The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak

  • the secrets she kept (7:26)Title:  The Secrets She Kept
  • Series:  Fairham Island #2
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Pages:  400
  • Genre:  Romantic Suspense
  • Published:  July 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it’s suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn’t believe it. 

Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he’s worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he’s built a new life in LA. He’s also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother’s death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he’s determined to find his mother’s killer. 

Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother’s final days and hours entails a very real risk. Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…  (publisher)

My take:  The Secrets She Kept is book 2 in the Fairham Island series. In book 1 we were introduced to the wealthy matriarch Josephine Lazarow. She was a complicated woman (a narcissist) who had to have control over everything and everyone in her life.

In this book a murder (or a suicide?) has taken place. The Lazarow family experiences changes they never anticipated. Josephine’s estranged son Keith returns home to find out what exactly happened to his mother. He also reconnects with Nancy, his love interest from five years earlier.  That’s not all though. Will he be able to prove that his sister couldn’t have had anything to do with their mother’s death?

This is a novel about secrets, lies, betrayals and love – and ultimately, forgiveness. I think fans of Brenda Novak and romantic suspense will enjoy The Secrets She Kept.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author has written more than fifty books, with more than four million copies in print. This four-time RITA® Award nominee has won many awards, including the National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers’ Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date she’s raised $2.7 million.


Praise for the first book in the Fairham Island series: The Secret Sister
“This emotional novel showcases Novak’s exceptional talent at creating genuine characters and real-life situations we sometimes try to dodge. The power of family is strong, and the element of mystery is stable throughout this romance. Fairham Island is painted as a picturesque seaside town, but the debut to this series could have readers believing there are a lot of buried secrets and stories to be told surrounding the residents’ wishes for peace and quiet. Completely engrossing with a twist at the end you wouldn’t dare dream of!”—RT Book Reviews (4.5 Star Top Pick)

The Secret Sister is a sweet story that touches on the trials of life and illustrates how death, loss, abuse, despair, and unexpected trials can make us stronger, but also points out that it is perfectly acceptable to find someone to lean on when you really need the help. This is a great book that romance readers and fans of general fiction are bound to enjoy.”—Portland Book Review

“Skillful plotting, well-developed characters (a blind little girl is adorable), a delightful romance, toxic family dynamics, and a puzzling mystery make this story a rewarding read that will appeal to both romance and women’s fiction fans.”—Library Journal

“In her latest, Novak neatly entwines contemporary romance and women’s fiction by delivering the emotionally compelling romance readers expect while at the same time thoughtfully exploring the other relationships every woman has in her life. Add a gothic-tinged plot, and you have a book with wide reader appeal.”— Booklist

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak is indeed the best romantic thriller I have read… Brenda Novak has a raw talent for bringing her novels to life. Realistic, suspenseful, and an edge of your seat romance that will have readers coming back for more.”—The San Francisco Book Review

Q&A with Megan Abbott and US Giveaway: You Will Know Me

you will know me (7:26)

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The audacious new novel about family and ambition from “one of the best living mystery writers” (Grantland) and bestselling, award-winning author of The Fever, Megan Abbott.

How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits — until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.

As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers — about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself — forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.

From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl” (Janet Maslin), YOU WILL KNOW ME is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of parental sacrifice, furtive desire, and the staggering force of ambition.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels Queenpin, The Song Is You, Die a Little, Bury Me Deep, The End of Everything, Dare Me, and The Fever, which was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Summer by the New York TimesPeople Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and one of the Best Books of the Year by Amazon, National Public Radio, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.

Her writing has appeared in the New York TimesSalon, the GuardianWall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times MagazineThe Believer and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the State University of New York and the New School University. In 2013-14, she served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at Ole Miss.

She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She has been nominated for many awards, including three Edgar® Awards, Hammett Prize, the Shirley Jackson Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Folio Prize.


A CONVERSATION WITH MEGAN ABBOTT: (provided by the publicist)

What was the inspiration for You Will Know Me?

