Spotlight: The Last Night in London

The Last Night In London by Karen White

Pub. date:  April 20, 2021 – Berkley

Content from the publisher

Description:

New York Times bestselling author Karen White weaves a captivating story of friendship, love, and betrayal that moves between war-torn London during the Blitz and the present day.

London, 1939. Beautiful and ambitious Eva Harlow and her American best friend, Precious Dubose, are trying to make their way as fashion models. When Eva falls in love with Graham St. John, an aristocrat and Royal Air Force pilot, she can’t believe her luck—she’s getting everything she ever wanted. Then the Blitz devastates her world, and Eva finds herself slipping into a web of intrigue, spies, and secrets. As Eva struggles to protect her friendship with Precious and everything she holds dear, all it takes is one unwary moment to change their lives forever…

London, 2019. American journalist Maddie Warner, whose life has been marked by the tragic loss of her mother, travels to London to interview Precious about her life in pre-WWII London. Maddie has been careful to close herself off to others, but in Precious she recognizes someone whose grief rivals her own—but unlike Maddie, Precious hasn’t allowed it to crush her.  Maddie finds herself drawn to both Precious and to Colin, her enigmatic surrogate nephew.  As Maddie gets closer to her, she begins to unravel Precious’s haunting past—a story of friendship, betrayal, and the unremembered acts of kindness and of love. (publisher)


About the author:

Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, Dreams of FallingThe Night the Lights Went OutFlight PatternsThe Sound of GlassA Long Time Gone, and The Time Between. She is the coauthor of The Forgotton Room and The Glass Ocean 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.

Lost, Found, and Forever

Lost, Found and Forever by Victoria Schade

Published:  March 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Justine Becker could not be more in love with her rescue dog, Spencer. He’s her best friend and “colleague” at her dog supply store, Tricks & Biscuits, in upstate New York. When she discovers a heartbreaking social media post trying to locate a dog that looks suspiciously like Spencer, Justine realizes that her beloved pup might actually belong to someone else.

Her worst fears are realized when she and Spencer meet up with Brooklyn-based Griffin McCabe, and he wants Spencer back. He claims he is the dog’s rightful owner, and has the paperwork to prove it. But Justine refuses to roll over and let him take Spencer without a fight.

It’s not easy juggling Spencer’s burgeoning new career as a dog actor, along with the demands of her life upstate, all while constantly trying to prove she’s a better pet parent than Griffin. Their not-so-friendly competition teeters on the edge of flat-out hate, so when romantic feelings for Griffin catch Justine off guard, she needs to determine if it’s all part of his plot to win the pup back, or if the guy who was good enough for Spencer might also be good enough for her.  (publisher)

My take:

Justine rescued Spencer, possibly the world’s most adorable dog, and he repaid her by coming to her rescue. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for him including fight for him when his former owner enters the picture. Just when Justine thinks her world can’t get more dramatic Spencer falls into an acting gig that’s being filmed not far from where said former owner lives. Does this sound like a novel that could be a Hallmark movie? I would watch that movie! Lost, Found & Forever has it all:  attractive humans, adorable dog, and just enough drama to make an interesting escape of a read. I enjoyed it!


Spotlight: The Women of Chateau Lafayette

Happy publication day to author Stephanie Dray!

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

Published:  March 30, 2021 – Berkley

Content courtesy of the publisher

Description:

An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy.
 
Most castles are protected by men. This one by women.

A founding mother…

1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary…

1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing—not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France firsthand, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.

A reluctant resistor…

1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

Intricately woven and powerfully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we take from those who came before us.


About the author:

Stephanie Dray is the New York Times bestselling co-author of America’s First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton. Now Dray turns her eye towards the French founding mother Adrienne Lafayette, in an epic generational saga based on Lafayette’s extraordinary castle in the heart of France, and the remarkable women bound by its legacy through revolutionary upheaval and two world wars.


Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West

Published:  March 16, 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

About:

Alice Sullivan, a high-achieving architect and mom of two, is used to being in control. Until life rips the blueprints right out of her hands. 

