Friday, February 7, 2014

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

Jess Thomas is a single mom just trying to get by.  Her ten year old daughter, Tanzie, is a math genius whose only wish is to attend an elite school for math.  Jess' teenage stepson, Nicky, wears eyeliner and is constantly bullied by neighborhood kids. Jess works two jobs to support Tanzie and Nicky after her husband decided to leave her to find something better.  When the dean at the math school tells Jess about a math competition with a prize that would pay for Tanzie's first year at school, Jess concocts a plan to get them all (including their enormous dog Norman) to the competition.  

When Jess' plan fails, they are left stranded on the side of the rode only to be picked up by one of her cleaning clients.  Because his life has basically fallen apart, Ed decides to give them a ride to the competition.  Three long days of traveling offer up the occasion for Jess and Ed to really get to know one another and both are surprised by what they find. 

My Thoughts:  
In this much anticipated novel, Jojo tells a very unconventional love story.  Ed and Jess live in two different worlds and are thrown together unexpectedly.  True to Jojo's style, she tells a love story that isn't just fluff, but has well developed characters and a plot that will keep you reading all night long.  

Note: I received an advance release copy of this book via Edelweiss. The U.S. expected release date is July 1, 2014.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

Due to some very bad behavior, Andrew Yancey has been demoted from police investigator to health inspector. In a related incident, Yancey also has an arm in his freezer. How the arm got there is explainable, but what he can't explain is who it belonged to and how it became unattached. Yancey believes that if he can solve this mystery he might just get his spot back with the Monroe County Sheriff's department. With an unbelievable cast of characters, Andrew Yancey sets out on an adventure that is entertaining, hilarious, and suspenseful.  
The characters in this book are charmingly bizarre, each one more flawed than the next. Hiaasen does an excellent job of writing people that could be real people if they weren't in such an unusual situation. I found the mystery of the story delightful, and for once I truly did not figure out "whodunnit" until it was revealed to me.  I kept wondering how this ever-growing cast of characters were going to relate to one another, and Hiassen did a masterful job of weaving them all together. Bad Monkey is an entertaining read for lovers of the odd, funny, (possibly a little offensive), and mysterious.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind begins in 1916 France when Sophie Lefevre is left by her husband, Edouard, to go and fight in the war.  Not wanting to be alone, Sophie moves back to her hometown to live with her sister and brother in their family owned and operated hotel.  Not long after her return home, her town is occupied by Germans and their hotel is commissioned to serve dinner to the soldiers every night. Hanging in the lobby of the hotel is a portrait of Sophie painted by Edouard.  Against better judgement, Sophie refuses to remove the painting and insists that in remain on the walls as a reminder of her husband.  The beautiful painting quickly catches the eye of the local German Kommandant and recognizing his fascination with her, Sophie risks her own life and the lives of her family in attempts to be reconciled with her husband.  

Almost a century later, the painting of Sophie hangs on the wall in Liv's home. The painting has become something that she truly cherishes, as it was given to her as a gift by her late husband. Nearly four years after his death, Liv is struggling to pay her mortgage and is knee deep in debt. One evening when in the pit of despair, Liv heads to a gay bar (in hopes that no one will bother her) to drink her sorrows away.  While in a drunken state her purse is stolen and she receives assistance from Paul, an ex-cop, who now specializes in returning art that was stolen during wartime to its rightful owners.  

The Girl You Left Behind is a dual-time narrative that tells the story of two women living in completely different worlds connected only by a painting.  

My Thoughts: 
Jojo Moyes has managed to capture me once again. In this novel, she beautifully tells the story of two women wanting to find love or love lost.  She weaves historical fiction in with the present day and shows how stories of the past are truly important.  Fans of historical fiction will not want to pass this one over.