Sunday Post

I’ll be away this week on a winter escape. See you in a week or so.

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

The Ones Who Matter Most (NAL Tour)  The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay (Aug 9)

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review: The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery
  • Review: The Promise of Forgiveness by Marin Thomas

the friends we keep (2:23)   The Promise of Forgiveness (3:2)

Reading plan for this week:

best of my love (4:26)  Eligible (4:19:16 RH)  after you (audiobook:library)

The Promise of Forgiveness by Marin Thomas

  • The Promise of Forgiveness (3:2)Title:  The Promise of Forgiveness
  • Author:  Marin Thomas
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Pub. Date:  March 1, 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Synopsis:  When it comes to family, Ruby Baxter hasn’t had much luck. The important men in her early life abandoned her, and any time a decent boyfriend came along, she ran away. But now Ruby is thirty-one and convinced she is failing her teenage daughter. Mia is the one good thing in her life, and Ruby hopes a move to Kansas will fix what’s broken between them.
But the road to redemption takes a detour. Hank McArthur, the biological father Ruby never knew existed, would like her to claim her inheritance: a dusty oil ranch just outside of Unforgiven, Oklahoma. 
As far as first impressions go, the gruff, emotionally distant rancher isn’t what Ruby has hoped for in a father. Yet Hank seems to have a gift for rehabilitating abused horses—and for reaching Mia. And if Ruby wants to entertain the possibility of a relationship with Joe Dawson, the ranch foreman, she must find a way to open her heart to the very first man who left her behind. (publisher)

My take:  Ruby Baxter is at the point in life where she’s going to be the one to cut out before anyone else will leave her again. So when she received a letter from her birth father asking her to see him she decided to give him two minutes and then would move on with her life. What she didn’t expect was that her fourteen year old daughter would want to get to know her grandfather.

With their visit extended indefinitely Ruby is forced to consider a relationship with the man who gave her away just days after her birth. More than a couple of characters have to learn to forgive in order to move forward – and sometimes that means to forgive themselves first. Marin Thomas made me care about her characters and cheer them on their journey of understanding, acceptance and forgiveness.

The novel is filled with colorful secondary characters (the sheriff, the bar owner, and the proprietor of the general store – to name a few) who added a good deal to the plot. There was also a mystery to solve – who was sabotaging the ranch and why?

The Promise of Forgiveness is the author’s first women’s fiction novel after publishing more than two dozen romance novels. I enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of Marin Thomas and women’s fiction.


The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery

  • the friends we keep (2:23)Title:  The Friends We Keep
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  February 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description: After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can’t wait to return to work. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace! No twins clamoring at the door, no husband barging in, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband’s crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own. 

Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is worried about the expensive fertility treatments and frantic about the threat to her health. But to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost. 

Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn’t as painful as it should’ve been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time’s the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love?  (publisher)

My take:  So we have Gaby who looks forward to going back to work when her twins start school, Hayley who wants nothing more than to have a baby no matter what the cost, and Nicole who doesn’t want to trust her heart to anyone.

I think my favorite character was Hayley because of her emotional dilemma. I really felt sympathy for her. That said, she really needed some therapy to work through her issues. I imagine a book group would have a lot to discuss about her and the other two main characters – especially groups whose members are raising young families. I’m past that stage so when I got a little frustrated with the characters I chalked it up to where I am in life.

Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction.

Sunday Post

Last week I marked eight years of blogging about books. When I began Bookfan back in 2008 I wasn’t sure how long I would keep this blog thing going 🙂  Now, starting my ninth year, I’m amazed by all the wonderful people I’ve met and all the good books I’ve read. Thanks for visiting, commenting, and making this such a great experience!

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review:  Everything’s Relative by Jenna McCarthy


Reading plan for this week:

What We Find (4:5:16)   Lies and Other Acts of Love (4:5:16)

Everything’s Relative by Jenna McCarthy

  • image003Title:  Everything’s Relative: A Novel
  • Author:  Jenna McCarthy
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  February 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Jules, Brooke and Lexi were young girls (12, 8 and 6 respectively) when their father died suddenly leaving them and their mother devastated. Jules took on family responsibilities well above her age level doing what her mother could no longer do. Brooke became the family peace-maker/fixer. Lexi thumbed her nose at everyone. The three girls took these characteristics with them into adulthood. When their mom died twenty years after their dad she left an unexpected inheritance for the three sisters. In order to collect the inheritance they would have to meet specific conditions and they all had to do so or none of them would receive their due.

Jenna McCarthy’s story of sisters drew me in from page one and had me turning the pages quickly. The chapters are short and each is from a different sister’s perspective. I loved seeing the changes in each character and pulled for all three as they tried to accomplish their assignments.

Everything’s Relative is a thoroughly entertaining novel that by turn tugged a few heartstrings and made me laugh out loud. Recommended to fans of contemporary humorous fiction about dysfunctional families.

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley


About:  Set over the course of one life-changing Thanksgiving week, THE RAMBLERS is a sumptuous, accomplished novel about loss, hope, passion and the strength of the human spirit. Native New Yorker Aidan Donnelley Rowley has written a love letter to New York City—its glittering moments and the magic and wonder that are waiting to be discovered in some of its secret corners.

Clio Marsh, an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History, has found solace from her broken childhood by studying the ways in which hummingbirds adapt to harsh environments. The Ramble in Central Park is the only place in Manhattan that has truly ever felt like home in the city, and she’s dedicated to introducing other New Yorkers to the beauties of the natural world on her popular bird-watching walks there. But then Clio meets someone and the solitary world she’s carefully constructed threatens to crumble as she struggles to come to terms with her past.

Smith Anderson has been Clio’s best friend since their first days as undergraduates at Yale, when a painful secret bound them together. As a professional organizer to wealthy Manhattanites, Smith’s career is centered on order and peace, but her own life has been falling apart ever since her fiancé mysteriously called off their engagement and quickly married another woman. Now, with her younger sister’s wedding just days away, Smith is spiraling out of control, grasping for answers from her family and from herself.

Tate Pennington, an aspiring photographer, is going through a bitter divorce. Though the iPhone app he created on a whim made him a millionaire nearly overnight, his failed marriage has left him reeling and he’s returned to New York for a fresh start. But Tate finds himself desperate for a real connection and wonders if he’ll have a sense of truly belonging somewhere, with someone, again.

As the emotional chaos of their lives unfolds, Clio, Smith and Tate must learn to let go of the past in order to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds.

My take:  I found this story about three thirty-somethings looking for contentment in their messy lives quite addictive. Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s prose is engaging and had me at times sympathizing with the characters despite some of their first world problems.

Clio, Smith and Tate learn to trust themselves and the person(s) most close to them. They also learn what to strive for – what’s truly important going forward. Issues of mental illness, meeting external expectations, and finding independence are all addressed.

I especially appreciated the tone the novel ended on and will look for more from this new-to-me author. Recommended to fans of Contemporary Fiction.

Praise for The Ramblers:

“In this spirited, compulsively-readable, sophisticated tale of entangled urban lives, Aidan Donnelley Rowley has written a love letter to New York, full of sparkling innocence and its ensuing heartache. The Ramblers is a pure delight.” —Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of Devotion

“A wonderfully woven story of how family can hold us back or set us free. The richly drawn characters in The Ramblers remind the reader that we sometimes fear the things we most want. It’s not often that a book embeds you so deeply with the characters that you feel as if you are in their story. Rowley’s finely drawn story of love, loss, fear and friendship wound me around its little finger…”   —Lee Woodruff, New York Times bestselling author of Those We Love Most

The Ramblers is an engrossing, meticulously observed novel of New York. Aidan Donnelley Rowley explores the lives of characters navigating the challenges of friendship, jealousy, love and the need to confront their past before they can create a future.” —Will Schwalbe, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Your Life Book Club

“Chock full of the crackling wit, irreverent humor and raw honesty that readers have come to expect from Aidan Donnelley Rowley, this is a tale of beautiful people in glamorous places when life is anything but beautiful and glamorous. A whirlwind foray into the New York City that Aidan Donnelley Rowley knows and loves— and writes—so well.” —Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress

“Amidst the rich beauty of Central Park in fall and Manhattan in its prime, The Ramblers weaves a bewitching, wise tale of how love’s path may take unexpected twists and turns. Aidan Donnelley Rowley has brought us a deeply moving and elegant book about how we find ourselves and each other. It pulled me in with its first pages, and wouldn’t let go until the last.” —Sophie McManus, author of The Unfortunates

“Witty and engaging, The Ramblers takes us deep into the cloistered world of three New Yorkers, where privilege does not necessarily lead to happiness. Aidan Donnelley Rowley is an expert at revealing her characters with depth and care.” —Mira Jacob, author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing


AidanDonnelleyRowley_AuthorPhoto_creditElenaSeibertBorn and raised in New York City, Aidan Donnelley Rowley graduated from Yale University and received her law degree from Columbia University.  She is the author of a previous novel, Life After Yes, and the creator of the Happier Hour Literary Salon.  She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three daughters.

The Ramblers:

  • On Sale: February 9, 2016
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0062413314 / Price: $25.99
  • Ebook ISBN: 9780062413338 / Price: $12.99

Author photo credit: Elena Seibert 

US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

Giveaway ends Feb. 18, 2016 at 9am EST





Nookietown by V.C. Chickering

  • Nookietown (2:23) St. Martin's GriffinTitle:  Nookietown: A Novel
  • Author:  V.C. Chickering
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Pub. Date:  February 23, 2016 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  When 40-something, divorced, mom-of-one Lucy meets with a group of friends for their regular dinner out she finds that she’s not the only one frustrated with her (lack of) sex life. The women come up with a possible plan that eventually is put into practice.

I’m not going to reveal any more of the plot. Check out Goodreads for more information. At first I thought it was ridiculous (in this age of STDs, etc) and was ready to DNF but I decided to keep going because I’d agreed to feature it here on the blog. Honestly, Chickering’s writing is engaging and her characters’ actions had me equally cringing and laughing. Issues addressed include friendship, married/divorced sex, desire, infidelity – just to list a few.

Nookietown has been optioned for television and I could envision it playing out on-screen. That said, it would have to be on cable unless it goes through extreme editing. There are explicit scenes. There are also some deeply emotional scenes that would make for great book club discussion if members felt comfortable discussing very personal details.

I’m glad I finished reading the book and would read more from Chickering. I’ll be interested in what she comes up with next. Recommended to fans of entertaining and steamy beach reads.

About the author:  V.C. Chickering has written for Comedy Central, MTV, Lifetime, TLC, Discovery, NickMom and Oxygen television networks as well as for BUST, Cosmo, and The Washington Post magazines. She’s written screenplays; has a local newspaper column entitled Pith Monger; and random other gigs, which can be found on

She lives in New Jersey with her family where she also writes and performs witty, original songs for the alt-bluegrass/indi-jazz band, Tori Erstwhile & The Montys. This is her first novel.

Sunday Post

My mailbox was full last week after a few sparse weeks.

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

The Promise of Forgiveness (3:2)  The Winemakers (4:5)  Lone Heart Pass (4:26)

sunshine beach (6:21) Berkley   image003   image001-2

Last week on Bookfan:

Carolina Dreaming (2:2) Berkley   Rustler's Moon (1:26:16)   Every Anxious Wave (2:9)

Currently reading:

Home on Apple Blossom Rd. (3:22016)

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau

Every Anxious Wave (2:9)


Guest Post by Jodi Thomas, author of Rustler’s Moon

Today I welcome author Jodi Thomas to Bookfan. Her newest book in the Ransom Canyon series published last week. Click here to read my review.

Rustler's Moon (1:26:16)

The setting for RUSTLER’S MOON is a ranch called the Devil’s Fork and a museum set on the edge of Ransom Canyon.  Since I grew up going to the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas, it was easy to build a museum in my mind.

I had one character, Carter, who really brought my museum and the canyon alive in my story.  In this second book of the RANSOM CANYON Series called RUSTLER’S MOON I wanted to add a mystery whispering through my story.

Carter’s long retired and comes to Crossroads, Texas, every summer to walk the canyon and search for a childhood memory.  One rainy night when Carter was five, he and his father found a cave that had drawings of stickmen on the walls.  Carter believes that if he’d fallen asleep they would have killed him.  The stickmen haunt him through Vietnam and in his nightmares for years.  He thinks he has to find them before he dies.

