Thursday, September 17, 2020

Magic Lessons


And now we go back to the beginning. Hannah Owens lives a quiet life in the woods of rural England. In the 1600’s it is of the utmost importance that she keep her powers and gifts of healing an absolute secret - her life depends on it. Witchcraft is a crime and it doesn’t take much to hang a woman with no husband and an inexplicable ability in the Unnamed Arts. Hannah finds an abandoned baby in the woods. Maria is special and Hannah raises her with love and all the lessons she will need to survive in this world. Some years later Maria is sent on a ship to the Caribbean and she falls in love. Following this stranger to Salem, Massachusetts she finds herself in the heart of a world that has no tolerance for beauty, love and most certainly not for witchcraft. This magical series began with modern day Practical Magic (also a fabulous movie!), then came The Rules of Magic and now we finally learn how the Owens family began. Highly recommend this bewitching series that will set your imagination on fire! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Last Story of Mina Lee


Margot Lee is a young woman on a road trip from Seattle to Los Angeles with her best friend Miguel. They are going to get him set up in his new apartment and Margot will visit her mother Mina whom she hasn’t seen for a year. Having grown up in Los Angeles (Koreatown) Margot never felt like she belonged. Rebelling against the language and embarrassed by the poverty they endured, Margot could not get away fast enough. After high school she began college in Seattle and never looked back. Mina, an undocumented immigrant has led a painfully lonely existence. Orphaned as a young girl then subsequently losing her family in an accident, she escaped to America hoping for a fresh start. Unfortunately, Mina could never shake the ghosts of her tragic past. Alternating between Margot’s discovery of her mother’s death and Mina’s past, this story tells the tragedy of a mother and daughter who deeply loved each other but never managed to open their hearts. This sensitive novel is beautifully written but hopelessly sad. I am on the fence friends, it’s good - but you have to be in the mood for a slow unraveling that is rather depressing. ⭐⭐⭐



America is about to have its first female monarch, Queen Beatrice. She has been learning and perfecting her every move since birth for this exact moment. Marriage to Teddy Eaton has been artfully arranged and her true and (mostly) secret love will have to accept the reality of her future. Princess Samantha is not going to let Beatrice forget for a minute that Queen or not, she has taken more than her share of the attention both publicly and privately. Prince Jefferson and Nina have broken up and friendship does not appear on the horizon if the wicked Daphne has anything to do with it. And then there is adorable Ethan, waiting in the wings while admitting to the defeat of his own troubled heart. This absolutely adorable, unputdownable sequel to American Royals was exactly what I needed to take me away for the day. Maybe a bit YA - but when you’re reading it’s never too late to imagine life as a princess. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Exiles

In 1840, a young Aboriginal girl named Mathinna is taken from the only family she has ever known to become an eccentric trinket for the governor’s wife on Van Dieman’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. The British who reside there are intrigued by this unique young lady that quickly learns their language and their manners. Evangeline Stokes is a governess for a wealthy family in London. She becomes the conquest of their handsome elder son and their naive decisions have landed her in prison. She is lovely, well educated, pregnant and sentenced to be shipped to Van Dieman’s Land. On the ship Evangeline befriends Hazel, another young convict sentenced to seven years for stealing a spoon. During the long passage the two women form a special bond and help each other in any way possible. The chapters of this novel alternate between Mathinna, Evangeline and Hazel. The history is fascinating and the writing is superb but something about the plot felt scattered. I cannot be more specific without spoilers but it took way too long to capture my attention. It is a solid good but I was hoping for more. ⭐⭐⭐

The Book of Lost Names


Eve Abrams is an old woman, a widow living in Florida and mostly retired yet still shelving books at the local library. One day an article appears in a magazine with a photo of a man holding a familiar book. This is not just any book - it once belonged to Eve and she hasn’t seen it since the war more than 65 years ago. As Jews living in Paris in 1942, Eve’s father was arrested and taken away. Terrified, she and her mother fled to a small village with hopes to escape France entirely. As fate would have it, Eve’s unique artistic talents lead her to become a forger of documents and although frightened for their lives, Eve knows she must do everything she can to help these orphaned children on their way to neutral Switzerland. As she produces their necessary documents she simultaneously creates a secret ledger so their names will never be forgotten. After the war Eve doesn’t just leave France, she leaves her history and much of her heart behind. When the book is discovered after all these years Eve must go to Berlin, she knows it is finally time to come full circle and reclaim her past. Highly recommend this fabulous read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Paris Is Always A Good Idea

Chelsea Martin is a successful fundraiser at the American Cancer Coalition in Boston. Following her mother’s death seven years earlier, Chelsea threw herself into her job and quickly rose to the top. Intelligent, organized and a workaholic, there was little room in Chelseas’s life for any nonsense - like romance, fun or flirting. After a surprise announcement from her father Chelsea is desperate to find her old self, the fun and adventurous young person she had been when she experienced Europe during a gap year falling in love, not once - but three times! Chelsea realizes that opening her rigid schedule for travel is just as hard as opening her heart. Searching for her past loves in Ireland, Paris and Italy proves more surprising than she could have imagined. If you have ever wondered about your younger self or daydreamed of finding her once gain, you will fall in love with this adorable rom-com. Fun fun beach read (yeah, I’m still doing those!) ⭐⭐⭐

Friday, August 28, 2020

The Cactus League

The star Outfielder Jason Goodyear looks perfect on the outside but his marriage is unraveling and so is his reputation. Batting coach Michael Taylor and his wife find their home vandalized when they return to Arizona for the season. Tamara is a longtime sports muse who has been the girlfriend of many a hot rising star. And Herb Allison is an eccentric sports agent that is losing his place on the totem pole. This story is narrated by a legendary sportscaster as the hot dessert sun makes everyone this season just a little off kilter. Great idea and writing for a behind the scenes, albeit fictional, peek at the professional world of baseball. The character stories jumping around became alittle confusing - but I am not a seasoned baseball fan. On the fence for this one folks, I’d say if you really love baseball, it’ll be a home run. ⭐⭐⭐

The Roommate

It has been awhile since Paige had romance, it’s been a long while since she had any fun at all. When her best friend’s younger brother Cannon unexpectedly needs a place to crash, she has a room to spare. The tall, gorgeous hunk that shows up at her door is nothing like the young nerd she remembers. He is coming out of a bizarre relationship and confides in Paige that the problem is after women sleep with him, they fall in love. Even though she is suddenly finding this young man hard to resist, Paige assures Cannon that he is full of himself and sets out to prove him wrong. Super hot steamy sex ensues (of course it does!!) Throughly enjoyed this fast paced, entertaining romance read. Now I find myself hooked on author Kendall Ryan whenever I need a quick fix! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Age of Consent

Justine and Eve are unlikely friends at a boarding school in Connecticut. Justine has hippie parents who run a well known theater in New Haven and live a penniless, haphazard existence leaving Justine free to do as she pleases. Very bright and well read she snags a scholarship to this prestigious school only to find it very difficult to fit in and make true friends. She enjoys the illicit attentions of a male teacher, a few fringe students and a sophisticated NYC socialite named Eve. At the end of an unexpected first year Justine decides to spend the summer working and living in the city. She rooms with another friend called India and dives deep into the art and club world she had only imagined. Cool 80's nostalgia but that’s where it ends for me.  All the relationships in this story feel contrived and it becomes tedious to follow when you don’t care about a single one of them. ⭐⭐

