Monday, April 29, 2013

And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

Kate is a accomplished woman in her thirties with her own boutique and a close-knit family. Despite appearing to have it all, she is haunted by the decision she made as a young adult to give up her newborn girl to an adoptive family. She is also haunted by unfinished business with her high school sweetheart and father to her daughter, Jack. Other than a letter they write to each other each year on their daughter's birthday, Jack and Kate have not seen or talked to each since Kate announced she was pregnant. When Kate brings Jack back into her life and her daughter finds her, Kate is within striking distance of having everything she ever wanted but can she be happy?

 Kate and Jack have been in love since high school and have sweet, first love aspect to their relationship; even though they attended college in different cities, they stayed together through the distance. When Kate took a job while Jack attended law school in Birmingham, however, the two began to grow apart. Kate seemed ambivalent about their relationship - she stayed on at her job in Arizona even though Jack wanted her to be with him in Birmingham. Shortly after their last night together before they broke up, Kate discovers she is pregnant.  She goes to Birmingham to tell Jack and informs him of her decision to give the baby up for adoption. It is a sad decision for both of them but Jack has moved on to a new relationship and Kate doesn't feel ready to give a child what she feels a child deserves. Fast forward thirteen years and Kate is now in a relationship with Rowan and he is on the brink of proposing but Kate still has not told him about the daughter she gave up for adoption thirteen years ago or that she and Jack exchange letters each year on their daughter's birthday.

My Thoughts
 And Then I Found You is based on author Patti Callahan Henry's own experience when her niece contacted her sister years after her sister had given her up for adoption. The fact that this is based on a real experience shines through in the description of Kate's loss following the adoption and the constant presence of her daughter as she moves through her life. In addition, the author does a great job in painting Kate's family, the big role they play in her life and their own feelings about the niece and granddaughter they never got to know.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and read it in almost one sitting.  The story moves back and forth between present and the time at which Kate gave her daughter up for adoption and it also switches between Kate/Jack/Rowan's story and Emily's (Kate and Jack's daughter) story. This allows you to see many sides of the same story and also allows parts of the story to be revealed slowly which kept me reading. My one quibble with the novel is Kate's ambivalence about her relationship with Jack which continues into adulthood  - I had a hard time relating to that and found myself irritated with her constant waffling between Jack and Rowan. Despite that element, the book is a quick read with a very moving story line. Recommend

I received an ARC from Wunderkind PR for review

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Salon: Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Wrap Up

The Sunday

What a gorgeous weekend it has been! Spring has finally arrived in NYC and I couldn't be happier to see the sun and warmer temperatures. This weekend is also Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - I really wanted to participate but couldn't bear being inside all day yesterday so I headed out for a 6 mile walk with my headphones and audiobook. I stumbled on the Central Park Conservatory Garden - it always amazes me when I discover new things right in my backyard in the city. Here are some pictures of what I had to look at while I listened to The School of Essential Ingredients:

After coming home, I set to work on The Mystery of Mercy Close but I didn't make too much progress because I was flitting about on social media and checking on other readathon participants.  Either way, I had a fun day!  I was reading to support this cause and I raised $50 by reading the equivalent of 200+ pages (mostly via audiobook).  My company will match this for a total of $100. Thanks to all the organizers of the readathon - another job well done!

Hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

It's Readathon time! I am so excited to be spending this weekend READING. It is actually pretty nice outside and after spending the winter waiting for some sun, I can't let the day go by inside. So, I will be heading out with my trusty headphones to listen to some audiobooks throughout the day (my Fitbit will be happy!). The rest of the time I will be settled in on my couch reading and checking in on all your blogs!

 Opening Questionnaire:
  1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
New York City (complete with jackhammering taking place right outside my window)
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Haven't planned much in that department but there is always Seamless
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
Live in a big city, love to travel (even if it is only in books sometimes)
 5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?
Not sure what I will do different - I tend to play this by ear.  But I am going to read for charity again - I have done that a few times before and I like what it adds to my readathon experience. Today I will be donating .25 for each page read and each comment received to this cause.

Have a great day!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review: Lowcountry Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank

Caroline Wimbley is matriarch of a large Southern family. She is easing into the role following the death of her mother, Lavinia, who seems to loom large at Tall Pines both in life and death. As a newly crowned matriarch, Caroline has her work cut out for her. Her brother's estranged wife, Frances Mae, has a drinking problem which has once again veered out of control and she is frequently being brought home by the police. Their three daughters are a rowdy bunch without any of the refined manners that their Aunt Caroline expects of young Southern women. Somehow, Caroline must keep up the appearance of the family despite their antics. Lowcountry Summer is the story of a large Southern family, their fearless matriarch and her adventures in holding up standards.

Caroline is riddled with contradictions - she is very concerned about what people think of the family but she liaises with a series of men for flings and the whole town knows. She worships tradition and regales the younger members of the family with the family history all the way back to Colonel Sherman. At the same time however, she broke with tradition herself when she married a "Yankee" psychologist and moved to New York City as a young woman. She wants her nieces, however, to maintain certain Southern traditions including being "debuted" to society.  It won't be easy to get this crew ready for presentation. Although Caroline may have been conflicted about these traditions at points of her own life, she now feels a great obligation, and desire, to uphold them almost as an offering to her mother, Lavinia.

My Thoughts
At first, I found some of Caroline's traditions and her steadfast defense of them, frustrating.  They seemed anachronistic and Caroline was out of touch by insisting that her family try to adhere to them.  But as the book progressed, Caroline grew on me.  I began to understand that a love for her mother and everything she held dear was driving Caroline as matriarch. Although the Wimbley family is dysfunctional, there is a lot of love to go around that family and it binds them together.

The dysfunction also brings a humorous element to the book - I couldn't help but laugh at some of the escapades of Caroline's nieces.  Perhaps even funnier, however, is Caroline's horrified reaction to each new embarrassment perpetrated by the teenage hellions.

I am looking forward to immersing myself in other southern charmers by this author (including the prequel to this novel, Plantation).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: The Wanderer by Robyn Carr

The Wanderer by Robyn Carr is a new series by the author set in the Oregon Coast in the town of Thunder Point. We are introduced to a collection of locals when Cooper arrives following the death of his close friend and longtime resident of Thunder Point, Ben. There is Mac, the police deputy, who is a single father living with his children and Aunt Lou; Gina is a single mother with her now teenage daughter; Sarah Dupre with her high school age younger brother is a relatively new resident in Thunder Point. The book largely focuses on the day to day lives of these characters but there is some romance thrown in for good measure. 

Cooper arrives in Thunder Point following the death of his friend, Ben. Ben has died suddenly due to a fall and Cooper soon discovers that his friend has left him his land, bait shop and bar. Cooper is surprised since he did not consider himself especially close to Ben. He sets about figuring out what to do with his new inheritance and trying to learn a little more about Ben including the mysterious circumstances of his death. Cooper considers himself to be passing through Thunder Point but he wants to do right by his friend's memory and fix up the bar and shop because he knew it meant a lot to Ben. This allows him to meet the rest of the Thunder Point community including Mac McCain, the police deputy. The two men quickly hit if off and Cooper enlists Mac's help in figuring out if Ben's death was really an accident. Cooper also meets Sarah Dupre and is drawn to the attractive young woman who is a Coast Guard helicopter pilot and guardian to her young brother since their parent's sudden death when she was just eighteen. Sarah has been hurt recently and is resisting her attraction to Cooper - especially considering he only plans to pass through Thunder Point.

My Thoughts
This is the first of Robyn Carr's novels which I have read and I enjoyed it.  It is an easy read with characters that you can't help but like. I also liked that there was a little mystery thrown in with Ben's death and there was a twist in that story line which I didn't see coming. I am glad that I have read the first novel in this author's latest series because now I have a lot to look forward to as additional novels in Thunder Point arrive!