Genre: Fiction

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Secrets Revealed in The Admissions

September 7, 2015 Book Review 5

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Secrets Revealed in The AdmissionsThe Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore
Published by Doubleday on August 18th 2015
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads

 

The Admissions reveals the inner-workings of an upscale family living in a prized suburb of San Francisco.  Seventeen year old Angela is the beloved first-born to Nora and Gabe.  She’s been groomed since the age of two for a college career at Harvard.  When the story begins Angela has just begun her senior year of high school.  She is the anticipated valedictorian, runs competitive cross-country, participates in a myriad of extra-curricular activities and is getting her college application ready to submit.  Ten year old Cecily is a talented Irish dance competitor and the peacemaker of the family.  Eight year old Maya is in second grade, but she still cannot read, much to her family’s chagrin.

With each chapter focusing on a different character, The Admissions slowly builds to a denouement that leaves no one in the family unscathed.  Thoroughly enjoyable, shocking on some accounts ~ did you know that some high school students and their parents hire summer overseers to plan the best use of the student’s summer? To the point of recommending a student bypass family vacation so he or she can squeeze in one more activity that will look good on college applications?

Although I’m a huge fan of long books, this one came in at only 320 pages but felt longish.  Normally the longer the better, but in this case, I wanted to know what happened to the family.  The introduction is shocking and left me anxious to discover what happened, but it took about 3/4 of the novel to get to the point where I learned the outcome.  So, while not necessarily a bad thing, I kept getting impatient.  BUT I resisted reading the ending first.  I sure wanted to though!

One side note that I very much loved about The Admissions ~ Angela is in an AP Honors Lit class and is constantly using SAT words to replace cliched phrases and average words.  I learned a few new words just reading The Admissions; words like piquantengagingly provocative; indefatigableincapable of being fatigued; ignominydeep, personal humiliation and disgrace. {definitions from Merriam-Webster}

[Tweet “College admissions + family drama + long-held secrets = humorous, provocative novel”]

Recommended for readers who enjoyed Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford or Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple or warm, humorous, modern-day family dramas.  The Admissions will have you looking at your own family problems in a whole new way.   It will also have you reminding family members that the fall out from any secret kept is much worse than the fallout from admitting something up front.  The takeaways from this novel are spot on!  I know I was thankful to a. not live in an upscale suburb of San Francisco, b. not be a teenager ever. ever. again. and c. that all families have problems, just different ones.

Learn more about the author at MegMitchellMoore.com.

The Admissions is included in the She Reads “Books of Fall.”  Visit SheReads.org to read what other bloggers are saying.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me a copy to review.

 

 

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Book Review: The Ambassador’s Wife

August 6, 2015 Book Review 3

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: The Ambassador’s WifeThe Ambassador's Wife: A Novel by Jennifer Steil
Published by Doubleday on July 28th 2015
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 400
Source: complimentary review copy
Goodreads

 

I am such a champion for this book.  It has everything ~ a brutal kidnapping, a mother’s love, real-life marriage, female friendships, history, art and education on Muslim women.  What I so very much enjoyed is that the women portrayed, yes, are repressed by the male dominant society, but they also have beautiful friendships and happiness that is so difficult for us to see in our American culture.

I could not get enough of this book.  I’ve read some reviews that the book dragged in places and seemed too long, but for me, this was one of those books that could have continued on and on and on and I would have been quite content.

Miranda is an artist living in the fictional Mazrooq when she meets Finn, the EU Ambassador.  They fall in love, marry and have a child, Cressie.  Miranda’s very independent life changes dramatically when they marry.  And, Miranda keeps secrets from Finn that have devastating consequences.

Such a beautiful novel filled to the brim with action, reactions and consequences.  It’s a story about marriage and survival, secrets and revelations, love & friendship in all its forms ~ agápe, Éros, philia and familial.  One word of caution ~ there are references to bisexualism but those are dealt with in a matter of fact, yet light, touch. Highly recommended for those who enjoy Chris Bohjalian or Ann Patchett.

Learn more about Jennifer Steil Website | Facebook | Twitter

[Tweet “Captivating, thrilling must-read novel by real-life ambassador’s wife @jfsteil7”]

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Book Review: Ana of California

July 24, 2015 Book Review 7

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Ana of CaliforniaAna of California by Andi Teran
Published by Penguin Books on June 30th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads

The re-telling of the timeless classic Anne of Green Gables, Ana of California is a lovely tribute to the L.M. Montgomery series.

Fifteen year old Ana Cortez is on her very last option for foster care.  She’s been to a group home and multiple foster homes since entering “the system” at age 7.  Ana has a fierce protective spirit of others who are being mistreated and she is both unable and unwilling to keep injustices to herself.

I was impressed with Teran’s creation of Ana.  She was both a bit of Anne but a whole lot of Ana {like fauna not banana}.  Ana is street-wise yet also still a child in need of adult love and protection.  She’s older than Anne Shirley and of a diverse background {as is her best friend, Rye}.  The Northern California town plays a distinct role while the supporting cast of characters are refreshingly their own persons. While Ana could be a much more tragic figure than Anne Shirley there is a lightness to the novel.  Yes, Ana’s circumstances are horrific.  Yes, the brother and sister duo have pain and grief of their own.  What Teran succeeds at most is telling their stories without any one character succumbing to the weight of the world.

Words of Wisdom from Ana

You know when we were leaving and Alder said he thought bees were really angels on earth?….Maybe they have stingers for that very purpose.  To give life, take it, and also to maybe keep the rest of us from realizing how good they can be.  And maybe when we see one, away from any others, nowhere near a hive, maybe it’s there to remind us that goodness in disguise is always buzzing around in the periphery. {p. 136}

Sent to the organic farm as a very last resort Ana brings as much to the brother and sister owners as they share with her.  Truly a sweet novel for fans of Anne of Green Gables. Lighthearted, hope-full and a lovely summer read.  Grab some fresh strawberries and cream, hot tea and a porch swing then sit awhile and enjoy Ana’s story.

Penguin has created a free book club kit resource full of recipes, additional reading and even a Spotify playlist.

Are you a fan of re-tellings or do you avoid them at all costs?

Congratulations to Katherine of Story Matters for winning the Classic + A Re-Telling Giveaway.  Hope you enjoy!

 

 

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Book Review: A Week at the Lake

July 7, 2015 Book Review 7

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: A Week at the LakeA Week at the Lake by Wendy Wax
Published by Berkley Books, Penguin on June 23rd, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction
Pages: 432
Source: complimentary review copy
Goodreads

 

Y’all know the only book I was able to read while on family vacation was Wendy Wax’s A Week at the Lake from this tongue-in-cheek confession.  The book came back from the beach a bit water-logged, though not quite as soaked as the book my daughter was reading.  She left a borrowed paperback in her beach chair. . .that was on the edge of the water. . .and a wave crashed ~ a large wave. . .you get the picture, right?  Her version includes something about me sitting in the chair next to hers. . .My defense? I bet you can guess ~ I was reading!

Long-time friends Emily, Mackenzie and Serena are to meet up at Emily’s lake house after a 5-year absence.  Since their college days they had an annual vacation tradition at Emily’s Grandmother’s historic Millionaires’ Row home on Lake George.  Emily is from a long line of actors.  She became favorite media gossip when, as a teenager, she divorced her famous parents.  Gifted clothing designer, Mackenzie, married her college sweetheart, but after 20 years of marriage, they seem to have hit a rough patch.  Serena is the famous sultry voice behind a popular animated television series {along the lines of the “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons”}.  Serena is a popular media darling as well with her long line of affairs.  The women have each suffered from their lack of connection for five years.

Favorite quote

Serena’s therapist tells her, “If you’re going to expend time and energy imagining scenarios, you really need to allow for the positive.”  Now that feels like great advice for anyone!

[Tweet “If you’re going to expend time & energy imagining scenarios, allow for the positive @wendy_wax “]

My thoughts

Set in New York City and Lake George, A Week at the Lake is a departure for Wax.  Most of her novels have been set in the south and evoke the particular landscape and feel of the South.  The descriptions of the old lake ‘house’ from Millionaires’ Row were breathtaking.  I was able to visualize the lake house.  Older homes and description is definitely Wendy Wax’s strong point.

Early on, I figured out what happened to distance the women, and why they went five years without communicating.  I can understand how time gets away from us all and we lose touch with friends, but it was clear that such was not the case for Emily, Mackenzie and Serena. My issue with A Week at the Lake is that I could not relate to any of the women nor their situations in the novel. My expectations based on the cover and the title had me thinking A Week at the Lake would be a perfect beach read.  I know, I know “never judge a book by its cover!”  The build-up to the reveal of why the five year distance lasted almost the entire novel ~ revealing the secret earlier along with the aftermath would probably have kept me better engaged.  Unfortunately, this one is a miss for me.  

Will I give Wendy Wax another try? Absolutely!  Her Ten Beach Road series is laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming and engaging.

How is your summer reading coming along? Any stand-outs?

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Book Review: Let Me Die in His Footsteps

June 16, 2015 Book Review 6

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Let Me Die in His FootstepsLet Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Published by Dutton on June 2nd, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Southern
Pages: 336
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

There’s an old wives tale/superstition that if a young girl looks down a well she will see the face of her future husband.  In a 1952 small Kentucky town, that belief is taken to extremes.  At exactly midnight, on the half-birthday between a girl’s 15th and 16th year, each girl in this small town looks down a well while most of the town looks on.  It is a celebratory event and one greatly anticipated by most girls.  For Annie Holleran, the half-birthday she expected and what actually occurred are vastly different.  Annie has the “know-how” just like her grandmother and her real mother, Aunt Juna.  Annie lives in fear her real mother will return after disappearing 15 1/2 years prior and after accusing the oldest Baine boy of raping her, fathering the baby that became Annie, and of disappearing Juna’s younger brother.

With the passages devoted to tobacco farming and lavender harvesting, Let Me Die in His Footsteps is infused with atmosphere.  Strong on southern gothic elements as evidenced with Aunt Juna’s “evil” black eye color.   The writing is solid; Roy has infused the novel with enough melancholy to allow the reader to feel immersed in the story while the mystery kept me guessing til the end.

What ‘old wives tales’ or superstitions did you hear growing up? or even still use to this day?

Thank you so much TLC Book Tours for inclusion in the Let Me Die in His Footsteps tour.

To read additional reviews please visit TLC Book Tours.

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