Spotlight: The Secret of Snow

The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 – Graydon House

Content courtesy of Tandem Literary

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Reading Viola Shipman’s novels is like talking to your best friend, and wanting never to hang up the phone.”—Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author

 

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Summer Cottage 

 

The forecast is calling for a reluctant homecoming and regrettable decisions with a strong chance of romance… 

Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist who knows only sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is being replaced by an AI meteorologist, which the youthful station manager reasons “will never age, gain weight, or renegotiate its contract.” The only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is one in a famously non-tropical place—her northern Michigan hometown. 

Unearthing her carefully laid California roots, Sonny returns home and reacclimates to the painfully long, dark winters dominated by a Michigan phenomenon known as lake-effect snow. But beyond the complete physical shock to her system, she’s also forced to confront her past: her new boss, a former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy; more keenly, the death of a younger sister who loved the snow; and the mother who caused Sonny to leave. 

To distract herself from the unwelcome memories, Sonny decides to throw herself headfirst into all things winter to woo viewers and reclaim her success. From sledding and ice fishing to skiing and winter festivals, the merrymaking culminates with the town’s famed Winter Ice Sculpture Contest. Running the events is a widowed father and Chamber of Commerce director, whose genuine love of Michigan, winter, and Sonny just might thaw her heart and restart her life in a way she never could have predicted. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wade Rouse is a popular award-winning memoirist and internationally bestselling author of twelve books, which have been translated into twenty languages and selected as Today show Must-Reads, Indie Next Picks, and Michigan Notable Books. Rouse writes fiction under his grandma’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms inspire his writing. He lives in Michigan and California, and hosts “Wine & Words with Wade, A Literary Happy Hour,” every Thursday live on the Viola Shipman Facebook page.


 

Calling all C.S. Lewis Fans!


BIG NEWS for anyone who is a fan of C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia! New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan (Becoming Mrs. Lewis, Surviving Savannah), together with Harper Muse, is hosting an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime, live, online book club discussion about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This is your chance to join a conversation with the world’s foremost Narnia experts and to ask all the questions you’ve ever wanted answered about our beloved Narnia and its creator, C.S. Lewis.
On Sunday September 19, 2021 at 2pm EasternNew York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan—whose Once Upon a Wardrobe is coming Oct 19th from Harper Muse!—will host this event and welcome two very distinguished guests to join her in talking all about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Joining Patti will be Dr. David C. Downing, the author of Into the Wardrobe and the director of the Marion Wade Center at Wheaton College, as well as Douglas Gresham, the stepson of C. S. Lewis and the only living person to have lived with the esteemed author.
Participants in this virtual book club discussion will be entered for the chance to win fabulous prizes like the complete 7-book Chronicles of Narnia box set and other gifts including a giclee print of original artwork by Caryn Crawford, care of Patti Callahan and Harper Collins.
This event will be an exclusive, one-time, online discussion hosted by Harper Muse, available only to those who have pre-ordered Patti Callahan’s Once Upon a Wardrobe. The link to join the discussion will be emailed to all verified registrants.
Here are the easy steps to follow in order to participate:
  1. Pre-order Once Upon a Wardrobe
  2. Register for the book club via this sign-up form
  3. Wait for the event link in your email a couple days prior to the event.
  4. Click to join the discussion and be entered to win prizes.
Walk through the wardrobe with us!

SIGN UP TODAY! https://bit.ly/TLTWTWbookclub


 


 

The Last Commandment

Description:

A Scotland Yard detective tracks a serial killer from London to New York City

Christmastime in London. When three seemingly unconnected victims are murdered with matching sequential Roman numerals carved into their foreheads, Metropolitan Police Commander Austin Grant finds his answer in one of the last places he’d expect: the Holy Bible. Each of the deaths correspond to a transgression of one of the Ten Commandments, and Grant must find the killer before the remaining Commandments are commemorated with homicides.

Unfortunately for Grant, the next victim with a number on their forehead turns up not in London, but across the pond at the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, turning this English murder case into a transatlantic manhunt spanning two global metropolises, each with its own rich history and culture. Commander Grant must team up with a charming NYPD detective named John Frankel, as well as his own estranged daughter Rachel—a cunning investigative reporter with conflicting feelings about her father.

