One Good Thing by Wendy Wax

  • Title:  One Good Thing
  • Series:  Ten Beach Road #5
  • Author:  Wendy Wax
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  April 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Before you can fix it up, you might have to tear it down…
Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships. 
 
Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and deal with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bedrest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can’t quite believe love can last, or trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son’s famous father that comes with far too many strings attached…
 
But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other—and their dreams—from crumbling. (publisher)

My take:  One Good Thing is the latest book in Wendy Wax’s Ten Beach Road series. The four women – Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra – are at a crossroads with their Do Over home refurb tv show. They are trapped in a horrible contract with the tv network that took their show and turned it into an embarrassing reality show. They want to find a way out of the contract and maintain control of the show. The odds don’t look good.

Individually each woman is facing life-altering change. They will rely on one another to help get through the challenges. I’ve enjoyed this series so much because it features women of all ages and experience in a realistic and positive way. The Florida setting is so inviting and I love the home refurb storylines. I like the parallel of the women’s lives being improved while they renovate homes.

There were a few unresolved storylines at the conclusion of One Good Thing so I’m hopeful the series will continue. I suppose this novel could stand alone but so much context will be gained if you read from the beginning. Recommended.


Fan favorite and USA Today bestselling author Wendy Wax is known for transporting readers to beautiful seaside locations with her smart, fun and utterly compelling stories. Inspired by her childhood summers and set on the backdrop of St. Petersburg, Florida, Wax’s Ten Beach Road series is equal parts authentic and charming.

Praise for the novels of Wendy Wax

“[Wax] writes with breezy wit and keen insight.”—The Atlanta Journal Constitution 

“If you’re a sucker for plucky women who rise to the occasion, this is for you.”—USA Today

 “Wax offers her trademark form of fiction, the beach read with substance.”—Booklist 

 “Wax really knows how to make a cast of characters come alive.”—RT Book Reviews


About ONE GOOD THING:

In her fifth and most exciting book yet, Wax returns to her Ten Beach Road series with ONE GOOD THING (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; April 25, 2017; $16). Picking up where Sunshine Beach left off, fans of the series will delight in catching up with familiar beloved characters and new readers will have no problem sinking into this witty and heartwarming story about loyalty, friendship and the secrets that test those bonds.

Sure to resonate with readers of Elin Hilderbrand and Jane Green, ONE GOOD THING is a warm and insightful look at love and the bonds of true friendship.


The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

  • Title:  The Garden of Small Beginnings
  • Author:  Abbi Waxman
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  May 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  It’s been three years since her husband was killed in a car accident and Lilian is still getting used to being sane—after that one early breakdown. She’s happy just being able to get her two girls to school every morning, keep her illustrating job, and catch up on her favorite TV shows with her sister. She’s not exactly in a rut; she’s just letting the grass grow under her feet.

But then Lilian’s boss asks her to illustrate a vegetable encyclopedia and signs her up for a vegetable-gardening class. Lilian reluctantly agrees and recruits her kids and sister to join her for some drama-free Saturday mornings, because what could be more relaxing than gardening? Nothing…except that this class is filled with people who like to dig a little deeper than the surface, and an instructor who makes Lillian want to bloom for the first time in years. 

With her fellow newbie gardeners, Lilian learns what it takes to nurture plants—and friendships. Digging in the dirt, with worms and all, teaches Lilian that sometimes you have to let nature take its course, be it in gardening, in life, or in love…  (publisher)

My take:  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much while reading a novel. I also teared up several times when author Abbi Waxman zinged me with moments that cut to the core of human emotion.

Lilian is a thirty-something widowed mother of two. Her husband died in a tragic accident four years earlier and she’s been wading through grief ever since.  Lilian is an illustrator for a small press. Her boss enrolls Lili in a gardening class in preparation for illustrating a vegetable encyclopedia. That class will transform the lives of Lili and her daughters – and everyone else involved in the class.

I adored the people who took the gardening class. Each one had an interesting story and as a group they were lovely – kind of like a wonderful summer salad.

Highly recommended to fans of contemporary fiction, laugh-out-loud moments, and a heartfelt story.


 

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

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  • the-bridge-across-the-ocean-319Title:  A Bridge Across the Ocean
  • Author:  Susan Meissner
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women—past and present—in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life.

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings. (publisher)

My take:  Annaliese was a German girl with hopes of being a ballet dancer. Those hopes were dashed when she unknowingly caught the eye of a Nazi official. After a few weeks of dinners out he convinced her (creepily) to marry him. Her life would never be the same.

Simone’s father and brother were murdered before her eyes. Somehow she followed directions her father had laid out for her to get to safety. It was a harrowing journey but it eventually led her to a new path in life. Annaliese and Simone met in England and sailed on the Queen Mary to the US along with hundreds of other war brides. Once again, things didn’t go as planned.

Brette is a young married woman in California. She’s been able to see things (think spirits) most people can’t for most of her life. After a tour of the Queen Mary (rumored to be haunted) she knows she needs to find answers to a few questions. Her day on the ship compels her to search for Simone and Annaliese. She also hopes to find a way to be comfortable with her ability.

A Bridge Across the Ocean is the story of three women faced with life-changing challenges. Two of their stories took place during WWII and one, Brette’s, is present day. Told from the three perspectives I felt the novel unfolded at a good pace and a few chapters in I had a tough time putting it down. It’s a tale about crossing bridges in life. Often what one finds on the other side is not as frightening as imagined. It’s a story of bravery, acceptance and forgiveness.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

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The New York Times bestselling and legendary author of Helen of Troy and Elizabeth I now turns her gaze on Emperor Nero, one of the most notorious and misunderstood figures in history.

Built on the backs of those who fell before it, Julius Caesar’s imperial dynasty is only as strong as the next person who seeks to control it. In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman—or child.

As a boy, Nero’s royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life, first when the mad emperor Caligula tries to drown him, then when his great-aunt attempts to secure her own son’s inheritance. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead.

While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his own mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina’s machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero’s determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become—an Emperor who became legendary.

With impeccable research and captivating prose, The Confessions of Young Nero is the story of a boy’s ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.


AUTHOR BIO

Margaret George is the author of the bestselling Autobiography of Henry VIIIMary, Queen of Scotland and the IslesThe Memoirs of Cleopatra; and Mary, Called Magdalene.


Praise for Margaret George:

“EVOCATIVE” The New York Times •  “DELICIOUS” People • “SCINTILLATING” The Chicago Tribune •“ENGAGING AND INTELLIGENT” Kirkus Reviews • “FRESH AND VIVID” The Washington Post •“EXPANSIVE, THOUGHTFUL” San Francisco Chronicle • “AWASH IN SENSUOUS, JEWEL-LIKE DETAIL”Entertainment Weekly • “A TRIUMPH” Houston Chronicle  “A MASTERPIECE” Pittsburgh Press • “BEAUTIFULLY AND LYRICALLY WRITTEN” Baltimore Sun •  “IMMENSELY READABLE” Cleveland Plain Dealer • A STYLISTIC TOUR DE FORCE”  Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“If only history lessons had been like this.”—Cosmopolitan
 
“Extensively researched with the highest integrity, and deeply engaging, it sets a new benchmark for the genre.”—New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir

 “George leaves us with the most coveted prize of fiction: a world. . . we wished existed, and that thoroughly does between the covers.” —Chicago Tribune


US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends on March 8th, 2017

Traveling Light by Lynne Branard

  • traveling-lightTitle:  Traveling Light
  • Author:  Lynne Branard
  • Pages:  320
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  January 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Driving from North Carolina to New Mexico with her three-legged dog, a strange man’s ashes, and a waitress named Blossom riding shotgun isn’t exactly what Alissa Wells ever wanted to be doing. But it’s exactly what she needs…
 
It all starts when Alissa impulsively puts a bid on an abandoned storage unit, only to become the proud new owner of Roger Hart’s remains. Two weeks later, she jumps in her car and heads west, thinking that returning the ashes of a dead man might be the first step on her way to a new life. 
 
She isn’t wrong. 
 
Especially when Blossom, who just graduated from high school, hitches a ride with her to Texas, and Alissa has to get used to letting someone else take the wheel. Posting about their road trip on Facebook, complete with photos of Roger at every stop, Blossom opens Alissa’s eyes to the road in front of her—and to how sometimes the best things in life are the ones you never see coming…  (provided by the publisher)

My take:  After coming into possession of the remains of an unknown (to her) man, thirty-five year old Alissa feels duty-bound to return them to his last known address which is across the country from where she lives. She’ll finally use some of her numerous vacation days for the trip and take her dog with her.

Along the way she meets some interesting people: Blossom, a seventeen year old waitress from Tennessee who just happens to want a ride to Texas and Blossom’s former boyfriend who shows up a few days later. It turns into quite a unique road trip with the three making stops at tourist spots, some famous and some not so much.

Al (as she’s known to almost everyone) realizes the two teens are pretty great traveling companions. They’ll all discover things on this journey about themselves and life. I enjoyed this engaging novel about finding your place in the world.