Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Searching for Sylvie Lee


Sylvie Lee, the overachieving older sister, glides easily from Princeton undergrad to Harvard MBA and later a career in the elite NYC world of consulting. Sylvie’s seemingly perfect life wasn’t always as it appears. Her earliest years were spent in the Netherlands where her maternal grandmother and cousins’ family raised her. She arrived in the United States at age nine to help care for her younger sister Amy, while her immigrant parents worked long hard hours. Amy has always idolized and depended on her beautiful, smart sister, but it is not until Sylvie goes missing on a trip to visit grandma, that Amy finally realizes she barely knew her at all. Follow Amy on this complicated journey to the Netherlands, where she will follow every clue and scrap of hope to find her beloved sister. This fast paced, suspenseful mystery is filled with love, jealousy and unexpected secrets. Truly surprised by this wonderfully written novel, I highly recommend for your summer list!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ten Beach Road


When a Madoff style scheme steals every cent Madeline, Avery and Nikki possess, these three strangers are left with one asset; ownership in a dilapidated beachfront historical mansion in Pass-a-Grille, FL. Leaving behind a rocky marriage, failed television series and missing brother, they all have one thing in common; a desperate need to rebuild this home and their personal lives. Finding the most unexpected friendship and sisterhood, the women rely on each other to overcome their fears and discover how capable they truly are. Book #1 in this adventurous, friendship filled Florida based series, ideal for a day at the beach.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Rough Magic


Lara Prior-Palmer, a nineteen year old British girl, signs up to compete in The Mongol Derby, known as the world’s longest horserace. One thousand kilometers in 10 days or less, the derby recreates the horse messenger system created by Genghis Khan in the year 1224; it is the toughest, loneliest, and most unique race that exists. Completely unprepared and filled with trepidation, Lara sets off for East Asia to begin this difficult challenge through the steppes of Mongolia. Although she is initially motivated by her innocent love for horses and a naive desire to merely finish the race, she soon finds herself on a mission to become the only female and youngest winner the derby has ever known. Told in detail, with humor and painful honesty, Lara takes us along on this treacherous, demanding adventure. Knowing absolutely nothing about horses did not stop me from enjoying the ride.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek


Cussy Mary Carter is the last of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky. It’s 1936, and with few options, Cussy has been lucky enough to get a job as a Pack Horse Librarian, a government initiative to distribute reading materials. As one of the few literate folks in this isolated mountain area, Cussy is determined to bring hope and comfort to the often forgotten people. While the men risk their lives daily at the local coal mine, these impoverished hungry women and children work their fingers to the bone, barely scraping by. This novel is both heartbreaking and beautifully written, historically defining education and socioeconomic struggles we continue to battle today. The profound joy and promise that books brought to these simple, good people is priceless.

Mine


Tessa Taylor seemingly had it all; a successful business, three beautiful children, and an adoring husband. After dropping her children off for a visit with their grandmother, in Georgia, Tessa returns to Florida to find a Category 4 hurricane unexpectedly barreling her way. Ethan is stuck in New York on business and Tessa quickly prepares their home. Getting ready to hunker down, she borrows Ethan’s iPad and discovers photos of a young, beautiful woman named Lindsey and evidence of a mysterious affair. In a fury more powerful than any hurricane, Tessa lures this woman over to ride out the storm and uncover the truth. This novel quickly escalates into a swift-moving suspenseful thriller. Narrated by both Lindsey and Tessa, Mine races with gale force winds to surely become the most intense read of the summer.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Normal People


Connell and Marianne grow up in the exact same countryside town in Ireland, but they appear to be complete opposites. Connell, getting by with his single mother, is a popular, handsome, charismatic teenager while Marianne’s home may look like a mansion but is filled with self loathing, anxiety and loneliness. Connell’s mum cleans Marianne’s home for her work and very slowly the two teenagers find each other. Fearing their secret friendship will be misunderstood, it is not until they go away to college in Dublin that they begin to learn who they truly are. This incisive peek as the couple grows towards and away and back to each other again cleverly reminds us of life’s greatest lessons. I have a penchant for Rooney’s Irish voice and whispered words that linger long after the final page. Highly recommend this beautifully written glimpse into the heart of hearts.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Under the Table


Zoey has just moved to NYC to reboot her life. Marrying her midwestern childhood sweetheart has not brought her the happily ever after she always dreamed of. They are taking a one year separation to figure things out and Zoey is ready to follow her passion by starting a catering business. She has just crashed at her bossy sisters apartment and is excited for the future when she is hired by Tristan; a nerdy, shy, uber successful computer geek. The wonderful dinner party gig leads to an out of the ordinary arrangement; Tristan hires Zoey for a complete makeover to adjust to big city life and get him out of his awkward shell. Hands off because she is technically married, it becomes harder and harder to admit her true feelings are more than just whats on the table. Light, fun, easy read, you will be smiling the whole way through this adorable rom com. My first read by author Stephanie Evanovich and will definitely not be my last!

