Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Good Neighborhood


Picture a beautiful, quiet neighborhood in North Carolina. Valerie Alston-Holt, an African American woman and passionate community leader lives in a small home with her straight A, talented son Xavier. She is an ecology professor at the local university and he has recently been accepted with a scholarship to a prestigious San Francisco conservatory program. In the lot behind them the Whitman family has recently built a magnificent home and to do so destroyed much of the local greenery. The Whitmans are a white family with two lovely daughters, the eldest named Juniper. As an incensed Valerie watches her ancient Oak tree begin to die, her son and Juniper are secretly falling love. It took 75% of this book to set up the characters and lead up to something actually happening. It is narrated by too many voices along with an alternating “we” as if the neighborhood was telling the story. The author tried to highlight an overabundance of subjects at once; racism, love, law, history, nature, suicide, molestation - to name a few. The “we” part, although unique, was ultimately confusing - by the time something happened in this novel I was completely bored, confused and could not wait for it to be over. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Big Lies in a Small Town


Morgan Christopher is sitting in a jail cell while her handsome, brilliant boyfriend is attending law school at Georgetown - as if nothing ever happened. Smart, pretty and a wonderful artist, Morgan was once a typical college student excited about her future. Now serving a three-year sentence in North Carolina after a night she prays to forget, Morgan finds herself alone in the world with nothing to look forward to. One day two women show up to speak with her. Stern and not exactly friendly Morgan is shocked when they offer her a way out. All she has to do is successfully restore a famous mural in an unheard of little town. The mural was originally painted by Anna Dale, an artist who mysteriously disappeared in 1940. A well known benefactor is paying her way if she can accomplish this monumental challenge. Filled with art, intrigue and even a little romance, I absolutely loved unraveling the secrets in this latest novel by fabulous author Diane Chamberlain!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Nothing to See Here


Lillian and Madison both attend a fancy boarding school called Iron Mountain in Tennessee. Lillian, a scholarship student is matched to room with Madison, a wealthy, beautiful heiress from Atlanta. Later, when Madison is on the brink of expulsion Lillian takes the hit and Madison is indebted to her forevermore. Remaining penpals, their lives take on completely different paths. Madison’s perfect senator husband has ten year old twins from a previous marriage that are coming back to live in the mansion. They have one small disability. When the twins get upset, they burst into flames. The fires don’t hurt the children but everything around them is destroyed and yeah, people pretty much don’t understand. Lillian is hired to be their governess and head secret keeper. This bizarre story is a fast paced satire of politics and parenthood. Love and friendship. Unique, kind of fun and glad it was a short easy read for my final book of 2019!!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

One True Loves


After Daisy Jones, I couldn’t resist finding one of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s earlier novels. Emma Blair is a beautiful twenty something that married Jesse, her high school sweetheart. Everything picture perfect until Jesse disappears in a helicopter over the Pacific. For three long years Emma has mourned her husband, moved back to her hometown and desperately tried to rebuild her life. Finally open to the idea of loving again, she meets Sam. And he is perfect. They get engaged and Emma can finally envision a future happiness she thought was long gone. One day Jesse appears. He was found alive and literally survived by the thread of hope to be with Emma again. It is hard for Emma to imagine herself with Jesse, he seems like a very different person. Filled with guilt and longing, Emma realizes maybe she is the one who has changed. Sweet love story. Good book candy. Not Daisy Jones.

The Body Painter


Gil is an artist secreted away in a remote warehouse. He has placed an ad for a model to be his next canvas. Olin was focused on becoming a dancer until a brutal accident stole all her dreams, now she barely gets by. Looking for work and intrigued, she answers Gils ad and finds herself suddenly face to face with her high school infatuation, the love of her life. Gil is someone she has never forgotten and would give anything to know again. But Gils terrible mystery cannot be shared and he refuses to put Olin in dangers way. This all sounds like an interesting, romantic premise for a sexy story but everyone and everything is just too far fetched. The writing repeating itself over and over with very little actually happening. There is a sequel but I think I’ll pass.

In Five Years


Overachievers Dannie and David have their lives meticulously planned out. Dannie hopes to make partner at the most prestigious New York law firm and David is set to manage a successful hedge fund. They will live in a swanky Grammercy Park apartment with a view and summer in the Hamptons. Living together and recently engaged, their lives on right on track, until one day Dannie has a bizarre dream. For one solid hour she vividly sees herself five years in the future - with a different man, in another apartment and having the most intense sex of her life. Waking up shaken, she remembers every detail down to the mans name and the blue velvet of the living room chairs. Spooked by this premonition/dream Dannie works hard to forget this peculiar occurrence and continue on her rigid path that has zero wiggle room. More than four years later, with their engagement lingering, this memory comes full circle when Dannie meets Aaron, the man from her dream. Impossible or not, this secret is unbearable to keep as her best friend’s life is turned upside down and her very own heart falls to pieces. This fabulous, unpredictable, page turning romance had me guessing until the very end. Set to release in March 2020, a must to add to your reading list!

