Friday, July 29, 2022
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
Friday, July 22, 2022
Friday, July 15, 2022
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
"Before you judge me, remember this: a girl died, and it wasn't my fault."
Rachel is teaching French and Italian at a private girls' school when a BBC News alert flashes across her phone that a man's criminal appeal is proceeding that evening. What does this have to do with the first sentence of the story?
The story moves back in time to when Rachel was an ambitious high school student. Her Italian teacher reaches out to an old friend, a countessa who has a villa in Tuscany that she has turned into a pensione. Although she would be working as a maid, Rachel would be escaping to beautiful Florence for the summer.
The work was not easy, but when Rachel meets another maid named Diana, Rachel becomes "intoxicated with her, almost from the very moment, an intensity of feeling that perhaps blinded me to her other faults." Unlike Rachel, Diana comes from the same wealthy class as most of the villa's guests.
Rachel also falls for Sebastian, a neighbor of the Contessa's. Sebastian is charming and handsome and he seems to like Rachel as well. Diana encourages Rachel, telling Rachel that she would help her win Sebastian's affections.
But Diana is not the friend that Rachel believes her to be. As the summer moves along, Rachel finds herself doing Diana's work as well as her own, and being seduced by the lifestyle of her new friends, a lifetyle she cannot afford.
The story moves back and forth in time, and we read on waiting to discover who was the girl who died and if it wasn't Rachel's fault, whose fault was it? Rachel seems to be unraveling in the present time, looking for answers, and perhaps absolution, for what happened in Tuscany.
I enjoyed being immersed in Florence and Tuscan countryside. You could feel the sunshine on your face, and taste the cool gelato on your tongue. The story had a Gatsby-esque touch, with our narrator trying to explain the actions of these rich people. Lizzy Barber has the reader in the palm of her hand, right up to the shocking ending. If you are a fan of thrillers like The Girl on the Train, Out of Her Depth is one for you.
Thanks to Harlequin Books for putting me on their Summer 2022 Mystery & Thriller Blog Tour.
Friday, July 8, 2022
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Reprinted from auburnpub.com
July is the time to kick our summer reading into high gear, and this month’s Book Report features two titles that are made for that. A Shoe Story and Flying Solo are two novels that each feature a woman looking at a very different future than she imagined. They are at a crossroads in their lives and with the help of their friends, and the possibility of romance that may or may not include reconnecting with former loves, they forge ahead.
First up is A Shoe Story by Jane L. Rosen. Esme is excited to be graduating from college and heading off to her new life interning at an art gallery in New York City and living with Liam, her college boyfriend who also has a job in New York.
When tragedy strikes, Esme returns her upstate New York hometown of Honeoye Falls to care for her father and all her future dreams fade away. She breaks up with Liam, not wanting to hold him back.
Seven years later, Esme has the opportunity to dog sit for a woman in New York City. While it’s only for a month, Esme looks forward to being able to explore the city she once hoped to call home, and maybe even run into Liam.
Esme meets a handsome bartender who rescues her from a creep, and makes friends with Sy, an elderly man she meets at the dog park. She also discovers that the woman who owns the apartment has an extensive collection of beautiful shoes, and finds a note from the woman telling her to help herself (or so she thinks).
Each clever chapter title is the name of a pair of shoes from the closet, and gives the reader some idea of what it to come. (I’m not a shoe person, but if you are, you will drool over some of these descriptions and titles.)
I loved following Esme’s adventures in New York City, and made a list of all the fun places I want to visit. (Mercer Kitchen will be my first stop.) Rosen drops the reader right into Greenwich Village, with a side trip to the Hamptons. You'll feel like you are there.
A Shoe Story is a perfect summer read, with characters you want to befriend, a fantastic setting, and fancy shoes. What could be better? I highly recommend it.
Linda Holmes’ first novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over was one of my favorite books from summer of 2020, and I was pleased to hear that her second, Flying Solo publishes in June of 2022.
Dot was unmarried and lived a full life, traveling the world, collecting books, too many souvenirs from her travels, and boxes and boxes of Polaroid photos of friends and family. Laurie hires Matt from a service called Save the Best to provide a “bereavement decluttering”, which means he will determine what may be valuable to sell and then get rid of the rest.
Laurie finds a wooden duck decoy hidden underneath blankets in Dot’s cedar chest. She feels strangely attached to the duck, and Matt tells her he will see if could possibly be worth something, though he doubts it.
There is a mystery to be solved when the duck is stolen and Laurie, her best friend June, and former high school boyfriend-now-hot-librarian Nick team up to find out what happened and if the duck could be the product of a famous artist.
I enjoyed the caper, sort of a grown-up Scooby-Doo mystery. Like A Shoe Story, Flying Solo has characters you want to know, and Laurie’s journey to discover if she wants to live a solo life like Dot is a unique storyline. I liked the small town setting and getting to know the residents. I smiled at the Evvie Drake shout-out as the setting of both books are the town of Calcasset, Maine. I highly recommend Flying Solo as well.
A Shoe Story by Jane L. Rosen- A
Published by Berkley
Trade paperback, $17, 336 pages
Flying Solo by Linda Holmes- A
Published by Ballantine Books
Hardcover, $28, 320 pages