The Last Book Party


Eve Rosen is a young woman working an entry level position at a publishing house in New York City. Her foot-in-the-door to the literary world and writing career she has always dreamed of. But Eve is bored. She hasn’t written a word in a a long time and she jumps at the chance to work for the summer as assistant to famed author Henry Grey, in his Cape Cod home. Impressed by the world that has always been just out of reach, Eve worships his poet wife Tillie and crushes on his son, an artist, who is happy to take advantage of the situation. Fascinated by the life of the famous author, Eve is honored to take on even the smallest task for this revered man. It is a long, hot summer leading up to the night of the infamous book party. Gradually Eve realizes that this world she has obsessed over is nothing more than a very long, twisted embellished story. Lessons learned the hard way, this coming of age book is an absolutely captivating read. Perfect for booklovers this summer, releases July 9th, a beach bag MUST!!

The Bride Test


Khai Diep is a smart, successful man. He has a good heart and an agreeable disposition. Khai’s overbearing Vietnamese mother cannot bear to see her handsome son miss out on love, even though he believes he is incapable of those intense feelings. She flies to Viet Nam to find the perfect bride and administer the perfect test. Three months in California to get to know Khai and all his goodness. If it’s a match, they will marry. Esme Tran is the unlikely winner. Cleaning bathrooms at the hotel, Esme exudes a unique blend of intelligence and sincerity. This is the story of friendship, of love, of everything that is unexpected when we categorize people and deem them different. Told with humor and sensitivity, author Helen Hoang’s latest is an easy, sweet summer read. It doesn’t flow quite as smoothly as her first bestseller - and frankly I think publishers are rushing these wonderful authors for marketing purposes - but nevertheless I will continue to follow her beautiful stories.

Miracle Creek


Miracle Creek, Virginia is a typical small town where the Yoo family settles to start up a medical treatment center called the Miracle Submarine. Recent immigrants, the Yoo’s quietly struggling with language and customs, finding it most difficult to fit in. As the head of their family Pak invests everything they have with a fellow Korean acquaintance into a business running a hyperbaric chamber, treating patients with pressurized dives as therapy for a variety of illnesses, autism being one of the most popular and controversial. Young helps out her husband while Mary studies for the SAT’s, her future being the primary reason for their move to America. A year has passed since a horrific explosion took place during one of the dive sessions. The murder trial has just begun and this no longer charming town is upended with accusations, mysterious clues and layers upon layers of alibis. Narrated by a multitude of suspects, the reader is instantly drawn in to the drama and misconceptions tossed violently throughout the court. When a novel’s first words are “My husband asked me to lie,” there is no stopping until the final page. This suspenseful, emotional courtroom and family saga proves to be an addictive rollercoaster. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Otherwise Engaged


Gabe and Molly are a young couple living the artsy life in New York. Gabe writing his novel, waiting tables at night; Molly at a practical monotonous desk job to pay the bills. Patiently waiting to actually feel like a grown up, mesmerized as their friends marry and get pregnant. When Gabe unexpectedly sells his novel through Molly’s obnoxious co-worker’s agent, their lives are quickly turned upside down. Molly soon learns that The Charms of Dahlia is a fictionalized account of Gabe’s psycho ex-girlfriend. After years of Talia-less tranquility, this woman reappears grabbing every ounce of attention she can steal. This fast paced, witty romance is filled with all the neuroses most young women carry when post college life kicks in and expectations soar. Most books about books feature bookstores. But this, my reader friends, had my mind spinning! Imagine if your partner wrote about his ex, insisting it was fiction, while America drooled over their breathless love affair and every sexual position! I couldn’t even envisage how I’d write up that review! Laugh out loud, completely enjoyable and well written. Thanks author Lindsey Palmer for the perfect beach read. This is definitely a must. #stockupforsummer

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Mrs. Everything


Jo and Bethie are two sisters growing up in Detroit, Michigan during the 1950’s. A typical Jewish middle class family living in the suburbs; mom cleans and cooks, dinner on the table at 5 every night. Jello for dessert. The American dream. Jo and Bethie are nothing alike as youngsters and even more different as adults but their sisterly bond is deep and true. Exploring race, sexual identity and the women’s liberation movement throughout the sixties and seventies, best selling author Jennifer Weiner takes us on Bethie and Jo’s journey for equality in the work place, abortion rights and the racial divide in America. The decades pass too quickly and while triumphs are slowly made, many still remain out of reach even today. Though this was a very different tone for Jennifer Weiner - no romantic comedies here - I thoroughly enjoyed her exploration of family dynamics and the consequences of choices we make every day. Emotional at times, Mrs. Everything touches on many tough issues and would be an excellent book club discussion. Highly recommend this solid summer read. Pub date June 11th 2019. #stockupforsummer This one is a winner. Thanks Netgalley for the early read!!

The Mister

Maxim Trevelyan, movie star handsome and known as the spare in the family, moves about London with the power and grace of the privileged few. When his beloved older brother unexpectedly crashes his motor cycle on an icy night, Max becomes the heir and inherits the wealth and aristocratic responsibility that comes with it. A few weeks later, drowning in his grief Maxim falls madly in love with his mysterious, beautiful, cleaning woman, known as his “daily” named Alessia. She calls him the Mister. He must save her from the monstrous men who brought her from Albania. Even though Max has been with hundreds of beautiful, sophisticated, wealthy women, there is something about Alessia that leaves him utterly speechless. Okay, dear reader friend, I am very sorry to announce that although this author was (finally!) edited, this slow, meaningless, boring, predictable story has literally no steam whatsoever. The real deception is this book’s place on the bestseller list, simply because of the author’s past success. Sorry, but this is NOT your summer read! Having been a huge 50 Shades fan, I am thoroughly disappointed.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Meet Cute


Kailyn is beautiful, smart and ready to rock law school. Walking to class on the first day of school while repeating her self mantra, Kailyn stumbles upon a group of guys and literally falls over one of them. It is none other than Daxton Hughes, child television star all grown up and her one and only teenage heartthrob. Throughout law school Kailyn focuses on her classes and secretly watches Dax from the corner of her eye. Eight years later he is standing in her office, still movie star gorgeous and desperately in need of her help. Kailyn cannot decide if Dax is sincere but his sad story breaks her heart and she vows to help him for the sake of his sweet younger sister whom he has just become guardian. Kailyn puts the sparks aside while her boss offers her a deal to become partner if she can get Dax on their team. This adorable love story is filled with friendship and hope and will satisfy the daydream of any girl that had that crush poster hanging over her bed! Perfect quick, happy, sexy read. Better start packing that beach bag!

A Well Behaved Woman


Alva Erskine Smith was a resourceful young woman. Her successful parents were socialites and raised their daughters to be educated, independent and worldly. After her mother unexpectedly passed away, her father quickly succumbed to his own illness and loss. The girls were left with very little. All they had was each other and their superior family bloodline. It was up to Alva to marry well and get their family back on their financial feet. She managed to seduce William Kissam Vanderbilt. Their family fortune was growing steadily but the Vanderbilt name was not yet considered amongst the higher ranks of New York. They could help each other. And for the next twenty years that is precisely what they did. While William spent money and wooed various women behind her back, Alva was out to make sure the Vanderbilt’s name would be set in stone. Alva was forward thinking, generous and intelligent. Author Therese Anne Fowler takes us on another incredible journey through time. New York City comes alive in our imaginations as history is made. This well written, interesting and enjoyable read is a must for anyone who loves historical fiction. 

In Another Time


In 1931 Hanna Ginsberg and Max Beissinger fall deeply in love. She is a rising superstar violinist and he is quietly running his parents quaint store after they pass away. Over the next 5 years Germany rapidly changes with the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party. What began as seemingly minor restrictions quickly becomes dangerous and life threatening. Max has begged Hanna to run away with him but her mother is unwell and disapproves of their relationship because Max is not Jewish. Hanna is deeply engrossed in her music and future life she envisions with the Berlin symphony. In 1946 Hanna awakens in a field desperately grasping her violin without a single memory of the last decade. The war has just ended but Hanna looks healthy with no signs of struggle. Does she have amnesia? A psychological disorder? Or does this have something to do with the magical closet Max has held close to his heart? Narrated by both Max and Hanna from the very beginning of their love affair to their desperate search for each other and the truth, In Another Time is a fast paced journey through history with a little bit of time travel thrown in to make this a most unique look at the sliding doors theory of how every choice we make affects not only our own but many lives in the future. Highly recommend another wonderful novel by author Jillian Cantor. A must for your summer reading list.

Out East


Beautiful memoir by John Glynn reflecting on a summer spent by the beach. Friday means catching the train to Montauk, New York where buildings disappear and the blue of the sea and sky merge as one. John is 27, working hard at a Manhattan publishing company and living in a hip part of town with two awesome roommates. He is livin’ the dream. Lately, even when surrounded by tons of friends, John is painfully lonely. His buddies are starting to pair off, life taking them to the next stage. He realizes he has never felt that deep romantic connection with anyone. John spends the summer at the Hive, a shared house where 30 young adults enjoy sun filled days and alcohol fueled nights. John is consumed with the drama of fitting in, finding love and most unexpectedly, figuring out his sexual identity. While closely observing the world of these privileged, beautiful people John finally allows himself the freedom to choose. This sensitive, well written, fast paced memoir is a peek into growing up, acceptance and the importance of love. Thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking, highly recommend this perfect summer read.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Daisy Jones & The Six


