the bookish life of nina hill

thumbnail_Image-2The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman.  Nina Hill has never felt more at home than she does at her job at Knight’s bookstore.  “She thought of books as medication and sanctuary and the source of all good things.”  Nina is quiet, reserved, and prefers being alone. People exhaust her and make her anxious.  Because of her anxiety, Nina finds that “being with someone feels intrusive.” Books are “the only constant thing in her life.” She was practically raised by her nanny while her mother was out photographing the world and she never knew her father.

One day a lawyer walks into the bookstore notifying Nina that her father has died and left her in his will. Nina is suddenly introduced to family she never knew she had and despite her initial feelings of not wanting anymore people in her life, she finds herself enjoying and appreciating these new relationships.  And speaking of relationships, Nina finds herself involved in a little romance of her own.

All of the characters in this book were lovely and had such charm and wit. Book lovers and anxiety sufferers will all see a little of themselves in Nina and all readers will be cheering her on as she faces her fears.

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evvie drake starts over

thumbnail_Image-1Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes is just the cutest, most charming little romance. I read it in two days. Evvie Drake is recently widowed and everyone assumes she is going through a horrible period of grieving, but come to find out Evvie is dealing with guilt over the fact that she was about to leave her emotionally abusive husband on the day he died.

Evvie’s best friend, Andy, suggests that Evvie rent out the apartment in her house to a friend of his, who is also looking for a place to hide. Andy’s friend Dean is a former major league baseball player who has someone lost his ability to throw. He is looking for a place to get away from it all.

While Evvie and Dean are both hiding from their problems they develop a friendship that blossoms into something more. You will find yourself wanting these two to get together already the whole time, but will they be able to let go of their pasts to build a future together? This is a light, quick and heart-warming book. Loved it!!!

the lady in the lake

ImageThe Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

This book takes place in Baltimore in 1966. Maddie Schwartz has recently left her husband of 20 years because she is tired of being a housewife and she yearns to finally find herself.  Part of her plan to reinvent herself is becoming a reporter. She lands a job as an assistant at the Baltimore Sun where she stirs up trouble trying to find information about a murdered black woman named  Cleo Sherwood or “The Lady in the Lake.”

Maddie and her new friend, Judith just happen to stumble across the body of the lady in the lake while searching for the body of another missing girl and Maddie just can’t understand why no one cares that Cleo was murdered. She refuses to let this women’s death go until she finds out what happened.

Meanwhile, Maddie is having her own secret affair with a black police officer. Their affair is one of many secret loves in this book. Some are revealed and others are not.

I loved how Lippman gives the reader a look into the mind of all the characters that Maddie encounters during her investigation, including the ghost of Cleo Sherwood. The narrative provides an inside look into the lives of many different types of people.  Maddie discovers things about her own self as she uncovers the secrets of others. Will these secrets cause more harm than good? You will have to read it to find out. I enjoyed this literary mystery and look forward to reading other books by this popular author.

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the dry

CF1351BE-EFE1-4B6C-9F73-631A8DC60EFBThe Dry by Jane Harper. I enjoy a well written “who done it?” story if the mystery has some literary value.  Jane Harper doesn’t disappoint.  This book begins when Aaron Falk returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend, Luke Hadler.  Luke and his wife and son were all murdered in their home and most people assume that Luke murdered his family and then killed himself.  Luke’s mother, Barb, does not believe that her son was capable of such a thing and asks Falk, who happens to be a federal investigator, if we would look into it.  Barb has always been like a mother to Falk. Falk’s own mother died during his birth. Falk reluctantly agrees to stay in town a little longer to investigate as a favor to Barb and her husband.

When Falk starts digging, secrets are unsurfaced.  Falk was long ago accused for the murder of one of his friends, Ellie Deacon.  A lot of the townspeople treat him unfairly, even cruelly because of this accusation. The mystery of her death was never solved.

The town is suffering from a drought and the suffocating heat has seeped into everyone’s bones, leaving everyone on edge. “The crushing vastness of open land left enough space to drown in.”  Everyone in the book is a suspect.

As Falk explores Luke’s death, he also explores what really happened to Ellie. “Death rarely changes how we feel about someone.  Heightens it, more often than not.” Truths are finally revealed among the harsh, dry landscape of Kiewarra.

slightly south of simple

B418ECCD-20BA-42AE-80D4-914305DAD025My favorite time of year: summer reading. Bring on the beachy books!!!   My first beach read of the summer was Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey.  It is the first book in the Peachtree Bluff Series.  Book three was just released.

Three sisters find themselves back on Peachtree Bluff staying with their mother at the seaside home in Georgia that she inherited from her grandmother. “When you were in Peachtree, it simply felt like everything would be all right.” “There are some things in life that only a sister can understand.”

