Blog Tour: Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

your perfect life (Aug21)

  • Title:  Your Perfect Life
  • Authors:  Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  June 2014 – Washington Square Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  With “a delicious, page-turning premise, and sweet and surprising insights” (New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster), Your Perfect Life perfectly illustrates that old adage: Sometimes, you to have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to see what’s in her heart. Best friends since childhood, Casey and Rachel couldn’t lead more different lives. While workaholic Casey rubs elbows with celebrities daily as the host of Gossip TV and comes home nightly to an empty apartment, stay-at-home mom Rachel juggles an “oops” baby, two fiery teenagers, and a husband who barely seems the man she fell in love with two decades before. After an argument at their twentieth high school reunion, Casey and Rachel throw back shots to get the night back on track. Instead, they get a life-changing hangover. Waking up in each other’s bodies the next morning, they must figure out how to navigate their altered realities. Rachel is forced to confront the reason she gave up her broadcasting dreams when she got pregnant in college, and Casey finally steps out of the spotlight to face the truth about why she’s alone. And they soon discover that they don’t know themselves—or their best friend—nearly as well as they thought they did. Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke bring humor and heart to every page of this novel that is sure to please fans of In Her Shoes and The Opposite of MeYour Perfect Life is a story about two very different women, what they didn’t know about each other, and how, by switching lives, they each learn to appreciate their own.  (publisher)

My take:  Casey Lee and Rachel Cole have been best friends since junior high school. When they attend their 20th high school reunion neither is content with the way things are in her own life and think the other has the world by the tail. A mysterious cocktail is served to the two women before they leave the reunion and the next day Casey and Rachel wake up in each other’s body/bed/life. Oh, boy!

Your Perfect Life is an entertaining novel about two women who get a chance to find out if the grass really is greener in the other’s yard. The two find out if the assumptions they’ve fallen into regarding each other are true. They come to a deeper appreciation for what the other has gone through to get to where she is. Maybe they’ll even discover their own lives are pretty good. Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke wrote an entertaining novel filled with great characters. I loved Rachel and Casey and couldn’t wait to find out how they would get their own lives back.

If you’re looking for a fun read this summer you can’t go wrong with Your Perfect Life. I loved every minute of it! Buy a copy for your best friend!

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Praise for YOUR PERFECT LIFE

 “Has all the ingredients that I love in a book…a delicious page-turner.” –Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author  

“I loved this from the very first line (which will go down in history as the funniest, bravest first line ever). Hilarious, honest and truly touching, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke are two important new voices in women’s fiction who write about life in such a real, relatable way.”  -Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of The Violets of March

“Sassy, heartfelt, and smart, Your Perfect Life is a clever take on switched identities that will make you think hard about the choices you’ve made in your life and what matters most to us all in the end.” -Amy Hatvany, author of Safe with Me

“For every woman who’s ever wondered about the path not taken, Fenton and Steinke mine—with tremendous humor and insight—the mixed blessing of unexpected second chances.” -Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, New York Times bestselling authors

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About the Authors: liz and lisa 2014 2 croppedLiz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been best friends for 25 years and survived junior high, high school and college together. Liz lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and two children. Lisa, a former talk show producer, now lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, daughter and two bonus children. Your Perfect Life is their first novel.

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You can order Your Perfect Life  from:

Love Letters: A Rose Harbor Novel by Debbie Macomber

love letters - rose harbor#3 (Aug12)

  • Title:  Love Letters
  • Series:  Rose Harbor #3
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction/Romance; series
  • Published:  August 2014 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  In this enchanting novel set at Cedar Cove’s cozy Rose Harbor Inn, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber celebrates the power of love—and a well-timed love letter—to inspire hope and mend a broken heart.
Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Despite some folks’ good-natured claims to the contrary, Jo Marie insists that Mark is only a friend. However, she seems to be thinking about this particular friend a great deal lately. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.
Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months, and with whom she might even be falling in love. Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings.
Maggie and Roy Porter are next to arrive at the inn. They are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust. But Maggie must make one last confession that could forever tear them apart.
For each of these characters, it will ultimately be a moment when someone wore their heart on their sleeve—and took pen to paper—that makes all the difference. Debbie Macomber’s moving novel reveals the courage it takes to be vulnerable, accepting, and open to love.  (publisher)

My take:  Debbie Macomber’s third installment of the Rose Harbor series involves Jo Marie, the thirty-something widowed innkeeper, who continues to grieve the loss of her husband. She’s also trying to figure out what’s up with Mark, her handyman. This storyline has been in each book of the series and we find out a bit more in this book – but not everything.

Guests at the inn are a couple who are trying to get their marriage back on track and a young woman who is going to meet for the first time a young man she met online. Each chapter involves one of the three storylines and made for a fast, enjoyable and entertaining read.

You don’t have to have read the previous books in the series but I recommend it. You’ll get a better feel for Jo Marie’s background story. I think this book is the perfect vacation read – it was easy to set down but I always looked forward to picking it back up. I’m eager to read the next book in the series (and not just because there was a bit of a cliff-hanger). Recommended to fans of Debbie Macomber and contemporary, small town fiction.

Blog Tour and US Giveaway: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

After-I-Do-Blog-Tour-Header copy

 

  • Title:  After I Do
  • Author:  Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2014 – Washington Square Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes. Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for? This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after. (publisher)

After I Do (July 1)

 

My take:  This gem of a novel explores what happens to a relationship when the shine wears off. Lauren and Ryan have gone from being completely gaga over each other to a resentment that you can almost taste. The author paced the unfolding of their story perfectly and it was impossible to not feel for these two. They took a bit of an unorthodox way of trying to figure things out and make a go of it. I pulled for them all the way and enjoyed every page of the book.

I loved Taylor Jenkins Reid’s first novel Forever, Interrupted and wasn’t sure what to expect from After I Do. I loved it just as much as the first and have already thought of a few people I’ll buy it for. Do yourself a favor and read this book! You don’t have to be married to appreciate it. You can be married a long time (like me) and enjoy it. I think engaged and newlywed readers will learn from it. Highly recommended.

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Giveaway (US)

Please click here and fill out the form

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Praise for the book: “Moving, gorgeous and, at times, heart-wrenching. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes with wit and true emotion that you can feel. Read it, savor it, share it.” – Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of The Violets of March

Buy the book

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About the author:

taylor-jenkins-reid-author-writer (1)

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Media Studies. Her first novel, Forever, Interrupted, was named one of the “11 Debuts We Love” by Kirkus Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit.

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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.

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.

Review/Giveaway (US): Under a Summer Sky by Nan Rossiter

Under a Summer Sky (June)

  • Title:  Under a Summer Sky
  • Author:  Nan Rossiter
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Christian Fiction
  • Published:  April 2014 – Kensington Books
  • Source:  Author

Synopsis:  The old Cape Cod house that Laney Coleman shares with her minister husband Noah and their five boys is usually brimming with cheerful chaos. There’s nothing fancy about the ancient kitchen or the wooden floors scuffed by the constant parade of activity and the clicking claws of their two Labrador retrievers. It’s a place to savor the sea breeze wafting through the windows, or sip coffee on the porch before another hectic day begins. This summer, life promises to be even busier than usual, because Noah’s younger brother, Micah, wants to hold his upcoming wedding on their property.
Though thrilled that Micah has found happiness after past heartache, Laney is apprehensive about having her home turned upside down. She has other concerns too–her youngest son is being bullied at school, and Noah’s father is not the robust patriarch he once was, in mind or body. As the bride and groom’s large, close-knit families gather, there will be joyful celebration but also unexpected sorrows and revelations, and a chance to store up a lifetime of memories during the fleeting, precious days of summer…  (publisher)

My take:  Nan Rossiter has done it again. She wrote a wonderful multi-generational story that will resonate with many readers. It certainly did with me.  I related most with Laney. She really has her hands full as she balances a job, motherhood and being wife of a minister. She even agrees to host a wedding at their home after her husband volunteers. As most mothers do, she quietly deals with other issues at the same time.

A side note:  when my kids were growing up one of our favorite TV shows to watch together was Seventh Heaven. If you’re unfamiliar with the show it was about the life of a minister, his wife and kids. This novel gave me the same feel as that show – which I think is high praise! We loved it and I enjoyed Under a Summer Sky just as much.

