The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas

  • Title:  The Future She Left Behind
  • Author:  Marin Thomas
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  September 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art. 

But Shirley Pratt—master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn’s terror of a live-in monster-in-law—has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn’s trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams. (publisher)

My take:  Katelyn’s life is turned upside down when she is served divorce papers from her husband who has been away for business. When she thinks about it, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Her husband has traveled internationally for business during most of their marriage leaving her with the bulk of raising their twins during those years. Now the kids are heading off to college and her husband on to a life without Katelyn. She goes where anyone in her position would want to go – home to her mom. What she didn’t expect was to have her almost ex mother-in-law along for the ride. That added mild conflict and a good dose of comic relief to the novel.

The Future She Left Behind is about resetting your life, going home, and finding your passion for life again. What will happen when Katelyn returns to the place she couldn’t wait to leave decades earlier? I loved how Marin Thomas answered that question. She filled her novel with colorful and entertaining support characters that made me look forward to getting back to the story each time I had to put it down. It seemed each woman in the novel was like every woman – trying to live her best life while giving support to the people in her life and finding some happiness along the way. I enjoyed it all and recommend The Future She Left Behind to fans of the author and novels about strong, authentic women.


About the author:  Marin Thomas writes Women’s Fiction for Berkley and western romances for Harlequin and Tule Publishing. To date she has contracted over 35 projects for Harlequin. Her first women’s fiction novel, The Promise of Forgiveness, released March 2016 and her second novel, The Future She Left Behind releases September 2017. Marin is also a member of the Tall Poppy Writers https://tallpoppies.org

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How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

  • Title:  How to Change a Life
  • Author:  Stacey Ballis
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  August 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Eloise is happy with her life as a successful private chef. She has her clients, her corgi, and a recipe for the world’s most perfect chocolate cream pie. What more could she need? But when her long-lost trio of high school friends reunites, Eloise realizes how lonely she really is. 

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa revamp their senior-class assignment and dare one another to create a list of things to accomplish by the time they each turn forty in a few months. Control freak Lynne has to get a dog, Teresa has to spice up her marriage, and Eloise has to start dating again. 

Enter Shawn, a hunky ex-athlete and the first man Eloise could see herself falling for. Suddenly forty doesn’t seem so lonely—until a chance encounter threatens the budding romance and reveals the true colors of her friends. Will the bucket listers make it to forty still speaking to one another? Or do some friendships come with an expiration date? (publisher)

My take:  Stacey Ballis sets her novels in Chicago and makes delicious food a major part of the main character’s life – she’s usually an amazing cook. How to Change a Life is the story of Eloise. She’s looking at forty and fairly consumed by her life as a professional cook for a wonderful family and one very nice older man. She would do anything for all of them as they would for her. That’s just how she is. When she reconnects with her two best friends from high school at the funeral of their favorite teacher her life gets an unexpected tweak. The three end up in a challenge to meet a few goals before they turn forty. This has mixed results but they all receive the benefit of their efforts. I loved El and how she showed the people in her life that they were special to her through her actions. The bet she makes with her friends forces her to let down her guard that has protected her since she came home from France with a broken heart. And that opens her life up to wonderful new possibilities. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves a big-hearted protagonist, foodie fiction, and a good story. Readers Guide and recipes are included!


 

A Mother Like Mine by Kate Hewitt

  • Title:  A Mother Like Mine
  • Series:  Hartley-by-the-Sea #3
  • Author:  Kate Hewitt
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  August 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Welcome to England’s beautiful Lake District, where a reluctant reunion forges a new bond between a daughter and her wayward mother….
 
Abby Rhodes is just starting to get her life on track. After her fiancé’s unexpected death, she returned with her young son to the small village where she grew up and threw herself into helping her ailing grandmother run the town’s beach café. Then one evening, her mother, Laura, shows up in Hartley-by-the-Sea and announces her plan to stay. After twenty years away, she now wants to focus on the future—and has no intention, it seems, of revisiting the painful past.
 
Laura Rhodes has made a lot of mistakes, and many of them concern her daughter. But as Abby gets little glimpses into her mother’s life, she begins to realize there are depths to Laura she never knew. Slowly, Abby and Laura start making tentative steps toward each other, only to have life become even more complicated when an unexpected tragedy arises. Together, the two women will discover truths both sad and surprising that draw them closer to a new understanding of what it means to truly forgive someone you love. (publisher)

My take: When Laura Rhodes returns home to Hartley-by-the-Sea from America she isn’t met with a warm reception from her daughter. Abby has every reason to be bitter where her mother is concerned. She left when Abby was a toddler and only came back for a few short visits over the years. Now Abby is a single mother of a young boy. She’s struggling to make a go of the family beach cafe and really doesn’t have time to forge a relationship with Laura.  But when something unexpected happens the two must figure out how to move forward. A Mother Like Mine is the story of forgiveness, learning to trust, and second chances. It’s a heart-warming novel that fans of the series will love. I enjoyed revisiting the quaint, picturesque village of Hartley-by-the-Sea and glimpsing characters from the previous books.  A Mother Like Mine can stand alone if you haven’t read the first two books. There’s an excerpt from Rainy Day Sisters (book 1) at the end – along with a Readers Guide.