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Wives


Thursday is a young woman living in Seattle. She works as a nurse at the hospital and is married to a handsome, successful man named Seth, whom she adores to no end. Raised in Utah as part of a large polygamist family, Seth has grown into similar arrangements of his own. Thursday is his legal wife but Monday and Tuesday are his other wives. Accepting this arrangement and seeing Seth only part of the week has been difficult for Thursday from the start but lately she cannot restrain herself from wanting more information about these other wives. What begins as a search based on jealousy and competition, who can be the better wife, quickly turns to rage and suspicion. This absolutely twisted, suspense, psycho thriller had me on the edge of my seat. Have not been this spellbound since Gone Girl. Going to be an intense book club discussion.

The Map That Leads to You



... And because I loved the recently released Seven Letters, I could not resist reading J.P. Monninger’s novel from 2017!
Heather graduates with honors from Amherst. Before her big corporate job in NYC begins, she decides to backpack Europe with her two best friends Amy and Constance. A trip they painstakingly planned for months, these young women are having their last hurrah before succumbing to the real world of jobs and responsibilities. On a train ride to Amsterdam Heather meets Jack. Not usually the type to easily fall, she is smitten and instantly overcome by Jack’s intelligence, humor and good looks. Originally from a farm in Vermont, Jack is tracing his grandfather’s footsteps detailed in the treasured post war journal that has been handed down to him. As the trip continues Amy unexpectedly departs, leaving Jack and Australian Raef to balance out the group. The young adults test their friendship and leap into their first true love.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Seven Letters


Kate, a young beautiful professor at Dartmouth, receives a grant to examine the remote Blasket Islands off the rocky coast of Ireland. After studying her own familial history these islands have become both her speciality and her obsession. She unexpectedly befriends an old woman on a ferry and is quickly introduced to the woman’s grandson, Ozzie Ferriter. A handsome, intelligent, former soldier, Ozzie initially appears too overzealous for Kate’s taste - but as his family history runs deep in these waters, Ozzie’s vast knowledge and persistence leads them to friendship. It is not long before Kate surrenders to his Irish charms and they fall in love. Kate’s designated year for study turns into much more and as lines are drawn and choices are made, she must find a way to meld two completely different worlds into one. Always a fan of an Irish setting, the accent alone can melt ones heart. This love story with a twist will quickly take you to another land and feeling the grĂ¡ (love) in no time.

All Grown Up


Valentina is a recently divorced single mom. With her son away at college her best friend is simply begging her to get back out there in the world of the living. Having married her high school sweetheart after getting pregnant at 17, Valentina has never actually dated - and although beautiful, it has been an awfully long time since she received any real attention. When her friend secretly posts her listing on a dating site she immediately receives a response from a very handsome man. Completely new for Valentina, this text flirting is absolutely irresistible. Donovan’s messages become the highlight of her day and after much cajoling she concedes to a one time meet up. This man is way too young and much too gorgeous to be taken seriously. Only when they meet does Valentina realize that Donovan is his last name, and the sexy “Ford” that is standing in front of her is none other than the boy next door all grown up. Their chemistry is magical from the start and the big question is whether Valentina can put what everyone else thinks aside and let her heart lead the way. Fast paced hot, fun older woman twist with addictive characters. Some good book candy.

Meg & Jo


Imagine that Meg is married with adorable towheaded twins living near their parents farm in North Carolina; Jo, an anonymous food blogger works in a hip NYC restaurant falling head over heels for her hunky boss; fashionable Amy jets off to Paris and sweet bashful Beth is finally finding her voice.  While their father never tires of helping the homeless, his neglect for their injured mother is painfully obvious and the sisters find themselves at odds examining their parents marriage, familial responsibilities and their very own romantic futures. The March sisters reimagined brings back beautiful memories of sisterhood that Little Women devotees have devoured for the last 150 years. This contemporary twist is a fun remake of a classic filled with love and laughter that never gets old! Well done Virginia Kantra, Meg and Jo was an absolute pleasure to read and I look forward to the coming sequel of “Beth and Amy.”

Friday, December 20, 2019

You Were There Too


Mia Graydon and her husband Harrison decide to make a fresh start in the small town of Hope Springs. Leaving Philly was hard but Harrison, having finally finished his residency, is ready for a fresh start at a new hospital. Mia, on the other hand, is feeling a little lost. What started as an impulsive, exciting move has left Mia without a routine of any kind and her once passionate career as a painter is still packed away in the studio. Both grieving their separate losses, they are finding their relationship at odds for the first time in eight years. When Mia is introduced to Oliver, he takes her breath away. It feels like she has known him forever, yet they have never met. Oliver has been in her dreams since high school. And the most terrifying part - he has been dreaming of her too. After researching psychics, dream psychiatry, all aspects of coincidence and fate, Mia is forced to make a choice. Indecision slowly devours her every waking moment until destiny once again intervenes. Highly recommend this January 2020 release, a poignant, wholly original love story which will leave you dreaming of these characters long after the final page. FIVE STARS!!!

Royal Holiday


Vivian Forest has a grand opportunity to accompany her daughter, a fashion consultant, on a business trip during the Christmas holidays. As she rarely goes out of her box, this single, middle aged social worker cannot imagine the holidays anywhere but with her family in California. With great effort to be spontaneous she surrenders to Maddie’s wishes and they are off to a magnificent castle where Maddie will dress the duchess and Vivian unexpectedly falls head over heels with handsome Malcolm, the Queens secretary. Cute, simple romance, quick holiday read, but not top of my list. My second Jasmine Guillory book, I think she has great imagination but maybe these books are pumped out a little too fast?

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Mr. Nobody


A handsome man washes up on a beach in a charming coastal village in England. Dressed in wet tattered clothing, he has a bump on the back of his head and no identification in his pocket. Discovered by a passerby, the police are notified and he is quickly taken to a nearby hospital. With no memory of how he ended up on the beach and more importantly, no idea of his own name, Dr. Emma Lewis, eminent neuropsychiatrist is called in for the case. The man dubbed “Mr. Nobody” has remained mute until he meets Dr. Lewis and quietly mumbles her name. Eerily, it is her old name, one she hasn’t used in over fourteen years. It is difficult enough for Emma to be back in this town her family abandoned all those years ago, she can no longer ignore the impossible coincidences and slips of information Mr. Nobody whisperers. It is Emma’s job to solve this great mystery and to do so without the past repeating itself.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Hill Women


Cassie Chambers grew up in Owsley County, one the most impoverished communities in the Appalachian Mountains. Her mother Wilma, both beautiful and smart, left the family tobacco farm to attend a small college nearby.  As frightened as she was leaving home, Wilma knew this was the key to a better life for her family and herself. Cassie was often looked after in the ramshackle home of her Granny, Papaw and Aunt Ruth. She ran barefoot through the fields with her cousins and other local children. Even though the family struggled to make ends meet, her days were filled with an abundance of love and hard work, the mainstream of their lives. As Cassie matured, she strove for the same accolades her mother had, good grades and an upward climb on the steep education ladder. An opportunity for a unique boarding school in New Mexico during senior year took Cassie away for the first time. A turning point, this filled her with even more drive and determination, which served her well through the most prestigious academic institutions of Yale College and Harvard Law. Always torn between two very different worlds, it took years for Cassie to truly understand and honor the beauty she found in these heroic mountain women who were creative, brave, loving and tireless. With deep admiration and respect for her family, Cassie yearns to find a compromise that will allow her the rewards she has earned and ways to make real change in the lives of these often forgotten women. Highly recommend this compelling work of non-fiction which reads like a novel. Loved it!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Recipe For A Perfect Wife


Alice Hale is a young woman striving for success at a high-end Manhattan publishing firm. Newly married, she has an adoring analytical husband, a nightmare boss and a top notch best friend. Overnight her world comes crashing down. With her career destroyed, Nate surprises Alice with a beautiful fixer upper in the burbs and all the time in the world to get pregnant and finally write her novel. Feeling displaced in her new home by strange noises and thoughts of the original owner, Alice discovers a box in the basement filled with the life of Nellie Murdoch, a 1950’s housewife. Upon realizing their lives reflect startling similarities, Alice begins to find solace in cooking her way through Nellie’s antiquated recipes; Baked Alaska, Jellied Salads and Tuna Casserole. When additional secrets bloom in the garden the truth for both women is shockingly revealed. Highly recommend this clever, phenomenal story of what it means to be a woman and how very far we have come (or not) in the last 50+ years. If you loved bestseller Julie & Julia, don’t miss this soon to be released awesome read!!

We Met in December


Jess is moving to London. Finally! Having grown up in a quaint, unremarkable seaside town with a mediocre job and erratic mom, Jess is starting over in a magnificent Notting Hill house with four strangers. Treasuring this opportunity for new beginnings, (her real life!) Jess snags a dream job in publishing and the chance to live in a zip code she never dared to dream. These twentysomethings become fast friends; cooking, drinking and binge watching their favorite shows. Only rule to follow - no couples in the house. But of course, in walks Alex. The handsome boy next door (literally!) who left his prestigious law position to study nursing, who is as kind as he is gorgeous. Throughout their year living together, from one Christmas celebration to the next, Jess learns the true meaning of family, friends and love. Fall into the holiday spirit with this enjoyable, sweet, feel-good romantic read.

Christmas Shopaholic


Becky Brandon loves her family, her job and most of all - Becky loves Christmas. She counts the days to lose herself in gingerbread houses, festive trees, and of course, hence the name, the Christmas shopping. As the holiday quickly approaches her once dependable parents experience a mid-life crisis, moving to a hip London neighborhood and leaving Becky as Christmas Day host for the very first time. Obsessed with tradition and the perfect gift for her husband, Becky is thrown for a loop when her handsome rock star ex-boyfriend moves into the neighborhood, her vegan step sister mysteriously shows up sans husband and much of her precious shopping turns into an online fiasco. This laugh-out-loud, adorable holiday fix is just what you need when the demanding list grows out of control. Take a wonderful break with this fun celebration of friendship, family and shopping!