London is the surfer chick of the group and Luke has always been quite the player. Number 4 of the Wild series and the last of the couples to ignite their romance, it is no less intriguing to watch this pair find out that more than just flirting can set your heart on fire. Once again Christina Lauren captures our imagination, narrating from both Luke and London’s point of view with this sexy finale to a wonderful series.
Sunday, December 30, 2018
Lola has always wanted Oliver and Oliver has incessantly fantasized about Lola, thats why their Vegas non-hookup was pretty hard to swallow. This sexy Aussie opens a comic book shop just minutes away from Lola’s studio where she writes her graphic novels and is happy being a closet geek. Even though Lola pretty much keeps to herself, unless her friends drag her down to the local pub, she cannot stop wondering if he feels the same way. As their friendship gets closer, they can no longer ignore the sparks that are flying. #3 in the Wild Series. Remember folks, these are one sitting reads, super fun and great in between the heavier stuff.
From the best selling authors Christina Lauren, this is number two in the Wild Series. Harlow and Finn, another pair in the ‘went crazy in Vegas’ group, pair off for a wild romance. The California girl, confident daughter of a famous wealthy producer and the off the grid hot fisherman find out they have more in common than they realized. Figuring out friendships and futures, this duo entertains once again.
Saturday, December 29, 2018
Sarah Harper has a full busy life in New York. When she loses her job and her world comes crumbling down she travels home to Texas to see her sister Mackie. Mackie is happily married with a beautiful home but what she wants more than anything is a baby and unfortunately that is not going to happen. Sarah decides the once in a lifetime gift she can give her loving sister is to become a gestational carrier. Pregnant with swollen feet and hormones raging Sarah becomes fidgety in her new role. With days moving excruciatingly slowly, it is certainly not the ideal time to become reacquainted with her old high school flame Everett. Sarah is genuinely happy to help her sister but at the same time she must figure out her own complicated future. Delightful characters fill this small town story. Katherine Center’s easy writing style brings humor and tenderness to this heartfelt story.
A new character takes center stage in the Beautiful series. We always new Will worked with heart throb Max but haven’t learned too much about him. Will is one of the group and making his way through New York one night stand at a time. He is good looking, smart and has no intention of settling down like his friends have recently done. While his buddies continue to poke him about his male prowess, an old college friend asks him for a favor. Jensen’s brilliant youngest sister is doing her PhD at Columbia and needs a little prompting to get out of the lab and into the social scene. Will remembers her as a sweet quiet 12 year old. Well, needless to say the 24 year old beauty that enters his life is no chemistry major wall flower. An MIT grad, funny and sweet and sexy, inexperienced Hanna has never had a serious relationship. She wants Will to give her dating lessons. Let’s just say she is an excellent student.
Chloe and Bennett have successfully established their New York office and are working night and day. Since the romantic duo never seem to take a break, Bennett borrows Max’s French villa to surprise Chloe with a magical romantic vacation. This one is more like a mini book. Less than half the size of a standard but just as much fun.
#2 in Beautiful series by Christina Lauren. Max is an old college mate of Bennett’s. He is British, handsome and known as quite the player in NYC. When Chloe and Bennett open up the firm’s New York office they bring along Sara, a friend of Chloe’s and member of their finance team. This bright, gorgeous girl has just escaped a nightmare long term relationship with a politician that was as crooked as they come, especially with the ladies. Sara and Max inadvertently meet and although Sara is very skeptical about finding a guy who can give her what she needs, bad boy Max is starting to surprise them all. Another sexy romp by authors Christina Lauren. These quick quick easy reads are like a little dessert without the calories.
Hard working, beautiful, and driven, intern Chloe Mills sees only one obstacle in her future, her boss. When Bennett Ryan joins the family firm in Chicago, Chloe is thrown for a loop. She knows she does her job better than anyone else in the department and is on track for her MBA until this difficult, obstinate man is placed as her new boss. Bennett and Chloe are immediately at each others throats, arguing constantly with an underlying sexual tension that neither of them can ignore. Chloe knows hooking up with your boss breaks all the rules. Bennett is accustomed to women falling at his feet. What will it take for these two to learn to get along? Enjoyed this push and pull and push some more romance novel by my fave authors Christina Lauren. This is the first in the Beautiful series. It’s a fun, quick, hot read and if you like it, you are in luck because there are 9 more to follow.
