Blaise’s March Recommendation

The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

hypnotistBlaise says:  “My recommendation for March is The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty.  If you enjoyed Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret, then don’t miss this one by Moriarty.

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3 Similar Reads

The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans – “His name is Connor Ford and he falls like an angel of mercy from the sky, braving the flames to save the woman he loves but knows he cannot have.  For Julia Bishop is the partner of his closest friend, Ed Tully, an ambitious young musician.  Julia loves them both but the tragedy on Snake Mountain forces her to choose between them and burns a brand on all their hearts.” – Summary from book jacket

A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon – “Forging an intense friendship in their senior year at Harvard, Ed, a Jewish, girl-crazy scholarship student; and Hugh, a Boston Brahmin who dedicatedly pines for the one who got away; abruptly and mysteriously go their separate ways years later and pursue very different lives that are shaped by their past bond.” – Summary from catalog

My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman – “In the late 1970s, Frederica Hatch is the enchantingly outspoken daughter of brilliant college professors at a minor all-girls college in Massachusetts. Her temperate, mildly eccentric, and lovely parents, also union activists for the faculty of Dewing College, serve as houseparents at one of the dorms, where Frederica has lived her whole life. Wise beyond her years, Frederica takes it in stride when she discovers that her father was married once before and that Laura Lee French, the smashingly solipsistic first wife of Dr. David Hatch, has just been hired as housemother of one of the other dorms.” – Library Journal

Dana’s February Recommendation

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

the girl on the train“Melding the voyeurism of Rear Window with the unreliable narration of Gone Girl (2012), Hawkins delivers a riveting thriller. Rachel commutes to London each day, pretending to go to a job she got sacked from months ago for being drunk. Her ex-husband left her for Megan, and now they have a baby and are living in the home Rachel so lovingly decorated. Almost every day, from the train window, she sees Anna and Scott, who live two doors down from her old home. Rachel vividly imagines Anna and Scott’s perfect life (she calls them the golden couple), giving them elaborate backstories; however, one day she sees Anna kissing a man who is not her husband; the very next day, Anna goes missing. Rachel inserts herself into the investigation with a headlong desperation, keen to find a way to give her life meaning, and what she discovers is surprising on every level. The novel is alternately narrated by three equally unlikable women, and Hawkins very deliberately doles out tantalizing information, but what really gives this novel its compulsive readability is the way she so expertly mines female archetypes: the jealous ex-wife, the smug mistress, the emotionally damaged femme fatale. Hawkins makes voyeurs of her readers as she creates one humiliating scene after another with the women’s near-feral emotions on full display. A wicked thriller, cleverly done. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This may well be the next Gone Girl, with foreign rights sold in 20 countries and film rights optioned to DreamWorks.” – Booklist

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3 Similar Reads

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah

The First Prophet by Key Hooper

Francisca’s February Recommendation

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

beautiful ruinsFrancisca says:  “I just read Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and really enjoyed it.  The language is beautiful and vivid and I loved the juxtaposition of simple Italian life with the glamor of Hollywood.  The story intertwines the lives of several very different individuals over a 50 year period and is a page turner.  It also has a lovely message about life and making the most of what we are given.”

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3 Similar Reads

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – “Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs confront their pasts in this powerful story about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn, and how art and music have the power to redeem.” – Summary from catalog

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby – “Journalist Hornby’s very funny first novel has already hit the best-seller lists in London and with good reason. In a candid, engaging narrative voice, 35-year-old pop-music fanatic Rob, the owner of a vintage record shop who has just broken up with his longtime girlfriend, attempts to ease his misery by giving an account of his top-five most memorable split-ups.” – Booklist (note:  a film adaptation starring John Cusack is also available via the SWAN network)

The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman – “In 1962 the Marx family of liberal Newton, Massachusetts, is politely discouraged from vacationing at a placid Vermont resort by a thinly veiled response to the innocent inquiry about accommodations, stating that the ‘guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles.’ Experiencing her first taste of overt anti-Semitism, 13-year-old Natalie Marx becomes instantly obsessed with the Inn at Lake Devine and the seemingly bigoted family that owns and operates it.” – Booklist

Mary Ann’s November Recommendation

The Red House by Mark Haddon
the red houseThe set-up of Mark Haddon’s brilliant new novel is simple: Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister Angela and her family to join his for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside. Richard has just re-married and inherited a willful stepdaughter in the process; Angela has a feckless husband and three children who sometimes seem alien to her. The stage is set for seven days of resentment and guilt, a staple of family gatherings the world over.But because of Haddon’s extraordinary narrative technique, the stories of these eight people are anything but simple. Told through the alternating viewpoints of each character, The Red House becomes a symphony of long-held grudges, fading dreams and rising hopes, tightly-guarded secrets and illicit desires, all adding up to a portrait of contemporary family life that is bittersweet, comic, and deeply felt. As we come to know each character they become profoundly real to us. We understand them, even as we come to realize they will never fully understand each other, which is the tragicomedy of every family.

The Red House is a literary tour-de-force that illuminates the puzzle of family in a profoundly empathetic manner — a novel sure to entrance the millions of readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. – Publisher Summary

3 Similar Reads
Ask Again Later by Jill Davis
True to Form by Elizabeth Berg
The Position by Meg Wolitzer

Blaise’s July Recommendation

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
a thousand pardons“This is my favorite new novel I’ve read this year.  I’ve realized a common theme about books I love.  They remind me of a friend telling me a great story and that’s how I felt about this novel.  A literary novel, but with a plot, the story follows a family of three, stay at home mom Helen, lawyer husband in crisis Ben, and their 12 year old adopted daughter Sara.” -Blaise
3 Similar Reads
Come Home by Lisa Scottoline
Election by Tom Perrotta
Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Weekly Spotlight on. . . Good Summer Chick-Lit Reads

Do you have a list of good books to read yet for the summer? A good e-book for the plane on the way to summer vacation? A good book while laying out in the sun with some lemonade? That “lazy days of summer” feel often brings the need to read, and sometimes we just like to read something light and fun. That’s where chick-lit comes in.

First of all, what is chick-lit? “Chick” refers to a woman, and “lit” is just an abbreviation of literature. Wikipedia defines chick-lit as “genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.” Chick lit can deal with anything from relationships, to family, to loss, to career, but it always features a female character.  Numerous sources point to the book The Diary of Bridget Jones by Helen Fielding as one of the first chick-lit novels, and this type of book became very popular starting in the 1990’s. 

Well-Known Must Read Chick Lit Novels:

(For those that just need a good place to get started!)

The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Recent and Upcoming Releases:

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella – Release Date: April 23, 2013

wedding night“Kinsella’s latest romantic romp revolves around two sisters with very different notions about love. Impulsive Lottie is expecting her boyfriend, Richard, to propose to her; she’s floored when he instead suggests a vacation using his frequent-flier miles. When Richard balks at the idea of marriage, Lottie breaks up with him. She runs straight into the arms of an old flame, Ben, with whom she spent a magical summer at the age of 18 on the island of Ikonos. Ben is more than ready to rekindle their relationship and walk down the aisle with her. When Lottie’s practical older sister, Fliss, gets wind of her plan to marry Ben, Fliss is determined to stop the nuptials. Ben’s coworker Lorcan seems equally opposed to the wedding, and Fliss thinks they’re set, until Lottie and Ben have a hasty ceremony and jet to Ikonos. Fliss decides she has to sabotage the honeymoon in the hopes of getting Lottie to see that she’s making a huge mistake. There’s plenty of silly fun to be had in this charming comedy of errors.” – Booklist

 All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue – Release date May 21, 2013

all the summer girls“In Philadelphia, good girl Kate is dumped by her fiance the day she learns she is pregnant with his child. In New York City, beautiful stay-at-home mom Vanessa finds herself obsessively searching the Internet for news of an old flame. And in San Francisco, Dani, an aspiring writer who can’t seem to put down a book—or a cocktail—long enough to open her laptop, has just been fired . . . again.

In an effort to regroup, Kate, Vanessa, and Dani retreat to the New Jersey beach town where they once spent their summers. Emboldened by the seductive cadences of the shore, the women begin to realize just how much their lives, and friendships, have been shaped by the choices they made one fateful night on the beach eight years earlier—and the secrets that now threaten to surface.” – Publisher

Wallflower in Bloom: A Novel  by Claire Cook  – Release date: May 21, 2013

wallflower in bloom“Deirdre Griffin has a great life; it’s just not her own. She’s the around-the-clock personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother, Tag. As the family wallflower, her only worth seems to be as gatekeeper to Tag at his New England seaside compound.

Then Deirdre’s sometime boyfriend informs her that he is marrying another woman, who just happens to be having the baby he told Deirdre he never wanted. While drowning her sorrows in Tag’s expensive vodka, Deirdre decides to use his massive online following to get herself voted on as a last-minute Dancing with the Stars replacement. It’ll get her back in shape, mentally and physically. It might even get her a life of her own. Deirdre’s fifteen minutes of fame have begun.” – Publisher

Ladies’ Night by Mary K Andrews – release date: June 4, 2013

ladies' night“When Ben cheats on her, Grace drives his car into the swimming pool. Now she is living above her mother’s Florida bar, the Sandbox, and attending a court-assigned therapy group. But instead of therapy, Grace and the other women end up at “Ladies Night” at the Sandbox, discussing the therapist who seems to have her own problems. Even as Grace finds a little house to fix up, and a man with his own marriage problems, she can’t escape the mess she left behind. Set on Florida’s Gulf Coast, featuring sunsets and walks by the water, Andrews’s latest beach read (after Spring Fever ) will have great appeal for readers who enjoy stories of women rebuilding their lives, with the support of other women. Add in a dog, a sweet little boy, hilarious stories of women getting revenge, and romance, and it’s a vacation escape.” – Library Journal

The Time Between by Karen White – Release Date: June 4th, 2013

the time between“Fourteen years after an accident left her sister Eve paralyzed and herself guilt-ridden, Eleanor Murray struggles to atone–not only for the accident, but also for falling in love with her brother-in-law, Glen. The accident fractured the family, dashing Eve’s future as a beauty pageant contestant. And after their father dies, Eleanor’s dreams of playing piano at Juilliard dissolve. Their mother holds Eleanor responsible for keeping together the family she broke apart. Eve knows she should forgive Eleanor, but she can’t quite let go of her anger. Glen, too, is torn between his commitment to Eve and his attraction to Eleanor. Balancing her work at a law office with caring for her mother, sister and brother-in-law, Eleanor too often finds that neither time nor money will stretch far enough. So she arrives late or leaves early, grateful that her boss, Finn Beaufain–the handsome, gray-eyed, divorced father of an adorable yet fragile daughter–tolerates her erratic schedule. She gets dinner on the table, bathes her sister, placates her arthritic mother and occasionally slips on a slinky red dress to play piano at a local dive, hoping someone might offer her solace in his unfamiliar arms. Finding her at the bar one night, Finn gives her a chance: a chance to recover her lost self and perhaps a chance at love. Finn gives her a job caring for his aunt Helena on Edisto Island, where Eleanor grew up.” – Publisher

Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger – Release date: June 4, 2013

Sequel to Devil Wears Prada

revenge wears prada“Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job “a million girls would die for” working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine–a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a high-end bridal magazine. The Plunge has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish. Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her hearts content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro. Even better, Andy has met the love of her life. Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple. Andy Sachs is on top of the world. But karma’s a bitch. The morning of her wedding, Andy cant shake the past. And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread. Andy realizes that nothing–not her husband, nor her beloved career–is as it seems. She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago–and directly into the path of the devil herself. . .” – Publisher

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand  – Release Date: June 25, 2013

beautiful day“The Carmichaels and the Grahams have gathered on Nantucket for a wedding. Plans are being made according to the wishes of the bride’s late mother, who left behind The Notebook: specific instructions for every detail of her youngest daughter’s future nuptials. Everything should be falling into place for the beautiful event–but in reality, things are far from perfect.

While the couple-to-be are quite happy, their loved ones find their own lives crumbling. In the days leading up to the wedding, love will be questioned, scandals will arise, and hearts will be broken and healed. Elin Hilderbrand takes readers on a touching journey in BEAUTIFUL DAY–into the heart of marriage, what it means to be faithful, and how we choose to honor our commitments.’ – Publisher

Victoria’s April Recommendation

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

girls in white dresses“Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family and new love- all while suffering through endless rounds of weddings and bridal showers.” – (From the inside of the book)

I love this book because it’s written in way that makes the characters and their conversations seem realistic.

3 Similar Reads:

The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel by Helen Fielding

Little Earthquakes: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner