Coco Chanel Saved my Life by Danielle F. White

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Rebecca, nicknamed Coco for her love of all things Chanel, is having the worst luck in love. She moves from her beloved Venice to Milan for a man who decides she is not the one for him. Having transferred her job as an event planner, she now finds herself a very cynical member of the wedding planning team, with a horrible boss, crazy brides, and a delivery boy she cannot stop thinking about. Surrounded by a great group of friends who encourage her to go after what she wants, “Coco” finds the strength she needs to discover who she is.

I loved how much Rebecca evolved as a person throughout this book. In the beginning, she had no satisfaction with her life unless she was with a man, but by the end of the story, Rebecca is not only a self confident, successful career woman, but she is ready to receive the love she deserves, from a secret admirer who sweeps her off her feet.

The tone of this book is very European, specifically very Italian with a little bit of Paris thrown in for good measure.  If you love food and wine while somehow maintaining a killer body, designer clothes, and Chanel No. 5, this is a great summer read for you.  Put on your pearls, shower in No. 5, and pour yourself a glass of good Italian wine for this one.

If you loved Bridget Jones’s Diary then you will love this book as well.

SOS: Summer of St. George by Briana Gaitan

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Murphy and Poppy are cousins, best friends and completely inseparable.  Their mothers were twin sisters and planned their pregnancies and births so that the girls could even be born on the same day.  What should be a very happy life for both girls finds them in tragedy, enough so that they make a pact to always be together, no matter what.

After a terrible divorce between her parents, Poppy gets herself emancipated from her family, access to her trust fund and a house on St. George Island, nicknamed “The Pop.”  There, she and Murphy spend happy summers together. especially their birthday.  During the summer of their 17th birthday, Poppy meets a young soldier named Donner, and they fall madly in love right before he deploys to a war zone.  Murphy on the other hand is completely underwhelmed by his best friend Boomer, who seems to want to drive Poppy and Donner apart, and could not be any ruder to Murphy.

Flash forward two years and Murphy and Poppy have returned for their final summer.  Terrible pain in their lives has caused the girls to consider committing suicide together at the end of what will be their final summer at The Pop.  But something is holding Murphy back.  Is it the mysterious Liam who she seems to be falling for every day.  Or is it something deeper than that.  This book is full of flashbacks, twists and turns, and suspense that will keep you wondering what is going on until the very end.  Frothy summer YA reading!

Kisses on a Paper Airplane by Sarah Vance-Tompkins

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Hannah is a student studying theater abroad in London when she is called home for her mother’s impromptu wedding. Flying first class for the first time ever and a very nervous flyer, Hannah is befriended by a handsome boy who goes by T. He’s vaguely familiar to her but she doesn’t realize until hours later that he is Theo, the handsome member of a very popular band from England. Flirting ensues followed by a misunderstanding that threatens to destroy the attraction, which Hannah was hoping would be her first kiss, and she has very definite expectations about.

This is a classic YA story where boy meets girl, girl messes up, girl and boy make up and they find love. This is a very short book that reads very quickly and easily. I would have liked to have seen more interaction between Hannah and Theo on the plane from London to New York to build the attraction up on a further and a deeper level. Overall, a good summer love story.

The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer

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I’m a Texas transplant, so things like debutante balls are absolutely fascinating to me.  The Dyers take the world of the debutante ball scene, mix in a Pride & Prejudice re-imagining, and the fabulous “The Season” is the result.  Complete with a pushy mom, a shy twin sister, men galore, and an independent, strong willed female lead who finds she might not know everything in the world- and finds that second chances are afforded when you get to know who a person truly is.

Boy to the World by Eileen Walls

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New York, NY is a hell of a town, or so the saying goes. Jones Gibson is 15, almost 16 years old, and trying to figure out his world. High school, his driver’s license, girls. His parents have separated and he goes to spend the last few weeks of summer break with his dad. When his dad’s PSAT prep plan for him doesn’t fit the bill, he takes an opportunity to run away to NYC and to his dad’s brother, Uncle Danny, a former pop star and skateboard god. Jones doesn’t know it, but love is right around the corner at the local diner in the form of the quirky Emily Comiskey.

The family discourse in the book hit home for me in so many ways. The struggles, the love, the fights and the reconciliations all contributed to a YA novel that had many facets other than the typical boy meets girl love story. I enjoyed the parts of the book that came from Jones’ dad’s perspective. It helped me understand the challenges in the family. Growing up can be so hard but it can also have so much joy and happiness, and I think this novel sums up both sides of adolescence in a very satisfying and charming way.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

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I usually tear through the books I receive for review so that I am able to talk about them as soon as possible.  I waited on this one knowing it would be a difficult and brutal look at the horror of slavery.  But when Oprah got the publication of this book moved up by weeks for her latest Book Club pick, I knew I could sit on it no longer.

I can usually finish a book of this size in two days tops, but this one I needed time to digest and take in slowly.  The story of Cora, a slave who risks it all to escape an abusive master, cut me to my core.  There were several parts of the book that required me to put it down and walk away from it for awhile as I processed the events described on the pages.  The systematic dehumanization of blacks in the US is so clearly outlined by the reactions and experiences of Cora and the other slaves in the story.  The expectation of being treated like property, the expectation of violence against them, the expectation by whites that they were not intelligent. Cora overcomes so many trials and near death experiences that she becomes very aware that she is more than a wealthy land owner’s property.  She has worth, a mind, and a faith in herself that comes through as the story progresses. Definitely worthy of the attention it is garnering especially considering the state of the country right now.  This is historical fiction written to perfection.

Little Free Libraries!

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The founder of igotthebooks.com, Sara Planz, is happy to announce she is establishing a Little Free Library in her Houston suburbs neighborhood.  With donations from neighbors, Little Free Library fills the void when a neighborhood is too far from a local library system.  To find out more about establishing a library in your neighborhood, visit littlefreelibrary.org.

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

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It seems like in the last few years there have been quite a few thrillers about young women with secrets.  Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, etc.  Books that keep you guessing until the very end, and Good as Gone is in that same tradition.  First of all, I loved the fact that this book was set in Houston, in a nearby neighborhood.  That extra descriptive bit allowed me to visualize the locations in the story made it feel like I was reading a true crime story as opposed to fiction.  The story begins when 13 year old Julie is kidnapped at knife point from her home, and the only witness is her younger sister Jane.  Their parents, Anna and Tom , search for years for their missing daughter to no avail, until one evening, the doorbell rings and they open the door to discover that Julie has returned to them on her own.  Or has she?  The plot progresses weaving in stories from the past.  Are they Julie’s stories, or has a con artist taken advantage of this emotionally fragile family?  And what does a Houston mega-church pastor (a la Joel Osteen) have to do with all of this?  This book had me up well beyond my bedtime to find out exactly what was going on.  Good as Gone hits all the marks for a great summer read.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child-Parts I & II by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

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 Who is the Cursed Child?

The script book has been out for three days now and frankly, I took my time with it and wanted to savor every word, not knowing if this would indeed be the last word on Harry, Hermione and Ron.  And it did not disappoint.  I want to keep this spoiler free for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to finish this book, but I can say this much:  The gang has grown up and has to deal with many adult topics: parenting, marriage, the day to day struggles of work and raising a family, all while being some of the best known wizards in their world.  While the plot is a bit convoluted and sometimes odd, it is a walk through time and nostalgia in so many different areas and the last few pages left me with tears in my eyes.  If you are a Potterhead, this book is definitely for you!