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. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating


Hazey Crazy. Every guy she has dated has so much fun with this vivacious, funny, endearing character until a few weeks in - when they are utterly exhausted by her antics and suddenly feel embarrassed by any unwarranted attention. Hazel is beautiful, sexy with a heart as big as Portland but she definitely beats to her own drum. And she is okay with that. Hazel happily teaches third grade and the kids are her salve to a world where many people just don’t get her. Her mom does. Her new friend Emily does. Emily and her husband Dave have a BBQ and Hazel bumps into Josh Im, the blueprint for Perfect. The guy was her TA in college but had never taken her seriously and seen her in some compromising situations. Seven years later, they are reunited. He is Emily’s brother and down in the dumps after a recent breakup. Hazel cannot resist the challenge to cheer Josh up and become his new best friend. They are complete opposites but somehow really get each other. Her playful personality is exactly what this serious guy needs to turn his life upside down. This adorable love story of friendship reminds us all that the key to real happiness is to always be true to yourself. Highly recommend this easy and enjoyable read, surely another bestseller from the wonderful writing duo Christina Lauren.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Girls Night Out


Three old friends get together for a few days in Mexico. A paradise vacation to reconnect and hopefully mend some past and present disagreements. Ashley and Natalie run a successful company together but are at odds regarding its future sale. Lauren, recently widowed has been distant for a year. The three women have wonderful memories of their college days but more recently shaky marriages and hidden betrayals have slowly dissolved the trust they once shared. Ashley, always the flirtatious leader of the trio quickly meets a handsome stranger who immerses himself in all of their plans and activities. One morning the girls awaken in a hazy fog most likely from drunken escapades the night before, to find Ashley is missing. Trying to remain calm they admit she may have spent the night with the handsome stranger but as they slowly investigate her whereabouts it becomes quite clear, foul play of some kind has transpired. The authorizes are contacted and everyone is a suspect until the truth and every secret they had each buried comes to light. This was a 3 star read for me. I like these authors but it was predictable and a bit repetitive. Easy read if you like these thriller type stories.

Marriage Vacation


Kate runs away. From her marriage, her girls, her life. She didn’t go to the wedding in California intending to do anything so extreme but as she watched her friends take vows and glanced at Karl’s empty seat, it suddenly didn’t seem like the craziest idea. Kate is invited to a retreat in Thailand, a few weeks will not be the end of the world, she thought. Karl will understand, the girls will be fine. When two weeks turns into a year Kate’s life is turned upside down and her NY world will never be the same again-  if it exists at all. Kate begins to write, a huge part of herself she had regrettably left behind, she spends her time living in the moment, remembering who she is and what kind of life she wants to live. Mid life crisis? Maybe. Another version of Eat Pray Love? Sort of. But here’s the catch; this book is a take off from the hit tv show Younger and Pauline Turner Brooks, the author, is a character on the show. If you watch Younger, it brings this story to life and if you don’t, it’s still a great take on something most of us would never ever imagine doing. I bet many women have fantasized about taking a break, reevaluating, making sure we are living the life we want before its too late. The guilt leaving the children and expectations of our society would never condone such behavior. But guess what? You can reevaluate and change your life right from your own backyard. You don’t have to wait for mid life or a plane ticket to Thailand. You can make changes big or small any day of the week. I thoroughly enjoyed this quick glimpse at pseudo reality, tv show or not. Thanks ghost writer Jo Piazza for bringing it to life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What Kitty Did Next


Because I never ever tire of Jane Austen, it is always a pleasure to read novels starring the infamous Bennet sisters. It is 1813 and in the beautiful countryside we find Kitty left at home feeling sorry for herself and her uneventful foreseeable future, 19 years old, with three of her four sisters recently married. The Bennet family has quite the history and beautiful home but no fortunes to be had. It is imperative that Kitty marry a gentleman with means, and although she is quite aware of her place in the world, Kitty is convinced she will find love as well. When she has the opportunity to spend the season in London at her sister Jane’s home and later at Pemberley with the Darcy clan, Kitty’s world expands beyond her wildest dreams. After finally returning home to Longbourne nearly a year later, Kitty realizes she has suddenly grown up and can be the fearless woman who follows her dreams. Highly recommend this wonderfully written, enjoyable continuation of the sisters we hold dear to our hearts. Thank you author Carrie Kablean for taking me back on this classic journey.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Masterpiece


There is no place like Grand Central Station. Its majestic beauty shines through the crowds to reveal decades past. Millions of people quickly coming and going in the heartbeat of the greatest city on earth. Clara Darden is a young artist, struggling to make her way in 1928 as a teacher at the Grand Central School of Art. She is a beautiful, confident illustrator fighting for her place in a man’s world. Finally attaining success, Clara has made a name for herself juggling her wealthy, handsome boyfriend and fellow artists despite the looming Depression. After tragedy strikes, Clara disappears as if she never existed at all. Almost Fifty Years later, in 1974, Virginia is taunted by her chauvinistic lawyer husband who left her with little money and lots of sadness. Having been a homemaker for most of her adult life, Virginia scrambles to find work through a temp agency. She accepts a job in the information booth at Grand Central. Even though the terminal is now covered with dirt and not so shiny, Virginia is immediately enamored by its history. As she begins to explore her future as a single woman once again, she discovers a painting hidden on the upper levels of the terminal that had been abandoned decades ago. The mysterious unsigned painting greatly resembles one that is currently up for auction. With Virginia’s flourishing confidence and new station friends, she is determined to solve this mystery. Author Fiona Davis has done it again. A thoroughly enjoyable work of historical fiction based in NYC capturing the imagination through time and art. Highly recommend The Masterpiece for a fabulous summer read!

Friday, July 13, 2018

You Me Everything


Jess and her son William head off to spend the summer in the charming French countryside of the Dordogne. Her best friends Becky and Natasha are going to join them in the later weeks and William is beside himself with excitement. Jess, on the other hand, is a quiet mess as this quaint chateau is run by none other than the love of her life, Williams father, Adam. It has been 10 years since Jess was forced to accept that she was in this on her own. At 22 and pregnant, she was single, terrified and alone. But the minute William’s beautiful face turned to look at hers, she was in love and with the gracious help of her adoring parents nearby they have managed just fine. Now, her mother, whose illness has turned tragically serious pleads with Jess to try and propel a relationship between William and his biological father. Love, laughter and heart wrenching truths are uncovered as Jess discovers her purpose in life and just how precious every single day can be. Highly recommend this beautifully written story about family, friends and gratitude. Absolutely the most perfect summer read, FIVE STARS!

Monday, June 25, 2018

That Kind of Mother


To say that Rebecca Stone is a frazzled new mother, is to put it mildly. When she hires Priscilla, a warm, experienced nanny to help her at home her life is turned around. Priscilla teaches Rebecca how to be a mother. She makes everything look so easy. And half the time confidence is the key. Priscilla watches and loves the baby while Rebecca sits in her office daydreaming about the poetry she used to write. When Priscilla dies during her own childbirth, Rebecca offers to raise (and later adopts)w her son. Raising two boys, one white and one black seems to “want” be the focus of this story. In my opinion children easily accept differences and change, its Rebecca’s bad parenting, not lack of love, that causes their tumultuous home to fall apart. I loved the writing, I loved the themes but really disliked all the weak characters. It was just a depressing mess. 

The Wedding Date


As Alexa is on her way up to her sister’s hotel room, the elevator comes to a jolting halt. And that is how Alexa Monroe meets Drew Nichols, gorgeous pediatric surgeon. Sharing snacks and life stories, the elevator finally begins to climb again and so does Alexa’s heart rate as Drew invites her to attend his ex-girlfriend’s wedding at that very hotel the next evening. To his surprise, she accepts. After having an incredible weekend together, (fake date or not!) this surprise becomes the beginning of a roller coaster love affair. He lives in LA, she lives in SF. They both have demanding jobs and Alexa is terrified Drew will break her heart, but neither can deny their intense chemistry. With light humor and lots of romance, The Wedding Date will be sure to grab your heart. A flirty, delicious story that forces you to smile. Perfect, easy, enjoyable summer read. Looking forward to reading more work from debut author Jasmine Guillory.

Lawn Boy


Mike Munoz is a young man who cuts lawns for a living. Well, thats what his job description says but he considers himself a topiary artist, carving shrubs into works of art. He lives in a run down house with his mom and disabled brother who eats un unbelievable amount of junk food. Just a couple of years out if highschool, Mike is not a bad guy. Mike is an average guy. He dreams of just paying the rent, getting a new car and helping out his hard working mom. When Mike loses his job he accepts one bad situation after another because he has no other choice. Guys not so reputable take advantage of his hard work and kind heart. It seems that every time Mike takes a few positive steps forward he gets sent back to start. I kind of like him, he definitely means well and there are a bunch of life lessons as we all search for some hidden meaning, some rating card that says what it means to be successful. Twisty end, somewhat entertaining but I’m on the fence with my recommendation. Author Jonathon Evison has an awesome way with words but for me the story dragged and I lost interest. It was more like a short story stretched into a book. 

