Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Paper Solution

The Paper Solution by Lisa Woodruff

Published:  August 4, 2020 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Content and Giveaway book provided by the publisher

Description:

From the “Marie Kondo of paper” comes a simple and accessible guide to paper management.

Americans are drowning in paper. We keep stacks of it on the kitchen counter, stash it in drawers, and store file cabinets full of documents that we never even look at. Studies show that fully 85 percent of the paper in our lives can be tossed–but which 85 percent? And how do we organize and manage the 15 percent that remains?

With The Paper Solution, founder of Organize365 Lisa Woodruff delivers a proven, step-by-step guide for what to shred, what to save, and how to sort what’s left behind. With her method, you’ll learn:

  •  What documents you must absolutely hold on to
  •  Which papers you can dispose of today
  •  How to ditch your bulky filing cabinets and make your vital documents accessible and portable

And at the heart of it all is the Sunday Basket: a box that sits on your counter and corrals those stray bills, forms, coupons, and scraps into an easy-to-use paper-management system. The Sunday Basket will become your new weekly habit–one that leads to less paper, less stress, and more time to spend on the things (and people) that matter most.

About the author:

Lisa Woodruff started Organize365 at her kitchen table in 2012, and today it has become the go-to brand for paper organization, offering podcasts, organizational products, professional certifications, and Sunday Basket workshops that attract people from around the U.S. seeking tools to tame the out-of-control paper in their lives. She lives in West Chester, Ohio, with her family.

Praise for The Paper Solution:

“Systems are the engine to create efficiency in the home. The Paper Solution gives practical tips and tools that allows us all to free up our precious time to focus on what truly matters.” —Eve Rodsky, author of Fair Play

“Drowning in paper? With Lisa’s ingenious methods, you can take control, get more organized, and free up incredible amounts of time. You’ll never lose a day to hunting down a permission slip again.”

—Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock and 168 Hours

“Professional Organizer Lisa Woodruff brings a fresh and realistic approach to paper. I loved that she didn’t tell me to get rid of everything. Lisa shares a method for handling paper in a way that eliminates the unnecessary and keeps what’s needed right where you’ll easily find it. A must-read for anyone that has ever struggled with too much paper and wondered if they are keeping and shredding the right documents. Read this and you’ll know what to do with everything that comes your way.” —Becky Rapinchuk, author of Clean Mama’s Guide to a Healthy Home and Simply Clean

The Paper Solution walks you step-by-step to conquering the paper dilemma in your home…Her tips are practical and doable, leaving readers feeling empowered!” —Maria Dismondy, author, speaker, and publisher of Cardinal Rule Press 

“Lisa’s enthusiasm for productivity and organization shines through every chapter of this book. Her easy-to-follow implementation strategy makes quick work of overwhelming paper piles, and the comprehensive detail within each chapter assures all paper clutter questions have an answer. Lisa is the expert on all things “paper clutter” and The Paper Solution is proof! This go-to resource provides the information, structure, tools, and motivation to properly manage your paper clutter and stop it from taking over your home and life.” —Andrea Dekker, professional organizer and blogger at AndreaDekker.com

“Even in our digital age, paper remains one of the biggest sources of clutter both at home and in the workplace…In The Paper Solution, Lisa Woodruff has presented a practical, actionable approach to solving that problem. I found myself tabbing pages and highlighting sections that spell out easy-to-follow steps for clearing our homes and workspaces of paper clutter. I can’t wait to share this encouraging and truly helpful book with my friends, colleagues, and listeners.” —Laura McClellan, lawyer, productivity coach, and host of The Productive Woman podcast

“It’s a miracle! A system of managing papers (and my life) that works in tandem with my ADHD brain (and those of my clients). The Sunday Basket concept is so simple, yet so brilliant. The book takes you through the entire system, step-by-step. Great reference and great program. Highly recommended!” —Linda Roggli, award-winning author and founder of the ADDiva Network

Please click here to enter the US Giveaway


 

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey

Published: April 7, 2020 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: The world has changed around seventy-nine-year-old librarian Millicent Carmichael, aka Missy. Though quick to admit that she often found her roles as a housewife and mother less than satisfying, Missy once led a bustling life driven by two children, an accomplished and celebrated husband, and a Classics degree from Cambridge. Now her husband is gone, her daughter is estranged after a shattering argument, and her son has moved to his wife’s native Australia, taking Missy’s beloved only grandchild half-a-world away. She spends her days sipping sherry, avoiding people, and rattling around in her oversized, under-decorated house waiting for…what exactly?

