Review – What Was She Thinking? By Zoe Heller.

13258You know you have a talented author when she/he manages to portray two characters, one a seemingly nice, practical and helpful, the other, flighty, a bit naive, and a sex offender, with the former actually coming off in a worse light! Zoe Heller is one of these authors.

Now, I had actually seen the movie adaptation of this book (Notes on a Scandal, starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench) before I read the book, so I kind of knew what I was getting into. This is actually one of those rare occasions when I thought the movie was on equal, if not better, footing with the book! Even though I knew how the story played out, it was still very unsettling to read it.

The basic premise follows Sheba Hart, a new teacher at a tough city school. Sheba meets Barbara, a colleague of hers, and they begin a close friendship. However, Sheba has a secret, and with Barbara desperate for a new close friend, will she manipulate this secret and woman in order to get what she wants? Of course there is way more to this story line, but saying much more will spoil it for some readers.

This book is really a story about human flaws and how easy we can fall into certain traps; the frailty of our desires, be they physical or emotional, is explored extensively throughout the book. What we might judge as immoral, soon gets turned on its head with a different perspective and we are left wondering what is indeed wrong and right. Heller does a brilliant job with these characters – both are believable, multi-faceted and act as a great sound board for each other, and indeed the reader.

If you want to read a book that will question what you feel about people, society, and yourself, then I highly recommend this book. It will engage you, leave you feeling repulsed, fascinated, confused, and frustrated.

Notes on a Scandal: What Was She Thinking?: A Novel
Pegasus.

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Review: Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah

  

So Kristin Hannah is a pretty popular author, but I’m not really one for making a reading list based on popularity only.  I chose to pick up this book next because I fondly remembered Firefly Lane, also by Hannah.  And because the title of this one referenced sisters. I’m a sister, and I have a sister… I love sisters! 

Okay except these sisters don’t even get along AT ALL. They’re on different pages, in different ballparks, on different wavelengths. But Meghan keeps trying to make things better with Claire. And it’s the effort that makes all the difference.  

The sisters’ relationship developed so nicely throughout the book. Hannah had the women change and grow together, letting the women maintain their quirks and disagreements and strengths and weaknesses. For example, by the end of the book, we see Meghan is still bossy, but she leads with love. 

I loved seeing the sisters love each other – really put each others’ needs first. I also enjoyed the sisters’ attempts at communicating with their mother. But it wasn’t all smiles –  I cried my eyes out at times… Forewarned is forearmed: get some tissues. 

The romance angle was unexpected, I’ve got to say. The choice of love interests surprised me, not just for their uncommonness, but also because I didn’t see how they would fit with Meghan and Claire. But Hannah made it work and eked out a happily every after, so I’m happy. 🙂 

-calliope 

Buy BETWEEN SISTERS  

Review: Hold Me by Susan Mallery

Hold Me is released today!

Random Book Muses

Talk about character development! You’ve got Kipling Gilmore as a secondary character in previous Fool’s Gold books, and though he was always okay, I never felt the need to know him better. In Hold Me, Mallery highlights Kipling’s intuitiveness, protectiveness and good will toward his community.

Destiny Mills’ character drives forward the plot as she changes from living a superficial life with defensive walls up, to a woman who embraces and rejoices in the challenges and blessings that befall her. Destiny gets in touch with her inner musician, and subsequently thrives. 🙂

I loved Destiny’s relationship with her sister and the other women of Fool’s Gold. But I also had a lot of fun reading the male bonding scenes. Mallery put an authentic voice to husbands and brothers who want to appear macho while staying out of the proverbial doghouse.

Well done, as always, and I can’t wait for the…

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Review: Rogue by Julie Kagawa

01 rogue Another perfect young adult book, filled with action and adventure, and plenty of sweet romance and fantasy to keep me happy.

SYNOPSIS
Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.

Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.

A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?

I love Cobalt. I do. Ember was driving me a little nuts, but she is 16 yrs old, so I need to cut her emotional behavior some slack. She is still torn between the soldier and the dragon. My inner teenager was very happy with this. I love that we saw a bit of his back story. It makes me wish for very bad things for Talon.