The Ever After


Josie Moore, a typical stay at home mom, living in the Chicago suburbs thinks her life is idyllic. She knows marriage to Frank is not always perfect but its hers and they are blessed with two gorgeous little girls. One Saturday when she is frazzled and Frank runs into Starbucks to get them coffee, Josie notices a message on his phone and her life is turned upside down. Clueless and naive, Josie’s world is shattered as she realizes there is a part of Frank’s life that she knows nothing about. All the plans she ever had for her marriage and their family are destroyed and Josie cannot see the future clearly anymore. Any insecure self doubt she had harbored as a young girl and every argument they have ever had takes center stage. Author Sarah Pekkanen has once again written a thoughtful, easy to read novel about the unpredictable twists and turns life may throw our way. This one felt only too real and maybe I have the - it’s not you, it’s me syndrome - and perhaps a book club would have field day tearing this one apart, but I found it sadly depressing. I know this happens, probably every day, I just don’t feel like being entertained by it. Absolutely a well written book with excellent characters, it just has to be something you are in the mood for. #notmysummerread

Sweet Filthy Boy


When Mia and her best friends Harlow and Lola go to Vegas after their college graduation their lives are turned upside down. What happens in Vegas doesn’t exactly stay in Vegas as Mia wakes up with a wedding ring on her finger. Her sexy, gorgeous, sweet, husband is lying next to her and inviting her to spend the summer in France. Normally Mia is the girl that never does anything out of the ordinary and follows her demanding father’s path to success, but finding Ansel irresistible she decides just this once to give destiny a chance. Mia scrambles off to have the summer of her dreams and finds more than she ever imagined possible. After recently enjoying Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren, I decided to reach back to one of their popular series I had never tried. Well, here is the 50 Shades-ish book I had been looking for. What a treat for a hot summer day, and lucky for me - its a trilogy. This just keeps getting better, ha! If you’d like to spend the day in Paris, this adorable, delicious, easy to read fantasy will be happy to take you there for free, maybe just hide the cover from the kids :-)

The Book of Essie


Essie Hicks is part of a religious reality tv sensation that literally is her life. Her father is the famous evangelist whose sermons are watched by millions. Her controlling mother secretly runs the show while Essie and her five siblings have been viewed daily their entire lives. Every word they say and move they make is scripted, edited and cut to form the image that is Six for Hicks. When Essie, barely 17 years old finds out she is pregnant, Celia, her mother falls into full action mode. It is decided that Essie will be married to a local boy who is an outstanding student hiding secrets of his own. What started out as a disaster may be Essie’s escape to independence and revenge and Roarke Richards is the perfect husband to help her. Pulling the puppet strings gets easier as Essie has TV journalist Liberty Bell in her pocket. Liberty, who has her own demons on her trail desperately wants to help Essie find the freedom her family has destroyed. This twisted absolutely original story had me on the edge of my seat. It is an unputdownable page turner about family, trust and the insane obsession of reality television, that is anything but real. Highly recommend this well written, perfect summer read. It is a FIVE STAR MUST!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Lost Family


Peter Rashkin escaped the horrors of WWII but not the devastating memories of losing his beautiful young wife and twin baby girls. After moving to NYC and being taken in by cousins Sol and Ruth, Peter became a successful chef and works night and day avoiding any meaningful relationships. One day Peter unexpectedly meets June Bouquet. She is twenty years his junior, a cover model and devastatingly beautiful. Their future is a rollercoaster of emotions and they eventually marry and have a daughter Elspeth. Always polite, handsome Peter is continually withdrawn and June becomes lonely and restless, looking for life outside their marriage and their home. This latest novel by author Jenna Blum is well written and an interesting peek into a marriage that is being destroyed by the past, a ghost of a family and a tragedy that cannot compete with everyday life. I like this storyline and the characters were well defined but midway it started to drag and by the time it took a most bizarre twist (near the end) my interest had already begun to wane. Solid good but didn’t love.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Happiness for Beginners