The Last Commandment is the third novel by acclaimed screenwriter and producer Scott Shepherd, whose decades of television writing experience shine through in the swift pace and character-driven storytelling of this devilishly fun, page-turning mystery. Flipping the “buddy cop” story on its head with a touch of Old Testament fatalism, this twisty tale leads from the seedy back-alleys of Piccadilly to the Grande Dame hotels of Midtown Manhattan and back again. (from the publisher)

My take:

I’m a casual and interested reader of the Mystery genre so when Mysterious Press offered a copy of THE LAST COMMANDMENT I happily accepted. And I’m so glad I did. From the first page I was caught up in the race to find a macabre serial killer (aren’t they all??).

Scott Shepherd’s screenwriting skills shone in this well-paced novel. The principal characters were engaging and had me looking forward to getting back to the book each time life interrupted my reading. I loved the ‘both sides of the Pond’ settings and plot as well as the exciting denouement. As I turned the last page I was hoping for another case for Austin Grant and John Frankel.

About the author:

Scott Shepherd is a veteran writer/producer/show-runner with years of experience running network series; his production and screenwriting credits include The Equalizer, Miami Vice, The Outer Limits, Haven, and Quantum Leap. Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, he currently teaches television writing at the University of Texas in Austin. 

Praise for THE LAST COMMANDMENT:

“Scott Shepherd is a dazzling storyteller, whose authentic and richly textured characters and clever, pulsating plotting captivate. The Last Commandment is a riveting and wondrously satisfying thriller with that all too rare commodity: abundant heart and soul.” – May Cobb, author of THE HUNTING WIVES

“An enthralling mystery that will hook you on the very first page and keep you turning until the last. Shepherd’s signature storytelling is on full display in The Last Commandment.” – Karin Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author of PIECES OF HER

“The intensifying, suspenseful investigation ends in a shocking, made-for-TV reveal…The fast-paced story and twisted villain will appeal to fans of crime dramas.” – Library Journal

“A fast-paced tale that weds its golden-age homage to some serious violence. Sinners beware.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A real corker […] Good idea, expertly executed.” – Booklist

“Written in taut, tight chapters that land like a hail of bullets. You’ll race through this story.” – Brian Freeman, New York Times bestselling author of THE DEEP, DEEP SNOW

“Scott Shepherd is a marvelous storyteller, and The Last Commandment is further proof of his abilities. Smart, funny, and layered with a terrific sense of time and place, the story rockets from one twist to the next while always deepening the questions of family, trust, and the weight of old sins. A gem of a thriller, not to be missed.” – Michael Kortya, New York Times bestselling author of NEVER FAR AWAY

“A twisty, turns, globetrotting tale filled with mystery and suspense.” – F.Paul Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of the REPAIRMAN JACK series.

“Ingeniously constructed and breathlessly told, The Last Commandment is Scott Shepherd at his gripping best.” – Charles Ardai, publisher of Hard Case Crime

Spotlight: Fox & I

I want to spotlight a book that publishes next week (July 6). Fox & I is a memoir that I look forward to reading this summer.

Description:

A wild fox befriends a solitary woman at her home in Montana, and their relationship transforms them both in this inspiring, surprising, and often funny memoir. Both a new window onto the natural world and the introduction of a remarkable literary talent.

Catherine Raven left home at 15, fleeing an abusive, disdainful father and an indifferent mother. More at home in nature than among people, she worked for many years as a National Parks ranger, eventually earning a Ph.D. in biology while working as a janitor and living in her car (which lacked a reverse gear) or on abandoned construction sites. She built a house on an isolated plot of land in Montana, teaching remotely and leading field courses in the National Parks. One day, she realized that the mangy-looking fox who had been appearing on her property was now showing up every day at 4:15, positioning himself near a lone forget-me-not near the house. She had never had a regular visitor before. How do you even talk to a fox? One day she brought out her camping chair, sat as near to him as she dared, and began reading to him from The Little Prince. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphize animals, but as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself—and he became her friend. But friends cannot always save each other from the uncontained forces of nature. Fox and I is also a poignant and dramatic tale of coping with inevitable loss and how that loss can be transformed into meaning. An uplifting, fable-like true story, it not only reveals the power of friendship and our interconnectedness with the natural world but introduces an original, imaginative, stunning new literary voice.

