The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

April 17th, 2015

preciousThe Precious One by Marisa de los Santos is one of the She Reads Books of Spring and I was so excited to see it was one of our selections because I adore her books.  She writes beautifully and her stories never fail to warm my heart and I know when I pick up one of her books I’m going to be fully immersed in another world that I will be sad to leave.  I listened to the audio version which is narrated by Abby Craden and Arielle DeLisle and they do an amazing job of capturing the spirit of this novel.  I’ve not listened to these two ladies before but I certainly will again as I found myself so captivated by their telling of this story.

As a young girl Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary always yearned for her father’s love and attention but didn’t get it.  To top it off her father found himself a younger woman with whom he had a child.  When she, her mother, and her brother Marcus move away the kids lose touch with him and really aren’t interested at all in forming any kind of a relationship with him anymore.  Of course neither is he since he is much too busy with his daughter Willow, who Taisy and Marcus have dubbed ‘the precious one’.

Out of the blue Taisy’s father Wilson calls her and requests that she come for a visit.  Upon arriving she finds that he wants her to write his memoir but really he has other motives that come to light as the novel progresses.  Despite the relationship Taisy has had with her father she’s a girl who has only really loved three men in her life – her brother, her first love Ben, and her father and she finds that she can’t refuse him this.  Needless to say she’s nervous about meeting her half sister Willow who has been shaped in her father’s mold to perfection and not only that but he’s always openly loved this girl.  Something he didn’t have with Taisy.  When she meets Willow it is as awkward as expected and Willow seems so angry with her.  And jealous although Taisy can’t imagine why since it’s Willow who has always had their father’s undivided attention.  As the days pass Taisy begins to learn more about this father she thought she knew and also, although slowly, a budding relationship seems to be forming with her sister.

This novel is told in the alternating voices of Taisy and Willow and it’s so well done.  With Taisy we feel the strong woman that she is as she’s really had no choice but to be that way.  And still we feel her vulnerability as she meets Ben again after many, many years.  Then there is Willow who, having been so sheltered her whole life, is so very naive and unsuspecting of anything that could be evil and wrong.  She’s young and experiencing a real school for the first time in her life and she’s completely out of her depth.  Will she be able to survive the real world with so little preparation? Will she make friends?  Will she find love or something more sinister?

I absolutely loved this book and even more so the audio and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves to read women’s fiction.  The Precious One is a story of family, secrets,  and love.  It is a novel I won’t soon forget.

 

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Source: Personal audiobook copy.

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Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham

April 16th, 2015

Read-Bottom-UpRead Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham is a short novel (can be read in a few hours) about dating in the modern world of today.  It’s told exclusively through emails and text messages and it really does scream of the world we live in now.  Back in my days of dating we didn’t have social media.  It was the phone or nothing.  Yet still the same emotions and insecurities exist today – they are just communicated in a different way.

Madeline and Elliot meet at a restaurant opening and begin dating.  Of course in today’s world it’s all about emailing and text messaging and we see the relationship between these two unfold in just that way.  In addition to the messages between Madeline and Elliot we also have the messages between Madeline and Emily (her best friend) and Elliot and David (his best friend).  You really can see from the beginning that this relationship may be doomed because these two want very different things from life.  Madeline is looking for a really serious relationship while Elliot is still looking to just have fun and doesn’t really see the big deal if he doesn’t answer a text message for days.

As the relationship progresses we see the insecurities and over analyzing of the relationship.  Both Madeline and Elliot are constantly copying and pasting messages and sending them to their best friends for their opinions.  There is anger and a million questions but neither makes a move to just confront the situation.  It’s a normal dating scenario – just taking place in today’s world where everything seems to revolve around social media. I don’t want to give away the eventual outcome of the book but I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the ending.

I enjoyed this book primarily because of the format.  I enjoy books done a little differently like that.  The only thing I would have liked to see was a bit more of a romantic tone to the book.  I think this book will really appeal to those who are hooked on all of the social media of today and definitely those who are currently dating in it.

 

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.  No compensation was received

The Someday File by Jean Heller – Guest Post & Giveaway (US/Canada)

April 15th, 2015

someday
 

Well it’s the middle of the week already and it sure flew by.  Today I’ve got a guest post for you all from Jean Heller, author of The Someday File.  The Someday File is a thriller and it’s the first in the Deuce Mora Thriller series and it sounds great.  Jean has taken the time and is joining us today with a guest post entitled MEET DEUCE MORA so please enjoy…

She’s a bit neurotic, plagued by guilt, disdainful of authority, and worried about losing her job.

She is also funny, tenacious, dedicated to finding truth and demanding justice, and very, very good at what she does.

Deuce Mora is a columnist for the Chicago Journal, a newspaper facing an uncertain financial future in a professional world rapidly transitioning from print to digital. As with so many print publications in the United States, the question for the Journal is not so much adapting to change as surviving it.

It is in this atmosphere, where no advertising dollar or subscription is expendable, that Deuce uncovers a story that will put her at odds with the Chicago mob, the police and prosecutors, and even with her own editor.

Deuce, 36, isn’t a woman who can walk into a room unnoticed. She is six feet tall and slim with auburn hair and deep green eyes. Yet for all her good looks, she is terrible at relationships. Her best friend is the Journal’s political editor and her former lover, who wound up marrying someone else. He is the man Deuce cannot quite get over.

