Somewhere Along The Way by Jodi Thomas – review and giveaway

Title: Somewhere Along The Way

Author: Jodi Thomas

Genre: Fiction

About: (Book blurb) In the two years since she claimed Harmony, Texas, as her home, eighteen-year-old Reagan Truman has found herself drawn to others who have made their way there, too. Gabe Leary, for instance, whose plan to hide out in Harmony is dashed when he becomes the town hero. Then there’s Liz Matheson: Vulnerable and fresh out of law school, Liz has never been needed by anyone—until an unsettling encounter with Gabe changes everything. And there’s Liz’s brother, volunteer fire chief Hank Matheson, who’s starting to wonder where the town’s sheriff, Alex McAllen, will ever set the date to marry him.

As for Reagan, who’s been shaped by the loneliness she’s know most of her life, she’s finally found a place she belongs—and doesn’t want anything to get in her way. But when her life is put in jeopardy and the whole town comes together to save her, she’ll discover that trusting the love that’s come into our hearts is the greatest gift of all…

Thoughts: Jodi Thomas takes us back to the small Texas town of Harmony. Three families established Harmony in the 1880s: the Trumans, Mathesons and the McAllens.  Jeremiah and his “long lost” niece Reagan are all that’s left of the Trumans.  Uncle Jeremiah is getting on in years and his health is not the best. Reagan is almost 18 and can’t wait to be finished with high school.  She and her beau Noah have decided to just be friends but that’s not as easy as it should be. Rea gets more than she bargained for when she fills in for a downtrodden waitress at the local diner.

Liz Matheson is trying to prove to everyone that she can make it on her own – as a new lawyer and as a young woman.  Gabe Leary just wants to be left alone, to not be found.  For some reason the two of them can’t leave each other alone.

Fire chief Hank Matheson is still waiting for sheriff Alex McAllen to marry him.  She seems happy with the way things are between them until she realizes that things could change.

One of my favorite characters from the first book is Tyler Wright, the funeral home director.  His heartache is palpable as he writes a daily email to the woman he can’t forget but also knows better than to expect a reply.

There are many more characters in this latest Harmony novel.  Some we met in the first book and some are new.  Jodi Thomas fills her books with characters I think about long after turning the last page.  They are well-drawn, regular people with everyday problems (well, most of them anyway).  I love the dialogue which is honest, funny, and emotional but never corny or unbelievable. There is suspense, drama, and romance.  All make for a good story that ended way before I was ready for it to be over.

Source: Jodi Thomas

Recommend: Yes, to fans of Jodi Thomas, the Harmony Series, a good story. Although you could read this novel without reading the first book, I recommend you read Welcome To Harmony and then Somewhere Along The Way.

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Jodi Thomas sent one copy of Somewhere Along The Way

for a giveaway.  Open to US residents.

Click here for more details and to fill out the form.

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Jodi Thomas guest post – Somewhere Along The Way

Please join me in welcoming author and guest blogger Jodi Thomas.  I’m a fan of the Harmony Series and am happy to tell you that the second book, Somewhere Along The Way, will be in stores on November 2 – that’s next Tuesday!

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Good morning everyone.  Thanks for inviting me to drop by and visit.  I’d like to welcome you to step into my second book in the Harmony Series.  SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY.  This is my 30th book and what I believe will be one you’ll keep and read again and again.

In this book I had a great time writing about love at different ages and how we all fall in love different ways.  Sometime it comes softly after growing up with someone and until you realize there was never a time you didn’t love them and sometimes it slams into you all at once with a kiss.

 

Liz and Gabe’s story from SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY

“I’ll take it in the living room,” she said. Liz walked across the hall, picked up the phone, and waited for the click from the kitchen before speaking.

“Elizabeth Matheson,” she said in her most professional voice.

“I need your help.”

He hadn’t said his name; he hadn’t needed to. She’d know Gabriel’s voice anywhere.

“Where are you?”

“County sheriff’s office,” he said. “They’re about to take me up to a holding cell. Ask for Gabe Leary, Elizabeth, not Smith, and get here as fast as you can.”

