Monday, April 30, 2012

My take on: Cruising Attitude

I don't know what airline Heather Poole works for, but if I'm ever on one of her flights I will make sure to be extra nice to her. Why? After reading her book Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 feet, I know she has some good stories to tell.

Before I delve into the book I have to tell a little story. Ten years ago, maybe more, I was on a morning flight to Orlando. In coach of course because I don't think I'll ever know what first class is like. In coach we were fed a bagel with some hard cream cheese and some juice. It came in a plastic bag. Classy, right. Why, am I telling this. Because at the end of our food service I saw a flight attendant eating some delicious food. It definitely wasn't coach food. It was first class food!! When she noticed my mother and I staring at her, she turned the other way. I was mad. Why couldn't we get the extra food?!?!? After reading Ms. Poole's book, I know it wasn't a dig by the flight attendant and I have a greater respect for flight attendants.

As an outsider, being a flight attendant seems very glamorous. Jetting from city to city, country to country. You get to see so much, but it turns out that you need seniority to go to those glamorous places. Without seniority, you're stuck on domestic routes. When Heather switched to a larger carrier, she was just scraping by. The native Texan was based in New York and her living arrangements (a.k.a. crashpad) in Queens were on the scary side. Lecherous landlords and rotating roommates were the norm. The bathrooms weren't the cleanest and money for food wasn't easy to come by. Extra food from a flight is apparently a hot commodity if you're struggling financially. Years later when Heather had the opportunity to work a private flight for Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, she cobbled the extra food together. She thought that was great, but the pilots looked at her like she was nuts. I had to laugh at that part. All the money goes into rent and carfare to get to the airport. If she ever had a flight leaving from Newark instead of LaGuardia or JFK, she was in trouble. Like 60 bucks a pop for a cab to Jersey.

I think you need a degree from M.I.T. just to understand the scheduling for flight attendants. I read those parts twice and I still don't understand it. I could never be a flight attendant because I would probably miss my flights every day. All of this I found fascinating, and I haven't even gotten to the ungrateful passengers. Some people apparently think flight attendants are their personal servants. The woman who actually turned her back to Heather, expecting Ms. Poole to remove her fur coat for her. The nerve. I tried to figure out who the celebrities she was gossiping about were. But, it was a little hard. I think one was P. Diddy a.k.a Sean Combs. I think!!

The book overall feels like you're having a conversation with Heather. She's talking right to the reader. It's like a conversation with an old friend. She's telling you about the good and the bad parts of her job. A job she still holds today. She even met her husband on one of her flights. What was the attraction? He was eating a delicious-looking sandwich. I found that to be such a cute story. Maybe that can work for me one day!!

Rating: Superb

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

It's Monday, what's on the cover?

It's Monday, what's on the cover? It's been awhile so let's visit the covers of new books I'm reading. The cover of Barefoot Girls by Tara McTiernan is very inviting. Don't you just want to jump in the water? This one is a family drama, and so far a good one. Hannah O'Brien is at a crossroads in her life. She has just written a book and she's engaged. Everything should be going great for her, but it isn't. A not-so kind review is taken out of context by Hannah's mother, leading to the two not speaking to each other. The only way back to each other is to explore her mother's past. Intrigued? A review will be posted in a few days. Stay tuned!!

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga is rather blunt. There is no doubt what the book is about. Imagine being the son of a notorious serial killer, life can't be easy can it? His dad is in jail, but murders are starting to happen again. Is this young boy like his dad? Only way to find out is to investigate. The cover is very sinister. Someone walking down a dark street with a few spots of blood on the cover, there has to be a good story inside the book. Can't wait to unravel the mystery.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Drama over The Story Siren

Last night I came home from a hard workout and got on my laptop to check my blog. In my sidebar, a post by The Story Siren caught my eye. She was offering an explanation and an apology for something. I read it and immediately thought, "What the heck is she talking about?" Kristi a.k.a The Story Siren wasn't clear on what exactly she was apologizing for. I did a Google search and the results were surprising. A post by Sarah from Smart Bitches Trashy Books offered clarification.

