The Hating Game

514sa3HcecL._SY346_Every now and then, I like to enjoy a romance novel. Usually I pick one of the historical ones simply because I like the setting as well as the chivalry that soaks every page. But this time, thanks to my book club, I picked up a rom-com that I probably wouldn’t have chosen if left to my own devices.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne was a whirlwind novel. Thrown into an office battlefield where two colleagues are trying to have the upperhand, Thorne introduces us to characters that are easy to love, or in this case, hate. Lucinda Hutton, assistant to one co-CEO of a publishing house, has dreamed of working for a publishing company since she was a young girl. Joshua Templeman, also assistant to another co-CEO of the same publishing house, disappointed his father years ago when he didn’t follow in the family footsteps. Both clash desperately as they vie for a new position opening up, one in which they would be the boss of the other.

Thorne creates a wonderful hate-love relationship between these two characters that eventually culminates in a breath-taking ending. While there are some steamy scenes here and there, the comedy throughout prevents The Hating Game to become “just another romance novel”. I found it incredibly hard to put down and enjoyed the flirtation Thorne creates between the reader and the characters she has developed.

The Invention of Wings

the-invention-of-wingsNot long ago, I read The Kitchen House. It was a well-written book but a story without hope. You could feel the suffocating sadness from the beginning. The Invention of Wings is similar but with more hope.

Sue Monk Kidd tells the story of a young white girl named Sarah and Handful, the slave she is gifted on her eleventh birthday. Sarah is not your typical child. She is defiant and has thoughts and opinions of her own. However, she lacks the resolve to stand up for what she believes. Kidd weaves a tale of a young girl learning to stand up for what’s right and a slave who is just trying to find her way. Over 35 years, we watch Sarah fight her lack of confidence as she tries desperately to find a way to release Handful from her position. All the while, Handful watches her mother teach her how to make a point to their white owners, from stealing green satin to faking a leg injury. Handful is a huge part of bringing Sarah out of her quiet world and showing her what’s really going on in Charleston, South Carolina.

Sue Monk Kidd, who also wrote The Secret Life of Bees, does not disappoint. Her intricate writing style builds this story into a soon to be classic. Analyzing the relationship between a slave and her owner, Kidd touches on subjects that are still happening today.

This Too Shall Pass

41q362Ic4QL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Have you ever wondered how your life would change once your parents are gone? For daughters, when their mom passes away we lose more than a parent, we lose a friend as well. This Too Shall Pass explores a daughter’s grief as she handles her mother’s passing with the help of some odd characters.

Milena Busquets attempts to tell a story of romance, grief, and laughter. However, she falls short. In this small book, just over 130 pages, she drags on and on about Blanquita’s grief. I had a hard time getting through this book and didn’t enjoy it. There were far too many characters with their own problems to keep track of. While her writing style is commendable, there wasn’t much to enjoy about the story itself. I could not feel Blanquita’s grief or her loss of control as she dealt with the death of her mother. It was hard to get attached to any of the characters in this story.

That being said, if you’re looking for a short book to grab and read, This Too Shall Pass may be the book for you. Just be sure you have the gumption to push through and finish it.

Eleanor

Bookshot_Spine_MedHave you ever read H.P. Lovecraft? You know how his books like to toy with your mind? I always find I get “brain cringes” when I read his books because I feel like someone has taken my mind and played with it. I love that feeling, but at the same time I don’t.

Jason Gurley’s Eleanor reminds me quite a bit of Lovecraft’s work, however, less creepy. In Eleanor, we’re introduced to a multitude of characters, all deeply connected in one way or another. Eleanor is a young mother who abandons her daughter and husband on a stormy night. Years later, her daughter, Agnes, has a family of her own. On another stormy day, tragedy strikes and tears the family apart. Now her daughter, Eleanor, must find a way to put her family back together if they’re ever to have a chance at happiness.