I’ve always been interested in families of prodigies. How power operates in those families, how ambition does. Then, during the London Olympics four years ago, I saw this video of the parents of American gymnast Aly Raisman watching their daughter’s uneven bar routine and it kind of blew me away. They were so invested in it, so connected to her. They moved as she moved. They knew every beat of the performance. The footage went viral and the response to it was tricky. Some people found it funny, others found it problematic and there was some finger pointing. I think we all struggle with how invested parents should be in their children’s development, but with exceptionally talented children, all that is thrown into high relief.

I could just feel the book taking shape after that. How does that kind of intense focus on a child’s talent affect a marriage, for instance? What about siblings? And families in general fascinate me—the place of the greatest darkness and the greatest light.

 

You are known for writing shockingly accurate portrayals of teen angst and an uncanny ability to get inside the heads of teen girls. Why are you so drawn to this subject matter?

In some ways because teen girls are still so often dismissed or condescended to. But every woman I know is haunted in some ways by their teen years, by the choices they made then and the way they crafted their identity and developed their sense of self.

And, as a writer, it’s such rich terrain. Everything is in such high relief during those years. All the big emotions of life seem to storm through us every day. When I remember myself at that age, it was like my nerve endings were all exposed. It’s when you’re both at your most curious (and, potentially, risk-taking) and also at your most vulnerable—especially to disillusionment. And when you’re a mom, like the main character in You Will Know Me, you’re in some ways living through it all again through your daughter, which is incredibly complicated.

 

You Will Know Me is a bit of a departure in that it focuses more on the parents’ perspective. Why did you choose to shift gears in this way?

My last book, The Fever, had three viewpoints, one of whom was the father of two teens, and I really loved it. Exploring the gap between how parents view their teens and how teens view themselves, and vice versa. But it seemed thrillingly different in the case of You Will Know Me. Katie, the protagonist, is so close to her daughter, Devon, because of the way the family has circled itself around Devon’s extraordinary talent. And that closeness fascinates me.

At what point does your child become a stranger to you? Because all children need to break apart from you to become themselves, but is it slower to happen in the case of a prodigy? A case when the parent, like Katie, is so tied up in her daughter’s everyday life?

 

What research did you do into the world of uber-competitive youth gymnastics when writing You Will Know Me?

Gymnast memoirs were a huge help. I read almost every one I could get my hands on. Both the flag-waving sports ones and the tougher ones too, the exposés. The one that had the biggest impact for me was Nadia Comaneci’s Letters to a Young Gymnast, which is a brilliant book on many levels (foremost her strong voice), and is such a keen distillation of what seems a pure, fire-hardened ambition. I also talked to former gymnasts and had one of them read the manuscript.

And, I confess, watching a lot of YouTube, and diving into online chat rooms, especially those devoted to parents of gymnasts. But the book’s title comes from Nadia, who tells her reader, “I don’t know you, but you will know me.” What could be more enticing to a reader?

 

What did you learn about this world that surprised you?

Everything! I became very fixated on the mental control and struggles the gymnasts faced. How much it is a head game. And then the sport’s impact on girls’ developing bodies. It is not a universal experience, but for many girls it halts their adolescence in certain ways, or it threatens to, and this prospect fascinated me and worked its way into the novel. Your body is both your greatest gift and your worst enemy. Maybe we all feel that, in a way.

 

Have any gymnasts or parents of youth athletes read and responded to You Will Know Meyet? 

I’ve had a few early gymnast readers who’ve been very supportive. In particular, they’ve responded to the parent-booster culture in the book, the way parents invest in a gym and insert themselves into gym politics. The hothouse environment that the parent viewing area can take on. Or, “gym drama,” as it’s called. Which seems to have all the hallmarks of a great reality TV show, or a Shakespearean play.

 

After being so close to this world while researching and writing You Will Know Me, will you view the Olympics in Rio this year through a different lens?

I love watching gymnastics and this book reflects a love of, and immense respect for, the sport and the art. But in the end, I think the book is more about family and parent love than gymnastics, so probably my eyes will be more on the families than in past years. More on what it takes for a family to help make an Olympic medalist.

