5 books I’m going to read by the end of summer

By this time next week, I will be in my dear-old hometown of Philadelphia, most likely sweating profusely and wondering why I left the not-very-humid, mild Stockholm behind. But I need my annual dose of America. I never travel without my Kindle, and I’ve already begun stocking it with books that I’m itching to read. So what’s on my list?

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I’ve heard a lot of good things about In Black & White by Catherine Lavender, so I’ve already 1-clicked it for my Kindle. 

Micah Winters always knew that she was different. It was the pigment of her skin and the texture of her hair that revealed that she was a woman from biracial parents. For five decades, Micah’s African American mother has remained silent about Micah’s estranged father (Sidney Irving). It is not until after Sidney Irving’s death that Micah learns that she is the daughter of the legendary novelist and screenwriter. Now with her mother’s memory fading away from Alzheimer’s disease, Micah can only rely on a novel that was written from her father years ago to understand her parents’ past during the time of segregation in the United States. Micah’s once simple life is not so simple anymore as she tries to make sense of an unfamiliar world as she inherits her father’s wealth and private past. With an abandoned heart, Micah must forgive the past in order to discover who she really is.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 23.45.14I’ve been a fan of Kathleen Tessaro since I read her debut novel, Innocence. Her latest novel, Rare Objects, sounds like the perfect read for a historical fiction fan like me. It’s set in Depression-era Boston centers around an unlikely friendship  and a secret. I’m already hooked. 🙂

Maeve Fanning is a first generation Irish immigrant, born and raised among the poor, industrious Italian families of Boston’s North End by her widowed mother. Clever, capable, and as headstrong as her red hair suggests, she’s determined to better herself despite the overwhelming hardships of the Great Depression.

However, Maeve also has a dangerous fondness for strange men and bootleg gin—a rebellious appetite that soon finds her spiraling downward, leading a double life. When the strain proves too much, Maeve becomes an unwilling patient in a psychiatric hospital, where she strikes up a friendship with an enigmatic young woman, who, like Maeve, is unable or unwilling to control her un-lady-like desire for freedom.

Once out, Maeve faces starting over again. Armed with a bottle of bleach and a few white lies, she lands a job at an eccentric antiques shop catering to Boston’s wealthiest and most peculiar collectors. Run by an elusive English archeologist, the shop is a haven of the obscure and incredible, providing rare artifacts as well as unique access to the world of America’s social elite. While delivering a purchase to the wealthy Van der Laar family, Maeve is introduced to beautiful socialite Diana Van der Laar—only to discover she’s the young woman from the hospital.

Reunited with the charming but increasingly unstable Diana and pursued by her attractive brother James, Mae becomes more and more entwined with the Van der Laar family—a connection that pulls her into a world of moral ambiguity and deceit, and ultimately betrayal. Bewitched by their wealth and desperate to leave her past behind, Maeve is forced to unearth her true values and discover how far she’ll to go to reinvent herself.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 00.01.08I love Dorothy Koomson’s novels and I 1-clicked her latest, When I Was InvisibleWhen I Was Invisible, a few weeks ago. I haven’t started reading it yet, but it’s probably going to be one of my Philly reads.

‘Do you ever wonder if you’ve lived the life you were meant to?’ I ask her.

She sighs, and dips her head. ‘Even if I do, what difference will it make?’

In 1988, two eight-year-old girls with almost identical names and the same love of ballet meet for the first time. They seem destined to be best friends forever and to become professional dancers. Years later, however, they have both been dealt so many cruel blows that they walk away from each other into very different futures – one enters a convent, the other becomes a minor celebrity. Will these new, ‘invisible’ lives be the ones they were meant to live, or will they only find that kind of salvation when they are reunited twenty years later?

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 00.17.07Rowan Coleman‘s We Are All Made of Stars sounds like the sort of book that will make me weepy (which I love!), so I’ve 1-clicked it! Rowan is also known as Scarlett Bailey (who has written some of my absolute favourite Christmas novels). Looking forward to diving into this decidedly non-Christmasy book! 🙂

A dedicated nurse, Stella finds comfort at the hospice where she works the late shift, especially since her husband returned from Afghanistan—cold, distant, and shattered by painful memories he refuses to share. The hospice at night is another world, where the dying receive closure by creating the letters that Stella helps them write. The pages are filled with love and humor, sometimes regret, and, occasionally, even instructions for a perplexed husband on how to run appliances. There’s one rule: The letters are mailed only after the patient has passed.