The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog named Bob to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. In short order, Missy finds herself in the jarring embrace of an eclectic community that simply won’t take no for an answer–including a rambunctious mutt-on-loan whose unconditional love gives Missy a reason to re-enter the world one muddy paw print at a time.

Filled with wry laughter and deep insights, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is a coming-of-old story that shows us it’s never too late to forgive yourself and, just as important, it’s never too late to love. (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of Missy, a seventy-nine-year-old woman who until this point seems to have let life happen to her. It’s the story of the family she is related to and the unrelated people who welcome her into their fold and, against her better instincts, she decides to accept. I wouldn’t describe Missy as curmudgeonly but more as overly-cautious. Slowly the author revealed exactly how much Missy had on her plate, what she tended to, and what she ignored. For me it was a very slow reveal but I found the pay-off in the last parts of the novel. I loved Missy’s ‘adopted’ family of characters and, above all, I loved Bob the dog. Ultimately this is a heartfelt and uplifting story that I very much enjoyed.


About the author:

Beth Morrey‘s work has been published in the Cambridge and Oxford May Anthologies and shortlisted for the Grazia Orange First Chapter competition. Currently the creative director at RDF Television, she lives in London with her family and dog. THE LOVE STORY OF MISSY CARMICHAEL is her debut novel.


Praise for The Love Story of Missy Carmichael

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is a generous-hearted story showing the transformative power of friendship and community, whatever our time of life. . . . A fabulously enjoyable book!”

—Sarah Haywood, author of The Cactus

 

“Here is a love story of the most important kind: that of coming to love oneself through accepting and returning the love of others.”

Elizabeth Berg, author of Night of Miracles

 

“Deeply moving, charming and filled with wit and empathy—you can read on every page the love and care that Morrey has for each of her characters and by the end you’ll love them too.”

Kathy Wang, author of Family Trust

 

“Masterful and a real page-turner. Missy is a joy . . . the humor and courage with which she faces loss and aging are handled with such wit and empathy. The world needs more assured female voices like Beth Morrey’s.

Her novel is a breath of fresh air!”

Felicity Hayes-McCoy, author of The Library at the Edge of the World

 

“A beautiful story about love, loss, guilt and the power of friendship.”

—Jill Mansell, author of Maybe This Time

 

“For everyone with an Eleanor Oliphant–shaped hole in their heart, this is the book to fill it.

Gorgeous characters, heartfelt storytelling and the sort of book that lifts your heart.”

Eithne Shortall, author of Grace After Henry

 

“Moving but not sentimental (just as Missy would like it), this is a deeply satisfying read. Missy is a fantastically real character, as complex, frustrating, vulnerable and surprising as any I’ve met in print. I miss her already.”

Eleanor Wasserberg, author of Foxlowe

 

“A soulful, refreshing and tender book.”

—Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words Bookshop

 

“The most beautiful and the most moving book I’ve read in a long time.

It will comfort you and it will break your heart.”

—Emma Flint, author of Little Deaths


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: More Than Words

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo

Paperback published:  February 2020 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Giveaway book provided by the publisher

Description:  Nina has always known who she’s supposed to be. But is that who she truly is? Nina Gregory has always been a good daughter. Raised by her father, owner of New York City’s glamorous Gregory Hotels, Nina was taught that family, reputation, and legacy are what matter most. And Tim–her devoted boyfriend and best friend since childhood–feels the same. But when Nina’s father dies, he leaves behind a secret that shocks Nina to her core. Soon, Nina begins to see the men in her life–her father, her boyfriend, and unexpectedly, her boss, Rafael–in a new light, finding herself caught between the world she loves, and a passion that could upend everything. MORE THAN WORDS is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about grief, loss, love, and self-discovery, and how we choose which life we are meant to live. (publisher)

Praise for More Than Words

“A smart, sexy, delicious novel.”