While she’s always strived for a picture perfect life, Alice’s foundation is rocked when she discovers her daughter is failing reading at school, and worse, her son is a bully, having humiliated a classmate on stage in front of 500 of their peers. Alice feels desperate to make things right, but when she turns to her friends for support, she discovers her own social standing has eroded now that she’s one of “those moms” who can’t control her kids.

As she tries to figure out where she went wrong, her curated life unravels further. She faces setbacks with a key client, her husband travels incessantly for business, and her mother decides to unload a family secret she’s kept for more than thirty years–one that shifts Alice’s entire perception of herself.

Despite her attempts to keep things under control, Alice can no longer rely on a spotless kitchen and an inventive mudroom design to make her feel better. She’s been trying to beat the competition, measuring her success and happiness by everyone else’s standards. Alice finds help, comfort, and strength from unexpected places, once she realizes that no one’s got it all together, and that maybe that’s okay. (publisher)

My take:  This is one of those novels that makes me glad I raised my kids before the dawn of social media. Not without challenges but bringing kids through the 80s, 90s and into the oughts seems a walk in the park compared to today. I fielded calls from the school principal on an almost weekly basis for one of my kids. Thank goodness I didn’t have to read about said child on numerous social platforms.

Anyway, when Alice’s seemingly wonderful life flips on her she is forced to face her reality and rethink what is truly important. Fans of mommy lit – women’s fiction will relate because we’ve all been there or know someone who has.


About the author:

Kathleen West is a veteran middle and high-school teacher. She graduated with a degree in English from Macalester College and holds a Master’s degree in literacy education from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Minneapolis with her hilarious husband, two sporty sons, and very bad goldendoodle.


 

Spotlight on: One Snowy Night

One Snowy Night by Patience Griffin

Published:  February 2021 – Berkley

Content from the publisher

Description:

A woman struggling to raise her daughter alone in a small Alaskan town finds her simple existence upended when the father of her child returns. . . .
 
Sweet Home, Alaska, was once a thriving, idyllic town, where A Stone’s Throw Hardware and Haberdashery and the Sisterhood of the Quilt were the cornerstones of the community. Then, in one fatal moment, two young lives were cut short, and everything changed. Now the Stone family businesses have closed, the diner is in the red, and the population has dwindled to 573.
 
After the tragic accident that took her sister’s life, Hope McKnight discovered she was pregnant, and gave up her dreams of college to raise her daughter. When Donovan Stone returns to sell his family’s properties and to cut final ties with Sweet Home, he’s shocked to find Hope still there–and a single mother. The pull between Hope and Donovan is as powerful as ever. But so are the secrets and lies stemming from that long-ago tragedy. Will they be able to overcome the past, or will the heartbreak of bygone days destroy their love again? 

About the author:

Patience Griffin is the award-winning author of the Kilts and Quilts series of contemporary romances. She grew up in a small town along the Mississippi River, enjoying life in a close-knit community. She loves to quilt and has gained national recognition with her September 11 Story Quilt, which has toured the country as the property of the Pentagon, and her extensive collection of commercially available quilting fabrics.

Photo credit:  Berkley Jove


 

Surviving Savannah

My daughter Katie is back with a guest review today! 

 

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

Published:  March 2021 – Berkley

Finished copy courtesy of the publisher 

Description:

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah’s society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving. (publisher)

Katie’s take: Patti Callahan’s newest novel ‘Surviving Savannah‘ kept me up reading long past my bedtime and demanded to be finished the next afternoon.  Her vibrant descriptions of both present day Savannah and the antebellum South seemed to pulsate with color, scent, life and love.  I was enveloped by this delightful novel.  I enjoyed the dual timeline thoroughly and could not pick which story line I liked better.  She developed rich characters and gave them room to stretch and grow through tremendous tragedy.  I also appreciate that Ms. Callahan includes an author’s note detailing which parts of her beautiful novel are factual and which are inspired or imagined.


 

An Unexpected Peril

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn

Published:  March 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

A princess is missing and a peace treaty is on the verge of collapse in this new Veronica Speedwell adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

January 1889. As the newest member of the Curiosity Club–an elite society of brilliant, intrepid women–Veronica Speedwell is excited to put her many skills to good use. As she assembles a memorial exhibition for pioneering mountain climber Alice Baker-Greene, Veronica discovers evidence that the recent death was not a tragic climbing accident but murder. Veronica and her natural historian beau, Stoker, tell the patron of the exhibit, Princess Gisela of Alpenwald, of their findings. With Europe on the verge of war, Gisela’s chancellor, Count von Rechstein, does not want to make waves–and before Veronica and Stoker can figure out their next move, the princess disappears.

Having noted Veronica’s resemblance to the princess, von Rechstein begs her to pose as Gisela for the sake of the peace treaty that brought the princess to England. Veronica reluctantly agrees to the scheme. She and Stoker must work together to keep the treaty intact while navigating unwelcome advances, assassination attempts, and Veronica’s own family–the royalty who has never claimed her. (publisher)

My take:  An Unexpected Peril is another fun adventure for Veronica and Stoker. They want to find out who murdered a renowned mountain climber. And, since she so closely resembles the suddenly missing Princess of Alpenwald (a tiny and fictional mountainous country), Veronica will pose as Princess Gisela during an exhibit honoring the dead climber. I’m laughing as I write this and I laughed a lot while reading the book. I love the dry wit and consternation Veronica and Stoker have with each other and other people in general. The duo find themselves in the midst of royal political machinations that could put them in quite a jam. It was an enjoyable read and can stand alone for readers new to the series – so don’t let the fact that this is the sixth book stop you from jumping on the Veronica and Stoker train!


 

The Minders

The Minders by John Marrs

Published:  February 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect… (publisher)

My take:  I have to confess I’m not much of a sci-fi reader but every once in a while I dip my toe into the genre. This is the third of John Marrs’ books I’ve read and I think I will always read his latest offering. They are entertaining, relatable (ok that might be a stretch) but they are believable enough to draw me along for the thrilling ride. So, all that said, I decided early on to just sit back and watch the story unfold. It’s one of those novels that a character list and brief description helped me keep things straight. Still, I had to pause occasionally to think about what was going on. Confusing? At times. Enjoyable? To the extent that I’m not a fan of violent acts in my reading, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book. It’s extremely violent in parts and quite tender in some. All in all, I enjoyed it but be warned that this will fool with your mind – what is real and what is created to seem real?


 

The Nature of Fragile Things

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

Published:  February 2, 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin’s silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin’s odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn’t right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.

From the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War and As Bright as Heaven comes a gripping novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity. (publisher)

My take:  The Nature of Fragile Things is a captivating story about a young woman in New York City who answers an ad to become the wife of a man in California. Within a month she becomes his wife and step-mother to his five year old daughter. The year is 1906 and Sophie Whalen can’t believe her good fortune: a handsome and quiet man, a step-daughter she adores and a beautiful new home. She feels content and safe for the first time in a very long while.

But everyone has secrets. And those secrets soon become known. Add in the horrendous San Francisco earthquake and you’ve got the makings of a compelling novel that is quite the page turner! Once again, Susan Meissner has written a novel I didn’t want to end. Recommended to fans of Historical Fiction, stories about family and friendship, and Susan Meissner.


 

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

Published:  April 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than two hundred years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love. Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily-single baker at her grandfather’s Brooklyn deli, claim it’s an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it’s a true hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she’ll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her eightieth birthday, and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all.
 
