"You're the One That I Want" is the story of Maddy, Ben, and Rob. The three of them have been inseparable since they were very young. You never saw on"You're the One That I Want" is the story of Maddy, Ben, and Rob. The three of them have been inseparable since they were very young. You never saw one without the other two. As they grow up together, the dynamic of their relationship changes. Rob and Maddy fall for each other on a high school trip and that's when Ben realizes that he may have stronger feelings for Maddy than he was ready to admit but now Maddy is with Rob and Ben will just have to stay quiet.
Love triangles can be hard to write about without being trite or cliched. This book centers on a love triangle and while the story line feels like it has been done before, the way that the book is written is what makes this book. The story is told from both Maddy and Ben's point of view for the most part (Rob comes in every once in awhile but doesn't get top billing). I liked that the author gave us insight into where Maddy and Ben are coming from. Neither one of them are fully aware of how each other is feeling about their relationship, which makes for the major action in the book.
This is a romance that feels familiar but is a little different in the way that it is told. I liked how the author gave the major characters separate voices. This was a fun romance where you're pulling for the happy ending from the beginning!...more
"The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence" is the story of Simonetta, a woman who men fawn after whenever she walks by. At first she believes she is livin"The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence" is the story of Simonetta, a woman who men fawn after whenever she walks by. At first she believes she is living a charmed life with a husband who actually adores and loves her and artists like Sandro Botticelli who want to paint her likeness. Looks can be deceiving though as we see in this latest historical fiction offering from Alyssa Palombo.
You've probably seen pictures of Simonetta. She is the muse for some of Botticelli's most famous paintings. I know I had seen her before but her story as a muse is largely glossed over by Botticelli's talent and renown. I loved how the author was able to take the story of a women who many have seen but few know details about and create a story to introduce us to the person behind the painting. The story does really focus on Simonetta (it is told from her perspective) and not Botticelli. This is one of the great things about historical fiction to me is that it can introduce you to those "behind the scenes."
The writing of the book was good! I loved Palombo's previous book about the famous composer Vivaldi. I didn't like this book quite as much but it is still a very good read. Simonetta has a very real feeling voice and I thought that getting to see the events of the book directly through her eyes was a very effective tool in getting me engaged with the book from the very beginning. This reader can't wait to see what Palombo does next!...more
"I Change Worlds" is the memoir of Anna Louise Strong, an American who left the country to go live in the Soviet Union because it aligned with her ide"I Change Worlds" is the memoir of Anna Louise Strong, an American who left the country to go live in the Soviet Union because it aligned with her ideals. She has a very idealized view of the changes brought in the 1920s and 1930s in the Soviet Union. Being an American born in the waning years of the Cold War, this was such an interesting perspective to read about.
Even after the Cold War, the idea that people would leave the relative comfort of the United States for the Soviet Union is strange - this isn't what we typically focus on or even mention in history classes. Our history classes still seem to have a fairly rose-colored view of our country without accounting for many differing opinions. This book is one of those differing opinions. Strong is initially very hopeful for the improvement of working conditions in the USSR. She witnesses Stalin's various plans to shake various countries into production and growth. It was fascinating to see her perspective on what was going on.
Strong is also a journalist and her job takes her places that were not necessarily open to women or Americans at the time. It shed a lot of light on what it would have been like to be a person living during this time. She has some really interesting experiences in the book. At one point, she goes back to the U.S. to have conversations with Henry Ford about investing in the USSR (I did not ever realize that the USSR was so interested in investment. She talks about the American companies that would or would not invest in the USSR (it's a fascinating list. Ford entertained it. House of Morgan refused)! She also gets to meet directly with Stalin after making a complaint about her work and in the book, she calls him one of the easiest people in the world to talk to (but was he really??? that's not ever a description I've heard associated with Stalin).
I love when books make you question what you do and do not know. This book gave a perspective that I never had thought about before and definitely made me think about just how different points of view can really be!...more
"Slightly South of Simple" is the story of Ansley and her three daughters. During 9/11, Ansley lost her beloved husband and fled to her grandmother's"Slightly South of Simple" is the story of Ansley and her three daughters. During 9/11, Ansley lost her beloved husband and fled to her grandmother's house in Georgia that she inherited with her three daughters. It was a big change from New York City but the solace she found saved her. Her daughters are now grown with families and lives of their own. They are all fleeing back to Georgia after facing crises of their own. Will they be able to find the same solace?
This is the first book in a planned series. The story mainly focuses on Ansley, the mother, and Caroline, the oldest daughter of the Murphy family. The chapters are split between them so we can see both sides and get to know both characters. I instantly warmed up to Ansley. She has seen a lot in her years and she is trying to use her experience to help her daughters whether they want to admit it or not. Ansley is hiding her own secrets that begin to be unraveled throughout the book and only serve to endear her more to the reader.
Caroline was a harder sell for me. She spends the first part of the book being miserable, spoiled, and selfish. Yes, she is going through a very public divorce. Yes, the divorce happened when she was pregnant but she seems to drag herself into being negative at every turn at first. She is obsessed with how she looks even while pregnant and taking care of another daughter (who she seems to want to pass her own sensitivities to at every turn). Eventually we get to see some growth and realization that there is more to life than what life looks like from the outside of everything but it is a hard wrought lesson.
