Tag Archives: wealth

Still Me by JoJo Moyes

The thing about author JoJo Moyes is she has the rare talent of making the characters in her novels come alive drawing the reader into the story and leaving them anxious to continue their relationship with these “old” friends.

That is why so many of us can’t wait to read Still Me, a continuation of the saga of Louisa Clark which began with Me Before You where she falls in love and “loses” Will Traynor, a quadriplegic in her care. In After You, Louisa tries to recover from her heartbreaking loss but her plans are interrupted by a life shattering fall from her rooftop where she meets Sam, the paramedic on the scene who assures her that she will survive this ordeal.

That’s the story of Lou’s life, one disaster after another, many due to her big heart which opens her up to the hurts of the world. While her relationship with Sam is definitely moving in the right direction, the voice of Will whispers in her ear to live big and experience life – “Live boldly, Clark” – so when the opportunity pops up to move from her home in London to New York City to be an assistant to a high profile businessman’s wife who has some emotional issues, Louisa packs up and heads out for a new adventure.

In Still Me, Louisa does not disappoint as she deals with her host/hostess and tries to find her place within the confines of Manhattan. Her task is not easy, but she has Nathan, the coworker from her time with Will, as well as a friendship with Ashok, the ever present doorman, and his family who are trying to save the local public library in Washington Heights. She even develops an uneasy peace with Mrs De Witt, the crabby neighbor with a pug dog who constantly complains about everything. Maintaining a long distance relationship with Sam is more difficult than either of them expected with complications at both ends, including Joshua Ryan, a dead ringer for Will who keeps popping up in unexpected places. Yet Louisa handles life with integrity remaining true to her own ideals and discovering an inner strength and fortitude which helps her through the ultimate crap life keeps throwing in her path. Her quirky sense of style, including a pair of bumblebee tights, somehow seems right in a city where everyone has their own point of view, and helps her find other fashion enthusiasts who appreciate her vintage tastes.

The reader also touches base with characters from both of the previous novels along with some new faces, allowing us to bone up on the “gossip” about their current doings. While you don’t need to be familiar with the first two books in the series, there are constant references to previous events which might be confusing to the first time reader. It is surprising that so much has occurred over the three year span between the beginning of book one to the end of book three, but the whirlwind of activity makes for some fine reading.

Even though I was able to predict a lot of the hassles Lou faced, there were still a few “ah ha” moments, but either way, as a lover of soap operas, I couldn’t wait to discover the details of the next chapter in her life (and I wasn’t disappointed). I am aching to discuss my favorites parts of this story, including the letters, but am resigned to wait for my friends to catch up and read Still Me for themselves. Five stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads.

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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

What would you do if you were visiting the neighbors next door while your 6 month old daughter slept in her crib and returned home to find her gone? Kidnapped! That horrible scenario is the premise of the novel, The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.The police are called but their investigation yields very little and not even the couples plea for help through the press or the offer of a lucrative reward (provided by some wealthy grandparents) turns up enough insight to provide a substantial lead in the case. As Detective Rasbach conducts multiple interviews with the parents, Anne and Marco Contis, he starts to believe it’s an inside job involving either one or both of them despite their united front and obvious frantic distress. He even suspects the child, Cora, is dead.

Despite the lack of pertinent information, things begin to happen, secrets are revealed, marriages become stressful, and friendships are torn apart. Anne can’t help but despise her once close friend, Cynthia Stillwell, who didn’t want little Cora mucking up her dinner party, forcing them to leave their child home alone when the babysitter canceled at the last minute. On top of that, she’s angry about the drunken hanky lanky on the porch, probably at the very moment her child was being kidnapped. How could her husband respond to their neighbor’s flirtation? With everything going wrong, she suspects the worst.

It’s up to Detective Rasbach to unravel the case, discover the real criminal(s), and hopefully recover a living babe and not a corpse. Numerous twists and turns keep the reader guessing until the final few chapters.

While this book had potential and did deliver on the suspense, there were a few flaws which took away from my enjoyment. Number one was the simplistic narrative and the use of present tense which at times made for awkward reading. Then there was the repetition, a constant “let me gather up the facts” – listing them over and over as if the readers are idiots who can’t keep a thought in their head. However it is a quick read and there are enough clues that the climax is more of an “Oh yes, I see” and not a “Huh?” plus the ultimate conclusion has a sense of poetic justice. Still, the writing itself held the book back and there were a couple of loose ends which didn’t make sense.

