Tuesday, October 12, 2021

A Year Off

When Alexandra and David started dating it was quickly apparent they had a lot in common. Both in their early 30’s, they were immersed in their careers and filled their lives with travel, friends and family. Dreaming of quitting the rat race and taking a year to travel the world went from a game of bucket list bingo to a an actual plotting map taped to the wall. Negotiating one destination for another, each of them digging deep and often compromising to make this fantasy a reality. With careful planning and heaps of imagination Alexandra and David prepared for their trip to circumnavigate the globe. In this entertaining and engaging account they share how they tackled each objective from practical advice like staying on budget to delays and big decisions when things go awry. The young couple also had to navigate what they did not know about each other as their relationship evolved. Narrated in essays and fascinating photos from each of  their perspectives, the excitement leaps off the pages so the reader can easily armchair travel along. For better or for worse, the couple made it around the world capturing the good, the bad and the beautiful and lovingly share their travels with us in this delightful memoir. My valuable takeaway - vacation and traveling are two different things. It is probably smart to know before you go! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, October 11, 2021

We Are Not Like Them

Since kindergarten Riley and Jenny have been the very best of friends. The kind of friends that finish each others sentences and always protect each other. Growing up in Philadelphia they dreamed of all the things they would do someday and places they would travel. The only family in Jenny’s life, her mom Lou, was more than happy to dump her at the Wilson’s house on a regular basis so she could bartend, date and have “adult time.” Riley’s home was filled with family meals, chores, structure and a lot of love. Neither girl questioned the color of their skin. Their bond was so strong that even as they got older they couldn’t believe the world would treat them so very differently outside of their little happy bubble. After attending Northwestern Riley finds herself back in Center City following her dreams to become head news anchor. Jen is married with baby on the way. When Jen’s husband Kevin is involved in a police shooting leaving a young unarmed boy named Justin dead, all of Philadelphia is in upheaval. Riley must cover the marches and protests for work - both peaceful and often not. She interviews Justin’s devastated mother. As the past and present collide in a standoff Riley and Jen question everything they ever believed about friendship, family, motherhood and race. Trying to navigate their grownup lives in a violent and changing world may be the hardest thing they ever had to do. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Add Cyanide to Taste: A collection of dark takes with culinary twists


People say don’t bite the hand that feeds you have not read this type of culinary noir before and neither had I. Fill your appetite with these murderous tales containing spells, fantasy and even tiny amounts of cyanide found innocently inside of apricot seeds (true)! A business lunch making deadly deals, a mysterious pub only to be found by lost souls, two friends reunite playing a deadly game of spy and journalist and a lethal cake destroys the cursed family bakery. These are just a few little tastes of the fourteen short stories that leave you literally on the edge of your seat. With each and every twisted one better than the last it will be sure to chill and thrill you. A little book I stumbled upon just in time for Halloween filled with the most bizarre mini-mysteries and all the creepiness you could possibly imagine. The author closes with a collection of recipes to make at your own risk, of course. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, October 10, 2021

A Letter To Three Witches

In the quaint upstate town of Zenobia lives three witches. Gwen, Trudy and Milo are close cousins and although their family no longer practices their craft - the cocktail coven are inseparable. Then there is Tannith who was adopted by Gwens family at a young age when her parents tragically passed away. Pretending to be “sisters” with Tannith was never easy for Gwen as the beautiful, manipulative and seemingly perfect Tannith made her life miserable. One day Tannith delivers a note to each of the cousins suggesting that one of their partners has been bewitched and will be departing with her to the city in a weeks time. Since their great great grandfather caused an insurmountable catastrophe nearly 100 years ago their entire family has been banned from witchcraft and the cousins do not know how to stop this madness. Will it be Gwen’s fairly new live in beetle loving boyfriend? Trudy’s boring history professor husband? Or Milo’s handsome, mayoral candidate? As the trio slowly unravel this mystery they are subsequently caught up in spells and potions well out of their comfort zone. Throw in some potentially powerful cupcakes, frogs and bunnies and poof! - these three witches will have you completely enchanted. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Night She Disappeared

In 2017 Tallulah Murray goes to the pub with her boyfriend (and father of her child) Zach and they are never seen again. Barely out of highschool, the young couple was seen leaving the pub and going to a party at an old nearby mansion called Dark Place. The town begins a search party, devastated and frightened that an innocent couple could disappear. In 2019 Sophie finds a strange note attached to a fence post near the woods of the boarding school where she is the girlfriend of the new headmaster. It says DIG HERE. Sophie, a mystery writer, cannot resist following every clue and detail she can get her hands on. Sophie quickly befriends Kim, Tallulah’s heartbroken mother and opens up this cold case that no-one in the small English village can understand. Narrated within two timelines and filled with a cast of excellent characters, this fast paced drama uncovers buried secrets that were never meant to be found. Twists and turns until the very end, this is another unputdownable read from one of my favorite authors Lisa Jewel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Book of Magic

The Owens family witches have been cursed for over 300 years. They are forbidden to fall in love. If one of the family members breaks this rule, their loved ones suffer fatal consequences. When Aunt Jet is nearing the end of her life she sets the wheels in motion to end this curse and release the family from a loveless life. The story begins in the Magnolia house outside of Boston and we are reintroduced to the many (many) characters and their plight to hide love. Ultimately traveling to Europe to reunite with long lost brother Vincent, Jets sister Franny and the younger nieces use their unusual gifts to search for answers and break the spell that has been controlling their lives all these years. This is the fourth and final of the Owens saga. I have read them all and unfortunately this was my least favorite. There was an enormous amount of extraneous background information and too many confusing character timelines to follow. I love the witches but this one dragged on and on with very little happening. If you have read the other three - The Book of Magic brings closure for the Owens but is sadly not very enticing.  ⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Talk Bookish To Me

Kara is a bestselling romance novelist. After a string of huge successes she is completely stuck. Writers block is a nightmare. With her deadline fast approaching and daily reminders from her publisher, Kara is beside herself with worry. The only bright spot lately is helping her very best friend with her extravagant wedding plans. At the couple’s celebratory dinner, the first of many events, Kara bumps into her oldest and truest love. The man who stole and broke her heart in college - Ryan Thompson. Apparently an old friend of the groom, Kara is speechless facing the man she has tried to forget about for the last decade. The two unexpectedly leave the past in the past and as they are brought together by nuptial duties and sneaky friends the chemistry is bursting into flames. And the best part is - Kara is writing again. Writer’s unblock, a gift from the gods. Serious worries aside, she will do whatever it takes to keep this momentum going. Adorably hot, I loved the book in the book writing and truly likable characters. Like Kara, the author had a little trouble wrapping it up as well but all is forgiven. An HEA is an HEA. (Happily Ever After) And this is a cute one! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Perfect Family

