Janel’s #CBR5 Review 10 – The Geneva Decision by Seeley James


I don’t remember exactly how this book made it into my e-book queue, but it was an unexpected find. Something about the Pia character reminded me of the Vanessa Michael Munroe character from Taylor Stevens’ series. Perhaps it is the mysterious past, or the need to demonstrate her defense skills. I felt that the soccer angle didn’t really add anything to the plot overall.

This book has a good old-fashioned mystery at the core with modern day twists. If you are looking for a good read with mystery, intrigue and a touch of romance this book is for you.

Janel’s #CBR5 Review 9 – The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

0062257838.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_An inheritance from a mysterious stranger . . .
An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris . . .
And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory . . . and a secret

Read an ARC from Harper Collins

I’m a sucker for books set in Paris and a good mystery.  This book goes back and forth between 1955 and the 1920s weaving mystery, good times, scandals and romance with both Grace, the jaded housewife, and Eva, the mysterious muse.

While initially I was not impressed with the Grace character, she does manage to grow as a person by the end of the book. Plus she has a sweet romance with the French lawyer helping with the estate left to her. Eva has her own issues and is constantly trying to reinvent herself and run away from her past. The reader will be happy to see how the two characters intertwine and “connect” even though they never meet in person.

Tessaro’s writing draws the reader in and captures the essence of both time periods and places (New York and Paris). I’m curious to see if previous books by Tessaro are able to capture the same whimsical nature that The Perfume Collector has.

Janel’s #CBR5 Review 8 – The Doll by Taylor Stevens

15998316This book is the third in Taylor Stevens’ Munroe character series.  I’ve been a huge fan of Stevens since I heard about her first book, The Informationist, back in 2011.  Her second book, The Innocentcontinued to impress me and this third book did not let me down as well.

The character Vanessa Michael Munroe has been described as a female Michael Borne and Stevens continues to demonstrate that likeness in each of her books.  In the first book, the reader is intrigued by Munroe’s past.  In the second book, the reader learns more about the decisions she had to make in order to survive let alone help others.  In this third book, the reader continues to see how past decisions have hurt and helped Munroe in her life. This third book also allows the reader to see how the few people Munroe allowed into her life are impacted when she is in danger.

Stevens continues to put the reader directly in the action as well as within the characters’ minds. At the same time she exposes a real-world problem and situation in a creative way.  If you are looking for a good set of books for your beach reads this summer, I recommend picking up these 3 books from Taylor Stevens.

Check out this recent article where Stevens shared instances of real-life women who disguised themselves as men similar to the Munroe character.

Janel’s #CBR5 Review 7 – The 500 by Matthew Quirk

0316198617.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Mike Ford is a former con artist who’s been plucked from his Harvard Law School classroom to be an associate at The Davies Group, Washington’s most high-powered and well-respected strategic consulting firm. Their specialty: pulling strings and peddling influence for the five hundred most powerful people inside the Beltway, the men and women who really run Washington — and by extension the country, and the world. The namesake of the firm, Henry Davies, knows everyone who matters; more importantly, he knows their secrets. Davies’ experience goes back 40 years — he worked for Lyndon Johnson, jumped shipped to Nixon, then put out his own shingle as the Hill’s most cut-throat and expensive fixer. Now he’s looking for a protégé to tackle his most high-stakes deal yet, and Mike fits the bill. Quickly pulled into a seductive, dangerous web of power and corruption, Mike struggles to find his way out. But how do you save your soul when you’ve made a deal with the devil?

I found this book via Amazon’s Kindle Deal of the Day. Any book that deals with politics, intrigue and the DC metro area usually grabs my attention. To me this book was 1 part Nicolle Wallace Washington politics with 1 part David Baldacci thriller.

I had a hard time putting this book down, but at the same time the plot seemed familiar. If you are looking for a Washington thriller then this book is for you. I was surprised by the ending, but in a way I kinda knew that was the way the book was going to end.

Janel’s #CBR5 Review 6 – Faking It by Elisa Lorello

10617969What happens when a writing professor and a male escort become friends? Thirty-four-year old professor Andi Cutrone has broken up with her fiance in Massachusetts, moved back to her native New York, and wants to be a better lover. So after meeting Devin, a handsome, charming escort, she proposes an unusual arrangement: lessons about writing in exchange for lessons about sex. When Devin accepts Andi’s proposal, he draws up a contract in which the two are forbidden to see each other socially. There’s just one problem: Andi also wants Devin. Faking It is a witty, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching story about relationships, writing, and getting real

I’m not sure where I heard about this book, but it was the first book I read as my hour commute started up. Andi is a likeable character and the reader is immediately drawn into the proposal between her and Devin. I was glad to see that Lorello provided some depth to her characters. This book is more than a normal romantic comedy/chick lit book.

Without giving away too much of how the book ends, I was glad to see that Lorello didn’t take the traditional approach with her characters. But there was a nice twist at the very end that definitely will keep the reader guessing. This book is another good beach read.

Janel’s #CBR5 Review 5 – The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett

What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle’s estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won’t enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty–unaware that she is changing too.But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him

March Book Club

This year my book club is reading selections from our Childhood. In February, we started off with The Great Gatsby. I don’t remember reading The Secret Garden as a child, although I’m sure I did. I was familiar with the story to know that multiple movies and a musical were made based on the book.

