The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr

The Unbreakables

THE UNBREAKABLES snuck into my reading life quite by accident. I was rifling through my stacks of review copies of upcoming books. This one caught my attention. France, new beginnings. art, steamy sex. Great for summer, right!!!

I was just going to read a bit to get a sense of the story. One chapter turned into two, and then the pages began turning themselves. So, what got me hooked on this book?  First, I’m actively seeking out lighter books that are suited for summer. Books that are not poorly written. Well-written is the first and most important code.  I like the cover. I love that most of the story takes place in France. I love that it’s not World War Two. So many are this year because of the anniversary.

The story begins in the burbs of Chicago. Sophie is a woman about to celebrate her 42nd birthday by going to dinner with her husband and their best friends. The celebration takes a turn for the worse when one of the husbands decides to regale their group with the latest gossip. Ashley Madison is a secret online dating site for married and committed couples who wish to cheat.  Well, it’s been hacked and all the names of all the cheaters are up for grabs.  But when it comes out that Sophie’s husband Gabe is the biggest cheater of all…. You can only imagine the horror.

Sophie is humiliated and totally wrecked and flies off to Paris to be with her teenage daughter who is experiencing cheating issues of her own.  Ava has been in Paris studying art for the summer and has gotten involved with a married man.

Sophie feels as though she’s lost her life. She’s obviously lost her husband the only life she knows. She lost her ability to be an artist years ago when she began suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome while working as a very promising sculptor.  She’s lost her two best friends through betrayal. What’s left? She needs to find herself.

So Sophie leaves Paris and drives to the South of France  to an artist enclave called Saint-Paul-de-Vence one of the oldest medieval towns.   She’s starting from scratch.  This is where I begin to smile. Yes, I love that she is doing this. But how lucky is she to have the money to do it. The time, the money.  This is pure fantasy for most people. But it makes for good reading. The hotel she stays in is  five stars.  Sophie’s driving a vintage white Alfa Romeo convertible that she chose from the exotic car rental place in Nice.  She’s shedding her worn-out persona and we get the first glimpse of what’s to come.

Barr brings the intricate world of art and the lusciousness of France to the forefront of this lovely  novel.  It’s beautifully written. I found myself being captured and smuggled into the French countryside more and more with each page. I loved learning about the art of sculpture.  In fact, I think I can honestly say I have gained a new interest. Wow.

THE UNBREAKABLES is a very moving novel about a woman rediscovering her joie de vivre, but it’s about so much more than that. I loved it.

Publisher’s Weekly says, ” This exquisitely wrought novel will appeal to readers  who believe in the redemption of new beginnings and the necessity of facing the past while making a deliberate effort to move forward.”

Pam Jenoff says, “Readers will delight in this effervescent cocktail of second chances, female strength, mother-daughter bonding and the truths that set us free. Smart, sure and sexy. The UNBREAKABLES is unforgettable.”

Steamy sex scenes and light drug use. Beware. If that will offend you then I am forewarning you right now. For the rest of us, a delightful and moving read that will transport you to another world for the duration of your reading experience and maybe even down the road. Enjoy!

Lisa Barr

Lisa Barr is the author of one other novel called FUGITIVE COLORS. She’s also quite an accomplished editor and writer  and lives in the Chicago area with her husband and three daughters.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

My copy of THE UNBREAKABLES came from Harper Collins. We will have copies of this  book later this week at Copperfish Books. . Come on in to see  us. And more good news. This book is available in a trade paperback edition. Perfect for summer!



Giveaway! The Friends We Keep by Jane Green

The Friends We Keep

It’s summertime and that means it’s time for another great novel by bestselling author Jane Green.

THE FRIENDS WE KEEP  is set both in the United Kingdom and New England.  A trio of unlikely friends meet at university. Evvie, a former child actress from the United States, is lonely and out of place when she meets Maggie, a girl who shares her sense of humor. Together they meet Topher, an outsider struggling with his sexual identity. They bond immediately, and vow to be friends forever….

But life, as it often does, gets in the way after they leave school, and they lose touch.

