Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Last Letter By Kathleen Shoop

This is a story about a mother and daughter’s relationship at the cross roads. Jeanie Arthur is dying of cancer and she wants her daughter’s forgiveness, not as much for herself but for her daughter, Katherine. Her daughter doesn't even want her dying mother in her home, let alone ready to forgive her. The Last Letter centers on Jeanie’s pioneer life and what brought about her daughter’s bitterness towards her. As the reader we are allowed to see (read) the whole story as it unfolds to understand a mother's plight. 

Jeanie finds herself and her family living in the Dakota Territory, after having lived the good life in Des Moines, Iowa. Her father and husband Frank and brought disgrace to their family and had lost the family fortune. She and Frank are running headlong into a new life…a life Frank has dreamt about. Jeanie having lived her entire life privilege is far from pleased about this new life. Between her discontentment, Frank’s laziness and facing the elements, life is more difficult than any of them could have imagined. 

I had anticipated The Last Letter would mostly be written in the form of letters, but instead numerous letters were discussed during the book and in the end Katherine finds the last letter she’d not read before and finally is able to make sense of the things she didn’t understand as a child. I had a hard time really getting into the beginning of the book. It’s very well written, but it took some time before the story really gets moving. On the flip side, after completing the book I gained a stronger appreciation for the beginning of the book and Jeanie’s dilemma and choices at the end of the book. I would add the last 100-150 pages moved very quickly where I didn’t want to stop reading. There were so many shocking discoveries at the end of the book, all twists and turns were very impressive.

I was disappointed with how little information we are given during Katherine’s adolescent years, it just felt as if the story ended too swiftly. Overall, I enjoyed the book. I found myself reflecting how lucky we are as women it today’s world. For so many years women had little to no rights and I think we sometimes take for granted.  I would recommend this book. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Fist Husband By Laura Dave

Annie Adams has spent her entire life moving around. It’s no surprise when she lands a job traveling the world writing a syndicated travel column. She is living with good looking long term boyfriend, Nick and their dog. Nick’s career as a film director is about to take off. They seem to have it all…or so Annie thought. Nick pulls the rug under her when he reveals he has reconnected with an old flame and needs to see where it leads. Reeling over his announcement, her best friend Jordan tells her to go have fun. He’ll be back! Feeling as if she has no idea how to be fun, Jordan tells her to be the opposite of herself…and she does exactly that.

Three months later, Annie is living in a small Massachusetts town married to Griffin. She took her friends advice all right. Suddenly, Annie is in a world she has never known. Her brother-in-law and his twin sons live with them, her new mother-in-law appears to wish Griffin had chosen his once upon a time long term girlfriend that oops Griffin forgot to mention how long they dated! Could their marriage really just be a rebound relationship for both of them?  Jordan thinks so and so does Nick who comes back to claim the women and the life he wants back.

All this sends Annie moving, the only thing that feels safe to her. She has to ask herself who is the man she is really meant to spend her life with.

The story itself was not all that different than other books I’ve read. But what this book has is the protagonist, Annie do some self exploring. She asked herself some tough questions and looked for real answers. She had a best friend giving her advice counter to what I would have said to her—something I can’t say I’ve seen a lot of. Usually the best friend acts as an agent of the readers, I found this completely refreshing! This is a book that has everything a good book should have and more.

I have heard fabulous things about Laura Dave. This was my first Laura Dave book, and it did not disappoint. This was such a great book and I know I’m going to be reading Laura Dave’s books from here on out. Not only am I going to recommend this book, but I’ll go one further and say if you can’t get your hands on a copy of this book read one of her others! This isn’t just a good book this is a good author.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

With Just One Click by Amanda Strong

The lives of three women are drastically changed after they decide to sign-up for the social networking site, Facebook. Amanda Strong explores the ‘what if’s’ most people have thought about as they enter the social networking world, but never succumb too. The lives of Chloe, Morgan and Brynn explore what happens when your past friend requests your present life.

Chloe, an up and coming movie reviewer in New York, surrenders to her roommate and good friend Bianca and finally creates a Facebook profile. Slowly gaining the all important friends and enjoying stalking their lives she receives the most shocking friend request. Kyle Woodward. Kyle, her first love, the teenage boy she gave her virginity to, the boy who broke her heart. To accept or decline was the question. Chloe accepts his friendship request and Kyle comes back into her life. Chloe opens those old wounds as the relationship goes from highs to lows.

Morgan, stay-at-home mom of two little sweethearts enjoys posting with the instant feedback of friends and ability to post pictures of her family on Facebook. She convinces her husband to sign-up for Facebook too. After he does, his ex-girlfriend Julie makes her way onto his friend list and she just loves to post semi-suggestive comments. When Morgan presses her husband to delete her, he doesn’t and red flags are raised. She finds herself stalking him and hacking into his account causing him to defriend his own wife.

Brynn is also a stay-at-home mom. Her kids are in high school and no longer need her as much and the distance between her and her husband seems to be growing. After finding Facebook, she gets a friend request from her bad boy ex-boyfriend from high school. Slowly little comments, turn into online chats, until ex-boyfriend Timothy asks her to meet him for coffee. He’s been nothing but a respectful and supportive friend as she tries to decide what’s next. She begins relying on his online semi-real friendship more than her real life friends.

To know me is to know I love Facebook. Strongs’ exploration of taking the Facebook what if’s and really allowing those stories to be explored, was fascinating to me. The three stories are separate (or are they). I was completely engrossed. I enjoyed reading each of these women’s’ stories.

I felt Chloe’s story was slightly predictable, but suddenly as the book was drawing to a close I was no longer sure it would end the way I wanted it too. I related mostly to Morgan. I could see myself becoming the crazed stalker wife and my husband would respond similarly to her’s. Now I had a hard time relating to Brynn. I actually am very careful, not to look backwards. I kept waiting for her to realize she was headed for trouble. I believe the combination of the three stories together showed how easily and innocently Facebook or any social networking site can, without a doubt change everything about your real life with just one click. 

I loved this book. It was funny, witty, and touching. I didn’t want to put this book down. I thought the ending was perfect. I am a fan of Amanda Strong and I highly recommend her book.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Beach Trees and the Meaning of Home

When Julie Holt was only twelve years old the unimaginable happens. While watching her younger sister, her sister disappears without a trace. Karen White examines the after effects of tragedy with her protagonist Julie. After her sister’s disappearance her mother devotes her life to finding her, while her father and brother move on. When her mother dies Julie takes over where her mother left off… never allowing herself to feel rooted in one place, because she knows everything can change in a heartbeat. To read the rest of this review follow this link over to Blogher.com http://www.blogher.com/bookclub/beach-trees-karen-white-0?from=bookclub
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