Praise for Fox & I:

“Fox and I will make you feel deeply about our relationship with animals and nature. After you read this book, you will experience animals in a new and marvelous way.” —Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation

“If Thoreau had read The Little Prince, he would have written Fox and I.”—Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi

“Intimate and poetic …. By paying ecstatic attention to grasses, insects, birds, and animals, Catherine Raven allows us to hear what nature is saying to us. Fox and I is essential reading for anyone concerned about the catastrophe human beings are inflicting on the environment from which they and all other creatures sprang.” —Stephen Batchelor, author of The Art of Solitude

“This tale of wilderness, in the tradition of Thoreau and Steinbeck, is distinguished by a narrator who sees herself as one of the many creatures she lives among …. Catherine Raven has achieved something unique in the literature of nature-writing: genuine love for the wild within the rigor of scientific observation. The voice of this story-teller is startlingly original. I read it breathlessly.”— Andrei Codrescu

“Fox and I is a mesmerizing, beautifully written, and entirely unsentimental book about the connection among all things: the author and her fox friend, but also magpies, brown dogs, fawns, voles, and junipers. I learned as much about the meaning of friendship from this book as I have from any work of nonfiction that I’ve ever read.”—Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club

The Newcomer

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews

Description:

In trouble and on the run…

After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me—it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.” 

With a trunkful of emotional baggage…

So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road with her wailing four-year-old niece Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law, but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring—but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel. 

The No Vacancy sign is flashing & the sharks are circling… 

And that’s the good news. Because The Surf, as the regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit flock of retirees and snowbirds who regard this odd-duck newcomer with suspicion and down-right hostility. As Letty settles into the motel’s former storage room, she tries to heal Maya’s heartache and unravel the key to her sister’s shady past, all while dodging the attention of the owner’s dangerously attractive son Joe, who just happens to be a local police detective. Can Letty find romance as well as a room at the inn—or will Joe betray her secrets and put her behind bars? With danger closing in, it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.

My take:

If it’s spring, it’s time for a new Mary Kay Andrews novel – and I never hesitate to read it because I know I’ll be entertained. The Newcomer didn’t disappoint. Letty is on the run with her young niece after finding her sister dead in her home. She can’t let her sister’s ex find her or little Maya. He’s so determined to find Letty and the girl that he puts a bounty out on her. Luck is with them when they find the little beach side motel that Letty’s sister somehow had a connection with. Letty’s world opens up a little with the people who stay there and the family who own the place. I could totally picture the setting, the quirky (some might say cranky) characters, and the handsome cop who might just be able to help Letty. This is just the type of book I love to read at this time of year – whether I’m at the beach or just want to feel like I am. It was a fun read!

About the author:

MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 novels (including Hello, SummerSunset Beach; The High Tide Club; The WeekendersBeach Town; Save the Date; Ladies’ Night; Christmas Bliss; Spring FeverSummer Rental; The Fixer Upper; Deep Dish; Blue Christmas; Savannah Breeze; Hissy Fit; Little Bitty Lies; and Savannah Blues), and one cookbook, The Beach House Cookbook.

A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, she earned a B.A. in journalism from The University of Georgia. After a 14-year career working as a reporter at newspapers including The Savannah Morning News, The Marietta Journal, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she spent the final ten years of her career, she left journalism in 1991 to write fiction.

Her first novel, Every Crooked Nanny, was published in 1992 by HarperCollins. She went on to write ten critically acclaimed mysteries under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. In 2002, she assumed the pen name Mary Kay Andrews with the publication of Savannah Blues. In 2006, Hissy Fit became her first New York Times bestseller, followed by twelve more New York TimesUSA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers. To date, her novels have been published in German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, Hungarian, Dutch, Czech and Japanese.

