the sunshine sisters

19399260_270259136714177_6877271573633100356_nThe Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green. This book wasn’t really that beachy, but it would still be the perfect book for a summer afternoon. Ronni Sunshine is a former actress who recently got a bad diagnosis/death sentence of sorts and wants to end her own life before she has to endure all the pain the disease will bring. She calls her three estranged daughters home to reveal the news and her plan. She wants to apologize for not being the mother they deserved and have them all there with her when she dies. Her diagnosis made her made her realize the damage she has done to her daughters. The one last thing she can for them is try to bring them back together. She now realizes she wasn’t a good mother, too focused on her career and disinterested with her children. “By the time they were old enough for me to want to get to know them, none of them were interested.” Dying has brought everything back into focus.

Enters Ronni’s three daughters, the Sunshine Sisters:

Lizzy is the youngest sister and she is the most like her mother. She is a renowned chef, in a failed marriage, driven and gorgeous. She has always been the wild child and the one who got away with the most when it came to getting in trouble with her mother.

Meredith is the middle sister. She left home for London because her mother never made her feel good enough. She is engaged to a man she really doesn’t like. She is a very sweet person who lacks self-confidence and doesn’t think she can do any better than her fiancé.

Nell is the oldest daughter. As soon as she was old enough she fled her mother’s home to work on a farm and has been there ever since. Nell is a loner who doesn’t expect anything from anyone. She is strong, self-sufficient, but scared to let her guard down. She is alone because of her fears.

None of the sisters have ever been able to accept their mother with all her self-absorbed, dramatic flaws. They resent her for not being warm, interested, concerned and for not being maternal.” They have all endured a lot of hurt and have issues because of their mother. Will they be able to forgive their mother before she dies? Will they be able to build their relationships with each other?

The book goes back to look at all their lives leading up to where they are now. A really good women’s fiction, chick-lit, beach read.

Quote: “If we’re not showing other people our true selves, our weaknesses and flaws, how can we ever allow ourselves to be known?”


the curious charms…

19400836_10155128682113392_1592830941_oThe Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Arthur Pepper has been a lonely widower for a year when he finds a charm bracelet he never knew existed that belonged to his wife. Arthur has pretty much spent all the time since his wife died like a recluse, isolated from others and depressed.  “He carried his loss around with him like a bowling bowl in the pit of his stomach.” “The only feelings he experienced were sadness, disappointment and melancholy.”  “There didn’t seem much point in discovering things alone.”

Arthur’s curiosity gets the best of him and he begins his adventure of tracking down where this bracelet and charms came from and why his wife had them. The search stirs something in Arthur and he experiences “emotions he didn’t know existed.  He began to discover people that excited him.  It made him feel alive.” With each person he encounters along the way, Arthur begins to change and grow.  He discovers things about himself: He was braver than he thought.  He was good at offering advice to others. He was more open and accepting of others than he knew.  He was stronger and had more depth.  These people stirred a desire in him to carry on with life.

The characters he meets along the way are all curious and charming as well. There is Bernadette, the neighborhood woman who likes lost causes and takes it upon herself to try to help them, including Arthur.  Bernadette’s strange, silent son Nathan. The man who lives with tigers, a former drug addict who is now a peddler, a gay young man who lives and takes care of an old, demented writer, a friendly man from India and a rude woman painter.  Each of these characters have their own story. Arthur really struggles with all the people and things that his wife Miriam kept from him, but by the end of the book he was made peace with it, made a lot of friends and come out of his shell.  “The past year of living alone had made the color fade from his life.  He had needed something to fill the void.” And he finds it.  Lovely and charming book!

the sun is also a star

19105650_267104003696357_497791591666260159_nThe Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.

So I liked Nicola Yoon’s other book so much, that I immediately picked up her other one and I liked it even better!!

This young adult novel takes place in one day. It centers around two characters, Natasha and Daniel, who run into each other and fall in love in the course of the day. Both characters are having family issues and we learn about those as the two find solace in one another.

Daniel is headed out for an entrance interview that may land him as a student at Yale. He is being pressured by his parents to go to Yale to become a doctor, but in his heart he really just wants to be a poet.   His father will do anything to guarantee that he and Charlie have a better life than he did.

Daniel has very romantic ideas about life and be believes everything happens for a reason. He really struggles with his identity and nationality/race.  His parents think he’s not Korean enough, everybody else things he isn’t American enough.

Natasha is headed out in desperation because her family is to be deported to Jamaica that night and she will do everything she can to prevent it.   Natasha’s father is an unemployed want to be actor who has pretty much given up on life. It is his fault the family is being deported. He got a DUI and basically told the cops he was living in America illegally.  Natasha used to adore her father and now she can barely stand the sight of him.

Natasha is very scientific. She doesn’t believe in love and she thinks, “Life is just a random series of good and bad things that happen until one day you die.”  She thinks life has no meaning and tries to avoid being hopeful because she feels that, “the trouble with getting your hopes too far up is: It’s a long way down.”

Daniel says of Natasha, “I wonder why a girl who is obviously passionate is so adamantly against passion.”

What I really loved about the book is the brief glances we got into the lives of those people Natasha and Daniel encounter through the day. We get a glimpse inside their heads.  It just goes to show that you never know what’s going on in a person’s life.

I won’t tell you how it ends, but you will find yourself hoping these two end up together. You will laugh and you may even tear up a little.   I loved it!!

A few quotes:

Natasha’s father: “You can get lost in your own mind, like you gone to another country.” All your thoughts in another language and you can’t read the signs even though they everywhere around you.”

“Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.”

“We have big, beautiful brains. We invent things that fly. Fly. We write poetry. You probably hate poetry, but it’s hard to argue with ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate’ in terms of sheer beauty. We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing? We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.”

Natasha: “I know there’s no such thing as meant-to-be, and yet here I am wondering if maybe I’ve been wrong.”


everything, everything

19125369_10155098380063392_153152696_oEverything, Everything,” by Nicola Yoon was a quirky little teenaged romance that I adored, but it was so much more than just a love story. Madeline has lived her entire life in her mother’s home because of a severe allergy to the outside world. Anything and everything can make her extremely ill and even cause death. Madeline seems to have taken her fate very well. She remains positive and travels places in the books she reads and in her vivid imagination.

Then she discovers Olly, a handsome young man that moves in to the house next door and makes Madeline suddenly aware of the life she is missing.   Soon these two begin communicating through instant messages and develop a deep attraction that stems into love.

Madeline: “I was happy before I met him. But I’m alive now, and those are not the same thing.” “How can I live the rest of my life in this bubble now that I know all that I’m missing?” “For the first time in a long time, I want more than I have.”

There is a plot twist near the middle of the book that I had figured out already. The book was funny, sad, and touching. I read this book in one day. I laughed. I even teared up a little.  The characters had a lot of insightful things to say about life and love. I think the ultimate question here is, “How much are you willing to risk for love?”

Quotes from the book:

“Everything’s a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.”

“Maybe growing up means disappointing the people we love.”

“Love is worth everything. Everything.”

“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”

“You’re not living if you’re not regretting.”

the forever summer

51obNoQMjdLMarin, Rachel and Blythe pack up their suitcases and head to the charming Beach Rose Inn in Provincetown for an impromptu week at the beach that turns into a whole summer.

Marin has left her fiancé to be with the man she has been having an affair with for some time. Soon after she breaks off the engagement, she is fired from the law firm she works at because of the affair she has been having with the colleague (Julian). Julian reacts by suggesting they not see each other anymore. Marin feels completely unmoored and dislocated and reluctantly agrees to make the trip to Provincetown with Rachel to escape her problems.

Rachel is the half-sister Marin never knew about who shows up and convinces Marin to make the trip with her to visit their newly discovered grandmother.  Rachel never had much family and is ecstatic to meet her new relatives.

Blythe, Marin’s mother, goes along on the trip to be moral support for her daughter and to try to get over the fact that her husband has been having an affair and has just asked her for a divorce. She is also trying to make amends with Marin, who is very hurt and angry that her mother kept this grandmother and other secrets from her all these years.

Amelia, owner of the Beach Rose Inn and newly discovered grandmother welcomes the women to her home with open arms and an open heart. She is battling her own issues with her estranged children and is thrilled by the discovery that she has other family.

As the women stay at the inn, the ocean is an offering of peace and happiness and the sunshine helps cure their woes. Secrets are revealed and drama ensues as all the women struggle to come to terms with their secrets, hardships and each other.

Perfect read for a beach day, trip or vacation!!! For those who enjoy women’s fiction.