All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell

  • all the time in the worldTitle:  All the Time in the World: A Novel
  • Author:  Caroline Angell
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  July 2016 – Henry Holt
  • Source:  Publisher/FSB Associates

Description:  Charlotte, a gifted and superbly trained young musician, has been blindsided by a shocking betrayal in her promising career when she takes a babysitting job with the McLeans, a glamorous Upper East Side Manhattan family. At first, the nanny gig is just a way of tiding herself over until she has licked her wounds and figured out her next move as a composer in New York. But, as it turns out, Charlotte is naturally good with children and becomes as deeply fond of the two little boys as they are of her. When an unthinkable tragedy leaves the McLeans bereft, Charlotte is not the only one who realizes that she’s the key to holding little George and Matty’s world together. Suddenly, in addition to life’s usual puzzles, such as sorting out which suitor is her best match, she finds herself with an impossible choice between her life-long dreams and the torn-apart family she’s come to love. By turns hilarious, sexy, and wise, Caroline Angell’s remarkable and generous debut is the story of a young woman’s discovery of the things that matter most.  (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of Charlotte, a fledgling composer who is more successful at being a nanny for a young family than she is at her art. At least that’s how she feels. She had the rug pulled out from under her by a mentor who found success with Charlotte’s composition, claiming it as her own. Feeling powerless, Charlotte can barely speak about it to anyone so she does her best at helping care for the McLean children. When a tragedy occurs Charlotte becomes indispensable to the family and is even less inclined to pursue her art. As they do, things come to a head and Charlotte must make a decision that could shake the world even more for everyone involved. As difficult as it is, that decision will empower Charlotte in ways she hadn’t imagined.

I had a hard time finding something to like about a couple of the characters – two brothers, one being the father of the two young children. I found them lacking when it came to stepping up at the appropriate times – two more people to take advantage of Charlotte. And that led me to shake my head at times when Charlotte failed to speak up or act.

Caroline Angell’s novel is a study in grief, moving through grief, and finding one’s way through challenges in life. Any reader who has experienced loss of this kind will understand what the characters go through – and that there’s no right way to do it. This is just how Charlotte and the McLean family grieved their loss and started the ascent to a new normal. It’s a compelling story and I’m glad I had the chance to read it.

Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber

  • sweet tomorrows (8:2)Title:  Sweet Tomorrows
  • Series:  Rose Harbor #5
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  August 2016 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  When Jo Marie Rose purchased what became known as the Rose Harbor Inn a few years ago she was heartbroken from the loss of her husband Paul. Somehow she felt he’d led her to Cedar Cove and the charming inn and eventually she started to live again. The inn became a place of healing and she met many interesting people: Cedar Cove residents, guests at the inn, and one often infuriating handyman named Mark Taylor.

Over the years not only did Mark get under Jo Marie’s skin from time to time but he became a friend and then much more. Jo Marie also learned that Mark was much more than a handyman. In the previous novel Mark told Jo Marie to move on with her life – without him, and abruptly left Cedar Cove. He’s been gone for a year and Jo Marie has about given up hope that she’d see him again when things change.

Emily Gaffney is a teacher who accepted a new job in Cedar Cove. She needs a fresh start in a new town after a second broken engagement. She’ll stay at the inn while searching for a house. This turns out to be a blessing for Jo Marie. The two become friends and Emily helps out at the inn when Jo Marie is needed elsewhere. Emily has had to give up on some dreams and doubts the inn will work its magic on her but Jo Marie knows otherwise – especially when it comes to Emily and the difficult owner of the house she’d like to buy.

