Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

  • Title:  Seven Days of Us
  • Author:  Francesca Hornak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  358
  • Published:  October 2017 – Berkley Hardcover
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.
 
For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while her older sister, Olivia, deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.
 
Their father, Andrew, sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent. But his wife, Emma, is hiding a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.  
 
In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive… (publisher)

My take:  Seven Days of Us is an entertaining and deceptively light novel about a family. The Birches are an interesting group. Andrew, the father, is a snarky restaurant reviewer for a newspaper. Emma, the matriarch, just wants everyone to have the kind of Christmas holiday she remembers from childhood. Altruistic eldest daughter Olivia is a doctor just returned from relief work in Liberia and the reason for the family quarantine. Younger daughter Phoebe is completely self-absorbed and more than a bit annoyed at being forced to spend the holidays with her family instead of her new fiancé. Told from the perspective of each family member, plus a couple of other characters, the chapters are short and follow a day-by-day form that made the novel easy to stop and start reading. This was also a great way to lay out the Birch family’s messy dynamics. It ended up being an emotional read for me – that was unexpected and very much appreciated. Recommended to fans of novels about imperfect families. I loved the setting(s) and the holiday-ness to which I think most readers will relate on one level or another.


AUTHOR BIO

Francesca Hornak is a journalist and writer, whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday TimesThe GuardianElleMarie ClaireCosmopolitan and Red. She is the author of two nonfiction books, History of the World in 100 Modern Objects: Middle Class Stuff (and Nonsense) and Worry with Mother: 101 Neuroses for the Modern Mama. Visit her online @FrancescaHornak.

LINKS


 

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The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson

 

  • Title:  The Christmas Room
  • Author:  Catherine Anderson
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  September 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  When widow Maddie McLendon’s family (her son and teenage grandson) move to their new Montana ranch they know it’ll mean roughing it until their home is built. They’ll live in tents and trailer and make the best of it. Sam Conacher, the cranky rancher who lives next to their land, thinks his new neighbors are gypsies and won’t be issuing a warm welcome any time soon. But all bets are off when Maddie’s adult son falls for Sam’s daughter. And wait until Sam finds out that Maddie is his favorite author! Thoughts of the Hatfield/McCoy feud or the Montague/Capulet story crossed my mind as I read. There are some laugh out loud moments and some that made me cringe. Feelings run deep and for understandable reasons. The challenge for Maddie and Sam is to grow from their experiences and learn that second chances don’t often come along so one has to grab it when it does. The Christmas Room had some heart-warming moments that made for a nice seasonal read. I haven’t read any of Catherine Anderson’s books before but I’d try another one. Recommended to fans of multigenerational novels with a Christmas theme.


 

Blog Tour: A Strange Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray

 

  • Title:  A Strange Scottish Shore
  • Series:  Emmeline Truelove #2
  • Author:  Juliana Gray
  • Genre:  Historical Mystery; Time Travel; Fantasy
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  September 2017 – Berkley

Description:  The acclaimed author of A Most Extraordinary Pursuit brings a dazzling voice and extraordinary plot twists to this captivating Scottish adventure…
 
Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing that, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea and married the castle’s first laird.
 
But Haywood and Truelove soon realize they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide. When their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, their quest takes a dangerous turn through time, which puts Haywood’s extraordinary talents—and Truelove’s courage—to their most breathtaking test yet.  (publisher)

My take:  Emmeline Truelove and Maximilian Haywood, Duke of Olympia, find themselves on another adventure – this time to Scotland. It involves a selkie legend, the Orkney Islands in the 14th century, and a chase like no other that could threaten Truelove’s newfound happiness. No one is more surprised than I that I thoroughly enjoy a time travel series. I love suspending all logic and belief and just go with the story. I guess it’s my kind of adventure. This novel moves from the early 20th century to the 1300s. I love the prim and proper (smart and intuitive, as well) Truelove, her handsome and clever colleague Silverton, and the rather enigmatic Max who seems to know more than he’s letting on. They’re all on the side fighting against evil, this time in the form of a vengeful, potty-mouth, 21st century thug. There’s a mystery to solve and plenty of medieval action scenes. I liked it all and look forward to whatever Juliana Gray comes up with next for Truelove, Silverton, and Haywood. Recommended to fans of time travel/fantasy.


About the author:

Beloved New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams is known for her beautifully wrought historical women’s fiction novels including bestsellers such as, A Hundred Summers, Tiny Little Thing and Along the Infinite Sea. Last fall, under the pseudonym Juliana Gray, fans became familiar with another side of her writing in A Most Extraordinary Pursuit, the first in a historical mystery series unlike anything she had ever written before. Now she is back with the highly anticipated follow up in the Emmeline Truelove series, A STRANGE SCOTTISH SHORE (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; September 19, 2017).


 

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