Our Better Angels by Jonathan Reckford

Our Better Angels by Jonathan Reckford

Published:  October 2019 – St. Martin’s Essentials

Book courtesy of the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description:

Inspiring and insightful, Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World celebrates the shared principles that unite and enable us to overcome life’s challenges together.

“When the waters rise, so do our better angels.”—President Jimmy Carter

Jonathan Reckford, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity, has seen time and again the powerful benefits that arise when people from all walks of life work together to help one another. In this uplifting book, he shares true stories of people involved with Habitat as volunteers and future homeowners who embody seven timeless virtues—kindness, community, empowerment, joy, respect, generosity, and service—and shows how we can all practice these to improve the quality of our own lives as well as those around us.

A Vietnam veteran finds peace where he was once engaged in war. An impoverished single mother offers her family’s time and energy to enrich their neighbors’ lives. A Zambian family of nine living in a makeshift tent makes room to shelter even more. A teenager grieving for his mother honors her love and memory by ensuring other people have a place to call home. A former president of the United States leads by example with a determined work ethic that motivates everyone around him to be the best version of themselves.

These stories, and many others, illustrate how virtues become values, how cooperation becomes connection, and how even the smallest act of compassion can encourage actions that transform the world around us. Here are tales that will make readers laugh and cry and embrace with passion the calling of our better angels to change the way we take care of ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world. (publisher)

My take:  The message is simple: kindness, no matter how big or small, will make a positive difference in the world. Time or treasure, no matter how much, will have an effect that is larger than you’d imagine. And its not just felt by the recipient. This compact book is divided into sections: Kindness, Community, Empowerment, Joy, Respect, Generosity, Service. Also included is a helpful resource guide for anyone who wants to get involved in Habitat for Humanity. One could read Our Better Angels all at once but I enjoyed reading a chapter a day.

Put Our Better Angels on your gift list this holiday season – for anyone.


About the author:

Jonathan T.M. Reckford has served as chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International since 2005. Under his leadership, the global housing organization has grown from serving 125,000 individuals per year to more than 7 million people in 2018 alone. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Reckford earned his MBA from Stanford and went on to hold managerial positions at a variety of Fortune 500 companies. Reckford also served as executive pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, Minnesota.


Praise for Our Better Angels:

Our Better Angels brings to light the basic virtues of kindness, generosity, respect, empowerment, community, joy, and service that we all have within us. We are grateful to Jonathan Reckford for sharing such moving stories about transformation, and for showing how easy it is for all of us to choose to help and strengthen others, rather than to hurt and weaken them. This book is for humanity: Read it whether you’re a kid, a grandparent, or anyone in between. It will spark an instant realization of how even the smallest acts of kindness or respect can fundamentally change someone’s path for the better.”

Drew and Jonathan Scott, The Property Brothers

 

“It has been our honor to work with Habitat for Humanity and see these seven virtues in practice. When we look outside of ourselves, we experience a glimpse of who we can be. Jonathan’s book reminds us to love one another. Amazing things happen when we do!”

Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks


 

The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry

The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry

Published: Oct. 2019 – Thomas Nelson

Book courtesy of the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description:  Brothers Jimmy and Jack Sullivan live a nomadic life doing what they love: touring with their band, The Unknown Souls. But Jack’s recent engagement to Kara has everyone looking forward to a Christmas destination wedding in Ireland.

Unlike his brother, Jimmy never expected to fall in love. But he feels a sense of peace and happiness whenever he’s around Kara’s best friend, Charlotte—which has him wondering what he’s missing. Over Thanksgiving, Jimmy and Charlotte write a song while sitting together on the back porch. When the band sings it at a Christmas concert the next night, Jimmy insists it’s the perfect love song—but a manager for another famous duo is adamant that it’s the perfect Christmas song. Before Jimmy knows what’s happening, he’s on tour with the hottest country band around and suddenly everyone knows his name.

But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Jimmy finds himself far away from those he loves—especially Charlotte. Only a Christmas miracle—or two—will be able to lead Jimmy back to Ireland, to his brother, and to love. (publisher)

My take:  Grab a cup of tea and curl up with this love story.  If you read the author’s novel When Light Breaks you’ll be pleased to know that characters from that book are in The Perfect Love Song. Brothers Jimmy and Jack Sullivan are musicians on the rise to fame.  They also happen to love Charlotte and Kara who are best friends. One Christmas Jimmy’s gift to Charlotte is a song that he wrote. That song eventually attracts attention from a concert producer which changes things for the brothers, their band, and most importantly, Jimmy and Charlotte.

This is a light tale of love and forgiveness and the chance that is taken by being open to both.  I enjoyed the magical, almost mythical, tone of the novel. I wasn’t sure who the narrator was until the end but it made sense and made me smile.

If you’re looking for a bit of an escape during the busy holidays, this could be the the right book for you. It was originally published in 2010 and has been brought back with a gorgeous new cover – perfect for gift-giving this season.


About the author:

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author. Patti was a finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, has been an Indie Next Pick, twice an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year. Her work has also been included in short story collections, anthologies, magazines and blogs. Patti attended Auburn University for her undergraduate work, and Georgia State University for her graduate degree. Once a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, she now writes full time. The mother of three children, she lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina, with her husband.


Praise for The Perfect Love Song:

“I fell in love with both Patti Callahan Henry and her work. The Perfect Love Song is a lyrical and heartwarming tale of love and forgiveness. Patti takes you to those places in the heart you didn’t even know you wanted to go.” Pat Conroy, New York Times bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad 

“Patti Callahan Henry’s The Perfect Love Song is a wonderfully romantic and inspiring novel about love and redemption that sings with emotional truth. An essential read by a master storyteller.” —Cassandra King, New York Times bestselling author of Same Sweet Girls 

“Patti Callahan Henry is quickly becoming one of my favorites.” -Debbie Macomber, New York Times bestselling author


 

The Last Affair by Margot Hunt

The Last Affair by Margot Hunt

Published:  November 26, 2019 – MIRA

Digital galley courtesy of MIRA and NetGalley

Description: Nora Holliday is not that kind of woman. Not the kind who has an illicit affair with a married man. But Josh Landon is everything Nora’s alcoholic husband isn’t. And now she and Josh are so infatuated, they can’t stay away from one another.

Abby Landon, Josh’s daughter, is home from college nursing a broken heart. She’s seeking solace, not more scandal, so when she catches her dad kissing Nora, she vows to take the homewrecker down.

And as for Abby’s mother and Josh’s wife, Gwen? To anyone on the outside looking in, the mother of two appears to be living the ideal suburban life.

Until she winds up dead.

The serene seaside town of Shoreham has always been the perfect place to raise a family—not somewhere housewives are brutally murdered. So who killed Gwen Landon, and how many twisted secrets will be exposed as the vindictive plot comes undone?  (publisher)

My take:  The Last Affair is the story of Nora and Josh. They are both in unhappy marriages so when fate throws them together they grab the chance for some happiness. That happiness lasts until they are found out by Josh’s twenty-something daughter. She waits until the right time to spill the beans which unleashes a series of events that could bring down both families. The novel starts with a dead body so I felt a sense of impending violence while reading. I just wasn’t sure how or when it would occur – and at whose hand. The final scene makes me think there could be a sequel – either that or it’s just a really creepy final scene. The Last Affair was an addictive read for me – a one day read –  and I recommend it to fans of stories about revenge.


 

A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel

A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel

Published:  Dec. 3, 2019 – Atria Books

Book courtesy of Atria and NetGalley

Description: In 1921, Françoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.

Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.  (publisher)

My take:  A Bookshop in Berlin is the first hand account of Françoise Frenkel and her life leading up to and including the WWII years. With WWI behind them she and her husband left Paris and opened the first French bookshop in Berlin in 1921. He eventually went into exile in France (was later rounded up and died in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland) while she stayed behind to run the shop. After Kristallnacht she fled Berlin for France and was eventually rounded up while trying to enter Switzerland. Her experiences were difficult to read but, at the same time, riveting. Not all people had her strength and determination but many did. It’s an amazing story that I’m glad I had the chance to read. Recommended to fans of memoirs of this era. I appreciated the documents and photos included at the end of the book.


About the author:

Françoise Frenkel was born in Poland in 1889. Her memoir, originally published in 1945 as Rien où poser sa tête (No Place to Lay One’s Head), was rediscovered in an attic in southern France in 2010 and republished in the original French as well as in a dozen other languages. This is its first publication in the United States. Frenkel died in Nice in 1975.

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Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

Published:  October 2019 – MIRA

Digital galley courtesy of MIRA and NetGalley

Description: Come home to Silver Springs for the holidays, where broken hearts learn to love again…together.

So much for forever. When Harper Devlin’s rock star husband ditches her on his way to the top, she takes her two daughters to her sister’s place in Silver Springs for the holidays, hoping family can heal her broken heart. But comfort comes in unexpected places when she crosses paths with local Tobias Richardson.

The moment Tobias spots Harper, he recognizes a sadness he knows all too well. After spending thirteen years in prison paying for his regretful past, Tobias is ready to make amends, and maybe helping Harper is the way to do it. But offering her a shoulder to cry on ignites a powerful attraction and a desire neither saw coming.

Fearing her reaction, Tobias doesn’t reveal his checkered past. He’s falling hard, and if Harper finds out, he’ll lose her for good, especially because her famous ex is now trying to win her back. Secrets have a way of coming out, but maybe this Christmas will bring Tobias the forgiveness—and the love—he deserves. (publisher)

My take:  Christmas in Silver Springs is book 6 in Brenda Novak’s Silver Springs series. It could stand alone but there are characters who figure into this novel who were featured in previous books so if you’ve read the series in order you’ll appreciate the context even more.

Tobias Richardson is looking for a second chance at life. He paid the price for horrible choices and results when he was a teen. Now released from prison he yearns that fresh start and he wants to make amends. He didn’t count on meeting Harper. She doesn’t know anything about his past but knows she likes the person he is. Recently divorced and the mother of two young girls she’s spending the Christmas holiday in Silver Springs with her sister and family. Can this new friendship with Tobias grow into something more? What happens when Harper’s ex-husband has second thoughts about their divorce? Tobias’s past might come back to haunt him and could effect his relationship with Harper.

If you’re a fan of the series I think you’ll enjoy the latest installment. I like a character who earns a second chance at a good life. Tobias was easy to cheer on.


BIO: Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a six-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Bookbuyer’s Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit http://www.brendanovak.com.

SOCIAL LINKS:

TWITTER: @Brenda_Novak

FB: @BrendaNovakAuthor

Insta: @authorbrendanovak 

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An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

Published:  September 2019 – HQN

Digital galley courtesy of HQN and NetGalley

Description: In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…

If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts… (publisher)

My take: Dr. Erika Sheraton is devoted to her career. She’s a surgeon at a large hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. When ordered to take a two week vacation (something she’s never done) she heads back to the Alaska mountain town where she grew up. She stays with her best friend who just happens to have a handsome brother, Reed. They have an instant attraction that continues to grow into something neither of them expected. He’s on the area Search and Rescue team which figures prominently in the plot. I liked the main characters, the challenges and decisions they faced, and enjoyed how Jennifer Snow brought them to their HEA. I look forward to book two in the Wild River series.


Author Bio: Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and four year old son. She is a member of the RWA, the Alberta Writers Guild, Canadian Authors Association and SheWrites.org. Her first Brookhollow book was a finalist in the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold contest and the Golden Quill Award. More information can be found at http://www.jennifersnowauthor.com.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @JenniferSnow18

Facebook: @jennifersnowbooks

Instagram: @jensnowauthor

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Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

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Target 

Walmart

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