Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Nothing to See Here

Lillian and Madison both attend a fancy boarding school called Iron Mountain in Tennessee. Lillian, a scholarship student is matched to room with Madison, a wealthy, beautiful heiress from Atlanta. Later, when Madison is on the brink of expulsion Lillian takes the hit and Madison is indebted to her forevermore. Remaining penpals, their lives take on completely different paths. Madison’s perfect senator husband has ten year old twins from a previous marriage that are coming back to live in the mansion. They have one small disability. When the twins get upset, they burst into flames. The fires don’t hurt the children but everything around them is destroyed and yeah, people pretty much don’t understand. Lillian is hired to be their governess and head secret keeper. This bizarre story is a fast paced satire of politics and parenthood. Love and friendship. Unique, kind of fun and glad it was a short easy read for my final book of 2019!!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

One True Loves

After Daisy Jones, I couldn’t resist finding one of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s earlier novels. Emma Blair is a beautiful twenty something that married Jesse, her high school sweetheart. Everything picture perfect until Jesse disappears in a helicopter over the Pacific. For three long years Emma has mourned her husband, moved back to her hometown and desperately tried to rebuild her life. Finally open to the idea of loving again, she meets Sam. And he is perfect. They get engaged and Emma can finally envision a future happiness she thought was long gone. One day Jesse appears. He was found alive and literally survived by the thread of hope to be with Emma again. It is hard for Emma to imagine herself with Jesse, he seems like a very different person. Filled with guilt and longing, Emma realizes maybe she is the one who has changed. Sweet love story. Good book candy. Not Daisy Jones.

The Body Painter

Gil is an artist secreted away in a remote warehouse. He has placed an ad for a model to be his next canvas. Olin was focused on becoming a dancer until a brutal accident stole all her dreams, now she barely gets by. Looking for work and intrigued, she answers Gils ad and finds herself suddenly face to face with her high school infatuation, the love of her life. Gil is someone she has never forgotten and would give anything to know again. But Gils terrible mystery cannot be shared and he refuses to put Olin in dangers way. This all sounds like an interesting, romantic premise for a sexy story but everyone and everything is just too far fetched. The writing repeating itself over and over with very little actually happening. There is a sequel but I think I’ll pass.

In Five Years

Overachievers Dannie and David have their lives meticulously planned out. Dannie hopes to make partner at the most prestigious New York law firm and David is set to manage a successful hedge fund. They will live in a swanky Grammercy Park apartment with a view and summer in the Hamptons. Living together and recently engaged, their lives on right on track, until one day Dannie has a bizarre dream. For one solid hour she vividly sees herself five years in the future - with a different man, in another apartment and having the most intense sex of her life. Waking up shaken, she remembers every detail down to the mans name and the blue velvet of the living room chairs. Spooked by this premonition/dream Dannie works hard to forget this peculiar occurrence and continue on her rigid path that has zero wiggle room. More than four years later, with their engagement lingering, this memory comes full circle when Dannie meets Aaron, the man from her dream. Impossible or not, this secret is unbearable to keep as her best friend’s life is turned upside down and her very own heart falls to pieces. This fabulous, unpredictable, page turning romance had me guessing until the very end. Set to release in March 2020, a must to add to your reading list!

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Wives

Thursday is a young woman living in Seattle. She works as a nurse at the hospital and is married to a handsome, successful man named Seth, whom she adores to no end. Raised in Utah as part of a large polygamist family, Seth has grown into similar arrangements of his own. Thursday is his legal wife but Monday and Tuesday are his other wives. Accepting this arrangement and seeing Seth only part of the week has been difficult for Thursday from the start but lately she cannot restrain herself from wanting more information about these other wives. What begins as a search based on jealousy and competition, who can be the better wife, quickly turns to rage and suspicion. This absolutely twisted, suspense, psycho thriller had me on the edge of my seat. Have not been this spellbound since Gone Girl. Going to be an intense book club discussion.

The Map That Leads to You

... And because I loved the recently released Seven Letters, I could not resist reading J.P. Monninger’s novel from 2017!
Heather graduates with honors from Amherst. Before her big corporate job in NYC begins, she decides to backpack Europe with her two best friends Amy and Constance. A trip they painstakingly planned for months, these young women are having their last hurrah before succumbing to the real world of jobs and responsibilities. On a train ride to Amsterdam Heather meets Jack. Not usually the type to easily fall, she is smitten and instantly overcome by Jack’s intelligence, humor and good looks. Originally from a farm in Vermont, Jack is tracing his grandfather’s footsteps detailed in the treasured post war journal that has been handed down to him. As the trip continues Amy unexpectedly departs, leaving Jack and Australian Raef to balance out the group. The young adults test their friendship and leap into their first true love.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Seven Letters

Kate, a young beautiful professor at Dartmouth, receives a grant to examine the remote Blasket Islands off the rocky coast of Ireland. After studying her own familial history these islands have become both her speciality and her obsession. She unexpectedly befriends an old woman on a ferry and is quickly introduced to the woman’s grandson, Ozzie Ferriter. A handsome, intelligent, former soldier, Ozzie initially appears too overzealous for Kate’s taste - but as his family history runs deep in these waters, Ozzie’s vast knowledge and persistence leads them to friendship. It is not long before Kate surrenders to his Irish charms and they fall in love. Kate’s designated year for study turns into much more and as lines are drawn and choices are made, she must find a way to meld two completely different worlds into one. Always a fan of an Irish setting, the accent alone can melt ones heart. This love story with a twist will quickly take you to another land and feeling the grá (love) in no time.

