Monday, January 23, 2023

The House of Eve

Ruby Pearsall is a 15 year old girl in 1950’s Philadelphia. An excellent student, Ruby was chosen to be part of the WE RISE program - to assist underprivileged students with post high school plans. Ruby dreams of becoming an Ophthalmologist so she can help her beloved grandma get her sight back. Her mother has kicked her out again, and she is staying with Aunt Marie who is a tough gal with a loving heart. Laser focused on studying Ruby is rarely sidetracked but when she meets Shimmy, the landlords white, Jewish son she experiences butterflies she never felt before. History repeats itself when Ruby, like her own mother becomes a pregnant teenager. Mortified, Shimmy’s mother arranges for Ruby to go to a home for unwed mothers in DC, promising her the WE RISE scholarship when she returns. In DC we meet Eleanor and William, both students at Howard University. Lovely, smart and hardworking, they meet in the library and quickly fall head over heels. But Eleanor is not good enough for William Pride’s snooty parents. Professionals and leaders of the Washington elite Black families, William’s mother does everything in her power to break the couple apart while Eleanor tries her best to fit in. Two young women find themselves desperately trying to succeed in a world that often seems determined to destroy them. Filled with poverty, adoption, abuse, and discrimination - it is clear that 70 years later we still battle these very same challenges. This powerful, heartbreaking story of motherhood will be with you long after the last page. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Violin Conspiracy

Playing the violin is everything to Ray McMillian. Having grown up in small town North Carolina, Ray’s musical passion was not encouraged. Not by his contemptuous mother, apathetic music teacher at the local racist high school or his overdemanding aunts and uncles. The only person in Ray’s life to champion his dreams is his gentle and kind Grandma Nora. One holiday when the family is gathered at her ramshackle home in Georgia, Nora reminds Ray he got his musical talent from her Pop Pop, who played the fiddle as a boy on a plantation where their family was enslaved. She allows Ray to search for the fiddle in the attic and later gifts it to him. While no-one shows much interest, the old relic allows Ray to improve his skills at school and prepare for an upcoming regional competition. At the event Dr. Janice Stevens offers him a full college music scholarship to a small university. Four years later he outplays and outshines every other musician. With the mentorship and generosity of Janice - Ray has a brilliant career ahead. After repairing his beloved “fiddle” they discover that is is a priceless Stradivarius. The family immediately sees dollar signs and another family who owned his Pop Pop thinks the instrument is theirs. A month before the most important international competition in the world, the violin disappears. This novel is filled with magnificent characters, rampant discrimination and family ties that cannot be broken. Days after finishing Ray is still heavily on my mind. Turn on some classical music and let this mystery of history take you away. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, January 20, 2023

Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man

New York City, 1950. Viviana Valentine is well known as an efficient and faithful assistant. But she is not your typical girl friday. Her boss, dreamboat Tommy Fortuna, is a top private investigator and she is his diligent sidekick, uncovering evidence and piecing together puzzles he cannot figure out. Even though these handsome hound dogs, better known as the local coppers treat her with kid gloves, Viviana’s rough and tumble background prepared her for even the surliest scoundrels. When Tommy takes on the wealthy Tallmadge Blackstone as a client, Viviana immediately senses trouble. His daughter Tallulah is a tabloid darling - beautiful, fashionable and sought after by every photographer. When their office is broken into and Tommy disappears, Viviana befriends Tallulah in an effort to put a kibosh on the bad guys. If Tallulah refuses to marry the old man her pops betrothed her to - then how will she become the heir to his dynasty? With the help of her best girlfriends from the boarding house Viviana sets out to solve the mystery and maybe save Tommy at the same time. Clearly set in the vernacular of 1950’s NYC, this adorable whodunit was an absolute page turner. Like watching an old movie come to life; the clothes, romance, food and social behaviors of the time was simply coolsville! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Yours Truly

