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The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman is a very sweet story about Lili Girvan, a young widow trying to keep her life together a few years after the death of her husband Dan. Her sister Rachel is her best friend who had to step in and take care of the girls after Lili had a nervous breakdown following Dan’s death. Years later and she’s still reeling. Who can blame her?

Lili is an illustrator who is signed up by her boss to take a gardening class at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden in order to learn about the vegetables she will be drawing for a new catalog. She takes along her sister and her two little daughters  where of course there’s a whole cast of characters including a handsome gardening expert who awakens something in Lili she thought had died with her husband.

Through the story, Lili slowly comes back to life, much like the cycle of a garden. Its a beautifully written book and though death is mentioned a lot, the author does a fantastic job of infusing humor in the pages.

I really enjoyed this one!

 

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All I had to see was, “for fans of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams” and I knew I needed to read this book, Beyond The Wild River by Sarah Maine. It offers so much of what I look for in a novel from being a historical novel to having a suspenseful storyline.

I started it last night and was blown away by the authors rich and detailed descriptions.

Here’s the synopsis:

Nineteen-year-old Evelyn Ballantyre has rarely strayed from her family’s estate in the Scottish Borderlands, save for the occasional trip to Edinburgh, where her father, a respected magistrate, conducts his business—and affairs of another kind. Evelyn has always done her duty as a daughter, hiding her boredom and resentment behind good manners—so when an innocent friendship with a servant is misinterpreted by her father as an illicit union, Evelyn is appalled.

Yet the consequence is a welcome one: she is to accompany her father on a trip to North America, where they’ll visit New York City, the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and conclude with a fishing expedition on the Nipigon River in Canada. Now is her chance to escape her cloistered life, see the world, and reconnect with her father.

Once they’re on the Nipigon, however, Evelyn is shocked to discover that their guide is James Douglas, the former stable hand and her one-time friend who disappeared from the estate after the shootings of a poacher and a gamekeeper. Many had assumed that James had been responsible, but Evelyn never could believe it. Now, in the wilds of a new world, far from the constraints of polite society, the truth about that day, James, and her father will be revealed…to stunning consequences.

 

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Did you read author Kimberly Rae Miller’s book, Coming Clean? It was so good that I read it in record time and was eager to get my hands on Beautiful Bodies, her latest.

I admire writers who can pen stories about their own lives. There’s something so incredible about a person who takes chunks of their lives and shares it with readers who can relate in some way. As someone who struggles in the self-image department, I’m especially excited to read this.

I remember standing in front of Cinnabon at eight months pregnant, crying because I wanted a cinnamon roll but didn’t want to risk gaining an extra pound. All I could think about was adding more weight to my body and being unable to lose it. It was a difficult time for me to say the least.

Anyway, here’s Kimberly’s book:

 

Like most people, Kimberly Rae Miller does not have the perfect body, but that hasn’t stopped her from trying. And trying. And trying some more. She’s been at it since she was four years old, when Sesame Street inspired her to go on her first diet. Postcollege, after a brief stint as a diet-pill model, she became a health-and-fitness writer and editor working on celebrities’ bestselling bios—sugarcoating the trials and tribulations celebs endure to stay thin. Needless to say, Kim has spent her life in pursuit of the ideal body.

But what is the ideal body? Knowing she’s far from alone in this struggle, Kim sets out to find the objective definition of this seemingly unattainable level of perfection. While on a fascinating and hilarious journey through time that takes her from obese Paleolithic cave women, to the bland menus that Drs. Graham and Kellogg prescribed to promote good morals in addition to good health, to the binge-drinking-prone regimen that caused William the Conqueror’s body to explode at his own funeral, Kim ends up discovering a lot about her relationship with her own body.

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Seems like I’m trending with this topic because check out the description for the next book on my To Read pile, I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Borland:

When stylish Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room at the offices of high-concept magazine RAGE Fashion Book, her death is initially ruled an unfortunate side effect of the unrelenting pressure to be thin.

But two months later, a cryptic note in her handwriting ends up in the office of the NYPD and the case is reopened, leading Det. Mark Hutton straight into the glamorous life of hardworking RAGE editor Catherine Ono, who insists on joining the investigation. Surrounded by a supporting cast of party girls, Type A narcissists and half-dead socialites, Cat and her colleague Bess Bonner are determined to solve the case and achieve sartorial perfection. But their amateur detective work has disastrous results, and the two ingenues are caught in a web of drugs, sex, lies, and moisturizer that changes their lives forever.

This one promises to be a fun, fast, intriguing story that is getting great reviews. And Good news! It’s available right now! Get it!

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What can I say about this incredible, brutally honest, beautifully written memoir from Cea Sunrise Person? If you haven’t read North of Normal, do it right now. Buy it, read it this weekend, then follow it up with Nearly Normal.

Cea was raised in the Canadian wilderness, living with her pot smoking, free loving mother, and her counter-culture grandparents. When you read her books, it’s a miracle that she came out of her childhood experiences in one piece. But she did and she’s opening her soul and writing all about it.

In her latest book, Cea is forced to confront her childhood when her mother dies and she goes through the demise of her business and her marriage. With an uncertain future, Cea looks to her past to find answers and take steps to create a happy,  healthy life for herself and her young son. When you face rock bottom there are two choices, to look up and gather your strength or to falter and feel sorry for yourself. Cea gathered up all the strength she could muster and plunged through those tough times and bad memories to come out the other side to where she is now with a beautiful family and a bright writing career.

When you face rock bottom there are two choices, to look up and gather your strength or to falter and feel sorry for yourself. Cea gathered up all the strength she could muster and plunged through those tough times and bad memories to come out the other side to where she is now with a beautiful family and a bright writing career.

Nearly Normal chronicles the many stories Cea left untold. Settled into a new and much happier life after the release of her first book, she is nonetheless compelled to continue searching for answers about her enigmatic family. Drawing connections between her early experiences and later life mistakes, Cea identifies how her family’s extreme and often selfish behavior contributed to her downfall. But more importantly, she discovers the value in the lessons they taught her, and the power of taking responsibility for her own choices in the face of great challenge.

I loved reading this book so much and admire Cea as a person and a writer. I am looking forward to whatever Cea writes about next.

The Kind Worth Killing: A Novel by [Swanson, Peter]

 

It seems like mysteries/suspense/thrillers are very hot right now and people have been asking me for recommendations in this genre. There is nothing like a heart pounding, page turning story to keep you up past your bedtime.

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Kind Worth Killing and Her Every Fear, both by Peter Swanson

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, also The Breakdown

All books by Chevy Stevens

The Child by Fiona Barton

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena