Guest Post and my review: Lone Heart Pass by Jodi Thomas

I’m pleased to welcome author Jodi Thomas today:

Lone Heart Pass (4:26)

When I began LONE HEART PASS two people stepped into my mind.  One, Jubilee Hamilton, who has just had all her dreams crash and the other, Charley Collins, who feels like he’s never had the chance to follow even one dream.  Both are fighting to simply survive.  Together they learn to start believing in love and form a dream, not of riches or fame, but of family.

I write the RANSOM CANYON series in a little room out back of my house that we now call the bunkhouse.  It’s not big, mission designed and almost a hundred years old.  I took down all the western art and put up white boards.  I even removed all the books except those on ranching, horses, Texas, or research I might need. Family histories of characters fill one wall and plot lines another.  When I step into the bunkhouse, I step into the world of Ransom Canyon.

One by one my characters come in and sit down to tell me their story. Jubilee and Charley came to me fully developed.  I saw them sit down in front of my desk (in my mind) and begin to tell me their story.  Charley’s love for his daughter.  Jubilee’s need to put down roots.  His knowledge of ranching.  Her fascination with keeping records and charts.  Them learning to trust one another when no one believed in either of them.

LONE HEART PASS marks my 43rd novel.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve had an extra lifetime of friends and family. It was hard writing the end to this one.  I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Jodi Thomas

Description: With a career and a relationship in ruins, Jubilee Hamilton is left reeling from a fast fall to the bottom. The run-down Texas farm she’s inherited is a far cry from the second chance she hoped for, but it and the abrasive foreman she’s forced to hire are all she’s got. 

Every time Charley Collins has let a woman get close, he’s been burned. So Lone Heart ranch and the contrary woman who owns it are merely a means to an end, until Jubilee tempts him to take another risk—to stop resisting the attraction drawing them together despite all his hard-learned logic. 

Desperation is all young Thatcher Jones knows. And when he finds himself mixed up in a murder investigation, his only protection is the shelter of a man and woman who—just like him—need someone to trust.  (publisher)

My take:  Lone Heart Pass is a story about people who’ve been cast away by people who should have loved them. Whether by parents or partners each one had their trust abused so it’s no wonder they’re reluctant, no, determined not to let anyone get that close to them again.

One of the things I love about Jodi Thomas’s books is that her characters, though flawed like us all, are usually kind. Their feelings are recognizable because the reader can identify with many of them. I think that’s what makes her books comfort reads for me. Lone Heart Pass is no exception. It’s a great addition to the Ransom Canyon series. There’s romance, mystery and drama – and I enjoyed it all.

Recommended to fans of Jodi Thomas, contemporary romance and the Ransom Canyon series. I can’t wait for the next book.


1028_jodibio A fifth ­generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.

With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full­ time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and “checking up” on their two grown sons.

For more information, please visit Jodi’s website at http://www.jodithomas.com.

4 Books to Take on Vacation – a Guest Post by Laura McNeill

bookfan mary laura mcneill guest post

4 Books to Take on Vacation

Laura McNeill

There’s nothing like diving into a new book by the ocean shore or atop a gorgeous mountain with the sunshine on your shoulders. Whether you’re vacationing on a cruise or just stealing a few hours in your own backyard, here are four books that are tried and true books light and fun enough for a getaway, but substantive enough to keep your attention.

bookfan mary 4 books to take on vacation image

1. Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes. Who doesn’t love this classic story? When literature professor Frances Mayes discovers her husband’s infidelity, she takes off for a tour of Tuscany, Italy to escape the pain. On impulse, Mayes buys a crumbling old villa and attempts to restore it to its glory. What she learns along the way helps heal her wounded heart.

2. On the Island – Tracey Garvis Graves. This novel really stole my heart. The book centers on Anna Emerson, a thirty‐year‐old English teacher who takes a job tutoring sixteen‐year‐old cancer survivor T.J. at the family’s summer home in South Asia. When their small plane crashes over the Maldives islands in the Indian Ocean, Ana and T.J. are left to fend for themselves. The pair faces danger, starvation, storms, and obstacles, falling in love along the way.