Daisy Jones grew up  in L.A. with everything and nothing at all. A child of the 60’s, she was beautiful, young and humming along to the music scene erupting on the Sunset Strip. Her parents had no idea where she was. Along comes The Six, a band from the east coast hoping to make it big. They have a mix of solid musicians and a frontman named Billy Dunne oozing that special something the fans craves. Daisy Jones & The Six write hit after hit. Billy struggles with the music he lives for and the husband and father he yearns to be. The dangerous magnetism between Daisy and Billy is what makes rock stars and also what everyone fears will tear them apart. Written as a running interview, this incredibly unique novel of love, passion and friendship follows an iconic band through the 70’s; a world overflowing with peace, love and rock’n roll. If you enjoyed the movie Almost Famous, you are sure to be swept away by Daisy Jones & The Six. Get your copy and get comfortable because this one sitting read will leave you speechless.

When We Left Cuba


When the Cuban Revolution forces Beatriz Perez and her family to flee Havana, they rebuild their lives in Florida. Leaving with very little, her father is intent on reestablishing himself in the profitable sugar industry, while her mother obsesses over finding suitable husbands for Beatriz and her sisters. Beatriz, however, is solely set on revenge. She is filled with devastating anger over the loss of her friends, her fortune, and her twin brother. She is given the perfect opportunity, when she is recruited by the CIA to aid the fight for freedom, putting in reach her dreams of returning home to the life her family left behind. However, a dangerous love affair with a well known senator complicates her ambitions as readers are propelled on this page-turning adventure through history.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

How to Hack a Heartbreak


It’s been four years since Mel Strickland graduated college and started working the IT help desk at Hatch, a startup incubator. But Mel is tired of assisting these spoiled frat boys who give a great pitch but can’t manage a paper jam - this girl coder has just about given up. She can barely make the rent, repeatedly meets Mr. Wrong and ultimately yearns to leave what was supposed to be a stepping stone into the real world of coding. Crushed when her Fluttr date is a no show, Mel codes the ultimate revenge; an app called JerkAlert (as a joke!) and is shocked when it goes viral. With the help of her incredibly resourceful girlfriends Mel finds her way to both success and her true match in this absolutely hilarious, very contemporary peek at our outrageous startup phenomena, girl power coding and bizarre culture of online dating. Highly recommend this fast paced, laugh-out-loud beach read! #stockupforsummer  Pub date: July 30, 2019 Thanks for the early read NetGalley!

Trophy Life


It has been a decade since Agnes survived on peanut butter and scrimped pennies for the rent. Her dreams of living in sunny California all came true the day she unexpectedly met Jack in a bar. With movie star good looks and impeccable taste, Jack, twenty years her senior, became her knight in shining armor and Aggie the epitome of the textbook Trophy Wife. Squeezing in yoga between her manicure and shopping, a house staff to care for her adorable baby - Aggie has more than she ever dared to imagine. The day Jack disappears, this life is over. In one fell swoop (Madoff style) Jack and every bit of their idyllic existence is shattered. Finding herself at the mercy of Jack’s smarmy best friend, Aggie has no choice but to accept a job at a fancy private school in NY teaching middle school English to a bunch of delinquents. Life’s sharpest turn and greatest challenge become Aggie’s salvation. Witty, charming and well written, highly recommend this absolutely hysterical take on finding the life you were meant to live. Pack this one in your beach bag ladies! It’s a winner!!

Little Fires Everywhere


As mysteriously as Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl, enter each and every one of the Richardson’s lives - they just as simply vanish. The Richardson family live in Shaker Heights, a painstakingly well planned community in Ohio. Mrs. Richardson is a model citizen and shining example of motherhood. Or so she thought. When Mia, a wandering artist enters their lives by renting the Richardson’s spare apartment, all of their beliefs are quietly turns upside down. Each of the four children develop a special friendship with the Warren’s, while Mia creates her art and longs to finally give Pearl a place she can call home. This orderly town is further turned sideways when Bebe, Mia’s co-worker, is forced into a devastating custody battle over her baby girl with a local family very close to the Richardson’s and sides are quickly taken. Examining each type of relationship, it is clear that the bubble people create to live in rarely resembles the painful truth. This insightful, well written novel is filled with wonderfully descriptive characters. The boundaries they cross neither made me laugh or cry. As much as I enjoyed reading this story it didn’t pull my heartstrings as expected. Looking forward to book club discussion as it has many paths to tread.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Woman at the Light