People

 

“Santopolo returns with the tender More Than Words.” 

Marie Claire

“Another gorgeously heart-breaking and romantic read. . . . This one is certainly going to sweep you up in feelings.” 

Bustle

 

“A heartfelt story about life, love, and taking chances in the aftermath of loss. . . . This is a charming and sexy crowd-pleaser.”

Publishers Weekly

 

“Nina’s struggle to decide between two men, one of whom represents her old life and the other who represents what she could be if she took a chance, is propulsive and compelling. The depiction of Nina’s grief for her father is vividly raw, made more real by her eventual understanding that he was an imperfect human being. Full of drama, scandal, and romance, [More Than Words] is sure to delight fans of Santopolo’s The Light We Lost.”

Kirkus Reviews

 

“The latest from best-selling author Santopolo is a bittersweet and reflective novel of grief, loss, and coming into one’s own. Fans of leisurely paced and character-driven novels will appreciate the time she spends developing Nina’s voice and ensuring that it’s heard.”

Booklist

 

More Than Words is an outstandingly poignant and honest novel. Jill Santopolo is a true master of matters of the heart. This is a tender and wise story about family, love, and self. I couldn’t put it down.”

Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

 

“The perfect combination of romantic and real. I dare you to put this book down.”

Leslie Cohen, author of This Love Story Will Self-Destruct

US Giveaway

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: If You Want To Make God Laugh

If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

Published July 16, 2019 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Description: From the author of the beloved Hum If You Don’t Know the Words comes a rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time and discover the ways that love can transcend the strictest of boundaries.

In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate poverty, under the shadowy threat of a civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Eight months pregnant, Zodwa carefully guards secrets that jeopardize her life.

Across the country, wealthy socialite Ruth appears to have everything her heart desires, but it’s what she can’t have that leads to her breakdown. Meanwhile, in Zaire, a disgraced former nun, Delilah, grapples with a past that refuses to stay buried. When these personal crises send both middle-aged women back to their rural hometown to heal, the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby upends everything, challenging their lifelong beliefs about race, motherhood, and the power of the past.

As the mystery surrounding the infant grows, the complicated lives of Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah become inextricably linked. What follows is a mesmerizing look at family and identity that asks: How far will the human heart go to protect itself and the ones it loves?


About the author:

Bianca Marais is the author of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words. She holds a certificate in creative writing from the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, where she now teaches creative writing. Before turning to writing, she started a corporate training company and volunteered with Cotlands, where she assisted care workers in Soweto with providing aid for HIV/AIDS orphans. Originally from South Africa, she now lives in Toronto with her husband.

Praise for Bianca Marais:

“Set against the backdrop of the Mandela presidency, the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, and the burgeoning AIDS epidemic, the story offers a look into the staggering emotional cost of secrecy, broken family bonds, racism, and sexual violence. Marais once again showcases her talent for pulling beauty from the pain of South African history with a strong story and wonderfully imperfect characters.” Publishers Weekly

“A moving portrait of the choices women can make–and the ones we can’t. Beautifully crafted and powerfully drawn, this book had me in tears.” —Jill Santopolo, bestselling author of The Light We Lost and More Than Words

“A story of three remarkable women at crossroads in their own lives against the backdrop of South Africa at the moment of stunning transformation that will keep you reading late into the night. Marais deftly completes a writer’s hat trick, leaving you gutted, smiling through tears and soaring with hope.” —Steven Rowley, bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor

“You will absolutely love this book. You will. Why? Because Bianca Marais’s heart is immense and full of love. With unsparing insight into the human condition, she unspools a tale that is at once heartbreaking as it is merciful, validating our frailty while eulogizing our endless capacity for generosity and love. We all need the deep refuge of Bianca Marais’s exceptional voice.” Robin Oliveira, author of My Name is Mary Sutter and I Always Loved You

“Radiant…A stirring ode to a country’s painful maturation.” O, The Oprah Magazine on HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS

“Richly drawn…[The characters’] journeys and eventual love poignantly demonstrate that nothing is simply black or white.” USA Today on HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS

 “With its vivid, emotional scene-setting, alternating narration and tense plotting, this novel is a thoughtful, compelling page-turner.” Good Housekeeping on HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS


US Giveaway

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The Orphan’s Song by Lauren Kate

The Orphan’s Song by Lauren Kate

Published:  June 25, 2019 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description: The historical adult debut novel by # 1 New York Times bestselling author Lauren Kate, The Orphan’s Song is a sweeping love story about family and music–and the secrets each hold–that follows the intertwined fates of two Venetian orphans.

