Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Seducing Ingrid Bergman


Written By:  Chris Greenhalgh

Published By:  St Martins Press, March 18, 2014

Length:  272

Source:  Publisher, group read with #Hashtags,  in exchange for an honest review

Summary:
The beautiful Casablanca star, the world's greatest war photographer, and the secret love affair that would change their lives forever . . . in Chris Greenhalgh's Seducing Ingrid Bergman

June 1945. When Ingrid Bergman walks into the lobby of the Ritz hotel in Paris, war photographer Robert Capa is enchanted. From the moment he slips a mischievous invitation to dinner under her door, the two find themselves helplessly attracted. Played out against the cafés and nightclubs of post-war Paris and the parties and studios of Hollywood, they pursue an intense and increasingly reckless affair.But the light-hearted Capa, who likes nothing more than to spend his mornings reading in the tub and his afternoons at the racetrack, is not all that he seems. And Ingrid offers the promise of salvation to a man haunted by the horrors of war, his father’s suicide, and the death of a former lover for which he blames himself. Addicted to risk, Capa must wrestle his devils, including gambling and drink, and resist an impulse to go off and photograph yet another war. Meanwhile, Ingrid, trapped in a passionless marriage and with a seven-year-old daughter to bring up, must court scandal and risk compromising her Hollywood career and saintly reputation if their love is to survive. With their happiness and identities at stake, both Capa and Ingrid are presented with terrible choices.(Goodreads)


My Thoughts:
Looking at this cover alone takes me back to old Hollywood, when stars where bigger than life.  I'm a huge old movie fan, a passion my father passed down to me.  He was a man who was always moving, but given a rainy Saturday or Sunday we would look on the few TV channels we had and find old movies.  He would tell me about where he was when he first saw a movie, the theater, his age, the other short films etc they would show in the theaters.  Given my love of the post WWII era Seducing Ingrid Bergman seemed a book made for me. 

I was immediately swept into the rather risque and passionate life that Ingrid was able to hide and enjoy.  There is much to be said for the lack of immediate news as was the norm in the 1940's.  Ingrid fell in love with a man who was not one for settling down.  Their love affair was rocky.  I was sad for both of them. I wanted Capa to have a better handle on his demons.  Alcohol and gambling were his drugs, and they both pushed him to his breaking point.  Ingrid was in a bad marriage.

These two people have both had their lives documented and dramatized by many.  This novel is a brilliant look into what might have been happening to them.  The dialogue and emotions both ring true for the times and what is known about their affair.  One of my favorite parts is while Ingrid is filming Notorious directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  She has Capa hired as a photographer, and he is very visible to those on the set.  Pick up this book to learn how Hitchcock took their story and made another movie.  

Highly recommend this book if you enjoy stories of the golden age of Hollywood, the steamy untold stories of love and passion.   Thank you again to St. Martin's Press for this advance copy.  

You can find about more about the author here

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: The Headmaster's Wife


Written By:  Thomas Christopher Greene

Published By:  Thomas Dunne Books, February 25, 2014

Length:  288 pages

Source:  Purchased

Summary:
An immensely talented writer whose work has been described as “incandescent” (Kirkus) and “poetic” (Booklist), Thomas Christopher Greene pens a haunting and deeply affecting portrait of one couple at their best and worst.

Inspired by a personal loss, Greene explores the way that tragedy and time assail one man’s memories of his life and loves. Like his father before him, Arthur Winthrop is the Headmaster of Vermont’s elite Lancaster School. It is the place he feels has given him his life, but is also the site of his undoing as events spiral out of his control. Found wandering naked in Central Park, he begins to tell his story to the police, but his memories collide into one another, and the true nature of things, a narrative of love, of marriage, of family and of a tragedy Arthur does not know how to address emerges. Luminous and atmospheric, bringing to life the tight-knit enclave of a quintessential New England boarding school, the novel is part mystery, part love story and an exploration of the ties of place and family. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, The Headmaster’s Wife stands as a moving elegy to the power of love as an antidote to grief.(Goodreads)


My Thoughts:
I need to thank several bloggers who read this book and raved about it.  I buy many books, but this one I rushed to buy and read because their reviews intrigued me, left me more curious than anything else.  Thanks especially to Jennsbookshelves, Literate Housewife, and Beth Fish Reads

This story of Arthur Winthrop is puzzling from the beginning.  His story causes the reader to gasp and wonder what is real and what is mixed up.  Arthur hales from a line of men who have been the Headmaster at the very prestigious Lancaster School.  His life is mostly rote, run the school, eat his meals with his wife and the staff and students of the school.  He was raised at and attended the school, was a teacher before this position so his life is Lancaster.  The memories begin to converge, and mix, and the reader wonders if Arthur is a reliable voice.  If he is as mixed up in his life, his focus, his undeterred love for a woman not his wife, then Arthur is indeed a man in crisis.  

