Category Archives: 4 stars

Review: Nowhere but Home

nowhere but homeNowhere but Home by Liza Palmer

Publisher: William Morrow

Ratings: 4 stars

Source: Publisher

Queenie Wake, a country girl from North Star, Texas, has just been fired from her job as a chef for not allowing a customer to use ketchup. Again. Now the only place she has to go is home to North Star. She can hope, maybe things will be different. Maybe her family’s reputation as those Wake women will have been forgotten. It’s been years since her mother-notorious for stealing your man, your car, and your rent money-was killed. And her sister, who as a teenager was branded as a gold-digging harlot after having a baby with local golden boy Wes McKay, is now the mother of the captain of the high school football team. It can’t be that bad…

Who knew that people in small town Texas had such long memories? And of course Queenie wishes that her memory were a little spottier when feelings for her high school love, Everett Coburn, resurface. He broke her heart and made her leave town-can she risk her heart again?

At least she has a new job-sure it’s cooking last meals for death row inmates but at least they don’t complain!

But when secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again? A fun-filled, touching story of food, football, and fooling around.

As a native Texan, I love reading books that take place in Texas. So I was really excited to dive into Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer and I wasn’t a bit disappointed by the book.

Nowhere but Home is a heartwarming, moving, and sweet little book that follows Queenie Wake on her misadventures and her ups and downs through life. Queenie is an excellent chef that has bounced around the country being fired from one job and then another not due to her inability to cook, but due to her inability to keep quiet. Queenie is opinionated about the food she cooks and she refuses to compromise her cooking to please the customers.

Having nowhere to go but home, Queenie returns to Texas and finds a job cooking the last meal for inmates on death row. After returning home, she has to learn to deal with her past and reputation while rekindling her relationship with her sister and nephew as well as a former lover.

It was fun and entertaining to read about her as she tries to figure out the next step in her life. I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed this book so much was because it was so easy to relate to Queenie. In one way or another, we’re all trying to find our place in this world and figure out what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives. Queenie is far from perfect, but she was witty, sarcastic, and fun to follow.

Nowhere but Home is the perfect beach read and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a fast and fun read.

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Review: Indiscretion

indiscretionIndiscretion by Charles Dubow

Publisher:  William Morrow

Ratings: 4 stars

Source: Publisher

Harry and Madeleine Winslow have been blessed with talent, money, and charm. Harry is a National Book Award–winning author on the cusp of greatness. Madeleine is a woman of sublime beauty and grace whose elemental goodness and serenity belie a privileged upbringing. Bonded by deep devotion, they share a love that is both envied and admired. The Winslows play host to a coterie of close friends and acolytes eager to bask in their golden radiance, whether they are in their bucolic East Hampton cottage, abroad in Rome thanks to Harry’s writing grant, or in their comfortable Manhattan brownstone.

One weekend at the start of the summer season, Harry and Maddy, who are in their early forties, meet Claire and cannot help but be enchanted by her winsome youth, quiet intelligence, and disarming naivete. Drawn by the Winslows’ inscrutable magnetism, Claire eagerly falls into their welcoming orbit. But over the course of the summer, her reverence transforms into a dangerous desire. By Labor Day, it is no longer enough to remain one of their hangers-on.

A story of love, lust, deception, and betrayal as seen through the omniscient eyes of Maddy’s childhood friend Walter, a narrator akin to Nick Carraway in The Great GatsbyIndiscretion is a juicy, richly textured novel filled with fascinating, true-to-life characters—an irresistibly sensual page-turner that explores having it all and the consequences of wanting more.

Wow! Indiscretion by Charles Dubow was not what I was expecting at all when I signed up to be a part of this book tour, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this book. I was first interested in reading this book because of the comparisons it was drawing from The Great Gatsby, a book that I love and adore.

Indiscretion follows a group of friends who seem to have it all until one of them succumbs to temptation and all of their lives go spiraling out of control. The book wonderfully portrays how one mistake can affect so many lives and how profound the consequences of that mistake can be. It depicts how we deal with relationship, friendship, betrayal, deceit, and love.

Harry and Maddy seem to be the perfect couple who are happily married and completely in love with one another. That is until Claire enters the picture and is immediately drawn to the charisma that surrounds the happy couple. To round out the fourth wheel, is Walter, the narrator of the story, who is in love with Maddy, but is content to just adopt Harry and Maddy’s family as his own. It was quite interesting to have the story told from Walter’s point of view rather than the characters that were involved in the affair.

Dubow does a wonderful job of fleshing out these characters and truly making them come off the pages in the story. Their flaws were clearly visible for all to see, but at the same time you couldn’t help but become attached to these characters and drawn to their actions. These aren’t people that you would want to be, but their story was so attracting and I just couldn’t put the book down.

Indiscretion by Charles Dubow is a book that I would highly recommend! It was amazing and entertaining and the writing was brilliant. I couldn’t believe this was his debut novel and I’m excited to see what he has in store for us. I’m definitely looking forward to his future novels.

