Sunday, October 22, 2017

Caroline: Little House Revisited


Absolutely nothing reminds me more of my childhood than Little House on the Prairie. Having read every book, very very young and then spending ten years watching the television series this story holds a special place in my heart. Caroline is a new novel, written by Sarah Miller and authorized by the Little House Estate. Although fiction, it follows closely to the time line of the family Ingalls and political state of America as pioneers moved west and Indians were displaced. Caroline narrates the one year journey her young family took to the Kansas prairie before heading back to Pepin, Wisconsin and later Walnut Grove. In an adult style reminiscent of the original, author Sarah Miller takes us through the hardships of traveling, building a home, feeding and caring for her family and heartwarmingly, her loving relationship with Charles. Yes, friends she really dug Charles! She details what its like to be a woman, a mother, sister and friend during a time in history when luxuries were few and physical labor took most of their daylight hours. Loved every single moment of this beautiful story and was sad to turn the last page. Highly recommend to all my reader friends! 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Voyager


Since rocks, time and war cannot keep them apart, Claire finds her way back to Jamie twenty years later. With their daughter grown and Frank gone, Claire is free to live the life she was meant to live. Slightly more prepared this time around, equipped with knowledge and a few tools of the trade, she manages to find Jamie in Edinburgh and the love and adventures roar to life once again as if no time has passed at all. With the same brilliant suspenseful ambitions, the two set out to make change, make good and subsequently get themselves caught up with smugglers, pirates and some characters from the past. Set out to save Young Ian, the pair winds up on a ship to the Caribbean to experience new scenery along with death defying storms, cannons and epidemics. Having watched seasons 1 & 2 on STARZ, this was my first encounter with the 870 page monster book (3) I had been hearing so much about. Huge, detailed and taking me twice as long as any book I have read, I LOVED every single minute of this swashbuckling tale. Thanks to author Diana Gabaldon, I am ready to watch season 3 and continue my love affair with Jamie and Claire. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Captain's Daughter


Eliza Barnes, daughter of a lobsterman from a small town in Maine, worked hard her whole life to break away from the fishing boats. With dreams of the Ivy League and medical school, Eliza leaves her high school sweetheart and widowed father to begin her journey. Plans slightly veered when Eliza gets married and finds herself living the country club life with a handsome husband and two beautiful daughters in Boston. This seemingly idyllic spell is broken when Eliza is called to help her father after an accident and finds him in a much more serious situation than she ever imagined. Staying in Maine for a bit to help her dad, she reconnects with her high school love and all the memories that they shared. At the same time she befriends a local teen who is searching for life’s answers that are not easily found. I loved the small town vibe and beautiful settings but was overall disappointed. Without giving spoilers, characters did not connect with each other or with me. Much of the dialogue was contrived and predictable. Luckily it was an easy read but sorry girls, it’s not on my recommend list.

Hum If You Don't Know the Words


Robin is a nine year old girl, living in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is 1976 and Robin sees the world through a typical child’s eyes, a white child growing up during the apartheid. She pretty much cares about her bike, spying on the neighborhood boys and her imaginary friend named Cat. When tragedy strikes and her parents are violently murdered Robin goes to live with her Aunt Edith, a feisty single woman who is a stewardess. Since Edith travels much of the time she hires Beauty to watch over and care for her niece. Beauty is a black schoolteacher that has left her peaceful village in search of her missing daughter Nomsa. It is believed that Nomsa, an intelligent, outspoken teenager has joined a military movement to fight for freedom. As Nelson Mandela sits in jail, the violence builds in South Africa and everyone’s life, both black and white is destined to change forever. Robin and Beauty create an unexpected friendship beyond that of a typical caretaker. Robin’s childlike innocence does not always match her actions as she learns about love, trust and family where color has no place. As Beauty searches for her own daughter she helps Robin heal and is probably the first person to always tell her the truth. This book is a beautifully written story during a time in history that was not very beautiful. It is sad that we still struggle today to see that beyond our differences we are bound together as one and should respect each other and this planet we call home. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Other Alcott


No matter where May Alcott goes, she is always the younger sister of famous authoress Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women. She is also Amy March, one of the main characters. She is the sister that must stay home and care for her family as her parents age. Even though May is filled with love for those around her, she is drowning in regret of the dreams she has for her own story. May is an artist. She draws and paints and wants to study art and become successful and independent like Louisa. During the later years of the 1800’s in Concord Massachusetts most women are married young and raise families. With her lovely looks and flowing curls, May is turning down her suitors in search of her real love, art. Her grit and determination take her to Italy, London and Paris. Her travels lead to opportunities she never imagined. This what-if historical take on the Alcott sisters is a beautiful story about families, especially sisterhood. The Alcott sisters want a life not easily acquired during this time. Many things we take for granted today were unheard of for women. Through extensive research author Elise Hooper creates a realistic tale of the endeavors taken on by May Alcott, the sister rarely mentioned, making her way in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this fabulous new read. Note: There is an extensive amount of detail regarding the art world May enters. These sections may feel lengthy for readers that have little interest in art. It does not detract from the beautiful story of these amazing sisters.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Rules of Magic


