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THE FUTURE SHE LEFT BEHIND: A Women’s Novel ~Marin Thomas

October 30th, 2017

THE FUTURE SHE LEFT BEHIND was sent to me by Penguin Random House, publicist Roxanne Jones, for review.  The program sheet began with this paragraph:

If life as you knew it fell to pieces, and you had the chance to start again fresh, what would you do?  And would you bring your grumpy mother-in-law along for the ride?  Katelyn Pratt, a forty-year-old, newly divorced mother of two, grapples with such questions in Marin Thomas’s humorous and heartwarming tale of self-discovery.”

This sounded like a good read and I was interested.

It was a delightful story and well worthy of a good read and time spent turning the pages.  I personally did not find it humorous – heartwarming yes and it built a complacency in myself and also brought of the idea of why was I not more accepting of this is just how life is and isn’t Katelyn handling it so well.  Her goal was stepping up in life and not having to worry about money and with all the changes she was still in that position in her life.  She had the luxury of finding herself and discovering her own future.  There is sadness in the story and the working through of the next steps and there is some challenge in finding satisfaction where one is planted.  Ultimately, there is a savvy hair stylist who is up to date on her abilities and not stuck in the past – helping folks to move on and forward.

I think there are a great many more women who are facing divorce who do not have the financial freedom that Katelyn has achieved.  Who even though they had spent 19 years in a comfortable marriage they were now in a tooth and nail battle to retain some of those finances and to forge a future and survival for themselves and their children.  Most women would have to struggle and would be hard pressed to have relationships to fall back onto at the point of crisis.  Both women in the story were compelled to find the importance of relationship to assist their forward movement.

From St. Louis to small town Texas was not a huge leap as neither women even for their lifestyles and education had learned to fully problem-solve or had a larger worldview.  Neither one of the women was a “global” thinker and their contemplations centered around just what they all ready knew and their creativity seemed to be closed off and not explored.  Can a woman come home again?  I think the answer is yes, particularly if she has just changed location and never truly left home. The characters seem incomplete.  I found the sub-characters infinitely more interesting and much less boring.

Marin Thomas is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five novels, including the Cash Brothers series and THE PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS.

“Marin Thomas writes Women’s Fiction for Berkley and western romances for Harlequin and Tule Publishing. To date she has contracted over 35 projects for Harlequin. Her first women’s fiction novel, The Promise of Forgiveness, released March 2016 and her second novel, The Future She Left Behind releases September 2017. Marin is also a member of the Tall Poppy Writers

Marin grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin and attended college at the University of Arizona where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV. Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marin and her husband currently live in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends her free time junk hunting and researching her next ghost tour.”  (Amazon page)

A good end of the summer read when one wants to recall the days at the fair and the beach and yet be ready for autumn with new pencils and notebook in hand-possibly a new hairdo.  Certainly in the Romance category with the sense of escape tucked right between the cover.

Related:
The Sweet Life
The Innkeepers Sister
Everything We Keep


HOW TO CHANGE A LIFE: A Foodie Fiction Novel ~Stacy Ballis

October 23rd, 2017

I want to start by saying I loved reading HOW TO CHANGE A LIFE every single page!  Perfect timing, fabulously written and not the least bit insulting, as the emotions were real and appropriate and they were not acted out in petty, small or mean actions.  This is how folks can best make change and it is also very fun – very fun.

The food is amazing and I can also state that I did not gain weight while reading even though there are some of the top recipes at the end of the book and a reading group guide!   I did make the quick Lemon Chicken pasta dish for two that was made for one of the characters for a lonely Friday night and even without a recipe spelled out, it was yummy.

Stacey Ballis is the author of ten foodie novels: INAPPROPRIATE MEN, SLEEPING OVER, ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT, THE SPINSTER SISTERS, GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT, OFF THE MENU, OUT TO LUNCH, RECIPE FOR DISASTER, WEDDING GIRL, and HOW TO CHANGE A LIFE.  She is a contributing author to three nonfiction anthologies: GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS, EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME, and LIVING JEWISHLY.

Author page at Amazon

Three 39 year old friends meet at their favorite teacher’s memorial service and renew their friendship.  They found each other when their birthdays were all the same week in May and those dates were used as a sorting tool for group work in high school. They have not kept in touch as well as they would have liked and now are working on revitalizing their friendship.  They all share their thoughts and one suggests that they pick out something they wish to change and accomplish before their 40th birthday celebration.  Theresa is an Italian Mother who wishes to broaden her horizons and work on finding a part time job, Lynne is a successful entrepreneur who wants to purchase a house and land a 7-figure contract, and Eloise a chef, would like to start dating after a break up and enlarge her social connections.  Each one adds a dynamic to the other’s change list and they check in on progress regularly.   They add a bet that the loser must pay $5,000 to their former teacher’s foundation funds.  The tension mounts as they work on their lists and expand their horizons.

Theresa is the negotiator who keeps the friends connected; they all speak kindly to each other and recognize their emotions readily.  They are for the most part happy to have suggestions and to help discover other options or change their thinking on most problems.  This was so encouraging to read.  None of this current “mean girls” nastiness; the three women were mature and thoughtful and recognized how their differences enhanced their relationship.   Refreshing and yet made the read dynamic and optimistic. I was encouraged and I found lots of chuckles and clever moments to capture my attention. I am giving this book to at least 3 young women for holiday and birthday gifts this year. With a little help from our true friends we can certainly change and enjoy our life more.

Roxanne-Jones, Associate Publicist at Penguin Random House

“With the perfect blend of humor and heart, Ballis’s writing is powerfully honest and genuinely hilarious”  -Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of BY THE NUMBERS

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WELCOME HOME DINER: A Foodie Novel ~Peggy Lampman

October 19th, 2017

Cousins Samantha and Addie are hoping that they have made a good bet on Detroit.  They are going into business together by purchasing an old diner and an old house in Detroit proper.  They are hoping that they can revitalize the neighborhood with good homegrown food and delightful delights from their Polish Grandmother’s wealth of yummy recipes.  Addie is handling the business end and Samantha is the cook extraordinaire.

Their garden plot, crusty neighbors and a church with a Gospel Choir surround their WELCOME HOME DINER.  The food is getting rave reviews from folks traveling in from the suburbs but they are not pulling in the locals.  Also someone is writing untrue reviews on YELP.   They hire local people to work and the diner is feeling very much like a family.  The products they purchase are locally made also and come with interesting characters to discover.

I loved the recipe for Potlikker Broth as that is a family recipe at our house as well, but we call it Potassium Broth (without Ham Hock) and it does cure what ails one, as the cousins will testify to as it helped to heal their conflict.  Home celebrated food with panache and I did not gain any weight.  Now that is win-win!

This is a fine story and just a cozy good read as these dynamic women work out success in their new environment and with each other.  New, old and modern problems are resolved and help readers to find new ideas that might just change their circumstances.  The writing is perfect for the type of story and I am sure this will make a successful gift during the holiday –winter season for the reader on your list.  Be sure to read before you wrap it!

Peggy Lampman was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications—summa cum laude—from the University of Michigan, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for a public-relations firm. When she returned to Ann Arbor, her college town, she opened a specialty foods store, the Back Alley Gourmet. Years later, she sold the store and started writing a weekly food column for the Ann Arbor News and MLive. Lampman’s first novel, The Promise Kitchen, published in 2016, garnered several awards and accolades. She is married and has two children. She also writes the popular blog www.dinnerfeed.com.

RELATED:
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tlc-logoTLC Book tours sent me a copy of this book for an honest review.


HANNA WHO FELL FROM THE SKY: A Novel with Magic ~Christopher Meades

October 16th, 2017

HANNA WHO FELL FROM THE SKY is a folk tale about a cultish community with a daughter who is different from all the others.  The community is polygamist centered on a very conservative “Creator” figure.  It is also a community that practices violence against females and denies the female members access to the “other” world.  Hanna is turning 18 and will become the fifth wife of a wealthy older man and she is given no freedom of choice and is bound to the leader’s decisions.

Hanna has always had a mind of her own, but does not wish to make trouble so she complies with the rules up to a point.  Recently she has met a young man who has been a stranger to her, and has now come forth to challenge her thinking and captured her heart.  Her mother shares with Hanna the story of her arrival in the community and there is a realization of some magic, which allows Hanna a new freedom and new choices.

“Beautiful and delicate…a powerful meditation on the gift and cruelty of faith, and the redemptive act of storytelling.  A gorgeous blend of dreamy folklore and gritty reality.”  -Erika Swyler, bestselling author of THE BOOK OF SPECULATION.

The cult and its strange rules and truths made me rather ill at ease to read about their function and actions.   I thought the group unusually cruel to women and girls and the story made me think about the ‘pure race’ cults of Germany and now the white supremacist of our own current events.  There was reference to Mormon culture, which is much more open but based on the hatred of women in the deep down books and heaven forbid if you are a lesbian today or even divorced and the Mormon the reaction is swift and often devastating.  For the Amish the teens are given a choice over their futures that are not the case found in this story.

The name-calling, meanness and the threat of rape was deeply embedded in this tale.  Not a lot of joy or dancing found here.  Violence looms and roams the woods.

I do recommend this book and I think high school students might find it a great read and good storytelling.   The heroine is very smart and figures out what needs to be done.  Not all young women have Hanna’s magic, but almost all have some kind of magic for survival.  Writing good.

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About the author:

Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including THE LAST HICCUP, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead. He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.

Related:
The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness
Two From Isaac’s House
The Fifth Petal