Sunday, December 2, 2018

Florida by Lauren Groff

36098092 
The New York Times-bestselling author of Fates and Furies returns, bringing the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character—a steely and conflicted wife and mother.

The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement.

My Thoughts 
I have not read a collection of short stories before - this was a great book to introduce that type of read. A few of the stories didn't particularly interest me, but others were very riveting and attention grabbing.
I loved the attention to detail that Lauren gave each and every story.   What an amazing picture she paints as well as intricate stories she weaves.
I won't give away too many details to each story but I will list those that attracted my attention; the stories regarding the abandoned sisters, a lonely boy with snakes and a searching homeless woman.  They grabbed my attention and had me wanting to know more!
For my first set of short stories, I was intrigued and will seek out more books of this type.

Drink Selection
I would pair this read with a warm applied cider or mulled wine, perfect for this time of year.

Rating


Lauren Groff
 About Lauren
Lauren Groff was born in Cooperstown, N.Y. and grew up one block from the Baseball Hall of Fame. She graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Points as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Stories 2007, Pushcart Prize XXXII, and Best New American Voices 2008.

She was awarded the Axton Fellowship in Fiction at the University of Louisville, and has had residencies and fellowships at Yaddo and the Vermont Studio Center.

She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, Clay, and her dog, Cooper.
 

Link to Purchase

 

The World Breaks Everyone by Lauren Clark

41045538

A Gripping Cat-and-Mouse Suspense Novel

Every day, I wake up certain of only three things:

I am responsible for my mother’s death.
My father has vanished.
Someone wants me dead.

I’m on the run. It’s me against the world.
I cannot let it break me.

When sixteen-year-old Olivia Jacobs and her celebrity chef father are brutally attacked after his French Quarter restaurant opening, the shell-shocked Olivia finds herself on the run on the streets of New Orleans.

Who wants her dead? And why?

My Thoughts 
This book was a little slow to start for me and pieces were slightly confusing to figure out (characterization) but once the action get going, I couldn't put the book down.
The main character Olivia is juggling so many things on her plate - death of a parent, her father being kidnapped and someone threatening to kill her.  What 16 year old could manage that life?  Certainly not my children!
This book is high energy, high stakes, action packed and will have you guessing all the way to the end. 
For those who are looking for an action packed page turner this would be the perfect read this winter!

Drink Selection
  I would pair this story with a hot glass of mulled cider on a cold winter night!

Rating 


Laura McNeill
 About Laura 

*Laura McNeill also writes under the pen name "Lauren Clark" (The World Breaks Everyone" (August 2018 release, suspense)*

ACCLAIM FOR CENTER OF GRAVITY (July 14, 2015)

"A bold and poignant look into an imploding marriage, told in a chorus of assured voices. Center of Gravity is a compelling, fierce, and ultimately hopeful tale, and McNeill is a writer to watch."
- Josilyn Jackson, author of Someone Else's Love Story

“McNeill’s debut is a heart stopping, nail-biting suspense novel that held me captive until I read the last page."
--Colleen Coble, author of The Inn at Ocean’s Edge and the Hope Beach novels

"A breathless, gut-wrenching, satisfying page turner about the real superheroes of the world who stand up to evil and won’t back down."
--Erin Healy, author of The Baker's Wife

Laura McNeill has been a voracious reader since the age of four and would rather be stranded at the library than on a desert island. In her former life, she worked as an anchor and producer for CBS affiliates in Upstate New York and Alabama. Lauren adores her family, yoga, her new Electra bike, and flavored coffee. Center of Gravity is her first novel with Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson.

Link to Purchase

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Mother, Can You Not? by Kate Siegal

Based on the wildly popular Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom, Kate Siegel's essay collection about life with the woman who redefined the term "helicopter mom"

There is nothing more wonderful than a mother’s love. There is also nothing more annoying. Who else can proudly insist that you’re perfect while simultaneously making you question every career, fashion, and relationship decision you have ever made?

No one understands the delicate mother-daughter dynamic better than Kate Siegel—her own mother drove her so crazy that she decided to broadcast their hilarious conversations on Instagram. Soon, hundreds of thousands of people were following their daily text exchanges, eager to see what outrageous thing Kate’s mom would do next. Now, in Mother, Can You NOT?, Kate pays tribute to the woman who invented the concept of drone parenting.

From embarrassing moments (like crashing Kate's gynecological exams) to outrageous stories (like the time she made Kate steal a cat from the pound) to hilarious celebrations (including but not limited to parties for Kate's menstrual cycles), Mother, Can you NOT? lovingly lampoons the lengths to which our mothers will go to better our lives (even if it feels like they’re ruining them in the process).

My Thoughts
What a funny freakin' book!  I just happened to receive a copy of this in my https://www.hamptongiftbag.com/ 's bag that I purchased.  For those of you who aren't familiar - Jane Ubell-Meyer puts together these amazing bags 4 times throughout the summer and it typically has 6-8 books and other goodies that you can purchase for the cost of shipping and a donation!! 
This book happened to be in there this past summer!
Kate and her mother are probably the two funniest people I have read about, and the most brutally honest.  Kate show's texts that her and her mother send each other and you will die laughing when you read them.  Her mother actually refers to her as spawn, not daughter and it kills me every time!
They talk about a wide range of topics from work to love to dr. visits and college.  If you are looking for a book to make you laugh then grab a copy today!

