Friday, September 20, 2013

My take on: Moonrise

Helen Honeycutt fell in love with Emmet Justice. They both have jobs in television. The newlyweds are off to spend their summer at Moonrise, a stately home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sounds beautiful and romantic doesn't? For most couples it would be, but Helen and Emmet aren't most couples. Why? No matter how hard she tries, Helen will always be living in the shadow of Emmet's first wife Rosalyn. And......someone or something is trying to push Helen out of the picture.

If you've read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, then you will totally get all of the references in Cassandra King's new book Moonrise. I have not read Rebecca, but I don't think you need to.

Emmet and Rosalyn had a close-knit group of friends -- Tansy and Noel, Linc and Myna, and Kit. To some, especially Tansy, Helen is an outsider. Or as Tansy put it, Helen is "The Bride." Sounds soooooooooooooo rude. But Emmet's marriage was rather sudden and rather soon after Rosalyn's death. The book is told from three different perspectives, Helen, Tansy, and Willa, a caretaker for many of the homes in town. I felt like Helen is who we are supposed to root for. Willa comes across a little more neutral. From Willa's perspective, you learn about everyone. Unlike Tansy, Willa isn't quick to judge Helen. Tansy is a villian, and I don't normally like villians. But in this case, I found Tansy to be more interesting than Helen. Tansy turns into a little spy whenever Helen is around. She spies on Moonrise from her cabin. She looks for fault in every little thing that Helen does. In her mind, no one can measure up to Rosalyn.

Although Helen's character is supposed to be in her mid-forties, she comes off as a little naive. Helen sees Moonrise as an idyllic vacation home, but for Emmet it is a grim reminder of the past. Rosalyn loved that house, but he didn't. He's only keeping it so their daughter, Annie, can have a piece of her mother's past. Why can't Helen see that? Or why can't Emmet tell her that outright? Helen wants so badly to fit in, that she can't see when others are trying to manipulate her. It's a characteristic I wouldn't question in a younger character, but I wanted Helen to have just a little more backbone.

When one member of a very close group dies, how are the rest supposed to go on? That question is at the heart of the book. What do you do with the outsider? Do you tell the outsider your secrets? And in this case, will Helen be able to form new alliances and at what cost? Although I felt the book dragged in some spots, it's a very entertaining read.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from Maiden Lane Press as part of a blog tour with Authors on the Web

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My take on: The Book of Someday

Three women with different backgrounds, and leading separate lives are uniquely tied by a mysterious woman in a shimmering silver dress. Sounds intriguing. Livvi, Micah, and AnnaLee don't know each other but they have a connection that will forever haunt them. The cover certainly hints at an air of mystery. Why does that young girl have her eyes closed? Whose hair is that above her? What story is lurking behind that cover? I had the opportunity to meet the author, Dianne Dixon, and get my book signed at BookExpo America.

Livvi had an abusive childhood. Her mother abandoned her. Her father and step-mother both act like they hate her. Livvi grew up fearing her father. She tried to hide from him, but he would always find her and pull Livvi by her hair. Her step-mother Calista was no help. Everything wrong in the family was somehow Livvi's fault. She was constantly tormented by a frequent nightmare about a woman in a shimmering silver dress. I thought to myself, what is so scary about that? How will it connect to the rest of the stories? I had to keep reading to find out. Livvi's only refuge was a journal, where she would write about her hopes and dreams. As an adult, Livvi fully separated herself from her family and turned that journal into a novel called "The Book of Someday." The novel is her chance to forge her own path in life.

Everything should be good for Livvi, but a new relationship makes her question everything. Andrew is handsome, charismatic, rich, and most of all loving. But Livvi knows he is hiding something. He won't reveal any personal details. On the flip side, neither will Livvi. Why tell him her sob story? Andrew's secrets and his reasons for hiding them seemed a little unrealistic. He has a daughter, Grace, a crazy wife, and a mother who loves his crazy wife. He can't divorce this crazy wife because it might literally kill her. She might go off the deep end. That didn't seem realistic to me. He seemed to be using the crazy wife as an excuse. The only thing keeping Livvi with Andrew is Grace. Even though this isn't her child, Livvi wants to offer Grace a refuge from the craziness. She can be that person whom Grace can turn to when things get too crazy. But she could be setting herself up for failure. Without Grace, what kind of relationship do Livvi and Andrew really have?

