Book Review: More Than Friends

review-cover-more than friends

Title: More Than Friends

Author: Barbara Delinsky

Genre: Romance, Chick Lit, Contemporary

Rating: 3 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

The Maxwells and the Popes have been friends forever. The women were college roommates, their husbands are partners in the same law firm, their kids have grown up next door to each other, and the two families share both vacations and holidays.

Like Wisteria Lane, the “perfect” suburban street of Desperate Housewives, all is beautiful and serene — until an accident forces these close neighbors to look beneath the surface. And when their idyllic lives are unexpectedly shattered by a moment that can never be erased or forgotten, their faith in one another — and in themselves — is put to the supreme test.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I had to stop and think a long time about what I was going to say about More Than Friends by Barbara Delinsky—a lot more time than I usually set aside to mull over a book. If you go into this book expecting to find a steamy, heartwarming romance… you aren’t going to find it. Classifying More Than Friends as a romance is a bit of a stretch. Yes, romance is a theme that runs throughout the book… but the book isn’t about romance. This is a story of heartbreak and tragedy… about what happens when people make more decisions that effect the lives of everyone around them. It’s about taking a hard look at your life and really deciding what you want it to be… not just taking the comfortable route. It’s also about betrayal, manipulation, and guilt. Conversely, it’s also about friendship, love, hope, and forgiveness.

Before we delve too deeply into the story of More Than Friends, let’s take a moment to talk about the technical: The book is incredibly well written. Barbara Delinsky has a way with characters that is sorely missed in a lot of the literature I read. Her characters are detailed and realistic, even fallible. Relationships are complex and at times, tenuous. The character’s voices, unique. The story was set up in such a way that I got sucked into the settings and situations without thinking twice. There were no grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors.

However, I’ll admit, the story was a little slow—and this is one of the main reasons I marked it down to 3 stars. As interesting and well written as the story was… it wasn’t terribly engaging. Sure, I cared about the characters. I wanted to see where the relationships would lead and if the problems would be resolved… but I wasn’t biting my nails, eagerly awaiting the next chapter. It’s not that the story was boring, but it lacked a sense of excitement that I’m used to in my usual book picks. I put the book down a handful of times. I didn’t throw it across the room. I didn’t wrinkle my nose and complain that nothing was happening… but I set it aside, sometimes for a day or two, and didn’t feel particularly swayed to pick it back up.

This was the second book I’ve read from this author, and both books I picked up from her just so happen to have similar themes… mostly concerning marriages in the midst of falling apart. Is this a running theme with her work? I don’t know. I haven’t read enough to say—but it isn’t my favorite theme for a romance novel. It lacked that high of a brand new relationship and the draw of steamy sex scenes that I’ve come to know and love in romance novels. Does that mean this was a bad book? No. It just wasn’t what I expected.

Overall, I didn’t love the book, but I didn’t hate it either. I think if I’d expected to have this sort of deep read I would have enjoyed it. I was looking for a giggle-worthy romance, and that isn’t what I found by any means. That doesn’t mean it was any less well written though. If you like drama-filled family saga’s, you’ll probably enjoy this book. If you’re looking for a fun romance book… you should probably look elsewhere. This one isn’t going to be for everyone, but I would certainly recommend the author to the right kind of audience. Her writing is excellent.

Book Review: Sweet Salt Air

review-cover-sweet salt air

Title: Sweet Salt Air

Author: Barbara Delinsky

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Chick Lit

Rating: 5 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s family’s island house, but they have since grown apart. A successful travel writer, Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, lives in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole returns to the island house in order to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte for both sentimental and practical reasons. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole would like her help interviewing locals for her book. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees. But what both women don’t know is that they are each holding a secret that may change their relationship forever. Are the bonds of friendship strong enough to weather past indiscretions and betrayals? Can love survive an honest mistake? Filled with real, gut-wrenching emotion as well as a strong romantic storyline, Sweet Salt Air is a new offering from a beloved storyteller guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wish I had read this book sooner. I received a copy of Barbara Delinsky’s Sweet Salt Air from a giveaway nearly a year ago, and never having read the author, and not particularly taken in by the cover (which, by the way is gorgeous… just not the usual bodice-ripper cover I’m used to seeing on a romance themed novel), I set the book aside and didn’t take a second glance. I’m kind of face palming about it now.

I almost cannot put into words how deliciously well written this book was. The writing was clear, fluid, and easy to follow. I felt engaged right off the bat, and before I knew it, I was more than halfway through the book before I happened to look up from the narrative. There were a few typos involved, but let me make it clear that my copy of Sweet Salt Air was an ARC, and chances are that the typos (which were few and far between) were probably cleaned up for the final version.

Though this was indeed a romance, I think the main theme of this story was friendship. Charlotte and Nicole, though having spent more than a decade apart, were true friends in every sense of the words. They made mistakes—big mistakes—but in the end it didn’t matter. through betrayal, distance, time, and the stress of their lives, they continued to try and make peace with one another, and in the end I think their bond was stronger than ever. Their relationship was the type of relationship I think we all secretly want: forgiving, strong, and thankful. I loved every minute of the dynamics between the two friends.

Ms. Delinsky has a magical way of bringing her characters to life that is hard to come by in this day and age. Each voice was unique, and I fell in love with each character (though Leo was by far my favorite). They felt like real people to me, leading real lives, and combined with the rich setting of the island and small town atmosphere, I felt like I was in Quinnipeague along side them.

I absolutely refuse to spoil this book for anyone, so let me end it with this:  Would I read this book again? Hell yes. Would I recommend it? No question. I think anyone who loves a richly spun drama full of romance, betrayal and small town charm will love Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky. I highly recommend you give it a read.

Book Review: Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion

cover-valentinagoldmansimmaculateconfusion

Title: Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion

Author: Marisol Murano

Genre: Memoir, Chick-Lit

Rating: 3 Stars

buy4._V192207739_

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

Description/Synopsis: Since her arrival in the United States from Venezuela, Valentina Goldman isn’t exactly living the American Dream. She’s living the American Nightmare. Her late husband, Max, has left her a young widow, a step-daughter whom Valentina didn’t want, and a bi-polar ex-wife. And oh, having given up her dream job in New York, Valentina is also unemployed in Arizona. Part “Bridget Jones Diary,” part “Modern Family,” “Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion” is the story of a woman trying to get a handle on her whacky life in America. In breathless, blog-like snippets, Valentina compares her own story with that of her eccentric sister, Azucena, who has bizarre troubles of her own down in the tropics. “Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion” is a funny and moving story about what happens when a passionate South American woman moves to the USA and, like so many of us, ends up with a life she never imagined.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I received this book directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Cover: Well done. It’s contemporary, clear, and the text doesn’t obscure the model much. Thumbs up.

This book was one of those books that when I picked it up, utterly threw me for a loop. I was expecting a narrative tale of Valentina Goldman’s life—and that’s what I got, just not in the way I expected. This story is written completely in the telling voice as if the main character, Valentina, is telling a story to a young girl named Emily. To be honest, it took me a long time (four or five chapters) to really reconcile with the strange way it was written, and it did almost have me putting the story down. For a very long while I wasn’t sure if the voice was going to change to a more narrative approach later on, who Valentina was talking to, or who that person was in relation to herself. I’m still not sure how old Emily is. This lead to a very confusing read at times.k

Another thing that threw me off was the constant jumping around. One chapter Valentina would be telling Emily about her sister’s marriage, and then the next she’d be talking about her own step kids. A chapter later, she’d be back to her sister… or her aunt, or her childhood. I felt like I was getting jerked around quite a bit, and it made the story a bit hard to follow at times. I had to spend way too much time piecing the story together for myself than I would have liked.

That aside, I’m not entirely certain what the point of the story was. There didn’t seem to be a theme, moral, or even explanation of why Valentina was telling this story to Emily. There was no discernable plot.

This book did do some things right however; The main character, Valentina, had a very strong Latina voice that was both authentic and entertaining. I live on the border of Texas/Mexico, and I’d dare to say that a lot of the Mexican women I know have the same brash, outgoing personality and sensibility that I found in Valentina. (I mean that in the most positive of ways) Sometimes I found her voice rude and crass, but by the same token, Valentina sometimes found our American ways baffling and absurd, it’s just a difference of culture, and it was interesting to get that kind of perspective on America and to compare the differences.

Did I enjoy the book? Meh… it was all right. I sometimes found the stories Valentina told entertaining, but there were a lot of them that never seemed complete. I do think Valentina as a character was well written and well voiced, but in the end I’m not sure it was the type of book I normally would have picked up off the shelves. The way in which it was written (jumping all over the place, and being told with very little active narrative) made it hard for me to enjoy and follow a long. Still, it wasn’t a bad book, just very confusing. Overall, I consider it a mixed bag, some of it was done really well, and some of it wasn’t. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys quirky, humorous memoirs, or who may enjoy different cultural perspectives given in a South American, female voice. It was certainly an interesting read.