Three stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I also received a “hard” copy from Goodreads.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Austen fans, if you are looking for a modernized retelling of Pride and Prejudice, be forewarned, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz is not the book for you. The author would have been better off forsaking the classic and simply developing her own story without a nod to Elizabeth and Darcy.

A novel set in the contemporary Northeastern part of the United States, the book is full of cultural references to televisions, movies, and music which will be familiar to the average reader. Our main character Darcy Fitzwilliam is visiting her home in Pemberley, Ohio after an eight year hiatus as she built an empire as a business mogul (hedge funds) in New York City. Avoiding her disapproving dad who threatened to cut her off when she refused to marry the local boy from a good family, the 29 year old set out to prove herself. However, she was not too proud to come running home after her mother suffered a heart attack.

With Christmas just days away Darcy was forced to attend the family holiday party filled with acquaintances she’d just as soon never see again. Yet her best friend Bingley Charles shows up and when she introduces him to one of the Bennett boys (Jim), the two hit it off and a romance is in the happening. After drinking one too many of her mom’s potent eggnogs, Darcy is heading back upstairs when she runs into Luke Bennett, her high school debate team adversary. Caught under the mistletoe they exchange a kiss which turns passionate, causing both their hearts to skip a beat. Taken aback they blame it in the booze, remembering their background as enemies. Still, Darcy keeps wondering “what if” even as she resumes a relationship with Carl Donovan, her on again, off again boyfriend from high school days, who is ready to make a commitment. Luke is also dating and girlfriend Charlotte Collins is more than willing to wear his ring. Miscommunications and missteps occur along the way with hurt feelings which must be smoothed out and explained before a happily ever after ending.

A simple narrative without a lot of action and barely tolerable dialogue, even the Christmas setting can’t save this one. It was difficult to be sympathetic towards the main characters and Darcy was a real piece of work. I can’t help but wonder if Cruz ever read the original, perhaps relying on a graphic novel version for her plot points. The best thing I can say about this book is that it is short. Two stars.

A thank you to Netgalley and St Martins Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on Gotta Read.

Miriam’s Secret by Jerry Eicher

What would happen if you unexpectedly won two million dollars? Haven’t we all dreamed about how our lives would change and thought about the things we’d buy with our new found money? Now imagine that you are Amish from a proud, poor family that doesn’t even believe in selling their wares to the “Englisha” to improve their daily life. Just think how it is to be so poor that you eat potato soup for dinner with a full meal a once a week treat. Or imagine that your oldest daughter must go to work to help support a large family with ten children and one on the way. As sister Shirley exclaims, “The Yoder family is poor, really, really poor and Daett seems to like it that way.” That is the premise for the novel Miriam’s Secret by Jerry Eicher.

Miriam Yoder, a sweet, kind-hearted girl rooted in the Amish way, has a good paying job helping care for the elderly Mr Bland. The two form a loving father-daughter-like bond so that when the old man dies unexpectedly, Miriam stands to inherit his entire farm which is free and clear from debt. This makes her a wealthy heiress, so that suddenly her plain looks don’t matter to potential suitors. Nobody knows, not even her parents, about the additional two million dollars from her inheritance which her lawyer is managing.

Welcome to the mindset of the Amish. What we Englisha would think of as a joy, is only a hurtle to overcome for these god-fearing people who believe in a simple, hardworking lifestyle. Miriam worries over her new found fortune and decides to move from Possum Valley in Holmes County (the busiest Amish tourism center in America), to the quieter Coalgate Community in Oklahoma where her Aunt Fannie is expecting her first child. The Amish in this new homestead welcome Miriam with open arms and her Uncle William’s nephew, Wayne Yutsy, seems to appreciate her finer qualities. If only she could be certain that he isn’t more interested in her farm than in her personality.

This novel is a quick read and the author is knowledgable about the Amish way of life since he was also raised in an Amish Community. Although the beginning of the book caught my interest, as the plot progressed there was too much repetition of the main character’s thoughts surrounding their angsts. While details of life in an Amish community were fascinating, at times the plot dragged. Also, there was no resolution to the major problem addressed, so the story was never completed. Since this is Part One in the Land of Promise series, the reader must wait for the second book to discover what happens next. I’m not a fan of series where each novel can’t be read as a stand-alone, so the ending was a disappointment. In essence – Miriam’s Secret started with a bang, but petered out to a whimper. However, I am curious enough to want to read the second book to see what the author has in store for Miriam and her family. Three stars due to the above mentioned disappointments.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Harvest House for allowing me to download a free preview of this book in exchange for an honest review.