Saturday Snapshot – July 30



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At Home With Books

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I visited my parents this week and spent some time scanning old family photos. The couple in this photo are my Dad’s great-aunt and uncle (circa 1900). They owned a farm in Wisconsin. You can click on the photo to enlarge.

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Title:  Maine

Author:  J. Courtney Sullivan

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

My take:  When I finished reading Maine my first reaction (and I tweeted it) was that it is this summer’s must-read novel. Someone tweeted back that it must be really good in this summer of good reads. So after almost a week do I still think you must read it? Maybe. It could depend on how you like your fiction. If you like character-driven novels you may like this one.  Your appreciation of Maine might depend on your own life experience and family. I have a similar background as the Kelleher family in that mine is American of Irish descent and I was raised Catholic. I could relate to some of the same issues within my extended family. Also, for many years my family vacationed just a few miles up the coast from the novel’s setting – some of the places mentioned in the book are very familiar. For those reasons you can see why it might be MY must-read of the summer.

This is from the Goodreads synopsis:

In her debut novel Commencement, J. Courtney Sullivan explored the relationships of four women during and after their college years. In this much-anticipated second book, she probes into four very different women connected only by family. Alice is the alcoholic, mass-going matriarch burdened by festering guilt; Maggie, her granddaughter, is single, pregnant, and at a crossroads. Ann Marie, related by marriage, seems obsessed by dollhouses and unattainable love and her (Alice’s) black sheep daughter Kathleen is only searching for the nearest exit. One earlier reviewer described Maine “as a summer spritzer that’s equal parts family drama, white wine, and Hail Marys.” Stirred to a perfect turn.

Maine is a story about a family who seem destined to repeat the mistakes of the previous generations. At times two of the women were incredibly mean-spirited. It could either annoy the heck out of you or make you think maybe your family isn’t so bad after all, haha. Seriously, who doesn’t have issues in their family? I can’t wait to discuss Maine with a few of my relatives. Recommended.

Source:  I bought it.

Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts

Title:  Wanna Get Lucky?

A Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure

Author:  Deborah Coonts

Genre:  Mystery

My take:  When a woman falls out of a helicopter into a pirate’s lagoon in front of the Treasure Island Hotel the event is captured on video and played on the local news. Lucky O’Toole works as “chief problem solver” at the Babylon Casino/Resort. Actually, she’s head of Customer Relations. How is she involved with the unfortunate demise of the victim? The helicopter is from the Babylon and it looks like someone Lucky knows may be to blame. Talk about a problem that needs to be solved – and fast!

There also seems to be a lot of blackmail going on at the Babylon. Guests found in compromising positions risk certain humiliation if they don’t pay up. Lucky is determined to find the blackmailers. Between her regular duties and the crime-solving she’s left with almost no time for a personal life. In her early thirties, Lucky’s had mostly bad luck in the love department. Two handsome men have been vying for her attention lately but now she has very little time for them.

I enjoyed this mystery. The Vegas setting is entertaining – think racy conventions, a swingers’ meet-up, and a patron who tries to get his room comped via unconventional means. Lucky O’Toole is an interesting heroine. Her unusual background makes her rather unique but she also has strengths and weaknesses that make her as normal as the rest of us.

Deborah Coonts writes with humor and heart – a combination that always works for me. Wanna Get Lucky? is a fast and fun mystery that left me eager to read the next book in the series.

Source:  FSB Associates

Slim To None by Jenny Gardiner

Title:  Slim To None

Author:  Jenny Gardiner

Genre:  Chick Lit

About:  (Goodreads synopsis) Abbie Jennings is Manhattan’s top food critic until her expanding waistline makes staying incognito at restaurants impossible. Her cover blown on Page Six of the New York Post, her editor has no choice but to bench her—and suggest she use the time off to bench-press her way back to anonymity. Abbie’s life has been built around her career, and therefore around celebrating food. Forced to drop the pounds if she wants her primo gig back, Abbie must peel back the layers of her past and confront the fears that have led to her current life.

My thoughts:  Abbie Jennings is a character after my own heart. Abbie has struggled with her weight all her life. When she’s forced to address it yet again after losing her restaurant critic job she realizes eating too much might be the least of her issues.

Jenny Gardiner gives us a character to relate to and cheer for in this breezy, entertaining, and at times emotional novel. Feeling a bit like a silent partner lately, Abbie’s loving and patient husband gives her some space and time alone to work on things. On her own Abbie deals with the challenges of a dieter as she attempts to get to the core of her issues. She also tries to figure out why she’s so reluctant to have children when her husband has wanted to start a family for a while.

A side story involving a homeless man winds through Slim To None – I thought it would make a good separate novel but here it helps to bring Abbie’s story to a satisfying conclusion. Recommended.

Source:  I bought it.

Mailbox Monday – July 11



Hosted in July at A Sea Of Books

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The first two are giveaway wins from Abi at 4 The Love Of Books – I’m going to give them to my son, the new dad!

