Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Expatriates


An expatriate is someone who gives up residence in their homeland to live abroad. Mercy, Margaret and Hillary have this one thing in common. They are American women living in Hong Kong. Mercy is a beautiful young Columbia University graduate whose Korean-American parents barely make ends meet in New York. For years all of their hopes and dreams have all been placed on Mercy’s delicate shoulders. Although she excelled in school Mercy ran with a fast privileged crowd and never quite figured out that she needed to earn a living. Margaret is a lovely mother of three. Her successful husband works long hours and her identity and daily life revolves around her children. Hillary, a bit younger than Margaret, is also the wife of busy man but has not been blessed with motherhood. It is all she can think about. As her loneliness skyrockets and she contemplates adoption, Hillary realizes her marriage is crumbling and she must bear these life changing decisions on her own. Out of cash, Mercy offers to help Margaret with the children on vacation and sadly becomes part of a nightmare the family must endure. All three women connect as victims of their own making. Putting on the perfect lipstick and designer clothes for the popular crowd at the club will not eliminate the private pains they each face. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Heiress


Most people have not heard of the tiny town of Tavistock, North Carolina. But if you were from these parts you most certainly knew the McTavish family. When Ruby McTavish Callahan Woodward Miller Kenmore passes away, her long lost son Camden returns after a decade of living his life withdrawn from the family drama. Ruby was North Carolina’s richest woman. She was famous for being kidnapped as a small child and later for being widowed four separate times. Her adopted son Camden is sole heir to her estate leaving some family members very unhappy. The clan resides in Ashby House, Ruby’s family estate - one that does not hold many good memories for Camden. When he was finally old enough Camden moved as far as possible to the west coast. He got married young and lives a quiet existence as a teacher in Colorado. His pretty wife Jules encourages him to return when the family begs for his intervention in repairing the crumbling estate and ironing out details that hold the fortune in his hands. Jules is a little too eager to meet this conniving bunch and she quickly appears in control of the twisted secrets that come to light with each passing day. Narrated by Cam, Jules and letters written by Ruby, this suspenseful thriller is simply unputdownable. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expiration Dates


Every time Daphne meet a new potential love interest a message meanders its way into her life. The paper always has a name on it and a number. The number represents how long their romance will last. It could be 1 day or 3 months, but since Daphne was a young girl these notes have never, ever been wrong. She is always up for the experience but knows exactly when it will end. One day Daphne is about to go on a blind date and she receives a note with no number. It could only mean one thing. Finally, she will meet her forever match. Excited and nervous she takes extra care getting ready to meet Jake at the restaurant. He is adorable and smart and they get along perfectly. There is no doubt that Jake must be the one and she couldn’t be happier. Hugo, her handsome once boyfriend and current best friend is not pleased. He encouraged Daphne to meet up with Jake but suddenly his jealousy and suspicions are getting the better of him. As Daphne reminisces through her past romances she realizes what went wrong each time. Jake seems perfect, and that scares her more than it should. As the truth comes to light she must decide if it is fate or ultimately our own manipulations that truly bring two people together. A little bit of magical realism and a lot of love, this romance is surprisingly filled with heartbreak and hope. Releases March 2024. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tom Lake

It is the summer of the pandemic and as everyone’s lives have been turned upside down. Lara and Joe have their three daughters back at the cherry orchard for a few months and Lara could not be happier. Busy young adults, she never imagined they would have the opportunity to spend this intimate time together again as a family. As memories flood their long, hot days picking cherries the girls beg their mom to tell them the story of her life. How she was once - and only for a short while - a successful actress in Hollywood. How she spent one of her young summers performing in community theater at Tom Lake, alongside Peter Duke who went on to become famous. Really famous. Since time naturally slows on the farm Lara begins at the very beginning. Her childhood and especially highschool, where she had the kind of best friend you never really get again, a boyfriend you probably shouldn’t have bothered with and starred as Emily in the local production of Our Town, a singular experience that changed her life forever. This story narrates between past and present so delicately that at first the reader is not sure it is happening. It ebbs and flows with Lara’s hopes and dreams, along with those of each of her daughters. The concept of learning about and visualizing your mother as a young woman, an individual person before you arrived is a dream in itself. I loved this book and I am even tempted to try the audible which is narrated by Meryl Streep and I heard is perfection. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Recipe for Happiness