At their thirtieth reunion, the have a chance to reconnect, and a second chance at happiness. But a dark secret revealed will change absolutely everything. “

I have one copy of THE FRIENDS WE KEEP for giveaway compliments of Berkley Publishing a division of Penguin Random House.  Please leave a comment below to enter. Only U.S. addresses, please, and no P.O. boxes.  I will choose one winner on Friday, June 7th. Good luck!

Did you know Jane Green has a cookbook? Yes she does. I own it and my copy is flagged

Jane Green

Good Taste

to death. I reviewed it a couple years ago. I have made some of the best foods ever. Her recipe for zucchini soup is beyond amazing.  We all LOVE it at my house.

Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

Jean Kwok

Searching For Sylvie Lee

What a great cover! And look at that blurb by Paula Hawkins!!

I’ve been following Jean Kwok since her first book, GIRL IN TRANSLATION. That novel  was the beginning of a stellar writing career. Now NYT bestselling author, Jean Kwok, brings us a novel set mostly in the enchanting Netherlands. She even takes us on a trip to Venice in this new book.

SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE is Kwok’s first thriller, and an International one at that.  She’s managed to pack this wonderful new novel with the immigrant experience, family secrets, and even race and culture.  It’s a real page-turner.

Amy Lee is living in a tiny apartment in Queens, New York with her parents who have immigrated from the Netherlands years ago but were initially from  China. She’s distraught because she discovers no one’s heard from her older sister Sylvie Lee. Sylvie was thought to be on her way home from a visit to the Netherlands where she had gone to see her grandmother who was dying. But now Sylvie has disappeared without a trace.

Years ago, Amy’s parents left the Netherlands. They also left their daughter Sylvie with relatives because they could not afford to take her with them. Amy was not yet born. When Sylvie was nine she came back  to live with her parents. But there’s always been a mystery hanging over this family.  Now, Amy who is almost painfully shy, is determined to get to the bottom of this disappearance and find her sister. Off she flies to the Netherlands to meet relatives she’s never met before. This is no small feat.

Told with lyrical prose and an acute sense of urgency, SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE, is the quintessential International thriller. It has so much to offer the reader. It’s nothing like Kwok’s former novels, and yet it is. I love the sense of place evoked.  Kwok brings so much to the table. She actually lives in the Netherlands and is able to transfer to the page the sense of place that helps make this novel so authentic. It sure made me feel as if I were right there in the midst of the city of canals. And, the story moves to Venice where the same attention to details prevail. I love that.

As Amy collects different pieces of this intricate puzzle I found myself so intrigued. So engrossed.  So enjoying the beautiful writing and the unique story.  So many questions. So few answers.

Jean knows the immigrant experience. She’s lived it. That’s what makes her rendition  so spot-on and special.

Photo of Jean Kwok by Mark Kohn

Photo of Jean Kwok by Mark Kohn

SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE is getting rave reviews from all over the world.  It even made it onto Elaine Newton’s Critic’s Choice summer reading list.  I’m adding my rave to the list. You simply must pick up a copy of this new novel for your summer bag.  I received a gorgeous finished hard copy of SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it’s just super!

We have a stack of gorgeous copies of SEARCHING FOR SYVLIE LEE at Copperfish Books.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

These lovelies are discounted 20% as are all other brand new hardcover books.  I hope you’ll come up to see me soon!


Musings For June From Maurice

It’s June here in S.W. Florida and we’re beginning to feel the heat of the season. It’s time to slow down. Time to reflect on the past season, begin thinking of the upcoming season.  Finally, I can pull up to Publix and get a parking space without having to circle the lot several times. The phones at the pharmacy are not ringing off the hook. And the restaurants are actually happy to see those of us who brave the Florida summers. It’s also the perfect time to relax by the pool or at the beach with a great book. There are many this summer. You have your choice: light and beachy;  deep and literary.

Post American Dirt

I’ve had a great week enjoying the photos Cathy and Serena have sent me from Book Expo in NYC. It’s an OMG time for readers. The ladies are meeting with important publishers and putting faces to names.

Cathy Graham with Jeanine Cummins



They’ve even met some great authors, In fact, I already cherish this photo of Cathy with Jeanine Cummins who is the author of AMERICAN DIRT. If you’ve been following me you already know who and what that is.

