1921- An attorney and his assistant are summoned to the elegant and elite Newport to rewrite a will and get the legal house in order for a wedding. The problem is that the wedding is between the patriarch of an old money family and a much younger woman of no means. That would be enough for a juicy story but the potential bride to be has been commanded to wed by his dead wife who communicates everything through the young bride's niece during seances. Sound fishy? Of course Bennett Chapman's two kids from the first marriage don't want the wedding and will changed leaving them with nothing, but it is up to the attorneys to determine Mr. Bennett's sanity. Is it possible that Amy is really channeling the former Mrs. Bennett and this is on the level? The story feels like Gatsby meets Miss Marple and they play an afternoon of Clue. There are enough plot twists and turns to keep you engaged to the last page as well as an interesting take on the interest in the occult during that time and the con artists who played upon the old and their money. Mrs. Plum in the library with a candlestick?
It might be the fact that I spent some time in Minnesota and can't get enough of lutefisk jokes or Pat Prager's bars, but I was alternately laughing and listening to my stomach rumble while reading this amazing debut. J. Ryan Stradal gives us an intimate look at how "foodies" think and love. It is the story of the Thorvalds and the confusing childhood of Eva Thorvald. Eva is blessed with her parent's love of food and the genetic wherewithal to be able to distinguish not only what is in dishes but where the produce was grown. This talent will help her with an exceptional career as a chef but won't do her much good with relationships. And this book is all about relationships - between family members, friends, career rivals, love and proper food and wine pairings. The writing is so vivid you can taste the dishes and the characters so human you think of them as neighbors. Be sure to snap this one up in July like a crisp ripe sugarsnap peas off the vine.
Paula McLain writes about strong women who need men and in many ways succeed in their world in spite of them. This is a love story of Kenya and the strong women who settled it, namely Beryl Markham and Karen Blixen. Beryl was raised by her father, surrounded by men and let down by women. As an adult, she succeeded in the male dominated world of horse training and then took to the skies. She made friends with Karen but fell in love with her lover, Denys. Her whole life was spent trying to live up to the expectations of the men in her life and looking for love in all the wrong places. Paula McLain paints a beautiful portrait of a brutal world blending the harshness of the terrain and daily life with the beauty of the native people and landscape. The women of Africa are strong while the men are flawed and so the women who love them become flawed themselves.
You are twelve years old and the next thing you know you are gasping for breath and struggling to free yourself from a coffin. The school uniform is the only thing about you that looks twelve and you can't even remember your name let alone why you were locked in a coffin - and then you hear the others.
One young woman will lead but many will try. Some will even die trying but one thing is certain - they must survive and to survive, they must stay together. I think the scariest thing in a situation is the unknown. Once you identify the bad guy you can defeat him but in "Alive" you don't know what the monster is. This "jump out of your seat, stay up all night reading" thriller is for adults but young adults will truly enjoy the dystopian feel. It gets my scariest book of the summer award.
Scout is in her mid 20's and coming home to Alabama and as it has been said - once you let the boy see the city there is no going back to the farm. Part of her visit is filled with wonder at how nothing has changed and it also fills her with disgust as well to see that nothing has changed. Her whole life she has put father on a pedestal and he is about to topple off. His views of segregation are vastly different from what we saw in " To Kill a Mockingbird'. Her Aunt is dismayed at the way that Scout conducts herself, crazy Uncle Jack make a lot of sense and we know that Hank is not the man that Scout is meant for. Let me say this - will this book replace "To Kill a Mockingbird" in our hearts? No way. Should it be evaluated on it's own ?- Yes. Is Harper Lee's portrayal of the south and the growth of Scout once she fled to New York accurate? - Yes The real question is this - Can you read it without seeing Gregory Peck's face as Atticus Finch? - never.
Zack is your average seventeen year old with the usual high school issues of nerdy friends, vying for the attention of pretty girls and jerky bullies until the day he saw the flying saucer from a video game outside the classroom window. This leads to an instant "Beam me up, Scottie" moment and he later finds himself on the dark side of the moon with people who shouldn't exist playing video games to save the universe. I don't want to spoil the imaginative plot but Ernest Cline presents an interesting conspiracy theory - what if all the video games and all the sci-fi movies were used to train us for war against a very real alien threat? The story takes place over just a few days and moves at lightspeed which is a good thing because once you start you won't be putting the book down. Gamers and sci-fi fans rejoice because the author has just bumped you to the head of the class. Is it real and are you ready?
A damaged kid with an abusive father going to prison goes on what he thinks will be a one-way trip up to the mountains in California where he will end his pitiful life and instead he ends up meeting a group of lost women. He becomes a leader of this group and as their situation worsens he will gain control of them and of his own life as well. The lesson learned in this book is that life is precious and you have to fight to survive sometimes to learn that lesson.
Two young girls move from Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother after their mom can't take care of them any longer. Hyacinth is the grandmother to Phaedra and Dionne and is a wonder of knowledge. The differences in weather, food, clothes and speech are monumental to the girls at first and Hyacinth slowly teaches them the island way. Her message is lost on the older girl, Dionne at first but then she comes around to the wisdom of her grandmother. The younger sister, Phaedra, is a sponge wanting to fit in and find her mother in the island ways. Hyacinth feels the loss of her daughter but sees her in the girls in small ways. It is no surprise that when mom fails them and their dad shows up after years of abandonment, it is Hyacinth's love that will keep them whole. This is a story of family, love and belonging. It transcends culture and age and will find a place in your heart.
A group of friends who band together at Yale share a relationship with an eccentric professor who is later accused of murdering a fellow co-ed. The story bounces back and forth from college days and later years to present. Charlie, Georgia and Alice all have issues and are damaged, but it is Professor Storrow whose career and reputation is shattered.
Fans of the preppy elite falling off the pedestal will delve deeply into this book.
Take one precocious seven year old who has been raised by a no nonsense yet totally inventive grandmother and place a heavy weight on her young shoulders. Her beloved, rather crazy grandmother has died leaving little Elsa unmoored in a sea of uncertainty and grief. Elsa must deliver letters to all the unusual people in her grandmother's life asking for forgiveness. Elsa manages this task while dealing with her mom's preoccupation with her pregnancy,her step dad looking for a way into her heart, her dad's uneasiness in part-time parenting and trying to save all the lost souls her grandmother kept an eye on. You will fall head over heels in love with wise-cracking Elsa and understand the power of the grandmother. Fredrik Backman made us discover a love of the quirky in his first book and now he takes us one step further into the life of a young girl trying to make sense of the real world, not the made up world her grandmother promised her.
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