01 November 2013

Blog Tour: A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer

Stops on the Tour

November 1st    My Home of Books
November 2nd  A Book Addict's Musings
November 3rd  Melina's Book Blog
November 6th  My Recent Favorite Books
November 7th   Griperangs Bookmarks
November 8th  The Book Bag


Publisher: Ballantine Books through Random House
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
List Price:  $18.00 Hardback
                $ 7.99  Digital Edition
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Chick-Lit
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 This book was provided by the author in exchange for a review. 

The Season is upon us.  No, I don't mean the Christmas season, I am talking about the "holiday book season".  You know, that time of year when authors entice us with stories stories built on and around Thanksgiving and, especially, Christmas.  This trend seems to be especially prevalent in the Chick-Lit genre.  Many of my reading friends look forward to this time of year when they can count on their favorite authors to put out new holiday stories that they can immerse themselves in.  It is a tradition that, for some readers, is as important in marking the holidays as decorating the tree and singing carols.  As the slew of Christmas books come out to celebrate the season, it can be hard sometimes to decided which ones to read and which ones to skip.  I have read, and reviewed several lately that are worthy of the Christmas read.  For me, the best of the bunch so far is A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer.  

A Nantucket Christmas takes place, as you can guess, on Nantucket Island.  Retired nurse Nicole and her new husband, Sebastian are two people who met later in life and fell in love.  Their Christmas plans include a visit from Sebastian's adult daughter, Kennedy, her husband, and their three-year old son Maddox.  To call Kennedy and adult, though, is using the term loosely.  Kennedy is spoiled, rich, self-centered, and, to top it all off, 8 months pregnant.  You can probably guess that combination is not one that bodes well for a festive, fun Christmas, especially since Kennedy views her step-mother as an interloper.  

Thus the stage is set for this "slice of life" story about the forging of new family bonds.   The biggest problem with "slice of life" stories is that they can be both lacking in conflict and somewhat formulaic. Especially in one that has only 145 pages.   In the case of this story, though, there was plenty of conflict to go around between  Kennedy and her step-mother and Sebastian and his ex-wife too name a few. And while the story was a bit formulaic, I felt the writing was good enough to overcome that aspect.  Besides, most of the reason we read these stories is because we know where they are going and we like where that is, right? 

In addition, this book was filled with interesting characters.  First and foremost, there was Kennedy.  Some may say that no adult woman, especially one with a child, could be so self involved.  To me that was the fun of her character.  I could safely dislike her, roll my eyes at her when she was at her worst, and yet, I could also sympathize with her a bit.  Nicole was also a great character and I loved the way that the author used her to highlight both the stress inherent in the season, and the stress inherent in the situation.  I also liked Maddox and particularly enjoyed his three-year-old antics.  Perhaps my favorite, though, was Snix/Pooh, the dog.  While by no means a major character, I enjoyed reading about his life and seeing things through his eyes.  

 Since so many of the Christmas stories out there center around romances (which I enjoy), I found the focus on the family in this book to be a welcome change.  In addition, at just 145 pages it was a quick read and I would recommend it for those of us who like the holiday story genre.  

30 October 2013

Tuesday's Review: Accidents Happen by Louise Millar

A copy of this book was provided through Netgalley in exchange for a review. 

Publication date:  June 25, 2013
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestier Books
List Price:  $15.00 Paperback
                  $ 10.00 Digital Copy
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The first thing I noticed about Louise Millar's book Accidents Happen was this was going to be one of those books where things were not what they seemed.  As the story progressed, that feeling was reinforced time and again.  Interestingly, though, even with the feeling getting stronger and stronger, I was never quite able to put my finger on exactly what was wrong.  

Kate Parker is a single mother who has seen more than her share of tragedy.  She lost her parents to an auto accident on her wedding day, her husband was murdered, and her house has been broken into at least once.  That is enough to make anyone look over their shoulder, but for Kate it drives her to extremes.  She begins to keep track of statistics on accidents in her head, pulling them out and mentally reciting them over and over until she feels in control again. In addition, she becomes convinced that she is not safe in her own home.  Both behaviors leave her young son, Jack, frustrated and afraid, and her in-laws convinced that she has lost touch with reality.  

There were several things that I really liked about this book.  First of all, the story line was interesting on several levels. I can only imagine what devices I would use to cope if I had so many tragedies befall my life in such a short time.  In addition, even though I tried to figure out what was going on, I could only place my finger on the whose, not the whys.  If an author can do that to me, I am usually sold.  And, although it had nothing to do with the story, I especially liked the author's choice to include the information about Frano Selak, dubbed "the world's luckiest man."  Little tidbits like that, that give insight into the author's thought process when writing a book, really peak my interest. 

The characters in the book were spot on, too.  Kate had just the right amount of dysfunction contrasted with her will to improve.  My feelings for her alternated between cheering her on in her recovery and wanting to slap her for backsliding or being stupid about something.  I'm pretty sure that is the gamut of emotions that I would have if I knew someone in real life like her.  The supporting characters were also true to what I would expect, especially her in-laws who are trapped between worry for Jack and exasperation at her antics, and her sister-in-law who feels trapped by circumstances, bewildered at the loss of her friend, and ultimately caught in the middle of the family drama.  

This is the first of Louise Millar's books that I have read, so I did not have any preconceived ideas of what to expect or where the story might lead.  In addition, this allowed me not to be disappointed in the similarities between this book and her other one, as some reviewers have been.  What I found here was a compelling story with real characters, and although the ending did seem a bit formulaic, it fit the story well.