All The Best People by Sonja Yoerg

  • Title:  All The Best People
  • Author:  Sonja Yoerg
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  May 2017 – Berkley Trade
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else. 

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother. 

An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives. (Publisher)

My take:  Carole remembers her mother before life changed. She remembers her happy family when she was a little girl. But things changed when her little sister was born. Was what Carole believed to be family history the complete truth? And is she destined to live the same life as her mother? All The Best People is the story of a family and what happens when the matriarch begins to feel life slipping out of her grasp.

Sonja Yoerg’s novel had me from the first page. My heart broke for Carole as she was going through the frightening realization that her life was changing and she couldn’t do anything about it. She was terrified of ending up like her mother. The book alternates between Carole in the 1970s and Carole’s mother in the 1920s and ’30s – a satisfying way to show how treatment changed through the decades.

Given the serious topic I didn’t expect to enjoy the novel as much as I did. I looked forward to picking it up each time – a credit to the author’s storytelling skill. Recommended for fans of the author and family dramas.


About the author:

Sonja Yoerg grew up in Stowe, Vermont, where she financed her college education by waitressing at the Trapp Family Lodge. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, and studied learning in blue jays, kangaroo rats and spotted hyenas, among other species. Her non-fiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox (Bloomsbury USA) was published in 2001.

While her two daughters were young, Sonja taught in their schools in California. Now that they are in college, she writes full-time.

She currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband. Her novels, HOUSE BROKEN and MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE, are published by Penguin/NAL.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn

the-echo-of-twilight

Description

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The French War Bride by Robin Wells

the french war bride

Description:  Nazi-occupied Paris serves as the backdrop for Robin Wells’s gorgeous new story of compassion, betrayal, and forgiveness. In THE FRENCH WAR BRIDE (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; August 2, 2016; $16) one fierce French woman, and an engaged American army doctor—both with promises to keep—become unexpectedly and permanently entangled. But their story is more complicated than it appears on the surface. . .

Fast-forward to present day. Though she has lived a good life—blessed with a doting husband and many grandchildren—Kat Morgan has never fully recovered from being abandoned by her first love and former fiancé, Jack, who returned home from World War II with a French war bride and a baby. Fearing she has little time left to learn the truth, Kat travels back to Wedding Tree to confront the other woman, Amelie Michaud O’Connor. What happened in France to make Jack jilt her in such an unscrupulous manner?  

As the two women sit together, Amelie tells of coming of age in Paris under Nazi occupation. The daughter of a linguistics professor who taught her English and German, Amelie has just begun an innocent romance with Joshua, a Jewish Austrian immigrant, when the Germans invade France.

With Paris under the thumb of the Nazis, Amelie’s world changes overnight. She loses her father, her home, and all her possessions. She gets a job as a maid at a Parisian hotel housing German army officers, but she is doing more than cleaning rooms; she is spying for la Resistance. 

But, like Jack, Amelie has her own promises to keep. So when she overhears him in a church confessional, she thinks she has found the answer to her prayers, and a way to ensure the future of her newborn baby. As a spy, her whole life has been a lie; what is the harm in telling one more—especially if it is for the good of the child? How could Amelie have known how deeply she would unwittingly draw Jack into the tangled web of her life—or that she would fall desperately in love with him?


About the author:  National bestselling author Robin Wells is a winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, and the HOLT Medallion, among others.


Praise for The Wedding Tree series by Robin Wells:

“Vibrant characters and a beautifully detailed storyline combine in this compelling tale spanning generations. The alternating POVs are intricately woven together in this tale of love, loss, forgiveness and renewal.”—RT Book Reviews TOP PICK

 

“Women’s fiction fans will appreciate this character-driven story of two generations of women.”