Against the backdrop of wandering Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, and enchanting Amalfi Coast villages, romance blooms, destinies are found, and family secrets are unearthed—secrets that could threaten the family far more than a centuries-old curse. (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of two young women, cousins, who find out what could be possible in their lives if they would take a chance. When their great-aunt Poppy invites them to visit Italy with her they almost immediately shut that idea down. She won’t take no for an answer though and soon they take off on a life-changing trip. I adored Aunt Poppy, hoped for the best for Emilia, and found a place in my heart for her polar-opposite cousin Lucy. This is the story of secrets born out of desperation and their far-reaching effect on so many people. I really enjoyed this novel and kept thinking it would make a great movie. I loved the Italian setting and endearing and larger-than-life characters brought to life by Lori Nelson Spielman. This is one of those books that had me shedding a few happy tears at the end. I love when that happens!


About the author:

Lori Nelson Spielman in the New York Times bestselling author of The Life List and Sweet Forgiveness. She is a former speech pathologist, guidance counselor, and homebound teacher. She enjoys fitness running, traveling, and reading, though writing is her true passion. She lives in Michigan with her husband.

lorinelsonspielman.com

twitter.com/lnelsonspielman


 

Murder on Cold Street

Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas

Published:  October 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Inspector Treadles, Charlotte Holmes’s friend and collaborator, has been found locked in a room with two dead men, both of whom worked with his wife at the great manufacturing enterprise she has recently inherited. 
 
Rumors fly. Had Inspector Treadles killed the men because they had opposed his wife’s initiatives at every turn? Had he killed in a fit of jealous rage, because he suspected Mrs. Treadles of harboring deeper feelings for one of the men? To make matters worse, he refuses to speak on his own behalf, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.
 
Charlotte finds herself in a case strewn with lies and secrets. But which lies are to cover up small sins, and which secrets would flay open a past better left forgotten? Not to mention, how can she concentrate on these murders, when Lord Ingram, her oldest friend and sometime lover, at last dangles before her the one thing she has always wanted? (publisher)

My take:  It’s the week before Christmas (1886) and Charlotte Holmes is tasked with solving a double murder in which the prime suspect is Inspector Treadles. What looks like an open and shut case to some is clearly not to Charlotte, Lord Ingram, and company. As they investigate, the clues they discover lead them into a complex crime that will unveil astonishing details about members of the community. Do the principals involved truly know those closest to them? I had no idea how the crime would be solved but I needn’t have worried because Sherry Thomas always comes through. I enjoyed the Christmas setting, the growing relationship between Charlotte and Lord Ingram, and the cast of characters who are Holmes’s inner circle. I have an idea where the next book might go and can’t wait to find out if I’m right.


 

She Gets That From Me

 

She Gets That From Me by Robin Wells

Published:  September 22, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Quinn never expected that her best friend’s courageous decision to be a single mother by choice would end up transforming her own life in this poignant novel from USA Today bestselling author Robin Wells.
 
When Quinn Langston’s best friend unexpectedly passes away, Quinn embraces Brooke’s three-year-old daughter Lily and elderly grandmother Margaret as the family she’s always wanted.  She’ll do whatever it takes to help them heal, but she didn’t anticipate Lily’s biological father would be part of the plan. Margaret is old-fashioned, though, and she has no compunction about finding a way to reach Lily’s dad, a sperm donor. After all, he’s a blood relative, and she believes family should raise family.
 
 Zack Bradley doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out he has a child. Sperm donors don’t usually get to meet their…well, he’s not sure what to call Lily yet, but he’s certain he wants to get to know her. There’s just one of problem: he’s about to move to Seattle with his wife, Jessica, who’s undergone multiple infertility treatments, desperately wants a family of her own and can’t stand the idea of Zack playing daddy to another woman’s child.
 
Together, they’ll all learn that the human heart is infinitely expandable and there are many different roads to family. (publisher)

My take:  When the unthinkable happens to Quinn’s best friend she steps in to care for 3 year old Lily(who was conceived via donor from a fertility center) and her great-grandmother Margaret. Around this time Zack and his wife Jessica are going through their own infertility heartbreak. I won’t spoil how all the principals are drawn together but at one point I highlighted this passage:

‘ “Good Lord – sounds like an episode of Maury Povich just happened in here,” the aide whispers to the therapist.’  – (location 4145)

That was definitely the vibe I was getting while reading but I also think author Robin Wells wrote with heart and empathy. No matter how selfishly I believe Jessica acted Wells still let me find some sympathy for her situation.

The subject of infertility could be a trigger for some readers and that’s what this novel is about. It got a bit soapy at times but if you like to read novels about all kinds of families you’ll want to add She Gets That From Me to your list. I’m glad I had the chance to discover Robin Wells and will be interested to see what she writes next.


About the author:

Robin Wells was an advertising and public relations executive before becoming a full-time writer. She always dreamed of writing novels–a dream inspired by a grandmother who told “hot tales” and parents who were both librarians. Her books have won the RWA Golden Heart, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and numerous other awards. She now lives in Texas with her husband, but will always be a Louisiana girl at heart.

Author photo credit: Arden Wells


 

One Step Behind

One Step Behind by Lauren North

Published:  September 1, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Jenna is a wife, a mother, a doctor. She’s also the victim of a stalker. Frightening “gifts” are left on her doorstep, her home is broken in to, and when she leaves her house to take her children to school, he’s waiting. She feels powerless, and the police are unable to help.

Then her stalker is brought into the emergency room after a terrible accident, and Jenna has to treat the man who’s been tormenting her for months. With her stalker in a coma, Jenna is desperate to understand the life of this seemingly normal man. When she finds startling images on his phone, she is consumed by her need for answers–and her own obsession leads her down a twisting path of destruction.

Just how far is Jenna willing to go to take back control of her life? (publisher)

My take:  Jenna, a doctor, has been stalked for the past year. She finds disturbing things left on her doorstep and is beyond frustrated because the local DS on the case hasn’t come up with any leads despite all the clues. When the suspect ends up in Jenna’s A&E she must treat him which goes against her current instincts. With him recovering in the hospital Jenna can finally catch her breath knowing the threat is gone. Or is it?

Lauren North’s novel kept me guessing who the culprit was as I learned more about Jenna and the people in her life. I enjoyed it and look forward to North’s next book. Recommended to fans of domestic and psychological suspense. 


 

The Last Mrs. Summers

The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen

Published:  August 4, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: 

I am a bit at loose ends at the moment. My cook, Queenie, is making my new role as mistress of Eynsleigh something akin to constant torture as Darcy is off on another one of his top secret jaunts. And Grandad is busy helping wayward youths avoid lives of crime. So when my dearest friend, Belinda, inherits an old cottage in Cornwall and begs me to go with her to inspect the property, I jump at the chance.

After a heart-stopping journey in Belinda’s beast of a motorcar, we arrive at the creaky old cottage called White Sails and quickly realize that it is completely uninhabitable. Just when I’m starting to wonder if I would have been better off trying to get Queenie to cook a roast that hasn’t been burnt beyond all recognition, we meet Rose Summers, a woman Belinda knew as a child when she spent time in Cornwall. Rose invites us to stay at Trewoma Hall, the lovely estate now owned by her husband, Tony.

Belinda confesses that she never liked Rose and had a fling with Tony years ago, so staying with them is far from ideal but beggars can’t be choosers as they say. Trewoma is not the idyllic house Belinda remembers. There’s something claustrophobic and foreboding about the place. Matters aren’t helped by the oppressively efficient housekeeper Mrs. Mannering or by the fact that Tony seems to want to rekindle whatever he and Belinda once had right under his wife’s nose.

Our increasingly awkward visit soon turns deadly when a member of the household is found murdered and all clues point to Belinda as the prime suspect. I soon learn that some long buried secrets have come back to haunt those in residence at Trewoma Hall and I’ll need to sift through the ruins of their past so Belinda doesn’t lose her chance at freedom in the present. . . .  (publisher)

My take: I haven’t visited Georgie, Darcy, and company for quite a while. I read the first few books in the series and then it got away from me. That’s all to say I wasn’t lost jumping back in at this late date.