She’s already figured out that Smith probably wasn’t his real name. “What did you do?”

“Nothing,” he answered. “But they think I may have killed someone.”

Liz told herself she was a lawyer. Whether he did or didn’t commit the crime, he had a right to counsel. Only she wasn’t sure she could go through with it if he had. She wasn’t sure which bothered her most: that he might be lying, or that if he was, she’d kissed a murderer.

She gripped the phone for a minute, trying to think.

“Elizabeth,” he whispered again. “Are you still there? I’m no good around people. I seem to be causing more trouble for myself than helping.” He was quiet as if listening to her breathe, and then he added, “I need you.”

She straightened. “I’ll be right there.”

She hung up and walked back into the dining room, where everyone was having dessert. “I have to go. I’m needed over at the jail.”

“A client,” Claire said. “Oh, how exciting. Little sister has a real client.”

Liz grabbed her coat and purse. As she walked out the door, she yelled back, “No. A date.”

 

Come along with me on this journey.  I’ll make you laugh and cry and smile at the ending.  I promise you’ll care about the people of Harmony.

Jodi Thomas




Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today best-selling author of 31 novels and 8 short story collections. As of July 2006, she was the 11th woman to be inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. She is also currently serving as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

 

www.jodithomas.com


The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry

Title: The Perfect Love Song

Author: Patti Callahan Henry

Genre: Fiction

About: (book blurb) Jimmy Sullivan has been living on the road with his brother, Jack, and his band The Unknown Souls. Without a place to call home, Jimmy and Jack lead a nomadic life filled with music and anonymous cities. When they return to a place Jimmy never wants to see again —their old hometown of Seaboro, South Carolina —he falls in love with Charlotte Carrington. With his soul now filled with hope, Jimmy writes his first love song. When he performs it at a holiday concert to a standing ovation, the lyrics are dubbed the ““Perfect Love Song,” so much so that Jimmy finds himself going on tour with famous country music stars, catapulted into a world where the trappings of fame and fortune reign supreme. All too soon, the hope that had once inspired Jimmy to write such beautiful, genuine lyrics is overshadowed by what the song can do for him and his career. In his thirst for recognition, he agrees to miss Jack’s wedding in Ireland to sing at a Christmas Eve concert. And his ties to Charlotte seem to be ever so quickly slipping away. Alone in New York City on Christmas Eve, Jimmy finally sees —with the help of a Christmas miracle or two —that his material gains are nothing compared to love, that he is losing all that really matters in his life. Is it too late to find his way to Ireland, to his brother, and to love?

Descriptive Words: A sweet and magical tale of love and forgiveness.

Thoughts: 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.  I wish the main characters had been a bit more developed.  I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t read When Light Breaks, the fact that it’s a short book (224 pages), or if it’s just me,  but I didn’t connect with them.  That said, if you’re looking for a bit of an escape during the busy holidays, this could be the book for you.

Source: Library

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Why I Chose: I’ve enjoyed other books by the author;  it’s on the Okra Picks challenge list.

Recommend? Maybe, to fans of Patti Callahan Henry and a sweet love story.


A Cedar Key Christmas by Terri DuLong

Title: A Cedar Key Christmas (from Holiday Magic)

Author: Terri DuLong

Genre: Fiction

About: (Goodreads synopsis) Single mom Josie Sullivan is proud of her young daughter, Orli, for helping local fisherman Mr. Al restore his crumbling home. And when Mr. Al’s nephew, Ben, pays a visit, Josie realizes just how much Christmas magic one good deed can bring.

Descriptive Words: Feel good Christmas season story

Thoughts: When one of Cedar Key’s senior citizens faces losing his home and being placed in a nursing home he finds out he has more friends than he realized.  Led by one eleven year old girl (Orli) and her mother, Josie, the good people of the small Florida island community pull together to help Mr. Al.  They need to convince his nephew Ben that Mr. Al is capable of living on his own. First, Josie needs to lose the chip on her shoulder that keeps getting in the way of her relationships – including the one with Ben.

Terri DuLong’s sweet Christmas season novella introduces characters and brings back old friends from previous Cedar Key novels.  I enjoyed them all and hope to read more about Josie and Ben in a future Cedar Key novel.

