Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine @GailHoneyman @PenguinBooks @PenguinUKBooks #4.5stars #CharacterGrowth #AcceptingDifferences

I was lucky enough to snatch a copy of this at Goodwill.  It has been sitting on my shelf for way too long…a colleague reached out to me and asked if I had read this book as she just had and was dying to talk about it.  Thankfully I had it on hand and immediately started it…and then spent all day reading because I could not get enough.

So here I am, special education teacher, assuming Eleanor is on the spectrum.  She has poor social skills, set routines, and does not understand life’s nuances.  Her co-workers mock her and make fun of her and she really isn’t all that aware as she is that socially inept.  We do gather that she has survived a house fire (albeit with scars on her face) when she was a little girl and has a dysfunctional mother who berates her constantly.

Meet Raymond.  He is a new employee at her office and they start to form a bond after they witness an elderly man have a medical episode and assist him.  Raymond is an absolute doll and helps Eleanor become more social.  I wish Eleanor would have eyes for him; however, she has a crush on a musician she saw play once and is convinced he’s the one.

I did not expect so much character growth!  Eleanor grew up with a LOT stacked against her.  After the fire she was placed in protective custody and bounced from foster home to foster home.  No one nurtured her.  No one cared.  When Eleanor has a rough time accepting her fate with her musician it is Raymond who comes to the rescue because he cares.  What a friend.  Eleanor even calls him her friend!  Eleanor in the beginning of this book and at the end are two different people.  I am so proud of her with how much she has allowed herself to grow!  Eleanor has overcome a LOT in her short 30 years time including abuse, trauma, and betrayal.  Truly remarkable writing by Honeyman!

This is a must read 4.5 star read.  I would have loved a small epilogue because, well, I can’t say, it will ruin the progression of the book if I do.  This book took me by surprise and made me feel so emotional.  Raymond took the time to treat Eleanor like a human being, which is something we all should aspire to do with every human we meet.  There is no need for her office co-workers to treat her in the manner they do.  I am glad Raymond was there to step up and be a friend.  If you haven’t read this, don’t put it off any longer.  Read this now!  Have you read this one?  What did you think?  Let’s talk about it!

Details

Title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

Genre(s): Contemporary, Fiction, Humor

Publisher: Penguin Books

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Find it here on Goodreads and Amazon

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Book Review: A Summer Affair @elinhilderbrand @littlebrown @HachetteUS #Adultery #Summer #Love #Life #ElinHilderbrand

I love Elin Hilderbrand.  I have made it my goal to read ALL of her books.  So far, 3 down…23 more to go!  Sometimes you fall in love with an author and you just go with it.  For me, my first taste of Elin was The Perfect Couple and now here I am…loving the love affairs and hanging on to every word!

Adultery is the major theme in this book.  Claire is a married stay at home mother to 4 children who feels trapped.  She gave up her work as a glass blower when she fainted from the heat and went in to pre-term labor with her last child.  She feels guilty that she could have killed her child and feels like her husband is just another child.  Can I get an amen from my fellow mothers out there?  Have we not had times when we felt overwhelmed and underappreciated?!  I digress…

Enter Lockhart.  A married man of a woman that used to be in Claire’s social circle until she drove home from a night out, got into a car wreck due to her intoxication, and was forever changed.  When Lock asks Claire to chair a gala her guilt from not forcing his wife to take a cab weighs heavy and she obliges.  After all, she is the one that knows the latest and biggest rock star on the planet as they used to date.

Both Claire and Lockhart are lonely.  So guess what happens.  I mean, it IS the title of the book.  The book does span over a year’s time, but is heavily focused on the big summer gala.  I do feel for Claire and I think as she works through the affair, she works through her life and ironically, grows as a wife and mother.  I also love the relationship she has with her sister-in-law, a no nonsense, secret keeper, who is there anytime she is needed (even with her own struggles).

So the never do wrong, always abide by the rules Claire, goes on quite the escapade in A Summer Affair.  That is what makes this book a little more exciting.  By the end I felt that every man wants Claire and what a life to live, ha.  I was a little miffed at how it ended, but I guess if it ended another way the book would probably have been another 100 pages at least.  Either way, again, her sister-in-law is the best friend we all want.

4 star read.  It’s Elin guys, you know I love her!  She has a writing style that always peaks my interest.  If adultery is not your thing, don’t read Elin, hahaha.  My favorite part about this book is that it’s a romance without being cheesy.  If you’re up for a tale of what Claire does and if she gets caught in the act or not, read away!  I cannot wait for my next Elin book!!

Details

Title: A Summer Affair

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Genre(s): Literary Fiction, Chick Lit, Romance

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Release Date: July 1, 2008

Find it here on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

This is the debut novel from Anissa Gray to be released on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.  Thank you to Berkley Publishing for the advance reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

This is an emotional, raw read.  We meet the Butler family, all of whom have to been to hell and back, and get a glimpse into the life of an American family.  The eldest sister, Althea, and her husband, Proctor, get arrested for running a charity scheme where they were taking the money and using it on themselves.  Their own daughter turns them in.  Yikes.

Althea goes on a personal journey while she is in jail and I can’t help but feel heartbroken for this broken woman.  While she is on the inside, her sisters Lillian and Viola are left to pick up the pieces with their twin daughters.  Lillian is doing all she can but can’t reach them and desperately needs Viola.  Each sister is facing ghosts from their past and through the book they work through them.  Just when you thought no one was there for you, your family ends up being what you need.

I felt so much emotion while reading this book, yet, I felt something different for each character.  Sometimes I was angry and sometimes I was sad.  After finishing this book I had to just breathe for the day before I picked up another.  I don’t feel it is a heavy read, however, it does pull at the heartstrings.  I really liked how Gray ended the book.  

We see the problems each character have become resolved in a manner that is absolutely appropriate for the book.  Loose, flowing ends are tied up into an appropriate bow.

4 star read for me.  The vernacular used on the characters in this book was also so spot on I felt like I was transformed from my living room into theirs.  There is the use of some foul language so if you are easily offended this may not be the book for you, however, it is absolutely appropriate in each setting it is used in.  If you enjoy stories about families and the struggles they face, this book is for you!

Have you read this?  Have this on your list?  I think everyone is going to be raving about this one in the upcoming next few weeks.  Definitely put this on your to-read list immediately!

Details

Title: The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

Author:  Anissa Gray

Publisher: Berkley

Release Date: Expected February 19, 2019

ISBN-10: 1984802437

Amazon //\\ Goodreads

Book Review: The Life We Wanted

As a member of Team Dearie: Kelsey Kingley’s ARC Team on Facebook, I was blessed with an advance reader copy of The Life We Wanted (expected to be released February 2019).  To say I was nervous was an understatement.  I am in a group of close quarters with the author, what if I hate this book?  How would I be able to write an honest review?  The day arrived and in my inbox was this book.  That day was only yesterday…

I finished this book in one day (honestly, around 4 hours of my day total).  I could not get enough.  This book was inspired by the song “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters and you will see how that intertwines throughout this story.  Music is amazing and this tale uses music as a muse for the story so well.

The story is about Tabitha Clarke and Sebastian Moore.  Tabitha is a successful real estate agent who just lost her parents and sister over the course of a year and gained custody of her 15 year old nephew.  Sebastian Moore is a successful drummer in a band and tours around the world and has a life of one night stands.  When Tabitha goes through her sister’s belongings after another fight with her nephew she discovers letters written by Sebastian and discovers he is her nephew’s father.  At her wit’s end she writes to him in hopes he can help her out and get through to her nephew, Greyson.

This story is told through alternating points of view between Tabitha and Sebastian.  I really liked how the story flowed this way.  We were not left with any unnecessary narratives and I really appreciated that.  I also appreciated the details that went in to describing each character (and I may or may not have a HUGE crush on Sebastian myself).

I would best describe this story as an edgy Hallmark tale (and in case you did not know, I LOVE Hallmark movies).  There is cursing throughout this book so if that is not up your alley, don’t pick up this book.  Is this book predictable?  Yes.  But, did it make me tear up?  Did it make me yell at the characters?  Yes and yes.  I became attached to Tabitha and Sebastian grew on me.  It truly is a wonderful romance tale that has left me wanting more.

I am in a total book hangover.  I am left day dreaming about Tabitha and Sebastian (and hope that one day we will get a sequel).  I know that this book is not for everyone so I won’t sugarcoat that.  If you love Hallmarky things that have an edge to them, THIS IS FOR YOU.  Stop what you are doing and run out to get this book.  It will leave your heart full and your face smiling.  So, despite the fact that I know this book isn’t for everyone, I am still giving it 5 stars.  Why?  Because *I* freakin’ loved it and that’s good enough for me!  If you are into this genre you will understand why I gave it 5 stars after you read it (and then come back and let’s talk all about it).

 

Details

 

Title: The Life We Wanted

Author: Kelsey Kingsley

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Release Date: Anticipated February 1, 2019

ASIN: Will update when released

Link to Goodreads Page

Book Review: Slay Bells

Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. I apologize for the late holiday review (yes, I finished this in 2018), but, I’m still watching Hallmark Christmas movies.  I love the holidays!

This was my first cozy mystery read.  I will warn you right now, I am apparently not a cozy mystery genre fan.  I found this book to be too cheesy at times and lacked some substance for me.  However, I can look past what makes a cozy mystery a cozy mystery and provide an honest review about the overall writing. 

Despite all the cheesiness, I was hooked in to this book.  The premise is a troupe of performers stay at Plum Cottage while they perform nightly during the Christmas Festival in Christmas Village.  There are a lot of characters introduced in the beginning, to the point where it’s overwhelming, and are quite eccentric.  Mrs. Claus helps her friend who owns Plum Cottage and suddenly one of the troupe members is murdered.

What intrigued me was how the murder happened and who did it.  I could not forecast how exactly the murder happened nor could I figure out who did it (until much later in the book).  A second murder also occurs which is also as equally puzzling as the first; this is why I kept reading.

The premise of the murders was so mind boggling that I ignore the cheesiness of the book just to figure out how they were committed.  Mrs. Claus has a lot to do with solving the murders, which is something that is a bit bizarre.  And yes, there are references to her husband who is very busy this time of year, along with her pet ferrets, coincidentally named after famous reindeer.  I would have preferred a more realistic storyline instead of a happier, light one, but, to each their own.

I will say I was shocked with how both murders were committed.  I was not surprised at who did it, the author alludes to who did it as the book progresses.  However, those murders!  I really could not figure out in my head how they were committed and just wow.  The first body is found in the snow with no footprints around it.  I will say that how the murder occurred is revealed at the very end and blew my mind.  The second murder is crazy in its own right as well.  If not for the uniqueness of these murders, I doubt I would have kept reading.

Overall, I would rate this book 3.5 stars (which ultimately rounds up to 4 stars on Goodreads and Amazon).  I would recommend this book if you’re into a puzzling murder case around Christmas time and can look past an overly cheesy barrage of characters and storyline.  If you know you do not like cozy mysteries, don’t pick this book up.  If you are curious, go ahead and try it, just know that I warned you.

 

Details

Title: Slay Bells: A Christmas Village Mystery

Author: T.C. Wescott

Publisher: Better Mousetrap Books

Release Date: November 23, 2018

ISBN-10: 1732135819

Quick Link To Amazon Here