Noah, Laney’s husband, delivered a sermon that struck an emotional chord with me. It was about appreciating and being present in every moment – especially the small moments. You never know when the last time you do something will be the last time. Anyway, when I finished that chapter I had to stop and wipe my eyes.

Under a Summer Sky celebrates family connections and the truly important things in life. I’ll be sharing this novel with my sisters and close friends.

Recommended.

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Widow’s Guide To Sex And Dating: A Novel by Carole Radziwill

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Synopsis: Claire Byrne is a quirky and glamorous 34-year-old Manhattanite who is nicely married to the renowned sexologist, Charles Byrne. He’s a man of contradictions: equal parts Alfred Kinsey and Warren Beatty; pompous yet charming; loyal yet unfaithful, and a firm believer that sex and love can’t coexist. Even though Charlie does little to hide his affairs, Claire can’t deny that her life with him is interesting. In a bizarre and comedic twist of fate, on an unassuming Monday, Charlie—fresh from a lover’s bed—is struck dead on a city sidewalk by a falling Giacometti statue.

With this deliciously irreverent opening, Claire sets out to reinvent herself and find the answer to a vexing question – Are widows the new virgins? The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating: A Novel is a wry take on death, sex and love, in that order, by New York Times best-selling author Carole Radziwill.

Taking place over the course of a year, Radzwill’s protagonist Claire sees two shrinks and an oracle, hires a “botanomanist,” follows a griot, eats too little, drinks too much, dates a hockey player and a billionaire, and has a heady affair with the movie star Jack Huxley. As she grieves for Charlie and begins to find her footing, Claire comes to realize that she has an opportunity to find something bigger and better than she had before: real, authentic, passionate love.

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REVIEWS

“One of the richest, most deeply satisfying stories I’ve read in a long time…[Radziwill's] spare writing and wry voice make The Widow’s Guide an exhilarating, insightful and moving story about loss and identity.”
—BookPage

“Witty and charming, Carole Radziwill’s first novel is a delight. I fell in love with the character of Claire—a modern-day Holly Golightly.”
—Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City and The Carrie Diaries

“Carole Radziwill writes like a cross between Sophie Kinsella and Christopher Buckley. Widow’s Guide is a sharp, flamboyant New York novel that revels in the tragicomic absurdities of the city. It’s a smart take on Hollywood, too, with gorgeous movie stars and a quirky cast. Cautiously romantic, unexpectedly moving, and funny!”
—Susan Sarandon

“Glib, comic… [a] novel about a young Manhattan widow looking for love in all the wrong places… This may be a grief and recovery story for the privileged, but sharp-fanged Radziwill can be pretty funny…. Think Sex and the City in black.”
—Kirkus

“Claire never thought about the odds of losing her husband. But after a freak accident abruptly ends her husband’s life, she is forced to wrestle with the question, “What next?” For the next year, Claire’s life takes a wild turn… and somewhere in the middle of the madness, she begins to realize that her old life wasn’t so perfect and perhaps this is all a blessing in disguise—a second chance at life and love. Verdict: Fans of authors such as Jane Green and Madeleine Wickham will enjoy this.”
—Library Journal

“Radziwill’s delicious debut novel… is a poignant tale of love and loss.”
—Publishers Weekly

“The book’s witty humor and Didion-esque raw language provide for a gripping read that triumphantly announces a profound new voice in literary fiction.”
—Popbytes.com

“A hilarious account of a young widow’s journey to find herself and re-establish her identity.”
—PW Show Daily

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carole Radziwill grew up in upstate New York and earned a BA at Hunter College and an MBA at New York University. She spent more than a decade at ABC News, reporting from around the world, and earned three Emmys. Her first book, What Remains, a memoir, spent over twenty weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She has written for many magazines, including Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Town & Country and Porter. She currently is a star of and “the voice of reason” on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York. – See more at: The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating.

