Tag Archives: Romance

Book Buzz: It Ends With Us

I am a person who needs a book handy at all times. Hence, you will find one not just next to my bed, but also in the bathroom, in the side pocket of my car, and on the kitchen counter.

Audible has enabled this quirk of mine by offering hundreds of audiobook titles that I can listen to anywhere. This is especially nice when I’m in the car or out for a daily walk. I can get so wrapped up in a good tale that those 10,000 steps seem much less arduous.

The buzz over author Colleen Hoover’s latest novel, It Ends With Us, had intrigued me, so I eagerly downloaded it from Audible.

Romance, yes, But so much more. A complex story that takes on a harrowing subject with frankness and emotional depth, It Ends With Us is a novel that left me breathless even before getting winded by step #5849.

Book Buzz: It Ends With Us

Listening to It Ends With Us on Audible, I found my emotions running the gamut, and because I was moved from highs to lows over and over again, I may have unleashed a few expletives on my neighborhood jaunts. Hopefully I was out of earshot of the neighbors.

The narration bounces from 15 year-old Lily reading entries from her diary to the present day Lily. The younger Lily writes mostly about her relationship with Atlas, a boy from her school, and the older Lily brings us up to date 10 years later.

It Ends With Us

Adult Lily meets hunky Ryle in the most romantic of ways: on the roof deck of a Boston apartment building late one night, each one seeking an escape, with the stars and lights of the city twinkling above.

Lily, distraught after failing to deliver an appropriate eulogy at her father’s funeral that day, needs a refuge where she can be alone with her thoughts. Ryle, a brash neurosurgeon, has come up for air as well. At first she is annoyed that her space has been invaded, but as they strike up a conversation she starts to feel a spark. It lasts just a moment, and they go their separate ways.

My reaction: Meh. He sounded dreamy at first, but way too aggressive for my taste. If a man was that coarse with me I would be outta there. You’re well rid of him, Lily.

Some time later they run into each other and although Ryle has steadfastly opposed getting into a romantic relationship, he falls in love with Lily. Initially wary herself, Lily is deliriously happy.

My reaction: Dismay. Lily, this guy may be cute, but his quirks make me shudder. Like taking your pulse during sex to see how high your heartbeat will get? Gross.

Without giving the plot away, let’s just say that eventually Lily finds out in the most shocking of ways that there is another side to Ryle that rocks her physically and emotionally.

My reaction: Horror. Lily, girl, get away from that creep!

Out to dinner one night, Lily and Ryle run into Atlas, Lily’s boyfriend from long ago. Although she is in love with Ryle, Lily realizes that she still cares for Atlas as someone who once was so important to he.

Atlas can read Ryle like a book, and out of concern for Lily he wants to intercede, wants to tell her how this guy is wrong for her, but holds back.

Thus begins Lily’s personal struggle to justify being with a man whose behavior is reminiscent of her own father, the father whom she was unable to properly eulogize at his funeral. Her own experiences have taught her one thing, but now in the moment herself, she is vacillating between her love for Ryle and her own self-respect and survival.

This is a portrait of what happens in too many homes behind closed doors. The shame of the victim often shields the perpetrator from scrutiny until it is too late. As observers, we can be judgmental or sanctimonious, but we can’t truly understand the anguish of this situation unless we walk in the victim’s shoes.

Reading It Ends With Us will put you there. After the final sentence, which gave me goosebumps the author revealed what prompted her to write this story.

My reaction: Wow. Read this book!

Have you tried Audible? Go to Audible’s free trial site and you will have a month to listen to as many titles as you like.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

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Book Buzz: The Light We Lost

Book Buzz: The Light We Lost

Always in search of a great read, I love getting recommendations from other bookaholics.

“You must read The Light We Lost,” insisted several of my bookie friends. “You won’t be able to put it down.”

They were right. I was swept up in the romance and emotion of Jill Santopolo’s The Light We Lost from the get go, and if you love page turners, this is certainly one.

Book Buzz: The Light We Lost

The Light We Lost might inspire you to ponder your own life decisions. Were they made based on love, on instinct, or on practicality?

The Light We Lost

The novel, set in New York City, begins with the tragedy of 9/11. Columbia University students Lucy and Gabe are in their Shakespeare class when the word comes in about the twin towers attack. Although they are virtually strangers, they find comfort in an embrace. For just a few moments they cling to each other, gathering strength while reflecting on the fragility of life.  They are surprised by the electricity in that embrace, but separate and move on with their lives.

They don’t realize it yet, but they have found their soul mates that day. They also will someday learn that the darkness of that tragic event was a harbinger of the pain and regret to come in their own lives.

A year after graduation Lucy and Gabe run into each other in a bar and that spark is still there, and this time the stars are aligned for them. They fall deeply in love, passionate about each other, and certain that their destiny is to be together. But they are also passionate about their careers. Gabe aspires to be a photojournalist in dangerous areas of the world, to capture the political turmoil and struggles of war-torn countries.   Lucy is equally driven in her position as a television producer and won’t give it up. These circumstances force them to make an anguished decision to part ways.

And then, life goes on. The next 13 years bring marriage and children for Lucy, and worldwide professional recognition for Gabe. Lucy loves her husband, Darren, but jealousy, heartbreak, and unfulfilled dreams consume her each time she thinks about Gabe. As for Gabe, he also struggles with the despair of giving up the woman he truly loved. Ultimately, Gabe and Lucy are forced to confront their true feelings for each other.

This is a dramatic story of love found and lost and found again, and I can attest to tearing up at the end. I will say that the three characters sometimes acted in ways that were self-centered, and that was a bit of a distraction for me. However, I still recommend the book, and fans of JoJo Moyes in particular will enjoy it.

Narrated in the second person (Lucy addresses Gabe throughout), The Light We Lost will remind you of the powerful and lasting effects of first love.

 

I am partnering with Putnam to give away a copy of The Light We Lost. Please leave a comment and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.

 

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Book Buzz: Jonathan Unleashed

I have a soft spot in my heart for books about dogs, so I eagerly dove into Jonathan Unleashed, best-selling author Meg Rosoff’s quirky new novel about a young man at odds with the world and the two dogs that help him find his way to happiness.

Jonathan Unleashed is also Jonathan Unhinged

Recent college graduate Jonathan Trefoil is ensconced in an advertising job that he hates and stuck in an unsatisfying relationship with his girlfriend of four years. He yearns for a more meaningful existence but has no idea how he can get there.

Book Buzz: Jonathan Unleashed

In the midst of this millennial angst, he agrees to take care of his brother’s two dogs, Dante the Border collie and Sissy the cocker spaniel, while his brother is in Dubai on business for six months.

Being a sensitive and, I’ll be honest here, neurotic kind of guy (or more kindly, charmingly flawed), he frets that the dogs are plotting against him because they are unhappy being cooped up in his New York City apartment while he is at work. Although the veterinarian he consults gently tells him that the dogs are fine, he continues to obsess. But, good news, his company allows him to bring the dogs to the office, and all is well.

But then, not.

It turns out that four is a crowd when his girlfriend moves in with him and can barely contain her disdain for the dogs. A conniving sort, she convinces him to marry her because the wedding magazine she works for, Bridal-360, will foot the bill if they agree to let it be live streamed on the internet. Confused and unsure, but anxious to mollify her, he agrees.

As the wedding date approaches, his life continues to unravel. His job and his boss irritate him to the point of collapse. Mysteriously, he loses his ability to speak coherently (the ensuing malapropisms are very entertaining).

Who, or what, will save the day? As all dog lovers know, canine intuition is second to none, and Dante and Sissy take matters into their own hands paws. With a clever twist in the story, Rosoff shows how man’s (and women’s) best friend has an uncanny way of making everything right.

As Rosoff said in an interview,

“It’s much easier to have a relationship with a dog than with a person. Dogs tend to be happy, affectionate, emotionally consistent companions. They don’t sulk or insist on seeing Spiderman when you’d rather see a foreign film.  They don’t come with in-laws and don’t mind eating toast you’ve dropped on the floor. It’s why every eight-year-old boy fantasizes about having a dog not a wife. Dogs are relatively simple, people are relatively complicated. Plus, dogs look better naked than most people do.”

A woof and a tail wag to that.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Jonathan Unleashed by leaving a comment below. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of Jonathan Unleashed from Viking for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

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Book Buzz: The Dress Shop of Dreams

Christmas lights are still twinkling in my neighborhood as I’m sure they are in yours. Today, New Year’s Eve, the merriment of the holiday season is still upon us. And until next Monday when it is back to reality, we can enjoy what is left of this special time of year.

Understandably, the holidays are not merry for everyone. But if the whimsy of sugar plum fairy dust and the ho ho hos of jolly St. Nick can still cast a magical spell on you, I suggest that now is the time pick up a copy of the fanciful new book from Menna van Praag, “The Dress Shop of Dreams.”

The Dress Shop of Dreams

This romantic fairy tale, embellished with sparkly sequins and a ruffle of bewitching fun, whisks us into the lives of characters who are either falling in love, searching for love, or thwarted by it.

The Dress Shop of Dreams

The story takes place in Oxfordshire, England and is about a young woman named Cora Sparks, a serious and emotionless scientist intent on completing the scientific work begun by her parents 20 years earlier. Her parents never got to finish the work themselves; tragically, they died in a mysterious fire in their home from which Cora narrowly escaped. Cora’s grandmother, Etta, has been the parent figure in her life since then.

Etta is the owner of a charming little dress shop on a side street in Cambridge, in which mysteriously wonderful things seems to happen. Filled with colorful fabrics of delicate silks, ornate lace and rich velvets, the store bespeaks enchantment in these racks of dazzlingly beautiful dresses.

