#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Fiction, Tags and Challenges

How Not to Die Alone – Richard Roper

The first time I picked up How Not To Die Alone, I simply was not in the right frame of mind to read it, constantly comparing it Eleanor Oliphant. So I sat it aside to come back to. This time, however, I was in the right place and found the book to be utterly charming, hope-filled and quite wonderful!

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Andrew is a loner – well, that’s actually an understatement – who works for the Estate Council tracking down possible relatives of people who have died alone. There is the question of who buries them, you see. His life is grim, his flat is grim, everything about Andrew is grim. So bad, in fact, that he has created a fake wife and family so others will not feel sorry for him. But the Peggy joins their office, an office filled with quirky and unusual people, and Andrew finds his life changing in unexpected ways.

The characters of How Not To Die Alone are some of the most realistic characters I’ve come across in a while. While they each are unlikable in their own right, I soon found that I cared about them despite their flaws which is, after all, what life is all about. As Andrew’s perspective changes, we see so much hope inside of him. He’s caring, thoughtful and quite marvelous. By the end of the book, as we finally learn what has happened in his past, you are cheering him on and hoping for the very best for him.

Yes, the story is similar to other books of this nature, but it is the characters who set this one apart from the others. You will love them, hate them, cry for them and, in the end, be so happy for them all. We, as human, grow and change and morph over the course of our lifetimes and, if we’re lucky, we won’t find ourselves alone in the end.

Thanks to #Edelweiss and #GPPutnam’sSons for my copy of this delightful book

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#historical fiction, #NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Domestic Drama-Dysfunctional Families, Fab Fiction Fridays, Fiction, Tags and Challenges, Uncategorized

The Editor #Steven Rowley

Fridays are generally set aside for fabulous fiction here at Macsbooks and The Editor by Steven Rowley, author of the amazing book, Lily and the Octopus, certainly fits that description! 9780525537960_5fcef
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James is a writer living in New York with his boyfriend, struggling to make ends meet and hoping for his first big break. His publisher calls informing him that his editor requests a meeting with him, which scares him senseless enough; but, when he discovers that his editor is Jackie Kennedy Onassis he is speechless. As Ms. Onassis continues to work with James through rewrites and deeper explorations into his novel and his own personal relationships, James realizes that his editor is, indeed, the perfect one to help him grow as a person and as a writer.

To say that I have a love affair with the Kennedys is an understatement, There are few, if any, books written by or about this family that I haven’t read. When I saw that this was a historical fiction book featuring Kennedy-Onassis in her final years as an editor, I literally jumped at the chance to read it. It did not disappoint in the least. As with Lily and the Octopus, Rowley has created a story that illustrates how even the most flawed characters can be lovable and redemptive. He weaves this story around an amazingly famous person but manages to place her in a tale that makes her human and real. To do this with someone like Kennedy-Onassis truly is astounding and my hat is off to Rowley for this alone. Most importantly, however, the core of The Editor is based on familial relationships; the struggle between a son and his mother. This is the story that is worth reading and it is here in which lies all of the beauty and the charm of this novel.

The Editor will available on April 2 and I highly recommend it.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, @StevenRowley and @PutnamBooks for my copy of #TheEditor

#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Crime, Dectective, Domestic Noir/Thriller, Southern Saturdays, Tags and Challenges

The Good Detective

I should tell you that once I picked up The Good Detective that it was so gripping and thrilling that I could not put it down until I finished it. I should tell you, but I can’t. The fact is that I started this book twice, two months apart, and each time I read the first chapter, got so incensed that I put the book down and didn’t finish it. But there was something about the blurb that kept pulling at me, reeling me back in; something that kept saying “read it, c’mon, you know you want to.” So, on the third try I vowed to get past the second chapter regardless of how angry I became. You know what happened, right? I didn’t put the book down until I completely finished the book! I stayed up all night long and finished reading it. I cannot believe how stupid I was to think I wouldn’t absolutely love this book – because I absolutely LOVED this book!!

51Bg7iOP81L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_amazonThe Good Detective is P.T. Marsh, a “rising star” in a southern Georgia police department, at least he was until his wife and young son drowned in an accident that either was or might not have been a horrible accident. For over a year, P.T. has been a semi-functioning drunk. While in a bar, more like a strip club, he promises a dancer that he will have a talk with her abusive boyfriend. His “talk” actually means that PT beats the crap out of the guy after which he goes home to drink the remainder of his night away. Imagine his surprise when PT is called out the next morning to a murder scene and it is the boyfriend who is murder victim. This is the part that made me so angry. I have no tolerance for police brutality even when the person on the receiving end is a Neo-Nazi scumbag. However, all of this takes place on just a few pages at the very beginning of the book and the remainder of the book is incredibly fascinating! Read on…..

The death of the scumbag leads PT and his partner to the lynching site of a young African American boy. As they begin to search for the boy’s killer – since the best witness and/or suspect is now dead thanks to possibly PT- they begin to uncover something very sinister in their small rural, Georgia town, something that has been happening for centuries and it is dark and conspiratorial, and dangerous and of the very worst sort of nightmare that you can possibly imagine. I wouldn’t even attempt to perceive such atrocities except that I lived in the south and my father was from rural Georgia so I know that this horror does exist and that is what made this book so terrible and fascinating all at the same time. It was like watching a train derailing. I didn’t want to know, didn’t want to see the travesty that was unfolding but I couldn’t stop either.

McMahon has created characters on both sides of the fence that are perfectly conceptualized. They are not pretty, they are not good, they have flaws and some are so awful you won’t want them in your room, not even on your pages. I’m not sure you can create characters like this unless you have encountered them at some point in your lifetime. There were times that this read like something out of the 1930s or 40s, but then I remembered that there are parts of the rural south that still are very much like this. Who am kidding? There are places like this all over the US, not just the south. That’s what is so disturbing. This is happening everywhere, not just in small towns or in a particular region. In the end, there was a small amount of justice and a bit of redemption for PT as well. I can only hope that we will find this type of redemption for America soon. The quote below summed up the ending of book as well as my feelings for my history with the southern US:

There’s no place I’d rather travel than in the South…Even with our history, when I’m at Publix buying groceries, I see interracial couples. Lots of us. So as much as we struggle here with race, in some ways our struggle is closer to the surface and I hold out hope that this means it’s easier to fix. 

I know this was a bit of a rambling review. This was a very emotional book for me. The one thing I can say is that I highly recommend it and hope that you will read it, even it takes you a time or two to get started.

I owe much appreciation to #Edelweiss, @PutnamBooks, #JohnMcMahon and @PenguinPublishingGroup for my advanced copy of #TheGoodDetective

#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Fiction, Tags and Challenges, Women's Fiction-Interests

More Than Words @JillSantopolo – Publication Day

More Than Words is a beautifully written, poignant story of life, love, metamorphosis and relationships.

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Nina Gregory is an heiress to one of the most wealthy hoteliers in the US. She was raised by an authoritative but very loving father who was her sole parent after the tragic death of her mother. She knows that someday she will have to take over the helm of her family’s successful business, but for now, she is very happily involved in her job as speech writer for up and coming politician and NYC Mayoral candidate, Rafael O’Connor-Ruiz. Nina also is very happily dating her childhood best friend, Tim, whose family has been a part of her life forever. Tim’s parents are intricately involved in the hotel’s business and his parents and Nina’s have been friends since their university days. The only cloud in Nina’s world is that her beloved father is dying of cancer. Upon her father’s death, Nina slowly begins to discover secrets about their company and her mother’s death. As the ramifications of these lies and misdeeds are revealed, Nina realizes that her life, her legacy and the image she has worked so hard to maintain has been a ruse. It is now up to her to put the pieces back together and to create the company and woman she truly desires .

At the heart of More Than Words is a romance, a love story, but the book is far more than that. It isn’t solely about the love that Nina has for the men she has fallen for, but also about her own self love and self worth; the love she believes she has missed by not having a mother in her life; the adoration and love she has/had for her father despite his many shortcomings and the love she has for the strong women in her life. It is a story of self-discovery and how people, especially women, are admonished to behave, look and dress in certain ways in order to fulfill rigid expectations and, often, those expectations don’t correspond to the person’s true identity. As Nina’s façade begins to crack and fall around her, she discovers her true self and what emerges is completely different and beautiful. That is the true story of More Than Words and it is a lesson for us all to learn. It is significant and touching and Santopolo has done a masterful job illustrating this caveat of wisdom for us through a touching love story.  With February being the “month of love,” what better way to celebrate than reading a love story?

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #JillSantopolo and @PutnamBooks for my copy of #MoreThanWords on sale now.

#historical fiction, Domestic Noir/Thriller, Noir, Crime and Dark Endeavors

The Paragon Hotel @LyndsayFaye

The Paragon Hotel is a taut, well told historical mystery that will captivate you from its startling beginning to its breathtaking conclusion.

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There are few things that I enjoy more than a great mystery and when it is set in a historical context, it is like icing on a cake. That is exactly what Lyndsay Faye has created with The Paragon Hotel.

It is the era of prohibition and Alice “Nobody” James is mysteriously wounded and fleeing from the mobs of Harlem, New York where she was raised by her prostitute mother. She runs as far as she can to Portland, OR where she befriends the porter for The Paragon Hotel, an all black hotel with mysteries of its own. But events on the west coast are not a lot better than the east as the KuKluxKlan is gaining strength and has targeted the Paragon, the only all black hotel in the city. Alice, who is white, is barely accepted by its black residents and understandably so given the hate that is Klan is bringing to their door step, but she does make friends with Blossom Fontaine, the singer at the hotel, and her ward, Davy Lee. When Davy Lee goes missing, tension rise, alliances are questioned and the racial tension that has been simmering threatens to erupt.

The Paragon Hotel is one of those rare books that is both a suspenseful thriller as well as a looking glass at the past, one that allows the reader to see the important lessons from that era and how those lessons learned might be applied today. One might think that Harlem would have nothing in common with Portland, or that the 1920s is too far removed from current events today, and yet this story blends it all together seamlessly. What should have been a typical mystery, one filled with hate and ugliness, instead evolved into a tale of hope and encouragement.

I was riveted by The Paragon Hotel and could not put it down from the first to the very last page. Its characters were so beautifully drawn that they will continue to haunt me for a very long time and the story itself changed me profoundly. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

My thanks to #Edelweiss, @PutnamBooks, and @LyndsayFaye for my copy of this incredible tale