All Grown Up

Valentina is a recently divorced single mom. With her son away at college her best friend is simply begging her to get back out there in the world of the living. Having married her high school sweetheart after getting pregnant at 17, Valentina has never actually dated - and although beautiful, it has been an awfully long time since she received any real attention. When her friend secretly posts her listing on a dating site she immediately receives a response from a very handsome man. Completely new for Valentina, this text flirting is absolutely irresistible. Donovan’s messages become the highlight of her day and after much cajoling she concedes to a one time meet up. This man is way too young and much too gorgeous to be taken seriously. Only when they meet does Valentina realize that Donovan is his last name, and the sexy “Ford” that is standing in front of her is none other than the boy next door all grown up. Their chemistry is magical from the start and the big question is whether Valentina can put what everyone else thinks aside and let her heart lead the way. Fast paced hot, fun older woman twist with addictive characters. Some good book candy.

Meg & Jo

Imagine that Meg is married with adorable towheaded twins living near their parents farm in North Carolina; Jo, an anonymous food blogger works in a hip NYC restaurant falling head over heels for her hunky boss; fashionable Amy jets off to Paris and sweet bashful Beth is finally finding her voice.  While their father never tires of helping the homeless, his neglect for their injured mother is painfully obvious and the sisters find themselves at odds examining their parents marriage, familial responsibilities and their very own romantic futures. The March sisters reimagined brings back beautiful memories of sisterhood that Little Women devotees have devoured for the last 150 years. This contemporary twist is a fun remake of a classic filled with love and laughter that never gets old! Well done Virginia Kantra, Meg and Jo was an absolute pleasure to read and I look forward to the coming sequel of “Beth and Amy.”

Friday, December 20, 2019

You Were There Too

Mia Graydon and her husband Harrison decide to make a fresh start in the small town of Hope Springs. Leaving Philly was hard but Harrison, having finally finished his residency, is ready for a fresh start at a new hospital. Mia, on the other hand, is feeling a little lost. What started as an impulsive, exciting move has left Mia without a routine of any kind and her once passionate career as a painter is still packed away in the studio. Both grieving their separate losses, they are finding their relationship at odds for the first time in eight years. When Mia is introduced to Oliver, he takes her breath away. It feels like she has known him forever, yet they have never met. Oliver has been in her dreams since high school. And the most terrifying part - he has been dreaming of her too. After researching psychics, dream psychiatry, all aspects of coincidence and fate, Mia is forced to make a choice. Indecision slowly devours her every waking moment until destiny once again intervenes. Highly recommend this January 2020 release, a poignant, wholly original love story which will leave you dreaming of these characters long after the final page. FIVE STARS!!!

Royal Holiday

Vivian Forest has a grand opportunity to accompany her daughter, a fashion consultant, on a business trip during the Christmas holidays. As she rarely goes out of her box, this single, middle aged social worker cannot imagine the holidays anywhere but with her family in California. With great effort to be spontaneous she surrenders to Maddie’s wishes and they are off to a magnificent castle where Maddie will dress the duchess and Vivian unexpectedly falls head over heels with handsome Malcolm, the Queens secretary. Cute, simple romance, quick holiday read, but not top of my list. My second Jasmine Guillory book, I think she has great imagination but maybe these books are pumped out a little too fast?

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Mr. Nobody

A handsome man washes up on a beach in a charming coastal village in England. Dressed in wet tattered clothing, he has a bump on the back of his head and no identification in his pocket. Discovered by a passerby, the police are notified and he is quickly taken to a nearby hospital. With no memory of how he ended up on the beach and more importantly, no idea of his own name, Dr. Emma Lewis, eminent neuropsychiatrist is called in for the case. The man dubbed “Mr. Nobody” has remained mute until he meets Dr. Lewis and quietly mumbles her name. Eerily, it is her old name, one she hasn’t used in over fourteen years. It is difficult enough for Emma to be back in this town her family abandoned all those years ago, she can no longer ignore the impossible coincidences and slips of information Mr. Nobody whisperers. It is Emma’s job to solve this great mystery and to do so without the past repeating itself.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Hill Women

Cassie Chambers grew up in Owsley County, one the most impoverished communities in the Appalachian Mountains. Her mother Wilma, both beautiful and smart, left the family tobacco farm to attend a small college nearby.  As frightened as she was leaving home, Wilma knew this was the key to a better life for her family and herself. Cassie was often looked after in the ramshackle home of her Granny, Papaw and Aunt Ruth. She ran barefoot through the fields with her cousins and other local children. Even though the family struggled to make ends meet, her days were filled with an abundance of love and hard work, the mainstream of their lives. As Cassie matured, she strove for the same accolades her mother had, good grades and an upward climb on the steep education ladder. An opportunity for a unique boarding school in New Mexico during senior year took Cassie away for the first time. A turning point, this filled her with even more drive and determination, which served her well through the most prestigious academic institutions of Yale College and Harvard Law. Always torn between two very different worlds, it took years for Cassie to truly understand and honor the beauty she found in these heroic mountain women who were creative, brave, loving and tireless. With deep admiration and respect for her family, Cassie yearns to find a compromise that will allow her the rewards she has earned and ways to make real change in the lives of these often forgotten women. Highly recommend this compelling work of non-fiction which reads like a novel. Loved it!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Recipe For A Perfect Wife

Alice Hale is a young woman striving for success at a high-end Manhattan publishing firm. Newly married, she has an adoring analytical husband, a nightmare boss and a top notch best friend. Overnight her world comes crashing down. With her career destroyed, Nate surprises Alice with a beautiful fixer upper in the burbs and all the time in the world to get pregnant and finally write her novel. Feeling displaced in her new home by strange noises and thoughts of the original owner, Alice discovers a box in the basement filled with the life of Nellie Murdoch, a 1950’s housewife. Upon realizing their lives reflect startling similarities, Alice begins to find solace in cooking her way through Nellie’s antiquated recipes; Baked Alaska, Jellied Salads and Tuna Casserole. When additional secrets bloom in the garden the truth for both women is shockingly revealed. Highly recommend this clever, phenomenal story of what it means to be a woman and how very far we have come (or not) in the last 50+ years. If you loved bestseller Julie & Julia, don’t miss this soon to be released awesome read!!

