Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Idea of You


Solene Marchand, a sophisticated art gallery owner in Los Angeles takes her daughter and a few friends to see a boy band called “August Moon” in Vegas. Her ex-husband won the tickets at an auction but at the last moment is too busy with his girlfriend and work to take the girls himself. From the moment they land everywhere they turn is a loud, packed venue of hysterical young girls. When they have the opportunity to meet the band behind the scenes, Solene leans off to the side, allowing the fans their moment in the spotlight. She unexpectedly catches the eye of the lead singer Hayes. He is handsome and sexy and - OMG - she could be his mother, why is this young man staring at her! After a ridiculous phone number exchange, a supposedly innocent lunch turns into a roller coaster ride hotter than fifty shades. In addition to being famous around the globe, Hayes is sweet and smart and considerate. He is also only twenty. But chemistry is a funny thing, and as Solene rediscovers passion, excitement and happiness, she realizes how lonely she has been since her divorce. The problem is; what will the rest of the world think? What will her daughter think? This was an unexpected little treat that I stumbled upon and COULD NOT PUT DOWN. Well written, fun and totally sexy read will surprise even the harshest critics. Beach reads don’t get better than this!

Very Nice


Rachel Klein is a fairly plain girl from a wealthy Connecticut family. Her investment banker father recently left her mother Becca for a much younger woman named Mandy. Nineteen year old Rachel goes home for summer break to work in a local camp and brings along her writing professor’s dog whom she promised to look after. Rachel has an obsessive crush on the handsome professor, Zahid, a writer suffering from his enormous ego. The professor bizarrely moves in with the family and begins an affair with Becca. The woman he sublet his apartment to is the father’s assistant. And so on. And so on. Each chapter is more confusing than the last. What started out as a quirky, funny story went downhill fast as the author brought in extraneous characters desperately trying to weave together seven degrees of separation. Sorry folks, I wish I had better news to report but this one was not a winner for me.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Meet Me in Monaco


Sophie Duval is a beautiful and elegant perfumer in the south of France. She has taken over her beloved father’s business after the war. As Sophie struggles with business debt, a drunken spiteful mother and manipulating boyfriend, she serendipitously meets none other than Grace Kelly. Chased by the paparazzi into Sophie’s boutique in Cannes, the two women strike up an unexpectedly sweet friendship. When Miss Kelly sets the date to marry Prince Rainier, Sophie is given the opportunity to design the perfect wedding fragrance and turn her business around. In another twist of fate the handsome English photographer that did the chasing, James Henderson, enters Sophie’s life and strengthens her resolve to fight for her perfume and believe in herself. Filled with pages of the beautiful lavender fields in Grasse, the complicated art of perfumery and the magnificent wedding detail of American actress Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier of Monaco, this novel is a delightful traipse through time. TIP: Story feels a bit contrived and haphazardly ends but it is lovely if you are a francophile and/or Grace Kelly fan.

We Are All Good People Here


Eva and Daniella meet as roommates at Belmont College in the fall of 1962. Daniella grew up in Georgetown and Eva, Atlanta. Both beautiful and smart they quickly realize they see the world through distinctly different glasses. While they are busy pledging sorority on their pampered little campus, other college students are risking their lives to fight injustice and the right to vote. After freshman year the girls transfer to Columbia, in NYC, where Daniella feels they can change the world and break out of this privileged cocoon. It is surprisingly  southern belle Eva that leans towards an extremely radical group and gets mixed up in a web of freedom fighters that turn her life upside down. Across thirty years we watch Eva and Daniella hold on desperately to their thread of friendship; through marriage and parenting, women’s lib, racism and just about anything else the author could manage to throw in the pot. This story starts strong with a college bond that is memorable and relatable and then it is strewn in a thousand different directions. After following the maze and (too) many years of characters, I was exhausted and after admitting I never liked either one of them very much to begin with, just wanted this rollercoaster to end. Sorry folks, it may have the coolest cover ever but this read did not work for me.