3. Flat Out Love – Jessica Park. I adored this quirky book about college student Julie Seagle who goes to live with a family friend of her mother’s in Boston. In a matter of months, Julie begins to love the Watkins family, including the reclusive youngest daughter, the brilliant brother, and the sibling who she’s never quite met … in person. Park is witty and wonderful in this fantastic novel.

4. The Castaways – Elin Hilderbrand. You’re sure to love Hilderbrand’s breezy Nantucket settings and island live. This story centers on four couples who count each other as best friends, and the fateful trip one husband and wife takes one summer afternoon. What’s revealed to each of the friends in the aftermath rocks the small coastal community. All of Hilderbrand’s novels are perfect for a summer vacation or a long afternoon spent in a hammock with sweet tea.

Be sure to check out some of my other favorite vacation‐authors including Anita Hughes, Joshilyn Jackson, Jane Green, Dorothea Benton Frank, Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Karma Brown, Amy Hatvany, Emily Liebert, and Mary Kay Andrews.

Do you have any favorite vacation books? I’d love to hear about them!

Bookfan Mary 4 books on vacation blurb

Bio:
Laura McNeill is the author to Center of Gravity (July 2015) and Sister Dear (April 19, 2016). When Laura is not writing or reading, she makes time to run, share pictures to Instagram, and adores the color pink!

Find Laura McNeill on social media:  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

sister dear-2

Best of My Love by Susan Mallery

  • best of my love (4:26)Title:  Best of My Love
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #20
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance series
  • Published:  April 26, 2016 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Shelby Gilmore, sister to Kipling who was featured in a previous book in the Fool’s Gold series, has decided it’s time to take control of her future by dealing with her issues from the past. The main issue is that she can’t trust men. Her abusive father is responsible for that. She decides to ask Aidan Mitchell, a guy she barely knows, to help her overcome that issue by being a friend. Nothing more, nothing less. If nothing else, she’ll find out if it’s even possible to be friends with a guy. But can it be that simple?

Aidan is at a point in life where he decides being friends with a woman sounds like a good plan. He has come to the realization that having an eternal string of “girlfriends” who never last more than a week might not be the greatest way to go through life. In the end, learning to trust another person could be easier for these two than learning to trust themselves.

Susan Mallery wrote an entertaining love story with an unconventional premise. Filled with many familiar characters from the series, I can say it’s not necessary to have read any of the previous novels but it was fun to see what was new in their lives. Recommended to fans of the Fool’s Gold series. I thought it was a nice, easy vacation read.

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley

  • keep me posted (review 4:19)Title:  Keep Me Posted: A Novel
  • Author:  Lisa Beazley
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  April 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Cassie lives in New York City with her husband and young twin sons. Sid, her sister, lives in Singapore with her husband, son and young daughter. While home for Christmas Sid proposes the two sisters communicate in the coming year via the old-fashioned way, letters. Cassie agrees to give it a try.

Cassie has been out of work for a year and not completely keen on her new role as a stay-at-home-mom. She constantly doubts her ability to be a great mom and is exhausted most of the time trying. That has her too tired to be anywhere near the partner she was to her husband before the twins were born. She’s kind of in a low self-esteem rut. She starts to live for her sister’s letters and can’t get over the excitement she feels at receiving one.

Then one day a seemingly normal decision changes everything. Not long after that the old saying “Be careful what you wish for” starts playing in Cassie’s head. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop through much of the novel and when it did I was completely invested in what I hoped would be the outcome for Cassie and Sid.