Kristi committed plagiarism. Some of her blogging advice articles were lifted from a couple of fashion bloggers. She was confronted with the evidence in January, and worked with them to resolve the problem. At first she denied the allegations but eventually took down the content. It was kept quiet between them until Sarah stumbled on another blogger's post about the incident. Given Kristi's prominence in the YA blogging community, it's surprising this was kept under wraps for so long. I personally was shocked. I looked to her blog for advice on dealing with publishers and fellow bloggers. Why? Why would she do it? Why would someone so popular in the community feel the need to do this?

She has often preached on the evils of plagiarism, so it's very ironic that she gets caught doing it. Many of her readers and fellow bloggers are defending her. They don't believe the evidence. But do a little research and the victims in this case have some very convincing evidence. They have IP logs, complete with the amount of time Kristi spent on their web site. Just a few days after the original posts, Kristi posted hers. There are a lot of similarities in the posts.

Perhaps if she had owned up to her actions in January, Kristi wouldn't be facing the amount of blacklash that she is now. Do a little Google search and you will see A LOT of posts about her. People on Twitter are calling for a boycott of her blog. Some people are taking it too far. Some of the comments are getting nasty and unnecessary. Some are forgetting that she is a person first and a blogger second.

People are human and they make mistakes. I give her credit for posting not one but two apologies. But what Kristi did seems like more than a mistake. One article could be chalked up to a mistake, but not 4-6 articles as is the case with Kristi. It makes me question how much of the content on her blog is actually hers? I'm not a fan of Kristi's reviews, but I do like a lot of the features (IMM, Books to Pine For) on her blog. So it's hard for me to completely abandon her blog. What does everyone else think?

Monday, April 23, 2012

My take on: Somebody to Love

If you want a break from reality, and want to believe in love again read a book by Kristan Higgins. Her books always feel very whimsical and funny. Her latest book, Somebody to Love has that same feel to it.

Parker Welles has always lived the good life. But she works really hard to not let family wealth go to her head. Just ignore the fact that she lives in a mansion, has a trust fund, has never really lived independent from her emotionally distant father Harry, and donates all the proceeds from her children's books to charity. Ignore all of that because she is just like everybody else. Right!! With that side of her life, it's hard to feel sorry for Parker. But after 50 pages you do. She has an adorable son Nicky. She has a great relationship with her son's father Ethan and his wife Lucy, who just happens to be her best friend, but the rest of Parker's family is a work in progress.

Her mother Althea, long-since divorced from Harry, bounces from rich husband to rich husband. Althea wants Parker to latch on to a rich man, rather than marry for love. Parker's cousins or the "Coven," as they are more commonly known, have their own circle and Parker isn't included. It's also been years since Parker has been in a relationship. A one-night fling several years ago with her father's lawyer, James Cahill (a.k.a. Thing One) was a great distraction, but ultimately a mistake in Parker's eyes. Why a mistake? Sure she spends so much time calling him "Thing One," that I thought it was his real name. But her father has had so many lawyers over the years, it's so much easier to call him "Thing One." As the book moves along, that nickname is more of a term of endearment.

Parker's world is thrown for a loop when her father, a Bernie Madoff-type, loses the family fortune, including her trust fund. It's a big betrayal, but Parker really has to grow up. All she has left is $11,000 in her checking account and a lake house in Maine left to Parker by a distant relative. First off, I would love to have $11,000 in my checking account, but to Parker it's rather meager. Maybe the house can be flipped and Parker can be flush with cash. But that's not meant to be since the house is falling apart and full of crap. Thing One, who just happens to be a carpenter in addition to being a lawyer, lends a hand. But Parker questions his motives. Is his presence genuine or at the bidding of Harry, who is now in prison?

It's hard to see James as anything other than her father's minion. Whenever her father couldn't make a family event, which was often, James was thrust into duty. Even the birth of Nicky couldn't drag Harry away from the boardroom. Despite his job, James always felt an emotional pull toward Parker. He sees something good in her, even if her own father can't.

Working side-by-side on the house is good and bad for Parker and James. James gets a chance to return to his Maine roots, and a chance to mend fences with his estranged family. He gets to do something that doesn't entail following Harry around. Parker gets a chance to see what she's made of not having to rely on her father's money. She gets a job at the local flower shop, run by her older cousin Lavinia. She's finally finds a job she enjoys, despite the hijinks from Lavinia. The "orchids" in the back are actually another plant. Here's a hint the plant is illegal in most states. I could read a book about Lavinia's character all day. When she's not cracking jokes, Lavinia is bragging about her sex drive. Of course there is sexual tension between Parker and James. But is it right to give into those feelings? How long can it last? Will he get along with Nicky? Why should James get involved with a woman who is emotionally unavailable? Is it worth it to get their hearts broken? All of the great elements you would expect from a Kristan Higgins book.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

It's Monday, what's on the cover?

It's Monday. what's on the cover? I'm back to reading a romance novel. A review will actually be posted later today of Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins. The cover does look inviting!! I want to jump right into the water. Those two look smitten with each other, but the story inside tells otherwise. Parker and James don't start off on the right foot, so how they look so happy on the cover? Stay tuned, the review is coming in a few hours.

The Reeducation of Cherry Truong by Aimee Phan  takes us on a trip to Vietnam. A young woman visits her brother and some of her distant relatives. She learns about herself in addition to her families past. The cover looks like a colorful family tree. Is each branch a season? That's what I'm thinking looking at that picture. I'm reading a PDF of the book on my Kindle, so I can't really tell. So far the book is interesting.

I instantly think of Twilight when I look at the cover of Otherwise by Jennifer B. White. I'll be honest, I don't like vampire stories, which is why I'll never read Twilight. I don't think Otherwise has anything to do with vampires. A young woman goes back to the cottage of her hoarder grandmother. I think there are some paranormal elements to the book. The hoarding element is what drew me to the book. I'll see where the journey takes me.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review Pitches: Sometimes I love them, sometimes I don't

Let me start off by saying I love, love, love to read. That's one of the reasons I started this blog. Each new book is an adventure. Sure the jacket copy can give you some clues, but you never know the full story until you read it. So what I'm about to say is not meant as an attack on authors or publicists. I have great respect for what authors and publicists do, so much that I'm going to grad school to learn about book publishing. But it has to be said there is a right way and a wrong way to pitch to a book blogger.

This post is not meant to single any author or publicist out. In nearly two years of blogging, I've received too many review pitches to count. I've said yes to these pitches more often than not. The ones I decline are simply because I don't think a particular book is right for me or I just don't have the time. Now, there have been many times when I simply ignored an e-mail pitch. Ninety-nine percent of the time I ignore one because the pitch was just plain awful. The other one percent is simply because I forgot about the pitch, sorry sometimes I get a little forgetful.

Normally, when I receive a pitch about a book I'm ...

ECSTATIC!! Yes, I get a little excited when I'm pitched what could potentially be a great book. But then sometimes I get a pitch that leaves me a little.....

Steamed!!! Increasingly, I have received pitches that have left me a little steamed. Again, this post is not meant to single out any author or publicist. But I feel I have reached a boiling point and something has to be said.

Here is an actual pitch I received. The person will remain nameless.

"Subject Line: Review Request of xx book
Please find attached a copy of the book. It is presently available on I'd appreciate it if you could leave a review there, or anywhere else you might review."

Now I have received several pitches like this, and I just can't ignore it anymore.

The subject line alone of this e-mail implied to me that this particular person was asking me to consider a book for review. But upon reading the e-mail I'm basically being told here is an e-copy of the book and post your review on or anywhere I might post reviews. There was no description of the book in the e-mail. There was a picture of the cover and the title seemed to suggest it was a mystery novel. But I have no idea because the information wasn't provided. There were no links to the author's site (if you don't have one that's Ok, but you really should have one), to articles or other links to other reviews. I can easily look the book up, but I shouldn't be doing that. An e-mail pitch is supposed to entice me or sell me on the idea of the book. To do that, information about the book should be included in the pitch. You can't assume everyone will want to review your book without some basic information. Instead, I simply ignored this pitch because it was highly presumptuous. 

"Dear Jael, dear blogger, dear Bookangel, Hello Jael, Hello blogger or Hello Bookangel," followed by a simple summary of the book, links, and picture of the cover will suffice when pitching to me. Other bloggers might want to be addressed by their name only, but everything else I said is a pretty good rule of thumb to follow.

Forgive me if I'm rambling, but I have to break this down even further. My name is Jael. I didn't see that anywhere in this e-mail. In fairness to this person, my name, until recently, was not listed under my contact info. It is on the page now, just in case someone has a problem. It isn't that hard to find out my name. People who follow me on Twitter or found my site through it know my name. But in this case, I will take the hit for someone not knowing my name. However, if you don't know my name I'm not offended if a pitch e-mail starts off with, "Dear blogger or Dear Bookangel." I also don't mind the form pitches that big publishing houses send out. Why? Because often those pitches are full of information not just on the particular book or books in the pitch, but also on upcoming projects. Now, don't get it twisted. I don't apply different rules if a pitch comes from a big publishing house. I review books by self-published authors, too.

If you've been reading my blog regularly, you know I'm unemployed at the moment. Yes, I have more free time. But during the week, a lot of my time is spent researching and looking for a job. I have applied and been accepted to grad school, but the process took some of my focus away from reading. I do like to read, but my days aren't consumed by reading. Blogging and reading is done in my spare time. I don't get paid to do this, and for someone to assume I'm going to review a book based on a THREE-SENTENCE PITCH is a little rude and insulting.

Please try to see this from the prospective of a blogger. Would you like it if someone made assumptions on what you should do with your FREE TIME? Again, if you're an author or publicist please don't get offended by this. If you have a great book, most likely I'm going to say yes because I love to read. But there is a right way and a wrong way to pitch a book to a blogger. A three-sentence pitch will never cut it.

Thank you!! Happy reading!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

My take on: Annie Begins

Annie Thompson doesn't take the easy path. Other 29/30-year-olds she knows used their degrees to snag high-paying jobs. Annie chose to pour her blood, sweat, and tear into a start-up company. Low pay now just means she will reap the rewards later. She has a nice home life with her roommates Stephen, who is also her business partner, and Elke. She also wants love, but what direction Annie should take with that isn't easy. With Annie, author Michelle Toth has created a very relatable character. A lot of women can see themselves in Annie.

Annie and Stephen are in the midst of trying to get their relationship site off the ground. Money is hard to come by until they can convince investors to buy into the potential of their website. While Stephen is more into work and casual sex, Annie is interested in making a match of her own. Her friend Paul is going through a divorce. Annie is hoping Paul turns his romantic attention in her direction. I don't have much relationship experience, but when I read that all I could think is, "BIG MISTAKE!!!" Nobody wants to be the rebound relationship, it won't last very long. When Paul was married he was off limits, and now that he's not he should still be off limits!! Trying to turn a long-term platonic friendship into a romantic one is the quickest way to lose a friend for good. Annie's crush on Paul is clouding her judgment.

She wants Paul for herself, and is afraid some other woman will snatch him up. She adores her attractive roommate Elke, but is afraid to introduce her to Paul. One look at Elke and Paul might forget all about Annie. To make matters worse her family, particularly her ill cousin April, want to set Annie up with Paul's roommate Eddie. What?!?! That's not part of Annie's plan. Although Eddie is very engaging and funny. He actually pays attention to what Annie says. Paul pays attention to an extent but if the Celtics are playing on the TV, Annie might as well fade into the background. It's also easier for Annie to be around Eddie. With Eddie, she isn't worried about how she looks or if they are any attractive women around to distract him. With Paul, Annie is always fretting about her appearance. Should she look like a sex kitten or wear her regular schlumpy attire around Paul?

With her friends, Annie can let her guard down a little. She can easily sit in bed eating cookies with Stephen and Elke without having to worry about her appearance. The chats can last for hours. I liked her friendships with Elke and Stephen more than her friendship with Paul. With Paul she's afraid to say or do the wrong thing. She just has more chemistry with people not named Paul.

While the story feels very true to life, it did get a little bogged down with business terminology. It does portray the ins and outs of a start-up company very well. Low pay and long hours are part of the culture. If you're just starting a business, I'm sure those parts will appeal to you. I was more interested in Annie's life outside of the office. The business parts of the book just weren't my cup of tea.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My take on: So Damn Lucky

Lucky O'Toole is back for another adventure in So Damn Lucky by  Deborah Coonts. There is never a dull day in her job as Head of Customer Relations at the Babylon hotel. A horde of magicians and UFO enthusiasts have descended on the hotel. Yes you read that right, UFOs!! I guess that picture on the cover should have given me a clue.