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US Giveaway

One copy for a US reader

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Blog Tour: True Blend by Joanne DeMaio

true blend

  • Title:  True Blend
  • Author:  Joanne DeMaio
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  March 2014 – CreateSpace
  • Source:  Author

Synopsis:  New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio returns to small-town New England in this compelling love story where truth is veiled by secrets.

Vintage bridal shop owner Amy Trewist thinks she’ll never recover her quiet life at her beloved farmhouse on an old country road. Not after her two-year-old daughter Grace is kidnapped in an elaborate crime. On one clear morning, in mere minutes, Grace is gone and Amy’s world spins into a heartbreaking new place.

George Carbone often spends easy time with his brother. Whether at a ballgame or taking a day trip, it’s how they connect. Until one sunny day when the trip is to a bank parking lot and George is drawn into a crime he never sees coming. And into a stricken mother’s life he cannot ignore.

In a summer that simmers with the unsolved crime, George is haunted by a bankroll hidden behind kitchen tiles, by a brother who dragged him into this, and by a father who instilled in him a conscience. A conscience challenged when a young child and beautiful woman crossed paths with him and unexpectedly took hold of his heart.

Set among the red barns, lush cornfields and sparkling wishing fountain of Addison, Connecticut, True Blend is a captivating novel that steals your heart and does not let go. Because like the lace wedding gowns hanging on Amy’s clothesline, waltzing in the summer breeze, love and secrets twist and spin together in their own mesmerizing dance. (publisher)

My take:  True Blend is a bit of a departure from what I’ve come to expect from Joanne DeMaio. Yes, the setting is the small New England town I’d like to visit one day and the characters are likable and believable as usual. What’s different in this novel is the drama that occurs in the opening pages that just wouldn’t let go of me!

Amy, a widow of less than a year, and her two-year-old daughter are running errands when their life suddenly takes a turn in a different direction. Life will never be the same.  George, the man who runs the butcher shop in town, thinks he’s heading to the casino for the day with his brother. That brother has different plans and won’t take no for an answer.

George spends the following weeks doing everything he can to make Amy and Grace feel safe again. Amy’s flashbacks and Grace’s inability to speak seem insurmountable but George does his best to help them. What he didn’t expect was that his feelings for Amy would grow to love. Will she feel the same? And what will happen if she ever finds out the truth about George. What will become of George’s relationship with his only brother?

The pace of the novel is good and kept me turning the pages. I didn’t know how things would end until DeMaio skillfully pulled it all together in the final chapters. I really liked True Blend and recommend it to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.

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Joanne
Author Bio:
Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. Her fourth novel True Blend was recently published. Currently at work on her next book, Joanne resides with her family in Connecticut. To learn more about the author, visit Joannedemaio.com. She also enjoys hearing from readers on her Facebook Page.
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You can purchase True Blend at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
true blend

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

Vine- Still Life With Bread Crumbs

  • Title:  Still Life with Bread Crumbs
  • Author:  Anna Quindlen
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  January 2014 – Random House
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

My take:  Rebecca Winter, famous for a serendipitous photo series years earlier, recently won a prize for her photography that generally means she’s “old news” in the art world. She now rents out her New York City apartment and lives in a tiny and dilapidated cottage in the woods so that she can afford to pay her father’s rent, her mother’s nursing home bills and occasionally send her son a check.

Rebecca hears animals in her roof above her bed every night and one day meets Jim Bates, a roofer several years her junior. He takes care of the animal issue and eventually becomes a friend. They are charmingly awkward around each other.

As Rebecca hikes the woods she discovers what look like memorials – the kind you’d see along the highway. These are white crosses with mementos of a girl’s youth. Rebecca photographs them not knowing their actual meaning and origins – and the result is a new photography show. What will happen when she learns the truth behind the photos?

I loved this book and I loved Rebecca. She needed to step away from her life to find out if that was the life she wanted to define her – to find out if there might be more in store for her. The first half of the novel quietly built up to the point where I couldn’t stop reading. The characters are beautifully developed and achingly true. I know I’ll be thinking about Tad and Sarah and Jim and Rebecca for a while.

True Life with Bread Crumbs would be a wonderful selection for book groups.

