Renia’s Diary: A Holocaust Journal by Renia Spiegel

41dUXGByU2L._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_Renia Spiegel was born in Poland and at the age of 18 died by a gunshot to the head for being Jewish.  She died a victim of the Holocaust.  Between the ages of 15 to 18, Renia kept a diary.  It took over 50 years for her 700 pages of diary to find its way to her sister Ariana (Elizabeth as she is now known as). And now it has found its way to us.

In her diary Renia not only chronicles her struggles, but the helplessness of her family and friends who endured as well.  Renia kept a record of her daily activities, going to school, arguments with friends, parties, types of stories written by any teenager, but she also kept her deepest secrets, her thoughts, her prayers, her loves, her fears and her dreams for the future in there as well. She called her diary her best friend.

She chronicles the beginning of the German’s and Russian’s taking over Poland.  She writes about her mother who is in Warsaw and is unable to be with her.  She heartbreakingly to ends her passages with words to her mother. She desperately held on to thoughts of seeing her again and hoping she was still alive. She writes about her one and only love Zygmund.  In one passage she dreams of having children with her future husband and how God has been so good to her.  She is such an old soul who witnessed horror no one. let alone a child should see and hear.

Renia writes about hearing gunshots outside and knowing someone has died, of hearing bombs, of her house being raided by the Nazi’s and her grandfather paying them off to give them a little more time…

Her diary is also filled with beautiful poems. She wrote incredible prose for such a young age they could rival any adult author’s compositions of today.

Her words are so profound and meaningful.  One can only wonder who Renia would have become if she had lived.  I must say I was honored to read this diary which I believe is an incredible historical document.

I am so grateful to #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #Renia’sDiary for the advanced copy.  The book will be out on September 24.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

untitledA truly heartbreaking story about two families whose lives are torn apart by a horrible incident.  It showcases the importance of receiving assistance for mental health as well as alcoholism.  Although the story takes place when these issues were not spoken about or even really understood, it speaks volumes as to what people went through years ago.  It also shows how the many current studies conclude these types of diseases could be hereditary.

When two young NYPD officers move their families into Gillum, a small city in New York, they had no reason to believe their family’s lives would forever be changed.  Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope were rookies when they both found themselves living on the same street.

Francis and his wife Lena had three girls, one named Kate.  Brian and his wife Anne had a son named Peter.  Kate and Peter were born six months apart.  They grew up being best friends until middle school when a tragic event occurred which not only changed both their lives, but separated them physically.  They were unable to see or talk to each other.

Years later, Peter and Kate make the decision to meet again and against all odds fall in love.  But can their love survive their families and the demons which both come back to haunt them as well as those which are discovered.  With so many secrets, will they be able to be strong enough to forgive and forgive each other.

Ask Again, Yes is an incredibly moving story in which the reader roots for the characters and yet feels their desperation when they stumble. I highly recommend it.

Thank you so much to Goodreads and Scribner for the free advanced copy.

Love on Lexington Avenue (The Central Park Pact) Book 2 by Lauren Layne

untitledIn the second installment of The Central Park Pact, Claire Hayes, whose husband died while cheating on her with at least two other women, who have since become her best friends, is ready to find not love, but “companionship”.

Claire takes a hard look at herself and her life and decides she is a “vanilla”, someone who is very boring and extremely predictable.  She is not one to take many chances.  She decides she want to be more like a “strawberry lemonade”, someone who sparkles and is unpredictable and a little looser.

Then she decides her Upper Eastside apartment needs a redo to wash away the memories of her late husband and there will be no dull or boring colors…all pinks!  Enter Scott Turner a very handsome highly acclaimed contractor and his dog Bob, (who is a girl).

Although they try to work amicably, Scott cannot wrap his head around Claire’s eccentric renovation ideas.  And as they begin to clash, sparks begin to fly just as Claire decides it’s time for her to step back into the dating world and experiment with one night stands, something which Scott is not exactly pleased about. But he doesn’t understand why.

Will Claire be able to change her boring ways? Will Scott be able to incorporate Claire’s pink themed demands? Will they be able to come to some sort of compromise?  What about those sparks! And…what about Bob?

Although Love on Lexington Avenue is the second in the series, and I have not read the first book, Layne nicely recaps the basics of the first book in the first few pages and catching up and understanding was easy.

The story is quite cute and funny and it kept me interested and highly entertained. I hope there is another installment.

Thank you to #NetGalley #GalleryBooks #LoveonLexingtonAvenue #LaurenLayne for the free advanced copy.  The book will be out on September 17.

The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre

untitledMarlena Altizer was born into poverty.  With a mother who was a drug addict, a long gone father and many siblings, her only dream was to get out of this horrible situation and make it big. Anyway she could.

Enter Michael Durst, a handsome, wealthy, New York businessman who takes a liking to Marlena.  Although she realizes he has been married twice before, and she quickly begins to understand Durst is very controlling and perhaps pathological in some ways, she feels as if she can handle him.

And at first she does, living the lifestyle of the rich and famous, attending parties, shopping, and enjoying the good life.  Until she is not.  And her life becomes unlivable. She begins to see a side of Durst he had kept hidden.  An evil, hateful, viscous side.  Marlena realizes she is more of a prisoner and a showpiece who is only there to assist Durst in his questionable business dealings.  He controls what she wears, what she eats, where she goes and even what she weighs. And to add to all this stress, Marlena, who is the third Mrs. Durst discovers the previous wives died when Durst became unhappy with them, and under very suspicious circumstances.

Unfortunately it seems she is unable to break herself free from her husband’s hold no matter how hard she tries.  The last time almost killing her.  So she decides the only way she can truly be done with him is to kill herself rather than live with him any longer.

The Third Mrs. Durst is a very dark psychological thriller with heart palpitating turns and an incredible ending to die for.

Thank you so much #NetGalley #MidnightInk #TheThirdMrs.Durst for the free advanced copy.

Carnegie Hill by Jonathan Vatner


When Penelope “Pepper” Bradford moves into an exclusive apartment complex with her fiancé Rick, she believes their love is so strong they will live happily ever after.  But when Rick’s “fidelity” choices prior to their wedding as well as other issues begin to way on Pepper’s mind, their relationship becomes far from happy. It actually turns destructive for both of them.

As Penelope integrates herself into the apartment complex she decides to join the co-op board to keep herself occupied.  She begins to make friends with some of her neighbors and what she uncovers is that no one has the perfect life.

Patricia, the president of the board whose decisions seem to be those all must agree with, has many issues with apartment applicants as well as with board members becoming too friendly with the apartment staff, although she herself does not need to follow her own rules.

Francis and Carol who have been married and arguing for over 50 years both must face life-changing health issues which they choose to handle differently.  Can their relationship survive?

Birdie and George, another elderly couple also face a marriage crisis.  George has been deeply depressed since his retirement and Birdie can’t seem to get him to do anything about it other than take pills.  She feels it may be time for her to move on and begin a new life.

Sergei and Caleb met working at Carnegie Hill and have fallen in love.  Sergei cannot fully allow his feelings for Caleb to be known.  Caleb wants to shout how happy he is from the rooftops.  When Caleb does something without thinking it out, can Sergei forgive him?

Pepper looks at her neighbor’s relationships and realizes she too has big decisions to make.  How can she become the person she wants to be without hurting the ones she loves.

I would say Carnegie Hill is an updated version of Peyton Place, for those old enough to remember the show which was filled with eccentric people and drama galore.

Carnegie Hill is a terrific story with much drama and many laughs.

Thank you #NetGalley #CarnegieHill #JonathanVatner #ThomasDunneBooks for the advanced copy.

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina Lamanna


When old college friends reunite after being estranged for years for one of their own’s wedding, it should be a very joyous, happy occasion.  But that certainly was not in the cards. A murder has been committed and it seems they have all confessed. But it can only be one of them.

These college friends who are now somewhat strangers to each other all believe the other’s lives are perfect.  But all is not as it seems.

The gathering includes Kate, who is fashion model beautiful, wealthy and does not have a care in the world, but unbeknownst to her friends is in the middle of a horrific mid-life crisis.

Emily is a preschool teacher who drinks a bit.  She had a falling out years ago with one of her college roommates which she has regretted for years.  She also regrets the secrets she has been keeping and how they have been eating away at her.

Ginger is now a harried mother of three.  She and her husband whom she met in college barely make ends meet.  Her teenage daughter will be the death of her if her two younger children don’t kill each other first.

Then there is Lula an elderly woman they meet and befriend at the wedding who has been married “a few” times.  She thinks her latest husband is cheating on her and she will go to great lengths to figure out if this is true.

So, back to the murder…why would they each risk all they have to go to prison.  How did this situation get so out of control? Who really committed the crime and why?

Some friendships, both old and new can be meaningful, dependable and supportive regardless of their length or their history. But when push comes to shove these women will do anything and everything to protect each other. This is the lesson they learned.

Quite the page turner, Pretty Guilty Women is cleverly told via the detective’s interrogation’s of the women and then we have the women’s back story chapters.  There is comic relief as well with of course a few shocking twists at the end.

Thank you #NetGalley #SourcebooksLandmark #PrettyGuiltyWomen #GinaLamanna for the advanced copy. It was terrific!