Monday, August 12, 2019

All the Flowers in Paris

It is a beautiful spring day when Caroline awakens in a Paris hospital. Lucky to be alive after a horrible bike accident, Caroline is filled with fear when she realizes she neither knows her name, where she lives, or that the year is 2009. Hoping her brain heals quickly, all she can really do is begin to put the pieces of her life back together again. Grateful for the smallest daily pleasures, Caroline sadly learns she had no friends or close family, she lived a reclusive bitter existence. Beginning to enjoy a newfound friendship with the handsome owner of the local bistro, Caroline is not sure she wants to return to her old life and the loneliness that lived there. With the serendipitous discovery of letters hidden in her apartment from another time, she has different puzzle to put together. Caroline learns that while the Nazi’s occupied Paris the lovely widow Celine, her daughter Cosi and her father lived in the very same apartment. They ran an exclusive florist shop until an evil officer became overly enamored with Celine and threatened everything the small family treasured. As Caroline confronts her own past and present, she learns that love, beauty and even people can withstand the test of time. New beginnings are possible if you plant the seeds and give them a chance to bloom. Highly recommend this enjoyable, well written novel from bestselling author Sarah Jio. If you’ve got time for one more summer read, this is it!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Art of Racing in the Rain


A semi-professional race car driver named Denny Swift adopts a terrier/lab, the pick of the litter, and names him Enzo. From the beginning Enzo has his favorite television show (Speedchannel) and favorite food (pancakes). He listens carefully, learns quickly and believes he is just one step away from being reincarnated as a human man in his next life. After Denny’s wife Eve gets sick, his world comes crashing down and it is his faithful companion who teaches his master how to stay on track and win the race. Perfectly narrated by Enzo himself - you will be mesmerized by this laugh out loud and deeply meaningful look at life’s beauty and sadness from a wholly different perspective. With Enzo’s voice as Kevin Costner (too perfect!) the story comes alive on August 9th!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Nickel Boys


Elwood Curtis, raised by his loving grandmother, spends his days sweeping the floor at the cigar shop and getting straight A’s at school. It is the early 1960’s in Tallahassee, Florida and as Elwood plays the speeches of Martin Luther King over and over again on the turntable, he dreams of college and a brighter future for all. He is raised on good manners, kindness and hope. Sadly, on the first day of a college class that he has proudly gained entrance, Elwood is detained and mistakenly sent to a juvenile detention center called The Nickel Academy. With no means to fight this archaic system filled with prejudice and a sadistic self serving staff, Elwood and his only friend Turner, struggle to survive and plan their escape. These boys are beaten, raped, lied to and stolen from. Most boys barely survive and those who do not are labeled as run-aways. Based on an actual reform school called Dozier, which closed in 2011, University of South Florida archaeology students have discovered remains of many bodies mysteriously buried nearby and evidence of the brutality that made up this “school” for boys. This well written, painful look at America’s past (and present) is another novel by author Colson Whitehead that simply cannot be missed. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Paris, 7 A.M.


In June 1937, American poet Elizabeth Bishop, travels to Europe with friends after graduation from Vassar. Easily falling into an upper echelon group of both expatriates and patrons of the arts, Elizabeth explores her writing and sexuality during a grave time in history. As war looms throughout Europe, Elizabeth questions her own abilities and friendships with this mixed troupe of characters. For three weeks, this life long journal keeper’s diaries are blank. These fictionalized weeks are imagined by author Liza Weiland who poetically tells of Elizabeth’s adventures and many famous relationships. Flashing back to her years at Vassar and her sad, lonely childhood, we are quickly immersed in Elizabeth’s heart and the beginning of her life as a poet. Unfortunately, this novel is scattered with too many unimportant characters and events filling the pages. After intimate, excruciating daily detail, the storyline races to the finish, ultimately skipping years and then decades, and finally losing its focus and my interest.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Gifted School


Four families in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado find themselves fighting for a few precious spots in the new “gifted school” being built. They have been friends for years but there is not as much competition in baby wipes compared to travel soccer (best in the state) and IQ tests required for this new program. As the competition to read younger, speak foreign languages and perform on and off the field increases each year, so do the buried secrets and escalating lies. Through painful divorce, untimely death and the financial strains of keeping up with the Jones’s - these families desperately struggle to maintain the close friendship they once treasured. Well written and with uncanny humor, this fictionalized reality is filled with our absurd race to nowhere and the reminder that it is vitally important to re-examine ones parenting behavior on and offline. Enjoyable read and filled with scary truth, I highly recommend this clever summer novel!

The Arrangement


Natalie is an art student in NYC, chasing her dreams and escaping the small town life she grew up in. She barely scrapes by and has little support from her remarried mother and dad who disappeared when she was ten. Waiting tables at a bar and harassed daily for her late rent payments, Nat has become desperate. When Ava, a beautiful, well dressed, seemingly well-off fellow art student quietly whispers her magical secret Nat may finally have the solution. There is a web site where wealthy older men want companionship and offer a monthly allowance in return. Sex is not required and love is not an option. Breaking all the rules, Nat meets Gabe. She falls in love and while this may or may not be fantasy world for others, she is mesmerized by his every move and the family he is hiding. Nat drinks too much, wallowing in her self pity and deep desire to be taken care of and supported by someone. She entwines herself deeper in his life and unintentionally sets off a string of events that will turn their worlds upside down. Sex, intrigue and murder fill the pages of this latest summer thriller. I read it in one sitting.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

We Came Here To Forget


Katie Cleary has been skiing since she learned to walk. Raised in Couer d’Alene, a city in North Idaho, Katie is plucked out early as a champion and trains with her two best friends, Luke and Blair - two local brothers. They are VERY good and have what it takes to win. As they grow, Luke and Katie become an inseparable power skiing couple, deluged with sponsors, world travel and their eyes on the prize, the Olympics. Everything is about skiing until Katie’s sister Penny begins to unravel. A dark history of lies and manipulations comes to light and Katie, heavy with guilt that her parents favored the superstar, feels she must be there for Penny, even if it means sacrificing everything. Katie escapes to Buenos Aires. She creates an alternate life as Liz, surrounding herself with a hodgepodge group of expats and the world of tango. No matter how hard she tries Katie cannot escape her past or the black cloud that now follows her tracks. Narrated by both Katie and Liz, this stunning, fast paced novel will have you on the edge of your seat. Immerse yourself into the worlds of competitive skiing and tango and the complicated strains of family - you will not put down this fabulous summer read. Loved this author and can't wait to check out her other books!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Breathe In, Cash Out


Allegra Cobb always strived for the top tier. Princeton for college, exceptional internship and now the fast track as an analyst at an esteemed bank in Manhattan. The days and nights are long as Allegra pastes on a fake smile and creates useless material for ungrateful bosses. The high of attaining any goals she once had disappear from sustained exhaustion, fear and repeating the word team as many times as possible. The only rainbow in sight is the pot of gold on bonus day and as Allegra enters the last phase before her pod mates are handed their fate she decides it is time to follow her heart and wake to a job she has long coveted; to become a yoga instructor. As she secretly prepares with a wily coach named Skylar, Allegra learns more about the pursuit of real happiness than any follow on instagram could possibly reveal. Fall in love with Allegra and this laugh out loud glimpse into the fast paced world of Wall Street with just a sprinkle of romance and a lot of heart. Perfect for a day at the beach! This debut author is most certainly one to watch.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

By the Book


Anne Corey is an attractive English professor at a small prestigious college in California. Goal #1 is to get tenure and enjoy her literature teachings endlessly. On track and determined to get published, Anne’s plan begins to unravel when her ex and first love Adam Martinez shows up as the new college president. Preoccupied with her ailing father, obnoxious sister and the new (very sexy) writer in residence, Anne has to work even harder to stay focused and out of trouble. This ode to the Austen classic Persuasion will have you infatuated with books and romance all the day long. Once again, I am a sucker and completely enthralled with any books about books!

Evvie Drake Starts Over


Evvie (rhymes with Chevy) Drake lives in a small town in Maine. Her mother skipped off to Florida years ago and her father, a lobsterman, struggled to raise her on his own. After marrying her high school sweetheart, the “doctor,” Evvie’s world is tragically turned upside down when a horrific accident throws her life plans completely off course. She takes in a handsome tenant named Dean to offset expenses and embarks on the most unexpected friendship with this baseball superstar that mysteriously lost his pitching powers. As the truth about friendship, marriage and self acceptance slowly come into focus, so do second chances. A breezy page turner filled with delicious characters that will surely be a home run this summer.

Magic For Liars


Ivy and Tabitha Gamble may be twins but they could not be more different. Ivy, a private Investigator, has been hired by Osthorne Academy of Mages where Tabitha is an established professor of Theoretical Magic. Resenting Tabitha for her troubles and the early loss of their mother, Ivy has kept her distance for many years. While Tabitha flourished in the world of charms and potions, Ivy struggled with her career and loneliness. A hideous murder has taken place at the academy and it is Ivy’s job to solve the case and see clearly through the very magic that has cast a spell over her entire life. With a little bit of Hogwart’s wizardry and whodunit mystery, this beach read is a magical ride.