The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

  • Title:  The Shadow Sister
  • Series:  The Seven Sisters #3
  • Author:  Lucinda Riley
  • Pages:  512
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  April 2017 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Star D’Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father—the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District—just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter—when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life…  (publisher)

My take:  The Shadow Sister is the first book in the Seven Sisters series I’ve read and I had no moments of feeling lost due to not having read the first two books.

I enjoyed reading about Star’s path to finding where she came from and where she might go in the future. Lucinda Riley’s novel is a dual-storyline taking place in the early 20th century in England and 2007 England. Characters including King Edward, Beatrix Potter and many lesser-known (fictional?) yet no less interesting people filled in the spaces of Star’s background. I loved the historical storyline. I also liked the more modern story of Star meeting possible relatives and new friends. Everyone had a place in her story or in helping her figure it out.

I’m sure I’ll go back and read the first two novels at some point and will definitely look forward to reading Star’s sister CeCe’s story. Recommended to fans of historical fiction. The series has been optioned for a television series.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including The Seven Sisters and The Storm Sister. Her books have sold more than eight million copies in thirty four languages. Lucinda lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and West Cork, Ireland.


Praise for THE SHADOW SISTER:

“Riley’s engaging and mesmerizing story of self-discovery and love, while making the complex tale of the Seven Sisters sufficiently clear, can be perfectly read as a stand-alone… This book will appeal to readers of Edwardian novels and Jane Austen-style fiction. Fans of the series will undoubtedly be pleased with this latest installment in the ‘Seven Sisters’ saga.” Library Journal (Starred Reviw)

“The frame story structure serves this installment well—the past and present narratives are equally engaging… Another pleasant jaunt down a genealogical rabbit hole.” Kirkus Reviews

 “I’ve loved the Seven Sisters series from the start and this is my favourite so far. Riley’s trademark lavish detail, glamorous settings and wonderful characters are all present in this treat of a novel. The perfect curl-up-in-an-armchair read.” – Daily Mail (UK)

The Shadow Sister really is Lucinda’s best yet. The scope of this series is breathtaking and each book is more captivating than the last.” – Iona Grey, author of Letters to the Lost

 “Wonderful! Absolutely impossible to put down! The Seven Sisters books just keep getting better and better.” – Tracy Rees, author of Amy Snow

“A deliciously twisting plot with clues cleverly paced along the way. I could hardly wait to solve the mystery of Star’s origins. Thoroughly addictive storytelling with a moving, emotional heart.” – Dinah Jefferies, author of The Tea Planter’s Wife

“The Seven Sisters series is proving to be a remarkable reading phenomenon.” – Lancashire Post (UK)


THE SHADOW SISTER: Book Three by Lucinda Riley

Atria Hardcover | ISBN: 9781476759944| On sale: April 18, 2017 | 512 pages | $26.00

eBook: Atria | ISBN: 9781476759951| On sale: April 18, 2017 | 512 pages | $13.99

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Beartown by Fredrik Backman

  • Title: Beartown
  • Author:  Fredrik Backman
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  336
  • Pub. Date:  April 25, 2017 – Atria
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world. (publisher)

My take:  Beartown is about a small town near the woods. The hockey team is one of the only bright spots in life for the people of Beartown. There are gods in Beartown – they are the stars of the hockey team. This novel addresses town culture, hockey culture, pack mentality, and human nature in general. You don’t have to know hockey to appreciate it. Fill in any other sport in place of hockey and you will probably relate on some level. One of the old salts in town tells a hockey coach that “most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.” The people of Beartown will show their best sides and some will reveal their worst when the unthinkable occurs. Fredrik Backman really gets to the core of human nature in his novels – so much so that the reader may need to take a break once in a while. Even so, I found it difficult to stop reading. It’s bittersweet, honest and will make you think. I really liked it.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Beyond the Wild River

ABOUT THE BOOK: The day comes sooner than expected when Charles, prompted by a near-scandal between Evelyn and a servant, brings her on a business trip to New York City and the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Evelyn welcomes the chance to escape her cloistered life and see the world.

But a fishing expedition up the Nipigon River in Canada takes an unexpected turn when Evelyn discovers that their river guide is none other than James Douglas. Even more startling, her father betrays no shock, simply instructing Evelyn not to reveal their past connection with James to the rest of their party.

Evelyn never believed that James was guilty, but speculation about her father’s role in the killing has made her fearful. What is he hiding? As they travel deeper into the wilderness, and further from the constraints of polite society, the secrets and lies surrounding that night are finally stripped away, revealing the true natures of everyone in their party.

 

BEYOND THE WILD RIVER by Sarah Maine

Atria Books Paperback | On-sale: April 18, 2017 | ISBN: 9781501126956 |

352 pages | $16.00

eBook: 9781501126970, $11.99


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Maine was born in England but grew up partly in Canada before returning to the United Kingdom, where she now lives. She is the author of The House Between Tides.

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photo credit: Susie McDonald at Brick Lane Studio


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Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

  • stolen-beauty-march-17Title:  Stolen Beauty: A Novel
  • Author:  Laurie Lico Albanese
  • Pages:  320
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  From the dawn of the twentieth century to the devastation of World War II, this exhilarating novel of love, war, art, and family gives voice to two extraordinary women and brings to life the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings.

In the dazzling glitter of 1903 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer—young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish—meets painter Gustav Klimt. Wealthy in everything but freedom, Adele embraces Klimt’s renegade genius as the two awaken to the erotic possibilities on the canvas and beyond. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the façade of conventional society, the city is also exhibiting a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism, as political hatred foments in the shadows of Adele’s coffee house afternoons and cultural salons.

Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria—and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested and her family is forced out of their home, Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her family—and their history—alive.

Will Maria and her family escape the grip of Nazis’ grip? And what will become of the paintings that her aunt nearly sacrificed everything for? (from the publisher)

My take:  I love to read historical fiction about works of art so this novel seemed perfect for me. It features a woman, Adele Bloch-Bauer, whose portrait was painted by Gustav Klimt in 1907. There’s another storyline that involves Bloch-Bauer’s niece, Maria Altmann. Maria was almost like a daughter to her aunt who hadn’t been able to carry a pregnancy to term. Many years later Maria would heed the call she felt to save something very important to her beloved aunt and uncle.

It was interesting reading the author’s imagined details in the story of a remarkable young woman, Adele, who captured the artist’s attention. Klimt and his contemporaries were pushing the art world in new directions that weren’t appreciated by the establishment. However, Bloch-Bauer was part of society that hosted intellectual salons that encouraged these artists – all at a time when the drums of change were starting a low-sounding beat in European politics.

Laurie Lico Albanese’s novel had a slow start for me but gradually picked up the pace and captured my interest to the point where I didn’t want to stop reading. I did stop from time to time to look up Klimt’s paintings which I found breath-taking. I learned about aspects of the Viennese culture in the early 20th century that I hadn’t a clue about before reading Stolen Beauty. I also learned about Klimt’s paintings. I’d only been familiar with The Kiss before reading this novel but there are so many more. That’s what I love about historical fiction – when done well the story is what grabs the reader but the truth is the star. I thought the author brought it all together beautifully. Recommended to fans of historical fiction and art.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Laurie Lico Albanese is the author of the novel Stolen Beauty, which brings to life the world of Gustav Klimt and Adele Bloch-Bauer in fin-de-siecle Vienna. Stolen Beauty spans a century and 2 generations of Jewish women. It is the first time that Adele Bloch-Bauer is brought to life in fiction.

Albanese is also co-author of The Miracles of Prato (Morrow, 2009 / Booksense Summer Reading Selection 2009), a work of historical fiction set in Renaissance Italy, and the author of Blue Suburbia: Almost a Memoir (Perennial, 2004 Booksense Best Books of the Year selection) and Lynelle by the Sea (Putnam, 2000), a novel. Albanese is the recipient of a Catherine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship, a NJ State Council on the Arts fellowship, and co-recipient of a Hadassah-Brandeis Research Grant. She teaches writing, travels widely, and has written travel stories for the New York Times Sunday Travel section, More magazine, and Narratively. In 2016 she received her MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She is the mother of two grown children and lives outside of NYC with her husband, Frank, who is a book publishing executive.


Praise for Stolen Beauty:

“This sensual and mesmerizing novel brings to vivid life Gustav Klimt and his greatest muse and model, Adele Bloch-Bauer. For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Paula McLain’s Circling the SunSTOLEN BEAUTY is a must-read. I tore through the pages.” — Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of ORPHAN TRAIN.

“Laurie Lico Albanese has given us a powerful and important tale of love and war, art and family. Filled with lush prose and vivid historical detail, STOLEN BEAUTY is a work simultaneously intimate and sweeping in its scope. I was transported; I loved being swept up into the glorious, golden era of fin de siecle Vienna.” — Allison Pataki, New York Times Bestselling Author of SISI: EMPRESS ON HER OWN.


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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.

 

Blog Tour Review: Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


swear on this life (blog tour 8:11)

SWEAR ON THIS LIFE by Renee Carlino

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

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

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