Up At Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

up at butternut lake

  • Title:  Up at Butternut Lake
  • Series:  The Butternut Lake Trilogy, #1
  • Author:  Mary McNear
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Small town fiction
  • Published:  April 2014 - William Morrow
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  It’s been ten years since Allie Beckett crossed the threshold of her family cabin at Butternut Lake, Minnesota. Now, newly widowed after the death of her husband in Afghanistan, she’s returned with her five-year-old son. There, she reconnects with the friends she had in childhood – best girlfriend Jax, now married with three kids and one on the way, and Caroline, owner of the local coffee shop. What Allie doesn’t count on is a newcomer to Butternut Lake, Walker Ford. Up at Butternut Lake follows these four unforgettable characters across a single summer as they struggle with love, loss, and what it means to take risks, confront fears, and embrace life, in all of its excitement and unpredictability. Allie Beckett could never have imagined, when she ran away from her old life, that she was running into a whole new life, up at the lake….  (publisher)

My brief take:  I bought Up at Butternut Lake after I accepted a review copy of the second book in the Butternut Lake trilogy. I wanted to get the background on the setting and original characters. I enjoyed reading about the small northern Minnesota town and found the main characters just as enjoyable. Each woman (Allie, Caroline and Jax) as well as Walker (Allie’s love interest) are in need of a fresh start, a second chance, but first they must make peace with the past. Mary McNear gave them emotional stories and wrote with a lot of heart. I look forward to reading the second book Butternut Summer which will be out in August.

Spotlight/Giveaway(US): I’ve Still Got It…I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It by Jenna McCarthy

9780425272534_large_I've_Still_Got_It...I_Just_Can't_Remember_Where_I_Put_It

  • I’VE STILL GOT IT…I JUST CAN’T REMEMBER WHERE I PUT IT
  • Awkwardly True Tales from the Far Side of Forty
  • by Jenna McCarthy
  • Berkley Trade Paperback Original
  • On-sale: July 1, 2014
  • $16.00; ISBN: 978-0-425-27253-4

Welcome to Middle Age! Please check your functioning internal thermostat and razor-sharp memory at the door and pour yourself a nice, stiff drink… 

In the comic tradition of Jen Lancaster, Chelsea Handler, and Nora Ephron, Jenna McCarthy offers her own laugh-out-loud observations on the midlife years in I’VE STILL GOT IT…I JUST CAN’T REMEMBER WHERE I PUT IT: Awkwardly True Tales From the Far Side of Forty (Berkley Trade Paperback, July 1, 2014, $16.00), covering everything from vaginal rejuvenation surgery to bucket lists to why forty-somethings are so tired all the time.

Jenna McCarthy might be forty-something, but she doesn’t feel forty-something. And between complaining about how tired she is, trying to remember what she came in here for and wondering whether she drinks too much, she does not have time for a crisis.

She has, however, had time to crack the mysterious midlife code. She’s figured out how to tame her muffin top, keep the spark in her marriage and probably not die a fiery hoarder’s death. She’s learned the trick to looking ten years younger and the secret to feeling ten times happier (and it only cost $14.99 plus shipping and handling). And she’s discovered the one thing she will need to do for the rest of ever if she’s going to continue to refuse to “dress her age.”

Tackling everything from financial panic to skinny jeans and the meaning of life, I’VE STILL GOT IT…I JUST CAN’T REMEMBER WHERE I PUT IT is a middle age manifesto filled with hilarious misadventures, humiliating confessions and occasional (hot) flashes of genius.

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About the Author:

Jenna McCarthy is the author of six books and lives in Santa Barbara, California. For more information visit Jenna online at www.jennamccarthy.comwww.facebook.com/jennamccarthywrites, and www.twitter.com/jennawrites.

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US Giveaway

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The Promise by Robyn Carr

The Promise (June24)

  • Title:  The Promise
  • Series:  Thunder Point #5
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  June 2014 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Robyn Carr takes us back to Thunder Point, Oregon and this time Scott Grant, the small town’s doctor, is the main character. When his wife died after their second child was born he decided to move to Thunder Point because it would be more conducive to raising his children – and he wanted to practice medicine in a small, underserved community. Four years of living in the small town has proven his decision a good one. The only thing he needs is someone to work alongside him at the clinic – someone  who’s willing to work for almost no pay. When Peyton Lacoumette walks in the door and then agrees to give the job three months he can’t believe his good luck.