Gurley manages to take a tale and twist it into something completely different. Eleanor is unlike anything you’ve read before. Simultaneously dealing with teenagedom, family tragedy, depression, and fantasy, Eleanor is a book you won’t want to put down. With hints of mystery and saving a family, Eleanor begs the question: what if you could push a reset button? What lengths would you go to in order to bring happiness back to your family?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Two Good Dogs

29939175In this age of A Dog’s Journey, it takes a lot for a dog’s story to stand out. Susan Wilson, a New York Times bestselling author, has written multiple stories featuring canine companions. Two Good Dogs is her latest creation.

Set in the Berkshires, Two Good Dogs tells the story of a troubled fifteen-year old girl, Cody, who carries a heavy secret. She knows who her father’s killer is. As she tries to navigate the treacherous straits of being a teenage girl as well as making sure her mother never finds out her secret, she falls into even more trouble, picking the wrong friends and making bad decisions. Along the way, she meets a young man who has also made some bad decisions and his dog, Dawg. Cody’s mom bought a run-down motel shortly after Cody’s father was gunned down with hopes of starting fresh. But things aren’t going so well and the motel rarely has any visitors. Until one evening a man, Adam March, shows up with his therapy dog Chance. Adam and Chance take a shine to the place and become regulars at the motel.

Susan Wilson weaves an intricate tale of betrayal, love lost, and second chances. Two Good Dogs has it all; a mixture of mystery, comedy, and a coming-of-age story. Following this group of characters was an adventure. As a mother, I grew frustrated with Cody’s teenager antics (and my kids aren’t even that old yet!). As a dog owner, I fell in love with Chance and Dawg/Lucky. There is something in this story for everyone. More than anything, it shows that everyone deserves a second chance. It’s up to them what they do with it.

A Fall of Marigolds

Screen-Shot-2014-02-23-at-11.47.35-PMDo you believe in coincidence? Or do you believe that everything happens for a reason? Is it all preordained? Or do things happen randomly?

A Fall of Marigolds questions just that. Telling the story of two women, 100 years apart, A Fall of Marigolds brings together people worlds apart. Susan Meissner creates lovable characters that you can’t help but feel like you’ve been friends with for years. We first meet Taryn, a single mother living in New York with her nine-year old daughter. Taryn currently spends her days working in a unique fabric store, still mourning the loss of her husband on 9/11.

We’re also introduced to Clara Wood, a nurse on Ellis island in 1911. A survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, she has isolated herself on the island as a way to cope with the loss of the man she loved, even if she only knew him for a few short days. Clara finds solace in an immigrant who lost his wife after only being married a couple of weeks. As the story progresses, their lives begin to entwine.

Meissner does a spectacular job of relating the two women’s stories to each other and pulling the reader in. It was incredibly difficult to put this book down. A Fall of Marigolds is a novel that will last the ages; questioning how fast can you truly fall in love with someone and do coincidences really exist.

The Fifth Petal

29741905A guilty pleasure of mine, I love to read just about anything dealing with the Salem Witch Trials and just Salem in that time period. I find it fascinating what fear can do to a group of people. So when I saw The Fifth Petal and read the blurb, I was excited to see what Brunonia Barry could do with one of my favorite subjects.

In 1989 on Halloween night, four women were murdered and a fifth went missing. The woman they had been boarding with was under scrutinization for the incident, but the trauma of losing them was too much for her and she’d begun to lose her mind. On the same night of the murders, a daughter of one of the victims was found and taken in by some nuns. Twenty-five years later and the case is reopened.

