Author: Jacqueline Levering Sullivan
Genre(s): Contemporary fiction; Romance
Review: Lovesick is such a lovely novel. It's whimsical, funloving, and smartly written. It begins with Jeanmarie and her best friend Terry. Together, they navigate their high school careers during the 1950s. Jacqueline describes the 1950s era fantastically with the local hotspot diner, milkshakes galore, and appropriate lingo. You will definitely feel like you took a blast to the past when reading this book. Jeanmarie is portrayed as the charismatic and charming best friend to the beautiful and popular it girl, Terry. They balance each other well within their friendship and I found myself reminiscing the days before social media when there was more genuine interpersonal contact. As the story unfolds, readers learn of Jeanmarie's lifelong crush on Chuck, who just happens to be her best friend's boyfriend. Terry and Chuck find their relationship in a precarious position as it appears they are both developing into different people than when they entered the relationship. Jeanmarie is essentially caught in the middle, providing support to her best friend as well as to Chuck. As I was witnessing the dynamic of Jeanmarie's situation, I found myself having a lot of empathy for her. Her character is easy to connect with and she reminded me a lot of myself and my friends from high school. On top of her friendships, Jeanmarie also maintains an interesting relationship with her sister Iris. Iris is the typical young woman who is searching for meaning and attempting to figure out what she stands for and what her values are. In the midst of her own journey, she is accused of being a Communist. Even though there was a complex interplay between all of the characters, Jacqueline maintained order with her writing and I never felt confused or lost within the story. There was excellent character growth from Jeanmarie. If you enjoy coming of age novels with a compelling cast of characters I highly recommend checking out this book!
Book Description: "I'm the best buddy, old best pal, faithful Jeanmarie. That means I keep my mitts off Chuck, even if he has had my heart since we were in fourth grade and he was the only one who didn’t laugh when I threw up my egg salad on rye during choir. It takes about all the willpower I can muster not to blurt out my undying love. I am destined to be one of those plain Janes whose friends are always prettier and richer and who know practically from birth you never ever wear white after Labor Day. It is 1953 and Jeanmarie Dowd is crazy about handsome Chuck Neary, captain of Rainier High School’s hockey team and boy wonder musician. But he belongs to Terry Miller, her best friend, the school’s reigning beauty. But Jeanmarie has a few things going for her, too. She is smart, fun loving, and energetic with a wicked sense of humor. She accepts her role as Chuck’s chief confident, knowing it that might lead to betraying her best friend. She also must deal with her sister Iris, suspected of being a Communist. Can she be loyal to both her sister and Terry without betraying those she loves most?"
Author: David Abare
Title: The Swing Over the Ocean
Genre(s): Literature and fiction
Review: This novel was such a refreshing read. Although the genre listed is literature and fiction, I would also add that this fits into the drama and thriller genres as well. I have yet to come across a novel, written by a man, that describes sexual intimacy, as well as other topics that are difficult to write about, with such elegance, tact, and thoughtfulness. The way David describes the scenes between Stephen Alexander and his love affair jumps off the page as relatable and realistic. There have been many occasions when I have read a novel with erotic or sex scenes that are just bizarre or unrealistic, so it was comforting to read from an author who writes for his audience. I also enjoyed how he portrayed the female character who Stephen has an affair with because she came across as most women would in her situation. I found myself rooting for her and for Stephen to wake up from his 'bad-boy' stupor and realize how his actions are impacting those around him. When I read contemporary fiction, I most enjoy being able to connect with the characters as if they were a part of my own life. David did an excellent job at creating characters that were easy to root for and that I wanted to follow along on their journey. There were other scenes throughout the novel, specifically regarding children, that were so well written especially given that the situations were incredibly sensitive and hard to think about. David made it clear what was happening without writing vulgar scenes and I think it takes a lot of thought and effort to do that. Additionally, each character had a significant role in the plot, which made reading more enticing. Sometimes supporting characters can get lost in the wash or are found to be insignificant, but it appears that David makes a point to develop each character with an aim to further the overarching story. The only thing that knocked this novel down to 4.5 stars was chapter transitioning. There were times (especially in the beginning) when I was not sure whose story I was reading sine there were multiple key players. It took a few paragraphs before it became clear who the chapter was about. I think this could have been averted with the character name at each chapter especially since it was from their point of view. Other than that, this novel was a joy to read even though there were heart wrenching situations encountered. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a thoughtful novel that entails drama, intrigue, mystery, and growth.
Book Description: ""A man saves a little girl, and as his world changes overnight, he hopes he can save himself." Stephen Alexander shouldn't have been there that day. He lives in her apartment yet spent the afternoon at the motel with another. Hours later he hears a girl scream, bravely intervenes, and then his world goes dark. Now millions want to know who he is-thinking he's one man-while he's sure he's another. The Swing Over the Ocean is a story about love amidst dysfunction, fear, and coming to understand what it means to forgive. It's also a story about the bravery in the willingness to change, despite the comfort in remaining the same. The Swing Over the Ocean begins as a crime thriller, yet resolves as an exploration of a man's past, as well as his soul."