Scott and Peyton’s story was so enjoyable. They’re not perfect but together, at work and after work, their relationship was real and so sweet. The scenes at home with the kids tugged at my heartstrings. Scott would do anything for Peyton. After her previous relationship with another doctor ended terribly she’s not so sure she can start a new one with yet another doctor. And what will happen when the previous doctor shows up at Scott and Peyton’s office asking for a second chance?

As I’ve come to expect from Carr, The Promise is an emotional story filled with love, heartache, and hope. I enjoyed it and look forward to the next book in the series. Recommended to fans of Robyn Carr, the Thunder Point series, and small town contemporary romance.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals (linked to Mailbox Monday)

pride, prejudice and the perfect match  all mortal flesh  I shall not want

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review:  The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee
  • Review:  The Elephant Whisperer (audiobook) by Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence. Narrated by Simon Vance.

the glass kitchen (July)   the elephant whisperer

Currently reading:

  • Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

your perfect life (Aug21)

Check out the Guilt Trip giveaway in the sidebar!

Happy reading!

 

The Elephant Whisperer (audiobook) by Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence

the elephant whisperer

  • Title:  The Elephant Whisperer
  • Authors:  Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Narrator:  Simon Vance
  • Published:  December 2012 – Tantor Media (originally published 2009)
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of “rogue” wild elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd’s last chance of survival: they would be killed if he wouldn’t take them. In order to save their lives, Anthony took them in. In the years that followed he became a part of their family. And as he battled to create a bond with the elephants, he came to realize that they had a great deal to teach him about life, loyalty, and freedom. (from Audible.com)

My brief take:  A friend recommended The Elephant Whisperer at a time when I was looking to read something a bit different from the genres I usually read. I’m so glad I did. It’s a remarkable memoir that left me grateful for people who can and will step up to be caretakers and protectors of wildlife around the world. Mr. Anthony agreed to take care of the “rogue” herd of elephants on his game reserve in South Africa and then wrote about his experiences. It’s a compelling story that had me wishing for a film version so more people would learn about the amazing elephants and other creatures on Thula Thula and elsewhere.

Simon Vance’s performance was wonderful. In my mind, he was Lawrence Anthony. I highly recommend the audiobook! The Elephant Whisperer was an Audie Award Winner, Biography/Memoir, 2014.

The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee

the glass kitchen (July)

  • Title:  The Glass Kitchen
  • Author:  Linda Francis Lee
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  June 2014 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis: Portia Cuthcart and her two sisters find their way from Texas to Manhattan over the years, the heiresses to a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side.  Portia is running from a bad divorce and the knowledge that she has always been a little bit different, a little bit strange:  the talented cook who knew exactly what to serve on what occasion, even to the point of predicting events that hadn’t even happened yet.  But she doesn’t cook anymore.  She has tamped down this “knowing.”  It has caused her way too many problems.  When she meets twelve-year-old Ariel Kane, she sees a girl in desperate need of a mother and a family in dire need of fried chicken, biscuits, and strawberry rhubarb pie.  Widowed Gabriel Kane has his hands full with two daughters on the cusp of womanhood, plus the Kane family have so many secrets and rivalries of their own.  Ariel, especially, must find a way to bring them all together with the help of Portia: the non-cook, the non-believer in happy endings.  Portia, who just might have to rethink the pages of her own story and take a few chances to claim what she wants deep down inside…  (publisher)

My take:  Linda Francis Lee filled her novel with lovely and colorful characters who I couldn’t wait to get back to each time I had to stop reading. The story is rather heart-wrenching but never maudlin. I wanted to hug most of the characters at one time or another.

I loved the flavor of magical-realism woven through the novel (think Sarah Addison Allen). Portia’s “knowing” seemed to work on everyone but herself. As she slowly figured things out it made for an ending that I found sigh-worthy and left me smiling.

