Book Review: Careers for Women

IMG_0721Title: Careers for Women
Author: Joanna Scott
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Little, Brown and Company: Maggie Gleason is looking toward the future. Part of a midcentury wave of young women seeking new lives in New York City, Maggie works for legendary Port Authority public relations maven Lee K. Jaffe–affectionately known to her loyal staff as Mrs. J. Having left Cleveland, Maggie has come to believe that she can write any story for herself that she imagines.

Pauline Moreau is running from the past–and a shameful secret. She arrives in the city on the brink of despair, saddled with a young daughter who needs more love, attention, and resources than Pauline can ever hope to provide. Seeing that Pauline needs a helping hand, Mrs. J tasks Maggie with befriending, and looking after, Pauline.

As the old New York gives way to the new, and Mrs. J’s dream of the world’s largest skyscraper begins to rise from the streets of lower Manhattan, Pauline–with the aid of Maggie and Mrs. J–also remakes herself. But when she reignites the scandal that drove her to New York, none of their lives will ever be the same. Maggie must question everything she thought she knew about love, work, ambition, and family to discover the truth about the enigmatic, strong woman she thought she had rescued.

My Review: Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and Netgalley for providing me this free ARC in exchange for my honest review!

CAREERS FOR WOMEN has a Mad Men-esque vibe set during the 1950s, which is a period I’ve always been drawn to so naturally I was sucked in from the get-go!

Scott’s cast of characters are every bit who you would expect to meet in mid-century New York City. The women are strong and admirable, each securing their own special place within the story. Maggie, the benign central character is level headed and responsible and truly shines when she sacrifices her future with a prominent doctor to raise her friend Pauline’s special needs daughter. I adored Mrs. J., the Director of PR at The Port of New York Authority and the cornerstone to the construction of the World Trade Center towers, she advocates for her career girls during a time when men ran the corporate show. Her beliefs are firmly rooted in good old fashioned hard work and ingenuity and any woman possessing both can achieve her worth.

The multi storylines constantly evolve; Bob Whittaker is the corporate big shot running Alumacore, the upstate aluminum plant polluting the animals and people and his own morality. His despicable actions have far reaching effects; from the death of his step-son’s fiancée’s father to Pauline the reformed prostitute who gets caught in his crosshairs. The plots are thought-provoking especially because I grew up with equal opportunity and my heart went out to the bright women who could only get so far as typists while enduring the occasional pat on the derrière from the boss.

Scott’s writing is nostalgic, entertaining and well paced and I wanted more. She brilliantly pays homage to women who paved the way into corporate America. I highly recommend this book!

 

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Book Review: Throw Away Girls

Adobe Photoshop PDFTitle: Throw Away Girls (The Jaycee Wilder Series #1)
Author: Jennifer Vaughn
Publisher: Waldorf Publishing
Format: Digital ARC
Verdict: Read it!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5

From Waldorf: Hard-charging, insightful, and ambitious, Jaycee Wilder wants to take her TV news career to the next level. The Los Angeles reporter is hungry for the big story. When dead girls begin to pile up at seedy nightclubs that cater to whimsical, fetish-seeking strangers, Jaycee suspects a serial killer is at work. She aligns herself with an east coast cop trying to resurrect himself- and his once stellar career- from a drunken skid.

The killer lives a normal life during the day, while hunting the Throw Away Girls at night, punishing them for their dark urges. He leaves messages behind in his victims’ blood, his explanation for enacting such brutal, twisted justice upon the unworthy. He watches the media coverage. He knows the wily reporter is chasing him. As Jaycee follows her gut, and the evidence, she forces him to act. But when a killer is clever and cunning, he can infiltrate anywhere. Jaycee must utilize all her skills to expose him before he gets to her first.

My Review: THROW AWAY GIRLS is highly addictive, suspenseful and frightening! If you love serial killer thrillers then this book is for you. This is the first book in the new Jaycee Wilder Series and Jennifer Vaughn draws from her first hand experience as a television news anchor to brilliantly craft Jaycee’s character as a tenacious and sharp newscaster in LA. Jaycee is such a likeable character adored by her hot, actor boyfriend Van and news team colleagues. She forges a trusting relationship with Detective Barton who feeds her inside information about the killings. Jaycee’s compassion and empathy for the throw away girls and their families really make her shine as a human being.

The book is told mostly from Jaycee’s point of view but I so appreciated hearing from the victim’s perspective. I also love a strong, competent female lead. Vaughn’s writing is easy to digest, engaging and page turning.

Vaughn nailed the plot – it’s dark, cringe-worthy and gory and stands up every bit to well read authors of this genre. I was sucked into the story from the get-go with a brutal murder scene in process – so creepy but so good! I wish the killer reveal came later in the story but Vaughn kept the suspense tight right up to the end. I can’t wait to pick up the newest installment, Legacy Girls.

Thank you to Waldorf Publishing and Netgalley for providing me this ARC in exchange for my own review.

