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! ⭐⭐⭐⭐