Monday, January 30, 2012

No Place like Home

Homecoming by Cathy Kelly

Irish Women's fiction writer Cathy Kelly spins a heartwarming tale set in "Golden Square." A scandalized actress with a vulnerable heart, Megan, collides with a grieving psychoanalyst, Eleanor, who is returning to Ireland to explore her roots. Connie is a schoolteacher who is woefully single while everyone around her is getting married and Rae has a terrible secret from her past. Although these plots may sound familiar, the book isn't generic. Being immersed in their world was like nursing a hot cup of tea on a winter day. There were funny parts, sad parts, and overall, the narrative thread stayed strong.

Song: "Paradise" by Coldplay:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Never Any Peace and Quiet for Parents :)

The Arrivals 
By Meg Mitchell Moore

Genre: Fiction, Adult Novel

The Review:
Parents/grandparents Ginny and William find their quiet Vermont home overrun with their grown children. The eldest daughter, Lillian, is on the run from her husband Tom, who cheated, dragging precocious 3-year-old Olivia, and baby Phillip. Stephen and Jane on unexpected bedrest. Rachel, on the run from relationship and career woes. 

I loved the compelling portrayal of women's roles in today's society. So many perspectives. Jane, the ambitious career woman. Lillian, the loving yet reluctant mother. Rachel, who is trying to find herself, her career, and a balance. Ginny, who never questioned her role as a mother. A swift, satisfying read. 

Song to Read By: "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Croft

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Of course you'll feel better in the South of France

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted 
by Bridget Asher

Initially, I didn’t want to read this book—a sullen teenager, grief-stricken mom, and OCD tween—not a recipe for a fun read. But I loved the cover, blue and white crockery, a dash of red, and I love traveling to Provence in books. This book was a pleasant surprise. The relationships were honest, the flashbacks were romantic, and the scenery and descriptions of the food were unique and delectable. The main character, Heidi, grows in significant ways, but she’s just flawed enough to be believable. If you can’t afford the plane ticket to France, pick up this book. 

Song to Read By: "Dance Me to the End of Love" by Madeline Peyroux:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guest Blogger Veronica Reviews Wendy Mass

Jeremy Fink and The Meaning Of Life 
by Wendy Mass

Jeremy Fink a almost 13 year old boy goes through many obstacles and learns many life lessons along the way about life; trying to find three keys that fit inside a box. His father (died in a car crash) left a box for him, and told him to open it in on his 13th birthday. Jeremy and his friend Lizzie search everywhere throughout the city of Manhattan to find the keys and encounter many fascinating people along the way. This is a great book because the two friends go on an amazing adventure. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Blogger Jessica Reviews The Fox Inheritance

The Fox Inheritance by Mary Pearson

If you want a book that is thrilling, suspenseful and gripping; The Fox Inheritance is the one. With jam-packed chapters and heartfelt characters you will never be bored. Locke is so heartfelt and emotional, you are so empathetic towards his character and he makes you hold your breath when he is in danger, and sigh when he is safe. When he triumphs, you feel a major lift off your shoulders. What I really enjoy about this book is that it is very technology-based, but still takes ethics into hand. I would suggest this book for ages 12 and up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Life of a Portrait Painter

The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff

This book was immensely satisfying to read. As Ella paints 

portraits, the stories her sitters tell weave into her own life 

and help her make decisions and inspire her, such as whether 

to see her estranged father, whether to advise her sister Chloe 

on an upcoming wedding, and more. The descriptions of the 

painting process, whether technical paint colors or emotional 

revelations was described well. The end felt meaningful and 

hard-won. Read this book!

Songs to Read By: a suite of piano music by Danny Elfman: . 

arranged by piano students

Monday, January 16, 2012

The latest Lady Emily Mystery! A Crimson Warning

Smart, sassy, insightful, intuitive, clever, with big opinions and the verve to back them up: these describe the heroine of Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily series. This series started with the novel And Only to Deceive, where Emily is in mourning after her first husband (a marriage of convenience) has died. She becomes interested in Greek antiquities and also begins to investigate her husband's death, a man she barely knew. Along the way, she meets Colin Hargreaves. I loved this novel because it has many scenes in the British Museum and was also about art forgery. 

Several books later, we have the latest installment, which I will review below. Don't you just love the cover?

This book finds Emily back in London, with the same old characters in the "smart set." However, this book has added complexity, because two plot-lines run parallel. I liked how Emily is becoming more politically active and campaigning for the suffrage movement. There is a thematic depth which touches on politics and morality. The novel includes the enjoyable repartee between Colin and Emily, continues her friendship with Ivy and Emily's interest in art and antiquities. The story has hints of romance, mystery, intrigue, and a wonderfully evoked setting and attention to the language of the time period. 

Music to Read By: "Claire de Lune" by Debussy

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy

This book will inspire you to wake up earlier and watch the sunrise, to cook with fresh, simple ingredients, and grow an herb garden in your kitchen window (even if, like me, you don't like gardening). You will want to pull a lemon straight from a tree, learn Italian, and book a ticket to Italy right away. (I am visiting Cortona in 2 months!).

Note: First of all, if you have watched the movie, know that many delights await you separate from the film. The "characters" and plot-line are very different. However, some of the descriptions are word-for-word lifted from the book into the narration of the film. 

The Review: The memoir Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes takes place in Cortona, Italy. Frances is a writer and English professor and she travels to Italy almost every summer with her partner (now husband), Ed. The writing highlights the lifestyle in Italy: warm friendships, gardening, farming, the connection with the land and making your own olive oil. Getting back to basics, from hiking the olive terraces to dining under the trees. The story is about rediscovering your life and how you want to live. That is why I think this book struck a chord with so many readers. Renovating Bramasole (which means ''to yearn for the sun'') helped Frances discover how to renovate her life. 

Music to Read By: from the movie soundtrack "The Old Man with the Flowers."

Author website:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Italian Memoirs!

As I prepare for a trip to Italy this Spring, I am reading all of the memoirs by Frances Mayes about Tuscany. Stay tuned for these reviews:

Under the Tuscan Sun

Bella Tuscany

Every Day in Tuscany

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Sixes--sexy, suspenseful, fun!

The Sixes 
By Kate White

This book is a suspenseful thriller that follows a recently humiliated celebrity author, Phoebe, who had been accused of plagiarism. Her best friend Glenda invites her to teach a course at fictional Lyle College, but then a student, Lily Mack, is found dead in the river. A mysterious, all-girl secret society called the Sixes may be behind it and Glenda taps Phoebe to investigate. This book is a quick read, with a hint of romance, humor, and three subplots which weave together in a satisfying manner by the end. 

Song to Read by: "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse: