“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.

“Definitions of Indefinable Things”–Review

51GZ8uMd5rL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“My name’s Reggie. I’m seventeen. My worldview is that we’re all spiraling toward a vast and gaping obscurity we can’t escape, and if we’re lucky, we’re doing so alone. Also, I despise you. And by you, I mean the general human population.”

Reggie Mason believes that, as long as she doesn’t let anyone in, she can’t get hurt. It’s become her defense mechanism. During a quick trip to CVS to pick up her Zoloft prescription, she meets Snake, who happens to be waiting at the pharmacy for his Prozac refills. When Reggie actually lets Snake into her life, she seems to have mixed feelings for him. After all, Snake is smug, arrogant, and he can be a bit too forward. Needy, perhaps. He has an addiction to Twizzlers. And he’s an aspiring film-maker who wants to include Reggie in his work-in-progress. That’s just about everything that makes him attractive.

As the two get to know each other more, it isn’t long before Reggie finds out that Snake has an ex-girlfriend, Carla Banks—a popular queen bee and ex-childhood friend of Reggie’s—who is seven months pregnant. Now that the three of them are in each other’s lives, they endure an awkward journey of mental breakdowns, lame shopping trips, disappointed parents, boring proms, and one embarrassing birthing class. Throughout that journey, Reggie has to get to the bottom of everything that has led to her depression, and that even though—to her—people can be scary, they’re worth having in her life.

This story was worth the read, in my opinion. Oftentimes, I’d get annoyed with Reggie because of her constant mixed feelings toward Snake. She hated him, yet she loved him. He’d summon her and she’d go running to him, even though she swore they weren’t anything to each other. But I think that’s what made the story interesting. They both were struggling with their own problems and were in search of happiness, as well as trying to figure out what happiness was. If you love YA, check out this book.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

*Definitions of Indefinable Things will be available on April 4, 2017.

*I received this copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Whitney Taylor is an English and psychology major from Virginia, who likes to pretend she is a supermodel from New York City. This is her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter. For more info on the author, click here.

“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.

“The Dollhouse”–Review

51mlXpppkzL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Hello, bloggers, and happy National Book Lovers Day!  I finished reading The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis, and here’s my review.

The story goes back and forth from 1950s New York to the present year, revolving around the glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, filled with aspiring models, secretaries, and editors.  Coming all the way from Ohio, Darby McLaughlin arrives at the hotel, in 1952, to begin secretarial courses.  While she is homesick and self-conscious, Darby meets Esme, a Barbizon maid, who introduces Darby to different scenes in New York—places where the young girls at Barbizon aren’t allowed—that include seedy jazz clubs, filled with addictive music and drugs.  Esme is a hard worker, a risk-taker, and aspiring singer, showing Darby to seize new opportunities and to stop doing what others want her to do.  And that’s where Darby meets Sam.

It’s more than half a century later, the Barbizon has become a condo, and most of its residents from long ago are forgotten.  For years, however, there have been rumors that Darby was involved in a deadly incident involving a hotel maid in 1952.  The history and the rumors of the Barbizon become a great idea for a new story for the present-day journalist, Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor.  In fact, it happens to be a good distraction from Rose’s failing relationship and living situation.

The investigation becomes unclear, as Rose’s obsession with the project increases, and both the women’s lives are changed indefinitely when the truth finally comes out.

I, definitely, recommend this book.  It provided quite a twist and I like the occasional historical fiction.  New York sounds so exciting and I hope to visit, one day.  Feel free to comment, as always.  Happy reading!

The Dollhouse will be available on August 23, 2016.

*I received this copy from Dutton Books, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Fiona Davis lives in New York City and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.  The Dollhouse is her first novel.

“In America”–Review

51Yi1la3zHL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Hello, all!  I just finished reading In America, the final installment of the Wayfarer Trilogy, by Nina Romano, so here’s my review.

This coming-of-age story introduces the beautiful Marcella Scimenti.  She’s headstrong, outspoken, and knows what she wants.  Oftentimes, she can be stubborn and drive her parents crazy.  She has the affection of a neighborhood boy and friend, Gianni Simoni, including the love of her large Italian family in 1920s Brooklyn.  Marcella also is a singer who aspires to one day have a singing career in Hollywood; however, a career in the performing arts is frowned upon by her parents.  Regardless of what anyone says, Marcella is determined to pursue her goals.

Throughout her journey, Marcella  learns to balance new friendships, new suitors, and her life in the working world with certain expectations of her tradition-bound family, all the while having to accept changes during the economic depression.  Just when she thinks things are starting to look up for her, Marcella learns of a devastating family secret, putting her to a test of loyalty, faith, and love. But can Marcella swallow her pride and see what’s been in front of her the whole time?

I’m happy to have had the opportunity to read this book.  I’d recently read Lemon Blossoms, which is the second book in the trilogy.  The first book is The Secret Language of Women.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to read that one (I couldn’t find it at my library).  Although the first two books should give you an idea of the stories and characters, I don’t think you’d have to read them in order.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the stories.  It makes me want to see Italy, someday, as well as New York.  There also were particular Italian foods mentioned in the books, which sounded so tempting.  Aside from that, the characters were likable and the stories were beautiful, providing some advice to think about, in my opinion.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

In America will be on sale July 19, 2016.

*I received this copy from Turner Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Nina Romano earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU.  She’sa world traveler and lover of history.  She lived in Rome, Italy, for 20 years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish.  She authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks.  Her most recent collection is Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows.  Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.  For more info, click here.