Like It’s 1999

Like It’s 1999 by Karen Grey

Published:  December 2020 – Home Cooked Books

Audiobook courtesy of Karen Grey

Description:

Love ’em and Leave ’em Alice Kim and “Hot” Steve Lowell are perfect for each other. It’ll only take them ten years to figure that out.

 

Just because they throw the most bodacious wedding party ever…

Just because they’re perfect partners in pranks…

Just because they love all the same boss movies…

Just because they share one totally bangin’ night of sex together…

 

Does not mean they’ll break the One Time Rule.

Even if they do… they don’t do relationships.

And they’re never getting married.

Like, ever.

In this friends-to-lovers, marriage-pact novella spanning the last decade of the 20th century, life forces a playboy and a playgirl grow up—and grow apart—before giving them a chance to create a happy-ever-after they can actually be happy about.  (publisher)

My take:  Like It’s 1999 is a novella and part of Karen Grey’s Boston Classics series. Characters from the previous books are featured in the story. That said, if you haven’t had a chance to read those yet, this novella can stand alone.

I enjoyed the story of Steve and Alice. They meet when their friends get married and they are part of the wedding party. As can happen at these events Steve and Alice get together. But as soon as the celebration is over they go their separate ways. Before leaving they make a pact and leave their fate up to a date ten years hence. A lot of life happens in those ten years.

This novella was just what I needed. It’s light and funny but also hit on a couple of serious issues regarding marriage and parenthood. Novellas usually don’t have the luxury for a lot of background on characters but I felt Karen Grey gave readers a good sense of each character. I liked how Steve and Alice first connected through their love of movie quotes. I have that same connection with people in my life – so much fun.

I enjoyed the narration by Cindy Kay and Ryan West. Their voices fit the characters perfectly and added to the reading experience.


About the author:

KAREN GREY is the pen name for Karen White (assumed not to hide her identity, but because her actual name is already connected with a well-known fiction author). A theatre actor in Boston in the eighties and early nineties, she started working as an audiobook narrator in 1999 after moving to Los Angeles. Having returned her home state of North Carolina, she shares a home with her family and probably too many pets, where she continues to record audiobooks as well as make up stories. Learn more at homecookedbooks.com.

To get a free copy of SIGNED SEALED & DELIVERED, a prequel novellette in the Boston Classics series, join her newsletter at https://www.followkarengrey.com or join her Wicked Smahties FB group at http://bit.ly/WickedSmahtFBgroup


 

Links:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/Likeits1999ebook

Audible: http://bit.ly/Likeits1999

 

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/Likeits1999GR

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/Likeits1999BB


 

Sunday Post

My area is on the other side of a ten day cold snap. Temps were under 10°F and streets were snow packed and icy. No walks for me during that time – which was terrible! The guy who plows our driveway ran out of places to push the snow. Some photos from that time (the last is my favorite because it was the morning I could finally get out for a morning walk:

 

 

 

 

 

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

     

Last week on Bookfan:

   

Reading plan for this week:


 

The Minders

The Minders by John Marrs

Published:  February 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect… (publisher)

My take:  I have to confess I’m not much of a sci-fi reader but every once in a while I dip my toe into the genre. This is the third of John Marrs’ books I’ve read and I think I will always read his latest offering. They are entertaining, relatable (ok that might be a stretch) but they are believable enough to draw me along for the thrilling ride. So, all that said, I decided early on to just sit back and watch the story unfold. It’s one of those novels that a character list and brief description helped me keep things straight. Still, I had to pause occasionally to think about what was going on. Confusing? At times. Enjoyable? To the extent that I’m not a fan of violent acts in my reading, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book. It’s extremely violent in parts and quite tender in some. All in all, I enjoyed it but be warned that this will fool with your mind – what is real and what is created to seem real?


 

Spotlight: Those Who Are Saved

Those Who Are Saved by Alexis Landau

Published:  February 23, 2021 – Putnam

Content provided by the publicist

About:

In the summer of 1940, as the Nazis prepare to occupy France and force its foreign inhabitants into internment camps, wealthy Russian Jewish émigré Vera has just hours to make an impossible choice: does she subject her four-year-old daughter Lucie to the horrors of the camp, or does she send her into hiding with her trusted governess until safe to retrieve her? Believing the war will end soon, Vera chooses to leave Lucie in safety. She could not have known that she and her husband would have an opportunity to escape to America—or that Lucie and her governess will have fled to family in rural France, too far to reach in time. Five years later, with her marriage faltering and her writing stalled, Vera—safe under the surreal sun of California—is haunted by her love for Lucie and her faith that her daughter still lives. As her determination to return to France and find Lucie crystallizes, she meets Sasha, a man on his own search for meaning. Together, Vera and Sasha will journey to Lucy and find her fate. Undeniably powerful and gorgeously written, THOSE WHO ARE SAVED recounts a mother and daughter’s heartbreaking journey and separation, a war and a continent apart.


About the author:

Alexis Landau is a graduate of Vassar College and received an MFA from Emerson College and a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. She is the author of The Empire of the Senses and lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles.


Advance praise for THOSE WHO ARE SAVED:

“Powerful. . . Landau brilliantly explores the blurred lines between good and evil as the characters wrestle with their own dire decisions and the choices of those they love. Once this magnetic book takes hold, it doesn’t let go.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

 

“With muted power, this book plumbs the role privilege plays in fate.”

Kirkus Reviews

 

Those Who Are Saved is a stunning tale of indestructible love, of sacrifice and faith, and of one woman’s fierce determination to find her lost daughter in an unrecognizable, war-ravaged France. Imbued with vivid, lush imagery and written with enormous sensitivity and heart, this gem of a novel has everything that I love in historical fiction, and it is one of the best I’ve read this year.  I treasured every page.”

—Roxanne Veletzos, bestselling author of The Girl They Left Behind

 

Those Who Are Saved is a gorgeously written, emotional novel about the unshakable bonds of mothers and daughters, even in the darkest times. Spanning characters and continents during WWII, Alexis Landau’s vividly drawn book swept me up into the lives of Vera, Sasha, and Lucie. An unforgettable story of heartbreak, but ultimately of hope, resilience, and love – I could not put this book down!”

—Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author of In Another Time and Half Life

 

“A profound and engaging story—Landau writes of the endurance of parental love in the face of Nazi occupation and terror, of finding those who were lost. I loved it.”

—Paulette Jiles, author of National Book Award finalist News of the World

 

“With poetic, mesmerizing prose, Alexis Landau creates a heartrending story of the unbreakable bond of maternal love. Those Who Are Saved brings to life a moment in history when all that is familiar disappears and every choice is potentially tragic. This gripping and compassionate novel continues to haunt me.”

—Lauren Belfer, New York Times bestselling author of And After the Fire, recipient of the National Jewish Book Award

 

“Such subtle and skilful writing, so evocative of the Second World War and the period following. We are drawn deep into the story of a mother who, escaping to America, had no choice but to leave her daughter behind in the heart of Nazi-occupied France. Absolutely haunting.”

—Frances Liardet, New York Times bestselling author of We Must Be Brave

 

Those Who Are Saved is an achingly beautiful epoch about love’s endurance. I was hooked from the start by the chance meeting of Sasha and Vera who are driven by creative energies to remake their fractured worlds. This tense journey encompasses exile from Eastern to Western Europe, then across the ocean to the glittering promise of Hollywood, only to be haunted by whispers of what was left behind. Alexis Landau is an amazing storyteller and her novel will whisper to you long after you finish.”

—Devin Murphy, author of The Boat Runner


THOSE WHO ARE SAVED · By Alexis Landau · G. P. Putnam’s Sons

· On Sale: February 23, 2021 · ISBN: 9780593190531 

· Price: $27.00 ·

Also available in e-Book & audio


Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

         

Last week on Bookfan:

   

Reading plan for this week:


 

Paperback Release: The Minders

The Minders by John Marrs

Trade Paperback release:  February 16, 2021 – Berkley Books

Description:

In this electrifying near-future thriller, five strangers guard government secrets, but only four can be trusted.

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…


About the author:

John Marrs is the author of #1 Best Sellers The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Welcome to Wherever You Are, Her Last Move, The Passengers, The Minders and What Lies Between Us.
The One has been translated into 30 different languages and is to be turned into an eight-part Netflix series starting in autumn 2020.
After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer.
Follow him on Twitter @johnmarrs1 Facebook: @johnmarrsauthor Instagram: @johnmarrs.author website: johnmarrsauthor.co.uk


 

The Vineyard at Painted Moon

The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

Published:  February 2021 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher

Description:

MacKenzie Dienes’s life isn’t perfect, but it’s as close as she could ever hope to get. Her marriage to Rhys, her best friend’s brother, is more friendship than true love. But passion is highly overrated, right? And she loves her job as the winemaker at Bel Apres, her in-laws’ vineyard. So what if it’s a family business and, even after decades of marriage and incredible professional success, she’s still barred from the family business meetings? It’s all enough…until one last night spent together leads to an incredibly honest—and painful—conversation. Rhys suggests that they divorce. They haven’t had a marriage in a long time and, while he wants her to keep her job at Bel Apres, he doesn’t think they should be married any longer. Shocked, MacKenzie reels at the prospect of losing the only family she’s ever really known…even though she knows deep in her heart that Rhys is right.

But when MacKenzie discovers she’s pregnant, walking away to begin a new life isn’t so easy. She never could have anticipated the changes it would bring to the relationships she cherishes most: her relationship with Barbara, her mother-in-law and partner at Bel Apres, Stephanie, her sister-in-law and best friend, and Bel Apres, the company she’s worked so hard to put on the map.

MacKenzie has always dreamed of creating a vineyard of her own, a chance to leave a legacy for her unborn child. So when the opportunity arises, she jumps at it and builds the Vineyard at Painted Moon. But following her dreams will come at a high price—one that MacKenzie isn’t so sure she’s willing to pay…

My take:  The Vineyard at Painted Moon is the story of family run winery headed by a vindictive, narcissistic matriarch. When her son Rhys and daughter-in-law Mackenzie decide to divorce a series of events cause large-scale change within the Bel Apres winery. This book had me thinking back to the tv series Falcon Crest (80s nighttime soap). There’s an over-the-top mother/villainess, characters to cheer on, and a lovely epilogue. A good starting over story, emotional and soapy.  It would be a good beach read or one to take you out of the quarantine blues. Also included are recipes as well as wine info and pairings.


About the author:

#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives―family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.

Photo credit:  Annie Brady

Social Links:

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1335912797/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vamf_tkin_p1_i6 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon-susan-mallery/1136918902?ean=9781335912794 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon-9781335912794/9781335912794 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335912794 

Libro.fm: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488210488 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Vineyard-Painted-Moon/Susan-Mallery/Q840696538?id=7843731390040 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon-by-susan-mallery-hardcover/-/A-80128583 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Vineyard-at-Painted-Moon-Hardcover/508623296 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon/id1509949550 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Susan_Mallery_The_Vineyard_at_Painted_Moon?id=aL3eDwAAQBAJ 


 

The Nature of Fragile Things

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

Published:  February 2, 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin’s silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin’s odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn’t right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.

From the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War and As Bright as Heaven comes a gripping novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity. (publisher)

My take:  The Nature of Fragile Things is a captivating story about a young woman in New York City who answers an ad to become the wife of a man in California. Within a month she becomes his wife and step-mother to his five year old daughter. The year is 1906 and Sophie Whalen can’t believe her good fortune: a handsome and quiet man, a step-daughter she adores and a beautiful new home. She feels content and safe for the first time in a very long while.

But everyone has secrets. And those secrets soon become known. Add in the horrendous San Francisco earthquake and you’ve got the makings of a compelling novel that is quite the page turner! Once again, Susan Meissner has written a novel I didn’t want to end. Recommended to fans of Historical Fiction, stories about family and friendship, and Susan Meissner.


 

Spotlight: The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck

Published:  February 9, 2021 – Berkley Trade Paperbacks

Content courtesy of the publisher 

Description:

Based on the remarkable true story of an American woman who defied the odds to become the most dangerous Allied spy in France during World War II, comes a gripping historical novel about strength, humanity, and bravery from the bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl.

March 1944. Virginia Hall wasn’t like the other young society women back home in Baltimore–she never wanted the debutante ball or silk gloves. Instead, she traded a safe life for adventure in Europe, and when her beloved second home is thrust into the dark days of war, she leaps in headfirst.

