Hello, Summer

Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews

Published:  May 5, 2020 – St. Martin’s Press

Review copy courtesy of the publisher, Tandem Literary, NetGalley

Description:

It’s a new season…

Conley Hawkins left her family’s small town newspaper, The Silver Bay Beacon, in the rearview mirror years ago. Now a star reporter for a big-city paper, Conley is exactly where she wants to be and is about to take a fancy new position in Washington, D.C. Or so she thinks.

For small town scandals…

When the new job goes up in smoke, Conley finds herself right back where she started, working for her sister, who is trying to keep The Silver Bay Beacon afloat—and she doesn’t exactly have warm feelings for Conley. Soon she is given the unenviable task of overseeing the local gossip column, “Hello, Summer.”

And big-time secrets.

Then Conley witnesses an accident that ends in the death of a local congressman—a beloved war hero with a shady past. The more she digs into the story, the more dangerous it gets. As an old heartbreaker causes trouble and a new flame ignites, it soon looks like their sleepy beach town is the most scandalous hotspot of the summer. (publisher)

My take: I’d intended to read this book on the beach in Florida but the universe had other plans. I’m happy to say this book is the perfect escape during these days of quarantine. I love how it started with Conley’s going away party in Atlanta – only to find out the job she was going to Washington D.C. for has disappeared before she had a chance to head north. Her only choice is to head home to the small Florida town where she grew up. Her grandmother lets Conley know that she is expected to pitch in and help her sister at the struggling weekly newspaper owned by her family. Hello, Summer is filled with family dynamics, quirky characters, a juicy political story for Conley to chase, and a flame from her past. Which is to say it’s my kind of book. A perfect beach read, quarantine read, or wherever read. I really enjoyed it and recommend to fans of Mary Kay Andrews.


 

Westering Women by Sandra Dallas

Westering Women by Sandra Dallas

Published:  January 2020 – St. Martin’s Press

Finished copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

From the bestselling author of Prayers for Sale, Sandra Dallas’ Westering Women is an inspiring celebration of sisterhood on the perilous Overland Trail

“If you are an adventuresome young woman of high moral character and fine health, are you willing to travel to California in search of a good husband?”

It’s February, 1852, and all around Chicago, Maggie sees postings soliciting “eligible women” to travel to the gold mines of Goosetown. A young seamstress with a small daughter, she has nothing to lose. She joins forty-three other women and two pious reverends on the dangerous 2,000-mile journey west.

None are prepared for the hardships they face on the trek or for the strengths they didn’t know they possessed. Maggie discovers she’s not the only one looking to leave dark secrets behind. And when her past catches up with her, it becomes clear a band of sisters will do whatever it takes to protect one of their own. (publisher)

My take:  Westering Women is the story of a group of women who left Chicago in 1852 and headed to California with the goal of finding a husband. They were warned by the ministers leading the group that it would be an arduous journey. Almost to a woman the challenges didn’t worry them as much as the hardships they left behind in Chicago. At least, that’s what they thought at first.

Sandra Dallas put me in the story as part of the group and it was easy to feel the harsh environment of the experience. She brought to life several women who assumed leadership roles and faced obstacles head on. I appreciated the Acknowledgements that included her sources for the Overland Trail. Westering Women is a good story and I recommend it to fans of historical fiction about the American West.


 

Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Published:  November 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description: Daniel Mayrock’s life is at a crossroads. He knows the following to be true:

1. He loves his wife Jill… more than anything.
2. He only regrets quitting his job and opening a bookshop a little (maybe more than a little)
3. Jill is ready to have a baby.
4. The bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent. Dan doesn’t know how to fix it.
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble.
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.

This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances:

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. He doesn’t want to live in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker; his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to do anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life. (publisher)

My take:  It’s so tempting to write my thoughts about this book in a list because I just spent a few hours reading a book that is written in lists. I’m kind of tired of lists. That said, I liked the idea of the novel. My feelings about Dan the list maker ranged from sympathetic, annoyed, horrified, back to sympathetic, relieved. I enjoyed the secondary characters (Dan’s wife, his new friend Bill, his employee Steve). I mention them because it surprised me to connect to them only through list mentions. This is the first book by Matthew Dicks that I’ve read and I will look into reading more.  Recommended to people looking for something a little different in fiction.


