Still Me by Jo Jo Moyes


Jo Jo Moyes had me with Me Before You all those years ago… the follow up of After You did not spark such a light in me, but held me for what I think turned out to be this moment… this moment where Jo Jo Moyes once again blows my mind and this time… I felt strongly connected to Louisa and fully got what she was doing in Will’s memory.  Smoking hot 3rd in this series do not pass go – THIS IS THE BOOK TO READ.  ~Sheila

 

In Still Me, Louisa Clark has taken on a job as an assistant to the wife of a well to do family in New York.  At first Louisa is unsure what her role will be and why a woman of Agnus’ status needs someone to be with her all day but very soon this is all made crystal clear.  Agnus, the 2nd wife to the very rich Mr. Gopnik is having a hard time keeping up with her expected status.  She has not made friends with those that fall into the first Mrs. Gopnik’s circles, and has nothing in common with her friends she had before she was given everything she could have ever dreamed.

As if that is not enough, Louisa is also struggling being away from her boyfriend Sam the paramedic who is still back at home while she seeks for her calling in New York.  When an attractive woman is partnered with Sam, things become even more difficult, and when a good looking guy who looks much like Will starts flirting with Louisa – well… there is much to sort out as Louisa learns that not all is as it seems at face value and the only way to your goals – is to start by taking a hard look at yourself.

Insert wow here.  Maybe it was the fact that I read this on vacation in St Lucia….  but I don’t think so.  Still Me wowed me.  And honestly it wowed me because some of the quotes or memories Louisa has of Will… hit me right in the heart – to the point I decided  that Louisa and I were in a way, kindred spirits, both trying to do the right thing while honoring and remembering someone who lived so large… it is incredibly hard to feel the space they left behind.

Like Louisa, I am still willing to try.

…briefly, I understood what Will was trying to explain to me two years previously:  for those few moments, my mouth full of unfamiliar food, my eyes filled with strange sights, I existed only in the moment.  I was fully present, my senses alive. my whole being open to receive the new experiences around me.  page 11…

Seriously… the wisdom in Jo Jo’s words…. you can find MUCH of it in all her books..

When people we love die young it’s a nudge, reminding us that we shouldn’t take any of it for granted, that we have a duty to make the most of what we have.  I feel like I finally get that.  ~Louisa Clark Still Me

Bottom line, if you loved Me Before You – you will LOVE this book as well.  It left me wanting more of Louisa Clark…  and I hope we do see her again.

 

My reviews of:

Me Before You
After You

Interview With The Vampire by Ann Rice

Ann Rice has been on my hit list for quite a while.  She feels to me like one of those authors you should experience at least once.  I tried reading this one a long time ago and it didn’t take.   For Christmas, one of my friends sent me her beautiful copy of the Vampire Chronicles so  could give it another try as she said I must.  Wanting to read the book, as well as the beauty of the book and gesture brought me to this moment… where I can tell you – yes, read Interview With The Vampire.  ~Sheila

 

As the book begins, Daniel Malloy is set to interview the vampire named Louis.  Louis is wanting to share his life story from the time he was human and the details surrounding his change as well as the time and events that followed.  Daniel, nervous (as one would expect) yet excited for this opportunity, records the telling.  Louis shares his life from human form, to the events surrounding his change and the time and happenings that followed.

 

The copy I received form my friend Amanda
The copy I received form my friend Amanda

It’s still a little hard for me to explain all that this book is even though I finished it a few days ago.  I always have enjoyed reading stories that are not a cookie cutter outline of other stories and this one certainly fits the breaking the mold description.  Ann Rice’s idea to write a book about a vampire sharing his life (and death) story is in my opinion, brilliant.  I devoured the book.

I preferred Louis to the Vampire Lestat, not only because it is Louis’ story – but that Louis still for the most part, maintains some feelings for the preciousness of human life and does not (for the most part) use his new ways for evil.  I think that helped me ease into this book, knowing that Louis still maintained somewhat of a heart and feelings.

I found the book to me enlightening. Once into it – I could not put it down.  I wanted to know what would happen to all of them involved and in the end…  it was somewhat sad.

My rule on spoilers is you need them if the book is less than 20 years old and not well-known you dont allow them in a review.  In this case, I feel it is safe to say that I wish Louis would have found love and I hoped he would in Claudia, or in Armand, and I was saddened that as much as he wished to find others like himself, when he did, he found them wanting and for the most part – lived a life of solidarity pushing others who cared for him away.

Overall, I enjoyed this read and I am glad I finally read it.  There are three books within the book I was given – The Vampire Lestat is the second and Queen of the Dammed is the third.  While I am taking a break from them at the moment, I do plan to one day return to this book and read on.

 

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green w/ Bookies Book Club Review


Ahhh John Green… you are one of those authors that can do no wrong.  When I hear you have a book coming out my spidey senses tingle and I eagerly await the release date to see what brilliance you are going to add to my life as well as how the tears will this time form in my eyes.  ~Sheila

 

16-year-old Aza is constantly in a battle with her own mind… germs, ways to die, diseases occupy her thoughts beyond her control.  She is trying so hard to be like everyone else but if they only knew.

When her friend Davis’s billionaire dad disappears and there is a hundred thousand dollar reward on the line, Aza’s best friend Daisy is eager to get involved solve what happened and claim that reward.  Imagine what they could do with that kind of money!  Aza wants to be a part of it all despite all that goes on within her, and doesn’t it just feel good to be of something?

A long time ago I was told that when someone reads John Green, their first John Green will be their favorite.  I will never know if that is true as my first John Green was The Fault In The Stars and yup – that was my favorite.  I have since read all of his books and still feel while they are good, nothing has come close to The Fault In The Stars.

Coincidence?

I still hold to that after reading Turtles All The Way Down.  The book is good, it is a John Green after all which is like owning something classy and name brand, like “OOOH… is that a John Green?”    Yet my thoughts, as well as my book club who recently read it, is there is no big WOW.  Much happens, and perhaps this one is sadder in its own way as a John Green book goes – and plenty to think about – yet left none of us with a big WHOA.

Should you read it?  Yes.  If you have liked John Green in the past, or even if you are new to John Green – yes.  It is after all a John Green… it is deep, it is about young adults, and it hold its worth, for me however it landed as an average read.

In Bookies fashion of course we had food for our review… there were plenty of Turtle candies, a mock turtle soup, and extras.  One of the girls even made turtle bars… gooey caramel and chocolate… need I say more?

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

This book hit the spot and was the right mix of quirky crazy physiological craziness to make me laugh and cringe and SOOOOO glad I chose this book as my first book of the year.  ~Sheila

 

Paul Strom is so excited.  He is finally getting away for a lovely weekend with his wife Mia.  She has not been feeling well lately and Paul feels that perhaps this break from the pressures of running a household, working and their children has been perhaps a little too much for her lately.  This day- THIS DAY, will be the best day ever.

Yet things are not as they seem.  Mia seem out of sorts and edgy, and Paul is having interference from people calling him that know they should not be calling him.  He has already gone over this.  How can he keep their day on track and keep it the best day ever?  And in they could just get to their special place, so he can give Mia the special surprise he has awaiting for her.  She will be so surprised!

 

Oh I needed this.  I absolutely loved listening to YOU by Caroline Kepnes  and reading this synopsis made me wonder if lighting could possibly strike twice.  The answer, is awfully darn close.  While Paul does not quite hit the craziness level of Joe in YOU and Hidden Bodies, he sure is a good runner up.

I devoured this book.  I could not get enough of the story line and where it was going.  I wanted badly to know what was going to happen.  Paul made me laugh and he made me think…  professional crazy at its finest.

If you love a good physiological thriller, that is not over the top graphic or gory – this book is one to try.  An absolute delight on audio – Graham Halstead (Narrator),‎ Amy McFadden (Narrator) nailed it. 

 

 

 

The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens


Allen Eskens is a Minnesota gem.  His works are drawing attention all over and he is not only a best seller but has won many awards for his writing.  I am thrilled to have met him in New York at the Book Expo and he and his lovely wife attended Wine and Words in 2016.  He is an author I watch to see what he will put to paper next.  His first book, The Life We Bury was a delight to review with The Bookies.

~Sheila

Boady Sanden has happily enjoyed his retirement, that is until his friend Ben Pruitt shows up on his doorstep broken and grieving announcing that his wife, Jennavieve has just been murdered and he, Ben, is considered a suspect.  Boady, who still carries guilt over an innocent client from years ago feels this may be his chance to lift the burden a little and agrees to come out of retirement and represent Ben.

Detective Max Rupert is friends with Boady but does not share in Boady’s strong belief that Ben is innocent.  Max, carrying the weight on his own wife’s murder 4 years earlier, finds that Ben’s situation is stirring things in him that have never been resolved.

In a case that has friends on opposite ends of the court room, Boady and Max agree to disagree as both men work to unravel the mystery surrounding Jennavieve’s untimely death.  What will be the final verdict for all involved?

As I mentioned, you don’t have to sell me on an Allen Eskens book.  Lets just say, you had me at Esken’s.  I listened to this one on audio while painting my office recently and the story line, smooth narration by R. C. Bray (Narrator),‎ David Colacci (Narrator),‎ Amy McFadden (Narrator) was the perfect mix.  Nothing makes a project go by smoother than great audio.

I loved it.  The twists the turns had me all the way through… just when I thought I knew.. BAH.  I knew nothing.

