This is Home by Lisa Duffy

This is Home by Lisa Duffy

Published:  June 11, 2019 – Atria Books

Review book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Sixteen-year-old Libby Winters lives in Paradise, a seaside town north of Boston that rarely lives up to its name. After the death of her mother, she lives with her father, Bent, in the middle apartment of their triple decker home—Bent’s two sisters, Lucy and Desiree, live on the top floor. A former soldier turned policeman, Bent often works nights, leaving Libby under her aunts’ care. Shuffling back and forth between apartments—and the wildly different natures of her family—has Libby wishing for nothing more than a home of her very own.

Quinn Ellis is at a crossroads. When her husband John, who has served two tours in Iraq, goes missing back at home, suffering from PTSD he refuses to address, Quinn finds herself living in the first-floor apartment of the Winters house. Bent had served as her husband’s former platoon leader, a man John refers to as his brother, and despite Bent’s efforts to make her feel welcome, Quinn has yet to unpack a single box.

For Libby, the new tenant downstairs is an unwelcome guest, another body filling up her already crowded house. But soon enough, an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, when Libby and Quinn stretch and redefine their definition of family and home.

With gorgeous prose and a cast of characters that feel wholly real and lovably flawed, This Is Home is a nuanced and moving novel of finding where we belong. (publisher)

My take:  This is Home is the story of the people who live in the three apartments in a triple decker home near Boston. Bent (short for Bentley) and his teenage daughter Libby live in the middle, his two sisters live in the top unit, and Quinn Ellis is the newest, first floor, tenant. Bent is a policeman and former platoon leader of Quinn’s husband John. Quinn and John are separated as John deals with PTSD. She didn’t want the separation especially given her current condition. Quinn’s closest friend has been acting strange and no one seems to understand except for the brother of her friend. Libby’s aunts are loveably quirky – I enjoyed their supporting rolls in the novel. There’s drama, everyday life, heart-breaking events that Lisa Duffy wove into a novel that left me feeling upbeat as I turned the last page. It was the right book at the right time. Recommended.


 

The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

Published February 2019 – Atria Books

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:  When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full-scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion. (publisher)

My take:  It’s been a while since I visited 16th century Italy in a historical fiction novel so when I had the opportunity to read The Chef’s Secret I was excited to begin the adventure. Author Crystal King’s novel is replete with opulent settings, rich and detailed food descriptions, and the passion of her characters.

I liked the dual-storylines of Italy’s most famous chef (he served Popes, Kings and other notables of the time) and the heir he hoped would follow in his culinary footsteps. Upon the death of his uncle, Giovanni received boxes that contained journals. The mostly encoded journals of Bartolomeo Scappi not only developed the characters but also unleashed long-held secrets that would put Gio in certain danger. All combined for an entertaining read that I can recommend to fans of historical fiction and the Renaissance era.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Vineyard by Maria Dueñas

THE VINEYARD by María Dueñas

Atria Books |
ISBN: 978-1-5011-2453-2| Price: $26.00 US / $32.00 CAN | Pages: 544 |
eBook: 978-1-5011-2455-6 | On sale date: October 3, 2017

Beloved author María Dueñas returns with her highly anticipated new novel, THE VINEYARD (Atria Books; $26.00; October 3, 2017), a magnificent story of ambition, heartbreak, and desire set in 1860s Mexico, Cuba, and Spain—perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Kristin Hannah.

With the debut of her brilliant first novel, the New York Times bestseller The Time In Between (Atria; 2009), Dueñas was lauded for her descriptive and lyrical narrative and uniquely touching protagonists. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly declared her “a writer to watch,” while El Mundo in her native Spain said, “Dueñas more than lives up to her title as one of the best contemporary authors today.” It was critically and commercially acclaimed in the United States, and was also an international success, selling over two million copies worldwide and inspiring a popular Spanish television series, known in the media as “the Spanish Downton Abbey.” Her second novel, The Heart Has Its Reasons (Atria; 2012), was also well received and became an international bestseller.

María Dueñas is also a writer who has her finger on the pulse of society, with an innate talent for exploring the more personal and intimate issues in life—issues that no matter who we are and what we’ve accomplished— have affected many of us. THE VINEYARD is a powerful story of courage in the face of adversity, and of a destiny forever altered by the force of passion.

Mauro Larrea’s fortune, the result of years of hardship and toil, comes crashing down on the heels of a calamitous event. Swamped by debt and uncertainty, he gambles the last of his money in a daring play that wins him an abandoned house and a vineyard an ocean away. Mauro travels to Andalusia de Jerez in Spain with every intention of selling the property and returning to Mexico. That is, until he meets the unsettling Soledad Montalvo, the wife of a London wine merchant, who bursts into his life unannounced, determined to protect her family’s legacy. Before long, Larrea finds himself immersed in the rich culture of the sherry trade. As his feelings for Soledad ripen into a consuming passion, he seeks to restore the vineyard to its former glory.

From the turbulent young Mexican republic to flourishing Havana, and onward to the fertile vineyards of Jerez in the second half of the nineteenth century, María Dueñas’s new novel takes place on both sides of the Atlantic, the New World and the Old. This story of family intrigue vividly conjures the noise and grit of silver mines, and the earthier lure of ancient vineyards and magnificent cities whose splendor has faded. Using the same resonant voice and skillful narrative style as she did in The Time In Between and The Heart Has Its Reasons, María Dueñas pours heart and soul into THE VINEYARD and creates a vibrant canvas that immerses readers in each locale, and offers a fascinating study in contrasts, contradictions…and second chances.

(All Spotlight content provided by the publisher)


María Dueñas holds a PhD in English philology. After two decades dedicated to academics, she broke onto the literary scene in 2009 with the publication of the New York Times bestselling novel The Time In Between, followed by The Heart Has Its Reasons in 2012. Both novels became international bestsellers and have been translated into 35 languages. The television adaptation of The Time in Between earned critical and international acclaim. The Vineyard is her third novel and is being simultaneously published in Spanish as La Templanza.


Praise for The Vineyard:

“Breezy and entertaining, María Dueñas delivers a good old-fashioned yarn.” —The Washington Post

“An all-encompassing saga of one man’s sacrifice, tragedy, courage and passion. Dueñs builds her tale carefully and sets the stage with lush descriptions of Mexico, Cuba and the glorious vineyards of Andalusia, Spain. It is the pictures that Dueñas paints that draw readers into the heart of her character’s journey through three stages. Heartwrenching yet uplifting, this beautifully rendered story will linger in readers’ minds.” – RT Book Reviews

“this sprawling tale will charm fans of historical romance.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Dueñas capably reveals the grace of second chances, as Larrea’s hard work overcomes a cruel twist of fate. There is despair; there is betrayal; there is romance and triumph. Dueñas’ many fans as well as readers who appreciate well-researched historical fiction will find The Vineyard appealing.” – Booklist


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Giveaway ends on October 13, 2017


 

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.