Emily and Martin Lowry, along with their three young children live on Wrecker’s Cay, a small island off the coast of Key West. Martin is the lighthouse keeper, sometimes known as a “wickie,” because of his job trimming the wicks.They live a quiet, solitary life and their lighthouse is of vital importance as many ships crash on these shallow reefs. Lives are lost and treasures often found. Martin mysteriously disappears one afternoon and Emily continues to care for the lighthouse and her family, optimistically waiting for his return. Emily is apprehensive but strangely relieved when the children find a runaway slave on the shore one afternoon. Andrew is charming, strong and resilient. This is the beginning of many secrets Emily must keep for the sake of the lighthouse, her children and her newfound, highly forbidden love. Wonderfully written, Key West author Joanna Brady takes us on a historical journey beginning in 1829, when Key West was a collection of fishing shacks, Ellen Mallory ran a boardinghouse and it became known as the wrecking capital of the world.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Just Call Me Miri


Miri Engle is a young girl from Miami desperately searching for her identity, purpose and most importantly, her one true love. On a high school study abroad program in Israel, Miri immediately connects with the wondrous land of her familial ancestors. And so begins decades of Miri’s journeying around the world, trying to find the right place to call home. Meeting one colorful character after another, Miri learns lessons of friendship, family and the heart that never seem to come very easily. Often experiencing frustration, rejection and painful loss she is determined to move on and not be a victim of circumstance. Just when most people would think it may be time to surrender, Miri makes one more attempt at finding her happiness and charges off again at full steam. Funny, smart, independent and relentless, this firecracker girl never gives up on the people she loves or her dreams of the future. Beautifully written, Just Call Me Miri is an incredible debut novel by author Mandi Eizenbaum. Whether you find yourself laughing out loud or crying from heartbreak, we can’t help but see a little bit of Miri in ourselves and recognize that feeling, that surely there is “more” just waiting to be discovered. Why should anybody settle and not make that bold leap to keep searching? Highly recommend this fabulous new read and look forward to more from this exciting new author. #adventure #travel #friends #love #family #history

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Unhoneymooners


Olive and Amy are identical twins but complete opposites. They may look alike but Olive is unfailingly the most unlucky person on the planet and Amy is the contest winning champion. With her Type A personality at the helm and entire wedding party set (including hideous green dresses!) Amy is beyond excited for her big day. The one downside for Olive is she has to spend time with Ethan, the very adorable but despised brother-in-law to be. When the “prized” seafood buffet sends hundreds to the Emergency Room, Olive and Ethan are the last two standing. They are coerced to go on the all expenses paid, non-refundable, non-transferable trip to Hawaii. And pretend they are the happy newlyweds. So begins, the HILARIOUS, adorable, heart warming story of Ethan and Olive’s adventure. This is a one sitting, can’t get the silly smile off your face type of read. Throw in some typical Christina Lauren - be true to yourself, give people a chance vibe and we have another winner. Available in May. This is going to be a huge summer beach read! Thanks for the early peek @NetGalley

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Red White & Royal Blue


President Claremont is the first woman in the White House and about to run for reelection. Her brilliant, charming son Alex, has fallen in love for the first time. Living in the White House is not always easy, and Alex cannot wait to work on his mother’s campaign when he graduates from Georgetown in a few months. Together with his feisty sister and the Veep’s coding granddaughter they make up the White House Trio. As glamorous and adventurous as this seems (and it is!!) when the tabloids get hold of Alex’s private emails and texts it becomes a public scandal. The world learns that Alex’s secret relationship is with none other than Prince Henry of Wales, spare to the throne. While both American and British PR guru’s are in damage control Alex and Henry must figure out how they can live truthfully and not hurt their families. As their lives are turned upside down; witty, wonderful new author Casey McQuiston takes us on a rollercoaster of laughter, acceptance and hope. I have to admit this is the very first romantic story I have read of this nature and absolutely loved every minute of it. Incredible how this young debut author was able to imagine this alternative love story mixed with mainstream politics and harsh reality. Totally enjoyable, rom-com. A MUST read!!

Southernmost


After a tragic flood hits this small Tennessee town, preacher Asher Sharp’s life is literally washed away. Everything he knows is about to change. He finally finds the courage to face guilty memories of his brother’s departure and his mothers abuse that eat away at his heart. Asher realizes his wife’s judgement runs deep and is sadly never going to change. He wants to teach his son to think for himself, not be forced upon the evangelical masses. When he preaches his last sermon the church he has always known turns him away. Asher and Justin sneak off to find Asher’s brother Luke. They wind their way to Key West where they form the most unlikely friendships and learn the truth about love, family and faith. This colorful, heartfelt story will take hold of your imagination and won’t let go. Wonderful characters, excellent writing, lots of life lessons all rolled into one touching novel. Great book club selection, highly recommend.

Swamplandia!

