Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Published:  November 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description: Daniel Mayrock’s life is at a crossroads. He knows the following to be true:

1. He loves his wife Jill… more than anything.
2. He only regrets quitting his job and opening a bookshop a little (maybe more than a little)
3. Jill is ready to have a baby.
4. The bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent. Dan doesn’t know how to fix it.
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble.
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.

This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances:

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. He doesn’t want to live in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker; his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to do anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life. (publisher)

My take:  It’s so tempting to write my thoughts about this book in a list because I just spent a few hours reading a book that is written in lists. I’m kind of tired of lists. That said, I liked the idea of the novel. My feelings about Dan the list maker ranged from sympathetic, annoyed, horrified, back to sympathetic, relieved. I enjoyed the secondary characters (Dan’s wife, his new friend Bill, his employee Steve). I mention them because it surprised me to connect to them only through list mentions. This is the first book by Matthew Dicks that I’ve read and I will look into reading more.  Recommended to people looking for something a little different in fiction.


About the author:

Matthew Dicks is a writer and elementary school teacher. He has been published in the Hartford Courant, featured at the Books on the Nightstand retreat, and is a Moth StorySLAM champion. He is the author of four previous novels, Something Missing, Unexpectedly Milo, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, an international bestseller, and The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages. Dicks lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife Elysha, and their two children.

Meet Matthew Dicks:

11/20   That Book Store – Wethersfield, CT

11/21    Simsbury Public Library – Simsbury, CT

11/22    RJ Julia – Madison, CT

11/23   Connecticut Historical Society – Hartford, CT


 

Seven Letters by J.P. Monninger

Seven Letters by J.P. Monninger

Published:  October 8, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  Kate Moreton is in Ireland on sabbatical from her teaching position at Dartmouth College when she meets Ozzie Ferriter, a fisherman and a veteran of the American war in Afghanistan. The Ferriter family history dates back centuries on the remote Blasket Islands, and Ozzie – a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States – has retreated to the one place that might offer him peace from a war he cannot seem to leave behind.

Beside the sea, with Ireland’s beauty as a backdrop, the two fall deeply in love and attempt to live on an island of their own making, away from the pressures of the outside world. Ireland writes its own love stories, the legends claim, and the limits of Kate and Ozzie’s love and faith in each other will be tested. When his demons lead Ozzie to become reckless with his life―and Kate’s―she flees for America rather than watch the man she loves self-destruct. But soon a letter arrives informing Kate that her heroic husband has been lost at sea, and Kate must decide whether it is an act of love to follow him or an act of mercy to forget.  (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of Kate and Ozzie. They meet, fall in love, and then life takes unexpected turns. I was surprised that everything seemed to happen quickly where these two were concerned but decided it was the author’s story to tell and I was along for the ride.

I loved the setting. I know Ireland is wonderful and magical because I’ve been there more than once. Monninger did a beautiful job with description. I also liked learning a bit about the Blasket Islands. Although set mainly in Ireland the story travels to Italy, Canada and the US.

There were a few times when I felt lost because of ‘time gaps’  but I quickly got up to speed. The seven letters serve to catch the reader up as the story progresses and by the time I’d read the seventh I was satisfied with the resolution. As I read I felt a bit of a folktale tone – something I didn’t know I liked. I enjoyed Seven Letters and recommend it to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.


About the author:

J.P. Monninger, author of The Map That Leads to You, is an award-winning writer in New England and Professor of English at Plymouth State University.


 

The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg

The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg

Expected publication date:  Nov. 19, 2019 – Random House

Review book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: When a group of friends in Mason, Missouri, decide to start a monthly supper club, they get more than they bargained for. The plan for congenial evenings—talking, laughing, and sharing recipes, homemade food, and wine—abruptly changes course one night when one of the women reveals something startlingly intimate. The supper club then becomes Confession Club, and the women gather weekly to share not only dinners but embarrassing misdeeds, deep insecurities, and long-held regrets.

They invite Iris Winters and Maddy Harris to join, and their timing couldn’t be better. Iris is conflicted about her feelings for a charming but troubled man, and Maddy has come back home from New York to escape a problem too big to handle alone. The club offers exactly the kind of support they need to help them make some difficult decisions.

The Confession Club
is charming, heartwarming, and inspiring. And as in the previous books that take place in Mason, readers will find friendship, community, and kindness on full display.
(publisher)

My take:  I’ve enjoyed Elizabeth Berg’s Mason series. The Confession Club is book three and although I suppose it could stand alone I highly recommend reading the books in order. At the forefront in this book are some familiar characters: Iris and Maddy. Iris meets a handsome stranger who becomes important to her. But he has secrets. Maddy is back in Mason and feels haunted by her previous demons. She and her young daughter stay with Iris and she winds up joining the Confession Club. It’s a group of women of a certain age. At each meeting one person reveals something about herself that she’s never shared before. These women are mostly north of fifty and have regrets, hopes, and secrets. Ultimately the meetings become an exercise in trust and compassion. The women find courage they didn’t know they had and also discover the power of forgiveness – of others and themselves. Berg used a fairly light touch addressing some serious issues. As the novel drew to a close I wished it could have gone on for a few more chapters. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye! Recommended to fans of Elizabeth Berg, women’s fiction and small town fiction.


 

Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected publication:  September 24, 2019 – HQN

Book courtesy of HQN, NetGalley and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas…

Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn’t quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids…until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie’s laugh, the baby powder smell of Bridger and the feel of her husband’s hand in hers, Elizabeth worried that they’d moved on without her. That she’d missed too much. That perhaps she wasn’t the right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them.

But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they all trim the tree and bake cookies, making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the hurt of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?  (publisher)

My take:  If, like me, readers of the Haven Point series have been wondering about Luke and Elizabeth Hamilton – this is their book!  Her disappearance several years earlier sparked many wild theories among locals, none that placed Luke in a positive light. When Elizabeth comes back to Haven Point she reveals what happened. RaeAnne Thayne gives readers a plausible, emotional story. This novel touches on depression (clinical and postpartum) and my heart went out to Elizabeth and the family she left behind. Coming Home for Christmas is a story of forgiveness and courage – and love. Perfect themes for the season. Recommended to fans of the series, RaeAnne Thayne, and a good Christmas story.


About the author:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on:  cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page, and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.

Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 60 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website a http://www.raeannethayne.com


 

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Paperback Published:  June 25, 2019 – MIRA

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

When you climb a tree, the first thing you do is to hold on tight…

Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the US Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy—Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

Now it’s time for Harry to let go…

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements—a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called The Grum’s Ledger and a wise old librarian named Olive—come together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life.

Harry’s Trees is an uplifting story about the redeeming power of friendship and love and the magic to be found in life’s most surprising adventures. (publisher)

My take:  Life is not without tragedy but the secret is to persevere, keep moving forward. Maybe, just maybe, one will find moments of happiness and contentment. That’s the lesson for us all but especially Harry, Amanda and Oriana.

Jon Cohen created lovely main characters and then added quirky, flawed secondary characters that formed the kind of novel I needed at the moment. It was heart-tugging, magical, tender and, at times, quite funny. And who doesn’t like a story that stresses the immense value of libraries and books!

Recommended.


 

Spotlight: The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew

THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW
by 

MILLY JOHNSON

On Sale: July 29, 2019

 

Purchase Link:

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Magnificent-Mrs-Mayhew/Milly-Johnson/9781982129781

 

About THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW:

Milly Johnson, the Queen of Feel-Good Fiction and The Sunday Times bestselling author, is back with a “glorious, heartfelt novel” (Rowan Coleman, New York Times bestselling author) about a woman trying to find her own place in the world, who through love, loss, and the kindness of strangers, discovers everything she needs in a village by the sea.

 

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of every successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhew seems to have the perfect life. The glamourous wife of a rising political star who is one step away from the highest position in the government, she matches her husband in looks, pedigree, and money. But he has made some stupid mistakes on his way to the top, and some of those mistakes are just now threatening to emerge. Still, this can all be swept under the rug so long as Sophie the Trophy plays her part in front of the cameras. But the words that tumble out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors drilled into her head.

Bursting out of the restrictive mold that has been tightening around her since birth, Sophie flees to a small village on the coast, a safe haven from her childhood days, where she intends to be alone. But once there, she finds a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time in her life. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long, though, so she must decide: where does her real future lie?


About MILLY JOHNSON

Milly Johnson is The Sunday Times bestselling author of numerous novels about the universal issues of friendship, family, love, betrayal, good food, and the little bit of that magic in life that sometimes visits the unsuspecting. Milly is a columnist for her local newspaper and is also an experienced broadcaster on radio and TV. She can be booked via the Women Speakers Agency for motivational speaking events. Milly is patron of several charities, including Yorkshire Cat Rescue and The Well at the Core. Her publishers call her The Queen of Feel-Good Fiction, and together they are aiming to spread as much joy as possible with every book published. Find out more at MillyJohnson.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @MillyJohnson.


Excerpt from THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW:

 

Chapter 1

 

DOORSTEPGATE, 11 A.M.

 

As Sophie stood in the middle of them all, the moment strangely crystalized for her, as if time had frozen solid and she was able to study everything at leisure, appreciate how odd it was to be surrounded by familiar people in the house she had lived in for eight years and yet still feel as if she had been dropped from a great height into a roomful of strangers.

She saw her mother seated, holding a cup of tea in one hand and the accompanying china saucer in the other, talking to her father, who was standing, one hand slotted stiffly in his jacket pocket; his default pose, as if he were a catalogue model. Mother was talking to him and Father had a polite smile of concentration on his face. Standing next to him, her parents-in-law, Clive and Celeste, looking serious and focused as if they were building up to jumping out of a plane. Sophie’s husband, John, deep in conversation with the top pick of his aides: Parliamentary Assistant (London) Rupert Bartley-Green; Senior Communications Director and Press Officer Len Spinks; Chief of Staff Edward Mayhew, who also happened to be John’s eldest brother; and Executive Office Manager (Cherlgrove) Findlay Norris. Between his two governmental bases and the office that looked after his investment and property portfolio, John had more staff than the POTUS, although there was an opening for a girl Friday (London) now, since his last one was currently enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame. The “people” of breakfast and daytime TV, and every program that attracted those the media chose to concentrate its temporary but brightest lights on, were no doubt already negotiating appearance fees with her “people.” Why is it always someone in that junior assistant/intern/researcher role who topples the boss? thought Sophie. Weren’t there enough cautionary tales of littered corpses to warn any man in a high-profile position—who really should know better—what dark and treacherous waters he elected to dip into when he chose a pretty, young, ambitious swimming companion? A pond with a hundred signs around it, all lit up with massive red neon lettering and strings of exclamation marks: warning. danger. come any closer and you’re a bloody idiot!!!!!

It would have been easy for the other woman to fall in love with her husband, though; if that were what it was. John could sell ice to the Eskimos, coal to Newcastle, toys to Santa, and all the other clichés. Charm personified, absurdly handsome, moneyed, intelligent, refined—oh yes, John F. Mayhew was the full package. Sophie could guess how quickly Rebecca Robinson would have become ensnared in his net, even thrown herself into it willingly, because she had done the same thing fourteen years ago, when she was eighteen.

She’d met him at the Christmas Ball when she was in her first year at Cambridge University, studying French, and he was in his last year studying business and politics. He’d been absolutely wrecked on champagne and told her he was going to marry her, before his friends dragged him off for yet more alcohol. She didn’t think much about it until Valentine’s Day, when their paths collided again at a private party. She spotted him long before he noticed her, which gave her the luxury of studying him unseen. He wasn’t her dream type at all, but he was extremely magnetic, and from the way he held himself, it was more than obvious he knew what his best qualities were. He was long limbed and lean, and she imagined him as a human equivalent of a well-bred racehorse, something pampered and valued. Greek-statue profile, midbrown hair that flopped into his eyes— and what eyes they were: puppy-brown, intense, seductive. Eventually, as if detecting the heat in her gaze, his eyes swept around to hers, locked, and she felt powerless, as if she were a hen and he a fox. He sliced through the banks of students that stood between them, mouth stretching into a killer smile, and when he reached her, said:

“Well, if it isn’t you again. Where have you been hiding yourself?”

And from that moment they were a couple. Sophie forgot all about swooning over the rugby player who was in her class, which was a shame because he would end up captaining England and was a thoroughly nice chap, but John F. Mayhew engulfed her brain and was all she could think about.

John F. was going to be richer than Croesus and prime minister one day, he said, and she didn’t doubt that he would be. She could easily forecast his future: top of the tree in his chosen profession, women would adore him, men would want to be him, magazine reporters would queue up outside his door to take photos of the beautiful home he lived in. His children would be perfect and well behaved. Maybe they’d be her children, too. Maybe this was the man her old headmistress Miss Palmer-Price told her would be the one to carry her along in the grip of his force field.

The “F” stood for Fitzroy, he told her postcoitus in bed on the night he took her virginity. His great-great-great-grandfather— Donal F. Mayhew—and his best friend, Patrick, had decided to escape the great Irish famine by emigrating to America in the late 1840s. But an Irish heiress fell hook, line, and sinker for the strong and handsome—if impoverished—gypsy Donal and he changed his mind about going. Donal and his wife eventually moved to London, where his determination both to shake off the label of male “gold digger” and to better himself drove him to build up a fortune in his own right selling property, metal, alcohol, ship parts; anything legal or illegal to trade in order to make a profit. Across the pond, Patrick’s family’s fortunes improved with every generation, too. His great-grandson John F. Kennedy became president of the United States of America. The Kennedys, John said, had stolen the idea of using the “F” from the Mayhews, and in doing so had cursed themselves. As if he couldn’t get any more fascinating, traveler magic was thrown into the mix.