Darcy is off on assignment leaving Georgie at loose ends. When Belinda asks her to accompany her as she takes a look at a Cornwall cottage she’s inherited Georgie accepts. In due course they find themselves involved in a mystery and among the suspects of a murder. Sounds serious, doesn’t it? Well, parts are but other parts are laugh out loud funny. I was completely invested in the crime solving and can’t wait to read another of this wonderful series. Highly recommended to fans of the genre!

Note: I also used an Audible credit to listen when I couldn’t sit and read. Narrator Jasmine Blackborow did a fabulous job voicing the various characters. What a treat!


 

Murder In The East End

Murder in the East End by Jennifer Ashley

Published:  August 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London’s Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing and one of their nurses has been murdered, she can’t turn away. She enlists the help of her charming and enigmatic confidant Daniel McAdam, who has ties to Scotland Yard, and Errol Fielding, a disreputable man from Daniel’s troubled past, to bring the killer to justice. Their investigation takes them from the grandeur of Mayfair to the slums of the East End, during which Kat learns more about Daniel and his circumstances than she ever could have imagined. (publisher)

My take:  Kat Holloway is a talented cook in a big Mayfair home. She loves her kitchen staff and assorted people associated with the house. One of those people is deliveryman Daniel McAdam. He’s a mystery man and much more than his job title implies. In this book Kat is drawn into a case of missing children from the Foundling Hospital. This case involved a relative of Daniel’s and a very seedy side of London. Because of Kat’s past Daniel is sure she can help with the investigation. Kind-hearted Kat will do anything to help find the children – as will her friends and associates. I was satisfied with the resolution. Not all strings are tied though which leaves things open for the next book.

I like the glimpses of downstairs life that Jennifer Ashley gives readers in this series. I also like the pace of the development of Kat and Daniel’s relationship. A bit more is shown in each book and I’m always left eager to read the next book. I look forward to seeing what Kat and company will be doing next time.


 

A Little Bit Of Grace

A Little Bit Of Grace by Phoebe Fox

Published:  August 11, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Family is everything—Grace Adams McHale’s mom must have said it to her a thousand times before she died. Before Grace’s dad ran off with an aspiring actress half his age. Before only-child Grace found out she was unable to have children of her own. Before Brian—her childhood best friend, business partner, and finally her husband—dropped a “bombshell” on her in the form of her stunning new replacement.

Which means Grace now has…nothing.

Until she receives a letter from a woman claiming to be a relative Grace never knew she had, sending her on a journey from the childhood home she had to move back into, to a Florida island to meet a total stranger who embraces her as family. There, Grace starts to uncover answers about the eccentric woman her family never mentioned: a larger-than-life octogenarian who is the keeper of a secret held for more than fifty years, and the ultimate inspiration to always be true to yourself. As Grace gets to know this woman and picks up the pieces of her own shattered life, she is forced to question whether she can find forgiveness for the unforgivable. (publisher)

My take:  Grace married the boy next door, her best friend, and they practiced law in the same firm. A HEA if I ever read one. And then Grace’s husband told her he wasn’t happy and they divorced. There’s more to their story and when faced with the last straw Grace realized she needed a change of scenery. She flew to Florida to visit her (newly found) great-aunt Milly. I loved Milly and Grace and the way they got to know each other. Milly had a lot to teach Grace and Grace was family that Milly didn’t know she had – what a gift! This is a story about finding the courage to take a new direction. It’s about trusting yourself first and accepting (some) change as a new normal. I loved this heartfelt story and recommend to fans of women’s fiction. I  can’t wait to see what Phoebe Fox writes next.


 

Cover Reveal: Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

SURVIVING SAVANNAH by New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan

Berkley hardcover; on-sale March 9, 2021

Pre-order link: https://bit.ly/3i9VQ4Y

New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan delivers a breathtaking novel based on true events.
It was called “The Titanic of the South”—the luxury steamship that sank in 1838 with Savannah’s elite on board. Through time, their fates were forgotten—until the wreck was found.

Now their story is finally being told.

