Alice is grieving the loss of her husband throwing all her energy into expanding her new love - beekeeping. An "accidental" meeting teams her up with a wheelchair bound teen searching for meaning with his life. Adding to this merry little band of misfits is Harry who is running from his past and responds to Alice's ad but he is terrified of the bees. Together they will take on a big pesticide manufacturer and fight for the bees. They will also get a lesson in family and community. Sweet story with feel good characters found in books by Fredrik Backman and Fannie Flagg. 4 stars
A young Korean-American woman deals with the illness that robs her of her mother and the grief that comes after losing her. Food connects us to where we come from, to our family, and our own history.
This memoir is a celebration of that connecting her to her mother's dishes, to the food they experienced during their trips back to Korea and to Michele's recreation of those dishes in the states. It is a powerful, painful and heartfelt story that shows the connections between mother and daughter, the two cultures that helped shape her and losing her mother to a horrible disease that she was felt powerless to control. It is a story that speaks to all of us. 4 1/2 stars
Identical twins Cat and El grow up sharing everything living in an imaginative fantasy world of their own design called Mirrorland. That is until the boy next door chooses El to fall in love with and Cat runs away to L.A. Cat gets a frantic call that El is missing at sea and just like that she is back in Scotland and Mirrorland. Someone is leaving her threatening notes and text messages with clues to find Cat's diary pages. Is El dead or is she the one leaving clues for Cat to find her? This is a superbly written tense thriller that proves once again that you can't go back home again because all those secrets are still there. Sure to mess with your head and delight readers who crave smart plots. 4 stars
During the Gilded Age in New York you had to have money to play but you had to have old money to be a player in Caroline Astor's court. When upstart Alva Vanderbilt tries to compete for the top hostess spot she finds herself shunned publicly time and time again. Decades pass and these two women watch their children grow up and make bad choices, their husbands leave and make bad choices and they are still locking horns. What seems frivolous and extreme gossip was social death back then. Even without social media the society pages and gossip mill was damaging enough. Powerful families head by powerful women who left quite a cultural legacy behind. Think of this as mean girl historical fiction. 4 stars
One big cat and mouse game that involves a young girl with a multiple personality disorder and a murder. Grace and family love the day that they found a very young girl wandering alone at the park and even more that they were able to adopt her. Penny has had some setbacks but nothing really prepared Grace when she got the call that Penny had been arrested for the murder of her birth mother. Several personalities present themselves as her doctor, defense attorney and Grace all try to piece together what happened and who was really there that day. The story doesn't shy away from the violence and pain of living with this disorder nor does it condemn the families and patients who are going through it. An intense thriller that makes you think. 4 stars
4 1/2 stars
A change for historical fiction author Paula McLain. She goes deep and dark with this thriller to tell the story of a damaged police detective who goes home again to Mendocino to heal and instead gets pulled into the disappearance of a young girl and possibly others in 1993. Anna knows her stuff as she usually deals with runaways in San Francisco but coming back home forces her to deal with her past and her future. While the subject matter of child kidnapping and abuse is difficult to read, the author handles it in a way that is heartfelt and compassionate. Paula McLain is a welcome addition to the growing market of thrillers with deeper characters with flaws and important social issues. 4 1/2 stars
A couple unable to have children become foster parents to a cluster of irresistible misfits. Agnes arrives unable to do little more than grunt and understand that she is allowed to eat at a table. She is supposed to be there only a few days but manages to make herself a part of this family forever. As a small undernourished six year old Agnes has only known unkindness but once she lands on the Moscatelli's doorstep their lives will all be changed forever. Parents Dahlia and Lou teach by example so that the kids know that even at the darkest point of the kids lives they will always have someone on their side. This is a timeless story of love and compassion that is beautifully told and leaves you begging for more about the Moscatellis. Beware, this book is a heartbreaker that will have you finishing the last page with a deep sigh and sniffle ,and wondering what the next chapter will be like for all of them. This book will appeal to anyone who wants deep characters who
have had a hard life without losing themselves or their humanity. Fans of Willy Vlautin and Andrew Graff's RIVER OF STARS will find much here. 4 1/2 stars
A new look at the classic Sleeping Beauty tale. In the kingdom there is a truce that balances the Fae and humans from the evil Vila. Wealthy humans buy beauty, grace and good health from The Graces who have been blessed with Fae blood. There is one Grace who has not been blessed but still serves the Briar with her mild curse and tainted blood. Alyce, nicknamed Malice is shunned by all except Princess Aurora who befriends her and seeks her help in breaking the curse that will end her life unless she finds true love. Alyce is starting to understand that she may be more powerful but that might not save her from being used for evil. This is a well thought out retelling and the start of a promising new series. Aurora is not your average Disney princess and Alyce is not your average bad fairy sorceress.
This will be a great crossover from young adult to adult fantasy readers. 4 stars
Sisters are special. They protect each other and share secrets. They can also take over. Rose and Fern had a rocky childhood living with a chaotic single mom with an addiction and an unpredictable home life. Rose always took care of Fern who was a little different than other kids (on the spectrum). Now that they are adults Rose is still taking care of Fern, maybe a little too much. But then Fern meets someone who cuts into Rose's hold on her life. Twists and turns lead us back and forth between the sisters and their past until we question who is telling the real story. I loved the way the author chose to highlight the positive aspects of Fern's sensory difficulties and the ways the library staff embraced those differences and spotlighted all of her skills. A dark tale with a silver lining this is a thriller with heart. Fans of ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE and ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER as well as the usual lineup of great thrillers will enjoy this book. 4 stars
Having always been interested in larger than life Nellie Bly I knew that there had to be many more women journalists who were pioneers in a world dominated by men. So, how do you get out of writing snippets in the society pages and do some real journalism when you can't even vote, sit on a jury and are not taken seriously? You work for free, work under an assumed male name or become a "girl reporter". These brave women put themselves in dangerous situations that even their male counterparts would not have done to expose scandals , dangerous situations and deplorable social conditions. They searched out women like themselves and became advocates for women's rights.
Some, like Nellie Bly, would achieve fame but most had their best efforts go unnoticed by the public.
Not only is this an in depth look at the "girl stunt reporters" but it is also an interesting look at the high jinx between the two biggest publishers - Heart and Pulitzer in their endless feud and quest for being crowned king of the publishing world. Kim Todd shares her research at the end of the book which tied up loose ends and I found very interesting. For any reader who enjoys learning more about the unsung female heroes.
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