She and her family divide their time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, GA, where they cook up new recipes in two restored beach homes, The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide—both named after fictional places in Mary Kay’s novels, and both available to rent through Tybee Vacation Rentals. In between cooking, spoiling her grandkids, and plotting her next novel, Mary Kay is an intrepid treasure hunter whose favorite pastime is junking and fixing up old houses.

Surviving Savannah

My daughter Katie is back with a guest review today! 

 

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

Published:  March 2021 – Berkley

Finished copy courtesy of the publisher 

Description:

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah’s society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving. (publisher)

Katie’s take: Patti Callahan’s newest novel ‘Surviving Savannah‘ kept me up reading long past my bedtime and demanded to be finished the next afternoon.  Her vibrant descriptions of both present day Savannah and the antebellum South seemed to pulsate with color, scent, life and love.  I was enveloped by this delightful novel.  I enjoyed the dual timeline thoroughly and could not pick which story line I liked better.  She developed rich characters and gave them room to stretch and grow through tremendous tragedy.  I also appreciate that Ms. Callahan includes an author’s note detailing which parts of her beautiful novel are factual and which are inspired or imagined.


 

The Handmade Charlotte Playbook – Bonus Bundle!

THE HANDMADE CHARLOTTE PLAYBOOK by Atlanta-based artist, frequent TV guest, and nationally syndicated craft authority Rachel Faucett makes the perfect holiday gift for our cooped-up times. The unique 100+ crafts, snacks, and games within these gorgeous pages will inspire kids of all ages to turn off their screens and collaborate, using the ordinary to create the extraordinary. Order the book by Christmas Eve and you’ll be eligible to download the brand new Bonus Bundle with new and never-before-seen projects you can enjoy this holiday season and beyond. If you’ve previously purchased, you’re still eligible to receive the bonus content! Learn more HERE: http://bit.ly/HMCbundle


 

Cover Reveal: The Newcomer

THE NEWCOMER by @Mary Kay Andrews will be making the scene next May as the first beach read of the season! Summer 2020 may be coming to an end, but it’s never too early to plan ahead to next year—and your summer reading! So, mark your calendars for May 4, 2021 when @St. Martin’s Press will release MKA’s 28thnovel! Summer begins—and never ends—with Mary Kay Andrews! Pre-order NOW! http://bit.ly/TheNewcomerBook

 

Description:

Letty can’t forget her sister Tara’s insistence: “if anything bad ever happens to me, it’s Eli. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.” With Tara found dead in her glamorous New York City townhome, Letty Carnahan is on the run with her four-year-old niece, Maya, in tow. Tara left behind one clue—a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel on Florida’s Gulf Coast. So, Letty and Maya find themselves at The Murmuring Surf—the suspicious newcomers amidst a quarrelsome group of snowbird regulars. As Letty tries to settle into her new life and heal Maya’s trauma, she’s preoccupied as her late sister’s troubled past and connection to the motel are revealed. And then there’s that attractive detective and his unwelcome advances. Will he betray Letty’s confidence, or is he her next shot at love?


 

Spotlight: The Book of Lost Names

I’m thrilled to announce that, as of today, THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES (July 21; @Gallery Books), the instant New York Times bestseller by @Kristin Harmel, is back in stock everywhere! If you haven’t read this “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People magazine) yet, now’s your chance to snap it up! Order NOW! Shop local HERE: http://bit.ly/BOLNisBack


SYNOPSIS: Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the New York Timesbestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Timesbestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife. An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.

#TheBookofLostNames #historicalfiction #wwiifiction #kristinharmel #gallerybooks


 

Cover Reveal: Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

SURVIVING SAVANNAH by New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan

Berkley hardcover; on-sale March 9, 2021

Pre-order link: https://bit.ly/3i9VQ4Y

New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan delivers a breathtaking novel based on true events.
It was called “The Titanic of the South”—the luxury steamship that sank in 1838 with Savannah’s elite on board. Through time, their fates were forgotten—until the wreck was found.

