Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Make Your Home Among Strangers

In all the books I have read (and I have read a lot) I rarely
find the main characters from Miami. There is a special something that brings you there instantly. Author Jennine Capot Crucet describes the sights, the sounds, and the air perfectly. I can hear and see the characters. Lizet is a young girl graduating from Hialeah Lakes High School. She is the very first student to be accepted to Rawlings College, a prestigious, small, expensive college in New York. She has never been away from home, never flown on a plane. Her very small world of family, friends and boyfriend Omar had until that point been all Lizet needed to be happy. But when she spills the beans and tells everyone she is going away to college (having secretly applied) they are angry, feel betrayed and her parents who had always been on the brink of a huge meltdown - separate. Lizet wants to recreate herself. She has worked hard in school her whole life but can she hack the big leagues? She is nervous and scared and immediately homesick. Prepared to run from being the reffy from Miami, she plays down her Cuban identity only to wind up fighting for it in the end. Lizet is deeply connected to where she is from from, as the girls constantly ask, as she is introduced as Lizet, the Cuban roommate of Jillian. This book is about family, friendship and identity. All the things that make you you. Like, you you. Highly recommend this fantastic read. Look forward to more from this newfound author! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Re Jane

Jane grew up in Flushing, New York in a predominantly
Korean neighborhood. She came to America as a very small child to be raised by her Uncle and Aunt after her mother died. Her Korean language skills were never perfect, her mixed looks (half Korean, half American) frowned upon. Jane never felt like she fit in. After graduating college Jane is ready to take on the world, basically just get the heck out of working in her Uncle's grocery store and as far away from Queens as possible. When her post grad job slips away, Jane accepts a position as a nanny, unexpectedly, in Brooklyn. A chance to escape the small life she is living but not quite her dream come true. The Mazar-Farley's are a fascinating bunch of characters. Ed a Brooklynite turned academic, Beth, an academic turned extreme feminist and an adopted little girl named Devon that mirrors the fears Jane sees in herself. Jane finally grows up, experiences real friendships, and some not so real. She falls in love and finds out the truth about her mother, her father and herself that finally puts all the pieces of her life together. Re Jane is about immigrant families, traditions, loyalty and friendship. This novel is beautifully written, laugh out loud funny and incredibly touching. I highly recommend this unique look into another culture, and the heart of a truly fabulous main character. Must read!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to be a Grown Up

Well, its summer and I needed to laugh out loud!
This fantastic new novel by the infamous authors of The Nanny Diaries was the perfect remedy! Rory McGovern is a stay at home mom in NYC. She married the man of her dreams, literally. Blake Turner was her crush poster on the wall (child actor!) and her secret college - I am watching you but never in 4 years never find the right time to approach - crush!! Post college they meet in NYC and they have a real connection and she is not quite as shy and he is quite that gorgeous up close. They have an adorable, needy 4 year old little girl and a 10 year old boy that is just on the cusp of thinking girls are not completely yucky. Unfortunately, the couple struggles financially. Blake's acting career is in a slump and Rory has not freelanced her set design skill much in years. Blake's solution is to revert to his childhood withdrawal syndrome, one of which Rory knew nothing about. Through humor (and I mean crack up, laughing out loud with the whole family staring - who is that woman in the kitchen?!) and heartfelt not so fictionalized storyline, Rory finds the strength and wisdom to overcome her fears, reboot her career and lean on some pretty awesome friends that are right there with a helping hand, babysitting services and shot of tequila. And while you're busy thoroughly laughing it starts to sink in that this is not so far fetched, that not all married couples stay together no matter how sincere their intentions are or were. I loved Rory and even her off the wall twentysomething boss Taylor who makes her life miserable. Once again these two fabulous friends and authors have hit the jackpot. Can't wait to see who stars in the film! Thanks Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus! #happysummer #unputdownable #laughoutloud #reading

