Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Pub. date: November 13, 2018 – Random House

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials. Her classes have become so popular that she’s hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant. Iris doesn’t know how to bake but she needs to keep her mind off a big decision she sorely regrets.

When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community—just when they need it the most. (publisher)

My take:  I liked this follow-up as much or maybe even more than The Story of Arthur Truluv. We met Arthur, Maddy and Lucille in that book and the story continues in Night of Miracles. I found the characters in the small Missouri town of Mason charming and recognizable. I grew up in a small midwestern town and know “these people” and wanted to know them all – from octogenarian Lucille to Tiny, the town cabbie to Iris, a new arrival to town (and several more people). They’re all at various stages in life and learning to let go of long-held fears. I loved their courage to move forward despite their current and past challenges. The novel is told in short chapters that felt like vignettes but soon became connected. It was a comforting read that I quite enjoyed and recommend to fans of Elizabeth Berg and novels with a small town setting.


 

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The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Pub. date:  Oct. 2, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Review copy from the publisher

Description:  When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.  

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child. (publisher)

My take:  What would you do to save your unborn child, the last connection to your husband who was killed in the war? Caroline (Carly) Sears’ answer is “anything”. And that is why she agrees to travel to another time to get medical help for her daughter’s heart. If she doesn’t, her baby doesn’t have much hope of survival after her birth. Carly will do whatever it takes to give her daughter a chance at life.

So the question I began with led to other questions such as could I place trust in a friend like Carly did in Hunter, her brother-in-law? Could I be as brave as Carly? Would I be able to travel alone to a place where I knew no one and then deal with life-altering issues? After finishing I don’t have an answer for every question but I would aspire to be as courageous as Carly.

Diane Chamberlain’s time-travel story is very accessible to readers who normally don’t go in for that sub-genre. That would include me! This novel is a true page turner that had me looking forward to getting back to the story whenever I had to set it down. It’s an emotional story that covers several decades from the 1960s to the 2020s. I enjoyed it all and recommend it to fans of Diane Chamberlain.


 

The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman

  • Title:  The Recipe Box
  • Author:  Viola Shipman
  • Genre:  Fiction; Food/recipes
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  March 2018 – St. Martin’s Press; Thomas Dunne Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Growing up in northern Michigan, Samantha “Sam” Mullins felt trapped on her family’s orchard and pie shop, so she left with dreams of making her own mark in the world. But life as an overworked, undervalued sous chef at a reality star’s New York bakery is not what Sam dreamed.

When the chef embarrasses Sam, she quits and returns home. Unemployed, single, and defeated, she spends a summer working on her family’s orchard cooking and baking alongside the women in her life—including her mother, Deana, and grandmother, Willo. One beloved, flour-flecked, ink-smeared recipe at a time, Sam begins to learn about and understand the women in her life, her family’s history, and her passion for food through their treasured recipe box.

As Sam discovers what matters most she opens her heart to a man she left behind, but who now might be the key to her happiness.  (publisher)

My take:  The Recipe Box is about a young pastry chef who leaves her job in New York when she can’t stand to work for her obnoxious boss one more second. She heads home to Michigan and her family’s orchard/pie shop where her mom and grandma will give her some much-needed TLC.

It’s a story about family, tradition, and learning to trust – yourself and others. Scattered throughout are scrumptious sounding recipes for various baked goods featured in the novel. I plan to try some so this book will go on my cookbook shelf next to my own family cookbook. Recommended to fans of charming, uplifting novels and foodie fiction.


About the author:

Viola Shipman is a pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction. To date, The Charm Bracelet and The Hope Chest have been translated into over a dozen languages and become international bestsellers. The Charm Bracelet was named a 2017 Michigan Notable Book. Rouse lives in Michigan and writes regularly for People, Good Housekeeping, and Coastal Living, among other places, and is a contributor to All Things Considered.


 

Silver Threads by Bette Lee Crosby

  • Title:  Silver Threads
  • Series:  Memory House #5
  • Author:  Bette Lee Crosby
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  248
  • Published:  September 2016 – Bent Pine Publishing
  • Source:  Author

Description:  On the day Jennifer Green was born a pile of stones was placed alongside her scale of life…

A few were the dark gray of sorrow, but most were a pale blush color. The largest stone was the rose hue of a sunrise. That one would be placed on the scale the day she married Drew Bishop. Even more brilliant but a wee bit smaller was the pink stone glistening with specs of silver. That one would bring Jennifer a baby girl named Brooke.

