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

ORDER:


 

Guest Post by Ellen Meeropol

Today I’m pleased to welcome Ellen Meeropol to Bookfan. I asked her about the inspiration for Kinship of Clover:

Three things inspired me to write my new novel, Kinship of Clover.

First of all, there was a character who just would not leave me alone. Jeremy was nine when I said goodbye to him at the end of my first novel, House Arrest. He was a minor character, a quiet, sensitive little guy who grew up in an oddball cult who worshipped the Egyptian Goddess Isis. Jeremy loved plants, hung out in the family greenhouse, and liked to draw. I never would have expected him to harass me so mercilessly, insisting that I bring him alive on the page again. Oh, he did it nicely, whispering, “Don’t you want to know what happens to me?” Of course, I did want to know. And when I found out that there was something amazing that he had kept from me all through the years of writing, revising and promoting House Arrest, well, then I was hooked. Jeremy deserved a book of his own.

The second inspiration was my mother, who developed Alzheimer’s disease long before I wrote this novel. I spent a lot of time with her during the final years of her illness and I wrote down many of our conversations, often verbatim. As she had been when her brain was intact, my demented mother was brash and smart and funny and irreverent and occasionally spectacularly insightful. After her death, I put that notebook away for several years. The loss was raw and I couldn’t imagine revisiting that material. But years later, when I started writing this book, I found myself thinking about my mother, and weaving some of her some aspects of her personality and her humor and her experience into a character named Flo.

The third thing was climate change. I’ve always been interested in global warming, but it felt far away until 2008, when my granddaughter Josie was born. Then, as I started reading the scientific reports more carefully, I realized how personal this fight must be. At that point, Jeremy’s interest in drawing and growing plants exploded into his obsession with disappearing and extinct plants. And when those plants started burrowing under his skin, I had to finish this book. For Jeremy, for my grandchildren and yours and all the children of the world.

Of course, there’s a long road between inspiration and a finished novel manuscript. Jeremy’s fascination with disappearing plant species is logically connected to climate change, but fiction is better at asking important questions than answering them. So Jeremy had to come into conflict with different ways of addressing our pressing global warming issues. One was a group of college-aged climate justice activists, and another was Flo, who had been a political activist for six decades and had advice for Jeremy about how to change the world. How to get Jeremy and Flo together? Ah, Flo’s granddaughter Zoe was another minor character in House Arrest, and when they meet up again in this book, there’s chemistry there!

It all starts with inspiration. But then comes the work. The challenge and pleasure of writing fiction is getting to know the characters as deeply as possible, fitting the pieces of the puzzle together into a plot with conflict and something important at stake, and – somehow – bring it all to a satisfying conclusion. I love this work!

Thanks for sharing your inspiration with us today, Ellen!


About the Author:

Ellen Meeropol is fascinated by characters on the fault lines of political upheaval. Previous work includes a dramatic script telling the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children which has been produced in four U.S. cities, most recently in Boston. Elli is the wife of Robert Meeropol, youngest son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Elli is a former nurse and independent bookstore event coordinator and the author of two previous novels, House Arrest and On Hurricane Island. She is a founding member of Straw Dog Writers Guild. Short fiction and essays have appeared in Bridges, DoveTales, Pedestal, Rumpus, Portland Magazine, and the Writer’s Chronicle.  Connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and GoodReads.


About the Book:
He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants.

As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists devotion to activism might have him and those closest to him tangled up in more trouble than he was prepared to face. With the help of a determined, differently abled flame from his childhood, Zoe; her deteriorating, once rabble-rousing grandmother; and some shocking and illuminating revelations from the past, Jeremy must weigh completing his mission to save the plants against protecting the ones he loves, and confront the most critical question of all: how do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?

Add to GoodReads:

Kinship of Clover

Available on Amazon.


Advance Praise:

“Ellen Meeropol has an uncanny knack for examining the big topics of our contemporary world and putting a human face on them. In Kinship of Clover, she does this with intelligence and a big generous heart. An important book by a unique writer, it’s a must read.” —Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle

“Midway through this wonderful novel, you will find a woman dancing in her wheelchair. That scene is one of many memorable moments in a story about young people organizing for a sustainable future, even as their once-radical elders try to hold on to a gradually disappearing past. This is a book about time and love, politics and family, and it is sharply observant and deeply compassionate.” —Charles Baxter, author of The Feast of Love

“Ellen Meeropol brings her keen political sense and psychological understanding to this story of family secrets and family trauma. Kinship of Clover is compelling and the characters stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.” —Nancy Felton, co-owner, Broadside Bookshop (Northampton, MA)


Tour Schedule: 

April 3: CelticLady’s Reviews (Spotlight)
April 4: Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
April 6: Lovely Bookshelf (Review)
April 7: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen (Guest Post)
April 7: Samw00w (Review)
April 11: Jorie Loves A Story (Review)
April 13: Angel M. B. Chadwick (Interview)
April 17: The Book Connection (Interview)
April 18: Bookfan (Guest Post)
April 19: Everything Distils Into Reading (Review)
April 20: A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
April 21: Bookilicious (Review)
April 26: Readaholic Zone (Review)
April 28: Sportochick’s Musings (Review)
May 5: True Book Addict (Review)


 

The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

  • the-whole-towns-talking-1129Title:  The Whole Town’s Talking: A Novel
  • Author:  Fannie Flagg
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Publish date:  November 29, 2016 – Random House
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  The Whole Town’s Talking is the story of a town: Elmwood Springs, Missouri. Fannie Flagg introduces the reader to the town founder Lordor Nordstrom who came from Sweden in 1889 and found the perfect spot for the dairy farm he’d dreamed of having. Word spread and other immigrants followed. The town of Elmwood Springs grew from these early families.

Anyone who’s grown up in a small town will recognize the people of Elmwood Springs – they are everyman and woman. Flagg’s characters live ordinary lives and rise to unexpected occasions when needed. The Whole Town’s Talking (also the name of the weekly society column in the local newspaper) is a lovely, folksy tale that I enjoyed. The chapters are short making it an easy reading experience. I read it over the course of ten days which was unusually long for me but I’m glad it did because it never failed to make me smile and I want to enjoy a book like that for as long as possible!

In her wonderfully humorous and warm style Fannie Flagg explains the mysteries of life and death –  at least, how she sees them 🙂  Recommended to fans of the author and stories about small town life.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

  • and-every-morningTitle:  And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
  • Author:  Fredrik Backman
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  96
  • Published:  November 2016 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  This is a novella about a boy and his Grandpa. Noah and Grandpa have a wonderful relationship – one that Grandpa considers his second chance since he wasn’t always around for his son, Noah’s dad. Grandpa and Noahnoah (that’s what Grandpa calls him) “get” each other. They like the same things. When Grandpa starts forgetting things Noah reassures him even though he’s not quite sure what’s going on.

Fredrik Backman’s characters get to me every time. This time it’s a tale about life through the eyes of an old man and a little boy. Maybe it’s because of where I am in my own life that I could relate. Backman had me smiling on one page and tearing up on the next.

I liked the simple illustrations that were sprinkled through the novella. It took only an hour or so to read and I was left smiling as I turned the last page. It was lovely. Recommended.

 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Next by Stephanie Gangi

  • the-nextTitle:  The Next: A Novel
  • Author:  Stephanie Gangi
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  October 2016 – St. Martin’s Press

Description: Is there a right way to die? If so, Joanna DeAngelis has it all wrong. She’s consumed by betrayal, spending her numbered days cyberstalking Ned McGowan, much younger ex, and watching him thrive in the spotlight with someone new, while she wastes away. She’s every woman scorned, fantasizing about revenge … except she’s out of time.

Joanna falls from her life, from the love of daughters and devoted dog, into an otherworldly landscape, a bleak infinity she can’t escape until she rises up and returns and sets it right – makes Ned pay – so she can truly move on.