The Bigtree family run an alligator theme park in the Florida Everglades. Swamplandia! is on one of the Ten Thousand Islands at the far end of Loomis County (think Miami!) Since his wife, the alligator wrestling champion passed away, Chief Bigtree is struggling to keep the theme park afloat. Raising his three children amongst mosquitos the size of small cars and the snapping gators, the kids are loosely homeschooled and gather their soggy reading materials from the library boat that was abandoned years ago. Spunky Ava believes the show must go on and continues her gator training. Ossie has become a spiritist and is currently dating a ghost and Kiwi, an autodidact, desperately wants to attend high school on the mainland. When another park called The World of Darkness threatens to completely destroy their livelihood, these three resourceful kids jump into action. The Bigtree’s somewhat remind me of the Brown’s on Alaskan Bush People (Discovery Channel) a rather twisted, sometimes dark, funny and very imaginative family. Interesting read, wonderful author.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Other Half of My Soul


Rayna, a beautiful, smart, youngest daughter of a religious Jewish family in New York begs her parents to allow her to go away to college. She is rarely denied and has always been her father’s favorite. They finally permit her to study journalism at the University of Maryland as long as she continues to follow their strict religious codes of eating and socializing as they do in their small Syrian community in New York. When handsome Rami sits beside her in class she immediately feels her world turn upside down. He is instantly enamored with her as well. As the two young people get acquainted she learns that Rami is also Syrian. His family lives in a small village, they are Muslim and part of the Shi-ite minority. The more Rayna and Rami learn about each other’s customs and beliefs they are surprised by the similarities but well aware that neither of their families, nor the terrorist group sponsoring Rami’s scholarship would approve of their friendship and vehemently forbid a romance of any kind. But they are young, idealistic and in love. Rami and Rayna naively believe they can find a way to be together without anyone getting hurt. This novel is a unique story filled with passion and determination. It brings up a lot of difficult issues regarding family, religion, politics and deep rooted history. The writing is average (needed serious editing) but I must say it was an extremely interesting read and will be a heated discussion at book club this month.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Last Romantics


The fours Skinner siblings survive the Pause. This is a 2 year period where their mom, after the unexpected demise of their father, enters a state of suspended life. She rarely leaves her darkened bedroom and the children manage on their own. Renee, the eldest takes care of everyone; clothes washed, mouths fed and games played - while they wait for the Pause to end. Renee, Caroline, Joe and the youngest Fiona form an unbreakable bond during this time that will guide them and affect all the choices they make for the rest of their lives. Later, Fiona becomes a renowned poet and her most famous love poems are the essence of her and her family. From the perspective of Fiona - at well over 100 years old - this story flashes back back back through the Skinner timeline; the relationships, the triumphs and the losses. The siblings search for true love, and learn that their lives have been deeply affected by everything that happened during the Pause. After reading and loving the historical fiction novel by Tara Conklin years ago, I jumped at the chance to read her latest work. The writing is once again astounding but I have to admit the story of a dysfunctional family and how siblings survive is not very original. Sometimes it is just timing but I had to force myself to the finish line.

Monday, February 11, 2019

More Than Words


Nina has grown up as the wealthy daughter of New York hotelier and legend, Joseph Gregory. After losing her mother at a tragically young age, Nina has been her father’s princess, an only child that is the future of his empire. Recently, her world has been turned upside down. Her father is ill, her lifelong best friend Tim has proposed. Nina has been raised in a world filled with headlines about her family. She was groomed for a life of public persona. Tim understands all of this. They would be a power team. There is no-one who knows her better. Nina is working on a mayoral campaign and when the candidate, her boss Rafael is in the same room, she cannot breathe. As Joseph Gregory’s health declines Nina learns more about her parents mythic relationship, the family finances and the truth about her own warped memories. All the while, when Rafael is near the world stops spinning and instead of following the crumbs laid before her, Nina must finally choose. I nervously picked up this latest love story by incredible author Jill Santopolo. After her bestseller - The Light We Lost - well, who could blame me? I am happy to report I fell down the Santopolo rabbit hole once again. Do not miss this beautiful, touching (much too quick read!) about making hard choices with the ones you love and changing your destiny.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Unmarriageable


After Bark Binat has a falling out with his brother, this wealthy Pakistani family loses everything. Gone is their wealth and status and fancy estate. He moves with his wife and their five daughters to the small town of Dilipabad. Jena and Alys, the eldest sisters, teach English Literature at the British School nearby and their mom spends every waking moment trying to find them husbands. When they are invited to the biggest wedding of the year, she has convinced the girls this may be their last chance to grab a marriage. Jenna is quickly enamored by the handsome Bungles, while Alys and Darcee begin their love/hate relationship. This Pakistani retelling of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is absolutely hysterical and completely entertaining. Author Soniah Kamal’s elaboration of a very real part of Pakistani culture - where marriage and status are of the highest priority - combined with the well loved classic, is a great combination, merging past and present and laughing all the way to the altar.

