Isla and Sarah have been best friends for more than 2 decades. They spend their summers at the idyllic Sandbank where their huts are quaint and cozy and right next door to each other. Their sons were inseparable until the day they were separated forever. At 10 years old Jacob and Marley were swept up by the current and only Jacob returned. Isla’s life is never okay again. The sadness penetrates so deeply that after 7 years she still has moments when she can hardly breathe. For Jacobs 17th birthday he goes to a party with his friends at another hut and does not return. Sarah and Nick search every inch of his belongings, speak to his friends and scour the island but Jacob cannot be found. The police are called, the residents of the Sandbank are distraught and questioned extensively. No-one knows anything and yet every seems to know something Sarah did not. Every day bits of evidence pile on and more clues steer Sarah in her desperate search for her son and the truth. Fabulous author Lucy Clarke has once again written an unputdownable novel filled with suspense and mystery. Incredible characters lead us through this tight maze of friendship and family. Highly recommend this fabulous read - you will LOVE (and check out her other 3 as well!)
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
When the Birch family is quarantined for 7 days in the English countryside for the holidays it is anything but a very merry. The eldest sister Olivia, a physician, is coming back from volunteer work in Africa. Because she may have been exposed to the virus, the family has decided to stay in the old crumbling, still beautiful family home far from the city. Father is a cantankerous food writer whose reviews reflect his general world complaints, Mother has just been told the lump she found is cancer and is keeping it a secret until after Christmas and the youngest daughter Phoebe has gotten engaged to her longtime boyfriend (who may like boys more than girls) and is way more concerned with the size of her ring than a deadly disease from her sister. When Olivia’s secret Irish boyfriend (volunteers were not supposed to touch for exactly this reason) collapses minutes after his plane lands she hides their relationship. This witty, fast paced, very British novel was a hoot. Each character is delectably ridiculous and smart in their own entertaining way. Really enjoyed and highly recommend this debut novel. Definitely look forward to more from author Francesca Hornak.
Cassie has been flying the friendly skies since she finished college. It was a way to escape her small Kentucky life, the loss of her parents and guilt of her younger sister being placed in foster care. She is pretty and a flirt, an excellent flight attendant. She is also a functioning alcoholic and as the years have passed the forgotten nights and strange hotel beds aren’t as sexy as they once were. Cassie is on a coveted flight to Dubai, and a very handsome younger man is in her section. On arrival she has dinner with him and ends up back at his hotel. But when she wakes in the morning he is not moving, there is blood everywhere, Cassie remembers nothing. At that moment Cassie has quick decisions to make. Choices that will change the trajectory of her life forever. Who is this man? What will she tell her coworkers? Why was she spared? Much like a spy, like an actress, binge drinkers are great liars because there are always blank spaces and situations that don’t make sense. So begins her parade of stories, one lie leading to the next. She must appease her crew, get rid of the broken bottle, her stained purse and convince her sister she is nothing like their father. The story snowballs. Cassie is front page news. The FBI, the CIA, the Union, her lawyer - all want to know. The deeper the web weaves the less people Cassie can trust. Because in the end - who is really going to believe a drunk anyway? This heart thumping suspense all rolled up into one giant wave of words that keeps crashing on you over and over. Unexpected twists and turns at every corner with a main character you find yourself unexpectedly rooting for. Bestselling author Chris Bohjalian has done it again. You are going to LOVE this one!
Friday, December 22, 2017
As the last movie of the trilogy approaches it was fun to read Darker, the latest read in the Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele saga. The story continues through Christians eyes. (first one called Grey) An abusive early childhood still haunts his dreams and he cannot bare to be touched. Christian wins Ana back and they continue their smoldering tumultuous relationship. This time around he wants to change, try things her way. With no contracts and the future wide open they begin to move forward with their undying love and intense sexual attraction. There is the mysterious Leila, his ex-sub that has reappeared and is stalking them, Ana’s creepy boss is waiting in the shadows to make his jealous moves and Elena (Mrs. Robinson) cannot accept that Christian actually wants to change his life. Repetitive rollercoaster of emotions keeps these two on their toes and in the throes of passion. Like it or not (and I did!) only 54 days until Fifty Shades Freed.
Lorena Hickok, better known as Hick, met Eleanor Roosevelt while working as a reporter in 1932, just before Franklin D. Roosevelt became President of the United States. This was the beginning of the love story that consumed both hearts for the rest of their lives. Lorena had grown up dirt poor in small town USA. She was abused and lonely but her quick wit and determination led her to become the nation’s best known female reporter. Eleanor, distant niece of Theodore and fifth cousin of Franklin grew up in a famous wealthy family and attended English finishing school. She was undoubtedly the most famous First Lady and her desire to save the world one act of kindness at a time filled her years in the White House with incomparable success. She and Franklin had six children. Franklin had many, many relationships outside of the marriage and Eleanor had Hick. Hick was known as the First Friend. Narrated through Hick’s sharp, humorous, intelligence and deep love for Eleanor this fast paced peek into the lives of these fascinating women was completely unputdownable. I have loved all of author Amy Blooms’ novels and this latest is at the very top of my must read 2018 list. Her writing and choice of words as the story was whispered in my ear captured my imagination and heart. Amy Bloom has put her magical touch on these historical figures and it is as if she went back in time and they told her what to write. Highly recommend this incredible read.
Monday, December 4, 2017
Mr. and Mrs. Jha have lived a comfortable life in their tight knit East Delhi complex. All the neighbors know each others business - from whats hanging on their laundry line to who is currently dating who. When their son goes off to America to study business (a major coup) and Mr. Jha unexpectedly comes into a large sum of money, their neighbors/friends go off the deep end. Mr. Jha instantly moves the family to the wealthy suburbs and tries his hardest to keep up with the Delhi Jonses. In a very witty, quirky, Indian fashion their simple lives are turned upside down. Their son fails out of school (an enormous disgrace!), their equally ostentatious new neighbors want them to join the club, and their widowed neighbor finds true love. This light hearted, breezy, laugh out loud novel was an unexpected pleasure to read. Bet it would be a hilarious movie!
