Paris Times Three

I’m showcasing three fabulous books that take place in Paris. Two are luscious memoirs, one is a mystery.

Kristen Beddard

Bonjour Kale

Oui, oui, this delightful cover invites you to turn the pages and enjoy the story of one woman’s experience moving to Paris and marrying the love of her life. What’s kale got to do with it? Plenty. There was no kale in Paris…

Craig Carlson

Pancakes In Paris

More food; in Paris:)Craig opens an American Diner in Paris.  How unlikely, you might say.  After moving from U.S. with no prior restaurant experience, this is how Craig made a rollicking success of breakfast the American way. It takes passion.

Mark Pryor

The Paris Librarian

One of a series of mysteries set in Paris. Hugo Marsten is on the hunt to find out who killed his fried Paul Rogers who is found deader than a door nail in a locked room in the American Library in Paris. And he’s off and running once again, through the amazing streets of the City Of Light.

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman

Leave Me

Ambushed. That’s what I was yesterday. I picked up LEAVE ME, by Gayle Forman, from the library. Read it in one day. That is unusual for me. But I found myself so absorbed in this first adult novel that I simply could not and would not put it down.

“For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for anyone who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention, here is Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins she doesn’t even realize that she’s had a heart attack.”

Why was this novel so compelling for me, you might ask? Well, it reminded me of how under-appreciated many working moms truly are. After all, it’s the moms who are expected to do it “all.” And I do mean all. All is not what it even was when I was a young mother raising three children. We didn’t have the events that kids have now. And we certainly did not have play dates. For heaven’s sake. Kids went out to play; period:) The pressure just was not the same. So when I saw what was going on with Maribeth right from the get-go, something snapped inside me. I was in for the count.

My daughter is a working mother of two incredible kids. She works full-time outside the home, then comes home and works more full-time on her blog, and she cooks dinner, packs lunches, grocery shops, and cleans her house. Plus, she has a husband who also works. And he’s pretty good about helping out. Still, it’s amazing what she accomplishes.  But it’s not without it’s downfalls. I know she could use more me-time.

So Maribeth is a working mom of twins aged four. Boy and girl. Sweet little things. But very needy and demanding.  Jason, Maribeth’s busy husband, works full-time at a job with the music industry in NYC.  That’s where they live. Expensive place to live. But they love living in the city. The story sets us up pretty well. Lots of stress right off the bat trying to get everything done. And Maribeth is feeling less than stellar.  No one seems to care. Everyone is living in their own small world. Well, she’s having a heart attack at the age of 44.

I will not give stuff away about this novel. It would be so easy to do this. But, let’s just say Maribeth does not get the back up and the care she truly needs here. So she makes a decision to do something rash to say the least.

I can’t help but wonder how many women have ever contemplated this move when things got so tough. I will say that it crossed my mind, but that is all it did. Fantasy is not a bad thing.  What Maribeth does is shocking, but I see why she did it.

The grass is sometimes greener on the other side of the fence, but maybe not for long.  I can’t relate to Maribeth’s decision, however, most of us have had times in our lives where we were at crossroads. That is what this is. She totally felt as if she would die if she did not do this thing.

The story is so compelling. It’s a quick and easy read.  Forman was a teen author before tip-toeing into the adult genre. You can tell that. But it’s okay by me. Her characters are all far from perfect. Her adopted mother is a piece of work. Oh, did I not tell you she is adopted. That comes into play bigtime.

Kirkus says, ” An appealing fairy tale for the  exhausted and underappreciated .” But, like I said, it’s just a fantasy for most women…

For those of you with working daughters with young families, and those daughters themselves, this is your book. This is a story you can fit in because you will devour it like a piece of cake. I immediately emailed my daughter and told her to put it on her TBR list RIGHT NOW.

Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman

LEAVE ME by Gayle Forman was published by Algonquin Books earlier this month. It’s unputdownable!

Two Winners

Anne-Marie Casey

The Real Liddy James

I have two lucky winners for THE REAL LIDDY JAMES by Anne-Marie Casey. Congratulations go out to Pat Impens and Elliot Bencan. I will send out emails to confirm and have you send your mailing addresses.

Thanks everyone for your comments. More giveaways are on their way now that the season is a coming.

And the biggest thanks goes out to Putnam for supplying the books. Thanks guys.

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Great American Novel

The Nix

THE NIX by Nathan Hill has an interesting cover.  This is how we dressed when I was a teenager. This was my time. ( late 1960’s)

The Packer Attacker strikes in late summer 2011. She’s  a middle-aged woman who bombards a governor with rocks which really turn out to be just gravel.  But it’s an attack and the video goes viral. Who is she really? She’s someone’s mother, that’s who. And that someone is Samuel Andresen-Anderson who has been searching relentlessly for her for twenty years when she walked out of the house never to be seen or heard from again…

THE NIX could be the next great American novel. It’s vast and deals with political satire. Since this is a big election year, it is getting attention. Also, the author has hit the nail on the head, a lot. Nathan Hill spent a big part of his forty years working on this labor of love and wit. And he’s done a good job.  Maybe it didn’t have to be so long… Definitely not that. But the entertainment value itself is worth the read.

Samuel Andresen-Anderson finds out about this attack when the  phone rings and his mother’s lawyer is on the other end. He’s got a question for Samuel. Now, keep in mind that Samuel has no idea where his mother is, let alone that she has just committed a crime and is in big trouble. So when he is asked to be a character witness for his mother who he has not seen or heard from since he was eleven, he freaks out.

When Samuel finds out he is going to be sued by his publisher, he decides to go to his mother and question her about everything. After all, he’s still curious, but he needs to make the money he is being offered for this information. You see, his publisher has decided to extend him credit if he gives his name and info to the next big book which would be all about the story behind the Packer Attacker: told by the son. ( Samuel never wrote the book he promised the publisher and that is why he is being sued. )

There are chapters about the video game Samuel and one other insignificant character play. I found myself even confused at first. But ended up mainly skimming over these parts. I know my adult sons love these games and would enjoy this, but, not me. I found it to be a bit distracting, actually. I missed none of the important parts.

So this is a mother/son saga of sorts. It’s a saga alright. It takes us all over the place, even to Norway where Samuel’s grandfather was from.  And the title name Nix is explained.  We discover that Faye’s family ghost has crippled her future.

In this election year we are experiencing all the crazy that goes along with it, and then some.  In THE NIX we live through the Chicago protests of 1968. I remember those.  Too well.  The hippie unrest.  Peace and love. Drugs and drop outs. I lived through this era and Hill has done a good job of capturing it.

This smart satiric novel has its moments of greatness. And it can be very witty. However, Hill has crammed into every nook and corner every single thing he seemingly ever knew or wanted you to know. It’s too much.  But it’s smart.

I’m not sure the end is worth the means, though. Still, I’m really glad I read it and will be bringing it on my lectures this season. Good one for discussion.

Faye does have one very important thing to say: ” The things you love the most can hurt you the most.”  Period.

Author

Nathan Hill ( Michael Lionstar)

My finished hard copy of THE NIX by Nathan Hill arrived from Knopf publishing in exchange for an honest review. I really liked the book. I think Mr. Hill has great potential. I look forward to his sophomore attempt. Nathan Hill will be at Barnes & Noble in Naples, Florida ( where he resides) Monday, September 19, at seven in the evening to sign and discuss his new novel.

Giveaway! The Real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey

Anne-Marie Casey

The Real Liddy James

In this first novel from Anne-Marie Casey, we find Liddy James, thinking that maybe, just maybe, women really can have it all. After all, she’s a high-powered divorce lawyer living and working in NYC. She feels pretty omnipotent.

THE REAL LIDDY JAMES is written with a great amount of wit and a lot of heart. Liddy is ambitious.  When she’s faced with living a totally unorthodox life she takes it all on. For a while. But, then it all begins to fall apart around her. Her ex-husband and his partner become pregnant and part of the household. The household contains Liddy’s two already troubled kids. Oh, and I almost forgot; Liddy is also a bestselling author.  She truly is a modern day superwoman, until she’s not. And then there’s Ireland…

I have TWO copies for giveaway! How cool is that. Please leave a comment below. That will enter you to win. Please, only U.S. addresses, and no P.O. boxes. I will choose one winner on Monday, September 19. Good luck, you all!

Carl Hiaasen Answers Some Questions About Razor Girl

Razor Girl

Carl Hiaasen

Q. There’s a very, um, interesting fender bender that kicks off RAZOR GIRL–what inspired it? Even by your standards it’s out there.

A. Years ago there was a car accident in the Florida Keys involving a woman who was shaving her “bikini area” while driving down U.S. Highway One. Apparently this is just as dangerous as texting while driving. One of my sons sent me the newspaper story and I spent a long time trying to figure out how to tastefully work the concept into a novel. So, that’s how RAZOR GIRL starts.

