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.