Lori and Julia Book Club 2020: “Luster” by Raven Leilani
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Lori and Julia Book Club 2020: “Luster” by Raven Leilani

Tuesday, October 27th: “Luster” by Ravel Leilani

With her debut novel, Raven paints a searing picture of being a young woman, a young black woman with such vivid descriptions you acutely feel her knowledge, pains and joys. This is a hard book in that it will make stay with you, make you think, wonder and judge: 3 stars!

Summary from goodreads.com: “Luster sees a young black woman figuring her way into life as an artist and into love in this darkly comic novel. She meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage. In this world of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics, Edie finds herself unemployed and living with Eric. She becomes hesitant friend to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie is the only black woman young Akila may know.”
 

 

Tuesday, October 20th: “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab

Without a doubt, our favorite book of 2020! An epic story of a life no one will remember and definitely a story you won’t forge. If you loved The Time Travelers Wife this book is for you: 4 stars!

Summary from goodreads.com: “France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.”

 

Tuesday, October 13th: “Ivisible Girl” by Lisa Jewell

This is a page turner!  We loved this book: 4 stars! 

Summary from goodreads.com: “Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

With evocative, vivid, and unputdownable prose and plenty of disturbing twists and turns, Jewell’s latest thriller is another “haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author).”

 

Thursday, October 8th: “Funeral For A Friend” by Brian Freeman

We are big fans of Brian Freeman and anything he writes. This is the 10th book in the Jonathan Stride series and maybe the best one yet (and we have loved them all). If you are a fan of the literary characters of Bosch, Lucas Davenport, Cork O’Conner, Jack Reacher – here’s a series for you: 3 1/2 stars!

Summary from goodreads.com: “Jonathan Stride s best friend, Steve Garske, makes a shocking deathbed confession: he protected Stride by covering up a murder. Hours later, the police dig up Steve s yard and find a body with a bullet hole in its skull.

Stride is pretty sure he knows who it is. Seven years ago, an out-of-town reporter disappeared while investigating anonymous allegations of rape against a prominent politician. Back then, the police believed that the reporter drowned at a dangerous swimming hole called the Deeps but the discovery of the body changes everything. Now Stride s partner, Maggie Bei, is forced to ask Stride an uncomfortable question: Did you kill him?

Stride is obviously hiding things. He was the last person to see the reporter alive. And he admits lying to Maggie about that meeting, but won t tell her why. With suspicion in the murder pointing at him, Stride finds himself off the case and on leave from the Duluth Police.

His only ally in clearing his name is his wife, Serena, who retraces the reporter s investigation into the explosive allegations. The clues all point to a hot Duluth summer years earlier that everyone in town would prefer to forget.

Someone was willing to kill rather than let those long-ago secrets come out, and the suspect with the strongest motive is Stride.”

 

Wednesday, October 7th: “The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes” by Elissa Sloan

We loved this book even though you know something very tragic at the beginning of book. Agree that this is In the vein of Daisy Jones & The Six and Everything I Never Told You, this debut novel probes the dark side of fame: 4 stars!
Summary from goodreads.com:  “Cassidy Holmes isn’t just a celebrity. She is “Sassy Gloss,” the fourth member of the hottest pop group America has ever seen. Hotter than Britney dancing with a snake, hotter than Christina getting dirrty, Gloss was the pop act that everyone idolized. Fans couldn’t get enough of them, their music, and the drama that followed them like moths to a flame—until the group’s sudden implosion in 2002. And at the center of it all was Sassy Cassy, the Texan with a signature smirk that had everyone falling for her.

But now she’s dead. Suicide.

The world is reeling from this unexpected news, but no one is more shocked than the three remaining Glossies. Fifteen years ago, Rose, Merry, and Yumi had been the closest to Cassidy, and this loss is hitting them hard. Before the group split, they each had a special bond with Cassidy—truths they told, secrets they shared. But after years apart, each of them is wondering: what could they have done?

Told in multiple perspectives—including Cassidy herself—and different timelines, this is a behind-the-scenes look into the rise and fall of a pop icon, and a penetrating examination of the dark side of celebrity and the industry that profits from it”.

