The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

  • the-whole-towns-talking-1129Title:  The Whole Town’s Talking: A Novel
  • Author:  Fannie Flagg
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Publish date:  November 29, 2016 – Random House
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  The Whole Town’s Talking is the story of a town: Elmwood Springs, Missouri. Fannie Flagg introduces the reader to the town founder Lordor Nordstrom who came from Sweden in 1889 and found the perfect spot for the dairy farm he’d dreamed of having. Word spread and other immigrants followed. The town of Elmwood Springs grew from these early families.

Anyone who’s grown up in a small town will recognize the people of Elmwood Springs – they are everyman and woman. Flagg’s characters live ordinary lives and rise to unexpected occasions when needed. The Whole Town’s Talking (also the name of the weekly society column in the local newspaper) is a lovely, folksy tale that I enjoyed. The chapters are short making it an easy reading experience. I read it over the course of ten days which was unusually long for me but I’m glad it did because it never failed to make me smile and I want to enjoy a book like that for as long as possible!

In her wonderfully humorous and warm style Fannie Flagg explains the mysteries of life and death –  at least, how she sees them 🙂  Recommended to fans of the author and stories about small town life.

The 24 Days of Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

  • the-24-days-of-christmasTitle:  The 24 Days of Christmas
  • Author:  Linda Lael Miller
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  November 2016 – Lyrical Shine
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  A matchbox advent calendar first brought Frank Rayner and Addie Hutton together. But that was years ago. Since then Addie has written herself out of her father’s will, gotten herself blacklisted as a reporter, and had her husband leave her for a younger woman. The only good decision she seems to have made is to move back home, even if Frank now owns that home and is renting the apartment over the garage to her. Not that she thinks there’s anything there. There’s no reason to get wrapped up in the holiday cheer. Because Christmas miracles are for the movies. Real life is about unexpected families—and the magic of true love—and could there be a happy ending after all?  (publisher)

My take:  This sweet story is a re-release of a novella previously included in  No Place Like Home and Jingle All The WayI hadn’t read either anthology so it was new to me.

The 24 days of Christmas was a quick read. It’s a second chance story about not giving up on your dreams – even dreams you didn’t know you had.

I think a novella is perfect for reading during the busy holiday season when you want to escape for a few minutes and don’t want to read anything heavy.  I’m a fan of Linda Lael Miller and got exactly what I expected from this story – a nice, romantic holiday tale that was light on drama and just the perfect amount of sweetness.

Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason

  • Mistletoe Cottage (11:3 review)Title:  Mistletoe Cottage
  • Series:  Harmony Harbor #1
  • Author:  Debbie Mason
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  October 2016 – Forever
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Sophie DiRossi loved growing up in Harmony Harbor. But after fleeing in disgrace many years ago, it is the last place she wants to be. Left homeless by a fire, she’s forced to go back to the small coastal town that harbors a million secrets, including her own. Sophie sees this secret reflected every day in her daughter’s blue eyes-and she must keep it hidden from the only man she has ever loved.

Sophie’s return is a shock for everyone . . . especially Liam Gallagher. The firefighter had some serious feelings for Sophie-and seeing her again sparks a desire so fierce it takes his breath away. Now Liam will do whatever it takes to show Sophie that they deserve a second chance at love, even if everything they’ve concealed threatens to keep them apart. In this special town at this special time of the year, Sophie and Liam can only hope for a little holiday magic . . .  (publisher)

My take:  When Sophie returns home to Harmony Harbor she brings her daughter Mia with her. No one knew about Mia until now so everyone has something to say – it’s a small town. Sophie worries what will happen if Mia’s father and his powerful family find out they’re related to her. Will Sophie lose her?

Fortunately for Sophie her luck starts to change when she is hired to manage Greystone Manor, the local inn which is not doing well. She and Mia can live there rent free as she begins her dream job. On day one she meets her former crush Liam Gallagher. His family owns the Greystone but he works as a firefighter. The Inn also employs some interesting characters and there may be a spirit or two hanging around. Really, this novel has a lot going on!

