Sunday, April 14, 2024

Swap and Smell the Roses

Swapping homes with her best friend sounded like a good idea but when Willow, a city girl through and through, arrives in the Connecticut countryside she has a rude awakening. Or rather is locked out of the cottage and comes face to face with the rudest and hottest landlord she has ever met. Willow quickly realizes she has got to get on Reid’s good side or  the next two months are going to be a disaster. But things only get worse. The cottage floods and Willow must temporarily move in with the gorgeous grump. She gets a part time job at the local bakery which ignites friendship and a much better outlook on the summer. Willow has put her dream as a singer/musician aside and as painful as it may be the bakery is the perfect place to keep her mind occupied. When Willow and Reid realize that their chemistry is off the charts they are too busy hiding behind their fears to face the truth about each other and their dreams. Adorable, fast paced and a little steamy, this romcom had an idyllic setting and sweet romance. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Things I Wish I Told My Mother

Laurie is in the middle of the biggest presentation of her career when she gets the call. Her mother, the famous OB/GYN “Dr. Liz”, is in the hospital - as a patient. Laurie races to her side to discover that her mother had an unexplained cardiac episode and is presently arguing with everyone and anyone, refusing further testing. To get her mind off the stressful situation Laurie suggests she slow down and promises they can plan a getaway together when she feels better. What began as a way to get her mother’s mind off her troubles leads to the planning and plotting of a questionable adventure. The mother daughter duo, who don’t always get along,  head off to Paris and then Norway, where Liz was raised and has a sister she’s mysteriously not seen in 50 years. Widowed from an adoring husband, Liz is a beautiful, successful headstrong woman who is loved by all her patients but has never made Laurie feel anything other than intimidated. As they peruse the finest hotels, restaurants and shops in Paris the women get along much better than expected. With time and patience Laurie begins to discover a different side from the perfectionist authority she always felt distant from. With each new day their journey becomes much more than a shopping extravaganza. Laurie delves into questions she never dreamed she’d have the opportunity to ask. As the mystery of her mother’s past unravels Laurie receives answers that change her life forever. This was a heartfelt read filled with fun banter and threaded with a much deeper meaning as Laurie realizes she has carried these old hurts and misconceptions through her whole life. Every day is a precious gift not to be wasted and everyone has their own story to share. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, April 8, 2024

My Side of the River

Although she was born in Tuscon, Arizona, Elizabeth always struggled to feel truly at home in America. Her parents had visas which allowed them to work and stay temporarily in the US but when she and her brother Fernando were born it complicated matters significantly. Her parents dreamed of giving their children an education that they could not get in Mexico. Always scrambling financially they worked long hard hours under the radar doing all the jobs no-one else wanted to do, never accepting government benefits for fear of being deported. At a young age Elizabeth was already a curious and intelligent student. She took to heart her mother’s constant whispers - “to succeed in America, you have to be the best.”  At 15, a miscalculated move left her parents in Mexico, their visa renewal denied indefinitely. Her brother was 8 and remained in their care. Elizabeth, now a top student and mature for her age found a way to stay with a teacher’s family and finish highschool. This girl did not miss a beat. Overcoming severe poverty and sleeping on a strangers couch for years, Elizabeth persevered. She remained Valedictorian, was accepted to a multitude of top colleges and participated in many clubs and activities. It was not easy for this teenager to face the world alone, adding on to the guilt that her brother whom she adored, was growing up without her guidance. This memoir is a beautiful testament to the strength of family. It is also a reflection of our broken immigration policies that often separates loved ones, using these migrant workers and then throwing them away. Elizabeth is a success story but it is clear many are not as lucky. This memoir was fascinating and insightful, offering a glimpse into new perspectives. One of the greatest rewards of reading is nurturing empathy. Keep reading. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Sara Starting Over

