The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver Publisher: Ballantine Books Length: 369 pages Genre: Contemporary, Romance Format: Hardcover (purchased through Book of the Month) Release Date: March 3, 2020
Synopsis: Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade, and Lydia thought their love was indestructible.
But she was wrong. On her twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.
So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life–and perhaps even love–again.
But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.
Lydia is pulled again and again across the doorway of her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.
My Thoughts: When Josie Silver’s new book The Two Lives of Lydia Bird became available for purchase, I immediately picked it up! I loved reading her debut novel One Day in December, and I was ready to enjoy another tale revolving around friendship and romance while enduring life experiences!
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird begins with loss–Lydia Bird is struggling to live without her fiance Freddie Hunter, who was killed in a car accident. One evening, Lydia discovers that she can enter a world in which Freddie still exists. The story then takes us through Lydia’s life as she lives between these two worlds. The grieving process of losing a loved on can be extremely difficult and painful, yet Lydia’s grieving is placed on pause as she continues (in a sense) to have a life with Freddie. Both worlds are vastly different, and Lydia struggles to gain a sense of who she is as an individual throughout the experience.
Lydia is also struggling to repair her friendship with Jonah Jones. Jonah is both Lydia’s lifelong friend and Freddie’s closest companion. Since Jonah was with Freddie at the time of his death, he is also enduring his own grief as he continues life without him. Both Lydia and Freddie are also grieving the loss of the bond they shared throughout their lives. They make attempts to repair the bond they previously shared, yet the personal tie to Freddie makes things doubly complicated!
There is also a delightful cast of characters in this story, as Lydia’s family and co-workers ensure that she is not alone while navigating the grieving process. There are some unexpected turns in this tale, and Lydia faces some difficult lessons while learning to discover what she truly wants for herself!
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a wonderful story of a woman seeking to find her true self while navigating the stages of grief. It is a great depiction of Lydia’s desire of wanting her fiance to be remembered, while rediscovering the meaning of life. I highly recommend it!
I read The Light We Lost on by Jill Santopolo. I purchased this book through Audible. This is a love story set in New York City. I’m always drawn to books set in New York, and it was fun to recall certain landmarks like Columbia University (I used to work by Columbia for a few years). I found the characters to be very self-absorbed, I enjoyed reading the story.
I also read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I alternated reading this story through physical copy and audiobook (also purchased through Audible). This story is a coming of age novel filled with characters struggling to understand each other despite racial and cultural differences. I will post a review for this book shortly!
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo Format: Audiobook (purchased through Audible) Length: 7 hrs 16 mins Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group Genre: Romance/Contemporary Release Date: 2017
Synopsis: He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?
Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.
Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.
My Thoughts: In case you didn’t know already, I love stories set in New York City, so when I first heard about Jill Santopolo’s debut novel The Light We Lost, I immediately wanted to grab and read it! Although the novel is set in a genre that I normally wouldn’t gravitate towards, I’m trying to broaden my horizons and be open to different styles of books.
This is a love story about Lucy Carter and Gabe Samson, two young Columbia University students who meet on September 11, 2001. Anyone who’s lived and worked in NYC on this day knows the immense tragedy this day holds, and for both Lucy and Gabe, the events mold the people they would become throughout the years.
Gabe and Lucy have a whirlwind romance that sadly ends, yet they continue to stay intertwined within each other’s lives. Both Lucy and Gabe have successful careers and budding adult lives, yet there is an invisible pull that keeps the communication alive.
This novel is told in the second person, with Lucy speaking to Gabe throughout the book. This style opens up their lives for the reader, revealing secrets and desires that both people hold. We also receive an inside look at the other people who are close in Lucy’s life, and how they influence her path as time moves on.
The one thing I felt about this novel is that all the characters hold a strong degree of selfishness. Both Gabe’s and Lucy’s desires overrule the sensible choices that would be best for them. Even when they welcome other intimate relationships, there’s that degree of ‘what if?” that constantly hangs over them. Tragedy and love can spark strong emotions in people, and Lucy and Gabe both hold onto the memory of their young love desperately.
Despite this small setback, I truly appreciated the message that Jill Santopolo conveyed in The Light We Lost: holding onto true love is powerful, and leaves a strong mark on one’s soul long after the relationship is over. It tells us to value the moments and friends we have in our lives while they are still present, since life can change in an instant.