Suddenly Stella is faced with a dilemma: A woman under her care, Grace, has written a confession to the son she abandoned many years before. The letter clearly needs to be read before Grace dies. But if Stella mails it now, she breaks the rule—and risks tampering not only with Grace’s wishes but also with fate.

Navigating passion and grief, loyalty and loss, and a marriage threatened by silence and secrets, Stella discovers that letters hold a special power: granting solace, saving memories, nurturing relationships. As the words endure, love redeems.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 00.30.23Finally, I still haven’t had a chance to read Pulling Doubles by Christina C. Jones, so I need to remedy this before the end of the summer.

All Devyn wants – besides a tall, fine husband and eventually a few babies to fulfill her “about to turn thirty, running out of time, cute black family” dreams – is to finish her yearlong internship at University Hospital. She’s excited about the experience, eager to learn, glad to help wherever she can… it should be easy, right?

Well, it would be… if it weren’t for arrogant, know-it-all, always-got-something-to-say Dr. Joseph Wright. Devyn can’t stand him, and if his attitude is any indication, the feeling is mutual… or is it?

Joseph doesn’t “do” doctors. Or nurses. Or patients. Or anybody else who has anything to do with the hospital, for that matter. University Hospital has infiltrated enough of his life, and the last thing he needs is a blurring of the lines between professional and private.

… until smart, sexy, sassy Nurse Devyn Echols comes along, and stomps all over those lines.

When you’re pulling doubles with the person you hate to want so bad… something is bound to ignite.

That’s it for me today! Next week, I’ll be writing to you from Philadelphia and I’ll be sure to share with you my bookstore finds!  

Which books have you 1-clicked this summer? Share your recommendations in the comments and one lucky commenter will win a $10 Amazon gift card. Hurry! I’ll be choosing + announcing the winner on Monday, July 18th. 

 

 

My 10 fave books of 2015 and 5 I’m anxiously awaiting in 2016

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Heaven is a stack of good books! And a glass of wine!

 

Some people get excited about new handbags or shoes or guys with tattoos. I am such a book nerd. I get more excited about books. Though if you give me a hottie lumbersexual reading Garcia Marquez or some novel that I am also reading, well, I might get excited about that.

Anyway, I read a little over 50 books in 2015, so I thought I’d share with you ten of them that resonated with me.

  1. Haunted by Christina C. Jones
  2. Addicted Allison by Noelle Black
  3. Kilted for Pleasure by Melissa Blue
  4. Maldeamores by Mara White
  5. Love Is by Tia Kelly
  6. Falling Stars by Xio Axelrod
  7. Ivy’s League by Nia Forrester
  8. Coming Down by Carrie Elks
  9. Brunch at Ruby’s by D.L. White
  10. In the Nothing by Nia Forrester
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Yes, I am just as excited as this little cutie! Photo credit: forharriet.com

And which titles am I anxiously awaiting? You know there are more than five I can’t wait to read, but these are five that I am super excited about. 🙂

  1. Starlight by Xio Axelrod
  2. When I Was Invisible by Dorothy Koomson
  3. City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
  4. Lily in the Middle by Nina Perez
  5. Getting Schooled by Christina C. Jones

So tell me: which titles are you anxiously awaiting in 2016? And which were your favorites of 2015?

What I Read When I Read About Love

Our Valentine's Day at the Avenue Hotel. Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

I know, I am a few days late–but I was in Copenhagen celebrating Valentine’s Day with my gorgeous hubby. I won a Valentine’s Day stay at Avenue Hotel, a design boutique hotel in Copenhagen’s Fredriksberg district. The stay included a cozy tower room at the hotel (breakfast included), champagne, pastries from Strangas Dessert Boutique and an amazing dinner at Höst. Needless to say, inspiration came to me while I was there and there will definitely be a a follow-up to Maybe Baby.

But while I was there, I starting thinking about which books would be on my Books About Love 2014 list–if I had one.

 

Sex in the Title CoverSex in the Title by Zack Love – a satirical rom-com set in New York City in the 1990s that revolves around the romantic adventures (and misadventures) of five guys who think they are going to conquer the world. Since it’s set in the 90s, the New York we find is pre-smart phone, the Twin Towers are still standing and there’s a wonderful air of nostalgia (perfect for someone like me who was a teenager in the 1980s and in college and grad school in the 1990s). Contrary to the title, the book is not all about sex. It’s more about the pie in the sky ambitions and goals we set for ourselves when we’re young and naive and what happens when we are finally faced with reality. Now, how can this be a rom-com then? Well, Zack Love interweaves the tales of five friends and their pursuit of love. Yes, there are foibles, nothing is perfect–even the people who almost seem too perfect are just as flawed as you want them to be. This is a book with so many laugh-out-loud moments as you are reminded of your own romantic foibles and dreams of youth. Bravo, Zack!

 

cover-jod-webcover-joy-webJust One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman – Wonderful books about Allyson and Willem, who meet by chance in the UK during an open-air performance of Shakespeare and what happens when Willem convinces Allyson to do something unexpected–go to Paris with him even if it’s just for one day. What happens during that day and, in the next book, as they try to reconnect, is amazing. If you liked Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, you’ll love these books.

 

Is Marriage coverIs Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriae Decline Affects Everyone by Ralph Richard Banks – The title alone is enough to stop you in your tracks but there is more to this book than meets the eye. It is an interesting study of love and marriage within the African-American community and how antiquated ideas of the black woman’s place in society had led to a decline in marriage within the community and the implications it has on US society. Banks questions why it is considered acceptable for African-American men to marry outside of their race while the same is not always true for African-American women. He also examines the mixed messages sent to young men and women by the media, their families, the church, etc about their place in society. So why do I consider it a book about love? Because quite a bit of the book examines why African-American women may maintain friendships or be attracted to men of other races but will not, or are reluctant to, pursue relationships with these men. Since I write a lot about interracial relationships, I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that social pressure can prevent someone from seeking love.

 

The-FLAVOURS-OF-LOVE-HB-654x1024The Flavors of Love by Dorothy Koomson – Dorothy Koomson has always said that what she writes is heart fiction–not simply women’s fiction. Her books are always about love and the choices we make because of love. This book is more suspense than romance–the story revolves around Saffron Mackleroy, a widow whose husband was murdered eighteen months prior to the start of the novel. On the outside, Saffron looks like she’s coping well with her situation–she’s even decided to finish writing the cookbook her husband was working on. But then her fourteen-year-old daughter Phoebe gets in trouble at school and confesses to something that begins to tear apart the semblance of normalcy Saffron is trying to maintain. And then the person convicted of killing Saffron’s husband begins sending her letters and claiming to be innocent. It’s easy to get hooked by The Flavors of Love. I know I did! Another great one, Dorothy! Can’t wait for your next book. 🙂

That’s it for now! What books would you put on your Books About Love list?

Reading The Woman He Loved Before…

This is one of those days when I have an annoying sinus headache, so this post won’t be very long.  Anyway, last week, I discovered that Dorothy Koomson‘s latest novel, The Woman He Loved Before, was finally out. I ordered it from Bokus.com and received it on Wednesday. I was still reading another book so I had to wait to dive into this one. I started reading it yesterday and I am hooked.

Dorothy’s two most recent books (The Ice Cream Girls and The Woman He Loved Before) are much darker in theme than her previous novels (Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run, just to name a few) but her trademark touch for capturing the essence of what makes us love and what prevents us from giving ourselves to others is still there. The Woman He Loved Before starts with a car crash. Libby nearly dies in the crash and her husband Jack feels guilty because the passenger airbag was faulty and he hadn’t taken the time to have it repaired. Sounds innocent enough, right? But then a police detective gets involved and puts doubts in Libby’s head–was it really an accident? And there’s the little matter of the unexplained death of Jack’s first wife, Eve.

I won’t tell you more, I’ll just say you should read it. I am already halfway through the book and I’m about to return to it now. So, Dorothy, two thumbs up from me! The Woman He Loved Before is my kind of book…