About the author:

Matthew Dicks is a writer and elementary school teacher. He has been published in the Hartford Courant, featured at the Books on the Nightstand retreat, and is a Moth StorySLAM champion. He is the author of four previous novels, Something Missing, Unexpectedly Milo, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, an international bestseller, and The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages. Dicks lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife Elysha, and their two children.

Meet Matthew Dicks:

11/20   That Book Store – Wethersfield, CT

11/21    Simsbury Public Library – Simsbury, CT

11/22    RJ Julia – Madison, CT

11/23   Connecticut Historical Society – Hartford, CT


 

Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston

Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston

Expected publication:  October 22, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston’s The Little Shop of Found Things was called “a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with its sequel, Secrets of the Chocolate House.

After her adventures in the seventeenth century, Xanthe does her best to settle back into the rhythm of life in Marlborough. She tells herself she must forget about Samuel and leave him in the past where he belongs. With the help of her new friends, she does her best to move on, focusing instead on the success of her and Flora’s antique shop.

But there are still things waiting to be found, still injustices needing to be put right, still voices whispering to Xanthe from long ago about secrets wanting to be shared.

While looking for new stock for the shop, Xanthe hears the song of a copper chocolate pot. Soon after, she has an upsetting vision of Samuel in great danger, compelling her to make another journey to the past.

This time she’ll meet her most dangerous adversary. This time her ability to travel to the past will be tested. This time she will discover her true destiny. Will that destiny allow her to return home? And will she be able to save Samuel when his own fate seems to be sealed? (publisher)

My take:  Xanthe and her mother are new proprietors of an antiques shop and they must find enough stock to be ready for holiday shoppers to make a success of their business. Xanthe is well-suited to this job because interesting objects ‘speak’ to her. In the first book of the series it was a chatelain from the 1600s that took Xanthe on the adventure of a lifetime. Now, in the second book, Xanthe isn’t sure she wants another adventure but when she touches a recently acquired chocolate pot she envisions the man she met the first time she travelled. She realizes she may not have a choice whether or not to return to him. At the same time her ex-boyfriend turns up and instantly reminds her of why he’s an ex. Xanthe is faced with decisions and choices in the current day as well as a few centuries earlier. It all added up to an enjoyable time travel that left me looking forward to the next book in the Found Things series.


 

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Pub. date:  August 13, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew—even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because love is girly, and it’s not her thing. And don’t forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…and it means risking it all—the only job she’s ever loved, and the hero she’s worked like hell to become. (publisher)

My take: On the night Cassie is to receive a top honor at her firefighter banquet life throws her a curveball and changes her career path.

Things You Save in a Fire is about forgiveness. As Cassie’s perspective evolved about events that happened ten years earlier, it was easy to hope that some well-deserved happiness would come her way. But first she would need to learn to forgive.

Katherine Center succeeded in making me feel the frustration of being new and female in a formerly all male firehouse and she had me flying through the pages of the breathtaking firefighter scene near the end of the novel.

A quick and enjoyable read which is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Center.


 

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

Publication date:  July 9, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Following her father-in-law’s sudden death, Joanna Rafferty Collier begrudgingly moves into her husband’s family home – the venerable and imposing Brynmor – hoping to get her marriage back on solid ground and provide comfort to her grieving mother-in-law, Susannah Parrish Collier. But her mother-in-law is less than welcoming, enigmatic, and intimidating, and the months of living at Brynmor in forced companionship and congeniality, largely without her husband by her side, have begun to take their toll on Joanna. She’s been greeted, instead, by hints of tragedies past: Whose baby is buried in the unmarked grave? And what happened to Susannah’s one true love? Slowly, Joanna comes to understand that her mother-in-law is not the impenetrable woman she thought she was, but a fragile one, harboring a lifetime of secrets.  (publisher)

My take: The publisher’s description tells everything you need to know. At least it was all I wanted to know going in. What I found is a really good story that kept me reading long into the night. Told in alternating perspectives of Joanna in the 1960s and Susannah in the 1920s, Bethlehem is the story of two women and their secrets and the cost of keeping those secrets. Not wanting to risk a spoiler I will just say I would recommend Bethlehem to fans of romantic historical fiction, family sagas and, ultimately, a well-told tale. I really liked it and won’t hesitate to read whatever Karen Kelly writes next.