Ansley is the mother. She has a successful career as an interior designer.  Her life is interrupted when her three children and her grandchildren all come to stay with her for a few months.  Her daughters have always been her life. “When I was too scared to go on, I carried on for the three best parts of me, for the girls who almost ruined my life, yet ended up saving it.”  “Sometimes you don’t know how empty your heart can be. You don’t realize it, that is, until at long last, you find if full again.”  As if dealing with the drama from her daughter’s lives isn’t enough, Ansley’s old flame returns to Peachtree and she must face some things from her past.  “Opening your heart after it’s been closed for so many years is hard.”

Caroline is the main reason everyone has come to stay at Peachtree. Her husband just left her, after 13 years of marriage, for a twenty year old supermodel.  Caroline is six months pregnant and already has an eleven year old daughter named Vivi.  Caroline is a NY socialite who snagged one of the most eligible bachelors in town and she always dreamed of being a mother.  Caroline probably likes Peachtree the least of everyone, but after she has been away from NY a while, she begins to realize how ridiculous her life in NY had become.  “There are no people in the world to make you realize what a spoiled, selfish bitch you’ve become and put you right back in place quite like your sisters.”

Emerson is an actress and her most recent role brings her back to Georgia where the made for T.V. movie is being filmed.  The whole family worries about how skinny she has become. They also worry about the fact that she never has found love due to her career, but is she sneaking around with a man on the island?

Sloane is the third sister. Her husband, Adam is deployed in Iraq and she is left to mother their two sons alone. She is the only sibling who ended up living in Georgia.  Toward the end of the book, she has a tragedy of her own.

The book ends with a lot of unresolved issues and unknowns. I immediately picked up book two in the series.  I must know what happens to these lovely ladies and I look forward to spending more time with them.

“Walking down the street with my two sisters, I felt like life was going to go on-yet again.  It might have been slightly south of simple. But like we always did, we’d figure it out together.”

a place for us

B3B013CF-15DC-46A0-BA68-B7A43D331E6AA Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza is a lovely story about an Indian Muslim family living in America and the battles that they face. The author will dazzle you with her poetic writing and break your heart with this moving story. I did not want it to end!
The book begins as the family gathers for the wedding of their oldest daughter, Hadia. Hadia’s brother, Amar ran away and abandoned the family years ago, but he returns for this special occasion and we begin to learn about the family’s past.
Hadia’s whole life she has worked hard for her father’s approval. She resented the fact that, “Everyone important was a boy. It was the son they cherished, the son their pride depended on, the son who would carry their name into the next generation.” In the end she blames herself for Amar’s isolation from the family. Hadia: “She had taken from him what, in another life, would have belonged to him by birth. She had worked hard to be as valuable as any son. Hadia’s belonging was proof of her brother’s alienation.”
Amar was always a disturbing and reckless force. He constantly tested the limits of his father to see what he could get away with and he deserted his Muslim religion. He never felt at home and never felt his father’s love and approval.
Hadia and Huda were their father’s daughters. It was their father they tried to impress, his approval they sought. Amar had always been a mamma’s boy. His mother, Layla, says of her son: “He is persistent and demanding, he knows what he wants and is devastated if he does not attain it. It alarms her: how little it takes to darken his mood.” As Amar grows older and distant, Layla wonders, “What she could ever hope to know of him was just a glimpse-like the beam of a lighthouse skipping out, only one stretch of waves visible at a time, the rest left in the unknowable dark.”
Amar ran away after a bad fight with his father and never returned. They always had a tremulous relationship. Later in life, they both seem to regret the way they have hurt and treated one another. Amar, “wondered if he had turned his back on something far more meaningful than he realized the night he packed his bags in a hurry, thinking only of how angry he was, how harsh and unloving his father was about what Amar had no control over: who he was.” “He had been cheated out of knowing the best of his father; his father had reserved his kindness for others.”
The last section of the book is told from Baba’s (the father) point of view and I think it was the most poignant part of the book. Baba, says of Amar: “I felt like I did not know how to interact with you. I wonder now what we could have been had had the courage to lift you into my arms. And say, “I am here for you and you will never lose me.”
Everyone feels guilt and regret and wonders what they could have done differently to keep Amar at home with them. His mother, Layla also wonders, “Just how the limits to her belief in her son had so dangerously destroyed his possibilities.”
Amidst the family drama, they all have to deal with the hate and prejudice they endure from being a Muslim in America. Baba: “That was my fight: to continue to do little things for people around me, so no one would find fault in my demeanor and misattribute it to my religion.”
“How unlucky that one person has the power to determine the shape of another’s life.”
“There was nothing the human heart could not grow to endure, that the miracle of the human heart is that it expands its capacity to love, to accept.”
Please read it. It’s beautiful.  LOVE< LOVE< LOVE!!

