You Think It, I’ll Say It

By Curtis Sittenfeld

You Think It, I'll Say It: Stories by [Sittenfeld, Curtis]

4 out of 5 stars

I really enjoy a book of short stories. Of course, most of the time, I tend to love a few stories and not really feel anything for the rest. That was not the case here. I really liked every story and felt they completed a circle with each ending. I did not feel as if I was cheated for the short amount of time each story took. The characters were all fully fleshed out in each tale and I totally got what each of them was feeling. From the woman who thought her game of You Think It, I’ll Say It was leading her into an affair to a lawyer meeting up with a woman from her old high school on her honeymoon, I truly understood where they were coming from. It is a fascinating read and I heard that Reese Witherspoon is making a series based on the stories. I cannot wait to see them on the screen and see if I envisioned them the same way.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for a copy of this book.

How To Walk Away

By Katherine Center

How to Walk Away: A Novel by [Center, Katherine]

5 out of 5 stars

Margaret has always had a deep fear of flying. Her instincts prove to be true when her boyfriend , who has been taking lessons, takes her up in a little plane to propose to her. Everything is going fine until it isn’t and they crash. Margaret’s life is turned upside down. Everything she has ever known has changed in an instant. She is suffering from burns and she is unable to walk. Now in the hospital, the true colors of everyone comes out. From her mother who tells her what she should be doing, in her own loving way, to her fiance who is suffering in his own little mind. Pshaw, I say to Chip. Her sister Kitty comes back after being gone for three years for reasons unknown to Margaret and steps right into bringing her sister back around. And then there is Ian. Ian, who I pictured as Kip Harrington talking like David Tennant, the Scotsman who is her PT. Do sparks fly? Does Margaret get her life back? You will have to read this wonderful book.

I have read almost all of Ms. Center’s books except one, which I will remedy soon, and this one is one of my favorites. You will fall in love with these characters. All of them, well, except maybe Chip. Margaret is the perfect heroine in all her imperfections. She is just hilarious. It is funny. It is touching. It is perfect. I did not want to put it down and I am sorry it is over. Always the sign of a good book!

Thanks to The Girlfriend and St. Martin’s Press for this delightful book.

 

The Gunners

By Rebecca Kauffman

The Gunners: A Novel by [Kauffman, Rebecca]

5 out of 5 stars

A little group of neighborhood kids call themselves the Gunners after a name on the mailbox at an old deserted home. This becomes their go-to place over the years. It begins when they are quite small and into the teen years until one of them, Sally, cuts them all off completely. No one knows why. And now they are gathered together again for her funeral. Sally jumped to her death without a note, without anyone knowing really why.

Mikey has never left the town of Lackawanna, New York. He is slowly losing his eyesight from early onset macular degeneration. I think Mikey was the heart of the group. He was searching for a family because his father was rather standoffish and he never knew his mother. (Something that I figured out kind of early on but still got to me when I finally read it) He and Sally were very close as youngsters and she was protective of him. Alice is loud and funny and has a who cares attitude. (But really she does) She arrives with her young girlfriend. Jimmy was the charismatic, smart one. He too has his secrets. Lynn comes with her boyfriend Issa. They both run the AA in their town. Sam was the big, galoot of the bunch. All of them reunite for the night at Jimmy’s big cabin, which from the description, I want to live in. Stories are told, Truths come out. Memories are relived.

But the story also follows the afterward. We get to see them reunite again for a happy occasion.

I could not put this lovely book down. The story just flowed perfectly from person to person. Mikey, of course, had my heart. As much as I loved the whole story of friendship, my favorite two chapters were about Mikey and his dad together. They were quietly beautiful and had me in tears.

There was laughter and tears throughout. There were a few light bulb moments. It was everything the perfect story needed to be. A little reminiscent of The Big Chill, which is my favorite movie, so if you loved that, you will love this. Thank you Rebecca Kauffman for this beauty.

I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss and Counterpoint and I thank them.

What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw

By Leah Stewart

What You Don't Know About Charlie Outlaw by [Stewart, Leah]

4 out of 5 stars

Actor Charlie Outlaw gives an interview that he wishes he could take back. He says some things that aren’t really what someone you were in love with would want to hear and his girlfriend Josie Lamar is understandably upset. Charlie decides to take off by himself to regroup on an island. When he joins up with a group for a jungle hike, things take a bad turn and Charlie is kidnapped. The kidnappers have no idea that they have someone famous on their hands and they are not quite up to par in the kidnapping game so things go from bad to worse.

