September 12, 2012

Reader Radar #9

Title:  Underground Nest
Author:  Kathleen Maher
Publisher:  Beekman Press (August 1, 2012)
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Never marry a Boy Scout.
When Zachary Severins, dedicated Scoutmaster and community leader, is caught cheating on his wife, she divorces him, his children lose respect for him, and his mistress spurns him. As Zach's personal life crumbles, his professional career begins to follow. Only after Zach loses everything does he start to learn the true meaning of friendship, love, and responsibility.
Underground Nest, a short novel, is contemporary fiction with a sharp sense of humor but a soft heart for its characters.

It's been so long since I've done a Reader Radar segment. Part of it was my fault for not digging deeper for the short stories and novellas, so I did what any great procrastinator does and wait for stuff to drop in my lap. Then, there in my inbox, was an opportunity that I am so glad that I did not pass up, along with proving to myself that good things do come to those who wait.

Underground Nest may be a mere 82 pages long, but it has more jam packed into those few pages than many full length novels I've read. The one thing that stood out most for me is that Maher (whether intentionally or not) crafted her story to touch, ever so lightly in some cases, on each of the seven deadly sins. I found this to be very interesting, because it was so subtle for me, and honestly it didn't really hit me until I started to write this review, and I actually questioned myself, and probably will continue to do so. But, I'm going to leave it out there.

I finished Underground Nest during my lunch break this afternoon with mixed feelings. Part of me was filled with glee, while another part was heartbroken, while another part was disgusted because of how much Zach wasted and thew away. Without giving anything away, this little novella will fill your senses, tease your brain, and give the Boy Scout motto of "be prepared" an entire new meaning.

If you are short on time, Underground Nest is the perfect read for you. You will not be disappointed. I take that back, you might be a little disappointed, but not in the novella one bit. A must read. Kathleen Maher is most definitely on my Reader Radar - I'm very interested to see what else she has to offer.

Underground Nest

September 9, 2012

Misfortune Cookie

Title:  Misfortune Cookie
Author:  Michele Gorman
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Would you move 6,000 miles to be with the love of your life?
Hannah did. Unfortunately her plan isn't going terribly well. What was supposed to be a move to Hong Kong to start a wonderful new life with Sam is turning into a move to Hong Kong to spend occasional weekends with Sam, when he can get away from an unanticipated work assignment on the opposite side of the South China Sea. Still, she's optimistic, if woefully unprepared for the intricacies of Hong Kong. Stumbling through the alien city, which she loves, she starts to build a life for herself. Things definitely look up when she finds a great boss to work for, and her best friend Stacy moves to the city too. But alarm bells ring as Sam seems to be getting a bit too cozy with his boss. And when things start going wrong at work, Hannah can't help but wonder if she's made the biggest mistake of her life.

I think there are times in our adult, grown up lives where we don't want to remember that we had ever been desperately in love like with someone who didn't like love us back as much.  I really think like hurts a little more than love sometimes, because once you get over the fact that he never really liked you as much as you loved him, that you realize it never was love at all.  Then when you do find true, real love, you realize how dumb you were and kick yourself in the rump for wasting time on such a loser in the first place.  But was it really a waste of time?  Maybe not.  Life starts out being a series of lessons, some more painful than others, some harder to learn than other, but lessons that end up benefiting us whether we want it to at the time or not.  Reflection certainly has given me lessons that I learned a long time ago that I use today.

Misfortune Cookie was a book about life's lessons.  Hannah, being the perfect poster child for me to get back into dart throwing, was the young lady who really needed to learn some life lessons.  I will admit that while I could totally relate to many of her feelings and irrationalities, I didn't like her until toward the end of the book, and I fell in love with her, because she finally grew up!!!

I love that Misfortune Cookie was set in Hong Kong.  Gorman painted me the perfect picture of what life was like for Hannah after moving from London to Hong Kong to follow a boy.  I had a feel for what a city I honestly know nothing about was like to live in, and there was even a little bit of history set into her book.  

Hannah was real.  She could be any young woman who falls hard for a guy.  She had the same feelings, the same worries, the same fears, and made the same silly decisions.  Gorman did an excellent job of bringing a character to life, someone that most of us can relate to in some way, and she tied her up nicely and neatly with a bow into an enjoyable book that kept me entertained this past week.

When I start any book to review, I stay away from Amazon, Goodreads, and usually the author's blog or website, because I don't want to know anything about what anyone else thinks of the books I'm reading until after I read them.  I think this is fair to myself and very fair to the author, because even though I'm not easily influenced by what other people think, I want to give each book the most fair review that I can.  This may not be the best idea, especially when it comes to the author's website or blog.  In preparing for this blog post, I found out that Misfortune Cookie is a sequel.

Misfortune Cookie is a sequel to a book called Single in the City.  So, for those of ya'll who are going to get this book today, why don't you go ahead and pick up both books?  You won't be disappointed by Gorman's writing style, and you'll get to enjoy some more of Hanna's crazy and exciting life!

Michele Gorman

September 2, 2012

In Need of Therapy

Title:  In Need of Therapy
Author:  Tracie Banister
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart? 

While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can't stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger. 

When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she's left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.

Any book that is set in Florida should be a great read, right? I mean, Florida is now my home, and I think palm trees and sunsets are what makes the world go round these days. Yesterday was one of those lazy Florida days for me. I didn't have a lot to do, and having just come off a very popular psychological thriller of a book for my book club, a week full of psychologically challenged people, and yet another full moon, I needed something to lighten the burden a bit lot.

I'm so glad that I picked In Need of Therapy, because it fit into my theme of reading lately, it fit into everything I have been dealing with at work, and it helped pass an ordinary Saturday with a lot of out loud laughs!  While I have never been further South in Florida than the Englewood area, I got a great feel for what Miami might be like.  

Pilar Alvarez at first sounded like a very intelligent, very spoiled child of wealthy parents, with a father who would indulge her every whim, but the further and deeper you delve into the book, you realize that Pilar has the same fears and desires and makes many of the same mistakes us "normal" gals do - although she has a bigger budget and lives in Miami.  Ms. Banister really gives the reader a great insight into the dynamics of a Latin family, which if you have ever met one, is spot on! 

It's been a while since I read a chick lit book, and In Need of Therapy reminded me why I love this genre so much.  It's easy to read, it has a few moments when you just need to walk away from the main character, and it always makes you smile.

In Need of Therapy is fast-paced, and once you start reading, you don't want to put the book down.  Little things like your Kindle running out of battery and eating dinner, certainly put a cramp in your ebb and flow of reading, especially when you are down to 25%, so plan accordingly!  As summer ends and we start to turn to a new season, what better way to celebrate than reading a fun book that will keep you guessing, keep you laughing, and has skywriting!  Skywriting alone, should have you all picking this book up, right now! 

Traci Banister