Thursday, August 28, 2014

My take on: The Art of Adapting

For the past two weeks my commute to work has been flying by. I normally take a nap on the way to work, and read on the way home from work. But recently I have given up my morning naps. Why? Because I was so engrossed in The Art of Adapting by Cassandra Dunn.

I'm a sucker for family dramas. The family in this book certainly has its issues.

Lana is recently separated from her husband, Graham. She's left to raise her teenage children, Byron and Abby. Her money is dwindling. On top of all that, she has to keep an eye on her eccentric brother Matt, who has Asperger's. A renewed friendship with a former boyfriend has Lana thinking about dating again. Lana's perspective wasn't anything new, but it was enjoyable to read. She's wondering what she did or didn't do to save her marriage. When will life get better?

Everyone in this book is in their own world. The book is told from all four viewpoints, and I enjoyed taking a journey through Abby and Matt's world the most.

It's clear from the beginning of the book that Abby has an eating disorder. But everyone close to her seems to be in denial about it. Even Abby is in denial. If she just keeps the weight off, the cute guy in her chem class will finally notice her. If she just keeps the weight off, life in general will be better. Of course that's not realistic. But you can't expect a teenager to live in reality. Abby is the kind of character you just want to give a hug. Reading the book, I know she needs more than that but just a little more personal attention from her parents would have gone a long way.

Matt is a bit of an enigma. To the outside world, he's this insanely smart, odd, and creative person. His quirks include the same food for breakfast, special silverware, special coats, special seats, and staring out the window for hours. He doesn't like a lot of close contact. He doesn't like a lot of noise. If his day deviates from the plan in anyway, Matt goes into a tailspin. To the average person that sounds crazy. But from his perspective this makes perfect sense. Routine is essential to someone like Matt, and not everyone can understand that. Of course Matt isn't meant to represent everyone with Asperger's, but it was nice to read a perspective that isn't prevalent in today's fiction.

This one really held my attention. This family's story is extremely relatable. Everyone at some point will be left wondering what if? What could they have done to be a better person? Are they on the right path? When will they be the person they were meant to be? Definitely a book worth reading.

Rating: Superb

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

Monday, August 25, 2014

My take on: Meet Me in Barcelona

It's been a long time since I wrote a review, but I've got one for you! What's this one about? I've never been to Spain, but I thought I could live vicariously through Meet Me in Barcelona by Mary Carter!

A young woman and her boyfriend win a surprise trip to Barcelona. How and why? Should they really question it? Her mother is terminally ill. Should she go? But she needs a break. However, that break will be short-lived. Secrets from the past will threaten everything. What's the secret? Or secrets?! I was definitely intrigued.

Grace Sawyer and her boyfriend, Jake, embark on the trip of a lifetime. Each day in Spain is met with clues to their mysterious benefactor. Grace has a sinking feeling it's a person from her past. A person she has spent 10-plus years trying to forget.

Carrie Ann wants to reconnect with the woman she loved like a sister. Years ago, Carrie Ann was one of the many foster kids Grace's parents took in. They were best friends. Best friends who became extremely co-dependent, so much that Grace's parents hated Carrie Ann's influence over their daughter. The death of someone close to both girls leads to years of estrangement ... and eventually Barcelona.

As characters, I could not stand Grace or Carrie Ann. The mere mention of Carrie Ann's name is enough to turn Grace into such an ANNOYING woman! She never told Jake about her foster sister, and he wonders what else Grace is hiding from him. She doesn't want to be around Carrie Ann, but has such a hard time telling her that. Grace wants to express her feelings, but when push comes to shove she clams up. Carrie is equally frustrating. She's needy and manipulative. She has a way of casually getting people to do exactly what she wants. I couldn't tell if Carrie Ann's intentions were good, bad, or indifferent. She claims to be in an abusive marriage. She claims she wants out of the relationship. She claims to want Grace back in her life. But she has such an odd way of showing it. Does she want help from Grace? Or something else? It takes a long time to get to that something else.

When I read the e-mail pitch, I was definitely intrigued by the promise of some mystery. But that doesn't happen until the second half of the book. Jake and Carrie Ann go missing! I won't tell anymore than that because you should read the book. My attention was certainly piqued. But the pacing leading up to that moment was a little slow for me. Grace and Carrie Ann were not my favorite characters, but there were things I did like. Jake was No. 1, I felt like he was the voice of reason. I did feel like I was transported to Barcelona; I have to go one day! This might not have been my favorite book, but I would certainly read another book by Mary Carter.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Kensington Publishing Corp.) as part of a blog tour with  Pump up Your Book.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I'm Still Here!!

Where have I been? Why haven't I posted lately?


On vacation. Just got back two days ago.

I want to post at least once a week, but sometimes I just don't have the time. And.....lately some books did not hold my interest. Like......

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie. I wanted to like it. I liked her first book Spin. In her latest book, two women are mourning the loss of the same man. Only one is his wife and the other is not. It sounds scandalous, but Catherine McKenzie explored the depth of the relationships between these characters and the consequences of their decisions.

I had high hopes, but I just couldn't get into this one. I think I started reading this one back in April. I stopped reading for a week or two, then I went back, then I stopped, then I went get the picture! I'm a very cyclical reader. I read several books at once, and sometimes only one or two will really grab my attention. I stuck with Hidden for several months, but a couple of weeks ago I just had to put it aside. I wasn't connecting with the story or characters. It was not working for me. I will absolutely read another book by Catherine McKenzie, but I had to breakup with Hidden. In a couple months, I might give it another shot.

So, when will I post my next review or book-related post? Soon! I promise! I'm still here!