Saturday, October 3, 2015

Tonight the Streets Are Ours (Book Review)

Title: Tonight the Streets Are Ours
Author: Leila Sales
Publication: Farrar Straus Giroux
Genre: YA Fiction
Plot: Arden is that rarest of things – a selfless teenager – but it is stressful to be surrounded by a host of selfish people: her parents (including her mother who just walked out on the family), her boyfriend, and her best friend Lindsey. Wearied by the people in her life who take and offer nothing back, Arden finds escape by reading the blog of a young New Yorker. Naturally, his life seems more interesting and more perfect than her own, so when everything seems to go wrong in her small town of x, Arden impulsively heads to New York to find the blogger, with her friend Lindsey in tow. As in all quests, not everything one finds turns out to be exactly what one sought...

Audience: Fans of YA authors such as Sarah Dessen, Susane Colasanti, and Sara Zarr
Leila's Booksigning
What I liked: Each of Sales’ four books is very different but friendship and loyalty play an important role in each. This Song Will Save Your Life, her third book, is a unique blend of darkness and irrepressible humor. I have recommended it to people who don’t usually read YA but were captivated. This book is just as readable but much lighter, although Arden’s family situation is as complicated as Elise’s in This Song. Arden’s mother decided she was being taken for granted and simply left her family. Arden could cope without a mother but her little brother seems lost, and their workaholic father is clueless. Arden’s teachers and principal (and father!) don’t know her well enough to realize she does not use drugs, and her boyfriend is narcissistic and thoughtless. I also enjoyed the description of Just Like Me Dolls, which chose little girl Arden to be the face of one of its dolls and matching books:

Out of all the thousands of girls between the ages of eight and twelve who sent in their essays, Just Like Me Dolls had chosen Arden as their winner.

Because Arden was Girl of the Year, she got free copies of her books, with titles like Arden in Charge and Arden’s New Friend. She got a free doll, designed with peach-colored skin and light brown hair and hazel eyes, just like her. She got every single one of the Arden Doll’s accessories for free, too: a doll-size tire swing and doll-size metal detector, a doll-size cat and doll-size dog to mimic her own pets.

Arden’s impulsive decision to drive to New York to find the boy who writes the blog she has become obsessed with and her interaction with him is the best part of the book, as she matures before our eyes in one night. It’s also great that Arden realizes her happiness does not depend on a teenage (or older) boy.
Alice and Leila
What I disliked: A minor flaw, but I thought the beginning, which jumps into the middle of a pivotal 24 hours for Arden, then goes back two months in time, was both abrupt and unnecessary. Sales could just have begun with the day Arden gets called to the principal’s office. The author told us that some readers complained the plot was improbable: I found it reasonably convincing although would not have been brave enough to drive a car to NYC at 17! I don’t really enjoy it even now.
With the author
Source: I bought this book at Leila Sales’ recent booksigning at the Brookline Booksmith. By attending with my friend Alice, who is the librarian at the school both Leila and my nieces attended, I got to meet Leila (pronounced Lye-la) and her delightful parents as well. I recommend all Leila's books, especially This Song Will Save Your Life.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Indian Summers - Episode 1 - Recap

Episode 1 – March, 1932 – set in India during the last years of the Raj, this is a series about intersecting English and Indian characters, with a few interloping Americans for good measure.
The British ruling class has escaped to the hills for the summer, but they cannot completely escape the growing unrest in the country as Gandhi and others seek independence. On the other hand, we viewers haven’t seen scenery this beautiful since The Jewel in the Crown, although Outlander provided some pretty stunning scenes of Scotland. Indian Summers was apparently filmed in Malaysia, not India, but it is beyond sumptuous and well worth watching. It begins with a lovely but pensive young woman who is traveling by train with a baby, while opposite her is a grumbling woman in a pink dress, with her son. Both women observe a parade of Indians out in the fields, carrying what appear to be luxury items, including what looks like a rocking horse. A poor Indian boy in the fields also observes these men.