Book Review: Hello, Sunshine

IMG_0117Title: Hello, Sunshine
Author: Laura Dave
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Digital ARC
Verdict: A good read
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Simon & Schuster: Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.

And then she gets hacked.

When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.

My Review: If you are a foodie and like social media culture then HELLO, SUNSHINE should be on your summer reading list! This book is a page-turner and I could not wait to find out what deep dark secrets Sunshine Mackenzie was hiding and who was behind the Twitter hack that took her culinary career down.

I tried not to over analyze this book because it’s meant to be entertaining but I found several characters shallow and ridiculous. I didn’t care for Sunny because she was embedded in lying for her own betterment and her lying knows no boundary.

Dave’s writing style is engaging and has a flow that kept me turning the pages, although I’m not sure what the incomplete ending is about – nothing was resolved!

The food descriptions are divine and a relatable element that any foodie will appreciate. While this one isn’t one of my favourite books it’s definitely fast-paced, light and entertaining – perfect beach reading!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for providing me this free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid Book ReviewTitle: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria
Format: Paperback
Verdict: Read it!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Atria: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

My Review: I adored THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO! If you love the glamour, romance and relentlessness surrounding the Hollywood film industry this book is for you! Evelyn is the fiction counterpart to sultry Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. She secured her spot at the top of the film industry during a time when men had the upper hand in Hollywood, and yes, she was ruthless and tough as nails but she had to be as a Cuban woman navigating the business.

Reid has a sharp eye for curating a narrative crossover between historical fiction and memoir. I was 100% emotionally invested in the richly developed plot and characters, which Reid executes brilliantly, and yes, even at Evelyn’s worst I still admired her. The rag magazine blurbs between chapters are a testament to how much we love looking into movie stars’ lives. I liked the alternating timeline – Evelyn reveals her darkest secrets from her past to Monique in the present and while Monique’s role is small her purpose delivers a huge wallop…no spoilers here…read the book! I found Evelyn’s resilience toward sexism, sexuality, racism and abuse exquisite. At the center of the book is a unique love story that will make your heart ache.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Its one of the best I have read and one I hope to read again.

Book Review: The Shark Club

IMG_0102Title: The Shark Club
Author: Ann Kidd Taylor
Publisher: Viking Books
Format: Book
Verdict: Read it!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From PRH: One summer day on the beach in Florida, two extraordinary things happen to Maeve Donnelly. First, she is kissed by Daniel, the boy of her dreams. Then, she is bitten by a blacktip shark.

Eighteen years later, Maeve has thrown herself into her work as a world-traveling marine biologist discovering more about the minds of misunderstood sharks. But when Maeve returns home to the legendarily charming and eccentric Hotel of the Muses where she was raised by her grandmother, she finds more than just the blood orange sunsets and key lime pies she’s missed waiting for her.

While Maeve has always been fearless in the water, on land she is indecisive. A chance meeting on the beach with a plucky, irresistible little girl who is just as fascinated by the ocean as Maeve was growing up leaves her at a crossroads: Should she re-kindle her romance with Daniel, the first love she left behind when she dove into her work? Or indulge in a new romance with her colleague, Nicholas, who turns up in her hometown to investigate an illegal shark-finning operation?

My Review: Maeve has two loves in her life: Daniel and sharks. Daniel came into her life after she and twin brother Robin lost their parents in an airplane crash when they were children. Her love for sharks came out of a ‘hit and run’ as Maeve called it. A black tip shark bit her leg and swam off when she was 12. Now she’s a marine biologist and something of a shark whisperer amongst peers.

Maeve and Nicholas are tracking a shiver of lemon sharks off Bimini, which she named Silvia (the special one), Jacques and Captain. They maintain a professional relationship but the electrical charge between them is alive. Their expedition is coming to an end and Nicholas is heading back to England to deal with his crumbling marriage while Maeve heads back to Palermo where she will reunite with Robin and her grandmother, Perri at the Hotel of Muses. She and Nicholas will rejoin each other for another study in Mozambique, and hopefully more, but Maeve needs to know that Nicholas’ marriage is over.

Back in Palermo Maeve is flooded with memories of a jilted ending with Daniel. She broke off their engagement after learning he betrayed her with a fellow culinary student and expecting a baby while she was away on a shark expedition. She’s quickly back in Daniel’s life when she learns he’s the father of the little girl, Hazel Maeve befriends on the beach and Perri hired him to run the kitchen at the hotel. The romance rekindles and everything feels familiar and right. Hazel loves that Maeve studies sharks and together they form The Shark Club, searching for shark teeth on the beach and checking out library books about sharks.

A background story looms surrounding an illegal shark finning operation and Maeve wants to get to the bottom of who’s running it and bring them to justice. But when she learns the shocking truth it’s more than she bargained for. Nicholas shows up in Palermo to investigate the incident, which forces Maeve to choose between Daniel and Nicholas but one thing remains certain she will never give up her love for sharks.