When a woman enters the shop and tries on one of these gossamer gowns, she is instantly transformed. She looks in the mirror and as if by magic, the imperfections are gone. She is delighted with her appearance. When Etta unobtrusively sews into the garment a few tiny stitches of her red thread, it is akin to waving a magic wand: the article of clothing will unleash the wearer’s most fervent desire.

This is what Etta intends to do for her beloved granddaughter, Cora.

At the time that Cora’s parents died, Etta had carefully put a spell on her granddaughter to protect her from the crushing sadness of losing them. By doing so, she also hampered the girl’s ability to experience emotions and feel love. Now that enough time has passed, Etta thinks, Cora is ready for romance. And she knows just who Cora’s intended should be: Cora’s childhood friend, Walt, who has been in love with her forever, unbeknownst to her.

When Etta removes the spell, Cora’s emotions are reawakened. At the same time, she experiences a surge of interest in the fire that took her parents’ lives. What was ruled an accident seems more like a murder, and she is determined to find out.

Doggedly pursuing a trail long left cold, Cora searches for answers about her past and ultimately finds what she needs to move on with her life.

Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street which I reviewed and enjoyed, pulls the threads of her characters’ lives together in this confection as sweet as a Christmas cookie, with a bit of mystery, a bit of romance and a bit of fun, with a nod to the magic of fashion that women of any age can appreciate.

And to start this New Year right, I am pleased to give one of my lucky readers a copy of “The Dress Shop of Dreams.” Please leave a comment (US addresses only, sorry) and a winner will be randomly selected.

Disclosure: I received a copy of “The Dress Shop of Dreams” from Random House for an honest review. No other compensation was received.

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How I Met My Husband

On a wintry January day almost 31 years ago, Destiny opened the door, beckoned, and twirled me onto the dance floor with the man of my dreams.

I was clearing my desk at the end of the work day when the crackle of a radio broadcast caught my attention. I walked outside my office and saw our secretary, Mary, listening closely. This was before  the Internet, mind you, when we didn’t know what was happening every minute.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Mary, the clucking grandmother type, looked worried. “It’s bad out there,” she said. “Already eight inches of snow, and everything is covered with ice. Accidents everywhere. You didn’t drive, did you?”

Why I didn’t take the train that day, I don’t remember. My car was in a lot several blocks away, and I had a long ride home.

The rush of cold air made me gasp as I exited the building, and I paused under the overhanging eave to assess the conditions. About a dozen pedestrians huddled together seeking protection from the pelting snow and ice.

“I heard they closed the expressway in both directions,” said one.

“Traffic is supposedly at a standstill,” said another.

“The roads are a sheet of ice,” chimed in a third. “I almost killed myself trying to cross the street.”

I half listened, half tried to work out my escape plan. A little voice was telling me something. But that little voice was deeper than mine. I turned to find a total stranger trying to get my attention.

“Do you have far to go?” he asked.

I told him about my car being a few blocks away, and my typical 40 minute drive out to the suburbs. I asked about him.

“I live in West Philly, but when I saw it was snowing I thought I’d take the subway down to Third Street Jazz to check out some new music.”

Is he crazy? I wondered. Who would do that in this kind of weather?

I would soon find out that yes, Pete would do that. And that’s who it was. Pete. My future husband.

With the snow falling all around us, we continued talking. I started to like this funny and good looking guy.  When he asked if I wanted to grab a cup of coffee at the Chock Full o’ Nuts across the street, I agreed, and we spent the next hour sharing stories of our lives while the storm raged outside. Turns out we were the same age. We both loved books and sports and worked in the city. I recently got my MBA; he was applying to law school.

We looked out the window. The street wasn’t as crowded, but the storm raged on. For a moment we sat in silence. Is it going to end this way? I wondered. Will I see him again?

He glanced at his watch.  “There’s a great restaurant a couple of blocks from here, Warsaw Cafe. Can you stay?”

I hesitated. What are you thinking?? I silently admonished myself. Are you kidding? He’s a perfect stranger! How do you know he isn’t a smooth talking serial killer? I am horrified at your lack of common sense. Tell him no. Right now.

“I’d love to,” I said.

The restaurant was warm and intimate. Over candlelight I told him about a book I had read that he might enjoy, The White Hotel. He asked if I liked Big Five basketball at the Palestra. We compared notes on our favorite players.

As we left the restaurant, the snow was falling softly. He walked me to my car and waited while I unlocked the door.

The snow swirled and danced around us. I fleetingly thought of reaching up to  brush away the snowflakes on his hair. I wanted to. But I didn’t.

We exchanged phone numbers and said our goodbyes, and he disappeared around the corner.  As I slowly made my way home, I relived every moment of this magical evening. He could be my soul mate, I thought. Will I ever see him again?

wedding. marriage, toast, champagne, bridal gown, flowers

mePetedunkshore

 

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