Briana’s divorce is days from being finalized. Her brother’s kidneys are failing and he anxiously awaits a donor match. Her promotion to be lead ER doctor at the hospital she has dedicated herself to for the last decade has been postponed. Anything else? Oh, right, Briana is living in the crumbling home she grew up in with ugly shag carpet and childhood posters staring her down. In walks Dr. Jacob Maddox. He just transferred from Memorial West, is ridiculously handsome and out for HER promotion. One mishap after another has Briana and her staff keeping as far away as possible from Dr. Death aka the new guy. Until one day Jacob writes Briana a letter. In pen! On Paper! Jacob has been misunderstood. His severe panic attacks keep him at arms length, prevent him from the typical social interactions one might expect. He is smart and warm and kind to the patients and in no way wants Briana’s job, although he is beginning to enjoy her attention. Jacob has recently suffered his own horrible uncoupling. He now needs a pretend girlfriend for an upcoming wedding to get his meddlesome family off his back. They begin a shockingly easy friendship. Briana calms him, understands him. Jacob makes her feel safe. While neither could have imagined a new relationship so soon after heartbreak they may be the solution to both their problems. Wonderful romcom filled with adorable characters and an abundance of life lessons. This follow up to Part of Your World is a spring must read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Exes and O's

Tara Chen has had no luck with men. Most recently her (ex)fiancĂ© called off their wedding. After months of sadness camped out at her sister’s house, she is swapping places with Crystal’s soon to be husband. From the moment Tara arrives at her new apartment she knows she is in trouble. Trevor Metcalfe is a beyond handsome hunk firefighter with a string of one night stands every day of the week. Trying to get out of her own funk Tara, aka the romance queen online, takes her book loving followers to the next level. She challenges herself with her favorite trope - second chance romance. Desperate for love and a date for the Valentine’s Gala at the hospital where she works, Tara compiles a list of her ten great loves that broke her heart. One by one she searches for each guy, some she hasn’t seen since her playground days but as her grandma always said, men get better with age. At the same time while keeping an arm’s length (or more) from Mr. Hot Roommate, Trevor becomes her sounding board helping Tara reel back her clingy tendency so as not to scare away every one of her potentials. Their growing connection “as friends” (wink wink) is perfect while Tara tears apart the list one victim at a time. BIG HUGE laugh out loud romcom, I adored every single page of this addictive page turner. *Note - I didn’t know this was #2 in The Influencer series and I didn’t read #1. Exes and O’s can definitely stand alone!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, January 9, 2023

Ms. Demeanor

This book is really funny. I had to lead with that because I was smiling and laughing the entire read! Jane Morgan is a 39 year old attorney at a prestigious firm in NYC. While having a few drinks with an associate on her apartment building’s rooftop, these two consenting adults have some moonlight sex. Next thing Jane knows the police are knocking at her door and she is arrested. A nearby building with a peeping tom was apparently traumatized - while recording - this public display of affection. The ridiculousness of the entire escapade lands Jane in court representing herself. Unfortunately the judge did not find any of it funny. Fired for relations with her employee, license suspended by the NY bar and most jarring - 6 months of house arrest. Her identical twin sister, a successful dermatologist tries everything in her power to keep Jane busy and productive during this home confinement. As she learns to manage her new life Jane befriends a fellow felon living in the building (ankle bracelet giving his identity away). An avid cook, Jane is hired to make meals for this handsome but reserved neighbor who orders food 7 days a week. As their chemistry starts to sizzle Jane wonders if there may be a bright side to being stuck home. The fun doesn’t stop there as Jane becomes obsessed with the bizarre circumstances following the snitch, post trial. Thoroughly enjoyed this amazing cast of quirky characters! Highly recommend! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Winterland

In the Soviet Union in 1973 Anya was just a little girl with a dream. At eight years old they finally knocked on her door. Would it be ballet or gymnastics? With the help of her father she prepares and is selected for the local sports school to become a gymnast. Anya is a determined little girl. Their family lives in a remote mining village called Norilsk in Siberia. She wants to be the best to represent her country and help her family. Their grim and grueling life has many hardships. Food is scarce, the weather is bitter and her mother, a once famous ballerina,  mysteriously disappeared three years ago. The only teeny tiny bit of light in Anya’s life is her neighbor Vera. An old wizened woman who spent many years in the Gulag offers Anya the warmth and love she is so desperate to win. Her competitive nature comes from within and throughout her gymnastics journey she never stops reaching for more. The reader can feel the biting wind and below Arctic temperatures along with the physical stamina and unimaginable training both mentally and physically that these young women must endure. This novel takes the reader vividly back to some of the most infamous years of gymnastics and life in the U.S.S.R. Mesmerizing detail and a wonderful array of characters. This superb story is a must read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Someone Else's Shoes

