A Highlander is Coming to Town

A Highlander is Coming to Town by Laura Trentham

Published:  September 29, 2020 – St. Martin’s Press

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The third book in the Highland, Georgia romantic comedy series from Laura Trentham, A Highlander is Coming to Town, full of love, laughs…and highlanders!

You better watch out. . .

Holt Pierson is dreading Christmas. His parents absconded to Florida for the season and left him to handle the family farm which will be his one day—whether he wants it or not. Driven by duty, Holt has always followed the path expected of him. But lately, he’s been questioning what he wants and where he belongs. Will assuming the responsibility of the Pierson farm make him happy or is there something—or someone—else out in the wider world calling to him?

To Claire Smythe, the Scottish lead singer of a touring band, Highland, Georgia, is the perfect place to hide . . .until a very handsome and deeply curious Holt begins to ask all the questions Claire doesn’t want to answer. As Holt draws Claire out from under and into the fabric of small-town life, can Claire put the past behind her and embrace the unexpected gifts of the season—including the new and lasting love? (publisher)

My take:  This was cute! The Highlander who came to town is actually a Highlander who doesn’t want to leave the small town of Highland, Georgia. That’s about as complicated as it gets in this book – unless you count feelings and emotions. Claire was part of a band that played a festival in Highland. She stayed behind at the end of the gig and took a job as a home aid to an elderly woman. She has reasons for not wanting to return to Scotland. Add one more reason in the form of Holt, owner of the farm next door to the elderly lady. This is a story of two people who aren’t looking for love but isn’t that just when it finds you? Laura Trentham’s story is filled with heart. It’s about finding what’s truly important and finding the courage to go for it. If you enjoy small-town contemporary romance series you should check this one out!

A Highlander Is Coming To Town is book 3 in the Highland, Georgia series. I didn’t feel lost despite not reading the previous books and I look forward to reading those.


 

She Gets That From Me

 

She Gets That From Me by Robin Wells

Published:  September 22, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Quinn never expected that her best friend’s courageous decision to be a single mother by choice would end up transforming her own life in this poignant novel from USA Today bestselling author Robin Wells.
 
When Quinn Langston’s best friend unexpectedly passes away, Quinn embraces Brooke’s three-year-old daughter Lily and elderly grandmother Margaret as the family she’s always wanted.  She’ll do whatever it takes to help them heal, but she didn’t anticipate Lily’s biological father would be part of the plan. Margaret is old-fashioned, though, and she has no compunction about finding a way to reach Lily’s dad, a sperm donor. After all, he’s a blood relative, and she believes family should raise family.
 
 Zack Bradley doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out he has a child. Sperm donors don’t usually get to meet their…well, he’s not sure what to call Lily yet, but he’s certain he wants to get to know her. There’s just one of problem: he’s about to move to Seattle with his wife, Jessica, who’s undergone multiple infertility treatments, desperately wants a family of her own and can’t stand the idea of Zack playing daddy to another woman’s child.
 
Together, they’ll all learn that the human heart is infinitely expandable and there are many different roads to family. (publisher)

My take:  When the unthinkable happens to Quinn’s best friend she steps in to care for 3 year old Lily(who was conceived via donor from a fertility center) and her great-grandmother Margaret. Around this time Zack and his wife Jessica are going through their own infertility heartbreak. I won’t spoil how all the principals are drawn together but at one point I highlighted this passage:

‘ “Good Lord – sounds like an episode of Maury Povich just happened in here,” the aide whispers to the therapist.’  – (location 4145)

That was definitely the vibe I was getting while reading but I also think author Robin Wells wrote with heart and empathy. No matter how selfishly I believe Jessica acted Wells still let me find some sympathy for her situation.

The subject of infertility could be a trigger for some readers and that’s what this novel is about. It got a bit soapy at times but if you like to read novels about all kinds of families you’ll want to add She Gets That From Me to your list. I’m glad I had the chance to discover Robin Wells and will be interested to see what she writes next.


About the author:

Robin Wells was an advertising and public relations executive before becoming a full-time writer. She always dreamed of writing novels–a dream inspired by a grandmother who told “hot tales” and parents who were both librarians. Her books have won the RWA Golden Heart, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and numerous other awards. She now lives in Texas with her husband, but will always be a Louisiana girl at heart.

Author photo credit: Arden Wells


 

A Heartfelt Christmas Promise

A Heartfelt Christmas Promise by Nancy Naigle

Expected publication:  September 29, 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Vanessa Larkin was supposed to be spending Christmas in Paris, France on a business trip she hoped to enjoy as a working vacation. Instead, she’s been assigned to Fraser Hills, North Carolina—home of the Best Fruitcake in the USA—to convert her company’s property into warehouse space and shut down Porter’s, the fruitcake factory. Offering retirement packages and selling locals on new job opportunities may not spread holiday cheer, but Vanessa believes she’s helping secure the town’s future.

