My Kind of People by Lisa Duffy

My Kind of People by Lisa Duffy

Published:  May 12, 2020 – Atria Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

On Ichabod Island, a jagged strip of land thirteen miles off the coast of Massachusetts, ten-year-old Sky becomes an orphan for the second time after a tragic accident claims the lives of her adoptive parents.

Grieving the death of his best friends, Leo’s life is turned upside down when he finds himself the guardian of young Sky. Back on the island and struggling to balance his new responsibilities and his marriage to his husband, Leo is supported by a powerful community of neighbors, many of them harboring secrets of their own.

Maggie, who helps with Sky’s childcare, has hit a breaking point with her police chief husband, who becomes embroiled in a local scandal. Her best friend Agnes, the island busybody, invites Sky’s estranged grandmother to stay for the summer, straining already precarious relationships. Their neighbor Joe struggles with whether to tell all was not well in Sky’s house in the months leading up to the accident. And among them all is a mysterious woman, drawn to Ichabod to fulfill a dying wish. (publisher)

My take:  This is the second of Lisa Duffy’s novels I’ve had the opportunity to read and I have to say I’m quickly becoming a fan. My Kind of People is about the lives of people on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts. Leo and his husband Xavier find themselves guardians of Sky, a ten year old girl, after her parents are killed in a car accident. Well, Leo is named guardian and Xavier is pulled along without much thought to his feelings about the situation. So their relationship is tested. Sky is starting to get her bearings with her new life when her grandmother moves to the island. That adds to the overall drama. There are neighbors with their own relationship issues. It really is a character driven novel about what it means to belong, fit in, finding one’s place and I loved it all. When I finished I wanted to know where things were going with other characters. I’d love to read more about these people! For me, that’s always a sign of a good book.


About the author:

Lisa Duffy is the author of The Salt House, named by Real Simple as a Best Book of the Month upon its June release, as well asBustle’s 17 Best Debut Novels by Women in 2017 and This Is Home, a favorite book club pick. Lisa received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts. Her writing can be found in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and three children. My Kind of People is her third novel.

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The Light After The War

The Light After The War by Anita Abriel

Published:  February 2020 – Atria Books

Finished copy provided by the publisher

Description:

It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban arrive in Naples. Refugees from Hungary, they managed to escape from a train headed for Auschwitz and spent the rest of the war hiding on an Austrian farm. Now, the two young women must start new lives abroad. Armed with a letter of recommendation from an American officer, Vera finds work at the United States embassy where she falls in love with Captain Anton Wight.

But as Vera and Edith grapple with the aftermath of the war, so too does Anton, and when he suddenly disappears, Vera is forced to change course. Their quest for a better life takes Vera and Edith from Naples to Ellis Island to Caracas as they start careers, reunite with old friends, and rebuild their lives after terrible loss. (publisher)

My take:  This is the remarkable story of two young women finding their way in post WWII Europe. Their amazing journey took them to Italy, America, Venezuela (to name only a few places) as they came to grips with life after unspeakable losses. Their indomitable spirit opened them to opportunities that many people found irresistible. Synchronicity seemed to play a part in their story as well. I’d been thinking that at about the time the author made the point!

The story is inspired by the author’s mother which I thought added heft to the story. Anita Abriel’s story and descriptive writing kept me turning the pages as I had to know where life would take Vera and Edith. And it took them far. I’d love to know “the rest of the story”!

Recommended to fans of romantic Historical Fiction.


About the author:

Anita Abriel was born in Sydney, Australia. She received a BA in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing program. She lives in California with her family and is the author of The Light After the War which was inspired by her mother’s story of survival during WWII.

 

 


Praise for The Light After The War

“Set against the vividly drawn backdrops of Naples, Caracas and Sydney in the aftermath of WWII, The Light After the War by Anita Abriel is a beautifully written and heartfelt novel. I was completely swept up in Vera’s and Edith’s lives, their friendship, their heartbreaks and their triumphs. An unforgettable story of strength, love, and survival.”

—Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author of The Lost Letter and In Another Time

 

“There is so much in The Light After the War that truly shines:  Unforgettable love, family, faith—and the courageous resolve of two young women to mend their lives and seek new beginnings in a world tragically changed. Fans of historical fiction are sure to devour this tale of hope, reinvention and the power of friendship to heal the heart’s deepest wounds.”

—Roxanne Veletzos, author of The Girl They Left Behind

 

“Anita Abriel sweeps the reader around the world in this true tale of survival, endurance, and triumph. The Light After the War is a feast for the mind and the heart, not soon to be forgotten.”

—Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and The Sisters of Summit Avenue

 

“A finely-woven story of post-war romance, second chances, and resolve that refuses to give in or give up. The setting details are evocative and inviting. Well done!”

—Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Last Year of the War

 

“Fans of Georgia Hunter’s We Were The Lucky Ones should race to grab Anita Abriel’s The Light After The War, spanning continents and set against a vividly drawn canvas of World War II and the post-war period. Based on Abriel’s own family history, The Light After The War is a heartfelt and memorable tale of family, love, resilience and the triumph of human spirit.”  —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

 

“I was utterly moved and transfixed by The Light After the War, a beautiful novel that spans a decade across four continents in the wake of World War II. You’ll be swept away by this fast-paced, heartbreaking, and hopeful tale of friendship, family, second chances, and the enduring power of love, based on the true story of author Anita Abriel’s mother and her fascinating journey away from war-torn Europe in the 1940s. A must-read for anyone interested in the emotional toll of the Second World War.”

—Kristin Harmel, international bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amelie

 

“Inspired by her own mother’s remarkable life, Anita Abriel takes readers to four continents as she celebrates the power of hope, optimism and female friendship in The Light After the War. If you are a reader who believes in embracing life and love—even after unspeakable loss—you will treasure this book.” — Sally Koslow, author of Another Side of Paradise

THE LIGHT AFTER THE WAR by Anita Abriel

Atria Books / ISBN: 9781982122973 / Pages: 320 / Format: Hardcover /

Price $27 (US) / $36 (CAN) / eBook: 9781982122997 / On Sale: 2/24/20


To Have and to Hoax

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters

Publication date:  April 7, 2020 – Atria Books

Digital review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love, and got married. Four years ago, they had a fight to end all fights, and have barely spoken since.

Their once-passionate love match has been reduced to one of cold, detached politeness. But when Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious at their country estate, she races to be by his side—only to discover him alive and well at a tavern, and completely unaware of her concern. She’s outraged. He’s confused. And the distance between them has never been more apparent.

Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own. James quickly sees through it, but he decides to play along in an ever-escalating game of manipulation, featuring actors masquerading as doctors, threats of Swiss sanitariums, faux mistresses—and a lot of flirtation between a husband and wife who might not hate each other as much as they thought. Will the two be able to overcome four years of hurt or will they continue to deny the spark between them? (publisher)

Guest review by Katie, Bookfan daughter!

I am an avid reader of historical romances set in the Regency period and I was intrigued by the premise of this novel. What worked for me: there was absolute chemistry between James and Violet and witty dialogue between the two. Violet’s character, especially, made me laugh out loud more than once. The author created a host of interesting and eclectic characters throughout the novel.

What did not work for me: I found the use of obscenities to be jarring and unnecessary. Each time I flinched and it made me think less of our hero and his character. I also found the amount of day drinking and general heavy drinking to be surprising. These two elements made me feel like I was reading a modern novel that happened to be dropped into a Recency background. The incongruity left me unsettled.

Overall, the author is excellent at creating original characters and laugh out loud dialogue and fans of women’s fiction may enjoy the modern sensibilities of this historical romance.


About the author:

Martha Waters was born and raised in sunny South Florida, and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She works as a children’s librarian in North Carolina, and spends much of her free time traveling. To Have and To Hoax is her first novel.

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Spotlight: Tidelands – Paperback release

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

Paperback release:  February 18, 2020 – Washington Square Press

Courtesy of the publisher

Description: This New York Times bestseller from “one of the great storytellers of our time” (San Francisco Book Review) turns from the glamour of the royal courts to tell the story of an ordinary woman, Alinor, living in a dangerous time for a woman to be different.

On Midsummer’s Eve, Alinor waits in the church graveyard, hoping to encounter the ghost of her missing husband and thus confirm his death. Until she can, she is neither maiden nor wife nor widow, living in a perilous limbo. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run. She shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marshy landscape of the Tidelands, not knowing she is leading a spy and an enemy into her life.

England is in the grip of a bloody civil war that reaches into the most remote parts of the kingdom. Alinor’s suspicious neighbors are watching each other for any sign that someone might be disloyal to the new parliament, and Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her as a woman who doesn’t follow the rules. They have always whispered about the sinister power of Alinor’s beauty, but the secrets they don’t know about her and James are far more damning. This is the time of witch-mania, and if the villagers discover the truth, they could take matters into their own hands. (publisher)


About the author:

Philippa Gregory is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Many of her works have been adapted for the screen including The Other Boleyn Girl. Her most recent novel, The Last Tudor, is now in production for a television series. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She is an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She founded Gardens for the Gambia, a charity to dig wells in poor rural schools in The Gambia, and has provided nearly 200 wells. She welcomes visitors to her website PhilippaGregory.com.


Praise for Tidelands:

“Superb…a searing portrait of a woman that resonates across the ages.” People

“This is Gregory par excellence. A promising start to a family saga about ordinary people.”
Kirkus Reviews
“A gripping novel…with her usual meticulous attention to detail, the author easily elicits the chaos and dangers of the mid-17th century…this book will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series. Fans of Gregory’s works and of historicals in general will delight in this page-turning tale.”
Library Journal (starred review)
“History buffs and Gregory’s fans alike will be anticipating the next installment.
–Publishers Weekly
“a welcome topical pivot from gifted Gregory”
Booklist
 
“Richly detailed and brimming with secrets (personal and political), Tidelands is a captivating portrait of a brave woman and a compelling start to a new series.”
–Shelf Awareness
“The first in a planned series, Tidelands has moved on from the Tudor and Plantagenet era of Gregory’s previous novels, and the author crafts her material with effortless ease. Her grasp of social mores is brilliant, the love story rings true and the research is, as ever, of the highest calibre.”

Daily Mail


 

 

Adequate Yearly Progress

Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

Published: February 2020 – Atria Books

Review galley courtesy of Atria and NetGalley

Description:

Each new school year brings familiar challenges to Brae Hill Valley, a struggling high school in one the biggest cities in Texas. But the teachers also face plenty of personal challenges and this year, they may finally spill over into the classroom.

English teacher Lena Wright, a spoken-word poet, can never seem to truly connect with her students. Hernan D. Hernandez is confident in front of his biology classes, but tongue-tied around the woman he most wants to impress. Down the hall, math teacher Maybelline Galang focuses on the numbers as she struggles to parent her daughter, while Coach Ray hustles his troubled football team toward another winning season. Recording it all is idealistic second-year history teacher Kaytee Mahoney, whose anonymous blog gains new readers by the day as it drifts ever further from her in-class reality. And this year, a new superintendent is determined to leave his own mark on the school—even if that means shutting the whole place down. (publisher)

My take:   Adequate Yearly Progress is about a high school in a large Texas city that has been underperforming in terms of results. Teachers, brand new and long time, navigate the high expectations of a new superintendent, education consultants, and teenagers. It’s the story of how the faculty deals on a daily basis with school life, personal life, and reality.  Adequate Yearly Progress is filled to the brim with humor, broad stereotypes, and nuggets of truth and I think current teachers, especially high school teachers, will relate to the travails of the Brae Hill Valley HS teachers.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Roxanna Elden is the author of Adequate Yearly Progress: A Novel, which was previously self-published, and See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. She combines eleven years of experience as a public school teacher with a decade of speaking to audiences around the country about education issues. She has been featured on NPR as well as in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and more. You can learn more about her work at RoxannaElden.com.

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ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS by Roxanna Elden

Atria Books | On Sale: February 11, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-9821-3502-7| $16.99 | Trade Paperback Original


 

 

A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel

A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel

Published:  Dec. 3, 2019 – Atria Books

Book courtesy of Atria and NetGalley

Description: In 1921, Françoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.

Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.  (publisher)

My take:  A Bookshop in Berlin is the first hand account of Françoise Frenkel and her life leading up to and including the WWII years. With WWI behind them she and her husband left Paris and opened the first French bookshop in Berlin in 1921. He eventually went into exile in France (was later rounded up and died in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland) while she stayed behind to run the shop. After Kristallnacht she fled Berlin for France and was eventually rounded up while trying to enter Switzerland. Her experiences were difficult to read but, at the same time, riveting. Not all people had her strength and determination but many did. It’s an amazing story that I’m glad I had the chance to read. Recommended to fans of memoirs of this era. I appreciated the documents and photos included at the end of the book.


About the author:

Françoise Frenkel was born in Poland in 1889. Her memoir, originally published in 1945 as Rien où poser sa tête (No Place to Lay One’s Head), was rediscovered in an attic in southern France in 2010 and republished in the original French as well as in a dozen other languages. This is its first publication in the United States. Frenkel died in Nice in 1975.

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This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

Published:  September 3, 2019 – Atria Books

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.  (publisher)

My take:  This Tender Land is the story of four “Vagabond children” (orphans) on a journey during the summer of 1932. They leave dire circumstances at a boarding school for Indian youths in Minnesota with the goal of finding a better home with their aunt in St. Louis. Along the way they face harrowing events but somehow manage to keep going. They meet interesting characters, learn life lessons, and learn to rely on their developing instincts. It’s a coming of age story that had me cheering Odie, Albert, Mose and Emmy as they searched for home. I appreciated the epilogue as well as the author’s note that rounds out the novel and answered questions I’d had while reading.