Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Everything To Lose

Everything To Lose by Andrew Gross

A half million dollars is a lot of money. Enough to pay the back taxes on her outrageously expensive home and catch up on the mortgage her ex-husband conveniently handed to her. It would help her loyal parents through a rough patch, and most importantly, continue to send her special needs son to a school where he shows vast improvement. As she caresses the crisp currency and daydreams about financial security, her inner self knows that this split-second decision will alter the course of her life. She knows right from wrong; but desperate times call for desperate measures. So she devises a way to take the money that clearly doesn't belong to her, setting in motion a series of events that will send her life spinning out of control...

While driving down a dark deserted road, Hilary Cantor witnesses a fatal car accident. She doesn't know the dead man whose contorted body is twisted in the mangled wreck but she soon will. He is a man with a secret. He is a man with an exorbitant amount of money that someone desperately wants back along with incriminating evidence from twenty years ago. Hilary unwittingly is now caught in a web of murder and blackmail with a very dangerous and sinister group of individuals who threaten the one person she loves the most; her son. She joins forces with a determined police officer from Staten Island that is reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many characters emerge as the story goes back in time. Like in a a game of dominoes, the pieces begin to fall revealing the final lone suspect. And it all begins with the enticement of money.

This is a fast-paced cliff-hanger; easy to read and hard to put down. From the same author who wrote 15 Seconds, the story touches upon relevant current issues of our times like the devastation of a storm that destroyed lives and fractured the human spirit, and a woman so overcome with despair and hopelessness, that she resorts to unthinkable measures in order to save her needy child. Who knows what the future holds and how we will react.  Life is never just black and white; rather it is a myriad of countless shades of gray.

Andrew Gross writes of hope, love and resilience, with suspense all around. Maybe not the ending you desire, but it will certainly keep you engaged for hours as you slip away into the thrill of it all.        

Friday, April 18, 2014

Glitter and Glue

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

This book is for mothers and daughters everywhere.

Author Kelly Corrigan writes a poignant and touching memoir revolving around her own life and the trials and tribulations of the mother daughter relationship, eventually coming to the understanding that perhaps Mom's words of wisdom have some merit after all.

"Your father is the glitter, and I'm the glue." How many times did Kelly hear those words spoken by her mother?  Far too numerous to count along with those endless quotes about every trivial event and circumstance in her life. And what in the world do those words mean? In any case, it's time to move on after college graduation. The adventure and glamour of Australia beckons Kelly and friend, Tracy, so they depart for the other side of the world.. Soon her savings account is exhausted and she finds herself accepting a job as a live-in nanny for a widower named John. The package includes scrawny  five-year-old Martin, precocious eight-year-old Milly, lonely Grandpa Pop, and intriguing stepson Evan. The book chronicles Kelly's days and nights of making monotonous meals, wiping runny noses, and daydreaming of scuba diving on the The Great Barrier Reef. As time passes, however, an attachment grows to this grieving family, and she slowly begins to understand that the untimely loss of a mother has far-reaching consequences. To her surprise, Kelly begins to feel an unexpected love for a family that courageously attempts to move on after days filled with emptiness and sorrow. And in the process her own mother's advice begins to take on a whole new meaning. When she returns to the States, her past experiences in a faraway place in 1992 prepare her for the challenges she faces today, with mom by her side.

This is a heartrending emotional story filled with a bevy of "mom" quotes; I marveled at exactly how many were familiar to me, spoken by my own mother throughout those formative teenage years. Sad at times yet surely captivating, it also is very amusing. After all, laughter is good for the soul. It explores that mysterious ever-changing bond between mothers and daughters that evolves over time; that protective nature one experiences when a child enters your life.

"And it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time wasn't because she was doing so much but because she was feeling so much."  Yes, indeed, an insightful window into the phenomenon known as motherhood. And may I be the first one to wish you...