Now their story is finally being told.

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who, along with her child, was never found. The women were part of Savannah society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

Perfect for fans of Before We Were Yours, Sold on a Monday, and Orphan Train, Callahan’s highly anticipated novel tells the story of a little known chapter of history that has long deserved a spotlight. This transformative tale told from alternating past and present perspectives will sweep readers away and move them to their core.


Q&A with Patti Callahan

 

What inspired you to write Surviving Savannah?

 

Originally I was inspired by the Pulaski tales of survival, how the city of Savannah was part of this story, and how the Lowcountry was affected by this tragedy. I was also inspired and curious about the transformation of each passenger and the ways that each survivor not only lived through the explosion, but also how they chose to live their lives after the sinking.

How, I wondered, do some come to live better lives and others turn toward bitterness and cruelty? Who do we become after such great loss?

AND then, everything shifted because after a hundred and eighty years, along came a shipwreck hunting crew who found the remains of the Pulaski a hundred feet beneath the waves, thirty miles off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. While the team went deep to bring up the artifacts and treasure of this beautiful ship, I dug deep to bring up the stories.

My exhilarating hunt for the forgotten story began.

 

What kind of research was required to write the novel? Did anything surprise you?

 

The research was as fascinating as it was extensive – from the archives at the Georgia Historical Center in Savannah and the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum to books, newspaper archives, personal accounts and letters, I read everything that I could get my hands on. I devoured books on steamships and Savannah in the 1800’s. I read about the rich history of the colonization of Savannah with General Oglethorpe. I walked the streets of Savannah and visited museums and artifact collections. I interviewed shipwreck experts and became enchanted with the world of wreck salvaging and treasure hunting.

During this journey, I was surprised over and over, but one surprise that opens the novel is the true narrative about a fifteen-year-old passenger named Charles who survived the sinking to become a slave trader with a horrific reputation. As he grew into a man, he earned the nickname “the Red Devil”. How had this young boy survived to become so cruel? I wanted to know.

Finally, after years of research, I put together a complete story of that calamitous night, and one family in particular.

 

Your story follows three women – Lily and Augusta on the ship in 1838, and Everly in present day. Which of the three women did you relate to the most and why?

 

While I was writing each section I always felt the most connected to the woman I was writing about at the moment. I don’t think I felt more for one woman than another but of course our modern-day character, Everly felt more relatable only because I know today’s Savannah and I know today’s southern norms and ideas. The historical narratives were almost two hundred years old, and yet I still felt as close to Lilly and Augusta because their plight and their desires and their inner lives feel familiar. As far as women have come in their roles in society, there is still the struggle for independence and agency. There remains the need to burst through familial and collective norms to build a life of one’s own.

All three women had their own tragedies, hardships and losses to navigate. All three needed to discover how they would make meaning and purpose out of their situation. All three found out what they were truly made of and if they wanted to merely survive or if they wanted to thrive and build new lives.


Advance Digital Copy Giveaways

You can enter for a chance to win an advanced digital review copy of the book here: https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/surviving-savannah-cover-reveal-sweeps

(NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. US Residents, 18+. Ends August 17, 2020. See official rules at official website.)


Add SURVIVING SAVANNAH to your shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54306882-surviving-savannah

 

Visit Patti online: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/surviving-savannah


 

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.


 

US Giveaway: Becoming Mrs. Lewis paperback release

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Paperback release:  March 24, 2020 – Thomas Nelson

Giveaway copy courtesy of Tandem Literary

The new expanded edition includes:

  • a map of Oxford
  • an expanded discussion guide with 20+questions for book clubs
  • a timeline of Jack and Joy’s lives
  • Joy’s (imagined) letter to Jack
  • 10 Things You May Not Know About Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis’s Love Story
  • A behind the scenes essay: Oxford – The City

Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy. 

