September 22, 2013

One Big Beautiful Thing

Title:  One Big Beautiful Thing
Author:  Marie Flanigan
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Artist Kate Abernethy is trying to put her life back together after the death of her boyfriend. At first, moving back in with her mother seems like a good way to sort out her finances and re-evaluate her life-instead it proves to be a minefield of doubt and recrimination. Floundering, she pushes herself to take new opportunities so she can rebuild her life and have a second chance at happiness.

"...and they lived happily ever after."  I think that's the line from my childhood reading that made me aware that most of the time in order for me to walk away fulfilled from certain books that it must be included.  That line is where I discovered that I love to read books that end well.  Its the, I'm going to forget about all the real crap that's happening in my life line that whisks me away to a a make-believe place.

Chick-lit is one of those genres that never changes.  Girl with some issues meets boy, girl's issues become the main focus of the book, girl gets mad a boy because of issues, girl and boy work through issues and "they live happily ever after."  I almost never walk away from any chick-lit book feeling unfulfilled.

One Big Beautiful Thing was one of those chick-lit books that totally fit my needs for this past week.  I need an escape with a "...happily ever after." I needed a quick read.  I needed chick-lit.  Having just read Catcher in the Rye for my books and beer club, I needed that change of pace and something to take the edge off of adolescent male angst.  

There were girl issues and boy issues and mom issues swarming throughout this book.  There was a solid BFF and perfect opportunities that us normal folks can only conjure up in a fictitious world.  There were sad moments and happy moments.  "...and they lived happily ever after" with some bumps and lacerations along the way.

Unfortunately I walked away from One Big Beautiful Thing with more questions than answers.  The author left opportunities on the proverbial typewriter with this book.  As a reader, I was fulfilled with my "happily ever after, but there were issues screaming at the top of their lungs that I felt were not resolved, therefore Kate, the heroine of the story, can probably never have her fairy tale ending in her fictitious world.

The one thing that Kate never did was look behind her.  I think she should have taken the time to actually see and understand what that was - I get the metaphor that was intended, but if Kate were to see what was behind her, I could see it through her eyes if she would accept it and move on or at the very least, understand how she feels about it.  It was touched on, every so slightly, but I feel like there was a broken promise by Ms. Flanigan.  There were very big issues to me with this part of the book because there was no impression to me, as the reader, that this conflict was ever resolved with the heroine of the story.  She couldn't complete her arc.

One Big Beautiful Thing was well-written and edited, and in this day and age of Indie publishing that can make or break an author.  I enjoyed the love story, I enjoyed the art, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to read and review this book.

One Big Beautiful Thing

September 12, 2013

Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club

Title: Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club
Author: Liz Stauffer
Publisher: Sartoris Literary Group
Medium: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
When Clare Ballard sports a new bruise on her right cheek the day after a contentious town meeting, the ladies of the Thursday Morning Breakfast Club suspect her husband Roger of abusing her. That same day Hester Franklin, another breakfast club lady, is called to rescue her grandson Patrick after he is arrested for transporting drugs. Proclaiming his innocence, Patrick threatens that those who set him up will pay. Roger Ballard is high on his list. But it's when Lillie Mae Harris, the club's leader, discovers the body of the local drug dealer on the nearby hiking trail, that the community is upended. Roger Ballard, the primary suspect, goes missing, and when his body turns up in his own back yard, Clare Ballard confesses to his murder. No one believes she did it, but Clare insists she's guilty and mysteriously refuses to talk to her lawyer, the police, or her family and friends. The Thursday Morning Breakfast Club ladies believe she's protecting someone, and they vow to find out who it is. Charlie Warren, the town's homegrown policeman, using unconventional means, collaborates with the breakfast club ladies to draw out the real criminal. But danger lurks. Alice Portman, the matriarch of the breakfast club, is struck down in her own yard and is sent to the hospital. Then others in the small community start to disappear-one after the other. As the ladies get closer to the truth, they get closer to the danger. With no time to cry over spilled coffee, they form a plan to capture the true culprits before someone else is murdered.

Sometimes you just need to read a cozy mystery. The multitude of characters, each unique in their own way spinning you around like a top that never seems to topple keeps me coming back for these wonderful little books. I love the plots and the development and the whodunit style of writing. I love wondering if every character was the culprit and can hardly wait until that final moment when the story is wrapped up in a pretty bow just waiting for me to turn the page to open the gift of resolution. I love the quaint settings and can just picture those cute little neighborhoods where everyone is friends, but always suspicious of one another. I love the endless pots of coffee the characters drink and have always wondered how many coffee cakes are consumed during one of these books.

Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club had all the qualities of a cozy mystery that I enjoy and love. I was intrigued by the cast of characters, the picket fences, the dead bodies and the coffee (and cake)! I was impressed that the author added fine subtleties that made me second and third guess that who I thought the murderer was, really wasn't or was it. I think by climax of the book I had everyone listed as a suspect, some twice, and when that present Ms. Stauffer wrapped up in a bow for me was finally revealed I was giddy with happiness!

Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club was a fun, quick little book that made a fine companion for a few days. The ending brought me back to a childhood Saturday morning memory of television long, long ago!

I did find the excessive use of the word "dear" to be a bit annoying (52 times annoying by my handy Kindle search feature). I spend a lot of time with senior citizens and retired folks and am never called dear by any of them. I like to believe the author was trying to convey quaint and respect and "old school" with her use of it, but the book honestly did not need that to get that point across to me as a reader.

I really enjoyed Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club. I will definitely watch for future cozy mysteries from Ms. Stauffer as the weather cools off and I need that comfortable soothing feel of a mini tornado of plot and character in my mind to make me warm and fuzzy.

Liz Stauffer