The relationship between mothers and daughters is an amazing relationship but it can be incredibly difficult as we see in this book. I love reading about these relationships and I love that we get to see the action in the story from both mother and daughter.
This is a light read and is perfect for when you're looking for a book with a lot of heart and a great small town setting!...more
4.5 stars. "The Gods of Tango" is the story of Italian immigrant Leda who comes to Argentina in the early 1900s. She is married to her cousin and when4.5 stars. "The Gods of Tango" is the story of Italian immigrant Leda who comes to Argentina in the early 1900s. She is married to her cousin and when he suddenly dies, she is left alone in a city where she knows no one. She will have to carve out a life for herself in this brand new place. She is swept up in the tango music of the city, which isn't really open to women at the time. So she decides to live her life as a man, never telling anyone her secret, which could ruin her career. This is a sweeping novel that looks at what it means to carve out a true life for yourself.
Leda is a fascinating character. She goes through so much trouble to disguise herself as a man and does it so well that she is able to not only live as a man but to love as a man as well. This gets her into trouble later on in the book but it was fascinating to see how long she was able to carry out the ruse for. She struggles with who she is. Society is not particularly open to women at the time and certainly not open to lesbians. You are pulling for her the whole time as you just want her to be able to live her life in the way that she wants to live it. I really liked that the author shed light on a time when people had to be completely closed off about who they loved if it didn't fit the embraced narrative of the day: one man, one woman, forever and always.
The book takes place mostly in Argentina with a bit in Italy at the beginning and Uruguay at the end. I love reading books set in South America and it doesn't seem like I get there often enough in my reading travels. This book gives a lot of good detail about what was going on in Buenos Aires at the time and how the city was changing. I really enjoyed all of the detail and this book made me crave reading more historical fiction set in South America.
Overall, this book was off the beaten path, which I really enjoyed. It's a good read with good detail and memorable characters....more
3.5 stars. "The Horse Dancer" is the story of Tash and Mac and their marriage that is falling apart. It's the story of Sarah, a young teenager, whose3.5 stars. "The Horse Dancer" is the story of Tash and Mac and their marriage that is falling apart. It's the story of Sarah, a young teenager, whose grandfather gets sick and threatens to rip apart the only thing that has given her life stability: her love of horseback writing. Told with Moyes' signature heart and memorable characters, this book will drag your heart through the mud and leave you with hope and happiness.
I'm not a horse fan but I am an animal lover. I loved the bond that Sarah had with her horse, Boo. Sarah's grandfather has been a masterful rider in his own day and he passed his love of horses on to Sarah. I really liked how committed Sarah was to Boo and everything that she went through in order to continue practice horseback riding and then on top of it, how much she goes through in order to fix things for Boo.
Moyes is a master at taking the difficult and turning into a really heartwarming story. I love how she is able to turn this on its head - this always make for a super satisfying read! There are a few continuity issues throughout the book and it gets a bit predictable towards the end but because of the ending, it is still satisfying....more
In "Purple Hearts," Luke is trying to keep old demons at bay and wants to do something with his life. Cassie is reeling after getting a medical diagnoIn "Purple Hearts," Luke is trying to keep old demons at bay and wants to do something with his life. Cassie is reeling after getting a medical diagnosis that threatens to break her financially. On a whim, they join in an agreement where they'll get married so Cassie can use Luke's health benefits from the military. It's an agreement of convenience. Neither of them can imagine how much more than convenience this arrangement will become.
This book takes a very real situation and turns it into a story that explores the emotional implications of going off to war, coming back home again, and what it is like to be struck with something manageable that threatens your way of life nonetheless. I liked how real the author made this feel. In light of some of the questions in our political system recently, I thought it was interesting how the author gave a face to people who struggle with medical insurance coverage. It certainly made this book feel timely.
I really liked the realistic way that this book was written. The author has a knack for writing conversation. The book is narrated by both Cassie and Luke. I loved getting to see both sides of the story. You get a lot of insight into what makes the characters tick. I loved their relationship. Even though you see the ending coming from far away, because you get to know the characters so well, you are still cheering.
Overall, this is a good, romantic take on some very modern challenges!...more
In "The Idea of You," Solene is a successful art gallery owner who is trying to navigate her divorce and remain amicable with her ex, her daughter's fIn "The Idea of You," Solene is a successful art gallery owner who is trying to navigate her divorce and remain amicable with her ex, her daughter's father. He's definitely not helping between his upgraded model of a girlfriend and always cutting out on plans he makes with his daughter. So when he can't take Isabelle to a concert in Las Vegas of her favorite boy band, it falls to Solene to shuttle her and her friends to the concert. Little does Solene know that the concert and the meet and greet where she meets one of the boy banders, Hayes will change her life.
This was such a fun romance! Solene can't believe she is suddenly dating someone who is only 20 but seems familiar with a world that she doesn't really know. She figures that it's going to be a fling and she can't believe when he wants more. Jetsetting from here to there, Solene's life is turned upside down and she isn't sure she is made for Hayes' lifestyle.
The chemistry between Hayes and Solene was great. It was very realistic and I loved that Hayes was so sure of himself and so romantic. The chemistry also felt very realistic. Although Solene really likes him, she holds back a little at first, which felt more real to me and much better than insta-love that often plagues romances.
This is the kind of book that you read when you want to relax with a (classy - classy like Solene) cocktail and be thrilled with a story of jet-set romance!...more