Category Archives: SheKnows

Review: Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (March 13, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0312591829
  • Source: Publisher

Andi waited all of her life to find the perfect man, finally finding him at age thirty-seven. Ethan is a wonderful man: hardworking, loving, dedicated. He’s a divorced father of two girls. While Andi wanted a family of her own, joining a ready-made family wasn’t a part of the plan. Yet it was hard not to fall in love with this package, this family.  The girls, Emily and Sophie, haven’t has the best life growing up. Their mother, an alcoholic, barely acknowledges their existence during their visits. Her kitchen is bare and she spends most of the time drinking wine, believing it is up to the girls to fend for themselves. For this reason, Andi at first overlooks the attitude Ethan’s oldest daughter, Emily, gives her from the beginning.

Starving for love and attention from her father, Emily despises Andi. Like many teenagers, she craves independence yet doesn’t want to relinquish the love and attention from her father. From beginning of Ethan’s relationship with Andi, there has been tension between his new love and his oldest daughter.

The tension grows and continues over the years. When Emily hits the rebellious teen years, Andi attempts to reign Emily in, disciplining her for her misbehavior. Ethan, on the other hand, deep down wants to do the same thing yet ultimately relinquishes to Emily.  This causes a great deal of strain on his relationship with Andi. This isn’t something Andi signed up for and, already stressed by her infertility, she struggles with balancing her wants and desires with that of the rest of the family.

When Emily’s careless behavior brings upon a situation that will forever change her life, and the lives of the rest of her family, Andi’s resolve is truly tested. Can she give up the life she’s dreamed of since childhood and continue to have this tumultuous relationship with Emily? Ultimately, it’s fate perhaps that makes this decision for her. She doesn’t what she wanted during the means she planned, but perhaps that’s the way it was meant to be. There’s a saying that states it’s not the destination but the path to that destination. This truly comes into play with this family.

Another Piece of My Heart
examines relationships, both marital and family, at their very core. The journeys that each of the main characters take are tumultuous, not easy, but ultimately life-changing in the end. The characters were each well ironed out, yet I didn’t feel I made a very deep connection with any of them.  While I sympathized for what Andi was going through there were several times in which her actions irritated me. Granted, the life she chose didn’t pan out the way she thought it would, but life is full of sacrifices. Thankfully, by the end of the book, she redeemed herself and I was better able to appreciate her character. Ethan, on the other hand, infuriated me to know end. I just wanted to shake him, to wake him up from the fog he was living in. To me, it took far too long for him to stick up to his daughter. Speaking of Emily, egads was she a girl riddled with issues. Again, the overall outcome was favorable and perhaps she had to make these mistakes, but her ride to success was a bumpy one. Unlike Andi’s character, it took me much longer to appreciate Emily, to find any sense of appreciation or understanding of her character.

While there were quite a few cliches throughout the novel and I often find myself puzzled as to why the author decided upon a particular outcome, the message the book portrays is a valuable one. Quoting Emily:

Life may not have turned out the way any of us expected…but today it feels like it is all supposed to be, it all happened for a reason, even though we couldn’t see it at the time.

Another Piece of My Heart , despite the few issues I had, is full of topics and themes that would generate a great deal of discussion, thereby making it the perfect book group choice. Recommended.

Don’t have a book club of your own? Not to worry, for the SheKnows Book Club will be discussing this book tonight, April 26th, 5 to 6 p.m. PST/8 to 9 p.m. EST. The chat will take place on Jane Green’s Facebook page.

Can’t join the chat but have questions for the author? Post them here and I’ll ask them on your behalf!

Review: Save Me by Lisa Scottoline

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (April 12, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 031238078X
  • Source: Publisher

Rose McKenna volunteers to be a lunchroom volunteer when she learns her eight-year-old daughter Melly has been bullied by another little girl.  Melly was born with a red birthmark that covers a large portion of her face. Amanda is a classmate of hers who relentlessly makes fun of Melly’s birthmark and her obsession with Harry Potter.

Right in front of her eyes, Rose witnesses a bullying incident, sending Melly to the bathroom in tears. Lunchtime is ending, children are filing outside for recess. Rose holds Amanda behind to talk to her about the incident. Before she has the chance, however, an explosion rocks the cafeteria, knocking Rose unconscious. When she awakens, the cafeteria is on fire, filling with smoke. She must decide which child she should save first: Amanda or her own daughter.  She chooses to quickly usher Amanda outside before tending to her own daughter. Believing that both girls have been rescued, her soul is broken when she learns that Amanda ran back inside the school.  When found, she’s severely injured, in a coma, on the brink of death.

Almost immediately, the other parents and townspeople blame Rose for Amanda’s injuries. They call her selfish, putting the life of her own daughter before the other children. Amanda’s parents intend to file both civil and criminal complaints against Rose.  Her marriage put to the test, the future and stability of her family put at risk, Rose begins to start her own investigation. It soon becomes obvious that the explosion at the school was no accident. Rose risks everything to discover the individual(s) behind this brutal incident, and eventually, a history of criminal activity.

I was intrigued by the story immediately upon discovering it was based on a bullying incident. My own middle-school son was the victim of bullying so from page one, I had an emotional investment in this book.  The first half of the book thrilled me, I couldn’t get enough of it. Rose was plagued with a decision no parent wants to make: in an emergency, do you put the safety of your child’s life before that of another?

That said, I began to loose interest near the second part of the book. So many other side stories, characters, etc. were rolled in, almost making the second half feel like another book.  Rose, a character intent on devoting all of her spare time with her children, especially after the accident. She decides to drop of her two children with an elderly couple that are friends of the family. At first for a few hours, then for a few days. Totally out of character for Rose, it almost seems as though the author was grasping for a way to go all Nancy Drew without the burden of her children.  Additionally, she nearly forgets about her husband, step-father of Melly. They are supposed to be in a loving relationship but she keeps secrets from him, makes rash decisions that impact that family without his input, and more.

With all of this considered, I would recommend this book for the first portion of the book, with the warning that the second part is a little far-fetched.

Following are some other takes on this book:

Julie from Booking Mama
Teresa’s Reading Corner
Jen from Devourer of Books
Kathy from Bermuda Onion 

Review: Pieces of Happily Ever After by Irene Zutell

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (September 1, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0312540094
  • Source: SheKnows
  • Alice Kirshall has a storybook life, or so it seems.  Her husband, Alex, a Hollywood entertainment lawyer signs on with a new client, actress Rose Maris. When Alex starts hitting the gym, Alice assumes he’s going through a mid-life crisis and writes it off.  But then he starts working later and later.  The intimacy in their relationship has dwindled down to nothing.

    When Alice discovers she is expecting, Alex isn’t as excited as she would have hoped.  He actually begins to ignore her.  A few weeks later she goes  to the hospital due to severe pain and bleeding and Alex is nowhere to be found.  He shows up right as Alice is being carted into surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.  When Alice awakes, Alex is right by her side, crying with guilt.

    Alice returns home and is immediately overwhelmed with phone calls.  She assumes the calls are from friends and family members calling to wish her a speedy recovery.  But the calls are coming from the press: a story has appeared in a tabloid, reporting that Alex and Rosie are having an affair.  Suddenly Alice’s storybook life starts to crumble into pieces.  She orders Alex out of the house and is left to deal with their five-old daughter, Gabby, the loss of their unborn child, and the loss of their marriage, alone.

    As if all this isn’t enough to drive anyone insane, Alice learns her mother, Mary, is having problems at the home in which she is residing.  Mary has Alzheimers, and has recently begun using foul language that is upsetting the other residents.

    Alice must pull herself together and deal with all this chaos in her life.  She, with Gabby in tow, must pick up the pieces of their life and move on.

    How to I begin to relay how much I loved this book?  The characters are wonderful, so well-developed and real. Pieces of Happily Ever After is not your typical chick-lit.  The story and the relationships between the characters are so raw and emotional.  You can’t help but be swept up in this story. The emotions you’ll feel while reading range from joy to anger, and from happiness to tears. I loved this one so much I’ve read it twice and that still isn’t enough.  I want to learn more about Alice, what has become of her life.  When the book ended I felt as though I lost a close friend.  I very impatiently await the release of Zutell’s next book, whenever that may be.

    Be sure to join the author, Irene Zutell for the final book club discussion for this book tonight from 6 to 10 p.m. EST (so 3 to 7 p.m. on the SheKnows book club message board!

    Check out this funny video about Irene’ book, featuring her daughter, the inspiration for the character, Gabby!

    Announcing: SheKnows Book Club for Women

    Sheknowsbookclub2

    SheKnows.com has just announced a brand new book club for women!  “This online book club is designed for women and book lovers who want to read compelling stories, share them with other readers, discuss hot topics, characters and key themes of books, and participate in an ongoing engaging dicussion with active book club members. “

    Guess what!? I’ve been asked, along with a group of other outstanding women, to be an official blogger for SheKnows! I’ll keep you apprised of the books being read and discussed. I encourage you all to join in on the discussion!

    One of the best things about this new book club is the reading schedule! A new book is selected every two months which gives everyone ample time to read the book.

    The official selection for February/March is: Pieces of Happily Ever After by Irene Zutell!  Enter to win one of ten copies of this book and participate in the discussion!

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    Stay tuned for more info!