The book title comes from the raffle of a cottage (Mistletoe Cottage) on the Inn’s grounds. It’s decorated for Christmas and will hopefully raise enough money to keep the Inn afloat. The Gallagher matriarch Colleen has died and many of her heirs want to sell the place to a developer so Sophie really needs the raffle to be a huge success.

Mistletoe Cottage is the first in Debbie Mason’s new Harmony Harbor series.  We meet many characters who I’m sure will appear prominently in future books. I enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of the author and contemporary, small town romance – this one with a Christmas theme.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

  • and-every-morningTitle:  And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
  • Author:  Fredrik Backman
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  96
  • Published:  November 2016 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  This is a novella about a boy and his Grandpa. Noah and Grandpa have a wonderful relationship – one that Grandpa considers his second chance since he wasn’t always around for his son, Noah’s dad. Grandpa and Noahnoah (that’s what Grandpa calls him) “get” each other. They like the same things. When Grandpa starts forgetting things Noah reassures him even though he’s not quite sure what’s going on.

Fredrik Backman’s characters get to me every time. This time it’s a tale about life through the eyes of an old man and a little boy. Maybe it’s because of where I am in my own life that I could relate. Backman had me smiling on one page and tearing up on the next.

I liked the simple illustrations that were sprinkled through the novella. It took only an hour or so to read and I was left smiling as I turned the last page. It was lovely. Recommended.

 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

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victoria and-every-morning

Last week on Bookfan:

SnowfallOnHavenPoint_BookCover   Fall of Poppies (LTER win)

Reading plan for this week:

Very little reading time last week so I’m still reading:

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Fall of Poppies

  • Fall of Poppies (LTER win)Title:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War
  • Authors:   Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, Marci Jefferson
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; Library Thing Early Reviewers

Description:  On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month . . .

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors, the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving, unforgettable collection, nine top historical fiction authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.  (Goodreads)

My brief take:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War is an anthology of stories about World War I. They revolve around Armistice Day (Nov. 11, 1918) – “where were you then?” and “what happened before and after?”.

I liked all of the stories but one stood out from all the rest: All For the Love of You by Jennifer Robson. It’s about a young American woman in Paris who meets an injured American soldier at her place of work and forms a unique friendship. Circumstances out of their control determine what happens next… until one day when they meet again. I loved the story and will definitely look for more from author Jennifer Robson.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction/romance anthologies – especially with a Great War theme.

Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne plus a US Giveaway

  • SnowfallOnHavenPoint_BookCoverTitle:  Snowfall on Haven Point
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Series:  Haven Point #5
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  September 2016 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley; Little Bird Publicity

Description:  It’s been two rough years since Andrea Montgomery lost her husband, and all she wants is for her children to enjoy their first Christmas in Haven Point. But then Andie’s friend asks a favor—to keep an eye on her brother, Sheriff Marshall Bailey, who’s recovering from a hit and run. Andie will do anything for Wyn, even park her own misgivings to check on her grouchy, wounded bear of a brother. 

Marshall hates feeling defenseless and resents the protective impulses that Andie brings out in him. But when a blizzard forces them together for the holidays, something in Marshall begins to thaw. Andie’s gentle nature is a salve, and her kids’ excitement for the holidays makes him forget why he never wanted a family. If only he and Andie can admit what they really want—each other—their Christmas wishes might come true after all.  (publisher)

My take: Readers met Andrea Montgomery (Andie) in Riverbend Road, book 4 in the Haven Point series. She’s been to hell and back and just wants to live a normal life with her two young children in the town they recently moved to. When the local sheriff is run down by a hit-and-run driver his sister Wyn, Andie’s good friend, asks her to look in on him until she can get home.

As you might expect, Andie and Marshall’s friendship grows into something more. The thing is, Andie doesn’t want to be involved with anyone in law enforcement. Her first husband was killed in the line of duty and she just can’t put herself or her children through that again. Marshall never liked kids and certainly never wanted any of his own. Then why does he think Andie’s kids are so sweet? Changes are in the air.