Helen Carpenter is about to embark on a journey that she is hoping will change her life. She is 32, divorced and all around pretty miserable. Helen is not just single, she is alone. After an unexpected debacle with her younger brother Duncan, Helen learns that his best friend Jake is also signed up for the survival course she is attending. Her adventure of a lifetime now tainted with Jake needing a ride to Wyoming, not off to a great start. On the long car ride Helen meets a different Jake. While her dreams of a happy marriage were shattering, Jake grew up - a lot. When they meet up with the group, Helen realizes this frat party atmosphere with college students 10 years younger is definitely not what she expected. Despite her reservations, she submits all her strength, mind and body - to the extreme 3 week challenge and tries to leave her petty anger on the bus. In order to make real change, Helen knows no-one can do this for her. For the first time, she becomes her own leader. Through the painful ups and downs of this arduous journey she finds her strength and the truth. After being mesmerized by How to Walk Away by Katherine Center, I immediately began to search out her other novels. After starting, I recognized how hauntingly familiar this trip sounded. My son accomplished a NOLS challenge a few years ago and I was mesmerized by his stories. Add in the delicious romance thrown in by this author, it turns out she did one years ago as well! Maybe I should start living my life instead of just reading about it? Highly recommend this absolutely perfect summer read. #onesitting  #unputdownable

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Garden of Small Beginnings


Four years after her husbands death Lili is still putting the pieces of her life back together. After recovering from her breakdown, she manages to keep a steady rhythm while caring for her two beautiful young daughters, venting to her best friend kind of nutty sister Rachel and enjoying her comfortable job as an illustrator. When Lili is asked to design a gardening manual she signs them all up for a course at the botanical gardens to learn the very basics. The class is a group of misfits all there for different reasons. As they bond and get their hands rather dirty Lili’s world is turned upside down by a budding romance  she no longer thought was possible. Wracked with guilt Lili must choose whether she will grow towards the light like the garden or wither in the past. A story with a rather sad premise actually plants some very lovely seeds of life that remind you to always stop what you are doing and smell the roses. Life is meant to be lived and loved every single day. Highly recommend this enjoyable read perfect for summer with some gardening tips thrown in for good measure!

The She Was Gone


Ellie disappeared 10 years ago. Her mother Laurel has not given up hope as she never had any real closure. One day Ellie was a beautiful 15 year old girl who left the house for the library and was never seen again. Laurel’s other two children could not wait to escape the pain in their home and her marriage quickly crumbled with the nightmare of losing a child. Years later she unexpectedly begins a relationship with Floyd and he seems just too good to be true. Floyd is charming and smart and their instant chemistry blossoms in and out of the bedroom. His daughter Poppy is a precocious 9 year old who bares a striking resemblance to Ellie. Laurel is both mesmerized and haunted by their similarities and as the story unfolds the truth of Ellie and buried secrets of the past come full circle. This easy to read twisted psycho thriller is a perfect creepy story for a rainy day. Always a fan of Lisa Jewel, I highly recommend her latest book to add to your summer list!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Love and Other Words


Macy bumps into Elliot after more than a decade of silence - she is stunned by a rush of emotions and love she thought was abandoned long ago. After losing her mom at a young age, Macy and her dad clung to each other salvaging the small family they cherished. A weekend home in the wine country was their humble retreat; reading books, hiking, sitting by the fire. For Macy, the added delight was the Petropoulos family next door. A big bustling group complete with four gorgeous boys and a terrific mom and dad. Elliot, the youngest, quickly becoming Macy’s very best friend. For years the pair were inseparable but as nature took its course the friendship blossomed to first love and first everything’s. 12 years later Macy is a pediatric resident in the city, her father is gone and her lonely existence is filled with work and tepid relationships. When Elliot unexpectedly appears in a coffee shop Macy’s life is turned upside down. Their connection is immediate and irresistible, her heart racing to take control. Told in alternating chapters of their childhood and the present day, Elliot learns the truth and Macy must decide if love can truly conquer all. Absolutely devoured this sweet, fast paced delightful novel. The beauty and power of young love and choices we make every day after. Fabulous read to get lost in on a summer day at the beach!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Love and Ruin


As a determined, smart, and independent young woman, Martha Gellhorn ventured out on her own to follow her dreams and become a writer. Starting with the Spanish Civil War in 1937, she is drawn to the stories of average people and devastatingly young soldiers. She is starstruck upon meeting and befriending none other than Ernest Hemingway and knows at that moment her life will never be the same. After years of travel, writing and the rollercoaster of emotions that goes along with being the third wife of Hemingway Martha feels she is slowly melting away into the background that is his life. When she can no longer define her work or their marriage she turns to her love of journalism and goes to Europe at the worst possible moment to become the only woman at Normandy on D-Day and one of the first to report from Dachau after the camp was liberated. The unprecedented work of Martha Gellhorn, combined with her great passion for the great writer is told beautifully by author Paula McLain. Just as I felt with her telling of Hemingway’s first wife (The Paris Wife) this controversial genius had met his match with Martha and I devoured every single page of their stormy romance. Highly recommend this fantastic work of historical fiction - a must read this summer!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Limelight


