Book Club | Lori & Julia

Lori & Julia’s Book Club 2019


Wednesday, December 18th – “Nothing More Dangerous” by Allen Eskens


Definitely one of our top 10 books of 2019. This coming of age story takes place in mid-1970’s Missouri and has been described as “Stand By Me” meets  “To Kill A Mockingbird” (and we agree with that description)! Racism, class and a murder mystery are all explored in this very poignant story

The title comes from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. quote “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”.  Now we want Michael B. Jordan to option this book and make a movie!


Thursday, December 12th – “Twenty-One Truths About Love” by Matthew Dicks


This is a story about Dan Mayrocks and his life – which is at a crossroads. He loves his wife, he quit teaching to open a bookstore, they are having a baby, the store is failing and he has not told his wife….and the story is told entirely in lists. Hilarious, profound and delightful. Highly recommended. 4 stars





Tuesday, December 10th – “Life isn’t everything: Mike Nichols, as remembered by 150 of his closest friends” by Ash Carter and Sam Kashner

The work of Mike Nichols pervades American cultural consciousness—from The Graduate and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to Angels in America, The Birdcage, Working Girl, and Primary Colors, not to mention his string of hit plays, including Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. If that weren’t enough, he was also one half of the timelessly funny duo Nichols & May, as well as a founding member of the original improv troupe. Over a career that spanned half a century, Mike Nichols changed Hollywood, Broadway, and comedy forever.

Most fans, however, know very little of the person behind it all. Since he never wrote his memoirs, and seldom appeared on television, they have very little sense of his searching intellect or his devastating wit. They don’t know that Nichols, the great American director, was born Mikail Igor Peschkowsky, in Berlin, and came to this country, speaking no English, to escape the Nazis. They don’t know that Nichols was at one time a solitary psychology student, or that a childhood illness caused permanent, life-altering side effects. They don’t know that he withdrew into a debilitating depression before he “finally got it right,” in his words, by marrying Diane Sawyer.”


Wednesday, December 4th – “Twice in a Blue Moon” by Christina Lauren

Wednesday, November 27th- “The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewell

From Amazon: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment WeeklyMy Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it…  3 stars





Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her 25th birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well — and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy 10-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone (summary courtesy of Reading Group Guide).

In THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets. We loved every page of this book – wow!    4 stars!!


November 15th – “Carrie Fisher – A Life on the Edge” by Sheila Weller

From the author of Girls Like Us, comes another great biography. This time about Carrie Fisher. This book is so good! Weller explores the life and career of this badass writer and actress. Carrie had bipolar disorder and is recognized for her legacy in being the groundbreaker in destigmatizing that in a very strong way. She threw the most sought-after parties in Hollywood. She was only 22 when she got together with Paul Simon who was 47. She played Princess Leia like a feminist hero when she was 19. Reads like fiction and is hard to put down. 3 stars




November 13th – “Imaginary Friend” by Stephen Chbosky

“Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend.” So begins this story and this is the best set-up we can give you on this truly wild story which is equal parts heart, horror and hope. If you are a Stephen king fan (think the shining, the stand) you will love this book. NOTE: Stephen is the author THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (& directed the movie version). This is his 2nd novel. **The audible book is directed by the author and is recommended if u do not want to read that many pages…. 4 stars




Novermber 7th – “Wild Game: My Mother, Her lover, and Me” by Adrienne Brodeur

Wild Game does remind us of the memoir GLASS CASTLES by Jeanette Walls as it reads like fiction and is unputdownable. Adrienne is so honest in looking at back how this secret took a toll on her life yet weaves her story with such a great narrative of how she found herself in the end. This book is not a mommie-dearest black and white story but rather a loving yet honest look at the shades of gray in what happened to her.   4 stars





November 5th –  “Jack and the Ghost” by Chan Poling and Lucy Michell

From Amazon –

A gothic, lyrical evocation of a shipwreck, ghosts, and lost—and found—love in a North Shore town




October 29th – “The Stranger Inside” by Lisa Unger

The 18th novel from best-selling author Lisa Unger. This is a tight psychological thriller more “whydunit” than “whodunit”! The novel follows a new stay-at-home mom living what seems like a picture perfect life. With one small problem – a very dark secret from her past is about to be unearthed and with that we are introduced to a very compelling story. What happens with trauma and the deep seated idea of revenge? Hard to put down this book. 4 stars




October 22nd – “Elevator Pitch” by Linwood Barclay

One of the best thrillers of 2019! It all begins on a Monday when 4 people get on an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Everyone presses a button then the elevator proceeds non-stop to the top. Once there it stops for a few seconds and then plummets. Right to the bottom of the shaft. It seems like just a random horrible accident until the same thing happens the next day in a different skyscraper. And then the next day in another building. Obviously, this is a bid to terrorize the city but why and who? Great characters, diabolical twists and heart pounding suspense. 4 stars




October 17th – “The Secrets We Kept” by Lara Prescott

From Amazon:  A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice–inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago.





