“Lift and Separate”–Review

41+3RiLE6kLAfter 33 years of marriage, Marcy Hammer is shocked and heartbroken when her husband, Harvey, the head of a global lingerie empire, says that he’s leaving her.  Although his clothes have been removed from the closet, Marcy still has high hopes that he’ll reconsider.  It’s just a midlife crisis, he claims.  After all, they’ve been married for a long time and they could work out whatever the issues are.  However, Marcy learns that Harvey has been having an affair with his much younger, 32DD fitting model.

While they’re technically separated, Marcy now has to figure out how to go on living without Harvey.  But how will she do it, she wonders?  She’s in her late fifties and feels it’s almost impossible to start over.  With love and support from her friends and adult children, however, she starts learning how to be on her own—even on occasions when she’s close to falling apart.

Along the way, though, Marcy is struck with more surprises and family troubles, including one involving her new, once-in-a-lifetime best friend.  Will she be able to handle it all, along with the fact that her marriage is ending?

This was a great story, with excellent narration, as well.  I enjoyed the humor in each chapter.  With one surprise after another, I thought, “This poor woman.  Isn’t she already going through enough?” While she’s trying to cope, Harvey constantly returns with a new excuse.  What’s Marcy to do?

I’m happy that the author, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, sent me this copy for an honest review, so now I can share it with you all.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author:  For more than twenty-five years, Marilyn Simon Rothstein owned an advertising agency in Connecticut. She grew up in New York City, earned a degree in journalism from New York University, began her writing career at Seventeen magazine, and married a man she met in an elevator.

Marilyn received a Master of Arts in liberal studies from Wesleyan University and a Master of Arts in Judaic Studies from the University of Connecticut.

“The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living”–Review

51whg08igcl-_sx328_bo1204203200_Good afternoon, fellow bloggers!  Here’s a review of one of my most recent reads for my online book club.  Enjoy.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope.

Olivia Rawlings is a pastry chef extraordinare for an exclusive Boston dinner club.  One evening, however, her flambéed dessert catches fire, including the rest of the building.  Feeling humilated, Olivia decides she needs to get away, so she packs a few things, including her dog, Salty, and drives out to Guthrie, Vermont—home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend, Hannah.  Although her stay is supposed to be temporary, Olivia is offered a job as a pastry chef for Margaret Hurley, the uptight owner of the Sugar Maple Inn.  Assuming her days at the club are numbered—including the fact that she’s broke and can’t pay her rent—Olivia takes the job.

With a new job, including free room and board, Livvy creates her famous desserts for the Guthrie residents.  It isn’t long, however, before she learns of the reason for being hired: to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest. No matter, Livvy is a team player.

During her stay, she begins to grow accustomed to the country life.  Will it be worth staying?  Or will she eventually go back to Boston?  Then Livvy meets Martin McCraken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to help out his sick father.  As she gets to know Martin more, Livvy realizes she’s not as alone and confused in the world as she’d assumed.  Then an unexpected arrival occurs in Guthrie, leaving Livvy to decide whether to stay or go, and what it means to truly be home.

I think this was a great story.  It tells the reader that not only does life not turn out the way we planned, it could be even better than we’d expected.  Also, if you’re a foodie, this could be the book for you.  Honestly, my reading the parts where desserts were being prepared made me crave pie.  The only thing I’ve baked is a cake, which was years ago.  The corners of the cake were cracked, but I was happy for my progress.  Perhaps I’ll learn to bake a pie, one day.

As always, feel free to comment.  Happy reading!

About the author: Louise Miller is a pastry chef and writer who lives and works in Boston, MA. She received a scholarship to attend GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, a yearlong workshop for novelists. She is an art school dropout, an amateur flower gardener, an old-time banjo player, an obsessive moviegoer, and a champion of old dogs. The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is her debut novel.

“Skipping Christmas”–Review

41mpsbst04l-_sx312_bo1204203200_Good afternoon, bloggers! I can’t believe it’s already the week of Christmas. I hope you all are enjoying some great books. I, too, am hoarding books faster than I can read them, but it’s worth it. Anyhow, after stumbling upon a recommendation for Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham, I immediately took an interest in reading it.

It’s a good plot.  With their daughter away in Peru doing work for the Peace Corps, Luther and Nora Krank have different plans for the holidays. Every, single year, they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on holiday festivities yet not much to show for it. Now that it’s the two of them, the Kranks decide it’s time to do something for themselves, for once.  Instead of spending money on all the madness of Christmas, they’re going to spend ten days enjoying the warm weather on a Caribbean cruise.  What a wonderful way to treat themselves, right?  Wrong.

Once word gets out that the Kranks are cancelling their annual Christmas plans, the entire neighborhood is angry.  While preparing for their upcoming cruise, the Kranks endure harassment, rumors, gossip, etc., but that still won’t stop the Kranks from packing their bags.  Until they are hit with another surprise, making everything twice as messy.

Rarely do I read holiday-themed books, but I enjoyed reading this one.  I was curious to see how far the madness would go.  Some of the neighbors were so annoying, yet I couldn’t help wondering what would happen next.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading and Happy Holidays!

“The Wayfarer Trilogy”–Review

511m9sm0mgl-_sx323_bo1204203200_-2Hello bloggers!  Although I’d read the last two books in the Wayfarer Trilogy awhile back, I’m happy for having the opportunity to finally read the first book, The Secret Language of Women, by Nina Romano.

Set in a war during the Boxer Rebellion in China, star-crossed lovers, Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, meet.  Because of superstition, history, and customs, Lian and Giacomo are separated yet try to find a way back to each other.  Then Lian is forced into marrying a man to whom she was promised long ago.  When she is forbidden from her profession as a healer, frowned upon by her unbound feet, and enduring her husband’s and in-laws’ demanding ways, Lian turns to Nushu, the women’s secret writing which expresses her hopes for the future.

When Lian realizes enough is enough, she embarks on her own quest for freedom—even if it will come with a costly price.  Not only does she risk everything in hopes of reuniting with Giacomo, she learns a lot more about herself along the way and what she’s willing to endure to be happy again.

I liked Giacomo and now that I’ve read his story, the next two books made a bit more sense to me.

51gnxdwxitl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Lemon Blossoms, the second book in the trilogy, takes place in Italy, where Angelica Domenico resides in a blossoming lemon grove on an island governed by volcanoes and earthquakes.  During an accident from her childhood, Angelica faces the importance of maintaining her purity.  She begins to question it all even more after she endures the trauma of her aunt’s death during a difficult childbirth.  Because of that, including her fear of intimacy, she decides she’s going to commit her life to the convent, even though her parents forbid it.

Things start to change, however, when Giacomo Scimenti stops by the family shop, leaving Angelica confused and afraid of her feelings toward him, including her future in the convent.

I liked this book, even more, especially when certain chapters mentioned some Italian recipes.  I hope to, one day, visit Italy.  Aside from that, it was a good story with likable characters.

51yi1la3zhl-_sx327_bo1204203200_The final book, In America, takes place in 1920s New York.  Marcella Scimenti—the daughter of the characters in the previous book—is young, beautiful, and ambitious.  The handsome neighborhood boy is in love with her, she has a large family, and she has dreams of moving to Hollywood to sing.  Although her parents forbid her to pursue a singing career, Marcella is willing to stick by her own stubborn ways and do what it takes.  During the economic depression, she learns the importance of friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working woman with certain expectations of her tradition-bound family.  Later on, Marcella’s fate is tested when she learns of a devastating family secret, leaving her to choose what is really important in life.

I’m happy for having the opportunity to read this trilogy and I loved some of the helpful advice Marcella was given in the third book.  It just left me thinking, “Wow.  I wouldn’t have thought of it that way.”  No spoilers, of course, so I’ll just encourage you to check out this wonderful trilogy.

Feel free to post your comments, of course.  Happy reading!

For more info on the author, click here.  Also, you can follow her on Twitter.

“The Taste of Air”–Review

416syijurlIt all changes with a phone call.

Nell Williams, a wife and full time mother, receives a phone call regarding her mother, Mary Ellen Reilly.  While Mary is supposed to be residing in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, apparently she’s been in a hospital in Vermont.  Confused by this new information, Nell contacts her sister, Bridget, and hops on a plane to Vermont.  By the time the sisters arrive, they learn that Mary has been seriously ill and is barely capable of speaking, so getting any information is going to be a lot more difficult.