Library Journal

 

Heroes & Heartbreakers “Women’s Fiction Best Bets for December 2015”


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

Giveaway has ended

the french war bride

The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig – PLUS a two book US Giveaway

  • the cake therapist (6:2 Berkley)Title:  The Cake Therapist: A novel
  • Author:  Judith Fertig
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Magical Realism
  • Published:  June 2015 – Berkley Trade
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Claire “Neely” O’Neill is an extraordinarily talented pastry chef.  But at a time when her life outside her kitchen seems to be falling apart, Neely moves back to her small Midwestern hometown from NYC to open a bakery and work through the heartache that caused her to flee her life in New York. The bakery, Rainbow Cake, named after her signature ROYGBIV confection, is perfect, intimate, and just what she’s always dreamed of. 

But Neely has a special gift beyond making the perfect Rainbow Cake: while every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, Neely can “taste” feelings—cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.
 

As she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told.  As she tastes her way through others’ mysterious pasts, she largely ignores the pain and uncertainty in her own.  Neely has always been able to help everyone else, but getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.   (publisher)


My take:  If you enjoy what I like to call foodie fiction I think you’ll like The Cake Therapist. Judith Fertig combined characters, settings and problems of everyday people all resulting in a delicious novel. And she added a dash of magical realism that made for an even tastier story.
I loved the quietness of the novel – even in times of big, life-changing events. It seemed as though one of the characters (Sr. Agnes) was reading to me. Some pretty awful things happened but the tone of Fertig’s writing always kept me turning the pages. Sometimes when that happens in a novel I have to put the book down for a while. That didn’t happen once in The Cake Therapist.
My favorite character was Neely. She had such a positive, upbeat attitude that she made the people around her even better – as well as her baked goods. The Cake Therapist has two storylines that eventually come together, thanks to Neely. The possibility of finding closure and a new beginning made this novel a satisfying read. Recommended.

About the author:

Cookbook author Judith Fertig grew up in the Midwest, went to La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and now lives in Kansas City. Described by Saveur Magazine as a “heartland cookbook icon,” Fertig writes cookbooks that reflect her love of bread, baking, barbecue, and the fabulous foods of the Heartland.

Fertig’s food and lifestyle writing has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including Bon Appetit, Saveur and The New York Times. You can read some of her cookbooks like novels–the fabulously photographed Heartland, the award-winning and James Beard Awards-nominated Prairie Home Cooking (a “tour de force,” says Saveur), the encylopedic All-American Desserts, and Prairie Home Breads. Her IACP Cookbook Award-winning The Back in the Swing Cookbook (with Barbara C.Unell) takes you on a delicious daily journey to get you back in the swing after breast cancer.


US Giveaway
CakeTherapistBakeHappyGIVEAWAY HAS ENDED
 Please click here and fill out the form

It’s You by Jane Porter

  • It's You (6:2 Berkley)Title:  It’s You: A novel
  • Author:  Jane Porter
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  June 2, 2015 – Berkley Trade
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Jane Porter’s new contemporary novel is about Ali, a young woman in the depths of grief more than a year after suffering a terrible loss. Ali is a dentist and lives in Scottsdale, AZ. Soon after the loss her mother unexpectedly died. Her father lives hours away in Napa, CA. When he is injured in a fall Ali goes to help him in any way she can.

Ali’s dad isn’t the easiest guy to be around and even injured he seems not to appreciate her presence. To top it off he seems to want to have his friends at the retirement community around all the time – leaving little time for Ali and him to be alone. One of his friends is an irritable woman in her nineties. Ali doesn’t seem to be able to say or do anything that is taken the right way. Once Ali decides not to take personally the way her father and Edie (the older woman) treat her, things improve. In fact, Ali and Edie strike up a rather stiff friendship.

It turns out Ali can learn a lot from Edie’s life story and possibly find that life has much to offer her. I learned a good deal from Edie’s story. It involves pre and post WWII Germany and the Germans who were part of the Resistance.

Porter’s novel is filled with interesting characters but my favorite was Edie. She had an amazing and inspiring story to share. Recommended to fans of Jane Porter and Women’s Fiction.


About the author:

JanePorter_photo01_1200px_300dpiJane Porter is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Good Wife, The Good Daughter, The Good Woman, She’s Gone Country, Mrs. Perfect, and Flirting with Forty ( the basis for the Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear). Jane lives in Southern California.