In high school and college, I read romance books as a way to escape from all the stress of school and work. Light, fluffy, sweet reads where the main characters end up together were my favorite. Add a little miscommunication into the mix with just a shadow of doubt that the main characters may not end up together, and I’m hooked! When I discover an author who fits my criteria, I gobble up the rest of their books until I’m finished. Mary Kay Andrews has hit the sweet spot for me recently.
Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews is a solid fiction/romance read. Even though this book is considered fiction, there was definitely a strong romance feel to it and I quickly kept reading to see what would happen to all the love interests. I also really enjoyed the fact that there were multiple storylines running concurrently and they were not all mushy, gushy love. I could actually imagine a story like this happening in real life!
Cara Kryzik is a florist in Savannah, Georgia. Having been sold the shop by the previous owner for just $1, Cara is struggling to make ends meet and to break into the wedding scene in this tight-knit, high society area. She even had to get a loan from her father in order to keep the store open, something he brings up in every conversation she has with him. Coming off a fresh divorce, Cara is determined to keep her shop up and running. She may not believe in love, but she believes in beautiful flower arrangements. Cara realizes that it’s all about who you know in this town and keeping those important people happy will lead her to more and more business.
Cara’s luck begins to change once she scores the account to do the flowers for the wedding of a lifetime. She has become the go-to person to do flowers for any society wedding. Everything is peachy! Even though she desperately needs money, Cara still finds the time to help out her high society clients sort of pro-bono and even does flowers at a big discount for some of her poorer clients. She’s even dabbled a bit in wedding planning, helping make sure everything is together and ready for her clients’ big days.
Planning this almost million dollar wedding has put her in the sights of a rival florist who resents Cara for taking what he considers to be his. Add in a man who has stolen her precious goldendoodle, Poppy, and a bride who doesn’t seem all that invested in either planning her wedding or having a huge wedding despite what her step-mother and father want, and Cara finds herself struggling to make sure everyone is happy this wedding season. She must confront her own feelings about love, while working with so many demanding brides and mothers-of-the-bride. This book had me rooting for Cara to finally have no worries and to be stress-free. It’s a great read. Check it out and let me know what you think!
This book is also available in the following formats:
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley deals with tragedy and its aftermath. On a warm, foggy summer night, eleven people board a private jet heading from Martha’s Vineyard to New York. Sixteen minutes later, the plane plunges into the ocean, breaking apart. Two people survive: Scott Burroughs, a down-on-his-luck painter who was invited to fly by the wife of a wealthy media mogul, and a four-year-old boy J.J., the media mogul’s son. Scott swims in freezing cold water to save himself and the boy, his only thoughts on their survival.
Scott is hailed as a hero, but mysteries surround his background and news stations can’t find much information about him. The bodies of the other people on the flight are still missing as news reporters struggle to get the real story and government and investigative officials work to recover the plane’s wreckage. Family, media, money, and conspiracy drama galore rampage through this book, leaving readers on the edge of their seats wondering what really happened and wondering what people’s real motives are.
This book alternates between the present and past, highlighting each person who was on the plane, from the security detail to the pilots, the flight attendant, the media mogul, his wife, and young daughter, as well as a money launderer and his wife. As each character’s introduction and background story are revealed, a web of intrigue, lies, deception, and mystery comes to light. A conspiracy seems to unravel, only fueled by the 24-hour news cycle and the way the media has sensationalized this catastrophe. Everyone is drawing their own false conclusions with what really happened on the plane remaining a mystery as the book goes on.
I listened to this book through OverDrive and greatly enjoyed it. I stayed up way past my bedtime and woke up very early on the weekend to finish it, which is something I only ever do if a book has really captured my interest. The narrator had me hooked by adding in voice inflections and nuances that brought eash character to life. Add in a captivating story and a mystery I didn’t figure out until the very end and I was fully drawn into the world Hawley created from the very beginning.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn completes my mission to read all of Flynn’s work. Living in my own little bublle, I only became aware of Gillian Flynn as an author when Gone Girl became a movie. After it came out on DVD, I quickly checked it out and watched it, which lead me down a quick path to reading everything that Flynn has ever written (I’ve written blog posts about her other works, so search this blog for more info!).
Dark Places is a gripping piece of suspense fiction following the life of Libby Day, a thirty-one year old woman whose mother and two sisters were brutally murdered twenty-five years ago when Libby was just seven years old. Based on her testimony, Libby’s fifteen year old brother Ben was sentenced to prison for life for the murders. After a meeting with her trust fund manager, Libby, who has never worked a day, realizes that the public donations and life insurance money that she has been living off is almost gone. She has no idea what to do next.
