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! ⭐⭐⭐⭐