A song brought them together.
A secret will tear them apart.

Venice, 1736. When fate brings Violetta and Mino together on the roof of the Hospital of the Incurables, they form a connection that will change their lives forever. Both are orphans at the Incurables, dreaming of escape. But when the resident Maestro notices Violetta’s voice, she is selected for the Incurables’ world famous coro, and must sign an oath never to sing beyond its church doors.

After a declaration of love ends in heartbreak, Mino flees the Incurables in search of his family. Known as the “city of masks,” Venice is full of secrets, and Mino is certain one will lead to his long-lost mother. Without him, the walls close in on Violetta and she begins a dangerous and forbidden nightlife, hoping her voice can secure her freedom. But neither finds what they are looking for, until a haunting memory Violetta has suppressed since childhood leads them to a shocking confrontation.

Vibrant with the glamour and beauty of Venice at its zenith, The Orphan’s Song takes us on a breathtaking journey of passion, heartbreak, and betrayal before it crescendos to an unforgettable ending, a celebration of the enduring nature and transformative power of love. (publisher)

My take:  The Orphan’s Song is a lush tale about two orphans who meet at an orphanage in Venice. They have an immediate connection that will ebb and flow over the next few years. Violetta grows to be a gifted singer with a future that is set by the people who’ve cared for her and nurtured her talent since her arrival at the orphanage. Mino, also an orphan, hopes to gain an apprenticeship to ensure a good future. Being orphans has left them with strong feelings about marriage, family, etc. As they grow into young adults their priorities change in ways they never anticipated.

This is a novel for fans of historical fiction. I enjoyed the theme of music and its importance to all people of this time. The Hospital of the Incurables trained young girls to sing in church. They were famous and revered throughout the city. I loved reading about carnevale and how it figured in Venetian society and culture. Lauren Kate’s descriptions put me into each scene. With all the drama of Mina and Violetta’s story the novel seemed like an opera – which, in my estimation, is perfect. I enjoyed The Orphan’s Song very much and hope Lauren Kate will continue to write historical fiction.


About the author:

Lauren Kate is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of nine novels for young adults, including Fallen, which was made into a major motion picture by Sony. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter Matilda, and son Venice (named after the city where The Orphan’s Song is set). 


 Behind the Book by Lauren Kate

“I found this story when I was lost. It was the winter of 2015, and I was in Venice promoting another novel. It was the first book tour where I had my two young children with me, and I remember racing home from events to nurse my son, to kiss my daughter before she went to sleep, to relieve my husband of caring for two jet-lagged toddlers under the age of three. On this cold night my event ran late, and by the time I left the bookstore, the wind was brutal, the city flooded with aqua alta – high tide. I splashed toward what I hoped was my flat, turning down one narrow alley, then another, everything almost familiar.

At last, I saw three words chiseled on a building’s stone façade’s – Ospedale degli Incurabili. Hospital of the Incurables. I looked up at this hulking structure, for which the surrounding streets had been named. What is it? Who were they? I circled the compound and, eventually, three more deserted Dorsoduro alleys led me home. But long after my children were tucked into bed, I was still thinking about the Incurables.

Research revealed the the Ospedale degli Incurabili – which now houses a fine arts college – was originally a hospital and orphanage for foundling children, dating back to the sixteenth century. For hundreds of years the Incurables took in orphans and raised them to be musicians. The orphanage attracted the most famous Baroque composers as teachers, and many of its musicians became famous, drawing audiences from around the world. The Incurables was the original music conservatory – and each one of its students had been abandoned as a child.

A novel appeared at my door, begging to be let in.

