Thursday, June 29, 2023

Go As A River

In the 1940’s Victoria (Torie) Nash is just a teenager. She lives with her aging father, mean spirited brother and angry uncle on a 47 acre well known peach farm in Iola, Colorado. Every day is the same routine. Waking before the sun, working hard all day and knowing exactly when it is time to pick the peaches. After her Mother and Aunt die in a horrible accident, Torie finds herself the only woman on this isolated rambling farm, spending every moment amongst the men; cooking, cleaning and caring for the peaches. One day retrieving some items from the general store in town, Torie meets a Native American drifter called Wilson Moon. He is the first person to show Torie interest and kindness. He is beautiful and she feels an immediate sense of peace spending time with him. When nosey racist neighbors and her brother suspect her special friendship, Wilson disappears. For years Torie fights the demons and guilt of their relationship. In the end it is the peaches that take her away, the peaches that save her life. Through the gorgeous descriptions of the rugged valleys and mountains of Colorado, Torie learns to finally forgive herself as she never stops searching for love. Truly hard to imagine this is a debut novel, simply beautiful. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Guest

A summer out on Long Island is for the privileged few. Getting out of the stifling hot city Alex, a twenty two year old grifter follows her latest boyfriend Simon to his fancy house for a stay. At first Simon, an older successful man, seems like the perfect catch. He buys Alex new clothes and trinkets so she can fit in with his pretentious friends. One wrong move has Simon kicking her to the curb. Her latest plan is to use her few connections to string out the days until Labor Day weekend and show up at Simons big party so she can get back in his good graces. But Alex is complicated. She is truly alone in the world. Alex lies, steals and takes way too many pills. On the one hand she appears to be a character purely searching for attention and just trying to survive. On the other hand she repeatedly makes really bad decisions and has little care for the consequences of her actions. She is smart and resourceful and at the same time careless with no regard for societal rules. To say I enjoyed this read would be misleading but I definitely could not put it down. If you like grifter type stories, this may be the beach read for you! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Flirting with Fire

Almost 50 years old, Margot Hughes finds herself living back in the charming California beach town in which she was raised. After spending the last 25 years as an actress in NYC performing and traveling in live theater, she now desires a more peaceful, quiet existence that may or may not feel rather lonely. Her father is nearby and she has a small group of caring friends. Mainly her boss/mentor Sally keeps her busy and happy while teaching her the real estate ropes. When Sally has a medical mishap a man named Max flies in to make sure she is okay. Margot is in charge of getting him settled while Sally is in the hospital. Max Russo turns out to be a well known, extremely handsome actor that has the office girls and the entire town in an uproar. As Margot is a professional, she remains calm and cool, and it doesn’t take long for the two to get roped in to help with Sally’s community theater project of Barefoot in the Park. Margot walked away from all of that years ago and it takes no small amount of manipulation to convince her to join the performance. Max is a pro, he is on a summer break from his current show and would do anything for Sally who helped raise him. This third installment of a trilogy by author Jane Porter can easily be read alone. Later in life romance, following your heart and theater love. This one is an easy breezy summer readsy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Adelaide

As a twenty something young woman living abroad in London, Adelaide would appear to have the world at her fingertips. She is smart and attractive, has a great group of friends and caring family back home in Brooklyn. As her graduate courses are coming to an and, Adelaide has a job offer and is moving into her very own apartment. Although she should be ecstatic, a soft gray cloud seems to hover over her happiness. And then she meets Rory and she is instantly smitten. Rory is handsome and intelligent and she cannot get enough of him. At first busy with school and work and moving, it is easy for Adelaide to control her natural  inclination to overcompensate when it comes to relationships. The giving and nurturing is part of her DNA, but she can be a lot. Rory seems to come and go. Adelaide doesn’t intend to push too hard as his romantic history is still unclear. But more often than not, he doesn’t reciprocate. For over a year and a half the push pull of their relationship is quite exhausting and Adelaide starts to fade. She is not flourishing at work and certainly not caring for herself at all. Her extreme insecurity leads her down a dangerous path. This read can feel very dark but its also scary real. Is it abuse or unrequited young love gone awry? Much of our wisdom is gained slowly over time and growth. It is only upon reflection that we can say - If only I knew then what I know now. Friendship, romance and mental health, this is a solid good debut novel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Lady Tan's Circle of Women

Tan Yunxian is a child when her beautiful mother passes away and she is sent to be raised by her paternal grandparents. As her important father travels to work for the imperial dynasty, her grandmother decides to prepare Yunxian to be a female doctor, as she herself is famously known. She loves learning and her grandmother becomes the center of her entire world. Yunxian is devastated when she is eventually matched for marriage and has to leave the familial home. As the women do as they are told and rarely leave the compound, she desperately misses her family and true best friend, Meiling, daughter of the midwife. In the Garden of Fragrant Delights Yunxian is lonely and must conceal her special talents to be the elite wife that her mother-in-law expects. Always yearning for the freedom to care for others while she awaits having the son that is expected of her, Yunxian finds subtle ways to treat the numerous women in their home and teach her daughters the traditions they adhere to. This magnificent work of historical fiction takes the reader to the Ming Dynasty during the 15th century. This novel is about friendship, family and motherhood and shines a light loosely based on a true story of a remarkable female physician practicing Chinese medicine. It is not a quick read but it is beautifully written and a fascinating part of history.  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

None of This is True

Josie Fair is celebrating her 45th birthday. She and her much older husband Walter have dinner at a chic London pub, not their typical fare. Nearby is a large boisterous group of people also celebrating a woman’s birthday. The birthday woman is beautiful and sophisticated and Josie cannot stop staring. They coincidentally wind up in the loo at the same time and Josie introduces herself. Immediately announcing that they are birthday twins and it turns out - born at the very same hospital. Josie begins a little innocent online stalking of this perfect woman named Alix Summer who has a very successful podcast with a large following. She gets the idea in her head that Alix should do a podcast about her life. Josie thinks it is time to be truthful with the world and her birthday has prompted her to reveal the dark secrets that have been lurking since the day she met her much older husband. Josie quickly reappears and smoothly persuades Alix to the podcast idea. She immerses herself fully into Alix’s daily life and her psyche. Alix admits things are not as perfect in the Summer home as they appear. As the women work on “Hi! I’m Your Birthday Twin!” podcast their power struggle for who is in charge of the narrative becomes apparent. Alix gets pulled deeper and deeper into this horrifyingly dysfunctional family and no longer knows who is telling the truth. Unable to let go, Alix tries her best to complete the podcast as the race to the finish line becomes deadly. This page turner is full of unexpected plot twists and turns at every chapter. It moves really fast and is an addictive summer thriller! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Same Time Next Summer

Sam loves her eclectic parents but her fiancé Jack can only tolerate their “artsy fartsy” ways in small doses. As artists/teachers they live in Manhattan and spend summers at their longtime Long Island beach house. Sam cherished her idyllic summers spent there when she was a kid. Back then, as the youngest of the group she was shy and often on her own until she met the boy next door, Wyatt. His family also summered at the beach and the two became inseparable. As the years passed Sam and Wyatt fell in love. First time romance can be hard on the heart, especially when it ends without closure. Over a decade later Sam and Jack venture out to the beach house searching for the perfect wedding venue. With their lives and schedules perfectly organized, Sam and Jack are rather rigid compared to beach life and hippie habits of mom and dad. Already nervous about the outcome, Sam is shocked when she hears guitar music coming from next door. After all these years Wyatt is back. She never imagined seeing him again after he moved to California. She never thought her heart would beat so loudly. Maybe she needs closure to go forward with the wedding. Maybe she still has feelings for her first love. As Sam painstakingly selects every detail for her wedding, the real question haunts her -  is she marrying the right guy. This read is quick and fun. It does not have the sharp wit of Nora Goes Off Script but its a solid, sweet beach read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

All That is Mine I Carry With Me

In November 1975 a young girl named Miranda Larkin comes home from school as usual. She has a snack and watches some television. It is not until darkness that she begins to worry. Normally, her mother Jane would be home to greet her. If she was running late, she would still have been home by dinner. When her father Dan and brothers, Alex and Jeff arrive panic sets in. This is the beginning of a mystery that will haunt this family and one particular policeman named Detective Glover, for decades to come. Dan Larkin is a high profile criminal defense attorney. He has dealt with some shady characters in his time. When he is questioned by the police it is immediately apparent that he is quite familiar and comfortable with these procedures. Dan calmly has an answer for everything. Suspicions run high but without a body and little evidence the case runs cold. For years the family is distraught. It doesn’t take long for Dan to bring home a very beautiful girlfriend. Alex is off to college and also becomes a successful lawyer. Jeff and Miranda never recover. When bones are discovered two decades later, Jane’s sister pursues a civil complaint and the family is further divided. Grabbing you from the very first page, this suspenseful, twisted tale is an unputdownable page turner. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, June 16, 2023

Yellowface

June and Athena attended Yale together. They weren’t exactly best friends but shared the same dorm and had a few classes together, as they both were set to be writers. Some years later they find themselves in Washington DC. While June had one low profile book published to a minimal audience, tall beautiful Athena Liu had bestseller after bestseller, this Asian-American author became a media sensation. It has always bewildered June why a woman of these credentials would want to be her friend but to her surprise Athena makes a concerted effort to maintain the relationship. Secretly filled with jealousy, June cannot resist sharing even a moment of Athena’s radiant spotlight. One evening after way too many drinks the women find themselves in Athena’s fancy apartment. After a shocking accident, Athena is dead. June has witnessed this horrific tragedy. She also witnessed Athena’s latest manuscript - which she swore no-one had read yet - on the desk. June swipes this latest unfinished masterpiece and calls 911. She completes the novel and edits upon edits, she makes it her own. Her agent creates a frenzy of interest. The novel shoots to the top of the bestsellers list and now Athena’s ghost is stalking her. People talk and the talk goes viral. June must decide how far she can take these fabricated explanations and accolades. Yellowface is a completely unique story told in first person about diversity, racism, cultural expectations and the horrors of viral misinformation and viscous social media mob mentality. I could not put this one down. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Seven Year Slip

Clementine finds a handsome man with an adorable Southern accent standing in her new apartment. Initially frightened and completely confused, Clementine realizes the apartment she inherited from her aunt is truly haunted. She develops a crush on this hot chef named Iwan (pronounced EE-WAN) and they spend a magical weekend together. When she leaves Monday morning to go to work, he is gone. Her extraordinary aunt always told her the apartment had special powers but since she was a little girl Clementine truly believed these were just stories! Her aunt with whom she traveled the world and traded secrets was the love of her life and for the last year Clementine has deeply mourned her passing. Her dream job at the publishing house has lost its luster and her love life - nonexistent. As the summer in NYC approaches she is entranced by the idea that Iwan could reappear at any moment. There are two problems; she doesn’t know when and has realized Iwan exists seven years in the past. In this delicious romcom the saying couldn’t be more true, timing really is everything. This quirky, delightful romance is simply perfect for the beach this summer! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

The Drowning Woman

Lee Gulliver is living in her car. Lee has always worked hard and never in a million years imagined herself being homeless, but here she is in her Toyota Corolla across the country in Seattle, far from everyone and everything she has ever known. Her restaurant failed miserably and her family has all but disowned her. Lee has no-one except herself to depend on and she is determined to survive. Working under the radar at a greasy diner Lee dreads the late night hours when there is nowhere to hide. Danger lurks around every corner. She decides it is safer to start parking (sleeping) in an upscale neighborhood near the beach. Early one morning she hears a woman crying and witnesses her going under the ocean and not coming up. Lee jumps in and drags her to safety. The water is frigid and as the women sit quietly under a blanket to warm up they begin an unexpected friendship. Hazel confides in Lee about her abusive husband and the trapped life she can no longer endure. She would rather be dead. Once Hazel establishes that Lee is harmless but down on her luck she begins to bring her treats and little items to make her more comfortable. Establishing a strange feeling of debt for helping one another, Lee is shocked when Hazel asks for help to get away from her husband. Hazel plans to disappear. Absolutely loved my first twisted thriller of the summer! This page turner had me on the edge of my beach chair! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

First Ladies

Mary McLeod Bethune is the daughter of once enslaved parents. She was one of the few born free as the fifteenth of seventeen children in a rustic log cabin in South Carolina. When a teacher in her small country schoolhouse recognized her extraordinary intelligence she helped Mary get a scholarship for a much higher level of education. Leaving home alone at a very young age Mary continued to shine at one institution after another. Ultimately, Mary founded a school for girls (later to become Bethune-Cookman University) in Daytona Beach, Florida. She selflessly sacrificed her entire life fighting for civil rights, equality and women. On first glance Eleanor Roosevelt couldn’t be more different, yet when the two women meet they are instantly two peas in a pod. Their goals and shared beliefs coincide on every level. Even though Eleanor hails from one of the most prominent and wealthy families in America, she has experienced her share of sadness and loss. She feels an immediate connection to Mary and their friendship blossoms. Eleanor is onboard with Mary’s struggle for equal rights and what begins as just a whisper in Franklin’s ears become groundbreaking speeches she makes for all to hear. Their agenda places Mary in Federal positions of questionable power but with Eleanor at her side the world cannot ignore her resourceful nature. Through decades of disappointments and amazing triumphs Mary and Eleanor never lose their faith or their beautiful connection as friends, as women, as humans. This latest work of historical fiction by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray is a powerful and inspiring journey you do not want to miss! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️