The Brinkley family has moved from Dallas to the Big Apple! Michael quickly begins at the law firm while Allison dodges boxes in their small apartment and gets three kids ready for school. She doesn’t know who is more nervous, her or them. After years of imagining the lights of Broadway, New York and its overwhelming chaos of noise and people has Allison running on an adrenaline frenzy trying to fit in. When she unexpectedly starts working as a personal assistant for a talented but spoiled pop star (think Justin Bieber) as he prepares for his first musical, her life zooms out of control in directions she had never dreamed. Filled with great humor, this story portrays a frenetic world starring this hilarious and lovable family. Allison’s grit and determination to succeed and actually like their life in New York (even if it kills her) is a wonderful story with a trove of buried treasures. Just as I felt reading her first novel Small Admissions (which I LOVED) I am betting the bizarre escapades are more realistic than most people can even believe! I laughed and loved this latest novel by author Amy Poeppel. From start to finish, each catastrophe just barely averted only to quickly lead to another. Definitely recommend this enjoyable, fast paced summer read about life in the big city. Grab your beach chair and enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2018

How to Walk Away


Margaret has meticulously planned her future. One successful step forward always leading to the next big accomplishment. With handsome fiance in hand, dream job waiting and townhouse purchased, she could not have been more devastated the day it was all taken away. A tragic accident leaves Margaret reexamining everything she has ever believed and each and every person she loves. Filled with unexpected humor and an abundance of hope, her long lost sister Kit rescues her from self pity and pushes Margaret to dig (really) deep and forge ahead. I read this fast paced, funny, thoughtful, emotional novel in one long sitting. It is completely unputdownable, thought provoking and heartwarming. Like the train wreck of Me Before You, the reader cannot look away and will be mesmerized by every single page of this beautiful story. Trust me reader friends, this is one you cannot miss.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Husband Hour


Lauren Adelman grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, summers at the shore, idolizing her older beautiful sister Stephanie and trying hard to fit in at her local highschool. After unexpectedly capturing the heart of the most popular star of the winning hockey team, her life couldn’t seem more perfect. Rory and Lauren fell in love and after some rocky years separated by college, they finally marry. Their storybook romance takes a horrible turn when Rory leaves the NHL and the life they have built to join the armed forces. When tragedy strikes Lauren is widowed. Most young women are just beginning their lives and hers, abruptly ended, is filled with sadness and weighed by guilt. Lauren hides away and lives a barely there existence. One summer a handsome film maker approaches Lauren and after years of turning down all media inquiries about Rory, she is inclined to speak for the first time. Matt helps Lauren reexamine her past and turn her grief into forgiveness. After all she has lost, her relationships with her parents, sister and nephew teach Lauren about what she still has. This is a beautiful story about young love and a family turned upside down by secrets, jealousy and loss. Definitely recommend this enjoyable summer read. 

We'll Always Have Paris


Rosie and Peter meet in art college. She has led a rather hum drum middle of the road existence and dreads the idea of becoming her mother. Their young love affair is intense, Rosie’s first everything. They dream of a life in Paris, as artists, together, forever. But Peter’s well off family drags him away for the summer and he does not return. Rosie moves on with her life, marries, raises a family - her dreams of art, Peter and Paris disintegrating as if they never existed. 47 years later as fate would have it, Rosie and Peter are unexpectedly reunited. Their immediate attraction is still there but Rosie is struggling to find that young girl she abandoned, that free spirit she once consumed. This beautiful story is filled with questions about love, trust and connection to the people closest to you. Its interesting to ponder whether ones youthful feelings of love are fleeting or remain in your heart always. Its amazing how you see people through the eyes of the time in your life that you were closest with them. Whether its childhood or college years, they seem to know the younger you, maybe the one you have slowly forgotten. The other fabulous story line describes Rosie’s complete commitment to her daughters, often forgetting her own self, seemingly unfair that they cannot see her for the whole person she is, only as their mother. Highly recommend this sweet, thoughtful enjoyable novel by author Sue Watson. A perfect read for summer.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Pachinko


