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. High 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. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

It's Not Love, It's Just Paris

Lita is the daughter of two Colombian orphans who immigrated to the United States. They have great success and run a huge Latin food international empire. Family is everything to them and their dinner table in New Jersey is filled with people from the community and any lost souls that happen to drop by. Lita is a good student interested in international relations, while her strict parents have other plans for her in the family business. After finishing high school, they grant her one year to live abroad in Paris and study French. She is staying at “The House of Stars” - a crumbling mansion with an eccentric elderly Countess bedridden upstairs. A variety of young ladies live there from all over the world. Some are rich orphans and others the spoiled offspring of wealthy families focused on partying and sex. The “House” has rules and a reputation to maintain. Lita meets a young man named Cato who is as handsome as he is shy. His father is deeply entrenched in ugly politics and he suffers from an obscure illness. Feeling instantly connected to each other the two experience first love as they are dramatically caught between two very different worlds. The alluring writing of Patricia Engel cannot be denied but this story is filled with bizarre characters that don’t make a lot of sense. It’s an easy read and I love everything Paris but it is nothing like any of the descriptions I perused prior to reading. ⭐⭐⭐

The Intimacy Experiment

After years as a porn sensation Naomi Grant cofounded a hugely successful online business with her best friend and former costar. Naomi wants to empower women to feel comfortable in their bodies and learn how to ask, give and take what they want. This gorgeous intimidating woman is having a hard time getting educational institutions to take her seriously and give her methods a chance. After attending a recent event she is introduced to Ethan Cohen, a handsome, brilliant, young rabbi in Los Angelos that was recently named one of the city’s hottest bachelors. Ethan is attempting to rebuild his dwindling community and invites Naomi to lead a lecture series about intimacy in order to capture a younger, more dynamic audience that he believes could increase both attendance and membership at the synagogue. The two begin to plan and work together and have instant fire breathing chemistry. Ethan is rather shy and focused on his image in the community. Naomi is attracted to everything about him, especially the way he incites her to rediscover her own Judaism which she had not thought about since she was a little girl. As two very different worlds collide, the duo can no longer resist and give dating a try. Following Naomi’s syllabus for relationships turns both of their lives upside down. This laugh out loud romance is not quite as smooth as The Roommate but wholly original and delightful. ⭐⭐⭐

Life's Too Short

Vanessa Price is a social media superstar. A vlogger with a hugely successful You Tube channel, Vanessa is the ultimate “social butterfly” as it’s called. She travels the world experiencing excitement and adventure, living every moment to the fullest as if it could all be over tomorrow. And it could. Vanessa has familial ALS in her family. There is no test for this disease but as her grandmother, mother and sister all died before thirty, she believes at 29, she is next. After basic living expenses Vanessa donates all her proceeds (and there is ALOT) to research foundations working on a cure for this horrendous illness that has destroyed her family. When her addict, half-sister leaves her with an infant, life is further turned upside down. Her fun and fancy free style comes to a screeching halt of a crying baby all … night … long. At 4 a.m. her staggeringly handsome lawyer neighbor comes knocking. Greeting him with vomit in her hair and a red faced baby, Adrian takes little Grace in his arms and insists Vanessa take a shower and a minute to herself. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. They have perfect chemistry and immediately can finish each others sentences. But sadly both Adrian and Vanessa are convinced that due to their unlikely circumstances (which are greatly misunderstood!) they must remain ONLY friends. So begins the fun loving friendship rollercoaster that is Vanessa’s life. Her view on how to truly appreciate every moment she has left is heartwarming and tearful at the same time. Simply loved this endearing, meaningful tale of remembering that life is too short. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

When the Stars Go Dark

Detective Anna Hart leads a unit in San Francisco called Searchlight. She takes charge of the most difficult heartbreaking missing children’s cases in the surrounding area. Obsessed with work, it is only after personal tragedy occurs in her own little family that her husband asks her to take a break. Anna flees a few hours away towards the town where she spent part of her childhood. Those years were in a wonderful foster home with a forest ranger named Hap who taught her both the love nature and many survival skills and Eden, a sweet calming voice that can still be heard in the background of her life. Having been away for many years she is surprised to bump into her old friend Will who is now the town sheriff. Anna is quickly pulled into a local case of a 15 year old girl who has disappeared. Time is of the essence as they must scour a large rural area and move quickly if the young girl is to be found alive. Tied in with a handful of historical cases that took place in this area, author Paula McLain dives deep into the psychological triggers of these criminals and the clues that must painfully be squeezed from the victim’s family to follow the trail. Best known for her incredible work in historical fiction, recent articles describe the personal emotions the author drew upon from her own years spent in the foster care system and what led to this unputdownable debut thriller. A well written, scary read of a parent’s worst nightmare. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Truth and Other Hidden Things

Bells Walker never expected Harry to be passed over for tenure at the prestigious college where he taught. Squeezed into their tiny NYC apartment with two opinionated teens, waiting for a promotion that never arrives AND finding out Bells is pregnant at 43 turns the Walker family upside down. An offer in upstate New York at Duchess College may be the answer to their prayers. Succumbing to the mini van and moving into dilapidated college housing, Bells throws herself into settling the kids and transforming into the wife of a tenure track professor. Reality is Bells is very pregnant, unsociable and quickly learns the mean moms are really mean! She cannot resist jotting down notes as the ironic hipsters hailing from Brooklyn mix with the Lululemon housewives behaving badly. Her funny notes morph into a top secret blog. Not wanting to risk Harry’s job, Bells calls herself the County Duchess. Late at night she details life with the Duke and all the funny business happening in this quaint farm-to-table town. Whether you find yourself imagining how scary real this may possibly be or just enjoying the wonderful characters author Lea Geller has created, there is no doubt you will be laughing out loud until the very last page. Highly recommend this entertaining, well written new novel! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Friday, April 2, 2021

The Paris Apartment

When Aurelia Leclaire walks through the door of a lavish apartment she recently inherited, she is both shocked and astounded. Her grandmother has not only left Lia an apartment that no-one in the family knew about but it appears to have been deserted since 1943. This mystery home is overflowing with magnificent couture, jewelry and priceless art. One particular landscape steers her to contact  Gabriel Seymour in London, a well known art restorer and appraiser. Quickly arriving in Paris, Gabriel is surprisingly handsome and much younger than Lia expected, the two share instant chemistry. Some of the clues suggest the unimaginable - that grandmother was assisting the Nazi’s - but after digging deeper they discover grandmothers buried secrets and as fate would have it, the mystery draws them to Gabriel’s own family in England. Narrated by the brave women of the past and Lia’s unwavering determination to put the pieces together, we travel through war torn Europe and modern day Paris. Filled with history, art and a budding romance between delightful characters The Paris Apartment was an absolutely undputodownable read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Half Life

Marya Sklodowska grew up in Warsaw, Poland at a time when it was still part of the Russian Empire. The youngest of five children, Marya’s brilliance was apparent from a very small age. Unfortunately, at this time girls were not encouraged to study and prohibited from attending University. When the family loses all their property and fortune through patriotic uprisings, her parents continued to do everything they could to educate Marya and her siblings. In 1891, devastated after her fiancĂ© Kazimierz calls off their engagement, Marya follows her elder sister to Paris, where she would now be known as Marie. She is quickly first in her class and the only woman studying physics at the Sorbonne. After marrying Pierre Curie, Marie becomes the first woman to ever win a Nobel prize, not once but twice. Time is a funny thing and in a sliding doors scenario we see Marya waiting to board the train to Paris when Kazimierz begs for forgiveness and Marya stays in Poland to marry him, giving up her dreams of university. Alternating chapters view the what if’s of life through Marya’s eyes and the world renowned scientist Marie Curie we continue to be astounded by today.  When forced to choose between love, work and family, every decision brings a different future outcome that can affect not just the decision maker but everyone and everything surrounding them. Highly recommend this fascinating work of historical fiction written in a very original style. After recently watching the movie Radioactive it was easy for me to bring Marie Curie and these incredible characters to life. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Yellow Wife