Julie Walters, who played Mrs. Beasley in Harry Potter, is a well preserved older woman named Cynthia Coffin who runs the local English club. She is trying to get the place ready for guests but a bunch of monkeys got in the windows and messed everything up. Don’t you hate when that happens?

The train stops suddenly and, mysteriously, the young Indian boy is on the tracks, avoiding death by an eyelash. Pink dress is furious that the delay means they are likely to miss their connections at the next stop. She starts interrogating the younger woman who answers cagily, but when Pink Dress starts making inquisitive comments about the absent husband, the young woman gets up abruptly and tries to get off the train for fresh air while it is stopped.

“She left her hat!” exclaims Pink Dress. More to the point, she left her baby behind without a backward glance! Nowadays, she’d be reported for neglect! Or not.

Pink Dress’ husband, somewhat Old Testament-looking Douglas, runs the local orphanage and seems nicer than his wife. He jumps off the train to see what happened and finds the boy. His assistant (love interest?), a beautiful young Indian woman (Amber, who won no friends by correcting Pink Dress’s pronunciation of Persephone), also leaps from the train. They get left behind, much to the disgruntled wife’s annoyance. Douglas and Amber rescue the boy and eventually bring him home to be nursed.

Back in what I assume is Simla, an Indian is defacing a British picture with red paint. I am guessing it says something like, “Indian Independence now!” Ralph Whelan, an Englishman, who works for the Viceroy, seems to have the responsibility of dealing with the Indians who no longer seem willing to accept British rule. His job includes things like handling vandalism and reports of cholera. He is offhandedly rude to the natives, including to the apparently worthy, Aafrin Dalal, an ambitious young Indian clerk, who arrives with important dispatches while Ralph is trying to impress his peers.

Aafrin’s family is very respectable and well spoken. He has a younger schoolgirl sister and a pretty sister about his own age who is an ardent nationalist with red paint on her hands. Aafrin guesses what she has been up to and warns her to be careful. She is scornful of his desire to work for the establishment.

Pink Lady who turns out to be Sarah was right – they missed their connection because of the train stopping. As she, her son Matthew, her attractive companion and baby are chugging along in a sort of rickshaw, a fancy car appears with a servant calling, “Miss Alice! Miss Alice!”
Much to the annoyance of Pink Dress, Miss Alice abandons her and is swept away in the Rolls Royce.

The driver turns out to be a childhood friend of Alice’s, insofar as the British and their servants are friends. He explains that the car belongs to the Viceroy and was loaned to pick Alice up. Alice is clearly at the top of the English pyramid and I suspect Pink Dress is far below if her husband is a missionary. This is confirmed when Alice arrives with her baby at a huge and gorgeous house, and hands off her son, Percy, to a handy completely unfamiliar ayah. “He’s not good with strangers,” Alice murmurs but Percy doesn’t complain, perhaps recognizing his mother is about to begin her adventures. This house is full of servants – I wish they would share!
Alice is then welcomed by Ralph Whelan, who turns out to be her devoted older brother. They have not seen each other since she was 8, due to the British tradition of sending their children back to England for health and education reasons. He seems very fond of Alice, despite their separation (too fond? He is very touchy feely for someone who hasn’t seen his sister for 12-15 years and says he ever runs into Alice’s so-called husband, the fellow will regret it! Alice tells him she has made a mess of things – clearly, there is a secret involving this no-goodnik. In the meantime, he is delighted to see her and has even had their childhood rocking horse restored – surely this is what she saw from the window of the train, although how it reached the house so quickly I can’t imagine. More parallel between the carefree ruling class and the laborers.

Pink Dress is still wondering where her husband is. She is also trying to get her favorite silk dress cleaned by an Indian lurking near her home.  She must not have as many servants as Ralphie and Alice.