Friday, February 8, 2019

If, Then


We meet four neighbors in the sleepy town of Clearing, Oregon. They live at the base of a dormant volcano and a typical day includes the ground rumbling a bit.  Ginny, a surgeon and Mark, a scientist are busy working and raising their son. Mark is tracking a species of frog in the forest. Disappointed he did not receive a grant to further his study, he believes the frogs will foretell a natural disaster long before a man made detector will. Samara, a realtor, comes home to help her father and mourn the recent loss of her mother. Her boyfriend patiently waits while she searches for clues and signs she believes were her mother’s wishes. Cass, a graduate student of philosophy has taken a break from work to give birth to her daughter and is finding it hard to separate her mind from motherhood long enough to continue writing. Her mentor Robby, another neighbor, is very sick in the hospital and while Ginny cares for him, Samara has put his house on the market. It is clear  that the destinies of these connected souls are about to change when the visions begin. Every time the earth rumbles these characters witness a parallel universe of themselves. Terrifying at first, the neighbors do not share their visions for fear of being thought insane but they all become desperate to know what these brief moments really mean. This very original novel had me on the edge of my seat. The reader cannot stop turning the pages as this rumbling, like the story itself quietly gains momentum. Highly recommend this well written, hypnotizing debut novel. It really makes the readers imagination run wild.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Come to the Edge


Christina Haag grew up on the Upper East Side of New York with all the other privileged prep school kids. Acting saved her from the normal doldrums of teens just seeking out the next big party. A closeness grew between John F. Kennedy Jr. and Christina that started out just being part of the same friend group - summers at the same parties and invites to the poshest events. Ten years later after both attending Brown and sharing a deep passion for the theater, they finally began their real life love affair. Even though it was difficult for someone in the public eye, as John most certainly was, to be considered a “boyfriend” the two shared a deep, very close and passionate friendship. Christina knew his family, his friends and most importantly, what often happens with childhood friends, she seemed to know a part of the real John that very few understood. It is only later after their relationship had long been over that he married and was much too soon killed in a tragic plane crash that to this day seems unreal. This book was written 8 years ago and I picked it up on a whim. Having always been saddened by the Kennedy’s fate and closely followed this handsome son - I was intrigued to view the story from the point of view of a someone so dear to him. Both simply and beautifully written, Christina shares her heartbreaking story of love and friendship and destiny.

Ask Again, Yes


Two families live next door to each other in a quiet town just outside New York City. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are both police officers and want the American dream. A few kids, a yard and dinner on the table when they get home from a long shift. Francis’s wife Lena quickly has three girls and it takes every ounce of her energy to get through the day. Anne, Brian’s wife watches her closely and pushes away any attempt at friendship. After an awful lot of bad luck Anne finally has a little boy Peter and he and Kate, the youngest daughter next door, become the very best of friends. Becoming a parent does not warm Anne to Lena. The close friendship their children share she deems as suspicious and threatening. Obviously unstable and equally unhappy Anne’s act of violence years later is both unimaginable and unforgivable tearing the families completely apart. Peter and Kate are only 14 when their world is torn to pieces. Years pass and as destiny unravels, Peter and Kate find each other again. The difficult choices they repeatedly have to make are painful and will either set them on a path to freedom or destruction. Deep, complicated family dynamics. This realistic novel is beautifully written but sad and often hopeless. Even though the threads of love are strong, the alcoholism and mental illness is extremely depressing. Great writer, difficult book to recommend.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Mother-In-Law


Lucy lost her mother at a young age. She had always dreamed that when she got married, her mother-in-law would somehow fill this void in her life. She craved the nurturing love and motherly advice one dotes on a daughter. When Lucy married Ollie she immediately recognized this was never going to happen with her new mother-in-law, Diana. Prim, proper and always steps ahead of the rest Diana did not have an ounce of sympathy for anyone other than the struggling refugees she helped with her charity work. Her son Ollie and daughter Nettie craved her approval only to be disappointed over and over again. Now, ten years later, Diana is found dead. The note left behind makes no sense at all. Every character has a motive. Each family member has secrets. As the story unfolds with flashbacks alternating Lucy’s perspective and then Diana’s from both past and present, it is clear that there is always another side to the story. It is sad that we probably go through most of life only seeing our one view, so sure we know what the other is feeling. Could not put down this suspenseful, twisted, family drama. My first read by Australian author Sally Hepworth and will definitely not be my last! Highly recommend.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Beantown Girls


