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Archive for the ‘relationship’ Category

Baling

By Carol Hanrahan

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Baling-Carol-Hanrahan/dp/1442168374

It was a snowy weekend in my little corner of the world, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend it than reading a story about long, lazy summer days in the country. “Baling” by Carol Hanrahan is a delightful coming of age story that chronicles one magical summer in the lives of two teenaged boys.

When Nick and his younger brother, John, find out they have to spend the summer at their Aunt Jess’ farm, helping out with the baling, they are not exactly overjoyed at the prospect. Especially Nick, the older of the two, who’d planned to spend his vacation watching movies, visiting Six Flags Theme Parks, and mostly, attending driving classes in the hope of obtaining his license. Nevertheless, they have little choice except to go along with the plan. From the day they arrive on the farm, life becomes one adventure after another, and they discover that a summer in the country may not be as dull as they’d first imagined. When the boys come across an old Civil War jacket and a packet of letters hidden away in their Aunt’s attic, they team up with Lainey Wallace, the beautiful neighbor girl, and go in search of hidden treasure. In the process, they encounter danger and uncover a family secret, and seventeen-year-old Nick discovers the magic of falling in love.

I really enjoyed this story. The author has a lovely talent for describing the joy of country living. Indeed, the writing was so vivid I could almost smell Aunt Jess’ chocolate cake baking in the oven, see the beauty of the starry night sky, and feel the soft whisper of the summer breeze. The story was very well paced, with a nice balance of action-packed scenes to keep the pages turning, and plenty of quiet moments where I could pause to savor the beauty of the landscape. The story is strong on family values, and is a refreshing reminder of life’s simple pleasures.

The storytelling was lovely, the plot, interesting, and the characters, likeable (if a bit underdeveloped.) All of this added up to a wonderful reading experience. I recommend “Baling” to anyone who enjoys heartwarming stories of life in the country.

–Honeybee

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Becoming: A Chronicle of Metamorphosis

By Mark Lichterman

Metropolis Ink (June 15, 2008)  

Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Mark-Lichterman/dp/0646492160

“Do you remember your radio and “Captain Midnight,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Junior Miss” and “Let’s Pretend”? The first time you inhaled a cigarette? Your first swallow of hard liquor? The thrill of the first exploration of the body of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife… your own body? Your first orgasm? Remember when as a people we loved America, and showed it? Then you might be ready for a nostalgic, funny, romantic, sexually frustrating novel. A novel that may remind many of us of ourselves, “way back then,” when God’s most mysterious creation was the opposite sex. A novel about life and the often funny, sometimes sad, day-to-day things that stir the memories of our lives…”

The above is a quote from the blurb for Mark Lichterman’s Becoming and I put it there because it so aptly describes the novel. When I decided to review this book, I was worried because number one, I rarely have time to sit down and read a book as long as this one and two, because I stupidly felt I’d never be able to connect with anything in it. I’m female, Christian, grew up in the country, and the time period was before my time. I was wrong, wrong, wrong! The subject matter is timeless, the characters so genuine they jump from the pages and into your heart, and being the mother of boys—I could even relate to the male point of view.

The story begins in 1939 on Chicago’s eastside and follows five-year-old Mitchie for the next seventeen years of his life. A true coming of age story told in graphic detail. And the humor—did I mention the humor? I found myself laughing out loud many times. I especially loved when the humor came at a time when it was totally unexpected, the way it is in ‘real life’. I can’t say all I’d like to say about the book because it needs to be experienced first hand and I don’t want to spoil that experience for the reader by saying too much.

Mr. Lichterman is a talented storyteller with a beautifully unique writing style and strong voice. His characters are delightfully flawed, giving them an unsurpassed charm and authentic quality. Becoming transcends all gender, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds, so no matter where you’re coming from, if you love truly great coming of age stories, give this one a try.

My one complaint is I felt the book ended too soon. Yes, even at 736 pages, I was sad when reading that last page and know these characters will be with me for a long time.

