys who lives in Manhattan.  She is full of self-doubt and insecurities, about for example, how to raise her children and whether or not she still attractive.  Her head is often buried in Facebook.

Cassie’s slightly older sister, Sid, living in Singapore, has her own, but different set of problems.  However, she is more at peace with herself.  She has little or no technical/computer experience.

Their candid letters back and forth are cringe worthy, knowing they are unknowingly being published for the world to see.

Of course, considering my blog title, how could I resist this title.

Bloggers, sisters and just about everyone else will enjoy this novel!

If your looking for a light beach read, this might be it!

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Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

 The Hypnotist’s Love Story: A Novel

by Liane Moriarty

Amy Einhorn Books

Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Reading a novel by Liane Moriarty is like sitting down with the author across the kitchen table and listening to her tell a long captivating story.  She is very personable.

In The Hypnotist’s Love Story, 35 year old Ellen is a hypnotherapist.  Her promising new boyfriend, Patrick, is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend, Saskia.

We are taken through this story and become privy to all three character’s thoughts, feelings and actions.  This is a complex story as Patrick is a widower with a young son, Jack.  Saskia, in addition to being in-love with Patrick, helped raise his son for a few years and loves Jack too.  She continues to stalk Patrick even though his relationship with Ellen grows stronger.

Ellen has interesting family, friends and clients who add a bit of fun to the story.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story highlights relationships and the facets of being in-love.  Does it matter who loves who more in a relationship?  Can love be quantified that way?

We also get a closeup look at the effects of stalking and hypnotism.

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Review: A Week At The Lake by Wendy Wax

A Week at the Lake by Wendy Wax

Berkley an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2015

My Review (5 Stars:Loved it!)

A Week at the Lake by Wendy Wax has a soap opera-ish quality about it with humor included.  I enjoyed the three main characters, Mackenzie, Serena and Emma.

They met as young adults in NYC pursuing their dreams.  They formed a close bond.  Mackenzie was in college for fashion design.  Serena moved from Charleston to pursue acting.  Emma, who divorced her famous parents who were actors, conceals her identity, and pursues her own acting career.

As the years go on, the girls go their separate ways, but reunite each year for a week at Emma’s Lake George cottage in upstate New York.  About five years ago, Emma stopped inviting them.  So when she asks them to join her again, they have questions and want answers.

Emma intends to reveal the secret she’s been keeping, explaining the sudden stop in the lakeside reunions.  However, it does not come easy and the strain on their close relationship and love for one another becomes too difficult to bear.

This is a touching story about how each women, in their own way, comes to terms with their past and their insecurities.  It is about friendship and forgiveness.

I’d like to thank Wendy Wax and The Berkley Publishing Group for sending me this novel, free of charge, for review.

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Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

 

Defending Jacob by William Landy

Delacorte Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House,  inc. New York, 2012

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Within just a few pages of reading Defending Jacob, I was hooked.  Author William Landy hits a perfectly mystifying tone.

Lead assistant district attorney Andrew Barber’s adolescent son, Jacob, is accussed of murdering a classmate.  In the beginning hours of the murder investigation, Mr. Barber is in charge of handling the DA’s case.  When it becomes apparent that his son is the main suspect, another assistant attorney, Neal Logiudice takes over.

This novel is peppered with transcripts of grand jury testimony where tense comments are traded between Mr. Logiudice and the ‘witness’, Andrew Barber.  This adds to building questions and suspense that surround Defending Jacob.

Andy holds on tight to the belief that his son did not comitt murder.  Despite strange revelations about his son and the strain on his wife, he still holds on to the belief that his son is innocent.  It is inconceivable to him that a father could think otherwise.

As a former district attorney, author, William Landy brings a realistic inside look into the criminal system.  I had read that this novel had a surprising conclusion.  I was trying to guess what it might be while reading.  In the end, I was surprised.

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