Book Review: Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

Title: Looking For Me
Author: Beth Hoffman
368 pages, Published by Pamela Dorman Books
Beth’s Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Buy The Book: Amazon

Summary:

A Southern novel of family and antiques from the bestselling author of the beloved Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Beth Hoffman’s bestselling debut, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, won admirers and acclaim with its heartwarming story and cast of unforgettable characters. Now her unique flair for evocative settings and richly drawn Southern personalities shines in her compelling new novel, Looking for Me.

Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop.  Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky.  It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last.  But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

Looking for Me brilliantly melds together themes of family, hope, loss, and a mature once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. The result is a tremendously moving story that is destined to make bestselling author Beth Hoffman a novelist to whom readers will return again and again as they have with Adriana Trigiani, Fannie Flagg, and Joshilyn Jackson. (Summary provided by Pamela Dorman Books.)

My Thoughts:

Beth Hoffman makes both her characters and the settings of her novels come alive for readers. Looking For Me, Hoffman’s follow up to the highly celebrated Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, is just as wonderful as her first novel if not even better. Teddi, the protagonist of Looking For Me, is a strong woman. After making a life for herself in Charleston, South Carolina, far away from the Kentucky town where she grew up, Teddi finds herself drawn back into the mystery that’s haunted her for most of her life: The disappearance of her brother Josh.

While Teddi slowly begins to unravel the mystery surrounding her brother’s disappearance, Hoffman weaves texture, nature, and folklore into Teddi’s story with the talent and grace only a truly skilled author can offer. Every page comes to life with the description of a beautiful antique Teddi is restoring or a passage describing one of the birds her brother Josh was fighting to save from poachers – I can’t adequately describe how beautiful this book is.

My favorite part of the book was the Charleston setting. My grandparents lived in Charleston, and I grew up visiting the city a couple of times each year. Hoffman captures the beauty and essence of a city I hold dear within the pages of Looking For Me. I could relate to every passage regarding Charleston. While I read I felt as though I were transported there for each reading session, and I didn’t want the book to end. The last time I visited Charleston was a couple of years ago for my grandmother’s funeral. When I left I felt like it might be my last trip to Charleston. Looking For Me provided not only a captivating story of family, finding love when you least expect it, and coming to terms with your past, but also gave me a healing trip back to Charleston, if only by book.

{Beth, This book touched me in so many ways. From the Charleston setting to the unresolved issues with her brother, I could relate to Teddi. Thank you for writing it. Also, thank you for reaching out to me when I first started blogging. I’ll never forget your encouragement. Love, Mandy}

FTC Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of the book mentioned, and I receive a small commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon links on this site.

~~~

Make sure you don’t miss a thing! If you’re new to The Well-Read Wife, click here to subscribe. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and “like” me on Facebook. You can follow The Well-Read Wife on Bloglovin’ by clicking here.

Book Review: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

TheLastOriginalWifeTitle: The Last Original Wife

Author: Dorothea Benton Frank

368 pages, Published by William Morrow

Dorothea’s Info.: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Buy The Book: Amazon

Summary:

Leslie Anne Greene Carter is The Last Original Wife among her husband Wesley’s wildly successful Atlanta social set. His cronies have all traded in the mothers of their children they promised to love and cherish—’til death did them part—for tanned and toned young Barbie brides.

If losing the social life and close friends she adored wasn’t painful enough, a series of setbacks shake Les’s world and push her to the edge. She’s had enough of playing the good wife to a husband who thinks he’s doing her a favor by keeping her around. She’s not going to waste another minute on people she doesn’t care to know. Now, she’s going to take some time for herself—in the familiar comforts and stunning beauty of Charleston, her beloved hometown. In her brother’s stately historic home, she’s going to reclaim the carefree girl who spent lazy summers sharing steamy kisses with her first love on Sullivans Island. Along Charleston’s live oak- and palmetto-lined cobblestone streets, under the Lowcountry’s dazzling blue sky, Les will indulge herself with icy cocktails, warm laughter, divine temptation and bittersweet memories. Daring to listen to her inner voice, she will realize what she wants . . . and find the life of which she’s always dreamed.

Told in the alternating voices of Les and Wes, The Last Original Wife is classic Dorothea Benton Frank: an intoxicating tale of family, friendship, self-discovery, and love, that is as salty as a Lowcountry breeze and as invigorating as a dip in Carolina waters on a sizzling summer day.(Summary provided by William Morrow.)

My Thoughts:

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank is a fun, bouncy joyride from start to finish. The novel is about a couple approaching sixty named Wes and Les. Every day throughout the many years Wes and Les have been married Les has waited on her husband like his personal servant and kept herself on the strict allowance Wes has her on. She actually has to ask permission for an extra $20.00. Two of Wes’s best friends have remarried girls half their age replacing women Les is close friends with with much younger women. One of Les’s friends died and it took her husband two months to replace his late wife with his much younger personal trainer. Les is stunned to become “the last original wife” out of their group of friends. I love the concept of this book, because it’s something that scares me to death. Will I ever be the last original wife or (and I know this would never happen *knock on wood*) replaced with a 22-year-old version of myself? Nate did mention the other day that the girl working the fast food counter looked like “teenage Mandy.” Hmmm. (I’m positive it was a totally innocent comment. Back to the book.)

Les has lived her entire life for her family, and on a trip to Edinburgh it becomes clear to her that her husband could care less about her. While in Edinburgh with Wes, their friend and his young, “trophy” wife, Les falls into a manhole while they are walking back to the hotel. Wes is so busy talking to Corinne and Harold that he doesn’t realize his wife isn’t with them until they get back to the hotel. Wes finally finds Les being loaded into an ambulance, gets her situated in a hospital, and informs her he is leaving her by herself to go play golf because he’s had his tee time reserved for two years. This along with a couple of other incidents serves as a wake up  call for Les: Her marriage is in serious trouble.

What ensues is a fun novel about what happens when a woman wakes up and decides to take control of her life. It is told from both Les and Wes’s points of view. Let me tell you the chapters from Wes’s POV had my blood boiling. Wes had me going so bad that at one point I stopped reading and made a Spotify playlist (see below) to listen to when I finished the book. That is a first for me as a reader. Yes, I did an actual fist pump at a certain point in the book when Wes “got told.” FYI: “Got told” is Southern for being put in his place.

[spotify id=”spotify:user:1220232545:playlist:2OmGGh88DdkUSemG2tJ5BE” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

I loved Les’s relationship with her brother Harlan. Dorothea Benton Frank vividly paints a portrait of Les’s port of refuge, Charleston, South Caroline in a way that made me miss Charleston like crazy. (I grew up visiting my grandparents there every year). I also learned a lot about the Charleston Renaissance through the novel. It was a literary period in Charleston led by Josephine Pinckney. I love the way Frank can weave a historical figure throughout her novel seamlessly, and I certainly hope there is a renewed interest in the writings of Josephine Pinckney because of her efforts.

The Last Original Wife is the perfect book to add to your beach bag or airport carry-on this summer! Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me in their Dorothea Benton Frank read along this summer. It’s been a lot of fun! Click here to head over to TLC Book Tours to check out more stops on the tour.

FTC Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of the book mentioned, and I receive a small commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon links on this site.

~~~

Make sure you don’t miss a thing! If you’re new to The Well-Read Wife, click here to subscribe. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and “like” me on Facebook. You can follow The Well-Read Wife on Bloglovin’ by clicking here.

Book Review: Lowcountry Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank

Title: Low Country Summer

Author: Dorothea Benton Frank

384 pages, Published by William Morrow Paperbacks

Dorothea’s Info.: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Buy The Book: Amazon

Summary:

Happy birthday? My pig-farmer boyfriend was in absentia, the county sheriff was the current cause of some very naughty thoughts, my drunk sister-in-law was passed out at my kitchen table, and my dead mother had sent balloons. What else could a girl want?”

On the occasion of her 46th birthday, Caroline Wimbley Levine is concerned about filling the large shoes of her late, force-of-nature mother, Miss Lavinia, the former Queen of Tall Pines Plantation. Still, Caroline loves a challenge—and she simply will not be fazed by the myriad family catastrophes surrounding her. She’ll deal with brother Trip’s tricky romantic entanglements, son Eric and his mysterious girlfriend, and go toe-to-toe with alcoholic Frances Mae and her four hellcats without batting an eye, becoming more like Miss Lavinia every day . . . which is not an entirely good thing.

Return with New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank to the South Carolina Lowcountry—as a new generation stumbles, survives, and reveals their secrets by the banks of the mighty Edisto River. (Summary provided by William Morrow Paperbacks.)

My Thoughts:

I grew up visiting my grandparents in South Carolina at least once a year. My grandparents lived in Charleston, and I always loved the beauty and grandeur of the city. Dorothea Benton Frank’s novel Lowcountry Summer takes place in the Lowcountry region near Charleston. Reading Lowcountry Summer made me feel like I was back at my grandaddy’s home in Charleston eating biscuits and grits around the dining room table. Frank’s love for South Carolina and the Lowcountry can be felt on every page.

The main character, Caroline Wimbley Levine, lives in the plantation home her recently deceased mother left her, and memories of Miss Lavinia surround her as she takes over as reining matriarch of the Wimbley family. On the day of Caroline’s 46th birthday party, the quiet gathering is interrupted by her brother Trip’s wife, Fancis Mae, whom he has been separated from for years. This incident leads to a summer of change for everyone in the family, especially Caroline. Dorothea Benton Frank clearly knows the South. Every family get together scene she writes is filled descriptions of the Southern delicacies being served and the Southern slang that my family uses on a daily basis. Above all you can feel the deep family bond within the Wimbley family. By deep bond, I mean they are all in each other’s business twenty-four hours a day!

As the plot develops, Francis Mae is sent to a rehab , and Trip along with his saintly girlfriend of many years, Rusty are left to take care of Trips’s four daughters over the Summer. Soon Caroline inserts herself into her brother’s situation by trying to “civilize” his daughters, because she believes being raised by Francis Mae rates along the lines of a child being raised by wolves. Caroline is dealing with all of this while juggling two romantic interests, Bobby and Matthew. One of the funniest scenes in the book occurs when 911 needs to be called after she has bedded one of her lovers.

However, Lowcountry Summer will not only make readers laugh but cry as well. Caroline also has worries about her son, Eric’s  love life. Eric is in college and while she doesn’t want to intrude, she also desperately wants her son to open up to her. When a family tragedy occurs, Caroline finds herself stepping into her mother, Miss Lavinia’s shoes. In the midst of dealing with the family tragedy, it becomes clear that Caroline has a decision to make regarding her love life, but how can she bring herself to commit to a man after a disastrous first marriage? Frank makes readers feel as though they are getting a true glimpse into the life of a Southern family with a little bit of magic and superstition thrown into the mix to add a little spice.

Dorothea Benton Frank has the rare talent of making readers laugh through their tears. Readers who enjoy movies like Steel Magnolia’s or Pat Conroy’s novels will love Lowcountry Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank.

I am so happy to have had the chance to participate in the Dorothea Benton Frank read along hosted by TLC Book Tours. Stop by the other blogs on the tour below to read about more Dorothea Benton Frank novels.

Photo Credit: The photos I used throughout the post with the exception of the cover art and the TLC logo were purchased from iStockphoto.

Monday, April 15th: An Unconventional Librarian – Porch Lights

Friday, April 19th: Books in the City – Lowcountry Summer

Monday, April 29th: Paperback Princess – Porch Lights

Tuesday, April 30th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews – Lowcountry Summer

Tuesday, April 30th: Beth Fish Reads – Lowcountry Summer – preview post

Wednesday, May 1st: Alison’s Book Marks – Porch Lights

Sunday, May 5th: BermudaOnion’s Weblog – Porch Lights

Tuesday, May 7th: Book Journey – Return to Sullivan Island

Tuesday, May 7th: The Well-Read Wife – Lowcountry Summer

Wednesday, May 8th: Jenn’s Bookshelves – Porch Lights

Thursday, May 9th: Silver’s Reviews – Porch Lights

Thursday, May 9th: Beth Fish Reads – Lowcountry Summer

Wednesday, May 15th: bookchickdi – Return to Sullivan Island

Friday, May 24th: Alison’s Book Marks – Sullivan’s Island

Tuesday, June 11th: Paperback Princess – The Last Original Wife

Wednesday, June 12th: Book Journey – The Last Original Wife

Thursday, June 13th: The Well-Read Wife – The Last Original Wife

Monday, June 17th: An Unconventional Librarian – The Last Original Wife

Tuesday, June 18th: Silver’s Reviews – The Last Original Wife

Wednesday, June 19th: Books in the City – The Last Original Wife

Thursday, June 20th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews – The Last Original Wife

Monday, June 24th: bookchickdi – The Last Original Wife

Wednesday, June 26th: Alison’s Book Marks – The Last Original Wife

Thursday, June 27th: Jenn’s Bookshelves – The Last Original Wife

Date TBD: BermudaOnion’s Weblog – The Last Original Wife

Date TBD: Booking Mama – Porch Lights

Date TBD: Booking Mama – The Last Original Wife

Date TBD: Alison’s Book Marks – Lowcountry Summer

Date TBD: Beth Fish Reads – The Last Original Wife

FTC Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of the book mentioned (I did buy an eReader copy though!), and I receive a small commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon links on this site.

~~~

Make sure you don’t miss a thing! If you’re new to The Well-Read Wife, click here to subscribe. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and “like” me on Facebook. You can follow The Well-Read Wife on Bloglovin’ by clicking here.

Book Review: Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

Forgotten by Catherine McKenzieTitle: Forgotten
Author: Catherine McKenzie
448 pages, Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
Catherine’s Info: Facebook | Twitter
Buy The Book: Amazon

Summary:
Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence to go on an African vacation, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead—and that her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to re-create her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who assumed her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice her job, her relationships, and everything else she worked so hard to build?

In Forgotten, Catherine McKenzie tweaks a classic tale of discovering who we really are when everything that brings meaning to our lives is lost. (Summary provided by William Morrow Paperbacks.)

My Thoughts:

With Forgotten, Catherine McKenzie (author of Spin and Arranged) creates a novel that asks the question, What would you do if you had the opportunity to start over? When Emma Tupper returns home from Africa after an earthquake kept her there for an extended stay and unable to contact her friends at home, she is stunned to realize she has been presumed dead. Emma went to Africa at the request of her dying mother. It was her mother’s lifelong dream to go to Africa. She was never able to make it there, so Emma went instead with the trip her mother left her in her will. Emma’s time in Africa is revealed through a series of flashbacks interspersed throughout the story of what happens after she returns home. McKenzie’s tale keeps readers intrigued every step of the way.

Emma first realizes the gravity of her situation when she finds out her apartment has been rented to Dominic, a handsome photographer. (Hello possible love interest!) Emma must also make lots of decisions now that she’s “back from the dead.” First and foremost, does she want to stay with her boyfriend, Craig? Is that even an option after being gone for six months? Also, does Emma want to keep working at the law firm where she was on partner track before she disappeared? While reading, I found myself rooting for Emma, hoping she would have the courage to make changes in her life and not go back to her old routine.

I loved Catherine McKenzie’s two previous novels, Spin and Arranged, so it came as no surprise to me that I enjoyed Forgotten. You can see my reviews of Spin and Arranged for RT Book Reviews by clicking here and here. Fans of Helen Fielding, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin will love Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie!

Disclosure Statement: I received a complimentary copy of the book reviewed from the publisher. I also receive a small commission on any purchases made by clicking on the Amazon links throughout the site.

~~~~~

Don’t miss a thing! Keep up with Mandy Boles: Life Between Books by subscribing to my rss feed, following me on Twitter and Instagram, and liking my Facebook page.

Mandy’s Blogger Book Club: Fall/Winter Selection Sign Up Time! #MBBCWRW

Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose

Do you have a blog? Would you like to review a book on your blog? If you answered yes to both questions, then you just might receive one of 25 free copies of Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose!

In order to be in the running to receive one of the 25 copies you must be able to read and review Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose and put up a post on your blog with a link back to my Sad Desk Salad link up page by Dec. 20th.  I will post the official link up page on December 17th. I will also try to post a list of the 25 bloggers receiving free copies of the book sometime late next week. I hope to have the books in the mail by Monday, November 5th. Update: As some of you may have noticed, I was in NYC this week for an appearance on Anderson Live. So, I will post the list of bloggers participating on November 14th and mail out the books by Nov. 20th. There are still spots left! Can’t wait to discuss the book with you all!

Even if you don’t score one of the 25 free copies of the book, you are more than welcome to purchase a copy and participate in the discussion posts I’ll be hosting on my blog. The discussion can get pretty lively. There is nothing like discussing a book on the internet! haha

Please Note: I paid for the books and am paying for the postage with my own money. This is not sponsored by the publisher. Though, I am totally open to selling out and having a sponsored selection in the future. Also, I will be using the hashtag #MBBCWRW for book club discussion on Twitter. Feel free to use it when you tweet about the book. My Twitter name is @wellreadwife. Be sure to follow me and let me know what you think of the book!

 

Watch the video below to see me make a fool of myself to see why I chose Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose for the Mandy’s Blogger Book Club Fall/Winter selection:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfjmS7RV_iQ&w=480&h=360]

I have 25 copies of Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose to give away to 25 bloggers. Do you have to be a book blogger to fill out the form below? No. As long as you have a blog or Tumblr that you can post a review of Sad Desk Salad to, you are eligible. Please do not fill out the form below if you do not have a blog or Tumblr to post your review to.
[formidable id=27]