5M4B disclosure

scene of climbMeg Reed has recently graduated with her degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. She’s living in Portland’s Pearl District, an upscale, trendy area with urban parks and beautiful shops that is very fun to walk in. Meg can’t afford to be there, but she’s crashing on her friend Jill’s couch and spending any disposable income on full-fat mochas and IPAs from Deschutes Brewing. One fateful rainy morning, she meets a Jon Hamm look alike and manages to fool her way into a job writing for Northwest Extreme, a magazine that covers extreme sports. Everyone else on staff practices what they write about, and Meg is constantly scrambling to pretend she loves hiking, biking, and otherwise taking advantage of the area’s natural bounty.

But when she’s assigned to cover the end of a continent-wide reality TV adventure show, she staggers up to the top of Angel’s Rest (a 2000-foot viewpoint over the Columbia River Gorge, a brutal hike that rewards the panting and red-faced hiker with incredible views), only to see a body flying off the cliff face just ahead of her. One of the contestants is dead, and Meg knows it was no accident. Can she keep herself out of trouble long enough to figure out whose was the hand who pushed him?

Scene of the Climb is an entertaining, light read. Meg’s an endearing character–a little clueless and bumbling, but good fun although sometimes I longed for her to have a little more common sense. She’s easy to relate to, a young adult struggling to find her feet after college, trying to eat healthy, visiting her mother and grandmother for advice and a good meal. Her friends have semi-starring roles too, especially Matt, who may or may not “like” her but who is definitely someone who is always there for her.

I have to admit that what really sold me on this book was the setting. I live in Portland and I know these places–I love the Pearl, Deschutes Brewing and hiking the Columbia River Gorge. Author Kate Dyer-Seeley does a good job of creating a real sense of place and people through detailed descriptions. This the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Meg does next. It’s not deep or thought-provoking, but it’s an enjoyable, relaxing read.

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The Darkest Hour

My college-age son was home for the summer. He’s a future historian and already knows a lot more about it than I do. (Aside: he’s fun to travel with, as good as Google but with more eye-rolls at your ignorance.) He eyed my TBR pile and selected one that looked interesting to him, set in 1946 shortly after WW2. Here are his thoughts: The Darkest Hour, by Tony Schumacher, imagines a world in which the Nazis claimed victory at the end of the Second World War. John Henry Rosset is a British war hero who now works as a “Jew Catcher” for the Germans. The novel opens with a typical daily routine for Rosset, including him going to a building and rounding up the Jews
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This Is Where I Leave You Movie Review

I saw an early screening of the movie courtesy of Warner Bros. Studios and was given access to author/screenwriter Jonathan Tropper. Read my interview at 5 Minutes for Mom. This was a rare case in which I liked the movie more than I liked the book. I liked the book more than I think I would have because I discussed it with friends, and the themes of family dynamics, hardship, how our childhood affects our adult family relationships, and loss came alive as we discussed it. The jist of the story is that of the Altman family sitting shiva for seven days after the death of their father. The family is not necessarily close in that they don’t see each other frequently and they don’t
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The Underground Girls of Kabul, a 5-Star Read

“In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as “dressed up like a boy”) is a third kind of child – a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg, the reporter who broke the story of this phenomenon for the New York Times, constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom.” Sure, I know it’s a little like cheating to start a review with the publisher’s blurb, but this one
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Beautiful Oblivion

Jamie McGuire blew the romance world off its socks with the Beautiful series (read my reviews of Beautiful Disaster, Walking Disaster, and the novella A Beautiful Wedding) featuring sexy underground fighter Travis and aloof card shark Abby.  She has continued the series with book 4, Beautiful Oblivion, this time featuring Travis’s brother Trenton and the object of his affection, Cami, the bartender who is Travis’s sounding board while he tries to figure out how to handle his feelings for Abby. Cami is happily tending bar at the Red Door, the popular hangout of nearby college students and locals, when Trent starts spending more time there. As they grow closer, Cami is torn between her feelings for Trent, who she’s known since grade school and is aware of
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To See the Moon Again {Review and #Giveaway}

This was my first time to read a Jamie Langston Turner novel, but it certainly won’t be my last! I was pulled into this long novel from the very start by the strong college town setting, multi-faceted characters, and beautiful writing. Julia Rich is at an interesting stage in her life. Her husband died suddenly last year, which has caused her to reflect on their marriage. Why didn’t she ever give herself fully to him? I actually wish that there had been more details about her husband, but sometimes we don’t have epiphanies about all the issues in our past that can be wrapped up in 400 pages, so I’m fine with a little mystery. The second big change in Julia’s life is that she’s
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Early Decision {Book Review and #Giveaway}

Having a daughter who is a junior year in college has made this college thing totally real for me. Lacy Crawford’s novel looks at the lives of privileged teens seeking to get into the best schools. There’s a fair dose of “poor little rich kid,” but as a parent, I also heeded the cautionary tale of taking hold of my daughter’s dreams instead of letting her pursue her own. Read my full review of Early Decision at 5 Minutes for Mom where you can also enter to win a giveaway.
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The Story of Land and Sea

When I was younger, I had a great-uncle who was a Merchant Marine. When he grew too old to care for himself, he lived in a nursing home for sailors on the coast of North Carolina. I fondly remember visiting him there, and have some not-so-fond memories of my history-buff mother dragging us to the historical sights in the area, including towns like Beaufort and New Bern.  The Story of Land and Sea takes place in those same towns around the time of the Revolutionary War, and fortunately I enjoyed it a great deal more than my childhood sight-seeing. John is happy with his life with his daughter Tabitha, though he misses his wife, Helen, who died giving birth to Tab. John’s only other family is Helen’s father,
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Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

I’ve been hearing a lot of Liane Moriarty lately, and as audiobook publishers tend to do, when an author takes off, they sometimes release backlist titles on audio for the first time (It’s also available on kindle for under $3 at the time of this writing). Three Wishes was first released over 10 years ago. It doesn’t feel at all dated, but I would wager that Moriarty’s work has gotten even stronger. I always love a good family novel, so the idea of a story centered around three adult triplets intrigued me. Cat, Lyn, and Gemma Kettle are different, if not in appearance, than in temperament and lifestyle. Lyn and Cat are identical blondes, and Gemma is a red-headed version of the sisters. Their mother
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Expecting, a Novel

Expecting is a novel by Ann Lewis Hamilton that is about exactly what you would think given the title and the cover art, sort of…. Laurie and Alan have been trying to have a baby, but it’s not been as easy as they had hoped it would be. After a couple of failed attempts – devastating miscarriages — their doctor recommends in vitro. I don’t want to spoil the plot twist (I wouldn’t read the plot description, because for some reason I was able to escape it and was surprised in a great way), but soon Laurie and Alan have to confront some issues about what a true parent is. The novel opens with Laurie rushing to the hospital with her college boarder behind the
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5 Novels Set in the Art World {Friday’s Five}

Disclosure: Copies of these books were all received for review at some point, but most have stuck with me these months or years later. Madame Picasso by Anne Girard is the book that gave me the idea for this post. I read it last month and did a post at 5 Minutes for Mom about Learning from Fiction, specifically about the art world. Picasso, Georges Braque and others are featured in this thoughtful novel. I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira features the friendship/relationship between Mary Cassat and Edgar Degas. Degas’ inspiration and style are explored, as well as Mary Cassat fitting into the Salon as a single American woman. I read Leaving Van Gogh by Carol Wallace years ago. I don’t remember the details
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My Mother’s Secret: a Novel Based on a True Holocaust Story {with #Giveaway}

The reality of having to hide Jews to spare them from being victims of the Holocaust is a tragic one, but one with which every young teen is familiar due to the legacy of Anne Frank’s diary. My Mother’s Secret: A Novel Based on a True Holocaust Story is set in Poland. Helena begins the account by sharing her own story. Of course her mother Franciszka figures into it. As Helena grows her mother’s positive influence on her is evident. The story is then taken up by Bronek, a Jew who escapes the walled-off ghetto, then Mikolaj, a young Jewish boy whose father is a doctor, and then Vilheim, a German soldier, and finally wrapped up again by Helena. The different perspectives read like short
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