Wednesday, September 27, 2017

My reads - End of Summer and beginning of Fall

It still feels like summer and I am still in summer reading mode. I have read so many good books since my last blog post!  Here are some more that I think you will enjoy as much as I did.  I have included two Young Adult novels that will be enjoyed by adults as well as teens.

Goodbye, Vitamin: a novel by Rachel Khong

Thirty year old Ruth moves home for a year to help her parents after her engagement is called off. Her father, a prominent history professor, is suffering from memory loss which seems to be dementia or Alzheimers. Ruth's mother is trying to find her way towards forgiveness of her husband's betrayals in light of his illness, but she is struggling. In a poignant turn of events Ruth's dad shares entries he made in his journals about Ruth as a child, while she ends up keeping a journal of her father's good and bad days. By turns funny and heartbreaking, this is a story that will be not be soon forgotten.

 The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
The lying game started as a game played by four British boarding school girls. The object was to tell a lie to someone and earn points for how believable it is. All of the girls came to Salton House for different reasons and their outsider status is only fortified by the lies they tell to the other girls. The four end up leaving the school under mysterious circumstances and have not really seen each other since. Kate remains at The Mill where the four spent many weekends away from Salton House with Kate's artist father Ambrose and step brother Luc. Fatima has become a devout Muslim and is married with two children; Thea has a glamorous job in London; Isa is enjoying being a mother to her 6 month old daughter. But when 17 years later Thea, Fatima and Isa get a text from Kate saying "I need you" they do not hesitate to return at a moments notice. Because the biggest lie of the lying game is about to be revealed...

The Red Coat: a Novel of Boston by Dolley Carlson
Bostonians will especially enjoy this novel set in the 1940s and 50s. The red coat is the link between four young women's life stories. The coat originally belonged to Cordelia Parker, a so-called Boston Brahmin. Cordelia treasured it as a sign that the boy she loved felt the same way, but she finds herself living alone in her Beacon Hill home after the deaths of her parents. Her mother had donated the coat to a servant, Nora King, a mother of 9 who came to Boston from Ireland. The coat is then passed down from oldest daughter Rosemary to middle sister Kay and  baby sister Rita. Each woman finds the coat gives them just the boost of confidence they need to succeed. Filled with snapshots of Boston history and Irish traditions, this novel brings Boston to life with trips to Jordan Marsh, the Swan Boats, and more.

 The Break Down by B.A. Paris

When Cass Anderson drives by a woman in a car during a terrible rainstorm little does she know the consequences it will have on her life. The next morning the woman is found murdered and Cass is overcome with guilt that is exasperated by the fact that she seems to be forgetting things at an alarming rate. Her mother had dies of early onset dementia and Cass soon feels that she is headed for the same fate. Things get worse when she finds out the murdered woman was someone she recently befriended and she begins receiving phone calls she believes are from the murderer. Is she losing her mind or is there something more sinister at work? A can't put down thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end!

 P.S. From Paris by Marc Levy
In a novel that brings to mind the film Knotting Hill, an actress seeks anonymity in Paris.  Mia flies off to Paris after discovering her movie star husband's infidelity.   A series of mistaken identity and perhaps fate leads her to dinner with American ex-pat Paul.  Paul also came to Paris to escape.  Unable to deal with the fame of his first novel he moved to Paris and has strangely become a best selling author in Korea.  Although the two decide to be just friends, events and the interference of their friends seem to keep pushing the two together.  An endearing and funny look at modern romance.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
I could not put this book down and finished it in one day! Told from the point of view of three women this is a funny, intelligent and enthralling novel about the life of a young woman caught up in a political scandal. Rachel Grossman's daughter Aviva is an undergraduate at the University of Miami when she takes a job as an intern for a congressman. Rachel is horrified when her young daughter confides that she is having an affair with their former neighbor who is twice her age. When the affair comes to light, Aviva is slut-shammed and finds herself unable to find a job, even outside of Florida. She finally changes her name and moves to a small town in Maine to raise her daughter Ruby. But then Aviva, now Jane Young and an event planner, decides to run for office. Her thirteen year old daughter Ruby, a very smart child who is the target of mean girl bullies, discovers that her mother is not who she thought she was. The narrative includes Aviva's unfortunate blog about her affair and Ruby's emails to an overseas pen pal. This is a heartwarming and heartbreaking novel that will have you rooting for these three strong  women to find a happy ending.

Here are the YA books:

Words In Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
In alternating chapters, Australian teens Rachel and Henry recount their friendship. Rachel moved away from Gracetown three years previous after leaving a love letter to Henry in a book inside his family’s bookstore. Henry never acknowledged it and their correspondence fell off. Rachel left her perfect love letter in a copy of T.S. Eliot poems in the bookstore’s section called the Letter Library where customers write in the margins and leave notes for each other. Henry, who never got Rachel’s letter, is getting over a major break up while also dealing with the fact that the bookstore is failing. Rachel returns to Gracetown after the drowning death of her brother Cal and takes a job at the bookstore cataloging the Letter Library. Will these two former best friends help each other through their own personal losses and grief? Will their friendship change into something more? This is a heartfelt novel full of literary quotations that will appeal to the romantic in all of us. 

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Two lost souls find each other and themselves through letters left in a cemetery in this heartbreaking yet hopeful novel. Teenage Juliet lost her globe-trotting photojournalist mother when she is killed in a hit and run on the way home for the airport. Since then, Juliet has been unable to take part in her own love of photography and she deals with her grief and guilt by writing letters to her mother that she leaves on her gravestone. Declan, a high school student with a reputation for trouble, is fulfilling community service hours at the cemetery. Misunderstood and dealing with his anger towards his parents after the death of his younger sister, he finds one of Juliet’s letters cannot help but pencil in a reply. Writing anonymously to a fellow grieving person begins to help both Juliet and Declan. Although the two run into one another at school, neither knows who the other is as they use the aliases Cemetery Girl and The Dark in their letters and eventually online. This is a wonderful story that captures the heart of teen grief and offers hope.

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