I loved everything about this book. It brought back childhood memories of my love for sharks and all the info gathering I did to learn the different species. Taylor’s writing is amazing and kept me engaged. The characters are fantastic and I was torn between who I wanted Maeve to end up with, Daniel or Nicholas… I thought the background story was a brilliant tie-in and added another element of engagement. This is a perfect summer book!

 

Book Review: Salsa

Salsa by Mary Gordon Book ReviewTitle: Salsa
Author: Mary Gordon
Publisher: Vintage Books
Format: Digital ARC
Verdict: Read it!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Knopf: Brave, intelligent, fierce—eighteen-year-old Silvia knows how to handle men. When she discovered that her Salsa-dancing father’s been hiding an affair, she threw him out of the apartment she shared with her mother and changed the locks. But, Will is just so unlike the men that Silvia has known. He is privileged, irritating, and handsome. He wears disheveled clothes, never washes his tub, almost never eats sugar, and talks about faith and love. When Silvia falls ill, he takes gentle care of her until she recovers. And, when she gets an invitation to her father’s 50th birthday, Will urges her to go and offer a second chance to the one man she swore she would never forgive.

My Review: Eighteen year old Silvia carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. She’s closed the door on her relationship with her father – he’s become an angry man, strikes Silvia when she defends her mother and has having an affair with another woman. Silvia takes a job as a cocktail waitress to help her mother pay rent. Her upbringing was atypical and centered around her parent’s salsa dancing parties until the wee hours of the night leaving little time for academics. In their circle a pretty face was more important than a good education.

Everything changes when Silvia begins a relationship with the new guy at work, Will. Will is Silvia’s polar opposite – a rich, spoiled kid who takes for granted the things Silvia values. Will is kind and wants to take care of Silvia but she knows he can never understand where she comes from.

This is a lovely coming of age short story about courage, acceptance and second chances.

Thank you to Vintage Books and Netgalley for providing me this ARC in exchange for my own review.

Book Review: The Heirs

The Heirs by Susan Rieger Book ReviewTitle: The Heirs
Author: Susan Rieger
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Format: Digital ARC
Verdict: Borrow it from the library
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From PRH: Six months after Rupert Falkes dies, leaving a grieving widow and five adult sons, an unknown woman sues his estate, claiming she had two sons by him. The Falkes brothers are pitched into turmoil, at once missing their father and feeling betrayed by him. In disconcerting contrast, their mother, Eleanor, is cool and calm, showing preternatural composure.

Eleanor and Rupert had made an admirable life together — Eleanor with her sly wit and generosity, Rupert with his ambition and English charm — and they were proud of their handsome, talented sons: Harry, a brash law professor; Will, a savvy Hollywood agent; Sam, an astute doctor and scientific researcher; Jack, a jazz trumpet prodigy; Tom, a public-spirited federal prosecutor. The brothers see their identity and success as inextricably tied to family loyalty – a loyalty they always believed their father shared. Struggling to reclaim their identity, the brothers find Eleanor’s sympathy toward the woman and her sons confounding. Widowhood has let her cast off the rigid propriety of her stifling upbringing, and the brothers begin to question whether they knew either of their parents at all.

My Review: The Heirs was good but not great. Rieger is clearly a great literary fiction writer, the premise is good and the characters well developed and likeable but I wanted more from the story.

Eleanor Falkes receives a letter from Vera Wolinski six months after her husband Rupert Falkes dies staking claim to a portion of his estate. She says Rupert fathered her two grown sons and he promised to provide for them. Eleanor and their five sons, Harry, Will, Sam, Jack and Tom are floored by this news. Vera produces unconvincing evidence; a blurry photo of Rupert and their two sons and monthly payments received from an unknown Caymen bank account. Both are dismissed so she asks for paternity testing, which is impossible because Rupert was cremated and all of his personal effects donated to charity.

The boys find it all quite perplexing as Vera’s son’s bear a striking resemblance to their father; thinking it possible Rupert had another family they wonder who their father really was. With no conclusive evidence to prove paternity, Sam and Harry reach out to the men to make a financial amends.

The Falkeses are upper class, old money. They attended the best schools and had every advantage.  Eleanor was brought up by a strict disciplinarian and loveless mother and Rupert was an orphan cared for by Reverend Falkes. Despite the stodginess Rupert and Eleanor were kind and loving parents. But, beneath the surface of their perfect appearance each family member tells their recollection of Rupert and Eleanor’s marriage in alternating narratives.

My favourite character is Sam. I found him the most level-headed of the brother’s, the go-to guy when a brother or sister-in-law needed to talk. His relationship with Andrew has reached an impasse, Sam wants a baby and Andrew doesn’t. Sam and longtime friend Susanna, whose biological clock is ticking, consider raising a baby together.

Thank you to Blogging for Books, Penguin Random House and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my own review.