We Met in December

Jess is moving to London. Finally! Having grown up in a quaint, unremarkable seaside town with a mediocre job and erratic mom, Jess is starting over in a magnificent Notting Hill house with four strangers. Treasuring this opportunity for new beginnings, (her real life!) Jess snags a dream job in publishing and the chance to live in a zip code she never dared to dream. These twentysomethings become fast friends; cooking, drinking and binge watching their favorite shows. Only rule to follow - no couples in the house. But of course, in walks Alex. The handsome boy next door (literally!) who left his prestigious law position to study nursing, who is as kind as he is gorgeous. Throughout their year living together, from one Christmas celebration to the next, Jess learns the true meaning of family, friends and love. Fall into the holiday spirit with this enjoyable, sweet, feel-good romantic read.

Christmas Shopaholic

Becky Brandon loves her family, her job and most of all - Becky loves Christmas. She counts the days to lose herself in gingerbread houses, festive trees, and of course, hence the name, the Christmas shopping. As the holiday quickly approaches her once dependable parents experience a mid-life crisis, moving to a hip London neighborhood and leaving Becky as Christmas Day host for the very first time. Obsessed with tradition and the perfect gift for her husband, Becky is thrown for a loop when her handsome rock star ex-boyfriend moves into the neighborhood, her vegan step sister mysteriously shows up sans husband and much of her precious shopping turns into an online fiasco. This laugh-out-loud, adorable holiday fix is just what you need when the demanding list grows out of control. Take a wonderful break with this fun celebration of friendship, family and shopping!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Travel Light, Move Fast

Alexandra Fuller races to her beloved father’s deathbed while on vacation in Budapest. As she and her mother navigate this primitive healthcare system, they reminisce a lifetime of memories leading up to this moment. Alexandra expertly narrates her profound love for her father as she continues to fascinate us with their family’s outrageous African bush experiences. She beguiles the reader with the pandemonium that surrounded their various homes, farms and near fatal daily chaos. Alexandra simultaneously reflects on her present situation, including painful divorce, raising three children thousands of miles from “home” while living in Wisconsin and increasing difficulties mounting with her only sister. Alexandra is a magnificent storyteller and I am always mesmerized by life in the bush, but this fourth recount of the Fuller experience did not grasp my imagination as the others did. Reading like short stories loosely sewn together, the end felt disconnected and it would probably not be impactful as a standalone if you hadn’t read her other work. Alexandra’s first, “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight” is one of my ALL time favorite reads EVER.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Lori Gottlieb is a therapist living and working in Los Angeles, California. As a single mom with a busy practice, Lori takes pride in all her responsibilities and juggles her days with care. One day her world comes crashing down when her fiancé unexpectedly ends their relationship. Lori’s future suddenly seems uncertain and the pain is affecting every aspect of her life. And then she finds Wendell, her new therapist. In this sudden roll reversal Lori is on the couch and hoping this stranger - who was strategically selected for age and maleness - will commiserate with her romantic loss and help justify her anger and resentment. But she couldn’t be more wrong. Wendell forces Lori to dig much deeper than she has ever gone before. Interspersed stories of her very personal journey with Wendell and a handful of her most unique patient relationships, Lori Gottlieb shares her innermost thoughts of her “therapist” and “therapy” experiences. Funny, smart and quick witted, Lori is a talented storyteller and clinician. This excellent, thought provoking read is an unputdownable therapy marathon, feels like I just finished a two day session! 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Grace After Henry

Grace begins to see Henry everywhere she turns. She either has a vivid imagination or is hallucinating because Henry unexpectedly died in a tragic accident only two months earlier. At times Grace feels like she can’t go on as everyone near and dear encourages her to find strength in the life Henry would have wanted. Some days she can barely eat a meal or get out of bed and Grace is terrified she may forget Henry’s essence. One day Andy, a handyman, comes to fix the apartment and he is the spitting image of Henry. As she begins to feel more and more connected to Andy, Grace questions the honesty of her desires. This very simple story tackles the most painful moments of a sudden loss and the guilt associated letting go of ones grief. Additional colorful characters are found in Grace’s best friend Aoife and her grumpy, well-meaning neighbor Betty. This simple, well written story was an enjoyable read. 

The Floating Feldmans

It’s Annette’s 70th birthday and even though her grown children live across the country and avoid almost every phone call, she insists they must be together for her big day. The (once) perfect daughter Elise and off-the-grid son Freddy submit to mom’s demand and they all meet up for a celebration cruise. Elises’s grown children tag along and her well meaning husband reveals his own hidden secret. Claustrophobic cruise ships filled with buffet lines and smiling staff who secretly want to strangle this bizarre demanding family made me sea sick without leaving the couch. Unfortunately, each and every character was so completely unlikeable and a little too over the top to be funny. The family shenanigans are endless and even though I wanted to like this book and it got so much hype, I was about to jump overboard.

High Achiever

Tiffany Jenkins is a drug addict. She lies, cheats and steals to maintain her addiction. Hurting every single person in her life, Tiffany has disappointed her family, friends and all but destroyed her boyfriend who happens to work in law enforcement. Like watching a train wreck, every move Tiffany makes is a painful bad decision and the reader cannot look away. Deep down inside, past her drug addiction one can glimpse a sweet, smart, caring young woman who has lost all self control to drugs. This fast paced, intense memoir documents her journey through her 6 months of incarceration in a Florida prison and flash backs of how she wound up there in the first place. Tiffany had some problems and issues growing up that can be attributed to addiction but it’s never just one thing. The sad fact is addiction will destroy your life. It is not something you can beat on your own and help is out there. You can only truly change if YOU want to. This honest glimpse into one addicts life leaves the reader with hope and an open heart. Addiction is more prevalent than some would like to believe and no-one is immune to it’s effects. Tiffany is now sober and helping others, sharing her story with the world. This brave memoir is a must read.

American Princess

The life and times of Alice Roosevelt is as mesmerizing as any political drama one can imagine! Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth was born in 1884. Theodore Roosevelt, her father, was devastated when his wife died just days after Alice was born. Unable to face his grief or look into those bluest of eyes, Theodore left Alice with a relative until he remarried a few years later. Off to a rough start, with future siblings much younger than herself, Alice became the rebel of the family. Pushing every rule, boundary and limitation, Alice raced through their White House years as a headline in every newspaper. Her natural intelligence, curiosity and burning desire to be of importance to her larger than life father, Alice educated herself with much more than dainty lady like manners. She became knowledgable, outspoken and well known in every political circle. Marrying a charming senator and living a fast paced D.C. life at the turn of the century provides endless entertainment for Alice, the American Princess of her time. This read prompted my own curiosity about the Roosevelts and the internet provided extensive detail and fascinating photographs of every character portrayed. Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this well written fabulous novel by Stephanie Marie Thornton.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Bringing Down the Duke

Miss Annabelle Archer, country girl, daughter of a vicar is an orphan. She lives with her miserable cousin Gilbert and helps cares for his five children. As brilliant and fiercely independent as she is - women are not permitted to live alone nor determine their own destiny in 1879 England. Annabelle, completely overeducated by her father finds a place at Oxford alongside one of the very first group of women allowed to study there. She manipulates a scholarship in return for volunteering with the women’s suffrage group, protesting the women’s marital possession act and right to vote. Annabelle manages to infiltrate the highest political influencers by coercing an invitation to the Duke of Montgomery’s ball. A beautiful bluestocking, Annabelle raises quite a few eyebrows. She cares not for a suitor as much as someones ear to affect the parliament. Annabelle is shocked to find herself completely enthralled with the duke himself for she has never imagined a man existed with both dueling wits and breathtaking charm as Sebastian Devereux. This historical romance novel is filled with passion and perseverance, a wonderful read and superb debut by author Evie Dunmore. Lucky for us a sequel is in the works!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Wild Game

When Rennie Brodeur is 14 years old, her mother gently awakens her from a deep summertime sleep. Malabar tells her that their family friend, Ben Souther has kissed her and make no mistake, she kissed him back. Having already accepted her parents divorce, Malabar’s marriage to Charles and summers in Cape Cod, young Rennie is enamored with the idea of being her mother’s confidante. Sworn to secrecy she begins a ten year journey of deception, lies and convenient cover ups for Ben and Malabar’s illicit affair. As a young girl Rennie sees it as romantic, true love - something her mother desperately deserves. They are two halves of a whole, Malabar constantly reminds her. Rennie spends her younger years drowning in guilt but when high school ends her travels shine a different light on this suffocating secret. Rennie looks long and hard in the mirror and faces the burden of the baggage she has been carrying for a decade. This memoir is the story of a mother and daughter’s relationship pushed to every possible limit. It takes years for Rennie to discover the balance she must maintain to survive at all. Could not put down this mesmerizing and beautifully written memoir. An absolute must read!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

An Unorthodox Match

Lola Howard was raised by a single, free spirited mother in San Jose, California. She craved the normalcy often witnessed in other homes; security, safety, and most importantly, spirituality. After finding and losing her first love during college, and after her hard earned career is shattered to pieces, Lola is at the end of her rope. Loneliness and depression has dug a hole she can no longer escape. Struggling to restart her life in NYC, fate and her latest roommate introduce her to the ultraorthodox community of Boro Park, Brooklyn. Changing her name to Leah and finding solace with many charitable families, Leah begins to truly feel God’s presence for the first time in her life. In her early thirties she believes it is not too late to marry and have a family of her own. When match after match deflates all her efforts Leah volunteers to help in the home of a devout scholar named Jacob who has been recently widowed. The unexpected connection she feels with his children fills an empty space in her heart. Based on her past, she is not qualified to be matched with such a man. Leah struggles to navigate this difficult world that welcomes outsiders with open arms, while never truly accepting their history. Leah and Jacob search very deep in their hearts to follow the word of God while conforming to the community’s ideals. Highly recommend this meaningful novel of love and hope. I often have mixed feelings about these stories but honestly, I couldn’t put this one down.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Everyone's A Critic

Laura Spellman is a talented, successful and bitter literary critic. Making and breaking careers of every author she reviews. Never married and friendless, Laura feeds on the prestige of her position and prizes she has accumulated. As publishing world pressures mount, Laura can no longer avoid the Swedes request to take a group of simpleton book lovers on a literary tour through Paris. One traveler named Tess is a bouncy blondes who writes the commercial chick-lit Laura loathes. Tess’s bag of books begin to stalk her, one showing up at every turn. Laura’s world is slowly collapsing as she entertains these nobodies, fights a sudden illness and begins to doubt her reality. This sardonic short story is a perfect mix of the darkest humor and creepy suspense for any true book lover. Jennifer Weiner, thank you, this is an awesome home run!