 

You’re working on TV scripts for your novels Dare Me (for HBO) and The Fever (for TNT). What is it like to adapt your own work for the small screen?

As much as people like to say that TV is the new novel, the two are so very different. By the time you sell it, it’s changed so much from the book—the world has gotten so much larger, you’ve had to create ways to make the story possibilities expand indefinitely—you lose all vanity about your own book. Instead, it’s something entirely new. But the biggest difference is how collaborative it is. Writing a novel, until the last stretch, is utterly solitary. Writing for TV is a cacophony of voices. Sometimes noisy, but never, ever lonely!

 

You recently joined the writing staff of David Simon’s (“The Wire”) new HBO drama “The Deuce.” How does that work differ from writing a novel? How did your career in fiction inform your work in the writers’ room? When can we see “The Deuce?”

Different in every way. I’d say apples and oranges, but maybe it’s more like apples and a large, cunning mountain lion! As collaborative as developing your work for TV is, being on staff for a show in production is a thousand times more so. You’re there to help in every way you can to bring the showrunners’ ideas to life. I think there are so many crime novelists writing for TV now because we bring a certain facility with plotting, but in the end what’s most exciting in the writers’ room is how different everyone is, how differently we see the world, and yet how we all value the same things: character, story, meaning.

And “The Deuce,” which stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, will be on HBO next year. I’ve seen the pilot, and it’s incredible.

 

Do you have time to work on another book with all of your TV project in the works? What’s next and when from Megan Abbott?

Somehow, I do! I have a new novel in the works called Give Me Your Hand, which will come out in 2018, I think. It’s about two ambitious female scientists who share a secret from their past. Very Hitchcock-inspired, this one.


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

you will know me (7:26)

Giveaway ends on August 1, 2016

Falling by Jane Green

  • Falling (7:19)Title:  Falling
  • Author:  Jane Green
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either. 

On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son. 

Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.

But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth she has discovered about herself, or risk losing it all. 

In a novel of changing seasons, shifting lives, and selfless love, a story unfolds—of one woman’s far-reaching journey to discover who she is truly meant to be…  (publisher)

My take:  Emma is really coming into her own as a thirty-something woman beginning a new career in a new town. She left a stressful job in banking in NYC and moved to Connecticut to pursue her love of interior design. It was fun to follow her progress, both emotional and professional. I also enjoyed her neighbor/landlord Dominic and his little boy Jesse. Dominic is so different from any man Emma has ever known but he’s so sincere and confident that she’s attracted to him.

Falling is about finding a life Emma didn’t even know she wanted. It’s about family, friendship, love – it’s about life.

I was completely engaged by the story until a major twist near the end. I wasn’t expecting it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it kind of took me out of the story. I’m always one who thinks it’s the author’s story to tell so I can’t really criticize a plot twist … perhaps there’s a sequel planned. It just seems to beg for a follow-up.

I think fans of the author and women’s fiction will like Falling. It’s the first book I’ve read by Jane Green and I will certainly read more of her books.

Monsters: A Love Story by Liz Kay

  • Monsters- A Love StoryTitle:  Monsters: A Love Story
  • Author:  Liz Kay
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  June 2016 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Stacey Lane feels like a monster. Tommy DeMarco might be one.

Since her husband died eight months ago, Stacey’s been a certified mess—a poet who can’t write anymore, a good mother who feels like she’s failing her kids. She’s been trying to redefine herself, to find new boundaries.

Tommy has no respect for boundaries. A surprisingly well-read A-list Hollywood star, Tommy’s fallen in love with Stacey’s novel-in-verse, a feminist reimagining of Frankenstein, no less. His passion for the book, and eventually its author, will set their lives on a collision course. They’ll make a movie, make each other crazy, and make love—but only in secret. 

As Stacey travels between her humdrum life in the suburbs of Omaha and the glamorous but fleeting escape Tommy offers in Hollywood, what begins as a distracting affair starts to pick up weight. It’s a weight that unbalances Stacey’s already unsteady life, but offers new depth to Tommy’s.