–Willow

       

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Childproofed

By Reese Reed

Author Website: www.reesewrites.blogspot.com

BuyLink: https://www.createspace.com/Customer/EStore.do?id=3399630

Things have been so crazy around my house lately that having time to read was impossible. I finally carved out a few minutes, determined to at least start CHILDPROOFED by Reese Reed. If I’d known what a treat this story would be, I’d have put off bedtime a couple of hours to read it before now. At 194 pages, it’s a one sitting read and well worth the time.

Virginia is a thirty-year-old wife and mother who after the birth of her second child isn’t so sure motherhood is all it’s cracked up to be. Somewhere between changing diapers, middle of the night feedings, baths, bedtime stories, and the million other chores of motherhood, she’s lost herself—that young girl who was so carefree.

When Virginia learns that a hot young student at her husband’s school is after him, all her insecurities come crashing forward. Anxiety surfaces over the changes brought to her body by pregnancy, the fact that she barely has time to shower much less take time for a beauty routine, and uninterrupted lovemaking with Mark is a thing of the past. She wonders how he could possibly not prefer his gorgeous student aide to what waits for him at home.

Ms. Reed’s debut novel will strike a chord with mothers everywhere—an uplifting story of a young mother who temporarily loses herself, but then realizes she’s right there, exactly where she wants to be. Well written with a fast, steady pace and easy humor, it’s a great read for all busy mothers and yes, even those who haven’t yet ventured into motherhood. I also recommend it for all those fathers who’d like a little understanding of what’s going on with their wives.

–Willow

https://workinggirlreviews.wordpress.com

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Social Lives

By Wendy Walker

St. Martin’s Press – September 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Lives-Wendy-Walker/dp/0312378165

 

When Wendy Walker’s Social Lives, a story about the trials and tribulations of three families in an exclusive Connecticut suburb, came my way for review, a part of me was prepared not to like it. Call it good, old-fashioned jealousy; I have a tough time feeling sorry for the ultra-rich. But despite my misgivings, with each turn of the page I found myself more deeply immersed in the lives and troubles of these characters.

Rosalyn Barlow has the most coveted social position in Wilshire. With her handsome billionaire husband and her multimillion-dollar estate, Rosalyn has made it her life’s work to know the right people, chair the best committees, and throw the perfect parties. In Rosalyn’s world appearances are everything. Little do the people of Wilshire know of the threads of turmoil that run through the Barlow family tapestry, threatening at any moment to unravel.

Jacqueline Halstead is one of Rosalyn’s closest friends. But when her husband’s bad investment decisions threaten to destroy the home she has created for her children, the ghosts of her dysfunctional childhood arise, throwing “Jacks” into survival mode. She devises a plan to save her family at all costs– even if it means bringing the Barlow family down.

The newest and youngest member of Rosalyn’s circle of friends, Sara Livingston just can’t seem to get anything right. From her clothes to her bright red mini van, every decision she makes seems to blow up in her face. With a house caught in restoration hell, a nanny who threatens to usurp Sara’s role as mother to her small daughter, and the strain of the devastating secret she keeps from her husband, Sara’s battered nerves cause her to look for friendship in all the wrong places.

I found the cast of characters in this novel to be absolutely delightful, with the secondary characters every bit as well drawn as the primary. From the Barlow’s angst filled and rebellious daughter, Caitlin, to Kelly, Jacks’ older and wiser sister, to Rosalyn, who lives in the lap of luxury and still manages to live in misery, Ms. Walker has nailed the complexities of human nature to a tee. Taking as its theme a collection of wealthy women in American suburbia, one might be tempted to think Social Lives is just another “love it and leave it” contemporary story. Not so. The author takes on some tough and important issues like teen sexuality, a friend’s betrayal, and marital infidelity. Kudos to Wendy Walker for handling them so powerfully and eloquently.

Reading this book, I found myself smiling one minute and wanting to cry the next. The story paints a brilliant picture of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and yet it shows clearly that wealth does not necessarily equate to happiness. Indeed, money can bring with it its own unique set of problems. But mostly, the story proves that women are women, sharing the same fears, joys, struggles and concerns no matter what their socioeconomic background.  I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys stories of women and their relationships.

— Honeybee

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bunco-babes-tell-allBunco Babes Tell All

Maria Geraci

Penguin/Berkley – May 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bunco-Babes-Tell-Maria-Geraci/dp/0425227588/

Author Site: http://www.MariaGeraci.com

 

Okay, I have to confess to never having heard of Bunco until I received Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Tell All for review. What fun! You don’t have to know the game to enjoy this delightful story filled with humor, warmth, hot romance, and the loyalty of long time friendships.The Babes of Whispering Bay, Florida have set aside every Thursday night for Bunco. A night when they can gather to roll the dice, eat great food, drink signature drinks, and share secrets—a night to let it all hang out and totally de-stress. Because ‘what happens at Bunco, stays at Bunco’.

Real estate broker Kitty Burke is living in her grandmother’s vintage home with the intention of making repairs before putting it on the market, as her mother wants. But Kitty’s secret wish is to buy the home for herself. Unfortunately, although the most successful broker in the area, Kitty has never managed her spending and the repairs are straining her financial resources. Add that to the slow market and she fears she’ll never have the money to make the down payment.

Of the twelve babes, only Kitty is still unmarried and at thirty-five she feels it’s time to let go of her idea of the perfect man. Eighteen years earlier Kitty fell in love with Kevin Costner’s character from Bull Durham, and she’s never met a man in reality who can measure up to that image. Then she meets Steve and that first meeting is anything but perfect. No woman wants to meet what may be the sexiest man ever while her panties are around her ankles and she’s squatting in the bushes to relieve herself. Once Kitty has overcome her embarrassment at being caught in such humiliating circumstances, she decides to do something totally out of character. She goes after substitute plumber, Steve, for a one-night stand.

With three failed marriages behind him and between jobs, Steve isn’t exactly great husband material, but then Kitty isn’t planning a wedding, she only wants great sex. But there’s a lot more to Steve than Kitty ever planned on. Will she be able to let go of her preconceived notions of the perfect man and grab hold of true love?

Ms. Geraci paints a fascinating portrait of small town life and its inhabitants in Bunco Babes Tell All. The characters are well drawn. Kitty’s best friends, Pilar and Shea, are everything you’d ever want your friends to be, even if they are a little too honest and drive you crazy at times. There’s enough intrigue surrounding our hero, Steve, to keep you turning the pages. The town of Whispering Bay is in an uproar over new beachfront condominium plans from an out of town developer and stuck in the middle is Kitty. Lovely, charming and real, I loved her from page one. This story is at time hilarious and at others, heartwarming and tender. The love scenes are just hot enough and tastefully done by the author.

Bunco Babes Tell All is a fast, lighthearted, feel good read perfect for busy readers. I truly enjoyed my time with the Babes and heartily recommend it to all. As a bonus, in the back of the book are tips for playing Bunco, setting up Bunco clubs, recipes, and an excerpt from Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Gone Wild. Enjoy!

 –Willow

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sentence-of-marriageSentence of Marriage

By Shayne Parkinson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Original Publication Date: 2006

Book I in the three-volume saga, Promises to Keep

Buy Link: http://www.lulu.com/content/472164

I’m a very lucky girl in regards to the books I’ve been getting for review. They just keep getting better and better. Sentence of Marriage by Shayne Parkinson is no exception. It’s book one in a three-volume set titled Promises to Keep and one of the best historical novels I’ve had the pleasure to read in years.

New Zealand farm life in the 1880’s is hard and twelve-year-old Amy dreams of a life beyond the boundaries of her small community. Although snug in the warmth of her family’s love, Amy wants to be a teacher and experience the excitement of living in a city far from the isolated valley she calls home.

When losing her mother shortly after her birth, Amy and her older brothers are raised by an adoring father and strict, but loving Granny. Six months after Granny’s death, Amy is adjusting well to managing their home alone. When her father returns from a business trip with a new wife in tow, Amy and her brothers are shocked, but determined to make the best of it. Unfortunately Susannah finds farm life less than appealing and generally makes life miserable for all, especially Amy. Two and a half years later, Susannah’s younger brother comes to stay for the summer and Amy makes a choice that will change her life forever.

Although some of the plot is predictable in Sentence of Marriage, this in no way diminished the impact the story had on me because of the fresh way it was presented. The characters come alive on the page and with the breathtaking imagery drawn by Parkinson, the cinematic effect is undeniable. I felt as though I were watching the events unfold on a large movie screen. The author has a special gift for using specific words and phrases to bring the period and location into reality without it being overdone. The fact that I sat up reading until three-thirty in the morning, knowing I had to get up before six, speaks for how riveting the story is. I found it impossible to put down.

Not many people are totally good or totally evil and the author offers a superb mix of both good and evil characters with both good and bad traits existing in both. I was fascinated by Amy’s father, Jack, and enjoyed watching as different facets of his personality emerge. But one of the best characterizations I’ve ever seen is in Ms. Parkinson’s portrayal of Susannah—a selfish, conniving, self absorbed woman who seems, at times, to be on the verge of madness. Yet the author wisely gives the reader small glimpses of Susannah’s humanity, making her even more frighteningly real.

Negatives?? I screamed when I realized I’d read the last page. I wanted more, more, more, and I wanted it very badly. That’ s not a true negative though, is it? I have a feeling the story is about to take a decidedly even darker path, but I’m not worried about that. Sentence of Marriage has a darker storyline, but the warmth, humor, love and affection emanating from the characters make it both appealing and captivating. I’ll be buying a download of Book II in the Promises to Keep saga later this week and I heartily recommend this series to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and even those who don’t usually.

–Willow

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Belva-Plain-WhispersWhispers

Belva Plain

Dell, March 1994 (Mass Market Paperback)

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Whispers-Belva-Plain/dp/0440216745

 

Since I have read and enjoyed many of this author’s books in the past I was pleasantly surprised, while browsing at my favorite used bookstore, to come across a title I hadn’t seen before. Knowing without even reading the synopsis that I was going to like the book, I took it home and started reading it that same afternoon. As always, I was hooked by the opening sentence:

    ‘In dodging Robert’s hand, the furious hand aimed at her face, she fell and struck the edge of the closet’s open door instead.’

So begins WHISPERS, a gripping story of love and abuse in modern-day America.

When pretty, naive Lynn is swept off her feet by her handsome and charming boss, Robert Ferguson, at age twenty, it seems like a fairy tale come true. A rising star in a fast-growing company, the ambitious and loving Robert promises to make all of Lynn’s dreams come true. She has no reason to believe he won’t make good on those promises. However, as early as their tropical paradise honeymoon, the storybook romance is tarnished as Lynn discovers another side of Robert — a violent temper she never would have believed lurked beneath his charming exterior. Wanting to believe in his goodness and hoping for the best, she forgives his brutality and moves cautiously ahead into their future.

The years pass and the couple experiences all of the good and bad of life– the birth of children, the tragic loss of a child, friendships, success, and beneath it all, the ever present threat of Robert’s anger. Lynn tells herself the abuse is a small price to pay for all of the goodness the marriage holds, a lovely home, healthy children and the comforts of being the wife of a successful executive. Knowing she must be strong and keep the marriage intact for the sake of her children, she hides the scars, wipes away the tears, and goes on. But when her carefully concealed secret is discovered and her children begin to hear the faint whispers of gossip Lynn realizes she must look within herself and find the courage to leave.

With her classically eloquent writing style, Belva Plain paints a startling portrait of spousal abuse in corporate America and creates a realistic heroine in the character of Lynn Ferguson. So realistic that I found myself struggling along with her, almost believing with her Robert’s empty promises that things would get better. I was outraged at his cruelty, not only toward his wife, but toward shy, overweight Annie, his eleven-year-old daughter. I cried with Lynn through the bad times and cheered with her through the good. I was that wrapped up in the story.

Inspiring and evocative, WHISPERS is a story of a family’s heartbreak and redemption, and of a woman’s long journey back to herself. I recommend WHISPERS to anyone who enjoys finely crafted, resonating women’s fiction.

— Honeybee

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