Monday, March 20, 2023

In a New York Minute

When Franny Doyle arrives at her busy Manhattan office she is summoned to the conference room. Never a good sign, after four faithful years as an interior designer she is laid off due to severe cutbacks. In complete shock Franny fills a small box with her meager belongings and heads to the suffocatingly hot subway. Her pretty summer dress is caught in the doors as they close and rips straight through the back. As good Samaritans are rarely found in NY, (let alone on the subway!) a charming and handsome man comes to her rescue. Crying, sweating and now wrapped in his Gucci suit jacket Franny makes her way home. Of course every passenger has their phone out and this subway meet cute goes viral. The strangers become the latest social media sensation. When the local news show picks up the story Franny and Hayes Montgomery III (of course!) unite on the popular morning show and with much awkwardness Franny thanks her knight and expects that to be the end of these shenanigans. Frustrated, jobless and questioning all of her life choices Franny continues bumping into Hayes in this magical big/small city. Despite the difficulties of being single in the city, sparks fly throughout this adorable and steamy love letter to Manhattan. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Last Lifeboat

In 1940 Alice King is what most would call a spinster. At thirty years old she remained in her childhood home with her overbearing mother in the small village of Kent. By trade a teacher and librarian, Alice’s world shrunk even smaller as war and threats from Germany worsened. Alice wanted to do something meaningful with her life. She dreamed of making a difference as if she were a character in one of the books she cherished. When an opportunity arose to chaperone children being evacuated to Canada - Alice signs up. At the same time Lily Nichols, recently traumatized by the loss of her husband had two small children in London. The bombings had them trapped uncomfortably in shelters for hours, their uncertain futures terrifying even to the bravest souls. When the “seavacuees” program was offered, Lily could not resist the chance to spare her son and daughter the dangers that lurked nightly. Alice was to be their “auntie” on the S.S. Carlisle. What started as an adventure at sea turns into a nightmare when the ship is torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat. Inspired by a true story, this spellbinding novel is filled with stormy seas and unparalleled bravery. Well written, fast paced and highly recommended. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Her Lost Words

Mary Wollstonecraft was a British writer, philosopher and one of the very first to advocate openly for women’s rights in the late 1700’s. After leaving home and a violent alcoholic father Mary found trust in one London publisher who introduced Mary and her work to the literary world at large, a closed door to women at the time. Experiencing poverty, pregnancy out of wedlock and Paris’s Reign of Terror Mary Wollstonecraft, way ahead of her time, spent her short life championing education and equality for women. Mary Shelley, celebrated author of Frankenstein, never knew her mother but discovered a lifetime of guidance through her intelligent and often scandalous words. She grew up craving her father’s attention and fell in love with Percy Shelley, a poet who turned her world upside down. Mother and daughter express their philosophical thoughts and emotions through pen and paper at a time when women had virtually no voice or vote, when women were completely dependent on their male counterparts. Mary and Mary both led extremely uncommon and unconventional lives that were criticized and often dangerous but slowly forced change within their conformist society. Narrated through their personal loves and professional endeavors we travel back in time to understand and witness these trailblazing women whose shoulders we now stand on. Highly recommend this easy to read compelling work of historical fiction. I learned so much! Perfect for Women’s History Month! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Ruby Spencer's Whiskey Year

At thirty-five Ruby Spencer packs up her NYC life as a food writer and moves to a teeny tiny town called Thistlecross in the Scottish Highlands. Her free spirit parents believe in her adventure and her best friend applauds her independence and bravery. But once she lands in the cozy little cottage she will call home for the next year, her confidence along with her luggage seems to be missing. Luckily her agreement to help out with cooking at the local pub is an excellent way to meet the eccentric characters that fill the town and most importantly the sexy bearded handyman who is charged with fixing up her accommodations. As their friendship grows Ruby’s once closed heart is open for the very first time in a long while. The walls she built after each and every ridiculous break up slowly come down and Brochan and Ruby can’t keep their hands off each other. But as her place in the community starts to become more than just a fantasy her initial cookbook proposal is rejected and the town is about to experience disaster. Feeling at home for the first time Ruby struggles to find a way to save her career, her love life and the town in one fell swoop. This absolutely delicious romance is a quick, completely entertaining read filled with food, friendship and the notion that there is a big world out there and Mr. Right may be waiting. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Stars in an Italian Sky

In 1946 WWII has finally come to an end. Giovanna, along with her rebellious sister and father return to Genoa to rebuild their family’s tailor shop. One day Vincenzo, the son of a powerful and wealthy family walks into the shop for a small repair. Vincenzo and Giovanna are immediately attracted to one another and slowly begin their secret romance. They are from two different classes and his family would never approve. Since Vincenzo’s brother died during the war, he is now the heir that will someday run the family vineyards and finances, destroying any dream of being an artist. Present day Cassandra and Luca are in love and planning their wedding. Living in NYC Cassandra manages a fashion company and Luca is an up and coming artist in the gallery scene. One day Luca’s grandfather is visiting from Italy and Luca persuades him to pose with Cassandra’s beloved 92 year old grandmother for a special series he is creating. When the past comes crashes down around them, the entire family is immersed in painful memories. If this synopsis sounds overly simplified that’s because it is. Even though it nicely captured the enjoyable elements of Italy, NY, art, and wine along with handsome characters, the build up is so elementary - he wore, she said - over and over again that the reader feels little desire or despair towards any outcome or resolution. It’s fine, quietly okay - but does not contain an ounce of the heightened emotions we experienced in the The Light We Lost. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, February 20, 2023

Foster


After attending Sunday Mass an unnamed young girl is driven by her father through the beautiful Irish countryside to the home of distant relatives she has never met. The girl’s mother is about to give birth to yet another baby and the girl is to be looked after by the Kinsellas. Upon arrival with barely a glance her father quickly departs and she bashfully faces these tall strangers. Helping Edna in the home while the man works outside becomes not a chore but a comforting routine where the girl receives gentle instructions and basks in this newfound attention. As the girl senses this affection her eyes open wide to the world around her. She slowly becomes comfortable and is surprised by emotions she has never experienced. The girl doesn’t know how long she will be staying with these lovely people but starts to think it would be okay if she never left.  As if someone is gently lulling you to sleep this novella is whispered in your ear. A small book with a big impact, words chosen so carefully it didn’t need one more page. This award winning Irish author is not to be missed. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, February 19, 2023

All the Broken Places

Gretel Fernsby mostly keeps to herself. A widow, she is 91 and lives a quiet, simple life in the London apartment she has resided in for more than 60 years. Her neighbor Heidi is a lovely woman, slightly younger suffering from dementia and her son Caden’s visits are mostly to announce the status of his multitude of marriages with number four approaching. When a new family moves into the grand apartment building Gretel becomes surprisingly curious of the 9 year old boy who reminds her of the name she will not mention. Gretel has spent all her life in hiding. The many surnames she has taken and places she has lived while silently suffering from memories of the place she will not name. Haunted by her lost father, a high ranking Nazi officer that did unspeakable things during one of the most terrifying times the world has ever witnessed, Gretel has lived and tried in vain to find an ending she deserved. Consumed with shame and always fearing consequences of being discovered - at this late stage in life she is simply exhausted and outrun by her own ghosts. When the little boy downstairs named Henry threads his way into her heart she learns he is in danger and can no longer be a bystander. Narrated by Gretel’s past and present, this sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas explores guilt, punishment and the possibility of living with extraordinary grief. This Dublin born, Irish author challenges the reader through the very last chapter to decide for themselves. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Woman with the Cure

In the 1940’s and 1950’s the world is battling the horrific poliovirus. A virus that spreads quickly paralyzing and often killing it victims. Doctors do not know how it spreads or how it enters the body. They do not know how to prevent, cure or eradicate this virus. As summers go by with children locked in their homes, terrified parents will do anything to protect them. Teams of scientists are in labs across the globe researching and testing a multitude of theories. Dr. Dorothy Horstmann was a child of immigrants. She clawed her way thru medical school and residency. At 6’1” Dorothy is a tall tale, as most who meet her are quick to state. She is also one of the precious few women working in medicine and specifically epidemiology. Unlike many of her famous colleagues, Dorothy’s gentle bedside manner extends to everyone. She is not searching for an award, fame or money, she only wants to save people. It took years for scientists to recognize her research of poliovirus in the human bloodstream which enabled the vaccine that was ultimately created. Her humble personality and brilliant mind led her to the team at Yale where Dorothy worked tirelessly, putting her personal life second to the disease. The race for a cure overrode war, politics, funding and notoriety. This unsung hero is not a household name but Dorothy’s contributions and dedication changed our world. This exquisite work of historical fiction is both educational and inspiring. Dr. Dorothy Horstmann will not be forgotten. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Second Season

Back in the day Ruth Devon was a superstar on the Georgetown Basketball team.The day she injured her knee she thought her days on the court were over. But her love of the game never faltered. She fell in love and married her coach, Lester and found a career as a first rate sideline sports reporter on radio and TV. With her athletic build, pretty blonde hair and encyclopedic knowledge of basketball, Ruth became a household name - someone men, women and players could relate to. Twenty years later she is divorced, her 18 year old daughter has begun a questionable modeling career and her handsome younger boyfriend wants to get married. Ruth is only sure of one thing. Lester has just announced his retirement from the announcer’s booth and she wants his seat. She can easily imagine two Ruths. One driving an SUV with a bunch of kids in the back and the other as the first woman announcer on a major network. Ruth finds herself painfully torn between the two loves of her life; family and basketball. With intense drive and a little resentment it is unfathomable to Ruth that a woman couldn’t possibly have it all. As fast paced as an NBA finals, this play-by-play second chance romance is a slam dunk. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, February 6, 2023

Gray Hair Don't Care

Lela Bennett never imagined she would see Donovan James again. After graduation her hunky college best friend/crush got married and their incredible connection seemingly disappeared. At 47 years old, a successful make up artist in NYC and recently divorced Lela has just begun to heal and plan her future. Of all the scenarios in the world, she never expected to bump into Donovan on a crowded city street, spend the evening together and go back to her place to finally having the big o she always deserved. After being a little too open and honest she wakes to find herself alone and is fiercely determined to start this next chapter of her life on her own terms. Lela starts her a beauty company and lets her hair return to it’s natural stunning silver, embracing her age and independence. Three years later her business is thriving and has been acquired by a huge conglomerate. Marketing guru Donovan James is unexpectedly back in her life again! Intent on keeping their relationship strictly business is not easy as sparks between these two begin to fly. Finding love later in life can be a challenge when you carry the past on your shoulders. Loved this easy to read romance with sexy mature characters. Like any bottle of hair color, age is just a number. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Making of Her

Growing up in Dublin in the 1960’s was not easy for someone like Joan. After losing her mother at a young age, she did everything in her power to hold the family together. Her Da barely worked and mostly drank and her younger siblings needed more care than she could provide. Slowly all but her sister Teresa were sent away for adoption. Working in the local candy factory left little for Joan to look forward to day in and day out. No hope on the horizon. Until the one day she meets Martin. Handsome, smart and sweet but completely out of her league, Joan cannot take her eyes off the young man. Martin’s meddling mother makes their lives unbearable and their secret dalliance leads to the biggest regret of Joan’s life. Many years later Joan is confronted with her past and the truth that has been haunting her dreams for decades must finally come out of the closet. Narrated between life in the 60’s and the 90’s, this heartbreaking novel is filled with the struggles of class, marriage and motherhood as Joan contemplates if it is too late to set things right. Well written debut novel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, January 30, 2023

The Social Climber

The day Eliza Bennett has been waiting for is actually happening. Their wedding weekend bags are packed and private flight to Vermont awaits their arrival. Graham Walker is a catch. Born into a wealthy and powerful family, he is charming, handsome and a Yale graduate - the full package. And he knows it. Graham loves Eliza. He loves the life they are creating and having this beautiful woman by his side is everything he ever wanted, or so he thinks. Eliza grew up in a severely religious home receiving little love or warmth - ever. She escaped by finding her way to an Evangelical college - offering only slightly more freedom than home - but with far more to experience than the gloomy abusive farm that raised her. After completely reinventing herself Eliza moves to NYC and weasels her way into an elite PR agency, quickly learning how the other half lives. Mimicking her wealthy co-worker Lena, Eliza imitates every detail necessary to fit into Graham’s world. Each step forward bringing her closer to the big day, her wedding day. Narrated in dual timelines, this absolute page turner was full speed ahead from the very start. Unexpected twists and turns keeps the reader guessing until the grand finale. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Reunion

For 6 years teen drama Girl on the Verge was the hottest series on tv and its stars were shining bright. Twenty years later the producers have organized a reunion episode dragging its cast back onto the stage. Many continued acting but few reached the stardom GOV provided. Liv Latimer grew up on television and her late father was a famous actor. When GOV finished she fled off the grid for years only to reappear in select indie films and projects. Her performance always impeccable, her professionalism never questioned. Now older and wiser she finds herself back on the set she grew up on, facing Ransom Joel her former best friend and love that broke her heart. Navigating this new/old role as an adult is beautiful and painful. Reuniting with friends and feelings she long ago buried is not easy. Liv cannot fathom why she and Ransom lost touch. She cannot understand how their chemistry did not transfer on and off the big screen. She realizes it is time to finally find out the long awaited answers. We have all watched long running series that seem so real. Are their performances that good? Or maybe The Reunion is not far fetched at all and these on screen romances began behind the camera. Loved this easily imagined fast paced read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, January 23, 2023

The House of Eve

Ruby Pearsall is a 15 year old girl in 1950’s Philadelphia. An excellent student, Ruby was chosen to be part of the WE RISE program - to assist underprivileged students with post high school plans. Ruby dreams of becoming an Ophthalmologist so she can help her beloved grandma get her sight back. Her mother has kicked her out again, and she is staying with Aunt Marie who is a tough gal with a loving heart. Laser focused on studying Ruby is rarely sidetracked but when she meets Shimmy, the landlords white, Jewish son she experiences butterflies she never felt before. History repeats itself when Ruby, like her own mother becomes a pregnant teenager. Mortified, Shimmy’s mother arranges for Ruby to go to a home for unwed mothers in DC, promising her the WE RISE scholarship when she returns. In DC we meet Eleanor and William, both students at Howard University. Lovely, smart and hardworking, they meet in the library and quickly fall head over heels. But Eleanor is not good enough for William Pride’s snooty parents. Professionals and leaders of the Washington elite Black families, William’s mother does everything in her power to break the couple apart while Eleanor tries her best to fit in. Two young women find themselves desperately trying to succeed in a world that often seems determined to destroy them. Filled with poverty, adoption, abuse, and discrimination - it is clear that 70 years later we still battle these very same challenges. This powerful, heartbreaking story of motherhood will be with you long after the last page. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Violin Conspiracy

Playing the violin is everything to Ray McMillian. Having grown up in small town North Carolina, Ray’s musical passion was not encouraged. Not by his contemptuous mother, apathetic music teacher at the local racist high school or his overdemanding aunts and uncles. The only person in Ray’s life to champion his dreams is his gentle and kind Grandma Nora. One holiday when the family is gathered at her ramshackle home in Georgia, Nora reminds Ray he got his musical talent from her Pop Pop, who played the fiddle as a boy on a plantation where their family was enslaved. She allows Ray to search for the fiddle in the attic and later gifts it to him. While no-one shows much interest, the old relic allows Ray to improve his skills at school and prepare for an upcoming regional competition. At the event Dr. Janice Stevens offers him a full college music scholarship to a small university. Four years later he outplays and outshines every other musician. With the mentorship and generosity of Janice - Ray has a brilliant career ahead. After repairing his beloved “fiddle” they discover that is is a priceless Stradivarius. The family immediately sees dollar signs and another family who owned his Pop Pop thinks the instrument is theirs. A month before the most important international competition in the world, the violin disappears. This novel is filled with magnificent characters, rampant discrimination and family ties that cannot be broken. Days after finishing Ray is still heavily on my mind. Turn on some classical music and let this mystery of history take you away. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, January 20, 2023

Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man

New York City, 1950. Viviana Valentine is well known as an efficient and faithful assistant. But she is not your typical girl friday. Her boss, dreamboat Tommy Fortuna, is a top private investigator and she is his diligent sidekick, uncovering evidence and piecing together puzzles he cannot figure out. Even though these handsome hound dogs, better known as the local coppers treat her with kid gloves, Viviana’s rough and tumble background prepared her for even the surliest scoundrels. When Tommy takes on the wealthy Tallmadge Blackstone as a client, Viviana immediately senses trouble. His daughter Tallulah is a tabloid darling - beautiful, fashionable and sought after by every photographer. When their office is broken into and Tommy disappears, Viviana befriends Tallulah in an effort to put a kibosh on the bad guys. If Tallulah refuses to marry the old man her pops betrothed her to - then how will she become the heir to his dynasty? With the help of her best girlfriends from the boarding house Viviana sets out to solve the mystery and maybe save Tommy at the same time. Clearly set in the vernacular of 1950’s NYC, this adorable whodunit was an absolute page turner. Like watching an old movie come to life; the clothes, romance, food and social behaviors of the time was simply coolsville! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Yours Truly

Briana’s divorce is days from being finalized. Her brother’s kidneys are failing and he anxiously awaits a donor match. Her promotion to be lead ER doctor at the hospital she has dedicated herself to for the last decade has been postponed. Anything else? Oh, right, Briana is living in the crumbling home she grew up in with ugly shag carpet and childhood posters staring her down. In walks Dr. Jacob Maddox. He just transferred from Memorial West, is ridiculously handsome and out for HER promotion. One mishap after another has Briana and her staff keeping as far away as possible from Dr. Death aka the new guy. Until one day Jacob writes Briana a letter. In pen! On Paper! Jacob has been misunderstood. His severe panic attacks keep him at arms length, prevent him from the typical social interactions one might expect. He is smart and warm and kind to the patients and in no way wants Briana’s job, although he is beginning to enjoy her attention. Jacob has recently suffered his own horrible uncoupling. He now needs a pretend girlfriend for an upcoming wedding to get his meddlesome family off his back. They begin a shockingly easy friendship. Briana calms him, understands him. Jacob makes her feel safe. While neither could have imagined a new relationship so soon after heartbreak they may be the solution to both their problems. Wonderful romcom filled with adorable characters and an abundance of life lessons. This follow up to Part of Your World is a spring must read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Exes and O's

Tara Chen has had no luck with men. Most recently her (ex)fiancĂ© called off their wedding. After months of sadness camped out at her sister’s house, she is swapping places with Crystal’s soon to be husband. From the moment Tara arrives at her new apartment she knows she is in trouble. Trevor Metcalfe is a beyond handsome hunk firefighter with a string of one night stands every day of the week. Trying to get out of her own funk Tara, aka the romance queen online, takes her book loving followers to the next level. She challenges herself with her favorite trope - second chance romance. Desperate for love and a date for the Valentine’s Gala at the hospital where she works, Tara compiles a list of her ten great loves that broke her heart. One by one she searches for each guy, some she hasn’t seen since her playground days but as her grandma always said, men get better with age. At the same time while keeping an arm’s length (or more) from Mr. Hot Roommate, Trevor becomes her sounding board helping Tara reel back her clingy tendency so as not to scare away every one of her potentials. Their growing connection “as friends” (wink wink) is perfect while Tara tears apart the list one victim at a time. BIG HUGE laugh out loud romcom, I adored every single page of this addictive page turner. *Note - I didn’t know this was #2 in The Influencer series and I didn’t read #1. Exes and O’s can definitely stand alone!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, January 9, 2023