Aafrin’s mother gives him news about a Hindu girl they know, pretending not to know he is in love with her (has he been gone for four years learning how to be a clerk?). When he reminds her of his feelings, Mother says it’s not a suitable relationship, that he needs a nice Farsi girl. He immediately seeks out Sita and embraces her – no one in this show is very discreet but she says she has no reputation anymore, so perhaps more than Aafrin’s mother knows about their relationship.

Baby Percy is sleeping in a nice basket with the Ayah sleeping on the floor. You can see why it was a shock for the English when they retired and returned to England: it was cold, rainy, and the servants were expensive and less docile. Even at Downton, the staff would expect beds! In fairness, Alice must have coped with the baby all the way from England by herself, so who can blame her for taking advantage of the new nanny. Now, she is writing to her husband Charlie and tells him not to come after them. I assume this means he will turn up by Episode 3.

When Alice explores her brother’s luxurious house, she finds Eugene Mathers lying in hammock outside the house. He reminds me of the eccentric Englishman in A Room with a View – was it Daniel Day-Lewis? He and his beautiful sister Madeleine are staying with Ralph. It is obvious from a mile away that Madeline is interested in Ralph. Like Sarah, she asks about Alice’s husband and says she knows Alice was “let down” and that there was Another Woman. Alice makes it clear she is contemptuous of gossip, but Madeleine doesn’t back down; instead, helpfully pointing out that if Alice is going to pose as a widow (this is not really practical ) she needs to wear a wedding ring and so produces one. Well, Alice needs a friend that isn’t sly Sarah, but Madeleine has ulterior motives.

Cynthia, aka Mrs. Weasley, managed to clean up the mess from the monkeys in time to welcome all her beautifully dressed guests. In England, the proprietress would probably not socialize so freely with the guests but it sounds like Cynthia’s husband was a Good Old Boy from the regiment. Maybe she was left impoverished and runs the club so as to turn an honest penny? Also, it gives her a front row view for all the intrigue going on and even more that she orchestrates.

Several giggly young women tell Ralph, not knowing they are speaking to him, that they are looking for Ralph Whelan. He must be known as a good catch throughout the district but he is not interested. Alice appears at the right moment and tells them to go look on the verandah. Kaiser, a trusty servant (Cynthia’s, I guess) summons Ralph to a quiet room away from the party where Madeline is waiting for him. She said she was responding to a note. Ralph seems surprised, asking, “Kaiser gave you the message?” I missed the note but it must not have been meant for Madeline – however, he shrugs and kisses her. They make love while the servant waits outside the locked door. Later, it appears that Cynthia orchestrated this rendezvous. Cynthia, who is both motherly and possessive toward Ralph, tells him he could be the next Viceroy if he plays his cards right and comes across as “steady” to the right people. She says Madeleine is a rich American and would make a good wife.

While everyone is at the club, Doug and his beautiful Indian assistant, Amber, tend the boy who was nearly run over by the train tracks, and they name him Lazarus.

Back at the club, Sarah, Doug’s wife, is very, very curious about Alice, not knowing she should be more concerned about her husband’s infatuation with Amber. She quizzes Alice, who reveals that after she left India as a child she never saw her parents again, and hadn’t seen Ralph until now. I wonder when her parents died because, as I recall, most civil servants got a sabbatical to England every 5-7 years. If they were as affluent as their children seem, one would have expected Alice to get an occasional visit and not be foisted on an aunt every vacation. Poor child! Sarah sees the wedding ring and probably noticed Alice was not wearing one on the train. Alice foolishly tells Sarah that her husband is dead, so you know he is going to turn up! Sarah asks more inquisitive questions and says she knows they will be the best of friends. Alice knows this is not one tiny bit true. Alice, don’t you know that in addition to nonstop gossiping, these people write lots of letters – it’s not as fast as the Internet but even if Charlie doesn’t chase you to India, someone will reveal your secret. I just hope that Charlie’s secret wasn’t bigamy because even if Alice was an innocent victim, these Brits will treat her like a fallen woman.