Sunja is the only child of a poor Korean family. They run a boardinghouse in a small coastal village and just barely get by during hard times in the early 1900’s.  After an unexpected pregnancy Sunja marries a kind traveling minister who is on his way to Japan. She follows him and begins a new life with his brothers family, befriending her sister in law and together raising her beautiful boys. In this foreign land these Korean exiles, of which there are many, have minimal rights and no citizenship. Decades later after WWII they are still searching for their identity as North Korea becomes unattainable and the South more and more unfamiliar. Sunja’s children’s children are still struggling with language barriers, cultural differences and intermarriage acceptance in a land they have a hard time calling home. Author Min Jin Lee’s writing is beautiful and a pleasure to read. The history lesson coincides with a lot I learned on a recent trip to Hong Kong. My book club unanimously agreed it led to great discussion. One bit of criticism - it is long and you feel it. I think it could have been at least 100 pages less and would have had equal impact.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Female Persuasion


Greer is pissed off from the moment she arrives at her second rate college instead of Yale. Her inattentive parents neglected their portion of paperwork and her dreams flew out the window. Now her high school sweetheart Cory is hours away at Princeton living the life, as she sulks around campus considering her future. Greer attends a lecture by the famous Faith Frank, an icon in the women’s movement. This speaker is beautiful, smart and doing all she can to make a difference. Greer is mesmerized as she yearns for the day she can shed her insecurity, become a writer and accomplish something meaningful. For more than 100 pages Greer’s feelings of inadequacy, fear and resentment tumble forward. Described in depth are her high school years, subsequent long distance romance with Cory, their small home-town and his bizarre family. Post college years continue in a similar fashion. Chapter after chapter of disappointment and loneliness. I have read and loved author Meg Wolitzer’s work and was so excited to read this latest best seller. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me. My preconceived notion of this novel focusing on women’s issues was not at all as I expected. Great writing but a choppy story that dragged and left me nowhere. Sad face.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

No Time to Blink


Catherine Clarke is the right girl from the right family. Raised in a wealthy town in Connecticut, she is expected to marry the male version of herself. But Catherine defies all the rules when she falls head over heels in love with Gabriel. Gabe is a charming, handsome, Lebanese businessman that Catherine cannot resist. When they quickly marry and Catherine gets pregnant, their love story pushes all boundaries. With little choice in the matter, Catherine is slowly controlled and coerced to move to Gabe’s homeland. He is her husband and she naively dreams of a happy marriage as long as they are lovingly together. Once abroad Gabe dramatically reverts to his more conservative upbringing in a culture where the wife has no say even on the smallest decisions. As Catherine tolerates their dwindling relationship Gabe becomes more threatening and Catherine devises a plan to return to the U.S. The protection of the law is not on her side and even her phone calls are being tracked. Alone and afraid, Catherine does whatever it takes to keep her daughter safe. Told by alternating characters, Catherine’s story and Ann Marie’s future self learn about love, family and secrets the hard way. Well developed characters and fast paced suspense make No Time to Blink by author Dina Silver a must read. Could not put down this glimpse into another land where even the simplest gift in life has a price we cannot afford to pay.

My Oxford Year


Ella from Ohio is living the dream. Her dream, specifically, since she was 13 years old. To go to Oxford. She is a young political dynamo and recently named Rhodes Scholar doing her graduate studies at a college she has only visited in her imagination. Knowing she has a limited amount of time, Ella is determined to soak up every moment of her year in England. Castles, tea and the ghosts of every famous author she has spent a lifetime loving. Lost in Oxford’s immense history she soon becomes equally captivated by a pair of baby blue’s belonging to her professor, Jamie Davenport. He is the type of brilliant, romantic and beautiful man with a throng of women at his feet, the ideal mate for her fairytale fantasy. As we follow Ella on her humorous, thoughtful, journey she learns about the beauty of freedom and value of choice. Most importantly, when her tough exterior begins to crack, Ella learns more than English literature, she discovers the truth about her very own heart. This entertaining, well written love story/adventure abroad enveloped me in a fine mist of dreams and more dreams. Because it is never ever too late to follow them.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

An American Marriage


Celestial and Roy are briefly introduced in college but a few years after graduation an unlikely encounter brings them together and they quickly fall in love. Although from different backgrounds they are both intelligent, passionate people who live and love deeply. Roy encourages Celestial, an artist, to follow her dreams while he climbs the corporate ladder quickly. They leave their Atlanta home for a short visit to Roy’s parents in a very small town in the deep South. They stay at a motel for the night. The police barge into their room and Roy is falsely accused of a crime. He is railroaded and sentenced to 12 years in prison. While the newlyweds marriage slowly disintegrates, dreams and futures are placed on hold. Can career, children, family and love wait 12 long years? Author Tayari Jones brings us a story of marriage, family and racism that is undeniably beautiful and tragic at the same time. The reader can easily imagine each and every character, rooting for them all, knowing in the end there will be a price to pay. Tayari Jones wastes no words and no time. I love this book from first page to last and think it should be required reading. Do not miss this one reader friends!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Every Note Played


