Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: Midnight in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

The books in Sarah Morgan's O'Neal Brothers Trilogy are some of my favorite romance novels. I loved those books so much, I recommend them to all my friends and have bought copies to give people as gifts. So I was looking forward to another trilogy from her. But I didn't like this book anywhere near as much as I liked those books.

The first part of the book is so slow. Took me forever to get through the first 30 or 40 percent of the book. Nothing was happening. Readers are told over and over again that Paige is in love with Jake and every time Jake sees Paige, he wants to take her to a dark corner and strip her naked. But I never got the impression that he felt anything near what she felt for him. If anything, he just felt sorry for her and protective of her. At one point in her life, she'd been sick and vulnerable and that had left an impression on him. The attraction between the two never felt genuine. The romance felt weak and forced.

I also didn't like all the other characters - the friends all seemed like caricatures - the super successful, organized one, the romantic one and the bitter one. It felt like such an obvious set up for the other books in the series. We're told multiple times that Paige's brother is concerned about one of her friends who has relationship issues because of her mother. Same story line as this book - big brother type feels protective of his little sister's friend. Not a fan of those story lines.

The story is okay, I didn't by any means hate the book, but I never felt any strong connection to the characters and it didn't have much of an emotional impact on me.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable

I enjoyed this book quite a bit.

Despite the title, the story doesn't actually take place in Paris. Most of it takes place in an English village.

There are two story lines, one in the present day, involving Laurel returning with her daughter, Annie, to a place where she spent time when she was younger. As Annie is trying to learn more about her mother's past, readers are also made aware of the events that happened thirty years earlier.

Annie meets a man in a pub who begins to tell her stories, providing her with the information she is seeking. I especially enjoyed the stories that took place in the past. And the the eccentric Duchess of Marlborough is an entertaining character. I like that the author does her research and includes these historical characters. Also having seen a Boldini exhibit last summer, I appreciate the art history. 

Sometimes I'm bothered by absurd coincidences, but that wasn't the case with this story. These seemed to make sense. 

Really good story. The past and present story lines worked well, kept the reading guessing for the most part as to the secretes waiting to be revealed.

My only issue was with the man Annie was planning to marry. He came across as a little too perfect and wonderful. Every time something would happen, Annie would email him for suggestions and then spout his advice as if he were some all-knowing being. For some reason, that really put me off.

Overall though, a really nice story, one I'd readily recommend.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Review: Meternity by Meghann Foye

I thought this was going to be some silly, funny book, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it - this being some prime vacation reading time at the moment - but I really liked the description and thought a light humorous read might be beneficial. This book turned out to be much deeper and meaningful than I expected. This book has be doing a lot of thinking about life and choices and things women have to go through in the workplace.

The main character was so real. As someone who has chosen to not have children, I could relate to her very well. Granted, I've never even considered faking a pregnancy, but I admit to feeling some jealousy - or rather a lot of jealousy - over people taking maternity leave. Yes, I know, I'm so selfish and horrible, I'll say it before anyone else does, no need to point it out. Babies are so important. I kind of think a few months to work on my writing or painting or traveling through Europe is also important, but I can't exactly ask for a few months off to do that, knowing that when I'm done I'll have a job waiting for me. And as a person with no children, I'm so very tired and smiling and saying, "sure, no problem", every time I have to take over someone else's responsibilities because they can't do it due to child related reasons. So, you see, this book resonated with me because the character in this story is having to deal with all of that. This book examines the idea that women are considered insignificant, unless they have a husband and/or a child.

In the beginning of the story, Liz Buckley, who works at a parenting magazine in New York City, is attending yet another work-related baby shower. She's stressed at work, overwhelmed with responsibilities and upset because she realizes she's going to miss her trip to Paris. Her emotional stress manifests physically, and around this time, a co-worker notices a pregnancy app on her phone. They assume her illness is related to pregnancy, "Not you, too?" they ask, and she doesn't deny it. In that moment, she thinks, maybe it is her turn.

 Her not so very well thought out plan is to use maternity leave to find some travel related free lance writing work and then quit her job. But her plan doesn't work out quite as neatly as she hopes. For the next six months, she's wearing fake bumps to work, while also finding that her new "condition" has people treating her different. People are being nicer, there's talk of a potential raise and title change - what she's been wanting for years, and being constantly overlooked. She can take off mornings for doctors appointments and spend the day working from home. And she begins re-evaluating decisions made in her social life. She's surrounded by people in search of "potential husbands" and she knows a lot of people who are settling for anyone who fits the description - not holding out for the perfect man. At age 31, she's trying to figure out what she really wants in life. She feels guilty for wanting something more than just a husband and a baby, because that seems to be enough for other people. Wouldn't life be easier if that was all she wanted, instead of wanting to travel the world and write important stories?

This is a story about self discovery. While faking her pregnancy, Liz does begin to create a new life - not in the form of a baby, but rather for herself. She's forced to examine her life and her choices and desires. What I really liked about the book is that there aren't any clear solutions. The perfect man doesn't show up. The perfect job doesn't magically materialize. She doesn't suddenly have an epiphany and decide that the answer to her problems is to actually get pregnant and settle down with a nice guy. Instead, Liz finally accepts that she needs to be honest and she needs to follow her dreams and she has to start taking chances.

Maybe I'm taking the story a little too seriously, but for me, this story really struck a chord. I'm about nine years old than Liz, but recently have been dealing with so many of these same thoughts with regard to career and life decisions.

I enjoyed this book, and will readily recommend it to any of my child-free friends. I think it might offend some moms though, especially those who are so caught up in the "mom culture" that this book describes at length. But then again, I don't know how moms think. Might be nice and a little enlightening for them to see things from a different perspective.

Also, very much enjoyed the New York City setting. Right out of college, I went to New York City, hoping to work in magazines. After a bit of temp work, I left, returned to Texas to work for newspapers, thinking I'd save up some money and then return to New York City. Almost twenty years later, still in Texas, completely out of the journalism business, but I visit New York City often. One of my favorite cities, and I thought this book captured the New York City lifestyle very well. 

Great book. Enjoyable read. But now I'm googling things like "travel writing workshops."

Expected publication date: April 26, 2016

I received a copy via NetGalley.