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.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Girl From Berlin


Gabi is being forcefully removed from her farm, her vineyards, her life. At 77 yrs old she has led a quiet peaceful existence producing some of the best award-winning wines in Tuscany. Since she was a small child she has known no other home. A huge corporation has filed suit against her. Vital documents are missing, no-one will listen to her story. Liam and Catherine begin their Italian adventure when a local Chicago restauranteur/friend begs them to fly to Italy and rescue his Aunt’s property. Liam begins to uncover each layer of carefully buried deception while Catherine maneuvers around Italian lawyers and judges. A fast paced mystery woven through present day and WWII, when Gabi was just a child and Italy fell to the Nazi regime. Through a memoir written by her mother Ada, an aspiring violinist and her family in Berlin, we learn how these brave and kind people kept their faith and hope in each other while facing the horrendous perils of wartime Europe. Absolutely loved and highly recommend this touching, fast paced novel, #5 in the Liam and Catherine series, by fabulous author Ronald Balson. Note: they are only connected through the appearance of characters Liam and Catharine, not their individual story lines. Each novel is an excellent stand alone!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Not Our Kind


After a minor taxi accident in NYC, Patricia and Eleanor’s lives become unexpectedly intertwined. Patricia is a wealthy Park Avenue sort, with her fancy apartment and even fancier friends. Eleanor, having been born and bred only a few blocks away on 2nd Avenue, could not have had a more opposite upbringing. Her father passed away and her milliner mother struggles to make ends meet. Understanding the value of education, Eleanor was encouraged from a young age to excel and rise from her station in life. She attended Vassar with a full scholarship, almost unheard of for women in the early 1940’s, and especially for one who is Jewish. Although they don’t have much in common, Patricia is out of options with her difficult daughter Margaux, who at 13 is a polio survivor who has missed a lot of school and has had a hard time accepting the physical limitations in her life. Eleanor just happens to be a teacher looking for a new position and they instantly hit to off. Maybe too good to be true, Patricia’s husband, Wynn, does not approve of this arrangement, immediately insisting Eleanor changes her last name to something less Jewish for the sake of the neighbors. Her brother Tom falls head over heels for the new tutor and Eleanor is forced to dig deep and learn life’s greatest lesson. Filled with love, friendship and family, this beautifully written novel instantly took me away to another time, another world with hats and gloves rules to be followed. Absolutely loved and highly recommend this fabulous fall read.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Rain Watcher


The Malegarde family reunites for a weekend in Paris to celebrate the father’s 70th birthday and parents anniversary. Family only, their American born mother Lauren insists. Grown now, Linden and his sister gather for this special occasion. In turn, Paris is experiencing an historic flood as rain pelts the city and the Seine rises to devastating heights. The family becomes trapped as the weather and declining health of both parents hold them hostage for a number of days. Linden, a likable character and famous photographer flashes back through his life and struggles. This novel is beautifully descriptive but the contrived series of events followed by one tragic remembrance after another is over the top, entirely constructed for a family the reader never has a chance to sincerely care about from the start. Having loved many novels by this author, I was sorely disappointed by this early read that failed to capture my heart.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Lilli de Jong


Lilli de Jong is a young woman, a teacher, a daughter and sister in the Quaker community of Germantown Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s. She is well educated, pious and falling in love with her father’s apprentice Johan. With the promise of marriage and a life in Pittsburgh, Lilli and Johan have a romantic evening that changes her life forever. Pregnant and alone, Lilli has lost her teaching position and is forced from her father’s home. She finds solace in a charitable home for women throughout the pregnancy but after her daughter Charlotte is born Lilli is faced with a future she never imagined. To keep her baby she risks both their lives and while the world at large shuns an unmarried woman with child, Lilli chooses hope as her salvation. As Lilli tells her story in the format of journaling, this unbelievable story describes one woman’s strength as she learns what it is to be a woman and a mother. Highly recommend this well done, heartfelt, incredibly detailed work of historical fiction by author Janet Benton. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Life Lucy Knew


