Days Like These by Sue Margolis

  • days-like-theseTitle:  Days Like These
  • Author:  Sue Margolis
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  December 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Recently widowed, Judy Schofield jumps at the chance to look after her two grandchildren for six weeks, while their parents are out of the country. After all, she’s already raised one set of children—and quite successfully, if she may say so herself. But all it takes is a few days of private school functions, helicopter parents, video games, and never-ending Frozen sing-a-longs for Judy to feel she’s in over her head.
 
As weeks become months, Judy feels more and more like an outsider among all the young mothers with their parenting theories du jour, especially when she gets on the wrong side of the school’s snooty alpha mom. But finding a friend in another grandmother—and a man who takes her mind off all the stress—almost make it worthwhile. She just needs to take it one food allergy, one incomprehensible homework assignment, and one major meltdown at a time…  (publisher)

My take:  When Judy’s daughter and son-in-law, both MDs, volunteer their services to a country recently hit by an earthquake they ask Judy to care for their two young (school age) children for six weeks. Of course she agrees hoping that, along with helping her family, it might help her start to climb out of the grief she’s experienced since the death of her husband a year earlier.

Judy jumps into the children’s schedules and is soon overwhelmed with all of their activities. When the kids start to exhibit negative behaviors she realizes she needs to make some decisions. When the six weeks turns into a lengthier stint for the doctors Judy finds the challenges of grand-parenting increase as well.

I appreciated Judy’s predicament of being in the sandwich generation. Her mother added comic relief to the story as well as charm and warmth. Even though themes of bullying, grief, second chances at love, and parenting in the 21st century are addressed I found Days Like These to be a rather light and amusing novel. I liked it and would definitely read more from Sue Margolis.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

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Last week on Bookfan:

the holiday gift (11:29)   victoria

Reading plan for this week:

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I’m hoping I’ll get to start this novel but life got a different kind of busy last week when my husband went to the doctor for a pre-op exam before back surgery and ended up in the hospital having triple bypass surgery for his heart. He’s still in the hospital but I’m hoping will be home in a couple of days. Prayers and good thoughts for him are appreciated.

 

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

  • victoriaTitle:  Victoria
  • Author:  Daisy Goodwin
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  November 2016 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.  (publisher)

My take:  Victoria was eighteen years old when she became Queen. She’d lived a very sheltered life up to that point and had to make many changes in short order. Starting with a crash course in a Queen’s duties, political relationships, and learning who could be trusted when it came to the people closest to her, she proved herself up to the task.

One of the most important people in Victoria’s life was her prime minister, Lord Melbourne. She grew to trust him which led her to feel an emotional bond that troubled some people. He was, after all, old enough to be her father. Despite that, it was difficult not to like Lord M. Another important person was Victoria’s cousin Albert. I loved how Goodwin developed his character. It was more complex than I expected and my feelings changed as I learned more about him.

Of course, if you’ve previously read about Victoria you know what happens. I enjoyed Goodwin’s version and recommend it to fans of historical fiction. I look forward to watching the television production in January (US).

The Holiday Gift by RaeAnne Thayne

  • holiday-giftTitle:  The Holiday Gift
  • Series:  The Cowboys of Cold Creek
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Pages:  224
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  November 2016 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  With two kids and an active life, widow Faith Dustin only wants peace and quiet for Christmas. But her snowy Pine Gulch ranch is nothing but chaotic. All that keeps Faith going is her helpful neighbor, cowboy Chase Brannon. He’s always been “good ol’ Chase,” her faithful friend. Until he kisses her under the mistletoe… 

Years ago Chase blew his chance with the woman he’s loved since childhood. Now he’s determined to step out of the friend zone…and into the role of husband. But the scared and stubborn Faith won’t let herself fall. With Christmas just days away, Chase will need all the magic of the season—and the help of her two matchmaking children—to unwrap a second chance at love.  (publisher)

My take: The Holiday Gift is the third of the Nichols sisters’ books within the Cowboys of Cold Creek series. It can stand alone but I think you’d enjoy it a bit more if you read the previous two books ( The Christmas Ranch and A Cold Creek Christmas Story).

I love a good Christmas romance and this one didn’t disappoint – even despite Faith’s frustrating denial of her true feelings for Chase. But I trusted RaeAnne Thayne to bring her characters to a HEA and she didn’t let me down. The Idaho mountain ranch setting as described by Thayne is wonderfully inviting. It was fun to read about all the happenings at The Christmas Ranch and with Faith’s sisters.

The Holiday Gift is a lovely story and a satisfying completion to the Nichols sisters’ trilogy. Recommended to fans of the author, novels about families, and a nice Christmas romance.

Unraveling the Pieces by Terri DuLong

  • unraveling-the-piecesTitle:  Unraveling the Pieces
  • Series:  Ormond Beach #3
  • Author:  Terri DuLong
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  November 2016 – Lyrical Press
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Petra Garfield has no real attachments tying her down to one place. She’s ready for an adventure, so what could be better than an extended stay at Koi House with new friends and old in enchanting Ormond Beach. Having recently lost her mother, Petra is riddled with questions about the father she never knew. She certainly never thought she’d begin to find the answers in a tiny town in Florida…
 
As much as she wants to search for the truth, Petra knows she can’t spend all her time wallowing in the past, and her friends at the Dreamweaver yarn shop aren’t about to let her. The ladies encourage her to volunteer at a local animal shelter, where she hits it off with a young boy—and his handsome father. Tangled in secrets she didn’t even know she had, Petra must learn to stitch her life back together even as she unravels lifelong mysteries—and perhaps she’ll find unexpected happiness along the way…  (publisher)

My take:  Unraveling the Pieces is the third book in Terri DuLong’s Ormond Beach series. It was fun to see familiar characters from the previous books. I recommend reading them in order.

Petra was in a previous book but as a friend to another woman – more of a support character. Now it’s her time to shine. Petra moves to Ormond Beach where she fits in perfectly with the friends she’d already made when visiting her friend the year before. She works from home so she can usually set her own hours which leaves her time to volunteer, knit, and enjoy her new friends. She also is searching for information about the father she never knew. The search will take her back to the places and people her mother knew when Petra was born.

I enjoyed this novel. There are two narratives: Petra’s and her mother’s. I liked the theme that sometimes you have to unravel the pieces of your past in order to move forward. There were some scenes in the book that were truly emotional. I don’t tear up very often while reading but I did during one particular scene when Petra starts to get answers to her questions.

Knitting is always happening in this series (as well as DuLong’s Cedar Key series). There is a pattern included that was part of the novel. I recommend Unraveling the Pieces to fans of Terri DuLong, Women’s Fiction, and knitting. I can’t wait to read the next novel in the series.


About the author: Born and raised north of Boston, Terri DuLong was previously a resident of Cedar Key, Florida. She now resides on the east coast of the state in Ormond Beach with her husband, three dogs, and two cats. A retired registered nurse, she began her writing career as a contributing writer for Bonjour Paris, where she shared her travel experiences to France in more than forty articles with a fictional canine narrator. Terri’s love of knitting provides quiet time to develop her characters and plots as she works on her new Ormond Beach novels.

You can find out more by visiting her website or Facebook fan page.

Blog Tour Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Dare and the Doctor by Kate Noble

the dare and the doctor (11:22:16)

 

THE DARE AND THE DOCTOR

  • Kate Noble
  • Pocket Books
  • Pub date: November 22, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781476749402
  • Price: $7.99
  • Mass Market Paperbound
  • A Winner Takes All Novel (#3)

 

Description:  National bestselling author Kate Noble’s THE DARE AND THE DOCTOR lures readers back to the dazzling, irresistible Winner Takes All Regency Romance series. Margaret Babcock has always been content with her quiet life in the country. But every now and then, she feels the urge to spread her wings. Her late mother used to whisper, “What’s the worst that could happen?” at the start of an adventure, and now Margaret’s continuing the tradition. So when Dr. Rhys Gray, her longtime correspondent on matters botanical, invites her to speak to the London Horticultural Society about her new rose hybrid, she accepts. She’s excited about her first visit to London, but even more so about getting to see her friend Dr. Gray. When she arrives, Rhys is eager to show her the wonders of the city, and the two spend many happy hours together just as friends, of course! But would friends miss each other quite as fiercely when they’re apart; or feel such a spark when they’re together? Margaret finds that friendship with Rhys is much more complicated than she’d imagined…especially when it turns out her friend has forgotten that he may be promised to another woman.


About the author:

katenobleKate Noble is the national bestselling author of The Lie and the Lady, The Game and the Governess, third in the witty, sexy Winner Takes All Regency Series, and the critically acclaimed, RITA Award-nominated Blue Raven series. Under the name Kate Rorick, she writes for television, as well as novels based on the Emmy Award-winning web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, for which she is also a writer and producer. She lives in Los Angeles. Visit Kate at katenoble.comFacebook, and Twitter.


Praise for the Winner Takes All series:

booklist_starreview_badge“With her usual witty writing and exquisite flair for characterization, Noble offers [The Lie and the Lady]. The effortless manner in which she wrote The Lie and the Lady as a separate love story while at the same time gracefully connecting it to The Game and the Governess and cleverly hinting at what is to come in the series is nothing less than brilliant.”