Sweet Tomorrows is the final installment in the Rose Harbor series. It’s about people at a low point who’ve almost given up on themselves, life and those close to them. Ultimately, in true Debbie Macomber fashion, it’s an uplifting story that brings the series to a close. I’m going to miss Jo Marie and the rest of the Cedar Cove family.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

a gift of love Family Sins (Oct.'16)  Beachcombers (kindle:audible)  a place to call home

Last week on Bookfan:

Santorini Sunsets_FC  behind closed doors (SMP 8:9)  Mata Hari's Last Dance (7:19)  the other daughter

Reading plan for this week:

you will know me (7:26)  the life she wants (9:27)

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig

the other daughter

Description:

Raised by her widowed mother in genteel poverty in an isolated English village, for the past six years Rachel Woodley has been working in France as a nursery governess. When her mother unexpectedly dies, she returns to England to clear out the cottage, and finds a scrapbook full of cuttings from London society pages – all pictures of her supposedly deceased father, very much alive. He’s an earl, socially prominent, with another daughter who is living a charmed life: a debutante, much photographed, and engaged to a rising Tory MP. Rachel’s cousin confirms the horrible truth: her father is alive, with a legitimate, acknowledged family. Which makes Rachel…not legitimate. Everything she thought she knew about herself and her past – even her very name – is a lie.

Still reeling from the death of her mother, and furious at this betrayal, Rachel enters into an uneasy alliance with a mysterious man-about-town, who promises her access to her father. With his help, Rachel sets herself up in Roaring Twenties London under a new identity and insinuates herself into the party-going crowd of Bright Young Things, with a steely determination to unveil her father’s perfidy and bring his – and her half-sister’s – charmed world crashing down. Very soon, however, Rachel faces two unexpected snags: she finds she genuinely likes her half-sister, Olivia, whose situation isn’t as simple as it appears; and that Rachel herself might just be falling for her sister’s fiancé.


About the author:  Lauren Willig is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Pink Carnation series and a RITA Award-winner for Best Regency Historical for The Mischief of Mistletoe. A graduate of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in English history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.


Praise for The Other Daughter:

“Intriguing…the complexity of the storyline and the characters draws readers deeply into the story until they are completely invested and hooked until the end…A thoughtful read.” – Romantic Times

“…creates a strong sense of place and time…Will appeal equally to longtime Willig fans and readers looking for character-driven, historical fiction with a light touch of romance.” – Library Journal

“Vibrant and thrilling…” – Booklist


US Giveaway

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TWO winners!

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the other daughter

Giveaway ends August 26th

Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

  • Mata Hari's Last Dance (7:19)Title:  Mata Hari’s Last Dance: A Novel
  • Author:  Michelle Moran
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  288
  • Published:  July 2016 – Touchstone
  • Source:  Publisher

About:  From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From Indian temples and Parisian theatres to German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.  (publisher)

My take:  When I hear the name Mata Hari an image of an exotic dancer from the early twentieth century comes to mind. Other than that I really didn’t know much about her. I used Google to see what she really looked like and was surprised by how many photographs were taken of her. In Michelle Moran’s hands she becomes a real person who reinvented herself when she was a young woman.

Margaretha Zelle MacLeod survived some devastating disappointments early in life but had the good fortune to meet people later who helped her create her public persona of Mata Hari. Her rags to riches story is quite amazing. Moran’s story fleshed out the years Mata Hari spent in European cities, World War I, and her ultimate demise (an emotional scene, for sure).

I think fans of Michelle Moran and historical fiction will enjoy Mata Hari’s Last Dance. It’s an incredible story and I’m glad I had the chance to learn about this fascinating woman. I appreciated the author’s note at the end that gave clarity to some of the details.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

  • behind closed doors (SMP 8:9)Title:  Behind Closed Doors
  • Author:  B.A. Paris
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  August 2016 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Perhaps it’s simply true love?

Now, picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie??  (publisher)

My take:  Not wanting to reveal more than the description I’ll keep this brief. I don’t like feeling anxious and that’s exactly how I felt while reading Behind Closed Doors. That said, I couldn’t stop reading this novel.  B.A. Paris’ debut novel is addictive like no other book I’ve read this summer.

Alternating chapters between Past and Present was a good way to reveal the story of Grace and Jack. Paris drew me into this story with a seemingly normal scene then quickly grabbed me with a 180° turn. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I was interested to learn that the author was inspired to write this novel when she suspected a friend was caught up in a situation with very little control. That led Paris to imagine Grace’s predicament.

