Monday, April 21, 2014

Giving Myself Away

Title: Giving Myself Away
Author: Grete DeAngelo
Publisher: Panoptic Books
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
ISBN: 9781628279153
Number of Pages: 292
How I Got It: direct from author
Format: paperback

In Giving Myself Away, divorced mother Adrienne Manning is devastated to find out she's pregnant after messing around with a guy who's clearly not boyfriend material. He's a lonely mortician with a spiteful daughter, and things just happened late one night after a funeral. When Adrienne meets George Freihoffer in a coffee shop to tell him the news, he asks her to get married and promises to take care of her. Adrienne hasn't been single long and she doesn't trust men so easily after Drew, her high school sweetheart turned husband, left her for a perky soccer mom. Adrienne and Drew's two sons don't like spending weekends with their dad and his new wife, who has four wild boys of her own. They are confused about why Adrienne plans to give up the new baby and they worry she'll get rid of them too. Adrienne gives George an ultimatum: agree to the adoption or she won't talk to him anymore. He accepts, but in the meantime, drifts into a relationship with Carolyn, a woman Adrienne initially set him up with to get him off her back. Adrienne realizes when he's gone that although she might not have been madly in love with him, George was a good friend and she misses having him around. Being alone causes Adrienne to second-guess her decision about the baby. Giving Myself Away grabs readers by the heart and guides them through a realistic journey fraught with tough decisions.

My Review:
I don't like books with an "agenda" and at first I was worried this novel would push the adoption agenda. But it does not. Grete DeAngelo created a relatable character in Adrienne Manning. What would you do if you were recently divorced with two young boys and found yourself pregnant after a one night stand with a friend? Adrienne has a lot of options but none are without consequence and heartache. After deciding to give the baby up for adoption, Adrienne must still progress through life's daily challenges plus new situations and obstacles due to her pregnancy. DeAngelo gives readers a perspective not often seen in novels. I personally can not think of a single other novel where a financially responsible, non-addict, "good" mother makes the decision of adoption. The logic and responsibility behind Adrienne's decision is admirable but DeAngelo doesn't make her a martyr. Adrienne's decision is not supported by everyone. The baby's father, George, offers to marry Adrienne and when she refuses, he resigns himself to any decison she makes. George's daughter is a whole ball of teenage mood swings and Adrienne is the perfect outlet for her. Adrienne's sons try to wrap their minds about why they can't keep the baby. Her mother is very concerned with appearances and Adrienne's appearance at her mother's book club exemplifies how strong and determined she is in her decision. 
While the subject matter would seem to be heavy and highly emotional, DeAngelo injects a good amount of comedy. From the very first pages when Adrienne finds her sons playing with "swords" and one of them is her pregnancy test, readers know that even though the novel is about an adoption, it is also about the lives swirling around the situation. 

** I received this novel in exchange for an honest review ** 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ideal Movie Cast for Until You're Mine

Tamara over at Traveling with T and I are posting today about our ideal cast of characters if (when?) UNTIL YOU'RE MINE would be (is) made into a movie. So here are my choices:
Claudia: I picture blond, rosy cheeked, calm demeanor-----Naomi Watts or Scarlett Johansson 
Zoe: I said yesterday that I pictured Emma from the TV show "The Following" but I think it could be Kristen Stewart because there is something a bit "off" about her or Kristen Bell because she is so bubbly but gets sneaky as Veronica Mars.
Lorraine: hard working detective resentful of her husband-----Sandra Bullock 
Stella & Grace (Lorraine's daughters) Kendall and Kylie Jenner. They are a little older than Grace and Stella but they ooze rebellion. 
Adam: I didn't really have a mental picture of Adam. The female characters drove this book and the male characters were not much concern to me. I guess maybe----Gerard Butler
James: I also didn't really picture much for James but let's throw Ryan Gosling in there, because it's Ryan Gosling

I'm interested to jump over to Tamara's page and see who she picked now! Did you read the book? Who would you choose for a movie cast? 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Talk with R & T: Until You're Mine

This week is all about Samantha Hayes' new release UNTIL YOU'RE MINE, both here and over at Traveling with T's blog. So far this week you can read my review as well as Tamara's and enter our giveaway. Today we dig a little deeper into the psychological thriller that had us both up way past our bedtimes. Over on Tamara's blog she is featuring an interview with Samantha Hayes and you can read here. Here on Ivory Owl Reviews Tamara and I further discuss our reactions to the novel.


I was browsing through Netgalley (dangerous place!) and the cover caught my eye. Then the synopsis, well knowing from the synopsis that Zoe was a character to not be trusted intrigued me. Seeing that Claudia had this picture-perfect life- that intrigued me. I had a definite inkling of THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE (you know that creepy-good movie with Rebecca de Mornay in it?) I immediately clicked the “Request” button and held my breath till I was approved.  Perfect nanny with a mysterious air-check! Pregnant woman who is unsure whether to trust her instincts or not- check! Creepy attacks on pregnant women- check and check!

I found the summary very interesting and I also requested this title from NetGalley. Rarely do I ever read about pregnant women in any way other than idyllic settings, or maybe pregnant mistresses, pregnancies from affairs, etc. Attacks on pregnant women fascinated me in a tragic, Nancy Grace topic sort of way. When I read the book I thought of THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE throughout the book, too! And Tamara and I never said that to each other before now!


Ok, I have to be ugly here. I didn’t pick up on this in the synopsis and it really shouldn’t matter, but it kind of does- settings in England are not my fav. There, I said it. I mean I freaking love a British accent, but the last fewpsychlogical thrillers I’ve read that were set in England were just kind of disappointing to me (I’m looking at you THE LAST WINTER OF DANI LANCING!) So, when I started reading this and realized the setting- I briefly considered quitting. Again, it shouldn’t matter, but I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from previous books- and I think that almost influenced my feeling of the setting. After reading UNTIL YOU’RE MINE, after thinking about it for days (I’m obsessive!) it wouldn’t have worked set in America. It had to be set where it was- even though the setting itself was NOT a huge character. But you just have to read to understand more!

I have to really think about if the setting affected me at all. I think the fact that certain agencies operate under different protocols made it easy for me to not over analyze situations that I may have been more critical about. For instance, when the investigators examine the attack victims or  the confidentiality of social services. Not that I know proper police procedures or legal allowances in the United States, but it was easy to brush it off and say "that's just how they do it there" instead of being distracted by possible inconsistancies. 


Zoe- dear golly- I did not care for Zoe for quite some time. I mean she was crazy. Baby-obsessed.  She had redeemable sides to her- it was like you could tell as you were reading that someone else was pulling Zoe’s strings.... Or else she was one heck of an unreliable narrator. I was never quite sure where exactly I stood with Zoe.
Claudia- you know how people love pregnant women? Talk about that glow they have? Claudia glowed in this book- here she is, on the verge of having everything she wants, and then... It’s like the universe just threw Zoe into her life. I can’t tell you the number of times that I was like “Claudia, pull it together and fire Zoe. Get yourself to a hotel or call the police or something and let a person know you are feeling vulnerable!”
Lorraine- it was all in my reading of who is attacking pregnant women and how much danger is Claudia in that Samantha Hayes had to throw a character in who is having marital issues, child issues and, quite honestly, for the most of the book- Lorraine almost seems unnecessary. Oh, by the end, I understood her role- but I could have lived without some of her drama.

Zoe- I watch The Following and I kept thinking Zoe is Emma! Anyone who watches this show knows what I mean, especially because Emma was originally Joey's nanny and seemed perfect. But we all know that underneath it all she was a "follower" and secretly liked killing people. 
Claudia- Oh Claudia, finally getting everything she wants. She loves her job and after marrying a widower with two small boys she is pregnant. Life is grand, right? 
Lorraine- I really liked Lorraine a lot although I couldn't figure out why Hayes was really giving so much of her story until much further into the book. Seriously the issue with her husband using her body wash was so small that most readers may have missed it but I rolled my eyes and talked to the book saying "EXACTLY!" Or that she acknowledged the fact that Lorraine wasn't as accomplished as her husband because she had taken on a majority of the caregiving for their daughters. The underlying resentment was palpable. 


So, as documented above- I was loving this plot. LOVING it. Then, I opened the book. And it began letting me down- it wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. I read along, because I really wanted to see how the Zoe/Claudia dynamic played out... I was interested; but not overwhelemed with interest. And then... THEN, it was like the bookish gods read my “ho-hum” interest in this book- and rewarded me. Big time. Huge. This book quickly went from “I’m mildly interested to I’ve got to flip the pages on my Kindle faster so I can know what in the world is going to happen next!” I hate to harp on Lorraine, but I wasn’t just loving her. Like I was digging the whole being a strong woman in the work place (totally digging that!), but her personal drama was a bit ehh....  James- Claudia’s hubby- as a reader, I never did get a fully formed picture of James. He smacked a bit of some shady behavior (and I wondered if we were going to find out some big dark secret of his past!)

I was excited to read this novel when I first read the summary, then even more excited when Tamara and I decided this would be our initial feature for Book Talk with R & T. As I began the book I was a little confused. Then I started tweeting Tamara questions and guesses about what was going to happen. I began to pick up the pace as the story progressed because the fact that Claudia is about to have a baby lends an urgency to each day that passes. And then.....And Then!! The climax and ending of the book had me mouth open in shock reading. I actually said "What the f*ck?" and "Holy Sh*t!" out loud several times. 


Yes. Yes, I think I would. Samantha had a way of writing that did entertain me- so I’m def curious to see more from this author!
Absolutely! I don't usually find myself drawn to thrillers or mysteries, but I will definitely read more by Samantha Hayes.


Tamara: Thumbs up, baby!
Rhiannon: Two thumbs up!