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A MOTHER LIKE MINE: A novel ~Kate Hewitt

September 4th, 2017

A MOTHER LIKE MINE just surrounds the reader with a comfortable story about a mother – daughter relationship that has been sorely damaged over time and yet it has been primed and opened up for a new beginning.  The story is situated in a small coastal village in the UK and both women have a command of their feelings and the ability to have complete and honest conversation.   It is a refreshing story. There is hope.

Abby Rhodes has lost her ability to stay in university to become a Vet because she now has a very young son and she has lost her fiancé to an accident.  She returns home to assist her grandmother in keeping a small café open to the tourists, hikers, and beach visitors.  They are just holding on and doing okay when her grandmother has a first heart attack.    Abby’s mother, Laura, left Abby with grandmother when she was two and so the struggle continues now with her delightful son, Noah.  The future feels like more struggles ahead.

Surprise!  Laura has returned home to stay after working her way to the US and recently has been let go of her position as a Night Club assistant manager and hostess.  She feels that she is ready to face a good future and she wants to be reunited with her mother and child.  Her focus is totally on the future and she does not want to revisit the past and all of her mistakes and troubles.  The duo is off to a hard start and then Gran has another huge heart attack.  They are forced to have the hard conversations and seek out a future.

The community is very fun that surrounds this family and there are quirky and delightful characters coming into the café for coffee and toasties, a number of friendships are developing.  I liked the language and the poignant and satisfying conversations as feelings were revealed and explored.   Quite a delightful read and it arrived just in time for a rainy weekend and a time to curl up and read.

Booklist says:

“At turns introspective and exhilarating, this novel proves that it’s never too late to start over.”

Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, including the Hartley-by-the-Sea novels Rainy Day Sisters and Now and Then Friends, and more recently, the Willoughby Close series. A former New Yorker, she now lives in Wales with her husband five children. She also writes as Katharine Swartz.

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I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved The Romantic Comedy ~Erin Carlson

August 28th, 2017

Delightful!  Is the best adjective I can use to describe I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING.  It is light fair and fun fare to read, as it is written like a Hollywood gossip column with lots and lots of details.  It is a biography that goes into the creation of how WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, and YOU’VE GOT MAIL were written and directed by Nora Ephron and how the director, writers, and actors change the rom-com world in the most delightful manner.

A backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron’s revered trilogy–When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle–which brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of Hollywood women, from Mindy Kaling to Lena Dunham. (From the cover)

Nora Ephron was from a family of screenwriters and lots of sisters.  She personally had a struggle with finding love and it took her several tries to gain the right match.  She was a perfectionist and a satirist who learned to share her emotions on the big screen and assist all the other poor folks in doing the same.  Ephron’s writing was dynamic and bold and formulated stories into other than the usual norm.  She knew which actors she wanted to play different parts and exactly what clothing and shoes they would wear in each scene.  She opened up the world of writing and directing to more women.  She created a trilogy of success.

I had no idea what the book was about when it arrived for review.  I just said, “yes” to a biography.   But about a week before the book arrived, I just needed something positive in my life and I rented YOU’VE GOT MAIL to take my mind off the news – It was the perfect respite to my worry

I actually rented WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE after I finished the book and found it so fun to know the back-stories and the little details.  And yes indeed, there was the sailboat covered in twinkle lights crossing the bay!!!   The observation deck of the Empire State Building was actually filmed on a sound stage in Seattle!  Success in the details.

The movie I have watched probably a hundred times is JULIE AND JULIA  also a Nora Ephron film and it just pulls me right out of any funk I am in at the time and wow, it is about Julia Child and a blogger who actually has success blogging.

What I did not know when the book arrived was that Nora Ephron had died of leukemia, and was no longer writing and making more movies for us to love and enjoy.  This created sadness and yet I still have her movies to enjoy again and again and again.   I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING is part of a great legacy.

I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING is a TLC Book Tours review book

About Erin Carlson

Erin Carlson has covered the entertainment industry for The Hollywood Reporter and AP. Her work has appeared in Glamour, Fortune, and the LA Times. She compiled and wrote an oral history of You’ve Got Mail for Vanity Fair. She holds a master’s in magazine journalism from Northwestern, and has been profiled in the New York Times.

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PRESIDENT’S DAY: A Political Thriller ~Seth Margolis

August 23rd, 2017

PRESIDENT’S DAY is a great thriller with political overtones and high stakes manipulations, written well before the current political/election cycle but it makes one think about the craziness that recently happened here and how well it could have been domestic rather than Russian activity.

