4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

4.5/5 stars

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My Review:

I LOVE Liane Moriarty’s books and I have been waiting for three years for a new book from her.  I was SO EXCITED when I heard Nine Perfect Strangers was coming out!

Nine Perfect Strangers has some BIG SHOES to fill as Big Little Lies has been a very talked about book and now HBO TV series.

Nine perfect strangers meet at a luxury health resort, each for their own reasons.  Masha, the woman who runs the health resort is an interesting character who was a CEO of a large corporation but had a heart attack and changed her lifestyle and transformed her body and mind and has now opened this health resort.  I’ve never read a book about a health resort and the experience of transformation through lifestyle change before, so I was intrigued and wondered from the beginning if maybe there was something I would glean from this that I could take into my own life to make some positive changes.

I will say that Nine Perfect Strangers started slowly for me.  I didn’t connect with any of the characters at first and found it hard to be emotionally invested in them.  But, as usual with Liane Moriarty’s books, there is something you can’t quite put your finger on that keeps you reading because you want to know what it is.

As the story builds, I did connect with Napoleon and Heather who are raising teenagers and with Carmel who is a mom.  I did end up really liking Tony’s character, as well.  I do think that the diverse-ness of the characters lends itself to many people finding aspects of themselves in the characters and things they can relate to and connect with about the characters.

I would never have predicted what happened in this book.  The last third of the book was INTENSE and kept me on the edge of my seat and up way past my bedtime!!

From the Publisher:

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

4 star reviews, 5 star reviews, Book reviews, historical fiction

The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

I received this book from GetRedPR and Lake Union Authors in exchange for my honest review.

I wanted to read this book because my grandmother (my Nauna) came to New York City from Sicily in 1920 as a 17 year old girl.  She came with her brother and she had several sisters already here, but she left her parents and home with no plan of ever returning.  At 17.  She came from a small farming village called Regalbutto.  She didn’t know the language.  She lived with her brother, sister, brother-in-law and neices in a two bedroom apartment on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village.  As a little girl, she told me many stories about that.  She is, of course gone now, tomorrow (May 22, 2018 would be her 115th birthday).  I miss her terribly and my uncle who passed 5 years ago.  There is so much of my family experience that died with them.  Reading books like this, about what it was like for immigrants in Manhattan in the early 1900s brings her back for me a little bit, it’s a little bit like visiting her, appreciating her experience.  Reading books about the 1960s in New York City brings my uncle, who worked as a pharmacist in drug stores in the city, back to me a little bit.  And so I wanted to read this book.  While I was reading it, I was telling my mom about it and she ended up buying it for her Kindle and we discussed this book at length many, many times.



This book was historic, beautiful, romantic, touching, interesting and compassionate.  My mom threw in compassionate because she was so impressed with how they treated the grandfather.

My mom and I found it to be moderately paced.
Camille Di Maio presented turn of the century New York City in such a way that I felt I was living through those times.  It made me think about how much was done sooo many years ago and how some things haven’t changed. It had historical facts about the building of Penn Station and the people who built it and what was going on in the area/world at that time.  How people lived and shopped.  I loved how involved the characters were in the Women’s Suffrage Movement and learning a bit more about that.

Camille di Maio did a wonderful job writing this story.  She made it seem that she was “telling” the story of a young girl named Vera and her life growing up in NYC while Penn Station was being built.  Her hard working father’s ailments because of his work, the young man she met who made her feel like someone special and how her dreams came true.  Ms. Di Maio  went through the years of Vera’s life and the people she met and the experiences she had, making the reader feel that they were living the experience.  The story goes through Vera’s life in the early 1900’s through to 1963.

Part Two of the book tells the story of Vera’s daughter, Alice, and what NYC was like in the 1940’s and on.  Her romances and experiences and the changes and/or lack of during her lifetime.  It made me think of how far we have come and how much further we, as women, have to go.  It made me realize that although things have changed, they have also stayed the same.

I felt Part One of the book was more stimulating and page turning than Part Two, but would definitely recommend reading this book.


I wasn’t too happy with the ending…it sort of left me in the middle of a rain shower.  There was so much going on and then….boom it was over.  I guess I wanted it to continue, and disappointed that it was over, but felt left.  Then I read the Prologue again and felt more closure.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves historic fiction, to anyone who loves romance and to anyone who loves New York City and wants to know more about the history of it.IMG_1148

My mom worked in Manhattan from 1960-1967 and she had forgotten all about what Penn Station used to look like before they tore it down to build Madison Square Garden.  She forgot that it had once been beautiful, but that it was no longer really serving the same purpose and the need for an event arena was important for the city.