From the other side into right this minute, Jo embarks on a sexy, spiritual odyssey. As she travels beyond memory, beyond desire, she is transformed into a fierce female force of life, determined to know how to die, happily ever after.  (publisher)


Praise for THE NEXT:

Cathleen Schine called it “an elegantly written, thoughtfully sharp and surprisingly touching whirlwind of a book.”

Erica Jong said, “I was instantly hooked by Gangi’s vivid writing, her psychological acumen, and her sharp observation of love and life. She is a fascinating writer who understands love, sex, men, and women.”


stephanie-gangi-author-photo_credit-to-tramaine-georgeAbout the author:

STEPHANIE GANGI is a NYC novelist, poet, and by day, a corporate communications strategist. She is working on her second novel, and a chapbook of poems, More Than Four.

 

 

 


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Monsters: A Love Story by Liz Kay

  • Monsters- A Love StoryTitle:  Monsters: A Love Story
  • Author:  Liz Kay
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  June 2016 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Stacey Lane feels like a monster. Tommy DeMarco might be one.

Since her husband died eight months ago, Stacey’s been a certified mess—a poet who can’t write anymore, a good mother who feels like she’s failing her kids. She’s been trying to redefine herself, to find new boundaries.

Tommy has no respect for boundaries. A surprisingly well-read A-list Hollywood star, Tommy’s fallen in love with Stacey’s novel-in-verse, a feminist reimagining of Frankenstein, no less. His passion for the book, and eventually its author, will set their lives on a collision course. They’ll make a movie, make each other crazy, and make love—but only in secret. 

As Stacey travels between her humdrum life in the suburbs of Omaha and the glamorous but fleeting escape Tommy offers in Hollywood, what begins as a distracting affair starts to pick up weight. It’s a weight that unbalances Stacey’s already unsteady life, but offers new depth to Tommy’s.

Navigating desire, love, grief, and parenthood, and brimming with award-winning poet Liz Kay’s keen emotional insight and wry humor,  Monsters: A Love Story is a witty portrait of a relationship gone off the rails, and two people who are made for each other—even if they’re not so sure they see it that way.  (publisher)

My take:  So the synopsis tells you all about the novel. I’ll just say that reading it was like watching a traffic accident in slow motion – very uncomfortable. At the same time it was a surprisingly addictive read. I didn’t want to stop reading! It’s funny, shocking, frustrating, sad – and I liked it.

Stacey is not a very likable character and yet I really felt for her. She’s vulnerable yet strong – at least that’s the image she tries to put out there. Tommy has a mercurial temperament and I never trusted him. I wanted to but couldn’t. Put them both in the Hollywood setting, add alcohol and you’ve got a hot mess. They both have kids so that adds another layer to their relationship.

Liz Kay’s novel kept me reading when I really should have been doing other things. I love when that happens. Recommended to fans of novels about dysfunctional relationships.


About the author:

Liz Kay is a founding editor of Spark Wheel Press and the journal burntdistrict.  She holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska and was the recipient of both an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Wendy Fort Foundation Prize for exemplary work in poetry.  She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and three sons. This is her debut novel.


Praise for MONSTERS: A LOVE STORY

“Witty and so nimbly-worded, Liz Kay’s Monsters: A Love Story had me at hello. From the near-madcap improbability of the novel’s premise, to the punchy repartee and ping pong banter between Stacey and Tommy, it’s impossible to resist the book’s charms. But don’t be fooled. This is more than a feel-good read.” – Jill Alexander Essbaum, New York Times-bestselling author of Hausfrau

“Magical.” —Lucy Sykes, author of The Knockoff

“Stacey is a feminist poet in Hollywood – you got to love her for that alone. But you also love her because  she’s sharp, tough, and honest. The novel’s wry insights into messy relationships  put me in mind of  The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. and Emma Straub’s The Vacationers.” —Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola

“Smart, witty, hilarious, raunchy, irresistible.” —Catherine Texier, author of Victorine

“Reads like a seduction. I couldn’t stop.” —Amy Hassinger, author of The Priest’s Madonna