04. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan, 278 pages, read by Janet, on 03/01/2013

The Lifeboat    Having just eloped with a man who offered her anything she would ever want and been sailing back to America to meet his mother, Grace suddenly found herself on a crowded lifeboat watching their elegant oceanliner sink beneath the sea.  This is the heart-rending story of people suffering the effects of weather, the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean, shortage of food, water, and even sitting space.  The boat is so heavy and over-crowded that it is constantly taking on water, making the situation even more frightening.  As things got worse, some felt they had to lighten the boat and some were “helped” into the sea.  Most of them survived over two weeks in this terrible condition.  After they were rescued those who “helped” others into the water were brought to trial for murder.  This trial discusses the final days and what happened.  One feels the heartache (and pain and hunger) throughout the story.

26. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Eric, Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction (chick lit) · Tags:

Jim & Louella's Homemade Heart-Fix Remedy by Bertice Berry, 209 pages, read by Eric, on 02/25/2013

When Jim and Louella’s longtime marriage finally loses its romantic zing, Louella resorts to consulting her dead ancestors for advice. It does the trick, but what’s more, both Louella and Jim find they are able to hear the thoughts of others, and have a knack for helping them through their own troubles.

Far outside my usual fare, this often-hilarious story is like steamy chicken soup for the elderly sexual soul. Through Louella, author Bertice Berry delivers life lessons and sexual re-ignition with a Southern sensibility that is equally blunt and caring. It’s hard not to like this couple, even when they make the neighbors blush. Recommended for those with an open mind and a humorous bent.

27. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Mystery, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Delusion in Death by J.D. Robb, 388 pages, read by Leslie, on 12/19/2012

Delusion in Death (In Death, #35)

When a downtown bar erupts in sudden violence that leaves eighty people dead, Lieutenant Eve Dallas discovers that the bar’s patrons were exposed to a lethal cocktail of chemicals and illegal drugs that a sinister killer administered through an airborne method.

While I am not a big fan of Nora Roberts’ romance books, I do enjoy reading her Death series with Eve Dallas and Roarke.  Just the right amount of romance, intertwined with mystery and the illusion that a rich man is out there for all of us. I hope they never make this into a movie because I think it would never come close to the world I have imagined in my head.  A fast, good read, I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a book with a twist at the end.

27. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Mystery, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Notorius Nineteen by Janet Evanovich, 356 pages, read by Leslie, on 12/12/2012

Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum, #19)

Tracking down a con man who has disappeared from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy, Stephanie Plum calls on Joe Morelli for help when a second felon goes missing from the same hospital.

Another hilarious Stephanie Plum adventure in which she blows up more cars, comes close to being a pink bridesmaid, and too close to fire for her comfort.  Still unsure of being with either Morelli or Ranger but I don’t know if it would change the mood of the books if she actually chose one.  A fun, quick book, I recommend the series to anyone who hasn’t read them.

16. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich, 299 pages, read by Leslie, on 06/24/2012

Wicked Business (Lizzy & Diesel, #2)

Dazzling her patrons with scrumptious cupcakes at her Salem, Massachusetts, bakery, Elizabeth Tucker continues to fall for the irresistible Diesel, who protects her from a villain who is seeking mystical stones tied to the seven deadly sins.

Another fun series from Janet Evanovich, with Diesel, a sometime character in her Stephanie Plum series.  I love to lose myself in these fun reads.  I always try to picture her characters in my head since she puts so much into them, they can seem quite real.  And another, yet different, take on paranormal things!

07. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler , 378 pages, read by Andrea, on 11/06/2012

Before Hudson Avery’s dad left, she thought her life was all about figure skating. She had her future all planned out. Win regionals, go on to the Olympics, become a pro skater. Then she finds out her happy family isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Now, Avery’s a girl who’s had her hopes dashed and her heart broken, no longer skating or following her dreams. Baking cupcakes and dreaming about what could have been, Avery works at her mother’s diner to help make ends meet, and avoids facing her past.

When she receives a second chance to fulfill her dreams of becoming a professional skater, she must discover what she wants and decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to get there. A quick read, this book is all about sacrifices, understanding what is truly important in life, and realizing that your decisions do affect more people than just yourself.

15. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, 371 pages, read by Andrea, on 10/12/2012

After reading the dustcover, I thought this book would have a lot more about Louise Brooks, who really was a rebellious woman of Hollywood in the 1920’s and her early days before becoming famous in New York attending Denishawn School of Dancing not all about her fictional chaperone, Cora. This book centered upon the themes of life lessons and 1920’s history. Cora is Louise’s chaperone in New York right as the socially acceptable ways of life are beginning to change. Although both women are from Wichita, their personalities are like day and night. While Cora is a socially upright woman with very high moral standards, Louise is a young girl with free, liberal views on life.

As Cora’s time in New York progresses, she learns more about herself than she ever thought possible. Louise, although differing in beliefs and ideals, teaches Cora about accepting modern thought. From contraceptive methods for women to lifting prohibition, everything that Cora once denounced doesn’t seem so socially unacceptable in her eyes any longer. Despite the pressure to conform to the popular thoughts of her friends once she returns to Wichita, Cora is able to accept others and herself. This was a good book that balanced the real life of Louise Brooks with a little fiction and what life was really like for people with unconventional thought in the 1920s.

13. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer, 387 pages, read by Andrea, on 07/13/2012

This book was Disney’s Cinderella and Anastasia combined with a futuristic twist. Cinder, a cyborg (part human, part robot), has been an outcast ever since she can remember. Her stepmother considers her to be a filthy burden. Living in a futuristic Beijing she spends her days a lowly, second class citizen working at her mechanic booth in the city market as payment to her stepmother for living in her home. She has no one who cares about her aside from another robot and one of her stepsisters who treats her as a true friend. Ironically, her status says nothing of her talent as a mechanic for she is considered to be the best in New Beijing’s Eastern Commonwealth. This talent leads her to Kai, the heir to the emperor’s throne, who needs mechanical advice and ultimately leads her to understand who she really is. I thought this book was a fun twist on the two Disney fairy tales with a tougher main woman. Looking forward to Book #2.

28. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Jane by April Lindner, 373 pages, read by Andrea, on 06/27/2012

I enjoyed this book. Even though it was centered on an idea that already existed (the book is exactly like Jane Eyre complete with crazy hidden wife on the third floor, young romance, Jane growing up and finding herself, etc.) it was different enough that it seemed like a branch of the original story instead of a dull retelling. In this version, Jane Eyre is actually Jane Moore and Mr. Rochester is now Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star. Jane goes to work for Nico as the nanny of his young daughter and falls in love with him. I really like Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, and Lindner’s version gives the story of Jane a fun, contemporary twist. I’m glad someone finally decided to turn Jane Eyre into a more modern tale like all of the contemporary retellings of the classic Pride and Prejudice. Maybe someone will publish a Jane Eyre zombies version as well.

26. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Tracy, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, 273 pages, read by Tracy, on 05/26/2012

Summer is almost here and I found a good summer vacation book. It’s a love story and a mystery. Four young people in the town of Walls of Water, North Carolina are united by the mysterious body found under a peach tree. The Blue Ridge Madam is an old home that has been restored by socialite Paxton Osgood. The home was built by Willa Jackson’s great great grandfather but the family lost it after suffering financial problems. A reopening gala is planned when they discover the body under a peach tree that is being relocated. The only two people who really know  what happened are the two grandmothers who live in a retirement home in town. Willa falls in love with Paxton’s twin brother Colin and Paxton falls for Sebastion. It’s a small town but they all feel they belong there. Nice summer read.

26. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Tracy, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray, 246 pages, read by Tracy, on 05/26/2012

If you’ve ever gone to a store or restaurant and felt like you were invisible then you can relate to this book. Clover is in her mid 50’s and when she looked in the mirror one day and she had vanished. The strange thing is that no one noticed. Her husband and kids didn’t notice because she did all the things they expected her to do but they never really looked at her. When she saw an ad in the paper for a monthly meeting of invisible women she realized she wasn’t alone. All the women had one thing in common. They had taken several drugs from one pharmaceutical company for depression, menopause and calcium deficiency. Although Clover found out being invisible wasn’t all bad, she could eavesdrop on people, it was not going away. In the end the women gathered together to bring down the pharmacy and let the world know what they were doing. I kept waiting for Clover to reappear when she was out in public because she usually wore no clothes. But luckily it never happened.

23. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, 472 pages, read by Andrea, on 05/22/2012

Andi is at her breaking point. From having to deal with her parents to coping with the death of her younger brother, she is ready to give in to the sadness and anger she feels. Her pain is lessened with anti-depressants that tend to bring her life out of focus. Her grades drop as a result of the medication’s side effects and her father, concerned she won’t get into a good college, makes her come with him on his business trip to Paris in an attempt to get Andi back on the right track.

Alexandrine, a girl of the French Revolution, is torn between saving herself and saving a little boy she has grown to love as a younger brother. She too is ready to give in to the anger and fear threatening to suffocate her.

Over two centuries separate the two girls, but Andi finds an old diary of Alexandrine’s hidden in a guitar case and eventually discovers they have more in common than she thought possible. Finding solace in her words, Andi forges a connection with Alex through her diary entries, and begins to find that Alex’s life in the past can help Andi decode her own complicated life in the 21st century.

Although the beginning of this book was fairly slow to get to the point and very depressing, I grew to like Andi and Alex. I enjoyed how similar the two main characters were and how parallel their situations seemed. The story within a story writing style kept me interested in both main character’s situtations. However, the references to the French Revolution and music history were a little stuffy to me. That much detailed background (especially the names of revolutionaries and royalty) was irrelevant to the story. By the end of the book, I felt it was a good storyline. It just needed to be a little less of an historical account so it could focus more on the characters of the book.

10. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Cleaning Nabokov's House by Leslie Daniels, 322 pages, read by Andrea, on 05/09/2012

Barb is a divorcee who has lost everything. She has no money, and the car she drives needs more oil than a Mac truck. To make matters worse, her children have been taken away from her. Her controlling ex-husband (or experson according to Barb) has taken what she wants most, continuing to lord over her even after their disastrous marriage. A series of strange events leads Barb to make more money than she would have thought possible. She moves into a house once lived in by Vladimir Nabokov and finds what she believes to be a lost manuscript of his. A very odd entrepreneurial opportunity presents itself, giving her the strength and, oddly enough, the resources, to fight back for what she wants instead of always listening to what everyone else thinks she needs.

This book was rather odd. I didn’t love it, but the messages within the book were good. What was interesting for me was it was written in the voice of Barb. It is almost like the ramblings that go on inside your own head, so although she did come off as sounding a little crazy, it wasn’t too strange, as everyone has those crazy inner thoughts. It presents Barb as a 40 year old mother who is trying desperately to fit into a community that sees her experson as a god. She is just a woman who wants her children back, and is willing to try anything to make that happen. I liked the parallelism between Barb and how the book was written. In the beginning of the book, the writing seems very unorganized, as is her life. As the story progresses, Barb begins to understand herself and what she wants in her life. The book becomes more structured and clear, which to me was an interesting way to write a book.

15. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Matched by Ally Condie, 366 pages, read by Andrea, on 03/15/2012

MatchedCassia is just a normal teenager excited about growing up and finding love, getting a job, and starting a family. The only problem is, she will never have the freedom to choose any of that. The Society, through decades of shaping and perfecting a sophisticated Matching system based on character traits of each individual, chooses everyone’s life for them. Utopia in disguise, the Society’s decisions are all a ruse to fully control the people of the different Provinces within Society. When Cassia receives her ideal husband at her Match Banquet, she can’t believe her luck. However, a small Society mistake makes her question whether their choice for her lifelong love could be wrong.

A 2012 Gateway Readers Award Nominee, this book is a strong reminder of how valuable the ability to choose in life is and how it feels when that gift is taken away.

04. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Historical Fiction, Tracy, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, 326 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/04/2012

The PostmistressThe Postmistress is a story about two women during WWII before the US gets involved. Frankie is a war correspondent in London and Iris is the postmaster in a small town in Cape Cod. It’s a time when mail was an important way of communicating around the world. Frankie sees all the horrors of war in Europe while Iris listens to her radio broadcasts and waits for the US to decide when to send troops. They eventually meet in Cape Cod and both have a secret they have been keeping. It’s a sad book but that’s how most war stories are.

21. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins, 529 pages, read by Courtney, on 02/17/2012

I’ve been a long-time fan of Ellen Hopkins’ work. Of course, the vast majority of it is teen/YA oriented, so naturally I was curious to read her foray into adult fiction.
Here’s the basic storyline: 3 women, all very different, come to a place in their lives where nothing is as certain or easy as it once was. Holly is married with several kids and has the picture-perfect life. Except for the fact that she regrets marrying early and not finishing school. This sense of lost time sparks her to explore the extra-marital world, allegedly “research” for the erotica she’s beginning to write . Her best friend, Andrea, a divorcee with a teenaged daughter is mostly privy to Holly’s colorful lifestyle but neither particularly supports or condemns the choices Holly makes. Andrea is more concerned with her daughter who is on the precipice of adolescence. Finally, there is Marissa, Andrea’s sister. Marissa is unhappily married with two children. One has a degenerative disorder that will ultimately end her young life. The other is gay, which both parents are still attempting to come to terms with.
The story cycles through each woman’s point of view and their stories begin to intertwine. I’ve always been a fan of Hopkins’ prose-poem style of writing, which she continues to use here. It works well in this context, though less observant readers may find themselves confused as to which character is speaking. I personally had trouble relating to these characters, mostly because I’m not yet married and have no children. Also, I’m about 10 years younger than they are. In fact, aside from Marissa, I’m not even sure I really liked the characters. I wouldn’t exactly recommend this to teen readers of Ellen Hopkins; this is definitely an adult book. I’m so used to reading teen fiction that I found myself blushing at some of the more intimate scenes. It is, however, probably a very good choice for mothers of teenaged children as the relationships presented between the mothers and their kids is particularly well done.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 01/01/2012

This was a nice light romance and a good start on a new trilogy for NR. These trilogies all kind of follow a formula, but it is a formula that works pretty well. We meet the three Montgomery brothers and their potential love interests in this book. I liked all the characters; they were well developed and had their own distinct voices. I can definitely see how the romances are going to play out and it should be interesting. The story was a good one; I liked the rehabbing of the inn as the main plot point. I also enjoyed the supernatural plot…the ghost in the inn. It worked with the story and didn’t seem too out of place. I didn’t think the whole stalker storyline worked though. It just seemed like it was thrown in there to add tension that I don’t think the book needed. It seemed out of place with the rest of the story and I didn’t think it worked. I don’t think every romance needs some psycho to strengthen the bond between the couple. It was working just fine without it, but NR does like to throw in a psycho or two so I guess it couldn’t be helped. Otherwise the book was fun and enjoyable.