Navigating desire, love, grief, and parenthood, and brimming with award-winning poet Liz Kay’s keen emotional insight and wry humor,  Monsters: A Love Story is a witty portrait of a relationship gone off the rails, and two people who are made for each other—even if they’re not so sure they see it that way.  (publisher)

My take:  So the synopsis tells you all about the novel. I’ll just say that reading it was like watching a traffic accident in slow motion – very uncomfortable. At the same time it was a surprisingly addictive read. I didn’t want to stop reading! It’s funny, shocking, frustrating, sad – and I liked it.

Stacey is not a very likable character and yet I really felt for her. She’s vulnerable yet strong – at least that’s the image she tries to put out there. Tommy has a mercurial temperament and I never trusted him. I wanted to but couldn’t. Put them both in the Hollywood setting, add alcohol and you’ve got a hot mess. They both have kids so that adds another layer to their relationship.

Liz Kay’s novel kept me reading when I really should have been doing other things. I love when that happens. Recommended to fans of novels about dysfunctional relationships.


About the author:

Liz Kay is a founding editor of Spark Wheel Press and the journal burntdistrict.  She holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska and was the recipient of both an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Wendy Fort Foundation Prize for exemplary work in poetry.  She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and three sons. This is her debut novel.


Praise for MONSTERS: A LOVE STORY

“Witty and so nimbly-worded, Liz Kay’s Monsters: A Love Story had me at hello. From the near-madcap improbability of the novel’s premise, to the punchy repartee and ping pong banter between Stacey and Tommy, it’s impossible to resist the book’s charms. But don’t be fooled. This is more than a feel-good read.” – Jill Alexander Essbaum, New York Times-bestselling author of Hausfrau

“Magical.” —Lucy Sykes, author of The Knockoff

“Stacey is a feminist poet in Hollywood – you got to love her for that alone. But you also love her because  she’s sharp, tough, and honest. The novel’s wry insights into messy relationships  put me in mind of  The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. and Emma Straub’s The Vacationers.” —Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola

“Smart, witty, hilarious, raunchy, irresistible.” —Catherine Texier, author of Victorine

“Reads like a seduction. I couldn’t stop.” —Amy Hassinger, author of The Priest’s Madonna

The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig

  • the memory of lemon cakeTitle:  The Memory of Lemon
  • Author:  Judith Fertig
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  June 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  A crisp tang of citrus that is at once poignant and familiar, sharpening the senses and opening the mind to possibilities once known and long forgotten…
 
Claire “Neely” Davis is no ordinary pastry chef. Her flavor combinations aren’t just a product of a well-honed palate: she can “taste” people’s emotions, sensing the ingredients that will touch her customers’ souls. Her gift has never failed her—until she meets a free-spirited bride-to-be and her overbearing society mother. The two are unable to agree on a single wedding detail, and their bickering leaves Neely’s intuition frustratingly silent—right when she needs it most.
 
Between trying to navigate a divorce, explore a new relationship, and handle the reappearance of her long-absent father, Neely is struggling to make sense of her own conflicting emotions, much less those of her hard-to-please bride. But as she embarks on a flavorful quest to craft the perfect wedding celebration, she’ll uncover a family history that sheds light on both the missing ingredients and her own problems—and illustrates how the sweet and sour in life often combine to make the most delicious memories… (publisher)

My take:  Neely is a gifted pastry chef. Not only can she tell which flavors a customer will like but she can tell what they need. She can sense their history – going back generations. I loved that aspect of the novel. It made me think about my ancestors and their life experiences and how everything led to where I am now.

Neely has turmoil in her life. She’s waiting for her soon-to-be ex husband to sign the divorce papers so she can move on with her life (hopefully with a certain man from her past). She also has a challenging wedding customer – bride and her mother. And then she receives a letter from her estranged father. There’s a lot going on in her life.

I liked how Judith Fertig blended everything together to make a lovely story of people finding their way. The theme I appreciated most was that we can find inner strength we didn’t know we possessed to carry us through many situations. Recommended to fans of fiction with a dash of magical realism and pastry. A Readers Guide is included at the end.