 

Thursday, October 1st: “Jenna Takes The Fall” by A.R. Taylor

This is a fun read.  Telling a story about what happens when money, power, sex, art and youth meet: 3 Stars!

Summary from goodreads.com: “Twenty-four years old and newly employed in Manhattan, Jenna McCann agrees to place herself under the dead body of a wealthy, prominent New Yorker―her boss―to hide the identity of his real lover. But why?

Because she is half in love with him herself; because her only friend at Hull Industries asked her to; because she feared everyone around her; because she had no idea how this would spin out into her own, undeveloped life; because she had nothing and no one?

Or just because?

Deftly told and sharply observed, Jenna Takes the Fall is the story of someone who became infamous… before she became anybody at all.”

 

Wednesday, September 23rd: “The Lions of Fifth Avenue” by Fiona Day

We loved this book so much. Highly recommend. Bestselling author Fiona Davis’ latest historical novel is about a series of book thefts that roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces: 4 stars!

Summary from goodreads.com: “It’s 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn’t ask for more out of life–her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she finds herself drawn to Greenwich Village’s new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club–a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women’s rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she’s forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she’s wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie’s running begin disappearing from the library’s famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage–truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library’s history.”

 

Thursday, September 10th: “One by One” by Ruth Ware

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain. We are in love with this author – everything she writes! Her latest is maybe her best!

Summary from goodreads.com: “Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?”

 

Wednesday, August 26th: “Friends and Strangers: by J. Courtney Sullivan

We enjoyed this insightful, hilarious, and compulsively readable novel about a complicated friendship between two women who are at two very different stages in life, from the best-selling author of Maine and Saints for All Occasions (named one of the Washington Post’s Ten Best Books of the Year and a New York Times Critics’ Pick): 3 stars! 

Summary from goodreads.com: “Elisabeth, an accomplished journalist and new mother, is struggling to adjust to life in a small town after nearly twenty years in New York City. Alone in the house with her infant son all day, she feels uneasy, adrift. She neglects her work, losing untold hours to her Brooklyn moms’ Facebook group, her “influencer” sister’s Instagram feed, and text messages with the best friend she never sees anymore.

Enter Sam, a senior at the local women’s college, whom Elisabeth hires to babysit. Sam is struggling to decide between the path she’s always planned on and a romantic entanglement that threatens her ambition. She’s worried about student loan debt and what the future holds. In short order, they grow close. But when Sam finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Elisabeth’s father-in-law, the true differences between the women’s lives become starkly revealed and a betrayal has devastating consequences.

A masterful exploration of motherhood, power dynamics, and privilege in its many forms, Friends and Strangers reveals how a single year can shape the course of a life.”

 

Thursday, August 13th: “How Lulu Lost Her Mind” by Rachel Gibson

We really enjoyed this book from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson. This is a charming story of a mother-daughter journeye to rediscover the past before it disappears forever: 3 stars!

Summary courtesy of goodreads.com:

“Lou Ann Hunter’s mother, Patricia, has always had a passionate nature, which explains why she’s been married and divorced five times and spooned enough male patients to be ousted from three elderly care facilities. She also has Alzheimer’s, which is why she wants to spend her remaining months or years surrounded by memories at her family’s decrepit old plantation in Louisiana with her only daughter.

Lou Ann, a.k.a. Lulu the Love Guru, has built an empire preaching sex, love, and relationship advice to the women of America—mostly by defying the example her mother has set for her. But with her mother suddenly in need of a fulltime caretaker, Lou Ann reluctantly agrees to step out of the spotlight and indulge her mother’s wishes, even if it means trading in her Louboutins and Chanel No. 5 for boots and mosquito repellant.

Upon arrival at Sutton Hall, Lou Ann discovers that very little functions at it should, least of all her mother’s mind. She is haunted not only by creaky floorboards and things that go bump in the night, but also by the living ghost sleeping downstairs. Every good day Patricia and Lou Ann have treasure hunting in the attic seems to be followed by two days of meltdowns and cold shoulders. And as Lou Ann adjusts to this new and inevitably temporary dynamic, she is forced to confront the fact that her mother’s fate is completely out of her hands—and the end may be coming quicker than she even thought possible.

