Posted in April 2019

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Synopsis:

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.

Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.

My review:
Although my kids are now grown and out of the house, I can remember those hectic days of trying to balance work and raising kids. There were so many days that I would just roll my eyes and say, “Calgon, take me away!” MOMSPRINGA?! That’s brilliant! The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is a story that I think all mothers can relate to, whether they are married or single. I think at some point, we have all wished we could just get away from the day to day of raising kids and find that person we used to be. I enjoyed reading Amy’s adventures in finding some “me” time and discovering herself once again.

Posted in April 2019

Park Avenue Summer by Rene Rosen

Synopsis:

Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada as Renée Rosen draws readers into the glamour of 1965 New York City and Cosmopolitan Magazine, where a brazen new Editor-in-Chief–Helen Gurley Brown–shocks America by daring to talk to women about all things off limits…

New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown’s world, a woman can demand to have it all.

My review:
Park Avenue Summer is a fascinating glimpse into the early days of Cosmopolitan magazine(as we know it!) and it’s first female editor, Helen Gurley Brown. Rene Rosen’s research is always evident in her books but her work shines through in this novel! I lost sleep over this book simply because I couldn’t put it down and read into the early hours. Grab a copy of this book, a martini and settle in for an amazing read!

Posted in April 2019

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

Synopsis:

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…

From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships.

My review:
When I saw that Sally Hepworth had a new book, I didn’t even bother reading the description because I knew it would be good! The Mother-In-Law tells the story of so many family relationships besides the sometimes adversarial relationship between a daughter in law and her mother in law. While I first saw Diana as cold and calculating, I soon realized why. Sally Hepworth seamlessly blends familial relationships and issues along with a whodunit that kept me turning the pages!

Posted in April 2019

Only One Life by Ashley Farley

Synopsis:

Julia Martin grew up wealthy, but it wasn’t until she met her husband, Jack, that she knew true happiness. He made her feel worthy and loved. Their marriage was also an escape from her sister’s bullying, her father’s scrutiny, and her chilly and enigmatic mother. But when tragedy strikes on the night she gives birth, Julia’s happiness is shattered. She has no choice but to return home to her family’s South Carolina mansion, where the grief and guilt buried in her mother’s past await her.

As a young woman trapped in a bitter marriage, Julia’s mother, Iris, once needed her own means of escape. In Lily, she found a best friend. In the flower shop they opened, she discovered independence. Then came a transgression—unforgivable, unforgettable, and unresolved—that changed Iris’s life forever.

Now, in Iris’s most desperate hour, her only hope is to regain the trust of the daughter she loves—and to share the secrets of the heart that could rebuild a family’s broken bonds.

My review:
I love a good southern fiction book and Only One Life was amazing! I loved the different viewpoints and learning about Iris and Julia’s stories, layer by layer. I read this captivating story in one sitting…unputdownable! Grab a glass of sweet tea, pull up a chair on the porch and settle in with this book!

Posted in April 2019

The Great Pretenders by Laura Kalpakian

Synopsis:

The daughter of Hollywood royalty, Roxanne Granville is used to getting what she wants–even if she has to break the rules. But after a falling-out with her grandfather, a powerful movie mogul, she has to face life on her own for the first time….

Roxanne forges a career unique for women in the 1950s, becoming an agent for hungry young screenwriters. She struggles to be taken seriously by the men who rule Hollywood and who often assume that sexual favors are just a part of doing business. When she sells a script by a blacklisted writer under the name of a willing front man, more exiled writers seek her help. Roxanne wades into a world murky with duplicity and deception, and she can’t afford any more risks.

Then she meets Terrence Dexter, a compelling African American journalist unlike anyone she’s ever known. Roxanne again breaks the rules, and is quickly swept up in a passionate relationship with very real dangers that could destroy everything she’s carefully built.

Roxanne Granville is a woman who bravely defies convention. She won’t let men make all the rules, and won’t let skin color determine whom she can love. The Great Pretenders is a riveting, emotional novel that resonates in today’s world, and reminds us that some things are worth fighting for. 

My review:

I love historical fiction set in old Hollywood and couldn’t wait to read The Great Pretenders. Roxanne Granville is Hollywood royalty and born with a silver spoon. In 1950’s Hollywood, the “red scare” is snowballing and many are blacklisted. Roxanne starts her own writers agency and soon finds herself making decisions that could be career ending. Not to mention that she falls for a black reporter which was taboo then. Laura Kapakian’s research and attention to detail shines through! I loved this story! A must read for historical fiction fans.

Posted in April 2019

The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck

Synopsis:

In the summer of 1976, recently widowed and childless, Ora Lee Beckworth hires a homeless old black man to mow her lawn. The neighborhood children call him the Pee-can Man; their mothers call them inside whenever he appears. When the police chief’s son is found stabbed to death near his camp, the man Ora knows as Eddie is arrested and charged with murder. Twenty-five years later, Ora sets out to tell the truth about the Pecan Man. In narrating her story, Ora discovers more truth about herself than she could ever have imagined. This novel has been described as To Kill a Mockingbird meets The Help.

My review:

A book friend recommended that I read The Pecan Man and then she sent me a copy. I almost didn’t read it simply because I thought it’s too short to be any good. Well, was I wrong!! The Pecan Man is a beautifully written southern fiction story that has been described as To Kill A Mockingbird meets The Help. I fell in love with the characters of Ora Lee and Blanche from page one. Even though the pages are few, this story will linger with me for a long time! Thank you for the recommendation and copy, Lisa!