The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart

  • the-last-chance-matineeTitle:  The Last Chance Matinee
  • Series:  The Hudson Sisters #1
  • Author:  Mariah Stewart
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 2017 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for. (publisher)

My take: The Last Chance Matinee is the story of three women who, upon the death of their father, discover sisters they hadn’t known about before his passing. They meet at the reading of his will and are shocked to learn about each other. Des and Allie had the same mother and father. Cara grew up an only child of a free-spirited mother and Fritz who travelled for work much of the time. It all made sense now.

A stipulation of their inheritance is they must bring back to life the theatre in Fritz’s hometown. The small town of Hidden Falls, Pennsylvania, situated in the Poconos, will become the women’s home until the project is completed. That doesn’t seem to bother Des or Cara but Allie has a huge problem since it will mean she has to leave her fourteen year old daughter who lives with her ex-husband part of the time. Allie is angry about many things and deals with her problems by drinking.

Des is a former child star (who never wanted to be in television) who found the quiet life as an adult in Montana and devoting herself to animal rescue. She’s excited about the renovation project and the prospect of starting a rescue in Hidden Falls.

Cara left her New Jersey shore yoga studio (and her former husband who was now engaged to a former friend) in the care of her co-worker. Knowing it’s in good hands she looks forward to being project manager on the theater rehab. She also loves the idea of having sisters, an aunt, and a niece when she thought she had no family at all.

The Last Chance Matinee introduces the characters and the storyline of Mariah Stewart’s new series. There’s a focus on Cara getting a new chance at life and love which I enjoyed. I liked reading about the resurrection of the theatre and all it meant to everyone involved.

Recommended to fans of Mariah Stewart and contemporary fiction. I look forward to reading what happens in the next book!


Praise for The Last Chance Matinee:

“The combination of a quirky small-town setting, a family mystery, a gentle romance, and three estranged sisters is catnip for women’s-fiction fans, and the backdrop of the faded movie palace adds a fascinating element to the story. Stewart’s lively, warmhearted series starter [The Last Chance Matinee] will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.”  —Booklist

“A good read, with a nice blend of mystery, family drama, and romance. Readers will look forward to the next installment.”  —Library Journal


About Mariah Stewart:

Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories. She lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors county life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her at mariahstewart.com and follow her on Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart and on Instagram @mariah_stewart_books.

Note:

Mariah Stewart’s separate series, the bestselling Chesapeake Diaries, has been a favorite with readers since 2010. The eleventh installment, The Chesapeake Bride, will publish August 29, 2017.


THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE

by Mariah Stewart

  • Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • $16.00 Trade Paperback Original
  • ISBN: 9781501144905
  • Fiction
  • Book 1 in the Hudson Sisters series

Look for Book 2 in 2018 and Book 3 in 2019!


Blog Tour:

March 21st

USA Today Happy Ever After – Down & Dirty Q&A

Happy Mom Blogger

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Devilishly Delicious

Collectors of Book Boyfriends

Tome Tender Book Blog

Uniquec’s Book Blog

March 22nd

The Book Nympho

Books and Bindings

Rockin’ and Reviewing

Lovey Dovey Books

Community Bookstop

Bubble Bath Books

Sour Puss Reviews

March 23rd

The Blonde Bookworm

Bookfan

I Wish I Lived in a Library

PNW Bookworm

Mesha’s Corner

The Librarian (Authors on the Air Global Radio Network) – Interview 7:00 pm ET

March 24th

Kritters Ramblings

My Novelesque Life

Reviews by Crystal

Novelgossip

Romance Junkies

March 25th

Abigail Books Addiction

Rainy Day Reviews

Books According to Abby

Once Upon A Page

That Book Lady Blog

March 26th

Dawn’s Reading Nook

March 27th

Suzy Approved Book Reviews

March 28th

The Written Word(s)

March 29th

Hardly A Goddess

March 30th

Lit Living Mom

March 31st

Tiff Scribes

April 1st

Bigreadersite’s Blog

April 3rd

Staircase Wit

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 7th

Svetlana’s Reads and Views

April 10th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 14th

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

April 17th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 21st

Community Bookstop

April 24th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

May 25th

First for Women

Review in First for Women magazine’s June 19th print issue, on stands May 25th!