Praise for Bethlehem:

“Mystery, first love, and long-held secrets fold together in this atmospheric tale of a family coming to a long overdue reckoning… and finding a way to rise from the aftermath.” – Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

“With delicate and insightful prose, Karen Kelly sweeps us into the psyches of two deeply entwined families as their lives – and secrets- unravel. A haunting debut, Bethlehem will pull you in from start to finish, and leave you grappling with the timeless quandary of when to bury the truth, and when to confront it.” – Georgia Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones


About the author:

Karen Kelly has a BA in English from Vanderbilt University, and lives in Edina, Minnesota. She is also the author of Prospice.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackson by Emily March

Jackson by Emily March

Published: June 25, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Sometimes it takes a new beginning
Caroline Carruthers thinks she buried her dreams along with the love of her life…until a stranger named Celeste dares her to chase a dream all on her own. Moving to Redemption, Texas, is chapter one in Caroline’s new life story. Opening a bookstore is the next. Finding love is the last thing on her mind as she settles into this new place called home. But when she meets a handsome, soulful man who’s also starting over, all bets are off.

to reach a happily-ever-after
Jackson McBride came to Redemption looking only to find himself, not someone to love. Ever since his marriage ended, he’s been bitter. Sure, he used to believe in love—he even has the old song lyrics to prove it—but the Jackson of today is all business. That is, until a beautiful young widow who’s moved to town inspires a change of heart. Could it be that the myth of Redemption’s healing magic is true…and Jackson and Caroline can find a second chance at a happy ending after all? (publisher)

My take: Jackson is Emily March’s newest offshoot from her Eternity Springs series. The setting is Texas and will involve the McBride cousins, all who seem to be haunted by their pasts. Jackson has an ex-wife who just won a custody battle and he’s distraught over not being able to have contact with his daughter. His cousins convince him to return to Texas and a new business opportunity. That’s where he meets Caroline who also has come out of an emotionally draining time ending in the death of her husband. She’s ready for a fresh start. Jackson and Caroline find Redemption, Texas a perfect place to begin their next chapters. As in March’s other books the conduit to change is Celeste – a lady who knows a lot about everyone to the point of knowing what’s best for them and she has the ability to convince people to take her advice. Well, Celeste shows up in Redemption to help her cousin do what Celeste does in Eternity Springs. Their back and forth added some levity to the novel. I liked this book and am interested in reading the next because of the way things left off with Jackson’s cousin and one of Caroline’s close friends.



					

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

Published:  May 21, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review galley from the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.

Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home. (publisher)

My take:  Erica Bauermeister’s novels are sensual journeys. The Scent Keeper is about scent, memory and what they tell us about our past and the people in our lives. It is the story of Emmeline. We meet her as a young girl living on an island with her father. It’s an idyllic life until things change. She finds herself thrust into world so different and yet she tries to adapt. She’ll learn who to trust and find a way to survive in this new life. That will serve her well for what lies ahead on her journey of discovery.

Will Emmeline be able to hang onto the important aspects of her early years as the world opens in ways she never expected?  During all those years of living with her father on the island – where was her mother? Will her magical relationship with scent feel the effect of all the changes? As Emmeline discovers answers to her questions she’ll come to understand what’s truly important. As I read The Scent Keeper I would occasionally pause to think about the important scents of my life and what they mean to me now. That made for a very personal and enjoyable reading experience.


About the author:

Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Photo Credit: Susan Doupé 
Buy links:

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Pub. date:  May 7, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

ARC provided by the publisher, Tandem Literary, NetGalley

Description:

Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist.

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews’ signature wit, heart, and charm. (publisher)

My take:  Drue Campbell is a thirty-something woman at loose ends.  Her mother recently died, she lost her job, and an injury has ended her favorite hobby. Just when it doesn’t seem like life can get any worse she is forced to accept a job offer from her estranged father. On the bright side, she discovers that she’s inherited her grandparents’ cottage on Sunset Beach. So at least she has a roof over her head – or a partial roof. Working at her father’s personal injury law office could expand Drue’s horizons and perhaps her non-existent dating life. She’ll find a future she’d never thought possible. Mary Kay Andrews filled her latest novel with interesting characters, a sunny Florida Gulf Coast setting, and a mystery or two that might involve someone close to Drue. I really enjoyed Sunset Beach and hope for a sequel. The possibilities for Drue and company are endless.


About the author:

Mary Kay Andrews is The New York Times bestselling author of The High Tide Club, The Beach House Cookbook, The Weekenders, Beach Town, Save the Date, Ladies’ Night, Christmas Bliss, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former journalist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Connect with MKA:

Website: https://marykayandrews.com
Newsletter: https://marykayandrews.com/newsletters/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marykayandrewsauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marykayandrews/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mkayandrews
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21387.Mary_Kay_Andrews


 

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

April 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review copy provided by the publisher

Description: Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game―and his heart―to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins. (publisher)

My take: The Girl He Used To Know is the story of Annika and Jonathan. They dated in college and then went their separate ways afterward. Ten years later they run into each other in the grocery store and decide to get to know each other again. But this is much more than a second chance at love story. Early on Jonathan discovers there’s something a bit different about Annika. What is revealed is that she’s an amazing person. She’s very intelligent, a great chess player, and quite beautiful. She also misses social cues to a degree that makes most others uncomfortable. The author addresses this pointedly late in the novel. I don’t want to say more because it’s interesting to experience the character development as the novel progresses. The Girl He Used To Know is a story of unconditional love and about finding one’s strengths and potential while facing extraordinary challenges. I quite liked it and look forward to reading more of this author’s work.


About the author:

Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.


 

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Pub. date:  Feb. 5, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review galley from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley

Description:

Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit—in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child.

What Liza sees next will change everything.

Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side—but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw.

Or is there?

In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own.

And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.

But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

Forget You Know Me is a “twisty, emotionally complex, powder keg of a tale” (bestselling author Emily Carpenter) about the wounds of people who’ve grown apart. Best friends, separated by miles. Spouses, hardened by neglect. A mother, isolated by pain.

One moment will change things for them all. (publisher)

My take:  When longtime friends Molly and Liza finally find time in their busy lives to connect via video chat something happens that will have far-reaching consequences. Molly is married and mother of two small children. Her husband Daniel has grown weary of her attempts to find a cure for her chronic pain. Feeling unsupported Molly is pulled in other directions – one being a new neighbor (a recent widower) and his toddler. She has secrets she keeps from her husband that could prove to be her undoing. I grew a bit anxious just learning about Molly’s secrets. But Daniel has secrets of his own.

Molly is going through a huge life change forced by a catastrophic event. It will force her to question so many things she once thought unshakable. Will she have the courage to move forward?

Forget You Know Me is about messy relationships made messier by life and the inability to work things out or know when its time to call it a day. I liked it and have to add that the final chapters really upped my satisfaction with the resolution. As one would hope, right? Recommended to fans of novels about messy emotional and moral entanglements that just might result in second chances.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Master Of His Fate

Master Of His Fate by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Publication date:  November 20, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Book provided by the publisher

Description:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford comes the first book in a stunning new historical saga.

Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer, who spends his days working at his father’s market stall, is determined to become a merchant prince. Even as a child, he is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. James quickly rises through the ranks, proving himself both hardworking and trustworthy, and catching the eye of Henry Malvern, head of the most prestigious shipping company in London. But when threats against his reputation – and his life – begin to emerge, James will have to prove that he truly is the master of his fate.

Through scandal and romance, tragedy and triumph, the Falconer and Malvern family’s lives intertwine in unexpected ways in this expansive and intricately detailed new novel filled with drama, intrigue, and Bradford’s trademark cast of compelling characters. (publisher)


About the author:

Barbara Taylor Bradford was born and brought up in England and started her writing career as a journalist. She has written thirty international bestsellers. MASTER OF HIS FATE is her thirty-third novel. In 2007, Queen Elizabeth awarded her the OBE (Order of the British Empire) for her literary achievements. She lives in New York with her husband, TV and film producer Robert Bradford.


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The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

Published October 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

An antique shop haunted by a ghost.
A silver treasure with an injustice in its story.
An adventure to the past she’ll never forget.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. When she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.

It is while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century where it has its origins. She discovers there is an injustice in its history. The spirit that inhabits her new home confronts her and charges her with saving her daughter’s life, threatening to take Flora’s if she fails.

While Xanthe fights to save the girl amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave. (publisher)

My take:  Xanthe and her mother are moving to Marlborough and opening an antiques shop – hoping for a major reboot of their life. When Xanthe buys a beautiful chatelaine she finds that not only is it a lovely piece but it will transport her to another time (1600s Marlborough) and the reality of a young girl who needs her help. Xanthe will make good use of her highly developed intuitive sense – at least that is the hope of one contentious specter who inhabits the antiques shop. Will Xanthe be able to accomplish her task and save her own mother from the wrath of the spirit? You’ll have to read to find out.

The Little Shop of Found Things is the first in a new series and recommended to fans of time travel and novels about fresh starts.


 

The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

Published October 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

In the newest novel from internationally-bestselling author Ronald. H. Balson, Liam and Catherine come to the aid of an old friend and are drawn into a property dispute in Tuscany that unearths long-buried secrets

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.(publisher)

My take: When Catherine and Liam (married attorney and investigator) go to Italy to help a friend’s aunt with a property dispute they wind up with a decades old mystery to solve in addition to the original reason for travel. The story moves back and forth from 1930s Germany and Italy to 2017 Italy slowly winding it’s way to the solution of the mystery. The plight of the Jews in Germany plays out in the storyline of a young musician, Ada and her family. I knew where the story would go but was unsure of the Italian connection. I’ve read many historical fiction novels written about this era. The Girl From Berlin is a bit different but also similar in its heartbreaking events. The legal mystery was interesting. I especially appreciated the music aspect of the plot. Recommended to fans of historical fiction and the author. This book is the 5th installment of the Liam Taggert and Catherine Lockhart series but easily stands alone.


 

Spotlight on: The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

Pub. date: October 16, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Publisher’s description:

New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter, Paula Brackston, returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to start a new series that will enchant her audience more than ever before. THE LITTLE SHOP OF FOUND THINGS tells the captivating story of a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical journey.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.

It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she’s confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.

While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.

With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, THE LITTLE SHOP OF FOUND THINGS is set to be a strong, whimsical start to this new series.


About the author:

Paula Brackston is the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter, The Winter Witch, The Midnight Witch, The Silver Witch, and The Return of the Witch. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from Lancaster University in the UK. She lives in Wales with her family.


Praise for Paula Brackston and THE LITTLE SHOP OF FOUND THINGS:

“A solid, enjoyable read with a hint of magical time travel.” – Booklist

“Brackston wonderfully blends history with the time-travel elements and a touch of romance. This series debut is a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments.” – Publishers Weekly

“Fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander collection will delight in Brackston’s new series and eagerly await its second installment. A bewitching tale of love across centuries.” – Kirkus


 

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

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

Review copy from the publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Rush by Lisa Patton

Rush: A Novel by Lisa Patton

Pub. date:  August 21, 2018

St. Martin’s Press

Review copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Press; Tandem Literary

Description:  Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali’s chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she’s hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.

When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it’s all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid—no matter what.

For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her “babies” like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever.

Achingly poignant, yet laugh-out-loud funny, RUSH takes a sharp nuanced look at a centuries-old tradition while exploring the complex, intimate relationships between mothers and daughters and female friends. Brimming with heart and hope for a better tomorrow, RUSH is an uplifting novel universal to us all. (publisher)

My take:  The publisher’s description will tell you about Rush better than I can. What I can tell you is that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It reminded me a bit of The Help at times. Although I’ve never been part of the Greek system experience, one of my daughters has and she read the book before I did. It was fun to discuss her take on the book. She really liked it and will recommend it to some of her ‘sisters’. Lisa Patton’s characters were memorable – even the over-the-top Lilith Whitmore – but my favorites were Miss Pearl, Cali and Ellie. Pearl was the shining beacon that signaled goodness and faith to the young women of Alpha Delta Beta. Cali and Ellie are the new generation of students who see things a bit differently than some of those before them – and aren’t afraid to show it. If you’re looking for a good read in the last few weeks of summer this could be the book for you. I’m glad I had the chance to read it.


Praise for RUSH:

“There’s not a better Southern author today than Lisa Patton. Her delightful new book is a modern look at what is perhaps the most sacred of all Southern rituals: sorority rush at ‘Ole Miss.’ Happily for us, Patton captures to absolute perfection the hilarity, hysteria and heartbreak of it all. Funny, touching and full of twists and turns, I couldn’t have loved it more.” – Fannie Flagg, New York Times bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

“You are in for a treat as the astute Lisa Patton takes you on a hayride through sorority life in the American south. Written with humor, reverence and enough treachery to make it read, RUSH is a magnificent story about mothers and daughters, legacy and tradition and the abiding strength of the sisterhood. Grab the punch bowl and the mixed nuts as this animal house goes crackers. You will love it!” – Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of Kiss Carlo

“RUSH transports us smack dab into the middle of the secret world of sorority rush. We find ourselves behind the scenes with a provocative peek into the world of sorority sisters and the beloved House staff who work tirelessly on their behalf. Lisa Patton has penned a powerful and relevant story infused with raw emotion and the beating heart of her sassy humor.” – Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop at Water’s End


About the author:

Lisa Patton is the bestselling author of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter, Yankee Doodle Dixie, Southern as a Second Language, and Rush. Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Lisa spent time as a Vermont innkeeper until three sub-zero winters sent her speeding back down South. A proud graduate of the University of Alabama, Lisa is the mother of two sons, and a furry daughter named Rosie. She and her husband live in the lush, rolling hills of Nashville.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Summer I Met Jack

The Summer I Met Jack: A Novel by Michelle Gable

St. Martin’s Press – May 2018

Description: (provided by the publisher)

“[The Summer I Met Jack] offers an alternate Kennedy family history that will leave readers wondering whether America knew the real JFK at all.” —Kirkus Reviews

New York Times bestselling author imagines the affair between John F. Kennedy and Alicia Corning Clark – and the child they may have had.

Based on a real story – in 1950, a young, beautiful Polish refugee arrives in Hyannisport, Massachusetts to work as a maid for one of the wealthiest families in America. Alicia is at once dazzled by the large and charismatic family, in particular the oldest son, a rising politician named Jack.

Alicia and Jack are soon engaged, but his domineering father forbids the marriage. And so, Alicia trades Hyannisport for Hollywood, and eventually Rome. She dates famous actors and athletes and royalty, including Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, and Katharine Hepburn, all the while staying close with Jack. A decade after they meet, on the eve of Jack’s inauguration as the thirty-fifth President of the United States, the two must confront what they mean to each other.

The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable is based on the fascinating real life of Alicia Corning Clark, a woman who J. Edgar Hoover insisted was paid by the Kennedys to keep quiet, not only about her romance with Jack Kennedy, but also a baby they may have had together.


About the author:

Michelle Gable is the New York Times Bestselling author of A PARIS APARTMENT, I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS and THE BOOK OF SUMMER. Her fourth book, THE SUMMER I MET JACK, is based on the real-life romance between Jack Kennedy and Alicia Darr.

Michelle grew up in San Diego and attended The College of William & Mary, where she majored in accounting, as most aspiring writers do. After a twenty-year career in finance, Michelle now writes full-time. She lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with her husband, two daughters, and what is quickly becoming a menagerie: one cat, one bunny, and a lab/jindo mix recently rescued from the dog meat trade in Thailand.

Michelle can be reached at www.michellegable.com or on Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest at @MGableWriter.


US Giveaway

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