I anticipate some big ideas for the upcoming season. We are reading and planning way ahead these days and it’s paying off for us and you.

My husband and I are gearing up for a big anniversary trip next month when we celebrate by cruising to Cuba. It’s been on our wish list for as long as we can remember. Now that’s it’s possible to travel to Cuba we are going to go while the going is good. Will be exciting to be able to write about our experience when we return. I have heard conflicting reports from people we know who have visited. Most are favorable.

What book did I throw down lately? I had to toss THE ISLANDERS by Meg Mitchell Moore. I just had to. I really wanted it to be good. The cover is. I’m not a fan of the writing and did not like the characters.  Hard cover books cost way too much money these days. So people need to hear more of the truth even though it’s painful to tell sometimes.

I am, however, reading something special right now.  ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane has very good blurbs from big authors like Meg Wolitzer and Matthew Thomas. I am three chapters in and I feel really excited about it. It will be available on Tuesday, June 4.

Another book I’m reading is not my usual. WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo is YA or Young Adult for those of you who are not familiar.  This young author has already made a name for herself  with THE POET X. Why am I reading a YA book? One of my co-workers fell deeply for this, then Cathy read it and agreed. I thought it about time I see what all the hoopla is about. So far, I’m  really enjoying it.

I’ll be publishing a June summer reading list this week. Stay tuned. More of my favs for summer.

Stay cool, use sunscreen, drink lots of water, and always, always, read!

This Is American Dirt! Only A Sneak Peek.

American Dirt

I am calling this post a sneak peek for a good reason. AMERICAN DIRT is a novel that will not be available until January 2020. I know, how frustrating for you….

I read a manuscript of AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine

Jeanine Cummins
Credit Joe Kennedy

Cummins in January of this year. Yes, that long ago. I got lucky. Really lucky. Amy Einhorn, who is Flatiron Books, asked if I would read it. Yes, she actually did. I accepted it and put everything else aside even though this book was a year from printing. But it was Amy’s passion for this book that spurred me on. OMG! And now I am adding my passion to the mix.

I’m not writing a review at this point. I’m just gonna whet your appetites. The word is getting out, you see. Jeanine Cummins was recently signing copies of AMERICAN DIRT at Book Expo in NYC.  Our own Cathy Graham was seen at a cocktail party with Jeanine this past week.

Cathy Graham with Jeanine Cummins Book Expo 2019

This photo warms my heart to no end. Jeanine Cummins is poised for BIG stuff. I am predicting that AMERICAN DIRT is going to be HUGE.  The book is like a runaway train.  You can’t catch your breath. You can’t take your eyes from the pages. You can’t  control the beating of your own heart.

When I tell readers that the book is about a  woman who lives in Acapulco, Mexico and owns a bookstore, they smile. They like this. Then I mention her husband is a journalist. They have a young son. More smiling and now intrigue. Then I press the panic button and explain that these middle class people just living their safe lives are about to have everything blown to high heavens.

This novel is so timely. The beginning of this literary thriller is harrowing. And then Lydia and her son are forced into being migrants on the run. Forced to ride la bestia as their once normal lives are left behind them and they are running for their lives.

This AMAZING novel hits the nail on the head. It poses the question; what if this were you? What would you do?

I don’t even know how I took a breath while experiencing this novel. What I did know is that I wanted to talk about it with someone. So I had my husband read it next. Same reaction.

Book Expo 2019

AMERICAN DIRT is for everyone. No matter your political persuasion, your religious beliefs, your class, your ethnicity, or your sex. This magnificent novel is for you!!!

Stephen King is saying “an extraordinary piece of work.” Don Winslow is saying ” A GRAPES OF WRATH for our times.”

Goodreads is saying; ” AMERICAN DIRT will leave readers utterly changed. It is a page-turner; it is a literary achievement; it is filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for all times.” 

Now you can see why I feel so compelled to get the word out about AMERICAN DIRT and Jeanine Cummins. A force is coming. By the time this novel arrives in your hands it will already have become a phenomena. I promise you this. And I was one of the first to know. Cheers! And many thanks to Amy Einhorn for this opportunity.

