Tuesday, January 30, 2024


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. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️