The Adler family live in a lovely upscale neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Thomas is a successful realtor and Viv, with her impeccable taste, has just started her own decorating/design firm. One typical summer morning they awake to find their house was egged. Disregarding the event as kids acting out, they begrudgingly clean the mess and move on with their day. Until the smoke bomb is tossed on their lawn. The tires are slashed on Thomas’s car. And their relatively quiet lives are turned completely upside down. Thomas recently attended an out-of-control bachelor party and is now receiving threatening messages. Daughter Tarryn is a mouthy troubled teen exploring a dangerous online community. Star soccer player Eli announces he is dropping out of college and Viv silently punishes herself for her recent indiscretions. As each family member narrates a chapter it is clear someone is out to get them. The Adler’s struggle to keep it together while they question their own culpability, friendships and the importance of maintaining the perfect family facade. Fast paced suspense at its best. Apparently everyone is capable of hiding something. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Royals Next Door

Romance reader and podcaster Piper Evans has some new neighbors in the mansion next door and they just happen to be royalty. The British entourage that shows up literally swinging from the trees sternly introduce themselves and deduce that Piper and her meek mother living on the edge of the property are of no threat to the Prince and his beautiful wife. Harrison Cole heads up security. This tight lipped incredibly gorgeous man behind the shiny aviators slowly eases up in her presence. Piper and Harrison slowly become friends and their chemistry blossoms as summer on this small beautiful island really starts to heat up. Piper has a few months off from her job at the local elementary school and since she expected a few quiet months reading and taking care of her needy mother, she never dreamed  of being swept off her feet by this knight in shining armor. When the media gets a tip of who is behind the newly installed gates Piper’s mundane life becomes more than complicated. Steamy hot romance with a nod towards the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drama - this unputdownable read was my second by author Karina Halle and no doubt five very romantic stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Her Turn

Editing one of the most well known columns in a premier Washington DC paper keeps Liz on her toes. My Turn features essays (selected anonymously by Liz) that reflect the daily lives of their readers. Lately she has been reaching out of her comfort zone choosing pieces that dangerously rock the boat of her somewhat quiet and mostly uneventful life. After relocating to DC post divorce ten years ago, Liz relies on a small group of quirky friends, her college aged son and work to sustain a semblance of normalcy. She keeps busy doing yoga, Italian lessons and book club, sprinkled with an array of unappealing affairs. When her ex’s new wife submits a very personal essay, Liz begins a secret communication threatening all of the bottled up anger she has embraced for a decade. A journalist by trade, Liz is a bit of a know-it-all searching for a way to accept, forgive and find love once again. Delving into the painful memories of her marriage weighed against her mother’s severe dementia brings the truth into focus. For a quiet story this one moves quickly and is beautifully written. This Canadian author should not be missed. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Guide

Jack snags a position as a guide at the Kingfisher Lodge working the beautiful streams of Colorado. Its remote, pristine location makes it a highly sought and elite camp for the very famous and wealthy. For handsome cowboy Jack it is a chance to reinvent himself and heal as he battles PTSD. He is paired with country singing sensation, the very beautiful Alison K. The two have immediate chemistry fishing and otherwise. But Jack, a rancher at heart is overly observant and quietly begins to put the mysterious pieces together. Something evil is going on at this faraway location. With no cell phone service, a barbed wire perimeter and required social distancing, very few appear to know what is really going on. When Jack stumbles upon clues that are impossible to ignore he can no longer be a bystander. Armed and on a mission he infiltrates this ominous asylum and risks everything. Thrilling and suspenseful, set in the near future where the pandemic has not been eradicated and continues to threaten the economy and moral of the entire world, The Guide is a heart stopping adventure that had me on the edge of my seat. FYI, I did not read The River (also starring Jack) but this second masterpiece by author Peter Heller stands alone as well. A spine chilling glimpse of the future. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

One Hot Italian Summer

 

Grace Harper doesn’t know if she can do this on her own. After losing her closest friend and writing partner of many years, her harsh agent Jana has contracted for a completely different sort of novel, a drama. Writing mysteries came easily from Grace’s dim apartment in Edinburgh that eerily faced the cemetery. Suffering from severe writers block and longstanding sadness Grace feels like she is drowning. Jana offers her a month at her villa in Tuscany filled with rolling hills, Italian sunshine and a chance to quietly write. Jumping at the chance, she is on the next flight. Arriving at this magnificent villa leaves Grace speechless. While taking a quick dip in the pool her hopes are quickly dashed with embarrassment when the most handsome Italian man she has ever seen walks onto the patio with his son in tow. After learning Claudio is Jana’s ex - who was supposed to be away - it is decided they can manage to share the space for a month. As Grace and Claudio become closer they explore their art, his home and eventually his bed. Claudio is a charming, sexy and very talented artist. Although Grace finds him utterly irresistible they are concerned for both his son and Jana finding out the truth. Saying this is just a hot read does not give it justice. It is fireworks, explosive volcanic HOT and was an absolute perfect summer getaway set in one of the most magnificent places in the world. Mamma Mia! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An Observant Wife

When Leah entered Yaakov’s world it was only as a babysitter to help out with the children. After becoming a crucial part of all of their lives the handsome Orthodox widower began to fall in love. Yaakov began to imagine what it would be like to have Leah’s calmness and joy in their lives every day. Leah, only recently studying traditional Judaism visualized a future with certainty, love and faith, something she could not resist. After their marriage daily life is more tricky than Leah thought it would be. The community, still very hesitant of this newcomer holds back and although she falls more in love with Jacob and the children every day, she struggles with loneliness and the hostility displayed by neighbors and fellow congregants. When Jacob’s teenage daughter battles her own silent demons, Shaindele finds herself in an abusive situation. Leah yearns to be closer to the young woman who is so obviously in pain and Jacob does everything in his power to protect his family. After being taunted and threatened they finally realize that faith cannot be derived from anyplace except your very own heart. As a sequel to the wonderful novel An Unorthodox Match, author Naomi Ragen does a good job completing the circle of life in this very strict, complicated religious community. For me, the first book was more enjoyable and moved a lot faster but both are good. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Marilla Before Anne