About the author:

Judith Fertig, author of The Cake Therapist, is an award-winning cookbook author whose food and lifestyle writing has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including Bon Appétit, Saveur, and the New York Times. Judith attended Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris and the Graduate Summer Workshop at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She teaches cooking classes across the country and lives in Kansas City.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals: (linked to Mailbox Monday)

the light of paris (audio)  the other daughter

Last week on Bookfan:

a curious beginning - new cover by the numbers image001-2 better get to livin' (5:31) girl in the afternoon (7:12)

Reading plan for this week:

Firefly Summer (7:26)


Buzz Books 2016

buzz books 2016 RomanceIf you’re a book blogger do you take advantage of the Publishers Lunch books? They’re the ones that feature excerpts from upcoming books. I’ve enjoyed past editions of general fiction and now they’ve released a Romance edition. I found it at NetGalley.

This is a great way to get a taste of books to read in the upcoming season. I found a few favorite authors and clicked the links (when available) to request the galleys. Thanks to Publishers Lunch for offering a Romance edition!

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Girl in the Afternoon by Serena Burdick

girl in the afternoon (7:12)

Description:

Better Get To Livin’ by Sally Kilpatrick

  • better get to livin' (5:31)Title:  Better Get To Livin’
  • Author:  Sally Kilpatrick
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  May 2016 – Kensington Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Presley Cline has put aside dreams of Hollywood stardom and come back to Ellery, Tennessee, to work in a beauty shop. In truth, the dreams in question were more her mother’s than her own. Presley may have the face and body of a movie icon, but she lacks the stomach for it. Yet a loving relationship and normal home life seem almost as unattainable as an Oscar. Being able to see and speak to dead people certainly isn’t helping. 

Presley’s first job, beautifying “clients” at the Anderson Funeral Home, is quite a change from working on a movie set. The place is home to dozens of ghosts all hoping that Presley can help them move on–and also one very-much-alive owner, Declan Anderson. Like Presley, Declan is caught between following family expectations and his own aspirations. But with a little meddling from loved ones and locals–both living and dead–Presley is starting to see that life is too short not to be who you want to be, and the most rewarding journeys involve some unexpected detours…  (publisher)

My take:  Better Get To Livin’ isn’t listed as part of a series but its the third of Sally Kilpatrick’s books that takes place in Ellery, Tennessee. Ellery is a small town where everyone went to the same school and everyone knows (or think they know) your business. If that isn’t enough, Presley Cline comes back from Hollywood after compromising photos appear in a fan magazine – so now the whole world knows her business.

Fortunately for Presley, she went to beauty school when she first arrived in Hollywood to help pay the bills while she waited for her big break. That is a huge help when she comes back to Ellery because she’s broke. She gets a job at The Holy Roller (ha!) and is sent to a local funeral home to ready a person for a visitation. That’s where she reconnects with Declan Anderson, funeral director and former high school math tutor to Presley. That’s also where her gift of seeing spirits of the departed becomes apparent to the reader.

This isn’t a paranormal novel but I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. This is a story about one’s hopes and dreams. It’s about finding out and deciding what to do – live for someone else or appreciate every minute of every day and along the way figuring out what your dreams are. I enjoyed it all and hope for more stories from Ellery with all its quirky characters.

Spotlight/US Giveaway: All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

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By the Numbers by Jen Lancaster

  • by the numbersTitle:  By the Numbers
  • Author:  Jen Lancaster
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  June 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Actuary Penny Sinclair has a head for business, and she always makes rational decisions. Knowing that 60 percent of spouses cheat and that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, she wasn’t too surprised when her husband had an affair. (That he did so with a woman their daughter’s age? Well, that part did sting a bit.) She just made sure she got everything in the divorce, including their lovely old Victorian house. And as soon as her younger daughter has her hipster-fabulous wedding in the backyard, she’s trading it in for a condo in downtown Chicago…

Well within the average market time in her area, Penny gets an offer on the house. But then life happens. Her children, her parents, and her ex come flying back to the nest, all in need of Penny’s emotional – and financial – support. Spread thin, Penny becomes the poster child for the “sandwich generation,” when all she really wanted to do was make managing director, buy a white couch, and maybe go on a Match.com date… (publisher)

My take:  Penny Sinclair is a recently divorced actuary with an almost empty nest in suburban Chicago. She’s planning her daughter’s wedding and once that takes place she can get on with her life. Penny is set to accept a big promotion at work. She also wants to sell her house and move to a smaller place downtown. Can it be that simple? In a word, no.

