Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Woman at the Light


Emily and Martin Lowry, along with their three young children live on Wrecker’s Cay, a small island off the coast of Key West. Martin is the lighthouse keeper, sometimes known as a “wickie,” because of his job trimming the wicks.They live a quiet, solitary life and their lighthouse is of vital importance as many ships crash on these shallow reefs. Lives are lost and treasures often found. Martin mysteriously disappears one afternoon and Emily continues to care for the lighthouse and her family, optimistically waiting for his return. Emily is apprehensive but strangely relieved when the children find a runaway slave on the shore one afternoon. Andrew is charming, strong and resilient. This is the beginning of many secrets Emily must keep for the sake of the lighthouse, her children and her newfound, highly forbidden love. Wonderfully written, Key West author Joanna Brady takes us on a historical journey beginning in 1829, when Key West was a collection of fishing shacks, Ellen Mallory ran a boardinghouse and it became known as the wrecking capital of the world.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Just Call Me Miri


Miri Engle is a young girl from Miami desperately searching for her identity, purpose and most importantly, her one true love. On a high school study abroad program in Israel, Miri immediately connects with the wondrous land of her familial ancestors. And so begins decades of Miri’s journeying around the world, trying to find the right place to call home. Meeting one colorful character after another, Miri learns lessons of friendship, family and the heart that never seem to come very easily. Often experiencing frustration, rejection and painful loss she is determined to move on and not be a victim of circumstance. Just when most people would think it may be time to surrender, Miri makes one more attempt at finding her happiness and charges off again at full steam. Funny, smart, independent and relentless, this firecracker girl never gives up on the people she loves or her dreams of the future. Beautifully written, Just Call Me Miri is an incredible debut novel by author Mandi Eizenbaum. Whether you find yourself laughing out loud or crying from heartbreak, we can’t help but see a little bit of Miri in ourselves and recognize that feeling, that surely there is “more” just waiting to be discovered. Why should anybody settle and not make that bold leap to keep searching? Highly recommend this fabulous new read and look forward to more from this exciting new author. #adventure #travel #friends #love #family #history

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Unhoneymooners


Olive and Amy are identical twins but complete opposites. They may look alike but Olive is unfailingly the most unlucky person on the planet and Amy is the contest winning champion. With her Type A personality at the helm and entire wedding party set (including hideous green dresses!) Amy is beyond excited for her big day. The one downside for Olive is she has to spend time with Ethan, the very adorable but despised brother-in-law to be. When the “prized” seafood buffet sends hundreds to the Emergency Room, Olive and Ethan are the last two standing. They are coerced to go on the all expenses paid, non-refundable, non-transferable trip to Hawaii. And pretend they are the happy newlyweds. So begins, the HILARIOUS, adorable, heart warming story of Ethan and Olive’s adventure. This is a one sitting, can’t get the silly smile off your face type of read. Throw in some typical Christina Lauren - be true to yourself, give people a chance vibe and we have another winner. Available in May. This is going to be a huge summer beach read! Thanks for the early peek @NetGalley

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Red White & Royal Blue


President Claremont is the first woman in the White House and about to run for reelection. Her brilliant, charming son Alex, has fallen in love for the first time. Living in the White House is not always easy, and Alex cannot wait to work on his mother’s campaign when he graduates from Georgetown in a few months. Together with his feisty sister and the Veep’s coding granddaughter they make up the White House Trio. As glamorous and adventurous as this seems (and it is!!) when the tabloids get hold of Alex’s private emails and texts it becomes a public scandal. The world learns that Alex’s secret relationship is with none other than Prince Henry of Wales, spare to the throne. While both American and British PR guru’s are in damage control Alex and Henry must figure out how they can live truthfully and not hurt their families. As their lives are turned upside down; witty, wonderful new author Casey McQuiston takes us on a rollercoaster of laughter, acceptance and hope. I have to admit this is the very first romantic story I have read of this nature and absolutely loved every minute of it. Incredible how this young debut author was able to imagine this alternative love story mixed with mainstream politics and harsh reality. Totally enjoyable, rom-com. A MUST read!!

Southernmost


After a tragic flood hits this small Tennessee town, preacher Asher Sharp’s life is literally washed away. Everything he knows is about to change. He finally finds the courage to face guilty memories of his brother’s departure and his mothers abuse that eat away at his heart. Asher realizes his wife’s judgement runs deep and is sadly never going to change. He wants to teach his son to think for himself, not be forced upon the evangelical masses. When he preaches his last sermon the church he has always known turns him away. Asher and Justin sneak off to find Asher’s brother Luke. They wind their way to Key West where they form the most unlikely friendships and learn the truth about love, family and faith. This colorful, heartfelt story will take hold of your imagination and won’t let go. Wonderful characters, excellent writing, lots of life lessons all rolled into one touching novel. Great book club selection, highly recommend.

Swamplandia!

The Bigtree family run an alligator theme park in the Florida Everglades. Swamplandia! is on one of the Ten Thousand Islands at the far end of Loomis County (think Miami!) Since his wife, the alligator wrestling champion passed away, Chief Bigtree is struggling to keep the theme park afloat. Raising his three children amongst mosquitos the size of small cars and the snapping gators, the kids are loosely homeschooled and gather their soggy reading materials from the library boat that was abandoned years ago. Spunky Ava believes the show must go on and continues her gator training. Ossie has become a spiritist and is currently dating a ghost and Kiwi, an autodidact, desperately wants to attend high school on the mainland. When another park called The World of Darkness threatens to completely destroy their livelihood, these three resourceful kids jump into action. The Bigtree’s somewhat remind me of the Brown’s on Alaskan Bush People (Discovery Channel) a rather twisted, sometimes dark, funny and very imaginative family. Interesting read, wonderful author.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Other Half of My Soul


Rayna, a beautiful, smart, youngest daughter of a religious Jewish family in New York begs her parents to allow her to go away to college. She is rarely denied and has always been her father’s favorite. They finally permit her to study journalism at the University of Maryland as long as she continues to follow their strict religious codes of eating and socializing as they do in their small Syrian community in New York. When handsome Rami sits beside her in class she immediately feels her world turn upside down. He is instantly enamored with her as well. As the two young people get acquainted she learns that Rami is also Syrian. His family lives in a small village, they are Muslim and part of the Shi-ite minority. The more Rayna and Rami learn about each other’s customs and beliefs they are surprised by the similarities but well aware that neither of their families, nor the terrorist group sponsoring Rami’s scholarship would approve of their friendship and vehemently forbid a romance of any kind. But they are young, idealistic and in love. Rami and Rayna naively believe they can find a way to be together without anyone getting hurt. This novel is a unique story filled with passion and determination. It brings up a lot of difficult issues regarding family, religion, politics and deep rooted history. The writing is average (needed serious editing) but I must say it was an extremely interesting read and will be a heated discussion at book club this month.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Last Romantics


The fours Skinner siblings survive the Pause. This is a 2 year period where their mom, after the unexpected demise of their father, enters a state of suspended life. She rarely leaves her darkened bedroom and the children manage on their own. Renee, the eldest takes care of everyone; clothes washed, mouths fed and games played - while they wait for the Pause to end. Renee, Caroline, Joe and the youngest Fiona form an unbreakable bond during this time that will guide them and affect all the choices they make for the rest of their lives. Later, Fiona becomes a renowned poet and her most famous love poems are the essence of her and her family. From the perspective of Fiona - at well over 100 years old - this story flashes back back back through the Skinner timeline; the relationships, the triumphs and the losses. The siblings search for true love, and learn that their lives have been deeply affected by everything that happened during the Pause. After reading and loving the historical fiction novel by Tara Conklin years ago, I jumped at the chance to read her latest work. The writing is once again astounding but I have to admit the story of a dysfunctional family and how siblings survive is not very original. Sometimes it is just timing but I had to force myself to the finish line.

Monday, February 11, 2019

More Than Words


Nina has grown up as the wealthy daughter of New York hotelier and legend, Joseph Gregory. After losing her mother at a tragically young age, Nina has been her father’s princess, an only child that is the future of his empire. Recently, her world has been turned upside down. Her father is ill, her lifelong best friend Tim has proposed. Nina has been raised in a world filled with headlines about her family. She was groomed for a life of public persona. Tim understands all of this. They would be a power team. There is no-one who knows her better. Nina is working on a mayoral campaign and when the candidate, her boss Rafael is in the same room, she cannot breathe. As Joseph Gregory’s health declines Nina learns more about her parents mythic relationship, the family finances and the truth about her own warped memories. All the while, when Rafael is near the world stops spinning and instead of following the crumbs laid before her, Nina must finally choose. I nervously picked up this latest love story by incredible author Jill Santopolo. After her bestseller - The Light We Lost - well, who could blame me? I am happy to report I fell down the Santopolo rabbit hole once again. Do not miss this beautiful, touching (much too quick read!) about making hard choices with the ones you love and changing your destiny.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Unmarriageable


After Bark Binat has a falling out with his brother, this wealthy Pakistani family loses everything. Gone is their wealth and status and fancy estate. He moves with his wife and their five daughters to the small town of Dilipabad. Jena and Alys, the eldest sisters, teach English Literature at the British School nearby and their mom spends every waking moment trying to find them husbands. When they are invited to the biggest wedding of the year, she has convinced the girls this may be their last chance to grab a marriage. Jenna is quickly enamored by the handsome Bungles, while Alys and Darcee begin their love/hate relationship. This Pakistani retelling of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is absolutely hysterical and completely entertaining. Author Soniah Kamal’s elaboration of a very real part of Pakistani culture - where marriage and status are of the highest priority - combined with the well loved classic, is a great combination, merging past and present and laughing all the way to the altar.

Friday, February 8, 2019

If, Then


We meet four neighbors in the sleepy town of Clearing, Oregon. They live at the base of a dormant volcano and a typical day includes the ground rumbling a bit.  Ginny, a surgeon and Mark, a scientist are busy working and raising their son. Mark is tracking a species of frog in the forest. Disappointed he did not receive a grant to further his study, he believes the frogs will foretell a natural disaster long before a man made detector will. Samara, a realtor, comes home to help her father and mourn the recent loss of her mother. Her boyfriend patiently waits while she searches for clues and signs she believes were her mother’s wishes. Cass, a graduate student of philosophy has taken a break from work to give birth to her daughter and is finding it hard to separate her mind from motherhood long enough to continue writing. Her mentor Robby, another neighbor, is very sick in the hospital and while Ginny cares for him, Samara has put his house on the market. It is clear  that the destinies of these connected souls are about to change when the visions begin. Every time the earth rumbles these characters witness a parallel universe of themselves. Terrifying at first, the neighbors do not share their visions for fear of being thought insane but they all become desperate to know what these brief moments really mean. This very original novel had me on the edge of my seat. The reader cannot stop turning the pages as this rumbling, like the story itself quietly gains momentum. Highly recommend this well written, hypnotizing debut novel. It really makes the readers imagination run wild.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Come to the Edge


Christina Haag grew up on the Upper East Side of New York with all the other privileged prep school kids. Acting saved her from the normal doldrums of teens just seeking out the next big party. A closeness grew between John F. Kennedy Jr. and Christina that started out just being part of the same friend group - summers at the same parties and invites to the poshest events. Ten years later after both attending Brown and sharing a deep passion for the theater, they finally began their real life love affair. Even though it was difficult for someone in the public eye, as John most certainly was, to be considered a “boyfriend” the two shared a deep, very close and passionate friendship. Christina knew his family, his friends and most importantly, what often happens with childhood friends, she seemed to know a part of the real John that very few understood. It is only later after their relationship had long been over that he married and was much too soon killed in a tragic plane crash that to this day seems unreal. This book was written 8 years ago and I picked it up on a whim. Having always been saddened by the Kennedy’s fate and closely followed this handsome son - I was intrigued to view the story from the point of view of a someone so dear to him. Both simply and beautifully written, Christina shares her heartbreaking story of love and friendship and destiny.

Ask Again, Yes


Two families live next door to each other in a quiet town just outside New York City. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are both police officers and want the American dream. A few kids, a yard and dinner on the table when they get home from a long shift. Francis’s wife Lena quickly has three girls and it takes every ounce of her energy to get through the day. Anne, Brian’s wife watches her closely and pushes away any attempt at friendship. After an awful lot of bad luck Anne finally has a little boy Peter and he and Kate, the youngest daughter next door, become the very best of friends. Becoming a parent does not warm Anne to Lena. The close friendship their children share she deems as suspicious and threatening. Obviously unstable and equally unhappy Anne’s act of violence years later is both unimaginable and unforgivable tearing the families completely apart. Peter and Kate are only 14 when their world is torn to pieces. Years pass and as destiny unravels, Peter and Kate find each other again. The difficult choices they repeatedly have to make are painful and will either set them on a path to freedom or destruction. Deep, complicated family dynamics. This realistic novel is beautifully written but sad and often hopeless. Even though the threads of love are strong, the alcoholism and mental illness is extremely depressing. Great writer, difficult book to recommend.