Maggie Carpenter returns to London after a long quiet summer missing Samir. Having ended in a night of bliss, Maggie can only hope that Samir feels the same way. When the gang of friends is together again Maggie immediately feels the intense pull towards her beautiful crush. Samir knows the truth, it is his senior year. His family expects him to graduate, marry the “right” person that has already been chosen and begin his political career with his father in the middle east. The two try hard to remain friends but it is impossible to ignore their hearts. The countdown is on. Wonderful sequel to I See London. Another delicious romance novel by author Chanel Cleeton. She has an easy enjoyable way of writing. You know it’s a good read when you don’t want the story to end.
Alice is a middle-aged woman hitting that all too typical hum drum wall. Kids almost grown and flown, husband works a lot, seems distracted, haven’t had sex in awhile. Icing on the cake Alice is almost the age that her mother was when she passed away, which has been the sore spot in her heart through all these years. When Alice receives an email inviting her to join a research project and get paid to answer questions, she is all in. Alice becomes Wife 22 and Wife 22 takes on a life of her own. She answers thoughtfully and sometimes provocatively. Alice begins an online friendship with her researcher. They seem to really click and she feels she can be more honest about her life and herself than she has been for years. By analyzing her past Alice begins to get a clear picture of what she wants for her future. I thoroughly enjoyed this laugh out loud portrait of a spirited middle aged woman who is not afraid to face the truth and wants to live her life to the fullest. Debut novel, dragged a tiny bit at the end - (but I MUST comment, it did not stop me from reading this author’s next novel called Valley of the Moon, which I devoured and gave 5 stars) Definitely recommend Wife 22 for a fun easy read.
Friday, December 28, 2018
Miranda unexpectedly inherits her Uncle Billy’s infamous Los Angeles book shop. Having escaped to the east coast to venture out on her own, Miranda must temporarily leave her boyfriend and fly back to California to face the untimely death of her estranged uncle and the childhood memories of precious time spent with him at his shop. As days turn into weeks and then the entire summer, Miranda immerses herself into saving the unstable store that can barely manage its week to week obligations. An unlikely relationship begins with the current manager who is both hiding his attraction to Miranda and her uncles’s secrets that she is desperately trying to uncover. Whats not to love about books, literary references and owning an adorable dream worthy bookshop? Excellent characters and storyline, even the long winded ending (common with a debut novel) would not stop me from recommending this love letter to all things books.
Holland Bakker travels the same path every day to work at the theater with her uncle. She is drawn over and over again to the beautiful music played by a street musician on her way to the subway. To make matters worse, he is gorgeous and when she finally speaks to him, his lilting Irish accent knocks her off her feet. This silent crush becomes a small obsession and Holland is dying to find out more about this curious heart throb. When her uncle needs a new musician for the show Holland discovers a way to help Calvin, both with his career and apparently his green card. I loved this absolutely adorable rom-com filled with the bright lights of Broadway and young love. Happy, easy, fun read. Another winner by my favorite, Christina Lauren.
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Lucy is just starting college in a small town in California. Tolerating a horrible relationship with her mother, Lucy left her Long Island NY home and traveled as far as she could to start her new life. As a freshman Lucy quickly makes some friends and then next step, search for the cute guys. Lucy meets Stephen DeMarco. One of those popular guys that derives his greatness from his self absorbed confidence. He is not that cute, or that smart, but from the beginning he makes Lucy feel like she should be honored to have his attention at all. In addition to his deceptive persona, Stephen is a master of manipulation. Half his pleasure is derived from knowing Lucy is waiting for him, always. This exhausting cat and mouse chase is not thrilling as the marketing blurbs tell us. I found it pathetic. I bet, sadly, there are plenty of Lucy and Stephen couples in the world but there is nothing sexy about a psychopath.
