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.  📕📕📕

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! 📕📕📕📕📕

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 fiancé 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 fiancé (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. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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 fiancé 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 fiancé 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! ⭐⭐⭐⭐