 


Events with Mariah Stewart:

Tuesday, March 21st, 7:00 pm

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Concord Mall
  • 4801 Concord Pike
  • Wilmington, DE 19803

Sunday, March 26th, 4:30 pm

  • “An Afternoon With The Author – Mariah Stewart”
  • Hockessin Bookshelf
    7179 Lancaster Pike
    Hockessin, DE 19707

Wednesday, April 5th, 6:30 pm

  • The Doylestown Bookshop
  • 16 S. Main Street
  • Doylestown, Pa 18901

Tuesday, April 11th, 7:00 pm

  • Towne Book Centre
  • 220 Plaza Drive – Ste B3
  • Collegeville, PA 19426

 

 

 

The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward

  • the-nearness-of-youTitle:  The Nearness of You
  • Author:  Amanda Eyre Ward
  • Pages:  228
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Goodreads giveaway

My take:  After less-than-happy childhoods, Suzette and Hyland met and fell in love when they were young adults. When Suzette agreed to marry Hyland she made it clear she didn’t want to have children. He went along with that, a bit reluctantly. She became a surgeon and he, an architect. Fifteen years later something changed and he really wanted them to have a child. He even suggested a surrogate. Suzette thought about it and her love for Hyland was the ultimate reason for saying yes. Things didn’t go as planned though.

What followed was the story of people yearning for something missing in their lives. It’s the story of mothers and the hard choices and decisions made throughout life. It’s about the fallout from those decisions and how one deals with it. I think The Nearness of You is a novel readers will relate to on one level or another. The short chapters, told from various viewpoints, made it almost impossible to stop reading. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.


 

Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue

  • every-wild-heartTitle:  Every Wild Heart
  • Author:  Meg Donohue
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  March 2017 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  Passionate and funny, radio personality Gail Gideon is a true original. Nine years ago when Gail’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, her ensuing on-air rant propelled her local radio show into the national spotlight. Now, “The Gail Gideon Show” is beloved by millions of single women who tune-in for her advice on the power of self-reinvention. But fame comes at a price. After all, what does a woman who has staked her career on being single do when she finds herself falling in love? And is the person who is harassing her in increasingly troubling ways a misguided fan or a true danger to Gail and her daughter, Nic? 

Fourteen-year-old Nic has always felt that she pales in comparison to her vibrant, outgoing mother. Plagued by a fear of social situations, she is most comfortable at the stable where she spends her afternoons. But when a riding accident lands Nic in the hospital, she awakens from her coma changed. Suddenly, she has no fear at all and her disconcerting behavior lands her in one risky situation after another. And no one, least of all her mother, can guess what she will do next… (publisher)

My take:  Every Wild Heart is the story of a mother and daughter. Gail Gideon (GG) is a late-night radio talk show host who lives with her fourteen year old daughter Nic. GG has been divorced from Nic’s father for several years but has an amicable relationship with him.

GG has a fan who seems to be moving into stalker mode so she’s on edge about her daughter’s safety as well as her own. Nic is an anxious girl who would rather stay home than go to school. The one thing she looks forward to is riding her horse. She goes to the stables every day after school and that’s what gets her through the school day. When Nic is injured at the stables life for her and Gigi takes a turn.

The theme of letting go – of anger and fear – runs through the novel. What would happen if Gigi started to follow her heart and see where life could take her?  She can learn a lot from watching her daughter as she starts to live with a braver heart.

I enjoyed how Meg Donohue’s story played out through the perspectives of mother and daughter in alternating chapters. The characters were interesting and seemed authentic and at the end of the novel I wished there were another hundred pages.


 

A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

  • a-million-little-things-feb17Title:  A Million Little Things
  • Series:  Mischief Bay #3
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  From the bestselling author of The Girls of Mischief Bay and The Friends We Keep comes a twisty tale of family dynamics that explores what can go terribly, hysterically wrong when the line between friendship and family blurs…

Zoe Saldivar is more than just single – she’s ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it’s up to her to stop living in isolation.

Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated – her first new friend is Jen’s widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen’s brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe’s own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam’s flustered, Jen’s annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think “alone” doesn’t sound so bad, after all.

Friendship isn’t just one thing – it’s a million little things, and no one writes them with more heart and humor than book club sensation Susan Mallery!  (publisher)

My take:  A Million Little Things is the third book in the Mischief Bay trilogy but it can stand alone.

Zoe is frustrated with how she’s let others determine her life and happiness to this point. She’s not happy with her job and isn’t sure she made the right decision in buying a house. After all, she bought it because she hoped her boyfriend would want to get married and they could raise a family there. Then reality stepped in and she broke up with the boyfriend.

Zoe’s friend Jen is married and has a toddler. She also is filled with anxiety about almost everything in her life. Even though her husband, mother and Zoe try to convince her to get help she’s determined to get control of things herself. I really felt sorry for her. Anxiety is not an easy thing to live with and that’s what she tried to do.

Pam, Jen’s mom and a widow of two years, is learning how to live without her husband. She’d been doing a pretty good job of it until her loved ones started throwing challenges her way. They weren’t necessarily bad things but they challenged her idea of how things should be. She was starting to feel out of control. Lucky for her she has a tight-knit group of friends. But then they started to make her question how she was reacting to situations. An interesting predicament, for sure.

I liked this novel about people learning to make adjustments in life. Being able to do that means growth, I think. And don’t we all want to keep growing as we move forward in life? I read the second book in the trilogy and look forward to reading the first at some point. If you’re a fan of Susan Mallery and contemporary fiction I think you’ll enjoy A Million Little Things.


About the author:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative, ” and Booklist says, “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. Visit her at www.susanmallery.com.


PRAISE FOR THE MISCHIEF BAY SERIES

“Once again, Susan Mallery has created an inviting world that envelops her readers’ senses and sensibilities… Fans of Jodi Picoult, Debbie Macomber, and Elin Hilderbrand will assuredly fall for The Girls of Mischief Bay.” — Bookreporter on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Mallery skillfully depicts three very different women in different stages of their romantic relationships who enter into unbreakable friendships… Will appeal to fans of women’s fiction, especially such friendship books as Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club.”
— Booklist on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Fresh and engaging…the writing is strong, the dialogue genuine and believable. There’s a generational subtext that mirrors reality and the complexities of adult relationships…filled with promise of a new serial that’s worth following.” — Fort Worth Star-Telegram on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Romance superstar Mallery begins a new women’s fiction series with a novel that is both heart-wrenching and warmhearted… A discerning, affecting look at three women facing surprising change and the powerful and uplifting impact of friends.”— Kirkus Reviews on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“You will become totally invested in each of these characters and their struggles and root for a happy ending. Can’t wait for the next installment from Ms. Mallery and The Girls of Mischief Bay!” — Fresh Fictionon The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Mallery’s series debut is an emotional lesson in triumphs and tragedies told in her iconic eloquent style… Her exceptional handling of the climactic hard knocks and joyful events, and her tiny canine co-star, rocked.” — RT Book Reviews on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Highly original and fascinating page-turner… Mallery brings our inner lives to the surface and evokes deep emotions from her readers.” — RT Book Reviews on The Friends We Keep

“The characters will have you crying, laughing, and falling in love… another brilliantly well-written story.” — San Francisco Book Review on The Friends We Keep

“Gabby, Haley, and Nicole are down-to-earth real women with whom readers will be able to identify, and Mallery successfully balances each story line. The women’s stories and the depth of support they provide one another make this an engaging read to be savored all the way through.” — Publishers Weekly on The Friends We Keep

“[A]n intersecting tale of the ties that bind and strangle…a novel about the relationships among women, friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, and stepchildren, with a strongly woven romantic subplot.” — Library Journal on The Friends We Keep

the-girls-of-mischief-bay  the friends we keep (2:23)  a-million-little-things-feb17

The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

  • the-mothers-promiseTitle:  The Mother’s Promise
  • Author:  Sally Hepworth
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  All their lives, Alice Stanhope and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two, living quietly in northern California. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and needs to fight for her life. 

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family.

Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, and the new ways in which families are forged.  (publisher)

My take:  After reading the blurb for The Mother’s Promise I had no doubt it would be an emotional read. And it was. But don’t let that stop you from reading this novel. Yes, it’s about people facing devastatingly difficult circumstances but the characters were relatable on one level or another. I found myself asking What would I do? on more than one occasion.

My heart went out to fifteen year old Zoe who dealt with social anxiety disorder. How would she handle her mother’s illness and the possibility of life after her mother was gone? I couldn’t even imagine Alice’s (Zoe’s mother) dilemma of who would see to Zoe’s care in the future. I thought Zoe’s school experiences rang true in how she was treated by schoolmates and teachers. Zoe’s friend Harry was a godsend in more ways than one – especially in making her see she wasn’t alone in how she felt.

Two professionals involved in Alice and Zoe’s case will become very important to them. Each is dealing with personal heartache but go above and beyond when it comes to supporting Alice and Zoe. The Mother’s Promise is a heartfelt novel that I can recommend to fans of Sally Hepworth and contemporary fiction.


About the author:

Sally Hepworth is a former event planner and human resources professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK, and Canada, and now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and three young children. She is currently working on her next novel.

Visit Sally’s Website at: http://www.sallyhepworthauthor.com

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

  • on-second-thought-2117Title:  On Second Thought
  • Author:  Kristan Higgins
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  480
  • Published:  January 2017 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Two sisters, Kate and Ainsley, have recently suffered the loss of their partners. Kate’s husband of a few months has died and Ainsley’s boyfriend of eleven years broke up with her in a humiliating way. Kate is grieving her loss like one would expect and so is Ainsley.

Eventually the two sisters wind up living together in Kate’s home. This proves to be a second chance of sorts for the sisters to get to know each other. They are seven years apart and really only share a father. Ainsley never felt her step-mother, Kate’s mom, accepted her and that affected her relationship with Kate. Living together now as women in their 30s gives new perspective to both.

Yes, this is a novel about grief and going through the phases but it was also about sisters and the many facets of that relationship. I could relate. I loved Ainsley and Kate – very different women outwardly but quite similar at the core.

Kristan Higgins writes with her usual humor and ease about the human condition. I enjoyed On Second Thought very much and recommend to fans of Higgins and women’s fiction.

About the author:

Kristan Higgins is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the beloved Blue Heron series. She has won two RITA® Awards from the Romance Writers of America and is a five-time nominee for the Kirkus Prize for best work of fiction.

 

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

  • the-things-we-keep-pbTitle:  The Things We Keep
  • Author:  Sally Hepworth
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published: January 2017 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Anna Forster is only thirty-eight years old, but her mind is slowly slipping away from her. Armed only with her keen wit and sharp-eyed determination, she knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. But Anna has a secret: she does not plan on staying. She also knows there’s just one another resident who is her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

Eve Bennett, suddenly thrust into the role of single mother to her bright and vivacious seven-year-old daughter, finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke, she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them. Eve has her own secrets, and her own desperate circumstances that raise the stakes even higher.  (publisher)

My take:  The Things We Keep is an emotional tale about people whose memories have vanished or been taken by events beyond their control. My father-in-law died from complications of Alzheimer’s several years ago so I have a basic understanding of this horrible disease. Sally Hepworth offers another facet of the disease with characters who are in their thirties and battling the loss of memory.

Anna and Luke are two people who’ve been diagnosed with different early forms of dementia. They meet at a residential care facility that is also for elderly who can’t live independently. The story is also about Eve, a recent widow and mother of a seven-year-old daughter, Clementine. Her life turned on a dime when her husband killed himself. She is the new cook at the home. There are several supporting characters – employees of Rosalind House and a few of the residents – whose presence added richness to the story.

The story is beautifully told and one I can recommend to readers – even though the topic of Alzheimer’s can be so off-putting and upsetting. It’s a compassionate novel that made me smile at times and grab for a tissue at other times. I know I’ll be thinking about The Things We Keep for a long time and I look forward to reading more from Hepworth.


Praise for THE THINGS WE KEEP – now available in paperback

“‘For better or for worse’ takes on new meaning in Hepworth’s devastatingly beautiful love story.” – People

“This book is such a page-turner! At the end, we were left full of hope and love.” – Women’s Day

“…an unconventional tearjerker of a love story… poignant and nuanced.” – Publishers Weekly

“With startling insight and intense compassion, Hepworth creates a character who watches her intellectual world implode while at the same time experiencing a new romance. The story is a rare gem.” – Columbus Dispatch


About the author:

Sally Hepworth lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and three children. She is currently working on her next novel.