the love season

59471398_2400949976790766_6960726490149289984_nThe Love Season by Elin Hilderbrand. Marguerite Beale receives a phone call from her goddaughter, Renata Knox that she is on Nantucket and coming to visit. Renata has been forbidden to see Marguerite by her father for her whole life. Renata’s father has always loved her too much and felt too responsible for her and Renata feels he is weighing her down. Renata’s mother, Candace died when she was only three years old. Marguerite was Candace’s best friend. Renata, recently engaged is on the island to visit her fiancé’s parents. She has overlooked the obvious objections that it was too soon and she was too young to get married, but can she continue to overlook these things?
Marguerite has pretty much been the island recluse for the last fourteen years. She used to be a famous chef and have a very popular restaurant, but after Candace’s death, Marguerite punished herself by becoming a hermit.
When Renata calls, old feelings rise to the surface for Marguerite. “There was a twinge on Marguerite’s heart, like someone tugging on the corner of a blanket, threatening to throw back the covers and expose it all.” Marguerite begins to feel all the things she has forbidden herself to feel for the past fourteen years.
There is a lot of drama on the island and secrets are revealed one by one. This is your typical juicy, summer read from one of my favorite author’s, Elin Hilderbrand.

the dog lived (and so will i)

60011234_288580388756296_273096805481185280_nThe Dog Lived (And So Will I) by Teresa J. Rhyne.  This memoir is about Teresa Rhyne, who is diagnosed with breast cancer right after she has gone through a cancer scare with her beloved beagle, Seamus.

Teresa is an attorney who is having a fling with a much younger man when she decides to adopt another dog. She is still mourning the death of her two other beagles when she stops by to see Seamus and falls immediately in love with him.

Seamus is a handful. He is mischievous, barks constantly when left alone and is always getting into something.  When Teresa finds out Seamus has cancer, she is devastated and willing to go broke if necessary in hopes to save him.

Once it looks like Seamus may survive his cancer scare, Teresa herself discovers a lump and finds out she has breast cancer.  Meanwhile, her little fling has turned into something serious and the boyfriend’s parents have made it clear that they do not approve of the relationship.

Teresa starts a blog and describes in detail her experience of having cancer. The book really is funny, even though it tackles such a serious subject.  Seamus helps Teresa with her cancer battle the way no one else could.

Highly recommend for dog lovers and breast cancer survivors.

the alice network

59450336_657355974702290_7667782449006379008_nThe Alice Network by Kate Quinn.  I would probably have enjoyed this historical novel much more if I had not already read so may books about World War I and II. Here are a few of the great ones I have read: All the Light We Cannot See, The Women in the Castle, The Nightingale, The Lilac Girls, The Book Thief, and Sarah’s Key. All these historical fiction books were fantastic, but I am officially at my limit regarding this time period.
I think because of my subject burnout that The Alice Network just wasn’t as amazing as these other titles. However, I do love reading about strong, brave, independent women. This book has two main characters that are all those things. The story goes back in forth between the current year of 1947 and the year of 1915 during World War I.
Charlie St. Clair is obsessed with finding her beloved cousin Rose. She is also pregnant and unmarried and supposed to be going to have an abortion when she skips town to search for Eve Gardiner, a woman who may have some information about the disappearance of her cousin.
Eve Gardiner was a spy that was part of “the Alice Network” in France during World War I. Eve is a bitter and hard woman that basically drinks herself to oblivion to forget her past and the things that happened to her during the war.
These two end up on the road in search for clues about what happened to Rose. As they travel, we learn all about Eve’s days as a spy and all the horrible things she has endured. The pair is driven along by a chauffeur named Finn, who is a nice addition to the story. He keeps these two women in line and helps ease the pain in both of their hearts.
This book isn’t just about the war and the horrible effects it had on those left behind. It is also about guilt, and redemption, and forgiveness, and survival. It is actually based on a true story. Apparently there really was a spy group of women called the Alice Network during the war. This book is a tribute to the brave, strong and determined women they must have been.

the silent patient

58669655_870041023337947_5450427431221460992_nThe Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. I don’t think I was quite as impressed as everyone else seems to be by this book. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, just a little over-rated and I have read better thrillers.
The Silent Patient is Alicia Bereson. She was a well known painter and she has been in the Grove, a mental institution since she was convicted for the murder of her husband, Gabriel. She hasn’t spoken in years.

Theo Fabor, forensic psychotherapist, succeeds in getting a job at the Grove in hopes to be able to help Alicia. Theo is a wreck and really needs to see a therapist himself. Both Alicia and Theo suffer from the pain of not being loved and they both had damaging childhoods that resulted in abandonment issues.
“The aim of therapy is not to correct the past, but to enable the patient to confront his own history, and to grieve over it.”
Theo is certain that he is the one that can finally break through to Alicia to get her to speak again. As Theo investigates to try to figure out what happened to make Alicia stop speaking, we meet a lot of other characters who all became suspects. I did figure things out, but it was close to the end before I did.  Overall, it wasn’t outstanding but it was a good page-turning book that will keep you guessing what’s really going on.