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Review: The Death of Bees

Death_of_BeesThe Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

Publisher:  Harper Collins

Ratings: 4 stars

Source: Publisher

Hazlehurst housing estate, Glasgow, Christmas Eve 2010. Fifteen-year-old Marnie and her little sister Nelly have just finished burying their parents in the back garden. Only Marnie and Nelly know how they got there. Lennie, the old guy next door, has taken a sudden interest in his two young neighbours and is keeping a close eye on them. He soon realises that the girls are all alone, and need his help – or does he need theirs?

As the year ends and another begins, the sisters’ friends, their neighbours, and the authorities – not to mention the local drug dealer, who’s been sniffing around for their father – gradually start to ask questions. And as one lie leads to another, darker secrets about Marnie’s family come to light, making things even more complicated.

I had to let The Death of Bees sit with me for a couple of days before I could review it just because I really didn’t know what to say about it. I still don’t know what to say about it or how to describe the various emotions I went through while reading this book.

Lisa O’Donnell doesn’t waste any time starting her book. Within seconds of starting the book, we discover that Marnie and Nelly’s parents are dead and they can’t tell anyone about it. They’re used to living on their own though because their parents were terrible along with being drug users. They’ve gone missing before and have abandon Marnie and Nelly before. As they girls tried to figure out a way to live on their own, their next door neighbor Lennie, notices that the parents are missing and steps in to take care of them.

What follows is a heartwarming yet gloomy and dark story as Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie form their own dysfunctional family. The story is told from three different point of view—Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie—and O’Donnell did a wonderful job of creating three distinct voices and giving each character their own personality. It’s really difficult to describe the book because it was humorous at times, yet the situation would be so bleak and dark that I wasn’t exactly sure how I was suppose to react to it.

The Death of Bees is a fascinating and interesting book that really shows you that family can come to you in unexpected places and that it takes more than just sharing the same blood and flesh to truly be called a family. It’s definitely one that I would highly recommend and I was left with this uplifting feeling when I was done with it.

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Review: I Remember You

i remember youI Remember You by Harriet Evans

Publisher:  Harper Collins

Ratings: 4 stars

Source: Purchased

Twelve years in bustling London have left Tess Tennant dumped by her boyfriend, out of work, and miserable. Still, maybe taking a new job as a classics professor at the tiny college in her picture-perfect hometown in the English countryside was a bit drastic. Langford’s stone cottages, quaint shops, and lifelong locals feel even smaller than she remembered, but at least Tess has Adam, her best and oldest friend. On a spontaneous birthday adventure back to the city, though, their painful and heartbreaking past forces them into an angry confrontation.

Tess escapes to Rome on a class trip and falls unexpectedly into the arms of Peter, a charming American journalist . . . until a tragedy cuts her vacation short. Back home and alone, Tess must slowly unravel her feelings about her secretive best friend, the romantic new lover she barely knows, and the independent woman she really wants to be.

You know I’m a fan of brit lit so I had to jump on board with Harriet Evans. I’m also a huge fan of first love and old friendships so I had to pick up I Remember You. I wasn’t disappointed by this book one bit and really enjoyed the transformations the characters went though and how the story progressed.

This was the perfect book to put me in a relaxing mood and I quickly became absorbed by Tess and Adam’s story. It was a well crafted story about how their friendship over the years and finding something more to it. The plot was great and there were enough twists and turns to keep you turning the page and invested in their story.

What I really loved about this book is how real everything felt. The emotions depicted in this book were so vivid and the characters just came to life off the pages. You can feel the pain and anguish Tess went through as well as her joy and laughter.

I would definitely recommend I Remember You to those that would enjoy a good chick lit book. The plot line keeps the story moving and the characters are entertaining.

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Review: Firefly Lane

firefly laneFirefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin

Ratings: 4 stars

Source: Borrowed

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

One of my friends loves Kristin Hannah and while I have heard the name before, I’ve actually never read anything by her. She decided that it was about time for me to change that and let me borrow one of her favorite books by Hannah, Firefly Lane. After reading it, I couldn’t believe I never picked up anything by Hannah before.

Firefly Lane is a wonderful book that takes you down memory lane. The book starts in the 70s when Tully and Kate first meet each other and become best friends forever and closer than sisters. It then follows the girls and chronicles their lives as they enter their young adult years in the 80s, become adults in the 90s, and enter the new millennium wondering if they accomplished everything they had set out to accomplished when they were younger. The book contains many pop culture references and it made me smile to see all those references from my childhood.

Hannah crafts a beautiful story about two friends that are as close as can be and their journey through life together. The story contains all the heartaches they went through together, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, and how their friendship only grows stronger as the years pass.

This was just one of those books where the characters really do come alive and jump off the pages of the books. By the end of the book I felt like I grew up right alongside Tully and Kate. The characters feel so real and the problems they encountered are the same problems that we have faced when we were growing up. It was very easy to relate to both Tully and Kate and follow them on their journey as they literally grew up right in front of our eyes.

Firefly Lane was a beautiful book that followed the lives of two girls who could not be more different from one another, yet found a way to build a friendship that was closer than sisters. It’s a book that I would highly recommend and one that will have you walking down memory lane and thinking about your old friendships and childhood.

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