Drink Selection
This is clearly a Cosmopolitan book for sure!

Rating
Kate Friedman-Siegel
About Kate
KATE FRIEDMAN - SIEGEL is the New York Times bestselling author of Mother, Can You Not? and the social media guru who started the hit Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom. Kate, her debut essay collection, and her #CrazyJewishMom have been featured on The Today Show, BuzzFeed, and on Nightline. Previously, she served as an associate producer for Condé Nast Entertainment, overseeing digital video for Teen Vogue, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, and The New Yorker Festival. Prior to joining Condé Nast, Kate studied English, creative writing, and theater at Princeton University.

Link to Purchase

Monday, November 5, 2018

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway . . . but when the storm hits, no one is getting away.

It's winter in the Catskills and Mitchell's Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing - maybe even romantic - weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off all electricity - and all contact with the outside world - the guests settle in and try to make the best of it.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead - it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, everyone starts to panic.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something - or someone - is picking off the guests one by one. And there's nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm - and one another.
  

My Thoughts
 I loved the characters and the concept of this story.  There were a few sections that were a little slow for me but they were few and far between.
There were times when I was thinking that these people are a little too calm for having all these dead bodies just chillin' (literally) around.
Then in the last few chapters it was like it hit them all of a sudden and they all lost it.
I can honestly say that I didn't really know who did it till the very end, this book really did have me guessing.  There were so many possibilities!
All in all, I really enjoyed this read.

Drink Selection
I would pair this cold, winter read with a Hot Toddy for sure!

Rating

Shari Lapena
About Shari
Shari Lapena is a Canadian novelist. She is best known for her 2016 thriller novel The Couple Next Door, which was a bestseller both in Canada and internationally. Lapena, a lawyer and English teacher before beginning her writing career, published her debut novel Things Go Flying in 2008.

Link to Purchase


Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.
  


My Thoughts
I LOVED this book!  I've been hearing so many great things and I was able to get it from the library and read it in 1 1/2 days.  Now my daughter is reading it - she's hooked!
This really is one of the first YA books I've read since I was younger and it totally sucked me in.
The characters were well written, the story line was awesome, and each chapter had me wanting more.
I had so many different thoughts of who did it by the end and I was still surprised.
Top rated thriller/suspense read by far.


Drink Selection
I didn't have time to drink, I was too invested!  LOL But if I had, I would pair this with a few glasses of yummy Red Cat wine! I love their semi-sweet blend of Catawba and Baco Noir!


Rating
Kara Thomas
About Kara
Kara is the author of THE DARKEST CORNERS, coming April 2016 from Random House/Delacorte. She is also the author of the Prep School Confidential series from St. Martin's Griffin under the pen name Kara Taylor. Kara has written for Warner Brothers Television and currently writes full-time on Long Island, where she lives with her husband and rescue cat.


Link to Purchase
Amazon

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

"You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark."

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

My Thoughts
I have mixed feelings about this book, I liked the idea of what it was about and found the case itself VERY fascinating but I found the book very slow and I had to pick it up many times to get through it.
I'm amazed at the amount of information Michelle was able to amass on this case.  She had great ties/connections with investigators, detectives, other news media etc.
It's too bad that she was never able to see the case through to the arrest of who they think may be the GSK and his upcoming trial. 


Drink Selection
I think this book deserves a stiff drink, whiskey it is!


Rating
Michelle McNamara
About Michelle
Michelle McNamara was a screenwriter, journalist, and true crime writer. She was the founder of the blog "True Crime Diary," which covers lesser-known crimes and cold cases. In 2005, she married comedian Patton Oswalt. They had one daughter together, born in 2009.


Link to Purchase
Amazon

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher

12417705
Sometimes the best man isn't even in the wedding party...

Gavin Greene is a hopeless romantic. He's also a professional one: he writes the wedding column for a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, covering spectacular parties from coast to coast. But there's a thin line between being a hotshot reporter on assignment...and being a single guy alone on a Saturday night at someone else's wedding.

Everything changes on New Year's when Gavin meets Melinda, a travel writer with enchanting dimples. A moonlit stroll across a Manhattan rooftop seals the deal. Until an Aussie with attitude swoops in and whisks her away before Gavin gets her number.

Gavin crisscrosses New York City to find her again. And he learns that there's something worse than losing the woman of his dreams: Having to write an article about her wedding.



My Thoughts
First off, I liked how this story was told from the male perspective.  9 times out of 10 it's always female perspective. 
It's slightly, ok really out of left field, that there would be a guy that had dreams about marriage, honeymoons and babies his entire life. 
One funny line in the book, because he was still single he was letting down his species, really?  HAHA  Personally I think they would praise him.
This book has all sorts of ups and downs - love at first site, hope, deceit, cheating, happiness, which will be Gavin's fate?


Drink Selection
So many weddings, have to pair it with champagne!  Delish!


Rating




Devan Sipher
About Devan
Born in LA.

I always thought that would make a good title for my autobiography. Not that I plan on writing one.

I grew up mostly in Southfield, Michigan, which sounds misleadingly bucolic for a suburb of Detroit with more than 27 million square feet of office space.

For the past eight years I've been a writer of the Vows column at The New York Times, and my first novel, The Wedding Beat, was loosely based on my experience at the Times as a single guy writing about weddings.

My second novel, The Scenic Route, comes out in June 2014.



Link to Purchase
Amazon