 

The Bookshop At Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry

  • Title:  The Bookshop At Water’s End
  • Author:  Patti Callahan Henry
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  July 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

My take:  When Bonny and Lainey were girls their families were summer friends in the small coastal town of Water’s End. They did everything together and were even called the “Summer Sisters” by some of the locals. The summer they were 13 something horrible happened and their families never returned to Water’s End. Bonny’s family owned the house where both families stayed and now Bonny was the owner. She’d fixed it up and rented it out over the years but now she was going to prepare to sell it. That was the plan but one night changed everything. Bonny, an ER doctor, makes an error that has devastating consequences. She decided to retreat to Water’s End and take her 19-year-old daughter Piper with her. Piper just flunked out of her first year of college and finds solace in a bottle of Jack Daniels. Mother and daughter need a change and Bonny hopes the river house will help. She also calls Lainey who promised to be there any time Bonny needed her. They’d both made that promise. The thing is, Lainey never wants to see Water’s End again. It holds so many bad memories. Like the true friend she is though she packs up her two young children and heads back to Bonny.

The three women will support and maybe even help each other find answers to large and small questions. I love novels like this – a lovely, lush setting, positive women, and relatable challenges. Patti Callahan Henry’s story pulled me in and I enjoyed every minute spent with her characters. I loved the words of wisdom shared by Mimi, the bookstore owner. “The soul needs story and meaning to help us endure this life… Books can be medicine for the heart...”  I know this to be true.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels include The Idea of Love, Driftwood Summer, and The Art of Keeping Secrets. She lives with her husband and three children in Mountain Brook, Alabama.

TOUR DATES:

Visit http://www.patticallahanhenry.com/events/ for the full tour details.

Birmingham, AL • July 10
Decatur, GA • July 11
Woodstock, GA • July 12
Charleston, SC • July 13
Florence, SC • July 13
Pawley’s Island, SC • July 14
Beaufort, SC • July 14
Bluffton, SC • July 15
Savannah, GA • July 15
Columbia, SC • July 16
Maryville, TN • July 17
Lake Lure, NC • July 18
Laurens, SC • July 18
Hochston, GA • July 19
Marietta, GA • July 19
Dothan, AL • July 20
Apalachicola, FL • July 20
Panama City, FL • July 21
Spartanburg, SC • July 22
Greenville, SC • July 23
Nashville, TN • July 27
Macon, GA • July 31
Fair Haven, NJ • August 2
Manasquan, NJ • August 3

PRAISE FOR THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END

“With an eloquent and effective narrative, a realistic continuing theme of unbreakable relationship bonds, and a fantastic multilayered story line of secrets, regrets, and a good dose of teenage drama, this is a solid summer read.” Library Journal

The Bookshop at Water’s End carries us along the graceful curves and outwardly serene storyline of two childhood friends returning to their summer riverside home. But like the river she writes about, Patti’s plot roils with strong undercurrents of murky secrets, tragedy and the pulsing tides of self-discovery. No one writes about the power of family and friends like Patti Callahan Henry. The Bookshop at Water’s End is a must-read for your summer!” —Mary Alice MonroeNew York Times bestselling author of Beach House for Rent

“Patti Callahan Henry’s stories are always woven with magic and mystery, and The Bookshop at Water’s End knots these elements into a deeply satisfying and heartfelt tale of loss and betrayal, friendship and forgiveness. The sun is shining, the tide is turning, summer and Patti Henry’s latest masterpiece beckon. Resistance is futile!” —Mary Kay AndrewsNew York Times bestselling author of The Weekenders

“Patti Callahan Henry has written the best novel of her career with The Bookshop at Water’s End. I absolutely adored it and predict it will be one of the most loved books of the year.  In fact, it’s so good I wish I’d written it myself!” —Dorothea Benton FrankNew York Times bestselling author of Same Beach, Next Year

“I adore Patti Callahan Henry’s new novel. The Bookshop at Water’s End is a juicy summer read about family secrets, forgotten friendships, and the power of books to change our lives.” —Jane GreenNew York Times bestselling author of The Sunshine Sisters

“From the very first page, Patti Callahan Henry draws you in like the tide, revealing long simmering secrets that will test family and friendships and explores the question: do we tell our stories or do our stories tell us? In lush, lyrical prose, Henry explores the power of forgiveness, especially in ourselves. Every page was a treat.” —Laura Lane McNeal, bestselling author of Dollbaby


 

The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White – plus a US Giveaway of Flight Patterns

  • Title:  The Night the Lights Went Out
  • Author:  Karen White
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  April 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.
 
Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.
 
Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather’s world.
 
In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women….  (publisher)

My take:  The Night the Lights Went Out is the story of two women: Merilee, a divorced mother of two young children, and Sugar, the ninety-three year old woman who rents a cottage on her land to Merilee.