Monday, August 24, 2020

Mr. Malcolm's List

Selina is a vicar’s daughter from a small village in England. She has spent the last three years as a lovely companion to a very kind, wealthy widowed lady. At the time if a girl doesn’t have the means to secure a certain kind of marriage she would wind up living in the smallest of villages simply as a housewife. Selina, beautiful, well read and fiercely independent has always wanted more for her match. She wants to be worldly, she wants to be in love. When her companionship ends Selina is invited to visit an old school friend named Julia at her London townhome. Amid the chaos of extravagant balls and parties, Julia sets Selina up to seek revenge on Jeremy Malcolm to whom she was briefly courted and been quickly disposed of. Mr. Malcolm apparently has a list and Julia did not meet his strict criteria. With the tables turned Mr. Malcolm instantly falls for Selina and it is up to her to conjure up her own list! Filled with quirky, adorable characters - this fast paced rom com will have you waltzing through ballrooms and riding in carriages with very handsome gentlemen. Absolutely delicious tale of love and friendship. This little taste of book candy is just what I needed!!  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Regretting You

Morgan and Chris are the idyllic in-love high school couple - and then she gets pregnant. Their lives are turned upside down and against all odds they manage to build a beautiful life and have a wonderful, if not feisty teenage daughter. Morgan is just turning 34 and regrets not going to college, regrets that her husband now has a busy, successful career and her daughter, Clara, is soon to leave the coop. Her best friend/sister Jenny has a newborn and is going to marry Jonah, their oldest and dearest friend who recently reappeared in their lives. As easily as plans are made, they can be taken away. An unexpected car crash leaves the family in pain deeper than they ever imagined possible. Relationships that were already strained take on heartbreaking clarity and Morgan desperately wants to make sure her daughter does not make the same mistakes she made. Could not put down this beautiful story of love, trust and friendship. Author Colleen Hoover takes us deep into the hearts of this family and even when the going gets tough her words easily flow to the next chapter. Highly recommend this perfect beach read! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

With or Without You

Stella and Simon have been a couple for almost twenty years. An unlikely match, Stella is a somewhat quiet, kind nurse at a busy NYC hospital and he is a gorgeous hard core rock n’ roll musician. While in the past supporting Simon on his musical rollercoaster had always made Stella happy, she suddenly yearns for more stability, maybe even a baby. The night before a huge opportunity awaits him in Los Angeles the two disagree and a fork in their relationship can no longer be ignored. After a night of unexpected drug use Stella falls into a mysterious coma. Simon becomes the devoted boyfriend she had always dreamed of, Stella is someone completely new. They must unravel who they have become to each other and to themselves. There are parts of this story I really enjoyed, not to mention Caroline Leavitt’s writing is always a pleasure - but the truth is that Stella became annoying and I could not sympathize with her journey. In fact, all the many relationships were a bit off to me. I’m on the fence with this one friends. ⭐⭐⭐

Sunday, August 23, 2020

One to Watch

Reality hit series The Bachelorette meets rom-com delight! Bea, a plus size fashion instagrammer superstar is chosen to compete on the next bachelorette series and make tv history. She is beautiful, funny, smart, sweet and a more than a few sizes bigger than the average contestant. Bea faces a chance to choose a love match from 25 handsome men ferociously fighting for the spotlight. Thinking it’s a good business boost, Bea and a spunky female producer want to show America that it’s time to change the way we think, letting love, not body type, lead the way. When the camera’s start filming it is harder than she ever expected. Insults are hurled, opinions flood the internet and Bea is not sure what reality means anymore. This read is filled with fun quirky characters and a lot of heart. Fans of The Bachelorette reality series will get a kick out of this romantic twist. ⭐⭐⭐

The Boys' Club

Gorgeous, smart, Harvard grad Alex Vogel is taking NY by storm. She is about to begin a coveted position at one of the top law firms in Manhattan and just moved into a swanky apartment with her longtime beau who is plugging away at a start up. The junior associate class has few girls and none make it into Mergers and Acquisitions, so naturally, Alex, a competitive former athlete, cannot resist going for the gold. Slowly drowning in the insane work hours she faces, Alex feels an adrenaline rush with every successful deal she closes and the handsome partner’s she is drawn to. With all morals generally thrown out the window this fast paced novel is an absolute page turner as Alex tries to figure out how far she is willing to go down the rabbit hole of BigLaw and big bucks in the big city. This FIVE STAR novel has already been optioned by Netflix and is a perfect end of the summer read! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monday, August 10, 2020