October 11th – “Fair Play: : A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do” by Eve Rodsaky

From Amazon: A revolutionary, real-world solution to the problem of unpaid, invisible work that women have shouldered for too long.




October 10th – “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger

This is his first stand-alone book since 2013’s best-selling, award winning ORDINARY GRACE, and tells the epic story of four kids (all orphans) who embark on one helluva journey during the long summer of 1932. Unforgettable storytelling and so beautifully written. The themes of family, loss, love, forgiveness and being connected to the land and water are intertwined. 4 stars



October 2nd  – “The Gifted School” by Bruce Holsinger

The Gifted School is definitely one of our favorite books of 2019. Set in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado – the novel tells the story of 4 friends who have good intentions as their parenting and high ambitions for the kids collide. Funny, smart, sharply observed and very juicy. We agree with the Wall Street Journal that this is the book that predicted the college-admissions scandal. It has been optioned as a TV series!! 5 stars




September 27th – “White Castle Nights” by Steve Rushin

Picking up where he left off in his memoir “Sting-Ray Afternoons”, Steve shares more coming of age stories set in Bloomington MN. It is the time of MTV, mixed tapes and classic 80’s high school movies. Nostalgic, funny and a hilarious reminder of the agonies of your late teens and twenties and in what would be the end of an era – the 80’s. 3and a half stars.


September 25th – “Bethlehem” by Karen Kelly

We loved this book. The book starts out slow but the storytelling builds and it is wonderful. The backdrop is Bethelhem, PA and is about two steel executive’s and their families that spans from the giIlded age to the 1960’s. A family secret starts with a mother and a wife… in the course of this novel is a wonderful story of forgiveness and love with achingly real portrayals of every single character.  4 stars


September 12th – “Turn on the Key” by Ruth Ware

From the NY Times best-selling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood & The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s 5th book. A child is dead, Rowan is in prison and her story is told as flashbacks to a lawyer she is begging to take her case. Part thriller, part revenge and part ghost story with a poignancy that underlies Rowan’s storytelling. Also, like all of Ruth’s books, she always saves the best for the last page!





September 5th – “The Shallows” by Matt Goldman



August 20th – The Chain by Adrian McKinty

The thriller of 2019! This author has a Cinderella story and the book has been optioned by Paramount Pictures. To quote the author Don Winslow “this book is Jaws for parents.” And it is that as well as original, clever, empowering and twisty! Trust us when we say that you have never read anything like this book. 5 stars




August 15th – The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

Fiona Davis has captured the hearts of readers with the way she brings life to New York City landmarks through compelling historical fiction. Setting her sights on the Chelsea Hotel, she delves into the world of theater. The story centers around two friends, Hazel and Maxine. The two meet in Naples, Italy in an USO troupe entertainment troupe. After the war, Hazel becomes a budding playwright and Maxine a famous actress.. They unite to put on Hazel’s first play on Broadway when the charge of Communism and McCarthy investigation impacts their lives. As the two women wrestle with wartime memories, fractured friendship, love, and trust, readers will find themselves immersed. It is also a reminder of what happens to people who are persecuted for their speech or opinion.  3 and a half stars




August 13th – Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

This is a story about a blue-blood 85 yr old grandmother (the rich & famous Genieveve London) who hasn’t spoken to her granddaughter Emma in 17 years. In what she deems is the last summer of her life, she reaches out to Emma and convinces her to return home for the summer so they can make amends and she can also know her great granddaughter, Riley who is 15. Moving and funny as well as exploring some deeply affecting topics (the loss of a child, estrangement, ageism), we highly recommend this book, this author! 4 stars




August 7th – Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties b y Tom O’Neill

