Book Review: The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry

My Review:

Before I started reading this amazing book, I had just watched a documentary on Urban Cowboy, a movie that I absolutely loved!  So, as I read this book, I kept replaying the theme song for Urban Cowboy in my head: Looking for Love by Johnny Lee. While they are very different characters (Bud/Sissy and Hunter/Ella), something about sweet romance just makes me smile!

This book was just spectacular.  I honestly didn’t think I would love it as much as I did, but I fell in love right alongside them and loved everything about this bubble gum, cotton candy, and everything sugary novel.  It’s perfect for those times you just need an escape from your reality, a novel that deals with sadness, anger, denial, but still has you smiling long after you’ve read the last page.  It’s the kind of novel that you will want to re-read the last chapter, just to smile and cheer again.

Was it predictable? A little bit.  Was it unrealistic? Maybe.  Was it sappy? Mostly.  BUT….it’s soooo worth it and to not have any of that would mean losing the magic this book brings.  It gives a new meaning to second chances, falling in love at a later stage in life, and made me wish for a sequel!! Yes, I want to know what happens after the acknowledgements are written, the goodbyes are given, and the lights are turned off.  I want more!  This was definitely an awesome book and after you read it, listen to all those awesome 80’s and 90’s love songs, just to reminisce and wonder….what would have happened had you had a second chance at love???

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley for review consideration.

copyright 2015

simple signature best

Short Stack Reviews

A huge thank-you to the publishers, authors, tour hosts, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review the books below.  As always, I use Goodreads to include the synopsis, which you can read by clicking the link below each novel.

Click here for synopsis.

Review:

This is a very in-depth look into parenting styles and its impact on their relationship with their children and the way children blossom into adults.  While this book is geared to all populations, it reads more like an academic book, that would be suitable for a classroom discussion.  Because of this, it may be difficult for parents to dissect the information without someone to process this with.  An overall good perspective that highlights ways to raise productive children into adults.

good cupcake 3

************************

Click here to read synopsis.

Review:

This book was super creepy!!  Who knew I’d be so scared of a little girl, who turns out she is more than what she seems.  The story is a mixture of The Amiytiville Horror movie and The Sixth Sense, but super demonic…that I didn’t realize until the very end.  Perhaps, if I have known, I would have not read it.  It reminded me of the saying, “the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children”, by William Shakespeare.  Wow…this book reflects that!  The ending wasn’t as strong as I would have liked, with interpretation left to the reader, however the story kept me engaged. Caution: if you do not like scary books, demonic type books, books with loose ends, then this book is not for you!

good cupcake 3 **********************

Click here for synopsis.

Review:

How can I review a book that is based on fact and on the viewpoint of one amazing author? I can’t.  Kathryn Craft is not only an amazing mother, gift writer, but she is a survivor.  As I read this book, I kept having to remind myself that this was in many ways a “non-fiction” novel, written in “fiction”, as some scenarios and names were changed.  This book will certainly raise lots of questions about the importance of mental health care, family loyalty (Ronnie’s mom is best friends with her mom), the police and the way they handled the situation, and the children…oh, my heart broke for them!  It was a gripping story that is definitely one that is far from a happy one, but one that is worth being read.

great cupcake rating 4

copyright 2015

simple signature best

TLC Book Review & Giveaway: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

Book Details:

Title: The Mapmaker’s Children
Author: Sarah McCoy
Publisher: Crown
Publication date: May 5, 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Historical fiction
Synopsis:

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.
Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

My Review:

From the very first page, I was hooked. I read a little over 100 pages the first night and didn’t sleep until I finished it, on the second night. Yes, it’s that amazing!

The story alternates between past and present, shedding light on Sarah Brown (a young woman during the UGRR movement) and Eden ( a young woman married with some scars of her own).  Eventually, their stories intersect and show how much the past can shape the future, while also bringing closure and peace to the past.

Sarah is the daughter of abolitionist, John Brown, and uses her talent of artistry to help with the UGRR movement.  Eden finds a porcelain head with unusual drawings, a key, and a button that place that doll in the time frame of when Sarah was visiting the Hill family and helping them with those trying to flee the South.  Sarah is a strong woman, who is extremely courageous and intelligent.  She becomes even more vigilant to help the UGRR after her father is caught and hung for his “crimes”.  It was interesting to learn the ways people communicated back then and the code words they had to use to share news.  Time was a factor, too, so that messages had to be changed and revised often.  There were many times that I felt that I couldn’t read fast enough, as I was eager to know what was happening next in Sarah’s life and those of her loved ones.

Eden is a woman, who is married and feels she has reached the end of the road in her marriage.  After her last miscarriage, Eden’s husband gets her a dog, named CricKet.  Worried she won’t bond with the dog, Eden’s husband hires a little girl to take care of the dog.  Cleo is a young, vibrant, spunky, and super charming little girl.  She helps Eden adjust to the new town, helps with the baking of some CricKet BisKits, and teaches her some valuable lessons along the way.

This book is so much more than just another story about slavery and the crusade that the Brown and Hill family fought.  It’s about forgiveness, finding the silver lining, friendships, lost loves, and new beginnings.  Many have heard of John Brown, but not many know about his daughter, Sarah Brown, and the courage she had to continue his work.  John Brown’s death didn’t stop the family and others from pushing forward.  Sarah is strong, courageous, and goes against tradition and expectations for women of that time period.  Through her artistry, she is determined to finish her father’s work and be part of the fabric of change.

Sarah McCoy flawlessly brings these two very separate and individual women together, showing how the past helps the future and how history can help mend relationships, too.  Most importantly, this novel shows two brave women, who are not defined by their pain and struggles, rather, they use it as a catalyst to do something greater and bigger than even they imagine.  While Sarah works at saving her family and friends, Eden’s challenge is learning to trust people to join her inner circle of friends and family, too.

I loved the historical nuggets that Sarah McCoy includes in novel, along with some pictures.  I am so glad she chose to write their story, as these women certainly had a lot to share!  Sarah even shares the recipes to CricKet BisKits, which plays a big part in how everyone comes together and builds relationships with each other.  Those who love historical fiction will love this book! It also makes for a great book club pick because the discussions will be endless!  Overall, this is a book that I didn’t want to end! I know this is a book that will be discussed for many years to come and will be appreciated by those who love a great story about heroines, who were at one time forgotten.

P.S. As a fan of the tv show,” Shark Tank”, I laughed when I read Cleo’s suggestion!  You will just have to read the book to know what I’m talking about.

supreme cupcake rating 6    *This book was provided by TLC Book Tours for review consideration.

SARAH McCOY is the  New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Ricoand The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.

Sarah McCoy’s Book Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, April 21st: Savvy Verse & Wit

Wednesday, April 22nd: My Book Retreat

Thursday, April 23rd: BookNAround

Monday, April 27th: Man of La Book

Tuesday, April 28th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 29th: Always With a Book

Thursday, April 30th: Booksie’s Blog

Monday, May 4th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Tuesday, May 5th: Books on the Table

Wednesday, May 6th: West Metro Mommy

Thursday, May 7th: Bibliotica

Friday, May 8th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, May 11th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 12th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, May 13th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, May 14th: FictionZeal

Friday, May 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, May 18th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, May 19th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, May 25th: Diary of an Eccentric

Tuesday, May 26th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 27th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, May 28th: Reading Reality

Friday, May 29th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, June 1st: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, June 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, June 3rd: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, June 4th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, June 9th: The Book Bag

Wednesday, June 10th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, June 11th: Literary Feline

Friday, June 12th: Broken Teepee

Monday, June 15th: Staircase Wit

Tuesday, June 16th: Kahakai Kitchen

TBD: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

TBD: Readers’ Oasis

Giveaway

Fill out the entry form.

One winner will receive a copy of the book.  It’s open to US and Canada.

Giveaway ends June 12, 2015.

Book Review: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

My Review:

I honestly had no idea that I would love this book as much I did!  I was most hesitant about reading the book because of the comparisons to the movies, “Sliding Doors” and “P.S. I Love You”.  I figured-it’s been done already, why read another one…

Well, I am so glad I opened the book up and started reading it.  Within the first few chapters, I was hooked! I was in complete sync with Kate.  As she goes to the dinner party, where she will be proposed to, I was kind of “bleh”.  I found myself wanting to know more about Kate and her late husband and not wanting to leave the dream sequence, either!  Then, as Kate evolves and learns more about her past and how it connects with her future, I didn’t miss the dream sequences as much either.

