Friday, April 30, 2021

Ladies of the House

Daisy Richardson is a 34 year old making her way through the complicated  maze that is Washington politics. Pretty much her work as chief of staff for a senator named Miles is Daisy’s entire existence. But this lovely and witty young woman was born to play this role. As the eldest daughter of Senator Gregory Richardson, Daisy and her sister Wallis grew up shaking hands and smiling on demand. Their mother Cricket, consummate dinner party host, taught her girls at a very young age how to play the game. The three women are devastated when Gregory dies of a shocking massive heart attack, more so when they learn he was not alone but with his mistress who also was his employee. Feelings of sorrow from the media quickly turn to scandal and just when the girls thought it couldn’t get any worse, Gregory is exposed for stealing a boat load of money. Always on her side is Daisy’s lifelong friend and secret crush Atlas has just moved to DC from London. A journalist, Atlas is determined to get the dirt on the story while still protecting the family and Daisy struggles to keep her unrequited love a secret. Wallis is crushing on political enemy #1’s son and Cricket is figuring out how to climb out of the mess they have landed in. Enjoyable, heartwarming and sprinkled with a little bit of romance, this well written debut was a terrific political soap opera.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, April 29, 2021

It Had To Be You

Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run a successful wedding planning company in Brooklyn for the last two decades. They have a sweet son Ben and cool brownstone, the envy of many. Eliot is off on a business trip when Liv gets the call. Eliot had a fatal heart attack. Devastated beyond belief, Liv spirals into deep depression. Barely getting out of her bathrobe she neglects her home and her appearance but the icing on the cake is when the young beautiful Savannah shows up at her doorstep. Not only was she having an affair with Eliot but he has left her his half of the business. Neither woman can understand “why” but if there is any chance of saving this sinking ship they must find a way to do it together. Romance weaves its way through the story; Henry the florist is dying to get engaged to his boyfriend, Sam the caterer can’t keep his eyes off of Liv, the musicians have become so much more than friends and even Savannah begins exploring possibilities of romance she never imagined. Although enjoyable, all these cute, funny characters along with the very brash Liv had me a little confused at times. Very different than originally described - it’s more like a bunch of short romances very loosely strung together. Entertaining but in the end I would have preferred to connect more with Liv - less is definitely more. ⭐⭐⭐

Monday, April 26, 2021

Early Morning Riser

Jane, a pretty, twenty-something is a fairly new teacher in Boyne City, Michigan. She thrives on thrift store shopping, her elementary school students and getting to know her neighbors in this quaint town where she has started her new life just far away enough from her bizarre mother in Grand Rapids. One day Jane meets Duncan, a woodworker and local handyman. He is older than Jane, extremely handsome and devastatingly charming. They swiftly become a couple and Jane is in love. It seems Duncan is too. Problem is it quickly becomes apparent that Duncan has dated (and slept with!) more women than seems humanly possible. Easily almost every single woman in this small town. Alittle awkward at times as they bump into ex after ex, and naturally Duncan, the sweetheart almost always remains their friend and honey-do fixer of all projects large and small. His previous wife Aggie is the most complicated, extremely involved in each others lives although Duncan assures Jane he will never marry again or have children. Even when they separate, Jane and Duncan can’t stay apart. Jane learns that love may not always show itself in the same way for every person but the heart wants what the heart wants, and in the end that ain’t so bad. This LAUGH-OUT-LOUD small town saga is filled with the most unexpected, peculiar but LIKABLE characters that make every page an adventure. Definitely a book you must be in the mood for, then again who doesn’t like to smile? Perfect beach read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Last Thing He Told Me

Hannah Hall is a woodturner living and working in NYC. Abandoned by both parents and raised by her beloved grandfather, Hannah is resolved to live life, enjoy her art and depend on no-one but herself. An unexpected introduction to handsome Owen Michaels throws Hannah’s world upside down. Their chemistry is instant and their fate is sealed. Owen has a feisty 16 yr old daughter that makes Hannah’s life difficult but knowing firsthand what abandonment feels like, she does everything in her power to befriend the beautiful Bailey. One day a shocking message appears at their doorstep. Scrawled on a small piece of paper in Owen’s handwriting it reads - Protect Her. Owen doesn’t return home from work that evening or the next day. The news reports the company he was working for is under investigation, pictures of his boss taken away in handcuffs. Hannah is aghast but she knows a few things for certain. Owen is a good person and that note meant to protect his daughter. Hannah cannot imagine what led up to Owen’s involvement in this crime but she is not a woman to sit back. When the U.S. Marshall’s office and FBI begin inquiries Hannah does not know who to trust or where Owen is hiding but she is going to find out. This suspenseful new novel by author Laura Dave was such a surprise compared to her past romcoms - which I thoroughly enjoyed! - could not put down this fast paced, well written mystery. High recommend #perfectbeachread ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Little Pieces of Me