Samantha Kemp, an average London middle aged woman finally finds the time to use the gym pass her teenage daughter has given her. Out of shape and a little intimidated she manages a swim and as she is changing in the locker room her work team alerts that she is late for a critical meeting and they are waiting outside. Quickly grabbing the nearest gym duffle she hurries out to the van and it is too late when she realizes she grabbed the wrong bag. In need of shoes on her feet she has no choice but wear this strangers apparel which happen to be bright red 6 inch Christian Louboutin heels, you know the ones with the red bottom that cost a gazillion dollars. Initially intimidated and barely able to walk Sam does wonderfully in a succession of sales calls and deems the shoes good luck. At the same time Nisha (the bag’s rightful owner) is left with Sam’s old duffle and worn out pair of black flats. Furious, Nisha has a lot more to be angry about. When she returns to the penthouse hotel where she is staying with her husband of 18 years she is speedily kicked to the curb with literally nothing. She has witnessed her powerful rich husband Carl destroy others but never imagined (well, maybe just a little) that it could happen to her. Two very different women struggling with one disaster after another become entangled in their common struggle to survive. What started out as funny and light became increasingly repetitive. By the end I could not wait to get off this unimaginable and completely ridiculous roller coaster. Will never stop reading this author but sadly this one is barely like not love. ⭐️⭐️

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Our Missing Hearts

Bird is a 12 yr old boy living with his dad in Boston. It is some time in the future and after the “Crisis" the government revitalized the economy by blaming China and subsequently the Asian communities in the United States for all of their problems. Being a good American now meant spying on your neighbors. Turning in anyone who seemed unpatriotic. In turn the government would quickly find you and deem your children were in danger of becoming unpatriotic and “replace” them to another home. Bird and his dad live a very quiet existence. After his mom Margaret left them they lay low desperate to remain anonymous and not be associated with her rebellious actions. Margaret was a thoughtful poet and of Chinese dissent. She thought leaving Bird with Ethan would protect them. Three years after she left Bird still cannot imagine never seeing his mom again. He is determined to find her and get answers to the questions that haunt him at night. I have loved other books by this author but this one was not for me. Although it had glowing reviews, I did not understand or like any of the characters and couldn’t wait for it to end. :( ⭐️⭐️


The Pirate's Wife

Sarah Bradley was born in England circa 1665. After her mother died, Sarah helped raise her younger brothers while her seafaring father was away. Maturing quickly due to her circumstance, Sarah was married off to William Cox at only 15 years old when the Bradley’s arrived in the New York Colony. Becoming even more self sufficient with natural business acumen Sarah quickly married again after the untimely demise of Cox. When John Oort passed soon after Sarah met Captain William Kidd, a dashing and adventurous man with a reputation that followed him everywhere. As Sarah was already a beautiful and well-to-do woman with multiple businesses and land acquisitions - unheard of for women during this time period - the two became somewhat of a power couple. When the dashing Captain made a privateering arrangement with duplicitous investors their  lives came crumbling down. Completely fascinating account of a period in history that most know little about. The conditions for women, whims of a monarchy and a colony on the cusp of change, this author brings history to life revealing shocking secrets and possible scenarios. Non-fiction that reads like fiction, I did not want it to end. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

French Kissed

Fleur Marceaux is in her last year at the International School in London. Her best friends are all moving forward and making plans while she feels absolutely lost - barely passing her classes and no idea what to do after graduation. Fleur was so confident her future included her boyfriend Costa, but that was before she lost the baby and he dumped her for another girl. Fleur never imagined getting her life back on track would include Max, the American. Not her type by a long shot but when she finally gives him a chance their chemistry is electrifying. Together they figure out the value that lies beneath a true friendship. This was #3 in an older series by Chanel Cleeton - when she wrote a completely different genre of young romance. I remembered liking the first two much more but it’s always nice to wrap up a series. Cute easy paced story. If you haven’t read it yet, definitely start at the beginning. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Flirting With the Beast

Andi McDermott has been a widow for the last five years. Having never had children, her entire adult life was spent taking care of Kevin, their home and social life. Without him she has felt completely lost. Hastily Andi decides Christmas alone would be more tolerable at the cabin in Lake Arrowhead, a small mountain community in northern California. Her only distraction is Wolf, a neighbor she and her husband battled for years. A big, brawny man with rambunctious dogs and a loud motorcycle, she was always quite intimated and at the same time curious about this mystery man. Their paths quickly cross and this handsome hunk is more helpful than hurtful. His brutish manner is actually kind of hot. Although she is more nervous than she cares to admit, Andi makes an effort to be neighborly. Delightful late fifties romance with plenty of steam? I’m in. Filled with likable characters in a beautiful setting, this fast paced modern love story was perfect. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Other End of the Sea

Becky Klein grew up in the Midwest. A typical teenager Becky became more curious about her Jewish roots. Unfamiliar with the history and politics of Israel, Becky decides to travel to a kibbutz in Haifa during the summer of 1981. In a small garden near the kibbutz she befriends a young man who invites her to Gaza to meet his friends and family. This Palestinian activist, slightly older and infinitely more worldly, is intelligent and handsome - the two are instantly attracted to one another. Months later, their friendship grows and Becky moves to closer his neighborhood to teach English at the nearby Quaker school. She becomes immersed with a group of young people who belong to various global organizations trying to help the community in any way they can. Through decades Becky’s love affair with this man, his people and the land itself take her on a journey to places she could have never imagined. The Other End of the Sea is not just a love story and it’s not just about religion or politics. It’s depicts family, friendship and survival. A work of fiction that reads like a memoir, this is an outsider’s peek into a world few of us know much about. Thought provoking, sad and hopeful all at once. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Matchmaker's Gift

As the Glikman family make their way to America in 1910, young Sara Glikman sees a thread of light no-one else can see. This thread connects a handsome man on the ship with her older sister and she graciously introduces them. It is love at first sight. And so begins the illustrious career of a matchmaker. Sara’s gift does not slow on the bustling streets of the lower east side. Sara matches her lovely school teacher, the man who sells pickles and the daughter of the famous knish maker. It is not always easy for Sara. She is too young and unmarried - the men of this mostly religious community do not approve of her vocation. Most troubling to Sara, a romantic at heart, is how will she ever be able to find a match for herself? Many years later Sara’s granddaughter Abby is a high priced divorced attorney. Far from the love stories she heard growing up, her parent’s brutal divorce forced her to the darker side. Abby has a cutthroat boss and fortunes of famous clients to protect. When her beloved grandmother passes away Abby devours the journals she inherited. These diaries tell a different tale, one she never knew. Learning about her grandmother’s journey to help others, Abby is forced to face her own reluctance to believe in true love. Could this gift of light possibly be hers as well? Narrated by both women, this story is a heartwarming tale of hope and I loved very single minute of it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The House Party

New Falls, Pennsylvania is a picture perfect place to live. The river runs through beautifully manicured estates and old classic farms producing the charming effect of chic small town living. Maja Jensen, a NYC gallerist and her husband Ted have taken all of their savings and are building a modern McMansion on it’s willowy shores. Construction is almost complete and they couldn’t be more excited. It’s the end of the school year and local seniors find easy access to this uninhabited home. What begins as a relatively small group of seniors getting drunk quickly spirals out of control. This magnificent home is destroyed in a violent manner. These mostly good students who are off to college in just a few months begin to weave their stories as the investigation begins. But as the DA, Jake Tillman, and Detective Murray dig deeper they find signs of a much more complicated assault, drugs and local elitism that turn the case on its head. Narrated between the rocky marriage of the Jensens, relative strangers to New Falls and the families of these teens who all appear to be hiding something. Highly recommend this unexpected page turner. It’s a miracle we made it through high school. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, December 19, 2022

The Little Book of Hygge

Hygee, pronounced hoo-gah, is the Danish concept that consists of feelings of comfort. It can include food, music, decor and all elements that affect our senses giving people a feeling of coziness, closeness, safety and contentment. Dating back to the early 1800’s this lifestyle trend has been embraced by the Danish people. But you definitely don’t have to be Danish to enjoy and benefit from living a hygge life. After learning about hygge it becomes nearly impossible to escape the images that immediately begin to form in your mind, examining your own habits that are not bringing you as much joy as they used to. Our society does not allow us the necessary time with our family and friends or even quiet time just on our own. Hygge is about living in the moment, being present and allowing yourself to enjoy simplicity. As we rush through our fast paced world working hard, acquiring as much as possible, it is no wonder anxiety and depression are at an all time high. I remember preparing to leave the house when my son was little. He was very slowly tying his shoes and looked up at me with his serious little face and asked “Mommy, are we in a rush?” I must admit, sometimes there is no choice but I bet we could all use a bit of hygge in our lives. This little easy to read book is the perfect place to start. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Better Than Fiction

Drew Young never imagined she would own and run her grandmother’s popular bookshop called the Book Nook. Having grown up in Colorado, Drew’s dream was to travel through her state’s beautiful landscapes, creating adventures and photographing the magnificent sights. After her dear grandmother passes away, Drew is left with heartache and a huge responsibility to care for the bookshop. When Jasper Williams shows up at a book club event she is breathless. Drew never expected him to be so young and so handsome. This author of romance novels leaves her unexpectedly speechless. Charming though he may be, Jasper is shocked to learn that Drew is not an avid reader. They make a deal. Drew will provide Jasper with a Colorado bucket list to assist with the setting of his latest bestseller and he will carefully introduce Drew into the world of booklovers. Let the games begin. Filled with romcom mishaps and adorable characters, this quick easy book about books is too good to put down. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Eight Nights of Flirting

There is nothing like Nantucket for the holidays. The Barbanel family have been celebrating Hanukah at their summer home on the island for generations. From Boston, NY and other surrounding cities this large group of aunts, uncles and numerous cousins descend upon their grandparents historical mansion for a week of latkes, lights and laughter. Shira Barbanel, a smart, funny, fairly innocent sixteen year old has always looked forward to this magical family holiday. This year even more excited, handsome Isaac, her great uncle’s assistant will be joining them. She arrives at the Nantucket airport on her own only to find the entire family is delayed due to bad weather. As she waits for a taxi none other than Tyler Nelson sidles up next to her. Tyler (aka former hot crush/next door neighbor who she avoids at all costs) agrees to share a ride. Shira unexpectedly reconnects with her past nemesis. He even agrees to her crazy plan. Shira will introduce Tyler to her well connected uncle for an internship and in return Tyler will teach Shira how to flirt with Isaac. Eight days and nights of perfect adorableness, the memory of my sixteen year old self enjoyed every single moment. Quick easy YA holiday story. I haven’t read too many Hanukkah romcoms so this was a treat. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Christmas Dress

After Meg’s father passes away she returns to the heart of Chicago. Facing the brutal cold and concept that she is now literally an orphan Meg arrives at Parkview apartments where all her childhood memories are hidden away, many too painful to face. Her father has left her this building, its longtime curious tenants and the many daily problems to contend with. Leaving the dazzling world of fashion behind in NYC along with her ex-boyfriend Drake has not been easy, but Meg is determined to make her father proud. Assisted by Sylvie, Ellie and handsome handyman Logan - Meg must find a way to repair and restore this crumbling historic site to its former glory. Filled with unexpected romance, friendship and even a mystery involving a magical dress - as Christmas approaches so do the miracles of the holiday season. Enjoyed and recommend this sweet and quick holiday read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️