If you’re looking for a book that makes you happy each time you pick it up, a book about what makes a family, and a book about learning to accept oneself and others for who they truly are, you’ll want to read The Glass Kitchen.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

always something there to remind me  on the rocks  cancel the wedding (Aug5)  Pies & Peril

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Guest Post:  Megan Abbott, author of The Fever
  • Review:  Breakwater Bay by Shelley Noble
  • Review:  Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen
  • Review:  The Hurricane Sisters (audio) by Dorothea Benton Frank

the fever breakwater bay July8 evergreen (July8) the hurricane sisters

Currently reading:

  • After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Until We Touch by Susan Mallery

After I Do (July 1)   Until We Touch (Aug12)

Happy reading!

The Hurricane Sisters (audiobook) by Dorothea Benton Frank

the hurricane sisters

  • Title:  The Hurricane Sisters
  • Author:  Dorothea Benton Frank
  • Narrator:  Robin Miles
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  June 2014 – Harper Audio
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at 80, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-aged and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful 20-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds. The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, and, Ashley deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all? This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering, but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.  (publisher)

My take:  I thought The Hurricane Sisters quite different in tone compared to The Last Original Wife but I still liked it. Some eccentricities aside, the Waters family is not that different from a lot of families. They accept and protect their own but sometimes they aren’t so nice to each other. Underneath it all they love each other and will defend them to the end.

At the forefront of the novel are the rather naive Ashley, her long-suffering mother Liz, and the matriarch Maisie who doesn’t tiptoe around anyone. Big secrets figure into the plot but rest assured all will be dealt with by the last page.

The Hurricane Sisters is just the second book by Dorothea Benton Frank I’ve read. I look forward to catching up with her backlist.

As in The Last Original Wife, Robin Miles’ narration was  great and made the book even more enjoyable. I loved her performance.

Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen

evergreen (July8)

  • Title:  Evergreen
  • Author:  Rebecca Rasmussen
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  July 15, 2014 – Knopf
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  It is 1938 when Eveline, a young bride, follows her husband into the wilderness of Minnesota. Though their cabin is rundown, they have a river full of fish, a garden out back, and a new baby boy named Hux. But when Emil leaves to take care of his sick father, the unthinkable happens: a stranger arrives, and Eveline becomes pregnant. She gives the child away, and while Hux grows up hunting and fishing in the woods with his parents, his sister, Naamah, is raised an orphan. Years later, haunted by the knowledge of this forsaken girl, Hux decides to find his sister and bring her home to the cabin. But Naamah, even wilder than the wilderness that surrounds them, may make it impossible for Hux to ever tame her, to ever make up for all that she, and they, have lost. Set before a backdrop of vanishing forest, this is a luminous novel of love, regret, and hope.  (publisher)

My brief take:  Oh, Rebecca Rasmussen, you did it again. You reached in and wrapped your hand around my heart with your lovely but heart-breaking story. I loved most of the characters – and the ones I didn’t you made me understand why. These characters leapt off the pages as did the settings (which played as big a part as the main characters). I should have been tipped off by the quote before the story begins: “Tell me the landscape in which you live, and I will tell you who you are”.

It’s a story about the need for love and acceptance, and what happens when those are missing in one’s life. The question of ‘nature versus nurture’ ran through my mind with each generation. I loved what a minor character says at one point in the story:  “Every time you think you need to hold on, let go“. Without spoiling the story I’ll just say I think book clubs would find a lot to discuss with Evergreen.

Earlier I mentioned the story is lovely but heart-breaking. I turned the final page feeling uplifted and hopeful and so glad to have read Evergreen.

Breakwater Bay by Shelley Noble

breakwater bay July8

  • Title:  Breakwater Bay
  • Author:  Shelley Noble
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2014 – Wm. Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Preservationist Meri Hollis loves her latest project, restoring one of Newport’s forgotten Gilded Age mansions. And with summer approaching, she’ll be able to spend more time with her Gran on the Rhode Island shore. She has a great job, a loving family, and she’s pretty sure her boyfriend is going to propose on her thirtieth birthday.

But everything Meri believes about family, happiness, truth, and love is shattered when her family’s darkest secret is exposed.

Thirty years before, Meri’s neighbor and friend, Alden Corrigan, took his father’s dinghy out to fish. In a sudden storm, he rushed to help a woman stranded on the breakwater. She was just a girl . . . a very pregnant girl who disappeared soon after they reached safety—But not before she left behind a very special gift.

Now that the truth it out, life will change for everyone in Breakwater Bay, and Meri and Alden will have to make decisions that could ensure their future together . . . or separate them for good.   (publisher)

My take:  I loved the atmospheric feel to this novel. Very gothic – although not really dark –  with the huge, drafty house on the shore; the almost reclusive, handsome man (Alden) who owns the house; and the young woman (Meri) who suddenly needs him more than she ever realized. It’s a tale of honor, responsibility, and what exactly constitutes a family. In the end, family is not determined solely by blood but, more than that, the people who will do anything for you – the people who want to be a part of your life.

Shelley Noble included a good amount of detail of Meri’s preservation work in the story. I loved reading about it and could envision the beauty of the Newport mansion her team was restoring.

I would have liked the end of the novel fleshed out a bit more than it was but I was nonetheless pleased with the conclusion. Breakwater Bay is a good summer read – take it to the beach or read it at home and imagine yourself reading at the Rhode Island shore.

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Shelley Noble is a former professional dancer and choreographer. She most recently worked on the films, Mona Lisa Smile and The Game Plan. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America.

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One more thing . . .

The publisher sent a finished copy so I decided to share it with one of my US readers.

Please click here to fill out the form.

Giveaway is closed

Guest post by Megan Abbott

I’m pleased to welcome author Megan Abbott to Bookfan today. Her novel The Fever  was published by Little, Brown and Company last month.

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I’m not a parent. I need to say that first. Like many of the characters I write about (especially the criminals!), I haven’t experienced what they have—I’m just imagining my way in. But The Fever was written specifically from a point of sympathy and respect for the unique challenges of being a parent today, particularly the parent of teenagers. And I don’t mean the typical, eternal challenges of navigating the relationship with your child as they chart the stormy waters of adolescence. I mean the new challenges posed by what might be the most striking technological generation gap in decades. That is, today’s teens 1R_Megan_Abbott_(credit_Drew_Reilly)[1]have grown up with the internet, with social media. They never knew the world without it. Their ideas of communication, of connection are inevitably different from their mom’s and dad’s. And the world they know is a brave new one from the one their parents experienced.

It’s always dangerous to make sweeping statements about the teenage experience. We’ve all heard or read those statements like, “Teens today have no sense of privacy,” or “Teens live their lives online now.” Generalizations, truisms. But the fact remains that most parents today experienced the technological changes of the last four decades gradually—the web, email, Google, texting, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. But for their children, the world has always been a partially online experience. The notion of a public and private self is inevitably different. What intimacy and connection means has changed. Today, one can feel intensely close to someone who lives half a world away and can feel deeply alienated in one’s own school or classroom. And, whereas thirty years ago, gossip among teens operated through passing notes, through whispered rumors, today, one text message or Instagram photo can shatter a reputation, set one’s identity, spread like a virus. The “wired” world both gives (you may never feel alone) and takes away (you may never feel alone).

In The Fever, the power of social media to spread rumors, ideas, images proves mightier than anyone can imagine. But in the novel it’s a dangerous temptation for the parent and teen characters alike. Many of the teens, including Deenie, the protagonist, have trouble having a truly private, undocumented moment (when nearly everyone has a phone, and all phones have cameras, privacy can prove elusive). And nearly all of the high schoolers struggle with escaping the frenzy of their social world because their phones, their computers, social media means the school day, in some ways, never really ends. But likewise, several of the parents in the novel do what many of us might do: turn to the internet to try to solve the mystery of the illness befalling many of the girls in the book—and the internet, for those seeking answers for baffling medical conditions—can be a dangerous place, ripe with misinformation, conspiracy theories, the spread of fear.

There’s a moment in The Fever when Eli, the teen hockey player and reluctant girl magnet, can’t find his phone. At first he’s the feverpanicked and soon enough it becomes a tremendous relief to him. No one can reach him. He’s alone with his thoughts. He can go anywhere. He’s “off the grid.” While writing it, I began to think about how that experience was my everyday experience as a teen. I never thought of it as a freedom. In fact, I would have loved to have been in constant contact with my best friends. But would that have made me a different person, and how? And how would it have been for my parents, who could track me down wherever I was? With whom I’d have had a relationship possibly largely mediated through texts?

I admire so much the parents I know as they try to imagine their way into their child’s very different world. As they try to anticipate the dangers and the benefits of social media and the online world for their son or daughter. The obvious risks (online predators, etc.) are in some ways the easiest to educate your children about. But what about the more subtle ones, such as the addiction to feedback some of us experience online, as we seek those Facebook “likes” and Twitter “favorites”? Do they come to seem as needed validation for ourselves or our teens?

Parents of teens out there, how do you handle your child’s experience of social media? How does your high school experience compare with your son or daughter’s because of it?

Thank you!

Megan

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Megan, thank you so much for your thought-provoking post.  In my case, Facebook began while my youngest (of three) child was in college. Before then my biggest challenge was making sure they didn’t spend hours on the computer playing Oregon Trail or Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego before finishing their homework! They all had phones in high school but not smartphones. In retrospect it was a much simpler time – although raising teenagers at any time is never easy. 

I hope readers will weigh in with their experiences in answer to Megan’s questions.  

 

 

Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley

mating for life (July 1)

  • Title:  Mating for Life
  • Author:  Marissa Stapley
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2014 – Washington Square Press/Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Former folk singer Helen Sear was a feminist wild child who proudly disdained monogamy, raising three daughters—each by a different father—largely on her own. Now in her sixties, Helen has fallen in love with a traditional man who desperately wants to marry her. And while she fears losing him, she’s equally afraid of abandoning everything she’s ever stood for if she goes through with it.
Meanwhile, Helen’s youngest daughter, Liane, is in the heady early days of a relationship with her soul mate. But he has an ex-wife and two kids, and her new role as a “step-something” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Ilsa, an artist, has put her bohemian past behind her and is fervently hoping her second marriage will stick. Yet her world feels like it is slowly shrinking, and her painting is suffering as a result—and she realizes she may need to break free again, even if it means disrupting the lives of her two young children. And then there’s Fiona, the eldest sister, who has worked tirelessly to make her world pristine, yet who still doesn’t feel at peace. When she discovers her husband has been harboring a huge secret, Fiona loses her tenuous grip on happiness and is forced to face some truths about herself that she’d rather keep buried.  (publisher)

My take:  For various reasons Helen took the nontraditional path in life re relationships and motherhood. She tried to show her three daughters (from three different fathers) how to live a full life outside the constraints of marriage. Each daughter will accept or reject her example with varying results. As you would expect the three daughters are not cut from the same cloth. One strives for perfection, another is an artist, and the third is a procrastinator who has put off finishing her PhD until the last possible moment.

As the four deal with changing life situations their attitudes will be challenged and they’ll find themselves possibly thinking differently going forward. What stood out to me was how the children (Helen’s grandchildren) were affected by their mothers’ actions – just as their mothers were affected by Helen’s choices. Book groups would have several topics to discuss with Mating for Life.

Setting up each chapter is a description of the mating habits of various wildlife. They mirrored the characters in each chapter. I enjoyed that. I liked this thought-provoking novel and look forward to reading more from Marissa Stapley.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

one plus one (july 1)

  • Title:  One Plus One
  • Author:  Jojo Moyes
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2014 – Pamela Dorman Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You. . . Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.  (publisher)

My take:  Jojo Moyes is two for two in my experience with her novels. I loved Me Before You and now I can add One Plus One to the “loved” category. Through the entire book I wanted to hug Jess, her stepson Nicky and daughter Tanzie and tell them “hang in there. It’ll be ok”.  I felt the same way for a few characters in Me Before You. Moyes never makes her characters pathetic or maudlin – just truly human. And while she does that she writes incredibly funny scenes as well as heartbreaking ones. The car trip to the Math Olympiad had me laughing out loud most of the time. Ultimately the point is made that everyone deserves a second chance – and to never give up. I turned the final page with a satisfied smile hoping that Jojo Moyes’ next book won’t be too far away. I’m a fan. Highly recommended.