All the Rivers

Liat is a beautiful Israeli translator spending a year working in New York City. She is apartment sitting for family friends and thoroughly exploring this dense exciting metropolis. One day Liat unexpectedly meets a friend of a friend, named Hilmi. She is immediately captivated by this handsome, charming, talented artist. The two quickly fall into a steamy, thoughtful friendship in and out of the bedroom. Their chemistry is undeniable. Their past is unavoidable. Hilmi is Palestinian. As they explore this bustling city, visiting art galleries, museums, and an endless array of restaurants they can no longer hide from the black cloud following every step they take. Friends cannot begin to understand, their families would be irreparably devastated. My heart was pounding for this couple, the dreamworld they were living in and self imposed deadline of their hearts. A hopeless romantic, I was immediately intrigued and in love with both characters, the politics and drama they cannot escape and literally could not put this book down. It was only afterwards (and I’m glad I waited because spoilers abound!) I found an array of articles written by and about the author and this novel. Highly recommend this 5 star read!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Pull of the Stars

It is 1918 in Dublin, WWI is just ending and the Spanish Flu pandemic has in a sense taken over the world. Nurse Julia Power works in an understaffed hospital Maternity ward for flu patients. Since she has overcome a mild case, she is a perfect candidate to help as she will most likely not contract the virus again. In this dark, small, musty space Julia helps a variety of women get through some of the toughest days of their lives. She assists a rebellious (almost unheard of) female physician and an unexpected volunteer shows up called Bridie that surprises everyone she meets. It is an interesting novel with an imaginative cast of characters but to enjoy you must have some interest in obstetrics which is painstakingly described in detail throughout the book. Because it is Emma Donoghue and so well written, I had no trouble immersing myself in this gloomy scenario but there is not a lot of action here. The entire story is a hospital setting during a tough time in history. ⭐⭐⭐

Friday, August 7, 2020

Float Plan

Anna waits tables at a pirate themed bar in Fort Lauderdale. The last year spent in a haze as she grieves the loss of her fiancĂ© and the life she hoped to build with him. The sailboat they refurbished sits idly at the dock filled with memories of Ben and all of their dreams. As the day set for their maiden voyage approaches Anna decides to take her chances at it solo. She sets off on the journey alone towards the Bahamas. After a difficult night at sea Anna realizes she cannot complete the planned trip without some assistance. She looks for an experienced sailor to get her to Puerto Rico and through the Caribbean. That is when she meets Keane, a gorgeous Irishman who fits the bill and more. Following Ben’s itinerary, Keane and Anna sail well together and they both learn more about sailing and life than either of them ever expected. If you love the romance of the sea filled with sunsets, dolphins and hidden island treasures you will adore this wonderful tale that reads like a cool breeze on a hot day. Highly recommend - although not out until 2021 - so keep your eyes open for it’s release! Worth the wait! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Without Her

Claudia and Hannah were inseparable at their all girl’s boarding school. Growing up in England and feeling abandoned by their parents these young girls bonded like sisters. Always dreaming of running away together the pair eventually attend Cambridge and their lives take completely different paths after graduation. Claudia follows her passion for filmmaking all the way to America and Hannah marries Phil and settles down into a somewhat predictable English life. It is many years later that Claudia receives an urgent message from Phil reporting that Hannah is missing. As Hannah’s oldest and dearest friend, he doesn’t know who else to turn to. Together they search out the many possibilities of Hannah’s sudden disappearance. This absolutely beautiful story is a witness to a most fragile and precious friendship. All the choices one makes throughout their lives affect not only themselves but those closest to them as well. The meaning of love, jealousy, loyalty and even friendship changes as we age and is redefined over our entire lives. This is a quiet, intense and very well written novel. New author for me, I would definitely read more of her work. ⭐⭐⭐⭐