Sara has fallen into a deep depression. She has lost her treasured restaurant she spent her life building, her father passed away and her ex just married a beautiful woman half his age. Alone with nothing to do and no-one to care for Sara travels in her beat up old car until she finds a suitable landing space, preferably one where she can be isolated and wallow in peace. She stumbles upon Hills of Andrew, a quaint southern town with a storybook main street and the quiet ambiance she is searching for. Renting an adorable house with a gorgeous view, Sara slowly settles in. She finds a job at the town library and her world and fragile heart opens up in ways she never imagined. At middle age Sara did not think new friendships and the flutters of love were even a possibilty. Icing on the cake, though she is terrified of getting hurt again, Sara is surprisingly intrigued by a handsome neighbor who runs the local theater. This is a really easy, quiet, sweet story about starting over in every way. Sometimes you have to take risk to start anew, but it is well worth it. Thumbs up for me! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Just For the Summer

Justin and Emma meet online. It turns out they share the same curse. Every time a relationship ends, their ex goes on to meet “the one.” What starts as jaunty banter turns super flirty super fast. Even though Abby is a traveling nurse about to leave for a 3 month stint in Hawaii with her best friend Maddy, she is intrigued enough to change her summer plans and relocate to an adorable lake house on Lake Minnetonka. Justin, a tech guy who works remotely, is about to endeavor on some serious responsibility for a single young man. His mother is going to prison for fraud and he must take care of his three younger siblings for the foreseeable future. Although when the two finally meet their chemistry is off the chart, Emma has her own emotional baggage caused by years in foster care and a delinquent mother. Maddy, who is quite a character, really holds down the fort throughout this dramatic rollercoaster. Even though the setting was charming and lots of romance was brewing between these likable characters, the story was way more drama than this authors previous romcoms. A quick read but for me its a like not love. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Princess of Las Vegas

On August 31, 1997 the world was shocked to learn Princess Diana of Wales had tragically died in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi. Years later Crissy Dowling finds herself as a struggling actress in Las Vegas. She has an uncanny resemblance to Princess Di and with a little tweaking of hair color and speech, people do double takes wherever she goes. Her agent set her up for a one woman show at a second rate hotel located just off the strip and to her surprise she hit the jackpot. After years of searching, she finally found her new home. Living in the hotel and performing two sold out shows a night, Crissy continued to enhance the stage with Charles and all the happy/sad drama that Diana’s life entailed. Adrift since the passing of their mother, Crissy is surprised to learn her younger sister Betsy, lifelong trouble maker, has moved to Vegas trying to turn her own life around. She is accompanied by a snarky 13 year old she recently adopted and a questionable boyfriend named Frankie. Betsy is given a job at a crypto company Frankie is involved called Futurium. From the minute they arrive Crissy is suspicious of their financial dealings and gun toting business partners. Mimicking the mob from the 1950’s these ruthless men are trying to take over her hotel and coerce “Diana” to perform for their investors. As the mystery builds the sisters cannot find a way to extricate themselves from the spider web of lies these people have created. An absolute page turner, I truly enjoyed and recommend this original fun storyline. Reminded me of this authors fast paced previous book, The Flight Attendant. On that note it does get a little too impossible and for some reason his overzealous vocabulary felt unnecessary. Still a thumbs up! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, March 18, 2024

The Sicilian Inheritance

Sara’s restaurant has failed. Her marriage is over and she has lost full custody of her daughter. As the world she carefully designed implodes, her dear Aunt Rosie quietly passes away. Always a spicy one and full of surprises, Rosie has left Sara a letter, her final instructions. She has arranged a trip to Sicily where their family lived for hundreds of years. Sara is meant to scatter Rosie’s ashes and confirm that the valuable piece of land Rosie inherited from her great grandmother, Serafina, still exists. If the land is legally theirs, Sara will inherit the property and finally have a chance to start over. Inheritance can be a tricky thing and many people want a piece of that pie. When Sara arrives in Italy she is immediately bombarded by a cast of quirky characters who appear little too anxious to help this beautiful American girl. With each step she takes, Sara uncovers more secrets than she ever imagined hidden beneath the ruins. Narrated by Serafina in the early 1900s and intertwined with Sara's contemporary journey, this captivating tale envelops us in the lives of courageous women driven by the pursuit of freedom, family, and love. Set amidst the breathtaking mountains of Sicily, this page-turner brims with rich historical detail and intriguing mysteries. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, March 15, 2024

