One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

one plus one (july 1)

  • Title:  One Plus One
  • Author:  Jojo Moyes
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2014 – Pamela Dorman Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You. . . Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.  (publisher)

My take:  Jojo Moyes is two for two in my experience with her novels. I loved Me Before You and now I can add One Plus One to the “loved” category. Through the entire book I wanted to hug Jess, her stepson Nicky and daughter Tanzie and tell them “hang in there. It’ll be ok”.  I felt the same way for a few characters in Me Before You. Moyes never makes her characters pathetic or maudlin – just truly human. And while she does that she writes incredibly funny scenes as well as heartbreaking ones. The car trip to the Math Olympiad had me laughing out loud most of the time. Ultimately the point is made that everyone deserves a second chance – and to never give up. I turned the final page with a satisfied smile hoping that Jojo Moyes’ next book won’t be too far away. I’m a fan. Highly recommended.

The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

the lemon orchard

  • Title:  The Lemon Orchard
  • Author:  Luanne Rice
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2013 – Pamela Dorman Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope. (publisher)

My take:  The Lemon Orchard is an emotional tale about two people drawn together by fate. We learn their stories through numerous characters’ voices. From Julia and Roberto to their relatives and friends to people they meet along the way, the details of their sad circumstances are revealed at an even pace.

Luanne Rice’s vivid descriptions of the Connecticut, California, Mexico, and Arizona settings made it easy to visualize the various scenes of the novel.

Like I mentioned, this is an emotional story. Roberto lost everything when trying to make things better for his family by coming to a new country. Julia needed to put some space between herself and the place where she blames herself for the loss of her family. When she meets Roberto she finds a way to gain a sort of redemption by helping him. Falling in love was never their intention. The love story of Julia and Roberto unfolded in such a way that I became invested in their future happiness.

I liked this romantic novel and recommend it to fans of the author and women’s fiction.

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

  • house at the end of hope streetTitle:  The House at the End of Hope Street
  • Author:  Menna van Praag
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Magical Realism
  • Published:  April 2013 – Pamela Dorman Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life. (publisher)

My take:  Feeling devastated and betrayed by recent events in her life Alba is surprised to find herself invited to live in a house where the walls breathe,  famous women in photos speak, converse even, and a ghost counsels her from the kitchen sink. Ahh magical realism, how fun you are to read 🙂  Fun and entertaining but revolving around serious issues of Alba and a few of her housemates. One woman is running from a tragic event in her life. Actually, her entire life was tragic. Another woman is almost forty and afraid her chance at finding love and having a child is slipping away. Almost every character in the book is dealing with some emotional issue.

The wise women on the walls (all former residents of the house) give advice or at least their opinions and it’s up to the living residents to either take the advice or not – to live life in the here and now – not the past. They need to figure out what they want to do moving forward and start working toward it.

I enjoyed this quirky, magical tale and recommend it to fans of the genre.

Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

looking for me

  • Title:  Looking For Me
  • Author:  Beth Hoffman
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  May 28, 2013 – Pamela Dorman Books
  • Source:  Review copy from the author

Synopsis (publisher):  Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop.  Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky.  It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last. But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

My take:  Looking for Me is the story of Teddi Overman, a woman who found her talent for restoring furniture as a young teen and made it her life’s work. With love and great care she gives cast aside pieces a second chance.  That theme repeats in the lives of a few characters – most notably Teddi’s best friend, her brother Josh and a man who reminds her of Josh, Gabe. Whether furniture, old books, or animals, they repair the broken down for another chance at life. The novel is filled with great characters – Teddi’s coworkers, friends, and relatives. I enjoyed each one.

What I loved most about Teddi was her kindness and compassion for pretty much anything or anyone. She had such a pure heart and optimistic spirit and saw the good in everyone. And yet she was human – she had her limits when people pushed her. I’d want to be her friend. The goodness she sent out to people in her world came back to her time and again.

I had such a good feeling while reading Looking For Me that I didn’t want to say goodbye to Teddi and her world. It’s a story filled with heartbreak, friendship, love, mystery and so much more. It is one of those books I know I’ll read again and I rarely do that. I hope you’ll read it soon.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

me before you

  • Title:  Me Before You
  • Author:  Jojo Moyes
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  December 2012 – Pamela Dorman Books
  • Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis (publisher):  Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

My take:  This will be brief. I loved this book. It’s a story that made me laugh out loud and brought me to tears. Louisa is a character who lights up the page and I couldn’t help but cheer for her as she started to put herself before the needs of everyone else. That wasn’t an easy thing for her to do because she’d put herself last most of her life. I’d love to read her story about ten years from where the book leaves off.

As sad as this book was it was also quite uplifting. The point to live in the moment and appreciate each moment was a theme throughout the novel. There’s also a highly debatable topic that I’m certain would invite lively discussion for book groups. I’ve only touched the surface here. It’s a wonderful novel that I’m still thinking about weeks after turning the last page.

I highly recommend Me Before You – it’s on my 2013 Favorites list. Now I need to track down Jojo Moyes’ backlist. If you’ve read any of her previous books do you have a recommendation?