Angela Harold is running for her life after her father is killed.  She has no family she can trust and no close friends she wants involved.  Applying for a job as a curator for a small museum in Crossroads, Texas seems her only way out.  It was great fun bringing someone to Texas for the first time.  Angela is surprised how fast the whole community takes her in as one of their own. I loved the way this story wound around Angela’s mystery and the surprises Carter finds not only in the canyon, but within himself.

I love writing about the people in this place and Texas is my home.  I like watching how peoples’ lives bump into others and change their courses ever so slightly.

Come along with me to the adventure in RUSTLER’S MOON.  You might just fall in love again for the first time.

Jodi Thomas


On a dirt road marked by haunting secrets, three strangers caught at life’s crossroads must decide what to sacrifice to protect their own agendas…and what they’re each willing to risk for love.

If there’s any place that can convince Angela Harrell to stop running, it’s Ransom Canyon. And if there’s any man who can reveal desires more deeply hidden than her every fear, it’s Wilkes Wagner. Beneath the rancher’s honorable exterior is something that just might keep her safe…or unwittingly put her in danger’s path.

With his dreams of leaving this small Texas town swallowed up by hard, dusty reality, all Wilkes has to show for his life is the Devil’s Fork Ranch. Though not one to let false hope seduce him, he can’t deny the quiet and cautious beauty who slips into his world and changes everything.

Lauren Brigman finally has freedom at her fingertips. All she needs is Lucas Reyes’s attention—a look, a touch, some sign that she’s more to him than a girl he rescued one dangerous night. But now it’s her turn to rescue someone, and the life-altering decision may cost her more than a chance with Lucas.

RUSTLER’S MOON by JODI THOMAS $7.99 U.S./$8.99 CAN. ISBN­13 9780373788620

“Compelling and beautifully written, it is exactly the kind of heart­wrenching, emotional story one has come to expect from Jodi Thomas.” —Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author


Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra

  • Carolina Dreaming (2:2) BerkleyTitle:  Carolina Dreaming
  • Author:  Virginia Kantra
  • Series:  Dare Island #5
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  February 2, 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Description:  When it comes to love, anything can happen on Dare Island—especially in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra.   

After escaping a disastrous marriage, bakery owner Jane Clark has convinced herself that she has everything she needs—her precious son, a thriving business, and a roof over her head. But the arrival of a handsome stranger on the island shows her exactly what she’s been missing…   

The only home Gabe Murphy ever had was the Marine Corps. He’s working hard to rebuild his life. It will take a special place, and a special woman, to make him want to stay.   

Now Gabe is determined to prove that he’s worthy of Jane’s trust—and her love. But when her past reappears, that trust will be tested, and Jane and Gabe will have to fight hard to hold onto their love and make their dreams a reality…  (publisher)

My take:  Carolina Dreaming is the fifth book in the Dare Island series. The first three novels involved the three adult children of the Fletcher family. Books four and five are about people in the small island community who have ties to the Fletchers. I liked that the Fletcher family played more than minor roles in Carolina Dreaming.

We got to know Jane a bit in the fourth book, Carolina Blues. She survived an abusive first marriage and several years later is still learning how to get control of her life. She has a seven-year old son and they live with her father. She’s determined to be a strong woman and be the mother to her son that she lacked after her own mother walked away from the family.

Gabe survived a horrible upbringing and then survived Afghanistan. After his discharge he got in trouble with the law somewhere else and needs to start over where almost no one knows him. He was in the Marines with Luke Fletcher who once brought him home to Dare Island after basic training and before going to Afghanistan. He hopes the people who so generously welcomed him at that time will be happy to see him again.

I liked Gabe and Jane’s story. They share so much in common and yet find it so difficult to trust themselves or anyone. Both have been burned in life by people who should have loved them unconditionally. Virginia Kantra’s story is believable and relatable. I especially loved the story of Jane’s son finding commonality with Gabe. It tugged the heartstrings.

Recommended to fans of the author, the Dare Island series and stories about people learning to trust their hearts.