Posts Tagged: adult
A Sally Sin Adventure
by Beth McMullen
Hardcover 304 Pages
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
Rating: 3 Stars
On the surface, Lucy Hamilton looks just like all the other stay-at-home San Francisco moms. She takes her three-year-old son, Theo, to the beach, to the playground and to the zoo. She feeds him organic applesauce and free-range chicken. She folds laundry and plays on the floor with Matchbox cars until her knees ache. What no one knows about Lucy, not even her adoring husband, is that for nine years Lucy was Sally Sin, a spy for the United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction. And that’s just the way she wants to keep it – a secret. But when Lucy’s nemesis Ian Blackford, a notorious illegal arms dealer, hits the USAWMD’s radar, the Agency calls Sally Sin back to action to lure Blackford out into the open. Racing against time, Lucy must fight to save herself, her loving family – and, oh right – the world. Hilarious and resonant, ORIGINAL SIN is the story of one woman’s quest to find that most elusive work-life balance in the face of danger, intrigue, and proper recycling habits.
You know, I really do love a good mystery, and Original Sin has many of the characteristics of a good mystery: a strong lead, interesting characters, plenty of action and a well unraveled plot. Sally (or Lucy) looks to the world like every other paranoid, first time mother; with her purse filled to the brim with sippy cups and crackers, watching her 3 year old son’s every move. What everyone around her doesn’t realize is that her paranoia comes from experience, she has seen the worst the world can do and isn’t about to let it reach her precocious little boy (he is very clearly and only child).
I enjoyed the back and forth between current day and Sally’s past adventures with the USAWMD. You really get a picture of the whole Sally when you see both aspects of her life. Past and present begin to mingle and help you understand more of what is going one. The author does a great job of unraveling a little bit of the mystery at a time, building your knowledge of the big picture bit by bit. Even by the end of the book, you aren’t quite sure how everything fits together, leaving you to anticipate the next book in the series.
So, why if I enjoyed the mystery, do I only give this book a three star rating? This comes into content. I admit, I am a bit of a prude when it comes to the books that I read. To be honest, if I hadn’t been sent this book on review, I would likely have quit reading it after the 5th dropping of the “F-bomb” (about 2 chapters into the book). What I find curious about it’s use is that it appears to be the author‘s swear word of choice, because we see very little other swearing (a few other incidents here and there). There is also very limited sexual content (mostly all innuendo or a quick mention of what occurred, without much description). This leads me to ask, why include the aforementioned “F-bomb” so often if you kept the book fairly clean of anything else? I honestly really enjoyed the story-line and had it left out the swearing or limited it more I would easily have given this book a 4.5 star rating.
Content: quite a bit of the “F-bomb” and other minor swear words, mention of sex between adults and other somewhat sexual content (but fairly minor). See the paragraph above for more on the book’s content.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes. No other compensation was received.
The Little Women Letters
by Gabrielle Donnelly
Published June 7th, 2011
by Simon & Schuster
Page Count: 368
Book Source: Publisher
Vibrant, fresh, and intelligent, The Little Women Letters explores the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants—three sisters who are both thoroughly modern and thoroughly March. As uplifting and essential as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel will speak to anyone who’s ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her.
With her older sister, Emma, planning a wedding and her younger sister, Sophie, preparing to launch a career on the London stage, Lulu can’t help but feel like the failure of the Atwater family. Lulu loves her sisters dearly and wants nothing but the best for them, but she finds herself stuck in a rut, working dead-end jobs with no romantic prospects in sight. When her mother asks her to find a cache of old family recipes in the attic of her childhood home, Lulu stumbles across a collection of letters written by her great-great-grandmother Josephine March. In her letters, Jo writes in detail about every aspect of her life: her older sister, Meg’s, new home and family; her younger sister Amy’s many admirers; Beth’s illness and the family’s shared grief over losing her too soon; and the butterflies she feels when she meets a handsome young German. As Lulu delves deeper into the lives and secrets of the March sisters, she finds solace and guidance, but can the words of her great-great-grandmother help Lulu find a place for herself in a world so different from the one Jo knew? Vibrant, fresh, and intelligent, The Little Women Letters explores the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants—three sisters who are both thoroughly modern and thoroughly March.
As uplifting and essential as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel will speak to anyone who’s ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her.
Some things, of course, remain unchanged: the stories and jokes that form a family’s history, the laughter over tea in the afternoon, the desire to do the right thing in spite of obstacles. And above all, of course, the fierce, undying, and often infuriating bond of sisterhood that links the Atwater women every bit as firmly as it did the March sisters all those years ago. Both a loving tribute to Little Women and a wonderful contemporary family story, The Little Women Letters is a heartwarming, funny, and wise novel for today.
I have to confess something…I am a big fan of the original Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. When I was pregnant with my oldest child (my first and only daughter, to be followed by four boys) I really wanted to name her Jo because of Little Women. I thought Josephine was a bit heavy for a young girl, so chose the name Joelle instead, intending to call her Jo.Well, she turned out to be very feminine and Jo just doesn’t fit, but the fact that she was named for THE Jo illustrates what a huge fan I am of the original book.