It’s December 1999. Ben and Tatum begin a whirlwind romance right out of a movie. Literally. They are both in grad school in NYC; Ben as a writer and Tatum, an actress. She stars in his Indie short film that shoots him to Hollywood notoriety. They become inseparable and their careers soar with limitless possibility. But as the years go on, their marriage is struggling. Mistakes, secrets, pain and losses can no longer be ignored. All the dreams they once had are hampered by the reality that is Hollywood. The gossip, long hours and trajectory of fame is relentless and unforgiving. The memories that Ben carries of his Dad’s expectations smother every bit of his success. Regret and jealousy become too heavy to manage. The story is narrated through the eyes of Ben and Tatum and alternates between their meeting in 1999, the present and every year in between. Although the timeline can seem confusing at times and must be followed very closely, the clear honest voices of these characters easily pulls the reader into their hearts and lives. Don’t miss this enjoyable read, especially if you’d like a peek at the movie star world we all devour in the tabloids!
Saturday, December 2, 2017
Graham’s second wife Audra is everything he is not; young, bubbly, talkative, and friendly, an extremely quirky character. Her light hearted attempts to genuinely be kind to all people and continuously speak her mind (zero filter with a smile!) lands her in the most precarious situations. Graham, much more of a straight laced type of guy loves her to pieces but she pretty much exhausts him on a daily basis. Taking care of their young son with Aspergers is difficult but in Audra’s world the glass is most certainly full. When Graham connects with his disturbingly type A ex wife Elspeth, their renewed friendship becomes quickly awkward and complicated. This laugh out loud exploration of marriage, first and second - grass is not always greener - is an enjoyable fast paced read. Definitely have to be in the mood for these silly, slightly over the top scenarios but solid writing and characters and I would definitely read more from author Katherine Heiny.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
It is hard to come down to earth after a read like this. The memoir by Hyeonseo Lee, one of her many names throughout her 12 year journey, from teenager in North Korea to defector and asylum seeker living in Seoul, South Korea. The only way to describe this memoir is unimaginable. The bravery she possessed in changing her life when she had no idea what to expect from the outside world, leaving her entire family and heading to a most uncertain future - is astounding. To continue to put one foot in front of the other and solve problem after problem in a foreign land at such a young age is a feat of intelligence and pure determination. Aside from the fact of how interesting (and shocking) her actual path was, this story brings to mind how thoroughly complacent we can become in the comforts of our lives. Hyeonseo had nothing. By nothing, I mean less than nothing. The only thing that kept her going was oftentimes the memory of her loving mother and brother whom she did not see for 12 long years. This fast paced, captivating memoir is a must read. There is so much to learn from Hyeonseo about hope, compassion and the fight for freedom. Also, check out her Ted Talk. A must watch.
Friday, November 24, 2017
Tova Mirvis grew up in a small Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, Tennessee. Her family is well rounded, intellectual, loving and kind. Her parents unconditionally supported their children and their choices as they grew up. Tova always dreamed of being a writer and attended Columbia University in NYC where she honed her talent and met her future husband. She remained true to her family traditions and always walked the careful line of what is allowed and what is not. Who is good and who is better. As Tova’s small family grows they make their way to the suburbs of Boston. In this perfect little house, with her three beautiful children Tova’s questions become too heavy, the answers no longer easily shrugged away. She is torn between the strict faith her husband adheres to, the explanations her children demand and daggers of disappointment found in the eyes of her community as she strays further and further from their world. This heartbreaking memoir is Tova’s emotional journey leaving her religious community and her marriage, both overwhelming attempts at discovering the life she was meant to live while leaving so much behind. Well written, softly spoken, this memoir was both eye opening and incredibly sad. But sometimes even hard unanswerable questions must be asked if we want to live a life of truth and honesty. I look forward to hearing this author speak next week at the Boynton Beach JCC Book Fair.
Beartown is a small community hidden away in a deep dark forest where temperatures plummet and everyone lives for hockey. The Beartown Bears Junior Team have been working for ten years towards this very moment. To the surprise of the rest of the country they are in the National Semi-Finals. But to Coach David, these boys have given every ounce of blood, sweat and tears they possibly could to this game, to this team, to him. As the big game approaches, a tragedy occurs that leaves a young girl traumatized and the entire season hanging in the wind. A small town needs to dig deep in their hearts to learn the difference between good and evil, loyalty and denial, crime and punishment. I neither like nor dislike hockey. I did not thoroughly enjoy this authors previous book but I cannot say loudly enough how much I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book called Beartown. It is absolutely unputdownable and my mind exploded through the entire journey. Author Fredrik Backman’s prose is so gently descriptive you can feel the cold chilling your bones, hear the scrape of the ice and bang bang bang of the puck. These characters came alive and will remain in my imagination for a long time to come. Highly recommend this incredible read.
Monday, November 20, 2017
When Clara Kelly steps off the ship she is so thrilled to be on solid ground, it is not difficult to follow the sound of her name being called. She easily falls into a carriage headed for Pittsburgh in the shoes of another Clara Kelly who did not survive the ocean crossing. Suddenly swept up into a world she never imagined, Clara finds herself as a ladies maid for Mrs. Carnegie, the stern but brilliant mother of Andrew, industrialist and business magnate. Clara, daughter of an Irish farmer that insisted his girls be highly educated, begins an unexpected friendship with Andrew. As her teacher and mentor the two fall into a pattern of trust and honesty that is rarely found between a man and a woman at the time, certainly outrageous for a servant and master of the house. While Clara sends money home to help her struggling family, she is burdened by her own secrets and dreams of a future where she can be free to work and thrive. Once again, incredible author Marie Benedict brings history to life with this intriguing, emotional, deeply touching story of America and the dreams it holds for us all. Highly recommend this incredible new novel. A must read!!
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Nellie, a preschool teacher in New York City, is about to marry Richard Thompson. Successful, attractive, attentive - the perfect guy. After all she has been through in her life he seems too good to be true. Her Aunt Charlotte is hesitant, but polite. Her roommate Sam does not click with him and his only family is a sister whom he is unusually close with. This twisted triangle could not be more suspenseful as Richard, Prince Charming himself, has swept Nellie off her feet and offers her the life she has always dreamed of. Until the day her dream turns into a nightmare. Nellie doesn’t know what is real anymore. (Neither does the reader!) Who can she trust. Is she really crazy just like her mother. Apparently Richard is good at a lot of things, especially in the details. Reminiscent of The Girl On The Train, this suspenseful novel was an unputdownable roller coaster of creepy emotions and coincidences. Great character development and full of surprises. If you enjoy thrillers and who done it’s, highly recommend this chilling romance.