Karina escaped her mundane village in Poland with her god given talent as a pianist. At a young age she understood this was her ticket to another life. As an independent beautiful young woman this was not an easy journey. Alone and afraid she made it to the U.S. and a well known music school where she was quickly labeled the best. Romance with fellow pianist Richard quickly led to marriage and a quiet competition to follow their musical destiny. Young and in love Karina follows Richard to a post in Boston, motherhood and the end of her days sitting at the piano. Years later with her daughter away at college and a much anticipated divorce, Karina finds herself very alone. Richard, an extremely famous pianist has been recently diagnosed with ALS. It hits hard and fast. He has a daughter he hasn’t spoken to, girlfriends that have come and gone and an ex-wife that hates him. He, who thought he was triumphant, finds himself alone and unable to manage and very very angry. This novel is about dreams that come crashing down when marriage, career, health and all the choices one makes along the way do not align with the stars or ones future plans. Author Lisa Genova has (once again) taught me a great deal, left me hyperventilating and reminds us to be grateful for every breath, every day. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Nothing Forgotten


Many a young romantic’s dream, to travel the world after college, secure a job, share an adorable flat with a scandalous Brit in Rome and fall madly in love … with a handsome, sexy, engaged, older man. Assured that a woman on the side is often the Italian way, At 22, Anna cannot help herself and falls deeply in love with her boss at the language school. She quickly let’s go of her inhibitions and her heart. When Sergio orchestrates Anna’s weekends so he can spend more time with her, she unapologetically befriends the unsuspecting fiance. After a complicated year, a wedding and a heart shattered in a million pieces, she leaves Rome. Twenty-five years later Sergio contacts her. Anna must decide if she can share her deepest darkest secrets that may change her life forever. I read this story of romance and family, loyalty and deception in one single sitting. I didn’t always love the characters or their choices or the rush-to-the-finish ending but found the thread of time and setting in Rome mesmerizing. When there is a fork in the road your history is being created and future determined. Also, the notion that when we are with loved ones from our past we can once again see through the eyes of that younger self. Enjoyable, well written, delicious Italian love story.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Somebody's Daughter


Gazing off the balcony at the perfectly clear blue sky above crashing waves, the Ross family seems picture perfect. Parents Bobby and Emma are stable, smart and still in madly love. Their beautiful twins Zoe and Lily are typical teens worried about friends and selfies. The Ross’s run and live in a successful, swanky hotel on Miami Beach. Life just couldn’t get any sweeter. At the girls 15th birthday party a nasty text message is sent, video attached. Emma accidentally overhears friends gossiping in the restroom and knows in that instant, their lives will never be the same again. Author Rochelle B. Weinstein takes us on a painful journey through one families struggle to admit the agonizing truth about their daughter and find their way to forgiveness. Narrated from Emma’s perspective Somebody’s Daughter takes on one of life’s most challenging issues of parenting; our children out in the world making mistakes - while the parents learn they can’t always protect them. My heart was immersed in these characters as they dealt with issues that hit way too close to home. This is the digitally raised generation and the simple life lessons we were once taught seem to have been deleted with the push of a button. Cyberbullying and Cyber Sexual Harassment have become epidemic and is never too many degrees from our lives, as our phones are never far from our fingers. Highly recommend this extraordinary, relevant, well written story of love, fear, family and trust. Almost too much to consider with all the “what if’s” spinning through my mind. A perfect book club selection with endless discussion possibilities. A must read.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

You Think It, I'll Say It


You write it, I’ll read it. Short stories are hard (for me) to read and even harder to review. If they are good, I get so caught up with the characters I am deeply disappointed when the story quickly ends. But that is also the lure, because I want more, so I keep going. Ten short stories by fabulous author Curtis Sittenfeld. She captures the essence of what is going on in the world that affects our daily choices, big and small. Love, friendship, gender, funny, sad, thoughtful. I absolutely loved her last two novels, love her exquisite writing that feels so true and relevant. Highly recommend this quick fix while I patiently wait for more.