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Keep Quiet

Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline

"A father is supposed to be a parent, not a friend. It's Parenting 101, but you didn't get the memo."

Jake Buckman drives aimlessly through unfamiliar residential streets as wife Pam's words echo in his ears, over and over and over.  He never should have allowed his sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, behind the wheel.
He knew it was wrong. But Ryan was only months away from getting his driver's license, and Pike Road has little traffic in the late evening hours; a perfect opportunity to reconnect with the teenage son who seems to be drifting farther and farther away. But then the unthinkable happens; that terrifying moment when both father and son realize a crumpled, lifeless body lies beneath the wheels of their car. Jake must act quickly, making monumental decisions in a matter of minutes. The young female jogger is dead. There is nothing they can do to bring back an innocent life. It was an accident. But Jake knows that Ryan could go to prison and that can't happen.  So they drive away with a rehearsed plan, praying that this nightmare will end, knowing in their hearts it's only begun......

Secrets don't stay hidden for long. Unsettling texts to Ryan begin to unravel this young man already on the brink of self-destruction. When an unsavory character by the name of Lewis Deaner threatens blackmail, Jack knows that prying eyes witnessed every moment of that fateful night. He realizes that what was a horrible lapse in judgement on his part is now a complicated web of deceit and lies. When Deaner is found murdered, Jack begins to connect clues that point to several suspects, including Pam, who has deceptions of her own. It is now a race against time to shield and protect his wife and son from potential deadly harm. And when all the pieces begin to fall into place, Jack braces himself for the frightening conclusion to this agonizing ordeal.

Once again Lisa Scottoline writes a suspenseful, enjoyable page-turner with just enough mystery to make the reader curious as to how it all ends. As a former attorney herself, Scottoline always adds legal flavor to her novels and this is no exception. This one is an easy read, quite fast-moving and hard to put down. Perhaps you will guess the puzzle as you read the final chapters; nevertheless, I found it to be an entertaining read filled with moral and ethical questions. How far will a parent go to protect their child? Where do you draw that fine line between parent and friend?

Food for thought for many of us; of that I am sure.....        

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

The time has come. Sixty-year-old Rebecca Winter must reinvent herself. She finds it hard to admit, but this new catchphrase applies to her in so many ways. Her acclaimed black-and-white photographs once graced the walls of prestigious homes, the most famous being the Kitchen Counter Series that depicted the chaos of a typical harried housewife. At one time her fans adored her. People clamored to buy her work. The royalties from her esteemed prints paid for the Manhattan penthouse, the exclusive hairdresser, and the five-star restaurants. But fame is fleeting. Now Rebecca finds herself alone. Divorced from Peter with the wandering eyes, she faces dwindling finances, increased responsibilities with elderly parents, and the sinking feeling that her once creative self has disappeared.

Forced to cut expenses, Rebecca sublets the apartment overlooking Central Park and moves to the middle of nowhere, living in a run-down cottage in dire need of repair. A handyman by the name of Jim Bates comes to the rescue as he repairs her roof and opens her heart to the possibility of love once again.  And as she explores her newfound feelings for Jim, she realizes that her peaceful surroundings create the perfect backdrop for photography. The hours spent walking through the woods provide beautiful shots of nature. Then unexpectedly, she stumbles upon a series of small homemade crosses adorned with childhood mementos; a yearbook, a trophy, a tattered, faded picture of mother and child. Mysterious and perplexing. Yet she is compelled to photograph these makeshift memorials, only to find that the next day they have disappeared. Who or what is lurking in the shadows watching her every move?

This is a fun, quirky, often amusing story with a hint of mystery and surprise. The author deals with relevant issues many people face each and every day; the responsibilities of taking care of aging parents, the daunting prospect of making ends meet on a limited budget, the challenge of finding joy in life and overcoming obstacles that stand in our way. It is a novel both lighthearted and thought provoking. It is a simple little love story told with warmth and insightful observations from an award-winning journalist.

Reinvent yourself.