Pheby Delores Brown was born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia. As the daughter of both a slave and the white Master, Pheby is educated and promised freedom when she turns 18 years old. Heartbroken after her mother’s death, Pheby finds herself turned over to the auction block by Master’s evil wife. At the infamous Devil’s Half-Acre prison notorious jailer Rubin Lapier quickly notices Pheby’s beauty and demands her ownership. She must now figure out how to survive as Mistress of the jail, a brutal and horrible center where slaves are viciously beaten and sold to the highest bidder. Sacrificing everything she once dreamed of, Pheby will do what she must to guarantee the protection of her children and their precarious futures. Amid the filth and dehumanization she is forced to witness on a daily basis, Pheby finds the strength to play along with her role never forgetting what she must ultimately accomplish. This fast paced, heartbreaking novel is loosely based on the true story of Mary Lumpkin and her life at the actual Devil’s Half-Acre. An important and beautifully written novel by author Sadeqa Johnson, Yellow Wife is an absolute must read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Island Affair

When Sara Vance, a rising social media megastar, steps off the plane at Key West International, the last thing she expected was to be stood up in the airport parking lot. Her fiancĂ© texted regrets that he could not join her for the vacation that was about to begin. Minutes before the rest of her judgmental, opinionated family arrives, Sara meets Luis Navarro. Her knight in shining armor turns out to be an off duty (and super hot!) firefighter, his white horse - a hunky pick up truck. Instant chemistry and not much time to debate the merits of this crazy idea, the two strike a deal. Luis has the week off and will pretend to be Sara’s companion. Luis, a native Conch from a large Cuban family completely understands the messy dynamics that Sara is experiencing. Going out on a limb for this pretty blonde seems a small price to pay to hide his own forced “time off" from his gossiping familia. As Sara and Luis get to know each other and navigate the ups and downs of their plan, the temperature continues to rise. This steamy island romance is filled with sunshine, delicious latin flavor and all the sizzle of a PERFECT beach read! Highly recommend this quick southern getaway - a must before Anchored Hearts, next in the Keys to Love series, releases at the end of April! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Everything After

Fifteen years ago Emily’s life changed forever. A devastating accident caused Emily to sacrifice her aspiring musical career and college sweetheart Rob simultaneously. Emily remapped her future becoming a therapist and marrying Ezra, a handsome, brilliant doctor she met at the hospital. They live a happy existence and are trying to conceive when Emily hears a song on the radio and is instantly mesmerized by the words of love whispered long ago. Tracking down Rob, Emily is unsure whether she is the girl he still pines for and if this road she has traveled is leading her back to her former self. Questioning all of her decisions Emily faces Ezra’s jealousy and fears his discovery of the past he knows little about. Written in very short chapters (which I loved) and POV from all the main characters, I thoroughly enjoyed the fast paced smooth transition describing Emily’s past and present. Unfortunately, I was disappointed at the end. Unlike her bestseller The Light We Lost, which is one of my all time favorite romances, I feel this one fell short wrapping up a tidy ending that was predictable and not tissue worthy.  ⭐⭐⭐

Come Fly the World

Post WWII most women wouldn’t dream of working outside the home, and they most certainly did not travel unaccompanied. That all shifted when Pan Am set out to become the most influential airlines on a global scale. In the mid 1960’s Pan Am decided that a friendly, pretty face would soothe their anxious passengers. Their well trained stewardesses would be efficient, organized, presentable and always smiling. Like a swarm of designer angels in the sky to fulfill your every need they were a particular height, weight, college educated and spoke more than one language. As the women’s liberation movement was gaining momentum, a Pan Am stewardess grabbed this opportunity to be free as a bird. Still up against inflexible age, marriage and pregnancy restrictions (designed by an all male management) these young ladies knew they had a decade to fulfill their dreams of exploring the world. So much more than a pretty face, Pan Am stewardesses played an active role flying soldiers home from Vietnam and accompanying thousands of Vietnamese orphans during Operation Babylift. This fascinating peek into the rise and fall of an iconic airlines is a must read. Hats off to these brave women who contributed dramatically to the growth and determination of generations to come! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, March 6, 2021

