No One Saw

No One Saw by Beverly Long

Published:  June 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. Neither the grandmother who dropped her off, nor the teacher whose care she was supposed to be in, can account for the missing child. There are no witnesses. No trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena are under extreme pressure as they discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena will have to race to untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma…before it’s too late. (publisher)

My take:  Baywood, WI police detective A.L. McKittridge is back to work after a relaxing California getaway with the woman in his life, Tess. He and his partner Rena are tasked with finding a missing five-year-old who disappeared from her day care center – a nightmare for everyone involved. I loved catching up with A.L. and Rena after meeting the two in book one, Ten Days Gone. Both are likable characters who deal with life just like everyone. A.L. is a divorced dad of a teenager. Rena is married and is dealing with fertility issues. Together they make a perfect detective team and play off each other in such a way that I’d want them on my side if I ever needed them. Beverly Long’s story moved along over the course of a few days and dealt out several suspects. I thought the resolution was interesting if abrupt. I can’t wait to see what case this detective duo will face next.


About the author:

Beverly Long’s writing career has spanned more than two decades and twenty novels, including TEN DAYS GONE, the first book of her A.L. McKittridge series. She writes romantic suspense with sexy heroes and smart heroines. She can often be found with her laptop in a coffee shop with a cafe au lait and anything made with dark chocolate by her side.

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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.”


 

Always The Last To Know

Always The Last To Know by Kristan Higgins

Published:  June 9, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The Frosts are a typical American family. Barb and John, married almost fifty years, are testy and bored with each other…who could blame them after all this time? At least they have their daughters– Barb’s favorite, the perfect, brilliant Juliet; and John’s darling, the free-spirited Sadie. The girls themselves couldn’t be more different, but at least they got along, more or less. It was fine. It was enough.

Until the day John had a stroke, and their house of cards came tumbling down.

Now Sadie has to put her career as a teacher and struggling artist in New York on hold to come back and care for her beloved dad–and face the love of her life, whose heart she broke, and who broke hers. Now Juliet has to wonder if people will notice that despite her perfect career as a successful architect, her perfect marriage to a charming Brit, and her two perfect daughters, she’s spending an increasing amount of time in the closet having panic attacks.

And now Barb and John will finally have to face what’s been going on in their marriage all along.  (publisher)

My take:  Always the Last to Know is the story of the Frost family. Parents Barb and John are unhappy and not thinking about celebrating their upcoming 50th anniversary. Older daughter Juliet lives what most would consider a perfect life so what’s with the frequent panic attacks? Younger daughter Sadie chases her dream of being an artist but pays the bills by teaching art at a grade school and taking orders for sofa paintings. She’s committed to living in New York for her art and that has impacted her personal life more than once. When John suffers a stroke the family is forced to decide what is truly important in their lives. I didn’t think this family seemed typical at all. Most of the time I was annoyed and frustrated by the Frosts and the other characters. It could be where I am in my life – who knows. I’ve enjoyed many of Higgins’ books but something seemed missing in this one.


 

This Is How I Lied

This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

Published:  May 2020 – Park Row Publishing

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep. (publisher)

My take:  Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe grew up in a small Iowa town. Her family lived on a cul-de-sac alongside a few other houses. Her best friend lived next door. When she was fifteen her best friend was murdered. Now, twenty-five years later, Maggie is in charge of going over the files of the unsolved murder. A clue has been found and, in the new age of DNA evidence, the chief of police wants to re-open the case.

This Is How I Lied is a dual-timeline whodunit. Told from Maggie’s POV and that of the dead girl’s sister the story moves between 1995, the year of the murder, and 2020. I thought Heather Gudenkauf did a great job revealing a trail of clues and although I had a strong suspicion of who did it, I wasn’t absolutely sure. There were plenty of possibilities.

This was a page turner that I read in a couple of days. There’s a creepiness factor that I don’t usually like to read but it was important to the story and made it more than a popcorn thriller. I appreciate that all of the characters were flawed to some degree – it made them more believable. I was very satisfied with how things wrapped up at the end. I’m glad I had a chance to read This Is How I Lied and look forward to reading more by this talented author.


 

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Author Bio: 

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running.


 

Spotlight: Master Class

Master Class by Christina Dalcher

Published:  April 2020 – Berkley

Publisher’s Description:

It’s impossible to know what you will do…

Every child’s potential is regularly determined by a standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and attend a top tier school with a golden future. Score too low, and it’s off to a federal boarding school with limited prospects afterwards. The purpose? An improved society where education costs drop, teachers focus on the more promising students, and parents are happy.

When your child is taken from you.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s elite schools. When her nine-year-old daughter bombs a monthly test and her Q score drops to a disastrously low level, she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal institution hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena thought she understood the tiered educational system, but as a mother whose child is now gone, Elena’s perspective is changed forever. She just wants her daughter back.

And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.


About the author:

Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.

Her short stories and flash fiction appear in more than one hundred journals worldwide. Recognition includes first place for the Bath Flash Award, nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and multiple other awards. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia, with her husband.

 

Photo credit: Laurens Arenas

Buy links:

 


Early Praise for Master Class:

“The book’s examination of the way people will accept more and more small social changes until the system becomes something unrecognizable and horrific feels timely and urgent…top notch and keeps the reader guessing. An engaging parable of dangerous social change.”⁠—Kirkus Reviews

“Dalcher combines the pace and tension of a standout thriller with thought-provoking projections of the possible end result of ranking children based on test scores. Admirers of The Handmaid’s Tale will be appropriately unsettled.”⁠—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Dalcher’s novel reads like an expanded episode of Black Mirror; it is terrifying, haunting, and cautionary.”Booklist


 

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr

Published:  April 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Adele and Justine have never been close. Born twenty years apart, Justine was already an adult when Addie was born. The sisters love each other but they don’t really know each other.

When Addie dropped out of university to care for their ailing parents, Justine, a successful lawyer, covered the expenses. It was the best arrangement at the time but now that their parents are gone, the future has changed dramatically for both women.

Addie had great plans for her life but has been worn down by the pressures of being a caregiver and doesn’t know how to live for herself. And Justine’s success has come at a price. Her marriage is falling apart despite her best efforts.

Neither woman knows how to start life over but both realize they can and must support each other the way only sisters can. Together they find the strength to accept their failures and overcome their challenges. Happiness is within reach, if only they have the courage to fight for it. (publisher)

My take:  Two sisters, one in her early 30s and the other twenty years older, find themselves in the life reset position. Addie, 32, was caretaker for her parents at the end of their lives. She left college and for the next eight years stayed mostly in her parents’ home caring for them. Now she is in a position of reassessing her goals. Justine, 52 and mother of two teens, shockingly finds out her marriage wasn’t as strong as she thought. She’s faced with major decisions and a future she’d never imagined. Robyn Carr’s story of new starts is just the story I’ve come to expect from her. With emphasis on empowerment, family, and moving forward these two sisters will find out how good life can be when they figure out exactly what they want and go after it. Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction.


Buy Links: 

 

Social Links:

 

Author Bio: 

Robyn Carr is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than sixty novels, including highly praised women’s fiction such as Four Friends and The View From Alameda Island and the critically acclaimed Virgin River, Thunder Point and Sullivan’s Crossing series. Virgin River is now a Netflix Original series. Robyn lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit her website at www.RobynCarr.com.


 

Review/US Giveaway: The Big Finish

The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey

Published:  April 14, 2020 – Berkley

Book courtesy of Berkley

Description:

Meet Duffy, an old curmudgeon who lives in an assisted living home.

Meet Josie, a desperate young woman who climbs through his window.

Together, they’re going to learn it’s never too late—or too early—to change your ways.

For Duffy Sinclair, life boils down to one simple thing: maintaining his residence at the idyllic Centennial Assisted Living. Without it, he’s destined for the roach-infested nursing home down the road—and after wasting the first eighty-eight years of his life, he refuses to waste away for the rest. So, he keeps his shenanigans to the bare minimum with the help of his straight-laced best friend and roommate, Carl Upton.

But when Carl’s granddaughter Josie climbs through their bedroom window with booze on her breath and a black eye, Duffy’s faced with trouble that’s sticking around and hard to hide—from Centennial’s management and Josie’s toxic boyfriend. Before he knows it, he’s running a covert operation that includes hitchhiking and barhopping.

He might as well write himself a one-way ticket to the nursing home…or the morgue. Yet Duffy’s all in. Because thanks to an unlikely friendship that becomes fast family—his life doesn’t boil down the same anymore. Not when he finally has a chance to leave a legacy.

In a funny, insightful, and life-affirming debut, Brooke Fossey delivers an unflinching look at growing old, living large, and loving big, as told by a wise-cracking man who didn’t see any of it coming. (publisher)

My take: This is the story of a group of octogenarians at an assisted-living residence. They are under the constant threat of being sent to the full-care nursing home where they know they will wither and die. I fell in love with these colorful characters, especially after a young woman climbed through the window of Carl and Duffy’s room bringing all kinds of trouble with her. I’m a firm believer that God places people in our life when we most need them – the task is to see them and either help them or allow them to help us. It’s a life-affirming process and Brooke Fossey’s novel drove that point home. I loved the ending even though it left me in tears (mostly happy).


US Giveaway 

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Tactical Crime Division – series launch

Perfect for fans of Criminal Minds and Blacklist

Uncover the lives and loves of the FBI elite as they take on the toughest assignments. This is a new four-book miniseries featuring an ensemble cast of characters spread across 4 books, featuring 4 urgent cases, with one stellar team of crime solving experts. 

The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI. Because of the growing concerns and need for ever increasing response time to criminal events, the FBI created a specialized tech and tactical team combing specialists from several active divisions that include: weapons, crime scene investigation, protection, negotiation and IT. 

Each title can be read as a standalone novel, featuring a unique hard to solve crime case.