Author: Kim Carter
Title: Murder Among the Tombstones
Genre(s): Mystery; Thriller and suspense
Review: Murder Among the Tombstones begins similarly to Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle in that the opening scene provides readers with insight into the murder that leaves the remaining characters in search for the perpetrator. As I mentioned in my review for Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle I enjoyed Clara and Iris immensely and their likability definitely carried over into this novel. The elderly women decide to open their own private investigation business after they uncovered a Ponzi scheme in the previous novel. A good portion of the beginning of the novel provides readers with a humorous start as Clara and Iris develop their new business into something worthy of the patrons. Readers also learn about the detectives working the murder case and how difficult their job is to find the perpetrator. As the story unfolds, Clara and Iris are called to help unveil the mystery. They add so much humor and realism to the novel; there were multiple times when I found myself laughing out loud at Clara and Iris's banter. I think the development of the plot was engaging and enjoyable to follow. I'd say this novel would be excellent if you prefer to have a lighter read within the mystery/suspense genre. This won't necessarily be a chilling read or the novel that keeps you up at night, but you will find yourself smiling and laughing throughout as a team of characters uncovers the truth about a terrible situation.
Book Description: "A Clara and Iris Mystery When Atlanta homicide detectives are called in to investigate the murder of a nineteen-year-old girl found dumped in historic Oakland Cemetery, they immediately begin working the case. But with no leads to follow, and their case log growing larger by the day, the murder quickly grows cold. Desperate to keep the investigation of her deceased sister going, Ginger Baines hires two novice sleuths to solve the case. Widowed, well into their seventies, and new to the world of private investigating, Clara Samples and Iris Hadley aren't your average private eyes. When a second body is found in a neighboring cemetery, the plot thickens. With two bodies wrapped, almost lovingly, in a soft blanket before being discarded in a cemetery, could a serial killer be on the loose? Joined by their young apprentice Quita, Clara and Iris are determined to stop at nothing to find the killer before they can strike again. But, will their bodies be the next ones discovered among the tombstones?"
Author: Kim Carter
Title: Sweet Dreams Baby Belle
Genre(s): Literature and fiction; Historical; Mystery; Suspense
Review: This novel starts out with an exciting scene that displays the cruelty of the villain, Dr. Grant Chatsworth. Although I much prefer for the mystery to be unveiled towards the end, I think the introduction alluded to how twisted the story would become. The beginning of the novel overall is quite simmering. It took about 100 pages for me to feel connected to Lizzie's character because she came across as lacking in depth. However, as the story progressed readers are able to see a lot more of her inner strength that was repressed over the years she spent as Dr. Chatsworth's young wife. Despite the main story following Lizzie and Dr. Chatsworth, my favorite characters in the novel are Clara and Iris. They are two best friends in the midst of retirement who get caught up in uncovering Dr. Chatsworth's scheme. The best part about these women is how they balance one another out. Clara is sensible and intelligent, while Iris is sassy and adventurous. I think their team work added a lot to the novel and it made it very fun to read. Overall, the writing style is very fluid and easy to follow, the storyline was unique, and the characters were intriguing. I recommend this to anyone who likes a slow burning mystery that also has humor.
Book Description: "Waitress Lizzie Headrick thought she had finally met her prince charming in Dr. Grant Chatsworth. She was young and in love, and their quick courtship ended with the four carat diamond engagement ring of her dreams. Now residing in one of Buckhead’s finest estates, Lizzie soon learns all that glitters is not gold. Her handsome husband, a renowned cardiac surgeon and developer of a new congestive heart failure drug, was becoming cruel and controlling. She finds herself captive in the vast expanse of his estate without a phone or car, and under the watchful eye of Flossie who runs the household. When Lizzie discovers that Cardiac Care Research, his drug development company, is a Ponzi scheme, she realizes her life could be in danger if she doesn’t somehow escape the gated mansion on the hill. Her only hope is to get to Biloxi, Mississippi and seek refuge with her sister, Maggie. Maggie and her husband, Leland, quickly find a safe harbor for Lizzie in a house on the bayou. However, the house at the end of the street might not be the quiet retreat Lizzie was hoping for. As the confines of her hideaway close in on her, she retreats to the small historical cemetery next door where the small, damaged tombstone of a child soon catches her eye and captures her heart. Just when Lizzie Chatsworth thinks her world can’t get any more complicated, she finds herself in the middle of a mystery from the 1800’s that is pulling her in and demanding she seek justice. As her husband’s empire begins to crumble, he’s more determined than ever to find Lizzie and eliminate her. But, will the mystery of the small tombstone end Lizzie’s life first?"
Currently Reading The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Lori
I am a lover of the written word. This is my space to pursue my love of reading through book reviews and literary discussions with my fellow readers.