Penny has to deal with the results from her parenting decisions when the kids were young and she was climbing the ladder at work. She felt guilty and took the path of least resistance which worked at the time but did a disservice to them all in the long run. Despite all that I found Penny to be a sympathetic character. She was doing her best to keep things on track while maintaining her sanity – not an easy task. When Penny thought things couldn’t get more hectic her parents move into her guest room and her ex-husband into her den. Didn’t anyone get the memo about her plans??

Jen Lancaster’s novel about a woman whose chickens have come home to roost had me alternately cringing and laughing out loud. By the Numbers is an entertaining story, perfect for the beach.


About the author:

Jen Lancaster is the New York Times bestselling author of eight memoirs and five novels. She has appeared on the Today Show, The Joy Behar Show, and NPR’s All Things Considered. She resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and their ever-expanding menagerie of ill-behaved pets. Author websites: jenlancaster.comfacebook.com/AuthorJenLancastertwitter.com/altgeldshrugged

Spotlight/US Giveaway: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning is back with a new cover for the reprint release on July 12th.

To celebrate NAL is giving away a copy to one lucky US reader!

a curious beginning - new cover

Description:  Veronica Speedwell is not your typical Victorian-era woman. Scoffing at the notion of marriage, she is a lepidopterist by training and has traveled the world searching for rare specimens of butterflies, leading to several series of adventures around the world. However, mere hours after burying the second of the two spinster aunts who raised her, she comes home to find her cottage being ransacked and is saved by the kind, yet mysterious Baron von Stauffenbach, who warns her of impending danger. Thus begins the aptly named A CURIOUS BEGINNING (NAL Trade Paperback Reprint; July 12, 2016; $15.00), now available in trade paperback.

Packing her few belongings (most importantly her trusty butterfly net), Veronica follows the Baron to London where he leaves her in the care of the ill-tempered naturalist, Stoker. However, the Baron himself is brutally murdered and Stoker fears that they may be being set-up to take the fall, he and Veronica elude the authorities. Aided by her sharp wit (and tongue), the hirsute Stoker, and a well-placed hatpin, Veronica flees London. However, there are still mysterious men trying to single her out. And Stoker, keeping his oath to the Baron, tries to keep her safe at any cost. What follows is a series of adventures involving noble families, harrowing boat escapes, a stuffed mouse, and a traveling freak show.

As Veronica and Stoker get closer to uncovering the Baron’s killer, more details emerge about how this is related to Veronica, as there is still a threat to her safety. And that threat is tied to her true parentage.


Deanna Raybourn_credit Sigmon Taylor PhotographyAbout the author:

Deanna Raybourn is the author of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Lady Julia Grey mysteries and several standalone novels. She lives in Virginia with her family.

 


Praise for A CURIOUS BEGINNING:

Deanna Raybourn…brings energetic storytelling and a strong sense of history to A CURIOUS BEGINNING.” —South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Fans will be delighted with Raybourn’s return to this era, while page-flipping newcomers will find them full of witty riposte and elegant descriptives…. Both will be crying for more, and Raybourn delivers.” —Florida Times-Union

Raybourn introduces her latest feisty heroine, deftly twining together suspense, romance, and cracking good dialogue….As Veronica and Stoker careen through dastardly plot twists, they match wits, bantering with skill worthy of Tracey and Hepburn. A thrilling—and hilarious—beginning to a promising new series.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Creating strong character pairings, placing the action in unexpectedly unusual but actual historical settings, and folding it all into a clever mystery are hallmarks of this author’s magical, signature style.” Library Journal (starred review)