Waking Kate by Sarah Addison Allen

waking kate

  • Title:  Waking Kate
  • Author:  Sarah Addison Allen
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Short Story
  • Published:  December 2013 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Free download

Synopsis:  From the beloved author of Garden Spells, comes Waking Kate, a story about a woman who soon will face an unforseen change in her life. One sticky summer day as Kate is waiting for her husband to come home from his bicycle shop, she spots her distinguished neighbor returning from his last day of work after eighty-six years at Atlanta’s oldest men’s clothing store. Over a cup of butter coffee, he tells Kate a story of love and heartbreak that makes her remember her past, question her present, and wonder what the future will bring.

My take:  This short story from Sarah Addison Allen (one of my favorite authors) serves to whet the appetite for her forthcoming novel Lost Lake. And that it did! There is something about her writing that mesmerizes me. Her descriptions of setting and characters draw me in completely. I can’t wait to find out what happens next to Kate and her daughter in Lost Lake. I won’t have to wait long because it publishes in a few weeks. 

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

The Supreme Macaroni Company audio

  • Title:  The Supreme Macaroni Company (#3 Valentine series)
  • Author:  Adriana Trigiani
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Narrator:  Cassandra Campbell
  • Published:  November 2013 – Harper; Harper Audio
  • Sources:  Publisher (print copy); I purchased the audio

Synopsis:  For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This historic business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the school teacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret. 
A piece of surprising news is revealed at The Feast of the Seven Fishes when Valentine and Gianluca join her extended family on a fateful Christmas Eve. Now faced with life altering choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: “A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything.” The proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves-the bitter and the sweetness of life itself.
Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, The Supreme Macaroni Company is a sumptuous feast of delights: a portrait of a woman and the man she loves, her passion for craftsmanship, and the sacrifices it takes to build and sustain a family business while keeping love and laughter at the center of everything.  (publisher)

My take:  The Supreme Macaroni Company is the final installment of the Valentine series. I’ve been a fan since I first met Valentine Roncalli in Very Valentine. She’s a modern, sometimes confident, usually headstrong woman who is intent on keeping her family’s shoe company in business.

Val knows what she wants and one of those wants is Gianluca – the love of her life. Where Val is modern, American and in her 30s, Gianluca is a traditional Italian and in his 50s. These two don’t always see eye to eye but they never lose sight of their love for one another. When they marry Valentine must learn to compromise – easier said than done. Gianluca wants to take care of her and sometimes makes decisions without consulting Val. This causes some rocky times in the early days of their marriage.

What Val learns is that a willingness to sacrifice and compromise from a place of love will be a blessing to them both. Adriana Trigiani’s story is emotional and at times had me in tears so have some tissues handy. I’m going to miss the Roncallis and all the rest – maybe in five or ten years we can convince the author to let us know what’s going on in their lives.

Audio:  Cassandra Campbell’s narration is first rate. Her performance of Valentine and the other characters enhanced my enjoyment of the book.

Redesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby

redesigning rose

  • Title:  Redesigning Rose
  • Author:  Lydia Laceby
  • Genre:  Contemporary Women’s Fiction; Chick Lit
  • Published:  June 2013 – Lydia Laceby
  • Source:  Author

Synopsis:  Rose Parker’s husband has been lying. About everything.

When a conversation with her husband triggers questions, Rose Parker uncovers alarming answers that shatter her perfect life. But it is only when she shoves her belongings in her SUV and drives off that Rose realizes just how far from perfect her life actually was. She has nowhere to turn.

While debating between distressing sleeping arrangements-her mother’s house full of questions or a hotel room with too much solitude-Rose bumps into an acquaintance from her gardening class and allows bubbly, exuberant Becky to indulge her in a wild night full of whiskey, weeping, and whispered confidences. Suddenly, Rose has a new friend, a roof over her head, and two gorgeous men moving her out of her marital home.

As Rose struggles to settle into her new life, she remains determined to comprehend her past. And with time and distance and especially wine, comes knowledge. Frank wasn’t the only one lying to her. Rose was lying to herself. (author)

My take:  It was easy to sympathize with Rose and her new situation. She found out her husband was not the man she thought – perhaps something she’d known all along. With some distance between them she realized she had become a different person since marrying him. With that awareness Rose started on a path to rediscover her true self.