The Family Upstairs

Libby Jones has just turned 25 years old. She has been waiting her whole life for this moment. The letter has finally arrived that will reveal her true identity, her birth family. But this long awaited letter offers little more than inheritance instructions. It is shockingly more than she has ever imagined. A valuable mansion in the very posh neighborhood of Chelsea. When Libby was just an infant the police discovered her alone in this house. A seemingly cared for crying baby abandoned alongside three dead bodies. A note regarding the baby’s care and the seemingly peaceful bodies lying side by side suggests a suicide pact. The sparse food, little furnishings and handmade uniform clothing gives the impression of cult behavior. The police accept the scenario and close the case, reports written and quickly forgotten. The baby is adopted. The burning question is what happened to the other four children who lived in this house? Libby is convinced the answers are hidden within these walls and the mystery surrounding their disappearance. Lock the doors and leave on the light while you immerse yourself in this unputdownable chilling thriller.

Don't Even Breathe

Maggie Novak is spending Halloween with her sister and niece in their quiet Florida suburb, trick-or-treating and parading their costumes with all their neighbors. As lead homicide detective she is called away to investigate a murder scene near a swampy lake out by the highschool. Reported by two suspicious teenagers, a body burnt to a crisp, has been discovered.  At the crime scene Maggie is flooded by memories of a night she regrets that has haunted her for the last 20 years. Although the body is unidentifiable, a purse nearby reveals the license of a woman Maggie has never heard of, Dana Cullen. Maggie is completely flummoxed when other clues suggest it is Rita, her childhood friend, who along with her entire family perished in a house fire two decades ago. These impossible coincidences lead Maggie down a treacherous path where she reveals double identities, revenge and murder. As evidence begins to converge Maggie must choose whether to distance herself from the emotional trauma of her past or follow these clues that betray these long time buried secrets. A well written, fast paced novel, there is nothing better than a Halloween Night murder to get you in the spooky spirit of things!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

All This Could Be Yours

Victor Tuchman has suffered a massive heart attack and now this gargantuan  man lies on his deathbed. Each family member confronts years of misery caused by this man. A lifetime of abuse towards his son Gary and daughter Alex, physically and mentally, have made them only too glad that the end is near. His wife Barbra, a cold woman who has held her husband’s criminal secrets and suffered his atrocious behavior for the last 50 years does not shed a tear as she paces the hospital floor counting her steps. Throw in two granddaughters (neither in attendance) a grieving daughter-in-law (Gary’s wife) and the unbearable heat that leaves this Jewish northeastern clan displaced in the heart of New Orleans and there you have it … the most dysfunctional miserable family on the planet. Only a diehard reader may understand why I still say the writing was excellent as I suffered through this hopeless story but did not enjoy the ride.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Olive, Again

Bellyacher, crab, crank, sourpuss. Yup, Olive Kitteridge is back. Henry has passed away and Olive continues on in her small, quiet town of Crosby, Maine. A little older, wiser and still muttering about with her “Yuh’s”, “Hells Bells” and all the funny Oliveisms that made us love her the first time around. This novel feels like a loosely connected group of short stories (structured similarly to Anything Is Possible - the sequel to Lucy Barton.) Each scenario is beautifully written and touches Olive’s life in some way but doesn’t necessarily focus on her as the main character. She stumbles upon many former students, old neighbors, still shaky ties with her son Christopher who is experiencing his second difficult marriage and Olive’s own surprising relationship with Jack, the Harvard snob. If you watched the HBO series, actress Frances McDormand is firmly ensconced as Olive and Elizabeth Strout’s words are poetic. But, it is also very sad. An almost too honest insight into the worst case scenarios of old age and the relationships, both good and bad, that we endure throughout our lives. A fairly quick read, I recommend Olive, Again if you liked the first book - but you definitely have to be in the mood.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Giver of Stars

Alice Wright lives a suffocating existence in England. She is repeatedly disappointing her stuffy parents and dreams of a new life. When she meets the very charming Bennett Van Cleve it is her chance to start over in America. Alice and Bennett marry quickly and travel across the ocean where to her shocking dismay, they continue on to a small town in Kentucky. It is in Baileyville that Alice has the opportunity to join the packhorse librarians, a group Eleanor Roosevelt created to make jobs and spread literacy in these remote parts. As her marriage  all but disappears Alice realizes she traded one kind of loneliness for another. Going against her father-in-laws wishes she finds immense happiness with this brave group of women who deliver books throughout the difficult mountain terrain. The first half of this well written novel moves quickly focusing on criminal coal mine owners, women’s rights and racism. The second half, a murder trial when librarian Margery is thrown in jail, drags a little. It is an enjoyable historical fiction novel by Jojo Moyes that has MANY similarities to The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Richardson, which came out months ago. If you read Troublesome it is impossible to ignore these unmistakable coincidences. Putting that aside, I enjoyed them both.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Twice in a Blue Moon