It is hard to explain this book without sounding a little kooky but if you read the book “Helter Skelter”, what you think you know about the Manson murders may be wrong. This book is a result of 20 years of exhaustive research and investigative reporting. What becomes crystal clear to the author over time is that much of what we accept as fact in the best- selling crime novel of all time – is fiction. Not the who did it but the motive of why did these murders happen. What was the real relationship between Manson & Terry Melcher (Doris Day’s son)? Why was law enforcement so lax with Manson (who was on parole) over multiple arrests? What was story with Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys) and Manson. Why were so many Hollywood and music people suspicious of Manson immediately after the Manson murders yet “no one knew him”. Fascinating book. 4 stars




July 30th – “The Night Before” by Wendy Walker

Read it before you watch it! This fast paced psychological thriller about deception, dating and so much more has been optioned by Eva Longoria for a TV series. The story is about a woman who goes missing after a first date with a man she meets online. The timeline shifts back and forth between the actual date and the days after the date. Also interesting, the insight into repressed trauma and how it affects you later in life – no matter how much you think you are not thinking about it. We did not see the end coming! 4 stars



July 24th – The Plaza: The Secret Life of America’s Most Famous Hotel The Plaza: The Secret Life of America’s Most Famous Hotel

A meticulous history of New York’s iconic hotel, The Plaza Hotel. Just the name alone evokes images of “Eloise” and iconic movie scenes (Home Alone, North by Northwest to name just two,) the Palm Court, Capote’s famous Black & White Ball and many famous people. All of this is explored as well as the interesting ownership history, the scandals and the scams that happened at a fabulous hotel (that has always been a place where dogs are always welcome!). 4 stars





July 23rd – “A Thread so Fine” by Susan Welch

Set in St. Paul between 1946 and Nov 1965, the novel follows the lives of 2 sisters, Eliza and Shannon Malone who are Irish “twins” and their close bond despite their different personalities. At 17 and 18, something traumatic happens to each sister that shapes the rest of their lives. This book covers realities and insights about motherhood, sisterhood, the stigma of the times for unwed mothers, illegitimate children and childless women. Weaved into the story, we also learn about a real life hero – Frances Perkins. The first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet during FDR’s presidency – she was a central figure to the New deal legislation including minimum wage laws, social security, unemployment compensation and child labor laws. This novel was inspired by Susan’s own experience (she spent the first days of her life in 1962 in the St. Paul Catholic Infants Home for unwed mothers & their babies and did not find out she was adopted until she was 46 years old). 3 stars



July 18th – “Mrs. Everything” by Jennifer Weiner   –   We give it 5 stars!


July 12th – “The Guest Book” by Sarah Clarke

An epic family novel set in both Manhattan and an island in Maine that moves through three generations back and forth in time (1936, 1959 & present day). In a way this book is a history of our country’s history with matters of race, class and politics. And asks how we remember and what we choose to forget. Sarah has written a stunning and beautifully told story that will linger in your mind long after you have closed the book. 5 stars





June 27th –  “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren

A feel-good romantic comedy that has a great premise (enemies to lovers!) and delivers some flirty fun. Twin sisters, two brothers, a wedding, a secret, a fake marriage and a very spicy romance – set in Minneapolis and Maui. If you are in need of a light breezy escape, this is your book. If you read Christina Lauren’s book, ROOMIES – that has been optioned by Jenna Dewan.





June 19th – “Summer of ’69” by Elin Hilderbrand

Elin’s latest book (her 24th) is her best novel yet and we have loved everything she has written! She is our fav summer beach book author! The story: With her son in Vietnam, one daughter protesting, one pregnant & one tween, Kate Levin is drinking screwdrivers for breakfast. Her mom waits until lunch. Set in the author’s beloved Nantucket, this book is a page turner. The summer of 1969 is another character in the book with everything that happened that fateful summer- (Apollo moon landing, the Vietnam war, Chappaquiddick,Woodstock). Loved loved loved!


June 7th – “The Friends We Keep” by Jane Green

Jane Green along with Elin Hildebrand and Liane Moriarty is one of our fav authors! Her latest book will keep you reading all day at the pool, beach or porch. The story opens with a trio of 3 unlikely friends who meet at university and know they will be friends forever. But life as it does, gets in the way after graduation and they start to lose touch and forget what they envisioned when they were younger. And one of the characters, Evvie, a former child actress is also keeping a huge secret from her friends….. 4 stars





May 30th – “The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls” by Anissa Gray

A trio of adult sisters are coming to terms with their very complicated family history. We all experience and remember our family life differently and this book explores some deep and complicated issues that drive us all. Told with sweetness and with searing honesty about some difficult subjects (incarceration, eating disroders and domestic abuse) while at the same time being a gripping read. 4 stars





