Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Casebook


Written By:  Mona Simpson

Published By:  Alfred A. Knopf  Publisher April 15, 2014

Length:  320 pages

Source:  Publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:
 From the acclaimed and award-winning author: a beguiling new novel about an eavesdropping boy working to discover the obscure mysteries of his unraveling family. He uncovers instead what he least wants to know: the workings of his parents' private lives. And even then he can't stop snooping.

Miles Adler-Rich, helped by his friend Hector, spies and listens in on his separating parents. Both boys are in thrall to Miles's unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is "pretty for a mathematician." They rifle through her dresser drawers and strip-mine her computer diary, finding that all leads pull them straight into her bedroom, and into questions about a stranger from Washington, D.C., who weaves in and out of their lives. Their amateur detective work starts innocently but soon takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family's well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Once burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil, and proceed to concoct hilarious modes of revenge on their villains and eventually, haltingly, learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.


My Thoughts:
Miles and Hector began as twelve year olds and their spying was almost innocent, but Miles learned of his parents problems and then in turn Hector's parents split too.  Both boys learning of impending divorces and they struggle to understand why parents fall out of love with each other.  Ms. Simpson captures the mind and actions of pre-teen boys. Miles refers to his younger twin sisters as Boop One and Two. He calls his mom "the Mims".  Miles and Hector are pure and without judgement and will change their point of view.  When Miles mom begins dating a new man, Eli, he is more intrigued.  Not everything lines up in his stories, and he's got a ton of them.  A problem occurs when Miles actually starts to like Eli, and he's not sure he wants to know the truth. It might be the end of his mom and Eli. She seems so happy for once.  The sadness of the divorce leaving her. Doesn't she deserve this? 

The boys grow up, the story follows them closely up to age 15 and more sporadically to high school graduation.  There is much humor...hiring a private detective, leaving stray animals behind in small acts of revenge.  There is also the change in their families.  Parents move on, have other lovers and sometimes re-marry.  This coming of age story is very different than most, and yet it is brutally honest in the telling of two boys' stories.  

I had a hard time getting into this book, but after about a third into it I was hooked and wanted to know where it was going. There are many characters and nicknames.  Miles and Hector were openly outsiders in their school and among their friends, but were so spunky and fun.  I was amazed at their sleuthing powers!  

I recommend this book to those who enjoy a coming of age tale.  It is not like most.  Told in first person, and it does jump around a bit, but still engaging.  Thanks to TLC Book Tour for the opportunity to read and share Casebook.  Click the link above to see other stops on the tour.  

This is the first book I've read by Mona Simpson, but her style and insights were unique and spot on in this book. You can learn more about Mona Simpson here.  



Monday, April 21, 2014

It's Monday April 21, What Are You Reading?


Hosted by Sheila from Book Journey, this is a weekly event to share what you've read in the past week and what you hope to read, and any other bookish happening you want to share.


I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I linked up! This past week I only finished one book, and it's a book that publishes in June, but trust me it was so good you'll be hearing more from me. 
I'm a big fan of Megan Abbott, and her next books is very good, a new psychological thriller, and yes there are teen girls involved.  More to come.
Currently I'm listening to Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, it's very interesting.  Historical fiction, San Francisco.  The main character is a dancer of burlesque and a prostitute. 
I'm also reading three books, yep I've lost my mind!!  Two I'm reading for book tours and the other is a most favorite author who has a new book out in May...I couldn't wait...it's so good. 
In reality I've been so lucky with my reading this year, pickier perhaps has much to do with my good fortune.  These books are easy to read bits of daily, they are so very different.
 This is my first book by Greg Iles, and I'm in love with his easy yet brilliant writing.  While this book is 800 pages, it's so so good.
 Sarah Pekkanen is a lovely person, and sensitive author.  This new book is perhaps her best work to date.  I have adored Sarah since her first book, so this is no surprise.  Publishes May 6, pre-order! 

I can't begin to think of what is next...well I could but isn't this enough to keep be busy for the next week? 

I hope you'll share what you are reading, and I'm hoping you've had as much good luck as I have!  Happy Reading my friends!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Seducing Ingrid Bergman


Written By:  Chris Greenhalgh

Published By:  St Martins Press, March 18, 2014

Length:  272 Pages

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. This is historical fiction that reads like a peek into a love story.   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.