Meet Marilla Cuthbert at 17 years old. A lovely girl with the prettiest blue eyes and dreams of a wonderful life ahead. While her painfully shy brother Mathew works hard on the farm at Green Gable’s, Marilla’s world is spinning out of control. She is head over heels in love with William Baker, an apprentice shipbuilder visiting Prince Edward Island for a short while. The two have been secretly meeting, waiting for Marilla to turn 18 so they can marry and be together always. Marilla’s bitter mother Nora has other plans. She will not chance her only daughter’s future on an orphan apprentice when the well-to-do local merchant John Blythe is waiting for her hand and offering a life Nora deeply envies. Chaos is already brewing when Marilla’s strongest ally, her beloved father, unexpectedly and tragically passes away. Nora’s sabotaging schemes escalate, forcing Marilla to flee to her Aunt’s home in Halifax and make heartbreaking choices no young woman should face. For the next 35 years Marilla stumbles through one stroke of misfortune after another suffering cruel small town gossip, agonizing loss and despair. In true Avonlea storytelling fashion, faith finds its’ way back into their hearts. An ingenious look at the earlier days of Green Gables, this touching story takes devotees of Anne Shirley on an amazing and unexpected adventure. Adaptations, fan fiction, I am not sure what to call this type of reimagined story utilizing beloved characters from over 100 years ago, but I loved every minute of it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, August 13, 2021

Anne of Manhattan

Anne is bounced around through foster care for much of her childhood. Many difficult memories she works hard to forget. After finally landing with Marilla and Matthew at their vineyard on Long Island (“The Hamptons”) she has finally found a place to call home. Initially having requested a boy to help in the vineyard, Anne works her freckly magic until they can not resist her adorableness. Years later she is in graduate school in NYC. Fully grown and quite the raven haired beauty, Anne unexpectedly bumps into her old nemesis, Gilbert Blythe. More handsome than ever, this once archenemy from schoolyard tauntings has turned out to be an extremely handsome hunk. Gil recently returned from California to be closer to family and is now completing his degree at the same school as Anne. The two are placed together for their final senior year thesis and the sparks immediately begin to fly. Anne cannot deny their chemistry, which always existed despite their longstanding disagreements. She insists he must win her trust and proceed with caution very slowly if a serious relationship is even possible. Gil, on the other hand wastes no time, as he has loved Anne since childhood and will do whatever it takes to win her over. This very modern adaptation of the beloved Anne of Green Gables is a timely, clever, laugh-out-loud romance not to be missed. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Vixen

Simon Putnam begins working at a respected publishing house in NYC. Feeling lost after his Harvard graduation, Uncle Maddie - a successful and feared critic - sets him up to work as a junior editor. His good looks and an upper crust education slowly making up for his lack of money and working class jewish background. While just a year ago his family sat shocked, outraged and saddened by the speedy execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Simon now sits with a ridiculous manuscript in his lap revealing a fictionalized steamy account of Ethel as a provocative sexy communist spy. With the McCarthy hearings underway and enemy lists popping up in the most unexpected places, Simon fears speaking up could lose him his job and future. As his situation declines, Simon sets out to meet the author of The Vixen. Anya Partridge appears as a beautiful, alluring and wealthy young woman living in an exclusive mental asylum an hour away. A scandalous, albeit ridiculous affair begins between the two. Turns out this master manipulator/actress reveals the truth behind The Vixen and now Simon finds himself determined to change the destiny of his position. Engrossed in the writing and with a fondness for Simon, my head spun as this bizarre story unfolded. Strange would be putting it mildly. It touched on many interesting subjects but the plot was literally unimaginable.  ⭐️⭐️⭐️

He Gets That From Me

Life is busy for Maggie Fisher as she rushes to her job at Bed Bath & Beyond, leaving her toddler with Nick after his shift at the restaurant. This young couple  may struggle with time and money constraints but little Wyatt is the sparkling center of their lives. After Maggie dropped out of school and virtually out of site, she couch floated directionless for quite a few years. Falling in love with Nick and the life they have created in Arizona is finally putting her back on track. But Maggie will not be content with the check out line forever. She dreams of a college degree in education so she can earn a decent salary and a promising career. Refusing to beg her estranged parents for help she finds the cash earning opportunity to change her life. Tucked in the back of a home magazine is an ad to be a gestational surrogate. After much research and battling with Nick, Maggie is chosen by a NYC couple named Chip and Donovan who against the odds, dream of having a family of their own. A decade later the phone rings and the impossible becomes reality. Maggie is faced with decisions no mother should have to make. As her past comes barreling forward she wonders if her marriage can survive. Highly recommend this captivating story of family, trust and advanced technology all rolled into one. Didn’t love love the main characters but there is no doubt this one would be a fascinating book club discussion. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Girls With Bright Futures

Tech influencer CEO Alicia Stone has the entire school staff wrapped around her little check writing finger. As her daughter Brooke begrudgingly finalizes her Stanford Early Admission application, Alicia will do everything in her power to guarantee her admittance. Alicia’s long time assistant Maren also has a graduating senior named Winnie. Although only at EBA through the good graces and deep pockets of her mother’s boss - Winnie happens to be ranked top in the class.  At the same time, PTA commander-in-chief Kelly will tell anyone that will listen how her offspring Krissie is meant to attain the one coveted spot. Welcome to the elite private high school called Elliott Bay Academy, located in Seattle Washington. These women along with an array of bizarre characters take helicopter parenting to a new level. Cheating, score inflation, backstabbing and bribery are only a few of the tactics these crazy town moms are willing to stoop to. With deadlines fast approaching a black cloud darkens the entire community. The day one student is dangerously run off the road is the beginning of the end. What lengths will these mothers go to protect their daughters futures, their fragile reputations and get the recognition they (I mean their children) deserve. Twisty, dark humor and ringing just a little bit too true with the recent college scandals, this one will have you on the edge of your seat. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Count the Ways

After losing her parents at a young age, Eleanor dreams of creating a family of her own. As her children’s book is a huge success, she drops out of school and buys a farm in New Hampshire. Lonely and wandering through a farmers market Eleanor meets Cam and knows she will never be on her own again. The young couple quickly have three children and immerse themselves in the joyful experience of raising them. Endless holidays, crafts, baking and birthday celebrations - all the idyllic scenes Eleanor yearned for in her younger days. Through the years she begins to feel the financial burden as her books wither and there is little time to create new ones. Cam goes with the flow of an artist, never worrying about money and thriving on farm life alone. But it is not enough and as Eleanor’s obvious unhappiness escalates she discovers that Cam is having an affair. As their family is torn apart, the divorce replaces every good memory with struggle and hardship. Eleanor tries to protect the children and by doing so she destroys their faith in her mothering and choose the farm. Through drawn out decades of strife and forgiveness they slowly grasp the true meaning of family. Filled with heartwarming characters and layers upon layers of emotions, this book is beautiful but about 100 pages too long. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Embassy Wife