Snowfall on Haven Point is an enjoyable Christmas romance. Along with the issues between Andie and Marshall there’s the mystery of the hit-and-run, some missing money at the Sheriff’s Department, and the next-door neighbors may be more than just neighbors. I liked it all and recommend it to fans of RaeAnne Thayne and contemporary Christmas romance novels.


Best-selling author RaeAnne ThayneNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on: cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.

Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 40 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA® Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.raeannethayne.com.


US Giveaway

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GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

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Giveaway ends on November 1, 2016

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Next by Stephanie Gangi

  • the-nextTitle:  The Next: A Novel
  • Author:  Stephanie Gangi
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  October 2016 – St. Martin’s Press

Description: Is there a right way to die? If so, Joanna DeAngelis has it all wrong. She’s consumed by betrayal, spending her numbered days cyberstalking Ned McGowan, much younger ex, and watching him thrive in the spotlight with someone new, while she wastes away. She’s every woman scorned, fantasizing about revenge … except she’s out of time.

Joanna falls from her life, from the love of daughters and devoted dog, into an otherworldly landscape, a bleak infinity she can’t escape until she rises up and returns and sets it right – makes Ned pay – so she can truly move on.

From the other side into right this minute, Jo embarks on a sexy, spiritual odyssey. As she travels beyond memory, beyond desire, she is transformed into a fierce female force of life, determined to know how to die, happily ever after.  (publisher)


Praise for THE NEXT:

Cathleen Schine called it “an elegantly written, thoughtfully sharp and surprisingly touching whirlwind of a book.”

Erica Jong said, “I was instantly hooked by Gangi’s vivid writing, her psychological acumen, and her sharp observation of love and life. She is a fascinating writer who understands love, sex, men, and women.”


stephanie-gangi-author-photo_credit-to-tramaine-georgeAbout the author:

STEPHANIE GANGI is a NYC novelist, poet, and by day, a corporate communications strategist. She is working on her second novel, and a chapbook of poems, More Than Four.

 

 

 


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

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Giveaway ends on October 27, 2016

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Witch House of Persimmon Point

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Description

Someone to Love by Mary Balogh

  • Someone to Love (11:1)Title:  Someone to Love
  • Series:  Wescott #1
  • Author:  Mary Balogh
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Pages:  400
  • Pub. Date:  November 8, 2016 – Signet
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  The New York Times bestselling author of Only a Kiss launches a new series with the death of an earl and the revelation of a scandalous secret…

Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had…

Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…

Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.  (publisher)

My take: Mary Balogh is back with the first in her new Wescott series: Someone to Love. I love a good historical romance and Balogh writes wonderful novels to escape into. This story is a little different in tone from the usual historical but I liked it every bit as much as all of her books.

It’s a Cinderella story to be sure but the prince is not your run-of-the-mill hero. No, Avery’s a bit mysterious – you just know he’s more than the public image most of the world sees. I won’t spoil because it was fun to learn his secret – nothing monumental but it made me smile just the same.

Anna was so courageous and was easy to cheer on as she met her new life head-on. It was fun to see her life change and yet she held on to certain aspects of her past. She was a refreshing character who I hope we’ll see more of in future books in this series.

If you’re a fan of the genre or Mary Balogh I think you’ll enjoy Someone to Love as much as I did. It will go on sale Nov. 8th.

Good Taste by Jane Green

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  • Title:  Good Taste: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Family and Friends
  • Author:  Jane Green
  • Genre:  Cookbook
  • Pages:  192
  • Published:  October 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

Description: A lush and gorgeous guide to all things food and entertaining from Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of Jemima J, The Beach House, and Falling.
 
Jane Green’s life has always revolved around her kitchen…

… from inviting over friends for an impromptu brunch; to wowing guests with delicious new recipes; to making sure her ever-on-the-move family makes time to sit down together. For Jane, food is enjoyable because of the people surrounding it and the pleasures of hosting and nourishing those she cares about, body and soul.