 


Book #1: 48 Hour Lockdown by Carla Cassidy (on-sale March 17, 2020)

Book description: The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI.They handle the toughest cases in the most remote locations. When TCD learns of a school invasion turned lockdown, every agent is ready to engage. With children in jeopardy, the stakes couldn’t be higher. But it becomes personal for hostage negotiator agent Evan Duran when he learns Annalise Taylor is one of the captives holed up with the students in a school for the gifted. He’ll need every resource available at TCD and every ounce of his expertise to turn this disastrous situation into a rescue mission—and if he succeeds, maybe reunite with the woman he never stopped loving.

About Carla Cassidy: Carla Cassidy is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than 125 novels for Harlequin Books. She is listed on the Romance Writer’s of America Honor Roll and has won numerous awards. Carla believes the only thing better than curling up with a good book to read is sitting down at the computer with a good story to write.

Purchase links:

 

Book #2: Secret Investigation by Elizabeth Heiter (on-sale April 21, 2020)

Book description: In the wake of a tragedy, the Tactical Crime Division is the first call. When ironclad body armor inexplicably fails and soldiers perish, the Tactical Crime Division jumps into action. Agent and former ranger Davis Rogers asks to go undercover to find the traitor responsible for the death of one of his friends, and Petrov Armor CEO Leila Petrov is happy to provide access to her company…especially once she discovers she’s being framed. But will their joint efforts be enough to uncover the truth?

About Elizabeth Heiter: Publishers Weekly bestselling and award-winning author ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists and a little romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages. Visit her at www.elizabethheiter.com

Purchase links:

 

Book #3: Midnight Abduction by Nichole Severn (on-sale May 19, 2020)

Book description: For the Tactical Crime Division, no case is left cold. When Benning Reeves’s twins are kidnapped, the frantic father knows who can help: the Tactical Crime Division and Ana Ramirez. Even though Ana once shattered Benning’s heart, the special agent is the only one he can trust. But Ana is still tormented by the unresolved case that brought them together years before—a case somehow entangled with Benning’s children. It’s up to the TCD and Ana to discover why…before it’s too late.

About Nichole Severn: Nichole Severn writes romantic suspense with strong heroines, heroes who dare challenge them, and a hell of a lot of guns. When she’s not writing, she’s injuring herself running and practicing yoga.

Purchase links:

 

Book #4: Running Out of Time by Cindi Myers (on-sale June 16, 2020)

Book description: When a terrorist is on the loose, the Tactical Crime Division is on the case. To find out who poisoned medications, two of TCD’s agents are tapped to go undercover posing as a married couple and infiltrate the company. But as soon as Jace Cantrell and Laura Smith arrive at Stroud Pharmaceuticals, someone ups the ante by planting explosives in their midst. Turns out that the small-town family business is hiding a million secrets. Could they unknowingly be protecting a vengeful killer?

About Cindi Myers: Cindy Myers became one of the most popular people in eighth grade when she and her best friend wrote a torrid historical romance and passed the manuscript around among friends. Fame was short-lived, alas; the English teacher confiscated the manuscript. Since then, Cindy has written more than 50 published novels. Her historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction have garnered praise from reviewers and readers alike.

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The Sea Glass Cottage

The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne

Published:  March 2020 – HQN Books

Digital galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured in a work accident, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness. (publisher)

My take:  The Sea Glass Cottage is where Olivia Harper grew up and its where her mother and teen aged niece live still. When Olivia’s mother Juliet winds up in the hospital with a broken hip she comes home to help with the family business. What she finds is a niece who suddenly resents her, a mother who has a few secrets, and the new fire chief who makes her feel emotionally off-balance. But she can handle it all because she’s only there for a few weeks and then will go back to her life and job in Seattle. Olivia’s mom and niece have worries of their own and navigate the feelings and actions that may or may not give the desired results. This is a story about strong, proud people learning to ask for and accept help, learning that “the greatest risk carries the greatest reward”. No spoiler here but I can say I enjoyed how RaeAnne Thayne brought her characters through their drama. Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction.


About the author:

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews.

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The Darkness We Hide

The Darkness We Hide by Debra Webb

Published:  March 31, 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

For months, Doctor Rowan Dupont has been staring death in the face. It followed her back to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, ten months ago, cloaking the walls of her family’s Victorian funeral home like a shroud. In investigating the mysterious deaths of her loved ones, Rowan has unearthed enough family secrets to bury everything she’d previously thought true. But each shocking discovery has only led to more bodies and more questions; the rabbit hole is deeper than she ever imagined.

Despite settling in to a comfortable life with Police Chief Billy Brannigan, Rowan knows dangerous serial killer Julian Addington is still out there. She can’t let her guard down now. Not when she’s this close to ending his torment once and for all. But with a storm brewing on the horizon, she’ll get only one shot before the impending darkness takes hold, threatening to wipe away every truth she’s uncovered—and everything she holds dear. (publisher)

My take:  I jumped into The Undertaker’s Daughter series (trilogy?) with The Darkness We Hide – Book 3. Author Debra Webb did a good job catching me up with the main points of what had transpired in the previous books but I may circle back to those at some point.

This book left me breathless as Rowan, Billy and others pursued the serial killer, Julian Addington. Debra Webb’s novel is fast-paced with action and clues and red herrings. As you’d expect with a thriller involving a serial killer there are super creepy things happening right up to the last pages which made me really appreciate the epilogue.

I discovered Debra Webb’s books a couple of months ago and I’m a fan. I can’t wait to read more from this prolific (thank goodness!) author.


About the author:

Debra Webb is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, theColby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama.


 

Before He Vanished

Before He Vanished by Debra Webb

Published:  February 18, 2020 – Harlequin Intrigue

Review Galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

His disappearance changed her life forever.

Twenty-five years ago, Halle Lane’s best friend vanished from their Tennessee town. When a childhood photo brings Liam Hart to Winchester, Halle is certain the man is the same child who vanished. Now Liam seeks out Halle to help him investigate the circumstances of his mysterious past. Can Liam and Halle uncover the truth before a killer buries all traces of the boy Halle loved—and the man he may have become—forever? (publisher)

My take: Halle Lane has been haunted by the disappearance of her best friend when they were seven years old. Now, twenty-five years later, Halle is an investigative reporter. She writes an article about the unsolved case and that is the beginning of a new round of crimes connected to the story. Liam Hart, a California winemaker, receives a mysterious letter that contains a copy of Halle’s article. He’s intrigued enough to fly to Tennessee to look into the case. He didn’t expect to find out that his life has possibly been a lie. Can Halle convince him to help her solve the case before more people are hurt? This is a fast-paced mystery seasoned lightly with romance (closed door). A quick read that I enjoyed and recommend to fans of Debra Webb and the Harlequin Intrigue imprint.


About the author:

DEBRA WEBB is the USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of more than 160 novels, including reader favorites the Shades of Death, the Faces of Evil, and the Colby Agency. She is the recipient of the prestigious Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense as well as numerous Reviewers Choice Awards. In 2012 Debra was honored as the first recipient of the esteemed L. A. Banks Warrior Woman Award for her courage, strength, and grace in the face of adversity. Recently Debra was awarded the distinguished Centennial Award for having achieved publication of her 100th novel. With this award Debra joined the ranks of a handful of authors like Nora Roberts and Carole Mortimer.

With more than four million books in print in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood when, at the age of nine, her mother bought her an old typewriter in a tag sale. Born in Alabama, Debra grew up on a farm. She spent every available hour exploring the world around her and creating her stories. She wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the Commanding General of the US Army in Berlin behind the Iron Curtain and a five-year stint in NASA’s Shuttle Program that she realized her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has expanded her work into some of the darkest places the human psyche dares to go. Visit Debra at http://www.debrawebb.com.



 

Blog Tour: Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas – Tucker

Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas – Tucker by Emily March

Published:  February 25, 2020 – St. Martin’s Paperbacks

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Meet Gillian Thacker. Her business: Bliss Bridal Salon. Her passion: Weddings. Her own wedding: It’s complicated. Life isn’t turning out like she’d planned. The last thing she wants is for a real-life hero to ride to her rescue, but an unexpected event puts her entire future in Redemption, Texas, at risk. So what’s a broken-hearted bridal expert to do? Maybe a new set of survival skills is exactly what she needs…

Tucker McBride has been proud to call himself a U.S. Army Ranger. But now that his days of service are over, he’s decided to put his expertise to use by founding a wilderness skills training school. He sets up shop in Redemption, next to Bliss Bridal, and so begins life: Part Two. Marriage has been pretty low on his agenda, but as soon as he meets Gillian, Tucker can’t help but contemplate the ultimate challenge: Convincing the reluctant bride to take his hand and leap into the adventure of a lifetime . . . until death do them part. (publisher)

My take:  This is the second book in The McBrides of Texas series. Tucker’s story is one of figuring out what the next chapter in his life will be after the army. He comes home to the small Texas town of  Redemption and meets Gillian, a beautiful, smart, and (sad to say) engaged woman. When life hands Gillian a major upset she and Tucker find they might have a lot to teach each other. It will take a while for these headstrong people to realize what it takes to survive and move forward, possibly together. The McBrides of Texas – Tucker is filled with fun repartee between Gillian and Tucker. I enjoyed the laugh-out-loud scenes that played out in Las Vegas as well as on the Texas hiking trails. A fun novel all the way around. I’m looking forward to Boon’s story that was hinted at near the end.


About the author:

Emily March is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America.

A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

Twitter: @emilymarchbooks (https://twitter.com/emilymarchbooks?lang=en)

Facebook: @emilymarchbooks (https://www.facebook.com/emilymarchbooks/)

Instagram: @emilymarchbooks (https://www.instagram.com/emilymarchbooks/?hl=en

Author Website: https://emilymarch.com/

Macmillan Author Page: https://us.macmillan.com/author/emilymarch


 

Buy links:

Macmillan: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250314932

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250314933?tag=macmillan-20

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eternity-springs-emily-march/1132730238;jsessionid=9CB8E792D66DAE517D48FA46AF244A7C.prodny_store01-atgap02?ean=9781250314932#/

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781250314932?AID=42121&PID=7992675&cjevent=0a0b322d393511ea828c00f10a24060e

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250314932?aff=macmillan

Powell’s: https://www.powells.com/book/eternity-springs-the-mcbrides-of-texas-tucker-9781250314932?partnerid=33241


 

 

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Published:  Oct. 29, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

For fans of Josie Silver’s One Day in December, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a wholly original, charismatic, and uplifting novel that no reader will soon forget.

