2016 Book 373: AN ADDRESS IN AMSTERDAM by Mary Dingee Fillmore

An Address in Amsterdam by Mary Dingee Fillmore 
ISBN: 9781631521331 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631521348 (ebook)
ASIN: B01LYJWNH6 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 4, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press

Rachel Klein hopes she can ignore the Nazis when they roll into Amsterdam in May 1940. She’s falling in love, and her city has been the safest place in the world for Jewish people since the Spanish Inquisition. But when Rachel’s Gentile boyfriend is forced to disappear rather than face arrest, she realizes that everything is changing, and so must she so, although she is often tired and scared, she delivers papers for the underground under the Nazis noses. But after eighteen months of ever increasing danger, she pushes her parents to go into hiding with her. The dank basement where they take refuge seems like the last place where Rachel would meet a new man but she does. An Address in Amsterdam shows that, even in the most hopeless situation, an ordinary young woman can make the choice to act with courage and even love.





Spring 1940 and Rachel Klein’s thoughts are on the Nazi occupation and the plight of the Jews in the Netherlands, her family in Germany, and love. Rachel sees how Amsterdam is quickly changing and is willing to do whatever she can to protect as many people as possible in An Address in Amsterdam by Mary Dingee Fillmore.

For eighteen years, Rachel has been an ideal and dutiful daughter, never causing her parents any worry. Now that Rachel is growing older, she’s forming her own opinions and is very concerned about what she sees happening to her Jewish friends and neighbors. She’s also very worried about what might happen to her own family in Amsterdam. Rachel’s mother Rose wanted the family to leave and go to London and stay with an elderly aunt, but Rachel’s father, Jacob a dedicated physician, feels that the Dutch will never allow the Nazis’ to more than a physical presence. As Rachel sees more and more hatred aimed at the Jewish population, and her lover Michiel is forced to leave or face arrest or worse, she joins the underground movement as a courier delivering messages, newspapers, and even forged documents. Rachel learns that not all of the Dutch are willing to blindly follow the Nazis and put their lives not to mention the lives of their loved ones on the line by helping to hide and protect Jewish families and other members of the underground movement. When things begin to get really bad in Amsterdam, Rachel talks her parents into hiding, but will it be enough to protect them from the Nazis?

I found An Address in Amsterdam to be an engrossing read. The beginning of the story read a bit slow, but after the first 40-50 pages, the story picked up steam and I kept turning page after page just to see what would happen next. Ms. Fillmore provides a dramatic story of acts of heroism, courage, and love in the face of adversity. Rachel comes across as a typical teen at times filled with teen angst and drama, and then she is seen as the unbelievably courageous and heroic woman willing to do what she can in the face of fear and unknown horrors. This is not just the story of one girl and the underground movement, but rather the story of one girl, one family, one love, and the Dutch gentiles working to help and protect Dutch Jews in a time of unspeakable acts of bigotry, hatred, and horrors. It was impossible to read An Address in Amsterdam and not be touched by the ugliness directed towards the Jewish population. However, Ms. Fillmore has taken a story about a group of people that we know doesn’t end well at all and imbued it with a sense of hope that things will get better and that love will help these people make it through. Do things end well for Rachel and her family? You’ll have to read the story to find out. If you enjoy reading historical fiction then I recommend you grab a copy of An Address in Amsterdam to read. 

Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via BookSparks. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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2016 Book 204: FIRST COMES LOVE by Emily Giffin



First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
ISBN: 9780345546920 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345546937 (ebook)
ASIN: B014NZ4SXW (Kindle version)
Publication Date: June 28, 2016 
Publisher: Ballantine Books


In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads. Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond. Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands. On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.  As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first. Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.


When we first meet the Garland family, they seem to be a happy family with three adult children and no major worries in the world. Then tragedy strikes and the family is torn apart rather than brought closer together. Sisters Josie and Meredith have taken totally different paths over the past fifteen years and both feel as if there is something missing in Emily Giffin’s latest, First Comes Love.

