Thursday, February 25, 2021

Our Darkest Night


Antonina Mazin lives with her beloved father in Venice, Italy. He is a brilliant doctor who has always loved and cared for the community in which they live. As the Nazi’s close in on their world in the fall of 1943 he knows he must send his daughter away to safety. A narrative is created and arranged. Antonina Mazin becomes Nina. She is “married” to Nico Gerardi, a farmer in the countryside. This handsome young man is to keep Nina out of danger through the war and she will pose as his new wife and help on the family farm. This life of manual labor is not an easy change for Nina, a city girl through and through. Eventually Nico’s family, who have no idea of her real identity, slowly begin to trust this beautiful girl and happily accept her as their own. As the war inches closer to their little village the local Nazi officials grow suspicious of Nico’s travels. Much to Nina’s surprise she is falling helplessly in love with the kindest and most generous man she has ever met. Happiness seems just within reach as the horrors of World War II finally close in on them. Beautifully written saga of history, love and family with the most gorgeous Italian scenery. Highly recommend this wonderful historical fiction novel! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Wife Upstairs


Jane is a rather plain nondescript young woman who walks dogs for a living in the fancy neighborhood called Thornfield Estates. Manicured landscapes, luxury cars and rows of mansions line the exclusive streets. As Jane picks and drops off her charges she tends to casually slip a jewel or any small valuable in her pocket as her pretentious clients never know the difference. Pleasant enough, none of these ladies who lunch find meek Jane a threat which only enhances her opportunity. One day she meets Eddie, an extremely handsome, recently widowed neighbor. They instantly click and begin seeing each other. Jane is no longer focused on the small trinket but is laser focused on becoming part of this prestigious community. As she weasels her way into Eddie’s life Jane realizes she is not the one holding the tricky cards. Eddie’s wife Bea and her best friend disappeared in a mysterious boating accident. The police are still investigating. The more Jane learns, the more frightened she becomes. Jane is no longer sure who is playing who. This absolutely suspenseful page turner will keep you at the edge of your seat. Highly recommend this domestic thriller. Couldn’t put down! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Moonlight School


It is 1911 and Lucy Wilson lives a charmed existence with her wealthy father in Louisville, Kentucky. The untimely death of her mother and disappearance of her sister many years ago had left a gaping hole in her heart but after Lucy graduates from a fancy girl’s finishing school her only ambition is to find a suitable husband. When her father’s cousin Cora Wilson Stewart requests Lucy assist her as a scribe for 6 months in the mountains of Appalachia she is more than just a little bit hesitant. Shocked by the severely poverty-stricken county, Lucy is further surprised to learn that most residents are illiterate. As she arrives in Rowan County with nothing more than the goal to leave as fast as possible, she is quickly in awe of Cora and her mission to help the mountain people maintain the generous loving community they have lived in for generations. At the time it was believed there was a window for learning and that it was too late for adults. These brave women realized that was untrue and did everything they could to give the gift of reading to all. Based on the true story of Cora Wilson Stewart’s mission to spread adult literacy, this beautiful story melted my heart. Highly recommend! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monday, February 8, 2021

This Close to Okay


Tallie is on her way home from work one rainy nasty evening when she sees a man on the wrong side of the bridge. He has climbed the rails and is staring at the stormy dark river. Without hesitation Tallie pulls her car over and races to help this man, gently coaxing him to speak with her, accept a ride and leave this dire situation. After a warm cup of coffee and the calming effect of Tallie’s voice, Emmett shares a little about himself. With nowhere else to go this handsome sweet man agrees to spend the night on her couch. Tallie is a professional therapist and although this may appear just a teensy bit unethical, she tells Emmett she is a teacher. She decides that someone who wants to kill themselves is not looking for a last minute therapy session. As Emmett opens up to Tallie’s natural warmth and hospitality, she details her own recent heartbreaking divorce and failure to have a child. The two connect on a deep level, trusting each other with feelings rarely expressed out loud. Narrated by both Tallie and Emmett the reader has a chance to see both sides of the coin. As their truths unfold it it is clear that even if fate brought them together it takes extraordinary forgiveness to mend a broken heart. Tiny bits of repetition did not stop me from loving this beautiful story. More therapeutic than sad, I highly recommend! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Love Proof


Sophie Jones has been a prodigy her entire life. Different from all the other children her parents were determined to make sure she always felt surrounded by love and kindness. When she begins at Yale, Sophie is set to change the world. Her theories and mathematical skills precede her arrival as it is decided which professor she will work with. A week into the first semester, quiet, sweet Sophie meets Jake and her life is changed forever. Mesmerized by this new and physical love she has never experienced, Sophie is slowly drained of her aspirations, intent on spending as much time with Jake as possible. But Jake has his own journey to travel. After a difficult and stormy childhood Jake is determined to make a lot of money, take care of his mother and have all the things that have always been out of reach. Understanding Sophies gift to the world, Jake is devastated that he has inadvertently led Sophie astray from her study of time theory and must find a way to get her back on track. After years of painful separation and near misses, the two cannot fight their true love connection. An eccentric and memorable love story, this is not your average romance. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Love in Lockdown


One night while Sophia quietly cries on her balcony, a mysterious voice calls down to her. Her neighbor above, whom she has never met, offers conversation that makes Sophia feel remarkably better. England is on lockdown and as everyone adjusts to weeks upon weeks of life in isolation, fear of catching the virus and pure loneliness, Sophia realizes her purpose may be to help those in her community who cannot manage on their own. As Jack becomes her confidante and she assists him getting much needed groceries, they form a bond unlike any she has ever experienced. Without ever having met each other this young couple have become dependent on the strength and encouragement provided each and every night on the balcony. This well timed pandemic love story reminds us that giving to others can make people feel less alone in a world that continues to challenge us every day. Spreading the kindness and falling in love go hand in hand in this adorable, uplifting Valentine’s treat.⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Ex Talk


Shay Goldstein has been in love with public radio her entire life. Starting as an intern after college, Shay has been at this Seattle station for the last ten years. With a voice she assumed was annoying Shay has remained behind the scenes producing shows and helping their stars succeed. When the station runs into tough times they are searching for something new and hip to uplift their ratings. Shay randomly pitches her boss an idea where the co-hosts who have recently split up could coach their audience with relationship and romance advice. Shockingly she is placed on the air with her handsome nemesis who recently joined the team and insists he knows absolutely everything. Terrified of going live and convincing everyone in her life she secretly dated Dominic is no easy task. No sooner is the show aired that it becomes a sensational hit. Climbing the radio and podcast charts, a dream come true, becomes an issue when the duo quietly and completely fall in love with each other. As their relationship gets harder to camouflage this laugh out loud rom-com will lift your spirits and melt your heart. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Hate U Give


Starr Carter was driving with her childhood friend Khalil, home from a party. At sixteen years old, Starr doesn’t often go to parties in her neighborhood. Although she was raised in this poor community of Jackson Mississippi, Starr’s parents enrolled her and her siblings in a fancy private school in the suburbs. Her daddy runs a local grocery store and her mom works as an ER nurse. They know first hand how tough these streets can be and want their children to have a better chance, a higher education. Khalil and Starr are pulled over. Scared, Starr remembers what her mama drilled into her; keep your hands where they can be seen, no sudden movements and no talking unless spoken to. Khalil is shot 3 times, in the back. Blood is everywhere and Starr’s life will never be the same. Starr begins to question her authenticity, friends living in two different worlds, her white boyfriend, and life as a black girl with two identities. The incident makes national headlines and Starr is the only witness. Her family, the local gang leaders and the entire neighborhood choose sides and take to the streets. Riots, danger, fear in one life and AP exams and the prom in the other. It is time for this brave young lady to use her position and stand up for what she believes. Starr must speak for her friends who no longer have a voice of their own. This is a well written, emotional YA story that should be mandatory reading. We may not have immediate solutions but the struggle for justice is paramount. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Little French Bridal Shop


