Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

My take:

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for granting my request to read Good Luck With That.

I’ve dealt with weight issues most of my life. More like body image issues when I come to think of it. Having grown up in the sixties and seventies I wished I could look like the girls on tv sitcoms (Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, etc). Those girls were slim and had long straight center-parted hair and I was average shape with dark naturally curly hair that had a mind of its own. I remember the day the female freshman PE teacher weighed us and measured our height. I was 5’6 and weighed 120 lbs. I felt huge – so much taller and bigger than my classmates. Talk about poor self-image, huh? So that’s what I brought with me when I read Good Luck With That.

Kristan Higgins is on my trusted favorite authors list – meaning I’ll read whatever she writes. But this one was a tough read for me. It hit so close to home on a few levels. Not exactly though – because my mother wasn’t as purposely (cluelessly?) hurtful as Georgia’s. No, my mom was well-meaning and thought she offered positive encouragement. Sigh.

So this novel is about three friends who met at a camp for overweight teenage girls. They formed a bond that carried over into adulthood. As often happens after college they met less often and kind of lost track of one friend, Emerson, because she lived hours away. Sadly, their last time to meet is when she’s dying.

After Emerson’s funeral Marley and Georgia open an envelope containing the list they compiled at camp when they were seventeen. It’s a list of things they’ll do when they are skinny. Emerson has requested they do the things on the list and that leads them to examining their relationship with food, men, family, etc.

Good Luck With That is written in Higgins’ usual warm, emotional style. Her characters’ families drew laughs and winces from me. I loved seeing Georgia and Marley take more control of their issues and discover how empowering that control can be. Filled with (mostly) delightful and endearing secondary characters I have to say this novel grew on me. What started as a book I had to put down a few times in the beginning due to certain scenes and topics, I finished the second half in a few hours. I’m glad I had the chance to read it. I think it would be a good selection for book groups – there’s a reader’s guide at the end.


 

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Spotlight/Review: Our House by Louise Candlish

Our House by Louise Candlish

Berkley Hardcover; August 7, 2018

Review copy courtesy of Berkley

Description:  (content provided by the publisher)

“An artfully plotted, affecting page-turner…Candlish manages to stash a couple of trump cards, setting up a truly killer climax. American fans of domestic suspense will want to see more from this talented author.” Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

 

“The last line will make you literally shout with shock.” —Good Housekeeping


US Giveaway: The Night The Lights Went Out by Karen White

THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT

Berkley Trade Paperback | March 27, 2018 | ISBN: 9780451488404| $16.00

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About the book:  (provided by the publisher)

In THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT, recently divorced Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over. But her new beginning isn’t helped by an anonymous local blog that reveals for the whole town the scandalous affair that caused her marriage to fail. And Merilee’s new landlord, the proud, irascible, Atlanta born-and-bred 93-year-old Sugar Prescott, certainly isn’t helping.

 

But off Sugar’s property, Merilee finds herself swallowed into Sweet Apple’s most elite ranks—its inner circle of wealthy school moms—thanks to her blossoming friendship with the belle of the town, Heather Blackford. But behind the tennis whites, shiny SUVs, and immaculate women, lurk generations of secrets and resentments. And Merilee quickly learns that, in a town where appearance is everything, sins and secrets can be found in equal measure in the dark woods on Sugar’s property, and within the gated mansions of her newfound friends . . .

 

THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT is what would happen if ABC’s Revenge followed the machinations of Southern PTA moms instead of Hamptons elite.  For readers of Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Alice Monroe, and Pat Conroy, this novel delivers everything her readers love and more.


About the author:

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.

photo credit: Marchet Butler

 


Praise for Karen White:

“PLUMBS THE DEPTH OF HUMANITY, OF LIFE AND DEATH AND TRAGEDY AND PERSERVERANCE” The Herald Sun“GOTHIC GOLD” The Atlantan “ULTIMATE VOICE IN WOMEN’S FICTION” Fresh Fiction “EMOTIONALLY SATISFYING” Kirkus Reviews • “HER ICONIC MELLIFLUENT, INNOVATIVE NARRATIVE IS HAUNGTINGLY BEAUTIFUL” RT Book Reviews • “CHARACTERS WITH DEPTH” The Fayetteville Observer “ENGROSSING” Parkersburg News and Sentinel (WV) •

“VIVID” Library Journal “SENSITIVE, PRECISE, AND POWERFUL” RT Book Reviews


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED


Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

  • Title:  Death Below Stairs
  • Series:  Kat Holloway #1
  • Author:  Jennifer Ashley
  • Genre:  Historical Mystery
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  January 2018 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Beloved young cook Kat Holloway charms readers with her fierce sincerity as she takes on a new position in the household of powerful Lord Rankin.

Kat discovers a slew of odd characters living in the Rankin manor, from a lethargic Lady Rankin to her masculine spinster of a sister, to an eccentric cast of servants, and finally a very lustful, tempestuous Lord Rankin. Even more striking, however, is the trouble brewing in the home, which boils over when Kat’s young assistant is found murdered.
 
As Kat and her friend Daniel McAdam begin covertly investigating the murder, they soon find themselves working against a most daunting scheme – can they manage to escape the trouble they’ve cooked up for themselves?  (publisher)
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My take:  Every so often I like to read an historical mystery. I like being able to imagine myself living in those circumstances and then go along for the ride of the mystery. In Death Below Stairs author Jennifer Ashley’s main character is the new cook for a prominent Mayfair household. She’s not quite thirty years old and is a bit of a mystery herself. I suspect there’s even more to learn about Mrs. H. in future books.

Death Below Stairs is chock full of interesting characters who fall on one side or the other of  abhorrent (evil) and sympathetic (good). It has its share of eccentrics too – which I loved. And there’s the matter of Daniel McAdam. It seems he has a crush on our Mrs. H. He’s a mystery to her though.

I won’t spoil with plot points and such but I’ll say if you’re looking to try the genre there’s no better time than with this first book in the Kat Holloway series. Kat has me hooked and I look forward to finding out what challenges she, Daniel and their friends face next. Fans of the below stairs goings-on of Downton Abbey or Victoria will surely enjoy the world of Kat Holloway.


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


 

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).