Monday, May 21, 2018

How to Walk Away


Margaret has meticulously planned her future. One successful step forward always leading to the next big accomplishment. With handsome fiance in hand, dream job waiting and townhouse purchased, she could not have been more devastated the day it was all taken away. A tragic accident leaves Margaret reexamining everything she has ever believed and each and every person she loves. Filled with unexpected humor and an abundance of hope, her long lost sister Kit rescues her from self pity and pushes Margaret to dig (really) deep and forge ahead. I read this fast paced, funny, thoughtful, emotional novel in one long sitting. It is completely unputdownable, thought provoking and heartwarming. Like the train wreck of Me Before You, the reader cannot look away and will be mesmerized by every single page of this beautiful story. Trust me reader friends, this is one you cannot miss.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Husband Hour


Lauren Adelman grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, summers at the shore, idolizing her older beautiful sister Stephanie and trying hard to fit in at her local highschool. After unexpectedly capturing the heart of the most popular star of the winning hockey team, her life couldn’t seem more perfect. Rory and Lauren fell in love and after some rocky years separated by college, they finally marry. Their storybook romance takes a horrible turn when Rory leaves the NHL and the life they have built to join the armed forces. When tragedy strikes Lauren is widowed. Most young women are just beginning their lives and hers, abruptly ended, is filled with sadness and weighed by guilt. Lauren hides away and lives a barely there existence. One summer a handsome film maker approaches Lauren and after years of turning down all media inquiries about Rory, she is inclined to speak for the first time. Matt helps Lauren reexamine her past and turn her grief into forgiveness. After all she has lost, her relationships with her parents, sister and nephew teach Lauren about what she still has. This is a beautiful story about young love and a family turned upside down by secrets, jealousy and loss. Definitely recommend this enjoyable summer read. 

We'll Always Have Paris


Rosie and Peter meet in art college. She has led a rather hum drum middle of the road existence and dreads the idea of becoming her mother. Their young love affair is intense, Rosie’s first everything. They dream of a life in Paris, as artists, together, forever. But Peter’s well off family drags him away for the summer and he does not return. Rosie moves on with her life, marries, raises a family - her dreams of art, Peter and Paris disintegrating as if they never existed. 47 years later as fate would have it, Rosie and Peter are unexpectedly reunited. Their immediate attraction is still there but Rosie is struggling to find that young girl she abandoned, that free spirit she once consumed. This beautiful story is filled with questions about love, trust and connection to the people closest to you. Its interesting to ponder whether ones youthful feelings of love are fleeting or remain in your heart always. Its amazing how you see people through the eyes of the time in your life that you were closest with them. Whether its childhood or college years, they seem to know the younger you, maybe the one you have slowly forgotten. The other fabulous story line describes Rosie’s complete commitment to her daughters, often forgetting her own self, seemingly unfair that they cannot see her for the whole person she is, only as their mother. Highly recommend this sweet, thoughtful enjoyable novel by author Sue Watson. A perfect read for summer.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Pachinko


Sunja is the only child of a poor Korean family. They run a boardinghouse in a small coastal village and just barely get by during hard times in the early 1900’s.  After an unexpected pregnancy Sunja marries a kind traveling minister who is on his way to Japan. She follows him and begins a new life with his brothers family, befriending her sister in law and together raising her beautiful boys. In this foreign land these Korean exiles, of which there are many, have minimal rights and no citizenship. Decades later after WWII they are still searching for their identity as North Korea becomes unattainable and the South more and more unfamiliar. Sunja’s children’s children are still struggling with language barriers, cultural differences and intermarriage acceptance in a land they have a hard time calling home. Author Min Jin Lee’s writing is beautiful and a pleasure to read. The history lesson coincides with a lot I learned on a recent trip to Hong Kong. My book club unanimously agreed it led to great discussion. One bit of criticism - it is long and you feel it. I think it could have been at least 100 pages less and would have had equal impact.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Female Persuasion


Greer is pissed off from the moment she arrives at her second rate college instead of Yale. Her inattentive parents neglected their portion of paperwork and her dreams flew out the window. Now her high school sweetheart Cory is hours away at Princeton living the life, as she sulks around campus considering her future. Greer attends a lecture by the famous Faith Frank, an icon in the women’s movement. This speaker is beautiful, smart and doing all she can to make a difference. Greer is mesmerized as she yearns for the day she can shed her insecurity, become a writer and accomplish something meaningful. For more than 100 pages Greer’s feelings of inadequacy, fear and resentment tumble forward. Described in depth are her high school years, subsequent long distance romance with Cory, their small home-town and his bizarre family. Post college years continue in a similar fashion. Chapter after chapter of disappointment and loneliness. I have read and loved author Meg Wolitzer’s work and was so excited to read this latest best seller. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me. My preconceived notion of this novel focusing on women’s issues was not at all as I expected. Great writing but a choppy story that dragged and left me nowhere. Sad face.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

No Time to Blink


Catherine Clarke is the right girl from the right family. Raised in a wealthy town in Connecticut, she is expected to marry the male version of herself. But Catherine defies all the rules when she falls head over heels in love with Gabriel. Gabe is a charming, handsome, Lebanese businessman that Catherine cannot resist. When they quickly marry and Catherine gets pregnant, their love story pushes all boundaries. With little choice in the matter, Catherine is slowly controlled and coerced to move to Gabe’s homeland. He is her husband and she naively dreams of a happy marriage as long as they are lovingly together. Once abroad Gabe dramatically reverts to his more conservative upbringing in a culture where the wife has no say even on the smallest decisions. As Catherine tolerates their dwindling relationship Gabe becomes more threatening and Catherine devises a plan to return to the U.S. The protection of the law is not on her side and even her phone calls are being tracked. Alone and afraid, Catherine does whatever it takes to keep her daughter safe. Told by alternating characters, Catherine’s story and Ann Marie’s future self learn about love, family and secrets the hard way. Well developed characters and fast paced suspense make No Time to Blink by author Dina Silver a must read. Could not put down this glimpse into another land where even the simplest gift in life has a price we cannot afford to pay.

My Oxford Year


Ella from Ohio is living the dream. Her dream, specifically, since she was 13 years old. To go to Oxford. She is a young political dynamo and recently named Rhodes Scholar doing her graduate studies at a college she has only visited in her imagination. Knowing she has a limited amount of time, Ella is determined to soak up every moment of her year in England. Castles, tea and the ghosts of every famous author she has spent a lifetime loving. Lost in Oxford’s immense history she soon becomes equally captivated by a pair of baby blue’s belonging to her professor, Jamie Davenport. He is the type of brilliant, romantic and beautiful man with a throng of women at his feet, the ideal mate for her fairytale fantasy. As we follow Ella on her humorous, thoughtful, journey she learns about the beauty of freedom and value of choice. Most importantly, when her tough exterior begins to crack, Ella learns more than English literature, she discovers the truth about her very own heart. This entertaining, well written love story/adventure abroad enveloped me in a fine mist of dreams and more dreams. Because it is never ever too late to follow them.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

An American Marriage


Celestial and Roy are briefly introduced in college but a few years after graduation an unlikely encounter brings them together and they quickly fall in love. Although from different backgrounds they are both intelligent, passionate people who live and love deeply. Roy encourages Celestial, an artist, to follow her dreams while he climbs the corporate ladder quickly. They leave their Atlanta home for a short visit to Roy’s parents in a very small town in the deep South. They stay at a motel for the night. The police barge into their room and Roy is falsely accused of a crime. He is railroaded and sentenced to 12 years in prison. While the newlyweds marriage slowly disintegrates, dreams and futures are placed on hold. Can career, children, family and love wait 12 long years? Author Tayari Jones brings us a story of marriage, family and racism that is undeniably beautiful and tragic at the same time. The reader can easily imagine each and every character, rooting for them all, knowing in the end there will be a price to pay. Tayari Jones wastes no words and no time. I love this book from first page to last and think it should be required reading. Do not miss this one reader friends!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Every Note Played


Karina escaped her mundane village in Poland with her god given talent as a pianist. At a young age she understood this was her ticket to another life. As an independent beautiful young woman this was not an easy journey. Alone and afraid she made it to the U.S. and a well known music school where she was quickly labeled the best. Romance with fellow pianist Richard quickly led to marriage and a quiet competition to follow their musical destiny. Young and in love Karina follows Richard to a post in Boston, motherhood and the end of her days sitting at the piano. Years later with her daughter away at college and a much anticipated divorce, Karina finds herself very alone. Richard, an extremely famous pianist has been recently diagnosed with ALS. It hits hard and fast. He has a daughter he hasn’t spoken to, girlfriends that have come and gone and an ex-wife that hates him. He, who thought he was triumphant, finds himself alone and unable to manage and very very angry. This novel is about dreams that come crashing down when marriage, career, health and all the choices one makes along the way do not align with the stars or ones future plans. Author Lisa Genova has (once again) taught me a great deal, left me hyperventilating and reminds us to be grateful for every breath, every day. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Nothing Forgotten


Many a young romantic’s dream, to travel the world after college, secure a job, share an adorable flat with a scandalous Brit in Rome and fall madly in love … with a handsome, sexy, engaged, older man. Assured that a woman on the side is often the Italian way, At 22, Anna cannot help herself and falls deeply in love with her boss at the language school. She quickly let’s go of her inhibitions and her heart. When Sergio orchestrates Anna’s weekends so he can spend more time with her, she unapologetically befriends the unsuspecting fiance. After a complicated year, a wedding and a heart shattered in a million pieces, she leaves Rome. Twenty-five years later Sergio contacts her. Anna must decide if she can share her deepest darkest secrets that may change her life forever. I read this story of romance and family, loyalty and deception in one single sitting. I didn’t always love the characters or their choices or the rush-to-the-finish ending but found the thread of time and setting in Rome mesmerizing. When there is a fork in the road your history is being created and future determined. Also, the notion that when we are with loved ones from our past we can once again see through the eyes of that younger self. Enjoyable, well written, delicious Italian love story.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Somebody's Daughter


Gazing off the balcony at the perfectly clear blue sky above crashing waves, the Ross family seems picture perfect. Parents Bobby and Emma are stable, smart and still in madly love. Their beautiful twins Zoe and Lily are typical teens worried about friends and selfies. The Ross’s run and live in a successful, swanky hotel on Miami Beach. Life just couldn’t get any sweeter. At the girls 15th birthday party a nasty text message is sent, video attached. Emma accidentally overhears friends gossiping in the restroom and knows in that instant, their lives will never be the same again. Author Rochelle B. Weinstein takes us on a painful journey through one families struggle to admit the agonizing truth about their daughter and find their way to forgiveness. Narrated from Emma’s perspective Somebody’s Daughter takes on one of life’s most challenging issues of parenting; our children out in the world making mistakes - while the parents learn they can’t always protect them. My heart was immersed in these characters as they dealt with issues that hit way too close to home. This is the digitally raised generation and the simple life lessons we were once taught seem to have been deleted with the push of a button. Cyberbullying and Cyber Sexual Harassment have become epidemic and is never too many degrees from our lives, as our phones are never far from our fingers. Highly recommend this extraordinary, relevant, well written story of love, fear, family and trust. Almost too much to consider with all the “what if’s” spinning through my mind. A perfect book club selection with endless discussion possibilities. A must read.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

You Think It, I'll Say It


You write it, I’ll read it. Short stories are hard (for me) to read and even harder to review. If they are good, I get so caught up with the characters I am deeply disappointed when the story quickly ends. But that is also the lure, because I want more, so I keep going. Ten short stories by fabulous author Curtis Sittenfeld. She captures the essence of what is going on in the world that affects our daily choices, big and small. Love, friendship, gender, funny, sad, thoughtful. I absolutely loved her last two novels, love her exquisite writing that feels so true and relevant. Highly recommend this quick fix while I patiently wait for more.

The Light We Lost


There should be a warning label on this book that readers will not rise from their chair/couch/bed until they have finished the very last page of this mesmerizing, captivating, intimate novel about love. Lucy and Gabe met senior year at Columbia. There is an unexplainable attraction and chemistry that drags them through 13 years of imaginable love, pain and desire. They are friends, they are lovers. They are available. They are not available. They follow their own paths determined to fulfill their youthful expectations of changing/saving the world. Gabe becomes a photojournalist traveling to dangerous war zones. Lucy produces wonderful educational shows for children. She is a wife and adoring mother. Gabe is never far from her thoughts. No-one really understands the magnetism that draws them together over and over through the years, across all distances. Author Jill Santopolo’s writing is magnificent. She is quietly whispering their love story in your ear. The reader strains closer and closer to hear every word. It is hypnotic. All of the choices we make over a lifetime is part of the journey. Each one another step in only one direction, our future.