Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Two If By Sea

On Christmas Eve Frank Mercy’s life changes forever. He is an ex-cop/current horse trainer living in Brisbane, Australia. Having run off to escape his misery when an accident dismantled his beloved career and left him with an awful limp, Frank has finally found happiness and love. His recent marriage to Natalie and her beloved close-knit family has filled Frank’s life back up with more emotional connections than he ever dreamed possible. Until Christmas Eve, when he left his beautiful bride for only a small walk and a tsunami destroyed their entire world. On a volunteer rescue mission, during complete and utter chaos Frank saves a little boy named Ian. He cannot resist this small silent boy who was orphaned by this horrible calamity. Law abiding Frank decides to follow his heart instead of the rules and now his life, his future has irretrievably changed course forever. Home in Wisconsin on the family farm Frank comes back to life, he meets and trains Claudia, an Olympic hopeful. His family is extremely supportive and thrilled to have him near once again. But Ian is “special” and as the piles of lies and stories begin to muck up their lives, the difficult truth emerges and so do the bad guys. I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful page-turner filled with love, family, friendship and a little boy who could change the world and everyone in it. Highly recommend this fabulous new read!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Admissions

As April 1 (April Fools Day!) approaches, it only means one thing to highschool seniors around the country, college decision time is here. The Admissions, by fabulous author Meg Mitchell Moore, follows the Hawthorne family through this harrowing ordeal. Dad, a successful businessman; Mom, hanging out her real estate shingle and their kids Maya, Cecily and Angela. They seem like an average busy American family living in one of the most competitive expensive areas in the country, northern California. Angela is fiercely fighting for her place as track team star, valedictorian and successful highschool senior while maintaining good daughter, sister and friend status and is at her wits end. As Angela navigates this slippery slope she finds dangerous ways to stay up later, run faster and fight harder, the only thing on her mind is Harvard, Early Decision. Her battle for this position strains the entire family and their perfect picture begins to crumble. If this sounds like an exaggeration or dramatic play on college applications, it most certainly is not. It is an accurate measure of the insanely scary process tempting even the most conservative, protective parents who swear they will never subject their children to this over the top behavior. The possibility of the lottery like effect is too tempting even to the most concerned parents. Absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed this amazing new novel. Hilarious at times and heartening at others, I could not put this fabulous read! 

I'll See You In Paris

When Laurel was in college in Berkeley she thought of herself as a free spirit. Beautiful, smart and engaged to a boy from a prominent Boston family - considered way out of her league – she was full of life, hope and every dream a young girl could possibly have. These visions are destroyed as the Vietnam War heightens, her fiancĂ© enlists and is tragically killed. Laurel is stripped of every happiness she has ever known and every plan made. She finds a job in the English countryside as a watchful companion of a wealthy, eccentric woman thought to be the infamous and scandalous Duchess of Marlborough, who has been living a secluded, isolated life under an alias.  Thirty years later secrets catch up with Laurel as her daughter, Annie, accompanies her back to the English countryside to finish some paperwork and bury her past even deeper than she already has. But Annie, clever and curious, begins to put the pieces together. Who exactly lived in the rambling, decrepit home, what importance does the old book have that she swiped from her mother and who exactly is her biological father? Fabulous author Michelle Gable takes us on a whirlwind journey through the unbreakable bond of mother and daughter. When the truth is finally uncovered there is nothing Laurel would not do to protect the one she loves. Highly recommend this easy enjoyable read. Ms. Gable’s first book, A Paris Apartment, was outstanding and I equally enjoyed my journey through the English countryside. Although, I note that although Paris is in this title, the story has little to do with Paris, as her first novel did.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Vegetarian

Life in South Korea seemed simple to Yeong-Hye.
A quietly married girl. Sensible. A wonderful cook and obedient wife. Her husband seemed to have the best intentions, although they had nothing to do with her happiness. She never complained, until the nightmares began. Recurring horrible dreams containing misunderstood violence and a lot of blood, force Yeong-Hye to become a vegetarian. She cannot eat meat, look at meat or be near anyone with meat. Her husband does not understand. Her restrictive family thinks she is losing her mind. And very slowly and sadly she does. Yeong-Hye’s sister tries her very best to understand her as she fades away both physically and mentally. She loves her sister. Even when Yeong-Hye’s husband abandons her and she herself is betrayed by her own artistic good for nothing husband, she wants to save Yeong-Hye, from her worst enemy, herself. This was a very beautifully written narrative of a young woman’s choices, the ones we make, and the ones out of our control. It is a simple thought provoking and unique look at a life, here, there or anywhere. It is a strange story, but I liked it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

In Other Words

I have read everything Pulitzer Prize winning author
Jhumpa Lahiri has written. I read her books slowly and carefully so I can absorb her beautifully written words. Although many fans feel her stories of immigrant families must be about her life, they are just stories. In Other Words is Jhumpa Lahiri’s first memoir and it is most certainly written from deep within her heart. This is her journey to establish herself and her family in Italy, a long held dream she has finally made reality. She has a passionate love affair with learning Italian, a language she has studied for many years but feels she has not mastered. Ms. Lahiri has challenged herself to only read and write in Italian for the few years she is living there. This is a thoughtful, pleasant read if you are interested in language, the written and spoken words that help us communicate ourselves to everyone else all over the world. This book is a bit repetitive but because it is short and wonderfully expressed, it is so very easy to read. It reminds me of another book about language, the love and learning of Hindi (Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich) and the science of how we are affected and emotionally attached by our first language compared to those that are learned later in life. I recommend In Other Words only if this subject truly interests you - otherwise you may be too disappointed it is not one of her breathtaking family sagas.

Home Sweet Anywhere

Author Lynne Martin says “Postpone Nothing.” I say,
after reading her terrific memoir, I couldn’t agree more! This easy to read, well organized book is a glimpse into the adventures Lynne and Tim Martin, who have (at 70) retired and decided to live the home free life. They sell most of what they own; including their home, cars and many of their belongings (some of course goes into storage) – with their laptops and one bag each the Martins travel around the world staying in places that most of us only dream of. They are adventurous yet practical and Tim is an excellent planner. The internet helps with detailed travel arrangements and obtain a lot of good advice and tips which the Martins openly share. But most of their lessons are learned on the road and with the excitement there are also moments of stress and annoyance, as to be expected. They begin with a repositioning cruise from Florida to Europe. In some countries they opt to rent furnished apartments for weeks and in others they stay in various hotels for shorter stays. Sometimes they are in the heart of a city and often they are driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the lane and looping endlessly around traffic circles that seem to never end. Both avid readers, writers and art lovers who enjoy trying new foods and meeting new people, I devoured their experiences and immediately began my wish list. For someone who travels mostly through books, I may break out of my shell yet. Well, a girl can dream! Highly recommend this fun, exciting peek into a wonderful experience of living home free!