Note:  You meet Boady and Max in The Life We Bury, although you do not need to have read The Life We Bury to dig into this read.  In fact for myself, I had forgotten that I had met these two men in a previous book with over a year for me between the reads.  I do however recommend you read this one before you read Esken’s next book, The Deep Dark Descending. 

In DDD, you really follow Max Rupert down a rabbit hole and I feel you need The Heavens May Fall to grasp where Max is at.  I have two friends (well I have a few more but this scenario is about two of them…) one read them as I suggested here and LOVED Deep Dark Descending. The one who read Deep Dark Descending without reading this one first found it to be dark, and did not fully grasp how Max Rupert came to be where he is in that book. 

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Just when you think you know what you know that you know….  you discover…  you know nothing at all….  ~Sheila

When Ted Severson meets the lovely Lily Kinter at an airport bar after the flight they are both on has been delayed, Ted shares that his wife Miranda is having an affair with the contractor building their new home.  A nonchalant conversation follows, and Ted having had more than a few drinks tells Lily almost jokingly, that he would like to kill his wife.  Lily, says if he is serious, she would help him.

The two part ways but make a plan to meet up in the future at a set location if Ted is serious about killing his wife.  No judgement if either changes their mind and does not show.

They both show up.

 

I like a good mystery…. especially this time of year when the weather is cooler and a comfy chair, blanket, and a hot beverage call my name.  Curling up with a good book is a pleasure to all readers…  finding the right book, that can be another story…

The Kind Worth Killing was the right story.  I loved the format of alternating chapters between Lily and Tom.  The story unfold both backwards and forwards as you learn of what is true of the past as well as the present.  I want to tell you so much more but I am afraid to let any of this amazing book leak into my review.

Simply said –  if you love a book with multiple twists and turns … one that makes you think you got it… then shocks you when you don’t… one that surprises you long before the book is over…

I suggest giving this book a try.  I am looking to read more from this author.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

7

Sam and Clementine would define their life as full and satisfying.  They have two beautiful little girls and a life that works for them.  Sam is just starting a new job and Clementine is rehearsing for a cellist position that would be the job offer of a lifetime.

Erika is Clementines oldest friend dating back to grade school.  The two know each other so well, but if Clementine were honest… she isn’t always sure why she is Erika’s friend.  The start of their friendship still seeming a bit forced on her…..

When a barbecue invite by neighbors comes to Sam and Clementine as well as Erika and her husband, Clementine think s it is a brilliant idea.  After all the neighbors Vid and Tiffany are larger than life people who know how to entertain.  It might just be fun to get everyone together.

Two months later Sam and Clementine can barely stand to be in the same room together.  They both question everything….  and they mostly question….  what if they hadn’t gone to the barbecue?

 

I love me some Liane Moriarty.  I can add that I especially love her books on audio – they are a treat to listen to and this one was exceptional.  Narrator Caroline Lee nails it with the fun diverse personalities and voices of the characters of Truly, Madly, Guilty.  (You are going to LOVE Vid!).  The enticing way she made her way through his book just added to my enjoyment of the story line.

Secrets kept, false truths… and all through the book as the tale unwinds I kept asking, “What the heck happened at that BBQ?”  This book really does cover the choices we make can alter our worlds forever.

Thoroughly enjoyed.

 

  • 7aListening Length: 17 hours and 27 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 26, 2016

 

Here’s To Us by Elin Hilderbrand

7

Laurel Thorpe, a quiet natural beauty.  Belinda Rowe, a gorgeous well-known movie actress.  Scarlett Oliver an exotic eye-popping long-legged pretty girl.  All three women have two things in common.  1.  Their love of Deacon Thorpe.  2  Their loathing of one another.

All three are remarkable intelligent women who at one time were married to the famous chef, Deacon Thorpe.  They have made a career out of avoiding one another.  All of this comes to a screeching halt when Deacon is found dead and one of his final wishes is for all three women with his children come to the home on Nantucket to pay their final respects to this man.

Now all three women are trapped in the ransacked home on Nantucket that Deacon so dearly loved.  Left to face each other with all the secrets they each hold.

Over one long weekend in Nantucket the drama will reach a wave crashing level, there will be anger, and shouting, and tears… but in the end their will also be laughter and memories shared of the man who stole each of their hearts and how he did it.

 

9
June 2016 – Chicago Book expo – Elin Hilderbrand was signing this book and with every book you get a Corona… Hilderbrand tradition 🙂

It is no secret that I adore Elin Hilderbrand’s books.  Her writing of strong female friendships and Nantucket always feel like a familiar path that I am happy to travel.  After a busy summer of not as much reading as I had hoped, this book was toxic for me.  I did not want to stop listening (audio).  I LOVED the narration of Erin Bennett (who read many of Hilderbrand’s novels).  Erin maneuvers around that many voices of the Nantucket cottage with ease, I could easily flow from one person to the next and know exactly who was talking.

I would not be doing this review justice if I did not talk about the food.  Foodies alert!  The food mentioned in the book (along with a few recipes too!) is mouth-watering.  Each time they mentioned a specialty of Deacon’s restaurant I wanted to make it.  I already plan to nominate this book for our book club choice so we can talk about the crazy characters and make the delicious food.

Over all… this book was a fun summerish win for me.  I really enjoyed the story line, the back and forth as you learn of each woman’s relationship with the man we only get to know after he is gone… and in the end.. in the end…  hearing what happened that last day….

powerful way to close the story that’s all I can say about that.  Don’t miss this treat of a read.

 

 

  • Audio CD
  • Listening Length: 12 hours and 30 minutes
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; Unabridged edition (June 14, 2016)
  • Language: English

 

 

 

 

 

The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich

stephanie evanovich, book journey, the total package

Tyson Palmer has the world by the tail.   He has a winning arm, a promising football career, and is on track for that Super Bowl ring.  And then, with an addiction to alcohol and pain killers and a night that throws his marriage and career  away…

Tyson is at rock bottom.

Then, the owner of the Austin Mavericks makes Tyson an offer he can not refuse, he will be sent to a private rehab, get cleaned up of all his addictions, then go to a personal trainer to get him back on his game and make the come back of a lifetime as a Maverick player bringing them to the Super Bowl.  Tyson has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

When Tyson Palmer emerges back on his game, he is in the best shape of his life both mentally and physically.  He is determined to make the best of what he has been given.  Yet a blast from the past has the potential of derailing everything.  Dani Carr is a top reporter and working her way into playing with the big boys.  She also knows Tyson a little too well from a night of passion back in College where he left her without so much as a word before daybreak the next morning.  Now forced to work together, Tyson has to admit Dani looks better than ever, and Dani has to keep her guard up and keep her eye on her journalistic goals.

 

 

I do enjoy a good Stephanie Evanovich read so I jumped at the chance to read this one.  When I read the synopsis I was at first thinking it all sounded a little predictable, of course I thought, Tyson and Dani will wind up together and this book is just about the how.  I was thrilled to discover there was more meat to this read than I had initially anticipated.

The Total Package, really was just that, the total package.  Tyson is an interesting protagonist and I enjoyed the detailed process of his come back. I even may have learned a little about football. Dani was a bit back and forth and confused me when one thing was said and then it changed but honestly, Tyson was written so well that I can overlook that – and in the end…

well.  You are just going to have to read it.  Let me just say….. Winner Winner – chicken and brown rice dinner!

UPDATE:  A little update to my post as I see comments are thinking that this author is the author of the Stephanie Plum books…. one for the money, etc….  Stephanie Evanovich is being mistaken for Janet Evanovich (the more well known of the Evanovich’s).  Janet is actually  Stephanie’s Aunt — as Janet is married to Stephanie’s father’s brother.

Hope that helps 🙂  While I have read both authors, I have not read Janet Evanovich’s books for years and Stephanie has a different writing style which I found that I personally prefer.

 

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (March 15, 2016)

 

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 
Author Links: Website and Facebook
I enjoyed going through rehab with Tyson thanks to TLC Book Tours!
TLC Host

 

 

The EX by Alafair Burke

the ex, alafair burke, book journey

Jack Harris has avoided even thinking about dating ever since his wife Molly was shot and killed by a teenage boy three years ago.  Yet, one early morning while jogging he comes across a bare foot beautiful woman wearing a party dress sitting in the grass drinking champagne right out of the bottle and reading a book.  She holds the bottle up in a cheers motion, as he jogs by.  Unable to get the image out of his head, Jack shares this experience with his best friend who posts about it on-line hoping someone would be able to know who this woman is and connect her to Jack.  Days later, the mysterious woman responds to the on-line post, and a meet up with Jack is planned.

Olivia Randall is a Defense Lawyer.  When she hears that her former fiance Jack Harris has been arrested for  triple murder she knows there is no way that Jack could be guilty of such a crime.  Clearly Jack has been set up.  But by who?  And why?

Olivia chooses to represent Jack to make up for the way things had ended between them so many years ago.   Yet as the evidence comes out, there is more and more that looks like Jack may have committed this crime.  Is Olivia able to defend Jack if she is starting to have her doubts?  And if he did do it, did she ever really know him at all?

 

 

The EX was full of surprises for me.  I liked the synopsis and the set up of the mystery woman in a party dress in the early morning hours.  The book held my interest as it reveals the history between him and Olivia and what had happened three years before when his wife was killed.  For myself, I honestly did not have a clue how it was going to end or who was the murderer. The story line was fast paced and for me, time well spent.

I recommend The EX.  It was a good book to sink into.  An excellent legal thriller.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)