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.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Book of Summer


Bess Codman’s life has turned upside down. She is a beautiful, smart ER doctor in San Francisco embroiled in an unexpected and bitter divorce and has flown back to Nantaucket to stay at her family’s summer home called Cliff House. Her eccentric, bizarre mother is there trying to save their historic home as the nearby cliffs erode into the sea. (One interesting point is that these cliffs did erode in real life!) The danger is threatening and her mother’s behavior is beyond passionate and borderline schizophrenic. Bess has flown across the country to convince her mother to pack up and also attend her favorite cousin’s wedding, in the interim spilling the beans about her impending divorce. Her childhood sweetheart, adorable and perfect magically appears by her side to console, assist and rekindle long ago highschool feelings. The story is alternately narrated in the past by her grandmother Ruby, for whom Cliff House held great historical importance, and Bess dealing with present dangers and dramas. This third novel by Michelle Gable was my least favorite. (I devoured her other two!) Although I liked the idea and setting, I found the characters unrealistic and situations improbable. Some of you may enjoy this as a light summer read but it was no vacation for me, I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Swimming Lessons


Flora and Nan have returned to their quaint seaside town in England to care for their father, Gil, after he took a bad fall - turns out he is much more ill than they had imagined. Gil, a literary icon has never truly recovered from his wife’s disappearance twelve years earlier. Ingrid had been a loving mother and adoring wife but her inner demons and long held secrets emerge in a series of letters Gil finds hidden in his massive book collection. The story alternates the present day with letters describing the past and the real story of Ingrid and Gil. Young beautiful student enamored by older successful professor – becomes pregnant – enters shaky marriage and sacrifices her future. Ingrid has no support, no family. She craves love and attention. Their bohemian lifestyle and her dependence on him is suffocating his creative genius. When 12 years later he imagines seeing her through the bookstore window, the daughters, though skeptical, want to believe their mother loved them enough to return. I recommend this book purely for the captivating writing and style in which it is presented. I loved the manner in which the letters told the story. I was slightly bored at times through the repetitive swimming/ocean/beach descriptions. It is slow paced and little actually happens but the characters were interesting and it easily held me until the end. I guess I’m on the fence with this one but I would most certainly read this author again.

The Lost History of Stars

In October 1899, the Dutch Afrikaner settlers in South Africa are brutally removed from their homes, their farms are burned to the ground and the women and children are placed in concentration camps. The men have gone off to fight the British whose interest in the lucrative gold mines and control of the region have driven thousands of soldiers to war. What is known as the Boer War lasted for three long harsh years. Through the eyes of 14 yr old Lettie, The Lost History of Stars narrates their unimaginable quarantine living in sparse tents with little food, water or medicine. Lettie forms an unlikely friendship with a young British soldier guarding the camp. He gives her a book by Dickens. Lettie’s love of reading and dreams of writing fill her with the strength she needs to help her mother and siblings through the daily battle of living.  It is through the hopeful eyes of this young girl on the cusp of womanhood we learn the brutality of mankind against mankind. Her innocence and disbelief is so raw and honest that the pain is palpable. More than 100 years later, this history I knew little or nothing about is brought to life by this beautifully written work of historical fiction. As I read each chapter I fell deeper into the heart of Lettie’s sorrow, and her determination to remain hopeful. We are all looking up at the sky, the same stars - but cannot manage to peacefully share the same planet. It was happening then and it is happening now. Highly recommend this impassioned novel, you will learn from and love these characters long after the end.