When we met up with Lucky again she is on her way to a party where famed magician Dimitri Fortunoff is the star attraction. But Lucky is distracted. All she can think of is how her relationship with her rock star boyfriend Teddie has hit the skids, and the lack of sex is starting to drive her a little mad. So mad she can't help but look twice at every attractive man, including attractive investigator Paxton Dane. A handsome french chef doesn't help matters either. Lucky wants desperately to have a life outside the hotel, but the shenanigans at the Babylon make that so difficult. Her mother Mona hasn't changed. Mona's personality is as loud as the color of her outfits. She's a retired madam and about to have another child with her longtime love, The Big Boss. It seems so odd to have a character named The Big Boss, but that's who he is to Lucky. He also happens to be her father, but that little tidbit is being kept quiet. After decades of not knowing who her father was, Lucky just isn't ready for their true relationship to be public. Lucky seems to be managing a three-ring circus in her personal and professional life.

And Dimitri Fortunoff's latest magic trick is about to consume Lucky's work and personal life.

Dimitri's attempt to replicate a trick by Houdini, leads to his death. Or does it? I found myself wondering the answer to that at every turn. He's a magician, people like him are masters of illusion. They can make large objects disappear, what will stop them from faking a death. But from the looks of it he is dead. Dimitri's body also disappears, and that is where the real fun begins. Unraveling the mystery is both funny and confusing. I say confusing because the world of magicians is a tough code to crack. No one wants to talk to Lucky or the police. If they do speak it's in code -- a complicated code. Area 51, UFOs, the magician code, and some really freaky people create an interesting mix in this book. Despite being a bit confused by the plot, I kept reading. With a mystery like this you have to keep going. You have to find out where it's going to end.

The book is also very funny. A sexually adventurous couple, a sweet old lady who wants to marry her dog, a "flashy" reporter, and Lucky's assistant Miss P provide a lot of comic relief. Despite the toughness Lucky exudes, Miss P isn't afraid to put Lucky in her place. But Lucky is no pushover either. She can be tough one minute and extremely vulnerable the next. She's the kind of person you would want on your side. Even when threatened she explores every possible lead. She doesn't give up easily. By the end there is hope that she can be as lucky in love as she is in her professional life.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from FSB Associates  in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My take on: Comeback Love

After decades apart, can two people find love again? Will everything work out? Is the pain of the breakup still there? Have the both of you grown from the experience? What would you do with a second chance? Peter Golden tackles all that in his novel Comeback Love.

The book alternates between the present and the past. In the present, Gordon Meyers  is a successful consultant. He has a son he adores and an ex-wife. But now his life is in turmoil and it leads him back to his first love Dr. Glenna Rising. Wanting to know what went wrong, kept me turning the pages. You meet these two likeable people, and wonder what kept them apart?

Thirty-five years in the past, Gordon and Glenna were coming of age amidst the turmoil of the Vietnam War. Gordon was trying to the dodge the draft by continuing his studies in college. When Gordon met Glenna he was struggling to make it as a writer, and she was a med student heavily involved in abortion rights. The attraction was mutual, but do they really belong together? I wondered if Gordon fit into her world. They seemed to be polar opposites. She's immersed in her studies and social responsibility. Gordon doesn't care a lot about college, he is simply trying to avoid going off to war. Somehow they make their relationship work. He might not like her friends, but Gordon can be witty and funny around them. She can easily get along with his family.

But something is missing from their relationship. It's the elephant in the room. They love each other, but they always seem to be testing each other. When Gordon betrays Glenna in the worst way, he decides against telling her. She was probably just testing him, so why tell the truth? Is he afraid of losing her or of getting caught? Neither one of them is acknowledging something is missing. What was it? In the present, Gordon and Glenna try to discover what went wrong. They discover that the hurt is still there. Gordon fell in love and married someone else, but he always wondered what a life with Glenna would have been like. Glenna became a successful pediatrician, but her marriage wasn't out of love but for convenience.

The book has themes everyone can relate to. Relationships are never easy, and they're filled with ups and downs. I found myself rooting for Gordon and Glenna. If given a second chance at love, would you take it? Most of us would probably say yes.

Rating: Superb

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

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My take on: Leftovers

No I don't have a repressed desire to be a Tupperware lady, but after finishing Leftovers by Arthur Wooten I felt I needed a little context. Leftovers is the tale of  1950s downtrodden housewife. When all else failed, Vivian Lawson turned to Tupperware to pick herself up.