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Now, finally, she can be a normal twenty-eight-year-old. She can climb a mountain. Dance. Wait in line all day for tickets to Wimbledon.

But first, she has to put one foot in front of the other. So far, things are as bloody complicated as ever. Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point and she wants to find her father. Then there’s Lennox, whom Ailsa loved and lost. Will she ever find love again?

Her new heart is a bold heart. She just needs to learn to listen to it. From the hospital to her childhood home, on social media and IRL, Ailsa will embark on a journey about what it means to be, and feel, alive. How do we learn to be brave, to accept defeat, to dare to dream?

From Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words BookshopThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae will warm you from the inside out. (publisher)

My take:  Take one completely engaging lead character (Ailsa), add a life-threatening condition, a sparkling cast of characters with issues of their own, and tango – well that’s a recipe for a novel that made me happy I’m a reader.

Ailsa was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and has managed to stay alive until the age of twenty-eight when a compatible heart becomes available. She thought the journey to that day was hard. And it was. But she learns that living with her new heart has a new set of challenges, not the least being brave enough to put herself out there in this new life.

The story is told through the blog she set up related to her condition, emails and texts with various people, and the story of past relationships. I hesitate to expand but I can say I’m very glad to have had the chance to read Stephanie Butland’s second novel. It’s an emotional novel and one that left me with a happy heart.


About the author:

Photograph by Elliott Franks

STEPHANIE BUTLAND lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she’s not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet and the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop.

Book-buy link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250242174


 

Meant to be Yours by Susan Mallery

Meant to be Yours by Susan Mallery

Published:  October 22, 2019 – HQN

Digital galley courtesy of HQN and NetGalley

Description: In Happily Inc, love means never having to say “I do”…

Wedding coordinator Renee Grothen isn’t meant for marriage. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, plan. But she never could have planned on gorgeous, talented thriller writer Jasper Dembenski proposing—a fling, that is. Fun without a future. And the attraction between them is too strong for Renee to resist. Now she can have her no-wedding cake…and eat it, too.

After years in the military, Jasper is convinced he’s too damaged for relationships. So a flirtation—and more—with fiery, determined Renee is way too good to pass up…until his flame becomes his muse.

Renee is an expert at averting every crisis. But is she finally ready to leap into the one thing that can never be controlled: love? (publisher)

My take:  Meant to be Yours is book 5 in the Happily Inc series. It’s the first one I’ve read and I wasn’t lost so don’t be afraid to jump in here. This is a story of two people who know they are not candidates for marriage but they want to take a chance on a relationship. This trope can go either way in my experience but I have to say I liked how Susan Mallery brought her characters along. Renee works at a wedding event business and Jasper is a famous author. He also deals with PTSD from his time in the military. Renee has her own demons from a former relationship that went bad. So these two have to go through some challenges to get to a possible happy ending. I enjoyed the wedding event theme and the rescued dog and cats that end up rescuing their humans. All in all, an enjoyable read. Recommended to fans of the series and Susan Mallery.


Author Bio:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as mom.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @susanmallery

Facebook: @SusanMallery

Instagram: @susanmallery

Goodreads

MEANT TO BE YOURS

Author: Susan Mallery

ISBN: 9781335041494

Publication Date: 10/22/19

Publisher: HQN Books

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo


 

Murder at the Mill by MB Shaw: Excerpt and US Giveaway

Description:

Iris Grey rents a quaint cottage in a picture-perfect Hampshire village, looking to escape from her crumbling marriage. She is drawn to the neighboring Wetherby family, and is commissioned to paint a portrait of Dominic Wetherby, a celebrated crime writer.

At the Wetherby’s Christmas Eve party, the mulled wine is in full flow – but so are tensions and rivalries among the guests. On Christmas Day, the youngest member of the Wetherby family, Lorcan, finds a body in the water. A tragic accident? Or a deadly crime?


Prologue

Christmas Day 2017

The sound of the water was deafening. This stretch of the River Itchen was narrow, little more than a stream in places, but it was deep, and the current was fast, causing the ancient waterwheel to churn and splash and creak with unexpected ferocity, like a battlefield’s roar. Somewhere in the distance, church bells were pealing, fighting theirway through the din. Five o’clock. As good a time to die as any.

Tying on the stone was easy, despite the darkness and the noise and the cold that numbed one’s fingers. Everything had been easy, in fact. All that fear, the stomach-souring anticipation of the act, had been for nothing in the end. Everything had gone exactly according to plan. So far, anyway. There was a symmetry to that, at least, the satisfaction of a job well done. One could even call it a pleasure of sorts.