Sarah is distracted from Alice when she suddenly sees her silk dress on one of the guests! According to Madeleine, the Indian Sarah trusted to do her dry cleaning has a side business of lending out the merchandise. No consumer protection laws in India!

At the end of dinner, it is time to sing God Save the King and to toast: “To the King/Emperor!” all the Englishmen and women declare.

Ralph tells Sarah he will never go back to England. “They’ll have to kill me first,” he says (I didn't notice any ominous music to warn of an imminent assassination attempt but there should have been!). They walk outside to meet Aafrin (Ralph spitefully told him to find some letters in his messy office and bring them to the club). As Aafrin gives Ralph the letters, a turbaned Indian in white appears and shoots. Ralph is covered with blood but it is Aafrin who was shot. Cynthia and Alice accompany Aafrin to a hospital, where he seems close to death. I wondered if Ralph the target or was Aafrin on someone’s hit list because he doesn’t support nationalism?

Alice thinks Ralph (why don’t they pronounce it Rafe? Isn’t that the English way?) was the target and asks her brother if he knew the assailant. Ralph says no. She persists, “It’s just what he said…” she repeats the word twice. “I know my Hindustani may be rusty but he was calling you demon, devil.” “I expect you misheard,” he replies without hesitation, and reluctantly, Alice responds, “If you say so.”

Episode 1 ends with Aafrin gasping for breath in the hospital (no penicillin for about ten years-will he recover?) and the would-be assassin imprisoned.  Stay tuned for more, and try to catch it On Demand if you missed the first one.

Image copyright to PBS

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Storms of War (Book Review)

Title: The Storms of War
Author: Kate Williams
Publication: Pegasus Books, Hardcover, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Plot: What seems to be a carefree English family on the brink of World War I possesses a not very well kept secret – the affable father, Rudolf de Witt, a prosperous canned meat manufacturer, is German born, although he came to England many years ago and married a well-born Englishwoman. He has four children: Arthur, who spends most of the book in Paris; Michael, who is too sensitive to participate in a war; Emmeline, a spoiled beauty; and the youngest, Celia, who is the main character. When war breaks out, the de Witt family is shunned for its German roots, from Emmeline’s arrogant (and not in a charming way) fiancé and the village children spurning a summer fête to the government treating Rudolf as an enemy of the state. Celia is the most interesting character. Like my favorite Vera Brittain, she can’t bear to be left behind when her brother and closest friend are serving in France, so signs up to drive ambulances despite never having driven a car.  This volume follows the de Witt family from 1914 to 1918

Audience: Fans of historical fiction and those who share my interest in women and war work. I have also added this book to my Downton Abbey Recommended Reading List.

What I liked: Author Williams is a historian, known for books about Queen Victoria, Emma Hamilton, and Josephine Bonaparte, and her writing is strong and historically accurate. I never had that moment, too frequent lately in poorly edited books, where one come across an anachronism that completely jolts the reader out of the book. The quality of the writing greatly contributed to my enjoyment of The Storms of War.

I have read dozens of books set during this time frame and, as I mentioned to a friend last night, I am very familiar with all the usual plot variations: heroine in love with family retainer, heroine wants to go to university, heroine misunderstood by family, heroine wants to serve in France like brother, male character can’t handle pressure of battle, shell-shocked soldiers, and many more. However, I felt that Williams handled these well-worn plot elements in a way that made them seem fresh, entertaining, and appealing. I particularly appreciated the vivid descriptions of Celia nerve-rackingly driving an ambulance in the dark in France!
What I disliked: I did not find Emmeline’s behavior convincing, and I became less fond of Celia as the book progressed. She became obsessed with her own concerns, and I found it annoying when she ignored her responsibility to her distraught mother or lied to Captain Russell, the dour but surprisingly understanding officer she drives in London. I guess I like my heroines unflawed, which isn’t really fair!

