Tag Archives: General Fiction

Release Day Review- The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The Dinner List

Title: The Dinner List
Genre: General Fiction/Magical Realism
Author: Rebecca Serle
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Flatiron Books, Sept. 11, 2018
Pages: 288
Rating: 4
Sexy rating: 5-not too graphic
Violence rating: 4
Description from Amazon:

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends with in her utterly captivating novel, THE DINNER LIST, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.
When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.
**
A delightful premise that will have you naming your own 5 dinner guests. This is Sabrina’s dinner party on her birthday. She has invited her estranged father Robert, her significant other of 9 years, Tobias, her BFF, Jessica, Her college professor and Audrey Hepburn. They are all there for a reason. To help Sabrina put to rest the past and move on with her life.

This book is a compelling read and I could not put it down until I had finished the last page. It is a book about family, romance, and friends.   It is also about expectations and dashed hopes. It only gets a 4-star rating because I really can’t figure out why Audrey Hepburn is in the book in spite of Sabrina and her fathers’ enjoyment of her films. I recommend this book but have a box of tissues handy.

Deet’s Five: My Great Grandfathers, August and Frederick (German immigrants in the 19th century), Lisa Kleypas (favorite author), my Mom (because I miss her), Steve Martin (Every dinner party needs someone to tell a joke). I expect this list will change the more I think about it.

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Advance Review- Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Still Me

Title: Still Me: A Novel
Genre: General Fiction
Author: Jojo Moyes
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, Jan. 30, 2018
Pages: 400
Rating: 5
Sexy rating: 4
Violence rating: 0
Description from Amazon:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

**

This is the third book in a series that started with Me Before You and then After You. Louisa is the heroine in all three books starting with her ill-fated romance with quadriplegic Will Treynor and then finding love with Sam the Ambulance man and in this book she throws herself into the NYC scene by taking a job as an assistant to a very wealthy NY socialite. She is finding it difficult to maintain her own identity when there are so many forces that seem to want her to reinvent herself. Through the ups and downs can her love affair with Sam survive?

Another page turner from Jojo Moyes. Louisa is every woman who has suffered tragedy and the determination to move forward. You will laugh and cry at the curves life throws at her but you will admire her fortitude. I highly recommend this standalone book but you will enjoy it more if you read the previous two books first.

 

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Review: The Rules Of Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic

Title: The Rules of Magic (The practical Magic Series)
Genre: General Fiction
Author: Alice Hoffman
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Oct. 2017
Pages: 384
Rating: 4
Sexy rating: 3
Violence rating: 2
Description from Amazon:
From beloved author Alice Hoffman comes the spellbinding prequel to her bestseller, Practical Magic.

Find your magic.

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.

**
I did not love this book as I had Hoffman’s first book, Practical Magic, and the movie by the same name. That said, this was still a page turning read. When you have magical powers there is adventure, mystery and problems. This is also a story of love. I look forward to more in this series.

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Recent Release Review- The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Title: The Versions of Us

The Versions of Us

Genre: General Fiction

Author: Laura Barnett

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 3, 2016)

Pages: 416

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 2.5

Sexy Rating: not explicit

Description from Amazon.com:

In one moment, two lives will be changed forever . . . and forever . . . and forever. The one thing that’s certain is they met on a Cambridge street by chance and felt a connection that would last a lifetime. But as for what happened next . . . They fell wildly in love, or went their separate ways. They kissed, or they thought better of it. They married soon after, or were together for a few weeks before splitting up. They grew distracted and disappointed with their daily lives together, or found solace together only after hard years spent apart.

 

With The Versions of Us, Laura Barnett has created a world as magical and affecting as those that captivated readers in One Day and Life After Life. It is a tale of possibilities and consequences that rings across the shifting decades, from the fifties, sixties, seventies, and on to the present, showing how even the smallest choices can define the course of our lives.

**

I have enough frustration in life without having a book adding to it.  I could not keep track of which “version” I was reading and had to repeatedly go to the chapter heading to see where I was. And even after doing that, I was trying to remember what the characters did in the other chapters’ versions.

I thought the premise was intriquing, the what-ifs that we all wonder about in that road not taken, but I had no idea it would be so difficult for me to follow.

You just may need to take notes if you read this one and then you may not be able to keep your Jims, Evas and Davids straight.

 

 

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Review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Title:  Eight Hundred Grapes

Eight hundred Grapes

Genre:  Fiction/Romantic Elements

Author: Laura Dave

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, June 2015

Pages: 272

Source: Free for review from the Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 3

Description from Amazon.com:         

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…. Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands. But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever. Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets….

**

Once you start this book there will be no snack and potty breaks.  You will be compelled to continue reading so shut off the phone.  Laura Dave sucks us in immediately when we want to find out why Georgia Ford is driving furiously north from L.A. to Sonoma County. After that it is one surprise after another for both the reader and Georgia.  Just when you start to get comfortable with how you figured things out there is another twist.  Then there is all the truly fascinating information about winemaking.  Delightful, that’s what this book is.  True book readers’ joy. So why did I knock off half a point in my rating?  As much as I enjoyed every twist and bump the drama got to be a bit excessive by the end.  I also couldn’t follow a line of thinking between Georgia and Ben at times.  It was as if the author expected me to intuit what each was thinking or feeling and I was just a bit lost.  That may have been me, just being slow on the uptake. However you slice it this is a good read. I’m sure you’ll agree.

P.S.- Let’s hope that in Ms. Dave’s next book they give her a better cover.

 

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Recent Release Review- Perdita by Hilary Scharper

Title: Perdita

Perdita

Genre: Eco-Gothic

Author: Hilary Scharper

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark. Jan. 20 2015

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 3

Description from Amazon.com:

Marged Brice is 134 years old. She’d be ready to go, if it wasn’t for Perdita . . .

The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…

Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.

Everyone knows about death. It’s life that’s much more mysterious…

**

This is a novel about love, mythology, nature and beliefs. This novel is set in the present but also takes us into the past through Marged’s diaries. Marged claims to be 134 years old but Garth, Professor and interviewer for The Longevity Project, can’t believe she could be that old. Marged gives him her diaries to try and convince him. Through the fascinating diaries we are introduced to mythology that seems to manifest itself, the romantic yearnings of a young woman and a sincere appreciation of the nature and power of the waters, trees on the shore and winds of the Georgian Bay.

This is a novel of enigmatic and intelligent prose that will sweep you and the protagonist into the swirling cocophony of emotions. Marged is in tune with nature to the point of conjuring mythological beings but is down to earth enough to fall in love with a man who thinks he should love elsewhere. I kept turning pages to discover all the secrets and solve the mysteries and find out if Miss Marged Brice ever found love.

 

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Recent Release Review- The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Title: The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman, book #2)

The Rosie Effect

Genre: General Fiction

Author: Graeme Simsion

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, Dec. 30, 2014

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 3

Description from Amazon.com:

The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Rosie Project, starring the same extraordinary couple now living in New York and unexpectedly expecting their first child. Get ready to fall in love all over again. Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because— surprise!—Rosie is pregnant. Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie. As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most. Graeme Simsion first introduced these unforgettable characters in The Rosie Project.

**

The first book in this series, THE ROSIE PROJECT, was a favorite of mine last year. So naturally I jumped at the chance to read and review this sequel. OMG! This is terrific stuff! Laugh out loud, and I do mean loud, hubby kept quizzing me on what was so funny. This book takes Rosie and Don on a journey to parenthood that is nothing like what I assume you or I have experienced. Don with his Asperger’s Syndrome and Rosie with her own issues are two ships that are not going to pass but collide. Don’s heart is always in the right place but his literal mind and inability to be “average” lead him into one mess after another. Rosie, riding high on pregnancy hormones misinterprets most of what Don is trying to do. Don trying to minimize Rosie’s stress gets himself in tons of trouble. Side characters are absolutely wonderful. Gene the psychologist friend who moves in, Dave and Sonia who also are expecting, George the rock star landlord, Lydia the Social worker with issues and Rosie’s dad, Phil who has his own PTSD.

Graeme Simsion has penned another wonderful book and we can only hope there are more to come. Do I recommend this one. You betcha! Big time. Do yourself a favor, start the year off right , read this one.

 

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Recent Release Review- Hello From The Gillespies by Monica McInerney

Title: Hello From The Gillespies

Hello from the Gillespies

Genre: General Fiction

Author: Monica McInerney

Publisher: Penquin/Berkley, Nov 2014

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 2

Sexy Rating: 3

Description from Amazon.com:

For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself she tells the truth…. The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken away from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together and pull themselves together in wonderfully surprising ways.

 

**

Perhaps if I could have liked one of these main characters I would have liked the book more than I did. I never felt a connection to any of the Gillespies. Angela, the mother, was trying to cope with a demanding family and an inattentive husband. She doesn’t do the obvious and do some demanding of her own she just plods along. Nick, the husband, is a real loser. I mean he nearly loses the family estate. And to cope he has a Skype, non-affair with a genealogist in Ireland instead of working out the problems with his wife. The twins Genevieve and Victoria are making huge personal mistakes that both should have known better about at their age of 33. Lindy is 30 and acts like a 15 year old and Ig the 10 yearold is the most mature of the entire family. Joan the friend of Angela is also the only adult who seems to have her head on straight. With this family making so many stupid mistakes all the time, I was about ready to toss in the reading. In the end I didn’t care if any of them had a happily ever after I was just ready to be done with the book.

Amnesia? Really? Pages and pages and pages of will she come out of it or not. Actually total pages of over 600 count and way too many. Hand embroidered pillow making as a career move? Really? Bringing the crotchety old Aunt, who has nothing good to say about Angela, to stay with Angela while Nick is out of the country. Really?

I wish I could say there was something that I truly liked about this book and the only thing that comes to mind is Ig. He was always a welcome relief from the rest of his family.

 

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Review- The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Title: The Ship of Brides

The Ship of Brides

Genre: Literary Fiction/Romance

Author: Jojo Moyes

Publisher: Penguin group

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 2

Description from Amazon.com:

  1. World War II has ended and all over the world, young women are beginning to fulfill the promises made to the men they wed in wartime. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other war brides on an extraordinary voyage to England—aboard HMS Victoria, which still carries not just arms and aircraft but a thousand naval officers. Rules are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier’s captain down to the lowliest young deckhand. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined despite the Navy’s ironclad sanctions. And for Frances Mackenzie, the complicated young woman whose past comes back to haunt her far from home, the journey will change her life in ways she never could have predicted—forever.

**

Jojo Moyes writes superbly nuanced characters. There is Margaret, pregnant and leaving behind a loving family. There is Frances, harboring secrets. There is Joan, too young and immature to know the ropes. Finally there is Avice, a society lady who has much to learn. All are brought to life in exquisite prose that leaves the reader enthralled with each woman, and captivated by their fates.

Jojo Moyes has obviously researched the life aboard this type of ship so that we the reader also feel the rolling sea and the vastness of the huge ship.

I highly recommend this book as well as Jojo Moyes’ other novels.

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Review- Adultery by Paulo Coelho

Title: Adultery

Adultry

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: Knopf, Aug. 2014

Source: Free for review from the Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

Linda knows she’s lucky. Yet every morning when she opens her eyes to a so-called new day, she feels like closing them again. Her friends recommend medication. But Linda wants to feel more, not less. And so she embarks on an adventure as unexpected as it is daring, and which reawakens a side of her that she – respectable wife, loving mother, ambitious journalist – thought had disappeared. Even she can’t predict what will happen next…

**

This is the psychological study of a woman’s decent into sadness , boredom and ridiculousness. Okay that last is my considered opinion. For a supposedly intelligent woman she makes some rather stupid social mistakes all in the name of getting over her feelings of restlessness and boredom. She has an attitude that it is okay to possibly throw away her family just to assuage her problems by having an affair. She tries to convince herself that she is in love with her lover but there is no emotional connection for either of them. The author’s use of language is to be lauded even if his grasp of a woman’s emotions leaves something to be desired. The ending of this book is worth the read for what goes around, comes around.

Deet’s note:  I chose to read and review this book because I had heard so much buzz about the author.  Perhaps his other books were more spot-on than this one.  I do have trouble with male authors writing first person as a woman.  Although he got a lot right, he got a lot wrong also.

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