Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk

I Heart New York: A Novel
I Heart New York: A Novel by Lindsey Kelk

The blurb:
Fleeing London and her cheating boyfriend, Angela Clarke hops on a plane to New York and rediscovers her sexy, stylish, confident self while building a new life in the greatest city in the world.

It's official.  Angela Clarke is in love -- with the most fabulous city in the world.  When Angela catches her boyfriend with another woman at her best friend's wedding, she's heartbroken and desperate to run away.  (Especially once she's confronted the bride and inadvertently broken the groom's hand, in front of the entire reception!)  Fleeing the messy situation and clutching little more than a crumpled bridesmaid's dress, a pair of Louboutins, and her passport, Angela jumps on a plane, destination -- NYC.

Holed up in a cute hotel room, Angela makes friends with a benevolent concierge, Jenny, a chatterbox Oprah-wannabe with room for a new best friend.  After a New York makeover, some serious retail therapy, and a whirlwind tour of the city, before she knows it, Angela is dating two sexy guys.  And best of all, she's gotten her big break as a writer -- blogging about her New York escapades for a real fashion magazine.  But while it's one thing telling readers about your romantic dilemmas, it's another figuring them out for yourself!  Angela has fallen head over heels for the Big Apple, but does she heart New York more than home?

Looking for a fun, light read that celebrates NYC?  I Heart New York fills the bill perfectly.  Suspend disbelief and join Angela Clarke as she leaves her boyfriend of 10 years after discovering him with someone else.  Angela comes to NYC with no hotel reservations, friends or plan, but she has amazing luck.  As she tells Jenny, the concierge, her story,  she makes a friend.  And Jenny helps Angela find her bearings in the city.  A New York City makeover and thousands of dollars later, Angela draws the attention of a generous and charming Wall Street banker and a hot musician.   As Angela juggles the two men, she snags a writing job. 

It's fun to imagine a life like Angela's where everything somehow comes together.  Reading the book makes me want visit Angela's New York, to explore the New York outside my doorstep. 

ISBN-10: 0062004352 - Paperback $13.99
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Original edition (September 7, 2010), 320 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Lindsey Kelk
is a writer and children's book editor in New York City.  When she isn't writing, reading, or watching more TV than is healthy, Lindsey likes to wear shoes, shop for shoes, and judge the shoes of others.  I Heart New York is her first novel.  It has been folllowed by I Heart Los Angeles and I Heart Paris.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault
In Search of the Rose Notes: A Novel
The blurb:
Eleven-year-olds Nora and Charlotte were best friends.  When their teenage babysitter, Rose, disappeared under mysterious circumstances, the girls decide to "investigate."  But their search -- aided by paranormal theories and techniques gleaned from old Time-Life books -- went nowhere.

Years later, Nora, now in her late twenties, is drawn back to her old neighborhood -- and to her estranged friend -- when Rose's remains are finally discovered.  Upset over their earlier failure to solve the possible murder, Charlotte is adamant that they join forces and try again.  But Nora was the last known person to see Rose alive, and she's not ready to revisit her troubled adolescence and the events surrounding the disappearance -- or face the disturbing secrets that are already beginning to reemerge.

In Search of the Rose Notes   is a engrossing read. The uneven childhood friendship between Nora and Charlotte provides drama and moves the story forward as they each try in their own way to solve the mystery of their babysitter's disappearance.  Nora is a much more sympathetic character than her privileged friend.  As Nora reaches out to and meets with people that she knew back then, when she was "the last person to see Rose alive" we can picture her high school experience - not fun - and clues to Rose's mysterious disappearance.

Full of emotion, mystery, and unexpected twists, In Search of the Rose Notes is a complicated an unexpected read.

ISBN-10: 0062012320 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (July 26, 2011).
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Emily Arsenault is the critically acclaimed author of The Broken Teaglass, a New York Times 2009 Notable Mystery.  She lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell

I'm happy to welcome everyone to the last stop of TLC 's book tour for Gail Caldwell's Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship.     There are a few friendships that leave their mark on us.  In sharing the details of her friendship with Caroline Knapp, Gail Caldwell is frank, funny, and complex. 

She told met later that she had been walking around that day exhausted, half undone by the exposure she was getting, and that talking to me had been a balm--I was more interested in her dog than in her book sales.  So was she: We were like new moms in the park, trading vital bits of information about our charges that was enthralling only to us.  I mentioned a two-thousand-acre wooded reserve north of the city called Middlesex Fells, where I was training my headstrong sled dog to run off-lead, and Caroline asked how to get there.  Because the route was complicated, I explained it self-consciously, afraid that she was being polite and I was being long-winded.  The place was half an hour away, tough to find even without traffic, and only someone devoted to training as I was, would ever bother to find it.
A week later, at the Fells, I heard someone calling my name across Sheepfold Meadow, and I saw Caroline on the edge of the grounds, waving and smiling.  I was surprised and pleased--she must have actually remembered my byzantine directions, then followed through. Paying attention, I was would come to find out, was one of the things Caroline did. She called me a few days later to propose a walk together; when she couldn't reach me, she called again.  An introvert with a Texan's affability, I was well-intentioned but weak on follow-through; not without reason did an old friend refer to me as a gregarious hermit. I wanted the warmth of spontaneous connection and the freedom to be left alone.  Caroline knocked politely on the front door of my interior space,  waited, then knocked again. -- Gail Caldwell in Let's Take the Long Way Home
Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship
The blurb:
They met over the dogs, both writers, Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp became best friends, talking about everything from their shared history of a struggle with alcohol to their relationships with men and colleagues, and their love of writing and books.  They walked the woods of New England and rowed on the Charles River, and the miles they logged onland and water and became a measure of the interior ground they covered.  These two private, fiercely self-reliant women created an attachment more profound than either of them could ever have foreseen.  With her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion and grief in this moving memoir about treasuring and losing a best friend, and coming of age in midlife.

I loved Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship.  It is easy to picture and relate to the life she describes in brief, "single woman, doesn't want kids, loves dogs."  I'm tempted to quote Caldwell's long explanation as well because she says it so well.  But then I've marked my copy of the book in so many places and I realize that quoting whole sections of her book makes for a boring review. 

What I loved about the book and why I recommend it: Caldwell writes so well and the story of their friendship will remind you of the best friendships that you've made.  The humor, support, kindness, and closeness that Caroline and Gail shared come across so well. 

The  independence and strength that Gail and Caroline seem to share is inspiring as well.  The book reminds me of the times when I've felt as independent, certain and strong and of the people that help us stay strong.   It's not that Let's Take the Long Way Home is in any way a self help book.  But reading about Caroline and Gail, their lives and stories,  encourages us to better understand our own. Beautifully written, incisive, and funny, Let's Take the Long Way Home is a book to savor.

ISBN-10: 0812979117 - Paperback $ 14.00
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 9, 2011), 224 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.

About the Author:
Gail Caldwell is the former chief book critic for the Boston Globe, where she was a staff writer and critic for more than twenty years.  In 2001 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.  She is also the author of a memoir of her native Texas, A Strong West Wind. Caldwell lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Midnight on Julia Street by Ciji Ware

Midnight on Julia Street
Midnight on Julia Street by Ciji Ware

The blurb:
Feisty reporter Corlis McCullough isn't afraid to push boundaries in the name of journalistic integrity.  When passion for the truth lands her in New Orleans in need of a job, an assignment in a TV station pits her against her old college nemesis, King Duvallon.

The sultry streets of the French Quarter, the glamorous Garden District, derelict riverfront cotton warehouses, and gritty back alleys come alive as the reporter's story inexplicably slips between the 19th century and today.  A long-forgotten drama of blackmail, swindles, and a love affair that is still changing lives leaves Corlis and King wondering if their burgeoning, unholy attraction will render them pawns in a matrix of mystery and deceit.

Largely set in present day New Orleans, Midnight on Julia Street follows the gutsy, independent and stubborn tv news producer Corlis McCullough as she starts yet another new TV production job.  Corlis has great instincts but she's a bit like a terrier - she doesn't give up on a story and isn't one to cave to politics or her networks' affiliations.  This has held her back in her career and repeatedly gets her into hot water.

To add to the mix, she bumps heads with King Duvallon, an enemy of sorts from college.  King and has frat brothers had poked fun at Corlis when she wrote for the college paper. Corlis had retaliated strongly and gotten King expelled.  Decades later, the two find themselves somehow on the same side.  Their truce, new friendship and possible romance heats up Midnight on Julia Street.  The novel gets even more interesting with Corlis's new ability to see into the past.  She somehow finds herself transported to New Orleans in the 1800s and her visits help her to piece together parts  of a long forgotten mystery.

The novel isn't really paranormal, the trips to the past add to the storyline and act as a device to teach us about the main characters' relations and to reveal clues a mystery from the past.   Midnight on Julia Street is a fun read.  My one criticism is that I found  Corlis's voice - especially in her internal monologues - a little annoying.   That's just my personal opinion and I realize other people might connect better with the lead character.  Overall, Midnight on Julia Street is a fun escape.

ISBN-10: 1402222726 - Paperback $15.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011), 512 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Ciji Ware has been an Emmy-winning television producr, a reporter, writer, event speaker, and host of radio and TV programs.  A Harvard graduate, she has written numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including the award-winning Island of the Swans.   When she is not writing, Ciji Ware is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel fancier and a dancing aficionado. She and her husband live in San Fransisco.