I know I spent a lot of time on Livvi, but there was a lot to discuss. Micah is a famous photographer, who has just been given a devastating diagnosis. She has breast cancer, and without treatment she could have very little time left. She hasn't had too much time for relationships or close connections. Micah is all about Micah. But now she has to find out if anyone cares about her? Will anyone miss when she is gone? Has anyone's life been worse or better since she left it. This journey is very humbling and humiliating for Micah. When it's all said and done, the last thing she has to do is confront the picture of the woman in a shimmering silver dress. I was a little confused by her connection with the picture, but it certainly was engaging to read.

Livvi and Micah's stories both take place during the present day. AnnaLee's story takes place in 1986. She is a young mother and housewife. Her husband Jack feels like he is constantly disappointing AnnaLee. He hasn't found a career that motivates him. AnnaLee has to sell her family heirlooms to help make ends meet. Their niece Persephone is a moody teenager, who doesn't feel like connecting with her aunt and uncle. I connected the most with this narrative. AnnaLee just wants her ensure he family's happiness and financial security. But it's so difficult. She manages to bond with Persephone, but Jack is still a work in progress. The end of this narrative is extremely sad, you have to read the book to know what I'm talking about!!

Separately, I think all three women could have carried their own book. There were moments when I was wondering how this all fits together. In the end, it all works and is a story worth reading!!

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book at BookExpo America.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My take on: Love Gone Mad

Before I get into my review of Love Gone Mad by Mark Rubinstein I have start with a little analogy. I have to liken the writing in this book to a Lifetime movie. What do I mean by that? The book wasn't perfect, but it had an addictive quality that I just couldn't shy away from. A little bit of romance, mystery, and suspense kept me turning the pages.

A near-death assault with a tall, beefy stranger has shaken heart surgeon Adrian Douglas to the core. Adrian has always felt safe in his local bar, but not on this particular night. The mystery man has a murderous look in his eye. He even tosses a few insults Adrian's way. He leaves the bar, but not before firing his shotgun at the bar. The mystery man disappears, but he's left Adrian a little uneasy. The good doctor doesn't have a lot of time to reflect on his scary encounter.

Nurse Megan Haggarty catches Adrian's eye. They get to know each other and fall in love rather quickly. He's not scared off by her young daughter Marlee either. But Megan's past could derail her future with Adrian. Her CRAZY ex-husband Conrad is out for revenge. As crazy as it sounds, Conrad is convinced Megan was having an affair with Adrian throughout their marriage and that Marlee is actually Adrian's daughter. Hmmmmmmmm?? Megan and Adrian didn't know each other until a few months ago, but somehow they were conspiring behind Conrad's back. At this point in the book, the story becomes less of thriller and more of a indictment on mental illness.

Is Conrad delusional? Is he crazy? Is he just another bitter ex-husband? He could be all of those things. Does that mean he gets a pass? Should he still be able to know right from wrong? If he's really sick does he deserve to be in prison or in a mental hospital? I just saw him as a jerk who deserved to be in prison with other jerks like him. Just when you think the crisis is over, something else happens. I think that's why I had trouble buying into the entire plot. Some elements were borderline in believability. There were even some elements of Megan and Adrian's relationship that bugged me. I can't be too specific because it's a big spoiler, but it has to do with Marlee. READ the book to find out what I'm talking about. There's also a big reveal at the end of the book, and I wonder if it was even necessary. It's one set of extreme circumstances after the other, and that's why I compared this book to a Lifetime movie. Despite my problems with some parts of the book, I kept on reading because the book still had a compulsive quality to it. It was like trying to eat one potato chip, I just couldn't stop until the book was over.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from Meryl Moss Media Relations as part of a blog tour

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Spotlight: The Husband's Secret

I know I've been missing in action the past few weeks. Vacation and a semi-reading slump have slowed my reading pace. With school starting, I will do my best with my blog posts. I have several reviews scheduled for September, including The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon, The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden, and... The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty -- which is the September selection for She Reads.

Here's the gist of the book, imagine your husband left you a letter to be opened upon his death. That letter contains his deepest, darkest secret. A secret that could destroy your life and the lives of others. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm....that sounds intriguing. What's the secret? Looking at the cover, I would never guess that this is about a long-held secret. The cover looks so uplifting, so cheerful. I'm intrigued. Stay tuned for my review.

Here's a video of the author talking about the book (UK cover is featured in the video). Enjoy!!