Now, Jane opens wide the doors of her stunning home to share tips on entertaining, ideas for making any gathering a cozy yet classy affair, and some of her favorite dishes, ranging from tempting hors d’oeuvres like Sweet Corn and Chili Soup, to mouthwatering one-pot mains like Slow-Braised Onion Chicken, to sinfully satisfying desserts like Warm Chocolate and Banana Cake.

This book is Jane’s perfect recipe for making a wonderful life complete with friends, loving family, and moments filled with good food, good times, and, of course, Good Taste. (publisher)

My take: At first glance Good Taste has a rather unassuming cover – until you take a closer look at the photo which shows the author readying a dining table for an outdoor meal. It looks quite inviting and lovely.

And that’s exactly how I felt about the cookbook – welcomed by author Jane Green to take a look at her favorite recipes and give them a try. She personalized each one with an anecdote about the family or friends a recipe bring to mind. I loved that.

The book is divided into Beginnings (starters and soups), Middles (main courses), and Endings (desserts). Gorgeous color photos accompany each recipe which is something I really appreciate. I’m not an accomplished cook by any stretch of the imagination so I like to have a clear goal in mind of what my finished product should look like 🙂

There are several recipes I can’t wait to try including: Tomato Tart Tatin; Slow-Braised Onion Chicken; and Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle. The photos of all three are gorgeous and what I really love is that after reading each recipe I feel confident I’ll be able to make them.

Good Taste would make a wonderful gift for the cook in your life this holiday season.

Blog Tour: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray

  • a-most-extraordinary-pursuit-104Title:  A Most Extraordinary Pursuit
  • Author:  Juliana Gray
  • Genre:  Historical Mystery
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  October 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  In February, 1906 as the personal secretary of the recently departed Duke of Olympia—and a woman of scrupulous character—Miss Emmeline Rose Truelove never expected her duties to involve steaming through the Mediterranean on a private yacht, under the prodigal eye of one Lord Silverton, the most charmingly corrupt bachelor in London. But here they are, improperly bound on a quest to find the duke’s enigmatic heir, current whereabouts unknown.

An expert on anachronisms, Maximilian Haywood was last seen at an archaeological dig on the island of Crete. And from the moment Truelove and Silverton disembark, they are met with incidents of a suspicious nature: a ransacked flat, a murdered government employee, an assassination attempt. As they travel from port to port on Max’s trail, piecing together the strange events of the days before his disappearance, Truelove will discover the folly of her misconceptions—about the whims of the heart, the motives of men, and the nature of time itself. (publisher)

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My take: Having read a few books by Beatriz Williams I was surprised to learn she also writes under the name Juliana Gray. A Most Extraordinary Pursuit is the first book in a new series. I agreed to join the blog tour for this book mostly because I love reading about the era of the early 20th century. A few pages in I was surprised by some strange occurrences. No spoilers but what I will say is the reader should be prepared for a bit of time-travel and the occasional dip into the paranormal.

I think my favorite character was Lord Silverton. At first he seems a ne’er-do-well aristocrat but later reveals himself to be a sort of James Bond of his day. He made me laugh a lot with the things he said to Miss Truelove and her reactions were usually equally funny. I liked the (mostly) Greece setting and mythology theme.

Although it took me a bit to get caught up in the story I ended up enjoying the novel and would take a look at the next book in this unusual series due out late next year. Recommended to readers looking for something a bit different in a historical mystery.


Praise for A Most Extraordinary Pursuit:

“Packed with unforgettable characters, exotic settings, and unexpected twists, A Most Extraordinary Pursuit is a delicious adventure from the first word to the last. This book has everything a reader could want: lyrical prose, swashbuckling action, and a heroine worth rooting for. Three cheers for Truelove!” —New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

 

“If Elizabeth Peters’s Ameila Peabody and Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia had an intrepid younger sister, it would, without doubt, be the heroine of Juliana Gray’s new series, Miss Emmeline Truelove.” —New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig