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


 

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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

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED


 

Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

St. Martin’s Press:  July 24, 2018

Review galley from the publisher and NetGalley

 

Description:  Willa has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief.

Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market.

When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back.

To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son. (publisher)

My take:  Willa’s husband Ben died unexpectedly leaving her to raise their fourteen year old son Jamie. Now, three years later, they are back at their beach house with the intention of getting it ready to sell. Willa is unprepared for seeing Ben again but there he is – or at least a version of him is there and he has a reason for appearing. Willa and Jamie have been stuck since his death and he wants to encourage Willa toward her new future. She has to grapple with all the emotions you’d imagine. This is a bittersweet novel that made me think about how I’d handle things if I were in Willa’s position. I found her reactions and feelings believable. I felt so sad for Jamie and then cheered him on as he began to move through his grief. With the help of their long-time friends Kristin and her daughter Kelsey, the future seems less daunting for Willa and Jamie. There are moments of such sadness balanced by lighter, more humorous scenes making it an emotional reading experience for me. I’m glad I had the chance to read it.


About the author:

BETH HARBISON is The New York Times bestselling author of One Less Problem Without YouIf I Could Turn Back TimeDriving with the Top DownChose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger; When In Doubt, Add Butter; Always Something There To Remind Me; Thin, Rich, Pretty; Hope In A Jar; Secrets of a Shoe Addict; and Shoe Addicts Anonymous. She grew up in Potomac, Maryland, outside Washington, DC, and now shares her time between that suburb, New York City, and a quiet home on the eastern shore.


 

The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

Finished copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

Description:  Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.

Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works – come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.

Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets? (publisher)

My take:  With her life determined by the adults when she was a young girl, Loveday grows up relying on no one but herself and her love of books. As a young adult aging out of the foster system she found comfort in the used bookstore where she got a job that paid the rent for a bed sit and gave her access to books. She’s always on her guard knowing only she can protect herself from what life can deal out. Equal parts charming, sad, humorous and life-affirming The Lost for Words Bookshop is filled with quirky characters who hold their own secrets. I enjoyed it all and recommend it to bibliophiles and people who love a love story. Discussion questions and a conversation with the author are included at the end.


About the author:

Stephanie Butland lives with her family near the sea in the northeast of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she’s not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet.


Praise for The Lost For Words Bookshop:

“The latest from Butland is an appealing novel about love’s many forms and the power of books. Rich characterizations, a vibrant bookstore setting, and several poignant Wednesday poetry nights will have readers hoping for a sequel.” – Publishers Weekly

“Witty and irreverent…a bibliophile’s delight.” – Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

“Burns fiercely with love and hurt. A rare and beautiful novel.” – Linda Green, bestselling author of While My Eyes Were Closed

“Filled with mystery and intrigue, Butland’s latest takes readers on a literary journey via chapters that jump through time and are named for distinct genres of crime, poetry, history and travel. Lovers of literature will enjoy this mix of contemporary women’s fiction and mystery.” – Library Journal