Tate was raised in a remote small town in northern California. Her beloved hardworking Nana Judith takes her on a graduation trip to explore London before college begins. Having never been very far from home, their two-week adventure is precisely scheduled to be filled with non-stop shows, museums and lunch at Harrods. The ladies never expected to meet the charming Luther and his handsome grandson Sam on their very first day. Sam and Tate immediately connect and manage to escape the over protective clutches of Judith to experience their very first young love. Tate feels things she has never experienced before. She shares her most precious secret - she is the missing daughter of the worlds' most famous film star. When this information is leaked to the media her life is turned completely upside down and an entire destiny is changed forever. Fourteen years later on the set of her break out film co-starring her father, Sam and Tate meet again. Realizing their chemistry is as passionate as ever, these star crossed lovers must decide if it is possible to find trust and love again. Slightly different from their long list of bestsellers, Twice in a Blue Moon is another delicious romance from the never disappointing duo Christina Lauren. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Write Escape

Antonia Harper, a beautiful thirty-something editor based in Chicago loses her job and her fiancé on the same day. Overwhelmed by her intrusive mother, meddling sister and a lot of wedding plans to undo, Antonia decides to finally focus on the novel she began but set aside long ago. Winding up on her honeymoon in Ireland alone, Antonia finds herself in a quaint village rental next door to Aiden Byrnes, a charming literature professor chasing his own demons. As their push pull friendship slowly turns into more, Aiden and Antonia both learn lessons that open their hearts to the most unlikely possibilities. Filled with laughter, hope and a hot guy with a great accent - this is an adorable romantic journey (of two book lovers!) to one of my favorite places. 

The Dutch House

Danny Conroy gracefully narrates this magnificent story centered around his childhood home in the beautiful suburbs of Philadelphia. After their mother disappeared, his older sister Maeve and the housekeepers essentially raised Danny while their father ran a successful real estate empire. Lonely but loved, the siblings adapted. After a few years their father married a much younger woman named Andrea. She moves into The Dutch House with her two young daughters and incrementally takes over their lives. Ultimately exiled by this evil selfish woman, Danny and Maeve find themselves torn from the only home and family they have ever known. This house becomes the obsessive center of their lives and every important decision is later made with a mix of regret and resentment based on this profound loss. A deep-seated attachment to the past and unfaltering commitment to each other breeds jealousy from Danny’s wife and solitude for Maeve’s future. Told over a period of fifty years, The Dutch House is more than just a house, it is a tale of love and hope. Every day we live our lives we are making memories, whether you realize it or not. Absolutely loved this latest novel by the talented storyteller Ann Patchett.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Grammarians

Laurel and Daphne Wolfe are identical twins who are as fierce and feisty as their flaming red hair predicted. Obsessed with words and grammar since childhood these inseparable twins spoke their own treasured language and continuously outwitted the adults in their lives. A fine line between constant amazement and “is there something wrong with them?” - their psychiatrist uncle and loving parents couldn’t quite figure them out. Daphne unsurprisingly creates an eminent column devoting herself to the usage and meaning of Standard English while Laurel becomes a kindergarten teacher and poet. Both living in NYC, the sisters begin to grow apart for the very first time in their lives. Marriage, children and opposing views of destiny slowly unravel this tight-knit relationship. A lifelong battle over ownership of their father’s precious Webster’s dictionary seals their fate. While the ending fell a tad short, logophile (my new favorite word!) and storyteller Cathleen Schine never fails to entertain.

Friday, September 27, 2019

The World That We Knew

1941, Berlin. The streets are swarming with Nazi’s. Hanni’s husband, the good doctor has been murdered and her mother is very ill. Even though it breaks her heart Hanni must send her daughter Lea away. Only 12 years old, Hanni wants to keep Lea safe and far away from the nightmare that has invaded their world. She secretly engages Ettie, the Rabbi’s daughter, to use her forbidden knowledge and create a golem to protect Lea during her travels. This mystical creature of Jewish folklore looks human but has no soul, she is as strong as one hundred men. Throughout their escape to France and the three years afterwards, Ava faithfully guards Lea’s life. From the convents that hid Jewish children to the brave French Resistance that led them through the mountains to Switzerland, countless hero’s saved thousands of lives. This magical story filled with dancing birds carrying messages of hope and the angel of death eerily filling his notebook will take you to a fairytale version of a very real atrocity, remembering the many who tragically disappeared and the few who survived. Author Alice Hoffman is the extraordinary talent to bring this story to life.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Fix Her Up

Georgette Castle is a clown. Seriously, she has a professional clown business and makes a decent living. Her family runs a renovation company in town where her brother bosses everyone around and her sister handles the interior design. Always the baby of the family, neither her parents nor her siblings seem to have much faith in her natural talents which make children smile and put parents at ease. Her brother’s best friend Travis comes back to town as his professional baseball career plummets. He needs a break and some privacy. Georgie’s lifelong crush has returned and “the silly younger sister” is finally grown up and has the curves to prove it. She may be the only one who can talk some sense into Travis as he is haunted by a not-so-perfect childhood and the unknown future. Quick adorable read as Georgie makes over her home and herself to get the attention she deserves!

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen

Rose Wallace religiously follows everything and anything Jane Austen. Having spent her entire life in Bath, every choice she makes and plans she devises revolve around the annual festival and fun she will have with her Janeite friends. When her best pen pal Morgan, travels across the pond to attend, Rose could not be happier. After assisting the very handsome Dr. Aiden Trevellyan with his lecture Rose is ready to enjoy her week off work and let the festivities begin. What she can’t help noticing is the woman upstairs named Jenny, who dresses and speaks meticulously in the Regency era. Who would ever believe that she is the real Jane Austen, appearing through time travel devices of a magical necklace? Who would dream that after their meeting Rose could become trapped with her in an alternate world where Jane has never been published and Mr. Darcy does not exist? Rose needs to find a way back to her world and life filled with her beloved novels. Fan fiction, fun fiction, paradies. Call it whatever you like, if you love Jane Austen then you can never get enough! 

This Is Not How It Ends

Charlotte Myers has an unexpected seatmate on her flight back to Kansas City. This pretty, small town school teacher is immediately entranced by Philip’s charm, good looks and irresistibly sexy British accent. More worldly and generous than anyone she has ever known, she is swept off her feet - all the way to Islamorada in the Florida Keys. Philip’s constant business trips leave Charlotte lonely with a little bit too much time to contemplate her future. The ring placed firmly on her finger may not represent the life she was once certain of. As mother nature tempts the couples resilience with a hurricane, a handsome chef tests Charlotte’s desires and it is the calm after the storm that slowly tears her apart. Have the tissues ready, this heartbreakingly beautiful story is sure to be the romance of the year. Releases January 1, 2020.

Find A Way

Diana Nyad was swimming throughout her tumultuous childhood and adolescence. Her unwavering commitment and mantra “Never, ever give up” drove her to become a world champion swimmer in her twenties, and a household name when she set a record swim around Manhattan Island. After retiring, she enjoyed success as a popular sports broadcaster and motivational speaker. Thirty years later, at sixty, Diana Nyad shockingly reentered the competitive swimming world with one goal in mind; an ocean swim from Havana to Key West, 111 tortuous jelly-fish, shark infested miles never done before without aid of a shark cage. Her unending determination to realize The Dream and overcome deeply buried pain from past physical and emotional abuse, took Diana on the ultimate race of her life. Unputdownable memoir of courage, faith and friendship.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

American Royals

What if when America won the Revolutionary War instead of George Washington becoming our first President, he became our first King? Imagine if our entire American history became based on a monarchy? Author Katharine McGee has done just that. 230 years later, Princess Beatrice, the eldest of the Washington children, has been groomed her entire life for the throne and America prepares for their first female monarch. Her father, the King, wants her to marry quickly and she is handed a short list of contenders but no-one knows that Beatrice’s heart is already taken. Her sister, Princess Samantha has a crush she must keep hidden and her twin brother Prince Jefferson is a handsome rule breaker that every girl in the country wants to snag or shag. Throw in a couple of friends and frenemies and this fast paced romantic history lesson is the most fun, clever story I have read in a long time!

And Now There's You

Leila Brandt is a woman in her mid-fifties, living in the Philadelphia suburbs and passionate about her interior design business. With a picture perfect model home and successful daughter living around the corner one would assume Leila couldn’t ask for more. But they would be wrong. For the last five years, since the untimely death of her husband Leila has done everything possible to keep her loneliness at bay and let her predictable routine pass the time away. When she begins a project with local architect Ayden Doyle, the comfort Leila found in the mundane starts to fade. Feelings carefully hidden begin to surface and Leila finds herself opening her heart to the idea of new love. In theory I like the premise of this story filled with hope and second chances - but the painfully tedious, stilted language, immature relationships and excessive details of decor was just too much for me. Easy read but I wanted so much more from this story.

Monday, September 2, 2019


Joshua Fields is a handsome twenty-something, diligently working with his father in a thriving commercial real estate business. He travels frequently, enjoys his on again - off again girlfriend and up until now his life seemed pretty predictable. While waiting for a flight to Tampa, Joshua bumps into a lovely woman in the gift shop. At the airport bar he buys her a drink. They chat, have instant chemistry and she passionately kisses him goodbye. And just as quickly as the beautiful Morgan appears in his life, she is gone. Moments later still thrumming from the kiss, Joshua glances at a television screen and glimpses Morgan’s face on a missing persons alert. He calls the police and dives into a twisted mystery he must slowly unravel to save this damsel in distress. It appears Joshua is the handsome knight determined to rescue the girl - unless of course the damsel turns out to be the danger. Fasten your seat belts because this fast paced, suspenseful novel is now boarding!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Our New Normal

Hazel is a lovely, smart, typical 16 year old girl living in Maine. And then she gets pregnant. It is not in spite of - but because of  - her intelligence and warmth that she insists she will figure out a way to raise this baby, that she and Tyler are in truly in love. The Ridgley family is turned upside down. The natural order of things would have her mom, Liv, take care of the baby while Hazel finishes high school and continues her education to become the doctor she always dreamed of. But Liv just packed her son off to college and is finally going start the renovation business she has spent years planning. She loves her family, cares for her aging parents but she doesn’t want to start over again. This intense pressure put on every family member is a realistic look at each of our roles and how one persons decision affects them all. Can we change without disappointing the ones we love? Are we, as moms, daughters, sisters, wives allowed to choose ourselves? Highly recommend this thoughtful, well written novel. Would be an excellent book club discussion!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Remind Me What Happened

Claire, a globe trotting journalist, wakes up in a hospital in the Florida Keys. She does not know how she arrived. Oddly, Claire remembers specific events as a child, her parents lives and even her grandparents, all long gone. But yesterday, last month, last year - absolutely nothing. Her passport reveals she has recently arrived via India and doctors confirm the swelling surrounding her brain was caused by Japanese Encephalitis. A virus caused by a mosquito bite, there is no cure. As she heals, her memory may slowly return. Her husband Charlie and best friend Rachel help put together the puzzle that is her life. Steering Claire through photographs and stories, buried secrets of love and regret come bubbling to the surface. Are these their memories or hers? Narrated by three different perspectives we go along on an emotional roller coaster of time, curiously examining the value and beauty of our precious past.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Idea of You

Solene Marchand, a sophisticated art gallery owner in Los Angeles takes her daughter and a few friends to see a boy band called “August Moon” in Vegas. Her ex-husband won the tickets at an auction but at the last moment is too busy with his girlfriend and work to take the girls himself. From the moment they land everywhere they turn is a loud, packed venue of hysterical young girls. When they have the opportunity to meet the band behind the scenes, Solene leans off to the side, allowing the fans their moment in the spotlight. She unexpectedly catches the eye of the lead singer Hayes. He is handsome and sexy and - OMG - she could be his mother, why is this young man staring at her! After a ridiculous phone number exchange, a supposedly innocent lunch turns into a roller coaster ride hotter than fifty shades. In addition to being famous around the globe, Hayes is sweet and smart and considerate. He is also only twenty. But chemistry is a funny thing, and as Solene rediscovers passion, excitement and happiness, she realizes how lonely she has been since her divorce. The problem is; what will the rest of the world think? What will her daughter think? This was an unexpected little treat that I stumbled upon and COULD NOT PUT DOWN. Well written, fun and totally sexy read will surprise even the harshest critics. Beach reads don’t get better than this!

Very Nice

Rachel Klein is a fairly plain girl from a wealthy Connecticut family. Her investment banker father recently left her mother Becca for a much younger woman named Mandy. Nineteen year old Rachel goes home for summer break to work in a local camp and brings along her writing professor’s dog whom she promised to look after. Rachel has an obsessive crush on the handsome professor, Zahid, a writer suffering from his enormous ego. The professor bizarrely moves in with the family and begins an affair with Becca. The woman he sublet his apartment to is the father’s assistant. And so on. And so on. Each chapter is more confusing than the last. What started out as a quirky, funny story went downhill fast as the author brought in extraneous characters desperately trying to weave together seven degrees of separation. Sorry folks, I wish I had better news to report but this one was not a winner for me.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Meet Me in Monaco

Sophie Duval is a beautiful and elegant perfumer in the south of France. She has taken over her beloved father’s business after the war. As Sophie struggles with business debt, a drunken spiteful mother and manipulating boyfriend, she serendipitously meets none other than Grace Kelly. Chased by the paparazzi into Sophie’s boutique in Cannes, the two women strike up an unexpectedly sweet friendship. When Miss Kelly sets the date to marry Prince Rainier, Sophie is given the opportunity to design the perfect wedding fragrance and turn her business around. In another twist of fate the handsome English photographer that did the chasing, James Henderson, enters Sophie’s life and strengthens her resolve to fight for her perfume and believe in herself. Filled with pages of the beautiful lavender fields in Grasse, the complicated art of perfumery and the magnificent wedding detail of American actress Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier of Monaco, this novel is a delightful traipse through time. TIP: Story feels a bit contrived and haphazardly ends but it is lovely if you are a francophile and/or Grace Kelly fan.

We Are All Good People Here

Eva and Daniella meet as roommates at Belmont College in the fall of 1962. Daniella grew up in Georgetown and Eva, Atlanta. Both beautiful and smart they quickly realize they see the world through distinctly different glasses. While they are busy pledging sorority on their pampered little campus, other college students are risking their lives to fight injustice and the right to vote. After freshman year the girls transfer to Columbia, in NYC, where Daniella feels they can change the world and break out of this privileged cocoon. It is surprisingly  southern belle Eva that leans towards an extremely radical group and gets mixed up in a web of freedom fighters that turn her life upside down. Across thirty years we watch Eva and Daniella hold on desperately to their thread of friendship; through marriage and parenting, women’s lib, racism and just about anything else the author could manage to throw in the pot. This story starts strong with a college bond that is memorable and relatable and then it is strewn in a thousand different directions. After following the maze and (too) many years of characters, I was exhausted and after admitting I never liked either one of them very much to begin with, just wanted this rollercoaster to end. Sorry folks, it may have the coolest cover ever but this read did not work for me.

Monday, August 12, 2019

All the Flowers in Paris

It is a beautiful spring day when Caroline awakens in a Paris hospital. Lucky to be alive after a horrible bike accident, Caroline is filled with fear when she realizes she neither knows her name, where she lives, or that the year is 2009. Hoping her brain heals quickly, all she can really do is begin to put the pieces of her life back together again. Grateful for the smallest daily pleasures, Caroline sadly learns she had no friends or close family, she lived a reclusive bitter existence. Beginning to enjoy a newfound friendship with the handsome owner of the local bistro, Caroline is not sure she wants to return to her old life and the loneliness that lived there. With the serendipitous discovery of letters hidden in her apartment from another time, she has different puzzle to put together. Caroline learns that while the Nazi’s occupied Paris the lovely widow Celine, her daughter Cosi and her father lived in the very same apartment. They ran an exclusive florist shop until an evil officer became overly enamored with Celine and threatened everything the small family treasured. As Caroline confronts her own past and present, she learns that love, beauty and even people can withstand the test of time. New beginnings are possible if you plant the seeds and give them a chance to bloom. Highly recommend this enjoyable, well written novel from bestselling author Sarah Jio. If you’ve got time for one more summer read, this is it!