Thursday, December 29, 2022

Our Missing Hearts

Bird is a 12 yr old boy living with his dad in Boston. It is some time in the future and after the “Crisis" the government revitalized the economy by blaming China and subsequently the Asian communities in the United States for all of their problems. Being a good American now meant spying on your neighbors. Turning in anyone who seemed unpatriotic. In turn the government would quickly find you and deem your children were in danger of becoming unpatriotic and “replace” them to another home. Bird and his dad live a very quiet existence. After his mom Margaret left them they lay low desperate to remain anonymous and not be associated with her rebellious actions. Margaret was a thoughtful poet and of Chinese dissent. She thought leaving Bird with Ethan would protect them. Three years after she left Bird still cannot imagine never seeing his mom again. He is determined to find her and get answers to the questions that haunt him at night. I have loved other books by this author but this one was not for me. Although it had glowing reviews, I did not understand or like any of the characters and couldn’t wait for it to end. :( ⭐️⭐️

The Pirate's Wife

Sarah Bradley was born in England circa 1665. After her mother died, Sarah helped raise her younger brothers while her seafaring father was away. Maturing quickly due to her circumstance, Sarah was married off to William Cox at only 15 years old when the Bradley’s arrived in the New York Colony. Becoming even more self sufficient with natural business acumen Sarah quickly married again after the untimely demise of Cox. When John Oort passed soon after Sarah met Captain William Kidd, a dashing and adventurous man with a reputation that followed him everywhere. As Sarah was already a beautiful and well-to-do woman with multiple businesses and land acquisitions - unheard of for women during this time period - the two became somewhat of a power couple. When the dashing Captain made a privateering arrangement with duplicitous investors their  lives came crumbling down. Completely fascinating account of a period in history that most know little about. The conditions for women, whims of a monarchy and a colony on the cusp of change, this author brings history to life revealing shocking secrets and possible scenarios. Non-fiction that reads like fiction, I did not want it to end. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

French Kissed

Fleur Marceaux is in her last year at the International School in London. Her best friends are all moving forward and making plans while she feels absolutely lost - barely passing her classes and no idea what to do after graduation. Fleur was so confident her future included her boyfriend Costa, but that was before she lost the baby and he dumped her for another girl. Fleur never imagined getting her life back on track would include Max, the American. Not her type by a long shot but when she finally gives him a chance their chemistry is electrifying. Together they figure out the value that lies beneath a true friendship. This was #3 in an older series by Chanel Cleeton - when she wrote a completely different genre of young romance. I remembered liking the first two much more but it’s always nice to wrap up a series. Cute easy paced story. If you haven’t read it yet, definitely start at the beginning. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Flirting With the Beast

Andi McDermott has been a widow for the last five years. Having never had children, her entire adult life was spent taking care of Kevin, their home and social life. Without him she has felt completely lost. Hastily Andi decides Christmas alone would be more tolerable at the cabin in Lake Arrowhead, a small mountain community in northern California. Her only distraction is Wolf, a neighbor she and her husband battled for years. A big, brawny man with rambunctious dogs and a loud motorcycle, she was always quite intimated and at the same time curious about this mystery man. Their paths quickly cross and this handsome hunk is more helpful than hurtful. His brutish manner is actually kind of hot. Although she is more nervous than she cares to admit, Andi makes an effort to be neighborly. Delightful late fifties romance with plenty of steam? I’m in. Filled with likable characters in a beautiful setting, this fast paced modern love story was perfect. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Other End of the Sea

Becky Klein grew up in the Midwest. A typical teenager Becky became more curious about her Jewish roots. Unfamiliar with the history and politics of Israel, Becky decides to travel to a kibbutz in Haifa during the summer of 1981. In a small garden near the kibbutz she befriends a young man who invites her to Gaza to meet his friends and family. This Palestinian activist, slightly older and infinitely more worldly, is intelligent and handsome - the two are instantly attracted to one another. Months later, their friendship grows and Becky moves to closer his neighborhood to teach English at the nearby Quaker school. She becomes immersed with a group of young people who belong to various global organizations trying to help the community in any way they can. Through decades Becky’s love affair with this man, his people and the land itself take her on a journey to places she could have never imagined. The Other End of the Sea is not just a love story and it’s not just about religion or politics. It’s depicts family, friendship and survival. A work of fiction that reads like a memoir, this is an outsider’s peek into a world few of us know much about. Thought provoking, sad and hopeful all at once. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Matchmaker's Gift