Heartrending at times and laugh-out-loud funny at others, How Lulu Lost Her Mind is the book for anyone whose mom has ever made them cry—whether tears of joy, regret, frustration, love, or all of the above.”

 

Tuesday, August 4th: “The Heir Affair” by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

In 2015 when we read the ROYAL WE, Harry & Meghan had not happened yet and we just loved this story about an American woman falling in love with the heir to the British throne. The sequel to that book is here!

Summary courtesy of goodreads.com:  “So after marrying the heir to the throne, Rebecca “Bex” Porter must survive her own scandals as she adjusts to life in the glamorous British royal family, in this “highly anticipated” follow-up to The Royal We, the “fun and dishy” bestseller and NYT Summer Reading List pick inspired by Will and Kate’s romance (People).

After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca “Bex” Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world’s judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.

But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they’d placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick’s brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten — nor forgiven.”

 

Tuesday, July 28th: “A Star is Bored” by Byron Lane

This is a very funny but sweetly tender story of a young man coming of age in Hollywood (while being a personal assistant to a very famous woman – hello Carrie Fisher! A perfect beach read with some incredible insight into the life of the truly rich and famous.

Summary courtesy of Goodreads.com:  “A hilariously heartfelt novel about living life at full force, and discovering family when you least expect it, influenced in part by the author’s time as Carrie Fisher’s beloved assistant. Charlie Besson is about to have an insane job interview. His car is idling, like his life, outside the Hollywood mansion of Kathi Kannon. THE Kathi Kannon, star of stage and screen and People magazine’s worst dressed list. She needs an assistant. He needs a hero.

Kathi is an icon, bestselling author, and an award winning actress, most known for her role as Priestess Talara in the iconic blockbuster sci-fi film. She’s also known for another role: crazy Hollywood royalty. Admittedly so. Famously so. Fabulously so.

Charlie gets the job, and embarks on an odyssey filled with late night shopping sprees, last minute trips to see the aurora borealis, and an initiation to that most sacred of Hollywood tribes: the personal assistant. But Kathi becomes much more than a boss, and as their friendship grows, Charlie must make a choice. Will he always be on the sidelines of life, assisting the great forces that be, or can he step into his own leading role?”

 

Wednesday, July 15th: “The Sweeney Sisters” by Lian Dolan

Lian Dolan has done it again with her 3rd novel, The Sweeney Sisters. Rich and wonderful – we loved every page. A yummy book  about family and sisters to cozy up to! 4 stars!

Summary courtesy of goodreads.com: “Maggie, Eliza, and Tricia Sweeney grew up as a happy threesome in the idyllic seaside town of Southport, Connecticut. But their mother’s death from cancer fifteen years ago tarnished their golden-hued memories, and the sisters drifted apart. Their one touchstone is their father, Bill Sweeney, an internationally famous literary lion and college professor universally adored by critics, publishers, and book lovers. When Bill dies unexpectedly one cool June night, his shell-shocked daughters return to their childhood home. They aren’t quite sure what the future holds without their larger-than-life father, but they do know how to throw an Irish wake to honor a man of his stature.

But as guests pay their respects and reminisce, one stranger, emboldened by whiskey, has crashed the party. It turns out that she too is a Sweeney sister.

When Washington, DC based journalist Serena Tucker had her DNA tested on a whim a few weeks earlier, she learned she had a 50% genetic match with a childhood neighbor—Maggie Sweeney of Southport, Connecticut. It seems Serena’s chilly WASP mother, Birdie, had a history with Bill Sweeney—one that has remained totally secret until now.

Once the shock wears off, questions abound. What does this mean for William’s literary legacy? Where is the unfinished memoir he’s stashed away, and what will it reveal? And how will a fourth Sweeney sister—a blond among redheads—fit into their story?

By turns revealing, insightful, and uproarious, The Sweeney Sisters is equal parts cautionary tale and celebration—a festive and heartfelt look at what truly makes a family.)”