The Duke & I

Daphne Bridgerton is ready to be matched. Her upper crust family of Regency London will guide her through the season of wondrous balls and events hoping to keep suitors on her dance card. As the fourth of the eight Bridgerton children she has three older brothers to contend with and a mother who only wanted to make the perfect match. Less focused on love, these matches displayed ones place in society and the future of her sisters matches as well. In walks Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. The most handsome yet frustratingly enigmatic man Daphne had ever met. An old school mate and friend of her eldest brother, Simon was officially off limits. Facing his own societal pressures Simon and Daphne come up with a plan to develop a fake relationship, get through this tiresome game they are both facing and ultimately part amicably. Naturally, the plan falls to pieces as the beautiful and sexy young couple fall wildly, passionately and deeply in love. First in a series of dozens of books by Julia Quinn, Bridgertons recent craze on Netflix has all the girls swooning for more. I don’t know how in the world I missed this 20 years ago at it’s publishing but this is fabulous Regency romance that should not be missed. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A Woman is No Man

In a small very traditional Arab-American community in Brooklyn, 18 year old Deya refuses to believe she has no choices. Terrified of repeating her mother’s misfortune Deya searches for a way to follow her passion for reading, attend college and delay an arranged marriage until she is older. Raised by her grandparents after the death of her parents when she was only seven, Deya helps care for her three younger sisters and fears for their futures. Narrated by her mother Isra, Deya and her grandmother Fareeda, it becomes clear that while she has held onto only a few scattered memories there is much she does not know about her parents, their lives and their deaths. Deya is heartbroken when she learns details of the tremendous struggle her mother endured as a young woman with four babies, little support and no hope. As Fareeda forces the continued beliefs of a woman’s place - it becomes Deya’s mission to make change without losing the only family she has ever known. Determined to understand the meaning of love, marriage and what it means to have a voice will not be easy but she is determined to try. Compelling characters, well written, a little repetitive in the second half, overall a very good read. ⭐⭐⭐

Conversations with Friends

Frances and Bobbi have been best friends for as long as they could remember. Now at university in Dublin, their popular spoken word poetry performance has gotten them quite a bit of attention. At a recent show a journalist/photographer named Melissa introduces herself. Sophisticated and experienced, Melissa draws the girls into her artistic world of fancy homes and dinner parties. As most of Melissa’s attentions are drawn to Bobbi’s confidence and open sexuality, Melissa’s husband Nick is equally fascinated by Frances and her quiet intellectualism. A handsome struggling actor, Frances is immediately drawn to his charms and all he represents. At least a decade older than the girls, this mysterious couple and their complicated relationships set the friends at odds as they explore feelings they had buried long ago. Experiencing the often painful lessons of love, trust and friendship, Frances and Bobbi must make hard choices that will alter their lives forever. The smooth writing of Irish author Sally Rooney (Normal People) recalls the trials and tribulations of early adulthood. Another book to screen in the works, I am looking forward to watching this on Hulu next year! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Our Darkest Night

Antonina Mazin lives with her beloved father in Venice, Italy. He is a brilliant doctor who has always loved and cared for the community in which they live. As the Nazi’s close in on their world in the fall of 1943 he knows he must send his daughter away to safety. A narrative is created and arranged. Antonina Mazin becomes Nina. She is “married” to Nico Gerardi, a farmer in the countryside. This handsome young man is to keep Nina out of danger through the war and she will pose as his new wife and help on the family farm. This life of manual labor is not an easy change for Nina, a city girl through and through. Eventually Nico’s family, who have no idea of her real identity, slowly begin to trust this beautiful girl and happily accept her as their own. As the war inches closer to their little village the local Nazi officials grow suspicious of Nico’s travels. Much to Nina’s surprise she is falling helplessly in love with the kindest and most generous man she has ever met. Happiness seems just within reach as the horrors of World War II finally close in on them. Beautifully written saga of history, love and family with the most gorgeous Italian scenery. Highly recommend this wonderful historical fiction novel! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Wife Upstairs

Jane is a rather plain nondescript young woman who walks dogs for a living in the fancy neighborhood called Thornfield Estates. Manicured landscapes, luxury cars and rows of mansions line the exclusive streets. As Jane picks and drops off her charges she tends to casually slip a jewel or any small valuable in her pocket as her pretentious clients never know the difference. Pleasant enough, none of these ladies who lunch find meek Jane a threat which only enhances her opportunity. One day she meets Eddie, an extremely handsome, recently widowed neighbor. They instantly click and begin seeing each other. Jane is no longer focused on the small trinket but is laser focused on becoming part of this prestigious community. As she weasels her way into Eddie’s life Jane realizes she is not the one holding the tricky cards. Eddie’s wife Bea and her best friend disappeared in a mysterious boating accident. The police are still investigating. The more Jane learns, the more frightened she becomes. Jane is no longer sure who is playing who. This absolutely suspenseful page turner will keep you at the edge of your seat. Highly recommend this domestic thriller. Couldn’t put down! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Moonlight School

It is 1911 and Lucy Wilson lives a charmed existence with her wealthy father in Louisville, Kentucky. The untimely death of her mother and disappearance of her sister many years ago had left a gaping hole in her heart but after Lucy graduates from a fancy girl’s finishing school her only ambition is to find a suitable husband. When her father’s cousin Cora Wilson Stewart requests Lucy assist her as a scribe for 6 months in the mountains of Appalachia she is more than just a little bit hesitant. Shocked by the severely poverty-stricken county, Lucy is further surprised to learn that most residents are illiterate. As she arrives in Rowan County with nothing more than the goal to leave as fast as possible, she is quickly in awe of Cora and her mission to help the mountain people maintain the generous loving community they have lived in for generations. At the time it was believed there was a window for learning and that it was too late for adults. These brave women realized that was untrue and did everything they could to give the gift of reading to all. Based on the true story of Cora Wilson Stewart’s mission to spread adult literacy, this beautiful story melted my heart. Highly recommend! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monday, February 8, 2021

This Close to Okay

Tallie is on her way home from work one rainy nasty evening when she sees a man on the wrong side of the bridge. He has climbed the rails and is staring at the stormy dark river. Without hesitation Tallie pulls her car over and races to help this man, gently coaxing him to speak with her, accept a ride and leave this dire situation. After a warm cup of coffee and the calming effect of Tallie’s voice, Emmett shares a little about himself. With nowhere else to go this handsome sweet man agrees to spend the night on her couch. Tallie is a professional therapist and although this may appear just a teensy bit unethical, she tells Emmett she is a teacher. She decides that someone who wants to kill themselves is not looking for a last minute therapy session. As Emmett opens up to Tallie’s natural warmth and hospitality, she details her own recent heartbreaking divorce and failure to have a child. The two connect on a deep level, trusting each other with feelings rarely expressed out loud. Narrated by both Tallie and Emmett the reader has a chance to see both sides of the coin. As their truths unfold it it is clear that even if fate brought them together it takes extraordinary forgiveness to mend a broken heart. Tiny bits of repetition did not stop me from loving this beautiful story. More therapeutic than sad, I highly recommend! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Love Proof

Sophie Jones has been a prodigy her entire life. Different from all the other children her parents were determined to make sure she always felt surrounded by love and kindness. When she begins at Yale, Sophie is set to change the world. Her theories and mathematical skills precede her arrival as it is decided which professor she will work with. A week into the first semester, quiet, sweet Sophie meets Jake and her life is changed forever. Mesmerized by this new and physical love she has never experienced, Sophie is slowly drained of her aspirations, intent on spending as much time with Jake as possible. But Jake has his own journey to travel. After a difficult and stormy childhood Jake is determined to make a lot of money, take care of his mother and have all the things that have always been out of reach. Understanding Sophies gift to the world, Jake is devastated that he has inadvertently led Sophie astray from her study of time theory and must find a way to get her back on track. After years of painful separation and near misses, the two cannot fight their true love connection. An eccentric and memorable love story, this is not your average romance. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Love in Lockdown

One night while Sophia quietly cries on her balcony, a mysterious voice calls down to her. Her neighbor above, whom she has never met, offers conversation that makes Sophia feel remarkably better. England is on lockdown and as everyone adjusts to weeks upon weeks of life in isolation, fear of catching the virus and pure loneliness, Sophia realizes her purpose may be to help those in her community who cannot manage on their own. As Jack becomes her confidante and she assists him getting much needed groceries, they form a bond unlike any she has ever experienced. Without ever having met each other this young couple have become dependent on the strength and encouragement provided each and every night on the balcony. This well timed pandemic love story reminds us that giving to others can make people feel less alone in a world that continues to challenge us every day. Spreading the kindness and falling in love go hand in hand in this adorable, uplifting Valentine’s treat.⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Ex Talk

