Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: The Best of Us

**Giveaway is now closed**

Tina is a frazzled stay-at-home mother of four young children. Allie has been leading a charmed life, until she receives some unsettling news. Savannah is trying to make a fresh start with her life after her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Pauline is hiding some huge secrets from her husband, causing a distance within their marriage. Pauline's husband is turning 35 and she has invited Tina, Allie and Savannah, (along with their husbands, although Savannah shows up by herself) to Jamaica for an all-expenses-paid week of paradise, since they were all friends in college. When a hurricane threatens the safety of everyone on the island, there's a heavier storm of turmoil going on at the beach house, leading the women to re-evaluate what is most important in their lives.

Amy Bromberg:
Sarah Pekkanen is one of my favorite authors. I knew she would be when I found out that Jennifer Weiner endorsed and raved about her before The Opposite of Me, Sarah’s debut novel, was released. I get giddy like a kid gets when he walks into a candy store when I receive in the mail the latest from Sarah. She really "gets" chick lit...writing about relatable characters and real life issues. Talking about giddy, I can’t tell you how excited I was when I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah last year at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, NJ.

The Best of Us is a captivating read about four couples who are reuniting for a vacation of a lifetime in Jamaica. The four women however are all dealing with emotional burdens. Sarah takes the time to delve deeply into these women’s relationships and the struggles that they are dealing with. As with Sarah’s previous books, she has this incredible ability to bring her characters to life and make them extremely realistic. First there’s Pauline who, many a time, I wanted to slap in the face. In the beginning she has a big stick up her ass, but as we see later, there’s more to her than what meets the eye. Allie appears to be a goody two shoes, always a smile on her face, bright eyed and bushy tailed…but no one knows the secret she’s been hiding from her husband, Ryan and her best friend Tina. Tina feels she’s losing it from being a full time mom to four kids. And last, but not least, we have Savannah who looks like her separation from her husband is not taking a toll on her at all. But again, no one is ever what he or she appears to be.

If you’re like me you will want to hop on a plane to Jamaica the minute you get a taste of this gorgeous Caribbean beach setting. Sarah has an amazing eye for detail and many of her sensory descriptions draw the reader in. At certain times it was as if I felt the sand under my feet and saw the turquoise waters through my living room window. Okay, so this is a bit of wishful thinking, but you know what I mean.

While as times it was difficult to follow the lives of all of the characters, I still HIGHLY recommend it!

The Best of Us is a light, entertaining, cute and sexy read. Even though it’s not summer yet, it’s definitely a favorite 2013 beach read of mine. I can also see this being made into a movie. Picture Sex and the City 2, but with the men. I can see this being wonderful to devour while lounging on the beach with a strawberry daiquiri or a margarita.

Melissa Amster:

The Best of Us was the novel I took along during my recent vacation. It was rather fitting, since it was also about a vacation. However, we took our kids along with us, so it was hard not to envy the couples in this story at times. (Then again, going to Disney World without our kids would have felt so strange!) In any case, I enjoyed the escape afforded to me while reading this novel. I could live vicariously through the women lounging on the beach all day and getting massages or drinking cold, fruity alcoholic beverages. It made me think of my honeymoon.

Sarah Pekkanen's novels have spanned a variety of topics and don't seem to fall into a particular pattern. She tends to surprise me in this way. Her writing style is definitely consistent though. She has a way of creating characters who feel so real that I forget I'm reading a work of fiction. Even after I put down the novel before going to bed or when I was completely finished, the characters stayed with me. She had more to work with this time around, but she still gave a good amount of attention to each woman, developing a strong story line for them throughout the novel. There wasn't just the action in the present, but also a back story for each woman, along with the birthday boy. We got to learn about how they all met in college and the different ways they connected with each other back then, as well as stuff that happened in their lives between college and the vacation, such as how they met their spouses.

I could relate the most to Allie and Tina. I know how Allie felt about waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like the fact that things were going so well for her meant that only disaster was ahead. What people don't understand about living a "charmed life" is that it is anxiety provoking. We're constantly worrying about something bad befalling ourselves, spouses and children. When Allie received her unsettling news and worried about the potential outcome, I knew exactly how she felt. In regards to Tina, I know what it's like to juggle the demands of young children, worry that you're going to let someone down, and feel guilty about taking time for yourself to recharge. I saw a little of myself in Pauline, in terms of wanting to make sure everyone's needs are met and that things will go smoothly. I had a hard time relating to Savannah, but she was definitely interesting to read about.

As some of the women were carrying some heavy secrets around, I know some elephants in the room did not get addressed. I actually found this frustrating. I just wanted to yell at them "Tell your husband already!" I also would have liked to see an epilogue, where the women could be back in their daily lives a few months later, so that we could find out how the events that took place on the vacation truly affected their lives.

Overall, The Best of Us was an entertaining "escape read" that had a bit of a Desperate Housewives feel to it at times, but with less intensity. (Which I didn't mind at all, since I miss that show!) I became invested in the lives of each of the women and wanted to know what was going to happen for them going forward.

Thanks to Atria for the book in exchange for an honest review. You can find The Best of Us at Indie Bound.

Thanks to Engelman and Co, we have THREE copies of The Best of Us for some lucky US readers!

How to win:
Please tell us the first thing you'd do if you went on a week-long all-expenses-paid vacation to a Caribbean island.

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

US only. Giveaway ends April 14th at midnight EST.

More by Sarah Pekkanen:


pascale said...

I need to read her books. The covers always trick me into thinking that Jennifer Weiner wrote a new book.... and then I realize it's not her and dismiss the book.... but, based on this post, I will give it a try.

First think I would do on a tropical vacation.... change into bathing suit, grab a drink and a NEW book and head to the beach/pool (I know that is 4 things....).

Thanks for the reminder to read a Pekkanen book!

Joelle said...

The first thing I would do on an all expense paid vacation to the Carib is drop everything, strip down to my bathing suit and run into that crystal blue water and then squeal with sheer delight. Once I was done, I'd do the proper check-in and then plop down on the beach with a drink and the first of many books to read that trip...The Best of Us. ;)

ps...Pascale - you will not be disappointed in picking up a Sarah Pekkanen book. Do it, do it!!!

Foodie Girl said...

I just finished The Opposite of Me and her 2 short stories (All is Bright and Love, Accidentally) Loved all of them!

I'm torn between my first thing! Either run straight to the spa or take a nap! Between a full time job, helping my husband open a new business and 2 kids I need something! :)


Book Mama said...

The first thing I would do is lay out by the beach with a book and iced tea :)

This book sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read it.

DD said...

I'm sure the FIRST thing I would do under those circumstances would be to pass out. THEN I'd hit the beach with a snorkel!

dawndennis66611 at yahoo dot com

Margie said...

I'd go to the beach with my Kindle and something cool to drink.

TinaB said...

Work on my tan!!!

Nova said...

The first thing I would do would be to spray on the sunscreen! then I would grab a drink and a favorite book!

Stephanie said...

I'd go to the beach.

Kristen said...

Hit the beach with a fun beverage! :) I always love her books.. excited for this one!!! Fingers crossed.


Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

This book sounds awesome and I cannot wait to read it! I think I remember Jennifer Weiner talking about her with her first book and that is when I picked up her books as well! She's definitely an awesome author that I will always read as soon as one her novels come out!

The first thing I would do on vacation would be find the beach, get a fruity drink and lie all day on the beach reading!

Jessica said...

I would definitely go to the bar and get an alcoholic drink! I don't really like being in the sun but I do like drinking cute fruity drinks by the pool!

-Jessica M

Bonnie K. said...

An all-expenses week long paid trip to the Caribbean island sounds good to me. First thing I would do once I arrived would be to unpack, get a lay of the area, have a small meal, and then head to the beach with a book. I would be sure to have a beach umbrella since I burn easily. I love watching the water. I'd get up occasionally and walk in the water for a bit, and then back to my chair and read some more. Maybe a handsome waiter will bring me some kind of tropical cocktail to sip. I wouldn't mind being pampered.

bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

rhonda said...

Hawaii here I come

Anonymous said...

Wherever I go, I always have something to read with me. So, I'd take a few books to read on this all expense paid vacation and enjoy the scenery and tranquility.

suzyQ4pr at aol dot com

Unknown said...

First thing I would do is get a tropical drink (or two) and sit by the pool with my kindle. Need to relax after a day of travel.

Rita Wray said...

The first thing I'd do is grab a book, a drink and something to snack on and head to the lovely beach. I'd let the hot sun heal my aching body.


Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I kinda hate to say this but....I would nap! I would do it in the sun of course, but I would N.A.P!

Mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews at gmail dot com

holdenj said...

I would grab a lounge chair by the pool, stretch out and read with some sort of tropical beverage at my side! Thanks!

karenk said...

I would grab my latest read and go to the beach....and relax.

thanks for the chance to read this novel

i'm a follower, too.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

DarcyO said...

Plop myself in a beach chair and order a pina colada.


Linda Kish said...

I'd put on some sunscreen, grab a big floppy hat and a good book and a drink and go put my toes in the sand. I'd sit in a comfy beach chair and read to my heart's content.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Tanya Quilts in CO said...

I would sit on the beach sipping a piƱa colada and reading this book!

bn100 said...

go visit the beach

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Jilleen said...

I would grab a great spot on the beach, read and sleep all day long - I have been working 15+ hours 7 days a week since January. My busy season is almost over and I have missed reading and am in need of sleep - big time!

Thanks for the great giveaway!
Jill at Seaside Book Nook

seasidebooknook at yahoo

EFC Chrissy said...

I would sit on the beach and read and read and have some yummy pina coladas and read and relax. I would hope to spend it with my husband....then it would be a replay of our honeymoon! =)

Thanks for the chance!

Erin Kathleen said...

Nothing. glorious nothing!!! I have 2 little children and I love them dearly but man I could use some quiet :-} So I would lie on the beach with a drink in hand and my big stack of books I have been dying to read...ahhh!!

Erica said...

Hopefully there's a floaty chair and a swim-up bar with umbrella stir sticks. Ahhhhhh.

Unknown said...

I would plop myself down on the beach, (after slathering on some sunscreen) with a book and a nice cold drink, and read, read, read!

I love her books, can't wait to read this one!

Hailey Fish said...

The first thing I'd do on an all expense paid vacation to the Caribbean? I would make sure my best friends are with me and we'd go swimming in the beautiful ocean. Then we'd go get drinks and I'd look for hot single guys while my girls would roll their eyes at me because I'm a tad bit man crazy. That is just what I need, too bad it's only a what if.

Susan @ The Book Bag said...

I would get a comfy beach chair, a pretty drink, a good book, and go relax on the beach and enjoy the beauty.


brookea_2006 said...

Lie in the sun and read :)

Maureen said...

I would lay on the beach with a drink and a book.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Twisty J said...

I would explore and relax! It would be an adventure to see where everyday would take me.

Thanks for the chance- it sounds like a great read. I love her books!

Anonymous said...

get into shorts and a sleeveless shirt, put on some sandals and go for a walk on the beach with a drink ;-) something fruity.

Tiffany Drew said...

Honestly, I'd probably attempt to read on the beach but ending up falling asleep in the warm sun lol.


Jessica said...

First thing? Go to the beach and walk in the water.

jessicadeleontx (at) gmail (dot) com

stitchkat said...

The absolutely first thing? A walk along the beach, dipping into the water. Second, a shady spot with a view of the beach and a new book.

S.Sabia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.Sabia said...

I would put on my swim suit, grab a drink and a good book, and relax on the beach reading!

J Mac said...

I would first put on something light and filmy(that's what ya do), open the veranda doors to the ocean view(my room will have it)then step out on the patio, gaze at the ocean, take a deep breath and count my blessings! adult beverage!

Anonymous said...

The first thing I would do on an island vacation would be to clean the remote control for the tv,although I wouldn't be watching much if any tv. That's always the first thing I do when I arrive in any motel/hotel room. The second thing would be to dump all my luggage and go walk on the beach.
Bonnie McMillen

Shelley said...

The first thing that I would do is put on my bathing suit, slather on sunscreen and go lie in the sunshine. I live in Michigan and it has been dark and cold and rainy here for so long. You can buy many things, but you can't buy sunshine.

Anonymous said...

After arriving at the all inclusive resort with all the bells and whistles, I'd drop the bags in the lobby and head for the beach :)

funmail07 at gmail dot com

Krystal Lynn said...

First thing I do is hit the beach and buy some drinks.


Follower on facebook, twitter, blog and pinterest. :)

Anonymous said...

The first thing I would do is bask in the sunshine and warmth!

I'm in the Pacific Northwest and summer doesn't start until mid-July at the earliest. Spring is always the toughest time of year for me because I'm longing for some sunshine.


Unknown said...

The first thing I would do is .... nothing!!! :) No, really, I'd probably grab a book and hit the beach! :)

Melissa said...

Thanks to everyone for participating and telling us what you'd do first at an island resort. So much fun to read your responses and escape a bit!

Thanks to Engelman and Co for sharing the books with our winners, who were chosen by from all entries with contact info (one per person).

Congrats to:
10-Kristen (kly.327)
14-Rhonda (lomazowr)
35-S. Sabia