Tomatoes June Book Picks

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Here are three wonderful suggestions for your summer reading from our Tomato book reviewers. First up is Chita Rivera’s wonderfully entertaining memoir. Then there’s a page turner murder mystery with an intricate plot. And the third book us a novel that looks at life and marriage after the kids are gone,

An Inspiring Memoir about a Remarkable Women

Patrick Pacheco who wrote Chita Rivera’s memoir with her, was a panelist at our recent Renewal Summit. He had been urging Ms. Rivera to write her memoir for quite some time, but it took the pandemic to slow her down long enough to actually tell her story. And what a story it is.

At 90 years old, the legendary Chita Rivera—three-time Tony Award–winner, Kennedy Centers honoree, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, has no plans of slowing down. Her memoir is wildly entertaining as she takes us behind the curtain to reveal the highs and lows of one extraordinary showbusiness career—the creative fermentation, the ego clashes, the miraculous discoveries, the exhilaration when it all went right, and the disappointment when it all went wrong.

Chita invites us into workrooms and rehearsal studies, on stage and on set as she works with some of the greatest talents of the age, including Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Hal Prince, Liza Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr, Gwen Verdon, Shirley MacLaine, and many others. We also learn deeply moving, revelatory details about her upbringing and her heritage, and how they indelibly shaped her work and career.

It’s an unforgettable and engrossing personal story of a performer who blazed her own trail and inspired countless performers to forge their own unique path to success. Chita: A Memoir. GET THE BOOK.

~Cheryl Benton, Long Island, New York, aka “the head Tomato”

An Intricately crafted plot gathers momentum on every page

Four teenagers are partying unsupervised at a family home in a peaceful suburb and one of them winds up dead.  In his page-turner, Locust Lane, author Stephen Amidon begins the story with an accident where we get a glimpse of the killer in the dark of night. That shadowy figure haunts us as the plot evolves.

Set in the quiet affluent community of Emerson, MA, the murder of the young girl, Eden Perry, is highly sensational, and sets off an investigation into the lives of the three friends who were with her – Hannah, Jack, and Christopher. Hannah, a sweet girl with an unstable constitution; Jack, popular despite being a bit of a bully; and Christopher, an outsider longing to fit in. Could one or all of them be responsible for her death?

As we meet each of them, we discover complicated family dynamics, parents who are struggling in their own relationships as well as with each other as members of the same community. Hidden secrets, passions, and subterfuge emerge as the characters develop. How far will these parents go to protect their children? Who holds the power and influence? Will the search for justice reveal what really happened to Eden Perry?

The narrative is told from alternating perspectives of the parents, rather than the teenagers. The character development is intriguing as we find how the parents have shaped their children, creating them in their own idealized images. While the safety of this peaceful community is threatened by an unsolved crime, the intricately crafted plot gathers momentum on every page, raising more questions than answers until the final resolution.  GET THE BOOK.

~Joan Pagano, NYC, Joan Pagano Fitness

An In-depth Look at Life and Marriage After the Kids Leave

After Happily Ever After by Leslie A. Rasmussen is about Maggie Dolan, a forty-five year old finding it hard to face the idea of getting older.  She had been a high-level executive in her career.  Maggie gave up her career when she and her husband decided to have children.  She has been a stay-at-home Mom for the past seventeen years.  Now her daughter, Gia will be heading off to college soon.  Her husband, Jim is a therapist is getting more and more distant in their relationship.  He barely wants to be in the same room with her, let alone have sex anymore with her.  To make matters worse, he does not want to discuss what is bothering him.  Maggie has decided it is time to figure out what she would like to do with the rest of her life.  As she begins this process she is dealing with a narcissistic mother and a brother she feels she feels does not even like her.

The most upsetting news Maggie learns is her father has medical issues (Dementia) ) and may not be around much longer.   Hearing this news about her father, she feels as though her life is falling apart.  She has a very close relationship with her father.  She begins to notice a hot and younger man at her gym.  She must make some tough decisions about her life going forward.  As much as she likes the attention from this young man, she really just still wants to be happily married.

This story takes an in-depth look at life and marriage once children become more independent and even after they leave home.  I really liked the relationship Maggie had with her father.  One scene in the book where she crawls in bed with her father to talk to him about her life falling apart will have you in tears.  Leslie Rasmussen did a fantastic job telling how the fathers health was declining and describing the impact of that on a family.  Her description of the daughter, Gia made her out to be a spoiled and ungrateful brat in my opinion.

This is a debut novel for Leslie Rasmussen.  It is storytelling at its absolute best.  It is written with so much emotion, some laugh out loud moments and some  tears, at least for me it was.  I loved this book and was drawn into the story from the very first page.  Leslie has her second book, The Stories We Cannot Tell, due out July 11, 2023.  This was a five- star book for me and I highly recommend it. GET THE BOOK.

~Francene Katzen, Richmond, Virginia, advocate for parents who have children with drug addictions.


The Three Tomatoes Book Shelf
If you love books you've come to the right place. Here's where you'll find great books that our Tomato reviewers have read and think other tomatoes will love too. Enjoy.

Book Review

The Three Tomatoes Book Shelf If you love books you've come to the right place. Here's where you'll find great books that our Tomato reviewers have read and think other tomatoes will love too. Enjoy.

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