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.