Shay Goldstein has been in love with public radio her entire life. Starting as an intern after college, Shay has been at this Seattle station for the last ten years. With a voice she assumed was annoying Shay has remained behind the scenes producing shows and helping their stars succeed. When the station runs into tough times they are searching for something new and hip to uplift their ratings. Shay randomly pitches her boss an idea where the co-hosts who have recently split up could coach their audience with relationship and romance advice. Shockingly she is placed on the air with her handsome nemesis who recently joined the team and insists he knows absolutely everything. Terrified of going live and convincing everyone in her life she secretly dated Dominic is no easy task. No sooner is the show aired that it becomes a sensational hit. Climbing the radio and podcast charts, a dream come true, becomes an issue when the duo quietly and completely fall in love with each other. As their relationship gets harder to camouflage this laugh out loud rom-com will lift your spirits and melt your heart. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Hate U Give

Starr Carter was driving with her childhood friend Khalil, home from a party. At sixteen years old, Starr doesn’t often go to parties in her neighborhood. Although she was raised in this poor community of Jackson Mississippi, Starr’s parents enrolled her and her siblings in a fancy private school in the suburbs. Her daddy runs a local grocery store and her mom works as an ER nurse. They know first hand how tough these streets can be and want their children to have a better chance, a higher education. Khalil and Starr are pulled over. Scared, Starr remembers what her mama drilled into her; keep your hands where they can be seen, no sudden movements and no talking unless spoken to. Khalil is shot 3 times, in the back. Blood is everywhere and Starr’s life will never be the same. Starr begins to question her authenticity, friends living in two different worlds, her white boyfriend, and life as a black girl with two identities. The incident makes national headlines and Starr is the only witness. Her family, the local gang leaders and the entire neighborhood choose sides and take to the streets. Riots, danger, fear in one life and AP exams and the prom in the other. It is time for this brave young lady to use her position and stand up for what she believes. Starr must speak for her friends who no longer have a voice of their own. This is a well written, emotional YA story that should be mandatory reading. We may not have immediate solutions but the struggle for justice is paramount. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Little French Bridal Shop

Larisa Pearl grew up in a quaint town on the coast of Massachusetts. Her great aunt passed away and it has become her mission to get the beautiful historic home ready for sale. Having become recently single and unemployed, Larisa throws herself into the tasks that need to be done. One day as she strolls through town she passes a bridal shop. Never a girl set on getting married Larisa is surprised when she tries on a magnificent dress and begins to weave a tale of her upcoming nuptials. Small town that it is, news travels fast and Larisa embroils herself in mountain of lies that further complicates her life. The caretaker of the estate Jack turns out to be more handsome than she remembers and as their renovations begins the duo uncover more than just wallpaper hidden beneath the history. Adorable easy read. I never quite understood Larisa’s motives but the story moves pretty quickly and I enjoy small town sagas. ⭐⭐⭐

The Wrong Family

Classic case of you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. From afar Juno thought the Crouch’s looked like the storybook family. A good looking couple living in a beautiful home with an adorable and kind son. Juno is homeless and at the end of her days, she enters the Crouch home completely by accident. But once she is in, she never leaves. Living quietly beneath them in a secret sub floor compartment and sneaking around when they are out, Juno overhears a portion of a conversation. Misinterpreting it’s full meaning Juno decides she will set things right before she dies. Having been a therapist in her previous life, she figures it’s the least she can do. As Winnie and Nigel’s marriage is crumbling and Winnie’s brother is on a raging rampage Juno finally realizes what she has set in motion, and it is too late. I think there was an interesting plot somewhere in here but it is buried beneath unlikeable characters and meaningless scenarios. ⭐⭐