Josie Garland is the middle child and can’t live up to her eldest brother’s legacy of being super smart and kind. Her younger sister, Meredith, is making her own way in life by studying theater arts. When we meet Josie and Meredith, they are in their early twenties and still searching for their paths in lives. Their lives, indeed their entire family is turned upside down after the tragic death of their older brother in a car accident. Meredith graduates with a degree in Theater Arts but opts for law school. Josie graduates with a degree in education and becomes a first-grade teacher. Meredith winds up married to her brother’s best friend and the mother of a four-year-old. Josie is living with her best friend, her male best friend, and still single. As Josie gets closer to her 38th birthday, she decides to pursue motherhood even if it means being a single mother. Meredith is having her own mid-life crisis, and wonders if she made the right decision to marry her husband and if she should stay married. She doesn’t want more children and her husband wants at least two or three more. Both Josie and Meredith are dealing with a lot of stressors and sadly, they don’t have one another to turn to as they epitomize sibling rivalry even in their adult relationship. Just when it seems like their relationship might wind up getting better, a secret is revealed that might tear them apart forever.  

I found First Comes Love to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. I was intrigued by the relationship between Josie and Meredith, as they both seemed to constantly find fault with one another no matter the situation. The relationship between these two sisters was probably more realistic than not, as not all siblings like each other even if they do love one another. As someone that has had to deal with the death of a sibling in adulthood, I was interested to see how the evolution/devolution of the family would play out. I liked both Josie and Meredith, especially Josie’s extroverted nature compared to Meredith’s introverted nature. Although Josie and Meredith don’t seem to get along due to their entrenched sibling rivalry, jealousy seems to be at the heart of their problems with each other. First Comes Loves spans only a few months in the adult lives of Josie and Meredith, but there’s a lot crammed into those few months. Ms. Giffin has crafted a story that provides tragedy, turmoil, drama, hints of romance, and a sense of hopefulness throughout it all. If you want to read a realistic story about siblings and family that has a hopeful ever after thread woven throughout, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of First Comes Love. I recommend waiting until you have the weekend to binge read this book because you won’t want to put it down.


Disclaimer: I received a print advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book Spotlight: ONE TRUE LOVES by Taylor Jenkins Reid



One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
ISBN: 9781476776903 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781476776910 (ebook)
ASIN: B0176M3XWQ (Kindle version)
Publication Date: June 7, 2016 
Publisher: Washington Square Press


From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a “Best Book of the Summer” by Glamour and USA Today—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.





Meet the author:


Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author, essayist and TV writer from Acton, Mass. Her debut novel, Forever, Interrupted, has been optioned with Dakota Johnson attached to star. She is adapting her second book, After I Do, for ABC Family. Her most recent novel, Maybe In Another Life, has been featured in People, Us Weekly, Cosmo and more.
In addition to her novels, Taylor’s essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, xoJane and a number of other blogs.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and their dog, Rabbit.




Connect with the author:     Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter




As a participant in the Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge 2016 (SRC2016), I’ve been asked to answer a few questions about Ms. Reid…here goes:


  1. The first book I ever read by Taylor Jenkins Reid was After I Do as part of SRC2014.
  2. My Wish for Taylor Jenkins Reid as a Mom is to simply enjoy every moment as your baby will be graduating from high school and leaving home before you know it.
  3. My Wish for Taylor Jenkins Reid as an author is that she becomes just as well-known and beloved as Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele.
  4. My Favorite book by Taylor Jenkins Reid…that’s a difficult choice and I can’t name just one so After I Do and Maybe In Another Life.
  5. Who is your One True Love? My One True Love isn’t a romantic love, it’s a maternal love and it rests with my stepson Abdullah. I never thought I’d have children and being his stepmother has been the best experience I’ve ever had.



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Book Spotlight: APPETITE by Sheila Grinell




Appetite by Sheila Grinell 
ISBN: 9781631520228 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631520235 (ebook)
ASIN: B01DU18W6E (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 17, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press


When Jenn Adler returns from a year in India, she has a surprise for her parents: a young guru from Bangalore whom she intends to marry. Her father, Paul, is wary of this beggar Jenn has brought home who, he suspects, is conning his much-loved daughter while her mother, Maggie, is frightened that this alien stranger will steal away her only child, her focus in life. 

In the months leading up to the backyard wedding, Maggie is forced to reevaluate her virtues as she casts about for support, and Paul faces an unexpected threat at work one that Maggie could help him meet if he would only ask. But even with these distractions, the two parents are focused on one primary question: Can they convince their daughter she is making a terrible mistake before the wedding takes place?




Meet the author:



Sheila Grinell was born in Manhattan (in a taxi). A wife and mother, she has worked as a business executive, designed science museums, and is a certified yoga instructor. She lives in Phoenix with her husband. Appetite is her debut novel.


Connect with the author:     Website      |     Twitter 



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Book Showcase: THE HOUSE OF BRADBURY by Nicole Meier




The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier 
ISBN: 9781940716381 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781940716398 (ebook)
ASIN: B01DJWHB3O (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 10, 2016 
Publisher: Spark Press


Mia Gladwell’s life is going nowhere. The media has skewered her debut novel, her fiance Carson, a successful Hollywood producer, has jumped ship, and now she’s living in her sister’s carriage house unattached, unemployed, and uninspired. Then she learns that the Los Angeles estate of iconic author Ray Bradbury is up for sale, and she feels an immediate urge to buy the wonky old house, convinced that moving into the late author’s home will inspire her to create her best work yet. Life in the Bradbury house is not what Mia imagined, however. Soon after moving in, to fulfill a debt she owes to Carson, she agrees to take in a pill-popping young actress as a tenant, and suddenly she finds herself in a balancing act between her needy ex, an unpredictable starlet, and her disapproving sister, who’s keeping a close eye on her. Add to this a series of mysterious sketches left at her doorstep by a stranger, and Mia s life is more complicated than ever. As she searches for clues, though, Mia discovers insights into her own life. Maybe moving into Bradbury’s house was a big mistake but maybe not.



Read an excerpt from The House of Bradbury here.




Meet the author:



Nicole Meier is a native Southern Californian who pulled up roots and moved to the Pacific Northwest. She works as a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She lives in Oregon with her family. The House of Bradbury is her first novel.





Connect with the author:

Website     |     Twitter     |     Facebook     |     Goodreads     |     Instagram




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2015 Book 315: PRETENDING TO DANCE by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 9781250010742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250010735 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781427261991 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00V3ABTLU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.

As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she’s kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.

Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn’t know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.

Told with Diane Chamberlain’s compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.   



Molly Arnette has been married to Aidan James for ten years. Both are lawyers with Molly practicing Family Law and Aidan currently teaching Immigration Law at a local university. Unable to have children of their own, they have decided to adopt. One of the things Molly and Aidan pride themselves on is their ability to discuss anything and everything. But in preparing their adoption file, Molly begins to remember the summer her father died and worries that the lies she’s told to Aidan and the adoption agency may destroy her chance at having a family in Diane Chamberlain’s latest, Pretending to Dance.

Molly Arnette grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Her father, Graham, was a psychologist specializing in “pretend” therapy, based on the idea that “if you pretend you’re the sort of person you want to be, you will gradually become that person.” He also suffered from a debilitating form of MS. Molly’s “mother” or adoptive mother, Nora, is a pharmacist. Molly’s birth mother, Amalia, lives on family land and teaches Molly to dance. The summer Molly turned fourteen was a summer to remember for a variety of reasons: her first romance, befriending Stacy Bateman, helping her father with his last book, her father’s book tour, attending the New Kids on the Block concert, learning the truth about her birth and adoption, and her father’s death (or murder, in her mind). Now Molly is thirty-eight years old and has limited contact with her family in North Carolina. She’s told Aidan and the adoption agency that her parents are deceased, but that’s not exactly true. The process of adoption, especially an open adoption, is something that she likes on paper but is somewhat wary given her own experiences. The further along Molly and Aiden get in the adoption process, the more stressed Molly becomes. She knows that just because she’s been pretending to be an orphan won’t make it true. Can she ever tell Aidan the truth about her background without it destroying her marriage? Will an adoptive mother ever choose them and bless them with a child? And will Molly ever truly learn the truth about her father’s death?

I found Pretending to Dance to be a quick and engaging read. Molly’s story is told by alternating between her life in 2014 and the summer of 1990. Ms. Chamberlain has provided the reader with an amazing glimpse into the life and mind of Molly Arnette as both a fourteen-year-old and as a thirty-eight-year-old. The more we learn about the fourteen-year-old Molly, the easier it is to understand the thoughts and actions of the thirty-eight-year-old Molly. Adoption can be a wonderful process for the adoptive parents and child, and an equally hard and grief-imposing process for the birth mother. Open adoption is one way to minimize the harshness and grief for the birth mother by permitting her to continue to be a part of her child’s life. I can understand why Molly had qualms about open adoption, even if she hadn’t lived with it as a child. The adoptive mother may always wonder if she will lose her child’s love and affection to its birth mother as if it is a competition rather than a new way to build a family. Added into these issues Molly is having with open adoption is the fact that she’s been contacted by a cousin about her birth mother and her declining health. The overwhelming idea that I took away from reading this book is that it isn’t possible to pretend away our past no matter how much we lie to ourselves or want it to go away. There are a lot of issues raised in Pretending to Dance: the ever-changing definition of family, adoption, the possibility of false memories, teenage angst and drama, the impact of living with a chronic and debilitating illness, lies, and secrets. Does Molly ever come to grips with her past? Does she reveal the truth to Aidan? Will they be chosen by a birth mother and finally be able to start a family? For the answer to these questions and more, you’ll need to grab a copy of Pretending to Dance and read it to find out.

















Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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Book Showcase: THE WALK-IN CLOSET by Abdi Nazemian



The Walk-In Closet by Abdi Nazemian
ISBN: 9780615988689 (paperback)
ASIN: B00KHZ8CQ2 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Curtis Brown Digital


Kara Walker has never found much glamour in her own life, especially not when compared to the life of her best friend Bobby Ebadi. Bobby, along with his sophisticated parents Leila and Hossein, is everything Kara always wanted to be. The trio provides the perfect antidote to what Kara views as the more mundane problems of her girlfriends and her divorced parents. And so when the Ebadis assume that Kara is Bobby’s girlfriend, she willingly steps into the role. She enjoys the perks of life in this closet, not only Leila’s designer hand-me-downs and free rent, but also the excitement of living life as an Ebadi.

As Kara’s 30th birthday approaches, Leila and Hossein up the pressure. They are ready for Kara to assume the mantle of the next Mrs. Ebadi, and Bobby seems prepared to give them what they want: the illusion of a traditional home and grandchildren. How far will Kara be willing to go? And will she be willing to pull the Persian rug out from under them when she discovers that her own secret is just one of many lurking inside the Ebadi closet? 


Read an excerpt:

1

“I have the perfect shoes for you.” Leila said with a smile. “They are just a little tight on me, so they should fit you perfectly.” We were in her enormous walk-in closet, really more like a wing in the Ebadi house. It had once been an exercise room, but Leila got rid of the Solorflex and converted the gym into an immaculately organized, white-lacquered dressing room. The clothes were arranged by color. Sharp white suits on one end, slinky black dresses on the other, with yellow tanks, red skirts, and navy blazers between.

Leila popped open a white-lacquered panel, revealing rows and rows of shoes. Pumps. Stilettos. Boots. Hermès sneakers in every color. “You know you’re like a daughter to me,” she said. Music to my ears. Now, I loved my mother Harry. She had her endearing qualities, like the fact that she never cheated at online Scrabble, and that she made me matzo ball soup when I was sick even though we’re not Jewish. But who wouldn’t have traded in Harry for a mother who conducted spring cleaning by giving last season’s couture to you? I’m not sure Harry even knew what couture was. Born and bred in Thousand Oaks, Harry lived in a world (not coincidentally, the world in which I was raised) of strip malls and outlet stores.

“Has Babak played you the new Omara Portuondo CD?” Leila asked.

“I don’t think so,” I responded.

“It’s incredible, the music that comes out of Cuba. Repression always makes for such moving art.” Leila pondered her statement and then added, “Of course, when we were in Havana a few years ago, the people didn’t seem repressed at all. They actually appeared quite joyful. Ah, here they are.” Leila handed me a pair of Prada flats adorned with lavender gemstones. “Aren’t they pretty? Try them on.”

“Leila, I can’t.”

“Just one week until Nowruz,” she said. “You know it’s customary to conduct an extensive spring cleaning before the New Year and replenish the closet.”

“I just feel like you’re spoiling me.”

“What am I going to do? Give these clothes to somebody who will not appreciate them? Give me your foot,” she ordered. She was a difficult woman to disobey. I kicked off my ratty old Steve Maddens and lifted my right foot, worried that she would make note of my chipped pedicure. Gently, she slipped the right flat on my foot. It fit flawlessly. As stylish as a stiletto, as comfortable as a slipper.

“Who needs Prince Charming,” I joked, “when I have you?”

Never one to dwell on a sentimental moment, Leila immediately noticed an imperfection. “One of the amethysts fell off. I forgot.”

“I don’t care. They’re beautiful.”

“Here.” Leila dug through a drawer full of old buttons and thread until she pulled out an amethyst and placed it carefully into my hand. “Rosa Maria can re-attach it. She was a seamstress before she came to us. She’s very talented.”

“You’re too good to me.”

“Do you wear Chanel, or is it too old for you” she asked.

“I’m turning thirty in less than a month. I think I can rock the Chanel now.”

Leila flinched at my use of the word rock. To her, a rock was something you either kicked on the beach or put on your finger. She pulled a pink Chanel suit off the rack. Very Jackie O. “I never wear it anymore.”

“I can’t, Leila, you’ve given me enough.”

“Stop with the tarof,” she said.

Tarof was one of the untranslatable Farsi expressions I had picked up from the Ebadis and their friends. Basically: don’t bother arguing when offered something, just accept graciously.

“Well, okay then. No more tarof. I’ll take the whole closet.”

“That’s more like it, Kara djoon.” I love when she speaks that beautiful endearment after my name.

I slipped the suit on in front of her, and it fit perfectly. It did make me look older, but in a sophisticated way. I assessed my reflection. My blond hair had recently been layered and highlighted at Leila’s favorite salon. My skin was still glowing from the oxygen facial that Leila had treated me to the week before. And my body was looking firm from the Pilates session of Leila’s that I’d crashed. For a single woman on the precipice of earliest middle age, I was looking pretty good. Of course, I wasn’t single in Leila’s eyes. I was abruptly reminded of that when “Gimme More,” Britney’s latest hit, rang from the cell phone in my purse.

Leila looked inside and pulled it out. “It’s Babak,” she said as she handed me the phone. On its screen was a photo of Bobby, reclining on the blue Astroturf of the Standard Hotel, palm trees reflected in his Aviator shades, his wavy jet-black hair almost blue in the glare of the sun.

“Getting impatient?” I answered.

“What are you two doing up there? Bobby whispered urgently.

“Trying on clothes.”

“Well, hurry up. You know I can’t stand this much one-on-one time alone with my dad. He’s making me watch golf.”

“Where are you calling from?”

“The guest bathroom. Just hurry.” Bobby hung up.

“What does he vant?” Sometimes Leila slips and her Ws come out as Vs.

“Nothing.”

“I don’t see why he can’t do without you and just watch golf for thirty minutes while we try on a few things. His father was never so possessive, thank goodness.” She ran her hands along one of the immaculate white-lacquered shelves. “When we built this house, it was the beginning of the eighties–Babak was five when we were renovating it, so it was 1982. I always knew I wanted a large closet, and I wanted the shelves to be white lacquer, because it allows the colors of the clothes to dominate the room. There was one day–it was when the house was still under construction–the closet was one of the first rooms to be almost done. Maybe that’s because I knew exactly what I wanted it to be. I sold the gym equipment that was in it and redesigned it immediately. So one day, we were walking the children in to choose their bedrooms, and Babak walked into this closet, and he shouted, ‘This is mine.'”





About the author:



Abdi Nazemian is the screenwriter of The Quiet, Celeste in the City, Beautiful Girls, and the short film Revolution, which he also directed. He is an alumnus of the Sundance Writer’s Lab, a mentor at the Outfest Screenwriter’s Lab, and has taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension. He lives in Los Angeles with his two children and his dog, Hedy Lamarr. The Walk-In Closet is his first novel. 






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Book 195: CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP Review



Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick
ISBN: 9780451465856 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781101635971 (ebook)
ASIN: B00FX7R6CA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: NAL Trade (Penguin Group)


Welcome to Black Dog Bay, a tiny seaside town in Delaware known as “the best place in America to bounce back from your breakup.” Home to Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, the Eat Your Heart Out bakery, and the Whinery bar, Black Dog Bay offers a haven for the suddenly single.

Flight attendant Summer Benson lives by two rules: Don’t stay with the same man for too long and never stay in one place. She’s about to break rule number one by considering accepting her boyfriend’s proposal—then disaster strikes and her world is shattered in an instant.

Summer heads to Black Dog Bay, where the locals welcome her. Even Hattie Huntington, the town’s oldest, richest, and meanest resident, likes her enough to give her a job. Then there’s Dutch Jansen, the rugged, stoic mayor, who’s the opposite of her type. She probably shouldn’t be kissing him. She definitely shouldn’t be falling in love.

After a lifetime of globe-trotting, Summer has finally found a home. But Hattie has old scores to settle and a hidden agenda for her newest employee. Summer finds herself faced with an impossible choice: Leave Black Dog Bay behind forever, or stay with the ones she loves and cost them everything…


What do you do after a near-death experience and an almost engagement quickly followed by a breakup a few days later while you’re recuperating in a hospital? If you’re Summer Benson you head for Black Dog Bay, Delaware, reported breakup capital of America. This is a place where you can wallow in your grief at the Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, drown your sorrows at the Whinery Bar, or eat as many sweet and chocolate confectionaries to soothe your soul at the Eat Your Heart Out Bakery. You can even shop til you drop at Retail Therapy where clothing is actually divided into categories suitable for your breakup/grief stage.

All her life Summer has been a love-’em-and-leave-’em party girl. Now that she’s been dumped by her almost fiancé after a near-death experience in a plane crash, she’s somewhat lost. She doesn’t know what she really wants and refuses to allow her stepsister, Emily, to “help” her recover, even if it might mean a date with Ryan Gosling (I know…she’s obviously in need of professional help). The last thing she needs is to become emotionally involved with anyone, especially not with the townsfolk of Black Dog Bay, the town’s mayor Dutch Jansen, or the mentor to Dutch’s teenage sister, Ingrid. Unfortunately that is exactly what she does and it all starts with her taking on one of the most notorious summer people in the town and then following it up by taking on the town bully, Hattie Huntington.

Cure for the Common Breakup was a fast and hilarious read. Seriously, I’m talking laugh-out-loud funny due to some of Summer’s antics not to mention her conversations with Hattie Huntington. This is more than just a love story, even though there is quite a bit of romance. Summer recovers from her breakup only to realize that she wants to put down roots, and that she cares more for the people of Black Dog Bay than she ever dreamed. She allows herself to be emotionally blackmailed by Miss Huntington and what ensues are those laugh-out-loud confrontational conversations, steamy romance scenes between Summer and Dutch, and Summer’s ability to put the cares and needs of others before herself. Who knew being an airline steward could have so many practical applications? I loved all of the characters in this story, from the emotionally stunted and comical Summer, to the striving to be perfect teen Ingrid, and even the elderly and bitter Hattie. Ms. Kendrick has crafted an amazingly fast read that pulled me in with the comedy and drama of Summer Benson’s life. You’ll definitely want to add Cure for the Common Breakup to your summer reading schedule, but be warned that your laughter may elicit a lot of unwanted attention. (This was the first book I’ve read by Ms. Kendrick and it certainly won’t be my last. I’m going to be reading as many of her previous books as possible over the next few months.)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from BookSparks as part of the Summer Reading Challenge via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 184: LOVE AND OTHER FOREIGN WORDS Review



Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
ISBN: 9780803740518 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781101625972 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00G3L13BU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin Group)


Can anyone be truly herself–or truly in love–in a language that’s not her own?

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue–the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn’t always like, and the best friend who hasn’t said a word–at least not in a language Josie understands.


Being a teenager is difficult. Being a gifted teenager that attends college and high school makes things more difficult. Being a gifted teenager that will graduate at age sixteen with a host of quirks or idiosyncrasies just makes you weird. Josie is just that teenager. Just when she feels as if she has a handle on teen-life and college life, her sister Kate turns her world upside down by getting engaged to a guy that Josie detests. Why can’t anyone else see that Geoff is the wrong man for Kate? Why can’t anyone see that Kate is being insufferable to Josie as she plans for her wedding? Why can’t things just stay the same?

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I began reading Love and Other Foreign Words. I’ve got to say that it took a while for me to warm up to the book. Just when I was ready to put it aside as a “could-not-finish” read I began to smile at the conversations between Kate, Josie, Geoff and others. When I thought it couldn’t possibly get any better than a random smile, I began to laugh (yes, out loud) at Josie’s antics to end her sister’s engagement. Josie isn’t a spoiled teenager, she is just a girl that thinks she knows her sister best and she only wants the very best for her and she’s sure that isn’t Geoff. What’s worse is that she feels as if Geoff is coming between her and Kate, and she knows that Kate is one of the few people that truly understand and accept her for whom she is not what she should be.

There are times when Josie is a typically obnoxious and overly dramatic teenager, but then there are those times when she reveals she is so much more than that. A perfect example is the fact that she can be just as comfortable with her elderly widowed neighbor, Mrs. Easterday as she is with her best friends, Stu and Sophie Wagemaker (also her neighbors). Josie is just as flawed as she is lovable and that makes her the typical teenager, even if she can’t see it. Did I enjoy reading Love and Other Foreign Words? Yes! Although Ms. McCahan presents the story with characters that are dealing with the typical teenage angst and drama, it is also a story about family, love, and acceptance. If you are a teenager (or have to deal with teenagers or simply because you used to be a teenager), then you’ll want to read Love and Other Foreign Words. It is a fast and delightful read, perfect for a bit of spring (or summer) reading.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from BookSparks as part of the Summer Reading Challenge via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book 108: THE REPEAT YEAR Review

The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen
ISBN:  9780425263136 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781101598849 (ebook)
ASIN:  B0095ZQ0V4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Berkley


Everyone has days, weeks, even months they wish they could do over—but what about an entire year? After living through the worst twelve months of her life, intensive care nurse Olive Watson is given a second chance to relive her past and attempt to discover where she went wrong… 

After a year of hardships, including a messy breakup with her longtime boyfriend Phil, the prospect of her mother’s remarriage, and heartbreaking patient losses at the hospital, Olive is ready to start fresh. But when she wakes up in her ex-boyfriend’s bed on New Year’s Day 2011—a day she has already lived—Olive’s world is turned upside down. Shouldering a year of memories that no one else can recall, even Olive begins to question herself—until she discovers that she is not alone. Upon crossing paths with Sherry Witan, an experienced “repeater,” Olive learns that she has the chance to rewrite her future. Given the opportunity of a lifetime, Olive has to decide what she really wants. Should she make different choices, or accept her life as she knows it, flaws and all?



Life normally doesn’t come with “do-overs” or second chances, but Olive Watson and Sherry Witan are given the opportunity to relive one year, 2011. Will they be able to make the most of this second chance or will they make the same mistakes all over again in The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen.

Olive Watson is a young twenty-something. She’s relatively debt-free, has a well-paying job as a nurse in the intensive care unit at a local hospital. She has close friends, a loving boyfriend, and is close to her mother and brother. Olive has been dating Phil for almost four years, but a series of incidents led to a separation then breakup. This was followed by her mother’s engagement announcement and remarriage, which Olive doesn’t take very well since it’s only been a few short years after her father’s death. Olive goes to bed on New Year’s Eve 2011 in what was admittedly the worst year of her life after the year her father died. She expects to awaken on January 1, 2012 but awakens to January 1, 2011. At first she thinks she’s crazy and just experiencing a weird deja vu moment, but she quickly learns that she is repeating 2011 . . . her nightmare year. Fortunately, there’s someone to provide her with a little guidance, her mother’s friend – Sherry Witan. Sherry tells Olive that she isn’t quite sure why these repeat years or second chances are offered, but she’s being given an opportunity to change the mistakes of the past and hopefully move forward to a better year.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading The Repeat Year. At first I thought it was going to be like the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, but this isn’t repeating the same day over-and-over to get it right. Olive is forced to relive an entire year and hopefully make better choices. After I overcame my preconceived notions of what to expect, I actually enjoyed The Repeat Year. Olive and Sherry aren’t perfect women. They are simply people that have made mistakes, some large, some small, and some life-changing. But unlike most of us, they’ve been allowed the opportunity to correct those mistakes, stop being judgmental (of themselves more so than anyone else) and to accept life and love with all of the inherent flaws. I found The Repeat Year to be a fast-paced read about self-discovery, acceptance, and tolerance. The characters were well developed and quite realistic. If you want a great read for a lazy afternoon, then I suggest The Repeat Year. Ms. Lochen has provided a story that offers a little bit of romance, a little bit of humor, some soul searching, and some family drama in an entertaining package.


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I read The Repeat Year as part of the Book Sparks PR 2013 Summer Reading Road Trip. If you’d like to follow along, please visit Book Sparks PR here. Next stop is The Love Wars by Allison Heller.
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