Sunday Post

Book arrivals:

A Simple Thing  meet me at the cupcake cafe

Books I’m reading:

  • Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky
  • Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery
  • Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

I began reading Christmas novels a bit earlier than usual this year. Reviews will post in October because most of them have Oct. publish dates. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this before summer was over but, once I started, I enjoyed the experience of reading them before all the holiday hustle and bustle. So this is a heads up that Christmas in October will be the theme on Bookfan next month 🙂

Last week on Bookfan:

Happy reading!

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

the husband's secret

  • Title:  The Husband’s Secret
  • Author:  Liane Moriarty
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  July 2013 – Amy Einhorn Books; Putnam
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.  (publisher) 

My take:  Three women, really no more than acquaintances, find out how very connected their lives really are.

I enjoyed The Husband’s Secret. It’s not a whodunit because the reader finds out way before the end of the novel. I think it’s more a whatwouldyoudo. That makes it a perfect choice for book groups. It also asks how far would you go to protect a loved one?

One minute it is dramatic and the next, quite funny. Liane Moriarty is a gifted storyteller. I loved her previous novel What Alice Forgot and I look forward to reading more of her novels. Recommended.

Note:  I also purchased the audiobook – narrated by Caroline Lee. If you enjoy listening to books I recommend this audio.

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

letters from skye

  • Title:  Letters from Skye
  • Author:  Jessica Brockmole
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Epistolary
  • Published:  July 2013 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.
 
June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.  (publisher)

My take:  When a poet living on the Isle of Skye receives a letter from a fan in the US neither has a clue to what has begun – a friendship that will become much more. Letters from Skye is an epistolary novel about Scottish poet Elspeth Dunn and American David Graham. She’s in her mid-twenties and married and he’s a few years younger – still in college. But they are on equal ground in most other things. Their letters begin during WWI before the US enters the war. Elspeth’s husband soon enlists and leaves for the front. David and Elspeth continue to correspond sharing their secrets, hopes, and dreams.
I loved reading their letters that told everything from the goings on of their everyday lives to life-changing world events. Woven into the book are letters from Elspeth’s daughter Margaret (a young woman in her twenties) to her sweetheart Paul a (WWII) RAF pilot. So the eras have changed but some of the circumstances have not. The reason for the inclusion of their letters becomes clear as the novel progresses.
This is a very romantic novel – not romance in the modern sense (although there is that as well) but rather mostly in tone. There’s such longing in the letters. That longing was heightened by the lack of immediacy that comes from waiting weeks for another letter. For me that added to the enjoyment. I won’t say more about the novel because I think readers should find out what happens on their own.
If you like epistolary novels and this era I think you’ll like Letters from Skye.  Highly recommended.

Note:  A few pages in I decided to purchase the audiobook. I listened while I followed along with the print edition. If you like audiobooks I highly recommend you experience Letters from Skye that way. The narrators’ wonderful performances increased my enjoyment of the novel even more!

Audiobook info:

  • Title:  Letters from Skye: a novel
  • Author:  Jessica Brockmole
  • Narrators:  Elle Newlands, Katy Townsend, Lincoln Hoppe
  • Published:  July 2013 – Random House Audio

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:

while we were watching downton abbey  the arrangement

Last week on Bookfan:

Currently reading:

  • A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer
  • While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

What I finished reading last week:

  • When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

IMG_2080

Another morning walk photo – the fog was lifting as I walked by the river

French Roast by Ava Miles

French Roast

  • Title:  French Roast – Dare Valley series, #2
  • Author:  Ava Miles
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  August 2013 – CreateSpace
  • Source:  Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting

Synopsis:  Small-town biz wiz Jill Hale has been in love with her childhood best friend Brian McConnell for as long as she can remember. A falling out led to years of estrangement, but when Brian returns to Dare Valley after trying to make it big as a chef in New York City, Jill’s determined to make amends. She’s convinced that starting a restaurant together will be the perfect win-win situation, allowing her and Brian to work together and play together.

After a series of missteps sliced and diced Brian’s career in the Big Apple, he came home to regroup and find himself. He’s convinced that reestablishing his connection with Jill, the girl who got away, will put his life back on track. And when she approaches him with her plan for going into business together, he’s certain it’s the one way he can have it all—his dream job and his dream girl.

Jill and Brian are falling for each other all over again when Brian’s ex sashays into town, intent on sabotaging their reunion. Add in a mysterious investor who’s determined to get Jill on board with his project, and the bond between the couple is tested to the limit. Will their second chance at love implode, or will they find their own recipe for a happy ending? (publisher)

My take:  French Roast is book #2 in the Dare Valley series. I haven’t read Nora Roberts Land (the first book) yet but never felt lost because Ava Miles did a good job of catching the reader up on key events and relationships from that book.

In French Roast BFFs Jill and Brian have a second chance at love and a possibility of working together. Brian is a talented chef who wants to open a restaurant in Dare Valley and Jill has the business sense to make it a success. But if Brian’s ex,  a beautiful and sophisticated French chef, has anything to say about it that won’t happen.  Jill has another work possibility as well. A mysterious businessman who wants to open a controversial business in the small Colorado town thinks Jill is the only person who can convince the town council to allow it. But why is he so secretive?

Brian and Jill are extremely busy but are determined to make their personal relationship work. The trouble is they seem to sabotage themselves at every turn. This frustrated me so much! They’d say one thing and then behave in a questionable way. I really didn’t know how these two would end up. They had good physical chemistry but, honestly, there were a few times I thought they needed couples therapy if their relationship was going to move forward.

I enjoyed Miles’ writing. Her engaging story and characters kept me turning the pages. It’s a contemporary romance so readers should expect some love scenes which were, at times, too detailed for my reading tastes. I liked many of the secondary characters who helped move the plot and eventually set up the third book – and I look forward to reading it!

*   *   *

Author information:   www.avamiles.com    Facebook    twitter

Having worked as an apprentice chef in a restaurant popular with celebrities, politicos, and other journalistic ava-author photo-color-high_resluminaries, and as a private chef while in graduate school, Ava had no lack of inspiration as she dealt with the foodie aspects tied to FRENCH ROAST and the restaurant central to her plot. 

Born and raised in the Midwest, where her family’s newspaper is located, Ava went on to earn an undergraduate degree in writing and advanced degrees in political science and conflict management. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Washington Romance Writers. She is also part of an unofficial group that regularly convenes a writing retreat at Nora Roberts’ restored Inn Boonsboro in western Maryland. Having left behind the “day job,” which took her, literally, all over the world, she  now writes full-time in the peace and quiet of her northern Virginia porch-swinging-friendly community. (from the author’s website)

The Hero by Robyn Carr

the hero

  • Title:  The Hero  (Thunder Point #3)
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  August 2013 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  In a moment of desperation, Devon McAllister takes her daughter and flees a place where they should have been safe and secure. She has no idea what is around the next bend, but she is pretty certain it can’t be worse than what they’ve left behind. Her plan is to escape to somewhere she can be invisible. Instead, an unexpected offer of assistance leads her to Thunder Point, a tiny Oregon town with a willingness to help someone in need. 

As the widowed father of a vulnerable young boy, Spencer Lawson knows something about needing friendship. But he’s not looking for anything else. Instead, he’s thrown his energy into his new role as Thunder Point’s high school football coach. Tough and demanding to his team, off the field he’s gentle and kind – …just the kind of man who could heal Devon’s wounded heart. 

Devon thought she wanted to hide from the world. But in Thunder Point, you find bravery where you least expect it …and sometimes, you find a hero. (publisher)

My take: The Hero is the newest addition to the Thunder Point series. We meet Devon McAllister and her young daughter Mercy who’ve escaped a place that had once been safe and secure but then turned into a prison. A few miles into their journey one of Thunder Point’s own gives them a ride as well as a chance at a new life.

If you’re familiar with this series I don’t want to spoil it by telling who helps Devon and Mercy. I’ll just say I really enjoyed learning more about this character – one of a few heroes in this novel.

We also learn more about Spencer Lawson and his new life in Thunder Point. He’s the new high school football coach which makes him a superstar in the eyes of the whole town.  He and Devon strike up a friendship that soon becomes more. They’ve both been through a lot in the past few years so they don’t want to rush things. They have their kids to consider and don’t want to put them through more emotional upheaval. But drama ensues putting their relationship to the test. And then Devon’s past catches up to her.

There’s an exciting scene near the end which left me more than happy to read the final pages. I really enjoyed The Hero and recommend it to fans of contemporary romance, the Thunder Point series, and Robyn Carr.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:

the supreme macaroni company  letters from skye  the wishing thread

Books I’m currently reading:

  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  • When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak

A few of the books I read in August:

  • The Hero by Robyn Carr
  • Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes by Cathy Holton
  • French Roast by Ava Miles
  • Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
  • When Snow Falls by Brenda Novak

Happy reading!