A whodunnit of sorts when a renter dies no one is sure if it is a suicide, accident or foul play at a self storage facility in Cambridge. The deceased was a street photographer with a unit bursting at the seams with undeveloped prints. As the owner of the storage facility and others probe deeper into the life of the photographer and his subjects the secret lives of some of the other renters comes to the surface. These tenants are diverse and all have their own reasons for being at Metropolis - an undocumented college student finishing her dissertation , a depressed and lonely mother who hides in the unit made up of her children's bedroom furnishings, the attorney who gave up the big office to work out of the storage unit and the office manager who looks the other way for a bit more cash. Told in an alternating time line before and after the incident. Their stories come together for an interesting ending. 3 stars
On the day Alice turns forty she reevaluates her life which is pretty much how she thought it would be except for her dad who is hanging on to life from a hospital bed. Since the beginning it has always been Alice and her dad after Alice's mom left Alice to be raised almost solely by Lawrence.
As if by some strange bit of kismet Alice wakes up in her dad's house not as a 40 year old but back as a 16 year old. Ironically, Lawrence is a children's book author who has had a very successful series of two brothers who time travel which allows him to accept his daughter's adventures. Now that she is back with her best friend, a healthy version of her dad, and has the means to change their lives will she make good use of the gift? Given chances to back doesn't mean Alice will know when to stop or which version is best. Time travel junkies will find much to ponder but also those daughters who wish for more time with their parents and the chance to say I love you and thanks for all of it. A heartbreaker, tearjerker ,thought provoking look at life and the paths we choose. 5 LibraryReads stars
How long can you keep your identity a secret? For Sylvia, once known as Iris, the answer was "until now". She began her life as one of six girls born into the famous East Coast Chapel family whose fortune from a successful firearms company insured that she and her sisters would be very marriageable. Sadly a curse of massive proportions begins picking off the sisters as soon as they marry. Not wanting to end up in an institution like her mother or worse, Iris finds the only way out is to take on a new identity as Sylvia Wren an artist living a quiet life in New Mexico. That is until a journalist puts together the pieces. Gothic writing style combined with a historically accurate story with a feminist twist that focuses on age old battles women faced of not having control of their lives and total intolerance for being different. This is based on a very famous heiress with gun money roots, Sarah L. Winchester who also struggled with a curse. This will appeal to lovers of gothic classics as well as more spirited reads celebrating feminist viewpoints like PLAIN BAD HEROINES. 4 stars
A broad collection of short stories that highlight our need for connection and human frailty. It doesn't matter if it is a one sided love affair between an older rancher and the very young quirky horse wrangler or a quick romantic interlude between a gymnast and track and field hurdler at the Olympic games we see something in the characters that we can relate to. The comic moments are balanced with tragic scenes and we let Maggie Shipstead do what she does best and that is to introduce us to the best and worst sides of ourselves. 3 stars
Andrea and Maeve are subjected to a strange upbringing in a motherhood cult until the cult is raided and they go their separate ways. Later as adults they are reunited and Andrea pushes hard for Maeve to give up her eggs allowing Andrea and her husband to have the child they are desperate for but unable to conceive. Maeve is going through a hard time and Andrea is more than happy to help for a price. Strange events and flashbacks of when they were young take the story on a course similar to HANDMAIDS TALE or ROSEMARY'S BABY. Horror, creepy motherhood cults and paranoia for all - this is a scary book that reminds us that mother is always watching.
1964 Hollywood royalty go on a safari to celebrate the marriage of everyone's darling Katie Barstow to her Prince Charming. Traveling with them are their closest friends - fellow actors, her agent and publicist as well as her brother and sister in law. In addition to the friends they have a big game hunter and a small army of porters and guides. What could go wrong? The trip starts off well with everyone amazed by the splendor of the African savannah and the chance to see these creatures up close. All is well until it isn't. Russians seem to arrive from nowhere guns blazing and soon those who are left have been captured or thought dead. They come to a stunning realization that they are in as much danger from their captors as they are from what lies in the tall grass. These are dangers they are not prepared for as they are pitted against animal violence and human violence. An adrenaline filled nightmare with snippets of the golden age of Hollywood. This is the romantic landscape of OUT OF AFRICA, the violence and politics of Wilbur Smith's novels and the animal cast of John Wayne's HATARI - be prepared to think twice about visiting a zoo in the near future. This may be one of my favorite Chris Bohjalian books so far. 5 stars
Monsters are all around us lurking in the back studio alleys, the casting rooms and on the screen.
Luli Wei learned at an early age how to control men and took full advantage of that skill to land her screen time as a child actor then playing lesser background characters. When her chance at real roles came she didn't hesitate knowing that she would sell her soul to become a screen legend. The head of the studio didn't hesitate to take his pound of flesh either. We meet the men and women of Hollywood moviemaking in the 1930's where who you are, who you love and what you are wiling to sacrifice for a dream all play a major role. This is the land of monsters both good and bad. The historical side of this with all the discrimination, hiding of non approved relationships and the many ways to take unfair advantage by those in power is right on target. The other side of the story is about magic and monsters - those smoky shape shifting creatures in power and those who will give up everything for a taste of immortality on the screen. An atmospheric and unique look at the monsters around us and in us on and off the silver screen. 4 1/2 stars
Sam, his brother Charlie and Persephone (Percy) are inseparable every summer at the lake. Every year Percy's heart does flip flops not from flinging herself off jump rock but due to the deep blue of Sam's eyes or his big smile at seeing her. They are best friends until it is clear it is more but then something happens that tears them apart. It will take the boy's mom dying and a request to attend her funeral at the lake to mend what might not be able to be mended. A sweet and spicy romance coming of age story that speaks to the power of summer romances at a lake and proves that the best love stories of our lives begin as friendships. This is a bit spicier than the average Hallmark channel offering but will still appeal to most romance lovers. 3 1/2 stars
Willy May's journey takes her from small town Texas, to England when she marries a beer baron, to her private yacht and finally to Mustique Island. It is the 70's and women are just starting to exert themselves but Willy has always been very private so why not celebrate a fresh start with a beautiful house on a privately owned island. Willy May does her best to straddle the extravagant lifestyle of the Brits who live there including Princess Margaret with the islanders who she has grown to love. When her grown daughters come to join her on Mustique she hopes they will stay but they are looking for their own version of home. This colorful and wild story is based on the very real guests of Mustique Island and the very real issues of class, race and the cost of tourism that accompanied them.
It is a warm human story blended with historical gossip and an armchair chance to rub elbows with British royalty and rock legends. Fans of DAISY JONES AND THE SIX, SISTER STARDUST and MARY JANE will find much to reminisce and love hers. 4 stars
Hannah has grown up with certain truths - her mother is fragile and is now battling cancer, she has only known her father through her mother's diary and she wants justice. Her plan is to infiltrate the Innocence Project at UVA and become part of the team who are looking to free a killer who has been in prison for 11 years. The attorneys and fellow law students want to see an innocent man freed but Hannah may have other ideas. Legal hijinks and smart writing with twists similar to John Grisham, Dervla McTiernan's novel delivers a strong willed young woman who desperately wants to see justice done for the wrongs committed to her mom. This is a great pick for legal eagles, those who love mother/daughter relationship stories and our favorite unreliable narrator stories. Full of flawed but good hearted battling the truly evil characters this will wring your heart dry. I also listened to the audiobook version and truly loved the story in different ways. 4 stars
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