The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Title:  The Shoemaker’s Wife

Author:  Adriana Trigiani

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Published:  April 2012 – Harper

My take:  Ciro and Enza grew up in the same area of Italy and that’s where they met when they were teenagers. Events kept them from being together for many years until they finally found their way to each other – in America. Ciro had been sent there because of something he witnessed back home. Enza and her father were working to earn money to build a new family home back in Italy.

The Shoemaker’s Wife is the fictionalized story of Adriana Trigiani’s grandparents. And what a story it is. It could be the story of many Americans’ grandparents. They experienced such hardships as they struggled to make a new life and yet most came through it with humility and appreciation for all they had. It made me wonder if I would be up to the same struggles as my great-grandparents who came from Ireland.

Trigiani’s detailed descriptions paint vivid pictures of the Italian and American countrysides, the gorgeous fabrics used to make costumes for the Metropolitan Opera company, and the sights and sounds of Little Italy. I found The Shoemaker’s Wife to be both heart-breaking and uplifting. The 20th century was a time of great change in America. Immigrants from all over the world played a major part in that change. Trigiani’s novel is a loving gift to her grandparents and to ours.

Recommended to:  fans of Adriana Trigiani and historical fiction.

Source:  Harper

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Guest post: Jodi Thomas

I’m pleased to welcome author Jodi Thomas today. She’s here to tell us about the newest book in the Harmony series.

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JUST DOWN THE ROAD is my 34th novel and I believe one of the best I’ve ever written.  Whenever I write I always think about the kind of story I love to read.  I want to laugh and cry and fall in love.  I want to care.  I want to stay with the story longer than planned because I just have to know what happens next.  I think, as you read JUST DOWN THE ROAD that I will take you on that journey.  You’re going to love my people, not because they’re rich or famous, or powerful, but because they’re kind.  They’re trying to survive in a world where doing what is right matters.

Whenever I begin to plot I like to mix my stories together so that one plot forms out of the life of several people.  In JUST DOWN THE ROAD I have the beginnings of young, first time, love and the sweet love of two people who thought they were destined to live their lives alone.  In the opening I introduce two people who are running, one from life and the other toward it.  One, because of fear, thinks she’s never lived and the other feels his life is over.  They are not a couple anyone would put together but as they grow to love each other.  Tinch and Addison realize they’re a perfect match.  And, for a man just learning to live again, Tinch has to also realize that there are some things in life worth risking his life for.

I’m never sure what to say when people ask me what I do for a living.  I daydream.  I play.  I imagine.  I create.  I scrub the rough worlds clean.  I’m not a writer for a living, I’m simply a writer.

In JUST DOWN THE ROAD all my work and skill and that spark of talent seemed to come together.  The people I created breathed.  I’m very proud of this book and I hope it makes you laugh, and cry and fall in love with the people who live in Harmony.

Enjoy the story, 

Jodi Thomas

Thanks for visiting today, Jodi. The Harmony series is one of my favorites so I can’t wait to read Just Down The Road. I hope readers will take a few minutes to watch the trailer:

♦  ♦  ♦

I have one copy of  JUST DOWN THE ROAD for a US reader

Click here for giveaway details.


Debbie Macomber news!

Debbie Macomber’s latest newsletter was in my inbox yesterday. She shared this bit of info:

In August you’ll be able to see a movie on Hallmark Channel based on my Cedar Cove series. After the movie premieres, the network will make a decision about green-lighting the series. (You can’t imagine how hard it’s been to keep this secret until the contract was signed!) More news when I have it!

I’m so excited because I’ve always thought this series would be a great one for Hallmark or Lifetime.

Sunday Post #10

The Sunday Post was on hiatus for a couple of weeks. I was away on vacation with my husband. We had a great time visiting my parents in Arizona and even managed to see the Grand Canyon.

I hope you had a chance to visit the blog while I was gone. There was a spotlight post about Aimee Phan’s new book The Reeducation of Cherry Truong. MJ Rose wrote a guest post that you can find here. And on Monday, author Joanne DeMaio guest posted about The Perfect Blend – Coffee, Books and Life.

Books reviewed:  The Rose Garden (audio) by Susanna Kearsley; Gossip by Beth Gutcheon; A Duty To The Dead by Charles Todd.

So I have a question for you: Of all the trips you’ve taken, which was your favorite destination? I can now say the Grand Canyon is one of my favorites!

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

TItle:  A Duty to the Dead

Author:  Charles Todd

Genre:  Mystery; Series

Published:  2009 – Harper Collins

My take:  Bess Crawford is a British nurse (WWI). When one of her patients realizes he won’t recover, he asks her to memorize a message and deliver it to his brother. She allows nothing to stop her from doing so. Little does she know this will dredge up secrets the soldier’s family thought were put to rest. Bess is determined to get to the bottom of the message when she senses the family isn’t committed to honoring the soldier’s request. Or is she jumping to conclusions? Either way, things just aren’t adding up.

I’m always reluctant to get into the details of a mystery because I don’t want to spoil it for other readers. What I can say is I like Bess Crawford. She is an admirable and strong-minded young woman. I loved the setting – WWI era England. There are motorcars, trains, hospital ships, small villages, and London. The characters and plot reminded me of early Hitchcock movies – interesting plot and characters and filled with surprises. It all made for a good whodunit.

I enjoyed A Duty to the Dead and look forward to the next book in the series.

Source:  I bought it.

Gossip by Beth Gutcheon

Title:  Gossip

Author:  Beth Gutcheon

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  March 2012 – William Morrow

About:  (from the publisher) Loviah “Lovie” French owns a small, high-end dress shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Renowned for her taste, charm, and discretion, Lovie is the one to whom certain women turn when they need “just the thing” for key life events: baptisms and balls, weddings and funerals. Among those who depend on Lovie’s sage advice are her two best friends since boarding school days: Dinah Wainwright and Avis Metcalf. Despite the love they share for their mutual friend, there has always been a chilly gulf between Dinah and Avis, the result of a perceived slight from decades ago that has unimaginably tragic echoes many years later.

My take:  Three girls met at boarding school in the early 1960s. Loviah “Lovie” French and Dinah Kittredge were on scholarship and Avis Binney was old money. They remained in Manhattan so their paths crossed throughout their lives.

I thought Dinah was the most developed character of the three. I really felt an understanding for her motivation throughout her life. Lovie is the narrator so she tells us about everyone else but very little about herself. I found myself wanting to know why she made one or two major life decisions. Avis, although a nice person, seems rather clueless and emotionally detached.

The story of the three women spans the 1960s to present day. Marriages, children, divorce, money problems – all the stuff of life – are revealed through Lovie’s story. The title works into the characters and plot. One of the woman writes a gossip column, one is telling the story, and more than one is the subject of gossip that may or may not be true.

I read Gossip in a day. I had to see where Lovie’s story was going so I kept reading. In the end, it’s an entertaining novel about the far-reaching effects of gossip on wealthy people who, money aside, are more like you and me than you might imagine.

Source:  FSB Associates

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

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Beth Gutcheon, author of Gossip, is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage and Good-bye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook

Guest Post: Joanne DeMaio – Whole Latte Life

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome author Joanne DeMaio to the blog. Joanne’s novel WHOLE LATTE LIFE published last week. Thanks for visiting today, Joanne. I’m a big fan of books and coffee! I look forward to reading Whole Latte Life. 

The Perfect Blend ~ Coffee, Books and Life

Coffee has such comforting affiliations, I think because it’s an integral part of our days.  We need our morning coffee, grab a coffee-to-go, linger with a dessert coffee, meet over coffee.  And that one’s the clincher.  Meeting over coffee.  In fact, some of the best talks happen over a fresh cup of java.  Think of all the latte’s you’ve enjoyed, with family or a friend.  How much life you’ve mulled over with someone near and dear in a local coffee shop, or in a neighbor’s country kitchen with a fresh-brewed pot, or in a restaurant’s cozy nook.

The same way we mull over life with a coffee, don’t we also consider life in the books we read?  In the genres we favor?  I know I do.  My novel WHOLE LATTE LIFE is a blend of the choices we make as mothers and daughters and friends, and how those choices sometimes haunt us.  It’s filled with topics we’d talk over with a friend, over a steaming cup of java.

Coffee and books.  I’m a fan of both.  They fit together like, well, like a cup and saucer.  Even the flavors of java correlate with our reading preferences.  Give it a try … If you had to choose, what coffee flavor would you give your reading preference?

I’ve brewed up a few literary-coffee choices … You can choose one, or add your own unique blend to the menu … Let’s get percolating!

Do you read Regular, With Cream ~ Literary with a Commercial bent?

Or is your preference Cream with Sugar ~ Very Commercial?

Is your favorite genre Black Coffee ~ Strictly Literary?

How about Café au Lait ~ Historical, set in France?

There’s always a Coffee Milkshake ~ Blending the Genres?

Or maybe Monk’s Cappuccino ~ Inspirational/Christian?

Does Layered Caffé Latte describe it ~ A life layered in Memoir?

Science Fiction, YA, Romance, whatever the genre ~ What flavor do you enjoy reading?

Coffee Cheers to all!


♦  ♦  ♦

About Whole Latte Life

Sara Beth Riley never dreamt she’d walk straight out of her life. Actually she’d never dreamt a lot of things that had happened this year … From being kidnapped by her own best friend, to throwing her wedding rings into the Hudson River, to calling an old love in France, to getting inked with said best friend, painting the passionate constellation of these choices into permanence. But mostly, she could never have dreamt what started it all. How could it be that her mother’s unexpected death, and the grief which lingered painfully long, turned her into the woman she was finally meant to become?

