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 clichĂ©d: 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 fiancĂ© 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.