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Surprise Me–will surprises keep a marriage vital?

Surprise Me

by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise MeI have really enjoyed books by Sophie Kinsella and was looking forward to reading her newest book Surprise Me. At first I felt like I was the one “surprised” in a disappointed kind of way. The characters in Surprise Me are two-dimensional, the premise is bland, and the attempts at humor are not very effective—for the first half of the book. The novel was good enough for me to plug on, however, and I’m glad I did. The pace and interest pick up dramatically in the second half. The characters grow and develop and become people you can actually care about. The original proposition seems silly: how do you live with and love the same person for over sixty years?  I know the world is changing a lot in terms of longevity of marriages, but there are many examples that demonstrate the success of long marriages and the happiness of people in such marriages.

There are many surprises for the reader and the main character Sylvie as she discovers that she does not really know the people close to her as well as she thought she did. In encountering difficulties, she discovers a strength she never knew she had. There are a lot of negative feelings associated with this book and a lot less fun fluff than initially appears to be the case or is usually associated with Kinsella’s books such as the Shopaholic series. Although I came away with mixed feelings, I also took away some serious musings about the ability of testing in life to help build character.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House (Dial Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

Publication:  February 13, 2018 — Random House (Dial Press)

Memorable Lines:

Living with five-year-old twins is like living in a Communist state. I don’t quite count out the Shreddies into the bowls every morning to make sure things are equal, but… Actually, I did once count out the Shreddies into the bowls. It was quicker.

“Oh, marriage.” She makes a snorting sound. “Did you not read the disclaimers? ‘May cause headache, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbance, or general feelings of wanting to stab something.’ ”

“If we don’t stick up for the ones we love, then what are we good for?”

Lemons–in search of Bigfoot and love

Lemons

by Melissa Savage

LemonsLemons is a delightful chapter book intended  for children ages 8-12. As an adult, I loved it, and I will purchase it for my grandchildren.

Lemons features Lemonade Liberty Witt, a young girl whose mother has passed away. Suddenly “Lem’s” whole life is turned upside down. She meets her grandfather, Charlie, for the first time when she moves in with him. Her first friend in her new town is Tobin who founded and is president of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc.

I laughed and cried as Lem and Tobin along with Charlie and Tobin’s mother, Debbie, live out the pain of losing their respective loved ones, at different times and in different ways. They help each other in their struggles and work to make lemonade out of lemons. The relationship of Lem and Tobin and their search for Bigfoot is both humorous and touching.

I recommend Lemons for independent reading or as a story to share in the classroom or with a parent. It explores issues of grief and the aftermath of expressions of grief for both adults and children. This book shows bullying from the perspective of a child who is socially awkward and what a friend can do to help. The tale abounds with humor as the dynamic duo spend the summer getting to know each other as they search for evidence of Bigfoot.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House (Crown Books) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction (Middle Grades)

Notes: provides many opportunities for discussions about feelings and how we express them

Publication:   May 2, 2017—Random House (Crown Books)

Memorable Lines:

The wrinkles are so deep and twisty, each one is like a road map to all the different stories of her life.

[Lemon, thinking about her mother:] It’s an important name. The most important name in the whole universe. I say it out loud every day so the universe remembers how important it is, and that it still matters to someone. And also so it doesn’t disappear. Like she did.

“So we let all our sad and mad feelings take over, and instead of loving and supporting each other, we hurt each other with our words.”

The most important thing to remember is to have gratitude for those we love and those who love us. Even if it’s not for the amount of time we had expected or wished for. If you don’t, you can be washed away by the sadness.

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