Sunday, April 28, 2024

It. Goes. So. Fast.

From the moment we become parents there is another life completely dependent on our constant care and nurturing. Everything else becomes secondary. On the same note as the tables turn and we age our own parents may need assistance. Those days too are cherished and counted. The circle of life described in this memoir by well known NPR journalist Mary Louise Kelly is loving and thought provoking. Having spent years reporting on war, interviewing politicians and the people affected around the world, Mary decides to take time off to be more present for her older son’s last year of high school before he leaves the nest. Diving deep into the memories of early parenting while reflecting on the painful recent loss of her beloved father - while the actual world feels like it is falling apart - is hard and exhausting. With honesty, love and humor Mary Kelly shares some of her most private thoughts about motherhood, marriage and the relevance of a professional woman in midlife. Change is inevitable but it is not always easy. The invaluable lesson that time is our greatest asset is a constant reminder to live your best life. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, April 26, 2024

The Wives

Leaving New York City is never easy. Simone had an editing job she loved, a great group of friends and - in the city that never sleeps - always something to do. Soon after she gets married, Andrew joins an elite Army unit and the young couple relocate to Columbus, Georgia. A very very tiny town with an army base and little else. Andrew and Simone grew up together in California. Their relationship is strong and their love runs deep. But as any young couple may struggle, they have a hard time figuring how they can both follow their dreams and remain supportive of each other. Feeling the stress of loneliness and financial instability, Simone’s real test arrives - Andrew is finally deployed. Paralyzed by this deep rooted fear is something Simone had never experienced before. It takes a village - or rather “The Wives” - as she names the other women she meets - to make this transition to army wife. An intelligent, voracious reader Simone had always been a pacifist. The pervasive questions she continuously asks Andrew, her peers and herself are the difficult ones. Simone wants to understand where Andrew’s unflinching and real desire to risk his life and fight for his country comes from. She slowly learns how the army works and the lingo they use to pacify worried wives while their husbands are deployed. As the more experienced wives help her through the difficult early days Simone learns the meaning of true friendship and camaraderie. She and Andrew find their way through the complicated maze of military life with a few bumps and bruises but this memoir shines as a testament to faith, hope and family. I was mesmerized by Simone’s story. She is an excellent writer and captured my imagination and my heart. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Paradise Problem

Marrying West Weston may or may not have been the greatest plan. But Anna Green needed student housing at UCLA and West found a great deal in subsidized family dorms. At the time it seemed like a win-win. Anna and West were excellent roommates, stayed out of each other’s way, their paths barely crossing. He was an introverted intellect finishing grad school and Anna, an eclectic party girl with pink hair who ultimately dropped pre-med for life as a starving artist. One small hitch to the hitch. Anna wasn’t much for details and she barely glanced at the documents West had her sign. Three years later, long after they went their separate ways, West appears at Anna’s door. Now a Stanford professor and more handsome than ever, West is trying to protect his inheritance from the Weston empire (i.e. crazy family) and he makes Anna an offer she once again cannot refuse. $100,000 to accompany him to a remote island celebration for his sisters high profile society wedding. Oh, and by the way, they are still legally married. Shocked but in desperate need of cash, Anna agrees. The young couple begin a two-week whirlwind adventure with the Weston clan to show the family just how married and in love they still are. A breathtaking setting and real/hot fake/marriage make this the absolute steamiest beach read of the summer. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️