Ms. Demeanor

This book is really funny. I had to lead with that because I was smiling and laughing the entire read! Jane Morgan is a 39 year old attorney at a prestigious firm in NYC. While having a few drinks with an associate on her apartment building’s rooftop, these two consenting adults have some moonlight sex. Next thing Jane knows the police are knocking at her door and she is arrested. A nearby building with a peeping tom was apparently traumatized - while recording - this public display of affection. The ridiculousness of the entire escapade lands Jane in court representing herself. Unfortunately the judge did not find any of it funny. Fired for relations with her employee, license suspended by the NY bar and most jarring - 6 months of house arrest. Her identical twin sister, a successful dermatologist tries everything in her power to keep Jane busy and productive during this home confinement. As she learns to manage her new life Jane befriends a fellow felon living in the building (ankle bracelet giving his identity away). An avid cook, Jane is hired to make meals for this handsome but reserved neighbor who orders food 7 days a week. As their chemistry starts to sizzle Jane wonders if there may be a bright side to being stuck home. The fun doesn’t stop there as Jane becomes obsessed with the bizarre circumstances following the snitch, post trial. Thoroughly enjoyed this amazing cast of quirky characters! Highly recommend! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Winterland

In the Soviet Union in 1973 Anya was just a little girl with a dream. At eight years old they finally knocked on her door. Would it be ballet or gymnastics? With the help of her father she prepares and is selected for the local sports school to become a gymnast. Anya is a determined little girl. Their family lives in a remote mining village called Norilsk in Siberia. She wants to be the best to represent her country and help her family. Their grim and grueling life has many hardships. Food is scarce, the weather is bitter and her mother, a once famous ballerina,  mysteriously disappeared three years ago. The only teeny tiny bit of light in Anya’s life is her neighbor Vera. An old wizened woman who spent many years in the Gulag offers Anya the warmth and love she is so desperate to win. Her competitive nature comes from within and throughout her gymnastics journey she never stops reaching for more. The reader can feel the biting wind and below Arctic temperatures along with the physical stamina and unimaginable training both mentally and physically that these young women must endure. This novel takes the reader vividly back to some of the most infamous years of gymnastics and life in the U.S.S.R. Mesmerizing detail and a wonderful array of characters. This superb story is a must read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Someone Else's Shoes

Samantha Kemp, an average London middle aged woman finally finds the time to use the gym pass her teenage daughter has given her. Out of shape and a little intimidated she manages a swim and as she is changing in the locker room her work team alerts that she is late for a critical meeting and they are waiting outside. Quickly grabbing the nearest gym duffle she hurries out to the van and it is too late when she realizes she grabbed the wrong bag. In need of shoes on her feet she has no choice but wear this strangers apparel which happen to be bright red 6 inch Christian Louboutin heels, you know the ones with the red bottom that cost a gazillion dollars. Initially intimidated and barely able to walk Sam does wonderfully in a succession of sales calls and deems the shoes good luck. At the same time Nisha (the bag’s rightful owner) is left with Sam’s old duffle and worn out pair of black flats. Furious, Nisha has a lot more to be angry about. When she returns to the penthouse hotel where she is staying with her husband of 18 years she is speedily kicked to the curb with literally nothing. She has witnessed her powerful rich husband Carl destroy others but never imagined (well, maybe just a little) that it could happen to her. Two very different women struggling with one disaster after another become entangled in their common struggle to survive. What started out as funny and light became increasingly repetitive. By the end I could not wait to get off this unimaginable and completely ridiculous roller coaster. Will never stop reading this author but sadly this one is barely like not love. ⭐️⭐️