…To write it, I returned to Venice and spent ten days with Venetian historians, musicians, and caretakers of the former orphanage. I took violin lessons and became a constant patron of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I read Casanova’s memoirs and Vivaldi’s musical theory. I fell more deeply in love with Venice than I imagined possible.

None of my novels has ever come to me so fully formed. Blame it on the Serene Republic and on these characters, still falling in love.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy The Orphan’s Song.”

Praise for The Orphan’s Song:

“Kate’s enchanting story brings the canals and backchannels of Venice to vivid life and will appeal to fans of Elizabeth Chadwick.” —Publishers Weekly

 

“An operatic and opulently detailed tale of longing, secrets, and high-stakes quests for freedom, love, art, and home…Kate vividly conjures a city of beauty and pain, piety and criminality, helplessness and ruthlessness, while choreographing a suspenseful, soaring love story of anguish, ecstasy, risk, and stunning reversals.”

Booklist

 

“Kate mesmerizes in a tale that brilliantly recreates 1700s Venice—a city of high-stakes intrigue and earthly delights…A tangled knot of betrayal and love, lies and redemption.  Marvelous.

—Fiona Davis, author of The Masterpiece

 

“Gorgeous… Kate uncovers the intriguing, little-known origin of the era’s most famous Baroque musicians…Brimming with love, deception, and ultimately, surprising truth.

—Marie Benedict, author of The Only Woman in the Room

 

The Orphan’s Song plunges the reader into the streets and canals of eighteenth-century Venice, where the world of Carnivale roils with music, love, and intrigue. Lauren Kate is a masterful storyteller, with a stunning command of her rich historical material and the ability to draw forth the beautiful and intimate songs of the human heart.—Allison Pataki, New York Times Bestselling author of Sisi


The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister

The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister

Published:  June 11, 2019 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Martha and Becky Blackwater are more than sisters–they’re each other’s lifelines. When Martha finds herself struggling to balance early motherhood and her growing business, Becky steps in to babysit her niece, Layla, without a second thought, bringing the two women closer than ever. But then the unthinkable happens, and Becky is charged with murder. 

Nine months later, Becky is on trial and maintains her innocence–and so does Martha. Unable to shake the feeling that her sister couldn’t possibly be guilty, Martha sets out to uncover exactly what happened that night, and how things could have gone so wrong. As the trial progresses, fault lines between the sisters begin to show–revealing cracks deep in their relationship and threatening the family each has worked so hard to build. With incredible empathy and resounding emotional heft, The Good Sister is a powerhouse of a novel that will lead readers to question everything they know about motherhood, family, and the price of forgiveness. (publisher)

My take:  The Good Sister is a courtroom drama that pits sister against sister after a tragic event. The expert witnesses’ facts show what really happened so this is a cut and dry case. Or is it?

Gillian McAllister’s story is told from the perspectives of sisters Martha and Becky, other family members and assorted witnesses over the course of the trial. I had this case solved – a few times. I was so sure and then I wasn’t.

I was drawn into the novel because I could sympathize with both sisters in how they dealt with caring for a baby who cried almost constantly. Their guilty feelings over that and other individual issues added emotional layers to the story. Despite that, I didn’t quite connect to the characters. They seemed a bit flat. I don’t read many courtroom dramas so I don’t know how this fits in the realm for readers who do but I can say The Good Sister was a fast read that kept me invested to the very end when all was revealed.


About the author:

Gillian McAllister graduated with a degree in English from the University of Birmingham. She lives in Birmingham, England, where she works as a lawyer. She is the author of Everything But the Truth and Anything You Do Say, both Sunday Timesbestsellers in the UK. THE GOOD SISTER is her US debut.


 

Spotlight on The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister

The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister

Published June 11, 2019 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Description: An electrifying novel about the unyielding bond between two sisters, which is severely tested when one of them is accused of the worst imaginable crime.

Martha and Becky Blackwater are more than sisters–they’re each other’s lifelines. When Martha finds herself struggling to balance early motherhood and her growing business, Becky steps in to babysit her niece, Layla, without a second thought, bringing the two women closer than ever. But then the unthinkable happens, and Becky is charged with murder.

