The View From Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

The View From Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

Published April 30, 2019 – MIRA

Review copy provided by the publisher; NetGalley

Description:

A poignant and powerful story about how one woman’s best intentions lead to the worst of situations, and how love helps her to heal and ultimately triumph.

From the outside looking in, Lauren Delaney has a life to envy—a successful career, a solid marriage to a prominent surgeon and two beautiful daughters who are off to good colleges. But on her twenty-fourth wedding anniversary Lauren makes a decision that will change everything.

Lauren won’t pretend things are perfect anymore. She defies the controlling husband who has privately mistreated her throughout their marriage and files for divorce. And as she starts her new life, she meets a kindred spirit—a man who is also struggling with the decision to end his unhappy marriage.

But Lauren’s husband wants his “perfect” life back and his actions are shocking. Facing an uncertain future, Lauren discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had as she fights for the love and happiness she deserves. (publisher)

My take:  I find Robyn Carr’s characters always easy to cheer on. In this case, it’s Lauren, a woman who has waited far too long (for mostly understandable reasons) to break free from an abusive husband. Her circumstances aren’t what I’d consider typical in that she has the means to leave and transition to a new life. It was interesting to see how her story played out as life offered up new and wonderful possibilities.

There’s a secondary plot line about a priest changing his path in life that while I thought it interesting I’m not sure how accurate the details of that change are. In the end I don’t think the book needed to include this storyline at all. I liked the novel but not as much as most of Carr’s other books.


 


			

Why Kill The Innocent by C.S. Harris

Why Kill The Innocent by C.S. Harris

Published February 2019 – Berkley Trade Paperback

Book provided by the publisher

Description:  London, 1814. As a cruel winter holds the city in its icy grip, the bloody body of a beautiful young musician is found half-buried in a snowdrift. Jane Ambrose’s ties to Princess Charlotte, the only child of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive to the throne, panic the palace, which moves quickly to shut down any investigation into the death of the talented pianist. But Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his wife Hero refuse to allow Jane’s murderer to escape justice.

Untangling the secrets of Jane’s world leads Sebastian into a maze of dangerous treachery where each player has his or her own unsavory agenda and no one can be trusted. As the Thames freezes over and the people of London pour onto the ice for a Frost Fair, Sebastian and Hero find their investigation circling back to the palace and building to a chilling crescendo of deceit and death . . . (publisher)

My take:  Hero Devlin and her friend Alexi Sauvage are on their way home from visiting a young woman whose story will be integral to the article Hero is writing. The weather is frigid, the worst winter they’ve had in memory, and they are anxious to step into the carriage that awaits them at the end of a lane. Hero suddenly trips on what turns out to be the body of a young woman. When Hero discovers her identity she becomes intent on learning how she ended up on this small lane in a part of town that people of her sort wouldn’t be expected to be found. Hero and her husband Sebastian St. Cyr will make solving this mystery their primary focus but it won’t be easy. Palace interference, politics, family rivalries, and the winter of 1814 will put obstacles in their way as they grow closer to the truth.

The pace was good and kept me turning the pages as I learned quite a bit about that particular winter. Harris’s detailed settings brought me into each scene – from the palace to the Frost Fair on the frozen Thames to the drawing-room in Hero and Sebastian’s home. I enjoyed dipping into this series for the first time. Why Kill The Innocent is book thirteen but I didn’t feel lost. I realize I’ve missed a good deal of main character development which has me adding previous books to my list. Recommended to fans of the author and historical mysteries.


 

Sunday Post

My tulips on Saturday. Yes, my tulips in snow.


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The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

 

The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

Published:  April 23, 2019 – Berkley

Review copy provided by the publisher

Description: An eerie, old Scottish manor in the middle of nowhere that’s now hers.

Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago—her father.

Leaving London behind to settle the inheritance from her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home, nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, joined by the half-sister who’s almost a stranger to her.

Ailsa can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her—as if her past hungers to consume her. She also can’t ignore how the neighborhood animals refuse to set one foot within the gates of the garden.

When the first nighttime intruder shows up, Ailsa fears that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything.  (publisher)

My take:  I hope you read the description above because I can’t describe it any better. What drew me to this book was the setting and the aspect of a house being one of the characters. The Manse, as it is referred to by everyone, has quite the personality! I wondered more than a few times why the book wasn’t titled “The Manse“.

There are a few mysteries waiting to be solved by Ailsa. What really happened to her father all those years ago? What is going on regarding the animals? What’s up with her neighbors? I didn’t know who was worthy of her trust and neither did she. That’s what kept me turning the pages – especially in the first half of the novel when the pace felt a bit too slow. Still, I’d recommend The Missing Years to fans of mysteries with gothic overtones and possible time slips. It is Scotland, after all. 🙂


About the author:

Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport.

lexieelliott.com

instagram.com/lexieelliottwrites


 

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

March 2019 – Berkley Books

Review copy provided by the publisher

Description:  Alice may be the president’s daughter, but she’s nobody’s darling. As bold as her signature color Alice Blue, the gum-chewing, cigarette-smoking, poker-playing First Daughter discovers that the only way for a woman to stand out in Washington is to make waves–oceans of them. With the canny sophistication of the savviest politician on the Hill, Alice uses her celebrity to her advantage, testing the limits of her power and the seductive thrill of political entanglements.

But Washington, DC is rife with heartaches and betrayals, and when Alice falls hard for a smooth-talking congressman it will take everything this rebel has to emerge triumphant and claim her place as an American icon. As Alice soldiers through the devastation of two world wars and brazens out a cutting feud with her famous Roosevelt cousins, it’s no wonder everyone in the capital refers to her as the Other Washington Monument–and Alice intends to outlast them all. (publisher)

Guest Review by Bookfan daughter:

Alice Roosevelt was an extraordinary woman who had an untold influence on the history of our country.  As a president’s daughter, another president’s (and first lady’s) cousin, the wife of a Speaker of the House and hostess of tony weekly salons, she seemed to be the definition of a Washington insider for over six decades.  However, Alice felt like an outsider for as long as she could remember. American Princess sweeps the reader though the 20th century with Alice near the center of the action.  Her adventures, scandals, friendships and romantic entanglements all tie back to her complicated relationship with her famous father. For me, the novel was emotionally draining.  Alice endured so much heartache and the author made it easy to share in her pain. I both cheered for Alice and I cringed at her choices but ultimately I shed tears of happiness for how her story ends.


Praise for American Princess:

“As juicy and enlightening as a page in Meghan Markle’s diary.”InStyle

“Presidential darling, America’s sweetheart, national rebel: Teddy Roosevelt’s swashbuckling daughter Alice springs to life in this raucous anthem to a remarkable woman.”—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress


 

The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

Published: April 23, 2019 – MIRA

Review book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Join USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts for a seaside escape to the beaches of Moonlight Harbor

Celeste Jones has plans for a perfect summer with her boyfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé)—until he dumps her to be with the woman he’s had on the side for months. Heartbroken and furious, Celeste resolves to move on. When the going gets tough, the tough…okay, the not-so-tough go to the beach.

As soon as school lets out for the summer, she waves goodbye to her first-graders, packs up her bikini and heads for Moonlight Harbor, where she knows her big sister, Jenna, will receive her with open arms. Jenna could probably use some help at the Driftwood Inn, and Celeste is happy to do chores around the place in exchange for a relaxing summer escape. She just needs something—or someone—to distract her from her troubles.

Finding The One can be tricky, and Jenna is determined to make sure Celeste gets it right this time around. Not that Jenna’s an expert. She’s still trying to sort out her own love life. But if both sisters listen to their hearts, eventually they’re bound to discover that life—and love—is good at the beach. (publisher)

My take:  I read and enjoyed the first book in Moonlight Harbor series, somehow missed the second, and still didn’t feel lost reading the third and newest book The Summer Retreat. So if you haven’t read this series you should know each book can stand alone.

Celeste Jones is fresh out of what she thought would be a permanent relationship with the perfect man. She’s lost confidence in her ability to pick the right one and heads to her sister Jenna’s home in Moonlight Harbor. Jenna owns a small motel and could use Celeste’s help for the summer. Plus, she loves her sister and is happy to have her nearby. As Celeste gets to know the people and places of Moonlight Harbor she starts to feel like she’ll be okay. When she meets a couple of possible boyfriends she feels more than okay! But when it comes to making a choice should she listen to her heart or her brain? Go with the one who feels right or the one who should be right? As you might expect, the reader will know before Celeste.

Sheila Roberts made me laugh out loud and then cringe for her characters – and I enjoyed it. The Summer Retreat (and the Moonlight Harbor series) should appeal to fans of contemporary romance and small town stories.


 

Sunday Post

Happy Easter!

2019 Egg Hunt for the grandchildren


A note to people using Blogger:  I’ve had issues leaving a comment on most Blogger blogs for at least six months. Sometimes I can get through captcha but I’d say 90% of the time my comment just disappears. I’ve tried a few suggestions such as clearing my cache, history, etc. but that hasn’t worked. Just wanted to let you know that I read your blogs but can’t comment. 