May 23rd – “The Castle on Sunset” by Shawn Levy

This book has so much Hollywood wrapped around its pages that The Chateau is almost the narrator storyteller. Perfect summer read. Shawn weaves together historical research and firsthand accounts in an eye popping delicious way. And with 90 years of being in business, the walls are now talking! Jean Harlow, Marvin Gaye, John Belushi, Lindsay Lohan, Sharon Tate, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Cheever, the Sunset Strip, Bugsy Siegal…..4 stars




May 17th – “Queenie” by Candice Carty-Williams


May 8th – “Stay Up With Hugo Best” by Erin Sommers



May 1st:  “The Mother-In-Law” by Sally Hepworth

A very compelling and twisty new novel about a woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in death…but what happens in between as the story is alternately narrated by both daughter-in-law and mother-in-law in past and present terms is what keeps the pages turning. Let’s just say that from the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son but everyone in this family is hiding something…Highly recommended (unless you are trying to get pregnant!).

4 stars



April 26th: “This Book Is Not Yet Rated” by Peter Bognanni

A heartfelt and moving coming of age story.  Movies have always helped  Ethan, our protagonist. Maybe it’s because movies help him make sense of real life, or maybe it’s because movies are the one place he can go to still feel close to his dad, a film professor who died three years ago. Either way, it’s a place worth fighting for, especially when developers threaten to tear the classic Green Street Cinema down to build a luxury condos.

So now it’s up to the employees of the Green Street Cinema to save the place they love. And it’s going to take a movie miracle if the Green Street is going to have a happy ending. And when Raina, Ethan’s oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes home from Hollywood where she’s been starring in B-movies, Ethan thinks that miracle just may have been delivered. This is a book that movies buffs, young adults and anyone who loves a great book will love.  4 stars


April 17th: “Chronicles of a Radical Hag” by Lorna Landvik

A charming, funny and sweet book about the effect a loved newspaper columnist has on the people of the small town of Granite Creek. Haze has chronicled her life and the real world life events in her column for 50 years. Haze is now in her 80’s and while in a coma, the town’s newspaper starts re-printing some of her columns with unexpected results and surprises. We fell in love with this book! And there really are a few recipes (which make sense in context). An excellent book club read too….. 4 stars




April 5 – “The Huntress” by Kate Quinn

Inspired by the true story of Nazis living in plain sight in post WWII America. This incredible saga follows three storylines involving a Russian female bomber pilot, a battle haunted English journalist and a budding teenage photojournalist. Vividly written with rich detail and suspense, this book will have you turning the pages non-stop. If you loved The Lilac Girls, The Nightingale (or The Alice Network which Kate wrote) – this book is for you. 5 stars




March 29 – “My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing

Told entirely from the perspective of the unnamed husband, this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage is at a crossroads  – until they find something exciting to do together (which is murder). We could not put this book down and read in 2 days. If you love a well written compulsively thrilling twisty book, this is it! Reese Witherspoon needs to option this ASAP!  4 stars




March 25 – “The Age of Light” by Whitney Sharer


Set in 1930’s Paris, this historical fictional novel is about the love story between Vogue model turned photographer, Lee Miller and the artist Man Ray. Lee is only 22 when she arrives in Paris and meets Man. Compelling, intriguing and sexy. This book got an “exploding offer” from Hollywood with Kate Winslet set to play Lee. 5 out of 5 stars.





March 21 – “The Stranger Diaries” by Elly Griffiths

You may know the author from the Ruth Galloway series but this is Elly’s first stand- alone novel.

A British gothic mystery with literary references to a mysterious old book but wrapped in a modern mystery happening at a high school. The book is narrated by Claire (one of the English teachers at the school), Georgie (Clare’s 15 year old daughter) and DS Harbinder (who was once a student at the school and is now a detective). Clare is shaken by the death of her friend and fellow English teacher who is murdered with a note left behind that reads “hell is empty”…and the rest of the quote- in the same handwriting – is then found in Clare’s diary. Yikes! From here the suspenseful storytelling is non-stop. 4 out of 5 stars !