Across the bitterly cold water, the lights of Mill House glowed warm and inviting. Through the sash windows of the Wetherbys’ grand draw- ing room, a Christmas tree twinkled. Gaudy and colourful, rising out of a shiny sea of discarded wrapping paper, torn from joyously opened gifts, it had clearly been decorated by children, as all Christmas trees should be.Few things in life were sadder than an ‘adult’ Christmas tree, tastefully decked out in themed colours. Where was the magic in that?

Not that it mattered anymore. Nothing mattered anymore.

The water was as cold as stone, cold enough to make one flinch. But only momentarily. It was time to let go. The river opened up eagerly to receive its Christmas gift, pulling it down into the familiar black depths with the cloying, greedy embrace of a lover.

Feet first. Then legs. Torso. Head.

Gone.

On the opposite bank of the river, a torchlight danced.
Lorcan Wetherby, youngest son of the celebrated author Dom Wetherby and his wife, Ariadne, had ventured outside to play with his Christmas presents: a Scooby-Doo flashlight and a motorised toy boat, his pride and joy. Lorcan could still feel the excitement of the afternoon, when his oldest brother Marcus had pulled the big parcel wrapped in holly-sprigged paper out from under the tree. Handing out Christmas presents one by one under the tree after lunch was a family tradition, prolonging both the agony and the ecstasy for generations of Wetherby children.

‘ “To Lorcan”,’ Marcus read aloud. ‘ “Merry Christmas and all our love, Mummy and Daddy.’”

Lorcan had torn at the paper like a puppy, emitting a squeal of pure delight when he saw it. Exactly like the one on TV.

‘Remoke control!’ He beamed at his mother. ‘It’s remoke control!’ Ariadne beamed back. She adored her son. ‘That’s right, darling.’ Waiting for his father to put the batteries in and set the boat up had been torture. But after inhaling two slices of Ariadne’s homemade Christmas cake so quickly Marcus could have sworn he saw marzipan chunks coming out of his little brother’s nose, the boat was finally ready and Lorcan had raced down the sloping lawn to the banks of the Itchen to play with it.

Dark had long since fallen. Recently Lorcan had felt afraid of the dark, and particularly of ‘ghosts’, which he saw constantly, hovering around every tree or lichen-covered wall. His father, Dom, blamed it on Scooby-Doo, a new obsession. His mother wasn’t so sure.

‘I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it. Maybe he’s really seeing something.’

‘Like what?’ Dom Wetherby frowned. ‘Things that go “bump” in the night?’

Ariadne smiled patiently. For a writer, Dominic could be terribly unimaginative at times. ‘This house is over four hundred years old, darling,’ she reminded him. ‘There may well be ghosts here. Children like Lorcan often see things other people don’t, or can’t. Maybe he’s just more attuned to the supernatural than we are.’

Attuned or not, Lorcan wasn’t afraid tonight. He had seen a ghost as it happened, less than an hour ago, moving through the woods, white and tall and looming. But the ghost hadn’t seen him. He was too busy with whatever he had in his hands. Besides, Lorcan had his Scooby-Doo torch, it was Christmas, and he was at home at the Mill with Mummy and Daddy. He was safe. Cocooned. It was like Mummy said: ‘Ghosts are only people, Lorcan. Ordinary people. It’s just that you’re seeing them in an extraordinary way.’ Lorcan wasn’t sure what that meant exactly, but it made him feel better.

Ghosts were people.
People, in Lorcan’s experience, were nice.
He played with his boat till his hands were so cold they hurt. The church bells rang. He counted them. One, two, three, four, five . . . six. Time to go in.

Crossing at the bridge safely, where his father had shown him, he reached down gingerly to pull his boat out of the reeds. Behind him, he could hear the waterwheel turning, the familiar sound of rushing water that was the soundtrack to his life. Lorcan Wetherby loved the river. He loved it like a person. He loved the waterwheel and the Mill. He loved his home. His family.

The boat was stuck. The spiky part at the bottom – the ‘keel’, Marcus had called it – had become entangled in something, some part of the cold, watery underworld of the Itchen. Lorcan tugged harder, but still it wouldn’t budge. Carefully setting down the remote-control handset next to him on the bridge to get a better grip, he tried again, with both hands this time, plunging his arms into the frigid water right up to the elbows. Leaning back, he pulled as hard as he could, his muscles burning with exertion as he yanked and twisted the precious boat, willing it to break free.

Beneath the surface, something snapped.

A small movement at first, then a bigger one, then in one great rush up came the boat, rising out of the water like the kraken. It was still heavy, still caught up in something, but Lorcan had hold of it now, the whole, beautiful vessel safe in his two strong hands. He sat back tri- umphant and exhausted. After a few deep breaths, he began to try to unwind the slimy strands still coiled round the boat’s bottom.

And then he saw it.
It wasn’t reeds that had wrapped themselves, vise-like, round the keel. It was hair.
Human hair.
Lorcan stared down in horror into the face of the corpse, its skin stretched tight and ghoulish from being pulled by the scalp. White, sightless eyes stared back at him.

Not even the sound of the river could drown out Lorcan’s screams.