The Trail of Lost Hearts

At 34 Wren Waters thought she had her future all mapped out. She was engaged to charming guy named Rob, ran her own social media marketing business and enjoyed a close knit group of girlfriends. One day an unimaginable tragedy strikes and Wren’s entire world is turned upside down. Stuck in bed with barely enough energy to face the day, Wren finally decides what she needs is a geocaching trip. Once an avid hiker and nature lover, Wren has discovered a hobby that provides fresh air and a challenge to get her mind off her troubles. She plans a trip to Oregon and on the trail teams up with a fellow geocacher who turns out to be a handsome psychologist named Marshall. He literally saves the day and provides a shoulder to cry on. Feeling rejuvenated, the universe has provided the perfect partner to pull Wren from the hazy world she has occupied for months. Marshall and Wren share instant chemistry and even though they are both battling their own demons, they spend a glorious week in their own vacation bubble. As full as her heart feels, Wren cannot ignore that Marshall is holding back, and she will never again let these boxes go unchecked. The young couple must learn they have to set themselves free before they can start over again. A beautiful story of discovering love, friendship and forgiveness. I have adored all of this author’s books and this one is a simple, well written story that grabbed my heart and my imagination. Releases March 26 2024! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Jackpot Summer

The Jacobson siblings are still mourning their mother’s death. They are spending July 4th weekend cleaning out the family beach house as Dad has decided to sell and retire to sunny Boca Raton. As they reminisce and poke at each other as the siblings often do, it becomes crystal clear that the Jersey shore will never feel the same again. Taking a break, Noah, the youngest and often favored sibling, decides to venture to the local convenience store where apparently Powerball is the hot ticket of the weekend. His two sisters chip in for the fun, while the eldest and his snooty wife decline declaring that lotteries are designed for stupid people. Easy for Matthew to say since they are both power lawyers who make money faster than they could spend it. Adjusting to Dad’s big move and constantly avoiding the daily drama of their own lives the Jacobsons are beyond shocked when they win the pot! While the close siblings decide how they will spend their millions they must also decide if they can face the guilt of leaving Matthew out of the group. Extravagant purchases, unnecessary trips and meaningless donations backfire as this life changing event comes full circle. The Fabulous Foursome realize the truth - family is everything and money really can’t buy happiness. Loved every minute of this fast paced, laugh out loud story that is perfect for your beach bag this summer! Releases June 2024. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Oud Player of Cairo

Laila’s baba (father) raised her in the spirit of the boy he had always hoped for. Baba taught her strength and endurance, to stand up for what she believed and walk proud with the confidence of a man. In Egypt, during the mid 1900’s their family was just getting by. In Cairo, Kamal was a well known oud player at local cafes and parties. Talented and kind, his music entertained many but did not produce a large income. While his wife took in sewing and odd jobs to help the family financially, mostly her responsibilities were to care for their two girls. One day Kamal realized that Laila, his younger daughter had a beautiful voice. With some training and lessons her voice grew into a magnificent gift. Even though society frowned upon Laila  accompanying him on his musical endeavors, he was certain she could be famous. The duo became widely known and applauded. As life took some turns for the worse, Laila is married off to a handsome pasha from a wealthy family. At first their love feels authentic and hopeful. But as society proves them wrong, their initial emotions are not strong enough to withstand the pressures of life in the upper echelons of their city. Laila must ultimately forge her future path instead of following what is expected. In the midst of a society teetering on the brink of transformation, Laila finds her world upended by the dynamic forces of politics, religion, and the evolving dynamics within her own family. A beautiful story filled with incredible characters, interesting history and family love. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Say You'll Be Mine