Merilee is recently divorced and has moved to a different area of town so her children are enrolled in a new school – where she is quickly taken under the wing of the queen bee mom. Her new friend will do anything for her in the name of friendship – something Merilee isn’t used to but is grateful. Her life has been in a complete state of upheaval so she’s glad to have a friend.

Sugar comes off as aloof and cranky to most people but Merilee can see through that facade and doesn’t back down when Sugar gives her attitude. The two women form a friendship in spite of themselves. I enjoyed their relationship as it evolved as they discovered how much they had in common. And when things got tough they found they could rely on each other.

The Night the Lights Went Out is a story about love, revenge, and friendship. It’s about realizing who your real friends are and what that means. It made me think about my closest friends and how we would step up for each other – no questions asked. And everyone should be so fortunate to have a Sugar in their life.

Recommended to fans of Karen White and contemporary fiction.


Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, The Night the Lights Went OutFlight PatternsThe Sound of GlassA Long Time Gone, and The Time Between. She is the coauthor of The Forgotton Room with New York Times bestselling authors Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. She grew up in London but now lives with her husband and two children near Atlanta, Georgia.


Note:  Flight Patterns, Karen White’s 2016 novel is now available in paperback (with a new cover). I linked the title to my review. FLIGHT PATTERNS tells the story of Georgia Chambers, a fine china expert who left her family years before and is forced to return home and repair the relationships she’s carefully avoided. To embrace her own life—mistakes and all—she will have to find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past and the secrets she was forced to keep.

The publisher has made available one copy of FLIGHT PATTERNS to a US reader.

US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Giveaway ends on May 3rd, 2017

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

  • i-see-youTitle:  I See You
  • Author:  Clare Mackintosh
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  February 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…
 
It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com. 
 
Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. 
 
And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…  (publisher)

My take:  The description will tell you all you need to know before reading I See You. What I will say is that author Clare Mackintosh lulled me into a feeling of “is this going anywhere?” for a good part of the book. That’s not to say I was bored or uninterested. I enjoyed the unfolding of the story. I think she paced it slowly for a reason and then opened up a can of Whoa! in the last quarter of the book.

I agree with the Advance Praise below. It’s creepy and sinister. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t correctly guess who was behind the crime. I would love to read more about the investigation team in future books. Each detective seems to have a story that I’d be interested in knowing. Recommended to fans of the genre and Clare Mackintosh.



Advance praise for I SEE YOU:

A deliciously creepy tale of urban paranoia.”—Ruth Ware, author of The Woman in Cabin 10

Wonderfully sinister. Had me looking over my shoulder.”—Fiona Barton, author of The Widow

 “Mackintosh scripts a hair-raising ride all the scarier because its premise—that our predictable routines make us easy targets—is sadly so plausible.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[T]he steadily thickening paranoia will leave readers questioning their comfortable routines…a well-crafted blend of calculated malevolence, cunning plot twists, and redemption that will appeal to fans of Sophie Hannah, Ruth Rendell, and Ruth Ware.”Booklist, starred review

 Packed with suspense, twists, and turns[Mackintosh’s] meticulous detail to investigative accuracy and talent in weaving a thrilling tale set her work apart from others in the field.”Kirkus


 

The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn

  • the-echo-of-twilightTitle:  The Echo of Twilight
  • Author:  Judith Kinghorn
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  January 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description: From the acclaimed author of The Last Summer, a captivating and moving story of the unlikely relationship between a lady and her maid on the eve of World War I.
 
As I watched him—his long legs striding the narrow path through the heather, his golden hair catching the sun—I had a hideous feeling in the pit of my stomach. For it seemed as though he was already marching away from me.
 
In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer. 
 
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever…  (publisher)

My take:  The Echo of Twilight is the story of two women whose lives are forever changed by circumstances beyond their control – most notably World War I. Pearl, a young woman, accepts the position of Ottoline’s lady’s maid. Raised by her spinster great-aunt, Pearl never knew her parents. When her great-aunt died she had no family left and went into service. When she was hired by Lady Ottoline she found a family of sorts – with a few of the staff and the Campbell family.

The Campbells are an interesting family. The two sons are nineteen and twenty-one and ready to fight for their King and Country. When war is declared they leave the family home and go off to fight. Uncertainty and heartache will loom for those left at home in the years to follow. Ottoline, the boys’ mother, proved to be a complex woman whose character was revealed in layers throughout the novel.

The novel is divided into three parts: Before, during, and after the war. Kinghorn’s story was so addicting that I had a hard time setting it down. I’m a fan of historical fiction, especially set in the early 20th century. The Echo of Twilight is an emotional novel that I recommend to fans of the author and the genre. It was the perfect choice for my First Book of the year.


About the author:

Judith Kinghorn is the author of four novels: The Echo of Twilight, The Snow Globe, The Memory of Lost Senses, and The Last Summer. She was born in Northumberland, educated in the Lake District, and is a graduate in English and History of Art. She lives in Hampshire, England, with her husband and two children.