Mike Marshall’s family founded Porter’s. For decades, the factory served as the lifeblood of the community until his grandfather sold the business to a Chicago corporation. The sale cost the town its independence—and the Marshalls their family ties. A horse farmer, Mike was never involved with his grandfather’s company, but still felt Fraser Hills lost part of its identity. And as a widower raising a teenage daughter, he’s suffered enough losses in one lifetime. News of the factory’s closing means losing another piece of the town’s legacy.

Far from the skyscrapers and rapid pace of the city, Vanessa finds herself enjoying the easygoing rhythms of rural living. With Mike as her guide, she learns to appreciate the simple pleasures found in shared holiday festivities among friends. Fraser Hills is a town she is growing to love—and Mike is someone she is falling in love with. Now all Vanessa needs is a Christmas miracle to give her newfound friends and home a gift they’ll cherish for many New Years to come. (publisher)

My take:

When a Chicago company acquires a North Carolina fruitcake company they send Vanessa to transition the small company into, well, she has one idea and the employees have another. Things are tense. She’s been a city girl all her life and has plans for a nice vacation when this assignment is completed. She didn’t expect to fall in love with the place!

A Heartfelt Christmas Promise is my kind of Christmas novel. It has a charming small town, a little drama, a little romance and an adorable puppy. Recommended!


 

Anxious People

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Expected publication:  Sept. 8, 2020 – Atria Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next. (publisher)

My take:  When I pick up one of Fredrik Backman’s novels I’m fairly sure I’m going to enjoy it. He has a gift for writing about the human condition. One minute I’m chuckling and the next I’m tearing up – finding so much relatable. In this book we’re treated to a rag-tag group of people who find themselves at an open house for an apartment when they are taken hostage. Over the next several hours much is revealed about each person. Backman’s tale touches on the cares and worries of them all – people just doing the best they can. Anxious People was written with Backman’s signature humor and heart. And, yes, I enjoyed it all. Recommended!


About the author:

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called OveMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryBritt-Marie Was HereBeartownUs Against You, and two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime, as well as one work of nonfiction, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World. His books are published in more than forty countries. His latest novel is Anxious People. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @Backmansk.


 

The Wonder Boy Of Whistle Stop

The Wonder Boy Of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg

Expected pub. date:  October 27, 2020 – Random House

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Bud Threadgoode grew up in the bustling little railroad town of Whistle Stop with his mother, Ruth, church-going and proper, and his Aunt Idgie, the fun-loving hell-raiser. Together they ran the town’s popular Whistle Stop Cafe, known far and wide for its fun and famous fried green tomatoes. And as Bud often said of his childhood to his daughter Ruthie, “How lucky can you get?”

But sadly, as the railroad yards shut down and Whistle Stop became a ghost town, nothing was left but boarded-up buildings and memories of a happier time.

Then one day, Bud decides to take one last trip, just to see what has become of his beloved Whistle Stop. In so doing, he discovers new friends, as well as surprises about Idgie’s life, about Ninny Threadgoode and other beloved Fannie Flagg characters, and about the town itself. He also sets off a series of events, both touching and inspiring, which change his life and the lives of his daughter and many others. Could these events all be just coincidences? Or something else? And can you really go home again?  (publisher)

My take:  I loved Fried Green Tomatoes (the film version) so when I heard that Fannie Flagg had written a sequel I was thrilled. Thanks to Random House for sending the e-galley via NetGalley! I found a way to watch the movie again and then started reading The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop. I didn’t plan on reading it in two days but I just didn’t want to stop. Flagg’s trademark relatable characters, funny situations, and heart-breaking moments just made me grateful for the chance to find out what happened to the people of Whistle Stop, Alabama. Thank you, Fannie Flagg, for taking us back to Whistle Stop. I loved it all.


 

Murder In The East End

Murder in the East End by Jennifer Ashley

Published:  August 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London’s Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing and one of their nurses has been murdered, she can’t turn away. She enlists the help of her charming and enigmatic confidant Daniel McAdam, who has ties to Scotland Yard, and Errol Fielding, a disreputable man from Daniel’s troubled past, to bring the killer to justice. Their investigation takes them from the grandeur of Mayfair to the slums of the East End, during which Kat learns more about Daniel and his circumstances than she ever could have imagined. (publisher)

My take:  Kat Holloway is a talented cook in a big Mayfair home. She loves her kitchen staff and assorted people associated with the house. One of those people is deliveryman Daniel McAdam. He’s a mystery man and much more than his job title implies. In this book Kat is drawn into a case of missing children from the Foundling Hospital. This case involved a relative of Daniel’s and a very seedy side of London. Because of Kat’s past Daniel is sure she can help with the investigation. Kind-hearted Kat will do anything to help find the children – as will her friends and associates. I was satisfied with the resolution. Not all strings are tied though which leaves things open for the next book.

I like the glimpses of downstairs life that Jennifer Ashley gives readers in this series. I also like the pace of the development of Kat and Daniel’s relationship. A bit more is shown in each book and I’m always left eager to read the next book. I look forward to seeing what Kat and company will be doing next time.


 

A Little Bit Of Grace

A Little Bit Of Grace by Phoebe Fox

Published:  August 11, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Family is everything—Grace Adams McHale’s mom must have said it to her a thousand times before she died. Before Grace’s dad ran off with an aspiring actress half his age. Before only-child Grace found out she was unable to have children of her own. Before Brian—her childhood best friend, business partner, and finally her husband—dropped a “bombshell” on her in the form of her stunning new replacement.

