Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Masterpiece


There is no place like Grand Central Station. Its majestic beauty shines through the crowds to reveal decades past. Millions of people quickly coming and going in the heartbeat of the greatest city on earth. Clara Darden is a young artist, struggling to make her way in 1928 as a teacher at the Grand Central School of Art. She is a beautiful, confident illustrator fighting for her place in a man’s world. Finally attaining success, Clara has made a name for herself juggling her wealthy, handsome boyfriend and fellow artists despite the looming Depression. After tragedy strikes, Clara disappears as if she never existed at all. Almost Fifty Years later, in 1974, Virginia is taunted by her chauvinistic lawyer husband who left her with little money and lots of sadness. Having been a homemaker for most of her adult life, Virginia scrambles to find work through a temp agency. She accepts a job in the information booth at Grand Central. Even though the terminal is now covered with dirt and not so shiny, Virginia is immediately enamored by its history. As she begins to explore her future as a single woman once again, she discovers a painting hidden on the upper levels of the terminal that had been abandoned decades ago. The mysterious unsigned painting greatly resembles one that is currently up for auction. With Virginia’s flourishing confidence and new station friends, she is determined to solve this mystery. Author Fiona Davis has done it again. A thoroughly enjoyable work of historical fiction based in NYC capturing the imagination through time and art. Highly recommend The Masterpiece for a fabulous summer read!

Friday, July 13, 2018

You Me Everything


Jess and her son William head off to spend the summer in the charming French countryside of the Dordogne. Her best friends Becky and Natasha are going to join them in the later weeks and William is beside himself with excitement. Jess, on the other hand, is a quiet mess as this quaint chateau is run by none other than the love of her life, Williams father, Adam. It has been 10 years since Jess was forced to accept that she was in this on her own. At 22 and pregnant, she was single, terrified and alone. But the minute William’s beautiful face turned to look at hers, she was in love and with the gracious help of her adoring parents nearby they have managed just fine. Now, her mother, whose illness has turned tragically serious pleads with Jess to try and propel a relationship between William and his biological father. Love, laughter and heart wrenching truths are uncovered as Jess discovers her purpose in life and just how precious every single day can be. Highly recommend this beautifully written story about family, friends and gratitude. Absolutely the most perfect summer read, FIVE STARS!

Monday, June 25, 2018

That Kind of Mother


To say that Rebecca Stone is a frazzled new mother, is to put it mildly. When she hires Priscilla, a warm, experienced nanny to help her at home her life is turned around. Priscilla teaches Rebecca how to be a mother. She makes everything look so easy. And half the time confidence is the key. Priscilla watches and loves the baby while Rebecca sits in her office daydreaming about the poetry she used to write. When Priscilla dies during her own childbirth, Rebecca offers to raise (and later adopts)w her son. Raising two boys, one white and one black seems to “want” be the focus of this story. In my opinion children easily accept differences and change, its Rebecca’s bad parenting, not lack of love, that causes their tumultuous home to fall apart. I loved the writing, I loved the themes but really disliked all the weak characters. It was just a depressing mess. 

The Wedding Date


As Alexa is on her way up to her sister’s hotel room, the elevator comes to a jolting halt. And that is how Alexa Monroe meets Drew Nichols, gorgeous pediatric surgeon. Sharing snacks and life stories, the elevator finally begins to climb again and so does Alexa’s heart rate as Drew invites her to attend his ex-girlfriend’s wedding at that very hotel the next evening. To his surprise, she accepts. After having an incredible weekend together, (fake date or not!) this surprise becomes the beginning of a roller coaster love affair. He lives in LA, she lives in SF. They both have demanding jobs and Alexa is terrified Drew will break her heart, but neither can deny their intense chemistry. With light humor and lots of romance, The Wedding Date will be sure to grab your heart. A flirty, delicious story that forces you to smile. Perfect, easy, enjoyable summer read. Looking forward to reading more work from debut author Jasmine Guillory.

Lawn Boy


Mike Munoz is a young man who cuts lawns for a living. Well, thats what his job description says but he considers himself a topiary artist, carving shrubs into works of art. He lives in a run down house with his mom and disabled brother who eats un unbelievable amount of junk food. Just a couple of years out if highschool, Mike is not a bad guy. Mike is an average guy. He dreams of just paying the rent, getting a new car and helping out his hard working mom. When Mike loses his job he accepts one bad situation after another because he has no other choice. Guys not so reputable take advantage of his hard work and kind heart. It seems that every time Mike takes a few positive steps forward he gets sent back to start. I kind of like him, he definitely means well and there are a bunch of life lessons as we all search for some hidden meaning, some rating card that says what it means to be successful. Twisty end, somewhat entertaining but I’m on the fence with my recommendation. Author Jonathon Evison has an awesome way with words but for me the story dragged and I lost interest. It was more like a short story stretched into a book. 