Nine months later, Becky is on trial and maintains her innocence–and so does Martha. Unable to shake the feeling that her sister couldn’t possibly be guilty, Martha sets out to uncover exactly what happened that night, and how things could have gone so wrong. As the trial progresses, fault lines between the sisters begin to show–revealing cracks deep in their relationship and threatening the family each has worked so hard to build. With incredible empathy and resounding emotional heft, The Good Sister is a powerhouse of a novel that will lead readers to question everything they know about motherhood, family, and the price of forgiveness. (publisher)

About the author:

Gillian McAllister graduated with a degree in English from the University of Birmingham. She lives in Birmingham, England, where she works as a lawyer. She is the author of Everything But the Truth and Anything You Do Say, both Sunday Timesbestsellers in the UK. THE GOOD SISTER is her US debut.


THE GOOD SISTER by Gillian McAllister

On Sale June 11, 2019 | G. P. Putnam’s Sons | Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-525-53939-1| 

Price: $16.00  

Praise for Gillian McAllister

“With fast-paced prose and several unexpected twists, [Gillian McAllister] skillfully weaves a web in which any of the characters might be the guilty party… a suspenseful courtroom drama full of poignant flashbacks and unique insights.”

—Kirkus Reviews

 

“British author McAllister makes her U.S. debut with this riveting psychological thriller…Authentic courtroom scenes, intricate family dynamics, the conflicts of motherhood, and a shocking ending all add up to a winner.”

Publishers Weekly

 

“With The Good Sister, Gillian McAllister explores the exclusionary power of intimacy. She captures that feeling of being in the circle of trust, outside of it. You come away with whiplash from empathizing with each character, even the judge. This is a deeply gratifying, taut courtroom drama and so much more. I don’t know how Gillian did it, but I’m so happy she did.”

Caroline Kepnes, author of You and Providence

 

“I’ve just raced through the impressive The Good Sister. Loved this gripping and thought-provoking read!”

—B.A. Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors

 

“I read it in a breathless day and a half. Such a perfect balance of courtroom drama and family drama, so smooth and assured, it just flowed, seamlessly. I loved every page, every character, every twist and turn.”

Lisa Jewell, author of Then She Was Gone

 

“I was totally swept up—and challenged—by this dark courtroom drama and am still wrestling with the brilliantly written dilemma at its heart.”

Fiona Barton, author of The Child and The Widow

 

The Good Sister is an ingeniously constructed courtroom drama with real flesh-and-blood characters and cliff-hanging suspense.”

Louise Candlish, author of Our House

 

“An emotionally charged story about two sisters torn apart by the death of a child, it explores the joys and challenges that come with motherhood with a twist I didn’t see coming.”

Hollie Overton, author of Baby Doll and The Walls

 

Heart-rending and brilliant. Such incredible storytelling.”

Jill Mansell, author of This Could Change Everything


 

The Editor by Steven Rowley

The Editor by Steven Rowley

Published:  April 2019 – G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Free review book provided by @PutnamBooks

Description:  From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus comes a novel about a struggling writer who gets his big break, with a little help from the most famous woman in America.

After years of trying to make it as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally sells his novel to an editor at a major publishing house: none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie–or Mrs. Onassis, as she’s known in the office–has fallen in love with James’s candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the book’s forthcoming publication threatens to unravel already fragile relationships, both within his family and with his partner, James finds that he can’t bring himself to finish the manuscript.

Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, and she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to head home to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. Then a long-held family secret is revealed, and he realizes his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page…

From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus comes a funny, poignant, and highly original novel about an author whose relationship with his very famous book editor will change him forever–both as a writer and a son. (publisher)

My take:  The Editor has many of the things I love to find in a novel: messy family dynamics, secrets, a holiday (which usually makes the family dynamics even messier), and a character or two that make me want to read the book without stopping. This book has Jackie and James. She was his editor and she was the one that made him look at his mother with a new perspective. I loved the mother/son relationship that was at times so sweet and other times so frustrating and sad and real. I also loved how the author portrayed Jackie. I plan to look for the books about her  recommended in the Acknowledgements. Ultimately this is the story of James’ journey of discovering answers to questions from the past and learning to live in the present. A very enjoyable read.