Which means Grace now has…nothing.

Until she receives a letter from a woman claiming to be a relative Grace never knew she had, sending her on a journey from the childhood home she had to move back into, to a Florida island to meet a total stranger who embraces her as family. There, Grace starts to uncover answers about the eccentric woman her family never mentioned: a larger-than-life octogenarian who is the keeper of a secret held for more than fifty years, and the ultimate inspiration to always be true to yourself. As Grace gets to know this woman and picks up the pieces of her own shattered life, she is forced to question whether she can find forgiveness for the unforgivable. (publisher)

My take:  Grace married the boy next door, her best friend, and they practiced law in the same firm. A HEA if I ever read one. And then Grace’s husband told her he wasn’t happy and they divorced. There’s more to their story and when faced with the last straw Grace realized she needed a change of scenery. She flew to Florida to visit her (newly found) great-aunt Milly. I loved Milly and Grace and the way they got to know each other. Milly had a lot to teach Grace and Grace was family that Milly didn’t know she had – what a gift! This is a story about finding the courage to take a new direction. It’s about trusting yourself first and accepting (some) change as a new normal. I loved this heartfelt story and recommend to fans of women’s fiction. I  can’t wait to see what Phoebe Fox writes next.


 

The Christmas Table

The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere

Expected pub. date:  October 6, 2020 – St. Martin’s Press

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

In June 1972, John Creighton determines to build his wife Joan a kitchen table. His largest project to date had been picture frames but he promises to have the table ready for Thanksgiving dinner. Inspired to put something delicious on the table, Joan turns to her mother’s recipes she had given to Joan when she and John married.

In June 2012, Lauren Mabrey discovers she’s pregnant. Gloria, Miriam, and the rest of her friends at Glory’s Place begin to pitch in, helping Lauren prepare their home for the baby. On a visit to the local furniture builder, Lauren finds a table that he bought at a garage sale but has recently refinished. Once home, a drawer is discovered under the table which contains a stack of recipe cards. Growing up in one foster home after another, Lauren never learned to cook and is fascinated as she reads through the cards. Personal notes have been written on each one from the mother to her daughter and time and again Lauren wonders where they lived, when they lived, and in a strange way, she feels connected to this mother and her daughter and wants to make the mother proud.

The story continues to from 1972 to 2012 as Joan battles breast cancer and Lauren learns to cook, preparing for the baby’s arrival. As Christmas nears, can Lauren unlock the mystery of the table, and find the peace she’s always longed for? (publisher)

My take:  The Christmas Table is a heartwarming story about the importance of connections via a beautiful handmade table. It’s also about family recipes passed down from generation to generation.

Told from two POVs the story moves between 1972 when a young wife and mother is battling cancer and 2012 when a young woman is figuring out life as a new wife. It was easy to relate to the importance of sharing a meal around a family table and the specific recipes shared through the generations.

I enjoyed it all and was happy to find several recipes from the story included at the end. The Christmas Table would be a great gift for the women’s fiction book lover in your life this holiday season.


 

Paris Never Leaves You

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Published:  August 4, 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Living through World War II working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life?

Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Ellen Feldman’s Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.

The war is over, but the past is never past.  

My take:  Charlotte survived occupied Paris, managing to protect her child because of choices she made. Those choices resurface years after she and her daughter moved to America. Feelings of shame return as a letter brings about memories of a time she wants to forget. The theme of survivor’s guilt runs through the novel – not just for Charlotte but also the man she works for in New York. They both learn lessons of forgiveness, acceptance, and finding the courage to move forward in life.

I think because half of the book is about Charlotte’s life in New York, Paris Never Leaves You is different from other WWII era novels I’ve read. Ultimately, it’s an emotional story that I’m glad I had the chance to read.


About the author:

Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Terrible Virtue, The Unwitting, Next to Love, Scottsboro (shortlisted for the Orange Prize), The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (translated into nine languages), and Lucy. Her last novel, Terrible Virtue, was optioned by Black Bicycle for a feature film.

Buy Links:

Praise for Paris Never Leaves You

 

“A memorable, thought-provoking moral conflict, and dialogue [that] crackles like a duel… Paris Never Leaves You succeeds as a meaty moral tale.” —Historical Novel Society

“Fans of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale may want to pick this up.” —Booklist 

“Nothing is quite what it seems… Wartime Paris is described in vivid, sometimes harrowing, detail… [An] engrossing page-turner.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The best works of historical fiction have a way of illuminating the present, allowing readers to better understand themselves through well-defined characters reflected in the prism of time…. Feldman does this beautifully in a multi-layered, tender story that explores the emotionally charged, often parallel terrains of truth, deception, love and heartbreak.” —Shelf Awareness

“A nuanced WWII story of love and survival in Occupied Paris… With its appealing heroine and historically detailed settings… a dangerous secret gives Feldman’s story a gasp-worthy spin.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Things are seldom as they seem in this engrossing tale of identity, survival, loyalty, and love…Recommend with enthusiasm.” —Library Journal