About the author:

M.B Shaw is the pen-name of New York Times bestselling writer Tilly Bagshawe. A teenage single mother at 17, Tilly won a place at Cambridge University and took her baby daughter with her. She went on to enjoy a successful career before becoming a writer. As a journalist, Tilly contributed regularly to the Sunday Times, Daily Mail, and Evening Standard, before turning her hand to novels.

Tilly’s first book, ADORED, was a smash hit on both sides of the Atlantic, becoming an instant New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller. She now divides her time between the UK and America, writing her own books and the new series of Sidney Sheldon novels.



Advanced Praise for MURDER AT THE MILL and M.B. Shaw

“A rich, mystery debut… Tilly Bagshawe… makes a smooth transition to the world of puzzlers.”

—Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

“The principled, smart, and courageous Iris is bound to garner enthusiastic fans.”

—Publishers Weekly

“A most enjoyable and energetic cozy.”

—Booklist

“Complicated relationships create a strong backdrop for a complex mystery, and one hopes, the foundation for more books to come.”

—Library Journal

“Murder at the Mill by M. B. Shaw is a great sweeping adventure.

Ideal for holiday reading.”

—M. C. Beaton, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“M.B. Shaw has penned a wonderfully layered mystery with a multifaceted amateur sleuth, artist Iris Grey. Ms. Shaw’s English village setting made me feel like I was right there, and kept me reading until late into the night. I can’t wait to see where Iris Grey’s next artistic commission takes us.”

—Paige Shelton, New York Times bestselling author

“Be sure to start reading M.B. Shaw’s evocatively written mystery early in the day, or else you’ll be up late into the night—it’s that unputdownable.”

—Ellen Crosby, author of The Vineyard Victims

“A festering box of secrets, providing a Christmas cocktail of family lies and deliciously conceived murder.”

—Mandy Morton, author of The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency series

“A snowy Christmas in a country village, intriguing characters and a twisty-turny plot…I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. Fabulous!”

—Jill Mansell, International Bestselling Author

“A contemporary-set cosy crime novel that harks back to The Golden Age of detective fiction. Author Tilly Bagshawe writing under a pseudonym, introduces us to society portraitist Iris Grey whose Christmas country retreat is anything but when a body is found floating by the mill on Christmas Day, instead of tucking into turkey and all the trimmings, Iris finds herself caught up in all manner of sleuthing and intrigue.”

—Red Magazine

“A nice little slice of festive who dunnit – just right for cosy winter afternoons”

—Katherine Woodfine, author of The Sinclair’s Mysteries


US Giveaway

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The Splendor Before The Dark by Margaret George

The Splendor Before The Dark by Margaret George

November 6, 2018 – Berkley Hardcover

Book courtesy of Berkley and NetGalley

Description:

Ascending to the throne was only the beginning… Now Margaret George, the author of The Confessions of Young Nero, weaves a web of politics and passion, as ancient Rome’s most infamous emperor cements his place in history.

With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural splendor. Although he has yet to produce an heir, his power is unquestioned.

But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero’s complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace–and the politicians…

For better or worse, Nero knows that his fate is now tied to Rome’s–and he vows to rebuild it as a city that will stun the world. But there are those who find his rampant quest for glory dangerous. Throughout the empire, false friends and spies conspire against him, not understanding what drives him to undertake the impossible.

Nero will either survive and be the first in his family to escape the web of betrayals that is the Roman court, or be ensnared and remembered as the last radiance of the greatest dynasty the world had ever known. (publisher)

My take:  I confess to knowing virtually nothing about Nero going into this novel – save a visual of him playing the fiddle while Rome burned. As usual, Margaret George brought me up to speed in a most entertaining way. Her historical fiction novel played out in the form of Nero’s autobiography with additional viewpoints from his first love, Acte, and Locusto, his poisons consultant. It’s a story of political plots and intrigue, living with rumors and innuendo, and never quite knowing who was worthy of Nero’s trust.

I’ve read Margaret Georges’s previous novels about Cleopatra and Helen of Troy so I was unsurprised by the 500+ pages it took to tell Nero’s story. I also knew it would be meticulously researched and presented in her usual engaging style. The Afterword is very interesting and I appreciated the family tree and maps included at the beginning of the book. I think fans of the author and historical fiction will enjoy and learn from this story. I certainly did.


About the author:

Margaret George is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels of biographical historical fiction, including The Confessions of Young Nero; Elizabeth I; Helen of Troy; Mary, Called Magdalene; The Memoirs of Cleopatra; Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles; and The Autobiography of Henry VIII. She also has coauthored a children’s book, Lucile Lost.


 

Review: Indigo Lake – plus author guest post by Jodi Thomas

  • Title:  Indigo Lake
  • Series:  Ransom Canyon #6
  • Author:  Jodi Thomas
  • Pages:  432
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  July 2017 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Two families long divided by an ancient feud. Can a powerful love finally unite them? 

Blade Hamilton is the last of his line. He’s never even heard of Crossroads, Texas, until he inherits land there. Riding in on his vintage Harley-Davidson, Blade finds a weathered ranch house, an empty prairie and a dark river that cuts a decisive path between the Hamilton’s land and that of their estranged neighbors. 

