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
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
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!
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
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.
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
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!
Saturday, August 10, 2019
A semi-professional race car driver named Denny Swift adopts a terrier/lab, the pick of the litter, and names him Enzo. From the beginning Enzo has his favorite television show (Speedchannel) and favorite food (pancakes). He listens carefully, learns quickly and believes he is just one step away from being reincarnated as a human man in his next life. After Denny’s wife Eve gets sick, his world comes crashing down and it is his faithful companion who teaches his master how to stay on track and win the race. Perfectly narrated by Enzo himself - you will be mesmerized by this laugh out loud and deeply meaningful look at life’s beauty and sadness from a wholly different perspective. With Enzo’s voice as Kevin Costner (too perfect!) the story comes alive on August 9th!
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Elwood Curtis, raised by his loving grandmother, spends his days sweeping the floor at the cigar shop and getting straight A’s at school. It is the early 1960’s in Tallahassee, Florida and as Elwood plays the speeches of Martin Luther King over and over again on the turntable, he dreams of college and a brighter future for all. He is raised on good manners, kindness and hope. Sadly, on the first day of a college class that he has proudly gained entrance, Elwood is detained and mistakenly sent to a juvenile detention center called The Nickel Academy. With no means to fight this archaic system filled with prejudice and a sadistic self serving staff, Elwood and his only friend Turner, struggle to survive and plan their escape. These boys are beaten, raped, lied to and stolen from. Most boys barely survive and those who do not are labeled as run-aways. Based on an actual reform school called Dozier, which closed in 2011, University of South Florida archaeology students have discovered remains of many bodies mysteriously buried nearby and evidence of the brutality that made up this “school” for boys. This well written, painful look at America’s past (and present) is another novel by author Colson Whitehead that simply cannot be missed.
Friday, August 2, 2019
In June 1937, American poet Elizabeth Bishop, travels to Europe with friends after graduation from Vassar. Easily falling into an upper echelon group of both expatriates and patrons of the arts, Elizabeth explores her writing and sexuality during a grave time in history. As war looms throughout Europe, Elizabeth questions her own abilities and friendships with this mixed troupe of characters. For three weeks, this life long journal keeper’s diaries are blank. These fictionalized weeks are imagined by author Liza Weiland who poetically tells of Elizabeth’s adventures and many famous relationships. Flashing back to her years at Vassar and her sad, lonely childhood, we are quickly immersed in Elizabeth’s heart and the beginning of her life as a poet. Unfortunately, this novel is scattered with too many unimportant characters and events filling the pages. After intimate, excruciating daily detail, the storyline races to the finish, ultimately skipping years and then decades, and finally losing its focus and my interest.