Meghan is a theater teacher at the local elementary school. Deep down she always dreamed of becoming a writer but as her practical parents pushed her towards engineering she veered as far the other way as was allowed. Her best friend from college Seth is a successful songwriter and has just announced his engagement which quietly broke Meghna’s heart. After being named “best man”, she realizes she couldn’t possibly attend all the events alone. Meghna’s mother has been begging her to arrange a suitable match and desperate for a plus one she finally relents and meets Karthik. He is an engineer, of course, and surprisingly handsome. But Karthik has also been pushed hard by his parents, professionally and romantically. The two young people find themselves in the same frustrating position. They come up with a plan to solve all of their problems, a fake engagement! As Meghna and Karthik go through the motions resistantly at first, they eventually find common ground and get along really well. Their feelings grow alongside the pressures of what an engagement means to their families and the scheme gets trickier to pull off. Learning more about each other and the truth about themselves forces them to make some life changing decisions. Highly recommend this quick, adorable romcom filled with Indian culture, family and laugh out loud fun. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Leaving

Sarah bumps into Warren at the opera. She has not seen him in decades but remembers their college love affair with a clarity that makes her heart skip a beat. Divorced and 60 years old, Sarah lives outside NYC and is living a quiet existence sharing her passion for the arts at the local museum, seeing her daughter and grandchildren sporadically and her son who has moved to Seattle, hardly at all. But its peaceful, and after the tumultuous marriage she endured, quiet is good. Sarah never expected to fall in love again at her age. She most certainly never dreamed she would reconnect with Warren. While he lives in Boston and is a successful architect, Warren is in an unhappy marriage. No fighting or screaming but he is not in love and as his daughter grows up she is farther from his reach than he ever imagined possible. As their emotional affair deepens Sarah is sure that Warren will leave his wife and start a new life with her. Convinced it’s not too late, the two begin to formulate a plan. But as they say … the best-laid plans can go awry and most likely will. I could not put down this thoughtful, beautifully written novel about family and motherhood and love. A woman facing the second part of her life wondering how she got to this place. How your childhood and parents and future family affect all your decisions along the way but in the end you must pick up the pieces and live your best life. No-one else is going to do it for you. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, February 26, 2024

Someplace Like Home

Jenny Caudill grew up in Kentucky, near the foothills of the magnificent Appalachian Mountains. Her father was a mechanic who fixed cars in a building beside their home while her mother cooked, cleaned and raised four children struggling to stretch every dollar. Her mother was as tough and strict as she had to be to keep the children in line and away from the dangers so easily found in a small town on the outskirts of society. Without a lot of options the teenagers tend to do a lot of smoking, drinking and fighting. Jenny’s mother demanded her children to be respectful, independent and home before dark. But without opportunities for advanced schooling after high school, jobs were scarce and they all wound up at the local factory, bored and mistreated while they stitched zippers into jeans. They didn’t know from much more than that but Jenny was itchy for independence and love. Jenny fell for the first guy who paid her any attention. Rob Lewis was an older boy who dropped out of school and was a handful of trouble. Everyone warned her but once he was set on courting Jenny she transitioned from her mother’s rules to a prison of Rob’s making. He drank, excessively took pain pills and fought with everybody. With no education and a dead end job Rob found his power by lording over Jenny and their children. Living deep in the holler Jenny was suffocating from Rob’s violent mood swings and constant abuse and needed to find a way out before someone got killed. Loosely based on her mother’s life, this author pulled on all my heartstrings. The writing flowed beautifully in this quiet story about family, motherhood and learning to protect yourself. There is much to discuss and this would be a great book club pick!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, February 19, 2024

Days of Wonder

Ella Fitchburg had all the yearnings of a young teenage girl, mostly she dreamed of falling in love. She was raised by her single mom who had grown up in a Chasidic community in Brooklyn, exiled when she brought the family shame. The two of them lived a simple life with no extended family and few friends. When Ella meets Jude at a party they share an instant connection. Although Ella is pretty and smart, Jude’s domineering and abusive father, a Judge, forbids the young couple from spending so much time together. When sneaking around becomes too much, the young lovers make one bad decision after another. Accused of trying to poison the Judge, Ella is sentenced to 25 years and Jude disappears. With an early release after only six years Ella tries to rebuild her life. Her mother does everything she can to make Ella comfortable but her attentions are suffocating and Ella is overtaken by an obsession to find the daughter she birthed and put up for adoption while she was in prison. When an address leads to the adoptive parents living in Ann Arbor, Michigan this is where Ella reestablishes her life. Living in constant fear of her actual identity being revealed, Ella lives in a world full of secrets and constant distress. As the story is narrated between the past and present the reader finally learns what really happened that momentous night, the night that changed everything. I really wanted to love this but didn’t. The writing is excellent but there is a lot of repetition and unlikable characters that are tough to root for. It could have been edited down and become a much smoother read. On the fence with this one. Publishes in April 2024. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Girl Abroad

A year studying in London is a dream come true for Abbey Bly. Living a sheltered existence in Nashville with her rock star dad, she cannot wait to experience life on her own for the first time. At nineteen, her father rarely lets her out of his sight. Since he stopped performing his whole purpose became focused on protecting Abbey from the craziness he experienced partying on the road. As she arrives at the gorgeous Nottingham flat she arranged online, she is greeted by Lee, a boy. Soon after she meets Jamie and Jackie, two more adorable mates. Her vigilant dad would freak, but for the first time Abbey makes her own decision - what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him. First rule of the house is no romance between roommates. Well, that should make things easier. Taking on big brother personas, the charming lads always include Abbey and quickly become overprotective. As she juggles her secret crush on Jack(ie) the rugby playing Aussie, Abbey also meets Nate, the motorcycle riding sexy bassist who is already taken. Complicated by rules of house and heart, Nate and Jack fill her mind with fantasies she never imagined possible - until they are. Her research project for school includes meeting an infamous playboy called Lord Tulley providing a bit of nobility and mystery to her adventure. Coming of age story in a teenage utopia, I thoroughly enjoyed this adorable escape from reality.  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Finding Margaret Fuller

In 1836 Margaret Fuller is invited to visit the well known philosopher and author, Ralph Waldo Emerson. She is welcomed at his family home in Concord Massachusetts next door to to the Alcott family (Louisa May is a child) and Henry David Thoreau is a young man who helps around the house. Waldo was excited to meet the famous female author and teacher (unmarried) who was making a name for herself as the best read person in New England. Beautiful, intelligent and outspoken, Margaret’s lifestyle was rarely approved and often misunderstood. The wives of these famous men she wished to learn beside frowned upon Margaret as their husbands displayed a dizzying attraction to this revered woman. Writing, thinking and fluent in a multitude of languages Margaret was a rare bird for a woman of these times. Expecting a boy, Margaret’s father had decided to raise her as one through education. He spent his entire adult life making sure Margaret was a well educated independent thinker. After his passing, her mother and siblings struggled financially and the pressure was on Margaret to venture out in the world and earn a living. That responsibility coupled with her own curiosity and love of learning led her to build a network of friendships with some of the most famous people of the time. When Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune sends Margaret overseas, she becomes the first female news correspondent. A magnificent cast of characters from a time known in the literary world as Romanticism and Transcendentalism. Reads like a fascinating novel and is filled with the rich history of authors we all grew up studying. Brave and brilliant, Margaret Fuller “should” have been a household name. Well written and researched. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monday, February 5, 2024

Twice as Hard

Medicine, racism and women. Against all odds black women throughout history have managed to become physicians. Women who faced adversity and bigotry found ways to achieve their dreams and contribute to their communities. Each of these women excelled academically while scraping the money together to get to medical school. As if this was not hard enough, once graduated (often at the top of their class) their residency applications were often rejected simply because they were black women. Through mentorship, hard work and faith a precious few exceeded beyond their wildest dreams. Health centers were established in communities that had none, testing and life changing research was founded for Sickle Cell Anemia and healthcare was provided to the poorest of our nation. These women became surgeons, delivered babies, held political and academic positions and most importantly shined as role models for future generations. Fascinating details beginning in the mid 1800’s of women that should be in every history book, brought to life by medical student/author, Jasmine Brown. Having faced similar roadblocks, Jasmine highlights the incredible accomplishments of these physicians who changed the world. An uplifting and inspirational book, reading can be the best medicine. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Ready or Not

The two lines couldn’t have been more clear, Eve is pregnant. The girl who has always followed all the rules has an unexpected one night stand with a very sexy bar tender - now finds herself at a doctor’s office confirming what her heart already knew, she is going to have a baby. In her early thirties and single, Eve wasn’t even sure she wanted children. The idea of doing this alone is simply terrifying but somehow she is completely sure she is going to keep this baby. To add to the turmoil of emotions her very best lifelong friend Willa, who has been ineffectively trying to get pregnant for quite some time, finds the news devastating. Of all people, Shep, Willa’s older brother steps in. Recently single and living in Brooklyn, this once shy nerdy computer geek has really grown up. He takes the reins both mentally and physically helping Eve in any way he can. This unexpected loyalty sparks a layer to their friendship she never imagined. While Ethan, the hot bar tender/father struggles with their new reality, Shep supports Eve, showering her with treats and amazing foot rubs. Eve cannot decide if Shep has always been this handsome or if its the pregnancy hormones going berzerk, but it takes all of her self control not to literally jump all over his kindness. This beautiful story flows through nine months of love, friendship and back aches continually surprising Eve towards the moment of truth. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Water

When Vanessa Carvin arrives on a remote island off of Ireland, the first thing she does is change her name to Willow Hale. A new start in her self exile, a way of escaping her life and the viscous gossip that has tormented her for the past year. Her husband (ex) is in prison, her eldest daughter has passed away and her youngest will not send more than a one word text message. Anyone she considered a friend is long gone from her life. She is inextricably alone and the isolated rustic cottage matches her mood and this odd little village. The question of guilt lies heavy on her heart, self punishment - her solution. Only she can determine if a way forward is possible. This novella by John Boyne is the first of a four part series, his writing is mesmerizing. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Carolina Built

Josephine Napoleon Leary was born into slavery in North Carolina in 1856. After emancipation she was freed at 9 years old. Intelligent, kind and a hard worker - there is nothing Jo wanted more than to become successful and take care of her family. Josephine married Sweety Leary and they built a life together in the small town of Edenton. She helps him run his barber shop but it is not long before Jo’s entrepreneurial spirit takes hold and she strikes out on her own. Most unlikely for a woman of that time, purchasing land was difficult and she successfully created passive income supplementing their monthly bills. That savings allowed her to buy additional properties over the next few years which brought their family the financial security she had always craved. Filled with passion and ambition nothing was ever easy for Jo but she never gave up her beliefs that women could equally meet the business demands of men. This reimagined story takes place in the late 1800’s, is well researched and fascinating. As a black woman with all the odds against her Josephine Leary followed her dreams becoming a wife, loving mother and a successful businesswoman. Her largely forgotten legacy still stands today and her accomplishments for women and the African American community speak for itself. Perseverance, hard work and faith, Josephine Leary is an inspiration to us all. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Saturday, January 27, 2024

True North

The Brecht family loaded up their brand new Winnebago and headed to the town of Thunderwater in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, only a day’s drive from Chicago. It is the summer of 1993 and things are not going well for Sam and Swami. He is an art teacher and failed to tell Swami he may not have a position to return to after summer break. Sam has convinced his wife to accept his uncle’s offer to partner at his rafting company for the summer. As young college graduates, Sam and Swami met and fell in love as rafting guides. There was nothing they loved more than the magnificent outdoors. With their three young children in tow Swami is less than thrilled at this undertaking but realizes nature and guiding may rekindle the love and respect they once had for each other. When they arrive, Woodchuck is in shambles. The guides appear to be a bunch of rustic yokels and the barn and equipment are falling apart. Swami wants no part of it. She quickly separates herself and the children from Sam and stays at the local campgrounds. Sam reacquaints himself with his uncle forming a deep bond with each of the guides and reigniting his love for the woods. A new fancy rafting company nearby presents fierce competition for their summer business and a global mining company is sneakily convincing people to sell their land. While the entire town argues the merits of town expansion the drama continues to rise and so does the river. Historic rains and flooding may ruin their efforts to save the company and themselves. I love this fast paced small town drama filled with rafting adventures, marriage, friendship and loyalty. Even though Swami is extremely unlikeable, the reader is still rooting for their survival. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, January 21, 2024

The Book of James

LeBron James is a professional basketball player, currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Nicknamed “King James", there is no doubt he is one of the greatest players of all time. He is also a passionate father, husband, son and friend. LeBron is loyal, outspoken and oftentimes brutally honest. He has political opinions about many subjects but first and foremost he has become a powerful voice on and off the basketball court for justice and equality. Against the backdrop of his life story, Valerie Babb, a Professor of Humanities and author, narrates the evolution of African American culture societally and politically. Change occurs but progress is shockingly slow. LeBron was the poor Black boy from a broken home with a 16 year old mother and no extended family to support them. They moved a lot and if it wasn’t for the kindness of some neighborhood friends they would have been living on the streets. But his mother Gloria never gave up on him, never stopped loving him. In a society where children slip through the cracks every day, LeBron was stood tall. Very tall. He was strong and athletic and when teachers and the community reached out Gloria made sure he had every opportunity she could grab onto. It was not a “gift” as some say. It was hard work. No-one has worked harder on the court than LeBron. Even as a superstar he is a team player through and through. His business has grown to make him one of the most wealthy and successful athletes that ever existed. He has put much of this success in the hands of a trusted few who have known him since childhood. He has advocated for education, health care and an end to police brutality in the black community. LeBron wants change in America and it is apparent that he will never stop fighting for justice. Aside from his impressive accomplishments, LeBron cares. This work of non fiction is educational, honest and eye opening. Maybe we should all open our eyes a little more, wake up America. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Love, Me

Rachel Miller is a typical upscale suburban mom. She is a married mother of two, practices law at a prestigious firm in NYC and grew up in a loving home on Long Island. Her handsome husband Dan is also an attorney although he has slowly lost his ambition over the years, never really loving the practice of law. Things are fairly strict in their busy household, Rachel is a list making type A woman that has their schedules down to the minute. Any obstacles thrown their way will quickly be resolved. Until the day a rather large obstacle stubbornly turns their lives upside down. In high school Rachel had an intimate group of friends in the drama department. She also experienced her first love, Jack Bellow. After parting ways in college, Jack went on to become a famous (really famous) Hollywood heartthrob. Shocked through the years by magazine covers and celebrity gossip, Rachel has followed his career and always wondered what it would have been like if they met again. Chalking it up to teenage girl fantasy, she never took this too seriously. One day photos and private letters between Jack and Rachel are published. Dan and Rachel have a huge blowout argument debating the past and future of their marriage. The PTA moms are going crazy to learn that Jack Bellow once dated Rachel. Reporters are on her front lawn. To try and make sense of this crazy attention she tracks Jack down and they are reunited for the first time in many years. Rachel must figure out the reality of her dreams and whether she can manage the desires of her heart. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Once Persuaded, Twice Shy

Anne grew up in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a quaint town in Ontario, Canada located across the river from New York. Although an idyllic tourist destination, Anne really never expected to return post college. But after Anne’s mother unexpectedly passes away she is offered to take over her mother’s responsibilities as executive director of the local theater company. Super organized and intelligent, Anne is also on the town council and basically finds a diplomatic solution to all their local issues, eccentric or otherwise. Her indolent father and spoiled beautiful sister continue to take advantage of her generosity and let Anne care for the entire family as her mother once had. In college Anne dated Ben Wentworth. Handsome, kind and happy go lucky type of guy, he was her first true love. When she broke up with him for his lack of ambition, she never dreamed their paths would cross again. Still single, albeit much older and wiser Anne’s world is turned upside down when Ben reappears in her life. Now a successful businessman, the long haired, free spirit she once knew is long gone. Her heart can barely contain itself after being greeted by the handsome man in her midst. As he manages his Aunt and Uncle’s new winery business, this new Ben can barely make eye contact. Anne is haunted by her their past decisions and must learn to take bold steps if she is to create a future that would have made her mother proud. Always a fan of second chances, this charming and romantic classic retelling of the beloved Persuasion, Jane Austen’s last novel is an absolute delight. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This Used to Be Us