I found it hard to read the prose when Burnett used the Yorkshire speak and at times I ended up skimming the descriptive parts to find out what happened next to the characters. During our book club we discussed how important to the growth of a child is adult guidance and attention. We also discussed if redemption should be given to Colin’s father once he realized what he had been missing by not having a big relationship with Colin.

Reading this book as an adult, I focused on different things than if I had been reading this book as a child. But I feel like there is still a powerful message to take from the book whether reading it as an adult or as a child.

Janel’s #CBR5 Review 4 – How Lucky You Are by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

1455502030.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_In the tradition of Emily Giffin and Marisa de los Santos, HOW LUCKY YOU ARE is an engaging and moving novel about three women struggling to keep their longstanding friendship alive. Waverly, who’s always been the group’s anchor, runs a cozy bakery but worries each month about her mounting debt. Kate is married to a man who’s on track to be the next governor of Virginia, but the larger questions brewing in their future are unsettling her. Stay-at-home mom Amy has a perfect life on paper, but as the horrific secret she’s keeping from her friends threatens to reveal itself, she panics. As life’s pressures build all around them, Waverly knows she has some big decisions to make. In doing so, she will discover that the lines between loyalty and betrayal can become blurred, happy endings aren’t always clear-cut, and sometimes you have to risk everything to gain the life you deserve.

I read the bulk of this book while my one daughter was in the hospital for an outpatient procedure. Up until that day, my reading time had been non-existent. But when given hours of uninterrupted time to kill reading a book becomes a great activity.

This book captured my attention within the first couple of pages. I was lost in the lives of Waverly, Kate and Amy. Lewis did a good job of showing the push and pull of their relationship as new details of each of their lives were discovered. I could see this book being turned into a Romantic Comedy/Chick Flick no problem. I felt that each character tried to grow a bit by the end of the book even if that meant potentially losing their long staying friendships. I liked the DC Metro area being featured within the book as well. The intrigue of politics and the city life added an extra element to the overall plot.

This book would definitely be a great beach read or a good book to pick up when you need some light, but touching reading.

Janel’s #CBR5 Review 3 – Preemie Parents by Tami Gaines

Tami Gaines addresses the emotional aspect of being a preemie parent and delivers a positive message of hope and action. She is truly an authority on this subject as she has lived the experience firsthand. Both her children were preemies (she gave birth to twins after only 25 weeks (her daughter spent 3-1/2 months in the neonatal intensive care unit, her son spent over 18 months). Preemie Parents is an inspiring, personal guide that will help parents of preemies learn valuable lessons in coping and becoming effective advocates for their children.

I found this book looking for a preemies book that would share experiences with raising premature children. At first, I found Tami’s story interesting, but as I read more and more of the book I just felt sad for her. Tami’s story is extreme and not like the average preemie story.

This book could be a one part of any education for a new parent of a preemie just starting their NICU journey, but it shouldn’t be the only story they read. For me at our stage of our journey, I didn’t learn too much that I already knew. Some of her advice would not be realistic for every parent of a preemie. Overall this book didn’t satisfy the need I was trying to fulfill.

Janel’s #CBR5 Review 2 Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

ImageMindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers. Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.




As I am just jumping into this e-book world, one of my friends suggested that I read this memoir for some lighter side reading on my iPad. I have watched Mindy on The Office, but I didn’t know much more about her.

I enjoyed this book and read it over a few early morning while rocking my daughter to sleep. The book is part storytelling part stream of consciousness that pulls the reader in. If you read Tina Fey’s Bossypants, then you would like this book as well.

Janel’s #CBR5 Review 1 – Nurture Shock by PO Bronson and Ashley Merryman

nurture shockOne of the most influential books about children ever published, Nurture Shock offers a revolutionary new perspective on children that upends a library’s worth of conventional wisdom. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, the authors demonstrate that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring–because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, Nurture Shock gets to the core of how we grow, learn and live – Amazon.com

“It’s when children are at their most mysterious that we, their caregivers, can learn something new.” This sentence is the very last one in the conclusion of this book and it really captured the tone of the book well.

During my pregnancy, I didn’t read many parenting or twin books. It was hard for me to think about what life with my two girls would be like. Now that they are born and I’m learning what it means to be a full-time (right now) mom, I am curious to read more parenting books. So when Nurture Shock was chosen for book club, I dove right into the book.

The term “Nurture Shock” refers to the panic, common among new parents, that the mythical fountain of knowledge is not magically kicking in at all. Reviewing many different research studies, the authors found that most of the noteworthy insights into child development were revealed when two assumptions were dropped:

  1. Things work in children the same way that they work in adults.
  2. Positive traits necessarily oppose and ward off negative behavior in children.

The authors explore the effect of losing one hour of sleep, why children lie, the impact of siblings, language development, talking about race, the inverse power of praise and testing for the gifted program. Even though a lot of research was presented throughout the book, the authors had a way of framing the studies with real world examples to help explain what the research found.

While some of the topics are not relevant for my parenting situation right now, I do feel that I learned more about how a child’s brain works. The language chapter was extremely interesting to me as it explained different methods to helping increasing your child’s vocabulary. The chapter on praise definitely was eye-opening as well. Even someone who is not a parent, but is interested in how a child’s brain works would find this book interesting.

Reposted from personal blog http://bibliophibian.blogspot.com/2013/01/cbr5-1-nuture-shock-by-po-bronson-and.html