Thursday, March 13, 2014

review: the savages by matt whyman

There’s something different about the outwardly normal Savage family. As the book opens, their family secret is about to come out as a private investigator is looking into the father’s business. But that’s not all the family has to worry about: teen daughter Sasha has started dating a vegetarian, 12-year-old prankster Ivan pulls a prank that goes too far, and the mother’s spending is out of control. The characters are fantastically drawn and the incorporation of some self-righteous vegetarians is perfect given the peculiarities of the Savages’ own diet. The amusingly dark storylines converge in a fabulous way, but the ending is unsatisfying with many loose ends (likely because The Savages is intended to be the first in a series).
Review copy provided by the publisher, Overlook.

Friday, March 7, 2014

review: the divorce papers by susan rieger

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When criminal law attorney Sophie Diehl is asked to interview a prospective divorce client (the firm’s divorce attorneys just happen to all be busy), she agrees with reservation but the assurance that it will be the only thing she has to do before returning to her regular duties. That is, of course, not the way things go as the client wants Sophie to represent her. With Sophie’s 30th birthday fast approaching on the heels of yet another failed relationship, working on a contentious divorce involving custody of a young girl (who broke my heart!) brings up issues stemming from the divorce of her own parents. Although Sophie takes the lead in The Divorce Papers, the other characters are as vividly alive as she is due to the interesting format of the novel. The Divorce Papers is entirely correspondence, newspaper articles, and legal briefs. This choice created some distance while also allowing for details that one would not get in some other form. The short sections filled with such high emotions also made it very easy to keep saying, “one more page,” until the last one was reached.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Crown.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

review: happily ever after by elizabeth maxwell

Happily Ever After opens with the erotica that Sadie Fuller is writing under her pseudonym, but follows with Sadie’s decidedly unsexy personal life. She’s the self-described overweight ex-wife of a gay man with whom she shares a daughter. Sadie’s life goes along normally, if not boringly, until she spots a gorgeous, but confused man while she’s shopping at Target. It doesn’t take long before Sadie discovers that this man is the character from her manuscript! From there, Happily Ever After ends up being a mix of genres as paranormal elements combine with erotica, romance, and women’s fiction. Via Sadie’s commentary on being a novelist, Elizabeth Maxwell addresses the mixed genre issue which helps make it all work. The characters here were great and it was thoroughly enjoyable when Sadie lost control of her manuscript and then her life.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Touchstone.