Saturday, March 25, 2023

Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl

In New York City, a woman named Estée Lauder was busy making face creams and lotions in her small apartment. In 1938, employment was hard to come by and war was on the horizon. Her husband Joe floundered from one menial job to the next, making little and spending most of his time watching their young son, Leonard. Estée started by selling her products in small beauty parlors, giving away facials and free samples to any woman who had a moment to spare. As her product line grew so did her visions of fame and fortune. One day Estée befriends Gloria, the new shampoo girl. Younger and less assured, Estée takes Gloria under her wing and fills her with a drive and confidence she never dreamed of. Gloria grew up extremely wealthy, a pampered socialite - but when her father went to Sing Sing for a Ponzi scheme, her entire world was instantly destroyed overnight. Having changed her last name to Downing, this was a secret she would never reveal to anyone. As Estée’s products battle her rivals Revlon, Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden she remains laser focused on getting her products into Saks Fifth Avenue. Together these two brave, spirited women helped each other strive for business success and personal happiness, determined to prove women really could have it all. A fascinating work of historical fiction based on the true life story of cosmetics icon Estée Lauder. I could not put down this well written, fascinating journey back in time. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Jasmine and Jake Rock the Boat

Since childhood, Jasmine always felt she was a disappointment to her parents. Challenging teenage years and then wrong job, wrong boyfriend - wrong everything. Now, having broken up with said boyfriend, after inappropriately living together, Jasmine is reevaluating the ways her life has faltered. With a much needed break from work, she offers to accompany her parents on a South Asian community cruise to Alaska. What could be bad? She will eat, drink, catch up with childhood friends and not risk awkwardly bumping into her ex or his one night stands. The first person she spies under 50 instantly approaches her. While she thinks this handsome fellow works on the ship, he is quick to remind her she was once his babysitter, his aunt the feared town gossip. Starting off on the wrong foot, it was hard for Jasmine to accept the nerdy kid - Jake Dhillon - whom she reprimanded just graduated law school and is a total sexy hunk. To add to the comedy show of her life, it turns out the cruise is for seniors. Jake will remain the only young person for her to socialize with for ten days. The older aunties continue to circulate stories of Jasmines failures and spinster status while Jasmine and Jake's new friendship blossoms. As the consensus remains that she is too old and not good enough for this successful golden boy, the sparks begin to fly. Set sail with this laugh out loud modern day Love Boat. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Cuban Heiress

Elena Palacio lived a privileged childhood in Havana. When her parents passed away in a tragic accident Elena’s tia sent her to New York City for college. Quite a beauty and possessing a considerable inheritance, Elena is quickly scooped into the arms of a charming businessman. Now, after a tragic fire, she is thought to be dead. Catherine Dohan, a seemingly sophisticated heiress is engaged to a successful society man who pays her very little attention. Always playing the part, she is the perfectly doting girlfriend while carefully scrutinizing his every move. These two women are traveling on the SS Morro Castle from New York to Cuba.  Due to prohibition this luxury excursion has become a popular venue, providing non-stop partying and late night entertainment for the well-to-do. Elena is out for revenge. She is determined to get her daughter back and make him pay, no matter the cost. Catherine is not who she appears to be and Harry, the ship’s irresistibly handsome jewel thief quickly calls her out. As the Morro Castle crosses the Atlantic it is very clear that there is something more turbulent and sinister onboard than the stormy seas surrounding them. Filled with romance, mystery and revenge reminiscent of another time - this fast paced new novel set on an historical ship with a mysterious past is an absolute must read!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Hello Beautiful

The Padavano family lives in an old house in Pilsen, Chicago. The four beautiful daughters love each other deeply and are essential to one another’s happiness. Charlie, their meek father, recites poetry from a bar stool while their cold mother Rose rules the roost. We meet the girls in the 1980’s flashing back through memories of their childhood and experiences they’ve shared as sisters. Julia, the eldest is the rule follower and leader who makes her way to Northwestern University on scholarship determined to set the world on fire. Next in line is Sylvie who has worked at the library since she was 13 and lives inside the novels she adores. Cecelia displays her artistic talents at a young age while her twin Emeline is the nurturing caretaker of the group. In college Julia meets handsome William, an extremely tall, shy basketball player. She is instantly attracted to realize he is malleable to all of her wishes and plans, her dreams becoming his. They marry after graduation bringing William - who is essentially alone in the world - into their boisterous family. When severe depression overtakes William a short while later, the sisters tight knit world begins to unravel. As adults each Padavano woman searches for her rightful place in the world while everything familiar is painfully dismantling. I tried not to read too much about this uber hyped novel before I began. Overall the writing is as beautiful as  touted but this novel dragged on for much too long. The entire second half was repetitiveness that reflected back to the past unnecessarily. I was entranced by the love and chaos of these sisters but a reader should NEVER be wishing for a book to end - and I was. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️