Book Review: Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

From Goodreads.com:

Michelle Sanderson may appear to be a strong, independent woman, but on the inside, she’s still the wounded girl who fled home years ago. A young army vet, Michelle returns to the quaint Blackberry Island Inn to claim her inheritance and recover from the perils of war. Instead, she finds the owner’s suite occupied by the last person she wants to see.

Carly Williams and Michelle were once inseparable, until a shocking betrayal destroyed their friendship. And now Carly is implicated in the financial disaster lurking behind the inn’s cheerful veneer.

Single mother Carly has weathered rumors, lies and secrets for a lifetime, and is finally starting to move forward with love and life. But if the Blackberry Island Inn goes under, Carly and her daughter will go with it.

To save their livelihoods, Carly and Michelle will undertake a turbulent truce. It’ll take more than a successful season to move beyond their devastating past, but with a little luck and a beautiful summer, they may just rediscover the friendship of a lifetime.

My Thoughts on the Matter:

I read this book today.  Yes, in one day.  Overall I found it a nice, light, quick read.

Ms. Mallery skillfully takes the plot where I wanted it to go, with a few surprises along the way.  This is a book of a woman finding her way back to herself, to who she was but as she’s also been shaped by her life so far, along with those around her who affect and are affected by her journey.  Helping things along are some misconceptions that get cleared up, some moments of characters temporarily letting down their defensive walls, and the book ends up with plenty of happy endings to go around.

I found it interesting (and worth bookmarking to try even) that Ms. Mallery employs a method of including extra value in her book that I first saw used by Debbie Macomber (who has used both cooking and knitting recipes), by putting a couple of recipes that feature prominently in the story into the back of the book.  I may actually make her version of chicken salad and see what I think.

If you’re looking for some very well-done escapism with a deeper meaning if you’re in the frame of mind to see it, I definitely recommend this book.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

*****

Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

” . . . Once in the truck, she glanced at the house.  From the outside, it wasn’t much.  But to her it was everything she needed.  A place to retreat and lick her wounds.  Somewhere she didn’t have to pretend.  Sanctuary. . . .”

Thankfully, I have somewhere like that – my bed at home.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in it the last six months or so.  It’s a place I can go and shut the world out.  I’ve needed to do that for physical and emotional healing while I deal with the cancer and its effects on my body and mind – my life.  I’m glad it’s here for me, as I expect to need it off and on for quite a while yet.

” . . . “I’m sure her time in the army has changed her.”
Carly rinsed out the dishcloth and hung it over the sink.  “How do you know that?  You barely knew her before.”
“How could war not change someone?”

Right, so the current language is that a cancer patient “fights” the cancer.  ‘Nuff said.  Or if you don’t get what I’m saying from that, please see “Awakening.”

“She had to admit, looking better made her feel a little better.  More here rather than in some kind of emotional limbo.”

Emotional limbo – been there, know that place.  It’s not Always a bad place to be.  Sometimes it’s a way station for where one needs to go while necessary subsurface processing happens.

“. . .” You’re not stupid and you’re not alone.  We all do things that don’t make sense to other people.”

I’m sensing a theme here.  I like it.  I resemble that remark.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Review: Winter Sparrow by Estevan Vega

Winter Sparrow

From Goodreads.com:

“I’ll grow wings all by myself.”

Mary is a young artist about to enter a new chapter in her life. After years of waiting and searching, she has finally found true love. She’s also just discovered that her fiancé Joshua has inherited his father’s rundown countryside mansion. To add to the rising pressure, her wedding day is so close she can practically hear the music. All she has to do is accept what the future holds. Accept…and be happy.

But something’s missing.

As the seasons change, her doubts turn to fears, and her fears become reality. Through struggle and loss, the love she once possessed for Joshua transforms into contempt. When Mary is confronted with a magical escape, the life she has and the life she dreams of will collide, awakening a mysterious change within. But no choice comes without cost, and each one will draw her closer to the truth.

At times both beautiful and haunting, Winter Sparrow dares you to step into a world where eternity is a moment and every breath is a second chance. The fantasy begins….