“Ellen Feldman’s writing is riveting in this beautiful novel that tells the bittersweet story of a young mother’s strength and survival during WWII. From a tiny bookstore in Nazi-occupied Paris to a post-war New York publishing house, Feldman effortlessly captures the terror, immediacy, and inextinguishable human spirit.” —Noelle Salazar, author of The Flight Girls 

“Completely compelling. I tore through it. This novel pivots on how we manage to survive surviving… Charlotte’s visceral story will stay with me.” —Naomi Wood, New York Times best-selling author of Mrs. Hemingway and The Hiding Game

“Feldman’s powerful exploration of some of the most profound questions about love and loyalty resonates strongly today: What would you do to save your child? What is morality in wartime? How do we make peace with the past?” —Christina Lynch, author of The Italian Party

“This is an exquisite novel – one that gives us what we’re hungry for: an intelligent, complex female character who challenges our ideas of right and wrong, morality and immorality. We’re reminded, too, of the dangers of drawing easy, swift conclusions. Feldman achieves all of this with wholly admirable precision and wit; she takes aim and does not miss.” —Elizabeth J. Church, author of The Atomic Weight of Love and All the Beautiful Girls

“A fluid, rich, and nuanced novel, expertly crafted, guaranteed to follow you around long after you’ve turned the last page. I gulped it down.” —Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra, Vera, The Witches, and A Great Improvisation 

“Feldman’s characters—in the Paris bookstore that harbors many secrets or the Manhattan publishing house with its marvelous cast of misfits—are both terrifying and utterly engaging. With more twists and turns than the back streets of Paris, the story is as propulsively readable as a spy novel, and as rich and psychologically rewarding as only the finest literature can be.” —Liza Gyllenhaal, author of Local Knowledge and Bleeding Heart

“…a vivid and precise portrait of that city under German occupation during the Second World War, but it is also an exploration of the courage and cowardice of those bitter years, as well as offering a slyly persuasive love story. The swift, engrossing narrative conceals, in the best way, the fact that Feldman is also giving us a wise and troubling lesson about the great moral crisis of the last century.” —Richard Snow, author of Iron Dawn

“A thrilling achievement…I was thoroughly drawn into a deep, rich, vivid world of engrossing characters and emotional and moral crises…a great piece of writing in every way.” —Fred Allen, Leadership Editor, Forbes


 

The Friendship List

The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

Published:  August 2020 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about two best friends who are determined to help one another shake things up and live life to the fullest…only to discover that possibilities are everywhere–especially in the most unexpected of places.

Ellen and Unity have been best friends basically since birth, but they couldn’t be more different. Unity married her childhood sweetheart just after high school and became an Army wife, moving from base to base…until her husband’s shocking death in the line of duty leaves her a widow. Grief-stricken, it’s time for Unity to come back home to Ellen—the only person she can trust to help her rebuild her life. But Ellen has troubles of her own. Boys never seemed to notice Ellen…until one got her pregnant in high school and disappeared. Her son is now 17 and she’s wondering what to do with herself now that he’s heading off to college and he’s literally her entire world.

But now that Ellen and Unity are reunited, they’re done with their stale lives. It’s time to shake things up and start living again, knowing that they’ll always have one another to lean on. So they create a list of challenges they have to accomplish–everything from getting a tattoo to skydiving to staying out all night. And whoever completes the most challenges is the winner. But with new adventures and love just around the corner, there’s no such thing as losing…

My take:  Ellen and Unity have been friends since they were young girls. Ellen, a single mom of a seventeen year old son, got pregnant the night of her junior prom (the last time she went out with her son’s father). She had her son, finished high school and then college while living with her parents, and then got on with life as a single mom. Unity married her high school sweetheart. He was in the army and when he was killed she returned to their hometown. Ellen and Unity have been stuck in emotional ruts and they realize they aren’t getting any younger so they challenge each other with writing a list of things each woman wants/needs to do.  It was fun to see them start to come out of their shells as they crossed items off and courageously moved toward a new phase of life. Susan Mallery balanced the serious subjects with a light tone and humor. A reader discussion guide and a few recipes are included at the end.


About the author:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

SOCIAL LINKS:

BUY LINKS:


 

The Kids Are Gonna Ask (excerpt)

The Kids Are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony

Published:  July 28, 2020 – Park Row

Content courtesy of the publisher 

Description:

A whip-smart, entertaining novel about twin siblings who become a national phenomenon after launching a podcast to find the biological father they never knew.

The death of Thomas and Savannah McClair’s mother turns their world upside down. Raised to be fiercely curious by their grandmother Maggie, the twins become determined to learn the identity of their biological father. And when their mission goes viral, an eccentric producer offers them a dream platform: a fully sponsored podcast called The Kids Are Gonna Ask. To discover the truth, Thomas and Savannah begin interviewing people from their mother’s past and are shocked when the podcast ignites in popularity. As the attention mounts, they get caught in a national debate they never asked for—but nothing compares to the mayhem that ensues when they find him.