As an outsider, life in Namibia is not a straightforward existence. Intense heat, unimaginable traffic, unique customs and traditions make life for these American diplomats and their families appear like a well organized mess. When Amanda gives up her high level position at a Silicon Valley giant to move with her daughter and husband Mark her life is turned upside down in this remote part of Africa. Mark has a Fulbright project to research with hopes of completing his PhD. Amanda is immediately thrown into life as a “trailer” - nickname for the spouses who follow the embassy staff around the globe. She quickly meets the other women who rank themselves in order of importance and prestige based on their husbands positions. Persephone Wilder appears to be the leader of the pack and tries to guide Amanda in the ways of their small somewhat isolated community. Mark, who spent time volunteering in this part of the world many years ago is off on another journey, secretly tracking someone or something. As Amanda’s deals with her daughter struggles at the international school, she befriends the mysterious and beautiful Mila and is determined to save her slowly disintegrating marriage. If this sounds chaotic - that’s because it is. If you can keep up with this fast paced bizarre array of characters you will be smiling the whole way through. Unique and well written, this is an enjoyable summer read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Guilt Trip

Rachel and Jack have a good solid marriage. Their son is off at University and unlike most of their middle aged friends they maintain an active sex life. Jack's brother Will is about to marry Ali, a young woman who previously worked for Jack and is as beautiful as she is burdensome. Perhaps a bit regretful he ever introduced the two, Jack finds himself as best man at their destination wedding in Portugal. Another couple in attendance that may diminish some of the stress is Rachel’s best friends Paige and Noah. Paige is a fast talking dependable lawyer type and Noah, one of Rachel’s oldest and sweetest friends from her college days. The gorgeous cliffside villa is breathtaking upon arrival but as the weekend wears on Ali makes it perfectly clear that something untoward is going on. She insinuates the worst case scenarios and Rachel and Paige immediately worry that Will is getting himself involved with a deceptive manipulator who cannot be trusted. As Jack gets more and more tense they assume he is protecting his younger brother. Little do they know who the real culprits may be. Three couples all searching for the truth collide with this suspenseful and somewhat twisted narrative. Awesome setting and easy, albeit predictable summer thriller.  πŸ“•πŸ“•πŸ“•

Layla

The night the girl who was a terrible dancer stole Leeds heart is the night his life changed forever. While attending her sister’s wedding Layla cannot take her eyes off the most sexy band member she has ever seen. The after party finds them in the pool, drunk and high on their instant chemistry. Their attraction is palpable. From that moment on, they are inseparable. Layla goes back to Nashville with Leeds as they figure out his musical future setting words to his amazing solo work. A simple knock at the door and horrific attack leaves the couple with months of healing both emotionally and physically. Layla, who was more severely injured has a difficult time finding her way back into the arms of the only man she has ever truly loved. The two find themselves back at the B&B where the wedding was held. Maybe returning to where they fell in love will help Layla heal and return her to the fun easy going girl she once was. But the house, now vacant and up for sale just doesn’t feel the same. Layla is not getting better, she is quickly deteriorating. Leeds cannot understand what it is going on. It is as if she is two different people at the same time. He is determined to find a way to help her, no matter the consequences. This thrilling, twisted, unexpected paranormal romance had me on the edge of my seat. It is absolutely unputdownable. A MUST read! πŸ“•πŸ“•πŸ“•πŸ“•πŸ“•

Sunday, July 25, 2021

It Happened One Summer

Spending the night in jail was the straw that broke the camels back. Piper Bellinger’s fancy stepfather could take no more. He knew this Hollywood wild child needed to learn a lesson after her champagne infused wrecking of a trendy hotel roof top party. Piper and her younger sister Hannah are sent to a small fishing town in the Pacific Northwest, Washington. It is where the girls were born and spent their earliest years of which they have little or no memory of their father who died at sea. When their mother remarried they were raised in the lap of luxury in Los Angeles. While Hannah was studious, Piper became the “It” party girl of instagram, gaining a massive following but few real friends. Now, sent to run and live above the ramshackle bar their father owned, the girls are not sure they will survive their three month banishment. That is until Captain Brendan walks through the door. This tall, hunky, bearded man is as crabby as he is handsome. No time for games, Brendan is a hard working no nonsense guy who lives by his own strict rules. The instant he lays eyes on Piper - it is game over. Their immediate chemistry is undeniable and no matter how many excuses they make, the fates have other plans. Steamy summer romance, sisterly love and plenty of hot fisherman, this romcom will have you hooked at hello. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Paper Palace

Elle has spent every summer she can remember at the paper palace, her family’s ramshackle cabins deep in the backwoods of Cape Cod. Now facing midlife, all the choices she has made are colliding at once. Only Jonas knows. Only Jonas has kept the truth hidden from the other members of their families for all these years. Jonas fell in love with Elle when he was an eight year old freckled face little boy. He has never stopped and he never will. As the author flashes back to  their chaotic lives in the seventies, unrelenting parents, replete with adultery and abuse hide behind their bourgeois lifestyle. The author beautifully describes their idyllic surroundings and messy childhoods filled with family drama and decades of deceit. Everyone plays along but early bonds are unbreakable and although Elle is happily married to handsome Peter with three beautiful children, she is haunted by her past. She desperately misses her sister Anna and the life they shared, can never forgive her father and achingly yearns for Jonas. This detailed character driven writing and spectacular family dynamics bring this story to life. It is hard to imagine this is author Miranda Cowley Heller’s first novel.  Wow. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Blush

The Hollander Estates Winery is in trouble. After decades of offering tours and tastings through their gorgeous vineyards on Long Island the business can no longer sustain itself. Leah returns for a summer visit to find her parents and brother have given up all hope of trying to save their family legacy. While still angry she was discouraged from making her own career in the winery, Leah can never forget her childhood growing up on this magnificent land, grapes seemingly running through her veins. Her daughter Sadie suffers writers block as her college thesis is long overdue, and her husband seems to be going through the ups and downs of his own midlife crisis. When Sadie discovers her Grandmother Vivian’s hidden journal she also finds a trove of old trashy novels from decades past by Judith Kranz and Jackie Collins filled with sex, power and lady bosses. Three generations of women struggling to love and live while still being true to themselves. Vivian desperately holds on to her past secrets, Leah can no longer sit back and watch the winery fail and Sadie who doubted her own passion existed falls for the hot vineyard manager. As the grapes ripen throughout the summer so do their ideas. The men need to step back and let the women work their magic. Sweet easy summer novel. Loved the details of vineyard life and winemaking process. Grab a glass of rose and start reading, it must be 5 o’clock somewhere. ⭐⭐⭐