About the author:

Steven Rowley is the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus, which has been published in nineteen languages and is being developed as a major motion picture by Amazon Studios. He has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist and screenwriter. Originally from Portland, Maine, he is a graduate of Emerson College. He currently resides in Los Angeles.


 

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

Spotlight/US Giveaway – Monsters: A Love Story by Liz Kay

I look forward to reading this book next month but wanted to spotlight it today – one day before the release date. There’s a US giveaway at the end of the post!

Monsters- A Love Story

Description:  A cracklingly funny and poignant debut novel about the ways we love, even when we’re not at our best.

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, 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. About desire, love, grief, parenthood, sexual politics, and gender, 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.


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

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 


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Monsters- A Love Story

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

  • jane steele (putnam)Title:  Jane Steele
  • Author:  Lyndsay Faye
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Mystery
  • Pages:  422
  • Published:  March 2016 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Reader, I murdered him.  So begins Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele.

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until she escapes to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement. Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess for the nine-year-old ward in his care.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents – the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose connection with Mr. Thornfield appears far more complicated and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him – body, soul, and secrets – without revealing her own murderous past?

Inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.  (book flap)

My take:  Well, Readers, I loved it! Jane Steele is way outside of my normal reading zone but I was intrigued when offered a copy for review so I accepted. I’m so glad I did because it was such a fun read. It’s filled with drama, adventure, class differences, love and mystery culminating in an exciting denouement that seemed only fitting for Jane’s story.

There are references, subtle and pointed, to Jane Eyre (Jane Steele’s favorite book) that will hopefully make fans of the Brontë novel smile. It has been decades since I read it but now I’m tempted to do a reread. Thank you, Lyndsay Faye!

I appreciated the author’s historical afterward which points the reader to other books that helped to inform Jane Steele’s plot lines. Recommended to fans of Victorian novels, historical mysteries, Jane Eyre, and a good adventure. I’d also recommend Jane Steele to book clubs who want to shake things up a bit 🙂

Note: In addition to reading this book I used an Audible credit so I could keep listening when I couldn’t sit and read. Narrator Susie Riddell’s performance is perfection. Highly recommended!


 

More Praise for JANE STEELE:

 

“Let’s be honest here.  When I was sent an advanced readers’ copy of Jane Steele, which was billed as an historical crime novel with a Jane-Eyre-style heroine who becomes a serial killer, I thought someone was pulling my leg.  I decided to read ten pages, just to annoy myself as I’m often inclined to do.  Also, to show what a good sport I am.  I was hooked by page five and read my way through at a merry clip.

I loved this book!  The language rings true, the period details are correct.  Jane Steele is a joy, both plucky and rueful in her assessment of her dark deeds.

The plotting is solid and the pacing sublime.  If this were a series, this would be the perfect introduction.  As a stand-alone, I give it an A+”

—Sue Grafton

 

“Lyndsay Faye pulls off the most elusive feat of historical fiction: to give us a book that reads as though it was unearthed from a perfectly preserved antique chest.

Sneakily charming and wildly well written, like Faye’s other novels Jane Steele demands attention.”

—Matthew Pearl, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer

 

Jane Steele is lethal good fun!  In Jane, Lyndsay Faye has created a heroine unwilling to suffer tyrants or fools.

The result is a darkly humorous, elegantly crafted story of an ‘accidental’ vigilante. A delicious read.”

—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

 

“From the gasp-inducing moment Jane Steele utters the words ‘reader, I murdered him,’ you know you are in for a rollicking romp of an adventure that recasts the Jane Eyre story in an entirely new light.

But mixed in with the verve and vivacity is a story of real heart, exemplary, near-forgotten history, and an utterly unforgettable heroine.

Brava to Lyndsay Faye for what’s already one of my favorite thrillers of the year.”

—Sarah Weinman, editor of Women Crime Writers:Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s

 

“Enchanting.  Jane Steele is beautifully rendered and utterly captivating, from the first cry of

‘reader, I murdered him’ to its final pages.  Lyndsay Faye is a masterful storyteller, and this is her finest tale yet.’

—Maria Konnikova, New York Times-bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes