Review: Still Here

Still Here: A Novel by [Vapnyar, Lara]



A profound and dazzlingly entertaining novel from the writer Louis Menand calls “Jane Austen with a Russian soul”.

In her warm, absorbing and keenly observed new novel, Lara Vapnyar follows the intertwined lives of four immigrants in New York City as they grapple with love and tumult, the challenges of a new home, and the absurdities of the digital age.

Vica, Vadik, Sergey and Regina met in Russia in their school days, but remained in touch and now have very different American lives. Sergey cycles through jobs as an analyst, hoping his idea for an app will finally bring him success. His wife Vica, a medical technician struggling to keep her family afloat, hunger for a better life. Sergey’s former girlfriend Regina, once a famous translator is married to a wealthy startup owner, spends her days at home grieving over a recent loss. Sergey’s best friend Vadik, a programmer ever in search of perfection, keeps trying on different women and different neighborhoods, all while pining for the one who got away.

As Sergey develops his app—calling it “Virtual Grave,” a program to preserve a person’s online presence after death—a formidable debate begins in the group, spurring questions about the changing perception of death in the modern world and the future of our virtual selves. How do our online personas define us in our daily lives, and what will they say about us when we’re gone?

Rating: 5 stars


Still Here by Lara Vapnyar is an astounding novel. Readers will be instantly hooked upon opening the book. This read offers a realistic and a deep emotional journey. One that has a way of powerfully knocking readers off their feet. The cast of characters come in an array of differences. Each one with their own journey that they struggle to overcome. Grief, stability, and an endless search. I was easily able to connect with each of the characters. Their lives were created in a way that is beyond believable. Emotions such as frustration, sorrow, and determination are felt as readers weaved through the pages.

Inside Lara Vapnyar’s novel, I have met individuals in the busy city of New York. The toughest place to settle and make a living. Yet these four immigrants do exactly that. Settled, worked, and loved in the one city that can make or break people. Still Here showed that a group of friends supported one another through their tough and troubling times. Entertaining, quirky, and smart. I enjoyed reading this tale as well as having followed the four friends as their new lives progressed. Overall, I recommend it to readers everywhere.




Review: Charmingly Yours



For Rosemary Reynolds, life in tiny Morning Glory, Mississippi, is just like the fabric store she runs: it seems she’s always waiting around for someone else to make the first stitch. Then a dear childhood friend passes away, leaving behind a gift that sends Rosemary on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Despite her mother’s protests, Rosemary heads to New York City for a stay in her cousin’s trendy SoHo loft. On her first day in town, a wrong turn leads her to Little Italy…and into the arms of handsome, outgoing Sal Genovese. Sal’s mother wants him to marry a longtime family friend, but to him, Rosemary is a breath of fresh country air, and he’s happy to show her a good time. Soon, Rosemary is swept up in a world she thought only existed in movies. To turn a two-week fling into a forever thing, she and Sal will have to make every moment count.

Rating: 5 stars


Charmingly Yours by Liz Talley is extraordinary. A novel about a group of close friends that are attending a funeral for a friend they just lost. Their best friend has written them a letter before she died, giving them a task of things she wants them to do and also provides them the ways in order to get the items  done. For each thing they accomplish, they must add a charm to their friend’s charm bracelet. After each woman gets her individual letter, they read it alone. This tale then focuses on one of the remaining friends. Rosemary Reynolds. She is a super sweet, polite, and always the good girl. Her mother mostly tries to keep her daughter in a bubble wrap world where nothing that the mom likes can change or hurt her daughter.

However, Rosemary Reynolds is a much tougher and sassier lady then all give her credit for…she goes to New York to have a little fun and to let loose before heading back home to her southern town.  While in New York, Rosemary happens to run into a super sexy, funny, and great man. A man who instantly finds himself hopelessly falling in love, with her. Both hang out and soon the sparks are flying everywhere. What started out as a new friendship…soon turns out to be much hotter and sexier than originally planned. Hearts are on the line. Sal lives in New York working at his parents’ restaurant and Rosemary is only visiting for a short time…when the time comes will Sal choose Rosemary or will he choose to live a life his parents want for him? Charmingly Yours is by far the most amazing novel ever. I laughed and cried so hard.  The friends are so close to one another that it’s like I’m one of them the group. They instantly pull me into the journey and I loved every moment of it. Liz Talley is a superb writer. I think of the last time I felt such strong emotions at such an early point in any one novel until I read this one. It truly blew me away. Overall, I highly recommend this novel to readers worldwide, and I look forward to reading the second novel in this series.

Review: Murder in Morningside Heights



After spending his first few weeks as a private detective by investigating infidelities of the wealthy, Frank has a more serious case at hand.

Abigail Northrup of Tarrytown, New York, was her parents’ pride and joy. After graduating from a prestigious women’s college in Morningside Heights, she took a job there as an instructor. She also joined the ranks of the New Women, ladies planning for a life without a husband in which they make their own decisions and make a difference in the world. Unfortunately, her murder ended all that.

When the police declare the incident a random attack and refuse to investigate further, Abigail’s parents request Frank’s help. Of course, he’ll need Sarah’s assistance as she’s more familiar with the world of academia, and it will be far easier for her to interview the lady professors. Yet difficulties arise as they learn that although Miss Northrup may have been an exemplary student and teacher, she lived in a world of secrets and lies…

Rating: 5 stars


Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson is the first novel I have read by this talented writer. This mystery thriller suspense tale took me deep into the heart of New York City. There I got to meet an amazing couple. Known as Frank Malloy and his wife Sarah. Together these two make an irresistible pair that works well for this story. Frank Malloy was with the police but now is a detective with his own agency. His wife Sarah helped him pick the name of the agency. It’s this agency that suddenly gets a case that will intrigue the couple and readers like myself.  Victoria Thompson took me on a case that involved a woman of high academia and one that supposedly announced that women don’t need a husband to be successful. But as with all cases the person being investigated is usually far from what they actually are.

Victoria Thompson’s latest novel brought a high scandalous read that intrigued me from the beginning. I was instantly hooked.  Murder in Morningside Heights lured me back in time when women thought they need not a husband and can make their own decisions. One such woman who believed in this was found murdered. Suspense from this plot created so many what ifs and lead me on a chase to find the killer. Both Frank and his wife are an interesting couple. Their personalities make them suited for one another and for working together on such cases as this one. Imagine being in New York city surround by a society that is high maintenance, secrets, and lies. I loved reading this…I felt sucked into a whole new society where adventure and danger come hand in hand. Powerful themes and intricate scenes that dragged me into the great mystery. Overall, I would highly recommend this title to readers everywhere.


Book Review: Schism by Armando Minutoli

Schism by Armando Minutoli is a fascinating novel unlike many others. It drives readers deep into a unique plot that takes them back to a time and different places with two characters whose cultures differ. I couldn’t believe how incredible this story was until after I started reading it. It’s the kind that is complex, full of adventure and leaves you thinking deep about everything. Once I began reading it, I couldn’t stop until I reached the ending. Readers will love this novel by this talented writer just as much as I did.

Schism, at first glance, may not seem like the novel readers are lured into reading. But, despite it’s title, Schism, is a very powerful read. It has a plot that has drama, adventure, action, and  much more.  It’s like a super novel, it comes with a little bit of everything. There are flashbacks in this novel so, if you’re a reader who doesn’t like flashbacks from characters then this might not be for you. But, I still highly recommend you to try it out because the characters are realistic and the story will tug you in like no other. Armando Minutoli’s words leave readers with a sense of what real faith is like. Evil may lurk everywhere and if there is a God then why does he let such horrible things happen? These questions and many more are not only told but shown to readers in an entertaining way. A way that gives readers a first seat glimpse into it all. So, the real question is… are you prepared for an adventure of a lifetime? If so, read this and enjoy!

Tony Romero is one of the two characters in this brilliantly well-written novel. Right away readers feel a tug towards Tony. I felt sympathy toward a man who thinks he lost everything, including God. Now, that is the hook that lures readers in right away… and makes us want to read further. I did. Tony, even though he made failures, was the kind of man who rushed to save a little girl whose parents didn’t know was in danger… Now, Tony’s life hangs in the balance. Will he make it or will he be lost to the world he knows?  His journey of faith with Obe leads hims into becoming a changed person. Readers will cry, laugh, and be amazed at this remarkable novel. Armando Minutoli has created a beautiful story that should be shared with the world and readers everywhere. It’s the kind one wants to read again and again. Overall, I rate Schism a five out of five stars.