Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Published: May 21, 2019 – Lake Union Publishing

Review copy from the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description: Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Not at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?

Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.

Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to. (publisher)

My take:  On the day that seventeen-year-old Raymond’s closest (and only) friend moves to California he meets Mrs. Gutermann in the hallway of their New York apartment building. She’s in her nineties and is blind. She’s been waiting for the man who helps her with errands, etc. for several weeks. He doesn’t answer his phone and she’s worried. She asks anyone who passes her in the building if they’ve seen Luis Velez. One thing leads to another and Raymond finds himself on a quest to find out what happened to Luis. Along the way he’ll find a new friend or two – especially in Mrs. G.  I loved their relationship – how it grew and the impact it had on both of them. Truly special. They have things to learn from each other. On a larger scale I liked how the novel (and all of the books I’ve read by this author) makes the point that if people would act out of kindness and empathy the world would be a better place. I’m so glad I had the chance to read this book.

There are discussion questions included.


About the author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than thirty published and forthcoming books. An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has released her first book of photos, 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World. Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than twenty-three languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow Book List, and Jumpstart the World was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013, and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other journals and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories, California Shorts, and New York Times bestseller Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for the O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories. She is the founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, spoken at Cornell University twice, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. For more information and book club questions, please visit the author at http://www.catherineryanhyde.com.


 

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Published: May 7, 2019 – Gallery Books

Review copy provided by the publisher

Description: With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.

When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.  (publisher)

My take:  Kristy Woodson Harvey takes readers back to Peachtree Bluff – home base to the Murphy family. No matter how far away life takes them they know they can always go home to Peachtree Bluff when all they need is family. Reading the third book, The Southern Side of Paradise, was like coming home. I love the small coastal town setting where everyone knows everyone, the mostly quirky characters, and the Murphy family with all their issues. Life is never dull. This book is overflowing with secrets that come to light, life-changing decisions that need to be made, and a family of sisters and mother who, no matter how annoyed, disappointed, or sad they make each other, will always be the safe harbor when life gets rough. I’m sad to see this trilogy end but also excited to see what Kristy Woodson Harvey dreams up next. Read this trilogy in order. You’ll love it!


Praise for Kristy Woodson Harvey:

With Kristy Woodson Harvey’s signature charm, wit, and heart, The Southern Side of Paradise is another masterful Peachtree Bluff novel that proves she is a “Southern writer with staying power” (Booklist).
One of the hottest new Southern writers.” —Parade.com
 
“Writers come and writers go, but Kristy Woodson Harvey is here to stay. The warmth, wit, and wisdom of this novel pave her way into the exclusive sisterhood of southern writers.” —The Huffington Post 
 

“The south is known for breeding brilliant storytellers and Kristy Woodson Harvey has proven herself to be one of the south’s most heartfelt female driven authors of our generation.”—Jaime Pressly, star of CBS’s Mom


 

The Little Teashop on Main by Jodi Thomas

The Little Teashop on Main by Jodi Thomas

Pub. date:  May 7, 2019 – HQN Books

Review copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  A rainy-day ritual—a tea party between three little girls—becomes the framework of not only their friendship, but their lives.

Redheaded, curly-haired Zoe is open-hearted, kind and free-spirited, and dreams of becoming a famous actor in New York City. Shy Emily struggles with mental health but has the heart and soul of a writer. And Shannon—tall, athletic, strong—has a deep sense of loyalty that will serve her well when she heads off to military college.

As Zoe, Emily and Shannon grow into women—forging careers, following dreams and finding love—they’ll learn that life doesn’t always unfold the way they want it to, but through it all, the one constant is each other, and their regular tea parties. And when the unthinkable happens, the girls must come together to face the greatest test of all. (publisher)

My take:  The Little Teashop On Main is the story of 3 forever friends and the man who loved them all.  Zoe, Emily and Shannon couldn’t be more different but they were brought together as little girls and their friendship grew over the course of their lives. They were more like sisters and stayed loyal and protective over the years. Jack was their friend and loved them as such, with one exception. He loved them all but was in love with one.

This novel felt a bit different from author Jodi Thomas’s other books. I felt a dream-like quality from the very first page that continued throughout. I liked that aspect but wasn’t sure how things would end up – as I usually do with her novels. That said, it still had the same heart and humor that I’ve come to expect in a Jodi Thomas book. I liked it very much. Just be prepared for an emotional journey with this one. Recommended to fans of Jodi Thomas and novels about friends/sisters.


PRAISE FOR JODI THOMAS, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR

“You can count on Jodi Thomas to give you a satisfying and memorable read.”
Catherine Anderson, New York Times bestselling author

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

“Compelling and beautifully written, it is exactly the kind of heart-wrenching,
emotional story one has come to expect from Jodi Thomas.”
Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“This tale will grab readers, who will fall in love with the main characters and be just as
enamored of the others.” —Library Journal, starred review, on Lone Heart Pass


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 served 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, 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 View From Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

The View From Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

Published April 30, 2019 – MIRA

Review copy provided by the publisher; NetGalley

Description:

A poignant and powerful story about how one woman’s best intentions lead to the worst of situations, and how love helps her to heal and ultimately triumph.

From the outside looking in, Lauren Delaney has a life to envy—a successful career, a solid marriage to a prominent surgeon and two beautiful daughters who are off to good colleges. But on her twenty-fourth wedding anniversary Lauren makes a decision that will change everything.

Lauren won’t pretend things are perfect anymore. She defies the controlling husband who has privately mistreated her throughout their marriage and files for divorce. And as she starts her new life, she meets a kindred spirit—a man who is also struggling with the decision to end his unhappy marriage.

But Lauren’s husband wants his “perfect” life back and his actions are shocking. Facing an uncertain future, Lauren discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had as she fights for the love and happiness she deserves. (publisher)

My take:  I find Robyn Carr’s characters always easy to cheer on. In this case, it’s Lauren, a woman who has waited far too long (for mostly understandable reasons) to break free from an abusive husband. Her circumstances aren’t what I’d consider typical in that she has the means to leave and transition to a new life. It was interesting to see how her story played out as life offered up new and wonderful possibilities.

There’s a secondary plot line about a priest changing his path in life that while I thought it interesting I’m not sure how accurate the details of that change are. In the end I don’t think the book needed to include this storyline at all. I liked the novel but not as much as most of Carr’s other books.


 


					

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Pub. date:  May 7, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

ARC provided by the publisher, Tandem Literary, NetGalley

Description:

Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist.

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews’ signature wit, heart, and charm. (publisher)

My take:  Drue Campbell is a thirty-something woman at loose ends.  Her mother recently died, she lost her job, and an injury has ended her favorite hobby. Just when it doesn’t seem like life can get any worse she is forced to accept a job offer from her estranged father. On the bright side, she discovers that she’s inherited her grandparents’ cottage on Sunset Beach. So at least she has a roof over her head – or a partial roof. Working at her father’s personal injury law office could expand Drue’s horizons and perhaps her non-existent dating life. She’ll find a future she’d never thought possible. Mary Kay Andrews filled her latest novel with interesting characters, a sunny Florida Gulf Coast setting, and a mystery or two that might involve someone close to Drue. I really enjoyed Sunset Beach and hope for a sequel. The possibilities for Drue and company are endless.


About the author:

Mary Kay Andrews is The New York Times bestselling author of The High Tide Club, The Beach House Cookbook, The Weekenders, Beach Town, Save the Date, Ladies’ Night, Christmas Bliss, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former journalist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Connect with MKA:

Website: https://marykayandrews.com
Newsletter: https://marykayandrews.com/newsletters/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marykayandrewsauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marykayandrews/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mkayandrews
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21387.Mary_Kay_Andrews


 

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

April 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review copy provided by the publisher

Description: Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game―and his heart―to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins. (publisher)

My take: The Girl He Used To Know is the story of Annika and Jonathan. They dated in college and then went their separate ways afterward. Ten years later they run into each other in the grocery store and decide to get to know each other again. But this is much more than a second chance at love story. Early on Jonathan discovers there’s something a bit different about Annika. What is revealed is that she’s an amazing person. She’s very intelligent, a great chess player, and quite beautiful. She also misses social cues to a degree that makes most others uncomfortable. The author addresses this pointedly late in the novel. I don’t want to say more because it’s interesting to experience the character development as the novel progresses. The Girl He Used To Know is a story of unconditional love and about finding one’s strengths and potential while facing extraordinary challenges. I quite liked it and look forward to reading more of this author’s work.


About the author:

Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.


 

The Goodbye Café by Mariah Stewart

 

THE GOODBYE CAFÉ

The Hudson Sisters series, Book 3
On sale March 26, 2019
Trade Paperback • Price: $16.00 • ISBN: 9781501145124 eBook • Price: $7.99 • ISBN: 9781501145162

Review copy provided by Gallery Books and NetGalley

Description:

California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.

But Allie’s divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie’s direction—she just doesn’t know it yet.

She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.

With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of “this amazing, endearing family of women” (Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author) be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep? (publisher)

My take: The Goodbye Café is the third book in the Hudson Sisters series. I suppose you could read it as a stand alone but you’d miss out on a lot of context so I recommend reading books one and two first. The Goodbye Café is Allie’s story. She’s been the hard-edged, abrasive sister who seemed determined not to gain sympathy from anyone. She’s a complex character and we finally get to see what’s behind the emotional armor she wears when dealing with almost everyone. I enjoyed her story and seeing her strength of character become apparent to all. If you enjoy novels about family – sisters, specifically – you’ll want to read this book and the rest of the series. I’m hopeful there will be another book!


About the author:

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her website at MariahStewart.com, like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram @Mariah_Stewart_Books.