Larisa Pearl grew up in a quaint town on the coast of Massachusetts. Her great aunt passed away and it has become her mission to get the beautiful historic home ready for sale. Having become recently single and unemployed, Larisa throws herself into the tasks that need to be done. One day as she strolls through town she passes a bridal shop. Never a girl set on getting married Larisa is surprised when she tries on a magnificent dress and begins to weave a tale of her upcoming nuptials. Small town that it is, news travels fast and Larisa embroils herself in mountain of lies that further complicates her life. The caretaker of the estate Jack turns out to be more handsome than she remembers and as their renovations begins the duo uncover more than just wallpaper hidden beneath the history. Adorable easy read. I never quite understood Larisa’s motives but the story moves pretty quickly and I enjoy small town sagas. ⭐⭐⭐

The Wrong Family


Classic case of you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. From afar Juno thought the Crouch’s looked like the storybook family. A good looking couple living in a beautiful home with an adorable and kind son. Juno is homeless and at the end of her days, she enters the Crouch home completely by accident. But once she is in, she never leaves. Living quietly beneath them in a secret sub floor compartment and sneaking around when they are out, Juno overhears a portion of a conversation. Misinterpreting it’s full meaning Juno decides she will set things right before she dies. Having been a therapist in her previous life, she figures it’s the least she can do. As Winnie and Nigel’s marriage is crumbling and Winnie’s brother is on a raging rampage Juno finally realizes what she has set in motion, and it is too late. I think there was an interesting plot somewhere in here but it is buried beneath unlikeable characters and meaningless scenarios. ⭐⭐

The Fortunate Ones


Charlie Boykin grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in East Nashville, Tennessee. His single mom Bonnie worked long hours to make ends meet and everyone in the projects pitched in with kids who were often left to fend for themselves. Looking for a way out, Bonnie arranges a scholarship for Charlie to attend a fancy private school called Yeatman. Archer Creigh is introduced as his “big brother mentor” and he and his friends adopt Charlie into their world filled with mansions, gleaming swimming pools and driveways of expensive cars. The group is so enthralled with this newcomer that Charlie’s mom is offered a job with one of the families and they move into their guest house. Charlie falls mildly in love with all of them but as he closely observes this life of privilege he can’t avoid their excessive drinking, philandering and sense of entitlement they don’t often deserve. Through it all Charlie is the most loyal of friends and will do anything for this club of spoiled teens including covering up their indiscretions. As they get older, the troubles are not so minor and Charlie is torn between his devotion to these friends and being truthful with himself. Highly recommend this fast paced, imaginative novel that reflects the distinct and difficult divide between the haves and the have nots. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Better Luck Next Time


In the 1930’s Reno, Nevada was a symbol of hope for women looking for a quickie divorce. Remain in Reno for six weeks and the judge would grant you residency and divorce with assembly line efficiency. No better place to stay than the Flying Leap Ranch run with Margaret’s military precision and handsome cowboys to wait on you hand and foot. We meet Nina, a St. Louis heiress, back for her third time and terrified Emily fleeing San Francisco and her two timing husband. There is Ward, a Carey Grant look-alike trying desperately not to fall in love and fellow ranch hand Sam who is everyone’s protector. Post depression, pre WWII, most of America is struggling to survive and as these wealthy women search for a freedom they aren’t quite sure they want. Told in a hilarious laugh-out-loud narrative, it is easy to imagine these oddball characters in the heyday of a Hollywood setting. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Faye, Faraway


Faye and Eddie share a quiet life and happy home with two little girls they adore. As Eddie prepares to train as a vicar Faye is terribly worried whether she can live up to her wifely duties. Faye lost her mum as a young girl and was adopted by an older couple. Although she had a lovely childhood, Faye has always longed for the mother she can hardly remember. While cleaning out the attic she discovers a box she recognizes from an old photograph. Faye climbs into the box to avoid stepping on glass and her life is transformed to another time. Faye awakens in 1977, in the yard of her childhood home, her mum Jeanie in the kitchen and her younger self nearby. This terrifying leap leads Faye down a path of discovery she never imagined possible. She can finally get to know the woman she has yearned for all these years. Maybe she can change the trajectory of their lives. Love and a little bit of faith in time travel is all you need to go back to the future. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie


In 1926 Agatha Christie is a 36 year mystery writer on the cusp of becoming a household name. Things with her husband Archie were extremely rocky and against Agatha’s wishes, they were spending the weekend apart. Late, on this freezing December night, Agatha gently kissed her 7 year old daughter Rosalind and got behind the wheel of her fancy new car. The following day the car is seen abandoned by a gloomy lake and Agatha is nowhere to be found. The woman who would one day become the world’s most famous mystery writer becomes the focus of her very own 11 day mystery. Only a few months after releasing her latest novel Agatha has disappeared off the face of the earth only to reappear with absolutely no memory of the time that has passed. Ingenious author Marie Benedict reimagines what might have happened during this puzzling disappearance with gripping and exquisite detail. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Titanic Sisters


In the beautiful green pastures of Ireland sits the charming town of Donegal. The Sweeney family live on a small farm and while working their fingers to the bone, can barely manage to get by. Nora and Delia are sisters as different as the sun and the moon. Nora, a bit older, is spoiled by her beauty and mother’s attentions expecting all the local boys and world at large to fall at her feet. Delia, always helping her hardworking Da on the farm struggles with a stutter and finds her solace in reading books as she is alone most of the time. When a distant cousin passes, an opportunity to go to America is presented to the sisters. Nora will have the coveted position of governess to a wealthy man’s child and Delia to be a maidservant at another home. Desperate to start new lives, they board the Titanic to cross the ocean. On April 12, 1912 they are faced with circumstances they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams. Believing that Nora did not survive, Delia accepts the governess position in her place. She quickly becomes attached to the beautiful child called Lily and must face the inappropriate chemistry between herself and her new employer, the very handsome Aidan O’Hanlon. When it becomes revealed that Nora may have survived, Delia has a sinking feeling that everything she treasures is now at risk. Family secrets and revenge make this inspired historical fiction novel one that I could not put down! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The House Mate


Book 3 of the Roommate series does not disappoint. Max Alexander is in his mid 30’s. Successful, gorgeous and raising a beautiful little girl Dylan on his own. Max doesn’t have time to play dating games. When he decides to relocate to be closer to his ailing mother in the town he was raised Max’s life takes an unexpected turn. He hires an old flame Addison to help with his daughter. Addison and Max shared the typical high school romance but when Max left for college he never looked back. Their chemistry is still sizzling after all these years apart but it will take a lot of convincing to get Addison to trust him again. ⭐⭐⭐

My Brother's Roommate


#2 Frisky Business series. The title pretty much says it all. Wolfie Cox and Conor have been friends, roommates and business partners for many years. Wolfie is the dark, handsome silent type and rarely has a girlfriend or a smile to spare. Polite, hard working but not exactly an easy going guy, Wolfie is the last person Penelope, Conors younger sister, ever expected to crush on. While Wolfie tries to keep his admitted attraction at bay, Penelope manipulates him into giving her a chance. It is no surprise this steamy quick love story will have you begging for more. According to author Kendall Ryan #3 is on the way. ⭐⭐⭐

The Boyfriend Effect


#1 in the Frisky Business series, author Kendall Ryan does it again. Hayes is taking a break from women. Too many crazy break ups and drama filled days. Maren is the younger sister of one of his best friends and business partner, officially off limits. Hotter than hot Hayes has always had a little crush on Maren, but she was just a kid back in the day. Now, she has become a beautiful, smart woman that he is finding hard to resist  — and Maren knows what she wants. Typical, quick steamy romance. A well done and easy to read treat. ⭐⭐⭐

Anna and The French Kiss


Anna is an average teen living in Atlanta, excited to face senior year and her future as a hopeful movie critic. Currently flirting with the cutest boy at the theater where she works part time and hanging out with her best friend is pretty much all that’s on her mind. When her divorced parents inform her that she is to spend her senior year at a posh boarding school in Paris, everything she hoped for falls to pieces. As soon as her parents leave the dormitory Anna commits to being miserable and alone. That is until she meets Etienne, the very handsome boy downstairs and his group of friends become hers as well. Seeing the sights and all the local films bonds Anna in a way she never thought possible. Etienne and Anna fight their unquestionable chemistry as his past girlfriend refuses to let go. The romantic city brings more to light than just the Eiffel Tower. Anna is forced to test the true meaning of friendship both old and new. This adorable YA romance has all the charm and innocence of first love and of course, there is Paris! Adored this quick enjoyable treat and will definitely check out more by this author. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monday, December 28, 2020

A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow


Lila Reyes just graduated from highschool in West Dade, Miami. Happily living with her Cuban-American family and working in La Paloma, the successful bakery her grandmother established many years ago. When her abuela unexpectedly passes away it sets off a chain of events that turns Lila’s life upside down. Her longtime boyfriend dumps her a few days before prom and her best friend’s secret to work in Africa comes to light. Everything Lila had planned, all her dreams to be the best baker in Miami and run the business with her sister come tumbling down. As sadness overwhelms her, the family decides Lila must leave to recuperate from the difficulties she has faced. They send her to Winchester, England to stay with Aunt Cate, rest and relaxation the key to recovery. Lila is unable to stay out of the kitchen and as she regains her strength Lila’s baking takes the village of Winchester on a Cuban journey through deliciousness. She wins every heart including Orion who runs the tea shop. This adorable YA novel takes a girl from a tight knit community out into the world and while nourishing the needs of other’s she manages to find herself again. Beyond adorable, I highly recommend this recipe for travel with a little bit of romance. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kindred


Dana is a 26 year old African-American woman in 1976 California. She and her white husband Kevin just moved into their lovely first home and aside from a few family complications these two aspiring writers live a rather simple life. One day Dana feels strangely dizzy and as the room begins to blur she is terrifyingly swept away to another time. Dana awakens in Maryland in the early 1800’s. She sees a little boy in the distant lake and he is drowning. Without a moments hesitation Dana saves his life and begins a journey none of her creative writing could have ever imagined. She time travels back and forth between centuries to repeatedly save this boy called Rufus. As a black woman she is thought to be a slave on his father’s plantation. Going along with the ruse and the historical facts she knows, Dana must learn to survive while she figures out this mysterious existence she has acquired. This book originally published in 1979 is part fantasy/part historical fiction and one hundred percent mesmerizing. To physically live, even for a short while, during a time in history that tested everything we believe about freedom and humankind is almost unimaginable. Author Octavia Butler takes us on a journey you will remember long after the final chapter. An absolute must read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Swear On This Life


Emiline, an English lit grad student had a rough childhood. Raised by an abusive alcoholic father, she clung to the boy next door, her best friend. Jackson fed Emiline when she was hungry, he dried her tears when she was sad. Jackson was the only person in rural Ohio who protected Emiline down this dirt road they called home. When she finally was taken away by the authorities to be raised by a distant Aunt in California, she never saw Jackson again. Now, as a teacher, Emiline yearns to write her own story but she cannot quite find the words. Her roommate is raving about the latest bestseller by “J. Colby” and when Emiline finally gives it a chance, she finds herself speechless. This is her life, in detail, on a page. The painful story she has not found the courage to tell. And the author is none other than Jackson. Angry and terrified of revisiting the past, Emiline reads the novel is pieces while she reflects on memories she buried long ago. This romantic drama had an absolutely fantastic concept and I loved the flashback chapters of her life but the present storyline in between was not compelling at all. 
Hence, only a mediocre review. ⭐⭐⭐

The Simple Wild


Calla Fletcher left rural Alaska when she was two years old. Her mother loved her husband Wren with all her heart but could not manage in this remote isolated land. And Wren, a bush pilot to his very core, could never leave Alaska. Her mother eventually remarries and Calla’s strained long distance conversations over the years have left her with a father she barely knows. When a surprising call comes from a neighbor that Wren is not well, the stars align and Calla makes her way to this estranged man she yearns to call Dad. Upon arrival it is clear this city girl has a lot to learn. Her high heels don’t work in the mud and cell reception is scarce. When she meets her Dad’s right hand man Jonah, she can barely make out his smirk hiding beneath a bush of a beard she names yeti. The back and forth banter quickly becomes flirting and naturally there is an extremely handsome sky cowboy hiding under there. Just as her mother warned before her departure, between her father’s illness and her budding friendship with the hunky pilot, Calla’s world is turned upside down. Couldn’t put down this quick, vivid romance set in the wilds of Alaska. Armchair travel at its best. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Library at the Edge of the World


Hanna Casey has spent the last few years starting over. Escaping a failed marriage in an upscale London suburb with little more than the clothes on her back and her beautiful daughter Jazz, Hanna now runs the library in the rural village on Ireland’s west coast that she grew up in. Jazz, now grown and working as a flight attendant has left Hanna miserably on her own, living with her oppressive mother who criticizes her every move. When it comes to light that Hanna is the owner of a late Aunt’s crumbling cottage on the outskirts of town it becomes her mission to start her life again. Throw in the most peculiar but kind hearted handyman, a local council who threatens to close the library and a handsome city clerk who hides his own complicated past and there is quite some drama to contend with. A lot of driving around in her mobile library van, gossip that spreads like wild fire and an ocean view to die for … add some books and I’m in. Always a fan of Irish authors and stories that take place in the land of leprechauns, this one was pure delight. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This Time Next Year


Minnie Cooper meets Quinn at a fancy New Year's Eve bash thrown by his girlfriend. With little in common and both romantically involved with others, it comes a complete surprise that not only do they share a birthday on New Year's Day but their mother’s delivered in the same hospital and Quinn actually stole Minnie’s name! As she struggles with her small catering business and is forced to move back in with her parents, Minnie begins the most unexpected friendship with this handsome very successful man that she is convinced would never be attracted to her. The two lives accidentally intertwine at every turn which Minnie mistakes for coincidence that may actually be pure destiny. Adorable rom-com characters reinforcing the power of opposites attracting and sometimes putting best laid plans aside while you follow your heart. Fun, quick, happy holiday read. ⭐⭐⭐

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue


Addie LaRue is a young woman in the early 1700’s. At 23 years old she is practically an old maid in this quaint French village. Her stern mother and artistic loving father are desperate for their daughter to become a wife, a mother. Happiness, love, Addie’s dreams of travel are beyond their scope of understanding. Minutes before her arranged marriage to a local widow, Addie runs to the forest and begs the god of gods to show her mercy. She is desperate to avoid this wedding and a life contained in this small world. Now, 300 years after her deal with the devil, Addie’s curse may be broken. After centuries of living a lonely existence where she can do as she pleases but not a single person ever remembers her, Addie meets Henry at a small bookshop in NYC. She returns the very next day for another book and Henry remembers her. Addie does not know what makes Henry special or different but as they share the truth the future becomes even more complicated. Flashing back and forth through time, Addie keeps marching onward through history and her endless search for home. A lot of subtle lessons and beautifully written, this book received a ton of excellent reviews. My only complaint is with editing - a bit repetitive and about 100 pages too long. ⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Admission


Chloe Berringer is a senior at the most prestigious (most expensive) private high school in Los Angeles. The SAT pressure is on full blast and her beautiful, celebrity mother and handsome, successful father are playing the helicopter parents from hell. As Chloe’s grades appear mediocre at best her mom hires a highly recommended college consultant get the job done. Chloe is more focused on her longtime crush and spending weekends with her best friend but figures whatever makes her parents happy is just fine by her. The morning the FBI comes banging down the door is the day her life is no longer her own. This high priced college assistance turns into the college scandal of the decade. Chole’s mother is facing federal charges along with a slew of other rich, entitled parents who were claim they were naively trying to help their beloved offspring. Not only has Chloe lost everything she loves, she faces the fact that her parents did not believe she could succeed on her own. They have risked her future and that of her sister’s to ensure their own bragging rights. Loosely based on the recent admissions scandal that rocked the nation, this fictionalized account was unputdownable. Highly recommend this fast paced, well written read!! Will definitely be following this author going forward! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