The Keeper of the Scale smiled. Seeing such happiness laid out before him was pleasing to his eye.

Since the beginning of time, he and he alone has been challenged with the task of keeping each person’s scale in balance. A bit of happiness and then a small stone of sorrow, until the lives he has in his charge are measured evenly.

You might think such power is universal, but it is not. There are silver threads that crisscross the landscape of scales and connect strangers to one another. Not even the Keeper of the Scale can control the events traveling through those threads; the only thing he can do is try to equalize the balance once it has been thrown off. There is nothing more he can do for Jennifer; now he must find the thread that leads to Drew if he is to have the love he deserves.  (publisher)

My take:  When the author contacted me to read Silver Threads I wasn’t sure I should since it’s the 5th book in a series but she assured me it could stand alone. I would have to agree with Bette Lee Crosby.  Although context would enhance the experience of reading the novel I didn’t feel lost.

This is the story of Drew and Brooke, father and daughter, who find their life turned upside down when the unthinkable happens. Their life, through no fault of their own, changes overnight and they are left to move forward when they have no idea how. But they do, one step at a time. They continue to face challenges that most people would consider “worst nightmare” scenarios. They survive with hope of someday thriving in a way they used to take for granted.

Silver Threads reminded me of a fairy tale where evil lurks around some corners but good will ultimately prevail. I enjoyed Bette Lee Crosby’s story and recommend it to fans of novels with a hint of magic.


About Bette Lee Crosby

USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby’s books are “Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances.” – Midwest Book Review

The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby’s writing is, “A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures.”

Samantha from Reader’s Favorite raves, “Crosby writes the type of book you can’t stop thinking about long after you put it down.”

“Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her works of fiction; the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win nineteen awards for her work; these include: The Royal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal, Reader’s Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award.

Crosby’s published works to date are: Silver Threads (2016), The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd (2016), Baby Girl (2016), What the Heart Remembers (2015), The Loft (2015), Memory House (2015), Passing through Perfect (2015), Wishing for Wonderful (2014), Blueberry Hill (2014), Previously Loved Treasures (2014), Jubilee’s Journey (2013), What Matters Most (2013), The Twelfth Child (2012), Life in the Land of IS (2012), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2011), Spare Change (2011).

For more information please visit Bette Lee Crosby’s website


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Bloomsbury  June 6, 2017

Publisher’s Description:

The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin.

After his mother’s death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she’d moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.

The islanders call it “Grief Cottage,” because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.

Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that–an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.


About the Author:

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed books, including Publishing, a memoir, and the novels FloraFather Melancholy’s Daughter, and Evensong. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Woodstock, New York.

Book tour schedule

NPR interview with the author


Praise for Gail Godwin:

“Something between a search for understanding and a mournful confession . . . A testament to the power of storytelling to bring solace when none other is possible.” —Washington Post on FLORA

“Remorse may be the defining emotion for our narrator, Helen, but Godwin the writer has nothing to regret: Flora is an elegant little creeper of a story.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air

Flora is a beautiful examination of character and the far-reaching repercussions of our actions. Gail Godwin brings grace, honesty, and enormous intelligence to every page.” —Ann Patchett

Flora is Godwin at her best, a compelling story about Helen’s growth of consciousness told with fearless candor and the poignant wisdom of hindsight.” —Boston Globe

“A chronicle of her life as a writer whose career has been boosted and buffeted by the vagaries of the publishing industry. She has made of it a suspenseful account, with . . . emotional depth, too.” —Wall Street Journal on PUBLISHING

“A memoir in the old sense of the term, a story with a scope of five decades written by an author of some renown . . . You don’t have to be a hungry writer or an aspiring editor to appreciate Publishing. You don’t have to have followed Godwin’s career as a reader either, though the millions who have will be treated to a look behind the scenes.” —New York Times Book Review on PUBLISHING

“Godwin affectionately divulges the various moments, places, and characters in her life that eventually slipped into her 14 novels. These disclosures leave you hungry to reread her oeuvre with the newfound secrets in mind.” —Entertainment Weekly on PUBLISHING

“This memoir by the acclaimed, prolific novelist is testament to both her talent and her perseverance.” – O, the Oprah Magazine on PUBLISHING


US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends on June 14, 2017


All The Best People by Sonja Yoerg

  • Title:  All The Best People
  • Author:  Sonja Yoerg
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  May 2017 – Berkley Trade
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else. 

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother. 

An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives. (Publisher)

My take:  Carole remembers her mother before life changed. She remembers her happy family when she was a little girl. But things changed when her little sister was born. Was what Carole believed to be family history the complete truth? And is she destined to live the same life as her mother? All The Best People is the story of a family and what happens when the matriarch begins to feel life slipping out of her grasp.

Sonja Yoerg’s novel had me from the first page. My heart broke for Carole as she was going through the frightening realization that her life was changing and she couldn’t do anything about it. She was terrified of ending up like her mother. The book alternates between Carole in the 1970s and Carole’s mother in the 1920s and ’30s – a satisfying way to show how treatment changed through the decades.

Given the serious topic I didn’t expect to enjoy the novel as much as I did. I looked forward to picking it up each time – a credit to the author’s storytelling skill. Recommended for fans of the author and family dramas.


About the author:

Sonja Yoerg grew up in Stowe, Vermont, where she financed her college education by waitressing at the Trapp Family Lodge. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, and studied learning in blue jays, kangaroo rats and spotted hyenas, among other species. Her non-fiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox (Bloomsbury USA) was published in 2001.

While her two daughters were young, Sonja taught in their schools in California. Now that they are in college, she writes full-time.

She currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband. Her novels, HOUSE BROKEN and MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE, are published by Penguin/NAL.


 

The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

  • Title:  The Shadow Sister
  • Series:  The Seven Sisters #3
  • Author:  Lucinda Riley
  • Pages:  512
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  April 2017 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Star D’Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father—the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District—just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter—when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life…  (publisher)

My take:  The Shadow Sister is the first book in the Seven Sisters series I’ve read and I had no moments of feeling lost due to not having read the first two books.

I enjoyed reading about Star’s path to finding where she came from and where she might go in the future. Lucinda Riley’s novel is a dual-storyline taking place in the early 20th century in England and 2007 England. Characters including King Edward, Beatrix Potter and many lesser-known (fictional?) yet no less interesting people filled in the spaces of Star’s background. I loved the historical storyline. I also liked the more modern story of Star meeting possible relatives and new friends. Everyone had a place in her story or in helping her figure it out.

I’m sure I’ll go back and read the first two novels at some point and will definitely look forward to reading Star’s sister CeCe’s story. Recommended to fans of historical fiction. The series has been optioned for a television series.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including The Seven Sisters and The Storm Sister. Her books have sold more than eight million copies in thirty four languages. Lucinda lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and West Cork, Ireland.


Praise for THE SHADOW SISTER:

“Riley’s engaging and mesmerizing story of self-discovery and love, while making the complex tale of the Seven Sisters sufficiently clear, can be perfectly read as a stand-alone… This book will appeal to readers of Edwardian novels and Jane Austen-style fiction. Fans of the series will undoubtedly be pleased with this latest installment in the ‘Seven Sisters’ saga.” Library Journal (Starred Reviw)

“The frame story structure serves this installment well—the past and present narratives are equally engaging… Another pleasant jaunt down a genealogical rabbit hole.” Kirkus Reviews

 “I’ve loved the Seven Sisters series from the start and this is my favourite so far. Riley’s trademark lavish detail, glamorous settings and wonderful characters are all present in this treat of a novel. The perfect curl-up-in-an-armchair read.” – Daily Mail (UK)

The Shadow Sister really is Lucinda’s best yet. The scope of this series is breathtaking and each book is more captivating than the last.” – Iona Grey, author of Letters to the Lost

 “Wonderful! Absolutely impossible to put down! The Seven Sisters books just keep getting better and better.” – Tracy Rees, author of Amy Snow

“A deliciously twisting plot with clues cleverly paced along the way. I could hardly wait to solve the mystery of Star’s origins. Thoroughly addictive storytelling with a moving, emotional heart.” – Dinah Jefferies, author of The Tea Planter’s Wife

“The Seven Sisters series is proving to be a remarkable reading phenomenon.” – Lancashire Post (UK)


THE SHADOW SISTER: Book Three by Lucinda Riley

Atria Hardcover | ISBN: 9781476759944| On sale: April 18, 2017 | 512 pages | $26.00

eBook: Atria | ISBN: 9781476759951| On sale: April 18, 2017 | 512 pages | $13.99

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