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! ⭐⭐⭐⭐