REVIEW: THE BOOK CLUB, BY MARY ALICE MONROE

 

On the surface, it is a monthly book club. But for five women, it is so much more. For Eve Porter, whose husband’s sudden death cheats her of every security she had planned on, the club is a place of sanctuary. For Annie Blake, a brilliant attorney intent on starting a family late in life, it is the chance to finally let down her guard and dream of other possibilities. For Doris Bridges, it is her support group as she acknowledges her dying marriage and finds the ultimate freedom in her husband’s betrayal. For Gabriella Rivera, the “perfect” wife, mother and friend who offers support to everyone but is afraid to ask for it herself, it is a sense of community. And for Midge Kirsch, an artist who has always lived her life against the grain, it is a haven of acceptance.

They are five women from different walks of life, embracing the challenge of change. And as they share their hopes and fears and triumphs, they will hold fast to the true magic of the book club—friendship.

 

 

My Thoughts: From the very beginning of The Book Club, I was drawn into the lives of the five women facing life and its challenges, and how their love of books was just a tiny piece of what held them together.

Their stories flow alternately, and we see how their lives intersect, especially when they come together in times of joy and times of trouble.

Set in the 1990s, in suburban Chicago, the author shows us their lives in great detail, from the ordinary moments to the tragic ones. In the very beginning, at Tom’s funeral, something happens that puzzles a few of the characters, and I kept waiting for that secret to reveal itself, for the reader to find out what that was about. I had my suspicions, but they wouldn’t be realized until the story began to draw to an end.

A story of friendship, struggles, transitions, and a celebration of life…at times the tale was tedious, but the emotions and situations were real, spotlighting all the flaws of ordinary people and the choices they make along the way. 4.0 stars.

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REVIEW: NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT, BY KRISTAN HIGGINS

 

One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant, a wild-child sister in jail and a withdrawn teenage niece as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was, Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family. Balancing loss and opportunity, dark events from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.

My Thoughts: I was more than ready to immerse myself in Now That You Mention It. I love a book with all the “feels,” and I was in need of just such a book on a long weekend that could have been a challenge to get through.

Almost immediately, I could feel for Nora growing up in a small town and bearing the brunt of the mean girls and all the others who felt entitled to everything, but who still resented her for earning her own good things, like a full scholarship to college and medical school.

When the book opens, Nora has just been hit by a car, and her precarious situation is another reminder of something that happened earlier, the Big Bad Event, that we don’t learn more about until later in the story.

Nora tells her story in her own engaging first person voice, and I could feel what she was feeling, with each step she had taken. The story moved back and forth in time until all the layers folded together to form a complete picture of what life had been like for her. As a result, I was rooting for her when she went back to the island town where she grew up, and as she faced up to those who were unkind and who bore grudges. Some of them were even dangerous.

I felt like I was right there with her when she rented the charming houseboat, and when she developed a friendship with one of the men in town whose family had been responsible for some of her worst pain. But finding that not only bad things came from that family was another life lesson to enjoy.

There was no smooth path to happily ever after, but there were steps forward, along with the ones that took her backward, until finally, there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. A story that delighted me all the way through. 5 stars.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: THE NEW YEAR AHEAD!

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post,  and Book Journey, for  Weekly Updates.

**Mailbox Monday is now hosted at the home site:  Mailbox Monday.

Grab some coffee (or a pot of tea!), and let’s talk about our weeks.

 

 

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I had a nice quiet New Year’s, and today went shopping with Fiona, my granddaughter, to get a new iPhone.  I have moved on up technologically…LOL

Here’s what is happening in my Blog World:

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

A Quiet New Year’s Eve: Another Way to Chase Away the Blues

Creative Tuesday:  Intros – “One Step Too Far”

Monthly Wrap-Up:  Goodbye to 2014

New Year’s Eve Thoughts:  On Book Buying, Purging, & a Clean Slate

My First Book of the Year:  2015

I Couldn’t Help Myself:  Book Buying Already!

Friday Potpourri:  Book Beginnings/Friday 56 – “The Cinderella Murder”

Come Monday, I’ll Be Ready for a New Week

Bookish Saturdays:  Planning My Reads

Review:  The Matchmaker (e-book), by Elin Hilderbrand

Review:  Lillian on Life, by Alison Jean Lester

Review:  Everything I Never Told You (e-book), by Celeste Ng

Review:  The Cinderella Murder, by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke (First Book of the Year)

Review:  One Step Too Far, by Tina Seskis

 

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INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

There were no books in my mailbox!

But I downloaded three e-books for Sparky.

Watermelon (e-book), by Marian Keyes

 

 

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February the fifteenth is a very special day for me. It is the day I gave birth to my first child. It is also the day my husband left me…I can only assume the two events weren’t entirely unrelated.

Claire has everything she ever wanted: a husband she adores, a great apartment, a good job. Then, on the day she gives birth to their first baby, James informs her that he’s leaving her. Claire is left with a newborn daughter, a broken heart, and a postpartum body that she can hardly bear to look at.

She decides to go home to Dublin. And there, sheltered by the love of a quirky family, she gets better. So much so, in fact, that when James slithers back into her life, he’s in for a bit of a surprise.

 

Garden Spells (e-book), by Sarah Addison Allen

 

 

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In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.

Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own….

 

Last Night at the Viper Room (e-book), by Gavin Edwards

 

 

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Acclaimed author and journalist Gavin Edwards vividly recounts the life and tragic death of acclaimed actor River Phoenix—a teen idol on the fast track to Hollywood royalty who died of a drug overdose in front of West Hollywood’s storied club, the Viper Room, at the age of 23.

Last Night at the Viper Room explores the young star’s life, including his childhood in Venezuela growing up under the aegis of the cultish Children of God. Putting him at the center of a new generation of leading men emerging in the early 1990s— including Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt, Nicolas Cage, and Leonardo DiCaprio—Gavin Edwards traces the Academy Award nominee’s meteoric rise, couches him in an examination of the 1990s, and illuminates his lasting legacy on Hollywood and popular culture itself.

 

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WHAT’S UP NEXT? (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

 

Currently Reading:  I Love You More (e-book), by Jennifer Murphy

 

 

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A Small Indiscretion, by Jan Ellison (Vine review)

 

 

 

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Betrayed (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline
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And that’s my week…and what my new week will look like.  I decided not to join any challenges this year, except for the Goodreads Challenge, and I lowered my books to 100.  Last year was 150, and the previous one, 200.  I exceeded the goals, but I am wanting to lower the pressure.What challenges, if any, are you doing?  What does the New Year look like for you?***

 

 

 

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