Back in California, Josie has no idea what is going on with Charlie. Josie is just trying to get auditions and live her life. Josie was once very famous for playing the butt kicking Bronwyn Kyle. (Picture a Buffy type) Little does she know that she will need to come to the rescue of Charlie.

The whole story is told by a narrator and at first, it was a little off-putting to me but once the story started going, I was all in. I pictured a Morgan Freeman type every time I started a new chapter. I loved the way I totally got to know both Charlie and Josie as the story progressed. I also loved a little delving into the world of Hollywood and fan adoration, especially a look at how things go behind the scenes at places like a Comic Con. Leah Stewart had this wonderful way of giving us a peek at the outlying characters too. They weren’t just extras, so to speak.  But it is the main characters that you will fall in love with. If you have not read any Leah Stewart (and I have read all her books), this might be a good one to start with.

Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin for a copy of this book.

 

The Baby Plan

By Kate Rorick

The Baby Plan: A Novel by [Rorick, Kate]

4 out of 5 stars

I wanted a nice bit of escapism and this was just the trick!

Three women, all different, find out they are pregnant and we get to follow along through the tears, laughter, gas, pains, weight gain, etc. Even in our differences, we are all the same. How many of us had strangers touch our pregnant bellies or had someone tell us their birth horror stories? Right?

Nathalie is the planner. Of course, as we know, things don’t always go as planned. Her husband is working a lot and that is messing up her need to plan everything down to the letter. She even has a big plan for how to tell the family that she is finally pregnant, on Thanksgiving! But then her younger sister throws up in the cornucopia with her own announcement.

Lyndi is young, unmarried and not as settled as Nathalie would like.  She seems to work on her own time frame. Hurry is not her middle name. She lives with her bisexual boyfriend/roommate Marcus. He might be my favorite character. I will call him Mr. Mellow.

Sophia is a makeup artist to one of the biggest stars and also already a mother to a teenager heading off to college soon when she finds out she is pregnant. Throw in a rather suspicious boyfriend and it makes for quite a mess.

Though some troubles come their way, it really is a rather joyful, fun book. I enjoyed the three main characters and it brought back a lot of memories of pregnancy. Nathalie’s gas episode is very funny. And the gender reveal party (who started those) was also a hoot. If you want to sit and not think too hard and just enjoy a good read, this is for you.

Thanks to William Morrow for a copy of this fun book.

Laura & Emma

By Kate Greathead

Laura & Emma by [Greathead, Kate]

4 out of 5 stars

You know when you take a long walk, in no hurry, and stop and look at all the little nuances around you? Well, that is what this book is like. I felt like I was peeking in on Laura’s life as she raised Emma. Emma was conceived in a rather strange one night stand but Laura let’s everyone think it was artificial insemination. Laura was raised in a well-to-do family in New York. And though she tries to believe she is different than most of the same kind of people, she really is not that different.

The books follows through Emma’s growing years. We get little snippets of each of their personalities. We see the family interactions. There is no great big story line besides the story line of life. (Which I guess cannot get much bigger!)

I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the slow pace. I enjoyed getting to know them.  I enjoyed the mother/daughter love/hate relationship. The ending left me kind of wondering but that did not take away from the rest of the story.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for a copy of this lovely little book.

An American Marriage

By Tayari Jones

An American Marriage: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club 2018 Selection) by [Jones, Tayari]

4 out of 5 stars

Celestial and Roy are a young married couple just starting out in life. She is starting out with a doll making business, more artsy than toyish. He has dreams of his own. A night back in his hometown leads to Roy becoming incarcerated. The story takes us through all of this in letters between the two of them. And there is also Andre in the equation. Dre is Celestial’s lifelong friend and the one who first introduced them.  As time passes in prison for Roy, Celestial’s life moves on and that includes a relationship with Andre.

There is an almost poetic tone to the writing in this novel. A few times, I had to stop and reread a few phrases, tossing them around on my tongue to really savor them. It is the complete circle of a love story and it’s done very well. It is also a timely topic about race. It is a very well written book and I am happy that I received a copy from Netgalley and Alqonquin Books.