As the Glikman family make their way to America in 1910, young Sara Glikman sees a thread of light no-one else can see. This thread connects a handsome man on the ship with her older sister and she graciously introduces them. It is love at first sight. And so begins the illustrious career of a matchmaker. Sara’s gift does not slow on the bustling streets of the lower east side. Sara matches her lovely school teacher, the man who sells pickles and the daughter of the famous knish maker. It is not always easy for Sara. She is too young and unmarried - the men of this mostly religious community do not approve of her vocation. Most troubling to Sara, a romantic at heart, is how will she ever be able to find a match for herself? Many years later Sara’s granddaughter Abby is a high priced divorced attorney. Far from the love stories she heard growing up, her parent’s brutal divorce forced her to the darker side. Abby has a cutthroat boss and fortunes of famous clients to protect. When her beloved grandmother passes away Abby devours the journals she inherited. These diaries tell a different tale, one she never knew. Learning about her grandmother’s journey to help others, Abby is forced to face her own reluctance to believe in true love. Could this gift of light possibly be hers as well? Narrated by both women, this story is a heartwarming tale of hope and I loved very single minute of it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The House Party

New Falls, Pennsylvania is a picture perfect place to live. The river runs through beautifully manicured estates and old classic farms producing the charming effect of chic small town living. Maja Jensen, a NYC gallerist and her husband Ted have taken all of their savings and are building a modern McMansion on it’s willowy shores. Construction is almost complete and they couldn’t be more excited. It’s the end of the school year and local seniors find easy access to this uninhabited home. What begins as a relatively small group of seniors getting drunk quickly spirals out of control. This magnificent home is destroyed in a violent manner. These mostly good students who are off to college in just a few months begin to weave their stories as the investigation begins. But as the DA, Jake Tillman, and Detective Murray dig deeper they find signs of a much more complicated assault, drugs and local elitism that turn the case on its head. Narrated between the rocky marriage of the Jensens, relative strangers to New Falls and the families of these teens who all appear to be hiding something. Highly recommend this unexpected page turner. It’s a miracle we made it through high school. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, December 19, 2022

The Little Book of Hygge

Hygee, pronounced hoo-gah, is the Danish concept that consists of feelings of comfort. It can include food, music, decor and all elements that affect our senses giving people a feeling of coziness, closeness, safety and contentment. Dating back to the early 1800’s this lifestyle trend has been embraced by the Danish people. But you definitely don’t have to be Danish to enjoy and benefit from living a hygge life. After learning about hygge it becomes nearly impossible to escape the images that immediately begin to form in your mind, examining your own habits that are not bringing you as much joy as they used to. Our society does not allow us the necessary time with our family and friends or even quiet time just on our own. Hygge is about living in the moment, being present and allowing yourself to enjoy simplicity. As we rush through our fast paced world working hard, acquiring as much as possible, it is no wonder anxiety and depression are at an all time high. I remember preparing to leave the house when my son was little. He was very slowly tying his shoes and looked up at me with his serious little face and asked “Mommy, are we in a rush?” I must admit, sometimes there is no choice but I bet we could all use a bit of hygge in our lives. This little easy to read book is the perfect place to start. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Better Than Fiction

Drew Young never imagined she would own and run her grandmother’s popular bookshop called the Book Nook. Having grown up in Colorado, Drew’s dream was to travel through her state’s beautiful landscapes, creating adventures and photographing the magnificent sights. After her dear grandmother passes away, Drew is left with heartache and a huge responsibility to care for the bookshop. When Jasper Williams shows up at a book club event she is breathless. Drew never expected him to be so young and so handsome. This author of romance novels leaves her unexpectedly speechless. Charming though he may be, Jasper is shocked to learn that Drew is not an avid reader. They make a deal. Drew will provide Jasper with a Colorado bucket list to assist with the setting of his latest bestseller and he will carefully introduce Drew into the world of booklovers. Let the games begin. Filled with romcom mishaps and adorable characters, this quick easy book about books is too good to put down. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Eight Nights of Flirting