This week, I’m reading There, There by Tommy Orange. It’s a selection for my local library’s book club. There, There speaks about a group of Native Americans gathering together for a pow-wow. It’s a multiple perspective novel, and I feel like there’s going to be a lot of emotions flowing throughout the story. I’ve only read the first few pages, in which it speaks about the his of Native Americans the moment the Europeans set foot in Massachusetts. Many facts are confronted!
I was going to write a July reading wrap-up, but the books I read were all part of The Reading Rush, and I wrote my thoughts on those amazing stories already! So, here is a post about the new book releases happening this month.
House of Salt and Sorrows is Erin Craig’s debut novel. It is a fairy tale retelling of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’, centering around a young woman set in unraveling the mystery of her family’s immense bad luck. I received a copy through Netgalley a few months ago, and I absolutely enjoyed it!
The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre is a tale of obsession and control, as a woman sets out to solve her harrowing situation of being a prisoner in her own home. This story truly sounds like an intense read!
The Birthday Girl tells the story of Ellie, a woman celebrating her 40th birthday with family and friends. While she achieved great success in her life, there are skeletons in her closet that threaten to reveal itself.
Because You’re Mine by Rea Frey centers around a hard-working single mom named Lee, who leaves her son with a trusted tutor for a much deserved weekend away. A couple days later, someone is found dead, and secrets begin to unravel among Lee’s trusted friends. It definately sounds like a page-turner!
Color Me In is a story of finding one’s identity in the aftermath of divorce. Neveah Levitz moves to her mother’s childhood home in Harlem, where she confronts hostility and misunderstandings about her biracial identity. I also received this book through NetGalley, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on this story soon!
Although it’s now the beginning of July, here are some of the book releases that are happening this month. I’m very excited to see these selections!
I’m so excited for this story, since it’s set in one of my favorite areas in New York City. When I lived in New York for seven years, I used to hang around the Chelsea neighborhood often. Although it’s set between the 40s and 60s, I feel like I’m going to enjoy learning about the rich history that New York City contains during this period.
Synopsis (From Goodreads):
From the dramatic redbrick facade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City’s creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home—a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for Communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine’s Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom.
Spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, The Chelsea Girls deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism, the complicated bonds of female friendship, and the siren call of the uninhibited Chelsea Hotel.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died and
she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later,
she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy
single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless
servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies.
But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel
and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother, Harry, home from the
wars with Napoleon. Gil has come to help his friend and junior officer recover,
and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to–secretly because of his
own humble beginnings.
If at first Gil and Abigail seem to embody what the other most despises, each
will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the
appearances of the once-grand lady and the once-humble man are two people who
share an understanding of what true honor means, and how only with it can one
This book is written by the same author who published The Proposal, a Reese Witherspoon book club pick. It was also on Book of the Month a while back. While I wasn’t immediately gravitated toward The Proposal, I appreciate books that feature women living life on her own terms. I’m very curious in seeing how The Wedding Party fares, especially since I’m currently planning my own wedding!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Maddie and Theo have two things
1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other
After an “oops, we made a mistake” night together, neither one can stop
thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and
Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction
with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they
toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until
they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa
isn’t looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s
suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses,
they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different
can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?
But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must
be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
Nina considers her options. 1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee). 3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
It’s been seventeen years since the tragic summer the McAvoy sisters fell apart. Lindy, the wild one, left home, carved out a new life in the city and never looked back. Delia, the sister who stayed, became a mother herself, raising her daughters and running the family shop in their small Ohio hometown on the shores of Lake Erie.
But now, with their mother’s ailing health and a rebellious teenager to rein in, Delia has no choice but to welcome Lindy home. As the two sisters try to put their family back in order, they finally have the chance to reclaim what’s been lost over the years: for Delia, professional dreams and a happy marriage, and for Lindy, a sense of home and an old flame—and best of all, each other. But when one turbulent night leads to a shocking revelation, the women must face the past they’ve avoided for a decade. And there’s nothing like an old secret to bring the McAvoy women back together and stronger than ever.
With warm affection and wry wit, Molly Fader’s The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is about the ties that bind family and the power of secrets to hold us back or set us free.
Synopsis (from Amazon):
Maybe you don’t know your neighbors as well as you thought you did . . . “This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much. . . My son broke into your home recently while you were out.”
In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses–and into the owners’ computers as well–learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.
Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?
In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide . . .
My passion for writing and poetry stems from my years in training as a Poetry Therapy Practitioner in iaPOETRY, based in New York City. iaPOETRY (International Academy for Poetry Therapy) is a strong and supportive network of teachers and clinicians founded by Lila Weisberger (now headed by Jill Teague and Geraldine Campbell). I trained as a Poetry Therapy Practitioner from 2004-2011. Since my start in the organization 15 years ago, Lila and her supportive community paved my way in becoming a strong writer and poet. They’ve shared some valuable reading material throughout my journey in Poetry Therapy. These are just some of the books that hold a special place in my heart.
My first conversation with Lila Weisberger was over the phone in early 2004. During that first discussion, she shared with me the value of John Fox’s book for implementing poetry as a creative healing tool. Fox describes many ways to build your words with creativity and expression. There are many exercises in the book that allows people to use everyday items in your home and work setting to express your thoughts.
This book serves as a useful tool for writers/poets who wish to learn new techniques on their craft. Using her own experiences in the writing process, Lamott provides the reader multiple exercises in applying brainstorming and free writing in order to flesh out a first draft for a book and/or a collection of poetry. I appreciated the advice that a draft is a document that can always be edited later. I could greatly relate to the advice in marketing yourself…that the process of marketing is a job in itself. My first collection of poetry (A Blossoming Journey) was through a self-publishing company, and getting your work out there is truly a process you must take on yourself. As overwhelming as it seems, I continue to push along and create. The most important thing to do, first and foremost, is to write!
Many of my poetry therapy colleagues apply Thich Nhat Hanh’s wisdom in achieving peace and mindfulness, yet I picked up one of his books for the first time 5 years ago. During this time, I lost my job in New York, then my apartment a couple months later (no money=no lease renewal). I moved back to New Jersey with relatives, feeling very frustrated about my life journey at that stage. It was at that point when I picked up Thich Nhat Hanh and took in his valuable advice for the soul. The words in Anger served as a soothing balm for my soul. My hurt feelings didn’t dissipate overnight, yet Thich Nhat Hanh allowed me to breathe, to think about what I really needed to guide my soul to heal.
10 years ago, my mother passed away from heart failure. This was no doubt the darkest moment of my life. Along with my family, my poetry therapy community was there to guide me through this difficult time. While working my way through the grieving process, some dear colleagues recommended that I read Motherless Daughters as a healing tool. This book was just what I needed in that rough time, as Edelman shared story after story of women enduring the heartbreak of losing their mothers. The pain from losing my mother never truly fades, yet reading Motherless Daughters (along with a strong support system) helped me move through this difficult stage in my life.
Still I Rise is part of this memorable poetry collection by Maya Angelou. I first became aware of its powerful message while training in Poetry Therapy. Maya Angelou is a powerful poet and storyteller. She endured so much trauma throughout her life, yet she persevered in sharing her story with an unflinching voice as an African-American woman who created rich tales and poems to empower others. I came across Still I Rise in my studies several years ago, and I loved the strong voice it contains. Angelou’s message comes from triumph in the midst of chaos. Despite slander and hate, Maya Angelou kept moving forward in her life. I turned to Still I Rise last year, since I was going through a very rough period in my life. This particular poem helped me out in life immensely.
There are many more books that I discovered in my studies as a Poetry Therapy Practitioner, but these few were instrumental in my creative growth. Along with the guidance of my wonderful community, these books helped shine a light in my journey as a poet and writer. I will forever be thankful to my iaPOETRY community.
This wrap-up is very underwhelming, since I only completed two books this month. I very much wanted to read sooo much more (I was looking forward to reading Lisa See this month!), but June has been a stressful mess of job transitions and wedding planning. The drama of these two factors have not lessened by any means, so I’m thrilled that I completed reading anything! My poetry page was also pretty dismal this month. I can count the number of poems written this month on one hand. Stress really does a number on creativity!
I read one Children’s Literature book, and one Adult novel. Both books are fictional works. The genres were Middle Grade and Historical Fiction.
I received Time After Time through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved reading this story centered within a slice of New York City life in the midst of tension and tragedy. Throughout the story, Joe and Nora navigate their relationship while enduring the effects of World War II. Since I enjoy reading anything involving New York City, I dove right in. Even though this novel was set in the 1930s, it brought back memories of me travelling through Manhattan and The Bronx while living there. Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis (from Goodreads): On a clear December morning in 1937, at the famous gold clock in Grand Central Terminal, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man from Queens, meets a vibrant young woman who seems mysteriously out of place. Nora Lansing is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing, pearl earrings, and talk of the Roaring Twenties don’t seem to match the bleak mood of Depression-era New York. Captivated by Nora from her first electric touch, Joe despairs when he tries to walk her home and she disappears. Finding her again—and again—will become the focus of his love and his life.
Nora, an aspiring artist and fiercely independent, is shocked to find she’s somehow been trapped, her presence in the terminal governed by rules she cannot fathom. It isn’t until she meets Joe that she begins to understand the effect that time is having on her, and the possible connections to the workings of Grand Central and the solar phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below.
As thousands of visitors pass under the famous celestial blue ceiling each day, Joe and Nora create a life unlike any they could have imagined. With infinite love in a finite space, they take full advantage of the “Terminal City” within a city, dining at the Oyster Bar, visiting the Whispering Gallery, and making a home at the Biltmore Hotel. But when the construction of another landmark threatens their future, Nora and Joe are forced to test the limits of freedom and love.
Delving into Grand Central Terminal’s rich past, Lisa Grunwald crafts a masterful historical novel about a love affair that defies age, class, place, and even time.
I fell in love with Wish the moment I viewed the cover. Who doesn’t love a deep bond between a child and her furry friend? In the novel, Charlie is struggling to come to terms with being removed from her dysfunctional family, living with her loving aunt and uncle in Colby, North Carolina. As Charlie reluctantly endures daily life within a quiet community, she slowly realizes that ‘Home’ can be discovered in the most unlikeliest of areas. This book also tackles the uncomfortable topic of neglect in a tasteful manner for younger audiences. Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.
It’s amazing that 2019 is halfway through! I’ve been seeing this tag circulate throughout June, and I’m glad that I’m finally taking part in it. I see this as a way to relieve wedding planning stress lol! I came across this book tag through Adventures of a Bibliophile‘s page.
Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2019 I really enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I read the audiobook version of this story, and it was absolutely amazing. It felt like I was listening to an actual band’s rise and fall in history. The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faraqi was a close second in favorite reads thus far.
Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019 I haven’t really read through a sequel yet! I’m currently in progress of reading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. So far I’m enjoying it!
Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half of the Year I can’t wait to read A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney. I really love reading Alice in Wonderland reboots, and A Blade So Black was a lovely modern take on a classic story. The book features a strong, African-American character as Alice, which is very empowering.
Biggest Disappointment I wasn’t particularly into Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. As much as it was refreshing to discover Nikolai, I found the story as mostly filler.
Biggest Surprise Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. I was pleasantly surprised in discovering how good this story was! The message of female empowerment in the face of a patriarchal society came through clearly.
Newest Fictional Crush I would say that Joe Reynolds from Time After Time was very intriguing to learn about! He was hard-working and passionate at the same time, and that always wins me over.
Newest Favorite Character Addison Hatta in A Blade So Black. He was a super cool individual!
Book That Made You Cry Daisy Jones and the Six. The last hour of the story was heartbreaking!
Book That Made You Happy Wish by Barbara O’Connor. It was so endearing, and the dog/child bond was adorable!
Favorite Book to Film Adaptation Honestly, I haven’t watched too many book to film programs this year. I heard that Good Omens is amazing to watch on Amazon Prime, so I should catch an episode of that series.
Favorite Post You Have Done This Year I would say that the post about ‘The First Book Series I Read’ was one that I really liked writing about. I love all the posts I’ve worked on, but I enjoyed looking back on what I read when I was younger!
Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau-Preto. I received it through OwlCrate a couple months ago.
What Books Do You Need To Read By the End of the Year Definitely A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney, and Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan. I’m looking forward to reading The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See as well.