Fiona, Dotty and Viviana, three best friends from Boston have all volunteered to be Red Cross Clubmobile Girls. It is 1944 and as the allies come closer to winning the war these three, smart and brave women want to do more than send care packages - they want to make a difference in the lives of the men who had no choice but to fight. College educated and bubbling with enthusiasm the girls are shipped to London for training. From there they will take their van to designated areas and army bases to serve the men donuts, coffee and more importantly shower them with hope and a little bit of home. In addition to the task at hand, Fiona is determined to find out more about her fiancé who has been missing in action for the last year. She cannot move on or even fully grieve until she knows what happened to him when his plane went down. These vivacious women become a shining star traveling the British coast, finding new friends and even some romance. It is not until they prove themselves that they dare to cross over to France where they are much closer to the frontlines and face danger, tough decisions and their own futures. This very easy to read novel filled with friendship, loyalty and history was an absolute pleasure. I had never heard of the wonderful Clubmobile Girls! Their story that began with distributing donuts tells us so much more about these very young troops, their patriotism and the unsung heroines who helped them. Highly recommend this latest novel by author Jane Healey, who I must thank for writing a beautiful story and posting incredible old photos of actual events.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Marilla of Green Gables


Marilla Cuthbert had led an idyllic childhood with her loving family on the shores of Avonlea, a fictional community on Prince Edward Island, Canada. It is the early 1800’s and after her mother unexpectedly passes away it quickly becomes Marilla’s life to care for her older brother and widowed father. The Gable’s are her paradise and having never ventured very far, she doesn’t dream of much else. But as she grows Marilla experiences pangs of what could have been, what might lie ahead of the borders of her very small island. Since having grown up with the infamous Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the reader may already know the ending. In this adult version, it is the earlier years of Marilla’s life and depth of her kindness, faith and heart that this author lovingly brings to us. With the dialect fitting right in with the times and history of the characters our imaginations can run wild with new beginnings. Whether it is the nostalgia of childhood reading marathons on my big yellow bean bag chair with my dog at my feet or the idea that wonderful books live on and can even evolve with generations, this book is pure joy. A big thank you to author Sarah McCoy for sharing her incredible imagination!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

I Owe You One


Fixie has always had a knack for “fixing” or at least trying to fix everyones problems, hence the nickname that has stuck since she was a small child. After the untimely death of her father, she happily runs the family shop with her mum. Her siblings help out when they can but really Fixie is a wonder and takes care of it all. After a health scare her mum takes a much needed break to visit her sister in Spain. Fixie is left with two jobs; keep the shop afloat and the family together. Not an easy task as her sister awkwardly brings her yoga practice amid the houseware displays and her brother’s extravagant taste and lifestyle nearly ruins them all. A childhood heartthrob returns and Fixie is forced to make some difficult choices pushing all common sense aside. When she meets handsome Sebastian in a coffee shop, a running joke of IOU’s is the beginning of big change in Fixie’s life. At once, her dreams of love, success and family collide when she discovers in order to find true happiness Fixie needs to fix Fixie first. This latest, adorable, perfect for Valentine’s romance from best selling author Sophie Kinsella had me at hello. An absolute pleasure to read, I adored the characters and laughed out loud the whole way through. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

An Anonymous Girl


Makeup artist Jessica Farris sneaks into a psychological study to make some extra money. Just answer some questions honestly and off you go with the much needed cash in hand. Nothing is ever as simple as it appears. Jess becomes enthralled, borderline hypnotized by the very sophisticated, beautiful woman named Dr. Shields who is running the study. Jess becomes extremely paranoid and although she sets out to be as honest as possible, there is information she holds back to protect herself and those she loves. The more data Dr. Shields gathers, the more Jess becomes obsessed with finding answers to the mysteries that unfold during the study. Suddenly an academic view of morality becomes very personal when Dr. Shields is using Jess to uncover her husbands supposed deceit. Full of exquisite twists and turns, it is not clear until the very end if there is anyone left to trust. If you like suspenseful thrillers, An Anonymous Girl will not disappoint. Thanks to co-authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, for another unpredictable, unputdownable and truly creepy novel.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Lost Girls of Paris


WWII has finally ended but instead of the happiness she always hoped for, Grace Healey finds herself sad and alone. After losing her husband in a horrible accident Grace could not bare to go home to Connecticut and face the pity pouring out from her friends and family. She rents a room, gets a job and decides to virtually reinvent herself in NYC. While walking through Grand Central on her way to work one day, Grace stumbles upon a suitcase left behind by a traveler. In addition to finding the owner’s name she discovers photographs of beautiful women that don’t look much older than herself. In an effort to return the items and evade facing her own personal heartbreak, Grace begins an investigation to find out who Eleanor Trigg really was and why she has carried these photographs across an ocean. As she unravels a complicated female ring of undercover agents, Grace realizes she must get to the bottom of this puzzle to find peace for Eleanor, her mysterious girls and her own future. Filled with love, friendship and incredibly brave women, favorite author Pam Jenoff creates another fabulous novel taking us back in time. Well written, exciting and absolutely unputdownable.