Libby Moran lives with her self-centered mother and two young children. It is not easy. Her mother loves them but complains incessantly, manipulates everyone and concerns herself with shades of lipstick over life lessons. Libby receives an unexpected letter from her aunt. Jean is her mother’s sister, and although Libby has never met her, Jean has offered Libby an escape she cannot refuse. Even though she is a bundle of nerves to begin this new journey, Jean has invited Libby and her children to come live and work on her farm. It is the perfect opportunity to give Libby a fresh start. Since her husbands unexpected accident life has been a series of disappointments and Libby imagines a simpler country life with family and pies cooling in the kitchen. It’s a chance to learn new things and solve the family secrets that her mother has kept hidden all these years. Fabulous story of family, motherhood and finding happiness in the most unlikely places. Currently being filmed and will star Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel. Pick up a copy of this sweet novel before it comes out!
Maggie is starting college in London. Raised by her grandparents in small town South Carolina, Maggie hasn’t seen much of the world. She did not get into Harvard, her father hasn’t called in months and her mother has been MIA since she was a young girl. Maggie is ready for her dreams to unfold, meet new people, experiences, maybe even love. She quickly becomes friends with Samir. He is worldly, wealthy and speaks many languages. They have virtually nothing in common. And yet they are drawn to each other over and over again. Samir is the first person she can be completely honest with. He becomes her first of many firsts. After realizing author Chanel Cleeton (Next Year in Havana) had another life as a romance writer, I had to check it out. This quick, easy, adorable read reminded me of traveling, college and first loves. Always a nice break from the heavies, this was an absolute pleasure and I look forward to checking out the rest of her series.
Nina is living the elite life in Nashville. With her only son about to go off to Princeton, she has dove into the world of philanthropy, tennis and lunches at the club. The sale of her husband’s company has shot them into the fast lane and Nina is trying her best to keep up with the crowd. Spending her evening in a ball gown at another boring event, Nina is confronted in the ladies room by her jealous nemesis and shown a photo that will change her life forever. Her son Finch, although spoiled through and through, has always been an excellent student and polite young man. Until now. Something has happened with a girl from school named Lyla and Finch is in trouble. Nina, who was preparing for the empty nest and patting herself on the back for a job well done is confronted with the horror that she may not know her son at all. As she tries to get to the bottom of this twisted situation, Nina becomes friendly with Tom, Lylas’s single father, and with every passing day she realizes her life is built on lies and manipulations. Nina desperately wants to discover the truth about her son and herself. Highly recommend this well written, fast paced family drama. Frankly it was better and more original than I expected and another - - get your head out of the sand - lesson for parents. Well done Emily Giffin.
Saturday, December 22, 2018
Anne Frank is 16. She has survived the concentration camps and returned to Amsterdam, where she reunites with her father Pim and learns they are the only two from the annex that have survived. This imagined alternate world where Anne Frank lives to go back home and retrieve the infamous diary has left my head spinning. The what if’s do not seem wasteful, they are thought provoking alternatives analyzing the depth of anger, forgiveness, and guilt that survivors struggle with for their entire lives. Forgiveness may seem impossible but is also necessary to be free. As a child I read The Diary of Anne Frank over and over again. As an adult I continue reading these reimagined novels focusing what could have been, what may have happened. It may not always be pleasant to revisit such a painful story but it is sometimes necessary. In some way we are still feeding this desire to understand how this atrocity happened and never forget those we lost. Excellent author, well researched and a truly touching story.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
In 1931 Lilly Blackwood is marched by her mother over to the circus grounds late one night. She is sold to Merrick who runs the freak sideshows. She is ten years old and this is the first time she has ever left the attic where she is locked because she is different. In her bitter mother’s eye’s her existence is a punishment from God. She performs in many sideshows but her real talent lies in her unique communication and way with animals, especially the elephants. Twenty years later, 19 year old Julia is found waiting tables in a small greasy diner. After running away from home a few years prior, she has been tracked down by a detective. Her mother has passed away and Blackwood Farms now belongs to her. Even though her fears and memories of her family home is anything but pleasant, Julia returns to the manor where she discovers her deep love of the horses raised there and the hidden attic secrets that will change her life forever. I read this novel for book club and look forward to the upcoming discussion. Although the storyline is unique, I found the writing repetitive and dragging. Not much interest in the extensive circus description.