Barry weaves a tale of mystery, love, and finding family. I could not put this book down. While there were moments that seemed a bit redundant, the story moved along nicely. I got annoyed with a couple of the characters but that’s a show of a great author. Barry created characters that were easy to get involved with, while you may not love them you’ll definitely be interested in their fate. Barry also manages to keep you guessing. The ending was definitely a surprise which I love! All in all, a very well-told story with some magic involved. If you’re a lover of all things Salem or “witchy”, I highly suggest you pick up The Fifth Petal and add it to your reading list.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

the-coincidence-of-coconut-cake-9781501100710_hrIt’s been awhile since I’ve read a light-hearted romance novel. You know the ones. They’re fluffy and easy reading. It doesn’t take much thought to follow them and they almost always pull at your heartstrings. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake does just that. After an exhausting read like American Gods, Reichert’s light romance was great for cleansing the reading palette. Not only that, but it offered a beautiful story of love lost, found, lost, and found again. Reichert brings to life characters that are easy to fall in love with.

In The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, we met Lou (short for Luella, a middle name) who is a chef running her own French restaurant. While Lou might not have her whole life together, she knows what she wants and she’s going for her dreams. Until a local food critic tears her restaurant to shreds on the same day her engagement falls to pieces. But as luck would have it, she runs into a newbie to the town of Milwaukee. A young British fellow who can’t find what there is to love about this town with all the beer. Lou takes it upon herself to enlighten him to all the wonders of their fair town and along the way he captures her heart. But there are secrets buried in this budding romance and Lou’s heart will be tested.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a love story we’ve read before but Reichert’s take on it makes it all the more endearing. I will warn you, if you decide to pick this one up, don’t read hungry. Once you finish though, you can satisfy your cravings with the coconut cake recipe Reichert provides in the back.

American Gods

american-godsI admit, I haven’t read much Gaiman. The Graveyard Book and Good Omens are all I’ve ever known of Gaiman’s work. And while I thoroughly enjoyed both books, I was never quite prone to picking up another one of his works. That has since changed.

American Gods has been on my reading list for a while and after getting annoyed with myself for not reading it sooner, a friend of mine put it on our book club’s reading list. I was so thankful to finally have a reason to crack this one open. Do you ever have a book that just feels good in your hands? Well, my copy of American Gods was exactly like that. I loved just flipping through the pages and feeling its weight.

That being said, this book was difficult for me to get through. Gaiman’s writing style is at its best. His proficient use in descriptions and alluring paragraphs does nothing but amplify the classic this book will become. However, I found the book exhausting to complete. Gaiman weaves in story after story that tell of the Gods of old. And while they do give a nice background to the characters involved, they mostly seem unnecessary and tiring. Gaiman did everything correctly in creating American Gods and his ultimate lesson in all of it is strong. But the ending left something to be desired. All in all, a decent read albeit long. I can’t wait to see what they do with it in the TV remake.

 

The Light Between Oceans

13158800I had looked forward to reading this book for so long. The synopsis seemed like a great story. Little did I know how much this would affect me.

The Light Between Oceans tells the tale of a war hero and a headmaster’s daughter who fall in love and move to an island so he can be a lightkeeper. Tom, the lightkeeper, is quiet and subdued. He doesn’t shed much light on his past and we only know bits and pieces. Isabel, a young feisty girl, falls for Tom hard and burrows her way into his life. They are the perfect team and suited for each other well. But there’s only one problem. They can’t have children, the one thing that Isabel wants most in life.

After the loss of their third child, Isabel is distraught and deep in mourning. But a dinghy floats onto the shores of their island carrying a deceased man and a young baby. Immediately Isabel takes to the little one, who they call Lucy. She convinces her husband to keep the child, justifying it by God giving them a child to replace the one they’d just lost. But what happens when they find out the baby has a mother who is alive, and living not far from them?

This story offers so much. As a mother of three beautiful children, I can’t imagine one of them disappearing and not knowing what became of them. On the other hand, I can’t imagine never having them in my life and wanting so desperately to have children of my own. The Light Between Oceans is a deep reflection on two mothers’ love for the same child, although different to each one. M.L. Stedman has a wonderful writing style; both straightforward and poetic. While some parts of the book seemed to drag, overall this story kept my interest and had me in tears by the end.