Apr 29, 2012

Book Review: The Newport Ladies Book Club: Olivia

Author:  Julie Wright
Author's Website:  juliewright.com
Newport Ladies Book Club Blog:  thenewportladiesbookclub.blogspot.com

About the book:
The Robbins household looks perfect from the outside: no dust, no stains, no wrinkles. Yet a glimpse into its heart reveals no laughter, no closeness, no joy. Olivia thinks that if she keeps everything tidy and serves delicious meals on time, family life is bound to get better. But when her husband, Nick, misses their anniversary, she realizes no amount of domestic success will compensate for failure in their marriage, or for her own failure to develop her identity, always busy as a mother, wife, and neighbor, she has forgotten how to be a unique and vibrant individual. Determined to make a change, Olivia joins a local book club, where she nurtures new friendships and explores new ideas. But her growing confidence falters when Nick declares his independence, and while her new friends lovingly encircle her with support, only Olivia can reach into the depths of her fledgling self to find the faith, hope, and love her troubled family needs.

My review:

I was excited about the opportunity to read and review Olivia by Julie Wright, the first book in the  Newport Ladies Book Club series.  This series is written by four of my favorite authors.  These ladies came up with the ingenious idea of writing a series together.  Each of the authors is already successful in their own right, so when I heard about their new venture, I knew it would be a great success.  After reading Olivia, I'm sure of it.

Authors of the Newport Ladies Book Club Series
Josi Kilpack, Annette Lyon, Julie Wright, and Heather Moore
I've kind of been on a non-fiction self-improvement kick lately, which made me read this book from an interesting perspective.  I was reminded of so many truths through Olivia's story.  Things like we need to fill ourselves in order to have anything to give to others, that when comparing our weaknesses to other's strengths we'll always come up short, and that everyone has a story.

Olivia comes from a place that is common for women.  She gives and gives, taking care of everyone around her, until she's at the point where she needs to do something for herself or break.  In an act of desperation, she decides to join a book club.  The women she meets there each enhance her life in different ways.

A big part of the story is about the broken relationship between Olivia and her husband, Nick.  Having lived through some similar circumstances, I felt great empathy for her situation and was impressed by the grace with which she handled it.  Character growth is one of my favorite elements in a story, and Olivia doesn't disappoint.  Another element of the story that touched my heart were the Heaven Reminders--gentle nudgings Olivia received to help other people, which also blessed her life in the process.  Since reading about them, I've been paying closer attention to such promptings in my own life.

I am intrigued by the other women in the story and look forward to reviewing the other books in the series.  Daisy by Josi Kilpack will be released in May 2012.  I can't wait!

To learn more about the authors or the series, please visit the Newport Ladies Book Club blog.

Apr 16, 2012

Book Review: Banana Split

Author:  Josi Kilpack
Author's Website:  www.josikilpack.com

About the book:

Sadie Hoffmiller has survived eighteen months of nonstop adventures filled with murder, deceit, and danger. She could really use some rest—and maybe even some time to heal—relaxing in the tropical paradise of Kaua'i. However, palm trees and sunshine are not as effective a medication as Sadie had hoped. And when she finds herself entangled—literally—with a dead body, she is forced to face the compounding fears and anxieties that are making her life so difficult to live.

Her determination to stay out of danger and to focus on overcoming her anxieties soon takes a backseat when she meets eleven-year-old Charlie, the son of the woman whose body she discovered near Anahola Beach. Charlies has some questions of his own about what happened to his mother, and he is convinced that only Sadie can help him. If only Sadie were as confident in her abilities as Charlie is.

With the help of her best friend and a local social worker, Sadie dives into another mystery with the hope that, at the end, she'll be able to find the peace and closure that has eluded her.

My review:

I was so excited when asked to read and review Josi Kilpack's most recent Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mystery.  Because my life is crazy busy between working, writing, and carpooling ten kids around, I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read any of the other books in this series, but I promise you, after reading Banana Split, that's going to change.

I have always loved to read.  It's been my escape from my own often challenging life.  But lately, I haven't  found the pleasure in reading that I used to.  I could probably sum up my review simply by telling you that Banana Split reminded me of exactly why I love to read.

Sadie Hoffmiller accidentally falls into a murder mystery, but this time she's not quite up to the task.  I loved the vulnerability expressed through Sadie's character.  Her fears and emotions helped me personally identify with her character.  This book was full of twists and turns and tender moments.  I loved it!

On top of the amazing story, Banana Split includes ten mouthwatering recipes tested and approved by the  official bakers of Sadie's test kitchen.  

Banana Split can be purchased here.  To learn more about Josi's other books, please visit her website.
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