Thursday, November 1, 2018

Another Woman's Husband


Rachel’s boyfriend takes her on a whirlwind romantic getaway to Paris. It is everything she has dreamed of as they plan their future and imagine what their lives will be like. As they are heading to the airport they witness a horrible accident in the tunnel. It is none other than Princess Diana. Rachel’s boyfriend becomes obsessed producing a documentary of Diana’s life, Rachel happens to have a client who grew up with Diana. As words are twisted and secrets revealed, the tragedy that rocked 1997 becomes unexpectedly entwined in their simple lives and almost tears them apart. Flashing back to the early 1900’s is portrayed the friendship of Mary Kirk and Wallis Simpson, later known as the Duchess of Windsor, an American socialite whose marriage to the British King Edward VIII caused a crisis that led to Edward's abdication. This work of historical fiction is both real and imagined: the lives of these strong, brave women that fought for independence, friendship and love, the connection to Princess Diana and Rachel, an average girl with a vintage clothing shop in London. Absolutely loved this fabulous page turner and I am equally excited to have found author Gill Paul, another British author to add to my list of favorites. Highly recommend this terrific read.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Spark of Light


A group of people are taken hostage at an abortion clinic in rural Mississippi. Detective Hugh McElroy is the lead negotiator when he surprised to discover that his sister Bex and daughter Wren are inside. Each hostage has a different background, a different story. A nurse who is pregnant and hasn’t told her boyfriend, a lonely waitress from an airport bar, and Bex who is accompanying her niece Wren to get birth control for the very first time - to name a few. The story is told counting the hours backward to uncover how each person found themselves in this terrifying position facing an unbalanced man carrying a fierce vengeance. Jodi Picoult’s novels normally flow easily and often touch on significant events of our time. Unfortunately, this one failed to grab my heart. From the beginning the characters felt all over the place, I did not connect with a single one (and there are just so many!) Instead of the story building, this going backward method was slowly losing me until I was glad it was finally over. Can’t say you would not like it, hey, this is Jodi Picoult. If you are a fan, you may love it, just was not for me.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Truth About Us


It’s always just been Rowan and her dad. Living in a small town and working at his automotive center while she goes to college, Rowan has never known anything bigger than this. Until she falls in love for the first time. Normally Rowan would never trouble herself with the difficulty of dating someone who works for her dad but when she meets Tyler there is nothing that can tear them apart. Three years later she mysteriously breaks up with Tyler. They are both devastated and the twist is to figure out why. This very simple love story has a sweet romance but very little substance. Cute, easy, light but not really enough to recommend.

Katerina


Jay is a talented, intelligent, free spirited addict in the early 90’s. He is addicted to drugs, alcohol and a desperate desire to find love - which he confuses with intimacy and sex. He goes to Paris just shy of finishing college so he can write, drink, do drugs, have sex and define his choices as freedom and art. Author James Frey is the same mind streaming, insightful, detailed writer that he was with his bestseller A Million Little Pieces. Nothing has changed except he is now reflecting on his life; he is older, possibly wiser, and definitely more honest with himself. This book is nothing like I gathered from reviews, both the good and the many bad. His character is that of a selfish addict that is insecure, confused and yet has a sweet and loving heart. The story to me is neither romantic or insightful. The prose is exhausting to follow and very little actually happens. I remember loving his other book (whether it was true or not, I never cared) but this one did not grab me. I don’t know why some people have such struggle finding happiness but reading about it felt pointless and sad. Can’t really find a reason to recommend.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Betrayals


One summer vacation changes the lives of two families forever. Rosie and Lisa are best friends. They marry friends and each have a boy and a girl. They vacation together every summer at a beach house that has been in Rosie’s family for generations. A mysterious note, a drunken husband, a spiteful teenage girl and an affair. Too many secrets repressed and unexpected consoling by the wrong husband to the best friend and you have a mash up of lies, cover ups and destruction. Excellent writing, interesting characters, kind of predictable behavior. The best part of this novel was the format. Narrated from different character perspectives reveals how different people handle the perception of a situation and how seriously the warped memories we cling to affect all of our life decisions going forward. Interesting novel, dragged a little at the end.

The Dream Daughter


Carly Sears lives in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She married her childhood sweetheart and is 6 months pregnant with their baby girl when she receives the terrifying news that her unborn child may have a fatal heart defect. It is 1970 and the medicine of today does not exist. But Carly’s brother-in-law, Hunter, a physicist and one of the smartest people she has ever met, reveals his truth and everything she ever believed is turned upside down. Putting all her fears aside, Carly will do absolutely anything to save her daughter’s life. This novel by Diane Chamberlain is unputdownable. Filled with an incredible cast of characters, this touching story takes us on a unforgettable journey through time travel, testing the strength of sisters, motherhood and marriage. Tough decisions and difficult choices will have you dreaming of all the many possible outcomes for a rather surprising ending. Highly recommend The Dream Daughter and looking forward to more from this incredible author. Five Star Read!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

In This Moment


Meg has just picked up her precocious teenage daughter Audrey from school. Distracted by life, she barely glances as she comes to a stop and waves a boy to cross the street. Out of nowhere another car appears, going too fast and definitely not looking. After unimaginable screeching and slamming there is pure quiet. The victim is Audrey’s boyfriends twin brother. Unrecognizable but thankfully alive, he is rushed to the hospital. Meg can’t help but blame herself for the role she played and horrors she witnessed. Her own teenage guilt of losing her best friend come flooding back causing her intense sadness and insomnia. She finds herself lashing out at her husband Ryan, fighting with Audrey incessantly over nothing and everything - and completely running out of patience with her boss at the real estate firm. The only person Meg thinks of is Andrew, the boy’s father. She does everything in her power to help Andrew who is sad and lonely and in need of comfort. Meg needs absolution and Andrew needs a shoulder to cry on. The height of such emotions are a dangerous combination when lines are drawn and slowly crossed. Stories about the frazzled working mother can become literally exhausting but I really liked these characters and voyeuristic peek inside the family dynamics many of us face. Doing it all, doing it well and hoping the world sees an unrealistic image of perfection. Highly recommend this well written novel.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Girl From Berlin


Gabi is being forcefully removed from her farm, her vineyards, her life. At 77 yrs old she has led a quiet peaceful existence producing some of the best award-winning wines in Tuscany. Since she was a small child she has known no other home. A huge corporation has filed suit against her. Vital documents are missing, no-one will listen to her story. Liam and Catherine begin their Italian adventure when a local Chicago restauranteur/friend begs them to fly to Italy and rescue his Aunt’s property. Liam begins to uncover each layer of carefully buried deception while Catherine maneuvers around Italian lawyers and judges. A fast paced mystery woven through present day and WWII, when Gabi was just a child and Italy fell to the Nazi regime. Through a memoir written by her mother Ada, an aspiring violinist and her family in Berlin, we learn how these brave and kind people kept their faith and hope in each other while facing the horrendous perils of wartime Europe. Absolutely loved and highly recommend this touching, fast paced novel, #5 in the Liam and Catherine series, by fabulous author Ronald Balson. Note: they are only connected through the appearance of characters Liam and Catharine, not their individual story lines. Each novel is an excellent stand alone!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Not Our Kind


After a minor taxi accident in NYC, Patricia and Eleanor’s lives become unexpectedly intertwined. Patricia is a wealthy Park Avenue sort, with her fancy apartment and even fancier friends. Eleanor, having been born and bred only a few blocks away on 2nd Avenue, could not have had a more opposite upbringing. Her father passed away and her milliner mother struggles to make ends meet. Understanding the value of education, Eleanor was encouraged from a young age to excel and rise from her station in life. She attended Vassar with a full scholarship, almost unheard of for women in the early 1940’s, and especially for one who is Jewish. Although they don’t have much in common, Patricia is out of options with her difficult daughter Margaux, who at 13 is a polio survivor who has missed a lot of school and has had a hard time accepting the physical limitations in her life. Eleanor just happens to be a teacher looking for a new position and they instantly hit to off. Maybe too good to be true, Patricia’s husband, Wynn, does not approve of this arrangement, immediately insisting Eleanor changes her last name to something less Jewish for the sake of the neighbors. Her brother Tom falls head over heels for the new tutor and Eleanor is forced to dig deep and learn life’s greatest lesson. Filled with love, friendship and family, this beautifully written novel instantly took me away to another time, another world with hats and gloves rules to be followed. Absolutely loved and highly recommend this fabulous fall read.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Rain Watcher


The Malegarde family reunites for a weekend in Paris to celebrate the father’s 70th birthday and parents anniversary. Family only, their American born mother Lauren insists. Grown now, Linden and his sister gather for this special occasion. In turn, Paris is experiencing an historic flood as rain pelts the city and the Seine rises to devastating heights. The family becomes trapped as the weather and declining health of both parents hold them hostage for a number of days. Linden, a likable character and famous photographer flashes back through his life and struggles. This novel is beautifully descriptive but the contrived series of events followed by one tragic remembrance after another is over the top, entirely constructed for a family the reader never has a chance to sincerely care about from the start. Having loved many novels by this author, I was sorely disappointed by this early read that failed to capture my heart.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Lilli de Jong


Lilli de Jong is a young woman, a teacher, a daughter and sister in the Quaker community of Germantown Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s. She is well educated, pious and falling in love with her father’s apprentice Johan. With the promise of marriage and a life in Pittsburgh, Lilli and Johan have a romantic evening that changes her life forever. Pregnant and alone, Lilli has lost her teaching position and is forced from her father’s home. She finds solace in a charitable home for women throughout the pregnancy but after her daughter Charlotte is born Lilli is faced with a future she never imagined. To keep her baby she risks both their lives and while the world at large shuns an unmarried woman with child, Lilli chooses hope as her salvation. As Lilli tells her story in the format of journaling, this unbelievable story describes one woman’s strength as she learns what it is to be a woman and a mother. Highly recommend this well done, heartfelt, incredibly detailed work of historical fiction by author Janet Benton. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Life Lucy Knew


After an unexpected accident Lucy wakes up in a hospital bed grateful to be alive. Surrounded by her family, all seems like it is going to be okay until she sees Matt by her side and thinks, what is he doing here? Matt is her devoted, handsome, intelligent  boyfriend whom she thinks and BELIEVES is only an acquaintance from work. Mystified by this confusing rollercoaster of emotions, it is discovered that Lucy is suffering from a syndrome you might call “honest lying.” Her brain has filled in blanks while she was in a coma and to Lucy they seem perfectly real. So while devoted Matt is ready to resume their routine and relationship, Lucy honestly, truly, heartbreakingly believes she his married to her ex-boyfriend. She can visualize their beautiful wedding, her dress, every detail. She misses him terribly and even as she gets help from her doctors, her family and friends to fill in gaping holes that make no sense, she is painfully in love with a man she hasn’t seen in four years, who is married - to someone else. Will she get her memory back? Will her feelings for Matt return? Lucy doesn’t know if things will ever make sense again. I adored this incredibly unique love story filled with the complicated angst of family dynamics, trust and friendship. Fabulous characters and an absolute page turner. Highly recommend this intriguing, romantic, well written novel by author Karma Brown.

The Girl He Used to Know

Annika and Jonathan were college sweethearts at the University of Illinois. They competed in the chess club together and he was pretty much her first everything. A little off on social situations with quite a few challenges that are never named, Annika is beautiful, smart and painfully shy. Jonathan gently brings her out of her shell one step at a time. When their after college plans don’t turn out as they hoped it is not until ten years that they are reunited. Getting to know each other once again, their romance still runs deep as they navigate this relationship from different places in their lives. I really enjoyed this heartfelt tender novel from fabulous author Tracey Garvis-Graves. She captured the essence of a very different type of character than in her previous books. Thank you NetGalley for the early read. Pub date April 2019!