Blog Book Marks

June 2019 Book Marks

I’m in full garden mode and popping Claritin like it’s CBD-infused everything, I like to use my best cheap dab pen with this CBD-infuse, it makes me feel good! Pollen is in the air, the bees are buzzing and the flowers are starting to come into their own in all their colorful glory (dahlia lovers can nerd out at @leewoodruff instagram) There is nothing in life like the feeling of anticipation.  And that’s what June brings — the promise of all the summer days to come. We’re at the very beginning.  Hold that thought!

This month, in addition to gardening and making some beautiful cut arrangements (if I say so myself), I watched a giant snapping turtle cross and asphalt road and decide to lay her precious cargo just ten feet from where we were having dinner in the loose soil bed of a newly planted tree.  For more than 30 million years, these mothers have followed some genetic dictate to leave their ponds and find just the right habitat to lay their eggs.  Watch the fast forward video on my Instagram of this lady shooting eggs out like those air popped ping pong balls in a local news lottery drawing.

Summer is supposed to be synonymous with “slow down,” even if that isn’t possible all the time.  I’ve made a promise to myself that once a day I’ll pause, look around, focus in on a cloud moving across in the sky, a flower at my feet, whatever slice of nature I can ingest.  The outdoors are a healing place and the best cure I know for the anxiety and the hurry-up pace of our daily, digital lives.

And of course, reading a book is one of the best ways to put your head in another world.  You knew I was going to say that…..

Independent Bookstore Pick:

This months Indie Bookstore recommendation is “The Bookworm” in Bernardsville, New Jersey.  A number of book fans have recommended this beloved local favorite that has some of the best employee reviews and recommendations in the business.



City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Known for writing about strong, intelligent women who refuse to conform to what society dictates, Gilbert has once again given us a sassy protagonist who refuses to be a “good girl.” Young Vivian Morris has moved into a crumbling old New York theater with her Aunt Peg after being kicked out of Vassar.  And so begins the real education of 19-year-old Viv as she joins a colorful cast of 1940s theater characters, Showgirls, actors and writers full of glamor, sex and adventure.  When a scandal forces her to move home, Vivian takes a step back, only to re-enter the city with a new sense of autonomy and a conviction about how she wants to live and love.  And it’s then she meets the love of her life, which frees her to be exactly who she wants to be.  In true Gilbert style, the story swells and grows and you’re flipping pages and skipping meals and then…your heart sinks as you turn the last page and it’s over.  Keep ‘em coming Elizabeth!



Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Every so often a book comes around that makes you want to read every word and then re-read sentences.  Keane’s ability to balance a character driven plot with a solid story and taut, beautiful writing had me underlining phrases.  She is a gorgeous writer and the story begins with two NYC policeman, who end up living next to one another in a Westchester suburb.  Each are Irish and each have their own family secrets, but when their children become entangled in a friendship, the volatility of that relationship leads to a tragedy that sets each family on its own course of loss, love and ultimately reunion. Keane writes convincingly about the mundane, the intricacies of marriage, the power of blood and love and the things that stand the test of time.  In the end, this book is about forgiveness and what love grants us, not what it takes away.



More News Tomorrow by Susan Richards Shreve

The novel opens with the arrival of a letter on the morning of Georgia Grove’s 70th birthday, which rockets her back 66 years to the day her mother was murdered on a canoe trip in Wisconsin.  Her father had confessed to the crime and lived out his days in the state penitentiary, but there are mysteries and inconsistencies surrounding the confession and death that have both haunted Georgie and broken up  her family.

On the lead up to Obama’s election, a time of national optimism about race and prejudice, Georgie decides to return to the scene of her parents’ crime on Bone River, determined to uncover the truth.  The book toggles between two time periods, weaving in aspects of race, loss and the damage of family secrets between 1941, the year of her mother’s murder and 2008 when the country is about to elect a black man to the White House.



Girl in the Rearview Mirror by Kelsey Rae Dimberg

The Martin family of Phoeniz, Arizona are as glamorous as they are privileged.  Family patriarch Jim Martin is up for re-election in the Senate and his son, Philip, has long been known as Arizona’s golden boy.  He and his polished and cool wife, Marina, share one adorable daughter, Amabel.

Finn Hunt is a young, impressionable woman who decides to leave a boring office job and come be the nanny for this golden couple.  She’s intoxicated by the couple’s lifestyle, wealth, the gorgeous home and the feeling of being a trusted part of the family as she spends long hours with their daughter.

When Amabel complains that someone is following her, Finn at first brushes it off.  The family is distracted by the campaign and real estate business, but before long, a web of lies begins to emerge that will soon spill out and entangle everyone.



My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates

One of the most prolific writers of our generation, Oates turns her lens on how the role of family can be in conflict with the commitment to truth and justice.  At 12 years old, Violet Rue Kerrigan witnesses the murder of an African American boy and that sets the events of the book in motion.  During her testimony, she inadvertently “informs” on her brothers, which results in their arrest and conviction and then her own long estrangement.  Is telling the truth ever a mistake?  Is lying for your family ever justified?  This novel portrays life of banishment from family, siblings and the Church and the transformation Violet must make to break the spell and transform her own life.



A Philosophy of Ruin by Nicholas Mancusi

On a flight home from Hawaii, Oscar’s mother dies in the seat next to her husband.  To make matters worse, his parents have spent all of his future inheritance on a motivational guru, who has promised them eternal happiness.  And frankly, Oscar, a philosophy professor at a middling college, is not happy.  He has a one-night stand with a female student who is soon revealed to be the campus drug lord.  That liaison offers Oscar an opportunity to pull his family out of debt by drug running.  And that’s where the book takes a hairpin turn and shifts into high gear, ala Walter White in “Breaking Bad.”






Lee Woodruff     Speaker-Author-Executive Media Trainer