Our Souls at Night

Addie Moore walks right up to her neighbor Louis's door and
asks for what she wants. They are both widows in their early 70's. They have been neighbors in this small town of Holt, CO for years but don't know each other particularly well. They are both incredibly, heartbreakingly lonely. With the bravery of a twentysomething, Addie tells Louis that she would like to spend time with him and they arrange a schedule on a trial basis. Simultaneously, Addie's young grandson is left in her care for a few weeks while her own son is figuring out his own complicated marriage. The bravery - in this unlikely beautiful relationship, for two people that feel as if their lives are finished, is beautiful. And thoughtful. And meaningful, in so many ways. Unfortunately, the couple has to deal with the ridiculous nature of a town filled with gossips and antiquated opinions and eventually the pressure is just too much. This is author Kent Haruf's final storytelling, as he passed away last year. It is a small, quiet, beautiful story of friendship, love and life. And the author is clearly trying to tell us something. Highly recommend this incredibly unique, thought provoking read. Thank you Mr. Haruf, and you will be missed.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Circling the Sun

After reading for almost 24 hours straight, I saved the
last chapter for this morning. Yes, friends, this is one of "those" books. From the author of The Paris Wife, Paula McLain, brings us the unbelievable life of Beryl Markham. In Kenya during the early 1900's, long before it was Kenya, Beryl grew up running free with her father on a picturesque horse farm. He was a renowned horse trainer, and treated Beryl like an equal. She helped him train the horses, she did not complain or back down from any task too difficult. She befriended the local tribe. It wasn't until she was 12 that he was told "that girl should be educated and needs to wear shoes!" As if it had never crossed his mind, he quickly hired Emma as housekeeper/governess/future wife - sort of. Beryl is no ordinary girl. She is tough and brave and completely has a mind of her own. Through her life she is torn equally by much success and failure, love and abandonment. Meeting Denys Finch Hatton (Out of Africa, so yes, you already have Robert Redford's gorgeous face in mind) at a young age to become lifelong friends, sometimes partners and always soulmates is both beautiful and tragic. Beryl makes mistakes while trying to sustain some type of livelihood, although she possesses incredible talent, it is unheard of at this time for a woman to attain too much independence or freedom. This book was UNPUTDOWNABLE. The characters were magnificent and I feel drunk on this time and this place. This author's historical detail and easy writing makes Circling the Sun an absolute must for anyone's summer reading list.

The Seven Good Years

A hilarious, dry witted memoir that reads like a collection
of very personal journal entries. Etgar Keret shares his Israeli life with us; events from his childhood, years in the army and finally becoming a husband and father. He reminisces the good times and the bad, the unlikely situations he finds himself in and responsibilities one can never turn away from. Etgar characterizes the people close to him with warmth, love and a very obscure sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this small glance into his life as it is told with truth and incredible honesty. While Etgar lives in a land that is hard for most Americans to understand (even with a visit or two) it is refreshing to be reminded that when it comes to matters of the heart, we are so very similar. Highly recommend this easy, quick and enjoyable read.

Monday, August 3, 2015


Okay, okay. You either love Fifty Shades or you don't.
So, friends, this is only if you love Fifty Shades. Naysayers need not bother!! Same story line told from the view of Christian. (Even after the movie, I see him as Simon Baker and Dakota Johnson really was perfect) It has been a while so I don't know if his view is slightly different or I just don't remember the details but it felt different. It didn't seem like I was rereading the same exact story and that in itself EL James, is very interesting. Christian is Christian. He is obsessed with Anastasia. Some of the repetitiveness seems to have disappeared, but Ana still bites her lip. This book follows absolutely nothing else similar to what I normally read but I thoroughly enjoyed another dark journey with the billionaire into his mysterious world of emotions. Great fun for a lazy day at the pool or beach!

Eight Hundred Grapes

In the beautiful hills of Sonoma County, Georgia Ford
is about to get married. Ben is handsome, smart and his sexy English accent still drives her mad! At her final dress fitting Georgia glances out the window and sees Ben casually walking down the street. And he is not alone. From that moment on chaos ensues. Georgia finds out the truth of Ben's life, she runs to her parents and brothers to the safety of her childhood home only to find they have been withholding secrets and dealing with their own difficulties as well. Taking place in this idyllic part of the country where her family's passion has been their vineyards and watching the way the sun rose and fell, it does not seem so perfect to Georgia anymore. She has life changing decisions to make and ghosts to confront. Author Laura Dave perfectly captures Sonoma and a young woman's life on the brink of marriage. This novel is funny and moves quickly. It has delicious characters and I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend this perfect beach read. Perhaps with a glass of Pinot Grigio, I could not think of a better way to wile away a few summer hours!