My Thoughts on the Matter:

What strikes me right away, within the first couple of pages, in fact, is the elegance of the writing, how each sentence is packed with substantial information, drawing me in even before I really know what the book is about, and yet sending my mind spinning, trying to anticipate what’s coming next and excited to keep reading to see if I’m right or if I’ll be surprised.

And unfortunately, right after I jotted this down, things went south for me with this book.  I did finish it but I didn’t like it.

First, I found Mary to be a touch too neurotic, which made me think she and Joshua would not have gotten together in the first place.  Then I found Joshua a little manipulative and controlling.

I did like the middle a bit, where there seemed to be some magic at play.

And then it ended, abruptly, nastily and disjointedly.

I just can’t recommend this one, at all.

This book has been reviewed for the following Reading Challenges (and added to their respective pages).  It is owned by me, was acquired from Amazon.com (Kindle edition), and cost $0.00:

Monthly Key Word Challenge 2013
– 2013 Why Buy the Cow Reading Challenge
– 2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge  (Ghosts)
2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge (Romantic Suspense)

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: The Queen Gene by Jennifer Coburn

*****

The Queen Gene

” . . . “I need some time to digest everything you’ve said.”  I learned that dismissal years ago when a client said it to me.  At the time, I thought it was a polite way of letting me know that my complex concept needed time to be broken down and properly appreciated.  Now I know it’s a nice way of saying, This conversation is over. . . .”

Who knew one could learn actual life skills from a light, fun read?  I’m Definitely remembering this one.  I learned from a very wise therapist once that just because someone else wants to have a certain conversation Does Not mean that I am required to have that conversation.  This is a polite way to say “I am not having this conversation with you.”  Nice.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – January 14, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

Girl in the Glass

From Goodreads:

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

So I’m reading this at home, but it’s been sitting for a few days.  It may or may not make it.  We’ll see.

*****

Digital (on my Kindle), anywhere I want:

The Queen Gene

From Goodreads:

Lucy’s friends have always told her how lucky she is to have a mother like Anjoli. But as much as Lucy adores her theater-savvy, melodramatic mom…well, some relationships just work better at a distance, even if Anjoli still calls ten times a day to say, “Darling, I’m in crisis!” Lucy’s got crises enough of her own, including trying to keep her marriage hot with a two-year-old underfoot, babysitting the artists in residence at her Berkshires artists’ colony, resisting her attraction to a drop-dead-sexy man, and trying to rid her 100-year-old home of ghosts. Lucy’s about ready to start living her life on her own terms, and mother-daughter relations will never be the same again…

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

Long Gone

From Goodreads:

After a layoff and months of struggling, Alice Humphrey finally lands her dream job managing a new art gallery in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District.

According to Drew Campbell, the well-suited corporate representative who hires her, the gallery is a passion project for its anonymous, wealthy, and eccentric owner. Drew assures Alice that the owner will be hands off, allowing her to run the gallery on her own. Her friends think it sounds too good to be true, but Alice sees a perfect opportunity to make a name for herself beyond the shadow of her famous father, an award-winning and controversial film maker.

Everything is perfect until the morning Alice arrives at work to find the gallery gone–the space stripped bare as if it had never existed–and Drew Campbell’s dead body on the floor. Overnight, Alice’s dream job has vanished, and she finds herself at the center of police attention with nothing to prove her innocence. The phone number Drew gave her links back to a disposable phone.

The artist whose work she displayed doesn’t seem to exist. And the dead man she claims is Drew has been identified as someone else.

When police discover ties between the gallery and a missing girl, Alice knows she’s been set up. Now she has to prove it–a dangerous search for answers that will entangle her in a dark, high-tech criminal conspiracy and force her to unearth long-hidden secrets involving her own family . . . secrets that could cost Alice her life.

Waiting in the wings (i.e., bought at Audible.com and living on my iPhone) is the rest of the Caster Chronicles series:

–  Beautiful Darkness
Dream Dark
Beautiful Chaos
Beautiful Redemption

Ya, I was gonna go straight from #1 on down the series.  But I got into the car this morning and realized I hadn’t downloaded it anywhere – not to the Music App on the iPhone Nor into the Audible App, and without wi-fi that just takes too damn long and sometimes just won’t happen at all.  So, I’m listening to “Long Gone” instead, and will get back to the Caster Chronicles after that.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved

Book Excerpts: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

*****

The Marriage Plot

” . . . What made Madeleine sit up in bed was something closer to the reason she reads books in the first place and had always loved them.  Here is a sign that she wasn’t alone.  Here was an articulation of what she had been so far mutely feeling.  In bed on a Friday night, wearing sweatpants, her hair tied back, her glasses smudged, and eating peanut butter from the jar, Madeleine was in a state of extreme solitude. . . .”

I like that idea – extreme solitude, and yet not alone.

” . . . ‘Of or related to Leonard Bankhead (American, born 1959), characterized by excessive introspection or worry.  Gloomy, depressive.  See basket case.‘ . . .
Hannaesque,” Leonard said. “Stubborn.  Given to ironclad positions.”
“Hannarian,” Madeleine said.  “Dangerous.  Not to be messed with.”
“I stand warned.” . . .

” . . . Grief was physiological, a disturbance of the blood. . . .”

Yes.  I have no insightful commentary, just yes, so yes!

” . . . A bruised ego reflected its own image. . . .”

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: Tales from the Crib by Jennifer Coburn

*****

Tales from the crib

” . . . I hated this trite platitude people shot out when they were uncomfortable with another person’s mourning. . . .”

I run into this a lot in the context of having cancer.  People say stupid things trying to get Me to be positive because They are uncomfortable.  Newsflash – My Cancer is Not about how you feel, and if I’m having a bad day with it (totally justifiable and permissible because having cancer sucks!) get over Yourself about me not being happy about having cancer.

” . . . Why was it impossible or people to accept that humans had room for completely conflicting emotions, and one did not detract from the other in the slightest?. . . .”

Now, I don’t know if this makes perfect sense to me because I’m a Gemini, or if all people feel that way sometimes, but um – duh!

” . . . I understand that when someone says, “Oh, don’t feel sad,” they really are trying to help.  But telling me not to feel what I’m already feeling is not at all helpful.”

In fact, being told that one’s reality is not true is one of the truly crazy-making things someone can do to another.

” . . . I always hated when Aunt Rita completely negated my feelings by telling me how much worse off she was at my age. . . .”

Yeah, I think this one’s related to my first quote (and reaction thereto) from this book.  It amazes me how often my experiences are discounted by people saying “someone else has it worse.”  Well, yes, I’m absolutely sure someone does.  But I wasn’t talking about them.  I was talking about me.  Really, what does someone else’s experiences have to do with my current one.  I shouldn’t be less than perfectly-ecstatic at all times because someone else is going through something You decide to judge as worse?  By that measure whoever you hold up to me doesn’t get to feel badly either because someone certainly has it worse than them.  So does one person in the whole world have the right to be less than perfectly ecstatic?  Who is that person?  Who gets to decide who that is?

Oh, and by the same token, if someone else has it ‘worse’ than me, then certainly someone else also has it better.  Hell, I can name a dozen off the top of my head.  For christ’s sake, some days I could look at Anybody who doesn’t have cancer and say they have it better than me.   So, by that token, please take Your discomfort out of my realm of being – compared to those who have it ‘better,’ I have a perfect right to be less than completely-ecstatic.

Yeah, this one instantly and pretty much completely pisses me off.

” . . . For the rest of the weekend, we quietly walked around Ann Arbor taking inventory of what was old and what was new.  What had changed and what had stayed the same.  Very few things were in just one column, least of all us. . . .”

There’s that simultaneous dichotomy again, which speaks to me so.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: Reinventing Mona by Jennifer Coburn

*****

Reinventing Mona

” . . . I ended up having to put Hot Slut on my spam blocker, which is the electronic version of a restraining order. . . .”

Clever.  I like it!

” . . . What’s useless is sitting around wondering what might have been, because what might have been is what is.  The grass may look greener on the other side of the fence, but grass is basically grass. . . .”

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – January 7, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

The Marriage Plot

From Goodreads:

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes—the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned. Jeffrey Eugenides creates a new kind of contemporary love story in “his most powerful novel yet” (Newsweek).

So I loved Middlesex by the same author.  Mom was reading this for her book group.  I figured since I loved one, I’d love the other.  I’m about 80 pages in to this one and I keep putting it down.  I’ve found some passages I’ve highlighted (see upcoming Book Excerpts post containing same), but I think this one’s going on the Abandoned Shelf.  We’ll see if you ever see a review of this one (this will be the review of it unless I finish it).

*****

Analog (dead tree version), also at home:

Girl in the Glass

From Goodreads:

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

*****

Digital (on my Kindle), anywhere I want:

Reinventing Mona

From Goodreads:

What’s new? Me, for starters…

It all began when my job offered me a buy-out package. That’s when the realization hit: I’m young, I’m rich (thanks to a hefty inheritance), and I’m boring. Not “needs a little zip” boring, either. More like “mustard stain on a Sears tweed couch” drab. French’s in a squeeze bottle, that’s me. But suddenly I have Grey Poupon aspirations! Things are gonna change-starting now…

Building a better mantrap…

First things first: Exercise. Carrot juice. Straight hair. Whiter teeth. Clothes that fit (I have breasts? Who knew?) But wait-there’s more. Life’s kicked me around a bit, and I’ve been nursing my wounds for too long. I’m finally ready to take a chance on love with the perfect guy. He’s handsome. He’s smart. He’s reliable. He’s my CPA. Problem is, I’m clueless about winning him over. It’s time to call in an expert. It’s time to call in The Dog.

Down, boy.

Mike “The Dog” Dougherty is a man’s man. A guy’s guy. Okay, he’s a chauvinist pig, and his sty is “The Dog House,” a testosterone-charged column in Maximum for Him magazine. On one hand, I abhor all he stands for. On the other hand, who better to coach me? So here I am. Learning the complex unspoken language of the American male (Talk, bad. Sex, good.); trying exciting new things (Stripping lessons are empowering. Really.); falling for Mike. Uh oh. But the Mike I’m getting to know is different from The Dog. And the Mona I’m becoming isn’t quite who I expected, either.

This whole makeover scheme is getting crazier by the minute. But “crazy” beats “boring”…right?

So far, this is a light, easy read – it was a Kindle freebie, so it’s the first one I’ll review for the “Why Buy The Cow Reading Challenge?”  It immediately (even before I downloaded it, let alone started reading it – just from reading a plot synopsis) struck me as a take-off on The Ugly Truth, which, for me, is a nice light, keep-you-company-while-doing -chores-around-the-house kinda movie, and I thought handled the expected boy-and-girl-opposites-find-each-other elements pretty well.  We’ll see how the book does on that score.

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

Beautiful Creatures

From Goodreads:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Waiting in the wings (i.e., bought at Audible.com and living on my iPhone) is the rest of the series:

–  Beautiful Darkness
Dream Dark
Beautiful Chaos
Beautiful Redemption

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: One Mountain Away by Emilie Richards

[Originally posted as a page on Sunday October 29, 2012; transferred to a standard post on Thursday, January 3, 2013]

One Mountain Away

” . . .

I’ll admit I began this journal reluctantly.  A therapist on my cancer treatment team recommended I keep one.  She told me to look back at what I’ve done, what I’ve gained, what I’ve lost.  I was supposed to find ways to say hello and ways to say goodbye.

. . .

Marriage demands a level of intimacy that permanently changes us.

. . .

… the eleventh commandment – Thou Shalt Not Be Thine Own Worst Enemy.

. . .

Optimism wasn’t the same as denial.

. . .

The way we nurture and protect our memories of people who lived before us.  The good they did?  Like those seeds of your grandmother’s, it doesn’t die.  It’s passed from person to person.  It lives on in other forms, in other places, but the essence of what it was at the beginning never changes.

. . .

Life had a way of separating people, of barging in on relationships and insisting there was no time for friendship.

. . .

She said she discovered the only way to help anybody was to walk beside them, not to judge, not to advise, but simply to be there.  She said women have always understood that offering consolation or a listening ear is what really matters, not how much money you throw at a problem — although that can help — but simply being there.”

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

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