Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Confusion of Languages


Cassie Hugo is an American soldier’s wife. She has survived in Jordan, where Dan is stationed by learning the rules and customs and following them as carefully as possible. Lonely and struggling to get pregnant, Cassie’s marriage is beginning to falter. The couple silently blame each other for everything that is missing from their lives and elusive family. When Margaret Brickshaw arrives she appears to be all that Cassie dreams of. Thin and beautiful, married to a handsome, strapping soldier and carrying a beautiful baby boy named Mather. Cassie is given the job of hosting or introducing Margaret into life in Amman. What initially feels like babysitting morphs into Cassie’s desperate desire to have friendship, companionship and most importantly purpose. But the grass is not always greener. Life in Amman is difficult and the image of Margaret’s happy home is not remotely close to what Cassie has conjured up in her mind. It is not until she mistakenly finds Margaret’s journal that Cassie slowly learns about marriage, loneliness, friendship and the scary truth about herself. Highly recommend this extremely unique, well written glimpse into expat lives living abroad in a war torn region of the world and the solitary walls of loneliness we build to protect ourselves which simultaneously keep everyone away. Written with such in depth clarity that I felt like I was the one surreptitiously reading the journal! Great summer read from a fabulous new author. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Heirs


When Rupert Falkes dies after being ill for quite some time, his widow Eleanor handles it perfectly. Living the well to do life she was raised for, Eleanor has maintained her friends, social life and close relationships with her five very different sons. When a mysterious woman places claims on the estate for the supposed two sons Rupert secretly fathered, their prestigious Manhattan world is turned upside down. The brothers all handle their father’s death, their inheritance and this new accusation very differently -according to their varied lifestyles and personalities. Their closeness with each other, protection of their beloved mother and their father’s memory clash as the boys’ strive to move on with their lives and keep damages to a minimum. This witty, humorous portrayal of self preservation could not have had better characters. All the money and success in the world cannot stop the bizarre family dynamics found between siblings the world over. Its simply amazing how we create our own unique memories even when they were shared. Absolutely loved and highly recommend this well written, smart, new novel that is the perfect easy beach read to take you away. Look forward to reading more from this wonderful author Susan Rieger.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Everybody's Son


In 1991 Anton, a ten year old boy, is left alone in a stifling hot apartment and his drug addicted mother does not return. On the seventh day, hot, hungry and scared Anton breaks a window to escape and search for his mother to bring her home to safety. He is temporarily placed in foster care with the Colemans. His mother Juanita is given the maximum of 3 years, which turns into a sentence of a lifetime. The Colemans can offer Anton a life he had never imagined; beautiful home in an exclusive neighborhood, top rated schools with college in his future and all the attention a ten year old boy needs in a eerily quiet home that thought it would never hear laughter again. The Colemans have their own past, their own secrets and although they begin this journey with the best intentions, Antons future is wrapped up in their past. It is many years later when his success exceeds even his wildest dreams that Anton learns the meaning of these simple words: truth, love, mother and father. Author Thrity Umrigar has beautifully painted a picture of an incredible journey that will tear out every one of your heartstrings. This novel is full of characters you will be thinking about long after the last page is turned. Highly recommend this unputdownable summer read. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Lost Letter


Katie Nelson was always very close with her kind, loving stamp collecting father. Now she sadly awaits the day that he will not recognize his only child as his memory fades away in a nearby nursing home. When Katie discovers his cherished collection, she brings it to Benjamin, a local stamp expert. Together, Katie and Benjamin are determined to learn the history behind a mysterious stamp on an unopened letter from WWII era, found amongst the many stamps her father collected. Each step of their journey brings them closer to the history of this famous stamp engraver, his apprentice Kristoff and his disappearance during Kristallnacht. The story is narrated between two voices from two very different times - Katie in 1989 and Kristoff in 1938. This magnificent story comes alive with love, friendship and decisions that will change their lives forever. Author Jillian Cantor grabs the reader in the first chapter and does not let go. Filled with small love stories, the terror of WWII, a lesson on philately and even a mystery to solve. This is the perfect summer read to take you away on a journey you will not soon forget. Highly recommend this fabulous new read! 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hello Sunshine


In the virtual world of blogs, YouTube and web sites, Sunshine MacKenzie is all that. The current “IT” girl in the foodie industry; Sunny has the looks, the personality and the followers to be on top. She cooks and chats with her viewers from her industrious, cool, NYC kitchen, just got a huge book deal and signed on with the food network. But the online world we create is not always foolproof and suddenly “aintnosunshine” is raining on her very well performed parade. Her adorable husband Danny and so-called friends do not stick around to see the sun rise again and she finds herself back in her hometown of Montauck, NY struggling to put the pieces of her life back together. When the clouds start to thin, Sunny’s real past helps her see the future a lot more clearer. Another adorable read by author Laura Dave (LOVED Eight Hundred Grapes) This very contemporary tale of what happens when the internet lives we create collide with reality -not so far fetched. Light as a feather, fun, fast paced. Highly recommend this ideal summer beach read.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Daring to Drive


In 2011 Manal al-Sharif was imprisoned for driving in Saudia Arabia. She slept on a filthy mattress in a cockroach infested jail crowded with too many women. If her travel, intelligence and determination had already set her on a path to be somewhat of a women’s activist, this was the straw that broke the camels back. Meeting these imprisoned women only strengthened Manal’s resolve that things in Saudi Arabia needed to change. This beautifully written memoir describes her childhood, faith in her religion and her family. Rules and customs were not to be analyzed and debated, they were meant to be accepted. But a simple act of driving could change women’s lives. Manal felt this one non violent act could express years of struggle and hypocrisy. Women can go to school but they cannot get there? Women cannot get to or from a hospital, even in a emergency without a male to drive them? An Uber driver, virtual stranger, is better/safer than a female friend, relative or themselves? Manal, a highly educated and trained computer scientist took one brave step at a time; to get to college, be the best and secure a top job in her field only to realize she will never be free in the country she loves with all her heart. In this passionate memoir she details her journey to adulthood with a calm and beautiful voice. I was mesmerized right from the beginning, first with compassion and then with frustration and anger. As I began to imagine the struggle of these women, I thought what can I do? Well, living in the capitalist world I live in, I can affect from the pocket. I will no longer buy Starbucks or take Uber. These American companies should not condone/support/profit from separate but equal anywhere in the world. Equal is equal. As Manal says in her memoir, the rain starts with one drop. I highly recommend reading Daring to Drive. As we navigate our own daily challenges, conscious of our good fortune, we must continue to move forward in all the world to be good humans. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

City of Friends


Stacey Grant loses her job, a position of power and prestige. She has devoted her entire adult life to attaining this success. She is lost without it and leans on her three dearest friends for support. They have been best friends since university days. Each in a successful career position that they fought for along with their independence in a male dominated economy. I normally adore settings in London, stories of friends and whirlwinds of romance but not this time. These women were annoying and whined incessantly. They were neither good mothers, spouses or even good friends but considered themselves experts at all. They were not quirky or funny, just selfish and dumb. Their underlying collective insecurity was staggering and unrealistic to me. I wanted to like this one but sorry to say, not one character, not one bit.  👎

The Rules Do Not Apply


Ariel Levy, 38 year old NYC writer, tells her story in this well written memoir about love, loss, hope and the search/desperation for happiness. I have mixed feelings about this memoir. PROS: She is a fantastic writer. I can see, feel and hear the words on the page. She has one of those childhoods that merits being written about and she has the tools to do so. She is lost, she is found, she is lost again. Like many women who find their way but believe they have followed the wrong directions. I enjoyed the read. CONS: I feel like I’ve read this before. The drugs, alcohol and bizarre behavior is exhausting. She makes bad choices. She is hurt and so she hurts other people, albeit unintentionally. She is a passionate writer. I am just not sure I need to peek into every single persons life. 👎

I Found You


In a beachside British village Alice Lake finds a man sitting by himself in the pouring rain. Alice knows her three kids and best friend will disapprove of her nosing around but dangerous or not, she cannot abandon this lonely man in the storm. His unkempt appearance, lack of identification and apparent amnesia do not match the kind look in his eyes, in his sweet face. She happens to have a spare room and decides to bring him in and help him find his true identity. In London, a young wife, new to the country finds herself alone. Her beautiful husband has not returned home from work. She is scared, lost and the police are not buying her story. And decades ago there was a tragedy involving an argument, a mysterious mansion and a suspicious drowning on this very same rocky beach. A teenage brother and sister on vacation found themselves wrapped up in a drama they were not equipped to navigate. These three stories collide on this blustery day with Alice in the center, stay at home mom/artist - finding herself as the lead detective. Always love author Lisa Jewell, storyteller extraordinaire. Highly recommend this suspenseful novel with a little romance, and just enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning. Perfect #SummerRead #addtothelist .👍

White Fur


Modern day Romeo and Juliet. Jamey Hyde, heir extraordinaire meets his neighbor Elise Perez, a runaway from the wrong side of any town. Jamey is immediately entranced by the braids reaching down her back and skin like porcelain. His mind wanders past and through the heavy eyeliner, bad language and worse manners. At first, all they do is have is have hot pulsating sex. Sex like Jamey has never experienced before. And Elise knows that. She is falling in love with Jamey’s beautiful face, his dimple, his lack of experience and bountiful desire. She is like a drug that Jamey becomes addicted to and as they grow together, Jamey strays further from his elitist isolated world of wealth, privilege and shallow peers filled with contempt. No one can imagine he would throw his entire life away for this - this nothing. For that is how they see her and pretty much anyone who does not fall high on their ladder of riches. His family is in disbelief. But no one takes the time to consider Jamey who has never known unconditional love, who was abandoned by his own famous mother, who is rarely told the truth because everyone wants a piece of his name. He does not wallow, he is not poor little rich boy. Jamey is just surviving, trying to figure out the truth to his life, his future. Absolutely loved this beautiful story by author Jardine Libaire. Her writing, her words flow so easily and fill these pages with poetry. Highly recommend this sensual, hypnotic tale of love. Perfect #SummerRead .  👍

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Trophy Son


Anton Stratis grew up in the beautiful suburbs of Philadelphia. But his childhood was anything but beautiful. A gifted tennis player, his light began to shine at six years old. When his brother Panos did not fill the shoes their controlling father desired, the attention turned to Anton and the spotlight never left him, not for one moment. Anton stopped attending school after 8th grade and trained night and day, as his father calculated his rise in the tennis world. It is not until much later in his life that he struggles to take back control and live according to his own rules and desires. Anton’s narration of this incredible story takes the reader from tennis courts around the world to the depths of his very soul. He has mastered the psychology and strength it takes to be a professional athlete but does not know what it means to have a true friend, or the meaning of unconditional love. He yearns for normalcy and feels the world is passing him by. Everyone else looks so darn happy. People think it would be so grand to be a celebrity but happiness is priceless and finding it is life’s true gift. Remember parents, whether its an athletic event or the SAT’s, when things with your kids get out of hand you have to say to yourself - “Will this really matter 5 years from now?” Hope this starts some conversations, I know it will be perfect for book club! Highly recommend this unputdownable read.  #SummerReads #beachreads #FathersDayGift

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Into the Water


The dark, murky pools at the bottom of the small village called Beckford is perfect to set the scene for this suspenseful twist of a family’s colliding past and present. Women have been drowning in these pools for hundreds of years. A history of witch hunts and misguided beliefs ended the lives of many innocents. It is said their spirits remain and one woman in town even speaks to them. Flash forward, Katie, a beautiful high school student mysteriously drowns. Suicide is a possibility. Soon after, Nel Abbott meets her death. Suicide is highly unlikely as chronicling these waters and deaths have been her life’s work as a photographer and artist. Jules, Nels estranged sister comes to deal with the aftermath and take care of her niece, 15 year old Lena, who is now an orphan. There is the town policeman, who seems like a good fellow and his father who does not. There is a teacher who seems like he is saddened by these recent deaths and a school head (wife of the policeman) who does not. This new thriller by incredible author Paula Hawkins will no doubt have you guessing until the very end. There are A LOT of characters. Sometimes that is hard to follow. These are short, concise chapters that make it easy to keep up. I loved the reference to witch history and family saga in this small town that has dragged on for years. No, this is not Girl on the Train - just like you will not soon read again Gone Girl - so stop comparing them right now and enjoy Into the Water.  It is good. It is juicy. Its a little confusing so pay attention! BUT if you are looking for a twisty summer creepy read you will love it. I did! Highly recommend this #stockupforsummer #beachread #suspense

Startup


Mack McAllister may just be the next Facebook guy. Always searching for that one in a million, the tech scene in New York is flooded with app ideas, VC’s (with loads of cash) and young millennials who possess an unparalleled amount of confidence and self worth. Mack, a driven, industrious 28 year old finds himself and the company he created on the brink of becoming the guy on the magazine cover. Gramercy is preparing to finance his Series A round funding which would skyrocket his app Takeoff to the stratosphere. On paper Mack would be rich. On the streets of NY startup world, he would be king. But the rumblings in his office life, hence love life begin to implode. Isabel, his beautiful, longtime (3years!) assistant has begun to reject his flirtatious sexts and has been snapchatting her newfound romance with Andrew. Sabrina, the ancient woman in the office (36! married with kids!) keeps her head down while tweeting the company’s branding and tries to keep it together as she desperately needs the cash to hide her shopaholic debt from her editor husband, who just happens to be following a story about Mack’s implosion. This fictionalized cast of quirky characters turns the spotlight on the startup tech world and lingo that this generation has mastered. Quick, fun, laugh out loud - fabulous author Doree Schfrir had me on her first page dedication: For my grandparents, who never went online. Highly recommend this #stockupforsummer #beachread Couldn’t be more fun.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Leavers


Deming Guo grows up in a small town in upstate New York. He is the only Asian kid in school and staring at his adoptive parent’s, knows from a young age that he just doesn’t belong. Losing himself in music is the only way Daniel (his newly adopted name) feels happy. But Peter and Kay Wilkinson, Daniels parents who live a life of academics, can only see as far as the classroom. He is fed, clothed and has a nice home. But it is not enough. As Daniel becomes a surly teen, he dreams of a life where he can finally be himself, play his guitar and stop pretending he belongs. Following glimpses of memories from his younger self, Daniel begins the search for his birth mother and the life he believes he was meant to lead. Scared and alone and making quite a few mistakes, Daniel fights his way to the truth, for better or worse. This is a beautifully written story about motherhood, friendship and following your heart. Like the butterfly effect - one decision, a single choice can change the lives of everyone it touches. Filled with beautiful characters, I enjoyed this read  - BUT I must admit it is a slow go. Lisa Ko is definitely an author to watch but you have to be in the mood for a quiet story where not much happens.