There is nothing like Nantucket for the holidays. The Barbanel family have been celebrating Hanukah at their summer home on the island for generations. From Boston, NY and other surrounding cities this large group of aunts, uncles and numerous cousins descend upon their grandparents historical mansion for a week of latkes, lights and laughter. Shira Barbanel, a smart, funny, fairly innocent sixteen year old has always looked forward to this magical family holiday. This year even more excited, handsome Isaac, her great uncle’s assistant will be joining them. She arrives at the Nantucket airport on her own only to find the entire family is delayed due to bad weather. As she waits for a taxi none other than Tyler Nelson sidles up next to her. Tyler (aka former hot crush/next door neighbor who she avoids at all costs) agrees to share a ride. Shira unexpectedly reconnects with her past nemesis. He even agrees to her crazy plan. Shira will introduce Tyler to her well connected uncle for an internship and in return Tyler will teach Shira how to flirt with Isaac. Eight days and nights of perfect adorableness, the memory of my sixteen year old self enjoyed every single moment. Quick easy YA holiday story. I haven’t read too many Hanukkah romcoms so this was a treat. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Christmas Dress

After Meg’s father passes away she returns to the heart of Chicago. Facing the brutal cold and concept that she is now literally an orphan Meg arrives at Parkview apartments where all her childhood memories are hidden away, many too painful to face. Her father has left her this building, its longtime curious tenants and the many daily problems to contend with. Leaving the dazzling world of fashion behind in NYC along with her ex-boyfriend Drake has not been easy, but Meg is determined to make her father proud. Assisted by Sylvie, Ellie and handsome handyman Logan - Meg must find a way to repair and restore this crumbling historic site to its former glory. Filled with unexpected romance, friendship and even a mystery involving a magical dress - as Christmas approaches so do the miracles of the holiday season. Enjoyed and recommend this sweet and quick holiday read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Girl in Ice

Val never imagined she would find herself in the freezing cold temperatures of the Arctic, on an isolated island off the Greenland coast. She has been summoned by Wyatt, her late brother’s fellow researcher and mentor. Val can barely fathom spending time where Andy spent his last moments, endlessly wondering and worrying what they entailed. As a renowned linguist and professor of dead Nordic languages Wyatt needs her assistance with a young girl he and his team have discovered or more specifically rescued from the thick glacier. A terrified petite 8 year old that has thawed from the ice alive and speaks in a language no-one can begin to understand. Val must overcome her fear of flying, her terror of meeting new people and general panic over anything outside her rigid daily routine at the university. From the moment she arrives in this frozen tundra she feels overwhelmed with suspicion, for her brothers death and the life of the innocent girl she must save. With the assistance of a young couple set to dive these unimaginable icy waters, Jeanne - a woman who oversees the day to day of the team and erratic behavior of Wyatt, the group sets out to make sense of this mysterious phenomena. A well written, bone-chilling thriller that surprised me at every turn. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Family Game

Harry’s novel has reached the bestsellers list. Her agent and publisher are thrilled, she has finally made it. After being orphaned as a child, with little direction and minimal guidance Harry (short for Harriet) finds herself enjoying life for the first time as a successful author, recently engaged to Edward who hails from one of America’s most well known and wealthy families. After a magical introduction in London followed by a year of long distance, the couple have moved into a swanky NYC apartment while Harry writes her second novel and Ed’s successful tech company continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Seemingly perfect except for one thing. Harry’s family. The rest of the Holbeck clan will do anything to get Edward back in their firm familial grip. Initially nervous, Harry is surprised to find them welcoming and warm upon introduction. But very slowly the tides begin to change. Robert, the patriarch of the family mysteriously knows her secret past. He wants something from her future. Suddenly Harry’s novel becomes all too real, cat chasing mouse or vice versa. It is not clear who she can trust (maybe no-one?) or what lengths this powerful family will go to get exactly what they want. This fast paced psychological thriller was absolutely brilliant and I could not put it down. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️