Lisa Beazley’s novel is an entertaining, heartfelt and relatable story about finding what matters most. I enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction – especially stories about sisters.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals (received in the past two weeks):  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

wedding girl (5:19 blog tour)  stitches in time  Once Upon a Wine (7:26 NAL)

better get to livin' (5:31)  one true loves (6:16 blog tour)  the cherry harvest

when the moon is low  Mata Hari's Last Dance (7:19)  the secrets she kept (7:26)

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review:  Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Review:  The Winemakers by Jan Moran

Eligible (4:19:16 RH)   The Winemakers (4:5)

Reading plan for this week:

the-girl-from-home-9781476764283_hr   Britt-Marie Was Here (5:10)

The Winemakers: A Novel of Wine and Secrets by Jan Moran

  • The Winemakers (4:5)Title:  The Winemakers: A Novel of Wine and Secrets
  • Author:  Jan Moran
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction/Romance
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  April 2016 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  In 1956, when Caterina Rosetta inherits a vineyard in Montalcino, Italy from a grandmother she’s never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret – a secret so devastating it threatens the future of everything her family has worked for. Many years before, the Rosetta family’s hard-won dreams of staking their claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina discovers a tragedy that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past.  (publisher)

My take:  The Winemakers is an old-fashioned saga of a family looking to fulfill their dreams of making their Napa vineyard a success. I loved the strong female characters who put very little above the love of family and winemaking. That said, they were governed by the patriarchal rules of society (of that time) and the church so they had great limitations on what they could do. There was also a huge secret that threatened any happiness for Caterina. This led to much unhappiness and unfulfilled dreams that would ultimately guide their actions.

The setting changes from France to Italy to California over the course of many decades. Most of the dual-storyline is set either in the 1920s or the 1950s. I enjoyed reading both storylines and thought Moran did a wonderful job of portraying both eras in all three countries.

I think anyone who enjoys a sweeping family story (which got a bit melodramatic at times) will like The Winemakers. My thanks to the publisher for sharing a copy with me.


JAN MORAN is the author of the novel Scent of Triumph, and Fabulous Fragrances I and II, which earned spots on the Rizzoli Bookstore bestseller list. A fragrance and beauty expert, she has been featured in numerous publications and on television and radio, including CNN, Instyle, and O Magazine, and has spoken before prestigious organizations, including The American Society of Perfumers. She earned her MBA from Harvard Business school and attended the University of California at Los Angeles Extension Writers’ Program.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

  • Eligible (4:19:16 RH)Title:  Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice
  • Author:  Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Genre:  Literary Fiction
  • Pages:  512
  • Publish date:  April 19, 2016 – Random House
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  From the “wickedly entertaining” (USA Today) Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, comes a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Equal parts homage to Jane Austen and bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.
 
This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.
 
Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.
 
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . 
 
And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.   (publisher)

My take: I don’t consider myself an Austen scholar – not even close! – but I love her books. Even if you’re not a fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice I would recommend Eligible based on my enjoyment from reading it. It’s highly readable – addictive, I’d say. I was very happy I’d tossed it in my bag when I went on vacation.

I loved thoroughly modern Lizzie and her endearing sister Jane. Her other siblings added to the plot, for sure. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett were similar in temperament to the parents in P&P. I loved the occupations held by Darcy and Bingley and how the modern predicaments of all characters moved the plot.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s retelling of P&P is fun yet addresses the same basic issues as the original. There are distinct differences but I was happy about them – most made me laugh in a good way. I won’t spoil with specifics but I’ll recommend Eligible to anyone looking for an entertaining novel.

A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Eunsun Kim with Sébastien Falletti

  • a thousand miles to freedomTitle:  A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape From North Korea
  • Author:  Eunsun Kim with Sébastien Falletti
  • Translated by:  David Tian
  • Pages:  228
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Published:  July 2015 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Eunsun Kim was born in North Korea, one of the most secretive and oppressive countries in the modern world. As a child Eunsun loved her country…despite her school field trips to public executions, daily self-criticism sessions, and the increasing gnaw of hunger as the country-wide famine escalated.

By the time she was eleven years old, Eunsun’s father and grandparents had died of starvation, and Eunsun too was in danger of starving. Finally, her mother decided to escape North Korea with Eunsun and her sister, not knowing that they were embarking on a journey that would take them nine long years to complete. Before finally reaching South Korea and freedom, Eunsun and her family would live homeless, fall into the hands of Chinese human traffickers, survive a North Korean labor camp, and cross the deserts of Mongolia on foot.

Now, in A Thousand Miles to Freedom, Eunsun is sharing her remarkable story to give voice to the tens of millions of North Koreans still suffering in silence. Told with grace and courage, her memoir is a riveting exposé of North Korea’s totalitarian regime and, ultimately, a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit. (publisher)

My take:  A Thousand Miles to Freedom is the memoir by Eunsun Kim. She is now 29 years old but was a young girl when she and her mother and sister first fled North Korea to find a better life. Their escape took much longer than expected.

The description from the publisher reveals quite a bit about the journey to South Korea. What impressed me most was Eunsun’s optimism in the face of frightening circumstances – for anyone, much less a young girl. The challenges she and her family faced were daunting but they were determined to get to South Korea. And once there they faced different challenges. I found her observations of life in South Korea interesting. It had to be very difficult to fit in with contemporaries who had no idea of the life you’d left behind.

Eunsun’s determination to get a good education was impressive. I have no doubt she will make her mark on the world. She’s started to make a difference with this memoir. It’s simply written and took just a few hours to read. Recommended to anyone who wants to read a first-hand account of a young person who escaped life in North Korea. I’m glad I had the chance to read it.

What We Find by Robyn Carr

  • What We Find (4:5:16)Title:  What We Find: A Novel
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Series:  Sullivan’s Crossing #1
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  April 5, 2016 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher via Goodreads First Reads

Description:  Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in a brand-new story of fresh starts, budding relationships and one woman’s journey to finding the happiness she’s long been missing. 

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. It’s in this desperate moment that Maggie’s boyfriend decides he can’t handle her emotional baggage, and she’s left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing. 

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan’s Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship. 

But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie’s world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she’s relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully’s responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation. 

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.  (publisher)

My take:  I was so happy to receive this from Goodreads First Reads giveaways. A great start to a new series by one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to read the next book.

I loved the fully formed main characters, the gorgeous Colorado setting, the enjoyable support characters, and the multi-layered plot. I won’t spoil it by going into the specifics.

I’ll just say if you’re a fan of Robyn Carr you’re going to want to put this at the top of your TBR list. If you enjoy contemporary romance but haven’t read Carr’s books, try this one. I loved it. Oh, I was glad I had tissues nearby while reading the end. An emotional novel that I’m glad I had a chance to read.

Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey plus a US Giveaway

  • Lies and Other Acts of Love (4:5:16)Title:  Lies and Other Acts of Love: A Novel
  • Author:  Kristy Woodson Harvey
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  April 5, 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn “Lovey” White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies. 
 
Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.
 
But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves . . .  (publisher)

My take:  Sometimes, when I start reading a book, I find a novel that gives me the feeling I’m going to hate leaving the characters behind when I turn the final page. Lies and Other Acts of Love is that kind of novel. I loved it. It’s my kind of book in that it’s about a family of mostly women – like the one I came from. I love reading about the dynamics of that kind of family because it’s always a good story. In this case, we get the story of the matriarch, Lovey, who is 87 years old. We also get her granddaughter Annabelle’s story. She’s just out of college and the world is her oyster.

Lovey is the kind of grandmother most women would love to have. She’s a strong woman who has weathered more than anyone would ever suspect. She took her own mother’s advice to heart and then imparted similar words of wisdom to Annabelle. Both women would discover that you find out how strong you really are by living life and sometimes you have to tell a few lies.

There were parts of the novel that felt like a fairytale. If it was a movie it would be filmed with a filter that would soften all the rough edges and yet tell the pertinent details. Other parts are in precise focus. There are lovely characters, some quirky ones and some you’d just as soon toss in the trash bin. They all made for a good story about life, love and family – one I won’t soon forget. I’m looking forward to what Kristy Woodson Harvey writes next.


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

Giveaway has ended

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


 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

Riverbend Road (6:21)  I Let You Go (5:3 Berkley)  pound for pound by Shannon Kopp

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review: Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller
  • Review:  Blue Stars by Emily Gray Tedrowe
  • Review:  Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Once a Rancher (3:29)   Blue Stars (Trade PB)   jane steele (putnam)

Reading plan for the week:

Crushed by Deborah Coonts   Discovering You by Brenda Novak (6:1)

I’m going away this week and thought these seemed perfect for the beach:) I have a couple of posts scheduled (one is a US giveaway).  See you next week!

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

  • jane steele (putnam)Title:  Jane Steele
  • Author:  Lyndsay Faye
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Mystery
  • Pages:  422
  • Published:  March 2016 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Reader, I murdered him.  So begins Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele.

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until she escapes to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement. Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess for the nine-year-old ward in his care.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents – the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose connection with Mr. Thornfield appears far more complicated and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him – body, soul, and secrets – without revealing her own murderous past?

Inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.  (book flap)

My take:  Well, Readers, I loved it! Jane Steele is way outside of my normal reading zone but I was intrigued when offered a copy for review so I accepted. I’m so glad I did because it was such a fun read. It’s filled with drama, adventure, class differences, love and mystery culminating in an exciting denouement that seemed only fitting for Jane’s story.

There are references, subtle and pointed, to Jane Eyre (Jane Steele’s favorite book) that will hopefully make fans of the Brontë novel smile. It has been decades since I read it but now I’m tempted to do a reread. Thank you, Lyndsay Faye!

I appreciated the author’s historical afterward which points the reader to other books that helped to inform Jane Steele’s plot lines. Recommended to fans of Victorian novels, historical mysteries, Jane Eyre, and a good adventure. I’d also recommend Jane Steele to book clubs who want to shake things up a bit:)

Note: In addition to reading this book I used an Audible credit so I could keep listening when I couldn’t sit and read. Narrator Susie Riddell’s performance is perfection. Highly recommended!


 

More Praise for JANE STEELE:

 

“Let’s be honest here.  When I was sent an advanced readers’ copy of Jane Steele, which was billed as an historical crime novel with a Jane-Eyre-style heroine who becomes a serial killer, I thought someone was pulling my leg.  I decided to read ten pages, just to annoy myself as I’m often inclined to do.  Also, to show what a good sport I am.  I was hooked by page five and read my way through at a merry clip.

I loved this book!  The language rings true, the period details are correct.  Jane Steele is a joy, both plucky and rueful in her assessment of her dark deeds.

The plotting is solid and the pacing sublime.  If this were a series, this would be the perfect introduction.  As a stand-alone, I give it an A+”

—Sue Grafton

 

“Lyndsay Faye pulls off the most elusive feat of historical fiction: to give us a book that reads as though it was unearthed from a perfectly preserved antique chest.

Sneakily charming and wildly well written, like Faye’s other novels Jane Steele demands attention.”

—Matthew Pearl, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer

 

Jane Steele is lethal good fun!  In Jane, Lyndsay Faye has created a heroine unwilling to suffer tyrants or fools.

The result is a darkly humorous, elegantly crafted story of an ‘accidental’ vigilante. A delicious read.”

—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

 

“From the gasp-inducing moment Jane Steele utters the words ‘reader, I murdered him,’ you know you are in for a rollicking romp of an adventure that recasts the Jane Eyre story in an entirely new light.

But mixed in with the verve and vivacity is a story of real heart, exemplary, near-forgotten history, and an utterly unforgettable heroine.

Brava to Lyndsay Faye for what’s already one of my favorite thrillers of the year.”

—Sarah Weinman, editor of Women Crime Writers:Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s

 

“Enchanting.  Jane Steele is beautifully rendered and utterly captivating, from the first cry of

‘reader, I murdered him’ to its final pages.  Lyndsay Faye is a masterful storyteller, and this is her finest tale yet.’

—Maria Konnikova, New York Times-bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

 

Blue Stars by Emily Gray Tedrowe

  • Blue Stars (Trade PB)Title:  Blue Stars
  • Author:  Emily Gray Tedrowe
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  March 2016 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Blue Stars is the story of two women, Ellen and Lacey, who never would have met if Ellen’s adopted son and Lacey’s husband hadn’t gone to war in Iraq in 2005. Two very different women and yet they find a bond when they become the primary advocates for their loved ones. They learn new perspective and discover strength they didn’t know they possessed.

Loosely based on the housing scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Tedrowe’s novel drew me in – something I wasn’t expecting to happen. Ellen, a university professor from Wisconsin, never dreamed she would have a child who enlisted. She was more inclined to protest wars, not write letters to a son serving in one. Lacey, who lives in the Bronx, is a tough nut. She has a young son, works when she can get hours, and her marriage has turned cold. It’s almost a relief when her husband deploys. A few months after deployment life changes for everyone.

Blue Stars wasn’t an easy novel to read and yet Tedrowe kept me turning the pages. I imagine anyone who has had a loved one go to war would relate to it on a few levels. I was invested in Ellen and Lacey’s story and was pleased with where it went and how the author chose to end it. I think it would be a good book club selection.

Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller

  • Once a Rancher (3:29)Title:  Once a Rancher
  • Author:  Linda Lael Miller
  • Series:  The Carsons of Mustang Creek, #1
  • Pages:  320
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  March 2016 – HQN
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Synopsis:  The Carsons of Mustang Creek: three men who embody the West and define what it means to be a rancher, a cowboy and a hero in this brand-new series from the queen of Western romance.

Slater Carson might be a businessman by trade, but he’s a cowboy at heart—and he knows the value of a hard day’s work under the hot Wyoming sun. So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down a dangerous path, he offers the boy a job on the ranch he shares with his two younger brothers. And since Ryder’s temporary guardian is the gorgeous new resort manager, Grace Emery, Slater figures it can’t hurt to keep a closer eye on her as well…

Grace Emery doesn’t have time for romance. Between settling in to her new job and caring for her ex-husband’s rebellious son, her attraction to larger-than-life Slater is a distraction she can’t afford. But when the past catches up to her in Mustang Creek, she’ll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most—and that love is always worth fighting for. (publisher)

My take:  Linda Lael Miller builds on her Bliss County series with her newest book Once a Rancher – book 1 of The Carsons of Mustang Creek series. It was fun to see characters from the four previous books as they made brief appearances. That said, you don’t have to have read the previous books to enjoy Once a Rancher.

The new series involves the Carson family of three brothers. This book is about Slater Carson, a documentary film producer and Grace Emery, manager of a high-end hotel and spa in the area.

Slater is between projects and is looking forward to a few days of R&R at the ranch. That plan  gets tossed when Grace and her step-son Ryder arrive at his door. Their story takes off from there. It’s what you’d expect from LLM and I enjoyed it all. I liked that there was a bit of a mystery to be solved that grew more and more sinister as the book progressed. I loved the setting – both the hotel and the ranch.

Of course, all’s well that ends well – and this book did. I look forward to the next book in the trilogy. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary and western romance.


Miller_Linda Lael_09-2The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than one hundred historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, the self-confessed barn goddess now lives in Spokane, Washington. Linda hit a career high in 2011 when all three of her Creed Cowboys books—A Creed in Stone Creek, Creed’s Honor and The Creed Legacy—debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Linda has come a long way since leaving Washington to experience the world. “But growing up in that time and place has served me well,” she allows. “And I’m happy to be back home.” Dedicated to helping others, Linda personally finances her “Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women,” which she awards to those seeking to improve their lot in life through education.

