Here’s to Us

Elin Hilderbrand uses her characters and sense of place to help her story transform from an ordinary tale of family members mourning their father, husband, ex-husband. Deacon Thorpe died at his beloved Nantucket home leaving behind 2 ex-wives, 3 children, and a current wife. All are thrown together for a weekend to throw his ashes and learn that Deacon left all 3 women a part of the house and a debt that only one of them can afford.

Each woman hates another and there is a lot of blame for the end of each of their marriages. Laurel, his high school sweetheart. Belinda, a movie star who stole Deacon from Laurel. And Scarlett, Belinda’s former nanny and Deacons current wife. Each had one child with Deacon. All 6, along with Buck, Deacon’s best friend, are sharing the home and history with each other. There stories spread across decades and showcase a man larger than life who left a big hole in each of their hearts.

Great, moving story.

Read December 2016

and when she was good

Laura Lippman delivers a very questionable heroine in and when she was good. Heloise Lewis grew up unwanted and average, the daughter of a man’s second unwanted family. There was always someone or something better than her and her mother.

We meet her about 20 years later as she’s trying to keep her world from falling apart. As a suburban madam and escort, she’s built an incredibly lucrative career with a silent partner that is currently in jail. We are slowly immersed into her strange dealings with the johns, her employees, and her former pimp. The story is intertwined with learning about her history and how she became a 38 year old suburban mom running a discrete business.

Trust is incredibly important in her world and while many people need to trust Heloise, there are few that she can trust to prevent her worlds from colliding. When other madams start dying, Heloise knows its time to get out of the business and escape from her silent partner. But secrets have a way of coming out hiding and some of them are worth killing for.

Great mystery!

 

Read December 2016

Marriage, Monsters, and Murder

Marriage, Monsters, and Murder is a mystery with a chick lit flair. While I enjoy both genres, the combination in Sara Rosett’s book is too much for me. Almost everything about the wedding, the activities, the wedding planner’s involvement in the investigation, how people treat each other felt contrived and silly.

While an easy read and the setting was well written, I didn’t much enjoy this book.

December 2016

First Comes Love

Emily Griffin’s First Comes Love looks at what happens within a family and each individual when some they love dies too young. The Garland family falls apart after the young son/brother dies while driving to get a burger. Griffin picks up the story 15 years later with the remaining sisters fulfilling the roles they had when they were still young. One is uber responsible until the weight of having a perfect life almost knocks her down. The other is carefree and cannot maintain a relationship.

Through events in their lives today, they’re able to face how their brother’s death, and the responsibility they’ve felt. This is a heart breaking story of how a tragedy can affect everyone’s lives.

Read December 2016

Arsenic with Austen

Katherine Bolger Hyde’s Arsenic with Austen takes place really close to where I live. Emily Cavanaugh teaches at Reed College, less than 1 mile from me, and travels to the Oregon Coast town, which her aunt owned most of the property. After her aunt’s death, Emily inherits her aunts mansion as well as most of the town. There are many who resent what she represents and how her aunt managed her property development. When another elderly woman ends up dead under very suspicious circumstances, its up to Emily and her lover from 30 years prior to solve the crime.

This was a super sweet love story told through a murder investigation. It was a quick, enjoyable read. The twists and turns weren’t that surprising, but her interspersing of famous authors was quaint.

Read December 2016.

The Woman in Blue

Elly Griffiths The Woman in Blue has Ruth Galloway helping investigate the murder of a young woman who died dressed eerily like the Virgin Mary and found in one of the holiest places in England. Ruth helps Detective Nelson determine the motive behind the murder. With so many religious types running around Walshingham during the Lent and Easter season, there are so many church conspiracies to consider. Is it the writer of the letters bashing women’s new role as priests? Or the secret group obsessed with the Virgin Mother as the ultimate mother figure? Or are these 2 groups linked together in ideology and guilt?

An interesting read. There was a lot of colorful characters and plots that should have help my interest, but I was too absent minded to read quickly.

Read December 2016.

10% Happier

10% Happier- How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works- A True Story, by Dan Harris, tells his own story of how he came to mediation but it also serves as a reference for many other religious or self-help books. He includes brief synopsis of what the main teachings are for many of the teachers out there.

I found this book after spending a weekend at a meditation retreat. It was recommended for beginning meditators by several different participants. I was able to read it faster than any other book in the last couple of months. It helped clarify some aspects of meditation that I was working on, like clearing my mind, how to get comfortable, how difficult mediation can be, etc. He includes many helpful types of mediation and I really enjoyed the compassionate meditation, where you focus your compassion on others as part of your practice.

I really enjoyed how honest Dan Harris was about his approach to meditation and how others in his life viewed this new passion of his. He’s helping mainstream meditation and showing how meditation can help with real life challenges.

Great read and exactly what I need in my life right now. Highly recommend for anyone having a hard time turning off their inner voice.

Read November 2016.