Jul 1, 2016

Book Review: Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams



Book summary:   "At once an epic account of an improbable romance and a retelling of an iconic American tale, The Last Woman Standing recalls the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral through the eyes of a spunky heroine who sought her happy ending in a lawless outpost—with a fierce will and an unflagging spirit." (back cover)


Josephine (Marcus-Behan) Earp Approximately age 20 years old

A whole lot more information and pictures available at Wikipedia.

You can also read about the real-life Josephine Earp at 


My thoughts:  Marrying historical facts with the imagined emotions of a woman on the frontier, Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams is an interesting tale of Josephine (Marcus-Behan) Earp, common-law wife for 46 years of legendary Wyatt Earp.

A bit of historical perspective on this book: In 1976 a man named Glenn G. Boyer published a book titled, I Married Wyatt Earp which was to be a non-fiction book about Josephine Earp. For many years I Married Wyatt Earp was considered a true historical text with the book even being used in college courses to teach Wild West history. Thirty years after it was published, Boyle admitted in 2006 that he couldn't verify any of the facts he used in his book. These days I Married Wyatt Earp is used to teach people about fraudulent books and historical hoaxes. 

Probably for this very reason, Last Woman Standing is billed as historical FICTION. Last Woman Standing is author Thelma Adams' imagining of how the events in Josephine Earp's life transpired. It is obviously based on real-life historical figures that roamed the Southwest in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Wyatt Earp still faces the showdown at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Author Adams deftly imagines what Josephine saw, felt and reacted to the historical times.

On that note, one hangup with this book is the use of first person narrative. It's a personal preference by the author to rely on first person narrative, but it's a tricky beast that can lead the story astray. In this book, A LOT of known history circulates around the title character of Josephine. By utilizing first person perspective however, the known history falls off the narrative unless the main character obviously is there or hears/talks about it. Perhaps the author was trying to force the reader to pay attention to Josephine, with the historical facts as background information. What ended up happening was the the book spends too much time getting bogged down in basically a romance triangle and a bit of bodice-ripping when the exciting historical stuff is happening somewhere else. 

Aside from the first person narrative distraction, Last Woman Standing is an interesting book about an exciting chapter in the history of the Wild West. Josephine Earp was a true-life character with an exciting life filled with drama and secrets. Author Thelma Adams has done a terrific job fleshing out Josephine Earp. In Last Woman Standing, Josephine Earp is no longer a shadowy footnote to a major historical figure, but she is a real-life woman living in the true Wild West with her own faults, loves and desires found in the pages of Last Woman Standing, a book cataloged as a fictional novel based on historical facts.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:     290
  • Year originally published:    2016
  • Book Tour:  My review is part of a larger collection of reviews of this title. For more information, please visit TLC Book Tours.
Purchase on Amazon:  Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams

 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Jun 21, 2016

Book Review: All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank



Other Dorothea Benton Frank novels reviewed on Lavish Bookshelf:

Great quote:
  "Olivia would never find better friends than those she had." (Page 360)


Book summary:  "As they find themselves pondering the next step of their lives, Olivia and Nick travel with her billionaire clients and their friends and are swept up in the world of the ultra-rich, exploring the globe with a cast of zany eccentrics over one tumultuous, hot summer. All as Olivia grapples with what lies ahead for her and Nick. This is a story of how plans evolve and lives change in unexpected ways, how even those who have everything are still looking for something more. Even the most successful people can often struggle to keep things together. All Summer Long asks the ultimate question: Can money buy happiness?"  



Video: Dorothea Benton Frank writes about the South Carolina Lowcountry



My thoughts:  Dorothea Benton Frank is a one woman advertisement for South Carolina's Lowcountry and her latest novel, All Summer Long, is no exception. The book is filled with plenty of sea breezes and that wonderful slower pace of life. Where this book differs from her other novels is that the characters also hail from Manhattan and end up traveling the world with a few uber-wealthy friends. 

Characters Olivia and Nick are preparing to move to the Lowcountry. Their relationship is strained as they prepare for big changes in their life because South Carolina beaches are very different from life in Manhattan. The crux of the novel is about whether Olivia can leave her city lifestyle behind and live a comfortable beach-side life with her husband. Along the way, the couple has some turbulent moments and Olivia must learn whether money can buy happiness. Olivia is definitely hiding their money issues from Nick, all the while they are taking the trip of a lifetime with a couple who really does seem to have it all, as far as finances are concerned.

While the end goal of the book was an idyllic life in South Carolina's Lowcounty, actually a lot of the book was spent in New York City and on a yacht trip cruising the world. As the character Olivia grapples with what she wants out of life, the South Carolina coast is always looming in the background. It's simply up to Olivia to decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

All Summer Long is a fun beach-read (of course) with an age old question at it's heart: Can money buy you happiness? Dorothea Benton Frank has dives into a marriage of two polar-opposite personalities, with different desires and plans. It's interesting to see how the characters navigate through the ups and downs of their marriage as they learn about what truly matters in life. Due to some irritating characters and "first world problems" whining, All Summer Long isn't Dorothea Benton Frank's best book, but nevertheless it's an entertaining breezy book that wanders through the finer things in life which you can and can't buy. If you are heading to the beach, be sure to bring along a Dorothea Benton Frank book or two!



Rating: 3 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:   369
  • Year originally published:    2016
  • Book Tour: My review is part of a larger collection of reviews of this title. For more information, please visit TLC Book Tours.
Purchase on Amazon:   All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank




 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Jun 15, 2016

Book Review: We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman





Book summary:   "Andy Carter was happy. He had a solid job. He ran 5Ks for charity. He was living a nice, safe Midwestern existence. And then his wife left him for a handsome paramedic down the street. We’re All Damaged begins after Andy has lost his job, ruined his best friend’s wedding, and moved to New York City, where he lives in a tiny apartment with an angry cat named Jeter that isn’t technically his. But before long he needs to go back to Omaha to say good-bye to his dying grandfather." (Back Cover)

My thoughts: We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman is one of those novels that is so timely! Covering the gamut from gay rights to Fox News, this book feels like reading fictionalized newspaper headlines. The stories are from author Norman's imagination, but the sentiments behind the novel are so very real.

Chief character Andy Carter is an every-man. He's safe, boring and predictable. Then his life begins to unravel. First his wife takes off for another man, then disaster after dramatic revelation befall Andy Carter. 

We're All Damaged is a revealing and sometimes humorous look at just about everything in the collective consciousness of today: internet trolls and scams, YouTube viral videos, landmark Supreme Court decisions and much...much...much more. Author Norman then fills the book with sprinkles of pop culture references such as Costco, Applebee's, Facebook and Wham. 

At times the stereotypes Norman has created are way too cliche, but in the end the message is clear. At it's heart, We're All Damaged is about all of us. We're all a bit boring and sedate like Andy Carter, but really we're all a bit damaged by life and we're just trying to get by. 


Rating: 4 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:   282
  • Year originally published:  2016
  • Book Tour: For more reviews of this title, please visit TLC Book Tours
Purchase on Amazon:  We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman 


 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Jun 13, 2016

Book Review: A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi





Great quote:   "This would become a pattern, Asha realized. She would make friends with these women and one by one, they would leave and new women with new pregnancies would join them. And then it would be Asha's time to leave the house and go back to her life. And what would that be like?" (Page 147 ARC)

Book summary:   "In trendy Silicon Valley, Priya has everything she needs—a loving husband, a career, and a home—but the one thing she wants most is the child she’s unable to have. In a Southern Indian village, Asha doesn’t have much—raising two children in a tiny hut, she and her husband can barely keep a tin roof over their heads—but she wants a better education for her gifted son. Pressured by her family, Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House: a baby farm where she can rent her only asset—her womb—to a childless couple overseas. To the dismay of friends and family, Priya places her faith in a woman she’s never met to make her dreams of motherhood come true." (Back cover)

My thoughts:  A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi is shocking, but in a much more quiet and sedate way. In fact, the reason it's so shocking is precisely because no one seems alarmed at all!

Set in India and California simultaneously, House for Happy Mothers uncovers the business of baby surrogacy. And what a business it is! In the novel, the infertile Priya has it all in her California life, except for a baby. With Priya's nearly unlimited financial resources, she travels to India to "hire" Asha to carry a baby for her. As the surrogate, Asha lives in the House for Happy Mothers, which is basically a hostel for surrogates awaiting their delivery date.

To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to the business of surrogacy in other countries, so this book was an eye opener to me. On one hand, I had some compassion for Priya as an infertile woman who longed for a child. On the other had, my feelings were strong for Asha, the surrogate who was forced into her "job" by her poor circumstances and her family's needs.

The one chapter that stood out above the others for me was when Asha first arrives at the House for Happy Mothers. Asha is terribly conflicted about her role in the surrogacy business and meeting other surrogate mothers only adds to her confusion and angst. As she meets mother after mother, their stories are rather haunting. For example, one character named Kaveri boasts about her family having a house, a TV and a car because of the money she earned from her first surrogacy. Kaveri has returned for a second surrogacy pregnancy in the hopes of saving for a dowry for her own daughter. Kaveri's approach to surrogacy as a business transaction contrast greatly with Asha's concerns and feelings about the entire situation.

The ending of House for Happy Mothers is sudden and abrupt, ending just shortly after the birth of Priya's/Asha's baby. It's really a fitting ending for the book because both women do end up going their own separate ways, despite being bonded over the young child. No one knows how it will all end. House for Happy Mothers is an insightful but sad look into the business side of international surrogacy, with all of the many emotions and motivations on raw display for the readers.

Rating:  4 of 5 stars

Book Facts:
  • Pages:   314
  • Year originally published:  2016
  • Book Tour: My review is part of a larger collection of reviews of this title. For more information, please visit TLC Book Tours
Purchase on Amazon:  House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi 


 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.
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