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review 2017-05-14 07:21
Woman No. 17
Woman No. 17 - Edan Lepucki

By:  Edan Lepucki 

ISBN: 9781101904251

Publisher: Crown 

Publication Date: 5/9/2017 

Format: 9781101904251

My Rating:  4.5 Stars

 

Edan Lepucki returns following California with her latest WOMAN NO.17 – a cleverly written twisty contemporary of motherhood, womanhood, relationships, and identity.

Infused with art in many forms, a web of deceit, dark and witty — a sinister look into a Hollywood family and complex relationships. When things are not always as they appear.

Think a "helicopter" insecure mom with a past; an impersonator, selective mutism, alcoholism, childhood traumas, a revealing photograph, narcissistic behavior, self-sabotage, social media (Twitter) obsession, time, age, a love triangle, and a bunny.

However, this is no typical “Fatal Attraction” . . . A modern contemporary saga: deeper, absorbing, and entertaining. No boiled bunny; however, a floating Peter Rabbit bunny.

An emotional powerhouse of a novel!

Being a child, daughter, and mother is painful." A burden. Told from different perspectives.

Set in Hollywood Hills, a part of the Santa Monica Mountains; a hillside neighborhood of the central region of the city of Los Angeles, California— Lady Daniels is married to Karl, a rich guy who appears to love his family and has given her the life she never had previously. Lady has not always had it so glamorous and able to live this lifestyle.

As we revisit the past, Lady was formerly married to a no-good bum, jack-ass Marcus. None of her girlfriends or anyone liked him. She gets pregnant and ready to have an abortion years earlier and Marcus wants her to keep the baby. Before their son, Seth is even a toddler, Marcus leaves with a little help and financial incentive from Lady’s mom.

Lady hated her mom. Vicious and gorgeous. They had not spoken in twenty years. A love/hate relationship. As a single mom, Lady raised her son, Seth, barely making ends meet. She is protective of him. He never speaks. Marcus never knew about his selective mutism. Then Karl comes along and they marry and are raising son Devin (age two) and Seth. He is a good father to both boys.

As the book opens, Seth is now nineteen, and Devin is a toddler. Devin is a constant chatterbox and talks non-stop, unlike his brother. Seth does not speak and talks via his iPhone, sign language, social media, and letters.

Lady and Karl have an argument regarding an incident about her son Seth. She asks Karl to leave for a trial separation; however, they have a unique relationship and still see one another. Lady does not know what she wants. She is very confused and troubled.

Lady had written an essay in Real Simple about the strains of parenting a mute child After it went viral, she landed a book contract to expand on the subject.

In her forties, she decides to hire a nanny to help take care of Devin, so she could spend her time writing. However, she goes to coffee shops among other things and never writes. She procrastinates and overthinks everything.

She hires a twenty-two-year-old girl, called “S”. S is not her real name. She connects with Lady and Devin. Immediately, Lady hires her without even doing a background check. She moves into the cottage.

Lady is needy and in desperate need of companionship. She makes crazy poor choices. She pushes Karl away, and overprotective with Seth, and does not have the patience for Devin. However, she and S soon become friends. Even though they have a twenty-year-age difference, the two have many things in common. Mainly their dysfunctional overbearing mothers. (and, Seth). The claws come out.

As the book moves on, we hear from Lady and S. We know early on, S has something up her sleeve. Lady has a past involving a photograph called Woman No. 17, taken by her sister-in-law, and nemesis, Kit. How will these three connect? (Lots of triangles in the book).

S begins working on a secretive art project and in the meantime, she becomes closer to Seth. (before/after) in reverse. They connect in more ways than none. He is working on a film plus much more. He also is a little naughty. S loves to drink as well as Lady. Lady is always hungry.

Readers learn more about Lady’s past and S’s family. Seth is mysterious with a secretive side. Lady thinks about Marco and wants him to meet (their) son. Karl is trying to get back together. Marcus is curious about his dad. Lady and S have their own secrets.

Stop. Drop. Dead. Private signs.

Twitter: @Sethconscious and @muffinbuffin41. Crazy action going on here.

Seth is a teen boy. Lady Daniel’s baby boy. He was like a wild animal, rarely seen and barely understood. He has selective mutism. Was Seth a skilled liar? Dangerous? S and Seth are both artists.

With all the drama and the deception, there are so many funny hilarious moments. One of my favorites one-liners, among many:

“Mommy,” Devin said, finally tearing himself away from the screen. “You done with your dog hair?”
I laughed and wiped my face with my sleeve. “Hair of the dog, baby."
"And, yes, I finished it. Go back to watching your show now. Mommy’s all right.”



Triangles: Seth/Lady/S, Marco/Karl/Lady, Lady/Marco/Kit, Seth/Kit/S, (Sure I am leaving out more).

A woman saddled with secrets. Guilt. Betrayal. A mother who straddles between love and doubt. A collision course. Two complex women. Secrets and lies. Lady is not as put together as she would like others to believe. WOMAN NO. 17 would make an interesting movie. (Very LA)

 



The author skillfully crafts complexities of life with a twist. A compelling portrait of motherhood. WOMAN NO. 17 is like nothing you will ever read. It is unique. The author is talented and delves into the human psyche. With flawed characters, written with a deep understanding of mothers, daughters, sons.

The best description (bullseye) and an accurate summary of the book (great review):

. . . “Despite the hint of deceit and scent of illicit canoodling in the air, Lepucki doesn’t appear to be interested in writing a trashy noir cum sly bodice-ripper, though some of the sexy scenes do get a pinch, well, rough. Pretty early on, it’s clear that she’s experimenting with exploring something deeper. Mainly: what it means to be a needy, vulnerable, passionate, discarded lover,
wife, daughter, and mother.” . . .

“Woman No. 17” is structured like a classic she-said, she-said. In odd-numbered chapters, we hear about events from Lady’s perspective —
and the scoop ain’t pretty. " . . .
San Francisco Chronicle.



Like the book based, mini- TV series, Big Little Lies, there is a façade. Twisted secrets. Friendships. Motherhood. Relationships. She was poor, lonely, and single when Lady met Karl. Did he ever really know the real Lady? Lady is coming unglued and her life is unraveling. Self-sabotage. The haunting photo.

Gripping. Provocative. Thought-provoking, and yet frustrating.

The book raises big questions about identity, ethics, art, parenthood, relationships, motherhood, social media and our modern digital age. A mix of intriguing, stimulating, unpredictable, mysterious, and utterly engaging.

I hit the literary jack box: I scored an electronic early reading copy from NetGalley, and granted an early print book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers, and purchased the audiobook, which sealed the deal!

My favorite narrator is Cassandra Campbell. I pretty much pre-order every book she narrates. Her voice is calming and soothing. She was a perfect Lady and Devin. Phoebe Strole was well-suited for the younger S! 11 hrs and 46 mins. Kept me entertained for days!

Ironically, I had just finished The Scattering (Strole) and The Book of Summer (Campbell) performing and directly afterward got to hear them both as a duo team.

Looking forward to reading more from Lepucki. Her writing is inventive, unique, sharp, fascinating, dark, mysterious and witty. I found myself dying to get back to the book. It was addictive. Strongly reminded of Ellen Meister’s The Other Life with the art connection, humor, and an honest look at the innermost thoughts of struggling women.

A special thank you to Crown, LibraryThing Early Reviewers, and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/01/Woman-No-17
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review 2017-04-29 17:52
Review: "Olive Juice" by TJ Klune
Olive Juice - T.J. Klune

"One thing that they don't tell you is that fires can't burn bright forever."

 

 

All the reviews for this book are like "OMG, I'm a blubbering mess." and "OMG, don't read any spoilers.".

 

So yeah, you REALLY shouldn't read any spoilers and just go along for the ride.

 

But there are two things that I just want to point out anyway:

 

1. TJ Klune has always been a great writer, but he outdid himself with this one. The writing quality is excellent, and given the heaviness of the story, it was beautiful, tasteful and one of the best-written books I've ever read.

 

2. Since everyone is recommending to avoid spoilers at any costs and go in blindly, I still feel like this book could have used a trigger warning, given the main target of M/M readers:

 

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

 

Trigger warning: abduction of a family member, with no final conclusion or explanation to the disappearance or the whereabouts

(spoiler show)

 

So while a romance this is NOT, the writing and the revelation of bits of information a little at a time totally worked for me. This has been one of the darkest and most depressing books I've ever read. But I'm glad that I did, because not everything in life is just rainbows, kittens and sunshine.

 

Oh, and just to be clear: there's a tentative HFN, so this can still be considered as a romance. Though just barely.

 

Thanks to Elsbeth and Cinna MMon for the BR.

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review 2017-02-26 09:34
The Nearness of You
The Nearness of You: A Novel - Amanda Eyre Ward

By:  Amanda Eyre Ward

ISBN:  9781101887158

Publisher: Random House 

Publication Date: 2/21/2017 

Format: Hardcover  

My Rating: 4 Stars

 
Storyteller, Amanda Eyre Ward returns following (2015) The Same Sky with another thought-provoking and gripping tale of four wounded characters in THE NEARNESS OF YOU. (Beautiful cover ).

What does it take to be a real mother? With highly charged topics, Ward delves deeply into the emotions of the human psyche and what it takes to be a family. A surrogate young girl goes missing, disrupting the lives of all that are near and dear to the unborn child.

Set in Houston, Texas –Hyland and Suzette Kendell are married and celebrating their anniversary. It is the year, 2000 and the couple have been married for fifteen years and approaching forty years of age.

Suzette is a successful heart surgeon and Hyland an architect. He came from a horrific childhood and he would love to have children and a family. His parents had been killed in a car accident when he was eleven and grew up in the foster care system. He now works from home and desperately wants a family.

However, workaholic Suzette had been upfront from the beginning, she did not want children. Her mom was mentally ill and in an institution. She most likely would always remain there until she died.

Her father had died years earlier and her mom went a little crazy- erratic and paranoid, causing serious trauma for Suzette during her childhood. She too was sick in college; however, controls it with her meds. They continue to keep her mother in a nice facility and sometimes she tells herself her mom is really dead.

Suzette does not want to pass this sickness to children. She wants it to end here. She could not be the easy, breezy, fertile wife Hyland might have wanted; however, she would not be made to feel that she was lacking.

They are now ready for surrogacy. Hyland would sire a child. He was delighted with the opportunity of becoming a father. He would medically impregnate someone younger who would carry the baby to term. Suzette could keep working without interruption. It was a win-win. Or so she thought.

Suzette panicked and was scared, similar to PTSD, due to her own childhood dramas. They find what they think is the perfect candidate and was going to pay her $35,000 to cover the cost. However, the gal backs out due to Suzette being busy with work. She was not going to apologize for doing her job.

In the meantime, Suzette deals with life and death daily. Giving life after ending life with tragedy at the hospital. She cared deeply for her patients and she connected better with the babies than the adults. Each was a reminder.

Months pass and there is another candidate. This girl was much younger and inexperienced. She had never been married and never had a child, like the first candidate.

As a last resort, they decide on Dorrie (age 21). She gets pregnant quickly. We hear from different POVs. She worked at Sea-o-Rama feeding penguins. She wanted to escape her life and get off Galveston Island. She could finally move away from her mother and her dull disappointment—away from the stories about her deadbeat dad. It meant a bigger life: college, and a chance to succeed. When she had seen the ad, she knew this was the only way to attain money for college. A way out.

However, could she lease her body, and then hand over her child? She would trade nine months of her life. She earned less than $10.00 hour at her current job. The gift of life. It was love versus money. Which would win out in the end? Could she go through with it? Or escape?

She could drive away from Texas and make a life on Grand Isle, Louisiana. She needed to escape her own sad mom’s depression and alcoholism. However, without money, how would she live and support herself and her unborn child? How will Suzette and Hyland go on knowing their child was out there somewhere?

Dorrie is a dreamer and wants to wrap herself around books and living in a seaside cottage. She dreams of a life with her baby. She is immature and not thinking of how. She cannot live in a motel with no money, especially when this couple had money and would have the cops or PIs after her.

On the run, she meets another lonely girl, Jayne taking care of her own disturbed junkie prostitute mom. Another young girl, trying to escape her surroundings for a better life. Will they find solace in one another? Jayne is intrigued by the girl in room 29. They hit the road together.
 


Later when an illness arrives, and more problems, things change. However, there are still some secrets which are not revealed until the end.

The author takes us on a hauntingly beautiful emotional heartfelt journey. Told with compassion - from tragedy, pain, loss, and love. What it means to be a mother. A family. When matters of the heart are conflicted. From “The Nearness of You" an old Ella Fitzgerald song, to a desperate search for a mother.

Can a woman who fixes hearts mend one close to her own? Fast forward fifteen years later.

Every character is searching for a mother’s love and acceptance. Guilt. A yearning for atonement. Courage. Your heart goes out to all the flawed characters (they do make some poor choices); a situation when there seems there is no easy way out. Someone will be hurt. What it takes to be a family. They are not always the traditional ones.

I loved the quote: “The mother is the one who stays in the room.” (no matter how difficult, when she wants to run and hide).

I read two moving and beautiful books in a row about motherhood. They come in all shapes and sizes each with their own set of struggles. Highly recommend both: Amanda Eyre Ward’s THE NEARNESS OF YOU and Sally Hepworth’s The Mother's Promise.

A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

JDCMustReadBooks
 
 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/10/05/The-Nearness-of-You
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review 2017-01-30 20:33
Review: "Gives Light" (Gives Light, #1) by Rose Christo
Gives Light - Rose Christo

"He broke away from my mouth and trailed his lips down the front of my throat. I felt his lips close around my scars. He kissed away their ugliness. His lips parted in tingling butterfly kisses that drained the strength from my knees. I realized he was mouthing words against my skin.

Not words. Just one word.

Mine."

 

Even though I'm WAY past my teen years (*insert heavy sobs GIF here*), I'm still such a sucker for a good YA or NA novel. I think every gay man is. The thought of "How would it have been to meet your one and only, your true soulmate at the age of 16?" has the potential for endless daydreams.

 

 

Give me a YA novel with a unique setting (this one's set in an Indian reservation), a first love-story between two teenage boys with a dark history and each of them with their own demons to fight, then add to that some truly beautiful writing (seriously guys, check out my latest updates!) and I'm in book heaven.

 

 

I would have given this wonderful and gorgeous story of Skylar and Rafael 5 stars, but I really missed a dual POV. Now I know that I will get Rafael's POV in a later book, but I wanted NEEDED at least a glimpse of his thoughts and inner turmoil in this book, too. Otherwise, this would have been the perfect YA book for me; I was so happy while I was reading it.

 

A thousand thanks to my friend Trisha who steered me towards this series with her relentless raving. You were absolutely right, love: I LOVED SKYLAR AND RAFAEL! I can't wait to see how their relationship progresses in the next books.

 

 

PS: I know this isn't the most coherent or elaborate review in the history of reviews, but I promise I'll do a better job during the next installments of this series. All you need to know at this point is that this book was all that I hoped for and more.

 

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review 2016-12-25 15:55
Review: "Fierce & Fabulous" (Sassy Boyz, #1) by Elizabeth Varlet
Fierce & Fabulous - Elizabeth Varlet

*** DNF at 61% because of CHEATING! ***

 

Note: the cheating wasn't completed, but only because Ansel's hookup freaked out when he realized that Ansel was a guy. Ansel would have totally gone through with it though.

 

So fuck this shit!

 

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