Source: I read about this book when it was published in England (in fact, I suggested to several editor friends that they acquire it quickly but I guess Pegasus beat them to the punch) and requested it from the Brookline Library. Looking forward to the next book in the trilogy!

(photo above of a woman ambulance driver is copyright to

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Celia's House (Book Review)

Title: Celia’s House
Author: D. E. Stevenson
Publication: 1943, original hardcover; Sourcebooks paperback, 2015
Genre: Light romantic fiction
Plot: In 1905, elderly Celia Dunne decides to leave Dunnian, her lovely home in Scotland, to her great-nephew Humphrey, with the understanding that his family can live there while he is away with the Navy. She assures him that his as-yet unborn daughter Celia will one day inherit Dunnian, and she dies soon afterwards. Once settled in their new home, Humphrey’s children love Dunnian as much as Celia did, particularly the eldest son Mark and a young cousin Deb, whose friendship with Mark influences her fondness for the house and helps her become part of the family. The story follows Mark and his siblings through WWI and to 1942, and sure enough, his youngest sister is another quirky Celia, named for her great-great aunt. The book does not contain much in the way of plot other than a competition for Mark’s affection but it is an extremely pleasant family story.

Audience: Stevenson has a devoted following and fans are delighted to see some of her books back in print. Similar authors include Elizabeth Cadell, Angela Thirkell, and Rosamunde Pilcher.

What I liked: This is a little different from other Stevenson novels: very focused on the family and house and less humorous than her other books (although it begins with an amusing interaction between Celia and her gardener), but appealing in a different way. I liked the descriptions of all the Dunnes and their gossipy neighbors, and I especially enjoyed the scene where Humphrey’s arrogant cousin Maurice learns Humphrey has inherited Dunnian instead of him. There are some allusions to more serious topics: an elderly retainer with nowhere else to go (luckily, she is needed and welcomed by Humphrey and his family), Deb is neglected by her own mother until her cousin Humphrey takes her into his own family, and Humphrey’s beloved wife becomes confused and frail before her time.

Source: I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this reread and am so glad that Sourcebooks brought it back with delightful artwork and packaging.  
Here's another favorite back in print!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Her Sister's Shoes (Book Review and Giveaway)

Title: Her Sister’s Shoes
Author: Ashley Farley
Publication: Trade Paperback and eBook, Leisure Time Books, 2015
Genre: Fiction
Plot: Three very different sisters, Jackie, Samantha, and Faith face the challenges of juggling career and family in a small South Carolina coastal town. Jackie, an interior decorator worried about turning 50, is still trying to impress the affluent women who “run” the town (mean girls who have not changed since high school), and has neglected her doctor husband and twin sons in the process. Samantha, the middle sister, has taken on the challenge of running the family seafood market, while dealing with the fallout of a car accident in which her son wound up in a wheelchair. Faith is married to an abusive, crude guy who treats her and her daughter badly but she is too ashamed to ask her family for help. Their mother, Lovie, cares deeply about her daughters’ and grandchildren's happiness but her memory issues prevent her from providing concrete assistance. This story shows the power of coming together as a family.

Audience: Readers of contemporary women’s fiction, and maybe you! Leave a comment if you are interested in reading this book, and I will pick a winner at the end of August. U.S. only, I regret.

What I liked:  As the eldest of three sisters (and one brother), I found this an entertaining, fast-paced summer read, perfect for the beach. I liked the small town of Prospect, South Carolina, and the way the author evokes a caring small town that supports the Sweeney family and their fish business, not to mention some quirky minor characters. Farley does a good job of creating the three Sweeney sisters with distinct personalities, even if they are a bit too clichéd: one is too selfish, one is too much of a doormat, and one drinks too much.  And should the title be Her Sisters' Shoes?  Jackie learns to think about and understand both sisters, not just obsess about herself.