Sara Beth’s escape begins a summer of change – of herself, of marriage, of the lives of those around her. In a story that moves from Manhattan to the sea to a quaint New England town, Whole Latte Life looks at friends we never forget, at decisions we linger with, at our attempts to live the lives we love.

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You can read more about Joanne DeMaio at her website.

More info about Whole Latte Life can be found at

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Title:  The Rose Garden (audiobook)

Author:  Susanna Kearsley

Narrator:  Nicola Barber

Genre:  Historical Romance; Time Travel

Published:  October 2011 – Audible

About:  (product description) Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the Cornish coast, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers. There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time.

But Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. As she begins to question her place in the present, she comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs.

My take:  I loved Susanna Kearsley’s latest historical time travel novel. Eva is grieving the recent loss of her only sibling. She goes to a favorite family vacation spot in England – Cornwall – to scatter her sister’s ashes. While there she stays with old family friends and becomes involved in helping them spruce up the house to become a tourist destination. She researches the history of the old home and learns of some former residents who may have been smugglers  – the Butler brothers. While walking on the grounds one day she sees a man who seems of another time. Turns out, Eva has turned up in the time of Daniel Butler. The story takes off from there and I was completely swept away. If you enjoy time travel novels I think you’ll like The Rose Garden.

Nicola Barber’s narration was great. I’m glad I listened to the book because the accents made the characters come alive for me.

Source:  I bought it.

Guest Post by M.J. Rose author of The Book of Lost Fragrances – Virtual Book Tour

Today I welcome  M.J. Rose, author of THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES:

M.J. Rose:  I’ve been fascinated with lost fragrances since long before I started writing The Book of Lost Fragrances… since I found a bottle of perfume on my great grandmother’s dresser that had belonged to her mother in Russia. Here is one of those lost fragrances that stirs the senses and the imagination… (researched and described  with the help of the perfume writer  Dimitrios Dimitriadis)


Considered to be the glittering gem in the Serge Lutens / Shiseido crown, Nombre Noir is coveted for its scarcity and deep, dark mysteriousness. Created in 1982, Nombre Noir embraces 1980s style… it is bold, dramatic and commanding. It opens with a huff of aldehydes and bergamot which settles over a lavish floral heart of ylang ylang, rose and lily of the valley. An ambery benzoin / sandalwood  base imbues the perfume with a stunning honey-like quality… the sum of all components being rich, dark and plummy. This perfume was created when Lutens worked at Shiseido, and as such is a highly sought-after discontinued treasure.

♦  ♦  ♦


A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra–and lost for 2,000 years.

Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances–and of her mother’s suicide–she moved to America. Now, fourteen years later she and her brother have inherited the company along with it’s financial problems. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing–leaving a dead body in his wake–Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.

Back in Paris to investigate her brother’s disappearance, Jac becomes haunted by the legend the House of L’Etoile has been espousing since 1799. Is there a scent that can unlock the mystery of reincarnation – or is it just another dream infused perfume?

The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac’s quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.


M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her next novel THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES (Atria/S&S) will be published in March 2012.  Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio.  Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors –  The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype.  She is also the co-founder of and

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

Click here for tour schedule

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook.


THE REEDUCATION OF CHERRY TRUONG explores the intersection of history and human hearts. With tenderness and wisdom, this intricately woven tale presents a world both mysterious and familiar to readers. Aimee Phan is a keen observer and a beautiful writer.”–Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants

“A touching relational and multigenerational family story … By not shying away from issues such as infidelity, gambling addiction, and racism in describing the various hardships experienced by her characters, Phan makes this a strong and realistic work … Phan’s intricate storytelling recalls Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club in her ability to bind the family histories together but without the mystical spirituality that marks Tan’s writing. Readers familiar with the work of Bich Minh Nguyen (Short Girls) should also enjoy this freshly presented story of the Vietnamese American experience.”–Library Journal

“Touching on the events of the Vietnam War, cultural assimilation, reconciliation, forgiveness, and redemption, Phan creates an epic tale.  Through Cherry’s eyes, the complex country of Vietnam is lovingly explored in immense, realistic detail.  Readers of Maxine Hong Kingston and Gish Jen will enjoy Phan’s sensitive, lush prose and recognize similar questions of identity.”–Booklist

*  *  *  *  *

Readers were first introduced to Aimee Phan’s “strong, eloquent tales” in her collection of short stories, We Should Never Meet, which was a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book in 2005.  She has returned with a debut novel about the Vietnamese American experience in THE REEDUCATION OF CHERRY TRUONG (St. Martin’s Press; March 13, 2012; $25.99).  Praised for her graceful and spare writing and compared to Amy Tan, Phan explores the lives of two fierce and unforgettable families, the Truongs and the Vos as they assimilate themselves in their new homelands following the fall of Saigon.

Cherry Truong travels from California to Vietnam determined to bring back her exiled brother, only to discover he is quite happy in his new life and that the unspoken rift between the two may never completely heal.  Spanning thirty years and across three continents, Cherry begins to unravel the family secrets that not only have damaged her relationship with her brother but have also deposited one side of her family in the U.S. and the other in Paris.

Phan’s depiction of this multigenerational, vibrant family keenly pinpoints their real life experiences of survival and immigration, marriage and infidelity, loyalty and betrayal, and successes and failuresall wrapped up in the quest for the American dream.  As each member of the family is revealed and more secrets uncovered, Cherry is forced to face her own place in their long family history and come to terms with her discoveries.

Aimee Phan received her MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop where she won a Maytag Fellowship and teaches in the MFA Writing Program and Writing and Literature Program at California College of the Arts.  Her writing has appeared in The New York TimesUSA Today, and The Oregonian among others.

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

Title:  The Violets of March

Author:  Sarah Jio

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  April, 2011 – Plume

My take:  Emily Wilson’s marriage to the perfect man has gone south. After she signs the divorce papers she heads to her great-aunt’s home on Bainbridge Island, Washington. She holds fond memories of summer vacations spent at the big house on the sound and hopes to find comfort and time to heal. On the day she arrives she discovers a diary in the guest room nightstand. She reads it and finds herself consumed with solving a mystery that involves her relatives and family friends.

Emily also captures the attention of two men on the island. One she dated as a teen and the other is a handsome artist who lives not far from her great-aunt’s house. What she doesn’t expect is the connection one may hold to the mystery in the diary.

Reading The Violets of March was a nice way to spend a snowy weekend. Jio’s detailed descriptions gave me a good sense of the beautiful island. I thought the mystery was interesting and I liked the characters. All made for a good tale of lost loves and fresh starts. I look forward to reading Sarah Jio’s second novel: The Bungalow.

Source:  Giveaway win

Ros by Dee DeTarsio

Title:  Ros

Author:  Dee DeTarsio

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  2011 – Just Publishing

About:  (from Goodreads synopsis) When a plane crashed behind Micki Cramer’s house, in San Diego, California, she kept waiting for the sirens and rescue team to show up. As the first responder, it was up to her to tug on the arm that was waving out of the broken wreckage. Holding her breath against the choking smoke, she managed to get the pilot out and carry him to safety into her backyard. He wasn’t that heavy; he was about the size of her 10-year-old nephew, who did play a lot of video games and ate nothing but Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but still. As it turns out, he wasn’t a guy after all.
Ros, the pilot, was on a mission to find her missing brother who had crash-landed at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Seems she was a bad driver, too, missing her target by nearly a thousand miles and more than half a century.
If Ros can teach Micki how to use eleven percent of her brain, how can Micki help Ros?

My brief take:  I enjoyed this amusing alien/human gal-pal road trip adventure. I wasn’t sure how to categorize it so I settled on fiction. It started out with a bang and took off from there. Ros is a humorous tale that had me mostly giggling as I read.

I loved the main characters. Micki is trying to move on after her divorce but seems to be in a rut of teaching ESL at the local school and watching HGTV marathons when at home. Ros finds herself lost in space. Luckily, she crash lands in Micki’s back yard. Rhoda, Micki’s ex-mother-in-law, is staying with her while her son is on a business trip. She’s unapologetic about anything that comes out of her mouth – think Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur.

Micki, Ros, Rhoda and the widower down the street embark on a crazy road trip to save Ros from people who don’t have her best interest at heart. Let the hilarity begin.

Ros is a cute story about two beings helping each other to understand themselves and their lives. Micki only hopes she’ll be able to help Ros find her way home.

Source:  the author

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Sunday Post #9

Last week was SO DAMN LUCKY week on the blog. The Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure series is a fun one. You can read chapter one of the latest book here and then check out my review here.

I added a new reading goal for 2012: Read SELECTED STORIES by William Trevor. It has been on my shelf since Christmas 2010 – a gift from my daughter. I look forward to having a year long project again after recently completing the War & Peace read-along.

Reading William Trevor

My daughter gave me William Trevor’s Selected Stories for Christmas a couple of years ago. I put it on the bookshelf and then forgot about it. So. I’m going to make it a goal to read the collection in 2012. I’ll list the title here as I read each story and then do a wrap-up at the end of the year.

About William Trevor (from the book cover): William Trevor was born in Middletown, County Cork, in 1928 and spent his childhood in provincial Ireland. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin. He is the author of fourteen novels and twelve collections of short stories and has won many prizes, including the Hawthornden Prize, the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. He lives in Devon, England.

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1. The Piano Tuner’s Wives