 

Monday, July 13th: “Golden Cage” by Camilla Läckberg

The author is a superstar best selling author who unfortunately is not able to do an interview with us. But we are instant fans after reading our 1st “Camilla” book. A taut twisty psychological thriller that we could not stop reading. 4 stars! 

Summary courtesy of Goodreads.comAn exhilarating new novel from a global superstar–a sexy, over-the-top psychological thriller that tells the story of the scorned wife of a billionaire and her delicious plot to get her revenge and bring him to his knees.

Faye has loved Jack since they were students at business school. Jack, the perpetual golden boy, grew up wealthy, unlike Faye, who has worked hard to bury a dark past. When Jack needs help launching a new company, Faye leaves school to support him, waitressing by day and working as his strategist by night. With the business soaring, Faye and Jack have a baby, and Faye finds herself at home, caring for their daughter, wealthier than she ever imagined, but more and more removed from the excitement of the business world. And none of the perks of wealth make up for the fact that Jack has begun to treat her coldly, undermining her intelligence and forgetting all she sacrificed for his success. When Faye discovers that he’s having an affair, the polished facade of their life cracks wide open. Faye is alone, emotionally shattered, and financially devastated–but hell hath no fury like a woman with a violent past bent on vengeance. Jack is about to get exactly what he deserves–and so much more. In this splashy, electrifying story of sex, betrayal, and secrets, a woman’s revenge is a brutal but beautiful thing.”

 

Friday, July 10th: “The Wedding Thief” by Mary Simses


A perfect summer read! Very enjoyable. Funny, lighthearted and lovely. 3.5 stars!

“Two sisters in love with the same man — one engaged to him and the other about to sabotage the wedding — struggle to reconcile in this delicious novel from the bestselling author of The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café. The Harrington sisters have never gotten along. Sara is a Type-A, career-focused event planner, and her younger sister Mariel is the opposite: bohemian, semi-employed, and recently engaged. When Sara’s mother lures her back to Connecticut under false pretenses, she is perturbed to discover Mariel waiting for her, eager to reconcile their relationship — and get some help with the final arrangements before her big day. The two sisters haven’t spoken since the night Sara realized something was going on between Mariel and Sara’s boyfriend, Carter Pryce. And now Mariel is about to marry Carter, the man she stole from Sara, the man Sara still loves….”

 

Wednesday, July 8th: “The Man With Lightening In His Eye” by Sid Gateaux

 A novel in the vein of of Raymond Chandler – we really enjoyed this book!

Set in the early 20th century in the fictional MN town of St Anthony (Mpls). The story follows the adventures of an unlikely hero, Johnny Holiday. Johnny, an aspiring journalist looking for a big break finds himself caught up in a world of gamblers, gangsters, witchcraft, police corruption and murder. A mysterious page turner with a great character as the lead.

From goodreads.com: “Set in the fictional city of Saint Anthony (Minneapolis, MN), in the early twentieth century, we are introduced to Johnny Holiday, an unlikely hero.

Commissioned to write a biographical essay on a wealthy man’s son-in-law, and to investigate his disappearance, Johnny finds himself caught up in a world of gamblers and gangsters, witchcraft and alchemy, police corruption and murder.”

 

Tuesday, June 23rd: “28 Summers” by Elin Hilderbrand

 By the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Summer of ’69 and so many other great books – always taking place on Nantucket. One of our favorite authors and she has done it again!

From goodreads.com: “Their secret love affair has lasted for decades — but this could be the summer that changes everything. When Mallory Blessing’s son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he’s not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It’s the late spring of 2020 and Jake’s wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.

There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other? Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother’s bachelor party. Cooper’s friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere — through marriage, children, and Ursula’s stratospheric political rise — until Mallory learns she’s dying.”

 

Thursday, June 18th: “The Happy Ever After Playlist” by Abbey Jimenez

We both loved this delightful book and it was a perfect escape with wonderful characters, sexy love scenes and some really great insights on a couple of serious subjects. Highly recommended!

From goodreads.com: “Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?”

 

Tuesday, June 16th: “Sea Wife” by Amity Gaige

This was a really interesting story because we had not thought of ever living a life on a boat and sailing for a year! This story explores a marriage, giving up a dream for children and is told in a 2 person narrative. It is not a light story but Lori loved it and Julia listened to it and did not like as much.

From goodreads.com: “From the highly acclaimed author of Schroder, a smart, sophisticated page literary page-turner about a young family who escape suburbia for a yearlong sailing trip that upends all of their lives. Juliet is failing to juggle motherhood and her stalled-out dissertation on confessional poetry when her husband, Michael, informs her that he wants to leave his job and buy a sailboat. With their two kids—Sybil, age seven, and George, age two—Juliet and Michael set off for Panama, where their forty-four foot sailboat awaits them.

The initial result is transformative; the marriage is given a gust of energy, Juliet emerges from her depression, and the children quickly embrace the joys of being feral children at sea. Despite the stresses of being novice sailors, the family learns to crew the boat together on the ever-changing sea. The vast horizons and isolated islands offer Juliet and Michael reprieve – until they are tested by the unforeseen.

Sea Wife is told in gripping dual perspectives: Juliet’s first person narration, after the journey, as she struggles to come to terms with the life-changing events that unfolded at sea, and Michael’s captain’s log, which provides a riveting, slow-motion account of these same inexorable events, a dialogue that reveals the fault lines created by personal history and political divisions.

Sea Wife is a transporting novel about marriage, family and love in a time of unprecedented turmoil. It is unforgettable in its power and astonishingly perceptive in its portrayal of optimism, disillusionment, and survival.”

 

Wednesday, June 10th: “Dance Away With Me” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

 Our first summer beach read of 2020…we loved every page of this unconventional and wonderful love story!

From goodreads.com: “Run, run, as fast as you can! When life throws her one setback too many, midwife and young widow Tess Hartsong takes off for Runaway Mountain. In this small town high in the Tennessee mountains, surrounded by nature, she hopes to outrun her heartbreak and find the solace she needs to heal.

But instead of peace and quiet, she encounters an enigmatic artist with a craving for solitude, a fairy-tale sprite with too many secrets, a helpless infant, a passel of curious teens, and a town suspicious of outsiders, especially one as headstrong as Tess. Just as headstrong, is Ian North, a difficult, gifted man with a tortured soul—a man who makes Tess question everything.

In running away to this new life, Tess wonders— Has she lost herself . . . or has she found her future?”

 

Thursday, May 21st: “The Women With Silver Wings” by Katherine Sharp Landdeck

From goodreads.com: “In The Women with Silver Wings, historian Katherine Sharp Landdeck introduces us to these young women as they meet even-tempered, methodical Nancy Love and demanding visionary Jacqueline Cochran, the trailblazing pilots who first envisioned sending American women into the air, and whose rivalry would define the Women Airforce Service Pilots. For women like Cornelia, it was a chance to serve their country–and to prove that women aviators were just as skilled and able as men.”

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 28 – “Thief River Falls” by Brian Freeman

We love Brian Freeman’s books (the Lt. Stride series!) but this new stand-alone story is really compelling. Great heroine and a compulsive page turner. Book summary courtesy of Goodreads: “Lisa Power is a tortured ghost of her former self. The author of a bestselling thriller called Thief River Falls, named after her rural Minnesota hometown, Lisa is secluded in her remote house as she struggles with the loss of her entire family: a series of tragedies she calls the “Dark Star.” Then a nameless runaway boy shows up at her door with a terrifying story: he’s just escaped death after witnessing a brutal murder—a crime the police want to cover up. Obsessed with the boy’s safety, Lisa resolves to expose this crime, but powerful men in Thief River Falls are desperate to get the boy back, and now they want her too. Lisa and her young visitor have nowhere to go as the trap closes around them. Still under the strange, unforgiving threat of the Dark Star, Lisa must find a way to save them both, or they’ll become the victims of another shocking tragedy she can’t foresee.”

