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Perennials by Mandy Berman

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Perennials is author Mandy Berman’s debut novel. I was looking forward to reading this book because I spent seven summers at sleepaway camp as both a camper and a counselor, so I could relate to the subject matter and wanted to see how this (albeit fictional) account compared to my own experiences.

Rachel lives in an apartment in the city with her single mother and Fiona lives in a big house in Westchester with her family. But when they meet at summer camp as girls, they find that they have a lot in common.   Continue reading

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The Lost History of Stars by Dave Boling

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Lost History of Stars is a novel by Dave Boling. I was looking forward to reading this book because it is set in South Africa, just like one of my all-time favorites- The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. Almost immediately, I realized there was a connection between the books: in The Power of One, the English protagonist is severely bullied by Boer boys at his boarding school as punishment for the abuse their grandparents suffered in concentration camps at the hands of the English. The Lost History of Stars is an account of life in those camps as seen by a teenage girl.

Lettie is sent to a concentration camp along with her brother and mother after their farm is burned to the ground by the English. Her father, older brother, grandfather, and uncles are all conducting guerilla operations against the English. Conditions in the camp are bleak, and disease is rampant. Lettie is rather stoic about her experience, and tries to find pleasure in small moments. One of her most treasured possessions is her English dictionary, which she reads for comfort and to pass the time. Continue reading

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Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have been a big fan of Kevin Kwan since his first book, Crazy Rich Asians, which was published in 2013. Needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to read the third installment of the series- Rich People Problems.

As the story resumes, beloved matriarch Sun Yi falls ill, and her large extended family flies in from around the world, although it remains to be seen whether they arrive out of filial obligation or because they hope to inherit Tyersall Park, the family compound. Let’s be honest with each other: it’s mostly the latter.  Continue reading

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The Memory of Us by Camille DiMaio

51-g1gh-lflI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Memory of Us was written by debut author Camille DiMaio. One of the first scenes involves protagonist Julianne visiting her twin brother at the institution that serves as his home. Julianne is not supposed to know that her brother exists; not only is she aware of him, she also makes regular clandestine visits to spend time with him. This defiance of convention and of parental wishes sets the tone for the rest of the book.

It is at Bootle House that Julianne first encounters Kyle McCarthy. Julianne is accustomed to moving in the upper echelons of Liverpool society, and Kyle is completely like any of the other boys that she knows. Not only is he an Irish Catholic, but he also attends a seminary and intends to become a priest. Continue reading

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The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

611eueyzcylI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The Girls in the Garden will be available on June 7th, 2016.

The Girls in the Garden is author Lisa Jewell’s latest book, and begins with the discovery of a young girl in a London park. She has been hurt, and possibly also assaulted. Who could have done this to her?

The plot shifts to “Before” the incident. Sisters Pip and Grace have just moved with their mother Clare to a new home that opens up to a private park. They meet the other families who live in the nearby houses; there are several other children around the same age as the girls, and friendships are formed. Continue reading

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What A Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden

51vlwvocmplI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t read nearly as much historical romance novels as I used to, but this is still a genre that I enjoy.  When I received the opportunity to read Caroline Linden’s What A Gentlemen Wants, I was excited about being able to return to the world of 19th century England and its aristocracy.

Hannah is the widow of the vicar in a small village halfway between London and Brighton.  One day, a gentleman crashes his rig near her house, and because she is a kind and gentle soul, Hannah agrees that David can recuperate at her house.  David is charmed by Hannah’s gentle nature, and asks for her hand in marriage.  At the last minute, he panics at the thought of having to give up his “rake card” and signs his twin brother Marcus’ name in the parish register.

Marcus is a duke, and is livid at his brother’s prank.  Due to circumstances beyond his control, he is unable to send Hannah and her daughter back to their village.  He asks Hannah if she will perpetuate the story that David has spread, and pretend to be his (Marcus’) wife.  Initially, Hannah is not thrilled about having to play the role of duchess, but she realizes that there are certain advantages.  Marcus’ stepmother and stepsister are kind to her, and she enjoys spending time in his house.  Marcus and Hannah do not see each other often, but every time that they do, their connection is becoming harder to deny. Continue reading

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A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger

51hnymrlh8l-_sy346_I received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I am a big fan of mysteries, so when I received the opportunity to read Mark Reutlinger’s A Pain in the Tuchis, I was very excited. This is the second Mrs. Kaplan mystery, featuring a senior citizen sleuth and her intrepid assistant.

Narrator Ida and her friend Rose Kaplan are residents in a Jewish assistant living center. When Vera, one of the residents, passes away under suspicious circumstances on Yom Kippur, Mrs. K and Ida spring into action. Right away, they realize that their biggest obstacle is that the deceased was not a very nice person. She recently had a waiter fired for a very petty reason. She told the center director about her neighbor’s secret cat. Simply put, Vera was the sort of person who made enemies wherever she went, but which of them would actually kill her? Continue reading