By April Sophie could not imagine living without John F. Mayhew; then in May she found that she’d have to, because he dumped her for the fabulously rich wild child Lady Cresta Thorpe. Sophie was heartbroken. John graduated with honors and spent a year touring the world with Cresta, who had dropped out of university, far preferring to indulge her habits of clubbing, cocktails, and cocaine. His life, so she gleaned from gossip, was shining and golden as hers slipped further into the dark and depressing. Her coursework suffered and she started self-medicating with alcohol to blot out the pain. She also realized that the girls she’d thought of as friends weren’t that hot in a crisis. She had never been good at gathering friends. The beautiful, insubstantial people were attracted to her, but the really nice people found her own good looks intimidating.

It took Sophie a long time to get over losing John F. Mayhew, partly because she didn’t have a group of hard-core pals to help chase him out of her heart. She buried her true feelings deep as she had been taught to at school, threw herself into her studies, never let anyone see how wounded she was. Her heart had just about healed by the time she graduated, give or take the scar he had left.

Months later, Sophie had been working as a temp at the London headquarters of the glossy magazine Mint when she heard that they were to run a feature on a young, successful investment banker, a high-risk taker and up-and-coming politician, at home in his recently acquired, stupidly expensive bachelor penthouse. His name was John F. Mayhew. Sophie’s heart started to race. She wangled it so she accompanied the reporter and the photographer, desperate to show herself off at her best to him: content, happy, preened, and perfect— unattainable and indifferent. Or so she thought.

He was overjoyed to see her, ridiculously so, and she was gracious enough not to dampen his delight with a long-overdue rebuke for dumping her so callously. He asked her out to dinner and she accepted, merely for old times’ sake, sure that if he asked to see her again, she would politely refuse, walk away, having shut the door firmly in his face this time.

He had never forgiven himself for the caddish way he had behaved, he said in Le Gavroche. He’d been glamoured by Cresta’s glitzy veneer, but it was mere infatuation. He hadn’t realized how much he felt for Sophie until he lost her. Sophie was in love with him all over again before the dessert menus had been delivered to them.

Six months after the photos of his bachelor pad had been published, John F. Mayhew had moved out and into Park Court, a beautiful, if run-down, country residence—a wedding present from his parents for himself and his new bride-to-be, the sublime Miss Sophie Calladine. She ignored that little voice inside her that warned her about the speed of all this, the worm burying into her happiness. Is this the real deal, Sophie, or are you just grateful to be loved?

To a woman starved for affection, the full spotlight of his attention was blinding, disorientating—of course she knew this. She had gulped it like air seeping through a hole in a vacuum. For that reason, it would be too easy to let that worm convince her that genuine love was not her primary reason for accepting John’s marriage proposal: but it was, it really was. It had to be said, though, that her heart was whooping considerably that she had also earned parental approval for her choice of husband, and she could even hear the echoes of applause from her old headmistress, nodding consent from the afterlife: I knew you’d be a credit to St. Bathsheba’s in the end, Sophie, like your sisters and your mother before you. But she did love him very much. Enough to have sacrificed her own wants and needs on his altar for the past eight and a half years. Enough to be standing here with her heart ripped open in this roomful of people who were looking at her to mend her marriage. Because by doing that, Sophie Mayhew would mend everything.


 

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Pub. date:  August 6, 2019 – Berkley Books

Courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help? (publisher)

My take:  A single mysterious event changes the lives of Genevieve, a wealthy East coast woman, and her son Clark. Genevieve was raised to believe that if she followed the rules her mother taught her she would have a perfect life – and she was living that life until a tragedy changed things. Years later she finds herself caring for one granddaughter and then another. As the years go by Genevieve added more armor and turned into a formidable person who was admired by many but feared by her granddaughter, Emma. When Emma doesn’t follow Genevieves rules she is turned away and left to deal with her predicament at her maternal grandfather’s Chicago area home. Fast forward several years and Emma receives a phone call from Genevieve saying she needs her to come to her Connecticut home and help her as she is quite ill. Emma will have to decide if blood is thicker than water and if she should head back East.

This is a novel that addresses messy family dynamics and how people deal when life throws a curve ball. Just could be, life could take a turn in a good way. I loved learning about Genevieve from the perspectives of Emma and her daughter Riley and I was charmed by several supporting characters. Kristan Higgins had me laughing at times and also reaching for a tissue. All in all, another good story from one of my favorite authors.