A chance phone call from a man named Lyle, who is a member of the Kill Club, proves to be Libby’s somewhat salvation. The Kill Club is a club for people who are obsessed with murders, serial killers, violence, regular killers, and a wide variety of related subjects. She meets with the Kill Club and realizes that she can get them to pay her; the only caveat being that she has to dig into her brother Ben’s case and the murders of her family. Once she starts talking to people and answering the questions the Kill Club has for her, Libby starts questioning if what she thought she saw twenty five years ago was what actually happened. Did Ben really commit those heinous crimes? Or is someone else responsible. This book will have you sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next.
Dark Places was also made into a movie that came out in 2015 starring Charlize Theron as adult Libby Day. The library has this movie available in DVD and Blu-ray.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline is a gut-wrenching book that begins by introducing Jake Whitmore, his son Ryan, and Jake’s wife, Pam. Tensions seem to be running high in the Whitmore family, stemming from Jake’s loss of job a year ago. The family bore the brunt of his frustration and as a result, Ryan distanced himself from his father and became closer with his mother. Jake and Pam went into therapy to rebuild their relationship. Their current focus is on bringing Ryan and Jake closer together.
Jake is sent to pick up Ryan from the movies when they get into a car accident. This accident threatens the stability of their family and the tenuous relationships that hold them all together. Ryan’s future is on the line and in a split-second, Jake makes a decision that saves his son from a disastrous future. While at the time this seems like the best decision, it instead sends them both down a dark spiral of secrets, lies, and immense guilt. Jake thinks he has everything under control, but someone emerges from the woodwork with the power to destroy his carefully laid plans and expose Jake and Ryan’s dark secret. That life changing accident holds the power to destroy all their lives and Jake is struggling to hold the family together. This book is an intensely powerful guilt-laden journey into the lives of a family who are trying to redeem themselves while their whole world is unraveling around them.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke and Hangry by Samantha Jayne is a poetry collection for the disheartened, for the hungry, for the post-college 20-somethings who really thought they would have their life completely together by now. In other words, while reading this book, I felt like it was written for me. This is a book of comedic poetry, one that poses short, amusing, and remarkably light-hearted, sarcastic comments about life that we thought we would have figured out by now.
Samantha Jayne is an actress and writer who lives out in Los Angeles. One of the things she has become famous for are her popular Tumblr and Instagram accounts, Quarter Life Poetry, where she posts snappy four-lined poems about her life as a 20-something post-college. She has poems paired with related images on topics ranging from work, money, sex, life, student loans, love, and any/every other challenge that people going through life post-college are faced with on a daily basis.
Jayne’s poetry really captures what it’s like when you find out that yet another one of your friends in pregnant while you’re just trying to keep a plant alive, how you feel trying to pay off your student loans while working a 40 hour a week job that doesn’t allow for much of a social life, and also how it feels to be stuck in a dating scene with what seems like the less than desirables right after college. Jayne perfectly illustrates the fact that students in college think life post-college is glamorous, when in reality, the post-college adults know that being in your 20s is really all about just trying to find yourself amongst piles of student loan debt, cheap take-out, and the more-than-occasional trip to the store to buy more wine. While this book was marketed towards post-college 20-somethings, it is a quick, short read that people of all ages can enjoy as they reminisce on their post-college life.
How far would you be willing to go to keep your family together? To get your dream house? To provide a life for your children that you never had? Would you hunt for your dream job? Would you steal? Would you jeopardize your own future to make sure your children have whatever they want? All of these are questions that Sophie Potter has to deal with in Sonya Cobb’s new novel, The Objects of Her Affection.
In The Objects of Her Affection, Sophie finds herself home alone with two young children, wanting to give them the house and the childhood that she never had growing up. She bounced from apartment to apartment as a child, moving when her mother found new work. After her father figure died, her mother skipped town, leaving Sophie to fend for herself.
With her husband ensconced and buried within his work as a museum curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and with her own career at a standstill after the birth of their two children, Sophie finds herself floundering for support and yet in charge of all the bills and the family’s well-being. After she finds her dream house and convinces her husband of its potential worth, he leaves her in charge of figuring out the whole mortgage and loan business. After signing up for what she believes to be the best offer, Sophie soon realizes that that deal was too good to be true after notices and bills keep showing up at her door, she actually can’t afford the mortgage payment each month, and the business can’t track down who actually owns her loan.
Frustrated, she visits her husband at work to tell him about the mess she’s in and accidentally slips a piece of museum property in her purse. Not wanting to get him into trouble, she decides to sell the piece. Shocked at the amount of money she gets, Sophie sees that she can afford to keep up on all of the bills using that money without having to tell her husband about the mess she has put them in. Sneaking more objects out of her husband’s office gives her a thrill and a sense of satisfaction that she has been missing since the birth of her children, but once the museum realizes pieces are missing and the FBI comes to interview everyone, Sophie is forced to make a choice between telling the truth and keeping her dream afloat by stealing yet another museum piece. The Objects of Her Affection gives readers an up-close look at the lengths people will go through to keep their families together, just how dangerous keeping secrets can be, and how giving up is never an option.
In The Making of the Mob: New York, AMC has created an eight-part docu-drama series that begins in 1905 and traces the rise of the American Mafia for over fifty years. This series examines the lives of Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Frank Costello, Vito Genovese, and several other notorious gangsters as they all struggle for power when the mafia starts becoming more organized. The amount of attention to detail that went into the establishment of the five major heads of the family, also known as the Commission, and Murder, Inc., the group of Jewish hitmen who killed around 1,000 people in ten years, shows that the new mobsters rising up in the ranks were definitely looking to run the mafia as more of a business with set consequences and an elected representative board.
This docu-drama looks into the five main families of the American Mafia and goes into great detail showing how organized crime came to exist and flourish in America. What I found to be the most intriguing part of this series was that it included interviews from former politicians, mobsters, actors, and other influential people, as well as actual archival footage and sound recordings of the actual mobsters alongside the actors’ dramatic interpretations of what was happening. The inclusion of actual footage and interviews really drew me into this docu-drama and had me fully invested in the lives of the mobsters, the shady deals they were doing, and the specific individuals and governmental organizations who were working to bring down the American mafia.
Spend-A-Little Save-A-Lot Home Improvements by Brad Staggs walks homeowners through a list of preventative and money-saving improvements that can be done for little amounts of money throughout the home. The tips and tricks he offers throughout the book range from fixing a sticky door to checking and replacing air filters to wrapping a water heater.
Staggs recognizes that being a homeowner can turn costly quickly especially when the cost of hiring a repairman or even the cost of buying the materials and doing the home repairs by yourself keeps rising. Doing the preventative maintenance that he outlines will help you in the long run and will make your home more energy efficient and sufficient. Staggs provides step-by-step instructions paired with pictures highlighting each to help you do the repair yourself.
Check out this book to learn many money-saving and energy-efficient ways to help you get the most of the home you already enjoy.
What do you do if you want to really understand a country, to understand its people and feel its heartbeat? You can follow the rest of the tourists, or you can take the advice of Watergate reporter Bob Woodward’s source, ‘Deep Throat’, and ‘follow the money.’
Starting out in Lebanon, Kansas – the geographical center of America – journalist Steve Boggan did just that in Follow the Money by setting free a ten-dollar-bill and accompanying it on an epic journey for thirty days and thirty nights through six states, across 3,000 miles armed only with a sense of humor and a small, and increasingly grubby, set of clothes. As he cuts crops with farmers in Kansas, pursues a repo-woman from Colorado, gets wasted with a blues band in Arkansas and hangs out at a quarterback’s mansion in St Louis, Boggan enters the lives of ordinary people as they receive – and pass on – the bill. What emerges is a chaotic, affectionate and funny portrait of the real modern-day America. (description from publisher)
The Quad Cities is celebrating Money Smart Week April 18-25th. Besides the multitude of informational programs being offered throughout the week, you can also get more in-depth suggestions from current materials at the library.
In this struggling economy, the Penny Pincher’s Almanac by Reader’s Digest may be just the ticket for many of us. Presented in the typically quick and clever digest style, it’s full of easily accessible ideas.
Who isn’t interested in money? In Greenback: the Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America by Jason Goodwin, the author explains how “money has always been at the heart of the American experience. ”
For practical points on getting out of debt, try Girl, Get Your Credit Straight! by Glinda Bridgforth. The book is organized to encourage readers to get their priorities straight and to plan their spending. It also has ideas on ways to increase one’s income.
Be sure to check out all the events sponsered by the Davenport Library this week including supermarket shopping and budgeting tips as well as a Community Shred Day at the Fairmount Library on Saturday, April 25.