The Fortunate Ones

Charlie Boykin grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in East Nashville, Tennessee. His single mom Bonnie worked long hours to make ends meet and everyone in the projects pitched in with kids who were often left to fend for themselves. Looking for a way out, Bonnie arranges a scholarship for Charlie to attend a fancy private school called Yeatman. Archer Creigh is introduced as his “big brother mentor” and he and his friends adopt Charlie into their world filled with mansions, gleaming swimming pools and driveways of expensive cars. The group is so enthralled with this newcomer that Charlie’s mom is offered a job with one of the families and they move into their guest house. Charlie falls mildly in love with all of them but as he closely observes this life of privilege he can’t avoid their excessive drinking, philandering and sense of entitlement they don’t often deserve. Through it all Charlie is the most loyal of friends and will do anything for this club of spoiled teens including covering up their indiscretions. As they get older, the troubles are not so minor and Charlie is torn between his devotion to these friends and being truthful with himself. Highly recommend this fast paced, imaginative novel that reflects the distinct and difficult divide between the haves and the have nots. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Better Luck Next Time

In the 1930’s Reno, Nevada was a symbol of hope for women looking for a quickie divorce. Remain in Reno for six weeks and the judge would grant you residency and divorce with assembly line efficiency. No better place to stay than the Flying Leap Ranch run with Margaret’s military precision and handsome cowboys to wait on you hand and foot. We meet Nina, a St. Louis heiress, back for her third time and terrified Emily fleeing San Francisco and her two timing husband. There is Ward, a Carey Grant look-alike trying desperately not to fall in love and fellow ranch hand Sam who is everyone’s protector. Post depression, pre WWII, most of America is struggling to survive and as these wealthy women search for a freedom they aren’t quite sure they want. Told in a hilarious laugh-out-loud narrative, it is easy to imagine these oddball characters in the heyday of a Hollywood setting. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Faye, Faraway

Faye and Eddie share a quiet life and happy home with two little girls they adore. As Eddie prepares to train as a vicar Faye is terribly worried whether she can live up to her wifely duties. Faye lost her mum as a young girl and was adopted by an older couple. Although she had a lovely childhood, Faye has always longed for the mother she can hardly remember. While cleaning out the attic she discovers a box she recognizes from an old photograph. Faye climbs into the box to avoid stepping on glass and her life is transformed to another time. Faye awakens in 1977, in the yard of her childhood home, her mum Jeanie in the kitchen and her younger self nearby. This terrifying leap leads Faye down a path of discovery she never imagined possible. She can finally get to know the woman she has yearned for all these years. Maybe she can change the trajectory of their lives. Love and a little bit of faith in time travel is all you need to go back to the future. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

In 1926 Agatha Christie is a 36 year mystery writer on the cusp of becoming a household name. Things with her husband Archie were extremely rocky and against Agatha’s wishes, they were spending the weekend apart. Late, on this freezing December night, Agatha gently kissed her 7 year old daughter Rosalind and got behind the wheel of her fancy new car. The following day the car is seen abandoned by a gloomy lake and Agatha is nowhere to be found. The woman who would one day become the world’s most famous mystery writer becomes the focus of her very own 11 day mystery. Only a few months after releasing her latest novel Agatha has disappeared off the face of the earth only to reappear with absolutely no memory of the time that has passed. Ingenious author Marie Benedict reimagines what might have happened during this puzzling disappearance with gripping and exquisite detail. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Titanic Sisters

In the beautiful green pastures of Ireland sits the charming town of Donegal. The Sweeney family live on a small farm and while working their fingers to the bone, can barely manage to get by. Nora and Delia are sisters as different as the sun and the moon. Nora, a bit older, is spoiled by her beauty and mother’s attentions expecting all the local boys and world at large to fall at her feet. Delia, always helping her hardworking Da on the farm struggles with a stutter and finds her solace in reading books as she is alone most of the time. When a distant cousin passes, an opportunity to go to America is presented to the sisters. Nora will have the coveted position of governess to a wealthy man’s child and Delia to be a maidservant at another home. Desperate to start new lives, they board the Titanic to cross the ocean. On April 12, 1912 they are faced with circumstances they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams. Believing that Nora did not survive, Delia accepts the governess position in her place. She quickly becomes attached to the beautiful child called Lily and must face the inappropriate chemistry between herself and her new employer, the very handsome Aidan O’Hanlon. When it becomes revealed that Nora may have survived, Delia has a sinking feeling that everything she treasures is now at risk. Family secrets and revenge make this inspired historical fiction novel one that I could not put down! ⭐⭐⭐⭐