Julian Mellow is so wealthy he gets everything he wants including some rare masterpiece paintings which he has hidden away so that no one will know he has them – his secret stash.  His only son has been killed during the take over of a small African country and he now wants revenge and control of that country and he is buying his way.   This desire has him working all the angles on controlling an upcoming American Presidential Election to assist his efforts in taking revenge on the small nation that has been thrown into extreme poverty by the new dictator.

He truly only has one problem to overcome and that is his former assistant Zach Springer, who he set up to take the blame in one of his manipulation schema.  Except Zach knows exactly what Mellow is doing both in his business and in the election engineering and he keeps figuring out more and more – Hold ON!  He cannot convince any one in authority of what he knows and how to warn them of what is happening.  He ends up injured and in prison and yet he still has another ace up his sleeve.   I wonder if there will be a sequel?

Just what I needed to read right now something fast paced and exciting, finding some resolution as I wonder what will happen with the racist chaos and destruction of our government in current times.  Will our President be found out in time and then will we be able to regain control of our rights and laws to then protect ourselves from billionaire despots?  Will we all be shot or imprisoned?  It is quite the read.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review – actually I have to say that something happened with my copy and I knew it was coming up on the schedule so I purchased by own copy to be able to write my thoughts in time.

About the author:

Seth Margolis lives with his wife in New York City and has two grown children. He received a BA in English from the University of Rochester and an MBA in marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business Administration. When not writing fiction, he is a branding consultant for a wide range of companies, primarily in the financial services, technology and pharmaceutical industries. He has written articles for the New York Times and other publications on travel and entertainment.

“Seth Margolis is an author of fiction who has written five books over the past two decades. In 1995, one of his books was made into a feature film called Losing Isaiah, starring Jessica Lange and Halle Berry.” (Wikipedia)

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THE DOLL FUNERAL: A Novel ~Kate Hamer

August 21st, 2017

After reviewing THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT, I was a bit hesitant about this book.  I was so in empathy with the young mother who’s daughter had been adducted and I had to keep turning the pages to find the outcome and release.  THE DOLL FUNERAL is also a well-written book and very captivating, but certainly not of the intensity of the first book I read.  It was actually a relief that it was more of a fantasy story- the imagination providing survival.

A couple that has lost their own baby has adopted Ruby.  The new mother is not a strong person and the new father is very abusive to Ruby.  As this child becomes a teenager she is searching for answers about her birth family, which, she believes will find her or come to her if she just believes this to be true.  Ruby is acting out and often using fire to make her point perfectly clear.  With grandmother’s death she does not feel that she has a comrade or any answers, but she continues to recite ideas that this kind person shared from her cottage deep in the forest.  We are treated to little tidbits of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

“[Hamer’s] fascination with the thresholds between childhood and adulthood, sanity and insanity, chosen and blood families, and her subtle understanding of the clean, often disturbing logic of childhood morality, evoke both Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan . . . This is an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free.” —Melanie McGrath, The Guardian

There is quite a substantial amount of presence by a shadow figure, which it is a long way into the read before one realizes, like Ruby, that she is able to see the dead.  In essence her mother does come to her in a vision of a car hitting a tree and a woman in a yellow dress.  When Ruby has been badly beaten by her father and put on a train to an aunt’s house, she finds a way to run away and it is in the forest that she encounters a huge old house and children who have been abandoned by their parents on an old commune.  Tom and Elizabeth are doing the best that they are able and they invite Ruby to stay with them in their huge house.  This arrangement works okay until the wandering parents stop sending funds and a fox kills all the chickens in their coop – the cold winter is upon the reader and the story.

We are treated to Ruby’s parent’s story as part of the backstory and we learn about her beginnings as Ruby does and this makes for quite unique story telling.  The love of the forest is quite a dominant theme and all the changes the locals have to make as mining ends and there is no work in the woods.

A very unique coming of age story with lots of little confusing moments that make the reader work a bit to figure them out and guess what will happen next, while still developing an intensity in the story.  I think Hamer is  quite the writer and I am very happy that her work is making it’s way onto our local scene.   Another 5 star read for sure – I can highly recommend THE DOLL FUNERAL.

The title did not excite me and I thought it was a weak part of the story line and not as well prepared, or as subtly worked into the story, or well resolved in the conclusion.

About the Author:

KATE HAMER is the author of The Girl in the Red Coat, which was a Costa First Novel Award finalist, a Dagger Award finalist, an Amazon Best Book of the Year 2016, and a winner of the ELLE Lettres Readers’ Prize. She lives in Cardiff, Wales, with her husband and two children. TLC Book Tours Book

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