March 13 – “As Long As We Both Shall Live” by JoAnn Chaney

After 20 years of marriage Matt and Marie have been through everything together and when they go on a romantic hiking trip to rekindle the relationship, only one of them comes back alive. Told in past and present tense from both characters, this is a twisty Hitchcockian novel of suspense that is insightful, sharp and will keep you turning the page! The movie rights were sold in November!. 4 stars




This story is set mostly in London 1947 and revolves around the friendship between 2 women (Nan and Vivian) who become friends while embroidering Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. This is a moving and vivid story of the real-life design studio that made her dress and the incredible story of friendship, love and loss between the two women post WWII. Flash forward to Toronto 2016 when Nan’s granddaughter makes a startling discovery which leads her back to London to try and discover what really happened in Nan’s life…we loved every page. No doubt this is coming to TV.  4 stars


February 28 – “Looker” by Laura Sims

This is a dark drama with an unstable narrator telling her story which is that she is a poetry teacher who is unhappily childless and teetering on the brink of a very unhinged state. She hates her soon to be ex-husband with a passion and has an alarming preoccupation with the movie star actress who lives down the street. You will either love or hate this book. It has been optioned by Emily Mortimer for a limited tv series. 2 stars



February 19 – “An Anonymous Girl” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

From the authors of the best-selling A WIFE BETWEEN US comes another twisty suspense novel. When Jessica Farris sneaks into a psychology study conducted by Dr. Lindsay Shields she thinks it’s going to be just easy money by answering a few questions. But as the questions become more intense in each session and the money goes up, she finds herself in a web of mystery, obsession and deceit. What is real and what it not becomes the question. This book has been optioned for a TV series and their 1st novel has been optioned by Steven Spielberg. These women are on fire! 5 stars


February 6 – “The Adults” by Caroline Hulse

Your worst family gathering could not be as bad as this gathering is. Alternately hilarious and poignant, this debut novel keeps you turning the page.  Meet The Adults: Matt and Alex are no longer married but decide for the sake of their 8 year old daughter (who has an imaginary rabbit as a best friend), that they want to spend Christmas together with each other and their new partners. This book starts with the OMG ending and then  told from each person’s viewpoint! 4 stars



February 1 – “The Current” by Tim Johnston

January 31st – “Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A” by Lili Anolik

Meet avant garde literary star, Eve Babitz. No one wrote about Hollywood like Eve and that’s because no one lived like her. This is a dishy splashy biography that started out as a story in Vanity Fair. Lili Anolik becomes obsessed with finding Eve and getting to know everything she could about her. The result is discovering an amazing woman who is the ultimate insider in LA, a true bohemian who enjoyed the power of her beauty, slept with a lot of men before they were famous (Harrison Ford, Jim Morrison, Steve Martin to name a few), and oh yeah wrote some incredible books that are resonating with young women right now. If you want to know who Eve is, here’s your book. 4 out of 5 stars


January 23rd – “The War Time Sisters” by Lynda Loigman

Historical fiction fans will love this book. Set in the late 30’s and into WWII, this family drama about 2 sisters (Ruth and Millie) is honest and poignant about the bond (or the lack) of between sisters. Rich in historical detail and beautifully written, this story explores family dynamics, loyalties and the tension that comes with secrets. Lynda also wrote “The Two-Family House”.  4 stars




January 16th – “Last Woman Standing” by Amy Gentry

The author of” Good As Gone” has a terrific 2nd novel of suspense out and we could not put it down. Dana Diaz is an aspiring stand-up comic – a woman in a “man’s world”.  When she meets Amanda Dorn after bombing at a comedy night they realize they have a common bond. They both work in a male dominated field (Amanda is a  computer programmer) and they have both been wronged. Then Amanda talks Dana into a plan….for revenge. What happens next simply has to be read. This is the first book of 2019 that Hollywood should be fighting over!


January 11th:  “The Holdouts” by James Tucker

This is the authors 2nd book featuring a homicide cop (Buddy Lock) in New York City. We haven’t read the first one but this one is terrific. A Long Island fishing crew makes a horrific catch: the bodies of an Asian couple. Homicide cop Buddy Lock knows this is not some an accident. Then people start disappearing in Chinatown and from there this is a story of power and corruption told in a page turning suspenseful way. If you are a fan of Lucas Davenport (John Sandford), Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly) or Cork O’Conner (William Kent Krueger) then we have a new favorite detective for you! 4 stars.


January 4th:  “The Dakota Winters” by Tom Barbash.


The Dakota Winters is so sweet, funny and touching we were sad when we were done reading.  Anton Winters, the narrator, is a 20 something in the 1980’s and his voice reminded us of Holden Caulfield. If you love the 80’s, anything with New York City as a character, enjoy bites of pop culture and love John Lennon, this charming story is for you. It reads like a faux memoir and you want this novel to be true so badly. 4.5 out of 5 stars.