The Ever After


Josie Moore, a typical stay at home mom, living in the Chicago suburbs thinks her life is idyllic. She knows marriage to Frank is not always perfect but its hers and they are blessed with two gorgeous little girls. One Saturday when she is frazzled and Frank runs into Starbucks to get them coffee, Josie notices a message on his phone and her life is turned upside down. Clueless and naive, Josie’s world is shattered as she realizes there is a part of Frank’s life that she knows nothing about. All the plans she ever had for her marriage and their family are destroyed and Josie cannot see the future clearly anymore. Any insecure self doubt she had harbored as a young girl and every argument they have ever had takes center stage. Author Sarah Pekkanen has once again written a thoughtful, easy to read novel about the unpredictable twists and turns life may throw our way. This one felt only too real and maybe I have the - it’s not you, it’s me syndrome - and perhaps a book club would have field day tearing this one apart, but I found it sadly depressing. I know this happens, probably every day, I just don’t feel like being entertained by it. Absolutely a well written book with excellent characters, it just has to be something you are in the mood for. #notmysummerread

Sweet Filthy Boy


When Mia and her best friends Harlow and Lola go to Vegas after their college graduation their lives are turned upside down. What happens in Vegas doesn’t exactly stay in Vegas as Mia wakes up with a wedding ring on her finger. Her sexy, gorgeous, sweet, husband is lying next to her and inviting her to spend the summer in France. Normally Mia is the girl that never does anything out of the ordinary and follows her demanding father’s path to success, but finding Ansel irresistible she decides just this once to give destiny a chance. Mia scrambles off to have the summer of her dreams and finds more than she ever imagined possible. After recently enjoying Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren, I decided to reach back to one of their popular series I had never tried. Well, here is the 50 Shades-ish book I had been looking for. What a treat for a hot summer day, and lucky for me - its a trilogy. This just keeps getting better, ha! If you’d like to spend the day in Paris, this adorable, delicious, easy to read fantasy will be happy to take you there for free, maybe just hide the cover from the kids :-)

The Book of Essie


Essie Hicks is part of a religious reality tv sensation that literally is her life. Her father is the famous evangelist whose sermons are watched by millions. Her controlling mother secretly runs the show while Essie and her five siblings have been viewed daily their entire lives. Every word they say and move they make is scripted, edited and cut to form the image that is Six for Hicks. When Essie, barely 17 years old finds out she is pregnant, Celia, her mother falls into full action mode. It is decided that Essie will be married to a local boy who is an outstanding student hiding secrets of his own. What started out as a disaster may be Essie’s escape to independence and revenge and Roarke Richards is the perfect husband to help her. Pulling the puppet strings gets easier as Essie has TV journalist Liberty Bell in her pocket. Liberty, who has her own demons on her trail desperately wants to help Essie find the freedom her family has destroyed. This twisted absolutely original story had me on the edge of my seat. It is an unputdownable page turner about family, trust and the insane obsession of reality television, that is anything but real. Highly recommend this well written, perfect summer read. It is a FIVE STAR MUST!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Lost Family


Peter Rashkin escaped the horrors of WWII but not the devastating memories of losing his beautiful young wife and twin baby girls. After moving to NYC and being taken in by cousins Sol and Ruth, Peter became a successful chef and works night and day avoiding any meaningful relationships. One day Peter unexpectedly meets June Bouquet. She is twenty years his junior, a cover model and devastatingly beautiful. Their future is a rollercoaster of emotions and they eventually marry and have a daughter Elspeth. Always polite, handsome Peter is continually withdrawn and June becomes lonely and restless, looking for life outside their marriage and their home. This latest novel by author Jenna Blum is well written and an interesting peek into a marriage that is being destroyed by the past, a ghost of a family and a tragedy that cannot compete with everyday life. I like this storyline and the characters were well defined but midway it started to drag and by the time it took a most bizarre twist (near the end) my interest had already begun to wane. Solid good but didn’t love.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Happiness for Beginners


Helen Carpenter is about to embark on a journey that she is hoping will change her life. She is 32, divorced and all around pretty miserable. Helen is not just single, she is alone. After an unexpected debacle with her younger brother Duncan, Helen learns that his best friend Jake is also signed up for the survival course she is attending. Her adventure of a lifetime now tainted with Jake needing a ride to Wyoming, not off to a great start. On the long car ride Helen meets a different Jake. While her dreams of a happy marriage were shattering, Jake grew up - a lot. When they meet up with the group, Helen realizes this frat party atmosphere with college students 10 years younger is definitely not what she expected. Despite her reservations, she submits all her strength, mind and body - to the extreme 3 week challenge and tries to leave her petty anger on the bus. In order to make real change, Helen knows no-one can do this for her. For the first time, she becomes her own leader. Through the painful ups and downs of this arduous journey she finds her strength and the truth. After being mesmerized by How to Walk Away by Katherine Center, I immediately began to search out her other novels. After starting, I recognized how hauntingly familiar this trip sounded. My son accomplished a NOLS challenge a few years ago and I was mesmerized by his stories. Add in the delicious romance thrown in by this author, it turns out she did one years ago as well! Maybe I should start living my life instead of just reading about it? Highly recommend this absolutely perfect summer read. #onesitting  #unputdownable