More information about Linda and her novels is available at http://www.lindalaelmiller.com. She also loves to hear from readers by mail at P.O. Box 19461, Spokane, WA 99219.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals: (linked to Mailbox Monday)

Change of Scene (4:5:16)  Looking Back by Joyce Maynard (kindle)  the-girl-from-home-9781476764283_hr  Family Tree by Susan Wigg (8:9:16 Wm Morrow)

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review:  Home on Apple Blossom Road by Sheila Roberts
  • Review:  Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
  • Giveaway (US/CA):  Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Home on Apple Blossom Rd. (3:22016)   summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)   sister dear

Reading plan for this week:

Blue Stars (Trade PB)  jane steele (putnam)

Giveaway (US/CA): Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

sister dear I’m excited to tell you about a giveaway of SISTER DEAR by Laura McNeill. You can check out Goodreads for more information about this novel. laura mcneill

Social Media for author Laura McNeill:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraMcNeillBks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauramcneillauthor/

laura mcneill sister dear giveaway

Click the link for a Rafflecopter giveaway of three copies of SISTER DEAR.

Good luck!

Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

  • summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)Title:  Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery
  • Author:  Jenny Colgan
  • Series:  Little Beach Street Bakery #2
  • Pages:  416
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.

But clouds are gathering on the horizon. A stranger threatens to ruin Polly’s business. Her beloved boyfriend seems to be leading a secret life. And the arrival of a newcomer—a bereft widow desperately searching for a fresh start—forces Polly to reconsider the choices she’s made, even as she tries to help her new friend through grief.

Unpredictable and unforgettable, this delightful novel will make you laugh, cry, and long for a lighthouse of your own. Recipes included.  (publisher)

My take:  Jenny Colgan takes readers back to Mount Polbearne. I loved seeing what was new in the lives of Polly, Huckle and all the rest. We meet a few new characters and yes, Neil the puffin is back.

Colgan’s novel lived up to my expectations. There’s love, loss, humor and drama in the lives of the residents of the tiny seaside village in Cornwall we first visited in Little Beach Street Bakery. It was great to visit and my hope is that we might someday meet up again.

Even though Colgan provides a brief catch-up of the first book I highly recommend reading it before this book because I enjoyed it so much. Fans of small town settings and characters will find a lot to love in these books.

Home on Apple Blossom Road by Sheila Roberts

  • Home on Apple Blossom Rd. (3:22016)Title:  Home on Apple Blossom Road
  • Series:  Life in Icicle Falls #9
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 22, 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  Home is where the love is… 

Colin Wright and Mia Blair grew up in Icicle Falls, but they left years ago—and not on good terms. Now Colin’s grandmother, Justine, has died, and they’ve come home to honor this woman they both loved. That’s when they get some unexpected news. They’re about to inherit something. Jointly. They just have no idea what. It turns out that Justine’s designed a treasure hunt for them, like the ones they enjoyed when they were kids and best friends. 

But they’re not kids anymore, and they sure aren’t best friends. As for that young love they once shared? Well…it’s complicated.  

On the trail of Justine’s treasure, they follow a series of clues that take them down memory lane—ending up at the orchard on Apple Blossom Road. What will they find there? And what did Justine know that they didn’t?  (publisher)

My take:  Home on Apple Blossom Road is a sweet story about two people finding their way back home. They didn’t intend to take this journey but Grandma Justine had a plan that they had to finally pay attention to. She’d tried to tell them when she was still alive but to no avail. Now they’d have to listen to her – via her treasure hunt – and just maybe her plan would work.

Sheila Roberts’ characters are never perfect so I find them relatable on a few different levels. I could understand Mia and Colin’s reluctance to try make things the way they used to be. Colin is involved with a beautiful young woman and Mia just received a promotion at work. This is not a good time to resurrect the past. Hmm, is it possible Justine misjudged these two?

I enjoyed this installment to the Life in Icicle Falls series. It’s filled with character cameos from previous books making it that much more fun to read. That said, don’t worry if you haven’t read other books in the series. You won’t be lost. I thought this novel was one of the best of the series. Recommended to fans of the author and small town contemporary romance.