Monday, May 30, 2016

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss

Title: The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss
Author: Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt
Published: April 5th 2016 by Harper
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Genre: Memoir

Each time I picked up this book I came away with a different feeling. At times I was hopelessly sad for the little girl that was in the middle of a grown up war then only to find myself mad at her for her extreme naiveté. Slowly I found myself at a middle ground. It was not asked of me to judge or to accept, but to learn and that is what I feel that I took away from this book.

It was not until the part of the book where both mother and son could bond over their shared experiences of being fatherless children. Gloria’s father dying when she was less than two years old and Anderson’s when he was only a boy burgeoning on his teen years. How this one shared hole formed their complete lives. When a child loses a father, they also lose safety. They each chose different paths with this lose, but it was a mutual ground for them both. That is a large concept to grasp, but yet they both did with differing outcomes and emerging with a joint understanding and accepting bond.

The Rainbow Comes and Goes is a book about fear. I know that sounds strange but fear is a continuing theme throughout the book. Fear of a parent, of being alone or not being good enough. A fear of the unknown and of judgements. A fear that genetically you were bound to become your parent and that somehow you were responsible for their choices. This is a great deal for any child to be emotionally responsible for and it was surprising how the fears of a mother can be revisited upon their child.

There were many things within this book that I did not know and with each page something new would jump out at me. This is not a quick read, at various times, I found myself on the computer either looking up people or dates or even looking at the art that Gloria created and getting lost in a different world.

By the end, I enjoyed the comforting place that Gloria and Anderson found themselves in. They discussed people, marriages, children, death and parental roles. They had the conversations that parents and children should have but do not. Wounds were opened and exposed to sunshine that in turn allowed them to heal without the layers of scar tissue that they continued to carrying with them.

I still believe that the rich are different and because of that, Gloria still seems to be living in a fantasy world. This may be a world that she had to create just so she can get out of bed in the morning, but still it is a fantasy. As I said, I am not going to condemn a woman who has lived a life that was rockier than most and I applaud Anderson for starting this conversation with his mother on her ninety-first birthday. By the end, they both seemed more at peace and it is a place that they both needed to be.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Title: A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
Author: Sue Klebold
Published: February 15th 2016 by Crown
Format: Hardcover, 305 pages
Genre: Memoir

I have had very mixed feelings while reading this book. Seventeen years after the Columbine school shooting, Sue Klebold the mother of Dylan, has put her feelings and research to words and shares with the reader her journey through the nightmare. After the incident, the Klebold’s secluded themselves and now it is time for Sue to come forward and share with the reader what she has come to know.

From the “not my son” to the “I hope that he died so I would not lose him twice” to her dawning realization, in hindsight, of the clues that were there the whole time to coming out of the dark and into the light of a new world without her child. Sue shares her journey where she will always love her child but has to face the reality of what he did.

It would be easy to blame Eric Harris for including Dylan, but over the last seventeen years, Sue came to an understanding that it was just the perfect storm of two boys, one with a dynamic personality and one teetering on suicidal depression that lead them both to this ultimate showdown.

From time to time, I found myself getting mad at Sue; she used the term brain illness, which repeatedly came across to me as a form of excuse making. She said frequently that what happened was a murder suicide - that this was her son’s final act. I guess we would all use the terms that work for us. We do not want to blame the person that is in crisis and that we desperately love, but we do want the right person to be held accountable and sometimes the only one that can tell this story are the loved ones that are left behind.

From the beginning there seemed to be a naiveté when it comes to Sue. Perfect home life, perfect marriage and perfect children. No worries since dinner was on the table every night. That perfect bubble began to crack when Dylan and Eric had a couple of run-ins with the law, but still, Dylan was in therapy and graduating early from the program and all was going to be right with the world. She may have checked his room for drugs and stolen items, but no alarms or red flags arose because this was her Dylan with plenty of friends and even a prom date. If only she had known of the “Basement Tapes” and the angry vitriol that was boiling within her son.

I still feel that Sue was holding back. She mentioned lawsuits and I wonder from time to time if she did not go into depth out of fear of further retribution or if the pain is still too raw. I do believe that she had no forewarning of the pending events. She had seen signs of moodiness and stress with her son but attributed them to normal teenage things. If she had only known then what she knows now, everything would be different. When asked if she has forgiven Dylan she speaks of her need to forgive herself. That she is the one that had let him down.

I do not want to judge Sue, I truly am trying to understand the person that she was and the person who she is now. From April 20, 1999 to this day, she has been living a nightmare. She has been searching for answers and living with this burden. At times, her panic attacks were so acute that she began to understand her son’s suicidal impulses. A toll was taken on her health, her marriage and her remaining son, yet she still manages to put one foot in front of the other and now dedicates her life to suicide prevention.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Premonition of Murder

Title: A Premonition of Murder
Author: Mary Kennedy
Expected Publication: June 7th 2016 by Berkley
Format: ebook; Paperback, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Dream Club Mystery #3

At least this time they did not fully depend on dreams to solve the mystery - more along the lines of a gentle nudge and filling in the blanks.

In Savannah, Georgia, Taylor and her sister own a small candy shop and when they are not tending to the confection needs of their community and tourists, they are hosting weekly dream club meetings and either through symbolism or prophetic insights solving local mysteries.

Abigail Marchand is a local recluse that only opens up her home, Beaux Reves, for special occasions. Having been caught off guard, Taylor and her sister are invited for tea and hear a tale of premonition. The next thing you know, Taylor and Ali are knee deep in a murder investigation. When family secrets are unveiled, and the bodies start piling up, the women are in over their heads and beginning to wonder how this all tie back to an unsolved murder more than twenty years in the past.

As with most cozies mysteries, there are many parts that are glossed over and the central characters suddenly find themselves as experts in the most esoteric of fields. Side characters are bandied about and red herrings are dropped, but that is ok since the reader catches on quickly as to who the bad guys are.

There is a bit of rehashing of previous books, but I do not feel that the reader would need to start there. Each book is self-explanatory and comes to a complete ending with no big dangling question mark to make sure that you pick-up the next book. The Dream Club Mysteries are not my favorite series, but I do find myself coming back. Maybe it is the food talk, but I do find myself wondering what the Dream Club will be up to next.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun

Title: Sister Eve and the Blue Nun
Author: Lynne Hinton
Expected Publication: May 17th 2016 by Thomas Nelson
Format: ebook, Pgs 336
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Thomas Nelson for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: A Divine Public Detective Agency Mystery #3

This third installment is for diehard fans. The redundancy is over the top. While most authors reserve rehashing for the middle or possibly the end of the book, Lynne Hinton has taken this further and believes that it should be done at every opportunity and when she wants to change it up a bit, she uses annoying page filling by having the main character thinking aloud. This book tried my patients more than you could imagine.

Sister Evangeline Divine is in a quandary as to whether she should stay in religious order since the archbishop had decided that priests and nuns should no longer live under the same roof, or if it is time for her to leave Pecos and return to Madrid to help her father and his private investigation business. This is a heavy decisions lying on her heart, she loves the work that she does and the priest and sisters are her family and as everyone is spread far and wide is Eve ready to leave her beloved New Mexico. Now Brother Anthony is the lead suspect in his own sister’s death and he appears to have left the abbey in the middle of the night.

Dr. Kelly Middlesworth has arrived at the Pecos Abbey to give a presentation on Sister Maria de Jesus de Agreda. Prior to the conference, Anthony discovered pages from the 1600’s that had been written by Sister Maria during the event of bilocation with the Jumano Indians. Anthony was having second thoughts about his sister having this information and during this quandary, Kelly is found dead and Anthony is missing.

There are many characters within this story and a great deal of fluff. Characters are thrown about and there is no a straight line for the reader to follow and considering that this is very much a religious book, it is surprising the amount of woo-woo that is surrounding the path that the Lady in Blue has created for Sister Eve.

This motorcycle riding boot wearing nun is not what you think when you picture habits and abbey’s. While her biological sister is a bit on the wild side, Evangeline knew from a young age where her life would lead. The religious life suited her, granted she might have a brilliant mind when it comes to solving mysteries, but her true calling is taking care of people.

I am not sure where Lynne Hinton is going to take this series, but if it continues, the author has added an additional bump in the road in the name of Detective Earl Lujan and the funny tumbling feeling Evangeline Divine gets when he is around.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Christmas at the Beach

Title: Christmas at the Beach
Author: Wendy Wax
Published: October 15th 2013 by Penguin Group (USA)
Format: ebook, 52 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Series: Ten Beach Road #2.5

Usually I am not a fan of novellas. I do not understand why this little snippet of information cannot be included either in the previous book or as an introduction to the next. Maybe it is because the author does not know where they are going with the next book or an editor had taken out parts that were important to the next book in the series, I will never know. What I do find surprising is that this novella did not bother me. I had an hour to waste and this filled it perfectly.

Told from Kyra’s perspective, there is a bit of rehashing of the last book, Ocean Beach, and forward momentum with a major relationship change that would have made the ending of the last book more complicated. Everyone is looking toward to what the future will bring and their interpersonal relationships seem to be on the mend. This does not mean that their lives will be any less problematic, but Kyra has decided that they are the village that will help her raise her son and they will face each new situation together.

I am still loving this series. Not sure why I had picked it up in the first place since it is not my usual, but I am glad that I did since these women have really grown on me.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ocean Beach

Title: Ocean Beach
Author: Wendy Wax
Published: June 26th 2012 by Berkley
Format: Paperback, 448 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Series: Ten Beach Road #2

It is so refreshing to read a book where the main characters do not expect a man to rush in and save the day for them. Granted, in the first book, they agreed to let Chase lend financial assistance on getting their remodel project off the ground when a hurricane had destroyed Bella Flora, but that was only a minor setback and now the women are moving forward with the Millicent - a glorious art deco home on South Beach owned by Max Golden (if you are old enough, think George Burns of Burns and Allen fame).

There have been some upsets when it comes to keeping their show “Do-Over” on the air since the network wants to turn it into a sensationalized reality show instead of the home remodeling program that it was intended to be. A literal do-over, not only for the house, but also for their own survival. The paparazzi are still making their lives unbearable due to Daniel Deranian suddenly deciding that he wants to be more active in his son’s life; and each woman - Madeline, Avery and Nicole, seems to be at a crossroads.

Helping Max to fulfill Millie’s dying wish of fixing up the Millicent so their missing son can always have a home, the women befriend Max and together they turn the Millicent into a dream home and help Max to heal his broken heart and to shore up their own lives.

With this book, you will find a little romance, but not so much that you will roll your eyes, pasts are revealed, a new secret or two, a bit of amateur detective work, and more than a few strained domestic relationships. Overall, Wendy Wax pulls this delightful beach read together without going over the top and all the while leaving the reader wondering what these women can get up to next. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

15th Affair

Title: 15th Affair
Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Published: May 2nd 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
Format: ebook, Hardcover, 384 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Women's Murder Club #15

For me this book has a sluggish start. Granted, the dead bodies appeared early, but the whole Lindsay and Joe thing seemed to drag on for too long. For a take-charge kind of woman, to me, Lindsay came across as an insecure house mouse.

The last two weeks of Lindsay’s life has been utter chaos. She is the lead homicide investigator on four bodies in an upscale hotel with no evidence and very little identifications. An airplane bursts into flames moments before it touches down. A body is missing from the morgue. Lindsay suffers a beat down in front of her own apartment. Joe is missing but there might be more to that story (for die-hard fans, Joe’s backstory is finally revealed) and that has Lindsay on edge - and I still have not told you everything.

Trust is a big part of this book. Whose side is everyone playing on? Whose story is to be believed? Grudges are being paid back and honey pots are being set. When you are dealing with government trained liars, the stakes ratchet up quickly and Lindsay is in the middle of it all.

The other women of the murder club have very small parts in this book – which was a shame since I really enjoy them. It was not until the end of the book that everything got interesting. There was a slight rehashing to get the reader caught up, but in the end, I think all the questions were answered. All that is except for Lindsay, as I said, trust is an integral part of this book.