Monday, December 17, 2018
Cassie is the only female firefighter in her Austin firehouse. And she is a super star. Cassie is fearless, smart and a natural born leader. As she is climbing the ranks for promotion, her very distant mother calls with a dire emergency. She is having health issues and needs Cassie to abandon everything she has worked for and come help her in Massachusetts. It is the last thing in the world Cassie wants to do and the only thing she can do. She finds a job with a small, old fashioned fire station. They never had a “lady” fire fighter. Cassie does everything in her power to show them all how hard she can work. But the one thing she would never ever allow may be her downfall. The rookie she is training, the same one who may steal her position away is melting her heart. No matter how hard she tries to avoid him; where there’s a spark, there’s a flame. Loved this absolutely adorable, delicious, unputdownable story about family, friendship, love and most interestingly - firefighting. Author Katherine Center is a wonderful writer. As I near the ending of her books I find myself slowing down, not wanting to turn that last page because then it will sadly be over. Thanks for the early read Netgalley! This one is a winner.
Nine people gather at an exclusive health resort for a ten day retreat of wellness. This diverse little group includes an ex-rugby star, a once popular author on the verge of obscurity, an insecure divorcee, mom dad and teenager threesome hiding a terrible tragedy and a young wealthy couple too young and beautiful to possibly have any problems. This quirky group converge in paradise for extreme measures of clean eating, exercise, meditation and therapy. The catch is the bizarre founder of the resort who leads her guests through some very unconventional methods that morph into real danger. A little bit funny but lacking any real direction, this latest novel by one of my favorite authors was not what I expected. Too many annoying characters and a weak storyline covered up with insane behavior to try and catch the reader’s attention. Unfortunately, it just all seemed silly and messy. Maybe we expect too much from author’s coming off of a huge hit. Maybe they are rushed to get the next one out. I don’t know but this one just didn’t work for me.
Sunday, December 16, 2018
After Lux fled her childhood home and strict parents on the east coast she unexpectedly became pregnant. Now as a young single mom in the 1970’s, she lives in San Francisco with her son and best friend. Lux spends long days waiting tables and dreaming of a better future. When her 5 year old goes to visit grandma for the first time, Lux goes on a small camping trip in Sonoma Valley. She stumbles through the fog and finds a small farming community. She feels an immediate and meaningful connection to Joseph, the community leader, his wife, sister and many others as she shares a meal and tours their beautiful farm. A peaceful feeling lingers in the fragrant air and beauty is found at every turn. The catch is this community is from the past. Time has all but stopped for them since the huge earthquake that occurred in 1906. Lux spends decades traveling back and forth between two worlds. One where her son is everything and the other where she feels truly at home. I could not put down this incredible novel by Melanie Gideon. Filled with history, family, romance and friendship, and of course time travel, which I love! You will be thinking of these characters long after the last page.
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Nearly 30 years old, Millie has best friends for the first time in her life. Growing up, Millie kept mostly to herself, she lost her mother at a young age and never really dug in deep when it came to emotional issues. Alex, Ed, Reid and Chris work with Millie at UCSB. They are all young, intelligent, up and coming professors - and just a little bit nerdy. They don’t date much and tend to spend their off time playing Monopoly and drinking beer together. Millie is one of the guys and although they all joke, protect and love her like a sister, Reid is the one she is closest with. For two years he has been her confidant and her companion on a daily basis. One day, a little drunk, what started out joking around turned into a night of passion that neither Reid nor Millie ever expected. This laugh out loud, clever rom-com, brings you into the heart of true friendship and complications of the online world filled with apps for modern dating. Fabulous characters, easy, delicious romance. Another hit by Christina Lauren, don’t miss this enjoyable read.
Friday, December 14, 2018
Beck is in high school. He is smart, handsome and a football superstar about to graduate and most likely go to Notre Dame. Beck’s home life has been difficult the last year when his father was killed in a tragic accident. His mom has fallen apart, she neglected her job and has all but forgotten his younger siblings. Beck has pitched in to help out and take care of them whenever he can, but anxiety is mounting as he realizes his college plans may be put on hold. Beck smokes pot occasionally. As an athlete he has never been a fan but lately it is the only thing that calms his nerves. A friend offers him H - which is a pill form of low dose heroin. This is the beginning of the end for Beck, as he finds a place where the guilt, pain and burden that consumes him are lifted in a cloud of drug induced peace. When his drug use spirals horrifyingly quickly out of control he disappears into a world he never knew existed. His mom, siblings and beautiful girlfriend are devastated by this indescribable destruction. This book of fiction was beautifully and well written by author Courtney Cole who shares some of her own experiences at the end of the story. In a manner much like Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, this novel shredded my heart. The reality of addiction and strength of these harsh elements are hard to read about but necessary to understand. This should be mandatory reading.
Tom Fitzwilliam is the headmaster of the local school. Handsome, charming, intelligent. Maybe a bit too sweet with the teenaged girls he mentors. He lives with his wife, a passionate runner, younger, always seems a little bit off and their son who methodically observes the neighborhood with binoculars from his perch at the top of their home. Joey, a late twenties misfit has a crush on Tom. She lives across the way with her perfect heart surgeon brother, his mysterious wife and her unsuspicious husband Alfie. Jenna is a student who lives nearby with a psychotic mother who believes she is being gang stalked and Tom is the notorious leader. These characters converge on a mission to figure out Tom’s mysterious past and his wife’s deceptions. With many twists and turns author Lisa Jewel takes us on a suspenseful journey with shocking surprises and quite a cast. Highly recommend this new one if you are in the mood for a mild psycho thriller that is enjoyable and easy to read.
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Hedwig Kiesler was an Austrian born beauty that most people remember as Hedy Lamarr, the glamorous Hollywood movie star from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Talented, beautiful, exotic and married six times - her intelligence was not the first thing one might have noticed. But Hedy was brilliant, observant and possessed a confidence that quickly catapulted her to stardom. She was a powerful woman at a time when women were often put in their place on the arm of an important man. The Only Woman in the Room shares the story of Hedy’s life from her early days as a young stage actress in Vienna, to dinners she shared with Nazi’s and her first husband Fritz who manufactured weapons and played both sides of a very dangerous game. Later, Hedy made her escape to Hollywood and fulfilled her self imposed penance with inventions that could change the war and the world. Another fabulous work of historical fiction by author Marie Benedict, who brings these female figures to life. Highly recommend this incredible new page turner!
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Most of us don’t know if we believe in love at first sight but when Laurie glances at Jack through a bus window their eyes meet. Being young and adventurous she is tempted to race off and introduce herself to this handsome young man. But as the bus pulls away she too quickly loses her chance. Finding this man becomes a joke between Laurie and her best friend Sarah, looking down alleyways and around crowded pubs. Until one day Sarah beings home her new beau for Laurie to meet. And in walks Jack. For the ten years that follow secrets of the heart painfully twist and turn while time marches on. That snowy day in December changes their lives forever. This enjoyable rom com was absolutely adorable. It’s a tad long on the ending and becomes a little repetitive but definitely fun chick lit for the holidays.
The year is 1958 and Elisa Perez, one of the many beautiful Perez sisters, has fallen deeply in love. This beautiful man she innocently met at a party is older, he is not part of the wealthy society set of the Perez family and he is a revolutionary, working secretly to oust Batista and give the Cuban people the freedom and equality they deserve. Fifty nine years later her granddaughter Marisol visits Cuba for the very first time. She has come from Miami as a journalist but also to grant her precious grandmother’s last wish and spread her ashes in the country she was born. As Marisol discovers both the secrets and dreams Elisa kept hidden for decades, she also meets a man who will open her heart to discover more about her family, her heritage and herself than she could have ever imagined. This wonderfully written family saga describes unimaginable love and loss for an island where millions of people struggle for the past and their unknown future. Highly recommend and looking forward to reading author Chanel Cleeton’s upcoming novel (2019) When We left Cuba.