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had. (publisher)

My take:  Becoming Mrs. Lewis is about Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis – how they met, became friends (kindred spirits, really) and eventually married. It’s a fascinating story that pulled me in and left me a bit emotional as I turned the last page. Theirs was a cerebral relationship that grew passionate in time. Davidman and Lewis had much in common, not the least being a spiritual conversion – the reason for Davidman’s first letter to Lewis, which he answered, much to her surprise. When she travels to England on the advice of her physician Davidman finally meets Lewis in person. The rest, as they say, is history. Patti Callahan’s novel is well-researched (as detailed in her author’s note at the end of the book). I’m a fan of historical fiction and love when an author motivates me to read more about the subject. That was the case with Becoming Mrs. Lewis. I’ve added titles by Davidman and Lewis to my TBR list. Recommended to fans of the genre and Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis. (originally posted on Bookfan on December 26, 2018)


About the author:

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times best-selling author of fifteen novels, including the (Historical Fiction) BECOMING MRS. LEWIS – The improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis. Now a USA TODAY, Publishers Weekly, and The Globe and Mail bestseller. Her latest novel, THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER, (Southern Contemporary Fiction) was released June 4, 2019, and is available now. A full-time author and mother of three children, she now resides in both Mountain Brook, Alabama and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

Connect with Patti Callahan

Website:  patticallahanhenry.com

twitter:  @pcalhenry

Instagram:  @pattichenry

Facebook:  @AuthorPattiCallahanHenry


US Giveaway

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Our Better Angels by Jonathan Reckford

Our Better Angels by Jonathan Reckford

Published:  October 2019 – St. Martin’s Essentials

Book courtesy of the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description:

Inspiring and insightful, Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World celebrates the shared principles that unite and enable us to overcome life’s challenges together.

“When the waters rise, so do our better angels.”—President Jimmy Carter

Jonathan Reckford, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity, has seen time and again the powerful benefits that arise when people from all walks of life work together to help one another. In this uplifting book, he shares true stories of people involved with Habitat as volunteers and future homeowners who embody seven timeless virtues—kindness, community, empowerment, joy, respect, generosity, and service—and shows how we can all practice these to improve the quality of our own lives as well as those around us.

A Vietnam veteran finds peace where he was once engaged in war. An impoverished single mother offers her family’s time and energy to enrich their neighbors’ lives. A Zambian family of nine living in a makeshift tent makes room to shelter even more. A teenager grieving for his mother honors her love and memory by ensuring other people have a place to call home. A former president of the United States leads by example with a determined work ethic that motivates everyone around him to be the best version of themselves.

These stories, and many others, illustrate how virtues become values, how cooperation becomes connection, and how even the smallest act of compassion can encourage actions that transform the world around us. Here are tales that will make readers laugh and cry and embrace with passion the calling of our better angels to change the way we take care of ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world. (publisher)

My take:  The message is simple: kindness, no matter how big or small, will make a positive difference in the world. Time or treasure, no matter how much, will have an effect that is larger than you’d imagine. And its not just felt by the recipient. This compact book is divided into sections: Kindness, Community, Empowerment, Joy, Respect, Generosity, Service. Also included is a helpful resource guide for anyone who wants to get involved in Habitat for Humanity. One could read Our Better Angels all at once but I enjoyed reading a chapter a day.

Put Our Better Angels on your gift list this holiday season – for anyone.


About the author:

Jonathan T.M. Reckford has served as chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International since 2005. Under his leadership, the global housing organization has grown from serving 125,000 individuals per year to more than 7 million people in 2018 alone. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Reckford earned his MBA from Stanford and went on to hold managerial positions at a variety of Fortune 500 companies. Reckford also served as executive pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, Minnesota.


Praise for Our Better Angels:

Our Better Angels brings to light the basic virtues of kindness, generosity, respect, empowerment, community, joy, and service that we all have within us. We are grateful to Jonathan Reckford for sharing such moving stories about transformation, and for showing how easy it is for all of us to choose to help and strengthen others, rather than to hurt and weaken them. This book is for humanity: Read it whether you’re a kid, a grandparent, or anyone in between. It will spark an instant realization of how even the smallest acts of kindness or respect can fundamentally change someone’s path for the better.”

Drew and Jonathan Scott, The Property Brothers

 

“It has been our honor to work with Habitat for Humanity and see these seven virtues in practice. When we look outside of ourselves, we experience a glimpse of who we can be. Jonathan’s book reminds us to love one another. Amazing things happen when we do!”

Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks


 

The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry

The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry

Published: Oct. 2019 – Thomas Nelson

Book courtesy of the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description:  Brothers Jimmy and Jack Sullivan live a nomadic life doing what they love: touring with their band, The Unknown Souls. But Jack’s recent engagement to Kara has everyone looking forward to a Christmas destination wedding in Ireland.

Unlike his brother, Jimmy never expected to fall in love. But he feels a sense of peace and happiness whenever he’s around Kara’s best friend, Charlotte—which has him wondering what he’s missing. Over Thanksgiving, Jimmy and Charlotte write a song while sitting together on the back porch. When the band sings it at a Christmas concert the next night, Jimmy insists it’s the perfect love song—but a manager for another famous duo is adamant that it’s the perfect Christmas song. Before Jimmy knows what’s happening, he’s on tour with the hottest country band around and suddenly everyone knows his name.

But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Jimmy finds himself far away from those he loves—especially Charlotte. Only a Christmas miracle—or two—will be able to lead Jimmy back to Ireland, to his brother, and to love. (publisher)

My take:  Grab a cup of tea and curl up with this love story.  If you read the author’s novel When Light Breaks you’ll be pleased to know that characters from that book are in The Perfect Love Song. Brothers Jimmy and Jack Sullivan are musicians on the rise to fame.  They also happen to love Charlotte and Kara who are best friends. One Christmas Jimmy’s gift to Charlotte is a song that he wrote. That song eventually attracts attention from a concert producer which changes things for the brothers, their band, and most importantly, Jimmy and Charlotte.

This is a light tale of love and forgiveness and the chance that is taken by being open to both.  I enjoyed the magical, almost mythical, tone of the novel. I wasn’t sure who the narrator was until the end but it made sense and made me smile.

If you’re looking for a bit of an escape during the busy holidays, this could be the the right book for you. It was originally published in 2010 and has been brought back with a gorgeous new cover – perfect for gift-giving this season.


About the author:

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author. Patti was a finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, has been an Indie Next Pick, twice an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year. Her work has also been included in short story collections, anthologies, magazines and blogs. Patti attended Auburn University for her undergraduate work, and Georgia State University for her graduate degree. Once a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, she now writes full time. The mother of three children, she lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina, with her husband.


Praise for The Perfect Love Song:

“I fell in love with both Patti Callahan Henry and her work. The Perfect Love Song is a lyrical and heartwarming tale of love and forgiveness. Patti takes you to those places in the heart you didn’t even know you wanted to go.” Pat Conroy, New York Times bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad 

“Patti Callahan Henry’s The Perfect Love Song is a wonderfully romantic and inspiring novel about love and redemption that sings with emotional truth. An essential read by a master storyteller.” —Cassandra King, New York Times bestselling author of Same Sweet Girls 

“Patti Callahan Henry is quickly becoming one of my favorites.” -Debbie Macomber, New York Times bestselling author


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Once Removed by Colette Sartor

Once Removed by Colette Sartor

Published: September 15, 2019 – University of Georgia Press

Book provided by the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description: Women drive the narrative in ONCE REMOVED. They carry the burdens imposed in the name of intimacy: the secrets kept, lies told, disputes initiated and the joy that can still manage to triumph. A singer with a damaged voice and an assumed identity befriends a silent, troubled child; an infertile law professor covets a tenant’s daughterly affection; a new mother tries to shield her infant from her estranged mother’s surprise Easter visit; an aging shopkeeper hides her husband’s decline and a decades-old lie to keep her best friends from moving away. With depth and an acute sense of the fragility of intimate connection, Colette Sartor creates characters that resonate with familiarity and emotional complexity. Some of these women possess the fierce natures and long, vengeful memories of expert grudge holders. Others avoid conflict at every turn, or so they tell themselves. For all of them, grief lies at the core of love. #onceremovedstories.