As a former journalist myself, I wanted Deuce to be a realistic personification of the real thing. And like the real thing, Deuce is not perfect.

Most journalists – and other creative people – are a little neurotic, battling occasional self-doubts. And they are disdainful of authority when that authority threatens their work. Many of my colleagues over the years were what I call “juggernaut journalists,” full speed ahead and heaven help anyone who gets in the way.

At the same time, Deuce has a great sense of humor, as do most of my journalist friends. Sometimes it’s black humor, the kind you hear from first responders. It develops as a way to shield the psyche from the horrors they see every day.

Deuce finds plenty of horror in THE SOMEDAY FILE, an unsolved 50-year-old crime that involved the mass murder of twenty-seven innocent men, women, and children. There are reasons that very powerful men connected to what’s left of Chicago’s organized-crime syndicate want to keep Deuce from finding the truth, and they will go to great lengths to stop her. When two assaults fail to dissuade her, the order is given to kill her.

What one reviewer called “killer tension” builds to a shocking conclusion that vindicates Deuce but leaves her future very much in doubt.

I set THE SOMEDAY FILE in Chicago because it fits so well. The city has a long, storied, and colorful history with organized crime. The city itself is incredibly colorful, and therefore becomes a key character in the book. One cannot write a book set in Chicago in which Chicago itself is not a major and formidable element.

As a side note, this is the first book in the Deuce Mora series. The second, also set in Chicago, will be published next year.

 

About the Book

What happens when the profession you’ve known all your adult life threatens to kill you, yet suffocating guilt and insatiable curiosity won’t let you walk away.

That’s pretty much what happens to Deuce Mora, a columnist for the Chicago Journal, a big-city newspaper struggling to stay solvent in a world that seems to have outgrown newspapers and left them in ruin.

What Deuce digs out of her “ideas” file is something that should be, at best, a human-interest story. The tale of an aging, low-level Chicago mobster living on beer, bourbon, and regret for the one mistake in his life that cost him everything. Deuce finds him in a Cicero bar late one afternoon, already drunk and resolute in his determination not to talk to her.

Afraid for his safety in the boozy world he inhabits, Deuce gives him a ride home and thus seals his brutal fate. She is left with more guilt than she can shoulder, more curiosity than she can ignore, and in more danger than she can imagine.

The mobster’s final words to her shove her into a world of political and criminal intrigue and confront her with a horrific crime more than 50 years old that she will either solve or die in the trying.

This is a story that could only be set in Chicago, a city that rises as the principal character in any book it inhabits.

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About the Author

jeanJean Heller’s career included serving as an investigative and projects reporter and editor for The Associated Press in New York City and Washington, D.C., The Cox Newspapers and Newsday in Washington, D.C. and the St. Petersburg Times in Washington, D.C. and Florida.

Jean has won multiple awards, including the Worth Bingham Prize, the Polk Award, and is an eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.

Jean’s Website, Facebook, Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS

2 copies up for giveaway

*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter

Draw Date May 2/15

 

 

Source: Guest post received from the author.  All other information obtained from the publicist and author’s website (with permission from the publicist).  Giveaway copies sponsored by the publisher.  No compensation was received.

The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

April 14th, 2015

The-Hurricane-Sisters-PB-199x300I have read a few books by Dorothea Benton Frank and so enjoyed them.  Needless to say I feel no different about The Hurricane Sisters.  It was such a wonderful ‘listen’ for me and I think it would make the perfect summer read.  I liked the story, the characters, and most definitely the setting.  As I mentioned I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Robin Miles.  I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to her before but she is now a new favorite.  She captures the southern tone of this novel to perfection and I enjoyed every minute of listening to her tell this story.

The story takes us to the South Carolina Lowcountry and introduces us to three generations of women.  First is Maisie, the matriarch of the family.   Maisie is eighty years old and she’s bound and determined to still live her life which includes catching herself a much younger boyfriend.  She still holds court over her family though and I adored her character.  There were many times she had me laughing over one thing or another.

Then there is Maisie’s daughter Liz who loves her work with a battered woman’s shelter but is starting to really feel her age.  She isn’t any longer the young sexy model but the older more mature woman and she is starting to feel quite neglected by her husband Clayton.  Needless to say their marriage is not what it used to be and even when Liz puts forth the effort it seems Clayton isn’t interested.  The question is why?

Last we have Liz’s daughter Ashley, a young woman in her twenties who dreams of being an artist one day.  In the meantime though she lives in her family’s beach house with her best friend and works for a living.  Ashley is a girl who is taken in by the rich and powerful and finds it so very attractive.  This leads her to a relationship with a powerful man who turns out to be one of her worst mistakes.

While this novel is the perfect beach read it also effortlessly tackles a lot of heavier subjects like infidelity, physical abuse, and mother – daughter relationships.  Moreover it really brings to light the love and support of family and friends.

I would recommend The Hurricane Sisters to those who love women’s fiction and if you have a chance to listen to the audiobook I highly recommend it.  The performance by Robin Miles is amazing and she brings this wonderful story to life for her listeners. I really enjoyed this book and it only highlights why I enjoy the books of Dorothea Benton Frank so much!

 

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Source: Review copy was received from the publisher for an honest review. Audiobook obtained from library. No compensation was received.
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