A CURIOUS BEGINNING will leave you, as it left me, whimpering for more.” —Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of the Flavia de Luce series

“The intrepid Veronica’s witty narration and the sexual tension she shares with the equally eccentric and articulate Stoker deliver a fun read with promises of more to come.” —Publishers Weekly

Deanna Raybourn writes with wisdom, sass and a rich texture that is a joy to read.  I love this book!  A CURIOUS BEGINNING brings us the powerful Veronica Speedwell who triumphs over diversity and danger with wit, charm and uncanny determination.  This is a real find for mystery lovers!” —Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River series

A CURIOUS BEGINNING is a fantastic read, both wickedly clever and devilishly amusing. Like a grown-up Flavia de Luce, Victorian explorer and naturalist Veronica Speedwell is a joy—slaying rapscallions, scoundrels and dullards alike with her bon mots—or sharpened hatpin. She’s an unflappable, unrepentant, and thoroughly delightful butterfly of a new heroine—and I’m already impatiently drumming my fingers awaiting the next book.” — Susan Elia MacNeal, author of the New York Times bestselling Maggie Hope series

“I’ve been a big fan of Deanna’s for some time and this book was a treat to read. How could I resist a royal scandal, an Irish plot, and a really sexy hero who has a tendency to work with no shirt on? Deanna is one of the few writers who can make history feel immediate and exciting without losing a feel for the period.” —Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of Her Royal Spyness series and winner of the Agatha Award for Queen of Hearts 


US Giveaway

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a curious beginning - new cover

Giveaway ends July 20, 2016 at 9am EDT

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

Absalom's Daughters  the last treasure  buzz books 2016 Romance  Someone to Love (11:1)

Last week on Bookfan:

when the moon is low   Riverbend Road (6:21)   all the time in the world   Absalom's Daughters

Reading plan for this week:

The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay (Aug 9)  swear on this life (blog tour 8:11)

 

Saturday Spotlight: Absalom’s Daughters by Suzanne Feldman

Today I want to shine the spotlight on a new novel by Suzanne Feldman. I hope you’ll take time to read the excerpt.

Absalom's Daughters

Description:

Self-educated and brown-skinned, Cassie works full time in her grandmother’s laundry in rural Mississippi. Illiterate and white, Judith falls for “colored music” and dreams of life as a big city radio star. These teenaged girls are half-sisters. And when they catch wind of their wayward father’s inheritance coming down in Virginia, they hitch their hopes to a road trip together to claim what’s rightly theirs.

In an old junk car, with a frying pan, a ham, and a few dollars hidden in a shoe, they set off through the American Deep South of the 1950s, a bewitchingly beautiful landscape as well as one bedeviled by racial strife and violence. Suzanne Feldman’s Absalom’s Daughters combines the buddy movie, the coming-of-age tale, and a dash of magical realism to enthrall and move us with an unforgettable, illuminating novel.


Chapter 1:

Cassie and Lil Ma and Grandmother lived in a house at the far end of Negro Street in two rooms over the laundry that they ran in Heron-Neck. Whoever had lived there before had papered the walls of the upstairs rooms, every inch of them, with newspapers, spread-out magazine pages, and letters. One crumbling page of newspaper showed a white man with a rifle standing over an animal, which Lil Ma said was a lion, which Grandmother said was a wild animal from Africa that would eat you in one bite. Below the lion a page torn from a magazine showed a rabbit eating a head of lettuce. Underneath the rabbit the words said, Ridding your garden of pests. Over by the back window were pictures of ladies in beautiful dresses, all tall and slender, like Lil Ma. There were no pictures that looked like Grandmother, who was short and round. None of the ladies on the walls were colored either.