Project Dad: The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide For Becoming A Great Father by Todd Cartmell

First Time Dad: The Stuff You Really Need To Know by John Fuller, Paul J. Batura

I bought:

The Department of Lost & Found by Allison Winn Scotch

Eden Lake by Jane Roper

What was in your mailbox?

Blog Tour: The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Title:  The D Word

Authors: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Genre:  Chick Lit

From the book description: There are always two sides to the story, especially when it comes to divorce. Jordan Daniels and Elle Ryan thought their lives would become less complicated when they walked away from their respective relationships one year ago. But instead they find themselves vying for a relationship with the same divorced man. In The D Word you’ll walk in the shoes of Jordan and Elle as they discover that sometimes you’re not that different from the person who makes you feel the most insecure.

My thoughtsWhat struck me first about The D Word is that Jordan and Elle made the decision to leave their relationships and then spent a lot of time second guessing themselves. Jordan thought she was moving on until Kevin, her ex, dates Elle – a woman who is Jordan’s complete opposite. She starts to wonder if maybe they could make it work after all and she certainly doesn’t want another woman taking her place in her young son’s eyes. Jordan pulls out all the stops – even dates a nice guy to make Kevin jealous.

Elle called off her wedding a month before the big day. She lost her fiancé and his sister (Elle’s best friend) in one shot. She’s just trying to move forward and concentrate on her job as a free-lance writer. Elle is covering a singles’ event at a park when she meets Kevin who just happens to be walking his dog through the park but not attending the event. They are immediately attracted to each other and start to date soon after.

Of the two women I found it easy to sympathize more with Elle. Yes she has baggage but for the most part she’s just a nicer person than Jordan who at times is like a grown up ‘mean girl’. She seems to have it all and then wants what isn’t hers anymore. Of course this gives the characters opportunity to grow throughout the novel. Without giving spoilers I was satisfied with how the authors took the two characters down that not-so-straight path of personal growth. I think fans of Chick Lit will enjoy The D Word.

Source:  BookSparks PR

About the authors: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been friends for over twenty years. They both  attended Cal Poly Pomona University and each graduated with a degree in Communication. They co-wrote their previous novel. I’LL HAVE WHO SHE’S HAVING, in 2009. Liz also blogs as the Drama Mama for while Lisa contributes frequently to Barnes & Noble’s Unabashadly Bookish blog and Mall of America’s Fashion Sense blog. Liz is married with two children, and Lisa is married and gave birth to a daughter in January. Liz resides in Long Beach, California, while Lisa lives in Chicago.

For more information visit or follow Liz and Lisa on Twitter

A Summer Reunion by Kasey Michaels, Sarah Mayberry, Teresa Southwick

Title:  A Summer Reunion: All Our Yesterdays/All Our Todays/All Our Tomorrows

Authors:  Kasey Michaels, Sarah Mayberry, Teresa Southwick

Genre:  Contemporary Romance Anthology

My summary:  Just over fifty years ago a couple went out to celebrate their tenth anniversary but never made it home. A truck broadsided their car killing them and leaving their three small children orphans. Peggy, Tory and Stephen were adopted separately but now, so many years later, two of the siblings have found each other again and plan a family reunion and 60th birthday party for Peggy. The party will be at Peggy’s Cape May beachfront house. Peggy is recovering from a broken foot and has a more serious health condition so this party means a lot to her.

The first story in the anthology is about the second child. Tory, a successful graphic artist/author, raised a daughter on her own who is now married and the mother of three. Tory’s daughter was curious about her father’s identity and found him through searching the internet. Tory wasn’t sure this was a good thing. After all, she’d never told him he had a daughter, much less three grandchildren. What will happen when they meet again three decades after Tory left Sam without a word.

In the second story the family discovers that Stephen died a few years earlier in a tragic accident in Australia. Stephen was a mentor to Adam and left his construction company in Adam’s capable hands. When contacted by Stephen’s sisters Adam agreed to come to the party. He planned to share photos and memories of their brother but he didn’t plan to meet Peggy’s daughter. They live on different continents so getting involved is out of the question. Or is it?

The third story is about Peggy’s son David. A serious and  buttoned-down lawyer, he has carried the guilt of a friend’s accident since they were teenagers. Kinsie is Peggy’s physical therapist and a family friend. She’s always had a crush on David but was afraid to let him know. Circumstances put them together in preparation for the big party – will she get him to loosen up and take some chances, will he get her to feel secure enough to admit her feelings?

My thoughts:  I haven’t had much luck with the few anthologies I’ve read but I was intrigued when I read about A Summer Reunion. I’m glad I gave it a try because I really enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the setting. It’s the first I’ve read by the three authors and I’ll look for more of their books.

I liked the way each short story is connected and then tied together in a satisfying epilogue. I think fans of Contemporary Romance will enjoy A Summer Reunion. It’s a heart-warming anthology and perfect for a day at the beach.

Source:  Harlequin via NetGalley

Books on the Beach – 2011

I took a look at the books I’ve read in the first half of 2011 and came up with this list to recommend as Beach Books. Some are lighter than others. Click the covers to see my ratings/reviews. I listed them in the order read from January through June.

Books to take to the beach – 2011 edition