I found Behind Closed Doors to be well-paced and suspenseful and I read with a figurative hand over my eyes. I think fans of psychological thrillers will gobble it up. I read it in two days and felt satisfied as I turned the last page. I’m not surprised that movie rights have already been sold in the US.


About the Author: B.A. Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and worked in London for three years before moving to Paris, where she worked in corporate banking and as a trader in an international bank. After the birth of her first daughter, she became a stay-at-home mother and went on to have another three daughters. She spent four years in the Netherlands, where her fifth daughter was born. Returning to France, she decided to re-train as an English teacher and worked for some years in an international school and then at the Université de Marne la Vallée, teaching English to Architecture students. In 2009 she set up a language school with her husband and now teaches Business English in Paris.

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Santorini Sunsets by Anita Hughes

image001-3

About the book:

Brigit Palmer is thrilled to be on the Greek Island of Santorini. She’s here for her wedding to Hollywood heart-throb Blake Crawford, one of America’s most eligible bachelors. Brigit’s parents have rented a villa, and soon guests will arrive from all over the world for the intimate ceremony.

Brigit is a New York socialite, and she’s just given up her position at a Manhattan law firm to run her father’s philanthropic foundation. Things are finally falling into place. Love, career, family. Everything is going so well…until she steps into the garden and sees her ex-husband Nathaniel hiding in the rose bushes.

Nathaniel, a failed novelist, announces that Blake sold the rights to the wedding to HELLO! Magazine for two million dollars (donated to charity), and he is the reporter assigned to write the story. Everyone expects Brigit to have her happily ever after, including her mother who taught her how to lead the perfect lifestyle, her younger sister Daisy who impatiently wishes for her own love story, and of course, her fiancé. Things are supposed to work out for them. But when Brigit discovers an unsettling secret about Blake, she questions everything she’s ever believed about love, and wonders if she’s better off alone.

Told in Anita Hughes’ spectacularly descriptive prose, SANTORINI SUNSETS is a story about family bonds, first loves, and the question of when to let go and when to hang on as tight as you can.


Anita Hughes_Credit Sheri Geoffreys (NEW)ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ANITA HUGHES is also the author of Island in the SeaRome in Love, French CoastLake ComoMonarch Beach and Market Street. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program. Hughes lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.

Photo credit: Sheri Geoffreys

 

PRAISE FOR ANITA HUGHES:

“With her magnificent descriptions of Majorca’s beauty and mouth-watering morsels, Anita Hughes takes you on a romantic journey that will leave you breathless. Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story is a decadent delight that must be savored!” —Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, authors of The Status Of All Things

“What a delicious book. Anita Hughes’ writing is so rich in detail that you can practically taste the almond cake and smell the sea as you turn the pages. An absorbing read and an utterly delightful escape.” —Cristina Alger, author of This Was Not The Plan and The Darlings

 

“The lush, colorful Majorcan setting is every bit as important as the plot in Hughes’ sensuous romance. Readers will be seduced by the food, sun, residents, and magic of Majorca along with plucky Juliet as they enjoy her romantic adventure.” —Booklist


US Giveaway

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Giveaway has ended

image001-3

Giveaway ends: August 24th

The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward – Excerpt and Review

The Angel's Share (7:26)

Excerpt from THE ANGELS’ SHARE by J. R. Ward

Toyota trucks were not supposed to go seventy-five miles an hour. Especially when they were ten years old.

At least the driver was wide awake, even though it was four a.m.

Lizzie King had a death grip on the steering wheel, and her foot on the accelerator was actually catching floor as she headed for a rise in the highway.

She had woken up in her bed at her farmhouse alone. Ordinarily, that would have been the status quo, but not anymore, not now that Lane was back in her life. The wealthy playboy and the estate’s gardener had finally gotten their act together, love bonding two unlikelies closer and stronger than the molecules of a diamond.