Almost forty years old Paige Meyer is finally planning the wedding her mother always dreamed of. As the festivities approach Paige is shocked to receive an email from a DNA search site notifying her of a parent match. At first, as she is quite certain she has never had children, Paige decides it must be a mistake and dismisses the message. But the notifications keep arriving. After further research she is horrified to learn that she has a near perfect match with a man her parents age. In fact, with a little googling, she learns Andy went to the same college where her parents met, married and had her. It appears that back in 1975, her mother Betsy must have had a secret she never revealed. Still mourning the loss of her husband Mark she refuses to discuss Paige’s ridiculous accusations. Never having felt completely accepted by her extremely controlling mother, Paige is determined to find out the truth about her life and at the same time manages to discover her way back home. This book had many good threads but unfortunately these weak, unlikeable characters left me hanging. With the answers clearly revealed at the beginning I found myself waiting for something more that never arrived. ⭐⭐⭐

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

From 1895-1898 the Cuban War of Independence tore the beautiful island apart. Revolutionaries were tortured and killed, their families imprisoned by the Spanish rulers who oppressed even the slightest notion of freedom for the people. Passionately narrated by Evangelina, Marina and Grace - we meet three brave women who refuse to give up their struggle for independence. Beautiful Evangelina is jailed in Havana - first for defending her father and later her own honor against the brutal regime. While Marina’s husband is fighting for freedom she becomes a courier hiding life saving messages within her laundry baskets. And then we meet Grace Harrington. A feisty American socialite in NYC determined to become the next Nellie Bly female journalist. Grace happily sacrifices ballgowns to get caught up in the the battling newspapers of William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. These unstoppable women face the harsh reality of war, seedy exchange of politics and newspaper antics that changed the history of countless lives. Inspired by historical events, author Chanel Cleeton once again brings Cuban history to life with unforgettable characters and a lot of googling on my part! More informational and less dramatic than her recent sagas, this well written novel is interesting but not as entertaining. ⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Alice Equation

Alice Montgomery is running her mum’s bookshop while she is out of town. Spending her days amongst hundreds of books is Alice’s idea of a perfect world. Even though she graduated five years ago she hasn’t quite flown the coop yet. Her best friend Aaron is a lawyer on his way to the big time. He has finally landed a position with one of the most prestigious firms in town. Problem is that during an awkward interview moment he slipped that he had a serious girlfriend. This conservative firm would expect nothing less - problem is Aaron is and has always been a major womanizer, not the second date type, let alone the settling down guy. He asks Alice, his very good friend, to fill in and play the role. Aaron figures that once he is firmly in the job they can suddenly break up. Alice goes along with the scheme but the days get more difficult as her secret crush on him is hard to ignore. When Aron discovers that bookish Alice is quite the sexy librarian persona, he too can feel the chemistry hiding beneath their “friendship”. Terrified of hurting one another and unsure whether they have what it takes to avoid disaster sends their lives into a tailspin. The Alice Equation includes books, London and oodles of romance. Thoroughly enjoy this adorable rom-com. ⭐⭐⭐

Firefly Lane

Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart meet the summer of 1974. In a small town near Seattle the girls are standing at the bus stop. Shy and studious Kate is a typical dorky middle schooler hiding behind her too thick glasses, while Tully perfectly fits the new girl role - beautiful, smart and cool. Everyone wants to be her friend. She takes Kate under her wing and the two become inseparable. Suffering through an extremely difficult family life, Tully clings to Kate’s steadfast friendship and swears that someday they will become an unstoppable famous broadcasting duo. Many years later, the girls have survived as many heartbreaks as triumphs and are still best friends. Although Tully’s fame and wealth are more than she could have ever imagined, she begins to find herself lonely and maybe a little jealous of Kate who settled down and has a beautiful daughter. Kate quietly masks her own fears of inadequacy, abandoned dreams and a stubborn teen who hates being mothered. Kate and Tully’s wacky rollercoaster flashes back through the decades on a journey all its own. Loved every minute of this friendship filled saga and the best part is author Kristin Hannah wrote a sequel (Fly Away)! Unless you’ve been living a under a rock you’ve probably heard of this bestseller and no doubt watched the Netflix series. I shockingly read this after I watched. It was a fantastic book and equally well done adaptation, but the verdict stands - I am definitely a read first, watch second kind of gal. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

It's Not Love, It's Just Paris

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

The Intimacy Experiment

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

Life's Too Short

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

When the Stars Go Dark

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

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Truth and Other Hidden Things

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

Friday, April 2, 2021

The Paris Apartment

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