Sunday, April 15, 2018

Review of Robyn Carr's The Family Gathering

The Family Gathering (Sullivan's Crossing) by [Carr, Robyn]


About the Book:

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted.

My Comments:

A literary classic this is not, but it is a heartwarming enjoyable read with a villainess who is easy to hate and a hero who is easy to love.  As we watch Dakota come to town and discover the stability and love his siblings have found there we realize that much of the happiness we find in life is found because we choose to find it and live it, warts and all.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B.  

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Sorority: My Review



About the Book:

Prep meets Girls in White Dresses in Genevieve Sly Crane’s deliciously addictive, compulsively readable exploration of female friendship and coming of age that will appeal to anyone who has ever been curious about what goes on in a sorority house…

Margot is dead.

There’s a rumor she died because she couldn’t take the pressure of being a pledge. You may not ask what happened to her. It’s not your business. But it wasn’t a suicide, if you’re wondering.

Spring Fling will not be cancelled. The deposit is non-refundable. And Margot would have wanted the sisterhood to continue in her absence, if only to protect her sisters’ secrets: Shannon is the thinnest girl in the house (the other sisters hate her for it, but they know her sacrifice: she only uses the bathroom by the laundry room); Kyra has slept with twenty-nine boys since she started college (they are all different and all the same); Amanda is a virgin (her mincing gait and sloping posture give it away); and while half the sisters are too new to have known Margot, Deirdre remembers her—she always remembers.

With a keen sense of character and unflinching, observant prose, Crane exposes the undercurrents of tension in a world where perfection comes at a cost and the best things in life are painful—if not impossible—to acquire: Beauty. A mother’s love. And friendship…or at least the appearance of it.

My Comments:

Does this sound like a book that is going make sorority girls look good?  I started reading it, and gave up after a few chapters.  I just couldn't find any of those girls to like. 

 I wasn't a sorority member, and my college didn't have national sororities, only local social clubs.  I wasn't a member and saw only the public parts of pledging.  I thought it was a lot of foolishness and couldn't understand why some girls were in tears over pledging activities and yet wanted to continue--if someone deliberately did things that got me upset I'll tell her to take a long walk on a short pier and go find something else to do. Still, all in all, most of the girls I knew who were in clubs were intelligent, competent, basically good people, whereas the characters in this book are all the stereotypical college girls with issues, and none of them really seem like they'd be fun to be around.  Maybe that's why they are all miserable.  

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.  DNF.  



Sunday, March 11, 2018

Not Perfect: My Review

Not Perfect: A Novel by [LaBan, Elizabeth]


About the Book:

Tabitha Brewer wakes up one morning to find her husband gone, leaving her no way to support herself and their two children, never mind their upscale Philadelphia lifestyle. She’d confess her situation to her friends—if it wasn’t for those dreadful words of warning in his goodbye note: “I’ll tell them what you did.”

Instead, she does her best to keep up appearances, even as months pass and she can barely put food on the table—much less replace a light bulb. While she looks for a job, she lives in fear that someone will see her stuffing toilet paper into her handbag or pinching basil from a neighbor’s window box.

Soon, blindsided by catastrophe, surprised by romance, and stunned by the kindness of a stranger, Tabitha realizes she can’t keep her secrets forever. Sooner or later, someone is bound to figure out that her life is far from perfect.

My Comments:

I guess it is easy to say that "I'd never do that" when you've never been in someone else's shoes, and I'll never be in Tabitha's shoes--if my husband ever left me, I have a job that will pay the basic bills around here and keep food on the table--but I can't imagine every doing what Tabitha did, and maybe that's why I never quite liked this book.  Here is this woman with a degree from a fancy school who has been a stay at home mom and wife to a well-paid lawyer.  They have all the trappings of their upper-middle class lifestyle, including private school for the kids, and a love for gourmet food.

After months she realizes that her husband isn't coming back and that she has no money and so she looks for a job, and is given one, albeit one she didn't apply for and is probably not well-paid.  Does she keep it, and keep looking, figuring some money is better than none?  No, she just continues in her angst-filled self-pitying world and avoids anyone who might be able to help her.  She steals basil from the neighbor's window boxes and toilet paper from friends but instead of selling her husband (presumeably expensive) cuff links she gives them away.  

Then there are the other characters.  One is an old woman who offers Tabitha pot-laced candy and who makes it easy for Tabitha to "borrow" money she needs by leaving it laying about the house.  The other is a man Tabitha meets at Stuart's alumni function who realizes she is an imposter (not an alumna) who becomes the new love interest in her life--and don't get me started on Stuart.  They all just seemed strange, not realistic at all.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  I read the second half of the book at a pace between face and skimming so maybe I missed something, but I'm giving this one a "C", and hope that others enjoy it more than I did.  

Friday, February 02, 2018

Things to Do When It Is Raining: My Review



About the Book:

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge of the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lilly and George. Their childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love—a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up, got over her heartbreak and started a life for herself in New York City.

After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline with their past unraveling around her. A lifetime of secrets stands in the way of this unconventional family’s happiness. Will they be able to reclaim the past and come together, or will they remain separate islands?

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a powerful story about guilt, forgiveness and the truth about families: that we can choose them, just as we choose to love.

My Comments:

This is one of those books that I can see other people enjoying a lot more than I did.  It is the story of four couples--Lilly and George, Lilly and Everett, Virginia (Lilly's daughter) and Chase and Mae (Virginia's daughter) and Gabe.  In some ways it may have been the story of Jonah (Gabe's father) and Virgina as well.  It is a story of love, of secrets and of pain.  It is the story of the end of life and the story of new life.  It takes place in different timelines and at first it is hard to follow how it all fits together.

Unfortunately, I never connected with the characters or felt real empathy for them.  While I finished the book, I was glad to be done. 

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade;  B-


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