And she was going to stand by him, no matter what the future held.

After all, it was so much easier to give up extraordinary wealth when you had never known it, never aspired to it—and especially when you had seen behind its glittering curtain to the sad, desolate desert on the far side of the glamour and prestige.

God, the stress Lane was under.

And so out of bed she had gotten. Down the creaking stairs she had gone. And all around her little house’s first floor she had wandered.

When Lizzie had looked outside, she’d discovered his car was missing, the Porsche he drove and parked beside the maple by her front porch nowhere to be seen. And as she had wondered why he had left without telling her, she had begun to worry.

Just a matter of nights since his father had killed himself, only a matter of days since William Baldwine’s body had been found on the far side of the Falls of the Ohio. And ever since then Lane’s face had had a faraway look, his mind churning always with the missing money, the divorce papers he had served on the rapacious Chantal, the status of the household bills, the precarious situation at the Bradford Bourbon Company, his brother Edward’s terrible physical condition, Miss Aurora’s illness.

But he hadn’t said a thing about any of it. His insomnia had been the only sign of the pressure, and that was what scared her. Lane always made an effort to be composed around her, asking her about her work in Easterly’s gardens, rubbing her bad shoulder, making her dinner, usually badly, but who cared. Ever since they had gotten the air cleared between them and had fully recommitted to their relationship, he had all but moved into her farmhouse—and as much as she loved having him with her, she had been waiting for the implosion to occur.

It would almost have been easier if he had been ranting and raving.

And now she feared that time had come—and some sixth sense made her terrified about where he had gone. Easterly, the Bradford Family Estate, was the first place she thought of. Or maybe the Old Site, where his family’s bourbon was still made and stored. Or perhaps Miss Aurora’s Baptist church?

Yes, Lizzie had tried him on his phone. And when the thing had rung on the table on his side of the bed, she hadn’t waited any longer after that. Clothes on. Keys in hand. Out to the truck.

No one else was on I-64 as she headed for the bridge to get across the river, and she kept the gas on even as she crested the hill and hit the decline to the river’s edge on the Indiana side. In response, her old truck picked up even more speed along with a death rattle that shook the wheel and the seat, but the damn Toyota was going to hold it together because she needed it to.

“Lane . . . where are you?”

God, all the times she had asked him how he was and he’d said, “Fine.” All those opportunities to talk that he hadn’t taken her up on. All the glances she’d shot him when he hadn’t been looking her way, all the time her monitoring for signs of cracking or strain. And yet there had been little to no emotion after that one moment they’d had together in the garden, that private, sacred moment when she had sought him out under the blooms of the fruit trees and told him that she’d gotten it wrong about him, that she had misjudged him, that she was prepared to make a pledge to him with the only thing she had: the deed to her farmhouse—which was exactly the kind of asset that could be sold to help pay for the lawyers’ fees as he fought to save his family.

Lane had held her, and told her he loved her—and refused her gift, explaining he was going to fix everything himself, that he was going to somehow find the stolen money, pay back the enormous debt, right the company, resurrect his family’s fortunes.

And she had believed him.

She still did.

But ever since then? He had been both as warm and closed off as a space heater, physically present and completely disengaged at the same time.

Lizzie did not blame him in the slightest.

It was strangely terrifying, however.

Off in the distance, across the river, Charlemont’s business district glowed and twinkled, a false, earthbound galaxy that was a lovely lie, and the bridge that connected the two shores was still lit up in spring green and bright pink for Derby, a preppy rainbow to that promised land. The good news was that there was no traffic, so as soon as Lizzie was on the other side, she could take the River Road exit off the highway, shoot north to Easterly’s hill, and see if his car was parked in front of the mansion.

Then she didn’t know what she was going to do.

The newly constructed bridge had three lanes going in both directions, the concrete median separating east from west tall and broad for safety purposes. There were rows of white lights down the middle, and everything was shiny, not just from the illumination, but a lack of exposure to the elements. Construction had only finished in March, and the first lines of traffic had made the crossing in early April, cutting rush-hour delays down—

Up ahead, parked in what was actually the “slow” lane, was a vehicle that her brain recognized before her eyes properly focused on it.

