Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

Melanie Benjamin’s well researched historical novels have mostly been about popular characters such as Truman Capote and Mary Pickford.  In Mistress of the Ritz she veers from this and tells the story of a couple not well known outside of a small circle in France, but what an amazing story she happened to stumble upon.
Blanche and Claude Auziello have lived a very charmed life in Paris, France.  He as the director of the Ritz and she as the Ritz’s designated mistress who charms guests such as Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.  But in 1940 when the Germans invade Paris, that all changes in an instant as they set up their operations at the Ritz. Thus begins the downfall of Paris as well as Blanche and Claude.
Both, unbeknownst to the other begin to assist in the resistance movement which threatens to challenge everything they believe in…their marriage, their lives as well as their beloved Ritz.  And there are shocking secrets each hold which could lead to their deaths.
As the war wages on they become so involved in what they believe their duty to country is that they lose sight of each other as a couple, but also as each other’s strength.  Until it all begins to blow up in their faces and the reality that they could lose each other becomes intolerable.
Even up to its shocking ending, Mistress of the Ritz sucks you into what life was like during Paris’ German occupancy and the courage many had to help get others out of the country. It gives you a glimpse into what life was like for those who were not as fortunate to be wealthy. All along you root for Blanche and Claude as they persevere and try to find the love they once shared as well as the realization of just how much loyalty they have to each other and to the country of France.
Thank you #NetGalley #Random House #Melanie Benjamin #Mistress of the Ritz for the advanced copy.  The book is out now.

Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers

Alice is the head of a children’s community center and she is overweight. She is obsessed with being overweight. But she can’t help but be overweight. Since her childhood her mother has kept tabs on how much she eats. How unhealthy being overweight is and what not to eat. Now Alice only hears her mother’s voice in her head when trying to make healthy food choices and it only does the opposite. So Alice continues to eat and continues to gain weight.

Daphne, a make-up artist was very thin when she met her husband years ago. When she found herself pregnant they decided to marry. Since the birth of her daughter years ago she not only never lost the baby weight, but has continually added to it much to the chagrin of her husband and her mother. They are a tag team when it comes to what she puts in her mouth. Now she is beginning to worry about her young daughter and what her perception of the situation might do to her. She feels she needs to get her weight under control not only for herself but to save her marriage and make both her daughter and mother happy.

Alice and Daphne meet at Waisted, a month long live-in mansion in Vermont where it is promised to members a safe, healthy weight loss with psychological assistance to help with their understanding as to why they eat. They soon discover that not only is this program not what it said it would be, but is actually being filmed to become a documentary which will be viewed by many. Not something an overweight person would really be comfortable with.

The women all begin to realize they are being used not in a good way, but in a way in which the documentary will make them be perceived as desperate women who would do just about anything to lose weight quickly. The counselors are cruel and demeaning, depriving them of food and making them feel worthless, even more so than when they arrived. The must figure out a way to get out.

This incredible novel delves into so many social issues seen in both young girls and women who begin to feel powerless and self-conscious at an early age. With problems such as body image, addiction, trying to hold a marriage and family together to being brave and honest and finally accepting who you are and loving that person, this book has it all.

This is an inspiring story of women who decide to take back their power and use it for good.

Waisted will be available on May 21. Thank you #NetGalley #Atria Books #Waisted #Randy Susan Meyers for the advanced copy.

Ladies Who Punch by Ramin Setoodeh

Ladies who Punch is the behind the scenes story of The View.  It is caddy, scathing, petty and humiliating…and I loved every word!
Unless you are a fan of The View, which I have been from its conception almost 20 years ago, you won’t really enjoy this book.  BUT for those who lunch with the ladies as I have over the years, this will be your bible on how the show works, or doesn’t, how the ladies get along, or don’t, and how the staff and talent try to sabotage each other, and they do.  Here are just a few of the highlights:
Rosie O’Donnell was hated by just about everyone on the staff and crew both times she was on the show.  Some producers and even a director refused to be in the same room with her.
Elisabeth Hasslebeck struggled to find her place at the table and was humiliated live on air by Barbara Walters and during the commercial break actually got up and left the stage and quit.
Star Jones was so stunned when her contract was not renewed she went out and hired the REAL woman who was portrayed on the television series Scandal and they devised a plan where Star actually announces her departure without telling anyone she is doing it while at the same time People magazine comes on the stand with a story about her departure.
Barbara Walters while an icon, always seemed to start the chaos but always made sure someone else took the blame for it.  As she neared her retirement from the show she began to get a bit confused and after one particular segment about Jenny McCarthy who was sitting next to her asked McCarthy who Jenny McCarthy was.
Filled will stories and dirt some which had been rumored over the years and some which had been deeply buried Setoodeh had access to most of the hosts throughout the years as well as the producers and staff.  This tell-all is a real tell all!
I highly recommend it!

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue is a love story between Alex, the President of the United States and Henry, the grandchild of the Queen of England. Although their first introductions were anything but cordial, and could have even been considered antagonistic, when pictures of them in what looks to be a physical fight come to light, both countries public relations departments intervene and push them both into situations to make them look as if they are best friends.

Soon, they do become more than friends and begin a secret relationship which if found out could destroy the relationships of both countries. And Alex’s mother is up for reelection against and very conservative opponent.

This was a very cute, funny romantic story, and how both Alex and Henry and their families learn lessons of love and trust and what is most important.

Thank for #NetGalley #St. Martin’s Press #Red, White & Royal Blue #Casey Quiston for the advanced copy. The book will be out May 14.

Summer under the Stars by Catherine Ferguson

Daisy and Toby are a couple. Although opposites in just about everything, and Toby seeming to be more focused on work than Daisy, she still loves him. She especially loves Toby’s mom and his brood of all brothers. It has given her a sense of family every since her mother passed away rather quickly this past year.

Daisy, who was adopted, had a wonderful childhood with a father and mother who adored her. With the loss of her mother life has been very difficult as she was her best cheerleader when it came to her writing career and a book she had been working on forever. Unsure of her next choices and feeling insecure about everything Daisy realizes she is at a crossroad in her life.

So when Toby’s 30th birthday rolls around and Daisy finds herself with a little extra money, she decides to book them a romantic getaway at her friends “glamping” camp. Daisy feels this will be exactly what she and Toby need to rekindle their love. But also, Daisy has recently found out that her biological mother may have come from the next town over.

Unfortunately Toby does not appreciate the outdoor life and the bugs, etc. and decides he needs to work and sets off to an office nearby leaving Daisy alone most days to hike and ponder her life. And of course it is there she meets Jake, a handsome, strapping camper who is very mysterious. She also decides to pursue finding her biological mother, although she is conflicted as to what her mom would think.

Hence, chaos ensues and things are not always as they seem. This is a very sweet, feel-good love story with a few surprises thrown in and of course a very satisfying happy ending.

Thank you #NetGalley #Avon Books #Summer under the Stars #Catherine Ferguson for the advanced copy. The book will be out on May 13.