Sunday Post

Book arrivals:

home to whiskey creek the husband's secret wind chime point

Last week on Bookfan:

Books I read last week:

  • The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
  • Eventide by Kent Haruf

Claire Cook chat alert!

(Click below for the chat link)

claire cook talk

To find out more please visit the BookTrib main site at

To read more about Claire Cook visit her page on BookTrib

Happy reading!

Audio Briefs

wallflower in bloomSynopsis (publisher):  Deirdre Griffin has a great life; it’s just not her own. She’s the around-the-clock personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother, Tag. As the family wallflower, her only worth seems to be as gatekeeper to Tag at his New England seaside compound. Then Deirdre’s sometime boyfriend informs her that he is marrying another woman, who just happens to be having the baby he told Deirdre he never wanted. While drowning her sorrows in Tag’s expensive vodka, Deirdre decides to use his massive online following to get herself voted on as a last-minute Dancing with the Stars replacement. It’ll get her back in shape, mentally and physically. It might even get her a life of her own. Deirdre’s fifteen minutes of fame have begun.

My take:  This was an entertaining novel about a rather odd family. The parents are former Dead-heads.  The only son is as described in the synopsis: a New Age guru. He’s the family moneymaker. There are assorted other family members who only make Deirdre feel move inadequate. In fact, Deirdre’s entire family makes her feel that way. 

When the proverbial straw appears in the form of her loser boyfriend’s announcement Deirdre gets drunk and the rest, as they say, is history. One must suspend belief at this point because, as an occasional viewer of Dancing With the Stars, I don’t think this scenario would ever happen. That said, Claire Cook delivers a story that made me laugh. The point is obvious but that’s ok.

I liked the audiobook. Cassandra Campbell’s performance was enjoyable.

art forgerSynopsis (publisher):  On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye. Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting–a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum–in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery. Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

My take:  I’m an art lover in the most basic sense. Art Appreciation 101 aside, I have no formal art education or talent – just an eye for what I like. I remember hearing about the Gardener Museum heist when it occurred but quickly forgot about it – I was up to my ears in raising three young children at the time. I liked that it was the basis for Shapiro’s novel.

Claire Roth has a notorious reputation in the art world and has tried to live under the radar for the past few years as a legitimate reproduction artist. When given the chance to reproduce one of the stolen Degas paintings she just can’t say no. She makes her deal with the devil for the chance to show her own work.

I figured out the mystery early on so it’s safe to say most readers will (I’m not a mystery fan). Still, I had my doubts about who was behind it – who in Claire’s world knew what, etc.

I liked the descriptions of the Degas paintings –  I googled a few times to see them.

Xe Sands did a fine job with the narration. Her performance definitely increased my overall enjoyment of the book.

Source:  I bought both audiobooks.

Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook

Title:  Best Staged Plans

Author:  Claire Cook

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

My take:   Home stager Sandy Sullivan is ready for the next chapter in her life. Her daughter is married, her son is out of college (but still lives at home), and her husband took early retirement. Sandy wants to sell their big Victorian and downsize – maybe move to a 55+ community. Hubby and son say they’re going to help get the house ready to sell but one seems more interested in his tennis games with his buddies and the other would rather hide out in the basement and play video games. Sandy’s tired of nagging so when her best friend’s boyfriend calls with a job offer to stage his next venture she decides to take it. She’ll move to Atlanta, live at her daughter’s home, and get the boutique hotel ready for business. She tells her husband not to call her until their house is sold.

In Atlanta Sandy works on her relationship with her son-in-law, works on the hotel staging, and finds the ultimate staging opportunity in a complete stranger. With a little guidance from her GPS and some personal reflection Sandy begins to appreciate a few important aspects of her life she may have previously taken for granted.

Claire Cook is in top form as she uses her typical humor and spot on truth of the human condition to tell the story of one woman that will have many readers saying “Has she been recording my life?”  I loved it!

Source:  I bought the book.

The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook

The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook: Book Cover

From the book flap: Just put one foot in front of the other. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But when Noreen Kelly takes a buyout from her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend in one fell swoop, she finds it hard to know what that next step is – never mind take it. At first Noreen thinks maybe her redundancy package could be an opportunity, a chance to figure out what to do with the rest of her life while her company foots the bill…

For the first time in a great many years, Noreen has time to herself. And she has no idea what to do with it. When she realizes that she’s mistaken her resume for her personality, Noreen knows that she has to get moving…

When she’s joined by neighbors Tess and Rosie, Noreen realizes that walking is not an extreme sport.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts: I edited the synopsis because I felt it told too much. I read this book in a day – stopping occasionally for things like laundry, errands, etc. That was a good thing because I’d read a few chapters and then have time to really think about the changes taking place in the lives of the three friends (Noreen, Tess and Rosie). It’s a realistic and lovely transformation! The once “wave from the car” neighbors become good friends and find that small changes make a big difference in their lives.

Claire Cook is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed reading Summer Blowout last year. I also liked the film version of her book Must Love Dogs. Her humorous writing shines in The Wildwater Walking Club. I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary women’s fiction.

You can read more about the author and her books here.

Summer Blowout by Claire Cook

Cover Image

From the back of the book: Bella Shaughnessy is addicted to lipstick with names like My Chihuahua Bites and Kiss My Lips, an occupational hazard, since she works at Salon de Paolo, her family-run beauty salon, along with her four half-brothers and sisters. The owner is her father, Lucky Shaughnessy, a gregarious, three-times divorced charmer with Donald Trump hair who is obsessed with all things Italian. After Bella’s own marriage flames out spectacularly when her half-sister runs off with her husband, Bella decides she has seen enough of the damage love can do. She makes a vow: no more men.
Well, Bella didn’t plan on meeting a nice and handsome entrepreneur named Sean Ryan. Try as she might, she can’t keep him out of her life – especially since he has been instrumental in getting her exciting new project off the ground. This is a very light book filled to the brim with a loud, loving family and one very cute dog. Bella finds out that not all men are evil and some are even worthy of forgiveness. Add this to your list of books to read at the beach.