Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Review: The LIfe You've Imagined

Are any of us living the life we imagined we'd have? I don't mean becoming a firefighter or a ballerina, but the daily quality of life with our families and careers? Kristina Riggle shares the lives of two single women in their early 30s, each at a crossroads in her life, with The Life You've Imagined.
Cami and Anna, friends in high school, have each coincidentally returned to the small lakeside town of Haven, MI at the same time. Their lives drifted into very different directions  but they easily fall back into their friendship, working at the Nee Nance convenience store owned by Anna's mother, Maeve. Anna has returned home for some quiet time away from her job as a high-powered Chicago lawyer, and is living with her mother above the Nee Nance in her1970s wood-paneled bedroom. Cami returns to her father's ramshackle house, a place of terrible memories, because she literally has no place to go after a relationship break-up.
Told through first-person narration of each character, readers learn of the secrets of both Anna and Cami, as well as their parents. The Life You've Imaginedmakes readers think about parents and adult children in a different way. Do we really know our parents as well as we think? And do they know us better than we realize? Although both Cami and Anna return to Haven adrift, confused, and overwhelmed by life, by the end of the summer they are both heading into positive futures, and know they have a strong friendship that will sustain. I enjoyed The Life You've Imaginedfor reasons both thoughtful and whimsical. Memories of my own childhood paneling, running into the convenience store for a candy bar or popsicle, and the cycle of certain family disagreements that never go away, made me smile. The relationship of children and parents, which stays the same in some ways, but reverses in others was interesting to me, as someone close in age to Anna and Cami. The Life You've Imaginedis a book that made me think, while still be a very entertaining story.
This review is part of a TLC book tour. To read the thoughts of more book bloggers, you can visit TLC's Life You've Imagined page.



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Friday, September 03, 2010

Book Review: What Alice Knew

Jack the Ripper is perhaps the most famous serial killer of all time, especially because he was never caught, and he perpetrated his horrors in Victorian London, a time and place that never liked to know about the seedier side of life. Paula Marantz Cohen's historical novel What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper brings a new perspective to the famous case.
London, 1888. American author Henry James is living in London and is out every night as a member of the esoteric literary and arts scene. His sister Alice, a semi-invalid, also lives in London, in her own town home. The Ripper case is all anyone is talking about, and bedridden Alice, very intelligent and quick-witted, loves to read the papers, speculate, and design scenarios. When the siblings' brother, the renowned professor William James is summoned to London, from Harvard College in Massachusetts, by Scotland Yard. Professor James is engaged in "important research in the new science of the mind" and Sir Charles Warren, Metropolitan Commissioner of Police is hoping he can shed some light on the motives and behaviors of the elusive killer.
With the three James siblings reunited in London, Alice is excited to put a plan she has been scheming into motion. Although she cannot got about the streets of London herself, William, with his Scotland Yard connections, medical knowledge, and insights into the human mind, and Henry, a man who is able to fit into both high society and the more dissolute areas of London, can bring her information to analyze. The three will solve these crimes together, each bringing their own unique talents to the case. William is soon running about London with members of Scotland Yard, finding new evidence and refuting theories that were already in place. Henry is about in the drawing rooms and gentlemen's clubs listening to conversations, and soon the three have a suspect.
What Alice Knew is a well-written thriller, with oodles of great Victorian history thrown in. Ms. Cohen, a professor of English at Drexel University, brings her scholarship and research to the story, speculating on Henry's and William's feelings and motivations, and sharing stories about artists of the times such as John Singer Sergeant and Oscar Wilde, friends of the James family. As a lover of both historical fiction and mystery/thrillers I couldn't put What Alice Knew down, and I look forward to what Paula Marantz Cohen has for us next!



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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Recessionistas: a Book Review

Alexandra Lebenthal has put some fun into finance with her debut novel,The Recessionistas. Opening on Labor Day 2008, the lives of four very different women will all soon be affected by the stock market and mortgage crises.
Socialite Grigsby Somerset is as clueless as they come, continuing to lead a lavish life of excess while her husband Blake tries to keep afloat by entering into a deal with the devil, hedge fund owner John Cutter.
Executive assistant Renee Parker, newly hired by John Cutter, senses something is fishy at Flying Point Capital. Enlisting the aid of her friend, bond manager Sasha Silver, Renee and Sasha ferret out the inconsistencies at Flying Point while attending charity dinners and power lunches.
The Recessionistas is great fun in the tradition of novels like The First Wives Club. Pairing intelligent women against scheming men, Ms. Lebenthal has brought New York society after the crash into homes across America. She made a financial dolt like myself understand more about what causes our current economic crisis, while taking me to The Hamptons, the Cayman Islands, and the great restaurants and hotels of New York City.
On a whimsical note, I love the cover art for The Recessionistas. It's a city skyline designed with different Judith Leiber purses! How clever!
You should definitely give The Recessionistas a try, and to make that easier for someone (US & Canada only), I have a copy to give away from the great folks at Hachette Publishing Group! As always, I'll make it simple and give you several chances to win.
  • Leave a comment saying you'd like to win. Be sure to include a way for me to contact you.
  • Become a Follower of this blog, or of @ebogie on Twitter, or let me know you're already a follower.
  • Tweet about the giveaway. You can tweet once a day!
  • Leave a separate comment for each entry, for a total of 4+ entries.
  • Winner will be chosen Thursday, September 16.
  • Sorry, U.S. and Canada only.
This review is linked to Cym Lowell's Book Review Party, a great place to discover a new book!