Thursday, November 30, 2023

Recipe for Second Chances

Stella Park is an associate editor at a fancy gourmet magazine. She has a passion for all things food and two fabulous best friends, one of whom is getting married. Samuel Gordon, a lawyer, is the grooms best friend and Stella’s one that got away. Stella and Sam had a whirlwind romance during college that ended very badly and they haven’t seen each other since. Although that feels like a lifetime ago Stella has not forgotten the pain of her sisters divorce and the promise she made to protect her heart at all costs. Still single - by choice! - it has been nine long years and Stella never felt that special spark again. She wouldn’t dare let anyone get close enough to even try. And then there is Sam - a guest at the wedding that she didn’t expect to see in the beautiful Italian countryside - looking more handsome than ever. Stella was terrified then and she is terrified now. Every look from Sam turns her stomach upside down. Dancing, eating and drinking their way through this romantic venue is too much to resist. Maybe she can keep trying this one particular recipe until it comes out just right. Delectable, mouthwatering cuisine and a huge Indian/Italian wedding with all the traditional trimmings is a rollercoaster of fun and laughter. Fabulous debut author who needs no introduction as she is already a well known cookbook author and TV personality. Reading and eating, sounds perfect to me! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Recipe for a Charmed Life

Running her own kitchen in Paris has been Georgia’s goal since she was ten years old. As a little girl, desperately lonely after her mother disappeared, Georgia loved to cook and follow Julia Child religiously. At 18 she could not get away from the dusty old ranch quick enough and headed to culinary school. Now, after twelve years in Paris she has the chance for her dreams to come true. When she finds her boyfriend/boss Etienne in the walk in fridge with their new pastry chef it all comes tumbling down. The owner of the restaurant assures Georgia she is still in the competition but there is no hope unless she can get her “spark” back. Angry and heartbroken about Etienne she also discovers her unique sense of taste has mysteriously disappeared. When Georgia receives a cryptic message to visit her long lost mother in the San Juan Islands she realizes this may be her chance to finally get the answers to questions that have plagued her for thirty years. With time running out she travels back to America and arrives on a magical island. Greeted by her beautiful mother Star and a local oyster farmer named Cole (who looks like a super model), it is clear that she has come the right place. Never one to give up, Georgia follows what she already knows - faith, hope, love and luck - the recipe for a charmed life. Don’t miss this delicious romcom filled with food, love and family. Releases Jan 2024. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Maybe Next Time

One evening Emma returns from a busy day at work to the frenzy and chaos of home: kids, dinner and the dog needs a walk. She eyes the envelope perched on the counter.  Oh no! She has done it again - forgotten their anniversary and the letter writing tradition they have long treasured. Dan is angry, the kids appear sullen. Dan escapes by taking the dog out and a few minutes later Emma hears the ear splitting screech of brakes and crushing metal that can only mean one thing. She races to the scene and finds Dan lying in the street, he is gone. Devastated she returns home, attends to the kids and speaks to the police. When she wakes the next morning Dan is lying next to her. Speechless, Emma grabs her phone and sees that it is Monday, again. Hoping this was all just a bad dream Emma goes about her day only to experience the same evening again. She doesn’t know if she is losing her mind or is stuck in some weird time warp. The big question is whether she can change the outcome by changing the scenario. Every day she tries again but to no avail. On repeat her frenzied job becomes pointless and she finally realizes how she neglected everyone she loves. I have read “groundhog day” tropes many times and this one did not stand out. The main character was exhaustingly erratic while the secondary characters were trying too hard to be funny. Didn’t love, just okay in my book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Women

