Monday, September 28, 2020

A Borrowed Life

 


Mrs. Elizabeth Lightsey has been the pastor’s wife for the majority of her adult life. As a young girl, in a troubled home, she was only too happy to have the attentions of Thomas. When this handsome man of the church asked for her hand in marriage she envisaged a respectable life filled with love surrounded by the entire congregation. Through the years unhappiness has piled so heavily upon her heart that she does not know who the real Liz is anymore. It is only when Thomas unexpectedly dies that Liz realizes she is more relived than sad. Thomas’s verbal abuse had worn her down in every decision, thought and feeling she has had for 26 years, but no more. She immediately tries to repair her relationship with Abigail, the daughter she regrets has been molded in Thomas’s eyes. Liz is determined to do whatever it takes to rediscover her true self through the community theater, new friends and throwing her mattress to the curb. At almost 50 years old it is finally time to follow her heart and not the expectations of others. From the very first chapter I could not put down this incredible story that had me laughing and smiling equally. Wonderful characters and superb writing, this is an absolute must read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Outnumbered


 Max is a young boy growing up in Havana, Cuba. His step father is a cruel man and while his sad mother tolerates his insults, Max cannot. He often escapes by running the streets with his best friends, playing his bongo’s and visiting his beloved grandparents. The one thing where he discovers his luck is picking the charada, the local lottery. Players translate common words into numbers and Max finds meaningful combinations that often make him a winner. This little bit of luck helps Max keep his faith in the future and his dreams alive. Barely getting by in school, one evening his mischief leads to real trouble in a night club and Max’s mother wastes no time packing his bags for  America. Everything is scary in this foreign land. His first plane ride, learning English and fitting in with this small New York Cuban Jewish community. It is there he later meets the love of his life and finally begins to figure out how to be the man he longs to be. This sensitive story of family and friendship tests the true nature of one young man’s desires to make a better life for himself while hanging on to his oldest friends, his passion for music and his heart. I highly recommend this wonderful read filled with lovable characters and fascinating Cuban-American history. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Dinner List

 


Sabrina and Jessica are best friends in college at USC. They attend an art show where Sabrina briefly meets the cutest boy. She never forgets him. Four years later, the girls are living in NYC - the single, struggling while having a blast life. And there he is on the subway, Tobias. It is fate, kismet, call it whatever you’d like. It is the beginning of everything. Presently she is at her birthday dinner with her long lost father, favorite college professor, Tobias, Jessica and of all things unimaginable - Audrey Hepburn. Alternating between the complicated relationship Tobias and Sabrina navigate and her 30th birthday dinner party, The Dinner List completely tore my heart apart. It is about real and true friendship from two sides of the coin. It is filled with forgiveness and acceptance that are not just words but the kind that allows you to live again. I feel like the initial description I read of this book in 2018 was misleading and it never grabbed my attention. When I recently loved this author’s latest novel In Five Years, I knew I had to check the older one out. Never judge a book solely by its book jacket review, listen to the readers!! I am so very glad I did! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Roommate


 Clara Wheaton is a stereotypical pretty Connecticut socialite. She has all the right connections and impressive degrees. The Wheatons are well known for their money and scandalous family dramas and Clara just needs a break from it all. When her handsome childhood crush invites her to restart her life in Los Angeles, Clara does the most unWheaton, unlikely thing and jumps on the very next flight. To her dismay Emmett’s band gets a last minute booking and will be traveling for the entire summer. Clara has to rethink her plan and fast. She has no job, no car and Emmett rented out his room to a porn star named Josh Darling who is every bit as hunky as his stage name infers. Completely out of her league Josh taunts Clara to be brave and change up her life. His unexpected friendship turns into a steamy roommate crush that has Clara’s life in a tizzy, feeling things she never believed possible. This steamy, quick paced romcom is filled with adorable characters and is hotter than hot. Great way to end the summer! It is supposed to be over, right? ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A Knock at Midnight

 


Brittany K. Barnett is an American heroine. With little resources she sets her sights on devastating injustice and case by case - Brittany saves lives, offering hope for many who had none. For those of us who were unaware of her mission or of the widespread atrocities she is up against, this enlightening memoir will make you equally mad and in awe of this dynamic young woman. Brittany grew up in the south. Her family didn’t have much but she had love and support even when times were extremely tough. She worked hard, helped those she could and made her success one that the entire town could be proud of. As a law student at SMU Brittany dove deeply into cases of wrongful incarceration and draconian judicial structures that left thousands serving life sentences with no parole. Brittany took on appeals and made pleas for clemency. She met with prisoners and their families and fought for them as if they were her own. Learning as she went along, this corporate lawyer worked pro bono every moment she could squeeze out of her day to fight for freedom and second chances. Her remarkable story is only a piece of her very personal journey. I loved reading about this beautiful, intelligent and selfless soul. I couldn’t put down this book as I read about her life and learned something I knew very little about. Brittany’s words will be with me always. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Magic Lessons

 


And now we go back to the beginning. Hannah Owens lives a quiet life in the woods of rural England. In the 1600’s it is of the utmost importance that she keep her powers and gifts of healing an absolute secret - her life depends on it. Witchcraft is a crime and it doesn’t take much to hang a woman with no husband and an inexplicable ability in the Unnamed Arts. Hannah finds an abandoned baby in the woods. Maria is special and Hannah raises her with love and all the lessons she will need to survive in this world. Some years later Maria is sent on a ship to the Caribbean and she falls in love. Following this stranger to Salem, Massachusetts she finds herself in the heart of a world that has no tolerance for beauty, love and most certainly not for witchcraft. This magical series began with modern day Practical Magic (also a fabulous movie!), then came The Rules of Magic and now we finally learn how the Owens family began. Highly recommend this bewitching series that will set your imagination on fire! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Last Story of Mina Lee

 


Margot Lee is a young woman on a road trip from Seattle to Los Angeles with her best friend Miguel. They are going to get him set up in his new apartment and Margot will visit her mother Mina whom she hasn’t seen for a year. Having grown up in Los Angeles (Koreatown) Margot never felt like she belonged. Rebelling against the language and embarrassed by the poverty they endured, Margot could not get away fast enough. After high school she began college in Seattle and never looked back. Mina, an undocumented immigrant has led a painfully lonely existence. Orphaned as a young girl then subsequently losing her family in an accident, she escaped to America hoping for a fresh start. Unfortunately, Mina could never shake the ghosts of her tragic past. Alternating between Margot’s discovery of her mother’s death and Mina’s past, this story tells the tragedy of a mother and daughter who deeply loved each other but never managed to open their hearts. This sensitive novel is beautifully written but hopelessly sad. I am on the fence friends, it’s good - but you have to be in the mood for a slow unraveling that is rather depressing. ⭐⭐⭐

Majesty

 


America is about to have its first female monarch, Queen Beatrice. She has been learning and perfecting her every move since birth for this exact moment. Marriage to Teddy Eaton has been artfully arranged and her true and (mostly) secret love will have to accept the reality of her future. Princess Samantha is not going to let Beatrice forget for a minute that Queen or not, she has taken more than her share of the attention both publicly and privately. Prince Jefferson and Nina have broken up and friendship does not appear on the horizon if the wicked Daphne has anything to do with it. And then there is adorable Ethan, waiting in the wings while admitting to the defeat of his own troubled heart. This absolutely adorable, unputdownable sequel to American Royals was exactly what I needed to take me away for the day. Maybe a bit YA - but when you’re reading it’s never too late to imagine life as a princess. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Exiles


In 1840, a young Aboriginal girl named Mathinna is taken from the only family she has ever known to become an eccentric trinket for the governor’s wife on Van Dieman’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. The British who reside there are intrigued by this unique young lady that quickly learns their language and their manners. Evangeline Stokes is a governess for a wealthy family in London. She becomes the conquest of their handsome elder son and their naive decisions have landed her in prison. She is lovely, well educated, pregnant and sentenced to be shipped to Van Dieman’s Land. On the ship Evangeline befriends Hazel, another young convict sentenced to seven years for stealing a spoon. During the long passage the two women form a special bond and help each other in any way possible. The chapters of this novel alternate between Mathinna, Evangeline and Hazel. The history is fascinating and the writing is superb but something about the plot felt scattered. I cannot be more specific without spoilers but it took way too long to capture my attention. It is a solid good but I was hoping for more. ⭐⭐⭐

The Book of Lost Names

 

Eve Abrams is an old woman, a widow living in Florida and mostly retired yet still shelving books at the local library. One day an article appears in a magazine with a photo of a man holding a familiar book. This is not just any book - it once belonged to Eve and she hasn’t seen it since the war more than 65 years ago. As Jews living in Paris in 1942, Eve’s father was arrested and taken away. Terrified, she and her mother fled to a small village with hopes to escape France entirely. As fate would have it, Eve’s unique artistic talents lead her to become a forger of documents and although frightened for their lives, Eve knows she must do everything she can to help these orphaned children on their way to neutral Switzerland. As she produces their necessary documents she simultaneously creates a secret ledger so their names will never be forgotten. After the war Eve doesn’t just leave France, she leaves her history and much of her heart behind. When the book is discovered after all these years Eve must go to Berlin, she knows it is finally time to come full circle and reclaim her past. Highly recommend this fabulous read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