After an unexpected accident Lucy wakes up in a hospital bed grateful to be alive. Surrounded by her family, all seems like it is going to be okay until she sees Matt by her side and thinks, what is he doing here? Matt is her devoted, handsome, intelligent  boyfriend whom she thinks and BELIEVES is only an acquaintance from work. Mystified by this confusing rollercoaster of emotions, it is discovered that Lucy is suffering from a syndrome you might call “honest lying.” Her brain has filled in blanks while she was in a coma and to Lucy they seem perfectly real. So while devoted Matt is ready to resume their routine and relationship, Lucy honestly, truly, heartbreakingly believes she his married to her ex-boyfriend. She can visualize their beautiful wedding, her dress, every detail. She misses him terribly and even as she gets help from her doctors, her family and friends to fill in gaping holes that make no sense, she is painfully in love with a man she hasn’t seen in four years, who is married - to someone else. Will she get her memory back? Will her feelings for Matt return? Lucy doesn’t know if things will ever make sense again. I adored this incredibly unique love story filled with the complicated angst of family dynamics, trust and friendship. Fabulous characters and an absolute page turner. Highly recommend this intriguing, romantic, well written novel by author Karma Brown.

The Girl He Used to Know

Annika and Jonathan were college sweethearts at the University of Illinois. They competed in the chess club together and he was pretty much her first everything. A little off on social situations with quite a few challenges that are never named, Annika is beautiful, smart and painfully shy. Jonathan gently brings her out of her shell one step at a time. When their after college plans don’t turn out as they hoped it is not until ten years that they are reunited. Getting to know each other once again, their romance still runs deep as they navigate this relationship from different places in their lives. I really enjoyed this heartfelt tender novel from fabulous author Tracey Garvis-Graves. She captured the essence of a very different type of character than in her previous books. Thank you NetGalley for the early read. Pub date April 2019!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Kiss Quotient


Stella is brilliant and beautiful, successful and wealthy. But Stella has trouble looking you in the eye. She has trouble with certain fabrics, foods, smells, noises and being touched. Her Asperberger’s has made her a bit out of the box her entire life and at thirty years old she is finally ready to make the social leap she has been dreaming of. Stella wants a boyfriend. Her analytic mind has reasoned that if she took lessons in love all her problems would be solved. Stella hires Michael, an escort, to accomplish the practice and  training she desires. Turns out Michael is gorgeous, they get along perfectly and even though she is paying him she swears the connection is mutual. Now she only has to win his heart. This fabulously funny, well written, beautiful. VERY sexy love story will have you smiling from first page to the last. The characters are completely lovable as is this author and I cannot wait for her next novel! I guess reviews really do work because for some bizarre reason this was not on my radar until I saw review after review raving about this book! I am so glad I listened. Absolutely one of the best I’ve read this year!

Good Riddance


When Daphne’s mother, June unexpectedly passes away she inherits her prized possession. Her 1969 yearbook. It is filled with notes, comments and secret codes following the class through years of reunions, triumphs and tragedies. Daphne moves from her small hometown in New Hampshire to NYC to reboot her career and life. While trying to fit into her stamp sized apartment Daphne tosses the yearbook. It is found by a neighbor and aspiring filmmaker who takes an obsessive interest in June’s life and is convinced the yearbook cover’s up something much more scandalous. Sending Daphne, sort-of-boyfriend Jeremy and even her father into a tailspin adventure. Good Riddance is a quick witted humorous romantic comedy, filled with wonderful characters and thoroughly entertaining. Pub date not until February 2019 but I could not resist taking an early early read thanks to Edelweiss.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Open Me


Roxana’s parents are in the midst of a horrible divorce. After highschool graduation she escapes to Copenhagen to attend a study abroad summer program before college begins in the fall. Her program guide meets her at the airport. Soren is a 28 year old guy, good looking with a reserved, serious demeanor that immediately intimidates and intrigues her. Roxana has little experience with men and literally zero self confidence. When their unexpected relationship begins she quickly is enamored by his every attention. Unfortunately, I found her both extreme naivete and her unhygienic habits unrealistic and unappealing. The writing and storyline were good but my hopes that it was going to pull me in at some point were dashed as it spiraled deeper off track of this supposed coming of age story. 

Playing with Matches


Sasha Goldberg is your typical college grad, struggling with NYC life, searching for a job, career, future. Obsessed with his work in finance, her longtime boyfriend Jonathan has  always been way out of her league - even though he repeatedly pledges his allegiance, Sasha begins to seriously wonder if he is even listening when they speak. Sasha finds a job as a matchmaker at an exclusive dating service called Bliss. She uses her writing skills and common sense to help her clients find true love. Sasha learns all the new dating apps and hand picks their perfect match to arrange a date. She meets a slew of men that are SO good on paper (or rather on-screen) but very quickly realizes this is a lot harder than it looks. One hysterical bump in the road after another, this laugh out loud, very adorable story is a (most likely) realistic look at the dating app world and how it has forced people to make a ridiculous life check list when really, as mysterious as it can be, love just doesn’t work like that. Highly recommend this entertaining end of summer read!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Subway Girls


It is 1949 and Charlotte is almost finished with Hunter College in NY. Her dreams of success in the world of advertising are dashed when her father’s failing paint store in Brooklyn desperately needs her assistance and her romance with Sam has all but fallen apart. It is 2018, and Olivia has lost the biggest account her agency was depending on to keep the doors open. Suddenly, she and her boss Matt, struggling with their on again off again relationship, have an opportunity to pitch the MTA subway and save all they have worked for these past few years. When the world’s of these two very likable women collide, the history of Manhattan comes alive and it’s hardly a surprise that 70 years later some things absolutely never ever change. Based on an actual ad campaign from 1941-1976, this fabulous New York story is easy and enjoyable, although slightly predictable. If you like historical fiction - a must read for summer.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Trust Again


Dawn has tried really hard to restart her life. After a nasty ending with her longtime sweetheart she goes off to college to regain confidence and become a real and true writer. Dawn secretly writes erotic novels and publishes them online. She has quite a following. Fearing judgement from her family and friends, her writing has become an outlet for dreams and desires in a fantasy world where no guy can break her heart ever again. With a feisty roommate named Sawyer and her best friend Allie at her side, Dawn is finally coming out of her shell. Another in their small group is named Spencer. Although he is handsome and smart, Dawn cannot allow herself to be become more than friends with him after her recent heartache with Nate. They share a fantastic friendship and can both feel the romance building. This is a coming of age struggle between trust and love, one’s learning of how to protect and take care of yourself - but leave the window open enough to let others be a part of it. This is book two in a series by author Mona Kasten. I appreciate her writing and simple but meaningful relationships. Translated from German, it can be a standalone but I have really enjoyed reading them in order. Third one is yet to hit the bookshops here but I look forward to it. Thanks NetGalley!

Ghosted


Sarah Mackey goes back to England every June in remembrance of the day that changed her life forever. For the past nineteen years she has been living in California, trying to move forward, guilt weighing her down, suffocated by the past. Her and her husband Rueben run a charitable organization called ClownDoctors and helping children helps Sarah, a little. But things with Reuben were coming to an undramatic ending and Sarah’s visit this year is heavier than most. Walking down a country road she unexpectedly meets Eddie. At almost forty years old, Sarah stopped believing in true love - soul mate kind of take your breath away love - a long time ago. But then there is Eddie. And Sarah’s life will never be the same. Their time together is a gift that feels like it will last forever until Eddie disappears. He stops returning calls, texts, messages. Their conversations replay in her mind over and over again. She can’t have been ghosted. There has to be an explanation and painful or not, she is going to find it. I thoroughly enjoyed this love story page turner. Excellent writing by debut author, Rosie Walsh. Her descriptions of love are breathtaking while the reader slowly travels through their winding hearts to the truth buried deep inside. I highly recommend this fabulous summer read.