I loved the new people in Rose’s life beginning with Becky, the acquaintance who takes her in, as well as Becky’s brother, other friends, and Rose’s mother. They all had a hand in helping Rose move forward. It wasn’t an easy path. She moved backward a couple of times but eventually learned to listen to and trust her instincts again.

Redesigning Rose is Lydia Laceby’s debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story and characters charmed me and I couldn’t help thinking as I read that it would make a good movie. Recommended to fans of Chick Lit.

Audio: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax


while we were watching downton abbey

  • Title:  While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
  • Author:  Wendy Wax
  • Narrator:  Orlagh Cassidy
  • Published:  April 2013 – Penguin Audio
  • Source:  I purchased the audiobook

My take:  Wendy Wax had me at Downton Abbey :)  HOWEVER, you don’t need to have watched the series to enjoy this novel.

When the British concierge of the Alexander, an upscale Atlanta apartment building, alerts residents of weekly screenings of Downton Abbey in one of the common rooms no one is sure what to expect. Certainly unexpected is the resulting friendship of three women who’d not met until the first screening.

Samantha is a wealthy woman in her forties who seems to live an easy life. She’s very good at putting on a good face for all who know her but below the surface there’s family drama and turmoil.

Brooke is a divorced mom of two young daughters. After working hard to put her ex-husband through medical school and setting up his office he decided he didn’t want to be married to her anymore. Now his girlfriend is pregnant and wearing a huge diamond ring.

Clare, an author, is a divorced empty-nester. With her daughter away at college Clare has given herself a year to concentrate on her writing – no day job. Trouble is, she has writer’s block.

Edward, the concierge, is a warm and intuitive man who does his best to make sure the residents enjoy the weekly screenings. He also befriends the three women. Edward has a bit of a story himself but would never divulge it to anyone in the building.

When the unthinkable happens their friendship is put to the test. As usual, Wendy Wax’s story completely entertained me. Orlagh Cassidy did a good job voicing each character. I really liked her performance. She kept me walking or knitting – always signs of a good audiobook.

If you like women’s fiction I think you’ll enjoy While We Were Watching Downton Abbey.

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

finding colin firth

  • Title:  Finding Colin Firth
  • Author:  Mia March
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2013 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Start with three unsettled women, add an attractive coastal Maine setting, throw in a possibility of meeting Colin Firth while he’s in town making a movie – what you’ve got is a sweet and tasty novel. Oh, there’s pie too!

Gemma is young woman, in town for a girls’ weekend, who’s just found out she’s pregnant. She’s not sure how to feel about that and is reluctant to share the news with her husband. She just lost her job at a New York newspaper and feels adrift. He thinks its the perfect time to start a family and move to the suburbs. When offered the chance to write a story for the local paper she grabs it and extends her stay in Boothbay Harbor. The topic of the story is the 50th Anniversary of Hope Home, a local home for pregnant teens.

Bea is a twenty-two year old from Boston. She received a letter from her deceased mother a year after her death telling Bea that she was adopted. Shocking news, to be sure. Being out of a job and an apartment, the timing is good for Bea to go to the town listed on her actual birth certificate – Boothbay Harbor.  Her birth mother left information with the adoption agency should Bea ever try to find her. Not sure what she’ll find, she heads to Maine.

Veronica, in her late thirties, works at a diner in Boothbay Harbor. She also makes amazing pies that usually have a desired effect on those who believe. She’s travelled the country and has only been back in her hometown for a year, ready to face her past. She’d always hoped, but didn’t expect, her daughter would find her. When she does, she’s not sure what to do.

As the three women navigate their changing situations they learn to give themselves time and space. The three are fairly confident in wanting to do what’s right for themselves and those close to them. I liked how each eventually asserted herself in finding the right way (for her) to handle things.

Finding Colin Firth is an entertaining novel. It’s light enough in tone yet has plenty of substance, and hey, there’s pie :) Do they find Colin Firth? You’ll have to read to find out!

Rose Harbor in Bloom by Debbie Macomber

Rose Harbor in Bloom

  • Title:  Rose Harbor in Bloom  (Rose Harbor, #2)
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  August 2013 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Jo Marie Rose purchased the Rose Harbor Inn after the death of her husband.  She dreamed that he told her it would be a place of healing – for her as well as guests.

In the second book of the Rose Harbor Inn series Jo Marie continues to deal with her grief. She also knows that she must go on so she tries her best to put one foot in front of the other. Her days are filled with greeting her guests:  a young event planner trying to forget her two-timing ex-fiancé by planning a party for her grandparents; the grandparents who bicker more than one would expect for a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary; and a quiet woman who is appears to be dealing with illness.

In addition to having a full house for the weekend, Jo Marie is readying the Inn for an open house the following week. As if she wasn’t feeling flustered enough with all the preparations, her abrasive handyman Mark injures himself in a fall and won’t have the rose garden ready for the event. Jo Marie has figured out how to deal with Mark’s rough demeanor: give it right back to him. It was fun to watch the two fall into a rhythm of verbal give and take. I wonder what the author has in store for these two!

I’m finding Jo Marie’s journey through grief to be emotional and relatable. I could identify with her feelings and think anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one will do the same. I love the way Debbie Macomber tells a story and this is another winner. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

the last original wife

  • Title: The Last Original Wife
  • Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Narrator: Robin Miles
  • Published: June 2013 – HarperAudio
  • Source: Purchased

My take:  When Leslie falls into an unmarked manhole while following her husband, his best friend and his new wife (who happens to be half Leslie’s age) down a street in Edinburgh and they all fail to notice – that is the first sign that she is no longer cherished. The second sign is when her husband leaves her hospital room to play his planned round of golf at the Old Course.

When Leslie and Wesley (no, really) return to Atlanta she decides to put some space between them and accepts her brother’s offer to stay at his Charleston home while he’s in Italy. While away from her family Les does a lot of thinking about her relationship with her husband of 30 years and whether she wants to stay in the marriage. She also considers her two grown children and how they take her for granted as much as their father. What Les needs most is the courage to put herself first for once.

I laughed a lot but Dorothea Benton Frank addressed some serious issues as well. I can’t say I related to Les and Wes’s marriage problems but I’m about the same age as Les and think that’s what made me like her all the more! It’s the first of Frank’s books I’ve read so I’m happy to see she has a nice back list.

Narration: After reading a few reviews on Audible I understand some southerners took issue with the narrator’s accent. I’m not from the south so I couldn’t tell you if the narration is correct in accent or not but Robin Miles’ performance kept me listening and walking (and often laughing). I was thoroughly entertained.

The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

the lemon orchard

  • Title:  The Lemon Orchard
  • Author:  Luanne Rice
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2013 – Pamela Dorman Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope. (publisher)

My take:  The Lemon Orchard is an emotional tale about two people drawn together by fate. We learn their stories through numerous characters’ voices. From Julia and Roberto to their relatives and friends to people they meet along the way, the details of their sad circumstances are revealed at an even pace.

Luanne Rice’s vivid descriptions of the Connecticut, California, Mexico, and Arizona settings made it easy to visualize the various scenes of the novel.

Like I mentioned, this is an emotional story. Roberto lost everything when trying to make things better for his family by coming to a new country. Julia needed to put some space between herself and the place where she blames herself for the loss of her family. When she meets Roberto she finds a way to gain a sort of redemption by helping him. Falling in love was never their intention. The love story of Julia and Roberto unfolded in such a way that I became invested in their future happiness.

I liked this romantic novel and recommend it to fans of the author and women’s fiction.

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

forever, interrupted

  • Title:  Forever, Interrupted
  • Author:  Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2013 – Washington Square Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Elsie Porter is an average twentysomething and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year’s Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn’t expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they’ve eloped.

Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met—and who doesn’t even know Elsie exists.

Interweaving Elsie and Ben’s charmed romance with Elsie and Susan’s healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there’s more than one way to find a happy ending. (publisher)

My take:  This novel is a study of grief – the grief of a young woman when her husband dies suddenly and that of the young man’s mother, a widow herself. 