When Dakota helps a stranger on the roadside, she isn’t prepared for the charisma of the man on the motorbike—or for the last name he bears: Hamilton, of her family’s sworn enemies, representing all she’s been raised to loathe. The problem is, it looks like Blade is in town to stay, and there’s something about his wolf-gray eyes she just can’t ignore. 

Lauren Brigman feels adrift. Unhappy in work and unlucky in love, she knows she ought to be striving for more, but she’s never truly at peace unless she’s at home in Crossroads. If the wider world can’t satisfy her, is home truly where her heart is?  (publisher)

My take:  I love going back to Crossroads, Texas and seeing what’s new with the people we’ve met in previous Ransom Canyon series books and meeting new ones. Indigo Lake introduces readers to Blade and Dakota – two people who don’t think love will ever find them. Blade is a man whose job takes him in every direction so he’s never put down roots. He plans to sell the ancestral home (he didn’t know about until recently) he’s inherited and move on. Dakota’s life revolves around her job, studying, and taking care of her older sister and grandmother. She doesn’t have time for a relationship. And besides, their families are in a feud! It was fun watching these two become important to each other. It was also fun seeing Lauren Brigman’s life progress in a way she didn’t dare hope. I thought it was very sweet (in a good way) how Jodi Thomas made that happen. Of course, there are the usual quirky characters and inept criminals who added the element of suspense as well as humor to the novel. I enjoyed it all and wonder if there will be more to come in the Ransom Canyon series. I hope so!

Note:  Included at the end of this book is the Ransom Canyon series introductory novella Winter’s Camp.


Author post:

When I started INDIGO LAKE, I wanted to write a love story happening in the middle of an old feud.

Blade Hamilton is a man who has no family ties. Since he turned 18, he’s been on his own. When he find out he’s inherited a little farm from a father he never knew, he rides down to Texas from Denver on his Harley to take a look. (Fun note and photo: I had to learn a little about Harleys.)

Sell the place and ride away is his plan, until he meets Dakota Davis and falls into the middle of a hundred-year-old feud. Legends and curses seem to keep them apart, but an attraction neither can deny keeps pulling them together.

Blade  finds himself surrounded by legends and a deep family history as he falls in love with a woman who is afraid to step on his land and has a grandmother who regularly threatens to kill him.

As Blade is drawn into an investigation in town, he truly finds home for the first time in his life. I know you will love Blade and Dakota’s story.

Good news for Ransom Canyon fans, WINTER’S CAMP  is included in the back of INDIGO LAKE!

Hope you enjoy both,

Jodi Thomas 

INDIGO LAKE is available wherever books are sold and at http://www.HQNBooks.com

INDIGO LAKE JODI THOMAS $7.99 U.S. ISBN-13: 978-0-373-79936-7


Praise for the Ransom Canyon series:

“Thomas sketches a slow, sweet surrender.” –Publishers Weekly on the RANSOM CANYON series

“A pure joy to read.” –RT Book Reviews on the RANSOM CANYON series

“Western romance legend Thomas’s Ransom Canyon will warm readers with its huge heart and gentle souls.” –Library Journal


A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.

With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full- time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and “checking up” on their two grown sons.

For more information, please visit Jodi’s website at http://www.jodithomas.com


 

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

  • Title:  The Garden of Small Beginnings
  • Author:  Abbi Waxman
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  May 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  It’s been three years since her husband was killed in a car accident and Lilian is still getting used to being sane—after that one early breakdown. She’s happy just being able to get her two girls to school every morning, keep her illustrating job, and catch up on her favorite TV shows with her sister. She’s not exactly in a rut; she’s just letting the grass grow under her feet.

But then Lilian’s boss asks her to illustrate a vegetable encyclopedia and signs her up for a vegetable-gardening class. Lilian reluctantly agrees and recruits her kids and sister to join her for some drama-free Saturday mornings, because what could be more relaxing than gardening? Nothing…except that this class is filled with people who like to dig a little deeper than the surface, and an instructor who makes Lillian want to bloom for the first time in years. 

With her fellow newbie gardeners, Lilian learns what it takes to nurture plants—and friendships. Digging in the dirt, with worms and all, teaches Lilian that sometimes you have to let nature take its course, be it in gardening, in life, or in love…  (publisher)

My take:  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much while reading a novel. I also teared up several times when author Abbi Waxman zinged me with moments that cut to the core of human emotion.

Lilian is a thirty-something widowed mother of two. Her husband died in a tragic accident four years earlier and she’s been wading through grief ever since.  Lilian is an illustrator for a small press. Her boss enrolls Lili in a gardening class in preparation for illustrating a vegetable encyclopedia. That class will transform the lives of Lili and her daughters – and everyone else involved in the class.

I adored the people who took the gardening class. Each one had an interesting story and as a group they were lovely – kind of like a wonderful summer salad.

Highly recommended to fans of contemporary fiction, laugh-out-loud moments, and a heartfelt story.


 

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.

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