Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Days Like These: A Novel by Sue Margolis

Days Like These: A Novel. Sue Margolis. Penguin Publishing Group. December 2016. 368 pp.  ISBN#: 9780451471857. 

Judy Schofield hasn’t been doing well since her husband passed away.  Now, her daughter and husband are hoping to do medical work in Nicaragua and ask Judy or Nana to babysit for the six weeks they will be away.  While her daughter has a lot of anxiety about this arrangement, Judy takes it in stride and agrees to watch her granddaughter and grandson.  Little does she know what she’s in for, despite the fact she raised two children on her own quite fine!
The children are cooperative and sweet for the first twenty-four hours. Then starts the bickering, insulting, and hiding of belongings.  Meals seem to calm things down but what to watch on TV, what toys to play with, what books Nana should read and when, extension of bedtime, and so much more finally get to Judy and she gets it that she’s going to snapping sharply very soon.  Fortunately, she keeps her cool and keeps them from killing each other. 

Meeting the other Moms at the local school is a challenge.  The social satire of this novel is depicted in a funny but real way.  One mother insists on overseeing everything, cornering other mothers into volunteering for the next community fair.
While the plot is rather novel in the first half of the book, the remainder are pretty much what the reader expects.  Yet there is enough cuteness and feistiness in these children to keep the story alive. Just how far can Nana be tortured without losing her cool completely?  And what is it about contemporary kids who are never allowed to be alone without something to do?  How about just “being?”  In one sense, Nana can help her daughter and her grandchildren to realize that life does have a significant purpose and it’s not about social meetings where everyone compares food and clothing or being busy at every waking moment. 

Days Like These: A Novel is a lovely story that warms the heart while it keeps a few darts of adrenaline floating in the reader’s heart and brain.  Judy meets people who embrace life.  There should be more to come, but who knows the long-lasting effects of this one perfect day! Nicely put together, Sue Margolis!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

When All The Girls Have Gone.  Jayne Ann Krentz. Penguin Publishing Group. November 2016. 352 pp. ISBN #: 9780399174490.

Charlotte Sawyer’s stepsister Jocelyn is away on a no-contact retreat far from home.  But that need to know basis becomes very important when Charlotte finds out that Jocelyn’s good friend, Louise, has not overdosed on drugs but instead has been murdered.  All of a sudden, Jocelyn has disappeared and it turns out she left her retreat after the first night.  Charlotte is now afraid for her sister’s well-being. 

It turns out that several women had formed what was an investment group.  A cousin of the murdered woman hires Max, a private eye investigator who lost his previous job because it went all wrong.  It’s clear Max is the hero of this story as his investigative skills are immediately obvious.  He finally gets out of Charlotte that Jocelyn had a troubled past and they wonder if this is involved, even though Jocelyn had been clean of drugs and rough living for many years.

No spoilers here – readers will be shocked when they find out that one’s past follows one for years and has consequences, some of which one can involve more than an obvious victim and perpetrator of crime.  These women all know there is more than meets the eye than people know about their “investment” group but now realize they are in some very deep trouble that is beyond their control.

Other deaths will happen and families will become more involved, even Max’s family.  A secondary part of the story involves how Max and Charlotte work closely together and a romance appears to be in the making, along with some cute humor. 

While the plot is serious, there’s an easy flow to the story that stops it from being oppressive.  Even the humor that is intermixed helps cut down the fear that Charlotte and these women feel – and rightfully so!  All in all, When All The Girls Have Gone is a nice read and seems to end as if there is more to come in a sequel.  For those who love crime fiction and mysteries, you’ll be pleased with this contemporary, dramatic novel!