Frances “Frankie” McGrath is twenty years old when her brother Finley ships off to Vietnam. Growing up in beautiful Southern California, they shared a charming childhood, surfing at the beach and riding bicycles throughout their bucolic neighborhood. Their father spent his time at work while mother doted on them between martinis and lunches at the club. Now, out of nursing school Frankie is determined to make a difference. She shocks her family by enlisting with the Army Nurse Corps. With little experience, Frankie is instantly overwhelmed. Upon arrival at the hospital tent, her two roommates quickly become mentors and sisters. Through countless exhausting nights filled with the blood curdling screams of injured soldiers, Frankie becomes a top surgical nurse executing procedures she never imagined. At the same time, her compassion is endless - understanding that sometimes holding a patients hand through his last moments is all she can do. After two tours she returns to California a different person. The public is protesting the war as they spit on the returning Vietnam Vets. Frankie is left with parents that do not recognize her sacrifice and hard work, who will not accept that a woman could contribute. Frankie suffers through excruciating nightmares. As a nurse she recognizes her PTSD but with no-one to help her navigate the pain she turns to pills and alcohol, a slippery slope to the bottom. This novel highlights the heartbreak of war for those who serve, their loved ones left behind and the hardship veterans face upon returning to civilian life. Sadly, a history that continues to repeats itself. Well researched and expertly narrated, author Kristin Hannah’s latest novel releases February 2024. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Chess Story

World champion of chess, Mirko Czentovic is traveling by ocean liner from New York to Buenos Aires. An unfriendly and surprisingly uneducated man, he mostly keeps to himself. A group of passengers offer the champion money to play against them. While losing each match and all their money, another passenger quietly observing begins to subtly hint to the opponent calculating moves that ultimately win the match. Shocked that this mysterious man called Dr. B should possess such skills, the audience cannot help but wonder how he learned to play with such precision. While these matches continue, Dr. B’s anxiety noticeably heightens and the narrator slowly describes the shocking tale that led this shy gentleman to this precise moment in time. Originally called The Royal Game, this German novella was written by Austrian author Stefan Zweig in 1941, just months before he and his wife die by suicide. Despite its length, this powerful story became the inspiration for the production of multiple artistic endeavors such as an opera, stage production and multiple movies over the last 80 years. Gripping and emotional, you most definitely do not need to be a chess player to appreciate each and every strategic move. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Eight Dates and Nights

When Hannah Levin shows up at her grandmother’s ranch in Rosenberg, Texas she is not prepared to feed the horses and chickens. A city girl through and through, Hannah is sad she will miss Hanukah with her parents and friends in New York City, as it was her turn to visit grandmother whom she hadn’t seen in years. Missing the lattes and latkes from home Hannah is determined to manage through the next few days and get right back on that plane in time for the last few night’s of holiday celebrations. One day in town she meets Noah, most likely the only other Jewish teenager in the town. Noah is working hard to save his grandfather’s historic deli that has been struggling to make ends meet. Many years ago this small town had an active Jewish community but it is long gone as the younger generations moved on to explore opportunities in the big city. After an awkward meet cute Hannah knows it would be a mitzvah (good deed) to help Noah for a few days. She takes advantage of a surprising winter storm and savvy social media skills to bring the old fashioned deli into the present. This cozy YA holiday romance is filled with family love, delicious treats and eight nights of fun. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Intern

Harvard Law student Madison Rivera had been offered the most prestigious internship available. After hearing Judge Kathryn Conroy speak at her Catholic Prep high school 10 years ago Madison never imagined she would someday be chosen to work in her chambers. After a whirlwind interview the job is hers as long as she can find a way to fill out the lengthy paperwork involved. There is one problem. How can she possibly expose family background when her brother Danny has been recently incarcerated on drug charges and presented in front of the very same Judge? Madison believes Danny is innocent, she really does. But his convoluted stories involving mobsters, corrupt prosectors and attorneys sounds farfetched, especially insinuating that Madison’s idol, Judge Conroy, is implicated. As Madison snoops her way through court records and locked filing cabinets, the scandalous pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. Nothing is as it appears. This fast paced legal thriller turns into a race to prove Danny’s innocence, save Madison’s future and find out the ugly truth that has been buried for decades. Captivating, intriguing mystery that you will not be able to put down! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, November 13, 2023

Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop

Managing the Old Town bookshop for Mr. McCredie has been a dream job for Carmen Hogan. There is nothing she enjoys more than helping customers find the perfect read. The only problem is the bookshop still has barely enough money in the till to pay the bills. At the same time an evil local developer has been turning every nearby business into a tacky souvenir shop and Mr. McCredie has been offered an opportunity of a lifetime to trace his family history on an historic voyage to Antartica. The trip costs a lot of money and Carmen is determined to help this sweet old man who believed in her when no-one else did. While missing her ex boyfriend Oke terribly since he left Scotland and her sister Sophia passive aggressively nudging her out of the family basement Carmen once again finds herself at a confusing crossroads. As the lights in Edinburgh begin to glow, past holiday memories lay heavy on her mind. Carmen completely throws herself into reinventing the bookshop and her personal life as well. Filled with our favorite characters from The Christmas Bookshop (and some fabulous new ones!) this delightful sequel is the perfect read for some quirky bookshop love this holiday season. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Queen of Katwe

As a young, poor child living in one of the harshest slums of Katwe in Uganda, Phiona Mutesi did not have any dreams for her future. Always hungry, nine year old Phiona followed her brothers in search of food. What she discovered would change her life forever. Phiona met an extraordinary man named Robert Katende. He was an educated missionary who worked with the Sports Outreach Institute teaching soccer and motivating children of the slums to strive for a better life. On colored cardboard with bottle cap pieces Robert Katende decided to teach a small group of children chess. It motivated and challenged them to think differently. When Phiona joined they had 25 players. At first the girls were separated. When she won all the girls, she moved on to beat all the boys. With a natural gift and unimaginable patience, Phiona became a champion. Strategizing her way through a tough game came naturally, it was a survival instinct she learned young. Robert became her coach and chess her escape from the harsh realities that surrounded their daily lives. Chess would be Phiona’s ticket to a world far outside of war torn Uganda. In 2010, 14 year old Phiona was selected to represent Africa at the World Chess Olympiad in Russia and this was only the beginning. A magnificent story of hope and faith, Phiona is truly an inspiration. A wonderful book and Disney movie adaptation - I loved them both! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Find the Good

Only about 2000 people live in remote Haines, Alaska. Heather Lende writes the obituaries for this small town’s newspaper, The Chilkat Valley News. She is a mother, grandmother, wife, sister and friend to many. But in this tiny town, she is something more. Heather is the keeper of memories as she does her best to honor those who have passed. Even the grumpiest, quietest and most troubled souls are often misunderstood. They too have a life worth remembering and this author digs deep to find that special something for each person she memorializes. As in most small towns, everyone knows each other and life often revolves around helping those in need. Daily tasks and routine can bring joy and comfort to the people you meet every day. Yes, a simple hello to a neighbor CAN change someones day. As this series of emotional and often laugh-out-loud essays teaches beautiful life lessons, Heather also shares the daily growth we experience as we get older, simple things people take for granted until the end looms near. Her warmth, wisdom and faith is contagious. Getting back to basics reminds us to be grateful for what we have, not what we don’t. Read this book and pass it on, the gift that keeps on giving. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, November 10, 2023

Almost Everything


“Notes on Hope” is a candid, sensitive and honest series of essays about life. The writings reflect the authors experiences but it is interesting how easily the reader can often see themselves in the mirror of her truth. Exploring childhood and parental expectations, struggling later with relationships, alcohol abuse and the author’s deep and ever expanding belief in God and Christian faith that guides much of her storytelling. Always grateful afterwards for the hard lessons that probably saved her life, Anne grew an even deeper desire to share with the world her very personal journey. Carrying out her religious calling not only pushes Anne to share very private struggles through writing but she will just as quickly offer the shirt off her back or to hold the hand of a person in their final breaths of life. The humor that continues to fill her Sunday mornings teaching a young group of students are magical as we all know kids say the darnedest and most frighteningly honest things! This book is an easy, beautiful read filled goodness and light and most importantly hope. Anne is a well known novelist and non-fiction writer whose words have the power to heal. She famously quotes, “The opposite of faith is not doubt; it’s certainty.” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️