8/30/15

Surface





Surface by Stacy Robinson. New York: Kensington, 2015. 381 pages. Internet Resources and A Reading Group Guide. *****



Claire Montgomery lives a charmed country club life married to a wealthy entrepreneur and is assured of her place and status in society. In one night all of that changes. Claire cannot imagine that one act could irrevocably change her life and that of her seventeen-year-old son, Nick. Claire struggles with her own guilt, her husband's anger and scorn, and Nick's recovery. Learning who her true friends are and the realization that people and situations are not always what they seem propels Claire forward to discover what she wants in life and what's really important in a marriage. Betrayal, secrets, the plot twists and turns with surprising results.

I wasn't sure when I started this book whether I liked it, but I couldn't seem to put it down. Initially, it seemed to be predictable, but I still wanted to know what happened next. Claire was much stronger than she knew and seemed to have a clear sense of what is important and what she needs to do for her son. The story went in a direction that I didn't expect and I was surprised to discover that this was a debut novel.  Robinson does an excellent job of a master magician, showing us just enough to peak our interest and alluding to what is hiding beneath the "surface." I look forward to more books from Robinson.

I received a copy of this book from BookSparks to review.

Stacy Robinson is a novelist and a former marketing professional and teacher. She received a B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University. Presently she lives in Denver, where she served on the Executive Board of the Children's Diabetes Foundation and is a member of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Visit her at stacyrobinsonbooks.com

A Window Opens




A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. 368 pages. ****


Thirty-eight-year-old Alice Pease has a life that many women envy. She is happily married to Nicholas, she loves her part-time job reviewing books, three great kids, a mother who cooks dinner for her once a week, a great relationship with her father and a babysitter who keeps her sane. Everything is perfect until her husband doesn't make partner and decides it's time to open his own law practice and Alice has to seek full-time employment. Balancing her new job at an exciting young start-up company and prioritizing family needs causes Alice to question what she really wants in life. Alice has to juggle many obligations and make decisions that are never easy for any working mother, daughter, wife and friend.

An entertaining debut novel, Egan touches on many emotions in a scenario that many readers will find touching. Alice finds a job that seems too good to be true and then struggles when she realizes that they language they speak is foreign to her world and that her values are not in alignment with the goals of her new job. Who hasn't been in a position to question what's really important in life and the need to earn an income sufficient to support a family? I enjoyed this book and thought that Egan developed her characters well; the conflicts that Alice faces every day are realistic. Many women will relate with wanting it all and then questing whether it's achievable and satisfying. It's easy to cheer Alice on because she is so likable and tries so hard to placate her new boss and fit into the corporate culture.

Fans of Chick Lit and Maybe In Another Life: a novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid will enjoy this novel.

I received a copy of this book from BookSparks to review.


Elisabeth Egan is the book editor at Glamour. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in many popular magazines. She lives with her family in New Jersey.

8/24/15

Just The Facts: A Novel



Just The Facts: A Novel by Ellen Sherman.  CA: She Writes Press, 2015. 180 pages. Reading Group Guide available at ellensherman.com. ***


Nora Anne Plowright (thankfully, her father changed their name from Plutz to Plowright) possesses all of the self-confidence of a recent English major graduate looking for a first time job. When asked why she wants to work at a newspaper, Nora responds "Well, I've always loved to write, and I think I'm pretty good at it. One day, I'd like to be a novelist, but I'm twenty-two--and I need some experience." Initially assigned the Police Blotter and Obits, Nora is constantly chided by Big Bill to bring in some "real" news. Comfortable in her role as a news reporter, Nora makes her share of mistakes and is naive in believing what people tell her. Nora attends a routine Highway Meeting and is accosted in the parking lot by a stranger who claims that a decision has already been made as to where the highway will be built and that the meeting was a sham and the people need to know the truth. Delving deeper into the highway story unearths more questions than answers. 

If you are a news junkie and wonder about life in the newsroom, you will enjoy this humorous glimpse into 1978. While entertaining, the story just didn't "grab" me and hold my attention. Nora is a likable character, but there was something disjointed about the story. I really wanted to give it more stars, but just couldn't do it, maybe I just couldn't relate to her experiences. 


I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from BookSparks to review.

Ellen Sherman received her MFA from the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop and has worked as a journalist, editor, and teacher. 

satisfaction


satisfaction by Andee Reilly. Tempe: SparkPress, 2015. 298 pages. ****


A Rolling Stones groupie, twenty-two year-old Ginny Martin, leaves her cheating husband behind and takes to the road to follow her favorite band. Concert tickets weren't cheap, but it serves him right for having an affair with the manicurist at the salon where she works (make that...worked).  Freedom at last from her mother and her controlling husband, his girlfriend can have him. Along her travels, Ginny meets Bree, a waitress in a diner, a free spirit who hasn't let a child and responsibility tie her down. The two form an immediate bond and decide to travel the concert circuit together. Rekindling a former romance forces Bree to face her past. A new romance reinforces Ginny's quest to be her own person and leave her limiting behavior behind her.

Entertaining, fun, fast-paced with many Rolling Stones references, this debut novel will pull you in and keep you there until the very end. Having grown up in the 60s, I wasn't sure what I would think after reading the description, however, it was a poignant, humorous, fun read. "Catch your dreams before they slip away" Jagger/Richards, accurately describes the theme of this story. The story is more about self-actualization and friendship than the music.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy from SparkPress to review.

Andee Reilly was born and raised in Los Angeles. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside and teaches literature and wiring at California State University Channel Islands. 

8/16/15

Anchored



Anchored: a novel by Brigitte Quinn. BookSparks, 2015. 316 pages. ****



Barbara King's dream job is to anchor the prime time network. It's never easy to juggle work, family, motherhood and being a wife, but it becomes especially difficult for Barbara when the network hires a "hot" new co-anchor for her. Sexy Jack Stone, sits inches from her on the set, and after a chilly first meeting, become best friends finishing each other sentences. Rumors fly that they are having an affair, but both Barbara and Jack are happily married to their spouses, or are they?  Will Barbara and Jack risk ruining their friendship for what could be a tawdry affair or have they fallen in love and complete each other both on and off of the set?


This debut novel is a lighthearted behind the scenes look at a newsroom and the people who bring the news into your home every day. Humor, romance, friendship and the complexities of staying true to oneself while reporting the news amidst strong egos and backstabbing behavior. A great beach read, fun and entertaining.


Brigitte Quinn has worked in broadcasting for more than 30 years and was a television anchor at the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and NBC. She holds an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children, and is currently anchoring mornings at 1010 WINS radio in New York City. Her website: www. brigittequinn.com and follow her on Twitter @BrigitteQuinn11.