Source: Kensington Books, Terri DuLong

Recommend? Yes, to fans of the series as well as Christmas/holiday fiction.  It’s part of Holiday Magic which also contains novellas by Fern Michaels, Cathy Lamb and Mary Carter.  I plan to read the rest of the collection in December.


Safe From The Sea by Peter Geye

Title: Safe From The Sea

Author: Peter Geye

Genre: Fiction

About: (from the book blurb) Set against the powerful lakeshore landscape of northern Minnesota, Safe from the Sea is a heartfelt novel in which a son returns home to reconnect with his estranged and dying father thirty-five years after the tragic wreck of a Great Lakes ore boat that the father only partially survived and that has divided them emotionally ever since. When his father for the first time finally tells the story of the horrific disaster he has carried with him so long, it leads the two men to reconsider each other. Meanwhile, Noah’s own struggle to make a life with an absent father has found its real reward in his relationship with his sagacious wife, Natalie, whose complications with infertility issues have marked her husband’s life in ways he only fully realizes as the reconciliation with his father takes shape.

Thoughts: Peter Geye’s debut novel is one of the best I’ve read in a long time.   Conflict between father and son is nothing new but the reason behind Geye’s characters’ estrangement is heartbreaking and tragic.  Noah’s understanding of his father is rooted in his childhood version.  He believes that what he knows of his father from growing up with and without him is the truth.  And on the surface it is. But there’s another side to the story – his father’s side.  Noah and his father give each other a last gift of truth and understanding –  the story of before and after the disaster on Lake Superior.  In doing so they are both free to move forward.

Geye’s wonderful description of the Lake Superior shore, the ore boat Ragnarøk, and the family cabin pulled me into the novel.  He tells a riveting story of not only an epic storm but also of people whose lives were forever changed.

Source:  LTER – I also bought a copy at the author’s signing/reading event at my local indie bookshop.

Recommend? Yes.  This is one that I expect to reread and will stay in my personal library.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Author of Safe From The Sea

Peter Geye

 

Casting About by Terri DuLong

Author: Terri DuLong

Genre: Fiction

About: Married only a few months, Monica and Adam Brooks’ honeymoon takes a turn when Adam’s ex-wife is ruled unfit to parent their 8 year-old-daughter Clarissa and the girl is sent to live with the newlyweds. Monica has never considered herself to be mother material so having a child in the house is an adjustment.  The little girl is understandably shy but also happy to be living with her father.  Monica vows to try to be a good step-mother.

There’s also some drama in the little town of Cedar Key.  A big-city developer is sniffing around with plans to buy property and bring in some up-scale businesses. The community has prided itself in maintaining it’s charm so citizens are upset at the thought of becoming a snobby resort town.

Drama on a personal level occurs when illness strikes one of the  main characters.

Descriptive Words:  Heartwarming series.

Thoughts: This is the second book of the Cedar Key series.  Terri DuLong’s Cedar Key is home to genuine, caring, and nice people.  In the first book (Spinning Forward) we met Sydney, Monica’s mother, who arrived in Cedar Key to visit a friend and wound up finding family.  She decided to settle down in the town, opened a yarn shop and started a new life.   In Casting About Sydney’s daughter has purchased her mother’s shop after Sydney moved to France with her new husband.  I really enjoyed how Monica grew as a character throughout the novel.  She has a loving husband and a step-daughter who needs some mothering – and she steps up to the challenge.  Monica finds out what it takes to be a mother.

I liked the supporting characters: Grace, Monica’s best friend who runs the local coffee shop; Dora, Monica’s aunt who would do anything for her niece; and Opal, Adam’s mother who is a bit of an eccentric but has a heart of gold.  There are a few more who add to the charming, small town feel of the novel.

I appreciated that Terri DuLong wrote Adam as such a solid character.  It was nice to see a positive and strong male who is assertive but also respectful and supportive of his wife and daughter.

Casting About is a lovely novel.  I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones in the next book in the series.

Source: Kensington

Recommend? Yes, to fans of the Cedar Key series, small town fiction, heart-warming novels.

Pub. date: October 26, 2010

Weekend cooking: Muffins

at Beth Fish Reads

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A few days ago I saw a tweet from @skrishna about the Muffins That Taste Like Donuts recipe.  Click the recipe title link to see the recipe.   It’s at the Tasty Kitchen on the Pioneer Woman’s website.  Since I had all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge I decided to give it a try and am pleased to tell you I have a new “go to” breakfast recipe.  If you’re looking for a flavorful, surprisingly easy recipe this could be one for you!

Believe It, Be It by Ali Vincent

Title: Believe It, Be It

Author: Ali Vincent

Genre: Memoir

About: Ali Vincent was the first female Biggest Loser winner.  This book is about her experience with the show and her life since.

Descriptive Words: Inspirational story of weight loss and other changes.

Thoughts: Ali Vincent’s book is named for the mantra she repeated each day while participating in the Biggest Loser television show.  It reinforced the message that if she wanted to reach the goal of winning the Biggest Loser title she would need to believe she could do it.  She had to believe in herself. This became one of the first steps in her journey of weight loss and life change.

Ms. Vincent shares her background story – what it was like to grow up in her family, etc.  She tells the story of the day she and her mom decided to try out for the reality weight loss show and the steps that brought them to winning their spots on the cast.  I’m a fan of the show and really enjoyed reading about the details of what goes on 24/7 at the Biggest Loser ranch:  diet and exercise as well as addressing personal issues that led to poor eating habits.  I found it interesting that the contestants prepare their own food – there are no professional chefs cooking for the cast.

Ali and her mom were sent home after the fourth week.  She continued to believe she would return to the finale with the most percentage of weight loss.  This belief motivated her to keep her new eating and exercise habits.  It’s a good thing since a few weeks later she received a call from the show’s producer saying all the contestants who’d been sent home were coming back to the ranch for a weigh-in. The female and male with the most weight loss (percentage) would stay at the ranch and continue on with the show.  Ali was the top female.

After the Biggest Loser finale episode Ali was faced with returning to her home and getting on with life.  She tells how she dealt with family, friends, and new directions in her life.  I found the tips for maintaining weight loss to be realistic and helpful.

Ms. Vincent is creating a foundation that will be “rooted in health and wellness and will help draw out and celebrate every child’s innate gifts and aspirations”.  It will be named the Believe It, Be It Foundation.

Source: Rodale Books via NetGalley

Recommend? Yes, to fans of inspirational stories and The Biggest Loser television show.


Ten Ways To Be Adored When Landing A Lord by Sarah MacLean

Author: Sarah MacLean

Genre: Historical Romance

About: Lord Nicholas St. John has made the list of London’s Lords to Land – a list he wishes not to be on.  Pearls and Pelisses, the ladies magazine responsible for the list, offers lessons in how to land these lords.  The ladies of London have Nick in their sights so he and his trusted friend Rock happily accept a request to find the Duke of Leighton’s sister who has gone missing.  Their search takes them to Yorkshire and ultimately Townsend Park – home to Lady Isabel Townsend.  Isabel’s only relative is her young brother, and  future earl, James.  Her father left his wife and children and went to London to live a scandalous lifestyle.  In doing so he wasted his fortune and shamed his family.  His wife took to her bed and slowly faded away.  He died penniless leaving his children only Townsend Park which is in disrepair.

Nick has occasion to save Isabel from a runaway team of horses and that leads Isabel to invite Nick and Rock to Townsend Park.  Knowing Nick is an esteemed antiquarian she wants him to see her statuary collection.  Selling the marbles is her only hope to raise funds to repair the house.  She needs the house because in addition to Isabel and her brother, there are about two dozen other young women living there.  Isabel has become a protector of sorts.  She takes in wayward girls who have nowhere else to go.  She has to keep that a secret because it could be seen as aiding and abetting these runaways.  Little does Nick know that the girl he and Rock are searching for is practically under their nose.

Descriptive Words: Romantic, amusing, steamy.

