Review: Good Enough to Eat

Why I Picked It: Look at the cover - don't you want to read it?  The cover drew me in and the synopsis piqued my interest enough to say yes to the request in my inbox.

Synopsis: Former lawyer Melanie Hoffman lost half her body weight and opened a gourmet take-out café specializing in healthy and delicious food. Then her husband left her-for a woman twice her size. Immediately afterwards, she's blindsided by a financial crisis. Melanie reaches out to a quirky roommate with a ton of baggage and becomes involved in a budding romance with a local documentary filmmaker.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take:  Recommend - I really enjoyed this book and would pass this one along to a friend looking for something good to read.  I know a few people who have lost a considerable amount of weight and I thought the author did a great job describing the realities of weight loss and the new insecurities that replace the 'fat' ones.

Can you imagine someone leaving you because you decided to improve your overall health?  I can't begin to understand this situation but I'm sure this happens (remembering that the one left behind is not going through a life changing transformation).  The ending is really good to, a 'real life' type of ending.

Have you read it?  Did you like it?

Source: Review Copy

Review: Safe Haven

Why I picked it:  I had read just one book by Sparks until this year and am shocked to confess Safe Haven is the third Sparks novel for me in 2010.  I like to read the book before seeing the movie so last winter I read two Sparks novels back to back.  I really enjoyed The Last Song (the movie was good) and decided not to see Dear John after reading the book (I didn't love this book).

Synopsis: When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo's empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

Quick Take: This is not your typical Sparks novel.  It felt like I was reading a cross between Sleeping with the Enemy and Kindergarten Cop.  I enjoyed the book but it felt odd reading reading something with suspense from Sparks.  That said, who am I to say a writer can't try something different, expand your horizons.... 

That's about all I have to say for this book (didn't love it, didn't hate it).

Have you read it? 

Source: Review Copy

Review: The Life You've Imagined

Why I picked it: The cover drew me in and then when I clicked to Devourer of Books and saw she was hosting an online book discussion.  I enjoy getting to discuss books online (reading all the opinions).

Book Club Girl also interviewed the author, click here if you are interested in listening to the discussion

Synopsis: Have you ever asked yourself, "What if??" Here, four women face the decisions of their lifetimes in this stirring and unforgettable novel of love, loss, friendship, and family.

Anna Geneva, a Chicago attorney coping with the death of a cherished friend, returns to her "speck on the map" hometown of Haven to finally come to terms with her mother, the man she left behind, and the road she did not take.

Cami Drayton, Anna's dearest friend from high school, is coming home too, forced by circumstance to move in with her alcoholic father . . . and to confront a dark family secret.

Maeve, Anna's mother, never left Haven, firmly rooted there by her sadness over her abandonment by the husband she desperately loved and the hope that someday he will return to her.

And Amy Rickart—thin, beautiful, and striving for perfection—faces a future with the perfect man . . . but is haunted by the memory of what she used to be.
Type: Fiction

Quick Take: If I'm honest I need to tell you I struggled with this book.  It took me three weeks to finish, which made it hard for me to be invested in the story.  Part of the issue was that I couldn't find time to sit and read.  These women are so different as grown ups and having taken different paths after high school... I kept thinking the author was going to have them all be friends (which isn't true but distracted me).  I enjoyed Anna's storyline the most and I have a friend from my twenties who is very close to Amy so she seemed 'real' to me.

I have reconnected with friends from youth, only to find we don't have much in common.... facebook keeps us connected.  I don't say this to be hurtful, I'm just stating my experience. 

I enjoyed the writing and character development.  The male characters weren't strong but they kept the story moving forward for me. The ending is perfect (one of the better endings I've read in a while), it doesn't wrap up too much.  This would make for a good book club selection - a lot to talk about.

Have you read it?  Did you like it?

Source: Nook

Review: My name is Memory

Why I picked it: I picked up the hardcover from the library and traveled with this book to Boulder in July... I didn't read one page before the books due date.  When scanned new audio titles at the library a few weeks ago I was surrised to see this title available.

Synopsis: Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has "the memory", the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he's previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel's unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now "Lucy" in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together. A magical, suspenseful, heartbreaking story of true love, My Name is Memory proves the power and endurance of a union that was meant to be.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: Recommend - This is a wonderful, creative, loving story.  After visiting the authors website I found out that the movie rights have been urchased AND this is book one in a three part series.

Daniel's story starts over 1,000 years ago.  When he dies he comes enters the world again through birth in a new body.  We discover parts of history that have been forgotten and you will fall for this character.  He feels life will not be full until he can be with Sophia.

Sophie happens to be Lucy in her present life but she has strange dreams that lead her to Daniel.

I don't know what else to write about this book other than to say I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading the second book in the story - we are left hanging... I need to know what's going to happen!

Source: Audio (Library)

Review: I'd know you anywhere

Why I picked it: The simple reason, the cover.  I have been in a creepy book mood recently and i'd know you anywhere was the perfect choice to continue my 'dark' phase.

Synopsis: Eliza Benedict cherishes her peaceful, ordinary suburban life. But her tranquility is shattered when she receives a letter from the last person she ever expects to hear from: Walter Bowman. There was your photo, in a magazine. I'd know you anywhere.

In the summer of 1985, when she was fifteen, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter. He had killed at least one girl and Eliza always suspected he had other victims as well. Now on death row for the rape and murder of his final victim, Walter seems to be making a heartfelt act of contrition. Having wondered why Walter had let her live, she cautiously makes contact with him.

Yet as Walter presses her for more and deeper contact, it becomes clear that he is after something greater than forgiveness. He wants Eliza to remember what really happened that long-ago summer. He wants her to save his life. And Eliza, who has worked hard for her comfortable life, will do anything to protect it—even if it means finally facing the terrible truth she's kept buried inside.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: Highly Recommend - The author write a wonderful book, it's complicated, in a good way.  There are so many twists that you keep thinking, the story just keeps getting better.  Walters manipulating and creepy, Barbara is the stories connector and boy is she a game player and keeps you on your toes!  She's a piece of work!

This book wasn't too graphic for me, in fact there are no details of the events other than noting they happened.  This book is about today (20 years later) and how Walters actions impact several lives the last two months of his life. 

If I'm going to find something wrong with this book I might say it wraps up too neatly (which is the case with so many stories).

Source: iTunes (audio)

Review: Trust

Why I picked it: To be honest, I hadn't heard of this book until receiving a request for review.  I was intrigued by the synopsis and knew it would be a good book for me - and of course what secured the decision was knowing the author was from Australia.

Synopsis: Susanna Greenfield has given her all to being a good daughter, sister, wife, and mother. Somehow, she's maintained her profession as a college art teacher, as well as rearing two headstrong teenagers and nurturing a twenty-year marriage to Gerry, a confident, ambitious architect. She's also the eternal peacemaker between her pretty younger sister Angie, former junkie turned born-again Christian, and their strong- willed mother, Jean.

Just when Susanna is struggling to revive her creative career, a devastating accident rips apart the fabric of her world, exposing secrets which threaten to destroy both a marriage, and a life. Plumbing the rich emotional vocabulary of faith and betrayal, loyalty and forgiveness, Trust is the story of a woman's challenge to find her self.

Quick Take: Recommend - This would be a great book club selection.  This book is filled with deception in so many forms and covers just about every topic one could talk about (sex, lies, religion, work, life, balance, personal growth, and abuse to name a few).  I love reading books with reference to local lingo and spelling.  Let me know if you have read it, I would love to chat about this one.

The characters talk to themselves periodically, I loved this.  It wasn't too much, just enough to keep you engage (or chuckle from time to time).

I want to know what others think of the title, what does it mean/refer to? 

Source: Review Copy

Review: Still Missing

Why I picked it: I had been reading good things about this one, it's not my typically read but I was in the mood for a dark/creepy book.

Synopsis: On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two-year-old Realtor, had three goals: sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she’s about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent captive in a remote mountain cabin — which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist — is a second narrative recounting the nightmare that follows her escape: her struggle to piece her shattered life back together, the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor, and the disturbing sense that things are far from over.
 
Type: Fiction

Quick Take: Recommend - You will be hooked from the first page.  This novel is gripping and moves quickly.  I was attached to the character fairly quickly and listening to all that she survives...wow.  This is really a psychological thriller!  The second have moves a little slower but overall it's a really good book.  I liked Annie's personality, she's irritated with life and desires closure/acceptance while living every day with humilation and fright.

Have you read it?  What did you think? 

Updated Oct 4 - I found an online discussion of Still Missing today (click here to join the discussion with Tea Time with Marce):

Did you find the story believable? I was captivated and nervous while Annie was missing.  The author did a good job makeing me feel uncomfortable and wanting to know what would happen. We read stories more often about people kept captive and I could see this happening... I wouldn't want to be a realtor after reading this book.

What did you find unbelievable, if anything? To be honest... I didn't love the book after she was free, the story started to fall apart for me.  Maybe I just don't want to believe a Mother would do something so horrible.  I did like how angry Annie was throughout the book.

What is your opinion on the cop/victim relationship? I didn't buy into this relationship - I don't think this relationship could happen in real life (wouldn't it break some rules)? If I'm really honest... she is so damaged emotionally and physically that I don't understand how this would happen and so quickly after release.

Was “The Freak” believable? For the most part, yes.  I believed him as a character

Thanks Marce for hosting the discussion!

Source: iTunes Audio

Review: After You

Why I picked it: I read a review of After You which reminded me that I had a copy of my laptop (audio).  A perfect selection to keep me company while running.  Thanks Judith (Leeswammes Blog)

Synopsis: The complexities of a friendship. The unexplored doubts of a marriage. And the redemptive power of literature...Julie Buxbaum, the acclaimed author of The Opposite of Love, delivers a haunting, gloriously written novel about love, family, and the secrets we hide from each other and ourselves.

It happened on a tree-lined street in Notting Hill to a woman who seemed to have the perfect life. Ellie Lerner s best friend, Lucy, was murdered in front of her young daughter. And, as best friends do, Ellie dropped everything her marriage, her job, her life in the Boston suburbs to travel to London and pick up the pieces of Lucy s life. While Lucy s husband, Greg, copes with his grief by retreating into himself, eight-year-old Sophie has simply stopped speaking.

Desperate to help Sophie, Ellie turns to a book that gave her comfort as a child, The Secret Garden. As the two spend hours exploring the novel s winding...

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: Recommend - This is a great choice for me. I enjoy reading books that could 'mostly' happen, are well written and feel good when they end.  If you like Kristin Hannah, Emily Giffin, Jennie Shortridge... you will enjoy this book.

I wonder who the girl is on the cover.  Have you read this book?  Sophie wears glasses and has curly hair.  I know who I think it is...

Source: Library (audio)

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