Elsie narrates the novel. She tells the story by shifting from six months earlier, where we learn how she fell in love with Ben, to the time after his death. It was impossible for me to read this novel without that pain in the chest one gets when feeling really sad. And this is a sad story. It’s also funny, charming and believable.

I don’t want you to get the impression that this novel is a big downer – it’s not. Case in point: Elsie is a librarian. There’s an elderly man who comes into the library every day. He and Elsie go from casual acquaintances to emotional confidants – their scenes were among my favorites in the novel. Truly touching.

I think Taylor Jenkins Reid was spot on in conveying the grief of Elsie and Susan. If you need a good cry, read this book. If you want to read a novel that leaves you uplifted and with a sense of hope, you should read Forever, Interrupted. 

More Than You Know by Nan Rossiter

more than you know - rossiter

  • Title:  More Than You Know
  • Author:  Nan Rossiter
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  April 2013 – Kensington
  • Source:  Review copy from the author

Synopsis:  Losing her father on the night she was born could have torn Beryl Graham’s family apart. Instead, it knitted them together. Under their mother’s steady guidance, Beryl and her older sisters, Isak and Rumer, shared a childhood filled with happiness. But now Mia Graham has passed away after battling Alzheimer’s, and her three daughters return to their New Hampshire home to say goodbye.
Swept up in memories and funeral preparations, the sisters catch up on each other’s lives. Rumer and Isak have both known recent heartache, while Beryl has given up hope of marriage. But surprising revelations abound, especially when they uncover Mia’s handwritten memoir. In it are secrets they never guessed at–clandestine romance, passionate dreams, joy and guilt. And as Beryl, Rumer, and Isak face a future without her, they realize it’s never too late to heed a mother’s lessons–about taking chances, keeping faith, and loving in spite of the risks… (back cover)

My take:  When the three Graham sisters come together to prepare for their mother’s funeral they find out things they never new about her – shocking things. She left a memoir that told them everything and gave them a new perspective of her life. She raised her three daughters alone after a car crash took the life of her husband on the night of their 5th anniversary. They thought she never remarried because she couldn’t imagine loving anyone else but their father. Her memoir tells them the real story.

Though dismayed by what they’ve learned, they take to heart the lesson to never take life for granted and to appreciate especially the mundane events of everyday life. Timely advice because all three are at crossroads in their personal lives.

More Than You Know is a novel of faith and family that will resonate with many readers. I enjoyed it.

*Note:  At the end of the novel Nan Rossiter shared a couple of recipes made by the Graham sisters. I’ve made copies and plan to try both!

The Widow Waltz by Sally Koslow

the widow waltz

  • Title:  The Widow Waltz
  • Author:  Sally Koslow
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  June 2013 – Viking
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Ben Silver had it all—a successful law practice, a New York apartment overlooking Central Park, a beach house, fine art, club memberships. Yet when a massive coronary fells him while training for the New York City Marathon, it’s revealed that his life was a lie. He’s left his wife, Georgia Waltz, and their two daughters almost penniless.
Georgia must now rally to support her family while mourning a husband whose private enigmas keep surfacing. To her surprise, she also discovers that it may even be possible to find new love in the land of Spanx and wrinkles. Meanwhile, her daughters must face the responsibilities of adulthood that they have avoided and put their hidden talents to work.

My take:  When golden boy Ben Silver dies his wife and daughters find out he wasn’t quite the man they thought he was. Their lives have changed overnight and they’re left to solve a mystery – why did he leave them without the expected inheritance but instead needing to sell off possessions in order to live? 

As mother and daughters slowly get their bearings they begin to move forward in directions they’d never anticipated. Georgia Waltz is witty and sometimes snarky. At first she grated on me but I soon understood her defense mechanisms and enjoyed her take on her new life. I especially appreciated that Koslow addressed dating in middle age realistically and with humor. I think there are a lot of readers our there who would love more novels with strong 50-something women dealing with life-changing events.

Filled with colorful characters The Widow Waltz is an entertaining novel that could be read in a few hours. The Widow Waltz is about acceptance and forgiveness and what being a family means – and sometimes it’s not what you’d expect.