Lane’s Porsche. It was Lane’s—

Lizzie nailed the brake pedal harder than she’d been pounding the accelerator, and the truck made the transition from full-force forward to full-on stop with the grace of a sofa falling out a second-story window: Everything shuddered and shook, on the verge of structural disintegration, and worse, there was barely any change in velocity, as if her Toyota had worked too hard to gain the speed and wasn’t going to let the momentum go without a fight—

There was a figure on the edge of the bridge. On the very farthest edge of the bridge. On the lip of the bridge over the deadly drop.

“Lane,” she screamed. “Lane!”

Her truck went into a spin, pirouetting such that she had to wrench her head around to keep him in her sights. And she jumped out before the Toyota came to a full stop, leaving the gearshift in neutral, the engine running, the door open in her wake.

“Lane! No! Lane!

Lizzie pounded across the pavement and surmounted barriers that seemed flimsy, too flimsy, given the distance down to the river.

Lane jerked his head around—

And lost one hold of the rail behind him.

As his grip slipped, shock registered on his face, a flash of surprise . . . that was immediately replaced by horror.

When he fell off into nothing but air.

Lizzie’s mouth could not open wide enough to release her scream.

____

Posted by arrangement with New American Library, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © J.R. Ward, 2016.


JR Ward (dog) - Photo by Andrew HyslopJ.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with more than 15 million novels in print published in 25 different countries around the world.  The books in her popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series have held the #1 spot on the New York Times hardcover, mass market, eBook, and combined print/eBook fiction bestseller lists and have debuted in the top 5 on the USA Today bestseller list.  Prior to her writing career, Ward worked as a lawyer in Boston and spent many years as the Chief of Staff of one of Harvard’s world-renowned academic medical centers.  Ward currently lives with her family in Kentucky where she has learned to enjoy and appreciate all things Southern.  Connect with her online at www.jrward.com, Facebook.com/JRWardBooks, and Twitter.com/JRWard1.

Photo credit: Andrew Hyslop


  • The Angel's Share (7:26)Title:  The Angels’ Share
  • Series:  The Bourbon Kings, #2
  • Author:  J.R. Ward
  • Genre:  Romance; Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  July 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  In Charlemont, Kentucky, the Bradford family is the crème de la crème of high society—just like their exclusive brand of bourbon. And their complicated lives and vast estate are run by a discrete staff who inevitably become embroiled in their affairs. This is especially true now, when the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder…
 
No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.
 
Everything has consequences; everybody has secrets. And few can be trusted. Then, at the very brink of the family’s demise, someone thought lost to them forever returns to the fold. Maxwell Bradford has come home. But is he a savior…or the worst of all the sinners?  (publisher)

My take:  If you loved last summer’s hit The Bourbon Kings  I think you’ll love The Angels’ Share just as much. It continues the saga of the Bradford family – brothers Edward, Lane and Max and sister Gin. Each sibling has his/her own personal drama in addition to the larger drama of their father’s death. Was it suicide or something else?

This family is the definition of dysfunction yet blood will always be thicker than water. Even if begrudgingly, family loyalty is a certainty with the Bradford siblings. Lane exemplifies that loyalty and rises to lead the family in the darkest of days.

Filled with colorful supporting characters, The Angels’ Share is a fast-paced and entertaining novel that I think makes the best kind of beach read. At times it seemed overly dramatic (think night-time soaps from the 80s) and I enjoyed it all. I can’t wait for the next book!


 

Blog Tour Review: Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino

  • swear on this life (blog tour 8:11)Title:  Swear on This Life
  • Author:  Renée Carlino
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  August 2016 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?  (publisher)

My take:  What would you do if you discovered a book, a best-seller, that told the world about your life – a life that took years of therapy to come to terms with? Emiline has to find the author and find out why he wrote her story. The problem is he was her childhood best friend and first love. They last saw each other ten years earlier at the tender age of fifteen.

It’s not easy to explain this novel. There’s a book within the book that I really enjoyed. I don’t usually care for that device. It’s the main point of this novel and I thought Renée Carlino did a great job with it. I loved Jackson and Emerson’s story (from the book within the book). It was full of the angst and emotions of friendship to first love. I wasn’t as fond of the here-and-now story. I didn’t connect to a few of the people in Em’s current story. But that’s on me, I think.

Overall, I enjoyed Swear on This Life and would definitely read more by Carlino. Recommended to fans of contemporary fiction with a good dose of romance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Renée Carlino
 is the author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, and Before We Were Strangers. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog, June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.


swear on this life (blog tour 8:11)

SWEAR ON THIS LIFE by Renee Carlino

Atria Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9781501105791 | On sale: August 9, 2016 | 320 pages | $15.00

eBook: Atria Books | ISBN: 9781501105807 | On sale: August 9, 2016 | 320 pages | $7.99

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The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms

  • The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay (Aug 9)Title:  The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay
  • Author:  Kelly Harms
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  288
  • Published:  August 2016 – Thomas Dunne Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  A young painter, Lily has reached a crossroads in her life. Her career hasn’t taken off, her best friend may no longer be the trusted friend she thought, her boyfriend is a disappointment, and now she can’t keep up with the rising cost of living in the city. With no one to turn to, Lily is forced to move from her beloved apartment, but while packing she comes across a piece of mail that had slipped to the back of her junk drawer: a letter detailing further action needed to finalize the annulment of a quickie Vegas wedding. Ten years ago!

Lily decides it’s time to turn over a new leaf and the first item on her list of things to fix is getting the annulment… but you can’t just send a reply ten years later, “Hey by the way we are still married.” This is something that must be addressed in person. Lily takes to the road to track down her husband – the charming, fun, and sexy man she connected with all those years ago – Ben Hutchinson.

Ben Hutchinson left a wealthy dot-com lifestyle behind to return home to his family and the small town he loves, Minnow Bay. He’s been living off the grid and the last thing he expects is a wife he didn’t know he had to show up on his doorstep. 

By chance, Lily arrives at the magical Minnow Bay Inn, and there she will discover not just a place to lay her head, but new friends, a thriving art community, and maybe even the love of her life. (publisher)

My take:  I really enjoyed this charming novel. Being from Wisconsin I know a little about the North Woods and small towns and the people who live there. Lily is a city girl from Chicago so she’s not sure what to make of the people she meets when she arrives in Minnow Bay. And she really doesn’t know what to make of the guy she married on a whim ten years earlier (and then didn’t see for ten years).

Lily learns a lot about herself during her time in Minnow Bay. She becomes friends with the innkeeper and the art gallery owner – two people who show her that kindness exists in the world. She discovers an inner strength that will propel her into the next phase of her life – and that’s a good thing. I liked watching her finally stand up for herself and get the satisfaction that comes with it.

This is a feel-good story that had me smiling as I turned the last page. It reminded me a bit of  the tv show Northern Exposure and I thought Minnow Bay had a Stars Hollow vibe (for all you Gilmore Girls fans out there). I liked it all and recommend it to anyone looking for a fun read this summer.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

How the Light Gets In (Bk 9)  the flood girls (audiobook)  the things we wish were true

Last week on Bookfan:

the french war bride  the house between tides (Atria 8:2)  Firefly Summer (7:26)

Reading plan for this week:

sunrise crossing (9:1)  Family Tree by Susan Wigg (8:9:16 Wm Morrow)

Review/US Giveaway: Firefly Summer by Nan Rossiter

  • Firefly Summer (7:26)Title:  Firefly Summer
  • Author:  Nan Rossiter
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  July 2016 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  The close-knit Quinn siblings enjoyed the kind of idyllic childhood that seems made for greeting cards, spending each summer at Whit’s End, the family’s home on Cape Cod. Then comes the summer of 1964, warm and lush after a rainy spring—perfect firefly weather. Sisters Birdie, Remy, Sailor, Piper, and their brother, Easton, delight in catching the insects in mason jars to make blinking lanterns. Until, one terrible night, tragedy strikes.