This is a beautiful story of second chances at love, listening to your intuition, and believing that there is always a plan for a new future—even when it seems like all hope is lost. It’s a story that I kept thinking about, long after the last page and is definitely a favorite of mine for 2015!

excellent cupcake 5

* A copy of the book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion.

Book Review: The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

My Review:

I read this book in 2 days! The storyline kept me guessing about who was behind some nasty emails and if the “third wife”, Maya, had a mental illness or if she was pressured to be jump in front of an oncoming bus.  The storyline focuses more on Adrian, the husband left behind, and his reflection on his marriages and the relationships he has with his children.

While there is some speculation about Maya, the story doesn’t dive too far into the real reasons for her death and what could have prevented it.  Adrian is the primary focus and it’s his interpretation of how quickly his life unraveled, beginning with his first marriage. While the women are rather compliant and work together, for the sake of the children, it isn’t until Maya’s death that Adrian realizes his selfishness and self-centeredness impacted the family much deeper than originally thought.

The storyline moves quick, a little to quick at the end for any true resolution to have happened and the impact of Maya’s death on his children.  It almost seemed as if Adrian wanted to own the issues, as a gift to his children, without giving any justice or voice to Maya.  It’s a book that will certainly create discussion amongst book clubs and also cause one to think about how everything someone does has a direct impact on someone else.  great cupcake rating 4*This book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No forms of compensation were given.

 

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My Review:

I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I first experienced her writings last year and I haven’t stopped.  I absolutely loved Eleanor and Park and read Landline, which I also enjoyed.  It made perfect sense for me to read Fangirl, too!  Especially since I had already purchased a tote from fellow blogger and Etsy owner, I knew it was time to pull out this book to read!

First of all, I had no idea the amount of fanfiction that is out there!  While I love reading spin-offs of Jane Austen’s work, I had no idea that there is this underground world (so to speak), with writings available on the internet that are not even published!  It’s pretty intense, exciting, and I have a lot of reading…especially because of my infinite love of Twilight!

This story has a bit of fanfiction within it.  Cath(er) is writing her version of a perfect ending of the Simon Snow series.  I blame it on my eyes, but I seriously didn’t know that the cover is of two guys dreamingly looking into each other’s eyes.  Otherwise, I may not have even read the book.  Because I don’t read books with gay romance, I was a little uncomfortable but knew the premise of the story was primarily about Cath and her sister, and how they both adjust to college life.  Honestly, what Cath writes about didn’t come across as a love story between Simon and Baz.  I know Cath feels they are both are in love with one another and that is where she wants to take her story.  However, I saw them more as brothers, who really had no one else to depend on.  I just didn’t feel the romance or magic that oozes between Cath and Levi.

Being a mom of a freshman in college, this novel was a little bit close to home.  Although I am married and have a wonderful husband and children at home, I could completely relate to that feeling of sadness and loss of self that Cath and Wren’s dad experiences.  Granted, he does have other issues, with one being a mental illness-but any college parent can relate to what he experiences when not one, but both children leave for college.

I love the realistic college campus life that Rainbow Rowell describes.  It was also great to see how different Cath and Wren (identical twins) adjust differently to campus life. I loved that it showed how hard it can be to make friends, going to class and dealing with being the “fish”, and trying to balance home and college life.  While both Cath and Wren have their own issues to contend with, in the end, they both realize what is most important is what they had all along: each other.  They will be pulled apart, fight, but in the end, they will come together and tackle some tough issues along the way.

As a mom, I was freaking out about premarital sex, the accessibility to drugs and alcohol, isolation, and making friends.  However, if I look back on when I went to college, I can completely relate and understand the pressures a college student has and the journey to self discovery.  It’s a great novel that I enjoyed reading!

excellent cupcake 5

copyright 2015simple signature best

 

 

She Reads Spring Book Review: The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

My Review:

There are books that make for a great book club discussion, or are just a great read.  Then, there are those that are great reads, great book club discussion reads, AND will push your buttons all at once.  This was one of them.

Naomi is a 15 year old, who goes missing, and a nationwide search begins.  With the story alternating between present and past chapters, it keeps will keep the reader guessing what happens.  At the end, both past and present meet, with a shocking ending.  I was even more freaked out when I read the last chapter- that has maybe 3 sentences!  No afterward, no epilogue, not even book club discussion questions that would hint at what the ending implies.  So, this is the kind of the book that you will have to process with someone else that has read the book!

Jenny is a successful doctor, her husband is a surgeon, and they both have one daughter (Naomi) and 2 teenage sons (twins).  The story is told through Jenny’s point of view, so we never know what Naomi was thinking about or what really happened.  It’s more speculation on Jenny’s part and the reader has to guess, too.

With Naomi gone, Jenny reflects on the time leading up to Naomi’s disappearance and her family.  The story raises interesting questions: Can a woman have it all? Can she have a career and a family? Can she be fulfilled in her marriage and still have a successful practice?  Can she balance work and children? Can someone truly separate work from home, and not let the issues bleed into another?  It is so sad that Jenny has to contend with those questions and internal struggles, whereas her husband simply places blame on her for his choices, and one of her sons does, too.

Both of Jenny’s sons and husband have their own issues to contend with, as well as having guilt over what happened to Naomi.  However, it isn’t fully explored because this story is more about Jenny picking up the pieces and looking back at the past to find clues that she may have overlooked.  Jenny realizes she wasn’t as available to her children as she thought, and that everyone has their own secrets that might split the family apart.  Before Naomi’s disappearance, Jenny had this idea of what her family looks like.  It’s only after the disappearance that she realizes there were signs all along, she just chose to not address them at that moment.  We all know that even closets have to get cleaned out, skeletons and all.  Jenny does that, but will it be too late for her family?

Readers will find out if Jenny is able to change the course of direction her family is on and the consequences of some of her decisions (at work and home).  While Naomi does go missing and the story centers around finding her, the story is really about Jenny: a wife, mom, and career woman, whose choices impact those around her.  Naomi missing does highlight the cracks in the foundation of the family, which looks perfect on the outside, but is quite fragmented and detached.   However, there is hope, acceptance, and love that runs much deeper than anything or anyone can try to break apart.

In the end, it is awesome that Jenny sees her family for who they are and lets them know that she sees them, loves them, and is there for them.  It’s a such a great story that is beautiful and heartbreaking.

excellent cupcake 5*Thank you to She Reads and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book, in exchange for an honest review.

copyright 2015simple signature best

Short Stack Reviews & Book Giveaway!

SHORT STACK REVIEWS

While I haven’t been blogging a much, I have been reading.  Although, not as fast as I would like, I’m still a bibliophile and love to share good reads with you! Don’t forget to click on each book title to read the synopsis and add them to your TBR list!

My Review:

The storyline has a great premise: sisters on different paths come back together for one summer that will surely change their life courses.  The story moves rather quickly in the beginning, so that it was hard to feel a connection or compassion for Paul, who wants a divorce from Iris.  However, the story really focuses on unfinished business with sisters, family, and lost loves.  It’s a simple read, a little predictable, but a good storyline that will keep you engaged.

good cupcake 3

swirl

My Review:

This is a book that had been on my TBR list since its release.   When I saw it at the library on audio, I immediately checked it out and downloaded it to my iPhone so that I could listen to on a road trip.  Well, that didn’t turn out well.  You can read why here

I’m really glad that I decided to buy the book and read it on my reader.  First, the audio did skip, so I wasn’t listening to the story in the order of the chapters.  Secondly, there is too much information and the characters are complex that it would have been difficult for me to listen and understand their role within the story.  Thirdly, there were many times I would reread a quote or a page, and that would have been too difficult and not realistic to do with an audio.

This story is magical, complex and has stories within a story, that it is beyond words to actually describe.  The descriptive writings to explain an outfit or a scene were so amazing that I wish this book had been written with colorful illustrations! This novel could have easily been made into a trilogy because there were so many stories within it.  It is a novel that stayed with me for a long time and definitely makes me appreciate the life of a traveling artist much more!

excellent cupcake 5

swirlMy Review:

This is a sequel to Firefly Lane, which I read in January.  You can read my review here.  I really loved the first book and like anyone who loves a great story, I jumped on the chance to read the sequel.  This novel, Fly Away, is really for those readers who want to know about “TullyandKate”.   While the novel did share about what happens to Kate’s family, it really is about Tully and her inability to forgive herself and move on from Kate’s death.  This novel reminded me a little of A Christmas Carol, with Kate being the ghost.  Overall, it was a good book that explores friendships, forgiveness, and second chances.

good cupcake 3

*With the exception of The Night Circus, the other books were provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

copyright 2015

Time for a Giveaway!

If you managed to read my mini-reviews, then I think you deserve a free book!

Giveaway

Win a copy of:

The Girl with a Clock Heart by Peter Swanson!

This is going to be an easy giveaway. Simply enter your email in the comments below and let me know if you read any of the books I’ve reviewed. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Giveaway is open until May 28, 2015. 

Open internationally!!

Yes, I’m going to mail these books across the oceans, if you are randomly selected! I know I have quite a few followers outside the US and Canada, so I want to include them, too!

One winner will be randomly chosen and I will contact that winner via email.  The winner will have 48 hours to reply, if not, another winner will be selected.  I don’t announce winners because it takes too much time and energy on my part, however the winner knows and is more than welcome to post their winnings on social media :D

simple signature 1

Review: Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

My Review:

The cover is creepy, isn’t it? I can’t help but think it’s Zoe’s patient, Sophie, lurking in the shadows!!  Zoe is a psychiatrist working on her residency, and is assigned a patient: Sophie, who has been a lifelong patient in psychiatrist hospitals.  As a new transfer, Zoe works at establishing a relationship with her so that she can help Sophie work on her issues (which are a lot!).

It’s a great novel that has a bad romance, murder mystery, and family secrets.  Zoe has an ill-fated love relationship, dealing with the impact her mom’s dementia has on their relationship, flashbacks from a traumatic event, addressing her medical condition (ADHD), and trying to figure out who her biological mom is.  This book has a lot of secrets, which the reader will eventually understand how they all come together and how Zoe handles the news.  Psychology enthusiasts will enjoy the nod to Freud that is sprinkled throughout the novel.    It also showed the vulnerable side to Zoe and how she is just as human as the patients she sees.

Readers will enjoy the fast paced novel and will freak with the “out of nowhere” nail file scene.  Hold on to your seats as Sandra Block takes you into the world of Dr. Zoe Goldman, who has enough baggage and secrets to keep you entertained…add into the mix a mental patient, and you have a whole lot of crazy to keep you fixated to this novel, until the very end!

 

*A copy of the novel was provided by the publisher and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. No forms of compensation were given.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

My Review:

I first heard about this book from blogger, Cindy at “Utah’s Mom’s Life“.  I had the book on my reader for some time and was waiting for the perfect time to read this little gem.  I have been in a reading funk lately, so I wanted a book that was fantasy in some ways, a book that would take me away from the serious books I had read lately.

While this book is not a “light” read, it is definitely one that is magical, deals with heartache, family, and realizing that dreams do come true…even if they aren’t wrapped up in a way that one perceives.

I loved the rugged and rural setting of the book.  Set in the 1920’s, Jack and Mabel decide to venture to a new land: Alaska.  There, they decide to make their home, away from the daily reminders of the loss of their child and family/friends to remind them of those painful memories.  However, as life always shows, no one can run from their past memories.  Mabel is quite stoic and has an inner strength that helps carry her and Jack through the cold winters and harsh reminders of their aloneness.  However, they soon find they aren’t alone and develop friendships with George and Esther, and become parents to Faina, their snow child.

I love the relationship between Esther and Mabel, how Esther’s resilience and strength helps Mabel and Jack, how George and Esther take care of them and teach them, and the way they all become friends, then family.  The details of their Alaska homesteads were quite descriptive, that it was quite easy to see it in my mind.

There were many times I didn’t know where the story would go or how it would end, and that was okay. I liked not knowing where the author would take her readers.  However, there were many times towards the end of the book that I would think: “awww…that’s a beautiful ending”.  Then, I would turn the page, only to find another chapter.  After awhile, I was ready for it to end.  I felt like one of the animals ensnared in a trap…quick to grab you and slow to let go.  However, that was just the last few chapters.  The first 30 something chapters actually move quite nicely and the characters are all connected in some way.

The ending, or multiple endings (in my opinion) are hard, sad, intense, which is reminder of the harsh times during that era.  Just like the snow is surely guaranteed to appear each year (and with it bring hope), this story also brings hope and shows how you can either stay stuck in your own tragedy or see each new possibility as an opportunity to bring joy.  Overall, a great book!

great cupcake rating 4  *A huge thanks to my bloggey friend, who gifted me this amazing book!

simple signature 1

 

 

 

 

 

copyright 2015