The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax

the house on mermaid point

  • Title:  The House on Mermaid Point
  • Author:  Wendy Wax
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2014 – Berkley Trade
  • Source:  Publicist

Synopsis:  Maddie, Avery, and Nikki first got to know one another—perhaps all too well—while desperately restoring a beachfront mansion to its former grandeur. Now they’re putting that experience to professional use. But their latest project has presented some challenges they couldn’t have dreamed up in their wildest fantasies—although the house does belong to a man who actually was Maddie’s wildest fantasy once . . .

Rock-and-roll legend “William the Wild” Hightower may be past his prime, estranged from his family, and creatively blocked, but he’s still worshiped by fans—which is why he guards his privacy on his own island in the Florida Keys. He’s not thrilled about letting this crew turn his piece of paradise into a bed-and-breakfast for a reality show . . . though he is intrigued by Maddie. Hard as that is for her to believe as a newly single woman who can barely manage a dog paddle in the dating pool.

But whether it’s an unexpected flirtation with a bona fide rock star, a strained mother-daughter relationship, or a sudden tragedy, these women are in it together. The only thing that might drive them apart is being trapped on a houseboat with one bathroom . . .  (publisher)

My take:  The synopsis tells you everything you need to know – especially if this is your first experience with Wendy Wax’s  Florida renovation series. I’m not sure if there’s a name for this series.

I loved The House on Mermaid Point. The women find themselves intrigued and challenged by the new project on the private island. They’re all getting along better than ever which helps when it comes to tackling the renovation as well as personal issues. With each renovation project the women have experienced personal growth and become more confident.

In this book, Madeline shines as she overcomes her shyness and reaches out to help the owner of the island, William. But will she be glad she took the chance? Deirdre and Avery (mother and daughter) are getting along better than they’d ever thought possible. Maddy’s grown daughter Kyra and her toddler son, Dustin, continue to try to ignore the paparazzi who hound them in hopes of getting photos. Dustin’s father is a famous film star that Kyra met on a movie project. Nicole is still in love with Joe but, given her two failed marriages, doesn’t want to marry him.

On top of all they’re going through they are expected to reno the buildings on the island in a few short months – the hottest months of the year. I loved how Wendy Wax brought the women back together and through the project. Their television show is titled Do Over - and, to a certain extent, that’s what each of the characters is doing with her life. The House on Mermaid Point is an entertaining novel that packs an emotional punch and left me hoping for another Florida project for the women ASAP.

If you haven’t read the previous novels in the series: Ten Beach Road; Ocean Beach; Christmas at the Beach (a novella) you won’t be lost in this book but I recommend reading them in order.

Q and A with Wendy Wax, author of The House on Mermaid Point

the house on mermaid pointQ: Wendy, thanks for joining us and sharing news of your new novel THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT. So many readers are delighted to have a chance to be back with Maddie, Avery and Nicole, the characters you introduced in TEN BEACH ROAD a few years ago. Was it difficult to get back into their lives?

A:  You know, I thought it would be. I was still so caught up in the fun of WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY and readers’ response to it, that I began to question whether I’d be feeling “at home” with the reassembled ensemble as I had when I wrote OCEAN BEACH. As it turned out, I found myself immediately at ease when I started that first chapter and looking forward to finding out how they would tackle the challenges I knew were coming. I know it helped that I had already spent time with them while writing my holiday novella, CHRISTMAS AT THE BEACH.

Q:  Has a lot changed for the women of TEN BEACH ROAD since OCEAN BEACH?

A:  There have been some big life changes, but the characters are still friends, still taking things one renovation at a time. The cast of “regulars” has gotten bigger as characters from the first book have become more involved from one book to the next and become known to readers. Mermaid Point becomes host to the entire Do Over cast and crew – some with small roles and others central to the plot. You’ll find everyone from Kyra, Dustin and Deirdre to Chase, Joe, Troy and everybody’s favorite, charming network executive Lisa Hogan, who once again claims the element of surprise as her ace in the hole.

Q:  For those who are just now discovering the novels these characters share, will you give us some background?

A:  You bet. Readers first met Maddie, Nicole and Avery when the three were deeded ownership of Bella Flora, a crumbling wendy waxhistoric home on Florida’s Pass-a-Grille Beach, in TEN BEACH ROAD. At that time,  all they dared hope was that renovating and selling it would let them rebuild their lives and the bank accounts drained by a Ponzi scheme. They had no idea they’d end up living together for the next two summers, hammers in hand, starring in their own DIY reality television show, Do Over. Indeed, in their second book, OCEAN BEACH, the women – still in desperate straits financially – headed to Miami’s South Beach, with another project and cameras rolling to film their first season. In THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT, the show is about to make its on-air debut even as they film their second season. This time they’re in the Florida Keys where they’re expected to turn Mermaid Point, the private island of aging, down on his luck rock legend William Hightower, into a bed-and-breakfast. Against his wishes, of course.

Q:  Rock ‘n roll and renovation? How did you arrive at that combo?

A:  It started with again needing a character who, to begin with, could afford the sort of house that would make an interesting television setting. So I started thinking celebrity. Then, during my early research, I fell in love with the Florida Keys. I was headed to Key West when I was shown a private island in Islamorada that I just had to have. Then I needed a really high-profile, extremely wealthy – at least at one time – mega star. Lots of musicians lived and partied in the Keys and before I knew it, I was thinking about some of my favorite bands and Southern rocker William “Wild Will” Hightower was born.

Q:  Who are some of your favorites?

A:  The Allman Brothers, Lynrd Skynrd, Wet Willie… It was a kick revisiting those times and walking down my own memory lane helped me imagine Hightower’s music being just as magical as that of the musicians I followed and the wild ride that is part of his past. I may have had a bit too much fun with the musical memories called up during the writing. I actually ended up trying my hand at a ballad, Mermaid in You, one of the songs for which my mythical Hightower became famous. As part of the release of THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT, I touched base with two young musicians who are sons of a friend. Their group is the 10th Concession and they’re well-known in the southeastern US. They looked at my lyrics and, while I was quickly demoted from writer to co-writer, they worked with me, created the music and now the song has been recorded. It has its live performance debut along with the book on June 30th and will be available as a free download. I hope you’ll check it out. Info will be posted at authorwendywax.com as we get closer to the date.

Q:  What’s next?

A:  I am happily up to my neck in a new book. But I’m still debating so many different ideas that I don’t want to share too much yet. Lots keep changing. It is, however, set in Manhattan and at New York’s Lake George. More to come… As always, I’ll be sharing more book news on my site, on Facebook and other places. I hope everyone will visit with me in those spots. Also, appearances for and the latest about THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT will be shared online along with giveaways and other updates.

Q:  Thank you, Wendy.

A:  Thank you! I appreciate being able to share THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT with you and visitors to your site.

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the house on mermaid point

THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT

Wendy Wax

A Berkley Trade Paperback Original/Fiction

On Sale 7-1-14   $15 ($17 Canada)

978-0-425-26332-7

  Q&A provided by Joan Schulhafer Publishing and Media Consulting

He’s Gone: A Novel by Deb Caletti

He's Gone

  • Title:  He’s Gone
  • Author:  Deb Caletti
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Mystery
  • Published:  May 2013 – Bantam
  • Source:  Publisher; LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Synopsis:  “What do you think happened to your husband, Mrs. Keller?”
The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on her Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But on this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see that her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.

As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light: from its intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, turning over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together.  (publisher)

My brief take:  He’s Gone is a compelling narrative by a woman whose husband has gone missing. It’s the story of when they meet until that day she can’t find him. It’s a smooth, psychological portrayal by, what some might think, an unreliable narrator.

Deb Caletti certainly kept me wondering and guessing about what happened to Dani’s husband! I liked He’s Gone and will definitely look for more of Caletti’s books.