The Light We Lost


There should be a warning label on this book that readers will not rise from their chair/couch/bed until they have finished the very last page of this mesmerizing, captivating, intimate novel about love. Lucy and Gabe met senior year at Columbia. There is an unexplainable attraction and chemistry that drags them through 13 years of imaginable love, pain and desire. They are friends, they are lovers. They are available. They are not available. They follow their own paths determined to fulfill their youthful expectations of changing/saving the world. Gabe becomes a photojournalist traveling to dangerous war zones. Lucy produces wonderful educational shows for children. She is a wife and adoring mother. Gabe is never far from her thoughts. No-one really understands the magnetism that draws them together over and over through the years, across all distances. Author Jill Santopolo’s writing is magnificent. She is quietly whispering their love story in your ear. The reader strains closer and closer to hear every word. It is hypnotic. All of the choices we make over a lifetime is part of the journey. Each one another step in only one direction, our future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

It Happens All the Time


Amber and Tyler have been friends since childhood. They have trusted each other through difficult and dark times. Amber suffered a traumatic anorexic near death experience in high school and Tyler never left her side. Amber went away to college and struggled to rebuild her life. Happy, finally, she is engaged to a great guy and returns home after graduation for the summer. Tyler is a paramedic. He loves his job and is good at it. Tyler has been pining for Amber all these years and hopes this summer is his chance to win back her heart. An unexpected drunken incident at a party changes their world forever. Told in alternating voices, their lives are turned upside down. It makes sense to hear and feel both sides to the story from the beginning. What you see through your own eyes and memory may be completely different from the person right next you. I can appreciate this now looking back on the novel, I’d say it was well done, but I did not enjoy the read. Mostly because I really did not like the main character, Amber. Definitely look forward to reading more from author Amy Hatvany.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

White Hot Hack


Kate and Ian are finally married, starting over, a new life with new names. Ian is still hacking away but started a new business with hopes that his dark enemies believe he is dead. Only Kate’s immediate family knows her location. They are young and in love and although Ian’s work has always kept him on the edge, his love and protection of Kate takes precedence. Kate starts to help with his new security company. She finds she is pretty good at this undercover detective work and naturally loves all the time she gets to spend with Ian. Unfortunately, the bad guys are still stalking them and there will never be a moments peace until they are caught. This exciting sequel to author Tracey Garvis Graves, 2015 hit Heart Shaped Hack was an excellent follow up and quick fun read. A mix of love, mystery and computer hacking - a good amount of suspense and romance. Highly recommend this read and all of this author’s books. I call them my fillers. Dependably enjoyable every time (I even read On the Island twice - and I NEVER do that!) Check them out! http://traceygarvisgraves.com/

The Summer I Met Jack


Alicia is working at the movie theater candy counter in Hyannisport, MA. It is 1950 and this young, beautiful Polish woman has already lived a lifetime. Torn from her family, placed in a convent to hide from the Nazi’s, Alicia survived and made her way to America. She changes her name, her hair color and sets her sights on success. Hyannisport is synonymous with Kennedy and while working at the local movie theater meets non other than the very eligible, handsome senator Jack. Known as a ladies man he is instantly taken with this beauty and her European know how. Alicia is impassioned about art, literature, languages - her bright outlook and easygoing nature capture Jack’s attention and even that of his family, who naturally control every move he makes. They are briefly engaged, there may or may not have been a child. There is love, years of threats and a lifetime of regrets. Based on the captivating life of Alicia Corning Clark, who was married multiple times, ultimately widowed and left a very wealthy woman. She left some mystery behind, trailing the many theories regarding every Kennedy. I loved the history and secrets to which we will most likely never know the answers but I have to admit I felt like the writing was rushed. As much as I enjoyed the “story” the conversations and accents felt unnatural and forced. For me, this novel just didn’t flow.

Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties


When Maggie’s husband Adam walks out the door after 30 years of marriage it is a shock but may be a blessing in disguise. Adam is handsome, successful and an excellent father - but the passion has been missing for quite some time. Maggie regrets letting things go a little, especially in the intimacy department - that has all but disappeared after three decades as a homemaker and two of them laser focused solely on her children. Having never contemplated anything except a safe, dependable retirement, Maggie finds herself terrified of being alone for the first time. A natural worrier of all mishaps, Maggie had never contemplated life on her own, let alone getting back into the dating game. She long ago abandoned her career and her children have grown and flown. Maggie vaguely remembers her independent girl self from years ago, now she is determined to go and find her. Loved this easy read. I seem to be on a mid life (let’s leave out “crisis”) theme of books. Gee, wonder why. I liked author Camille Pagan's writing. Look forward to reading more of her work.