About the author:

COLETTE SARTOR teaches at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program as well as privately and is an executive director of the CineStory Foundation, a mentoring organization for emerging TV writers and screenwriters. Her writing has appeared in Carve magazine, Slice magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Kenyon Review Online, Colorado Review, and other publications. Among other awards, she has been granted a Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, a Glenna Luschei Award, a Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award, and a Truman Capote fellowship from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she completed her MFA.

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/colettesartor
https://twitter.com/UGAPress

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/colettesartor/
https://www.instagram.com/ugapress/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/colettesartorauthor/
https://www.facebook.com/UGAPress/

Praise for ONCE REMOVED:

“Colette Sartor’s stories shimmer with a radiant, unsettling light. She strips away the veils that we hide behind and exposes our deepest fears and desires, revealing who we inescapably are. The stories are laced with dark humor and raw, earned emotion, and they proceed from page to page with a beautiful urgency. Her prose sings and her wounded characters linger in readers’ memories like people you’ve known, people you could have been had luck gone the other way. This is trenchant, gorgeous fiction, the voice of a writer you’ll follow anywhere, everywhere.” —Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This

“These are short stories the way they were meant to be told, from a writer who, tale after tale, proves her mastery of the form. Peopled with characters that are bracingly complex, these stories tease out the subtleties of human relationships, especially when they’ve gone awry. I was absorbed and moved from every first sentence to the last.” —Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

“Lordy, what a wallop each of these stories delivers—to the heart and the head, sure, but also to the conscience and the soul, not to mention to the myths of family that we embrace and to the vital lies peculiar to love that we cleave to. Equally stunning is Ms. Sartor’s command of craft—no cleverness for its own sake, no peekaboo, no ‘Look, Ma, no hands.’ Instead, with enviable humility and no little grace, she has subordinated herself to the needs, wishes, desires, and dreams of characters who have galvanized her imagination and engaged her empathy. Bravo.” — Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories

Once Removed is that rare book that succeeds on both micro and macro levels; the stories focus on the specific intimacy of individual lives yet also participate in the larger project of a whole world made of these stories—dependent on them, in fact, supported and enlarged and sustained by them. Sartor’s women suffer the internal and external scarring of the dangerous terrain they navigate: love, family, self, community. They ask uncomfortable questions, both of themselves and of the reader; it’s hugely satisfying to reach the end of the book and feel the resonant strength of the answers it proposes.” — Antonya Nelson, author of Bound


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Paperback published June 4, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and Tandem Literary

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.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget. (publisher)

My take: (originally published October 1, 2018)

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.


Praise for THE DREAM DAUGHTER:

“This mind-bender of a novel will keep you glued to the page.”—People Magazine

“We may forget how different life was in 1970, but imagine being thrust from those days to 2013. Diane Chamberlain does in this terrific novel.”—NJ.com, Top Ten Books of 2018

“Chamberlain stretches her sense of familial relationships with toe-curling suspense in new directions, weaving in elements of trust, history, and time as she explores the things we do for love. With a little tension and a lot of heart, The Dream Daughter will delight.”—Booklist

“Chamberlain writes with supernatural gifts akin to those she chronicles in the book, seamlessly weaving time travel and global events into a credible and gut-wrenching family saga. Fate, destiny, chance and hope combine for a heady and breathless wonder of a read.”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale**

“Can a story be both mind-bending and heartfelt? In Diane Chamberlain’s hands, it can. The Dream Daughter will hold readers in anxious suspense until the last satisfying page.”—Therese Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z*

“Rich and breathtaking.”—Woman’s World

The Dream Daughter is a heartwarming and exciting page turner.”—Augusta Chronicle 

“Chamberlain’s exciting and heartfelt novel is a page-turning crowd-pleaser.”—Publishers Weekly

“The story is well-paced and the ending satisfyingly sweet.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An entertaining chick-lit adventure.”—Wilmington Star-News


About the author:

Diane Chamberlain is the international bestselling author of 25 novels. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie.

Connect:

Website: https://dianechamberlain.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Diane.Chamberlain.Readers.Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/d_chamberlain
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chamberlain_diane/


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