The World We Knew – Alice Hoffman

Five stars for sure. This was a beautiful book. Even throughout reading about the brutality of the era, unconditional love, loyalty, and bonds between those in need were evident. World War II was a horrific time. Horrible things happened. This book will be hard to read for some.

The magical realism is well represented and a genre that I have never explored. I had to stop and research a lot of the book, but I learned a great deal in doing so.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone, although it will no be for everyone.

I would like to thank Netgalley, Simon & Schuster and Alice Hoffman for an opportunity to read this ebook in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.

Hoffman’s work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay “Independence Day” a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Wiest. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and other magazines. Her teen novel Aquamarine was recently made into a film starring Emma Roberts.


Lock Every Door – Riley Sager

My grandmother always told me when I was a teenager “Be careful what you wish for, little girl”.  Jules Larsen would have been better off heeding that advice. 

Jules is broke, brokenhearted due to losing her job (laid off) and losing her boyfriend, (infidelity with a student).  She moves out and into her best friend Chloe’s apartment while she is job hunting.  An ad comes up on Craigslist that is too good to be true.  An apartment sitting job at the luxurious and infamous Bartholomew in Manhattan.  The salary is very generous and since Jules does not have much money, she calls for an interview.  After an interview, she is hired.  Strict rules are, she must spend every night in the apartment, have no visitors and not bother the other residents. 

After meeting another apartment sitter in the apartment directly below hers, she finds that Ingrid has been there a while longer and is afraid of things that might be happening at the Bartholomew.

Jules and Ingrid start to delve into the history of the Bartholomew and the very dark past.  Many events took place which I will not go into detail about.  The results of their investigation are grisly. I don’t want to say anymore for fear of revealing spoilers. 

I did enjoy this book.  It was a quick and a light read for me and did keep me turning the pages into the late night.  The only reason for the 4 **** stars as opposed to 5 ***** stars is the lack of relationship development, especially between Jules and Ingrid.  It felt rushed to me.  However, I know many people will enjoy this book and I hope you do. 

My thanks to NetGalley, the Publisher and Mr. Sager for providing an arc of this ebook in exchange for my honest opinion, which are all mine.


Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk

This wonderful book is based on the life of Margaret Fishback, the renowned chief copywriter at Macy’s Department Store, as well as a poet. Ms. Fishback was a woman way before her time. She stated publicly that she did not need a husband to have a full life and then commenced to show the world.

This fiction book based on her life takes place on the last day of 1984. Mr. Boxfish is 85 years old. She had always been a zealous walker. So she sets off on her walk through Manhattan. She encounters many people on her New Year’s Eve walk while recalling a long and eventful life. Her career was cut short by her marriage, divorce and eventually a breakdown.

New York City, is and always has been, on my bucket list, and I am hopeful I will make it there someday. This remarkable book gave me a glimpse of NYC, specifically the Manhattan of yesterday and today.


The Elegance Of The Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

This book was not an easy read for me. I read it a few years ago after a recommendation from a good friend. Thank you Philip Butcher (RIP). ]

I used Wikipedia and the Dictionary often. I started to give up on it, but kept on plugging. I’m so glad I did. Not only did I learn a lot from this book that I didn’t know, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.

Renee’ is a chubby, cranky concierge in an elegant apartment building in the middle of Paris. She witnesses everyday, the opulent lifestyles of the residences. She goes about her business begrudgingly. What nobody knows is that Renee’ is an autodidact who loves all the good things in life and is well versed on same.

Then there’s Paloma, a 12 year old genius who lives in the apartments with her father who is a Parliamentarian . She has a grisly plan. She will end her life on the 16th of June, which will be her 16th birthday. Until that date, she will continue on with her life as usual.

Next is the wealthy Japanese gentleman, Mr. Ozu. He manages to connect with both Paloma and Renee’. I will end my review here so as not to give away too much in case anyone wants to read it.

This book was at time funny and sometimes sad. IMHO, Mr. Ozu was the least credible.

Muriel Barbery (born 28 May 1969) is a French novelist and professor of philosophy.


Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

I’m really late to review this book. I thought I had already written the review but I can’t find it. Anyway, here it is.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier. Ms. Hillier has written a completely engrossing psychological thriller. I couldn’t put this book down.

It centers around 3 friends, Angela, Georgina, and Kaiser, Angela was a victim of murder and wasn’t found for 16 years. Georgina, Geo for short, is involved somehow. Kaiser is a police detective who finds the murderer, one Calvin James. Case closed? Not yet. It seems that Geo was intimately involved with Calvin and has knowledge about the murder that she has kept a secret all these years. More bodies start turning up and the plot thickens.

Jar of Hearts is a tale of friendship, secrecy, obsession and ultimately murder. Unputdownable for me. Loved it.


Afternoon of a Faun by James Lasdun

I enjoyed this book. I can say that it probably won’t be on my top reads for 2019 but I do recommend it. The book opens and introduces Marco Rosedale, a self-centered English man now living in New York City. He had enjoyed some notoriety in the past but was not currently in the mainstream. Next comes a journalist from a national magazine called The Messenger who sent Marco a message through Twitter that he urgently needed to talk with him. From that point forward, “The Ordeal”, as Marco called it, sprouted wings. It seems that an old girlfriend of Marco’s, Julia Gault, was in the process of writing a memoir and Marco was in it. Not in a complimentary manner. While the excerpt strangely painted Marco in a favorable light, at the same time Julia reported that Marco had raped her after a drunken night sometime in the ’70s. The 1970s was a decadent time for Marco and he did admit his morals were loose. Marco admitted knowing Julia but didn’t remember having any meaningful relationship with her. The narrator of this book, who is never named, is a friend of Marco that is also a transplant from England to New York City. He becomes Marco’s confidante during “The Ordeal”.Julia, it seems of late was down on her luck and needed money. Marco suspected that her motive to report an event that never happened must have been from this need. She had been a media star at one point, but that train had left the station. The story unfolds from there. There is a girlfriend and a daughter that Marco desperately endeavors to keep “The Ordeal” a secret from. We don’t get to really get to know them. Nor do we get to know the daughter’s lesbian girlfriend. I can’t say that I particularly liked any of the characters. Particularly Marco. His friend and confidante served only as the narrator of the story. His personal feelings for “the Ordeal” were mostly neutral. I will not say anymore. I hate spoilers so I won’t reveal anymore. I do recommend it.


The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out

This was a beautifully written book. I felt very close to all the characters and could feel their emotions. Bill Dameron is a middle-aged man, who finally comes “out of the closet”. He has a wife and 2 beautiful children which he adores. Try as he might, he cannot suppress his true feelings. This book takes us on Bill’s journey to finally face his true self and then the revelation of the truth to his family and friends. 

Bill knew at a young age that he was gay, but society was not accepting of alternate lifestyles. He marries, has children and tries to suppress his true character. I felt much emotion as I traveled with Bill and felt the pressure and the pain he felt, as well as, the sadness that his wife experienced. The children were equally affected when their father revealed what he had been hiding for all these years. Many emotions were portrayed before Bill finally found his peace. The prose in this book is stunning. 

In conclusion, no matter what your stance is on or alternate lifestyles, this book is just beautiful. I cried and felt the pain of everyone involved.

Thanks, NetGalley for providing this book in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own. (less)

William Dameron is an award winning blogger, memoirist, and essayist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Salon, The Huffington post, and in the book, Fashionably Late: Gay, Bi and Trans Men Who Came Out Later in Life. He is an IT Director for a global economic consulting firm, where he educates users on the perils of social engineering in cybersecurity. William, his husband, and blended family of five children split their time between Boston and the coast of southern Maine. His book, The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out is forthcoming from Little A books in July of 2019. (less)