Ember has chosen to be a Rogue, but Talon won’t let her go so easily. They pull out all the stops and will stop at nothing to get her back, dead or alive.

Cobalt has lived as a rogue for some time now, but his safe houses are being targeted. So he must find out who’s behind all of this. I’m a bit fearful, that once this is discovered, I will not be with the outcome. But I hope I’m wrong. Again, I say, I LOVED Cobalt. He knows who and what he wants, and he will do everything he can to get it and defend it. I’m pulling for him.

Garret made his decision and now he must pay for it. St. George won’t let him just walk away. So no matter what, he’s on his own. I kinda fell for him, too. But he’s human, which means he’s bad for the dragons. Tough break for him.

I did enjoy the many points of view we had. It was nice to be in everyone’s head. But sometimes the heartache made me sad. But these people chose their paths and now they must defend their actions, no matter if it takes their life.

~Melpomene

Buy Rogue (The Talon Saga Book 2)

Get caught up with Talon (The Talon Saga Book 1) first.

Review: The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

51VTun6jFsL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_One of the very first books I read on my Kindle was After the Leaves Fall by Nicole Baart. It was such a beautiful, lyrical story that it sticks with me to this very day. As do the sequels as well as others written by Baart. So it was with great excitement that I began her newest book.

Adri and Harper were the best of friends. Along with a few select others, they did everything together. Their futures looked bright, and they had their whole lives ahead of them. But then tragedy struck, and their close-knit group of five was reduced to four. Driven apart by equal parts grief and guilt, they all went in separate directions.

Now they’ve been brought back together as Adri comes home to help settle the estate of a family friend. But it’s impossible to pick up where they’ve left off. Too many changes have happened, and too many secrets from the past remain just below the surface.

This is a book that was compelling and intriguing from the very beginning. You just know that there’s more to the story than what you’re getting, and you gladly go along for the ride. The author is such a skillful storyteller that you’re pulled into the story immediately. The characters are likable, and the story is entirely believable. A great read!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Beautiful Daughters: A Novel

Review: One Year by Mary McDonough 

 One Year. Basically a description of one year of events and growth in the Fitzgibbons clan. 

I’m not going to sugar coat it. This book was terrible. I felt like I was reading a lengthy self-help book, with Mary Bernadette Fitzgibbons’ pride being the principle of the lesson. 

Though I wanted to stop, I kept reading the between-the-lines psychological diatribe on what happens when you try to be perfect/ don’t let anyone in/ assume a prideful posture/ try to control everyone and everything around you. Frankly, it felt patronizing. And even if I didn’t have such an emotional response to the story, objectively I can tell you that reading One Year was tedious. I felt like the author wanted to make a point so she beat it to a pulp, chapter after chapter. 

I liked the subplots, and I liked the characters, but the main thread of Mary Bernadette changing her ways was contrived and unappealing. 

A better use of your time: my most recent favorite read, The Happy Hour Choir by Sally Fitzpatrick (because THAT is how you write a book that shows positive character change and growth). 

-calliope

Review: Asa by Jay Crownover

01 asaPerfect ending to a perfect series. Marked men, inside and out, but they found women who loved them and their marks. Each of them got their happily ever afters, and this book was no exception.

SYNOPSIS
Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

Asa was most definitely not the good guy. He was trouble when we first met him, but I knew he was destined to find that perfect girl to keep him out of trouble, as long as that was what he wanted. This sweet talking southern charmer could get any women he wanted, and in this case, the woman he wanted he shouldn’t.

The most ironic part of Asa’s story is that he fell for a cop. Royal didn’t look like your typical cop, but she was the unlucky one to arrest him a few books ago and they’ve been dancing around each other ever since. I find it so funny that he was drawn to her. Night and day. Dark and light. Good and bad. But they say opposites attract, and in this case, they were right.

“I don’t know why you’re here, but I feel like I need to thank any God that might exist that you are.”

While it’s bittersweet saying goodbye to such fabulous characters, I know we’ll catch a glimpse of them every now and then.

~Melpomene

Buy Asa: A Marked Men Novel