Booklist (STARRED REVIEW, The Lie and the Lady)

 

“After a scandalous escapade with John, a commoner she thought was the Earl of Ashby. Letitia returns to England as the fiancée of a somewhat older, titled widower- only to find out that her new home is right in John’s backyard . . . heartwarming.”

Publishers Weekly (The Lie and the Lady)

 

“The Earl of Ashby trades places with his friend and secretary in order to prove he can win a woman without the benefit of his title in The Game and the Governess…It’s a delicious treat to watch Ned grow from earl to man, and see the stalwart Phoebe get everything she deserves.”

Bookpage (TOP PICK IN ROMANCE, The Game and the Governess)

 

“The subtle development of romance between the devil-may-care earl and the proper governess is the impetus behind this winning novel, complete with rich characters and a multi-dimensional plotline.”

—Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW, Best Summer Romance pick, The Game and the Governess)


WINNER TAKES ALL GIVEAWAY (US)

the game and the governess (giveaway)  cover-final  the dare and the doctor (11:22:16)

To celebrate the third in the Winner Takes All series, The Dare and the Doctor, we are hosting a giveaway and the WINNER will TAKE ALL books in the series: The Game and the GovernessThe Lie and the Lady and The Dare and the Doctor! Please note, you can enter at all participating blogs listed below but you can only win once. U.S. only.

 Click here and fill out the form.

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED


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A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe

  • a-lowcountry-christmas-tandem-litTitle:  A Lowcountry Christmas
  • Series:  Lowcountry Summer #5
  • Author:  Mary Alice Monroe
  • Genre:  Fiction; Christmas
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  October 2016 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family tensions darken the holidays.

Heartbreak and financial stress threaten to destroy the spirit of the season until the miraculous gift of a service dog leads Taylor, his family, and their community on a healing journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas.  (publisher)

My take:  A Lowcountry Christmas is the first of Mary Alice Monroe’s books I’ve read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone looking for a special Christmas book to read this year. It’s the fifth book in a series but I can say, not having read the previous books, it can stand alone.

The McClellan family has welcomed home their son, a veteran with PTSD, and are all getting used to a new normal. On top of that, finances are strained which adds tension to the relationships between parents and children, spouses, and siblings. I loved how Monroe took her characters through their challenges and brought them to a satisfying result: mainly the true meaning of Christmas and what matters most.

A Lowcountry Christmas is truly lovely and I can see it becoming an annual read for me. I can think of a few people on my gift list who will love it. Highly recommended!


About the author:

Known for her intimate portrayals of women’s lives, Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Summer Girls, The Summer Wind, The Summer’s  End, Last Light Over Carolina, Time is a River, Sweetgrass, Skyward, The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, The Four Seasons, and The Book Club. Her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction.

An active conservationist, Monroe draws themes for her novels from nature and the parallels with human nature, thus drawing attention to various endangered species and the human connection to the natural world. Mary Alice is involved with several environmental groups and is on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. She lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.

The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

  • the-whole-towns-talking-1129Title:  The Whole Town’s Talking: A Novel
  • Author:  Fannie Flagg
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Publish date:  November 29, 2016 – Random House
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  The Whole Town’s Talking is the story of a town: Elmwood Springs, Missouri. Fannie Flagg introduces the reader to the town founder Lordor Nordstrom who came from Sweden in 1889 and found the perfect spot for the dairy farm he’d dreamed of having. Word spread and other immigrants followed. The town of Elmwood Springs grew from these early families.

Anyone who’s grown up in a small town will recognize the people of Elmwood Springs – they are everyman and woman. Flagg’s characters live ordinary lives and rise to unexpected occasions when needed. The Whole Town’s Talking (also the name of the weekly society column in the local newspaper) is a lovely, folksy tale that I enjoyed. The chapters are short making it an easy reading experience. I read it over the course of ten days which was unusually long for me but I’m glad it did because it never failed to make me smile and I want to enjoy a book like that for as long as possible!

In her wonderfully humorous and warm style Fannie Flagg explains the mysteries of life and death –  at least, how she sees them🙂  Recommended to fans of the author and stories about small town life.

The 24 Days of Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

  • the-24-days-of-christmasTitle:  The 24 Days of Christmas
  • Author:  Linda Lael Miller
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  November 2016 – Lyrical Shine
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  A matchbox advent calendar first brought Frank Rayner and Addie Hutton together. But that was years ago. Since then Addie has written herself out of her father’s will, gotten herself blacklisted as a reporter, and had her husband leave her for a younger woman. The only good decision she seems to have made is to move back home, even if Frank now owns that home and is renting the apartment over the garage to her. Not that she thinks there’s anything there. There’s no reason to get wrapped up in the holiday cheer. Because Christmas miracles are for the movies. Real life is about unexpected families—and the magic of true love—and could there be a happy ending after all?  (publisher)

My take:  This sweet story is a re-release of a novella previously included in  No Place Like Home and Jingle All The WayI hadn’t read either anthology so it was new to me.