 

Wednesday, April 22nd – “Been There, Married That” by Gigi Levangie

Tuesday, April 14th – “Actress” by Anne Enright

We have been fans of Gigi with her other books (The Starter Wife). This is basically a roman a clef about her life as a wife when she was married to Hollywood uber producer, Brian Grazer. Just a fun book with hilarious storytelling about the crazy world of Hollywood. Summary courtesy of Macmillan Publishers: “In a world where therapist look like the Real Housewives of Equinox, where friends dispense Xanax like Pez, and where a woman’s status is directly linked to the how few carbs she eats…can one Hollywood wife take back her life? Agnes Murphy Nash is in big trouble. When she returns home one evening only to find the locks changed on the gates of their mansion, the security guard breaks the news: her famous producer husband has filed for divorce. And he’s not going to play fair. Trevor Nash wants custody of their tween daughter, Pep, but only for the sake of appearances. And Agnes can’t let him win. With the help of her ex-con sister, a Hollywood psychic, a ballsy female lawyer, and a host of friends and “frenemies,” Agnes realizes that when he changes the locks, she needs to change the rules. But a crisis can lead to opportunity, and for Agnes, this gigantic betrayal brings her to a crossroads that will have her asking herself what she really wants out of life, who she really wants to be, and which man she really loves. Told with Gigi Levangie’s sparkling dialogue and wit, Been There, Married That is a drop-dead hilarious battle of wills that will make you laugh out loud, cringe, and keep turning the pages to see what crazy disaster will happen to Agnes next…and how she’ll rise from the ashes.”

A somewhat depressing story but life is sometime depressing and the actors world does not always end in stardom, does it? Maybe our feeling on this one is because we read at the start of corona…. Summary courtesy of GOODREADS: “From the Man Booker Prize–winner, a brilliant and moving novel about celebrity, sexual power, and a daughter’s search to understand her mother’s hidden truths. Katherine O’Dell is an Irish theater legend. As her daughter Norah retraces her mother’s celebrated career and bohemian life, she delves into long-kept secrets, both her mother’s and her own. Katherine began her career on Ireland’s bus-and-truck circuit before making it to London’s West End, Broadway, and finally Hollywood. Every moment of her life is a star turn, with young Norah standing in the wings. But the mother-daughter romance cannot survive Katherine’s past or the world’s damage. With age, alcohol, and dimming stardom, her grip on reality grows fitful and, fueled by a proud and long-simmering rage, she commits a bizarre crime. Her mother’s protector, Norah understands the destructive love that binds an actress to her audience, but also the strength that an actress takes from her art. Once the victim of a haunting crime herself, Norah eventually becomes a writer, wife, and mother, finding her way to her own hard-won joy. Actress is finally a book about the freedom we find in our work and in the love we make and keep.”

 

Wednesday, April 8th –  “Strike Me Down” by Mindy Mejia

Thursday, April 2nd – “In Five Years” by Rebecca Serle

We loved (again) another suspense novel from Mindy! It was suspenseful, sexy and a great story (set in Mpls!). Left guessing until the end! Summary courtesy of Goodreads: “From the critically acclaimed author of Leave No Trace, the “nail-biting page-turner that grabs you early and never lets go” (The Real Book Spy), comes a visceral thriller where a high stakes crime triggers a woman’s complicated and potentially deadly search for the truth. Nora Trier catches thieves. As a forensic accountant and partner in her downtown Minneapolis firm, she’s unearthed millions in every corner of the world. She prides herself on her independence, the most essential currency of accounting, until her firm is hired by Strike. An anti-corporate, feminist athletic empire, Strike is owned by Logan Russo, a brash and legendary kickboxer, and her marketing genius husband, Gregg Abbott. They’re about to host a major kickboxing tournament with twenty million dollars in prize money, and the chance for the champion to become the new face of the company. Gregg suspects his wife already has a new face in mind—a young trainer named Aaden, for whom Logan feels an unexpected connection. Days before the tournament begins, it’s discovered that the prize money is missing. Gregg hires Nora’s firm to find both the thief and the money but Nora has a secret connection to Strike that threatens her independence. Her partner pressures her into taking the case anyway, hinting he has information about Strike that could change the course of the investigation in a shocking and deadly way.”

 

We both loved this book and it is perfect for fans of ME BEFORE YOU and ONE DAY — a striking, powerful and moving love story following an ambitious lawyer who experiences an astonishing vision that could change her life forever. Here’s the set up courtesy of Reading Group Guides: “Where do you see yourself in five years? When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan. But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night — December 15 — but 2025, five years in the future. After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind. That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision. Brimming with joy and heartbreak, IN FIVE YEARS is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship and the unpredictable nature of destiny.”  4 stars

Friday, March 27th  –  “Darling Rose Gold” by Stephanie Wrobel

This book was recommended by the author of the Sun Down Motel and we enjoyed this dark twisty book. *Note: If you watched THE ACT on Hulu starring Patricia Arquette this novel is inspired by the true story of Dee Blanchard and her daughter, Gypsy. Book summation courtesy of AP: “The phenomenon Munchausen syndrome by proxy — in which a parent purposely makes a child ill to gain sympathy and attention — receives a fresh update in Stephanie Wrobel’s excellent debut. The psychological thriller “Darling Rose Gold” works well as an intense look at a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship, a tale of manipulation and how one person’s devastating secrets and lies reverberate through a community and a family. For nearly 18 years, Patty Watts portrayed to the world that her daughter, Rose Gold Watts, suffered from debilitating illnesses that doctors seemed unable to cure, and fed on the sympathy of her friends and neighbors in her midwestern town of Deadwick. Fundraisers were held for “darling” Rose Gold to defray medical bills because caring for her daughter was Patty’s only job. In turn, Patty was there for others, volunteering at functions, garnering accolades for her generosity. “I don’t know how she does it,” was a frequent refrain. What happens is next is unbelievable.”  3 stars

 

Wednesday, March 18th –  “The Red Lotus” by Chris Bohjalian

We were late to the Chris Bohjalian book party. 2 years ago, we read THE FILGHT ATTENDANT (amazing) soon to be a HBO Max series starring Kaley Cuoco. And this is his latest. We loved it but know there is a pandemic storyline in this book.

Plot summary from Goodreads:

“From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant comes a twisting story of love and deceit: an American man vanishes on a rural road in Vietnam, and his girlfriend, an emergency room doctor trained to ask questions, follows a path that leads her home to the very hospital where they met.

The first time Alexis saw Austin, it was a Saturday night. Not in a bar, but in the emergency room where Alexis sutured a bullet wound in Austin’s arm. Six months later, on the brink of falling in love, they travel to Vietnam on a bike tour so that Austin can show her his passion for cycling and he can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. But as Alexis sips white wine and waits at the hotel for him to return from his solo ride, two men emerge from the tall grass and Austin vanishes into thin air. The only clue he leaves behind is a bright yellow energy gel dropped on the road.”   4 stars

 

Wednesday, March 11th – “The Sun Down Motel” by Simone St. James.

 

 Thursday, March 5th – “The Other Mrs.” by Mary Kubica

Propulsive and addictive, and perfect for fans of “You,” THE OTHER MRS. is the twisty new psychological thriller from Mary Kubica, the New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL. This book is also being adapted for a tv show on Netflix.
“She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs. Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.
But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.” Synopsis courtesy of Reading Group Guides   4 stars

 

Thursday, February 27th – “Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes” by Kathleen West

A very binge’able book! We promise, you will not want to put down once you start reading. There is no doubt this will be sold to Hollywood.

“A wry and cleverly observed debut novel about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High–the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle–and the fallout for each of them when the bubble finally bursts.

Isobel Johnson knows helicopter parents like Julia Abbott–a stage mom whose world revolves around interfering in her children’s lives–come with the territory. Julia resents teachers like Isobel, who effortlessly bond with students, including Julia’s own teenagers, who have started pulling further away from her.

Isobel has spent her teaching career in Liston Heights side-stepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a “blatant liberal agenda,” she realizes she’s squarely in the fray. Rather than cowering, Isobel doubles down on her social-justice ideals. Meanwhile, Julia, obsessed with the casting of the high school’s winter musical, inadvertently shoves the female student lead after sneaking onto the school campus. The damning video footage goes viral and has far-reaching consequences for Julia and her entire family.

With nothing to unite them beyond the sting of humiliation from public meltdowns, Isobel and Julia will find common ground where they least expect it, confronting a secret Facebook gossip site that’s stirring up more trouble for this tumultuous, fractured school community.”*

*Summary courtesy of Goodreads.  4 stars

Tuesday, February 11th – “The Majesties” by Tiffany Tsao

We loved this dark twisted book! BOOK BLURBS…. “A dark, delicious tale that will creep its way into your brain and leave you examining your own soul for signs of moral rot. I downed it in one greedy shot.” —Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World and “Tiffany Tsao’s visceral debut…reads a bit like Crazy Rich Asians if the book began with familicide instead of romance. . . Why not start off the new year with the perfect tear-it-all-down read?” —CrimeReads “In this riveting tale about the secrets and betrayals that can accompany exorbitant wealth, two sisters from a Chinese-Indonesian family grapple with the past after one of them poisons their entire family. Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in a wealthy, eminent, and sometimes deceitful family, they’ve relied on each other for support and confidence. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella’s poisoning of their whole clan. As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this shocking and brutal act. Was it her sister’s husbands abusive ways? Were the shifting loyalties and unspoken resentments at the heart of their opulent world too much to bear? Can Gwendolyn, at last, confront the carefully buried mysteries in their family’s past and the truth about who she and her sister really are?”….summary courtesy of Goodreads.

 

Thursday, February 6th –  “How Quickly She Disappears” by Raymond Fleischmann

A mystery thriller from a first time novelist that kept us turning the pages as fast as we could! “It’s 1941 in small-town Alaska and Elisabeth Pfautz is alone. She’s living far from home, struggling through an unhappy marriage, and she spends her days tutoring her precocious young daughter. Elisabeth’s twin sister disappeared without a trace twenty years earlier, and Elisabeth’s life has never recovered. Cryptic visions of her sister haunt her dreams, and Elisabeth’s crushing loneliness grows more intense by the day. But through it all, she clings to one belief: That her sister is still alive, and that they’ll be reunited one day. And that day may be coming soon. Elisabeth’s world is upended when Alfred Seidel — an enigmatic German bush pilot — arrives in town and murders a local man in cold blood. Sitting in his cell in the wake of his crime, Alfred refuses to speak to anyone except for Elisabeth. He has something to tell her: He knows exactly what happened to her long-missing sister, but he’ll reveal this truth only if Elisabeth fulfills three requests.”…synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.

 

 

Wednesday. January 29th – “Big Lies in a Small Town” by Diane Chamberlain

 

We loved this book so much. A drama and a mystery with incredible storytelling from one of our favorite authors.

“North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?” – summary courtesy of Goodreads.

 

Wednesday, January 22nd – “Boys & Sex – Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity” by Peggy Orenstein

 

The author of the groundbreaking New York Times bestsellers Girls & Sex and Cinderella Ate My Daughter now turns her focus to the sexual lives of young men, once again offering “both an examination of sexual culture and a guide on how to improve it” (Washington Post).

 

 

 

Tuesday, January 21st – “Followers” by Megan Angelo

First great book we read in 2020. Hard to put down!

“An electrifying story of two ambitious friends, the dark choices they make and the profound moment that changes the meaning of privacy forever. Orla Cadden dreams of literary success, but she’s stuck writing about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Orla has no idea how to change her life until her new roommate, Floss―a striving, wannabe A-lister―comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they so desperately crave. But it’s only when Orla and Floss abandon all pretense of ethics that social media responds with the most terrifying feedback of all: overwhelming success. Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity―twelve million loyal followers―Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything, even horrible things, to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.”…Summary courtesy of Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 15th – “Recipe for a Perfect Wife” by Karma Brown

 

From Amazon:In this captivating dual narrative novel, a modern-day woman finds inspiration in hidden notes left by her home’s previous owner, a quintessential 1950s housewife. As she discovers remarkable parallels between this woman’s life and her own, it causes her to question the foundation of her own relationship with her husband–and what it means to be a wife fighting for her place in a patriarchal society. 3 stars

 

 

 

Tuesday, January 7th – The Twenty-ninth Day: Surviving a Grizzly Attack in the Canadian Tundra by Alex Messenger

 

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