Christmas On The Island by Jenny Colgan

Christmas On The Island by Jenny Colgan

Published:  October 2018 – William Morrow Paperbacks

Thanks for the free/gifted book, @WmMorrowBooks @LibraryThing 

Description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Café by the Sea—whose novels are “an evocative, sweet treat” (JOJO MOYES)—comes this heartwarming holiday novel set on a charming Scottish island

On the remote Scottish island of Mure, the Christmas season is stark, windy, and icy—yet incredibly festive and beautiful…

It’s a time for getting cozy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram and a treacle pudding with the people you love—unless, of course, you’ve accidentally gotten pregnant by your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In the season for peace and good cheer, will Flora find the nerve to reveal the truth to her nearest and dearest? Will her erstwhile co-parent Joel think she’s the bearer of glad tidings—or is this Christmas going to be as bleak as the Highlands in midwinter?

Meanwhile Saif, a doctor and refugee from war-torn Syria is trying to enjoy his first western Christmas with his sons on this remote island where he’s been granted asylum. His wife, however, is still missing, and her absence hangs over what should be a joyful celebration. Can the family possibly find comfort and joy without her?

Travel to the beautiful northern edge of the world and join the welcoming community of Mure for a Highland Christmas you’ll never forget! (publisher)

My take:  I loved catching up with Flora and her family and friends on the (imaginary) island of Mure. This is the third in a series about the lovely inhabitants of Mure. If you haven’t read the first two books you really should before dipping into this book. You’ll want to learn all about the people – get the context of their relationships. I have loved each book and the third just as much. It boils down to connections between people and how we all need them and must continue to try to do better – in every way. I really hope this isn’t the last I’ll read of the people of Mure. There are some ends that weren’t completely tied up – and I need some reassurance!


 

Brief take: Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Published:  June 19 2018

William Morrow Paperbacks

ARC courtesy of William Morrow Paperbacks and LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. 

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Green changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build. (publisher)

My brief take:  This was such an enjoyable contemporary romance. It has a sympathetic heroine, a yummy hero (and his wonderful extended family) and a crazy plot. If you love Jill Shalvis or if you’re a fan of laugh-out-loud romance that will also tug your heartstrings you’ll want to read Rainy Day Friends. This is the second in the Wildstone series but it can absolutely stand alone.


 

Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson

  • Title:  Goodnight From London
  • Author:  Jennifer Robson
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  May 2017 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  From USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—author of Moonlight Over Paris and Somewhere in France—comes a lush historical novel that tells the fascinating story of Ruby Sutton, an ambitious American journalist who moves to London in 1940 to report on the Second World War, and to start a new life an ocean away from her past.

In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it’s an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby’s new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby must set aside her determination to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship—and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.

Goodnight from London, inspired in part by the wartime experiences of the author’s own grandmother, is a captivating, heartfelt, and historically immersive story that readers are sure to embrace.  (publisher)

My take:  Goodnight From London is the story of Ruby Sutton, a young American writer who was sent to London to cover the war for her magazine as well as a London magazine. She experienced the Blitz, learned to live without things she’d considered basic necessitiess of life, and along the way met some people who would change her life. It’s a story of hope, determination, survival, friendship and love during very difficult times.
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I thought Jennifer Robson did a wonderful job portraying the spirit of the British people in time of war. Highly recommended to fans of the genre and Jennifer Robson.


 

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

  • Title:  The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir
  • Author:  Jennifer Ryan
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  February 2017 – Crown
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead “carry on singing.” Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir,” the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and journals, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit– a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past– we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life. In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the homefront, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.  (publisher)

My take:  My thanks to the Library Thing Early Reviewers program and Crown for the  review copy. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is a warm and touching novel about life in a village in Kent during 1940. The war is in full-swing and most able-bodied men are away, involved in the fight. When the Vicar sees fit to disband the choir because there are no male voices, the women beg to differ in their opinion. Under the leadership of a confident director, the ladies of Chilbury meet to practice their songs and, at the same time, become a source of support to each other that will be invaluable in the days ahead.

Jennifer Ryan’s novel will probably land on my favorites list this year. Told through letters, diary entries, newspaper items, etc. the story of Chilbury unfolded seamlessly. The drama, humor, fear and sadness were palpable when shared by various characters’ perspectives. When I finished reading I immediately thought ‘there’s more story to be told here’ as only a few months in 1940 were covered. I’d love a series! This is Ryan’s debut novel and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. Recommended to fans of historical fiction.

Note: I also used an Audible credit for the book. It’s a wonderful audio production.

Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Fall of Poppies

  • Fall of Poppies (LTER win)Title:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War
  • Authors:   Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, Marci Jefferson
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; Library Thing Early Reviewers

Description:  On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month . . .

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors, the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving, unforgettable collection, nine top historical fiction authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.  (Goodreads)

My brief take:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War is an anthology of stories about World War I. They revolve around Armistice Day (Nov. 11, 1918) – “where were you then?” and “what happened before and after?”.

I liked all of the stories but one stood out from all the rest: All For the Love of You by Jennifer Robson. It’s about a young American woman in Paris who meets an injured American soldier at her place of work and forms a unique friendship. Circumstances out of their control determine what happens next… until one day when they meet again. I loved the story and will definitely look for more from author Jennifer Robson.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction/romance anthologies – especially with a Great War theme.

Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

  • summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)Title:  Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery
  • Author:  Jenny Colgan
  • Series:  Little Beach Street Bakery #2
  • Pages:  416
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.

But clouds are gathering on the horizon. A stranger threatens to ruin Polly’s business. Her beloved boyfriend seems to be leading a secret life. And the arrival of a newcomer—a bereft widow desperately searching for a fresh start—forces Polly to reconsider the choices she’s made, even as she tries to help her new friend through grief.

Unpredictable and unforgettable, this delightful novel will make you laugh, cry, and long for a lighthouse of your own. Recipes included.  (publisher)

My take:  Jenny Colgan takes readers back to Mount Polbearne. I loved seeing what was new in the lives of Polly, Huckle and all the rest. We meet a few new characters and yes, Neil the puffin is back.

Colgan’s novel lived up to my expectations. There’s love, loss, humor and drama in the lives of the residents of the tiny seaside village in Cornwall we first visited in Little Beach Street Bakery. It was great to visit and my hope is that we might someday meet up again.

Even though Colgan provides a brief catch-up of the first book I highly recommend reading it before this book because I enjoyed it so much. Fans of small town settings and characters will find a lot to love in these books.