Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My take on: Family Tree

It's been awhile since I read a chick-lit/romance novel, so I welcomed the opportunity to review Family Tree by Susan Wiggs.

This book was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting it to go the predictable route: a sad woman returns to her hometown after life in the big city and falls in love again with her high school boyfriend. Yes, some of those elements are in this book but the path to get there (for me) was different and unexpected.

Annie Rush and Martin Harlow are a powerhouse couple. He's the star of the hottest cooking show, The Key Ingredient, and Annie is the producer. They have it all. Their lives are about to change, and not just because Annie is pregnant. Betrayal at the hands of her husband and a freak accident leave Annie at rock bottom. The only way back up is to return to the family maple farm and her hometown of Switchback, Vermont.

Annie's accident is somewhat of a blessing and a curse. For the past year, Annie has been in a coma. When she finally awakens, life as she knew it is gone. She has to start all over again. She has to learn how to walk and talk all over again. She can remember some things, but there are large gaps in Annie's memory. Gaps that might be hard to fill, her family and friends, including her old boyfriend Fletcher, are doing all they can to help Annie remember the past.

The book alternates between the past and present. The present-day narrative is all about Annie's struggles rebuilding her life and her trust in men. Her father left the family decades ago and her husband betrayed her. In the past, we get to see how Annie and Fletcher's love story blossomed and eventually fizzled. In high school, Annie and Fletcher were crazy in love with each other -- until Annie had to make a choice. Fulfilling her dreams of attending college in New York or staying in Switchback with Fletcher? She chooses college but vows to have a future with Fletcher. That future goes up in flames quickly when Fletcher has to stay in Switchback, nursing his father back to health after a devastating accident. Despite how much it hurts, Annie had to face the fact that there was no room for her in Fletcher's life. But in the present-day, fate might give Annie and Fletcher another chance. End to end, I really enjoyed this story. This book is just like your favorite comfort food, you want to curl up in a ball and devour it!

Rating: Superb

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) as part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours.


Monday, January 15, 2018

My take on: This Could Hurt

I never thought a book about corporate America could be funny or entertaining, but Jillian Medoff found a way with her latest book This Could Hurt.

It's 2009 at the start, and Ellery Consumer Research is feeling the impact of the market crash. Rosa Guerrero is the longtime head of human resources. She's the leader of an eclectic staff. She can be a demanding boss, but Rosa also knows how to lead with grace and humanity. But the lines between supervisor and friend are often blurred.

The No. 2 man in HR embezzled thousands from the company and Rosa had no idea. The theft is not Rosa's fault, but she can't help feeling guilty. Associate director, Rob Hirsch, and his protege Lucy Bender have far too much emotional intimacy for people who aren't married to each other. Rob loves his wife and kids, but he finds himself drawn to Lucy. They often take walks, arm-in-arm, to a local grocery store -- just to walk the aisles. Don't know many co-workers who do that with someone who is just a friend. Lucy is unmarried but feels the same connection to Rob, even though she doesn't quite have the words to describe her feelings. Kenny Verville, a senior manager, sees Ellery, and every job he's had before, as just a stepping stone. Kenny is the arrogant, alpha male type of co-worker that everyone hates. He thinks he's better than everyone. Even in his personal life, he thinks everything is perfect until the ish hits the fan!

Rosa has her own issues as well. After the death of her husband, Ellery is basically her whole life -- inside and outside the office. Lucy and Leo are frequent guests at Rosa's home, drinking and eating the night away. Sounds innocent, but Lucy and Leo get more insight into Rosa's personal life than they should. Rosa has some serious medical problems, which could put her career in jeopardy. But Rosa is the type of woman who is too full of pride to admit she has a problem. She needs help but just doesn't want to admit it. Can she be the same effective manager without help? It doesn't matter because Lucy, Leo, and even Kenny work together as team to save Rosa from herself.

Sounds just like your average office politics? I don't know. But there were many moments that rang true. Ever need a little quiet in the morning? So much quiet that you need to be away from everything and everyone? Leo sets up a little alcove on an empty floor, just so he can enjoy his breakfast in the morning. I can relate. I like the people I work with, but I started coming in earlier just so I could enjoy my breakfast and read the newspaper in quiet. Getting too involved in another co-worker's life? It's not in my nature, but I can see how it can happen. Overall, the book started out a little slow but it picked up halfway through. There were some unexpected, and sad turns, including one character who was revealed to be wayyyy more manipulative than I thought. Read the book to know what I'm talking about!!

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

My take on: Modern Lovers

The cover of Modern Lovers by Emma Straub is pretty, and I let myself be swayed by a pretty cover -- with a little help from the Black Friday sale on Book Outlet.

Modern Lovers is about a group of close friends, navigating college, adulthood, friendship, marriage, family, and children. Sounds like a recipe for a good book. But.....it wasn't. In my opinion this was a book about a bunch of self-absorbed, shallow, annoying, hipsters.

Zoe and her wife, Jane, are going through a mid-life crisis. Their teenage daughter, Ruby, doesn't want to go to college and has no idea what she wants to do with her life. While Zoe and Jane contemplating divorce, their next door neighbors and best friends, Elizabeth and Andrew "think" they have a happy marriage but of course they don't. Their son, Harry, is bursting with hormones and has a crush on Ruby. There are several subplots, but the central focus is on the two families. Their problems were just plain BORING! I wanted to stop reading this, but I persuaded my co-workers to read this for our book club. So I felt an obligation to finish reading this book.

The characters are not likeable or relatable. Zoe doesn't always know what she wants, despite having everything she needs right in front of her. Jane is a workaholic. Ruby is a know-it-all brat. Harry is a lovesick puppy. Andrew is a gullible slacker, nearly losing thousands of dollars to a scam artist. Elizabeth spends too much time inserting herself into Zoe's life and marriage to realize her own problems. All of this could have been interesting, but nothing really happens. Any conflict gets wrapped up into a neat little bow at the end, but real life just isn't like that. This book was just so blah! If that makes sense!

Rating: Meh
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