Cleverly constructed, emotionally perceptive and sharply funny, The Kids Are Gonna Ask is a rollicking coming-of-age story and a moving exploration of all the ways we can go from lost to found.


Excerpted from The Kids Are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony © 2020 by Gretchen Anthony, used with permission by Park Row Books.

JULY

The house had become an aquarium—one side tank, the other, fingerprint-smeared glass—with Thomas McClair on the inside looking out. There had been a dozen protests outside their home in less than a week, all for the McClairs to—what, enjoy? Critique? Reject? There was no making sense of it. 

Tonight, Thomas pulled his desk chair up to the window and kicked his feet onto the sill. He’d been too anxious to eat dinner, but his mind apparently hadn’t notified his stomach, which now growled and cramped. He was seventeen. He could swallow a whole pizza and wash it down with a half-gallon of milk, then go back for more, especially being an athlete. But that was before. 

Before the podcast, before the secrets, before the wave of national attention. Now he was just a screwup with a group of strangers swarming the parkway across the street from his house because he’d practically invited them to come. 

He deserved to feel awful. 

The McClairs had been locked in the house for a week, leaving Thomas short of both entertainment and sanity. He had no choice but to watch the show unfolding outside. Stuck in his beige bedroom, with the Foo Fighters at Wembley poster and the Pinewood Derby blue ribbons, overlooking the front lawn and the driveway and the hand-me-down Volvo neither he nor Savannah had driven since last week. There they stood—a crowd of milling strangers, all vying for the McClairs’ attention. All these people with their causes. Some who came to help or ogle. More who came to hate. 

Thomas brought his face almost to the glass and tried to figure out the newly assembling crowd. Earlier that day, out of all the attention seekers, one guy in particular had stood out. He wore black jeans, black boots, a black beanie—a massive amount of clothing for the kind of day where you could see the summer heat curling up from the pavement—and a black T-shirt that screamed WHO’S PAYING YOU? in pink neon. He also held a leash attached to a life-size German shepherd plushy toy. 

Some of the demonstrators had gone home for the night, only to be replaced by a candlelight vigil. And a capella singing. There were only about a dozen people in the group, all women, except for two tall guys in the back lending their baritones to a standard rotation of hymns. “Amazing Grace” first, followed by “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Now they were into a song Thomas didn’t know, but the longer he listened, he figured hundred-to-one odds that the lyrics consisted of no more than three words, repeated over and over. They hit the last note and raised their candles high above their heads. By daaaaaaaaaaaayyyy. 

“No more,” he begged into the glass. “I can’t take any more.” 

A week. Of this. 

Of protests, rallies and news crews with their vans and satellites and microphones. 

Of his sister, Savannah, locked in her room, refusing to speak to him. 

Of his grandmother Maggie in hers, sick with worry. 

Of finding—then losing—his biodad, the missing piece of his mother’s story. And his own. 

Thomas was left to deal with it all. Because he’d started it. And because he was a finisher. And most of all, because it wasn’t over yet.


About the author

GRETCHEN ANTHONY is the author of Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, which was a Midwestern Connections Pick and a best books pick by Amazon, BookBub, PopSugar, and the New York Post. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Medium, and The Write Life, among others. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

photo credit: M. Brian Hartz

 

Social Links:

Author website:  https://www.gretchenanthony.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45297823-the-kids-are-gonna-ask

Twitter: https://twitter.com/granthony

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gretchenanthony.writer/


Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kids-Are-Gonna-Ask-Novel/dp/077830874X

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-kids-are-gonna-ask-gretchen-anthony/1131329819

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778308744

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Kids-Gonna-Ask/Gretchen-Anthony/9780778308744?id=7941582454467&_ga=2.251093830.1162369720.1594158248-529522754.1594158248#

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-kids-are-gonna-ask/id1460789878

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gretchen_Anthony_The_Kids_Are_Gonna_Ask?id=siOYDwAAQBAJ

 

THE KIDS ARE GONNA ASK

By Gretchen Anthony

On Sale: July 28, 2020 

Park Row Books

CONTEMPORARY FICTION/Mothers &Children/Family/FictionSatire/Humorous American Literarure

978-0778308744; 077830874X

$17.99 USD

416 pages



 

Dear Emmie Blue

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis

Published:  July 14, 2020 – Atria/Emily Bestler Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over. (publisher)

My take:  I don’t consider myself the intended reader (demographic) for this novel but I love a good RomCom so accepted the offer to read – and I’m so glad I did. I thought the start was a bit slow but maybe that was just me getting to know several characters. The novel picked up speed as I got to know Emmie, Lucas, and his brother. By the end I really cared about these characters. A plus was that I loved most of the supporting characters and I’d truly love to know what happens with Emmie’s work friends!

Lia Louis’ novel is full of hopes and dreams and written with so much heart. I love turning the last page of a novel while smiling and knowing I’m going to miss these people.


About the author:

Lia Louis lives in the United Kingdom with her partner and three young children. Before raising a family, she worked as a freelance copywriter and proofreader. She was the 2015 winner of Elle magazine’s annual writing competition and has been a contributor for Bloomsbury’s Writers and Artist’s blog for aspiring writers. She is the author of Somewhere Close to Happy and Dear Emmie Blue.

Twitter: @LisforLia

Instagram: @lialouisauthor


Praise for DEAR EMMIE BLUE:

“Like My Best Friend’s Wedding plus an unfairly gorgeous Frenchwoman, mixtapes, and miles of inside jokes, Louis’s latest novel blends all the highs of a romantic comedy with the lows of one woman’s complicated family history. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (2017) by Gail Honeyman will adore Emmie’s journey of self-discovery. Exploring that feeling of being left behind as everyone else appears to be moving on to bigger and better things, Dear Emmie Blue will resonate long after readers turn the last page.” Booklist

 

“DEAR EMMIE BLUE has everything–it oozes charm and wit and speaks beautifully about friendship and love, and the differences between the two. The British Marian Keyes
– Laura Pearson, author of I WANTED YOU TO KNOW

 

“An absolute treasure of a book. A love story to cherish.”
– Michelle Adams, author of MY SISTER

 

“DEAR EMMIE BLUE is the new Eleanor Oliphant. Deftly crafted descriptions and characters who jump off the page and drag you into the story. I loved every moment of it.”
– Bella Osborne, author of A WALK IN WILDFLOWER PARK

 

“I loved it so much. Such a perfectly crafted story that made my heart swell. So many parts gave me a severe case of goosebumps. Emmie is fabulously funny and real, and wow – that ending was perfect. People will not be able to resist Emmie Blue.”
– Jessica Ryn, author of THE EXTRAORDINARY HOPE OF DAWN BRIGHTSIDE

 

“This book is f**king perfect, buy it now.”
– Julia Whelan, critically-acclaimed author of MY OXFORD YEAR

 

“Beautifully captures the heartache and frustrations of carrying our teenaged selves with us wherever we go, and yet we would never be without them. LOVED IT.”
– Anstey Harris, author of GOODBYE PARIS

 

“This gorgeous and clever book is a heartfelt story about love and friendship, which certainly didn’t end the way I expected. Fresh and funny writing, with a heroine (and heroes!) I adored.”
– Holly Miller, author of THE SIGHT OF YOU

 

“I will happily read every word Lia Louis ever writes, from novels to shopping lists, this is a very special book by a very special writer. DEAR EMMIE BLUE is sweet, sparkling and heartwarming, the perfect book to remind you dreams can come true.”
– Lindsey Kelk, internationally bestselling author of ONE IN A MILLION


BUY LINKS

Hardcover:

·         Amazon

·         Barnes & Noble

·         Books-a-Million

·         IndieBound

eBook:

·         Amazon’s Kindle Store

·         Barnes & Noble

·         Books-a-Million

·         Google eBookstore


 

The Woman Before Wallis

The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull

Pub. date:  July 21, 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.

In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.

Bryn Turnbull takes readers from the raucous glamour of the Paris Ritz and the French Riviera to the quiet, private corners of St. James’s Palace in this sweeping story of love, loyalty and betrayal. (publisher)

My take:  The Woman Before Wallis is the story of Thelma Morgan. Thelma was raised in a world of privilege but that didn’t protect her from disappointment. She lived a grand life and when life was good it was good and when it wasn’t she did her best to rise to the challenge. She and her twin sister Gloria almost raised themselves from their teen years. Because of that they made some decisions that weren’t always the best. But they were always there for each other. Perhaps Thelma more than Gloria. They usually landed on their feet. They had some truly amazing experiences and some life-shaking disappointments. The Woman Before Wallis is about their ups and downs.The dual-storyline moves between Thelma’s relationships and Gloria’s infamous custody case. I enjoyed learning about the two sisters and would pause occasionally to search online for pictures and more info about the principals, residences, etc. Recommended to fans of historical fiction.


About the author:

Bryn Turnbull is a writer of historical fiction with a penchant for fountain pens and antique furniture. Equipped with a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews, a Master of Professional Communication from Ryerson University, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from McGill University, Bryn focuses on finding the stories of women found within the cracks of the historical record. When she’s not writing, Bryn can be found exploring new coffee shops, spending time with her family in cottage country, or traveling. She lives in Toronto, and can generally be found with a book in hand.

photo credit: Louise Claire Johnson

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @BrynTurnbull

Instagram: @brynturnbullwrites

Facebook: @brynturnbullwrites

Goodreads


THE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS

Author: Bryn Turnbull 

ISBN: 9780778361022

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books

Buy links:



 

Well-Behaved Indian Women

Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave

Published:  July 14, 2020 – Berkley Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Simran Mehta has always felt harshly judged by her mother, Nandini, especially when it comes to her little “writing hobby.” But when a charismatic and highly respected journalist careens into Simran’s life, she begins to question not only her future as a psychologist, but her engagement to her high school sweetheart.

Nandini Mehta has strived to create an easy life for her children in America. From dealing with her husband’s demanding family to the casual racism of her patients, everything Nandini has endured has been for her children’s sake. It isn’t until an old colleague makes her a life-changing offer that Nandini realizes she’s spent so much time focusing on being the Perfect Indian Woman, she’s let herself slip away.

