Tag Archives: St. Martin’s Press

Review: Love Me Anyway by Tiffany Hawk

11th July 2013

pg1*This book was sent to me by the publisher Thomas Dunne Books, in exchange for an honest review.

Since my first flight at age 23, I’ve fantasized about careers that would give me the means to travel for a living. Samantha Brown? I may have said a few bad things about her because I’m green with envy. Yet I never once considered being a flight attendant. Tiffany Hawk’s debut novel Love Me Anyway is a great example of why.

Emily Cavenaugh and KC Valentine meet when they begin training as flight attendants. Both seeking a different life – Emily as an escape from an abusive husband, KC looking for the father who abandoned her – they become friends, or as friendly as they can be when their schedules involve flying to different sides of the world and running into one another infrequently in the apartment they share with four other girls.

KC encourages Emily to loosen up, to really cash in on the experience of literally becoming a world traveler. But Emily falls for the wrong guy, a married flight attendant working a stringent schedule so he can spend more time with his two young daughters.

Problems don’t disappear at 35,000 feet; in fact, the hectic schedules, exhaustion, and loneliness only intensify the challenges as KC and Emily fly from San Francisco to London, London to Chicago, and everywhere else in between.

When the unimaginable occurs, and the September 11 attacks involve their sister planes, the women are grounded and forced to face the reality of who they are and where they’re from. Hawk does such a fantastic job of showing what the men and women working for airlines must have felt in the days and weeks after the attacks. The shock and grief of those moments is distilled in these characters and sharpened as many face layoffs, unable to acclimate to life on the ground.

As Emily says to her father when he picks her up, “I want to go home.” “You are home,” he says. Love Me Anyway is a surprisingly deep look at what that word entails and how finding home may not happen while surrounded by four walls and a roof overhead.

Add this to your Goodreads shelf.

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

11th April 2013

pg1

Eleanor

He didn’t look up. He wound the scarf around his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.

Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.

And Eleanor disintegrated.

Park

Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.

As soon as he touched her, he wondered how he’d gone this long without doing it. He rubbed his thumb through her palm and up her fingers, and was aware of her every breath.

Eleanor occupies the only empty seat on the bus, the one right next to Park. And as much as he doesn’t want to talk to her and risk the wrath of the kids at the back of the bus, he notices her reading his comic books…so he opens them wider and positions them so she can read them more easily. And then there’s a moment when everything changes, and Rowell captures that sweet but completely painful feeling of a first love.

When I first read the passage above, after a slow buildup like you wouldn’t imagine, I disintegrated. I was instantly brought back to my first hand holding, on a school bus, on the way back from a band trip. Like the Cool Water cologne the guy wore that can instantly transport me to the nervous, exhilarated, alive 15-year-old I was, Eleanor & Park made me remember that moment with endearment and nostalgia.

Everything matters in high school, to high schoolers. Each moment is a first or a last, and Rainbow Rowell depicts the intensity of these moments with vibrancy and beauty. Eleanor is the new girl at a new school. She sticks out badly in her Goodwill jeans and sneakers and considers asking her school counselor for a toothbrush. The only thing holding her back is the imminent call to CPS. Plus, she’s overweight with bright red hair. And home sucks. Her mother’s husband – she refuses to acknowledge him as any relation to her – sets her on edge. She only showers or goes to the bathroom when he’s out or fast asleep, uncomfortable around him, mature yet unable to vocalize or fully articulate exactly why he upsets her so completely. The threat of harm hums, and Rowell doesn’t shy away from the quiet terror of an abusive home. Then Eleanor goes to school where she gets picked on, but really, that’s the least of her worries.

Park, on the other hand, comes from a loving home and parents who are fierce in their love and belief in their son. He may screw up, but even as Park and his dad struggle to understand one another, there is never a doubt that this is a father who supports his son. Sure, Park has problems, such as being the only part Korean kid at school, but his parents kissing in front of him is the biggest issue he deals with at home. And he finds himself inextricably drawn to Eleanor. He isn’t necessarily attracted to her, but she does fascinate him. She wears crazy accessories – a necktie around her ponytail, gaudy hairpieces – and he wonders why she’d want any extra attention, the death knell for a teen as different as Eleanor.

Set in the 80s, when a mixed tape could convey more than any love note, Rainbow Rowell writes a love story for the misfits, a story about the imperfect guys and gals, the kind who loved Star Trek and The Smiths, the type who weren’t blonde, thin, and perky but who loved just as hard and fast. And watching these two make their way toward one another, finding one another for the first time is, as John Green* said, “delicious.”

Add Eleanor & Park to your Goodreads shelf.

*I read this book the week it came out but haven’t blogged about it because I read John Green’s review and thought: That. That’s what I want to say. If you haven’t checked it out, head on over.

Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green

6th March 2012

*The publisher St. Martin’s Press sent me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Andi marries Ethan in her late 30s, but she’s glad she waited. She and Ethan are in love, and for the first time, Andi knows she’s with the right guy. The only thing lacking is a child of her own, and Ethan isn’t overly concerned as he already has two daughters, Sophia and Emily. Sophia adores Andi and has from the first time they met. Emily is another story. The first time she sees Ethan hold Andi’s hand, she shoves Andi out of the way, without a word of rebuke from Ethan. Andi wants Emily to, if not love her, accept her, but the harder Andi tries, the less Emily warms to her. Tension escalates as Emily enters adolescence and begins drinking and sneaking in at all hours. Andi doesn’t feel it’s her place to correct Emily, and Ethan is so fearful of losing Emily’s affection that he consistently fails to take up for Andi, pitting the two women against one another. When Emily gets pregnant, it will bring Andi’s marriage and her family to the breaking point, and she’s not sure she can take any more.

Is this book typical for me? Not at all. It has a pink cover, y’all. WITH a heart. However, I was in the mood for something a little different.

Did I want to ring Emily’s neck? You guys. This little youknowwhat so had it coming. Andi tried so hard to be there for her, and Emily just kept figuratively slapping her in the face. It was really difficult to watch Andi take so much crap over and over again.

What did I think of Ethan, who allowed his daughter to act this way? Gah. It’s rough because you could see how torn he was. He loves his wife. He loves his daughter. He gets to the point where he’s so incredibly frustrated that he just shuts down, and honestly, I can see how easily this could happen. He’s a good guy. He’s a loving husband and father, but he just cannot deal with these women.

So…overall impressions? I enjoyed this book. As a 30-year-old woman who hopes to someday marry, the idea of stepchildren is horrifying. This book did not lessen that. I admire people who mesh families and do it well because I can see how I would just out and out hate Emily. She’s as cruel as only a teenager can be, and it would be so difficult to feel as if you could not discipline a child who lived in your house and acted that way.

However, parts of this book I struggled with because of the unusual storytelling style. The novel is written in present tense, which usually doesn’t bother me, but it was pretty annoying here. Plus, the entire first half of the novel was told from Andi’s perspective. Suddenly, halfway through, the narrator begins to switch between Andi and Emily. Well, by that time, I pretty much couldn’t stand Emily and had no desire to hear what she had to say, and in my mind, she never redeemed herself enough that I enjoyed her narrative voice. She’s incredibly selfish whereas Andi, though she does make some mistakes, is largely generous and loving. Had Emily’s narrative voice come in sooner, it may have changed my feelings of INTENSE HATRED, though I’m not sure it really would have. The thing is, I know there are people out there just like her, so it’s really not far-fetched at all.

And last but certainly not least, did this book include salsa dancing? YES! If you don’t know, I love to salsa dance. I’ve been dancing for years and love a salsa club. Green includes a great scene where Andi and her friends go dancing, and it was perfect. She says, and I quote, “Dark, and sweaty, and filled with dark good-looking men eyeing the women up and down, they realized quickly that what was missing from these clubs was a threat. The men weren’t eyeing the women seductively, but rather to see who was a good dance, whom they would choose next, not as a lover, but merely a partner in the sensual beat.” This is what I love about salsa dancing. Going to a salsa club is a unique experience. You’re judged, not by how tiny your skirt is or how much boobage is hanging out, but by how you dance. It’s an amazing feeling, and I love that guys will ask you to dance, smile and dance with you and then settle you back in your seat with no expectation. It’s. Amazing.

So all in all, this book was outside my normal reading experience, but I enjoyed it. AND, the nice people at St. Martin’s Press have kindly offered a giveaway copy as the book is out this week. Leave me a comment telling me if you have any cruel stepmother/stepfather/stepchildren stories, and I’ll pick a winner by Sunday at midnight!

Buy this for your Nook. Or from Indiebound.

UPDATE: Giveaway closed. Congrats to brn2shop for winning! An email has been sent to you with instructions on how to claim your copy.