The Owens family have been cursed and feared since the early 1600’s when Maria Owens was tried for witchery. This family has to live by certain rules, no crows, no cats, no intent to harm and most importantly - to never fall truly in love. Susanna runs away from their small town in Massachusetts to live her life in NYC, get lost in the crowds. She marries, not for love but for companionship. They have three beautiful children and for as hard as they try, they cannot ignore or run from the powers they were born with and blood that runs through their veins. Franny, the eldest beauty leads and protects her siblings Jet and Vincent, never straying from her responsibilities. The three are inseparable until the day their loves and lives tear them apart from the only life they have ever known. The Rules of Magic is the prequel to the huge bestseller and fabulous movie (Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman 1998!) Practical Magic. This is the story of Frances and Jet’s childhood and how they came to be the loved and fearsome spinster aunts to Gillian and Sally. Filled with spells, potions and promises, author Alice Hoffman could not have done a better job bringing us back into this magical world. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Burning Girl


Julia and Cassie were best friends since they were very very young. Spending every moment of their idyllic childhood summers together, wandering, exploring and dreaming of the future. With high school approaching fast, changes in the girls begin to tear them apart. Once inseparable, Julia now focuses on her academic accomplishments and Cassie’s apathetic tendencies drive her to a dangerous friendship and flirtations with the wrong boys. Julia comes from a loving home with two supportive parents, while Cassie’s single mother begins to date a somewhat religious man that sets out to change her ways and destroy her relationship with her mother. Having loved The Woman Upstairs, I was a bit disappointed with this latest novel by incredible author Claire Messud. So much of the girls relationship felt contrived. Julia’s obsession with Cassie’s well being and belief that she knew everything the girl was feeling was over the top. There were some good characters but many unanswered questions and paths that led nowhere. I felt like I put a lot in and then walked away with nothing. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Takedown


Kyla Cheng is a senior at a fancy private school in Brooklyn. She is valedictorian, beautiful, talented and very very popular. When a sex vid is posted on YurTube of her and  her handsome teacher getting passionate in the classroom, Kyla’s life as she knows it, is over. Years of being on top can leave a lot of not so happy frenemies. Her mission is to catch the culprit of the download who sent this video on a trending frenzy and go back to the norm, with Kyla in control and at the top of her college app game. Her adorable “not boyfriend” Macky and trio of besties help her through this futuristic look at a completely technological world where not just convenience but all of our emotions are controlled with a swipe or a text. A fast paced and furious look at high school peer pressure and our world as it evolves quicker than our little gadgets can carry us. I don’t read many YA books but this one is a winner. Great characters, unique repartee and glimpse into the tech world that will give you much food for thought. Great debut novel, look forward to reading more from Corrie Wang.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I Could Write A Book


After setting the stage for their upscale equestrian community in Kentucky, Emma is choosing to leave her small women’s college and return home to care for her father after his stroke. Her sister is married with small children, her aunt has already sacrificed her young adulthood caring for Emma’s family when their mother unexpectedly died and it is up to Emma to fill the missing piece in their family home and community. She is beautiful, smart and beloved by all. This sweet mini saga turns into a love story “Jane Austen” style when George, the handsome catch of the town family friend watches Emma, who he has known all his life, grow into the woman he always dreamed she’d be. Obviously, a twist on an old tale, I found this new novel easy and adorable, especially if you love anything remotely Jane Austen. Its hard to imagine the characters with southern charm and accent instead of English one’s but it’s a quick read and if you can go with the flow - you’ll enjoy the ride.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Young Jane Young


Aviva Grossman is a student at the University of Miami. She is interested in politics and gets an internship with a Congressman who was once a neighbor of her parents in Boca Raton. He is charming, good looking, smart and she is smitten. Sound familiar? There is an accident. There is a scandal. The Congressman goes on to re-election after re-election (he is very good at his job) and Aviva’s world will never be the same again. She is forced to reinvent herself. Their lives are narrated through the perspective of Aviva, her mother Rachel, the Congressman’s wife Embeth and later looking back - her vivacious daughter Ruby. Author Gabrielle Zevin had me laughing out loud from page 1 and my full attention to the very end. She was so spot on describing the insecurities of a young college student, her relationship with her overzealous mother and crushed dreams of a carefully planned future. Filled with humor, grace, honesty and incredible storytelling, Young Jane Young is an absolute must read!! I loved every minute of it.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Reading With Patrick


After graduating from Harvard, Michelle Kuo accepted one of the most grueling positions available with the Teach for America program. Filled with tremendous hope, she set out for the small town of Helena, Arkansas. Reality immediately set in when she enters a completely broken, neglected and forgotten part of our country. A public school system filled with students that were left behind a long time ago. Generations ago. Michelle believed that if you could scratch the surface there was a bright light just waiting to be turned on. Utilizing her love of reading, unimaginable patience and pure kindness, Michelle found ways to encourage students - who have never ever been asked what they thought - to speak up and voice their thoughts and dreams and opinions. Years later after attending Harvard Law School Michelle is notified that a student named Patrick, whom she had been very close to, had been jailed for murder in a place that basically would throw away the key. Even though she longed to begin her law career and new life in California, she could not abandon Patrick or her belief that education and caring can make a real difference. Michelle goes back to Helena to see how she could help him. This incredible work of non-fiction should be required reading for parents, teachers and students. Our beautiful country still has a long road and a lot of hard work ahead. The most basic human rights should not ever be violated and every child needs a caring adult for guidance. I was mesmerized by Michelle’s beautiful words and this is undoubtedly a life changing MUST READ. Because reading really does change lives.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Diplomat's Daughter


Emi Kato has lived all over the world. As the only daughter of a Japanese diplomat, the Kato family has been stationed in Berlin, London, Vienna and America. Emi is a beautiful, talented, multi-lingual young woman whose life turns upside down during WWII. The Kato family thought they were safely tucked away in Washington DC, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed, the Japanese are quickly the enemy and are sent to internment camps, stripped of all their freedoms and slowly returned to Japan. At the tender age of 21, Emi has fallen in love twice and these friendship/romances have pulled her heart in every direction possible. In Vienna, Leo Hartmann’s family has been destroyed and removed from everything they have ever known and Christian Lange, a wealthy American boy of German descent whose family is also detained, is no longer welcome on American soil. Emi does not know who to trust anymore. The Japan she returns to does not resemble her young childhood, Christians family could not be part of the same Nazi Germany she despises and the Americans have completely withdrawn any diplomatic welcome they once extended. As Emi becomes an independent woman, apart from her parents she searches to find home and her two loves - all the while struggling to stay alive. I really liked each character in this somewhat long, repetitive saga. Its a solid good but did not knock my socks off as author Karin Tanabe’s The Gilded Years had done last year. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fitness Junkie


Southern belle Janey Sweet and Beau Matthews have been best friends since childhood and business partners for most of their adult life. They have created the hottest wedding dress design company in NYC called B. After a lifetime of Janey kowtowing to Beau’s whims, the straw has finally broken the camel’s back. Beau has insisted that since Janey has gained weight she should take a few months off, get back in shape and “like” herself again. Janey is devastated. Work is her life and Beau is the air she breathes. Through the world of over the top NYC lifestyles and the price tag that goes with them, authors Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza had me laughing out loud for this entire book! Janey and her best friend CJ set out to lose the weight with abusive trainers and restrictive bizarre eating plans. But maybe a kick in the butt was exactly what Janey needed to see the light again. She makes some outrageous new friends, accepts her recent divorce and has the best sex she has had since college. A hilarious spoof on insta selfie’s and obsessive botox, you may scarily see too much truth in this alternate reality. We all have a little bit of this in our lives but whatever makes you happy! Just make sure it really makes you happy, because thats what matters. Highly recommend this hilarious well written read to take to the beach for the last days of summer. Get ready for some fun!

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Address


Sara Smythe has been handed the opportunity of a lifetime. The year is 1884 and Sara is head housekeeper at a luxury hotel in London. When she assists a child of a guest named Theodore Camden, he is so grateful that he offers this industrious woman a ticket to America and an opportunity to run his up and coming apartment building in NYC, The Dakota. The chemistry between Sara and Theo is immediate and it takes only a few moments for Sara to grab hold of this chance to change her life. A hundred years later Bailey Camden is just out of rehab and desperately trying to get her interior design position back. Her wealthy cousin, Melinda Camden, offers her refuge and a job decorating her newly inherited apartment in none other than The Dakota. Alternating between the span of years, The Address narrates the lives of these two women with their uncanny similarities and vast disparities, especially for an unmarried woman in the late 1800’s. What a difference a century can make! Filled with historical detail, romance, an insane asylum and a murder, The Address was truly unputdownable. Definitely add this fabulous read to your summer picks.

Friday, August 4, 2017

When the English Fall


After a solar storm practically shuts down every city on the planet, there is pure and utter chaos. Jacob and his family live in an Amish community near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Their lifestyle leaves them virtually the only people unaffected. Already self sufficient farmers and skilled workmen who use little or no electricity, these families continue on their peaceful, quiet daily routine. When news of the world outside their settlement starts to trickle in and violence and desperation inch closer, their ethics, practices and conscience must lead the way. Narrated by Jacob, a farmer living with his wife Hannah and their two children - they must choose how they can serve G-d and question what it will take to survive. This very simple story quietly examines technology, morality and the goodness that can be ripped from mankind when desperation occurs. What begins as “what would you do to save your family?” quickly transforms into “what  kind of life are we living every single day?” After my own summer melt down where I was reading books that although wonderful, were becoming indecipherable - When the English Fall completely woke up each of my senses. Similar to A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan, this beautifully written novel by David Williams will leave you both fascinated and a little nervous. I don’t think it was meant to scare you as much as to force you to contemplate the choices we make every day. Highly recommend this fabulous new book! Absolute 5 STARS!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Do Not Become Alarmed


Liv and Nora, cousins from Los Angeles, take their families on a dream cruise for the Christmas holidays. Liv, a successful movie producer, her engineer husband Benjamin, their outspoken 11 year old daughter Penny and son Sebastian are over the top excited. Nora and handsome movie star Raymond (yes, Liv introduced them) bring their introverted son Marcus and 6 year old daughter Junie. The plan is that the parents will get a much needed break from work and household duties and the kids will have entertainment galore. The ship is everything they hoped and they easily fall into a daily routine that suits all their needs. Feeling like its time to finally get off at one of the stops in Central America - Liv organizes an exciting zip line adventure. Little did she know their lives would never be the same again. After an unfortunate succession of bad decisions with unknown consequences the families are separated. The children have disappeared. The families camp out at a hotel while they work with professionals to follow the few clues they have and get their children back safely. The once loving cousins are at each others throats, the wives resent the husbands for having gone to the golf course that day and it is very hard to decipher (in Spanish) who they should trust. WOW! This adrenaline rollercoaster of emotion by Maile Meloy is UNPUTDOWNABLE. Fast paced and filled with suspense and flashes of reality, my heart was racing as I turned each page. It is to a certain extent a mystery but it is also about marriage, parenthood and survival of the fittest in every culture. Highly recommend this #SummerRead. It will keep you on the edge of your beach chair!! Don’t fall in and ruin your kindle! 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Best Intentions


Marti Trailor, her husband Elliot and their three children have a beautiful home in the suburbs near Richmond, VA. They live in place where the social scene demands you act, dress and behave a certain way. Marti, like her father, a well known congressman, understands the public eye but definitely beats to her own drum without apology. After surviving the weariness of stay at home mom status for years, Marti is offered a social work job at the same hospital as Elliot, who is a leading OB/GYN in the department. Marti will care for pregnant women who need assistance, some of them not being older than children themselves. Elliot does not seem thrilled about this new position but since his residency ended he has seemed distant and secretive. Marti has been on this rollercoaster with Elliot for years, always hoping the next step would bring the family closer. But Elliot is never home and as she tiptoes around their life as stranger she fears what the future may bring. From the beginning the reader is aware a great tragedy has occurred. Marti is on trial for a crime. The story is told as it flashes back to the envied life everyone thought she was living. As the truth begins to unfold through her best friend who is a stealth reporter, Marti leans more and more on her sweet handsome boss Win and reevaluates everything she once naively believed about her husband and the life they built. Best Intentions brings the reader deep into the hearts of this model family to uncover the truth of marriage, motherhood and friendship. Filled with twists and turns and fabulous characters, I highly recommend this well written suspenseful novel. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Goddesses


Nancy, Chuck and their teenage twin boys move to Hawaii filled with the hope of starting over. With her marriage on the rocks and the boys growing up, Nancy does not know what kind of life she wants anymore. Chuck’s job transfers smoothly to the Costco in Kona and the boys seamlessly become star players on their high school water polo team. But what about Nancy? With middle age settling in and her body expanding out Nancy decides to try a yoga class. The class and teacher Ana become Nancy’s new mantra. Eat healthy, focus on the moment and thoughtful words of wisdom that become life changing. Her friendship with Nancy is on a fast track. She immediately begins spending all of her time with Ana who is in remission from breast cancer and sees the world through the bright eyes of karmic resolution. She constantly cajoles Nancy into helping her do what she feels are good deeds to keep the bad vibes at bay. Their sister friendship is instantly overwhelmed with need and emotion which Chuck tolerates as he still carries memories of his own guilty affair from San Diego. As Nancy digs deeper into her own psyche, things with Ana become more bizarre and demanding. Nancy becomes leery of the destructive path this has taken and her boys begin to get into trouble as they sense the unrest in their parents marriage. I wouldn’t call this a thriller but definitely a psychological twisted drama. As I loved author Swan Huntley’s first novel We Could Be Beautiful, I am amazed at how completely different but equally well written this new novel is. Love the characters, love the Hawaii setting, highly recommend The Goddesses. Definitely a thumbs up #SummerRead!

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.

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.