The Summer I met Jack by Michelle Gable

The Summer I Met Jack

I have long been fascinated by the Kennedy family.  I remember the day Jack  won the presidential election many years ago. I was but a child. But I remember how charismatic JFK was then. I think a big part of how he won was that women all over the country fell in love with him.  Of course there are other reasons that we all now know….

THE SUMMER I MET JACK is a novel written by Michelle Gable.  She’s done a bang-up job. It’s a pretty big book. I read all of it. I even thought I might skim part of it, but I didn’t want to miss a thing.

Michelle Gable

In the late 1940’s Barbara Kopczysnka left her home in Poland for a much better life in America.  She ended up moving in with a roommate in Hyannisport on Cape Cod and landed a job as a maid working in the Kennedy compound. She knew her life was changing drastically, but what she did not know is how close to becoming the wife of a president she would become.

Barbara changed her name for the first time to Alicia Darr. She met Jack while working the counter at the local movie theater selling candy and soda. She had a beautiful face and a witty personality. She had become a survivor.  She and Jack buzzed on impact.  Their love affair was torrid and it was like they were meant for each other.

Alicia’s family were Jewish. Her mom was still in Poland in a camp and Alicia sent what money she could back to help even though her mom was no longer herself. The war had taken its toll on her both physically and mentally.  Jack did not know about the Jewishness, not for a long time.

Jack was besotted. He bent at the knee and proposed to Alicia and she said yes. The Kennedy’s took her under their wing. For a while. Until Alicia’s roommate went behind her back and told Jack’s father Joe that Alicia was Jewish. That was that.

Alicia decided Hollywood was the place for her. With her good looks and a new connection she hooked up on the West coast. There’s more to that story too.

This story is jam-packed with a wonderful cast of celebrities.  And as the story moves across the Atlantic we visit London and Paris and Rome.

Alicia and Jack never got over each other. Their love was beyond time and even family. Throughout his marriage he still saw Alicia…. And as he became more and more involved in politics and then became our president, his relationship with Alicia became dangerous……for her.

“Based on true events from the life of American socialite Alicia Corning Clark, the story offers an alternate Kennedy family history that will leave readers wondering whether America knew the real JKF at all.”

This novel has it all. It even has gangsters. By the time I was about 3/4 through I was so involved in the story that  it felt like I was reading a memoir.  It sure does look at the Kennedy family in another light. I adored reading it. You will make your own decisions about what is true and what may not be true.  But whatever you end up thinking, I think you’ll be totally captivated.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

I have the publishing people at St. Martin’s Press to thank for my review copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s out now in a trade paperback edition and we are fully stocked at Copperfish Books. I would love to put a copy directly in your hands. Come on up! You can tell how much I loved it.

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Calahan Henry

The Favorite Daughter

THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER unearths long-kept secrets that no one had even dreamed of. It will keep you turning the pages long after bedtime.

The story begins with the impending wedding of Colleen  (Lena) to the love-of-her life.  It’s her wedding day. Everything is all set to go. Until she finds her husband-to-be kissing her sister. Then the shit hits the fan. Colleen flees to New York where she licks her wounds and  hides away from her family to begin a new life.

Ten years later, Colleen is persuaded to come back home. Her brother explains that their dad has Alzheimer’s and they need her to help make crucial decisions. She has to go.  She hasn’t seen her sister since that awful, fateful day. And, now, her sister has married her ex and they have twins girls Colleen has never seen.

Colleen has a very successful career traveling the world as a travel writer. She’s never looked back.  Returning to the scene of the crime ,so to speak, is even more difficult than she thought. It brings back the hurt and betrayal all over again.

Henry has done such a good job showing what it’s really like for the families of Alzheimer’s patients. She’s tackling other issues here as well. Sibling angst. Parenting secrets. How challenging forgiveness can be.

Colleen’s father is harboring a breathtaking secret from his past. Henry slowly pulls this into the story. It’s truly life-changing for the family especially Lena. I did not see this coming. Loved it.

What a great summer read to tuck in your beach bag. Savor it even though you might be tempted to gobble it right up.


Patti Callahan Henry

My copy of THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER came from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, Patti Callahan Henry just keeps getting better and better. I look forward to her next book no matter what it might be!