While they’re there, the sisters eventually learn that Mary has been living another life, with a cottage of her own and a connection to two men—including the local residents—who claim to have known Mary for years.  But who are they to Mary?  And is it possible that they’re connected with Nell and Bridget?

During their stay in their mother’s hideaway, Nell and Bridget start to uncover more secrets from Mary’s past, leading them to question their own lives and decisions for the future.

I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to read this book.  Each chapter contained many surprises and it left me wanting more.  I especially liked the descriptions of the settings in Vermont. (I hope to, one day, visit the place.)  I also enjoyed reading the chapters from Mary’s past.  No worries, I won’t spoil a thing, but I will recommend you check out this book.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author: Gail Cleare has written for magazines, newspapers, Fortune 500 companies, and AOL.  Her award-winning advertising agency represented the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  She was the turtle Leonardo’s date for the world premier of the second movie, and got to wear a black evening gown and sparkly shoes.  Gail lives on an 18th century farm in New England with her family and dogs, cats, chickens, black bears, blue herons, rushing streams, and wide, windy skies.  She loves organic gardening and nature photography and can often be found stalking creatures with a 300 mm lens.  Check her out on Twitter.

“The Two-Family House”–Review

51p7ayjdy3l-_sx327_bo1204203200_Good afternoon, bloggers! I just finished my required reading—The Two-Family House—for an upcoming book club, and I’m happy to share this with you.

In 1940s Brooklyn, a blizzard is approaching.  In a two-family brownstone are two mothers who are sisters by marriage.  Rose is dutiful and quiet, who just wants to please her distant and difficult husband, Mort.  Helen, although exhausted from raising four rambunctious boys, is caring, warm, and patient.  During the blizzard, Rose and Helen go into labor at the same time, with both babies born minutes apart.  Throughout the years, both women have raised their families side by side, supporting each other, and bonding like sisters.

After the storm has passed, both families go about their normal lives.  As the years pass, however, the once-deep friendship between Rose and Helen starts to unravel.  Rose hasn’t been the same since the the blizzard and Helen can’t figure out the reason, nor can both families.  It all eventually leads back to one misguided choice, a secret between Rose and Helen that can affect both families, should it ever be revealed.

I was immediately interested in this story when it first came out and I’m happy for having the opportunity to read it.  It wasn’t what I expected.  Some of the characters had me a bit frustrated—like the relationship between Mort and his brother Abe, Helen’s husband—yet made me want to know their story.  At times, it had me asking, “Why are you all this way?” And some scenes had me near tears, but I was enjoying the whole book.

As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author: Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.  She earned a B.A. in English and American literature from Harvard College and J.D. from Columbia Law School.  She is now a student at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College and lives with her husband and two children in Chappaqua, New York.  Follow her on Twitter.

“Marrow: A Love Story”–Review

51bgxbf6cl-_sx323_bo1204203200_A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant.

Elizabeth Lesser always took an interest in finding out what it means to be true to oneself and to be truly connected with our loved ones.  Then she receives a phone call from her sister, Maggie.  Maggie is dying and is in need of a bone marrow transplant.  When Lesser finds out she’s a perfect match to be Maggie’s donor, she starts to question what it really means to love.

While Maggie goes through the transplant, the sisters eventually become more open regarding their relationship—as well as with their other sisters—to clear a path to unconditional acceptance.  They examine their family history, difficult conversations, old assumptions, etc.  Within time, they offer forgiveness and love.

Even with the transplant and additional treatments, however, Maggie’s body becomes too weak to fight the illness.  Lesser takes on more than she can handle, all to give Maggie a longer life.  Despite the struggles, the sisters become closer, their blood cells a symbol of the bond they share.

I’d just finished reading this book today and I enjoyed it.  Not only does the author talk about family and sisterhood, she talks about getting more in touch with ourselves, accepting ourselves, loving ourselves, including the importance of letting go.

Marrow: A Love Story is available now.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from Shelf Awareness’ giveaway, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Elizabeth Lesser is the New York Times bestselling author of Broken Open and the cofounder of the Omega Institute, an organization recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences focusing on health and healing, psychology and spirituality, and creativity and social change.  Prior to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and childbirth educator.  She attended Barnard College and San Francisco State University, and lives in the Hudson River Valley with her family.  For more info on the author, click here.