Within the first few pages, I thought Vivian was too good to be true. She wore perfect clothes, cooked perfect food, and had a perfect husband. But it was all a mirage, a fantasy that Vivian has in her head. In reality, Vivian is a scrawny, insecure housewife who is trying to be perfect. Her many attempts to make the perfect meal for her husband often results in burnt, inedible food. Her many attempts to beautify herself with makeup result in Vivian looking more like a raccoon than Coco Chanel. All of her efforts go unnoticed by her dog of a husband Paul. I say "dog" because his character is sooooooooo insensitive. He's only concerned with his needs. Any problems in their marriage is Vivian's fault not his. He cheats on Vivian because she is a bad wife. Yeah, that makes sense. Not!!

When the marriage falls apart Vivian seems to find her voice, albeit briefly. Rather than let Paul just walk out the house, Vivian throws whatever she can get her hands on at Paul. I was thinking, "Hit him!! Hit him!! Hit him!!" It was a brief moment of triumph because rather than picking herself up Vivian wallows in self pity. She ignores all the household bills. She ignores her friends Babs and Stew. She has no idea how to provide for herself. Her mother Irene never approved of Vivian's marriage, but still refuses to help her daughter financially. Irene's character struck me as rigid and cold. She cares more about appearances than feelings. Vivian seems to always be seeking her approval despite being rebuffed by her mother. If Vivian can show how happy her life is, mother will approve. If Vivian can show what a good wife she is, mother will approve. If Vivian can show how good her marriage is, mother will approve. But no matter what Vivian does it's never enough for Irene.

When Vivian finally hits rock bottom, Babs and her brother Stew take her in. Babs is a funny and outgoing character, but Stew is a bit of a mystery. His career as a cop isn't going well, instead he tags along with Babs to her Tupperware parties. He is a great cook, and when he isn't daydreaming about Vivian, Stew is singing Judy Garland. I found myself thinking like Vivian, "Is he gay?" I hate to stereotype, but this is supposed to be 1954. I can't imagine there were many straight men like him. Does he really have a crush on Vivian or is he putting on an act?

Meanwhile, Vivian is left to wonder how she can make her life better.  Is there anyway out of this? What will she do for money? Babs has the solution.....Tupperware!! Babs enjoys financial freedom by selling Tupperware. In 2012, that doesn't sound like a lot of fun despite the many Tupperware salesmen and women out there. But in the 1950s, I'm sure it was very attractive. Vivian isn't a natural saleswoman, but once she steps out her shell her career takes off. But it seems like there is something missing for Vivian. The money gives her all the material things she's ever wanted, but can it buy her mother's love and approval?

I like the overall message of the book, life does get better. If you don't change your situation it will never get better. During her marriage to Paul, Vivian was always trying to be happy or put on the appearance that she was happy. It took losing everything for Vivian to take a hard look at her life. No matter what age you are, the themes in this book are something everyone can relate to.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My take on: Unbroken

I'm a sucker for family dramas. Unbroken by Jamie Lisa Forbes roped me in right away with her tale of ranch life in Wyoming.

Every day is the same for Gwen Swan. She's lost in a sea of cooking, cleaning, children and ranch life. Her daughter McKenna is a parent's dream compared to her rowdy son Rory. Her son Rory is always in trouble. She tries everything she can to get Rory on the right path. No matter how many times she preaches the value of good grades and manners, Rory still gets in trouble. Her husband Will doesn't think anything is wrong. In Will's mind, he will grow out of his bad behavior. Making him work the fields and raising cows will should straighten him out.

Gwen's father-in-law John is often the voice of reason. She sees John as a thorn in her side. She sees his words of wisdom as an attempt to usurp her parental authority. Sometimes the kids would rather be around their grandfather than Gwen. John just has a different approach. Having raised two boys, John can relate to Rory in a way that Gwen can't. Marriage to Will has hit a lull. Will is more wrapped up with the problems in his own head than his marriage. Following John's death, Will had the perfect opportunity to reconcile with his estranged brother Nick. But rather than embrace his brother, Will was more concerned with retaining ownership of the ranch. What about Gwen in all of this? She lets the family problems overtake her own happiness.

A friendship with Meg Braeburn, a fellow rancher and neighbor, offers Gwen a break from her routine. Like Gwen, Meg just seems to be going through the motions. She let love guide her life, but it only led to heartache. Meg's son Jim was the only bright spot of her failed marriage. Estranged from her parents, Meg tries her best to provide a normal life for Jim. Working as a ranch hand in town after town, Meg might have finally found a place to plant roots. Meg and Jim begin to feel like they are part of the Swan family. Before his death, John even took Meg under his wing, teaching her that's it's Ok to let her guard down. Meg is determined to prove that she is tough. She wants to prove she can hold her own in a male dominated profession. Often she is too stubborn to take help, but the Swans show Meg that she can.

Despite having more than most people, Meg and Gwen seem very lonely. Gwen has a husband to share her worries with, but Will is so self-absorbed it's hard for him to see what's wrong. Meg wants to have a loving relationship, but often thinks she is unworthy of it. Her marriage failed, and in Meg's mind she doesn't deserve a second chance. A betrayal of trust destroys Meg and Gwen's friendship, leaving both women back where they started. Can they trust another person again if it's just going to lead to heartache?

By the end of this book I was a little misty. The author went in a direction I wasn't expecting. You have to read it to get what I'm talking about. As a little side note, I have to say that this book gave me a great appreciation for ranch life. I personally don't eat beef, but I respect the amount of work it takes to raise and breed cattle. The book is a very emotional and powerful look into a way of life that few of us know about.

Rating: O.M.G. !!!

Note: I received a copy of the book as part of a blog tour with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Monday, what's on the cover?

It's Monday, what's on the cover? The cover of Unbroken by Jamie Lisa Forbes is gorgeous. A single tree in the midst of a snowy field. Despite all the snow around it that tree is still surviving. The book centers on ranch life. I'm halfway through, and I have a deep respect for people who do that kind of work. It's so hard. I don't think I could ever do it. A review will be posted tomorrow.

Another snowy cover!! Comeback Love by Peter Golden is a love story. Those two people on the cover have found each other again after decades apart. They're taking a long walk together during a snowstorm. Will they rekindle their love? I don't know yet. I've just started the book. But that is another pretty picture. As cold as it might be, the cover looks very romantic. It's like they are the only two people in the world.

The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen is definitely different. A young girl is narrating the end of days. What does the snowflake have to do with it? I'm not sure. The cover seems very childlike. Stay tuned.

Another mystery book on my reading pile. So Damn Lucky is the third book in the series by Deborah Coonts. I have the second book (Lucky Stiff), but haven't read it yet. Hopefully that won't matter. That's an unusual charm bracelet on the cover. A space ship, cards and a money sign. They don't really go together do they? I'm guessing our gal Lucky has another unusual murder case on her hand. A magician has died performing his act. Was it an accident or a murder?

I have great respect for anyone in a customer service job. Flight attendants are no exception. Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole gives a funny take on life in the "friendly" skies. That woman on the cover seems to have a devilish smile. She's going to dish on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

My take on: Fat is the New 30

 Jill Conner Browne must be a fun person in real life. That outfit she is sporting on the cover of Fat is the New 30: The Sweet Potato Queens Guide to Coping with (the crappy parts of) Life is way over the top. She is just inviting you to read the book. Daring you to read the book. I read the book, but I will be honest I'm not a huge fan of books like this. It's hard to break out of that fiction mold. But there are definitely some good stories in this book.

My favorite essay has to be, "I Left My Heart..on the Porch, Actually." It's all about what she calls the "Divorce Porch." For three years and counting her husband has been working on the porch in their backyard. But of course it isn't done. It's a work in progress. Well it's more of a death trap. If they ever get divorced the porch will be the reason. Sounds perfectly rational to me. How many of us have projects that we swear we will get to but never do? I did cleaned up my room in December but I left a bag full of papers on the side. My intent was to go through them and shred the unimportant papers. Well it is now April and that bag of papers is still there. So Jill, even though I'm not married, I understand.

When it comes eating and body image, I am on her side.

"The times in my life when I have been thin, I enjoyed it well enough, but trust me, PLENTY of stuff tastes WAY better than being thin feels. For that matter, come to think of it, FEELING FULL FEELS better than being thin does." Pg. 42

I'm not advocating that everyone run out and get fat, but I had to laugh at that statement. Sure I feel great after a workout, but I feel even better when I down some french fries after that workout. Kind of defeats the purpose right? But feeling full does feel really good!!

This book is part of an ongoing series. I've never read the other books, but if I had to guess I think the themes are pretty similar. Embrace who you are and tap into the sassiness that is within all of us.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy from Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest review.