The 24 days of Christmas was a quick read. It’s a second chance story about not giving up on your dreams – even dreams you didn’t know you had.

I think a novella is perfect for reading during the busy holiday season when you want to escape for a few minutes and don’t want to read anything heavy.  I’m a fan of Linda Lael Miller and got exactly what I expected from this story – a nice, romantic holiday tale that was light on drama and just the perfect amount of sweetness.

Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason

  • Mistletoe Cottage (11:3 review)Title:  Mistletoe Cottage
  • Series:  Harmony Harbor #1
  • Author:  Debbie Mason
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  October 2016 – Forever
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Sophie DiRossi loved growing up in Harmony Harbor. But after fleeing in disgrace many years ago, it is the last place she wants to be. Left homeless by a fire, she’s forced to go back to the small coastal town that harbors a million secrets, including her own. Sophie sees this secret reflected every day in her daughter’s blue eyes-and she must keep it hidden from the only man she has ever loved.

Sophie’s return is a shock for everyone . . . especially Liam Gallagher. The firefighter had some serious feelings for Sophie-and seeing her again sparks a desire so fierce it takes his breath away. Now Liam will do whatever it takes to show Sophie that they deserve a second chance at love, even if everything they’ve concealed threatens to keep them apart. In this special town at this special time of the year, Sophie and Liam can only hope for a little holiday magic . . .  (publisher)

My take:  When Sophie returns home to Harmony Harbor she brings her daughter Mia with her. No one knew about Mia until now so everyone has something to say – it’s a small town. Sophie worries what will happen if Mia’s father and his powerful family find out they’re related to her. Will Sophie lose her?

Fortunately for Sophie her luck starts to change when she is hired to manage Greystone Manor, the local inn which is not doing well. She and Mia can live there rent free as she begins her dream job. On day one she meets her former crush Liam Gallagher. His family owns the Greystone but he works as a firefighter. The Inn also employs some interesting characters and there may be a spirit or two hanging around. Really, this novel has a lot going on!

The book title comes from the raffle of a cottage (Mistletoe Cottage) on the Inn’s grounds. It’s decorated for Christmas and will hopefully raise enough money to keep the Inn afloat. The Gallagher matriarch Colleen has died and many of her heirs want to sell the place to a developer so Sophie really needs the raffle to be a huge success.

Mistletoe Cottage is the first in Debbie Mason’s new Harmony Harbor series.  We meet many characters who I’m sure will appear prominently in future books. I enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of the author and contemporary, small town romance – this one with a Christmas theme.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

  • and-every-morningTitle:  And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
  • Author:  Fredrik Backman
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  96
  • Published:  November 2016 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  This is a novella about a boy and his Grandpa. Noah and Grandpa have a wonderful relationship – one that Grandpa considers his second chance since he wasn’t always around for his son, Noah’s dad. Grandpa and Noahnoah (that’s what Grandpa calls him) “get” each other. They like the same things. When Grandpa starts forgetting things Noah reassures him even though he’s not quite sure what’s going on.

Fredrik Backman’s characters get to me every time. This time it’s a tale about life through the eyes of an old man and a little boy. Maybe it’s because of where I am in my own life that I could relate. Backman had me smiling on one page and tearing up on the next.

I liked the simple illustrations that were sprinkled through the novella. It took only an hour or so to read and I was left smiling as I turned the last page. It was lovely. Recommended.

 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

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Last week on Bookfan:

SnowfallOnHavenPoint_BookCover   Fall of Poppies (LTER win)

Reading plan for this week:

Very little reading time last week so I’m still reading:

the-whole-towns-talking-1129

Fall of Poppies

  • Fall of Poppies (LTER win)Title:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War
  • Authors:   Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, Marci Jefferson
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; Library Thing Early Reviewers

Description:  On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month . . .

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors, the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving, unforgettable collection, nine top historical fiction authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.  (Goodreads)

My brief take:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War is an anthology of stories about World War I. They revolve around Armistice Day (Nov. 11, 1918) – “where were you then?” and “what happened before and after?”.

I liked all of the stories but one stood out from all the rest: All For the Love of You by Jennifer Robson. It’s about a young American woman in Paris who meets an injured American soldier at her place of work and forms a unique friendship. Circumstances out of their control determine what happens next… until one day when they meet again. I loved the story and will definitely look for more from author Jennifer Robson.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction/romance anthologies – especially with a Great War theme.