All in all, we really enjoyed The Way of Beauty and we give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for reading with me, Mom!!


4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, thriller

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

4/5 stars

I absolutely, positively LOVED this book!

Addictive, fast-paced page-turner with lots of hooks and wonderful characters

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy was everything I wanted it to be and more.  It was a great thriller, with a mystery that I could not figure out.  There were a lot of hooks at the end of chapters making me want to read “just one more” before turning out the light at night.  But the thing I loved most was the relationship between the moms.  I loved the bonds that were formed in this group of women brought together because they lived near each other and had babies that were born in the same month.  I loved how they helped each other and were there for each other.  I also loved that they each probably thought the others’ lives were perfect because they talked mostly about the babies or the missing baby and not about their marriages, careers or other insecurities.  It was a reminder that we all have challenges that we are facing even if the face we show the world looks perfect.



From the publisher:

A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.

When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar,they are looking for a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed.

Thirteen days. An unexpected twist.


I was reminded so much of my own experience in a moms group when my first child was born.  One of the women in my Lamaze class, who happened to be from the UK – though nothing like Nell – and was homesick for family and friends, had organized first weekly afternoon tea get-togethers where we indulged in beautiful cakes and talked about babies and breast-feeding and all of our concerns.  Over time we did get together in the evenings with our husbands and we did meet at the park.  Although I had friends from growing up, friends from college and friends from work, there was a special bond with these women who could understand exactly what I was going through at the moment because they were going through something similar.  Unfortunately, when we moved from Connecticut to New Jersey, I lost touch with these women.

But when we moved to New Jersey, I joined a MOMS Club, which I thought was the greatest thing at the time.  We met weekly in a community center and the kids played and the moms talked.  We had a monthly newsletter and monthly Moms Nights Out and we scheduled park dates and day trips to fun places.  One woman gave Music Together classes in her house.  It was a great community!  Our first meeting there, I was talking to a mom who was also pregnant with her second child and she pointed to her older daughter who was rocking in a toy boat right next to my daughter.  We are all still friends to this day.

Book reviews, thriller

White Lies by Lucy Dawson

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4/5 stars

Who is lying and who is telling the truth? A wild ride of a book!

Alexandra Inglis is a very likable, flawed character. She is a family doctor. Weeks before her planned girls trip to Ibiza, her husband confesses to a one-night stand with a colleague. One drunken night on the Ibiza trip with her girlfriends, she makes a mistake and has what she thinks is a one night stand. Only the guy she slept with turns out to be someone who lives in her community and he wants more from her.

The characters are well-developed, the plot is tight, the writing style kept me riveted. The writing was simple and flowed, making the book easy to read quickly to find out what the heck was going on. I enjoyed this book and I recommend it. It was like Caroline Kepnes “You” meets Fatal Attraction, but even more intense.


5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, Racism

American Marriage by Tayari Jones

5/5 stars

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I LOVED this book!  This book is an emotional rollercoaster that takes you deep into someone else’s life and someone else’s love story.  It is so beautifully written and interwoven.  The characters are so well developed that I felt like they were real. The story explores issues of race, love, marriage, fidelity, class, family and the prison system in an honest, raw but beautiful way. I highly recommend this book.

Roy grew up in a poor Louisiana town, but in a family with a lot of integrity and good values. Celestial and Andre were childhood friends in an upper-middle class Atlanta suburb. Roy works hard to get out of Louisiana and make a different life for himself. He and Celestial meet and fall in love and get married. A year and a half into their marriage, Roy is accused of a crime that Celestial knows he didn’t commit because she was with him the whole time, but Roy is convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Celestial stands by his side, until she falls in love with someone else. It all happens so beautifully, so organically and you really can not blame Celestial at all.

I felt so many things while reading this book.  I fell in love with Roy and I wanted him to be ok.  I wanted to drink wine and shop in Celeste’s shop and I wanted her sense of style.  I wanted to be friends with these characters.  And I wanted to go down South.

One of the things that I found so remarkable was that the setting of this story is so vivid that I felt like I was there in a way that I don’t remember ever having experienced with another book.  It made me reminisce about vacations to South Carolina and Georgia and start thinking more about places I want to visit with Jason when the girls are no longer traveling with us.

Something odd about me :: if I read a book where the husband is a jerk, I sort of unconsciously start to think all men are jerks and it definitely has an effect on my marriage (my poor husband!).  But when I read a book like this, where the man is so loving and so kind and I fall a little bit in love with him myself, I end up falling more in love with my husband too.  Odd, yes, probably.  But this is a good one to fall more in love with men!!


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Book reviews, thriller

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

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3/5 stars

There was an explosion in Chicago a year ago. It affected three different women in different ways. Cecily, the mother of teens, lost her husband and if not for her issue of being chronically late, she would have been in the building, too. Franny lost her biological mother in the building. And Kate, well it’s not readily apparent how the blast affected Kate, but we know that she lost her family.

Catherine McKenzie does a good job of weaving these women’s stories together. The chapters rotated which woman they were about and each had a unique voice. I identified with Cecily and thought her chapters were well-written. I felt that Kate’s chapters relied too much on dialogue. Franny’s chapters were all interviews.

There were a lot of twists and turns and things that I did not see coming, so I give this book a solid three stars.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, thriller

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

4/5 stars

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My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

I am not going to lie.  I had a hard time getting into this book.  I actually put it down, read something else and then decided to come back to it because of all the buzz it was getting.

In the beginning of the book, I found Amber to be pathetic and whiny and I didn’t like her.  But about page 90, that all changed and I was HOOKED!

This book tells the story of Now (when she is in a coma), Then (the days leading up to when she went into the coma) and Before (when she was a kid).  As we know from the description circulating everywhere, she is in a coma, she can hear what is going on but she can’t do thing about it.  Which drove me crazy, as I am sure it is supposed to.  She has no idea why she is in a coma and she is afraid and I was afraid for her.

There are some crazy twists and turns in this book and things I never saw coming but are plausible.  I highly recommend this to anyone who likes an unreliable narrator (as I do!) and wants something different that will keep them up way past bedtime!


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Book reviews, romance, Women's Fiction

Swear on this Life by Rene Carlino

3/5 stars

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Swear on This Life by Renèe Carlino is a story about Jason and Emiline’s life going between a book he wrote about their past and what she thought about it in the present. It was as if you were reading two books at the same time, but less confusing 😉. I enjoyed the book because it was an easy read and even though the ending was cheesy I did enjoy it.

I have been reading heavy, deep, intense, emotional books lately and I just wanted something light and happy and fun and this was perfect to lighten my mood up a bit!

Light a few candles, draw a bath, add some bubbles and lose yourself in something light and fun!

5 star reviews, Book reviews, thriller

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

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5/5 stars

If you have young children, you may not want to read this book. When my girls were younger, I never could have read this.

I almost put it down because the area the story is set in is very depressed, the way the people talk and act is depressing and I just didn’t know if I wanted to get myself into that. But I stuck with it and I am so glad I did!

This book kept me guessing. Two girls, ages 8 and 10, are abducted from a shopping mall. Their mother is young and uneducated, and st the beginning of the story, you are not really sure if she sees the kids as a nuisance, but by the end, you know she LOVES them. The mother’s aunt hired a private investigator, Alice Vega, from California to come and find the girls. Vega has had a lot of success with this. She enlists the help of a disgraced former town cop, which ticks off the police chief. Together they follow leads and work out what has happened. There are some gruesome and upsetting parts in the story, but Louisa Luna handles them well. She doesn’t shy away from the difficult or dark things, but handles them with care. I LOVED Alice Vega’s character, she was tough and smart and I hope we get to see more of her and chip away at her rough exterior. I can not think of anything that could make this book better.

5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

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5/5 stars

Excellent. This is the kind of book that makes you think about your own life, hug your children closer, tell your husband you really love him. This book makes you appreciate the little things in life.

Richard is a renowned classical pianist who gets ALS, his muscles atrophy. He can no longer play piano, hold a book, walk. His ex-wife ends up helping him and they work through their issues. I learned a lot about ALS, what the disease is and how it affects people. The biggest thing this book did was make me think about the people in my life, the relationships I take for granted. It made me appreciate the people I am close to and I told them how I felt. We can’t do enough if that. It’s so important.

Several years ago, I stumbled across Lisa Genova’s novel Love, Anthony at a library conference.  One of the other librarians there told me she had ordered it because it was about autism, but it was not yet getting a lot of buzz.  I read it and shared with several friends and family members who have kids on the spectrum and we all thought it was wonderful!  Lisa Genova is a neuroscientist who uses her understanding of the brain and how it functions to help readers understand neurological conditions that they may not have any experience with.  I really did not know much about ALS, other than that my local supermarket collects for the Joan Dancy Foundation–and I know Joan Dancy had ALS.  I really did not understand what it was or how it affected people who had it.  I had never heard the term locked in.  I had never thought of the realities of some of the things that people with this disease face.