Decades later, the sisters have carved out separate lives on the Cape. Through love and heartbreak, health issues, raising children, and caring for their aging parents, they have supported each other, rarely mentioning their deep childhood loss. But one evening, as they sit together at Whit’s End to watch the sun set, the gathering fireflies elicit memories of that long-ago night, and a tumult of regrets, guilt, and secrets tumble out.

Poignant yet hopeful, Firefly Summer is an uplifting story of the resilience of sisterhood and the bright glimpses of joy and solace that, like fireflies after rain, can follow even the deepest heartaches.  (publisher)

My take:  I’m from a big family of seven girls and one boy so I love novels about siblings, especially sisters. Nan Rossiter’s new novel is about four sisters in their late-fifties to mid-sixties. When they were young, more than fifty years earlier, tragedy struck the family and had a profound effect on each sibling.

Birdie, the oldest feels responsible for the tragedy and has increasingly self-medicated with wine. It’s taking a toll on her marriage as well as her relationship with her sisters. Remy was widowed young and made her life’s focus raising her three children. Now she has an unexpected chance of love. Sailor, having just filed for divorce from her philandering husband, has realized her dream of living on the Cape near her sisters. Piper, the youngest sister, is feeling the physical changes women of a certain age go through and is a bit disconcerted by it all.

I loved reading Firefly Summer. The Cape setting was lovely. There’s so much I identified with – a bit in each sister. I found that so enjoyable. There’s not a lot of fiction out there with characters in my age demographic so I relished in reading it. The future is uncertain for all the siblings, just as it is for all of us. What is certain is that if one remains optimistic in life it makes the tough times a little easier to endure. And, in this novel as well as my case, having sisters is always a plus. Recommended.


Praise for the novels of Nan Rossiter

“Nan Rossiter is at the peak of her storytelling abilities with Under a Summer Sky, which is told with the kind of compassion, grace, and wisdom that is nearly unrivaled in contemporary fiction.”—Examiner.com

“Eloquent and surprising…I love this story of faith, love, and the lasting bonds of family.”—Ann Leary, author of Outtakes from a Marriage on The Gin & Chowder Club

“A gripping story of three sisters, of love lost and found and a family’s journey from grief to triumph. A sure winner.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on More Than You Know


About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Nan Parson Rossiter’s adult fiction is often compared to the work of Nicholas Sparks – especially her first novel, THE GIN & CHOWDER CLUB. She hopes readers who enjoyed GIN & CHOWDER (or those who haven’t discovered it yet!) will look for the same characters in the Christmas anthology, MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT. Nan’s second novel, WORDS GET IN THE WAY, is an uplifting story about a single mom whose young son has autism. Her third novel, MORE THAN YOU KNOW, touches on the bonds of sisterhood and the tragedy and despair of Alzheimer’s, and her new novel, UNDER A SUMMER SKY, ties them all together in the spring of 2014.

Nan is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and is also the author-illustrator of several books for children including, most recently, THE FO’C’SLE: HENRY BESTON’S OUTERMOST HOUSE, called “a lovely vision of one man’s communion with nature” by Publisher’s Weekly.

Nan lives in rural Connecticut with her husband and two handsome sons.

To learn more visit www.nanrossiter.com


US Giveaway

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Firefly Summer (7:26)

Giveaway ends August 13, 2016

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

the house between tides (Atria 8:2)

Description:

Following the death of her last living relative, Hetty Deveraux leaves her strained relationship behind in London and returns to Muirlan, her ancestral home in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. Hetty has every intention of renovating and reselling it as a hotel, but before she can dive headfirst into the repairs, century-old remains are discovered by the house’s caretaker, with few physical clues left to identify the body. Only one thing is certain: he or she did not die of natural causes.

Hungry for answers, Hetty sets out to learn more about the body and the house’s owners from the 1910s, including her ancestor, Theo Blake, an acclaimed painter who returned to Muirlan to paint the local birds, and his new bride, Beatrice, who fell for Theo’s brilliance, even as she grew increasingly disturbed by his fascination with a local boy.

Following whispered rumors and a handful of leads, Hetty learns that something ruptured in the Blake’s marriage, forcing Beatrice to leave the country and Theo to withdraw from society. The exact cause has never been known, but as Hetty studies the paintings produced by Theo during his short-lived marriage, she uncovers secrets that will reverberate throughout the community – and lead her to the identity of the long-hidden body.

Sarah Maine is a compelling new voice in women’s fiction – her prose is rich and lyrical, and her storytelling is immersive. THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES (Atria Trade Paperback; is on sale now; ISBN: 9781501126918; $16) is a debut novel written with the command of a veteran author and is a perfect read for fans of Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley, and Ellen Marie Wiseman’s What She Left Behind.


About the author:

Sarah Maine was born in England but grew up partly in Canada before returning to the United Kingdom to study archaeology. She now lives in York with her family. The House Between Tides is her debut novel.


Praise for THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES:

“Scotland’s Outer Hebrides provides the sensuous setting for [this] impressive debut… [a] beautifully crafted novel.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Delivering details at a perfectly suspenseful pace… the historic mystery will keep readers guessing right up until the end.” – Booklist

“An eerie odyssey that would be right at home in the pages of the pulpy Warren comics.” – Kirkus Reviews


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the house between tides (Atria 8:2)

Giveaway ends August 8th, 2016 (it’s a quick one!)

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The French War Bride by Robin Wells

the french war bride

Description:  Nazi-occupied Paris serves as the backdrop for Robin Wells’s gorgeous new story of compassion, betrayal, and forgiveness. In THE FRENCH WAR BRIDE (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; August 2, 2016; $16) one fierce French woman, and an engaged American army doctor—both with promises to keep—become unexpectedly and permanently entangled. But their story is more complicated than it appears on the surface. . .

Fast-forward to present day. Though she has lived a good life—blessed with a doting husband and many grandchildren—Kat Morgan has never fully recovered from being abandoned by her first love and former fiancé, Jack, who returned home from World War II with a French war bride and a baby. Fearing she has little time left to learn the truth, Kat travels back to Wedding Tree to confront the other woman, Amelie Michaud O’Connor. What happened in France to make Jack jilt her in such an unscrupulous manner?  

As the two women sit together, Amelie tells of coming of age in Paris under Nazi occupation. The daughter of a linguistics professor who taught her English and German, Amelie has just begun an innocent romance with Joshua, a Jewish Austrian immigrant, when the Germans invade France.

With Paris under the thumb of the Nazis, Amelie’s world changes overnight. She loses her father, her home, and all her possessions. She gets a job as a maid at a Parisian hotel housing German army officers, but she is doing more than cleaning rooms; she is spying for la Resistance. 

But, like Jack, Amelie has her own promises to keep. So when she overhears him in a church confessional, she thinks she has found the answer to her prayers, and a way to ensure the future of her newborn baby. As a spy, her whole life has been a lie; what is the harm in telling one more—especially if it is for the good of the child? How could Amelie have known how deeply she would unwittingly draw Jack into the tangled web of her life—or that she would fall desperately in love with him?


About the author:  National bestselling author Robin Wells is a winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, and the HOLT Medallion, among others.


Praise for The Wedding Tree series by Robin Wells:

“Vibrant characters and a beautifully detailed storyline combine in this compelling tale spanning generations. The alternating POVs are intricately woven together in this tale of love, loss, forgiveness and renewal.”—RT Book Reviews TOP PICK

 

“Women’s fiction fans will appreciate this character-driven story of two generations of women.”

Library Journal

 

Heroes & Heartbreakers “Women’s Fiction Best Bets for December 2015”


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the french war bride