Sunday, April 21, 2019

A Well Behaved Woman


Alva Erskine Smith was a resourceful young woman. Her successful parents were socialites and raised their daughters to be educated, independent and worldly. After her mother unexpectedly passed away, her father quickly succumbed to his own illness and loss. The girls were left with very little. All they had was each other and their superior family bloodline. It was up to Alva to marry well and get their family back on their financial feet. She managed to seduce William Kissam Vanderbilt. Their family fortune was growing steadily but the Vanderbilt name was not yet considered amongst the higher ranks of New York. They could help each other. And for the next twenty years that is precisely what they did. While William spent money and wooed various women behind her back, Alva was out to make sure the Vanderbilt’s name would be set in stone. Alva was forward thinking, generous and intelligent. Author Therese Anne Fowler takes us on another incredible journey through time. New York City comes alive in our imaginations as history is made. This well written, interesting and enjoyable read is a must for anyone who loves historical fiction. 

In Another Time


In 1931 Hanna Ginsberg and Max Beissinger fall deeply in love. She is a rising superstar violinist and he is quietly running his parents quaint store after they pass away. Over the next 5 years Germany rapidly changes with the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party. What began as seemingly minor restrictions quickly becomes dangerous and life threatening. Max has begged Hanna to run away with him but her mother is unwell and disapproves of their relationship because Max is not Jewish. Hanna is deeply engrossed in her music and future life she envisions with the Berlin symphony. In 1946 Hanna awakens in a field desperately grasping her violin without a single memory of the last decade. The war has just ended but Hanna looks healthy with no signs of struggle. Does she have amnesia? A psychological disorder? Or does this have something to do with the magical closet Max has held close to his heart? Narrated by both Max and Hanna from the very beginning of their love affair to their desperate search for each other and the truth, In Another Time is a fast paced journey through history with a little bit of time travel thrown in to make this a most unique look at the sliding doors theory of how every choice we make affects not only our own but many lives in the future. Highly recommend another wonderful novel by author Jillian Cantor. A must for your summer reading list.

Out East


Beautiful memoir by John Glynn reflecting on a summer spent by the beach. Friday means catching the train to Montauk, New York where buildings disappear and the blue of the sea and sky merge as one. John is 27, working hard at a Manhattan publishing company and living in a hip part of town with two awesome roommates. He is livin’ the dream. Lately, even when surrounded by tons of friends, John is painfully lonely. His buddies are starting to pair off, life taking them to the next stage. He realizes he has never felt that deep romantic connection with anyone. John spends the summer at the Hive, a shared house where 30 young adults enjoy sun filled days and alcohol fueled nights. John is consumed with the drama of fitting in, finding love and most unexpectedly, figuring out his sexual identity. While closely observing the world of these privileged, beautiful people John finally allows himself the freedom to choose. This sensitive, well written, fast paced memoir is a peek into growing up, acceptance and the importance of love. Thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking, highly recommend this perfect summer read.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Daisy Jones & The Six


Daisy Jones grew up  in L.A. with everything and nothing at all. A child of the 60’s, she was beautiful, young and humming along to the music scene erupting on the Sunset Strip. Her parents had no idea where she was. Along comes The Six, a band from the east coast hoping to make it big. They have a mix of solid musicians and a frontman named Billy Dunne oozing that special something the fans craves. Daisy Jones & The Six write hit after hit. Billy struggles with the music he lives for and the husband and father he yearns to be. The dangerous magnetism between Daisy and Billy is what makes rock stars and also what everyone fears will tear them apart. Written as a running interview, this incredibly unique novel of love, passion and friendship follows an iconic band through the 70’s; a world overflowing with peace, love and rock’n roll. If you enjoyed the movie Almost Famous, you are sure to be swept away by Daisy Jones & The Six. Get your copy and get comfortable because this one sitting read will leave you speechless.

When We Left Cuba


When the Cuban Revolution forces Beatriz Perez and her family to flee Havana, they rebuild their lives in Florida. Leaving with very little, her father is intent on reestablishing himself in the profitable sugar industry, while her mother obsesses over finding suitable husbands for Beatriz and her sisters. Beatriz, however, is solely set on revenge. She is filled with devastating anger over the loss of her friends, her fortune, and her twin brother. She is given the perfect opportunity, when she is recruited by the CIA to aid the fight for freedom, putting in reach her dreams of returning home to the life her family left behind. However, a dangerous love affair with a well known senator complicates her ambitions as readers are propelled on this page-turning adventure through history.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

How to Hack a Heartbreak


It’s been four years since Mel Strickland graduated college and started working the IT help desk at Hatch, a startup incubator. But Mel is tired of assisting these spoiled frat boys who give a great pitch but can’t manage a paper jam - this girl coder has just about given up. She can barely make the rent, repeatedly meets Mr. Wrong and ultimately yearns to leave what was supposed to be a stepping stone into the real world of coding. Crushed when her Fluttr date is a no show, Mel codes the ultimate revenge; an app called JerkAlert (as a joke!) and is shocked when it goes viral. With the help of her incredibly resourceful girlfriends Mel finds her way to both success and her true match in this absolutely hilarious, very contemporary peek at our outrageous startup phenomena, girl power coding and bizarre culture of online dating. Highly recommend this fast paced, laugh-out-loud beach read! #stockupforsummer  Pub date: July 30, 2019 Thanks for the early read NetGalley!

Trophy Life


It has been a decade since Agnes survived on peanut butter and scrimped pennies for the rent. Her dreams of living in sunny California all came true the day she unexpectedly met Jack in a bar. With movie star good looks and impeccable taste, Jack, twenty years her senior, became her knight in shining armor and Aggie the epitome of the textbook Trophy Wife. Squeezing in yoga between her manicure and shopping, a house staff to care for her adorable baby - Aggie has more than she ever dared to imagine. The day Jack disappears, this life is over. In one fell swoop (Madoff style) Jack and every bit of their idyllic existence is shattered. Finding herself at the mercy of Jack’s smarmy best friend, Aggie has no choice but to accept a job at a fancy private school in NY teaching middle school English to a bunch of delinquents. Life’s sharpest turn and greatest challenge become Aggie’s salvation. Witty, charming and well written, highly recommend this absolutely hysterical take on finding the life you were meant to live. Pack this one in your beach bag ladies! It’s a winner!!

Little Fires Everywhere


As mysteriously as Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl, enter each and every one of the Richardson’s lives - they just as simply vanish. The Richardson family live in Shaker Heights, a painstakingly well planned community in Ohio. Mrs. Richardson is a model citizen and shining example of motherhood. Or so she thought. When Mia, a wandering artist enters their lives by renting the Richardson’s spare apartment, all of their beliefs are quietly turns upside down. Each of the four children develop a special friendship with the Warren’s, while Mia creates her art and longs to finally give Pearl a place she can call home. This orderly town is further turned sideways when Bebe, Mia’s co-worker, is forced into a devastating custody battle over her baby girl with a local family very close to the Richardson’s and sides are quickly taken. Examining each type of relationship, it is clear that the bubble people create to live in rarely resembles the painful truth. This insightful, well written novel is filled with wonderfully descriptive characters. The boundaries they cross neither made me laugh or cry. As much as I enjoyed reading this story it didn’t pull my heartstrings as expected. Looking forward to book club discussion as it has many paths to tread.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Woman at the Light


Emily and Martin Lowry, along with their three young children live on Wrecker’s Cay, a small island off the coast of Key West. Martin is the lighthouse keeper, sometimes known as a “wickie,” because of his job trimming the wicks.They live a quiet, solitary life and their lighthouse is of vital importance as many ships crash on these shallow reefs. Lives are lost and treasures often found. Martin mysteriously disappears one afternoon and Emily continues to care for the lighthouse and her family, optimistically waiting for his return. Emily is apprehensive but strangely relieved when the children find a runaway slave on the shore one afternoon. Andrew is charming, strong and resilient. This is the beginning of many secrets Emily must keep for the sake of the lighthouse, her children and her newfound, highly forbidden love. Wonderfully written, Key West author Joanna Brady takes us on a historical journey beginning in 1829, when Key West was a collection of fishing shacks, Ellen Mallory ran a boardinghouse and it became known as the wrecking capital of the world.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Just Call Me Miri


Miri Engle is a young girl from Miami desperately searching for her identity, purpose and most importantly, her one true love. On a high school study abroad program in Israel, Miri immediately connects with the wondrous land of her familial ancestors. And so begins decades of Miri’s journeying around the world, trying to find the right place to call home. Meeting one colorful character after another, Miri learns lessons of friendship, family and the heart that never seem to come very easily. Often experiencing frustration, rejection and painful loss she is determined to move on and not be a victim of circumstance. Just when most people would think it may be time to surrender, Miri makes one more attempt at finding her happiness and charges off again at full steam. Funny, smart, independent and relentless, this firecracker girl never gives up on the people she loves or her dreams of the future. Beautifully written, Just Call Me Miri is an incredible debut novel by author Mandi Eizenbaum. Whether you find yourself laughing out loud or crying from heartbreak, we can’t help but see a little bit of Miri in ourselves and recognize that feeling, that surely there is “more” just waiting to be discovered. Why should anybody settle and not make that bold leap to keep searching? Highly recommend this fabulous new read and look forward to more from this exciting new author. #adventure #travel #friends #love #family #history

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Unhoneymooners


Olive and Amy are identical twins but complete opposites. They may look alike but Olive is unfailingly the most unlucky person on the planet and Amy is the contest winning champion. With her Type A personality at the helm and entire wedding party set (including hideous green dresses!) Amy is beyond excited for her big day. The one downside for Olive is she has to spend time with Ethan, the very adorable but despised brother-in-law to be. When the “prized” seafood buffet sends hundreds to the Emergency Room, Olive and Ethan are the last two standing. They are coerced to go on the all expenses paid, non-refundable, non-transferable trip to Hawaii. And pretend they are the happy newlyweds. So begins, the HILARIOUS, adorable, heart warming story of Ethan and Olive’s adventure. This is a one sitting, can’t get the silly smile off your face type of read. Throw in some typical Christina Lauren - be true to yourself, give people a chance vibe and we have another winner. Available in May. This is going to be a huge summer beach read! Thanks for the early peek @NetGalley

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Red White & Royal Blue


President Claremont is the first woman in the White House and about to run for reelection. Her brilliant, charming son Alex, has fallen in love for the first time. Living in the White House is not always easy, and Alex cannot wait to work on his mother’s campaign when he graduates from Georgetown in a few months. Together with his feisty sister and the Veep’s coding granddaughter they make up the White House Trio. As glamorous and adventurous as this seems (and it is!!) when the tabloids get hold of Alex’s private emails and texts it becomes a public scandal. The world learns that Alex’s secret relationship is with none other than Prince Henry of Wales, spare to the throne. While both American and British PR guru’s are in damage control Alex and Henry must figure out how they can live truthfully and not hurt their families. As their lives are turned upside down; witty, wonderful new author Casey McQuiston takes us on a rollercoaster of laughter, acceptance and hope. I have to admit this is the very first romantic story I have read of this nature and absolutely loved every minute of it. Incredible how this young debut author was able to imagine this alternative love story mixed with mainstream politics and harsh reality. Totally enjoyable, rom-com. A MUST read!!

Southernmost


After a tragic flood hits this small Tennessee town, preacher Asher Sharp’s life is literally washed away. Everything he knows is about to change. He finally finds the courage to face guilty memories of his brother’s departure and his mothers abuse that eat away at his heart. Asher realizes his wife’s judgement runs deep and is sadly never going to change. He wants to teach his son to think for himself, not be forced upon the evangelical masses. When he preaches his last sermon the church he has always known turns him away. Asher and Justin sneak off to find Asher’s brother Luke. They wind their way to Key West where they form the most unlikely friendships and learn the truth about love, family and faith. This colorful, heartfelt story will take hold of your imagination and won’t let go. Wonderful characters, excellent writing, lots of life lessons all rolled into one touching novel. Great book club selection, highly recommend.

Swamplandia!

The Bigtree family run an alligator theme park in the Florida Everglades. Swamplandia! is on one of the Ten Thousand Islands at the far end of Loomis County (think Miami!) Since his wife, the alligator wrestling champion passed away, Chief Bigtree is struggling to keep the theme park afloat. Raising his three children amongst mosquitos the size of small cars and the snapping gators, the kids are loosely homeschooled and gather their soggy reading materials from the library boat that was abandoned years ago. Spunky Ava believes the show must go on and continues her gator training. Ossie has become a spiritist and is currently dating a ghost and Kiwi, an autodidact, desperately wants to attend high school on the mainland. When another park called The World of Darkness threatens to completely destroy their livelihood, these three resourceful kids jump into action. The Bigtree’s somewhat remind me of the Brown’s on Alaskan Bush People (Discovery Channel) a rather twisted, sometimes dark, funny and very imaginative family. Interesting read, wonderful author.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Other Half of My Soul


Rayna, a beautiful, smart, youngest daughter of a religious Jewish family in New York begs her parents to allow her to go away to college. She is rarely denied and has always been her father’s favorite. They finally permit her to study journalism at the University of Maryland as long as she continues to follow their strict religious codes of eating and socializing as they do in their small Syrian community in New York. When handsome Rami sits beside her in class she immediately feels her world turn upside down. He is instantly enamored with her as well. As the two young people get acquainted she learns that Rami is also Syrian. His family lives in a small village, they are Muslim and part of the Shi-ite minority. The more Rayna and Rami learn about each other’s customs and beliefs they are surprised by the similarities but well aware that neither of their families, nor the terrorist group sponsoring Rami’s scholarship would approve of their friendship and vehemently forbid a romance of any kind. But they are young, idealistic and in love. Rami and Rayna naively believe they can find a way to be together without anyone getting hurt. This novel is a unique story filled with passion and determination. It brings up a lot of difficult issues regarding family, religion, politics and deep rooted history. The writing is average (needed serious editing) but I must say it was an extremely interesting read and will be a heated discussion at book club this month.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Last Romantics


The fours Skinner siblings survive the Pause. This is a 2 year period where their mom, after the unexpected demise of their father, enters a state of suspended life. She rarely leaves her darkened bedroom and the children manage on their own. Renee, the eldest takes care of everyone; clothes washed, mouths fed and games played - while they wait for the Pause to end. Renee, Caroline, Joe and the youngest Fiona form an unbreakable bond during this time that will guide them and affect all the choices they make for the rest of their lives. Later, Fiona becomes a renowned poet and her most famous love poems are the essence of her and her family. From the perspective of Fiona - at well over 100 years old - this story flashes back back back through the Skinner timeline; the relationships, the triumphs and the losses. The siblings search for true love, and learn that their lives have been deeply affected by everything that happened during the Pause. After reading and loving the historical fiction novel by Tara Conklin years ago, I jumped at the chance to read her latest work. The writing is once again astounding but I have to admit the story of a dysfunctional family and how siblings survive is not very original. Sometimes it is just timing but I had to force myself to the finish line.

Monday, February 11, 2019

More Than Words


Nina has grown up as the wealthy daughter of New York hotelier and legend, Joseph Gregory. After losing her mother at a tragically young age, Nina has been her father’s princess, an only child that is the future of his empire. Recently, her world has been turned upside down. Her father is ill, her lifelong best friend Tim has proposed. Nina has been raised in a world filled with headlines about her family. She was groomed for a life of public persona. Tim understands all of this. They would be a power team. There is no-one who knows her better. Nina is working on a mayoral campaign and when the candidate, her boss Rafael is in the same room, she cannot breathe. As Joseph Gregory’s health declines Nina learns more about her parents mythic relationship, the family finances and the truth about her own warped memories. All the while, when Rafael is near the world stops spinning and instead of following the crumbs laid before her, Nina must finally choose. I nervously picked up this latest love story by incredible author Jill Santopolo. After her bestseller - The Light We Lost - well, who could blame me? I am happy to report I fell down the Santopolo rabbit hole once again. Do not miss this beautiful, touching (much too quick read!) about making hard choices with the ones you love and changing your destiny.