The Personal Librarian

Belle da Costa Greene is working as a librarian at Princeton University. A lovely young woman, she spends her days surrounded by books and rare manuscripts, history and art - passions since she was ten years old. In 1905, a student with whom she had become quite friendly refers Belle for a job as directress of his uncle’s private library. Working closely with the most powerful financier on Wall Street, J.P. Morgan himself, changes Belle’s future and that of her entire family forever. Beautiful, intelligent and trusted, she literally becomes the belle of the ball, securing world wide treasure’s helping create one of the preeminent collections in the world. Rubbing shoulders with famous art dealers and gallerists unsuspecting of Belle’s flirty manipulations, she becomes one of the most successful businesswomen of her time. But there is one thing Belle is hiding. Behind the silk curtains she is part of an African American family that has passed as white. As Belle’s father spent his life advocating for equal rights, her mother secretly and slowly changed the family’s name and history to reflect Portuguese descent and smudged their lineage just enough to quiet any rumors. As the sole support of the family, Belle became expert at hiding her own identity, for she knew deep in her heart that Mr. Morgan would not be able to overlook his racial prejudice. It became Belle’s lifelong mission to bury her secret while securing the future for The Morgan Library. Historical fiction at its very best, this magnificent novel brings the past roaring back to life. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Anchored Hearts

Alejandro Miranda left Key West with a dream of becoming a famous photographer. And he did. He has traveled all over the world winning awards and magazine covers. After an accident Alejandro has returned to his big Cuban family in the small island town where he grew up. Mother coddles his every need but his papi has never forgiven him for leaving the family restaurant business which is struggling. Anamaria Navarro was Alejandro’s highschool girlfriend and her heart was broken in the aftermath of his departure. For all of his success Alejandro feels deep regret to have hurt the people he loves most in the world. As a firefighter and fitness instructor Ana agrees to help stretch and strengthen his injured leg and their chemistry is undeniable. As their busybody mothers cannot resist pushing them together every chance they get this romance takes some unexpected turns. #2 is her Keys to Love series, once again Patricia Oliveras delivers some hot romance in the Keys! ⭐⭐⭐

The Paris Library

Beautiful and smart Odile Souchet is excited to begin her very first job as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. It is 1939 and as the world around her is crumbling, the beautiful sanctuary of books keeps her spirit and faith in mankind alive. Her father thinks she should be home and married, her twin brother Remy goes off to war and Odile begins a romance with a handsome French policeman. As Paris falls to the Nazi’s this group of dedicated librarians fight back the only way they know how - with books. They deliver books to those no longer able to enter the library. A deal is made with the inspector to protect the books as libraries throughout Europe are looted and destroyed. Books are delivered to soldiers in hospitals and even shipped to the front lines. It is often the only bright light as food becomes scarce and dangerous checkpoints restrain every move they make. In 1983 Odile is a widow living in a small town in Montana. For many years her reserved French manner has kept neighbors at a distance. Across the way young Lily is desperately trying to survive an awkward stage of adolescence and seeks an unexpected friendship with Odile. She wants to learn French and ultimately discovers the truth of Odile’s difficult past. Based on actual events and alternating chapters between the past and present, The Paris Library is a passionate portrait of family, friendship and the unmistakable connection that books bring into our lives. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Layover

Ava is about to board her last trip of a decade long flight attendant career. Although traveling the world has been an exciting dream job, Ava has long craved some kind of stability in her life and Alexander is offering it on a silver platter. Ava’s handsome uptight lawyer fiancΓ© wants to give her his world, albeit on his terms, she must stop flying. A gorgeous condo, brand new car and fancy dinner with his parents has become all Ava can see on her life’s horizon. The crew on this last overnight trip to Belize include the quirky sexpot Gen and unimaginably handsome Jack. An unexpected layover lengthens their overnight in this tropical paradise. Starting off as obnoxious banter Ava and Jack cannot deny the instant chemistry that draws them together. As conversations with Alexander leave their relationship dangling through the weekend, Jack’s innocent touch sends her heart spinning out of control.  Ava must decide if the safe choice is always the right choice. Romance and humor on these sandy beaches will have you laughing out loud while reaching for that frosty Pina Colada you’ve been craving. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Plot

Jacob Finch Bonner had a best selling book. A long time ago. His second didn’t go so well and his third - virtually unknown. Jake finds himself teaching and writing on the side. If he is truthful with himself, he hasn’t actually written in years. Starting another semester at a bottom of the barrel MFA program Jake is surrounded by all types. The students who have zero talent but a lot of enthusiasm, the students who can write but have no structure and then the ones like Evan Parker, a man/child that is so arrogant, so full of himself and his guaranteed stardom, Jake silently has to laugh. Never going to happen, kid. A few years later, literally just getting by, Jake finds out that Evan has died. An unexplained overdose. As far as Jake knows, his bestseller never got written or published. But Jake remembers the plot Evan detailed and it was truly one of a kind. Now that this can of words has opened Jake sits down at his laptop and the best story of his life pours out of him. Within months it is Jake that is the star. Back on top again, he cannot believe his good fortune. With the truth always looming in the background of his joy, Jake is never quite 100% happy. As if he wished it into happening, Jake receives the dreaded email. A simple one liner. You are a thief. And that is the end of his new beginning and the beginning of his end. This twisted thriller had me on the edge of my seat for the entire reading. A book within a book, it is the perfect figure out summer read! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

You Never Forget Your First

Carved in the history books as The Father of His Country, General George Washington played a critical role during the Revolutionary War, Constitutional Convention and for two terms as the first President of the United States. Most people don’t know that he was raised by a struggling single mother, his teeth weren’t wooden, and he lost more battles than he won. While sharing an array of shocking and remarkable facts about George Washington this author inserts humor and wit to help us visualize George, the man. A tall and handsome fellow, faithful to his mother Mary, started off as a surveyor and received his military training during the French and Indian War. He miraculously survived smallpox, malaria (6 times!), diphtheria, tuberculosis, dysentery and pneumonia living a full life until 67. A leader, survivor and our President, this brazen biography is not your every day cup of tea but an alternative view of his life. Controversial it may be but as George himself - never really said - “I cannot tell a lie …” and I liked it!⭐⭐⭐

America's Daughter

Addie Valencourt and her twin brother have never left each other’s side for their entire lives. Thick as thieves, they get into all sorts of mischief together. In 1773 as war is brewing in Boston they sneak out to witness the Boston Tea Party and quickly realize things will never be the same again. Adrian cannot resist joining the Rebels to fight the British while the women painfully step aside feeling helpless. Addie’s English born, Loyalist father has raised and educated his smart independent children to think for themselves. Although he loves them dearly, he could never separate himself from the Crown. When her brothers and (secret) childhood crush Silas meet up to aide General Washington, there is no turning back for these determined brave men. From the wide acre plantations of Virginia to the crowded streets of New York and Boston, America’s dramatic fight for independence is filled with epic battles and Revolutionary romance that light up the summer sky! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Lizzie & Dante

Lizzie Delford arrives on the quaint island of Elba with her novelist ex-fiance´ and his famous boyfriend (a little confusing at first). She is a Shakespearian professor and sadly her days are numbered. Lizzie is sick and hope has all but drained from her life. Lizzie was invited on this exotic adventure to assist with details on a new Romeo and Juliet production and could not resist the chance to escape the sticky streets of NY for the green hills and sunshine. Filled with celebrities and wealthy yachters, Lizzie searches for privacy to read and nap at her leisure. On the beach she is quickly befriended by an adorable dog Lily, who wants nothing more than a cuddle. Initially annoyed when the owner disrupts her solitude, this handsome Italian chef cannot be resisted. Quickly offering her and her friends a meal at his restaurant, Lizzie falls in love with his easy going manner, feisty daughter and zest for life that has her stomach doing backflips. Something she hasn’t felt since beginning the drugs, chemo and surgery. Wanting to treasure every moment of this delicious romance, Lizzie keeps her secrets hidden. But as Dante has most unexpectedly stolen her heart she cannot find the words that will most certainly break his own. Loved the Italian setting, quirky characters and easy writing. Most likely meant to give the reader grateful perspective - it was still quite difficult to get lost in finding love during terminal illness. Your call.  ⭐⭐⭐

Love For beginners

The morning Emma Harris crossed a busy street with a semi hidden stop sign was the last day of life as she knew it, commonly known as BC - Before Coma. Eventually waking and surviving a multitude of complicated painful surgeries, Emma reenters the real world. Still a little shaky she was a miracle walking on her own when the experts doubted she ever would stroll these streets again. Her evil, albeit sexy, physical therapist had a lot to do with that. Simon pushed and pushed and pushed some more. Combined with Emma’s determination she exceeded everyones expectations. But a year is a long time and while she has lost her job, best friend and fiancΓ© (to the ex best friend) starting over as Emma 2.0 is a pretty scary endeavor. Once again, Simon to the rescue, finding Emma the perfect apartment and always supporting her decisions, no questions asked - that is until the day feelings surface that Emma hasn’t faced in a long time. When the two continue their standard therapy routine the sudden electricity between them is undeniable, the fire in her belly is real and the crush on Simon she has suppressed will no longer be still. My first Jill Shalvis, but not my last - this adorable summer romance (very much reminding me of How to Walk Away) was an easy, breezy day at the beach. ⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Special Place For Women

Jillian Beckley is a journalist out of work. After spending every waking moment of the last few years taking care of her mother and writing for a NY newspaper, she needs the next big story to get back in the game. Jillian attends her best friend’s restaurant opening. Raf has recently become the “it” chef of the city and the room is filled with the less than 1%. When she is introduced to a gorgeous girl boss - her plans spiral into place. Supposedly, there is all female club rumored to be exclusive and powerful with a scandalous mayoral election in their wake. Journalist Jillian cannot resist and decides to infiltrate this club and write a piece that will set her career on fire. Encouraged by her ex-editor and with Raf’s much needed fake boyfriend support Jillian is off on her mission. Surprised at first by the astrology these women swear by, Jillian is further shocked when she learns the inner circle is filled with magic potions and outrageous spells. The deeper she dives, the more confusing her already messy world becomes. It is hard to tell if her feelings for Raf and danger lurking at her door are real or imagined. Romance, witchery and a little bit of figure it out - I could not put down this surprisingly entertaining novel. Highly recommend this wholly original breath of fresh air. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, June 12, 2021

I Take You

Lily Wilder is a gorgeous bad ass lawyer at a top firm in New York City. People outside of her close knit family do not fully grasp what makes Lily tick. She is an impulsive flirt and unconventional opponent. Women point fingers, men would like to put her in her place but Lily pretty much does whatever Lily wants. When she meets Will, a handsome, sexy archeologist who works in the museum, it is lust at first sight. Never fully focused on marriage before, Lily cannot resist when her romantic heartthrob pops the big question. Off to Key West they fly, Lily’s hometown that she hasn’t visited for the last 14 years - a mystery in itself that slowly unravels. With one week until their nuptials, Lily and Will must arrange last minute details with their peculiar wedding planner and greet their guests for the big day. Her mother, feisty grandmother and two stepmothers have got their knickers in a twist begging Lily to call off this complicated tryst before the truth is revealed. Off the wall humor traipsing through the sandy beaches of Key West. I breezed through fast paced rom-com laughing all the way. Boozy scandalous scenarios had the majority of reviewers condemning Lily’s amoral attitude to fidelity. I say just kick back with a margarita and enjoy it for the outrageous fiction that it is. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island

There is a very small island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay called Frick Island. Very few people have heard of it, even less visit. But for those that live on Frick Island, it is their own private world, and they have no desire to change a thing. Anders Caldwell is a recent college grad and one of the few that knows exactly what he wants from life. He has dreamed of journalism, being a writer/reporter and maybe with a little bit of Clark Kent magic he could change the world. As a rookie at a small paper, Anders is sent to cover local news that often feels mundane but he never imagined that when he is sent to Frick Island to cover the annual Cake Walk his entire life is about to change forever. It is there he meets Piper Parrish. If you believe in love at first sight, then this is most definitely the case. The problem is Piper is married. The scary part is her husband doesn’t actually exist and Anders cannot understand why the entire island is playing along. As he is drawn to the island and its quirky cast of characters Anders feels a story taking root. It may be that the island is slowly disappearing due to climate change, but more pressing is the feeling that something sinister is going on. Resolved to bring life to his withering podcast What the Frick? - this ace reporter is intent on discovering the truth no matter what it takes. Delightful, enjoyable easy read filled with a great cast of characters. This one is perfect for a day at the beach!  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Malibu Rising

In the 1950’s Malibu was nothing but a sleepy beach town. June worked in her parents small fish restaurant. She dreamed of a bigger better life, one where she was not wiping down tables and serving up fried clams and French fries. The day Mick Riva entered her life that was all about to change. A few years older and dangerously handsome, Mick swept June off her feet with dreams of life as the wife of the famous singer he was destined to become. June ate it up and was married and pregnant quicker than she thought possible. Mick’s dreams did come true - the ones of fame and fortune - but their marriage was an awful rollercoaster leaving June struggling with four children and a drinking problem. Flash forward, it is 1983 and Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit are beautiful, world renowned and throwing the biggest party of the summer. Nina, the eldest hosts this annual bash fascinating the entire town and Hollywood scene. Anyone who is anyone wants a coveted invite. As the chapters flash between the present day of the party and a past these siblings often try to forget, the infamous aura of their father Mick shadows their every move. Great writing, cool characters and depth of treasured sibling bonds, this book had me glued to my chair for the first 50%. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. Probably an editing issue, it got messy, brought in too many unnecessary characters late in the game and I was patiently waiting to get off this ride. So unexpectedly mediocre after the incredible Daisy Jones. ⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, May 29, 2021

That Summer

Daisy Shoemaker met Hal during her last year of college. Swept away by his maturity, generosity, good looks and her very first orgasm made his proposal a no brainer. Initially planning to redecorate their home and delight him with exceptional cooking skills, Daisy never did finish Rutgers and was pregnant soon after. Living in an upscale neighborhood outside Philadelphia was exciting but Daisy had trouble fitting in and making new friends. The more independent her daughter Beatrice became, the lonelier Daisy felt. Success with her small cooking business could not compete with Hal’s long hours and his patronizing pat on the head. Daisy begins an unexpected friendship with an email incorrectly sent to her address. A woman with the name Diana - her name before Hal dubbed her Daisy years ago. As their correspondence increased she learned that Diana Starling was everything she dreamed of; a successful business consultant wearing stylish clothes and traveling the world. The closer they get, Daisy realizes their meeting was planned and calculated. Desperate to learn the truth about Diana and her connection to the past will drastically change the future for them all. You must struggle through the beginning when the two Diana’s are initially introduced which is a bit confusing. The teeny tiny connection to her  last book also set in Cape Cod is minute so don’t spend time going down that rabbit hole. Overall, a good story leaning towards some serious issues but there is very little mystery so the reader is just in waiting mode. Enjoyable enough but not the blockbuster I was hoping to read. ⭐⭐⭐

Friday, May 28, 2021

Under the Southern Sky

Parker and Amelia grew up in a small, idyllic town called Cape Carolina. Their mothers have been best friends since childhood and Parker was known as the cute, younger boy next door. Now, both in their thirties, fate has surprisingly reconnected these two old friends, for better or for worse. Amelia, a sharp journalist has uncovered a story regarding abandoned embryos. As her research dives deeper she locates Parker’s name and that of his late wife Greer on the list. As hard as it may be Amelia knows she must confront Parker with this painful information before the embryos are destroyed. Amelia, recently divorced is nursing her own tender heart and becomes immersed in her old friends journey to keep a part of Greer alive. Returning to their stomping grounds, their meddling mothers are quite sure this is the romance they had always hoped would tie their families officially together. Naturally, nothing goes according to plan and even as their feelings grow Parker and Amelia struggle to find their sea legs. Set amid the Carolina beaches and ritz of Palm Beach, I simply adored this sweet story filled with friendship, romance and the promise of new beginnings. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Soulmate Equation

Jess Davis and her daughter Juno have a tidy little routine. They live next door to Jess’s beloved grandparents and Jess has a fairly successful business as a statistician while Juno is in school. Seven years as a busy single parent without a moment to spare, sometimes Jess still feels a little off, like something is missing. When her and her best friend Fizzy accidentally meet the hot guy in the coffee shop they’d been ogling for months, they are quickly signed up with his company called GeneticAlly, a high tech dating service matching couples compatibility using their DNA. What begins as a whim becomes a whole lot more complicated when Jess matches with owner (hot guy) Dr. River Pena attaining the highest matching score the company has ever seen, 98%. A scientist herself, Jess is uncertain whether any of this makes sense and is quickly put off by handsome River’s calculating personality that doesn’t easily exude warmth. Careful with her heart and fiercely protective of her daughter, Jess capitulates as the company extends an offer she can’t refuse. Throwing caution to the wind, Jess finally opens her heart hoping her supposed soulmate will do the same. Delicious, romantic, adorable rom-com. Another hit from my favorite dynamic writing duo and absolutely perfect for a hot summer day. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mary Jane

Mary Jane is a 14 year old girl growing up in a well heeled neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. As the summer of 1970 approaches this smart, curious girl  - who lives under the strictest constraints of her mother’s etiquette book - gets a job offer to nanny for a local family. Her mother, suspicious of everyone,  succumbs to the idea as she’s impressed that the father is a doctor. Mary Jane cannot wait to escape the confines of her daily routine and boring lunches at the country club. Immediately smitten with her charge, she finds that 5 year old Izzy Cone is fun, smart and a joy to be around. The Cone household is another story. A complete mess with rotting food in the refrigerator, Dr. Cone turns out to be an eccentric psychiatrist and administers to his patients in the garage/office while Mrs. Cone does anything but play housewife. The cherry on top: Dr. Cone is taking care of a famous musician for the summer and invited both him and his world renowned movie star wife to stay as well. Mary Jane is blown away by this family that talks openly about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. As a young woman in training she is expertly cooking, cleaning, and caring for the entire family within a week. Mesmerized by these beautiful people and their bohemian lifestyle, Mary Jane slowly comes out of her protective shell to discover a whole new world is within reach. Filled with music, humor and self discovery, get ready to sink your feet into the sand with this delightful book and read until the sun goes down! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Friday, April 30, 2021

Ladies of the House

Daisy Richardson is a 34 year old making her way through the complicated  maze that is Washington politics. Pretty much her work as chief of staff for a senator named Miles is Daisy’s entire existence. But this lovely and witty young woman was born to play this role. As the eldest daughter of Senator Gregory Richardson, Daisy and her sister Wallis grew up shaking hands and smiling on demand. Their mother Cricket, consummate dinner party host, taught her girls at a very young age how to play the game. The three women are devastated when Gregory dies of a shocking massive heart attack, more so when they learn he was not alone but with his mistress who also was his employee. Feelings of sorrow from the media quickly turn to scandal and just when the girls thought it couldn’t get any worse, Gregory is exposed for stealing a boat load of money. Always on her side is Daisy’s lifelong friend and secret crush Atlas has just moved to DC from London. A journalist, Atlas is determined to get the dirt on the story while still protecting the family and Daisy struggles to keep her unrequited love a secret. Wallis is crushing on political enemy #1’s son and Cricket is figuring out how to climb out of the mess they have landed in. Enjoyable, heartwarming and sprinkled with a little bit of romance, this well written debut was a terrific political soap opera.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, April 29, 2021

It Had To Be You

Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run a successful wedding planning company in Brooklyn for the last two decades. They have a sweet son Ben and cool brownstone, the envy of many. Eliot is off on a business trip when Liv gets the call. Eliot had a fatal heart attack. Devastated beyond belief, Liv spirals into deep depression. Barely getting out of her bathrobe she neglects her home and her appearance but the icing on the cake is when the young beautiful Savannah shows up at her doorstep. Not only was she having an affair with Eliot but he has left her his half of the business. Neither woman can understand “why” but if there is any chance of saving this sinking ship they must find a way to do it together. Romance weaves its way through the story; Henry the florist is dying to get engaged to his boyfriend, Sam the caterer can’t keep his eyes off of Liv, the musicians have become so much more than friends and even Savannah begins exploring possibilities of romance she never imagined. Although enjoyable, all these cute, funny characters along with the very brash Liv had me a little confused at times. Very different than originally described - it’s more like a bunch of short romances very loosely strung together. Entertaining but in the end I would have preferred to connect more with Liv - less is definitely more. ⭐⭐⭐

Monday, April 26, 2021

Early Morning Riser

Jane, a pretty, twenty-something is a fairly new teacher in Boyne City, Michigan. She thrives on thrift store shopping, her elementary school students and getting to know her neighbors in this quaint town where she has started her new life just far away enough from her bizarre mother in Grand Rapids. One day Jane meets Duncan, a woodworker and local handyman. He is older than Jane, extremely handsome and devastatingly charming. They swiftly become a couple and Jane is in love. It seems Duncan is too. Problem is it quickly becomes apparent that Duncan has dated (and slept with!) more women than seems humanly possible. Easily almost every single woman in this small town. Alittle awkward at times as they bump into ex after ex, and naturally Duncan, the sweetheart almost always remains their friend and honey-do fixer of all projects large and small. His previous wife Aggie is the most complicated, extremely involved in each others lives although Duncan assures Jane he will never marry again or have children. Even when they separate, Jane and Duncan can’t stay apart. Jane learns that love may not always show itself in the same way for every person but the heart wants what the heart wants, and in the end that ain’t so bad. This LAUGH-OUT-LOUD small town saga is filled with the most unexpected, peculiar but LIKABLE characters that make every page an adventure. Definitely a book you must be in the mood for, then again who doesn’t like to smile? Perfect beach read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Last Thing He Told Me

Hannah Hall is a woodturner living and working in NYC. Abandoned by both parents and raised by her beloved grandfather, Hannah is resolved to live life, enjoy her art and depend on no-one but herself. An unexpected introduction to handsome Owen Michaels throws Hannah’s world upside down. Their chemistry is instant and their fate is sealed. Owen has a feisty 16 yr old daughter that makes Hannah’s life difficult but knowing firsthand what abandonment feels like, she does everything in her power to befriend the beautiful Bailey. One day a shocking message appears at their doorstep. Scrawled on a small piece of paper in Owen’s handwriting it reads - Protect Her. Owen doesn’t return home from work that evening or the next day. The news reports the company he was working for is under investigation, pictures of his boss taken away in handcuffs. Hannah is aghast but she knows a few things for certain. Owen is a good person and that note meant to protect his daughter. Hannah cannot imagine what led up to Owen’s involvement in this crime but she is not a woman to sit back. When the U.S. Marshall’s office and FBI begin inquiries Hannah does not know who to trust or where Owen is hiding but she is going to find out. This suspenseful new novel by author Laura Dave was such a surprise compared to her past romcoms - which I thoroughly enjoyed! - could not put down this fast paced, well written mystery. Highly recommend #perfectbeachread ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Little Pieces of Me

Almost forty years old Paige Meyer is finally planning the wedding her mother always dreamed of. As the festivities approach Paige is shocked to receive an email from a DNA search site notifying her of a parent match. At first, as she is quite certain she has never had children, Paige decides it must be a mistake and dismisses the message. But the notifications keep arriving. After further research she is horrified to learn that she has a near perfect match with a man her parents age. In fact, with a little googling, she learns Andy went to the same college where her parents met, married and had her. It appears that back in 1975, her mother Betsy must have had a secret she never revealed. Still mourning the loss of her husband Mark she refuses to discuss Paige’s ridiculous accusations. Never having felt completely accepted by her extremely controlling mother, Paige is determined to find out the truth about her life and at the same time manages to discover her way back home. This book had many good threads but unfortunately these weak, unlikeable characters left me hanging. With the answers clearly revealed at the beginning I found myself waiting for something more that never arrived. ⭐⭐⭐

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

From 1895-1898 the Cuban War of Independence tore the beautiful island apart. Revolutionaries were tortured and killed, their families imprisoned by the Spanish rulers who oppressed even the slightest notion of freedom for the people. Passionately narrated by Evangelina, Marina and Grace - we meet three brave women who refuse to give up their struggle for independence. Beautiful Evangelina is jailed in Havana - first for defending her father and later her own honor against the brutal regime. While Marina’s husband is fighting for freedom she becomes a courier hiding life saving messages within her laundry baskets. And then we meet Grace Harrington. A feisty American socialite in NYC determined to become the next Nellie Bly female journalist. Grace happily sacrifices ballgowns to get caught up in the the battling newspapers of William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. These unstoppable women face the harsh reality of war, seedy exchange of politics and newspaper antics that changed the history of countless lives. Inspired by historical events, author Chanel Cleeton once again brings Cuban history to life with unforgettable characters and a lot of googling on my part! More informational and less dramatic than her recent sagas, this well written novel is interesting but not as entertaining. ⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Alice Equation

Alice Montgomery is running her mum’s bookshop while she is out of town. Spending her days amongst hundreds of books is Alice’s idea of a perfect world. Even though she graduated five years ago she hasn’t quite flown the coop yet. Her best friend Aaron is a lawyer on his way to the big time. He has finally landed a position with one of the most prestigious firms in town. Problem is that during an awkward interview moment he slipped that he had a serious girlfriend. This conservative firm would expect nothing less - problem is Aaron is and has always been a major womanizer, not the second date type, let alone the settling down guy. He asks Alice, his very good friend, to fill in and play the role. Aaron figures that once he is firmly in the job they can suddenly break up. Alice goes along with the scheme but the days get more difficult as her secret crush on him is hard to ignore. When Aron discovers that bookish Alice is quite the sexy librarian persona, he too can feel the chemistry hiding beneath their “friendship”. Terrified of hurting one another and unsure whether they have what it takes to avoid disaster sends their lives into a tailspin. The Alice Equation includes books, London and oodles of romance. Thoroughly enjoy this adorable rom-com. ⭐⭐⭐

Firefly Lane

Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart meet the summer of 1974. In a small town near Seattle the girls are standing at the bus stop. Shy and studious Kate is a typical dorky middle schooler hiding behind her too thick glasses, while Tully perfectly fits the new girl role - beautiful, smart and cool. Everyone wants to be her friend. She takes Kate under her wing and the two become inseparable. Suffering through an extremely difficult family life, Tully clings to Kate’s steadfast friendship and swears that someday they will become an unstoppable famous broadcasting duo. Many years later, the girls have survived as many heartbreaks as triumphs and are still best friends. Although Tully’s fame and wealth are more than she could have ever imagined, she begins to find herself lonely and maybe a little jealous of Kate who settled down and has a beautiful daughter. Kate quietly masks her own fears of inadequacy, abandoned dreams and a stubborn teen who hates being mothered. Kate and Tully’s wacky rollercoaster flashes back through the decades on a journey all its own. Loved every minute of this friendship filled saga and the best part is author Kristin Hannah wrote a sequel (Fly Away)! Unless you’ve been living a under a rock you’ve probably heard of this bestseller and no doubt watched the Netflix series. I shockingly read this after I watched. It was a fantastic book and equally well done adaptation, but the verdict stands - I am definitely a read first, watch second kind of gal. ⭐⭐⭐⭐