Mimi Kadakia failed her daughter, Nandini, in ways she’ll never be able to fix­—or forget. But with her granddaughter, she has the chance to be supportive and offer help when it’s needed. As life begins to pull Nandini and Simran apart, Mimi is determined to be the bridge that keeps them connected, even as she carries her own secret burden. (publisher)

My take:  I loved this story about three generations of women living a modern life with cultural expectations and pressures. From the grandmother in India to her daughter Nandini, a family physician in America, to Nandini’s daughter Simran, ready to finish school and marry the love of her life – all three are on the brink of change.

Saumya Dave had me at page one – completely invested in her characters and the challenges they faced with admirable courage. I was inspired and can’t wait to read more from this talented author. Well-Behaved Indian Women would make a fabulous film.


 

 

Promises Of Tomorrow

Promises of Tomorrow by Shelley Shepard Gray

Expected Pub. date:  July 6, 2020 – Gallery Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Two years have passed since their friend Andy’s death, and the Eight is still struggling to cope with their loss. In an attempt to give the group some time to reconnect with one another, remember their friend, and reflect on the last two years, Marie decides that a relaxing couple’s getaway is just what they need before the craziness of the holiday season begins. When their large cabin in the woods turns out to be more rundown than rustic, though, Marie fears that she’s ruined everything, but at least, she thinks, the trip can’t get any worse—that is, until a lost English girl named Beth appears at the cabin. And with such heavy snow, the Eight is forced to take her in for the next twenty-four hours.

Although Marie feels as if all her planning and good intentions were for nothing, she has no idea that Beth will give the group a gift they didn’t know they needed: the reminder that life may not always be fair and sometimes it’s painful, but there’s always another day. (publisher)

My take:  Normally I don’t read or post about Christmas books in the middle of the year but Promises of Tomorrow published this week so I hope you’ll indulge me. This is a novella and book 4.5 of the Walnut Creek series.

A close-knit group of young married couples (the Eight) still dealing with the death of one of their friends two years previous work through their feelings at a pre-Christmas getaway. Their rental cabin doesn’t quite meet expectations but they make the best of it. The arrival of a young woman during a snowstorm adds a layer of tension but could also be an unexpected blessing.

Tragedy, faith, and the miracle of Christmas all combine in a novella that fans of the Walnut Creek series are sure to enjoy.


About the author:

A practicing Lutheran, Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than eighty novels, translated into multiple languages. In her years of researching the Amish community, she depends on her Amish friends for gossip, advice, and cinnamon rolls. She lives in Colorado with her family and writes full time.


 

No One Saw

No One Saw by Beverly Long

Published:  June 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. Neither the grandmother who dropped her off, nor the teacher whose care she was supposed to be in, can account for the missing child. There are no witnesses. No trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena are under extreme pressure as they discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena will have to race to untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma…before it’s too late. (publisher)

My take:  Baywood, WI police detective A.L. McKittridge is back to work after a relaxing California getaway with the woman in his life, Tess. He and his partner Rena are tasked with finding a missing five-year-old who disappeared from her day care center – a nightmare for everyone involved. I loved catching up with A.L. and Rena after meeting the two in book one, Ten Days Gone. Both are likable characters who deal with life just like everyone. A.L. is a divorced dad of a teenager. Rena is married and is dealing with fertility issues. Together they make a perfect detective team and play off each other in such a way that I’d want them on my side if I ever needed them. Beverly Long’s story moved along over the course of a few days and dealt out several suspects. I thought the resolution was interesting if abrupt. I can’t wait to see what case this detective duo will face next.


About the author:

Beverly Long’s writing career has spanned more than two decades and twenty novels, including TEN DAYS GONE, the first book of her A.L. McKittridge series. She writes romantic suspense with sexy heroes and smart heroines. She can often be found with her laptop in a coffee shop with a cafe au lait and anything made with dark chocolate by her side.

Social Links:


Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

 

 

 


 

The Request

The Request by David Bell

Published:  June 30, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Ryan Francis has it all—great job, wonderful wife, beautiful child—and he loves posting photos of his perfect life on social media. Until the night his friend Blake asks him to break into a woman’s home to retrieve incriminating items that implicate Blake in an affair. Ryan refuses to help, but when Blake threatens to reveal Ryan’s darkest secret—which could jeopardize everything in Ryan’s life—Ryan has no choice but to honor Blake’s request.

When he arrives at the woman’s home, Ryan is shocked to find her dead—and just as shocked to realize he knows her. Then his phone chimes, revealing a Facebook friend request from the woman. With police sirens rapidly approaching, Ryan flees, wondering why his friend was setting him up for murder.
 
Determined to keep his life intact and to clear his name, Ryan must find the real murderer—but solving the crime may lead him closer to home than he ever could have imagined. (publisher)

My take:  The Request is a story of what happens when the past doesn’t stay in the past. In these days of social media the past is only a click away. Ryan thought his friend Blake was one of those people you’re friends with during a certain time of your life. They were roommates in college and share a secret from those days. With a wife and new baby, life is good for Ryan – until Blake contacts him with a specific request. It’s a request Ryan can’t refuse if he wants things to stay the way they are. Ryan’s life might look perfect on Facebook but it could easily get very messy.

This was a twisty mystery! I loved the short chapters that kept me reading “just one more” until I finished (in one day). The Request is the first of David Bell’s books I’ve read and I look forward to checking out his backlist.


 

How The Penguins Saved Veronica

How The Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior

Published:  June 16, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Eighty-five-year-old Veronica McCreedy is estranged from her family and wants to find a worthwhile cause to leave her fortune to. When she sees a documentary about penguins being studied in Antarctica, she tells the scientists she’s coming to visit—and won’t take no for an answer. Shortly after arriving, she convinces the reluctant team to rescue an orphaned baby penguin. He becomes part of life at the base, and Veronica’s closed heart starts to open. 

Her grandson, Patrick, comes to Antarctica to make one last attempt to get to know his grandmother. Together, Veronica, Patrick, and even the scientists learn what family, love, and connection are all about. (publisher)

My take:  How the Penguins Saved Veronica is a lovely story about Veronica McCreedy. She’s on a mission to see penguins up close after watching a television documentary. No one can tell the octogenarian no because once she’s made up her mind there will be no argument. Veronica also wants to meet and get to know her grandson – someone she’s only recently discovered. The two will learn about each other’s past and could possibly grow to be close. This is a delightfully quirky story that had me laughing much of the time. There are also some deeply emotional scenes that gave depth to Veronica and Patrick. I enjoyed it all and loved the message spoken to Veronica by her father when she was a young girl: “There are three types of people in this world, Very. There are those who make the world worse, those who make no difference and those who make the world better. Be one who makes the world better, Very, if you can.”


 

Always The Last To Know

Always The Last To Know by Kristan Higgins

Published:  June 9, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The Frosts are a typical American family. Barb and John, married almost fifty years, are testy and bored with each other…who could blame them after all this time? At least they have their daughters– Barb’s favorite, the perfect, brilliant Juliet; and John’s darling, the free-spirited Sadie. The girls themselves couldn’t be more different, but at least they got along, more or less. It was fine. It was enough.

Until the day John had a stroke, and their house of cards came tumbling down.

Now Sadie has to put her career as a teacher and struggling artist in New York on hold to come back and care for her beloved dad–and face the love of her life, whose heart she broke, and who broke hers. Now Juliet has to wonder if people will notice that despite her perfect career as a successful architect, her perfect marriage to a charming Brit, and her two perfect daughters, she’s spending an increasing amount of time in the closet having panic attacks.

And now Barb and John will finally have to face what’s been going on in their marriage all along.  (publisher)

My take:  Always the Last to Know is the story of the Frost family. Parents Barb and John are unhappy and not thinking about celebrating their upcoming 50th anniversary. Older daughter Juliet lives what most would consider a perfect life so what’s with the frequent panic attacks? Younger daughter Sadie chases her dream of being an artist but pays the bills by teaching art at a grade school and taking orders for sofa paintings. She’s committed to living in New York for her art and that has impacted her personal life more than once. When John suffers a stroke the family is forced to decide what is truly important in their lives. I didn’t think this family seemed typical at all. Most of the time I was annoyed and frustrated by the Frosts and the other characters. It could be where I am in my life – who knows. I’ve enjoyed many of Higgins’ books but something seemed missing in this one.


 

Rough Creek

Rough Creek by Kaki Warner

Expected publication:  July 7, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

After serving eighteen months in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Dalton Cardwell is looking for a fresh start. What better place than Whitcomb Four Star Ranch? He doesn’t regret the decisions of his past–he’d choose the same roads again. But now all Dalton wants is to keep his head down and focus on the horses–and on Raney Whitcomb.

Raney is outraged when she learns her mother hired an ex-con. Raney has worked hard for the ranch, sacrificing her personal life for the dream of building on her family’s legacy. But as Dalton breaks down every misconception and even wins the good opinion of her sisters, Raney is forced to rethink her stance–and finally free herself to explore the heart-pounding tension that simmers between them. (publisher)

My take:  I’m always happy to get in at the start of a series so I didn’t hesitate to read Rough Creek – book one in Kaki Warner’s Brides of Rough Creek series. It’s a contemporary series about a Texas family who own a ranch that specializes in breeding horses. 60 year-old matriarch Coralee Whitcomb decides its time to travel and see the world. Daughter Raney is in charge of running the ranch but before Coralee leaves for a cruise she hires a new horse trainer, Dalton Cardwell. Dalton is fresh out of prison after serving eighteen months for a crime he didn’t commit but chose not to challenge when charged. Raney is appalled at her mom’s decision to hire him but decides to give him a chance. Both Raney and Dalton notice an attraction almost from the start so it was  amusing to watch that situation play out as Raney tried to deny it. Dalton was easy to cheer on – such an honorable man. And Raney was just as honorable if a bit more stubborn. I enjoyed their story and the setting. There’s a lot of horse competition detail so readers who love horses will find that aspect interesting. I’ll be on the watch for book two!