Saturday, December 15, 2018

My Favorite Half-Night Stand


Nearly 30 years old, Millie has best friends for the first time in her life. Growing up, Millie kept mostly to herself, she lost her mother at a young age and never really dug in deep when it came to emotional issues. Alex, Ed, Reid and Chris work with Millie at UCSB. They are all young, intelligent, up and coming professors - and just a little bit nerdy. They don’t date much and tend to spend their off time playing Monopoly and drinking beer together. Millie is one of the guys and although they all joke, protect and love her like a sister, Reid is the one she is closest with. For two years he has been her confidant and her companion on a daily basis. One day, a little drunk, what started out joking around turned into a night of passion that neither Reid nor Millie ever expected. This laugh out loud, clever rom-com, brings you into the heart of true friendship and complications of the online world filled with apps for modern dating. Fabulous characters, easy, delicious romance. Another hit by Christina Lauren, don’t miss this enjoyable read.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Saving Beck


Beck is in high school. He is smart, handsome and a football superstar about to graduate and most likely go to Notre Dame. Beck’s home life has been difficult the last year when his father was killed in a tragic accident. His mom has fallen apart, she neglected her job and has all but forgotten his younger siblings. Beck has pitched in to help out and take care of them whenever he can, but anxiety is mounting as he realizes his college plans may be put on hold. Beck smokes pot occasionally. As an athlete he has never been a fan but lately it is the only thing that calms his nerves. A friend offers him H - which is a pill form of low dose heroin. This is the beginning of the end for Beck, as he finds a place where the guilt, pain and burden that consumes him are lifted in a cloud of drug induced peace. When his drug use spirals horrifyingly quickly out of control he disappears into a world he never knew existed. His mom, siblings and beautiful girlfriend are devastated by this indescribable destruction. This book of fiction was beautifully and well written by author Courtney Cole who shares some of her own experiences at the end of the story. In a manner much like Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, this novel shredded my heart. The reality of addiction and strength of these harsh elements are hard to read about but necessary to understand. This should be mandatory reading. 

Watching You


Tom Fitzwilliam is the headmaster of the local school. Handsome, charming, intelligent. Maybe a bit too sweet with the teenaged girls he mentors. He lives with his wife, a passionate runner, younger, always seems a little bit off and their son who methodically observes the neighborhood with binoculars from his perch at the top of their home. Joey, a late twenties misfit has a crush on Tom. She lives across the way with her perfect heart surgeon brother, his mysterious wife and her unsuspicious husband Alfie. Jenna is a student who lives nearby with a psychotic mother who believes she is being gang stalked and Tom is the notorious leader. These characters converge on a mission to figure out Tom’s mysterious past and his wife’s deceptions. With many twists and turns author Lisa Jewel takes us on a suspenseful journey with shocking surprises and quite a cast. Highly recommend this new one if you are in the mood for a mild psycho thriller that is enjoyable and easy to read.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Only Woman in the Room


Hedwig Kiesler was an Austrian born beauty that most people remember as Hedy Lamarr, the glamorous Hollywood movie star from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Talented, beautiful, exotic and married six times - her intelligence was not the first thing one might  have noticed. But Hedy was brilliant, observant and possessed a confidence that quickly catapulted her to stardom. She was a powerful woman at a time when women were often put in their place on the arm of an important man. The Only Woman in the Room shares the story of Hedy’s life from her early days as a young stage actress in Vienna, to dinners she shared with Nazi’s and her first husband Fritz who manufactured weapons and played both sides of a very dangerous game. Later, Hedy made her escape to Hollywood and fulfilled her self imposed penance with inventions that could change the war and the world. Another fabulous work of historical fiction by author Marie Benedict, who brings these female figures to life. Highly recommend this incredible new page turner!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

One Day In December


Most of us don’t know if we believe in love at first sight but when Laurie glances at Jack through a bus window their eyes meet. Being young and adventurous she is tempted to race off and introduce herself to this handsome young man. But as the bus pulls away she too quickly loses her chance. Finding this man becomes a joke between Laurie and her best friend Sarah, looking down alleyways and around crowded pubs. Until one day Sarah beings home her new beau for Laurie to meet. And in walks Jack. For the ten years that follow secrets of the heart painfully twist and turn while time marches on. That snowy day in December changes their lives forever. This enjoyable rom com was absolutely adorable. It’s a tad long on the ending and becomes a little repetitive but definitely fun chick lit for the holidays. 

Next Year in Havana


The year is 1958 and Elisa Perez, one of the many beautiful Perez sisters, has fallen deeply in love. This beautiful man she innocently met at a party is older, he is not part of the wealthy society set of the Perez family and he is a revolutionary, working secretly to oust Batista and give the Cuban people the freedom and equality they deserve. Fifty nine years later her granddaughter Marisol visits Cuba for the very first time. She has come from Miami as a journalist but also to grant her precious grandmother’s last wish and spread her ashes in the country she was born. As Marisol discovers both the secrets  and dreams Elisa kept hidden for decades, she also meets a man who will open her heart to discover more about her family, her heritage and herself than she could have ever imagined. This wonderfully written family saga describes unimaginable love and loss for an island where millions of people struggle for the past and their unknown future. Highly recommend and looking forward to reading author Chanel Cleeton’s upcoming novel (2019) When We left Cuba.

Friday, November 30, 2018

From the Corner of the Oval


Beck Dorey-Stein attended Wesleyan University and like so many shiny new graduates the after life became a little daunting. After bouncing from one job to the next, mostly teaching, she found an opportunity on Craigslist, (of all of places!) and with a sort of Jack of all trades, master of none attitude, accepted the position and spent 5 years as a White House stenographer. At the time Dorey didn’t quite understand what the job entailed but when she stepped onto Air Force One to travel with the elite team, the actual inner circle of President Obama, she left all her questions on the tarmac and got to work. Through new friendships, sleepless nights, trips around the entire world with the people who ran it and even an unlikely romance, Dorey’s memoir is absolutely unputdownable. Dreaming for a moment, (I wish this was me!), thinking of the young people I know searching for a meaningful job, and all the while kvelling over the love and admiration this entire team had for Barack Obama. This memoir is funny, interesting and written with so much heart. Highly recommend this fabulous read and so grateful Dorey found her voice and shared her incredible experience with us.

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.