Danielle and Alex are going through a divorce. A long, drawn out divorce. The last few years sleeping in separate rooms and avoiding any intimacy whatsoever - it is finally time to cut the last threads of marriage. They decide on a nesting apartment - a current concept for yuppies - to not disrupt their boy’s lives while the adults manage the shuffling of their responsibilities and the children remain coddled and comfortable. Dani is a successful screen writer in the volatile world of Hollywood. After suffering a severe writers block she has stumbled upon a huge winner. Alex is a physical therapist running his own clinic. Twenty years ago they were deeply and wholly in love, the perfect couple, building a home and the life they had always dreamed of. A love they imagined would get them through the many ups and downs of life. But after two unfortunate miscarriages, caring for Dani’s sick mother and a continuous flow of blame they have finally admitted defeat. Narrated by Dani and Alex’s acerbic conversations and sad little notes left on album sleeves, the reader witnesses the details of their topsy turvy marriage, divorce and unfailing commitment to their children. Somehow, no matter how hard they try to stay apart they are like two magnets that continue to find their way back together again. Heartbreakingly beautiful and well written, there are huge life lessons buried beneath the banter and I can’t say more or it will spoil the read! Releases in July. A must for your summer TBR! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, January 12, 2024

The Frozen River

Hollowell, Maine is a small town with the Kennebec River running through it. The year is 1789 and the Ballard family runs a well respected lumber mill. Mistress Martha Ballard is also a seasoned midwife and healer, the lives of many depending on her care. Most women do not read and write making Martha’s daily diary all the more valuable. She notes every birth, death and illness among these tight knit god fearing people where gossip runs rampant and kindness does not always abound. Her husband Ephraim is a good man and their 6 grown children are slowly making families of their own. One day Martha is called to care for and document the rape of a local woman named Rebecca. The woman accuses two well known, self important men of the crime. From that moment forward chaos ensues. During this brutally cold winter, one of these men is murdered. The other, uses every bit of his power to undermine Martha as a witness and take over the land and business of anyone who stands in his way. As this suspenseful thriller introduces us to the townspeople it is hard to know who Martha can trust while doggedly pursuing the truth. *Pay attention to the authors end notes where she details which parts are fictionalized and which are not. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The Boy with the Star Tattoo

In 1942 the Vichy government is hunting for Jews, invalids and partisans throughout France. Claudette is a talented young seamstress living and working at the estate of a kind Duchess. One day as the Nazis get closer to the chateau a Jewish father and son are begging at the back entrance. Freezing and malnourished Claudette does whatever she can to help. She feels an immediate connection to the son and falls deeply in love knowing they can only stay a few days without being discovered. It is not long before she realizes she is pregnant and may never see Rafael again. When the town is finally invaded Claudette is forced to make a decision that will change her life forever.  Sharon is grieving in Israel. Her fiancĂ© is presumed dead as the submarine he manned in the Israeli navy has disappeared. It is 1968 and at 20 years old, Sharon is too young to spend her days as a grieving widow. With her many language skills Sharon is offered an opportunity to be part of an operation in France. Raised by her grandparents, she is encouraged to accept and leave Israel for the first time. In France she works beside Daniel Yardin, a handsome naval officer who trusts Sharon with top secret missions. Learning to rely on her instincts Sharon excels at her job while also discovering clues to a past that was buried long ago. Narrated between two very different times, it is only twenty years after the Holocaust that these once tortured victims have become resilient and resourceful Israelis that will do anything to protect the future of their people. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️