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Garden of Small Beginnings


Four years after her husbands death Lili is still putting the pieces of her life back together. After recovering from her breakdown, she manages to keep a steady rhythm while caring for her two beautiful young daughters, venting to her best friend kind of nutty sister Rachel and enjoying her comfortable job as an illustrator. When Lili is asked to design a gardening manual she signs them all up for a course at the botanical gardens to learn the very basics. The class is a group of misfits all there for different reasons. As they bond and get their hands rather dirty Lili’s world is turned upside down by a budding romance  she no longer thought was possible. Wracked with guilt Lili must choose whether she will grow towards the light like the garden or wither in the past. A story with a rather sad premise actually plants some very lovely seeds of life that remind you to always stop what you are doing and smell the roses. Life is meant to be lived and loved every single day. Highly recommend this enjoyable read perfect for summer with some gardening tips thrown in for good measure!

The She Was Gone


Ellie disappeared 10 years ago. Her mother Laurel has not given up hope as she never had any real closure. One day Ellie was a beautiful 15 year old girl who left the house for the library and was never seen again. Laurel’s other two children could not wait to escape the pain in their home and her marriage quickly crumbled with the nightmare of losing a child. Years later she unexpectedly begins a relationship with Floyd and he seems just too good to be true. Floyd is charming and smart and their instant chemistry blossoms in and out of the bedroom. His daughter Poppy is a precocious 9 year old who bares a striking resemblance to Ellie. Laurel is both mesmerized and haunted by their similarities and as the story unfolds the truth of Ellie and buried secrets of the past come full circle. This easy to read twisted psycho thriller is a perfect creepy story for a rainy day. Always a fan of Lisa Jewel, I highly recommend her latest book to add to your summer list!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Love and Other Words


Macy bumps into Elliot after more than a decade of silence - she is stunned by a rush of emotions and love she thought was abandoned long ago. After losing her mom at a young age, Macy and her dad clung to each other salvaging the small family they cherished. A weekend home in the wine country was their humble retreat; reading books, hiking, sitting by the fire. For Macy, the added delight was the Petropoulos family next door. A big bustling group complete with four gorgeous boys and a terrific mom and dad. Elliot, the youngest, quickly becoming Macy’s very best friend. For years the pair were inseparable but as nature took its course the friendship blossomed to first love and first everything’s. 12 years later Macy is a pediatric resident in the city, her father is gone and her lonely existence is filled with work and tepid relationships. When Elliot unexpectedly appears in a coffee shop Macy’s life is turned upside down. Their connection is immediate and irresistible, her heart racing to take control. Told in alternating chapters of their childhood and the present day, Elliot learns the truth and Macy must decide if love can truly conquer all. Absolutely devoured this sweet, fast paced delightful novel. The beauty and power of young love and choices we make every day after. Fabulous read to get lost in on a summer day at the beach!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Love and Ruin


As a determined, smart, and independent young woman, Martha Gellhorn ventured out on her own to follow her dreams and become a writer. Starting with the Spanish Civil War in 1937, she is drawn to the stories of average people and devastatingly young soldiers. She is starstruck upon meeting and befriending none other than Ernest Hemingway and knows at that moment her life will never be the same. After years of travel, writing and the rollercoaster of emotions that goes along with being the third wife of Hemingway Martha feels she is slowly melting away into the background that is his life. When she can no longer define her work or their marriage she turns to her love of journalism and goes to Europe at the worst possible moment to become the only woman at Normandy on D-Day and one of the first to report from Dachau after the camp was liberated. The unprecedented work of Martha Gellhorn, combined with her great passion for the great writer is told beautifully by author Paula McLain. Just as I felt with her telling of Hemingway’s first wife (The Paris Wife) this controversial genius had met his match with Martha and I devoured every single page of their stormy romance. Highly recommend this fantastic work of historical fiction - a must read this summer!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Limelight


The Brinkley family has moved from Dallas to the Big Apple! Michael quickly begins at the law firm while Allison dodges boxes in their small apartment and gets three kids ready for school. She doesn’t know who is more nervous, her or them. After years of imagining the lights of Broadway, New York and its overwhelming chaos of noise and people has Allison running on an adrenaline frenzy trying to fit in. When she unexpectedly starts working as a personal assistant for a talented but spoiled pop star (think Justin Bieber) as he prepares for his first musical, her life zooms out of control in directions she had never dreamed. Filled with great humor, this story portrays a frenetic world starring this hilarious and lovable family. Allison’s grit and determination to succeed and actually like their life in New York (even if it kills her) is a wonderful story with a trove of buried treasures. Just as I felt reading her first novel Small Admissions (which I LOVED) I am betting the bizarre escapades are more realistic than most people can even believe! I laughed and loved this latest novel by author Amy Poeppel. From start to finish, each catastrophe just barely averted only to quickly lead to another. Definitely recommend this enjoyable, fast paced summer read about life in the big city. Grab your beach chair and enjoy!

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.