Sunday, August 02, 2020

Review: The Friendship List

About the Book:

[ ] Dance till dawn
[ ] Go skydiving
[ ] Wear a bikini in public
[ ] Start living

Two best friends jump-start their lives in a summer that will change them forever…

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy,” Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humor, heartache and regrettable tattoos.

My Comments:

I think all of us reach times in our lives when we realize that if we don't charge our life, life will leave us behind. A child-focused life is great for the mother of school-aged kids, but when those kids go to college it is time to find another focus or to focus on other kids.  When you move to "part-time" at the office, you can pack your desk and head for the golf course, library, gym or fishing hole, or you can come in every morning to see if anything is happening that they need your help on.  Which is healthier?  Unity and Ellen both realize their lives need to change and as best friends they challenge each other to make the changes needed.  

While I found some of their choices questionable, I enjoyed watching them embrace a new time in their lives. 

Ellen got pregnant the night of her Junior Prom and had to grow up in a hurry.  The baby's father signed over his rights, so she has been the only parent her son has ever known--but now the ex wants a chance to know his son--the son who is between his Junior and Senior year of high school.

Unity lost her parents when she was in high school and moved in with her best friend Ellen's family until she moved out to marry her high school sweetheart.  She followed her husband, who was in the military, from base to base until he was killed and she returned to his childhood home where she has spent the last three years wallowing in grief and depriving herself of the normal life of a 30 something--her friends are Ellen and the people in the local seniors-only community  When Unity and Ellen challenged each other to move out of their neat little boxes, it was just what both of them needed.

That being said, I'll admit I'm old as dirt, overly religious and old-fashioned but I had a real problem with Ellen's behavior.  An important part of the book takes place on a school trip chaperoned by Ellen and her best friend (male), each of whom have a child on the trip.  On that trip, where she was responsible for other people's kids, Ellen was drinking alcohol, drinking enough of it to get drunk, and then sleeping with the other chaperone.  Just no. 

One thing I found interesting was that the other chaperone had a teenage daughter.  He regularly inspected her birth control pill boxes to make sure she was taking them.  However, when he found out that she was actually "using" them, he blew his stack.  The daughter then pointed out that he had not made a rule against that activity. 

Mallery's books are not the squeaky clean type, but I found this one to be more graphic than normal, unnecessarily so.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade:  B. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Review of The Banty House

The Banty House by [Carolyn Brown]

About the Book:

In the fading town of Rooster, Texas, all that’s really left is a service station, a church…and the Banty House, a long-ago Depression-era brothel. For more than seventy-five years, Betsy, Connie, and Kate Carson have called their mama’s house a home. The three eccentric sisters get by just fine with their homemade jams and jellies, a little moonshine on the side, and big hearts always open to strangers. Like Ginger Andrews.

An abandoned teen with a baby on the way and nowhere to go, she’s given a room to call her own for as long as she wants. The kind invitation is made all the sweeter when Ginger meets the sisters’ young handyman, Sloan Baker. But with a past as broken as Ginger’s, he’s vowed never to get close to anyone again. As a season of change unfolds, Ginger and Sloan might discover a warm haven to heal in the Banty House, a place to finally belong, where hope and dreams never fade.

My Comments:

What is family?  Is it people who are related by blood?  People who care for each other?  Both?  These three old ladies are related by blood.  None have ever had another family, except their mother.  However, they have hearts full of love for those who need it, and in this case the two who need it are a war vet with PTSD and a young pregnant girl.  

Through the book we learn the story of the little old ladies and their lives.  We learn about their mother--a mixed race woman who had to survive the depression. While her method might raise moral eyebrows, she met a commercial desire, did it while protecting (in her own way) young women and raising her own family.  We learn how even today, young women end up used for their bodies.  

Carolyn Brown has many books, including this one, available on Kindle Unlimited, so if  you are a member, it won't cost you anything to have a look.  I got my copy via NetGalley.  Grade:  B. 

RaeAnne Thayne's The Sea Glass Cottage

The Sea Glass Cottage: A Novel by [RaeAnne Thayne]

About the Book:

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness.

My Comments:

Most of RaeAnn Thayne's books focus on the romance, the building relationship between the male and female lead, but this book is much more about the relationship between Olivia and her family, and isn't that the way is should be?  Isn't it when we enter into relationships that exclude our loved ones (assuming our loved ones are healthy themselves) that we get into trouble?  

As these family members deal with each other they learn to love themselves, and then others and I enjoyed cheering for them as they learned this lesson.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  Grade: B. 

Reunion at the Shore: My Review

Reunion at the Shore (The Off Season Book 2) by [Lee Tobin McClain]

About the Book:

Ria and Drew Martin’s chemistry had always kept their marriage together—until suddenly it didn’t. Now a single mom, hotel manager Ria is at a loss when one of her teen daughters starts spiraling. Panicked, she calls on her estranged ex-husband for backup, but she’s not prepared for the man he’s become—or the unresolved emotions that still linger between them.

After his divorce, Drew pulled away from everyone when he lost his eyesight and his job on the police force. Now that he’s realized how much his daughters need their dad, Drew is determined to make things up to them. He’s less sure where he stands with Ria. They had real reasons for ending their marriage, but they’ve both changed during their time apart. And being with her again in the place where they first fell in love brings back memories of all that they once had. Can they overcome their past to reunite their family, this time forever?

My Comments:

What Ria learns when she reaches out to Drew is that he was blinded in a work accident.  This man who has always defined himself by his job as a police officer now not only doesn't have his sight, he doesn't have his job and he doesn't have his family.   

This is the second book in a series of books about disabled police officers who come to a cabin on the shore to recover not only physically but emotionally.  Overall I think the book dealt with the inner emotions of the characters more deeply than the average romance novel does.  

I really enjoyed watching Ria and Drew navigate not only their relationship with each other but their relationship with their girls.  I also liked the scene where they were considering going to bed with each other and Drew said no, that he wanted to do it right this time.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B. 

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