This is a very difficult book to both review and recommend.  The book is beautifully written, and when complete I still wasn't sure of some things, but the utter love and sadness I felt was all consuming.  Greene put so much of his own emotions into this book, and it's seen in every page.  I believe this would make an excellent group read, because it does call for discussion when ended.  Highly recommend. 
You can learn more about the author on his website.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: The Idea of Him and a Giveaway!!


Written By: Holly Peterson

Published By:  William Morrow & Company, April 1, 2014

Length:  384 pages

Source: Publisher, as part of TLC Book Tour in exchange for an honest review

Summary:


Allie Crawford is a once-aspiring screenwriter turned successful public relations executive, mother of two young children, with a marriage that feels more like a hostessing gig than it does a relationship. At thirty-four, she is at a crossroads. Then she meets a head-turning, traffic-stopping beauty at the bar of the famed New York City Tudor Room. When Allie finds her husband Wade locked in their laundry room with this same stunning blonde, a scandal ensues that flips her life on its head. And when the woman wants to befriend Allie, an old flame calls, and a new guy gets a little too close for comfort, Allie starts to think her marriage is more of a façade than something real. Maybe she’s fallen in love not with Wade—but with the idea of him.

This intriguing blonde is Jackie Malone, a business school student at Wharton who appears unannounced in Allie Crawford’s world with an uncomfortable degree of information about her personal and professional life. Showing up at all the same parties, lunches, and with a seemingly quite intimate relationship with Allie’s husband, Jackie is a feisty, gorgeous, leggy fashionista that just might have the key to Allie’s future. If she can only learn to trust her.

As Allie and Jackie search for truth, they uncover scandals, betrayals, and financial crimes worthy of front page headline news. Swiftly-paced and electrifying, The Idea of Him follows their fast-growing friendship and the intimate, sexy conversations they have as Allie takes command of her life and learns to live on new terms that are alternately exciting and terrifying.

Set in present-day Manhattan among the city’s established and up-and-coming power brokers, many of them struggling to regain their equilibrium in a post 2008 crash world, all working various angles—legal and not—in an effort to either get ahead or simply keep up. Smack in the middle of New York’s upwardly mobile meritocracy is the hard-working Allie, refusing to let her working-class past cloud her fabulous present. Her story offers a ringside seat at the lunchtime haunts featured in the pages of Vanity Fair and is a ticket to the exclusive media cocktail parties posted on Guest of a Guest. But as Allie’s world starts closing in on her and she can no longer deny who her husband actually is, she must figure out how to do it all – without him.

The Idea of Him shows a woman determined to pick herself back up and reclaim her life, even as the fear of being alone threatens to lure her down the wrong path. As Allie struggles to care for her children, tend to her demanding boss, and navigate the high jinx in the psychological and financial game-playing happening all around her, we fall in love with her determination to root out the truth, and in doing so, finally put her own interests and needs front and center. Most of all, we see the power of female friendship as an unlikely ally – in the form of the mysteriously seductive Jackie Malone – helps Allie to finally see the truth about her husband. And it sets them both free.(publisher)

My Thoughts:
From the start of this book I'm intrigued by Allie and her relationship with her husband Wade.  He seemed to be moving in faster circles than she was.  Their marriage seemed detached and on the rocks.  There was also the man she worked for, who treated her poorly.  Allie just seemed to be taking direction and demands from both these men, for very little in return.

When Allie meets Jackie, and then catches Jackie and Wade sneaking away during a cocktail party her suspicions are raised higher.  So begins this epic chase of what is Wade really involved in, and how foolish has Allie been.  The story moves quickly,covering a lot of ground in it's pages. 

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't love it.  There were too many times when I wanted to slap Allie and tell her to wake up, to take control of her life and to kick the men out! While I was sympathetic to her plight, she seemed slow to see what she needed to do.  Falling in love with the idea of a man is classic, most women have at minimum lusted after the public personal we've seen of a man. 

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a little laughter, a little adventure and eventually a woman who finds her way.  

About the Author:
Holly Peterson is the author of The Idea of Him and the New York Times bestseller The Manny. She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek, an Editor-at-Large for Talk magazine and an Emmy Award–winning Producer for ABC News, where she spent more than a decade covering global politics. Her writing has been published in the New York TimesNewsweek, Talk, The Daily Beast, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and numerous other publications.
More information:

I read The Idea of Him as part of a TLC Book Tour, and I'm thrilled to be giving away a copy of the book and  this beautiful Andrea Schroder candle.  You may click on the link to learn more.
Simply leave a comment below to be entered to win, include your email address and this giveaway is open to US addresses only.  Giveaway open until April 18, midnight. 

If you'd like to see others thoughts on The Idea of Him, and other opportunities to win visit
TLC Book Tours.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Paperback Release of The Other Typist

Rose Baker seals men’s fates.

With a few strokes of the keys that sit before her, she can send a person away for life in prison. A typist in a New York City Police Department precinct on the lower east side, Rose is like a high priestess.  Confessions are her job. The criminals admit to their transgressions, and Rose records their crimes.   It is 1923, and while she may hear every detail about shootings, knifings, and murders, as soon as she leaves the interrogation room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for filing and making coffee.

It is a new era for women, and New York City is a confusing time for Rose. Gone are the Victorian standards of what is acceptable. All around her women bob their hair short like men, they smoke, they go to speakeasies.  But prudish Rose is stuck in the fading light of yesteryear, searching for the nurturing companionship that eluded her childhood and clinging to the Victorian ideal of sisterhood.

When glamorous Odalie, a new girl, joins the typing pool, despite her best intentions Rose falls under Odalie’s spell. As the two women navigate between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the station by day, Rose is drawn fully into Odalie’s high stakes world.  And her fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.

I fell in love with this book last spring when I read it.  I was eager to share the news of the paperback release.  I'd also hoped to include an interview with author Suzanne Rindell, but our meeting didn't happen last week, flight problems kept her out of Florida.  I've been following some discussions with Suzanne, one recently with Goodreads still has readers asking about the mysterious ending to The Other Typist.  I admire how Susanne has kept true to herself about the curious way she ended Rose's story.  Click the link above to read the discussion. 

Please take a look back at my review, and now with a great paperback price this book should be even more enticing. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: Keep Quiet


Written By:  Lisa Scottoline

Published By:  St. Martins Press April 8, 2014

Length:  352 pages

Source:  Author, in exchange for an honest review

Summary
Scottoline delivers once again with Keep Quiet, an emotionally gripping and morally complex story about one father's decision to protect his son — and the devastating consequences that follow.

Jake Buckman’s relationship with his sixteen-year-old son Ryan is not an easy one, so at the urging of his loving wife, Pam, Jake goes alone to pick up Ryan at their suburban movie theater. On the way home, Ryan asks to drive on a deserted road, and Jake sees it as a chance to make a connection. However, what starts as a father-son bonding opportunity instantly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes, and with Ryan’s entire future hanging in the balance, Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that plunges them both into a world of guilt and lies. Without ever meaning to, Jake and Ryan find themselves living under the crushing weight of their secret, which threatens to tear their family to shreds and ruin them all.

My Thoughts:
In typical Scottoline style this book is fast paced, and urges you to keep turning the pages.  Jake has a critical lapse of judgement when he allows Ryan to drive after the set curfew time of his Learner's Permit. When a bad situation gets worse and Jake makes another choice that will haunt both he and Ryan, and the story really heats up.  I think we've all been told one lie leads to another and another and so it goes also for this story.  Every where Jake goes he's telling another lie and he's telling his son to do the same.  Jake is also trying to keep Ryan calm.  Naturally the minute they arrive home his wife Pam is asking questions, why are you late, why does Ryan look upset, etc.  The lies continue and when Jake thinks he has a grip on how to manage this turmoil, a mysterious stranger comes forward with information that could ruin Jake and Ryan more.  This threat comes with a price. 

Beyond the event that began this story, Keep Quiet is about the secrets and lies that are found in many families and relationships.  Jake and Pam's marriage had been tested when Jake lost his job, but he then started his own financial planning business and after some counseling Jake felt they were strong again. Pam's world as a judge is also changing as her name is being put in the hat for a federal judge position opening up.  Her family and life will be put under immense scrutiny, they must be squeaky clean in every way.  Jake is frantic that is wife will learn of his deceit, and if she does, can she forgive him?

Lisa Scottoline is a master at mystery, these are real everyday people who have made life changing bad choices. Jake Buckman is like hundreds of men and fathers I know...until he makes his mistake.  The attention to detail of the legal consequences of such an accident are spot on.  Lisa's own legal background and her astute research make these details all the better.  The fear and rash actions of Ryan are exactly how a teen would react.

This book was such a good read, a few twists and turns had me up half the night!  I highly recommend Keep Quiet to anyone who enjoys a thriller based mystery.  I've read many of Lisa Scottoline's books and enjoyed them all.  She's just now headed out on an extensive book tour, so check her website for more information.  She's also on twitter and facebook.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Cover Reveal Renee Rosen's New Novel!!

In late 19th century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous 
motto:“Give the lady what she wants.” 
His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer, and led to an infamous love affair. 
The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watched the flames rise and consume what had been the pioneer town of Chicago, she couldn’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world was about to change. Nor would she have guessed that the agent of that change would not simply be the fire, but more so the man she met that night…

Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store.  He and his powerhouse coterie— including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation.
But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago was transformed into the Gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

Praise for Dollface 
“Intoxicating....Fans of Boardwalk Empire will love Dollface.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Sara Gruen
“A lively, gutsy romp of a novel that will keep you turning pages.”—Karen Abbott, New York Times Bestselling Author of Sin in the Second City

This book is both beautiful and intriguing!!  I'm so excited Renee is taking us back to Chicago and even farther to a time I know very little about.  Historical fiction is both entertaining and educational, in the very best of ways.  I loved Dollface, and now I can't wait for this new book from Renee Rosen.


What The Lady Wants will be available November 4, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry



Written By:  Gabrielle Zevin

Published By:  Algonquin Books April 1, 2014

Length:  272 pages

Source:  Publisher  in exchange for an honest review

Island Books is a small bookstore on Alice Island, reached only by Ferry off the coast of Hyannis MA.  While worn looking both outside and in.  A.J. Fikry isn't leading the life he anticipated.  He is the sole proprietor of the book store.  He is known to be picky and difficult and to only stock the books he feels are relevant. 

A.J. is a widower, having lost his wife in a tragic car accident, he's isolated himself from everyone. Sales in the store are suffering.  He lives above the book store, sees very few people including his sister in law.  When a valuable book of Edgar Allen Poe's early works is stolen from his apartment A.J. feels like he's reached a new low, and his health is at risk.  In an effort to get some exercise he begins to run, and leaves the doors to his store unlocked, a take this attitude as he's lost the only thing worth any real money.  What A.J. finds upon his return will change his life.  His attitude and will to live will change.  This metamorphosis will be visible to everyone on the island,  and as these changes happen A.J. also finds himself opening up his heart, as he never thought possible again.

The very synopsis of this book had me intrigued...a book about a book store and it's owner...what's not to love?   I'm not one to be motivated by hype, it can almost scare me away, but the build up of love for this book from Indie booksellers and book store owners is phenomenal, and sincere. 

The chapters move alone with titles and recommendations by A.J. himself.  The references to wonderful books are spot on, the author has a vast knowledge of books and who they appeal to.  These other books make the book that much sweeter, sparking the reader to add more books to their wish list of books to read.  The cast of characters in this book are so believable.  The police chief who loves crime books and yet is open to new genres when suggest by A.J. The publishers Rep who is offering arcs and selling the titles for next season, she's hurt when she receives a very cold welcome on her first visit to Island Books.  I was happy to see that relationship change.

While reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry I wanted to live on Alice Island and shop in Island Books and meet all the people in town.  It was warm and inviting and I was sad when the book was over.  This book is not just about books, it's about life and love. The main character has nearly hit rock bottom and then his heart opens up to love again, and once that occurs his life opens up to all variations of love.  You won't want to miss this book, highly recommend! I plan to share with all my friends and I'll be meeting the author next month and purchasing a hardcover copy to keep forever. 

This is the first book I've read by Ms. Zevin, but I will be looking at more. You can learn more about the author and her other works on her website www.gabriellezevin.com