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Tiny Hot Dogs: A Memoir in Small Bites by Mary Giuliani

Tiny Hot Dogs: A Memoir In Small Bites by Mary Giuliani

April 2019 – Running Press

Description: Tiny Hot Dogs is a collection of hilarious essays detailing high-profile event planner Mary Giuliani’s winding path from awkward Italian-Catholic school girl in an all-Jewish enclave on Long Island, where she dreamed of being an actress (in addition to having a bat mitzvah like all her friends), to one of New York City’s most prominent food entrepreneurs, dubbed “Caterer to the Stars” by the press. Told in Mary’s easy, relatable voice, we hear of comical celebrity encounters alongside her not-so-easy journey to motherhood. And with the memorable stories come party foods worth celebrating, including the pigs in a blanket Mary loves so much, and the realization that even though her big break didn’t come on Broadway, it did come, because she’s been at the center of the party since!


About the author:

Mary Giuliani is an author, party and lifestyle expert, and founder and CEO of Mary Giuliani Catering and Events. Mary has appeared on The Barefoot Contessa, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and is a regularly featured guest on The Rachael Ray Show. Her first book, The Cocktail Party (Eat, Drink, Play, Recover) came out in 2015. A graduate of Georgetown University, Mary resides in New York City and Woodstock, NY. Connect with Mary on her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Praise for Tiny Hot Dogs:

“Giuliani’s entertaining memoir is packed with satisfying stories and recipes that readers will guiltily enjoy.”Publishers Weekly


“Giuliani has chutzpah to spare in these life-filled, rib-sticking (and-tickling) stories.” Booklist


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Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Pub. date:  May 7, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

ARC provided by the publisher, Tandem Literary, NetGalley

Description:

Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist.

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews’ signature wit, heart, and charm. (publisher)

My take:  Drue Campbell is a thirty-something woman at loose ends.  Her mother recently died, she lost her job, and an injury has ended her favorite hobby. Just when it doesn’t seem like life can get any worse she is forced to accept a job offer from her estranged father. On the bright side, she discovers that she’s inherited her grandparents’ cottage on Sunset Beach. So at least she has a roof over her head – or a partial roof. Working at her father’s personal injury law office could expand Drue’s horizons and perhaps her non-existent dating life. She’ll find a future she’d never thought possible. Mary Kay Andrews filled her latest novel with interesting characters, a sunny Florida Gulf Coast setting, and a mystery or two that might involve someone close to Drue. I really enjoyed Sunset Beach and hope for a sequel. The possibilities for Drue and company are endless.


About the author:

Mary Kay Andrews is The New York Times bestselling author of The High Tide Club, The Beach House Cookbook, The Weekenders, Beach Town, Save the Date, Ladies’ Night, Christmas Bliss, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former journalist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Connect with MKA:

Website: https://marykayandrews.com
Newsletter: https://marykayandrews.com/newsletters/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marykayandrewsauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marykayandrews/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mkayandrews
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21387.Mary_Kay_Andrews


 

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

April 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review copy provided by the publisher

Description: Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game―and his heart―to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins. (publisher)

My take: The Girl He Used To Know is the story of Annika and Jonathan. They dated in college and then went their separate ways afterward. Ten years later they run into each other in the grocery store and decide to get to know each other again. But this is much more than a second chance at love story. Early on Jonathan discovers there’s something a bit different about Annika. What is revealed is that she’s an amazing person. She’s very intelligent, a great chess player, and quite beautiful. She also misses social cues to a degree that makes most others uncomfortable. The author addresses this pointedly late in the novel. I don’t want to say more because it’s interesting to experience the character development as the novel progresses. The Girl He Used To Know is a story of unconditional love and about finding one’s strengths and potential while facing extraordinary challenges. I quite liked it and look forward to reading more of this author’s work.


About the author:

Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.


 

The Editor by Steven Rowley

The Editor by Steven Rowley

Published:  April 2019 – G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Free review book provided by @PutnamBooks

Description:  From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus comes a novel about a struggling writer who gets his big break, with a little help from the most famous woman in America.

After years of trying to make it as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally sells his novel to an editor at a major publishing house: none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie–or Mrs. Onassis, as she’s known in the office–has fallen in love with James’s candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the book’s forthcoming publication threatens to unravel already fragile relationships, both within his family and with his partner, James finds that he can’t bring himself to finish the manuscript.

Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, and she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to head home to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. Then a long-held family secret is revealed, and he realizes his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page…

From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus comes a funny, poignant, and highly original novel about an author whose relationship with his very famous book editor will change him forever–both as a writer and a son. (publisher)

My take:  The Editor has many of the things I love to find in a novel: messy family dynamics, secrets, a holiday (which usually makes the family dynamics even messier), and a character or two that make me want to read the book without stopping. This book has Jackie and James. She was his editor and she was the one that made him look at his mother with a new perspective. I loved the mother/son relationship that was at times so sweet and other times so frustrating and sad and real. I also loved how the author portrayed Jackie. I plan to look for the books about her  recommended in the Acknowledgements. Ultimately this is the story of James’ journey of discovering answers to questions from the past and learning to live in the present. A very enjoyable read.


About the author:

Steven Rowley is the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus, which has been published in nineteen languages and is being developed as a major motion picture by Amazon Studios. He has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist and screenwriter. Originally from Portland, Maine, he is a graduate of Emerson College. He currently resides in Los Angeles.


 

Sunday Post

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I’m heading to the beach this week. My Kindle is loaded and this is first on my list to read:


 

US Giveaway: Who Slays the Wicked by C.S. Harris

Who Slays the Wicked by C.S. Harris

April 2019 – Berkley

Description:

The death of a fiendish nobleman strikes close to home as Sebastian St. Cyr is tasked with finding the killer to save his young cousin from persecution in this riveting new historical mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Why Kill the Innocent….

When the handsome but dissolute young gentleman Lord Ashworth is found brutally murdered, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is called in by Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy to help catch the killer. Just seven months before, Sebastian had suspected Ashworth of aiding one of his longtime friends and companions in the kidnapping and murder of a string of vulnerable street children. But Sebastian was never able to prove Ashworth’s complicity. Nor was he able to prevent his troubled, headstrong young niece Stephanie from entering into a disastrous marriage with the dangerous nobleman.

Stephanie has survived the difficult birth of twin sons. But Sebastian soon discovers that her marriage has quickly degenerated into a sham. Ashworth abandoned his pregnant bride at his father’s Park Street mansion and has continued living an essentially bachelor existence. And mounting evidence–ranging from a small bloody handprint to a woman’s silk stocking–suggests that Ashworth’s killer was a woman. Sebastian is tasked with unraveling the shocking nest of secrets surrounding Ashworth’s life to keep Stephanie from being punished for his death.


About the author: 

Candice Proctor, aka C.S. Harris and C.S. Graham, is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than a dozen novels including the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series written under the name C.S. Harris, the new C.S. Graham thriller series co-written with Steven Harris, and seven historical romances. She is also the author of a nonfiction historical study of the French Revolution. Her books are available worldwide and have been translated into over twenty different languages.


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Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins

Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins

Published:  April 2019 – Thomas & Mercer

Review galley courtesy of the publisher, NetGalley, Little Bird Publicity

Description:  It’s never too late for revenge in this thrilling novel by New York Times bestselling and award-winning crime master Max Allan Collins.

In a small Midwest town, twenty-eight-year-old Krista Larson has made her mark as the youngest female police chief in the country. She’s learned from the best: her father, Keith, a decorated former detective. But as accustomed as they are to the relative quiet of their idyllic tourist town, things quickly turn with Krista’s ten-year high school reunion.

With the out-of-towners holed up in a lakefront lodge, it doesn’t take long to stir up old grudges and resentments. Now a successful TV host, Astrid Lund, voted the “Girl Most Likely to Succeed”—and then some—is back in town. Her reputation as a dogged reporter has made the stunning blonde famous. Her reputation among her former classmates and rivals has made her infamous. Astrid’s list of enemies is a long one. And as the reunion begins, so does a triple murder investigation.

Krista and her father are following leads and opening long-locked doors from their hometown to the Florida suburbs to Chicago’s underworld. They just never imagined what would be revealed: the secrets and scandals of Krista’s own past. (publisher)

My take:  If you’ve attended a high school reunion you probably hope that people will remember only the good times. What happens when someone assumes some bad times might come to mind? Well, in the case of the Galena HS ten-year reunion someone is very worried and takes matters in hand to make sure certain events will not be topics of conversation. Before the reunion ends there will have been three murders for the new police chief, a reunion attendee herself, to solve.

While this genre isn’t my usual fare I like to dip into it occasionally. Girl Most Likely was especially interesting to me because I know the area where most of the novel takes place. I enjoyed the young female small town police chief’s perspective as well as her relationship with her recently widowed and retired detective father. I would read a series with those two as stars! Although I didn’t figure out the murderer I liked trying to sift through all the red herrings you’d expect to find at a high school reunion and I’m glad I gave this book a try.


About the author:

Max Allan Collins was named a Grand Master in 2017 by the Mystery Writers of America. He has earned an unprecedented twenty-three Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award nominations, winning two for his Nathan Heller novels. That series also earned Collins the PWA Hammer Award for making a major contribution to the private-eye genre. He received the PWA Eye Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. His other books include the New York Times bestseller Saving Private Ryan and the USA Today bestselling CSI series. His graphic novel Road to Perdition is the basis of the Academy Award–winning Tom Hanks film, and is followed by two acclaimed prose sequels and several more graphic novels in the same series. His other comics credits include the syndicated strip Dick Tracy, Wild Dog, Batman, and his own Ms. Tree. Collins is also a screenwriter, playwright, and a leading indie filmmaker in his native Iowa, where he lives with his wife, writer Barbara Collins; as “Barbara Allan,” they have collaborated on fourteen novels. For more information, visit http://www.maxallancollins.com.