However: I did feel there were way too many crises going on in one family – paralyzed son who was driving in the car accident that killed his best friend, family business threatened, abusive husband, mother experiencing dementia, evil brother-in-law hitting on his wife’s sister, embezzlement, philandering husband, concussed son in hospital, mean girls, attacks, stymied police, alcoholism issues and more.  Overkill?  How can one family be so unlucky simultaneously? Also, for three sisters who seem relatively close, how could they not have an inkling of the troubles the others are dealing with? And how do two of these sisters find eligible single men so easily?  Maybe we should all move to Prospect!  Lots of family drama that all ties up very neatly, if implausibly, at the end but, despite these good natured quibbles, a fun read.

Purchase LinksAmazon, Barnes & Noble

Source: I received this book from TLC Book Tours but all thoughts and opinions are my own. I have one copy from the publisher to give away - please leave a comment to enter. You can visit other stops on the tour by clicking on the links below.  Thanks for stopping by!

Ashley’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 4th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, August 5th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Thursday, August 6th: Wall-to-Wall Books
Monday, August 10th: Books and Bindings
Tuesday, August 11th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Wednesday, August 12th: Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, August 13th: The Book Bag
Monday, August 17th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Tuesday, August 18th: My So-Called Book Reviews
Thursday, August 20th: Buried Under Books
Monday, August 24th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, August 27th: Ask a Bookworm

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (Book Review)

Title: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Publication: Gallery Books, July 2015
Genre: Light romantic fiction

There’s a place named Milwaukee, Milwaukee!

Plot: Lou is the talented chef of a small and struggling French restaurant in Milwaukee that she opened with two close friends. One of Lou’s biggest challenges is juggling the needs of her business with the demands of her condescending fiancé Devlin, who does not take her foodie dreams seriously. As a surprise, she makes his favorite coconut cake for his birthday but her delivery reveals Devlin in a compromising position with another woman!

Upset and humiliated, Lou falls apart at the restaurant that night, just as the sarcastic new restaurant critic comes to sample the menu at Louella’s. Al is British and hates Wisconsin; when everything goes wrong with his meal, his vicious review writes itself, appearing under a pseudonym.

Depressed, Lou ends up in a bar later that night where she meets and befriends Al, without knowing who he is. They exchange names but pledge not to discuss work. Friendly Lou decides to show Al the lesser known aspects of Milwaukee that make her love her hometown, and bit by bit they fall in love. While Lou’s restaurant heads into bankruptcy Al’s reviews take off. However, it is just a matter of time until Lou finds out it was Al who destroyed her restaurant...

Audience: Fans of chick lit; fans of the movie, You’ve Got Mail

What I liked: This was a charming story, although beyond improbable and very predictable. If you can get past those aspects, Lou is a delightful heroine, if a bit too good to be true, and her determined efforts to reveal the charming side of Milwaukee are very endearing and made me wish she had been my guide on my long ago trip when I had only a copy of Betsy in Spite of Herself and the Gen Con attendees to keep me company.* I enjoyed the descriptions of hectic, behind-the-scenes restaurant life and liked her secondary characters, particularly Lou’s friends, Sue and Harley. Lou and Al are destined to be together, despite her inevitable feeling of betrayal when she learns he wrote the review that sent her restaurant to its doom. I doubt I could be so forgiving! However, it is a fun read and I am sure you will enjoy it.
Source: I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

* Elaine Koster, one of my worst bosses ever, insisted that she and I had to attend Gen Con although it was my birthday weekend and it was years before I had any friends in Wisconsin. Naturally, she canceled after I bought my plane ticket and I was stuck there, for the most part by myself, although I did have a nice dinner with then Waldenbooks SF/Fantasy buyer Jay Hyde at a lovely restaurant on the water that I think was called Eagan’s.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Newport (Book Review)

Please join Jill Morrow, author of Newport, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours:
Publication: Trade Paperback, William Morrow, July 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 1920s Newport, Rhode Island

Plot: When Adrian de la Noye, a prestigious Boston attorney, is summoned to Newport to draft a new will for a wealthy client he is surprised to learn the elderly but very affluent Bennett Chapman is engaged to a lovely woman half his age, considered a fortune hunter by his adult children. Chapman’s children believe the fiancée, Catherine Walsh, and her niece Amy, are charlatans because they have conducted seances in which Chapman’s deceased wife allegedly appeared and commanded Chapman to marry Catherine. As if this did not present a dilemma for a legal professional, Adrian recognizes Catherine instantly as Cassie Walsh, daughter of his family’s cook, from his long ago past. Adrian and his young legal associate, Jim, who falls hard for the elfin Amy, are determined to learn the secrets behind the Walsh women’s appearance and mysterious channeling of the deceased Mrs. Chapman, although it becomes clear to the reader that Adrian has some painful secrets of his own he would prefer to keep hidden...

Audience: Fans of historical fiction about the 1920s.  This also reminded me of the movie, Magic in the Moonlight, which I recommend.

What I liked: This was a fun and fast paced read, set in the very romantic setting of a glamorous Newport mansion, although it is set mostly away from the glitzy parties of the rich and famous. I enjoyed the mixture of the 1920s story (a period I find very intriguing) with secret upon secret: mysterious séances; dastardly adult children trying to spoil their father’s alleged happiness with a second wife; an idealistic young lawyer learning his hero has feet of clay; and the flashbacks to young love. There was even an attractive and sensible character named Constance (a name usually held by the villainess)!  I also liked the character of the judge who appears late in the story.  The author left the ending open for a sequel.

What I disliked: There was a big reveal and it was surprising – Cassie’s past and elements of her friendship with Adrian – but it was based on a premise so completely unconvincing that it weakened the end of the book for me (see spoiler below). Because I couldn’t understand Cassie’s motivation, I found it hard to like her, and I did not approve of Adrian’s keeping secrets from his client that affected his representation. Also, it wasn’t plausible that Adrian could have attended Andover and Harvard, and subsequently changed his name while living in and having a successful career in Boston. As I can tell you, I can barely walk down the street in Boston without seeing a Harvard classmate and if I changed my name, those classmates would start asking why and would not allow me to go on practicing law unchallenged.  I am sure it was just the same a hundred years ago!  Long before the Internet there were gossipy friends and neighbors so if you are going to change your name, find a small town far from the East Coast and all your fellow alumni (wait, isn’t that was the Unabomber did?). Although what seemed like holes in the plot left me a little disgruntled when I finished reading, I enjoyed the book and, after all, isn't the best compliment to an author when you are still ruminating over the twists and turns several days later?
Source: I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. Please visit other stops on the tour and connect with the author on Facebook and Twitter.
Tuesday, July 7th: BookNAround
Wednesday, July 8th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, July 10th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, July 13th: The many thoughts of a reader
Tuesday, July 14th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, July 15th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, July 16th: Walking With Nora
Friday, July 17th: View from the Birdhouse
Saturday, July 18th: Luxury Reading
Monday, July 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Tuesday, July 21st: Raven Haired Girl
Wednesday, July 22nd: Charmingly Modern
Thursday, July 23rd: FictionZeal
Monday, July 27th: A Book Geek
Spoiler: I can understand a book (and have read several) where the heroine seeks revenge on her rapist or assailant but I have a hard time understanding plotting or participating in an undertaking to marry his father and to subject a child to the knowledge that she was fathered by such a vile person (probably a hard secret to keep indefinitely even if he does not recognize you). Perhaps it would have been better just to demand financial support (albeit many years before DNA testing)? And how did the deceased mother know her son was a rapist? Are we supposed to believe that there are no secrets on the other side of the veil? I suppose that is as likely as the communication from beyond the grave in the first place!