Monday, November 6, 2017
Madeleine is in a really unhappy marriage. Her handsome, successful husband had everything on paper that her mother always dreamed of and she finally succumbed to the pressure that marriage was the key to life’s happiness. Sadly, it wasn’t. Over time her controlling husband became more demanding and Madeleine found her own dreams had long faded. What was supposed to be a weekend to assist her mother with some packing became an extended stay and eventually an escape to her hometown where her spirit had been abandoned years ago. After discovering her grandmothers diary and reading about her bold adventures in Paris, Madeleine finds the strength to dig deeper, rediscover the art she once loved and open herself to new friends and the possibility of real love. Narrated back and forth between the present and the diary, I thoroughly enjoyed this deliciously easy story of finding ones true self. The author’s captivating writing and dreamy settings were a wonderful getaway. Highly recommend this fabulous read.
The year is 1908 and four young women are the best of friends sharing their lives in Boston. In the North End a mix of Jewish, Italian and Irish families live together in the tenement buildings, sharing hall bathrooms and gossip on the stoop. Mostly shopkeepers and factory workers their lives revolve around family and trying to put a hot meal on the table to enjoy Sunday dinner. These women belong to the SEG, known as the Saturday Evening Girls, where they meet to talk, dance and socialize. Beginning to attend these meetings when they are just 13 yrs old, they have been inseparable ever since. As the old country demands, their immigrant parents are set on arranged marriages and having babies as quickly as possible. These young friends have been tainted with the American Dream. They want to study, have businesses of their own and definitely choose their marriage for love. Completely enjoyable, breezy telling of a bygone era with these lovely ladies fighting for their rights while respecting their parents beliefs. Well written account of friendship, love and family. Highly recommend this delightful read.
Friday, November 3, 2017
Tyra Miller has grown up in the Bronx enveloped in the love of her tight knit family. Her older sister who suffers from an extremely debilitating case of scoliosis has been the focus of her parents heartache and worry. It is the 1960’s and the Miller family leads a pretty stereotypical Jewish New York life for the times; grandparents live upstairs, grandmother cooks enormous amount of food, grandfather is a tailor, father runs a luncheonette, and they vacation once a year in the Catskills. Tyra matures and focuses on Judaic Studies and the Hebrew language. She is finally ready to break free of their suffocating apartment and go to Israel for one year of a masters study program. It is 1966 when many of her high school friends are shipped off to Viet Nam and Tyra journeys on a ship to Israel. Looking for love, acceptance and mostly freedom, Tyra is disappointed when none of it comes very easily. It is sometimes only in reflection that one can fully appreciate the experiences at hand. At times I felt like I was reading a diary narrated by Tyra, often chapters were solely letters rebounding between Israel and her friends and family at home and once in a while I wasn’t sure who was telling the story. Had it been 20 years later, and Tel Aviv University instead of Jerusalem, it would be pretty close to the journal tucked away in my drawer from the year I spent abroad. The same conflicts, snarky cute soldiers, amazing food and too many cigarettes. I really liked this story albeit it was a little too long and slow. If you find any connection at all, you will smile all the way through.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Modern day Mrs. Robinson, Eve Fletcher, is a brand new empty nester, long ago divorced and recently labeled a MILF - which she had to google. At 46 yrs old, Eve is quite attractive and not “unhappy” but her job at the senior center, which she is very good at, is quite mundane. She decides to shake things up a bit by taking a class at the community college where she finds a transgender professor searching for love and befriends a class full of misfits, including a much younger admirer. At the same time, her son Brendan is struggling through his freshman year at college. Having been the popular jock in high school, aspiring frat boy is not getting the thrills he once did partying and not exactly passing. Still thinking school should be a breeze and any girl at his feet Brendan is suddenly finding it hard to find his place at the top of the ladder. As mother and son dive into their new lives, both searching for love and acceptance, this laugh out loud novel carries a lot of truth along with the pain. Highly recommend this take on American culture through the ages.
Lucy Wakefield has big plans. She escapes her small town in upstate New York and arrives in the big city ready for the world. In the early 1980’s women had to claw their way into management. Lucy and her young husband put off having children with the notion that they have all the time in the world. After years of success at work they are finally ready for a family but unfortunately biology does not agree. Though they painstakingly try for years the couple ultimately separate after infertility stress has torn the marriage apart. One ordinary day Lucy finds herself staring at a young baby in a cart at Ikea. And then she is in the parking lot. And then she is in her home, afraid of how to return the baby and knowing deep down inside - she does not want to. Narrated in very (minute!) chapters from various characters, Lucy’s story of her life with Mia, motherhood and ultimately being found out is a fast paced novel I could not put down. Initially finding no way to connect with a kidnapper, the reader must admit Lucy wholeheartedly loves Mia and raises her into a beautiful young woman. The end left me hanging a little but perhaps that was the point. Although a painful situation to even consider, this book reads swiftly and easily kept the pages turning. What Was Mine will certainly be a hot topic to discuss at my next book club meeting.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Private Detective Liam Taggart receives a devastating phone call from his cousin Janie in Ireland. Sadly, his Uncle Fergus, who practically raised him has passed away. Although Liam has not been back to Northern Ireland in 16 years and he and his family parted badly, he decides to attend and pay his respects for Fergus and the possibility of making amends with the family he dearly misses. After the will is read, Liam is shocked to learn he is the trustee of a complicated beneficiary chain and that Fergus has been mysteriously murdered. Reflecting on his childhood, and later CIA days, Liam will have to work hard to regain the trust of the family while trying to keep them safe and unraveling these buried secrets. With a wife and baby son at home he finds it difficult to stay in this contentious position that turns deadly. Loved this fourth book of author Ronald Balson. Following the twists and turns and violent past of Ireland’s Troubles, Liam is the star detective we have always rooted for finally on his home turf with the cute accent to boot. Highly recommend this suspenseful read and cannot wait to meet this fabulous author at the Boynton Beach JCC luncheon in December.
You took the words right out of my head. (I was going to write them - not say them) Books have always been my friends. They take me on trips around the world and through the ages. They introduce me, humor me, seduce me and enchant me every single day. This new book of letters and lists by very funny, smart and talented librarian Annie Spence, takes a look at how books throughout her life have influenced her for better and for worse. Never a waste of time, even a bad book has taught you something. Mainly to pass it on as quickly as possible. Life Readers (noun) face anxieties that never cross the mind of a typical non-reader. Once you start a book, do you have to finish? (Most likely!) When you borrow a book, do you always return it? (Of course!) Do you admit to reading fun trashy books for pure pleasure? (Absolutely! #50shadesforever) Do you have book boyfriends? (Let’s leave that one to the imagination) If you absolutely love books, and love books about books and people who also love books - then you should read this book. Laugh out loud funny along with the do’s and don’ts of reading and library etiquette, I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. Thanks for the trip down memory lane Annie Spence, and yes, okay already, I will read the Virgin Suicides (I did love Middlesex).
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Absolutely nothing reminds me more of my childhood than Little House on the Prairie. Having read every book, very very young and then spending ten years watching the television series this story holds a special place in my heart. Caroline is a new novel, written by Sarah Miller and authorized by the Little House Estate. Although fiction, it follows closely to the time line of the family Ingalls and political state of America as pioneers moved west and Indians were displaced. Caroline narrates the one year journey her young family took to the Kansas prairie before heading back to Pepin, Wisconsin and later Walnut Grove. In an adult style reminiscent of the original, author Sarah Miller takes us through the hardships of traveling, building a home, feeding and caring for her family and heartwarmingly, her loving relationship with Charles. Yes, friends she really dug Charles! She details what its like to be a woman, a mother, sister and friend during a time in history when luxuries were few and physical labor took most of their daylight hours. Loved every single moment of this beautiful story and was sad to turn the last page. Highly recommend to all my reader friends!
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Since rocks, time and war cannot keep them apart, Claire finds her way back to Jamie twenty years later. With their daughter grown and Frank gone, Claire is free to live the life she was meant to live. Slightly more prepared this time around, equipped with knowledge and a few tools of the trade, she manages to find Jamie in Edinburgh and the love and adventures roar to life once again as if no time has passed at all. With the same brilliant suspenseful ambitions, the two set out to make change, make good and subsequently get themselves caught up with smugglers, pirates and some characters from the past. Set out to save Young Ian, the pair winds up on a ship to the Caribbean to experience new scenery along with death defying storms, cannons and epidemics. Having watched seasons 1 & 2 on STARZ, this was my first encounter with the 870 page monster book (3) I had been hearing so much about. Huge, detailed and taking me twice as long as any book I have read, I LOVED every single minute of this swashbuckling tale. Thanks to author Diana Gabaldon, I am ready to watch season 3 and continue my love affair with Jamie and Claire.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Eliza Barnes, daughter of a lobsterman from a small town in Maine, worked hard her whole life to break away from the fishing boats. With dreams of the Ivy League and medical school, Eliza leaves her high school sweetheart and widowed father to begin her journey. Plans slightly veered when Eliza gets married and finds herself living the country club life with a handsome husband and two beautiful daughters in Boston. This seemingly idyllic spell is broken when Eliza is called to help her father after an accident and finds him in a much more serious situation than she ever imagined. Staying in Maine for a bit to help her dad, she reconnects with her high school love and all the memories that they shared. At the same time she befriends a local teen who is searching for life’s answers that are not easily found. I loved the small town vibe and beautiful settings but was overall disappointed. Without giving spoilers, characters did not connect with each other or with me. Much of the dialogue was contrived and predictable. Luckily it was an easy read but sorry girls, it’s not on my recommend list.
Robin is a nine year old girl, living in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is 1976 and Robin sees the world through a typical child’s eyes, a white child growing up during the apartheid. She pretty much cares about her bike, spying on the neighborhood boys and her imaginary friend named Cat. When tragedy strikes and her parents are violently murdered Robin goes to live with her Aunt Edith, a feisty single woman who is a stewardess. Since Edith travels much of the time she hires Beauty to watch over and care for her niece. Beauty is a black schoolteacher that has left her peaceful village in search of her missing daughter Nomsa. It is believed that Nomsa, an intelligent, outspoken teenager has joined a military movement to fight for freedom. As Nelson Mandela sits in jail, the violence builds in South Africa and everyone’s life, both black and white is destined to change forever. Robin and Beauty create an unexpected friendship beyond that of a typical caretaker. Robin’s childlike innocence does not always match her actions as she learns about love, trust and family where color has no place. As Beauty searches for her own daughter she helps Robin heal and is probably the first person to always tell her the truth. This book is a beautifully written story during a time in history that was not very beautiful. It is sad that we still struggle today to see that beyond our differences we are bound together as one and should respect each other and this planet we call home.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
No matter where May Alcott goes, she is always the younger sister of famous authoress Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women. She is also Amy March, one of the main characters. She is the sister that must stay home and care for her family as her parents age. Even though May is filled with love for those around her, she is drowning in regret of the dreams she has for her own story. May is an artist. She draws and paints and wants to study art and become successful and independent like Louisa. During the later years of the 1800’s in Concord Massachusetts most women are married young and raise families. With her lovely looks and flowing curls, May is turning down her suitors in search of her real love, art. Her grit and determination take her to Italy, London and Paris. Her travels lead to opportunities she never imagined. This what-if historical take on the Alcott sisters is a beautiful story about families, especially sisterhood. The Alcott sisters want a life not easily acquired during this time. Many things we take for granted today were unheard of for women. Through extensive research author Elise Hooper creates a realistic tale of the endeavors taken on by May Alcott, the sister rarely mentioned, making her way in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this fabulous new read. Note: There is an extensive amount of detail regarding the art world May enters. These sections may feel lengthy for readers that have little interest in art. It does not detract from the beautiful story of these amazing sisters.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
The Owens family have been cursed and feared since the early 1600’s when Maria Owens was tried for witchery. This family has to live by certain rules, no crows, no cats, no intent to harm and most importantly - to never fall truly in love. Susanna runs away from their small town in Massachusetts to live her life in NYC, get lost in the crowds. She marries, not for love but for companionship. They have three beautiful children and for as hard as they try, they cannot ignore or run from the powers they were born with and blood that runs through their veins. Franny, the eldest beauty leads and protects her siblings Jet and Vincent, never straying from her responsibilities. The three are inseparable until the day their loves and lives tear them apart from the only life they have ever known. The Rules of Magic is the prequel to the huge bestseller and fabulous movie (Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman 1998!) Practical Magic. This is the story of Frances and Jet’s childhood and how they came to be the loved and fearsome spinster aunts to Gillian and Sally. Filled with spells, potions and promises, author Alice Hoffman could not have done a better job bringing us back into this magical world.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Julia and Cassie were best friends since they were very very young. Spending every moment of their idyllic childhood summers together, wandering, exploring and dreaming of the future. With high school approaching fast, changes in the girls begin to tear them apart. Once inseparable, Julia now focuses on her academic accomplishments and Cassie’s apathetic tendencies drive her to a dangerous friendship and flirtations with the wrong boys. Julia comes from a loving home with two supportive parents, while Cassie’s single mother begins to date a somewhat religious man that sets out to change her ways and destroy her relationship with her mother. Having loved The Woman Upstairs, I was a bit disappointed with this latest novel by incredible author Claire Messud. So much of the girls relationship felt contrived. Julia’s obsession with Cassie’s well being and belief that she knew everything the girl was feeling was over the top. There were some good characters but many unanswered questions and paths that led nowhere. I felt like I put a lot in and then walked away with nothing.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Kyla Cheng is a senior at a fancy private school in Brooklyn. She is valedictorian, beautiful, talented and very very popular. When a sex vid is posted on YurTube of her and her handsome teacher getting passionate in the classroom, Kyla’s life as she knows it, is over. Years of being on top can leave a lot of not so happy frenemies. Her mission is to catch the culprit of the download who sent this video on a trending frenzy and go back to the norm, with Kyla in control and at the top of her college app game. Her adorable “not boyfriend” Macky and trio of besties help her through this futuristic look at a completely technological world where not just convenience but all of our emotions are controlled with a swipe or a text. A fast paced and furious look at high school peer pressure and our world as it evolves quicker than our little gadgets can carry us. I don’t read many YA books but this one is a winner. Great characters, unique repartee and glimpse into the tech world that will give you much food for thought. Great debut novel, look forward to reading more from Corrie Wang.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
After setting the stage for their upscale equestrian community in Kentucky, Emma is choosing to leave her small women’s college and return home to care for her father after his stroke. Her sister is married with small children, her aunt has already sacrificed her young adulthood caring for Emma’s family when their mother unexpectedly died and it is up to Emma to fill the missing piece in their family home and community. She is beautiful, smart and beloved by all. This sweet mini saga turns into a love story “Jane Austen” style when George, the handsome catch of the town family friend watches Emma, who he has known all his life, grow into the woman he always dreamed she’d be. Obviously, a twist on an old tale, I found this new novel easy and adorable, especially if you love anything remotely Jane Austen. Its hard to imagine the characters with southern charm and accent instead of English one’s but it’s a quick read and if you can go with the flow - you’ll enjoy the ride.
Friday, September 15, 2017
Aviva Grossman is a student at the University of Miami. She is interested in politics and gets an internship with a Congressman who was once a neighbor of her parents in Boca Raton. He is charming, good looking, smart and she is smitten. Sound familiar? There is an accident. There is a scandal. The Congressman goes on to re-election after re-election (he is very good at his job) and Aviva’s world will never be the same again. She is forced to reinvent herself. Their lives are narrated through the perspective of Aviva, her mother Rachel, the Congressman’s wife Embeth and later looking back - her vivacious daughter Ruby. Author Gabrielle Zevin had me laughing out loud from page 1 and my full attention to the very end. She was so spot on describing the insecurities of a young college student, her relationship with her overzealous mother and crushed dreams of a carefully planned future. Filled with humor, grace, honesty and incredible storytelling, Young Jane Young is an absolute must read!! I loved every minute of it.
Monday, September 4, 2017
After graduating from Harvard, Michelle Kuo accepted one of the most grueling positions available with the Teach for America program. Filled with tremendous hope, she set out for the small town of Helena, Arkansas. Reality immediately set in when she enters a completely broken, neglected and forgotten part of our country. A public school system filled with students that were left behind a long time ago. Generations ago. Michelle believed that if you could scratch the surface there was a bright light just waiting to be turned on. Utilizing her love of reading, unimaginable patience and pure kindness, Michelle found ways to encourage students - who have never ever been asked what they thought - to speak up and voice their thoughts and dreams and opinions. Years later after attending Harvard Law School Michelle is notified that a student named Patrick, whom she had been very close to, had been jailed for murder in a place that basically would throw away the key. Even though she longed to begin her law career and new life in California, she could not abandon Patrick or her belief that education and caring can make a real difference. Michelle goes back to Helena to see how she could help him. This incredible work of non-fiction should be required reading for parents, teachers and students. Our beautiful country still has a long road and a lot of hard work ahead. The most basic human rights should not ever be violated and every child needs a caring adult for guidance. I was mesmerized by Michelle’s beautiful words and this is undoubtedly a life changing MUST READ. Because reading really does change lives.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Emi Kato has lived all over the world. As the only daughter of a Japanese diplomat, the Kato family has been stationed in Berlin, London, Vienna and America. Emi is a beautiful, talented, multi-lingual young woman whose life turns upside down during WWII. The Kato family thought they were safely tucked away in Washington DC, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed, the Japanese are quickly the enemy and are sent to internment camps, stripped of all their freedoms and slowly returned to Japan. At the tender age of 21, Emi has fallen in love twice and these friendship/romances have pulled her heart in every direction possible. In Vienna, Leo Hartmann’s family has been destroyed and removed from everything they have ever known and Christian Lange, a wealthy American boy of German descent whose family is also detained, is no longer welcome on American soil. Emi does not know who to trust anymore. The Japan she returns to does not resemble her young childhood, Christians family could not be part of the same Nazi Germany she despises and the Americans have completely withdrawn any diplomatic welcome they once extended. As Emi becomes an independent woman, apart from her parents she searches to find home and her two loves - all the while struggling to stay alive. I really liked each character in this somewhat long, repetitive saga. Its a solid good but did not knock my socks off as author Karin Tanabe’s The Gilded Years had done last year.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Southern belle Janey Sweet and Beau Matthews have been best friends since childhood and business partners for most of their adult life. They have created the hottest wedding dress design company in NYC called B. After a lifetime of Janey kowtowing to Beau’s whims, the straw has finally broken the camel’s back. Beau has insisted that since Janey has gained weight she should take a few months off, get back in shape and “like” herself again. Janey is devastated. Work is her life and Beau is the air she breathes. Through the world of over the top NYC lifestyles and the price tag that goes with them, authors Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza had me laughing out loud for this entire book! Janey and her best friend CJ set out to lose the weight with abusive trainers and restrictive bizarre eating plans. But maybe a kick in the butt was exactly what Janey needed to see the light again. She makes some outrageous new friends, accepts her recent divorce and has the best sex she has had since college. A hilarious spoof on insta selfie’s and obsessive botox, you may scarily see too much truth in this alternate reality. We all have a little bit of this in our lives but whatever makes you happy! Just make sure it really makes you happy, because thats what matters. Highly recommend this hilarious well written read to take to the beach for the last days of summer. Get ready for some fun!
Monday, August 7, 2017
Sara Smythe has been handed the opportunity of a lifetime. The year is 1884 and Sara is head housekeeper at a luxury hotel in London. When she assists a child of a guest named Theodore Camden, he is so grateful that he offers this industrious woman a ticket to America and an opportunity to run his up and coming apartment building in NYC, The Dakota. The chemistry between Sara and Theo is immediate and it takes only a few moments for Sara to grab hold of this chance to change her life. A hundred years later Bailey Camden is just out of rehab and desperately trying to get her interior design position back. Her wealthy cousin, Melinda Camden, offers her refuge and a job decorating her newly inherited apartment in none other than The Dakota. Alternating between the span of years, The Address narrates the lives of these two women with their uncanny similarities and vast disparities, especially for an unmarried woman in the late 1800’s. What a difference a century can make! Filled with historical detail, romance, an insane asylum and a murder, The Address was truly unputdownable. Definitely add this fabulous read to your summer picks.
Friday, August 4, 2017
After a solar storm practically shuts down every city on the planet, there is pure and utter chaos. Jacob and his family live in an Amish community near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Their lifestyle leaves them virtually the only people unaffected. Already self sufficient farmers and skilled workmen who use little or no electricity, these families continue on their peaceful, quiet daily routine. When news of the world outside their settlement starts to trickle in and violence and desperation inch closer, their ethics, practices and conscience must lead the way. Narrated by Jacob, a farmer living with his wife Hannah and their two children - they must choose how they can serve G-d and question what it will take to survive. This very simple story quietly examines technology, morality and the goodness that can be ripped from mankind when desperation occurs. What begins as “what would you do to save your family?” quickly transforms into “what kind of life are we living every single day?” After my own summer melt down where I was reading books that although wonderful, were becoming indecipherable - When the English Fall completely woke up each of my senses. Similar to A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan, this beautifully written novel by David Williams will leave you both fascinated and a little nervous. I don’t think it was meant to scare you as much as to force you to contemplate the choices we make every day. Highly recommend this fabulous new book! Absolute 5 STARS!
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Liv and Nora, cousins from Los Angeles, take their families on a dream cruise for the Christmas holidays. Liv, a successful movie producer, her engineer husband Benjamin, their outspoken 11 year old daughter Penny and son Sebastian are over the top excited. Nora and handsome movie star Raymond (yes, Liv introduced them) bring their introverted son Marcus and 6 year old daughter Junie. The plan is that the parents will get a much needed break from work and household duties and the kids will have entertainment galore. The ship is everything they hoped and they easily fall into a daily routine that suits all their needs. Feeling like its time to finally get off at one of the stops in Central America - Liv organizes an exciting zip line adventure. Little did she know their lives would never be the same again. After an unfortunate succession of bad decisions with unknown consequences the families are separated. The children have disappeared. The families camp out at a hotel while they work with professionals to follow the few clues they have and get their children back safely. The once loving cousins are at each others throats, the wives resent the husbands for having gone to the golf course that day and it is very hard to decipher (in Spanish) who they should trust. WOW! This adrenaline rollercoaster of emotion by Maile Meloy is UNPUTDOWNABLE. Fast paced and filled with suspense and flashes of reality, my heart was racing as I turned each page. It is to a certain extent a mystery but it is also about marriage, parenthood and survival of the fittest in every culture. Highly recommend this #SummerRead. It will keep you on the edge of your beach chair!! Don’t fall in and ruin your kindle!
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Marti Trailor, her husband Elliot and their three children have a beautiful home in the suburbs near Richmond, VA. They live in place where the social scene demands you act, dress and behave a certain way. Marti, like her father, a well known congressman, understands the public eye but definitely beats to her own drum without apology. After surviving the weariness of stay at home mom status for years, Marti is offered a social work job at the same hospital as Elliot, who is a leading OB/GYN in the department. Marti will care for pregnant women who need assistance, some of them not being older than children themselves. Elliot does not seem thrilled about this new position but since his residency ended he has seemed distant and secretive. Marti has been on this rollercoaster with Elliot for years, always hoping the next step would bring the family closer. But Elliot is never home and as she tiptoes around their life as stranger she fears what the future may bring. From the beginning the reader is aware a great tragedy has occurred. Marti is on trial for a crime. The story is told as it flashes back to the envied life everyone thought she was living. As the truth begins to unfold through her best friend who is a stealth reporter, Marti leans more and more on her sweet handsome boss Win and reevaluates everything she once naively believed about her husband and the life they built. Best Intentions brings the reader deep into the hearts of this model family to uncover the truth of marriage, motherhood and friendship. Filled with twists and turns and fabulous characters, I highly recommend this well written suspenseful novel.
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Nancy, Chuck and their teenage twin boys move to Hawaii filled with the hope of starting over. With her marriage on the rocks and the boys growing up, Nancy does not know what kind of life she wants anymore. Chuck’s job transfers smoothly to the Costco in Kona and the boys seamlessly become star players on their high school water polo team. But what about Nancy? With middle age settling in and her body expanding out Nancy decides to try a yoga class. The class and teacher Ana become Nancy’s new mantra. Eat healthy, focus on the moment and thoughtful words of wisdom that become life changing. Her friendship with Nancy is on a fast track. She immediately begins spending all of her time with Ana who is in remission from breast cancer and sees the world through the bright eyes of karmic resolution. She constantly cajoles Nancy into helping her do what she feels are good deeds to keep the bad vibes at bay. Their sister friendship is instantly overwhelmed with need and emotion which Chuck tolerates as he still carries memories of his own guilty affair from San Diego. As Nancy digs deeper into her own psyche, things with Ana become more bizarre and demanding. Nancy becomes leery of the destructive path this has taken and her boys begin to get into trouble as they sense the unrest in their parents marriage. I wouldn’t call this a thriller but definitely a psychological twisted drama. As I loved author Swan Huntley’s first novel We Could Be Beautiful, I am amazed at how completely different but equally well written this new novel is. Love the characters, love the Hawaii setting, highly recommend The Goddesses. Definitely a thumbs up #SummerRead!
Cassie Hugo is an American soldier’s wife. She has survived in Jordan, where Dan is stationed by learning the rules and customs and following them as carefully as possible. Lonely and struggling to get pregnant, Cassie’s marriage is beginning to falter. The couple silently blame each other for everything that is missing from their lives and elusive family. When Margaret Brickshaw arrives she appears to be all that Cassie dreams of. Thin and beautiful, married to a handsome, strapping soldier and carrying a beautiful baby boy named Mather. Cassie is given the job of hosting or introducing Margaret into life in Amman. What initially feels like babysitting morphs into Cassie’s desperate desire to have friendship, companionship and most importantly purpose. But the grass is not always greener. Life in Amman is difficult and the image of Margaret’s happy home is not remotely close to what Cassie has conjured up in her mind. It is not until she mistakenly finds Margaret’s journal that Cassie slowly learns about marriage, loneliness, friendship and the scary truth about herself. Highly recommend this extremely unique, well written glimpse into expat lives living abroad in a war torn region of the world and the solitary walls of loneliness we build to protect ourselves which simultaneously keep everyone away. Written with such in depth clarity that I felt like I was the one surreptitiously reading the journal! Great summer read from a fabulous new author.
Monday, July 10, 2017
When Rupert Falkes dies after being ill for quite some time, his widow Eleanor handles it perfectly. Living the well to do life she was raised for, Eleanor has maintained her friends, social life and close relationships with her five very different sons. When a mysterious woman places claims on the estate for the supposed two sons Rupert secretly fathered, their prestigious Manhattan world is turned upside down. The brothers all handle their father’s death, their inheritance and this new accusation very differently -according to their varied lifestyles and personalities. Their closeness with each other, protection of their beloved mother and their father’s memory clash as the boys’ strive to move on with their lives and keep damages to a minimum. This witty, humorous portrayal of self preservation could not have had better characters. All the money and success in the world cannot stop the bizarre family dynamics found between siblings the world over. Its simply amazing how we create our own unique memories even when they were shared. Absolutely loved and highly recommend this well written, smart, new novel that is the perfect easy beach read to take you away. Look forward to reading more from this wonderful author Susan Rieger.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
In 1991 Anton, a ten year old boy, is left alone in a stifling hot apartment and his drug addicted mother does not return. On the seventh day, hot, hungry and scared Anton breaks a window to escape and search for his mother to bring her home to safety. He is temporarily placed in foster care with the Colemans. His mother Juanita is given the maximum of 3 years, which turns into a sentence of a lifetime. The Colemans can offer Anton a life he had never imagined; beautiful home in an exclusive neighborhood, top rated schools with college in his future and all the attention a ten year old boy needs in a eerily quiet home that thought it would never hear laughter again. The Colemans have their own past, their own secrets and although they begin this journey with the best intentions, Antons future is wrapped up in their past. It is many years later when his success exceeds even his wildest dreams that Anton learns the meaning of these simple words: truth, love, mother and father. Author Thrity Umrigar has beautifully painted a picture of an incredible journey that will tear out every one of your heartstrings. This novel is full of characters you will be thinking about long after the last page is turned. Highly recommend this unputdownable summer read. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!
Friday, July 7, 2017
Katie Nelson was always very close with her kind, loving stamp collecting father. Now she sadly awaits the day that he will not recognize his only child as his memory fades away in a nearby nursing home. When Katie discovers his cherished collection, she brings it to Benjamin, a local stamp expert. Together, Katie and Benjamin are determined to learn the history behind a mysterious stamp on an unopened letter from WWII era, found amongst the many stamps her father collected. Each step of their journey brings them closer to the history of this famous stamp engraver, his apprentice Kristoff and his disappearance during Kristallnacht. The story is narrated between two voices from two very different times - Katie in 1989 and Kristoff in 1938. This magnificent story comes alive with love, friendship and decisions that will change their lives forever. Author Jillian Cantor grabs the reader in the first chapter and does not let go. Filled with small love stories, the terror of WWII, a lesson on philately and even a mystery to solve. This is the perfect summer read to take you away on a journey you will not soon forget. Highly recommend this fabulous new read!
Friday, June 30, 2017
In the virtual world of blogs, YouTube and web sites, Sunshine MacKenzie is all that. The current “IT” girl in the foodie industry; Sunny has the looks, the personality and the followers to be on top. She cooks and chats with her viewers from her industrious, cool, NYC kitchen, just got a huge book deal and signed on with the food network. But the online world we create is not always foolproof and suddenly “aintnosunshine” is raining on her very well performed parade. Her adorable husband Danny and so-called friends do not stick around to see the sun rise again and she finds herself back in her hometown of Montauck, NY struggling to put the pieces of her life back together. When the clouds start to thin, Sunny’s real past helps her see the future a lot more clearer. Another adorable read by author Laura Dave (LOVED Eight Hundred Grapes) This very contemporary tale of what happens when the internet lives we create collide with reality -not so far fetched. Light as a feather, fun, fast paced. Highly recommend this ideal summer beach read.
Monday, June 26, 2017
In 2011 Manal al-Sharif was imprisoned for driving in Saudia Arabia. She slept on a filthy mattress in a cockroach infested jail crowded with too many women. If her travel, intelligence and determination had already set her on a path to be somewhat of a women’s activist, this was the straw that broke the camels back. Meeting these imprisoned women only strengthened Manal’s resolve that things in Saudi Arabia needed to change. This beautifully written memoir describes her childhood, faith in her religion and her family. Rules and customs were not to be analyzed and debated, they were meant to be accepted. But a simple act of driving could change women’s lives. Manal felt this one non violent act could express years of struggle and hypocrisy. Women can go to school but they cannot get there? Women cannot get to or from a hospital, even in a emergency without a male to drive them? An Uber driver, virtual stranger, is better/safer than a female friend, relative or themselves? Manal, a highly educated and trained computer scientist took one brave step at a time; to get to college, be the best and secure a top job in her field only to realize she will never be free in the country she loves with all her heart. In this passionate memoir she details her journey to adulthood with a calm and beautiful voice. I was mesmerized right from the beginning, first with compassion and then with frustration and anger. As I began to imagine the struggle of these women, I thought what can I do? Well, living in the capitalist world I live in, I can affect from the pocket. I will no longer buy Starbucks or take Uber. These American companies should not condone/support/profit from separate but equal anywhere in the world. Equal is equal. As Manal says in her memoir, the rain starts with one drop. I highly recommend reading Daring to Drive. As we navigate our own daily challenges, conscious of our good fortune, we must continue to move forward in all the world to be good humans.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Stacey Grant loses her job, a position of power and prestige. She has devoted her entire adult life to attaining this success. She is lost without it and leans on her three dearest friends for support. They have been best friends since university days. Each in a successful career position that they fought for along with their independence in a male dominated economy. I normally adore settings in London, stories of friends and whirlwinds of romance but not this time. These women were annoying and whined incessantly. They were neither good mothers, spouses or even good friends but considered themselves experts at all. They were not quirky or funny, just selfish and dumb. Their underlying collective insecurity was staggering and unrealistic to me. I wanted to like this one but sorry to say, not one character, not one bit. 👎
Ariel Levy, 38 year old NYC writer, tells her story in this well written memoir about love, loss, hope and the search/desperation for happiness. I have mixed feelings about this memoir. PROS: She is a fantastic writer. I can see, feel and hear the words on the page. She has one of those childhoods that merits being written about and she has the tools to do so. She is lost, she is found, she is lost again. Like many women who find their way but believe they have followed the wrong directions. I enjoyed the read. CONS: I feel like I’ve read this before. The drugs, alcohol and bizarre behavior is exhausting. She makes bad choices. She is hurt and so she hurts other people, albeit unintentionally. She is a passionate writer. I am just not sure I need to peek into every single persons life. 👎
In a beachside British village Alice Lake finds a man sitting by himself in the pouring rain. Alice knows her three kids and best friend will disapprove of her nosing around but dangerous or not, she cannot abandon this lonely man in the storm. His unkempt appearance, lack of identification and apparent amnesia do not match the kind look in his eyes, in his sweet face. She happens to have a spare room and decides to bring him in and help him find his true identity. In London, a young wife, new to the country finds herself alone. Her beautiful husband has not returned home from work. She is scared, lost and the police are not buying her story. And decades ago there was a tragedy involving an argument, a mysterious mansion and a suspicious drowning on this very same rocky beach. A teenage brother and sister on vacation found themselves wrapped up in a drama they were not equipped to navigate. These three stories collide on this blustery day with Alice in the center, stay at home mom/artist - finding herself as the lead detective. Always love author Lisa Jewell, storyteller extraordinaire. Highly recommend this suspenseful novel with a little romance, and just enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning. Perfect #SummerRead #addtothelist .👍
Modern day Romeo and Juliet. Jamey Hyde, heir extraordinaire meets his neighbor Elise Perez, a runaway from the wrong side of any town. Jamey is immediately entranced by the braids reaching down her back and skin like porcelain. His mind wanders past and through the heavy eyeliner, bad language and worse manners. At first, all they do is have is have hot pulsating sex. Sex like Jamey has never experienced before. And Elise knows that. She is falling in love with Jamey’s beautiful face, his dimple, his lack of experience and bountiful desire. She is like a drug that Jamey becomes addicted to and as they grow together, Jamey strays further from his elitist isolated world of wealth, privilege and shallow peers filled with contempt. No one can imagine he would throw his entire life away for this - this nothing. For that is how they see her and pretty much anyone who does not fall high on their ladder of riches. His family is in disbelief. But no one takes the time to consider Jamey who has never known unconditional love, who was abandoned by his own famous mother, who is rarely told the truth because everyone wants a piece of his name. He does not wallow, he is not poor little rich boy. Jamey is just surviving, trying to figure out the truth to his life, his future. Absolutely loved this beautiful story by author Jardine Libaire. Her writing, her words flow so easily and fill these pages with poetry. Highly recommend this sensual, hypnotic tale of love. Perfect #SummerRead . 👍
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Anton Stratis grew up in the beautiful suburbs of Philadelphia. But his childhood was anything but beautiful. A gifted tennis player, his light began to shine at six years old. When his brother Panos did not fill the shoes their controlling father desired, the attention turned to Anton and the spotlight never left him, not for one moment. Anton stopped attending school after 8th grade and trained night and day, as his father calculated his rise in the tennis world. It is not until much later in his life that he struggles to take back control and live according to his own rules and desires. Anton’s narration of this incredible story takes the reader from tennis courts around the world to the depths of his very soul. He has mastered the psychology and strength it takes to be a professional athlete but does not know what it means to have a true friend, or the meaning of unconditional love. He yearns for normalcy and feels the world is passing him by. Everyone else looks so darn happy. People think it would be so grand to be a celebrity but happiness is priceless and finding it is life’s true gift. Remember parents, whether its an athletic event or the SAT’s, when things with your kids get out of hand you have to say to yourself - “Will this really matter 5 years from now?” Hope this starts some conversations, I know it will be perfect for book club! Highly recommend this unputdownable read. #SummerReads #beachreads #FathersDayGift