Q. The book revolves around some of your wildest characters to date. Let’s start with Merry Mansfield, the Razor Girl herself. She’s relentless, hilarious, and disarmingly charming. What made you want to base a novel around a female character like her?

A. I’ve always liked strong female characters who were smarter than the men in their lives–Erin in STRIP TEASE, JoLayne in LUCKY YOU, Honey Santana in NATURE GIRL, to name a few. But I’d have to say Merry Mansfield is my new favorite. She’s cool, very clever and totally unflappable. As I was writing this book she did all kinds of wild things to surprise me, which made it fun.

Q. Buck Nance is a redneck reality star in the Duck Dynasty mold, and a total fraud. What inspired you to write about such a character, and what do you make of the fact that, as you write in the novel, the “election of a black president brought a boom in TV reality shows featuring feisty rednecks”?

A. Being from the South, I’m fascinated by American’s fascination with redneck culture. I mean, one of the Duck Dynasty dudes spoke at the Republican convention! That sort of thing makes the job of a satirist extremely challenging, because how can you improve on real life when it’s reached this level of absurdity?

Q. Florida’s eroding shoreline plays a role here-one of the characters, Martin Trebeaux, is the owner of a company called “Sedimental Journeys” which supplies sand to replenish beaches( in his case, by stealing from other beaches). With sea levels rising, is this a growing business opportunity for your fellow statesmen?

A. The business of “beach renourishment”-which sounds more eco-friendly than “beach replacement”-has been around for decades in Florida and other coastal states. Beachfront property is the most valuable real-estate, so huge sums are expended to stop natural erosion. Which, of course, can’t be stopped. And now, with climate change, the process has been accelerated and the shorelines are receding faster than ever. Trebeaux’s problem is finding enough clean white sand to replace what’s being lost, so he simply starts swiping it from other beaches. It seems like a perfect Florida Scam, and I’m sure somebody’s already doing it in real life.

Q. Andre Yancey returns in RAZOR GIRL, though he’s still trying to work his way back into the good graces of the sheriff and get off of roach patrol. This time, the restaurant pests are Gambian rats, which  you say in the author’s note are real. Ever seen one in the flesh? Where and when?

A. I’ve never seen a giant Gambian pouched rat in the Keys, but they are definitely real. Somebody was breeding them as pets, and then set them loose. I’d love to see one in the flesh, if the pythons don’t find them first.

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Carl Hiaasen is one of the funniest guys I know.  And then you have Dave Barry with his new book, BEST STATE EVER.  He writes about some of this stuff that Hiaasen brings up in his book. And he expands on it. Really. And Dave’s is all non-fiction….

If you’re up for laughing your head off, get yourself a copy of RAZOR GIRL and BEST STATE EVER.

The Couple Next Door or Gone Baby Gone….

The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door

Ever since THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN became an international thriller, readers have been on the hunt for the next “train” book. This just might be it for you…

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, begins brilliantly with a start reminiscent of a shot out of a cannon. I was immediately hooked. I didn’t intend to be. I am not a fan of missing babies. Babies kidnapped. They may be killed. No fan of this type of thriller. However, having said this, I found this book utterly compelling right off the bat.

Anne and Marco Conti have been invited next door to a dinner party by their neighbors. They share a wall for heaven’s sake. They have consigned a sitter for their six-month-old baby girl, Cora. But, when the sitter cancels at the last second, they make a decision they will forever regret. They take the baby monitor along and leave the baby alone in the house. After all, they are only next door. The baby is sleeping. And they can hear anything that goes on through the very reliable monitor. Sure. You see what is going to happen, don’t you! After bouts of guilt and feelings of jealousy get the best of Anne she and her drunk husband toddle on home. You see, the woman next door has been shamelessly flirting with Marco, and Anne who is dealing with a bitter dose of postpartum depression has had enough of it! But more guilt awaits. And plenty of mystery as we delve deeply into the lives of all these  people and their families. Who is the guiltiest of them all?

My husband almost knocked me down to get his hands on this book after seeing the blurb written by Lee Child. Child says real men read women writers because of books like this. That’s huge…. Husband read the book in two sittings which is unheard of for him. He loved it! It was hard for him NOT to tell me all about it. It was killing him.

author

Shari Lapena

Although the novel begins with a bang, straight out of the box, and it kept me turning the pages at breakneck speed, the ending was a bit of a disappointment. I hate saying this but, it is so. However, I will say that I look forward to another thriller by Shari. What’s up next, girl?

My finished copy came from Viking in exchange for an honest review. I think you can say I really liked the book! Thanks guys.