Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

   

Last week on Bookfan:

   

Reading plan for this week:

It was my plan to read this last week but life was busy and I read only a few pages.


 

Milady by Laura L. Sullivan

Milady by Laura L. Sullivan

Published: July 2, 2019 – Berkley Books

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  I have gone by many names, though you most likely know me as Milady de Winter: Villainess. Seductress. A secondary player in someone else’s tale.
 
It is finally time I tell my own story. The truth is not tidy or convenient, but it is certainly more interesting.
 
Before you cast judgment, let me start at the beginning, and you shall learn how an innocent girl from the countryside became the most feared woman in all of Europe.
 
Because we all know history was written by men, and they so often get things wrong. (publisher)

My take:  Milady is the lively adventure story of Milady de Winter (you’ll recognize the name if you’ve read The Three Musketeers). Told from her POV we learn how she became a legendary spy for Cardinal Richelieu. The Musketeers make appearances but this is Milady’s story. And what a tale it is.

Growing up in the English countryside Clarice, daughter of the mostly absent Lord Paget, is doted on by her mother. She also teaches Clarice about the potency of various herbs and flowers and how to avoid catastrophe when using them. As she grows Clarice learns the manners of a lady and eventually is presented at Court. That marks the end of her childhood. Clarice now learns of palace intrigue and the problems that result when placing one’s trust in the wrong person.

A dual timeline (ten years apart) served to develop the characters and made for some incredible situations that had me reading ‘just one more chapter’! There are some scenes of violence that had me skimming a bit – that’s a warning. That aside, I liked this novel and would love to see Laura Sullivan take other secondary characters and make them the star of their own novel. She succeeded with Milady.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Rosie Colored Glasses

Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

MIRA Trade Paperback Reprint; June 11, 2019

“What a wonderful, emotional ride! It’s like the Ordinary People of the 21st century…such an achievement!” —Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Summer That Made Us

SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH ROSIE COLORED GLASSES

Just as opposites attract, they can also cause friction, and no one feels that friction more than Rex and Rosie’s daughter, Willow. Rex is serious and unsentimental and tapes checklists of chores on Willow’s bedroom door. Rosie is sparkling and enchanting and meets Willow in their treehouse in the middle of the night to feast on candy.

After Rex and Rosie’s divorce, Willow finds herself navigating their two different worlds. She is clearly under the spell of her exciting, fun-loving mother. But as Rosie’s behavior becomes more turbulent, the darker underpinnings of her manic love are revealed.

Rex had removed his Rosie colored glasses long ago, but will Willow do the same?

Whimsical, heartbreaking and uplifting, this is a novel about the many ways love can find you. Rosie Colored Glasses triumphs with the most endearing examples of how mothers and fathers and sons and daughters bend for one another. (Publisher)


Praise for Rosie Colored Glasses:

Rosie Colored Glasses begins with love, imagination and wonder, then slides into haunting loss and longing, but oh, how love remains and bursts forth to fill the story.”

–CAROL FITZGERALD, Bookreporter

“Brianna Wilson has done a marvelous and generous thing by writing Rosie Colored Glasses. I followed Willow with a hopeful, breaking heart, reminded how all of us, daughters, mothers, parents, children, are “different” in so many ways, and yet so beautiful and absolutely deserving of giving and receiving our love. “

–NANCY THAYER, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets in Summer

Rosie Colored Glasses is tender and bright, a compelling novel of a young girl (who completely owned my heart) and the mother she adores and fears and needs so badly. Brianna Wolfson is a wonderful writer. She has captured so brilliantly the demons and angels of mental illness, love and longing.”

–LUANNE RICE, New York Times bestselling author of The Beautiful

“A brilliant and beguiling debut exploring the highs and heartbreaking lows of love. Sparkling, insightful and honest, the Thorpe family’s powerful story will stay in my thoughts for a long time.”

–PHAEDRA PATRICK, author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Rosie Colored Glasses is a bittersweet, tender exploration of many kinds of love. This compelling novel, with unpredictable turns, reveals what love can save and what it can’t.”

–HELEN KLEIN ROSS, award-winning author of What Was Mine

“Heartbreaking and beautiful all at once… a stained glass window pieced together from shards of broken family life that create an illuminated picture of what it means to survive one’s childhood.”

–BUNMI LADITAN, author of Confessions of a Domestic Failure

“A great debut … Brianna Wolfson’s Rosie Colored Glasses has a voice that is irresistible.”

–J.P. MONNINGER, award winning author of The Map That Leads to You


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form


Spotlight/US Giveaway: If You Want To Make God Laugh

If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

Published July 16, 2019 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Description: From the author of the beloved Hum If You Don’t Know the Words comes a rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time and discover the ways that love can transcend the strictest of boundaries.

In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate poverty, under the shadowy threat of a civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Eight months pregnant, Zodwa carefully guards secrets that jeopardize her life.

Across the country, wealthy socialite Ruth appears to have everything her heart desires, but it’s what she can’t have that leads to her breakdown. Meanwhile, in Zaire, a disgraced former nun, Delilah, grapples with a past that refuses to stay buried. When these personal crises send both middle-aged women back to their rural hometown to heal, the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby upends everything, challenging their lifelong beliefs about race, motherhood, and the power of the past.

As the mystery surrounding the infant grows, the complicated lives of Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah become inextricably linked. What follows is a mesmerizing look at family and identity that asks: How far will the human heart go to protect itself and the ones it loves?


About the author:

Bianca Marais is the author of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words. She holds a certificate in creative writing from the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, where she now teaches creative writing. Before turning to writing, she started a corporate training company and volunteered with Cotlands, where she assisted care workers in Soweto with providing aid for HIV/AIDS orphans. Originally from South Africa, she now lives in Toronto with her husband.

Praise for Bianca Marais:

“Set against the backdrop of the Mandela presidency, the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, and the burgeoning AIDS epidemic, the story offers a look into the staggering emotional cost of secrecy, broken family bonds, racism, and sexual violence. Marais once again showcases her talent for pulling beauty from the pain of South African history with a strong story and wonderfully imperfect characters.” Publishers Weekly

“A moving portrait of the choices women can make–and the ones we can’t. Beautifully crafted and powerfully drawn, this book had me in tears.” —Jill Santopolo, bestselling author of The Light We Lost and More Than Words

“A story of three remarkable women at crossroads in their own lives against the backdrop of South Africa at the moment of stunning transformation that will keep you reading late into the night. Marais deftly completes a writer’s hat trick, leaving you gutted, smiling through tears and soaring with hope.” —Steven Rowley, bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor

“You will absolutely love this book. You will. Why? Because Bianca Marais’s heart is immense and full of love. With unsparing insight into the human condition, she unspools a tale that is at once heartbreaking as it is merciful, validating our frailty while eulogizing our endless capacity for generosity and love. We all need the deep refuge of Bianca Marais’s exceptional voice.” Robin Oliveira, author of My Name is Mary Sutter and I Always Loved You

“Radiant…A stirring ode to a country’s painful maturation.” O, The Oprah Magazine on HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS

“Richly drawn…[The characters’] journeys and eventual love poignantly demonstrate that nothing is simply black or white.” USA Today on HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS

 “With its vivid, emotional scene-setting, alternating narration and tense plotting, this novel is a thoughtful, compelling page-turner.” Good Housekeeping on HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form


 

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Published July 9, 2019 – Berkley

Review book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
 
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
 
Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
 
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page. (publisher)

My take:  Twenty-nine year old Nina Hill has lived a fairly singular life. Her single mother thought she didn’t need to know anything about her father and then proceeded to leave Nina in the care of a wonderful nanny until she left for college. Nina relies on herself, her books, and her planner to keep her life in order. Her very organized life is upended when she finds herself with a new family courtesy of the father she never met. Abbi Waxman’s novel is about what can happen if Nina can get past the anxiety and open herself to change and a wonderful new path in life. Nina might just find people who “get her” and even like her. I enjoyed The Bookish Life of Nina Hill and was delighted to see a few characters from Waxman’s first novel, The Garden of Small Beginnings, make an appearance. Recommended to fans of the author and easy, breezy novels you could read in a day.


About the author:

Abbi Waxman, the author of Other People’s Houses and The Garden of Small Beginnings, is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband. She can be found online at abbiwaxman.com, Facebook.com/abbiwaxmanbooks, and on Twitter @amplecat.


 

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Published:  June 2019 – Ballantine Books

Book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

My take: On the day Evvie Drake decides to pack up and leave her husband she gets a call from the hospital saying he’s been in a terrible accident. That’s not a spoiler, it happens in the first pages of the book.

Evvie doesn’t tell anyone that she was going to leave thus throwing her into widowhood and keeping up the resulting appearances – even to her best friend. This friend, knowing Evvie needs income, sends another friend who needs a place to live to see about renting the apartment attached to Evvie’s house. Dean is a baseball pitcher who lost his mojo and needs to hide out in a place where he won’t be easily recognized. Small town, midcoast Maine seems like a good place. Evvie and Dean slowly form a friendship that was fun to read. I enjoyed their banter and the slow progression of their relationship. I liked how they figured out, in a not so simple/convenient way, the direction their lives would begin to take.

Themes of depression, anxiety, grief, friendship, and love are touched on in Linda Holmes’ deceptively breezy tale. I read it in an afternoon and recommend it to fans of romantic comedy. I wouldn’t be surprised if this winds up on the big screen.