When this book arrived with three others, I chose to read it first. The concept drew me in and I had to get started right away. But, I have to admit that it started off a little bit slow. I struggled to connect, at first, with the characters. But I continued on, determined to finish, and something amazing happened. Bit by bit, I came to love each character. Emma’s sensible nature, Lulu’s desire never to settle until she found what she loved, and Sophie’s enthusiasm for life drew me in. Fee, the Marmee figure, was a fun, independent mother who taught her girls to be strong, loving women. The women (all descendants of Jo March who knew very little of her life) resemble the three surviving sisters in Little Women, yet they have their own quirks and their stories don’t always follow the path you think.
I love the mix of modern day with letters from the past. We see more of the original March sisters through letters written by Jo to her sisters or Marmee. Lulu slowly learns the story of the March sisters through these letters (in this book, Little Women does not exist) and embraces her heritage.
My love for this book didn’t develop like a traditional romance. It took time. You know the kind I mean, right? Where you meet someone and he seems like and alright guy, but just not for you. The next time you see him to you notice his expressive eyes and friendly smile, but no sparks. A few days later you run into each other at the store and when he shakes your hand you get that butterfly feeling in your stomach and it takes you by surprise. Next thing you know you are sitting together at dinner discussing the future.
Do you need to have read Little Women to enjoy this book? Probably. You need to understand the characters of Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy and Marmee to see their connection with the Atwater women. That isn’t to say that someone who hasn’t read Little Women would dislike this book, but your enjoyment would not be the same. You won’t be mentally drawing parallels and contrasting the events that occurred in the original with the story in The Little Women Letters.
My Rating: 4.5 stars (yes, I know, I said it was slow to start but when I finished I sighed and though…”wow that was a great book)
Content: Clean, possibly mild cursing, but nothing I noticed
I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. No further compensation was received. Cover Image and synopsis from Goodreads.
At six and twenty, the impoverished Lydia Hathaway has endured bleak years of heartbreak, longing for a love that never came. Her deceased father’s foolhardiness has left her family bankrupt, and Lydia is eventually left no alternative but to take a position as the companion and governess to Susan Ashcroft of Danbury Park in Surrey. During the first days at her post, Lydia pines bitterly for a life she believes forever lost. Anxious for peace, she rambles one morning across the muddy wilds of the Ashcroft estate where she has a most unimaginable encounter with the notorious Lord Connor Denton. As their paths continue to cross, Lydia falls ever deeper in love with the charming rogue while battling against his growing assault on her heart. In spite of his forward attentions, she considers his behavior toward her as nothing less than idle flirtation. And why should she think otherwise? As the wealthy son of an earl, Lord Denton may choose from among the most beautiful women of England’s first circles–none to which Lydia claims inclusion. In spite of her indignation over Lord Denton’s rakish maneuvering, she anguishes beneath the reality that he is forever beyond her reach. Tormented in a relentless battle to suppress a love she cannot overcome, Lydia resolves to leave the Ashcrofts and Danbury Park forever. After all, she is nothing to Denton–isn’t she?
I make no attempt to hide that I am a huge Jane Austen fan so when I got this one in the mail I had to read it right away. Lydia feels like a cross between Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and is written in the language and style of the Regency Era. The landscape includes sweeping vistas of English countryside, old historic broken down castles, a bookstore with leather bound tomes and docks harboring slave ships. Everything about Lydia immerses you in the period it is written. It feels authentic and weaves historical fact and figures into the storyline without being dry. The language is flowery, at times slow paced, but with Lord Denton around to stir things up you’ll want to keep reading. He’s the perfect mix of gorgeous gentleman and fiery politician with a romantic side and witty sense of humor. He’s also way out of reach for Lydia as he’s in the highest social circles and she has been reduced to a governess after her father’s death. The two literally run into each other in the countryside as Lydia is returning from one of her adventurous jaunts in the woods. From then on you’ll be pining for them to run into each other even more. It also helps that Lydia has Charles around a resident at the Ashcroft’s. Brotherly kindness, absolute loyalty and endearing compliments make him a strong male character as well.
I easily lost myself in this one. It took me less than 24 hours to finish and I would recommend it to adults as a clean Regency romance. My only hesitation with it was that the ending seemed rushed and too neatly tied up. At times the main heroine’s self depricating and longing thoughts also seemed to drone on a little bit. I personally would have liked the book better without the Epilogue because I feel it tipped it out of something I would let my teen read into better suited for an adult. But overall, if you are a sucker for anything Jane Austen you will be a huge fan of Lydia. It would make a great movie and I’m hoping to see the author Wanda Luce release more books along the same vein. She makes history and social progress interesting as she mixes it with just the right sprinkle of romance. Thanks so much to Walnut Springs for another great release! Learn more at Wanda Luce’s website.