Thoughts: After reading Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake (MacLean’s previous book) I knew I’d enjoy “Ten Ways”.  I love the way she works humor into her characters.  Yes, there’s drama and romance but I find the sparkle she gives her main characters wonderful.  They are honorable, trustworthy, at times self-deprecating and at other times laugh-out-loud funny.  MacLean has a gift for writing dialogue.  I look forward to the next book in the series.

Source: HarperCollins via NetGalley

Recommend? Yes, to fans of Historical Romance and Sarah MacLean.


Attention Aspiring Novelists!

Evan Marshall and Martha Jewett, creators of The Marshall Plan ® Novel Writing Software and Ebooks are hosting a fiction makeover contest for aspiring novelists in honor of National Novel Writing Month.

Simply click here for more information.  Entrants must not have published a novel with a major commercial publisher.

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Evan Marshall is an internationally recognized expert on fiction writing and author of the “Hidden Manhattan” and “Jane Stuart and Winky” mystery series. A former book editor, for 27 years he has been a leading literary agent specializing in fiction. His Marshall Plan® Novel Writing Software, written with Martha Jewett, is an adaptation of his bestselling Marshall Plan® series.

Martha Jewett is an internationally recognized expert on business books. A former award-winning business book editor at McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, and HarperBusiness, she is currently a literary agent and editorial consultant specializing in business books. An avid memoirist, she blogs at http://www.writeyourmemoir.com. She co-created with Evan Marshall The Marshall Plan® Novel Writing Software, an adaptation of the bestselling Marshall Plan® series.

The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens

Author: Lori Lansens

Genre: Fiction

About: (Book blurb) On the eve of their Silver Anniversary, Mary Gooch is waiting for her husband Jimmy–still every inch the handsome star athlete he was in high school–to come home. As night turns to day, it becomes frighteningly clear to Mary that he is gone. Through the years, disappointment and worry have brought Mary’s life to a standstill, and she has let her universe shrink to the well-worn path from the bedroom to the refrigerator. But her husband’s disappearance startles her out of her inertia, and she begins a desperate search.

For the first time in her life, she boards a plane and flies across the country to find her lost husband. So used to hiding from the world, Mary finds that in the bright sun and broad vistas of California, she is forced to look up from the pavement. And what she finds fills her with inner strength she’s never felt before. Through it all, Mary not only finds kindred spirits, but reunites with a more intimate stranger no longer sequestered by fear and habit: herself.

Descriptive Words: One woman’s journey of self-discovery

Thoughts: This is such an intriguing novel.  I loved getting to know Mary Gooch. Lori Lansens gives the reader a lot of back story which I appreciated.  Watching Mary come alive as she set out on her search for her husband was enthralling.  The fact that she’d hardly been anywhere her whole life made me cheer her on all the more as she drove to Toronto, hopped a plane for California, and trusted seemingly kind strangers.  I wasn’t cheering the fact that she was looking for Gooch but more that she was making decisions and seeing them through.

Mary met so many interesting people once she arrived in California: the car service driver,  the Mexican day laborers, a hair stylist, a well-to-do mother of triplets (whose husband had recently left her).  Getting to know them a bit prompted Mary to ask herself questions about her own expectations of life, herself, Gooch.   Answering the questions started change within Mary which in turn led to other changes – much like the butterfly emerging from the cocoon.

Source: Audiobook (giveaway win)

Why I Chose: Selection of the Word Shakers Online Book Club

Recommend? Yes.  It would be a great book club selection.

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Okra Picks Challenge

I’ve decided to sign up for another reading challenge.  Kathy of Bermudaonion’s Weblog is hosting the Okra Picks Challenge.

Kathy attended the recent Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show and explains: “Each season, SIBA selects a dozen Southern books to handsell and those books are called Okra Picks.   Okra Picks authors are given a sash to wear at the trade show, and believe me when I tell you those sashes are worn with pride!”

You can click here to get the challenge details and the list of Okra Picks.

I’ll aim for the Goober level 🙂 (1-3 books) and will list the books here:

1.  The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry

2.  Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel by Tom Franklin

3.

Challenge runs from Oct.1, 2010 to March 31, 2011