Lil Ma taught Cassie to read by showing her the words on the walls and making her say them properly. Before bed, she and Cassie would find a patch of wall and sound out the letters. There was a picture of an elephant by one of the front windows with words underneath that said, Tuska Lives on Coney Island. Coney Island was a long way from Heron-Neck, Mississippi, Lil Ma said. One summer when the circus came to town, Lil Ma took Cassie down to the other end of Negro Street and across the railroad tracks to see the animals, but said Grandmother wouldn’t want them to spend the nickel to see the show. They watched an elephant sway in its chains and a lion pace in a cage. Clowns sang a funny song; a monkey in a little suit danced and caught peanuts in its mouth. Music started inside the tent, and the white people went in with their ice cream cones. Cassie and Lil Ma went home, across the tracks and back to the laundry, where Grandmother was waiting with a stack of linens to be pressed. Continue reading.


Feldman, Suzanne (Tim Stephens)About the author:

Suzanne Feldman, a recipient of The Missouri Review’s Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize and a finalist for the Bakeless Prize in fiction, holds an MA in fiction from Johns Hopkins University and a BFA in art from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is the author of award-winning science fiction titles such as Speaking Dreams and The Annunciate, published under the pen name Severna Park. Her short fiction has appeared in NarrativeThe Missouri ReviewGargoyle, and other literary journals. She lives in Frederick, Maryland.

Suzanne Feldman Facebook Suzanne Feldman Facebook

Photo credit: Tim Stephens


Absalom's Daughters

“Magnificent…. reminiscent of both William Faulkner and Toni Morrison, but her voice is entirely her own and utterly original… a monumental new talent.”

KIRKUS REVIEWS (STARRED REVIEW)

BUY THE BOOK:
Buy Absalom's Daughters by Suzanne Feldman at Amazon Buy Absalom's Daughters by Suzanne Feldman at Barnes & Noble Buy Absalom's Daughters by Suzanne Feldman at Indiebound Buy the ebook edition of Absalom's Daughters by Suzanne Feldman at the Apple iBookstore

Spotlight/US Giveaway: All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell

all the time in the world

Description:

Charlotte, a gifted and superbly trained young musician, has been blindsided by a shocking betrayal in her promising career when she takes a babysitting job with the McLeans, a glamorous Upper East Side Manhattan family. At first, the nanny gig is just a way of tiding herself over until she has licked her wounds and figured out her next move as a composer in New York. But, as it turns out, Charlotte is naturally good with children and becomes as deeply fond of the two little boys as they are of her. When an unthinkable tragedy leaves the McLeans bereft, Charlotte is not the only one who realizes that she’s the key to holding little George and Matty’s world together. Suddenly, in addition to life’s usual puzzles, such as sorting out which suitor is her best match, she finds herself with an impossible choice between her life-long dreams and the torn-apart family she’s come to love. By turns hilarious, sexy, and wise, Caroline Angell’s remarkable and generous debut is the story of a young woman’s discovery of the things that matter most.



About the Author:

Caroline Angell grew up in Endwell, N.Y., the daughter of an electrical engineer and a public school music teacher. She has a B. A. in musical theater from American University and currently lives and works in Manhattan. As a playwright and director, she has had her work performed at regional theaters in New York City and in the Washington, D.C., area. All the Time in the World is her first novel. Follow Caroline on Twitter


Praise for All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell

“An extraordinary book. Caroline Angell is wise beyond her years in rendering the heartache of grief, and all the different kinds of love we are capable of feeling. I was haunted by All the Time in the World long after finishing the last page. It reads like the work of a mature writer at the height of her powers, not a debut novel. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Angell will write next.”  —Alice LaPlante, New York Times bestselling author of Turn of Mind

“In All the Time in the World, Caroline Angell explores the different ways in which people find their way through grief, and she does it bravely and masterfully. A heart wrenching yet life affirming novel. What a debut!”  — Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle

“Caroline Angell deftly handles the complexities of love, grief, hope, humor and family. All the Time in the World is funny, beautifully textured and deeply moving. An absolute joy to read.” 
— Allie Larkin, author of Stay and Why Can’t I Be You?

“There’s wit, wisdom, and insight on every page of Caroline Angell’s great debut novel. But, more importantly than any of that are the emotional truths she reveals at every turn.” — Matthew Norman, author of Domestic Violets


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all the time in the world
Giveaway ends on July 15, 2016