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who, along with her child, was never found. The women were part of Savannah society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

Perfect for fans of Before We Were Yours, Sold on a Monday, and Orphan Train, Callahan’s highly anticipated novel tells the story of a little known chapter of history that has long deserved a spotlight. This transformative tale told from alternating past and present perspectives will sweep readers away and move them to their core.


Q&A with Patti Callahan

 

What inspired you to write Surviving Savannah?

 

Originally I was inspired by the Pulaski tales of survival, how the city of Savannah was part of this story, and how the Lowcountry was affected by this tragedy. I was also inspired and curious about the transformation of each passenger and the ways that each survivor not only lived through the explosion, but also how they chose to live their lives after the sinking.

How, I wondered, do some come to live better lives and others turn toward bitterness and cruelty? Who do we become after such great loss?

AND then, everything shifted because after a hundred and eighty years, along came a shipwreck hunting crew who found the remains of the Pulaski a hundred feet beneath the waves, thirty miles off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. While the team went deep to bring up the artifacts and treasure of this beautiful ship, I dug deep to bring up the stories.

My exhilarating hunt for the forgotten story began.

 

What kind of research was required to write the novel? Did anything surprise you?

 

The research was as fascinating as it was extensive – from the archives at the Georgia Historical Center in Savannah and the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum to books, newspaper archives, personal accounts and letters, I read everything that I could get my hands on. I devoured books on steamships and Savannah in the 1800’s. I read about the rich history of the colonization of Savannah with General Oglethorpe. I walked the streets of Savannah and visited museums and artifact collections. I interviewed shipwreck experts and became enchanted with the world of wreck salvaging and treasure hunting.

During this journey, I was surprised over and over, but one surprise that opens the novel is the true narrative about a fifteen-year-old passenger named Charles who survived the sinking to become a slave trader with a horrific reputation. As he grew into a man, he earned the nickname “the Red Devil”. How had this young boy survived to become so cruel? I wanted to know.

Finally, after years of research, I put together a complete story of that calamitous night, and one family in particular.

 

Your story follows three women – Lily and Augusta on the ship in 1838, and Everly in present day. Which of the three women did you relate to the most and why?

 

While I was writing each section I always felt the most connected to the woman I was writing about at the moment. I don’t think I felt more for one woman than another but of course our modern-day character, Everly felt more relatable only because I know today’s Savannah and I know today’s southern norms and ideas. The historical narratives were almost two hundred years old, and yet I still felt as close to Lilly and Augusta because their plight and their desires and their inner lives feel familiar. As far as women have come in their roles in society, there is still the struggle for independence and agency. There remains the need to burst through familial and collective norms to build a life of one’s own.

All three women had their own tragedies, hardships and losses to navigate. All three needed to discover how they would make meaning and purpose out of their situation. All three found out what they were truly made of and if they wanted to merely survive or if they wanted to thrive and build new lives.


Advance Digital Copy Giveaways

You can enter for a chance to win an advanced digital review copy of the book here: https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/surviving-savannah-cover-reveal-sweeps

(NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. US Residents, 18+. Ends August 17, 2020. See official rules at official website.)


Add SURVIVING SAVANNAH to your shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54306882-surviving-savannah

 

Visit Patti online: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/surviving-savannah


 

Spotlight: Murder In The East End

Tomorrow, August 4th, is publication day for the newest installment of the Kat Holloway Mysteries so I wanted to spotlight Murder In The East End. I look forward to reading and reviewing in the next few weeks!

Murder In The East End by Jennifer Ashley

Expected publication date:  August 4, 2020 – Berkley

Description:

The fourth Victorian murder mystery in the Kat Holloway series from the New York Times bestselling author of Death in Kew Gardens.

When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London’s Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing, she can’t turn a blind eye. East End parish vicar Errol Fielding has his suspicions, but the police brush him off, and Kat–and his childhood acquaintance Daniel McAdam–are his last option.

Kat and Daniel are determined to solve the mystery, and Kat engages the help of her scullery maid, Elsie, who reveals she had been a foundling. Their investigation takes them to the less hospitable areas of London, including the very streets where Kat grew up. She soon suspects the answers they seek are much closer to home than any of them realized–and may reveal far more than any of them wants.


About the author:

Jennifer Ashley is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Below Stairs Mysteries, the Shifters Unbound paranormal romances, and the Mackenzies historical romances. She also writes as USA Today bestselling mystery author Ashley Gardner. Jennifer lives in the Southwest with her husband and cats, and she spends most of her time in the wonderful worlds of her stories.

Praise for Jennifer Ashley’s Below the Stairs Mysteries

This is one of my favorite new series. Ashley writes exquisite historical romance and equally marvelous mysteries.” The Washington Post

“A smart and suspenseful read, Death Below Stairs is a fun series launch that will leave you wanting more.” —Bustle

An exceptional series launch…Readers will look forward to this fascinating lead’s future endeavors.” —Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)

“A top-notch new series that deftly demonstrates Ashley’s mastery of historical mysteries by delivering an impeccably researched setting, a fascinating protagonist with an intriguing past, and lively writing seasoned with just the right measure of dry wit.” —Booklist


 

The Request

The Request by David Bell

Published:  June 30, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Ryan Francis has it all—great job, wonderful wife, beautiful child—and he loves posting photos of his perfect life on social media. Until the night his friend Blake asks him to break into a woman’s home to retrieve incriminating items that implicate Blake in an affair. Ryan refuses to help, but when Blake threatens to reveal Ryan’s darkest secret—which could jeopardize everything in Ryan’s life—Ryan has no choice but to honor Blake’s request.

When he arrives at the woman’s home, Ryan is shocked to find her dead—and just as shocked to realize he knows her. Then his phone chimes, revealing a Facebook friend request from the woman. With police sirens rapidly approaching, Ryan flees, wondering why his friend was setting him up for murder.
 
Determined to keep his life intact and to clear his name, Ryan must find the real murderer—but solving the crime may lead him closer to home than he ever could have imagined. (publisher)

My take:  The Request is a story of what happens when the past doesn’t stay in the past. In these days of social media the past is only a click away. Ryan thought his friend Blake was one of those people you’re friends with during a certain time of your life. They were roommates in college and share a secret from those days. With a wife and new baby, life is good for Ryan – until Blake contacts him with a specific request. It’s a request Ryan can’t refuse if he wants things to stay the way they are. Ryan’s life might look perfect on Facebook but it could easily get very messy.

This was a twisty mystery! I loved the short chapters that kept me reading “just one more” until I finished (in one day). The Request is the first of David Bell’s books I’ve read and I look forward to checking out his backlist.


 

How The Penguins Saved Veronica

How The Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior

Published:  June 16, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Eighty-five-year-old Veronica McCreedy is estranged from her family and wants to find a worthwhile cause to leave her fortune to. When she sees a documentary about penguins being studied in Antarctica, she tells the scientists she’s coming to visit—and won’t take no for an answer. Shortly after arriving, she convinces the reluctant team to rescue an orphaned baby penguin. He becomes part of life at the base, and Veronica’s closed heart starts to open. 

Her grandson, Patrick, comes to Antarctica to make one last attempt to get to know his grandmother. Together, Veronica, Patrick, and even the scientists learn what family, love, and connection are all about. (publisher)

My take:  How the Penguins Saved Veronica is a lovely story about Veronica McCreedy. She’s on a mission to see penguins up close after watching a television documentary. No one can tell the octogenarian no because once she’s made up her mind there will be no argument. Veronica also wants to meet and get to know her grandson – someone she’s only recently discovered. The two will learn about each other’s past and could possibly grow to be close. This is a delightfully quirky story that had me laughing much of the time. There are also some deeply emotional scenes that gave depth to Veronica and Patrick. I enjoyed it all and loved the message spoken to Veronica by her father when she was a young girl: “There are three types of people in this world, Very. There are those who make the world worse, those who make no difference and those who make the world better. Be one who makes the world better, Very, if you can.”