Desperate to help Seren find a match, she is signed up for another useless app called Yorkshire Dating. Her tenacious brother Andrew is only trying to help, but it feels like since he got married he is laser focused on his sister doing the same. Raised by Andrew after their parents tragically passed away, he often acts more like a worried father than a brother. Seren has a passion for cooking and works at an elder care day center where she entices the patrons with comfort food, delicious baked treats and some serious rounds of scrabble. Seren lives above the center in a small flat. Her world has become very small and that is just the way she likes it. Seren has never been able to overcome the severe anxiety she experiences with new things and crowded places. Determined to force Seren into some sort of hobby, Andrew arranges for her to assist his friend at a dog training group. That is when Kez, a fluffy and adventurous Collie enters her life. At the same time her new colleague Ned, a rather mysterious fellow, slowly brings Seren out of her shell. The older folks she has grown so fond of continue to teach her the most important life lesson of all, it is up to you to find the joy every single day. Scattered with delicious recipes and set in the charming English countryside, this is a heartwarming read you will not want to miss! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, December 11, 2023

Meet the Benedettos

After a reality show made them famous for being famous the beautiful Benedetto sisters (think Kardashian) find themselves at a crossroads. With their parents falling deeper and deeper into debt the five sisters are finding it hard to ignore the fact that none of them brings in an income and their spending habits far exceed their meager means (an outdated Italian restaurant their father still owns). As their McMansion falls under disrepair and dinner consists of overpriced take out, Lilly (pluckiest and second eldest) seems to be the only daughter facing the harsh truth. Lilly has never recovered from her fiancĂ©’s death and as their family’s reputation precedes her, she struggles with her dream of writing professionally. When super famous action hero Charlie Bingley moves into the ritzy neighborhood with his agent sister and thespian best friend, the Benedetto girls cannot resist the opportunity to rub shoulders with a little bit of A-list luck. Charlie falls for June, the eldest and sweetest of the bunch and Lilly begins a cantankerous friendship with Will, the best friend. As we recognize the Pride (the Benedetto’s refuse to believe their five minutes of fame is over) and Prejudice (the rest of the world judges them based on preconceptions) - the love story and Kardashian 5 sister twist makes this laugh-out-loud read an absolute winner. I truly did not know what to expect but author Katie Cotugno most certainly did. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Saturday, December 9, 2023

The Fairytale Life of Dorothy Gale

Dee Gale has just arrived at Trinity College in Dublin. Upon registration she is shocked to learn her advisor died in a tragic accident; a house being transported on the road fell on her. Dee (Dorothy) is from Kansas. Her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry raised her and her sister Toni on a farm after their mother passed away. Having completed her undergraduate degree at KU, Dee wandered off the academic brick road when she fell in love with (and was later publicly destroyed by) Grayson Kettering, a  professor in the very same English department where she was supposed to be working on her dissertation. Two years wasted while she focused on Gray instead of herself, Dee was lucky to find this opportunity in a land far away from her troubles. Now Dee must get to work, not only on her education but figuring out what kind of writer she is meant to be. While typing her fingers to the bone to impress a wicked new graduate advisor, Dee also finds fabulous new friends and a completely unexpected romance. This modern retelling of The Wizard of Oz is a delightful, completely original and unputdownable read. Loved every single clever reference connecting Fairytale Life to it’s classic inspiration. I truly did not want it to end! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, December 4, 2023

A Great Country

The sun is shining, the sky a brilliant blue. Just another beautiful day in Southern California. The Shah family has been working their fingers to the bone to build a business, buy a home and provide the very best American life for their three children. Finally “making it” all the way to Pacific Hills, an upscale gated community near the ocean. One Saturday evening while attending a lovely dinner, the Shahs receive a confusing call that their youngest son Ajay (12 years old) is being held at the Orange County jail. Terrified, they race there as quickly as possible to find he is not the victim but is under arrest. Tall for his age, with no I.D. (why would a 12 year old have ID?) and on the spectrum, Ajay struggled to explain to the police why he was near the airport with a backpack of electronics. Roughing him up because he “resisted” arrest the frantic parents find Ajay bruised and battered, frightened and mute. In order to defend their actions the officers push forward with charges and the Shah family is set on an unimaginable rollercoaster that tips the scales of everything they ever believed about the American dream. Supported by a few good friends the Shah’s navigate the complicated procedures their child faces and deep racism they had long held themselves apart from. Friends, family, traditions and trust. This book dives deep beneath the surface forcing the reader to empathize with issues our country battles with every day. Since reading The Namesake (twenty years ago!) I have been enthralled by immigrant family themes, especially from India. The challenges of holding on to treasured cultural values while trying to assimilate and succeed in their new home is an emotional journey. Absolutely must put this one on your reading list in March 2024! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️