As you can probably guess by the title this is what happens to a couple after they are married. To be totally truthful their marriage hits a rough spot and when it does Laureen and Ryan think outside of the box and agree to separate and not speak to each other for a year. During the year Laureen learns more about herself than she ever thought she would. She remembers what it is like to stand on her own too feet, she helps her sister take her first steps toward her dream, she watches her brother fall in love and transform his life, she turns thirty and she tries to figure out if she wants to save her marriage and how to do it. Ryan spends a year doing his own version of the same things that Laureen is doing and then life throws them back together to face their past and decide their future. I loved Laureen and her family and the book is about so much more than just her marriage to Ryan, it is about her family and her friends and her journey to know herself better. I loved the way it drew me in and made me laugh and cry right along with Laureen and her family.
This story really belongs to Justin, a guy trying to do the right thing in a rough world. He begins working at Out of the Hole, a garage that rebuilds and improves classic muscle cars as part of his vocational training. Justin has a four year old sister and a single mom who tends to drink a bit much so his plate is on the full side, but he loves it at Out of the Hole and idolizes Nick the owner. Nick has a true gift with cars and it shows in his work. His wife Maryann runs the office and Justin finds his niche while he is there, then his internship ends but he is lucky to be hired back by Nick once he has his training complete. He notices right away that things are not as they were, Nick is not focused and small things slip by him, Maryann is a totally different woman and he can’t figure out why. The changes for all the characters force them into new situations and force them to face things they would rather not in some cases. Justin learns many lessons as we travel along with him, and he is often stuck between right, wrong and in between. I found Justin to be a narrator with a likeable voice, and while I didn’t always envy him his choices or his life, he and his fellow characters kept me wanting to stay with them.
The Young World is a new comer in the ever popular Post Apocalypse style. We meet Jefferson and Donna and their friends trying to survive in New York, or what was once New York. They have cleared a section of the city and they do their best to keep it clean and neat and safe. There is very limited food, no electricity unless they can find gas for the generators and most surprising of all there are no adults or young children. Apparently the old and the young have been killed by the virus and only teenagers are immune to it, once you hit eighteen it is only a matter of time until you become ill as Jefferson’s brother Washington shows us. I have to hand it to these kids though they are tough and creative and Brainbox tries very hard to find a cure. There search will take them into the main branch of the New York Library and into museums as well. Some of the group live in a hotel and lucky for them there is still a bit of water in the water tank when they need to clean up. I liked the dynamics between the characters who all want to do the right thing in their own way as long as they can do the right thing and stay alive. Jefferson becomes the default leader of the group and while he wants to be a good leader he has no idea how to do it, in spite of this he tries as best he can to protect his friends and do the right thing. I felt for him as he struggled, and I found myself hoping that this group found a way to survive and make the world a better place.
What happens when members of a top crime bosses family are murdered in a terror attack? A man hunt and a revenge plan are quickly formulated and then acted upon. Vincent Marelli funnels his grief into action yet he must deal with the grief his son faces and it the opposite sides of him that make him such a great character. He is powerful and revered, yet he buys his son a pretzel from the corner cart and takes him for walks on the beach. I loved seeing both sides of him and how he changed as he dealt with his grief and moved on with his life. This is not just a fast paced thriller about a crime lord, it is also the story of a father and a husband and a man trying to put his life back together after a tragedy and be the best he can be.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but if you are familiar with Stephanie and her band of buddies you will enjoy this little snippet of her life. Grandma Mauser and Joe’s Grandma Bella are having a contest of sorts, rumor has it that Grandma Bella took a pie in the face at the funeral home and Grandma Mauser is the guilty party. Randy turns up at the door looking for a place to stay, tracking down her biggest skip is never as easy as it should be and even Ranger has his hands full at the moment. The FBI is in town and to help Ranger with is case Stephanie travels to New York and meets a Vodka guy and she also goes with him to Atlantic City as part of the same case, as luck would have it Lula and her Grandmother show up there as well. This has all the usual Plum trademarks, damaged cars, Bob the dog, Stephanie’s Mom stressed to the hilt, and lots of donuts. I’m not sure how she does it but Stephanie and the Plum series always entertains and never gets old.
Annie gives up her out of wedlock son in 1967, and often wonders if she make the right choice and what her life would have been like if she had kept him, but when Tom now named Daniel reconnects with her after the death of his adoptive mother she will have to give serious thought to who she was, who she is and who she wants to be. Her husband and her children don’t quite know how to handle Daniel or her past which only complicates matters. Tangled Lives explores the fact that our lives are never truly quite our own, and that we must make our choices and make the best of them. I loved the characters in this story and the way life kept getting in the way as it so often does for me.
Historical books are not always my first choice for reading material, but when I learned how well the author researches her characters and how some of them are not all that far from her family tree I decided to give this book a chance. I am very glad that I did. I loved Martha Beale right away. She is no high society lady who is afraid to make a fuss, nor is she that woman all the other women talk about while shaking their heads sadly. Martha has her manners with her at all times, but that said she is more than willing to push the limits to get to the heart of the matter and get it taken care of. I won’t say much about the actual plot since it is a mystery, but the main plot point of the novel is that Martha’s father goes missing on his morning walk and from that moment on something is amiss in Martha’s world and she will put it right as best she can. Martha is spunky and gutsy and wonderful.