Friday, January 12, 2018

A Paris All Your Own


Edited by one of my favorite authors, Eleanor Brown, this collection of Paris themed essays is especially perfect for any francophile and Paris dreamer. Take a peek into the lives of eighteen bestselling authors that will whisk you away if only for a short while to the famed city of light. Filled with romance, break ups, high fashion, delicious delicacies and always topped off with a glass of champagne! Women who romanticize and long for the day they are swept away by the worlds most beautiful art, history and warm embraces on a city bench with a handsome French stranger - will thoroughly enjoy these stories by some of our favorite writers. It is so much fun to read and recognize the similarities with their very personal experiences and the novels they have published that were connected to Paris.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Glass Forest


Angie Glass is living a quiet simple life in her small Wisconsin town. She comes from a large family and has lived there her entire life. Just twenty one years old, Angie has a baby and is newly married to Paul, a stranger she met last summer with Hollywood good looks who arrived with little more than a bag and a charming smile. When the phone rings one day in their small house in the woods, their lives are changed forever. Paul’s niece Ruby has called to inform them that her father, Paul’s brother is dead and her mother, Silja, has disappeared. Angie insists she and the baby accompany Paul to upstate New York to help Ruby and find out what has really happened to Henry. From the moment they arrive in the house that is literally made of glass, every step Paul makes leaves Angie questioning who her husband really is. Ruby seems standoffish and Angie can’t discern whether she is shy or hiding something. With each passing days the clues become more sinister. It is hard to tell in this complicated family if anyone is ever telling the truth. Flashing back through Silja’s young life, Henry’s controlling ways had left her desperate and afraid. This twisted, creepy, literary thriller is filled with a cast of characters so quietly deceptive even they start to believe their own lies. Highly recommend this well written, suspenseful novel. You will not be able to put it down (or walk in the forest alone.)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last Seen


Isla and Sarah have been best friends for more than 2 decades. They spend their summers at the idyllic Sandbank where their huts are quaint and cozy and right next door to each other. Their sons were inseparable until the day they were separated forever. At 10 years old Jacob and Marley were swept up by the current and only Jacob returned. Isla’s life is never okay again. The sadness penetrates so deeply that after 7 years she still has moments when she can hardly breathe. For Jacobs 17th birthday he goes to a party with his friends at another hut and does not return. Sarah and Nick search every inch of his belongings, speak to his friends and scour the island but Jacob cannot be found. The police are called, the residents of the Sandbank are distraught and questioned extensively. No-one knows anything and yet every seems to know something Sarah did not. Every day bits of evidence pile on and more clues steer Sarah in her desperate search for her son and the truth. Fabulous author Lucy Clarke has once again written an unputdownable novel filled with suspense and mystery. Incredible characters lead us through this tight maze of friendship and family. Highly recommend this fabulous read - you will LOVE (and check out her other 3 as well!)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Seven Days of Us


When the Birch family is quarantined for 7 days in the English countryside for the holidays it is anything but a very merry. The eldest sister Olivia, a physician, is coming back from volunteer work in Africa. Because she may have been exposed to the virus, the family has decided to stay in the old crumbling, still beautiful family home far from the city. Father is a cantankerous food writer whose reviews reflect his general world complaints, Mother has just been told the lump she found is cancer and is keeping it a secret until after Christmas and the youngest daughter Phoebe has gotten engaged to her longtime boyfriend (who may like boys more than girls) and is way more concerned with the size of her ring than a deadly disease from her sister. When Olivia’s secret Irish boyfriend (volunteers were not supposed to touch for exactly this reason) collapses minutes after his plane lands she hides their relationship. This witty, fast paced, very British novel was a hoot. Each character is delectably ridiculous and smart in their own entertaining way. Really enjoyed and highly recommend this debut novel. Definitely look forward to more from author Francesca Hornak.

The Flight Attendant


Cassie has been flying the friendly skies since she finished college. It was a way to escape her small Kentucky life, the loss of her parents and guilt of her younger sister being placed in foster care. She is pretty and a flirt, an excellent flight attendant. She is also a functioning alcoholic and as the years have passed the forgotten nights and strange hotel beds aren’t as sexy as they once were. Cassie is on a coveted flight to Dubai, and a very handsome younger man is in her section. On arrival she has dinner with him and ends up back at his hotel. But when she wakes in the morning he is not moving, there is blood everywhere, Cassie remembers nothing. At that moment Cassie has quick decisions to make. Choices that will change the trajectory of her life forever. Who is this man? What will she tell her coworkers? Why was she spared? Much like a spy, like an actress, binge drinkers are great liars because there are always blank spaces and situations that don’t make sense. So begins her parade of stories, one lie leading to the next. She must appease her crew, get rid of the broken bottle, her stained purse and convince her sister she is nothing like their father. The story snowballs. Cassie is front page news. The FBI, the CIA, the Union, her lawyer - all want to know. The deeper the web weaves the less people Cassie can trust. Because in the end - who is really going to believe a drunk anyway? This heart thumping suspense all rolled up into one giant wave of words that keeps crashing on you over and over. Unexpected twists and turns at every corner with a main character you find yourself unexpectedly rooting for. Bestselling author Chris Bohjalian has done it again. You are going to LOVE this one!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Darker


As the last movie of the trilogy approaches it was fun to read Darker, the latest read in the Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele saga. The story continues through Christians eyes. (first one called Grey) An abusive early childhood still haunts his dreams and he cannot bare to be touched. Christian wins Ana back and they continue their smoldering tumultuous relationship. This time around he wants to change, try things her way. With no contracts and the future wide open they begin to move forward with their undying love and intense sexual attraction. There is the mysterious Leila, his ex-sub that has reappeared and is stalking them, Ana’s creepy boss is waiting in the shadows to make his jealous moves and Elena (Mrs. Robinson) cannot accept that Christian actually wants to change his life. Repetitive rollercoaster of emotions keeps these two on their toes and in the throes of passion. Like it or not (and I did!) only 54 days until Fifty Shades Freed. 

White Houses


Lorena Hickok, better known as Hick, met Eleanor Roosevelt while working as a reporter in 1932, just before Franklin D. Roosevelt became President of the United States. This was the beginning of the love story that consumed both hearts for the rest of their lives. Lorena had grown up dirt poor in small town USA. She was abused and lonely but her quick wit and determination led her to become the nation’s best known female reporter. Eleanor, distant niece of Theodore and fifth cousin of Franklin grew up in a famous wealthy family and attended English finishing school. She was undoubtedly the most famous First Lady and her desire to save the world one act of kindness at a time filled her years in the White House with incomparable success. She and Franklin had six children. Franklin had many, many relationships outside of the marriage and Eleanor had Hick. Hick was known as the First Friend. Narrated through Hick’s sharp, humorous, intelligence and deep love for Eleanor this fast paced peek into the lives of these fascinating women was completely unputdownable. I have loved all of author Amy Blooms’ novels and this latest is at the very top of my must read 2018 list. Her writing and choice of words as the story was whispered in my ear captured my imagination and heart. Amy Bloom has put her magical touch on these historical figures and it is as if she went back in time and they told her what to write. Highly recommend this incredible read.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Windfall


Mr. and Mrs. Jha have lived a comfortable life in their tight knit East Delhi complex. All the neighbors know each others business - from whats hanging on their laundry line to who is currently dating who. When their son goes off to America to study business (a major coup) and Mr. Jha unexpectedly comes into a large sum of money, their neighbors/friends go off the deep end. Mr. Jha instantly moves the family to the wealthy suburbs and tries his hardest to keep up with the Delhi Jonses. In a very witty, quirky, Indian fashion their simple lives are turned upside down. Their son fails out of school (an enormous disgrace!), their equally ostentatious new neighbors want them to join the club, and their widowed neighbor finds true love. This light hearted, breezy, laugh out loud novel was an unexpected pleasure to read. Bet it would be a hilarious movie!

Between Me and You


It’s December 1999. Ben and Tatum begin a whirlwind romance right out of a movie. Literally. They are both in grad school in NYC; Ben as a writer and Tatum, an actress. She stars in his Indie short film that shoots him to Hollywood notoriety. They become inseparable and their careers soar with limitless possibility. But as the years go on, their marriage is struggling. Mistakes, secrets, pain and losses can no longer be ignored. All the dreams they once had are hampered by the reality that is Hollywood. The gossip, long hours and trajectory of fame is relentless and unforgiving. The memories that Ben carries of his Dad’s expectations smother every bit of his success. Regret and jealousy become too heavy to manage. The story is narrated through the eyes of Ben and Tatum and alternates between their meeting in 1999, the present and every year in between. Although the timeline can seem confusing at times and must be followed very closely, the clear honest voices of these characters easily pulls the reader into their hearts and lives. Don’t miss this enjoyable read, especially if you’d like a peek at the movie star world we all devour in the tabloids!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Standard Deviation


Graham’s second wife Audra is everything he is not; young, bubbly, talkative, and friendly, an extremely quirky character. Her light hearted attempts to genuinely be kind to all people and continuously speak her mind (zero filter with a smile!) lands her in the most precarious situations. Graham, much more of a straight laced type of guy loves her to pieces but she pretty much exhausts him on a daily basis. Taking care of their young son with Aspergers is difficult but in Audra’s world the glass is most certainly full. When Graham connects with his disturbingly type A ex wife Elspeth, their renewed friendship becomes quickly awkward and complicated. This laugh out loud exploration of marriage, first and second - grass is not always greener - is an enjoyable fast paced read. Definitely have to be in the mood for these silly, slightly over the top scenarios but solid writing and characters and I would definitely read more from author Katherine Heiny.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Girl with Seven Names

It is hard to come down to earth after a read like this. The memoir by Hyeonseo Lee, one of her many names throughout her 12 year journey, from teenager in North Korea to defector and asylum seeker living in Seoul, South Korea. The only way to describe this memoir is unimaginable. The bravery she possessed in changing her life when she had no idea what to expect from the outside world, leaving her entire family and heading to a most uncertain future - is astounding. To continue to put one foot in front of the other and solve problem after problem in a foreign land at such a young age is a feat of intelligence and pure determination. Aside from the fact of how interesting (and shocking) her actual path was, this story brings to mind how thoroughly complacent we can become in the comforts of our lives. Hyeonseo had nothing. By nothing, I mean less than nothing. The only thing that kept her going was oftentimes the memory of her loving mother and brother whom she did not see for 12 long years. This fast paced, captivating memoir is a must read. There is so much to learn from Hyeonseo about hope, compassion and the fight for freedom. Also, check out her Ted Talk. A must watch.

https://www.ted.com/talks/hyeonseo_lee_my_escape_from_north_korea#t-711805

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Book of Separation


Tova Mirvis grew up in a small Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, Tennessee. Her family is well rounded, intellectual, loving and kind. Her parents unconditionally supported their children and their choices as they grew up. Tova always dreamed of being a writer and attended Columbia University in NYC where she honed her talent and met her future husband. She remained true to her family traditions and always walked the careful line of what is allowed and what is not. Who is good and who is better. As Tova’s small family grows they make their way to the suburbs of Boston. In this perfect little house, with her three beautiful children Tova’s questions become too heavy, the answers no longer easily shrugged away. She is torn between the strict faith her husband adheres to, the explanations her children demand and daggers of disappointment found in the eyes of her community as she strays further and further from their world. This heartbreaking memoir is Tova’s emotional journey leaving her religious community and her marriage, both overwhelming attempts at discovering the life she was meant to live while leaving so much behind. Well written, softly spoken, this memoir was both eye opening and incredibly sad. But sometimes even hard unanswerable questions must be asked if we want to live a life of truth and honesty. I look forward to hearing this author speak next week at the Boynton Beach JCC Book Fair.

Beartown


Beartown is a small community hidden away in a deep dark forest where temperatures plummet and everyone lives for hockey. The Beartown Bears Junior Team have been working for ten years towards this very moment. To the surprise of the rest of the country they are in the National Semi-Finals. But to Coach David, these boys have given every ounce of blood, sweat and tears they possibly could to this game, to this team, to him. As the big game approaches, a tragedy occurs that leaves a young girl traumatized and the entire season hanging in the wind. A small town needs to dig deep in their hearts to learn the difference between good and evil, loyalty and denial, crime and punishment. I neither like nor dislike hockey. I did not thoroughly enjoy this authors previous book but I cannot say loudly enough how much I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book called Beartown. It is absolutely unputdownable and my mind exploded through the entire journey. Author Fredrik Backman’s prose is so gently descriptive you can feel the cold chilling your bones, hear the scrape of the ice and bang bang bang of the puck. These characters came alive and will remain in my imagination for a long time to come. Highly recommend this incredible read.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Carnegie's Maid


When Clara Kelly steps off the ship she is so thrilled to be on solid ground, it is not difficult to follow the sound of her name being called. She easily falls into a carriage headed for Pittsburgh in the shoes of another Clara Kelly who did not survive the ocean crossing. Suddenly swept up into a world she never imagined, Clara finds herself as a ladies maid for Mrs. Carnegie, the stern but brilliant mother of Andrew, industrialist and business magnate. Clara, daughter of an Irish farmer that insisted his girls be highly educated, begins an unexpected friendship with Andrew. As her teacher and mentor the two fall into a pattern of trust and honesty that is rarely found between a man and a woman at the time, certainly outrageous for a servant and master of the house. While Clara sends money home to help her struggling family, she is burdened by her own secrets and dreams of a future where she can be free to work and thrive. Once again, incredible author Marie Benedict brings history to life with this intriguing, emotional, deeply touching story of America and the dreams it holds for us all. Highly recommend this incredible new novel. A must read!!