Once she’s recruited as an Allied spy, subverting the Nazis becomes her calling. But even the most cunning agent can be bested, and in wartime trusting the wrong person can prove fatal. Virginia is haunted every day by the betrayal that ravaged her first operation, and will do everything in her power to avenge the brave people she lost.

While her future is anything but certain, this time more than ever Virginia knows that failure is not an option. Especially when she discovers what–and whom–she’s truly protecting.


About the author:

Erika Robuck is the national bestselling author of Receive Me Falling, Hemingway’s GirlCall Me ZeldaFallen Beauty, and The House of Hawthorne. She is a contributor to the anthology Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion and to the Writer’s Digest essay collection Author in Progress. Robuck lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and three sons.


Praise for The Invisible Woman:

“An extraordinary profile of the immense courage and daring of Virginia Hall and an intimate look at the cost of war, The Invisible Woman is a must-read. “–Chanel CleetonNew York Times bestselling author

“[A] captivating, page-turning read. . . . The Invisible Woman shines a light on this courageous historical woman, whose pioneering work as an agent deserves recognition.”–Marie BenedictNew York Timesbestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room

“Erika Robuck shows us exactly how biographical fiction should be written: with respect for the historical record, a deep understanding of the subject, and the empathy to allow the character at the heart of the novel to shine through. . . . If you only read one World War II book this year, make it this one.”–Natasha Lester,New York Times bestselling author ofThe Paris Orphan

“Virginia Hall . . . is the stuff of inspiration and legend . . . [with] feats of human goodness and bravery amid some of modern history’s darkest moments. . . . Breathtakingly beautiful.”–Allison PatakiNew York Timesbestselling author of The Queen’s Fortune


 

The Love Proof

The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry

Published:  February 9, 2021 – Atria Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. But when she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Quickly, they become a couple. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school.

When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together in all realities. (publisher)

My take:  The Love Proof is the story of Sophie and Jake. They meet during their first days at Yale and spend almost every day together until life takes them in different directions. They are gifted in different ways and have an amazing personal connection – all leading to an unanticipated future. We learn their story via flashbacks and the present (future). A bit angsty at times but it seemed to fit. Author Madeleine Henry had me feeling the emotions. If you like novels about the nature of love, unique personalities, with a dose of physics and philosophy be sure to give this one a try. 


About the author:

Madeleine Henry is the author of The Love Proof and Breathe In, Cash Out. She has appeared on NBC, WABC, The Jenny McCarthy Show, and Inspire Living. She has been featured in the New York Post, Parade, and Observer Media. Previously, she worked at Goldman Sachs and in investment management after graduating from Yale in 2014. She lives in New York City.

Instagram: @madeleineshenry and @madeleinehenryyoga

Twitter: @madeleineshenry


Early Praise for The Love Proof:

The Love Proof is a fascinating story about how love opens us up to the remarkable possibilities of the universe. Smart, sexy, and scientific.” —Jill Santopolo, New York Times bestselling author of The Light We Lost

 

“This brilliant novel attempts to answer the age-old question: What happens when all-consuming, passionate love comes to an end? Henry crafts a connection so real between Jake and Sophie, it left me breathless. A must-read.” —Colleen Oakley, USA Todaybestselling author of You Were There Too

 

“I could not put this book down. Madeleine Henry has masterfully crafted a touching and timeless tale about the enduring power of first love. Just like the magic between Sophie and Jake, The Love Proof will captivate you from the start and leave you hoping it never has to end.” —Amy Blumenfeld, author of The Cast


 

The Paris Library

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

Published:  February 9, 2021 – Atria Books

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal. 

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them. (publisher)

My take:  It seems I read a few novels set in the WWII era each year. The Paris Library is quite unique in perspective.

Before reading this book I was not aware of the American Library in Paris. That is the setting for much of the novel and allowed for several interesting characters. It is Odile’s dream as well as her first job. When she is hired she can’t imagine anything better. Her co-workers become like family and she finds herself involved in their lives and situations. She also helps to get books to soldiers and people unable to leave the city – a godsend to so many people in unspeakable circumstances.

There’s another storyline featuring Lily, a young girl in Montana in the 1980s. Lily is Odile’s neighbor and we observe her years after losing her mother to cancer and getting to know Odile. I found their relationship lovely and endearing.

If you’re looking for a different kind of WWII novel I think you’ll find it in The Paris Library. I’m glad I had the chance to read it!


Janet Skeslien Charles is the award-winning author of Moonlight in Odessa, which was published in 10 languages. Her shorter work has appeared in revues such as Slice and Montana Noir. Janet first became interested in the incredible true story of the librarians who stood up to the Nazi “Book Protector” when she worked as the programs manager at the American Library in Paris. Her novel The Paris Library will be published in 18 countries. She divides her time between Montana and Paris.


Praise for The Paris Library:

As a Parisian, an ardent bookworm, and a longtime fan of the American Library in Paris, I devoured The Paris Library in one hungry gulp. It is charming and moving, with a perfect balance between history and fiction.” —Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key

 

“A fresh take on WWII France that will appeal to bibliophiles everywhere. I fell in love with Odile and Lily, with their struggles and triumphs, from the very first page. Meticulously researched, The Paris Library is an irresistible, compelling read.” —Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls

 

“The Paris Library is a refreshing novel that celebrates libraries as cradles of community, especially when we need them the most. It shows how literature can be a means of escape, a catalyst for human connection, and a moral center in grim times. A thoroughly enjoyable read, kind-hearted and brimming with delightful bookish allusions.” – Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore


Sunday Post

Yesterday I realized that my blog anniversary was Feb. 4th – marking 13 years of Bookfan. I want to thank everyone who continue to read and comment on my posts!  

 

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

   

Last week on Bookfan:

Reading plan for this week:


 

The Princess Spy

The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones

By Larry Loftis

Pub. Date:  February 9, 2021 – Atria Books

Review book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

When Aline Griffith was born in a quiet suburban New York hamlet, no one had any idea that she would go on to live “a life of glamour and danger that Ingrid Bergman only played at in Notorious” (Time). As the US enters the Second World War, the young college graduate is desperate to aid in the war effort, but no one is interested in a bright-eyed young woman whose only career experience is modeling clothes.

Aline’s life changes when, at a dinner party, she meets a man named Frank Ryan and reveals how desperately she wants to do her part for her country. Within a few weeks, he helps her join the Office of Strategic Services—forerunner of the CIA. With a code name and expert training under her belt, she is sent to Spain to be a coder, but is soon given the additional assignment of infiltrating the upper echelons of society, mingling with high-ranking officials, diplomats, and titled Europeans, any of whom could be an enemy agent. Against this glamorous backdrop of galas and dinner parties, she recruits sub-agents and engages in deep-cover espionage to counter Nazi tactics in Madrid.

Even after marrying the Count of Romanones, one of the wealthiest men in Spain, Aline secretly continues her covert activities, being given special assignments when abroad that would benefit from her impeccable pedigree and social connections.

Filled with twists, romance, and plenty of white-knuckled adventures fit for a James Bond film, The Princess Spy brings to vivid life the dazzling adventures of a remarkable American woman who risked everything to serve her country. (publisher)

My take:  Aline Griffith was a recent college graduate, loving daughter and sister who wanted to help her country in WWII. She wasn’t sure how she could help until she met a handsome man at a dinner party and the rest, as they say, is history. She eventually ended up in Spain where she worked for the OSS (precursor of the CIA) and became immersed in Spanish culture and society.

Author Larry Loftis combined bullfights, bullfighters, elegant parties, royalty and espionage for an engaging real life story that I had a hard time putting down. What a life Aline Griffith lived! The book is replete with photos, footnotes, author notes and bibliography. I appreciated the epilogue that revealed how life played out for the principal characters.


About the author:

LARRY LOFTIS is the USA TODAY and bestselling author of the nonfiction spy thrillers Code Name: Lise—The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy and Into the Lion’s Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov—World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond, which have been published around the world in multiple languages. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Mr. Loftis was a corporate attorney and adjunct professor of law. He can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and at LarryLoftis.com.


“A brisk narrative filled with glamour, glitz, and mysterious characters . . .  Sumptuous . . . A lively history of a spirited woman.”

Kirkus Reviews

THE PRINCESS SPY by Larry Loftis

Atria Books | Hardcover | On-sale: February 9, 2021 | 384 pages | ISBN: 9781982143862, $28.00 | ebook ISBN: 9781982143886, $14.99

https://www.larryloftis.com/ Twitter: @LarryLoftis


 

The Path to Sunshine Cove

The Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected publication:  March 30, 2021 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

With a past like hers, Jessica Clayton feels safer in a life spent on the road. She’s made a career out of helping others downsize—because she’s learned the hard way that the less “stuff,” the better, a policy she applies equally to her relationships. But a new client is taking Jess back to Cape Sanctuary, a town she once called home…and that her little sister, Rachel, still does. The years apart haven’t made a dent in the guilt Jess still carries after a handgun took the lives of both their parents and changed everything between them.

While Jess couldn’t wait to put the miles between her and Cape Sanctuary, Rachel put down roots, content for the world—and her sister—to think she has a picture-perfect life. But with the demands of her youngest child’s disability, Rachel’s marriage has begun to fray at the seams. She needs her sister now more than ever, yet she’s learned from painful experience that Jessica doesn’t do family, and she shouldn’t count on her now.

Against her judgment, Jess finds herself becoming attached—to her sister and her family, even to her client’s interfering son, Nate—and it’s time to put everything on the line. Does she continue running from her painful past, or stay put and make room for the love and joy that come along with it? (publisher)

My take:  RaeAnne Thayne’s latest novel is a stand alone story about two sisters overcoming a horrific event that set their lives on different trajectories. When they end up in the same town Jess and Rachel are dealing with life on their own terms. Rachel is a social media influencer whose life isn’t quite as perfect as her Instagram posts would lead people to believe. Jess arrived in town to help a client declutter her large home. She didn’t expect the client’s son to make her question everything she’d done for years to protect her feelings. The Path to Sunshine Cove is a touching story of learning to rethink what’s important in life. I think fans of RaeAnne Thayne and stories about sisters will enjoy it as much as I did.


 

Keeping Track: 2020 Reading Chart

While on a walk recently I was thinking about my reading choices in 2020. I decided to compile the titles into a spreadsheet divided by genres. This is what I came up with:

The total number of books read in 2020 is 173. What surprised me the most is the Mystery/Thriller percentage, second only to Women’s Fiction. I didn’t realize I’d read so many mysteries! Also surprising, Historical Fiction came in at only 8%. I love the genre and would have estimated a higher percentage. I’ll probably do another spreadsheet and pie chart for 2021 and compare to this chart.

What about you? Do you keep track of your reading?


 

Aftershock

Aftershock by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Published:  January 19, 2021 – Hanover Square Press

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When an earthquake strikes San Francisco, forensics expert Jessie Teska faces her biggest threat yet in this explosive new mystery from the New York Times bestselling authors of Working Stiff and First Cut.

At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body is located on a construction site under what looks like a collapse beam. But when Dr. Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the tell-tale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice, and prevent him from potentially striking again.

But when a major earthquake strikes San Francisco right at Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive.

With their trademark blend of propulsive prose, deft plotting and mordant humor, this electrifying new installment in the Jessie Teska Mystery series offers the highest stakes yet.  (publisher)

My take:  This is the second book in the Dr. Jessie Teska Mysteries. I didn’t read the first but felt the authors did a good job catching me up with pertinent details. A San Francisco medical examiner, Dr. Jessie has her hands full when crime details on her newest case don’t match up with the evidence. An earthquake throws a wrench into things and then her latest romantic interest seems to be losing interest in her! I liked this novel but didn’t love it. For me, it suffered from pacing and perhaps too many plot directions. Too much for me but I’m not a hardcore procedural reader. Would I give the next book in the series a try? Sure. I enjoyed the offbeat character we have in Dr. Jessie. She has an interesting background and I like her unwillingness to suffer fools. I want to see where it all takes her.


About the authors:

Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell are the New York Times bestselling co-authors of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, and the novel First Cut. Dr. Melinek studied at Harvard and UCLA, was a medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. T.J. Mitchell, her husband, is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad to their children.

Social links:

TWITTER:

FB: @DrWorkingStiff

Insta:

Goodreads


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